Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ciel Nocturne


Ciel Nocturne - Season of Solitude
Drakkar Productions, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro - Matin d'hiver
2. Fragments d'un passé qui me ronge
3. Le Goût du néant
4. Déclin Salutaire
5. Season of Solitude Part I
6. Paysage fané
7. La forêt sanctuaire
8. Grise ameritume
9. Brumes et pluies
10. Season of Solitude Part II
11. Outro - Dégel





After a bit of a dodgy demo, Ciel Nocturne put out their first full-length. Sure its often listed as a demo, but it's released by a major Black Metal label and runs about forty-five minutes in length, so it may as well be a full-length as far as I'm concerned. This is a cassette only release and has a pro-printed booklet with dubbed tape. It seems this is limited in some capacity because the #308 appears on my booklet.

I was a little worried when I first sat through the intro song, because the guitars were entirely too fuzzy and way too loud in the mix. Okay, the guitars are way too fuzzy throughout the entire album, but at least the mix balances off a bit more. It's still not that great and feels more like an LLN styled project in many respects. While the riffing is far more purposeful and strikes more melodic in sections, they still delve into that rather disturbing dissonance those projects touched upon in many ways. This is one of those times when slightly cleaning up the production a little bit might take something difficult to listen to and turn it into something very well done. A lot of the riffs on here are actually very well done, but they're getting loss in the mess of the production value. The only outright bad decision song wise, as far as I can tell is the choice to do clean vocals on "Season of Solitude Part I" and other songs where they show up.

For the most part this is a lot better than the split tape and they have matured their song writing quite a bit more. Perhaps working in projects like Hasserben has helped advanced that a bit more. This project is certainly a lot more melancholic than the likes of Hasserben though. Either way, aside from the totally necro-production, the only really bad ideas were the clean vocals, because those aren't that well executed at any rate. So, if you're a fan of the raw Black Metal scene out in France, this is probably worth hearing, just wish the production was a little better, because a lot of this appears to be pretty solid material.

Ciel Nocturne & Devilmind Split
Wolfsturm Propaganda, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

Ciel Nocturne:
1. Totaler Krieg
2. Division Sequania
3. Logik der Ausrottung
4. Hans Siste Vinter (Darkthrone cover)
5. Gloire Ephémère
Devilmind:
6. Au Travers des Montagnes
7. Notre Territoire Menacé
8. Résistance Patriotique
9. Emprise Tyrannique
10. Jour de Gloire
11. Lorsque l'Esprit Revient a Grands a Grands Pas



Side Devilmind: ...coming eventually (but probably not, wasn't too into this)...
Side Ciel Nocturne:

I ended up finding Ciel Nocturne through my interest in the band Autarcie, since both members play in that band as well. Ciel Nocturne pre-dates that band a little bit though and I've enjoyed most of what these musicians do, so I figured I would try out their Ciel Nocturne project. The project debut's on a split tape limited to 200 hand-numbered copies. I own either 101, 104 or 107... it's hard to tell because the hand writing is so terrible. The booklet is printed on harder paper and looks professionally printed instead of a do-it-yourself xerox type of job.

Even though Metal-Archives states that their project called Svartkrig became Autarcie, I think the Ciel Nocturn music is a bit closer to what Autarcie play. Perhaps that's why Ciel Nocturne was eventually put to rest, because there was no point in running two projects that were so similar. Either way, if you're expecting a pristine and polished project, look someplace else. These musicians play harsh and raw Black Metal. To me a lot of their sound is heavily rooted in the style of Darkthrone, which is painfully obvious due to the cover that appears on this album. However, it is even more raw than what Darkthrone has produced on their albums. I do think Ciel Nocturne tend to be a little more melodic compared to Darkthrone, in the way the French play with melody at any rate. Prior to Ciel Nocturne they were also involved with a project called Svartkrig, which was very good, but far more intense. Ciel Nocturne is a much more laid back sounding Black Metal by comparison. This doesn't mean they play slow, we are treated to quite a few fast songs, blast beats and all, throughout the demo, but the compositions don't feel nearly as intense as the Svartkrig material.

So, if you're into Darkthrone inspired material, this may be a project to look at for future releases. Every song isn't great, but they have their moments. It's certainly a fairly solid start to a project and I'm interested to see where they go from here.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Entartung


Entartung - Baptised into the Faith of Lust
World Terror Committee, 2017
Genre: Black Metal

1. Resurrectio mortuorum
2. Vices of the Prophet
3. De Sura Frukterna av Shalems Hus
4. Agni Kravyad
5. Der Werwolf
6. Black Dog of God
7. Hymne à la Beauté






When I saw it announced that Entartung had a new album coming, I was instantly excited. "Peccata Mortalia" has been receiving regular play in my rotation of albums. The track they debuted was "Black Dog of God" and when I listened to it on youtube, I was a little less than impressed... so I was worried the album wouldn't be very good. However, I also know that whatever youtube does to music is often bad for Black Metal, so judging a recording on that platform isn't so great. So, I bought the album anyway to see for myself.

