Thursday, June 29, 2017

Zorn


Zorn - Gegen Alles
Christhunt Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Gegen Alles
2. In der Dunkelheit
3. Verbrannte Erde
4. Manch geisterhafte
5. Kreaturen
6. Madenwerk
7. Deathfuck
8. V.c.H.u.j.B.
9. Zorn & Zerstörung V







It's actually been quite a while since we've heard a full-length from Zorn and I remember when this came out it took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it at all, somehow it's impending release never made it my way until it was already here. I was happy to see them release this on Christhunt, which is a record label I've considered putting out fairly good quality releases for a while now. Naturally, when it finally came to my attention I ordered my copy of this right away.

While "Menschenfiend II" was a great success and it had quite the somber and melancholic atmosphere, "Gegen Alles" seems to shrug almost all of that off with the opening track. "Gegen Alles" is a more hard hitting raw Black Metal album compared to the other Zorn albums. Where on the earlier releases those hard hitting tracks were in the minority, this time I feel like Zorn has put something a bit more unrelenting in our paths. While the more melancholic riffing isn't gone forever in this album, I feel like this has more in common with early Endstille releases (albeit not nearly as insanely fast) than it does with some of the prior Zorn recordings. Unlike Endstille though, they tend to favor far catchier riffing, so maybe there's more in common with the German Pest in that regard? Either way, "Gegen Alles" is an extremely good listen. In some of the earlier Zorn albums I feel like certain songs or riffs could stall out, but "Gegen Alles" keeps my attention throughout the album. The only track that really slows down throughout is "V.c.H.u.j.B." and this wound up feeling more like an old Gorgoroth song than anything else to me.

In the end I quite enjoyed "Gegen Alles" quite a bit and will have this in my regular rotation for listening to Zorn. Needless to say I'm looking forward, even more, to future releases because this project seems to keep getting better and better with each release in my opinion.

Zorn - Zorn
Asatru Klangwerke, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Zorn
2. Shut Up Gothic Slut
3. Mongoloid (Devo Cover)













Just to show us the project hasn't gone silent Zorn put out a new EP with two new songs and a cover track. This is pressed on 7" vinyl and limited to 250 copies. I have the blue vinyl edition of this release. The first song, titled after the band name is more typical of what we expect to hear from Zorn. However, when we get to the B-side, things are a little different. You kind of get that impression with a song title like "Shut Up Gothic Slut" and it's basically what I expected. It's far more Punk styled Black Metal song than anything else. I'm not usually into the Punk styled Black Metal, but Zorn did a pretty good job putting it together giving it more of a Darkthrone feel than anything else in the end. The EP closes off with a cover by Devo called "Mongoloid." Naturally, they performed it in a Black Metal fashion and Zorn being a raw Black Metal band used guitar to cover the synthesizer lead portions. The drums were entirely re-arranged compared to the original to complement the more Black Metal performance and it came out pretty good in the end.

Zorn - Menschenfeind II - A.N.
Christhunt Productions, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Vektoren der Dummheit
2. Entfremdungsprozess
3. ...für eure Ignoranz
4. Hinter dieser Welt
5. Zerstöre den Mensch
6. Spottgeburten
7. Endloses Leer
8. Antichristliches Naturerbe








According to some sources there were some line-up changes and additions to Zorn for this album, but since no member is listed on this release I can't confirm anything. Strangely it's been a while since we've all heard from Zorn. However, in looking at the liner notes of the CD this was actually recorded back in 2007 and finally being released in 2009. In between this time a promo tape was put out in 2008 limited to 100 copies. I've never been able to get my hands on it, but I would love to if I could.

"Menschenfeind II" is quite the step up in the songwriting for Zorn. The recording is a little more polished, so it's not as good as the reckless sound of "Todesschwadron" in that regard, but the music is quite good overall. This is probably one of my favorite albums from Zorn and they've started using more layered guitars which add a bit more depth to the music. I really enjoy the way this album ended up turning out, though the booklet and layout is pretty minimal. Whatever went on with the band in its time from the last album till now, I hope will stay fairly constant. Although, I would like to see them revert back to the harsher production, because I felt that added a far more vicious dimension to their music and I very much preferred it.

In the end, this was quite an excellent album. This has been my go to Zorn album as of late when it comes to listening to the band. This might change when future albums are released, of course, but for now this is the one I enjoy quite a bit for the time being.

Zorn - Todesschwadron
Black Attakk, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Der, der das feuer personifiziert (Hellfire Invasion)
2. Parasitäre Drecksschergen
3. Der Tag an dem die Flamme sprach
4. Gotteskinder im stinkenden Schafspelz
5. Der Wind und sein klagendes Heulen
6. Auf Fleischlosen Schwingen in die Ferne
7. Sturmwind in den Mauern der Verdummungsstädte
8. Stahlgewitter des Zorns III





For me "Todesschwadron" is where Zorn really starts to take off. On this album they've really managed to figure out that balance of the vicious raw tone with well written music that supports the style. "Todesschwadron" is a pretty good foray into the realms of raw Black Metal, I'm not sure I would class this as a top release, but it's certainly an enjoyable listen!

At times "Todesschwadron" is up there with Endstille, but I've always found Endstille to be a little more mesmerizing and more solidly grabs my attention. It seems Zorn is on its way to having this effect, but I think Zorn will fall into having more of a Black Metal groove than Black Metal assault in their overall writing. The opening song of this album is an exception to that though, it's an intense and vicious opener that really did grab my attention. However, as the album progresses Zorn tries to switch things up a little more with filtering in some good mid-paced songs, so as to not re-create the likes of "Panzer Division Marduk", which can get quite boring after a while. Mix in a solid dose of older styled Satyricon and we've got a pretty good blend of things that I enjoy a lot in Black Metal. The guitar and bass are being blended and harmonized a lot more than before and it's creating a really excellent full effect in terms of Zorn's compositions.

Even though there isn't too much in the booklet, except some band photos and a couple paragraphs in German, I still like the overall aesthetic of the design. They even used a rougher paper than the usual CD booklet and I think the concept and layout fit the music very well.

