Blood Command
"Ghostclocks"
Fysisk Format
This album makes me want to drink and party! This album makes me love music. And this album fuse together great parts, complexity, simplicity, great melodies and energy in a way that has made my day ever since I got this one to play with. The female vocals are great, being both angry and more normal female vocals, greatly shown in the wicked “Party all the Way to the Hospital”. The guitars produce numerous great moments throughout this album, and the powerful and clear production is perfect! It´s Rock, Punk, Pop, Metal and what have you, melted together into an energetic album; a great debut, to put it mildly. And they are awesome at writing tunes that are catchy as tits and still have parts to really study and melt into. Breaks that are wonderful and alone worth a repeat. Each of these 10 tracks have their own trademark, and the highlights are present in every one of them. My fave, the last one on the album, “Every exception has it´s rule” is a monster of a song. I cannot avoid being marveled at the sheer wonderful music that this one consist of. The cool guitars that is like a warm up to the remaining delicate and catchy parts coming in numbers, composed with utter brilliance. And this song pretty much sum up this great band and album; it´s lightly complex, catchy, energetic and delicate! Lilly

                

Antares Predator
"Twilight of the Apocalypse"
Battlegod Productions
This album is a mix of Thrash, Black and Death that should have stayed in the oven. This is not tasteful music and the lack of vitamins and minerals are obvious. The music is not unimaginative, there are parts that tries to be both technical and progressive, but too often the band aim for something that is beyond their capabilities. The structure of the songs does not feel streamlined, but problem number one is, yet again, the number of low level riffs which infects and fucks the songs. It’s boring, it’s bad, it’s just plain broken. At worst the music is not just boring, but annoying. A few moments, like the guitars in parts of “As Dragons Roam…” are interesting enough, but gets buried in the barrage of boring riffs that drips like slime from the loudspeakers. Yes, there is a certain degree of intensity and punch in the songs, but it’s the equivalent of football violence: brutality without purpose or direction. The title of song number three sums up the album as a whole: “Wastelands”. ThomasF

                

Ares Kingdom
"Incendiary"
Nuclear War Now! Productions
Ares Kingdom will not knock you out with killer riffs or Metal that sounds avantgarde. This is traditional Metal, so traditional it sounds ultra uninspiring actually. The riffs are mediocre, the songs are way too long and the amount of filler stuff is beyond my ability to comprehend. They surf on the well known wave of tradition and nothing here is unique or worthy of praise. And when the guitar “intro” to “Consigned to the Ages” last for an eternity, I simply conclude that Ares Kingdom does not possess any ingredients I want to experience in my Metal. They simply have no tops in their music, no highlights or kick ass details that I want to return to and experience over and over again. It´s really just plain, vanilla and without a heartbeat. Worthless

                

Atrocity
"Let the War Rage"
Mad Lion Records
Intolerance; ain´t it just fantastic! The feeling of intense hatred towards someone or something. Rob, an ugly idiot looking asslicker and vocalist in this band state in the booklet; “Fuck Blackmetal. Fuck Satan”. Intolerant mongo! And it comes as no surprise… he states the following as a “thank you” to “The Lord Jesus Christ for dying for me on the cross”. Intolerance is met with intolerance. Rob, I hope you die on the cross too. This is not the German Atrocity, just an insignificant Atrocity. Worthless

                

Avsky
"Scorn"
Moribund Records
The third album from Sweden´s Avsky is taking us into a Black Metal sound and surroundings, but with more to it than just that. The charmingly uninviting vocals are narrowing this down to conservative Black Metal, and the production too intend to lead us to a conclusion like this. But the riffs and some of the harmonies on this album open up a sphere that remove the one dimensional approach and make two hands go together in something close to a good match. At times it does sound a bit awkward, especially when the riffs are having a different atmosphere than the rest of the music. With this I mean riffs that are so basic it almost feels a bit too basic, and this limit their expression to a certain extent. I would have liked to see them remove their most simple and mediocre riffs and instead replace them with riffs that are great. But apart from this, Avsky manage to fuse together their very own rotten Black Metal style with some groovy riffs, some simplistic riffs and some eerie riffs. The end result is a good album that has potential for growth with repeated listening session. J. Loon

                

Bak De Syv Fjell
"Bak De Syv Fjell"
Frostscald Records
The name of this Norwegian band means “behind the seven mountains”. Yes, they’re from the home town of Gorgoroth, Immortal and Burzum. Musically Bak De Syv Fjell are quite different from the aforementioned bands. This is folk song and fairytale-like Metal, melodic and nordic. This re-release of their 7” EP from 97 is promising, but shows a young and unfinished band. The band succeeds in creating dreamlike pictures – castles in a country far away, fairytales from a dark and distant past. The melodies are both catchy and atmospheric. However, this is also recorded at a very early stage in their career and the production is a bit too simple for this kind of music. ThomasF

                

Belphegor
"Walpurgis Rites – Hexenwahn"
Nuclear Blast Records
With their eighth studio album, the machinery of Death known as Belphegor have set their sails on auto-pilot, and deliver an album as expected. It´s like Cannibal Corpse in a way, you know you're not in for a surprise, but at least you are served what you bargained for: a lethal and intense dose of Death Metal. If that´s all you desire in music, the intensity Belphegor bring forth will please you. If you want a little more, this is kind of disappointing. They haven´t come up with something unpredictable, except for “Der Geistertreiber”, which sounds a lot like something Rammstein could have done anyway, so, in other words: not really interesting. The guitars have a tendency to come up with nice, but not really killer riffs. It sounds much too kind, as if the rough image they have is not transported into the music itself. Well, an ok album, really, but quickly forgotten. Worthless

                

Bleeding Fist
"Bestial Kruzifix666ion"
Moribund Records
From the cemeteries of eastern Europe, this time Slovenia, comes another blackened band. Bleeding Fist hates synths, melodies and any emotions softer than hatred –“Our music is filled with hate, blasphemy, revenge and we will fight to be the last man standing”. Yes, it’s old school Black Metal. But no, it’s not good. The band have failed to compose anything better than average. Riff by riff, this album is ordinary, there is hardly a moment that stand out as well composed or memorable. Fifteen years ago they might have gotten away with it. Or maybe not, there were even more incompetent bands then. At least there were more boring bands that were also “true evil”. Nowadays they’re just boring. But while this album is not particularly good in itself, Bleeding Fist compensate with sheer, hellish rage. The recording is furious and hateful. Bleeding Fist have spiced up the songs with what sounds like genuine malice and destruction. It’s amazing how the band manage to make even the most boring riffs sound angry. ThomasF

