Tag Archives: Black Metal

Unru – Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nicht

(Sentient Ruin / Monotonstudio Records / Supreme Chaos Records, 2016)

At the latest, after the success of bands such as Deafhaven and Altar Of Plagues, it sometimes feels like every hipster wanted to create a raw Black Metal band, often with Crusty or more artistic influences (which is fine by me since art should be free for all men and women to create), but while most of these bands end up sounding pretty similar and boring (unoriginal), one can occasionally come across something unique, when it comes to “Blackened Neo-Crust”, such as this young German band.

Without any info of the previous doings of the band members, I do know this is their first full-length release after a demo, a single and two splits. What makes the music fresh and original enough (to get my attention) is the way the band incorporates the more ferocious blastbeats and classic tremolo riffs with some for example more progressive rhythms or doomy elements (as well as small hints of other styles) usually unheard of in the more popular bands of this genre, as well as some truly twisted vocals and hypnotic song-structures / arrangements, just enough to stick out of the mass in a good way. The outcome is of the sort which keeps things interesting, thoughtful and very atmospheric throughout this release.

While the faster Black Metal parts – besides the obvious more monotonous nineties-worship – often reminds me of the intensity of newer bands like Katechon (or even the classic odd-bird of the early nineties, “Blood Must Be Shed”), a few more groovy and rhythmic parts here and there bring to my mind stuff like Industrial and even Tribal music. There is also a very Doomy and Deathly part to be found in one of the songs, spicing things up nicely. I only wish there would be even more of these varied parts in the music.

The arrangement of the songs as well as the melodic yet repetitive nature of the riffs usually lifts the music to truly epic and even transcendental heights, making this a release of much atmospheric value, which is unarguably the mission of the music style in question. The melancholic apathy towards mankind and the vanity and desperation of all things human can really be sensed thru this stuff.

One major thing that makes the sound of the band a bit more original are the beforementioned vocals, which are not your typical Black Metal screaming nor the average Crusty shouting, but fall somewhere in between the two, often turning into even quite clear vocals, resulting as something truly twisted, desperate and hateful, fitting the music perfectly.

The overall handling of the instruments is good (props for the basslines which are often played quite high, giving these parts also a bit more personal touch as well), and the production of the album is fine when it comes to the style in question, with maybe a bit too much reverb here and there, which on the other hand increases the deep atmospheres of the music.

This album offers about 35 mins of good quality, raw and organic, thoughtful, epic and artistic Crusty Black Metal with enough unique touches to make the band worthwhile a deeper look. Released by the extremely cool label Sentient Ruin, as well as Monotonstudio Records and Supreme Chaos, I definitely urge you to check out this (in all its apparent simplicity) genuinely fresh and original band!

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Sentient Ruin
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Natvre’s – Wrath

(Self-Released / Clean Head Productions, 2015)

Natvre’s from Thessaloniki (Greece) are a three-piece made of members not “publicly” familiar from earlier projects (at least according to Metal Archives), formed in 2014, this full-length being their first release. And what a strong first release it is.

As is the case with many of the more interesting newcomers, Natvre’s has decided to perform a style of Black Metal which takes a lot from the old-school vibes of the nineties, and fuse it with other (often a bit more interesting?) elements, such as good old Punk Rock and other more Avantgardish and Abstract styles of music. And the fusion works extremely well.

The album gets straight into business with the opening track “Lazarines”, introducing eerie tremolo and picking riffs reminding me of classic Thorns and Mayhem, mixed with more straightforward Rocking Punk riffs and vibes (and partly Darkthronish and Burzumish or even Aura Noirish attitudes if you will, besides the more Avantgarde atmospheres, as the album progresses). To the end of the song we get some blast-beats as well, reminding us of the Black backgrounds of the music in general. The vocals (with their heavy distortion) bring to my mind a more groovier version of Aldrahn in “Satanic Art”, with the same amount of passion and madness. The whole thing is put through filters of extreme weight (being heavy and hard-hitting as fuck) and razor-sharp Blackened violence.

