ALBUM REVIEW: Okkultokrati – La Ilden Lyse

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

ALBUM REVIEW: Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement

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

ALBUM REVIEW: Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre

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

Vreid- Lifehunger

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 – To Venomous Depths

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

Venom Inc. – Avé

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

Alfahanne – Det Nya Svarta

Alfahanne reminds me of Mötley Crüe circa Theatre of Pain. They had an edgy flair and a taste for real danger, but were a bit vacant when it came to the music. The pseudo black n’ roll found in Det Nya Svarta (Indie) isn’t as compelling or as exciting as the exterior presentation would suggest. And if any Mötley Crüe fans are reading this, Theatre of Pain ain’t that hot. The Crüe found their groove on the very solid Dr. Feelgood (both Elektra). Continue reading

Alfahanne – Blod Eld Alfa


The blurb on the label’s website for “Black ‘n’ Roll” outfit Alfahanne says they mix “Black Metal with Classic Rock and Punk” topped off with some “Goth influences”. Well – at least they’re managing expectations.

Whilst broadly true, this mixture fails to produce anything particularly interesting on the band’s latest effort – Blod Eld Alfa (Dark Essence). Weak, repetitive “riffs” coupled with lacklustre production reminiscent of so many mid-90s demo CDs conspire to produce a weak, reedy sound that ultimately fails to evoke any metal claws, banging heads, Sid Vicious sneers or Sisters of Mercy wafts.

The insipidly limp drums sound like a budget drum machine left on repeat, the guitars sound like they’re being played by zombies and the vocals (that seem to be trying to ape one of Dani Filth‘s trademarks for a whole album) sound like they were recorded in Mum’s kitchen.

In a 9-track album of tedium, only 1 song – ‘Skallerormsgift’ – inspires any comment. It’s fairly atmospheric, displaying some Goth chops, a bit of rhythmic variety, shouty vocals that presumably comprise the claim to “Punk” and a pleasant outro that crescendos nicely. Hmmm. That’s not very Black Metal is it?

The band say this music should stop you from feeling pleasure or pain. This leads me to conclude that they set out to record an album of musical anaesthetic. If so, they have excelled themselves.





Man The Machetes – Av Nag


With bright, trebly intent ‘De Sier Nie!’ brashly hurtles out of the speakers before Christopher Iversen’s  raspy shouts pick up the intensity, kicking off Av Nag (Indie Recordings),  Man The Machete’s second enthusiastic blast of slapping you round the face with blackened punk n’ roll.

While their debut Ideokrati (Indie) drew accurate comparisons to fellow countrymen Kvelertak, it was nonetheless a well-received bundle of energy and brattishness. In terms of their continued similarity to the Stavanger sextet, differences are starting to emerge, though this is more due to the ‘tak’s own progression and development than any deviation on the part of Man The Machetes, whose open chord attack and full-throat abrasiveness continues unabated and in similar vein.

And Av Nag is certainly a vibrant and vigorous beast, with the Machetes aware that to maintain interest on an album where most songs do sound remarkably similar that they have to pump the six-strings with diesel powered strumming arms, keep the energy and belligerence high, and each hell-for-denim magic carpet ride short and not-so-sweet.

The triple axe attack of Morten Dischington Carlsson, Erlend Sætren and Markus Lind Aase provide plenty of melody, with leads and licks swirling in and out of the maelstrom molten chord battery that powers tracks like ‘Mennesketrapp’, while the rhythm section of Per Christian Holm (drums) and Erik Fossmo (bass) bring a nautical swing to standout tune ‘Tung Luft’ and a stoner fuzz and bounce to ‘Ørkenmarsj’.

Av Nag is an album that abounds with melodic aggression; short and sharp, but providing no shock as it competently rides the Kvelertak coat-tail train. A capable, proficient and enjoyable roll in the knives.





Satyricon – Oslo Faenskap – Vredehammer: Live at Nijmegen, Doornroosje NL


The day before Easter Sunday we set out to see the Norwegian Satyricon open their latest European tour, the only one of this year they announced. Supporting their recent Live At The Opera (Napalm) DVD, the band have decided to do things in their own time and their own way this time around.

When we arrive just before the time the show is about to start we’re met with closed room doors and a susurrus of rumors in the waiting crowd. Satyricon arrived later than expected, and now the stage still has to be set and soundchecks done. The time is pushed back half an hour, and both supporting acts, Oslo Faenskap and Vredehammer, were reduced to 15 minute sets.

Oslo Faenskap, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Oslo Faenskap, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Oslo Faenskap take the stage first with fire and verve, determined to show us 15 minutes can be convincing. The crowd however doesn’t agree and no matter how much the band try to be brutal, badass and ‘fucking” make us move, most people stare at them in polite patience. The fact the band play a mix of more modern metal styles, best characterized by metalcore and nu metal influences, and their overblown stage presence as an opener just don’t strike the right chord today, while their effort is praiseworthy.

Vredehammer, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Vredehammer, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

After a quick changeover we get Vredehammer who are clearly unhappy about the unexpected shortening of their set. It means the band only play two songs, as quipped at by their vocalist Per Valla; “this is the shortest set in history”. The crowd responds to the Norwegian black metal outfit better than they did to Oslo Faenskap, and start to warm up. Both bassist and guitarist of the band give a valiant effort, but less than optimal sound on the drums and general mix mean some of the more delicate atmospheres of the band disappear into tinny drums and a general feeling of potential but too little time.

Satyricon, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis.

Satyricon, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis.

And then for the main course of this musical meal: Satyricon. The crowd who had stayed mostly in the back of the room slowly mill forward, finally giving the venue a cozily full feeling. The anticipation in the front few rows can be felt on your skin as an almost electric shiver passes through the crowd when finally the iconic mic-stand, covered in horns, is brought on stage. The band arrives to the tones of ‘Voice of Shadows’ to loud cheers from the audience and a forest of raised fists and horns. The bar is immediately set incredibly high as the band launch into their two hour long set full speed, playing new and old tunes alike, though favoring their post-Vulcano repertoire. The crowd seamlessly answers front man Satyr’s every suggestion, as they shout on command and are coaxed to throw horns and even form a moshpit. Satyr explains that the few tours the band will do from now on will be special, and tonight they would like to share with us some work in progress ideas for songs, as they launch into three instrumental pieces. Sadly in the second of these jams Satyr’s guitar gives out and it takes half the tune to get it set again, but even that cannot ruin the performance as the fans happily listen to what might become new material. Ending the set on the classic ‘Mother North’, to which the full crowd sing along, the band leave the stage. The crowd waits in eager anticipation for their encore, consisting of hit songs ‘Fuel For Hatred’ and ‘K.I.N.G.’, after which a glowing band thank their fans with one of many bows. We leave the venue at the respectable hour of midnight, to the gentle tones of ‘Natt’ as the outro, happily satisfied that a gig that seemed plagued by Murphy’s Law at first persevered and after a rough start soared to heights only a veteran band and like Satyricon can deliver.


Satyricon, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis.

Satyricon, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis.

Satyricon, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis.

Satyricon, Photo by Susanne A. Maathuis.

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