Archive for Black Metal

Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th September 2017 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Cradle of Filth
Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay
Released 22nd September 2017
Extreme Gothic Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

If you’ve never heard of Cradle of Filth, you’ve most likely been living under a rock for God knows how long. Once hailed as the “most successful British metal band since Iron Maiden“, Dani Filth and and the band have proved their worth, despite various line-up changes throughout the years. Now the band are set to release their twelfth studio album: Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay. A bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?

The atmospheric invoking Exquisite Torments Await opens up the album with its sinister beginning, followed closely by the demoncially possessed guitars and banshee-like wails and guttural growls of Filth himself. Heartbreak and Seance glides in with the graceful sound of tragedy before the remorseless storm of guitars and symphonic sections come raging in as though a hurricane. Achingly Beautiful is a grandiose display of Dani Filth‘s vocals, charging through the tempest of unforgiving musicianship, while Schoolcraft’s narrative vocals bring a whole new dynamic to the track. The choirs and orchestration, however, truly make the song what it is – a dismal, ominous anthem.

Wester Vespertine is a furious blitz upon the ears, weaving Filth‘s, and occasionally Schoolcraft’s, refined vocals with cimmerian melodies and stout riffs. The title track, The Seductiveness of Decay, is a gloomy composition, weaving slow and fast riffs with dispiriting keyboard melodies and Gothic lyricism. Vengeful Spirit creates more of an atmosphere in its beginning, as the prophetic sound of guitar notes ring out, accompanied by Filth‘s voice. When the song comes into its prime, it is essentially a standard day in the office for Cradle Of Filth – agile, cumbersome and melodic. The part of the song that really stands out however is the guest vocal appearance from Liv Kristine, as her vocals soar majestically through the track.

You Will Know The Lion By His Claw is a swift, threatening and unwieldy track, leaving little room for prisoners as it bludgeons its way through, like a hunter chasing his prey. If you had to sum up Cradle‘s current sound with just one song, this would be it. Cryptoriana comes to its closing with Death and The Maiden, a track that is as weighty as it is shadowy, really embodying the sense of dread and darkness that one would expect to find within Victorian Gothic horror.

Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is at the same level that Cradle‘s classic albums, such as Midian and Dusk… And Her Embrace, stand. It is a demonstration of the band’s current sound and displays their potential to keep writing awe-inspiring music.

4.8/5

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Advertisements

Iza’s Highlights of 2016 (Part 2: Metal)

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31st December 2016 by izaforestspirit

Time for the second part of my highlights of 2016, the metal edition. This part was much harder to write than the first because it took me a long time to chose my top ten metal of albums and even longer to decide on the winner. So here are my top ten favourite metal releases of 2016:

1. Vader – The Empire
Genre: Death Metal

This year, Vader strikes back with ‘The Empire’… Let’s face it, they were kind of asking for comments like this with that kind of an album title. Star Wars jokes aside, this is a really good piece of work. If you’re looking for some new death metal to check out, I would strongly recommend this album. Unlike their previous work, the masterpiece that was ‘Tibi et Igni’, ‘The Empire’ shows a back to basics approach. No complex structures or atmospheric intros, just good, old-school thrashy death metal. Best tracks: ‘Iron Reign’, ‘No Gravity’ and ‘Army-Geddon’.

2. Rob Zombie – The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser
Genre: Hard Rock/Industrial Metal

This year’s runner up deserves an award for coming up with the one of the longest album titles in years. I tend to refer to it simply as ‘The Electric Warlock’… Whilst still no match for his first two albums, ‘The Electric Warlock’ is Rob Zombie’s best work in years. Favourite tracks ‘The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore’, ‘In the Age of the Consecrated Vampire We All Get High’ and the ultra cheesy but super catchy ‘The Life and Times of a Teenage Rock God’.

