Friday, April 26, 2013


Necrovomit/Mefitic - Misled Conjunction of Evil
Drakkar Productions, 2010
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. SatAnalChrist
2. Necrophiliac Suicide
3. Nuclear Messiah
4. Declaration of Misery
5. Deserts of Wounds
6. Impure Blessings (Dark Angel of the Four Wings) (Demoncy Cover)

Side Mefitic: here
Side Necrovomit:

Well the reason I am reviewing this is strictly because of Mefitic.  I'll be completely honest, Necrovomit definitely wasn't my thing.  They play a much thrashier version of Black/Death Metal and the opening track "SatAnalChrist" starts off the same scream you'd hear from Tom Araya on Slayer's song "Tormentor".  While that conjured up fond memories of my childhood, it didn't keep that up as their songs progressed.  Sometimes I really appreciate Thrash elements in my metal, such as Desaster, but I felt Necrovomit was a bit more on the chaotic side for my tastes.  There isn't too much I can say about them since they're not really doing anything wrong, they're just performing a style I'm not into.  I had a feeling I wouldn't be as into it because I found the track titles a little juvenile and the art associated with them is pretty crazy.  I guess it all fits with what they are playing, so if you're into unbridled madness Necrovomit might be for you.


Reverence - Winds of North
Extreme Productions, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Forest of Damned
2. Winds of North
3. Freezing Lake
4. The Eternal Sleep
5. The Throne

It took me quite a while to track this demo down, but I managed to find it.  Reverence first turned up on my radar when they did a split with Blut Aus Nord, but I have never been able to obtain that split vinyl for a decent price.  Anyway, Reverence began their career with "Winds of North" which is self recorded demo on CDr limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and I have #242.

Reverence's sound is a very traditional vein and comes right in at the tail end of the 90's.  I think Lord Ipes Luciferia put this together during that time frame where one felt the need to distinguish between "true" and "false" Black Metal because in the booklet he states "Fans of false Black Metal; DIE!!!".  To be honest there were times this really made sense, I feel a lot of people that really didn't get the genre started appearing around this time.  To some degree people still don't really understand it, but I feel like this problem was a lot more prevalent back in the early 2000's.  Call me an elitist if you want, but that's honestly how I saw things, and it really stemmed from a general lack of understanding genres as a whole, never mind Black Metal specifically in a lot of cases.

Musically I think "Winds of North" is similar to what bands were producing in the late 90's, with some heavy influence from Satyricon's "Dark Medieval Times".  Ipes Luciferia seemed to use a similar format as Satyricon where they had distinct Black Metal sections then some folk influenced sections.  So needless to say, Reverence doesn't blast their way through this CD, in fact a lot of the tracks come off as rather soothing and calming.  The songs are actually quite well composed and this is actually a great demo in terms of an early Black Metal sound.  However, this is something far too many bands have done before, so I'm not entirely surprised this didn't win over any hearts to Reverence immediately for a larger signing.  But this is where their career really begins and in the end it is actually quite a fine beginning looking back on this.  I still really love the cover of this demo though, even if it is just printed off a home printer.

The recording is definitely well done and of a very high quality for a demo.  You can hear all the instruments and vocals in terms of the mix.  The only complaint I think I have on this end is that the vocals sound a little dry.  If he had just put a little reverb onto them, I think it would have added another nice layer to their atmosphere.  I would definitely recommend checking this out, but it is not nearly as compelling as their modern material.  It is still a good taste of an early Black Metal sound performed quite well.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deathcult (Swi)

Deathcult - Pleading for Death... Choking on Life
Me Saco un Ojo Records, 2014
Genre: Death Metal

1. Endless Ravenous
2. The Drunkard in the Sky

After such an incredible demo I was very excited when I saw Deathcult were releasing some new music. Unfortunately, we only get two new songs from the band, but one is an eleven minute epic. Still after two years I wanted more music, naturally. However, I do prefer a band focus on quality over quantity and if this is what Deathcult are aiming for I'll happily wait longer! These tracks are actually fairly different compared to the demo and I feel like they've cleaned up their sound a lot more, but that works quite well for what we've gotten.

For Deathcult it is still 1989 and they are one of the few bands currently playing that really manage to capture that extremely early Death Metal sound. The music on here is heavily rooted in that early Swedish sound, so fans of early Entombed, Dismember, etc please inquire! Not only is the music written in that vein they've managed to resurrect this old production sound, it's truly amazing. I feel like they went and bought all the old equipment from Sunlight Studios, that's how true to the old sound they are. To really shine on that old time feel they've released this album on a beautiful 12" vinyl with lyric insert. The version I purchased is the red vinyl, even though the other colors were more rare, I felt red was the more appropriate choice for me.

The unbridled chaotic sound from the demo is a lot more controlled on this release, but it really oozes with that special atmosphere bands like Entombed have long given up for their more modern sounds. I can't think of a band currently playing like Deathcult is today, at least not nearly as true to the original sound! The real shining point on this release is "The Drunkard in the Sky", it really hits the atmospheric edge perfectly. I really never thought an eleven minute track in this vein, but Deathcult manage to compose something interesting and crushing.

The release of this comes with a bit of tragedy. This is to be the last recording with D. Virgin Killer on bass, for he has recently passed from cancer. It is a real shame and hopefully the band can find a suitable replacement. This album is dedicated to his memory.

In the end if you truly miss the old days of Death Metal then this is a must hear. They nail every aspect of the sound perfectly and all I can ask is for them to write and record more music! I look forward to whatever Deathcult has in store for us next.

Deathcult - Demo '12
Invictus, 2012
Genre: Death Metal

1. Intro
2. Deathcult
3. Beasts of Faith
4. Deus Bonus Est

It's pretty rare for me to hear new demos where I listen to a sample of an upcoming release and say "I need to get this demo".  I really don't remember how I stumbled upon this project, I think I was looking up the German Deathcult that did a split with Katharsis, but that led me to this incredible Swiss outfit.  When I heard "Beasts of Faith" I realized I had to track this down immediately!  If I remember correctly the first version of this demo was limited to 100 copies and swiftly sold out, I believe I have gotten the in on the second pressing and I don't remember that limitation.  I think the pressings are basically identical.  This comes on a pro-printed tape with a pro booklet and if you think that cover looks like an old school Death Metal cover... Deathcult is everything you expect!

If Deathcult's cover is making you reminisce about the late 80's Swedish Death Metal scene of early Dismember, Entombed and Unleashed then you are definitely feeling the same way I am.  So many bands try to capture the tone and feel of this time period, maybe not for creative purposes, but for the wonderful nostalgic feeling one gets from hearing it.  Unfortunately almost no one have been able to really pull this off very well.  Most bands just sound contrived and come across as pretentious to some degree.  Deathcult is the exception we have all been waiting for.  I am so glad to hear a band like this operating, because I won't be hearing anything from Repugnant again.  Their "Epitome of Darkness" album was my go to place for this old school sound, but it sounds like Deathcult are the successors to that throne!  Deathcult's sound really captures that time frame when people were starting to think beyond Thrash Metal and it was splitting into the different realms of Black and Death Metal.  People weren't quite sure where to go with the genre, all they knew was it needed to be faster and heavier!  Every song has this feel, they have these ultra catchy sections that are stripped right from a Thrash concept, but amped up to give it that extra power.

