Album Review – Bast / Nanoångström (2018)

Set against a bleak science fiction backdrop, exploring the human conditions of loss, isolation, and change in the wake of time’s passage, the new album by this three-piece act from the UK has everything you crave in Sludge and Doom Metal.

Founded in 2008 in London, England, the three-piece experimental vortex of blackened intensity and forlorn, mournful doom known as Bast returns now in 2018 with Nanoångström, the follow-up to their 2014 critically acclaimed debut release Spectres, continuing the band’s trajectory into narrative driven arrangements and experimental compositions. Including a beautiful artwork designed and directed by the band’s own lead singer and guitarist Craig Bryant, and also featuring an exclusive piece by Manga legend Shintaro Kago as well as guest vocals by Chris Naughton of England’s leading purveyors of Black Metal Winterfylleth, Nanoångström is set against a bleak science fiction backdrop, exploring the human conditions of loss, isolation, and change in the wake of time’s passage, all enfolded by the crushing fusion of Sludge and Doom Metal blasted by Craig and his bandmates Gavin Thomas on bass and Jon Lee on drums and backing vocals.

Low-tuned, melancholic and whimsical sounds invade our senses in the intro Distant Suns, warming us up for the crushing Far Horizons, a 10-minute Sludge Metal exhibit led by the rip-roaring riffs and growls by Craig, while Jon flawlessly pounds his drums in a delicate but fierce way at the same time, with the song’s crisp and flammable riffs being intertwined with somber and more serene passages, even presenting hints of Atmospheric Black Metal. Then featuring the aforementioned guest vocals by Chris Naughton we have The Beckoning Void, an explosion of contemporary Sludge and Doom Metal where the bass punches by Gavin sound truly menacing and thunderous, while Craig keeps shredding his strings mercilessly. Moreover, the song also presents nuances of classic Black Metal added to the drumming by Jon, hammering our heads and piercing our minds mercilessly, with the song’s second half getting more progressive and vibrant until its majestic finale.

The title-track Nanoångström begins as sluggish, introspective and obscure as possible, with the band’s stringed duo extracting Stygian tones from their instruments, while Jon slowly and steadily smashes his drums. In addition, Craig’s anguished growls get more and more desperate as the music progresses, before everything evolves into a Progressive Sludge Metal extravaganza that would make the guys from Tool really proud. Then rumbling guitars and bass lines permeate the air in the also sluggish Doom Metal tune titled A Red Line Through Black, remaining at a truly obscure tone until a wave of progressiveness takes over and the music morphs into a hard-hitting feast of classic Sludge Metal riffs, frantic and intricate beats, and enraged roars. Put differently, it can’t get any heavier nor more eccentric than this. Lastly, Chris joins Bast once again in The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars, where the band brings forth 12 minutes of crude, melodic and cutting Progressive Sludge Metal, a full-bodied headbanging hymn spearheaded by Craig and his aggressive, harsh growls, while Jon keeps extracting sheer Black Metal sounds from his beats. And their sonic havoc goes on ruthlessly, not giving us a single second of peace until its abrupt and powerful ending.

In a nutshell, Nanoångström has everything fans of contemporary and dark Sludge and Doom Metal are always craving, elevating Bast to new heights and positioning them as one of the most interesting exponents of the genre. If Bast’s sluggish music is your cup of tea, you can grab your copy of Nanoångström from their own BandCamp page or from the Black Bow Records’ Big Cartel, and after you do that just remember your days will never be bright or peaceful again. Well, I guess those are not the sensations you want to fell while listening to first-class Doom Metal, which means Bast more than succeeds in taking you to the most obscure side of music with Nanoångström.

Best moments of the album: The Beckoning Void and The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. Distant Suns 2:40
2. Far Horizons 10:24
3. The Beckoning Void (feat. Chris Naughton) 10:53
4. Nanoångström 11:10
5. A Red Line Through Black 9:56
6. The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars (feat. Chris Naughton) 12:34

Band members
Craig Bryant – vocals, guitars
Gavin Thomas – bass
Jon Lee – drums, vocals

Guest musician
Chris Naughton – guest vocals on “The Beckoning Void” and “The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars”

Concert Review – Behemoth (The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 11/06/2018)

Toronto definitely loves Behemoth at their darkest.

OPENING ACTS: Wolves In The Throne Room and At The Gates

If there’s one thing we cannot complain at all in Toronto is the fact that the winter never really hits us hard before the end of December, which means whenever there’s a concert like this Tuesday’s fantastic triumvirate of extreme music with Wolves In The Throne Room, At The Gates and the masters of blasphemy Behemoth at The Danforth Music Hall during their “Ecclesia Diabolica America 2018 e.v.” tour, you can rest assured it will never be too cold nor snowing, allowing any fan to attend the show and have a great time. Well, I guess even if it was -20oC and snowing like hell the concert would have been absolutely SOLD OUT like it actually happened, with about 1,500 metalheads at the venue, and the reason for that is quite simple. All three bands kicked some serious ass with their austere, obscure and hammering music, especially Behemoth, who put up another memorable performance in the city.

I have to admit I didn’t know much about American Atmospheric Black Metal act WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, formed in 2003 in the city of Olympia, Washington, in the United States, before their show opening for At The Gates and Behemoth this Tuesday, and I’m truly happy with them being chosen to do so. Still promoting their 2017 album Thrice Woven (available from their own BandCamp page), the  band comprised of Nathan Weaver on vocals and guitar, Kody Keyworth on the guitar and backing vocals, Peregrine Somerville also on the guitar, the stunning Brittany McConnell on keyboards and Aaron Weaver on drums (and no, they don’t have a bassist) delivered a solid, entertaining and mesmerizing show, playing only three songs but for around 30 minutes, just the way we love it in Atmospheric Black Metal. If you’re still going to see Behemoth during this North American tour, make sure you get to the venue on time for Wolves In The Throne Room, because watching them on stage is indeed a unique experience.

