Saturday, December 8, 2018


Mascharat - Mascharat
Seance Records, 2017
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Bauta
3. Médecin de peste
4. Mora
5. Vestibolo
6. Simulacri
7. Iniziazione
8. Rito
9. Outro

Mascharat is a new and very excellent Black Metal project coming out of Milan, Italy. It's not surprising to look at their discography and see only one demo before being snatched up by Seance Records. Seance Records has become a mark of quality for me with a good amount of very strong releases and I'm always interested to see what that label releases and Mascharat's debut is absolutely no exception in the quality department.

Mascharat blends together a lot of various forms of Black Metal I like culminating in quite an impressive debut album. Mascharat have this great raw Black Metal sound, but it's mixed well enough that we can hear everything quite well while still having that raw sharpness to the overall sound. Mascharat is a bit of a melting pot of Black Metal from all over Europe, but I think the primary sounds are Italian and French. Italian is obvious, they have that sort of Tenebrae in Perpetuum raw quality with some classic Italian projects like Necromass in the mix. A lot of their riffing and chord choices remind me a lot of the French bands, such as Mütiilation. Even the guitar tone reminds me of Mütiilation at times. Vocally they remind me a lot of Dim from Tymah, which is wonderful as Dim is one of the best vocalists out there, so to even compete on her level is rather impressive. This all makes for an exquisite blend in itself, but you throw in the sections that have this medieval quality to them or renaissance feel, then you have something truly well made. Mascharat don't try to wow us with speed or take on an overly brooding nature, instead they keep a comfortable mid-pace and keep our attention with songwriting.

The booklet is quite simple but well designed. I appreciate the fact that they provided the Italian lyrics the songs are sung in as well as translations in English. The way they handled layout for this is reminiscent of a modern translation of an old book, which features both texts. The one and only complaint I can truly level at this is that when the discs were pressed a few seconds of silence was inserted between songs, but the way these songs are composed there should be no silence between the songs at all. The silence is kind of a jarring experience when it shows up between songs, so it's a shame this happened. Hopefully if they do something similar in the future they'll force a repressing of the disc.

In the end I hope more people will check out Mascharat. They sort of fall into that occult Black Metal area, but I think they manage to do it in a such a way that they don't sound too generic. This is an excellent start to a new project and I'm definitely curious where they will take us next, because they are certainly working with a very strong foundation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Khold - Til endes
Peaceville Records, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Myr
2. Skogens øye
3. Ravnestrupe
4. Dommens armé (Sepultura cover)
5. Til endes
6. Det dunkle dyp
7. Avund
8. Bengitt

It's actually been so long since we've heard from Khold that I, honestly, thought the project was done. But then a couple years ago a new Tulus surfaced and then a couple years later a new Khold was announced. Being a fan of the project I naturally picked up my copy as soon as it was released. When I first put this on, I don't think I gave it the appreciation it really deserved. "Til endes" is very much a Khold album through and through, but their are some subtle differences that make this album really stand out for me.

"Til endes" is the album I wanted "Hundre år gammal" to be. Those freezing Black Metal riffs are back in force on this album! They certainly haven't lost their groove at all and this album is more akin to their early releases. One of the major differences between this album and the earlier is how much harder it seems to hit. The songwriting hasn't changed for the most part, so I think a lot of that hard hitting feel has more to do with the production this time around. That being said, "Til endes" is, basically, the perfect production quality for a Khold album. The drum mix alone is astonishing. Everything things is so punchy and clear that it just makes those groovier riffs hit so much harder. I feel like this studio did a much better job of dealing with the bass guitar mix, which also stands out and just hits a lot harder. They've always had some interesting bass sections show up, but the bass tone feels so much heavier and clear this time around. So, if you've been following the project for a while, you're in for a real treat this time around, because the overall listening experience is simply excellent. For the first time they've also done a cover song and if you recognized "Dommens armé" as "Troops of Doom" by Sepultura you are correct. Khold have recast the song in their style a little bit, while still staying fairly true to the original, but it is no doubt a Black Metal version of that song.