                

Blood Cult
"We are the Cult of the Plains"
Moribund Records
It often takes some courage, some experimentation and some failure to reach something really great! This could be something to have in mind if you ever find yourself about to play this album. Musically it´s a ten-faced weird creature of sorts, all biting in different directions. Blood Cult have not spent a fortune in the studio to get a crystal clear sound, that´s for sure. This, their second full length album, has a rough and raw sound to it, something that I personally find limiting their music. But then again, this is primitive and plain, and details drown in the rough sound. There´s a lot of potential in what they are trying to achieve. And I say trying, ´cos this isn´t worth many spins really. There´s too much mediocre stuff here. Too many dull riffs and a lack of creativity, despite daring to mix a lot of styles into their Metal. It feels more like a jamming session than a real album. But perhaps that just indicate that these guys care little for bringing this band to perfection and having great ambitions. Yeah, I think so. Scum

                

Bloody Panda
"Summon"
Profound Lore Records
I think most of us would consider the sight of a bloody panda to be both disturbing and frightening. In that aspect, the name of this weird band is fully descriptive of the music they perform. We´re brought into the Doom genre, but not in a conservative form. Bloody Panda are experimental and eerie. The vocals of multi-artist Yoshiko Ohara, who has illustrated the booklet, are mysterious and add a unique and surreal touch to the music. Perhaps Doom Metal Horror is quite an accurate definition of this band. They have a very unique formula at hand and they shape it with a fundamental precision. It’s not music for the masses. The complexity of their lurking expressions and nightmarish tones are for the connoisseurs of experimental music. J. Loon

                

Bohren & Der Club of Gore
"Dolores"
Ipecac
Picture yourself in a candle lit room. You’re in a state of dreamlike unconsciousness. Through a window you see a dark foggy city. In the urbane surroundings, sparkling street lights lit up the night. The city holds many secrets - secrets fatal to be revealed. In this room sounds embrace you and maintain your horrific state. The music of the night is performed by Bohren & Der Club of Gore. The German instrumental horror-jazz-ensemble have kept it going since 1988, have released six albums, and always have been exploring the art of balancing music between the eerily threatening and the mysteriously beautiful. Followers have experienced the band’s different phases - from the guitar-based beginning through slow saxophone Jazz, to droning pitched-down-to-the-ground-sounds. The persistent developments have made Bohren a strong outfit with a great deal of self-confidence. At this stage I feel the Germans have peeked over their shoulders to recap some of the vibes from earlier recordings, which means the sluggish pulse has been injected with more vitality. “Dolores” is in a way a presentation of what Bohren was, is, and will be in the future. It contains all of the familiar sounds, but the necessary step forward lies in some shorter and slinkier numbers that can be described as bar-jazz with a pleasant outcome. However, the darkness is thick and the dreamy atmosphere is intact. The resemblance to Angelo Badalamenti´s “Twin Peaks” era (only darker) is definitely present. I still feel that no music in this world can do what Bohren does to you mentally. Expect your mind drifting and the foggy urbane surroundings will emerge. Luna

                

Crucifist
"Demon Haunted World"
Profound Lore Records
Looking back in time might be much more interesting than taking a step forward and shaping the future for what is to come. Or you simply find the expression that used to be, and cling on to that even though decades have passed since. Crucifist goes old school and stick their tongues out to what´s happened after 1990. Ugly and raw; tradition is brought forward in a convincing way. But, unless you’re a diehard follower of the 80s style of Metal, this isn’t going to do anything for you. And, in a way, that is also the problem with this album. They do have some killer riffs and parts, but the tradition they recapture kind of limits it all. With so much cool material, I am left curious as to how it would have sounded had they dared to be a band that transformed this style into something very unique, or weird. It all stops at 1989, and after all that´s not too interesting, or is it? Scum

                

Divine Eve
"Vengeful and Obstinate"
Ibex Moon Records
Texan extremist metal on this 17 minute EP. But no, it’s not Death Metal, this has got nothing whatsoever to do with Scott Burns or Chris Barnes. Divine Eve is a veteran band, formed in 92. They’ve been signed to both Relapse and Nuclear Blast, but are now relegated to obscure Ibex Moon. But if they continue to play like they did in this match they will surely gain promotion. The band mention Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Venom and others as inspiration and this is a welcome resurrection of the past, even if Divine Eve also have an individual touch. Black Metallic mid tempo songs in a dirty and unpolished production. The sound is well known, yet interesting enough. Absolutely not catchy, but throbbing songs and doomsday riffs in a sinister and filthy atmosphere. The siren-like sound in “The Ravages of Heathen Men” for example is a well made moment. Heavy music, but the band could have made it yet more heavier and doomy than they do. The songs are yet not on a premier league level, but more than acceptable for listeners who are attracted to dirtiness and filth. Even if the Hieronymus Bosch-like cover don’t reflect the music. It’s too nice, for both the music and Hieronymus himself. ThomasF

                

Dodsferd / Mortovatis
"Until Your World Go Down"
Moribund Records
A new release from Greek Dodsferd. Not much time has passed since the excellent “Suicide and Your Kind Will Follow”, so another album from this metalmachine was more than welcome. This album has been described as “His bleakest and most desolate vision yet… Absolute desolation and bleak suicidal Black Metal.” Yes, this is the real thing, this is BLACK Metal. Greece is most known for Rotting Christ, Varathron and Necromantia. Dodsferd is something else however. Much more machinelike and alienated. Dodsferd´s main man Wrath has got more in common with Godflesh than Rotting Christ, both musically and spiritually. “I have no feelings for the world.” Last year´s album “Suicide…” was a mechanic and merciless vision of a world liberated of any kind of life, inhuman and mechanic, a fascinating album. This time though, Dodsferd have gone in another direction. The numbing repetitions which worked so well have been replaced with a more ordinary approach. There are some razor-sharp riffs here, but the songs, however unmelodic, have a more traditional structure. If anything they’re more rock than Black Metal, and lack the hypnotising feeling Wrath is capable of creating. The album contains two new songs + “You Called it Resurrection…” in a live version. That one is about useless. Not the song but the sound. It’s not even bootleg quality, more like a failed bootleg recording. What’s the point? Technically this album is a split, but the other band, Mortovatis, is Wrath´s new project, presented here with a song lasting for 20 minutes. And that was more like it. This was so much more like Dodsferd´s previous sound with mechanic, desolate repetitions. Still, the “screeching” sound gets annoying after a while. It’s like Wrath was so pleased with his previous album that he felt that more sounds and elements would make it even better. It did not. This is a brilliant example of why less is often more. But still “No feelings for the world.” ThomasF

