Upcoming tours – Gorgoroth, Kampfar, Gehenna

Blackfest Over Xmas 2015
This December, a few notable black metal acts are touring Western/Central Europe. Gorgoroth and Gehenna, at the very least had some fame and notoriety back in the 1990s and are still well known today, although the former has drifted quite far from their best days. On the other hand, I’ve never heard of Kampfar until just now, although a cursory look at Encyclopedia Metallum suggests they’ve existed since the mid-90s. Supporting acts are expected to vary, but in the UK, these three bands will be joined by De Profundis, who is at least tangentially related to the black metal focus this tour has. I’d like to label this a “tour of the fallen” like the recently covered Slayer/Testament/Carcass tour, but it seems less definite than in that case.

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Chthonic frontman running for congressman in Taiwan

By now, metal musicians and fans participating in politics isn’t entirely unheard of; even in Asia you can find such prominent examples as Joko Widodo (president of Indonesia). Freddy Lee, the frontman of the Taiwanese symphonic black/folk metal band Chthonic, is running for a seat in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, as reported by Blabbermouth. Lee has participated in his country’s politics for some time and is running as a member of the recently formed New Power Party, which advocates for Taiwanese nationalism. In the past, he’s apparently used his position in Chthonic to promulgate these political views. Part of his campaign includes a free concert in Taipei on December 26th, which admittedly may be a bit difficult for our primarily Western audience to participate in.

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No God Only Pain release Roads to Serfdom

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Nocturnal doom/black metal band No God Only Pain are finalizing details on their upcoming EP Roads to Serfdom which demonstrates a transition in styles of this band toward apocalyptic roadhouse dark metal. This new style features all of the Motorhead-inspired choruses, Darkthrone-infused verses and oddball, doomy structures and atmospheres of the earlier work, but with more of a nod to early Danzig in an exploration of classic heavy metal.

An exclusive stream of one track, “Who Forgives God?,” is below:

We were fortunate to catch a few minutes with the band, who dictated the following release:

This recording is a dissonant experiment under the Barkeresque transmutational concept that “anything can be created.” There’s five songs total, hinging on the theme of how (despite its appearances) modern society is still feudal in nature. Riff wise the songs still attempt to flow as a single voice yet are purposely more diverse than on Joy of Suffering.

This recording demonstrates a singular musical concept: simple Burzumy punk tunes to some epic song progressions. The album challenges itself like a madman and aims to polarize opinion like a bad Zogby poll.

Half the recording is purposely super lo-fi with a very minimal number of microphones. Purposely using so few mics (and nothing direct ) seems ridiculous, but previous attempts at for lo-fi but discernible sound sucked for me. We acquired many pieces of gear at flea markets and pawn shops to try to capture the sound we required, and most failed, but we perservered.

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Our goal was to get a dark and grungy sound, like Transylvanian Hunger, but with bass and vocals done way more professionally (Scott Burns Obituary style) which creates irony since our bassist plays groovy and fuzzy like Blue Cheer. A large part of the point of doing the recording this way is to allow more time for the bass and vocals to experiment and color the songs more, while the guitars and drums maintain more basic driving tones. The bass is not on this recording yet.

The title track is an experiment in itself as it questions how much variety in riffs and song structure a song can have and still make sense. It attempts capture in one song the variety of genres of music in metal and juxtaposes them as a metaphor for the cornucopia of ways that society trys to exert control over the individual. There are many diverse experiences, but all roads lead to serfdom.

    Track list (not finalized)

  1. Cannon Fodder
  2. Lick the Claw
  3. Roads to Serfdom
  4. Servitudo Completum
  5. Who Forgives God?
  6. no_god_only_pain_-_logo_-_white

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Misanthropical – Conjuring Thy Infernal Lord

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Coming from that early intersection of death metal and black metal that produced bands such as Havohej, Misanthropical aim for awkward riffs like the sinews of a polymeliac beast, combining them with crudely cut black metal rhythms and surging melodic drones. The result shows a band starting out, but with a good concept that is enough removed into the bizarre, like bands such as Resuscitator or Legion of Doom, to leave us wondering what thought process could create it. The band is strongest when they abandon genre conventions and let the weirdness out, mixing riding riffs that compel energy with connective tissue that bends it into odd contortions, putting the listener on edge. They are weakest when trying too hard to be raw black metal or when filling spaces in songs with cymbal crashes and repetitive drones. Of interest is the unsteady fusion of doom metal moods with the more martial modes, creating a soundscape that sounds like battle by those with vast inner doubt and torment. Conjuring Thy Infernal Lord demonstrates the basics of a powerful voice that with growth and maturation could take this band in interesting and intriguing ear-torturing directions.

