It has been thirty years since drummer / vocalist Jonas Renske and Anders “Blackheim” Nyström began a musical journey that would see them evolve from a studio-only project exploring their darker musical tastes to becoming one of the most respected purveyors of melancholic and post-Gothic music; always evolving with each album, embracing Gothic and progressive metal, and always distinctively Katatonia.
The general conceit within black metal is that the rawer and more under-produced the album the more authentic and trve it sounds. Therefore remastering and remixing records of that particular genre is a venture never likely to be met with universal praise. Not that a little fact like that has deterred Satyricon in any way, the Norwegian act even going so far as to completely change the artwork on their first two albums for these updated releases courtesy of Napalm Records.
Black metal connoisseurs rejoice!
The latest Vreid record is an homage to the classic black metal sound the members helped create way back in the days of Windir while simultaneously experimenting with bold new soundscapes and storytelling. Wild North West (Season of Mist) is a pounding cataclysm of power and fury, yet it does so with a style and panache in a way that only these Norwegian black metal stalwarts could deliver. They offer a fresh take on the traditional black metal tropes while cutting the growls and blast beats with a melody that keeps your head banging and your mind racing, like on the hypnotic “Dazed and Reduced” and the ominous tone-setting title track.
The reignited interest in distinctly eighties-sounding metal styles, and more specifically, the thrash revival of the 2000s, has brought with it a handful of blistering new acts, alongside a slew of respectable releases from its originators. However, as a general scene, it has also suffered from a lack of innovation and compositional creativity. Often bands of this scene are perfectly content to just emulate classic sounds long-established by Sodom, Kreator, Venom, Bathory, and Slayer. Oftentimes, I find it a dull guessing game of which thrash bands are being ripped off whenever I listen to these bands. But there are nevertheless a handful of acts that in addition to paying tribute to the old guard’s sound manage to capture that fury, excitement, and blasphemous spirit of heavy music during the proto-extreme metal era. James McBain, the singular creative force behind Hellripper, clearly loves the style of first wave black metal and Teutonic thrash but is also creative enough to blend them to create something that sounds completely fresh. The result here is The Affair of the Poisons (Peaceville Records), a sophomore effort to the more straightforward Coagulating Darkness, and a release of blackened thrash/speed metal fury that will leave you yearning even more for a destructive live experience in 2020.Continue reading
Most reviews and articles concerning Norwegian dark hearts Okkultokrati seem to contain slightly differing classifications of the band’s sound. I’m no different: if you’re going to mould the likes of Motörhead, Emperor, and Sex Pistols into a ball of spewing hate, you’re playing Punk / Black ‘n’ Roll as far as I’m concerned. Anyone care? Of course not. More interesting is the decision of certain band members to change their stage names in a move that seems purely designed for new album La Ilden Lyse (Southern Lord Recordings), and which corresponds with a further evolution of the sextet’s direction.Continue reading
I’m just going to come right out and say it: Italy’s Forgotten Tomb is one of the most criminally underrated bands in the Harsh Doom arena, most probably because its early fanbase still feels aggrieved at its reinvention from a Black metal band. Get over it: it’s been that way for the last seventeen years and eight albums. With a solid unit existing throughout that period, it’s also safe to say that this is more than Herr Morbid‘s project, and new album Nihilistic Estrangement (Agonia Records) continues to display the trio’s ever-strengthening unity with expansions on the core sound.Continue reading
If a band consists of members from Ne Obliviscaris and Todtgelichter, it’s a fair bet that the results will be 1) bloody dark, 2) as mad as a sheep in a tree. Sure enough, Omega Infinity provides all of this, with the frosted vocal of the Aussies’ mystical Xenoyr tangling with the musical machinations of ‘lichter drummer and keyboardist Tentakel P for debut album Solar Spectre (Season of Mist).Continue reading
Anyone who thinks that Black Metal is a conservative and formulaic sound need only look at (amongst the plethora of progressive and avant-garde entities) Norwegian’s Vreid and how have incorporated outside and wider aspects into their black metal fabric. Whilst that more typical black metal sound is firmly at the band’s core, their willingness to bring in the sounds of Hard Rock and sixties and seventies influence has afforded them the “Black n’ Roll” moniker and thus helps them stand out in some capacity to many of their peers. Following on in this trend, eighth album, and first on Season Of Mist, Lifehunger is not only one of their strongest to date, but possibly the easiest of their catalogue to break into.Continue reading
Cloak is a good band. How’s that for the most obvious statement ever? Cloak is a very good band, especially considering that they’ve only been a unit since 2013. I know bands in the New England area that have been active for over 10 years and haven’t whiffed at a recording contract, let alone an international one. That’s why I have a bone to pick, albeit minor, with Cloak’s debut LP To Venomous Depths (Season of Mist). Continue reading
Nowadays rightly regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of Extreme Metal, at the time, Newcastle Neanderthals, Venom, were dismissed as hideous noise polluters by many of their numerous critics. Happily, Venom never gave one single, solitary fuck, and from 1981 to 1985 went on to consolidate themselves as one of the UK scene’s major players. From essential albums like Welcome to Hell, and Black Metal (Neat Records) to their parent-scaring live performance on Channel 4’s tea-time Metal show ECT (Extra Celestial Transmission), where many people got to witness stage diving for the first time, it was clear that Venom were a force to be reckoned with.Continue reading