For most black metal devotees the mention of 1349 conjures up images of kvlter than thou, crude production, raw, Urgehal style aggression and Belphegor-esque aesthetics. The sound is war hungry, orthodox black metal with death metal blasts and thrashy licks — a simple, albeit unmemorable, blitzkrieg cocktail no true black metal fan could complain too much about.
While 1349’s prior release, “Massive Cauldron of Chaos,” does show their progression throughout their 20 year career by emphasizing song writing, speed and melody, their most recent single, “Dødskamp” shows an even more unique growth for the band.
The song is a bit of an ode to famous Norwegian painter of “The Scream” fame, EdvardMunch. Guitarist, Archaon expressed admiration for the acclaimed painter’s dark and depressive style and named the track after Munch’s painting “Dødskamp” (which translates to death match).
Black Metal has always maintained a close relationship with fine art, as is evidenced by its dramatic aesthetic and attention to atmosphere and mood. The documentary “Until the Light Takes Us” largely takes place at a black metal themed exhibit by Norwegian artist, Bjarne Melgaard, featuring Satyricon founder and 1349 member,Frost.
His performance art alone is as grim as a kiss to the perineum, complete with fire and bloodletting. Fenriz discusses the controversial works, as well as the history of black metal, throughout the film.
Even Gaahl is a former art student and prolific painter. Although intensely private about his art, Gaahl does showcase a few of his pieces in a popular Noiseydocumentary. 1349 transcends mediums, however, by writing a dark hymn in honor of Dødskamp and encompassing the balance of melancholy and anxiety that characterizes Munch’s work within the complex progressions of the track.
That said, this is still 1349, in all their bullet belt steeped, raw ferocity. What we have here is a sign of true progression within the 5 years since their last release. With “Dødskamp,” 1349 has arguably become a bit more intelligent since their earlier, more image obsessed days. They’re focusing more melody and atmosphere while not deviating so far from their classic thrashy appeal they become unrecognizable.
“Dødskamp” is available for digital purchase on Bandcampnow. The 10″, including the live bonus track, “Atomic Chapel,” will be available for purchase on April 5, 2019.
The metal community is reeling after a jaw dropping announcement that Swedish melodic death metal powerhouses, Dismember, will be reuniting with the original lineup for an exclusive show at Scandinavia Deathfest in Stockholm.
The band has been on hiatus for over 7 years and has not released new material for over a decade so this is huge news for fans of Swedish death metal, of whom Dismember is among the most celebrated acts.
Dismember has had one of the most consistent track records within the melodic death metal genre; never waning in intensity from the heavy hitting classic “Like an Everflowing Stream” in 1991 to their most recent full length release “Dismember” in 2008.
The band couldn’t pick a better time to reunite as fans are hungrier than ever for the crushing sounds of old school death metal and recent trends in the genre have been going in heavier, more orthodox directions. Bands such as 1914, TombMold and Monstrosity showcase this drift back to a rawer, more pure death metal sound. Will 2020 be the year of Dismember?
Though the band has not dropped any hints of plans to return to the studio or write new material (yet), Fred Etsby (drums), David Blomqvist (guitars), Robert Sennebäck (vocals/guitars), Matti Kärki (vocals) and Richard Cabeza’s (bass) return to the stage should leave fans anticipating great things to come. Dismember knows how much this reunion will mean to fans and their choice to headline, arguably the largest death-fest in their region, is a massive teaser for what the future holds for the band.
Dismember will share the stage with NuclearAssault, Demilich, Benediction and Undergang among others for what’s shaping up to be a massive event. Scandinavia Deathfest is scheduled for October 11-12 in Stockholm. Americans get your passports ready now, this is going to be one hell of a show you’re not going to want to miss.
Swedish one man atmospheric black metal project Nasheim is set to release his second full length LP Through indie label Northern Silence Productions on February 22. “Jord och Aska” (Swedish for “Earth and Ash”) will be the first effort from Nasheim mastermind, Erik Grahn in almost 5 years. Luckily for fans, Grahn gave us a sneak peek of the new album via Bandcamp and so far it does not disappoint!
The 20 minute long epic,”Att sväva över vidderna” takes the listener on a melancholic journey into the gravelly pits of utter hopelessness and despair with its heavy-handed ambiance and thick, guitar driven melodies.
