Review/Orm/Self-titled

Back in 2015 the Danish deathmetal band By the Patient released the highly acclaimed “Gehenna”, and shortly after announced the surprising descission to split-up..

About half a year later some demo material aired online and on the Danish radioshow Sort Søndag. Speculation on the menbers identities followed as the only information the public had gotten, was that it featured members of other Well-established Danish bands.

In my case I decided to do some serious stalking, and the picture below, posted on Facebook, confirmed my suspiscion. The Patient did in fact survive being put into the ground, later resurfacing as a fourpiece, as vocalist Tan had split from the rest of the band, leaving Simon Sonne Andersen with the vocal-duties, and a new blackened output; Orm was born.

 I had very high expectations for this release, as the demos released beforehand all were pretty good. As it later was announced that the coverart was to be done by italian artist Paolo Girardi, it only added further to the expectations.

The cover, by the way, depicts Midgaardsormen of the shore of the bands home-island Bornholm, with the old castle Hammershus burning on top of the hill. A beautiful piece of work. A typical “Girardi”, you might say..

As first single “Apotheosis” was released a couple of months ago, I immediately knew that they weren’t going to dissapoint me; powerful and grand blackmetal with a strong sence of melody, perfectly crafted by a band that knows how to handle their instruments.

Despite the album consisting of only five songs it still adds up to a total playtime of fourtytwo minutes; the chosen five all being complex and varied pieces – with my favourite “Ancient echoes” being the shortest one, at almost seven minutes.

Throughout the album Orm makes use of beautiful choir pieces. They are certainly not the first band in the history of metal to include choirworks in their music, but instead of comming across as a cheap gimmick,  it adds to building up a haunting atmosphere, equally part despair and beauty, on top of the wall of razor-sharp guitars and thundering rhythm-section.

Orm join the ranks of danish quality blackmetal bands such as Solbrud, Slægt and Denial of God – the first two mentioned both got albums to be released as well this spring – and will definitly have something to live up to, as Orm makes and instant impact and joins the topshelf of Scandinavian metal.

The album is out now on vinyl and “name your price” download via Bandcamp or Indisciplinarian.

Review/Zeal and Ardor/Devil is fine

Zeal and Ardor takes bastard metal to a whole new level on “Devil is fine”; mixing bluesy spiritual chants with lo-fi black metal, samples and just a little bit of Beck and The White Stripes on top. If you think that sounds crazy, you’re absolutely right. This is crazy, crazy good.. And quite possibly unlike anything you’ve heard before.

This is the second full-length release from the one-man project by Manuel Gagneux from New York; having only released the self-titled “Zeal and Ardor” prior to this back in 2014. Having listened to the debut, it seems that Manuel has turned to the dark(er) side both music and lyric-wise since then.

In the time being, between the debut and the follow-up, Manuel has tied down some of the loose ends I found to be on the first album. Every idea seems much more integrated this time around, and he sees to have a greater idea about what the final output should be concept-wise.

 The lyrics is most about praising the devil and darker things in life, and they’re very well delivered, with the vocals changing between shrieks and the blues-like clean vocals. Don’t waste your time, trying to look up the vocal samples, as they are all written and performed by Manuel himself.

The musical arrangements are near impossible to describe; a mix of everything I mentioned in the beginning, and then some.. You’ll easily identify most  genres known to man if you decide to give the album a shot.

“a good lord is a dark one
a good lord is the one that brings the fire
the riverbed will run red with the blood of the saints and the blood of the holy
(the one that brings the fire)”

Should I choose to mention a few favourites from the album, it would have to be “Come on down”, “Children’s summon” and “Blood in the river”. Despite being very different compositions they all have a thriving riffs, catchy melodies and strong lyrics in common. If you only got ten minutes to check out an album, these gives a great impression of what to expect.

