Album Review – Demonia Mundi / In Grembo Mater… (2021)

After over a decade of silence, this infernal Italian horde returns from the netherworld with an amazing, ritualistic concept album based on the figure of the Mother Goddess.

3.5rating

demonia-mundi-in-grembo-mater-2021Born in 1994 in Reggio di Calabria, a coastal city in southern Italy, by the will of their vocalist Daemonia, influenced by obscure Italian metal music, 90’s Epic Black Metal horde Demonia Mundi returns in full force after 12 years of silence with their new long-awaited full length album titled In Grembo Mater…, their best and most ambitious work to date, a stunning concept album featuring a furious metal journey enhanced by beautiful folkish atmospheres that reminds of cult bands such as Death SS, Opera IX, Windir and Limbonic Art. Currently comprised of the aforementioned frontman Daemonia together with guitarists Morlock and Vagrant, bassist Beast and drummer Uw, this Stygian Italian entity brought into being a concept album based on the figure of the Mother Goddess, a ritualistic path in which the music is a soundtrack that leads the listener during the evocation and invocation of familiar demons, realized using also traditional and ritualistic instruments  used thousand years ago during the Matriarchal Era previous to our Patriarchal Era, with the album art representing the double-headed axe, or the weapon symbol of the Mother Goddess.

The fires of Black Metal burn bright accompanied by melancholic acoustic guitars in the intro Iniziazione (or “initiation” in English), with the vociferations by Daemonia setting the tone for A:·A:·Of Black Fogs And Shaded Empires, exploding into a Dimmu Borgir-inspired hybrid of Symphonic and Epic Black Metal led by the incendiary riffs by Morlock and Vagrant, therefore sounding dense and bold from start to finish. Uw and Beast generate a venomous base for their bandmates in the infuriated hymn Et In Arcadia Ego, exhaling sulfur and hatred while once again presenting an old school Black Metal sonority with imposing and epic background elements, ending in a darkly tribal way; whereas an acoustic start evolves into a feast of Black and Doom Metal in Alesa, where Daemonia’s devilish gnarls will haunt your soul for all eternity supported by the pounding beats by Uw and all phantasmagorical sounds that permeate the atmosphere in this hellish composition.

And cryptic, eerie sounds enfold us all in The Golden Bough, before Beast begins hammering his bass in great fashion, once again morphing into a disruptive and vicious display of Symphonic Black Metal that sounds majestic and infernal, with Uw being unstoppable behind his drum set, while razor-edged riffs and the otherworldly growling by Daemonia are the main ingredients in the also demolishing Hieros Gamos, not to mention the song’s skull crushing aura. After such disruptive tune we have Intra Grembo, where the band slows things down a bit and sounds more melodic than before, spearheaded by the stylish guitars by Morlock and Vagrant. However, although they tried to make it sound like a black mass, it unfortunately falls flat in the end. Lastly, another Stygian intro evolves into the early Cradle of Filth-inspired hymn The Horned And His Thousand Whelps, where all band members are on fire with their sonic weapons, in special Daemonia with his vicious roaring and Uw with his violent but very intricate beats and fills, until the music fades into a ritualistic, horror movie-ish ambience that goes on until the very last second.

demonia-mundi-2021In a nutshell, if you consider yourself a lover of the darkest side of music, I’m sure you’ll have an absolute blast listening to In Grembo Mater…, which is by the way available for a full and detailed listen on YouTube and on Spotify, as the album brings forward all elements we learned to love in such distinct type of heavy music through the years. In addition, if you want to put your evil hands on this amazing opus, you can purchase it from several locations including the Cult Of Parthenope’s BandCamp page, Season of Mist, IndieMerchstore and Amazon, or simply click HERE for other places where you can buy or stream the album. Also, don’t forget to follow Demonia Mundi on Facebook for news, tour dates and more of their demonic music. It might have taken over a decade for Daemonia and his venomous horde to provide us fans with a new batch of devilish arias, but after listening to In Grembo Mater… we must all admit the wait was absolutely worth it, inviting us all to worship the Mother Goddess to the sound of their wicked Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: A:·A:·Of Black Fogs And Shaded Empires, The Golden Bough and The Horned And His Thousand Whelps.

Worst moments of the album: Intra Grembo.

Released in 2021 Cult Of Parthenope

Track listing
1. Iniziazione 2:28
2. A:·A:·Of Black Fogs And Shaded Empires 6:49
3. Et In Arcadia Ego 6:13
4. Alesa 5:49
5. The Golden Bough 4:57
6. Hieros Gamos 5:03
7. Intra Grembo 6:43
8. The Horned And His Thousand Whelps 8:16

Band members
Daemonia – vocals
Morlock – guitars, backing vocals
Vagrant – guitars, backing vocals
Beast – bass
Uw – drums

Album Review – Liminal Shroud / Through the False Narrows (2020)

Behold the debut opus by a Canadian Black Metal horde that takes inspiration from the surging oceans and mist-strewn coast as they explore themes of futility, passage, and individual and metaphysical transformation.

Take these ashes – take these dreams of worlds to come
Only self remains – only what is true

As the skies turn grey and dense fogs hang above the shoreline, Canadian Black Metal unity Liminal Shroud will expel a swirl of melancholia and torment over its moss-strewn forests and perilous waves in their debut full-length album, titled Through the False Narrows. Formed in late 2017 in Victoria, British Columbia, the three-piece band comprised of Aidan Crossley on vocals and guitar, Rich Taylor on bass and vocals, and Drew Davidson on drums takes inspiration from the surging oceans and mist-strewn coast as they explore themes of futility, passage, and individual and metaphysical transformation in their new opus, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Ash Borer, Drudkh and Fen. Recorded by Jordan Koop at The Noise Floor Recording Studio, mixed by the band’s own Aidan Crossley, mastered by Rolando Rolas at Cavern of Echoes Studios, and featuring a striking artwork by Canadian artist Alayna Coral Gretton, Through the False Narrows offers the listener a unique form of Black Metal surging with atmosphere and anguish, melancholy and rage, showcasing Liminal Shroud’s own sound and style without sounding repetitive or tiresome at all.

