On the 5th of May Abysmal Grief played a show in Budapest’s Durer Pince (a very dark, small and obscure room part of the more famous Durer Kert concert hall), supporting their new album, Blasphema Secta which came out earlier this year.
I had the pleasure to participate in this interview with Regen Graves arranged by the crazy guys (Attila and Sebestyen) from HeadCrusher Magazine, a Hungarian webzine dedicated to metal in all its extreme forms. It was a very interesting experience which took place in the dark hallways of Durer Pince, a location unfortunately no longer “alive” after that event.
Watch below the full episode 13 of Headcrusher’s Underground Music Magazine and enjoy the high quality topics.
Special thanks to Attila and Sebestyen for their friendship and to Regen Graves for his availability.
Do you like galloping riffs and sing-a-long choruses? Maybe you fancy frenzied blast beats and groovy guitar parts? Well, in that case this review is definitely not for you, simply because Sektarism is the exact opposite of what I described above.
With Fils de Dieu, their third full length album which was released more than a week ago (10th of September) by the label End All Life Productions (and distributed by the infamous NoEvDia), the French quartet has pushed its limits and boundaries to an unbelievable level of religious fanaticism.
During the interview I did with them one year ago, vocalist Eklezjas’Tik BerZerK said: “We have achieved our goals and our views and now aim to do even better with the album to come, “Fils de Dieu”. Maybe quite differently, you will see…”. And he was right, cause Fils de Dieu is something that I have never heard before, something Sektarism has not done until now.
Released one year after the splendid opus, La Mort de L’Infidèle, Fils de Dieu was recorded live in the studio (I assume during the same session as its predecessor), therefore the quality of the sound is impeccable and it provides the album that brute force and darkness that only the real recordings have.
It becomes perfectly clear from the very beginning that this album is not your traditional metal record that you can listen to when you enjoy a beer or want to feel happy. On the contrary, this record challenges and succumbs your senses and mind into a pitch black abyss, full of brimstone and fetid smells. The content of this record is black, putrid and extremely slow. With every listen it creeps under your skin and devours the last part of innocence that was left in you, spawning the seeds of doubt and the desire to cross the threshold, to the other side…Which side is that, it is up to you to find out at the end of the album. After the first couple of spins I was left “bouche bee” by its intensity, but it took me more and more time to really understand this beautiful and dark material for what it really is, to discover all its hidden parts that cleverly create this impressive chef d’oeuvre.
The first track, Oderint Dum Metuant is “only” 10 minutes long, but this track is very scary and uncomfortable, only creating some sort of a twisted intro for what is really to come. This collection of sounds and savage vocals puts you right to the test, wrapping you in its sombre and terrifying atmosphere.
The obsessive shamanic drums, the otherworldly screams and the sinister noises that can be heard during this ordeal put together a perfect soundtrack to your insanity. For 10 minutes there are no guitars, no “traditional” instruments a classic rock band would use (but you should have already known by now that Sektarism has proven not to be your “traditional” metal band, right?), instead you are viciously assaulted by a tortured voice and ritualistic noises. Too bad you cannot sense the smell. Of molested human flesh, of blood, of incense…Or can you?
The second track of the record, Sacrifice, is basically the center of this album, with its 33 minutes of pure religious dementia. Gongs, bells, invocations, whispered prayers and noises, all mixed with some ethereal sounds and accompanied by the now classic instruments (guitars, bass and drums), build up the spine of this album and also represent the essence of what Sektarism‘s music is all about.
If you think 33 minutes in a row are too much of a song for you then you are completely wrong. Sektarism has done this on purpose to provide the music a continuity which otherwise would have been fragmented, if the song would have been split in 2 or 3 distinct parts. Forcing you to “witness” a 33 minute ritual with no possibility to go to the next track is the best way to keep your attention focused so you can drown completely in that black abyss I was talking about earlier.
The moment when those crunchy guitars – with their heavy, doom infused riffs – and the super slow rhythmic section come into the being (7″ 45′) gives the whole picture a full sense of despair and abandonment that envelops you progressively. BerZerK‘s haunting vocals are some of the best vocals I have ever heard in this genre and I cannot help to feel oppressed and crushed under their power. In the end, after the last noises have finally stopped and the smoke has cleared, I was left sweaty and confused, asking myself what the hell just happened to me.
