Friday, July 11, 2014


     A few months ago I stumbled upon Voidcraeft's youtube video for the song "Meditation on Despair" and was immediately entranced by some of the most interesting and unique black metal I had ever heard. Since then I have been haunted by the bizarre melodies and atmosphere contained within the reclusive artist's songs. 

     The music is along the lines of Deathspell Omega's later material and other more experimental black metal but also holds a death metal vibe at times. Although the songs utilize programmed drums, they are produced in a very tasteful way that is suitable for the music. The riffs here are menacing and chaotic, but still allow the listener to follow the lines of melody. The result is a very difficult listening experience in the best way possible.  Transitions are abrupt, leaving little room to hold a groove, and definitely suit the circuitous and bizarre riffs floating over the listener almost too quickly to comprehend. The result is like being put into a trance by an organic mass of tones relentlessly shifting and weaving through one another. The vocals are also really well done here. A very chilling raspy growl with a bit of echo. At times the vocals shift to a more death metal growl that adds a dynamic layer to this mysterious voice behind an opaque wall of confusion and bewilderment.

     "Meditation on Despair" is one of the greatest black metal songs I've heard in the past few years, and I must say that  the video is a near perfect match for the chilling and entrancing atmosphere there-within. You can rest assured that this is no fluke as the rest of the available material is equally compelling including the latest released song "Rich in Adversity" which also includes an accompanying video.

    The sole member behind the project writes and records all of the music himself. Making what is already a huge accomplishment all the more impressive. I cannot express my admiration for this project enough as it is honestly some of the most refreshing and interesting black metal I've come across in the past few years. The multiple music videos, for lack of a better term, also add tremendously to the experience. 

    If you are at all a fan of experimental black metal, Voidcraeft is a must and in my opinion, a pioneer to be mentioned aside other bands of exceptional caliber at the forefront of modern black metal. 

    More information can be found at the creator's website. The site also includes download links to all of the online-only releases, as well as more behind the scenes information in regards to the writing and production techniques.

    This release is a must listen for those who consider themselves fans of experimental metal music. The melodies alone are interesting enough, but the well rounded composition, awesome vocals, and production put this into what I would consider groundbreaking territory for modern black metal. Bewildering, unsettling, and almost disturbing music that is most effective. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lantern- "Below"- 2013

It has been a long time since the last blog post. The initial idea of this blog was to reserve posts for only the absolute best albums I come across, particularly albums that may not be as well known, both old and new.

The time has finally come to make a new post, after hearing what I can only describe as a groundbreaking death metal record from Finland's Lantern, entitled Below. Not since Negative Plane's Et in Saecula Saeculorum, have I heard an album with a near perfect mix of  an old school vibe, along  with an updated twist that coincides to create something so gloriously sinister and unique.

The music is mainly death metal, combined with lesser elements of doom and black metal. The overall tone is chaotic and bludgeoning. Riffs are composed with an enormous attention to the rhythm and pacing, which work brilliantly over the chaotic and relentless drumming. In addition to the awesome death metal riffs are slowed paced doom-metal parts under very memorable melodic guitar leads. Combined with the aforementioned variables are numerous blast beats with a small black metal vibe. The result is somewhere between Necrophobic and Morbid Angel, yet somehow more sinister, organic and cryptic.

"A question unto thee: what suffering made your linger?"
You show me Italy in late sixties, winter's time
Catholic belief still struck so deep in your fingers
The priests flogged and conveyed against their thighs, moaning...

The vocals are also a high point on the album. While the vocals alone are more or less what we've all come to expect from death metal, the rhythmic delivery and lyrics definitely set this performance apart form contemporaries, putting the already brilliant song structures into another stratosphere of absolute madness.

Below's production is also to be noted. The  drums sound kind of muffled, but with a decent amount of reverb. While the guitars sound a bit rawer and similar to black metal tone. The guitar  leads are mid-heavy, creating an adequate and very familiar sound above the somewhat muddy production.

Unholy deed performed in secrecy
Lay haunting the eve like the reminiscence of the late
and when the clouds meander and take forms like unseen
something stirs in the ether, a presence...

 While I can certainly see why some may not enjoy the production of the album, I find it be incredibly well suited for the material. With a more organic production and less polished sound, the album sounds more like an underground release, forgoing the somewhat sterile sound of most modern death metal for a more natural and earthly atmosphere.

I cannot recommend this album enough to anyone who enjoys death metal in the least. While death metal itself may not be my favorite metal genre, this release is already my frontrunner for best of 2013. Chaotic, evil, melodic, and memorable. If Lantern's next release is anywhere on the same level as Below, this band is a legend in the making. As always be sure to buy this album and continue to support amazing bands like Lantern.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tangorodrim- "Unholy and Unlimited" - 2003

<br />Tangorodrim - Unholy and Unlimited

I can think of few bands that are more influential than Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, and Darkthrone when it comes to black metal, and I have a feeling Tangorodrim probably would agree (check out the back cover of this album and it should be clear). Ostensibly formed in 1996, Tangorodrim's members are of Russian descent, located in Israel, a land not exactly known for having many metal bands.

What we have here on their third full length Unholy and Unlimited, is straight-up, no bullshit Celtic Frost/Hellhammer worship of the highest caliber. The first song on the album "Bestial Scent", grabs you by the balls with a hellishly deep growl over an awesome riff reminiscent of early Darkthrone. The rest of the song straddles the early Darkthrone style as well, but the remaining songs on the album have more of Celtic Frost/Hellhammer vibe that are extremely well done.

