Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Black Metal History Month - AD Hominem : "Napalm For All"

This project out of France seems to confuse people on multiple levels. People don't know who else is in the band aside from Kaiser. Lyrically it has been implied that the lyrics are political despite Kaiser say thing otherwise, this may or may not be due to the fact it implicates them as being National Socialist.Kaiser said this is untrue due to the fact the songs don't deal with the Aryan race but a distaste for all humans.He wrote the songs so I guess he would know best. Though the inner webs will tel you it happened on the album "the Planet Zog". I am really only paying attention to the album at hand and it is a mean fucking ripping son of a bitch. There is a slight German hint to some of the vocals on the song "I Am Love". Double bass buries you on the song, "Consecrate the Abomination", before the find a convincing groove.

These songs a very compact, almost punk influenced in their wild aggression that goes for the throat in a very straight forward manner. The first song where they throw a ton of blast beats at you is the title track. The drumming on this album is fan-fucking-tastic. It would be all the more impressive if Kaiser did indeed play everything on this album. There is more of a Shining feel to the black n roll of  "Goatfucker". Despite some of the song titles they seems very serious about what they are doing. Sure "Cult is Alive" punk Darkthrone could be a reference point , but there is a bigger more militant sound to what is going down here. With this being the case it is worth noting that these songs sound pretty solid from a production stand point. It doesn't sound like the amps are blown out and I would not say this is raw, but it is aggressive. While they don't drone, they do play off of a riff for what sometimes seems like a long time. It is not until "Imperial Massacre" that there straight forward nature begins to wear on me.

"Bomb the Earth" is just a blast fest like all the other blast fests. When double bass is added to pound the point into your head its clear there is a fair level of conviction behind it. There is a little more atmosphere leading into "You Are My Slut". The vocals alternate between a low spoken word approach on the verses and then building up into a distorted rasp. They close the album with "Vatican Gay" that has a more pronounced thrash chug to it that is accented by gang vocals. I'll give this album an 8.5. It's possible like the new Ilsa the more straight forward songs will grow on me. These guys are certainly worth checking out if you want black metal with a dense punk tinged thrashing to it.

This album is being released on April 13th by Osmose Records.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Black Metal History Month : VERHEERER - "maltrer"

This German band is not what I expect from Fallen Empire as they are way more melodic. There is plenty of atmosphere. They use keyboards well and combine traditional black metal with sweeping sonics that encompass a sound of their own making. The vocals are crazed growls. They are not afraid to really get metal and gallop. There is even a breakdown in this song that shows a powerful sense of dynamics. The drums on "Vertigo" slow down as the band hits a more throbbing groove. The vocals are a throaty mid range. I can begin to hear the German influence when they hit a marching beat.

The title track almost starts like a Metallica song.It throbs more than Metallica, though the harmony guitar melodies sound like a marginally more depressed take on classic metal. It does go into more of a traditional black metal blast beat here. When they keep the going to storm into "anima sola" the sound more like everyone else and I hear less of their distinctive voice that we got earlier in the album. When it gets to what would be the chorus they slow into more of a thrashing section. This reminds me more of Possessed. The chanting that is sampled in towards the song's second act helps re-establish the needed atmosphere they had begun to forsake.

"Nachtfall" finds the band slowing down going into the song. This gives them the breathing room they need and you can actually hear the bass. Before the minute mark they are back into the blast. This makes them sound more or less like the bulk of other black metal bands. There is a sweeping gallop to it and the drummer prefers double bass to blast beats most of the time which certainly helps. There is a cool unexpected shift into more of a groove about five minutes in which is what the song needed and sets them apart. They need more of that. They close the album with something slower than the pace most of the album has been at the song fades into the back ground so nothing to make me look away from the computer to take notice, but from what I did key in on the guitar melodies are on point and it doesn't suck.  I'll give this album an 8 , if you like black metal that is straight forward metal, but still adds a spin of it's own then this is worth a listen.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Black Metal History Month -Absurd : "Das Neue Blutgericht"

This band goes back all the way to the early 90s . They are mentioned in some detail in the book "Lords of Chaos". Metallum suggests that Hendrik Mobus is the only original member of the band, other accounts say this band is spearheaded by his brother. I am not going to get into the band's colored history, despite this being Black Metal History month as that is an article unto itself. So I am judging this album just on the merits of it's music. More black metal than some of the previous music I have heard from these guys they still lean heavily on punk to the point of almost eclipsing the more metallic core of the sound. There are more melodic than I remembered them being. The drumming is pretty decent and the montone rasp of the vocals proves to be one of their weaker points. German metal often strikes me as being stiff and these guys give their songs a little more breathing room often due to the guitar solos. They solos are not stellar but they work with what they are doing.

