Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.4)

I’ve had this 4th and last part of my Noteworthy Report «all the great albums of 2017 I didn’t get to talk about» for quite some time on my HDD, but for one reason or another I didn’t have the energy to actually go finish the finer details that go hand in hand with actually posting a NWR. However, with March marching to an end, I knew I had to act, mostly because in this specific part you will find what I believe is THE best album of 2017, and not posting it would really be a shame. Without further ado I give you the Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 pt. 4/4.

 

Ars Magna Umbrae – Through Lunar Gateways

Magnificent Black Metal that marries the best parts of the melodic, the experimental and the occult. If you weren’t listening to this, what DID you do this summer?

 

Inferno – Gnosis Kardias (Of Transcension and Involution)

On the surface this is yet another black metal album, but it is mixed in such a bizarre and profound way that makes it more of an experience than just a listen. Add the psychedelic Septicflesh-y elements that are subtly woven in and get ready for a trip to another cosmos. If you’re still in doubt, it bears the mark of W.T.C. Productions, and this alone is a testament of its superior quality.

 

Ashenspire – Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary

This has got to be the ABSOLUTELY BEST album I heard in 2017. The bastard offspring of Ved Buens Ende and Primordial is filled with theatrical vocals, brilliant riffs, epic marches and the sickly medieval atmosphere of rainy England.

 

Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven

WITTR return with what appears to be their most primitive and aggressive album so far. The shamanistic aesthetics and their crystalline melodies are still here, they just left more room for pure black metal to blossom. Even if you never liked them before, you HAVE to give this album a chance.

 

ÆRA – Of Foresworn Vows

90’s Norwegian Black Metal, only produced in the Americas. Early Gehenna / Emperor come to mind. Short and to the point. Invest!

 

Diablery / Shadowcraft – Entropy

Last but certainly not least, a split by two Greek bands that are slowly but steadily making a name in the scene. Diablery play cold, symphonic Black Metal that has a Scandinavian quality and influences (from early Gehenna all the way to modern-day Dimmu Borgir). Shadowcraft on the other hand are also symphonic but on a more Pagan trajectory and at points they really reminded me of Limbonic Art. This release sure deserves your attention.

 

Thus closes the circle. 2017 proved to be an amazing year for black metal. Let’s wait and see if this year can match it…

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Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.3)

2017 is now officially behind us. And it was a terrible and deadly year for people of the arts and especially musicians. Let’s hope 2018 won’t be such an asshole. Have a great new year everyone!

But enough with the idle chatter, let’s push ahead for the 3rd part of Tragon’s “Noteworthy Report – All of the albums that I felt deserved your attention this year but was so slow to publish that you’re now going to listen in 2018”. Shall we?

 

Dawn Ray’d – The Unlawful Assembly

The Unlawful Assembly” is an album that came thundering straight from the underground. The trio from Liverpool put out an impressive debut album. Fierce melodic black metal enhanced with folk moments that really give it a special character. Don’t let that one unheard.

 

Blaze of Perdition – Conscious Darkness

This one doesn’t really need introductions. 4th studio album by the Finnish outfit, less pompous and noticeably slower than their “Near Death Revelations”, it actually felt like a sequel to Behemoth’s “The Satanist”. Blaze of Perdition have meticulously crafted their sound over the years, so any surprises are guaranteed to be pleasant ones.

 

Grima – Tales of the Enchanted Woods

Atmospheric Black metal that you can hardly believe is Russian. Multifaceted compositions, vocal variety and weird folk instruments are some of the bonus points, but even without them the album can satisfy any USBM fan without really trying. What are you waiting for? Buy it!

 

Raventale – Planetarium

Everyone knows that an EoY list without any Ukrainian Black Metal album is not a real list. Raventale is a one-man band that has managed to release 8 albums in 11 years. That is a feat not many bands can achieve. With “Planetarium” they offer almost 40 minutes of mesmerizing, melodic, atmospheric Black Metal that includes some of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard all year. Listen for yourselves!

