Album Review – Abbath / Dread Reaver (2022)

Riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta returns with total metal mayhem in the form of his third full-length opus, cementing his place among the Black Metal hierarchy.

After the successful releases of his 2016 debut self-titled album and the 2019 opus Outstrider, Bergen, Norway-based Black Metal riff-maestro Abbath Doom Occulta is ready to cement his place among the metal hierarchy with Dread Reaver, his third album with his eponymous project Abbath. Recorded at Dub Studio with additional recordings at Bergen Lydstudio, produced by Endre Kirkesola and Dag Erik Nygaard, mixed by Abbath himself and Endre Kirkesola, and mastered by Maor Appelbaum at Maor Appelbaum Mastering, Dread Reaver might not represent a revolution in Black Metal, but it’s indeed a vibrant and visceral album of extreme music by the aforementioned Abbath on vocals, guitars and bass together with Ole André Farstad on lead and acoustic guitars, Mia Wallace on bass, and Ukri Suvilehto on drums, offering the listener his signature blend of blistering Speed Metal, traditional metal influences, and of course a touch of ice cold Black Metal, the perfect recipe for total metal mayhem.

Let’s cut to the chase and join Abbath in pitch black darkness to the opening tune Acid Haze, a demolishing Black Metal extravaganza led by the scorching riffs by Abbath and Ole supported by the bestial bass by Mia and the infernal beats by Ukri, and continuing their path of devastation the band brings forward Scarred Core, showcasing more of Mia’s crushing bass jabs while Abbath roars the song’s austere words like a demonic entity and Ole delivers an ass-kicking guitar solo made in hell. Then a sinister acoustic intro sets the stage for Abbath to kill again in Dream Cull, sounding less violent but absolutely obscure and evil from start to finish with Ukri dictating the song’s galloping pace; whereas Ukri keeps hammering his drums in Myrmidon accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Abbath and Ole. In other words, it’s Abbath’s trademark Black Metal infused with hints of classic Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, and the final result is obviously awesome.

Mia’s rumbling bass returns in The Deep Unbound, a bestial composition that will smash you like an insect to the venomous growling by Abbath; and more of the band’s raw Black Metal is offered in Septentrion, with the pounding drums by Ukri walk hand in hand with the incendiary riffage by Abbath and Ole. Their rendition to Metallica’s Trapped Under Ice (check out an original live version of it HERE) is indeed a fun ride, with Abbath’s raspy vocals adding a touch of malignancy to the overall result; and our Norwegian black metaller still has a lot of fuel to burn together with his horde in The Book Of Breath, another straightforward Black Metal tune where Ukri fires violent, melodic beats nonstop, while the title-track Dread Reaver closes the regular version of the album with a dense and heavy atmosphere spearheaded by Abbath’s demonic gnarls and Mia’s smashing bass lines. However, if you go for the physical edition of the album you’ll be treated to an amazing bonus track, the band’s fun cover version for Motörhead’s Make My Day (check the original version HERE), where Abbath sounds like Lemmy incarnate on vocals for our total delight.

Abbath’s brand new effort can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course if you consider yourself a true servant of Norwegian Black Metal you can purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, and also support Abbath and his horde by following the band on Facebook and on Instagram to stay up to date with their news, tour dates and so on. With Dread Reaver it feels like Abbath is reaching the desired shape and form of his music and style, and hopefully he’ll keep delivering high-quality Black Metal for admirers of the genre for many years to come now that he seems to be free from drugs and alcohol, focusing only on what really matters, which is crafting devilish music just the way we like it in the name of darkness.

Best moments of the album: Acid Haze, Myrmidon and The Deep Unbound.

Worst moments of the album: Septentrion.

Released in 2022 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. Acid Haze 4:51
2. Scarred Core 3:29
3. Dream Cull 4:15
4. Myrmidon 4:33
5. The Deep Unbound 4:07
6. Septentrion 4:28
7. Trapped Under Ice (Metallica cover) 3:59
8. The Book Of Breath 4:35
9. Dread Reaver 4:43

CD bonus track
10. Make My Day (Motörhead cover) 4:16

Band members
Abbath – vocals, guitars, bass
Ole André Farstad – lead and acoustic guitars
Mia Wallace – bass on “Acid Haze”, “Scarred Core”, “The Deep Unbound” and “Dread Reaver”
Ukri Suvilehto – drums

Album Review – Haunted By Silhouettes / No Man Isle EP (2022)

Hailing from Norway, this unrelenting Melodic Death Metal squad is unleashing upon humanity a short and sweet EP destined to leave their listeners with a deadly taste for more.

Formed in 2013 in the city of Trondheim, Norway, the beautifully named Melodic Death Metal outfit Haunted By Silhouettes is unleashing upon humanity a new EP entitled No Man Isle, a short and sweet follow-up to their 2019 album The Last Day on Earth. Comprised of vocalist Mathias Jamtli Rye, guitarists Per Kristian Grimsland and Stian Hoel Fossen, bassist Ola Nilsen Kjøren, and drummer Håvard Bustad, the band is destined to leave their listeners with a deadly taste for more (along with necks bursting with pain) after listening to their new effort, portraying a style that is an actual evolution of what was once referred to as Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal or once proudly called Gothenburg Death Metal.

And the cinematic intro Departure sets the stage for the quintet to crush our souls in Flock, starting in full force to the infernal growling by Mathias while Ola hammers his bass majestically. In other words, it’s Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal infused with the most visceral elements from Groove Metal, resulting in a true headbanging composition for admirers of the genre. Then we have Selkie, featuring guest vocals by the one and only Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), who makes a powerful duet with Mathias while the band makes sure the atmosphere remains dense and enfolding from start to finish in a great display of Melodic Death Metal. Putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for Icon, where Per and Stian extract sheer electricity and rage form their stringed axes while Håvard “gently” invites us all to slam into the circle pit to the sound of his furious beats; whereas the guitars by Per and Stian continue to embellish the airwaves in the title-track No Man Isle while Mathias roars and growls in anger nonstop, supported by the classy, rhythmic drums by Håvard and, therefore, sounding heavy and melodic at the same time just the way we like it.

