Record of the Week: Instinct – The Black Wound

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The more you return the more you will find.
On first impression, The Black Wound may appear to be a meandering, atmospheric and largely ‘ambient’ album. Good, but maybe not standout.
Go back. Within the dense, slow progressions the layers begin to separate. The repeated theme on Thunor Hycgh with its dissonant sting, the fleeting sweet riff buried in Chamber Dark. Touches like that continue until it’s clear Verst has laboured and layered and built a very impressive third album!

BURZUM, abstractly, is a comparison. Intelligent repetition and disciplined song writing. It’s meant respectfully.

Ambience does still play a strong role in the overall atmosphere. Each song fades undramatically into a dark and desolate droning which eventually consumes everything and comprises part II of the title track.

I am the only one who will ever truly understand the significance and meaning of Instinct beyond the musical…

One thing we do know, INSTINCT is nature worship. Blood and bone. The music radiates mystery without pretension, and I think it’s safe to recommend listening is isolation. Whether that’s sheltered or surrounded by vast empty landscapes, there you will find some truth.

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Record of the Week: Excessum – Death Redemption (Review)

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A return had been hinted for a while, but it was still a surprise to hear new material from EXCESSUM last month. Over ten years have passed since the release of Death Redemption, their last album.

Released in 2005 amid an abundance of Swedish black metal releases, specifically the sound and ideology associated with NED and Sweden’s SPR. EXCESSUM belong comfortably in that set, comparing favourably to some of the NED roster, early WATAIN, and DISSECTION to a lesser degree. It does feel more measured and less chaotic than their contemporaries, partly due to the slightly muddy production, but principally the sombre atmosphere filled with great riffs as on the triumphant Lies of the Deceiver.
Guitars bring consistent, evocative Scandinavian black metal, the bass is steady, drums natural, vocals hoarse and shrouded. The lyrical content is and remains consistent, most members have formed or continued bands exploring the same strains of forbidden knowledge.
Originally overlooked or frequently dismissed as derivative, this album does deserve attention approaching that still granted to bands from the same era.

Before and after EXCESSUM members have been active in the Swedish underground with bands such as MATRICIDE, HUMAN DEATH and THE ASCENDANT. Most recently guitarist/vocalist D.C. has been playing live with GRIFT.

Death Redemption remains a great work. The two new songs released this year are excellent, familiar EXCESSUM with 10 years of growth. We will see if this remains their final full length…

Record of the Week: Regiment – On Les Aura (Review)

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Black/Death Metal summoning the French military experience of the Grande Guerre.

Taking inspiration directly from contemporary artifacts and ephemera, the intention with this record is to produce something more personal and critical than a straightforward glorification of war. The cover and title – of and spoken by Philippe Pétain. Commander during the Battle of Verdun who is also remembered for his treatment of mutinous soldiers hints at some of the paradoxes. These nuances are confined to the lyrics and artwork. The music is never so introspective. To it’s benefit. A barrage of thickly produced black and death metal (in equal measure) and bestial vocals. Powerful and driving. Here are reflections of blood and destruction to be exalted or questioned in the lyrics. There is some influence from heavy metal riffing. La mort du Nègre (inspired at least in part by Conrad’s The Nigger of the Narcissus) displays the influence most potently, similar to ARGHOSLENT‘s blending of death and NWOBHM.

Formed in 2011 by guitarist Hyvermor of HANTERNOZ (Celtic history) and E (Sumerian history) the lineup includes BORGIA vocalist Géraud de Verenhe, AORLHAC bassist Marc, and Thomas Jacquelin who drums with several black and doom bands. Not as barbaric as war metal or so riff heavy and melodic to be instantly memorable, this is black metal with all the above elements performed by an experienced group; a very good 25 minute album.

Record of the Week: Mortiis – Født til å Herske (Review)

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MORTIIS released his debut through Malicious in 1993. An early release by the label, home to several Norwegian legends until around 96.
These two 25+ minutes songs, recorded with nothing more than a JV30, lack the bombast and scale of later albums or the previous demo. Instead it’s power comes from the sombre, drifting atmosphere – dark, mysterious, ancient… entirely solitary and plaintive.
Intentionally repetitive, not unlike BURZUM‘s ambient (a direct influence), variations emerge gradually, each Part ending in emergent crescendo. Built by layering, evolved and expanded, the result is an hour of excellent dark “dungeon” ambient without the high drama of later albums.

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ROTW: Adorior – Author of Incest (Review)

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ADORIOR of the 2000s became an unassailable force of late eighties thrash at it’s most extreme (ala DARK ANGEL) as it contorted into early death (ala MORBID ANGEL, ORDER FROM CHAOS) with black metal techniques setting much of the foundation, driven to excess by the relentless hammering of bands like REVENGE and AXIS OF ADVANCE. All held tight with intense songwriting and a strong studio production. Never entirely distant from those bands or those with similar influences like comrades DESTROYER 666, but not at all generic and as an LP stands on it’s own merits entirely as one of the UK’s best!

The whole thing has a personal immediacy at it’s heart. The barbarism is not cloaked in much mystery, the intent is a fist (…of the master!) to your skull: brutal and direct. Crushed. Melissa’s vocals howl and roar through the maelstrom, a centrepiece of the album. The message and delivery is savage and proud. Swords and semen, an orgiastic descent into blasphemy. A killer performance.

A rampage of unrestrained hatred and perversion. There are few records that capture and execute the elation of volatile aggression and blood boiling fury like Author of Incest.