The production on this demo is not pristine.  Nor should it be.  Deathcult sounds ugly and vicious.  It's recorded just well enough for us to hear all the instruments and understand what's going on.  I would be very disappointed if they put out a full length and their production was cleaner.  With the sound on this demo the production is simply perfect.  It's harsh, it's raw, and it will rip you apart!

Just listen to "Beasts of Faith" below and try to tell me that it doesn't sound like 1990 on there!  Sure, this is nothing new to the scene, but frankly no one does it this good, not since the early days at least.  If you've only been exposed to the more modern days of Metal, I think Deathcult is an excellent band to give you a feel of the earlier days all the older Metal-Heads like myself reminisce about.  The production is probably a bit cleaner than the early tape recorded demo days, so this will likely be more accessible.  I truly hope a full length is in the works and I really can't wait to hear something more from this band.


Cendres - Ungeziefer
Drakkar Productions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. Aliénation
2. Libération de l'Âme
3. Ruine
4. La Troublante Danse du Pendu
5. Ungeziefer

Today we look at the mysterious Cendres.  In an age when information is almost always available about everything  I find nothing about who is involved with Cendres.  It's 2013 as I review this and since 2007 nothing is known, I have the utmost respect for this.  It is quite a challenge to maintain for an extended period of time.  The tape is dubbed, but with a pro-printed booklet which bears the cover above and has the track listing inside along with a thanks to Drakkar.  That is it.  I find this unfortunate because with an artistic piece of this level I wish there was more art to the booklet.  I feel it would only bring the listener deeper into the world of Cendres, but the cover is an excellent choice to represent the type of music the listener is about to be subjected to.

Cendres is definetly a strange piece of musical art and I will be the first to admit it is not for everyone.  First off Cendres is extremely minimalistic in it's composition.  The goal, I believe, is to create a very hypnotic or trance like state of mind while listening to this.  Every song has only one or two riffs, sort of a similar idea to the other very good French project  Edicius.  The major difference here is that Cendres doesn't play with the dynamical variations of a single riff, Cendres insteads lulls the listener into a calm and contemplative state while being subjected to various terrifying elements.  Some of the guitar riffining can take on the dissonant style of the Blut aus Nord's "Mort".  While I wasn't as into "Mort", Cendres application of the style is absolutely magnificent.  The vocals come in your standard Black Metal style but at other times there are very haunting wails scattered throughout the music.  It really blends and brings the listener into the depths of Cendres world.  Finally the album closes with a haunting and beautiful clean guitar section, which ends the experience on such a perfect note.

The production is actually perfect for what this demo is trying to capture.  Things feel extremely dense, while also being somewhat harsh.  The music seems to be recorded just well enough and you can honestly hear everything you need to hear.  The overall density in the production gives the listener a feeling of being crushed under waves as you journey through this recording.

As you can tell I highly recommend checking this out.  It's been a few years since this tape came into existence and I worry that the project will see nothing else and part of me is okay with this.  I feel like Cendres coming out of the shadows and then fading into obscurity is exactly how this project should be, but on the other hand I would really love to hear more music from this project.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Hergorn & Hellveto Split
Nimthoron Promotion, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

Hergorn - Under the Sign of Ancient Gods:
1. Modlitwa Do...
2. Mistyczny Czas Umierania Dusz
3. Krzyk Rozpaczy
4. Taniec Kruka
5. Outro
Hellveto - Burning Kingdoms:
6. Intro
7. Screams of Victory
8. Potęga...
9. Windwinter
10. Czas Płonących Pochodni
11. Outro
12. Stony Pride

Side Hergorn: here
Side Hellveto:

After an excellent performance from Hergorn I was eager to hear what Hellveto had in store for us. The first thing I noticed was that the production quality wasn't up to the more recent higher standards and sounded a lot older. Well this material was apparently recorded back in 1999 according to the booklet, so the sound quality is much closer to the "Horned Sky" style.

So, keeping the fact that this is not new material in mind "Burning Kingdoms" is much darker than the prior releases. The prior material usually has an abundance of majesty amidst the dark atmosphere, but here the atmosphere is much more dense than the other recordings. Strangely, I think this is because the keyboard sections are much heavier this time around. The Black Metal guitar sections really take a back seat in the mix for this album and we are just doused in this level of dense fog from the keyboard section. Even the drums become over-powered at times, but that is actually okay because it gives this material a really different take on the Hellveto sound. This is much more of an Ambient/Black Metal style in my opinion. Given how good L.O.N. is  with arranging keyboard pieces, it actually works quite well and it's interesting to hear this old music resurrected from his vaults. "Stony Pride" is also re-released here from the "Winterforest" demo. It doesn't say anything about it being re-recorded, but it does sound a little stronger than the original release.

If you're a Hellveto fan this is definitely worth checking out because of how interesting the music is. The production could be a little better given the way the songs are structured, but it's just good enough for us to follow what L.O.N. had for ideas and the atmosphere he was creating and that's the most important part.

Hellveto - Hellveto
Nawia Productions, 2001
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. Intro
2. ...In a Dream
3. Black Oak
4. Under the Sign of Thunderbolt
5. Zapomniane Zło
6. Night of Gods
7. Lord of Darkness
8. Outro

After the leap in quality improvement from "Medieval Scream" it is no surprise that Hellveto swiftly returns with it's first official release. I realize this is classed as a demo, but I think of this more as their debut album. One of the things that makes this release so interesting is that most of this is material re-recorded from the first demo with some slight track changes. It omits the two songs "The End" and 'Forgotten Spirit" and instead gives us a new track "Under the Sign of Thunderbolt". Despite this it says in the booklet "All hymns taken from demo '96". So, I'm not sure if I should bother believing the web. I also assume a new "Intro" and "Outro" have been recorded for this release.

Delving this far back into Poland's early Black Metal history has resulted in some truly wonderful music. Recently I've been delving more deeply into the early Polish scene and I realize only a fraction of it made it to my door in the early-90's when I started listening to Black Metal. Things were certainly much harder to deal with globally, because there was no internet around, so hearing about bands was up to 'zines and word of mouth mostly. I think the material on "Hellveto" fits in quite nicely in this early scene. Perhaps the original demo was not as well recorded, but aesthetically this is simply beautiful and would have worked in very nicely alongs the likes of Behemoth, Sacrilegium, Veles, etc. Even back then L.O.N. was doing something quite different and added some good ideas to the genre. I think this is one of the major reasons I'm drawn to Hellveto, nothing else really sounds anything like this! Just listen to the majestic sound evoked during "Lord of Darkness"! It really does give off a truly epic atmosphere. Some of the guitar riffs are primitive by modern standards, but even "Black Oak" manages to set the stage for some wonderful imagery. One of the major stand out tracks on here is the new "Under the Sign of Thunderbolt" whose length and epic nature really stand out on this release.