                

Dråpsnatt
"I Denna Skog"
Frostscald Records
It´s the debut album and a debut album that goes in a controlled variety of directions, but they manage to make the album feel whole and thought through. According to Metal-archives.com they have recorded a couple of albums prior to this, but never released anything until now. They kick off the record with the title track that is up-tempo and with a great groove and excellent vocals. Simple, but oh so effective. If you ask me, this is the best track on the album. But 90 seconds into the song, something changes and the whole aura of the music goes from groove to atmosphere, and then back to the groove and filth again, as if returning to the start in a good compositional style. These two guys are good at creating variety and motion, even though not all of these 9 songs are of the same level as the title track. The next one is in the Black Metal vein, with a middle part of calm synth and clear vocals. They also have some Folk tunes and clear vocals incorporated into the music, though I would say most of this is Black Metal with screamy vocals. And basically, the album is easy to get into, and as far from a one-dimensional album as you can get, with harmonies replacing the grim Black Metal, and vice versa. Unholy

                




Eryn Non Dae
"Hydra Lernaïa"
Metal Blade Records
Mix up The Dillinger Espace Plan with Meshuggah and Red Harvest, and that should give you a really good clue about the musical direction this French band is heading down on their debut album. Intensity merged with complexity, and the end result is pretty damn fine. The wall of sound is grand, but they add substance in great riffs and guitars hovering over the sound. And going from the intense parts to the more delicate and careful ones is no problem for this band, it feels equally natural. 9 songs divided into 55 minutes is a trip well worth the time. Lilly

                

Exhale
"Blind"
Dark Balance Records
This album will knock out any device capable of measuring intensity and energy in music. Exhale, a vibrant Grindcore band from Sweden have delivered their second album, and what an adrenalin rush of an album this is! The speed, intensity and energy is out of this world raw and precise. They mathematically add cool riffs into their bowl of musical massacre, some nice samples that create a much needed break, as this is really intense music! While many bands within the Grindcore genre become a tad too monotonous for my taste, Exhale impress me with a great amount of really awesome riffs that are fused into this extreme album with ease, and the ride is not only running me over, but I find myself getting back up and wanting more. Perhaps it´s one of those albums that make me go: “What was that?” Exhale is synonymous with intensity. Patronizer

                

Exodus
"Exhibit B: The Human Condition"
Nuclear Blast Records
I don´t expect much from bands that have been around since the 80s, men that are starting to get old, and men that cannot have the same youthful urge to create absolutely fantastic music. And men that think guitar solos are great in Metal is as sexy as girls playing soccer. Exodus reached their creative peak in the 80s, and for reasons that I am not able to understand, have come back and recorded their fourth album this decade. This album is exactly what you could expect from a band like Exodus. The Thrash sounds mature and well composed, the riffs are fine but not awesome, and yeah; the guitar solos are massively “macho”. Not! This album is nicely balanced, but in my opinion too neutral to really make me enthusiastic. Exodus are delivering Thrash Metal that is predictable and solid. Well composed without the details necessary to make it great. And traditional to the point of being just what you could expect from Exodus in 2010. Lilly

                

Fortid
"Voluspa Part III: Fall of the Ages"
Schwarzdorn Productions
Fascinating music from fascinating countries. Fortid was born in Iceland in 2oo2, but after two albums Einar Thorberg, the heart and soul of the band, moved to the heartland of Black Metal and completed the band with Norwegian and British members. This is the final part of an Icelandic trilogy with the aim of honouring the island´s past, and both effort and emotions have been put into the music. Traditional Black Metal is mixed with atmospheric and epic parts. The Blackened parts feels Windir inspired and are well structured with interesting riffs, even if it’s not exactly ground breaking. But boundaries in genres break apart whenever Fortid descends slow and dreamlike parts. They are quite simple in themselves, but the effect is gooseflesh-like. This music is a gallery of mindpictures: black mountains under cold-blue skies, a full moon shining and ravens flying in icing winter. A sound of soul and heart begun in Iceland and ended in Norway where the music belonged, where it longed to be. The Black Metal parts are maybe a bit too standard, but whenever the drifting, enigmatic parts unfurls dreams of nordic visions descends. For those capable of hearing. ThomasF

                


Hands
"The Sounds of Earth"
Oort Records
Wow! This is the most beautiful album I´ve listened to in ages. The warmth and the atmosphere that lie lurking within the wonderful music touched something in me. It’s so sincere and so naked. The emotional and varied vocals are superb; ranging from careful normal singing to Hardcore yelling. The guitars, the atmosphere, and melodies that come from them...fantastic! Just fantastic! Hands compose their songs with their hearts, obviously, and the result mirrors that. You cannot play music this way unless you really feel it, and that shows in every track. The drums are also a highlight here: such perfection. This is a seldom experience. The closest comparison I can come up with is Isis, but this is much more than that. But if you like Isis, I am sure you will love this! Lilly

                



Horned Almighty
"Contaminating the Divine"
Art of Propaganda
3 years have passed since “The Devil´s Music” was released, and these Danish gentlemen have used this time well to create yet another album that is covered in a dirty atmosphere combined with catchy and entertaining groove. The vocals are harsh and rude, underlining the message in the lyrics to its full extent. Horned Almighty have a nearly genuine ability to enrich their songs with a groove that turns out to be seriously catchy. A good example is “Contaminating the Divine”, heavy with a structure that makes Rock `n` Roll a phrase to remember. And that´s the great thing with this band, the essence they share with the Black Metal that is manifested topped off with this outrageously awesome groove. And even though I find this album to be great, this is a band that still haven´t maximised their potential which I hope they will explore further on their next album. Andre P.

