Monday, December 16, 2013


Arkona & Illness Split
Godz ov War Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Klucz do Istnienie
2. Zaraza

Side Illness: ...coming eventually...
Side Arkona:

Now that Arkona has returned as an active band they've started participating in splits again. This one features a single new song on 7" vinyl. It has beautiful packaging and an inner sleeve. The release is limited to 300 hand-numbered copies and I own #294.

The song is definitely on par with "Chaos.Ice.Fire", and, in fact, I think it's a little better than some of the material featured on that album. This, to me, means the band is heading in an even better direction. We still hear the Dark Funeral influence shining through, but as before this feels cast in a far darker backdrop. This track is a bit more brooding at times than the more intense material of the full-length. There really isn't much more to say in light of the "Chaos.Ice.Fire" release, if you enjoyed that album then this is a must hear track!

Arkona - Chaos.Ice.Fire
Hellfire Records, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Symfonia Lodu Ognia i Chaosu
2. Gdy Bogowie Przemówią Głosami Natury
3. Zrodziła Mnie Ziemia Skażona Kłamstwem
4. Istnienie Moje Przeniknie Ziemię
5. Tylko Truchło Pozostanie
6. Gwiazda Boga Chaosu
7. Zasypiając w Strachu
8. Dopóki Krew Nie Zastygnie W Żyłach

It's been quite a long time since we've heard from the mighty Arkona... even longer since we've heard a full length from this project. Perhaps Khorzon needed some time away from writing for this project. In the meantime he's resurrected Mussorgski and joined up with Pandemonium. Unfortunately the original line-up for this project is no more, instead Khorzon has reformed with an entirely new line-up and now this borders on the lines of super group. On guitars we find Triumphator from Infernal War and Armagog on vocals/bass from Taran. Needless to say Arkona returns with some serious strength.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the new Arkona, but given the line-up I had hopes that, at the bare minimum, it would be a solid Black Metal album. Well Arkona certainly delivered in that regard, and this might be the most straight-forward Black Metal release Arkona has put together. Usually, some atmospheric flair will show up with keyboards and that does happen a couple times, but it is very minimal. Keyboards appear most in "Zasypiając w Strachu," which actually manages to touch upon an Atmospheric Black Metal feel. "Chaos.Ice.Fire" is all about creating a vicious and intense performance. On thing I appreciate is that this isn't just a pummeling blast fest for forty minutes, instead the compositions are quite well thought out and blast beats are used where necessary. I get the feeling of Khorzon blending a lot of Swedish Black Metal with the required Polish influence. At times I feel like I hear some old Dark Funeral shine through, but applied in a very different fashion. Every riff is well written and at times they are intoxicating and haunting like the last minute of "Tylko Truchło Pozostanie". The only complaint I have is that the bass doesn't cut through like in the earlier albums, but the guitar work really does manage to make up for this. Not to mention when some the more whispering styled vocals show up, as in the beginning of "Gwiazda Boga Chaosu", it really creates an intense experience.

In the end Arkona hasn't lost any of their incredible strength when it comes to composing very solid Black Metal albums. It's tough to compare with their earlier more classic work, because this isn't as ground breaking, but this is a great album if you want to hear what Black Metal is supposed to sound like. The fact that in 2013 bands like this can still write this consistently is a really good thing in my opinion and I highly recommend people check this out. I hope the Arkona horde will produce more music in the future and we don't have to wait nearly as long for the next full-length!

Arkona - Wszechzlodowacenie
Hell is Here Production, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Świt Bogów Zmierzch Bogów I
2. Kajdany Zniewolenia
3. Świt Bogów Zmierzch Bogów II
4. A Dark Dream (Veles Cover)
5. Opętany Bluźnierca (Besatt Cover)
6. Gdzie Bogowie Sa Jak Bracia I Siostry - Remix 2005
7. Holokaust Zniewolonych Mas
8. Zrodzony z Ognia i Lodu
9. Matka Zima
10. Niech Połaczy Nas Kosmos
11. A Glare of the Burning Churches (Graveland Cover)
12. Tryumf Nowej Ery (Honor Cover)

If you've missed out on any of Arkona's non-album activity over the past few years this is the chance to get all of that on one album. It even includes a new cover song at the end originally written by Honor. Luckily this is off my favorite album by Honor, so it was pretty good. Naturally Khorzon doesn't have Mariusz signature vocal performance, but it was interesting to hear the song performed with more traditional Black Metal vocals. I also didn't have the tribute to Graveland compilation and this also includes that as well. I always think it's interesting to hear these ancient songs recast with modern recordings, I think it really shows off how forward thinking the band was at the time.

The first four songs are from the split with Moontower, then it moves onto the three tracks from the 3-way split with Besatt and Thirst and finally closes with the three songs from their split with Szron. I imagine the material from the Szron split is pretty desirable, since that release is currently not very easy to track down. The array of material over the years makes for an interesting compilation, because you can hear how consistent Arkona has been over the years. Even though this spans nearly five years of material, Arkona still produce some very well done Black Metal. I think once the band got into what was presented on "The Nocturnal Arkonian" hordes they decided that was their signature sound and stuck with that. While not everything they have done has been as stellar, you can tell Khorzon is still trying to compose within that basic theme of tempered intensity.

Arkona & Moontower - W Szponach Wojennej Bestii
Long Ago Records, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Świt Bogów Zmierzch Bogów I
2. Kajdany Zniewolenia
3. Świt Bogów Zmierzch Bogów II
4. A Dark Dream (Veles Cover)
5. War of Hell (Intro)
6. Pierwotny Instynkt Prawdy
7. Spiritual Pest
8. Triumf

Side Moontower: ...coming eventually...
Side Arkona:

Doing splits seems to be Arkona's new thing and this time they return with the legendary Moontower. The two bands started around the same time, and given how many splits Moontower makes, this one was long overdue.

Here we have three new tracks and a cover song. This is definitely more worthwhile than the prior split, and to be honest the writing is a lot better. I feel like the writing it almost on par with "Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes". The songs are more in line with what we heard on "Konstelacja Lodu", but I think they are better written overall. Still no bass is heard like in the days of "Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes", but they did up the atmosphere and balance it with their incredibly ferocious style much better this time around. These songs have really beautiful and majestic moments, but the sheer level of ferocity in Arkona's style makes it surprising that these two things were brought together pretty well. I think the only thing I wish about this recording is that the drums weren't so heavily triggered, it almost sounded like an electronic drum kit, but I don't think it is because the cymbals sound very natural. It's almost like what Inferno does when he records with Behemoth.

The album closes off with an excellent Veles cover and at this point I really do hope it means a new album is on the rise. The compositions on this split were great and some of the best they've done since "The Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes". This is definitely a part of the Arkona discography that is worth having!

Arkona & Besatt & Thirst Split
Agonia Records, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

Arkona: Holokaust Zniewolonych Mas
1. Opętany Bluźnierca (Besatt Cover)
2. Gdzie Bogowie Są Jak Bracia I Siostry (Remix 2005)
3. Gdzie Bogowie Są Jak Bracia I Siostry - Remix 2005s
Besatt: Diabolus Perfectus
4. Revelation
5. Ave Master Lucifer
6. The Kingdom of Hatred
Thirst: Raise the Blasphemer:
7. Armageddon...
8. I'm Blasphemer
9. Raise the Dead (Bathory Cover)

Side Besatt: ...coming eventually...
Side Thirst: here
Side Arkona:

Arkona return with a few new things for us to listen to in addition to the compilation below. I feel like this has more to do with showing the band is still active, rather than to put out additional material. The main reason I think this is because there is really only one new song on this three way split.

