February 28, 2014

Lord Dying - Summon the Faithless

Written by Matt Hinch.

Artwork by Orion Landau

It took far too long for Lord Dying's Summon the Faithless to make its way across my ears. There's no excuse other than time. But better late than never and playing catchup is a way of life. It just sucks that I could have been rockin' something this rad months ago.

The Portland group's debut full-length may not win any awards for innovation but it's one helluva fun record. Sludge is one of those genres where following convention with competency will usually do the trick for fans of the style. Summon the Faithless is a sludge record plain and simple but it's a really good one.

Photo by Pedro Roque.

Riffs, riffs and more riffs bowl their way through the album's 40 minutes, but not at the expense of dynamics and flow. Lord Dying lay on the speed when they want but can also slow to a crawl. The easiest comparisons (and obvious ones) would be to High on Fire and Kylesa. Power and grace. Savagery and melody. Just blending those two heavyweights would be good enough. But I for one can sense a little more darkness. Think of bands like Birds of Prey and -(16)- and you get the idea.

Photo by Pedro Roque.

Summon the Faithless is catchy as all get out and is loaded with the kind of energy that boils the blood and leads to destruction of property. Or bodily harm. When Lord Dying bring the hammer down it hits with all the force of Bigfoot clubbing you over the head then dragging your limp body through the woods for a while at full sprint.

So basically, if you're a sludge fan who likes huge riffs, ripping solos, straight shooting, raw, whiskey-soaked vocals and physically intense albums with songwriting that holds on and never lets go, then bow to Lord Dying and Summon the Faithless. But not really. No one is expecting you to bow. Just chug a few beers and bang your head!

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 27, 2014

Cold Blue Mountain - Cold Blue Mountain

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Cover art by Matt Loomis

This is a pretty cool mix of Sludge, HC, Post Metal and Doom sounds that this five piece band from Chico/CA/USA present here with their full length self-titled debut album (July 2012).

There is an underlying sludge and post metal vibe throughout the entire album, but it easily draws in a lot of different stylistic ingredients in a way that all of them get their chance to take the lead and step back again.

So while in one song crushing sludge riffs dominate, the next one may sound more like a speedy HC song and yet another one offers down tempo doom riffs and then all changes into an ambient post metal atmosphere. The last song even is a piano melody totally different from all the others, but still with an ambient atmosphere.

These shifts of focus on the different elements, the many changes in tempo, dynamic and atmospheres create a great variety that surprises ever again. At times it is only a pinch of whatever ingredient that pushes the whole thing into another tone of atmosphere.

The melodies are simply captivating. They are breathtakingly beautiful and emotive without ever being pathetic or overdone, instead they leave room enough for all the other elements to blend in and everything goes together surprisingly well. The vocals are perfectly complementing the melodies as well as the sludge or doom riffs.

Here, great musicianship and creativity meet to bring us an album of an individual style, nine songs, tightly written and straight forward going, with a total running time of 30 short minutes and pure listening joy. Highly recommended.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Originally posted on the defunct Temple of Perdition blog.

February 26, 2014

Fluisteraars - Dromers

Written by by Andy Osborn.

I’m always a bit wary when diving into a long-form black metal release. They can be notoriously tricky to understand, if there’s anything worth understanding at all. Too repetitive, the band can fall deep into the atmospheric camp that worships minimalism, time-constraints and intrigue be damned. Too upbeat, both the musicians and the listener get worn out by the seven-minute mark. On Dromers though, this new Dutch trio finds that perfect balance which reveals a neatly set structure hidden behind the long, vocal-less breaks. Drifting back and forth between a few simple, yet powerfully crafted ideas, Fluisteraars execute them flawlessly with the kind of precision not usually achieved on a debut.

Kicking off a 16-minute song with a straightforward, punky riff didn’t do anything to quell my initial fears, and I sat with bated breath, knowing the next couple minutes could make or break the album. As the song quickly transitions into a slower melodic dirge and I struggled to contain my excitement, I knew Fluisteraars were doing something special. Their songs hit you with an immediacy and sense of knowing that demands attention and evokes curiosity. You never quite know what’s about to happen, and it’s this exact sense of surprise and wonder that makes Dromers something special. This isn’t Burzum worship, marketed with a promise of atmosphere hidden beneath a lo-fi mess. Nor does it have post-rock leanings that uses instrumental jam-sessions in lieu of effective songwriting. Fluisteraars have a bigger, more meaningful picture in mind, and they’re painting a hauntingly beautiful one.

The few but effective transitions and ever-evolving ideas help Fluisteraars dance a fine line between multiple subgenres within the black arts with impressive results. A far cry from bleak, cold Nordicisms, the music takes a softer, more somber approach despite the direct heavy hitting of the opening. All of Dromers continues in this fashion, bringing an almost hopeful air to the record despite the fact that it that it remains at its core a grim, intense affair. “Kuddedier” especially reminds of early Drudkh, but with even more passion that’s coaxed forth by the utterly astonishing production. I’m a sucker for a beefed-up rhythm section in this type of music, and the full-length rewards with a low end that not only gives the album more weight, but gives that added nuance of getting lost in an instrument other than your standard six-string. Tracks as a whole are largely pointless though, as the album is so well-balanced and interconnected that an uninterrupted listen results in a singular, masterful piece of art.

Truly the first big surprise of the year, I’ve already found myself returning to Dromers more times than I can count. It’s at once uplifting and relaxed, familiar yet deeply strange. Impossibly rewarding, it’s a showcase of musicians who have that rare power to grasp the listener and make them remember what they love about music in the first place.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 24, 2014

Wolfshade - When Above...

After a quick perusal of Wraith Productions newly opened Bandcamp page, I expected to write about Ptahil's hook laden take on rip and roll black metal on For His Satanic Majesty's Glory (which I remembered from Islander's enthusiastic review over at No Clean Singing). But to my surprise I discovered I needed some depressive, and very atmospheric French black metal in my life; hence Wolfshade - When Above...

The songs on When Above... take their cue from the ebb and flow of post-rock. Atmospheric passages lulls you with their almost ambient grooves, and is then punctuated by the genuinely tortured screams of Kadhaas. Stately riffs carries his desperate vocals (check out "Bene Elohim" at around 1:43 for a great example); the combination creates a beautiful tension, accentuated by the discrete orchestration and the heavy use of jarring cymbals in the programmed drums.