In the end this is a wonderful debut and I'm really glad L.O.N. decided to revisit this material rather than leaving it lost to the annals of history. It really gives modern listeners some insight into what the emerging Polish scene was producing. A wonderful cassette release on the legendary Nawia Productions. I definitely highly recommend checking this album out and I can't wait to hear what's next.

Hellveto - Medieval Scream
Self-Released, 2000 (Cassette)
Ritual Execution Promotion, 2003 (CD)
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. Intro (Niemy Omen)
2. Słowiańska Wyrocznia
3. Knell Of Darkness
4. Jesienna Modlitwa
5. In Forgotten...
6. W Imię Czarnej Chwały
7. Greater Land
8. Strach Zbudzonych Przestworzy
9. Kurpian Phantom
10. Tears of War
11. Outro (Pogański Zmierzch)

Of all the demos recorded by Hellveto, this is the only one that has seen any kind of repress onto CD. I imagine this is L.O.N.'s favorite of his demo days and that's why we saw this pressed officially on CD. I, unfortunately, do not own the original tape edition of this. When I originally discovered Hellveto, I did not realize this had originally been released on tape, so I never really bothered to seek out the original version.

"Medieval Scream" is, at times, quite the upgrade from "Horned Sky", but I can really hear the difference now between his demo work and even material written three years later. With the re-recorded versions of two tracks from "Horned Sky", namely "In Forgotten..." and "Tears of War", you can really hear the progression in his newer music. The re-recordings are really spectacular and give the songs a much deeper dimension with the higher quality recordings. Songs like "Słowiańska Wyrocznia" stand out quite a bit as higher quality compositions and they really have a strong and evocative edge to them. The more recent compositions have a better blend between the guitar riffs and the atmospheric direction of the project.

The big draw for "Medieval Scream" is the general improvement in recording quality. It really let's the music shine through a lot more than his prior releases. The subtle changes of atmosphere between the guitars and keyboards are far easier to see now. Hopefully this is a good sign for future recordings, because this is a very difficult style to pull off seamlessly. L.O.N. seems to constantly be improving his sound, so I'll keep listening to see what comes next.

Hellveto - Horned Sky
Nawia Productions, 1999
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. Black Tear
2. Raventhrone
3. Time of the Ancient War
4. The Sword of Tryglaw
5. Łowy
6. Masacra in the Dream
7. Silence of the Forgotten Ages
8. Night of My Dying Soul
9. Winter
10. Dark Icetime

Another year brings us another Hellveto demo. This time it's finally getting published through Nawia Productions, who also produced Hate Forests demo "Scythia". So, some legendary bands have gone through this label. Hellveto demos probably qualify as outright albums and I would honestly treat "Horned Sky" as the debut album, since it's the first one professionally made.

Due to the professional printing of the booklet, I did expect the music to be done a little better. Compared to "Winterforest" this material is much better. I think L.O.N. has learned a lot about how to engineer his music, because the sound quality is much better. He's also getting a lot more elaborate with the keyboard work, but it's not as seamlessly blended with the guitar work as later Hellveto works will become. On this recording I feel like I can hear the Norwegian Viking Metal style far more prominently than before. There are some sections that distinctly remind me of early Enslaved, where some parts remind me of Einherjer. The Graveland influence is fairly apparent and I think Hellveto is more closely related to that project than any other. While L.O.N. continues to retain that very epic feel to his music, I thought this album turned out to be a lot more relaxing than some of the prior material. The album has a lot of beautiful and lite textures to it, giving it more of a sombre quality than you'd expect from a Black Metal. At least that's true for the first half of this album, because when we get into "Masacra in the Dream" we are immediately assaulted with blasting Black Metal. But this is only brief and the second half of this album settles in with the rest of the material.

Despite the "Black Tear," "Łowy" and "Dark Icetime", keyboards aren’t used on every song; they’re actually used with a fair amount of moderation.  They seem to be used at just the right moments, showing how adept of a songwriter L.O.N. actually is.  When it comes to the Black Metal aspect do not expect some insane blasting Black Metal from Hellveto, but you will get some majestic and very powerful sounding Pagan Black Metal.  Honestly, I’ve never heard a band represent Pagan Black Metal as well as Hellveto.  Many will probably say “but what about Nokturnal Mortum” at this point, but a lot of their “pagan” aspects merely come from the ethnic instruments they use.  Hellveto doesn’t really use that many ethnic instruments as far as I can tell, but somehow comes across with this supremely majestic sound, and one can’t help but think of ancient battles!  It’s sort of like Graveland in that respect.  There are some beautiful clean guitar passages throughout the album and they are, as usual, placed at just the right moments.  I really don’t hear much influence from other bands, except the first part of “The Sword of Tryglaw” sounds akin to Satyricon’s “Dark Medieval Times,” but then that quickly falls away after the first riff sequence is done.  It would seem Hellveto have managed to find a sound all their own amidst all the rip off bands and he did it with just the usual instruments, nothing fancy by any means.

In the end Hellveto treat us to another epic release with some very beautiful passages. I find that Hellveto doesn't really compose songs that are heavily distinguishable, but instead crafts albums with an entire aesthetic. I think this kind of composition works for the project, except that it is quite hard to discuss for me. I quite enjoyed this demo and I think Hellveto is heading in the right direction. I really look forward to see if more improvements are going to be made. I think aspects of the recording process are still a bit more on the raw side than makes sense for this style, but I know this gets fixed as time goes on.

Hellveto - Winterforest
Self-Released, 1998
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. First Battle
2. Night of God
3. Ancient Statue
4. I am the Last
5. The Way of My Ancestors
6. Tears of War
7. In Forgotten
8. Stony Pride
9. Second Battle
10. Glory

It's time to start working on one of the larger discographies in my collection.  I can't seem to find the first version of the self titled demo anywhere, so I'm giving up and starting of with "Winterforest".  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to own a copy of this either and I am stuck with downloaded mp3's in 128kbps.  It sounds okay in that format, but I would've preferred to do my own digital transfer like I usually do with my demo tapes... plus then my readers get a larger cover to look at.

"Winterforest" is the second effort in what would turn out to be a highly productive career.  Some say too productive, with multiple full lengths per year, but for me as long as LON keeps up the quality in writing, I don't mind being very productive.  Despite having a lacking in quality I can't help but think that this is a relatively fresh sound.  Sure all the elements have been used before, but Hellveto just has an extremely different feel and approach to writing music.  Due to the recording quality the music feels pretty raw and the guitars are very thin sounding, but the compositions are extremely epic in sound.  There is heavy use of keyboards and to a degree they do drive the music, but not in a typical Symphonic Black Metal way, it's very hard to explain why exactly this runs against the conventional wisdom about heavily keyboard laden bands.  LON has figured out how to blend keyboards and guitar together in a way where they enhance each other in such a way that you don't feel you've lost anything while listening to the music.  Another interesting thing LON does is he doesn't use any traditional folk instruments, but there is no illusion that this is Pagan Black Metal, the music is just that epic.  He doesn't even really use acoustic guitar, he just uses clean electric guitars.

