Archive for Black Metal

Istapp – Frostbiten

Posted in Black Metal with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2015 by Badass and Grim

Istapp-Frostbitten

Are you feeling a little toasty after 3 months of Ra’s searing attention (or just uncomfortably sweaty following a similar period of muggy cloud-cover if you’re in the UK)? Worried about your supply of tundra-based shredding due to the increasingly acrimonious fallout from Abbath’s departure from Immortal? Then worry no longer, Istapp’s “Frostbiten” should more than tide you over.

Istapp have been active since 2005, based in Sweden, with a 5 year gap since the release of 2010’s “Blekinge”. They are also endowed with the frankly brilliant “Encyclopaedia Metallum” thematic heading of “Winter, anti-light, anti-sun, absolute zero”; so get back in your box hateful sky orb! Having been a fan of “Blekinge” I was keen to hear what lay in store with this second full length offering from the frost lords.

Although lyrically it is easy to reach for the Immortal comparison, Istapp are much closer to the duel guitar harmony wielding style and heavily rhythmic vocals of Taake, although notably more jaunty due to the folk influence. Title track “Frostbiten” combines all those aspects that most appeal about Istapp, swaggering out of the gate before dropping into the blast beat driven verse which compounds it’s intensity before soaring into the ancestral chant of the chorus, juxtaposed against the continuing rage of vocalist Isar.

Equally brutal is “Må det aldrig töa” proceeding moodily to the 50sec mark before a grim torrent pours forth, I hope you brought your thermals, because this shit is going sub-zero. What’s that in the distance? a helpful swede shouting from the opposite mountain, too late, the blizzard has resumed and pulled him down into a gaping chasm of whirling sterility below. Find your own way home.

Many of the tracks tend to swing between bass-blasting hail and upbeat folk riffing before inevitably both give way to more of those heroic tundra power-stance inducing guitar melodies at which Istapp so excel. It’s like eating spoonfuls of frosting [pun intended], you know there are more complex and balanced diets out there, but its so god damn tasty.

In this vein “Vinterland”, “Primim Frigidum” and “Vit Makt” should have you strolling manfully around on a hallucinatory tundra quest, while confused passers-by look on at the guy pulling exaggerated grimaces on his way down the Morrison’s freezer aisle, before being escorted out for smiting the discount stand with some frozen cod.

While there isn’t much variation across Frostbiten, Istapp do not overplay their hand, and by keeping the total record length at a well paced 36 minutes deliver a collection of hard hitting and well executed ice-storms. I feel cooler already, roll on the Fimblevinter.

Stay Frosty

Deej

7/10

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Kampfar: Djevelmakt

Posted in Black Metal with tags , , , , , , on February 2, 2014 by Badass and Grim

Kampfar-Djevelmakt

With the temperature outside dropping to bollock hide and seek levels, it seems appropriate that a new black metal review should grace the B&G interspace. As this is my first encounter with Kampfar a brief biog is as much for my benefit as for yours. Formed in 1994, and with their first full length release in 1999, the band then took a lengthy hiatus before reforming in 2006, since when they have release four subsequent albums. If you hadn’t guessed by now these guys are from Norway, and there is a good dose of the viking metal strain in their sound. The album art and design elements are taken from a 1981 oil painting by polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński.

To place Djevelmakt within the current musical constellation, I’d go somewhere between God Seed’s “I Begin” and “Ylem” by Dark Fortress, which is nothing but a compliment; here is another black metal act whose sound is full and interesting, and not hampered by a self imposed preconception of what the genre “should” sound like. Most of the songs incorporate keyboards, synths, or strings, but without them becoming the focus, rather adding texture to the raging blade cyclone of the guitar riffs.

“Swarm Norwegicus”, the album’s single, is a moody, inevitable stomp, funereal in tone, which leads into an anthemic chorus, building with the use of a synth which doesn’t overstep the mark. The stand out track on the album is “Fortapelse” with its extended keyboard introduction, leading into a series of melodically interesting and memorable rhythm progressions on the guitars. Another great track is “De Dødes Fane”, with its haunting spoken word refrain and Windir-esque central section, I have absolutely no idea what this dude is talking about but he sounds as bitter as a bucket of lemon rinds.

A great black metal album with a good balance between lacerating grimness and catchy-ass guitar riffs. Recommended for fans of Windir, Vreid, God Seed, Dark Fortress. Now, please excuse me while I go sit still for 8 hours until Behemoth’s ‘The Satanist” is released.