I'm happy to report that "Baptised into the Faith of Lust" is an absolutely excellent album. One of the best released in 2017 I dare say, for me at any rate. After giving this quite a few listens at this point, I think I understand why I didn't really like the promo song. Perhaps to no fault of their own, but the lead sections of guitars is sometimes buried a little deeper in the mix than is necessary. Sure, it creates an interesting atmosphere of subtle leads... but that doesn't help the song stand out as much. When run through the youtube system, it basically gets rid of the leads quite a bit more, so the tracks don't seem as well done or as catchy, but listening to "Black Dog of God" on my own system really makes that track stand out. It is, indeed, one of the finer songs on the entire album and has some of the best riffs around!

"Baptised into the Faith of Lust" builds on the foundation of "Peccata Mortalia", but instead of staying within the realms of purely German Black Metal, I hear a bit of the Finnish end of things put into play. Granted it sounds primarily German, I just hear a bit of Sargeist styled elements show up here and there once in a while in their compositions. "Black Dog of God" basically opens with that kind of riffing, if you want to hear an example of it.

Once again, they have a beautifully designed booklet. There's only one issue I have with it, while the font choice is visually arresting and matches the layout concept very well... in terms of reading it's not so great. As with the prior album they include a background explanation for the lyrical influence of each song, but the font kind of hinders you from reading it too much. Design wise it really works though... so at least the whole booklet looks beautiful.

In the end Entartung have put together another truly excellent album and I'm looking forward to listening to it multiple times over the years. If you've been a fan of their discography so far, then this new album will certainly be no different. One of the things I like about Entartung is that they really manage to stay true to their core sound, but they don't just release the same album every time. They sort of circle around a core theme, but with different focus each time. Definitely one of the better bands to be following right now.

Entartung - Peccata Mortalia
World Terror Committee, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Der Hölle Herr
2. Blasphemaverit in Spiritum Sanctum
3. Out of Darkness into Light
4. Faith on the Scaffold
5. Cimmerian Shade
6. To Conquer Immortality in the Depths
7. The Law of the Claw
8. Yawm ad-din







After an absolutely astonishing debut album, Entartung return a couple years later with the follow-up. They build on the basics of the debut, but push their compositions deeper on this album. In addition to well thought out music, the entirety of the album seems to have a far deeper layer to it. Just looking through the booklet, each song is accompanied by a background explanation on what influenced the lyrics. It's a really great read and they really put together an excellent design of the booklet as well.

"Peccata Mortalia" like 'Krypteia" is filled with all kinds of wonderful riffing to catch our ears, but there is a level of deepness to it that was sort of missing from "Krypteia". Indeed, "Krypteia" seems a bit more primitive by comparison. The arrangements and production trend more towards the modern side of Black Metal, and even though we've lost some of the raw edge in the production everything still feels organic, so there's no over production going on here. The drums sound like drums, not clicky computers. The arrangements seem more cohesive within each song, but I do wish there were a few more of those riffs that catch your ear instantly like the opening song on "Krypteia". They are certainly still featured throughout "Peccata Mortalia", such as the chorus section of "Blasphemaverit in Spiritum Sanctum", but I think there are a few less than the debut. They've also taken to adding piano into a couple areas, mainly the intro and outro. They do an okay job with it, its short and sweet and serves well enough to introduce and close the album.

In the end this is a very excellent follow-up to their debut. Some bands languish in the glory of their debut and never quite manage to overcome it, but Entartung have done that as far as I'm concerned. While "Peccata Mortalia" isn't leaps and bounds better, it definitely builds on the ideas the project laid down and sticks to those original roots. I'm definitely interested in following this project further, especially after two great albums.

Entartung - Krypteia
World Terror Committee, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Flucht in die Finsternis
2. Der Sieg der Vergänglichkeit
3. Über die Grenzen des Todes
4. Drei Milliarden Herzschläge
5. Boreas, Gott der Nordwinde
6. Wenn die Jagd beginnt (Christenverfolgung)









I didn't discover Entartung until their second album when I was randomly buying albums from a distro. Their covers were eye catching and I tend to enjoy quite a bit of German Black Metal so I took a risk on the project and bought their first two albums. I also feel like this project came out of nowhere... the members don't seem to have been involved in other projects. There's no demo material before this. All of a sudden this band is on World Terror Committee one of the stronger Black Metal labels out there!

