Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sorcier des Glaces


Sorcier des Glaces - Snowland
Self-Released, 1998
Re-released: Les Productions Hérétiques, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. L'Enchantement des Glaces
2. The Winter Nightsky
3. Pure Northern Landscapes Desolation
4. Onward into the Crystal Snows
5. My Journey into the Black Forest
6. Darkness Covers the Snowland
7. L'Éternelle Majesté des Montagnes
8. Night Throne





I missed out on this band when they first surfaced in 1998.  I don't think I was following the Québec scene as much as I should have.  This is the tape version re-release of the original CDr from 1998.  The tape is limited to 100 copies, so I'm sure it's already long gone.  This is actually a pretty good re-release for a tape.  Unfortunately, I am borrowing this from a friend since I decided to go with the CD re-recording of this release, but I thought reviewing the original release would be a good idea first.

Sorcier des Glaces plays a sort of majestic style of Black Metal very much influenced by the Norwegian style of play.  "Snowland" opens with an instrumental ambient track which sets a very epic tone for the album.  Unfortunately with early recordings like this the ambient track's volume is quite different compared to the Metal aspect of the album.  So we do have an odd shift as listeners, as the album progresses I don't think this hurt it.

Every song is extremely well arranged and Sorcier des Glaces will switch around with songs that are actually slow and melancholic while others are raging and vicious sounding.  The best song, to me, is "Night Throne" and what a way to end on a high note!  Even though they pretty much blast through the entire song the guitar line is just incredible sounding.  It sounds incredibly majestic, yet is played a top speed.  Another song that stood out is "Onward into Crystal Snows", which is one of the slower tracks, but generates a very beautiful atmosphere for the listener.

Since this is an early recording you have to be aware that the production may not be pristine.  Even more so since it's a "do it yourself" release.  So we do have some mixing issues to deal with.  The vocals are a little bit too loud in the mix.  His voice is fine for the music and has a sort of Abbath feel to it, but it really overpowers the music at different times.  The drums are way in the background, unfortunately.  You can hear the guitars quite fine though and when they use keyboard elements they don't overpower the guitars.  The keyboards are used quite sparingly though and only to enhance certain sections.

In the end this is definitely a band worth checking out.  If you can't stomach the production I recommend their later studio albums which are spectacular.  I definitely look forward to reviewing their later releases since they have set quite a high bar with this first release.




Calm Hatchery


Calm Hatchery - El-Alamein
Via-Nocturna, 2006
Genre: Death Metal

1. Stone Wings of the Emperor
2. Beauty of Pain
3. El-Alamein
4. God of Shadows
5. Obexob (The 22nd Hour)
6. Execution
7. Evolutionary Burning
8. Psycho Desert
9. I'm Coming for Your Throne




Despite their name, Calm Hatchery is anything but calm.  In fact I find their name downright strange.  Just look at the cover; a military vehicle with, what appears to be, old astrological/occult symbols... why does this imply a calm hatchery?  I give up trying to figure that one out... just like I give up trying to find their demo.  So we begin with the first full length!

I'm pretty biased towards Polish Death Metal, so my review may not be as objective as others.  I really find Poland to be producing some of the finest Death Metal in the world and it doesn't matter if they're unoriginal in approach... I just can't get enough of this stuff.  That being said let's take a look at "El-Alamein"

This album is filled with a lot going on.  They certainly blend together a lot from the Polish scene and try to present it together in a coherent manner.  For the most part I think they succeed, but you can tell this band is still growing ideas.  Usually the first step is to work with your influences pretty closely then branch out from there.  So far I think Calm Hatchery is bringing us a solid blend of Vader, Decapitated and some later Trauma.  They also seem to throw in some more traditionally solid Thrash riffing for good measure from time to time.  As varied as that type of blending could be, I think they actually managed to pull it off pretty well.  The songs seem to have very good flow thematically and things don't feel out of place.  Some of their riffs actually inject a bit more atmosphere than the aforementioned bands and I thought this was something that stuck out very well.

