Album Review – Angra Demana / Triptych Of Decay EP (2019)

From the the boundless darkness of hell, here comes an infernal Black Metal duo armed to the teeth with their sulfurous and violent new EP.

Formed in 2007 in the city of Karaj, Iran, but currently located in Innsbruck, capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol, Ambient/Atmospheric Black Metal entity Angra Demana is unleashing upon humanity a brand new EP entitled Triptych Of Decay, marking a new beginning for the band such is the difference between this EP and the band’s debut full-length Dissolve Into Nothingness, released in 2012. For instance, the meaning of Angara Damana (which by the way was the band’s past name) is based according to Zoroaster’s book, stating there are four levels of hell, with the first three levels, Malicious, Scurrility and Malfesant, being the upper levels and beneath them is the boundless darkness, which is Angara Damana or “Angra Demana”.

Lead singer Atöm Krieg and guitarist and bassist Radman, together with guest drummers Jocke Wallgren (Amon Amarth) and Fredrik Widigs (Marduk), turned Triptych of Decay into a handful of surprises with their creativity, rage and dexterity, successfully avoiding to enter the mined fields of eccentricity or elitist avantgarde. Featuring a Stygian artwork by Vojtěch Doubek (Moonroot), Triptych Of Decay will lacerate your damned soul without a single drop of mercy, elevating the name of Angra Demana to new heights in the underground Extreme Metal scene, and leaving you eager for more of their intricate and vile Black Metal.

Brutal and raw from the very first second, Rupture is a true headbanging massacre featuring the demolishing Jocke on drums, or in other words, it’s a classic Black Metal composition where Radman fires sulfurous riffs from his guitar, not to mention how Stygian the lyrics vociferated by Atöm are (“Darkness emerged – enlightenment of my sight / It granted me a world , far beyond this life / To the seclusion atmosphere of flawless awareness / In resistance, transgression against this mortal breed / In a world of forgotten deserted mankind / I start a battle between glory and corruption”). And Jocke once again lends his refined technique to the ominous Erode, where the riffs by Radman will cut your skin deep while Atöm continues to bark rabidly, sounding wicked and diabolical from start to finish. Furthermore, its background keys give it an extra touch of obscurity, with the bass lines by Radman dictating the song’s lugubrious rhythm. Then it’s time for Fredrik to kick some ass on drums in Extinction, and the final result is a berserk onrush of Black Metal sounds. Radman sounds infernal on the guitar, as well as Atöm with his deranged roars and grim vocalizations, effectively giving life to the song’s apocalyptic words (“And the sickness will be erased / When the last scream drift away in the eternal cosmos / Peace through extinction of flesh and blood / And finally all is drenched in thy wisdom”). In my humble opninion, Angra Demana couldn’t have ended the album in a more hellish manner.

In a nutshell, the music by Angra Demana is evil, frantic, chaotic, ritualistic and sulfurous, exactly how we expect a good Black Metal band to sound, and Triptych Of Decay is the perfect depiction of their obscurity. With that said, let’s show our support to such distinct underground duo by following them on Facebook, and especially by purchasing their brand new EP directly from their BandCamp page, keeping the flame of devilish and atmospheric Black Metal burning bright for centuries to come, it doesn’t matter if it’s in Iran, in Austria or in any other part of our decaying world.

Best moments of the album: Extinction.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Rupture 7:06
2. Erode 5:55
3. Extinction 6:05

Band members
Atöm Krieg – vocals
Radman – guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Jocke Wallgren – drums on “Rupture” and “Erode”
Fredrik Widigs – drums on “Extinction”

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Album Review – Marduk / Viktoria (2018)

A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound, proving once again why they’re one of the biggest names in the history of extreme music.

Following a similar (and obviously amazing) pattern from their previous albums, focusing on historical World War II lyrical themes like what they did in the demolishing Frontschwein, released in 2015, Swedish Black Metal regiment Marduk returns to the battlefield with another skull-crushing release, entitled Viktoria, the fourteenth studio album in the undisputed career of those Babylonian gods of extreme music. From the devastating sonic assault blasted by the band on the opening track “Werwolf” to the very last second in the closing tune “Silent Night”, Marduk deliver a furious and aggressive fusion of their classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound, proving once again why they’re one of the biggest names in the history of extreme music.

