Category Archives: Album Reviews

Sun of the Sleepless – To the Elements album review – August 2017 AB

“Hunter of silence
Awakened…
Wary thine eye
In the dark”.

sun of the sleepless

Who would have thought that in 2017 Ulf Theodor Schwadorf will bring Sun of the Sleepless back from the dark slumber in which it fell in 2004 and will return with their first full length in 18 years of bizarre existence? I was more than hyped when I saw that on the 21 st of July the band has released via Lupus LoungeTo The Elements“, a collection of 7 songs which bear the trade mark of their talented creator.

What we have here is a black metal album dedicated to nature and the creatures that inhabit it. With 2 exceptions, The Burden and the interlude Forest Crown, the rest of the songs are long, atmospheric and harsh. The overall atmosphere reminds me a lot of the lost, forgotten sad spirit of the nineties, when bands like Ulver (early period), Forgotten Woods, Burzum, Emperor and Darkthrone created their masterpieces which are so influential even to this day.

This album starts with a cover of a Lorenna McKennitt song, The Burden, which, after 3 minutes quickly gives in to Motions, revealing the true nature of the beast.
To the Elements is a superbly crafted album, highly atmospheric and very gloomy. If you are expecting influences from the other bands Schwadorf plays in, well, they are there, but do not interfere with the general concept of the album at all.

The third track, The Owl, (the only one which has a video so far) starts with its acoustic slow intro and soft spoken voices, erupting minutes later into a frenzy of riffs and blast beats. As the name implies, the song is dedicated to this mystical and often cursed bird, one of the best predators which ever lived in the animal kingdom.
Schwadorf‘s voice fits perfectly the atmosphere, his grave, harsh tone providing the songs a much deserved weight. He’s backed up by some majestic choirs, while all the blast beats and the icy riffs tear through the acoustic veil like a sharp blade.

sun of the sleepless to the elements

The 4th track, Where in my Childhood Lived a Witch is amazing and if I didn’t like the whole album as much as I do, I would have considered it my favorite song. Perhaps the longest track of the album, with over 8 minutes, this song is the scariest for sure. It starts off in a mid paced rhythm, with great double bass drumming and shredding riffs. In the background some keyboards add a frightening echo to the story. After you think you got used to the song, it suddenly changes rhythm and goes into a cavalcade of riffs and blast beats which last till the end. A powerful song, which is a gem even when it’s played live. This continuous balance between the atmospheric and the violent parts of the songs is what makes To the Elements such an outstanding album.

To calm down the pace a bit after such an intense tempo, Forest Crown is used as a small comforting interlude, with its acoustic guitars and warm vocals. You can actually imagine the vast forest, softly speaking to you when the wind blows through its trees. A beautiful song, smartly inserted at the right time between the longer songs.

The next two tracks, In the Realm of the Bark and Phoenix Rise are the perfect choice to end this beautiful album. The melancholic choirs on Phoenix Rising are beautiful and whenever I play that song I have the impression I am flying over the vast forest.

Overall, what Schwadorf did with To the Elements was basically to create a collection of hymns in which the nature, the old legends and the mystical animals play the main role. A piece of modern art which celebrates both the past and the present and teaches us to cherish and preserve what we still have, until it’s too late.

To the Elements is definitely one of the best and most beautiful albums of this year, a jewel of black metal crafted in the depth of the woods.
This album also proves that you don’t have to be overtly satanic to release a good black metal album in 2017. All you need is the “soul” and the inspiration, the rest will come by default. To match with the music, the band came up with a brilliant album cover which links this new album with the glorious past of the 1990’s.

The version I reviewed here is the limited black LP (350 copies), which comes on a heavy 180g vinyl, with a special vinyl mastering. The gatefold is simple but efficient, leaving the music to speak for itself.Grab your own copy before it’s too late, this album is a must have for all those who appreciated the spirit of the 1990’s and the “romantic” side of black metal.

Also, if you want to witness how Sun of the Sleepless sounds live, you can watch the full concert the band played at the Prophecy Fest earlier this year. This second ever performance is really impressive and there were many songs from To the Elements which were played that night,together with some old tracks from the past.
Total score: 10 owls out of 10

Sun of the Sleepless line up:

Schwadorf – all instruments

To the Elements track list:

1. The Burden
2. Motions
3. The Owl
4. Where in My Childhood Lived a Witch
5. Forest Crown
6. The Realm of the Bark
7. Phoenix Rise

Band contact and merchandise:

https://www.facebook.com/sunofthesleepless
http://en.prophecy.de/artists/sun-of-the-sleepless/
https://sun-of-the-sleepless.bandcamp.com/

Osculum Infame – “Axis of Blood” review June 2017 AB

France has always been a serious provider of good quality extreme metal bands and during the years more and more bands formed to spread the gospel of the lord. Osculum Infame makes no exception, since this band is one of the veterans of the French black metal scene, its roots going back to 1993, the golden age of black metal, just before things started to fall apart.