3. Devilment – II- The Mephisto Waltzes
Symphonic Gothic Metal/ Groove Metal

For those of you who read my highlights of 2015, you might remember my comments on the latest Cradle of Filth album. This year their vocalist Dani Filth has been busy working on the second album for his other band Devilment. ‘II- The Mephisto Waltzes’ is a delightful opus which happily mixes a variety of metal genres including Gothic, symphonic and groove metal. There’s even a touch of humour in the lyrics and several references to horror movies, modern horror literature and art – most notably Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King. Best tracks are ‘Hitchcock Blonde’, ‘Dea Della Morte’ and ‘Full, Dark No Stars’.

4. Mortiis – The Great Deceiver
Genre: Industrial Metal

Ever since the Norwegian musician Mortiis started his own band in the mid ’90s, there has been some debate as to what category their music fits into. The older works are very much dark ambient, followed by the synth-pop period of ‘Smell of Rain, turning into the latest era of industrial rock. Their latest effort, the ultra creepy -sounding ‘The Great Deceiver’ is undoubtedly their heaviest and most complex album to date which is why I chose to include it in my metal top 10. Best tracks: ‘Doppelganger’, ‘Demons are Back’ and ‘Shining Lamp of God’.

5. Moonsorrow – Jumalten aika
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

Moonsorrow caught my attention after I saw them live at Tampere Metal Meeting Festival in the summer. I like some of their older material and after hearing some of the new songs live I decided to check out their newest album ‘Jumalten aika’. This is one of those releases where there are no real outstanding tracks, but rather the whole album is worth listening to in full. It’s one of the best pieces of pagan black metal that I’ve heard in a long while.

6. The Vision Bleak – The Unknown
Genre: Gothic Horror Metal

German Gothic horror metal duo The Vision Bleak are back with a new album. ‘The Unknown’ struck me as being somewhat “Lovecraftian”, both in the visual concept of the cover art and the the lyrical themes. Musically it is in every bit that you can expect from a Vision Bleak album; eerie Gothic horror metal with some doom influences added creating the soundtrack to your worst nightmare. Best tracks ‘The Kindred of The Sunset’ and ‘Into the Unknown’.

7. Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Genre: Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal

Just in case anyone is wondering why the new Metallica is so low down on this list, the truth is that I expected it to be better than it turned out to be. After all, it’s been eight years since their last studio album. Needless to say that the expectations were high. I wasn’t expecting this to be another ‘Master of Puppets’ or ‘Ride the Lightning’ but I was hoping for something along the lines of ‘Death Magnetic’ which I really enjoyed. Luckily ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct’ isn’t as bad as ‘St. Anger’ but it’s hardly a masterpiece. To be honest I think that it would be have been better off as an EP with just four or five tracks instead of the 12 songs and 13 music videos. I definitely like the first disc more than the second one and my favourites include: ‘Moth To The Flame’, ‘Dream No More’ and ‘Spit Out The Bone’.

8. Sabaton – The Last Stand
Genre: Power Metal

Sabaton are one of the very few power metal bands that I like. I’ve always enjoyed their live shows and I’m very fond of the concept album ‘Carolus Rex’. As with all Sabaton albums, their latest piece of work doesn’t disappoint as far as the historical themes go. This one tells the stories of eleven defensive “last stand” battles. Each song focuses on a different battle from various historical events ranging from ancient Greece, medieval Scotland, the two World Wars to Japan at the time of the samurais. That sounds awesome in principal, if only the actual music was that good. Sadly it isn’t. It’s ok but not great and most of the time Sabaton are just recycling old ideas, changing the themes but making similar music. The only tracks that I liked are: ‘Shiroyama’, ‘The Last Battalion’ and ‘Blood at Bannockburn’.

9. DevilDriver
Trust No One
Genre: Groove Metal

DevilDriver - Trust No One

The only real groove metal entry on this list, ‘Trust No One’ is DevilDriver’s best work in years. It is an aggressive beast of guitar-driven groove metal made all the more powerful thanks to Dez Fafara’s vicious growls. Best tracks: ‘Trust No One’ and ‘Daybreak’.