                

Immolation
"Majesty and Decay"
Nuclear Blast Records
Immolation have stayed loyal to their very own trademark sound for well over two decades now. The structure is obvious and given in advance, yet they are successful at being creative within their strict musical structures. Each of their albums have grown on me, often taken me both patience and time to let it settle and grow. And, especially, the term ‘grow’ is a fundament I am personally attracted to when it comes to the dark and quite complex Death Metal Immolation perform. This new one is no exception; it has tremendous potential for growth, depending on what criteria you have to music, of course; whether you are able to ignore the majority of their unnecessary guitar solos or not. On this album there’s definitely an overkill, a fetish that limits their music rather than enrich it. Killer and suggestive Death Metal that is played with authoritative feeling does not need long guitar solos. The only effect they have is to be annoying. But, that aside, Immolation impress me. They seem hungry and on the hunt for something unique. They manage that well: a plethora of really awesome disharmonic guitar riffs, music melts together in harmony and is super catchy and groovy. And the drums, courtesy of Steve Shalaty who is brilliant at mixing this style together with innovation and some awkward yet ultimate tempos. Take “The Rapture of Ghosts” as an excellent example on this album - the killer opening riff and listen to the drums, they´re just fantastic! The song builds further with layers of guitars and a composition that is outstanding. Great variation and a heavy as hell wall of sound. The guitar solos kind of limit this song from growing to unknown dimension. But still I say thumbs up to this new Immolation album. Patronizer

                

Impetuous Ritual
"Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence"
Profound Lore Records
There must be a virus loose in Brisbane This new act, featuring two members of Portal, is somewhere in the direction of Portal´s sick and twisted Death Metal. This album is extremely dark and pretty scary compared to many of the more atypical Death Metal releases out there. Following their own rules, this album re-creates some of the late 80s underground vibe. There´s a sick, fucked up aura surrounding the music. The vocals are insane, really portraying a band that is not off on a quest to attract a crossover crowd - this is for the worshippers of unorthodox Death Metal. While you can find similarities with Portal in the pitch black abysmal sound and the atmosphere that is not common within today´s mainstream Death Metal genre, there´s a much clearer structure in this band if compared to Portal. Though if comparing this album with a catchy Death Metal album, this will come across as violent and weird in its unorthodox rhythms. As for catchy parts, well, this is more insane than catchy. Andre P.

                

Isis
"Wavering Radiant"
Conspiracy Records
With their fifth full length album, Isis make sure that the energy and creativity within the band is as strong as on their earlier albums. Much to my delight, this time the Post-Rock elements become more present, which just proves that the band have their sight on the future, not the past. Still, the fundament of their sound is the ambience that most of their songs reach out for. The guitars help in building elegant melodies and, of course, the vocals of Aaron Turner: harsh screaming to normal singing, his voice well adjusted to the instruments, fuses it all together as one. There are interesting contrasts in the music that enable it to develop and shake off any tendencies for stagnant parts. And, as the world of music becomes more and more a melting pot of styles and expressions, I think Isis with this little masterpiece of an album will turn heads and attract some more believers. And to make sure to fully experience all of this, headphones will make the album complete. Andre P.

                

Kailash
"Past Changing Fast"
Frostscald Records
Avant-garde (Black?) Metal (?) from this Italian band, but unfortunately a lot of things goes wrong pretty soon. It’s labelled Black Metal by the record company, but it’s far too nice and gutless to be considered Black. It’s hardly even Metal. Worse, it’s boring. That’s because the music is performed in the same endless mid tempo which never really speeds up, and contain almost no heaviness either. Wormless, gutless music. It’s something that could’ve been played in a church –“And after my sermon “What Would Jesus Do?” Kailash will play some hymns before we start praying.” The whole album is instrumental which does not help at all. The songs screams for added elements. Some changes in the tempo, something unexpected and heavy. But njet, from the first moment to the last it’s the same sound, the same endless shit. The album finish with a cover of Ved Buens Ende which may be a few percent better than rest of the album. Or maybe not. The song ends with church bells which says something about this band that is not good. ThomasF

                

Kerasphorus
"Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn"
Nuclear War Now! Productions
This is what happens when you gather members with a background from bands like Angel Corpse, Revenge, Conqueror and Morbosidad. Nothing short of a chaotic and intense 4 track CD. Pete Helmkamp continues to explore the unlimited fields of Metal that is covered in chaos and war, though with just enough structure to make this triumphant. I am not a fan of this overly chaotic style of Metal that rely more on intensity than details, but Kerasphorus have some brilliant riffs that create some space for air. Each of these four tracks open with a great riff, before relentlessly being absorbed by the intensity that Kerasphorus is all about. Andre P.

                

Lifelover
"Pulver / Dekadens"
Osmose Productions
I’ve been aware of this band for a while, but it wasn´t until Osmose picked them up that I was introduced to their music. And wow! Don´t know how many times I repeated that word, but the word was definitely wow! And, after so many in-depth listening sessions, it still is. With headphones and without. Loud and not so loud. Lifelover have come up with something seriously catchy and, at the same time, seriously new. Their fine combination of heartbroken screams, wounded melodies, and mental discomfort is just wonderful and fresh. Perhaps we could cut it down to Lifelover being depressive pop meets Black Metal. Sure, it holds a touch of truth, but it´s really a lot more too, of course. There’s a childlike naivety as well as something beyond human psychology. Music composed with a playful mind, yet their experiences as human beings leave a serious mark on the music. Take “M/S Salmonella”, one of many catchy songs; how they let the melody build by adding new instruments to the super catchy piano and guitars, it´s really overwhelming. And the vocals - super perfect! The guitars are wonderful, and, pick your ear for the drums; they add a marvellous full scale picture to the sound. I could go on for ages taking both albums apart and harvest each detail of sonic scars. Now it´s up to you; go on, it´s a crossover band that could appeal to the whole world. Scum

                

