The Devil’s Cradle Out September 15th

The English translation of Tero Ikäheimonen’s comprehensive Finnish black metal book, Pirunkehto – Suomalaisen black metallin tarina, is coming out September 15th on Svart Records with the English title The Devil’s Cradle. The book features interviews and career retrospectives of Beherit, Impaled Nazarene, and a bunch of other bands who do not count and have no reason to be in the same book as they suck and play crossover thrash with high-gain guitar pedals and RAC/oi themed pop-punk . These modern black ‘n’ roll bands aren’t even from the same era; they are just poseurs.

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Desecresy – The Mortal Horizon (2017)

The Mortal Horizon is Desecresy’s first album as a solo project of Tommi Gronqvist’s after vocalist Jarno Nurmi left to focus on Serpent Ascending. Picking up right where Stoic Death left off, The Mortal Horizon is band’s most percussive and violent yet. The album takes after the death metal debut Arches of Entropy but is set into the multi-layered, ritualistic minimalist narratives of Desecresy’s later career.

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White Death Releases “Immortal Hunter Of The Moon” Off Upcoming Eponymous Debut

In anticipation of their eponymous debut, Southern Karelia’s White Death released a track from the album, “Immortal Hunter of the Moon.” This mid-length track instills expectation by improving upon the previous also eponymous two-song EP released in 2014. Where that recording consisted of raw, foot-stomping black metal that was pleasant enough for a listen once in a blue moon, the new track shows an increase in dynamics that lifts the material to a new level of intensity while also –- perhaps more importantly -– giving it a sense of direction.

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Ananku Out on CD

Serpent Ascending‘s Ananku came out on CD recently courtesy of I, Voidhanger Records. The solo project of Jarno Nurmi of Desecresy, Serpent Ascending compose heavy and speed metal riffs into occult narratives of blackened death metal. Ananku is limited to 300 copies and may be purchased from Jarno Nurmi himself at the Serpent Ascending bandcamp page.

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Sacrificium Carmen – Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa (2015)

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Article by Corey M

Sacrificium Carmen have released some very generic black metal on this album, made up of moderate-to-fast-paced songs with lots of chunky speed metal riffs and admittedly impressive strained-sounding vocals. Overall, my impression of Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa is negative for two main reasons: Lack of innovation (meaning that the band makes no effort to develop and express their own unique perspective using the black metal template) and a disregard for the necessities that make traditional black metal an engaging listen (hint: it’s more than just grindy distortion and screamed lyrics).

Regarding the album’s merits: Sacrificium Carmen do well by avoiding any “post-black metal” trappings (some examples being forced “prog” tendencies, ominous chanting, and corny sound effects), and they steer clear of any “ambient” influences, which means the music is fairly lean and efficient. Each song begins and ends purposefully, rather than diverging into some ambiguous territory surrounded by extramusical showboating, as many contemporary black metal bands are wont. For this, Sacrificium Carmen deserve credit; the musicians rely on themselves and their instruments only, eschewing digitally-generated sound textures, operatic vocals, “found sounds” and so forth, to achieve their vision. Each song is generally through-composed, and all melodies are readily found in the Official Dogmatic Compendium of Black Metal Minor Chord Sequences™. All of the instruments are played proficiently (and the vocals are exceptionally aggressive), but the level of musical complexity is low throughout the album, so this details neither adds to nor detracts from the album’s quality.

This “less-is-more” approach is usually a good one for bands to take when playing black metal, because the best black metal is minimalist in that it does not have any bits of ornamentation to distract from the purpose of the music, which is to evoke in the imagination visions of spiritual horror in a world dominated by chaotic violence. This is where Sacrificium Carmen’s music falls short – invoking imagination. There is just no darkness or danger to the melodies, only all-too-human frustration, which sounds emotively impotent and discouraging to listen to. Most of the riffs in Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa would not be out of place on a contemporary punk album; just replace Sacrificium Carmen’s vocalist with some faux-gruff cigarette-smoke-choked burn out and have him sing with self-conscious irony about how stupid religious fundamentalists are, or how much he hates his landlord, and you’d have a product that would sell to clueless teenagers in the suburban Midwestern United States.

Melodies in Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa never reach a high enough level of tension to evoke any visions; they are too direct and sound self-centered. By this, I mean that any song’s series of riffs are actually static, whirlpool-like revolutions around the song’s own rhythmic and melodic center. The riffs anticipate a return to whatever was the last-heard rhythmic hook, rather than communicate through melodic contrast with the riffs that precede and follow. Early (and successful) black metal bands achieved tension by chaining together riffs in such a way that each segment of melody would act to destruct the preceding segment and, simultaneously, enhance the following segment, not granting the listener a chance to dwell on any one particular pleasantly hooky riff, but impelling them to take the current melody at face value and embrace the ephemerality of that melody. Because of this constant dialogue taking place throughout a song, coherence could be maintained, even while the song’s tempo or scale shifts and dynamics may even fluctuate wildly. Meanwhile, every song on Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa appears focused on a conclusion at all times, diminishing the immediate experience. Possibly as a result of this weakness, the dynamic range of any given song is quite narrow. This does not automatically make any songs bad, but given everything else that is going on (or not) in this album, it makes for a boring listen, unless you’ve always wanted to hear a punk band with a black metal vocalist.

In short, Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa is not a record that classic black metal fans will want to spend much time with. When judged as rock music in general, the album does not commit any irredeemable sins, and may be a fun listen while pounding beers or taking a drive with your girlfriend who hates Darkthrone. But when judged as black metal and measured against those albums in the black metal canon, you may find that the album has more shortcomings than can be excused.

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Beherit – At the Devil’s Studio 1990

I am really glad this recording is not the final form these songs took, but I am equally glad to be able to hear them in this form. Most people will compare this to The Oath of Black Blood, but it reminds me more of the later EPs, although it’s in the style of The Oath of Black Blood.

On those later EPs Beherit experimented with the sonic form of its material, not changing the song structures as much as the pacing and the use of guitar noise, drone and other techniques. What emerged on the Osmose release of The Oath of Black Blood (a compilation of demos assembled by the label into an album) was more monolithic and primitive, in the raw style of Blasphemy which was inherited almost certainly from a cross between early Bathory and early Napalm Death.

But some time later what came forth on Drawing Down the Moon removed the chaos in favor of a clear, simple, direct and ominously infectious statement of power; it matured, for lack of a better word, and cut out the ambiguity to make a purposeful and morbid statement of dark power.

At the Devil’s Studio attempts to take the early monolithic style and tweak it sonically to gain effect, and it does so by making a dark immersive world of hanging sheets of resonant sound, but it loses the sinister abstraction and aloofness of the second album.

However, it gives these songs a new dimension, and makes it like hearing them for the first or second time, which alone will induce me to buy this thing and keep it close at hand.

-Brett Stevens-

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