Friday, August 1, 2014

Funeral Mist


Funeral Mist - Maranatha
Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Sword of Faith
2. White Stone
3. Jesus Saves!
4. A New Light
5. Blessed Curse
6. Living Temples
7. Anathema Maranatha
8. Anti-Flesh Nimbus








Six years! I can't believe it has taken so long to release a new album. Okay, granted Arioch has since joined Marduk and is singing for them now. So that vocal experiment with "what would Marduk sound like with Arioch on vocals" turned out to be rather fortuitous for him. Since Marduk sets such a demanding schedule for its musicians, I am not entirely surprised "Maranatha" has taken so long to complete. Over the years Marduk's sound has also been outright blended with the Funeral Mist approach making it more difficult to tell the difference between the two projects. Not that I'm complaining... I actually like Funeral Mist a lot and more Funeral Mist is not a bad thing to me. However, for whatever reason the winds of Black Metal have changed quite a bit. There are loads of fans out there that have labeled Funeral Mist as rather in vogue to hate. A lot of Norma Evangelium Diaboli bands are suffering from this attitude as we transition into the teens of the new millennium. I'm not sure what has happened, maybe Deathspell Omega's rise to prominence was too swift... but whatever the reasons it is now really cool to hate these bands. Any band that spends time researching lyrics and coming up with well thought out ideas is swiftly lambasted by a particular group of fans in the scene. For whatever reason they explain this as being disingenuous to Black Metal, but I, personally, think this is the direction Black Metal really needed to go in. It needed to get more thought out, it needed some realm of growth in an area. Lyrics and conceptual art seem to be one of those areas. I have no idea why this would get bands like Funeral Mist labelled as fakes, even by the old standards... and it's not like Funeral Mist is new to the party here. They essentially haven't changed much since 1996 when "Havoc" came out on the musical front. Its like people don't care about the history of a band and if they were that fake, the scene should have been complaining about that since "Devilry" was released. Instead I see people praising "Devilry" left and right for how amazing it is... well "Maranatha" isn't hugely different from "Devilry", sure its a more mature record and the compositions are more thought out, but that frantic and violent sound we all fell in love with in 1998 is still here. I am going to continue to listen to Funeral Mist and I'm going to enjoy the music Arioch crafts, maybe its because I am an academic and work in academia. Maybe that makes me a fake too, but I don't particular care about that because I appreciate the thought that went into this album.

I was instantly interested in "Maranatha" when it was released. I was expecting a fairly solid release, but I wasn't expecting their finest creation ever. I think over the years Arioch has been able to experiment a bit more within the ranks of Marduk and by the time "Maranatha" rolled around his ability to forge especially good material was at a very high point. A lot of the things I complained about during the "Salvation" review have been entirely fixed here. The first, and most noticeable, is that the vocals sit very nicely in the mix and nothing is overpowered. This must have been a mixing nightmare given how dynamic Arioch's performances tend to be. He also takes a step back and doesn't come off as if he needs to fill the musical space with screams and lyrics every second. There are points where we can just bask in the atmosphere of the music being generated, which is something that has been kept away from us in Funeral Mist. That being the case, the songs are much more well crafted than ever before. That usual fast and frantic style is ever present on the release, but he's done a better job creating more of the atmospheric droning styles this time around. Its far improved from "Circle of Eyes" and I really appreciate that a lot.

"Maranatha" seems to seek to do at least one thing throughout the album. Create some of the most disgusting and vile atmospheres you can be subjected to. This is painfully apparent from the moment you see the album cover. The art direction throughout the booklet keeps up this disturbing attitude and is easily conveyed in song after song on this album. The focus on creating that atmosphere is really what makes the album stand out so much, it allows us, at times to just bask in the power and intensity of the violent delivery. Its interesting because the "ugliness" generated isn't that tense and disturbing style found in typically in France, but instead is generated from the vocal layering, frantic guitar composition and samples. The lyrical approach goes after a perversion that points out the general hypocrisy in religion. They are clearly well researched lyrics and it is far superior to the run of the mill "Satan is awesome, and Jesus dumb" variant we've all been putting up with for years. I really like the fact that they push this envelope in the lyrics and it gives the album a sort of contemplative intensity that is lacking in a lot of other areas. The only song I didn't like on here was "White Stone" and its a shame it sits as the second track, because it really throws off the atmosphere between the songs. I'm actually not sure if I would want it thrown off here or later in the album... either way when I listen to "Maranatha" I skip this track constantly.

I really think this album is worth the time invested in it. Arioch hardly strikes me as a fake in the realms of Black Metal. Given his past performances and current standing in the scene, I see no reason to believe that. If you don't like the album, you don't like the album, and that's fine. I just don't see the point in railing the musician who has been involved for many years in a band that hasn't changed a ton over that time frame. "Maranatha" is easily Funeral Mist's best release and it is one of the best albums I've heard in all of 2009, which is saying a lot, because often a single bad track is enough to doom my interest in putting it in the top list, but the rest of the material simply can't be denied. This also features one of Arioch's most impressive vocal performances ever laid down and I can't imagine how people wouldn't appreciate this. It's so vicious and violent and nothing like it really exists out there...


Funeral Mist - Salvation
Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Agnus Dei
2. Breathing Wounds
3. Holy Poison
4. Sun of Hope
5. Perdition's Light
6. Across the Qliphoth
7. Realm of Plagues
8. Circle of Eyes
9. Bread to Stone
10. In Manus Tuas





We've waited quite a while for a proper full-length from Funeral Mist. "Devilry" was just a teaser for what was to come in the future. I think it was a smart move for Funeral Mist to focus on putting together a full-length rather than just releasing EP's over the years, because the full awe of "Salvation" makes it well worth our wait. This is actually the first release where I heard of Funeral Mist, but I had already known Arioch from the project Triumphator in the 90's. I was surprised to see Funeral Mist dated back even further and I started looking for the earlier material as best I could.

