Category Archives: Featured Articles

Record Store Day Sucks, Metal Sucks, and Collector Scum.

For the past three days since the ever growing “holiday” of Record Store Day happened, my news feed on various social media outlets has been flooded by an ever present article from Axl (pictured above in his metal glory).  The general gist of the story is that NAILS’ Todd Jones doesn’t like Record Store Day; and in all honest neither should you. I’m going to breakdown exactly what’s wrong with the article and Record Store day in general.

The gist of the problem is one many bands face gearing up in the face of the ever devouring machine known as “The Big Studios”. In the months leading up to Record Store Day at least for the last few years major labels have been flooding pressing plants with limited edition (and by that I mean only a million copies minted!) albums you probably already own or can buy cheaper at the shop already. This leaves independent or self-distributed artists out in the cold and money essentially locked in escrow forever.

Let me put it this way, I own a small label and we do occasionally press vinyl, normally in 100-200 batch run.  Now even at 100 LPs that’s still costing me over 3k to press, do you think a major pressing plant is going to rush order my job over a copy of Atreyu’s greatest hits? Of course not. What’s 100 vs 1 million. So now I get to wait months and months while whatever drivel Jack White is pushing out in tye dye vinyl gets rushed straight through in time for the magic “Record Store Day”

Record Store Day by itself isn’t a bad concept.  In fact, it was a great one. A day dedicated to going to your local brick house record store buying some LPs and getting something cool. The problem is that LPs now outsell CDs, and the major studios are all but eager to take advantage of the collector scum market to get some great big bucks out of the process. After all, what’s going to get new customers to a store quicker than a reissue picture of the Sex Pistols?

This will be sure to bring out the hidden vinyl fans!

What’s even worse is the fact that not only can I go into just about any brick store I could find that album for under $3.50, but now it’s all fair, we have the picture disc! And it’s only $22.99! Take a look through the exclusives, they’re all probably albums you already own or albums you find in the vinyl section of the Goodwill.  What’s even worse is that Axl, again as pictured above in all his metal glory with Samurai Cop at Lolicon or whatever paedophile convention that happens to be taken at doesn’t understand, of all the “exclusives” the only really metal thing listed in an Anthrax 7″, but knowing Axl he’s probably counting the Atreyu and Five Finger Death Punch albums as well.

But I’m not here to get off on a tangent or post memes like other blogs, I’m here simply to say this; NAILS has an album ready to go but can’t be pressed because everyone is pressing the greatest hits of the Clash or assembling a Nirvana Boxset of material you’ve already heard (only this time… it was recorded on a tape deck!) There’s nothing unique or special, there’s nothing that brings new people in. It’s shit for collectors and people thinking picture discs and limited super special glow in the dark editions are worth something, or well, hipsters. I’d also like to take the time time to point out that NAILS is traditionally a powerviolence/grind band so posting some idiotic black metal photo is ridiculous.

Almost as ridiculous as getting hit in the face with a dildo….

You know, a lot of people who know me know I love two things, metal and comics.  But let’s take a page from “the industry that does it right”, of course I mean comics. Sure, it’s crass, it’s capitalistic, and it serves only to get more readers for a month or so, but damn it at least comic book day does it right. None of this omnibus $200 special limited edition bullshit. Hell, you get free 0 issues and #1, on any given comic book day you can walk out with not only a shit load of free books from indies and the big two, but a lot of discounted back issues.  That’s an industry that managed to capitalize it’s audience, draw in new people, and do it in a way that doesn’t push any books aside with only one distro and 3 printers in the entire US.

I admit, I’m guilty of being collector scum, I needed the first copy of Faith No More’s Sol Invictus on cassette and vinyl, and I needed the original issues of James Robinson’s Starman run; but at least on Comic Book Day I don’t see people with shitty blogs making fun of artists (when they themselves probably couldn’t write a song much less an album) for legitimate complaints about an industry that’s built entirely around the idea that idiots buy idiot things. To put it another way, will someone walk in and say, “What’s this Flaming Lips jive? Might want to pony up a few hundred for a box set of glow in the dark vinyls to find out.” Is saying,”look we have all your old shit, only it’s on slightly higher grade vinyl and also, we’re going to make sure you don’t get new shit you have not heard just so you can re-buy Straight Out of Compton again”, a way to get people in vinyl or even into a music store? Of course not.

