It’s been seven long years since Stockholm’s kvlt foursome, Darkthrone has graced us with a new release. To be honest, I haven’t anticipated a Dark Funeral release in a long time. While Secrets of the Black Arts will forever remain an adolescent favorite, the band went in an increasingly commercial direction throughout the years, with squeaky clean production, and an overly polished, radio friendly black metal sound. I was hesitant to listen to the new release, for fear of disappointment. Fortunately for me, Where Shadows Forever Reign was a pleasant surprise.
No, this album doesn’t harken back to the lo-fi kvlt sound of Secrets of the Black Arts. That would be laughable. Secrets of the Black Arts was perfect for the era in which it was released. Where Shadows Forever Reign is a welcome progression for the band, however. They are really embracing their Swedish roots on this one. The album is melodic, cold, and black. Blast beats are tasteful and in the background, riffs are pretty and audible, and Heljarmadr’s vocals are classic black metal but not over the top. And while the band added that melodic Swedish element to their sound, they didn’t stray too far from the classic Dark Funeral sound old school fans have grown to love. It was refreshing to hear.
The album kicks off intensly with the feature track, Unchain My Soul, which is a stand alone track in its own right. A melodic intro builds up into a wall of pure blackness with trance inducing melody. The two tracks that follow, As One We Shall Conquer and Beast Above Man, are along the same vein, heavy, cold and beautiful. Then the album takes an interesting turn midway with the track As I Ascend. Dare I call it a ballad, the track is slow and emotional. You’ll instincually close your eyes while listening to it. I did.
I hate to say it, but after As I Ascend, there is a brief lull in the album. The Temple of Ahriman is a good song in its own right, with beautiful and melodic riffs, but to follow a slow song with another in this way caused me to lose interest a bit. But maybe I just have musical ADD. The next few tracks are heavier but, while good, they aren’t as memorable as the ones preceeding them. Luckily, Dark Funeral makes up for this at the end. The title track is probably one of the best on the album with its awe inducing melody and blasts. Depressive elements are even injected into the closing track, which adds a real flair to the album overall. Truly beautiful.
Overall, this album is definitely something to keep on your radar in 2016. It’s fucking hot outside and Dark Funeral is just the cold blast we need this time of year. I’ll be the one to say it, Dark Funeral is back!
Defiatory’s debut album ‘Extinct’… It seems good on paper but creating a supergroup of Swede and Finnish underground musicians from Aeon, Apostasy, Crowdburn… However the debut clocks in at a whopping 8 tracks. I’m going to start off by saying I like these musicians on their own, and ex respective groups but this album is just purely radio metal. This is what you listen to at Gold’s Gym while trying to stretch out the weights to the max, bro. It’s jock rock with more distortion.
Alright now that I complained about the shit part, let’s talk about the good parts; the artwork is actually really good. It does fit the tone of the album, and the vocals are gritty enough to fit the themes of the album destruction, death, war, and well… extinction. Now let us dissect this album from a production point of view. The instruments are evenly spaced, well, that would be if the instruments were drums, vocals, and one guitar… The only issue is we have two guitarists and a bass player, somehow guitar two got lost in the mix with the bass; maybe when they recorded they were out to lunch and just doubled the lead. The only time you get a hit at second guitar is one of the many repeating breakdown shreds… and trust me listen to the first song and you’ve listened to this album… Because….. most of the riffs on this album are the fucking same, or almost the same with minor changes. If it wasn’t for the song break I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between tracks one and two. It’s the same chug-chug-chord formula for the most part. Even though the band has a lot of underground death and thrash influences, I didn’t hear much of it; I wrongly assumed they would give some more of the death influence to a Swedish genre that has gotten completely fucking stale. Every song is within like 10 bpm of each other so if you listen to the album fully through in one sitting you can lift or head bang at the same speed for a solid 39 minutes… But let’s get positive again, I have to admit.. The solos are a god damn saving grace, filled with heart and technical ability. That’s where you hear the true sunlight tradition come through.