Its interesting to note that Katharsis as also released a new full length on the same label and both albums vocally begin with seriously heart wrenching screams. I would say one has influenced the other, but they were released in the same year around the same time. There may be some influential play between the bands, since both bands perform a fairly chaotic form of Black Metal. Funeral Mist relies on a similar guitar tone that is razor thin, which gives the album this incredibly vicious edge to the performance. Similarly the production is just as raw and harsh as you would expect from either band. The raw production value really gives Funeral Mist a more intense edge than Triumphator, even though the whole point of Triumphator was to be fast and intense. Funeral Mist really outdoes that completely with "Salvation". The one serious criticism I can truly level at this release is that the vocals are too high in the mix. Granted I enjoy Arioch's vocal performance immensely, but in tracks like "Agnus Dei" it is simply overwhelming. Arioch seems to go after cramming as many vocal lines as possible on songs like "Breathing Wounds", so that neither he nor the listener get much of a break to listen to the music. This technique is successful, only, in making the frantic pacing ever more apparent. While, I'm sure, this is the atmosphere Arioch wished to achieve, I still think a break here and there would be warranted. When he does back off a little the songs really shine. Look at the way "Perdition's Light" closes, simply magnificent or the song "Realm of Plagues". His guitar riffs are not bad, they are simply tried and true, but they are not bad. This is nothing we wouldn't expect to hear from the days of "Devilry" at any rate.

An aspect that Arioch experiments with on this album is with writing epic tracks. Now, I wouldn't have expected the usual intense and frantic riffing to hold up over time and neither does Arioch, apparently. On "Circle of Eyes" he falls on a droning guitar line. And I really do mean it drones on forever, neither the riff nor the drum line changes until about eight minutes in. Between Arioch's vocals and the Gregorian chant samples, the song actually manages to be relatively interesting. The fact that the lyrics for this track are some of the best on the album helps a lot too. I also noticed that his vocals are set more in balance with the rest of the instruments, making the song stand out in that regard too. I remember at the time really loving this song, but since its release I've definitely heard other bands do it better. "In Manu Tuas" is the other song that clocks in at over twelve minutes in length, granted the metal stops around seven minutes in. It also closes out the "Salvation" experience and it really does end on a high note. "In Manu Tuas" is an incredible song and one of the best on the album for sure. After the seven minute mark we are treated to some really twisted sort of classical music. Given the fact that Allegri is referenced on the lyric sheet, its probably by him.

In the end "Salvation" is quite the experience. This is also towards the beginning of when the releases from Norma Evangelium Diaboli would dominate the new millennium. They really struck a chord with people at the right time and many of the bands have just taken off as people really wanted to hear more and more. Funeral Mist was certainly long overdue for a full-length and they certainly have given us an excellent release, one of the finer throughout Black Metal, for me, with a vocal performance that few, if any, could ever truly rival.


Funeral Mist - Devilry
Shadow Records, 1998
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Devil's Emissary
2. Bringer of Terror
3. Nightside Phantom
4. Funeral Mist
5. The God Supreme
6. Hellspell 2










This is Funeral Mist's big break into the scene and they have really composed a collection of some of the more vicious elements you can find in Black Metal. This was original pressed on 12" vinyl and limited to 300 copies. Unfortunately, I am reliant on the Norma Evangelium Diaboli release pressed on CD in 2005.

"Devilry" hit the scene harder than "Havoc" really did. Funeral Mist go after a sort of intense and frantic songwriting style, which is unusual for me, because I don't think I've ever really enjoyed a chaotic writing style much. I tend to enjoy more focused and well thought out songs, but Funeral Mist, for whatever reason, come off sounding frantic and chaotic. Which is part of the reason "Devilry" sounds so intense. The vocals certainly help that tension, since Arioch's voice is all over the place. He layers, he uses effects on his voice, etc. Sometimes the effects sound a little cheesy as in "Bringer of Terror" when he uses that high-pitch shifted aspect. However, the opening riffing style of the song will, for me, be a fairly signature Funeral Mist style of guitar approach. A lot of bands try to sound dark and sinister... but Funeral Mist just sound outright evil with "Devilry". It just comes off as intense and violent, rather than dark and mysterious, which I believe is Funeral Mist major aim. It's interesting to hear on here that they've re-recorded the song "Funeral Mist", which originally appeared on "Darkness" and you can hear how different it sounds with Arioch on vocals. When he roars out "Funeral Mist" its just spectacular and the original just didn't have that same level of delivery.

In the end, this is quite a successful release. It really continues the ideas that were founded on "Havoc" and develops them even further. I simply like the palette that Funeral Mist is trying to experiment with. They're not trying to do anything overly ground breaking, but they are trying to develop something marginally different and interesting to give the Black Metal listeners.


Funeral Mist - Havoc
Pounding Metal, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Realm of Shades
2. Hellspell
3. Nightside Phantom
4. The Old Ones Grin












With the seeming demise of the project all efforts have fallen on Arioch to take over. Based on "Darkness" who would have thought such a musician was sitting behind the bass guitar. The band returns with a fire unlike anything else around. I'm almost in shock that this didn't work its way over to me back in the 90's, since this is exactly the type of Black Metal I was interested in at the time. Arioch finds himself on the forefront of the upcoming Swedish scene and he probably didn't even know it at the time. "Havoc" only sees the need for a replacement drummer, which is the only instrument Arioch doesn't seem to play, so who does he team up with? None other than the now legendary Necromorbus. Together they would begin to found a new level of sinister darkness in the Swedish scene. This was recorded in the early stages of the Necromorbus recording studio and it would soon become the eminent Black Metal recording studio in Sweden, in some cases overshadowing the legendary Abyss studios.

Now you have to keep in mind that this is before bands like Ondskapt were performing, this is before Watain was even around, this is before all those bands performing that more infused darkness in their music. The early Swedish scene fell in the footsteps of either Marduk, Dissection, or Dark Funeral. Funeral Mist seems to throw off all those chains and casts a huge infusion of the Norwegian atmospheres a la "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas", blending in the intensity of Marduk, and casting everything in a whole new cloak of darkness unlike ever before. Arioch draws influence from the sinister vocal performance from Attila and then just ups the ante ten fold. A truly crushing and jaw dropping performance. Who would have thought a bassist sitting in the background of "Darkness" had this in them. Ultimately I'm quite glad the band dissolved in the way it did... I'm sure we would have gotten "Havoc" one way or another, but perhaps the band falling apart prompted Arioch to focus on writing more original material.


Funeral Mist - Darkness
Self-Released, 1995
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dreams of a Time Before Time
2. Funeral Mist
3. In Black Silence
4. In the Shadows I Wait
5. Blasphemy
6. Infernal Atavism







Now, I have no idea who originally started Funeral Mist, but the incarnation that exists in modern times is a pretty far cry from how the project started out. It seems the project started in 1993 and put out a promo before "Darkness", but "Darkness" is the earliest material I can find from the band. I, unfortunately, don't own a copy of this release and am instead reviewing some mp3's I downloaded. At this time the band had a full line-up and features members that would play with prominent bands like Dark Funeral and Thyrfing. It makes me wonder if Arioch was just starting out in the music scene and here he joined a band on bass, since it doesn't look like he got involved with the project until it existed for a year.

