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.

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