Saturday, October 21, 2017


Masachist - Scorned
Selfmadegod Records, 2012
Genre: Death Metal

1. Drilling the Nerves
2. The Process of Elimination
3. Straight and Narrow Path
4. Manifesto (100% D.M.K.M.)
5. Higher Authority
6. Opposing Normality
7. Liberation
8. Liberation Part II
9. Inner Void

Wow... this was unexpected. After listening to "Death March Fury" I find "Scorned" to be a surprising progression in the bands sound. While "Death March Fury" really did feel like a continuation of "The Negation"... "Scorned" is something really different and it's quite refreshing.

Maybe I simply don't consume that much Death Metal anymore, so similarities between projects might not be as apparent, but compared to what I've got in my collection "Scorned" stands out as a really different animal. Rather than an intense blast fest, such as "Death March Fury", "Scorned" is far more focused on driving rhythms and they're constructed in such a way to actually feel haunting at times rather than just building on grooves. Just listen to the slow blast sections of "Straight and Narrow Path" and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. Are there punishing Death Metal riffs on this album? Certainly, but they're blended in with this really interesting material that gets the album to think beyond our usual grooves and punishing blasts. But I feel like that is a typical expectation for those involved with projects like Yattering and Decapitated. However, I think this group pushes the Death Metal envelope a little more in trying to add in more subtle elements in their compositions, which makes this album rather stand above a host of others out there.

Personally, "Scorned" is one of my favorite Death Metal albums. It pulls a lot of influences I enjoy and recasts them in a very well thought out fashion. They also took the time to write more normal length songs, so it doesn't feel as much like a blitzkrieg of blasting. This gives the songs room to breathe and allows the songs to have a much deeper and intense atmosphere. It creates for a much more dense feel to the music and it's unlike anything else I really hear in Death Metal today. I hear bands strike upon the elements in riffs here and there, but hardly an entire album of it and certainly not this cohesive!

Masachist - Death March Fury
Witching Hour Productions, 2009
Genre: Death Metal

1. Unveil the Grave
2. Inborn Obedience
3. Womb
4. Open the Wounds
5. Noxious
6. Malicious Cleansing
7. Appearance of the Worm
8. Crush Them!!!
9. Death Shall March
10. Open the Wounds (Promo 2007)
11. Malicious Cleaning (Promo 2007)

Somehow, I didn't hear about this project until the release of their second album. As a fan of early Decapitated and Yattering, I'm kind of dismayed I missed this until now. Here we are though... Masachist, featuring a veritable who's who of the Polish Death Metal scene. Masachist is, essentially a super group, and "Death March Fury" lives up to exactly that.

"Death March Fury" reminds of the next logical progressions of Decapitated's "The Negation", so if you are a fan of that album and are disappointed in the shift in Decapitated's sound, then Masachist is where you want to be looking. It's an advancement in many ways, because it features the stellar guitar arrangements of Thrufel and if anyone remembers Yattering, then you're in for a real treat! Throw in the punishing drum arrangements of Daray and you've got a real special album on your hands. We also have Heinrich covering the bass lines and many will recognize him from the band Vesania. The other guitarist, Aro, I'm mostly familiar with in terms of as an engineer and he's done some great work in that regard and obviously works wonderfully within the realms of Masachist.

If you managed to get a hold of the limited edition digi-pack like me, then you'll have two extra songs available. These are the two promo songs recorded in 2007 before Pig joined on vocals. The vocal work is being handled by Thrufel on these songs and he does a pretty good job. The production doesn't feel as heavy and punishing as the final album versions. While Thrufel does good vocal work, I do prefer Pig's vocals and its always nice to see him return to Death Metal. I was sad to see him leave Decapitated and I kind of stopped following that project when he left.

