Noteworthy Report: March 2017

Welcome my friends to a very, VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. As you know, ATF is a project I run on my free time, and these past two months were busy as fvck putting me off track.

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums get released every month, and March had more than his fair share of “big” releases, from the highly anticipated fourth album of Woe, to a new Forteresse release, and from the –also highly anticipated– furious album of The Furor to the debut of all-star Doedsvangr. On top of the fierce competition for fan attention, Mastodon released their new album which –as uninspired as it is– overshadowed pretty much everything else.

Yet the underground never sleeps; if you aren’t easily entertained by the “low hanging fruit”, March came with some impressive gifts that passed under the radars of big publications. Without further ado, these are some of the most noteworthy releases.

 

Vacivus – Nuclear Chaos

The UK blackened deathsters (ala-Portal) return with a short but killer EP. Soul crushing riffs reduce everything to dust. Nuclear Chaos is upon us, embrace it or perish!

 

Harvest Gulgaltha – Altars Of Devotion

In a similar vein, Harvest Gulgaltha play “cryptic necromantic black death metal”, or in other words, minimal blackened death. The majority of the album is slow-paced and feels like sinking in quicksand. So much gloom and despair it feels otherworldly.

 

Mistveil – Amnesia

This is quite a debut from my compatriots Mistveil. They play melodic doom/death metal in the vein of Saturnus and early Draconian. I personally enjoy such music during the cold winter nights, but this is just my preference and timing isn’t a factor of quality in any case. You don’t want to miss it!

 

Nordland – European Paganism

This here is an album with what I call a “barrier-to-entry”. The first minutes of the album feel like they pointlessly thrust in every direction, but at some point you get what they try (and ultimately manage) to do. The album is exactly what the title says: they pick threads from pagan black all over Europe, and join them in a unique piece of art. You will hear Enslaved (both early and late), Ancient Rites, Fen and a bunch of other influences beautifully married in unity. A really interesting as well as demanding listen.

 

Wormwood – Ghostlands: Wounds From A Bleeding Earth

The Swedish folk black-metallers released their debut album this month. Filled with mostly awesome stuff, fans of Thyrfing and Amon Amarth will want to check it out. There are some odd, off-putting, Iron Maiden-ish moments here and there, but I guess this never killed anyone…

 

Pillorian – Obsidian Arc

Born just this past summer by veterans of the scene (including John Haughm of ex-Agalloch), Pillorian released their debut album in March, sharing their take on avant-garde folk black metal. If you’re a fan of USBM don’t skip this album…

 

In the following days I will release the April NWR, as well as a special NWR of releases that I listened and cared enough to share but fell through the cracks of time and ultimately never got to talk about them. So stay tuned, and as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Review: Battle Dagorath – I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos

battle-dagorath-iddotf

The intercontinental black metal duo returns with their fourth album, which is actually the first part of an Opus, with the second part to be released before the end of the year.

The album starts with an ambient intro, and what follows is a 13 minute long icy, monotonous storm, quite typical for the genre mind you. If the whole album went that way, it would be unbearable, yet it doesn’t. The first hint of change comes in the form of a melodic solo near the middle of that first song, things pick interest from then on and you are promised that what follows will be an awesome cosmic ride on a black dragon. And oh boy, do they deliver!

If you endure until the “Return to Gates of Dawn” you realize this album is potentially one of the best releases of the year. It has this ‘barrier to entry’ that might put off the uninitiated, but the following 40 minutes just kept sending chills to my spine non-stop. The 3 remaining songs are majestic, and as new elements are being slowly revealed with every passing track things are kept interesting despite the long song durations.

The synths are a work of Vinterriket (yes, THE ambient legend) and I didn’t really expect anything less than cold and otherworldly stuff. Everything else is the brain-child of BSB (aka Black Sorcerer Battle). The guitars are sharp, cold, oozing despair, yet the melodic parts are enthralling. The fierce vocals sound oddly spacey and epic at the same time and raised my hair on many occasions. The drums are nothing short of special, but they serve their purpose well given the genre. Lyrically the album revolves around the cyclical nature of the cosmos.

The sound is generally good. The mix lets you listen to all instruments and you can easily follow the riffs through the distortion even on the most chaotic passages. This album went from zero to hero in just the first spin and I seriously can’t wait for the second part of this Opus.