Setlist
Angrboda
The Old Ones Are With Us
Born From the Serpent’s Eye

Band members
Nathan Weaver – vocals, guitar
Kody Keyworth – guitar, backing vocals
Peregrine Somerville – guitar
Brittany McConnell – keyboards
Aaron Weaver – drums

After a quick break it was time for Gothenburg’s own Melodic Death Metal institution AT THE GATES to prove us all why they’re still one of the most relevant bands from the 90’s unparalleled Swedish scene, slaying everything and everyone throughout their entire concert. All fans at the venue enjoyed a lot the flammable performance by frontman Tomas Lindberg and his henchmen, including the songs from their brand new album To Drink from the Night Itself, such as the title-track and A Stare Bound in Stone. Not only their full concert was a feast of first-class old school and modern-day Melodic Death Metal, but it was nice to watch Mr. Adrian Erlandsson smashing his drums once again after so many years, as the last time I saw him playing live was when he was still drumming for Cradle Of Filth. A great drummer, an amazing and charismatic lead singer, and a very entertaining setlist. What else can you ask for in Melodic Death Metal made in the beautiful Sweden, right?

Setlist
Der Widerstand
To Drink From the Night Itself
Slaughter of the Soul
At War With Reality
A Stare Bound in Stone
Cold
El Altar del Dios Desconocido
Death and the Labyrinth
Heroes and Tombs
Suicide Nation
The Book of Sand (The Abomination)
Blinded by Fear
The Night Eternal

Band members
Tomas Lindberg – vocals
Martin Larsson – guitars
Jonas Stålhammar – guitars
Jonas Björler – bass
Adrian Erlandsson – drums 

BEHEMOTH

Right after At The Gates ended their show, the speakers started playing the devilish children’s choir from the awesome intro Solve, from BEHEMOTH’s blasphemous and totally amazing new opus I Loved You At Your Darkest, putting us all in a trance and warming up our senses for the storm of Blackened Death Metal we were all eager to witness once again in Toronto. And when our favorite Polish horde started their fulminating performance with Wolves ov Siberia, spearheaded as usual by the iconic Nergal, it was hell on earth at The Danforth Music Hall for the total delectation of the 1,500 fans who took the venue by storm.

Blending new songs from their latest albums I Loved You At Your Darkest, which by the way worked extremely well live like the hypnotizing chant Bartzabel and the beyond blasphemous Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica, and The Satanist, with the ominous hymns Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer (my favorite of the setlist) and Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel being a true invocation of evil, with old school material like the pulverizing Ov Fire and the Void, Slaves Shall Serve and Chant for Eschaton 2000, Nergal and his horde comprised of the extremely sharp and talented Seth on the guitar and backing vocals, the bulldozer Orion on bass and backing vocals, and the stone crusher Inferno on drums were on absolute fire from start to finish, worshiping Satan while delivering the best and most intricate fusion of classic and contemporary Death and Black Metal you can think of, with their masks, costumes and props being the icing on the cake. My only “complaint” is that they didn’t end the show with the fantastic O Father O Satan O Sun!, including those menacing horns and masks, but the closing combo Lucifer, We Are the Next 1000 Years  and the outro Coagvla were awesome anyway.

Not only Nergal was extremely happy and excited with the warm reception he received here in Toronto (not to mention the endless, incendiary circle pits beautifully crafted by their, let’s say, “most physical” fans), but seeing such packed venue made him pretty much promise us all that Behemoth will strike us Torontonians once again with their infernal music in a not-so-distant future, and we obviously can’t wait for another bestial performance by one of the most important extreme bands of the current metal scene. Lastly, on a side note, it looks like Behemoth love Toronto even more than we can imagine, as the Polish quartet from hell also played a 7-song setlist at a house party of one of Nergal’s friends the night before as you can see HERE, with the same intensity and energy of their usual concerts at much bigger places. I don’t mind not being invited for those parties as long as Behemoth keep coming back to the city with their insanely heavy and hellish concerts, but if by any chance anyone has a spare “ticket” for that type of event, why not? Just kidding, as I’m not that social, only a metalhead who loves when a band like Behemoth keeps spreading their black wings and unleashing hell upon the earth, showing their love for the city of Toronto as much as we love them back at their darkest.

Setlist
Solve
Wolves ov Siberia
Daimonos
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Bartzabel
Ov Fire and the Void
God = Dog
Conquer All
Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica
Decade of Therion
Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
Slaves Shall Serve
Chant for Eschaton 2000
Lucifer
We Are the Next 1000 Years
Coagvla

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Album Review – Elegiac / Pagan Storm (2018)

Forging the New Wave of American Black Metal, behold this talented one-man army from Portland, Oregon and his brand new melodic, aggressive and bestial full-length opus.

Forging the New Wave of USBM (or American Black Metal), Portland, Oregon-based one-man army Elegiac is into this creative and productive overwhelming attitude that all the most influential bands of the 90’s were in at their very beginning, dwelling with the most typical references of the early Scandinavian heritage influenced by the more pragmatic synthesis of the USBM roughness in the project’s brand new opus entitled Pagan Storm. Since its inception in 2014 in San Diego, California by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zane Young (from several underground acts such as Airengrav, Blitzgeist, Gormanudr, Lord Impotent and Tideless), Elegiac has released three EP’s and four full-length albums, as well as a demo and several split albums, but it’s with Pagan Storm, which features a classy and epic cover art by Joe McEvoy, that this Black Metal beast has reached its most melodic, aggressive and flammable shape and form.