The next seven songs offer the same stuff (with an exemption of a more obscure long instrumental guitar-driven song in the middle of the album), with more variation in the drum-beats and some vocal-parts, while the riffs stay pretty much the same. What makes this album so cool, is the right amount of new more “artistic” and just plain imaginative tricks up the sleeves of whoever has composed and arranged these songs, of new styles and ways to present this Art, while keeping the overall feeling of the album similar throughout the whole shredding journey.

Altho the basses and guitars, the drums, and the vocals are all recorded at three different studios, the main mixing has brought all the elements in prefect (dis)harmony. The bass-drums pound like fists, while the balance of warmth and heaviness, coldness and sharpness created by the basses and guitars merge splendidly with the insane yet Rocking Blackened vocals.

This release offers basically nothing new under any suns, but still manages to give about 45 mins of something genuinely fresh and cool to the intelligent and open-minded fan of different musical styles, with main emphasis of course in Black fucking Metal. This highly recommended album is released as a digipack by the band (with the help of Clean Head Productions).

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Interview with Sordide

Sordide from Rouen, France is one of those bands that manage to keep the whole concept of “Black Metal” interesting to me. Rather than following the current trends, the band has found themselves in the traditional nineties Blackened realms, adding the rawness and primitivity of Punk and even Garage Rock elements (as well as more purely artistic and Avantgarde elements) into their sound. In all it’s primitive and raw complex beauty, the creative process behind their music demands clarification.

Bonjour Sordide! How has the year drawn to it’s closure over there in Rouen?

Bonjour Antti! Last weeks were a turning point, as we had our first tour in France. An important experience, with great meetings and very good feedback. We toured with Nebehn, Sordide’s new bass player. He joined the trio from the very first gig, without any rehearsal (we called him the day before going on tour). Continuing ahead, we are currently working on new material for the next release.

The members of the band have been active in the local music scenes for quite some time. Extreme Metal seems to be the main style of your preference, but are there other styles to be found in your musical lives?

Indeed we’ve mainly been playing extreme music, be it Black, Doom, Hardcore, but also Experimental, Improvised or Classical music.

As you have taken a very traditional (mostly nineties-sounding) approach to your brand of Black Metal, do you still feel this as the most powerful path of the art, as opposed to current trends?

We don’t care about trends. In fact, we just play music as we feel, each time trying to keep a similar energy. Our sound and sensibility have obviously been affected by first wave of Black Metal, but not only nor mainly. We cannot say how much. Some bands kind of lose themselves in the studio, overdubbing everything, triggering the drums… It’s like they anesthetize the music and lock it in a cage. We want to keep it wild and alive.

The other elements of your music include (in my opinion) Garage Rock, French “Folk” Music, and Post Punk. Has this been a mutual collective choice, or do the different elements come to the band from the different individuals creating the music?

At the beginning, we only wanted to play Black Metal together. We’ve never had any precise plan, only a common will and that style in mind. Then, our collective and individual influences, experiences and feelings made a “strange” musical alchemy, crafted what you can hear: Not only Black Metal, we are often told. Pinpointing all influences would be both a pain and useless. We couldn’t even tell. As often, there’s no precise intention to cross over trends, musical styles or areas, it just happened…

Sordide 02

Talking about the raw energy in your music, there is no denying the strong influence of Punk in styles like Thrash, Death and Black Metal. That is also something I’m personally hearing in your sound (at least), besides the more artistic approaches to the riffs and songs. Is this mostly intentional or unintentional?

Yes, it was clearly intentional. Our music had to be raw. No polishing, no compromise. We want to keep it real, on stage as on records. Keep it simple, wild, alive… In a way, the Punk influence you underlined.

How about the lyrical side of Sordide? Without any knowledge of the French language, I am guessing the topics include social and personal issues, ponderings on what it means to be French today?

Lyrics effectively deal with social and personal themes, but are way wider than national ponderings or issues. They’re composed of various visions of situations we can live or behold. They mainly bring contemporary but also long tradition values into question. Titles are meaningful : “Ni Nom Ni Drapeau” (Neither Name Nor Flag), “Gloire” (Glory), “Violence”, “Blâme”, “Pauvre Histoire” (Poor History) or “La France A Peur” (France Is Afraid) – This latter being from a 1976 TV speech.