So, if you like punishing modern Polish Death Metal, Masachist is a must buy. It's both rhythmic and punishing at the same time, which is something I enjoy quite a bit from the Polish scene. For me, a lot of other Death Metal bands merely do one or the other, but not both so seamlessly. I also feel like there's this underlying layer of darkness in their sound that sets them apart from other regions of the world. Even though some riffing has obvious influences, such as you always hear Morbid Angel styled riffing in these projects, but they combine it with other elements in such a way that just feels different to me.

In the end, the only complaint I could really level at this release is that the songs are too short. In some ways I feel like the project is still just figuring itself out and the musicians will need to work together to figure out their own more unique song structure. For now, I'm content with a good album, that features nothing all that new to the Death Metal scene, but with competent musicians behind the project they can make this feel worthwhile.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Riivaus - Lyöden Taudein ja Kirouksin
Wolfspell Records, 2017
Genre: Black Metal

1. Lyöden taudein ja kirouskin
2. Uhrirovio
3. Pakanamalja
4. Alkemisti
5. Vihan temppeli
6. Tuhkasade

While I may have missed out on the Riivaus demo, I may as well just dive right in, because I have good news. The riffs are here. This debut full length is overflowing with some excellent and serious Black Metal riffing. Somehow another riff master has appeared on the Finnish Black Metal scene and it's always weird to see how this manages to keep going. But it does and while bands like Riivaus certainly aren't re-inventing the wheel here, I still wind up thoroughly enjoying the album and I'll probably listen to it often enough.

Riivaus is probably an amalgamation of all the great riffing bands in Finland. You certainly hear Horna as the mainstay style, but you get touches of Sargeist, Nekrokrist SS, Satanic Warmaster, Nattfog and I'm sure a thousand others that exist and can't recall at the moment. All of this makes for a wonderfully solid listen. In the booklet it says the album was recorded between 2014 to 2016, so obviously a lot of care and curation went into this music creation and I'm thankful for that. Sometimes bands just throw together an album and move onto the next riff, instead of writing a few riffs slowly over time to see if they can make something really special. It seems like Riivaus put time into the latter and it paid off with a good album where it doesn't feel like there is any filler riffs. Every song has a core catchiness that pulls the listener in immediately. Now the real challenge for this project is to see if they can pull this off again.

This is a highly recommended debut if you are a fan of the Finnish style of Black Metal. It really does have everything that draws us into that genre and for whatever reason I don't seem to be getting tired of this regardless of how many projects Finland produces.

Monday, August 28, 2017


Hermóðr - Det Förflutna
Wolfspell Records, 2015
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Disc 1:
1. Från skymning till soluppgång
2. Vargen
3. Thrudvang
4. Grav
5. Bestens Vrål

Disc 2:
1. Tillbaka till skuggorna
2. Ginnungagap
3. Intro (Förlorad)
4. Förlorad
5. Aska
6. Intro (Vid avgrundens kant)
7. Iskalla vidar
8. Vid avgrundens kant
9. Det som vandrar på gamla stigar

If you've missed out on all those digital EP's and singles published by the band on your their bandcamp, now we finally get the chance to own a physical copy of these songs on CD. If Hermóðr continues to put out these digital singles, I guess it will be a bit more tolerable if they compile it all onto a CD from time to time. For this first compilation it spans the entirety of two discs, because Hermóðr simply produces that much material. In the usual Wolfspell fashion this album is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #316.

After listening to "Krigstid" it's kind of strange going back to some of these older Hermóðr songs and you really get a clear sense of how much Hermóðr's sound has improved over a short amount of time. "Thrudvang" while a really nice and majestic song, the production feels a little fuzzy to me and not in a way that's adding to the overall feel of the song. Either way, I'm quite glad to finally have a copy of this material on an actual CD now. As you can imagine, the songs featured on the second disc are a lot stronger, simply because they are newer. Strangely, the first three songs are all instrumental, so, as a listener, we spend a good amount of time just relaxing to some really beautiful songs. When we get to the "Förlorad" EP, things start to pick up quite a bit and we're back to some really excellent atmospheric Black Metal. "Aska" is the big surprise here, with it's Burzum styled chord structuring and some clean vocal passages that add a very haunting atmosphere overall. Weirdly, the other EP released in 214 "Vid Avgrundens Kant" isn't as good as "Förlorad". The production is a little fuzzier, so the songs don't feel as majestic in some ways.