Arkona open their side with a cover song originally by the mighty Besatt. The song is actually fairly rare and first appears on a demo tape that was later repressed as "Roots of Evil". Naturally Arkona do a spectacular job on the cover. It's strange to start the whole split off with a cover, but it was a strong beginning nonetheless. Just in case we're confused about the intent of the cover Arkona writes in the liner notes "This cover is neither ideological nor religious tribute for satanism, but the artistic interpretation only. Arkona is pagan black metal horde exclusively." So... they haven't converted to Satanism... not that I thought they would have based on covering a song. I guess some people are easily confused though.

Next up is another song that is not new and instead a remix of a song from the "Konstelacja Lodu" album. The mix sounds fine, but since that album didn't really stand out to me much, I'm not sure it sounds all that different. In some regards I think the guitars sound a little fuzzier, which isn't a good thing. Finally, we get to the last track and the only new song. It's extremely militant in nature and starts off with air sirens and military styled drumming. Unlike a lot of other Arkona songs, this song clicks in at just over three minutes, so I feel like they go through the song very fast! It's certainly a solid track and I would be hoping a new full length was on the rise!

Arkona - Raw Years 1993-95
Under the Sign of Garazel Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Kosmiczna Siła Fohat
2. Victims of Gore
3. The Unholy War
4. Follow Me... and Be Amazed
5. Sacred Ice and Bloody Tears
6. Ice in My Heart
7. W Cieniu Umierających Wierzb
8. Barbarzyński Ogień Wichrowych Wzgórz
9. Przyszły Zdrajca Chrześcijańskiej Masy

This is the first compilation Arkona have released and it is a collection of unreleased rarities. This is from the very early inception of the band so things are really primitive, but on here is quite a gem. Tracks two through six are an unreleased demo from 1993. The other songs are just extras and different compositions.

The album opens with a two minute instrumental from the "Zeta Reticuli" recordings. It starts off with a Holst piece and turns into Black Metal, but without the vocals it made me wonder if the track was originally meant to be an intro to the actual album. After this we get right into "The Unholy War" and this is some extremely primitive material. This is clearly before they had found a drummer, so Khorzon is probably programming the drums, but I do wonder if he's the only member at this stage. The music is pretty strange and interesting. It's actually very catchy to listen to and this is before keyboards were ever being added to the music. For it's time this is some really different stuff and it has some elements of catchiness that I would later consider far more part of the Czech metal world. The riffs in the song "The Unholy War" are actually pretty spectacular, but the demo closes with "Ice in My Heart" and this is a really strange song. I would expect to hear this on Umbrtka demo material almost the way it's constructed. However, here Arkona is doing this type of material first. There's clearly influence from the likes of Darkthrone, but I still feel like Arkona is doing something fairly different.

The rest of this finishes off with material found in 1994. Well tracks seven and eight are different versions of songs found on "An Eternal Curse of the Pagan Godz". The tracks are very good and I think they actually are a bit better than what we did hear on the demo originally and I kind of wish more of these existed. This compilation closes with a rehearsal from the "Bogowie Zapomienia" and this is pretty raw and harsh stuff, as you would expect.

There you have it, a good collection of rarities. The real gem being the 1993 demo to really get an idea of how forward thinking Khorzon really was. It's a shame his material didn't seem to get released in a decent time frame or else Arkona would be hailed as one of the more major bands.

Arkona & Szron Split
Under the Sign of Garazel, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

Arkona: Zrodzony Z Ognia I Lodu
1. Zrodzony Z Ognia I Lodu
2. Matka Zima
3. Niech Połączy Nas Kosmos
Szron: Mankind's Funeral
4. The End of All Life
5. The Flame Shall Purify
6. Nocturnal Horde
7. Tumulus

Side Szron: here
Side Arkona:

Here begins a long line of Arkona releasing non-full-length albums. A lot of splits and compilations are coming after this. I think the line-up for Arkona was a bit precarious after this release and the band was never really stable for a long time. I'm not sure what happened with the other members other than Khorzon, but it could be as simple as their involvement with other projects and life in general. Anyway, here is the first split with fellow country-mates Szron. This is limited to 666 hand-numbered copies and I own #440.

Arkona kick their side of the split off with a ten minute epic. The vicious and hateful intensity of the last two albums has sort of worn off a bit. The music is still very fast and blast beat heavy, but I feel they are trying to evoke more elements than just intense hatred. They bring back the heavy use of keyboards and this material feels more closely related to "Bogowie Zapomania". It's actually more of a blend between their current incarnation and the early years on some levels. "Niech Połączy Nas Kosmos" closes on some weird levels. This is mostly keyboard Ambience, which ends up turning into guitar chords being hit slowly. It's certainly a strange track for Arkona, but it actually does a descent job of invoking a very haunting atmosphere. I don't know if I'd want an entire album of this material, but a seven minute song was not a terrible experience.

I actually don't have too much I can say about these songs. I think I liked the more vicious approach a little more, but the blend between the two styles seems to work fairly well. These are some very solid songs, but I think they've returned to trying things out. We'll see where Arkona goes from this point.

Arkona - Konstelacja Lodu
Eclipse Productions, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Módl Się Do Wiatru O Powrót Mój...
2. Gdzie Bogowie Są Jak Bracia I Siostry...
3. Chłodne I Dostojne Są Nasze Oblicza...
4. Chłodne I Dostojne Są Nasze Oblicza...
5. Kiedy Psy W Zagrodach Ujadają...
6. W Mglistej Konstelacji Lodu...

After the incredible "Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes" I was quite excited to hear "Konstelacja Lodu". They definitely managed to keep up the level of intensity when they shifted the styles. However, I think they may have rushed into the studio with this one a little bit.

Unlike the prior album it doesn't give the date range for when the songs were composed, but given the way they're setup, I would say they're probably all new songs composed over the past year. The only problem with this is that  the level of careful crafting that went into the last album doesn't feel as present on this release. The bass, unfortunately, is too far away in the mix to even remotely hear. So that really wonderful element that made "Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes" an even more incredible listen is not existent anymore. There are some stand out guitar riffs though, such as "W Mglistej Konstelacji Lodu..." which is very reminiscent of that disturbing discordant style Mutiilation perform.

While I did enjoy the vicious and intense songs quite a bit, I can't help but feel somewhat let down because the last album set such high standards. For the most part "Konstelacja Lodu" is a well crafted album. The songs aren't blasted through entirely and there are some slow sections to split the material up. This is also during the time frame when Black Metal bands were struggling with drum triggers and the triggers sound a little more electronic around this time. I prefer no triggering, but the whole trigger issue wouldn't sound nearly as bad in a few years from now.

If you enjoyed "Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes", then there is certainly no reason you wouldn't enjoy this album. This merely advances the style appearing on early Mayhem and some variation on that theme. Arkona, as usual, is an exemplary piece of pure Black Metal.

Arkona - Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes
Eclipse Productions, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Christianblood for Pagan Might
2. Awaiting Old Millenium Return
3. Yelling Beasts of the Wintermoon
4. No Blood in My Body
5. Abyss of the Frozen Ravenland
6. Looking for a Shadow of the Master

Here we finally see Arkona resurrected from their silence with all new material. This is very different material and their Black Metal has evolved quite a bit from the material they used to write. I think this has a lot to do with the way Black Metal evolved over the 90's. The intensity level for a lot projects was really increased a lot. Maybe they figure they had already accomplished worthwhile material with the more mid-paced 90's material and now are ready to unleash a far more vicious onslaught.

