Pureblood Albums – A 2013 Recap

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Article by David Rosales

As another year ends and a new one begins, many “best of” lists pop up here and there, among them our own here at DMU. While others may be eager to know about what is ever new, we are more interested in what stands the test of time. Today we will look at some albums that were highlighted here as the foremost products of the year 2013, which was a year of renewal, great comebacks, startling discoveries and a general wellspring of inspiration. In the opinion of this writer, 2013 has been the best year for metal in the 21st century.


To start off, we shall pay respects to long-lasting acts with a black metal background, namely Graveland, Summoning and Burzum. While the last has left the metal camp for good, its approach and spirit is still very much enriched by the essence of the deepest metal infused with transcendental values. Summoning is still doing their thing, ever evolving, trying a different permutation of their unique style. Fudali’s project has become the warrior at the frontlines of the strongest nationalism grounded in music that uplifts the heart with an authentic battle feeling (as opposed to those other bands playing funny-jumpy rock and acting all “dangerous”).

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Sôl austan, Mâni vestan is an ambient affair that uses short loops which revolve around clear themes in each track. The approach is a little formulaic, thereby limiting the experience with a feeling of repetition. However, as with many good works of art, this self-imposed canalization serves to speed the result in a direction. As with a lot of Burzum’s work, this is a concept album that must be listened to as a whole. When this is followed and one stops looking for novelty and instead concentrates on the details that bring variation within the familiar landscape, the somewhat arduous experience brings great rewards once the summit is reached and the journey is taken more than once.

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Something similar can be said of the slightly pop-minded Old Mornings Dawn. This effort by Summoning certainly lacks the density of their masterpiece, Dol Guldur, but is no less effective, although perhaps shallow. But what isn’t shallow when compared to that masterpiece? As with every Summoning album, Old Mornings Dawn has a very separate personality, and in this case, it is one of heroism, light, regeneration and hope. Something that will never leave the band’s trademark sound is the deep feeling of melancholy and longing for ruins.

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Graveland materializes in Thunderbolts of the Gods one of their most warlike efforts to date in a smooth trajectory that has gone from rough-pagan to long-winded and epic to heroic war music. What raises this offering above others in Fudali’s current trend is the awesome bringing forth of destructive energies mustered in the imposing drumwork. Gone are the clumsy rhythms of Cold Winter Blades and the redneckish tone of the (nonetheless great) album Following the Voice of Blood. This is the technically polished and spirit-infused summit of this face of Graveland.

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One of the most deserving releases of 2013 was Black Sabbath’s 13. More expectations could not have been placed on anyone else. Yet the godfathers of metal delivered like the monarchs they are: with original style, enviable grace, magnificent strength and latent power. Along with the last three albums just mentioned, this album shows itself timeless in the present metal landscape. It encompasses all that it is metal, and brings it back to its origin. This is an absolute grower which will age like the finest wine and is, in my opinion, the album of the year of 2013.

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In 2013, Profanatica finally achieved amazing distinction with Thy Kingdom Cum, which can be considered the fully developed potential of what Ledney presented in the thoroughly enjoyable Dethrone the Son of God under the Havohej moniker. To say this is the natural outcome of Profanatica’s past work is as true as it is misleading in its implications. This is not just a continuation of what the band was doing before, but a deliberate step, a clear decision in the clear change in texture quality that means the world in such minimalist music where a simple shift in technique or modal approach defines most of the character of the music.

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Cóndor’s Nadia was probably the hidden pearl of the year. Never mind the metaphor of the “diamond in the rough”, there is nothing rough about this. It is polished, but it is hidden. The shy face of this beautiful lady is covered by a veil that turns away the unworthy, the profane! This is immortal metal artwork which to uninitiated eyes and ears seems but like the simple, perhaps even amateur, collection of Sabbathian cliches and tremolo excuses of an unexperienced band. The knowledgeable and contemplating metal thinker recognizes the Platonic forms under the disfigured shapes.

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Imprecation’s Satanae Tenebris Infinita and Blood Dawn by Warmaster draw our attention to the strong presence of a more humble but profoundly (though not obviously) memorable album and EP. These will stand the chance of time, but will not necessarily remain strong in the mind of a listener in a way that he feels compelled to come back to them often.

