Album Review – Der Rote Milan / Moritat (2019)

Enjoy these German tales from the past connected to the present through themes of freedom, fear and fighting oneself in the face of death, all embraced by first-class Black Metal.

I, II, III, IV and V. More than just Roman numerals, those represent the five pillars of a German Black Metal unity known as Der Rote Milan, who are beyond ready to keep haunting  our souls with their second full-length opus, entitled Moritat, the follow-up to and a logical progression from their 2016 debut album Aus der Asche. Not only that, their new album can also be considered a concept release, as Moritat tells local stories based on real events during a thirty-year war that took place during the 17th century, with its central character being the historical figure Schinderhannes, an outlaw considered by some to be the “German Robin Hood”.  These stories, which take place in the southwestern Germany’s Hunsrück region, are connected to the present through themes of freedom, fear and fighting oneself in the face of death.

Forged in 2015 in the fires of Trier, a southwestern German city in the Moselle wine region lying in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg, Der Rote Milan (which would translate to English as “the red kite”) continue to play Melodic Black Metal in Moritat, finding their identity in a combination of vicious blast beats, catchy melodies, and calm, thoughtful moments. The lyrics are performed in German to underscore the local character of the stories, giving the whole experience of listening to their music an extra touch of aggressiveness, obscurity and pure evil. Comprised of six very detailed and bold songs, Moritat surpasses the 40-minute barrier in great fashion, positioning this cryptic entity as one of the most promising new names of the underground German scene.

Gentle notes gradually morph into a brutal but very melodic devastation entitled Die Habsucht (or “the greed” in English), where IV begins fulminating everything and everyone with his demonic beats while lead singer III fires some absolutely enraged roars, with the music flowing majestically until a somber and atmospheric break takes over, powerfully getting back to an infernal Black Metal ending. Then it’s time for I and II to pulverize our ears with their scorching riffs in Drohende Schatten (“threatening shadows”), a lesson in Melodic Black Metal by this Teutonic horde, sounding even more demented and violent than the opening track, whereas Gnosis der Vergänglichkeit (“gnosis of transience”) is an ode to all things dark and mournful with a melancholic Atmospheric Black Metal-inspired intro where III’s otherworldly growls and vociferations sound utterly anguished and grim, while V keeps the ambience menacing with his low-tuned bass.

And that intricate and lugubrious vibe keeps haunting our souls in Der letzte Galgen (“the last gallows”), where III growls demonically while his bandmates extract the most vicious and piercing sounds possible from their instruments, with IV once again stealing the spotlight with his precision and technique, getting almost tribal with his beats at times (which in the end enhances the song’s taste and punch even more). There’s no time to breathe with more of their vibrant fusion of classic Black Metal with distinct melodic and atmospheric styles in Der Findling (“the boulder”), reaching deep inside our hearts and blackening them beautifully, with I, II and V being in a fantastic and extremely evil sync with their strings, before the title-track Moritat (“ballad”) brings to our metallic ears 12 minutes of visceral sounds and noises, with the amount of aggression and obscurity flowing from each instrument being truly outstanding. Not only that, IV keeps demolishing his drums in a very precise and melodic way, while the guitars sound and feel extremely sharp, therefore cutting our skins mercilessly, with the music remaining epic until the song’s triumphant and dark finale.

In case these simple, straightforward words are not enough to show you how potent and somber the music by those German metallers sounds and feels, you can take a more detailed listen at Moritat in its entirety on YouTube, and of course after getting stunned by their disturbing sonic waves you must check what Der Rote Milan are up to on Facebook, and purchase Moritat from their own BandCamp page, from the Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from iTunes or from Amazon. In a nutshell, the gates to the underworld of German Black Metal are open, and Der Rote Milan are right there waiting to claim your soul to the sound of their brand new, pulverizing concept album of first-class Melodic Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Drohende Schatten and Moritat.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork

Track listing
1. Die Habsucht 6:10
2. Drohende Schatten 3:26
3. Gnosis der Vergänglichkeit 7:42
4. Der letzte Galgen 7:21
5. Der Findling 4:16
6. Moritat 12:01

Band members
III – vocals
I – guitars
II – guitars
V – bass
IV – drums

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Album Review – Strangle Wire / The Dark Triad EP (2018)

Enjoy this short and sweet lesson in Death Metal made in Northern Ireland, taking you into the dark heart of the human condition.