"Die Galgenbruder" has the first riff I am really sold on. It has more of a groove to it. The vocals don't do much in terms of complimenting , and go off into more of a rant. But lets face it with half the extreme metal out there the vocals are a static layer that never seem to really be given a ton of thought. This is not to say this is an excusable direction this kind of music has reverted to but it is a fact. They do enough to escape my rule of "cool riffs alone do not a good song make" by layering it with some melodic guitar solos that contribute to the mood rather than just wanking. "Strum Bricht Los" has more of a rock n roll feel, though there is a slight pagan slant in the way it swings like a viking drinking song. Another thing this album has going for it is the fact the songs are fairly concise and don't go off on long sprawling drones. They are not a droning band but cut from a cloth closer to rock n roll than early Darkthrone.

The guitar players care about what is going on here, it's like the vocalist came into the studio drunk and just did whatever half the time. Ironically this album is much like the new "Black Panther"  it's pretty mediocre, though I am going to guess will appeal to people wanting to believe in it's supposed message , which is more veiled in some cases than others. To me the drunken pirate vocals are something to be endured rather than enjoyed. They come close to working on certain song. Sometimes they are more sung than others. They are more punk than a metal growl. The drummer drinks his coffee and throws in some double after a while. The guitars are typical metal at this point, though when they try to go a tremolo picked/ blast beat path they come across more punk so they are better off sticking to the guitar harmonies. Their gallops also work for me, though I think many fans of pagan metal are going to be too far into the woods to hear this album, so if a tree falls? By the time it closes with the more fast and furious "Wolfsblut" I am pretty much done with the vocals so the more straight forward punk sound isn't doing it for me. Due to the vocals I'll round this down to a 6.5, if you are into these guys it might not phase you.

Black Metal History Month- Spite : "Antimoshiach"

While this band from Brooklyn often intersects death metal into their brand of black metal I think they are more interesting than your average blast fest. There is a more Dissection like thrash stomp to the verses of the opening song. They are able to lash out with a mean spirited attack while keeping the arrangements varied. The second song is a little more straight forward and doesn't grab me with the same urgency the album opened with. There is an odd almost disco like beat three minutes which is followed by an interesting break down. But the rule is cool riffs alone do not make a good song. They begin to remind me a little of Sigh in the almost rock n roll feel to "Vision of the Merkabah"The song sounds like it wants to go in a direction where the vocals are more sung than growled but this doesn't happen.

"False"falls out of the previous song with more of a majestic gallop in it's step. The vocals feel a little less purposeful on this one. They do lock back in towards the end of the song and things feel a little Dissection like. The filler comes when the band begins to rely on speed more than the sense of songwriting that draws up in on both "Second Death" and "Upon Funeral Stone" . "the Hope" is a little more balanced with a melodic interlude interjected. Things take a on a more regal march with the last song that returns to a more Dissection flavored affair when not blasting off. To the band's credit that do not sound like they are hipsters from Brooklyn and seem like they have an honest affinity for metal that some of the bands from that region seem to have or have lost.

