Burzum’s Filosofem turns 20 today

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This is the sort of recording that could very easily displace the already accomplished works of Kvist from your memory. Filosofem, while released 20 years ago this day, was recorded in March 1993; meanwhile, the first track (“Dunkelheit” or “Burzum” depending upon the pressing) was the first track ever written for Burzum. As part of the initial burst of Burzum’s material, Filosofem sticks to a language of black metal that Varg Vikernes helped define, but is arguably closer in spirit to the pure ambient works that followed it. The internet overflows with discussion of the circumstances surrounding this album, as well as its excursions into a sort of streamlined “Odinpop”, but like its illustrious predecessors, Filosofem‘s influence is immense, even if most who try to imitate the ideas on display here kind of miss the point.

20th anniversary of For kunsten maa vi evig vike by Kvist

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Kvist’s For kunsten maa vi evig vike came out on the first day of 1996; a year in which booming consumer technology and gimmicky multimedia projects overshadowed one of the many deaths of the black metal scene. Absurd soliloquies aside, Kvist’s full length debut seems to penetrate someone’s mind every now and then, and is generally praised for its melodic prowess. Our old archives don’t hold it in as high a regard, but those who favor the more conventionally musical aspects of Norwegian black metal may find some value in this recording.

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.

Tranquillizer – Des Endes Anfang (2015)

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Sold to us by a promo company as “melodic” death/black metal, Des Endes Anfang by Tranquillizer (sic) is an ungainly fusion of In Flames type melodeath, Pantera flavored brocore grooves, and maybe a slight hint of extreme metal writing at times… by mistake. It occasionally amuses me to see a long-abandoned style of pop metal get some attention after years of neglect, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this album is simply terrible. It’s so bad that I’ve decided to explicitly label it a bad album, in spite of my tendency to pass off most of the review subjects here at DMU as mediocre (medio-core?) and forgettable.

The songwriting here, admittedly, is only weak in a pedestrian fashion. If you were to strip away all the references to past forms of mainstream metal, you’d end up with just another set of random, generic metal riffs like so many albums before this; nothing actually worth discussing. To be fair, Tranquillizer’s “varied” influences give them a wide set of material to pull upon, similar to something like Children of Bodom‘s latest. I Worship Chaos is actually a decent comparison; Tranquillizer doesn’t have the neoclassical backing that helped contribute to that band’s popularity, but they do replace it with slightly more varied (albeit stupid sounding) vocals. In this reviewer’s opinion, that’s not a great trade, but it’s not like either point of comparison has any real merit.

While the substrate of this band is hollow at best, most of what I find contemptible in Des Endes Anfang is its immediately apparent, surface level stupidity. A clean, dry, sterile production allows the panderingly simplistic rhythms of this album to burst forth, as well as a dual vocal system of generic shrieks and vomited grunts. For our purposes, it should suffice to say that this is, at best, a modern rehash of older substyles. You could make the case that none of this is innately bad, despite its similarities to previous bad metal albums, but even if you did, it seems apparent that Tranquillizer doesn’t have the musical knowledge or aptitude to make this album come off as more than half-hearted worship of a warmed over god. Not that I should be raising our old whipping posts to the level of divinity, but the analogy is sound, and Des Endes Anfang isn’t exactly worthy of more precise flogging.

Xibalba to release Ah Tza! EP

Xibalba performing at Black Flames of Blasphemy

The post-Christmas malaise has set in worldwide, but there’s still time for the occasional pre-2016 release and/or news story.

After what was apparently a pretty good performance at Black Flames of Blasphemy, the Mexican black metal band Xibalba is releasing a short three song EP. Entitled Ah Tza!, its first track is already available through Bandcamp due to the services of the band’s current record label (Nuclear War Now! Productions). The other two will be available on December 31st. As of yet, there’s not really enough information to figure out what this shortalbum will sound like, but the first song at least conforms to the musical language of black metal; not that such is exactly difficult.

#Metalgate before the quarrel: Nyogthaeblisz censored at festival

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In the middle of #metalgate, we are familiar with regular outrages as SJWs attempt to silence anyone who does not agree with their narrow-minded, politically-motivated viewpoint which they use as a means to achieve personal power by delighting in the destruction of others. Before this creepy behavior moved into the spotlight, its roots could be seen in an early incident involving the black metal band Nyogthaeblisz:

In the build-up to the fest, the usual rush for the aspiring pretentious festival goer to research all of the bands playing so they wouldn’t get caught looking ignorant was on. Chaos In Tejas attracted a variety of types to the festival. One of the more unfortunate types are the “I still think punk is a platform to fight the good fight politically” PC punk type.

The 2012 edition featured anarchopunk legends The Mob & Antisect, so the festival promised to have more PC crust punks than usual in attendance. As kids started to research the lineup, they found “irregularities” in Nyogthaeblisz’s background. First, they were on the label Satanic Skinhead Propaganda. The label, run by the oft maligned Antichrist Kramer, had a reputation for releasing questionable / sketchy music. Second, Nyogthaeblisz’s lyrics made crushing commentary about the Jewish faith, though not specifically limited to it. The criticism / outcry from many parties quickly became deafening.

