1914- “Blind Leading the Blind”: An Underrated 2018 Banger

1914- bllind leading the blind album cover

I’m admittedly a bit late to the party in discovering this effort but sometimes an album crushes you so hard it’s impossible to ignore — 3 months old or not. Ukrainian war-themed blackened death metal band 1914‘s sophomore release “The Blind Leading the Blind” is memorable enough to become timeless.

The album immediately crushes the listener, opening with a machine gun riff and pummeling blast beats, fitting for the album’s war inspired theme. “The Blind Leading the Blind” has more range than the simple, yet catchy, lightening fast melodies of classic battle-driven blackened death metal; the album unfolds into various progressions that capture an unpredictable, anti-war theme.

On the overall theme of the band, front man Dmytro Kumar says he’s always been fascinated by WWI, particularly the impact it had on the Ukrainian nation — nearly destroying it in its wake. His obsession led him to study war archaeology and he’s even gone on archaeological digs.

In an interview with Echoes and Dust Magazine he says “I love films, books, stories, artifacts of this war. And no, it`s not about idealism. You cannot idealize any war – because war is always about shitty politics and bullshit propaganda, death, mud, mass graves, suffering, broken lives, despair. I just love history and this strange feeling – when you dig up a soldier, who died here 100 years ago, you sit down near these bones which once were human, with all human’s stuff – love, feelings, hope, some hobbies, maybe he was a beer lover, traveler, good musician, painter, maybe just good father or son, whose parents were waiting at home, you think – why and for what did he die? Why this fucking Homo sapiens always killing each other? I don’t know, I just don’t have an answer.”

1914-band-pic

This complex attitude on history and war shines through in the overall sound of the album. Though “The Blind Leading the Blind” has several intense moments that absolutely crush, there are progressions into slower, more emotion driven interludes and interesting samples of soldiers marching or jaunty war anthems. Staying true to their Ukrainian heritage, 1914 even includes some folk elements at times.

In many ways, “The Blind Leading the Blind” stands in a class of its own, but there are some similarities to the avant garde appeal of early Septic Flesh here — with fewer symphonic elements. The seamless, yet schizophrenic way they incorporate the cello on tracks such as “Passchenhell” definitely hearkens back to the frenzied sounds of “Communion.” But I think this band’s biggest strength is their natural sense of melody and their ability to slow and speed the tempo at just the right moments.

I particularly noticed this on the second track, entitled “A7V Mephisto,” which starts out slow and brooding only to bludgeon the listener at just the right time. The band strikes the perfect balance between plodding, melancholy bridges, dirge laden interludes and face ripping intensity. This is a band that definitely deserves more attention. As of right now, the band is only signed to a small European label called Archaic Sound, but with a second album this strikingly good, I think we expect to be hearing a lot more from 1914 in the future.

9/10

 

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1349 Shows Range With New Single “Dødskamp”

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, Edvard Munch. 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).

dødskamp
Dødskamp: Munch

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 Noisey documentary. 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 Bandcamp now. The 10″, including the live bonus track, “Atomic Chapel,” will be available for purchase on April 5, 2019.

 

Dismember Reunites For an Exclusive Show

scandinavia deathfest official flyer

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, Tomb Mold 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 Nuclear Assault, 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.

 

 

Nasheim Streaming New Track!

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.

Underworld Zine’s 10 Best Metal Albums of 2018

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!

Honorable Mentions:

Deicide- Overtures of Blasphemy

Bane- Esoteric Formulae

Nocturnal Graves- Titan

Satan- Cruel Magic

Uada- Cult of a Dying Sun