 

Aosoth – V: The Inside Scriptures

Aosoth is one of those bands that never disappoint. Their brand of black metal is part dissonant (they are part of the French scene, so what else?) and part occult, somewhat experimental and most importantly HONEST. When in doubt, put your money on them.

 

Bestia Arcana – Holókauston

Up to this point you had your fair share of melodic and atmospheric BM. But what about those who like it disturbing? Say no more, I have you covered! This album is a chaotic holocaust packed in listenable format. If the world’s destruction has a soundtrack this is probably it.

 

Pestlegion – Dominus Profundum

Remember what I told you about Germanic Black Metal? This is exactly what I meant. B. von Doom’s vocals feel so wrong to me that I have to put real effort into listening to them. However, Pestlegion have created so brilliant music in their debut album, it would be just unfair to leave them outside my Noteworthy Reports only on such grounds. If you are a fan of pure, Whiskey Fueled Old School Black Metal, you can’t miss this.

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Incantation – Profane Nexus

If you don’t know this band, you probably lived the past 30 years in a cave or under a rock. The legendary deathsters are back and they are determined to cause some serious ear bleeding. The album is filled with bleak desperation, and the more you hope it ends soon, the deeper you sink in this musical quicksand. If you haven’t been exposed to their music before, this extremely formidable album will make sure you’ll love them from now on.

 

Nadir – The Sixth Extinction

If you believe that Doom metal can’t be groovy, you probably haven’t heard of Nadir. Their music is constantly on the verge of trotting down the Melodic Death path, but never quite leaving the Doom ballpark. Their (thankfully few) death-core parts didn’t manage to put me off and so I was rewarded with some really memorable leads and riffs and had a generally very enjoyable time listening to them.

 

Thus ends the third part of my list. I’m going to get some off with my lovely family now. You go ahead and listen to those records and let me know which ones you found particularly good, or which ones you completely missed and you have to thank ATF for bringing them up. The 4th and final part of the list is coming in the following days. I’ll see you then and there.

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.2)

I hope you had enough time to check the first part of my “Noteworthy Report – all the great releases of 2017 I didn’t have the time to write about”. Are you ready for the second part? Well, ready or not, here comes…

 

Grafvitnir – Keys to the Mysteries Beyond

One of the reasons I post my NWR lists this late as the year ends, is that some really good albums get released at the last days of December. (Another reason is that I have a hard time to keep up with my own schedule but that’s a completely different story). Most publications have done their lists by that time and albums just fall through the cracks. It would be a shame for such a beautiful release to have that fate! Malicious melodic Black Metal at its best form.

 

Saqra’s Cult – Forgotten Rites

That’s a really interesting mix of primitive, old-school, mid-tempo Black metal with a touch of shamanistic occultism. The band from Belgium did an impressive debut, without much fanfare. Keep an eye on them.

 

Kafirun – Eschaton

Occult Black Metal is a subgenre that slowly but steadily won its own place in my heart. Every now and then I stumble on an album that really manages to create the otherworldly atmosphere and awe that its name suggests. Isn’t that a success? Don’t miss this deeply unsettling album.

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre

Germany always did great in Gothic and Thrash, but their Black metal always felt “wrong” to me, with very few exceptions. Der Weg Einer Freiheit is one of those. Even before the first track ended I knew I was in for a treat with this album. Must have!

 

Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie

What an extraordinary USBM album! The band moves with such ease from their doomy parts to explosive blasts that I regularly had to check that I’m still listening to the same album. Raw and somewhat depressive but with bright progressive moments, this here is a little gem. Don’t skip it.

 

Hands of Thieves – Feasting on Dark Intentions

The debut of this Polish band passed somewhat unnoticed when it came out this July, and that’s really a shame. In 4 tracks of 30 minutes running time, constantly switching from Black to Death to Doom, Hands of Thieves deliver a seminar on how to properly melt faces the old school way. Excellent!