And yeah, those drums. Typically programmed drums are made to sound as real as possible. Here Wolfshade made no attempt to hide the fact, plus the production puts them pretty much in your face. The programming is intricate though, and the "programmed" sound (sometimes deliberately clunky like in "Le Réfugié des Passions") creates even more of that beautiful tension. Toss in stellar guitar work, with a few great leads, and a production that is both raw (the vocals and the drums) and warm (the rest of the music) and When Above... ends up a clear winner. As I said, I needed this is my life; check out if you do too.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 21, 2014

Hazzard's Cure - The Ugly

Written by Justin C.

Artwork by Lukas Krieg

Hazzard's Cure self-describes their music as "epic blackened stoner thrash." I'm usually dubious of these kinds of label mash-ups, but if Ulla's recent review of buioingola has taught me anything, it's that sometimes these multiple-genre descriptions can make a surprising amount of sense.

The breadth of Hazaard's Cure's influence is a bit easier to discern on their self-titled full length, but their EP The Ugly nicely shows off the mix, too. The first two tracks on the EP are firmly rooted in stoner metal. The vocals are delivered in a raspy holler reminiscent of High on Fire and Baroness. The bass playing is a highlight, prominent in the mix and straddling the line between melody and rhythm. The drums easily shift between quiet shuffle and blasting, and the guitar pulls a similar trick, from tremolo riffs, to quiet atmosphere, to even a little Santana-style soloing in near the end of the title track. It's a classic rock foundation that doesn't sound dated, but one that's been angered up to a much heavier level.

Photo by Taylor Keahey.

If there's any question about the "blackened" part of the description, it's nicely resolved by the third track, "The Body Amorphous," which features lead vocals from Laurie Sue Shanaman of the late, great Ludicra. With her unmistakable ferocity over blackened, winding guitar lines, you suddenly get an idea of what would have happened if Jefferson Airplane, instead of morphing into the poppy Jefferson Starship, had instead invented black metal and became Jefferson Plague. That probably sounds like I'm making fun, but nothing could be further from the truth. Jefferson Plague is something I didn't know I needed in my life until I heard this track. I would have loved more of this, but as it is, this EP is a great introduction to the band for anyone who likes their stoner metal with a hefty dose of rage.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Mastic Scum - C T R L

Written by Kevin Page.

Artwork by IsisDesignStudio

If you are from Long Island, NY, you probably have a smile on your face right now.  Alas, we are not talking about people who live out east, but instead a band from Austria.  Mastic Scum have been around since 1992 and CTRL (their 5th full length album released in December 2013 via Massacre Records) is my initial introduction to them (better late than never, right?).

Musically this sits somewhere between Fear Factory's Soul of a New Machine and Demanufacture, with a dash of grindyness and some Ministry overtones. The album is chock full of machine gun riffs with a guitar tone that is far less sterile than you would expect from this type of music. Make no mistake, it still has that cold dystopian vibe, yet enough warmth underneath to help convey its heaviness. Vocally its the full on death metal tilt (none of that clean singing rubbish). I knew I had heard this voice (grunt, growl, choose your own adjective) before and upon further inspection, its none other than Maggo Wenzel of Tristwood fame (shame on you for not knowing who that is, which will be like 99.986% of you).

Standout tracks include "Rebornation" & "The Vortex Within" (which will make you want to scream "I GOT NO MORE GODDAMN REGRETS/RESPECT" during its final 30 seconds).

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 19, 2014

Gridlink - Longhena

Written by Matt Hinch.

Grind is spelled G-R-I-D-L-I-N-K.

2009 was a very troubled year for me. The Dark Days as I call them. Late that year I took an anger management class. Not because of a court order or anything, or violent outbursts so much. No, I took it because I could feel it inside me. I wanted to stop it. The class itself was a bunch of hooey but one "assignment" was cool. Bring in a song that describes how you feel about yourself. I took in a track from Gridlink's Amber Gray. I still don't know what the lyrics were, but how Gridlink "feel" was how I felt. An intense ball of negative energy; frantic and unstable, teetering on the brink of annihilation through either collapse or explosion. While Buddhist practices calmed this savage beast, Gridlink raged on with Orphan and now sadly, the monster that is Jon Chang and company is being put to rest as well. But not without one final detonation of devastation in Longhena.

For the band's swansong they take their sweet time. Relatively speaking. On previous records the longest tracks were 1:20 and 1:27 respectively. On Longhena there are SIX (of 14) tracks eclipsing the 1:27 mark, three of which are over two minutes and the final track clocks in at a Tolkien-esque 3:11. It appears Gridlink are leaving nothing behind but shattered eardrums.

Chang (vocals) and his Hayaino Daisuke cohorts Takafumi Matsubara (guitars) and Teddy Patterson III (bass) along with drummer Bryan Fajardo end Gridlink's legacy in typical fashion. (It does not appear guitarist Steve Procopio appears on this release.) They smash through barriers with boundless energy and a complete disregard for the rules of physics. Lightspeed is for sissies. As Chang does his level best to give Melissa Cross nightmares, the rest of the band does the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

Their balls-out intensity is on display right from the get-go on "Constant Autumn" with the requisite subtleties that make Gridlink so good. The end of the track features some strings that foreshadow the third track "Thirst Watcher". Are you sitting down? It's an instrumental. Nothing but violins (Joey Molinaro) and gentle strummed and finger-picked guitar that wouldn't sound out of place on a Monster Magnet album. Strange. Good, but strange.

Much of the rest of Longhena consists of the sort of blitzkrieg intensity we've come to know and love. The frenzied, face-smashing riffs in "Taibas", the tremulous melodies of "The Dodonpachi", the jangliness, discordance and mournfulness of "Island Sun", the dirty-as-fuck nimbleness of "Black Prairie", the list goes on of flat-out grind awesomeness. The way Gridlink are able to craft powerfully violent songs and still remain infectiously catchy is a skill few are able to master.

On "The Last Raven" we hear Chang step out of character and growl like a demon. Paul Pavlovich of Assuck also lends his beastly roar on "Chalk Maple". These forays into the lower registers serve an effective counter to Chang's piercing screech. When it comes right down to it, a break from Chang's usual voice isn't something the listener yearns for but it's pretty cool to hear anyway.