10. Theatres des Vampires – Candyland
Genre: Gothic Metal

It’s been a while since the Italian Gothic metal band Theatres des Vampires have released anything new. I’ve been a fan of their music for many years and so I was keen to get my hands on a copy of their latest piece of work. ‘Candyland’ is somewhat more metal-sounding than its predecessor ‘Moonlight Waltz’. There are notably less vampire themes on here compared to the previous album but other than that not much has changed. Sonya Scarlet is still the key figure in Theatres des Vampires. Whilst I still prefer their older works, back when Lord Vampyr was still a member of the band, I did enjoy this album. Best tracks ‘The Morgana Effect’ and ‘Resurrection Mary’.

 
Biggest New Discovery: Powerwolf
Best live show of 2016: Powerwolf live in Tampere
Most anticipated albums of 2017:
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
New albums from Cradle of Filth and (hopefully) Behemoth.

That’s all from me for now. Happy New Year!

Tampere Black Mass III

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , on 3rd December 2016 by izaforestspirit

Ragnarok, Barathrum, Thyrane

Kuivaamo, Tampere, Finland
2nd December 2016

Kuivaamo is a brand new event venue located outside Tampere city centre in one of the nearby suburbs. It opened a couple of months ago and it has hosted only a handful of events so far. Last night it acted as the venue for Tampere Black Mass III – part of a series of black and extreme metal events happening in Finland known collectively as Black Mass Finland. The line-up featured some of the biggest bands from the local black metal scene including: Barathrum, Thyrane and Horna along with the Norwegian black metallers Ragnarok.

The night was supposed to begin with a show by the death metal band Vorum. Sadly they had to cancel their performance for personal reasons. Their replacement was a black metal band called Charnel Winds. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of their show. They started out playing some decent-sounding black metal before shifting towards a slower, more progressive style later on. Their set was a bit of a mixed bag – some good, some rather dismal-sounding music. 2/5

I’ve seen Barathrum live a few times before. Their shows tend to be “hit’n’miss”, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculously bad. It all depends on their frontman Demonos Sova’s state and his ability to perform. I’ve seen the extremes; one show during which he was too drunk to even stand let alone remember his own lyrics and one great show (at Tampere Metal Meeting Festival) where he was in top form. This one can be counted as one of their good shows. Whilst clearly no longer sober, Mr. Sova still managed to agitate the crowds and deliver a decent performance. Highlights included: ‘Black Goat’, ‘Witchmaster’, ‘Saatana’, ‘Legions of Perkele’ and ‘Angelraper’. 3/5

Next up was the symphonic black metal band Thyrane. This was easily the best performance of the night. It was a very energetic and entertaining show even if they only played old songs. They have recently reformed after a long hiatus so hopefully there will be some new material coming soon. 5/5

I’ve seen Baptism live before. They generally sound slightly better live than on the albums. This show was a little different because they had a member of Horna as a guest vocalist on some of the songs. It was a decent performance but a lot of their songs sounded similar without much variety. 3/5

Ragnarok had a late start, almost half an hour past the scheduled start time. They experienced some serious problems with the sound that was never fully fixed. There were times when you could barely hear the guitars or bass. Things improved a little towards the end but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. At least I got to hear some of the hits such as ‘Blackdoor Miracle’, ‘In Nomine Satanas’ along with several tracks from their latest album. 3/5

Sadly I did not get to see Horna because of the confusion with the timetable and the problems with the sound system.

In summary, this was my first time at Tampere Black Mass. The new venue has its quirks and it did not yet look like the finished article. It’s outside of the city centre making it somewhat more tricky to get to. As for the bands, I really enjoyed watching Thyrane, Barathrum was decent and Ragnarok turned out to be a disappointment due to the sound problems. It’s a shame because I’ve heard their albums and I know that they have the potential to put on a great show.

