The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
First Post August 31, 2022 12:00 AM

Alright, it's time for our first North Review Draft. You can find out how the draft works by reading this General Chat thread.

The initial order for the North Review Draft will be...

1. Sonny

2. Vinny

3. Ben

4. Xephyr

The six albums to select from are... (drumroll)...

We await Sonny's first pick...

August 31, 2022 09:12 AM

Horna are a band I have seen mention of nearly everywhere but have never listened to, so I will take "Perimä vihassa ja verikostossa".

Over to you Vinny.

August 31, 2022 11:37 AM

Can't find Obskuritatem on any platform (least not that release) so I will go with Aylwin - The Arch Holder.

Over to you Ben.

The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
August 31, 2022 09:29 PM

This is an easy pick for me. I'm very fond of Lunar Aurora's later albums (particularly Andacht, which is excellent), but have never ventured back to their pre-2004 work. As soon as I saw the draft, I was hoping this would still be available for third pick. :yum:

Over to you Xephyr.

September 01, 2022 12:34 PM

I mean, who am I to refuse something like Author of Incest? I'm sure it'll be top quality, no way this'll backfire.

September 01, 2022 04:34 PM

Aylwin - The Arch Holder (2021)

I have listened through this release some three or four times now and I am still at the same level of understanding of it as I was after one listen. Aylwin play acceptable but unremarkable atmospheric bm, yet for some reason feel that showcasing this in one thirty-minute track is necessary to capture their sound. I am almost sure though that this track has three individual parts, so I am unclear as to why this all got put into one track.

Starting and ending with the sounds of waves hitting a shoreline (a sound which is revisited during the track also) simply pans out two-minutes of play time before they ever get to the opening riff. Although this start seems representative of the artwork that depicts some monolith-rock formation in the middle of a vast expanse of water it doesn’t really marry up with anything else. The brighter light of the artwork is carried through into the music I suppose as this is not particularly grim bm really.

It lacks quality that justifies the constant play of one track though. It never successfully combines the instrumentation and atmospherics into any triumphant pinnacle or peak. The nearest we get is a lull in the middle of the track when some melodic strings compliment the atmospheric ocean theme before we crash back into a soaring bm tremolo riff. Even as individual parts the instruments lack anything outstanding in the way that they are performed and so there is no real sense of cohesion, and these guys are not the tightest of players when it comes to being a collective. I find it hard to take The Arch Holder seriously as a release as it sounds like a rehearsal with some atmospherics thrown in for the hell of it.

There is no richness to the riffs, no subtlety to the transitions and the cavernous and gruff vocals just get lost in the maelstrom as opposed to underlining the emotion behind what is being performed. I sense that if I had four, thirty-minute slots of my life to dedicate to this in one sitting each then I might be more enamoured with it. However, without anything tangible to grasp as a high-point I struggle to see the need for such a lengthy release in all honesty. Just breakout the tracks guys.


September 02, 2022 12:06 PM

Horna -Perimä vihassa ja verikostossa EP {1999)

This is exactly what I was hoping for from this new game. Although I fully expected to have to deal with some dross, I was hoping that occasionally a previously undiscovered gem would rear it's head from out of Metal Academy's primordial ooze of releases and let it's presence be felt. Well Horna's 1999 EP Perimä vihassa ja verikostossa (which translates as Inherited Anger and Blood Revenge I am reliably informed by google translate) is just such a release which is pretty good going for a first try with The North.

This is basically good old-fashioned second wave black metal and Horna seem, at least on this release, to have been quite heavily influenced by early Emperor (minus the synths), to such an extent that third track, Pimeys yllä pyhän maan, contains a phrase during the middle section that seems to have been lifted straight from I Am the Black Wizards. For me, this kind of shit is why I love black metal, the riffs are molten with just enough melody to keep them relatable and the vocals are the suitably ragged shrieks of a tormented soul. Sure the modern trend is for BM to be saturated with dissonance and avant-garde stylings, but give me some straight-up, bad-ass, evil-sounding, old-school blasting any day of the week and I'm happy as a pig in shit. Then, to put the icing on the cake, Horna even manage to pander to my doom metal cravings by including a slab of creeping blackened doom metal in penultimate track Ghash inras. The EP closes out with the eight minute title track which is a bit of a minor black metal epic and provides a suitably impressive end to a thoroughly enjoyable half-an-hour of old-school black metal blasting. Look, this isn't anything like an original take on the genre so if you want to be challenged by your black metal then this isn't the place to look, but if you just want a decent half-hour blast then roll on up.