Whether Gridlink are dragging your bloody body behind a car at 100mph, getting all mind-fuck skronky, or working their way up the frets as a device for climax they do it all with such force and intensity. Some or all of them are going completely off the rails at all times but with total control. Matsubara and Patterson's speed and dexterity, Fajardo's inhumanity and Chang's pure, primal, cathartic release are knotted so tightly and so perfectly that Gridlink's demise is a tragic loss for grindkind.

Now, earlier I referenced a negative ball of energy. That is not to say Gridlink are a negative entity. Far from it. Personally, and I'm probably not alone, I see Gridlink as an entirely positive band. The way the band fires up the adrenaline and provides an outlet for the release of pent up aggression through screaming or moshing or whatever (like the incessant kitchen counter drumming of the past few days) is a wholly positive experience. Listening to Longhena and all of Gridlink's catalog is a way to let go. Let it out in a good way. It's freedom.

As Chang's final Gridlinkian scream dies away at the end of "Look to Winward", all that's left to say is "Glorious. Just fucking glorious."

Thank you, Gridlink.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 17, 2014

Drug Honkey - Ghost in the Fire

By Ulla Roschat. When I listen to an album for the first time I do it with headphones, if possible. So I did with Drug Honkey’s album Ghost in the Fire. This was basically my first encounter with this band’s music. It was twice, during this first listen, that I pulled
By Ulla Roschat.

When I listen to an album for the first time I do it with headphones, if possible. So I did with Drug Honkey’s album Ghost in the Fire. This was basically my first encounter with this band’s music. It was twice, during this first listen, that I pulled the headphones from my ears to check if the sensations happening in my head would go away when I do and I even considered shortly to stop listening at all, but I continued (maybe addiction had already set in?).

With “sensations in my head” I don’t mean pictures and thoughts in my brain, but rather in my head as a physical place, so that a strange desire appeared to open my own skull to see if there are “things” in it that had no business there ,things that were able to unleash my carefully dungeoned demons.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

Drug Honkey are a four piece Chicago IL. based band that formed in 1999 and Ghost in the Fire (May 2012) is their fifth album. In terms of genre categorization the music is something like experimental, psychedelic, electronic, industrial, Sludge Doom, but actually it is a sonic mindfuck, psychosis turned into sound, endless torture and pain condensed into a lysergic addictive drug named Ghost in the Fire.

The basic structure of the songs is kind of minimalistic. There’s rarely something you could call melody or a dramatic build up. The songs are somehow crawling, creeping and wavering along, carried by riffs that are stretched and slow and barely recognizable, fuzzy heavy bass lines and an incredibly slow plodding drumming. An almost permanent, slightly varying droning background sound induces an uneasy feel that accumulates into a kind of sickness not unlike a naupathia from the soft but permanent sway on a long time boat trip.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The multiple layers of electronic effects, distorted sounds, industrial noise create an incredible dense atmosphere, a lysergic hallucinatory disturbing soundscape immersing everything in a boiling thick viscous filth, painfully slow, heavy and dissonant.

The most effective element enhancing the eerie psychotic atmosphere are the vocals. These vocals that appear in nearly every possible form utterable by a human being and often additionally electronically modulated sound strangely humanly unhuman and really freak me out, scare the shit out of me and speak to my unleashed demons.

All of this is put together so carefully and cleverly like a well directed horror movie.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The first extreme listening effects that caused me to pull off the headphones lessen of course later, which is a good thing... for one thing I have to cope with my demons and get them back in the dungeon, and for another thing I can enjoy this masterpiece of diabolical psychedelic heaviness much better when I’m not scared to death.

Nebelung - Palingenesis

Written by Justin C.

On occasion, I review music that isn't metal, but is what I'll call metal-adjacent, like a ukulele album from Dysrhythmia/Gorguts guitarist Kevin Hufnagel. In that vein, enter Nebelung, a German dark folk/acoustic trio whose new album, Palingenesis, is being put out by Temple of Torturous, the label home to black metal wonderfulness like Fyrnask and Melencolia Estatica.

Nebelung features steel string and classical guitars, cello, accordion, and a handful of other instruments. Keen listeners will even hear a hammered dulcimer in the track "Wandlung," which readers of this blog might be familiar with as the unusual instrument of choice for one-man black metal band Botanist. Vocals appear infrequently, and when they do, they're barely above a whisper. The music is subtle and enveloping. It's impressionistic, offering suggestions rather than definitive statements. It's like taking an autumnal walk through the woods with ghosts as accompaniment. This isn't music that will make you sit up and yell, "DAT RIFF!" It's more like, "DAT TRANSCENDENTAL JOURNEY OF THE MIND AND SPIRIT!" Above all, it's just plain lovely.

I almost hesitate to describe them as "folk" at all, since that term often suggests a more traditional kind of music, maybe even backward-looking, if we're being unkind. Not that there's anything wrong with traditional folk, bluegrass, or the standard repertoire of classical guitar. They're all fantastic swaths of music, but as a classical guitarist, I can tell you that I've played on programs where I'm the only person performing music written in the last 50 years. There's no real reason for acoustic instruments to be relegated only to nostalgia acts, and Nebelung hits that sweet spot for me with modern, almost timeless music made on acoustic instruments. At times, their compositions sound like understated versions of what acoutic-guitar virtuoso Michael Hedges played. Like Hedges, Nebelung play music with tools that some people might think of as old-fashioned, but the results stand out in an unexpected and captivating way.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: If you want to support the band directly, Palingenesis is also available on Nebelung's Bandcamp page, albeit at a higher price.

February 16, 2014

Wildernessking - The Devil Within

By Andy Osborn. Wildernessking are a band I was drawn to for their geography as much as their music. Both of my parents are from South Africa, where the most of my extended family still lives. So when I first heard that a
By Andy Osborn.

Artwork by Pierre Perichaud

Wildernessking are a band I was drawn to for their geography as much as their music. Both of my parents are from South Africa, where the most of my extended family still lives. So when I first heard that a post-black metal band from the country of my roots was starting a crowdsourcing effort to put out a debut LP, I had my credit card out before even hearing a single note. Fortunately, the music would have drawn my attention no matter where the band calls home, because within seconds of the opener to The Writing of Gods in the Sand, I knew the band were doing something special. And their quick follow-up EP solidified their place as a hard working, talented band that surprises at every turn.

