Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Darkspace - III I
Avantgade Music, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dark 4.18
2. Dark 4.19
3. Dark 4.20

Darkspace's wait of six years before putting together the follow-up to "III" has easily made this one of the most anticipated albums of 2014. After "III" came out it launched Darkspace into a whole new realm of status it seemed. I remember discussing "II" with people when it was released and how we all really enjoyed it, but "III" really overwhelmed any of our previous expectations. The real question became if it could be done again. Darkspace is the type of project that is always trying to out think the expectations of their fanbase and for that I applaud them, its not a challenge many would take on. The first hints of a new release came in this form:

-.. .- .-. -.- … .–. .- -.-. . / -.-. .- .-.. .-.. .. -. –. / -.. … … -.-. .-.-.- / — .. … … .. — -. —… / -.. .- .-. -.- / … .–. .- -.-. . / .. .. .. .. / . -. -.-. — ..- -. – . .-. .-.-.- / –. . — / -.-. — — .-. -.. .. -. .- – . … —… / ….- -…. .-.-.- —-. ….- —– ….. .—- –..– / –… .-.-.- ….- ….- …– —-. -…. .-.-.- / – .. — . —… / —– -…. ..— ..— —– —– -… … . .–. .—- ….- .-.-.- / . -. -.. / — ..-. / – .-. .- -. … — .. … … .. — -. .-.-.-

The Morse Code simply had a date and location in the form of longitude and latitude. It was an announcement for the CD release concert for this album, wherein they would perform the whole album live. With some orders of this release they came with postcards that featured pictures taken from this monumental show. I was lucky enough to get such an edition with my limited edition digipak, of which I own #285. I am debating also getting the slipcase edition, which I know will be imminent, simply to match my previous set of the other albums.

While "Dark Space III I" really does continue that journey from "III" rather seamlessly, the format is more closely related to "II" in the sense that there are only three songs which encompass over an hour of music. "III I" has a slightly different feel to the music and here we can see some upgrades to the recording quality have taken place. These aren't bad upgrades, and the production still falls into the harsh realms of Paysage d'Hiver, which we all love, but the drum programming is certainly a lot better this time around. The compositions stay very true the Darkspace atmosphere. When Avantgarde announced the albums imminence they made a comment about this being the darkest of the four and in many ways that's fairly true. The application of the ambiance in a lot of the interior spaces of the songs creates a far more bleak and desolate feel, like being lost in space or trying to traverse the Great Rift. "Dark 4.19" has a much larger infusion of the Industrial style as well, but the entire interior of the song is some of the darkest on the album, so it's an odd blend. There are far more chugging power chord riffs common to an Industrial Metal band than we find in Black Metal. This is probably partly due to the success of Dark "3.16" which had one of the greatest transitions to their vicious style of Atmospheric Black Metal. At times I feel like some of this approach to their music is a bit overdone. The real reason is that this kind of riffing style acts more as
a build up rather than a backbone of a song for this style. Also, it doesn't generate a feeling of desolation or darkness, which is usually why I go after these albums in the first place. Adding spacey ambiance doesn't save the mood with those kinds of riffs, unfortunately. They serve to evoke a more powerful type of presence, but it doesn't, necessarily, have the same atmospheric qualities of the rest of the material. Luckily, this experiment stays within the bounds of "Dark 4.19". It really is the only thing I found slightly out of place on the album. Don't worry, the usual style isn't lost on us and it truly rears its head with "Dark 4.20", which is such an immense closer to the album. The section where they build with the muted chords is simply punishing and really grows with the atmosphere. "Dark 4.20" is Darkspace perfection, it has that perfect blend of ambiance Industrial structuring, and Atmospheric Black Metal. One of the other things I noticed was the approach of the arpeggiated leads, but played a bit faster, or more prominently. These arpeggios are fairly common in a lot of sci-fi films, so it really fits with the concept a lot. After hearing them a few times, I felt it fit in the musical space a bit better than when I first encountered them on the album. Their usual slow and space inducing leads are still ever present. The type of thing we heard a lot during the Sun of the Blind material, which is one of the reasons Darkspace has such a special atmosphere.

Despite my minor quibble Darkspace have certainly released one of the best albums of this year. It likely is the best in the grand scheme of things. Few bands could ever compete with something this monumental. The album opens with what sounds like laser fire, and I actually think it sounds like the laser fire from Terminator 2's opening scenes, which wouldn't surprise me. Then to go on and take on the challenge of writing nearly twenty and thirty minute long songs... its just such a massive undertaking for a musician. So, despite the fact I felt like one riff was a bit out of place, the entirety of this album is incredible. Darkspace isn't content just to give us more of the same, they're going to try to push things a little bit, at the very least. If you buy, at least, one album this year, you couldn't go wrong with this being the one as far as I'm concerned. As usual, an exceptional performance which gets even deeper over time.

Below is the picture of the back of the postcards!

Darkspace - -1 (Re-recorded)
Avantgarde Music, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dark -1.-1
2. Dark -1.0

After four years of silence from the immense "Dark Space III" the band has done a curious thing and returned to their demo days to entirely re-record the demo material.  This can go either way sometimes, because on the one hand you'll potentially lose that initial spark that prompted the recording of the demo in the first place, but then on the other hand you have a lot of experience with writing and recording now, so things could greatly be improved upon.  Luckily I think Darkspace's revisiting the demo days has the latter effect.

In a curious fashion Avantgarde has published this in a sort of digi-sleeve format.  It's a nice layout and fits with all the prior releases.  When you open the digi-sleeve you see the original art work for the demo, which I definitely appreciated seeing.  The first thing I noticed was the difference in the track times.  "Dark -1.-1" is now nearly three minutes longer, so changes have certainly been made.  Unfortunately, one of those changes was not removing the out of place riff.  I might be mistaken, or they are just more prominent, but there seem to be a lot more lead guitar parts on this from the original demo days.  They really give it that more modern Darkspace feel.  During the Mayhem section I was a little disappointed that the bass is so far in the background, because that's really what made that section stand out quite a bit.  The outro to this song sounds lot like the rhythm played on Zyklon's "Transcendental War", always a good closer no matter the application.

"Dark -1.0" sounds far stronger and more intense with the re-worked production.  It has everything I loved about the track, but it is just amped up in its quality of execution.  I think very little has changed with this track.

In the end I have to say this is a very successful revisiting of the early material.  It sounds a lot stronger and even a lot more atmospheric, which is probably what the original intention was anyway.  I, personally, have much preferred a fourth album from the band, but being the die hard fan I am I'll take anything new from them.

Darkspace - Dark Space III
Avantgarde Music, 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Dark 3.11
2. Dark 3.12
3. Dark 3.13
4. Dark 3.14
5. Dark 3.16
6. Dark 3.17

After three years of quiet activity from Paysage d'Hiver and Darkspace we are finally treated to this new magnum opus from the project.  I really do mean magnum opus here, for if you thought Darkspace finally managed to harness their power with the second album, you really haven't heard anything yet.