The talented and unstoppable Norwegian metallers from Haunted By Silhouettes are waiting for your feedback on Facebook and on Instagram, where of course you can get to know more about the band, their tour dates and plans for the future, and don’t forget to also stream their music on Spotify as many times as you want, and to obviously purchase or stream No Man Isle from your favorite retailer or service by clicking HERE. As already mentioned, the EP might be short in duration, but that didn’t stop the band from delivering tons of awesomeness in the form of their classic Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal, warming us up for their upcoming full-length album which might not have a release date yet, but we know it’s going to be marvelously violent and melodic.

Best moments of the album: Flock and Icon.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Departure 0:26
2. Flock 3:02
3. Selkie 3:24
4. Icon 4:16
5. No Man Isle 5:16

Band members
Mathias Jamtli Rye – vocals
Per Kristian Grimsland – guitar, vocals
Stian Hoel Fossen – guitar
Ola Nilsen Kjøren – bass
Håvard Bustad – drums

Guest musician
Björn “Speed” Strid – vocals on “Selkie”

Album Review – Flames Of Fire / Flames Of Fire (2022)

Hailing from Sweden, Norway and Finland, these fired up musicians will rock your world to the sound of their debut album of old school Heavy Metal.

Formed in the spring of 2021 by vocalist Christian Liljegren (Narnia, The Waymaker, Audiovision) and guitarist and composer Mats-Åke Andersson (Zaragorn), but with its history going back to 1987 when the duo met for the first time in their hometown Jönköping, a city on the shores of Lake Vättern, in southern Sweden, the newborn Heavy Metal entity known as Flames Of Fire is ready to show us all what they got with the release of their self-titled debut album. With multi-instrumentalist Jani Stefanovic (The Waymaker, Solution .45, Miseration), bassist Per Schelander (House of Shakira, Astrakhan, Royal Hunt, Pain of Salvation) and guitarist Stephen Carlson (Brotthogg, Peter Carlsohn’s The Rise, Tales, Viva) completing the line-up, this Sweden/Norway/Finland-based squad is highly recommended for admirers of the music by Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and Dio, among others, delivering the awesomeness of metal music in their new album while also displaying a crystal clear and very professional overall production and sound quality.

The sinister intro New Dawn warms up Flames of Fire to strike us all with their high-octane sound in Gloria, with Jani dictating the pace with his fierce drumming while at the same time he embellishes the airwaves with his classy keys, all of course spiced up by the powerful vocals by Christian in an old school, no shenanigans Heavy and Power Metal hymn by the quintet. Mats-Åke, Jani and Stephen keep slashing their guitars in the battle song that carries the name of the band, Flames Of Fire, supported by the thunderous bass by Per. Needless to say, it will inspire you to keep fighting for heavy music no matter what; whereas Madness brings to our ears classic Melodic Metal with that trademark European harmony, also presenting a pleasant pace with Jani kicking ass with his rhythmic beats. Then in I Am the band drinks from the same mystical fountain as bands like Helloween, Blind Guardian and Iron Maiden, while Christian’s soaring vocals add an extra touch of magic to the musicality accompanied by the galloping bass by Per.

It’s time to bang our heads to the electrifying fusion of Melodic and Power Metal found in Time To Live, showcasing traditional guitar riffs and solos, a breathtaking pace and the always visceral vocals by Christian, not to mention Per’s stunning bass lines. Are you ready for 10 minutes of epicness and a deep passion for metal music? That’s what the band has to offer us all in Solution, a heavy-as-hell aria by Flames of Fire where Christian darkly declaims the song’s wicked words. Moreover, it has a strong Black Sabbath vibe from their Dio-era, resulting in almost a metal opera with the massive drums by Jani making your head tremble mercilessly. The band has one final metal onrush for us all in the form of Soldiers Of The King, tailored for diehard fans of the genre, with their guitar triumvirate Mats-Åke, Jani and Stephen being on absolute sync until the very last second, flowing into the outro End Theme, which puts an atmospheric ending to the album.

After carefully listening to Flames of Fire, you’ll easily notice how professional and focused those Scandinavian metallers are, which explains why the album sounds so thrilling from start to finish. Hence, in order to show them your support and admiration, you can start following the band on Facebook for news, tour dates (if they will do that one day, of course), plans for the future and other nice-to-know details about them, and purchase your copy of the album from the Melodic Passion Records’ webstore or by clicking HERE. Having said all that, are you ready to rock and bang your head in the name of Heavy Metal together with the guys from Flames of Fire? You won’t get disappointed at all, showing you once and for all that Scandinavia is and will always be a fantastic source of heavy music for your metallic heart.

Best moments of the album: Flames Of Fire, Time To Live and Solution.

Worst moments of the album: Madness.

Released in 2022 Melodic Passion Records

Track listing
1. New Dawn 1:25
2. Gloria 4:15
3. Flames Of Fire 3:16
4. Madness 3:55
5. I Am 4:31
6. Time To Live 4:07
7. Solution 9:58
8. Soldiers Of The King 5:05
9. End Theme 1:32

Band members
Christian Liljegren – vocals
Mats-Åke Andersson – guitars
Jani Stefanovic – guitars, keyboards, drums, backing vocals
Stephen Carlson – guitars
Per Schelander – bass

Album Review – Minneriket / Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile (2022)

A lecture in Romantic Black Metal by one of the driving forces of the current Norwegian scene, dedicated in loving memory to those we have lost.