Now, after almost two years of silence the Cape Town quartet is back with yet another three track offering to keep us satisfied. As much as a full-length would have been appreciated, the sheer dynamism and power of The Devil Within more than make up for its length. It shows us a group that has clearly been working on all aspects of their sound as a newfound sense of maturity and self permeate every second of the eighteen minute effort.

“Luker” and “Flesh” share a similar sense of intensity and urgency, with the latter’s vicious tempo change and unrelenting percussive attack making it one of the band’s most impressive tracks to date. They also introduce you to the new production choice the band favors on the EP. By making the vocals take a slight step back, they help to put the focus more on the swirling hurricanes created by the guitars, adding a demonic yet ethereal sheen over everything. “The Devil Within” is more akin to the atmospheric fare the band has experimented with, and as a ten minute cap to the release it works wonderfully. Exploding at the halfway point before pulling hard on the reins and drawing everything to a melancholic close, it shows the young band’s deliberation and confidence with their music.

Innumerable ideas and and relentless creative energy continue to burst forth from Wildernessking. What they create is just begging to be explored further, and no doubt will as the group continue to hone their skills as an incredibly dynamic unit. We’re witnessing a unique, extreme metal band flourish in a land where few have done before, and it’s an amazing thing to behold.

The Journey of Wildernessking

By Keenan Nathan Oakes. When Max asked me to chronicle the journey from Heathens to Wildernessking and more specifically from the Mock the Heavens EP to our recent work, I was a little stumped. Nothing has really changed
By Keenan Nathan Oakes.

When Max asked me to chronicle the journey from Heathens to Wildernessking and more specifically from the Mock the Heavens EP to our recent work, I was a little stumped. Nothing has really changed since the inception of our group in 2009/2010. We’re still writing music with the purpose of pleasing ourselves and having fun, yet we’ve encountered so many great things on our path that have certainly moulded our thinking and ambitions.

Dylan [Viljoen - Guitars] and I were playing for a band (a rather ambitious, progressive metal band with big goals) in 2008-2010 that never really saw the light of day. During this time Jesse [Navarre Vos - Guitars] and I became close friends and talked about forming a black metal band as we became more interested in and slightly obsessed with the genre.

In the interim Dylan and I started Heathens as a fun project that touched on the more rock ‘n roll side of black metal, ala Darkthrone and Aura Noir, while we waited for our main band to take off. With no real goals other than to have fun and write some tunes, we put out our first EP in May of 2010. This was the first band that I was in where I was involved in the writing process, and not coming on board only for vocal and lyrical duties, and it felt and still feels pretty special. We were really happy with what we created in Heathens and that was more than enough at the time.

Jesse joined in September of 2010 as our sound started expanding, and everything came full circle. I was now in a “black metal” band with Jesse, and Dylan and I realized our goals (eventually) that we had previously set for our other band.

Artwork by Tim Leibbrandt.

Dylan wrote "‘Til the Aeons Come" in the winter of 2009. I remember staying over at his house one evening and he played me the song. I’m a sucker for pretty much anything our guitarists write, and I immediately took to the music and wrote lyrics for it when I woke up the following morning. It was a fun process and we decided to write some more songs, if only a couple of months later. We finished the 5 original tracks that make up the EP around January/February of 2010.

The other band that Dylan and I were playing in at the time actually approached Jason [Jardim - Drums] about joining, but he was committed to Infernal Sephiroth (they might've changed their name by then), a fantastic bm project that no longer exists, sadly. Knowing about Jason’s affinity for the genre, I approached him again, this time with the music we had written for the Mock the Heavens EP. I remember dropping the songs off at his place (a fairly awkward encounter) and a couple of days later Dylan and I were jamming with Jason in his basement (now lovingly referred to as The Dungeon). I distinctly remember Jason asking us what was going to happen to the project even before we started jamming, and we said that we’ll see how it goes but we would like him to be the drummer. All this before knowing whether or not there was musical chemistry.

The first jam went pretty well, and a week later we played our first gig.

Artwork by Tim Leibbrandt.

We’re always writing… It was never our intention to be super productive. We really enjoy the creative process, and I think that’s our favourite part of being in this band, making music with your best friends.

One thing that’s remained constant throughout these last few years is the need to push ourselves, try something differently, whether it’s our approach to the music or the music itself, where we’re going to record and how we’re going to do it, who we’re going to work with, and how we can control almost every aspect of our band. That’s the blessing of doing this whole D-I-Y thing.

The Reign of the Heathen was strung together fairly soon after we did the first EP. We tried some new things (having our friend Ryan come lay down vocals on the title track, having a solid blast beat section in "Forever Black", more progressive structures etc.) while paying homage to the greats by keeping to the metal clichés. I’m particularly fond of the intro that Dylan wrote ("Newborn") and we’ve spoken about doing an ambient/acoustic/soundscape Wildernessking album at some point.

We never wanted to play in the confines of genre and we love it when bands evolve/mature/change, so it wasn't so much a conscious decision as it was a natural progression to try something new for the next release.

Artwork by Tim Leibbrandt.

Dylan and I met up on the evening of 24 June 2010 at his place (aka The Shed, where most of the music for the first Wildernessking album was written). Over the course of a couple of hours in the evening and the next morning, we wrote one of our favourite songs. "Morning" is really fun to play and holds a special place in our hearts, much like "The Return" from the first EP.

The idea for a name change came in May of 2011. With the coverage and support we got from Angry Metal Guy and Lurker’s Path for the Heathens material, we decided to step things up a little, thus legitimizing our band. There is a hardcore band called Heathens and we didn’t want to share a name once we knew that we would take this project further. Another reason for the change was that the music called for it… We wanted a name that more accurately encapsulated our essence...

Artwork for the CD version by Reuben Sawyer / Rainbath Visual

Our first record feels like a best of compilation when looking back to that period in our lives. Jesse had been in the band for about a year before we started recording the album in September of 2011, but we hadn’t really found ourselves musically. We took the best songs we could write at the time (the creative process was very sporadic) and recorded them. The whole thing was tied together lyrically, yet somehow the album seems pretty cohesive on a musical level and flows well.

Artwork by Stephen Green

We had written the title track (in a similar fashion to Morning) while we were still recording The Writing of Gods in the Sand. I remember going for a walk with Dylan and Jason at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Dylan mentioned that we should turn …And the Night Swept Us Away into a little EP (initially we were going to do another single release). Even though it has only 3 tracks, we’re really proud of this EP because we feel that it touches on a few styles (styles that we’ve really elaborated on for our 2nd full-length).

