Orcrypt – Dice and Damnation (Self-released demo, 2019)

In wait of their sophomore full-length album, premiere Pure Goblin Black Metal (PGBM) band Orcrypt released this demo recording some time ago. Dice and Damnation retains the sound and vibe displayed on the previous effort Mercenaries of Mordor; a fearless blend of cavernous black- and heavy metal that somehow dodges the obvious trappings of such a composite. But rather than settling into a comfortable template, the band choose to approach the material from a slightly different angle.

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Godkiller – The Warlord (Self-released, 1995)

When doing research for the recently published review of Godkiller’s The Rebirth of the Middle Ages I stumbled upon this earlier demo-proposal by the band. Released the year before the EP, The Warlord consists of a short introductory instrumental piece + two lengthier compositions spanning over ten minutes each. Of particular interest in this context is the second track, entitled “Path to the Unholy Frozen Empire”. Those who’ve previously acquainted themselves with The Rebirth of the Middle Ages will recognize the song by music, lyrics and title as the predecessor to the EP’s centerpiece number, although rawer in presentation. This observation is – by all means – anything but spectacular. More interesting is the fact that the demo features the song in elongated form.

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Godkiller – The Rebirth of the Middle Ages (Wounded Love, 1996)

Before morphing into some kind of industrial hybrid act, Monaco’s Godkiller released this charming yet flawed bagatelle of medievalist melodic black metal. Stylistically, it could be described as a loosely knit mélange of early Satyricon, Emperor and Summoning if channeled through the warm, emotive dialect of Mediterranean culture. That much of the material is voiced in a quirky, mannerist voice tells us that this can only be the work of a solitary artist.

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Sammath Streams Across the Rhine is only death

Furious melodic war metal band Sammath published its stream of its sixth album, Across the Rhine is only death, late last night. This new album shows the band integrating the streams of its influences from death metal, black metal, hardcore punk, ritual music, and war metal into a single voice.

This will delight those who think that metal lost its guts and balls, but also who are tired of melodyless and repetitively-structured three-chord “NWN/FMP” styled bands which hold zero musical interest for minds above the yeast level. You can acquire your copy via preorder. Blast it loud and make your neighbors, friends, family, and coworkers weep in terror!

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Flames of Hell – Fire and Steel (Draconian, 1987)

As much as we want to think otherwise, our reception, enjoyment and evaluation of music is not strictly dependent on the pure act of listening. A truism perhaps, but still something that is worth reflecting on from time to time. Especially for collectors of cult metal vinyl – the modern-day personification of the emperor’s new clothes syndrome (or should we say old clothes?). If you invest a disproportionate amount of time, effort and money in reading about and eventually acquiring a record – as collectors of obscure metal tend to do – your judgement is likely to get clouded to the point where it’s hard to assess the quality of the work in question. And this includes both positive and negative judgements. Case in point: the hype surrounding the Icelandic proto-black metal band Flames of Hell and their sole full-length album Fire and Steel (1987).

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Darken – Darken (Defiled, 1998)

Although it might disappoint some readers, it’s probably advisable to begin this review by stating that this is not a lost recording by a well-known Polish musician. However, the music does fall somewhere within the black metal sphere. Darken is a three-track EP released by guitar-virtuoso Toby Knapp, presumably conceived as an attempt at writing and performing music in the language of mid-to-late-1990s melodic black metal. Joining the multi-instrumentalist on vocals and as lyrical contributor is a certain Necrotriton, while drums are obviously computer-generated.

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