Movie Review – Lords Of Chaos (2018)

Witness the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners in the vision of award-winning director Jonas Åkerlund, despite the annoying fact the entire movie is spoken in English.

“A teenager’s quest to launch Norwegian Black Metal in Oslo in the early 1990s results in a very violent outcome.”

That’s how the producers of the good movie Lords Of Chaos, which was screened at several film festivals in 2018 and released in theaters on February 8 and on demand on February 22 this year, are promoting their version of the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners, those being Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes (also known for his revolutionary one-man project Burzum), Pelle ‘Dead’ Ohlin and, above all, Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth, the founder of and central figure in the early Norwegian Black Metal scene, the co-founder of the Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem, and the founder and owner of the Extreme Metal record label Deathlike Silence Productions and record shop Helvete. All of them were members of one of the most infamous bands of all time, Mayhem, being part of a militant cult-like group known as the “Black Metal Inner Circle”.

If you’re a longtime fan of True Norwegian Black Metal, there’s nothing new to you in the movie that you don’t already know, but it’s still interesting to see how director Jonas Åkerlund, a Swedish director and drummer known for music videos like Madonna’s Ray of Light, Rammstein’s Pussy and The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up, and a member of Swedish Black Metal institution Bathory from 1983 to 1984, portrayed all the trademark chaos, rebelliousness and violence of the Norwegian scene in the 90’s. Featuring Rory Culkin (yes, he’s the younger brother of Macaulay Culkin) as Euronymous, who did a great job trying to humanize such distinct character of the Black Metal universe, Emory Cohen as the untamable Varg, Jack Kilmer as the disturbed Dead, Sky Ferreira as Euronymous’ girlfriend Ann-Marit, and Valter Skarsgård as Emperor’s drummer and convicted murderer Bård Guldvik ‘Faust’ Eithun, as well as Anthony De La Torre as Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg and James Edwyn as Kjetil ‘Manheim’ (considered by many the true founders of Mayhem in 1984, when the band was still named Musta), Lords Of Chaos is far from being a masterpiece, but it’s still a very entertaining movie that provides (to a certain point, of course) a very good view of how Black Metal changed the lives of those reckless kids that had a fairly decent life in Norway.

Despite the real Varg being completely against Lords Of Chaos, even stating in a 2016 video that Mayhem, Burzum and Darkthrone all denied the movie rights to their music, the movie is indeed a compelling ride that transforms Mayhem’s iconic guitarist Euronymous into a normal person like any of us, focusing on his fears and personal strugles as a young guy living in Norway, having won the jury prize best film award at the Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival in 2018 and being nominated to several other awards worldwide. However, if there’s one thing that really bothered me throughout the entire movie was the fact that all actors in the film speak in English (and with their American accents) all the time, despite the movie being entirely shot is Oslo, the capital of the beautiful Norway. In my opinion, they could have selected a few good Norwegian actors and done the whole movie in Norwegian to give it a much more realistic vibe, as it was sometimes pretty inconsistent and cringeworthy (at least for me) watching people in Norway, with the TV, newspapers and everything else in Norwegian, speaking like if they were all born and raised in Los Angeles or New York. That small but important detail doesn’t necessarily ruin the movie, but whenever you watch it I’m sure you’ll also have that feel that you’re watching a “Black Metal edition” of Beverly Hills, 90210 being aired on a Tuesday at 3pm on a random public access TV channel. I understand the use of English was somewhat essential for reaching a broader audience and having better support to promote the movie, but I still think the Norwegian language would have made the entire movie a thousand times more entertaining.

Apart from that language issue, Lords Of Chaos is extremely well produced, presenting a fantastic photography, including some stunning scenes from Norway’s unique nature and landscapes and, of course, strong colors and imagery to represent the main characters’ depression, madness and fears, and the story flows smoothly with very few plot holes (and historical inaccuracies) until the end. Furthermore, it’s nice to see how human all those musicians were, despite the fact many of their fans like to idolize them (as we pretty much do with any member of our favorite bands no matter which type of music they play). For instance, in one of the first scenes of the movie, we can see Euronymous, Dead and the others partying outdoors like any regular teenager, listening to some ass-kicking, old school metal hymns, having a lot of beer and trying to impress the girls around them. No murder, no arson, nor anything like that, only kids enjoying life and trying to find their place in society. As simple as that, just like many, many Black Metal bands reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose who focus on their music rather than on violent or illegal activities.

In addition, although Jonas Åkerlund stated in a 2018 interview that he used little Black Metal in the movie in part because “it’s kind of painful to listen to black metal music if you’re not used to it or don’t love it,” there’s still a lot of good Black Metal and other types of extreme and not-so-extreme music played throughout the entire movie. While watching it, get ready to bang your head and raise your horns to classics such as Funeral Fog by Mayhem, Inri and Satanic Lust by Sarcofago, Fast as a Shark by Accept, Stand up and Shout by Dio, Born for Burning, Sacrifice and The Return of Darkness and Evil by Bathory, Outbreak of Evil by Sodom, Serpent Eye by Cathedral, and Exhume To Consume by Carcass, among several others. Not only that, there are obviously some very entertaining scenes where both Mayhem and Burzum are either rehearsing, recording in the studio or playing live, which by the way is one of my favorite musical moments of the movie, with Mayhem’s chaotic sound mixed with the bloody and demented performance by their frontman Dead being the undisputed depiction of True Norwegian Black Metal.