Darkspace have taken what they finally harnessed on "Dark Space II" and really refined that essence so much more to present "Dark Space III" in all of it's awe inspiring atmosphere.  They bring back a lot of the things that really worked on "Dark Space II", so if you really enjoyed that cleaner guitar tone blended with the slow moving massive rhythm guitars then you certainly get it here as well.  As before the lead sections really make this type of music fascinating to listen to, but they don't run leads over all the parts, which is a little different from "Dark Space II".  On this one sometimes the rhythm section will just play and you just hear the intense and vicious Black Metal amidst all this dense atmosphere, it really does make for quite the experience.  In "Dark 3.12" there is a section that just ups the heaviness by chugging through a section of the song and it really works very well.  I think this is the type of thing Wroth was trying to present on Paysage d'Hiver, but he really managed to blend it into these compositions extremely well.  It doesn't feel out of place, but it does up the intensity at just the right moment of the song.  In fact that chugging type of section is used all over this release and it really just makes the whole thing sound monstrous in its presentation.  I even think they've leaned on the Industrial scene a little bit for some of the atmospheres, because "Dark 3.14's" opening moments feel reminiscent of Hocico.  I think a lot of these elements managed to culminate in the form of "Dark 3.16", which really has everything I love about Darkspace written into a single track.

One thing that also stood out for this release was the production and what they've managed to do with the drums.  I think this is where they've really managed to harness the drum machine.  They are actually syncopating sections during the heavier riffs and throwing in more drum roll sections to make the listen far more interesting.  It makes for a more interesting listen, similar to what Limbonic Art has always done.  The vocals stand out a lot more in this mix as well and you can really hear the vicious and tortured screams.  Before they were always a bit too much in the background, but that also lended to the atmosphere the band was trying to present.  On here though the more prominent vocals really add to the haunting and tortured nature of their sound.  It makes for a more vicious atmosphere amidst the dense immersion.

As you can tell, amidst all the tweaks for this release, we have a clear contender for album of the year on our hands.  Nothing else has really been produced up to this magnitude, so Darkspace must clearly stand above the rest in a real stand out release.  I don't think anything else will be released this year that can even begin to match the sheer quality and atmosphere.  Clearly this is a must have for any Black Metal collection.

Darkspace - Dark Space II
Hunter of the Dark, 2005
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Dark 2.8
2. Dark 2.9
3. Dark 2.10

This is the release that really got Darkspace noticed.  It was released only a year later by Avantgarde Music in a beautiful slipcase that matched the "Dark Space I" re-release.  This is where the trio behind Darkspace really started to harness the power of writing.  Despite there only being three tracks on this release, in typical Paysage d'Hiver fashion the tracks are of epic length, two clock in at over twenty minutes!

I am not surprised this is the release that really put Darkspace on the main stage of Black Metal fans, this is, after all, the release I've been waiting for them to create.  As soon as "Dark 2.8" begins you get the sense that they've really figured out how to generate that atmosphere related to the expanse of space they so sorely were after.  They've really managed to capture and entrancing yet very textured atmosphere for the listener to become immersed in.  The entire track is structured around the heavily distorted rhythm section playing some slow moving riffs for the first half of the song, then speeds up later.  But the lead section is what really generates the textures here.  In the first part it sounds like a nicely layered clean guitar setting and it feels reminiscent to some of the slower material Morgoth used in "Odium".  It's a sound I rarely hear bands use, so it really stands out to me when I hear it. During the faster sections I think it switches to a distorted lead guitar, but again, this is what really drives the song.  The uncompromising punishing rhythms played at top speed really put the listener into a trance like state due their lack of change.  While you sit in this immersed noise the lead section really stands out and really gives things a very expansive feel.  This is really why I think they managed to capture that atmosphere of space, because travelling beyond the Earth is all of these things.  "Dark 2.9" is very different, in the sense that is strictly an Ambient track.  At the very least it does keep us immersed in the dense atmosphere.  It is rife with samples so it gives a very eerie quality to the music.  "Dark 2.10" wastes no time in launching us into an intense journey.  This is by far the fastest and most vicious sounding track on the album, but it still retains a great atmospheric presence.  I feel this is something they didn't do as well on the first album, but managed to sort out the wrinkles with this release.

"Dark Space II" is truly a monumental release for the world of Atmospheric Black Metal.  It maintains an extensively dense atmosphere that listeners must "journey" through to really experience the quality of music being performed within.  It is both uncompromising and beautiful all at once.  I feel that with this presentation they've managed to really distance themselves from the Mysticum style that they were drawing from originally.  They've actually managed to grow beyond their influences and present something really different this time around.  Granted the Paysage d'Hiver essence is ever present, but that can't really be helped.  Be that as it may,  I do feel the projects are distinctly different from each other with the release of this album and only areas of influence come from Wroth's other project.

Darkspace - Dark Space I
Haunter of the Dark, 2003
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Dark 1.1
2. Dark 1.2
3. Dark 1.3
4. Dark 1.4
5. Dark 1.5
6. Dark 1.6
7. Dark 1.7

After a year Darkspace had a full length ready to be released, which they did and limited to 500 copies.  By around 2006 they had gotten enough renown to capture the eye of Avantgarde Music and this was re-released along with "Dark Space II".  I own the Avantgarde versions of this material and they come in beautiful re-editions with a slipcase that is every bit a space feel to them.

Darkspace has really improved from last years demo, there are still some bumpy parts, but they've really managed to harness some good atmosphere.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure they're really capturing the atmosphere for the darkness and expansiveness of space yet.  At this time I feel like they are blending Paysage d'Hiver with some Mysticum styled Black Metal.  Darkspace's material is certainly faster and quite a bit more intense sounding than Paysage d'Hiver though.  There are sections that are patently Atmospheric material taken right from the book of Paysage d'Hiver though, which is really entrancing material.  Still there are riffs that I just feel are out of place like in "Dark 1.4".  The opening riff just feels off, but then they never use it again in the song and the song takes on a wonderful atmosphere and winds up being an incredible track.  These ups and downs on the album sort of mar the experience for me.  I see where their ideas are going and a lot of them are quite exceptional, but I'm not sure they've really mastered the songwriting craft that is needed to really immerse their listeners.  A lot of times a very compelling rhythm will be laid down and then these incredible lead sections will play over it.  These sections are just masterfully done and I really want to hear them do more of that.  Interspersed throughout the recording are haunting samples from movies or TV that really set a great stage for the album.  I love the fact that they're using this stuff.

"Dark Space I" is an incredible listen and it's very different from a lot of material being produced now.  It certainly stands on the shoulders of Paysage d'Hivers "Winterkaelte", but the additions to that sound make this a very different experience.  I really want to hear what Darkspace does next, because, like Paysage d'Hiver, their writing is trending in a very strong direction.  I expect monumental things from this project in the future!

Darkspace - -1
Self-Released, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dark -1.1
2. Dark -1.0

I don't know exactly when this project was conceived or who of the three members really started it, but it would feature the highly prolific musician Wintherr (called Wroth in this project) from Pasyage d'Hiver. Due to the massively successful "Winterkaelte" I was hoping for something equally impressive from Darkspace.  It was first released as a download from their website and that's how I wound up with these mp3's.

With a name like Darkspace I was expecting some far more space oriented Ambient Black Metal, but I'm not sure this demo really achieves that.  Certainly not in the cased of "-1.1", which is an extremely fast and vicious song.  The early parts are up there with Mysticum, but they lack the catchiness that Mysticum managed to harness.  Around half way through the song cuts off and some ambiance plays through with a sort of techno-ish drum being playing underneath, then abruptly switches into a guitar line that is extremely out of place.  Then suddenly it switches again into some serious Mayhem worship of "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas" era and sounds exceptional... then switches back to the out of place guitar line again for some reason.  I think this song would have succeeded far more if they simply removed that one guitar line that doesn't work in the track, because it really breaks up that immersive feel to the music.