Four years after the excellent Anima Sola, Norwegian Romantic Black Metal band Minneriket, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, returns with another blast of awesomeness in the form of Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile, or ““through me no one goes to rest” from Norwegian. Produced and mixed by Stein himself at Hagall Studios, recorded on various location throughout the world (with all field-recordings done by Stein on location in Norway out in nature to supplement the compositions on the album), mastered by Niklas Kveldulfsson, and displaying a classic logo by Christophe Szpajdel of Lord of the Logos and front cover photography by Eivind Nilsen of Clean Shot Photography beautifully portraying model Lise Marie Sommerstad, the album features a pretty big roster of session musicians, some being amateurs, some being more known people. “In total I have been working on this album for about 6 years now. There’s a lot of memories tied up on it, and it will be dedicated in loving memory to those we have lost. Some of the lyrics on the album actually dates back about 17 years, so I’ve used this album to really go full circle,” commented Stein, who also had some interesting words to say about the field-recordings. “That had me sleeping outside in the forests for a few nights to record an owl, and all other sounds – including wolves – are real. There are no samples at all on the album.”

Birds chirping and the gentle sound of the piano ignite the opening tune Så Kald En Jord (“so call a land”), evolving into a fusion of atmospheric music and primeval Black Metal to the hellish gnarls by Stein in paradox with the song’s smooth female vocals, offering us all over eight minutes of cryptic passages, sharp guitars and rhythmic beats. Then the instrumental piece Hjemlengsel (“homesickness”) will bring peace and sorrow to our blackened hearts thanks to the stunning cello by guest Norlene Olmedo, followed by Begravelsens Hjerteslag (“the heartbeat of the funeral”), another bold and multi-layered creation by Stein where the finesse of its operatic vocals walks hand in hand with the heavy-as-hell sounds crafted by our Norwegian multi-instrumentalist in a thrilling fusion of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal. Regnbuer I Gråtoner (“rainbows in shades of gray”) is another beautiful metal voyage by Stein and his guests, and it’s impressive how he manages to make each and every song so unique with his bass and drums generating a rumbling ambience perfect for his devilish growls; whereas in Sorg Og Savn (“grief and loss”) we face doomed words darkly declaimed by Stein and guest Ingrid.mariea (“Dear friends, dear family / I will leave you behind / I am the lifeless rain of autumn / Without you I will shine / My wounds are yours to reap and harvest”) while the music pierces our minds mercilessly.

The serene and atmospheric interlude Solnedgang (“sunset”) will soothe our damned souls before Stein comes ripping once again in Hvil I Fred (“rest in peace”), starting in a delicate manner to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks before exploding into more of his trademark Black Metal. Moreover, once again the heaviness of the guitars and drums beautifully clashes with enfolding keys and piano notes, not to mention how stunning the female vocalizations sound and feel. After that, delicate piano notes permeate the air in Forglemmegei (“forget-me-not”), a well-engendered (albeit a bit too long) intermission that sets the tone for Nåde (“grace”), bringing forward over 13 minutes of what feels like the soundtrack to a dark and sinister movie, with Stein blending three or four songs into one massive beast while alternating between obscure passages and sheer dementia in the form of Black Metal, ending in an epic and enfolding manner before the outro 11379 brings to our ears a stylish exhibit of folk and classic elements, with the sounds of the piano and flute adding an extra touch of delicacy to the album.

A must-listen for fans of Myrkur, Jinjer, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy and Evanescence, among several others, Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile undoubtedly represents a huge step forward in the career of the multi-talented Stein, and if you want to put your hands on such distinguished album of extreme music you can purchase it from Minneriket’s own BandCamp page. In addition, don’t forget to also follow Stein and his Black Metal alter-ego on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to his YouTube channel, and to stream more of his stylish compositions on Spotify. As mentioned by Stein, Gjennom Meg Går Ingen Til Hvile is much more than just another metal album, but a music representation of his own memories intertwined with the sounds of nature, deserving our full admiration and respect and, therefore, positioning Minneriket as one of the driving forces of the current underground Black Metal scene.

Best moments of the album: Regnbuer I Gråtoner, Hvil I Fred and Nåde.

Worst moments of the album: Forglemmegei.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. Så Kald En Jord 8:42
2. Hjemlengsel 2:04
3. Begravelsens Hjerteslag 7:31
4. Regnbuer I Gråtoner 6:44
5. Sorg Og Savn 5:32
6. Solnedgang 1:42
7. Hvil I Fred 5:31
8. Forglemmegei 3:44
9. Nåde 13:17
10. 11379 3:17

Band members
Stein Akslen – lead vocals, guitars, field-recordings, synths, additional instruments

Guest musicians
Misstiq – keys
Māra Lisenko – vocals
Christina Rotondo – vocals
Niklas Kveldulfsson – drums
Ingrid.mariea – vocals
Maria Kosma – bass
Margarita Chernova – strings
Norlene Olmedo – cello
Kyba – vocals
Elvann – harp
Kim Fleuchaus – flute
Thomas Englmann – saxophone
Jenny Modeman – additional vocals
C80 – additional keys
Li – gong
Temu – additional vocals
Elsewhere Choir – choir

Album Review – Sombria / Chirographon Dei (2020)

Let your soul be embraced by the beautiful fusion of Dark and Melancholic Metal from the debut album by a promising international group that has all it takes to conquer the world of heavy music.

Formed in 2019 by singer and songwriter Dimi De San, who comes under the name ‘’Valentina Devin’’, and guitarist and composer Raven Seven, Sombria are an international Dark/Melancholic Metal project featuring members from Greece, Norway and Mexico, those being the aforementioned Dimi De San on vocals and Raven Seven on guitars and orchestrations together with session musicians Lucien Keir also on the guitar, Saber Thorn on bass and Winter Cain on drums, aiming at raising awareness through their music, lyrics and performances over many sensitive subjects like child poverty and environmental issues. Now in 2020 this recently formed unity is unleashing upon humanity their debut opus Chirographon Dei, which translates from Latin as something like “the manuscript of the gods”, containing nine original songs recorded, mixed and mastered by Raven Seven at his own studio, all embraced by a gorgeous artwork by Dimi De San, and all depicting everything Symphonic Gothic Metal stands for.