Deej

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Ninkharsag – The Essential Salts of Human Dust

Posted in Black Metal with tags , , on September 1, 2013 by Badass and Grim

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This was a brutal 6 minutes 47 seconds that I wasn’t expecting to be added to my day. I’ll level with you, I’m having a shitty week, and this has been a good pick me up. Ninkharsag are a band I’ve never heard of until ten minutes ago, and a band you’ll never hear me try and pronounce. “The Essential Salts of Human Dust” is however, a great name for an EP, and is lifted from the short story “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” which peaked my interest.

Track 1 is the title track, and let me tell you, this is some frosty shit. This is English Black Metal, but forget the oaken woodland tones of Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth, this is like having shards of ice fired into your face by a very angry tundra dwelling Jotun, charging into your Fen laden picnic screaming “NO, NO hippies!!!, It’s THIS, THIS Black Metal, the kind that freezes your veins while beating you over the head until you curl into a shivering mass of emotionally scarred man-fetus!!!” (I probably just put a metaphor inside my metaphor, the review just turned into Inception for poor analogies.) This is second wave inspired grimness with enough fresh musical corpses ground in to keep things spicy.

The Essential Salts of Human Dust has catchy ass melodies which is no way detract from the fact that you’re being blast beated into the floor. Around the 2:20 mark there is some pretty handy bass work which is pretty novel for the genre which normally dispenses with the instrument all together or mixes it into oblivion.

Second Track “Liber V vel Reguli” continues in a similar vein, and is equally pleasing to my frankly “I’ve had enough of this fucking week, can it please end now so I can forge into the sunset of solving the mountain of shit on my plate” eardrums. Makes a change from having The Wild Hunt on album repeat anyway. Excellent work from these guys, and highly recommended to fans of Taake/Windir, its got that melodic dominance and interesting guitar harmonies. Can’t wait to here a full length release. 

Deej

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www.facebook.com/ninkharsagblackmetal
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B and G Podcast – Viking Special

Posted in Badass and Grimness Podcast, Black Metal, Blackened Death Metal, Cake, Death Metal, Folk Metal, Heavy Metal, Pagan Metal, Prog, Viking Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2013 by Murderdeth

B and G Podcast – Viking Special

From the Havamal –
Ale
Has too often
Been praised by poets.
The longer you drink
The less sense
Your mind makes of things.

That pretty much sums up the following.

It’s been a long, long time coming but here it is in its full, glorious 90 minutes….

“The Badass and Grimness Podcast, Viking Special.”

Featuring: Bathory, Amon Amarth, History Channel’s “Vikings”, Tyr, Wardruna and three progressively drunken idiots!

Not Featuring: Unleashed, Windir, Burzum, Arkenham and many others.

Thanks to JMG for joining us on this one. You can find him on twitter @jmgcreative.

Please remember to subscribe on iTunes and follow on Twitter. Other social networks are available, links can be found below!

Cheers

Murderdeth

Photo on 29-06-2013 at 22.07 #3

iTunes – Badass & Grimness Podcast
Twitter – @BadassnGrimness
Facebook – Badass & Grimness Reviews
Email – BandGReviews@icloud.com

Metal Eurovision 2013 – Part One

Posted in Black Metal, Death Metal, Sludge, Thrash with tags , , , on June 9, 2013 by Badass and Grim

It’s been that time of year again, when countless screaming wannabes and several metric tonnes of glitter and sequin have been poured into a studio and left to simmer for two weeks in a bid to show everyone how lovely Europe can be when we’re singing and not kicking the shit out of each other or hunting cats for food. However, despite the best efforts of strange falsetto-singing Romanians and Thor in a dinner suit, it turns out that several people around the globe quite like kicking the shit out of each other and hunting for, if not cats, then at least the nearest bar. This is the B&G metal version of Eurovision, with enough grind, death, thrash, stoner, doom and black metal to drown out the sound of next door and their skinny-gin-and-tonic caterwauling. There’s a band for each country that entered this year’s spandex-fest, some of which you may have heard of. Some are resurrected, some no longer around, but in the fashion of the original show, hopefully most will be new to you.

Albania

Gverr – Sprained Instinct (prog-death)

First up are Albanian band Gverr, purveyors of prog-death and tasty basslines. Formerly known as Trout (?!), they blend an intriguing mix of old-school death and thrashiness with compelling guitar solos. Taken from their 2010 album, nothing has been heard from the band since 2011. Shame really!

Armenia

Bokrag – Mental Sickness (death/melodic death)

Armenian metallers Bokrag bring at first a slightly more brutal flavour of death metal, with ample technicality and catchy riffs. Rasping vocals courtesy of Alex Amiryan lend a more sinister edge to it than conventional death growling, but the melodic section is quite surprising after the initial fast pace of the first few minutes.