The second track is far more successful at getting across that space related Atmospheric Black Metal I was really expecting from the likes of Darkspace.  It starts off with some general ambiance with a hard techno beat underneath while a sample plays over it.  (I think the sample is from the movie Dark City... or at least that's what the dialogue reminds me of.)  Those hard chugging riffs Wroth uses on Paysage d'Hiver show up here in a much stronger application.  I'm not quite sure the vocals fit on this song too well, unfortunately, because they are almost a style of spoken word with distortion effects on the vocals.  I suppose I can't complain because this track is far more what I was expecting from the project and it also has a very immersive atmosphere.  The Ambient and FX choices used throughout the song are really well chosen and really helps keep the song cohesive.

In the end the demo has mixed attributes.  Due to Wroth's penchant for experimentation with this kind of stuff I am looking forward to what this project has in store for us next.  Maybe working with Zhaaral and Zorg will help with harnessing better arrangement choices.  I would say I am definitely intrigued by this project and I really would like to hear more from it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ancestral Fog

Ancestral Fog & Temple of Baal Split
Battlesk'rs Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

Ancestral Fog:
1. Fundaments of Life Denied
2. Von (Von Cover)
Temple of Baal:
3. Living Fleshthrone
4. Satan's Legions

Side Temple of Baal: ...coming eventually...
Side Ancestral Fog:

I ended up picking this split up because I had been following Temple of Baal for some time now and hearing the intensity of Ancestral Fog was a pleasant surprise.  It certainly got me interested in what else the band had to offer beyond this split.  I do wonder if these were tracks left off of "Rid the Human Plague", because they were also recorded in 2004 in the same location, however these weren't mixed and mastered until 2005.  I am glad to see this material see the light of day, but by now (2013) this project seems to be on hiatus or done altogether.

I'm not sure why they didn't include these on the tape, but at least we wind up with a split that has two very strong bands on it.  I feel like this is a rare occurrence, so I'm happy when I get two great bands out of a split.  Since this is recorded in the same session everything I said below about "Rid the Human Plague" basically still stands for this.  Since the mixing and mastering happened quite a while after the recording, I feel like that has given these two tracks a slightly different feel.  They feel a little smoother and less raw.  "Fundaments of Life Denied" is a blistering attack of fast Black Metal and feels somewhat reminiscent of an Antaeus approach, but blended with the ever present Merrimack sound.  They finish up their two songs with a classic Von cover, which they perform perfectly.  I really like their rendition of the song, because it sounds really good sped up a bit more.  This is absolutely worth checking out!

Ancestral Fog - Rid the Human Plague
Battlesk'rs Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ordination in Uttermost Malevolence
2. Anthelmintic.Is.Death.Sentence
3. A Messiah Against the Human Plague
4. Tearing the Veil

After five years of silence from this project we finally get some studio recordings and the only unfortunate aspect is there are only four!  This cassette comes with a pro-printed booklet, complete with lyrics, and a pro-printed cassette.  A lot has clearly changed with this project, the first being none of the names are recognizable from the first tape.  However, after looking around I see Lord Fafnir has changed his name to Terrorizt and he is only responsible for the vocal work on this recording, whereas he did guitar and vocals in the first.  This time the guitar work is handled by Perversifier of the mighty Merrimack and Scars from Christicide.  As you can imagine we have quite a different recording on our hands here.

I first heard of Ancestral Fog because of their split with Temple of Baal, so I'm hearing these demo tapes in retrospect.  The first thing I notice is how similar the music is to Merrimack's "Of Entropy and Life Denial".  It is really interesting to hear the sound develop here, because this is sort of a blend of early Merrimack material and the thoughtful compositions on "Of Entropy and Life Denial".  It blends pretty well and gives Ancestral Fog a somewhat interesting sound between fiercely intense and contemplative.  Naturally this is a far cry from the mundane material I experienced with the first demo.  Unfortunately instead of continuing with this in the name of Ancestral Fog, I feel like they took the style to Merrimack and recorded "Of Entropy and Life Denial".  This album is quite exceptional, so I guess I can't complain about this too much, but I would have liked to see the Ancestral Fog project continue.

"Rid the Human Plague" is an excellent progression and certainly lands Ancestral Fog on my watch list.  If you really loved Merrimack's "Of Entropy and Life Denial" then this demo is a must hear, because it's a more raw fiercer approach to that kind of material.  Just listen to that opening riff of "A Messiah Against the Human Plague", that is just wonderful!

Ancestral Fog - Live in Duinkerke
Akedia Recordz, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Thy Torment Begins
2. Nachtelyk Sabbat in Moëren
3. The Art of Battlefury
4. Lion's Banner Rules this Land of Eternal Desecration
5. Beyond the Realms of Algol
6. Possessed by Faith
7. Impious Choirs
8. Preus Vlaemsch Volk

After forming in 1999, Ancestral Fog had enough material to start playing out.  Rather than record a demo first they present this nearly 40 minute live performance and eight tracks to show off their work.  This material was released on cassette limited to an hand-numbered unknown limitation (by me at least).  I happen to own copy #267 though.  My copy has a pro-printed booklet with a dubbed tape.

Live recordings are usually not something I like a band starting off with, especially when it's a new band still in their demo stages.  As can be expected the recording quality is not that great and things aren't mixed very well.  To be honest, they're actually mixed a little better than I expected they would be, so that's a plus in this recordings favor.  I wish I could say more about the music, but Ancestral Fog really do play a very typical style of Black Metal.  It's raw and cold, but the riffing wasn't exceptional enough to draw me in deeply.  Then again, some of the choices riffs might be marred by the recording quality.  They're not terrible or anything, they just play fairly standard fast and intense Black Metal, which does make good for a live performance. Some of this unoriginality might stem from the fact this band wrote the songs so fast, or someone just wrote a lot of songs and formed a band after the fact and that might be the case with Lord Fafnir.  The end results is a mixed bag of better quality material and generic.

Personally, I really wanted to hear Ancestral Fog's back catalog and I was really hoping it would be a little better than this.  Honestly you should seek this out if you really like live performances or if you like raw unbridled demos in the old French vein.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Purgatory (Ger)

Purgatory - Omega Void Tribvnal
War Anthem Records, 2016
Genre: Death Metal

1. Devouring the Giant
2. Prophet of Demonic Wrath
3. Chaos, Death, Perdition
4. Nemesis Enigma
5. Codex Anti
6. The Curse of Samhain, Pt. II
7. Via Dolorosa
8. The Archaic Evil

It took me a little longer to get my hands on a copy of this new album, but ever since I saw this album hit, I've been wanting to hear it. That time is finally now and I am very pleasantly surprised. The artwork really caught my eye when the album was first announced, because it was so different from what I would expect from this project. I was definitely curious to hear how the music would reflect this art direction.

"Omega Void Tribvnal", I expected to be a fairly strong album, because Purgatory has always produced fairly strong albums over the years. However, "Omega Void Tribvnal" takes things to a whole new level. The music maintains a feel of crushing Death Metal, but there's this underlying extremely dark atmosphere replete throughout the album. It has that same crushing dark feel that we hear in bands like Hell-Born, but Purgatory isn't as groove laden, rather they're faster and more ominous in some ways. They really crafted an excellent album this time around that stands out amidst their discography. If I had to level a criticism at this, it's that the vocals are a bit too loud in the mix in sections and take over the guitars once in a while.