Despite all of this I do like a few songs on here: The Final Conflict, Aeaons End, and The Black Vortex. The Black Vortex is probably my favorite song just because it actually feels a bit technical and shines through the albums chuga-chuga bringing a bit more technicality and some variety. Really, if you want to pump iron or drive your riced out Honda at high speeds in a 35 then I’d say the first 6 songs are completely for you, you could easily add one of these tracks to an Avenged Sevenfold album.. and well no one would know. In fact, until The Black Vortex started I thought I was just listening to the same song on the first listen if that’s any indication. This is pure unit pushing radio metal, it’s good for that, but it’s not my cup of tea.
Psychotron yet another band from Bangladesh but this time it’s not basement metal, in fact they play a refreshing old school form of thrash metal and their 2016 EP “Lethal Paralysis” is a very heavy, aggressive and melodic mother fucker.
Intense blast beats are the first thing you hear, and I was hit almost a few seconds later by a wave of pure aggressive thrash; but all of the musical instruments are clear, which is something rare these days. The music is very heavily rooted in the 80’s Bay Area thrash metal but the guttural vocals are more aggressive, reminiscent of Possessed.
However, this isn’t just a simple no frills thrash homage. The vocals utilize melodic screams and the solos and leads at times give a more melodic style of old school thrash. They even inject a bit of the traditional spoken word trope that came to thrash near the end of the 80s, for brief intervals throughout the album. There’s a lot of mixing going on and variety. Something I didn’t expect there’s a great mixture of slow, mid paced grooves that flow into fast tearing riffs and an almost Burtonesque bass guitar leads. Though the album remains true to its influences and styles it never truly disappoints in anyway.
Psychotron plays the classic era style of thrash metal and you can tell it’s very heavily rooted in the 80’s traditions, including the production style, but the album also bringing back a more aggressive and at times a more melodic take on the genre than some of the current bands in play don’t bring to the table. You can easily hear the East coast spilling over to Bangladesh; and one must keep in mind Bangladesh is a country full of censorship and corruption, and probably ranked up with Somalia for military coups totally 28 military coups in the nation’s history.
They deliver a grim and dark lyrical style with a heavy thrash tone that’s both aggressive and original, riding the fine line between complete cloning of the east coast and to some extent the German scene and innovating their sound with more melodic takes. I never thought I’d say this…. but you know I actually like this album. I like it a lot.
It’s been a long time coming, but Behexen finally released a new album. In many ways, The Poisonous Path is a welcome continuation of the band’s prior release, Nightside Emanations, but with even more atmosphere and hatefulness.
Behexen’s sound has grown more sophisticated since the band’s true kvlt beginnings. Hoath-Torag’s vocals have significantly deepened on the last two releases, giving the albums a more mature feel, and highlighting the vocalist’s incredible range. The Poisonous Path takes on many of the elements of today’s trendier black metal sound, breathy growls, heavy atmosphere, depressive interludes, etc and combines them with melodic breaks that keep true with the classic Scandinavian sound. One could wonder if Behexen is simply going with the flow and not focusing on creating a signature sound. At least fans can be rest assured that this album isn’t simply a Sargeist album in disguise.
That said, The Poisonous Path is a fantastic release. The album kicks off with a predictably, atmospheric intro and then fiercely breaks into intensity like thunder cracking in hellacious skies. The album continues on this path throughout, each song complementing the next. The Poisonous Path is not an album you skip around song by song, but rather, you take it in as a whole. Behexen really outdid themselves with this one. The sound is truly akin to demons roving their way up from Hell. And if the the Satanic lyrical themes are any inclination into the band’s true intentions, Behexen would have it no other way.
The thing I like about Behexen, is that they’ve always sought to stay true to black metal’s original message and sound. Sure, they’ve matured over the years, but Behexen is still as atmoshpheric, ugly, and anti Christian as ever. It’s refreshing in an era when so many bands are weak saucing it up with the whole black and roll trend. The Poisonous Path is pure and unadulterated orthodox black metal. Horns’ masterful drumming sticks out. He doesn’t merely blast his whole way through the album but only when appropriate. Then he melts your face off. This is particularly noticeable in “A Sword of Promethean Fire” and the closing track “Rakkaudesta Saatanaan”, both of which are masterfully executed.
A track that stood out to me as one of the prettier pieces on the album was “Umbra Lucifari”. Wrath’s guitar work on the track is captivating with its both melodic and hateful quality. You can just lose yourself in the haunting melody. This track definitely got the repeated a few times. But, as I stated earlier, The Poisonous Path is an album to be consumed as whole rather listened to track by track. Haunting, atmospheric, and otherworldly, The Poisonous Path wails its way into through your speakers and into your empty soul. If you’re looking for a hellish and heavy black metal release in 2016, look no further than The Poisonous Path.
