Sunday, 10 August 2014

Shine A Black Light MMXIV.002: AK-11

The second band to come under the Black Light is Australian troopers AK-11, whose debut album is being launched soon.

Hails Valak. Please introduce your band for the uninformed without using the words "black" and "metal".

AK-11 (Avtomat : Kalashnikov 2011) is a 'Strategic, Left Hand Path, Military, Pagan, Propaganda Band.' It's a weapon against the feeble & backward philosophies & consequential actions of  organised religions of the 'white light'.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Shine A Black Light MMXIV.001: Serpents Lair

That's right, the Shine A Black Light feature pioneered by erstwhile co-scribe F.G.R.X. returns. As was done in 2012, the feature will include a short interview with an underground, unheard-of band (not the sort of "underground" bands you have on Dark Descent or Hell's Headbangers yeah) followed immediately by a review of their latest (usually solitary) release. The first band to be featured in Shine A Black Light MMXIV is Denmark's Serpents Lair.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Temple of Baal: Verses of Fire (2013) Album Review

This sort of slipped past me last year. I'd only heard this band, which features members of Hell Militia and Aosoth, on a split with Aosoth previously and the latter's track stuck with me more than the other offering. On journeying repeatedly into the rabid and dense ritual these impressively bearded Frenchmen have worked on Verses of Fire however, much is revealed. It's a dichotomous record in that it definitely has an immediate, punishing impact - yet it only truly, truly rewards on repeat listens. Over the past six months or so I haven't been able to get enough of it (or the previous album and the split with Ritualization), and with each fresh listen I'm sold more and more on the entity Temple of Baal has become.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Erebus Enthroned/ Blaze of Perdition: Accession of Fire (2013) Split Album Review

With releases alongside Pseudogod and Devathorn under their belt, Blaze of Perdition have always had a pretty keen taste for collaborations. They've also often gone for pretty barbaric partners in crime, allowing the arcane sorceries that constitute their guitarwork to play off the brute force of the split's other side. Erebus Enthroned's concept of vicious, excoriating black metal with something of a penchant for occasional slow and atmospheric sections is not a million miles away from Blaze of Perdition's own, and the two bands complement each other well.

The Wolves of Avalon: Boudicca's Last Stand (2014) Album Review

For those even-minded enough (or with uneventful enough lives) to separate Britain's glorious rural scenery, unmatched coastlines and amazing historical achievements from its staggeringly incompetent government, often awful newspapers and a populace that delights in dividing itself into small-minded groups, this record might provide a sunny blast of affection for that realm. This is a heavy and well-produced album of magazine-baiting pagan metal bound to appeal to listeners of Moonsorrow, Eluveitie and many, many bands signed to Nuclear Blast. The difference between The Wolves of Avalon and a totally lacklustre entity like Eluveitie is that the busy folk instruments, crunching guitars and easygoing grooves of the album contribute to a catchy, emotionally impacting whole. Boudicca's Last Stand will reward multiple listens beyond simply revisiting "that cool bit with the fiddle". And that's what also puts it proudly alongside Forefather and Mael Mordha.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Schammasch: Contradiction (2014) Album Review

The sophomore by these Swiss philosophical and musical extremists makes for a far more effective draught than their first record. This wouldn't be a bad recommendation for anyone looking for atmospheric, complex extreme metal that incorporates everything from driving doom riffs to placid clean guitars and gnarled, blasted dark energy. But despite what main man CSR says of avoiding genre restrictions, Contradiction at its conflicted heart is an expansive work of 'nowadays' black metal likely to appeal to fans of Ascension, Order of Orias and Secrets of the Moon. I mean this is material for a very different mood to say, Sielunvihollinen, another very brilliant discovery I made this year, but still, black as fuck in its own way. The easy targets of "post-black" or "prog-black" are left to lesser talents. Heavy, technical and ominously atmospheric as well as fleshing out at a hefty two disc run length, the record avoids becoming disjointed, exhaustive or boring with careful composition and almost obsessive thematic cohesion. It's certainly a very different beast to the band's debut with its more direct, Behemoth-referencing black/death sound.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Insane Vesper/ Triumfall: Demise of Being (2013) Split Review

Somehow a split gets more exciting when not only does it have its own name, but the cover art shows nothing of any of the participating bands' logos. Maybe I've just been conditioned to feel that way recently by the likes of Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries, Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno and Gateways to the Nightside. Not to mention the well-known and much loved Crushing the Holy Trinity series of splits. Just seems like something conceptual, something planned and valued by the artists involved, not a throw-away but something very much its own entity. In the case of a few classic examples, something you would mention by title rather than needing to emphasize the bands involved. France's Insane Vesper and Serbia's Triumfall don't disappoint on this trim, four song release.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Under The Black Sun Part XVII: In The Woods Outside Berlin, 3-5 July, 2014

Helenauer Weg 3, Bornicke, Bernau (outside Berlin)

To mark our return to Berlin Under the Black Sun's 2014 installment was practically a no-brainer, not least because it would finally give me the chance to catch Mgła, a band that for the past two years has become one of my all-time favourite black metal acts, live at last after missing them playing Prague on two occasions. The thick, old woods around Bernau (a town on the train line out of Berlin) are a seriously good place to host a line-up of black metal war hordes at night, and while acts like Erebus Enthroned and Darkmoon Warrior don't really suit the jolly beaming of the sun through lively green branches, the environment was truly great. Walking over to the main stage on the second day, just as sun began to set, with the strains of Poland's Deus Mortem aching through the trees, literally humming between the boughs, was an experience like no other

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Under The Black Sun Festival 2014, 3.-5. July: Announcement & Running Order

The Heavy Metal Saloon will be at this year's Under The Black Sun and preparing a write-up afterwards. The organisers have done an excellent job of compiling all the information you might possibly need here:

Tickets can be found at this location. The running order is below:

Exordium Mors: The Apotheosis Of Death (2014) Album Review

Exordium Mors have finally risen from their decade-long toil in the underground with a mighty debut full-length offering, fulfilling every possible expectation garnered by their demos and EPs. I'd only heard their name until I saw them perform live at The Siamese True Metal Festival in 2011, and I was blown away by the quality of this band's songs and their impressive stage presence that really would steal the spotlight at many a cult European extreme metal line-up, if only New Zealand's underground didn't get such short shrift internationally outside of Diocletian, Witchrist and whatever Vault of Dried Bones or Nuclear War Now! happens across next. The Apotheosis Of Death is fucking powerful and I hope it brings wide recognition to Exordium Mors; the simmering bestiality of it, the jarring highness of its themes and visual aspects, the tightness, the clear but still raw sound - this is everything I might have wanted from 'em, and more.