Friday, September 11, 2015

Isvind


Isvind - Gud
Folter Records, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Flommen
2. Ordet
3. Himmelen
4. Dåren
5. Tronen
6. Boken
7. Giften
8. Hyrden
9. Spiret





When I saw Isvind announce the new album I approached it with a bit more caution, since I wasn't immediately enamored with "Daumyra". However, when I finally heard a sample off it I was immediately interested! I thought the new track sounded really good, so I planned to definitely pick this album up. I was also surprised to see that it looks like Isvind has rounded out the ranks and no longer approaches the band as a two piece.

The catchier riffs I lamented missing during "Daumyra's" straight forward approach are back in force for "Gud". This is more of what I was expecting as a follow-up to "Intet Lever". That stark Darkthrone influence, which has been ever present is certainly back, but I feel like there's a bit of Tulus in the mix, especially with the female vocals showing up in a few tracks. The opening song had a surprising intro that sounded almost uplifting, until we get to the real meat of the song and then that ravishing grimness in Isvind's sound came out loud and clear. If you're lamenting this change from "Daumyra", there is still a presence of the Kampfar/Immortal blend throughout the album. It's just been further blended with their original sound. I think this blending of styles is what makes Isvind great, because Isvind has always had a very strong writing style, so I usually find listening to the band quite enjoyable. The fact that we've got a really strong blend of bands I really like makes Isvind stand all the stronger and sets Isvind apart from their influences.

So, if you were slightly disappointed in "Daumyra's" sound, then I recommend paying a visit to "Gud", which, I think, most people were expecting the follow-up to sound like. It's a wonderfully cold and majestic album. At this point, I am happily looking forward to what Isvind will produce next.


Isvind - 1993-1994
Kyrck Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

Nivelheimen 1993:
1. Intro
2. Over Blaamyra Steg Kongen
3. Dauingene ut av Underverden Steg
4. Om Natten Flyr Fanden
5. Nivelheimen
6. Lysningen i Skogen
7. Nattens Vingeslag Bryter Stillheten
8. Skyggeskogen
Herskerinnen 1994:
9. Intro
10. Herskerinnen
11. Aasgaardsreien
12. Vinteren, Min Herre
13. Kvite Ætt's Seier
The Call of the Icewind 1992:
14. Falling Down Into the Heat
15. Haunted by Demons
16. Eit skrik i ei kald natt under ein morbid, kjølig og sølvglittrande måne

If you missed out on the Isvind demo material like most people then in usual Kyrck fashion, you're in for quite a treat. I really like Kyrck re-visiting the past with their demo re-releases. I would also venture that getting the material direct from the band is better than any of our 20+ year old tapes at this point! So, for me, the sound quality alone makes this compilation worth getting. You get some of that tape hiss feel in some songs, but overall it's a lot better than my old tapes. The only rather strange thing is that the last track on "Herskerinne" "Lyset Flakker..." is not on this re-release. The real bonus to this release is the material from 1992 when the band was originally called Ice Wind. I was rather interested in hearing this material, but could never really find it anywhere. Now that I've heard a few songs off that original demo, I can see why the band wasn't interested in re-releasing all of it. The material is pretty and still sounds rather poor in quality. However, "Nivelheimen" and "Herskerinnen" still stand as strong demos for the band. I still wish some of these songs had been re-recorded for their studio album... ah well.

Isvind - Daumyra
Folter Records, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Kast Loss, Brenn Alt!
2. Burn the Kings
3. Blodstorm
4. The Dark Traverse
5. Djevelens Svær
6. Myra
7. Speculum
8. Klabautermann






When I saw Isvind was entering the ranks of Folter Records, I was immediately pleased. I usually quite enjoy the material Folter publishes, and I assumed Isvind is a band I would continue enjoying. So, imagine my surprise that upon getting "Daumyra" on my desk, I really didn't enjoy it immediately.

Upon re-listening in more detail, I think it's because this album doesn't have the same level of hooks "Intet Lever" had built into it. "Daumyra" is strangely absent of this kind of riffing. Except when Darkthrone takes over in the song "The Dark Traverse", but for the most part the album takes on a more standard Norwegian Black Metal feel. For some reason I get the impression that a lot of Immortal has been infused into the bands sound. This certainly isn't a bad thing and upon second listen I'm finding "Daumyra" a lot more enjoyable than I did in my initial experience. "Myra" has some really good moments that catch me, but for the most part the album didn't really grab or demand my attention as starkly as "Intet Lever" really did.