So, to sum up the above..  This is one of the most interesting things I’ve come across in a VERY long time, and the only bad thing I have to say about this album, is that it might just be a couple of tracks too short; Twenty-four  minutes playtime, from start to end is not much. That being said, this is a must-listen; whether this turns out to be your thing or not, this is not an album to miss out on. 

Being fresh and groundbreaking it deserves, at least, your honest opinion; one that’s only to be given, when you’ve heard it a couple of times. At some time, people will ask you about “that Zeal and Ardor thing” – better be prepared..

On the Zeal and Ardor Bandcamp page it says the following in the description:

“Zeal and Ardor is a project trying find new combinations of established components. The most important factor is a thematic coherence, not a musical one.”

Status: Mission completed, with excellence.

 

Review/Vukari/Divination

What started off as a studio project by vocalist/guitarist back in 2013 Marek Cimochowicz,   resulted in the release of the debut album “Matriarch”, with the help from bassist Spenser Morris and a sit-in from the former Weekend Nachos vocalist John Hoffman on drums. From there, Vukari evolved into a full blown band-outfit on the follow-up EP, “En to pan”.  A release that first caught my attention on one of the many Facebook pages I follow.

On “Divination” the line-up features, besides Spenser and Marek,  Rich Stancanto on guitar and Mike DeStefano on drums. The band picks up from where they left us on “En to pan” – this time around perfecting their intense sound of atmospheric blackened metal, with hints of post-rocks influences from time to time.

The post-black influences shines brightest in the first few minutes of “Invictus maneo” and the intro to to album closer,  “Bathe in the divine light”. The first of these two, works its way from melodic post-black – to a haunting closing in the space of it’s near six-minute playtime. Why does the last couple of minutes on this one, makes me think of Behemoth..? I’m not pointing fingers here. They aren’t copying anything – it’s rather a case of the dark and gloomy atmosphere, for a short while resembles the one on Behemoths masterpiece of an album, “The Satanist”. Great stuff.

Excluding the intro “Divination I” and  interlude “Ad delerium I”, this album features six tracks, including my own favourite; The eight minute tour-de-force “Cursus Honorum”. Halfway through the song the pace might drop, but the combination of harmonics and unearthly roars of Marek makes sure that the intensity is preserved.

Vukari has already caught the attention of the underground scene over the last couple of years, that leading to sharing a scene with Vattnet Viskar, and opening for Taake back in february. This album could might be the ear- and eyeopener of a bigger audience – shooting them to a bigger stage; at least I hope so. They deserve it.

Pick up the early released digital version of this album on Bandcamp,  and/or buy the cd (august 1st) og vinyl (TBA fall 2016) – both to be released on Bindrune Recordings.

Review/Dark Funeral/Where Shadows Forever Reign

Some times it just sucks to be small in the big world of (black) metal; in this case that translates to being the nobody, that doesn’t get an example of the album prior to the date of official release. I had all the intentions of getting this review out a week ago, but it clashed with other projects, so it had to wait..

It’s been a while since we’ve last heard something from the Swedish legends Dark Funeral; “Angelus Exuro pro Eternus” being their latest offering, dating back to 2009.  In the time being since then, they have been making most headlines when changing members; an almost ever changing  lineup, that today is made up of Lord Ahriman (guitar), Chaq Mol (guitar), Dominator (drums) and  Heljarmadr(vocals).

Heljarmadr made his recording debut in Dark Funeral, on the late 2014 single “Nail them to the cross”; taking over the vocal duties from Emperor Magus Caligula who left in 2010, and those are some big shoes to fill. Nachtgarm of course filled the slot just prior to Heljarmadr – without resulting in any released material. So the big the question is whether this a match made in hell, as they intended..?

The short answer would be, yes. The former Cursed 13 vocalist does a great job on this album, and I consider him to be a great successor; his shrieky vocal, as well as growls, fits the Dark Funeral universe perfectly.

