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Daniel

June 2024

1. Akhlys - Sister Silence, Brother Sleep (from Sister Silence, Brother Sleep, 2024)

2. Scarcity - Venom & Cadmium (from Venom & Cadmium, 2024)

3. Antichrist Siege Machine - Lysergic War Psychosis (from Vengeance of Eternal Fire, 2024) [Submitted by Sonny]

4. Aristarchos - Atrium - Martyr of Star and Fire (from Martyr of Star and Fire, 2024)

5. Tsjuder - Lord of Terror (from Kill for Satan, 2000) [Submitted by Vinny]

6. Saidan - Visual Kill (from Visual Kill: The Blossoming of Psychotic Depravity, 2024)

7. Kostnateni - Nevolnost je vše, čím jsem (Nausea Is All I Am) (from Upal, 2023) [Submitted by Daniel]

8. Sear Bliss - The Upper World (from The Upper World, 2024)

9. Above Aurora - Inner Whispers (from Myriad Woes, 2024) [Submitted by Sonny]

10. Anorexia Nervosa - Antinferno (from Redemption Process, 2004) [Submitted by Vinny]

11. Liturgy - Vessel of Everthirst (from Immortal Life II, 2024)

12. Aquilus - Into the Earth (from Bellum II, 2024)

13. Hellripper - Mester Stoor Worm (from Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags, 2023) [Submitted by Daniel]

14. Grima - Hunger God (from Frostbitten, 2022) [Submitted by Vinny]

15. 1349 - Ash of Ages (from Ash of Ages, 2024)

16. Melechesh - Incendium Between Mirage and Time (from Sphynx, 2003) [Submitted by Sonny]

17. Primitive Warfare - Heretic Crusade (from Extinction Protocol, 2024)

18. Trhä - Danë‡i (from Av◊ëlajnt◊ë£ hinnem nihre, 2023) [Submitted by Daniel]

34
UnhinderedbyTalent

Hi Ben, I have just been looking at the Emperor live releases and note that for 2009 you have the "Live at Wacken Open Air 2006 - a Night of Emperial Wrath" album and the "Thus Spake the Nightspirit - Live Inferno" EP. There was also an album called "Live Inferno" released which was on 2x CDs with a live set from the Inferno Festival on disc 1 and the Live at Wacken Open Air 2006 set on disc 2. I have a copy and can confirm it is a genuine and official release. Could it be added please?

209
Daniel

OK, but just clarifying...


 The simple fact is, I enjoy that album and the effect it has upon me. I don't have to justify that to anyone and throwing insults around because you disagree is disrespectful to the opinions of others. All this does is reminds me why I tend to avoid internet forums, so fuck it, I don't need your bad vibes, so I'll keep my opinions to myself.


You, of course, can say whatever you want, Rex, I just want no part of it anymore, as is my right. I'm not "scolding" anyone - get on with it, good luck, I'm gone!

Quoted Sonny


Just making sure the former isn't scolding, in case things get misconstrued again.


67
Daniel

A new Akhlys album called "House of the Black Geminus" is due 5th July... looking forward to this one.



108
Ben

Here's my review:


I was genuinely surprised by how much I loved the 2004 "Requiem Tenebrae" third album from French black metallers Nehëmah when Ben nominated it for feature release status some time ago now. It didn't do anything particularly different to the gods of the Norwegian second wave but goddamn it did it well, so much so that I've since gone on to claim it as somewhat of a minor classic these days. It's with great joy then that I report that Nehëmah's 2002 debut album offers more of the same & has knocked my socks off once again.

Nehëmah's sound sits entirely within tried & tested territory but it's very clear that they possess an impeccable pedigree in the genre. The production job on "Light of a Dead Star" is perfect for this style of music with the lo-fi wall of trebly guitars achieving that swarming, relentless assault that all good conventional black metal of this ilk tends to do. The musicianship is quite capable without ever overdoing it & this can best be seen in the drumming which is very powerful but never over-precise. I do have to mention that the album's weaker moments do tend to coincide with the periods where band leader Corven opts for those bouncier one-two beats that Ben & I both struggle with though & I feel that the release might have had the potential to score even higher if not for those distractions.