Back in 1995 Funeral Mist sounded like a fairly typical Black Metal. They have serious moments of Dissection worship in the bands self-titled song "Funeral Mist", but far more rooted in Black Metal than that of a Death Metal blend like Dissection. They have that melodic edge that was pretty common to the early Swedish scene and they pull it together with a relatively dark atmosphere. It's certainly not a bad demo at all and, honestly, if the band had continued in this fashion I think they could have produced some interesting Black Metal. They were starting out at a time when that pure Swedish sound was garnering a lot of interest by fans around the world, but Funeral Mist was just too underground to be noticed at this time.

After this it sort of appears the band entirely fell apart. At least the aspect of it having a full line-up seems to have disappeared overnight. Typhos, who performed guitar and vocals went on to play guitar in Dark Funeral for a time. Vintras joined Thyrfing for a while, but never recorded anything with them. I have no idea where the drummer went off to, and this left only the bassist. He seemed the only one interested in performing music and all the other musicians seem to have left the Black Metal scene altogether.


Triumphator


Triumphator - Wings of Antichrist
Necropolis Records, 1999
Genre: Black Metal

1. Infernal Divinity
2. Conquered Light
3. Heralds of Pestilence
4. Burn the Heart of the Earth
5. Crushed Revelation
6. Redeemer of Chaos
7. The Triumph of Satan
8. Goathorned Abomination








Following up the two song teaser from 1998 Triumphator release their first full-length in 1999.  I remember one of the main reasons I picked this up, aside boasting a member of Marduk was that it was also released on Necropolis Records, who had a pretty good track record of releasing solid Black Metal bands. Furthermore having this recorded in the Abyss Studios seals the deal that this is an album that must be heard.

This is sort of an odd release, in the sense that I like it, but I do understand why it got plowed under as a Marduk rip-off in a lot of respects. Triumphator definitely hits the marks for writing fast and crushing Black Metal and "Wings of Antichrist" comes of as being quite the unrelenting release in the grand scheme of things. While the guitar work is clearly influenced by the pages of Marduk, it is not entirely a direct rip-off either. The only reason this sounds just like "Panzer Division Marduk" is because of Fredrick Anderssons unrelenting drum performance. Even when the guitar work slows down in sections, he's still blasting away with that same tried and true pattern he's been playing since "Heaven Shall Burn..." I think "Wings of Antichrist" could have had a really different feel if the drum arrangements weren't so painfully Marduk, then I think the differences in the guitar lines would have stood out a lot more. The guitar riffs both try to hook you in and try to have some really chaotic elements behind them. You hear these little solo-ish flares cut through the music real fast then disappear to leave the rhythm section as the focus. This is something Marduk never really does. But the overall punishing attitude of the riff arrangements makes it hard to see beyond the comparison.

In looking through the liner notes it's interesting to see that despite the fact that Arioch plays guitar on this album, he actually only composed two of the songs. I imagine this is because he is very focused on his other project Funeral Mist, which is, frankly, markedly better than Triumphator.  These songs are really the only moments when we are exposed to an utterly dark atmosphere. Instead the vast majority of the album is composed by Tena, who is only credited with playing bass on the album. Arioch also contributed only one song of lyrics to this album, the rest are written by a veritable who's who of the Swedish Black Metal scene. Morgan of Marduk contributed a song, Mörk from Malign contributed a lot, Belfagor from Ofermod put pen to paper for this and Nattfursth of Sorhin contributed a song. That being said, Arioch delivers his, now, signature performance which no other vocalist has ever emulated as far as I know. I mean, not even close... very few vocalists out there have been able to evoke this level of power and terror through uttered and screamed words. The tonal quality behind is voice is just utterly chilling and this is what makes this album work well for me.

In the end, I imagine this album doesn't really stand up to overall Black Metal test of time. It serves as an interesting what-if scenario in the context of "what if Arioch sang for Marduk?", but that's about it. For me, I think this holds up over the years on sheer sentimental value alone. I remember sitting in awe of the vocal performance, which is really what made the album for me. At this time I hadn't heard Funeral Mist yet, so this was all I had from Arioch and that's probably one of the main reasons it stood out so much in my mind.


Triumphator - The Ultimate Sacrifice
Holycaust Records, 1999
Genre: Black Metal

1. Redeemer of Chaos
2. Heralds of Pestilence












When I was in my later High School years, I was actually fairly in tune with what was going on in the Black Metal scene. When I heard members of Marduk were involved with the project Triumphator, I jumped at the chance to pick up everything I could find from them. Triumphator would would also introduce me to a Black Metal musician that would swiftly become one of the most influential musicians in my own career. Triumphator didn't really change the way I think about Black Metal music, but it was Arioch's other projects that really influenced me more. Triumphator was just my introduction to Arioch, which I am still thankful for. It turns out that Triumphator started out in 1996 and I'm sure that original one song demo tape is long lost to history. Perhaps one day I will find a copy, but since 1996 the project has been silent until 1999 when they released this EP. Prior to this it was released as a 7" from 1998.

The only member of Marduk Triumphator features if Frederik Andersson on drums and his involvement I think is what got this project labeled more as a Marduk clone. He has a very specific approach to blasting that just makes everything sound like Marduk, because it keeps us tuned into a specific type of beat in all the songs. Arioch and Tena's guitar work certainly fall in the typical approach of the late 90's. There weren't many bands out there really pushing the envelope and instead they fell back on just relentless tremelo picked power chords, which didn't generate much of an atmosphere. The real part of this Triumphator release that shines through is Arioch's vocals. I have really never heard such an immense and terrifying vocal approach. It truly is something to behold. However, with the seemingly traditional riffing it feels somewhat a wasted effort at times. However, I cannot fault the band for introducing me to new ideas vocally and that is why this deserves some recognition. It is in Funeral Mist that we would really see the music shine though...


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sargeist


Sargeist - Feeding the Crawling Shadows
W.T.C. Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Feeding the Crawling Shadows
2. In Charnel Dreams
3. Unto the Undead Temple
4. Snares of Impurity
5. Return of the Rats
6. The Unspoken Ones
7. The Shunned Angel
8. Inside the Demon's Maze
9. Kingdom Below
10. Funerary Descend





I feel like a new Sargeist appeared out of nowhere this year. Before we knew it, all of a sudden there was a new Sargeist release available. I really had no idea it was coming or that anything was even being worked on. However, the tall order to attempt to outdo "Let the Devil In" still stands. I think Sargeist knew this after they released that album and how critically acclaimed it was. Perhaps they thought they'd reached the pinnacle of that stylistic approach, but "Feeding the Crawling Shadows" feels like a rather different approach to the Sargeist style.