Ludicra
"The Tenant"
Profound Lore Records
Both the label and Metal Archives describe this as Black Metal. I couldn´t agree less. There´s actually nothing about this that I would say is Black Metal. But I can agree on one thing; they´re from the US. And allow me to add; this album is not a typical one. Ludicra head off down the field where the grass is high, and seem perfectly satisfied with the fact that they stray away from the herd. And therefore, the tag Black Metal is both puzzling and totally out of track with reality. “The Tenant”, their fourth full-length album, has riffs that are more similar to a band like Isis than Black Metal, more similar vocal parts to Hardcore (for instance) than to Black Metal and a more artistically free atmosphere than what is to be found within the (now meaningless) genre Black Metal. There´s a lot of alternative Rock structures within the music, and the screamy vocals of Laurie Sue Shanaman further underlines their lack of any genre affiliation. An album for the seekers of unique music that basically transcends the predictable and explore the unknown. Worthless

                

Meshuggah
"Alive"
Nuclear Blast Records
Well, how interesting could a live album actually be? Meshuggah have toured the world with their one-of-a-kind Metal for years, gaining a strong reputation as a great live band. And, without compromising their expression they have explored their field further with albums that have succeeded in bringing them up to a great commercial level. This double disc contains a DVD with more than 100 minutes of coverage from their 2008/2009 tour filmed in the US, Japan, and Canada. I haven´t seen the DVD. The material I have at hand is the CD, compiled with 12 songs from the same tour. The variety of the songs they´ve picked out is good, and I´ve enjoyed this one quite a bit. A good substitution for not having seen them live for a good while, Meshuggah definitely kick some serious ass live, and that with keeping their credibility intact. Worthless

                

Midvinter
"At the Sight of the Apocalypse Dragon"
Frostscald Records
Swedish blackness heats up on this album. This is their first and only album, from 97, re-released now. The band broke up right after that, and have also recorded an album and an EP which was never released. This is fairly old school Black Metal performed in mid tempo. Viewed as a debut this is not bad, but neither does it stand out in any way either. The songs are structured well enough, with an extra touch of heaviness every now and then. The sound gets predictable pretty soon, but the riffs are good enough to keep the attention for a lot of the time. A few interludes gives breathing space too, and were the only moments that came close to being unexpected. However, time has moved on since 97 and unlike wine, music generally don’t get better with time. One have heard this about a three digit number of times before, even if Midvinter are better than many. The main problem is that the album lasts more than an hour. After twelve years the band should have had enough distance to their music to see this themselves and given at least 20 minutes to the sword. Not without its moments, but time has slipped away from Midvinter in more ways than one. ThomasF

                

Nefandus
"Death Holy Death"
Left Light Emanations
Once in a while an album emerges basically out of nowhere and makes the day perfect. Nefandus have been absent for well over a decade, and with the return of Ofermod, so came the return of this band, too. I am not unfamiliar with Nefandus, but I did not expect to be this delightfully surprised. And captured. If I may draw a line to Dissection and their “Fear the return...”, expectations were way higher than what the album managed to deliver. With “Death Holy Death” the situation is completely different. Except for “Behind the Red Lotus”, that very well has the melody-feeling Dissection had back before they went into hiatus there are not many relevant aspects leading the mind to Dissection. This album - and what an album! - is confidently standing tall, balanced on its own weight. I would say it contains all ingredients I enjoy in an album. It´s dead serious; it´s catchy while maintaining power and it has a certain diabolical feel; the riffs are cool and the music is put together in a way that maintains the pace and shifting aura of the music. The vocals are varied and really good. There´s a will present, a much deeper vibe contained within the tunes, and variation going hand in hand with structure. And, the religious aspect - the orthodox side - you might ask; well, song writer Belfagor excludes no one. A perfect match between blackened Metal, catchiness, awesome songs, variation, and it kicks off immediately. And, if you want, you can definitely dig deeper into the lyrics. A great album! Worthless

                

Oracle of the Void
"Further Steps to a Perfect World"
Obsidian Records
After eighteen years of existence Oracle release their debut album. Seems like they were a promising and upcoming band in Australia in the mid nineties before the brains and balls behind the music Gamaliel withdrew completely for reasons unknown. Now he is back with an album built on a decade of writing. He has used the time well when it comes to composing, but may have listened a bit too much to Dark Funeral. This album is hyper traditional: riff upon riff, basic and naked. Simple and repetitive songs with controlled brutality, and heaviness substituted for speed. But the lack of originality is compensated by intensity and at times hammering riffs. No information is given about their values, believes or lack thereof, but Oracle sounds genuine and real. The music is intense and fast, and for all its simpleness the riffs are absolutely beyond average, veiled in a nice, dark feel. It’s rare to hear a debut album made by a band which already has reached its top level musically. The songs range from average to good to sometimes excellent. More unexpected turns and interludes would have helped, but all in all a satisfactory debut with just the right touch of darkness. ThomasF

                

Ov Hell vs. Gorgoroth
"The Underworld Regime” / “Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt"
Indie Recordings / Regain Records
A fully packed stadium gives both Ov Hell and Gorgoroth massive attention, and, even though quite a few followers are more than pleased just being fans, cheering their favourites on no matter how bad they might perform, of course, they have to do their absolute best to meet with the expectations. Let´s hope both sides deliver a season´s best performance - the solid income from this match cannot be the only reward. Home pitch advantage to Ov Hell, as Gorgoroth have a stronger name and reputation. And it was obvious that Gorgoroth got an early goal due to the court case that secured Infernus the rights to his own band and name. Well deserved, taking the circumstances into consideration. King ov Hell moved on; the end result that should have been the new Gorgoroth album became a new band. Both teams have players that normally play for other teams, but well known and respected musicians could very well become players of the day, or, hopefully, score a goal or two just relying on their own qualifications and talents. Unfortunately, it doesn´t seem like this one´s going to be a match to remember. Ov Hell seem more than pleased to deliver a game that is predictable and Gorgoroth attack their opponents with washed out riffs that are below par. The first real tackle comes from Shagrath who thoroughly makes sure that his vocals secure Pest a tough landing on his toosh and Shagrath equalises with a nice, but not awesome, goal. 1-1. Gorgoroth, playing in black shirts and looking grim, are friendlier than one could assume but they are not really aggressive in their attacks and even their goalkeeper seems to take life easy. Despite not coming up with more than basic technique in the riffs, Ov Hell are in a class of their own this night. Gorgoroth are predictable and lame, Ov Hell average but this is more than enough for yet another quick goal from the home team. 2-1. First half ends, and we all know that both teams have to improve their skills and come up with something unexpected and with a little innovation to get the crowd going. Despite a sleepy first half, one of the reporters covering this match stated that Gorgoroth´s performance was of imminent classic proportions. Some of the crowd had fallen asleep, others, most of them wearing colourful shirts, were enthusiastic. A group of fundamental followers were booing loudly. The second half seemed to take forever. Ov Hell were playing football on autopilot, doing mostly what other teams have done before without having a will present to create something to remember. Gorgoroth didn´t play football, even though they claimed they were. They even scored an own goal at the end with a bunch of riffs that were so fundamentally bad that those awake just laughed for a while. End result, 3-1. Both teams shook hands and agreed that this was only a game; the rest of us nodded and agreed it would soon be forgotten. Unholy