What Sektarism is playing is definitely not an easy music listen, definitely not for the faint of heart. In order to get to the beautiful, pulsating core which lies wrapped deep inside, one needs to crack open the heavy shell of its surface. And this is exactly why Sektarism is a true occult band, as the beauty of its message lies buried deep beneath the “superficial” layer of the album cover. Their message is not for everyone and one has to give this music many listens in order to better understand what these apostles of ignominy really preach about. The beauty is in their darkness but you need not to fear it, just embrace it and you’ll see it for what it is.
With Fils de Dieu the French combo has managed to create a superb album, which, in my humble opinion crosses the boundaries of acceptance and breaks the rules of any of your previous perceptions you might have had regarding extreme music, opening instead two heavy doors to new feelings and experiences one can live/get while listening to this band and its releases.
From start to finish, Fils de Dieu represents a sinister voyage back to those dark times when free thinking and free speech were offenses punishable by death and when a human life was worth nothing in the eyes of the mighty Lord.
This 44 minute release is nothing but a bold statement that the son of god had to die, because he was mortal after all. He was only brought back to life not by a miracle, but by the strong belief of a being too afraid to think for itself, too weak to oppose and to fight a power whose only scope was to enslave and instill fear and guilt in the mind and life of the common man.
Sektarism is not making music, they are using music as a tool to create atmosphere, images and sounds, inviting the listener to imagine with his mind’s eye what really happens behind every gong, behind every tortured scream or behind every beating of the ritual drum.
If you don’t like to imagine, then the best way to find this out for yourselves is to go to one of the shows the band will play this September, under the banner of the Lux In Tenebris European Tour 2018, which will include dates, among others, in France, Germany, Austria, UK and the Netherlands.
From what can be seen on YouTube, each live appearance of this fantastic band represents a truly insane religious manifestation, therefore catching them live somewhere is a must.
As they say, be there or be sorry.
Fils de Dieu track list:
1. Oderint dum metuant
Sektarism line up:
Eklezjas’Tik BerZerK – vocals Kristik A.K. – bass Shamaanik B. – drums Messiatanik Armrek – guitars
Once upon a time in Norway, there was this band called Immortal…This is how I could have started a brief history about this famed Norwegian black metal band and its influence it had over the unsuspecting black metal scene which was about to be born 27 years ago.
But since everyone already knows who Immortal was and still is, I will not do that. Instead, I will write some words about their new release, Northern Chaos Gods, which came out exactly 13 days ago, via the German label Nuclear Blast.
So far 2018 has been a good year when it comes to black metal: Funeral Mist has released a new album after 9 years, Tormentor have reunited and started a Reunion tour of selected shows and Immortal have come back from the dead after 9 years of slumber with a different line-up and a fresh new album.
The first surprise was the departure of one of the founding members, Abbath Doom Occulta, and his replacement by another founding member, Demonaz Doom Occulta, who in the last 21 years had to stop playing the guitar and was only in charge of the band’s lyrics. I have to admit that for me this came as a pleasant surprise, because during the last years Abbath turned Immortal in some sort of circus and the band lost a lot of its credibility because of that ( I will always remember the disappointment I had after witnessing the band’s show in Wacken in 2007, which was later released as the Seventh Date of Blashyrkh DVD).
Moving on to 2018 AB, Demonaz, together with the old trusty drummer Horgh reunited Immortal and finally released an album which is definitely on my Best Albums of the Year list.
And why is that, should you ask? It’s very easy: because Demonaz compiled in the 8 songs present on this album all the best stuff Immortal was able to produce at the moment. The album in its entirety is a compilation of all of Immortal‘s back catalogue, from Diabolical Fullmon Mysticism to Damned in Black, written and arranged by a very inspired Demonaz to fit the year of grace 2018 (The best way to illustrate the link with the mighty past is the inclusion of the band’s old logo in the 6 panel digipak, how cool is that!!).
Obviously, when you say Immortal, you say ice, mountains, cold, winterdemons, storms, frozen North, ravens, blizzards and of course Blashyrkh. Their trademark is here once again, in full shape, freezing the speakers while the chaos spews forth. On Northern Chaos Gods, more than ever, these elements show a mature facet of Immortal, a band which learned from its agitated past but refused to give up.