The riffing style and approach hasn't changed very much, but the atmosphere they've built on "Feeding the Crawling Shadows" is almost entirely different. It's not just because they're using harsh production to its full effect either. Here they've taken a step back from "Let the Devil In" and where that album felt immense and triumphant, "Feeding the Crawling" shadows feels extremely bleak and hateful. Rather than approach the riff structure as they had done before, here they will let sequences drone on at times, creating this layer of darkness that wasn't as present before. At points I feel like I hear some Katharsis showing through as on parts of "Unto the Undead Temple". Furthermore, I think they're trying to harness some production elements featured from Tenebrae in Perpetuum's style, but recast those approaches in the Sargeist style. The end result is, basically, an entirely different sounding Sargeist album. Which was a great idea, since perhaps there really was no topping "Let the Devil In", so the best thing to do was approach the style from a different angle. Another major difference that shows up here is Torog's vocal approach. Sure, he still uses the traditional high ranged rasp we've all come to love, but he also goes for a deeper commanding styled voice at times throughout the album. Similar to the chorus section of the song "Let the Devil In". For the most part this vocal approach works out very well, the one complaint I have is that sometimes its pretty loud in the mix and it drowns out the music. This was painfully clear on the opening song "Feeding the Crawling Shadows", so much so that it somewhat marred the enjoyability of listening to that song. As the album moves on, I feel like things get a little better... or I just got used to the production over time.

In the end, I'm not sure I think this is better than "Let the Devil In". It is tough to compare the releases on any level, as they are quite different. I think "Feeding the Crawling Shadows" is breaking new ground for Sargeist and they will, perhaps, have to run the same track and fully develop this edge into something as compelling and awe inspiring as "Let the Devil In". Only the future will tell, for now, I am glad to see this new track being developed. It could be an even stronger method as it develops further and it will be great to see that eventually happen.


Sargeist - The Rebirth of a Cursed Existence
W.T.C. Productions, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Reaping with Curses & Plague
2. The Rebirth of a Cursed Existence
3. Sinister Glow of the Funeral Torches
4. Wraith Messiah
5. Cursed be the Flesh I have Spared
6. Vorax Obscurum
7. Black Unholy Happiness
8. The Covenant Rite
9. Dead Ravens Memory
10. Crimson Wine
11. Dark Embrace
12. The Crown of Burning Stars
13. The Moon Growing Colder
14. Nightmares and Necromancy

This isn't a new album, instead it is a compilation of a lot of songs that never made it onto albums over the years. Basically this is an updated version of the "Funeral Curses" compilation. The really great part here is that it is finally released on CD. Much of this material has never been released on this format before. "Funeral Curses" was a cassette only release after all. This release goes beyond the "Funeral Curses" material and puts all the splits and vinyl released after that compilation on this one. The other boon we get with this release is that it has all been remastered. So, now we don't have much in the way of production differences when it comes to the material released on the Merrimack/Sargeist split and "Lair of Necromancy". This is definitely an essential release if you've missed out on all the prior material not featured on full-lengths. The only split material not on here is the split with "Horned Almighty", but that is probably because it is readily available. The two tracks on here that I hadn't heard before is "Black Unholy Happiness", because that was featured on a compilation I never purchased and "The Covenant Rite", which was featured as a bonus track on the "Disciple of the Heinous Path" LP edition. Both new tracks are quite excellent, of course this is when Sargeist was basically in stride for how to write compelling and good Black Metal, so I am not surprised. "The Covenant Rite" probably could have worked well on "Disciple of the Heinous Path" and I'm not too sure why it was never included. Either way... this release is absolutely worth getting, even if you had all the vinyl and splits from before this.


Sargeist - Lair of Necromancy
Hospital Productions, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Nightmares and Necromancy
2. The Moon Growing Colder














It seems that Sargeist is wasting no time in getting back to their release schedule of before. The year after "Let the Devil In" we have two new songs from Sargeist. Now, I don't know if these tracks were rejects from the "Let the Devil In" recording sessions, and given the way these sound, I wouldn't be surprised if they were. I'm sure this 7" is limited, but nothing is mentioned anywhere on this released.

I can understand why these tracks would not have been recorded on "Let the Devil In", if that is where they are from, they're entirely too fast and hard hitting compared to the rest of the material on that album. They melodies are also sort of different in feel. They are sort of reminiscent of the soaring epic nature found on the Behexen side of the Behexen/Horna split. There's also some rhythm sections on "Nightmares and Necromancy" that are extremely upbeat and that would have really ruined the dark atmosphere being generated on "Let the Devil In. Even though this may not really be the usual style for Sargeist, I did like the songs. I think "Moon Growing Colder" was a bit better than "Nightmares and Necromancy" though. I doubt these tracks are indicative of a future Sargeist style, instead I would suspect they are a sign that Sargeist is being a lot more strict about what appears on a full-length release.


Sargeist / Drowning the Light Split
Moribund Records, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

Sargeist:
1. Crimson Wine
Drowning the Light:
2. As the Blood Flows on...











Side Drowning the Light: ...coming eventually...
Side Sargeist:

I believe this split was supposed to be released prior to "Let the Devil In", but most of the dates I find say it actually came out in 2011. Even so, the date listed on the jacket is 2010 and the catalog number is before the catalog number on "Let the Devil In". Either way, this split comes as a 7" vinyl and is limited to 500 copies, but is not hand-numbered.

This material seems to definitely be considered between "The Dark Embrace" and "Let the Devil In". The material was recorded back in 2008, shortly after "The Dark Embrace's" release. So, in that context this material isn't quite on the same level as "Let the Devil In". Instead it is more like that earlier transitional state that we found "The Dark Embrace" sitting in. They are fleshing out their ideas in a much more solid fashion, but "Crimson Wine" doesn't have the same level of enthralling writing we saw with "Let the Devil In". Still, if you're a die-hard Sargeist follower, then this is certainly worth getting. "Crimson Wine" is hardly a bad song and it is very good for "The Dark Embrace" time frame.