Darkthrone have clearly been the most major influence on Nehëmah, their unholy trinity in particular. Corven's vocals often sound exactly like Nocturno Culto's but you know what? I fucking miss classic Darkthrone & these style of ultra-grim, uncompromisingly evil vocals really fucking do it for me so I don't give one iota of shit if the style & tone has been lifted from one of the greats of the genre. The faster & more blasting tracks are Nehëmah's strength but they are also quite adept at slowing things down in order to explore some more atmospheric territory at times too with apparent Burzum influences popping up on occasion & the subtle use of keyboards & chanted clean vocals used to good effect.

The eight-song tracklisting is impeccable & imposing with two atmospheric ambient pieces bookmarking the black metal material. The first of these interlude-style tracks is "The Witch Burns..." which is a wonderful way to kick off a black metal record with its tone giving the strong impression of witnessing an actual burning at the stake. The proper songs are scattered with highlights too, the best of which start & end the album in the extraordinarily Darkthrone-esque title track & the ultra-dark & soul-engulfing "Misty Swamps". "In October Nightshades" & "I Will Sleep With The Drgaon" are just as striking though which should give you an indication of just how special this record is. Unfortunately, the only negative is that Nehëmah never quite manage to completely nail a five-star song with some minor flaw creeping into every one of the lengthy tracks & seeing me pulling my rating back just a touch.

"Requiem Tenebrae" may well remain the pinnacle of Nehëmah's recording career for all eternity but I have to admit that "Light of a Dead Star" gives it a serious run for its money, only just slipping behind due to its inability to completely nail an entire piece. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of completely devastating moments on this album though with some parts hitting my sweet spot so hard that I felt completely overwhelmed. "Light of a Dead Star" should be compulsory listening for all fans of straight down the line conventional black metal.

For fans of Darkthrone, Immortal & Marduk.

4.5/5

1
ZeroSymbolic7188

As the final moments of Ulver's Bergtatt play out and fade into the abyss I complete my journey through Black Metal-The First Decade.

This really was a journey too, I experienced a range of emotions; anger, frustration, joy, sadness, disappointment, and satisfaction.  Where the Modern Death challenge list left me apathetic, I was never at a loss for visceral emotional response as I made my way throught the frostbitten, demonic, mystical, and beautiful forest of Black Metal's early offerings.

There was only one or two albums where I was left with a middle of the road sort of feeling. I was for the most part either writing a half star review or a five star review, and to me that's the best sort of art. I wouldn't reccommend every album as a stand alone, but I would reccomend that list as a complete experience.

I also learned a lot about myself and how I relate to this clan. 

I'm a very a-typical Black Metal fan, or at least very much against the grain of the stereotype perpetuated on the internet. I do not come to this music to praise the horned one-while not a church goer I am a very spiritually devoted Christian. I'm not particularly fond of absurdly low-fi production or blast beats-I enjoy them as flourishes or when they add a certain character to the overall product, but I am not on a quest to find the most harsh and abrasive recordings available.

so what am I doing here? 

I relate to descriptions of frozen wilderness and bitter cold. I understand isolation, and misanthropy. I enjoy evil sounding guitar riffs. My favorite albums on this list were 1st wave entries that played like diabolical thrash more than the 2nd wave or true Norwegian sound. The more melodic entries appealed to me. I have always prefered dirty vocals over cleans, so the black metal rasp suites me fine. 

I'm drawn to black metal through DSBM, which I get a feeling is sort of the black sheep (or goat as it were) of the sub-genre. It works along side my adoration for particular funeral doom. I enjoy melancholy introverted heavy music. 

BLACK FUCKING METAL! 



0
Daniel

Satanic North - "Village" (from "Satanic North", 2024)

Warmoon Lord - "Blazing Warrior Soul" (from "Burning Banners of Funereal War", 2019)

Saidan - "Genocidal BloodFiend" (from "Visual Kill: The Blossoming of Psychotic Depravity", 2024)

Thanks Ben

181
Ben

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0Sw9mEcyXo1pGyFHR3znLT?si=9eb898291b6f4c46


