Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Skratte


Official Blog: here

Skratte - Kapitel 2 - Einst im Einen
Self-Released, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ein Funke im Nichts
2. A Wolf in Chains
3. Frosty Stillhet
4. Hasses tiefe Trauer
5. Wächter des Bösen
6. Lucifer's Hymn
7. Im Schatten meines Eigenwahns - Part 2
8. Gebrechen





Now this is the Skratte sound that immediately drew me into this band. Like "Kapitel 1" this is self-released, but as you can see from the track listing this is more a full-length than a demo. With the bonus 8th track you get nearly an hour of music with this one. "Kapitel 2", like the first, is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies and I own #22. Only the first 33 have the first the bonus 8th track, so I consider myself very lucky to have managed to get a copy early enough to hear all the music Hevnbrann made for this release.

To sum up "Kapitel 2" it's awesome! What a jump in quality in such a short amount of time. Everything has been improved. The guitars aren't nearly as fuzzy as the first recording and the mix is overall far more balanced between all the instruments. However, the most important quality jump is in the writing. From the very beginning we get some wonderful riffs all around on par with even the later Panphage releases in some parts. I might like some of what Panphage does just a little more, but wow is Skratte off to a majorly good start. If you want high quality raw Black Metal, then you are missing out if you skip out on checking this release. I first heard Skratte when a friend of mine shared teh track "Hasses tiefe Trauer" and I immediately needed to hunt this release down and get a copy for myself. The vocal performance is, all around, far better. There's a little less experimentation with high screams, but this is to my benefit really. I didn't like those much anyway. However, the overall vocal performance feels much colder and chilling this time around, which really compliments the music in a wonderful way.

"Kapitel 2" manages to conjure up a quality cold atmosphere throughout the experience and I really hope Hevnbrann can manage to keep up this level of quality. At this stage any improvements would be minor and I hope he can continue to curate his music even better to have only strongest riffs appear on future releases. I really can't wait to see what comes next!


Skratte - Kapitel 1 - Hass im Geiste
Self-Released, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Einführung
2. Doch knisternd erlischt das Feuer
3. Misanthropic Hate
4. Leblos
5. Im Schatten meines Eigenwahns - Part 1








I've only just discovered Skratte in 2016, but I was lucky enough to get a copy of the two releases currently available. I will be honest, I first heard material from "Kapitel 2" first, so going back to the first demo from 2013, I wasn't sure what to expect. It's usually rare for me to hear demo material in Black Metal today that really motivates me to get material right away. Usually, after a few releases I tend to find new bands, but not so with Skratte. This debut demo is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies of which I own #12. The first 33 copies are smeared with blood and as you can see from my scanned image, that is exactly what is all over my copy.

Skratte is a one man project out of Germany, despite having a Swedish band name. I feel like the quality of one man projects has been on the rise lately and Skratte is no real exception to that. "Kapitel 1" is also no exception to the rule when it comes to new projects and a musician trying to find their sound. Prior to this Hevnbrann did drums for another band Rabenholz and I must say the drum production on Skratte is far better. It feels a lot more organic and just sounds better overall.

"Kapitel 1" like a lot of first releases consists of quite a varied Black Metal experience. As usual Skratte is trying to fool around with all the influences that exist in today's Black Metal scene, so each track is fairly different with it's own realm of Black Metal. It is certainly well performed, but this material is nothing I haven't heard before. The demo opens with a very nice piano intro before launching into, probably, my favorite song on the demo "Doch knisternd erlischt das Feuer." Even though this song has some problems, it still manages to have some very strong riffs in it. My main issue had to do with the fact that some of the riffing didn't mesh well and the choked sections didn't bridge different passages together as well as they should have. "Misanthropic Hate" was a bit more cohesive in it's arrangement though, but it didn't have some of the really stellar riffs that stood out to me in the first track. The only major thing I didn't like in "Leblos" were the high-pitched screams. Sometimes these sound good for an extra texture, but too often gets in the way for me. It's similar in concept to the one Niege Éternelle song where they do something similar. The final track tries to fade the album out on a mostly clean guitar styled song. It was definitely an interesting choice against the rest of the album and it does seem to work pretty well. Usually these types of songs come off either very good or terrible, but Skratte managed to pull off a pretty good arrangement with this one.

Well, that's "Kapitel 1", and so far Skratte is off to a fairly good start. I'm, honestly, glad I heard the second release first, because if this was all I heard, I may not have been as interested in following the project. This is why I usually find a good release and then try to back track a discography.