In terms of musical performance this band is top notch as far as I can tell.  The vocals took a brief getting used to.  They don't really sound like the standard growlers I'm used to from the States or Sweden, for example.  Eventually you see how his vocal performance blends in with the music very well.  The guitars and drums are quite spectacular.  Everything seems to be mixed pretty well too, the vocals don't overpower any parts and I can clearly hear the guitar and drums at all times.

In the end this is definitely a band worth checking out.  I'm looking forward to seeing what this band will do in the future because I feel like this album is just overflowing with potential to do something extremely good in the future.  Until then!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eclypse


Changed Name to Hell United

Eclypse - Applause: IHVH Elohim Met
Redrum666, 2004
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. Apostasy
2. Procession of Blind
3. Sick.Sin.Skin
4. Allegory of Suffering
5. Ain Sof Aur
6. Black Coronation
7. New Führer
8. Dyscrasia
9. Manifestation of V Stabbing Wounds
10. After the Sepulture (Samael Cover)





Let me start this by saying I really enjoyed Hell United, which eventually lead to me tracking down this bands earlier incarnation as Eclypse.  I'm usually fairly adamant on reviewing everything a band puts out, but I think their demo "Omen" is long gone and the only version I have is a re-release with a Hell United demo.  I'm not sure how well it transferred over.  Then everything that was on "New Führer" promo appeared on this album, so I don't see much of a point in tracking that down.

"Applause" starts off very strong with a child stating "Jesus is dead" in a very mocking manner.  Then it just launches into one of the stronger tracks on the album "Apostasy".  Eclypse play a sort of Black/Death Metal blend and sometimes they are very successful at this and other times I feel they can be rather bland.  Some aspects sound totally taken from the book of Vader or Behemoth and these parts sound pretty good, especially since Eclypse has more of a Black Metal leaning.  Unfortunately, on some tracks they try to throw in a lot more technical elements like on "Procession of Blind".  The main reason this doesn't work for Eclypse is because as soon as they begin doing anything technical all aspects of their atmosphere just disappears!  This is just terrible in my opinion and makes the album feel very disjointed in it's arrangement.

The above may sound like a deterrent from listening to this album, but I should emphasize that there is some real strong material on here.  Most of the songs are quite good even if it is an approach I've seen time and time again.  One that's a little different is "Ain Sof Aur" which sounds like something I would hear on early Nile albums with it's ritualistic feel and tone.  The album eventually closes with the Samael cover "After the Sepulture" and Eclypse have put their own sort of twist.  There are no keyboards on this version they really upped the drum performance.  The original version has no blast beats, for example, and Eclypse included them on some parts.  I think they did a great job on doing this and modifying it in their own way.

This album was impeccably recorded as well.  I've come to expect this sort of standard with Death Metal related acts.  One thing I like about Eclypse's production style is that the instruments still feel quite organic.  Despite being released in 2004, things aren't overly digital in feel.  This is something I greatly appreciate.

In the end I think I see where Eclypse was trying to go.  I feel like the band's direction took a turn towards more Black Metal when they switched to being Hell United.  I can see why they decided to change names in that regard because Hell United does feel quite a bit like a different project.  I think they really found the right creative elements to write well after Eclypse, but if you're really into Polish Death Metal, listening to Eclypse won't be a waste of your time!  While I, personally, probably won't pull this out very often, it's not something I would shut off if it was on.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zorn


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 Menschheit
6. ...In Flammen
7. Panzerzorn
8. Genickschuss




Zorn don't waste anytime with putting out a demo, they go straight to releasing a full length!  I'm actually not sure where the creation of this band stands.  I know A. Blackwar put an end to Isegrim (which I also enjoyed) and then Zorn released their first album in the same year.  I just don't know if he was working with Zorn before Isegrim ended or if the other musicians in Zorn formed the band.

