Master’s Hammer – Ritual (1991)

Master's Hammer - Ritual

Ritual is the pinnacle of the Central European black metal style characterized by continuing the riffing tradition of traditional heavy metal and strict adherence to speed metal song structure; Hellhammer, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, and even Megadeth influences are easily heard along with Bartók’s folkishness and Chopin’s romanticism. While their compatriots Root presaged the Hellenic scene, Master’s Hammer’s operatic use of the mellotron inspired the divergent atmosphere Emperor employed on In the Nightside Eclipse.

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Blood Incantation – Starspawn (2016)

blood incantation star spawn

Article by Lance Viggiano.

Blood Incantation give birth to a star which rapidly dissipates its vibrant material into a pale dwarf by exhausting concise songwriting early in its lifecycle to leave only the raw core of extended jam sessions which cause the dead to be grateful for their passing. Each proper song begins with a clear objective but rapidly loses focus through descents into ill-fitting random pastiches of mosh riffs, doom, beer horn ready chug or atmospheric atonal ambience. By and large, the latter half of these songs are used to adroitly drift in the vacuum of purpose wherein it makes its residence. Unlike Altars of Madness which similarly abuses the listener by stretching the limits of tolerance towards virtuosity, this group lacks the voracious songwriting that is necessary to avoid wandering by achieving focus to force the captive into loving punishing bouts of self-indulgence.

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Sorcier des Glaces – Snowland MMXII

snowland mmxii

Artistically bankrupt metal bands typically rerecord their early material after milking the revenue streams dry through reissues, remasters, anniversary tours, and boxed sets. While the original recordings typically aren’t pristine productions, all charm is lost in the sample-replaced, quantized, digitally-reamped, and phase-butchered retreads shat out by an obsessive tinkerer’s digital audio workstation. All enthusiasm in the performances is butchered by years of alcohol abuse and aging journeyman musicians collecting just another paycheck, e.g. Sodom’s The Final Sign of Evil, Manowar’s Battle Hymns MMXI, and Bolt Thrower’s “World Eater ‘94”. Snowland MMXII is one of the few exceptions to this rule of rehash.

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Nokturnal Mortum & Graveland – The Spirit Never Dies (2016)

graveland & nokturnal mortum

Article by David Rosales.

Splits are usually revealing for reasons the bands do not intend. By allowing their music to be placed alongside that of another band in a way that listening to them one after the other is not only encouraged but, in metal culture, almost mandatory, they make comparisons and judgements based on performance differences inevitable. The aim might be to publish a few tracks more efficiently and getting the music to more people since people who know one of the two bands will listen to the other band out of curiosity. The more zealous metal fans, however, are bound to make harsher judgements of anything that is placed too close to the band they follow.

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Sanctuaire – Le Sang sur l’Acier (2016)

Sanctuaire Le Sang sur l’Acier

Sanctuaire hearken back to an imagined Canadian Viking past in the hope of explaining their national hockey skills. Le Sang sur l’Acier presents three black metal songs written in a style similar to their compatriots Sorcier des Glaces but genericized for mass appeal.

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Depressor – Filth / Grace (2014)

Depressor Filth Grace

Article by Lance Viggiano.

In its best moments punk music transcends volk-rage by serving as a cracked mirror reflecting the forlorn realities that industrialization and intangible goal of perpetual progress wrought as this civilization awaited technological rapture to deliver its destiny among the stars. The reflection was always unclear because of its nature as folk music, marred by smudges and dust that lead it to misdiagnose the cause of its own woes. Depressor spiritually and musically channel this ethos while stepping into the well-worn boots of Godflesh resulting in a body of work resides between industrial, doom/death and punk music. The artists understand that heaviness is not merely a novelty or a token, but a vessel.

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Schattenvald – Der Winterkönig (2016)

schattenvald der winterkonig

Article by David Rosales.

As a wave of revivalists of the old metal ways of the late 80s and early 90s assail us with full optimism, we are face with the dilemma of creation of the new through the emulation of that which is no more. From this sincere intent are born projects like Schattenvald who attempt to extend the lessons of the adventurers of more than two decades ago. However, the bar that was raised by those heroes is set higher than even such well-intentioned moderns band can reach.

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