The only way this music suffers is from the production.  Things aren't mixed as well as they could be and sometimes the vocals sound a little weird to me.  There isn't any effect on the vocals like reverb so it feels exceptionally raw.  As I mentioned above the guitars do sound a little thin for the recordings and if this was more of a real studio setting, I'm sure it would have come out differently.  The drums are actually fairly well recorded though and I was impressed by that.

LON is clearly an incredible musician.  Hellveto being a one man project and he's able to write with such clarity is impressive with all the instruments.  This is a band I definitely highly recommend checking out if you have the chance.  If you managed to get a copy of this original demo, consider yourself very lucky!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Neige et Noirceur

Neige et Noirceur - Pour te Dire la Fin
Self-Released, 2005
Genre: Gothic, Ambient, Black Metal?

1. Veneris Dies
2. Spica
3. Il Pendolo di Foucalt
4. Sambati Dies
5. Spectrum
6. Novembrae
7. Pour te Dire la Fin

Usually I'm fairly disappointed when I miss out on getting demos from bands I like, but after listening to this I am really glad I heard this band in their later incarnation.  I actually think this demo was pretty terrible.  In the interest of full disclosure I was only able to find mp3's of this demo and they were ripped at 128kbps, which is unfortunate because a higher quality would be desirable.  I don't think it really would affect my review much anyway, because my problems aren't with the recording quality, it's really with the songs as a whole.

I guess all projects need to begin somewhere and some just start off with a terrible beginning.  I think this happened with Neige et Noireceur.  I really love their later albums, so I've been trying to track down the early recordings in case there are some hidden gems I missed out on really.  We are not off to a good start with this recording.  The Ambient and the Black Metal are extremely seperate ideas for the majority of this release.  The "metal" songs on this album have a far more gothic bent to them than anything else.  Honestly, I really question my genre listing up above, there really isn't enough Black Metal on here to call it such.  The majority of the vocals aren't even harsh, most of the vocals involve clean singing.  When he does use harsh vocals they are so overwhelming in the mix and distorted I wish he would stop doing them.  I suppose the clean vocal work isn't too bad, but it just makes the music feel like he's trying to play something nice and sombre rather than dark and sinister.  I don't necessarily dislike the former when it's done right, but I much prefer the latter.  I get the impression that there is some influence from newer Bethlehem material going on here, which is an example of how I like things to be done.  I just don't think Zifond managed to really capture something similar.

The production is okay for a first demo.  I definitely appreciate the fact that real drums were used, which goes to show that Zifond is quite a well rounded musician.  The only recording aspect that didn't turn out well  were the vocals.  The harsh vocals are way too loud in the mix and they are also heavily distorted in parts, so it makes it all the more annoying to listen to.  The clean vocals are okay, they're very monotone though, but at least they are mixed better than the harsh vocals.

In the end this is really the type of demo I think you can skip.  I don't think current fans of Neige et Noirceur would be interested in the material here, unless my description above sounds appealing.  I, personally, just couldn't get into the music and I found it very boring to listen to.  I will say I enjoyed the final track quite a bit, but I'm going to post "Il Pendolo di Foucault", because I think it is a better representative of the overall sound on this demo.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Omnia Orta Cadunt

Omnia Orta Cadunt - Let There be Darkness
Art of Anticreation Releases, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Masturbating YHVH
2. Golems of Satan
3. Bloodlust
4. Creperum Noctis Aeternis
5. Hail Diktator!
6. Thy World Becometh Thy Grave

Due to the fact that this is clearly a fairly obscure Russian band I am not going to have much hope of finding the release prior to this one.  This is the second opus from Omnia Orta Cadunt and judging by the name of the label I thought they would have something to do with Ithdabquth Qliphoth.  Indeed Carnifex was involved with that group under the name Xefinrakh.  This was only released on cassette and has a nice glossy pro-printed booklet.  This is limited to 80 hand-numbered copies and I have copy 31.

In some respects I will say that if you enjoyed the music from Ithdabquth Qliphoth then you will probably enjoy this music as well.  They're not entirely similar, but you can certainly hear where elements cross over between the two projects.  Omnia Orta Cadunt's music is a little more traditional with respect to Black Metal, but it does have some very passionate lead sections on the guitar.  I would have sort of expected a completely raw and harsh project, but the music on this actually turned out pretty well.  Carnifex definitely has a good head for writing songs that blend intensity and melody together.  There is one Ambient track on here called "Creperum Noctis Aeternis" and it is absolutely spectacular.  I would honestly want to hear more of this from Carnifex.  It's very dark and haunting, which is perfect for what I would like to hear.  Strangely it's also very simple in construction, but really works for generating that haunting atmosphere.

Everything is mixed very well and, honestly, I wish Ithdabquth Qliphoth's self titled used the recording method on here.  I think it would have made that album far more outstanding because there was a lot of really great ideas on that.  Omnia Orta Cadunt, I'm fairly sure are using programmed drums, but I never find them overly distracting like in some projects.  I would certainly prefer programmed drums to no drums as with Ithdabquth Qliphoth's self-titled.

I usually don't talk about lyrics and beliefs of bands much.  But for others that may own this I think I should offer some explanation for what I see in this book.  Black Metal is basically considered the most extreme genre of music and lends itself to ideaologies that can be quite on the fringe.  So things like Theistic Satanism, Nazism, Atheism, and intolerance for various things is quite the norm.  Sometimes I run into things where I think bands are trying to be extreme for the sake of being extreme even if they do believe some of the things they say.  I think Omnia Orta Cadunt is basically doing this to some degree.  Inside the booklet you will find this image:

Here we see strange statements like "This tape is dedicated to Satanic Saints of XX century.  Hail Diktators!"  I find this pretty confusing, since I think he's referring to people like Hitler and Stalin, but neither of those guys were Satanic.  Hitler was Christian and Stalin supported an atheistic regime.  Second we see "Special thanx to Unholy warriors of Jihad.  Bless you Allah!"  This sort of explains the crescent moon in the picture and this line is basically why I think he's being extreme for the sake of being extreme.  I think there's a reaction to be evoked and maybe he is really targeting Muslims in this.  I figure that he's supporting the concepts of chaos and death, which is resulting from Muslim extremists around the world.  This certainly falls in line with the misanthropic ideals found throughout Black Metal.  We turn the booklet and see "Support 14 Words Propaganda in Black Metal!" Written above, I assume, is the 14 words written in something like Futhark.  This certainly explains the swastika  but really tells me this person doesn't actually support Islamic ideals and is just trying to evoke a reaction from them.  The only reason I didn't label this as NS Black Metal is because there are two songs with printed lyrics and I didn't believe they really had a political bent to them at all.  So, it really doesn't matter what Carnifex believes individually, his music does not take on that kind of ethos.