On the first few listens, this might actually launch itself into my favorite Purgatory album. Sure they have their classics, but the riffs on this album are just so intoxicating, I will definitely be coming back for me. They feel meaner and darker than some of the prior material, so if you're a fan of this project, I highly recommend this album. If you haven't heard of them... I recommend you start sooner than later.

Purgatory - Deathkvlt - Grand Ancient Arts
War Anthem Records, 2013
Genre: Death Metal

1. Onward to the Bvrning Shores
2. Grand Ancient Arts
3. Psalms of Invocation
4. Vnderneath Fathomless Depths
5. Pandemonivm Rising
6. Vnleash the Reaper
7. Into Starless Chaos
8. As I Behold I Despise
9. Of Reverence and Rvin
10. Consvmed by Ashes

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I am hardly a Death Metal aficionado and I like my Death Metal performed in a fairly specific way. A testament to this fact is that I only purchased between ten and twenty Death Metal albums, versus the one hundred plus Black Metal I acquired.  So, when it comes to Death Metal, you better be producing something worth my time and Purgatory have been very consistent in this regard over the years so when I saw "Deathkvlt" slotted for release, I was immediately intent on purchasing it.

When I started seeing all the u's replaced as v's, I did start to worry that Purgatory have started down more of a Behemoth path, which I didn't think would suit their sound. They should really be sticking to the Vader/Lost Soul styles of Poland, because they've made that work so perfectly. Fear not! "Deathkvlt" continues in this vein masterfully. Nothing has really changed in the Purgatory camp and they continue to strive to write simply solid Death Metal. They do seem to have some Behemoth influence show up in songs like "Underneath Fathomless Depths," but its a fairly subtle influence and focuses on borrowing from Behemoth's more hard hitting and atmospheric edge. I don't know what's different, but something feels different with "Deathkvlt". Things feel a lot more engaging than before, the riffs are just better all around and they draw the listener in far more quickly. They've always been good, but something just seems better on this album. Listening to "Psalms of Invocation" things seem a lot darker than previous compositions and this shift really strikes a chord with me for some reason. I usually think that solid projects can't help but stumble upon a really stand-out album and for Purgatory this might be theirs.

I think this might be my favorite Purgatory album. It just has everything I love and want from a serious Death Metal album. Maybe its because I don't consume as much Death Metal these years as I used to when I was younger, but something really stands out about this release. The atmosphere on the album is really striking and it just produces this amazing experience for the listeners. We have come to expect solid Death Metal from Purgatory over the years, but this year they've really outdone themselves. Highly recommended.

Purgatory - Necromantaeon
War Anthem Records, 2011
Genre: Death Metal

1. Arrival of the Undivine
2. Reaping the Diseased
3. Where Darkness Reigns
4. Glorification of the Lightbearer
5. Downwards into Unlight
6. Scourging Blasphemies
7. Calling the Grand Destroyer
8. Necromantaeon
9. The Collapse of Tides

Now that Purgatory's line-up seems solidified it has only taken a couple years to produce their next Death Metal assault upon the world. I feel like Purgatory are really setting into the sound that was first solidified on "Luciferianism" and they've really been hammering that transition home album after album.

"Necromantaeon" brings us more Vader infused crushing Death Metal. While, I don't think Purgatory will ever hit the higher echelons of Vader's greatest work, I don't think that is their goal. I think Purgatory just want to produce solid albums with material that is well written. This is Death Metal written with intent of just putting together an album that sounds great. They're not trying to blow your mind, they're trying to perform Death Metal as it is meant to played. In a time when far too many Metalcore bands are coming into existence, its nice to see mainstays of the Death Metal scene like Purgatory aren't changing anything in their repertoire.

If you want a band that consistently hits a solid point on every album lately Purgatory is the band you are looking for. If you just want solid Death Metal done right I can't imagine you'd be disappointed with "Necromanteon". There really isn't too much to say beyond that.

Purgatory / Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult - The Legion of Chaos
Animate Records, 2011
Genre: Death Metal

1. Purgatory - Ars Moriendi (Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult Cover)
2. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult - Enslaved by Madness (Purgatory Cover)
3. Pugatory - Dawn of Eternity (Massacre Cover)
4. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult - The Truth (Master Cover)

Side Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult: ...coming eventually...
Side Purgatory:

This is a really interesting treat. Here we have a really beautiful vinyl, which I am very proud to have in my collection. While some may argue that this really isn't "new" material from the bands in an original sense, the way this vinyl is etched on one side is just beautiful.

Each band submitted two cover songs and this is reminiscent of the old Season of Mist vs. albums, where each band had to cover the other bands songs. Purgatory opens with covering a song by Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult and this is interesting because we get to hear a Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult song recast into the realms of Death Metal. It actually works really well and it seems the well known Black Metal project can be recast almost seamlessly. For the second cover Purgatory cover the timeless classic "Dawn of Eternity" by Massacre. Now, Purgatory due a real stand-up job of covering this classic, but I honestly Naglfar's version of the song more. Where Purgatory's version is more brutal, I feel the Naglfar rendition just hit so much harder with the way the approached it. Either way, two great songs are offered here. The only real reason to get this is if you are a die-hard collector of either project.

Purgatory - Cultus Luciferi - The Splendour of Chaos
Animate Records, 2008
Genre: Death Metal

1. Realm of the Vortex
2. Chaos Aeon
3. Ruler of the Cast
4. Forbidden Wisdom
5. Red Prison
6. Hammering the Nails - Vengeance of the Damned
7. Pits of Utumno (Morgoth Cover)
8. Burial of a Plague
9. The Enemy Within
10. Seeds of Annihilation (Live, 2006)

I feel like the album every four years is working out for Purgatory. It seems a rather long time between releases, but as long as the releases are really stand-out and present excellent material, there is no reason to complain. This time there have been some serious line-up changes between the full-lengths. Long time vocalist Sick has left the band shortly after "Luciferianism" and has been replaced by Dreier. However, Sick's involvement hasn't totally ended, he seems to be heavily involved in the lyrical creation. Prior to this Dreier had worked in the band Seirim who Purgatory did a split with back in 1997, so he's no stranger to the Death Metal scene. I want to say this is somewhat unfortunate, because I was beginning to enjoy Sick's vocals a lot, but on the other hand Dreier really fits with the bands style very well.

Keeping up with their new found ability to have real art direction with their album layouts we get an even more involved booklet. Purgatory are sticking with the "Black to the Blind" style of band pics, but go a little towards the early Dismember stage with blood. Its almost like no time has passed between the two albums. Even though this album has a very similar musical presentation, it still sounds extremely well done. The riffing is cool and interesting. The guitar tone is where I would want it to be for the style, the Vader blend hasn't left their edge or anything. Dreier does a great job vocally and proves to be a very dynamic vocalist. He can do the Piotr screams pretty well, but he can also hit some seriously deep growls that were unlike anything in Purgatory before. He also does a great job with layering some higher range vocals into their sound, so it seems he fits with the band quite well. As usual, it seems Purgatory feel a compulsory cover song is needed on their albums these days and on this one we get a cover of Morgoth's classic "Pits of Utumno", which is far more fitting with the Purgatory style than Lemming Project from "Luciferianism". Morgoth doesn't totally disrupt the atmosphere of the modern Purgatory sound. Dreier actually does a rather impressive job hitting Marc's vocal style quite well.