I didn't realise until just now that the main man in Horna is Shatraug, guitarist/vocalist/bassist of Sargeist. Also, it is uncanny how similar that cover is to Storm of the Light's Bane.

September 06, 2022 07:48 PM

Adorior - Author of Incest

I won't be able to do a full review right away, but I can at least make my outline and give a pretty detailed breakdown of this one.

I mostly chose this one as a joke to push myself out of my reviewing comfort zone and while that's still the case, Adorior are a bit more familiar than I originally thought. Despite being based in the UK, this group features one of the guitarists from Destroyer 666 and it’s very apparent from the riffing structure and overall production that band was a massive influence, since Destroyer’s two big albums came out a few years earlier. This makes their more extreme Blackened Thrash / almost War Metal style make a ton of sense given how close knit the Australian scene seems; these guys have a ton of different projects under their belt including Bestial Warlust, whose names I've heard tossed around a bit. I'm only familiar with Destroyer 666 but the high tempo aggression that I recognize from them is all too present in Author of Incest.

In addition the vocalist, who goes by Melissa, is one of the more surprising performances in this extreme Black Metal hybrid genre. Very cool to hear a woman step up to the plate, especially in an album like this. She's really trying hard to sell the evil atmosphere as much as possible and she's pretty successful at it, since this whole album legitimately makes me uncomfortable after a while. I'm sure that's a positive for people who are more into this kind of thing and while I want to spin it as such, I can't say it helps Adorior's case for me. The evil laughs, the spat out lyrics, and the varied sheiks and impromptu yells all work with what Author of Incest is trying to do, but it gets to be a bit much for me. 

This album is mostly trying to be as brutal and as shocking as possible, but not in a cheap or easy sort of way. It's a massive conglomeration of Black, Death, and Thrash ideas that come together in a shockingly technical style, but I think that's part of the reason it's bounced off of me a bit. The whole album is a huge burst of aggression, but certain tracks like "Birth of Disease" and "Vitriolic Megalomaniac" are over 8 minutes long and feel like they never want to end. Most of the songs on here are extended past where you'd expect and I feel like they're close to getting to that Tech Death zone where the length of the songs becomes a "feature", but the approach is so straightforwardly brutal that I'm entirely done listening to it after "To Split A Lamb". I'm still very impressed by the guitar work and overall production on this one though, it sounds absolutely massive and the Destroyer 666 guitarist basically never runs out of ferocious riffs and ideas to transition between. The scope and variety of the vocals help to keep the album moving and interesting too.

Overall I definitely didn’t hate this as much as I thought I would, I think it’s a hidden gem for people who like more aggressive, almost War-Metal stuff, but I can’t see myself going back to it and getting much more out of it than past two or three listens. I don’t think it’s that deep and the theatrics were getting old despite the performances and ideas being good. Just a bit too brutal for my fragile soul, I suppose.


September 06, 2022 09:44 PM

Well now you've piqued my interest Xephyr, so I will definitely have to give this one a blast tomorrow.

The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
September 16, 2022 02:14 AM

Lunar Aurora - Ars Moriendi (2001)

I was stoked when this Lunar Aurora album was still available for me to select in this month's Review Draft for The North. I'm a big fan of the band's later work, particularly 2007's Andacht, but had never managed to check out any of their discography prior to 2004. I'll say straight up that this doesn't sound like the band's later albums, which sit comfortably in the atmospheric black metal subgenre. This release is much more primal and raw, taking influence from numerous classic 90s black metal albums while forging a strong identity of its own. There's also a big symphonic aspect, to the point where I'm shocked no-one appears to consider Ars Moriendi to be a symphonic black metal release. Emperor is an obvious influence, and while the symphonics may not contribute to the whole album, they play a big role for much of it. There are lots of other sound effects that appear throughout too, such as wind, the howling of wolves and chimes, creating a wintry atmosphere that the majestic black metal riffs back up perfectly. I can also hear early Satyricon and particularly Abigor, putting this album into my absolute soft spot.