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Dark Gods, Seven Billion Slaves by VON seemed more enticing at the time. It’s definitely a solid release, but it is however a very thinly populated album with more airtime than content. Whatever content it has is also not particularly engaging. The enjoyability of this one is a much more subjective affair and like a soundtrack is more dependent on extra-musical input from the listener’s imagination.

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As delightful as the three heavy metal albums Argus Beyond The Martyrs, Blitzkrieg Back From Hell and Satan are, the intrinsic qualities of their selected subgenres makes them a difficult candidate for long-lasting and profound impact. That is not to say they have no lasting value. If anything, these are albums one can come back a thousand times and perhaps they will not grow that much, but they will never truly grow old.

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Autopsy’s Headless Ritual is one of the strongest yet most understated albums of the year. The extremely rough character of the music may contribute to how it carelessly it can be left behind. Fans of brutal music will find it little different from the rest and will quickly forget it. Fans of wider expressions and deeper thoughts will pass it by with little interest. Such is the tragedy of this very respectable album.

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A few stragglers in this group; Master’s The Witchhunt, Centurian’s Contra Rationem, Derogatory’s Above All Else, and Rudra’s RTA proved to be more impact and potential than manifest presence. These will remain fun and quaint for a very occasional listen, perhaps even a sort of throwback feeling, but lacking the long-lasting impact of others in this list.

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A special mention is deserved by Into the Pantheon, the essential synthesis of Empyrium, being their most revealing, powerful and clear release. While not outwardly metal, this live recording everything that is to be metal at the level of character and spirit. As such it is the perfect closing note for this recapitulation and reevaluation of past selections.

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27 thoughts on “Pureblood Albums – A 2013 Recap”

  1. vOddy says:

    It is uplifting, indeed it is wood for my inner fire, to read that good metal is still being made.
    Metal is not dead.

    I’m particularly interested in Summoning. I haven’t heard them, but I think that I will like them very much. I like Scandinavian, Saxon, Celtic, and other European folk music.
    I like the themes that people keep saying Summoning deal with.
    I like black metal.
    I like folk metal (not all of it, just the good stuff).

    So I’m going to start getting Summoning albums in chronological order.
    Thank you, Death Metal Underground, for being a gold mine of musical recommendations which I shamelessly use without giving any thing back in return.

    1. Gabe Kagan says:

      You might do better to start with the mentioned Dol Guldur. Summoning’s debut is musically quite different from the rest of their work and may give you the wrong impression about the band. I can’t vouch for or against that album’s quality, though, for lack of experience.

    2. ABCD1234 says:

      This is all the death metal and black metal worth listening to.

      http://pastebin.com/raw/kLmqK4UC

  2. Belano says:

    Great article, as always. I also think that 13 was the best album of that year, even though I also like Nadia and Satanae Tenebris Infinita very much. Thanks for this post and for all the work you do to keep people updated on the best metal releases. I’m really expecting your list of the best albums of this year. It’s the only one I can trust.

  3. muthafukcas! says:

    I hate to be the one who brings up the fact that Darken isn’t a pureblood; he’s Italian.

    1. david says:

      So… irrelevant to the quality of the music

      1. muthafukcas! says:

        Irrelevant if Odin likes spicey meatballs and if there’s spaghetti alle vongole in Valhalla…

    2. canadaspaceman says:

      Define “pureblood”.
      Rob Darken / Robert Fudali from GRAVELAND looks 100% white to me

      1. muthafukcas! says:

        We should ask David Rosales to define “pureblood” since he titled the article with it.

        pure-blood·ed
        adjective
        adjective: pureblood
        (of a person or animal) of unmixed ancestry or descent.
        “a herd of pure-blooded American bison”

        Since Darken is part Italian, by definition he’s not a pureblood.

