Bergraven – Det framlidna minnet – Nordvis Produktion

The true Scandinavian Jazzy Black Metal.

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Swedish band Bergraven started out as a sort of “regular” black metal band, and its last album was released 10 years ago.

Already going into unknown territories, the album is creative but not so much as this new one. Well, let’s think for a minute: 10 years is a LOT OF TIME to hone one’s skills, and from regular, it went to UNIQUE.

Det framlidna minnet may be the first album in history to convert an old thing like Jazz/Progressive death metal (think about Atheist and Death) into something totally Black and European, in this case the solo albums of Ihsahn come to mind. But different to that artist the things here get really complicated and experimental, but never ever losing its Black Metal soul. Maybe because the basic traits of the style are maintained intact, like harsh vocals, the buzzing sound of guitars and the organic drums. Then get those traits, put the strangest tempos into it, and layers upon layers of sax and some acoustic guitar and then you have what Bergraven was always supposed to be.

Det framlidna minnet is a chef-d’œuvre of the originality, a difficult album but a really pleasant one to immerse oneself into.

The first track is a Zappa-based craziness just to start out with Allt, which, although summarizing the album’s sound is not the best song. It’s really good though.

The crazy atmosphere changes when Den följsamma plågan starts to unveil what the album is all about. The intimist traits of jazz and experimental songs with the density of Black Metal, very interchangeable and mid-tempo. And that’s the subtle difference of the band compared to other bands. Believe me, I listen to strange stuff all the time. As a black metal band, things don’t go like a crazy train here. Maybe fans of the most brutal and war-like metal will find this very, very bland, but this is the exactly charming about Bergraven.

Then the songs start to clock in at 8-plus-minute, three in sequence: starting with Minnets melankoli: superficially it’s not very different than Den följsamma plågan, but a good look into it, shows that, for dilletantes, the structure maybe the same, but the song goes from pure hate to idyllic without further explanation. Real negative atmosphere broken into acoustic guitars, just to go back to complicated bellows with quasi- free jazz tempos.

Leendet av hans verk, the second one, starts very Zappa, but in a moment changes to Burzum , into repetitive mode, but without the synth sound. A piano-like sound is used instead, then just to gain an acoustic guitar, clean vocals, very progressive and just to finish as the most hateful black metal that it is. But in the midst a mysterious sax takes place a somewhat Opeth sound (yes, it IS THAT crazy), and the Mayhem-like sound take everything by assault. Mate, this is totally MY THING!

Last in line of the “trilogy” (there’s no trilogy, I invented it) is Den dödes stigar that starts very heavy , blacky with that strange negativity that permeates the whole opus, blast beats along with a riff that dies out in a iteration of peaceful ambience that gains some elements, but at the end of the day, never changes, going over and over until the sound fades out. It’s a trip. That happens more or less from the middle of the song to the part that is somewhat sad. One beat here, another there, very slow-paced.

The track 7 is called Till priset av vårt liv: think about this image (and try to translate into sound). Using the very same materials, Bergraven deconstructs the building, just to build it up again, but with a crazy architecture. Clocking in at almost 11 minutes, some elements of Death and Frank Zappa (no, I’m not drunk) appears with full force, somewhat sounding too crazy to be assimilated, and it is, but conversely with a repetitive chorus that sticks to the mind. Go figure. The solo is pure Death from the albums like Human and Individual Thought Patterns. Simple perfection.

How it ends? With an outro that is the extended version of the intro, with a segue but “backwards”.

How does inventive and dedicate someone have to be to create such a marvelous and mature state of art?

I don’t know about the other publications but here on Dark Souls United this album will get a… check out the rating…

Det framlidna minnet by Bergraven is out on Nordvis.

Rating: 10/10


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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ARCHGOAT – The Luciferian Crown – Debemur Morti Productions

The finest Finnish Tradition.

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Archgoat is the archetype of destruction and satanic intransigence. Their history goes back to the beginnings of Finnish black metal and this says much about the new album The Luciferian Crown .

Traditionally their attack is 100% inexorable, fast velocity, non-stop violence. But in this album, they’ve got a different stance: they are making slower songs and Finnish as they are it’s quite impossible to not link them with Beherit in the days of Drawing Dawn The Moon.

But, of course the comparisons stop here.

Star of Darkness shows a brutal and raw blackened death metal, like in the old days, organic as fuck. Needless to say, they follow this pure sound all along.