If you're at all like me, you like your black metal vocals to be really fucking evil sounding, and thankfully bassist Whyrhd really delivers on this front. Along with his fantastic, albeit traditional black metal shrieks, he at times sounds completely possessed, as though the demon from The Evil Dead escaped from the basement and joined a German black metal band. Add this manic performance to the top-notch riffs and intense drumming and you've got all the ingredients of a classic, but sadly it doesn't quite live up to that. There are just a couple of tracks that don't quite match up to the better parts of the album, and third track Kältetod inexplicably contains a pretty dodgy snare sound that I find really distracting. I can't fathom how this happened, but I have noticed that there are at least a couple of different mixes of the album available. Perhaps this track has a different mix, or maybe it was just recorded separately? I don't know, but it sadly stops me from giving Ars Moriendi the 4.5 stars that it otherwise deserves. Seriously, if you enjoy 90s black metal, and can handle some symphonics with your blastbeats, you should check this hidden gem out.

4 stars

The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
September 30, 2022 09:12 PM

Time for another Review Draft for The North. This month's pick order will be as follows...

1. Xephyr

2. Sonny

3. Vinny

4. Ben

The six releases to select from are... (drumroll)...

First pick goes to Xephyr...

October 01, 2022 12:48 AM

I recognize NONE of these. But the Mickey Mouse hand speaks to me. 

I'll take Akth Ganaheth, Crowned In Shadows.

October 01, 2022 06:19 AM

I think I will take the Behexen debut album. I am familiar with a couple of their later releases but haven't listened to their earlier stuff. Thought about the Hulder comp, but I am already pretty familiar with the material so ultimately passed on it.

October 01, 2022 07:03 AM

Spektr for me

October 03, 2022 06:03 PM

Behexen - Rituale Satanum (2000)

I first heard of Behexen via their 2012 Nightside Emanations album, but I didn't hear anything there that compelled me to check them out much beyond that. So I approached their debut hoping it would appeal to me a little more, but fearing that it probably wouldn't. Well those fears were quite unfounded because, fortunately, Rituale Satanum is right up my street. Despite not hitting the shelves until 2000, it channels the early releases of black metal's second wave to such an extent that I swear you can smell the odour of burning church pews whilst listening to it!

A quick glance at the cover and listening to the intro's exhortations to all manner of unholy demons, including old Lucifer himself, it is obvious that Behexen are a black metal outfit very much into the fundamental satanism of the genres roots. This fundamentalism manifests as a raw blastfest of withering black metal savagery and it positively seethes with hatred for all that is holy. It certainly isn't as lo-fi as you may expect, but it still encapsulates the feel of early nineties Scandinavian black metal authentically. Whilst the majority of tracks are high-tempo blasters, Behexen are not averse to occasionally slowing the pace on tracks like Baphomet's Call, to provide some contrast and break up the incessant battering with a riff or two that leans towards more traditional heavy metal riffing.

One of the album's big draws for me is the vocals of Hoath Torog whose unholy, throat-shredding screech is exceedingly effective and reminiscent of Ihsahn on the early Emperor material. In fact, the album as a whole suggests that Behexen had a lot of respect for the Norwegian Imperials, The Flames of the Blasphemer, which is the only track with a noticeable keyboard presence, is out and out Wrath of the Tyrant-era Emperor worship and I swear that Blessed Be the Darkness borrows a lot from I Am the Black Wizards. Despite the ferocity of the majority of the material on display here (and it it's best it is exceedingly raw and viscious-sounding), Behexen do have an ear for a good melody too. Tracks such as Christ Forever Die or Sota Valon Jumalaa vastaan in particular contain some really quite melodic riffs at one point or another. I am no authority on technical competency, but Behexen do seem to me to have a command of their instruments that not all raw-sounding black metal bands can boast. Drummer Horns sounds like an absolute beast as he commits all-out assault and battery on his kit with blastbeats from hell and guitarist Toni Kettunen (aka Gargantum) generates huge momentum with his vast arsenal of riffs.

