Monday, December 26, 2011

HELHEIM - Heiðindómr ok mótgang (2011)

 genre : melodic/viking black
similar bands : Kampfar, Iskald, Windir, Taake
origin : Norway
strong spot : songwriting
weak spot : nothing obvious

At times blasting, at times pompous, at times serene, this is a viking black metal album whose melodies were made to haunt you. Standard tremolo picking black metal at first listen, it unveils an exeptional beauty after more thorough listens due to its clever songwriting. Epic melodies, themes that stick to your mind, sudden and successful changes of tempo, grandiose symphonic samples and a really diverse vocalist yield in one of the best viking/pagan black metal albums I have heard the last years.

9 out of 10 goatheads

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

KLABAUTAMANN - THE OLD CHAMBER



genre :  black metal
similar bands : Satyricon, Enslaved
origin : Germany
strong spot : cover
weak spot : lacks diversity and identity

Klabautamann's previous album ''Merkur'' is what I would call a ''classic'' album. It was one of these albums where your jaw drops and you can not pinpoint a single flow. I was very excited to hear that Klabautamann have a new album on the way. After a dozen of spins in my mp3 player, this is not an album for a 6,5 as I first thought. It is much better than the average mid tempo black since it includes some really beautiful progressive elements. The tracks are solid, every part is nicely combined with the part that succeeds it and there are no filler tracks or parts. I am now sure it is very close to 8,5.

  8,5 out of 10 goatheads

Friday, November 11, 2011

THY CATAFALQUE - RENGETEG (2011)

genre : experimental black
similar bands :  Solefald, Damned Spirits' Dance, The kovenant
origin : Hungary
strong spot : originality
weak spot :nothing too obvious
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Thy Catafalque's ''Roka Hasa Radio'' was really one of the best black metal albums I have ever heard in my short life.So, once again, the expectations were dangerously high. ''Rengeteg'' is very similar to its predecessor, it is actually the twin album of ''Roka Hasa Radio'': the production is the same, the drums and guitars sound, the songwriting very similar etc. This is not bad,  the band has established a personal mark and works it over developing it. The mixture of black metal, industrial sounds and folk atmosphere/melodies (without the actual use of folk  instruments) is again stunning and highly original. I don't get the lyrics but I very easily sneak into the dreamy world of the Hungarian combo every time I listen to their music. I still prefer their debut since it included some really incredible tracks and parts but ''Rengeteg'' is an excellent follow-up.

9,1 out of 10 goatheads 
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Friday, October 28, 2011

LANTLOS - AGAPE (2011)

genre : doom/black
similar bands :  Heretoir, Alcest, Fen
origin : Germany
strong spot :production, performance of the band (mainly drummer)
weak spot : songwriting is absent, duration is only 35 mins

Neige: Well, listen to me Herbst, we have to write a new album for Lantlos
Herbst: Do you have anything new in mind, any new tunes?
Neige: Hmm, actually no. but I can write 4 or 5 songs within a couple of days. I'll make them really simple but the fans will love them, the hype you know...
Herbst: Let's put some jazzy shit there to make the songs sound weird!
Neige: Coool! And a really good artwork, a brilliant production and promotion from the label! But fuck, we have no songs now. But who cares?
Herbst:  We can claim  the songs are simple because we are modern and we make minimal music.
Neige: You are on fire!!
Herbst: Well, let's start with B minor and then....hmm no inspiration, help me Neige!!
Neige: And...we end with B minor man! This is minimal!!
Herbst: Awwweeesomeee!!

2 out of 10 goatheads 

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

SMOHALLA - RESILIENCE (2011)

genre : psychedelic/atmospheric post-black
similar bands :  Solefald, Transcending Bizarre? (1st album), Kadenzza, Murmuure, H.O.P.E.
origin : France
strong spot : originality,songwriting
weak spot :natural drums would definitely give a boost to the whole album

Here is another band from France that stretches the barriers of conventional music and in this case, black metal.  A mosaic of distorted guitars, choirs, violins, electronic loops, noise, screams and clean vocals, synths etc that sounds more or less unique. Chaotic beauty in simple terms. Imagine it as the background music for the very first minutes of creation, the big bang.