Zane wastes no time and quickly darkens our minds with his sluggish Doom Metal-inspired beats and demonic gnarls in the opening track titled Rituals of War, evolving into a dissonant and Mephistophelian feast of Black Metal without a single empty space in its over eight minutes of obscurity. Then we have Allegiance and Honor, more brutal and piercing than its predecessor, presenting darkly poetic lyrics (“Calling to the gods of my blood / Deep within my memory / Return my mind to the patterns of old / And teach me the wisdom now tossed away / By the desert god of Abraham / A true plague of the mind and flesh / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / Molded for their every will…”) and leaning towards contemporary Melodic Black Metal, with Zane’s roars reaching a truly infernal level throughout the entire song; and dark clouds of Black and Doom Metal spread upon humanity in the 10-minute aria Somber Morning, where Zane delivers the most Stygian guitar lines and delicate but vile beats of the whole album in a demonic display of extreme music that will haunt the souls of the lighthearted. And strident guitar lines kick off the also blackened extravaganza named Through Ancient Eyes, where Zane keeps growling like a demonic entity while pounding his drums in a damned and somber manner. Put differently, if you love the rawest and most sulfurous form of underground Black and Doom Metal, this song is just perfect for you.

A lot more vibrant and electrified than its predecessors,  Purity of Winter brings forward a rumbling and dense sonority for our avid ears, or in other words, a lesson in visceral Black Metal with both guitar and bass lines sounding as crude as they can be, resulting in an enfolding fusion of melancholy, crushing sounds and tones, and the desolation of the winter. In Golden Fires of Victory we face the menacing, obscure gnarls by Zane accompanied by his blast beats and demented guitars, sending a sound message to the unbelievers that the gates of hell are open and darkness is upon us, feeling vile and crushing from start to finish; whereas in the title-track Pagan Storm the talented Zane takes his fury to a whole new level, growling and screaming in the most bestial way while unleashing demonic but at the same time very harmonious riffs from his guitar, once again adding a considerable dosage of modern-day Melodic Black Metal to his raw core sonority. And last but not least, how about 10 minutes of melodic and dynamic Black Metal to darken your metal heart even more? That’s what Zane offers in the closing tune Ancient Spirit, a fantastic “waltz of the damned” where his anguished lamentations add an extra layer of melancholy to the musicality, while his flammable riffs keep invading our ears until the music fades into pitch black darkness.

The somber and eccentric world of extreme music crafted by Zane and his Elegiac can be better explored by visiting the project’s official Facebook page, and of course if you have what it takes to dive deep into the crypts of Hades together with Zane you can purchase Pagan Storm from the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore. Hence, after listening to this potent and hellish opus by Elegiac, I bet USBM, our beloved American Black Metal, will be one of your favorite genres whenever straightforward and devilish extreme music is needed in your everyday life, with Pagan Storm becoming your personal reference in the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Purity of Winter, Pagan Storm and Ancient Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 De Tenebrarum Principio

Track listing
1. Rituals of War 8:17
2. Allegiance and Honor 5:07
3. Somber Morning 10:20
4. Through Ancient Eyes 7:33
5. Purity of Winter 7:03
6. Golden Fires of Victory 6:49
7. Pagan Storm 7:16
8. Ancient Spirit 9:41

Band members
Zane Young – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Dragonlord / Dominion (2018)

Exploring themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, here comes Eric Peterson’s fantastic Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.

After long and excruciating 13 years, San Francisco, California-based Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal horde Dragonlord, the brainchild of Testament’s own Eric Peterson where he’s able to showcase his darkened side, is finally back with a brand new opus, titled Dominion. Serving as the long-awaited follow-up to their 2005 release Black Wings of Destiny, but taking the fantasy and storytelling to a whole new level, Dominion explores themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, and things that have come to pass. In addition to Eric Peterson on vocals, guitar and bass, Dominion features the musical talents of Lyle Livingston (Psypheria) on orchestrated keys and pianos, Alex Bent (Trivium) on drums, and notable fantasy metal singer Leah McHenry (Leah) on female vocals and choirs, who has performed and recorded with members of renowned acts like Blind Guardian, Nightwish and Delain, among others.

Featuring a stunning artwork painted by Berlin-based Israeli artist and designer Eliran Kantor (Testament, Iced Earth, Sodom), Dominion is a dark fantasy fan’s musical dream, exploring everything from Nordic history to Lord of the Rings, with its eight songs creating a deep and heady musical journey rife with meaning and menace, from the blackest and loudest recesses of Eric Peterson’s mind. If you’re a fan of the superb work done by Mr. Peterson with Thrash Metal titans Testament, you might be surprised by how visceral, epic and imposing his guitar sounds with Dragonlord, not to mention his devilish gnarls, turning Dominion into a must-have for fans not only of the Symphonic Black Metal genre, but also for anyone else who admires high-quality and vibrant extreme music.