"Nocturnal Arkonian Hordes" is one of the most vicious and intense albums out there. This is basically the album Marduk tried to record with "Panzer Division." However, instead of winding up with a fairly boring experience, Arkona have written an incredibly compelling album. This is certainly not for the faint of heart, the sheer level of intensity just emanates from every composition. Despite the bands silence the liner notes state that Khorzon had been writing these songs during 1997 to 1999. If he had released on of this back then he would have made a huge statement in the scene, because Arkona would sit as one of the most intense Black Metal bands around. In 2002, a lot of bands are doing this, but even still, I will say that they are not achieving the same level of success as Arkona. One of the major stand out aspects of this album is when you hear the bass lines kick in. I haven't heard bass lines haunt me so much since Mahem's "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas." One of the only other bands that could evoke a similar statement from me was Ondskapt and their debut came out this year too! Khorzon has also brought back the use of some keyboards, although very sparingly. They only enter the music at very key points to accent particular passages. This is what I wanted them to do from the beginning, because you could tell the guitar work was so well composed it could just stand alone. The song "No Blood in My Body" is a prime example of this careful placement of piano.

This is an absolute must hear album. Their ability to translate hatred and violence into audio is simply uncanny, yet there is a level of beauty and terror infused into their sound. Few bands could ever achieve this and few people will probably hear this band for good or ill. For it says in the liner notes "Our kind of Black Metal is total underground and do not look for Arkona's albums in any commercial music stores. Only underground Black Metal is true! Arkona plays Nocturnal Arkonian Black Metal supported by neopagan consciousness." I do have to agree, and the underground is a better place to be, for the people listening appreciate it all the more.

Arkona - Zeta Reticuli (A Tale About Hatred and Total Enslavement)
Eclipse Productions, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Kiedy Głaz Nadaje Kształt Boskiej Naturze/Krąg Ognia...
2. Demoniczne Spojrzenia Bogów Skierowane Na Arkonę W Dobie Rozkwitu Nowej Wiary...
3. Pozorna Wada Niedostępności Tajemnic Bogów Którymi Nie Gardzi Pogańska Duma...
4. Niezwykle Uciążliwa Droga Do Gwiazd Oraz Odwieczna Niemoc W Zrozumieniu Prawdy Ukrytej Na Biegunach Strachu...
5. Gorycz Łez Nektaru Wieczności...
6. Odejdę W Dniu Gdy Dźwięk Zamilknie...
7. Zeta Reticuli - Ostateczne Pojednanie Ze Stwórcami Bez Konieczności Dalszej Reinkarnacji...

It looks like half of this album was released in 1999 on cassette by the infamous Pussy God Records from the Czech republic, but it wouldn't be until 2001 when this material became fully released on CD. This is an odd release for 2001. There are a great many Black Metal bands that spend time trying to capture this exact sound, but never achieve anything even remotely close.  The reason? This material was originally recorded in the winter of 1995/1996 and must've been recorded shortly after "Imperium".

If you want to delve into a very nostalgic world where you have extremely fond memories of the early works from Old Man's Child, Dodheimsgard, and Gorgoroth, then this is the album you've wanted to come out for years. This is what many new fans of modern Black Metal really missed out on and only get to engage from the past. Now Arkona has been sitting on an album from this era and it is newly released. I don't think anything has been redone, nothing is enhanced, even the mastering sounds old! "Zeta Reticuli" is truly a beautiful album in that regard. It really captures the cold and beautiful nature of the early Black Metal scene. I liken them more to the Norwegian bands above, because I feel like that is the closest relation. The scary part is, Arkona was doing almost the same stuff as this band around this time... but those are the most well known bands that have the same feel.

"Zeta Reticuli" is very different from "Imperium" and I'm actually surprised to see these were recorded around the same time frame. "Zeta Reticuli" has pretty much no keyboards. The music is wonderfully composed and you can really hear the strength of this band is in the guitar work. It's pretty clear how much having keyboards was detracting from the bands overall atmosphere and sound. A lot of those problems were entirely fixed on this recording and I really wish the band had written more music in this vein. Unfortunately I think this band was inactive for a very long time. The only reason we even get to hear this today is because the band has essentially become resurrected by Khorzon, thankfully.

Arkona - Imperium
Astral Wings Records, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Skrajna Nienawiść Egoistycznej Egzystencji
2. Epidemia Rozczarowania i Nędza Duchowa
3. Każdy Los to Cień
4. Jesienne Cienie Czekające na Kolejną Reinkarnację
5. Wściekłość Która Nadchodzi
6. Pluję Na Twą Marność Psie!
7. Pogarda Dla Wrogów Imperium Wszechmocy

Despite being recorded in studio during late 1994, this didn't see any release until 1996. Also, the band seems to have been rather quiet during this time frame in terms of releasing material. I missed out on the original press of this album, so I have no idea what the original booklet looked like.  Instead, I have the following version:

Arkona - Imperium

Long Ago Records, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

8. Długa Ciężka Zima
9. W Wiecznej Zemście Pogańskich Bogów

Apparently two versions of this album existed and as a bonus two tracks from that other version are featured on the re-release. The two tracks are actually extremely different compared to the actual album. They seem far more raw and I'm not sure if these are rehearsal tracks or not, to be honest.

"Imperium" basically picks up where "An Eternal Curse of the Pagan Godz" leaves off. This time around, though, I feel like they've managed to include the keyboard into their compositions a lot more cleanly. I didn't feel nearly as overwhelmed by the keys and they certainly didn't get in the way of the guitar work. In fact, they managed to enhance passages a little bit more. I think some of these songs are originally found on the demos, but having a solid mix from a studio session is probably changing the way I engage these songs. I think I see the merit of what this band was trying to do and why "Imperium" is a rather popular release. Arkona come across as a darker and more harsh version of Emperor, which is where I think they're getting a lot of their influence. Their material is both dark and beautiful, which makes for an interesting listen given how far back this material goes. It always amazes me to hear what Poland was doing in the early 90's and have such an interesting take on Black Metal for their time frame.

"Imperium" is probably one of the major classics of the Polish scene. You have to keep in mind that albums like Behemoth's "Grom" were probably heavily influenced by what Arkona was performing years before. If you're really interested in the history of Black Metal, this is an absolute must have. This is definitely a classic album, one that I feel has somewhat been lost to time.

Arkona - An Eternal Curse of the Pagan Godz
Self-Released, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. From the Depths of Hell-Fire into the Infinited War
2. Only True Belief
3. Long Hard Winter
4. In the Shadow of Dying Willows
5. Under the Arms of Lucipher
6. Frostwind from the Land of Immortal Hatred
7. Barbarian - Fire on the Whirlwind Hills
8. An Eternal Curse of the Pagan Godz
9. The Infinited War

After a very compelling first demo Arkona released a second demo in 1994. I do not own an original copy of this, but my friend Noel owned the re-release from 1997 on the mighty Folter Records. I have no idea what the original cover looked like and this is actually the only cover I can find on the internet. The Folter release is actually both demos on one album, so "An Eternal Curse of the Pagan Godz" is the second part of the album.

Unfortunately, if you were expecting the same level of recording quality on "Bogowie Zapomnienia" you are going to be disappointed. This is not a new studio recording, instead this is a recording a rehearsal. On that note, however, the quality is actually quite good. It's far more raw, but it sort of works for the music. I'm actually surprised at how much keyboard use is going on for the songs, since a lot of them would stand better without it and whenever they just have the music without the keyboards it sounds a lot more powerful. I really hope Arkona moves away from using these in the future, because it actually detracts from the music a little. Either that or they start using them better. Considering this was done back in 1994, it's not too bad, but I just couldn't get into very much. It feels like a harsher Emperor in some ways, but the guitar lines don't have the same level of memorable.

We'll see what happens in the future with this band. They're clearly still experimenting. I wish I had more to say on this review, but it's a little hard when I just feel fairly flatlined by the music. I think they were trying to add a lot more atmosphere by using the keyboards, but it took away from the edge of their Black Metal a little more than they probably thought it would.

