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.