 

The Father Of Serpents – Age Of Damnation

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of prog metal. Most of the time I find that band after band put their musical prowess and expertise at a show-off competition, leaving their compositions lifeless. But here, WHOA! What an album. The tracks are hypnotic and they actually lead somewhere. There are some mixing mistakes here and there but they are hardly noticeable, plus the band is from Serbia: when we were perfecting our craft these guys were at war, so cut them some slack. Fans of early Paradise Lost, Opeth, Orphaned Land and Saturnus wouldn’t want to miss this album!

 

Insanity Cult / Isolert

A beautiful sample of misanthropic Black Metal from the two Greek bands that share time in this split release. The vocals on the Insanity Cult put me a bit off, but their music is awesome in any case. I liked Isolert a bit more, especially the mesmerizing closing minutes of “I Hide My Soul Inside The Trees”. Give it a spin, you have nothing to lose.

 

Darkflight – The Hereafter

This is a band that exists almost two decades, and although from the neighboring Bulgaria, I’ve never heard of them. Hopefully this 4th full length album will set them on the right foot to reach their long deserved audience. Melodic, blackened Doom Metal is what they trade, and they do it quite good. There are some obvious flaws here and there but the beauty of their compositions is far too great to bother…

 

Sicarius – Serenade Of Slitting Throats

More than decent black metal that at points reminded me of second-era Immortal. Although this US band’s debut isn’t groundbreaking, it really sounds savage, solid and promising. Keep a close eye on them.

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

That was the second part. I’m gonna dive in my notes now to get the 3rd part ready. You go ahead and listen to those releases. Did you find any of them intriguing? Let me know in the comments…

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.1)

In recent years it is becoming the norm for blogs and magazines to give an ‘EoY’ (end-of-year) list with ‘the 10 best albums’ of the year (or in some cases 12, or even 80 if that makes sense). I was hesitating to follow this practice, especially since I don’t use a grading system for my reviews, so what I decided instead is to give you a list of what I kept in my ‘noteworthy’ list throughout the entire year. This would be a smaller list if I wasn’t neck-deep-busy over the last months, but such things happen, and so I will have to cover what was left behind during my long absence.

Notice that there is no noticeable distinction between ‘underground’ and ‘established’ acts. Still I give somewhat of a break to lesser known acts because having to compete to get a name out there is already hard enough.

Due to the sheer number of releases included in this “Noteworthy Report – all that is left of 2017 that I didn’t have the time to talk about” I will break it into many parts. Enjoy the first of them…

 

Battle Dagorath – II – Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness

Last year, their “I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos” was among my favorite albums for 2016. This year they returned to finish what they started with this second part of the opus. This one is more direct and energetic. Astral Black metal in the vein of Limbonic Art.

 

Cult Of The Horns – Chapter I. Domination

Gut wrenching blackened Death metal from France. If you are a fan of early-to-mid era Belphegor you are SO going to enjoy this album. I know I did!

 

Darkenhöld – Memoria Sylvarum

This is an album I thoroughly enjoyed this year. Inspired by the Norwegian Atmospheric Black Metal of the 90’s, it feels like a journey in the past. Time and time again you will feel the nostalgic effect of its riffs as they unearth forgotten hints of Ulver or Old Man’s Child, only to fade under a Burzum-esque change of pace, yet nothing feels forced. There is definitely something in the French waters!

 

DEVLSY – Private Suite

Lithuania is a country with hardly any well established metal bands. However they don’t give up and every now and then a good release will surface to remind us of their efforts. This avant-garde post black metal album is a “now” moment. Support it.

 

Метель – Цивилизация

Metel is a Russian black metal band clearly inspired by the Swedish school (reminded me of Negator’s “Panzer Metal”). Formed in 2003, they just released their debut album this Christmas, and it’s really really good.