1. Akhlys - Sister Silence, Brother Sleep (from Sister Silence, Brother Sleep, 2024)

2. Scarcity - Venom & Cadmium (from Venom & Cadmium, 2024)

3. Antichrist Siege Machine - Lysergic War Psychosis (from Vengeance of Eternal Fire, 2024) [Submitted by Sonny]

4. Aristarchos - Atrium - Martyr of Star and Fire (from Martyr of Star and Fire, 2024)

5. Tsjuder - Lord of Terror (from Kill for Satan, 2000) [Submitted by Vinny]

6. Saidan - Visual Kill (from Visual Kill: The Blossoming of Psychotic Depravity, 2024)

7. Kostnateni - Nevolnost je vše, čím jsem (Nausea Is All I Am) (from Upal, 2023) [Submitted by Daniel]

8. Sear Bliss - The Upper World (from The Upper World, 2024)

9. Above Aurora - Inner Whispers (from Myriad Woes, 2024) [Submitted by Sonny]

10. Anorexia Nervosa - Antinferno (from Redemption Process, 2004) [Submitted by Vinny]

11. Liturgy - Vessel of Everthirst (from Immortal Life II, 2024)

12. Aquilus - Into the Earth (from Bellum II, 2024)

13. Hellripper - Mester Stoor Worm (from Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags, 2023) [Submitted by Daniel]

14. Grima - Hunger God (from Frostbitten, 2022) [Submitted by Vinny]

15. 1349 - Ash of Ages (from Ash of Ages, 2024)

16. Melechesh - Incendium Between Mirage and Time (from Sphynx, 2003) [Submitted by Sonny]

17. Primitive Warfare - Heretic Crusade (from Extinction Protocol, 2024)

18. Trhä - Danë‡i (from Av◊ëlajnt◊ë£ hinnem nihre, 2023) [Submitted by Daniel]

0
Sonny

When my self-imposed exile from metal was ending at the end of the Nineties and I was casting around for bands to get me into the new sounds that had developed since I left it behind in 1990, I stumbled upon CoF playing live on some late night UK TV show and was mesmerised by their sound and aesthetic which were all new to me. I soon obtained a copy of Principles of Evil (via Napster I am ashamed to say) and really got into this new, eccentric-sounding and thoroughly exciting "new" style. I've not always been wowed by all their stuff, but I did find that this debut, Middian and even Nymphetamine offered me enough enjoyment to thoroughly shred any possibility of me claiming to be any kind of trve kvltist black metal fan! However, over the intervening years my black metal listening has refined itself somewhat with Cradle no longer appealing to me that much and it has been a long time since I last listened to Principles of Evil all the way through, so it's time to see how it stacks up 25 years on from my initial discovery of the East Anglian black metal goths.

The most striking thing about CoF is the sheer theatricality of their sound. Combining the symphonic black metal of Emperor with the gothic aesthetics of MyDying Bride, Dani Filth strikes me as a black metal version of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Cradle albums as soundtracks to black metal musicals. In truth, that fanciful notion has less basis in fact here on the debut than it does on some of their later releases, but it is still a fair comment, I think, as it is still steeped in theatricality. To this end Benjamin Ryan's keyboards play a significant role on The Principle... providing intros, outros, interludes and as atmospheric layering they are never far from the action and provide some great moments, such as during The Forest Whispers My Name where they provide a nice melodic overlay and my favourite track, To Eve the Art of Witchcraft, which is undoubtedly elevated by Ryan's keyboard work.

Obviously, Cradle never really sounded this black metal again, with them inching into more gothic metal territory with each release, but underneath the gothic and atmospheric trappings there are some pretty decent slices of melodic black metal blasting here with the title track, the aforementioned The Forest Whispers My Name and A Crescendo of Passion Bleeding. They are unafraid to slow things down, too, and lean more into the gothic metal direction. The Black Goddess Rises, for example, contains little actual black metal and is a much more considered tempo, almost resembling doom metal, for much of it's runtime.

I'm actually glad I returned to this for May's feature because it has held up quite well across the intervening years and I feel a bit more love towards it today than I did before revisiting it. Of course there is an inherent degree of cheesiness here, with Dani's clean vocals providing much of it, but I do like his singular brand of ear-piercing screams which possibly makes me a bit more forgiving. All in all, I am feeling so well-disposed to Principle today, after several revisits during the month, that I am going to up my long-standing 3.5 star rating to a full 4.