I have had this on hard rotation for about three days now and every listen through excites me more than the last. Rituale Satanum is an album I am genuinely glad to have stumbled across and is exactly the sort of album that got me into black metal in the first place. Sure, if you want a challenging, genre-busting album of super-modern black metal experimentation then you are most definitely going to have to look elsewhere, but if you want a genuinely kick-ass reminder of black metal's roots then Behe"X"en marks the spot!

(4 inverted crosses out of 5)

The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
October 06, 2022 02:39 AM

I just realised I never picked my release for The North. I'll go with the oddly named Rejoice! The Light Has Come, if only because the only review on RYM namedrops Deathspell Omega.

October 06, 2022 10:40 AM

Spektr - Cypher (2013)

I am not averse to experimentation. Indeed, some of my favourite artists enjoy such status because they can push boundaries and invent new angles and perspectives on classic sounds that I have been familiar with from as far back as my formative years in metal in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Taking a relevant geographical reference for this review Blut Aus Nord are a successful French bm band who have continually incorporated more ambient yet also industrial sounds into their once very conventional atmo-bm sound. I actively seek vinyl copies of BAN records; such is the value I attribute to them.

Spektr are just mental by way of comparison. They appear to be billed as a bm band with industrial and ambient influence when the reality is that they are a confusing mishmash of all the above that gets jazz, down-tempo and a multitude of spoken word clips and samples thrown in to boot. They constantly use this bizarre, warped guitar riff (the same one, for nine tracks – barring the intro tracks) and use a stop/start arrangement to the album structure allowing shorter transitional pieces to introduce longer tracks. This gets disorientating, even without the “piled-on” nature of the track content that runs for anything up to 11 minutes in some instances.

They have drums on here apparently. I say “apparently” because I cannot hear them half the time. They struggle to successfully find purchase in most tracks and sound completely drowned in the mix and lost altogether on many occasions. This may well have been a conscious decision; I am not suggesting that this is due to accidental production quirks. The duo who recorded this want the guitar and horrific atmospheres to take centre stage, I get that. However, unlike with MoRT from the French icons BAN, there is no dissonance for me to track throughout Cypher. Granted that riff I mentioned makes a play for the benchmark element, but it does not quite carry the same hold as the haunting dissonance that BAN conjure.

The industrial vibes are also not that strong to my ears. I mean they are there most definitely, but I am not left feeling I have endured a punishing or all that taxing journey through the usual assorted clangs, clashes, and mining detail of an outright industrial-influenced record. I think this is due to the strong bass presence that seems to mute these harsher edges somewhat. The bass seems to be the most chilled element of proceedings following a more relaxed jazz vibe, again which maybe an intentional thing but it just creates too much of an opposite for the combination to work for me.

Now, note that at no point in this review have I called out Cypher as being a bad album. In fact, if I wanted some background music it works brilliantly; this most certainly is not an album to sit and listen to with nothing else going on at the time. It is a flawed album that lacks the maturity to balance conflicting elements correctly. In order to blend elements like this successfully you would need to be much more extreme than this and as such Cypher feels like an album that is pulling me in more than one direction as a result of it not being able to define its own direction.


The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
October 28, 2022 04:23 AM

Rejoice! The Light Has Come - Rejoice! The Light Has Come (2020)

I took a bit of a stab in the dark when picking this EP by oddly named U.S. band Rejoice! The Light Has Come in the October North Review Draft. The only review on RYM namedropped Deathspell Omega and, given my adoration for that band, I figured I'd have to find something to enjoy here. Well I'll start by saying that the aforementioned review certainly wasn't wrong. There's a LOT of Deathspell Omega influence on display here, with the same style of dissonant riffing and drumming we've come to expect from those French legends. The vocalist even sounds like Mikko Aspa, making the connection pretty blatantly obvious. I have to say that the band have done a pretty decent job in replicating what makes Deathspell Omega so interesting, particularly on the lengthier third track (Vultures Swirling Overhead, an Obsidian Wreath Cast Above a Sleeping Mind), but there are sadly a few aspects holding their first release back. Firstly, while the production is strong overall, the drums are a bit too clicky for my liking, drawing a little too much attention. Secondly, the band stop and start more than is necessary, building and releasing momentum too regularly in my opinion. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, there just isn't enough of substance on this 14 minute EP to really get your teeth into. There's definitely potential here though, and given the right production and a full length running time, Rejoice! The Light Has Come could produce something special. I guess time will tell.