Everyone hates buying the same shit twice, even if it’s been remixed in dolby digital 5.1 surround. And in the end, if the goal is to bring new people into stores, or even bring people into stores in general give them something new, not something they can find there already. Give them incentive beyond “it’s a different color now”.  And if your goal is to be a writer than don’t bitch about a band for having a legitimate grievance with a broken system; and definitely don’t poke fun at them.  Until then true believers, I’ll simply say this; take a note from the industry that manages to get a new audience with new material even if it means pressing on cereal box presses (Yeah, Charlton Comics did that.  Give the buyer something new, not the same old shit. I’ll enjoy DC Rebirth #0, Record Store Day can enjoy paying 30 bucks for the same Ragina Specktor album you already bought 5 years ago, or a copy of “The Shaggs” 7″ which, let’s be honest you only really want because at one point Frank Zappa said they were brilliant and it’ll impress your friends!  End rant!  Here’s NAILS!


The Uprising of Bengal: Bangladesh’s Thriving Metal Scene


In case you haven’t heard, in the past few years there has been a massive influx of quality, old school metal bands coming out of Bangladesh. The first band to pioneer the burgeoning Bengali scene was Barzak, who later changed their name to Orator. There has been a constant and positive uprise of metal music in the country ever since.


Orator is a band who wasn’t afraid to break barriers. They were the first extreme metal band from the country to achieve recognition internationally. They were also amongst the first bands in the local extreme metal scene to play in gigs and fests outside the country. Secondly, they are one of the first to attract international label to release their music.

Along with Orator emerged bands such as Warhound, Nafarmaan, Morbidity, Enmachined, Abominable Carnivore, Burial Dust, Eternal Armageddon, Nuclear Winter, and Exalter. More recently, acts like Surtur and Infuscation began to sweep onto the scene. These bands have been making waves in the underground and aren’t stopping any time soon.

In Bangladesh, a relatively new country, metal is still in its infancy, however. Extreme metal bands didn’t start coming out of Bangladesh until the early 2000s. In contrast to the USA or Europe, where various Metal sub-genres were already established in the 80s and 90s, it is safe to say that metal is new to Bangladesh. Although there were bands that can be dubbed as “proto-metal” or heavy metal back in the 80s and 90s, most notably Rockstrata and Warfaze, extreme genres of metal hadn’t taken shape until the early 2000s in Bangladesh.

The first bands to make waves in Dhaka’s underground were Weapon and Barzak. Although Weapon was formed in Canada, their first two releases were recorded in Bangladesh. The Bengal scene is home to several genres, and pigeon holing its sound can be difficult, although a lot of quality death/thrash is known to come out of the country.


Severe Dementia,however, was one of the first bands out of Bangladesh to play death metal in the mid 2000s. The band deems their sound as “Eastern death metal”, which is very similar to American brutal tech death. Severe Dementia are arguably the first band to play the genre in Bangladesh, and are said to be pioneers in the scene. Orator (Barzak) released their demo in 2005. The band released their first full length album, Qabiluhu, in 2006 under the name Barzak and soon changed their name after its release. Since 2008, they’ve played in gigs in Thailand and India. They debuted in Dhaka with a band called Manzer, which apparently was the first Metal gig in Bangladesh with an international band in the bill. And the arrival of Manzer in Bangladesh gave birth to an entity who is single handedly responsible for the uprise of the metal scene in Dhaka.

Severe Dementia

Primitive Invocation are a group of dedicated metalheads working to promote metal in Bangladesh. They issued the first metal zine in the history of the country and organized various gigs. They are well known for their work with “Banish The Posers Fest” which is, to this day, the biggest and most successful metal festival in Bangladesh. Acts like Impiety, Lobotomy, Savage Deity, Funerus and many more have came to Dhaka to play at BTPF. And this year it has been announced that Japanese Thrash Metal band Riverge will be playing at BTPF 16 in October.

Primitive Invocation inspired a lot of people in the community to start contributing the scene. In 2013, for the first time in Bangladesh, there were labels dedicated to releasing metal music and labels that released international bands in the country. Labels like Metal Monger Records have released bands like Master, who are arguably one of the first death metal bands in the world. This concentration of radioactive metal in Bangladesh is yet to expand. And I am confident that they will be emanating more and more quality metal music in the future. And as a fan, the scene in Bangladesh has my eternal support. And I highly recommend everyone to check out bands from Bangladesh!  And be sure to hit up Banish the Posers Fest in October if you’re in the area!