"Til endes" is by far the heaviest Khold album out there and I enjoyed every song on here. They kept an excellent balance of fast Black Metal riffs blended with groove just like the good old days. The song "Det dunkle dyp" is by far one of the stand out tracks for me. It has a catchiness that is unrivaled on the album. It's a shame I didn't give this album the time it really deserved when it came out, but a few years later I really took the time to listen to this and it really stands out in their discography as far as I'm concerned.

Khold - Hundre år gammal
Tabu Recordings, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Der kulden rår
2. Kor
3. Hundre år gammal
4. Troløs
5. Forrykt
6. Rekvim
7. Villfaren
8. Sann ditt svik
9. Mester og trell
10. Straff
11. Bønn

It's actually been quite a while since we've heard from Khold, some of that probably has to do with the fact that the members have also resurrected Tulus from the ashes and put out an album last year. However, this year we have a new Khold and after my lackluster experience with "Krek" I was hoping for something a little better.

"Hundre år gammal" is actually pretty similar in approach to "Krek", but the compositions work way more this time around. They finally figured out how to write more slow and plodding songs with groove and atmosphere. A lot of the songs on "Krek" felt disjointed or just fell flat, but "Hundre år gammal" has that atmosphere and power that I've come to expect from Khold. Personally, I prefer their faster material over this, but I can't deny the fact that they've figured out how to write material that sounds more cohesive this time around. I think they wanted to create a far heavier album and you can really create that kind of crushing feel with slower songs and the problems on "Krek" were probably related to the fact that they were an over productive band and writing material too much. With the space and a Tulus album in between I think it gave them the time to refocus Khold and put out the album they really were intending with the way "Krek" sounded.

In the end "Hundre år gammal" is a good album, but it's not a great album and is probably going to be somewhat low on the Khold rotation. I preferred more of a blend between their faster riffing and the slow grooves, but this album is heavily dominated by the slow groove and only a few moments here and there speed up. I'm just rarely in the mood for that type of music, thus I don't even listen to Doom Metal, but if what I've described sounds intriguing to you then this is an album worth checking out because it is well written and very well performed.

Khold - Krek
Tuba Records, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Innestengt i eikekiste
2. Oskorei
3. Byrde
4. Lysets Flukt
5. Grepet om kniven
6. Midvinterblot
7. Varde
8. Silur wie
9. Krek
10. Blod og blek

I remember when "Krek" originally came out and I really felt like the prior album had just come out and I had barely even begun to delve into it. This is how I usually wind up feeling when listening to highly productive bands, it's hard to keep up with them and everything else that gets released. So, that being said, I think "Krek" is the Khold album that I've barely ever listened to, so re-listening to it again is an interesting journey.

If you've been following Khold so far, then "Krek" doesn't really change things up that much. "Krek" is a little different compared to the prior albums in the sense that most of the album is much more focused on groove. The first two songs, for example, have almost none of your standard Black Metal passages, just really intense grooving riffs cast in a Black Metal atmosphere. I'm not sure how "Krek" will measure up in the grand scheme of things, while I do enjoy their groovier ideas, I do also like how they switch into blasting moments to create this really interesting listening experience. In some ways it makes sense that they would want to switch things up a little bit at this point, but they've  dropped a lot of the traditional Black Metal that made their blend a more exciting listen. Instead this feels like a far more mid-paced release and has a sort of droning groove effect. What I mean, is that they sort of set this groove and just stick with it for the majority of the album, so the groove starts to fade into the background more. They do switch things up a little bit with songs like "Lysets Flukt" which features this really awesome opening riff with blasting under it, but the rest of the riffs groove and the middle outright slows down to Doom Metal levels.

"Krek" is also probably the shortest of the Khold albums so far with it only being about a half hour in length. So, even though the album doesn't seem to command as much attention as prior albums, the riffs switch up often enough so things don't drag on for too long. I feel like they were really focused on groove and heavy riffs this time around. Some of the riffs are outright excellent in their catchiness, but sometimes I'm not sure the surrounding riffs pull the song together. Consider "Midvinterblot", which is sort of a Doomy and heavy song, but there's this killer groove section in there that I just wish was in a different song. I don't feel like their groove complements the heavy crushing riffs. However, I will say the title track and "Blod og blek" are awesome songs. They definitely stand out as being excellent songs all the way through.