Behind the locked doors that lie in the shadows, at the end of forgotten passageways, in the depths of every human mind, madness waits, scratching at the splintered wood with bleeding fingers. However, sometimes those locks fail, or the keys are purposefully turned, unleashing the monsters from within. The Dark Triad, the brand new EP by Northern Irish Death Metal quartet Strangle Wire, is the sound of the monsters set free, the sound of broken minds and twisted personalities, and the sound of an insidious assault on the light that keeps the night at bay.

Formed in 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, the band comprised of I (Pete Clarke) on vocals, II (Greg “Daff” Diffin) on bass, III (Ross Duffy) on the guitar, and IV (John Curlett) on drums plays what can be called “Psychological Death Metal”, being highly recommended for fans of Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse and Sinister, among several other Death Metal icons. Featuring a classic artwork by British musician and designer Tom Bradfield, The Dark Triad is divided into three sections, entitled Narcissism, Psychopathy and Machiavellianism, taking the listener into the dark heart of the human condition, propelling them ever onward with a musical force of savage intensity, Death Metal possessed of speed, groove and supreme heaviness.

III (or Ross, if you prefer) kicks off the Death Metal hurricane titled The Games They Play with his metallic riffs before pure anarchy and devastation take over the world, with I (Pete) firing his deep, enraged and bestial growls nonstop. Put differently, this is one of those songs tailored for fans of extreme music who simply love to slam into the pit more than they love anything else in life. Then tribal sounds start another heavier-than-hell, putrid Death Metal feast named The Narcissist, a slow and steady tune from the pits of hell led by the rhythmic beats by IV (John), while II (Greg) and III keep slashing our skin with their demonic strings. Then we have Psychopathic Blue, showcasing guitar lines that remind me of the work done by Thrash Metal acts like Slayer and Testament, but still being pulverizing and demonic as good old Death Metal should be. The quartet is on fire and in total sync throughout the entire song, delivering belligerent and rabid sounds for our total delight, with I’s hellish roars getting even deeper and more primeval.

And their metallic demolition goes on with more furious blast beats, infernal vociferations and crushing riffs in The Failure Exhibit, where the band practically demands that we all get into the circle pit and slam to the total havoc they generate by their instruments; whereas if you’re a diehard fan of old school Death Metal the likes of Cannibal Corpse you’ll have a blast with Through a Black Lens, where IV sounds like a machine gun on drums while I is a demonic bulldozer on vocals. Furthermore, there isn’t a single second of peace during the entire song, it’s nonstop action boosted by the excellent riffage by III and a beyond violent atmosphere. And last but not least, as the final onrush of extreme music by Strangle Wire we’re treated to a headbanging, menacing chant titled Den of Iniquity, sounding insanely heavy from the very first second until its neck-breaking end, while I keeps barking like a creature from a deep and dark cave.

The Dark Triad, which is available for purchase from the Grindscene Records’ webstore, from Code 7, or from Amazon, is not only a very promising and vibrant start for Strangle Wire, but also a “mini-lesson” in how to properly unite technique, feeling and rage in Death Metal and in extreme music in general. And if that’s just a mini-lesson as I said, can you imagine how pulverizing Strangle Wire will sound when they come back with their first full-length lecture?

Best moments of the album: The Games They Play and Through a Black Lens.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Grindscene Records

Track listing  
1. The Games They Play 3:33
2. The Narcissist 4:26
3. Psychopathic Blue 3:21
4. The Failure Exhibit 3:39
5. Through a Black Lens 3:56
6. Den of Iniquity 4:50

Band members
I – vocals
II – bass
III – guitar
IV – drums

Album Review – Skáphe / Skáphe² (2016)

Embrace the psychotic and dissonant uproar pouring from the satanic Black Metal crafted by this implacable duo, and you’ll definitely shorten your descent to the netherworld.