Osculum Infame logo

In 24 years of activity under the banner of darkness, Osculum Infame have managed to release only 2 full length albums (along several EP’s and compilations), the famous Dor-nu-Fauglith released in 1997 (which became one of the milestones of the French black metal albums, both hated and revered at the same time), and Axis of Blood, the first album celebrating their return after the sleep of death between 2002-2008.

With an almost completely different line-up, (Deviant von Blakk remaining the only original member since the band’s beginnings), Osculum Infame has released the Axis of Blood on the French label Battlesk’rs in 2015. Since this album is going to be re-released at the end of this month, on the 30th of June (the original first press CD limited to 500 copies is almost sold out), I decided to honor this great release by writing some words about it.

Continue reading Osculum Infame – “Axis of Blood” review June 2017 AB

el Camino – Cursed Congregation album review – Night Tripper Records June 2017 AB

el-Camino-logo

When I heard that this year el Camino will release their third full length after a four years absence I was very hyped because I really love this Swedish group and their cursed doom they’re playing. I liked a lot The Satanik Magick debut LP ( Hail the Horns is a real anthem), Smaland was a nice interlude EP with a very interesting Venom cover (this Swedish version of In League With Satan sounds even better than the original) and Gold of the Great Deceiver was very enjoyable.

So you can imagine my surprise when I read in the press release I received that el Camino plays some sort of malicious black metal with a Dissection-esque touch and “it’s most reminiscent of the Greek black metal scene”. I immediately asked myself what the fuck is happening here, have they changed their style and jumped onto the black metal bandwagon, or the guy who wrote the description smoked something toxic and was talking about another band and its new album?

Since I was devoured by excitement and curiosity, I anxiously pressed the “play” button and I was instantly relieved: el Camino did not change their style at all, instead they added that extra something (maturity and experience, let’s call it) that will turn Cursed Congregation into their best work so far.

Continue reading el Camino – Cursed Congregation album review – Night Tripper Records June 2017 AB

Sektarism – La Mort de L’Infidèle album review June 2017 AB

Sektarism Logo

Many years ago, a Swedish band issued a bold statement that their music was the “audial essence of pure evil”. This might have been correct 25 years ago, but now, in 2017, this statement is no longer true. One of the few bands which this sentence can apply to 100% is Sektarism and their sick music.

The perfect way to sustain this idea is “La Mort de L’Infidèle“, an album which was released by Zanjeer Zani on the 19th of May. While this is only their second full length in almost 10 years of existence, Sektarism have well established themselves as the perfect instrument of faith and devotion which spreads the love and adoration for god. This band (and the music it creates) is only a tool with which the 4 members propagate their beliefs and creeds, by writing and composing religious hymns to glorify the almighty.

Sektarism La Mort De L’Infidèle

What can be said of an album that has only 3 songs but lasts for more than an hour? One thing would definitely be that it’s not boring, even if its length can be discouraging. The first track, “Ô Seigneur” is more like a prayer, a litany sung to underline the faith with which the band serves their God and a perfect way to immerse you in the twisted atmosphere of the album. Then comes, with its menacing title, “Brûle L’Hérétique“, a 20 minute track during which, if you close your eyes and let your imagination flow, you can picture a town’s square, a crowd gathered to receive the daily dose of entertaining and a stake which the heretic is tied to. “Par tes langues innombrables, ronge la chair de l’athée” ( By your countless tongues, gnaw the atheist’s flesh). You can already feel the smell of burning human flesh, don’t you?
The last track, “Conscience, Révolte, Perte du Moi” is also the longest one and contains in 30 minutes the whole quintessence of Sektarism’s ideology. A “shamanik” drum starts slowly and keeps the same obsessive pace for almost the whole duration of the song, accompanied by an organized “cacophony” of sounds and possessed screams. A truly inspiring track, “Conscience” is the perfect way to end such a psychedelic and religious album.

La Mort de L’Infidèle” is not a musical album per se, it’s a collection of 3 hymns dedicated to the glory of the Almighty. If you are looking for catchy riffs and addictive rhythms, well, you better look somewhere else cause this release, like any other Sektarism releases, is not for the faint of heart. The atmosphere is crushing, like each guitar chord weighs at least a ton. The sound is abrasive and BerZerK‘s harsh voice and desperate screams create a hysteric atmosphere, like some sect of religious fanatics are performing a sinister ceremony in an underground cave. To understand what I’m trying to describe here you must attend a Sektarism ceremony or at least watch a live video on YouTube. The effect is guaranteed, I can assure you.