                

Pitbull Terrorist
"C.I.A."
Anstalt Records
Slap my ass! What a killer; sick and innovative Death Metal album this is. C.I.A. (Contraband International Audio) are showcasing a band that has knowledge about the traditions of the genre, yet, at the same time, not being too interested in following the predictable patterns laid down by others. The intense music, the catchiness, and an awesome energy make a super cool and enjoyable up-tempo unorthodox Death Metal-offering. Fronted by a masked female puking her guts out while being surrounded by three masked male musicians, the maggots have come alive, and, be sure, you haven´t heard anything exactly like this before. Aggression melts together with a catchy chaotic mess, but it´s masterfully tight and composed with joy and confidence! Lilly

                

Portal
"Swarth"
Profound Lore Records
Damn, the intensity of this album is a magnet that absorbs all energy present. Damn. An exhausting contemporary Death Metal album beyond comparison. Portal´s use of guitars works in mysterious ways. The structures in the music are so off the wall you´ll need to give it time and many spins to let it all settle and manifest itself. Following in the same sonic weirdness as their two previous albums, Portal extract melodies and aggression from the core, replace it with small hints of riffs and music that is out of rhythm. The result is something very unique and quite difficult to get into. While they belong to the Death Metal genre, I would say that there´s quite a big chance that if you´re into Cannibal Corpse or Behemoth you won´t find Portal of interest. They are not catchy, the sound is extremely abysmal and dark and the whole atmosphere of this record is eerie, surreal and obscure. If you´re open to the experimental and weird, and if you like your music expressively dark, this one ought to be given a chance. Andre P.

                

Shining
"Shining VI – Klagopsalmer"
Osmose Productions
Shining have really grown into a fundamentally stable and strong outlet of quality. This, the sixth album (obviously), just tightens the grip of their position. I believe that Shining is getting a tiny bit better with each release, not that any of their albums have been bad, really, but there´s a continuing growth that, at the moment, proves them to be one of Sweden´s best. But there was something significant happening in the camp after the third one. There was a leap in quality and a more focused direction from the forth until the present day. The sound, the performance, and the songs just got better and Shining got a truly trademark sound. “Klagopsalmer” is, if not better, just as good as “Halmstad”, and holds equally strong songs. It opens groovy and hellish with “Vilseledda Barnasjälars Hemvist”. The sound is powerful; clean, but at the same time, raw enough to fit the genre. The second one, “Plågoande O'Helga Plågoande”, is also a heavy tune. Until the middle section emerges, and there is a very evident resemblance to the fellow Swedes, Opeth: a calm part with bearing melodic vocals, parallel melodies stretch out and grab you and Kvarforth emerges as a vocalist with skills way beyond average. The third, “Fullständigt Jävla Död Inuti”, returns to heavy-as-a-silverback Metal and, with its great riffing and hellish groove, is this record’s most imminently memorable song. The only thing that bothers me is the stretched out use of guitar solos. In this genre it appears to me a bit out of place. In Heavy Metal and Rock ´n Roll it is ok with solos - if they´re good, that is. Here, the music is too depressive for these harmonic show-off solos. Another surprise is of course the cover of Norway´s Seigmen, here entitled “Ohm (Sommar Med Siv)”, where Kvarforth performs the lyrics in Norwegian, and he´s passing the test. I know he´s been living in Oslo for some time, and I believe he´s learned a word or two. Well, much can be said about the band and Kvarforth and not everything is positive, but when it comes to their releases there´s quality and strong identity all the way. Luna

                

Shining
"Blackjazz"
Indie Recordings
I´ll say! Shining return with a ferocious attitude. “Blackjazz” is an angry motherfucker. “Grindstone” (the last album) was a twisted son of a bitch. That album from three years back was an exhibit in how to blend eccentric musical genres and transfer it into a beautiful monster - an absolute classic. So, when I anxiously put on this album, I was both curious and critically biased. I was totally run over. Like the impact of an iron horse. “Blackjazz” takes giant steps towards the extreme. Like the now extended use of vocals, that goes far out in really aggressive screaming ripped in distortion. The band now appears more like a Metal band with Jazz elements than vice versa. They’re still very experimental but this time the experiment is more in the actual compositions than in browsing genres. Right now they’re concentrated on extreme Metal and contemporary Jazz (hence the terrific title); progressive and technical but still within those frames. This way the album seems determined and very compact. The only fly in the ointment is the danger of getting tired of all the ruckus. Some parts get too exhausting and suffer from some kind of desperate overdrive, which could be termed a side effect of the very positive enthusiasm they´re displaying. A good example of this is the track “HEALTER SKELTER” (which, by the way, is a perpetuation of the song “REDRUM” from the “In the Kingdom of Kitsch”- album) and some parts towards the end of the album. It´s at these times I miss the quirkiness from “Grindstone” the most. The first half of “Blackjazz” is definitely the best. Here the savageness is displayed in the most complementary form. It´s frantic and threatening, yet catchy as hell. The song “Fish Eye” is a fucking killer and then “Exit Sun” evolves and kills you again. It´s cool that Shining have finally decided to record the King Crimson classic “21st Century Schizoid Man”. A cover Shining have done for some time - an excellent closer to an excellent album. Shining will never get commercial, but I believe that all people with the tiniest bit of adventurer in them will get off of this. Luna

                