The always mesmerizing sounds of thunder and rain open the gates of the underworld in the intro titled Entrance, before Eric comes ripping with his ass-kicking guitar, all embraced by an epic atmosphere and suddenly exploding into the fantastic title-track Dominion, presenting insane keys and an imposing background choir, while Alex proves why he’s one of the most talented drummers of the current metal scene and Eric sounds bestial with his enraged roars. Put differently, this full-bodied and very detailed lesson in Symphonic Black Metal is what Dimmu Borgir should be doing, and their sonic onslaught of piercing and Stygian metal music goes on in Ominous Premonition, getting faster, more demonic and absolutely amazing, with the keys by Lyle being a thing of beauty while Eric not only growls like a demon, but his riffs and solos are also majestic as usual.

In Lamia it’s quite impressive how Eric’s riffs and Lyle’s keys and orchestrations blend so perfectly, with guest vocalist Leha providing a touch of delicacy and passion amidst all devastation blasted by the rest of the band; whereas epicness and lust beautifully flow from all instruments in the stunning Love of the Damned, a Symphonic Black Metal ballad where Eric’s vocals get more introspective and deep (and I would simply love to see them performing this song live). Then it’s time for a journey to the mighty North in Northlanders, with the bitterly cold riffs by Eric and the gripping keys by Lyle being enhanced by Alex’s precise and potent beats, while the ambience remains as epic as possible in a flawless hybrid between Black Metal and Symphonic Metal.

Dragonlord Dominion Ultimate Dragonlair Merch Bundle

Then featuring Tilen Hudrap (Vicious Rumors, Wartune, Thraw) on bass, The Discord of Melkor is perhaps the most Black Metal of all tracks, a dark symphony of classic and vibrant metal music that sounds very dense thanks to the brutality blasted by Alex on drums, whereas Serpents of Fire, the last song in Dominion, is just as fantastic as the rest of this very detailed and thrilling album, with Eric growling and gnarling demonically while Alex and Lyle generate a massive wall of symphonic and violent sounds, resulting in over eight minutes of a captivating and bold sonority for our total delectation, not to mention how its climatic ending gets closer to the Thrash Metal by Testament, therefore adding an extra pinch of adrenaline to the overall result.

If you think that my words are not enough to describe the music in Dominion, I highly recommend you go watch “The Making of Dominion” video series on YouTube (split into parts one, two and three), and in order to get more details about Dragonlord simply go visit their official Facebook page. In addition, from all album versions and bundles available in the market, apart from the digital options you should definitely take a look at the physical combos available from the Spinefarm Records’ webstore, especially the beyond superb “Ultimate Dragonlair” merch bundle, featuring the LP gatefold version with a large-size 20-page lyric booklet, the CD digipack, a copy of the unparalleled “The Burner” comic book, and a stylish T-shirt. But be aware that, once you enter the dangerous dominion of Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal ruled by Eric Peterson and his Dragonlord, there’s no turning back.

Best moments of the album: Dominion, Love of the Damned, Northlanders and The Discord of Melkor.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Spinefarm Records

Track listing
1. Entrance 2:34
2. Dominion 5:36
3. Ominous Premonition 4:40
4. Lamia 4:15
5. Love of the Damned 5:21
6. Northlanders 6:45
7. The Discord of Melkor (feat. Tilen Hudrap) 7:09
8. Serpents of Fire 8:09

Band members
Eric Peterson – vocals, guitars, bass
Lyle Livingston – keyboards, piano, orchestrations
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Leah McHenry – female vocals, choirs
Tilen Hudrap – bass “on Discord of Melkor”

Album Review – Tyrannic / Ethereal Sepulchre (2018)

A dark beast of doom in the form of an uncompromising album of true and raw heavy music, courtesy of a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Formed in 2010 under the antipodean sky of Sydney, Australia, the ruthless Thrash/Doom Metal entity known as Tyrannic has been paving their own twisted path with a dark and sinister mindset since their inception, and despite several lineup changes over the years the band’s founding member R has constantly driven the band forward from behind the kit with his signature vocal style and dedication to the “do-it-yourself” principles and aesthetic of the underground. After releasing a couple of demos, a split album and a live tape through the years, it’s time for Tyrannic to unleash their dark beast of doom with their honest and uncompromising debut album titled Ethereal Sepulchre, crafted with a very personal approach to carving its own unique and disgusting mould.

Featuring four long tracks of heinous, horrific and bizarre sounds, the most primitive rumblings straight from the beast’s belly, Ethereal Sepulchre offers the listener unadulterated metal from a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Heavy Metal. Furthermore, R describes the album as a release which “projects complete darkness in the most obscure form”, with its lyrical content being an expression of his innermost exploration into abstract thought, madness and insanity, all driven by experiential death worship. In other words, if you’re a fan of the obscure music by iconic bands from distinct genres but with the same appreciation for the dark, like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Emperor and Dark Funeral, among several others, get ready for a visceral and thunderous descent into the pits of hell with Tyrannic.

The first track of the album, a demonic welcome card by the trio entitled Serpent Scythe, brings forward classic, old school Black Metal from the very first second spiced up by hints of the Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath, with R’s growls being a demonic fusion of the vocals by Tom Araya (Slayer) and Mortuus (Marduk), while Morgan and J slash their strings in a hellish manner. And Tyrannic’s evil triumvirate keeps delivering darkness and dementia through their instruments in the sluggish and medieval Possession of Accursed Inheritance, offering over 12 minutes of obscurity in the form of Black Metal infused with Blackened Doom nuances. Moreover, R gets more and more deranged on vocals while his beats exhale madness and aggressiveness, until the band’s sonic onslaught of Stygian sounds ends with the creepy sound of a mysterious organ.

