Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wings of War

Beleth & Wings of War - The Flames of Evil
Self Released, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dzikich Kapłanek Wielki Dzień (Sabat)
2. Dusze Wyklętych
3. Groza w Postaci Nowego Boga
4. Brothers of Black Alliance
5. Ghoul (Mayhem Cover)
Wings of War:
6. Intro
7. Ostatni Hymn
8.Tej Nocy Zabiję...

Side Beleth: here
Side Wings of War:

Even though this is re-released material for Beleth this is actually Wings of War's debut material. The real draw for this project is that it features Belial from Moontower, now named Apocalyptic Winds for this project, on vocals and guitar. While I greatly enjoy Moontower and the work they do, I wish I had a more favorable outlook on Wings of War.

I'm not really sure what the bands real goal is. At times they have a sort of old school Black Metal sound as if when Black Metal was transitioning from the days of Thrash and at times they have a more standard Black Metal sound. The production is raw and harsh as you would expect from a band trying to cast itself in that transitional phase. However, this stuff didn't really work for me. The guitar tone is entirely too fuzzy and the harsh quality doesn't give anything a razor edge, instead it gives a sort of muddy feel to the music. There's almost no atmosphere to behold and I think that's really where this project loses me.

Given Moontowers track record, I'll probably see if Wings of War can produce anything better on future releases. This really is just demo material, so it's pretty hard to judge a bands more polished material later. Maybe in a few releases Wings of War will have garnered some kind of direction that really works for their style. For now, this really wasn't anything that interesting.


Beleth - Total Satanic Onslaught
Old Legend Productions, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Total Satanic Onslaught
2. Eradicate the Weak
3. Katakumby Diabła
4. Śmierć Obłudnych Mas
5. Zaplute Ścierwo Jahwe
6. Facing Eternal Damnation

It's taken quite a while, but we finally have a new release from the might Beleth. There have been some serious line-up changes over these past years. Asmenoth is the only remaining founding member... which is good since I believe it's really his main project. However, we pick-up with two new members that are no stranger to performing good Black Metal. Taking over vocal and bass duties is Eradicator from Naburus and Negathor, where he also plays with new drummer Strzygon. Strzygon really makes the intensity of this album stand out given how fast this guy can play. Eradicator is definitely a good replacement for the days of Aghor Norg, he doesn't sound just like him. But his vocal quality isn't the same as the standard Black Metal vocalist. He's got this under current rasp that really let's Beleth's style stand out more. At times he sounds a bit like Aldrahn from Dødheimsgard, which is absolutely nothing to complain about!

It seems Beleth doesn't produce the best material whenever they do splits and when it comes to engaging their discography the full-lengths are truly where this band shines. "Total Satanic Onslaught" absolutely lives up to its title. Not only is the music fast, vicious, and violent, it also has a sort of haunting quality to it. They return to using riffs that really draw the listener into their sound like we heard on "Nieuchronne Widmo Śmierci", but all of this is cast in an even faster and intense frame. While not the best album I've heard all year, Beleth is here to keep the violence in Black Metal and for that they are totally worth listening to. "Total Satanic Onslaught" is absolutely an album worth getting in my opinion and its some of the more vicious material you'll find around.

Again... if you like your Black Metal fast and violent, Beleth is what you are looking for. It seems they do best when there are long waits between releases, so we'll probably have to wait a while for the next release. Hopefully, it will be well worth the wait if they can keep giving us albums of this high quality. Enjoy the truly extreme!

Beleth/Moontower/Wings of War - Bestial Holocaust
Hell is Here Production, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dechristianity Through Atrocity
2. Zło W Myśli, Zło W Słowie, Zło W Czynie
3. Mist
4. War Passion
Wings of War:
5. Prepare for War (Intro)
6. Infernal Wings of War
7. The Sermon of Satan

Side Moontower: ...coming eventually...
Side Wings of War: ...coming eventually...
Side Beleth:

After a couple years of waiting Beleth finally return with some new vicious and intense material. This was actually the first time I've heard the mighty Beleth. I got this 3-way split because I was following Moontower's career for quite some time. While the music is pretty much what you would expect after hearing the magnificent "Nieuchronne Widmo Śmierci" the sad news is that Aghor Norg has left his vocal duties. So, now the vocals don't have that stand out edge they had before. Luckily they found a decent replacement. He doesn't sound as unique, but he's a solid screamer for a Black Metal band.