The Obsidian Flames is the slow one: it follows a quasi-hypnotic tempo, repetitive riffs: the pure sound of evil invocation.

The title track accelerates things quite a bit, but always maintaining the monstrous sound with a good production, although the guitars seem like a chainsaw!

The thing that highlights however is the Sinister-like vocals. Naturally their sound has nothing to do with the Dutch band, but the way Lord Angelslayer growls sound like the early vocals of that band.

The Messiah of Pigs is a crazy interchange of Impaled Nazarene (old) with Beherit and of course, Blasphemy. Cool as hell.

This album maintains the purest tradition of the goat worship. If you know your real extreme metal, you know Archgoat!

The Luciferian Crown is out today on Debemur Morti Productions on Digipak CD, vinyl, Bandcamp and other popular digital platforms. Don’t lose this one!


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Iskald – Innhøstinga (Indie Recordings)

The true evolution.

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Iskald is a relatively young band. With a first independent EP recorded and released in 2006, the band released five albums so far (including Innhøstinga). The progress they made since then is clear, mainly if one compares the new album to the last one, released in 2014 called Nedom og Nord.

Funny thing is that people use to call them Thrash metal (really?) or Melodic Black Metal (which makes more sense). Granted, if by thrash metal people are thinking about Immortal’s At the Heart of Winter era, then it makes some sense, but honestly Iskald is much more than just a comparative measure.

True to their original take on Black Metal, the band follow the tradition of the extreme metal bands from Norway to create something totally outwordly. Innhøstinga (which is Norwegian for The Harvest) takes the band to an extreme level, much more complex than before with changes of tempo being the main course back to back!

The songs are difficult to fathom at the first spins, and primarily the songs that stand out are the first track The Atrocious Horror – a track that sets the pace for the rest of the opus – and No Amen – a more recognizable effort that shows the listener something near a strong chorus.

Although black metallers like Even Dawn Drew Twilight appear, the heaviness is muddy and moody.

The serpentine guitars are tricky for the guy who is trying to catch them, so lots of spins are necessary to stick in the memory. The example is the song Resting, Not In Peace with so many layers that is confusing sometimes, but that’s the album’s charm.

The disc never goes through the motions and once the listener learn the ropes the album turns essential. The growls of the track From Traitor to Beast along with the beefy riffs are second to none.

Innhøstinga proves something very important for a band like Iskald: if they’ve been under the headbanger’s radar for so much time, it isn’t the case now. Although one can easily start with this album, the curiosity will grow and people will discover their excellent moments in the previous efforts too. They were born to be big. Time will prove that I am right!

Innhøstinga is out now on Indie Recordings on vinyl and digipak CD.


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Laster – Ons vrije fatum – Dunkelheit Produktionen

Is atmospheric BM an oxymoron?

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By playing the newest album of Laster from Netherlands one question imposes: where does the black metal ends and another style commences?

The problem of the so called atmospheric black metal (mainly in North America, not exactly a problem here) and the similar blackgaze in Europe is that people ty to reinvent the steel (which cannot be reinvented). Of course, I’m not a stubborn who cannot live with changes but this is a subject for an article.

The thing here is that, differently from other bands, Laster is a pretty decent group, with pretty decent music. What one would call a flaw they would say they made on purpose, so it’s not a flaw.

For example, the album opens up with the title track with vitriolic black metal, no-compromise, Darkthrone style (with a better production, of course) but for those who expected pure black metal it is kind of anticlimactic, the layers start to wear off rather than come in, phrase by phrase the song starts to become bland until a full rocker, almost a brit pop, appears to the ears. It’s kind of a negative catharsis.

Second track Binnenstebuiten follows suit with the same MO, but although the third one Bitterzoet promises the same approach of take it or leave it, there appears an ultra-elegant sax to give a somewhat simple formula a lush treatment, merging the simple black metal bases with at least a complex layer of jazz.

But after the fail to convince the listener that this is indeed a black metal album although its pitfalls, the album suddenly starts to grow inside the audience with a cohesive factor, that doesn’t deviate from THEIR norm. That’s a bonus because, they do draw a frame for themselves and manage to keep inside this frame, which starts to make sense as some VERY repetitive phrases inside songs like Helemaal naar hui and Er wordt op mij gewacht appear.

This a 50/50 deal: to some this is heaven (woops) as music, to others this may not even sound interesting, and never before the perspective (as well as the mood) of the listener could decide if an album is ace or not. For me, at the end of the day, it worked very well.