Even though not much has markedly changed between albums, I'm perfectly happy to have Purgatory exploring this style for a few albums. They do a really great job with it and even though some reviewers may say this brings nothing new to Death Metal, that's fine for me, as long as its interesting and well written material.

Purgatory - Luciferianism
Animate Records, 2004
Genre: Death Metal

1. Bloodsoil Revelation
2. Death World Struggle
3. Seeds of Annihilation
4. In Fervent Eyes
5. The Serpent's Creation
6. The Inexorable Darkness
7. Judas Billygoats /Judasböcke (Lemming Project Cover)
8. None Divine Passion
9. Luciferic

"Luciferianism" is where I was first introduced to Purgatory. This cover really caught my eye in a distro and I decided to give the band a chance. I really liked what they were doing on this album a lot, so I really sought out and started following the project ever since I heard this. Its actually been quite a while since Purgatory have released a new album and I feel like a lot more time was spent working on this album, which shows. Moving beyond the new sound founded on "Blessed with Flames of Hate" Purgatory have changed to Animate Records leaving behind their long time record label Perverted Taste. With this the booklet has taken on entirely new art direction and it is far more interesting to look at this time. The images of the band are many, but the overall presentation hints at something more professional.

On the prior album I mentioned the guitar tone had this thinner quality which made the album more reminiscent of early Malevolent Creation, well "Luciferianism" changes that entirely. The guitar production is thick and extremely heavy this time, so this album feels like it emulates the mighty Vader. Even the band photos are reminiscent of "Black to the Blind". I feel like Sick has attempted to change his vocal approach to fit the music more and has instead defaulted to trying to sound as much like Piotr as possible. Just listen to the opening scream of "Seeds of Annihilation", that is a classic Piotr roar. The best part is he does a great job with it, so I'm not about to complain about this new massive infusion of Vader influence. They blend it with the guitar arrangement style of "Blessed with Flames of Hate", so it doesn't necessarily come off as a total Vader rip-off. I don't want to give the impression that he sounds like Piotr all the time, he doesn't, he varies up his vocal approach throughout the album. It certainly feels like it fits the album a lot more this time around. Lutz offers up a rather impressive drum performance, as usual, actually, but I feel like his arrangements are sharper and stand out a bit more on this release. I think he does make a valiant attempt at getting Doc's bass drum tone... but no one but Doc has ever been able to get that...

In the end, I really like the new direction Purgatory seems to be heading in. The only track that doesn't seem to fit in with the albums new atmosphere is the cover song they did from Lemming Project. It just interrupts this crushing style of Death Metal for something that isn't on the same level. I do like hearing it all in German though and like Vader, I think it would be really interesting for the bands to do an entire album in their native language. I am really looking forward to what Purgatory might have in store for us next if they're going to continue down this line of thought.

Polymorph / Purgatory - Hell Bastards
G.U.C., 2003
Genre: Death Metal

1. Lord of Lies
2. Hell Bastards
3. Fiend for Blood (Autopsy Cover)
4. Corporation Pull-In (Terrorizer Cover)
5. Captured Souls (Live)

Side Polymorph: ...coming eventually...
Side Purgatory:

After about three years Purgatory have brought us a new split. I feel like this was something just to show the band was still around because they really don't have much to offer on this split. Here we get two cover songs, which are painfully short because they are more from the Grindcore side of things, and a live recording from 2000. The cover songs aren't even new recordings, they are unreleased material from the "Blessed with Flames of Hate" recording session. Even though the Purgatory side clocks in at under seven minutes, they still decided to print this on a 10" vinyl. I'm sure its limited to some quantity, but nothing is stated on the release. Its nice to have everything from the "Blessed with Flames of Hate" recording session though, I guess I just wish there was more than three minutes of unreleased material or a new original song altogether. The live track is pretty interesting, because the guitar tone in the live track is a little thicker than the original recording. Other than that, this is really for Purgatory die-hards as far as I can tell.

Purgatory - Blessed with Flames of Hate
Perverted Taste, 2000
Genre: Death Metal

1. Damned and Betrayed
2. Visions Beyond Light
3. The Daimonion
4. March of the Eminent Beast
5. Pharynx of Evil
6. Captured Souls
7. Blessed with Flames
8. In Blasphemy
9. ...And Blood Flows

A new millennium and apparently a fairly new sound from Purgatory. It seems they've almost dropped the prior Carcass influences entirely for their third full-length. Here we get a full booklet with band pics and lyrics, so they're keeping up that theme from "Bestial" at least.

"Blessed with Flames of Hate" changes things up for the project in the sense that the guitar arrangements focus more on sinister scale patterns rather than their prior crunching guitar chord progressions. Some of that early style still shows up from time to time, but this gives a rather fresh blend to it. Think of the way Deicide, Malevolent Creation, or many Polish Death Metal bands write their music and you'll see where Purgatory is drawing more of their influences this time. I feel like instead of the crunching style we have more of a Thrash approach to the more rhythmic aspects of the album, which is similar to a lot of the early styles of Death Metal. The guitar tone is really thin, which is why I feel it is more reminiscent of the early Malevolent Creation style versus bands like Vader who have a much heavier guitar tone. The vocal style is virtually unchanged for the new approach and in that realm I'm not entirely convinced the vocals really work too well with the new style. At times they sound great, but a lot of times they just sort of feel out of place for some reason.

Musically I really like Purgatory's new direction. I think they're actually a lot stronger at writing in this style than some of their earlier works. I'm really interested to see how Purgatory will develop this style in the future, because it really feels like all the elements are falling in place for this band.

Purgatory - Bestial
Perverted Taste, 1997
Genre: Death Metal

1. My Blood
2. Ulcer of Hate
3. Immolation of the Weak
4. The Bestial
5. Back from the Shadowlands
6. Your Soul will Never Rest
7. Malignant Spawn
8. Enslaved by Madness
9. Tormented Flesh
10. Burned

I feel like Purgatory is one of those bands that can't let a year go by without producing some type of recording. This wouldn't be bad if everything was amazing... but I feel like the band could have just skipped to "Bestial" which is a little better than "Damage Done by Worms".  This time their booklet is fleshed out a bit more. There isn't any extra art in the booklet, but there are band photos and lyrics printed for us to read.

"Bestial" continues to plod along the same course of the prior material, but with some decent improvements here and there. I think there is an effort to work in some catchier guitar lines and I feel like I hear a distinct Unleashed vibe in some of the tracks. The primary influence still seems to be Carcass though, so if you really liked albums like "Symphonies of Sickness" or "Necroticism" then this might be worth checking out. This album is definitely a bit stronger than their debut, which is a good sign and we can only hope that improvement is constant with the project.

While this album is markedly better than the debut, I still felt rather lackluster about my listening to it. Its good Death Metal, but that's all... just good. Then again, I never really fiended for the early Carcass sound like some people did. Sure it's legendary, but I rarely ever listen to "Symphony's of Sickness" for example. It's incredibly influential work and I can't deny that... but it was never something that really drew me in wanting more and more That's how I feel about the early Purgatory work, it's solid stuff, but its hard for me to get really into it like I can with other bands.