Zorn tend to play a very fast and vicious style of Black Metal.  I'm not going to lie, it sounds a lot like what Isegrim was doing on their later albums.  I think in that regard it has a sort of generic feel and sort of makes me wonder why Isegrim would be put to an end just to start up Zorn, which sounds quite similar.  However, some tracks display a very different feel and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the blatant Arckanum influence on "Wiederkehr".  Then Kriegserklärung an die Menschheit" sounds like Octinomos blended with Algaion and this was also extremely wonderful.  I haven't heard things from those bands in a while.  I thought that really made the album, because it varied up the atmosphere and tone to keep the album interesting.  Otherwise I feel this album would have gotten lost as a rather typical generic performance.

Production wise you get the same level of quality as you'd expect from Isegrim.  Everything is well recorded and mixed, so it is definitely perfect in that regard.  The vocals are fairly standard.  In fact I'm actually surprised how much Sabnock's vocals sound like A. Blackwar's from time to time.  Thankfully it's not all the time and on songs like "Kriegserklärung an die Menschheit" he actually manages to sound a bit like Algaion's vocalist!

That's about all I have to report on this.  I wouldn't say this is a run out and must buy, but if you liked what Isegrim was doing then this is something you should definitely check.  I definitely want to see where Zorn will take things in the future.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adversus Semita


Adversus Semita - Hopeless Melancholy
Self Mutilation Services, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. Reflections of Isolation - Pt. I
2. Contrary Brightness, Solitary Darkness
3. Reflections of Isolation - Pt. II
4. Postludium - In Hopeless Melancholy









Adversus Semita return very quickly with a new album again on Self Mutilation Services. There's no information on when the material was actually written, so I don't know if Abandoned was merely sitting on two albums worth of material at the time or if this was swiftly composed after the demo. Either way this is again limited to 500 copies which is the usual fashion for Self Mutilation Services.

Adversus Semita delve deeper into a seriously depressive state, in actually relatively interesting fashion to me. Strangely I would say this new material is heavily on the Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (DSBM) side of things. A lot more so than the prior album at any rate. I really don't usually go for this style of music. Typically the slow pacing, high pitched vocals, tend to annoy me... and it's just really not my thing. I think Adversus Semita are bridging their writing enough with the more Atmospheric Black Metal style to keep me interested. I was honestly worried at the opening of "Reflections of Isolation - Pt. I" because of how slow the guitar was droning on. While others may have heralded an album entirely made up of that approach, I would have been saddened because the debut was totally different and quite strong. Eventually the songs pick up the pace and the tremelo picking begins in that raw and harsh Horna fashion. The vocals range into the usual DSBM range, but I feel they are quite varied enough to make it more interesting.

I think Adversus Semita's first full-length effort is quite good. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how often I would listen to this. As I mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of the DSBM atmosphere and even though Adversus Semita brings something better and more compelling than the usual form, I am just rarely in the mood for this type of material. However, if the fancy ever strikes me, I will certainly return to this band to fill that void. The only thing I can say I truly disliked about the album is the way the hi-hat sounds on the drum kit. The drums are not well produced, but it works well with the rather dense atmosphere Adversus Semita is using. Luckily the drum mix is pretty far in the background and the guitars are very loud in the front, so the hi-hat is fairly drowned out. Usually I would complain about this fact, but for this it's a good thing, because I hate that tone.

In the end Adversus Semita actually produce a successful release. Will it stand the test of time? Hard to say, but it's not a sound I fiend for like other bands. I enjoy it while it's on, but with the vast amounts of choices I have out there I would tend toward something else I think. If this band keeps producing material into the future they might stumble upon a rather compelling sound. For the record, this is actually a pretty decent feat, given I don't usually like the the music for the intended target audience.


Adversus Semita - The Ecstasy of Sin
Self Mutilation Services, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ashes of a Burning Heaven
2. He, the Greedy One
3. Pale Winter Moon
4. Death's Gratification
5. The Purity of Darkness










This was sort of a random purchase for me.  I heard a brief sample and decided to try the band out.  I am really glad I did this.  This is a one man band from Norway, for some reason I don't seem to get too many newer bands from Norway, but Adversus Semita is one to check out for sure.