Anyway, the main topic presented during the whole movie is obviously the extremely delicate relationships between Euronymous and Dead during what can be considered the first phase of Mayhem (until the always perturbed Dead loses it and commits suicide by blowing his brains out with a shotgun, with Euronymous taking a picture of his deceased friend and turning it into the disturbing cover art of their 1995 bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts), and especially between Euronymous and the one who would become his arch nemesis in the end, the beyond controversial Varg. I mean, Dead was absolutely nuts from the very beginning, and apparently he’s always been like that due to a very tough childhood where he was bullied and beaten all the time at school, and Euronymous was just a regular musician until turning into a Black Metal beast with excellent sales, marketing and promotion skills, but the transformation of Varg from a chubby guy who liked Scorpions into a total lunatc who would reach the point of burning churches in the name of Black Metal is simply fantastic. For instance, pay good attention to the whole scene where Varg invites the press to his “lair” and tells them his name is “Count Grishnackh”, among other ridiculous comments and statements he makes. That’s hilarious and could have easily been included in any American teen movie.

And Jonas Åkerlund keeps humanizing all characters the entire movie, showing how Euronymous got some money from his father to open Helvete and start his record label, how Varg got money from his mother to help record a Mayhem album (and kept asking Euronymous for that money to pay his mom back), and how Faust couldn’t stop watching horror movies, which was one of the reasons why he got so interested in killing someone, or as he said, in piercing a knife through someone’s body like in the movies. And unless you come from a different dimension and knows absolutely nothing about True Norwegian Black Metal, you’ll be relatively shocked with how things turn at the end of the movie when Varg, feeling betrayed by his former friend Euronymous, who according to Varg himself turned his back not only to him but to the “Black Metal Inner Circle” and to the entire scene to focus on his musical career and on his girlfriend, decides to put an end to their relationship for good (or I should say not good at all). Let’s say Euronymous was what Dani Filth, from Cradle Of Filth, and Nergal, from Behemoth, are nowadays, an excellent performer and musician with a normal life backstage, which somehow sparks a lot of rage from the ones who consider themselves “true Black Metal fans”, got it?

There are many interviews and videos online where Jonas Åkerlund, Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen discuss Lords Of Chaos, like this one with BUILD Series NYC, and you can also find more information about the movie directly from their Facebook page, Twitter and Intagram. However, I highly recommend you avoid all that before watching Lords Of Chaos (don’t even watch the trailer below), as a few of those interviews and videos might “ruin” some important parts of the movie for you. Put differently, turn off the lights and light up some candles, turn off your smart phone, put on your most diabolical metal shirt, grab a beer or some red wine, and dive deep into the beautiful but somber Norway together with Euronymous, Dead and Varg, and become a “lord of chaos” yourself. You’re going to love this movie or completely hate it, but at least give it a try and then see what you think about it.

Best moments of the movie: Every scene where Euronymous interacts with either Dead or Varg is excellent. Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen and Jack Kilmer do a pretty solid job playing those three iconic characters.

Worst moments of the movie: As aforementioned, the fact that all dialogues are spoken in English and not in Norwegian, despite the entire movie being set in the beautiful Norway and based on Norwegian characters.

Released in 2018 Gunpowder & Sky/Arrow Films

Directed by Jonas Åkerlund

Cast
Rory Culkin – Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth
Emory Cohen – Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes
Jack Kilmer – Pelle ‘Dead’ Ohlin
Sky Ferreira – Ann-Marit
Valter Skarsgård – Bård Guldvik ‘Faust’ Eithun
Anthony De La Torre – Jan Axel ‘Hellhammer’ Blomberg
Jonathan Barnwell – Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud
Full cast & crew

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Album Review – Dødsfall / Døden Skal Ikke Vente (2019)

An unstoppable Black Metal force from Norway returns with their long-awaited fifth album, containing 10 new unrelenting tracks of pure hate and anger.

After four years of silence, the unstoppable Norwegian Black Metal force known as Dødsfall returns with their long-awaited fifth album, entitled Døden Skal Ikke Vente, or “death shall not wait” from Norwegian, containing 10 new tracks of pure hate and anger in its best form. And their new album is the result of a huge wave of inspiration that grew up like a snowball after the release of Kaosmakt, in early 2015, resulting in a fresh and creative album holding on to their roots and the sound that was established from the very beginning on the band’s career. It can be described as a successful combination of past and present with new elements and different sources of inspiration, sounding epic, majestic and furious with a medieval touch inspired from the cold lands of the north.