Sargeist - Let the Devil In
Moribund Records, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. Empire of Suffering
2. A Spell to Awaken the Temple
3. From the Black Coffin Lair
4. Burning Voice of Adoration
5. Nocturnal Revelation
6. Discovering the Enshrouded Eye
7. Let the Devil In
8. Sanguine Rituals
9. Twilight Breath of Satan
10. As Darkness Tears the World Apart





It's always exhilarating to see a band you follow eventually create an album that is clearly reaching the pinnacle of their existence. I don't want to mean that everything will be downhill from here, but it certainly sets an extremely high bar in the bands direction. If they can keep this level of quality for future releases, we will be very fortunate listeners, but for some reason the first appearance of real artistic strength always remains special to me, no matter what band I listen to.

From the very first note struck we know we have something special on our hands. Forget prior Sargeist releases that had riffs that didn't ensnare you in the moment, "Let the Devil In" has absolutely no waste. Every note struck is magical and brings you into a world of dark melancholy. It truly is a beautiful release in the grand scheme of things. Listen to how well crafted "From the Black Coffin Lair" is, its, honestly, one of the finest Black Metal songs ever composed. Even the catchy chorus of "Let the Devil In" works very well with their style, and this is something I would not have thought would work with their sound. Torog's vocal work feels a lot more thought out this time around. His vocals mesh with the riffing a lot more seamlessly this time, really setting this album as a full package that was very well cared for in composition. This release is very hard to describe beyond the normal description of what I've said about Sargeist. The core essence of their writing hasn't changed, what has changed is the way they've crafted and arranged things. Every element is perfectly tempered seeking a certain level of quality, that, maybe, they'd never reached for before.

Few albums in 2010 could top this release and this is an album I return to again and again. "Let the Devil In" just has this timeless quality to it, where you know it will be an incredible album for years and years. It will be impressive if Sargeist can build something beyond this exquisite crafting, but it will be tough to top. The collection of songs on here reaches such a high mark, that I don't see it being done for quite a while at last. They have certainly come a long way since the early days of the project. People who complain about modern Black Metal are obviously not listening to this band or album.


Sargeist - The Dark Embrace
Moribund Records, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Dark Embrace
2. The Crown of Burning Stars














This is shocking news. In 2007 Sargeist didn't release any material!! I know, I feel speechless. There wasn't some grand full-length waiting in the winds, unfortunately, instead they've returned with a two track EP. This 7" vinyl is limited to 1,000 copies, but it is not hand-numbered on the jacket.

I think this is some more of the more newly composed material. Sargeist certainly still have that spark that was lit afire during the "Disciples of the Heinous Path" recording, but I feel that the songs on "The Dark Embrace" are actually more well crafted... if that's possible. Prior to this there were always some lulls in Sargeist's material that sort of droned on, or were overshadowed by the really stand-out riffs... on here, though, the material is meshed in a much more cohesive fashion. This is only serving to make me even more excited for another full-length from Sargeist. I feel they're really starting to harness their power even more than before. So, here's hoping that "The Dark Embrace" is a sign of things to come.


Sargeist / Bahimiron Split
Obscure Abhorrence Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

Sargeist:
1. Dead Ravens Memory
Bahimiron
2. The Raping of Flesh











Side Bahimiron: ...coming eventually...
Side Sargeist:

Keeping up with Sargeist's demanding release schedule 2006 brings us this 7" vinyl split with Bahimiron. Its limited to 1,000 copies, though a limitation is not referenced on the actual release. It's a gatefold styled packaging, which is quite nice.

"Dead Ravens Memory" sounds like it could have come right off the "Disciples of the Heinous Path" album. The core riffing has this catchy feel to it that really draws the listener in, but it really maintains that melancholic aspect that makes their style so intoxicating. It doesn't say when this track was composed, so it does make me wonder if this is a more modern song. If it is, it doesn't seem they have lost the direction since 2001's writing at all. There are some riffs on here that aren't as stand-out, but that is because, I think, they are overshadowed by the really spectacular elements. I still look forward to what Sargeist has in store for us next!


Sargeist - Disciple of the Heinous Path
Moribund Records, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Black Treasures of Melancholy
2. Remains of an Unholy Past
3. Cursed Blaze of Rituals
4. Disciple of the Heinous Path
5. Heretic Iron Will
6. Echoes from a Morbid Night









I don't know what happened with Behexen, Horna, and Sargeist, but all the albums released around the 2005 time are some of the best material from the projects to date! "Disciple of the Heinous Path" is really where Sargeist started to hammer home the style they were going after. "Satanic Black Devotion" was just the beginning on that road and with the new album they've really upped the ante and solidified their writing style.

Despite this material sounding so good and fresh, the liner notes say this was written back in 2001. It kind of makes me wonder if they've just written all this material and are sitting on all this amazing work. Listen to that opening guitar line on "Remains of an Unholy Past". It is one of the finest guitar lines around and just sounds amazing. This whole album has a sort of melancholic element, that is just doused in sheer evil which results in an album that has a rather epic quality to it. "Cursed Blaze of Rituals" is a slow plodding song that bears elements of Bathory's "Equimanthorn" at times, however, Sargeist's approach is markedly much darker. "Echoes from a Morbid Night" is an incredible closer to this album and it has some of the finest riffing ever featured. Sargeist has really hit a high point with this release!

Given the time the material was composed, its hard to say "I like this direction Sargeist" is heading in... since it seems they went in this direction years ago. It does make me wonder what their future holds at this point. This is an excellent album and if you've enjoyed "Satanic Black Devotion", you will simply love this release. For me, this is really where their career starts to take-off and now I listen with rapt attention to whatever they release.


Sargeist - Funeral Curses
Adversary Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Rebirth of a Cursed Existence
2. Sinister Glow of the Funeral Torches
3. Reaping with Curses & Plague
4. Cursed Be the Flesh I have Spared
5. Vorax Obscurum
6. Wraith Messiah










This is a really interesting compilation, especially if you are somewhat oblivious to a band's involvement in compilations like I am. The only limitation I've seen associated with this tape is 300 copies, I do not know if that is true or not. No limitation is listed anywhere on the release, but I am sure it is limited to something. This release is well done and features a pro-printed booklet with liner notes/cover on one side and lyrics on the other. The cassette itself is also pro-printed.