The fact that our band has connected with people from all over the world is truly amazing and wonderful. We are so thankful to everyone that supports Wildernessking. It’s mind blowing and humbling to read all these incredible reviews of our music, and it has only fueled the fire.

Look out for a lot of music this year!

Thanks for reading,

-- Keenan

February 14, 2014

Castevet - Obsian

Written by Atanamar Sunyata.

Castevet’s Mounds of Ash was a marvelous experiment in martial movement, creating a black hole in the middle of metal’s Venn diagram. The album remains, in my mind, a glorious beast of delectable dissonance and polyrhythmic savagery. It has also remained in rotation since its 2011 release.

With Obsian, Castevet have switched out a central cog of their rhythmic contraption; Nicholas McMaster (Krallice, Geryon) has replaced Josh Scott on bass. This change has produced a subtle but fundamental shift in the band’s sound, moving them away from that merciless march and further into the unknowable void. Ian Jacyszyn’s extraordinary and intricate drumming has loosened up a bit to accommodate these new sonic possibilities.

Impossibly inventive chords and arpeggiations remain at the blackened core of Castevet’s art. Andrew Hock is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting guitar players of our time. His fascinating riffs slash and churn, transmuting discord into memorable malevolence and anti-melody.

Photo by Carmelo Española.

Instead of adding constant weight to the windmilling fury of these riffs, Nicholas McMaster’s bass lines weave in and out of the mayhem, pushing the songs into anomalous dimensions. These wormholes sometimes open into lands of full-on prog; there’s a mind-blowing section of “Cavernous” that’s laden with the psychedelic glory of an early Genesis track. It makes me smile every time. The mysterious horns that graced Mounds of Ash are also more prevalent, manifesting in insidious and disquieting ways.

Although the riffs on Obsian are often as harsh as Andrew Hock’s vocals, violence is not the album’s raison d’être. A sense of wonder radiates from these multifarious compositions, as if the band are in awe of their own creation. I’m certainly in awe; Obsian is one of my favorite albums of 2013.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 13, 2014

Hell / Amarok - Split

Written by Matt Hinch.

Originally released last year on cassette, this split between Hell and Amarok was recently released on vinyl. Even more recently the split was finally made available on Bandcamp. And what a split it is.

In Christianity there is but one Hell. Buddhist tradition has three "Hell realms". In the Game of Thrones universe there are seven. And Metal Archives lists nine bands going by the name of Hell. Trying to figure out which one this was initially proved difficult. To save you the trouble, this Hell resides in Salem, OR and is the one-man project of M.S.W. This side of the split consists of three songs put together as one 18+ minute track. The first act, "Deonte" is pure, lo-fi, bowel-evacuating doom. Its earthquaking tone and lethargic pace are so entrancing you won't even notice your bong shaking off the table. I mean, it's tuned so low the journey down there feels like Dante's Inferno; the listener being dragged down to successfully agonizing depths. The scraping feedback buried in the mix is downright creepy. It sounds almost like a swingset in an abandoned park, swaying back and forth in desperate need of some oiling. It sounds like emptiness and innocence lost.

"Oblitus" has a bit more of that Electric Wizard vibe felt throughout. It's a little quicker in spots but still painfully slow. The guitars here serve a more atmospheric role behind the synced bass and drums pounding at the castle gate. There's a riff in there that absolutely destroys entire planets. It's the main riff but when it hits around the 7:55 mark, resistance caves in. "Oblitus" is an unstoppable mass that rolls triumphant into the track's third movement.

"Dolore"'s screeching feedback gives rise to another monstrous riff, punishing in its might and molasses thick pace. The continuous pounding drags the listener low, as M.S.W.'s anguished screams expound pain and emptiness (as they do on the other songs as well). Here "Dolore" takes a turn in a decidedly Pallbearer-ish direction. The focal point shifts from the disgusting bass to an ethereal atmosphere saturated with emotion. Violins and clean tones close out Hell's side of the split. The melancholic and naked feel of the track's end gives one the feeling that no matter how intimidating the beast is, deep down they still have feelings.

Chico, CA's Amarok handles the other side. The most immediate difference heard is that Amarok's production is much cleaner and definitely louder. One can also sense this is a full band as opposed to Hell's one-man stance. But the split makes sense as Amarok employ the funereal pace too. A sound and feel similar to Pallbearer can be heard here as well. Dual growling and blackened vocals play off each other, tossing the listener from great heights to subterranean lows. The track, "Red Oak Wisdom" displays the strength of a mighty oak indeed, as well as patience and age. Patience is needed as Amarok continue to drone on with hypnotic repetition. It's a monotony not all listeners may be able to endure. The middle section of this 20 minute opus bears melody punctuated by measured, thudding drums and delicate cymbal work. Words like stately, forsaken, hopeless and solitary come to mind. Distant blackened screams scrape at the edge of consciousness. One uplifting note gives a flicker of hope that fades in the blink of an eye into more despair. The tides slowly change giving rise to the return of Amarok's destructive force. The mind-numbing repetition continues with some vocal call and response tearing the listener apart between sky and earth. The rumbling doom gets run through with some melodious guitar as well but only briefly. As the marathon is completed the listener is driven deep, deep down and left utterly spent.

This split isn't easy to listen to and depending on preference one may enjoy one side much more than the other. The pairing is apt however as both outfits incorporate similar elements. Both use despondency and tone to their advantage and thrive on discomfort countered with ambience. Make no mistake, this is some heavy shit.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 10, 2014

Iron Reagan - Worse than Dead

By Dave Schalek. The members of the various bands from in and around Richmond, Virginia are increasingly prolific. For example, the increasingly popular acts Municipal Waste and Cannabis Corpse are obviously not enough in the way of projects for some of these guys
By Dave Schalek.