Highly recommended for fans of Wolves In The Throne Room, Limbonic Art, first-era Emperor and (of course) Vinterriket.

For more info check out the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/BattleDagorath/

https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/i-dark-dragons-of-the-cosmos

http://avantgardemusic.bigcartel.com/product/battle-dagorath-i-dark-dragons-of-the-cosmos-2lp

SMT/ATF Episode 12: USA

Welcome back to a very special episode of Against The Fragmentaire. Why is it so special you may ask. Well, mainly because I decided to post a double episode and be done with it for the whole “season”, but also because this week we are going to check the USA, home to all things evil that somehow aren’t Russian!

Ever since I realized I was going to keep this series going by myself (yup, my original plan wasn’t to “blog” this alone), I had a hard time to figure what I am going to do when the United States of America come in line for a showcase: I mean, 6 slots are really few when it comes to so many states counting over 17000 bands in metal archives! It felt like I had to squeeze all of Europe in 6 slots.  Just a week ago a decided to tackle this in a manner that looked right: I will split the US in west and east and give 6 slots for each. And so I began my cherry picking ordeal as usual. And now that I decided to have a holiday episode to spend more time with friends during the following week, it doesn’t really matter…

 

One of the very first album’s I’ve heard in the black/death metal genre was “Rites of the Black Mass” of Acheron. This felt extreme and harsh back then, and even while it isn’t anything super new I most fondly remember it because of the weird introductions right before each song. Unfortunately I have lost the tape since then and the CD version I found only has the music. A shame… Thankfully there are a few songs in youtube that include the intros too!

 

Ladies. Gentlemen. Children. Forget everything you knew about doom and drone metal. Sunn O))) is the new definition of Ssssssllllllloooooooooowwwwww gggggggzzzzzzzzrrrrrnnn music development. Either like them or hate them…

 

One of my favorite blackened folk metal bands around is Agalloch. They are constantly pushing their own envelope a bit further and they offer –to me at least- the best music to accompany my whiskey. Their beginning wasn’t so impressive but they now show such maturity and quality that words are meaningless…

 

Another similar band that I also enjoy is Falls Of Rauros. This is the American school of shoegaze black metal and I love it…

 

When it comes to depressive black metal, one of my favorite picks is always Wolves In The Throne Room. These guys really are up to something. Their atmosphere really takes you there, in the ancestral roots of this land, all you have to do is be patient…

 

Another excellent sample of weird black metal. I don’t understand how Lurker Of Chalice manage to create such soothing feelings when they play such a nightmarish music. Ritualistic, astral, aggressive, epic. No, terrifying! That is the key ingredient that mixes all in a unique way. Dive deep into their abyss, you are going to like it. At least I do…

 

And since we touched ritualistic stuff, let’s take a look at Equimanthorn. I got to listen to this very song back in 1994 and though I don’t usually get to listen to them, it really has a place in my mind as something unique.

 

I will close the extreme/black metal chapter of the States with December Wolves, a band that sounds completely Norwegian and sometimes feels like listening to 3 albums of Satyricon simultaneously. Very underrated band for such a feat!

 

The time has come to relieve Andrew a bit from all this cacophony. Coming next are… Cacophony, a project of the genre I hate most: show-off metal! At least those huge names DO play some tough shit! Or should I say did…?

 

As you may already guess if you take a look at this series from the beginning to this point, I have a great distaste for progressive power metal. Circle II Circle however is one of those few bands of the area that managed to get a place in my collection. Not as show off as most prog bands, not as silly as most power metal bands, they settled in between and I like them for that!

 

There is a genre that only two countries in the whole world have invested, and this is humorous thrash. M.O.D. is one of my favorite, mostly because they do write music to accompany their jokes, whereas other bands like To Plokami Tou Karxaria or Anorimoi mostly aim for the pointless fun and nothing else…

 

Closing this marathon of metal, we have November’s Doom, a band I would recommend to fans of Opeth mostly, but certainly everyone can feel free to check them out. Melodic doom death at its finest…

 

This was the last Against the Fragmentaire for 2011. Whatever you do these days, have fun, drink and eat more than you can, but in the end of the day drive responsibly! See you next year…