I can understand when some bands want to keep political opinions out of their music, even when dealing with social issues (and let the listeners decide for themselves), while some bands want to speak out their mind under a certain ideology, may it be Left, Right, Anarchist, Fascist, or whatever. But is there a clear attitude or philosophy to be heard in the art of Sordide?

We claim to have a “neither name, nor flag” -attitude. You can interpret it politically or artistically. Those were our first words, and part of the art of Sordide. The band is not claiming specific political opinions, or a straight musical path. We do experiment, nothing is black or white.

Are you active in the local music scenes? Do the local bands help each other out when it comes to things like rehearsing and gigs? Are people of different genres open-minded, or do the different musical scenes stay separated?

Rouen musical scene is quite rich and musically open-minded, but not that much socially. It is said to have known a real Punk Rock background from the late 60’s to 80’s. Nowadays, like in a lot of the cities of France (and Europe perhaps), we’re lacking places to organize shows. Rouen has no squats or independent venues. In a nutshell, lots of bands and a few places…

We must admit we’re not very active in local scene, often supporting gigs, but we do not organize gigs more than twice a year. We intentionally chose not to play in Rouen before a year, thus focusing on other cities.

How has the reception been towards your amazing first full-length “La France A Peur”? Has the reception been better in France or abroad? You are currently in the process of creating a second album?

In France and abroad, the album has been very well received. Lots of positive reviews, download-statistics and radio broadcastings are good evidence it was. We’ve heard of some negative opinions regarding lyrics, and perhaps misunderstandings concerning our approach (it is a hen, in fact…). Anyway, among most amazing feedbacks we had, the ones following gigs surprised us. We often met people who came to hear us, some of them even knowing lyrics. And when some just discovered our music, we’ve often been thanked. What better reception could we hope ?

Sordide 03

How does the year of 2016 look to Sordide? Is the band something you can all invest in full-time, or is your time (as a band) limited when it comes to musical activities?

It already looks like an important year. We are currently working on the next album. Recording session early February: That is a challenge. Everything hasn’t been composed yet and we have to affirm the new line-up. Moreover, we can’t invest in full-time because of jobs and have to invest in other bands too.

One thing is sure, new material will be more violent. Satisfaction is already here and we will continue our breathless work till recording is over. Then, we’ll be eager to tour again.

Many thanks for your attention and interest, Antti.

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Mädäntyneen Jumalan Silmä – Musta Myrsky

(Self-Released, 2015)

Black Metal, as a definition, is definitely a question of taste. There are so many music styles out there labeled Black Metal, that it really comes to the question of ideology and attitude rather than the actual music, when the various scenes of various ages compare each other’s music, often in a very competitive (musical-fascist) way. There are people who say that playing skills are not important in Black Metal, and it’s all about the atmosphere the music summons. There are also those who say the same about the overall production and soundscapes of the music, often meaning “the crappier the better” (authentic). And there are those who have nothing against decent playing skills and listenable production, on the contrary, even in a such a violent music style as Black Metal.

With this their first release, Mädäntyneen Jumalan Silmä (from Finland) falls somewhere between the two opposites of minimalistic and low-fi atmospheres and well-produced quality.  The band consists of unknown musicians (to me), with the exception of one member with whom I have done similar kind of (but not as good) music in the past.

What strikes to me the most about the music is the fact it mostly seems to be coming straight from the nineties (my favourite decade of Black Metal of course), and even more so straight from this very country. There were a few bands around here which managed to sound original (in the sense they didn’t totally copy the Norse bands), altho pretty minimalist and low-fi, bands like Nidhoggr. Still, there are also a few Norse-sounding (at least to my ears) parts in the songs, mainly in the form of melodies resembling (very simple) versions of for example “For All Tid” or “Written In Waters”, but these parts could also be compared to some other more modern stuff by someone else. However, the main pulse of the music comes from the (relatively) slow blast-beats, dragging and Doomy parts, and almost (old) Gorgoroth-like rocking vibes. When talking of minimalist aggression and groove, even stuff like classic Hellhammer comes to my mind at times when listening to these riffs.