9 out of 10 goatheads 

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

ORANSSI PAZUZU - KOSMONUMENT (2011)

genre : psychedelic black
similar bands : -
origin : Finland
strong spot : originality, performance
weak spot : suffers from songwriting

Oranssi Pazuzu was one of my best findings the last years. With their debut album ''Muukalainen Puhuu'', the band managed to craft their own sound and differentiate their style from the rest of the metal bands out there. The recipe was highly successful: psychedelic performance and chord progressions, rock-like distortion, noise used as part of the compositions, repetitive notes in the background and lots of others were characteristic of the band. So, the expectations for their new endeavour were high..but sadly not fulfilled. ''Kosmonument'' is not bad, it has a large dose of psychedelia but it suffers from songwriting. The band wasted this album  in creating repetitive music that would fit as the background sound for a cult movie but fails to stand on its own. Their previous works combined psychedelic repetition with musical themes and their development. Here, if we exclude 2 or 3 tracks, the rest don't serve any other purpose than to manifestate that ''hey, we are a different band''. Sadly...

5 out of 10 goatheads 

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

VOID - VOID (2011)

genre : post black
similar bands : Code, DHG, Deathspell Omega
origin : UK
strong spot : production, performance
weak spot : nothing too obvious

Hmm, VOID. The name rings a bell. After a short research I found out that Void used to include members from Satyricon, Dodheimsgard, Aura Noir and tons of others in their line-up. This is their 2nd full length album and it is definitely worth listening from all black metal fans. Dissonant chords, furious blastbeats, paranoid screams, an amazing performance (especially from the drummer) and on top of them a brilliant production, similar to Deathspell Omega's 'Paracletus'. I was not really thrilled by the songwriting but even so, I am sure that lots of fans will love this one.

8,5 out of 10 goatheads 

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

IMPERIAL VENGEANCE - BLACK HEART OF EMPIRE (2011)

genre : symphonic black
similar bands : Carach Angren, Transcending Bizarre?, Cradle of Filth
origin :UK
strong spot : songwriting, symphonic orchestrations
weak spot : female vocals (my personal NoNo)

Imperial Vengeance is one of the few bands whose music really captures a dreamy/unearthly atmosphere similar to that from the cinema. The symphonic orchestrations are once again close to perfection and the songwriting combines passion and wrath with beautiful melodies and fairytale-like sounds.  The metal elements fortunately are not put aside but on the contrary constitute the main core of the music (there is also a very clean and solid production). 
 
8,5 out of 10 goatheads 

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - CELESTIAL LINEAGE (2011)

genre : funeral/atmospheric doom/black
similar bands :Agalloch, Drudkh, Woods of Desolation, A Forest of Stars, Fen
origin :USA
strong spot : atmosphere
weak spot : compositions could be better

Wolves in the Throne room is no doubt one of the bands that crafted what we today call american black metal. They are also one of the first bands who incorporated post-black and shoegaze black influences in their sound. Lots of bands followed later on. Here is their new endeavour, atmospheric, ritualistic and evocative as always. My objections are the following: 1) we have heard this kind of astral atmosphere in their previous releases, only now the production standards are much higher and 2) There are no actual compositions, meaning chord sequences, diverse tempos, tonalities, changes of scale etc etc, here we have some chords played in a minimalistic manner so as to yield in a ritualistic transcendental atmosphere. Simple as that. If you are up for this kind of styff, this album is really convincing. Regarding me, this is not my cup of tea...