Regardless of the lack of history, I'm certainly glad to get my hands on this material. From the beginning of the very first riff of "Krypteia" I was immediately hooked. I knew from that moment I was in for a great album. This band basically nails everything I'm looking for in a Black Metal album. Granted its the German variant and I certainly won't complain about that, because here we have vicious rawness blended with catchy riffing blended with a cold, yet triumphant atmosphere. At times you'll hear some aspects of things like early Der Weg Einer Freiheit, but then they'll have these sections that really hook you in which remind me of bands like Schrat and Shores of Ladon. Its really an intoxicating listen, because they manage to do all that and still have the droning wall of sound sections we all love in Black Metal. If I had to level any type of criticism at this, the vocals are just okay. They fit the music well, certainly, but I've definitely heard better. Since this seems to be a two man project, I guess you just go with whoever's the best at it! Either way, they work well enough.

Entartung are obviously off to a truly stellar start... will they be able to keep it up? I absolutely hope so! I want more of this, we all need more of this out there. Anyway, if you're a fan of the modern German Black Metal sound, then this band is an absolute must hear as far as I'm concerned. This album has so much replay value for me as well and since I got it a few years ago, I still listen to it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dunkelheit


Dunkelheit - Mors Aeterna
Werewolf Promotion, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Eternal Curse Upon Life
2. The Path of the Awakened
3. Ancient Storm of Forgotten Curse
4. The Endless Dream
5. Message from Beyond Stellar Spheres
6. Winds of Icecold Lakes









Wow what a follow-up! As you can tell I've typically been a little less than impressed with Dunkelheit over their past releases, but here we have a new full-length and from the first progression I am immediately sold on how good this is going to be! The only truly disappointing thing about this release is the lack of mentioning Beksinski as the artist. This album even features three of his pieces on it and, I just think they should have named him at the very least. Granted his art is all over Black Metal and its some of the most arresting stuff, but throw the credit down in the liner notes.

Anyway, this is the best Dunkelheit album by far. It actually has studio versions of some of the songs on the earlier demos and some other newer songs. The demo recordings were so poor that the music kind of lost its real appeal, but I'm glad they re-recorded these because I never would have known how incredible "Eternal Curse Upon Life" would be otherwise! As an opener for the album it immediately pulls you in and gets you read to enjoy a very well crafted album. It feels more like Dunkelheit is drawing of the German and Finnish sounds of Black Metal for this release in a lot of ways. Since I love that sound, I've enjoyed this album immensely start to finish! To top it off they really nailed the production this too, similarly to "Frozen in Eternity", but the songs are just much better.

In the end I'm elated to finally hear something this great from the band. If you look back at the demos it seemed like something like this would eventually grace our ears, but it just never came out. It seems like they wanted to go back and re-record their old stuff and release studio albums in order of the writing, which does make some sense. However, it looks like we've finally gotten caught up on their backlog of material and I really can't wait to hear what's next. If this is the progression the band is taking I would expect the next album to be even better!

Wacht & Dunkelheit Split
BergStolz, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

Wacht:
1. Excelling Aesthesia
2. Idealistic Elitism
3. Unveiling Desecration
Dunkelheit:
4. Levitating Amongst the Stars
5. Ride to the Realm
6. Black Sun Rising
7. Dissolving the Mysteries







Side Wacht: ...coming eventually... (Probably not though, I'm not really into Wacht)
Side Dunkelheit:

After a disappointing debut, I was curious to see where this split would land in terms of Dunkelheit's compositions. Would it be more Burzum worship, or would it favor the later demos that were more intense. All the booklet says is that the song were recorded in 2009, so who knows what year they were composed.

I'm happy to report that the songs on this split sit somewhere between the two. The only really slowed down song is "Black Sun Rising", which moves into the instrumental closing track pretty nicely. Nebel seems to have dropped the high pitched wail vocals altogether. Instead we have the deeper styled Black Metal vocals and, frankly, it does make things sound a bit more sinister to me. The first two songs are of their faster variant though, and these worked out pretty well. I think they're still messing around with the faster style, because these songs are nothing very spectacular, but they are closer to the last demo they released. It might take a few releases to finally get this sound to work for them or to at least blend it with the old Burzum style they seem to go back to every now and again. In the end, the Dunkelheit side is good for what it is, but it is nothing overly exceptional, so if you miss out on the split, there's no real harm done. Hopefully the next release will have even bigger improvements!