In the end, even though this album is far shorter, I'm not sure this one held up to the test of time or the rest of their discography so far. I understand doing something a little different from before, but the slow heavy riffing just made the songs feel more boring to me. The attempt to switch the energy around in their writing didn't work for me and I think some of these superb riffs may have been sacrificed when they could have appeared in better songs. Maybe at this point the band had been over-writing and the solid ideas aren't hitting as hard. For a Khold album I would say this is only okay, but I'll probably be choosing other albums over this in the future.

Khold - Mørke Gravers Kammer
Candlelight Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Åtselgraver
2. Død
3. Niflheimr
4. Hevenerske
5. Med Nebb og Klør
6. Mørke Gravers Kammer
7. Opera Seria
8. Sjeleskjender
9. Vardøger
10. Kamp

I was surprised to see that Khold was no longer working with Moonfog for their releases and is instead being picked up by Candlelight for their albums. However, it was shortly after this that Moonfog would stop putting out new releases altogether, so maybe the bands on the roster started looking a lot earlier. Well either way, when I saw new Khold released I was looking forward to another heavily groove laden Black Metal album.

If you've been following Khold so far then "Mørke Gravers Kammer" is just another step along that journey. At this point some people may find Khold's approach to repetitive, but to me these people also go listen to bands like Marduk and Dark Funeral who have been releasing the same album style over and over for quite some time. I'll be honest, Khold isn't something I have in constant rotation, but sometimes I really enjoy listening to it for what it is. It's always been a really different take on Black Metal, so even though this new album is similar to the prior albums, I still quite enjoy it. They write new enough riffs to not feel overwhelmingly the same as prior releases. They are stuck in a rut a bit when it comes to some of their open chord riffs where they then single pick the strings, similar to a "Freezing Moon" idea. However, I think all Black Metal bands are basically re-hashing that at this point, so no big deal. Khold excels at putting their listener in a very specific space with their music and it's so well done that other bands who often try to pull this often fail. Khold is one of those bands that are unlikely to ever be reproduced, so I'll revel in the continued style album after album.

In the end Khold continue to put out a high quality product with great atmosphere. The production just gets better each album, which further enhances the experience. Gard's vocals still stand as perfection within the framework of this band. If you've been a fan already, you know what to expect.

Khold - Phantom
Moonfog Productions, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dødens grøde
2. Skjebnevette
3. Hekseformular i vev
4. Phantom
5. Fra grav til mørke
6. Døde fuglers sang
7. Slaktereika
8. Ord i flammer
9. Vandring

Right on the heels of "Masterpiss of Pain" Khold return with their second album "Phantom". Sometimes when you crank albums out this fast things can begin to stagnate. Is this just a "Masterpiss of Pain" part two? Or something entirely different. Was the band just sitting on a ton of unreleased material? The latter might be the case, but I think there's an argument for that not being true. Either way time to delve into "Phantom."

With the first album Khold set a pretty impressive precedent for their sound and "Phantom" certainly continues that concept and journey. So, for the quick assessment, if you enjoyed "Masterpiss of Pain" there's no reason you wouldn't enjoy "Phantom". Now we just have more music from a great project. However, "Phantom" is a little bit of a different animal. The signature groove laden riffing is certainly the main focus of the project and that's everything in "Phantom", but the overall structure and atmosphere feels a little different. With the release of the self titled Thorns album in 2001, I think it had a lot of bands reminiscing about that project and "Phantom" really borrows a lot of influence from the way Ruch approaches guitar and bass. So, this feels like a much groovier version of Thorns, especially the opener "Dødens grøde". Not every song sounds like this, but you'll hear hints of those Thorns inspired chords or progressions throughout this album. It's interesting that amidst this mid-paced groove laden album we'll come across a song like "Fra grav til mørke", which is a much faster song complete with blasting and having a far more traditional Norwegian Black Metal approach and feel. However, it's not long before we are back to the heavy grooves of before.

It's interesting to note that even though Khold changed studios for this album, they still managed to capture that incredible organic, untouched feel to their music. Amidst all the new digital tricks coming into the norm for extreme metal, Khold manages to record some of the most organic, yet fullest and heaviest sounding material around. Their music feels like it has real weight behind it, not because they are writing crushing riffs, but because the production and the way they layer their songs just sounds huge.