I  think the problem with "Daumyra" is that a lot of people may write the album off as something they've heard a million times. In quite a few ways, that's rather true, but that doesn't change the fact that "Daumyra" is still a well written album. In fact, it's probably a lot closer to the "Dark Waters Stir" style than what appeared on "Intet Lever". In many ways this is a colder and more chilling release, which might coincide with the water and ship concept art. Unfortunately, I think people might write it off too quickly. I did wind up enjoying it, but I think I still like "Intet Lever" a bit more.


Isvind - Intet Lever
Self Released, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intet Lever
2. Kjølhalt
3. De Dødes Maskerade af Synd
4. Pisslunka Kjøtt
5. Vaginamaria
6. Dommedags Grimmtunge Slegge
7. Hjemsøkt
8. Himmelfjell







Based on the track I heard with the split, I would say "Intet Lever" is a rather pleasant surprise. Even more surprising is that this was self-released by the band. However, this is a professional release through and through, so don't think this is a demo of any kind. The musicians behind Isvind have been around for a while and they clearly know how to record a quality product.

There are a lot of things I really love about "Intet Lever" and a lot of that stems from their ability to create some really killer catchy sounding riffs while still maintaining an incredibly cold atmosphere. Since Darkthrone has really moved away from playing their brand of Black Metal, I feel like Isvind is really continuing their saga and not in a copycat/re-hash fashion as most bands perform, but due to Isvind's age, I think they understand how to move the methods forward. Just listen to that opening riff on the title track that really hooks you in. It's so incredibly perfect. This kind of excellent riffing shows up all over the album as in tracks like "Pisslunka Kjøtt". To show that their earlier folkier elements aren't lost to the raging Black Metal the majority of the album exhibits we come across "Dommedags Grimmtunge Slegge" which bears a distinct Satyricon/Kampfar vibe. So, there are some decent variations and elements thrown into the mix, which really makes "Intet Lever" a very powerful sounding release.

I had the pleasure of seeing this band live in Montreal and it was wonderful. They played a lot of material off this album as well as some of their earlier stuff. I was truly hooked on this project when I got to see the title track performed and they've probably solidified a fan for life if they can really keep producing music of this quality! Cold Norwegian Black Metal still breathes strong within the realms of Isvind!


Orcrist / Isvind Split
Hearse Records, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

Orcrist:
1. Intro
2. Det Hedenske Norge
Isvind:
3. Entropi











Side Orcrist: ...coming eventually... maybe...
Side Isvind:

After a massive hiatus with Isvind since 1997 the band finally returns with this split with Orcrist. Sometimes a break for a band can be a much needed endeavor, but with strength of "Dark Waters Stir" it was kind of sad to see the project come to a close with such a strong debut. I wasn't really expecting the band to pick up where they left off, but this is also a sort of unexpected direction for Isvind. The Black Metal has a lot more "rock" elements in there a la Darkthrone or maybe even some Khold, but not nearly as groovy as Khold, much closer to Darkthrone. I thought the song turned out okay for the first foray into the world of Isvind again, but it's rather different from the "Dark Waters Stir" style. I'll be interested to hear where the band goes with this return.

Isvind - Dark Waters Stir
Solistitium Records, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Ulv! Ulv!
3. En Gjennområtnet Hytte
4. Stille Sjel
5. Lysningen i Skogen
6. Dark Waters Stir
7. As Rane Comes Down
8. Bankeånd/Poltergeiste






"Dark Waters Stir" finally brings us the debut full-length from Isvind. As I mentioned earlier, I missed out on the earliest Isvind releases as they were coming out, so the copy of "Dark Waters Stir" that I own is the re-release in 2012 by Kyrck Productions. The re-release has the cover from the 7" along with the 7" as a bonus track. It even has a song from the "Herskerinnen" demo tape. This is definitely a bonus, because having the EP on a CD is totally worth it.