As soon as "Ashes of a Burning Heaven" starts the listener is utterly immersed into the atmosphere of this album.  Abandoned seems to have really nailed it with this project.  He took a lot of what was great in the modern era and blended it with the early days.  I feel like the guitars lines have a feel of a more hypnotic sounding Horna.  While Horna played some epic songs with one riff, I don't think they sounded on the same level as the riffs on "The Ecstasy of Sin".  The songs just have this really compelling feel to them and it is quite difficult to explain.  I'm not sure you really get to hear stuff just like this anymore.  The songs are expertly arranged paying careful attention to let the atmosphere flow from theme to theme.  The overall sound is immersive and dark, but bordering on the melancholic as well.

The production is not necessarily crisp and clear.  It has a very early stage Black Metal production, which gives the production feel of the early days.  This is actually rather hard to pull off well, but I think Adversus Semita did a superb job.  Everything feels somewhat subdued and condensed, while still being produced well enough for the listener to hear everything that is going on.  The vocals are in the background than is typical for Black Metal, but I think if they were in the absolute forefront it would take away from the music.  Abandoned shifts around fairly low growls for most of the album, but does some mid-range stuff where needed.  I definitely love the vocal approach  because I hate the high-pitched Burzum-esque vocals that seem so prevalent in the less vicious Black Metal bands.

In the end if you have a healthy appreciation for very well written Black Metal, I don't see how you can go wrong with Adversus Semita.  Unfortunately this CD is only limited to 500 copies, so I recommend getting it if you can.  Adversus Semita is beautifully dark, while still maintaining a very disturbing and ugly tone for the songs.  Very well done if you ask me!




Saturday, March 16, 2013

Eald


Eald - Fire Shalt Purify Our Land
Self-Released, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Cursed Sons of the Bastard
3. Black Death's Embrace
4. Enthronement of the World Destroyer
5. Increasing Fire
6. Fire Shalt Purify Our Land








For some reason I don't hear a lot of stuff out of Spain that catches my ear, but Eald did.  Albeit I heard the later recordings, but I tracked down a copy of their first demo to see how things first started out.  I will say that this isn't nearly as interesting as the later material.  I can see why this didn't really get people very interested in the project.  This demo was pressed on cassette and limited to 50 hand-numbered copies.  I own copy 32.  I believe the booklet is professionally printed, but I think the tape is just a dub.

"Fire Shalt Purify Our Land" is a fairly generic Black Metal performance.  It's not necessarily the really good generic that you would listen to anyway, despite it being basically the same as other classic pieces.  I find this unfortunate because Eald clearly has some skill behind the music.  The riffs aren't really that bad and "Fire Shalt Purify Our Land" is actually quite a good song.  The rest of the songs are fast riffing sawing away at the guitar while doing blast beats.  Some songs have slower sections and these are good because at least it makes the song feel a little more varied.  Songs like "Increasing Fire" close with such a wonderful riff... but it's not played enough.  But this demo is a bit of a whirlwind experience with all the songs being under four minutes except the closing track.

The vocals are pretty standard.  However in the title track he does these screams that remind me of some elements of Moonblood.  They sort of fit with Eald, but with the different vocal performance it did catch me off guard.  By the end he may have done this too much... but the vast majority of the vocal work is your standard Black Metal approach so it works great with everything else.

The overall package has that older 90's feel to the music, so if you love that to no end, then you might like this demo more than I did.  For me the demo is only okay.  With the closing track, I think it shows that Eald has some serious potential and I feel they manage that in later releases.  Definitely a band to keep your eye on.




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Oferd


Oferd - Oferd
Miriquidi Productions, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Farewell
2. Oferd
3. Likgiltig
4. Diabolical
5. Helvetets Maskineri
6. Djävulens Bländverk








I really like a lot of the things Miriquid Productions releases, so when I heard samples from Oferd's album I decided to buy it.  Upon listening to it I found this a very difficult release to review.  Sometimes the words just really aren't there to describe a release.  I finally figured out why I had almost nothing to say about this release.