Having performed the vocals on his beautiful solo album, March of the Norse, Demonaz shows us, 7 years later, a bold and captivating alternative to what Abbath used us to. It’s a clear statement that this is his band and his work and now Immortal is back, stronger than ever, to kick the fucking asses.
In several interviews Demonaz gave during the years, he claimed his love for the first wave of black metal, made of Venom, Bathory and other bands alike. I think that on this album, the Bathory influence is very well present, both in the harsh passages and in the slow, epic portions of the songs, where the “mellow” guitar parts combine with the double bass drums in mid tempo sections (Storm of Blashyrkh, Where Mountains Rise and the majestic 9 minute Mighty Ravendark).
But what I like best on this album is the ferocious speed of Horgh‘s drumming mixed with the walls of icy riffs patterns and guitar solos Demonaz is playing with youthful enthusiasm (Northern Chaos Gods, Into Battle Ride, Grim and Dark, Blacker of Worlds). Of course all these wouldn’t have been possible without a strong production and fortunately Peter Tagtren, besides filling in the session bass parts, managed to create one hell of a monster album, where every instrument is clearly heard.
I admit that it took me several listens to fully assimilate the majesty of this album, as at first something just did not click right. But believe me, once you allow your body to absorb the essence of the true North and its icy landscapes, you’ll walk the paths of sorrow, mesmerized by the mighty ravendark. And it’s not a cliche, it’s the truth: Immortal stood up to its name and delivered one of the best albums in the chapter or true Norwegian black metal.
Even if the resurrection of Immortal came as a huge surprise, it showed, one more time if necessary, that no one is irreplaceable, not even a founding member. Demonaz and Horgh have brought Immortal back from the dead, and this time I have the feeling that they are really here to stay. I truly hope the band will embark on a European tour to support this album, as there are some really good songs which deserve to be played live.
“Blashyrkh by fire
Blashyrkh by name
The throne of north
Mighty be thy law
Immortal – Norther Chaos Gods tracklist:
1. Northern Chaos Gods
2. Into Battle Ride
3. Gates to Blashyrkh
4. Grim and Dark
5. Called to Ice
6. Where Mountains Rise
7. Blacker of Worlds
8. Mighty Ravendark
Heic Noenum Pax or Here’s no Peace, as Marduk once put it so well. Starting with Wormwood, they got us used to releasing albums every three years, in a feverishly chronology. So, 3 years after the surprisingly good Frontschwein, Marduk will release on the 22nd of June their 14th full length album, Viktoria (Century Media Records), a name as simple and short as its content: 9 songs under 33 minutes, an album shorter than the mighty Panzer Division Marduk, which was considered the Reign in Blood of black metal.
If I kept mentioning the number 3, I would also like to mention the 3 periods in Marduk‘s long lasting activity: the first period of the early and mid 90’s when they were trying to find their own identity, the Legion period with classics like Nightwing and Panzer Division Marduk, and the period with Mortuus on vocals, who brought the much sought consistency and clarity for this acclaimed band.
Cause after this fantastic vocalist joined Marduk, the band has immediately found its own path and started to release consistent albums, one after another, until today. Also, with Mortuus, Marduk has become one of the truest bands active in this fucked up scene, a band that doesn’t give a fuck about the leftist politically correctness and who just delivers whatever the fuck it wants.
Add to this “behaviour” the impressive shows, with no gimmicks, just the right black metal attitude and atmosphere. Cause every Marduk concert is actually a fist in the face of all the posers and trend setters of today, be it musicians or fans.
Viktoria is no filler and starts exactly where Frontschwein has ended. In a nutshell, this rocket-like album is ugly, fast and deadly.
From the very first track, Werewolf, which was also the first single the band released in April, one can almost expect what will happen on the album. The punkish vibe of the track hits you hard in the face and goes on for 2 minutes in a groovy double pedaled rhythm.
But then all hell breaks loose and the next 2 tracks, June 44 and Equestrian Bloodlust, are exactly what Marduk is about: fierce, cold riffs and sharp blast beats mix with the insane growls of Mortuus, who shots his verses like some old rusty MG 42s hidden in the bunkers above the Falaise.
The speed and the precision of the instruments are incredible, creating a black metal whirlwind of sound. To be honest I just cannot figure how (or where) Marduk found the inspiration to reinvent themselves (again) in such a brilliant way.