I like the way they've split up the tracks on this release. The first side is material recorded in 2002. The opening track is taken from a Woodcut Records compilation and is a totally new track. It definitely serves as a decent transition track between "Tyranny Returns" and the Merrimack split. The second is from another compilation and is clearly a re-recorded of "Sinister Glow of a the Funeral Torches", which was originally featured on the "Tyranny Returns" demo. The recording quality on this is a huge step-up from the original demo material. However, I'm still not sure it was enough for me to fall in love with the writing. Next we have the track from the Merrimack split, which is reviewed below.

The second side features material recorded in 2003. Here we start with a song that was released only on the "Satanic Black Devotion" vinyl edition. I can definitely see why this track was not included on the full-length. It really doesn't fit into the atmosphere or style being developed. Its a much more raw and vicious style of Black Metal and it relies more on catchy rhythms than melody to convey  the hateful attitude. The next track, "Vorax Obscurum" was featured on the legendary "Tormenting Legends" compilation. This actually fits with the bonus track from "Satanic Black Devotion" pretty well. Since Sargeist keep sort of returning to that raw crunching style of Black Metal, it makes me wonder if they will eventually just fall into that for an album. Finally, we have the song that was featured on the split with Temple of Baal, reviewed below.

This is a great tape compilation. I actually had no idea that Sargeist was putting out original or re-recorded material to the compilation community. So, its really great to see all this material I missed out on brought under a single release. I really don't have much of an interest in owning all these original compilations, so this is definitely necessary for my Sargeist discography.


Sargeist / Funeral Elegy Split
Paleur Mortelle Productions, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

Sargeist:
1. An Oath Sworn for the Holocaust
2. Hungering Thirst
3. Hateful Spirit
4. Lunar Curse
Funeral Elegy:
5. Dropped on Inferna
6. Black Desire
7. Baal
8. Dew of Blood
9. A Strife... a Victory (Kristallnacht Cover)





Side Funeral Elegy: ...coming eventually...
Side Sargeist:

Sargeist have, yet, another split released in 2004! I fear they may be heading in the Horna direction after all. This release only exists on cassette. It comes with a xeroxed cover and dubbed tape. Its fairly sought after because it is limited to 200 hand-numbered copies and I own #91.

This split doesn't contain newly recorded material from Sargeist, instead this is old previously unreleased material. It's sort of strange to listen to in that regard. It says the material was recorded in 2000, so this is prior to the second demo  and after their first demo. I wonder if this was meant to be the second demo... but instead they re-recorded material from the first instead. Its sort of interesting because the raw material on here sounds a lot more similar to what Sargeist would produce on the split with Merrimack than what they did with "Tyranny Returns". I actually think it has better production quality too. The Sargeist side finishes off with "Lunar Curse" which is apparently a song written in 1998. I do wonder if this is one of the earliest Sargeist songs written. Naturally this song is a very primitive song and has a far more intense hateful streak to it. It makes me wonder what the first Sargeist demo really sounded like, because I may have enjoyed this more than "Tyranny Returns" in some respects. Granted it is nothing original, but it doesn't sound bad at all. I'm, ultimately, glad this material finally got to see the light of day in some form or another.

Sargeist / Horned Almighty Split
Moribund Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

Sargeist:
1. In Ruin & Despair
2. Questing the Blessing of Evil
3. Profane Bleeding Call
4. At the Altar of the Beast
Horned Almighty:
5. Skullsplitting Manifest
6. Degradation Song
7. In Torture We Trust
8. To the Lords Our Lives






Side Horned Almighty: ...coming eventually...
Side Sargeist:

In the same year as the split with Temple of Baal, Sargeist brought another split into existence. This time with Horned Almighty. It seems this year is taking the route of splits rather than working on a new full-length. This time the split is pressed on CD and vinyl. The production on these tracks feels a lot more raw than the prior releases, which is interesting and actually doesn't really mar the music at all. I wish I could say every track on here was up to the same quality levels of the prior two releases, but there are songs on here that were just okay. The album starts strong with the song "In Ruin & Despair", which starts with an engaging melody for a while before the vocals ever kick in. This was great, because it sort of acted as an intro to their side, without actually making a separate track. It also allowed them to build into that riff, rather than just leaving it as an intro piece like too many bands do. The following track isn't nearly as interesting to me. "Questing the Blessing of Evil" is just a slow plodding track that, unfortunately, fell more on the boring side versus the droning and atmospheric. The third track falls more in the realms of Horna than Sargeist's usual style, so I'm not sure why that wasn't made into a Horna song. It has moments of Sargeist, but feels more Horna overall. This theme sort of keeps up with the final track too. So, in the end, we get a great Sargeist song, a not so interesting song, and two mostly Horna styled tracks.


Temple of Baal / Sargeist Split
Grievantee, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

Temple of Baal:
1. Bitter Days
Sargeist:
2. Wraith Messiah












Side Temple of Baal: ...coming eventually...
Side Sargeist

It seems Sargeist might be afflicted with the same disease Horna is. Writing more material than you know what to do with then releasing more splits than is possible to collect. Okay, Sargeist aren't that bad with these types of releases. Here Sargeist turns to France once again to find a bland to split with and they really have chosen to work with two stellar French projects already. Hopefully this is a sign of splits to come! This split is a vinyl 7" limited to 500 copies, or so some sources say. The limitation actually isn't listed anywhere on the release. There's not much beyond the 7" with this release. Lyrics are printed on the back of the sleeve, but there really aren't any liner notes either.

Sargeist bring us one new track and its clearly in the vein of "Satanic Black Devotion". Naturally, if you enjoyed that album, I can't imagine why you wouldn't enjoy this song. Sargeist show they are capable of writing on the lengthier side with this song being nearly seven minutes in length. Longer track times seems to work pretty well with the Sargeist style and it really allows us to fall into their melancholic yet hateful styles. Definitely a solid track worth having for the Sargeist fanatic.


Sargeist - Satanic Black Devotion
Moribund Records, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Preludium
2. Satanic Black Devotion
3. Obire Pestis
4. Frowning, Existing
5. Glorification
6. Panzergod
7. Black Fucking Murder
8. Sargeist
9. Returning to Misery & Comfort






After hearing the split with Merrimack I was pretty excited to hear what Sargeist had in store for us next. What we get is an incredible new full-length. The prior split was, indeed, indicative of the direction Sargeist would be taking on this future release. However, this is so much more than just being like that original song.

