As one of the most expect releases of 2020, today we have Iceland/Germany’s Árstíðir lífsins and their “Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir” release. With a very enigmatic and ritualistic approach, this band’s Black Metal onslaughts are perfectly flanked by rich lyrics and lush mood setting atmospheric passages. If you are looking for an intense release that sets a very dark tone by mixing plenty of different elements with crushing Black Metal, you do not want to miss out on this one.
Building an eerie atmosphere in its two first tracks, the band creates a killer anticipation for the ‘heavier’ stuff, as “Sem járnklær nætr dragask nærri” rolls. With a relentless drumming backdrop and pummeling riffs, this track sets a very punishing mood that is perfectly complemented by creepy choir arrangements and a sinister pace. With “Gamalt ríki faðmar þá grænu ok svǫrtu hringi lífs ok aldrslita” the band keeps their destructive momentum going with waves of energetic guitar riffs and crafty tempo changes. As the song progresses, you get a very epic vibe that usually Pagan BM bands manage to craft.
Today we are almost closing 2019 with some ritualistic Black Metal from Greece, under the moniker of Haxandraok. With “KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA” this duo delivers a highly ritualistic crushing example of punishing and yet eerily atmospheric BM. With a certain Melechesh, Nile and even Orphaned Land vibe, this release delivers over 30 minutes of engaging music that will keep the listener on a heightened state of awareness.
Opening the release with lush middle-eastern arrangements, “The Temptress of UD DA KAR RA” slowly proceeds to unleash waves of piercing riffs and creepy clean vocals. The band’s sheer power is made quite evident with the level of intensity of this track, but the crafty tempo changes are what makes the song stand out. Crafting an ambiance of decay, “Ba'al Zel Bul at the Gates of NOX” continues spewing the band’s ritualistic message with more creepy vocal arrangements, intense drumming and crafty guitar leads.
Born as a commissioned ‘project’ from Roadburn Music festival, Molasses brings back Farida Lemouchi and her old The Devil’s Blood bandmates to craft a very unique body of music that serves as a way to move on from the death of Selim Lemouchi and TDB days. Not being a tribute to TDB, we were quite excited to hear if Molasses would even resemble their older material or just sound completely different, luckily for us there are certain hints of their old style with newer elements thrown into the mix.
This two song single release through Ván Records is all we will get for now, especially the ones that missed out on Roadburn 2019. Opening with the amp fuzziness of “Mourning Haze”, we are quickly transported to the days of Psychedelic Rock and its trippiness. Featuring a very accommodating pace and beautifully adorned with playful guitar leads and groovy synths, this opening track is pure magic and a very powerful way to open this release.
Closing off 2017 with one truly punishing and demoralizing release, today we have Ván Records unleashing “Miasmal Coronation”. In this split release, we are introduced to the pungent and piercing sound of German Black/Death Metal bands: II and Lihhamon. With each band unleashing around 15 minutes of ravaging music, you will be begging for mercy before the release is done.
The release kicks off with I I’s mysterious atmospheric opening in “Indoctrination of Deaths Command”, however, this atmospheric start is quickly replaced by pummeling riffs and crushing vocals. The band’s intensity is quite palpable, and their ravaging Black/Death Metal sound is instant evidence of this. The band continues their onslaught with brutal tracks like “Weltenfresser” and the incisive “Miasmal Execration”. With a buzz saw-like guitar sound, we particularly enjoy how massive their sound is. I I leaves on a more melodic tone with the superbly catchy “Vidargängr”.
Hailing from the Netherlands, today we have Pagan Metal outfit Nodfyr and their highly engaging and very promising two-song EP titled “In Een Andere Tijd”. Bringing back a certain sound and vibe that we haven’t heard since the late 90’s with bands like Yearning and a few of their Holy Records label mates. Mixing epic clean singing with lush atmospheric elements and a tight Pagan Metal core, this band will certainly catch your attention and standout from the rest.