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Wolves Among Sheep: History and Ideology of National Socialist Black Metal book published

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Italian publisher Tsunami Edzioni has released Wolves Among Sheep: History and Ideology of National Socialist Black Metal, a book by Davide Maspero and Max Ribaric detailing the rise of this tributary of the black metal movement that officialized many of the right-wing and traditionalist leanings of black metal as a whole.

The publishers offer the following FAQ about the book and how to obtain it:

We’ve been silent for some time, but that’s because we have been busy sending orders and replying to e-mails. The response to the book has been great so far, and we thank everyone who purchased a copy.

We compiled a brief FAQ for all those who need some information regarding the book and how to obtain it. We hope you’ll find it helpful.

IS THE BOOK IN ENGLISH?
Yes, it is. The whole of it.

IS THE SPECIAL EDITION STILL AVAILABLE?
Yes, we still have some copies left.

HOW MUCH DOES THE BOOK COST?
It depends on where you’re located.

Standard Edition:
Europe and Mediterranean Basin – 38 Euro
Americas, Asia, Africa – 43 Euro
Oceania – 50 Euro

Special Edition:
Europe and Mediterranean Basin – 46 Euro
Americas, Asia, Africa – 52 Euro
Oceania – 60 Euro

HOW CAN I ORDER?
By making a Paypal payment to: info[at]tsunamiedizioni.it

HOW CAN I GET IN TOUCH WITH YOU?
Via Facebook messages on this page or via e-mail to: wolves_info[at]tsunamiedizioni.it

I NEED TO BUY MULTIPLE COPIES, CAN YOU GIVE ME A
SHIPPING QUOTE?
Yes. Just mention it in your message and we’ll get back to you.

I RUN A DISTRO AND NEED TO KNOW YOUR WHOLESALE RATES
Just mention it in your message and we’ll get back to you.

WHEN ORDERING, PLEASE STATE CLEARLY YOUR FULL ADDRESS (NO P.O. BOXES – WE SHIP VIA EXPRESS COURIER AND THEY NEED A STREET ADDRESS) AND A TELEPHONE NUMBER.

National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) remains controversial because global civilization has shifted leftward since the late 1940s with the fall of fascist regimes in Italy and later France, National Socialism in Germany, and Nationalist movements in Japan. However, starting in the 1990s when the 1968 generation took power in politics and media, a counter-movement has arisen which is critical of democracy, equality and diversity.

Sometimes this movement is merely anti-liberal, as with Michel Houellebecq in France, or libertarian as with the Tea Party and Neoreaction, but often it takes a more potent form. The original black metal bands from Norway, Sweden and Finland embraced the idea of nationalism, or a society being defined by its indigenous people, and rejected the morality of pity, equality and pacifism. Others took this farther and explicitly endorsed the older belief systems, not just National Socialist but the traditionalism of Julius Evola, the nationalism of pre-war Europe, and the monarchism and naturalism of völkisch conservatism.

During the early 1990s, when this material first emerged, I was unwilling to play such bands on the radio when I learned of their beliefs. Later digging found the nationalism of Bathory, the pro-Hitlerian sentiments of Morbid Angel, and the generally conservative — realism plus a belief in transcendentalism — surging through heavy metal. Then came Lords of Chaos and the interviews of Varg Vikernes, tearing the lid off any obscurity that black metal had regarding its anti-humanist views. For that reason, I report on them as they are part of the black metal movement and heavy metal, and it is better to have such things in the light than darkness.

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Graveland forms live lineup to play shows in 2016, reissues Dawn of Iron Blades

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Second wave black metal band Graveland, long a collaborative project between Rob “Darken” Fudali and session musicians, has formed a lineup to play two live gigs in 2016 at Ragnard Festival in Simandre-sur-Suran, France from July 15-17 and Hot Shower Olympia in North Italy on April 2 (tickets available for pre-sale here).

The musicians in the live lineup will be:

  • Bor – Bass
  • Mścisław – Guitar
  • Rob Darken – Vocals
  • Zbych – Guitar
  • Miro – Drums

graveland_-_dawn_of_iron_blades_-_cover_2015

In addition, Graveland is re-issuing its 2004 album Dawn of Iron Blades with a new recording and cover to be released by Warheart Records in Poland and Hammer of Damnation Records in Brazil for world issue. The band published the following statement about the new reissue:

New drum lines are already recorded by Miro. In December I will finish all of the newly arranged keyboard and chorus parts. These will be recorded by Olya Lantseva in December. January will bring the recording of Polish vocals and new English ones for both versions. Polish version will be released by Warheart Rec, the English one by Hammer of Damnation Rec (Brazil). I hope the album will be ready to be released in February! I must also add that a new cover atrwork is ready and waiting (painted by Gilgamesh Lornezhad!).