In the following tune, named Tyrannic Deluge, what starts in a somber Doom Metal-inspired manner suddenly explodes into flammable Black Metal from the netherworld, with J firing scorching hot riffs form his guitar. This can be considered the most complete and electrifying of all four tracks, remaining pulverizing throughout its 14 devilish minutes, flowing like an ardent blaze through the forest until its Funeral Doom-inspired grand finale. And R, J and Morgan unite their darkened forces once again for one final blast of hellish Black Metal in the title-track Ethereal Sepulchre, delivering blasphemous vociferations, somber riffs and bass punches, and pounding beats, evolving into a menacing hybrid between old school Black Metal and low-tuned, demonic Doom Metal that remains utterly disturbing and vile for our total delight.

In summary, if you are one of those metalheads who simply love to have your soul darkened by the damned sounds blasted by bands from the underworld of heavy music, then Ethereal Sepulchre should definitely become part of your devilish collection. Hence, in order to put your hands on such sulfurous album, simply go to the Séance Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you’ll find it in CD or in an old school, primeval tape format), as well as Discogs, to purchase your copy of it. And last but not least, don’t forget to show your support to such demented power trio by following them on Facebook, joining R, J and Morgan in their sonic crusade in the name of raw and aggressive Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: Tyrannic Deluge.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Séance Records

Track listing
1. Serpent Scythe 6:07
2. Possession of Accursed Inheritance 12:13
3. Tyrannic Deluge 14:05
4. Ethereal Sepulchre 7:00

Band members
R – vocals, drums
J – guitars
Morgan – bass

Album Review – Barkasth / Decaying (2018)

A new formation on the landscape of the Ukrainian Black Metal scene reveals the dark side of idolatry on human life and demonstrates the result of this pernicious influence in their debut full-length opus.

It’s time to get devilish, heavy and blasphemous with the interesting fusion of classic Black Metal with Melodic Black Metal and Blackened Doom blasted by a four-piece act hailing from Ukraine comprised of Arkhonth on guitars and vocals, Goreon also on guitars and vocals, Hagalth on bass and Malet on drums, collectively known as Barkasth. Formed in 2015 in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine located in the northeast part of the country, Barkasth are spreading darkness not only in their homeland but everywhere else in the world with their debut full-length album, simply titled Decaying.

A new formation on the landscape of the Ukrainian Black Metal scene, Barkasth’s source of inspiration is a radically negative attitude towards religion, in any of its manifestations, as the main cause of obscurantism and distorted perception of reality – the main indicator for the level of ignorance of a contemporary man. Throughout the seven unrelenting tracks in Decaying, this Stygian horde reveals the dark side of idolatry on human life and demonstrates the result of this pernicious influence. In other words, the music by Barkasth presents no artificial elements nor any other type of shenanigans added to it, going straight to the point and showing the world Black Metal is still one of the most effective weapons against all forms of religion.

And the opening track Begging By Freaks comes crushing with a classic and epic beginning that beautifully evolves into a mid-tempo, blackened sonority where harsh and demonic growls are supported by the scorching riffs by  Arkhonth and Goreon. Put differently, this is a sulfurous and austere display of Melodic Black Metal infused with elements from Blackened Doom and traditional Doom Metal that will please all fans of the genre, whereas an even darker atmosphere serves as the background for the hellish Alone, with Malet delivering rhythmic but at the same time fierce beats while the harsh vocals by Arkhonth exhale blasphemy and hatred, all enfolded by a mesmerizing vibe. And in Blood & Flesh the band accelerates their pace, therefore reaching a more traditional Black Metal sonority with Malet delivering sheer darkness through his blast beast while Arkhonth growls like a true Black Metal veteran, turning it into one of the top moments of the album without any doubt, also showcasing cutting riffs that will pierce through your ears in a violent manner.

Soul Away gets back to a more introspective and obscure hybrid of Black Metal and Blackened Doom, with Arkhonth and Goreon, together with bassist Hagalth, shredding their strings mercilessly, while all the growling and roaring gets as deep, reverberating and demonic as possible; but it’s when they focus on their darkest and most aggressive Black Metal side that they truly thrive, and the title-track Decaying is the perfect depiction of that, with the entire band sounding flammable and infernal, in special Malet with his always demolishing and melodic beats. Then their disturbing and demonic vein arises once again in the visceral hymn Shepherd, with the sound of guitars penetrating deep inside your flesh amidst a feast of desperate and deep roars, not to mention how vile the whole ambience feels. Lastly, as the icing on the cake we have another cryptic, low-tuned aria of darkness entitled …Where Was The Son Of God, where the Doom Metal-inspired beats by Malet are flawlessly complemented by the guitar duo’s anguished lines, resulting in a captivating and very harmonious ending to the album.

Decaying, which is available for a full (and darkened) listen on YouTube and for purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Svarga Music mailorder, might be far from being a masterpiece or a reference in Black Metal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an extremely well-crafted and solid album by this hardworking quartet, positioning Barkasth as one of the most promising new acts from the Ukrainian scene and definitely a band to keep an eye on in the coming years. Especially if, just like Barkasth’s band members, you also believe religion is one of the main factors in the imminent and inevitable downfall of our rotten society.

Best moments of the album: Blood & Flesh and Decaying.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Svarga Music

Track listing
1. Begging By Freaks 6:15
2. Alone 7:16
3. Blood & Flesh 5:53
4. Soul Away 5:17
5. Decaying 5:08
6. Shepherd 6:02
7. …Where Was The Son Of God 6:36

Band members
Arkhonth – guitars, vocals
Goreon – guitars, vocals
Hagalth – bass
Malet – drums

Album Review – Behemoth / I Loved You At Your Darkest (2018)

Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before, but still loyal to their devilish foundations.