4/5

2
Daniel

Deathspell Omega - Fas – Ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum (2007)

Remarkably I haven't got around to DsO's "Fas – Ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum" before, so I thought I would slap it on my player as I headed out with Koko this morning. As I have said several times before, I have very little tolerance for dissonant metal and even less for avant-garde music, yet somehow DsO seem to be able to transcend these ingrained prejudices of mine. I don't know exactly why the Frenchmen succeed where so many fail, but their dissonant form of black metal is so skillfully assembled that I find it irresistibly attractive with none of the built-in revulsion I feel for other practitioners of the dissonant style. Ultimately it feels more like a coherent wall of sound to me rather than diverse elements working against each other, which most other dissonant metal does. The vocals are fantastic and the drumming especially is transfixing in both intensity and precision. All-in-all these guys are the absolute very best at what they do and "Fas – Ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum" is another brilliant example of the masters at their craft.

4.5/5

115
Daniel


The Ruins of Bevarast - Takitum Tootem! (EP)

Genres: Tribal Ambient, Atmo-Black

The Ruins of Beverast marathon #7 - Takitum Tootem!

OK, so I'm reading about this album on RYM, and it tags the EP as "tribal ambient" and "black metal."  So here I am thinking, "OK, this is gonna be one of the coolest fucking things ever, or a mess."  The ratings don't look so good on RYM, but that didn't stop me from checking out their demo.  I had a few theories as to what this album would sound like, but I didn't care which one was right.  I just wanted to jump right into it after I had gotten that chronologically far in RoB's discography.

Track one of two: Takitum Tootem! (Wardance).  It starts out with a dark ambient intro with mild tribalism that evolves into a long black metal riff.  The riff itself has a very metal energy about it that isn't so much "evil" as it is "cool" and "dark."  Tribal drumming rides the whole rest of the track.  Unfortunately, it stays that way for 75% of the song with very few meaningful shifts.  I'm surprised at RoB for doing that.

Track two: Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun: This one gets right into the weird tribal atmospheres and instrumentation.  It's practically invoking images of fighting zombies in an ancient temple.  The atmosphere and instrumentation are PERFECT.  Around three minutes in, we start to see occasional ghostly vocals like something out of a Metroid game.  Black metal guitars are also used sparingly at first for build-up.  It speeds up at the four minute mark, turning into pure tribal black metal as guitars overlap each other level upon level like the ending act of Nine Inch Nails' Closer.  It stays that way for a moment before drowning down to a dungeon ambient tune that carries over the Metroid mysticism, going through various Lovecraftian sound effects before returning to the main riff of the beginning, but with more "technological" aspects.  Genius moves on their part.  Now it sounds EXACTLY like something out of a Metroid game.  It ends with two more segments: one final blast of black tribalism, and a weirdass outro with what sounds like some awkward animal noises for a surreal effect.

I certainly wasn't disappointed with this one.  This otherworldly EP carries the surreal vibes of Metroid, Cthulhu and even some Juno Reactor songs.  The first track was decent on its own, but the second track is one of the coolest ambient tracks I've heard.  This is easily a keeper.

83/100.

55
Daniel


The Ruins of Beverast - Emchanted by Gravemold

Genres: Atmo-Black Metal, Black Doom Metal

Wasn't really expecting a demos album, but I had to know what the rejects from the first three albums sounded like.  Ruins of Beverast is a project that's shown me a whole new world of black metal, one that I hope is much more thoroughly explored by the masses.  I REALLY do think it's possible.  Did you know that you can get 1000 new black metal studio albums every year?  I checked the RYM charts and multiple year charts for this.  It's fucking true.  On top of that, Darkthrone's updating the doom influence in their modern albums, so I really hope this becomes a thing: blackened doom metal, and not just a small time blanket term for a select few bands like "Philly Club Rap."  So I'm going to keep exploring Beverast and the world he created, and that includes demos and rejects like this.

Desert Lair does show some kind of a difference.  Maybe the occasional slightly higher timbres don't allow it to feel as dark as what was called for on the albums at first?  Maybe the production was wrong because it's a bit more clear?  I have no idea, but otherwise, I don't find anything wrong with in.  The variations in rhythm, tempo and instrumentation are abundant, but they all flow together perfectly.  If anything, this is one of his finest performances.  In fact, I checked some reviews to see what people thought, and apparently I'm not off the mark here: this is basically a highlight of RoB's career.  It kinda pains me that he left this off his official albums.