Arkona - Bogowie Zapomnienia
Self-Released, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Nieporozumienie W Bezsensie Istnienia
2. Gwałt Własnego Pożądania
3. Przyszły Zdrajca Chrześcijańskiej Masy
4. Szaleńcza Pogoń Za Bezwstydną Rozkoszą
5. Kres Ludzkiej Doskonałości Obezwładniony Próżnością
6. Najprostrza Martwica Zgubnej Niemocy

I'm not sure how many people out there remember an avantgarde project from Poland named Mussorgski, but many of the members from Mussorgski also founded Arkona. I think Arkona is a lot more well known in the extreme metal scene, and, to be honest, I do like Arkona a lot more than Mussorgski. I actually don't own the original demos, but I do have a re-release, which I will make an entry for later.

Arkona - Bogowie Zapomienia
Warkult Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

7. Niezwykle Uciążliwa Droga Do Gwiazd...
8. Kiedy Głaz Nadaje Kształt Boskiej Naturze/Krąg Ognia

The extra two tracks were originally on "Zeta Reticuli", so I'm not sure why they were added as a bonus since they are not unreleased. Oh well, just thought I would show what version I actually had.

As far as demo material goes, this is actually some very solid material. This would be pretty standard form for new Black Metal bands today, and even then few bands could write at this quality. For 1994, this is truly some great material. They're clearly influenced by the Norwegian Black Metal scene the most and I hear a lot of Mayhem in their sound, but you can also hear elements of the local Polish scene showing through. Christ Agony were playing some strange atmospheric styled stuff at this time and Arkona has a bit more atmosphere in their sound along those lines.

This is a great demo and hearing more from this band in the future would certainly be a great thing. If this had been recorded in a studio and had wider distribution this band would have been an instant classic in the scene! I highly recommend delving into all eras of this band, because you can usually expect some extremely high quality Black Metal from them.

Cult of Fire

Cult of Fire - मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान
Iron Bonehead Productions, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. संहार रक्त काली
2. अस्तित्व की चिता पर
3. अस्तित्व की चिता पर
4. काली मां
5. मृत्यु ही सत्य है
6. मृत्यु का वीभत्स नृत्य
7. खण्ड मण्ड योग
8. दिव्य प्रेम की ज्वाला से दग्ध

After hearing "Triumvirát" I was pretty eager to hear new output from this band and here we have it! The new album features a beautiful cover painting of the goddess Kali, which lead me to think there would either be some Occult Black Metal influence or Hindu influence. The fact that all the titles are written in Sanskrit clearly pointed towards more of the Hindu, rather than the usual Swedish brand of death worship.

The opening track really helps set the atmosphere for that sort of cultural and Indian vibe to the music. I was sort of expecting to have more of a blend like you would find with Rudra, but I'm not sure they really achieved a perfect blend. This is a really ambitious work and it may take them a few albums to blend that Czech intensity with more atmospheric elements. When they nail it, it works perfectly, but it's somewhat inconsistent. It's more consistent this time around than before and there isn't any song on here that I would say is bad, because it's really spectacular Black Metal at the end of the day and I will definitely listen to this album regularly. However, as a critic, I'm voicing the one complaint I had for an otherwise flawless performance from this group. If they keep building on this style they will really achieve some great albums in the future, the only other band in their area that seems to be really focusing on this is Inferno with their album "Omniabscene." But if I remember that album correctly, it doesn't have nearly the same level of vicious impact Cult of Fire does, instead they go fully into building atmosphere, which is great. I would love to see if Cult of Fire can bring that viciousness of the Czech scene to atmospheric elements all at once, I think this is an immense challenge, but Cult of Fire is the only one nearly getting it truly perfect.

I should also make it a point to discuss the art direction of this album. It's really quite interesting and there is a full booklet that comes with a lot of art. I'm sure it is heavily influenced by the Hindu religion and there is much in there that caters towards all kinds of imagery for death worship. Infernal Vlad has stated that he read books, contacted people from India, and essentially immersed himself in the culture and religion of Kali. I think from this point of view Cult of Fire truly did capture the concept behind this. I dare say it is a lot more evocative than Dissection's approach with "Reinkaos" and the way other Swedish bands seem to approach this topic. I feel Cult of Fire truly captures the intended cultural references and celebrates a level of diversity that is usually not around in these bands. A lot of bands just put their own twist to the legends or invoke names because of some Occult writer, and it seems Cult of Fire went to the source of the legends and took their influence from their. The end result is an album that feels very genuine with an atmosphere that builds around this terror and joy in recognition of the Goddess Kali.

Again, a highly recommended album of 2013. If this doesn't hit my top ten, then it will definitely hit my honorable mentions, because their ideas are genuinely very good and the music is honestly very good as well, I just think Cult of Fire can tweak their sound a little bit more to really nail a level of perfection. Once they hit that level, I think the project will stand as a unique sounding voice in the Black Metal genre. In the end, this is certainly a must buy album at the very least!

Cult of Fire - Triumvirát
Demonhood Productions, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Závěť Světu
2. Satan Mentor
3. Černá Aura
4. Horizont Temnoty
5. Z Jícnů Propastí
6. Sluhové Věčného
7. Triumvirát
8. Návrat Zářného Zla
9. Bytosti Z Prázdnoty

Given my love for Czech Black Metal, I'm actually surprised it took me over a year to hear of this band from when they put this out. I only started hearing about them when a new release was imminent for 2013. Not to mention they have a rather prolific line-up for this project featuring members of Dark Storm, Maniac Butcher, with Tom Coroner on drums who seems to have played in a large portion of the Czech Metal scene in general! So, given this class of musicians it's almost unsurprising to hear an incredibly high quality performance.

Cult of Fire started off with releasing two songs on a 10" vinyl in 2011, but since both songs show up on this CD, I've decided to just start off reviewing this. "Triumvirát" marks the first full length effort from this group and it is an incredible album. It really puts together a wonderful balance of intensity and atmosphere. Some tracks like "Satan Mentor" actually remind me of some of the great bands hailing out of Quebec, Canada. Given that atmospheric influence married with the usual Czech intensity actually makes for a strangely unique listen. They keep this blend going for pretty much the entire album, and it is a very good listen overall, but some tracks are certainly stronger than others. The album closes with the title track which is one of the more atmospheric songs on this album and a truly beautiful ending to this impressive debut.

As a bonus the last two tracks are from 2011's "20:11" vinyl release.  This EP was apparently inspired by the disaster at Chernobyl and was released on the day of it's 25th anniversary. The music is more typical for what you'd expect for a Black Metal band. The music is certainly solid and very well done, but you can tell that "Triumvirát" is by far the more mature and well developed aspect of their music. I think they had a good idea of what they were going to go for in terms of the music, but didn't start locking down the real essence until 2012. In "Návrat Zářného Zla" there is a middle section that slows down with just tortured screaming and I imagine this goes with the screaming of dying people in the Power Plant. However, the atmospheric break is brief, before we return to the usual Black Metal performance. They really managed to blend these styles together much more seamless with the full length.

This is definitely a band to be watching in the future, I expect to hear fairly incredible things from this group. I love the imagery for this group as well. If you find pictures of this bands live sets you will be pleasantly surprised. The track listing on this album is written in the Theban alphabet and gives the album a very "cult" aesthetic. This is one of the better new bands recently formed, so definitely give them a listen.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mastiphal 2

Mastiphal - Nocturnal Landscape
Northern Storm Division/Eastside, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Return of Wintry Gales
2. The Pagan's Fullmoon
3. In the Shadow of the Shadows
4. His Blood Runs in My Veins

The reason I'm posting this as Mastiphal 2, is because it is literally the second band named Mastiphal from Poland.  The first was formed in 1991 and they are from Katowice, Poland.  This Mastiphal formed around 1993 and is from Gdansk, Poland.  The first Mastiphal is more well known, but also had serious periods of inactivity after releasing their first album. As far as this Mastiphal is concerned "Nocturnal Landscape," originally released in 1994 would be their first and only musical output.  This is the re-release and it is limited to 150 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #50.  At least... I think it's a 50, the hand writing is rather poor and the box is very tiny so it might be an 80...