Nasheim stands alongside depressive and blackgaze contemporaries such as Alcest, Agalloch and Thy Light. What sets their sound apart is the fearlessness to delve into realms outside the typical milieu of the genre by implementing epic, clean vocals and undistorted guitars into the mix without detracting from the mournful elements that give this project its overall appeal.
Despite its 20 minute length, “Att sväva över vidderna” leaves listeners wanting more. The track entirely cuts off at the end as though it’s supposed to move directly into the next track effortlessly. To me this entails “Jord och aska” will be the kind of album that’s meant to be taken in as a whole, and if fans can predict anything from Nasheim’s previous efforts, this will definitely be the case.
Frankly, I’m in love with song and can’t stop smashing the repeat button. If this is any indication of the quality of the full album, I can safely say we have a lot to be exicted about. You can pre-order “Jord och aska” on Bandcamp. Seriously, give this guy your money. This is true art.
2018 was yet another year filled with political division. From the Cavanaugh hearing, to Trump shutting down the government, to Adam Darski taking a photo with prominent Nazi larper/black metal legend Rob Darken, the drama just seems to get worse every year.
Despite all the commotion, more than a few bands released jaw dropping albums in 2018. Some prolific and legendary acts “retired” with a bang by releasing surprisingly crushing final efforts and some newer acts shocked us with insane debuts. Compiling this list was brutally difficult given the sheer volume of sick new releases and settling on an order was nearly impossible. Seriously, I’m still debating on the order, but for now, here are the top 10 best albums of 2018
10. Ennui- End of the Circle
Georgian funeral doom outfit Ennui’s fourth full length album “End of the Circle” was an unexpected gem for me this year. This is a band that opened my mind to the funeral doom genre. Previously, I had been too musically ADHD to truly grasp the beauty of funeral doom, but Ennui’s infusion of blackened ambiance into their otherwise traditional doom sound was able to hold my attention. That says something for a band who opens with a 30 minute epic.
I knew when I didn’t want to skip the opening track after 15 minutes, instead finding myself entirely immersed in Ennui’s melancholy microcosm, that “End of the Circle” was among the 10 best metal albums of the year.
9. Yob- Our Raw Heart
Oregon trio, Yob, is a band everyone has been talking about lately. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt cheated death by overcoming a near fatal intestinal disease but, while inspiring, “Our Raw Heart” is an LP worth noticing tragedy or not.
Scheidt’s brush with death was the inspiration for the sound and lyrical themes on “Our Raw Heart” and it shows through every impassioned wail and gloomy break on the album. In just 7 tracks, this release takes the listener on a dark journey of epic proportion that’s honest, heartfelt and raw.
8. The Spirit- Sounds From the Vortex
This album floored me the first time I heard it. With a sound plucked directly from early 90s Stockholm, The Spirit is truly a force to be reckoned with in the realm of melodic black metal.
Once more, the band understands the importance of memorable song writing. While the melodies on “Sounds From the Vortex” are tight overall, they maintain an anthemic quality that resonates well in live performances. Picked up by Nuclear Blast upon the release of their debut, this German foursome is one to watch in the coming years.
7. Mare- Ebony Tower
Despite being active since 2003 according to Metal Archives, Mare released their debut album “Ebony Tower” in August of 2018. In an era when Poland, Sweden and Russia are dominating black metal, Mare seeks to put Norway back on the map in a big way.
“Ebony Tower” maintains a perfect balance between avant garde and conventional elements in their sound, which creates a truly enjoyable and memorable experience for the listener. What I love about this release is its flow. With its contrast between melodic interludes and violent breaks, “Ebony Tower” is both kvlt and easily palatable. With a debut like this, I can’t wait to see what’s to come from Mare.
6. Immortal- Northern Chaos Gods
I think the entire metal community was both shocked and worried when Demonaz and Horgh decided to release an Immortal album sans Abbath. Little did we know we were in for a pleasant surprise when the album killed it.
“Northern Chaos Gods” is a welcoming homage to the band’s best era. The album is eerily reminiscent of “At the Heart of Winter” in the best possible way. Honestly, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m happy about the split because now we’re getting twice the good material from both Abbath as a solo act and Immortal. What can I say, I’m greedy.
5. Unanimated- Annihilated (EP)
I was honestly surprised by the lack of attention Unanimated’s comeback EP received this year. For their first release in over 9 years, these Swedish melodic black metal giants returned with a frostbitten bang.
