Friday, December 28, 2012

The Cold Beyond - Promo '99

So I bought this tape in 2003 or so on the suggestion of my good pal Wayne Sarantopoulos with the intent of ripping it to MP3.  Fast forward to December 2012, and I finally got it ripped!  This is a fun four track rager of deathened black metal of a band from Milwaukee Wisconsin.  I've searched for MP3s of it quite intensly so I'm sure this is its first foray onto the world wide web.  Turns out they have been dormant since 2003 but have a new EP out.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Darvulia - Mysticisme Macabre

I am certain that there is no way I'm going to easily sell you on this album.  My goal here is to tell you why I love this band so much instead.  If you can find some intrigue in my attempt, then I wholly invite you to dive into this mind bending and sometimes hypnotic album.

First lets get a few things out of the way to make this easier for both of us.  This isn't epic, melodic, retro, goat-y, necro, and doesn't sound much like any other black metal band I've ever heard..  Musically, this is quite original and scratches an itch that only Lugubrum, and maaaaaaybe Vediog Svaor have even begun to scratch in the past.  Not to toot my own horn much either but the riffing is also reminiscent of my old band "Satan's Almighty Penis."  Of course there are some familiar tenets of black metal found here: varied but frequently blasting drums, fairly typical but notably well performed vocals and a typical overall production value that does the music justice by being somewhat dry and pallid with a bit of snarl to it.  You should be able to dive right into if you've listened to ten or more black metal albums before.

Ok so now that I have cleared all of that out of the way: THE RIFFS!  The guitar work of Darvulia's Kobal is out of this world.  The riffing is HIGHLY imaginative, often grinding, completely disharmonious and dissonant as all fuck.  If you are looking for riffs that make you think about mountains, trees, lakes, pirates, castles, vikings or pretzels, DON'T ENTRY!!  All I can say is that musically this stuff is very obnoxious and therefore insanely hellish and challenging.  Half of what makes "Mysticisme Macabre" so enjoyable and refreshing for me is that it is what it isn't.  The other half is that there is some highly challenging and obtuse music composition found here, and Darvulia have become highly productive within this style.  The composition is about as untraditional as you can get.  The varied ebb and flow of their 5-7 minute long songs keep me enthralled more than a lot of records of this ilk ever do.  Its disgustingly awkward enough to keep me interested and yet not so unrelenting that it gets boring.  I often find myself listening to it three or four times in row.

I haven't been able to peel myself away from this album for a long enough time to check out the rest of Darvulia's catalog, but I really look forward to seeing where else they can take this band.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Favorite Metal Albums of 2012
1. Panopticon - Kentucky
2. Germ - Loss
3. Demoncy - Enthroned is the Night
4. the Kill - Make 'em Suffer
5. Nekromantheon - Rise Vulcan Spectre
6. MGLA - With Hearts Towards None
7. Blood of the Black Owl - Light the Fires!
8. Licht Erlischt - ...and Below, the Retrograde Disciples
9. Wodensthrone - Curse
10. Blut Aus Nord - Cosmophy

Honorable Mentions:
Alcest - Les Voyages de l'ame
Antediluvian / Adversarial - Split
Ash Borer - Cold of Ages
Asphyx - Deathhammer
Autolatry - Of the Land
Avenger - Bohemian Dark Metal
Bestial Holocaust - Into the Goat Vulva
Borknagar - Urd
Bound by Entrails - the Stars Bode you Farewell
Brulvahnatu - Descending Divine Worth
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
Christian Mistress - Possession
Coffins - March of Despair
Deathspell Omega - Drought
Desecresy- the Doom Skeptron
Drapsnatt - Skelepht
Ebonylake - In Swathes of Brooding Light
Elysian Blaze - Blood Geometry
Evoken - Atra Mors
False / Barghest - Heavy as a Church Tower
Genocide Shrines - Devanation Monumentemples
Hell - III
Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Love Sex Machine - s/t
Lunar Aurora - Hoagascht
Morbus Chron - A Saunter through the Shroud
Master's Hammer - Vracejte konve na místo
Moss of Moonlight - Seed
Muknal - Muknal
Mutilation Rites - Empyrean
My Dying Bride - A Map of All Our Failures
Napalm Death - Utilitarian
Nefarious - The Universal Wrath
Revenge - Scum.Collapse.Eradication
Sanguinary Misanthropia - Loathe Over Will
Sear Bliss - Eternal Recurrence
Weapon - Embers and Revelations
Worship - Terranean Wake
Yakuza - Beyul

Things I still need to listen to:
Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock - Didnt excite me, formulaic and uneventful
Angantyr - Forvist - Very good!
Anglagard - Viljans Oga
Árstíðir Lífsins
- Vápna lækjar eldr

Azaghal - Nemesis
- Pretty fun if you think all black metal sounds the same.