It is pretty much my definition of average.  Honestly, I have no complaints about the album, but I also have nothing to comment on for what stands out.  There are some very good riffs on this album, but they are blended with riffs that are so bland that the listener can begin to get lost in them.  I feel like Oferd are going for that more hypnotic Black Metal approach, but in order for this to work you need to write riffs of a particular caliber and Oferd doesn't do this consistently.  Frankly this is basically the bare minimum requirements for a good album.  I find this unfortunate because Oferd will hit atmosphere and riffs that I just love, but then delve into something I find bland.

So... that's about all I can say about this.  I think it would be interesting to see Oferd progress into deeper territory.  For now they just can't compete with the real stand out bands in this territory of Black Metal.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Black Empire (CA)


Black Empire - Crown of a Million Kings
Self-Released, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Man's Conspiracy
2. Leader of Self Deceit
3. Total Illusion











I had the pleasure of seeing this band open at Messe des Morts II.V.  I was really there to see Forteresse and bear witness to Mgła first appearance in North America.  One thing I learned at Messe des Morts is that the local opening bands are actually pretty good.  So with that in mind I was on time and got to see Black Empire perform.  They were good enough live to purchase their demo and see if that translated to the recordings as well.

While "Crown of a Million Kings" is a pretty decent demo, I must say I think they were better live.  Then again this demo is now about four years old, so I will try and keep that in mind when comparing to the live set.  Black Empire play a brand of Black Metal that isn't very vicious or raw sounding, but it's probably more of a mid-paced style of Black Metal.  I feel they do a good job at arranging the songs competently when it comes to pacing and trade off with fast and slow sections enough.  This way things don't get overly repetitive like some Black Metal albums can.  Unfortunately I think many will see Black Empire as being a little generic, and to some degree they are. The Dark Funeral influence is fairly obvious, to the point where I would say they're basically the Dark Funeral of Canada.  I suppose this isn't a bad thing if you enjoy Dark Funeral, which I do.

The demo is actually fairly well recorded.  Everything is mixed very well too, the only thing I'm not too into is the guitar tone.  This is where I think the live setting made a big difference for me.  The guitars sounded extremely good live.  It also heavily depends on the sound system you're using, for example this didn't sound as good in my car.  But on my computer it actually sounded a lot better.  The reason I didn't like the guitar tone is because when they get into the sections that involve any kind of palm muting you get this weird high frequency showing up.  There's a couple reasons this could happen.  Perhaps Audeath is holding the pick at such an angle that he's scraping the strings ever so slightly.  I hope that is not the case because that would mean he has issues with his technique.  I don't think this is the problem anyway, because this never showed up live, if I remember correctly.  Or ti's probably because some feedback was starting to generate from the guitar.  Either way it really took away from the recording for me.

The packaging for the demo is very homemade.  It's clearly just printed on a home printer and burned onto a CDr.  There is sort of a booklet and it at least has the lyrics printed.  They must've used up so much black ink with this.  Still, it's not a bad design overall and it works well for getting their music out there.

Overall this was a decent demo.  It wasn't spectacular, but most of the songs are pretty well written.  I would love to see them get into a studio and do a full length though.  Based on the live set I think they've put together some pretty good stuff.




Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sortilegia


Sortilegia - Arcane Death Ritual
Ván Records, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ad Fulgens Portam
2. Per Atrum Ignem
3. Ingrediemur Nocte Noctis
4. Lux Frigoris
5. Mors atra Lunzae
6. Verbum Potentis
7. Limen Tenebrae Lucis







I was pretty impressed with what Sortilegia had done with their rehearsal and I was always looking forward to what a fully produced album would sound like. Given how much I enjoyed the work done with Sylvus, I expected this would be worth getting as well. Sortilegia open their full-length career with the mighty Ván Records who have a lot of very good releases under their belt and "Arcane Death Ritual" certainly fits that mold. The packaging and layout is really beautiful and the open doorway with light shining through reminds me of some of the art from The Ninth Gate movie. Certainly, this draws on occult imagery and is probably far more accurate than what Hollywood produces, but that was my first thought.