After the cavalcade of these three aggressive tracks, it’s now time to catch our breath and seek shelter in the cold, soaked trenches cause Tiger I shows its ugly face on the horizon. This slow, crushing song reminds of the deadly tanks which were the kings of the battlefields in the 2nd World War, from the East to the West. “Grand horse of steel, sword of flame – the ground is shaking
Massive apparatus of death, 58 tons of hate”.
Pounding drums and hateful vocals accompany this monster of a song all through its duration of 4:12 minutes, while during the bridge and towards the end of the track, machine gun like riffs and blast beats explode to conclude its march.
The album continues with one of the best Marduk tracks I listened to recently, “Narva“, a pure sonic onslaught of hate and destruction (just like the fate of this Baltic city). The song is split in the middle by some groovy drum parts while Mortuus, with its cavernous voice, vomits “Down, see Narva go down”. Outstanding track!
The Last Fallen, the title track Viktoria with its sick chorus and intriguing bass parts and the amazing The Devil’s Song carry us through a battlefield of horrors, accompanied by relentless shelling in form of insane blast beats, precise riffing and chaotic vocals.
Even if the 4 musicians have outdone themselves on this album until now, the best is yet to come, in the form of Silent Night, the last song of this fantastic album which closes the hostilities in a slow march of death and despair. Featuring Mortuus‘s best vocals so far, the track seems like a mockery of the famous Christmas carol many people celebrate in the coziness of their homes:
we share the sacred promise of death
aligned shall we enter the last breath”
Overall, Viktoria is a very solid album and bears Marduk‘s trademark all over it. Lyrics about war, death, panzers, historical events, all seen through the lens of 4 black metal musicians. Musicians who have evolved to the point of perfection, transforming a band once on the verge of mediocrity into a real monster, which, after almost 30 years of activity, has become probably one of the best black metal of this planet.
I specifically want to praise here the drummer, Fredrik Widigs, who reached a level of total insanity on this album. Marduk has always had great drummers, but the work this guy did on Frontschwein and more recent on Viktoria shows that what were are dealing with here is much more than talent, is almost “insanity”.
The only thing which I really do not dig and not understand is the cover, which I think is one the most “unsuccessful” covers Marduk ever used (and they used some, especially in the mid 90’s). I am pretty sure that a better cover would have suited this album better, but after all, as I already said it above, Marduk do what they want and I have to respect that.
If you will have the chance to see them live this summer in support of this great album, do not miss them or you’ll be sorry. This band really has the best line-up ever.
Marduk – Viktoria track list:
2. June 44
3. Equestrian Bloodlust
4. Tiger I
6. The Last Fallen
8. The Devil’s Song
9. Silent Night
Mortuus – Vocals
Morgan Hakanson – Guitars
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – Bass
Fredrik Widigs – Drums
I started to come across the name Ygfan quite often these past months: whenever I was checking my social media profile, there was at least one mention of this name or of the band’s soon to be released album, Hamvakból. Then, on June the 2nd, I remembered that Ygfan will play in Budapest, in a club located only 5 minutes from our place, so we decided to go and see what was the thing with this band.
Ygfan released Hamvakból almost a week before that concert, so this release show was the best opportunity to buy the album and listen to some of the new tracks live. But since I am not doing a review for that concert here, I will try to describe in my own words the impressions I got after listening to Ygfan‘s new work.
Well, let me start with the physical copy: the album came out on the 28th of May, released on digipak cd by the Transylvanian terrorists Sun And Moon Records, while the tape version ( 271 regular pieces and 21 die hard copies, with patch and slipcase) was the responsibility of the Hungarian underground label Fekete Terror Productions.
This review is done for the “regular” tape version, which looks very professional, with the lyrics included in the thick booklet, so I truly encourage you to buy one of the two versions available, both are really worth your money.
Hamvakból (From the Ashes), is the band’s second release, after the Köd album, which came out 2 years ago. There are 7 tracks on this album, with a duration of almost 45 minutes, but these songs are not that easy to listen to. They require a certain mood and state of mind, to really feel the heaviness inside.
Even if some black metal elements are quite obvious on this album (especially Csendben and the last 2 tracks, Ygfan and Memento Mori, are the best example), overall, the 7 compositions are much more than a simple genre defined tracks.