-Hridoy Rayhan


Tabitha’s Top Six Picks for 2015

2015 was an exceptionally good year for metal. Bands that we hadn’t heard from in years released new albums. Great new bands stormed onto the scene. Black metal bands found their way onto American tours for the first time ever. We saw festivals get bigger and fantastic independent bands get signed to notable, underground labels. 2015 proved that metal is still alive and thriving more than ever. With all that in mind, picking a top six for the year was an exceedingly difficult task. After much deliberation though, I finally settled on the following six releases. Keep in mind that this is just one asshole’s opinion. You are entitled to your lame opinions as well. Don’t be gay.

6. Nile| What Should Not Be Unearthed


These guys always come hard. Maybe it’s because they have been around for over twenty years and are older than dirt, which means they’ve had a lot of practice. In prior years, I wouldn’t have put them in the top six, but this release was different. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is their best album since “Annihilation of the Wicked”.

What makes this album stand out is the complexity and diversity of the songs. Each track brings something unique to the table. The guitar solos, technicality, and drum work are all irrefutably insane, leaving tech death connoisseurs speechless on their first listen. Despite this, the album has that “old school” appeal as its heaviness is unparalleled.

Also notable, are the lyrical themes on this album. The song “Call to Destruction” is particularly ballsy in its attacks on the futility and destruction of war as well as bringing attention to the dangerousness of religious fanaticism. The focus on current events is a welcome change for Nile. Yes, Nile truly outdid themselves this year, but listen for yourself and be the judge. “What Should Not Be Unearthed” is a must have for 2015.


5. Finsterforst| Mach Dich Frei


This band seriously came out of nowhere. Aside from being the sexiest folk metal band to come out of Germany in a long time, Finsterforst can tout being one of the best. “Mach Dich Frei” is the forth release from the band and the one to put them on the map. Napalm Records signed Finsterforst a few years back and can be accredited for the exposure they’ve received for “Mach Dich Frei”. Thankfully, the exposure and praise was well deserved.

Beginning to end, “Mach Dich Frei” is an unapologetic celebration of heathenistic, pagan values, espousing triumph, freedom, and victory with every breath. The folk elements on the record are unique, as the band allows for large accordion sections in the majority of the songs. Yes, Finsterforst has an accordion player and he plays a huge role in creating their distinctive sound.

One can easily be reminded of “Nordland” era Bathory while listening to “Mach Dich Frei” and the compliment is largely earned. With seven members in the band, Finsterforst creates an incredibly full and complicated sound, sprinkled with hidden intricacies and surprises. Simon Shillinger, Johannas Joseph, and Cornelius Heck’s clean vocals are truly remarkable, and cathartic. The band is also not afraid of writing longer songs. The last track on the album, entitled “Finsterforst”, is a twenty-three-minute-long metal symphony. “Mach Dich Frei” is a truly extraordinary addition to the world of blackened pagan/folk metal; a definite must listen for 2015.


4. Perdition Temple| The Tempter’s Victorious

perdition temple

This was one of those bands that all my friends were talking about and raving over like a bunch of drooling hounds. Other than hearing them being played in the background at afterhours parties, I waited a ridiculously long time to listen to this band. Perdition Temple is basically a continuation of black/death aficionados, Angelcorpse’s career, and their influence is apparent on “The Tempter’s Victorious”. If you’re looking for the most aggressive and dangerous sounding LP of 2015, “The Tempter’s Victorious” is definitely in the running.

The production on this album is ridiculously meaty and full, yet manages to keep in tune with the aggression of the old school and never sounds digital. The blast beats are bludgeoning and the guitar solos are in line with 80’s Teutonic thrash, yet unbelievably proficient despite their vileness. These points are exemplified on stand out tracks like “Scythes of the Antichrist” and “The Doomsday Chosen”. The anti-

Christian and anti-human lyrics are surprisingly intelligent and well thought out, and frankly, a pleasure to read. This album is a definite 10/10. If you’re looking for a sound to open the gates of hell, look no further. Listening to “The Tempter’s Victorious” will burn your fragile soul.