As I explore Isvind's back catalog I conjure up all kinds of nostalgic memories of enjoying the first Dødheimsgard, early Gorgoroth, Satyricon and more. If this had been released in 1994 Isvind probably would have been a name typically found amidst the legends since it is not markedly different in style from the second demo. Further making Isvind's career a little more unknown was the inactivity after this album was released. After this album we don't hear anything from the project for many years. Considering Solistitium releases weren't the easiest to get in the U.S. in the 90's, it's no wonder I wound up missing out on this excellent project. On this release we get mostly new songs, with Isvind not conjuring up too much from their early demos. However, I was excited to see them give studio treatment to "Lysningen i Skogen" from the "Nivelheimen" demo tape, since that was one of the stronger songs on that tape.

So, if you're looking for a very authentic Norwegian Black Metal release straight out of the early 90's style, then "Dark Waters Stir" might be an album you missed out on as well. It really is on par with the great projects I referenced above and if you liked their albums, there is no doubt you will find merit in this as well.


Isvind - Isvind
Solistitium Records, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Isvind
2. Herskerinnen
3. Et Slag mot de Veike...













Here Isvind finally brings us some studio recordings released by the now legendary Solistitium Records. This is released on 7" vinyl and I'm sure its limited, but my copy doesn't list anything about it.

Isvind brings us two songs, one brand new and one re-recorded from the "Herskerinnen" tape. The new song is very good and very much in line with what we heard on the previous demo. In fact hearing the studio version of "Herskerinnen" only emphasizes how much I'd like to hear the entire demo get studio treatment. Alas, we only get one, but it's very well done. While this approach to Black Metal had been well established over the past few years, Isvind certainly do the genre justice and show their writing to be on par with the already established great bands. Definitely worth hearing.


Isvind - Herskerinnen
Yggdrasil Productions, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Rittet fra Muspellheimen
2. Herskerinnen
3. Aasgaardsreien
4. Vinteren, Min Herre
5. Kvite Ætt's Seier
6. Lyset Flakker...










Isvind return with their second demo tape in 1994. While I'm sure this tape is limited, there is no limitation disclosed anywhere on my copy. The booklet is printed on glossy paper and there isn't much to it.

"Herskerinnen" has lost some of that relation to the Viking Metal bands I mentioned before, but it seems to have taken on a blend of old Satyricon and Emperor, which is making this a really interesting and quite a wonderful listen. If this is a direction Isvind is going to be moving for the future, I think we are in for some wildly wonderful Black Metal based on the material we're hearing on this release. The Viking style comes back in a traditional sounding folk song with "Kvite Ætt's Seier". It then proceeds into "Lyset Flakker", which was only an alright song. The demo seems to end on this strange not with songs like "Aasgaardsreien" being a real high mark for this release.

I really liked the direction of some of these new songs and I hope to hear more of that in the future. It sounds like Isvind is a ready for some studio treatment, so hopefully that will be coming our way real soon. They've certainly come a long way since the Ice Wind days already.


Isvind - Nivelheimen
Self-Released, 1993
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Over Blaamyra Steg Kongen
3. Dauingene ut av Underverden Steg
4. Om Natten Flyr Fanden
5. Nivelheimen
6. Lysningen i Skogen
7. Nattens Vingeslag Bryter Stillheten
8. Skyggeskogen








I, for some reason, never heard about Isvind until after the year 2000, which is weird to me considering the legendary status the band seemed to hold when they put out "Intet Lever". Either way, I was immediately smitten with the project and I've tracked down everything I could find by this band, whom has quite a long history. I was never able to locate the demo before this one called "The Call of the Ice Wind", which was also released under the name Ice Wind. The only material I've ever heard was on the recent release "1993-1994" which features three songs off the 1992 demo.

So, here we arrive at "Nivelheimen" the bands second demo and heralds in the name change to Isvind. This comes as a cassette only and there were two pressings, one in 1993 and one in 1994. Both pressings seem to have been hand-numbered and I have the repress from 1994 with #138. The opening track "Over Blaamyra Steg Kongen" is an interesting piece and has a bit more of a folky feel to it and features vocals that are sort of chanted. This is similar to what Enslaved has done and what bands like Storm or Isengard would put out. However, after this we delve into Black Metal that shifts its pacing between slow and melodic with some faster paced material. Some parts remind of what Mithotyn would later put together, but at a slower pace. Since Mithotyn and Isvind were operating at around the same time I imagine each bands demo work probably found its way into each band.  I also feel Helheim and Einherjer were drawing influences from all these bands around the same time. While, I'm relating Isvind to a lot of Viking Metal, I'm not sure "Nivelheimen" would rate as on the same level. The music is very raw and there are Black Metal sections that I feel would be more closely related to something like Darkthrone, which I'm sure is an influence! The opening riff of "Lysningen i Skogen" make that pretty apparent.