The two tracks Beleth submit to this split are just a fast blitzkrieg attack of Black Metal. They don't really have those catchier riffs this time around, but they are certainly better produced than the Thanathron split. If you thought these two tracks sounded very good then I highly recommend you check out the full-length "Nieuchronne Widmo Śmierci" because that will pleasantly surprise you very much. I'm just glad to see that Beleth have not lost their edge and in fact their music just seems to get more and more vicious as the years go on. If you want fast hateful Black Metal, Beleth is the band you are looking for!

Beleth - Nieuchronne Widmo Śmierci
Hail Satan 666 Productions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. Destruction of Holiness
2. Zdrajcy - Zniszczeni Przez Plagę Czarnego Trucizny
3. Przeklęte Wiary Słowa
4. Niszcz Swe Życie Dla Szatana
5. The Great King of Hell
6. Rasa Satanistycznych Wojowników
7. Psalm Potępienia
8. Nieuchronne Widmo Śmierci

Now this is what I was expecting when I put in new Beleth material. Based on the last split I was sort of worried about the direction the band could be taking for future releases, but even though this came out the same hear as the split with Thanathron it sounds entirely different! "Nieuchronne Widmo Śmierci" is a wonderfully executed onslaught of violent Black Metal. This is really their debut album and it is certainly worth checking out. This CD is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and I happen to own #491.

I feel like Beleth have finally hit their true sound and brought back their original vocalist, which is one of the things that made them stand out among the rest of the Black Metal bands. The music is written more like the early demos and this album is filled with hateful riffs that just tear you into this music. "Nieuchronne Widmo Śmierci", as you can guess from the album art, is a raw onslaught of Black Metal. They've definitely upped the ante in intensity form their demo days have a lot more blast beat sections in their music. This plays in well with their riffs though.

I think a lot of people might be a bit to swift in dismissing this as generic, but I think Beleth offers a lot more here than you can hear at first glance. Sure they're heavily rooted in the usual form of Black Metal, but their execution is so good that I can't help but get really into it. I really love the way this album is put together and you can feel their hate flow through every single second. Just remember "Beleth is at eternal war with judeo-christianity - smash this filthy way of life!!! Black Metal does not capture any prisoners of war!!!" So, if that kind of band appeals to you... this is everything you're looking for. I hope their music continues to be this strong.

Beleth & Thanathron - Voice of Inferno
Hell is Here Production, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

Beleth: Warlike Existence of Night
1. Brothers of Black Alliance
2. Might of Thelema
3. Millennium of Darkness
4. Awakening of the Forgotten Deities
5. Echoes of the Night Voice
6. Outro
7. Bonus: Live Under Blasphemous Banner Vol. II 20.11.2005
Thanathron: Nosferatu
8. Nosferatu - Part I
9. Nosferatu - Part II
10. The Dawn Will Never Come (Infernum Cover)

Side Thanathron: ...coming eventually...
Side Beleth:

Another year and we get some more Beleth material. Unfortunatley, it's mostly old material, but this time it is a re-release of their first demo "Warlike Existence of Night" originally released in 2003. I was never able to track down the original of this material, so the material is new to me. "Brothers of Black Alliance" has already been released again on a different recording. Once again the material is presented in the form of a split cassette, which I'm sure is limited, but no limitation is cited anywhere. It comes with a pro-printed booklet and dubbed tape though. The booklet is actually really nice multi-panel booklet with band photos and liner notes.

Even though "Brothers of Black Alliance" has been released before, I feel like this version is very different. I think a lot of this could have something to do with Venturis being a session vocalist giving the sound a very different feel. His vocals sound quite good with the project though, but I'm not sure they're better than how Beleth evolved with Argor Norg. As I sort of expected, the music isn't as strong as their later material. The Black Metal feels a lot more standard and the riffing just doesn't hook me in the same way as their second demo material did. In fact there wasn't much on here that was very memorable in the end. The Beleth side ends with a barely audible live recording... so a fairly lackluster release overall.

In the end I can see why Beleth never really went anywhere with this material, I don't think this more ultra standard style suits them very well. Luckily their future is much brighter, because this release was just somewhat tiresome at best.

Beleth & Shining Abyss - Sacrifice for Black Metal
Total War, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dusze Wyklętych
2. Dzikich Kapłanek Wielki Dzień
3. Awakening of Forgotten Deities
4. Groza w Postaci Nowego Boga
5. Ghoul (Mayhem Cover)
6. Przeklęte Wiary Słowa
Shining Abyss:
7. Intro
8. Soul of Blasphemy
9. Funeral Procession
10. Forgotten Soul
11. Eternal Flames
12. Outro

Shining Abyss: ...coming eventually...