The Moselle Enigma goes right into the noisier black metal production, and is a bit off.  The noise-factor of the instrumentation is properly messy, but it gets in the way of hearing the vocals properly.  Real shame because the rhythms are fantastic.  Despite how maniacal this song is, it's surprisingly catchy and intriguing.  The second half starts off with rain recordings and more choral vocals, giving us a very bleak imagery that's just PERFECT for the vibe of the song.  Part of me wanted this segment to last the remainder of the song, but when it ended I still had a minute left, and it was used on the format of the first half, which I think is perfectly fine this time considering its short length in comparison to the average length of an RoB song.

Hours of the Aequinox is next, and we go into it with a black noise focus and a slower, doomier violin intro just totally chilling me out.  A serene song was the perfect way to follow up the last one, and the black noise is the perfect way to follow up the rainy effects.  We don't have very many slow-going atmo-black songs that mirror the winter aesthetic, as up to this point, the tones and timbres were a bit deeper.

Those were the originals.  Apparently, the last three songs are all covers, starting with Enigma of the Absolute, originally present on Dead Can Dance's Spleen and Ideal.  Now Spleen and Ideal is one of the best darkwave albums in the world, so covering it is a daunting task.  You'd think a master of black metal would pull it off, and it might've been done had the production been better.  The rhythms of the guitars can barely be made out, the percussion's week, and the effects are almost entirely drowned out.  It's a real shame.  This could've stood with the original.

Next, believe it or not, is a cover of To Have and to Hold off of Music for the Masses, as in DEPECHE MODE.  I guess it can be done, as Depeche Mode have dabbled with darkwave instrumentation before.  It's a pretty creepy track with its own personality, and I guess it's a slight improvement because the atmosphere and production are improved.  But this song doesn't even reach the creative heights of Unlock the Shrine's segues.

The final cover is Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium by My Dying Bride.  Now I've never heard the original EP with this song, but I'm more than aware of what MDB sounds like.  I've got several of their albums under my belt.  This version uses neoclassical synths to help with the atmospheres, steering into symphonic black metal akin to Summoning.  And it really does capture the epic vibes very well, but the problem is that a 16-minute Ruins of Beverast song needs to keep evolving.  Thankfully this gets around to that at around the five-minute mark, but I think the pitch of the synths is a bit too high for the deeper timbres of the black metal instrumentation, so I can't really say that RoB rocks symphonic black as well as he does atmo-black, despite this being a pretty cover.

OK, the first three tracks work perfectly well on their own, and even in order, whether or not they were intended that way.  The three covers in the second half, however, felt lacking and in need of polishing in order to be great.  So if you're a Beverast fan already, I really do recommend this album if not only for the first half.  But if you're not, you'll probably hate the covers.

80/100.  About a 9.5 for the first half, about a 6.5 for the second.

33
Ben

I loved the Antichrist Siege Machine track, which is unsurprising as the album it is from is currently my #2 album of 2024. Other notables were Darkestrah with the grandiose pomp and circumstance of "Destroyer of Obstacles" really tickling my fancy this morning, Sacrificial Vein's blatant DsO-worship and Tsjuder's uncompromising old-school onslaught also standing out. To be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole playlist, except for the Labyrinthus Stellarum track, which is in large part due to a deep-seated loathing of synthesised vocals of the type used here, but even without that it was largely unremarkable to my ears. The closing Trhä track I also found to be quite emotional for some reason, it's wistful and reflective atmosphere chiming with my own emotional state today.
Once more a stellar effort Ben, thanks a lot.

1
Sonny

Antichrist Siege Machine - Vengeance of Eternal Fire (2024)

Antichrist Siege Machine are relative newcomers to the war metal scene, their debut EP hitting the stands in 2017, but they have taken the genre by the scruff of the neck and laid down some pretty brutal stuff in the seven years since. With latest album, Vengeance of Eternal Fire, ASM have really hit their groove with a release that delivers an all-out aural battery without the muddy production values that robbed so many of their predecessor's releases of any clarity. Yes, I know that muddy, chaotic sound was part of the appeal of early war metal releases from the Blasphemies of this world and I love that archetypal sound too, but here, thirty-five years on from those earliest canoniacal war metal classics, the genre has moved on from that and the best modern war metal acts don't need to hide behind poor production because they have the chops to produce brutal and blasphemous sounds whilst allowing the listener to actually hear everything they are doing.

