Twilight Fauna

a0453427437_2

Metal is an extremely aggressive genre of music, that is a given. But we metal-heads need to unwind every once in awhile. What exactly does a metal-head listen to, to unwind? Readers, hailing from the ice capped mountains of Appalachia, I give you Twilight Fauna.

Twilight Fauna is another American, one man, atmospheric black metal project. America is quickly making a name for itself as the home of one man metal, with big names such as Xasthur, Leviathan and Judas Iscariot all hailing from the so-called “land of opportunity”. Twilight Fauna does not divert too far from the sounds of USBM.  In fact the sole composer of the beautifully crafted works of Twilight Fauna, Paul Ravenwood, stays very true to America’s depressive resonance.  Paul has been very busy as of late, releasing two splits and a full length album this year alone.  The full length release Grief, released April of this year, is a spellbinding journey through grief’s five ugly stages.

The first track, Isolation, is a tortured dirge.  The vocals are pained and the atmosphere is heavy.  The agony of loneliness is brought right to the surface.  The second track however did not quite meet my expectations.  For a track entitled Anger, I expected a faster, heavier, more bludgeoning experience.  Instead I got a sound that didn’t divert too far from the last track.  Bargaining and Acceptance were definitely the standout tracks on the album, with both tracks featuring beautiful acoustic guitars.  This album is not to be picked apart track by track, however.  It is to be enjoyed as one great work.

The works of Twilight Fauna are nothing truly unique in the cold and lonely world of DSBM.  But fans of gritty production, harrowing atmosphere and Lurker of Chalice take note.  Grief is a sorrowful venture into the emptiness of death and a doleful lamentation for the grieving.  So get comfortable, unwind and join me in the abyss with Twilight Fauna.  Happy Listening.  Hails!

Advertisements

Slaughter Messiah Streaming New Track

a1593142162_2
Elliot “Sodomaniak” Spencer~ Drums, Vocals
Rod “Iron Bitch Desecrator”~ Guitars
Lord Sabathan~ Vocals, Bass
Thomas “Exhumator”~ Guitars

Belgium’s black/thrash outfit Slaughter Messiah are currently streaming the title track from their soon to be released EP, Black Speed Terror. The foursome formed back in 2008 and is a refreshing blast from the past. The cover art is extraordinarily crude and the band’s sound is gritty, ugly and unprocessed. Good production snobs will likely be left with a bad taste in their mouths but if you are looking for raw, satanic, blackened thrash with no frills, your need look no further. Fans of Destroyer 666, Aura Noir and Nocturnal Breed take note. Slaughter Messiah will crush your fucking skull! Happy Listening! Hails!

Varg Vikernes Arrested Once Again.

indexLooks like our boy Varg is at it again.  Varg Vikernes was arrested in France on Tuesday, June 16 along with his wife, Marie Chachet.  Police say he was a suspect in planning a massacre after acquiring a copy of the far right wing terrorist’s  Breivik’s, manifesto and searched his home for weapons and explosives.   Breivik is responsible for both the Oslo bombing and Utoeya Massacre which left 77 people dead.  The police decided to take both Varg and his wife into custody after Marie Chachet purchased two firearms.  They will remain in custody until further investigation.

Varg has already served a 16 year sentence for numerous counts of arson and the murder of fellow black metaller Euronymous.  He is also involved in some questionable Neo-Nazi and nationalist groups.  Is anyone really surprised?

I guess the part I find the most hilarious is the fact that I remember being at the edge of my seat, anticipating Varg’s release in 2009 only for him to write pure garbage upon his release from prison.  In reality, Varg’s beliefs have changed little from the time he was arrested to now.  If anything he’s become more extreme.  Varg is simply more criminal than musician.  But in good faith why don’t we go ahead and celebrate Varg’s early career with a little Det Som En Gang Var.  Happy Listening!  Hails!

The Top 6 Most Important Swedish Black and Death Metal Albums

It’s an age old question among metal-heads. When someone claims to like black metal, there is always someone there to ask the ever important question, “Norway or Sweden?”. Those two Scandinavian countries have made drastically different impacts on extreme metal. Both were equally important to the metal scene.