Talk to any record/CD hoarding metal elitist and they’ll have you believing that anyone who’s ever downloaded an album illegally might as well be stealing money directly out of a band’s pocket like an orphan out of Oliver Twist. Don’t get me wrong. Illegally downloading music is a somewhat unsavory action, akin to stealing change out of a friend’s glove box, or farting on your roommate’s pillow. I would definitely encourage a “scene supporter” to either buy CDs directly from a band, or MP3s from Bandcamp or directly from labels. But illegal downloading isn’t the epidemic that CD collecting snobs would have you believe, nor is even the main contributor to the current pay to play culture within the metal zeitgeist.
People have been listening to music for free since forever. All the metal veterans who constantly harken back to the glory days of tape trading were basically just downloading music illegally. CD collectors who buy anything at used record stores are basically stealing from the band as well. Do you stream music on Youtube or Spotify? You fucking thief! The fact of the matter is, that unless you purchase a CD, MP3, or record directly from a label or at a show from the band, there’s really no guarantee that the band is getting any money from the sale.
So if record sales never really made a huge impact on a band’s income, what does? Well first off underground metal bands really never made that much money. As a general rule, metal bands don’t experience mainstream success and radio play because of the extreme nature of their sound. Cannibal Corpse released three albums before they could even quit their day jobs. But today the idea of a band being able to quit their day job is practically unheard of. Bands used to make money off of ticket sales, merch sales, interviews, and appearences. But today most underground bands literally pay to play. So what changed? When did ticket and merch sales go down so dramatically that bands simply couldn’t make a profit let alone sustain themselves? And why?
The problem does not stem from illegal downloading or even over accessibility via the internet, although admittedly those two elements might contribute it. The true problem in the scene, however, is over saturation. Twenty and thirty years ago, thrash, death, and black metal were still groundbreaking genres within metal. Every week bands were pushing boundaries and playing heavier and faster than their predecessors. Bands like Death, Slayer, Possessed, Deicide, Destruction, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Ulver, Sepultura, and Morbid Angel paved the way for countless other bands. New genres, like doom, folk, and grind were born. Genres began coalescing and blackened thrash, and death grind were born. Death metal became brutal, then melodic. Black metal became raw, then pagan. New things were happening and it was exciting. Bands had a signature sound.
Bands continued to push the limits until sooner or later, everything had been done. That, however, didn’t stop people from continuing to write music. Instead of trying to be completely original, since that became an impossibility, musicians began drawing from their influences. Eventually metal became the massive, worldwide phenomenon it is today. While that’s unbelievably awesome for the average fan, it creates a problem for would be musicians because of an increase in competition. There are simply too many bands. With as many bands as there are, one would think that the streets would be swarming with metal musicians everywhere you looked. It’s actually almost weird that kind of fucking lame that that is not the case, but I digress.
The thing is that there are simply too many bands for even the truest fan to keep up with. Tell me one band you like, and I can name about ten more that you’d like based on that. Like Dissection? You should check out Vinterland, Eternal Lies, Nalgfar, Istapp, Lord Belial, Thulcandra etc, etc…. Like Destroyer 666? You’ll probably like Slaughter Messiah, Aura Noir, Frosthelm, Excidium, Lord etc.. We just have too many choices anymore and that’s both good and bad. Because metalheads are both eclectic and not fickle, it means that we never usually let go of our favorite albums, even after the band has broken up, and we’re always open to listen to another band that’s true to our preferences. But since there are so many bands, no one can keep up. A pair of friends can be talking about bands at a show and mention ten bands each that their friend has never heard of. Neither’s cred even comes into question. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve had it happen to me. It’s ridiculous. It’s a problem. So how do we rectify this problem?
It’s probably too late but there are a few things we can do. First of all, some of you need to put down your instruments. Look, I know you’re passionate, and you want to create, but most of you are mediocre and you’re not contributing much to the scene with your music. If you want to be involved in the scene, there are so many other ways to involve yourself. Book shows, draw sick art, write reviews, take photographs of nature, print shirts, open a record store, do lights……I could go on and on. Maybe starting band isn’t for everyone. Some of you just need to be fans. There’s nothing more ridiculous than being at a show that’s literally bands watching bands. That shit happens all the damn time.