Of course the basis of war metal is an unholy alliance of death and black metal, with varying proportions of each within the mix. ASM tend towards the more death metal end of the war metal spectrum, dropping occasionally into quite "groovy" slower death metal riffing, just enough to break things up and provide a little variety, but not so much that it distracts from the overarching blitzkrieg that comprises the vast majority of Vengeance of Eternal Fire and shouldn't be seen as any kind of treasonous act against war metal orthodoxy. The drums sit fairly prominently in the mix, so the blastbeats are given plenty of focus, almost as much as the blistering riffs. Interestingly drummer Scott "S.B." Bartley is also the vocalist, so it must be quite a feat when playing live for him to sing whilst launching salvo after salvo of blastbeats. His vocals actually seem to sit lower in the mix than his drumming, thus giving them a distant, buried feel, despite their bellicose viciousness. The high production values allow the listener to distinguish the riffs far easier than on old-school war metal releases and to appreciate the finer details which may have been lost in the past.

I must say, as much as I love OSWM, I do like the fact that a band like ASM employ a cleaner production style, which does make appreciation of the nuances of war metal much easier - and I say this with no ironic intent because it is obvious that, despite the inherent (almost) continuous blasting and breakneck riffing, that these guys really have great command of their instruments and their overall sound is tight, aggressive and technically solid. At the end of the day, they write killer riffs, have a powerful delivery and are extremely capable of capturing the witheringly blasphemous intent of true war metal. For me this is the band's best release to date and call me heretic if you must, but I think this is capable of standing against the very best that war metal has to offer. To (mis)quote the intro to the Fallout 4 video game "war metal... war metal never changes". Except when it does!

4.5/5

40
Ben

Strong month this time with me picking up the fantastic Narbeleth (props to Sonny).  Since listening through the playlist on Sunday, these Spanish residing Cubans have not been off my speakers much.  New Mütiilation slipped by me and that track sounds promising to my ears.  I was not too smitten with Suldusk or Moonlight Sorcery but it was great to see some BAN (underrated album that "Odinist..."), Rotting Christ and Xasthur getting some air time. 

1
Daniel

Here's my review:


1991's "Worship Him" debut album was a relatively big record for Ben & I back in the early 1990's. I was already a fan of the First Wave of Black Metal when I first discovered Switzerland's Samael & their first full-length possessed some of the best traits from a number of those bands which saw me being heavily attracted to their fairly simple yet deeply atmospheric take on early black metal; their measured & doomy sense of control being in direct contrast to the death metal explosion that I was right up to my eyeballs in at the time. We'd pick up 1992's follow-up album "Blood Ritual" on CD & would give it a very similar treatment & with a fairly similar result from what I recall too. I didn't regard either record as being classics for the genre at the time but felt that they were essential early black metal release nonetheless. I always got the feeling that they sported a timeless quality & that element is still very much in effect with this week's revisit.

"Blood Ritual" isn't as different from "Worship Him" as some reviewers tend to make out. It certainly contains a cleaner, heavier production job that has obviously been inspired by felllow Swiss extreme metal legends Celtic Frost with the thick layers of rhythm guitar being a clear highlight of the record. The slow-to-mid paced tempos of "Worship Him" have only been dialed back a little further with the doomy vibe of the slower material off the debut having been accentuated here. If anything the riff structures are even less typical of the modern-day black metal sound too with thrash & doom metal tools being utilized within the context of a black metal atmosphere. Guitarist Vorphalack's grim Quorthon-inspired vocals always end to tie Samael to the black metal genre too, along with the darker feel & simpler riff structures. This is black metal at its most primitive, only with a production that goes very much against the traditional lo-fi grain that black metal was built on but one that definitely suits Samael's character traits. Celtic Frost are the clear source of inspiration here & (as with "Worship Him") I can't help but wonder as to just how much of an influence the early Samael releases had on Darkthrone's transition into black metal, particularly records like "Panzerfaust". The early works of Greece's Rotting Christ & Varathron also come to mind due to the similarities in style & tempo.