Enfolding orchestrations and piano notes permeate the air in the opening tune Voyage into Lethe, with Dimi embellishing the airwaves with her operatic vocals while Raven Seven extracts somber, minimalist sounds form his guitar in a hybrid of the early days of Nightwish and Tristania. Then leaning towards the most melancholic form of Gothic Metal the band offers our ears the sorrowful Black December, with Saber Thorn and Winter Cain bringing a welcome dosage of Doom Metal to the musicality, followed by Sarcophagus of Roses, another symphonic and epic aria by Sombria where Winter Cain showcases all his dexterity behind his drums, offering Dimi all she needs to shine once again on vocals and, therefore, resulting in the perfect depiction of modern-day Symphonic Gothic Metal. And whimsical piano notes are intertwined with the rumbling bass by Saber Thorn in the gothic extravaganza Mirror of God, where Raven Seven and Lucien Keir make a dynamic duo with their darkened riffage, with the music remaining dense and imposing until the very end.

Dimi takes the lead with her pensive, anguished vocals in the darkly beautiful Ballet of Sadness, a delicate ballad by Sombria that will conquer the hearts of even the toughest metalheads, whereas the crying sound of the violin kicks off the epic and obscure The Soul’s Manuscript, where Winter Cain keeps pounding his drums and bringing doom to us all while Dimi invades our souls with her mesmerizing voice, not to mention the excellent job done once again by the band’s guitar duo. Then like a creature from another world the band comes ripping in the symphonic and heavy-as-hell Wine of Lunacy, where Gothic, Doom and Symphonic Metal are united in the name of darkness. Needless to say, Dimi is once again stunning on vocals, and investing in an even more romantic musicality we have Penitence, with all band members providing Dimi a truly enfolding ambience perfect for her sexy vocals, while the music alternates between heavier moments and menacing passages. Lastly, Sombria’s final breath of obscurity, melancholy and melodious lines comes in the form of the multi-layered Poem from the Dark Gardens, even more epic and operatic than all previous songs, with Raven Seven and Lucien Keir slashing their axes in great fashion supported by all background orchestrations.

The magical and dark world crafted by Sombria in Chirographon Dei can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show Dimi, Raven Seven and their loyal henchmen all your support and admiration you should grab a copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to also follow Sombria on Facebook and on Instagram to keep an eye on everything surrounding such amazing multi-national band, once again demonstrating your passion for the darkest and most melancholic form of heavy music. Sombria’s hybrid of Dark and Melancholic Metal found in their debut opus will surely embrace you like the bitterly cold wind on a winter night, dragging you to their lair and keeping you in the shadows forever and ever. And I’m more than sure that’s exactly what you’re expecting from those ptalented musicians who put their hearts and souls into creating meaningful music for lovers of the dark side.

Best moments of the album: Voyage into Lethe, Sarcophagus of Roses and Wine of Lunacy.

Worst moments of the album: Black December.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Voyage into Lethe 5:47
2. Black December 6:07
3. Sarcophagus of Roses 7:07
4. Mirror of God 6:52
5. Ballet of Sadness 5:01
6. The Soul’s Manuscript 5:45
7. Wine of Lunacy 7:28
8. Penitence 7:11
9. Poem from the Dark Gardens 9:02

Band members
Valentina Devin (Dimi De San) – vocals
Raven Seven – guitars, orchestrations

Guest musicians
Lucien Keir – guitar (session)
Saber Thorn – bass (session)
Winter Cain – drums (session)

Album Review – Veil of Secrets / Dead Poetry (2020)

Emerging as a result of the contact and joint work between Asgeir Mickelson and Vibeke Stene, this newborn Norwegian Doom Metal unity is ready to darken the skies with their amazing debut effort.

Emerging as a result of the contact and joint work between Asgeir Mickelson, known for having played drums in Borknagar, Ihsahn, Vintersorg and Testament, among others, and the unparalleled Vibeke Stene, known as the singer of Tristania for ten years, in Asgeir’s project called God of Atheists, Norwegian Melodic Doom Metal entity Veil of Secrets has just released their debut opus Dead Poetry, the first official album in 13 years with Vibeke on vocals since Tristania’s Illumination. Produced by Vibeke and Asgeir themselves, mixed by Børge Finstad at Toproom Studio, mastered by Endre Kirkesola at dUb Studio, and featuring guests Sareeta (Ram-Zet, Ásmegin) on violin and Erling Malm (Endolith, Articulus) on harsh vocals, Dead Poetry is everything a fan of Gothic and Doom Metal wants, and a fantastic comeback by Vibeke to the world of heavy music. “After some years with no music production or dissemination, I strongly felt an inner longing to create and feel alive through music. So I started to seek a resolution,” said Vikeke. “I’ve taken the chance to believe that my words, my thoughts, and dreams, could have any value combined with my inner tones. The composing process of ‘Dead Poetry’, was deeply founded on honesty and trust, and therefore I’m very proud to finally share Veil of Secrets.”

Vibeke and Asgeir bring the doom to our hearts form the very first second in The Last Attempt, with our beloved soprano flawlessly declaiming the song’s poetic words (“I kept my promise / The world was unaware / I sheltered in the safest place / And I would not go far away”) while Asgeir pounds his drums with anguish and sorrow and slashes his guitar in great fashion, and  more melancholy and somber passages are offered by the duo in the old school Sear the Fallen, sounding like the early days of Tristania with Asgeir’s own twist, with the grim gnarls by Erling adding an extra dosage of evil to the overall result. Then the stunning violin by Sareeta embellishes the airwaves in the menacing and dense Remorseful Heart, a lesson in Doom Metal infused with melodic and atmospheric elements, all of course spiced up by the razor-edged riffage by the skillful Asgeir and the mesmerizing vocal duet by Vibeke and Erling, whereas acoustic guitars set the tone in the Doom Metal aria The Lie of Her Prosperity, a solid and atmospheric creation by the duo where the drums by Asgeir couldn’t have been more sluggish and grim, and with Vibeke shining as usual with her enfolding vocals.