This is Beleth's first live release and it comes in the form of a split. I think a lot of the motivation for the release was to re-release the long lost material from Shining Abyss, which was originally released in 1996. This tape comes on a pro-printed booklet with a dubbed tape and is limited to 200 hand-numbered copies. I own #3... which is one of the lowest numbers in all the numbered material I have!

Beleth give us a vicious and noisy set from 2006. Aside from the fact that there is entirely too much feedback between tracks, the recording is actually pretty solid. We can hear everything alright for the most part. Beleth's set is mainly comprised of the material you find on the splits with Wings of War and Nocturnal. I imagine this would have been a pretty intense set to partake of. If you're already a die-hard Beleth fan, then this tape is certainly worth getting.

Beleth & Wings of War - The Flames of Evil
Self Released, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dzikich Kapłanek Wielki Dzień (Sabat)
2. Dusze Wyklętych
3. Groza w Postaci Nowego Boga
4. Brothers of Black Alliance
5. Ghoul (Mayhem Cover)
Wings of War:
6. Intro
7. Ostatni Hymn
8.Tej Nocy Zabiję...

Side Wings of War: here
Side Beleth:

A fairly typical thing seems to be re-releasing your material as new splits. After just year of Beleth's split with Nocturnal they re-released all that material, but this time with Wings of War. One thing I do like here is that Beleth sweetened the deal a little bit and included the two tracks they submitted for the "Dead & Euronymous Tribute" compilation. So, not only do we get the prior split material, we get the other material as well. This comes a CDr copy with just a booklet, no jewel case. The booklet is professional printed, but it's only a jacket, there are no pages to flip through. The interior is a picture of the bands behind the split, which isn't too bad. Like the prior split this is limited to 150 copies, but there is no numbering this time around.

So the two tracks appearing from the compilation are pretty good. The "Ghoul" cover feels a little rough, but then again it is from the very first Mayhem demo. The new song they submitted "Brothers of Black Alliance" is a bit stronger than the older material, so it seems Beleth are still improving. Certainly nothing to complain about. The production quality seems to be a little better too, but still maintaining that raw style from the first split. With only two new tracks from Beleth there isn't much to say... Wings of War's new material is the real draw for this split it seems.

Beleth & Nocturnal - Gott is Tod
Hail Satan 666, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dzikich Kapłanek Wielki Dzień (Sabat)
2. Dusze Wyklętych
3. Groza w Postaci Nowego Boga
4. Open Christian Terror - Sodomize the Lambs of Christ
5. I Pass this World like a Funeral
6. Ripping Christian Carrion

Side Nocturnal: ...coming eventually...
Side Beleth:

I really give up on trying to find Beleth's first demo (apparently I didn't give up based on the review below), so I'm going to resort to just skipping to their first split with Nocturnal. If their debut is anything like the material on here, it's probably a fairly solid release. This comes as a cassette only with a pro-printed booklet and is limited to 150 hand-numbered copies. I have copy #30. The booklet is actually pretty well done and is double sided with pictures of the band, which is a nice touch. I feel like I get too man tapes with a single sided booklet these days.

Beleth's work on here is a blitzkrieg of violent and intense Black Metal. It's certainly nothing new, but I do like the violently anti-Christian Black Metal that some bands can still manage to generate. Cast in the raw production gives this split a different kind of edge to it than most of the modern hateful Black Metal bands. Even though they're not really adding anything new, I'm sort of a sucker for this style of Black Metal, because the riffs are simple, yet well crafted and I really appreciate that. It has a certain level of catchiness that really draws you into the music instantly. I think this simplicity gives their work a sort of early Black Metal feel and with their production it has a layer of genuine raw demo style that a lot of modern bands try to emulate, but never really master. The members of Beleth are no stranger to Black Metal, which is probably what gives this material a serious edge over other bands. Having accomplished musicians and writers can really set up that differentiation from day one.

If you like raw and intense Black Metal then Beleth is a band to watch. If you're looking for the next big thing in originality, this probably isn't it, but you do get some solidly well written material. Most of the time that's really all I ask for, because in some way I can at least enjoy the music. This is definitely a band I'll be paying attention to in the future.

Beleth - Warlike Existence of Night
Hail Satan 666 Productions, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Brothers of Black Alliance
2. Might Thelema
3. Millennium of Darkness
4. Awakening Forgotten Deities
5. Echoes of the Night
6. Outro

I finally managed to track down the first Beleth release after reviewing their entire discography. This is definitely Do It Yourself CD-R type of thing, even though the label eventually turns more professional in its pressings later. This demo must have been one of its earlier releases. This entire layout looks like its from an inkjet printer printed on cardstock created with one of those "make your own" CD kits... I remember, its how I used to make CD's for my old crappy project too. Ah, the memories. This release is limited to 200 hand-numbered copies and I own #167.