"Phantom" is largely another march down the path of amazing things you can do by keeping things simple. Some people might find this as a rather derivative journey in the face of the first album, but the songs do sound quite different, even though the core sound is here. I can see why some people would say Khold sounds boring, but I find their music exciting and it just pulls me in every time I put this great band on. I'll be pretty surprised if we get another release in 2003, but taking some time to write might be a good thing for the project. Either way, even if their next album is similar to these two, I'll still be happy with them and look forward to whatever is coming next.

Khold - Masterpiss of Pain
Moonfog Productions, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Nattpyre
2. Den store allianse
3. Norne
4. Svart helligdom
5. Rovnatt
6. Kaldbleke Hender
7. Bortvandring
8. Mesterverk av smerte
9. Jol
10. Øyne i arv

By the time 2001 rolled around I was already a pretty loyal follower of Moonfog Productions as Satyr had established himself as having quite a discerning ear for great Black Metal. So, before I even knew who was behind Khold I had run out and got my hands on a copy of this CD, I didn't really have any expectations going in and aside from the album title, "Masterpiss of Pain", being kind of stupid I was immediately taken in by this project.

Now, to really get a good idea of what Khold would sound like, you just need to look up where the members are from. Tulus. Tulus released some of the grooviest and most simplistic Black Metal around and "Pure Black Energy" will forever be a timeless recording in my eyes. However, after "Evil 1999" maybe Tulus was being put to rest and so a new project was formed featuring the Vocalist/Guitarist and Drummer from Tulus working with two other musicians. Eikind on bass, who has been in a number of projects, but guitarist Rinn hasn't been involved in much. Blodstrup, now calling himself Gard, teaming up with Rinn on guitar has created something that truly advances the Tulus sound as far as I'm concerned. It's slowed down quite a bit by comparison and they are now playing on guitars that are tuned far lower, but the focus of this project is generate an extremely catchy groove. The songwriting also stays on the very simple side, but I find that while the songs' challenge level is very low in terms of performance, they do manage to create some really excellent layering between all the instruments. The bass guitar stands out quite a bit compared to, well... just about any other Black Metal release out there and, in fact, the bass ends up being quite the driving instrument in this project. Within this extremely groovy approach they still manage to harness that more atmospheric quality of Black Metal and it's vastly different from anything else out there at the time of the albums release.  In similar Tulus fashion these songs are quite short, varying around three minutes each, so the album is actually fairly short. I don't think I need to mention this, but I love Gard's vocals. I've always loved his vocals and they are a massive asset to this project.

So, if you're looking for something that sort of carries the Tulus torch, but in a slightly different direction then I highly recommend checking out Khold. "Masterpiss of Pain" is an instant success performed by veteran musicians and they've really enhanced their songwriting to a point where this album has always stood out to me and no one has ever really been able to perform something in a similar vein as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Blood Stronghold

Blood Stronghold - Blood Spilt in the Earth's Viscera
Witches Sabbath Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Blood Spilt in the Earth's Viscera
2. Dying Flame of a Pale Sun

A few months after their first demo tape Blood Stronghold returned with two more songs on this 7" vinyl. This EP is limited to 300 hand-numbered copies and I own #292.

Cranking out an EP this soon after your demo is kind of strange and made me wonder why they just didn't wait and include this material, but when you listen to this material you realize it wouldn't really fit. It's strange to say, but the music on here sounds thematically quite different, so I can understand why a separate release was warranted. If you enjoyed "The Immortal Past" this EP advances that style quite a bit. The first song is very beautiful and has more of a melancholic atmosphere compared to the demo. The second song is really different. "Dying Flame of a Pale Sun" starts off with what we'd expect from this project, but then they really up the tempo at some point. This is by far the fastest from this project so far. The vocals also trend more to the usual screaming kind that is normal in Black Metal and I enjoyed this shift quite a bit. The song still maintains a heavy and dense atmosphere like all the others. The only major issue is that with the production this raw with so much reverb, the fast sections feel more chaotic than anything else. There's almost too much going on too fast to really make out all the elements. However, the entire song isn't fast, so for most of the song we have that majestic atmosphere we're looking for.