Heavier and even more doomed than its predecessors thanks to the rumbling bass and fierce beats by Asgeir, Fey is the perfect soundtrack for savoring a dark and bitterly cold night alone, with Vibeke bringing a touch of delicacy and finesse to the heaviness blasted by her bandmate; and you better get ready to be absolutely hypnotized by the crying melody of the violin by Sareeta in Bryd, a lesson in classic Doom Metal with Asgeir being ominous with his riffs and slow and steady drums. Needless to say, Vibeke is sensational with her whimsical voice once again, and the second to last fusion of old school doom with more melodic lines comes in the form of Meson, reminding me of Tristania from their album World of Glass. Furthermore, Asgeir’s piercing guitars make an interesting paradox with his damned beats, with Erling’s demonic roars enhancing the song’s punch considerably. And there’s nothing better than ending such majestic album than with a pure, unfiltered Doom Metal aria spearheaded by Vibeke’s delicate but venomous voice entitled Entirety, flowing smoothly and in the most Stygian way possible thanks to the captivating riffage by Asgeir, with Sareeta’s violin putting a gorgeous ending to the band’s musical voyage.

It’s indeed a true pleasure for any metalhead that enjoys a good amount of melancholy, darkness and sorrow in Gothic and Doom Metal to see the multi-talented Vibeke Stene back in action after so many years, and even better when the final result is an amazing album like Dead Poetry, which is by the way available for a full listen on Spotify and on sale from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Crime Records webstore in CD and LP format, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In addition, let’s all show our support to Vibeke and Asgeir by following the project on Facebook and on Instagram, thanking Asgeir forever and ever for inspiring Vibeke to return to the metal community, and hoping that Veil of Secrets expand their reach and spread their blackened wings over the entire world with more albums and live performances in a not-so-distant future. In a year that has been nothing but chaos, obscurity and sadness, who could have imagined that one of the best news in the metal community would come in the form of doom?

Best moments of the album: The Last Attempt, Remorseful Heart and Fey.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Crime Records

Track listing
1. The Last Attempt 5:24
2. Sear the Fallen 6:50
3. Remorseful Heart 5:27
4. The Lie of Her Prosperity 6:19
5. Fey 6:32
6. Bryd 4:27
7. Meson 7:02
8. Entirety 6:21

Band members
Vibeke Stene – vocals
Asgeir Mickelson – guitars, bass, drums

Guest musicians
Sareeta – violin
Erling Malm – harsh vocals

Album Review – Enslaved / Utgard (2020)

Once again inspired by Norse mythology, one of Norway’s most prominent bands of all time returns with more of their early Black Metal roots infused with experimentations with 70’s Progressive Rock.

Since their inception in the distant year of 1991, Bergen, Norway-based Progressive Black/Viking Metal horde Enslaved has continued to push their sound into new territories and remain fresh and relevant with each one of their records, which is also the case with their brand new opus entitled Utgard, the fifteenth studio album in their undisputed career. Currently comprised of vocalist and bassist Grutle Kjellson, guitarists Arve Isdal and Ivar Bjørnson, keyboardist Håkon Vinje and drummer Iver Sandøy, the band’s music once again draws heavily on the Viking cultural and religious heritage of their home country for inspiration, with most of the band’s lyrics relating to Norse mythology. Embraced by a somber artwork by Norwegian artist Truls Espedal, Utgard is titled after a location in Norse mythology, even including some Norse lyrics and song titles, while at the same time displaying the band’s early Black Metal roots infused with their experimentations with Progressive Rock from the 70’s, resulting in a very entertaining album for both diehard fans of the band and newcomers to their Viking realm.

Ritualistic vocalizations ignite the flammable and melodic Fires In The Dark, before the acoustic guitars by Arve and Ivar take us to desolate, bitterly cold Norwegian lands in a beautiful depiction of their modern-day Progressive Black Metal. Furthermore, Grutle, Håkon and Iver have a healthy vocal duel with their respective harsh roars and serene clean vocals, increasing the song’s taste considerably. Then leaning towards their more classic Black Metal, but of course also providing their fans elements from their current musical stage, we have Jettegryta, where Iver is on fire with his blast beats and intricate fills while Grutle growls and gnarls in a dark and captivating manner; followed by Sequence, more rhythmic and less visceral than its predecessors, with Grutle’s gnarls being once again effectively supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals. However, the guitar solos seem a bit disconnected from the rest of the music, resulting in a sound that’s not as exciting as expected in the end. Fortunately, in Homebound the band gets back on track, offering our ears beautiful, poetic words vociferated rabidly by Grutle (“When gold blinds / I will see beyond the false torches / The howling will guide us / Walking the plains between worlds / When houses fall / I will be the pillar in the hail / Unmoving we travel / Crossing oceans in mythological dreams”) while the music remains imposing and vibrant from start to finish.

In Utgarđr, a cryptic, hypnotizing interlude presenting deep vocalizations, we face freezing background sounds until Enslaved come ripping once again with Urjotun, blending their raw sonority with modernized and even electronic sounds and tones from 80’s pop music. As a matter of fact, the final result is truly exciting, as if it was taken from a cult action movie from that same decade. And strident riffs and the pounding drums by Iver kick off the grim and furious Flight Of Thought And Memory, a lecture in contemporary Progressive Black and Viking Metal alternating between obscure savagery and melancholic passages, or in other words, a very detailed, multi-layered composition tailored for admirers of the genre. Back to a more straightforward musicality the quintet offers us all the melodic Storms Of Utgard, with the guitars by both Arve and Ivar permeating the air in great fashion, boosted by the song’s galloping beats and celestial keys, and they put a gentle and inspiring closure to the album with Distant Seasons, a semi-acoustic ballad where we’re treated to serene clean vocals infused with tribal and primeval nuances, featuring spot-on backing vocals by guests Inger Sunneva Peersen and Sonja Elisabeth Peerson.