Black Magician - Nature is the Devil's Church - Not bad, kinda trendy and the vocals really get old
Chapel - Satan's Rock n Roll - Weak production and a very tired, worn out style. ZZZzzz
Coffin Texts - the Tomb of Infinite Ritual - Pretty fun, though not much to hold my interest.
Corsair - Corsair
Dammerfarben - Herbstpfad
Dire Omen - Severing Soul from Flesh - Pretty typical br00tle death metal.  pass
Dordeduh - Dar de Duh - More floaty new age post-Negura Bunget metal.  I'm not often in the right mood for this, but its tolerable.
Drawn & Quartered - Feeding Hell's Furnace - Sorta fun but nothing really special here.
Drudkh - Eternal Turn of the Wheel - Yeah more Drudkh, If its not Autumn Aurora or Forgotten Legends, forget about it.
Dysrhythmia - Test of Submission - This band is great, really interesting in a "look what we can do" sort of way which I'm never in the mood for, but I really admire these guys and they are probably the best prog band in the US.
Elffor -
Heriotz Sustraiak
Eternum - Veil of Ancient Darkness - I really like this, its somewhere between Fullmoon and Vargsang
Hellvetron - Death Scroll of Seven Hells and Its Infernal Majesties - REALLY eerie and twisted, this is great, though not up my alley
Ignivomous - Contragenesis - Another brick of evidence that the bar for brutal death metal was raised significantly this year.  This is great, but again, I just don't really care.
Into Oblivion / Cromlech / Shoor - "Under the banner of the Serpent Sun"
Ketzer - Eindzeit Metropolis - This is awesome.  A tad too ecclectic, but at times it reminds me of Aura Noir
Knelt Rote - Trespass - Super fun unrelenting grind madness.  Love these guys
Les Discrets - Ariettes Oubliées
Maveth - Coils of the Black Earth
Manticore - Behold the Ascension of the Execrated - God, this is weird as fuck and I dont like it at all
Naglfar - Teras - Exactly what I was expecting, there is nothing cool about this.
Necrovation - s/t - This was surprisingly fun.  Lots of variety and innovation here.  I might buy this.
Occultation - Three & Seven - RULES!  This is really intriguing stuff!
Profetus - Open the passages in Dusk - This would be far better if it had anything that wasnt completely boring in it.
Rahu - The Quest for the Vajra of Shadows
Svartidaudi - Flesh Cathedral
Testament - Dark Roots of Earth - Killer line-up on this, but this is exactly what I expected.  Fucking party thrash.  Death to the entire bay area and its failure metal.
Urkaos - I
Vemod - Venter pa Stormene - This is really good.  I'll probably be listening to this some more in the future. reminds me of Darkspace / Paysage d'Hiver
Venus Star - ep / full length
Verge / Charnel Winds - Two Serpents
Vomitor - the Escalation
Winterfylleth - the Threnody of Triumph
Vaura - Selenelion - Listening to this album was like holding a great looking sandwich, never being able to figure out which side to take the first bite on, then giving up.

Anticipated in 2013 (somewhat speculative):
Swallowed debut full length
Hunter's Moon full length?!?!?
Nocturnal Graves
Horna (confirmed!)
Inquisition (confirmed !)
Incursus (confirmed !)
Sadomator (This band is currently on hold, but Seventh is working on a debut full length for his other band Odgru Jahad)
Paysage d'Hiver - Das Tor (AMAZING!)
Cultes des Ghoules (RULES!)
Pensees Nocturnes (confirmed!)
Grave Miasma
Front Beast
Manzer "Light of the Wreckers"
Hatespawn "Abyssic conquerors"
Dead Congregation
Gorguts (confirmed!)
Portal (rules!)
Darkthrone (sucks!)
Panopticon / Vestiges split (confirmed!)
Drowned - debut LP (confirmed !)