Austria

Ellende – Von Vergänglichkeit und Trost (black metal)

Translated as ‘Of Transience And Comforting’, this track clocks in at almost nine minutes long, and while mostly instrumental paints a satisfyingly bleak landscape in native German and haunting cries. Taken from Rückzug in die Innerlichkeit, the four-track album is available on Bandcamp.

A close second was ‘Todesschrei’ (Death-Cry) by Dunstzorn. Taken from their 2011 Mein Inner Kampf, it has an appealing lo-fi dustbin-lid feel to the drums, and keeping things simple riff wise ensures that they lodge in your head all day long. The militaristic vocal style is a nice touch, too.

Azerbaijan

Fatal Nation – Lord Of Another World (crossover thrash)

Though spoken in broken Englishes, it’s certainly better than my Azerbaijani and is ten times more relatable than most Rihanna songs. A commendable effort mixing thrash with Eastern music influences makes for something quite unique.

Belarus

Infestum – Void Of Nebulae (black metal)

Think Space Black Metal didn’t exist? Think again! These Belarusian black metallers use the gaping galactic maw as inspiration for fast-paced riffery, with synth and industrial tones to boot it into more suitably futuristic realms. Taken from the 2012 album of the same name.

Belgium

Saille – Fhtagn (symphonic black metal)

This Flanders band have based their most recent album, Ritu, around the writings of H.P. Lovecraft with suitably epic songwriting to boot. Indeed, the name of the track is part of a phrase in the Cthulhu mythos, roughly translating as ‘Dreams’. The haunting guitar tones are backed by well-executed and menacing vocals, and orchestral parts are tastefully restricted to eerie choirs rather than listening to Moonspell drive off a cliff with a full orchestra in tow.

Bulgaria

Enthrallment – Cane The Messiah With The Crook (death metal/grindcore)

Cookie Monster vocals and rapid-fire blast beats abound in this track taken from their 2008 album Immerse Into Bloody Bliss. Fronted by Ross Kemp’s Bulgarian twin, Enthrallment have been happily chugging away with Suffocation-style death metal since 1998.

Croatia

Nekrist – Slava Satan (blackened death metal)

Unfortunately no longer with us, this track was taken from their final 2010 album Dux Deus, which is also their only full length album. It’s a shame, as their satisfyingly blasty approach to black metal (complete with key changes) would be a fine addition to playlists everywhere.

Cyprus

Sabbah Navahthani – Pions And Prutend To Omit (sludge/doom)

This track, taken from their self-titled album of 2007, is a veritable bowel-rumbling doom effort from Nicosia. Catchy riffs and rolling basslines are great to bang your head along to, and feature members from Great Coven and Eight Hands For Kali. The drummer, Tas, also played bass for Electric Wizard from 2008-2012.

Denmark

Essence – Lost In Violence (thrash)

These Danish brutes have been dishing out Big Four-worthy thrash metal since 2005, and their new album, Last Night Of Solace, came out in March. This track, taken from the previous album of the same name, is pretty lengthy at nearly eight minutes, winding seamlessly through balls-out thrash and slower but beautifully intricate bass parts.

Estonia

Talbot – Cayenne (stoner/doom)

Wonderfully crushing, Talbot also have a new album this year that came out in April. From their previous album Eos comes this little beauty, full of lead-laden tones and lashings of cymbal bashing.

Finland

Garden of Worm – Hollow (doom)

And for Finland…Lordi! Only joking. Instead come Garden Of Worm, named after a King Crimson song. This track from their 2010 self-titled album initially sounds pretty much like old-school heavy metal slowed down with a couple of tonnes of lead thrown in for good measure. Clean vocals have a fairly monotonous and dirge-like tone to them (which sounds better than it reads), which can make an interesting change to other similar-sounding bands.

France

Benighted – Slut (death metal with grind influences)

A genre not often seen, but you can really see it work at around thirty seconds in as precise blast beats marry perfectly with death metal manic shredding and growling vocals. Taken from the 2008 album Icon, this track shows influences of Dying Fetus and Aborted but still manages to sound somewhat original.

Georgia

Bohema – Eternal Slaves (brutal death metal)

Another death metal band, this time a more brutal mix incorporating Sumerian mythology and mysticism, and some fairly intricate bass lines. Their new album came out around Christmas, but this track off their first album of the same name slows slightly more ferocity and inventiveness, and some bloody nippy double-pedal to boot.

