American doom band Pallbearer has shared a new music video clip for their track ‘Thorns’. The track comes from their acclaimed 2017 release Heartless (Profound Lore, Nuclear Blast). The band also announced co-headline tour dates with Tribulation this fall. Continue reading
Metalcore veterans Being As An Ocean have developed a career of strong albums nad great live performances. Having left their relationship with Equal Vision Records, the band is planning an independent release, Waiting For Morning To Come, this fall. You can hear the first of two new singles, ‘Thorns,’ below. Continue reading
Pallbearer recently confirmed that they will be releasing their third LP, Heartless, on March 24th via Profound Lore Records in North America, and via Nuclear Blast in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Continue reading
Okay, what’s the deal with bands who name themselves after song titles? Being honest about your influences is one thing, of course, but naming yourself after an album- or song-title – especially when it’s from an acknowledged classic of your genre – seems like one step up from being a tribute band and only playing covers.
Stellar Master Elite, you won’t be surprised to learn, are rather fond of Thorns, and the music on III: Eternalism – The Psychospherical Chapter (Essential Purification) takes its main cues from their eponymous classic debut. Shimmering, riff-heavy Black(ish) Metal drenched in spacey synths and effect-laden vocals, it also borrows openly from 666 International (Moonfog) and Grand Declaration Of War (Season of Mist/Necropolis), firmly embracing that late-90’s vision of the future that’s starting to sound like an artefact of a specific place and time. Not that this is pure nostalgia – they’ve also picked up a beefy modern sound that lends a weight and power that few of its predecessors had.
There’s a lot to like about Eternalism – some genuinely effective riffs, a good sense of atmosphere and a strong vocal performance in particular can validate time invested in it – but just as many things against it. It’s very late 90s approach to experimentalism sounds almost twee compared to (slightly) more recent BM deviants like Blut Aus Nord or DSO. The slow pace and reliance on spooky noises can sap some of the energy from the music and create moments of boredom. Most of all, though, they suffer in comparison to the band they’ve taken their name from – while their sound is superficially very similar to that of Thorns, they lack the feeling of sheer, unbridled creativity and otherness that made that album such a punch in the face at the time.
Competent, often engaging but, ultimately, too content to simply re-tread someone else’s former glories, Eternalism is an album that just doesn’t have enough of its own character to justify its existence in a world where “weird” and “experimental” are often more common than generic.
Most bands go through different periods of stagnation and productivity, however there are few that can boast such extreme fluctuations in releases as French based Blut Aus Nord. For a career that began with an almost well-paced output, recent years have seen a flurry of work unleashed. For many bands this can see a slip in the quality or consistency of their records, however Blut Aus Nord defy this trend, being one of the few bands that manage to astound with every album, consistently defying expectations. While every album may be different and offer a new musical direction, there’s no denying that they all have a distinct sound that only main man Vindsval can achieve. Their latest offering is no exception.
Saturnian Poetry (Debemur Morti) comes in as the third album in the Memoria Vetusta series, following on from Fathers of the Icy Age (Impure Creations) in 1996 and more recently Dialogue with the Stars (Candlelight) in 2009 and quickly proves the most relatable of the series, and of Vindsval’s work as of late, particularly when compared to his 777 series or even his most recent split with P.H.O.B.O.S., Triunity (Debemur Morti), and is one of the best-defined and most enjoyable albums the band has released to date. Many of their previous releases have tended towards the avant-garde, alienating the listener with dissonant harmonies and awkward time changes, however Saturnian Poetry takes a step back from this constant push towards new ground. Some may view this as regression, falling back into the vast realms of relatable music, but the album still carries the distinct Blut Aus Nord sound without feeling like they have traded in any of their principals, or turned to a more mainstream position.
Vast ethereal landscapes captured in layers of distortion, erratic drumming and harrowed screams throw us into a desolate but majestic landscape. There is truly only one way to describe this album: cold. Despite its tendency towards grand melodic lines, Saturnian Poetry avoids large symphonic instrumentals, instead making the guitars the main feature of the music with majestic chord progressions backed by occasional synth or vocal lines. It does however contain Vindsval’s usual tendency towards progressive structuring, rapidly twisting through varying soundscapes as each song unfolds. There is also a marked improvement in production quality, and with such an intensive mix of instrumentation lines, this allows the subtler touches to shine through.
This release also marks the entrance of drummer Thorns, whose vast collection of previous work includes Frostmoon Eclipse, Deathrow and Acherontas. While previous albums have featured talented collaborations with artists or programming by Vindsval, Thorns seems to gel naturally with the music in a way that the others haven’t managed in the past. His tendency towards unusual patterns, breaks and crashes seem a natural part of the music, and often prove some of the most compelling performances on Saturnian Poetry.
Opening on a soft electronic intro with ‘prelude’, it’s a deceptively calm start before the ravages of ‘Paien’ kick in and the sound of the album truly unfolds. Both ‘Paien’ and ‘Tellus Mater’ set a vast, majestic tone that carries through, allowing for soaring vocal lines and large but chaotic guitar parts. There are few moments on the album that really steps back to allow the listener to rest, save for the intro and sections of ‘Forhist,’ whose mid-tempo riffs are often interspersed with manic fills across the drum kit. While the album fits together best as a whole rather than being taken by its individual parts, it’s ‘Henosis’ that provides the stand out moments. Opening on the albums more majestic sound, it intersperses hints of Blut Aus Nord’s more dissonant tendencies halfway through the track, an effective and welcome nod to previous work while simultaneously embracing the new style.