In the end, I may not pull this album out as often as other albums, but when I do revisit it every once in a while I do enjoy listening to it. If your a fiend for raw Black Metal and just want to hear everything that's out there, this album by Zorn is a solid performance and I think most listeners will find it an enjoyable experience. At this point I'm pretty interested to hear what might be in store next for us, because it seems Zorn's compositions are getting stronger and more interesting as they release music.

Zorn & Grålysning Split
Supreme Chaos Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

Zorn:
1. Es zittern die morschen Knochen...
Grålysning:
2. ...und die Flamme zerfrisst den Leib












Side Gråflysning: ...coming eventually...
Side Zorn:

After a full-length Zorn brings us another 7" split on vinyl. Like the last one this one is also limited to 666 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #87. It looks like everything was pressed on black vinyl this time around.

I wish I had better things to say about the track Zorn brings us this time. I feel like this is a step back to the days of "Schwarz Metall" in the sense that they're after the Marduk worship again. In fact one of the riff progressions sounds exactly like "Slay the Nazarene". It's really just different enough, but the chore progression for that chorus is here in my opinion. In the end, this is a bit of a sorry follow-up to the "Menschenfeind" album. Unless you must have ever Zorn recording, don't worry about missing out on this one.

Zorn - Menschenfeind
Neon Knights, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Endsieg
3. Faustschlag (In die Christliche Welt)
4. Mordlust
5. Kristallnacht
6. Sohn der manvatarischen Dämmerung
7. Die Gegenoffensive
8. Menschenfeind
9. Triumphmarsch Zorn II (Zerfall der Religionen)





It seems A. Blackwar's participation in Zorn was fairly short lived, because there is no mention of his involvement in the liner notes. For their second full-length Nachtschatten would be handling all guitar duties and already things are improved, as far as I'm concerned.

While "Menschenfeind" keeps that raw style of Black Metal recording that fits with Zorn, I find the songwriting improved. Already Nachtschatten is trying to work beyond the more generic formulas. While it's not always a success and not every guitar line is an amazing journey, the overall arrangements feel more varied and the guitar riffs feel a lot more thoughtful than before. It feels a lot more than just sawing away at the guitar in the hopes that blinding the listener with speed will make up for the boring riffing. Nachtschatten, obviously, doesn't work that way and his writing is off to a strong start.

"Menschenfeind" builds off the first album and cuts away a lot of more the lackluster filler material and focuses on stronger songwriting. While "Menschenfeind" isn't devoid of its filler material, there's certainly a lot less on this album than in prior releases. At least with this I feel like we're hearing more of what Zorn should sound like instead of just a continuation of Isegrim.

Zorn & Battlehorns Split
Supreme Chaos Records, 2002
Genre: Black Metal

Zorn:
1. Genichschuss
Battlehorns:
2. Pestenberserker












Side Battlehorns: ...coming eventually...
Side Zorn:

I missed out on the demo cassette released prior to this split, but I was able to get a hold of this release on 7" vinyl limited to 666 copies hand-numbered copies, of which I own 610. This is also pressed on red vinyl, I doubt there were other colors in the run, so all of them are probably this color.

Zorn aren't really offering too much of a difference from "Schwarz Metall" on this release, however, I do think "Genichschuss" has a bit more elaboration at times, which make the song a little more interesting to listen to. Part of the problem Isegrim had in songwriting was that a lot of it was just sawing away at a guitar with power chords or the like. Zorn is sort of in that rut, but breaking out at times. I feel like the potential is there, we just have to unlock it. Either way "Genichschuss" is moving in the right direction and hopefully that will happen soon for this project.

Zorn - Schwarz Metall
Last Episode, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Hexenlichter am Nordhimmel
2. Schwarz Metall
3. Der Totale Krieg
4. Wiederkehr
5. Kriegserklärung an die Menscheit
6. ...in Flammen
7. Panzerzorn
8. Genickschuss




I've been a fan of Zorn for a little while now, but I've missed out on some releases here and there and I just give up trying to track them down. So my discography begins with their debut full-length. Last Episode has gotten quite a lot of flack over the years as being a sub par label releasing sub par bands, and in some cases that is probably true, but sometimes you get a couple great random bands out of Germany like Zorn, for example.

One of the other selling points for Zorn was the involvement of A. Blackwar in the project. I thought some of his work with Mystic Circle was okay and there were quite a few Isegrim songs that were pretty well done, but his best projects, for me, have been Zorn and Mord. This album sort of has the Gorgoroth "Destroyer" syndrome in the sense that a bunch of musicians all played various instruments to get the recording done.

While "Schwarz Metall" reminds me quite a bit of Isegrim, I think it's also a lot more raw and vicious at times. There are songs that just seem like a continuation of the Isegrim project, which can feel kind of boring at times. At others it seems like total Marduk worship, which can be good and bad. Some songs are truly great like the title track "Schwarz Metall", which I found very enjoyable. The vocal performance reminds me a lot of what we heard on the Octinimos albums, with that overly distorted voice approach. For me, I usually like this approach for a bit more of a flavor or extra texture in certain sections of a song, not on an entire album. We'll see if Zorn changes things up in the future.

In the end "Schwarz Metall" is okay, it's not great, it's not terrible, but it doesn't really stand out either. If you're a fan of A. Blackwar, then you'll probably enjoy this, especially if you ever wanted more out of the Isegrim project. I think Zorn is a little stronger than the later releases of Isegrim, so that's a bonus for them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Schrat


Schrat - Artefakt
Knochensack Versand, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Fluktuation
2. Knochenkult
3. Endzeitphilosophie











When I saw it announced that Schrat was releasing some new music, I immediately ordered a copy of this, because if it was anything nearly as good as "Schattenwahn" I certainly needed to hear more. Don't be fooled by the date on this release, the music was actually recorded back in 2011 and only now we are finally getting to see it hit the light of day! Probably why the EP is called "Artefakt".

