Calyx – Vientos arcaicos (2019)

Guest article by Belisario

Now that the end of 2019 is over, with its list-saturated madness, it is a good moment to look backwards in search for the decent albums we may have overlooked during the year. That might be the case of the debut album by a discrete Spanish band under the name of Calyx. Released in the month of May, it was published by no less than Iron Bonehead Productions, a well-known middle-sized label which is lately supporting smaller and lesser known bands, a move certainly worth praising.

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Best Underground Metal of 2019

While 2019 has shown that home studios are only getting better with the release of better emulators and cheaper “ready to record” prepackaged setups, the increase of quantity has not shown a proportionate increase in quality across the music spectrum. Metal has been in a particular weak state despite the best releases of the year being better than those of previous years, the overall quality was so low that even the present editor had to explore non-metal underground music in hopes of finding something of great quality. While such “expeditions” have been for the most part fruitless, the best of the year can only leave the metal listener with a sense optimism of what the new decade has to offer. Without any further ado, here is the best underground metal of 2019.

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Gevurahel – Un Nuevo Amanecer Satánico (2019)

Coming back not with a reformulation or evolution of their sound but a deepening of their purpose, Gevurahel give us a new presentation of old and new compositions that fine tune their expression of satanic devotion. The musical style has been boiled down to essentials of unity and comprehensibility, letting the variation and exploration take place in a more controlled way. These designs are not random nor do they respond to a musical urge, but rather to an inner insistence upon necessity with respect to purpose. That is, the direct opposite of music for its own sake.

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Witch-Hunt – Darkened Anthology 1992-2002

Witch-Hunt hail from Virginia and were formed by brothers Brian and Ben Straight at a young age. The band would go through multiple periods and lineup changes that resulted in only one full length and a band trying to find its identity through various styles and constant lineup changes. On Darkened Anthology 1992-2002 the band showcase the best songs of each period in a “best of” style and such each section will be reviewed separately.

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Irillion – Fatanyu (Self-released, 2019)

Ostensibly positioning themselves somewhere between the exalted primitivism of Demoncy and the “flowing” school of Eastern European black metal, Irillion emerged as one of the more promising black metal-acts of recent years with 2016’s Egledhron. Not so much for their choice of style, but for displaying courage to move beyond established forms in intuitive pursuit of the most effective and far-reaching mode of expression. This recently released second EP entitled Fatanyu retains the sonic signature and raw, essentialist approach evident on the debut, but trumps the debut in terms of composition and stylistic refinement.

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Original Mercyful Fate Bassist Timi Hansen Dead At Age 61

Timi Hansen who played on the classic Mercyful Fate records and the first few King Diamond albums has been confirmed dead by King Diamond himself. Timi had gone public with his diagnosis on early August while announcing that he would not be able to play on the Mercyful Fate reunion tour and that Armored saint bassist Joey Vera would be taking over. He passed on the 4th of November barely a week after his 61st birthday. King Diamond left the following message.

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Fester – Silence (Lethal, 1994)

Back in the day, this Norwegian band was derogatorily referred to as a “life metal”-band by scenesters. Especially their sophomore effort Silence suffered a reputation of being an exceptionally weak, pretentious and – above all – boring release. Although recent years have given rise to sporadic reevaluations of the band’s work, Fester remains largely neglected to this day (and some would say deservedly so).

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Sarcasm – Esoteric Tales of the Unserene (Chaos, 2019)

One of many promising acts who fell by the wayside in the early 1990, Swedish melodic death/black band Sarcasm made a somewhat unexpected return in 2015 with the long overdue release of their 1994 debut full-length Burial Dimensions. Then in 2017 came their return proper with Within in the Sphere of Ethereal Minds, an aesthetically pleasing marred by haphazard assembly. With Esoteric Tales of the Unserene (2019), Sarcasm return to previously explored territories; maybe in the hope of striking a better equilibrium between the style’s main constituents: black-, death- and heavy metal.

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Angel Witch – Angel of Light (Metal Blade, 2019)

Mighty influential NWOBHM’ers Angel Witch is about to unleash their greatly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s As Above, So Below. The album, entitled Angel of Light, will hit the market on November 1 and will be available in a plethora of formats. Together with countrymen Satan, Angel Witch count as one of few returning old school metal acts who’ve managed to modernize their sound without having it reflect negatively on their past efforts. However, since As Above, So Below consisted primarily of re-recorded material from the golden days, this new effort could be seen as the true testing ground for the band.

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OPHTHALAMIA – A Journey in Darkness (Avantgarde Music, 1994)

While primarily known for his work with black metal/noise-pioneers Abruptum and assorted non-musical activities in the – at least locally – infamous “True Satanist Horde”, it is the strange entity of Ophthalamia that remains as Tony “IT” Särkkä’s (RIP 1972-2017) greatest artistic achievement. Ophthalamia’s debut album A Journey in Darkness stood out in the early 1990s black metal-environment with its anachronistic and all-around peculiar mode of expression. In rough terms, the music can be described as a blend of black-, doom-, and heavy metal with the conceptual and structural trappings of 1970s progressive rock.

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