Like my old crappy projects printed on CD-R in a similar fashion, Beleth's debut is no exception to that perception. This feels almost as amateur as things can get at times. Somehow they've managed to record drums in such a way that they sound incredibly thin. Usually in Black Metal we have thin guitars, but for Beleth they take things to the next level with super thin drum tone. The music is generally uninspired and trends more towards the mid-paced feel. Blast beats are few and far between, because they tend to be off time when they show up. In fact a lot of the music is not in time with each other. It sounds like the drummer tries to do some cool things, but is only okay at executing it. The vocals are rather boring as well, they tend to trend toward that sort of clipped spoken word version of Black Metal. Immortal does this style a lot and Beleth seem to be following in that footstep a little bit.

In the end I'm glad I did not hear this first and, instead, heard their other releases first. Beleth eventually turned into a pretty good band and it's kind of shocking hearing that this is how they started out. They were either very young on this release of very inexperienced musicians...or both. In the end... I can't imagine listening to this very much and will certainly be sticking with their later efforts.

Flame of War

Flame of War - Long Live Death!
Lower Silesian Stronghold, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Hammer of Ragnarok
2. Lunar Plains
3. The Pulse of the Void
4. The Fates and the Usurper
5. Mare Tenebrarum
6. The Iron Age of Europa

When I saw Flame of War had a new album out, I was immediately excited to get this given how incredible "Transcendence" was. The fact that it was coming from Lower Silesian Stonghold also gave me hope, because they release some great material as well. Another thing that is good about this release is we finally get a nice full booklet for Flame of War. The art is really good and has a lot pictures from a World War I setting, which I really appreciate, because I think a lot of the bands focus more on World War II. Endstille aside, that's kind of their concept and I love that band.

How did this match up against "Transcendence" musically. To be honest, I don't think it really competes. On one hand this is more like an updated "Europa" which is a good thing, but maybe Njord realized he couldn't write music to compete with "Transcendence" again. One thing that does stand out is he's using a session drummer P, who currently plays in Dark Fury and more well known for his Wschód project and the real drums are a very welcome change. It really adds a more organic feel into Flame of War's music. Hopefully he'll stay working with the project for years to come. Njord is still using the two guitar lines that I've wanted him to use, but I'm not sure the core riffing really competes as well as before. Not every song is really spectacular either... parts of "Mare Tenebrarum" drag on a bit more than I would like them to, even though I love the way that song closes. On the other hand "The Fates and the Usurper" is a great song, so this album has a lot of up and down qualities to it. The raw, but still audible production gives this album a really nice edge to it that the other Flame of War albums don't have at all. I had some hope for "The Iron Age of Europe" clocking in at nearly eighteen minutes to, perhaps, be like a song off of "Transcendence", but it fits more acutely with "Long Live Death!". There are parts of this song that remind me of Arckanum though, and that's certainly not a bad thing.

In the end, perhaps my expectations were a bit too high. Or maybe a bit to specific. "Long Live Death!" is a very decent album... but it's no "Transcendence". I feel like this album is a bit too inconsistent in its writing for me to have fallen deeply in love with it. It's not a bad album by any means, but it's also not a spectacular album that makes me want to run out and tell everyone about. I know Flame of War has it in them to craft some incredible music and I would certainly like to see that happen again. I really do like a lot of the direction Njord is trying to take Flame of War and perhaps this is yet another kind of transition for the projects actual growth.

Flame of War - Transcendence
Eastside, 2009
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Transcendence
2. Unity
3. Fate

Wow... what an album. If you said "Transcendence" was going to be the follow-up to "Europa" I probably wouldn't have believed you. Don't be fooled by the three tracks, this album is nearly an hour in length. Every track is just spectacular and it really does transcend the foundation that Njord was trying to lay with the "Europa" album. Another first is that the lyrics are printed in the booklet.

"Transcendence" truly launched Flame of War into the rank of Atmospheric Black Metal, I really feel like this the direction Njord was trending in from the earliest recordings I've heard. Remember my major complaint on "The Flames are Rising" about there needing to be a second guitar to really make his music sound majestic... well "Transcendence" finally adds that necessary step into the mix. Each track just builds and builds and finally culminates with the incredible "Fate", which is by far the best song on this album. While the usual roots of Burzum are strong with Flame of War, "Transcendence" feels more like Njord is stepping out on his own. Each song is crafted with such care to evoke an immersive experience that you just don't want to let this album go once you've heard it.