As with "Schattenwahn" this EP captures the same majesty and excellent we expect from this project now. The opening song "Fluktuation" wastes no time in launching into an amazing riff that immediately catches our attentions, before launching into some very good melancholic atmospheres to blend in with the riff. The other two songs on the album follow in similar suit in terms of quality, with "Knochenkult" kicking the tempo up quite a bit and "Endzeitphilosophie" striking a middle balance between the two.

In the end if you enjoyed "Schattenwahn" you can expect the same level of quality in these songs. I'm really glad Schrat decided to release the material, because I've enjoyed this EP quite a bit. I truly hope there is more music in the works. It seems like it's been quite a while since they've done anything, if the last time they were in the studio was 2011.


Schrat - Schattenwahn
ARTicaz, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Prolog
2. Mal der Schande
3. Schwarze Brut
4. Transzendenz
5. Beschwörung...
6. Kriegsgericht
7. Jenseits der Einsamkeit
8. Eruption
9. Im Zwielicht-Abgrund
10. ...Erbamungslos






I, honestly, forget how I heard about Schrat, but "Schattenwahn" was my first experience with the project. Needless to say it grabbed my attention immediately! After a lackluster debut album, Schrat return with incredibly strong second full-length. I don't think I got this album too long after it's original release date and it's really stood the test of time, even five years later. I find myself still listening to this album on a somewhat regular basis and enjoying it.

There has been a bit of a line-up shift in Schrat and Nastrond has moved from drums to vocals. This was clearly a smart move in my opinion, because his vocals are actually quite excellent and sounds better than the first album. Leaving a gap in the drum seat, they turned to Seraph of Dark Fortress to session drum for them, which was a great idea. He's an extremely solid drummer and clearly performs well in the studio. The combination of these changes has launched Schrat into excellent status in my book.

"Schattenwahn" falls into the more traditional Black Metal variety of albums, but it's so well done I can't help but get into it. The production quality is perfect, everything is balanced and it's not too over produced. Now, while some people may find this album to be too similar to albums that already exist, I look at "Schattenwahn" in the following context. Take some of the best riffing Black Metal has to offer from various projects all over the world and put them on a single album and that's what I think of when I hear "Schattenwahn". Okay, maybe it doesn't have every single top riff, but I'm sure you get the idea. "Schattenwahn" is like a celebration of the best Black Metal has to offer rolled into one release. It ranges from extremely catchy riff sections similar to what Dödheimsgard has done in the past along with chilling sections that are reminiscent of "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas". Throw in some soaring passages similar to Lunar Aurora and you've certainly got my attention. They've definitely stepped up the writing on this album, as you can see.

In the end if you're looking for some extremely solid Black Metal then I can't recommend "Schattenwahn" enough. The changes Schrat has made has really turned into a winning formula for them and I hope they stick with this going forward. I look forward to anything else the put out in the future.

Schrat - Bestimmung Raserei
Self-Released, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro Abrechnung
2. Blutkatharsis
3. Reich des Schrats
4. Geist der Felsen
5. Erstickungstod
6. Steinernes Vermaechtnis
7. Bestimmung
8. Die Bestie








I wish I was about to regale everyone with tales of this great new band I found, but sadly this is not the album for that. Turns out their second album is where that whole aspect comes in. For now we have the debut full-length from Schrat, which the band self published. Now, I've never heard their demo and I can't compare the two, but if I ever track down a copy I'll listen and review it.

For now, let's just delve into the full length. I wish I had more positive things to say, but I don't have much. It's a fairly mediocre release by Black Metal standards. It has everything you expect and has some moments that reminisce of Bathory, but it is all only okay. The real problem is that nothing really grabs my attention. There's no fondness for the atmosphere the songs generate. "Erstrickungstod" has some good moments, so the band is capable of generating some interesting stuff, but for the most part this album falls quite short. The musicians behind the project seem to be quite competent and the production is pretty good, with a balance between audible and harsh. The vocals are a bit distorted in the mix though, but that's the only major issue I can see.

Overall this album is probably worth skipping unless you simply must have all the Schrat albums like I wanted. I can assure you the discography gets much stronger after this, but even though the debut wasn't all that memorable, it's not a bad starting point for a band.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Throane


Throane -  Derrière-nous, la lumière
Debemur-Morti Productions, 2016
Genre: Black Metal

1. Sortez vos lames, que nous perdions nos poings
2. Aussi féroces que nous repentons
3. Derrière-nous, la lumière
4. Un instant dans une torche
5. Contre terre
6. Nous blâmons la tempête de nous avoir laissés en plaies
7. A cette chute




Throane is a new project to hit the French scene, and strangely I missed out on it when it was first released and I'm only getting to this project nearly a year later. I'm disappointed in myself for missing this, because this album hits a lot of really excellent listening points for me. This is usually a genre of Black Metal where, for me, it has to be done just right and if it's not, I wind up disliking it.

Throane's debut album strikes a very careful balance between Ambient and very dissonant Black Metal. Playing with dissonance is fairly tricky business, especially in a way that makes me want to keep coming back for more, but Throane succeeds in leaps and bounds with this debut. In fact, my one and only complaint is that I wish this album was twice as long. It would really enhance that ambient and hypnotic effect generated by each track. As it is, this album only clocks in at about thirty minutes, which is far too short for a release that can launch its listeners into a trance.

"Derrière-nous, la lumière" pulls pages out of the books of Blut aus Nord's "MoRT" and some Deathspell Omega, while including some elements of Spektr for a more terrifying atmosphere. Mostly this album leans on "MoRT" in my opinion and really advances the ideas on that album to a far more pleasing conclusion. "Derrière-nous, la lumière" production wise is a very dense and suffocating album. Listening to this album you can just feel the weight of the music taking your breath away. The atmosphere is dark, convoluted, yet calming and entrancing at the same time. The vocals are very minimal, when they rear their ugly head, it is but a brief phrase in the greater work, but it really makes the attack of those moments all the more satisfying.