If you’re in a band, stop with the goddamn side projects. So you’re in a thrash band but you’ve really been getting into DSBM and you’re thinking about starting a one man project? No, just no! Either quit the thrash band and focus on the DSBM project or vice versa. For God’s sake don’t do both. The only reason there are so many bands but metal musicians aren’t filling the streets is because everyone is in three bands. Just stop. Focus on one thing and make it great. Try and be original as hard as that can be. Try and have a signature sound. Pour your blood into your project. Make an impact on the scene.
Fans, really need to start getting to know bands and their material. This can be difficult with so much music to choose from just a click away on youtube, but it’s a trend that needs to resurface. Back in the 90’s, we’d buy every Death album, or whomever, and listen to those albums over and over until they became ingrained in our memory, and we knew every word, and every solo by heart. Today, there’s so much music readily available, we’ve all developed musical ADD. We practically forget what a band sounds like right after listening to them. We’re already on the next band. This needs to stop. Fandom and obsession needs to be reborn. Of course, everyone has their favorite bands that they already behave like fanboys around, all I’m suggesting is that we do this more. There are artists I have liked a lot that I never just never got around to listening to more than one or two albums from, let alone their entire discography, simply because of the sheer volume of my music collection.
And the last, and most important factor is to go to shows. Go to as many as possible Buy merch while you’re there. Get drunk and have a good time. Be a fan. Even if you’re in a band, go see other bands. Bring your friends and get the word out. This is where bands make their money. on merch and ticket sales. Show your support!
So I suppose my conclusion is that, metal has way more problems than illegal downloading. If you own a thousand records but you never get out and see live music, I hate to break it to you but you are not a scene supporter. All that means is that you are willing to designate a large portion of your apartment space to your huge music collection. If you downloaded a few albums because you’re poor, you’re not the worst person ever either. As long as you go to shows, and buy a t-shirt here or there, you fucking rule! Let’s all stop the guilt tripping then and just try to create something original. With that in mind, let’s bang our heads to some old Slayer, a truly original band in their time. Your band couldn’t touch what they did.
Wo Fat aren’t a metal band in the purest sense. In fact, the band doesn’t even have a metal archives page, which is kind of a prerequisite for being metal (unless of course, you belong to this new school horde of bandcamp metal bands that refuses to set up a metal archives page, but I get to them at a later date) . Wo fat isn’t that though. They’re more of psychedelic rock band. But Underworld will pay its respects to Wo Fat because Wo Fat has one thing that all metalheads crave and fiend for like a bunch of junkies………riffs.
Despite not being a traditional metal band per say, any metal fan worth his weight in salt would have respect for the kind of freak out , psychedelic, guitar worship reverberations pumped out by the Texas, desert rock trio. Wo Fat combines all the best elements from early classic rock (cool riffs, long trippy solos, and mind fuck, stoner lyrics) and metals up the sound by cranking up the distortion. Wo Fat, and most other modern psychedelic rock bands, completely omit the folky or cheesy elements many classic rock bands embraced in the 70’s, instead writing every song as though it’s the long version of Uriah Heep’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor” or something. That’s where the appeal for metal heads comes in. But Wo Fat is also a band you can enjoy with your dad. Figured I’d slip that in considering it’s Father’s Day and all.
Aside from the short, driving anthem “Riffborn”, all the tracks on Midnight Cometh are almost 10 minutes long, featuring long solos, and jam breaks. “Of Smoke and Fog”, the longest track on the album, particularly stood out for me, with its long build up and groovy jam toward the end of the track. The track’s chorus was noteably catchy as well, the kind of chorus that lodges itself in your brain for hours after listening to it. The album continues with this general theme and ends epically with Nightcomer, a freakout anthem, with bombastic drumming and mind blowing jams. This isn’t your typical stoner shit. Wo Fat brings it hard as fuck. From the first riff in “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind”, metalheads, stoners, and dads alike will be hooked. Fans of Naam, Egypt, Budgie, and Mountain take note. This is an album that will find it’s way into regular rotation in your playlist. So roll up a doob and get ready to freak the fuck out. Midnight Cometh is a must listen for 2016.