In the end its a very solid demo from a promising young band. If you missed those raw years of the Norwegian spirit checking out Isvind demo material will bring you back to those early days real fast. I remember when the vast majority of Black Metal being released was in this vein and it really brings back some fond memories of finding new bands when I was younger.

Àrsaidh

Changed Name to Saor

Àrsaidh - Roots
Darker Than Black, 2013
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Roots
2. Carved in Stone
3. Saorsa
4. A Highland Lament










Here we have the debut album from Àrsaidh, which I picked up back when it came out. The project has since gained some ground under the name Saor. It's strange that I don't hear too much out of Scotland from the Black Metal world, despite that region of the world having some breathtaking history and landscapes to inspire such musical aspirations. I may just be ill-informed, but I haven't heard much cross the great pond and this is one of the first. However, if Àrsaidh is any indicator to what is brewing in the region then there should be some seriously high hopes.

"Roots" is a really beautiful and majestic album. If you like tinges of folk elements added into your Atmospheric Black Metal then surely you'll feel wonderfully immersed into "Roots". Aspects of this remind me a bit of what Altar of Plagues did in their early days, but Àrsaidh have tinges of Ukrainian styling along the lines of Drudkh. Witnerfylleth certainly shows up in their sound here and there, but Àrsaidh, while influenced by that sound, expand it a little by adding in their own tinge of highland atmosphere.

Naturally this is a great album. However, shortly after this release the band has changed its name to Saor, because there were issues with certain internet services use the "À" character in their name. Still "Roots" is a wonderful album, so look for it under the name Saor now.





Monday, September 7, 2015

Kältetod


Kältetod - Talpfade
Eternity Records, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. Talwärts
2. Treibend
3. Fluten
4. Urnen












Released at the same time as "Reue" is the vinyl only LP "Talpfade". As with "Reue" its also limited to an undisclosed amount and pressed in multiple colors. I have the Grey vinyl with #75. When "Leere" was repressed in 2010 only Side A of "Talpfade" made it into the Appendix section, which does make me a little sad and I would like to see this full album get the CD treatment... someday perhaps.

If you think "Talpfade" feels a little more primitive than "Reue" you'd be right. While the composition happened around the same time as "Reue" and thus being post-"Leere" the quality is quite high, but its still has an older feel closer to "Leere" because the recording took place between 2004 and 2005. So, production wise, it's a little closer to "Leere", whereas "Reue" is a much newer recording and has a much stronger presence. I wonder if these tracks are just something R. didn't feel really fit inside the space that is "Reue", although I would argue that moments of "Talwärts" would certainly fit. In fact the track could probably be re-worked with different riffs and become quite an immense piece of art. "Trebend" is just as wonderful as "Talwärts" and it has moments that really engage the listener. The B-side is a little different, and perhaps why it was not released in the "Leere" appendix. "Fluten" actually has a bit more of an Ambient Black Metal flair with the use of keyboards in the background. "Fluten" also drones a lot more and even has a slower pacing than our usual Kältetod experience. "Urnen" is, once again, a bit different in scope. The opening feels a bit like my favorite track from "Reue", but then segues into a really crushing rhythm section, before returning to the more beautiful chord structuring.

As you can see "Talpfade" has quite the myriad of experiences for listeners. "Reue" still stands above this release, but the B-Side of this album is on par with Side-A, so I really do hope those tracks will be put on CD someday.


Kältetod - Reue
Eternity Records, 2010
Genre:  Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Vor Entflammten Erinnerungen
3. Zermürbt Durch Reue
4. Nur vom Eiswind noch Getragen
5. Das Lächeln der Verwesung
6. In die Glut der Weltenseele
7. Grau in Grau







Here we finally have the proper follow-up to "Leere" with "Reue". From just looking at the cover this feels like a far more thought out Kältetod and "Reue" really manages to deliver the feeling to complement the artwork. This is limited to an undisclosed amount, but still hand-numbered and I own #505.