"Derrière-nous, la lumière" is an absolutely astounding debut release and I am glad to see it make the light of day with Debemur-Morti, because the art direction will prove important for this kind of project. While this debut has a really well done digipak release, I look forward to future albums where the art direction can be brought further. The one thing I worry about with a release like this is that it may be difficult to replicate. Where does the artist go from here that can breach new territory, while staying true to the overall foundation created here? Frankly, given the brevity of this release, I wouldn't mind something entirely similar, just so I can listen to them back to back in all it's sonic glory. We shall see though...


Cataplexy


Cataplexy - Devangelight
Zero Dimensional Records, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. De Evangel Light
2. Whirl of Skuldlight
3. Recrmisoned Vestige
4. Celestial Arcane Epitaph
5. Sphereflection
6. Silvery Supplicant
7. Hydraulis of the Ether
8. Dysastral Paradigm
9. Lifelessdawn







After a four year wait we finally get into the second release from Cataplexy. Somehow "Devangelight" manages to surpass the debut, which is a very impressive feat. I will always love the debut for it's harnessing of the raw production of old, but the songwriting on "Devangelight" is quite a bit stronger than even the first.

I'm not sure how much he's helping the band, but on this album they are joined by the legendary Hakuja from Funeral Elegy. Some of the guitar passages remind me quite of bit of something I hear on his solo project, so either way the influence seems to be appearing. Cataplexy continue their journey down writing violent, yet somehow sorrowful compositions. This album really shows how much the band has harnessed that wall of sound style of Black Metal and manages to make the songs interesting with some really killer lead styled riffs. One of my favorite songs on here is "Recrimsoned Vestige", I just look forward to hearing that opening riff every time. The album consistently marches along these lines and there isn't a single bad track on here. The vocalist is actually quite impressive and he's only gotten better over the years. His work on "Lunar Eclipse" was impressive, albeit a little peaked in the recording process, like most of the instruments, here with better production we really get a feel for what he can do. He has these excellent long winded screams that I look forward to showing up in every song.

Given Cataplexy's track record, I'm sure it will be quite some time for them to release another album, but I will be eagerly awaiting for the follow-up to this. Since every release is stronger than the last. Again, while some may complain that this is pure Scandinavian Black Metal worship, without a hint of the strangeness Japanese music holds for us Westerners... the fact that Cataplexy seems to consistently outperform a lot of bands in the West has me rather okay with this. While I'd love to hear some Japanese elements thrown into their mix sometimes, I just can't complain when your riffs are just this good. "Devangelight" is an excellent album by all accounts and I look forward to the next release from this project!

Cataplexy - ...Lunar Eclipse, Chaos to the Ruin...
Bloodbath Records, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Dawn of the Black Sun
2. Hideous Path of Hate from the Abyss
3. Under the Moonlight of Sorrow
4. Graces of Infidel Blood
5. Blazing Choir Under the Secrets of Hell
6. Burn the False Idols
7. Elegy of Rotten Angel
8. Desolate Winds from the Devastated Souls
9. Groan of Eternal Hate





It's taken an unreasonably long time for us to get to the Cataplexy debut full-length, but it was worth the wait... I think. I thought, for sure, a new release would come shortly after their EP, but here we are about five years later with a full-length finally in our hands from this band. I still think it took way too long for us to get here, but in the end I really love this album. It's actually an incredible release that heralds back to the glorious Black Metal days of old. Who would of thought this would come out of Japan?

If you miss everything about the mid-90's era of Black Metal then this is the album you've been looking for. Unlike a lot of bands that try to recapture the feel and atmosphere and somewhat fall short, I think Cataplexy actually really succeeds. From the production values, which are raw and harsh to the musical composition which is hateful and sorrowful all at the same time, we have quite the release on our hands. They're definitely drawing from the faster bands and pull a lot of influence from the likes of Mayhem and Marduk, I'm sure. Sometimes these lead guitar passages cut through the mix and we hear some really beautiful things. I really wish they had managed to find this sound a lot sooner, they would have been real monsters of the 90's with music this good. Like, I said though, I think it was worth the wait and I am really happy to see this band do so well with their debut.

If you truly miss the bygone era of Black Metal then see it recaptured and revisited here to near perfection. Some may gripe that "they've heard this before", but that is hardly cause for concern, because when someone writes music this good I simply can't complain. I find myself listening to this material fairly regularly, even years after I picked up this album.

Cataplexy - Fields of the Unlight
Self-Released, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Through the Crimson Tears
2. Fields of the Unlight














After the release of their 1995 demo, which I don't have, Cataplexy disappeared from the world of metal. It might have been one of those cases of the early bands that release a few demo tapes then we never hear from them again, which happened quite often in the early 90's. However, fast forward to 2003, when Cataplexy had become a rather forgotten project, suddenly they return with this EP of two new songs. This EP was printed by the band and limited to 500 copies, of which I own #304.

Cataplexy's sound has been overhauled quite a bit. The musicians involved have clearly improved quite a bit, because now they perform a style of Black Metal more in the line of the violent and fast Scandinavian variety. This is certainly a major improvement over the likes of the "Teardrops" demo. Now they are writing songs that are both violent and have a certain level of that Black Metal atmosphere we all love. Some may complain that this borrows too much from the Scandinavian sound, but I'm fairly okay with that because Cataplexy manage to capture an excellent overall sound and they're good enough songwriters to make it worth our while. "Fields of the Unlight" is certainly the standout track on this two song EP, but I feel like Cataplexy is still trying to harness this musical change. They definitely have my attention more than ever before with these songs and I'll be interested in hearing what they produce next. Hopefully the project won't fall apart again.

Cataplexy - Teardrops Veiled Black Desire
Self-Released, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro: Resurect the Ancient Memory
2. Under a Mournful Sky
3. When the Rise of the Moon
4. In Absentia Densus Foris
5. And Yet... (The Rain Continuously)











What was Japan doing the early 90's while Scandinavia was playing Black Metal? Basically, doing somewhat similar things. Cataplexy, like most Black Metal projects started off as Death Metal and while Sigh beat them to the punch with being one of the earliest Black Metal bands in Japan, Cataplexy is possibly a close second. I'm not sure though, I don't seem to follow Japanese Black Metal as much, but they have produced some real gems over the years. I'm not sure how many copies of this demo tape were released, but according to the booklet I have #269.