While there is nothing terribly new to the genre, I still found this to be a worthwhile listen.  Despite saying extreme things for the sake of being extreme, I didn't think this had much bearing on the music.  Perhaps being Black Metal is extreme enough in nature, but it wasn't a major aspect, so the art was confusing.  Let's ignore the art and just enjoy the music.  I leave you with the best song on the album and also their closing track "The World Becomes Thy Grave"

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Horna - Varjoissa
Self-Released, 1995
Genre: Black Metal

1. Hel
2. Praconium
3. Surun Ikuistama Henki
4. Varjoissa
1994 Rehearsal:
5. Yksin Ikuinen
6. Poltettu

While I enjoy a lot of Horna's material, I really think this is one of the bands where I never actually own all of their material.  Despite their massive discography, I did manage to get a hold of their original demo.  This was limited to 150 copies and has a small copied cover with a lyrics sheet insert, which is separate from the packaging.  I'm actually not completely sure if I have the real demo since the tape I have has two extra songs on it.  These two songs I've managed to identify as rehearsal tracks from 1994.

You can be certain this is an extremely raw demo recording.  Being a Black Metal band at this early stage means their music is very primitive.  I think at this time in history Finland was mostly looking at what Norway and Sweden were producing and drawing a lot of influence from there, except for Beherit, of course.  Horna definitely seem to be drawing influence from the Norwegian scene like early Emperor recordings or even some early Swedish groups like Marduk or Dark Funeral when those bands were still relatively unknown.  It really isn't until a little later that Finland really had their own signature sound to me.  This is one of the things I love about Black Metal and why I enjoy listening to some really early material, you can really tell what region influenced bands!

It is interesting to listen to the rehearsal tracks because they do have a very different feel.  The two tracks from 1994 have a much worse recording quality, as expected, but the pace of the songs is a bit slower.  "Poltettu" is a lot faster than "Yksin Ikuinen", but it has this clean section that is really different compared to the rest of the demo tracks.  The rehearsal tracks certainly have some really great ideas, but I can see why though wouldn't have fit on the more vicious sounding demo.  Although, the song "Varjoissa" is quite good and that is a little slower than the other songs.

Another interesting thing is that the names of the musicians listed on the demo have changed over time.  Skald is now known as Shatraug and Hyarn became Mordehel.  I'm sure why their names changed, but when I first opened up the booklet it made me wonder if there were no original Horna members left.  After some research I was happy to see that Shatraug was involved, since I was under the impression he formed the band in the first place!

Anyway, this is a wonderful piece of history.  Horna have yet to become a major force in Black Metal, but it is great to hear what was coming out of a fledgling Finnish scene at this time.  You can certainly hear the ideas brewing amidst the harsh recording and tortured vocals.


Graupel - Als der Nebel...
Sombre Records, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Graupel
3. Seelenkampf
4. Zwergennacht
5. Ringgeister
6. Kriegerherz

Unfortunately I missed out on Graupel's first demo version on CD, but I was lucky enough to track down the tape re-release.  This ended up transferring over pretty well for a tape release.  I'm sure the booklet was minimized down quite a bit from the original CD demo.

"Als der Nebel..." is a fairly harsh and vicious demo.  Some of that harshness is due to the production.  The one complaint I probably really have is that the distortion on the guitars is way too fuzzy.  I think this is to the point where it does take away from the songs a little bit.  While I will love Graupel's later releases, I don't really love their demo.  I'm not sure they've really hit their stride in the composition department yet.  The songs aren't outright terrible, but I feel they are uninteresting to me.  It is just very standard Black Metal played in a fairly late 90's vein.  Sometimes the guitar arrangement will have a flair of interest, but then it swiftly disappears.  One song has really stand out riffs though and that is "Ringgeister".  There's a riff in there that just really hooks the listener in, but a lot of it is very typical Black Metal.

The production isn't too bad.  You can basically hear everything that's going on, but it really could be better overall.  The drums can get sort of lost in the mix and I think the guitars are a little too loud in the mix.  This is probably what contributes a lot to their fuzzy tone.

I was curious to hear where Graupel started out before they transformed into the excellent band they are today.  This demo probably won't really blow anyone away, but it's worth checking out if you are a big Graupel fan.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Svartkrig - Fimbulvetr
Drakkar Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Fimbulvetr
3. Funeral Raid on Christiandom
4. At the Gates of Nestrandir
5. Sons of the One-Eyed
6. The Battle of Vigrid Began
7. Falling on the Battlefield

Here's one of the more baffling things I've come across.  Here is the band Svartkrig and don't be fooled by their name, they're from France!  According to Metal-Archives this is also the only band with this name.  I find that incredibly shocking for some reason... I feel like this would be an immediate go-to name for the Scandinavian countries.  Anyway, this tape is limited to an unknown amount of hand-numbered copies and I have copy 277.  It's a dubbed tape with a pro-printed booklet.

Svartkrig play a very raw form of Black Metal.   Through the very harsh production, I get the impression this band is performing a style that is similar in feel to the early 90's french acts.  I would even say it is similar to some of the material being produced by the LLN when they were still quite active.  Sometimes the brilliance of the musicians can really shine through the recording quality, but I don't think Svartkrig ever did for me.  They sound like a fine band, but that's all.  They're not incredible, they're good at what they do, but nothing really captured my attention like some other bands manage.  The one song that really stood out to me was "At the Gates of Nestrandir" and I thought this was quite an excellent song overall.  I think if most of the tracks had this kind of writing I would've found the demo a lot more appealing.

If your really into raw and under-produced Black Metal you may find Svartkrig worth checking out.  For me their songs weren't good enough to keep my interest.  The recording quality is just good enough and you can hear all the instrumentation enough to understand what's going on.  Sometimes this production can give the band even more of a harsh atmosphere, but I feel like it's just in the way of what Svartkrig is trying to do.  It's not like Moonblood where they really shine with this kind of production.

In the end, here's a sample in case someone likes this material more than me.  This probably isn't going to be something I listen to much.  Hopefully this helped someone find a new band they enjoy either way!

Death Fortress

Death Fortress - Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable
Fallen Empire Records, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. King's Blood
2. Arrogant Force
3. Fifth Season
4. Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable
5. Pride of the Enslaver
6. Ancestor's Call

Huge changes have taken place in the ranks of Death Fortress and now they boast a full line-up. Rather than this being a mere solo project, a new bassist and drummer join the ranks and it really does fill out the sound a bit more. At the end of "Mirror Into Eternity" I wanted to see the band push the Hate Forest sound a bit further and I think they've managed to, essentially, do this on "Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable." This release comes as a beautiful 12" LP and contains a lyrical insert. The cover is absolutely stunning and is very reminiscent of an Aliens sort of art theme. Not precisely an H.R. Giger clone, because the film really extended the image of the Aliens, but the Death Fortress looks more like the Alien hive concept which we saw in the films. Strangely this music isn't very Alien themed.