In the end we have two new excellent tracks and I just hope this projects productivity doesn't run away with them. Naturally, I want more songs and I would love to see a full-length from the project at this point soon, so hopefully they can keep up the quality this high.

Blood Stronghold - The Immortal Past
Hammerbolt Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Frozen Memory of the Dark Past
2. In the Mists of the Immortal Past
3. Legacy (Of Wolves, War & Thunder)

Blood Stronghold is a bit of a super group considering it's two members have played in quite a lot of projects. The main composer behind the material is from Australia and has done great projects like Eternum and the drummer Krew, has been in so many bands I can't keep track. One of the more well known is Gontyna Kry. In any event when Blood Stronghold released a debut album later in 2014 it went around the web really fast and I wound up back tracking and getting everything else they had put out and I've been a loyal fan ever since. This release was original put out on cassette by Witches Sabbath Records a few months before the CD edition. Since I usually prefer CD's I picked up this version and it comes in a beautiful digipak. The only complaint I have about the design is the font color is so dark you can't really read any of it.

"The Immortal Past" reminds me a lot of Graveland for some reason. It has a very similar feel and pacing to the music, even the vocals are reminiscent of the Rob Darken style. I've heard some great bands inspired by Gravelend, but a lot of times they mostly clone what Rob does and they don't advance it as much. Blood Stronghold is an entirely different approach to the Graveland foundation, in my opinion. Instead of driving down the path of Paganism and keyboard driven atmosphere, Blood Stronghold just sounds so much darker. They draw more on the creations of Atmospheric Black Metal to build their particular musical space. The result is something that just feels entirely different and really advances that core foundation. Quite a few of the old Black Metal bands had this sort of core approach with their mid-paced compositions, and Blood Stronghold bring back a lot of those ideas, but they also push them forward for the modern era. Which might not be their intention... but that's ultimately what they did. One of the things you'll find most interesting is how this project handles the lead guitars, because the lead material feels really different from what we're used to with these rhythm backdrops. It creates a really dense and beautiful atmosphere. The production is extremely raw, so the production snobs of the modern era need not apply. For example, the lead guitars are blended into the rhythms so seamlessly it's hard to tell they're there, but when a rhythm sections stops you can hear it. They don't cut through, they're more subtle in the mix and creating this really interesting texture.

As far as debuts go, this is an excellent first effort, but I would expect that from such experienced musicians that have already been well established. The one and only complaint I can level at this is I'm not big on this vocal approach. The low raspy, mostly talked, Black Metal vocal is fairly uninteresting to me. Whenever someone takes this approach I always wonder what it would be like with a better vocalist. These types of vocals are good for certain parts, but a whole release of them can get boring for me vocally. Luckily the music is so strong the vocals just kind of fade to the background for me. So, if you're a fan of mid-paced atmospheric Black Metal or interested in seeing a new take on that old Polish Pagan style of Black Metal, this is a must hear.

Friday, June 22, 2018


Obscurité - Contemplation II
Ossuaire Records, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Invocation
3. Lointains chants dans l'horizon
4. Le Cosmos: Dans la fuite des saisons
5. Dans l'astrailité de l'esprit
6. Le Sanctuaire
7. L'impasse lunaire
8. In Regeneratione Solis
9. Erêbe
10. Outro

Obscurité wasted no time in getting back into the studio to release their second full-length and what a massive improvement in just a years time. Obscurité still manage to keep their core epic atmosphere as the main focus in the arrangements, but this time things have been pushed a little more. This CD comes with a full multi-page booklet this time and the lyrics aren't all crammed onto two pages. The cover and back of the jewel case are a little too dark though, it's one of those things where maybe what was on the computer screen didn't translate as well into a printed product. In this case things are a bit too dark. The booklet is beautiful too look at with its images of landscapes and has lyrics for one song per page this time, which works out much better.