Earlier this year, the band celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their magnum opus “The secrets of the black arts”, one of my all-time favourite black metal albums. This time around they have asked Necrolord who did the cover-art back then, to work his magic yet again.  Using the similar color scheme, and resulting in a quite similar look of the two covers.

dark funeral necrolord covers

To be honest, it’s not just the cover that resembles something from 1996; this is Dark Funeral as we know them. Lord Ahriman and the rest of the band aren’t the ones to expect big surprises from, but in this case it isn’t a bad thing. Make no mistake, the still know how to make a catchy riff and write dark satanic lyrics – and they definitely haven’t got any worse at it, over the last twenty years. Quite the opposite in fact.

While this review is written by a fan, I would consider this to be an album for all fans of melodic black metal. Some of the strongest tracks on the album counts the previously relased singles “Unchain my soul”, “Temple of Ahriman”,  “Nail them to the cross” and the closing title track, “Where shadows forever reign”. Neither of them are a bad place to start if you want to hear what Dark Funeral sounds like in 2016.

You should go and judge for yourself, but in my opinion; If you thought this band was a has-been, you were wrong.

“I open the doors to the other side,
where everything is so old
I’m leaving this world and I enter the void
where the shadows forever reign.”

Review/Erudite Stoner/Self-titled

Regular visitors of this blog will be in for a different kind of treat this time, let that be known from the start. Matheus Novaes is the twentysix year old Brazilian guitarist working under the alias Erudite Stoner, and the following words will be all about the self-titled debut from december 2015.

I spend a lot of my time listening to demos and new releases. Much of it is, genre wise, very much up the same alley, and sometimes I have to give my ears a break, and freshen up before getting on with review and other writings. The last days of mind-clearing has been taken care off, by everything from Twisted Sister and Gary Moore to Queen – and this..

Wanting to become a guitarist myself when I was younger, I’ve definitely wasted my fair share of time, listening to guitarist-driven instrumental albums, by the likes of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Van Halen. So what is one to do, when you receive a message on facebook; getting asked to take a listen to yet another one..?

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. The unusual, but very nice, cover artwork is created by  Nando Freitas; Depicting a backpack wearing man looking out on the world before him. Standing next to an umbrella holding Lego man-like looking robot – it doesn’t give away to much info on what to expect music wise.

I’ve seen this album tagged as “doom”, “shoegaze” and “metal” on Bandcamp – and while this music is able to create emotions quite similar to the above mentioned genres. I would  prefer to describe it as “instrumental acoustic post rock” myself.

Matheus let his guitar to do the talking on the entire album; no bass, drums or vocals – leaving the acoustic guitar as his only voice to the world. Despite the obvious fact that Matheus  is a skilled guitarist, this doesn’t turn out to be a musicians only album. The excellent compositions are in the spotlight, and are far more than just short showcases of his talent on the six string.

In truth it would be unfair to single out any of the songs for special attention, as the album works beautifully as a whole; shifting moods smoothly between the dark intensely rousing  and the silently introvert.Should I choose to do so anyway, it  would be tough to leave out “Waiting for the storm” – the only track to feature some mildly distorted tone to build tension towards the end. Another one worth mentioning would be “Far away from the city walls” that takes my mind on a trip to a Brazilian beach, far away from Denmark where I live myself.

If you aren’t afraid to drop the barricades, and has got an open mind, you should definitely do yourself the big favor, and check out this album. It’s something else – and it’s absolutely brilliant in my honest opinion.

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Review/Sol Sistere/Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum 

A couple of months has passed since I shared the lyrics video to “Death knell”, the opening track on the debut album by Sol Sistere, on the PLBM Facebook page, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release ever since.

South America has given the world it’s fair share of metalbands; Brazil probably being responsible for the the majority of exports to the rest of the world. But now it’s time to turn our attention to Santiago, the captial of Chile.

“Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum” is the debut full-length by Pablo Vera (Drums), Ricardo Araya (Rhythm/lead guitars), C. (Rhythm guitars/vocals)and finally Juan Diaz (Bass); having only released the ep “I” before this, back in 2014.