Sigh
"Scenes From Hell"
The End Records
Arigato Sigh! If there´s one band you can trust to release music out of the ordinary, it is Sigh. This album is yet another compact overwhelming musical volcano from the crazy Japanese. I have followed the band for many years now and experienced all their different phases from their Black Metal origin, through experimental doom, progressive cinematic parts, cheerful sing-a-long tunes, and back to the extreme metal macabre. The album prior to this, “Hangman´s Hymn”, holds a mass of semi-hysterical music. I believe that “Scenes From Hell” suffers from the same syndrome. A whole lot of music packed to the rim, which leaves the poor listener in the difficult position of sorting it out. In fact, my impression of this album is quite similar to the prior. An aching loss of tunes like “Invitation To Die” and “The Tranquilizer Song” from earlier releases is very much present this time around as well; i. e., mellow songs that break up the intense force to make the overall impression more digestible. That way one can appreciate the fast stuff in a different way. One exception on “Scenes From Hell” is the number “The Summer Funeral” - a doomy and grandiose song which is very enjoyable. Apart from this, it mostly goes in a furious tempo. A great deal can be categorized as Thrash Metal as a fundament, with a lot of stuff on top - joyous fanfares, classical fiddles and piano, guitar harmonies and, of course, Mirai´s trademark: synth layers. In addition, there is the new member Dr. Mikannibal on saxophone and additional extreme vocals. With her in the staff I was expecting a lot more sax, but there’s surprisingly little of it. I think that instrument would´ve fitted well into the more atmospheric songs I´ve mentioned earlier. Personally I prefer the Sigh albums “Hail Horror Hail” and “Dread Dreams” that hold a lot of weird and twisted disharmonic sounds. Even though “the new Sigh” are fast and hard, they’re in general too jolly and too intense. In the end, this is Sigh, and a Sigh album is never really bad. There´s stuff on “Scenes From Hell” that is real hellish and deserves to be on an album with this title. Luna

                

Skitliv
"Skandinavisk Misantropi"
Season Of Mist
Finally the debut album of Skitliv is out. Common knowledge: this is the band that Maniac started after he quit Mayhem. Some might also know that Skitliv moves in a very different musical direction from Mayhem. Skitliv, then, is Skitliv and not a second Mayhem, which is good. For some years now Maniac has established a trademark sound for his band. A very destructive and disturbingly negative sound it is, yet the continuing slow tempo gives an atmosphere that´s sometimes eerily comforting. Compared to the demos, the sound on this record is turned up a notch. Overall, with its powerful sound and rich arrangements, it´s a more worked through effort. Maniac’s voice is used in various ways. In addition to the shrieking BM-vocals, there are also clean narration type, fierce hissing, and tortured howling from the anarchist’s mouth. The music is (as mentioned) mostly slow, cruel, atmospheric, but in the end they deliver a full on BM-tune in form of “Densetsu” that emerges as a real blow-out after all the slow stuff. I bid thee welcome, Skitliv, and congratulations, Maniac, with a successful new band with a strong independent sound. Luna

                

Skogen
"Vittra"
Frostscald Records
It´s like a soundtrack to the Autumn, touched by the melancholia of Katatonia and perhaps some brief moments of Primordial. Skogen, a new band rising up from Sweden, know how to write music that is devoid of complexity, but so full of variation and atmosphere it must surely be a goal fulfilled for this duo. The vocals might go into Black Metal, the music not. This is atmospheric Metal that is harmonic and floats well in between slow dreamlike passages and the more up-tempo parts, that are accompanied with clean male vocals, synth and acoustic guitars. The harmonies are beautiful and theyve managed to keep the quality of their material on a good and solid high level, mixing it all in with great diversity and variation. Andre P.

                

Slaughtered Priest
"World Wide War"
Time Before Time Records
Oh yeah, this is going to be a great addition in the collection to all patch loving Thrash maniacs out there. Slaughtered Priest from Greece merge together the essence of dirty Thrash into a combo that sounds real killer. Stripped down but with a cool sound and lots of great riffs and up-tempo excellence. It´s old school and primitive, the name of the band and the cover drawing should guide you to the right associations, but still, there´s a little more to this band than just that, I would say. Even though they have the dirty and destructive Thrash elements there are also some less destructive elements, especially in the backing vocal style that is present in the majority of the songs. Cool indeed! With song titles like “Abortion”, “Rise Against Humanity”, “Decapitation of Virgin Mary” and “Unholy War”, these guys will make you proud to be a sinner. Scum

                

Sorgeldom
"Innerlig Förmörkelse"
Frostscald Records
Well… The booklet is nicely designed and the photos they´ve used for the band create a great deal of curiosity and anticipation, as this cannot be like all the other bands? No, they are not, except for the fact that the material on this debut is not strong or calls for immediate repeated listening. I doubt I´ll listen to this album again, to be honest. The sound is rather crisp, not a lot of bass in the bottom. The band have all the time in the world at their hands, and are not in a rush to reach a climax with their songs. Some parts seems to take forever, but now and then a fulfilled moment of Metal tranquillity is approaching. With this album they open up some potential, and hopefully that will be further explored on their next album. This one, though, is too plain and neutral to create musical magic. Unholy

                

Svart
"Våran Tid er Forbi / Vanära, Vanmakt och Avsmak"
Frostscald Records
Two releases here from the Swedish band Svart, or actually three. The EP “Våran Tid er Forbi” contains the demo “Då Allt Upphör”, making this disc clock in at well over 70 minutes. This is stripped down and quite harsh Black Metal, making it obvious they know their past preferences. It´s not something unique, or something that is going to make you mentally unstable, it´s been done before and I think it´s obvious the band knows that very well, not giving it much thought. The material itself isn´t that interesting, and after the first track that last for nearly 15 minutes, I am starting to loose interest. It´s just too plain, too normal and too average. Their debut full length “Vanära, Vanmakt och Avsmak” is less stripped down Black Metal, now going in the Suicidal Black Metal direction. Perhaps not that much of a surprise, as the man behind this band is also in Livsnekad. This album is showing a band that is starting to have their own sound and style. There´s much more character in the music, they come up with cooler guitar parts that add something to the music, rather than just being predictable. The melodies are nice and well incorporated into the music, and I am sensing a great relief for the future material they may come up with. Svart have potential. This album is good and balanced. Could it be a mixture of their earlier Black Metal with hints of Lifelover? Yes, I would say so, to a certain minimal degree. Eyes fixated on the future, and with a continued mind that dare be original and experimental, Svart could be yet another interesting band from Sweden. J. Loon