Don't worry, the Hate Forest core sound is definitely still alive and well in Death Fortress, they've just built upon that core and extended the range of that general concept. They've added some layers of complexity, as we can hear in the title track. I think working with a full band affords them the ability to experiment with this a little more. I really do love hearing live drums behind the material, it's something that I think would have rounded out the Hate Forest sound so well, and also why I really love that split with Ildjarn. They really do an excellent balance between that harsh and hateful sound Hate Forest produces and some of the more melodic atmospheres in Black Metal. The great part about the atmospheric edges is that they didn't just blend in some Drudkh material, they blended other types of elements in. So, the Hate Forest still retain that hateful majesty in their overall presentation, but then the band builds in their own sort of atmospheric blend from other areas of the genre giving the music sort of its own feel. With the new bassist also handling some of the vocal parts we get a much more dynamic vocal performance as well. With J's incomprehensible lows mimicking the Hate Forest style and T having a more mid-range quality behind his voice. It really breaks up the monotonous vocal performance of the prior albums, but was also a staple of the Hate Forest sound. I really do like having this kind of variation and, as I said before, really helps round out the sound making the experience a lot more full.

This is basically what I was hoping the band would do at this point. Keeping a core atmosphere, while rounding it out and exploring more fringe elements to blend into the style. I think Death Fortress are really starting to come into their own with this release. They're offering a lot more than just a Hate Forest clone experience with the debut full-length. I think a lot of people out there will find this to be a very compelling release. So, if you're curious what other direction the Hate Forest sound could have gone in, rather than the Blood of Kingu route, check out Death Fortress, you will not be disappointed.

Death Fortress - Mirror Into Eternity
Fallen Empire Records, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Asceticism Anorexia
2. Within the Fortress
3. Master-Deceiver
4. Desolate Earth Temple
5. Death Continuum
6. Mirror Into Eternity

Shortly after the split with Axis of Light, Death Fortress return with this cassette EP. Even though this is classed as an EP, don't be fooled, there is over thirty minutes of music to enjoy. This is about as long as Hate Forest full-length and with this we are really able to immerse ourselves in Death Fortress' sound. This is the experience I have been missing whenever I just get teased by the single or two track release from bands like this "Mirror Into Eternity" seeks to slake our thirst for a deeper and more encompassing experience.

If you love the Hate Forest albums "Sorrow" and "Purity", this is the kind of follow-up you've been waiting years for. It's extremely well done in that style and I certainly enjoy it for what it is. There aren't enough bands out there performing like this, in my opinion. The only thing with Death Fortress is that it's such a precise version, that I'm hoping this project will actually advance the Hate Forest style. Now that they've truly mastered it and shown they can compose on a level as high as "Sorrow" and "Purity" consistently, I want to see them push boundaries in this style rather than just releasing another "Sorrow" album.

Now that I feel my thirst has been slaked for some Ukrainian Black Metal worship, I want to see what Death Fortress can do next. This is an excellent EP, but it doesn't deviate from the Hate Forest formula very much, which is the only complaint I can see being raised towards this. Sometimes I don't mind worship bands if its in a particular style that I enjoy and isn't overdone, so that's probably why I've been enjoying the Death Fortress material, whereas I can't bother with Emperor clones very much, because that is copied way too often. Either way, if you miss the good old days when Hate Forest was an active project this EP is probably something that will entertain you to some degree.

Axis of Light & Death Fortress
Mordgrimm, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

Axis of Light:
1. Illuminating the Temple / Secrets of the Tomb
Death Fortress:
2. From the Immortal Thrones

Axis of Light: ...coming eventually...
Death Fortress:

I didn't get "Pulling Ancient Stone" too far after it's release, but I turn around for a few minutes and suddenly I'm missing out on three releases from Death Fortress. The solo project focusing on Hate Forest worship continues on with one more track for this split released on cassette once again. It's kind of incredibly how perfectly this band has harnessed the Hate Forest sound. The guitar tone is ultra-thick and heavy sounding, but it also has this sort of soaring majestic quality. The only major difference is I feel like elements of the Drudkh's future style was present in the Hate Forest feel, but with Death Fortress, at least this song, it has more of a dissonant feel to it blended in as well. The soaring majesty shows up from time to time, which is wonderful, but I Death Fortress is building even further on the Hate Forest sound as well. Like "Pulling Ancient Stone" it's just not enough music. I feel like the Hate Forest style has a rather expansive quality where you really need a full-length to be drawn into what the musician is truly after. So, after a single track, I'm just left wanting more. I'm sure that day will come, after all, Death Fortress really is just starting out. However, what this project is pulling off is actually quite wonderful!

Death Fortress - Pulling Ancient Stone
Fallen Empire Records, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Eternal Enemies
2. Pulling Ancient Stone

After the mighty Ukrainian project Hate Forest was put to rest, they packed their bags and moved to New Jersy in the U.S.  Now under the new moniker Death Fortress they have returned with this two song demo.  Well not really, everyone knows Drudkh is going strong for the Ukrainians, but Death Fortress really is the continuation of where Hate Forest left off.  You certainly won't hear me complaining about this, I truly miss Hate Forest's signature sound and this one man project has really managed to capture it nearly perfectly.  I've tried listening to some of J's other projects, but they really didn't interest me much, so I'm hoping he'll continue to work on this one more.

Death Fortress somehow managed to capture that beautiful blend of intensity and majesty that Hate Forest was so good at crafting.  Under normal conditions I think I would be less impressed with a band mimicking another this closely, but let's be honest.  Hate Forest is one of my favorite bands and I haven't heard an original release like it since 2005, so I'm pretty pleased someone has decided to continue the Hate Forest legacy in some fashion.  J's writing is up there with "Sorrow", but I think the production is similar to the early days like "Scythia".  It certainly makes for a bit of an interesting blend, but it works out fine.  I don't think J's vocal performance is as clean sounding as Hate Forest, this is unfortunate because during "Eternal Enemies" there is a part where just the guitar is playing in the right channel and the vocals kick in for the center and it just doesn't sound that great.  When the full production kicks in any of the poor sounding tonal qualities is overtaken.

This comes on a dubbed tape with stickers on either side and has a pro-printed booklet.  The booklet only has art on one side, which is sad.  My friend and I have both purchased copies of this tape and I think there were some serious copying issues with it.  Luckily side A and B are exactly the same.  Anyway, both of our copies have a messed up portion of the tape so one song is unlistenable.  Between the two sides we at least have the full demo.  So if you happen to pick up a copy of this tape and it has issues, don't be alarmed... I'm pretty sure something went wrong.  My friend and I purchased the tape from totally different locations, so that's why I'm thinking it might be the tape itself.

So, if you're a die hard Hate Forest fan, I can't recommend Death Fortress enough.  I truly hope this project will go beyond only two songs and a full length will at some point surface.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dark Storm

Dark Storm - Hell Satan Blasphemy
Ashen Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Pentagram
2. Satanic Legion
3. Armageddon Descent
4. Hymn to Hell
5. Summon the Infernal Lord
6. Salvation 666
7. Warriors of Domination

This is, sadly, Dark Storm's final release. Vlad Blasphemer tragically died at the age of 41 in 2015, which certainly put an end to this project. I'm not entirely sure if there was another Dark Storm album coming, because the project was totally silent in the years up until his death. "Hell Satan Blasphemy" also has a strange circumstance involving its release. This material was actually recorded prior to "Infernal Tyrant" so it has a more raw feel to the recording. This stuff was recorded all the way back in 2003 and it didn't see the light of day until now.