The performance of all the instruments on these recordings (which were recorded live somewhere in northern Finland if I’ve understood correctly) is not bad, altho nothing special either. The sounds of the tracks making these songs are definitely not of high quality per se, but nevertheless mixed in a way which makes the end result sound truly clear yet hateful, aggressive, and dark. Most importantly: it sounds above else like genuine Black Metal. The riffs and the arrangements of the songs are quite minimalistic, yet handled with enough precision like a quality live-performance (which it apparently is). The vocals are quite original, bringing to my mind a more “masculine” (not so whining) version of classic Burzum, being nothing too special, but still giving the overall atmospheres of the band a unique-enough touch. The lyrics apparently deal mostly about subjects such as disappointment, despair, nihilism, misanthropy and so on, being as in-your-face as the music itself.

This release offers about 18 minutes (four songs, plus an intro and an outro) of extremely hard hitting, violently pounding and massively sounding traditional Black Metal with a strong nod to the Scandinavian sounds of the nineties, and with some more “modern” artistic and avantgardish elements. A recommended new band to be checked out, for all fans of straightforward and gritty classic Black Metal. Released as 66 copies, the Tape can be obtained from the band itself.

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Archaic Thorn – In Desolate Magnificence

(Unholy Prophecies, 2015)

This trio from Lichtenstein (Germany) has been active for about 5 years, releasing a Demo in 2013, before this their first EP. The band likes to label their music as Nihilistic Death Metal, but music-wise (in my opinion), in the early nineties this release could be labeled as Melodic Black Metal as well (depending on the image and attitude of the band).

After the atmospheric and “occult”-sounding instrumental intro of different picked strings and chiming bells, this EP offers us indeed four quite long songs of very old-school but actually pretty unique-sounding Metal of Death. While I’m getting a lot of the obscure feelings of for example Tiamat’s “The Astral Sleep”, and mostly the melodic eeriness, hook-filled tempos and technicality of the first Dissection or Unanimated releases, the band manages to sound very individual.

Besides the obvious music, the sounds and production of these songs are also very old-school (most likely deliberately), such as on those of an old cassette-demo or a 7”, partly murky and foggy, partly sharp and high, with the right amount of reverb in the voices from the temple.

The guitars, which are most present element in the mix, are usually played with high notes and full of melodies. The guitarist does a remarkably fantastic job, switching between different playing styles and quite complicated riffs with ease, while the drums follow and back the guitars with the same amount of imagination and skill. The quite high (as well, at least to my ear) basses howl and boom in the mix with great performance as well, and as the bassist is also doing the vocals, he is doing a terrific job naturally. The awesome vocals are mostly low screaming or high growling, in the vein of for example many early nineties Scandinavian melodic Death and Black Metal bands, usually barking in a typical yet personal and highly atmospheric fashion, yet sometimes going to truly twisted and insane places.

In the end, the greatest wonder of this release is not the authentic old-school obscure aura surrounding it all, but indeed the amount of riffs and different parts (under the same musical banner) in the songs, making whoever has composed and arrange these rituals a truly master of his craft.

Although (at a first quick glance) pretty similar in aesthetic and lyrical (?) lines with numerous modern Black Metal bands of the “occult” nature, the music Archaic Thorns creates really beats most of the other trendy currents in imagination, skills and style.

If you like your Death (or Black) Metal melodic, eventful, old-school, obscure and occult, look no further. This EP offers 28mins of highly imaginative and entertaining ethereal invocations, with an extremely high re-listening value. Hopefully the band will continue to record a full-length album in the future.

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Corpspazm – S/T

(Broken Limbs Recordings, 2015)

Even tho it is currently trendy in the realms of Death Metal, Black Metal as well as Crust Punk to imitate the sounds of the classic/cult-releases from the beginnings of these styles, some newer bands actually seem to deliver the authentic sounds and atmospheres with sheer dedication and honesty, rather than copying stuff. Corpspazm (formed in 2010) from Southern California is one of those bands, and this EP (limited to 100 cassettes) is a triumphant display of just that.

What makes this release special, is the tendency of the band to sound like early South American stuff like the classic “I.N.R.I.” of Sarcofago, the cult-demo “Satanic Blood” by Von, Australian crazy shit like Sadistik Exekution, as well as as bit younger more bestial Death and Black Metal like Conqueror at the same time. Needless to say, a mixture of these elements is a match made in heaven/hell for those initiated in the original art of Death and Black Metal.