We must all admit it’s a real pleasure to witness Enslaved experimenting and developing new sounds album after album, and in Utgard, which by the way is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, let’s say they nailed it, offering us all a well-balanced mix of their more violent roots with their present progressiveness and harmony. Hence, don’t forget to give those Norwegian metallers a shout on Facebook, to follow them on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and to purchase Utgard from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all location where you can find the album), and may Enslaved keep on rocking like there’s no tomorrow through the realms of Viking Metal and Progressive Rock for many decades to come in their gorgeous and mythical homeland.

Best moments of the album: Jettegryta, Homebound and Flight Of Thought And Memory.

Worst moments of the album: Sequence.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Fires In The Dark 5:59
2. Jettegryta 4:56
3. Sequence 6:39
4. Homebound 5:29
5. Utgarđr 1:51
6. Urjotun 4:21
7. Flight Of Thought And Memory 6:22
8. Storms Of Utgard 4:38
9. Distant Seasons 4:31

Band members
Grutle Kjellson – vocals, bass, keyboards
Arve Isdal – lead guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals on “Fires In The Dark”
Ivar Bjørnson – guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboards, effects, backing vocals on “Fires In The Dark”
Håkon Vinje – keyboards, piano, clean vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums, percussion, keyboards, effects, clean vocals

Guest musicians
Martin Horntveth – percussion, glockenspiel, rototoms, tubular bells, keyboards and programming on “Sequence”
Inger Sunneva Peersen – backing vocals on “Distant Seasons”
Sonja Elisabeth Peerson – backing vocals on “Distant Seasons”

Album Review – Coldflesh / Phantasmagoric Realms EP (2020)

Enter the phantasmagoric realms of Death Metal ruled by four skillful and ruthless musicians from the underground Norwegian scene.

Forged in 2014 in the fires of Oslo, the capital of the always alluring country of Norway, when guitarist Audun Melbye brought in some songs from his former band Pieces, the up-and-coming Death Metal squad known as Coldflesh started recording their first studio album back in 2016 (when they settled on the band name, by the way), but after several vocalists and inadequate conditions to record it (resulting in tracks that were not showing the band’s full potential), the album was reduced to a four-track EP entitled Phantasmagoric Realms and postponed to a March 2020 release. However, the band now comprised of vocalist and guitarist Robin Berg Pettersen, guitarist Audun Melbye, bassist Magnus Slettebø and drummer Laszlo Juhos nailed it in their debut endeavor, delivering a high-end fusion of old school Death Metal with more contemporary Extreme Metal sounds and, therefore, pointing to a bright future for this Norwegian horde.

The opening track Deficiency already begins in full force, with Robin and Audun’s heavy riffage together with Laszlo’s pounding beats generating a reverberating atmosphere, blending classic Death Metal with the Melodic Death Metal from the Gothenburg scene, not to mention Robin’s demonic, deep growling. Then we have the title-track Phantasmagoric Realms, a solid tune full of classic beats, soulful guitar solos and endless rage that keeps inviting us all to slam into the mosh pit, with Robin and Audun, supported by the massive bass punches by Magnus, slashing our ears mercilessly; followed by Aeons Absorbed, another crushing Death Metal extravaganza led by Laszlo’s rhythmic drums and Robin’s wicked roars, sounding perfect for banging your head nonstop and reminding me of some of the creations by the mighty Unleashed (but with a darker twist). And the final act by Coldflesh comes in the form of Eradicate The Futile, a mid-tempo, hammering tune where the bass by Magnus sounds infernally heavy, with Laszlo bringing forth a warlike ambience perfect for the band’s guitar duo to kick ass with their shredding, effectively ending such short but very entertaining album of extreme music.

In summary, although Coldflesh were forced to shorten their debut installment due to unforeseen reasons, those Norwegian metallers managed to do a really good job in Phantasmagoric Realms, showcasing all their talent, dedication and passion for Death Metal in the 18 minutes of music found in the EP. Hence, go check what this new name from the underground Norwegian scene is up to on Facebook, and of course go show your true support to independent metal by purchasing your copy of Phantasmagoric Realms from the band’s own BandCamp page. As aforementioned, Coldflesh have a promising future ahead of them based on this short and sweet sample of how crushing their Death Metal can be, and it’s only a matter of time until we hear form those guys again, hopefully with an absolutely demolishing full-length spawn.

Best moments of the album: Phantasmagoric Realms.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Deficiency 5:18
2. Phantasmagoric Realms 4:36
3. Aeons Absorbed 4:28
4. Eradicate The Futile 3:50

Band members
Robin Berg Pettersen – vocals, guitar
Audun Melbye – guitar
Magnus Slettebø – bass
Laszlo Juhos – drums

Album Review – Crest of Darkness / The God of Flesh (2019)

Expanding the feel, variety and depth of their music, this talented Norwegian Black Metal triumvirate returns with the heaviest, darkest and most personal album of their undisputed career.

Conceived in the mid-nineties, more specifically in 1993 in the city of Gjøvik, Norway, by vocalist and bassist Ingar Amlien (when his former band Conception was still at its peak) as a product of his own passion for sheer sonic brutality and devotion to the satanic ideology according to Anton LaVeys’ Church Of Satan and the Satanic Bible, Atmospheric Black Metal horde Crest of Darkness is moving barriers once again with their brand new opus entitled The God of Flesh, expanding the feel, variety and depth of their music, showing to be as much at home with more progressive elements as they are with the aggressive and dark, brutal side for which they are known. In other words, get ready to be dragged into pitch black darkness together with Ingar and his henchmen Rebo on the guitar and Berhard on drums, not to mention guest keyboardist Kristian Wentzel, in what’s the heaviest, darkest and most personal album of their undisputed career.

Arising from the pits of the underworld, Crest of Darkness comes crushing our souls in the opening track The God Of Flesh, where Bernhard slams his drums manically while Ingar fires his Marduk-inspired demonic gnarls in a pulverizing display of old school Norwegian Black Metal. If that wasn’t infernal enough to you, it’s time for The Child With No Head with its psychological, grim lyrics (“Forever it will stay alive / This memory has filled your mind / Forever it will drag you down / Happiness you cannot find / Selfish greed / Religious views / The smell of death / The sound of thunder / No forgiveness / No escape / You know your world is going under”) and absolute madness and evil flowing form all instruments, with Rebo sounding absurdly satanic with his riffs, followed by Endless Night, where a more serene, melancholic atmosphere evolves into a mid-tempo ode to hell, with Ingar vociferating the song’s Stygian words while blasting his bass chords at the same time, supported by the rhythmic drumming by Bernhard.