I was fairly fortunate to be rather late to the Kältetod game. I think if I had just heard "Leere" I wouldn't have been so enamored with the project. In fact, I may not have tried "Reue" based on my past experiences unless a friend really insisted I do so. However, I first experienced Kältetod with the song "Nur vom Eiswind noch Getragen" and I was immediately taken aback by how incredible the songwriting was. "Reue" stands as a solid masterpiece in Kälatetod's discography and it really stands out as one of the finer Atmospheric albums in the Black Metal genre. I really can't say enough good things about this release and it is certainly in the top 10 for the year.

While Kältetod's vocals have never been particular great, and "Reue" is no exception, I find the overall composition overshadows this quite a bit. Even though my favorite song "Nur vom Eiswind noch Getragen" stands out as the lone slow and somber track, the rest are fast paced with chord structuring and riffing that is truly stellar. R. manages to make such an immense and emotive reaction with his writing, so much more than he ever had before. According to the liner notes, this album was composed between 2004 and 2006, then recorded between 2007 and 2009. These may seem like a long time to create 40+ minutes of music over seven songs, but if you're demanding ultra high-quality this is what it takes. "Reue" is a truly beautiful experience and if you're a fan of the Atmospheric Black Metal scene I think "Reue" can stand as a testament to high quality writing. Some people may find the vocals a little bland, but I'm hoping they can see past that and really pay attention to the music with the way a lot of this riffs are crafted.

In the end, I hold "Reue" as one of the top releases in the genre, and while I 've only been listening to Kältetod for a few years now, I've noticed "Reue" is in constant rotation when it comes to my listening happens. A truly amazing piece of art, one I'm rather skeptical if R. could ever outdo.


Kältetod - Verstummt, Erblindet, Verdorrt, Erfroren
Raging Bloodlust Records, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Verstummt und Erblindet
2. Verdorrt und Erfroren
3. Willens Ende
4. Vom Horizont im tal der Schmerzen








The follow-up to "Leere" is this 12" EP, which I missed out on getting when it was released. Now, I'm not complaining because it afforded me the opportunity to wait until a CD version was released in 2008. The version I have a CDr limited to 222 hand-numbered copies and I have #104. The additional bonus is the fourth track which was originally released on the split 7" with Regnum from 2004.

The first thing you'll notice is that the musical quality isn't even close to on par with the split that just came out or "Leere". I was kind of surprised about this until I bothered to look at the liner notes. All of this music was composed between 2001 and 2003. In fact there's a promo tape from 2003 called "Trümmer" and all three songs can be found on there. So, if you were looking for an advancement of the "Leere" sound, then you'll be pretty disappointed. This EP's music really sits in the space between the two demo tapes and the release of "Leere". It's definitely a lot better than the demos, but the production quality is fairly similar to the tapes. The bonus track steps the production quality up a little bit, but definitely feels like a precursor to "Leere".

So, if you were expecting something that grew the sound founded on "Leere" you might be disappointed, but if you were curious what Kältetod sounded like in its early formation, then this is a great historical representation. The songs are a little better than those found on the demo tapes, but they're all pretty closely related. Still the demo tapes had moments that were quite stellar by comparison.


Veineliis & Kältetod Split
Ashen Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

Veineliis:
1. Son of Angurboda
2. Without Mortal Agony
3. Deserted Rooms of Concrete
Kältetod:
Aus Trümmern...
4. I) Erwachen, II) Wahmehmung
5. III) Reflexion, IV) Erinnerung
6. V) Erkenntnis, VI) Erheben
7. VII) Suche, VIII) Reflexion II




Side Veineliis: ...coming eventually...
Side Kältetod:

I missed out on Kältetod's first split with Regnum, but I managed to get a copy of this. I actually have the CD edition of this pressed in 2008 by Temple of Torturous. It comes as a very hard cardboard digipak, similar to Spectral Lore's "I". I'm not really a fan of this packaging, it's kind of weak and the CD isn't really in a tray.

"Aus Trümmern..." Sort of picks up where "Leere" has left off, but it has a bit more depth to it. The composition is even more emotive than "Leere" even was. The whole work is far more cohesive, which makes sense since it's supposed to convey a single concept. Sometimes some of the passages can delve into a little bit of monotony, but overall this is an excellent work and I really like the direction Kältetod is heading at with this material. R. is starting to play with guitar layering a lot more overtly and the interplay between the layers creates an extremely strong atmosphere. The overall riffing is much stronger and I really look forward to what Kältetod might work on next, considering the direction this project is taking.