3.5 stars

October 30, 2022 07:42 PM

I'll be getting around to reviewing Akth Ganaheth later today, but just in case my schedule falls through this is a very standard Black Metal release with a bit more Dungeon Synth than normal thrown in as full "interlude" tracks. It's mostly forgettable but not bad, the Black Metal sections are mostly run-of-the-mill but capable, and the Dungeon Synth elements break up the album but not exactly in a flowing way. They aren't incorporated as seamlessly as other, stronger albums with this tendency are, so it kind of just falls by the wayside. It scratches the itch of being another decent one-man Black Metal experience, but the choppiness of the album flow and overall generic feel of the whole thing made me decide it was a bit lower than average. 


October 31, 2022 03:03 AM

Gánahëth, Äkth Gánahëth

In many ways, obscure, one-person projects are the lifeblood of the Black Metal genre as talented and novice musicians alike can produce material that is faithful to the beginnings of the genre despite recording and performance shortcomings. Äkth Gánahëth is yet another one of those projects, this time hailing from Iceland and possessing a heavier Dungeon Synth background than most other projects. As the gripping album cover would suggest, Crowned In Shadows is a general-purpose Black Metal experience with cleaner and more modern production value. The lead guitars still have that nice Black Metal grind to them and there's a decent split between flurries of tremolo and more rhythmic, marching chugs that have a unique twang to them from the cleaner sounding lead guitar. That weird twang that shows up on "Brimstone and Ash" and especially "Crowned In Shadows" had me scratching my head, trying to figure out what it reminded me of, until I finally landed on the iconic guitar part of the James Bond main theme. I'm not entirely sure whether that's a positive or a negative in the context of a Black Metal album, so I'll just say it definitely got a chuckle out of me. The drums and vocals are suitably pushed back to create a balanced sound that is easier on the ears but will leave fans of more zealous Black Metal wanting a bit more. The vocals are about what you'd expect from any Black Metal act as well and add the rawness you'd expect from a project like this.

The main draw of Crowned In Shadows is the Dungeon Synth additions, with "The Gates of Hel", "The Night Spreads Her Wings", and "Journey Through the Desert of Ice" being instrumentals fully devoted to creating a creepy, Black Metal atmosphere. Each one uses generally lo-fi synths to set a base atmosphere and builds up from there, using distorted sounding piano or bell-like sounds to bring some sense of melody into the soundscape. These synths are also used sparingly in the backgrounds of the rest of the songs as well, allowing a more full sound that's less tinny or thin than other small Black Metal projects. As an album, though, Crowned In Shadow doesn't do a very strong job of marrying the Dungeon Synth elements with the Black Metal ones, with the 3 instrumentals creating a certain feel that isn't followed up on in any meaningful way. Despite the two styles being competent, there isn't a whole lot that jumps out at me throughout the album's short, half hour runtime. Hell, I'd even venture to say that the Dungeon Synth excursions are stronger and more memorable than the Black Metal tracks despite "Under the Spectral Full Moon" having a pretty epic sounding ending. 

This is a capable release in the solo Black Metal project realm, but doesn't have enough flow or remarkable passages for it to be something I can see myself coming back to. It all feels a bit choppy and while the cleaner guitar tone melodies and synth backings help to distinguish it, Crowned In Shadows doesn't do enough to completely sell me on it. 

Extremely upset with myself over that title, not gonna lie. 

The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
October 31, 2022 08:12 PM

Time for another Review Draft for The North. This month's pick order will be as follows...

1. Ben

2. Xephyr

3. Sonny

4. Vinny

The six releases to select from are... (drumroll)...


The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
October 31, 2022 08:18 PM

As it's my first pick this month, I'm going with Negativa's 03. I very much enjoyed 04, so I'm pretty happy to have an excuse to check out its predecessor.

Over to you Xephyr...

November 01, 2022 05:42 PM

Epitimia looks like the most interesting of the bunch for me, Sonny's next I believe.

November 01, 2022 06:05 PM

After Ben and Xephyr's choices, the fact I am familiar with the Khors and Departure Chandelier releases and I don't fancy an hour of Xasthur I will take the Decayed album and hope I don't regret it too much seeing as it has only a 2.7 average on RYM.