One of the real treats with this re-release is the final track "Det som vandrar på gamla stigar", which is an all new song, just for this release. It's extremely good and falls in line with the quality we hear on albums like "Krigstid".

While, I didn't get into every single song on this release, I'm still glad to see these tracks hit the pressing plant, rather than listening to them as singles on bandcamp. If you're a Hermóðr fan, then this is absolutely worth checking out, especially the material on disc 2, that is by far the strongest.

Hermóðr - Krigstid
Wolfspell Records, 2014
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Krigaren
2. Stormen
3. Mitt Hem
4. Krigstid
5. Nattens Mörker

Skipping ahead to "Krigstid" we now behold one of my favorite Hermóðr releases. As before with the Wolfspell release this is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and I own #37. As with "Vinter" and all the other releases some extremely provocative art was chosen and looking through the booklet merely enhances the listening experience. If the art chosen isn't actually Gustav Dore, then it's a serious look-alike, because most of the art is in that vein.

"Krigstid", so far is the most Black Metal in overall feel of the Hermóðr releases so far. It surely tends to the atmospheric side and our slower approach to the genre is still tried and true here. Although, it might be interested to see what would happen if Hermóðr did ever delve into the blast beat territory of the other giants in the genre. Regardless, Hermóðr carve out a fairly unique spot with this approach to the genre and the way the leads create an entrancing soundscape to interplay with the plodding rhythms is just masterful. At times "Krigstid" rivals the passionate compositions on Kältetod's album "Reue", which has some of the finest compositions around. While, for me, "Krigstid" never truly hits "Reue" territory it is quite the success for generating a similar feel and journey. My bias towards high speeds is likely holding me back on this particular opinion, although he does get close with the title track with the tremelo picked lead, which is simply glorious! Part of me wishes it would've built into a blast section, but alas, I was never satisfied here. It's still one of the finest tracks on the album, regardless.

The bonus track "Nattens Mörker" takes on a bit of a different tone from the rest of the album. On this track Rafn plays around with dissonance a lot more. It has a far darker and disturbing feel to his usual majestic music. But we eventually give way to some incredibly composed atmospheric parts in the closing minutes that meander between majesty and dissonance, so it's an interesting experience. I think it fits with the overall journey of "Krigstid" despite its slightly different composition approach.

"Krigstid" is an exceptional album, in my opinion, and, for me, it blows "Vinter" out of the water. It takes a lot of the ideas built in that recording and just enhances them ten fold. Rafn is really nailing something wonderful with this music and I hope he keeps it up. The only thing that's a bit worrying is how often he releases single tracks... why not just collect material until you have albums? This music is designed around going on a long journey, but that's difficult to achieve on a single track, unless you make it thirty minutes long. Either way, I'll keep listening and hope that Rafn isn't playing the odds of randomness to hit on amazing material and rather crafting with care and quality.

Hermóðr - Vinter
Wolfspell Records, 2014
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Frostfödd
2. Den Mörkaste Dagen
3. Då du Lämnade Mig
4. Månen & Skogen
5. Sorg
6. Vinter
7. En Plats där Tiden Dör

Let's fast forward over singles and jump right to the first full-length "Vinter". "Vinter" is, basically, everything I wanted a full length Hermóðr album to be. It features wonderful cover art that truly captures the essence of the music. This album was originally released on cassette, but I have the CD version limited to 500 hand-numbered copies of which I own 130.

"Vinter" is a slow and plodding journey, much like the first demo, but I feel like the writing and song structure have matured a little bit more since then. I feel like there is a more intense and deeper underlying current to these songs than Rafn wrote before. It has an even deeper and colder atmosphere before as well. Despite the general similarity between the tracks, there is enough variation to get lost in the album, while still finding it interesting.