3. Istapp| Frostbiten


Just when I had made peace with the reality that Istapp was probably never going to release another album, they went ahead and kicked my ass with the release of “Frostbiten” back in August. What a treat this was for the fans. More than just a continuation on 2010’s “Bleklinge”, “Frostbiten” was an improvement. Istapp keeps the essence of Swedish melodic black metal alive with an incredible, throwback sound that coalesces the spirit of Dissection with early Wintersun. Folk elements are woven into the mix in an unassuming manner. The production is kvlt enough to avoid sounding like melodeath, yet remains professional sounding.

I seriously find no fault with this LP in the slightest. “Frostbiten” never bores the listener and each song is memorable. Istapp will leave your blood frozen with tracks like “Skoll”, “Apep”, and “Primim Frigidum”. “Frostbiten”, the title track, has a hauntingly beautiful and catchy chorus, sung in clean vocals. Melodies are evocatively dissonant and leave listeners absolutely captivated. I could go on and on giving this band praise but nothing compares to listening for yourself. Istapp truly impaled listeners this year, like the icicles they’re named after. “Frostbiten” was definitely worth the wait.


2. Kroda| Ginnungagap, Ginnungagaldr, Ginnungakaos


Ukrainian lyrics, Icelandic album title… it just me or does it seem like Kroda is trying to avoid becoming popular in America? Unfortunately, when you release an album of this caliber, you’re going to get American attention whether you like it or not. What can I really say? This is another Kroda record, almost perfection beginning to end.

Blackened dissonance permeates throughout the album, leaving listeners spellbound. Kroda gives Melodic Swedish metal bands a real run for their money with this album. The distinctiveness and beauty of each melody on this record is incomparable. Somehow, Kroda manages to create a sound that’s both victorious and misanthropic at once. This is the stuff pagan metal is made of: pure beauty, pure victory, pure nationalism, and pure freedom and harmony amongst nature. All of these ideologies resonate through Kroda’s distinctive sound.

Einenslav’s vocals are among the best in the industry, dripping with unrestrained eccentricity that’s aesthetically pleasing. The flute parts are intricate, complex, and strikingly beautiful. I can’t really say too much more. Other than being a bit slower than some prior releases, this is simply another Kroda record; an unrivalled display of absolute beauty and perfection.


1. MGLA| Exercises in Futility


A few of my favorite elitist asshole bloggers have been saying that “Exercises in Futility” is too smooth and lacks the ugliness and misanthropic aggression of early black metal. They’ve said that there’s not enough rawness in this record’s sound to classify it as true black metal. I must admit, they have a point. Black metal has been changing quite a bit over the past few years. Some might say it’s been watered down to appeal to the masses. Go ahead and call me a big old pussy trend lover then, because I can’t stop listening to this album. I’m not alone here either, as this album has boasted predominantly rave reviews.

Listeners really need to try hard not to cut themselves like emo kids after listening to “Exercises in Futility’s” extreme, nihilistic messages. The beauty in the repetitiveness of the riffs harkens back to the early days of black metal and is incredibly cathartic, yet the production is decent. No, this was not recorded on a tape deck. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Despite the album merely being broken up into six, self-titled chapters, each song had a unique personality of its own. Tracks IV and VI are particularly memorable and emotion inducing. The quality of the drumming is hard not to notice as well. Blasts are tasteful and intricate, blending beautifully with the guitar and bass. The lyrics are bleakly dark and poetic and the vocals are nothing short of amazing.

“Exercises in Futility” is addictive more than anything else. You’ll easily find yourself hitting the repeat button on your favorite song until you’re damn near late for work. MGLA really outdid themselves with this one. “Exercises in Futility” is beautiful music for you to die to.

Well, there you have it, one elitists top six picks for the year. What are yours? List them in the comments. Stay trve! 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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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 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


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

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!

Native American Folk Metal

American Indian culture has been associated with metal since its roots. Bands like Iron Maiden, Manowar and Anthrax celebrated American Indian culture and empathized with the plight of their race, in songs like Run to the Hills, Spirit of the Cherokee and, of course, Indians.  It makes perfect sense for metal to celebrate such a culture, as it is enmeshed with struggle, strife, warrior lords, mystery and magic. Indian culture is as celebrated in metal as Egyptian or Viking culture because of its mystery.