Sortilegia, I think, are clearly trying to appeal to the raw and lo-fi fans of Black Metal, because it says the album was recorded onto tape and from there transferred. This, certainly, gives the album a very raw feel, but I can often have a love hate relationship with this style. Even though the recording quality is very much on par with a demo tape feel, they did a good job recording the material as a whole. The vocals might be a little high in the mix, especially when the howling vocals ring out a bit. The music is written to match the production and it is cold and harsh for the entire album. Sortilegia play a sort of droning and contemplative style, with a pacing that tries to put a listener in a particular space. I would liken some of the stylings to Ondskapt's "Draco Sit Mihi Dux" from time to time, but Sortilegia aren't always heading for that haunting style. Instead, they're a bit more straightforward and build more a sense driving the listener into a lulled state. I think this is why I believe if the production value was ever so slightly better it would have enhanced this experience a little more. I do really love the raw style and am not a fan of over produced Black Metal, but there are times when just a push in the production direction can really make your experience feel a lot more full. I think this is the case for the Sortilegia album. They have a very Tenebrae in Perpetuum feel with their writing and lead designs, but a lot of it is heavily buried in the mix. Tenebrae in Perpetuum managed to balance the raw recording style perfectly, which is why they really stood out to me. I almost feel like Sortilegia are too focused on creating a droning sense, rather than creating some riffs that stand out amongst the rest. However, when I can figure out what is happening, I do like a lot of it.

I think this is a strong starting point and I love the Tenebrae in Perpetuum styled influence (if that is actually an influence of theirs...)  and I would be really interested to see where they go with this next. If you're fiend for raw Black Metal, then Sortilegia probably will not let you down, they're clearly a solid band and I do like a lot of what they're doing. With minor improvements I think they would really hit on some really great music.


Sortilegia - Rehearsal MMXII
Self-Released, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Limen Tenebrae Lucis
















Unfortunately, I missed out on hearing the demo from 2011 "Pestilent Black Sorcery", so I'm not entirely sure how this band is changing compared to the prior release.  One thing that did interest me about this band is because I saw the guitarist perform with Sylvus and I really loved Sylvus, so seeing her involvement with another project was intriguing.  Even though I attended Messe des Morts where this Rehearsal was sold, my friend is the one who wound up getting a copy and I purchased other items while I was there.  Either way she let me borrow the tape.

This rehearsal tape features only one song and being a rehearsal tape you should not expect pristine quality.  The one major benefit is that this song clocks in at over twelve minutes, so it is definitely worth listening in that regard.  Epic length tracks seem to be the usual form for Sortilegia.  There are touches of the Sylvus style of guitar on the track, but I just feel the song didn't stand out as much as their material.  This may have solely happened due to the fact this was a rehearsal take rather than a studio version.  So, I am definitely curious if my opinion will change if I hear this as a studio version.  The song ranges from vicious raw sounding Black Metal to riffs that have a fairly epic feel to them.  I think the song is actually well arranged and the transition of these elements works quite well, so nothing feels choppy or abrupt in the writing.

Everything is performed very well and you can hear everything well enough to get a great idea of what Sortilegia are trying to do.  The musicians behind the project are also clearly very good and there are riffs that definitely caught my ear in parts.  But this just didn't make me listen with rapt attention like some projects are wont to do.

The booklet isn't pro-printed, but it does have more than just a single panel.  It features lyrics and a picture of the band, which is very cool.  It seems to be copied on a high quality copier though, so it doesn't feel like things really faded as more were printed.  The booklet is single sided though, so turning it over is just white, unfortunately.