Returning to the last album, well, this ain’t an easy listening. To really enjoy this album you must be in the mood, otherwise you will not understand a thing. It’s definitely not the commercial record you put on while reading a book, but once the sounds and the lyrics enter your system, you’ll be corrupted for good. The rhythm is slow as a giant anaconda slithering on the ground in search of food. Here the food is made of new souls which Sektarism looks to corrupt. First of all, the rhythm section is amazing, Kristik A.K.‘s bass is one of the heaviest I have ever heard and goes hand in hand with the obsessive drums of Shamaanik B. The guitar parts played by Messiatanik Armrek are as dissonant as possible, contributing to this psychedelic and demented atmosphere which make of “La Mort de L’Infidèle” such a powerful album. Add to all of that the vocals of Eklezias’tik BerZerK and you have the complete picture of that religious ceremony I was talking about.
All along the album, the ritualistic drums will pound their obsessive rhythm into your ears and head, driving you crazy with a mystical ecstasy. I am not joking, if you listen to this album properly, with the right atmosphere, you will most likely have the impression that you’ll start bleeding from your freshly acquired stigmata wounds.

Do you remember that famous line from Manowar‘s “Kings of Metal“: “Other bands play, Manowar kills”?. The same thing applies in this case: while (many) other bands play nowadays with this occult satanic devil worshiping thing, Sektarism is dead serious about what they sing and they really practice what they preach. There is no commercial gimmick here, only true devotion and true believers. The music on “La Mort de L’Infidèle” is like a soundtrack for penitence, an audio companion of a ceremony performed by mad zealots.

Les Apôtres de L’Ignominie

Unfortunately for those who do not speak French, they will most likely not understand the message spread out in the lyrics, but I cannot imagine Sektarism sing in any other language than French. Everything flows so well in this beautiful language and every word, every intonation will immediately loose their meaning and sense if sung in English. The mysticism of the words combined with the mysticism of the language form a powerful religious bond which, together with the instruments, make “La Mort de L’Infidèle” such a powerful and frightening album.

I totally recommend buying this majestic piece of art, since “La Mort de L’Infidèle” will soon become one of the milestones of religious music in extreme metal. Released in several formats, from the standard DLP to a Die Hard version limited to only 66 copies and from a deluxe cross shaped digipak (limited to 499 copies) to a gold tape, Sektarism‘s sophomore full length is a living testament and proof that when religion is mixed with music in a proper way, the final result can only be blasphemy.

I also want to mention the artwork of “La Mort de L’Infidèle“, which is brilliant and I really think that Mystik Dementia (drawings) and Eklezias’tik Berzerk (conception and page layout) have definitely outdone themselves. If you want to see (and listen) why I praised this album so much, just do yourselves a favor and buy it, you will not be disappointed.

En Son Nom. Ad Vitam Aeternam.

Sektarism – “La Mort de L’Infidèle” tracklist:

1. Ô Seigneur
2. Brûle l’Hérétique
3. Conscience, Révolte, Perte du Moi

Sektarism line up:

Eklezias’tik BerZerK – vocals
Kristik A.K. – bass
Shamaanik B. – drums
Messiatanik Armrek – guitars

Contact:
http://www.necrocosm.org
http://www.facebook.com/necrocosm.productions
https://necrocosm.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sektarism.org
http://www.facebook.com/sektarism

Other links of interest:
OBSCURANTIST (Grandeur du Nihilisme): http://www.obscurantist.org
MALHKEBRE (Religious Black music): http://www.malhkebre.org / http://www.facebook.com/malhkebre
MALEKHAMOVES (Death Metal): http://www.facebook.com/malekhamoves
THE APOSTLES OF IGNOMINY: http://www.theapostlesofignominy.org

MÖRBIT (Morbid) – “METALION: 50 years of fucking off life Vinyl review – June 2017 AB

Recorded live in 2011, just before the release party for the Year of the Goat box set, what is now known as Metalion 50 Years of Fucking Off Life has been immortalized on vinyl by the Italian label FOAD Records in May 2017.

The name of the band which played these tracks is MÖRBIT and consists of several well known musicians from the Swedish extreme scene. They have decided to put up this band in order to play some Morbid tracks at the above mentioned release party and, the night before the show they recorded their rehearsal as a funeral party for Metalion‘s Slayer Mag and as a tribute to Per Yngve Ohlin, aka Dead, which was Morbid‘s singer for a little while, before moving to Norway to join Mayhem.

This tribute band consists of Peter Stjarvind (drums), Erik Wallin (guitar), David Blomqvist (guitar), Tyrant (bass) and Erik Danielsson (vocals). The fact that these super musicians have united to play some classic Morbid tracks is pretty awesome, but to record this rehearsal at the infamous Watain‘s Wolf Lair is beyond words.