While Norway held steadfast to a dubious ideology and a less is more attitude when it came to recording, Sweden resisted this by putting musicianship and good production on the forefront. While the Norwegian attitude was to hate death metal, Sweden embraced the genres’ good qualities, adding a melodic undertone to their sound that had been seldom heard before. Sweden changed the face of death metal forever with their intoxicating melodies and blackened sounds.

Today when someone mentions having a fondness for Swedish death or black metal everyone knows exactly what they’re talking about, but there were a few bands that helped launch the scene with their stellar releases and masterful musicianship. Here are the top six most important Swedish black and death metal albums…..

6.Vinterland- Welcome My Last Chapter
4076

It is very rare that a band releases the perfect album. Most metal-heads agree that Vinterland’s 1996 release “Welcome to My Last Chapter” qualifies as the perfect album. For many, who otherwise despised black metal, the release of Welcome to My Last Chapter was the first time they opened their ears to the controversial sub-genre.

Welcome to My Last Chapter is a spellbinding example of haunting melody, shrieked with a fervor few can muster. The fact that Vinterland disbanded shortly after the release of their masterpiece, only added to the elusiveness of this artist. Here is a band that knew how to quit while they were ahead.

If you haven’t heard this album, I strongly recommend you listen. It is easily one of the best metal releases of all time.

5.Necrophobic- The Nocturnal Silence
7627

As formative members of the black/death scene, Necrophobic truly helped hone Sweden’s characteristic sound.  The band’s debut, The Nocturnal Silence is virtually the textbook definition of Swedish death metal.  With the aggression of early death metal and the melodiousness of blackened thrash, Necrophobic’s debut is an utter symphony of evil and celebration of musical virtuosity.

Necrophobic gleaned from the ashes of an unpolished scene and refined its sound into true perfection and to this day that sound is what comes to mind when someone mentions Swedish death metal.  The Nocturnal Silence is a truly stellar release, an alluring example of blackened/death perfection from beginning to end.

4.Nihilist- Drowned
30830

What can one really say about this little known band that single-handedly launched the Swedish scene with the release of a ten minute demo? Sweden didn’t have much an extreme metal scene before this group of teenagers assaulted the frost tipped forests of the Viking land with the sounds of hell and sickening depravity.

Nihilist started out as a sort of run of the mill blackened thrash band, but it wasn’t until the release of “Drowned” in 1989 that the youngsters honed their sound as death metal. Violent, murky and utterly revolting are three words that describe this demo. This band would later go on to form influential Swedish death giants, Entombed and Unleashed.  Their sound paved the way for countless other bands. This my friends is where Sweden was born.

3.At The Gates- The Red in the Sky is Ours
146

For the most part the budding Swedish death metal movement remained politely and respectfully in the underground. It was until At The Gates attacked listeners with their 1992 masterpiece, “The Red in the Sky is Ours”, that Swedish death metal began to get any acclaim in the world of metal.

It’s no surprise that this album catapulted Swedish death metal to the mainstream. It is an utterly malevolent and face ripping assault on unsuspected listeners. Masterfully placed progressive changes, harmony, melody and ugly yet catchy riffs are the meat of the 1992 release. Beginning to end the album is a warlike euphony. It is a shame At The Gates abandoned their brutal beginnings in favor of mainstream success. Their earlier works were pure magnificence.


2.Dissection- The Somberlain

769

To this day when someone infers an interest in melodic metal, Dissection is the first band that comes to mind. As an Norway obsessed kvlt elitist myself, Dissection was the first band to open my ears to the melodic sounds of Sweden. This was due to the release of “The Somberlain” in 1993.

The bands debut paved the way for countless others, including some of the bands mentioned here, with its intoxicating melodies, haunting black shrieks and merciless riffs. Dissection’s history is shrouded in the romantic saga of the vocalist and guitarist Jon Nödtveidt. Jon Nödtveidt served prison time back in 1997 as an accomplice to murder and then shot and killed himself in 2006, only two years after he was released from prison. Danger is certainly an underlying theme in the band’s sound.

The Somberlain is an album any metal-head worth their weight in salt has in their collection. The album is the magnum opus of Swedish black/death metal.