“It doesn’t get more blasphemous than this.” Those are the words by the mastermind behind Polish Blackened Death Metal institution Behemoth, the iconic Adam “Nergal” Darski, regarding the title of their 11th studio album, I Loved You At Your Darkest, a beautiful, bold and captivating follow-up to their 2014 masterpiece The Satanist. And the band comprised of the aforementioned Nergal on lead vocals and guitar, Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber on the guitar, Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski on bass and Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński on drums is not exaggerating when they say their new album reeks of sheer blasphemy. “It’s a verse from the Bible,” Nergal reveals. “It’s actually a quote from Jesus Christ himself. For Behemoth to use it as the basis of our record, it’s sacrilege to the extreme.”

Musically speaking, I Loved You At Your Darkest, which features a stunning artwork by Italian artist Nicola Samori, is not too far from what they did in The Satanist, but that doesn’t mean it’s an extension of their previous album, sounding less ferocious, more polished, and with a much more melodic and dynamic approach. “I really wanted to redefine ourselves with this record,” Nergal explains. “I Loved You At Your Darkest is a more dynamic record. It’s extreme and radical on one hand, but it’s also more rock-oriented than any other Behemoth record.” Furthermore, the lyrics for each and every song of the album also reinforce that kind of religious provocation Behemoth have mastered through the years. “It’s very religion-driven, maybe more than anything we’ve done before,” Nergal offers. “But it’s not just cheap goading. I believe this is some deeper metal language. It’s art.” Hence, listening to I Loved You At Your Darkest is not a simple journey, as it will demand your full attention, seizing all your senses at once and inviting you to repeat that path over and over again, but never sounding or feeling the same.

A creepy and totally awesome children’s choir kicks off the album on a high (and devilish) note in the intro Solve, reciting some cryptic words (“Elohim, I shall not forgive! / Adonai, I shall not forgive! / Living God, I shall not forgive! / Jesus Christ, I forgive thee not!”) while the music grows slowly and darkly until Wolves ov Siberia comes crushing our heads, following a similar musical pattern from their previous album with Nergal and Seth piercing our souls with their guitars, while Inferno brings tons of intricacy to the music with his precise beats. And things only get better in God = Dog, a full-bodied lecture in modern-day Blackened Death Metal that will work fantastically when played live, with Nergal blasting haunting growls and roars while Orion slams his bass strings beautifully, not to mention those demonic, Damian-like kids who return in full force to intone the same words from the album’s intro, supporting Nergal’s vocals to perfection. And in the excellent Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica we’re treated to a very melodic and thrilling fusion of Black and Death Metal with nuances of Symphonic Black Metal, with its background organ bringing even more darkness to the the song’s already obscure, austere and blasphemous lyrics (“Eritis sicut dii / Thus sermonized the serpent ov Eden / Thus struck the breath ov the Earth / And thus flooded the blood ov the soil / Slither into the gaping void!”).

Then after such demolishing first batch of songs in I Loved You At Your Darkest, Behemoth deliver Bartzabel, perhaps the most Stygian, melodic and melancholic of all tracks, proving they don’t have to play at the speed of light to sound imposing and devilish, showcasing a beyond catchy and hypnotizing chorus while Orion and Inferno bring sheer heaviness to the sonority with their damned instruments. In the also thunderous If Crucifixion Was Not Enough… the band speeds things up a bit, with the guitars by Nergal and Seth sounding ferocious but very harmonious at the same time while Inferno brings the usual intricacy in his beats to a whole new level; and leaning towards classic Black Metal we have Angelvs XIII, a song where Nergal’s growls sound and feel truly enraged and demonic, with the band’s guitar duo slashing their strings mercilessly and leaving the listener completely disoriented. Moreover, there’s no time to breathe as Behemoth keep darkening our minds and souls in Sabbath Mater, another bestial display of Blackened Death Metal made in Poland bringing to our avid ears an excellent job done on the guitars while Inferno’s fast and complex beats will hammer your head in a vibrant way.

Then a serene, almost acoustic intro evolves into a full-bodied aria of darkness and blasphemy titled Havohej Pantocrator (and please note “Havohej” is simply “Jehovah” backwards), sounding even even more melancholic than “Bartzabel” thanks to a brilliant performances by all band members, all enfolded by first-class poetics lyrics (“Our father, who art in hell / Unhallowed be Thy name / Thy legions come / Thy enemies begone / On Earth as it is in the Netherworld / Embrace our souls untraveled / Let us sail to the farthest sea / Ignite our craving hearts / Illuminate our ageless will”). In Rom 5:8 the band gets back to a more traditional vibe, blasting their core Blackened Death Metal with highlights to the perfect sync between Orion and Inferno with their rumbling bass and demented beats, respectively, whereas We Are the Next 1000 Years, the second to last song in I Loved You At Your Darkest, once again sounds closer to what they did in The Satanist, which obviously means awesomeness in the form of extreme music. Nergal delivers another bestial vocal performance, while the sound of the guitars gets more electrified and menacing than ever, flowing majestically until the outro Coagvla puts an end to a fantastic (and utterly blasphemous, as already mentioned) album of Extreme Metal by Behemoth, sounding like the grand finale to a theatrical play from the depths of hell.