Cover art by Brent Eyestone

The members of the various bands from in and around Richmond, Virginia are increasingly prolific. For example, the increasingly popular acts Municipal Waste and Cannabis Corpse are obviously not enough in the way of projects for some of these guys as political crossover becomes the focus with yet another side project, Iron Reagan. Landphil Hall and Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse, etc., are only the most visible members of Iron Reagan as others from their circle of friends from various area bands come together to crank out some politically tinged crossover straight out of the 1980s.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

Although labeled as a side project, Iron Reagan, to be blunt, have something that both Municipal Waste and Cannabis Corpse lack; that is, a sense of seriousness. Musically, Iron Reagan come across as a rather thick version of early D.R.I. or even Attitude Adjustment with shouted vocals, a quick pace, frenetic riffing, and dynamic bass work. The chops are thick and the riffs are given a meaty weight courtesy of a modern production; but, Hall, Foresta, and their cohorts know their way around the old school crossover genre as Worse than Dead has a vibe that seems to be lifted straight off of Dealing with It!.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The seriousness comes in the form of Iron Reagan’s satirical attack on the legacy of Ronald Reagan, the icon of America’s loudmouthed and irrational political right wing. Today, we have to deal with the absurdities that were born in the 1970s and 80s, absurdities such as trickle down economics, the culture war, and the ever increasing intrusion of christianity into the public sphere. These absurdities are only given credence by a right wing media machine that is increasingly screaming louder and louder into its own echo chamber. Iron Reagan attack this echo chamber and the lack of critical thinking displayed by its audience with a decidedly more serious eye that Cannabis Corpse or Municipal Waste ever could. Both Cannabis Corpse and Municipal Waste are fun bands to listen to, but, let’s face it, there’s nothing serious about cheeky pot references in death metal, or partying hard while listening to thrash metal.

Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

Truth be told, there’s nothing really overt about Iron Reagan’s political message except for the cover art, the song titles, and the iconography as most of the lyrics deal with thinking for yourself and applying a critical eye towards the media and political messages. But, I found Worse than Dead to be a bit of fresh air as this type of crossover, and well done crossover to boot, is rather rare nowadays.

Tree of Sores - A Cry of Despair

Written by Ulla Roschat.

A Cry of Despair is Tree OF Sores' second of two EPs (and last one, since the band sadly split up in Sept. 2013). The three piece band from Leeds/UK play a sort of hard to categorize ambient sludge, doom, crust, post metal something.

This EP is one single track of nearly half an hour of playtime..., but soon I realize that time is a concept of irrelevance here. The quiet slow intro and the following heavy passage with the raw expressive vocals lure and seize and drag me deep into this song and I'm lost in its driving, hypnotic rhythms that carry me to some timeless place.

A combination of these entrancing rhythms and riffs and melodies that are kind of dancing and spiraling around them, take me along through waves that build up to powerful, thick sonic walls to crash down again and be caught on softer waves of quiet warm and transparent sounds. At one point about halfway through the song one of these quieter moments even comes near to a halt and fools me to think the song ended here. How do I know how long I've been listening... 10 minutes or an hour.... and what is time anyway? All I know is I don't want it to end here and the next clean warm guitar sounds initiating a new build up makes me happy.

In the second part of the song more and more distorted sounds and dissonances are added and condense into a kind of rain and thunder soundscape carrying a dark, melancholic and menacing atmosphere that completely sucks me up and more pounding drums and spellbinding, driving rhythms drag me along through the song.

A Cry of Despair feels like a journey across the ocean sometimes driven through rough powerful storms of relentless heaviness, sometimes carried on gentler waves of murky reflectiveness. There's a constant flow and motion until I'm finally brought ashore. Only now I notice that the abrasive vocals from the beginning, that I had hoped for to return, had not, which shows that the song is simply perfect the way it is.... 27:42 minutes long... (or short?... what was time again?...) and not one second is redundant or boring, each one is essential. The structure is somehow minimalistic, but there's plenty of nuanced sublime changes that make the song so dynamically organic and terrifically ingenious at the same time.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 9, 2014

The Ash Eaters - Nothing Is Real

Guest review by That's How Kids Die.

I’ve spilled a great deal of digital ink on The Ash Eaters; I’m proud to call guitarist/vocalist/mastermind UA my friend, and it has been a unique experience watching/hearing his latest metallic foray develop from the, uh, ashes of his previous work in the great Brown Jenkins. But as great as that band was, The Ash Eaters take things to a whole other level, especially in terms of UA’s highly distinctive guitar-work, which I’ve often likened to an insect swarm, relentlessly stinging the listener from every direction. When one listens to The Ash Eaters, one must reserve themselves to the cold fact that there’s no escape, no respite from the overwhelming nature of the music, and nowhere is this more evident than on Nothing is Real, the latest in a steady stream of releases.

Nothing is Real is comprised of three tracks spanning a total of about fifteen minutes. The Ash Eaters have released several EPs since 2011, and this is the best way to experience their music, not because it gets boring, but quite to the contrary; there’s just so much going on musically within the confines of a single song that sensory overload is practically inevitable. Just when you think you have a handle on navigating the musical labyrinth, it transforms completely, revealing newer, darker paths you didn't even know existed.

I touched on UA’s guitar playing in the first paragraph, and his idiosyncratic assault on the six-string is the obvious highlight and focal point of Nothing is Real. The man’s ungodly riff-barrage seems to get more tangled and bizarre with every release, the musical equivalent of one of Lovecraft’s adjective-packed passages detailing some elder horror hailing from a realm beyond the limits of human understanding. Indeed, plan on setting aside whatever it is you’re doing if you decide to put this EP on, as his maniacally baroque approach to the instrument demands your full and undivided attention. But in spite of the chaotic complexity, these three songs will stick with you; I’ve found myself contemplating their elaborate riff-mazes even when I’m not listening to them.

The Ash Eaters project has shown marked progression with each release and Nothing is Real feels like the next logical step in UA’s spiral into total six-string madness. It’s cerebral, harrowing and engaging, another musical puzzle to solve for longtime followers of the man’s work and a mind-bending surprise for first-time listeners. If you’re looking for some metal that will get your synapses firing rather than fading into the background, look no further.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 8, 2014

Vaura - The Missing

Written by Aaron Sullivan.

Vaura are a ‘supergroup’ of sorts. The band features Toby Driver(maudlin of the Well, Kayo Dot) and Kevin Hufnagel(Gorguts, Dysrhythmia). Both names that may be recognizable to Metal fans. They combine with drummer Charlie Schmid and vocalist/guitarist Josh Strawn(Religious to Damn) to form Vaura. There was a ton of pre album buzz about The Missing. I had never heard of the band. But between Drivers involvement, and it coming out on Profound Lore I figured it was worth looking into. I’m glad I did.