While many might expect a strange Japanese slant on the world of Black Metal, much like Sigh performs, Cataplexy stays fairly true to a more European sound. Like many bands in the early 90's, "Teardrops Veiled Black Desire" is another fairly lo-fi demo that is nigh unlistenable. The music, by today's standards is unimpressive. I think it's really cool to delve into backgrounds of different regions and listen to their early material. For some reason early Cradle of Filth comes to mind when I listen to this. Cataplexy has some faster thrashy sections, but they also bring in some slower nearly Doom level material, so that's why I'm get a bit of a "Principle of Evil Made Flesh" vibe from the demo. Even though that album came out in '94 as well, it's not unreasonable for people to get their hands on earlier Cradle of Filth demos.

Anyway, this demo is pretty standard fare as far as I'm concerned. It didn't really grab my attention, but it also wasn't awful. Maybe as Cataplexy builds their sound things will improve as the years go on, but I feel like the band is still in the beginning stages and sorting out their influences.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nekrokrist SS


Nekrokrist SS - X-mas Ritual
Spread Evil Distribution, 2016
Genre: Black Metal

1. Itsemurha jouluaamuna
2. Renki













Well, this is an usual thing, two Nekrokrist SS releases in a year?! "X-mas" ritual was released on cassette and is limited to 88 copies. This tape comes with a pro booklet and dubbed tape with stickers. I'm actually surprised it's not hand-numbered. "Itsemurha jouluaamuna" begins with a sort of medieval folk sample, before launching into a scream where the song truly begins. It's probably one of the shortest Nekrokrist SS songs clocking in at under three minutes. However, it's a fast and catchy tune. "Renki" on the other hand is a slower more morose jaunt that has a bit of the older folk feel in the guitar arrangement. Unlike some of their long songs that start off slow and pick-up later, this song never does that, so just enjoy plodding arrangement. I'm not sure this is a must have in the Nekrokrist SS arrangement, but if you like collecting their material and hearing everything they put out then it's worth it.

Nekrokrist SS & Infamous Split
Hammerbund, 2016
Genre: Black Metal

Nekrokrist SS:
1. Lähtölaukaus
2. Antakaa Jo Kuolla
3. The Circle
4. Herrani Viha
Infamous:
5. Decadenza I
6. Decadenza II
7. Among these Cold Walls




Side Infamous: ...coming eventually...
Side Nekrokrist SS:

This year brings us an excellent split from Nekrokrist SS along with another project I really love Infamous. This was originally released on tape, but was later released on CD by Obscure Abhorrence. I have the CD edition (pictured above). Even though this is being released in 2016, these really aren't new Nekrokrist SS songs, since this was recorded way back in 2011, so this is more in line with the material we heard on the split with Nattfog. I do wonder how much material Nekrokrist SS is just sitting on and not releasing. Either way, once again this has some solid material on it and "Herrani Viha" has some of the more excellent riffs Nekrokrist SS has ever written! An absolute must have split.

Nekrokrist SS & Vöedtæmhtëhactått - I am the Chaos, the Abyss and the Gloom
Darker Than Black, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

Vöedtæmhtëhactått:
1. Christ Promised Never to Return
2. I came to Call Sinners, but Not the Righteous
3. And He Said - Satan!
4. The Divine Blighter
Nekrokrist SS:
5. Viimeinen Rukous
6. Tuomiolla
7. Tappajan Laulu



Side: ...Vöedtæmhtëhactått...
Side: Nekrokrist SS

Starting with a scream and launching into the catchy riffing I've come to expect from Nekrokrist SS we begin our journey of three new songs. As usual we have the yearly split from this project and this time it's pressed into 12" vinyl similar to the split with Nattfog. This release is also limited to only 333 copies. As with the other Nekrokrist SS releases nothing has changed really and we simply get three more songs of their usual style, although I feel their compositions are getting stronger as the band continues to write new material. I feel like the songs have a more cohesive element to them than when the project first began and their blending of droning riffs with catchy riffs is becoming more and more seamless as they write more material. Nekrokrist SS is, basically, a mark of consistently well performed Black Metal for me and while some listeners may gripe about the lack of change over the years, I'm pretty happy with this approach! I hope they stay this way for many years to come, although it doesn't give me much to talk about when it comes to reviewing individual releases.

Förgjord & Nekrokrist SS Split
Hammer of Hate, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

Förgjord:
1. Jättäkää minut korpeille (osa 1)
2. Kasketun maan laulu
3. Mieltensä sairastama
4. Kerpeikkari
Nekrokrist SS:
5. Musta viha
6. Tyhjyys
7. Hyljätty
8. Jättäkää minut korpeille (osa 1)






Side Förgjord: ...coming eventually...
Side Nekrokrist SS:

Now that we've got the full length out of the way we can return to our regularly scheduled split program! Nekrokrist SS has really hit a solid writing point and that continues with this split. "Musta viha" begins rather normally and nothing ear catching, but once we get a minute into the song we hit this exceptional riff sequence and the song really takes off. Easily one of the stronger Nekrokrist SS riffs in their catalog. Then we delve into the slower song "Tyhjyys", which doesn't pick up the pace until well into the song, but that's fine it has kind of an interesting contrast from the faster opening of their side. After this we delve into the lengthy dark and plodding "Hyljätty" which is an excellent closer to their side of the split. While it's not the usual fast paced hateful style, it's a little slower and has a lot more elements of melody in the song. This might create a bad contrast, but it really does work very well for their style and just like "Tyhjyys" the song does eventually pick up its tempo about half way through. Unfortunately, to me, nothing could match the majesty of that spectacular riff in "Musta viha", but the other two tracks didn't try to hit that mark, which was probably a good idea, because we can just simply enjoy them in their own right, instead of trying to compare them back to the opening song.

