Tag Archives: black metal

A Brutally Honest Review of the New “Lords of Chaos” Film

Lords of Chaos

Spoiler Alert; although I assume most inclined to watch the movie already know the bloody details of the “satanic black metal underground” in Norway.

Most in the metal community rightfully cringed while viewing the trailer for the recently released “Lords of Chaos” film. “Lords of Chaos” was released on Friday, February 15, 2019. The film was directed by former Bathory drummer Jonas Akerland and starred Rory Culkin (Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother) as Euronymous and Emory Cohen as Varg. It is loosely based on a true story as it was depicted in the bestselling novel “Lords of Chaos” by Michael Moynihan, which is widely known to have grossly exaggerated the events that took place between the infamous “Black Circle” in Norway in the early 90s. Despite the fact that the book is an obvious exaggeration of the events, reading it is still much more worth one’s time than watching this absolute disaster of a film.

The first notable detail was director Akerlund’s odd decision for Euronymous’ character, played by Rory Culkin, to provide a “Wonder Years” style narration to the film. This gave the movie an immediate air of cheesiness. And although the film did not appear to be taking itself too seriously, any real chances at humor were lost under a thick veil of discomfort that seemed to plague all the actors onscreen. As if watching a high school production, it was extremely obvious the characters were acting, which made them difficult to connect with.

What especially irked me was the disappointing portrayal of Varg Vikernes in the film. Although the man is completely bat-shit crazy, what makes him so dangerous is his intelligence. “Lords of Chaos,” however, portrayed Varg as slow-witted, reckless and a bit of a follower. They focused heavily on his involvement in national socialism but not all on how role-playing games influenced him. Later in the film, when his involvement in politics was supposed to be getting deeper, Cohen’s dedication seemed contrived or forced. I just didn’t buy it. Even his burgeoning anger toward Euronymous seemed disingenuous.

The movie was also sloppily put together. The depiction of Bard Faust, for example, was particularly thoughtless. The character is introduced only in passing at Euronymous’ store, Helvete. Moments later he’s depicted brutally stabbing a homosexual man to death. There’s little to no lead up to this horrific scene. It’s 0 to 100 with this character.

It’s flubs like these that led to, perhaps, the most disappointing aspect of the film — the utter lack of relevant music in the soundtrack. Aside from “Freezing Moon” and “Necrolust,” which were repeatedly played in the score, practically no Norwegian black metal appeared in the film. This is because the bands refused to sign off on the rights to the music after reading the script — which blatantly admits it’s full of lies. Instead of modifying the script to gain the support of the bands portrayed in the film, Akerlund went ahead and began shooting and it shows.

Dead- Lords of Chaos
Dead

Although I have very little positive feedback for this film, I must admit the portrayal of Dead’s suicide and the stabbings of Euronymous and Magne Andreassen were exceptionally brutal, which is fitting for such a dark story. They did not hold back on the blood or shy away from showing Dead blow his brains out. In fact, though he laid it on pretty thick, Dead’s portrayal in the film was probably my favorite. The book talks a lot about Dead macabre obsession with death, road kill and astral projection and the movie seems to accurately depict the character.

“Lords of Chaos” the novel

Despite having spent years in conceptualization, as a final product, “Lords of Chaos” seemed rushed. In interviews, the actors seem to know little outside the conventional mythos, and many elements of the whole story were left out of the film. The lack of overall character development made the story difficult to engage. At the end of the day, what was missing from this narrative was a purpose. Though Euronymous’ admission at the end was surprising, the movie seemed to be in a hurry to fit in all the events without attempting to convey a message of any kind. Overall, I’d say stream this one for the lulz. This is not a serious production in any sense of the word.

3/10

 

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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.