Kältetod - Leere
Westwall Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Wiederhall der Leere
3. Kältetod
4. Von Vertrauter Vergänglichkeit
-. Hypnos
Appendix: Talpfade (2010)
5. Talwärts...
6. ...Treibend








Here it is, Kältetod's legendary debut. It was originally released by Westwall Productions in 2005, but I missed out on that one. Perhaps I will pick up the original someday, because my repress by Eternity Records from 2010 is missing the "Hypnos" track. However, there were two major reasons to buy the repress, which are that it's a remastering of "Leere" and as a bonus we get two tracks from the
"Talpfade" album on CD. Prior to this "Talpfade" was only on vinyl and while I would prefer all of "Talpfade" on CD, I'll take two tracks over zero tracks. The repress is a beautiful digipak edition and limited to an undisclosed amount of hand-numbered copies, of which I own #417. The updated layout and cover brings the album more in line with the art direction of "Reue" and the other releases.

Compared to the demo material, I think "Leere" is, at times, a bit of a step back. "Leere" seems to focus more on the raw chord structuring and droning elements of sawing away at the guitar to create that sort of expansive experience as we engage the length of the songs. Sure, the album is broken up with some picked chords only driving a solid atmosphere home for us and those moments are wonderful. There is also some keyboard synth elements briefly at times and this only enhances our experience with the extra layer. However, some of those really spectacular atmospheric lead guitar moments found on the demo are few and far between on the debut. "Leere" keeps things simple for us, which is why it probably still sits in that transitory time of Depressive Black Metal and most people put "Leere" into that category. However, I think "Leere" arrived at a time when the typical trappings of DSBM were evolving and a lot of bands moved into the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal, which Kältetod almost certainly did with their later releases. "Leere" itself is a wholly different experience from what I hear from the top genre definers of DSBM, "Leere" isn't an agonizing experience, it's more beautiful and melancholic, which is why its sort of sitting somewhere on the fringe of the two genres, before R. takes a full plunge into the Atmospheric genre.

I'm kind of surprised Hypnos was removed the re-release, since it's a really wonderful song. I think some of the riffs or the song itself got re-arranged later on "Reue" though... something about it seems extremely familiar.It is sort of a strange song and very different compared to the other tracks, especially with the breaks with the bass guitar only playing. Either way, I'm still pretty happy to have the "Talpfade" material on CD, even if there is a pretty big difference in the maturity level when it comes to the writing style. I think some of the "Talpfade" concepts are pretty old, but the overall arrangement is a much more exciting experience than "Leere".

While "Leere" is still the beginning stages for what Kältetod would become, the debut album is still pretty solid. At times it's a little overly droney and can have boring moments, but this is still a solid foundation and backdrop for what will eventually come.


Kältetod - Von Kerken und Ruinen
Self-Released, 2004
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Aus des Kerkers Stille Atmend
2. Erst im Untergange ewig
3. Im Zweiten Grabe
4. Vor Ruinen
5. In der Kakophonie toter Träume










Kältetod is a band I found a few years ago and somehow sadly missed out on the material as it was being released, but it has grown to be one of my favorites. I actually listen to, at least one, of their albums very frequently, which means I really am curious about their back catalog. Like many people out there, I missed out on the original two Kältetod demos "Aus Kerken..." and "Aus Ruinen..." both from 2003, but I was extremely lucky to get my hands on this demo compilation limited to an undisclosed number. However, they are hand-numbered and I have #99. It comes packaged in a strange CD box with xeroxed booklet and cover. There isn't too much to the booklet though, as I kind of expected. I do kind of want the original tape versions, simply for my archives and enjoyment of this very good band.

The track layout is a little odd for this release. The first and last tracks are from the first demo "Aus Kerken" and the interior three are from the second demo "Aus Ruinen..." The even stranger thing is that there's a sixth track listed, at least I think it's a track title, "Durch Laubes Fall und Rebels Schleier" and it makes me wonder if this was supposed to be a bonus track that, for whatever reason, never made it onto the disc.

Kältetod's first two demos are pretty primitive and they have some objectively serious problems. One of which the drums are so low in the mix their nearly inaudible. They're clearly programmed and perhaps that is why R. has pushed them to the back of the mix. His vocal work is merely okay, it is nothing special and certainly nothing exciting. However, the guitar arrangements are extremely strong. With the demo material you can hear some layered sections with leads and certain other passages that hint at the glory that Kältetod will eventually become. However, these incredible passages sit amidst a rather typical tried and true style of raw Black Metal sawing away at rather droning chords. It works, but you can tell the material is still in its primitive stages, it even sounds like some of the stronger riffing on her wound up on future full-lengths, which is a very good thing. I, kind of, wish other bands would do this, where picking apart strong moments on a demo found a better setting someplace else.