Dunkelheit - Frozen in Eternity
Werewolf Promotion, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Death is Only a Dream
3. The Blue Light
4. Never See the Light Again
5. Another Existence
6. Outro










Finally the debut album from Dunkelheit has arrived! And I'm sad to report it wasn't that great. Given how the project had been progressing in the demo stages I was expecting a far more excellent listen, but this debut makes more sense when you read into the liner notes. It says the songs were originally composed between 2006 and 2007.  So, if you remember back, I was not a big fan of their first demo and a decent amount of this material sounds like that. The only song that I know is from 2007 is "The Blue Light" and its the best one on this album.

The intro starts off sounding reminiscent of Moonblood, but it swiftly gives way to the first song that turns into mid-paced Burzum worship. The songs are extremely simplified, even for Burzum worship this is pretty simplified. Unfortunately the album lacks a lot of the character that Burzum had, so it makes for a relatively boring listen. I think they're trying to be more "atmospheric" with a bit more of a droning approach to things, but I'm afraid it doesn't sound particularly great. The only really good song on here is "The Blue Light", which is the song from 2007. On the upside the recording production is very good. It's manages to keep the really great elements of the raw style, but the production is good enough for us to all hear what is actually going on much more clearly.

In the end, I am not a fan. I found the majority of this album to be pretty boring. If you wanted to hear what the band would sound like if progressed from the first demo tape, then here is the album to go with that. For me, though, I really hope they switch over to something more akin to the last two demos, because they were really onto something very good with those releases. Maybe in the next studio effort we'll hear a progression of that sound.


Dunkelheit - Endless Dream About the Final Deliverance
Werewolf Promotion, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Endless Dream
2. The Blue Light













This is the third demo tape from Dunkelheit and it basically picks up where "Eternal Curse Upon Life" left off for the most part. This is really just a rehearsal recording, so at times it's a little rough around the edges. Once again they publish the demo on cassette with a pro-printed cover and tape with stickers. This demo is limited to 200 hand-numbered copies and I own #200.

It seems that the "Eternal Curse Upon Life" demo caught the attention of Werewolf Promotion, which is a label the band would continue to work with. I've been a fan of a lot of Werewolf Promotion releases over the years and that label has a pretty good ear for things I like, that's really how I wound up finding out about Dunkelheit. At any rate, this is their first release on that label and here we have two rehearsal tracks, which are naturally quite raw. The riffing is pretty good for the most part, some sections clearly could use work, but if this was recorded after the "Eternal Curse Upon Life", I think the project is really starting to develop even better ideas. Vocally Nebel is kind of doing a hybrid of the more usual Black Metal screams and the high range Burzum style. It works out pretty well, giving a more strained and tortured feel to the vocal performance. I very much prefer this approach over the the just high screaming of the first demo. Even though there are only two songs on this demo you get around 20 minutes of music, so don't expect this to be a quick listen.

I think Dunkelheit is on its way to producing something pretty good and it's about time they should hit a studio and make a proper recording for their music. The songs on here hit somewhere between a Mayhem style and a Darkthrone style, which is interesting since the first demo was all Burzum, so I'll be happy if they continue in the Darkthrone/Mayhem vein, which I personally enjoy a lot more.

Dunkelheit - Eternal Curse of the Carpathians
A.M.F. Productions, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

Eternal Curse Upon Life: (2008)
1. Eternal Curse Upon Life
2. Winds of Icecold Lakes
3. Death is Only a Dream
Spell of the Dark Woods: (2007)
4. Intro
5. Spell of the Dark Woods
6. The Eternity Opens
7. Et hvitt lys over skogen (Burzum cover)







If you missed out on the first two demo tapes from Dunkelheit like I did, then this compilation was released in the same year as the second demo. I really enjoy listening to demos like this, even if the music is never really that great or the production is atrociously bad, because I like hearing how a band starts out. I like to see how a band grows over time as they try to discover their own sound. This pressing comes with a pro-printed booklet with a dubbed tape with stickers. I'm sure its limited in some fashion, but there is nothing saying what the limitation is.

Even though this tape starts with their second demo, which I'm sure is going to be the better of the two, I like to go in order of release date, so we'll begin with "Spell of the Dark Woods". The intro to the demo reminds of something you'd hear on the likes of Mütiilation with its weird feeling patterns. However, it isn't long before we get into the first track. Now you'll notice the closing track on the first demo is a Burzum song, this is going to be a major indicator of what influences Dunkelheit most. This demo is very clearly heavily influenced by Burzum more than anything else, right down to the higher pitched wails for the vocal performance. It's strange to see a track titled "The Eternity Opens", which I'm sure has to be a Mayhem reference, but then it just sounds like Burzum like the song before. They've mastered the Burzum song so well, that the Burzum cover is actually quite good. The production quality is so raw that it's actually a bit worse production wise than the original, but it manages to fit that early 90's vibe with such a raw sound. I'm not the biggest fan of Burzum, so, for me, I'm not very into this demo in the grand scheme of things.