Rating5

skhape2_coverBorn in 2014 as a new project from American multi-instrumentalist A.P., also known as Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Esoterica, Krieg), and having released their self-titled debut full-length album that same year, Chaotic Black Metal band Skáphe return with their disturbing music and nightmarish vibe in Skáphe², an album that not only will keep haunting your soul just like their first installment, but that also consolidates this talented American duo as one of the most promising Black Metal acts in the world of heavy music.

The addition of Icelandic singer D.G., or Dagur (Misþyrming, Naðra), added a lot of dark power to this band from Philadelphia, located in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States, enhancing the obscurity, impact and malignancy found in their music. In other words, the macabre passages and enigmatic vociferations in Skáphe² will simply bring your deepest fears to light (or maybe I should say to darkness), a usually desired effect of Black Metal on people. Moreover, the hypnotizing artwork by Icelandic musician and artist H.V. Lyngdal, exhibiting an eviscerated devil devouring a human being, is the perfect depiction of our mental insanity and of our souls poisoned by the same fears exposed in the music by Skáphe.

Instead of regular song names, Skáphe simply numbered their creations from 1 to 6 in Roman numerals. The first track, entitled I, offers a darkling psychedelic start followed by a turmoil of dissonant growls and blast beats that will lacerate your soul, proving why they don’t label themselves “chaotic” in vain. In addition to that, D.G. provides his business card as the demonic voice of Skáphe in this bestial Black Metal chant with lots of Atmospheric Doom elements added to increase its infernal aura. II continues right where the opening track stopped, which means more satanic passages and cavernous screams with A.P. putting all his demons and anger into the music, resulting in sheer darkness. Needless to say, the anguished grasps by D.G. will make you feel very uncomfortable (in a good way, of course).

skhape_apIII, the third installment, is even sharper and more mesmerizing. It’s fast and sludgy at the same time thanks to the excellent job done by A.P. with all instruments, resulting in an ode to Black and Doom Metal represented by four minutes of despair with absolutely no hope in sight. In the Stygian tune IV, D.G. howls like a werewolf during its obscure start, and its eight minutes of extreme music are definitely not suitable at all for the faint at heart. Moreover, after an eerie break in the middle of the song, brutal Black Metal nicely explodes from all instruments for our total delight.

Obviously, the fifth chant, named V, keeps the fires of hell burning bright, showcasing a tormented performance by D.G. enhanced by the reverberating riffs and the doomed drumming by A.P. The tone of the guitar throughout the whole song is amazing, sounding like a downward spiral to Hades. And finally, the last tune VI reminds me of the most obscure songs by Triptykon at first, evolving to an extremely disturbing form of dark music. A.P. has an enraged performance, while D.G. continues his demented path to the underworld. And when the blasting Black Metal music stops, we’re treated to about two minutes of wicked background noises, meaning we’ve finally reached the gates of hell.

You can get more details on the apocalyptic loudness engendered by Skáphe at their Facebook page, and if you really want to add more affliction and pandemonium to your everyday life, you can buy a copy of Skáphe² at the band’s official BandCamp page, at the I, Voidhanger Records’s BandCamp page, at the Fallen Empire Records’ webstore (LP version) or at the Vánagandr’s Big Cartel page (cassette version). Embrace the psychotic and dissonant noises pouring from the satanic Black Metal crafted by this implacable duo, and you’ll consequently shorten your descent to the netherworld.

Best moments of the album: III and V.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 I, Voidhanger Records/Fallen Empire Records/Vánagandr

Track listing
1. I 6:32
2. II 4:40
3. III 4:11
4. IV 8:16
5. V 5:42
6. VI 6:34

Band members
D.G. (Dagur) – vocals
A.P. (Alex Poole) – all instruments