The guitars are thick and heavy, and perfectly suited for the style. The drums have a natural unpolished sound that compliment the thick guitar tone that relentlessly pummels you with riff after riff of headbanging bliss. I'm really hoping to grab this release on vinyl as I have a feeling it would really shine through all the more. The aforementioned deep vocals are vaguely similar to Tom G. Warrior's infamous delivery, but with a bit more force and less distinction.

I can't imagine any fan of Celtic Frost/Hellhammer not immediately falling in love with this release. There's really not much more I can say other than this is seriously fucking mandatory. A greater homage to an old school sound I almost could not imagine.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blut Aus Nord- "777 Sect(s)" - 2011

Few bands have been able to push the boundaries of black metal in recent years as much as French act Blut Aus Nord. Since their debut release of "Ultima Thule" in 1995, Blut Aus Nord has climbed their way to the forefront of the black metal genre, utilizing a bizarre but extremely effective style, that has evolved impressively throughout their career. Although the band has developed a large amount of recognition for their work prior to this release, "777 Sect(s)", the first of the "777" trilogy, has cemented the band's reputation as an innovator of progression within the black metal genre.

A brilliant combination of dissonance, melody, and atmosphere come together to create an extremely impressive collection of songs that move the listener through bizarre passages of absolute insanity and melancholy.

Although the band utilizes a drum machine, the lack of acoustic drums do not affect the quality of the songs. The sterile drum sound creates an almost industrial feel, but is offset by a menacingly thick and heavy guitar tone. The combination of the two create a sound that is somewhat polished, but manages to compliment the near flawless composition of the songs, evoking a very ominous sense of atmosphere. Contrasted with other passages that remain more melodic, the outcome is a sound somewhere between Deathspell Omega and Godflesh, with more melody and a small ambient vibe.

My only criticism would be the lack of focus on the vocals, which are mixed fairly low on the album. The downright stellar composition  more than makes up for what the vocals leave to be desired. I can think of few albums that are as chaotic and bludgeoning while still maintaining a sense melody and memorability.

The three songs posted here are probably my favorite from the album. "Epitome II" being my favorite by far. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Evilfeast- "Mysteries of the Nocturnal Forest" - 2004

Evilfeast, a one man black metal act from Poland, quickly became one of my favorites after listening to the debut full length "Mysteries of the Nocturnal Forest". The musicianship on the album is very impressive for a one man project, and the composition is as equally well done. There is a lot of musical complexity and variation that result in really dynamic songs, that remain easily accessible and memorable.  

While themes such as nature, evil, misanthropy, and death may sound all too familiar, there are few albums I can think of that evoke the aforementioned atmospheres as well as "Mysteries...". The album starts off with an instrumental introduction via synth. Typically, these types of introductions for black metal albums are superfluous and not very satisfying, but this one in particular is really intriguing. There is a sophisticated sense of melody and composition that slowly draws the listener in, and sets the musical tone for the rest of the album very well.

The production on the album is pretty straightforward, but manages to capture a really nice guitar tone that fits the album perfectly. There are synth passages and melodies throughout, tastefully integrated into the mix and adding to the majestic nature of the album. The drums sound natural without too much reverb or compression, taking a backseat to the guitars, elevating the almost trance like nature of the guitar melodies.

The style of the songs are nothing completely unique, but combine different styles of riffs and tempos that are quite compelling. A typical song will contain riffs varying from melancholic, evil, atmospheric and near classical. The combination of different style riffs makes this album incredibly enjoyable throughout its entirety, resulting in a symphonic sound of the highest caliber. Recommended for fans of the fellow Polish, one black metal act Hellveto.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hivelords- "The Cellar Scrolls" - 2011

While the local Philadelphia metal scene has grown a lot over the past years, few bands have grabbed my attention more than the recently formed black/funeral doom outfit, Hivelords. Hivelords play a mixture of slow funeral doom, contrasted with faster, more traditional black metal riffs. The songs are very heavy and very long, evoking a delightfully disturbing atmosphere. The dynamic vocals sound completely insane and really set this band apart from other similar doom metal acts. The riffs are circuitous and very well composed for a debut release, making this band all the more promising.

 If you like the "The Cellar Scrolls" debut, be sure to check out their follow up EP "Grand Cromlech". Both can be downloaded and streamed  from their Bandcamp page linked below. Although you have the option to pay what you want, do the band a favor and give these guys a few bucks if you like what you hear. They will be touring this summer and could use the support.

Their live show is also worth mentioning as the vocalist really steals the show with intense vocals and theatrics, that add a lot of energy to their already awesome live show. If you have a chance to see these guys live, do not miss it. Hivelords will be on tour this summer with fellow Philadelphia doom band Sadgiqacea. You can find tour dates on their Facebook event page linked below.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Haunting Presence - "S/T Demo" 2011

A very promising demo from the death/black metal band known as The Haunting Presence, a member of the Black Twilight Circle. I should start off by saying that there is nothing on this demo you haven't heard before, but it tends to shine through for reasons I find hard to articulate. The songs are fast, the riffs are almost incoherent at times, and the vocals are in a wash of delay. The production is a little rough on the listener, but actually adds the chaotic nature of the songs. This a very primitive release, and somewhat different from the other BTC bands, but still maintains a similar atmosphere. Highly recommended, and one of the most enjoyable bands I've seen at a live show

Really awesome live footage of these guys....