In summary, I Loved You At Your Darkest (available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale HERE) is still Behemoth, but maybe not the same Behemoth you got used to. Do not expect to listen to The Satanist, nor to any of their old records, but at the same time there’s no need to panic as the Behemoth we learned to love is still there. I personally think I Loved You At Your Darkest might cause some controversy among admirers of the band, as their diehard, old school followers and their post-The Satanist fans might never reach an agreement if the album is actually good or not, but I don’t fear for the future of the band. Quite the contrary, although I still consider The Satanist their best release to date, I must admit I enjoyed a lot the direction Nergal took with the band in I Loved You At Your Darkest, providing the listener something new, something very melodic and groovy, but still loyal to the blasphemy and heaviness of their foundations.

Best moments of the album: God = Dog, Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica, Bartzabel and Havohej Pantocrator.

Worst moments of the album: Rom 5:8.

Released in 2018 Mystic Production

Track listing
1. Solve 2:04
2. Wolves ov Siberia 2:54
3. God = Dog 3:58
4. Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica 4:49
5. Bartzabel 5:01
6. If Crucifixion Was Not Enough… 3:16
7. Angelvs XIII 3:41
8. Sabbath Mater 4:56
9. Havohej Pantocrator 6:04
10. Rom 5:8 4:22
11. We Are the Next 1000 Years 3:23
12. Coagvla (Instrumental) 2:04

Japanese Edition bonus track
13. O Pentagram Ignis 4:48

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Guest musicians
Dziablas – backing vocals
Michał Łapaj – Hammond organs
Krzysztof “Siegmar” Oloś – samples

Album Review – Dakhma / Hamkar Atonement (2018)

Do you dare to submerge thyself within the daeva’s very depths? Then let this peculiar Swiss duo offer you the perfect soundtrack to that with their brand new opus of Zoroastrian Death Music.

Dakhma (Avestan for “grave”) is a term for a ”Tower of Silence” (which is an English neologism), a circular, raised structure used by Zoroastrians for exposure of the dead, particularly to scavenging birds for the purposes of excarnation (although in the Avesta, the term is pejorative and does not signify a construction of any kind). In heavy music, the term is used to name the cryptic and hellish Blackened Death Metal entity Dakhma, who are releasing their first full-length opus, the enigmatic Hamkar Atonement. Formed in 2014 in Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland, the band comprised of Kerberos on “Howls of Druj and Rites of Purification” (vocals, guitar and bass) and H.A.T.T. on “Thunderstorm of Daeva” (drums) plays what they like to call “Zoroastrian Death Music”, with their new album being a work of towering immensity, of unorthodox ritualism and subverted bestiality, descending and ascending with seven hymns within a staggering 61 minutes in a total sensory overload, an immersion that begets annihilation that begets rebirth.

As Dakhma explain of the title, the Avestan word “Hamkar,” which literally translates to “co-worker” or “helper,” is used in reference to the daeva of Angra Mainyu (Ahriman in middle Persia), himself the omnimalevolent and most destructive spirit. In the collection of texts describing Zoroastrian cosmogony and creation, traditionally called Bundahishn, Angra Mainyu creates a horde of daeva to counter the creation of cosmos by Ahura Mazda (Ohrmazd or Ormuzd in middle Persian), with each daeva mirroring an opposite Amesha Spenta. In mirroring the tasks of the Amesha Spentas as servants of Ohrmazd, daeva are the instrument through which Ahriman creates all the horrors in the world. Following the interpretation laid out in texts such as the “Shayest ne shayest,” where the daeva are seen as being utterly real and not mere philosophical representations, the music contained on Hamkar Atonement describes creation through the ultimate destruction of Ohrmazd’s good deeds, good thoughts, and good work by the daeva. Hamkar Atonement begins with the demise of Ohrmazd and therefore the destruction of all that is holy on the earth, allowing the daeva to roam free and corrupt human existence, described in greater detail throughout the album. Each song serves a specific narrative purpose, be it the dedication to a specific daeva or describing the results of their exploits on earth.

An esoteric intro ignites an 11-minute feast of wicked and tribal sounds titled The Glorious Fall of Ohrmazd (Hail Death, Triumphant), with the vociferations by Kerberos crawling deep inside your mind, mesmerizing your senses and haunting your soul, until all hell breaks loose and sheer darkness is unleashed with H.A.T.T. crushing his drums manically. And their scorching hot riffs, thunderous bass lines and pounding beats keep shaking the foundations of the earth in Akhoman (Spill the Blood), another full-bodied display of their Zoroastrian Death Music where Kerberos delivers some deep, obscure roars, effectively blending old school Black Metal with the visceral sound of Death Metal, just as devastating as its predecessor. Following such distinguished tune we have Varun (Of Unnatural Lust), where tribal, ancient drums are gradually joined by eerie noises and tones, until the music explodes into rumbling and vile Black Metal for our total delight. Furthermore, the sound of the bass by Kerberos is amazingly thunderous and vibrant, adding an extra layer of dementia to the overall result.

In Nanghait (Born of Fire) the duo sounds even more tribal than before, generating a reverberating exhibit of Black and Death Metal led by the demonic roars by Kerberos while H.A.T.T. is simply bestial on drums, with their wicked extravaganza of sounds going on and on, leaving you disoriented and eager for more of their Blackened Death Metal, ending in an absolutely raw and cryptic manner. Then smooth and serene tones permeate the air in the atmospheric instrumental bridge Spendarmad (Holy Devotion), elevating your soul to new heights and preparing you for the Stygian and visceral Gannag Menog (Foul Death, Triumphant), where the duo takes their Black Metal to a more menacing level, with the guttural growls by Kerberos growing in intensity and getting as deep as hell. In addition, the piercing riffs and bass punches by Kerberos bring tons of electricity to the musicality, with the song’s ending being as crazy and imposing as possible,  building an instant connection with the closing hymn titled …Of Great Prophets, with Kerberos extracting a strident sound from his guitar; and just like what happened throughout the entire album, the music remains mysterious and austere from start to finish, taking you on a one-way trip to the band’s dissident world of Extreme Metal, also showcasing somber breaks intertwined with pure devastation that turn the experience of listening to this breathtaking song truly unique.