 

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

Behemoth’s “I Loved You At Your Darkest” Explores New Styles

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve been calling out the extreme elitism of those who attempt to smear the unholy of name of Behemoth for years. The band’s last full length effort, “The Satanist,” held rank as a favorite of mine from Behemoth, especially given the album marked the band’s seeming return to their black metal roots. Naturally, when I found out Behemoth was releasing a new album, entitled “I Loved You at Your Darkest,” I jumped on the opportunity to review it.

The album starts out strong, with a fittingly blasphemous incantation, entitled “Solve.” This intro leads right into the crushing “Wolves of Siberia.” Things seem fine until track 4. That’s when the album goes in a strange direction.

Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica” has a bit of a softened feel to it, as do many of the proceeding songs. There’s an emotional atmosphere that almost attempts to be palatable to a larger audience. While the technical musicianship is present, many of the tracks on “I Loved You at Your Darkest” lack the crushing quality Behemoth is so well known for.

That’s not to say these songs aren’t catchy in their own right. If Nergal has learned one thing throughout his nearly 30 career, it’s superior song writing. That said, some of these tracks struck me as odd. “If Crucifixtion Was Not Enough,” for example, almost had a punk air to it that seemed out of place within the context of the rest of the album. It was as though they were attempting to create a sort of black thrash feel but failed miserably.

As a mentioned earlier, there is a softness to this album that I haven’t heard in previous releases. When one considers the title of the album “I Loved You at Your Darkest” one can only surmise this must be a concept album. It leads to me wonder whether or not Nergal returned to his black metal roots in an attempt to broaden his musical range and experiment with more diverse styles.

That’s not to say this album entirely lacking the crushing breaks and blasphemous chanting that have become Behemoth’s signature. The more emotional aspects overpower the classic elements, however. I can’t help but feel “I Loved You at Your Darkest” will alienate some fans, even if the song structure is good overall . I also think that, at this point, the guys might not care.

“I Loved You at Your Darkest” will undoubtedly attract a broader fan base than Behemoth’s previous albums have, and given the band’s over the top image, it won’t be difficult for them to attract attention. Have they gone soft on us? Nah. I think they’re just experimenting with different approaches to their sound. Will the die hard fans be content with what “I Loved You at Your Darkest” has to offer? That remains to be seen. All I know is that I was a bit confused by this effort.

6.5/10

  originally published at All About the Rock

Destroyer Attack’s Latest Release Could Open the Gates of Hell

destroyer

The black metal community collectively celebrated in response to Ecuadorian black/death metal band Destroyer Attack’s sophomore release last month entitled, “Solve et Coagula” and for good reason — this album is fucking heavy!

Destroyer Attack are the kind of hardened war metal band you might expect to find posing with firearms. Clad in bullet belts and steeped in terrorizing aggression, this bestial foursome employs the best elements of war metal — in the vein of old Blasphemy — on their newest release.

The band doesn’t hold back or ease in the listener in any way; instead immediately attacking the listener with an onslaught of intensity within the first seconds of track 1, entitled “Communion of the Black Pest.” In fact, “Solve et Coagula” never wanes in aggression once. They pummel and blast from the first track to the last.

The first thing I noticed about this release was, despite their heaviness and aggression, Destroyer Attack has a great sense of melody. Many other bands in the same, war metal-esque vein — band such as Bestial Warlust or Black Witchery — have a tendency to succumb to noisiness and slop in their pursuit to create a “wall of sound.” Destroyer Attack, however, manages to maintain the tenets of good song writing on the LP; ultimately creating a neck breaking listening experience.

The production on this release truly stands out as well. Unlike other raw black/death albums, Solve et Coagula does not blur into a single angry fuzz — all instruments are clearly audible and the vocals  shine through at perfect volume. The drums are just audible enough  be impressive, but not pushed so far to forefront they drown the sound of the shreds. Overall, the LP maintains an aura of extreme anger while never forgetting to employ the kind of melody you could lose yourself in. Promo track “Purification Into the Internal Fire” is a perfect example of this buzzing melody put into action. The chorus and bridge are practically hypnotic despite maintaining an ugliness only found in bestial black/death metal.

