Tag Archives: album review

Blood and Iron: Review Marduk – Viktoria – Century Media Records – June 2018 AB

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.

marduk band photo

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.

Marduk Viktoria cover

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:

“Silent night
we share the sacred promise of death
Holy night
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:

1. Werwolf
2. June 44
3. Equestrian Bloodlust
4. Tiger I
5. Narva
6. The Last Fallen
7. Viktoria
8. The Devil’s Song
9. Silent Night

Marduk Line-up:

Mortuus – Vocals
Morgan Hakanson – Guitars
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – Bass
Fredrik Widigs – Drums

Band contact:
https://www.facebook.com/Mardukofficial
http://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=275
http://marduk.nu/

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Djevel – Blant Svarte Graner review – Aftermath Music – May 2018 AB

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.

Djevel Logo

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).

Continue reading Djevel – Blant Svarte Graner review – Aftermath Music – May 2018 AB

Spite – Antimoshiach cd review – April 2018 AB

I made my first audio contact with Spite after I listened to the promo I got for the release of their first full length, “Antimoshiach“, which came out a couple of months ago on the Irish label Invictus Productions.

I am usually quite reluctant when it comes to black metal made in USA (I hate the term USBM to the core), maybe out of prejudice, but there are some bands which I really like a lot.

Continue reading Spite – Antimoshiach cd review – April 2018 AB

Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse album review January 2018 AB

When you have been active for 20 years, you have released a bunch of classic black metal albums and you have experimented with different musical approaches, what would you do, in 2018, when you’re about to release your 6th full length? That’s right, you go back to your roots, with an even stronger will and “Fuck You World” attitude.

Of course I am talking about Watain here, who on the 5th of January have released an album which took me quite some time to digest. Not because I did not like it, but because every time I wanted to write something about it, it unveiled new hidden features, which made me listen to it again and again and again.

Continue reading Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse album review January 2018 AB

SVOID – Ars Kha review – October 2017 AB

6 years ago, the Hungarian entity called Svoid appeared from the mists of Null for the first time. Its sharp toothed mouth gnawed slowly on the pillars of knowledge and death, releasing from the hungry void 5 darkened hymns.

Ars Kha was unleashed as an independent release hence its limited availability on the market. Those of you who are reading this and wonder where you can buy the physical copy from, I’m afraid I have to disappoint you by telling you this material has been sold out for quite a long time now. The only possible place to buy this black masterpiece is the band’s official Bandcamp page, where you can purchase the digital copy for less than 3 Euros. Hopefully that someday in the near future this debut record will see again the light of night in another form, because it really deserves a true re-release.

Continue reading SVOID – Ars Kha review – October 2017 AB

Horde – Hellig Usvart album review – September 2017 AB

Common knowledge implies that by definition, black metal must be anti christian, blasphemic, anti life, anti humanity etc. That’s why, starting from the very beginning with Venom and Bathory, even if not serious at all, the lyrical approach, the visuals and the music were Satanic enough to scare the shit out of the humble church goers. Since then this music has evolved a lot and in today’s black metal we have reached a new level of visual and ideological blasphemy which could have never been imagined 30 years ago. If this is 100% true or just some well orchestrated circus, that is another discussion.

If we are to judge it by the book, you cannot play black metal if you do not believe in Satan. But what about christian “black metal”, can that be true? I have not heard of many such bands, but one which instantly comes to mind is Horde. And I must add that their one and only album released so far, “Hellig Usvart“, can equal in musicianship and visuals many so called true black metal albums released until now.

But what is so special about this Australian band anyway? And why did I choose it for Scrolls of Darmoth‘s Blast From the Past? First and foremost, out of nostalgia. “Hellig Usvart“, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” and “The Oath of Black Blood” were the first 3 black metal albums I bought on tape in 1994. I have never heard anything similar before and for me these 3 albums changed my life.