After we get beyond the intro the first thing you'll notice is how much faster the opening song is. This came as quite the shock because we had just gone through quite a lengthy album of slow and quite lengthy material. For "Contemplation II" everything is pushed to the more extreme ends of things and now the album is conjuring up images of early Darkenhöld, which is a truly wonderful image to have. "Contemplation II" feels ancient and medieval and it's only enhanced all the more by the rare keyboard and choir work. Even the guitar tone is much improved on this album and I think a higher gain setting was chosen for this. I think the tempo increase gave Fog a bit more room to be creative since metal drumming is clearly his forté. Don't worry if you're afraid everything is all fast, songs like "Dans l'astrailité de l'esprit" hearken back to the first albums tempo. However, this time they serve to switch up the tempo of the songs and I find this a much more enjoyable experience than before.

If you enjoyed the first album, I can't imagine why this one would disappoint you, since this really just further advances on the first release. The material feels much better written this time around too and the guitar riffs are truly melodic and epic in nature, much more so than before. This project has turned into something really wonderful and I look forward to what's in store for us next, especially with this much improvement between releases already.

Obscurité - Contemplation
Ossuaire Records, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Absolu
2. Païen
3. Contemplatio
4. Résistance éternelle
5. Réminiscence
6. Des ailes
7. Elégie
8. L'ivresse nocturne du ciel etoilé (Cycles)
9. L'aurore et la solarité

Obscurité is a fairly new project out of France and since I've always followed Ossuaire Records, naturally I would wind up with this on my desk. I was also pleased to see that Fog offered drum effort, so I knew the drumming would be quite good. He also offered layout and design treatment and the cover is quite arresting. The booklet which is only two  pages has all the lyrics for the entire album, but because it's on two pages it really does feel a bit crammed onto the pages. On Metal-Archives this is listed as Epic Black Metal for the genre, and so I wasn't expecting the usual fast paced barrage of our usual wall of sound.

Obscurité do have quite an "epic" feel to their take on Black Metal. It just feels ancient and slow moving with the way the material is presented. Blast beats are few and far between and instead the tempo is quite slow. It's, basically, down-tempo Black Metal, if you will. Blast beats are few and far between, but Fog does sneak them in there once in a while. Ash's guitar work is quite good and there are some really exceptional riffs on this release. It sort of reminds me of an album built around the more epic styled Bathory songs or a band like Macabre Omen.  I think the one complaint I would level at the guitars is I wish there was more gain on the guitars or something. When they perform the palm muting riffs it feels a little fuzzy kind of like the distortion settings Mütiilation would use, but that's my most major complaint. Vocally Ash is just okay, nothing exceptional in my book. It's sort of like when Demonaz put out his own album and it reminds me of that. They're not bad vocals, but they don't really stand out either.

In the end this is a pretty good first effort. For me, I'm not sure how much it will wind up in my future listening, because I tend to prefer the faster variant of Black Metal. This being the case "Elégie" is probably my favorite song on this album. I usually like the slower tempo Black Metal as a song or two on an album to break up the monotony of blasting/speed which a lot of Black Metal ends up sounding like. However, if you've ever listened to those songs and said "wow, I wish I had a whole album of this" then look no further, Obscurité is an absolutely fine choice. Ash does a great job of executing that style and making the riffs interesting and, as you can guess, quite epic.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Hysteria - Flesh, Humiliation and Irreligious Deviance
Great Dane Records, 2016
Genre: Death Metal

1. In Belief, Into Nothingness...
2. Sadistic Deviance
3. Visceral Torments
4. Heiress of Disease
5. Ô Father...
6. Succubus Offering
7. The Unhealthy Signature: Haunted by Words of Gods Part II
8. Hérésie
9. Demons from the Past
10. Flesh Messiah
11. Blasphemous Writings (Final Part)

I sort of lost track of Hysteria over the years and I had no idea the project was still active, sadly I was a couple years late picking up this album. I don't know what made me check up on them, but I was pleasantly surprised a new album was out. I think they got lost in the shuffle over the years, because the last album did come out quite a long time ago. Sadly this album has probably been overlooked by the scene as well.