The second demo from Dunkelheit "Eternal Curse Upon Life" is very different from the first. If you were expecting the project to keep up the Burzum theme, you might be disappointed to find they've taken things up a notch and play a far different style of Black Metal. For me though, this is a very pleasant shift. First off, the music is much faster, and the chord structuring is much catchier with far more fire in their overall sound. This is the kind of Black Metal I would get to know from Dunkelheit on future releases, so it's nice to see they started developing this style earlier. The overall musicianship has dramatically improved over that years time as well and I think this is a good sign that the project will eventually get somewhere pretty decent before long.

If you're a fan of the band Dunkelheit and want to see where they started, but couldn't track down their original demos, then this cassette compilation is totally worth getting. Sure, it's not the best Black Metal out there, but it's an good look into the bands past. Unfortunately nothing really has much in the way of replay value here, so for most people it's probably not really worth getting. Unless you really get into the whole demo aspect of Black Metal like I do.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Nocturnal Chalice


Nocturnal Chalice - The Hidden Order
Tour de Garde, 2016
Genre: Black Metal

1. Midnight Ritual
2. Possessed by Burning Hatred














Nocturnal Chalice is a new one man project out of Scotland. Coming out on the ranks of Tour de Garde you can probably expect this to be some fairly raw Black Metal. This is only a two song cassette demo, the cover isn't pro-printed or anything, which gives the tape an even more old school feel to it. Almost like the band themselves went out and xeroxed copies for distribution. I love the aesthetic because it brings me back to the old days.

Nocturnal Chalice give us two songs rooted in the old way of doing things. Musically I really like what I'm hearing. It's raw and rough, but the riffs are really good and they rather old an ancient atmosphere of the early 90's Black Metal. Amidst the chilling riffs that are blasted over there's some really excellent riffs with great melodies and some that really hook the listener in. It's only two songs, but it generates an excellent atmosphere and I'd certainly like to hear more from this project.

Naturally, the major complaint with anything raw usually comes down to a production issue. In some cases the raw production works and it could work quite well for Nocturnal Chalice, the only gripe I really have is that he needs to get some control over his low end. There's too much of a "wooshing" sound in the mix and that mars the listening experience a little bit. If he sits down and cleans up these frequencies he might be onto something really great here!

In the end, I think Nocturnal Chalice are doing some pretty good things. Hopefully I'll be able to hear more from them soon and I'd be interested to see where the project goes from here, since its off to a fairly strong start.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Contempt


Contempt - Resistance
RWS Records, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Bleeding Hands
2. Wendigo
3. Liar's Rope
4. Solitude












This demo was sort of a random find. I remember someone linking me to a youtube song of theirs and from their I tracked down the demo tape. I was interested enough in the project to want the whole demo and I'm really glad I did. Contempt seems to be a fairly anonymous project out of Vermont in the U.S. "Resistance" is their first demo and there really isn't much info on it or its members other than the fact that someone named Galt wrote the lyrics. The record label that published this also seems to only exist for the purpose of putting out this demo tape. The cassette is dubbed but has a pro-printed j-stock styled cover. The tape also seems to be limited, since mine has the #47 written on it, but nowhere does it say what that is out of.

As you would expect from a demo tape of any kind this is raw Black Metal. It's not a perfect release or anything, but the opening track "Bleeding Hands" is extremely well made. It pulls you in immediately and its the track I heard that got me interested in the project. It has this catchiness in the song that draws you in and it has this hard hitting aspect that works extremely well. Meanwhile it just has this excellent cold and chilling atmosphere that draws me in immediately. Unfortunately, the following two tracks kind of wane in this regard. They are not bad, but they are a lot more somber and don't catch the ear as immediately. In the grand scheme of things I thought these were only okay, but that might have a lot to do with the fact that I thought the first was so good and the following tracks didn't really have the same kind of feel. The closing track "Solitude" is extremely melancholic and has some really wonderful atmosphere. This song was also an extremely well done song. It doesn't have that vicious meanness of the opener, but it has this dense atmosphere which is very well composed to put you in this excellent space as a listener.

I think this is an excellent beginning for the project, we'll see if anything more comes from them. The only major improvement they can really make is in their production. It's a little messy and could be cleaned up a little more at the very least. But other than that this starts things off with a really excellent atmosphere.