MÖRBIT (MORBID) – “METALION: 50 YEARS OF FUCKING OFF LIFE VINYL

The vinyl, which was released in several formats (red splatter, clear red and black), came out on the 26th of May and has become a really important document in the history of extreme metal. Not only because of the awesome line-up – musicians who play(ed) in bands like Entombed, Damnation, Merciless, Nifelheim, Dismember and Watain – but also because of the tracks featured on this record, which basically contain the whole classic December Moon demo, released in 1987. Continue reading MÖRBIT (Morbid) – “METALION: 50 years of fucking off life Vinyl review – June 2017 AB

Pagan Megalith – Viharjárás – Neverheard Distro 2016 AB

As I already mentioned it in the previous Pagan Megalith review, before recording the second album in 2010, the band decided to sleep the sleep of death for an unlimited period of time. In 2016 they awakened from their silent slumber and their long awaited album “Viharjárás” (Stormburst) was finally released. In February 2017 Neverheard Distro released it on tape as well. What better way to listen to this opus than on tape?

Pagan Megalith Logo

Recorded in the same successful formula than “Ólomharangok” (Leadenbells), (AE and Tuhlv), this sophomore album sees Pagan Megalith taking their music a step further on the evolution scale. Gone is the Gorgoroth vibe which dominated the previous album, instead their compositions are imbued with a more personal and sorrowful feeling.

Pagan Megalith – Viharjárás cover

The speed has maybe decreased a bit, replacing the previous groovy attitude with more elaborate compositions full of hate and disgust but overall, the whole dominant feeling is one of nihilism and hate. Again, don’t expect an album full of ballads and odes to love. No, no, no. There’s plenty of blast bea(s)ts on this album, but the drumming has shifted towards a certain nostalgia instead of a simple aggressive style.
Continue reading Pagan Megalith – Viharjárás – Neverheard Distro 2016 AB

Pagan Megalith – Ólomharangok album review – Neverheard Distro 2010

Pagan Megalith Logo

Pagan Megalith is a not a new band, but if we think that in 13 years of activity (with 6 years of hiatus) they have released only 2 albums, we might consider them a young band. But what makes this group really special are the skills and the musicianship of its members. On one hand we have Ga’eheln, (best known for his involvement in multiple Hungarian bands, like Svoid etc) on guitars and vocals, and on the other there’s AE on drums. The union of these 2 fine musicians has resulted in “Ólomharangok“, their debut album, which was spawned between 2008-2009 and released on tape 1 year later. The same year, just before recording their second full length, the band decided to put an end to its short existence and withdrew into the dark which it came from.

Pagan Megalith – Ólomharangok album cover

What we deal here with is pure Gorgoroth worship but done in the best way possible. Not only this album is not a mere copycat or a tribute band, but Pagan Megalith has put its own soul into this music, adding some really interesting passages like acoustic intros or slow, atmospheric parts. But don’t get me wrong, there are no lullabies on this album so expect plenty of double bass drums, insane blast beats and great cold, icy guitar riffs (just listen to the track “Sziklavér“) and you’ll feel like having taken a ride back to 1993.
The energy which emanates from these tracks is contagious and you just want to headbang like a maniac while the music is infecting your ears. It’s a very addictive listen and I strongly recommend it to those who are still very nostalgic about those great times when black metal was really evil, simple and to the point.

Pagan Megalith band photo

The production is flawless allowing the songs to flow in a very organic way, from start to finish. Pagan Megalith have created with “Ólomharangok” a magnificent tribute album to the golden, romantic period of black metal but they have given it a personal and quite modern touch.

The drums are excellent, imposing the rhythm all along the album, shifting from a black’n roll, groovy sound to raw black metal. Ga’eheln‘s voice is perfect for this album, his raw, scrappy vocals perfectly connecting the dots.

Overall this album is a must for every nostalgic of the great 1990’s times and a very good quintessence of the first 3 Gorgoroth albums, but with a personal feeling.
The lyrics are in Hungarian but that’s not a problem since this melodic language can be quite interesting when it comes to black metal.

The digital limited edition which can be found here features a Behemoth cover from the band’s “And the Forests Dream Eternally” EP. This groovy, Bathory inspired track is the perfect way to conclude an album which pays so much respect to the glorious dark past.

AaaaaRrrrrrggggghhhh!!! Pure Evil and Hate!!!!!

Pagan Megalith – “Ólomharangok” track list:

1. Őszi áradatba pusztul
2. Révület jövel
3. Torzult Nap
4. Ólomharangok
5. Sziklavér
6. Az idő vasfoga
7. Hamvadás
8. A gyilokjáróból
9. Nincs út közöttünk
10. Alkonyatba tűnök
11. Pure Evil and Hate (Behemoth cover – Bonus track available only on the deluxe digital version).