I'm really looking forward to what Flame of War has in store for us next. It's taken them a while for them to craft something this magnificent, but it was truly worth the wait. "Transcendence" is an album that is definitely on my list of must have releases. If you really like that somber and soaring Atmospheric Black Metal then "Transcendence" is really the album you're looking for.

Flame of War - Europa; Or, the Spirit Among the Ruins
Under the Sign of Garazel, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Heathen Mysticism Pt. I
2. Imperium
3. Spirit Among the Ruins
4. Ragnarok - Beholding  the Inevitable
5. Long Live Death!
6. Heathen Mysticism pt. II

After a fairly lacklustre debut, I was honestly up for anything with Flame of War releasing their first album on CD. The fact that it was being done under the care of Under the Sign of Garazel gave me quite a bit of hope for this project. I'm actually quite pleased to report that "Europa" is a far superior product! Even though Strzygon has given up his vocal duties, leaving only Njord to handle them, this release is still a vast improvement. Even though we have more a booklet this time, there are just a few pictures of landscapes and graves, but not much beyond that.

It's kind of surprising the difference a year can make for some musicians. Njord's composition level has improved dramatically. He's starting to craft riffs that work quite well for a much longer duration of play. I'm no longer checking the clock while the minutes click by as I wait for the song to move on. However, this is all that has really been improved upon. The music still feels a little one dimensional with the focus on only one guitar line, but with the far superior riffs I'm not going to complain that much. I'm sure other people will find this boring and derivative, citing Burzum as having primary claim. Maybe that's true... but "Europa" is still a pretty decent album. Flame of War actually have a tangible atmosphere this time and it is quite epic and melancholic for the majority of the release. Flame of War is a slow moving contemplative band meant to immerse the listener in their craft. The huge improvement with "Europa' is that I can actually get immersed and lost in their riffs this time around. That wasn't true before. Just listen to that closing riff of "Long Live Death!"... simply magnificent. I have even higher hopes for Flame of War after hearing this. I will definitely be eagerly awaiting their next release to see if further improvements develop.

I think this is a release that will be lost on a large portion of the Black Metal scene. I think the long tracks and epic structuring will bore the more impatient listeners of the genre. I also think a lot of people will find this material highly derivative of other bands, but that certainly doesn't stop this from being a very fine release. It's a very unfortunate by-product of people always wanting the next new thing... oh well, I quite enjoyed "Europa". It's a great album for a "quiet" day or slow moving activity. Despite the band name, "Europa" is not an in your face release, instead it serves the draw the listener in.

Flame of War - The Flames are Rising
Werewolf Promotions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. Płomień Wojny
2. Ancient Code of Life
3. Pod Sztandarem Peruna
4. Kurhany
5. Kurhany
6. Nawia
7. Beyond

After two demo tapes, which I can't find anywhere, Flame of War is prepared to release their debut full-length. It doesn't feel too different from a demo as it's only a cassette edition limited to 200 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #53... or maybe #59 it's kind of hard to read this one. It comes with a small booklet and the cassette is a dubbed tape with stickers. The reason I found out about this project is the member Njord would eventually join Dark Fury, which is a band I've enjoyed for a while now.

I wish I could say "The Flames are Rising" is a wonderful album, but I have to be honest and say that it is only okay. I think Flame of War have some potential and they do manage to create some decent atmosphere in parts of this album. Unfortunately, the majority of the riffing comes across as fairly generic. It's almost reminiscent of the late 90's phase of Black Metal, where everything started to feel overdone. I feel like this suffers from a lot of other problematic bands, if you just added a second guitar lead to enhance the rhythm section you'd have some great material on your hands. Unfortunately, this never seems to be realized. The underlying rhythms are actually quite good, but if you put a lead guitar over them, they would really transcend in terms of the atmosphere. This material really gets daunting due to the track length. There are songs on here that clock in at over ten minutes and the same kind of Burzum riff over and over can get a little tedious after a while. This isn't always a bad thing when done really well, but the riffs aren't strong enough to hold up that kind of repetition, unfortunately.

I think Flame of War has serious potential, because the overall backdrop of the music is really spectacular. But it really needs a little something more to truly come into its own. We'll see what manifests with future releases concerning this project, but for now they are only producing something mediocre.