        1. vOddy says:

          The music can be pure blooded metal

          as in not containing elements of pop music, rock, indie or otherwise, and so on

          1. muthafukcas! says:

            The title of the article is poppycock. Being that Rosales included Graveland (which has made edgy statements with song titles such as “White Hands Power”) with a label of “pureblood”, one must assume that he purposely imposed his own edgy leanings which is not limited to the music itself but other factors. The inclusion of Burzum’s lackluster offering in this article reinforces this assumption… Two white supremicist artists in an article labeled “pureblood” isn’t very crypto; it’s blatant and in bad taste for a website which prides itself in promoting artists solely for their musical merits.

            Why use the word “pureblood” and not some other word that expresses quality?

            1. vOddy says:

              Isn’t White Hand’s Power about Isengard? Isengard’s symbol is a white hand, because their leader is Saruman the white wizard.

              Anyway, it’s possible that this article is about Caucasian supremacy. But it’s also possible that it’s about musical (metal) supremacy.

              1. muthafukcas! says:

                My only gripe is the title of this article is in bad taste. I wonder why traffic keeps plummeting?

                http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/deathmetal.org

        2. whim says:

          Having some Italiano blood is perty important if you wanna go the distance in various aspects of life. But actually getting the right racial/culture mixtures is just great in general. Noted: where are any of the other bands from the Polish scene now, most of which where just copying Graveland anyway. Varg’s also got some distant Swedish blood for that matter. Fenriz is a yid etc etc

      2. David Rosales says:

        As fun as it is seeing a bunch of dogs chaise their tales, let me clarify this.
        Let me go out on a limb here and guess that the autistic response obsessed with the word “pureblood” comes from Muricans. I had no intention of second implications with the word and only meant it more along the lines of “belonging in deepest spirit to METAL”. There was no ACTUAL BLOODLINES IMPLICATION. I talk about music, I couldn’t give less than a fuck about Fudali’s ancestry. I am an observer and would note parallelisms between race and quality, it’s scientific, but that is another matter and has nothing to do with my writing on this website.
        I repeat, I write about music, my references are to music and to the ways it is approached, perceived or analyzed. Hence, the only reason I mention Marxist imbecility is when it comes to how they want everything dumbed down and sensibilized by making it materialistic nonsense with no meaning other than our irrelevant (but oh so relevant?) particular emotions. I have no interest in engaging in POLITICAL arguments, but I would mention them because they stick their ignorant noses in and make a mess out of music appreciation.

        1. muthafukcas! says:

          “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”

          – Isaac Newton

          You’re blind to your audience if you don’t see how your prose could be perceived as alienating. Don’t blame “hurr durr Murricans” for being too sensitive. There are more Americans that read this site than any other country. You’ll eventually end up in an echo chamber comprised of just yourself, and you’ll take this site down with you (if you haven’t already).

          1. David Rosales says:

            Don’t really fucking care about preventing misunderstanding from stupidity. Not here at any rate.

  4. Daniel Maarat says:

    For me 1. the Demilich boxset, 2. Imprecation, 3. Dead Congregation, 4. Black Sabbath. Dead Congregation’s album has some songwriting failures but it starts and ends well and definitely had the best guitar tone of last year.

    1. corrector says:

      Demilich was 2014
      Dead Congregation was also 2014

  5. canadaspaceman says:

    Black Sabbath’s 13 was a bore.
    Sounds like any one of Ozzy’s solo albums he released since 1995.

    1. david says:

      Iommi and Geezer make a hug difference. If you can’t tell and are focused simply on Ozzy’s development as a vocalist, then I would encourage you to keep listening.

      1. canadaspaceman says:

        Iommi and Butler did NOT make a difference on “13”, like when the band was called Heaven & Hell (with Dio singing).
        Where are the memorable riffs? Where is the “epic” nature of at least one of the “13” songs?
        and also offensive – the clean studio sound is EXACTLY like any of the Ozzy solo records, not the heaviness of a Sabbath record.

  6. Roger says:

    Most of these albums, especially the fucking limp-wristed Burzum album, are boring.

    1. muthafukcas! says:

      The Burzum album is quite possibly the biggest turd of 2013.

      1. whim says:

        True to form, I raise my sword and adjust my belt notch, while spinning the untainted spirit of his second album “Dat sum N-gang thug” on wax. Cymophane!

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