Immortal


Immortal - Immortal
Self-Released, 1991
Genre: Death Metal

1. Suffocate the Masses
2. Left on the Stake
3. Enslaved in Rot













Before Black Metal really took off in Norway, most of the bands were performing some form of Death Metal. Darkthrone's earliest material was Death Metal, pre-Emperor Thou Shalt Suffer also did some Death Metal, and Immortal was no exception to this. Now I don't have the original demo or anything, instead quite a few years ago I picked up this bootleg 7". I didn't see any other way for me to hear the Immortal demo, so I immediately picked it up, because this was before the mp3 craze had really taken off.

Unlike Sweden, the Death Metal Norway was producing never really took off. After hearing some of these old demos you can kind of understand why. Darkthrone was the only one really doing anything decent in that regard, but in retrospect of Black Metal you do kind of get the impression these bands aren't playing the right genre for them. It's more like people interested in heavier music trying to find their niche. Most of the Death Metal is poorly produced, but that aside, the riffing is typically very mid-paced with some very bizarre solo ideas from time to time.

It's tough to say if I had heard this back in '91 if I would have found merit in it. But in 2016 delving that far back, the early Death Metal being produced by Norway is more of a historical curiosity for me. Norway would go on to create some pretty good Death Metal bands, but the early inception of the style was never something that interested me as far as I can remember. Thankfully, Black Metal production would ramp up and as soon as these bands found Black Metal, they immediately switched to the genre and the rest is the history of a music genre I've enjoyed almost my entire life at this point.




Saturday, May 14, 2016

Forgotten Spell


Ensom Skogen/Forgotten Spell/Moonblood Split
Misanthrophia Discos, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

Ensom Skogen:
1. Herrschaft des Feuerkults (Part II)
2. Der Triumph, ist mein (Part II)
3. Gestank der Menschheit (Part II)
4. Lodernde Beschwörung (Part II)
Forgotten Spell:
5. Metamorphosis in a Spiritual Spectral Sphere
6. Aesthetics of the Necromantic Manifestation
7. Proclaiming Satan
Moonblood:
8. Slave of Eternity (Nachzehrer)
9. The Unholy


Side Ensom Skogen: here
Side Moonblood: here
Side Forgotten Spell: 

Forgotten Spell is the last band I'll be experiencing on this split, naturally I listened to Moonblood first. Unlike the other projects, Forgotten Spell seems to have put some brand new material on this release and in looking into their back catalog they have a lot of releases under their belt. Forgotten Spell is a one man project by Angra Malakh.

I was a little surprised when this material came on, it was a lot faster than I was expecting and far more bombastic. The material sounds like, frankly, a chaotic mess. While I know some people can find that concept appealing, as are the legions of Beherit fans warrant, but it's never been my thing. The band Forgotten Spell reminds me of in my own collection is De Magia Veterum, since that guy plays this kind of music as well and both projects started about the same time. The way things are recorded here makes the music feel rather choppy, probably from things being off time by mere milliseconds. I think the music in the second track "Aesthetics of the Necromantic Manifestation" was a little better. The drums felt a little more solid as well, but after a while things got messy and choppy again, which doesn't help me feel out the music. While some may find this a feature, it really mars my listening experience and at nearly 17 minutes its a bit long to stomach the whole thing. It's a real shame, to me, because there are some very good riffs in some of these songs and if he could just harness his sound and get some more control over it, I think it would wind up being some very good Black Metal in the grand scheme of things. His vocals are nothing special, at times he reminds me of Meyhna'ch, but not as interesting.

I'm certainly not going to be tracking down prior recordings from this project (of which there are many), but if you like your Black Metal chaotic and insane sounding, then this might be a project to check out. Given this isn't the only time I've heard this type of musical performance leads me to believe there is certainly a market out there for it, I'm just not in that target demographic. Perhaps I am a bit more of a traditional musician and that's exactly what these bands are working against, which would make sense to me.

Ensom Skogen


Ensom Skogen/Forgotten Spell/Moonblood Split
Misanthrophia Discos, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

Ensom Skogen:
1. Herrschaft des Feuerkults (Part II)
2. Der Triumph, ist mein (Part II)
3. Gestank der Menschheit (Part II)
4. Lodernde Beschwörung (Part II)
Forgotten Spell:
5. Metamorphosis in a Spiritual Spectral Sphere
6. Aesthetics of the Necromantic Manifestation
7. Proclaiming Satan
Moonblood:
8. Slave of Eternity (Nachzehrer)
9. The Unholy


Side Forgotten Spell: here
Side Moonblood: here
Side Ensom Skogen:

When I saw the CD edition of the last two Moonblood songs featured a couple other bands I was certainly interested in hearing what they might sound like. Given Gaamalzagoth's tastes, I assumed they would be raw and simplistic Black Metal. Ensom Skogen is certainly lives up to that description. This isn't new material from the project, but is actually four songs from their "Feuerkult Rehearsal" from 2009.

