Before lapsing into embryonic death ’n’ roll on their second LP False (1992), Gorefest were among the earliest Dutch proponents of solid bread-and-butter death metal with a sense of melodic contour joining the many rhythm riffs into coherent songs which reach a point of focus in their cycles, forcing re-interpretation of its parts. The early style more or less complete on their demo recordings was brought to a fuller and more refined form on the 1991 debut album Mindloss.
Tarnkappe‘s Winterwaker, one of The Best Underground Metal Albums of 2016, was released today on CD and LP from Hammerheart Records. Winterwaker was digitally released late last year and the physical release delayed due to pressing plant backlog.
Dutch cassette-only label and distro Zwaertgevegt is printing Sammath shirts with designs from Strijd and Godless Arrogance. I believe this is the first time an official Strijd shirt has ever been printed. There will be a maximum of fifty shirts of each design so fans of one of the best modern black metal bands should contact Zwaertgevegt to order quickly if they desire one.
Tarnkappe‘s Winterwaker (“Guardian of Winter” in English) is another Dutch black metal album aiming to extend the victories of the old forward into a modern world deluged with genericized and masqueraded jingle rock. Most modern black metal recordings consist of typical verse chorus verse hardcore punk songs with occasional tremolo-picked, hopefully minor key riffs and raspy vocals to differentiated it from the punks with their spiky hair and Sharpie-drawn straight edge Xs in the same way that modern opposing political parties mostly present two sides of the same leftist coin merely aiming the public towards financially catering to differing oligarchic leagues. Tarnkappe, a duo composed of members of Kaeck and Kjeld, aim to bury the bodies of the mainstream-media promoted black ‘n’ roll and “war metal” themed crossover thrash groups in an unmarked, shallow mass grave in the forest-tundra.
Dutch insurrectionary black metal band Tarnkappe has released both of its albums on CD as a bundle for those who appreciate black metal that stays true to the late-90s form of the band, which is equal parts later Darkthrone and Zyklon-B.
Asphyx announced their upcoming album, Incoming Death, will be released September 30th on Century Media Records. Vocalist Martin Van Drunen said the record would be the “best Asphyx album ever”:
Four and a half years after the release of “Deathhammer” we finally managed to finish its long awaited successor. It will be out on September the 30th, as always on our beloved label Century Media. Expect 11 unmerciful battering tracks in the typical ASPHYX death/doom style, but also the most varied ASPHYX material up to date without losing our rawness, brutality and heaviness. The album will be entitled “Incoming Death”. And like “Deathhammer”, it’s a phrase that doesn’t really exist, but refers to what entrenched soldiers cry out when under severe artillery fire. Thus “Incoming Death” implies another relentless bombardment of monstrous ASPHYX death/doom metal!
Recorded on different locations throughout 2016 and once more mixed and mastered by the mighty Dan “The Man” Swanö. Serious ear bleedings guaranteed! It’s also our first record also featuring “Husky” on drums, who is now with us for already two and a half years molesting the pig skins with the absolute perfect ASPHYX attitude, passion, pride and mayhem. We are very proud of this best ASPHYX album ever! And knowing our dedicated fans worldwide, they will be proud of us as well! Soon we will hit the stages on every continent to do what we do best; Intense, loud, sweaty, filthy and ruthless live performances!
Article by Corey M. A more skeptical take appeared last December.
Visions of Exalted Lucifer comprises the type of surefooted, almost passive confidence that a band like Cirith Gorgor can be expected to gain with as much experience as they’ve had in black metal. Experience (not to be confused with longevity, as many bands have been around for a long time yet never learned from their mistakes or successes) alone has no intrinsic merit but does provide for musicians a way of mapping their excursions into the imagination, so as not to become lost or distracted by pointless tangents on their flights of fancy. Rarely does a band hone their skills through experience without losing that primal virility that drove them to reckless discovery. Usually, one strength overcomes the other as time wears on. Cirith Gorgor like most any black metal band active from the early ’90s into the mid-’00s, began producing clean, smooth, uninspired-and-uninspiring music that never ventures far from familiar topical territory.
Cirith Gorgor show no signs of exhaustion from their long service in the war against all that is modern and mundane, even though their current method of composition exhibits a firm grasp of a decidedly contemporary style of black metal instrumentation. Featuring intricate guitar melodies that weave about one another like caducean serpents, this constant use of counterpoint achieves a delicate balance between consonant resolution and dissonant suspension. This relentless feeling of teetering between sappy harmonic indulgence and chaotic keyless atonality without the music ever succumbing to one extreme shows the guitarists’ songwriting prowess. A band riding this knife edge of tension with efficient agility inspires a nervous awe.
Emphasizing Cirith Gorgor’s fearless wont to take black metal techniques to their logical extremes, some interesting “progressive” bits appear in the album. First, during the main riff in the second track, “Visions of Exalted Lucifer”, there is a somewhat hesitant stutter in the middle of the crucial chord change, shifting the beat count into 9s rather than 8s. In one of the verses that build up to a more unifying crescendo in “Rite of Purification – Vanished from this World”, this reoccurs; The guitar melody rises and falls in an arrogant refusal to be subjugated by the simple 3/4 time signature. While many might think that such technical meddling would negatively impact the direct delivery that makes black metal great, this opinion is understandably misguided thanks to the unprincipled pseudo-prog tendencies that modern metal acts are likely to shoehorn into their otherwise bland songs. For Visions of Exalted Lucifer, these odd phrases and atypical harmonic mutations are actually necessary to lead each song through its natural ebb and flow. They sure each riff’s opening, closing, and transitionary moments are satisfyingly wrapped up without exception. The drummer deserves credit for deftly assisting the chemical reaction-like relationship of guitar melodies, playing aggressive bursts only as needed at any given time, providing traction for the motivating riffs and assuring that a song never spins its wheels.
Listening to this album can be psychologically draining. Due to the constant whirling spiral of guitar harmonies, it is impossible to guess whether some riffs will resolve on a consonant closing chord or introduce more tension by shifting into a new key with its own harmonic space. Almost always, a lead melody is playing over the rhythm chords and spiking out toward strange and uncomfortable modulations. Whether the modulation occurs or is only hinted at is also difficult and sometimes impossible to anticipate. The modulations are not random, they are enigmatic. The stressful ambiguity of any proceeding direction can leave the listener with the vision of Dune‘s Paul Muad-Dib after ingesting a high dose of spice for the first time being assaulted by the infinity of possibilities as every potential future unfolds indistinctly at once. The listener will probably either be annoyed, rejecting the perceived unreasonableness, or submit and allow themselves to be dragged along for the wild ride, coming away with glimpses into the strange depths of alienated human minds. This is not an album for passive listening; it is appreciably polarizing and meticulously crafted.
Visions of Exalted Lucifer may be listened to on Hammerheart’s Bandcamp.
Dutch modern death metal act Hail of Bullets has parted ways with vocalist Martin van Drunen (Pestilence, Asphyx). The band issued the following statement:
We are sorry to announce that Martin van Drunen is no longer part of Hail Of Bullets. On a personal level it’s no longer possible for us to continue the cooperation with Martin.
Unfortunately this means we have to cancel all upcoming shows until further notice.
This does not mean the end of Hail Of Bullets. The main reason for starting this band 8 years ago was our mutual love for real Death Metal and to have fun playing our favourite kind of music and we did not want to lose this ‘fun part’. We acknowledge the fact that Martin’s a good singer with a distinctive voice but he’s not the only great singer on this planet. For the record, there’s no hate or anger here, but this simply wasn’t working out anymore.
We wish him all the best in his future career. To be continued…
Stephan, Paul, Ed, Theo