Annihilation floored me, excited me and left me speechless. Listening to this EP gave me all those happy feelings that come from hearing perfectly executed metal. I couldn’t more stoked that these guys are back.
4. Monstrosity- The Passage of Existence
Like most people, my introduction to Monstrosity came from Mark English’s involvement with Deicide. I’m so glad I discovered Monstrosity and “The Passage of Existence” though because not only does album crush, Mark English has shreds for days.
Monstrosity is a palatable form of OSDM with thrashy interludes and killer solos. This album is truly memorable and easy to digest. Good death metal here.
3. Arkona- Khram
2018 saw another development in the world of metal; Arkona got dark as fuck. Seriously “Khram” surprised me with its range and versatility. The band is clearly taking risks with this album, writing longer songs and going in a heavier direction, and the risks are paying off big time.
Despite the band’s slight deviation in sound, Arkona has managed to stay true to their folky roots. What “Khram” showcases is the band’s ability to grow. This album hits in all the right places.
2. Judas Priest- Firepower
While compiling this list I felt it would be almost blasphemous to not include Judas Priest’s 18th full length release “Firepower” near the top. Judas Priest did what so many other classic metal bands fail to do every year; release an album that’s not only relevant in the modern day, but is an instant classic.
Many people are calling “Firepower” “Painkiller” part II and I have to agree with that assertion. When a classic band like Priest releases a new album, fans usually pray there are at least 1 or 2 good tracks on it, but every song on “Firepower” is an absolute banger.
1. Tomb Mold- Manor of Infinite Forms
As I said earlier, figuring out the order for this list was nearly impossible, but Canadian old school death metal outfit, Tomb Mold was an easy pick for the top spot. What makes “Manor of Infinite Forms” so absolutely crushing is its dedication to the true death metal style that defined the 90s.
This is a band that isn’t shying away from producing something absolutely disgusting, sickening and brutal to the core. All these elements make for a perfect death metal record and a top rank in Underworld’s best metal of the year list.
2018 gave us some great metal. Let’s hope 2019 delivers even better metal. Happy New Year! Hails!
The term overrated is indeed a favorite among metalheads. As a group, we love to quibble over which band is better than another as a kind of social primer. That said, there is a reason metalheads often find themselves citing bands as overrated. The mainstream media often gives undeserved attention to sub par bands while great musicians largely get ignored.
After explaining to your coworkers for the 100th time that “no, you don’t listen to screamo” it’s tempting to vent to your friends about the bands all those people continuously ask you about. After gathering your votes on Twitter, these are the top 5 most overrated classic metal bands.
5. KISS, AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Van Halen or Any Other Hard Rock Band the Media thinks is Metal
One of the most frustrating things about being a metalhead is continuously having to explain to people what metal even is, or what it’s supposed to sound like. Media outlets and popular music journalists have never given metal the attention it deserves and have often exalted hard rock bands as arbiters of the metal sound.
Thankfully, this is beginning to change, but it wasn’t that long ago that VH1 was airing metaldocumentariesin which the heaviest band mentioned was Twisted Sister or Skid Row. While there is nothing wrong with Twisted Sister their sound definitely doesn’t have the qualities of a classic metal band such as Kreator, Slayer or even Sabbath. They simply lack the aggression and misanthropic air that defines metal.
As I said, this is beginning to change, and media outlets are starting to understand what makes metal metal, but this attitude is ultimately what led to the demise of great things like Headbangers Ball. Because extreme metal is a shocking sound for many, it’s tempting for many music journalists to attempt to make the music palatable for a larger audience.
Journalists are finally beginning to understand, however, the massive global appeal of extreme metal. When met with this attitude in the future, all metalheads have to do is simply explain that KISS is not a metal band.
Perhaps no band in history has sold out harder than Metallica. Yet, despite only releasing 4 good albums, this band has gone down in history as one of the best classic metal bands of all time according to music journalists and the public alike. This is annoying as all hell.
Most metalheads can’t even remember the last time they listened to Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightening (2 of the acceptable Metallica releases) yet people can’t stop bringing them up whenever metal is mentioned.
The fact is, Metallica is a great example of an overrated metal band simply because of fact that there were several other, more exciting thrash bands in the Bay Area that were overlooked because Metallica stole the limelight. Bands such as Forbidden, NuclearAssault, Death Angel or Vio-Lence barely get mentions much of the time, despite arguably being heavier, but Metallica, oh they’re right up there with Sabbath. Yeah, okay.