This album is largely enjoyable and I think a non discriminating fan of black metal will be less picky on points that I hold to greater scrutiny. It's like if Mutilation Rites was influenced by Dissection. I love Dissection, and already own those albums and while they do not rip them off like say Cloak, it would impair the chances of me needing to own this album since I already have all the Dissection and will just listen to those if I want to hear that kind of thing. Regardless it is well done so I'll give it an 8.5.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Black Metal History Month -the Top 50 Black Metal Albums of All Time 10 to 1

Everyone loves top 10 lists so here we are in the top 10 of the top 50 Black Metal Albums of All Time. Most of these are ranked in accordance to how much I have listened to them, sometimes this has been altered if say one band influenced another then they would typically have to be ranked higher. Though black metal may be hard and fast, there are not hard and fast rules in how these are ranked, sometimes I had to make tough calls, but that is why I get paid the big bucks , to be the gatekeeper of black at least in this little corner of the inner webs, there is the chance you do not see your favorite album on this list, if that is the case I suggest killing yourself. It is the most black metal option.

  10-Burzum- "Belus"

Varg needed the 11 year break to bring new sense of sonic depth. It has more of a throb than his earlier work. Still very black metal it sheds the bulk of the blast beats. This is an album I can leave on and let play all afternoon. Yes, another from the 2010 club.

9 Mayhem - "Deathcrush"

This one was tough, this 1987 ep was the first recording from what become the Norwegian black metal scene. If I was doing more than one album by each artist I would have liked an Atilla album on here , since I think he is a better vocalist than the spastic Dead, but it is what it is and wanted to get this done rather than torture myself in this debate.

8- Gorgoroth - "Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam "

 This is their 7th album which was released in 2006, so they had shit dialed in and this is the sound of a band at the top of their game. I like all of their stuff but really need Gaahl to be fronting the band for it to feel like Gorgoroth to me. I think this album captures both excellent songwriting and the fiery anger that embodies black metal.


7-Dimmu Borgir- "In Sorte Diaboli"

 Production Value stepped up while this could fight with the other ICS Vortex albums for the top spot in their discography, I think these songs hook you in more. This in many ways feels like an angrier album than they have had since "Stormblast". Hell Hammer's drumming is the shit on this and it would also be in the top 50 metal albums of all time not just the top 50 black metal albums , though I guess that could be said about all the albums in the top ten.


6-Agalloch-"Ashes Against the Grain" 

The post-rock elements begin to edge out their older folk influence on this, but the songs are their best. Sonically powerful with all the metal punches in the right places. The mix of clean vocals to harsh vocals is the right balance.Pretty much you name it and they got it right on their 2006 album. 

5-Watain "Lawless Darkness"

 Sure by this point these guys were still carrying a major torch for Dissection. However some a song writing perspective these tight anthems are so well written this fact almost becomes a mute point. Of all their albums I have gotten heavier play time out of this one that really found them coming into their own as song writers thus allowing on further releases their overall sound to expand from there. Yet another member of the 2010 club. 

4-Dissection-"Storm of the Lights Bane" 

 This 1995 album was way ahead of it's time. Sure bands like Mayhem were already doing their thing in Norway. But Jon and the boys took the classic metal / thrash sound and amped it up into these mean anthems to primordial darkness and black dragons swallowing the universe.Jon would later go on to prove how seriously passionate he was about his beliefs as a further reminder that they were never playing around and you can hear that in these songs.

3-Darkthrone- "the Cult is Alive "

 While the earlier blast beaten albums are great, I enjoyed hearing this band's evolution. They go down a rawer punk road for this album and at the end of the day the songs benefited from it as they hold a more rock n roll structure rather than just being interchangeable drones. Another 2006 album which is looking to  be another big year for black metal. 

2-Emperor- "Anthems to the Welkin At Dusk"

 A beautiful album that is as well recorded , performed and orchestrated as any Iron Maiden album. These guys are a helluva lot angrier and darker than Maiden owing more to King Diamond in the romantic cinematic mood this album carries. They prove black metal can be played by musicians with chops that hold up against any other bands.

1- Mercyful Fate- "Don't Break the Oath"

 The first real satanist I became aware of as a kid.I think this is important as the conviction in ones beliefs is what sometimes drives an artist to a more isolationist. This creates the spirit of black metal.  King Diamond shaped black metal in more ways than his corpse paint and there will be few black metal bands who won't claim his profound impact on the genre and those who do are too young to know what they hell they are talking about. This came out in 1984, so if you want to hear what black metal sounded like in 1984 this is the answer.This might also be in the 1 spot for greatest metal albums of all time as it stands next to 'Number of the Beast" and "Reign in Blood".

