Archive for Black Metal

Karma Violens – Serpent God

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , on 29th April 2018 by izaforestspirit

Karma Violens
Serpent God
Released 13th April 2018
Black Metal/Extreme Metal
Released via Growl Records

Karma Violens - Serpent God

Serpent God’ is the third album from the Greek extreme metal band Karma Violens. These guys have been around since 2002 and they have toured with bands such as Judas Priest and Arch Enemy. They initially started out playing metalcore but this album marks a shift in style towards black metal direction with a “gloomy and dark atmosphere” and it is recommended for fans of Emperor, Behemoth, Mayhem and Batushka. That description looks promising, let’s see how it sounds…

This is one of those cases when it’s fairly easy to detect where these guys are from even if I hadn’t read the information about them. Greek black metal has a rather distinctive sound – it tends to be fairly atmospheric and usually has at least some melodic parts. Rotting Christ, Astarte and Naer Mataron are good examples of this style. So Karma Violens are in good company.

There’s more than just a hint of black metal. There’s the slower, gloomy, atmospheric tracks like Serpent God which reminded me of early Mayhem due to the raspy vocal style. Then they occasionally pick up the pace with more aggressive-sounding, faster songs such as The Constractors where the guitars and the pummeling drums really take the reins. A Letter to the Worthless Chamber caught my attention as one of the more memorable songs on here, it’s got this “still creepy but almost catchy” black metal feel to it that made me think of the later works of Immortal mixed with some elements of Naer Mataron.

Overall, I am relieved that this wasn’t metalcore. Karma Violens were clearly aiming to create an atmospheric black metal album, and in that they have succeeded. ‘Serpent God’ isn’t a ‘flawless album’ but it definitely has its moments.

4/5

Iza Raittila

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True Black Dawn and Behexen live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , on 14th January 2018 by izaforestspirit

Kyy, True Black Dawn, Behexen
Olympia, Tampere, Finland
13th January 2018

My first concert of 2018! It’s been over a year since I’ve been to a black metal gig – not since Tampere Black Mass two years ago. Behexen is one of the big names within in the Finnish black metal scene and this was their first Tampere show in ten years.

Unfortunately I arrived too late to catch the first act, another Finnish black metal band called Kyy. I did however, see all of True Black Dawn’s performance. By then the venue wasn’t just full but officially sold out. Massive queues to bar and the tightly packed hall were just some of the challenges one had to face to catch a glimpse of the bands. I really struggled to get some decent-looking photos. But enough of that, let’s talk about the show…

True Black Dawn are an established black metal act who have been around in various guises since the mid 1990s. I knew them under their old name Black Dawn and only recently did I discover that they released a new album under the new name not so long ago. Music-wise they reminded me of old Marduk, Funeral Mist and most prominently of Enochian Crescent. The last band name shouldn’t come as much of surprise, since up until recently they shared the same singer. Good show but it sounded a little too familiar, almost as if I have heard similar bands before. 3/5

 

Behexen were worth the worth wait. Though not flawless, their performance was memorable. I particularly enjoyed hearing an old classic ‘The Celebration of Christ’s Fall’ and ‘Rakkaudesta Saatanaan’ from the new album. They also played ‘Kiss of The Dark Mother’ but sadly that didn’t sound quite as good as it does on the record. 4/5

In summary, black metal isn’t always the best genre to see live. Some bands are better than others. Out of all the black metal gigs I’ve been to, only a handful have been memorable. I cannot comment about Kyy; True Black Dawn were fairly average live but Behexen put on good show.

Iza Raittila

Iza’s Highlights of 2017 part 1: Metal

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 29th December 2017 by izaforestspirit

2017 is almost over which means that it’s now time for my annual “Best of” or “Highlights” as I prefer to call them. This year’s edition will be in two parts – metal and industrial. So without further ado here are my top ten metal releases of 2017:

1. Kreator – Gods of Violence
Genre: Thrash Metal

godsofviolence_zps28ifmxs8

 

2. Cradle of Filth – Cryptorina: The Seductiveness of Decay
Genre: Extreme Gothic Metal

 

3. Lacrimosa – Testimonium
Genre: Gothic Rock/Symphonic Metal

Image result for lacrimosa testimonium

4. Lord of the Lost – Swan Songs II
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Rock/Classical

Image result for lord of the lost swan songs ii cover

5. Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal

Ex Deo - The Immortal Wars

6. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
Genre: Death Metal

7. Mono Inc.- Together Till The End
Genre: Dark Rock/Gothic Metal

Together Till The End

8. Doyle – As We Die
Genre: Heavy Metal

Doyle - As We Die

9. Barathrum – Fanatiko
Genre: Black Metal/Doom Metal

Barathrum - Fanatiko

10. Eisbrecher – Sturmfahrt
Genre: Industrial Metal

EISBRECHER - Sturmfahrt

 

Marilyn Manson’s ‘Heaven Upside Down’ didn’t make my top ten list but it’s still a good album which I would recommend. I haven’t been to too many gigs this year but out of the metal shows I’ve attended my favorite would have to be Destruction live in Tampere.

Biggest New Discovery: Mono Inc.

Most anticipated albums of 2018

New albums by Powerwolf, Devilment and hopefully Behemoth.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the industrial/other non metal edition coming soon.

Vecordious – Anthropogenic Deterioration

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , on 9th December 2017 by izaforestspirit

Vecordious

Anthropogenic Deterioration

Released 1st December 2017

Black Metal/ Blackened Death Metal

Self-Released

Vecordious - Anthropogenic Deterioration

‘Anthropogenic Deterioration’ is the debut album from the Norwegian blackened death metal band Vecordious. The band has been around since 2009. Some of my favorite black metal bands are from Norway so I have high expectations for this…

The opening track is essentially just a dark ambient -style intro which does not really give the listener any indication of what’s to come. All is calm before the storm, then it starts… The barrage of abrasive guitar riffs, pummeling drums and ferocious shouts. Oh yes…Make no mistake, this is definitely black metal, not dark ambient. Purging marks the real start of the album and it is an aggressive beast. Vercodious’s overall take on the genre feels like it is influenced by the likes of Belphegor and perhaps to some extent the blackened death metal of early Vesania. Yet despite the aggressive stance these guys are not quite as relentless or as fast as Marduk nor is the music as technically complex as some of the other bands within the scene.

If it’s fast and angry black metal you’re after then The Lycan is the song for you. It’s easily the fastest and the most fierce-sounding track on the album and the probably the closest the band has come to reaching Marduk levels of speed and vehemence. Then there’s the bizarre, experimental dark ambient track ‘The Apparition’ sandwiched between the bombardment of guitar riffs and aggravated shouts. It’s just about long enough to give the listen a short break to take a few deep breaths before the onslaught resumes. Ready or not here they come!! Ghastly Septicity caught my attention for all the wrong reasons, mostly due to the terrible backing vocals. It’s a shame because without those it would have been a decent black metal song.

Overall, ‘ Anthropogenic Deterioration’ is a decent effort; however I think Vecordious still have some work to do in terms of developing their style. The black metal scene is very saturated and there are a lot of similar sounding bands out there. This doesn’t offer anything particularly unique.

3/5
Iza Raittila

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

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