Record of the Week: Ohtar – When I Cut the Throat (Review)

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An excellent first album by OHTAR.
Both members (former vocalist Raborym left to focus on DARK FURY) were also recording as SELBSTMORD during the same period. Where SELBSTMORD is raw and vicious, OHTAR is dense, burdened and melancholic. That weight comes from its strong and prominent bass and a deeper, cleaner production.
Introverted lyrics – dark and angry, nihilistic. Tormented and isolated, a smoldering misanthropy. Not the same violent visions of destruction and reclamation you find with SELBSTMORD.
A dark and heavy atmosphere is present throughout, but musically there is great variety within the album. The songs are still aggressive, certainly the wretched vocals – the one clear similarity with SELBSTMORD. Frequently melodic and melancholic, an approach that would continue on future albums with increased technicality. Here not simplistic, just more direct. And then hints of old Poland creep in – distortion removed from the guitar, drums pound a FULLMOON gallop – they are rare but memorable!

Record of the Week: Demilich – 20th Adversary of Emptiness (Review)

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In a 1993 interview guitarist/vocalist Antti lists some of his favourite bands. Among friends, death metal and industrial bands one stood out – NOMEANSNO. They were not mentioned as a musical influence, but it’s possible they were. Both bands existed within genres with fairly rigid structures. Both took a scalpel to their peers, tore apart the central elements and formed something unique. They also shared an interest in writing demanding music with an integral understanding of rhythm.
Within Death Metal Nespithe is one of the greatest, most rewarding albums of any period, any country, by any measure! Morbid visions of horror and science fiction are disgorged (unlike anyone else) while bass, guitar and drums weave constantly fascinating abstract patterns. Complex riffs, time shifts, and unforgettable dual guitar songwriting.
Technical Death Metal might be true, but it’s a boring, academic phrase. They were proficient, skilled players, but never indulged their abilities at the expense of atmosphere and raw force. DEMILICH made killer death metal, it was also some of the most inventive and unique.
The 20th anniversary package includes everything. The demos, which share many songs with the album, demonstrate the progression of the band and the continual development as they move towards the monumental album.
Easily one of the most memorable death metal bands. Underground legends. Horrified to death.

Record of the Week: DARKNESS – Death Squad (Review)

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Classic Teutonic Thrash. Not as well remembered as their peers due to reckless youth, bad luck and an ultimately unsupportive record company.
DARKNESS existed perfectly within the German thrash scene of the early to mid eighties. SODOM, DESTRUCTION and KREATOR. They practised at the same place as KREATOR and do not stray far from the now well-established “German” hard, fast speed/thrash metal sound. Take a look at the original back sleeve for other influences (D.R.I., M.D.C., MOTORHEAD and VOIVOD). SLAYER and RAZOR too, surely. DARKNESS, whose first demo arrived in ’85, are original thrashers and an almost perfect union of the German scene, Bay Area thrash and the original, root, hardcore influence. Fast, tightly played and aggressive thrash metal. They do not take any element to an extreme in the way others did, so consider this a killer “solid” thrash record.
Indicative of their time musically and lyrically (“Nagazaki, Hiroshima. Why didn’t they learn?“) this remains highly recommended. For thrash maniacs, especially those caught up with revival bands who may have missed some of the lesser known originals… essential!

Record of the Week: NUIT NOIRE – Inner Light (Review)

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The story of Inner Light in short: Following a series of incredible demos Tenebras and Akhron began to record their debut album in 2003. During the recording Tenebras decided to shift vocal style from his forest howls to the now-familiar singing (which Aquarius once described as a mix between Roz Williams and Mark E. Smith).

The fallout from the vocal change is an important distraction – it became the last recording between the brothers. But considering the following 12 years of music, we can regard the vocals on this album as transitional. The music is vintage late demo era NUIT NOIRE – magical and atmospheric black metal. Furious blasting drums from Akhron, an impressive final performance! A tone and playing style unlike anything else from Tenebras. You can easily trace the evolution of their playing from the first demo to the last. The NUIT NOIRE “sound” was found early, the skill and abilities improved vastly over the first five years. This album is the peak of their execution. Quand la nuit tombe for example (first recorded for the Once Upon a Night demo) demonstrates how they’ve improved in every way.

Whatever turmoil this album caused, with over ten years hindsight it can be viewed, hopefully, with some objectivity as one of their greatest accomplishments. It’s also one of the best unreleased albums, now at last unearthed! You may have heard some of the new songs, Tenebras re-recorded them alone for later splits with CALL ME LORETTA, CIRCLE OF OUROBORUS and HIS ELECTRO BLUE VOICE, but not like this… two brothers calling on night spirits somewhere in Southern France, producing some of the best music we’ve heard.

Inner Light has existed in tape trading circles for years but I don’t think any of us expected it to ever be more than that. To finally have an official release in best quality is the most welcome news this year! Vinyl edition available now on Seedstock Records. More formats will follow later on Todestrieb Records.

Record of the Week: SVENTOYAR – Unity (Review)

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Foreshadowing the tumultuous national events that would follow the release of this album, SVENTOYAR present a call for unity among the Slavs. The careful selection: nine traditional folk songs, three each from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
The Metal of these songs (somewhere between modern heavy metal, death metal and power metal) is used to build the scale, to infuse these traditional, often humble, songs with a grandeur and power that comes easily to amplified music. Having said that, the intrinsic glory and emotion of choral folk songs are impossible to recreate by replacing every element or forcing in others. Here the hammered dulcimer (tsymbaly) and vocals of Yulia Shiryaeva shine through with authenticity and the distinctive harmonisation of Slavic and east-European traditional song.
SVENTOYAR manage to recreate something rooted in the soul and the soil, led by the traditional naturally more on this album than their previous. An honest and timely celebration of Slavic culture from all regions!