Tag Archives: Nuclear Blast

Album Review: Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods – Nuclear Blast – July 2018 AB

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.

Immortal Northern Chaos Gods album cover

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.

Immortal band photo

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
Mighty Ravendark”

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

Immortal line-up:

Demonaz – Vocals, Guitars
Peter Tagtren – Bass
Horgh – Drums

Band contact:

http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/label/music/band/about/70964.immortal.html
http://www.facebook.com/immortalofficial
http://www.immortalofficial.com/

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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

Slayer – Repentless (Nuclear Blast 2015)

slayer-repentless

Two years ago, when Jeff died, I said that Slayer as I knew it is no more. And that is very true. Slayer will never be the same again since Jeff is dead and Dave has left the ship. The only 2 remaining members from the original formula, Tom and Kerry, have decided to carry on this legacy instead of calling it quits.

I must admit I was very surprised by this, I really thought they will realize what the loss of those 2 members meant for Slayer. But I was wrong and here we have the 12th Slayer  studio album, called Repentless, released by Nuclear Blast on the 11th of September AS.

I love Slayer. I have carved its name into my skin. I have travelled hundreds of kilometers just to see them play live. And I must say I am not disappointed by this album. While almost every metal head from around the world is outraged by Repentless because it’s not Raining Blood 10, I like it very much. In fact I can say that for me this is one of the best Slayer albums in a very very long time. Of course I am sorry Dave and Jeff are no more but at some point you have to learn how to deal with things and let go of the past. And Slayer did just that.

It’s pretty much obvious they will never be able to release something like Reign in Blood or Seasons In The Abyss again, they don’t have that inspiration anymore. But my question is: Why to release something like that anyway? Times have changed, they are older (and wiser) and they do what they think is best. And they succeed at it.

For the first time since Hell Awaits, we have an intro. A very powerful one, Delusions of Saviour, a crescendo of riffs and midtempo heaviness. When it ends, Repentless kicks in and punches you in the face. 100% pure thrash metal, galopping riffs and speedy drums, harsh voice and catchy lyrics. A perfect song to open the album with.

Repentless is about fast and in your face songs (Repentless, Take Control, Implode and the majestic You Against You) mixed with some slow, atmospheric but very heavy ones. Mid tempo is best used here in Vice, Cast The First Stone, When The Stillness Comes, Chasing Death, Piano Wire and Pride in Prejudice.

Jeff is no more? We have Gary Holt, who handles the guitar duties very well, his duels with Kerry King are kinda awesome. Dave has parted ways? Old time partner (in crime) Paul Bostaph was eager to replace him behind the drum kit and smash its cymbals.
Of all the albums he played on (4), this is the most complex one and I loooove the way he kicks those drums. Huge sound, great double bass and speed. Lots of it. Bostaph is amazing behind his drum kit, beating the shit out of those fuckers. Beautiful work of art for a very talented and somehow underrated musician.

Tom Araya barks as he always did and spews the words full of hatred and contempt towards society, religion and human race. His voice is perfect, it fits as a glove with the style and with the music.

The common denominator here is aggression, heavyness and in your face metal. Thrash metal or not, it has the Slayer tradmark all over it. I’m pretty sure Jeff would have been proud to see how the guys managed without him. They have released one of their most solid works until now and I’m extremely happy they have found the perfect combination to continue this legendary legacy.

“We shall be victorious
Attack – continue – never
Never surrender”

Band Members:

Tom Araya – Bass, Vocals
Kerry King – Guitars
Gary Holt – Guitars
Paul Bostaph -Drums

Track list:

1. Delusions of Saviour
2. Repentless
3. Take Control
4. Vice
5. Cast The First Stone
6. When The Stillness Comes
7. Chasing Death
8. Implode
9. Piano Wire
10.Atrocity Vendor
12.You Against You
13.Pride In Prejudice

Review made for the Limited Edition Deluxe box set (exclusive Picture LP, digipack CD/Blu Ray, DVD Live Wacken 2014, Live audio CD Wacken 2014, Poster, photo cards with printed autographs).