A demented growl from the pits of the underworld ignite the sluggish, dark and infernal Blackened Doom-infused aria A Hollow Visage, with Aidan barking and roaring like an anguished beast supported by the intricate drumming by Drew, and with the music changing its shape and form throughout its imposing 11 minutes while presenting the band’s Black Metal core from start to finish. Then more of their fusion of progressiveness and obscurity comes in the form of Tainted Soil, with Aidan and Rich crafting a Stygian ambience with their respective riffs and bass lines while Drew and Rich are in absolute sync, darkening our minds and thoughts to the sound of their evil kitchen; followed by To Forget, presenting cryptic, acid lyrics vociferated by Aidan (“A life not lead lies obscured / Beyond broken branches / Amidst the shallow, desperate forest floor / What secrets have you buried?”) while the music remains bold and epic in a hybrid of classic Black Metal with Atmospheric Black Metal. Needless to say, this amazing tune will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt.

Liminal Shroud Through the False Narrows Bundle

Investing in a more melodic, melancholic and grim sonority, the trio offers our avid ears a majestic wall of sounds in The Grotto, where the strident riffage by Aidan matches perfectly with his own austere gnarls, ending in a truly enfolding manner before we’re treated to four minutes of old school Black Metal infused with Atmospheric and Epic Black Metal nuances in Erupting Light, where Drew is unstoppable behind his drums showcasing all his dexterity and passion for extreme music. Never tired of blasting their disturbing but extremely sharp and harmonious Black Metal, those Canadian metallers bring forward the multi-layered Sentinel, where Aidan keeps roaring deeply and demonically while Drew and Rich alternate between sheer obscurity and demolishing sounds, and before all is said and done get ready for an 11-minute feast of Atmospheric Black Metal in Lucidity, presenting their darkly pensive lyrics (“Dragged down by weighty night / Hollow, weary eyes – fixated / The world moves faster / Time is a wheel / Every second / Every hour”) and with Aidan being on fire with his strident riffs, accompanied by the smashing beats by Drew and the Marduk-inspired bass jabs by Rich, therefore putting a beyond splendid and venomous conclusion to Through the False Narrows.

Do you think you have what it takes to enter the realm of atmospheric and tormented Black Metal ruled by Liminal Shroud in their brand new album Through the False Narrows? If your answer is a hellish “yes” with an evil grim on your face, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely purchase such distinguished opus of extreme music from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (where by the way you can find this amazing bundle including a CD, a shirt, a woven patch, a magnet, a metallic button and a sticker), from Season of Mist or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about such talented horde, keeping the fires of their tormenting extreme music burning bright for centuries to come in their homeland and anywhere else in the world where Black Metal is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: To Forget and Lucidity.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. A Hollow Visage 11:16
2. Tainted Soil 6:33
3. To Forget 8:10
4. The Grotto 6:19
5. Erupting Light 4:08
6. Sentinel 6:56
7. Lucidity 11:05

Band members
Aidan Crossley – guitar, vocals
Rich Taylor – bass, vocals
Drew Davidson – drums

Album Review – Nocturnal Escape / Uncharted Pathways (2020)

This talented German horde returns with a brand new concept album marking a stylistic change from their original sound to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering.

Brought into being in 2014 as a recording project by  Leo and Klaus Bergmann after their previous band Bleak disbanded, Augsburg, Germany-based Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Nocturnal Escape is back in action now in 2020 with their sophomore installment, entitled Uncharted Pathways, a concept album consisting of five songs with a combined running time of nearly 58 minutes, marking a stylistic change from the riff-laden Melodic Death Metal found in their 2015 self-titled debut album to a soundtrack-like Black Metal offering. Featuring a grim and exquisite artwork by artist Daniela Teichmann, the album also presents to the listener a new growler, Paul Perlberg (replacing Thomas Zimmermann), and a new session drummer, James Knoerl, instead of the programmed drums from their first album, providing the overall sound a more organic and, therefore, more intense vibe.

The serene keys by Leo kick off the 10-minute aria entitled Exodus, evolving into a fusion of classic Black and Doom Metal where Paul roars and gnarls in a true devilish manner, filling every single space in the air with its background choir-like sounds, ritualistic drums and scorching hot guitar riffs, ending in a climatic and melancholic manner and building an instant bridge to Forlorn, once again presenting whimsical sounds blended with the band’s most vicious and extreme side, with Leo and Klaus slashing their strings in great fashion and, consequently, providing Paul all he needs to vociferate like a demon while James dictates the song’s charming rhythm with his sluggish beats. In addition, it becomes crystal clear in this dense and distinguished tune how the band decided to distance themselves from Progressive Death and Black Metal, being now fully invested in a hybrid of Black, Folk and Epic Metal.