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Old Funeral briefly reunites at Bergen BlekkMetal festival

My own experience with Old Funeral went through three quick stages – excitement as I discovered it was home to musicians who would later go on to play in famous black metal bands, disappointment as I learned none of the famous members were in the band at the same time, and finally, cautious appreciation of their interesting but admittedly scatterbrained demos. For whatever reason, the first lineup of the band (featuring Abbath of his own solo project and formerly Immortal) briefly reunited earlier this month to play a quick concert in Bergen. The band played four songs – the Abduction of Limbs demo and a cover of Celtic Frost’s “Procreation of the Wicked”. Most likely, this brief reunion is a historical footnote at best, but I’m sure the locals had a good time. If you want to experience the band’s recordings, seek out either a copy of The Older Ones (a demo compilation) or the more recent Our Condolences (which essentially contains The Older Ones as its second disc).

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Revenge – Behold.Total.Rejection (2015)

revenge
Review by Daniel McCormick

While listening to this album I find myself wondering… What is the value of qualities without purpose? What is the value of all this vague imagery – shackles, skulls, knives, goat headed eagle crests, as if synaptic plasticity somehow became enhanced by yet another butchered attempt at speaking through indeterminate representation? Flip through the booklet and you’re met with page after page of disorganized and undirected symbolism that falls into stereotypes we are then obligated to assign meaning to. This is a common theme in modern art, the idea that a work’s purpose can be wholly derived from imagined substance in its qualities and that actual intent is an unnecessary notion. Today’s thinking sets imagery on a pedestal as the contemporary method of artistic communication and gives primary focus to one’s impulses and feelings. In this philosophy, personal bias will blend with empowered selfish instincts and a form of aggrandizement deludes one with a sense of elevated ideal from which the reward is derived. There is an important distinction which occurs whereby the projection of substance into the indefinite imagery engenders a form of external relation and this fictional attachment emerges therefrom as a personal investment of belief. This ‘believing’ belies all the pissing about feelings and impressions and arises as a fabrication in lieu of actual purpose; art as Dionysian beggary.
The music of Behold.Total.Rejection is in every way as communicative as the textual/ visual content and thusly fails because of a formulaic approach in tone and structure that completely abandons traditional values in song writing, such as melody or harmony or creativity. Because of this, the album comes off as considerably one dimensional and with the memorability of a passing siren. It contains too much unqualified imagery and overt shock effect with too little direction, story telling, or definition. As Dr. Steven Pinker has written, “images are interpreted in the context of deeper understanding,” and that, “the postmodernist equating of images with thought has not only made a hash of several scholarly disciplines but has laid waste to the world of contemporary art.” Behold.Total.Rejection is ironically in step with status quos in this respect as there is little to no textual or audio context for the array of imagery presented. An example of this would be the track “Mass Death Mass”, with the lines, “if we succeed we will be dead and gone but so will they.” Militant iconography and rhetoric, but it’s us versus them intergroup dynamics that say nothing about the actual groups in conflict, nor the conflict, and supports a ‘merely for effect’ argument towards lax creativity. It puts onto the audience the burden of definition so as to deepen the shallow artistry. Another example of this creative void comes from the track ‘Nihilist Militant’, “lone wolf segregation worship existing within the zone at all times”,… the zone? If the artist’s intent was to confuse and communicate little to nothing beyond throwaway lines of imagery then success, but the text communicates in a form of stale sensationalism and clichéd ‘it was dark and stormy’ style generic mannerisms that while it may leave purpose free for personal narrative it also renders potentially strong topicality sterile.
Thus this is a problem of a minimalist memetic device and how the imagination will imbue the ill-defined object with character that is then seen as possessed and not appropriated. The platitudes and redundant nature conceal themselves in this illusory veneer and somehow the repetition of simplistic ideation achieves a propaganda-like effect. As you listen you can begin to see how this album takes on an ambient experience through this subtlety in variation, as the tracks bleed into each other, and the lack of interesting activity leaves the individual elements merging into a cacophony of poor production qualities and you become lost in the directionless effort. Perhaps fifteen years ago, this novel approach would’ve proven of interest, but to linger too long is to stagnate and rightly the rehash of a rehash of a rehash provides insufficient framework to support powerful ideas. If nothing else, I do appreciate the supremacist malevolence expressed by the general themes as antisocial nihilist misanthropy is something we can all relate to, but there is no grander framework of structure by which this is advanced and to which I can pay compliment. Perhaps the repeated audio form represents a philosophy of elitist consistency for which sentimental value can be argued but is this not also the bane? It would seem then the real worth of this album is in the individual experience, not its potential artistic qualities.