Big time let downs:
Aura Noir

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Panopticon - Kentucky

Whenever I have the pleasure of waking up in Kentucky, I stretch my arms out to greet the day. Invariably I then hear the opening banjo licks of Panopticon's album of the same name. When I climbed the beautiful winding hills of Bernheim Forest beneath gigantic trees last summer with Austin Lunn, I heard the familiar penny whistle melodies and Chuck Schuldiner-esque guitar leads heard throughout "Bodies Under the Falls." When I spent time among the people of Louisville I heard the soaring melody of "Black Soot and Red Blood." When I hear my friends Austin, Adam, and Crow lament upon frustrations concerning how mining corporations have permanently destroyed miles upon miles of their beautiful home's mountain tops, I of course hear the plodding blast beats and somber middle section of "Killing the Giants as They Sleep." I even find myself singing the catchy riffs throughout the album in my head when I'm at work or driving. When I play the album I sing along to the riffs and air drum to the preposterously skilled percussion. This album has stuck with me more than any in the last few years for so many reasons. I find it jarringly apparent that the album's subject matter has given Austin the motivation to weave his most musically effective and memorable album yet.
Two years ago I hadn't been to Kentucky, and I hadn't heard Panopticon's album of the same name. Today, the state and the album represent each other boldly in my eyes, and they both have become some very dear things to me. Such has the friendship Austin and I have found this year. I wanted to finally offer my take on this album because I think I offer a unique and closer perspective on the album than most, and maybe what I have to say will help some folks understand it better if they care to listen to it and learn from it.
Panopticon is a very different band than a lot of people are used to. The ever-trodden path of black metal since 1982 has been to portray a guise that you are not. To use emotions and urges to give a theatrical and exaggerated voice to thoughts. To step outside of the human shell and personify metaphorically certain emotions and ideals that seem somehow larger than life. In stark contrast, Austin lets absolutely nothing stand between his music and who he is. When you listen to Panopticon, you are experiencing the pure unadulterated heart and soul that he is offering you. you can take it or leave it. Austin plays black metal and blue grass because that is who he is, and this is how he speaks to you. Austin and others argue that this fact invalidates the label of "black metal" from Panopticon, but I make this comparison sonically, and not politically. Some reviewers have had the gaul to say that the blue grass isn't to their liking and that it should be different or not present at all. Some have even gone as far as saying that the blue grass should sound more like European folk. Or that the metal sections aren't "folky enough", etc. As fucking outlandish as this is, I won't address it specifically. Asking that of any artist is preposterous. Lets be honest folks, we are all grown ups and you wouldn't know about this album if you didn't have the capacity to fully understand Panopticon's effective language of metal and blue grass.
I am proud of my friend Austin for so many reasons but here I should note that Kentucky is an album Austin should be proud of. It speaks vastly of a place he loves and does so in such a heartfelt way that it evades criticism by standing above it in a place where this type of dialogue contains no dishonesty, or insipid cruel humanity.
Kentucky the album successfully acts as a conduit between you and the topics that Austin holds dear enough to write about. Instead of acting as an end all authority upon the topic, it verily tells a story and then asks you confrontingly "Which Side are You On?"

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The other day a coworker looked at my page and called me a hipster. I seriously dont mind, but a true definition of this term has always eluded me. It seems like people throw it around only for the effect that they know that comes with it, without the term having a meaning that anyone can specifically enumerate. My belief is that term would describe someone who only likes stuff because nobody else likes it. But the fact that people use it to describe people who look and act like other "hipsters" really defies the sentiment of the term. So either I'm wrong or everyone who uses it that way is wrong.

Without regard to the term's definition I had some poignant thoughts in reaction to its use to label me. If I seek out music that isnt popular, that would mean that I would have to know what is popular, to be able to avoid it. Therefore I would be paying the same attention to popular music as most people are, if not more. So in a way the term accuses me of doing what everyone else does only to portray that I am in fact only interested in everything but that which is popular.

Am I wrong here or what?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Altarnihil - "Terminal"

While some band's demos can wind up being their best recording (Cromlech), the intent of a demo is to lay forth a simple framework upon which a band operates. I try to keep this in mind when receiving a demo from a band. Altarnihil's "Terminal" demonstrates that they have accomplished well what they set out to do and have a formidable amount of momentum to achieve greater things within the trappings of this guise.
As expected the Iowa two piece utilize a murky, indistinct overall tone and production quality to paint the veil between their performance and your imagination. As a black metal listener I appreciate when this is understood and I often require this quality of a band for me to be drawn into a recording (due to my fervent A.D.D. and tendency to listen to black metal bands that I already know are good.) Producing an unfavorable, "necro", or murky black metal sound hard is enough to even achieve, let alone harness and have it enhance everything about the craft of black metal song. This is Altarnihil's strongest element yet. While all too many bands today have taken a reliance upon this much too far, I still believe that teetering upon this balance is where much of the magic of black metal lies.
I do not feel that Altarnihil rely all too heavily on this quality, but I do see great potential for a more musical direction for the band, mostly in the guitars, but I think some synth would work nicely here as well. There is a staunch and unwavering style to the music, and I think some more evocative riffing is where I look for the band to head. The riffing is simplistic and unmelodic but nothing I could draw comparisons to.
Overall I give this a 7 out of 10. The band was gracious enough to give me a copy of the demo, and gracious enough to offer it to you on their bandcamp page as a pay what you want download. Look for a tape release soon, and I will look forward to future output from one of Iowa's rare black metal bands.

Alternately I thought I'd mention that this entire demo reminds me fondly of the last song "Einsamkeit" from Zorn's 2002 demo "Terror Black Metal" which is just absolutely stunning. Tell you what, heres a download link for that entire demo: DOWNLOAD

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sorry for the absence. Ive been making my own music again. If you care to listen to it, its all free for download here: There's also an interview for your perusal. I plan on posting a review of the new Mgla album here shortly. Toodles, Ben