Enhancing their aggressiveness and rage with hints of classic Death Metal added to their crude sonority, the band offers our avid ears the disturbing The Spawn Of Seth, a full-bodied creation by Crest of Darkness where Rebo is on fire with his razor-edged riffs and solos, also showcasing demonic lyrics as usual (“You are walking the earth as ghosts / You are flying on the wings of death / The human race is your host / As long as it can draw its breath”). And blending obscurity, despair and sadness, the ominous and ethereal bridge Forgotten sets the tone for Euthanasia, a neck-breaking, incendiary tune led by Rebo’s hellish riffage and Ingar’s Mephistophelian roars, perfect for headbanging like a bastard in the name of darkness while Bernhard’s pounding drums bring even more violence to the overall result.

Blood, one of their most ritualistic creations, unites the sulfurous blasphemy of traditional Black Metal with the harmony and intricacy of contemporary Melodic Black Metal, sounding at times as if Danzig went full extreme, and after such fantastic exhibit of extreme music, the trio from the netherworld captivates our senses once again with more of their Stygian sounds in Godless Evil Eyes, again presenting cutting riffs and classic beats, spearheaded by Ingar and his harsh, crude vocals. And last but not least, Salvation In Hell brings forward total devastation in the form of Black Metal to close the album on a high note, with all band members demolishing their instruments mercilessly, in special Bernhard with his complex and vibrant beats and fills.

Featuring a profane, cult-like artwork by Norwegian artist Marius Engli Andersson, and available for a full listen on Spotify, The God of Flesh is another solid and electrifying pillar in the satanic church of Black Metal built by Ingar and his horde, pointing to a bright (or maybe I should say completely dark) future for such amazing traditional act hailing from the beautiful Norway. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, to purchase The God of Flesh from their own BandCamp page (or click HERE for all options available in the market), and also to watch Ingar himself commenting about each and every track from the album on YouTube in three special videos (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). In a nutshell, darkness is upon us thanks to this bloodthirsty, talented Norwegian triumvirate, proving once and for all evil always results in first-class extreme music.

Best moments of the album: The Child With No Head, The Spawn Of Seth and Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Endless Night.

Released in 2019 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. The God Of Flesh 4:08
2. The Child With No Head 3:45
3. Endless Night 5:40
4. The Spawn Of Seth 5:06
5. Forgotten 2:24
6. Euthanasia 5:40
7. Blood 4:13
8. Godless Evil Eyes 3:47
9. Salvation In Hell 4:24

Band members
Ingar Amlien – vocals, bass
Rebo – lead and rhythm guitar
Bernhard – drums

Guest musician
Kristian Wentzel – keyboards

Movie Review – Lords Of Chaos (2018)

Witness the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners in the vision of award-winning director Jonas Åkerlund, despite the annoying fact the entire movie is spoken in English.

“A teenager’s quest to launch Norwegian Black Metal in Oslo in the early 1990s results in a very violent outcome.”

That’s how the producers of the good movie Lords Of Chaos, which was screened at several film festivals in 2018 and released in theaters on February 8 and on demand on February 22 this year, are promoting their version of the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners, those being Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes (also known for his revolutionary one-man project Burzum), Pelle ‘Dead’ Ohlin and, above all, Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth, the founder of and central figure in the early Norwegian Black Metal scene, the co-founder of the Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem, and the founder and owner of the Extreme Metal record label Deathlike Silence Productions and record shop Helvete. All of them were members of one of the most infamous bands of all time, Mayhem, being part of a militant cult-like group known as the “Black Metal Inner Circle”.

If you’re a longtime fan of True Norwegian Black Metal, there’s nothing new to you in the movie that you don’t already know, but it’s still interesting to see how director Jonas Åkerlund, a Swedish director and drummer known for music videos like Madonna’s Ray of Light, Rammstein’s Pussy and The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up, and a member of Swedish Black Metal institution Bathory from 1983 to 1984, portrayed all the trademark chaos, rebelliousness and violence of the Norwegian scene in the 90’s. Featuring Rory Culkin (yes, he’s the younger brother of Macaulay Culkin) as Euronymous, who did a great job trying to humanize such distinct character of the Black Metal universe, Emory Cohen as the untamable Varg, Jack Kilmer as the disturbed Dead, Sky Ferreira as Euronymous’ girlfriend Ann-Marit, and Valter Skarsgård as Emperor’s drummer and convicted murderer Bård Guldvik ‘Faust’ Eithun, as well as Anthony De La Torre as Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg and James Edwyn as Kjetil ‘Manheim’ (considered by many the true founders of Mayhem in 1984, when the band was still named Musta), Lords Of Chaos is far from being a masterpiece, but it’s still a very entertaining movie that provides (to a certain point, of course) a very good view of how Black Metal changed the lives of those reckless kids that had a fairly decent life in Norway.

Despite the real Varg being completely against Lords Of Chaos, even stating in a 2016 video that Mayhem, Burzum and Darkthrone all denied the movie rights to their music, the movie is indeed a compelling ride that transforms Mayhem’s iconic guitarist Euronymous into a normal person like any of us, focusing on his fears and personal strugles as a young guy living in Norway, having won the jury prize best film award at the Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival in 2018 and being nominated to several other awards worldwide. However, if there’s one thing that really bothered me throughout the entire movie was the fact that all actors in the film speak in English (and with their American accents) all the time, despite the movie being entirely shot is Oslo, the capital of the beautiful Norway. In my opinion, they could have selected a few good Norwegian actors and done the whole movie in Norwegian to give it a much more realistic vibe, as it was sometimes pretty inconsistent and cringeworthy (at least for me) watching people in Norway, with the TV, newspapers and everything else in Norwegian, speaking like if they were all born and raised in Los Angeles or New York. That small but important detail doesn’t necessarily ruin the movie, but whenever you watch it I’m sure you’ll also have that feel that you’re watching a “Black Metal edition” of Beverly Hills, 90210 being aired on a Tuesday at 3pm on a random public access TV channel. I understand the use of English was somewhat essential for reaching a broader audience and having better support to promote the movie, but I still think the Norwegian language would have made the entire movie a thousand times more entertaining.