If you liked, the before mentioned first single, “Death Knell” this album probably won’t disappoint, or surprise, you in any way.

In my opinion a great riff, equals one you unintentially end up humming along within the second time you hear it. Sol Sistere knows how to do just that; mixing great memorable riffs with nice melodies – resulting in an intense and dark atmospheric record.

Second track on the album, “Relentless ascension”, is the only song , being brought over from the previous released Ep. Having listened a to the the EP a few times, I would say that the guys chose wisely, by picking that track; not only being my favourite from “I” – but also among the strongest songs on this album too. Other noticable songs features “Deliver Us” and the two beautiful instrumental  pieces “Towards the morning star” and “6th Replicant”; the first one is a beautiful melodic semi-acoustic, featuring cello. The latter being a sun charged atmospheric monster.

So what’s the sum of all of this..?

With this album Sol Sistere  doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, with their melancholic harmonics mixed with take-no-prisoners-style traditional black metal..

But.. It’s so well executed that it ends up being an album, you end up playing over and over again. We are only halfway through 2016, but I have to admit, that this is one of the best things I’ve heard so far, and already a possible contestant for record of the year.

If in doubt after reading this little review – take a listen to the bandcamp audio-stream below, and judge for yourself..

“Unfading incorporeal vacuum” is out now on Hammerheart Records.

 

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Review/Antlers/A Gaze Into The Abyss

A year has past since this release. Yet another one, which passed under the radar.. But also one, that definitely deserves a mention.

“A gaze into the abyss” is the debut from the four-piece Antlers from Leipzig, Germany. Members count Pablo C. Ursusson on guitar, classical guitar and zanfona – also known as a “hurdy-gurdy.” Ntx, also known from Vidargängr, on guitar, keyboards and vocals. M takes good care of the drums and Mts finishes the ensemble, playing bass and doing backup vocals.

According to the all-knowing internet, this is an experienced group of musicians – all having numerous other projects under their belts, before joining forces. Music wise Antlers is probably best described as melodic black metal, with a folk touch. Pablo is also a part of the dark folk band Sangre de Muerdago, and despite Antlers being a different kind of monster, compared to Sangre de Muerdago, the atmospheric and alluring element of folk music, shines through the darkness from time to time.

At times I’d wish, that not every atmospheric/melodic/pagan black/whatever album would open with a mellow instrumental intro – but when it’s done like “Reverence” I’m not the one to deny Antlers doing as such. The following “Carnival of freedom and betrayal” is a great introduction to the rest of the album; fast melodic guitars and roaring vocals on top of heavy hitting rhythm section.

“Hundreds” slows down the pace again, in it’s own monotonous, all most doom’ish, fashion – without ever loosing it’s grip on the listener.

“To the throats” paints the picture of the horrors that takes place on the warfield; adapting a part of the spoken passage, midway through the song, from the poem “A war song to englishmen” by the English poet William Blake.

At times this is propably the most clearcut black metal song among the six featured on “A gaze..” It doesn’t however, at any time, loose the warm organic feel that that the first couple of songs introduced.

“To the throats” is not the only song to feature lyrics rooted in litterature. The lyrics for “Carnival of Freedom and Betrayal” is adapted from the novel “Q”, published by four Bologna based writers, under the famous pseudonym Luther Blisset.

The excellent “Memories of the extinct” closes the album, and leaves me with an impression of an album that might be able to attract attention from a wide range of metalfans, as it contains recognizable elements from most (black) metal sub-genres.

Antlers have been touring this spring, and might hit the road again in the late autumn or winter; in the meantime they are focusing on writing new songs – and the plan is to start recording, when pleased with the material.

If you like the musicstream below, do yourself a favor and buy the album; currently available on cassette tape, LP, or digital download via bandcamp – and while we’re waiting for something new from the guys, keep yourself updated on their facebook page.

 

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