Nekrokrist SS - Der Todesking
Primitive Reaction, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Perkeleestä Syntynyt
2. Crematory Hymn (Burn in Hell)
3. Satan Calls Your Name
4. Kuolontanssi
5. Vala
6. Kirous
7. Der Todesking









Finally we hear a new full length from Nekrokrist SS and it's everything I ever hoped it would be! Raw Black Metal doesn't get much better than this and "Der Todesking" is an absolute must have album in my book. From start to finish it's probably one of the finest albums recorded in this realm of Black Metal. If you've always been a fan of the Finnish sound and enjoy bands such as Horna or Behexen, then Nekrokrist SS' "Der Todesking" should land high on your list as a must have.

"Der Todesking" falls in a very similar vein as the material we heard on the split with Faagrim, only this time we get the full length experience I truly wanted to hear when that split was released. My one and only complaint is that this could have been one song longer to get us closer to that forty minute mark, rather than just squeaking over the thirty minute mark. Either way, I'm grateful for a full length and I find myself playing it regularly as one of my go to albums for the more raw style of Black Metal. It really does sit on a similar level to Horna's "Envataangs Eflos" or Behexen's "By the Blessing of Satan" although "Der Todesking" doesn't sound exactly like these projects. "Der Todesking", while not re-inventing the Black Metal wheel, manages to put together a series of extremely strong songs that really make the album stand apart from other bands in this genre. I think some people will be overly quick to dismiss this project since it sounds similar to the bands above and early Satanic Warmaster, but I manage to find enough difference in the way Nekrokrist SS approach the genre that I find it immensely well done. And then there's the quality of songwriting. Not every Black Metal clone can write like this, while there are hundreds that sound like this, there are very few who write like this and that's what sets them apart. Just listen to the riff that hits about three and half minutes into "Vala" and you will know what I'm talking about. That song hits the raw Black Metal sweet spot so perfectly.

So, if you like your Black Metal vicious, raw and harsh, filled with all the hatred Black Metal was meant to filled with then "Der Todesking" is an instant classic, in my opinion. As usual, I will continue to look forward to anything else that comes from this project. They have yet to let me down and I can't imagine them changing anytime soon and that is why "Der Todesking" will be in consideration for my top ten.

Nekrokrist SS & Faagrim - Strike of the Northern Legions
Darker Than Black, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

Nekrokrist SS:
1. Dawn of Purification
2. Liekki
3. Gates of Insanity
Faagrim:
4. Through the Snow
5. Warriors of the Unlight
6. Comes Winter, Comes Sadness
7. Der Größte Bastard






Side Faagrim: ...coming eventually...
Side Nekrokrist SS:

I'm getting fairly accustomed to the yearly Nekrokrist SS release, but the split trend is only okay, I feel pretty ready for a new Nekrokrist SS full-length release. This split with Faagrim is in truly high order with both projects putting some great Black Metal into the release.

This split has some of the strongest Nekrokrist SS songs so far, they're extremely catchy yet viciously cold all at once. It's a perfect blend into their raw Black Metal style, which is why I am so ready to hear a full length now. The main reason is because three songs just isn't enough, I just want a solid forty or so minutes of this kind of material and I know the band can certainly deliver. While the music is not changing much, their overall songwriting structure has steadily been improving, so with each new release I enjoy it even more than the last and this split is no exception. Just listen to how excellent "Liekki" sounds!

Nattfog & Nekrokrist SS
Primitive Reaction, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

Nattfog:
1. Yöni usvassa
2. Ancestral Echoes
3. Under the Cross of Woden
Nekrokrist SS:
4. Path of Depression
5. Gas Chambers, Crematory and Hell
6. Talviyössä








Side Nattfog: here
Side Nekrokrist SS:

Another year another split, but I'm usually always excited to hear new material from Nekrokrist SS and this time they teamed up with the mighty Nattfog. Nattfog is also an extremely excellent project and I highly recommend their material as well. This was released on 12" vinyl only and limited to 500 copies.

Nekrokrist hasn't changed, at all as you'd expect, but this split does have some nice features. "Path of Depression" and "Talviyössä" are all new songs and they sound very good, as you'd expect. "Gas Chambers, Crematory and Hell" is a re-recording from their demo and with this line-up and quality it really shows that the song was actually quite good and merely marred by very poor production and probably performance at that time. "Path of Depression" is our usual faster paced Black Metal, but the lengthy "Talviyössä" takes a much slower term. Predominantly a mid-paced track it has a very sorrowful feel to it as we dragged down this plodding path.

In the end we get three great songs from two great bands, and you can't go wrong with that. Half the time the splits only have one good band, but not in this case!

Four Chapters of Satanic Evil
Azermedoth Records, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

Mystes:
1. Battlefield
2. Deadly Riders
Nekrokrist SS:
3. Scars
4. Nekrokrist
Khaos Abyssi:
5. Into...
6. The True Signs
7. Dead Gods
8. Plague and Pest
Calvarium Funestus:
9. Kult ov Funestum Spiritus
10. Call of the Imperial Throne


Side Mystes: ...coming eventually...
Side Khaos Abyssi: ...coming eventually...
Side Calvarium Funestus: ...coming eventually...
Side Nekrokrist SS:

Participating in Finnish Black Metal just wouldn't be complete unless you get involved in a long string of split releases. This begins Nekrokrist SS' foray into the deluge of split releases that surround the Black Metal scene. I actually enjoy splits from time to time, but I'm not that fond of four way splits. I, personally, prefer two bands on a split, but here we have four. The only other band I've heard of on this split is Mystes and I quite enjoyed the material I heard from them.

Nekrokrist only offers up a couple songs for this, but things are a little different this time around. First off, the band has a full line-up now, so that is an interesting change. I wonder if the project will be more consistent in recording and releasing music. Another major change is that they tried to clean up the harsh production quite a bit. I think they've managed to strike a good balance between being absurdly harsh and just harsh enough to give your songs some nice chainsaw edge to them. Here we get one new song called "Scars" and it is quite an excellent song, picking up pretty closely to where the self-titled EP left off with the first three songs. The other track is a re-recording of "Nekrokrist," which first appeared on the demo from 2003. Cleaned up, this track actually sounds considerably better than the original tape.