Apart from that language issue, Lords Of Chaos is extremely well produced, presenting a fantastic photography, including some stunning scenes from Norway’s unique nature and landscapes and, of course, strong colors and imagery to represent the main characters’ depression, madness and fears, and the story flows smoothly with very few plot holes (and historical inaccuracies) until the end. Furthermore, it’s nice to see how human all those musicians were, despite the fact many of their fans like to idolize them (as we pretty much do with any member of our favorite bands no matter which type of music they play). For instance, in one of the first scenes of the movie, we can see Euronymous, Dead and the others partying outdoors like any regular teenager, listening to some ass-kicking, old school metal hymns, having a lot of beer and trying to impress the girls around them. No murder, no arson, nor anything like that, only kids enjoying life and trying to find their place in society. As simple as that, just like many, many Black Metal bands reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose who focus on their music rather than on violent or illegal activities.

In addition, although Jonas Åkerlund stated in a 2018 interview that he used little Black Metal in the movie in part because “it’s kind of painful to listen to black metal music if you’re not used to it or don’t love it,” there’s still a lot of good Black Metal and other types of extreme and not-so-extreme music played throughout the entire movie. While watching it, get ready to bang your head and raise your horns to classics such as Funeral Fog by Mayhem, Inri and Satanic Lust by Sarcofago, Fast as a Shark by Accept, Stand up and Shout by Dio, Born for Burning, Sacrifice and The Return of Darkness and Evil by Bathory, Outbreak of Evil by Sodom, Serpent Eye by Cathedral, and Exhume To Consume by Carcass, among several others. Not only that, there are obviously some very entertaining scenes where both Mayhem and Burzum are either rehearsing, recording in the studio or playing live, which by the way is one of my favorite musical moments of the movie, with Mayhem’s chaotic sound mixed with the bloody and demented performance by their frontman Dead being the undisputed depiction of True Norwegian Black Metal.

Anyway, the main topic presented during the whole movie is obviously the extremely delicate relationships between Euronymous and Dead during what can be considered the first phase of Mayhem (until the always perturbed Dead loses it and commits suicide by blowing his brains out with a shotgun, with Euronymous taking a picture of his deceased friend and turning it into the disturbing cover art of their 1995 bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts), and especially between Euronymous and the one who would become his arch nemesis in the end, the beyond controversial Varg. I mean, Dead was absolutely nuts from the very beginning, and apparently he’s always been like that due to a very tough childhood where he was bullied and beaten all the time at school, and Euronymous was just a regular musician until turning into a Black Metal beast with excellent sales, marketing and promotion skills, but the transformation of Varg from a chubby guy who liked Scorpions into a total lunatc who would reach the point of burning churches in the name of Black Metal is simply fantastic. For instance, pay good attention to the whole scene where Varg invites the press to his “lair” and tells them his name is “Count Grishnackh”, among other ridiculous comments and statements he makes. That’s hilarious and could have easily been included in any American teen movie.

And Jonas Åkerlund keeps humanizing all characters the entire movie, showing how Euronymous got some money from his father to open Helvete and start his record label, how Varg got money from his mother to help record a Mayhem album (and kept asking Euronymous for that money to pay his mom back), and how Faust couldn’t stop watching horror movies, which was one of the reasons why he got so interested in killing someone, or as he said, in piercing a knife through someone’s body like in the movies. And unless you come from a different dimension and knows absolutely nothing about True Norwegian Black Metal, you’ll be relatively shocked with how things turn at the end of the movie when Varg, feeling betrayed by his former friend Euronymous, who according to Varg himself turned his back not only to him but to the “Black Metal Inner Circle” and to the entire scene to focus on his musical career and on his girlfriend, decides to put an end to their relationship for good (or I should say not good at all). Let’s say Euronymous was what Dani Filth, from Cradle Of Filth, and Nergal, from Behemoth, are nowadays, an excellent performer and musician with a normal life backstage, which somehow sparks a lot of rage from the ones who consider themselves “true Black Metal fans”, got it?

There are many interviews and videos online where Jonas Åkerlund, Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen discuss Lords Of Chaos, like this one with BUILD Series NYC, and you can also find more information about the movie directly from their Facebook page, Twitter and Intagram. However, I highly recommend you avoid all that before watching Lords Of Chaos (don’t even watch the trailer below), as a few of those interviews and videos might “ruin” some important parts of the movie for you. Put differently, turn off the lights and light up some candles, turn off your smart phone, put on your most diabolical metal shirt, grab a beer or some red wine, and dive deep into the beautiful but somber Norway together with Euronymous, Dead and Varg, and become a “lord of chaos” yourself. You’re going to love this movie or completely hate it, but at least give it a try and then see what you think about it.

Best moments of the movie: Every scene where Euronymous interacts with either Dead or Varg is excellent. Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen and Jack Kilmer do a pretty solid job playing those three iconic characters.

Worst moments of the movie: As aforementioned, the fact that all dialogues are spoken in English and not in Norwegian, despite the entire movie being set in the beautiful Norway and based on Norwegian characters.

Released in 2018 Gunpowder & Sky/Arrow Films

Directed by Jonas Åkerlund

Cast
Rory Culkin – Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth
Emory Cohen – Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes
Jack Kilmer – Pelle ‘Dead’ Ohlin
Sky Ferreira – Ann-Marit
Valter Skarsgård – Bård Guldvik ‘Faust’ Eithun
Anthony De La Torre – Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg
Jonathan Barnwell – Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud
Full cast & crew