Fuil Na Seanchoille

Fuil Na Seanchoille - Hunger
Tour de Garde, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Infinite Void
2. Promethean Age
3. The Crimson Hand
4. Glasslands
5. Night Descends
6. Circe of Rape
7. Anord Sigrai
8. A Thousand Shades of Grey
9. Outro

This was sort of a random purchase on my behalf. It was in a list of tapes and I like the things Tour de Garde has done, for whatever reason I searched the name and listened to a sample. I only heard a couple minutes and I was instantly hooked. "Hunger" is Fuil Na Seanchoille's debut full-length and comes after two demos, which I don't own yet. I was surprised to see this was a one man project of Satyrign from Ireland. I actually don't have a lot of material hailing out of Ireland unfortunately... but if there is more like this out there I want more. As far as I know this has only been released on cassette and it is limited to 300 copies. A very unfortunate thing, given how solid "Hunger" is. It comes with a pro-printed tape and a wonderful multi-page booklet with Gustav Dore art with the lyrical passages printed in various locations. One thing I do like is that it doesn't use one of Dore's overused pictures in Black Metal.

"Hunger" opens with the incredible "The Infinite Void", which reminded me a lot of Tenebrae in Perpetuum. I am quite happy with this, since I like seeing that projects sound kept alive after they are gone. Fuil Na Seanchoille play the kind of raw and harsh Black Metal I really love. In their hands that sound enhances their songs a lot. The recording quality is just good enough to make out what is going on. The harshness adds a layer of vicious and dense darkness to the songs being performed. This is sort of how Tenebrae in Perpetuum used their production value as well, but Fuil Na Seanchoille is merely influenced by the great Italian project. "Hunger" does an excellent job of combining some intense raging passages with droning melancholic moments and somehow doesn't break the atmosphere generated by the whole album. I think, actually, the rhythmic and haunting bass line really holds the transitions together extremely well.

Fuil Na Seanchoille is raw Black Metal done right. If you want to get an idea of how to perform this style to its highest effect, check this project out. "Hunger" is a desolate journey of hatred and melancholy. It's almost a shame so few people will hear it amidst the Black Metal scene... then again sometimes that might be a good thing.

Fuil Na Seanchoille - Bitter Dusk of Futures Past
Self-Released, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Bitter Dusk of Futures Past
2. Dorchadas Agus Foréigean / Deireadh Fómhair MDLXXX
3. Monuments to Ruin
4. Fuilchoille

After the success of the first demo Fuil Na Seanchoille return in the following year with four new songs. Like the first demo this is a xeroxed cover with dubbed tape and limited to 100 copies. This time the booklet is a little more interesting to look at. It has actual cover art, features a picture of the man behind the project and is also a double sided printed booklet.

This second demo has a much higher quality feel to it. The writing feels even more fleshed out than before. The title track has a really incredibly haunting feel to the nature of the song. At first I thought the band would take a more haunting approach to their sound, but the more "attack" feel to their music comes back in the second track... which has a title that is way too long. It does make sense because the track does fall off into some haunting ambience at some point. After the ambience break the demo does pick up again with the hate filled style I've come to expect from the project.

A higher quality effort than the first demo, which is what we would expect from a growing project. It seems they've nailed that harsh recording style to blend into their music even better than before. I truly hope a full-length will be imminent after this demo, because it feels like the writing is ready for it as well. A great second demo and I highly recommend people check this project out sooner than later.

Fuil Na Seanchoille - Demo MMVIII
Self-Released, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. As an tOrithear
2. Bánú Na Ammanna Críoch
3. Seancríonnacht

This is Fuil Na Seanchoille's debut to the world. As one would expect this is a fairly harsh and raw demo tape. It comes with a xeroxed cover and dubbed tape limited to 100 copies. The crumpled looking cover design really gives this a do-it-yourself look more than a lot of other demo tapes I come across.

Musically Fuil Na Seanchoille borrow a lot from the realms of Tenebrae in Perpetuum, which is a great compliment in my opinion, since a lot of bands don't borrow from them much. Even though they are rooted in that dark Italian style, Fuil Na Seanchoille feel a lot more hateful and vicious in their style. For some reason their rhythmic landscape just comes across as so much darker, which gives it a more hateful feel. Perhaps part of the reason is the vocals, rather than the high shrieks of the Italians we have more of a mid-range approach with a lot of echo. It makes for a wonderful blend and really works with this sound a lot.