The interesting thing concerning these two releases is how different they can sound. "Infernal Tyrant" has a lot more groove infused riffing than "Hell Satan Blasphemy". This album certainly has its catchy sections, but I think this album is a lot more straight forward, which has the effect of it hitting harder than "Infernal Tyrant" in a lot of ways. Until we get to the song "Hymn to Hell", which has a clear Mayhem influence, but it's a far slower tune than the rest of the album. This album is mostly an intense album with the band blasting through every track, but somehow they manage to keep it interesting and vary everything up enough to keep it interesting. It's got everything you'd want in a traditional Black Metal atmosphere, so as with "Infernal Tyrant", many will cry "generic", but I still enjoyed the album. It's hard to not enjoy good riffs even if it's all similar to things you've heard from other bands.

So, if you're looking for a band that captures the spirit of the old days perfectly with more modern production values then Dark Storm do a stellar job of bringing you exactly that atmosphere. It's vicious, violent, and fast, but that's everything I want out of a straight forward Black Metal project and there's little more I could ask for. Even though this material was composed and recorded before "Infernal Tyrant" I think I actually enjoy it more. "Hell Satan Blasphemy" just feels like a much more intense journey.

Dark Storm - Infernal Tyrant
Agonia Records, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. For Throne
2. Wrath of Satan
3. Sons of Apocalypse
4. Prince's Seam
5. Triumph of Horned Beast
6. Infernal Tyrant
7. Return of His Majesty
8. Black Satanic Propaganda

Out of nowhere Dark Storm got picked up by Agonia Records and started releasing some of the best material they've ever made. "Infernal Tyrant" is where this band starts to really take off for me. This is also the most stable the line-up has ever been, so that may have been a contributing factor.

I think Blasphemer has done a good job this time around of not making this project sound too similar to Maniac Butcher. "Infernal Tyrant" sounds like it has its own overall sound and while the only thing most people will complain about is that is might sound "generic", but I don't care about that when it sounds quite good. "Infernal Tyrant" is a straight forward Black Metal album played in the vein of Darkthrone meets Dark Funeral. The real problem is that even though I think they did a great job on this with a lot of killer songs, it's still been done by countless other bands already. I think that's where Dark Storm sort of got lost in the release race. I could see a lot of people passing this up for whatever new thing came out in the year this was released. Personally, I'm glad I picked this up when it came out and while I may not have this in constant rotation, whenever I do put the album on I certainly enjoy it for what it is.

So if you like your Black Metal infused with a dose of old school groovier riffing amidst the punishing blast sections, then "Infernal  Tyrant" might find a place in your collection. Sure, it may not be revolutionary, but if you like your Black Metal traditional sounding and well written, then this album will not be a waste of your time.

Dark Storm - The Early Years
Unisound Records, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Trial with All Gods
3. Emperor's Vengeance
4. Vatican in Flames
5. Svata Krev
6. The Shedding of Holy Blood
7. War
8. Victory
9. The Rebirth
10. Dark Storm
11. Satan has Already Risen
12. In Nomine

If you missed out on the earliest Dark Storm recordings and are a real big fan of the project then this compilation is definitely something worth checking out. This compilation covers the first three releases from Dark Storm up to "Four Lučan Emperors", but the tracks go in reverse order of when the stuff was released.

It's kind of funny listening to this right after the split with Apolokia and realizing how much better the new line-up is. "The Early Years" aren't bad, but the project has certainly come a long way in its song writing prowess. The only thing really missing from a compilation like this is the two tapes "Arrival of the Evil" and "Possessed by Satan". I really wish they had included these on here, because it would have been nice to have those pressed to CD in some fashion. But those were more recent releases, so maybe the band didn't think they would fit. I sort of wonder if there's been some type of remastering of these songs, because they sound much more powerful than their original versions. The first demo is still kind of terrible though... which is all the more reason I wish the last two demo tapes were put onto CD.

Either way you look at it, it's nice to have some of these put onto CD and hear the early days of Dark Storm, because they sounded quite different years ago. They started off as overly simplistic and primitive Black Metal and have come quite a long way to their split with Apolokia, but this is a common journey for many Black Metal bands out there. Nonetheless, it's still fun to take this journey every now and again as a listener.

Apolokia & Dark Storm Split
Sombre Records, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

Apolokia: In Ceremonial Circles
1. Infinite Warscream
2. Cemetary Shrines
3. Thy Eye and Claw of Evil
4.In Ceremonial Circles
Dark Storm: Kult Satan
5. Kult Satan
6. Infernal Desecration
7. Eternal Flame of Hell
8. Thy Unholy Light
9. In the Sign of Blasphemy

Side Apolokia: ...coming eventually...
Side Dark Storm:

Dark Storm return to official printings with this 12" vinyl split with the excellent Apolokia. This is pressed by the legendary Sombre Records and probably one of their last releases. It's limited to 350 copies. As with all Dark Storm releases, we have some major line-up changes once again. This time Vlad has given up the drum throne to return to guitars and hands it over to their new drummer Butcher. Vlad did a good job on drums but it is clear that Butcher is a far more skilled musician behind this instrument.

For me this is where Dark Storm really begins to take off. The songs feel so much more cohesive and intense. They also sound quite a bit different from Maniac Butcher. I mean the guitar tone and such is still pretty similar, but the overall feel is a bit different. Dark Storm manage to create some wonderful dark and vicious intensity in their approach to Black Metal. The recording quality, while much better, still manages to have that excellent balance between sounding raw and primitive while still having all the instruments present in the mix. This is an extremely good split with solid performance by both bands and anyone who was able to snag a copy of this is quite lucky.

Dark Storm - Possessed by Satan
Black Bunker, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Possessed by Satan
2. I am Black Emperor
3. Sacrifice in the Name of Fire
4. Last Day of Light
5. Ritual
6. War with Heaven (Total Black Version) (Törr cover)
7. Praise the Satan
8. Infernal Desire

It's actually been a few years since we've heard from Dark Storm and they're still working in the realms of the demo days. As with "Arrival of the Evil" this demo was originally self-released limited to 500 copies, but I have the re-release from Black Bunker with pro-printed cover limited to 100 hand-numbered copies of which I have #44.

Also, as with all the other Dark Storm releases there have been some line-up changes, which actually makes a bit of sense given the time span between releases. In this case though Devilish and Vlad have stuck around and they worked with a new guitarist called Lord Storm. Despite the new guitarist it still lists all music by Vlad, so who knows how much musical input this guitarist had. This demo still sounds quite a bit different from the other releases even if Vlad did compose the music. It still favors the tremolo picked riffs very heavily, but it doesn't have the catchier sections of "Arrival of Evil". This is more of a straight forward fast Black Metal composition similar to Maniac Butcher, but some of the riffs feel a bit more somber than what we normally hear from that project. Dark Storm seems to work through this stuff really fast though this demo was recorded and mixed in a mere 12 hours.