Photo by Matt Arena

To try and describe the music with a simple genre title would be a bit difficult. The album contains bits of Post-Punk, Black Metal, Prog, and Goth(Darkwave or Coldwave are also words I read associated with them but not genres I am all that familiar with). Of those genres the one that is felt on all of the tracks is Goth, a Sisters of Mercy/Bauhaus feel. Combined with hints of Joy Division Post-Punk. Within the ten song album they pull off dark and brooding, melodic and catchy, sometimes all in one song. Songs rarely stand still. Vocals are Bowie-esque and mix well with the music. The production is full. Drums pounding over the shimmering guitars parts. I dare anyone to hear "Mare of the Snake" and not have it stuck in your head for days. It’s got radio hit all over it without selling out any of the integrity the band members bring.

Photo by Matt Arena

This was an album of the year for me. It was well worth the wait and the hype. It hooked me the moment I heard it and didn’t put it down for some time. Even as I hear it while writing this I find myself falling in love with it all over again. A real triumph; it’s addition to many other year end lists is well deserved.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 6, 2014

Cannabis Corpse / Ghoul - Splatterhash

Written by Andy Osborn.

Artwork by Andrei Bouzikov

Stoners worldwide have been rejoicing at the recent legalization efforts taking place, and what better way to kick off the celebration -- and the new, smoke-filled year -- than with a blazing split from Tankcrimes. The two finest acts on the small label’s roster are also some of the most 420-friendly around, but don’t get them confused for the mellow, relaxed types. Sometimes a high calls for a faster pace and a bit more humor than provided by your typical trudging bong rippers, and that’s exactly what these maniacs deliver with this four track offering. 

Continuing with their potent strain of punk-infused death metal, Cannabis Corpse lay weed-worshipping, comical lyrics over a deadly serious sheen of tight musicianship and surprising technicality. As they’ve always done, the Virginians both parody and pay homage to the best aspects of the genre while still being able claim a sound as wholly their own. Ghoul’s death-thrash keeps the buzz going with 80s Bay Area riffs and intelligent phrasing not normally dished out by their regional brethren. “Inner Sanctum” is the highlight of the split that plays with blistering leads and ever-changing vocal deliveries that keep you guessing what these hooded menaces are going to pull out next. The session ends with a crossover anthem that’ll force you to scrape the bowl and fire it all up over again and again.

As is common with splits, Splatterhash will you wanting more from both bands. But everything about this release -- its concept, cover art, title and production -- is damn-near perfect so it’s difficult to be upset at such a supreme high, short-lived as it is. Light it up, take a deep breath, and don’t forget to pass it around.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 5, 2014

Man's Gin - Rebellion Hymns

Written by Aaron Sullivan.

Man’s Gin return with their second album, Rebellion Hymns. This is the side project of Eric Wunder. One half of the amazing Black Metal band Cobalt. But those looking for Black Metal look else where. This is band exploring the genres of Rock, Country, Americana, Blues, and Folk all mixed up into what becomes Man’s Gin’s sound.

As I expressed in my year end list that this album made. Man’s Gin’s first album Smiling Dogs is among my all time favorites. It hit me like a ton of bricks musically but more importantly lyrically. The album got me through some rough times in my personal life. The lyrics spoke to me as if they were written for that exact moment in time with what I was going through. The lyrics from Nuclear Ambition 1&2 especially. The line "So sinners unite, the sloven and weakened. If you’re beaten or broken press on frustrated." was inspiration and still brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. So when hearing there was to be a new album, I was excited to say the least.

Immediately with the opening of Inspiration you know it’s Man’s Gin. What is also known very early on is that unlike the raw, almost live feel of Smiling Dogs, Rebellion Hymns finds the band spreading their musical wings. The piano, upright bass, and acoustic guitars are all there, but how they exist in the songs is much fuller and not as straight forward. The addition of instruments like accordion, harmonica, melodica, and sax (provided by the great Bruce Lamont) all point to the eclectic nature of this album. The other difference is how each song stands on it’s own. No two sound alike, but still have that Man’s Gin feel. Whether the Tom Wait-ish Off The Coast of Sicily, the almost metallic Old House (Bark at the Moonwalk), or the ambient interludes, they do their best to never repeat themselves. The album also features vocal appearance from Jarboe and the other half of Cobalt, Phil McSorley.

The word that comes to mind when hearing this album is expansive. While the first album sounded as though you were in the rehearsal room as the band played, this one feels like a band that knows what it is capable of and wants the world to hear it. All while never losing it’s raw personal feel. Not a an easy task to accomplish. But then Man’s Gin is not an ordinary band.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

February 4, 2014

Sunn O))) Monoliths and Opinions: Part XIV - Sunn O))) & Ulver - Terrestrials

Written by Craig Hayes.

A portrait of our sun, captured in the wavelength of hydrogen alpha light © Alan Friedman

I’m going against my own better judgment here. One thing I’d never normally attempt is to review prominent sonic adventurers like Sunn O))) or Ulver after only a few scant days of ingesting their separate wares, let alone tackle a collaborative release from both. Independently, Sunn O))) and Ulver are experts at crafting albums that reveal layers of nuance via weeks of listening. Like all great works of art--whatever their medium--both bands’ expressions require patience, so your appreciation of the often subliminal discoveries therein can settle. 

Yet, here I am. Writing about Sunn O))) and Ulver’s new joint release, Terrestrials, after having the highly anticipated album for less than a week. Still, while I’d generally wait until my impressions have untangled before writing about an album of such magnitude, as Terrestrials surely is, I felt in this case that immediacy and spontaneity were called for. Because Terrestrials’ own foundations are built on impulse too.

Norway-based Ulver are rightly renowned as genre-defying luminaries, with acclaimed black metal, neo-classical, conceptual, electronic, and soundtrack works under their belt. Sunn O))), as we all know, are wielders of the stretched-to-infinity riff, and their variegated pressure-wave exploits are similarly revered. Both are master-craftsmen of the bohemian and unorthodox, and both have worked jointly with many metal and experimental artists of note in the past. However, the prospect of Sunn O))) and Ulver reconnoitring new points of interest together--after successfully merging on the track “CUTWOOeD”, from Sunn O)))’s 2003’s album White1--is a dream collaboration for fans of intrepid sonic mapping.