"Flesh, Humilation and Irreligious Deviance" really picks up right where "When Believers Preach their Hangamn's Dogma" leaves off. It's almost hard to believe such a large spans of time has gone by between these two albums. Naturally, "Flesh, Humilation and Irreligious Deviance" does advance their sound quite a lot. It's just interesting to think about what catches the public eye, for example Hate has gotten quite popular, but Hysteria is every bit as good as that band. This is really the difference between a large scale touring act, but I still wish it was easier for bands like Hysteria to get their name out there because their music is truly awesome. I can tell already from the first listen that this album will be added to my "go to" list of Death Metal albums to listen to. It's interesting to see how much Hysteria has changed over the years and I feel like they've become even more influenced by the sounds of Polish Death Metal, but their addition of more Swedish styled melodies into the mix really can make their sound feel quite different from the usual Polish masters. One interesting thing I've noticed this time around is their inclusion of varying up the vocals a lot more. Prior to this they stayed mostly in the low guttural style with the occasional higher range scream. But this time they are starting to include some more flat out yelling styles that are really making for a great effect in the atmosphere of the songs. They really stand out quite a bit, because they are markedly different from the way a vocalist like Nergal approaches them.

In the end the new Hysteria is simply an awesome album. If you liked the last album, I can't imagine you would be disappointed with this release. I feel like Hysteria are finally settling down into their own sound and have found their own unique take on the genre after spending a couple albums trying to find their sound. Since this album and the last are a result of that exploration, I would say two mediocre releases were well worth the wait for something this exquisite. They've really managed to give a truly refined feel to their music that exemplifies their rather diverse approach to the writing of this music. An absolutely must listen as far as I'm concerned.

Hysteria - When Believers Preach their Hangman's Dogma
Trendkill Recordings, 2009
Genre: Death Metal

1. Sufferings Make Me Almighty
2. Your Kingdom Will Be Mine
3. Still Haunted by Flesh (Work or Torments Part II)
4. Art of Evil
5. The Unholy Creation
6. Lies for Religion Supremacy
7. Stroke Down by Disease
8. Blinded by Religious Doctrines
9. Les écrites blasphématoires

Hysteria isn't the type of band to crank out albums, but it seems they're content to wait until the time is right and they have material worth showing off, which is something I can totally respect. Once again I picked this album up when it was originally released. We finally have some fairly unique cover art and a really awesome booklet layout to match making this album totally worth buying. The biggest reason this is worth getting is the sheer and immense improvement over the past two efforts.

It's hard to believe this band ever sounded like "Abyssal Plains of Chaos", because "When Believers Preach their Hangman's Dogma" is such a stellar presentation of refined and well thought out modern Death Metal. It's almost a shame how overlooked this band is given how exceptional good the riffing is on this album. Not one bad song, mind you. I'm doing this review in 2018 and I've had this album in a fair amount of rotation when I'm in the mood for some excellently well written Death Metal. The truly best part of this release is that it's more than just a mere exercise in Death Metal performance, the riffs have some wonderful atmosphere behind them, while maintaining that crushing Brutal Death Metal vibe. Look at how "Stroke Down by Disease" starts? Awesome atmosphere right there before it takes off into really intense Death Metal. Hysteria haven't lost their melodic touch either because the main riff on "Still Haunted by Flesh" feels extremely influenced by the Black Metal band Dawn. However, melody has taken a back seat in favor of more brutal riffing for the majority of the album. It sounds like they are becoming more influenced by the heavy hitters out in Poland like Trauma, but they still blend in this interesting mix of Hypocrisy and Morbid Angel for good measure.

"When Believers Preach their Hangman's Dogma" is an absolutely superb album and sadly overlooked by the metal community. I think this is a rare gem in a world of mundane efforts. Maybe I'm getting more out of this material than others? But I really enjoyed everything they put together on here a lot. If you enjoy exceptional riffing that is more than just chugging and crushing tone, but a really excellent blend then this is a must listen. They may not be doing anything drastically new, but their particular blend of influences is unique enough to keep me coming back to this album.