6 out of 10 goatheads 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

OPETH - HERITAGE (2011)

genre : prog rock/ metal
similar bands : old Opeth, King Crimson,
origin : Sweden
strong spot :  arrangements, vintage production
weak spot : has some dull moments, no screams attached

Mikael Akerfeldt is no doubt one of the best and most influential musicians in the modern day metal scene. Most of the fans hated this album at first listen but appreciated it later on. I remember my self listening to ''Masquerade Infernale'' from Arcturus and saying ''well, quite good experimentation but that's all''. Needless to say that this is now one of my all time classics, Arcturus were simply ahead of me, ahead of the metal world and fans. Mayne that's the case with Opeth here. I am not implying that this is a future classic but I am sure in a few years from now people will think they misjudged this album and underrated it. The influences from bands like King Crimson or Camel and in general the 70s prog rock scene are audible but Akerfeldt does not copy/paste anyone. There is till enough Opeth identity here.  This an album that contains a huge amount of magic and transcendental atmosphere. Psychedelic landscapes, serene instrumentations, peaceful melodies yield in a ''different'' but lovable album.

9 out of 10 goatheads 

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AENAON - CENDRES ET SANG

genre : post black
similar bands : No Hand Path, The Konsortium, Dornenreich
origin : Greece
strong spot :  songwriting
weak spot :nothing obvious

Greece is full of surprises lately. Here we have the newcomers Aenaon that recently signed with Code666 and present a multidimensional, diverse, thrashy and melodic post black album with avant garde touches (i.e. the use of saxophone in a couple of tracks). There is but a tiny amount of synths or effects here. Aenaon are definitely capable of writing good songs and in the end of the day that's what makes an album stand out from the pile of albums out there. Here the listener tastes darkness, despair, jazzy serenity, wrath and lots of other feelings. The band sometimes  follows the old school black metal paths while others sounds extra modern.

9 out of 10 goatheads 

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

LEPROUS - BILATERAL (2011)

genre : extreme progressive metal
similar bands : Dream Theater, Haken, Ihsahn
origin : Norway
strong spot : cover, songwriting, vocals, technical performance
weak spot : I would prefer much more growls


Leprous' debut was one of the most promising debuts I came across since I started this blog. Therefore,you can understand my curiosity about this one, their 2nd album, which I really enjoyed to its last moment. Leprous have turned to more progressive paths with ''Bilateral'' but their music is still powerful, passionate and easy to grasp. The performance of the whole combo and especiall the vocalist is ideal and there is not a single filler  track. Clever songwriting, diverse arrangements, non-common melodies. If I had to compare it to their debut? hmmm, I am sure the new album will appeal to more fans, especially the progressive ones but when coming to musical essence and songwriting I would rate their debut slightly higher.
9 out of 10 goatheads 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ICS VORTEX - STORM SEEKER (2011)

genre :modern heavy metal
similar bands : Iron Maiden, Sonata Arctica
origin : Norway
strong spot : nothng obivous
weak spot : songwriting is ridiculous(some songs are to laugh at), tracks sound the same, vocals are extremely boring

Well here we have the latest project by the ex-clean vocalist of the legendary blackmetallers Dimmu Borgir. Highly anticipated? yes, Worth the wait? No... Everything here is at least mediocre...hmmm mediocre is not the right word. Bad? yes bad, everything here is very poorly done, the production, the songwriting, the cover etc etc This is the definition of a bad album. Other reviewers referred to this album as prog rock or prog metal. I totally disagree, there is nothing progressive here, the compositions are simple and boring, the performance below average, the style quite common and by no means innovative or experimental. Last but not least, Mr Simen Haestnes' singing is totally messed up. The guy has a great voice but in most of the songs he sings in a single octave and this sounds annoying and tiring.Voice dynamics are almost absent.