Then featuring guest Rüdiger Bergmann on trombone, the trio’s acoustic guitars and low-tuned, rumbling bass lines ignite the also multi-layered and vibrant Tranquillity, morphing into an obscure and crisp Black Metal extravaganza led by Leo and his venomous riffage while Paul adds an extra touch of evil to it with his deep, enraged growls, also bringing forward a few eerie, symphonic breaks to enhance the intricacy and drama of the overall result, sounding and feeling as epic and detailed as it can be. And the band keeps stimulating our senses with their classy extreme music in Insight, where all background elements generate a Stygian atmosphere that will darken your heart and soul. Furthermore, the Black Metal blast beats by James make an interesting paradox with the clean vocals by Leo, resulting in a lesson in Atmospheric Black Metal with Leo’s crisp riffs and solos being the icing on the cake. And accelerating their pace and enhancing their electricity they offer us all the closing tune Departure, featuring guest vocals by Stefan Bauer, with James hammering his drums mercilessly until gentle piano notes permeate the air intertwined with heavy riffs and dense bass lines, flowing into a very symphonic, epic and enfolding finale.

In case you think you have what it takes to face almost one hour of the atmospheric and obscure passages by Nocturnal Escape, you can take a full listen at Uncharted Pathways on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course purchase the album from Apple Music, from Amazon or from the band’s own BandCamp page, where not only you’ll be able to compare their current sound with their debut effort, but you’ll also receive an exclusive remastered instrumental version of the entire album (which means almost 58 extra minutes of instrumental and atmospheric extreme music for your avid ears). Also, don’t forget to check what Leo, Klaus and Paul are up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and let the atmospheric and very detailed Black Metal made in Germany found in Uncharted Pathways penetrate deep inside your mind.

Best moments of the album: Tranquillity and Departure.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Exodus 10:20
2. Forlorn 8:35
3. Tranquillity 12:34
4. Insight 12:21
5. Departure 13:54

BandCamp Exclusive Remastered Instrumental bonus tracks
6. Exodus (Instrumental) 10:20
7. Forlorn (Instrumental) 8:35
8. Tranquillity (Instrumental) 12:34
9. Insight (Instrumental) 12:21
10. Departure (Instrumental) 13:54

Band members
Leo Bergmann – guitars, keyboards, clean vocals
Klaus Bergmann – bass
Paul Perlberg – harsh vocals

Guest musicians
James Knoerl – drums (session)
Rüdiger Bergmann – trombone on “Tranquillity”
Stefan Bauer – vocals on “Departure”

Album Review – Eternal Sacrifice / Ad Tertium Librum Nigrum (2018)

Relive the glory of 90’s Black Metal by listening to “the third black book” diabolically brought into being by one of the most important names from the Brazilian extreme music scene.

Forged in the already distant year of 1993 in the blazing fires of Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, a malevolent Pagan/Black Metal unity that goes by the name of Eternal Sacrifice has been haunting our souls since their inception, aiming at delivering a detailed and obscure new concept inside the Pagan Black Metal genre and, therefore, creating their own unique sound from an amalgamation of influences and styles. Now in 2018 the horde comprised of M. T. L. H. Anton Naberius on vocals, Charles Lucxor Persponne on the guitar, Marquis Orias Snake also on the guitars and bass, Sado Baron Szandor Kastiphas on keyboards and Frater Deo Sóror Comite Ferro on drums is firing upon humanity their third concept album, entitled Ad Tertium Librum Nigrum, taking the Pagan Black Metal to a level never reached by another band in terms of sound and graphic production.

Featuring a Luciferian artwork by Brazilian designer Alan Luvarth and celebrating 25 years in the career of Eternal Sacrifice, Ad Tertivm Librvm Nigrvm, which by the way is Latin for “the third black book”, presents around one hour of malevolent sounds split into ten unrelenting new songs (all carrying fantastic names, by the way), consolidating the name of such distinct entity in the vanguard of the Brazilian Pagan Black Metal scene. “Ad Tertivm Librvm Nigrvm is the greatest proof that strength and perseverance always win; it is an album full of symbologies and spells, made exclusively for those who enjoy the songs of the left hand,” said the band’s frontman Naberius, positioning the album as an indispensable work for those who have experienced the glory of 90’s Black Metal, and for those who seek to know more about that golden age of extreme music.

Somber, smooth piano notes kick things off in the intro curiously titled Introiro, before the guitars by Charles and Orias generate an embracing atmosphere in The Three Mashu’s Seals – The Conquest of the Ganzir and Arzir Gates (Hazred Area), bringing the most melodic elements from modern-day Black Metal without losing their raw old school sonority, feeling like a hybrid of the early days of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and Marduk, with the keys by Kastiphas adding an extra touch of malignancy to the musicality. And this Brazilian horde keeps invading our minds with their relentless and demonic music in the 8-minute Melodic Black Metal extravaganza The Vision of the Light of the Sculptures in the Monument of Mashu (The Black Book of Signs and Evil Spells), with Frater crushing his drums while Kastiphas keeps blasting ethereal sounds through his keys, all spearheaded by the Stygian and cryptic growls and vociferations by Naberius.

The Amulet, the Fire and the Seals of Wisdom in the Course of a Triple Life carries a stunning name for an Extreme Metal song, with the slashing riffs by Charles and Orias dictating its rhythm, while Naberius roars and gnarls like a true demonic entity throughout the entire song and Frater keeps the ambience as eerie and menacing as it can be with his drums. Then we have The Revelations of the First Sigil, Lucifer, After a Saga of Delusions and Battles, a mid-tempo tune where all band members fire blackened sounds and tones with highlights to the demented growls by Naberius, not to mention how in sync the band’s stringed duo is with Kastiphas’ phantasmagorical keys, and there’s no time to breathe as Eternal Sacrifice keep firing blasphemy in the form of Pagan Black Metal in When Angel of Light in Ur, in Invoking the Second Sign Agga, even more eccentric and devilish than its predecessors albeit not as gripping, despite getting back to a to a more violent and demolishing sonority in its final part.