The tracklisting on "Blood Ritual" is very top-heavy with the vast majority of the stronger material residing on the A side. There's a short lull in the middle of the album with the faster title track (a re-recorded track from their 1988 "Macabre Operatta" demo tape) & short interlude "Since the Creation..." failing to hit the mark before things return to more enjoyable territories for the remainder of the record. The most notable inclusion is the incredible "After the Sepulture" which was clearly Samael's finest moment to the time & is still one of my all-time favourites amongst the earlier black metal acts. It represents Samael's first genuine classic & is probably the differentiator between where the two albums stand for me personally. Other highlights include "Poison Infiltration", "Bestial Devotion", the solid opener "Beyond the Nothingness" & the lengthy "Macabre Operatta" (another re-recording from the demo of the same name").

"Blood Ritual" is another high-quality effort from a black metal band that had been around a lot longer than most at the time & showed a clear understanding of the key elements that make the genre so great. There's not a lot between Samael's first two full-lengths but I tend to find "Blood Ritual" just edging out its older sibling overall, buoyed by the impact of the wonderful "After the Sepulture" while "Worship Him" lacked such a transcendent highlight track. 1994 would see Samael topping both records with their career-defining "Ceremony of Opposites" third album but "Blood Ritual" is probably still my second favourite Samael record of the ones I've heard & it should be essential listening for anyone wanting to gain a comprehensive understanding of where the black metal genre came from.

4/5

5
Daniel

With evil slow riffing and vicious vocals by Vorph, this is a destructive highlight and perhaps the best song of Samael's black metal era:


114
Ben

Evilfeast is a solo project of Polish multi-instrumentalist Jakub Grzywacz, who goes by the pseudonym of GrimSpirit. The project has been going since 1996, when it was then known as Darkfeast (changing name in '98) so he has some credibility as a relatively early adopter of the atmospheric black metal creed and not just some random bandwagon-jumper. So, I thought I hadn't listened to Evilfeast before and when it was pointed out that indeed I had (thanks, Daniel!), I still had no great recollection of the event. Not exactly a ringing endorsement I think you will agree. However, it says more about my insatiable appetite for listening to more and more unfamiliar metal albums and a resulting lack of retention of any but the most excellent (or utterly terrible), than it does about the quality of the release in question. This is because Elegies of the Stellar Wind is, in fact, a pretty decent slab of black metal with a pronounced symphonic element influenced by none less than the mighty Emperor, I would suggest. Although the keyboards are fundamental to the album's sound, it still feels like it sits more within the sphere of atmospheric rather than symphonic black metal because, although the synth sound can be traced back to Ihsahn & co, it isn't as bombastic as the Black Wizards, but rather it feels like it is heralding the majesty of the natural world rather than the machinations and achievements of powerful men.

The black metal component is generally of the uptempo, quite savage-sounding, thinly-produced type that harks back to a previous black metal age and doesn't contain the lushness of more recent atmospheric black metal efforts, but that feels no less effective for it. I must admit I like it's quite raw black metal stylings, whilst the keyboards are incorporated effectively and even though they have a significant presence they still work well in tandem with the riffing. It never really attains the hypnotic transcendence that the absolute top-tier atmospheric black metal releases achieve and, in truth, it probably feels a little more down-to-earth as a result, but whilst these ham-fisted attempts at describing Evilfeast's sound make it feel like it won't work, it absolutely does, it's just that it's not exactly what you would necessarily expect.

I'm gonna stick with my old RYM score of 4/5

5
Ben

My first question has got to be "did Daniel really suggest the Equilibrium track?!" I mean, I quite dug it too, surprisingly (it felt very cinematic), but it seems most unlike him.

Quoted Sonny

It was a pretty lean month for me for The North releases so I thought I'd include it in the interest of diversity. It was probably the least offensive track from an album where I found nothing whatsoever that appealed to me.

2
Daniel


This old favourite has finally packed it in after being structurally weakened by the Queensland sun with both elbows having increasingly bigger holes in them. You can kinda see the fade lines where the clothes line sits too. Clothes lines are metal as fuck, aren't they?