The height of this outcry was when The Mob / Antisect both threatened to walk out of the festival and drop if Nyogthaeblisz was not dropped. Eventually, the festival’s promoters made a tactical decision and relented. They dropped Nyogthaeblisz. For the PC types, this was seen as a victory. Defeating the evil that is intolerance and racism wherever they may find it.

Nowhere else has the problem been more clearly documented: invaders from the long-dead punk scene, where people buy bands for “the message” despite low musical quality for the past twenty-five years, muscled into a metal festival and used their media power to force removal of an act singing about a fairly middle-of-the-road black metal message, which is a critique of Abrahamic religions (Nyogthaeblisz targets Christianity, Judaism and Islam as being the same philosophy).

While many of us are sensitive about people who dislike Jews, remembering the horrors of Kristallnacht and The Holocaust, this does not insulate any religion from criticism no matter how minority its status. The whole point of religious toleration is to allow ideas to be compared, and this includes defense of those who are critical of religion or specific religions. “No gods, no masters” is OK in the PC world, but saying “not this god” is not.

Their use of the term irregularities brings to mind a group who, in the name of a Good ideology, killed over 100 million people, many of them in death camps. Their favorite tactic was to kill off the intellectuals and leaders in any field and then replace them with politically-obedient substitutes. This group was the Communists, whose idea of universal equality and ownership by the people of the means of wealth sounds good on paper, at least. You can just see a Commissar, in uniform with pistol at his side, saying “Comrade Nyogthaeblisz, vee haf found some… irregularities… in your papers. Please come with us now,” before the train to Siberia or the guillotine departs.

This mentality was described extremely well centuries ago by Fred “God is Dead” Nietzsche:

There it comes willingly: welcome, tarantula! Your triangle and symbol sits black on your back; and I also know what sits in your soul. Revenge sits in your soul: wherever you bite, black scabs grow; your poison makes the soul whirl with revenge.

Thus I speak to you in a parable—you who make souls whirl, you preachers of equality. To me you are tarantulas, and secretly vengeful. But I shall bring your secrets to light; therefore I laugh in your faces with my laughter of the heights. Therefore I tear at your webs, that your rage may lure you out of your lie-holes and your revenge may leap out from behind your word justice. For that man be delivered from revenge, that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.

The tarantulas, of course, would have it otherwise. “What justice means to us is precisely that the world be filled with the storms of our revenge”—thus they speak to each other. “We shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all whose equals we are not”—thus do the tarantula-hearts vow. “And ‘will to equality’ shall henceforth be the name for virtue; and against all that has power we want to raise our clamor!”

You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue. Aggrieved conceit, repressed envy—perhaps the conceit and envy of your fathers—erupt from you as a flame and as the frenzy of revenge.

What was silent in the father speaks in the son; and often I found the son the unveiled secret of the father.

They are like enthusiasts, yet it is not the heart that fires them—but revenge. And when they become elegant and cold, it is not the spirit but envy that makes them elegant and cold. Their jealousy leads them even on the paths of thinkers; and this is the sign of their jealousy: they always go too far, till their weariness must in the end lie down to sleep in the snow. Out of every one of their complaints sounds revenge; in their praise there is always a sting, and to be a judge seems bliss to them.

But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! Verily, their souls lack more than honey. And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.

The article adds a nice analysis of the situation from a neutral viewpoint:

What happened to Nyogthaeblisz was a textbook case of what people who are intolerant of intolerance do. You’ve heard stories about Antifa protests at shows over the years. Antifa members calling the police (the ultimate cardinal sin in the subculture) on shows they protest, intimidating attendees of shows they protest, and threatening promoters for their bookings of questionable acts. None of this is okay. This kind of Kristallnacht, lynch mob, seeing red mentality at the mere possibility of questionable content is not okay. Nyogthaeblisz was judged and attacked without even getting to issue a statement in their defense. The biggest tragedy of the anti-racist position is the claim of a higher understanding / intelligence that their racist opposition lacks. If this higher understanding / intelligence truly existed, the research on Nyogthaeblisz would not have stopped at Anti-Jewish, but arrived at Anti-Abrahamic. What happened to Nyogthaeblisz wasn’t the triumph of good over evil. It was one side becoming what they hated to root out an entity that they did not understand.

This is the face of the SJW: someone who has failed at life or at least is less important than they think they are, demanding to be made important through ideology and their ability to summon a hate-mob to destroy others who have achieved what the SJWs have not. Nyogthaeblisz’s real sin was not having the wrong views, but succeeding without having an SJW ideology and lifestyle. That is the face of the group that wants to take over metal, replace its leaders with SJWs, and forever turn it into a mediocrity like hardcore has been since SJWs took over there.