Now that Dark Storm has put out some new material, I wonder if we will hear from them more often as we did when the project first started. I assume Maniac Butcher is taking up a lot of Vlad's time as that project has always been very prolific in releasing material since it first began. It seems like Dark Storm also has trouble keeping a solid line-up, so hopefully a more stable version of this project will appear.

Dark Storm - Arrival of the Evil
Black Bunker, 1997
Genre: Black Metal

1. Arrival of the Evil
2. Kingdom of the Blind
3. Gate of Hell
4. Remains of Christian Places
5. I am God
6. In Nomine Satanas
7. Deathcrush (Mayhem cover)

After the "Four Lučan Emperors" I was surprised to see Dark Storm return to the demo days. This was originally self released in 1997, but I have a later repress by Black Bunker which has a pro-printed cover and layout. The first tape was limited to 500 copies, but this edition is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies and I own #35.

Dark Storm has gone through a massive line-up change since the last release. The only remaining original member is Vlad on the drums. Here we have a new vocalist, guitarist, and bassist. I assume Barbarud Hrom wanted to focus on Maniac Butcher for the most part, so here we have Devilish take over and he sounds somewhat similar. He favors the shrieking style of Black Metal vocals that Barbarud is well known for. With a new guitarist and bassist I'm surprised how similar it still sounds to Maniac Butcher, however there are moments that make this distinctly different such as in the song "Gate of Hell". That song has a lot more groove than I remember Maniac Butcher material having. So, it's good to see some general differentiation between the two projects. With the prior EP there was probably just too much overlap between the projects, so it was hard for anything to stand out as being different.

This is a cool little demo showcasing the new line-up for about 20 minutes. They even included a re-recorded version of the early song "In Nomine Satanas" and with this tone and drum arrangement it sounds way more Black Metal. The close the album with a classic cover of Mayhem's "Deathcrush", which sounds great amidst this very primitive production. If you're a fan of these kinds of old school sounding Black Metal then it's worth tracking down this demo if you can get your hands on it.

Dark Storm - Four Lučan Emperors
View Beyond Records, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Trial with All Gods
3. Emperors' Vengeance
4. Vatican in Flames
5. Svatá krev
6. The Shedding of Holy Blood

This is Dark Storm's first release on CD and I actually wound up having the cassette version of this release. Someday I'll probably go and track down the CD format, which is the format I tend to prefer. As usual, with old releases like this I'm sure there's a limitation that existed, but nothing is listed in the booklet.

After hearing the split with Maniac Butcher I was looking forward to the more Black Metal style of Dark Storm. It's interesting to note that Vlad didn't play guitar on this recording, instead he just played drums and yet the music sounds incredibly similar to Maniac Butcher. Not that I can complain both projects sound pretty good at this point in their careers and, for me, this is that classic Czech Black Metal sound that would permeate into a lot of other bands. They've certainly come a long way in a short span of time from the first demo. Basically, if you liked the material found on "Black Horns of Saaz" this is a much fuller release in that style. As before its raw and primitive sounding, which is perfect for what it is. Granted none of this is anything that special and it's going to be a couple albums before Dark Storm release really stellar stuff, but its fun delving into the early years of these bands, regardless of how lackluster the old material is.

The first release beyond the demo tape level came out pretty good as far as I'm concerned. This is still in the very early days of the Czech Black Metal scene so its cool seeing where the fire spreads from the few bands that are involved at this point in time.

Maniac Butcher & Dark Storm - Black Horns of Saaz
View Beyond Records, 1995
Genre: Black Metal

Maniac Butcher:
1. Barbarians
Dark Storm:
2. War
3. Victory

Side Maniac Butcher: here
Side Dark Storm:

As I mentioned on the Maniac Butcher side of things, I only have the re-released picture 7" from 2003 limited to 100 copies. I also missed out on the prior split that happened in between with a multitude of other bands. However the song "Victory" from Dark Storm was their only contribution to that tape, so I didn't miss out on any of the Dark Storm material in between.

As with Maniac Butcher, Dark Storm has had a drastic shift in their sound. Instead of playing the more Death Metal style of before, they've switched over to full on Black Metal. The truly bizarre thing about these projects is that Vlad is the musician writing for both projects and both projects now feature their new vocalist Barbarud Hrom. So... they basically sound the same. Sure they have different drummers and bassists, but the core music sounds, basically, the same. Normally this might be annoying, but I quite like the music, so it's fine by me that these projects are very similar. I think Vlad just wanted to play drums on one of his own projects. Like the Maniac Butcher side Dark Storm now play very thinned out primitive Black Metal, which they are far better at performing than Death Metal. I'm glad to see them quickly switch, because unlike Darkthrone their Death Metal wasn't really any good. Their Black Metal is far superior, so if you enjoy primitive and thinned out Black Metal, then this is definitely worth checking out!

Dark Storm - In Nomine Dark Storm
Pussy God Records, 1994
Genre: Death Metal

1. The Rebirth
2. Dark Storm
3. Satan has Already Risen
4. In Nomine...

Dark Storm formed around the same time as Maniac Butcher, but could never gain the same level of renown, despite basically being just as good of a band from what I can tell.  Dark Storm features Barbarud and Blasphemer of Maniac Butcher, but I believe the guitarist Desecrator was not involved with Maniac Butcher at this time.  Thus Dark Storm has a bit of a different feel from Maniac Butcher.

The part that I find to be the most interesting with these projects is they both basically started off as Death Metal bands before turning into full on Black Metal.  It’s almost curious you’d have two projects with members this closely related and to release them both in the earlier days of Black Metal.  I think Dark Storm has more of a Black/Death Metal feel than Maniac Butcher’s more prominent Death Metal feel.  One thing I do like about Dark Storm is that Barbarud has basically switched over to just using his Black Metal styled vocals, which are much better than the Death Metal vocals he was doing on the Maniac Butcher demos.

Despite the feel of the tone and music, Dark Storm performs an extremely simplistic form of this style.  With songs over six minutes this can feel somewhat mind-numbing after a while.  There just aren’t enough good riffs on the demo to keep it interesting.  Ultimately this just winds up being pretty boring for me to listen to.  Surprisingly this was apparently recorded live in 1994 and it seriously has better production than some demos that were not recorded live.  So whatever Dark Storm is doing in this regard, they’re doing it right!  It’s certainly not studio production, but I can hear the drums and guitar perfectly.  The vocals are actually mixed pretty well and never overwhelming anything either.

In the end I suppose this is for people who want to hear what the early days of the fledgling Czech scene was producing.  Perhaps I am very spoiled… because it just can’t compare to what the Czech Republic is producing today.    Even the modern albums by Dark Storm are very different from this.  Eventually the Czech Republic would be a monstrous scene for Black Metal… but in 1994 it wasn’t quite there yet.  But things were just beginning and you have to start somewhere, all that matters is what we have today because of early bands like Dark Storm.