And the horde comprised of Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén on vocals, Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson on the guitar, Magnus “Devo” Andersson on bass and Fredrik Widigs on drums is not afraid at all of the controversy and negative reaction that the society and the media might have regarding their music and lyrics. “Overall, I would say we have a fascination with the whole war machine,” comments Morgan. “At least from my point of view, the Germans had the most fascinating machinery and equipment. Viktoria is not a standpoint, however. It’s just a reflection of history, the way it happened. With that in mind, it’s more interesting to write a soundtrack tied to specific historical events. Look at movies, for example. They’ve tackled both sides of World War II. So, Viktoria is more about history. Nothing more. Nothing less,” the axeman clarifies.

Werwolf (German for “werewolf”), which was a Nazi plan that began development in 1944 to create a resistance force which would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany, was the inspiration for the opening track in Viktoria, with the wailing sirens warning about the Black Metal attack that’s about to begin and with Mortuus sounding insane and enraged on vocals while Evil delivers his usual scorching riffs in two intense minutes of extreme music. Following that demonic start we have June 44 (the best known D-Day is during World War II, on June 6, 1944, the day of the Normandy landings, initiating the Western Allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi Germany), closer to their more classic sonority with Fredrik crushing his drums in a perfect depiction of how warlike Black Metal should always sound, with the rumbling bass by Devo adding more ferocity to the overall result and the lyrics vociferated by Mortuus matching the music flawlessly (“Stubborn Jabos rip the sky / on wings of inferno into chaos / Burnt offering – killing ground / drowning in blood over and over again / See naval fire rain down / living and dead unite in a stream of anguish / A dance in the sands / of Juno and Sword / a waltz in the flames / of June 44”). And their devastation goes on in Equestrian Bloodlust, a straightforward Black Metal blasted by the quartet where Mortuus sounds even more demented than in their previous albums, while Evil and Devo are in absolute sync with their strings, generating those reverberating, evil tones we all love so much.

Tiger I, a German heavy tank of World War II deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe which final designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E, gave the Wehrmacht its first armoured fighting vehicle that mounted the 8.8 cm KwK 36 gun. Musically speaking, it feels like a natural “sequel” to Frontschwein’s “503”, also bringing elements of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom; however, it’s not as imposing and a bit generic, despite its austere words (“Teutonic knights of old march once again / Grand horse of steel, sword of flame – the ground is shaking / Massive apparatus of death, 58 tons of hate / unforgivingly rolling in to seal your fate”). Narva, the third largest city in Estonia, suffered devastating bombing raids on March 6 and 7, 1944 by the Soviet Air Force, destrying the baroque old town. By the end of July, 98% of Narva had been destroyed, and the music blasted by Marduk flawlessly depicts the utter devastation that happened in the city, with Fredrik once again sounding bestial on drums while Mortuus growls and gnarls manically (not to mention the song’s uprising ending). In other words, this will certainly inspire fans to slam like beasts into the circle pit during their live concerts. After such awesome tune, the slashing riffs by Evil ignite the heavy and headbanging The Last Fallen, exploding into berserk Black Metal led by Fredrik and his machine gun-like beats and fills, being effectively accompanied by the thunderous bass by Devo.

The title-track Viktoria is that trademark in-your-face Black Metal by Marduk, sounding as frantic and furious as it can be, with Mortuus spearheading the horde with his sick growling. In addition, there’s even space for some welcome progressiveness added to the sound, not to mention how infernal Fredrik sounds behind his drums. Then we have The Devil’s Song, or “SS marschiert in Feindesland” (“SS march in enemy territory”), also known as “Teufelslied” (“The Devil’s song” in German), a marching song of the Waffen-SS (the armed wing of the Nazi Party’s SS organization) during World War II, and Marduk’s “tribute” to that song is simply devastating, with the initial riffs by the bulldozer Evil piercing your brain mercilessly before all hell breaks loose. Last but not least, closing the album we have another somber, sluggish tune inspired by the most demonic form of Doom Metal, named Silent Night, representing the aftermath, the sadness and pain post-war, with a perturbing performance by Mortuus on vocals. and while listening to this crushing chant don’t forget to break your neck and spinal cord with some full-bodied headbanging.