 

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Al-Namrood – Diaji Al Joor (2015)

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Al-Namrood is so kvlt that they can’t even turn down their projects’ master levels a few decibels. While simply nudging everything down a bit so it doesn’t clip as much might not be the best way to go about it, the fact that this completely insane brickwalling that’s apparently been dogging the fellows throughout their career goes yet unresolved on Diaji Al Joor does not exactly fill me with hope. As previously mentioned the last time a DMU writer took notice, Al-Namrood’s big gimmick is that they’re from Saudi Arabia and are theoretically risking more to get their content out. Remove their background and the absolute garbage mixing job, and you’re left with an okay but generally underwhelming folk metal album with some black metal influences.

On a scale of Orphaned Land to Melechesh, Al-Namrood leans closer to the latter for keeping a greater amount of metal technique in their formula. For whatever reason, they end up consistently midpaced in all instrumentation and otherwise lean towards a consistent sound. From a musicological perspective, their consistent use of Arabic maqams (a seven tone system of tuning and intonation) makes for a great selling point in the Western world and, amongst other things, leads to some dissonant/microtonal droning sections that I barely hear in metal; I furthermore believe that more ambitious and proficient musicians could do great things with such. On Diaji Al Joor, this potential is squandered and turned into tedious filler that adds little of value. This is best described as more of a vocal-driven album, anyways – the vocalist (who goes by the pseudonym of “Humbaba”) barks and rattles his way through these tracks and seems to have some idea of how to vary up his inflection and pitch to make himself more interesting and prominent. I’m cynical enough to call him a case of wasted potential given the lack of direction that manifests below him.

I’d probably go as far as to say this is, in spite of its clear flaws, ever so slightly better than Melechesh’s recent effort (Enki) was, since it’s a bit less openly streamlined and digs a hint deeper into its respective reservoir of musical ideas. That judgement may, however, be too subjective for your tastes. Even if it isn’t, the fact that Diaji Al Joor fails to rise beyond a basic level of competence makes it an irrelevant comparison.

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Orcrypt – Mercenaries of Mordor (2015)

mercenaries of mordor
Here’s another recording released by Iron Pegasus Records. Like yesterday’s Eurynomos, it occupies that strange liminal space between traditional heavy metal and black metal, although the existence of two such albums in quick succession sometimes leads me to believe that it’s larger than previously suspected. However, if Eye of the Pantheon was at home in 1984 or so, Mercenaries of Mordor is more reminiscent of the early 1990s, although its ancestry is more obvious than the actual recordings of that era. It also labels itself “Pure Goblin Black Metal” for what are presumably marketing purposes, but people looking for a new Summoning in Orcrypt are going to find something more conventional by far.

On Mercenaries of Mordor, Orcrypt desperately claws for atmosphere and ambiance and creates songs of long drones stapled together by sampled audio (shamelessly ripped from the Ralph Bakshi adaptation of Lord of the Rings) and a great deal of guitar leads. It’s often reminiscent of of the blastier bands in the genre, but since the drumming and songwriting is generally of a middling pace, the rhythmic texture of the album ends up spacious in a way that deemphasizes the percussion. Besides the Bakshi, though, everything here has frequently been done. Orcrypt’s strength here is that they manage to pull a mixture of techniques and aesthetic adornishments from the air in a relatively organic way. Part of this is a pseudo-lofi production that is crystal clear (even the bassist is audible and prominent) despite its attempts to sound like garbage. It does, however, give them a strong foundation on which to build songs and make something valuable, but their dedication to that is spotty at best, mostly due to the emphasis on drone with limited elaboration outside the sound effects.

Ultimately, this is a proficient but not particularly interesting record, especially since it exists in a context of bands that have done what it does more effectively. I feel like a lot of the problems here are explained by the marketing material. The record label’s site claims that the band “…plays in the tradition of the early 90s underground, before Black Metal became popular,” and generally cites the earlier, more prototypical works of bands like Burzum and Emperor as influences as opposed to their more refined peaks. From a stance of rawness, that’s all fine and well, but it generally does more for you to imitate your idols’ heights rather than their rises. However, Orcrypt would have to go beyond merely imitating either of these to become particularly valuable as more than a quick shot of nostalgia.

 

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