‘Metaphor of the Moon’ and ‘Clarissima Mundi Lumina’ take this another step further when closing the album with a subtle shift in sound. Low growls and stabs of awkward uneasy guitar cutting through, these tracks are significantly darker than the others – each track is a descent toward the closing darkness and demands the listeners full attention if they ever hope to draw the best out of this album.
Saturnian Poetry sees Vindsval provide some of his most compelling music to date and further cements Blut Aus Nord as one of the most exciting black metal acts in the scene today.
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As any fool who follows the metal scene can tell you, there’s one hell of a lot of albums out there to listen to. New bands are emerging at an unprecedented rate, the old guard you thought long-dead are reforming quicker than you can say “Greatest Hits Tour” and bands that really should just lay down and die are instead locked into a seemingly never-ending cycle of record/tour/record, regardless of whether their fans have had enough. Grave Digger, Illdisposed and Paganizer have released forty albums between them. Does anyone own any of them? Thought not…
So, what about the bands who released just one full-length before disappearing into obscurity? What impact have these single-figured artists had on our beloved scene? The answer is quite a bit. More than quite a bit, in fact… With that in mind Ghost Cult is proud to present the fifteen essential albums by bands that only gave us one opportunity to hear their wares.
Read on and see if you agree.
Repulsion – Horrified (Necrosis, 1989)
Once regarded as the fastest band in the world, along with being one of the innovators of grindcore along with Napalm Death and Terrorizer, Flint, Michigan trio Repulsion released Horrified in 1989 to a largely unsuspecting public. Its light-speed, hideously ugly legacy has endured to this day, with the band still headlining festival stages on the strength of this one 29-minute recording. Featuring some of the most frantic, caustic riffage ever captured, along with suitably sickening lyrics and of course, that iconic goofy zombie on the front cover, Horrified is an extreme metal classic that you will never get tired of spinning. If you don’t lose your shit when the riff to ‘Black Breath’ begins you probably aren’t human.
Carnage – Dark Recollections (Necrosis, 1990)
When you think of Swedish Death Metal the obvious names that spring to mind are Entombed, At the Gates and Dismember, but there is one often overlooked act whose contribution to the genre is utterly essential. They were Carnage, five spotty oiks from Stockholm whose sole release Dark Recollections was perhaps the purest embodiment of the Sunlight sound that all bands of the genre strived for; buzzsaw guitars, twisted melodies and indecipherable barked lyrics concerning violence and death. Given the whiff of grindcore that imbued the recording it was unsurprising that guitarist Mike Amott soon jumped ship to join Carcass while the rest of the band merged with the remnants of Dismember. However, the spirit of Dark Recollections was absorbed into that band, a more than fitting legacy for an album of such macabre excellence.
Winter – Into Darkness (Future Shock, 1990)
Picture if you will, planet Earth devastated by a nuclear holocaust; a grey, rotting visage of sunless skies, obliterated cityscapes and blasted landscapes. Now imagine that some malign sorcery has resurrected the corpses of Celtic Frost to be this ruined world’s own house band, playing endlessly on only for the benefit of the endless piles of corpses that stretch to the blackened horizon. This is what Into Darkness by New York trio Winter sounds like. Arguably one of the most miserable, lifeless recordings of all time, this is a tortuous forty-six minute crawl through wretchedness via the medium of lethargic doom riffs, clattering percussion and gruff, indifferent vocals. You’re not meant to enjoy it and it’s no surprise Winter only managed one EP after committing this monstrosity to tape.
God Macabre – The Winterlong (M.B.R., 1993)
Another Swedish death metal act that lasted all too briefly, that isn’t to say that Vålberg’s God Macabre didn’t have the talent, as anyone who has spent time with the short but sick The Winterlong will enthusiastically tell you. Far more morose and bitter sounding than most death metal albums that were being released at that time, their sole release may have only lasted twenty-seven minutes but the songs on offer had ‘timeless’ stamped all over them, blending catchy yet savage riffs with mournful melodies and an innate disgust and horror at life. Recently re-issued with the band reforming last year, now is the time for those unacquainted with this forgotten classic to recognise one of the most important bands in death metal, in Sweden or anywhere.
Disincarnate – Dreams of the Carrion Kind (Roadrunner, 1993)
With death metal already beginning to show signs of creative stagnation in 1993, it took the twisted vision of one of the genre’s most talented and well-travelled soldiers to show that all was not lost and that where there was death there was life. Enter James Murphy, who after stints in Death and Obituary decided to take the lead, which he did with the utterly brilliant Dreams of the Carrion Kind under the Disincarnate name. If you thought Death had started to sacrifice songwriting in favour of technicality, found Obituary a tad dull and Suffocation a bit too over the top then your prayers were answered, for Murphy somehow managed to filter all the plus points and none of the weaknesses from those aforementioned bands into one of the darkest, endlessly fascinating and still inherently listenable Death Metal albums of all time. Their split was a tragedy that often comes with an excess of talent but news that the band has reformed is a hopeful sign that more people will soon become aware of Dreams of the Carrion Kind and the brilliance of James Murphy.