It also seems Sargeist have gone through some serious line-up changes. Shatraug no longer bothers to hide his identity in the line-up, and here we see two new members round out the group. He looks to the already known finnish band Behexen to help with the missing musicians. This is the blend that brings Sargeist to perfection. Here I really think Sargeist blends the work of Horna and Behexen together, and while some of my readers may wonder if that's overly redundant, it really isn't. It brings us a really different and really interesting atmosphere. It really has that oppressive dark atmosphere of Behexen and the hateful melodies so sought after in the Horna style. The Black Metal atmosphere that gets constructed is unlike anything the two bands are striving for. Bringing in Hoath Torog on vocals was a really smart move and he really rounds out Sargeist's sound with his incredible rasps.

"Satanic Black Devotion" is a little odd in some respects, because for the most part it is this wonderful experience between melody and darkness, but with the song "Glorification" things get a little heavier. This keeps up through "Panzergod" and reminds me of the more grinding Gorgoroth style Horna tracks that Shatraug has produced over the years. After this the album returns to the style we've come to expect on this album, hitting really high points with tracks like "Sargeist" and the catchy "Black Fucking Murder".

This is really a stellar album. I truly hope Sargeist see fit to produce this style to its fullest. Its a very different blend of Black Metal despite the clear influences being brought together. Naturally, if you're already a huge fan of Behexen or Horna, then Sargeist is a band you simply must listen to.


Merrimack / Sargeist Split
Moribund Records, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

Merrimack:
1. Guardians of Your Slavery
Sargeist:
2. Reaping with Curses and Plague












Side Merrimack: ...coming eventually...
Side Sargeist:

 It seems the first demo was enough to get the Sargeist project noticed by Moribund Records, who has agreed to released this 7" vinyl split. It's limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies and I own #430. Its kind of incredible the changes that have undergone the Sargeist writing style. It seems an infusion of melody has really crept into their style a lot. Not to mention, I feel like they have also leaned in the direction of having a Horna edge in their sound, so maybe trying to sound entirely different from Horna wasn't working from them. Be that as it may "Reaping with Curses and Plague" is a very different Sargeist track and its wonderfully sinister with those hateful melodies being performed. This is really a stand-out transition for Sargeist and if they're going to head in this direction, Sargeist is going to be one hell of a strong Black Metal band in the future. We'll see what the future brings eventually...


Sargeist - Tyranny Returns
Warmoon Records, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Preludium: Golden Seed of Father-Sun
2. Anti-Human Black Metal Wrath
3. Night of Sacred Wisdom
4. Dark Fortress
5. Scion of Glory & Pride
6. Interludium
7. The Impaler Prince
8. Sinister Glow of the Funeral Torches
9. Sworn by the White Wolves Blood
10. Iron, Blood & Blasphemy
11. Postludium: Silver Womb of Mother-Moon




"Tyranny Returns" is actually Sargeist's second demo and I have completely given up on finding their two dating back to 1999. Instead, the version pictured above is the re-release of the demo by Moribund Records in 2005. The original cassette was released by Shatraug's own label and limited to 222 hand-numbered copies. Shatraug isn't even named on the original demo tape, he goes by the name Lord Belethor Grimstein. On the re-release he is the only band member pictured and I have no idea who the other members were, but there seems to have been some falling out since the re-release states "No thanks to ex-members of those times, rot in heaven..." One of the reasons Sargeist started getting rather popular is because it was touted as a side-project involving members from the more well known Horna. It seems back in Sargeist's early inception perhaps they wanted that connection to be more hidden.

Despite the Horna connection "Tyranny Returns" sounds fairly different from what you would expect to hear from Horna in 2001. Sargeist seems to be more raging and primitive Black Metal. There are times when the Horna style shows up a little bit like in "Scion of Glory and Pride", but I think its fairly minimal overall for this demo. "Tyranny Returns" is probably a further evolution in the growth of the project and I can only imagine what the prior demo sounded like. I think they are still going through a bit of growing pains in the attempt to go beyond the Black Metal that has already been created. Some songs just don't fit with the overall demo at all like "Night of Sacred Wisdom", which sounds like some early 90's Black Metal with the old clean vocal style... I can't think of a project that comes to mind at the moment. Certainly not on the level of Ulver or anything, but more like Isengard maybe. Then later "Sinister Glow of the Funeral Torches" touches on a new take of the Funeral Dirge... which has been done too many times already. "Iron, Blood & Blasphemy" seems to herald back to the early days of Bathory and really stands out as disjoint from the rest of the songs. I feel as the band tried to write very differently from Horna, they have fallen back to the roots of the genre trying a large amount of different methods whether they seem connected or not.

I think if you like the every old style of Black Metal in the early 90's with the raw and harsh production, you may find this a more compelling release. This release didn't really stand out to me too much in the end. I feel like the project still needs to undergo a lot more evolution, but this is certainly worth hearing for the Sargeist collector. Its always worth hearing a bands origins for sure.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sylvus


Sylvus - Upon the Onyx Throne
Self-Released, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Timeless, Lightless
2. Astral Genocide
3. The Beating of Black Wings
4. Ravens Cleaning Bones
5. Invoking Oblivion
6. The Denial of Transcendence
7. Empty Havoc
8. Onyx Throne








Here it is, finally arrived the brand new full-length from this great band. "Upon the Onyx Throne" really steps the bands art up in the right direction. Another thing I've been waiting for them to make is a real booklet for the cassettes! Here we not only have a cover design, but a proper booklet that is two sided and includes liner notes and at least one more picture of art, even if it is an animal skull. It still works great with the layout they put together. Anyway, the booklet is pro-printed and so is the cassette. I'm sure its limited to some small number, but the limitation is not listed on the release.

"Upon the Onyx Throne" is basically Sylvus' highest level of work. Here they blend together the atmosphere from the self-titled with the immense riffing of the EP. The end result is something truly compelling to listen to. They've even included two songs from the EP to be re-recorded here, one of which is my favorite song "The Beating of Black Wings", which does work amidst the newly written material. I feel like this recording of "The Beating of Black Wings" gives it a lot more of an atmospheric edge than the prior version. Even the re-recorded version of "Empty Havoc" sounds immensely more atmospheric than before. The opening song "Timeless, Lightless" is a really immense song and it seems they are drawing some serious influence from the Québec atmospheric scene. Some the guitar arrangements just sit in the wake of Monarque and Forteresse to a truly beautiful result. They even manage to include some really intense grinding riffs in songs like "Astral Genocide", which actually sound quite good blended in with the more atmospheric pieces. There isn't a single bad song on this release and every song is well written making this the best Sylvus recording for sure. If you've liked what Sylvus was producing prior to this, you'll be really stunned with what they put together on this release.