Your average Black Metal fan may not be really enamored with this style, but if you come across a fan that is also a massive fan of Ambient music, then this is a must recommend. The same droning and meditative experience is very similar. I, for one, really enjoy that experience and "Vinter" gives us a chilling, yet strangely beautiful interpretation of style amidst all the harshness within.

Hermóðr - Hermóðr
Self Released, 2013
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Från Skymning till Soluppgång
2. Vargen

After a very successful demo release, Hermóðr has turned to the internet to release a massive amount of music. I'm not going to review all of these releases, because often the digital singles or two songs per release types of material was later compiled into a CD, which is a far more desirable listening experience, in my opinion.

This EP features two new songs the first of which is quite different from the first demo, but still quite good in it's own way. It features a droning clean guitar line with moments of haunting clean vocals. Another guitar lead will appear here and there throughout the song to give it more of a variation, but there are no drums and there is basically no actual Black Metal on this track at all. "Vargen" begins by following in a similar vein, but after about three minutes it kicks into a Black Metal song. It's a lot more subdued and somber than the first demo, but definitely feels like a continuation of that style. So, if you want to some soothing somber melodies then these two songs will surely hit the spot.

Hermóðr - Demo 2012
Fallen Empire, 2012
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. För alltid
2. Slutet på hans sista resa
3. Över de snötäckta bergen

It's unfortunate, I've missed out on the original release of this demo when it came out. I've gotten stuff from Fallen Empire before, but somehow this passed me by, which is a shame because the cover art alone would have surely caught my attention had I been paying any. Looking into the musician behind the project, Rafn, he has created a lot of music over the years. I've tried out some of his other projects and they tend to range more into the Depressive Black Metal/DSBM and that's just not my thing. Hermóðr, on the other hand, this is a project that I can get behind.

The first demo only features three songs, but the songs are pretty long, so it gives you a good amount of time to get immersed in the atmosphere of the project. Hermóðr is on the more raw spectrum of Black Metal, but Rafn has this wonderful minimalistic sort of lo-fi approach to the whole concept. The end results is some really immersive music, more akin to listening to a beautiful Ambient composition in many regards. The whole project's concept is built around nature and the landscapes of Sweden and the music really nails that atmosphere perfectly. It's cold and chilling, but at the same time has this underlying beauty to the whole journey. It's a droning unchanging landscape of frigid ice, but you can't help but marvel at the sheer beauty of everything.

I think Hermóðr bears some similarity to the style Burzum was creating, especially in the newer recordings where Varg takes a much more simplistic approach to his writing, however Hermóðr doesn't ever really play as fast as Burzum does, Hermóðr is almost closer to Doom Metal tempos, but the execution is entirely different of course. The general song design is built around a slow core riff, but then has this wonderful expansive lead guitar parts that really pull us into the music. Usually, I heavily prefer faster music, but for some reason Hermóðr really just captures the imagination and my need for speed never really comes into play here. Luckily, the vocal performance stays on the more typical Black Metal approach and never delves into the shrieks of DSBM, which drive me nuts. There are some softer sung/spoken word sections, which is what makes those parts feel all the more like Burzum to me.

So, if you like the idea of slow atmospheric Black Metal, then this is a band to really check out. I think people will find a lot to enjoy with this project and this first demo would launch a myriad of new releases over the next few years. Who knew this would turn into such a prolific project!

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Zorn - Gegen Alles
Christhunt Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Gegen Alles
2. In der Dunkelheit
3. Verbrannte Erde
4. Manch geisterhafte
5. Kreaturen
6. Madenwerk
7. Deathfuck
8. V.c.H.u.j.B.
9. Zorn & Zerstörung V

It's actually been quite a while since we've heard a full-length from Zorn and I remember when this came out it took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it at all, somehow it's impending release never made it my way until it was already here. I was happy to see them release this on Christhunt, which is a record label I've considered putting out fairly good quality releases for a while now. Naturally, when it finally came to my attention I ordered my copy of this right away.