 

Grailknight – Galahad’s Quest

Admit it. If you hadn’t seen the title, you too would believe that these are lost recordings of Summoning that didn’t make it to their “Lost Tales” EP. This one man project from Serbia is doing a really good job at imitating their Epic Dungeon Synth Metal. The production is quite underwhelming but I decided to cut them some slack anyways.

 

Deviser – Howling Flames

The Greek veterans return after a long absence with this tasty EP. Pompous melodic black metal that encloses everything we loved from the Greek scene of the 90’s and then some. Can’t wait for the full length!

 

DSKNT – PhSPHR Entropy

Switzerland is –at least in my mind– a country where metal bands are either atmospheric or experimenting with electronic elements, so this album was a huge surprise for me. Apparently the French Black Metal scene is getting to big to be contained and now contaminates bordering nations. Oh, goody!

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Necrot – Blood Offerings

I am a very difficult listener when it comes to old school Death Metal. It usually bores me to, well, death. So when an album manages to keep me entertained for its entire duration it makes it to my list. Simple as that. The Californians really did it this time. Fans of early Death, invest with both hands!

 

Fen – Winter

The gentlemen from the United Kingdom return to their roots with this 5th album. Musically, “Winter” is really close to “The Malediction Fields” (which happens to be my favorite album), yet the compositions are more mature. A solid release.

 

That was the first batch. If you enjoyed it, stay tuned as there are more to come in the following days. Which release did you particularly like?

Noteworthy Report: April 2017

Welcome my friends to another VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. ATF is a project I run on my free time, which is becoming more of a rarity nowadays, but I try to keep active no matter the circumstances. Want to know why?

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums are getting released every month. Granted, some of them aren’t all too great, but how can anyone tell? Nobody has time to listen to every single one of them. That’s what the Noteworthy Report is all about. Every month –or so- I gather my notes and talk about the best releases that usually pass under the radars of big publications.

Enough with the chit chat, on with my list for April!

Prometheus – Consumed In Flames

I’ve known Prometheus through some demo tracks and I’ve known them to be a Hellenic black metal band. So I was a little surprised when their debut landed. Here they have a clearly more blackened Death orientation. The album is packed with great riffs, inventive and intense drumming and occult atmospheres. An absolute must have!

 

Atrexial – Souverain

We stay in the blackened death metal ballpark, this time coming from Spain. Bombastic songs clearly inspired from the Swedish scene, with Marduk-esque riffs but on a different track. Some of the songs may sound unfitting, but since this is their debut I find it natural to explore a few paths and wander off from time to time. Don’t let this fact turn you down and enjoy this fresh release in any case.

 

Corpus Diavolis – Atra Lumen

Melodic Black Metal from France, bold enough to step outside the dissonant prog/black playground that has been set up there. Their music is brilliant, their drumming has a spark of genius, but their most striking aspect are the theatric vocals. A true masterpiece.

 

Ulvegr – Titahion: Kaos Manifest

Sometimes I just have to stand in awe before the talent of certain musicians. The guys responsible for this release just spit excellent album after excellent album on an unmatched pace (and under many names: Elderblood, KZOHH, GreyAblaze and more). In this 4th full length they touch on the Egyptian mysticism (bringing to mind the Greek band Acherontas at points) and they intertwine songs with prayer-like intros, the way Acheron did in “Rites of the Black Mass”. One of the best releases I heard lately…

 

Cult Of Erinyes – Tiberivs

Occult progressive black metal from the masters of the kind. The duo from Belgium returns with an album that won’t let down any of their followers. Hit play, breathe its intoxicating fumes and travel somewhere dark, to a place you can call “your unknown”…

 

So that was it. I still haven’t posted my “through the cracks” NWR, but I sure will. But first I have a review in the writing, so stay tuned because this won’t take too long to finish. As always, if you have any suggestions leave a message or send me a mail…