3
Xephyr

It's been a while since I revisited the debut album from notorious one-man Californian black metal artist Odz Manouk but this feature release has been beautifully timed to come off the back of the very positive experience I had with Yagian's long-awaited 2023 sophomore album "Bosoragazan (Բոսորագազան)" which was one that went pretty close to dragging classic status outta me. "Odz Manouk" is generally considered to be a classic release for the genre in itself & it's certainly very solid but I'm not sure I'd go that far, despite it possessing some admirable qualities. An exceptionally cold & lo-fi production job is the cassette's main calling card & boy is it effective, giving the atmosphere an extra couple of layers of menace & spite. Yagian's vocals are the other highlight as he really nails that evil, tortured & abrasive style perfectly, particulary on the classic opener "A Mymex Omen" which is frankly one of the greatest examples of the genre you'll find. Unfortunately, Odz Manouk can't manage to repeat the dose across the other five songs included with the quality levels showing a bit of unwanted variety as the tracklisting progresses. The very popular "The Indisciplinarian" doesn't do a lot for me in all honesty & is the only genuine weak point in my opinion while closer "The Roaming" is merely acceptable. The other three tracks are all high-quality examples of their type though which makes "Odz Manouk" an essential listen for fans of the US black metal scene. The one element that I think could have been improved is the use of a fairly cheap sounding drum machine which is pretty obvious at times. I don't recall noticing it on "Bosoragazan (Բոսորագազան)" which I consider to be the better record overall. Still... there's a lot to like about Yagian's debut full-length & I've really enjoyed this return visit.

4/5

1
Ben

Yeah, I have to admit it was a quiet month for new North tracks. I agree that modern Inquisition seems to have lost some of what made it so enjoyable in the past. 

I corrected The Amenta track to be off Plague of Locus rather than Lord Kaos' Thorns of Impurity album, which of course the track was originally found on. The Lord Kaos album is now on Spotify too, which is a good thing. Daniel was mates with the guys in the band and I listened to that album a lot in the back end of the 90s.

2
Ben

The Frozen Dawn is awesome too - it's yet another from the masterful Mariusz Lewandowski, so it kind of goes without saying!

4
Sonny

Kostnatění - "Úpal" (2023)

Last year's sophomore album from one-man Minneapolis avant-garde black metal project Kostnatění is a really solid release & should probably come into these discussions somewhere. It's currently sitting solely in The North but it's very clear to me that it should have a dual clan allocation with The infinite as it's made an obvious attempt to sound as strange as possible with a Deathspell Omega influence being pretty obvious in the guitar work. It doesn't all work but the majority of the record is highly engaging, despite being more interesting & intriguing than it is traditionally enjoyable. I'm placing it just behind Odz Manouk's "Bosoragazan (Բոսորագազան)" & Panopticon's "The Rime of Memory".

4/5

11
Daniel

My gut feel from the limited exposure I've had to Medieval Folk Metal is that we may be best to at least rename it to Mittelalter-Metal or Medieval Metal, particularly given that RYM felt strongly enough to do so. It wouldn't take all that much effort as there's not that many releases. A deep dive is certainly required in order to determine if it's really best suited to being a) a subgenre of Folk Metal & b) a member of The North clan at some point.

15
Daniel

Aloha, resident non-hater of Folk Metal here.

What makes it hard is that there are very few Folk Metal releases nowadays that stand alone as a Folk release, rather than being bundled with a Black / Progressive main genre. In all of my 2023 listening, I think the only actual Folk Metal release was Skálmöld's Ydalir, which I liked but wasn't anything to write to MA about unless you're really craving some Viking Metal. There was that Kostnatění release, Úpal that used Folk elements as the backbone of its songwriting but not in a Folk Metal way, so that was another win for wonky Black Metal rather than Folk Metal. I'm just waiting for the new Moonsorrow album. That's coming out, right guys? Any day now. 


I'll be giving Sagas another run here today, as I remember it being very good but very long.

4
Daniel

A bit late, but I did comment on this album earlier on and I'm doing my rounds of catch up today here on the forums as well but wow what a release and I do appreciate the nomination of this one Daniel it definitely hit a spot I didn't know I needed. As I mentioned in the review, this is such a great album to sleep to for some reason the atmosphere is just so cozy.

3
Ben

Another top list this month, Ben. I don't know if it's because the winter is here and the music suits the mood so well, but the last couple have been very good indeed. In fact there wasn't a single track I could say I disliked. Sure there were a couple that were a bit more melodic than I prefer, but they were still fine in their own way. I'm with Vinny in thinking that Faidra track was a particular highlight. Deiphage, Ebony Pendant, Fork Of Horripilation, Glemsel and Auriferous Flame were fantastic too. And let's face it, any playlist with Mayhem, Emperor and Darkthrone is going to kick ass anyway. Nice work Ben and everybody who submitted their selections.

4