I’m going to catch hell for this one, but yes, Death is definitely a perfect example of an overrated classic metal band. What irks me most about this band is how they’re treated like the end all be all of death metal. Diehard metalheads, however, have endless debates about the origins of death metal.
During Death’s inception, as Mantis even, there was a move toward heavier sounds (growled vocals, blast beats etc.) among many artists in the thrash scene.
Bands such as Sepultura, Kreator and Sacarfago were releasing albums that were arguably heavier than the milieu of upbeat, speed focused thrash that had come before. While their music could still be considered thrash, death metal definitely has its roots in these sounds. Could we call this proto-deathmetal? Did I just invent a thing?
*I think I hear the sound of death metal being born
That said, most metalheads are in agreement that the albums SevenChurches by Possessed and ScreamBloody Gore by Death sparked the death metal genre. I’m not here to dispute that. Maybe I lean more toward Seven Churches, but I digress.
I’m not here to dismiss the greatness of classics such as Scream Bloody Gore or Leprosy. The reason I cite Death as an overrated classic metal band has to do with
A. The rabid nature of their fans.
B. The mediocrity within the entirety of their work.
Death fans are really another breed. Yes, I will concede that Death was a prime impetus in the creation of the death metal genre but does that mean that we stop there and not tip our hats to all the other incredible acts, who are arguably more interesting and heavier than Death. Any fan obsessed with a single band, or worse, a single album, cough *Individual Thought Patterns* cough, is just annoying.
As I mentioned earlier, Death was a part of a movement of thrash, as a whole, experimenting with heavier sounds. Bands such as Kreator and Sepultura were also central in spawning the death metal sound. Chuck Schuldiner did work harder than most in his time, I’ll give him that, but this move toward death metal was organic within the scene.
Furthermore, Death’s sound began to weaken and move toward more progressive sounds later in his career. While other bands were getting more brutal and uncompromising in their aggression, Death was releasing albums such as Symbolic which, despite having a few really good tracks on it, is clearly an album designed to appeal to the masses.
I know I’m going to get shit for this, but according to polls, I’m not alone in my belief that Death is an overrated metal band and I’m a bit tired of constantly hearing about how Chuck is god. There’s a million other bands I listen to more and find more interesting than Death.
In case I didn’t infuriate enough people by disgracing the name of Chuck Schuldiner, I’ll add Venom to the list of classic metal bands that are grossly overrated in the scene. Literally every book, article and documentary on black metal cites Venom as the inventors of the genre.
I hold umbrage with this notion because I argue it’s inaccurate. Despite releasing an album entitled Black Metal, Venom no more represents the message of modern black metal than Steppenwolf did heavy metal.
*Cronos distances himself from modern black metal
They certainly had a dangerous image in their time. I remember being a youngin’ and being shocked by their occult facade and violent stage presence. The problem is that this band began and ended at image.
Early Venom has very little in common was what black metal became, and Cronos will admit that. In fact, the entire band continually seeks to distance themselves from modern black metal.
Bathory is the clear first choice for inventing the true black metal sound. Quorthon never wrote anything that sounded like “Teacher’s Pet” and also shared a love the Nordic culture and landscape that would eventually becoming a defining component of the black metal genre.
*the birth of the modern black metal sound
Yet despite Cronos‘ consistent dismissal of black metal or the mediocre, rock and roll air of many Venom tracks, Venom continuously gets praise and recognition for inventing black metal. This needs to stop.
To the people of whom Pantera’s placement on this list upsets, just know that I am laughing at you…..hard. There are endless reasons Pantera is the number one most overrated metal band of all time.
First of all, who gave a bunch of bros the authority to define classic metal bands anyway? Pummeling through the thin walls of trailer parks everywhere, Pantera are unequivocally the kings bro-ness and douche baggery from their meathead inspired aggression down to Phil Anselmo’s white supremacist leanings.
Frankly, I’m not here to argue about Anselmo’s racism, though. My real beef with this band is the fact that, despite music journalists categorizing them as thrash, Pantera invented the douchiest genre of metal— nu metal.