Black Metal History Month -the Top 50 Black Metal Albums of All Time : 20 to 11

Now we are cracking the top 20 of our Top 50 Black Metal Albums of All Time list. It's interesting to notice the trends in release dates and regions these albums are coming out of as we work our way down the list. Most are ranked according to how much I have listened to these albums, with a few exceptions when it comes to certain albums that many of these releases owe their existence to. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know blast beats alone do not fly with me. These are not just musicians who made great black metal albums , these are musicians ho made great music that happened to be called black metal. Some of these albums even came before black metal as we know it today. So here you go ...

20-Liturgy -"Aesthethica" 

This band has gotten a lot of shit due to Hunter's ramblings, but the bottom line is with their 2011 album these Brooklyn hipsters took black metal somewhere very different. It's bright rather than dark. Normally this is something I would not be down for , but somehow they made it work due to the jarring sonic dissonance and how they took things like blast beats and almost gave them a jazz like spin.


19- An Autumn For Crippled Children- "Lost"

This band from the Netherlands not only does post-black metal, but they do it with a more convincing nastiness and gaze out into sprawling beauty. The eventually began to rein it in, with the vocals sometimes being the heaviest component .  This 2010 album finds them at the peak of their powers and making beautiful music with feral abandon.


 I don't like this project's earlier work because of the lo-fi punk like quality. Once the production improved and a bigger viking like sound came then he caught my ear. The earlier stuff if more popular with a more hipster crowd for the very reason I do not like it.This 1990 album has more actual singing on it and it came down to me trying to decide between this one and "Twilight of the Gods". What it came down to was this album is black metal , while "Twilight of the Gods" is more epic pagan metal. "Hammerheart" might not be as refined, but it is darker and meaner.


17-Enslaved -"Isa"

While their earlier work might be more traditionally black  metal, this album came ten years into their career and finds them at the cross roads of who they were and what they became. The sung vocals are not as dominant here. The pagan sensibility it blended with a more post-rock or even rock n roll sense in the song writing and they had not yet gone out into total Opeth territory.

16- Tombs- "the Path of Totality"
This 2011 album finds Mike Hill and friends getting darker and more sonic. While I like all of their albums this was the first one I got into and I think it still holds up even against the more goth tinged stuff, which having grown up a poor goth child I would normally be more inclined to favor. This album is equal parts aggression and atmosphere thanks to the incredibly smart song writing and the band working as a machine.

15-Totalselfhatred- "Apocalypse in Your Heart"

I keep returning to this album time and time again. They prove black metal can have stellar guitar and doesn't have to stick to static tremolo picking. This 2011 album is a classic when it comes to depressive black metal. It doesn't wallow in it's emotion but is like depression turned inwards and becomes aggression. I keep forgetting these guys are from Finland as that is not what comes to mind when I heard them, but it does invoke alcohol fueled depression.

14-Nachtmystium - "Addicts : Black Meddle Part 2

It was hard to pick between this one and "Assassins" what made my mind up was listening to it again and here how gritty and real the anguish is as Blake Judd was obviously having a hard time with his addiction and this album is a raw honest look at that. You don't get that personal in most black metal which is why it almost feels like depressive black metal.

13- Immortal- "All Shall Fall"

This 2009 album would be the band from Norway's last. It is big and if the word epic was ever going to be used to describe something this would be the time. The guitars are just massive on this album which is why I chose this over "Sons of Northern Darkness" Blizzard Beasts"

 12- Celtic Frost - To Mega Therion"

When this album came out in 1985, black metal had yet to come to fruition. Black metal as just an album by a punk fueled metal band in the growing thrash scene. This scene found Tom Warrior and friends clawing at it with a more dynamic and darkly romantic offering that is "To Mega Therion".