Purgatory & Seirim Split
Perverted Taste, 1997
Genre: Death Metal

1. Ulcer of Hate
2. Tormented Flesh
3. Horned Demons
4. Son of a Eminent Beast

Side Seirim: ...coming eventually...
Side Purgatory:

Since Purgatory's second full-length is imminent they've decided to release a bit of a teaser in the form of this split with Seirim. It's a very basic 7" vinyl release, which I'm sure is limited to some specific number, but nothing says anything about it on the release.

The really interesting part about the two songs featured by Purgatory on here is that they are either demo tracks or they are pre-production tracks that the band recorded in the studio. Either way, these are far more raw sounding than even the production on "Damage Done by Worms". For some reason, when cast in this light their music actually sounds pretty good... there's something about the raw edge that really helps give them that something more to make it interesting. Maybe it's because their influences have pretty decent studio production, so to hear some of that stuff cast in a raw atmosphere sounds pretty different to me. Usually this kind of production doesn't work at all for Death Metal, but it seems to work fairly well for the likes of Purgatory. I doubt their next album will sound like this... but I'm glad they shared these demo tracks with us.

Purgatory - Damage Done by Worms
Perverted Taste, 1996
Genre: Death Metal

1. Orgy of Sickening Dreams
2. Deep Under the Light
3. Sodomizing Time
4. Robes of Skin
5. Psychopathia Sexualis Pt. II
6. Necrocannibalistical Insanity
7. Brood of Incest
8. Irresolute Subjection
9. The Final Breath
10. Frozen Braincells
11. Paroxysm of Mortal Lust
12. Sadistic Spell
13. Necronomical Necropsy

Purgatory have finally made it to a position where they can put out their debut full-length release. This sort of continues the journey they began with "Sadistic Spell" only now they finally have a CD out. The cover is strange, as we've come to expect from the project, but the booklet is rather weak. It just features pictures of band members, no lyrics or anything like that. The last four tracks on the CD are taken from "Sadistic Spell", so if you missed out on that EP you can finally hear it.

"Damage Done by Worms" simply given the fact that it came out in 1996 means this probably has a very old school Death Metal feel. This is certainly true and it seems Purgatory is picking up where the days of early Carcass left off. Purgatory to blend together some other styles from the early days, as I'm sure Morgoth are a clear influence. It actually sort of blends the early Edge of Sanity sound with early Carcass, to try and make something fairly interesting. For some reason, I found it really hard to get into this material. It's kind of strange because I do like a lot of the early Death Metal from the aforementioned projects.

In the end "Damage Done by Worms" blends a lot of the early Death Metal sounds under one umbrella. If that sounds really appealing to you, then this is a project that must be checked out. I thought they did a decent job, but it's not something I think I will listen to very often when it comes to my own preferences of Death Metal.

Purgatory - Sadistic Spell
Perverted Taste, 1995
Genre: Death Metal

1. Frozen Braincells
2. Paroxysm of Mortal Lust
3. Sadistic Spell
4. Necronominal Necropsy

Another year and another four songs from Purgatory released on clear blue 7" vinyl.  The cover is still just as ridiculous, but this time it's a sort of large fold out poster.  It's so big it doesn't entirely fit in my scanner, so the above is the end result of that.  I tried to get as much of the image as possible.  Again, there are no lyrics, but I assume they are still spending most of their time discussing sexual violence in a Sadean manner, though the cover seems more about bondage.

Musically we've had some good improvements.  Purgatory are no longer afraid to play faster Death Metal.  "Frozen Braincells" launches in with a whirlwind of blasting Death Metal.  It actually sounds really good and the riffs are much improved this time around.  I was hoping this would keep up, but it seems they trade off between this better style and the slower style we found on "Psychopathia Sexualis".  They really should just do away with the latter and focus on the former.  Maybe if their guitar tone was thicker it would sound better, I don't know, but for some reason I just can't get into a lot of their stuff.  When they start playing faster and take on some Thrashier aspects it sounds a lot better.  Janette makes her appearance on this release with the intro to "Sadistic Spell".  It's merely a spoken word section, but it actually works really well with their sound and stands out quite a lot.

"Sadistic Spell" is greatly improved from "Psychopathia Sexualis", so hopefully this is indicative of Purgatory's future efforts.  I may not find that much merit in "Sadistic Spell", but I do like seeing a band improve and Purgatory is certainly doing that.  "Frozen Braincells" and "Necromanical Necropsy" are actually pretty good tracks, but they do include to much of their slower material to make them great tracks.  Hopefully their future is brighter.

Purgatory - Psychopathia Sexualis
Perverted Taste Records, 1994
Genre: Death Metal

1. Masturbation of Bowels
2. Childs of Perversion
3. Necrocannabilistical Insanity
4. Psychopathia Sexualis

Looking up the band Purgatory will yield many results, but the only one I know of is the German Death Metal band.  Purgatory have been around for ages at this point and I'm not sure how I missed out on their work.  A large part of it is probably due to my focus on Black Metal and a lesser due to distribution with me living far away from Germany.  When I finally found this band I went into their back catalog and was actually able to track down this very early 7" vinyl release.  It's actually pressed on bright blue clear vinyl, which I thought was an odd choice when I took the record out.  The album cover is utterly ridiculous and portrays a scene that is up there with some sort of Sadean quality of art.

Prior to this Purgatory only had a live demo tape, which the band self-released.  I've never heard it and only one song appears recorded on this 7".  I don't know if the lyrics are represented by the cover, since they were never printed, but they probably are.  I feel like Purgatory is trying to be different by writing about things like sexual violence or something like that.  Anyway, the music is just okay.  I never found any of the songs to be outstanding or have any kind of endearing atmosphere.  The songs are a fairly slow form of Death Metal, which plods along to nowhere in particular.  The song "Necrocannibalistic Insanity" is a little faster and for some reason reminds me of Decameron, so maybe Decameron was influenced by Purgatory a bit.  The music isn't particularly heavy or crushing either, so I'm not entirely sure what they were going for.  Maybe they were after a sort of Grave type of effect, but Purgatory lacks that catchy aspect that made Grave so spectacular.  For some reason Janett gets a photo credit on the back and I was waiting for her to show up, but she only appears in the last track "Psychopathia Sexualis" and that's only around two minutes long.

Even for this early time the music is pretty well recorded, but my problems with this project were solely in the writing.  I found the music dry with very few interesting moments.  Unless your an absolute maniac for Purgatory I would recommend passing up this release.  Their later material is certainly much more interesting to me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ab Imo Pectore

Ab Imo Pectore - The Dissociative Path
Debemur-Morti Productions, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Shearers of God
2. Mother of Mothers
3. Mass Grave Emanations
4. Space Devouring Space
5. Sulphur Garden
6. A Boundless Dispersion

I picked this up out of sheer curiosity.  I was unaware that Debemure-Morti ever put out any tape releases, never mind a demo tape at that!  But here we have the first demo tape from Ab Imo Pectore, a band coming out of Portugal and playing a sort of strange form of Black Metal.  As usual with a Debemur-Morti release things are done at a very high quality with regards to packaging.  This naturally comes on a professionally pressed booklet and tape, which is limited to 100 copies.