Nekrokrist SS - Nekrokrist SS
Satan's Millennium Productions, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Knife
2. Divine Light
3. There's No Place for You
4. Cremation
5. Cold and Black Grave











After waiting a couple years we have the pleasure of hearing a new Ep from Nekrokrist SS. I was hoping "Suicide" wasn't just a fluke in their discography and instead would indicate the new direction for the project. It really has! This self-titled release is spectacular. The first three songs are newer, written and recorded in 2007, while the last two date all the way back to 2003.

The first three songs have a more sorrowful feel to the riffing style. In many ways it's a bit more reminiscent of something Sargeist would do, or the way they tend to structure their riffs. Nekrokrist SS manages to have their own sound, relatively speaking, throughout this release. As you might expect things take a very drastic shift on the last two songs. The production is far worse then the opening three. The rawness actually works against the songs in this case, even though the riffs are still pretty good. I'd love to hear these songs re-recorded, everything just sounds so wish-washy as it pushes through this song with a weird wave-like feel to the overall sound and production. I'm kind of surprised they didn't bother to re-record the material so that it fit better with the first three songs, because now this isn't going to end on a very high note... but it's not like they could just put them at the beginning, because in most cases people wouldn't wait to discover the rest of the release, which is very good.

Ah well, it might not be the greatest thing, but I really did enjoy the opening three songs. If you're a fan of that Finnish style of raw Black Metal, then those are definitely worth hearing, the last two are only good if you really like extremely raw and poorly produced music, to the point where it's hard to hear what's going on.

Nekrokrist SS - Suicide
Primitive Reaction, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. Suicide is Only Way
2. Itsemurha
3. My Blood on Altar
4. The End is Disgusting Life
5. Let Churches Burn
6. Stench of the Burning Corpses
7. Waiting the Mass Destruction
8. Shoot Yourself








"Suicide" is the debut release from Nekrokrist SS and it does not come on the heels of their demo. The demo was originally released back in 2003. So, it's been quite a wait to get an album out of this project. Topically I feel like this project has changed quite a bit. Despite the "SS" in the name, this really isn't an NSBM project and the band has even said as much. So, don't get confused with the demo tape, I think they were going more for the standard fair celebration of mass death plus being offensive all in one go. At least, that's the aesthetic I was getting from the demo.

Now, onto the music. Compared to the demo this is a huge step up in quality. "Suicide" presents us with some very fine Finnish Black Metal, hitting all the right chords that make me love the music from this particular region of the world. The demo tape felt like it had more of a punkier edge to the songwriting, but "Suicide" has more of a Horna type of edge to the music. I much prefer the Horna way of things, so I feel like this project is certainly trending in the right direction if they keep this up! They have one moment that has that Punk feel in "Waiting the Mass Destruction" but the style is more subdued this time around.

All in all this is a surprising change from the demo, but it's a pleasant surprise on my end. They also managed to keep the ultra raw style of recording for this release and it worked with the style very well. Don't expect anything except raw hatred from this project. "Suicide" has great riffs and great harsh atmosphere, so I'm definitely interested in following this project to see where it takes them next.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sarkrista


Sarkrista - Summoners of the Serpents Wrath
Purity Through Fire, 2017
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. The Lurking Giant
3. The Gathering of Blackest Shadows
4. Summoners of the Serpents Wrath
5. Ascending from the Deep
6. He, Who Liveth and Reigneth Forevermore
7. The Sea pt. 2 (My Cold Grave)
8. Black Devouring Flames
9. Rituals of Flames and Skulls






Sarkrista have locked themselves away for the past year be fairly silent when it comes to releasing music. Naturally this is because a full-length was looming and it is finally here. Staying away from releasing music as fast as they have has done the project some good and here we finally see the band start to step out of their tried and true composition ideas. Don't worry, that core Sargeist sound is still inherent in the underpinnings of the project, and I doubt that will ever be leaving anytime soon. But I feel that "Summoners of the Serpent's Wrath" delves into a bit more variation before and some outright experimentation with what that core sound can give us.

I think they have taken some serious time to create riffs that are of a higher quality than the previous releases. Either that or they've just gotten better at writing and maybe we'll see Sarkrista crank out material of this quality very fast in the future. Personally, as a songwriter, I prefer it when bands take time to curate their riffs and try to produce something of very high quality rather than just release material for the sake of releasing it. "Summoners of the Serpent's Wrath" feels like a well curated album and only chooses some of the highest quality music within the Sarkrista riff closet. In order to complement this, everything else had to step up as well. Here the drums are a bit more elaborate in arrangement than I remember in prior albums. There's a bit more flare to the arrangements making the drums stand out a little more than before. I'm really glad they balanced Revenant's vocals in the mix very well, because it really helps compliment the entire album perfectly. This is, especially, the case when it comes to songs like "The Sea pt. 2" which is probably one of the more experimental tracks on the album (for them). It features a slow plodding pace and even has some piano sections complimenting various parts of the song. Overall it creates for a very incredible listening experience and they did a wonderful job putting it together. However, my favorite song on the album has to be "He, Who Liveth and Reigneth Forever" which has some of the most intoxicating riffing around.

In the end this is an excellent album and this is probably going to be my go to Sarkrista album when I want to listen to this band. The stark improvements they've made all around has really put them on a whole new level. I only hope they can continue to maintain this quality form here and even build on it if that's even possible at this point. Definitely a must hear album for this year.