Epic keys and guitars, unstoppable drums and a huge dosage of malignancy from Naberius’ otherworldly growls are the main ingredients in Nasha, Restitution of Double the Light (Luce) and Harmony (Fer) – Pagan’s Calls, a visceral fusion of Black and Pagan Metal setting fire to the atmosphere in a thrilling manner (not to mention how pulverizing Charles and Orias are with their infernal axes), followed by Interludium, an epic bridge that captivates our senses for their final blast of Epic and Pagan Black Metal titled The Emptiness, the Guard of the Sortileges and the Time in which the Dust Takes the Rites, starting with an acoustic guitar accompanied by the howling sound of the wind, and gradually morphing into some sort of obscure mass of old school Black Metal infused with Symphonic and Pagan Black Metal elements, with the music flowing like a frantic creature in the dark led by Naberius and his wicked vocalizations, until all fades into the Mephistophelian outro Prologum, an ode to Lucifer that puts a climatic, creepy and hellish end to such blasphemous album.

After all is said and done, Ad Tertium Librum Nigrum, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from the Hammer of Damnation’s BandCamp page or webstore, can indeed be considered a modern-day masterpiece in Pagan Black Metal, becoming even more important in the Brazilian scene due to the constant struggles every metal band has to face to survive in the country. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Eternal Sacrifice by getting in touch with them through their Facebook page, by buying their new opus, and of course by enjoying reading (or I should say listening to) “the third black book” by this ruthless and demonic South American horde.

Best moments of the album: The Three Mashu’s Seals – The Conquest of the Ganzir and Arzir Gates (Hazred Area), The Amulet, the Fire and the Seals of Wisdom in the Course of a Triple Life and Nasha, Restitution of Double the Light (Luce) and Harmony (Fer) – Pagan’s Calls.

Worst moments of the album: When Angel of Light in Ur, in Invoking the Second Sign Agga.

Released in 2018 Hammer Of Damnation/Sangue Frio Records

Track listing    
1. Introiro 1:50
2. The Three Mashu’s Seals – The Conquest of the Ganzir and Arzir Gates (Hazred Area) 8:00
3. The Vision of the Light of the Sculptures in the Monument of Mashu (The Black Book of Signs and Evil Spells) 8:03
4. The Amulet, the Fire and the Seals of Wisdom in the Course of a Triple Life 6:27
5. The Revelations of the First Sigil, Lucifer, After a Saga of Delusions and Battles 5:12
6. When Angel of Light in Ur, in Invoking the Second Sign Agga 6:18
7. Nasha, Restitution of Double the Light (Luce) and Harmony (Fer) – Pagan’s Calls 7:59
8. Interludium 2:10
9. The Emptiness, the Guard of the Sortileges and the Time in which the Dust Takes the Rites 8:22
10. Prologum 3:08

Band members
M. T. L. H. Anton Naberius – vocals
Charles Lucxor Persponne – guitars
Marquis Orias Snake – guitars, bass
Sado Baron Szandor Kastiphas – keyboards
Frater Deo Sóror Comite Ferro – drums

Album Review – Immortal / Northern Chaos Gods (2018)

The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.

The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again now in 2018 thanks to Bergen’s own Black Metal institution Immortal, who after nine long and excruciating years of the release of their 2009 album All Shall Fall are back in action with a brand new opus titled Northern Chaos Gods, a beyond fantastic comeback for one of the trailblazers of Norwegian Black Metal. The first album after the departure of founder, frontman and guitarist Abbath from the band in 2015, Northern Chaos Gods marks the longest gap between two studio albums by Immortal, but the wait was definitely worth it as Immortal sound extremely sharp and vile throughout the entire album, proving once again why they’re still an unstoppable force of frost and ice.

Featuring a dark and straightforward cover art by Norwegian artist Jannicke Wiese-Hansen, Northern Chaos Gods showcases an inspired Demonaz (Harald Nævdal) on vocals and guitar (for the first time since 1997) and a brutal and extremely precise Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) on drums, accompanied by guest bassist Peter Tägtgren. In an interview before the album’s release, Demonaz said he wanted to make the album as “grim, dark and cold as possible”, and Immortal more than succeeded in their quest for extreme music, delivering a raw piece of Norwegian Black Metal that takes the band right back to its early sound. Each and every song in Northern Chaos Gods is a lecture in darkness, pointing to a bright (or I should say obscure) future ahead of a band that might have suffered a few losses since their inception in the far, far away year of 1991, but that stands triumphant and loyal to their roots no matter what.

The title-track Northern Chaos Gods comes crushing mercilessly in an absolute sonic devastation blasted by Demonaz with his fulminating riffs and Horgh with his classic Black Metal blast beats, resulting in a truly old school tune but without sounding obsolete or cheesy, not to mention the excellent job done by Demonaz with his infernal roars. As violent and somber as its predecessor, Into Battle Ride is an ode to Black Metal with highlights to the lancinating guitar lines by Demonaz and the thunderous bass lines by Peter, also bringing inspiring lyrics vociferated by Demonaz (“The sword of thunder and lightning is on the rise / From the north the gods of wrath descend / The storm of war nearing, black in its sign / Now vengeance shall enter again, feared by mortals / Our yearning steel strong hands / Thundering hooves strike above dying men / Down the black valleys arise through the haze / From the mountains, hear battle and death”); whereas Gates to Blashyrkh is a lot more melodic and rhythmic, perfect for banging your head and raising your horns to the hellish duo Demonaz and Horgh. Put differently, simply ride together with Immortal to the Gates to Blashyrkh and enjoy a huge dosage of top-of-the-line Melodic Black Metal invading your senses. And Grim and Dark is another cadaveric and sinister creation by this Norwegian entity, led by the slashing riffs by Demonaz while Horgh keeps crushing his drums nonstop, flowing majestically until its crisp and ominous ending.

