Album Review – Svartulven / Ruins of Desolation, Transcendence for the Other Side (2021)

Immerse yourself into the 40 minutes of Orthodox Black Metal split into seven obscure arias carefully crafted by an up-and-coming horde from the Hellenic Republic.

3.5rating

If you’re an admirer of the darkest side of extreme music it’s time for you to enjoy some Orthodox Black Metal made in Greece in the vein of Misotheist and Ascension, courtesy of an occult and mystic entity known as Svartulven armed with their debut opus entitled Ruins of Desolation, Transcendence for the Other Side. Mixed by Nikos Trialonis at Goblin’s Lair Studios in Greece, mastered by V.Santura at Woodshed Studio in Germany, and displaying a cryptic cover artwork by Adrian Baxter, the album brings forward 40 minutes of ass-kicking Black Metal split into seven obscure arias carefully crafted by this up-and-coming horde from the Hellenic Republic.

Arising from the depths of the underworld, this uncanny band comes ripping with their phantasmagorical sounds in Witness of Fire Beyond, with its venomous roars and strident riffs penetrating deep inside your psyche in a great display of sulfurous Black Metal, whereas Svartulven in Twilight begins in full force with its pounding drums hammering our cranial skulls mercilessly, also displaying an amazing fusion of visceral screams with some background vocalizations and, therefore, being highly recommended for fans of a more progressive and diverse style of Black Metal. And continuing their path of devastation, obscurity and evil, Svartulven deliver the straightforward extravaganza Therianthropic Metamorphosis, again presenting classic blast beats, Stygian guitars, low-tuned bass lines, and a crushing sense of despair that permeates the air until the very last second.

The Parable of Abel offers us all five minutes of sheer darkness in the form of old school Black Metal, or in other words, it’s another amazing example of what the band is capable of doing, with the song’s razor-edged riffs generating a pulverizing paradox with its groovy bass jabs. Back to a more classic sound, Herald of Eternal Damnation presents a mid-tempo start spearheaded by their always harsh vociferations that explodes into an avalanche of brutality and violence, resulting in a lecture in Black Metal by such talented Hellenic outfit. Their second to last onrush of extreme music comes in the form of Feast for the Black Earth, again showcasing a heavier-than-hell kitchen, a sinister atmosphere and sharp riffs for our total delight, before the band crushes us one last time with The Crystal Scythe of the Old, a beyond caustic composition where its wicked vocals and a disturbing ambience will haunt our damned souls until all fades into the unknown.

The gates to the Hellenic underworld are open thanks to Svartulven and their Ruins of Desolation, Transcendence for the Other Side, and in order to join them in their quest for extreme music you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and soon purchase a copy of their austere new album from Dark Terror Temple’s BandCamp page or webstore, proving you’re a true servant of darkness. Although the names of the musicians that are part of such distinguished horde are unknown, in the end that’s just a minor detail taking into account the high quality of the music found in their debut effort, and they can keep their identities as secret as they want as long as they keep delivering more of their incendiary Black Metal for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Svartulven in Twilight and Herald of Eternal Damnation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Dark Terror Temple/The Chalice Prod

Track listing
1. Witness of Fire Beyond 7:01
2. Svartulven in Twilight 4:59
3. Therianthropic Metamorphosis 6:30
4. The Parable of Abel 5:15
5. Herald of Eternal Damnation 4:19
6. Feast for the Black Earth 4:35
7. The Crystal Scythe of the Old 6:01

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”