Musically this project is a little odd, but it has its moments.  Basically if Ved Buens Ende ("Written in Waters" era) hung around with Deathspell Omega (modern era) and Blut Aus Nord you'd basically get Ab Imo Pectore.  The real question becomes: "how well does this combination work?"  In my opinion it didn't really win me over in the end.  I can see why it caught Debemur-Morti's attention and it does have a slightly different kind of avantgarde feel at times, but it's not a combination that really resonated well for me.  At times they do some great stuff like one of the ending riffs in "Shearers of God", which is also a great song title!  I think part of the problem is the blending isn't as seamless as it should be.  I get the impression that a lot of it is broken up in the "this is the Ved Buens Ende part" so they use the appropriate "Written in Waters" vocal performance, then they have the Deathspell Omega part and use the necessary harsh vocals and so on.  I think it is an interesting idea to blend these things together and maybe they could work very well, but I don't think I'm fully hearing it on this demo.

The whole art and aesthetics of the album are extremely well done.  I even like a lot of the lyrics.  They have that sort of rustic and occult feel, which fits with the overall production of the music.  The recording quality is a little harsher than one might expect from a Debemur-Morti release, but this is a demo after all.  I think Ab Imo Pectore are off to a decent start and it might be a little while before their full concept really makes it to fruition.  For now we have "Shearers of God," which was my favorite track on this demo.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Chelmno - Chelmno
Self-Released, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Necrolove
3. Grim Vengeance
4. Chelmno
5. Satan My Master (Bathory Cover)

I picked this up solely because of Vidharr's presence in this project.  I've loved his work with Tenebrae in Perpetuum and Beatrik, so I figured I would check out Chelmno to see if that level of quality would be maintained.  I was fairly wrong about that when it comes to this release.  I didn't enjoy this at all.  This was released on cassette only and limited to 88 hand-numbered copies of which I own #74.  The booklet is fairly well done, it has multiple panels, but is only single sided.  The tape is just a dubbed tape with a sticker on it with the bands name and written underneath is "Chelmno doesn't support the National Socialism, but the extreme evil actions it has done."

Moving onto the music... Chelmno play an extremely lo-fi harsh style of Black Metal.  This is to be expected in some ways since this was recorded on a 4-track as the tape explains.  As far as 4-track recordings go, this came out pretty well, but the music is nothing compelling.  There are some aspects of this that really shine through like the opening section of "Grim Vengeance" which has a fine Black Metal riff to start off.  The rest of the songs have that sort of old Punky edge to the riffing, but it is probably more drawn off of what Darkthrone has done.  However, Chelmno hardly even begins to keep up with the quality Darkthrone are capable of producing.  I may be a little biased, because I'm usually not into this type of Black Metal, but I've just heard other bands include these elements in a much better light.  I found the riffs boring and lost interest with most of the work because it didn't stand out very well.  The vocals are atrocious and it just sounds like someone chirping in the background with a lot of echo on their vocals.  They even felt the need to brag about this "No effects use (only echo on voice)".  This aspect just made the unmemorable music unbearable...

Chelmno are not off to a good start with this demo.  However, since bands can change drastically from their demo days into their albums I will at least check out any debut full length they produce.  Maybe I'm missing something that a studio recording will bring to light and make the band sound much better to me.  In the end, I really don't think this demo is meant for me and if you like ultra primitive Black Metal then you may find some merit in this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Subvertio Deus

Subvertio Deus - Psalms of Perdition
Satanic Propaganda Records, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

N:C:U/Exitium Productions, 2012

1. Alpha
2. Psalm I
3. Psalm II
4. Theoria
5. Psalm III
6. Psalm IV
7. Omega

I have only recently been exposed to Subvertio Deus (2013) and I'm honestly surprised I missed out on this release when it was first exposed.  Subvertio Deus are playing a style of Black Metal that really connects with me, because when I was starting to grow a bit disinterested in the genre some bands started doing this new thing where they evoking a dark and sinister atmosphere to agree that I can only describe as the audio representation of a "religious experience" or grand revelation.  "Psalms of Perdition" attempts to capture a similar essence in the vein of philosophical realization.

It seems there are very few bands that manage to do this.  Many attempt to do this, I think, but few succeed. Those who succeed only seem to have one good album of this caliber in their creative bodies.  Deathspell Omega's "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice" is the only album that Deathspell Omega furnished of this caliber.  Glorior Belli had "O Laudate Dominus", Ondskapt had "Draco Sit Mihi Dux", Sanctus Nex has only one album thus far, Rex Mundi's "IHVH" captured this sound and Mortuus' immense "De Contemplanda Mort" brought one of the finest representations of this sound.  A lot of these bands have only one album of this caliber and I suspect only one will surface of this level of quality and I don't think Subvertio Deus will be any exception to the this.  As said before, many attempt this effort, but few manage to succeed in bringing the listener to full immersion and Subvertio Deus is one of the bands that succeeds.

Musically "Psalms of Perdition" is what you would expect from the above references.  This album stands directly between Deathspell Omega's "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice" and Ondskapt's "Draco Sit Mihi Dux".  At least this makes sense geographically since the band is from England!  In any event the guitar work is exceptionally well composed, but I think leans more on the Deathspell Omega side and actually manages to bridge the writing ideas of "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice" and their more modern sound.  At least this is very successfully accomplished with "Psalm IV."  The riffing in that song gets more frenetic as the listener journeys and this is sort of the bridge I wish Deathspell Omega had constructed for it's listeners as they evolved.  Most of the songs have this wonderful plodding clean guitar passages that are entirely expected on an Ondskapt release.  The vocal work is, to me, influenced by Glorior Belli and Ondskapt.  Most of the vocal work is similar to what Infestuus performed with a low sort of gutterul growl.  However, when their vocalist launches into these haunting tortured screams it is directly out of the book of "Draco Sit Mihi Dux."  Recall that Ondskapt would never use this kind of vocal performance again on their later releases, leading me to further suggest bands have one album of this quality in them, even if the band goes on to do other great things as well.  This makes for a beautiful and haunting composition that is quite the journey for the listener.  I really can't expound on how well Subvertio Deus pulled this off.

The only real gripe I have with this release is an aspect of the recording quality.  Everything came out very well done, except for the drum production.  You can hear the drums for the most part, but the bass drum is extremely low in the mix.  I also wish they had made an effort to add more reverb to the drum performance.  One thing that stood out about Ondskapt's "Draco Sit Mihi Dux" is how thunderous the drums came across and how well it enhanced the music.  Subvertio Deus would have benefited from this greatly in their recording quality and it would've been especially haunting during the clean guitar passages.  The other very minor thing I would have changed is I would have gotten rid of the solo during "Psalm IV."  I feel it disrupts the listeners train of thought more than it should, but it is the only time this happens so that is only a very minute concern.  The only thing I would have added is during the outro of "Psalm I" I think I would have had the clean guitar switch to a grand piano as it faded out.  This would have been a very interesting dynamic to add only once into the entire recording.

The booklet is exceptionally well designed and is clearly influenced by Deathspell Omega's "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmpsice" in format.  Only with Subvertio Deus they took it one step further and added reference and commentary to the lyrics.  It really is like looking at an annotated commentary on a religious work.  It comes across as being highly academic and well referenced, which I found only added appreciation to their work.  Rather than take the usual route of an occult work, they've taken the occult work and provided a sort of commentary.  I think this is a spectacular idea artistically, because it's like taking the seminal work by Deathspell Omega and then having another scholar add in their commentary.  This is very often done with religious works and I love the way it adds to their format and art.