There’s no time to breathe with more traditional Black Metal in Called to Ice, with Demonaz’s visceral riffage being effectively accompanied by the galloping sound of drums and bass in five minutes of classic Norwegian Black Metal for diehard lovers of the genre, before a smooth and melancholic intro quickly explodes into a lecture in modern-day Black Metal in Where Mountains Rise, a headbanging tune where Horgh’s beats sound amazingly crisp and heavy while Demonaz keeps slashing his strings with sheer precision and vocalizing the song’s beautiful, poetic words (“For the mighty mountains I ride / Through the woods beyond the snow / Like a fire among the stars, beyond the clouds she rise / There’s no fire from the sun, in this dark under the moon / My blackened sight beholds the stars, and fallen suns below”). Back to a more extreme and piercing sonority we have Blacker of Worlds, where Horgh presents his violent bulldozer mode and with Demonaz and Peter delivering a storm of blackened sounds through their stringed weapons, hammering our heads until Mighty Ravendark strikes our minds like a thunderbolt, exhaling malignancy, darkness and evil. Moreover, Horgh and Peter generate a massive wall of sounds with their drums and bass, respectively, while the hell raiser Demonaz keeps growling and gnarling in a devilish manner during the song’s over nine minutes of Epic Black Metal, putting a majestic ending to one of the best comebacks in the history of metal.

In summary, Northern Chaos Gods, available in different formats from the Nuclear Blast website, is more than just a comeback as already mentioned, but the rebirth of one of the biggest exponents of classic Black Metal even when no one else believed the band could get back on track after such turbulent period in their career. Well, they’re not called Immortal in vain, and after such pulverizing album we can rest assured Demonaz and Horgh will keep the flame of Norwegian Black Metal burning bright wherever they go. Because in the end we’re talking about the true “Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal”, and they’ll keep riding into the battlefield side by side with us, fans of extreme music, until their final and bitterly cold breath.

Best moments of the album: Northern Chaos Gods, Where Mountains Rise and Mighty Ravendark.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Nuclear Blast

Track listing    
1. Northern Chaos Gods 4:25
2. Into Battle Ride 3:50
3. Gates to Blashyrkh 4:38
4. Grim and Dark 5:27
5. Called to Ice 5:06
6. Where Mountains Rise 5:51
7. Blacker of Worlds 3:43
8. Mighty Ravendark 9:14

Band members
Demonaz – vocals, guitars
Horgh – drums

Guest musician
Peter Tägtgren – bass (session)

Album Review – Isgalder / To The Hall Of The Stars EP (2018)

Enjoy the story about the journey of a man, wandering old forgotten paths in search of nature and solitude, told by a newcomer German Epic and Pagan Black Metal hailing from the Thuringian Forest.

Founded in 2017 by vocalist and guitarist Grimwald (Dauþuz, Wintarnaht) and drummer, bassist and keyboardist Moppel to hail earth and iron, German horde Isgalder has just emerged from the Thuringian Forest with a splendid piece of Epic and Pagan Black Metal influenced by early Falkenbach and Bathory, titled To The Hall Of The Stars, their debut EP that tells a little story about the journey of a man (the journey to the hall of the stars), wandering old forgotten paths in search of nature and solitude. Comprised of three original songs taken from the band’s forthcoming album and alternate versions of those same songs, the EP will provide you a very good taste of what Isgalder, which by the way is Old-High-German/Germanic and means “cold incantation” or “icy chant”, are capable of. Furthermore, although Grimwald and Moppel played all instruments and vocal parts in the EP, Isgalder are now comprised of the aforementioned dynamic duo plus VRCHTR on rhythm guitar and Aussen Geist on bass, meaning we can definitely (and hopefully) expect to witness the extreme music by Isgalder be materialized in the form of one or more live concerts in the near future.

The keys by Moppel kick off the epic and imposing tune The Ravendale, bringing an interesting “duel” of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, also presenting piercing guitar lines and lyrics that exhale Folk and Pagan Metal (“On farthest shores, there rest my fate / Far from mankind, the morbid, the pale / Native is that soil; silent and primordial / Astute raven summon me, to the hidden vail / The Ravendale / Forgotten and forsaken / The Ravedale / In solitude awaken”), all topped off by a climatic finale. Elder Wisdom, a very detailed and melodic creation by the duo, already starts in full force, bringing elements from Atmospheric Black Metal to their core Pagan and Black Metal, with Grimwald growling and gnarling nonstop while Moppel delivers brutality through his beats and some sort of “peace” through his keys, all at once; and as atmospheric and dense as both previous songs, Soaring Mountains showcases an old school Black Metal base solidified by  the band’s blast beats and scorching riffs, but with a strong Pagan Metal vein present in Grimwald’s growls and Moppel’s keys. Moreover, you’ll certainly feel compelled to sing its lyrics along with Isgalder (“Great soaring Mountains / Grey stone mystic monument / Arise against the sky / Wilderness defend”).