Basically anytime metal sees a semblance of mainstream success it turns into something unrecognizable to diehard metalheads. This idea is central to the creation of nu metal. Nu metal was a stripped down and castrated form of metal that could be easily consumed by the masses and Pantera’s comical, adolescent hostility was the perfect cocktail to incubate the creation of bands such as Korn.
I really wouldn’t care that much if Pantera weren’t regarded as a legendary classic metal band in rank with bands like Maiden by so many media outlets and people. Despite admittedly having a few decent albums, Pantera is essentially the Mountain Dew of metal, yet, along with Metallica, they are probably the most recognizable name in the genre. This is why they’re the most overrated metal band of all time.
Can you think of any classic metal bands you think are overrated? Mention them in the comments. Also, should I write a list of overrated modern bands? Let me know. Underrated metal bands coming soon.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve been calling out the extreme elitism of those who attempt to smear the unholy of name of Behemoth for years. The band’s last full length effort, “The Satanist,” held rank as a favorite of mine from Behemoth, especially given the album marked the band’s seeming return to their black metal roots. Naturally, when I found out Behemoth was releasing a new album, entitled “I Loved You at Your Darkest,” I jumped on the opportunity to review it.
The album starts out strong, with a fittingly blasphemous incantation, entitled “Solve.” This intro leads right into the crushing “Wolves of Siberia.” Things seem fine until track 4. That’s when the album goes in a strange direction.
“Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica” has a bit of a softened feel to it, as do many of the proceeding songs. There’s an emotional atmosphere that almost attempts to be palatable to a larger audience. While the technical musicianship is present, many of the tracks on “I Loved You at Your Darkest” lack the crushing quality Behemoth is so well known for.
That’s not to say these songs aren’t catchy in their own right. If Nergal has learned one thing throughout his nearly 30 career, it’s superior song writing. That said, some of these tracks struck me as odd. “If Crucifixtion Was Not Enough,” for example, almost had a punk air to it that seemed out of place within the context of the rest of the album. It was as though they were attempting to create a sort of black thrash feel but failed miserably.
As a mentioned earlier, there is a softness to this album that I haven’t heard in previous releases. When one considers the title of the album “I Loved You at Your Darkest” one can only surmise this must be a concept album. It leads to me wonder whether or not Nergal returned to his black metal roots in an attempt to broaden his musical range and experiment with more diverse styles.
That’s not to say this album entirely lacking the crushing breaks and blasphemous chanting that have become Behemoth’s signature. The more emotional aspects overpower the classic elements, however. I can’t help but feel “I Loved You at Your Darkest” will alienate some fans, even if the song structure is good overall . I also think that, at this point, the guys might not care.
“I Loved You at Your Darkest” will undoubtedly attract a broader fan base than Behemoth’s previous albums have, and given the band’s over the top image, it won’t be difficult for them to attract attention. Have they gone soft on us? Nah. I think they’re just experimenting with different approaches to their sound. Will the die hard fans be content with what “I Loved You at Your Darkest” has to offer? That remains to be seen. All I know is that I was a bit confused by this effort.
Cleveland’s own Vanik has been making waves lately with 2 kick ass, teaser tracks from their upcoming album, entitled II Dark Season. The tracks, “Jack’s Lantern” and “Heresy Undertow” are currently streaming on Decibel.com. What caught the Decibel editors’ attention was the vocalist and guitarist, Shaun Vanak’s previous work as a live musician for popular blackened, thrash and roll band, Midnight.
The fact is, all the members of the band have an impressive metal resume in the Cleveland area. Guitarist, Vic Stown and bassist Ed Stephens are former members of the Cleveland thrash band Vindicator and drummer, Al Biddle is a former member of both Toxic Holocaust traditional heavy metal band, Cauldron. One could say this is a super group, and based on the chops in the 2 teaser tracks, one can’t argue they sound like one.
What caught my immediate attention was the perfect balance of grit and clarity in the production along with the sheer catchiness of the riffs. These tracks are packed to the brim with sick riff magic and shreds — not to mention anthemic choruses that invoke fist pumping. The influence from both Midnight and Toxic Holocaust is obvious, but these guys get a little uglier — a little grimier. These tracks have the hungry appeal of a sick demo elitists brag about owning. I must say, I can’t wait for this album to drop. II Dark Season will be released on Shadow Kingdom Records on October 26.
You can pre-order the new release and all things Vanikhere. Before you do, though, prepare yourself for the inevitable whiplash that will ensue.