Even if I want to, I would have quite a difficult task to place Ygfan‘s music in a certain genre. Of course, if someone really wants to label them, they could be on the safe side just by easily saying that the bands belongs to the post whatever style, even if I do not agree with that.
The tracks featured on Hamvakból are long, introspective, emotional and aggressive, without losing its influences from a plethora of styles. Combining multiple elements together, Ygfan created a metal concoction which envelops you, the listener, in a shroud of melancholy, meditation, despair or loss, depending on your feelings at the very moment of the listening session.
What is certain about Ygfan is that their music is not happy nor joyful at all, so it’s not suitable for a spin when you are in a good mood. It can have secondary effects on your well being, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The instrumentation is as complex and precise as a surgeon’s scalpel, with the drum pattern carefully holding and building the atmosphere, like a solid foundation the whole monument is constructed upon (Hamvak Alatt). The guitars are complementing each other, alternating mellow riffs and distorted tunes with melancholic rhythms and shy guitar solos (Csendben).
The (black) metal background/influence is quite present in the band’s compositions, even if they do not fall under the traditional black metal standards, but that’s where the true skills of the 4 musicians enter the picture, as they manage to use this primeval and extreme essence, transforming it in something more complex and deeper than a regular black metal band.
Sometimes Hamvakból resembles Agalloch‘s Ashes Against the Grain album (just listen to Kezdetben and Csendben, they are fucking beautiful), mostly due to the hypnotizing vocal parts and the sorrowful melodies. Zsolt‘s lamenting, clean voice, which suddenly shifts to some angry, harsh growls when you least expect it, completes very well the rest of the instruments, adding a dramatic effect on the album’s overall atmosphere.
The whole layout of the album, with its colors and blurred images contained in the booklet, is creating a beautiful landscape with the help of the musical prowess of the four band members.
The painting that is Hamvakból is rich in images and sounds which are fueled by the melancholic aura of the compositions.
I can certainly say that with this album Ygfan have created an emotional soundtrack for the long walks in the darkness of your soul, where the solitude and the gloom linger at your every footstep.
As weird as that may sound, it definitely works for me, whenever I listen to this beautiful album I get wrapped in a shroud of depression, no matter how hard I try to fight it. I consider Ygfan‘s music a way to escape from the everyday world, a perfect vessel to channel different states of mind, especially if you look to drown yourself in your own thoughts.
If that was their aim, well, they definitely succeeded at it.
Ygfan – Hamvakból tracklist:
3. Hamvak alatt
7. Memento Mori
Bálint Zsolt – Vocals/Guitar
Szabó Áron – Guitar
Bodor László – Bass
Tóth Bálint – Drums
He who listeneth to black metal should have heareth about Funeral Mist. At least once in his life time. After the MCD Devilry (1998) and 2 albums, Salvation (2003) and Maranatha (2009), the infamous Swedish black metal band is back (from the dead) with a spiteful vengeance. Funeral Mist stands as a temple of blasphemy, erected upon the pillars which are its albums. The more are added to its foundation, the stronger and menacing this temple becomes.
To be absolutely honest, I wasn’t even hoping that Arioch will release again an album with Funeral Mist, for many reasons. Reading some of the few interviews he gave some time ago, (the most notable was the one for Slayer Mag nr XX), I got the impression that this band was history and after the superb Maranatha there will be no more Funeral Mist for us.
Since Arioch joined Marduk under the alias Mortuus and dedicated his artistic life to that band for the past 14 years, I really thought that after MaranathaFuneral Mist would be a closed chapter in the black metal history book.
On the 23rd of March, the Norwegian band Djevel has released through the old trusty Aftermath Music its 5th opus titled Blant Svarte Graner (Among Black Grains). The whole concept of the album is based upon the Black Death which silently swept through Europe between 1347 and 1351, wiping out almost half if of its population.
This latest record is a quintessence of all the previous band’s releases, compiling all the (good) elements the band composed before and giving them a full grown and complete shape. I would say that with this album the band has reached a new level, a level of complete maturity and skillfulness.
Several line up changes have taken place last year, changes which helped a lot to this improvement (and progress, after all). The first good thing that happened was Mannevond taking care of the vocal parts (after all he’s been the main growler in Koldbrann since 2001), his harsh, barking voice suiting better Djevel‘s purposes than the former singer Erlend Hjelvik (Kvelertak).