As already mentioned, side B of To The Hall Of The Stars contains an alternative version of the EP, without keyboards, varied vocals and a different mix. For instance, The Ravendale sounds rawer and more piercing, closer to traditional Black Metal, while Elder Wisdom is even more devastating and epic and Soaring Mountains goes straight-to-the-point as well, displaying an enhanced Black Metal vibe and feeling slightly less Pagan Metal. You can compare the regular and alternate versions of each song by listening to the full EP on YouTube, and don’t forget to follow Isgalder on Facebook and on YouTube. In a nutshell, To The Hall Of The Stars (on sale at the band’s own BandCamp, at the Hellthrasher Productions’ BandCamp, at the Naturmacht Productions’ BandCamp and at the Narbentage Produktionen’s BandCamp, as well as at Discogs in CD or cassette version) is a fantastic “appetizer” to what we can expect from Isgalder when they release their first full-length opus, and as soon as that happens we will be able to happily and willingly succumb to their cold incantations.

Best moments of the album: Elder Wisdom (both regular and alternate versions).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. The Ravendale 7:06
2. Elder Wisdom 7:54
3. Soaring Mountains 5:33
4. The Ravendale (alternate version) 6:51
5. Elder Wisdom (alternate version) 7:44
6. Soaring Mountains (alternate version) 5:27

Band members
Grimwald – vocals, guitars
Moppel – bass, keyboards, drums

Album Review – Sex Dumpster / Lord Alcohol (2018)

Breathing in the rotten stench of humanity’s decay, here come Sex Dumpster and their one-way trip to the void in the form of filthy Black Metal.

The world we’ve built is a hard, unforgiving place, full of cruelty, dirt and despair. Every shadow hides a nightmare and every alleyway a nest of unreasoning hatred. You may want to avert your gaze, wrap yourself in a protective cloak of pretty lies and colourful deceptions, immerse yourself in the garish delusions of television and the distracting mundanity of music for the masses, but you can’t hide from reality forever. That’s why an infamous Black Metal duo that goes by the charming name of Sex Dumpster is among us, to tear away your blindfolds and grind your face into the filth of existence until you choke, and they’ll do that by mercilessly crushing your senses with their unrelenting new album, poetically titled Lord Alcohol.

The origins of Sex Dumpster can be traced back to frozen isolation in Alaska, where vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hiram Lohr first pulled together the disparate souls that would form the band Thousand Year War. After releasing a full-length album and one EP, Thousand Year War collapsed into ruin, with Hiram turning his back on the ice and snow and heading to the sultry, putrefying heat of Mexico, more specifically to Cozumel, a mostly undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, where he breathed in the rotten stench of humanity’s decay and submerged himself in the conscienceless bile of bitter existence. Armed with riffs rusted in piss and blood, wielded with a vicious, vehement intent and radiating a haunting atmosphere of emptiness, Lord Alcohol is Sex Dumpster’s howling hymn to nothingness, a one-way trip to the void highly recommended for fans of bands like Taake, Urgehal and Nattefrost.

Put together a violent mix old school Black Metal with a Punk Rock attitude and the most aggressive lyrics you can think of, and there you have the demented Bible Up Your Ass (and you better get used to the “gentle” song names found in Lord Alcohol). In this inspiring chant, Hiram seems to be vomiting the song’s blasphemous words, which in the end works really well, while the bestial Grega Plamberger doesn’t stop crushing his drum set; and Hiram’s filthy rant of profanity goes on in Cunt World, firing some truly acid riffs and gnarls tailored for haunting our souls, therefore generating the perfect soundtrack for slamming into the pit or banging your head like a maniac. And Doom Metal-inspired lines set the tone for the vile Shit On My Grave, a darker and more melancholic tune where Grega switches between slower, almost sluggish beats and sheer devastation, with his infernal drumming flawlessly supporting Hiram’s deranged screams.

Ivar The Boneless is an Epic Black Metal-like creation by Sex Dumpster, a deviant battle hymn showcasing crushing beats, raw guitar riffs and an amazing performance by Hiram and his harsh vocals, and the final result couldn’t sound more compelling and vibrant; whereas Lord Alcohol continues with the epic vibe from its predecessor, worshiping our beloved alcohol through Grega’s rhythmic drumming and the spot-on atmospheric elements in the background, in an interesting fusion of raw Black Metal with modern Epic Metal. Then Sex Dumpster smash our heads with a brilliant cover version for GG Allin’s classic I Kill Everything I Fuck, from the album Brutality & Bloodshed for All by GG Allin & The Murder Junkies (check the original version HERE). In a nutshell, Sex Dumpster’s version is just as dirty, nasty and aggressive as the original one recorded by one of the most demented and controversial artists of all time. And there’s more craziness for your ears in This Lonely Rope, an obscure and sluggish chant where the strident sound of guitars make an interesting duo with the heaviness of drums, all embraced by an almost mesmerizing rhythm (despite not being as good as all previous songs).

With a name like Fist Fucking Motherfucker you can only expect violence, hatred and devastation flowing from all instruments, with a great job done by Hiram and his crisp Black Metal riffs. Let’s say that although this is perhaps one of the worst songs for listening in a public place (if you care about your personal reputation, of course), it’s indeed a damn fun composition. The second to last deranged tune in Lord Alcohol, entitled Klonopin Dreams, Suicidal Requiems, is an instrumental extravaganza where the duo goes mental, mixing Black Metal with other metal styles such as Power and Progressive Metal (and even hints of non-metal styles), turning it into a must-listen for fans of the more disturbed side of metal music. Lastly, closing the album we have more crude, belligerent and visceral sounds coming from the duo’s guitar lines and drums in Under The Night, with all the darkness bred by Sex Dumpster growing in intensity until the song’s abrupt finale.

