Avant-garde and dark Danish metallers Heilung have found their world crossing paths with Game of Thrones! The bands’ music made it into the HBO Latin America trailer for Game of Thronesseason 8, which you can see below. Warning, there are spoilers for the entire series and the books by George R.R. Martin in this trailer! The band just announced plans for their second album, Futha, due out 28th of June 2019 via Season of Mist. The band is about to kick off a huge run of tour dates and exclusive festival appearances, including Roadburn, Coppenhell, Tuska, Midgardsblot and many more! Continue reading
Daemonia Nymphe is unlike any music you have heard in 2018. Even if you are regular traveler of the unconventional, more avant-garde flavored corner of the pagan and folk genres, this enchanting group will thrill you with their compositions and performances that have much in common with the lighter moments of Enslaved, Arkona, Agalloch, Thrawsunblat, and Wardruna. They just re-released their album Psychostasia last month on Bandcamp, and the group had decided to share their haunting new song ‘The Journey of the Psyche’, and their new video today here at Ghost Cult! Continue reading
In today’s largely homogenised music scene, we’re always desperate for a “new” sound and bands that mix and mashup old styles to create something new always get plenty of attention. With their debut album, Black Wash (EVP/Hassle) Melbourne, Australia’s Pagan promises to unite the world’s two biggest consumers of black eyeliner; emos and black metallers. Continue reading
Metal has always truly embraced the adventurous into its ranks; from its captivating and well versed origins where it proved like nothing else of its time to the hundreds of varying offshoots it presents to this very day, it is abundantly clear that metal is as much a way of life and thinking as it is simply a style of music. Continue reading
The relationship between Metal and Folk has allowed for continuing crossover and in terms of imagery, tone and aesthetic they are often intrinsically linked together. There are of course there are the purely bombastic Folk Metal bands that often invoke a booze culture, but there are also the likes of Wardruna, who offer authentic pagan folk instrumentation and scope yet still prove unquestionably rooted in the metal fraternity. Continue reading
After four long years of waiting, the Finnish black metal troubadours Baptism have finally regaled us with a new album; V: The Devil’s Fire (Season of Mist). Their newest effort follows their 2012 release As Darkness Enters.
From the very start of the record, the production is a pleasant surprise. Whereas most black metal bands seek the “trve kvlt” sound of low-fi recordings, this albums benefits from a very crisp and clear sound. Every instrument has its own place in the aural painting and the vocals are nestled in quite nicely.
Next to the tremolo-picked chords, the blast beats in triplets, and the Abbath-like growling vocals – all must-haves in black metal – Baptism also ventures into very melodic (almost post-black) sections with original chord progressions, which give you a moment to breathe between the old school black pummeling. The song ‘The Sacrament Of Blood And Ash’ introduces the melodic meandering to the listener quite well, with the help of the death/doom outfit Swallow the Sun’s vocalist Mikko Kotamäki. Mr. Kotamäki’s haunting vocals compliment the first gloomy respite of the album very nicely. His vocals complete the gloomy, weary, almost desperate atmosphere of the instrumentation.
Moving ever further down the line, ‘Abyss’ and ‘Cold Eternity’ further explore another venture away from the traditional black metal sound. Earlier on in the album Baptism already hints at a Pagan influence in their songwriting, which comes to true fruition in these two songs. The arrangements, very reminiscent of England’s Winterfylleth, project vivid mental images of veteran pagan warriors contemplating their battles and losses, and the feeling one gets when aimlessly wandering around ancient forests.
All in all, Baptisms fifth studio release is a solid black metal bastion, with a fresh twist. Purists might argue that it is not “black enough”, but for a casual of curious listener it is a very solid record. Most importantly, the reason I did not single out any band member in particular, is that the band sounds like a unified front. A solid record by a solid band.
SAM C.A. VAN DE LEUR
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Serenity from Austria releases their fifth album Codex Atlanticus via Napalm Records on 29 January 2016. The opening of Codex Atlanticus sounds like a soundtrack for some epic heroic battle. There are lots of violins and ethereal vocalizing. As it moves forward you are swept up in the grandiose music and then it abruptly ends. I halfway expected our hero to come bursting forth, sword in hand to take on the bad guy. But no, then came some really nice piano music and the crushing sound of rock and roll which quickly led to electronica prog. A lot of stuff is happening and ‘Follow Me’ hasn’t even been on for a minute. The vocals kick in and I’m transported to the 90s and Japanese cartoons. I swear, Georg Neuhauser sounds like the go to singer for every awesome Japanese anime series. You want to sing along whilst striking a pose in a mirror.