While "Menschenfiend II" was a great success and it had quite the somber and melancholic atmosphere, "Gegen Alles" seems to shrug almost all of that off with the opening track. "Gegen Alles" is a more hard hitting raw Black Metal album compared to the other Zorn albums. Where on the earlier releases those hard hitting tracks were in the minority, this time I feel like Zorn has put something a bit more unrelenting in our paths. While the more melancholic riffing isn't gone forever in this album, I feel like this has more in common with early Endstille releases (albeit not nearly as insanely fast) than it does with some of the prior Zorn recordings. Unlike Endstille though, they tend to favor far catchier riffing, so maybe there's more in common with the German Pest in that regard? Either way, "Gegen Alles" is an extremely good listen. In some of the earlier Zorn albums I feel like certain songs or riffs could stall out, but "Gegen Alles" keeps my attention throughout the album. The only track that really slows down throughout is "V.c.H.u.j.B." and this wound up feeling more like an old Gorgoroth song than anything else to me.

In the end I quite enjoyed "Gegen Alles" quite a bit and will have this in my regular rotation for listening to Zorn. Needless to say I'm looking forward, even more, to future releases because this project seems to keep getting better and better with each release in my opinion.

Zorn - Zorn
Asatru Klangwerke, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Zorn
2. Shut Up Gothic Slut
3. Mongoloid (Devo Cover)

Just to show us the project hasn't gone silent Zorn put out a new EP with two new songs and a cover track. This is pressed on 7" vinyl and limited to 250 copies. I have the blue vinyl edition of this release. The first song, titled after the band name is more typical of what we expect to hear from Zorn. However, when we get to the B-side, things are a little different. You kind of get that impression with a song title like "Shut Up Gothic Slut" and it's basically what I expected. It's far more Punk styled Black Metal song than anything else. I'm not usually into the Punk styled Black Metal, but Zorn did a pretty good job putting it together giving it more of a Darkthrone feel than anything else in the end. The EP closes off with a cover by Devo called "Mongoloid." Naturally, they performed it in a Black Metal fashion and Zorn being a raw Black Metal band used guitar to cover the synthesizer lead portions. The drums were entirely re-arranged compared to the original to complement the more Black Metal performance and it came out pretty good in the end.

Zorn - Menschenfeind II - A.N.
Christhunt Productions, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Vektoren der Dummheit
2. Entfremdungsprozess
3. ...für eure Ignoranz
4. Hinter dieser Welt
5. Zerstöre den Mensch
6. Spottgeburten
7. Endloses Leer
8. Antichristliches Naturerbe

According to some sources there were some line-up changes and additions to Zorn for this album, but since no member is listed on this release I can't confirm anything. Strangely it's been a while since we've all heard from Zorn. However, in looking at the liner notes of the CD this was actually recorded back in 2007 and finally being released in 2009. In between this time a promo tape was put out in 2008 limited to 100 copies. I've never been able to get my hands on it, but I would love to if I could.

"Menschenfeind II" is quite the step up in the songwriting for Zorn. The recording is a little more polished, so it's not as good as the reckless sound of "Todesschwadron" in that regard, but the music is quite good overall. This is probably one of my favorite albums from Zorn and they've started using more layered guitars which add a bit more depth to the music. I really enjoy the way this album ended up turning out, though the booklet and layout is pretty minimal. Whatever went on with the band in its time from the last album till now, I hope will stay fairly constant. Although, I would like to see them revert back to the harsher production, because I felt that added a far more vicious dimension to their music and I very much preferred it.

In the end, this was quite an excellent album. This has been my go to Zorn album as of late when it comes to listening to the band. This might change when future albums are released, of course, but for now this is the one I enjoy quite a bit for the time being.