While "Upon the Onyx Throne" really hits an immense high point for the project, there is also a sad piece to be told here. Upon releasing this the band is now on hiatus. I spoke with Darcy about this recently and he mentioned how he was going out West to work on some personal stuff and I wish him well in that work. But it is still very sad to see his project hit this immense high point only to be put on hold. I hope the ranks of Sylvus will return in the future, regardless of how long it takes. I know that Anastasia is working with her project Sortilegia and hopefully that will be going strong in the future too. Still... I wish I had been able to see Sylvus live one more time before the project was put on hold.


Sylvus - Sylvus/The Beating of Black Wings
Self-Released, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. Slaves to the Wyrm
7. The Beating of Black Wings
8. Empty Havoc
9. The Spiritlord (Windir Cover)







Here is a rare treat if you missed out on the prior two releases from Sylvus. This compilation is a cassette only release and is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies, where I own #84. The cover is essentially the same as that found on "The Beating of Black Wings", but this time it is cast onto a white background and is on a white dubbed tape.

Even though it is not listed on the cassette track list, this tape also has the bonus song of Windir's "The Spiritlord". Apparently this was recorded during the "Sylvus" session and was not released prior to this. I'm glad they've included it here, because they did quite a good job on covering a legendary band. So, if you've missed out on the prior Sylvus material, this is certainly worth checking out if you can track down a copy.

Sylvus - The Beating of Black Wings
Self-Released, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Slaves to the Wyrm
2. The Beating of Black Wings
3. Empty Havoc













After a successful debut, Sylvus return in the following year with this three track EP. Released on cassette which comes with just a basic cover, no interior design, and on a black dubbed tape. This is limited to 100 copies, but nothing is listed on the actual cassette stating the limitation.

After a strong debut, I expected Sylvus to write some more solid material, though I am surprised they have returned with new material so quickly. The musical approach is fairly different from the debut and more focus is put on riffing that really stands out and catches the listeners ear. The cold atmosphere is still there, but it's just not as dense as the debut. To be honest though, I think this is more where Sylvus' sound is the most comfortable. Just the right amount of cold infused to give it an icy edge, but focusing on really interesting riffs to catch our ears. The opening riff of the title track just makes me stand at rapt attention. I really just want this riff to go on forever, that is how spectacular it is. Then it falls into a sort of early Satyricon style blended with a more modern form, which is just amazing to listen to. I first heard Sylvus in 2012 when I saw them perform live at Messe des Morts and it was this song that really struck a chord with me and I realized I needed to get this bands material. Ever since then I've been trying to get what I can of their material.

In the end this is an incredible collection of songs from the project. I really think this is bringing Sylvus in a much stronger direction for their sound and I really look forward to what will be released in the future. This EP is what really put Sylvus on the must hear map of Black Metal.


Sylvus - Sylvus
Self-Released, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V












Even though there are Sylvus demos prior to this release, this is really where my Sylvus collection begins. I think this is also where the band wants new listeners to start out. That is certainly understandable if they believe their prior material to be less than presentable or much weaker than their current incarnation.

"Sylvus" also strikes out as the bands debut full-length. I never was able to get a stand alone copy of this, but am reliant on the download from their website. This is unfortunate since owning a piece of music is important to me. Sylvus seem to be part of the incredible growth Canada is experiencing in Black Metal today. This really is a solid debut release, albeit it doesn't stray into really groundbreaking territories. It has a fairly older feel to the music due to its more primitive nature. This probably really fits in with the Sylvus concept of nature similar to the early Norwegian scene. So the riffing is solid and safe for the most part. The Sylvus atmosphere is very cold and the production really helps that feel. Darcy's vocals feel as if they are screamed from afar, but they are still solidly in the mix which really works well for them. "III" changes things up a little more by opening with a much Thrashier styled guitar line. This eventually breaks down into some very cold and dark riffing, which is where Sylvus seems to draw a lot of its presentation. I think the strong adherence to building that atmosphere is where Sylvus really does stand out as a band. Sure, it's a tried and true atmosphere, but they really did a wonderful job with it. Just listen to "IV" they really hit some serious atmospheric highs with the riffs on that song.

In the end this is a rather strong debut. They have all the necessary elements to compose great Black Metal, now we just need them to get to that level. The debut is very good, but that's all it sort of is for me. I didn't truly stand in awe of the creation... but as with many bands, I think Sylvus is on their way to potentially achieving that level of quality in their compositions.


Silexater


Silexater - Mad Sorcer
Self-Released, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Nighthunting
2. Dreamwalk
3. Grimmiste Bâtâlie
4. Mad Sorcer
5. Bloodsigned Night
6. Cold Flame










Some old demos have been lost to history and I think Silexater is a band suffering from such a fate. I'm not sure Silexater were legendary in the overall scene, but they were certainly known to the early German scene. They are also known because they were also one of the earliest projects working with Malicious Records. In more recent times their material has been re-released under No-Colours Records, so interest has resurfaced.

Silexater didn't last very long as a project and only had "Mad Sorcer", basically a full-length, and an EP later. "Mad Sorcer" is basically the epitome of the one man band sound. In revisiting this early stuff, I'm not sure it really stands the test of time like some of the early projects do. The riffing is ultra basic and it comes as no surprise to see the likes of Vlad Tepes referenced in the liner notes. A lot of the tracks on here are very long which forces this tape to clock in at over forty minutes in length. The songs just aren't that compelling to warrant this. I think part of the problem is that there is very little use of vocals on the recordings, so the guitar work ends up feeling quite monotonous after a while. The title track actually manages to have reminiscent moments of Mayhem though. Then towards the end of "Bloodsigned Night" there is a truly spectacular sequence on the guitar. The part that sort of mars the recording at time is the programmed drums... at least these sound programmed to me. Limbonic Art and Mysticum have managed to put out stellar material with programmed drums, but Silexater only sounds okay. When he's using the standard Black Metal drum beats, things sound fine, but a few times when he wants to include a drum fill things begin to feel a little sloppy. As the album progresses I feel the drumming actually manages to get more solid.

"Mad Sorcer" is merely an okay piece of music. Despite its liner notes praising Dead and Euronymous, I feel like the neverending riffing is more like Burzum, only not as atmospheric. His vocals are quite a bit better than Varg's, which is one of the reasons I'm surprised they're used so sparingly. Silexater is an interesting piece of history, but I can understand why his creation has sort of been lost to history even there are some very good moments. If you're looking for something that sounds primitive and old then Silexater might be an unknown piece to check out.