The songs consists of quite simple (Punk-simple) riffs played through pretty murky distortion, with clanky and pounding drums played with real Thrashing passion, and truly sinister and cool-sounding vocals with enough reverb to sound like been performed 20 years ago. As the material is recorded at two separate sessions, the sounds of the songs vary a bit, but not dramatically.

Only 15minutes in length, this release offers six songs of such stylish and arousing Death-worship, a longer length is really not needed, unlike some beers. This stuff is not for anyone, but to those who understand and worship the occult styles of extreme Metal firmly rooted in Punk, will wet their pants with this material.

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Gnaw Their Tongues / Dragged Into Sunlight – NV

(Prosthetic Records, 2015)

Dragged Into Sunlight came into my attention with their first full-length of 2009, “Hatred For Mankind”, which seemed like a fresh breath of total and honest aggression and hatred among all the trends going on in the Black and Death Metal undergrounds. Taking elements of indeed Black, Death and Doom Metal, spiced with elements of Grindcore, Noise, Sludge and other extreme styles of Punk, Metal and Electronic music, the band has been continuing along the path started by that particular album. The band has vast amounts of experience from previous musical projects as well as playing live, and this experience and dedication for creating and performing this extreme form of musical art has been present in all their doings. Now, about three years after their last release “Widowmaker”, the time has at last come to unleash yet another chapter in their great work, a chapter passionately anticipated by many.

Gnaw Their Tongues is the main project of Mories (originally from Suriname, now residing in The Netherlands), who has about forty releases under this name, also (like Dragged Into Sunlight) mainly focusing in harsh horrific marriage of Black Metal, Noise and other extreme styles. I have only seldomly touched upon his stuff with time, but have always acknowledged the man’s capabilities of creating truly disturbing audial visions of dread.

This collaboration-album was apparently at first revolving around an idea to create a new version of classic Industrial Metal (as begun by Godflesh’s “Streetcleaner”), which can still be heard in the material, not necessarily in the performance of the music itself, but rather in the production. Justin Broadrick (and another profilic producer Tom Dring) has also given his finishing touches to the production of the material. The three hours of material initially recorded for this released has been stripped down into about 33 mins of polished substance.

With about four years in the works, the material has indeed been most likely refined numerous times into this perfect symbiosis of (quite technical) Black and Death Metal as well as Noise (mainly). Besides the production, there is a certain Industrial feeling in the material considering the usage of electronics in a sampled and looping kid of way. Also some effects used in a percussive way give the Industrialized synthetic atmosphere to the otherwise quite organic stuff.

The amount of different soundscapes (and layers) of noises and samples behind the main tracks of clanky but pounding drums, Metallic guitars and distorted screaming vocals is also vast. In fact the material often feels like moving from a room, chamber or other similar space to another, with each having a unique horrific nature and atmosphere of its own, like different kinds of crime scenes. Spoken samples of different murderous themes spice up the already anxious and disturbing spectacle.

The Metallic parts of the material are again mainly a mixture of Death and Black Metal with elements of Grindcore, familiar from the previous work of Dragged Into Sunlight. The guitars are shredding, damping and howling like crazy most of the time, being usually technical (but not too much) rather than melodic. The basses and drums are played with experienced and “relaxed” hands, besides being performed with great skill and imagination, giving the positively human touch to the otherwise inhumane experience. The riffs and general parts of the songs switch from good idea to the next naturally and with ease. The vocals are screamed through the usual Dragged Into Sunlight amount of distortion. The overall mix, which is quite harsh and sharp but otherwise not by any means without low frequencies, is also put through filters of cool reverb. The quality and attitude of the material on the album stays pretty much the same throughout the five songs, resulting at the first listen in the songs drifting by without any clear changes in music, but being so utterly full of detail and entertaining in their horror, it is clear this album has tremendous re-listening value.

To the unexperienced, I’d say this album serves definitely as a better introduction to the music of Dragged Into Sunlight, rather than Gnaw Their Tongues, but if you are already a fan of both acts, you will not be disappointed by this release, guaranteed. In general, this album is a brilliant display of masterfully performed aggression, frustration, and disturbing soundscapes to anyone into the extreme styles such as Death and Black Metal, Grindcore and Noise. A highly recommended album.

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