In summary, if you love old school Black Metal and also nurture a deep interested in all things World War I and II, Viktoria is a must-have album in your “collection of evil”. The Swedish quartet takes no prisoners in their battle for extreme music, and their streak of amazing albums just keeps growing with Viktoria, which by the way is on sale at several locations as you can see HERE. Moreover, as Marduk are extremely active in the scene, always touring all over the world, keep an eye on their official Facebook page to be promptly informed of when they’re about to unleash a brutal Black Metal war in your city. Then, after the concert is over, if you’re one of the survivors you can celebrate “Viktoria” together with one of the most important and decimating Black Metal hordes of all time.

Best moments of the album: June 44, Narva, Viktoria and The Devil’s Song.

Worst moments of the album: Tiger I.

Released in 2018 Century Media

Track listing
1. Werwolf 2:02
2. June 44 3:49
3. Equestrian Bloodlust 2:51
4. Tiger I 4:12
5. Narva 4:31
6. The Last Fallen 4:25
7. Viktoria 3:26
8. The Devil’s Song 3:46
9. Silent Night 4:12

Band members
Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén – vocals
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – guitar
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – bass
Fredrik Widigs – drums

Guest musicians
Ella Thornell, Moa Asp & Tuva Ekstrand – backing vocals or “Werwolf”

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

Blending a dark atmosphere with Middle-Eastern riffs and incendiary lyrics, here comes a fearless Lebanese horde armed with their brand new album of skull-crushing Black Metal.

Brought into being as a one-man project in 1998 by Anthony Kaoteon (Death Drive) in the scorching fires of Ashrafieh, one of the oldest districts of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, under the name Chaotaeon (from the merger of Chaotic and Aeon), Black/Death Metal act Kaoteon is one of those bands that keep fighting for metal and for freedom of speech no matter how hideous the consequences might be for them. For instance, in 2001 the band was forced to change their name to Kaoteon after an incident with the authorities in which they got arrested, where the police though that Chaotaeon was the translation of “devils” from Arabic, leading to false accusations that the band is satanic. In addition, on December 20, 2003 while the band was playing live, a handful of undercover police entered the club with automatic rifles, took the band hostage, locked them in the trunks of unmarked cars, and interrogated them for days, shuttling them from one location to another.

Blending a brutally dark atmosphere with riffs that range from anthemic post-rock to Middle-Eastern folklore and incendiary lyrics driven by the band’s background in their turbulent homeland, Kaoteon (now based in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands) return once again to darken our souls with their brand new opus titled Damnatio Memoriae, the ancient Latin punishment of eradicating a person or figure from all memory and mention. Featuring a somber artwork by Mexican musician and artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts) as well as bass wizard Linus Klausenitzer of Obscura and drum master Fredrik Widigs of Marduk as session musicians, joining full-time members Anthony Kaoteon on guitar and Walid Wolflust (Ordum) on vocals, Damnatio Memoriae brings nine skull-crushing, unrelenting and explosive Black Metal hymns that will undoubtedly leave you feeling ravaged and raw after all is said and done.

The title-track Damnatio Memoriae is a modern and vibrant Black Metal composition that will fulminate your senses, bringing forward sheer aggression from the very first second. Furthermore, Fredrik as we all know is a demonic beast on drums, generating the perfect demolishing vibe for Walid to declaim the song’s controversial lyrics through his enraged roars (“My heaven differs from yours. / Where is the loving light? Where is the eternal peace? / Desolate, grey, tyrannic, lonesome / Lit with my passion to burn”). If that start wasn’t demented enough for you, Kaoteon keep burning our souls with their blackened music in Barren Lands, where Anthony is absolutely on fire with his guitar accompanied by Linus and his menacing bass, sounding devastating from start to finish, whereas in Raging HellFire they managed to sound even more visceral and disturbing, with Walid barking and screaming like a rabid beast in a flammable display of brutal (and therefore fantastic) Black Metal (and don’t forget to check the song’s guitar playthrough by Anthony HERE).