So, if you're as enamored with the Kältetod sound as much as I am, then this is certainly worth hearing. Thus I have linked below an upload of the full recording on youtube, since this is so limited. It's nice to see the limitations the band had to overcome over the years. In fact its really exciting to listen to this and realize how much the project grew over the years.




Saturday, September 5, 2015

Top 10 of 2014

2014 turned out to be, yet another, astounding year for the music I enjoy. While 2012 and 2013 were all great, I feel like the volume of above average releases was a bit higher this year. In the prior years creating the top 10 was a little easier, but this year, I had about a clear top 6, but after that there was so much excellent music from all kinds of bands that it proved very difficult to choose. Thus, I've resigned myself to going a little over the 10 mark... I truly apologize for this. Honestly, after number 6, I feel like the order is much more random and there is no "real" order imposed on the list anymore.

15. Saor - Aura (Northern Silence Productions)


Saor has undergone a name change and they were once known as Arsaidh. Usually it's pretty hard for a folk-ier style of metal to hit my top list, but Saor have put together a pretty beautiful album this time around. They've really blended the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal in with the Celtic elements very well to make a really great listening experience.

14. Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity (Candlelight Records)


Even though Winterfylleth hasn't really deviated from the sound on their previous albums and it feels like a continuation of "The Threnody of Triumph", I can't deny that I really quite enjoy listening to their music. It's really due to this rotation that I feel compelled to include them in my list.

13. Mortuus - Grape of the Vine (The Ajna Offensive)


Review here

I was so ecstatic when I saw a new Mortuus was entering the world of Black Metal. I really enjoyed their debut full-length and I'd been following the band since the release of their 7". While I really enjoyed "Grape of the Vine", I'm finding that it's not in my rotation nearly as much as some of the other things I got this year. There's aspects of this that make me want to objectively put this with the top 5, because the musicianship is that good and I really do consider this a must buy for 2014, but I'm just not listening to it as much as the other releases. Whenever I do give this a listen, I quite enjoy it!

12. Blood Stronghold - From Sepulchral Remains... (Witches Sabbath Records)


This band was a new find for me and I was really excited when I heard them. This band plays an excellent style with haunting and melodic atmospheres. As with many bands like this from Australia they have a bit of that Pestilential Shadows/Nazxul (modern) style to their feel, which is nothing to complain about!

11. Gratzug - Offenbarung (Hammerbund)


Gratzug plays really awesome Atmospheric Black Metal derived from the likes of Paysage d'Hiver given the thinness and harsh feeling of the guitars, but they add a layer of majesty that the rawer Paysage d'Hiver lacks. The major complaint I have with Gratzug is how difficult it is to acquire their releases. However, if you do manage to get your hands on one, I do not think you will be disappointed and "Offenbarung" is an absolutely excellent release.

10. Pestilential Shadows - Ephemeral (Seance Records)


Pestilential Shadows has had a strong string of output for quite a few years. The latest release "Ephemeral" is really no exception to that rule. It really stands as a continuation of their "Depths" album, but I feel the sound is even more refined. This really stood as a really beautiful and haunting piece this year.

9. Totale Vernichtung - Ritualmordlegenden (Darker than Black)



Totale Vernichtung is kind of an odd band, the vocals are merely okay and sometimes they're a bit loud in the mix, but the music is really quite excellent. It's very strange, because a lot of the structuring is based on major chords and scales, but Totale Vernichtung really manages to make this sound raw and grim at the same time. I feel this would be a challenging thing for a lot of bands and to consistently perform it so well is quite a feat. They really captured my ears with their debut full-length "Feuerbestattung" and "Ritualmordlegenden" doesn't really have a massive difference from that album, which is okay, because I really just wanted more and more from this project!

8. Туман - The Past is Alive (No Colours)


Review here

I've enjoyed Туман's music for quite a while now, but "The Past is Alive" really took their sound in a new and haunting turn. It really captured my imagination so much more than their previous works and I truly loved it. Hearing Dim's spout her sinister vocals really added a whole new dimension into their shift in guitar work. Their vicious and raging style, took a bit of a step back, to compose songs that seem to linger in the consciousness rather than blasting our heads in for a whole album.