That dream was kick-started back in August 2008, with Sunn O))) joining Ulver at their Crystal Canyon studios in Oslo, to record three live improvised pieces--working from evening till dawn. With Ulver adding their radiance to Sunn O)))’s dark and mangling brew of guitar and bass drones, over the next four years Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg would periodically revisit the recordings to add further ingredients--such as orchestrations from guests, including Ole-Henrik Moe and Kari Rønnekleiv (viola and violin) and Stig Espen Hundsnes (trumpet).  

And finally, with Sunn O))) and Ulver being ever mindful of retaining the original album session’s sense of spontaneity, Terrestrials is here. In keeping with its intended spirit, roiling energy rolls through unscripted drone on aptly titled opener "Let There Be Light”; the track’s 11 minutes of fathomless guitar and bass rumbles building to a (dawn-breaking-over-the-fjords) crescendo, where effects, brass, and percussion break through, bringing the hope of morning, and rays of light. “Western Horn” sees eerie violins run over bass-heavy tides, perfectly channeling the anticipated sculpting of deep, detailed, and formidable sound. However, best of all is “Eternal Return”. This final track sees baritone intonations from Rygg set in a classically moulded midsection, while weeping, dust-bowl violins weave tendrils throughout the rest of the 15 haunting and minimalist minutes--until the track is sucked into a black hole for a stark finish. 

There’s no doubt that Terrestrials exceeds the sky-high expectations surrounding its release. Played loudly, it’s the addition of volume + volume that’ll lead you to best appreciate Terrestrials’ truly impressive heights, depths, and girth--as well as recognising just how many shades and tones of noise both beautiful and grim are to be found. Sunn O)))’s continued explorations of the dimensions of drone and properties of sound bring their expected psychological and physiological weight. Yet, Ulver are here to layer on their distinctive sense of dramatic unease, which brings essential elements of pathos, and those first glimmers of sunrise, to an album that (for all its sonic minimalism) leaves a maximal emotional imprint. 

Lord knows what I’ll think of Terrestrials in a month--when I’ve had even more time to sink into its fathoms. However, after a week’s listening, it’s abundantly clear that Terrestrials is everything I/you/we could have hoped for from a collaboration between two titans of richly rewarding avant-garde artistry. The long wait is over, and the result is, unquestionably, breathtaking. Terrestrials is pure bliss. 

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

The Sunn O))) Monoliths and Opinions series.

February 2, 2014


Written by Ulla Roschat.

Cover art by Damian Augustyniak

71TONMAN are a five piece Sludge/Doom Metal outfit hailing from Wroclaw/Poland. They formed in 2011 and released their self-titled debut album Dec. 2013.

The album is kind of a concept album creating scenarios revolving around a post-apocalyptical world. It comprises of six tracks, of which the first one, the "Intro", is mainly a short narrated introduction to describe the situation, accompanied by sounds that deliver the eerie menacing atmosphere to it as well.

The second track "Bacon Bomb" is a relentlessly slow, heavy sludge monster displaying the band's personal take on the genre, which is in addition to being "fat, low and slow" - the bands own description - also very groovy, heavy like a steam roller, intense and atmospheric.

The songs are carefully constructed and each has its own dynamic character and atmosphere. "Dr Psycho" has an extra pinch of insanity which is very much carried by the vocalist's breathtakingly punchy vocals and some reverb, slightly chaotic drumming and a grand atmospheric build-up with an excellent instrumental work.

"Cyborg Jesus" (my favorite track of the album), picks up the strong atmospheric intensity, adds different facets of moods of melancholy and desolation with an extra pinch of dissonances, dirge-like melodies and again this is very much carried by the vocals.

"Face Fucking Machine" is a classic stoner rock style booze fueled bluesy steam roller and shows a brilliant work of bass and drums.

The title song "71Tonman" at the end of the album and its longest track (12:14) pretty well sums up what the whole album is about. This one is full of all the different moods, cleverly constructed with changes of melody, tempo and rhythm thus creating a dynamic driving build-up with exciting drumming and an extremely abrupt ending that leaves you in a complete, somewhat alarming, empty deathlike stillness.

Throughout the album there's an overall atmosphere that truly captures an apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic sense, and with each song this sense increases, everything is getting just a bit more intense, just a bit heavier and there's just another little twist in this or in that direction and all these "just a bits" and "little extra pinches" of whatever, keep the album in a constant dynamic, very organic and exciting. Nothing sounds forced or overdone.

This is an absolutely stunning debut album and a complete DIY venture on top of it.

Necrophobic - The Nocturnal Silence

An Autothrall classic. Originally published here.

Cover art by Urban Skytt

There are classic albums and there are cult albums. The Nocturnal Silence is both, one of the best early statements of the Swedish death metal uprising of the early to mid 90s. Unlike a Left Hand Path though, this one wasn't an instant personal attraction. It took several years to develop on me, but one drunken evening I was listening to it with a friend at university and it suddenly dawned on me...this is awesome.

Necrophobic tend towards the occult side of the death metal spectra, with grim lyrics about hell and vile philosophies. They have a similar guitar tone to their contemporaries, but otherwise do not sound quite the same as far as how they present their riffs. I once thought this album was a rambling mess, but it is in fact pinpoint in its delivery of grinding guitars and the barking of ex-vocalist Anders Strokirk. The album is produced by the infamous Tomas Skogsberg so you know what to expect.

As a complete work The Nocturnal Silence is extremely consistent, each of the nine tracks destroys. "Awakening" begins with some spooky keyboards, soon joined by some slower leads before the churning guitars herald the apocalypse. Simple old school death rhythms commence a dark mood on the diabolic "Before the Dawn". "Unholy Prophecies" has a few rhythms which recall Slayer when they were good. The title track begins with haunted acoustics, again building into a grim lead melody. "Inborn Evil" has a slower groove to it, while "The Ancient's Gate" starts with the sickest groove on the album. Also of note are the barbaric and fast-paced "Sacrificial Rites" and the creepy "Where Sinners Burn".

Though the album has been remastered, it still sounds great in its original form. There is nothing overly polished about it, it simply manages to retain a dark intonation that many death metal albums only wish they could have. So often we forget what the pure evil of this genre used to sound like, jaded from endless overdubbed albums with focus on technical precision to the detriment of atmosphere. The Nocturnal Silence remains my favorite of Necrophobic's albums, and a true relic of extreme Swedish metal.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]