1. Bathory- Blood, Fire, Death

758

It would be unfair to do a post like this and not pay homage to the ones who started it all. Hailing from Sweden, black metal pioneers Bathory were innovators of a sound that would grow into something unimaginable at the time. Bathory beginnings were humble as they were the forerunners of a new sound of thrashy avant garde metal, along with the likes of Celtic Frost, Hellhammer and Venom. Their first three full-length albums were largely thrash with a grittier edge. It wasn’t until the release of “Blood Fire Death” in 1988, that the band experimented with a whole new sound, that would soon become black metal as we know it today.

Adding hints of Nordic folklore, melody and atmosphere to their sound, Bathory embarked on something huge. Every black metal band to this day, gleans influence from Bathory. Blood Fire Death was truly groundbreaking. It was the beginning of many great things to come.

Notable mentions:
Sacramentum- Far Away From the Sun
Dawn- Nær Sólen Gar Niþer For Evogher
Grave- Into the Grave
Unleashed- Where No Life Dwells
Marduk- Those of the Unlight

Happy Listening! Hails!

The Top 6 Most Important Norwegian Black Metal Albums

Everything about Norway is metal. Its lush forests and snow capped mountains are more mystifying than any other countries’. Its subzero temperatures and spread out landscapes are depressive and isolating. Even the countries’ history is entrenched in warfare, bloodshed and jealous pagan gods. It is only natural that the most controversial metal in the world would be birthed from such a place.

If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you’ve heard the story. Back in the early nineties some overzealous, teenage extremists burned churches, killed people, served extensive jail time and made some awesome music, influenced by the likes of Bathory, Celtic Frost, Venom and Sodom. These fervent teenagers and twenty-somethings changed the face of metal forever with their raw, unprocessed, atmospheric dissonance. Black metal as we know it today was born.

Though many great bands hailed from the walls of Helvete and the emissions of Deathlike Silence Productions, there were a few that hallmarked the scene. These are the top six most important Norwegian black metal albums…..

6.Ulver- Nattans Madrigal
ulver

Intelligent, atmospheric, raw, experimental and progressive are just a few words that sum up Ulver’s 1997 release. The final album in Ulver’s notorious black trinity, Nattens Madrigal, is a thought provoking masterpiece; a beautifully grotesque glimpse of ingenuity. Each song is both a beguiling hymn to nightfall and a summoning call to hell’s hounds, delivered with a buzzing resonance and enthralling melody. From hypnotic acoustic breaks to sheer raw atmosphere, Nattens Madrigal is an absolute, must have album in any respectable black metal collection.

5.Satyricon- Dark Medieval Times
satyricon

It would be unfair to do a countdown like this and not include Satyricon. Satyricon were not only formative members of the so-called “Black Circle”, they also gave life to the black metal image with their flashy “kvlt” regalia. They took the black metal look and made it into a true art form. Though their music has gone in some strange directions over the years, perhaps becoming a bit too symphonic or polished for some, their 1994 release, Dark Medieval Times is a beautiful example grim black metal with a Neo-Pagan edge. Beginning to end the album is a celebration of Valhalla and a dirge to olden gods. The folk elements are beautifully rendered and create a sort of enchanted atmosphere throughout the album. No “kvlt” elitist would disagree that Dark Medieval Times is a truly remarkable and important benchmark in the history of Norwegian black metal.

4.Burzum- Filosefem
burzum

There is perhaps no artist more controversial than Varg Vikernes. From arson to murder to extreme ideology, Varg had it all. Whether or not you agree with the man’s questionable actions, one must admit that black metal wouldn’t be the romantic impetus it is today without those infamous stories. As a rebellious teen, I don’t know if I would have been as drawn to black metal if it hadn’t been so shrouded in depravity.

Black metal is a form of music to be feared by most and no one understood this better than Varg. His 1996 release Filosefem is a magnificently crafted work of art, fittingly recorded on a tape deck. As a one man outfit, Varg was forced to experiment with ambient sounds on his recordings. These melancholy sounds paved the way for countless others. Filosefem is unarguably the highlight of the man’s career; flawless from beginning to end.

3.Emperor- In The Nightside Eclipse
emperor

Emperor was rooted deeply within the trenches of Helevete’s hellions from their humble beginnings. Always a bit more intelligent than company they kept, Emperor politely stood on the sidelines for the most part whilst the insanity persisted. And save for ex-member and convicted murderer Bard Faust, the band has kept out of trouble without losing any of their “necro” cred. Staying out of trouble could not keep them out of the spotlight however, their music was simply too impressive.