11-Shining- "the Eerie Cold" This band from Sweden has something in common with Celtic Frost as they both went through a cock rock phase. Here is the sound of the band in the thick of what they did best and a another example of depressive black metal going beyond crying in another failed suicide attempt set to music. The atmosphere of this album is very dark to the point of creating a beautiful oppression. It has the cold chilling feel you expect from black metal.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Black Metal History Month -the Top 50 Black Metal Albums of All Time-30 to 21

Here we go mid-way into Black Metal History month and midway into our top 50 black metal albums of all time. Now we get into the thick of things. Continuing to draw from every corner of the genre and globe. If you are just jumping in now I am only using one album by each artist. Most of the time they are ranked by what I have listened to the most , in some cases if an album would not exist if not for another album, the album that came first is ranked higher, since it is obviously of more importance. So here we go before entering into the top 20, which won't come til this weekend.

30-Samael- "Ceremony of Opposites"

Released in 94 this one crosses the first wave of black metal over into the second. There is a lot of groove to this album that influenced bands like Behemoth later on. The guitar sound on this album is mean as fuck. For when this came out it was one of the darkest and most sinister things going.

29- Deathspell Omega- Paracletus

An amazing album by a band that has made some amazing albums. This one is darker , dissonant and more angular than the other in a way that finds everything clicking in place perfectly. This is one of those class of 2010 albums. The took what Blut Aus Nord had done for French metal and added Emperor's ear for technicality and then raised the bar once again for French metal.

28- Sigh- "Scenes From Hell"

 2010 was also the year my daughter was born which might be an ill sign considering how this explosion of incredible black metal came about then. This album takes the progressive slant they had given their sound and turned it on it's head.Defying the idea that the best black metal has to come from Scandinavia, this Japanese band really slays it with the odd blend of gypsy tinged progressive black metal that shows no trace of their heritage.


27-Taake- "Noregs vaapen"

 It's mindblowing to think all this came from Hoest. The very fact this is a black metal album with banjo on it earns it's place here. Norweigan black metal that gives you all the frost ridden anger you expect , but not being content with blast beats alone. Even Hoest's raspy croak sets itself apart from the pack. At end of the day it's the song writing that makes this an album I can still put on seven years later and it sounds just as vital.


26- Negura Bunget-Vîrstele pămîntului

 And yet again 2010 proves to really be the number of the beast. This time from Romania as this folk tinged black metal band comes across as almost a Dead Can Dance of metal in the way they crafted this exotic masterpiece. Don't get me wrong "Om" is a great album as well, this one just finds every nuance touching the right place. They display an excellent use of clean vocals in a way that doesn't come across as a good cop / bad cop trick.


25- Carpathian Forest- "Defending the Throne of Evil" 

 This album blends death metal and black n roll into something ugly, perverse and powerfully catchy. The songs work smoothly as classic metal. The vocals are nasty and every thing is dark as hell. These guys were always consistent and I going back to listen to this album makes me wish they would put out a new one as this embodies all things black metal should be with blast beat far and few between.

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 24--Altar of Plagues- Teeth Glory & Injury"

 This 2013 album was sadly the Irish band's last. It blends pounding blackened math rock in the vein of Russian Circles with industrial. The dissonance and darkness to this album help to give it a black metal feel. There are a few blast beats sprinkled in but they typically keep you guessing in a way few other black metal bands were doing at the time. Oppressive in it's anguish, they crush on this one here their other albums droned.


23 Primordial- "the Gathering Wilderness" 

 This Irish band has always retained a strong sense of themselves on all of their albums, so this one weighs heavily on the fact that it has my favorite song by these guys "the Coffin Ships" on it. Nemtheanga's voice is particularly strong on this album, and proves actual singing can still work on a black metal album.


 22- Deafheaven - "Roads to Judah"

The Van Halen of black metal,  with "Sunbather" this band took the genre and made it easier for Americans to digest. Their 2011 album was actually black metal with whats sounds to be genuine anger and emotion to it. So much so that it is able to compensate for not having the kind of darkness black metal is known for. So for hipsters who wanted to get into black metal at this time it served as an easy entry point. Few stuck around as trends shifted, though if you go to a Deafheaven show it looks like you are at a Mumford and Sons concert.

21-Weakling- "Dead as Dreams"

 Here is a clear cut has of an album that needed to be here, because if it wasn't for this album Deafheaven would not exist. These guys are more depressive than shoe-gazing they came out with this back in 2000. So all American black metal bands pretty much have to bow down to this one.