My immediate response to these recordings was a Darkthrone reference, but I think some of the simpler structuring hearkens more to the style of early Gorgoroth in some ways. I would imagine an influence from early Bathory is obligatory as well. There is a bit of Moonblood feel in one of the riffs for "Lodernde Beschwörung", but other than that they kind of stuck with their own raw blend.

I guess that's the basics of their sounds. I, personally, wasn't really into the music that much. I'm not sure I'd seek out the rest of their recordings at this point, but who knows. Sometimes a later recording really can strike a chord with me and when I delve into the back catalog I enjoy the originals a lot more. However, if that blend above seems appealing, check out the project, I can't think of much more to say about their style.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ghremdrakk


Ghremdrakk - Je m'Exalte
Grievantee, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. Toxicomanie
2. Tempelgruis
3. Astree Vortex
4. De Ascent
5. Chaos Home
6. Unheimisch
7. Chemikinesis
8. Servitor, Servitor
9. Voidtrek







After "Sterrenpracht" I was pretty excited when "Je m'Exalte" got announced, because I was very curious how this band would grow out of the solid foundation they laid on their debut album. Signing with Grievantee, I had some decent hopes for the release. All of these hopes were dashed against the rocks once first Black Metal song hit.

Now, I fully know, that Shatraug loves raw production and sometimes it can really work well. The obvious Horna inspiration among other bands, I'm sure is what drew Shatrauge to release this band... but the raw production is pushed way too far on this release. "Sterrenpracht" was, honestly, a far more perfect production quality for Ghremdrakk's sound. It's an absolute shame that "Je m'Exalte" is having these problems, because all of this music is actually quite well composed. If they had used similar production values, then this would be over an hour of some extremely wonderful Black Metal. Sadly, everything feels overly distorted, with the cymbal crashes drowning out far too much of the guitars. Meanwhile Gaur's vocals screech over the mix. If this was mixed and balanced more audibly, I would be impressed, because he really gives Torog's performance on "By the Blessing of Satan" a run for its money, which is truly impressive. Sometimes the writing on "Je m'Exalte" is an improvement over "Sterrenpracht," but at other times some out of place riffing can show up as in "Chemikinesis" which has a catchier riff that just doesn't fit.

Even though I got a bit used to the production as I listened through the album, it is still quite a step down from "Sterrenpracht". It really mars how enjoyable this album could have been. Slogging through over an hour of production like this is pretty difficult. A decent portion of their songs are near the nine minute mark in length and perhaps this was a bit too long for some songs. If you're interested in checking out Ghremdrakk I would start with their debut, and if you absolutely love the project check out this album. Perhaps really adoring the style will help overcome the production downgrade.


Ghremdrakk - Sterrenpracht
GoatoWarex, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. De Sfeer van Daath
2. Doodsbidders
3. Geselvaart
4. Doorheen de Nevel der Sterren
5. Nachtelijke Fanfare
6. Wegen Oazer God
7. Naar de Kring
8. Craeyeveld








Ghremdrakk is a Belgian band playing a fairly raw style of Black Metal. I haven't listened to Ghremdrakk in many years and I got this around when it was first released. It had actually gotten to the point where I'd completely forgotten what this had sounded like. Usually that doesn't bode well for bands in my collection. Revisiting "Sterrenpracht", was actually an enjoyable thing for me this evening.

While I would never say "Sterrenprecht" is an amazing listen or a must hear, I did quite enjoy the album. Ghremdrakk aren't doing anything new to Black Metal, but they do a pretty nice job at writing and composing a cohesive album. I'm not sure anything is particularly memorable to me, but I'm looking at "Sterrenpracht" as a whole and the atmosphere they manage to conjure is a really excellent one. While a lot of the songs can fall to the background, since none of the riffs really cut through and command attention, the droning quality to their music makes for an excellent and rather calming affect amidst all the harshness in their raw style. I would say this band is sitting somewhere between the realms of Moonblood and Horna, but without any of the aforementioned bands' catchy riffing style. Ghremdrakk keeps their sound very basic and minimal, and strangely it really works for them. In that spectrum I managed to find quite a bit of enjoyment. The music isn't particularly fast either, instead favoring a more mid-paced style and feel to lull the listener into their world.

So, if you really like that raw and cold sounding Black Metal, I do recommend checking out Ghremdrakk. I found their album to be quite enjoyable. While I may not find the music to capture my memory deeply, I seem to enjoy what they're doing whenever it's on, so they must be doing something right! Sometimes they're throw in these extra textures like acoustic or clean guitar sections and they really stand out wonderfully.