7. Stworz - Cóż Po Żyznych Ziemiach (Werewolf Promotion)


Stworz really caught my ear this year. It has moments of Drudkh and Nokturnal Mortum shining through, but with a vocal performance that is rather different from both. While there was merely one moment on the album that I felt was a bit out of place, I can't help, but love the album Stworz has given us. It's majestic and expansive in scope and truly a wonderful journey!

6. Infamous - Rovine e Disperazione (Eremita Produzioni)


Review here

Infamous was another new one for me this year and "Rovine e Disperazione" really nailed the raw and majestic feel I really look for in some Black Metal. The writing is just spectacular and really captures the listener in their dense and harsh atmospheres. While their earlier works were pretty good, none of them are really as strong as this album and this seems to be bringing the project in a more mature and refined direction.

5. Grisâtre - Paroxistique (Dusktone)


I really enjoyed "Esthaetique" and this new release came out of nowhere for me. One minute I turned around and it was released. I feel this sort of really upped the ante on the foundation that was laid with "Esthaetique" and the songwriting and riffs, in general, are much stronger. The songs are also vastly longer, so prepare for quite an involved journey!

4. Blut aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III


After "Memoria Vetusta II", I really wasn't expecting this release at all. Which makes sense, since it does state on my release that "Memoria Vetusta II" was supposed to be the end of that arc. So, it was with great surprise and pleasure that many of us saw the announcement that "Memoria Vetusta III" was announced. This is actually a far more involved album than "Memoria Vetusta II" if that's possible, but I feel I find them both equally enjoyable. So, why is this number 4? Well, I did rank this as number one originally, but then I realized I haven't been playing it as much as I play the first three. The next three releases I seem to listen to a lot more regardless if "Memoria Vetusta III" may be objectively better in some respects.

3. Earth and Pillars - Earth I


Review here

It always surprises me to see a band debut hit so high on my listening. However, Earth and Pillars really put together a truly amazing atmospheric experience. One I've enjoyed returning to frequently over the years. Their packaging and layout really mirror the music perfectly, so this band is truly the full package experience and if you're looking for a very good Atmospheric Black Metal experience from 2014, I feel Earth and Pillars will not steer you wrong.

2. Darkspace - III I


Review here

I guess this will come as no surprise ranked at number two, given my love for their third album. While not much has changed from the third album, Darkspace still prove they are very strong authors of very compelling music. Coupled with the long wait between releases, they built quite a bit of anticipation and then really delivered on that with quite a good album.

1. Kriegsmaschine - Enemy of Man


Review: here

This was another wholly unexpected release. Due to their focus on Mgła, I thought, perhaps, this project was forgotten, but then Kriegsmaschine returned with a truly amazing album and something very different from what I was expecting. This release truly grew on me over the year and it really wound up being the release I return to and listen to most. It's a pretty stunning and wonderful piece of art.

What Death Metal did I buy?

The new Vader came out and that was pretty decent. Behemoth's "The Satanist" hit and amidst all the fanfare I still enjoyed "Evangelion" a bit more. Deathcult's "Pleading for Death" was a really excellent experience and I highly recommend that band to everyone looking for some old school styled Death Metal. At the Gates' "At War with Reality" hit to mark their big return... I still haven't listened to it yet. I listened to a track and it was okay.

Who else was up for considering?

The real tragedy is Pest's "Buried". Sadly Pest's drummer Mrok was killed in a car accident and completion of this album never really happened. What we have is a few rehearsal songs of new material that was from the upcoming release, and let me tell you, it's incredible. Seriously, it's easily  top 5 level of awesome. They did the best they could with "Buried" to show off some of the new material and give the listeners a few rarities, but it was a very difficult choice to eliminate it from the top 10. My reasoning had more to do with the fact that it wasn't a full album, which may sound unfair in some ways, but realize I literally spent months thinking about this in the back of my head and I just decided to take it out of the running and mention it here. Here's my full review

After this, there's just so much to list, albums from the likes of Zorn, Sühnopfer, Death Fortress, Blood of Kingu, Erebus Enthroned, Skogen, Sorcier des Glaces, just more stuff than I know what to do with... maybe I'll make a list later.