Ihsahn to release Arktis

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Along with a planned review for the upcoming week, Ihsahn has made it back onto my list of “musicians who clearly exist” with the upcoming release of Arktis. It is set for a March 4th release and will be Ihsahn’s 6th full studio length. If previous press releases and media praiseworshipspeak is to be believed (I’m looking at Blabbermouth here), Arktis will somehow be both more traditionally structured than Ihsahn’s previous solo albums, which tend to already employ a lot of pop song structures, and also somehow pushing “…boundaries and preconceived sounds typically assigned to heavy music”. That’s either a tall order or a marketing department ignoring what the artist says to revel in their own promotional efforts.

Artists and fans against censorship start anti-Baltimore group

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In response to stories of political censorship by the Maryland Metalfest, attacks on Demonic Christ, and alleged SJW exclusion of political non-conformists, a loose-knit group of fans, musicians and writers has formed the Facebook group Make Baltimore – NO PLAY ZONE! to express disagreement with censorship.

The group organizers issued the following statement:

This group was founded to promote the idea that bands should stay out of Baltimore or risk millennial crybabies attempting to ruin band’s careers over the numerous things they find offensive. Every city has this problem, true. But, the children of Baltimore have made this particular city undesirable for having a good time and enjoying a show.
ENTER BALTIMORE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Once in the underground, #metalgate is heating up as people oppose the idea of censorship and political conformity in metal. Many remember what such herd-thinking did to hardcore in the 1980s and the attempts to censor metal from right and left during the same decade. Others simply believe that genres dedicated to extremity should keep all ideas on the table, especially when the standard of political conformity seems to agree with what most governments, media and large corporations endorse. Time will tell.

Cirith Gorgor – Visions of Exhalted Lucifer (2015)

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Cirith Gorgor bases its music around a strong vocal in the modern metal style of several emphatic syllables which then trail off, and this primary rhythm instrument propels the music forward. Underneath it flow melodic riffs which are not based on unique shape for its own ends, but fit around the rhythm of the vocals, approximating the style of later Emperor.

All of the familiar patterns are here: the sweeps, the gently falling melodic riffs, and the sawing upsurge riffs, and they are ordered in sensible songs. These songs do not particularly distinguish themselves from one another, nor evoke any type of emotion other than a general sense of feelings about the genre, but they are not random and are better assembled than the average. They resemble a sort of ongoing conversation that appears in different forms.

If this band has a weakness, it is reliance on the modern style of “yapping chihuaha” vocals. These are easier to follow than the old way, but place too many demands on the guitars for them to lead songwriting. The melodic hooks are pleasant and the discourse of songs orderly, but this band has a way to go before it expresses something like the power this genre has sleeping within it.

Blackdeath – Totentanz (2016)

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Blackdeath is a Russian black metal band that just so happens to perform their lyrics in German. Funny how that works out. I’m not sure what the motivation is, but it’s a mildly interesting bit of trivia that you might get a kick out of. The actual album (which is intended to release on January 1st, 2016, and was provided via promos) was initially released in two parts in 2004, as parts of splits with Mortifera and Leviathan produced in exceedingly small qualities, so while the material is far from new, this may be your first chance to hear what comes off as a competent, but unremarkable and therefore disposable piece of old school black metal. Definitely not “best of 2016” material.

Now, the promo message we were sent claims that Totentanz is “…nothing like you have heard before”, but in my personal experience, there’s not much here that’s particularly novel. Blackdeath’s PR agency was probably listening primarily to the guitar, which showcase a nice mixture of standard melodic black metal phrases with more dissonant, atonal phrases. By not confining themselves to tonal centers, the band has opened up some realms of musical technique that could come in handy. That’s about all I can say in favor of the instrumental end of this album – nothing here is “wrong” or out of place (even the drum machine), but it’s otherwise very standard for its subgenre.

I suppose the specific problem with Totentanz is that it does little to coordinate its individual elements into a coherent whole. Blackdeath seemingly values the “kvlt” side of black metal, and thusly this album is blessed with a stereotypical low fidelity mix. The most prominent issue here is that the percussion is nearly inaudible; this appears to be a constant problem throughout the band’s discography. It’s not really a problem for a more ambient black metal act like Darkthrone or Sorcier des Glaces, but Blackdeath seemingly aspires towards the more violent side of the genre, at least if the rest of their musical elements aren’t misleading me. Totentanz also has the sort of arbitrary songwriting that so many other metal bands fall into. In this case, I find it unusually hard to isolate specific elements for criticism; however, the aesthetic/songwriting mismatch seems to be most responsible for this recording going in one ear and out the other without getting much in the way of proper mental attention.

I guess it’s a dubious honor that the first upcoming release of 2016 I’ve reviewed avoids the Sadistic Metal Reviews pile, but honestly, the best thing I can say about Totentanz is that it’s surrounded by mildly interesting circumstances.