Inside the booklet it says "Recorded on bad equipment at the fullmoon night of 09.03.1994" and they are not kidding.  The recording quality of this tape makes it nearly unlistenable. I don't think I can even review this with any level of objectivity... The guitar is almost completely inaudible making it very hard to judge the merit of the atmosphere they're trying to evoke.  What I can get through the poor recording seems to be fairly typical early 90's Black Metal atmosphere. This probably wasn't bad, but I find it entirely inaccessible given the way it's presented.  Since this band is from Gdansk, it says that Nergal plays session drums and I wonder if it's the same Nergal of Behemoth fame.

Ultimately I am left with having virtually no opinion on this project.  All I can say is that I completely dislike the recording quality. I have almost no idea what went on during this demo and if they ever decided to re-record it, I would listen, but that seems unlikely as this was nearly twenty years ago.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Nachtfalke - The Last Battles
Christhunt Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

Disc 1:
As the Wolves Died:
1. Call from Udgaard
2. Wrath of Old Gods
3. Let Me Die
4. Praise the War
5. Midsummer
6. When the Wolves Return
7. Hail the Old Gods
Following the Wanderers Path:
8. Call of the Gjallarhorn
9. My Skin is Bark
10. Amidst Ancient Forests
11. To Stars High Above
12. As a Falcon through the Night
13. Calm Before the Storm
14. Halls of Hel
15. Beyond the Fire
16. Dawn of a New Age

Disc 2: Wotan's Return
1. Wotan's Return
2. Deep into the Woods
3. Hyperborean Light
4. After a Rain of Fire
5. Autumn Leaves
6. Asatru
7. Ulfhednir Demon
8. The King of Jarl
9. Adler aus Eisen
10. Conquest & War

Disc 3: Tribute to Bathory:
1. Sacrifice
2. Woman of Dark Desire
3. Call from the Grave
4. Odens Ride Over the Northland/A Fine Day to Die
5. Shores in Flames
6. Blood & Iron
7. The Woodwoman

Sadly this isn't a new Nachtfalke album, but what we have here is similar to the "First Battles" compilation. However, this compiles the three most recent Nachtfalke releases into one set. As with the first compilation, this features all freshly re-mastered albums. The remastering is quite good, and I actually rather enjoyed a lot of "Following the Wanderers Path". Below you will see this is the release I did not enjoy very much, but a lot of parts from this album really stood out in a positive light this time around.

Nachtfalke, also, is not content to just re-release the material in a single package, they really make this worth getting beyond the remastering. The first disc is composed of two albums minus the cover songs, so there isn't anything drastically different here. The really good part hits in disc two where we hear "Wotan's Return". Here a big change occurs with the removal of the cover songs and the addition of four entirely new songs! These songs are exceptional as far as I'm concerned. My favorite is "The Kind of Jarl" and it really hits into some Moonblood moments for me. It's probably one of the blackest songs Nachtfalke has ever done and really makes me miss this style. "Ulfhednir Demon" has an excellent epic feel to it, but has a sort of raw like guitar tone that really works perfectly. "Adler aus Eisen" is another epic track that has a long and soaring build up with vocals waiting until about halfway through to start. These additional tracks are really worth it, because they all around ten minutes in length. The last track "Conquest & War" is very different for Nachtfalke. It starts with an Arabic sort of vibe and builds into a much more old school sounding song, bordering on the old Thrash Metal days of the genre. At first I thought it might be a cover song, but it's an original. It doesn't exactly fit with the Nachtfalke style, but I'll never turn down hearing a new track. I truly hope the three new tracks are indicative of an album on the horizon, since it is clear Occulta-Mors is still composing music.

Now, we can't have a Nachtfalke release without some Bathory presence showing up. Since it was removed from the original Nachtfalke material, it all shows up on the third disc. Here we have over fifty minutes of Bathory covers. These aren't all just cut and pasted from the prior releases, these are largely entirely re-recorded songs, except for the last three. The vocals stick more to the harsher edge and a much closer to the style featured on the "Blood Fire Death" album. Rather than trying to mimic the more Heavy metal style vocals of later Bathory, which I never liked much. Staying closer to the "Blood Fire Death" or a more Black Metal style really makes these songs turn out quite well. I really like the fact that they don't try to be as much of a carbon copy as prior recordings and I actually enjoyed these recordings more than I normally do when they show up.

The one complaint I really have is that this release has typos galore all over it. The first, most obvious, is "Tribut to Bathory", which, I assume, is supposed to be "Tribute to Bathory". The more hidden is the omission of "Asatru" on "Wotan's Return". The song is actually on there on the CD. The worst offender is the "Tribute to Bathory" track listing. It's out of order and missing tracks. What I've listed above is the actual track listing. At least I hope I figured out all the mistakes on this release...

Typos and mistakes aside, this is really worth getting if you're a Nachtfalke fan. Usually these compilations of material are rather worthless by bands, but Nachtfalke makes it worth our while. The newest material is very very good and I hope we hear more from Nachtfalke in the near future with material like this.

Nachtfalke - Wotan's Return
Christhunt Productions, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Shores in Flames (Bathory Cover)
2. Wotan's Return
3. Deep into the Woods
4. Hyperborean Light
5. Autumn Leaves
6. Asatru
7. Call from the Grave (Bathory Cover)

Here it is, the album where Occulta-Mors makes up for not having a Bathory cover on "Land of Frost". After the very disappointing "Following the Wanderers Path" and waiting a solid four years for a new album, I was really skeptical about what this would sound like.  I don't know if the bad reviews affected Occulta-Mors decisions on this album or other things, but the full line-up featured on the prior album is gone and there is just Occulta-Mors recording this again.  Despite that there are two songs written by, what he calls "Livehorde".

After opening with an incredibly epic Bathory track we launch into the meat of this album.  "Wotan's Return" has a pretty clear shift in Nachtfalke's sound, but overall it is not a bad one.  This album seems to pretty much pick up where Quorthon's legacy left off. However, Occulta-Mors mixes in far more harsh vocals, which I love and I hope he never changes that, but the guitar lines are clearly designed around the epic nature of Bathory's later career. The songs really keep this atmosphere going for the whole album and while the album is not bad, it just isn't particularly memorable.  There aren't really any aspects that stand out, nor are there any particular tracks, which I suppose is alright since the main focus on this was generating that particular atmosphere.  It works in the context of the Atmospheric Black Metal bands, who don't really have memorable tracks, but rather memorable albums.  Although, I will say there is a riff in "After a Rain of Fire" that is quite spectacular.  As far as an album goes, I'm not sure how memorable I would count this, for me.  Maybe I am not as die-hard of a Bathory fan as other people, which I'm sure I'm not, but this is still a pretty solid album in the grand scheme of things.