Zorn - Todesschwadron
Black Attakk, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Der, der das feuer personifiziert (Hellfire Invasion)
2. Parasitäre Drecksschergen
3. Der Tag an dem die Flamme sprach
4. Gotteskinder im stinkenden Schafspelz
5. Der Wind und sein klagendes Heulen
6. Auf Fleischlosen Schwingen in die Ferne
7. Sturmwind in den Mauern der Verdummungsstädte
8. Stahlgewitter des Zorns III

For me "Todesschwadron" is where Zorn really starts to take off. On this album they've really managed to figure out that balance of the vicious raw tone with well written music that supports the style. "Todesschwadron" is a pretty good foray into the realms of raw Black Metal, I'm not sure I would class this as a top release, but it's certainly an enjoyable listen!

At times "Todesschwadron" is up there with Endstille, but I've always found Endstille to be a little more mesmerizing and more solidly grabs my attention. It seems Zorn is on its way to having this effect, but I think Zorn will fall into having more of a Black Metal groove than Black Metal assault in their overall writing. The opening song of this album is an exception to that though, it's an intense and vicious opener that really did grab my attention. However, as the album progresses Zorn tries to switch things up a little more with filtering in some good mid-paced songs, so as to not re-create the likes of "Panzer Division Marduk", which can get quite boring after a while. Mix in a solid dose of older styled Satyricon and we've got a pretty good blend of things that I enjoy a lot in Black Metal. The guitar and bass are being blended and harmonized a lot more than before and it's creating a really excellent full effect in terms of Zorn's compositions.

Even though there isn't too much in the booklet, except some band photos and a couple paragraphs in German, I still like the overall aesthetic of the design. They even used a rougher paper than the usual CD booklet and I think the concept and layout fit the music very well.

In the end, I may not pull this album out as often as other albums, but when I do revisit it every once in a while I do enjoy listening to it. If your a fiend for raw Black Metal and just want to hear everything that's out there, this album by Zorn is a solid performance and I think most listeners will find it an enjoyable experience. At this point I'm pretty interested to hear what might be in store next for us, because it seems Zorn's compositions are getting stronger and more interesting as they release music.

Zorn & Grålysning Split
Supreme Chaos Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Es zittern die morschen Knochen...
2. ...und die Flamme zerfrisst den Leib

Side Gråflysning: ...coming eventually...
Side Zorn:

After a full-length Zorn brings us another 7" split on vinyl. Like the last one this one is also limited to 666 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #87. It looks like everything was pressed on black vinyl this time around.

I wish I had better things to say about the track Zorn brings us this time. I feel like this is a step back to the days of "Schwarz Metall" in the sense that they're after the Marduk worship again. In fact one of the riff progressions sounds exactly like "Slay the Nazarene". It's really just different enough, but the chore progression for that chorus is here in my opinion. In the end, this is a bit of a sorry follow-up to the "Menschenfeind" album. Unless you must have ever Zorn recording, don't worry about missing out on this one.

Zorn - Menschenfeind
Neon Knights, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Endsieg
3. Faustschlag (In die Christliche Welt)
4. Mordlust
5. Kristallnacht
6. Sohn der manvatarischen Dämmerung
7. Die Gegenoffensive
8. Menschenfeind
9. Triumphmarsch Zorn II (Zerfall der Religionen)

It seems A. Blackwar's participation in Zorn was fairly short lived, because there is no mention of his involvement in the liner notes. For their second full-length Nachtschatten would be handling all guitar duties and already things are improved, as far as I'm concerned.

While "Menschenfeind" keeps that raw style of Black Metal recording that fits with Zorn, I find the songwriting improved. Already Nachtschatten is trying to work beyond the more generic formulas. While it's not always a success and not every guitar line is an amazing journey, the overall arrangements feel more varied and the guitar riffs feel a lot more thoughtful than before. It feels a lot more than just sawing away at the guitar in the hopes that blinding the listener with speed will make up for the boring riffing. Nachtschatten, obviously, doesn't work that way and his writing is off to a strong start.