                

Swamp
"Nuclear Death"
Time Before Time Records
I am pretty satisfied with the fact that I will never listen to this one again. This EP disc, where 4 out of 8 tracks are from a demo from 2006, is composed in such a way that even their cooler parts become dull and uninteresting. This is ultra primitive and old school Metal, stripped completely from interesting parts. And with that, I do not mean parts other bands have played many times before, that has nothing to do with interesting. Swamp does not succeed in this old school destructive Metal style. It doesn´t sound natural, the repetition of other bands are making this ultra uninteresting and they kind of drown in clichés. Unholy

                

Trigger the Bloodshed
"Degenerate"
Rising Records
These British Deathheads have got favourable reviews in Kerrang, Metal Hammer and others. Still, I can’t quite understand what the fuzz is about. This sounds like standard Death Metal, nothing more or less. The structure of the songs feels ordinary and one-dimensional. Trigger… are not without technical abilities, but I fail to hear any depths, much less emotions in this band. It’s aggressive and that’s it, that’s all. The whole album sounds like the same song being played over and over. There is nothing unexpected, it’s without as much as a touch of even the most basic attempts at anything atmospheric. If there is anything “new” on this album I have no idea what that might be. Death Metal like Morbid Angel´s “Domination” was Death with both sophistication, atmosphere and unexpected turns. That was like precisionbombing: massive destruction unleashed at specific targets with a specific aim. This is the equivalent of area bombing. A barrage of explosives, but dropped without purpose, aim or even a target. The album has definitely got punch and it’s aggressive enough. But it sounds like aggression for its own sake and nothing more. The music is flat, empty and sterile. It’s BORING. A dark star to the band for their attitude tough –“As youths we are often discriminated against as troublemakers and the ones without a future… the social order are corrupting the youth to neutralise this threat of revolution.” A BLOODred star to the band for this “insurgent without a cause” spirit, ordinary music or not. ThomasF

                

Ulvhedner
"Før i Tida"
Frostscald Records
A debut album from a Norwegian band that combine Pagan, Viking and perhaps a slight touch of Black Metal into a combo that isn´t all that. To be more precise, this is really not good or interesting. The compositional qualities is an obvious lack this band is suffering from. The songs could have been a lot better with a mastermind re-structuring them seriously. The album opens up with a pretty cool guitar part that kind of create some interest. But apart from just some small nice parts this album is ridden with dead parts and the obvious fillers all the way through. The melodies are predictable, the music very often meaningless and going nowhere. The end result is uninspiring. Unholy

                

Violated
"Only Death Awaits"
Duplicate Records
Thrash from the small Norwegian town of Kristiansund which is “packing a punch that would make Rocky Balboa proud”. They’re still some rounds from knocking him out, but could have stood on their feet against Ivan Drago, and easily beaten up Rocky’s idiot protege from the final film. Lasting less than half an hour the music is intense and aggressive enough. The riffs spins from mediocre to good and in a few moments very good. Violated is not exactly pushing boundaries in creativity, but the beat is definitely present. The slow instrumental “Apokalupsis Eschaton” gives the much needed breathing space these bands so often forget. The album has just one little problem. One major, problem to be correct: The vocals are far from acceptable. They’re like having toothache in the ears. The first time this album was listened to it was boring and flat, but after having focused on the instrumental parts only the songs grew considerably. If Violated shut the fuck up and continue their song writing they could be ready to take on Rocky Balboa himself. ThomasF

                

Whorehouse
"Execution of Humanity"
Mad Lion Records
They´ve existed since the mid 90s but it took them 14 years to have the debut out, and if you´re into American style Thrash, this band from Poland might surprise you. The album has a great crystal clear and powerful sound, adding a lot of energy to their music. They know how to maintain focus, add variation to their songs and great moments that calls for some moshpits too. It´s a well made album with a style of their own while still not going off the wall experimenting. The guitar sound is awesome, making each riff a delight as they appear in the songs. The vocals are normal male Thrash vocals. It sounds up to date while still reminding me of the past. Patronizer

                

Wold
"Working Together for our Privacy"
Profound Lore Records
Fancy being sonically surrounded by noise for 35 minues? This one´s absurd and harsh. Wold, hailing from Canada, have manifested 3 tracks of raw, trancelike noise that surpass my definition of music. It´s really off the wall. The press release states: “An intense excruciating exercise in pure audial hypnosis”. I agree. There´s no vocals, the only variation is transformed way in the background of the madness this album invokes. This one is the opposite of easy listening, and you will have to be in a very weird mood to be captured by the hypnotic monotonous harshness of this album. Andre P.

                

Yob
"The Great Cessation"
Profound Lore Records
It´s like climbing into a Porsche, pushing the pedal knowing the sound of the engine is going to turn you on. I had my first encounter with this entity that goes by the name of Yob when they released their “Catharsis” album. Their wall of sound and their dark consuming soundscapes just hit something inside me. It was not an album I could put on just like that, I had to be in a certain mood, and when I was in that particular mood the album really was a treat. A handful of years have passed since then, and with this, their fifth album, Yob again manifest themselves as a band that belongs to the top of Doom. The massive wall of sound, basically gigantic and powerful, is beyond words awesome. The variety between total fuzz-darkness and guitars that are played with sensitive fingertips is truly unique; the feeling that is evoked is pretty impressive. Yob pour down heaviness like a cascade out on a quest to absorb you - literally. J. Loon

                

Zilverhill
"Latent - Active – Descent"
Adeptsound
As the title indicates, this new album from the excellent duo Zilverhill comprises of three parts. Rest assured; they continue their exploration of weird music, ambience, favourably eerie samples and voices, and once again I´m captured to the bone. The album gets increasingly more and more sinister, the paranoia and claustrophobia are creeping closer and the nightmarish sounds even more present. This is ambient music; sounds making a full impression of a song that contains no real melody. But the sounds create images; both beautiful and morbid, and the samples of Richard Nixon speaking are very effective for the result. The distant voices and the animalistic instincts sneak your way. Once again, Zilverhill make me close my eyes and enjoy their material to the fullest extent. J. Loon

                



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