A very successful debut in my opinion. Some people may be turned off by the ultra harsh recording style, but it really works for the Fuil Na Seanchoille experience. So, if you enjoyed what Tenebrae in Perpetuum had to offer the world, this band may be worth watching. As they grow in the sound they may develop it in a different direction, for now the demo is heavily rooted in the original sound.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Sigrblot - Blodsband (Blood Religion Manifest)
World Terror Committee, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Opening Mass (Let Us Pray)
2. Kriegspsalm
3. Manifest (Blood Religion Part II)
4. Chaos Prayer: Deus Bellum
5. Crisis of Faith
6. Döende Generations Dom
7. Ödesjord
8. Bloodsband
9. Hirdsång
10. Folkstorm
11. Sacrament (Blood Religion Part I)
12. Endtime Communion

It's been quite a few years since "Blodsband" saw the light of day. It had a beautiful vinyl press in 2005, which I also own, but am not going to bother to review in light of this 2009 repress. Unfortunately, I did not get a booklet as many of them also did not. The real draw for the vinyl, back in 2005 was the additional track "Endtime Communion". It also featured an untitled track, but if you were paying attention you recognized this as the secret track after "Commie Scum" ends on the original CD. Here the secret track comes on after waiting a couple minutes for "Endtime Communion" to end. So this really is a very complete work!

The remastering is actually pretty well done and I enjoy being able to revisit this album in all it's full glory. With the cover song being removed from the original edition, the listener never has the albums flow interrupted, which is one of the biggest draws for me to own this re-edition. Even though "Endtime Communion" was composed in 2004-2005 it sits pretty well as the closer of "Blodsband" and clocks in at an over ten minute epic. While some may consider the original edition a true classic, I really think this is the proper rendition of the immersive Sigrblot experience. The booklet has only undergone some slight changes, mostly to accommodate the additional lyrics for "Endtime Communion." There is liner note at the end that I found particularly interesting though. "Lyrics authored in stages of adolescent idealism to young adult repulsion during 1996 to 2000". While "Blodsband" stands as a wonderful piece of controversial art, I do wonder if this note means certain ideals have changed with the members involved.

If you missed out on the first iteration of this great album, now is your chance to hear it in a much fuller form. I really do consider Sigrblot a must listen project for fans of Black Metal. They did something fairly different and compelling on "Blodsband". Highly recommended!

Absurd / Grand Belial's Key / Sigrblot - Weltenfeind
The Shitagogue Records, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Weltenfeind
2. Black Hand of Death
3. Ulfhednir-Todesschwadron
4. Die Gesandten des Grauens (Der Fluch Cover)
Grand Belial's Key:
5. It Bribes the Heavens
6. Mourners Flock to Gethsemane
7. Yahweh's Charlatan's
8. Can't Tell No One
9. Braadödha Vindh Diävuls Andadräth)
10. Exiles of the Golden Age
11. Varg i Veum
12. Kali Yuga Intifada

Side Absurd: ...coming eventually...
Side Grand Belial's Key: ...coming eventually...
Side Sigrblot:

When I saw Sigrblot had new material forthcoming, I was naturally very excited. It's been quite a while since we've heard from the project and I was interested to see what new hymns of hatred they would spew forth. After such a long wait we only get to hear four new songs from the project. That is fine, in some respects, at this point hearing anything new should be satisfactory. The version of this album I have is limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies and I own #107.

I think Sigrblot realized they needed to do something somewhat different for the newer material and what they did came out alright, but I wouldn't say it truly competes with "Blodsband". One of the major changes you hear is that they added a layer of acoustic guitars over most of the distorted sections. While this gives the songs a very different feel, I'm not sure they have the same compelling intensity of the full-length. I think they were reaching for more of an atmospheric blend into their music, but I feel like that is sort of at odds with the way Sigrblot presents their music. "Kali Yuga Intifada" really hits a great mark though. That song has an immense atmosphere. I actually enjoyed the songs on here, but as a whole I'm not sure they were markedly better than the debut. It is nice to see that Sigrblot is trying out different things though and if they can balance that atmosphere with their vicious Black Metal perfectly they would have a really strong composition on their hands.

Sigrblot have some solid material, as I have come to expect from them. The split itself is very beautiful. The booklet is massive with a lot of great art and printed lyrics. It does have an interesting statement on the back: "This release is dedicated to those who know by heart that extreme art and extremist opinion are but two sides of the same coin. True Black Metal is a crime against humanity!" Even so, I still think Sigrblot's lyrics on "Blodsband" were more extreme. Still, this is certainly worth getting.