Do you have the guts to enter the realm of sheer debauchery and sacrilege brought forth by Hiram Lohr and his bloodcurdling spawn Sex Dumpster? In case you consider yourself demented enough to face the band’s crusty Black Metal, all you have to do is visit Sex Dumpster’s Facebook page to get more info about this American-Mexican monstrosity and their irreligious music. Right now you won’t find Lord Alcohol for sale at any retailer such as BandCamp, iTunes or Amazon, and I have absolutely no idea if the album will ever be on sale at any of those. Maybe that’s what Hiram wants, right? Maybe the only place you’ll be able to find Lord Alcohol will be behind a dirty and stinking dumpster, in line with all the rottenness found throughout such distinct album.

Best moments of the album: Bible Up Your Ass, Ivar The Boneless and Fist Fucking Motherfucker.

Worst moments of the album: This Lonely Rope.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing   
1. Bible Up Your Ass 4:20
2. Cunt World 4:41
3. Shit On My Grave 4:49
4. Ivar The Boneless 5:08
5. Lord Alcohol 6:01
6. I Kill Everything I Fuck (GG Allin cover) 2:23
7. This Lonely Rope 5:06
8. Fist Fucking Motherfucker 3:30
9. Klonopin Dreams, Suicidal Requiems 4:26
10. Under The Night 5:34

Band members
Hiram Lohr – vocal, guitar, bass
Grega Plamberger – drums

Album Review – Dzö-nga / The Sachem’s Tales (2017)

A demonic entity hailing from the United States gives life to the Algonquin folklore in a brand new concept album of vibrant and classy Atmospheric Black Metal.

In case you’re searching for the next name in Atmospheric and Epic Black Metal, you must take a listen at The Sachem’s Tales, the brand new concept album by an American Black Metal project that goes by the name of Dzö-nga (pronounced “zone-gah”), formed in 2016 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, United States by multi-instrumentalist Cryvas. By the way, did you know Dzö-nga is the name of a cryptid or demon that is said to haunt the mountain Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world lying partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim, India? Drawing inspiration from world mythologies, Dzö-nga is definitely the perfect name to represent the music by this heavy and eccentric monster of underground extreme music.

The Sachem’s Tales, Dzö-nga’s second full-length album and a concept album about the Algonquin folklore from creation mythos (“Against the Northern Wind”) to apocalyptic prophesies (“A Seventh Age of Fire”), is the project’s first release to feature Grushenka Ødegård on vocals, with Cryvas and Grushenka being joined by guest musicians Aaron Maloney (This or the Apocalypse) as their session drummer and Lilith Astaroth (Sorrowseed) lending an ethereal voice to “Halle Ravine”. Featuring a classy cover art titled “The Wendigo”, designed by British illustrator Frank Victoria, The Sachem’s Tales will certainly please all fans of the more atmospheric side of extreme music fused with folk elements, especially the ones who love the sound by bands like Agalloch, Falls of Rauros, Moonsorrow and Coldworld, among others.

Midewiwin Lodge, a serene instrumental intro led by the acoustic guitars by Cryvas and spiced up by elements from Mother Nature, sets up the ambience for the melancholic and gripping To the Great Salt Water, with the contrast between the piano and the blast beats perfectly supporting the gentle voice of Grushenka and the growls by Cryvas, enhancing the impact of its fairy tale-inspired lyrics (“What shall I tell our children? / Tell them our story / Tell them who they are / Far beyond the mountains / Where wild-men roam / Over the raging river’s foam / Follow the Whiteshell west”). Put differently, this is a beautiful rollercoaster of emotions crafted by Dzö-nga, going from deeply enraged moments to slower passages of pure tenderness. Then in The Wolves Fell Quiet what starts in a calm mode with the suave notes of the piano embracing our souls suddenly explodes into magnificent Atmospheric Black Metal, with Cryvas growling and gnarling like a hellish entity. Furthermore, multi-layered waves of blackened sounds mixed with ambient music turn listening to this tune into a distinct and dense journey through darkness.

In the acoustic ballad Halle Ravine, it’s time for Lilith Astaroth to give life to the song’s poetic lyrics, bringing hope and melancholy at the same time to our hearts, with the song’s smoother sonority also showcasing how versatile Cryvas is as a musician; followed by Against the Northern Wind, where blast beats ignite a flammable fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Folk and Dark Metal, once again presenting paradoxical elements that create a unique experience to the listener. Moreover, Cryvas’ demonic roars and Grushenka’s angelical voice complement each other in a superb way, making it impossible not to feel touched by all sounds blasted by the band, all reaching deep inside our hearts and souls. A Seventh Age of Fire brings forward almost 10 minutes of top-tier extreme music by Cryvas and his crew, where Aaron not only proves he’s a rabid beast behind his drums, but he also displays an extremely refined technique, therefore adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. And effectively complementing this stylish aria, Cryvas offers us all some epic church-inspired pipes, with all instruments converging to a climatic acoustic ending with the song’s lyrics yet again coming from a dark and thrilling fairy tale (“Be brave and you will be protected / Be wise and you will be rewarded / (Hear in our silence that we are at peace / Our mantle passed to you) / Light again the ancient flame / Lead our people back home”). And before all is said and done, we’re treated to the instrumental outro The Witching Meadow, a song that contains several elements found in Folk Metal, with its kick-ass piano notes generating a comforting atmosphere to end this fantastic album in great fashion.

You can enjoy this fairy tale of Extreme Metal in full on YouTube, follow Dzö-nga on Facebook, listen to their other creations on SoundCloud, and obviously purchase The Sachem’s Tales at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Avantgard Music’s BandCamp, on Amazon or at Discogs. Having said that, let’s hope that this gargantuan, hazy creature named Dzö-nga keeps haunting not only mountain Kangchenjunga, but everywhere else in the world where high-quality metal music is appreciated for many years yet to come.