In the pulverizing Venom of Exalt, be prepared to be completely crushed by the nonstrop blast beats by Fredrik, while Anthony delivers more of his always insane riffs. In addition, Walid is in his most hellish mode, growling harsher and harsher as the music evolves in this tune highly recommended for lovers of true extreme music. Taking their sonority to the extreme, Kaoteon deliver another explosion of devilish growls, intricate beats and endless hatred flowing from Anthony’s stringed ax in The Will, with the desperate screams by Walid increasing the impact of this already boisterous song. And a soulful guitar solo by Anthony ignites a feast of darkened sounds entitled Non Serviam, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Blackened Death Metal in a dense and menacing ambience. Needless to say, that powerful combination turns it into one of the top songs of the entire album.

In Light of Compassion their sounding keeps growing darker and darker, showcasing a fierce neck-breaking riff supported by the pounding drums by Fredrik, with Walid firing some deep enraged gnarls. Moreover, the last part of this chant is a thrilling Black Metal demolition with hints of old school Death Metal, piercing our minds mercilessly. The second to last tune in Damnatio Memoriae, the incredible sonic onrush of Black and Death Metal named Into the Mouth of Kaos, presents a high level of dementia bursting from Walid’s screams, with the riffs by Anthony exhaling pure Black Metal while Fredrik doesn’t stop detonating our ears with his crushing performance. And last but not least, it’s time for A Breath, a slightly different version of Kaoteon bringing forward more progressiveness than their usual destruction thanks to the intricate guitar lines by Anthony, and the final result couldn’t sound more compelling and vibrant, ending this sensational album of Extreme Metal in the best way possible.

While online, I suggest you go check out this interesting article about Kaoteon and their fascinating origin story via Revolver Magazine, giving you a much better idea of how hard it is to be a metal fan in the Middle-East. As a matter of fact, Kaoteon said in a group statement that “Lebanese metalheads are some of the friendliest and most amazing people to hang out with. It is sad to see great potential in this world gone to waste because someone somewhere decided to label people at birth and imprison them into their borders. The scene itself is thirsty for metal, so international bands should expect amazing interaction from the crowd. The Dutch scene – where we exist now – shows strong support for local talent, unlike the Lebanese scene. The Dutch scene loves their bands above all, while we feel that the Lebanese metal scene favors the international bands.” Hence, why not showing your support to true Lebanese metal by liking Kaoteon’s official Facebook page, subscribing to their YouTube channel and, above all that, purchasing the awesome Damnatio Memoriae from their BandCamp page, from CD Baby, from iTunes or from Amazon? Bands like Kaoteon are the reason why we all know from the bottom of our hearts that heavy music will never die, proving the passion for metal and for freedom of speech can beat any type of adversity, even if that means you’re putting your life at risk.

Best moments of the album: Damnatio Memoriae, Raging HellFire, Non Serviam and Into the Mouth of Kaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Damnatio Memoriae 4:33
2. Barren Lands 5:26
3. Raging HellFire 4:26
4. Venom of Exalt 4:35
5. The Will 5:41
6. Non Serviam 4:46
7. Light of Compassion 4:29
8. Into the Mouth of Kaos 4:18
9. A Breath 4:57

Band members
Walid WolfLust – vocals
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars

Guest musicians
Linus Klausenitzer – bass (session)
Fredrik Widigs – drums (session)

Album Review – Marduk / Frontschwein (2015)

The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.

Rating3

coverWhen Swedish Black Metallers Marduk added interesting topics such as Third Reich history and World War II to their lyrical/conceptual themes, starting with their 1999 album Panzer Division Marduk, I guess many of their diehard fans weren’t really sure what was going to happen to those guys that once stated they wanted to become the most blasphemous band in the world. If you look at their very first demo, the controversial Fuck Me Jesus, which was banned in several countries following its release due to its explicit cover art, and look at their brand new album, Frontschwein, it’s noticeable they’re not as blasphemous as before. But who said that change wasn’t for good?