"Menschenfeind" builds off the first album and cuts away a lot of more the lackluster filler material and focuses on stronger songwriting. While "Menschenfeind" isn't devoid of its filler material, there's certainly a lot less on this album than in prior releases. At least with this I feel like we're hearing more of what Zorn should sound like instead of just a continuation of Isegrim.

Zorn & Battlehorns Split
Supreme Chaos Records, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Genichschuss
2. Pestenberserker

Side Battlehorns: ...coming eventually...
Side Zorn:

I missed out on the demo cassette released prior to this split, but I was able to get a hold of this release on 7" vinyl limited to 666 copies hand-numbered copies, of which I own 610. This is also pressed on red vinyl, I doubt there were other colors in the run, so all of them are probably this color.

Zorn aren't really offering too much of a difference from "Schwarz Metall" on this release, however, I do think "Genichschuss" has a bit more elaboration at times, which make the song a little more interesting to listen to. Part of the problem Isegrim had in songwriting was that a lot of it was just sawing away at a guitar with power chords or the like. Zorn is sort of in that rut, but breaking out at times. I feel like the potential is there, we just have to unlock it. Either way "Genichschuss" is moving in the right direction and hopefully that will happen soon for this project.

Zorn - Schwarz Metall
Last Episode, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Hexenlichter am Nordhimmel
2. Schwarz Metall
3. Der Totale Krieg
4. Wiederkehr
5. Kriegserklärung an die Menscheit
6. Flammen
7. Panzerzorn
8. Genickschuss

I've been a fan of Zorn for a little while now, but I've missed out on some releases here and there and I just give up trying to track them down. So my discography begins with their debut full-length. Last Episode has gotten quite a lot of flack over the years as being a sub par label releasing sub par bands, and in some cases that is probably true, but sometimes you get a couple great random bands out of Germany like Zorn, for example.

One of the other selling points for Zorn was the involvement of A. Blackwar in the project. I thought some of his work with Mystic Circle was okay and there were quite a few Isegrim songs that were pretty well done, but his best projects, for me, have been Zorn and Mord. This album sort of has the Gorgoroth "Destroyer" syndrome in the sense that a bunch of musicians all played various instruments to get the recording done.

While "Schwarz Metall" reminds me quite a bit of Isegrim, I think it's also a lot more raw and vicious at times. There are songs that just seem like a continuation of the Isegrim project, which can feel kind of boring at times. At others it seems like total Marduk worship, which can be good and bad. Some songs are truly great like the title track "Schwarz Metall", which I found very enjoyable. The vocal performance reminds me a lot of what we heard on the Octinimos albums, with that overly distorted voice approach. For me, I usually like this approach for a bit more of a flavor or extra texture in certain sections of a song, not on an entire album. We'll see if Zorn changes things up in the future.

In the end "Schwarz Metall" is okay, it's not great, it's not terrible, but it doesn't really stand out either. If you're a fan of A. Blackwar, then you'll probably enjoy this, especially if you ever wanted more out of the Isegrim project. I think Zorn is a little stronger than the later releases of Isegrim, so that's a bonus for them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Schrat - Artefakt
Knochensack Versand, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Fluktuation
2. Knochenkult
3. Endzeitphilosophie

When I saw it announced that Schrat was releasing some new music, I immediately ordered a copy of this, because if it was anything nearly as good as "Schattenwahn" I certainly needed to hear more. Don't be fooled by the date on this release, the music was actually recorded back in 2011 and only now we are finally getting to see it hit the light of day! Probably why the EP is called "Artefakt".

As with "Schattenwahn" this EP captures the same majesty and excellent we expect from this project now. The opening song "Fluktuation" wastes no time in launching into an amazing riff that immediately catches our attentions, before launching into some very good melancholic atmospheres to blend in with the riff. The other two songs on the album follow in similar suit in terms of quality, with "Knochenkult" kicking the tempo up quite a bit and "Endzeitphilosophie" striking a middle balance between the two.