Best moments of the album: To the Great Salt Water and Against the Northern Wind.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Midewiwin Lodge (Instrumental) 2:35
2. To the Great Salt Water 8:49
3. The Wolves Fell Quiet 7:23
4. Halle Ravine (feat. Lilith Astaroth) 4:04
5. Against the Northern Wind 7:16
6. A Seventh Age of Fire 9:23
7. The Witching Meadow (Instrumental) 3:26

Band members
Cryvas – vocals, all instruments
Grushenka Ødegård – vocals

Guest musicians
Aaron Maloney – drums (session)
Lilith Astaroth – vocals on “Halle Ravine”

Album Review – Forteresse / Thèmes pour la Rébellion (2016)

Métal Noir Québécois at its finest by the progenitors of the genre, enfolded by pure insurgency and a strong sense of patriotism.

Rating4

sp044One of my favorite expressions in heavy music is “Métal Noir Québécois”, not only because it sounds beautiful, but mainly due to the fact it truly represents the unity, patriotism and epicness of Extreme Metal hailing from “la belle province” of Quebec. That powerful designation was originated back in 2006 when Atmospheric Black Metal act Forteresse, formed that same year in Quebec City, released their debut album titled Métal Noir Québécois, and now ten years later this talented quartet  reinforces even more the concept they created with their fifth installment named Thèmes pour la Rébellion.

Singing (obviously in French) about the history of Quebec and its separatist movement, Forteresse continue their rebellious and vengeful path thoroughly built through the years within each of their releases, with Thèmes pour la Rébellion being a further step from their previous release, their 2011 album Crépuscule d’Octobre. If you love dark and dense sounds with a passionate and violent storyline behind them, this album will definitely blow your mind, and even if you’re not a huge connoisseur or admirer of Black Metal there’s still a lot to enjoy in all eight tracks from an album that, above all things, lives up to the recent but already distinguished legacy of Métal Noir Québécois.

The intro Aube De 1837 (“dawn of 1837”), inspired by the Rebellions of 1837, takes you into the battlefield, setting the tone to Spectre De La Rébellion (“spectrum of the rebellion”), emanating blast beats and an infernal atmosphere from its very first second, with Athros transpiring pure rebelliousness and anger through his harsh growls. Although it sounds like old school Black Metal at first, I believe we can call this Epic Black Metal due to its rising energy, its more melodious lines and its truly climatic ending. In the also dense Là où Nous Allons (“there where we are going”), guitarists Matrak and Moribund fire extreme aggression through their riffs and solos, while drummer Fiel accelerates his beats even more, generating the perfect background for the song’s belligerent lyrics (“Armez-vous de vos mousquets les plus fidèles / La charge sera brutale et sans pitié / La monnaie des cartes est inutile là où nous allons / À l’aube, le destin aura été scellé”). At this point of the album, you’ll be already able to realize all songs will be epic from start to finish, with no exceptions.

forteresse-2016aForteresse’s metallic artillery do not cool down in the slightly less destructive and more melodic Par la Bouche de Mes Canons (“through the mouth of my cannons”), with highlights to the amazing job done by Matrak and Moribond on guitars once again, while Athros keeps sending an insurgent message through his combative vociferations. In addition, you can sense the pain and anger growing towards the end of the song, which ends up working as a bridge to the magnificent Le Sang des Héros (“the blood of heroes”), where a wicked intro with a short narration explodes into sheer brutality. This is high-end Black Metal where Athros and Fiel unleash hell on earth, an intricate composition that fills the air with hatred and sorrow, with its nonstop electricity and endless pugnacity helping turn this into one of the best moments of the album (needless to say, I would love to witness them playing this song live).

The last part of the album begins with Forêt d’Automne (“autumn forest”), where traditional riffs continue to spread darkness whereas Fiel delivers more of his rhythmic and complex beats and fills, not to mention that, as the story advances, you’ll notice Athros gets more and more enraged on vocals. Vespérales (“vesperal”), the second to last tune, brings forward more violence and anger, being one of the most epic of all songs with its seven minutes of cutting riffs, vicious growls and a fierce atmosphere, an amazing example of what Métal Noir Québécois truly is; followed by Le Dernier Voyage (“the last voyage”), an outro that beautifully represents a real aftermath, with its atmospheric passages signing the war is finally over, therefore concluding such a great album on a melancholic but strong note.

You can take a good listen to this thrilling album in its entirety HERE, as well as visit Forteresse’s Facebook page to know more about the band and their music. And in order to provide them your full support, go buy your copy of Thèmes pour la Rébellion at the Sepulchral Productions’ webstore, at Discogs or at the Season of Mist’s webstore. Forteresse do not just offer Métal Noir Québécois, they do it almost to perfection to guarantee you understand and absorb everything they want to tell you through their music. This is Métal Noir Québécois at its finest, and if I were you I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to join Forteresse’s army and get into the battlefield alongside them.

Best moments of the album: Spectre De La Rébellion and Le Sang des Héros.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sepulchral Productions

Track listing
1. Aube De 1837 0:46
2. Spectre De La Rébellion 5:33
3. Là où Nous Allons 6:09
4. Par la Bouche de Mes Canons 6:14
5. Le Sang des Héros 6:51
6. Forêt d’Automne 5:20
7. Vespérales 6:59
8. Le Dernier Voyage 4:55

Band members
Athros – vocals, additional guitars, additional keyboards
Matrak – lead guitars
Moribond – rhythm guitars, bass
Fiel – drums, keyboards

Live musician
G. – bass