The band’s roots in thrash metal might have something to do with their ability to inject complex melodies beneath the overall blasting intensity. Indeed, many tracks on the album, such as “Burying the Name of the Messiah” or “Ectoplasm” employed thrashier elements within them. This addition added to the melody in a positive way. Still, Destroyer Attack maintains that blasphemous and aggressive appeal throughout. The sound is pummeling in a way that conjures images of an erupting volcano spewing hellfire from the bowels of Gehenna itself.

This is the kind of album to listen to when you have become so cynical nothing sounds heavy enough for you anymore. Solve et Coagula is almost subversively intense. What makes them stand out, however, is their ability to maintain a whiplash inducing melody beneath the bludgeoning aggression. This is really great stuff here.

8.5/10

Order Solve et Coagula here: https://morbidskull.bandcamp.com/album/solve-et-coagula

 

 

Five New Bands You Should Be Listening To This Year

5. Grotesque Ceremonium

Turkey isn’t exactly the first place you think of when it comes to extreme metal, but Grotesque Ceremonium is putting Turkey on the map.  A one man project out of Ankara, Grotesque Ceremonium play satanic old school death metal with a blackened edge and a listenable groove.  Think Abhoror but more easily palatable.  The band released their first full length album entitled Demonic Inquisition with the up and coming label Satanath Records last year and the album kicks ass beginning to end.  This is a band you need to familiarize yourself with immediately.

 

4.Limbsplitter

Anyone in the Cleveland area knows Limbsplitter isn’t exactly a new band. They’ve been touring and playing fests since 2013.  2017 is when they really started to take off though, releasing their first full length album, Chloroform Cocktail.  Aside from having the most brutal album cover in history and hilarious song titles (Drenched in Menstruation anyone) Limbsplitter brings in hard with their musicianship. This is brutal death metal with a grindy feel and even some thrash and technical elements.  They’ve been praised in Metal Injection and featured on a number of fests.  Sick shit here.

 

3. Contaminated

Slow doomy death metal anyone?  Seriously, Australia’s Contaminated blew me away with their debut album, Final Man.  I can’t stop listening. This is some of the heaviest shit I’ve ever heard.  Contaminated coalesces the suffocating thickness of doom metal with the intensity of old school death metal to create a dense and truly massive sound.  What really resonated with me was how convincingly 90’s their debut sounded.  Final Man may as well have come out alongside classics like Autopsy’s Severed Survival.  Truly old school and original; Contaminated’s sound is simply crushing.

2. Degotten

For the life of me I can’t figure out why there hasn’t more buzz in the underground metal community over Degotten’s debut Hexentrost.  This is indisputably masterful blackened thrash with a power metal edge. With a sound that’s both colossal and dark, Chili’s Degotten are proverbial thrash metal warriors heading off to battle, six string axe in hand.  This album is thrash metal perfection, complete with cool riffs and shredding solos, but what sets Degotten apart from others in the black/thrash genre is the nod to classic heavy metal and their melodic undertones.  Original as can be, Hexentrost is a must have for 2017.

 

1. Cemetery Winds

I find it fascinating that such a perfect debut has managed to remain shrouded in obscurity, virtually uncovered by popular extreme metal music media. Cemetery Winds is a Finnish one man black/death project (at least I believe they are a one man project because J. Lukka is the band’s only listed active member).  Their style is melodic on an enthralling level while remaining unequivocally Scandanavian death metal.  The band’s debut, Unholy Ascentions, was released in February of this year.  What sets Cemetery Winds’ sound apart is that instead of drawing on black metal’s rawer elements, as has been the most recent trend in BM of the 2010’s, they follow the old horde and draw on the more melodic elements of the genre.  They achieve this while maintaining their originality and not falling victim to At the Gates worship. Unholy Ascensions is every bit as intense as any gritty Australian death metal band with the ambience of the most memorable Swedish black metal. This is truly incredible stuff.