The last two original tracks were written by the Livehorde, so it's not entirely done by Occulta-Mors.  When I read this in the liner notes, I was immediately worried about the state of these songs. I'm pleased to announce that it seems the band got their act together and the songs fit very well with the overall scope of this album. The only really curious thing about this album is the placement of the Bathory cover songs.  While I realize the need for doing two, opening with a cover song is usually a bad idea.  Sticking it in the middle would have made more sense, especially since the cover songs fit with the atmosphere of the album so well.  But opening with a nine minute cover that is very close to the original is a little disappointing to start with, since many of us have already heard that song before and we wanted to hear the new Nachtfalke material from the start. The album closes with the classic "Call from the Grave", but the track is a little over seven minutes long.  After the song ends there is a "secret track" where it's just a recording of the band laughing and singing some classic 60's songs. I imagine this is a drunken time hanging out in the studio.

One more thing I will say about this album.  This is the most well produced Nachtfalke album out there.  Everything is mixed so perfectly and recorded so crisply.  It still manages to have a harsh edge to the distorted guitars, which gives a nice thick organic tone to the album.  The usual, sort of fuzzy, guitar mix is gone.  We just get a nice thick tone out of Nachtfalke this time around. This is just perfect and the engineer should be very proud for capturing Nachtfalke in this light.

I think fans of the prior Nachtfalke albums might have some issues with the bands evolution.  When it came to writing epic, yet fast Black Metal, Nacthfalke excelled.  However, there is only one song where blast beats are to be found and all the guitar progressions are strummed chords for the most part (except the one song, Asatru).  This creates a very different motivation behind the album, so I can see why this would land as a little lack luster to fans of the band.  In any event, it must be pointed out that this is a lot better than "Following the Wanderers Path" and, honestly, if Nachtfalke released albums in this vein I would be satisfied with that.  Albeit I would miss the Black Metal of their earlier releases, of course.

Nachtfalke - Following the Wanderers Path
Christhunt Productions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal?

1. Call of the Gjallarhorn
2. My Skin is Bark
3. Amidst Ancient Forests
4. To Stars High Above
5. As a Falcon through the Night
6. The Woodwoman (Bathory Cover)
7. Calm Before the Storm
8. Halls of Hell
9. Beyond the Fire
10. Dawn of a New Age (Outro)

This seems to be the Nachtfalke album fans enjoy the least, and I have to agree for the most part.  I feel like the composition is very confused in terms of how they want to approach the music.  It's a real shame too, because I love the cover and all the art surrounding this album.  For all intents and purposes it should be one of the best in the discography.  It comes in a hand-numbered A5 digi-pak format limited to 1,000 copies, of which I own #828.  I really can't imagine writing down numbers up to 1,000... so I have no idea why this is hand-numbered.

There's a massive difference for this release.  Occulta-Mors has enlisted other musicians and has basically put together a full band.  This is great in theory and clearly live shows were performed, but when it comes to writing and recording things don't seem to have gone very well. I don't think the new vocalist really doesn't the music justice and the drum arrangements just don't have the same "oomph" in all the other releases.

"Call of the Gjallarhorn" starts off with a very promising intro.  One of the most powerful and sophisticated in Nachtfalke's catalog, so I had high hopes for the song.  Unfortunately we got some really dry material.  I feel like this is following in the footsteps of Einherjer's "Odin Owns ye All", which was a major black mark on that bands discography.  "Call of the Gjallarhorn" is not a strong start to the album and what follows doesn't really win me back.  "My Skin is Bark" is pretty much a full on Black Metal song, but that epic majesty in the prior Nachtfalke releases doesn't feel present for some reason.  The album sort of plods along this way and nothing very exciting ever seems to turn it's head.  The guitar arrangements are geared a lot more in the general Heavy Metal vein, but it lacks the same passion in the prior Nachtfalke releases.  The uninspired clean vocals greatly mar the recording as well. I'm just not getting anything out of this album, because it's so far removed from what Nachtfalke is truly passionate about. It's just like the Einherjer album referenced above, it was totally meaningless.

Maybe my love for Black Metal is clouding my judgement a little bit, but I just get nothing from this album.  If you're a fan of more traditional Heavy Metal, then you might get more out of this than me.  But even the Black Metal aspects of this album felt a little dry as well.  I really hope this isn't indicative of the rest of Nachtfalke's career.  Perhaps the band just hasn't nailed down writing together very well, so a first effort isn't going to sound nearly as spectacular with the single vision of before.  Who knows, I just hope they can work out whatever kinks may exist for the project.

"Halls of Hel" is probably the best song on the album, but I'm not sure it's truly indicative of the overall performance.

Nachtfalke - First Battles
Christhunt Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

Disc 1: Hail Victory Teutonia
1. Ode to the Fallen One
2. Searched and Found
3. Asgard Riders
4. War in Asgard
5. Man of Iron (Bathory Cover)
6. Warrior's Nightmare
7. Viking Dance "Under the Flag of Odin's Son"
8. To Honour Wotan
9. Nordic Warriors
10. Hail Teutonia
11. You're So Wrong (Black Widow Cover)

Disc 2: Doomed to Die:
1. Valhalla
2. Pestkrieg
3. One Home of Once Brave (Bathory Cover)
4. Fallen Heroes
5. Einherjer "Doomed to Die"
Land of Frost (Remastered):
6. The Windlords
7. Ragnarök
8. Berserker
9. Immortal Home
10. Men from North
11. Land of Frost
12. Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone Cover)

Disc 3: Live at Asgard 16/4/05
1. Intro
2. Valhalla
3. Immortal Home
4. Berserker
5. When the Wolves Return
6. The Windlords
7. Einherjer "Doomed to Die"
8. Nordic Warriors
9. Praise the War
10. Hail Teutonia
11. Outro/Hail the Old Gods

If you had the grave misfortune to miss out on the first three Nachtfalke albums here they are again collected in one great work.  Even if you already owned the original albums, like me, there are some extra incentives to get this.  The most obvious is the bonus DVD on the third disc.

Some other notable reasons for picking this up is the remixing of some songs on "Hail Victory Teutonia", which actually sound a bit stronger.  The only complaint I really have is that the vocals seem a bit too loud in the mix now. One of the major reasons behind getting this is probably the remastering of "Land of Frost," which, as you know, is one of my favorite Nacthfalke releases.  This time around you don't get the second demo, but you get all the tracks from this incredible album. Instead of the demo you get the Darkthrone cover from the Surtur's Lohe split. I think this is a better addition than the demo anyway, because at least it keeps up that excellent Black Metal atmsphere for the whole album, instead of breaking it with demo quality recordings.

The major reason to track this down is obviously the DVD. Here we have a great historical element of the Nachtfalke career.  This is their first show ever as a live unit on the heals of "As the Wolves Died". It's a small pub in Annaberg, so it has a very intimate setting for a live set and these are often some of the best shows a band can play.  The video begins with the band back stage donning the corpse paint an preparing for their live set. An interesting note it seems a live bassist could not be found, so they just went with two guitars.I think this is a very wise decision, since Nachtfalke's music is really reliant on two guitars. Although a bass will be missed, a second guitar would hurt the music far more due to the way Occulta-Mors arranges his songs. The video isn't a professionally done set, so it has a very home recorded feel, which is fairly perfect given the setting. Not everything is mixed impeccably and the vocals peak on the recording a lot, but it was still a fun show to watch! The crowd was fairly standard for a Black Metal performance with lots of people standing around (which is what I pretty much do at shows too), but when the band got to performing "Hail Teutonia" the crowd went nuts. This is clearly a German favorite, even the keyboardist came out, unsheathed a sword, and began head banging with wild abandon while he wasn't playing. Truly an incredible closer.

I definitely think this was worth getting even though I already owned just about all this material. I think this is fairly hard to find these days, so if you're lucky enough to find a copy of this set pick it up. It is definitely worth getting for any die hard Nacthfalke fan out there.

I can't find any samples of the live performance on youtube and I don't have the ability to make that kind of video... so take my word for it.