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Insulters – Metal Still Means Danger – Unholy Prophecies / Equinox Discos

The revenge of the 80’s

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Insulters (a band that hails from Spain) is not exactly new on the bill. They have some work behind them, including one full length, two demos, a split, a collaboration and a compilation.

This sophomore album is doubtless an amalgamation of Bathory, Venom, Motörhead, which cannot (and never will) fail.

Speed metal riffage with an icing of black metal bellows, it could be compared to Darkthrone latest phase, but that would be an understatement: they are no Darkthrone, they sound very different, yet they retain the velocity in tracks like Age of Terror and Highway of the Dead (a helluva track with a sinister soloing buried in the background) and an earworm attitude.

Although all the tracks sound equal (really) the trick here is to take several spins to make the album grow on you: for example, it’s undeniable that Bang your Fucking Skull makes one headbang proudly throughout the tune with fists in the air.

Another delicious approach of metal from hell is the trenchant Bastard Soldiers that brings grim riffs to the tableau, making one going reckless (and wild).

The song Here Falls the Hammer starts as a mid tempo tune (and this one, as the name infers is pure Celtic Frost, that’s even an UGHHHH to confirm). Maybe this one is the most different tune of the album, but that’s that. They don’t endeavor too far, and that’s the deal.

Maybe one is kinda tired of “retro” metal but this one’s worthy your time.


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Kyy – Beyond Flesh – Beyond Matter – Beyond Death – Saturnal

Beyond matter there’s only blackness.

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I don’t have repeat the obvious, but I will do anyway: Finland has the most satanic black metal bands in the world. Kyy is another one to the biggest pantheon they already have, with this debut album (their first release was last year’s  Travesty of Light)

The song here is a muffed black metal. I know muffed is not even a good word to describe a black metal band, but the production is a middle ground between the true mudded sound and some balanced audible music.

Strange as it may sound in a first spin, the album gets one by his balls: raspy, aghast, horrific music only for fans of Baptism, Sargeist, Horna, Behexen and Azaghal.

Songs like Legio Serpenti, Death Within and mainly the desperation of Reditus pay dividends if one absorbs properly the noxious gasses emanated by the band.

Panta Rhei is a pure black metal insanity, none so vile, second to none: fast drumming, classical Scandinavian riffs, heartless music for insensitive minds.

It’s all straightforward blackness with doubled vocals, like demons in a bottomless chasm of destruction, spewing blasphemies all over as in the track Erecting Temple of Adversary

There’s no attribute to this band other than pure perfectness! This is the kind of sound I’d listen everyday, all day long, if I had the opportunity to do so.

Beyond Flesh – Beyond Matter – Beyond Death  is out now on Saturnal 


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Ancillotti – Strike Back – Pure Steel Records

Sophomore Heavy Metal attack.

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This second album of the Italian Ancilloti is a mix of heavy metal and hard rock in the vein of the classic bands of the style, sounding more Germanic than Italian, but as a European band I believe that it sounds right.

Ancillotti shows that their potential sometimes is obscured by the production which sounds shabby for the kind of sound they try to do: I mean, the compositions are really good, the musicianship as the soloing are very good as well, I cannot complain, but sometimes it sounds mudded by subpar mixing and mastering.

To Hell with you and Immortal Idol show this kind of approach where the feeling of rock n roll is alive and heavy metal runs rampant with riffs of pure ode to heavy metal, and solos that are screaming to traditional ears.

Fight roars the metalheads to fight in the name of the rock. Hell yeah, I’m totes into that battle. Over again the guitars here are the main course as well as the refrain!

Firestater is more of a hardrocker, good song, forged in the fires of the 1980’s, not impressive really, but the guys have the guts to try their hands on that!

As the album oscillates in this fair balance between rockers and steels, there is one rotten apple called Lonely Road. It remembers Saxon’s worst moments, and the voice of our hero here, Daniele “Bud” Ancillotti (Strana Officina) doesn’t work very well, really and it sounds a little corny.

Life is for living compensates for the aforementioned mistake and is certain hit! Although there is only one problem, it doesn’t sound as heavy as it is intended.

The drumming of Brian Ancillotti is totally correct and hard but, over again it sounds inoffensive in the final mix.

This album needs one thing: a REMASTERING. It’s just been released, but they should consider this kind of approach should they have the opportunity to do so.

Strike Back is a good metal album that will get the old schoolers of trad metal by the balls, I’m certain of that!

Strike Back is being released TODAY via Pure Steel Records.


(Daniel “Roderick” Death)

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