Following their excellent 2012 release Serpent Sermon, Frontschwein (their thirteenth studio album) is not only a lesson in Black Metal, but also in Military and World War History, and let’s face it: no other music genre can represent the agonies and destruction caused by any war better than Death/Black Metal. Frontschwein is a war-themed concept album with every single song talking about a specific fact related to war, all of course impregnated by Marduk’s obscure musicality. If you love reading and studying about war, and if you’re a metalhead whose blood boils to the sound of nonstop blast beats and harsh growls, this album is perfect for you.

Despite its melodic intro, the opening track Frontschwein (which by the way means “frontline soldier”) quickly turns into badass Black Metal, with the unstoppable drumming by Fredrik Widigs and the truly devilish vocals by Mortuus (especially during the chorus) making sure any candy-asses stay away from this album. On the other hand, I have no idea what the band wanted to do with The Blond Beast: what the hell are those horrible “pop music” drums? I mean, the riffs and vocals are quite decent, but those lame commercial beats ruin the entire song.

bandFortunately, that’s the only mistake the band made in Frontschwein. In the bloodcurdling Afrika, Marduk offer us an extremely dense music carnage, with Morgan and Widigs redefining the word “wicked” with their sick guitar lines and bestial drumming respectively. The slower but completely demonic tune Wartheland, which talks about a Nazi German administrative subdivision formed from Polish territory annexed in 1939, focuses on the desperate screams by Mortuus boosted by a maleficent atmosphere. Following that lesson in vileness,  in Rope of Regret the band returns with their “heavy artillery”, and in spite of all the sonic insanity their music is far from being a mess, as you can perfectly listen to and enjoy each instrument throughout the entire song.

Between the Wolf-Packs couldn’t sound more traditional, displaying all those unique elements that fans enjoy in Black Metal, whereas Nebelwerfer (or “Smoke Mortar”, a World War II German series of weapons) emanates darkness, with an incredible Doom Metal ambience mainly due to its slow-paced grim rhythm. And Falaise: Cauldron of Blood gets back to straightforward Black Metal, with highlights to the interesting addition of some slower breaks amidst the furious blast beats, and to Mortuus sounding even more amazing with his 100% barbaric guttural vocals.

mediabook

Frontschwein Mediabook Limited Edition

The longest track of all, Doomsday Elite, is another “anthem of despair” without a single second of peace, with all band members giving their best and adding a lot of power to the song, while the excellent 503, which I believe talks about German Tiger Tank Battalion 503 in World War II, sounds actually like a tank: it’s slow, extremely heavy and very imposing, with its Doom Metal elements and gruesome bass lines by Devo turning it into an outstanding moment of the album. And finally, the last regular track in Frontschwein, Thousand-Fold Death, makes sure no one survives the band’s brutal assault. It’s a nonstop tune that will put a huge smile on our faces and an even more gigantic pain in our necks, with kudos to Morgan for his awesome guitar riffs.

The mediabook limited edition of Frontschwein comes with a very generic bonus entitled Warschau III: Necropolis (a variation for the city of Warsaw, Poland), an instrumental track with some obscure growls, but nothing that adds any value to that version of the album. Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you’re a huge fan of Black Metal or not, the new album by Marduk is worth a listen. If you don’t know the band that well, you’ll be surprised by how entertaining their apocalyptic dark music can be, and if you’re a longtime fan of the band, I guess I don’t need to say this is a mandatory addition to your evil collection.

Best moments of the album: Frontschwein, Afrika, 503 and Thousand-Fold Death.

Worst moments of the album: The Blond Beast.

Released in 2015 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Frontschwein 3:12
2. The Blond Beast 4:26
3. Afrika 4:00
4. Wartheland 4:17
5. Rope of Regret 3:52
6. Between the Wolf-Packs 4:28
7. Nebelwerfer 6:17
8. Falaise: Cauldron of Blood 4:58
9. Doomsday Elite 8:11
10. 503 5:12
11. Thousand-Fold Death 3:46

Mediabook Limited Edition Bonus Track
12.Warschau III: Necropolis 2:59

Band members
Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén – vocals
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – guitar
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – bass
Fredrik Widigs – drums