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.
With a very exciting 2013 in terms of music, Ván Records unleashes “Earth Air Spirit Water Fire” just in the nick of time to make it to countless top 10 of the year lists. Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies delivers five tracks of magical (and sometimes very unsettling) Psychedelic Rock in this unique release. Being less heavy, and more mystical than any of The Devil’s Blood releases, Selim manages to create a very unique atmosphere that nicely flows from start to end.
Opening with the 10-minute “Chiaroscuro”, we get quite a mood setting introduction with some deranged ramblings in some audio-clips followed by a very hypnotic build-up. The vocal arrangements on this track are top-notch and create a very eerie vibe. Farida Lemouchi lends her talents to this very ritualistic and creepy song, marking a very atmospheric and unsettling opening to this release. The psychedelic brilliance continues with the emotive “Next Stop, Universe B.”, where we hear Selim’s signature guitar work in a very retro environment.
Keeping their cavernous and compact Black Metal sound from their debut full-length “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”, today we have Norway’s Saligia and their sickening EP “Lvx Aeternae”. Delivering four track and 25 minutes of truly haunting Black Metal, this band is a combination of the rawness and directness of Watain with sickening atmospheric elements of bands like Bethlehem. If you like your Black Metal to be harsh, but obscure and focused more on cavernous atmospheres over extreme over-the-top tremolo-picking, you are in luck with this release.
The band blasts this release wide open with the crushing “Per Aspera Ad Astra”. In this track Ahzari’s powerful vocals make up for 60% of the overall raw power of their sound, while his pulsating bass guitar line adds to the destruction. The cavernous atmosphere continue with the album title track, but make no mistake and think the production is weak, since you can listen clearly to every single cymbal of V’s drums.
Being highly shocked by the sudden disbandment of The Devil’s Blood, we received the news of Selim Lemouchi continuing doing music under a new moniker with high hopes and expectations. Under his new ‘band name’ Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies, Selim delivers this short but sweet EP featuring three songs of trippy and engaging Occult/Psychedelic Rock music. While not as explosive and catchy as The Devil’s Blood pre-breakup material, all the tracks presented here have that sense of melody and weirdness that we loved so much from TDB.
Opening with “Echaton”, we immediately feel the dark atmosphere descend upon us. The Doomy and Occult vibe in this track is quite thick and enjoyable since it reminds us a bit of Jex Thoth and her enigmatic music. This track is quite relaxing and mysterious, with very soothing guitars and hypnotic drums. “Thistle” is a track that has a familiar TDB vibe, but with a more direct and less polished approach. The vocals are quite fitting for the music and greatly enhance the experience.
After striking gold with The Devil’s Blood and their intoxicating sound, Ván Records brings to us Gold, a female-led Hard Rock band from the Netherlands. With a style similar to label mates Vanderbuyst but a little bit darker, this band delivers nine songs of catchy and well-constructed Rock songs that have a warm and fuzzy feeling that is rare these days. Thanks to the fresh and unique voice of Milena Eva, this band has a good fighting chance against a very tough competition in such a crowded genre.
Since the opener “One of Us”, we can hear the band’s excellent abilities to craft catchy hard-rocking music, but it is Milena who steals the show with her very unique voice. With the guitar work being pretty solid, the catchy chorus sections of tracks like “Antebellum” and “Love, The Magician”, are what really hooks the listener into liking the band. “Gone Under”, shows a more playful side of the band that nicely combines the heavy guitar work with a more pop-ish vocal structure that works wonders and nicely gives the band a refreshing approach to the genre.
Delivering a very interesting combination of Black Metal with some Gothic/Dark Metal elements, today we have Germany’s Freitod and their sophomore release “Regenjahre”. This journey through seven tracks and 52 minutes of brilliantly crafted music is a very unique one since the band keeps a perfect balance between harsh and aggressive Black Metal brush strokes and highly melancholic overtones creating a lush Post-Black Metal experience.
The album start with the title track and the band immediately sets the mood with excellent guitar work and a very catchy pace. The melodic aspect of Freitod is excellent and on tracks like this one they use it perfectly. Combining crushing harsh vocals with dreamy Gothic Metal/Rock clean vocal sections the band creates a very unique and melancholic atmosphere. The band further uses these tools to contrast the brutality of their Black Metal roots with their lush melancholic side, and tracks like “Der Traumsturm” and “Neue Wege” are clear examples of this.