In summary, it’s not every day that we face something so peculiar and gripping as the music by Dakhma, with Hamkar Atonement representing to perfection the true meaning of Zoroastrian Death Music. In order to show your utmost support to this infernal Swiss duo,  go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and grab your copy of the whimsical Hamkar Atonement from the Iron Bonehead Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, as well as from the Hells Headbangers’ webstore, from Record Shop X or from the Shadow Kingdom Records’ webstore. In other words, do you dare to submerge thyself within the daeva’s very depths? Then let Dakhma offer you the perfect soundtrack to that with Hamkar Atonement.

Best moments of the album: Akhoman (Spill the Blood) and Nanghait (Born of Fire).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Iron Bonehead

Track listing
1. The Glorious Fall of Ohrmazd (Hail Death, Triumphant) 11:08
2. Akhoman (Spill the Blood) 11:55
3. Varun (Of Unnatural Lust) 5:24
4. Nanghait (Born of Fire) 10:58
5. Spendarmad (Holy Devotion) 4:13
6. Gannag Menog (Foul Death, Triumphant) 10:33
7. …Of Great Prophets 16:01

Band members
Kerberos – vocals, guitars, bass
H.A.T.T. – drums

Guest musician
Menetekel – High Priest incantation on “Gannag Menog (Foul Death Triumphant)”

Album Review – Tannoiser / Alamut EP (2018)

An excellent album of crushing, distorted and obscure sounds, courtesy of an Italian power trio ready to spread darkness in the name of old school Sludge and Doom Metal.

Forged during the summer of 2015 in Salò, a town and comune in the Province of Brescia in the region of Lombardy on the banks of Lake Garda, in Italy, Stoner/Doom Metal power trio Tannoiser is a reality among us with their slow and obscure music inspired by cult acts such as Celtic Frost, Electric Wizard and Cathedral, also inserting some stylistic elements dear to the primordial Black Metal into the mix. Comprised of Bruno Almici on vocals and bass, Francesco Bellucci on the guitar and Davide Serpelloni on drums, Tannoiser are unleashing upon humanity their brand new EP, entitled Alamut, aiming at spreading darkness through their low-tuned, rumbling instruments and screams, all in the name of old school Doom Metal.

The name of the album is a clear reference to the mountain fortress, whose remains are located in the current Iran and which served as the basis for the sect of the Nizarites, better known as Hashashin, a story distinguished by mysteries that weave reality and legend. The dark, also understood as a lack of certainties, is another underlying macroscopic theme, starting from the subject chosen for the cover itself, the cannabis plant, whose history in the last century has been characterized by obscurantism and demonization, and which is linked to the history of the stronghold of Alamut. Musically speaking, as aforementioned Alamut brings to the listener doomed and distorted heavy music that lives up to the legacy of the genre, turning the album into a must-listen for diehard Doom Metal fans in pursuit of fresh alternatives in the market.

In the opening track, curiously named Baba Vanga after a blind Bulgarian mystic, clairvoyant, and herbalist, a beyond weird intro quickly explodes into piercing and rumbling Stoner Metal led by the low-tuned bass and the anguished roars by Bruno, while Francesco slashes his strings in a vibrant fusion of old school Doom Metal and modern Rock N’ Roll. And the trio wastes no time and keep firing their fun and vibrant Stoner Metal in Paradacsa, with the bass punches being nicely supported by Davide’s steady and fierce beats. Moreover, the song presents an even more menacing vibe than its predecessor, being highly recommended for banging your head really hard in pitch black darkness; whereas the scorching hot buzzing blasted by Bruno from his bass ignites a somber Doom Metal feast titled Necrophage, where he also growls in a perturbing way while Davide keeps pounding our heads with his drums, with the music flowing demonically until its crushing finale.

March of Wrecks continues to pave the power trio’s path of obscurity, anger and pain, even bringing more aggressive nuances from Black Metal to their dense musicality, with Francesco doing an awesome job with his razor-edged riffs, while The Void showcases the most serene start of all songs from the EP, sounding melancholic and eerie with Bruno’s Stygian bass lines taking the lead while Francesco’s guitar lines once again bring electricity to the music. Then it’s Davide who takes care of kicking off their last breath of top-of-the-line Doom and Stoner Metal, titled Mekkano, remaining as dark as doomed music can be, with all band members adding their touch of malignancy to the sonority, especially Francesco with his mesmerizing riffs.

Entering the dark and sluggish world of Tannoiser is quite easy, as all you need to do is follow them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and of course purchase your copy of Alamut (available for a full listen on YouTube and on SoundCloud) directly from their BandCamp page or from Amazon. Tannoiser were spot on with their thrilling fusion of Stoner and Doom Metal in Alamut, and apparently the band will only grow stronger and stronger as time goes by, pointing to a bright future not only for the band but for the entire genre as well.

Best moments of the album: Baba Vanga and March of Wrecks.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Leynir Booking & Prod

Track listing
1. Baba Vanga 4:11
2. Paradacsa 5:33
3. Necrophage 5:20
4. March of Wrecks 3:59
5. The Void 5:52
6. Mekkano 4:38

Band members
Bruno Almici – vocals, bass
Francesco Bellucci – guitar
Davide Serpelloni – drums