Neuhauser’s vocals aren’t the only things that are inspiring. The sheer cacophony of composition on Codex Atlanticus is uplifting. From Andreas Schipflinger’s drumming to Jan Vacik on keyboards. Codex Atlanticus may at first sound cheesy, but let yourself go and get lost in the music. It makes you feel good! The lyrics are uplifting and powerful. The more you listen to this album, the better it becomes. For example, ‘Iniquity’ is a song that Iron Maiden wishes they wrote. It’s got great guitars, awesome soloing, epic auxiliary music, and meaningful lyrics without being boring and heavy handed. ‘Iniquity’ is definitely my favourite track on the album!
Codex Atlanticus is multilayered. The compositions are chalk full of twists and turns. ‘My Final Chapter’, for example, starts out with a pagan influenced flute and adds power ballad vocals. It’s an interesting mix. At 2:28 a strong 80s hair metal guitar solo crashes in and uplifts the song. Codex Atlanticus is full of such juxtapositions. Serenity’s Codex Atlanticus is a solid progressive orchestral saga soundtrack album.
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One of the oddest things about metal is how it can strive so hard for originality and identity yet remain so indebted to established concepts and trends that the entire thing becomes an exercise in futility. Folk metal and its offshoots Celtic and Viking metal are three of the biggest offenders, recycling the same old tales of romanticised warriors spurning the advance of Christianity with their noble warriors and earth-worshipping traditions, and refusing to admit that Bathory stopped being good when Quorthorn swapped darkness and evil for pomp and circumstance. Throwing in as many ‘traditional’ instruments as the recording budget allows is apparently a measure of how authentic a band is and in an effort to prove this, Italians Furor Gallico have dug very deep indeed.
While the numerous band members can undoubtedly play their instruments very well, with the jovial Celtic melodies of the tin whistle ever flowing and the soothing violin giving proceedings a minor touch of class, the music itself is so heavily indebted to Swiss neighbours Eluveitie that one wonders why they just don’t declare themselves a tribute act and be done with it. From the budget melo-death riffs that fail to capture the imagination when the aforementioned whistle has ceased to the generic grunts and snarls of vocalist Pagan (yes, really), almost everything on the band’s sophomore effort Songs from the Earth (Scarlet) is derivative, cliché-ridden and has been already been done before and better. Some hope is offered by the Thin Lizzy meets Finntroll mashup of ‘Squass’ and the stirring melodies of ‘Wild Jig of Beltaine’ but this is scant reward for the eye-watering sixty-four minute slog the band have served up here.
If Furor Gallico put as much effort into forging their own identity and sound instead of expertly replicating their elders and betters then they could be something special. Until then, a lowly slot on the Paganfest tour will likely be the pinnacle of their achievements.
I love repeating myself as much as the next narcissist, but even I’m starting to get tired of talking about the inherent contradictions in “metallic” Dark Ambient. The Universe doesn’t want me to stop, however, and have sent Trepaneringsritualen & Sutekh Hexen (T&SH – I’m not typing that again) to record a live album. The live album – sloppy, raw and drenched in shouts and cheers – seems the very essence of Metal’s Rock n’ Roll heritage, and the exact antithesis of such a delicate, deliberate style of music as Dark Ambient, but One Hundred Year Storm (Pesanta Urfolk) is a two-track, hour long live recording of Pagan/Ritual Ambient that’s easier to imagine coming from a studio.
The good news is that it works surprisingly well, T&SH building up an effect atmosphere through the use of static, guitar drones and distorted vocals. One reason for the success is that this is much more dynamic than a lot Dark Ambient – though atmosphere is still paramount, each track has a sense of moving forward towards a particular goal. Things “happen”, to put it crudely, and the music avoids the aimlessness that their peers sometimes fall into. The sound is generally effective, though sometimes a little distant or fuzzy, and the different layers of sound are clearly audible.
As I’ve already mentioned, however, One Hundred Year Storm is a live album – and that means crowd noise. There is something genuinely disorientating about the cheers and clapping that sometimes breaks out during quieter moments. This is music that builds atmosphere and tension – having a bunch of “Wooh! Yeah!”’s intrude upon that is like watching someone doodle a smiley face on a piece of modern art, and can drag you rather awkwardly from the effect T&SH create.
One Hundred Year Storm is a genuinely effective, captivating piece of dynamic Ambient Noise, and possibly a good starting place for Metallers who want to explore this style but fear that it may bore them.