Germany

Obelyskkh – Horned God (stoner/psych/doom)

Delivering a wonderfully rich and crushing tone reminiscent of Monolithian, this song is one of many delights found on their 2012 album Mount Nysa. Describing their band interests as ‘weed, acid, space, Captain Future’ etc. is certainly a good start for such a genre, but the all important wall of sound has certainly been perfected here.

Greece

Convicted – Merciless (thrash)

With a distinctly Rob Dukes Exodus-like tone to the vocals, ‘Convicted’ is perfect headbang induction material. Chugging riffs, war-cry lyrics and solid drumming make this and the rest of the self-titled album worth a good listen.

Hungary

Grizzly – Dagon (stoner/sludge)

Free album downloads are always good, particularly when the music you’re getting is as well-written as this. These Budapest-based stoners mix crunching riffs with Orange Goblin-esque stoner, with the addition of extra sludginess. Taken from their 2012 album Fear My Wrath, available from Bandcamp.

Iceland

Svartidauði – Flesh Cathedral (black)

Meaning ‘Black Death’ in Icelandic, Svartidauði use urban decay and more modern themes to bring about sonic destruction. Looming and oppressive, the sound they have created in this behemoth 11-minute track, and throughout the album of the same name, is a must-hear for lovers of ingenuity and the art of crushing terror.

Hagl – In The Heart

Posted in Black Metal, Pagan Metal with tags , , , , , , on May 2, 2013 by Badass and Grim

In The Heart

I was supremely interested to hear an example of Russian Black Metal since although familiar with bands from the surrounding nations this was one which was yet to grace my ears. So what can I tell you about Hagl? They’re style of BM is melodic, but none the less brutal for it, and without getting too deep too early, compares favourably with bands such as Istapp (Sweden). I assume the name derives from the Old Norse “H” rune Haglaz which stood for Hail, and so they stand firm in the grand tradition of BM bands named after inclement weather.

On that meteorological note, following the intro which is comprised of sinister Russian on a synth base (tasty), the first song “Heavy Gale” displays a great variety of rhythm and pace which keeps the sound fresh and interesting. Opening with a washed out treble only tremolo that’d fit right into a Helrunar album, the track begins with a straight blast, it’s like a fucking full speed death-train, with vocals furiously panning between speakers. Then things get really interesting, as after a brief bass break there is a progression into a slower section which moves through interesting chord progressions and discordant harmonies before dropping back into the maelstrom for a race to the finish.

“Mors Triumphalis” lives up to its name, where BM can often be aimed at expressing despair or a sense of loss, the refrain here is savagely triumphalist. “Mors Triumphalis is the will’s triumph, Impulse of heroes who disdained demise. With clear mind, not in delirium’s dusk – Towards their death, with wide-open eyes!” The guitar harmonies here are rising and brook no compromise, you’re can fight and die for glory or you can go home.

Next is a nice simple concept we can all get behind “Thunderstorm”. Again, Hagl keep things interesting by working through a variety of musical ideas, with full out brutality tempered by acoustic interlude and storm/thunder samples. The high point is when at 2:52 they put their collective band boot to the floor once again and unleash a melodic frost storm of freezing hate. This is carried over into “Howl of the Wolf”, as is the band’s use of samples which match up with the name of the song with the titular howls rising over the guitars. I kind of wish there was a track on here called “Ice-Cream Truck and Fucking Foxes” just to see where they went with it.

Honestly, I didn’t really plan to get into a track by track guide here but that’s where it went for a bit, so a few words about the rest of the tracks. “Europe” is a more straightforward affair that while not really a stand out track will still get your head moving. “Above Death” features one of the album’s only guitar solo’s, which pairs nicely with a simultaneous vocal line. “The North” is a lyrical theme which Immortal fans won’t find unfamiliar. My only criticism here is that there’s some weird stuff going on with the cymbals during a riff which recurs through the track, I don’t know if this was intentional but its fairly distracting as shit keeps switching in the extremes of the panning. The final track “Wake Up!” opens with good acoustic guitar work, again very much like Helrunar, before breaking into the kind of epicness you would definitely save for last, there’re acoustic sections, the second melodic guitar solo on the album, twin harmonies, organ synth, and all the other audial fireworks you’d want to close with. (I say close, there is an outro, with the final melodic solo, which is somewhat spoilt by a lot of tremble end fuzz which again sounds like poor mixing).

The strength of this album is its variety, achieving a balance between blast beats, more rhythmically led sections, acoustic interludes, touches of synth, sparing soloing, and a strong vocal. This is the bands third full length release and comes a decade after their initial demo, and all those years of song writing and graft have paid off. I strongly recommend this to anyone with a taste for melodic Black Metal, solid song writing or standing in the freezing cold screaming at the sky.

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