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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
6. Az idő vasfoga
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).
Hellripper is a one man band that comes from Aberdeen, Scotland to rock your world apart, in the good old ways. Formed by the young James McBain in 2014, Hellripper pays an honorable tribute to the gods of speed/thrash/black metal from a time when music was done from the heart and with passion.
The same passion and dedication that James showed when writing all these blackened anthems of destruction. I am really amazed that a young band like Hellripper has managed to release such an impressive record in 2016. Continue reading Hellripper – Complete and Total Fucking Mayhem Album Review – 2016 AB→
“Open the gates, Lord
Far too long in the shadows we’ve dealt”
This how “Necro Speed Megalomania“, the first track from “Under the Unholy Command” opens. A message as sharp as a blade wielded by the Serbian Terrorhammer.
Formed initially by Warbeast Holocausto (vocals) and Pentagramator The Helltyrant (guitars) in 2010, the band released a demo (Promo 2012 AB) and an EP (Vintage Black Mass) in 2012. When everything seemed to fall perfectly into place, in 2013 Warbeast decided to leave Terrorhammer and become Atterigner, the vocalist of the cult Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth, leaving Pentagramator the sole member of this promising band.
After another small line up change, 2015 finds the band a duo again, with B.B.K. Necro Doctor handling the bass duties and Pentagramator taking care of the guitars and vocals. The same year, the unholy duo inked a deal with Spain’s Deathrune Records and released their first full length, “Under the Unholy Command“.
A collection of 8 songs, plus an intro, this album is a modern day manifesto that old school metal can be done the right way even in the 21st century, should you have the proper tools of the trade. In a scene already drowned by so many, countless, old school bands and genres, Terrorhammer obviously didn’t invent the wheel, but managed to stand out from other releases through music and musicianship.
For 35 minutes, we have the pleasure to hear catchy riffs, pounding drums and raspy, barked vocals singing about Satan, graveyards, rituals and metal. This is not about originality, but about music made from the heart. Terrorhammer knows exactly how to do it and their speed/blackened thrash metal wraps you in a frenzied mood, possessing your body and soul. “Obey her ways of darkness/You will bleed for the countess”, screams Pentagramator on “Blood for the Countess“, the 4th track, which is a 100% speed metal hymn. Continue reading Terrorhammer – “Under the Unholy Command” review – Deathrune Records 2015 AB→