Iza Raittila

Inquisition live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , on 20th November 2016 by izaforestspirit

Korgonthurus, Inquisition
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
19th November 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a black metal gig. The last two were in the summer when I saw Baptism and Barathrum live at a festival. I’ve seen a fair few of black metal shows in the past; only a handful of which were memorable in any way. Lately it’s been mostly the local black metal acts such as Horna and Barathrum that tour here, most of whom I’ve seen live before. So a foreign black metal band such as Inquisition is a rare treat since they do not tour Finland very often.

The venue was still filling up when the support act Korgonthurus started their set. I was actually pleasantly surprised as to how melodic they sounded as I was expecting some ultra harsh and raw black metal. Instead, this sounded more like old Horna. Only later did I discover that two of the band members including the singer used to play in Horna for several years. It was a good start to the night and it was definitely much better than I expected. 3.5/5

Inquisition drew in a sizable crowd. Unlike the previous band they started off rather slow, picking up the pace as the show went on. I’m not familiar with their latest albums but I did recognize one of the older songs ‘Dark Mutilation Rites’. It was good to see that they haven’t changed their style over the years. The new material has the same thrash metal tones in the guitar riffs mixed with a dark atmosphere and Dagon’s ghastly-sounding croaky vocals. The drumming was so accurate and perfectly timed that there was no need for any bass. Very impressive performance from this black metal duo. 4/5

Overall this was a good night and I’m glad that I got to see Inquisition live. Korgonthurus turned out to be better than I expected. This was one of the better black metal gigs that I’ve been to and it would be great to watch more shows like this in the future.

Iza Raittila

Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

Posted in CD, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 16th October 2016 by izaforestspirit

Darkthrone
Arctic Thunder
Released 14th October 2016
Blackened Heavy Metal
Released via Peaceville Records

The Norwegian metal duo Darkthrone doesn’t need much of an introduction. Their early albums such as ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’ are regarded as classics of the black metal genre. Also, let’s not forget their drummer Fenriz’s witty comments and his passion of underground music. They’re one of those bands who isn’t afraid to alter their style and experiment with something new. Since the start of their career they have gone through various transformations ranging from death metal to black metal followed by experimentation with punk and heavy metal music. Personally I lost track of them after ‘The Cult is Alive’ album back in 2006. Then recently I heard their new song ‘Tundra Leech’ on Youtube and I decided to give them another go.

First up is the familiar, eerie sounding Tundra Leech – the track which convinced me to obtain a copy of this album. It’s great to hear Nocturno Culto’s haunting voice again, sounding just as grim as he did in the band’s early days of black metal. Nocturno Culto is singing on all the tracks on here which is really good in my opinion. I’ve always preferred his harsh and creepy vocal style to Fenriz’s hooting clear vocals. As for the music, the guitars have this old school feel to them as if they were trying to replicate similar riff patterns as they used in the 90s. By ‘old school’ I mean a mixture of old school black metal with a slight thrash metal tinge audible in the guitars.

In other words it’s still very grim-sounding but it’s way too fast and too catchy to be considered “true” and “kvlt” black metal any more. Boreal Fiends stands out due the melodic instrumental intro at the start; slowly drawing you closer into the deep dark forest with the grim guitars, drums and Nocturno Culto’s haunting howls as your only guides. Then there’s Inbred Vermin, a bit of an oddity, which sees the band play around with some heavy metal and (dare-I-say-it?)…Motörhead-esque guitar patterns mid-track, neatly sandwiched between frostbitten, ultra-haunting howls and black metal guitar riffs. These guys clearly enjoy both these styles, so why not combine those two? And why not? Who says that Motörhead doesn’t go well with Hellhammer or Celtic Frost? Also why stop there when you can also add some thrash metal into the mix? That pretty much sums up what the managed to achieve rather successfully with the title track.