Horde – Hellig-Usvart

Under no circumstances was I to know that what I just bought was called black metal, nor was I aware of the events surrounding Mayhem. Romania of the early 90’s was a place completely unaware of what was going on in the West. Since we did not have proper concerts or a music shop, the tape/zine trading was the only way to discover new things. But we also had bootleggers. Lots of them. I kinda miss that period, it was romantic in a way but I would never buy bootlegs again. (The covers were xeroxed and the sound quality was horrible most of the time).

When I first played Mayhem‘s album, I was in my room, with candles burning on the table. The setting was perfect, but I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. I was absolutely stunned. I did not listen to such a mystic music before, nothing I was listening to at the time compared to the evil which spewed out from the tape player. Still in shock after Mayhem, I put on Horde. When “A Church Bell Tolls Amidst the Frozen Nordic Winds” started, my imagination was already running wild. If “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” was cold and morbid, this album was haunting. I really enjoyed every single track, mesmerized by the blast beats, the furious riffs and the black and white xeroxed cover, which I stared at for hours. Needles to say that after I put Beherit in the tape player, my universe was completely torn apart, in a good way. I was doomed for ever!

But what was so special about Horde‘s album that made me remember it and get it out of its coffin? Well, even if over the years I realized what was actually going on with the band (the whole project was basically a christian mockery of the the so called “true black metal” current), I still found the idea “interesting” and the music very much appealing.

You probably know that Horde is a one man project of the ex drummer in Mortification, a christian death metal band who was quite busy in the beginning of the 90’s releasing some interesting albums like Mortification, Scrolls of the Megilloth or Post Momentary Affliction. At some point, after discovering the wave of black metal which erupted from Scandinavia, Jayson Sherlock aka Anonymous (sounds like Euronymous, right?) decided he had to counteract the northern blasphemy with an unblack metal album, suggestively called Hellig Usvart (Holy Unblack).

Released by Nuclear Blast in 1994, the album contains 12 songs and has a duration of almost 40 minutes. Everything on it, from the band name, the cover, to the song titles and the music does not betray the true nature of “holy beast” which is contained within the disc. Songs like “Blasphemous Abomination of the Satanic Pentagram“, “Drink from the Chalice of Blood” and “An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Falling Moonlight” might successfully have been written by any Norwegian band of the time. Apart these “horrific” song titles, Anonymous has bestowed upon us the magic of the white light in which tracks like “Invert the Inverted Cross” (one of my favorites), “Silence the Blasphemous Chanting” and the funny “Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat” shine like (un)black metal gems.

Do not get fooled by the strong christian message on this album, Hellig Usvart is a solid piece of brutal music, played by a very skilled musician and which has all the characteristics of a real black metal album: bad production, furious blast beats, chilling riffs, raucous voice alternating with possessed shrieks. All these, combined with the fact that Horde did not release another album after this one, make Hellig Usvart a milestone in a genre that no one knew (or cared) if it ever existed and place it, at least musically and visually, on the same level with many notorious black metal albums released at the time.

Do I still enjoy Horde after 23 years? Not only that I definitely do it, but I also want other people to )re)discover this lost, atypical jewel of black metal. Because in the end, despite his efforts to fight his eternal arch enemy, Anonymous has created (maybe involuntarily) one of the most interesting albums in this troubled history of black metal which has definitely stood the test of time.

Horde – Hellig Usvart tracklist:

1. A Church Bell Tolls Amidst the Frozen Nordic Winds
2. Blasphemous Abomination of the Satanic Pentagram
3. Behold, the Rising of the Scarlet Moon
4. Thine Hour Hast Come
5. Release and Clothe the Virgin Sacrifice
6. Drink from the Chalice of Blood
7. Silence the Blasphemous Chanting
8. Invert the Inverted Cross
9. An Abandoned Grave Bathes Softly in the Falling Moonlight
10. Crush the Bloodied Horns of the Goat
11. Weak, Feeble, Dying, Antichrist
12. The Day of Total Armageddon Holocaust

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