Nachtfalke - As the Wolves Died
Christhunt Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Call from Udgaard
2. Wrath of Old Gods
3. Let Me Die
4. Praise the War
5. Midsummer
6. When the Wolves Return
7. Blood and Iron (Bathory Cover)
8. Hail the Old Gods

After a couple years wait Nachtfalke return with eight new tracks to fill our need for epic Teutonic Black Metal.  This album is, no doubt, dedicated to Quorthon who passed away in the prior year. I imagine this was a blow to Occulta-Mors, given how much of an influence Quorthon clearly was for him.  I imagine it is similar to how I feel about Snorre Ruch, David Parland and Occulta-Mors. When these musicians pass on, as David Parland has, it's a blow to the person they influenced.  All three have contributed to shaping me as a musician in some fashion and making me think about music in different ways. I imagine that's how it was for Occulta-Mors when it comes to his love of Bathory.

"As the Wolves Died" is an album that brings through all the greatest aspects of Nachtfalke.  There are fast crushing Black Metal tracks like "Wrath of Old Gods" and epic slow paced songs like "Le Me Die."  "Let Me Die" actually has elements that I've been wanting to hear in Occulta-Mors' music for some time now.  I was absolutely elated to hear that song open with a medieval sounded passage before breaking into some mid-paced majestic Black Metal.

Near the end of the album we get another Bathory cover, this time an epic nearly ten minute track. Quite an excellent thing given the tribute Occulta-Mors would want for such a legendary musician. He even included harsh vocals on the performance, which made things feel a lot more dynamic.  After this we get an outro track, which sort of makes sense if the Bathory cover really belongs to part of the album.  In this case the kind of Black Metal Occulta-Mors is performing on "As the Wolves Died" actually fits quite well with the Bathory cover, so nothing feels out of place in terms of flow.

This is quite a good album and he adds that infusion of medieval style that I've always wanted him to do.  The songs tend to range from mid-paced to very fast Black Metal, but when he writes a mid-paced song it's usually of extreme epic length.  Which is fine, but the fast songs are only a few minutes long, which makes the album feel slower than normal.  The one complaint I could possibly have is that I would have liked to see more balance in this regard.  Other than that a solid album, but I think I actually liked the prior albums even more.

Nachtfalke - Land of Frost
Christhunt Productions, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Windlords
2. Ragnarök
3. Berserker
4. Immortal Home
5. Men from North
6. Land of Frost
Sturmzeitalter (1998):
7. Intro
8. Ode to the Fallen One
9. Warrior's Nightmare I
10. Warrior's Nightmare II
11. Odin
12. Asgard Riders (Outro)

"Land of Frost" brings us to the culmination of Nachtfalke's writing for me.  This is where all the previous works were trending and "Land of Frost" is where their sound is delivered in full force. I think this might be the only album without a Bathory cover song on it as well.  I think this means he'll need to record two covers on one album to make up for the missing track.

This is definitely some of the finest Nachtfalke material written so far.  The songs definitely maintain the perfect blend of vicious and majestic Black Metal all at once.  The atmosphere throughout "Ragnarok" is absolutely perfect! I do sort of miss some of the medieval elements that were ever present in some of his music, and would work great within the atmosphere he's incorporating here.  As it stands though this is still a solid block of well written Black Metal. The only track that really sort of breaks this sense of atmosphere is the title track "Land of Frost".  The track has far more of a Power Metal/Traditional Metal feel to it.  It's upbeat and there is even a Power Metal scream in there, so as not to confuse anyone with what Occulta-Mors is trying to emulate.  I usually don't like this type of material, but it actually came out okay, and a lot of this probably has to do with the fact that the vocals are predominantly harsh.

A couple of the songs' lyrics were written by Hugin of Uruk-Hai fame. He also wrote the lyrics for "Doomed to Die" and I wondered if it was the same Hugin I knew.  This must have been a great honor to work on and his lyrics are extremely good for Nachtfalke's concepts.

Even though it is not listed on the album, after the title track we have an ancient treat for those who missed out on some Nacthfalke demo material.  Occulta-Mors decided to include "Sturmzeitalter" as a bonus for this release.  The production is definitely demo quality, but if you were interested in the early stages of this band, it's a pretty good representation of what Occulta-Mors was trying to create.  I may go back and review this individually.  I actually wasn't aware this was part of the album until I started reviewing it!

In the end this is probably the best Nachtfalke material.  I really love all these songs. That careful balance of majesty and atmosphere is so well taken care of that I could just listen to this album over and over again.  I truly highly recommend this and while "The Windlords" is probably my favorite track, I could only find "Immortal Home" for sampling below.

Nachtfalke - Doomed to Die
Christhunt Productions, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Valhall
2. Pestkrieg
3. One Home of Once Brave (Bathory Cover)
4. Fallen Heroes
5. Einherjer (Doomed to Die)

For Nachtfalke's second album we have one of the shortest albums in Occulta-Mors' career!  It's around thirty-five minutes in length, but all very solid material.  We only get five songs this time around including the obligatory Bathory cover.

"Doomed to Die" launches right off with "Valhall", which is the sort of Black Metal song that gives off an older Thrash vibe in most of the writing.  The clean vocals are almost entirely taken off the table for this release.  The focus on using harsh vocals make the release sound a lot more powerful, in my opinion, and works best with the music Occulta-Mors writes.  The only time the clean vocals show up is in the Bathory cover and this sits right in the middle of the album.  I think it would have been better to put the cover as a closing track, because hearing "Pestkrieg" followed by "Fallen Heroes" would have been awesome!  Both songs are just perfect Black Metal tracks.  The album closes off with the epic "Einherjer" and this generates some extremely good atmosphere.  It's both epic and majestic in scope and I would love to hear Occulta-Mors dedicate a full album to this style of composition.  Maybe even minus the obligatory Bathory cover... unless he wants to do something off of "Blood Fire Death", which might fit the scope of the atmosphere.

Now that we've gotten beyond the demo days of Nachtfalke, we get to hear all new compositions from Occulta-Mors and these are some of his finest for this project.  If he keeps trending in this direction he might end up writing music that is even better than that of Moonblood... although I find this highly unlikely from my point of view.  Either way, I highly recommend.

Nachtfalke - Hail Victory Teutonia
Christhunt Productions, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ode to the Fallen One
2. Searched and Found
3. Asgard Riders
4. War in Asgard
5. Man of Iron (Bathory Cover)
6. Warriors Nightmare
7. Vikingdance (Under the Flag of Odin's Son)
8. To Honour Wotan
9. Nordic Warriors
10. Hail Teutonia
11. You're So Wrong (Black Widow Cover)

We finally get to Nachtfalke's debut release and there are some parts of this I find rather curious.  First off I think this is one of the first release to feature music performed by Occulta-Mors on CD.  Maybe it's because of the record label or he just decided it's becoming more rare to have a CD, given how much distribution is being done in digital form nowadays!  I remember back in 2001 when the notion of an mp3 was a new idea and it was all the craze for people to share them. It was like modern day Tape trading, at least that's how it felt when I ran into the mp3 scene.  I remember when people considered 192kbps to be of the "highest quality" with reasonable storage requirements.  These days we have things like .flac format and a lot of mp3's are ripped in 320kbps without a second thought!  I rip my collection in 320, but I usually insist as much as possible to own physical copies and I transfer all my own material.

The curious part about "Hail Victory Teutonia" is that it's not all new material.  In fact everything that has appeared on the last two releases (except for the Darkthrone cover) appears on this album, in pretty much the order in which it was originally released.  So really we only get the last four tracks as new material.  It feels more like this is a compilation of already released material with some new material to make it worth your while.  There's no information about when the material was recorded, but the first two tracks from the original Nachtfalke demo sound a lot better, so I think this is all re-recorded in a studio.  "Search and Found" seems to be a bit faster to me, or at least seems to have more blast beats. Even though "Asgard Riders" is meant to be an outro, I actually find it to be a great intro for "War in Asgard"!  The clean vocal section on this song has an under layer of harsh vocals, so that gives it a way more powerful approach.  Maybe that layer was in the original, but I couldn't hear it that well.