Overall this ‘Arctic Thunder’ sees Darkthrone revisiting their roots – the sounds that have influenced them in the early days and putting a new spin on it. It’s got the same eerie and cold atmosphere as their highly regarded black metal albums, but it’s not restricted to one specific metal genre. The closest thing I can think of to describe their current sound would be something like ‘blackened heavy metal’. Luckily I’m not any kind black metal purist, so grim and frostbitten ‘blackened heavy metal’ sounds just as good to me.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Neige et Noirceur – Les Ténèbres Modernes

Posted in Metal with tags , , on 26th May 2016 by izaforestspirit

Neige et Noirceur
Les Ténèbres Modernes
Released 24th June 2016
Raw Black Metal/Ambient
Released via Sepulchral Productions

Neige et Noirceur (French for ‘Snow and Blackness’) is a French Canadian raw black metal project which was formed by the singer and multi-instrumentalist Zifond in 2005. It’s part of the growing Quebequois black metal scene or “le métal noir québécois” as it is known as within the francophone metal community. His latest effort ‘Les Ténèbres Modernes’ is a concept album about World War I and it features Schimaera (Industrie Chimère Noire, Portal, Profound Lore) on guest vocals.

The opener Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum sets the scene with its haunting guitars and grim vocals. It’s an interesting mixture of raw black metal similar to Burzum with some ambient and atmospheric elements such as keyboards and operatic-style choir samples at the start. Yet this is actually one of the slower and more melodic tracks on here. What follows is a barrage of nihilistic, harsh and eerie raw black metal that’s as bleak as its subject matter. Even the dark ambient parts such as the keyboard intro to La Saison des Morts or the end of Ciel d’Acier have that ghastly tinge, making the listener feel like one of the survivours of a battle, walking through a desolate field littered with blood and dead bodies.

Then there’s Felgrau – an instrumental which is mostly dark ambient with the only “metal” element being the faint sound of a distorted guitar in the background. Perhaps this marks the point when the battle has ended and the rain has started to wash away the blood from the trenches…The avantgarde-style, ambient final track Adieux acts as a good summary of the overall theme with the sounds of gunfire, bomb blasts, radio broadcast, alarm sirens and absolutely no black metal elements at all.

Overall, to say that I’ve enjoyed this album would an inaccurate assumption. One does not enjoy raw black metal but rather it is something to get engrossed into and admire. It’s just as grim and nihilistic as I expected it to be. Even when sang in French, a supposedly more melodic language, it sounds harsh and bleak.

4/5
Iza Raittila

Abbath – Abbath

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 19th February 2016 by izaforestspirit

Abbath
Abbath
Released 22nd January 2016
Black Metal
Released via Season of Mist


The ex-Immortal frontman Abbath is back with a new album, his debut release under his own moniker after parting ways with his former band members. He is joined by two other musicians, bassist King (God Seed, Ov Hell, ex-Gorgoroth) and drummer Creature aka Kevin Foley (ex-Benighted, live drums for Sepultura and Decapitated). The album includes a cover of Judas Priest’s ‘Riding on the Wind’ and an old Immortal track.

Straight from the start we’re greeted by a barrage of thrashing guitar riffs, Creature’s relentless pummeling drums and of course Abbath’s signature black metal vocals. So far, so grim and frostbitten, which is exactly what I expected this music to be. Winterbane sounds as though it was a leftover from one of last two Immortal albums, possibly ‘Sons of Northern Darkness’. Other parts made me think of Abbath’s currently dormant project I.

The pace tends to vary, shifting between the aggressive and intense,”blackened heavy metal” war anthems like Count Your Dead; the ferocious acid rain of guitars that is Fenrir Hunts to the more melodic, mid-career Bathory-style Viking black metal tracks like Root of the Mountain. On the whole, it’s the subtle details that make certain tracks stand out more than others. This is one of those albums that requires a few listens in order to be fully appreciated.

In summary, this is a fairly decent black metal album. My only issue with it is that it doesn’t offer anything distinctively different to what Abbath has done before. Only time will tell how this band will develop in the future.

4/5

Iza Raittila