2,5 out of 10 goatheads 

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

SORGELDOM - ...FROM OUTER INTELLIGENCES (2011)

 genre : post-black metal (experimental and avant-garde influences)
similar bands : Oder Arcarum, Isengard, Fen, Kerbenok
origin : Sweden
strong spot : riffs
weak spot : clean vocals could be better, songwriting could be more solid

The Swedish combo released two (!) albums this year from which I selected the second one to recommend here. Catchy and yet complex riffs, folk atmosphere, diverse vocals, puzzling song structures, lots of clean guitar parts, some experimental parts, all the ingredients of modern black metal are here put in the blender.

7 out of 10 goatheads 

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

THE KONSORTIUM - THE KONSORTIUM (2011)

genre : black metal
similar bands :Kvelertak, Satyricon, Whirling, Carcass(?)
origin : Norway
strong spot : songwriting
weak spot :nothing too obvious

Norway has the recipe, that's for sure. The Konsortium features members of Mayhem and Kvelertak as their myspace page claims. They play thrashy black metal as it should be. Cool riffs, complex structures,avant-garde touches, changes in tempo, a versatile vocalist, a somehow raw production etc etc, I guess you get the picture. Go for it...

8,8  out of 10 goatheads 

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FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE - AGONY (2011)

genre :symphonic death metal
similar bands : Hollenthon, Transcending Bizarre?, Septicflesh, Hour of Penance
origin : Italy
strong spot : classical orchestrations, compositions
weak spot : nothing too obvious

Death metal in the core, classical music in the surface.As a fan of symphonic music I have to bow my head in gratitude to the almighty Fleshgod Apocalypse. The band is more symphonic than ever and I guess their hardcore death metal fans will be disappointed. But the band shows huge new potential and present an almost flawless album that I never saw it coming. Extra credits go to the drummer that plays constantly at high speeds (live performance is definitely a challenge for him since he is always around 300 bpm) and to the synth player that has done a phenomenal work. Even though there is no orchestra taking part, the sounds and the arrangements are so advanced and complex that they give the illusion of a real orchestra. Clean vocals may sound strange to some ears but in the end the result is more than satisfying. A MUST RECOMMENDATION!!

9,5  out of 10 goatheads 

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

VALBORG - BARBARIAN

genre : black metal
similar bands : Darkestrah, Dornenreich, Todtgelicher
origin : Germany
strong spot : vocals
weak spot :boring at parts

I have to admit that I was never a fan of Valborg but I saw a lot of potential in their previous work ''Crown of Sorrow''. Sadly, I was wrong. Valborg present a somewhat boring album that lacks energy, passion, continuity and originality. I would not label it as progressive since it is very flat and predictable. In any case, it has 2 or 3 tracks that show potential and talent. I will have to expect their next endeavour again...

6,9  out of 10 goatheads 

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PESTE NOIRE - L'Ordure à l'état Pur (2011)

genre : experimental black metal
similar bands : Pensees nocturnes, Deathspell Omega, Armagedda
origin : France
strong spot : originality
weak spot : some ideas are too weird while some others sound ridiculous

France is a country that has pushed the boundaries of almost every kind of art and Peste Noire could not deviate from this tradition. They present modernized old school black metal with touches of experimentalism and large doses of insanity. I guess this is again a love it or hate it album. So far, I enjoy it and I am not annoyed by the rooster that is featured on the first track :) It definitely sounds like sth new and refreshing but I guess it needs time to grow into the listener.

8,5  out of 10 goatheads 

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

SHINING - VII: FODD FORLORARE (2011)


genre : black metal
similar bands :Opeth, Murmuure, Totalselfhatred, Valborg, A Forest of Stars
origin : Sweden
strong spot : originality
weak spot : I'd prefer more new elements

Shining are back with a new album. If you liked their previous ones, I am sure you won't be dissapointed. My only objection is that this one does not showcase a wide range of new elements but sounds a bit stale and stubborn. Even so, it is a very good album with plenty of good black metal riffs, melody when needed and a large dose of schizophrenia. This guys' vocals are really expressive and passionate.


8,5  out of 10 goatheads 

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