In the end if you enjoyed "Schattenwahn" you can expect the same level of quality in these songs. I'm really glad Schrat decided to release the material, because I've enjoyed this EP quite a bit. I truly hope there is more music in the works. It seems like it's been quite a while since they've done anything, if the last time they were in the studio was 2011.

Schrat - Schattenwahn
ARTicaz, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Prolog
2. Mal der Schande
3. Schwarze Brut
4. Transzendenz
5. Beschwörung...
6. Kriegsgericht
7. Jenseits der Einsamkeit
8. Eruption
9. Im Zwielicht-Abgrund
10. ...Erbamungslos

I, honestly, forget how I heard about Schrat, but "Schattenwahn" was my first experience with the project. Needless to say it grabbed my attention immediately! After a lackluster debut album, Schrat return with incredibly strong second full-length. I don't think I got this album too long after it's original release date and it's really stood the test of time, even five years later. I find myself still listening to this album on a somewhat regular basis and enjoying it.

There has been a bit of a line-up shift in Schrat and Nastrond has moved from drums to vocals. This was clearly a smart move in my opinion, because his vocals are actually quite excellent and sounds better than the first album. Leaving a gap in the drum seat, they turned to Seraph of Dark Fortress to session drum for them, which was a great idea. He's an extremely solid drummer and clearly performs well in the studio. The combination of these changes has launched Schrat into excellent status in my book.

"Schattenwahn" falls into the more traditional Black Metal variety of albums, but it's so well done I can't help but get into it. The production quality is perfect, everything is balanced and it's not too over produced. Now, while some people may find this album to be too similar to albums that already exist, I look at "Schattenwahn" in the following context. Take some of the best riffing Black Metal has to offer from various projects all over the world and put them on a single album and that's what I think of when I hear "Schattenwahn". Okay, maybe it doesn't have every single top riff, but I'm sure you get the idea. "Schattenwahn" is like a celebration of the best Black Metal has to offer rolled into one release. It ranges from extremely catchy riff sections similar to what Dödheimsgard has done in the past along with chilling sections that are reminiscent of "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas". Throw in some soaring passages similar to Lunar Aurora and you've certainly got my attention. They've definitely stepped up the writing on this album, as you can see.

In the end if you're looking for some extremely solid Black Metal then I can't recommend "Schattenwahn" enough. The changes Schrat has made has really turned into a winning formula for them and I hope they stick with this going forward. I look forward to anything else the put out in the future.

Schrat - Bestimmung Raserei
Self-Released, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro Abrechnung
2. Blutkatharsis
3. Reich des Schrats
4. Geist der Felsen
5. Erstickungstod
6. Steinernes Vermaechtnis
7. Bestimmung
8. Die Bestie

I wish I was about to regale everyone with tales of this great new band I found, but sadly this is not the album for that. Turns out their second album is where that whole aspect comes in. For now we have the debut full-length from Schrat, which the band self published. Now, I've never heard their demo and I can't compare the two, but if I ever track down a copy I'll listen and review it.

For now, let's just delve into the full length. I wish I had more positive things to say, but I don't have much. It's a fairly mediocre release by Black Metal standards. It has everything you expect and has some moments that reminisce of Bathory, but it is all only okay. The real problem is that nothing really grabs my attention. There's no fondness for the atmosphere the songs generate. "Erstrickungstod" has some good moments, so the band is capable of generating some interesting stuff, but for the most part this album falls quite short. The musicians behind the project seem to be quite competent and the production is pretty good, with a balance between audible and harsh. The vocals are a bit distorted in the mix though, but that's the only major issue I can see.

Overall this album is probably worth skipping unless you simply must have all the Schrat albums like I wanted. I can assure you the discography gets much stronger after this, but even though the debut wasn't all that memorable, it's not a bad starting point for a band.