Emperor’s first full length album, In the Nightside Eclipse is flawlessly rendered symphony of darkness. Cold, melancholy and sinister, the album is an absolute staple in black metal history. Emperor’s use of the keyboards induces a doleful sensitivity in their sound. The occasional clean chanting found throughout In the Nightside Eclipse only adds to the album’s beautifully depressive resonance. They don’t begin and end at sadness however. Much of the album is an uplifting and victorious battle cry. The album sends the listener on an emotive whirlwind and is only satisfied with musicianship of the highest standards. From sadness to celebration, In the Nightside Eclipse is a true masterpiece.


2.Darkthrone- Transilvanian Hunger

darkthrone

Though Darkthrone’s initial beginnings were in death metal, they are most well known for their black metal efforts. It doesn’t matter how far they attempt to stray from the black metal sound, the brand will always be with them. This is because of the importance those three albums carry in black metal’s murky beginnings. A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon and Transilvanian Hunger bore a significant influence on black metal.

It wasn’t until the release of Transilvanian Hunger that Darkthrone truly honed their black metal sound. Recorded on the cheapest of equipment, the sound is cold, atmospheric and ugly. The buzzing guitars, the effortless blackened growls and the paralyzing blast beats literally defined black metal’s sound. Everything about this release screams “kvlt”, from the simple yet nefarious cover art to the fact that the whole album is growled in the band’s native tongue. If this album isn’t in your collection yet, I pity you.

1.Mayhem- Live in Leipzig
mayhem

What can one say about Mayhem that hasn’t already been said? It seemed like everything that was happening in Norway at that time was surrounded around this notorious band. From Helvete to murder and untimely death to arson to Deathlike Silence Productions, all eyes were on Mayhem. They were simply dangerous and it comes out in their sound. No Mayhem album captures this element of danger better than Live in Leipzig.

Live in Leipzig is the only album which features the deceased, Per “Dead” Ohlin on vocals. His sickness, brutality and possible mental illness were a perfect fit for Mayhem’s raw and unpolished sound. There was little concern over whether or not the instruments were being play correctly. The band’s only concern was in sounding as evil as possible. They certainly achieved that goal. No release before or after has ever sounded as evil, sick or menacing as Live in Leipzig. Live in Leipzig is THE black metal record to have.

Everything on this list is only my opinion. If you feel I’ve left something out feel free to post it in the comments. And just so I don’t piss anyone off, here are some notable mentions…..
Enslaved- Vikingligr Veldi
Thorns- Thorns
Immortal- Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism
Happy Listening! Hails!

Inoculation

3540360542_logo

Hailing from my hometown, Cleveland, I am proud to present Inoculation.  I seldom get this excited about a new band, especially one fitting the description of death metal, but Inoculation is keeping things fresh with their newest release, Elysium.

Over the years, technical death metal has become engrossed in redundancy, with droves of Necrophagist wannabes polluting the scene and almost irritating arpeggiated riffing overpowering the sound, but Inoculation has toned it down a bit without losing their technicality and (more importantly) their melody. Elysium is a bit of a regression back to sounds similar to early Sadist, Katatonia or Revocation, with progressive undertones, brutal vocals and thrash-like riffing. With interesting lyrical themes, including alien abduction and the esoteric, Inoculation holds listeners captivated. The samples featured on the EP are appropriate, never redundant and cool (for lack of a better word).

Elysium is a scholarly ride through Area 51, that immediately sucks listeners into a wormhole of speed and progression. In six quick tracks, Elysium secures a crushing grip, met with an intoxicating melody. Some might complain that this has all been done before and it lacks a certain freshness that keeps things interesting. While the sound found here is all too common, anything done this well is still quite worthy of recognition.

Inoculation is still young and their sound is still hungry and perhaps a bit immature, but give this band a few more years and they will almost certainly hone a sound and audience all their own. The musicianship and production is impressive to say the least, especially for a new and unsigned act. It won’t be long before labels begin to take notice of this band. For now let’s remain ahead of the labels and take a trip to Roswell with Inoculation. Happy Listening! Hails!