In the end, it's worth giving a try as with anything in music and I'm definitely interested to hear how this translates in the studio section.  Alas, I don't have much of an idea since their first demo is surely long gone and perhaps I can at least get a digital rip of it someday.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Nàttsòl


Nàttsòl - Stemning
Lupus Lounge, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ved Aas I Haustmoerket
2. Ved Baal I Kveldstime
3. Ved Skog I Natterstid
4. Ved Fjell I Vinterblaest
5. Ved Elv I Eismal Stund
6.Ved Hav I Avdagsleitet








Here's the debut album for Nàttsòl.  My main motivation for picking this up was the label behind it, Lupus Lounge.  I really like what this label has been putting out, so I felt fairly safe in trying this out.  I think Nàttsòl has a lot to offer as a band, but I did find "Stemning" had a few flaws.

The opening riff on "Ved Aas I Haustmoerket" is simply spectacular and it really hooks a listener in.  In fact all the songs on "Stemning" have some incredible riffs worth hearing. While Nàttsòl play a very majestic yet fierce style of Black Metal, I feel like these two elements are strikingly separated in their compositions.  Now they have some absolutely beautiful acoustic passages on this album, some of the best I've ever heard.  Here's the problem though, I don't think they really considered how to blend this elements together seamlessly.  "Stemning" suffers from a very "cut & paste" feel.  What I mean by that is there is a distinct Black Metal section followed by an acoustic sections followed by a Black Metal section... etc.  The reason this feels so clipped is because the sections are very abrupt in their ending.  As if the waveforms for the Black Metal were cut down to end immediately, rather than letting the Black Metal sections transform into a beautiful acoustic section.  If you want to hear a band structure songs extremely well listen to Der Weg einer Freiheit.  Like I said, I think Nàttsòl has some great ideas... but they're just not executed as well as I would like.

Another strange part of Nàttsòl's style is the use of some fairly dissonant riff sections.  I find this sort of typical of Norwegian Black Metal bands, but I feel like it stands out as more abrasive with Nàttsòl.  Again, I think this is due to some of their problems with structuring songs that flow together very well.  All that being said, I think I did manage to get used to their style as the album went on and these issues didn't stand out nearly as much.  There are even some sections that were very reminiscent of Kampfar and since I love Kampfar, this isn't a bad thing.

As usual with Lupus Lounge they've financed a beautiful layout and design.  This comes in a digipac which has a beautifully painted cover.  It comes with a nice thick booklet which features all kinds of wonderful art.  This is a level of art I've come to expect from Lupus Lounge, which makes their releases well worth owning.

In the end I really hope this band can get the flow and structuring under control.  Like I said before, this band has some spectacular ideas and I would love to see them work out the kinks in their sound.  If they do that they could really become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Black Metal.

In a strange turn of events Erlend has apparently left the project.  Yet the project will continue to run, I find this strange because this is what Erlend did on this release: "All music & lyrics, acoustic guitars, bass guitar, additional vocals."  So, hopefully people can see why I am a little skeptical on the continuation of the band.  I was really impressed by the acoustic passages, so if those are gone, it will be quite a loss to this band.  We'll see what happens next though...



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ephemer


Ephemer - Notre Honneur Immortel
Spectre Sinister, 2013
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Flamme et Sang
2. Le Dieu dans l'Urne
3. Notre Honneur Immortel
4. Vers d'Anciennes Cités Magiques












As soon as I saw a new Ephemer tape on the shelf at Messe des Morts III I immediately purchased it.  Their first demo was pretty good and I expected even more from this "super group" duo.  After the most recent prolific releases from Csejthe and Forteresse, I had rather high expectations for this Ephemer demo and I am very pleased to say that they managed to meet that perfectly.

That high level of Atmospheric Black Metal presented on "Guerre et Gloire" continues, but with some very welcome changes.  First noticeable change is the production.  Everything is a lot more crisp and clear this time around.  The guitars came across wonderfully in the mix, so you can really hear those majestic leads that make Ephemer a very special project.