When we finally get to the new material the recording quality feels a little different.  The drum production is very strong, but the guitars are fairly fuzzy.  However, this gives way to a very workable atmosphere that is extremely good.  The Bathory influence is even more apparent with the first verse being sung clean.  However, the sheer volume of echo on this makes it pretty hard to make out what is being sung.  The words just overlap into each other way too much.  As far as my preferences go, I'd rather Occulta-Mors stick with the harsh vocals, but at least he switches them up and doesn't sing clean all the time.  This is good, because if it was all clean singing I think I would just get annoyed. The guitar line under the harsh verse is extremely good!  I really want to hear more of this stuff.  It's similar to Bathory's Viking Metal, but with some of the epicness taken away and putting in a heavy dose of strength.  So Nachtfalke's interpretation of this genre sounds both epic and powerful.  After this things get Blackened up a bit more, but it's blended in with some extremely epic sequences and I really love the direction Nachtfalke is heading with this material.

The album closes out with a Black Widow cover, which is a really strange thing to finish with.  Black Widow isn't very epic sounding and with Occulta-Mors' insistence on making a close copy of the song, it sounds extremely out of place. I don't think this was a great way to end off an album of extremely epic Teutonic Black Metal. In reading the liner notes it says that the lyrics were translated Gaamalzagoth, which is sort of sad, because I think the songs would have sounded even more powerful in his native German.  So, that was a little sad to see.

In the end this is a great album.  Sheer epic Teutonic Black Metal like only Occulta-Mors could do it.  It may not have the same approach as Moonblood and I will forever miss that project, but Nachtfalke is at least publishing some high quality material. I look forward to their next release.

Nachtfalke & Luror Split
Fog of the Apocalypse, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

Nachtfalke: War in Asgard
1. War in Asgard
2. Man of Iron (Bathory Cover)
3. Warriors Nightmare
4. Vikingdance "Under the Flag of Odins Son"
Luror: Faustus M-Angel-E
5. The Degenerated Art of Your Love
6. Vague Visions - Burning Blood
7. When Blood is Spiked
8. Faustus M-Angel-E

Side Luror: ...coming eventually...
Side Nachtfalke:

Nachtfalke return with a second split this year.  This time with Luror... which I'm not sure matches up so well and in fact Nachtfalke's material on here would have matched with Surturs Lohe a lot more I think.  Nachtfalke commit four new songs to this split meaning this needed to be a 12" vinyl.  As usual with Occulta-Mors material this is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and I own #242.

The Nachtfalke side of this split is incredible!  I think there are still some refinements Occulta-Mors can accomplish.  For example "War in Asgard" feels a little cut and paste with the arrangements.  It starts with a magnificent medieval styled clean section before launching into some really powerful Black Metal.  The material has come a long way from the first recorded demo material.  It seems Occulta-Mors is taking all that Medieval Black Metal influence he was bringing into Moonblood and recasting it here. I really love it and now I greatly look forward to future Nacthfalke releases.  The song "Warriors Nightmare" is simply spectacular! Probably my favorite song on the release. Rather than having the droning and plodding Metal on the first release, he's drawn a lot from the Bathory Viking Metal sound and Blackened it up a bit.  The end result is quite amazing.  There is even a Bathory cover on here... rather unsurprising, however, I was surprised Occulta-Mors to sing the song rather than scream through it.  It kind of gives the track ordering an odd feel since it's the second song.

In the end this is some real solid material and I greatly look forward to what Occulta-Mors has in store for us in the future.  I think it's about time he put together an albums worth of material after tweaking his material ever so slightly.  I would like to hear those medieval aspects blended in with the main parts of songs a bit more, rather than "here's the medieval section" and "here's the Black Metal section".  I would like to see them blended more cohesively, which is something I think he can totally do.

Surturs Lohe & Nachtfalke Split
Christhunt Productions, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

Suturs Lohe:
1. Brennende Sturme
2. Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone Cover)

Side Surtures Lohe: ...coming eventually...

For Nachtfalke's second official work, a split with fellow German Pagan Black Metallers Surturs Lohe is released.  The cover for the Nachtfalke side is awesome and this 7" vinyl is limited to 333 copies, of which I own #204.

Given who the split was with I was expecting some solid Viking Metal from both projects, but from Nachtfalke we get a Darkthrone cover.  I'm surprised this wasn't, at least, a Bathory cover.  I do find it strange that such a grim Black Metal song was chosen, since it doesn't match the Surturs Lohe song at all and gives the split a very disjointed feel between the two projects.

All that being said, Nachtfalke did a great job covering this song.  It really brings back some of the Moonblood days, even though Moonblood material is still sort of being released around this time.  Occulta-Mors manages to show that he really can hit the higher range of vocals needed for Black Metal.  Everything about his performance is solid and true to the original song.  I sort of wish there was a slightly new take on the song, but doing a cover this well is still quite impressive.

Nachtfalke - Nachtfalke
Erzschlag, 1999
Genre: Black/Viking Metal

1. Ode to the Fallen One
2. Search and Found/Asgard Riders

Alright, I give up trying to find the first two Nachtfalke demos.  I even give up trying to find them on mp3!  So I begin with the self titled EP, which is actually the same material featured on 1997's "Zeit der Wolfe".  So, in some respects, I guess this is basically having the first demo.  This seems to be a very do-it-yourself kind of vinyl.  It's not a normal sleeve that houses the vinyl, instead it's just two pieces of paper folded over.  This doesn't seem to be professionally printed either, instead it's just xeroxed or something like that.  The Nachtfalke logo on the top seems to be a sticker.  So it really has that sort of home-made feel, which is one of the more interesting aspects of the stuff Occulta-Mors and his projects tend to have.  This vinyl is limited to 333 copies and I own #56.

For those who don't know, Occulta-Mors is the musical mastermind behind the project Moonblood.  I'm sure everyone knows how much I love Moonblood, however, the creation of Nachtfalke is sort of a sad start for me, since this basically marks the end of Moonblood.  However, since Nachtfalke fell under the realms of the Black Metal genre, I had relatively high hopes for the project. The demo material is raw and recorded in a similar vein of a Moonblood demo, so the quality is similar to the late 90's Moonblood material.  The music, though, is entirely different. If you were expecting some terrifically well composed and fast Black Metal, then you didn't get what you thought.  Nachtfalke is a slowly plodding project where the songs meander on and on.  The atmosphere is somewhat reminiscent of Doom, but that may only be due to the pace of the music.  "Search and Found" has a distinct Bathory worship feel.  Which should come as no surprise given how many Bathory covers Moonblood spent their time doing.

How do the vocals fair without the Gaamalzagoth treatment?  Actually, fairly well.  I'm surprised how good of a vocalist Occulta-Mors wound up being.  In Nachtfalke he favors more of the lower range of the vocal spectrum, not quite getting into the realms of Death Metal, but almost.  He certainly doesn't hit the highs in the same fashion of Gaamalzagoth, but I thought his performance was quite impressive overall.

Overall the project seems alright.  It's not as well thought out as Moonblood, but I feel like this is fairly new ground for Occulta-Mors.  Over time he might get a better vision for the direction this project should go.  It seems like he has a solid idea, but his approach isn't as high quality as some of the other projects out there. I have high hopes that Occulta-Mors can bring forth something really interesting.  I still love having this early stage of Nacthfalke in my collection though!