Twenty-five years ago the world of the burgeoning global black metal scene was turned on its ear by Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Deathlike Silence) album. Already a thing of legend before one note was heard, its infamy and musical value are intertwined for all time, causing a lot of debate in the music community of which is the focal point for proper critique. Can we have one without the other? Not likely. A lot of words have been spent on this topic be it the marketing hype, drama, and even other mediums have focused and tribute paid to the history of Mayhem, the members passed away, past and present and the events in the run-up to the release of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, so we are not going to use that space here again. Continue reading
Five Finger Death Punch’s new album And Justice For None is fast approaching. Due out on May 18th from their new label Rise Records, the band is promising their fans what they have been missing in terms of new FFDP music. Hear the brand new single now ‘Sham Pain’, aimed at the music news media, who may or may not have exploited the popular bands’ status and issues for their own gain. Continue reading
One of the most controversial and iconic bands in the Norwegian black metal scene, for many years the extracurricular activities of Gorgoroth members eclipsed the music being recorded. We had the over-the-top blasphemy of the infamous Warsaw gig of 2004, complete with nude crucified models and sheep heads on spikes, the rape allegations levelled at founding member Infernus in 2006, then the schism a year later which saw imposing frontman Gaahl and songwriter/bassist King ov Hell fail in their attempt to wrest control of the band from Infernus.
Thankfully all these distractions appear to be at an end, although Infernus has been unable to hold onto a stable line-up. Ninth full-length studio effort Instinctus Bestialis (Soulseller), originally recorded in 2013, has finally been released with former Obituary member Frank Watkins (Bøddel) and Thomas Asklund returning on bass and drums, and newbie Atteringer stepping up to the mic. So, after all the drama of the past decade, has the six year wait since 2009’s Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt (Regain) been worth it?
Upon pressing play, it’s instantly apparent that the band’s trademark blasting ferocity has not been reined in one iota. The vicious, clipped riffing and light speed blastbeats of ‘Radix Malorum’ will quite simply pin your ears back. The same can be said of next track ‘Dionysian Rite’ with Infernus doubling-up furiously and one of the three (yes, three) hired lead guitarists adding slick pinch harmonics to proceedings. The breakdown is suitably sinister with Atteringer intoning “Intoxication!” like a deranged, drunken cult leader. ‘Ad Omnipotens Aeterne Diabolus’ starts off slowly and mournfully, playing around with different tempos and ideas including some vaguely Dissection tasting guitar lines.
While the band more or less perfected their style several years ago, somewhere between 2000’s Incipit Satan and 2003’s Twilight of the Idols (both Nuclear Blast), it’s evident that Infernus and his acolytes have plenty more to offer. The naked aggressiveness of the riffing could still blast all the snow off a Norwegian mountain-top with ease and the overriding feeling of being repeatedly pounded by the hammer of Satan is something that you can only get with a Gorgoroth album, and Instinctus Bestialis is no exception. The death metal that infects ‘Come Night’ and ‘Rage in His Light’ are welcome additions that prevent things from being too one-dimensional, with the fantastic solo in the latter raising the bar again.
One noticeable change from previous albums is the vocal style of Atteringer. Opting for a low-pitched growl instead of the high pitched shrieks and rasps favoured by previous vocalists Hat and Pest, his low, unhurried intonations lend proceedings a darker air, especially in the slower moments which allow the tension to build once more. The production is crisp, ensuring all instruments are heard, although the sheer prominence of the guitars and relentless drums in the mix at times threaten to turn things into a stew, but this is thankfully dodged.
Hopefully now the music will be all that matters, and with Instinctus Bestialis, Gorgoroth have re-established their position as standard bearers of the Norwegian second wave.
True Satanic Black Metal has never felt so alive.
Just when you thought winter was on its way out and happy, sun-drenched times were on the way, along come Forgotten Tomb with another slab of depressive black/gothic/doom metal to remind you that life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows; it’s full of pain and sorrow. Having said that, the Italian quartet are nowhere near as bleak as the raw black metal of their early days, and seventh full-length proper Hurt Yourself and the Ones You Love (Agonia) sees them crawl further from the crypt into the glare of stadium rock lights, albeit one located in the depths of your own personal hell.
Still heavily influenced by fellow travellers in woe Shining (the creepy black metal lot, not the jazz weirdos), Forgotten Tomb’s songwriting continues to improve, with big stomping riffs and twisted grooves propelling songs such as ‘King of the Undesirables’ forward with grim intent, like a reanimated corpse that wants your hand in unholy matrimony.
Of course, everything is still coated in an impenetrable layer of darkness that prevents these anti-anthems ever being acceptable to the normals in the light-world, even though there are plenty of mournful melodies that the likes of Paradise Lost and Katatonia would sacrifice their first born for. The frequent lurches into ragged, speedy black metal keeps things dangerous and reminds the listener that the band have not forgotten their twisted, blood-smeared roots.
They’re still eager to court controversy as proven by the eyebrow-raising cover art, album title and over-the top lyrics (“I’ll fuck your daughter, slit her throat then bathe in her blood” anyone?) but thankfully have the musical muscle to back it up. The repetitive, marching dirge of ‘Dread the Sundown’ is the longest walk to the gallows you will ever face while the cold emptiness of coda ‘Swallow the Void’ ends thing on a stark note.
Forgotten Tomb will never hit the big leagues but it would be a crying shame if they did. Their twisted talent and the uncompromising vision of frontman Herr Morbid is something that belongs in the underground, where it thrives away from the light. Hurt Yourself… is a grimly satisfying peek into that darkness.