Sigrblot - Blodsband (Blood Religion Manifest)
Nordiska Förlaget, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Opening Mass (Let Us Pray)
2. Kriegspsalm
3. Manifest (Blood Religion Part II)
4. Chaos Prayer: Deus Bellum
5. Crisis of Faith
6. Döende Generations Dom
7. Ödesjord
8. Bloodsband
9. Hirdsång
10. Folkstorm
11. Sacrament (Blood Religion Part I)
12. Commie Scum (Fortress Cover)

I remember when Sigrblot first unleashed itself upon the music scene. I loved this release immediately, but many decried it's extremity as being NSBM, which it's really not. The band has stated no political ideology influences them. The album cover is certain a different level of extreme. It has two flying angels striking down two towers, which I can only assume is an allegory to the 9/11 attacks in New York. I really only know how that is perceived in my country of the U.S., so I'm not sure how the rest of the world really viewed what happened. The members of Sigrblot may have seen this as a clear sign that Islam is declaring war on the western world. I've read that there are serious issues in Sweden concern members of that religion and a lot of Black Metal bands are very unhappy with it. It's prompting bands like Lord Belial to write songs like "Purify Sweden".

I do not think this cover stands a celebration of violence, but as a realization that it is a serious warning and they will fight back against such ideologies. If you read the lyrics you hit upon a line "...crush and annihilate the desert tribe chokehold!" If you look at it from the Black Metal perspective in Europe perhaps they feel like they're being invaded by the Middle East once again. First it was Christianity that brought the Nordic people under their boot and now they see Islam invading their culture. Sigrblot is not about politics, its about creating awareness of cultural preservation and how it is important to preserve some shred of history. Perhaps they are facing a cultural change where it is politically incorrect to criticise other religions and we all know how that can get a Black Metal band riled up. Sometimes intolerance is a good thing. For them it means to preserve your own culture and I can understand that point of view if one is feeling threatened. To read through this album and dismiss it as Nazism would be to have missed the point. In the same song it says "revocation of government" and this is hardly something a pro-Nazi project would cry out given their heavy interest in dictatorships. In fact this album really has a very somber feel to it lyrically, as sort of a reminiscence of how we have all lost something to these modern ways of life. I know a lot of the bands hailing out of the Ukraine sing a similar song. I think some people can read through this and think this is all about how the white race is the master race, but I'm not sure that is true. The emphasis seems heavily on cultural preservation rather than race preservation.

I don't think this album can properly be engaged unless you sit down and give the writing some thought. So now that that's out of the way, we turn our ears to the music. The vocalist sounds an awful lot like Arioch from Funeral Mist. I have heard good rumors about his involvement in the project and while I think he tries to mask his usual rasp found in Funeral Mist, there are some tonalities that show through. If he's not the vocalist, then he's probably the guitarist because either of these options make sense to me. The breath of the lyrical concepts definitely hints at his usual style. His penitent for being highly influenced by the books he reads shines through in many of his artistic creations. In fact the lyrics read more like essays rather than your usual lyrical format. So that's my educated guess on his involvement.

Sigrblot play a vicious and intense style of Black Metal typical of the fastest Swedish bands and there is some serious resemblance to the style Marduk plays. At least that's the style I think they most sound like. However, there are moments when they hit upon some folk styled riffs and they sound very much Satyricon's "Dark Medieval Times", which is a wonderful thing to hear referenced. Sigrblot's songs are very well crafted and they cover a good blend of viciously intense and beautiful melody. This doesn't come across as a derivative project at all and in fact stands as a very fresh release for when this came out. One of the reasons this album gets labeled as NSBM is because the album closes with "Commie Scum" a cover by the Australian band Fortress. Lyrically that song is clearly racists, but racism doesn't equal Nazism. You can certainly be racist and not be a Nazis, but I'm pretty sure you have to be racists to be a Nazis. The songs lyrics are sort of confusing, but it seems the main point is to be against Communism. In any event, I'm not sure it was a good choice of a cover, because it really breaks up the albums aesthetic. Furthermore there's another original song right after "Commie Scum" which suddenly tries to bring us back into the atmosphere Sigrblot developed before. So we go from intense Black Metal, to Oi, then to a sombre and moody track of Black Metal to fully close off the album. This just makes things too confusing. Luckily the vast majority of the album is consistent and for that I give it very high marks indeed.

If you haven't been exposed to Sigrblot sooner is better than later. It is definitely a middle finger to all the politically correct culture infused in our society today. Maybe you will not agree with them, maybe you will, but at the end of the day I think this is a decent conversational piece. I, personally, don't think it is too outlandish to integrate two peoples or cultures or more, but I think it does beg the question of how much is too much in the sense of one culture being consumed by the other. Does a culture have a good claim to want to preserve itself in the face of that? These are the difficult topics Sigrblot is bringing up and with their cover standing as a symbol, it asks how much is too far?