The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex

A cold nocturnal Scandinavian wind blows; icy tendrils stabbing southwards, searching, seeking for blackened hearts to infect. The hosts wait, apprehensive, yet welcoming, ideas already pregnant. The frost-bitten hunter swirls at first, before plunging its whole intent deep into the waiting prey. Saarbrücken, Germany, nominally a thriving, modern economic centre, is now the scene for the cultivation of a different type of essence, for that which grows inside it is not the spirit of commerce, but The Spirit of melodic blackened metal. Continue reading

Délétère – De Horae Leprae

Québécois Black Metallers Délétère have often had an air of mystique and the outrageous in their cannon, and the overriding narrative of latest album De Horae Leprae (Sepulchral Productions) is arguably more conceptual, with it being devoted to “Teredinis, a simple leper whose calling it is to become a prophet of Centipedes, as well as an incarnation of the Plague.” With such a vivid and eccentric conceptual idea behind it, its surprising to note that De Horae Leprae is a comparatively simplistic listen, albeit one with plenty of wealth. Continue reading

Scumpulse – Rotten

Full disclosure here, something about Scumpulse piqued my interest enough to pick this one out of the myriad of potential albums to assault my ears with for review, but at the time, I wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe it was that I expected fun, ugly grindcore (which this isn’t)? Maybe it’s that I trust the source that it came from? Or just maybe it’s because the UK is a hotbed of talented, abrasive, creative intent bubbling and broiling just below the surface of everyone’s conscious right now and I didn’t want to miss out on the next thrilling, grimy rendition? Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE: Wintersun’s Jari Mäenpää Talks Musical Influences

In this exclusive album preview for Ghost Cult, Wintersun mastermind Jari Mäenpää discusses is his biggest musical influences. You can watch the video below.  Continue reading

Ancient Ascendant – Raise The Torch

As far back as 2008, with the independently released EP The Heathen Throne, Ancient Ascendant have been very clear in their intentions. And with a couple more EPs and two very well received albums under their belts, the English Black/Death Metal quartet have raised the bar again with latest full length, Raise The Torch (Candlelight). Continue reading

Saille – Gnosis

Stirring from a creeping lilt into a frictional sprawl, Symphonic Black Metal artisans Saille usher in their fourth album, Gnosis. Its predecessor, Eldritch (both Aural/code666) made great strides to establish this cerebral aggressor as an act of pedigree and violence; a burgeoning reputation that this darker, more ferocious offspring will serve only to further. Continue reading

Temple of Baal – Mysterium

Temple-of-Baal-Mysterium

The amalgamation of black and death metal (often referred to as blackened death) has been successfully utilized by many bands; Dissection and Behemoth perhaps the most distinguished. It’s an unholy union that blends the macabre frostiness of black metal with the tempo and technicality of death metal. Temple of Baal hail from Paris and evoke just that with their latest release, Mysterium (Agonia). Despite being active since 1998 they have only released five full length albums and a handful of splits, one of which being alongside the phenomenal black metal band Sargeist. Momentum really got going in 2003 with the release of Servants of the Beast (Oaken Shield) and from then on the band has become more and more prolific, releasing albums every couple of years.

Their chosen theme of spirituality and religiosity is immediately apparent through the track titles alone, with songs like ‘Lord of Knowledge and Death’, ‘Hosanna’ & ‘Holy Art Thou’ being somewhat of a clue. But fear not, this is no Christian metal atrocity as the band clearly state, “Mysterium can be seen as a collection of meditations and prayers over the mysteries of Faith, directed towards the gods of the left hand path”. This prominent theme is further enforced by ritualistic sections interspersed throughout the record, epitomized in ‘Dictum Ignis’ which is an ideal accompaniment to any satanic ritual.

Aggressive and forceful, ‘Lord of Knowledge and Death’ makes no apologies for its brutal onslaught, a devastating riff interrupts the atmospheric introduction and it’s full on chaos from here on out. The riffs are piercing and well layered for a full, thick sound. Temple of Baal are all about variation, not wanting to stagnate they inject their music with different styles and sounds. ‘Magna Gloria Tua’ begins with a disorientating swirl of noise before unleashing some pummelling death metal, whilst ‘All In Your Name’ employs riffs more akin to the black metal sound. ‘Holy Art Thou’ is bursting with malice; the lyrics “Holy Art Thou!” are growled with utter venom. Exceptional fretwork shines through on the album, and is without a doubt the most memorable component, crushing yet technical and melodic, each riff serves a purpose whilst adding vigour and captivating variation.

Mysterium is a spiritual journey down the left hand path of darkness and iniquity, a remarkable journey that is without doubt unforgettable. Bow down and worship at the Temple of Baal.

 

7.5/10

 

HEATHER BLEWETT

De Profundis – Kingdom Of The Blind

DeProfundisKingdomOfTheBlind

Last time out, 2012’s The Emptiness Within (Kolony), progressive deathsters De Profundis lit the touch paper of anticipation by spinning a twisted tower dire of cacophonous, methodical strands of tight, technical metal all wrapped taut in a very promising third album. Follow on by refining and developing the song-writing elements on Kingdom Of The Blind (Wickerman) would surely see De Profundis crowned as cyclopic kings?

Having stopped a gap with last years’ Frequencies EP (also Wickerman), two-thirds of the original material of which is regurgitated here, Kingdom Of The Blind (once we’re past the obligatory “atmospheric classical” intro – yawn), throws an interesting initial curve ball, as ‘Kult Of The Orthodox’ unfurls with a discordant melodic fury, before settling into a stately deathly march. Unfortunately it seems Tom Atherton has borrowed Nicko McBrain’s biscuit tin for a snare, as heard on No Prayer For The Dying (EMI), and the distracting “pah-pah-pah” takes away from a fine couple of Dissection tinged riffs.

Settling down after its’ initial divergence, Kingdom Of The Blind soon finds a comfort zone… though maybe not for the protagonists, whose dexterous performances risk finger-cramp at times.  While mid-paced death metal, decorated with melodious and frequent leads and both progressive and technical deviances is the order of the day, once the early cards have been dealt there are few surprises to light the way.

Lacking either a truly innovative spark – the jazzy breakout in ‘All Consuming’ accompanied by the (though very complex) fretless bass noodling of Arran McSporran arrives as expected, neither shocking nor adding any particular dynamic embellishment to the song – or series of hooks to overly distinguish the tracks from each other, Kingdom Of The Blind competently passes by with its contorted mesh of riffs, overlaid with some Gregor Mackintosh-esque leads.

With touches of (very) early My Dying Bride in their more death metalling moments, and with more than a nod to the excellent Disincarnate and legendary Death (natch), De Profundis have turned in a decent, if safe, slab of progressive death metal that doesn’t reach the levels promised by its’ predecessor. Expectation can be a bugger, hey?

 

6.5/10

 

STEVE TOVEY