However, there is a clandestine subset of metal warriors taking the enigma and plight of the Native Americans to whole new levels. Native American folk metal is a sub genre quickly making its way to the forefront. Also dubbed ancestral metal, pre-hispanic metal or tribal metal, this relatively new genre incorporates the use of indigenous instruments into its sound to embody a fullness and uniqueness in sound and melody that rivals well known Russian folk bands like Kroda or Nokturnal Mortum.

I stumbled upon this genre accidentally. With my interest in the flute growing, I was curious as to what American bands were pumping out great folk metal. People tend to forget that America is more than just the USA, so in my quest I chanced upon a slew of South American, Mexican and Central American bands, all celebrating their indigenous roots and shunning an unwelcome invasion of the Spaniards in their credo. I detected a glimmer of underlying “nationalism” (should I say) in the music, which took me back to the roots of the Scandinavian black metal scene of the 90’s. However their rage is justified and I empathized with the message delivered.

I listened to a number of bands and gained a great deal of respect for the purity of the genre, but three artists stuck with me, with epic albums that I will revisit over and over.
Carlo Alonso “Hueso” Raffo~ Vocals, Guitars (rhythm)
Marcelo Huacpe~ Native Instruments
Carlos Llosa~ Bass
Fabián Flores Castro~ Drums
Christian Aguirre~ Guitars (lead)

Upon first listening to this band, I was ready to discard them as a 3 inches of blood rip off.  They quickly redeemed themselves, however, by exceeding the power of 3 inches of blood and refining a unique sound all their own.  Their is a sense of victory achieved in the sound, helping to conjure images of battle and the hunt.  Injecting masterfully timed breaks with clean vocals and buildups of epic proportions, this band certainly knows how to leave a listener hooked and wanting for more.  At it’s heart, Peruvian outfit, Ch’aska is a thrashy power metal band, larger than life and bombastic, but the addition of native woodwind instruments to their sound gives the band an interesting feel.  Thus far, Ch’aska has released only one full length album entitled Pururauca and a couple of EP’s.  We can only hope to hear more from this band soon.  I know they have me hooked.

Munseishi~ Ancestral Woodwinds
Naoma~ Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Saitaz~ Bass
Demolt~ Drums
Itztlin~ Vocals

Columbia’s Guahaihoque is the first tribal metal band I had the pleasure of listening to.  What this band does really well is incorporate the use of indigenous instruments in an ingenious way.  Perhaps the most “tribal” of the bands I’ve heard, Guahaihohoque struggled to keep my attention during the more metal parts of their album The Return of the Ancient Gods, only truly shining with their folk elements.  Some of the riffing sounded a bit immature, even “punkish”.  While the band may need to work on refining their sound, their use of the wooden flute is practically hypnotic, making this band truly noteworthy and groundbreaking.


Nelson Vilaboa~ Bass
Martin Moreira~ Drums
Erik Nicolas Muñoz Arraño~ Guitars
Pedro Muñoz~ Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Andrés de la Cuadra~ Keyboards
Cristóbal Carmona~ Vocals

Of all the bands within this atypical genre, I was perhaps most impressed by the Chilean sextet, Folkheim.  Forming back in 2003, Folkheim has released two EP’s and their first full length album last year.  Mapu Ni Tiam (the bands first full length release) floored me, as did their EP, Pachakuti.  Folkheim would be considered great black/folk metal even by Russian or Scandinavian standards, with their captivating melodies and hypnotizing breaks into clean chant-like vocals.  Their use of the keyboards is utterly ingenious as it evokes emotions of sadness, embodying the trail of tears left behind by a once sovereign race.  Overall, though, the feel of the music is that of victory, like in all great folk metal.  Once again this band doesn’t forget their native roots, using indigenous instruments throughout their records.  What truly sets Folkheim apart, is the literal, breaks of strictly native music sprinkled throughout their releases that evoke images of rain dances, battle cries and buffalo jumps.  I have yet to find even one song I don’t like.  Folkheim is epic beyond measure.

For those among you bored by the droves of cookie cutter black and folk metal bands, but not wanting to delve into hipster territory for a change of pace, I highly recommend this great new genre.  It is like nothing you’ve ever heard.  So everyone, get out your peace pipe, relax and join me around the fire for a little tribal metal.  Happy Listening.  Hails!