Philosophically I think Subvertio Deus is trying to present a similar concept as what Rex Mundi had in mind philosophically.  This is really backed up by their "artist statement" at the end of the booklet:  "...the purpose of Subvertio Deus was not to propagate any form of Theism or Diabolism, but rather to seek both entities within the self.  By taking ascetic principles and esoteric practices towards pain and taking radical skepticism to logical absurdities; perceptions of reality and self-hood are dissolved and the distinctions of value, meaning and moral judgement collapse without any stones of foundation."  Further in this statement it references this being an "epitaph" for the band and I hope this is not alluding to the project being closed after the single release.  Time will tell with that.

For those entranced by highly philosophical works you will find great merit in this release.  I personally highly recommend it as being beautifully and artfully well done.

Neige Éternelle

Neige Éternelle - Neige Éternelle
Sepulchral Productions, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Cri de Guerre
2. Fier Patriote
3. Vent de Puissance
4. L'Appel de la Mort
5. Comme une Charogne
6. Plus les Jours s'Avancent
7. Triste Pensée
8. Pluie de Couteaux

Three years after a four song demo Neige Éternelle finally get the chance to record and put out a full length album.  Even though I was a little skeptical after hearing the demo material, I am very pleased to say it was worth the wait.  I imagine the notoriety of their live presence is what really caught the eye of Sepulchral and really they could not have wound up on a finer roster.  The album has a beautiful cover with exceptoinal design for what Neige Éternelle are trying to present.  My only gripe about this is that I wish they had more of a booklet.  Even if it was just pictures of the beautiful region the band is from.

On their debut album Neige Éternelle has decided to re-record all the songs from "Forêt Nord-Côtière" and they have also recorded four new tracks, one of which showed up on their "Live" performance.  While the original demo had more of an old Scandinavian bent to the sound, I feel a lot of the new tracks are distinctly taken from more of the Finnish style of Black Metal.  Here I reference bands like Horna, Sargeist, Behexen, and anything with that kind of feel.  Neige Éternelle take some of this and recast it in a different light, which gives their songs a relatively unique feel.  I think we started to see this show up in the song "Triste Pensée" a little bit, but I don't think it showed up as prominently on the original demo.  Despite the huge gap in song writing styles, Neige Éternelle still managed to put together a fairly cohesive album.  The wildly popular "Fier Patriote" came out so strong on this that it will only make that song more popular than it already is!  I will say that I do like the more melancholic newer tracks over the harsh and primitive concepts on the earliest material.  I feel like Neige Éternelle were given a more thought provoking landscape in which to write since everything sounds better.  Not only the musical arrangements, but even the drum lines are far more interesting and Faüst can really shine though a lot more.  There are even sections where BG's bass shines through the shadows and adds an excellent extra layer, which was almost unheard in the original demo material.  Sti's vocal performance is very spectacular and I think he really got to present his skill a lot more than any of the prior recordings.  I will admit I was a little worried about how the howling section of "Cri de Guerre" would translate into the studio, but it managed to come across very well.  The single complaint I have about the recording quality is that the vocals are just a little too high in the mix and can drown out the other instruments from time to time.  If Sti wasn't such a good vocalist this could have been a lot more damaging to their performance and I would have only turned them down a small degree.

In the end we have an extremely strong debut.  Given the rather stark difference in songwriting from three years ago I am very interested to see where Neige Éternelle go from here.  Will they transform more in the future?  Or have they come into a sound that really defines the project, because they do seem very good with the new songs.  I definitely consider this a band to keep your eye on and a must see live band if you ever get the chance!  Neige Éternelle is definitely a buy.

Neige Éternelle - Live
Les Productions Hérétique, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Cri de Guerre
2. Fier Patriote
3. L'Appel de la Mort
4. Plus les Jours s'Avancent
5. Nocturnal Evil/Sadomatic Rites (Beherit Cover)
6. Down There... (Beherit Cover)
7. The Gate of Nanna (Beherit Cover)

After quite a while of waiting Neige Éternelle return with a live recording.  I would have much preferred a studio recording from the project, but it is good to see they are still going.  I actually had the pleasure of seeing them perform live at Messe des Morts II and that's really what sparked my interest in the project.  Regardless of the fact that they were playing fairly typical Black Metal, they were doing it extremely well, so it was definitely worth my time to check them out more.  This recording comes in cassette format and is limited to 100 copies.  It also comes with a well done Neige Éternelle patch!

As you would expect most of the songs on this recording are live performances of the songs found on the demo.  The only difference for the four songs is "L'appel de la Mort" is a new track and "Triste Pensée" did not find it's way into their live rotation.  The new song appears to be very well done and they may be hitting that level of Black Metal that really gets me interested.  It is good to see this band is still writing and perhaps a full length is on the horizon for the fans.  This  live performance closes with a very strange thing.  After they performed the Neige Éternelle originals, they went on to perform four Beherit covers.  Given Beherit's messy and chaotic approach to music, I am surprised Neige Éternelle would find them so influential as to perform this many songs in tribute to the band.  I don't think Beherit has experienced this much structure on their early works.  It is pretty stark to hear the change in writing quality from a modern day band versus the very early fledgling works of Black Metal's creation.  Naturally, Neige Éternelle perform the songs very well and I'm sure it must have been quite a treat to the audience to see.

The recording quality is about what you would expect.  It's a little heavy in the bass frequencies, but after you get used to it it does seem to be less overwhelming.  You can basically hear everything that's going on and that's really what you want to hear out of this.  I've heard much worse quality live recordings from other bands, so the fact I can hear more than just a wall of metal noise is definitely working in this tapes favor.

This is probably for the die-hard Neige Éternelle fans.  In my case I simply didn't own any of the bands releases at this time and I wanted to show support for their exceptional live performance.  I truly hope a full length will be coming soon, because I want to be more enamored with this band than just their live work, which is very good.

Neige Éternelle - Forêt Nord-Côtière
Self-Released, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. Fier Patriote
2. Triste Pensée
3. Plus les Jours s'Avancent
4. Cri de Guerre

Neige Éternelle reach us from the very northern regions of Quebec.  They've only graced us with a single demo so far, by the time I first heard of this project.  Unfortunately, I don't own a copy of the original demo so I am stuck reviewing mp3's in 192kbps.

Neige Éternelle play a very raw and sort catchy style of Black Metal and that is best exemplified with "Fier Patriote".  This raw representation hearkens back to earlier days of Scandinavian Black Metal, which Neige Éternelle seem to perform quite well.  While the music is clearly well composed and interesting, I am not too surprised no one picked this band up immediately.  Hundreds of bands had presented this style before and I think Neige Eternelle would have to give us something a bit more than this demo to really capture the imaginations of the listener.  At the very least, while many many bands attempt to emulate this sound, Neige Éternelle do an excellent job at capturing it correctly.

The recording quality is actually quite good for a demo.  Everything is actually mixed and balanced very well.  The bass drum may not appear as prominently enough, but every other aspect of the kit there.

In the end, if you miss the old glory days of Black Metal, this is probably a band to keep your eye on.  They are clearly a very skilled band and I would certainly be interested to hear what this band can put together in the future.  Hopefully they can get their name out there more and we'll hear more from this project.