The songwriting has gotten even better and a lot has been learned from albums like Csejthe's "Réminscence", though I wonder how much Csejthe's compositions can thank the experimentation on Ephemer's first demo.  Either way the beautiful approach from "Geurre et Gloire" continues here.  One of the major differences between the two projects has to do with the atmosphere evoked by the projects.  Csejthe is a lot more dark and somber compared to Ephemer.  Ephemer builds a dark, yet very epic atmosphere, which comes across as almost hopeful at times.  The vocals are a lot more present in this release and where they were the aspect that would turn me off the most in the first demo, they are a lot more well done here.  The vocal style is very reminiscent of the styled used on Morrigan's "The Damned" album, to me.  I find this a very welcome presentation and it works pretty well within Ephemer's compositions.  The one thing that's bothering me is the main lead riff in "Vers d'Anciennes Cités Magiques" sounds like something I've heard before... but I just can't remember what it was!

I truly hope this is a prelude to an imminent full length from this project.  While I could understand the band did not feel ready to unleash a full length after "Guerre et Gloire", they are absolutely ready with the material on "Notre Honneur Immortel".  In fact I would love for them to do a re-recording of "Guerre et Gloire" and publish all the tracks together as a debut full length.  To be honest, if they had just skipped right to this step I would probably rank Ephemer into one of my top 10 albums of 2013.  I hope 2014 brings more of this band to light...


Ephemer - Guerre et Gloire
Spectre Sinister, 2011
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Aube Héroïque
2. Sous l'Épée Blanche Sacrée
3.  Guerre et Gloire
4. Rauros










Here's a new band that I've recently heard.  Ephemer is sort of a Québécois super group featuring members of Forteresse and Csjethe.  After listening to some Forteresse it is good to see that Ephemer seems to sound quite different.  "Guerre et Gloire" is limited to 100 copies and I am currently holding number 13.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to purchase this tape and I am borrowing a copy from my friend.

"Guerre et Gloire" is certainly not a typical Black Metal album and it follows the traits of the more atmospheric brands of Black Metal showing up quite a bit these days (circa 2012).  I think this particular form of Black Metal is really gaining some ground because everywhere I look there seems to be more and more bands performing it, when before there just weren't as many.  One thing I really enjoy about Ephemer is that they use no keyboards, which is something a lot of bands rely on to generate that atmosphere.  I don't mean the bands that are Symphonic, I mean the bands blending with Ambient to generate that dense and droning atmosphere.  Ephemer does this simply with a standard Black Metal setup.  The result is simply beautiful.  Granted the opening track "Aube Héroïque" is entirely a keyboard intro, but this is certainly fine for an intro.  Anyway, the song structuring is really what makes this work.  The rhythm guitar is playing through a fast rhythm generating that droning feel, while the lead guitars play very majestic and wonderful tremelo picked leads over it.  This makes those lead sections really stand out similar to what ColdWorld will setup in their arrangements sometimes.  Ephemer sounds nothing like ColdWorld, so don't expect that!  The drums certainly don't blast through the demo, but they are played more slowly.  I feel like the bass drum tends to follow the pace of the rhythm guitar, so double bass is used almost throughout, while the rest of the kit is following the slower feeling pace of the lead guitar.  It actually makes for a very relaxed feel to the music.

The vocals are actually pretty different.  Standard Black Metal vocals aren't used at all.  It will be tough to describe, but it reminded of the type of thing Morrigan might use once in a while.  That sort of middle ground between a yell and a growl.  I'm not really sure how much this added to the music for me.  It certainly didn't take away from the music, but it didn't really stand out to me either.  Then again, if they had used standard Black Metal vocals, I'm not sure that would have stood out either...

The booklet appears to be printed on fairly nice paper and folds out more than one panel.  However, it is only single sided, so we only get one side of printed material to read.  One thing that is interesting about the packaging is that it's all green.  Just like you see the cover above everything is green!  Even the tape is green!  I have never seen a green tape, so I thought that was sort of funny.  I am just sad that the case is black and not green as well.  Oh well... at least the black works with the other color on the booklet.

In the end this is definitely a band that needs to be checked out.  This demo has one downfall, there are only four tracks and only three of those are Black Metal.  I really hope a full length is in the works soon and I'd love to see it pressed on CD.  If you can find this I highly recommend checking it out.