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.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Infernal Execrator: Ad Infinitum Satanic Adherent (2014) Album Review

Infernal Execrator's split album with Imperial Tyrants presented just about some of the finest black metal unleashed in Singapore in 2010. Like countrymen Draconis Infernum, the band's work on the infamous MCBL Heathen Blood Cult CD consisted of furiously blasting and blasphemy-propelled sounds that drew from the likes of Marduk, Setherial and Enthroned. In keeping with the various artworks available for the different versions of the debut full-length, the band has evolved into something altogether more bestial, more hellishly clamouring and more in keeping with entities such as Angelcorpse.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Draconis Infernum: The Sacrilegious Eradication (2014) Album Review

It is as if this is a bunch of guys for whom there is no such thing as a restriction to either the blast-obsessed madness of Marduk or the windswept grimness of early Darkthrone and Horna's best material. Unfettered by the on-rails career choices of most black metal entities, for Draconis Infernum it is entirely possible to fuse the energies of multiple traditions into a sound that is as vicious and fast as it is eerie and morbid, and with their third full-length that abominable ambition is more fully achieved than ever before with an instant classic of Southeast Asia's extreme metal scene.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Master's Hammer: Vagus Vetus (2014) Album Review

Like the previous record this is the sort of thing that could accompany a long walk around Prague, the meeting of heavy guitars with eclectic modern influences complimenting the experience of walking down from ancient, historical Namesti Miru, past my old office building at I.P. Pavlova and then past the famous deconstructivist "Dancing House". In fact these last three Master's Hammer records have played like a Czech answer to Beherit's excellent Celebrate the Dead - an attempt to apply the dark nature and morose spirit of famous early '90s black metal landmarks to select electronic and atmospheric templates. Unfortunately though Vagus Vetus won't merit as much enjoyable unpacking or as many plays as that recent Beherit record or the last Master's Hammer one, which used a similiar template to this but had enough creative nouse and metallic energy to stand alongside their well loved Ritual album as a solid addition to their catalogue.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Belligerent Intent: Eternity Of Hell & Torment (2014) Album Review

Belligerent Intent return with another new logo (final this time around) and another full-length's worth of blast-fuelled and barbarous death metal committed to the devil's name and unholy influence. While it doesn't have quite the immediacy and catchiness of the ferocious debut, the band's new line-up haven't slouched in providing an intensified and monumentally brutal update on that record's sound, with an improved and more monstrous mix too.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Furor: Impending Revelation (2014) Album Review

In a situation where you've got one guy suddenly in charge of every instrumental and compositional element of a project, particularly if that entity existed before as a full band, there might be the risk of over-indulgence and a lack of editing. With Impiety and Malignant Monster drummer Dizazter now handling not only drums and vocals but bass, lead and rhythm guitars as well, Australian technical black metal force The Furor has avoided every potential pitfall and ended up with probably the best album by the band yet. If anything Dizazter has tightened up his songwriting in every way and paid heed to some of his innate influences as shown by the cover of Slayer's 'Show No Mercy', resulting in an album that's more brutal, more hard-hitting and more downright memorable than anything The Furor have put out so far.