Led by the highly distinctive vocals of Joris van Gelre (Wederganger, ex-Heidevolk), the album starts with a very basic and yet catchy melody that is perfectly enhanced by Folky guitar leads and very regal clean vocals. The additional string instruments and vocal arrangements add a very lush atmospheric layer to this track, creating a truly memorable and engaging song that will get stuck in your head for days.
The first time we came across The Ruins of Beverast was with their 2009 release “Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite”… and we totally hated that album. Fast-forward eight years and two releases, we have learned to appreciate the complexity and uniqueness of the band’s sound. On “Exuvia”, sole member Alexander von Meilenwald takes things to a completely new level in terms of gripping atmosphere and brilliant mixture of diverse elements.
Opening with the hypnotic title track, this song starts with some Native American leading to a few eerie guitar notes that open up the traditional wall of sound that the band delivers. Featuring bone chilling female vocals, this track perfectly blends the band’s dissonant aggression with more mysterious elements and it progresses into very dramatic passages led by majestic clean vocal arrangements.
Showcasing two of the most interesting Dutch Black Metal bands, today we have Ván Records Kjeld and Wederganger split release. Unluckily released at the end of 2016, this split release deserves your attention as it delivers five Black Metal tracks that range for raw and atmospheric to catchy and creepy. As a highly recommended release for BM fans, this is the perfect introduction to two bands killer sound.
Kjeld opens the release with the pummeling “Banier van Frisia”, this opening track sets a very intense mood with crushing riffs and superb drumming. Remind us at times of bands like Algazanth, “Wanskepsel” perfectly blends atmospheric elements with melodic riffs, a perfect blend for headbanging passages. The last Kjeld track is the blistering “Keningsein”, a furiously paced piece that again features that cold and dissonant Scandinavian Black Metal vibe.
Perfectly arriving for Halloween 2016 via Ván Records, today we have Urfaust and their fourth full-length release “Empty Space Mediation”. After a considerable number of single and split releases since the last full-length, this Atmospheric Black Metal duo returns with one of the most disturbing and yet captivating releases the year.
The opener sets a very hypnotic atmosphere with very minimal elements and throat singing passages which send chills through the listener’s spine. The album continues with the incisive “Meditatum II” and its brilliant atmospheric keyboards. This track quickly changes the pace of things with a perfect balance of majestic clean vocals and harsh vocals. The music is perfectly delivered in a wide variety of tempos which showcase melodic riffs and blistering drums.
Featuring a unique mix of Depressive Black Metal with Alternative Rock, Germany’s Freitod third full-length release “Der unsichtbare Begleiter” is quite a unique one. Clocking in at 44 minutes, this album has a very dreamy and melancholic vibe to it, making it one of the freshest sounding albums we have heard in quite a while.
Opening with the powerful riffing of “Unter schwarzen Wolken”, you can instantly hear that he tempo is a bit different of what you would expect. The harsh vocals and guitar work reminds us a bit of Harakiri for the Sky. The clean vocals are what really make this release magical as they transmit a sense of helplessness that only bands like Katatonia manage to achieve. Perfectly weaving back and forth from semi-aggressive Black Metal passages to more passive Rock-ish soundscapes, tracks like “Die falsche Krankheit” and “Der unsichtbare Begleiter” make this album truly magical.
Dutch Black Metal is not something you hear every day; however, today we have Wederganger and their demoralizing debut full-length “Halfvergaan ontwaakt”. Featuring eight tracks of punishing Black Metal that has influences from the Norwegian, the Swedish and even the Latin American scenes, all bundled into one destructive wall of sound. Formed in 2013, this is one of the revelation BM bands of 2015, so be warned.
Opening with the crushing dissonance of “Dwaallichtbezwering”, the bone chilling riffs are nicely offset by the hellish vocals of Botmuyl perfectly combined with the clean efforts of Alfschijn (ex-Heidevolk). The band’s vocal variety just adds an extra layer of originality to a very powerful mixture of BM styles. “Gelderse drek” leads with some very Taake-esque riffs that will infuse instant head banging.