With many Black Metal bands experimenting with all kinds of new elements and some others just focused on releasing kvlt stuff that sounds like it was recorded on a toilet, it is quite refreshing to hear bands like Valgaldr which keep the Norwegian BM torch alive. In “Østenfor sol” the band delivers around 42 minutes of raw and savage BM with the grace and melody of bands like Taake, old Satyricon, old Dark Throne, etc.
Opening with the raw onslaughts of “Tusen Steiner”, the band instantly delivers waves of riffs that are nicely paired with intense drumming and the traditional shrieks. The first standout track in this release is the killer “Et Slott I Skogen”, which features some awesome melodic riffs that will have you headbanging in seconds. This is exactly what we expect from a Norwegian BM band, killer melodic riffs paired with crushing intensity and rawness.
From the mastermind behind Galaktik Cancer Squad, today we have Morphinist and their original debut release album from 2013 which didn’t see the light of day until 2016. In “Terraforming”, this one-man battalion delivers 35 minutes of truly skilled Atmospheric Black Metal with some Post-Black Metal and Doom influences. If you are a fan of Argwohn’s unique musical vision with GCS, you will definitely enjoy this one.
Opening with the 15 minute behemoth “Terraforming I”, the album starts in a very Doom-like manner with crushing riffs and a very sluggish tempo. After some more mood setting passages, things blow up with a furious BM pace. The transitions are quite seamless and very well delivered, making such changes not contrasting but rather complementary in an extremely unique way.
Hailing from Italy, today we have the very unconventional Avant-garde Black Metal outfit VIII and their sophomore release “Decathexis”. Featuring over 45 minute of highly entertaining and chaotic music, this release is quite engaging and well crafted, as you never know what to expect next.
Opening with the Black Metal onslaughts of “Symptom”, the band starts punishing the listener with the aggressive side of their music. The throbbing bass guitar line stands out from the band’s relentless onslaughts. The tempo changes featured in this track give it a sinister edge when paired with the extra atmospheric elements.
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.
Hailing from Indonesia, today we have Black Metal battalion Barzakh and a re-release of their crushing 2007 album “In A Meaning the Note”. BM bands from this country have a very distinctive sound and as soon as you listen to one song from this album you can recognize it. Delivering around 26 minutes of devastating music in the span of seven songs, this album is quite intense and not for the faint of heart or mind.
Opening with the crushing catchiness of “Shadow in the Grief”, the band delivers very melodic riffs underneath their fowl harsh screams and intense tempo. This track is a very solid opener as it grabs your attention in a very direct way. Keeping the level of intensity, we have “She's Not Honoured” and “Hatred in Mourn Heart” pummeling the listener while maintaining the band’s characteristic vibe and throwing in some cool guitar leads to keep things fresh.
Hailing from Italy, today we have two-man outfit Abisso and their debut release “WRNSS” out on Third-I-Rex. Featuring around 40 minutes of soul crushing Black Metal, this release creates a crushing atmosphere that is oppressive and nature and never lets go. Highly consistent, Abisso’s oppressive sound is nicely contrasted by a few experimental elements that the band introduces occasionally. If you like powerful Black Metal which focuses more on atmosphere than speed, this is the album for you.
Opening with the dissonant “I”, the band slowly builds up their atmospheric vibe with incisive riffs and tight drumming. The deeper vocals fit the atmosphere perfectly as they command more attention than your traditional BM shriek. Continuing their atmospheric onslaught, “II” provides the perfect progression in the band’s aural abuse. Avoiding being too linear, the band experiments with intricate bass guitar lines and some interesting guitar leads that change the direction of the track momentarily.
Originally labeled as a mysterious Chinese outfit, Ghost Bath has taken the Depressive Black Metal/Post-Black Metal scene by surprise since their debut release “Funeral”. The band plays very raw and emotional Black Metal that instantly transmits feelings of despair and unease, unlike any other band in the world. Fast-forward 2 years since the release of their debut album, the band turned out to be from North Dakota and their sophomore release (which is even better than the fest) is currently being re-released through Nuclear Blast in June 2016.
Having played over a thousand times “Moonlover” when it first came out in 2015, it is quite impressive to see that this release still has the same effect on us after more than a year. Opening with the mysterious atmospheric elements of “The Sleeping Fields”, the album comes wide open until the blistering “Golden Number”. In this track, we can instantly hear the band’s raw emotions explode with the harsh vocals as they perfectly contrast the intense drumming and the punishing riffs. The track nicely morphs into a very unique kind of beast when the guitar leads change the tempo and the drumming because more intricate. Comparisons to the likes of Deafheaven, Bosse-de-Nage are instantly warranted, but Ghost Bath is its own unique monster.
Hailing from our cold and desolate neighbor in the north, Canada, today we have one-man battalion Feral and their solid debut release “For Those Who Live in Darkness”. Nicely combining elements from bands like Vreid, Agalloch, Inquisition into a sound that is quite raw, but still in development, this release is actually quite enjoyable. For over 60 minutes of music we can her how this young outfit tries an assortment of different things in order to find its own sound.
The atmospheric opening of “Entering Darkness” nicely leads the way as the guitar’s take center stage and delivering a pummeling and moderately intense outburst. This track has a certain Viking/Pagan Metal edge to it, making it engaging and entertaining. As “Nocturnal Queen” and “True Forgotten Beauty” come around, we can instantly hear the mixture of Agalloch and Inquisition elements into the band’s music. A better testament of the band’s interest in defining their own sound is the track “Weeping Earthbound Spirit”, which features a tense atmosphere after a killer dose of solid riffs.
Delivering over 55 minutes of superbly catchy Black/Pagan/Viking Metal, today we have France’s Vindland and their debut full-length release “Hanter Savet”. With the current influx of brilliant French bands to the Metal scene, it is not surprising that this band is a good as they are. Perfectly capturing the essence of bands like Kampfar, Windir, Thyrfing, this band has managed to craft nine excellent songs that will have you headbanging from start to end.
Opening with some great intensity, “Orin Kozh” immediately sets the pace for quite a hectic and yet melodic release. The band perfectly weaves back and forth between full-on Metal sections and more subtle Folk-ish influences. The incisive riffing is exactly what makes this release quite melodic and enjoyable, similar to what one would expect from the genre. Tracks like “Treuzwelus”, “Serr-Noz” and “Pedenn Koll” really showcase how the band excels in writing cunning songs that are quite enjoyable and satisfying.
Turning 20 years old, today we have a remastered version of Satyricon’s masterpiece “Nemesis Divina”. Considered one of the most important Black Metal albums of the history of the genre, this album marked a unique contrast between the traditional Trve Norwegian Black Metal and more refined, melodic, and lush interpretations of the genre. Many people hated the band after this ‘soft’ release, but it is as crushing as any other BM at the time. Sounding a bit better than before, Napalm Records brings back tons of memories with the re-release of this album.
As the opener “The Dawn of a New Age” delivers the line ‘This is Armageddon’, chills instantly run over our spines. The music is raw and brutal while still being elegant and better directed than other releases of the time. The novelty of this album was the mixture of slower tempos and more melodic elements as we can hear as the opener winds down and “Forhekset” rolls in. The atmospheric use of synths also adds depth to the music, while causing confusion and anger to fans of the genre’s traditional rawness.