Sarkrista & Sad - Fury of the Doomsday Apostles
Metal Throne Productions, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

Sarkrista:
1. Ascending from the Urns
2. Behold Perdition!
3. Their Drowned Sanctuary
Sad:
4. Still Death
5. Festing Over Your Dead Corpse
6. Through Times Immemorial







Side Sad: ...coming eventually...
Side Sarkrista:

I don't know what happened, but on this split I feel like Sarkrista have really stepped things up quite a bit. Every track, without exception, is really really well done. On the prior material, it was very much the same, but for whatever reason these three songs really feel like they hit way harder. The rhythms are more intoxicating than even before and they really did a spectacular job all around. The vocals are mixed into the music in a far more balanced fashion, so nothing ever overwhelms the mix and we simply sit in pure enjoyment of what Sarkrista has composed this time around. If this is any indicator of where Sarkrista's future music is going to be trending, I'll be pretty excited to hear what they have coming next.



Sarkrista - The Evil Incarnate
Purity Through Fire, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Hollow of the Writhing Serpent
3. The Evil Incarnate
4. The Fury of Revenants
5. Blaze of Arrival











Sarkrista kick off 2015 with a new Ep pressed onto wax. They're also working with a new record label and this is on 12" vinyl limited to 300 copies. I was lucky enough to get a copy of this. The artwork for this release is something that really stood out to me. It's truly stunning material to look at and really fits the aesthetic of Sarkrista's sound.

You can expect more of the same, as much hasn't changed in the Sarkrista style since their foundation. I think they are experimenting more with production value than song arrangements. They almost have it perfect on this release, things aren't too harsh, but they're just harsh enough to give that raw Black Metal feeling, while still having production good enough that you can hear everything in a very balanced fashion.

At this point in time though, I wasn't as into the latest Sargeist album for some reason. It just didn't hold up against "Let the Devil In" for me, but now I'll be turning to bands like Sarkrista to get that new Sargeist fix when I want to hear a newer album in their style.

Sarkrista & Unhuman Disease - Those Who Preach Perdition
Immortal Frost Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

Sarkrista:
1. Evoking the Terminal Curses
2. The Sea pt.1 (Rise of Leviathan)
Unhuman Disease:
3. Black Fog Shadows
4. Nocturnal Prayer









Side Unhuman Disease: ...coming eventually...
Side Sarkrista:

Sarkrista bring us, yet another split as they close out 2014. They bring out two more tracks from their style, and weirdly the production sits a little better in quality than the previous split. This still feel harsh and quite raw, but not as much as before. There isn't much to say beyond the two tracks here, but I do really like the song "The Sea" on here. This really stood out as a very solid Sarkrista track with great riffs all around. As usual if you like what you've heard from Sarkrista before, it will surely be just as enjoyable.

Sarkrista & Sielunvihollinen Split
Misanthropic Art Productions, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

Sarkrista:
1. My Eyes Turn Pure White
2. Diabolic Gathering
3. Ashen Woodland
Sielunvihollinen:
4. Hurmepolku
5. Hulluuden Porteilla
6. Murheen Laakso








Side Sielunvihollinen: ...coming eventually...
Side Sarkrista:

With a quality release like "The Acheronian Worship" it didn't take Sarkrista long to fall into the split track, a time honored tradition in Black Metal. Their first foray into this format begins with teaming up with a great Finnish band Sielunvihollinen.

The first thing you'll hear on this release is the stark difference in production, or maybe just mastering. Everything sounds so much more harsh when compared with "The Acheronian Worship", you can hear things feel a bit more distorted in the mix, adding a sharper and far more piercing edge to the overall feel of the split. Perhaps this was done to meld with the Sielunvihollinen side a bit more seamlessly. Either way it took a couple second to shift gears with this release, but once settled in it sits comfortably as a harsher version of what we got on "The Acheronian Worship". Sarkrista certainly aren't breaking new ground, so if you enjoyed the debut, you'll enjoy three more tracks of their style. The harsher production value works well with their style and I didn't mind that extra degree of sharpness in their music.

Sarkrista - The Acheronian Worship
Misanthropic Art Productions, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Introduction
2. Grim Satanic Vengeance
3. Funerals and Flaring Torches
4. Ruchless Winter
5. Messenger of Harm
6. Realm of Eternal Coldness
7. Wrath Incarnation
8. Black Clouds of Revelation








Sarkrista hit the ground running with their debut album "The Acheronian Worship". This fairly experienced band hits hard with their debut full-length, but as with most bands today they haven't really formed into their own unique sound. You can tell that Sarkrista is close to achieving this, but for now a portion of Black Metal fans may find the album too similar to other bands in the genre.

Despite the fact that Sarkrista originate in Germany, may will find their sound steeped in the Finnish style of Black Metal. For me, Sarkrista do blend the two regional sounds together, but they are certainly heavier on the Finnish style. For I hear influences such as Sargeist (the most prominent), Horna, and Satanic Warmaster in their sound the most. Whereas I don't really find a particularly distinct band to reference for Germany, other than the fact that some songs have that German feel to them like you hear in bands like Shores of Ladon or Schrat. If you like the bands I've referenced so far, then there stands a very good chance you will enjoy what "The Acheronian Worship" is giving to us, because they really take a page out of these bands' book and mix it all together on a single release.

The performance and production quality are all very well done. The production is, frankly, perfect for Black Metal. You can hear everything that is going on, and yet there is still a degree of rawness to the whole style giving it that really sharp edge that I love to hear in Black Metal. At times the vocals may overtake the mix, but Sarkrista do a much better job mixing their vocals than many other projects. I've kind of gotten used to the fact that in the majority of Black Metal projects the vocals will seemingly take over the mix, even though they really should sit balanced with the other instruments in my opinion. It also helps that Revenant is a solid vocalist, so even though moments overtake the mix, it's not overly annoying, but I am still sad to hear the guitars fall into the background sometimes.

So, there are some listeners that may walk away with a rather narrow view of the project, because there are people out there endlessly looking for pure originality, when that doesn't really exist, ah well. For me, I'm going to enjoy the release for what it is, well composed Black Metal. Because no matter how you look at it, these songs are well written and arranged. There's at least one extremely solid riff per song that really stands above the rest, so the album never gets boring in that regard. There's always something very good going on and I look forward to seeing where Sarkrista eventually take this style.