Hysteria - Haunted by the Words of Gods
Adipocere Records, 2006
Genre: Death Metal

1. Haunted by Words of Gods
2. Controlled Existence
3. Martyrs of God
4. My Last Thoughts
5. The Valley of Hinnom
6. From Beyond Reality
7. Unfathomable Mystery
8. Work of Torments

I remember being surprised when this album hit, because I thought this project was done with just the one EP. I remember liking the EP back then enough to see what the new album would sound like. It was hard to sample music back in 2006 as if it wasn't really on myspace there weren't really many options, but I really liked the album title a lot. The cover was kind of weird though and a lot of other bands were doing very similar graphic design like Sinister, Hate, and Behemoth even. The layout and design of the booklet is pretty cool, but I just remember thinking it was already overdone by the time I got my hands on this release. It's like the genre of Death Metal suddenly hired the same graphic designer.

Musically "Haunted by Words of Gods" is way better than their EP. It feels like the band has managed to find more of a direction and got much better at blending together their brutal riffing with the more melodic passages. They do a very good job of hitting that brutal Death Metal sequence and the album pretty much hits you with this after the Exorcist sample laden intro. So, right from the start this album hits you pretty hard. The riffing is solid and reminiscent of a Suffocation meets Morbid Angel sort of blend. There's probably a decent amount of Deicide in here too, but not total worship like we hear with a band like Hate. Hysteria switches between the Brutal Death Metal style and a Melodic Death Metal style. Sure there are moments that are melodic and reminiscent of works like At the Gates, but a lot of the parts have more of Hypocrisy atmosphere to them, which is really wonderful as a lot of bands don't do the newer Hyprocrisy style well.

Production wise this blows the prior album out of the water. Everything is so much more powerful and I feel like I'm listening to real drum set! Albeit it's triggered, but better than a terrible e-kit snare sound. It seems like they put a lot more care into this album and the skill behind the riff writing is far more apparent.

In the end this is an enjoyable album. I liked it quite a bit when I first got it in 2006, but it has fallen out of rotation. Listening again after all these years, I'm not sure it holds up to the test of time for me. It's not a bad album to have on and some of the riffs are really killer riffs, but as a whole I have other releases that I find to be a lot better. Hysteria is taken steps in the right direction though, so with this release I looked forward to their next album a lot more.

Hysteria - Abyssal Plains of Chaos
Infernal Waves Productions, 2002
Genre: Death Metal

1. Taking Sides with the Devil... the Ritual
2. Endless Suffering
3. Spiritual Weakness
4. Vision of Chaos - Disruption of the Elements

I picked up Hysteria's debut release when it first came out and I've been following the project ever since. It's been easily a decade since I've listened to this EP and let's see if this holds up in 2018. Hysteria is a project that no one really talked about and I think I remember buying this as a random purchase on a label because I thought the cover looked cool. Even though this is likely long out of print, it's still pretty readily available on the internet at various locations.

The early 2000's were a weird production time for extreme metal, suddenly we had access to more affordable digital gear. We no longer had to rely on tape in the home studio and we didn't have to pay for fancy more analog driven studios. You could put an album together and it wouldn't sound like the early 90's harsh demos of the days of yore. However, there were some growing pains with the new technology... especially in the drum trigger market. Triggers sounded atrocious around this time, they've definitely gotten better over the years (nothing beats a real drumset in my opinion though). This Hysteria album sounds like it was recorded with an electronic kit on the drums and as a result it has some of the worst snare tone out there. The performance is great and a lot of early band recordings wound up on the cheap this way. Saves mixing time too, ah well... the guitars sound pretty good... the production was just something that stood out as I turned this one.

Anyway, musically this album is kind of all over the place. Maybe that's the real source of the band name in some respects. This four song EP ranges from the realms of more Brutal Death Metal to really nice Melodic Death Metal. It kind of circles around these ideas with split second switches at times, but other times the riffing will transform itself more seamlessly. Perhaps they're drawing some influence from the likes of Akercocke and blending it in with the Melodic Death Metal style we hear out of Sweden. There are even moments when they play Thrashier riffs that wind up having a bit more a Black Metal vibe, but this isn't very often.

In the end this is an okay start for a band. I would like to see them organize their musical ideas better on future releases. I can see why this release has wound up as dead stock in some distros, it's not terrible, but it's only okay. It will clearly get buried by the deluge of more solidified projects releasing higher quality material. Unless you're a really big Hysteria fan this is probably worth skipping.