Formed in 2009 in Bergen, Norway, but currently located between Gothenburg, Sweden and Oslo, Norway, Dødsfall is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ishtar, who together with newcomer Telal on drums (who has been playing with acts like Troll, Isvind, and Endezzma, to name a few) created a sulfurous and dark beast in the form of their new album Døden Skal Ikke Vente. Featuring a crushing, ominous album artwork by underground artist Pazuzuh, who previously worked with the band on the artwork of their album Djevelens Evangelie, from 2013, Døden Skal Ikke Vente will take you on a journey through vast, bitterly cold Norwegian lands, proving once again why Norway is and will always be the birthplace and home of true Black Metal.

Ishatr and Telal begin disturbing all peace and order with their ruthless blend of old school and contemporary Black Metal in Hemlig Vrede (or “secret wrath” in English), sounding very melodic and aggressive form the very first second and with Ishtar’s demonic gnarls being flawlessly complemented by Telal’s brutish blast beats. Their furious and thunderous Black Metal keeps hammering our heads in Tåkefjell (“fog mountain”), another piercing composition where the guitars by Ishtar sound as metallic as they can be, also presenting lots of breaks and variations, and consequently feeling like three or four songs in one; followed by the obscure and melancholic Svarta Drömmar (“black dreams”), where their Black Metal is darkly infused with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with its rhythm being dictated by Telal’s precise drums and with highlights to Ishtar’s anguished growls.

Putting the pedal to the metal this infernal duo delivers a vicious onrush of violent and raw sounds entitled Grå Himlar (“gray skies”), with the riffs and solos by Ishtar cutting our skin mercilessly, and therefore setting the bar high for the rest of the album. Well, the duo doesn’t disappoint at all in the following track, Kampsalmer (“battle hymns”), a headbanging, marching chant showcasing bestial riffs and demonic roars all enfolded by a truly menacing ambience, and the music remains vile and sulfurous until its epic ending. Then led by the pounding drums by Telal and displaying an inspired Ishatr on the guitar we have the full-bodied, intricate tune entitled I de Dødens Øyne  (“in the eyes of death”), a song tailored for admirers of classic Black Metal who also love to raise their horns and slam into the pit in the name of extreme music.

Continuing with their feast of incendiary and dark sounds they offer us all Ødemarkens Mørkedal (“the dark valley of the wilderness”), an ode to Scandinavian Black Metal where Ishtar growls and roars in a bestial way while Telal keeps crushing his drums nonstop, whereas the heavy-as-hell guitar lines by Ishtar ignite the flammable För Alltid I Min Sjæl (“forever in my soul”), a mid-tempo Black Metal extravaganza where Ishtar and Telal are on fire from start to finish, sounding as infernal and sharp as possible. The last song of the album, named Ondskapelse (“evil hands”), brings more of their hellish Scandinavian Black Metal infused with Melodic Black Metal nuances, with Telal smashing his drums just the way we love it in Extreme Metal, flowing like rapid fire until the instrumental outro Skogstrollet (“forest troll”) captivates our senses with the howling sound of the cold wind, ending the album on an ethereal note.

You can better explore the chilly and vile realm of Norwegian Black Metal crafted by Dødsfall by following them on Facebook, and show your support to such talented duo by purchasing Døden Skal Ikke Vente (available for a full listen on YouTube, by the way) from their own BandCamp page, as well as from the Osmose Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, and from Record Shop X. Let all the frost, hatred and evil flowing from the music found in Døden Skal Ikke Vente embrace you, leading you on a fantastic and somber one-way journey into the absolute darkness and void we learned to love in Norwegian Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Tåkefjell, Grå Himlar and I de Dødens Øyne.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Osmose Productions

Track listing
1. Hemlig Vrede 4:30
2. Tåkefjell 4:54
3. Svarta Drömmar 5:29
4. Grå Himlar 4:29
5. Kampsalmer 4:50
6. I de Dødens Øyne 5:37
7. Ødemarkens Mørkedal 5:25
8. För Alltid I Min Sjæl 4:32
9. Ondskapelse 5:04
10. Skogstrollet (Instrumental) 1:04

Band members
Ishtar – vocals, guitars, bass
Telal – drums

Album Review – Barshasketh / Barshasketh (2019)

Dive deep into the pit of corruption crafted by an evil entity of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal to the sound of their highly anticipated fourth full-length opus.

Forged in the scorching fires of Wellington, New Zealand in 2007 as a solo project by KG (also known as Krigeist) with the intention of creating pure Black Metal, but currently located in Edinburgh, Scotland, the obscure and devilish entity known as Barshasketh is unleashing upon humanity their highly anticipated fourth album, simply self-titled Barshasketh, conceptually centered on Be’er Shachat, from which the band’s name derives. This term roughly translates as “pit of corruption”, a multifaceted esoteric idea concerning the self existing in a cyclical process that goes through phases of destruction, purification, and ultimate adversarial rebirth. Indeed, that conceptual arc poignantly and perfectly illustrates Barshasketh’s evolution over the years, and finds its apotheosis within the winding corridors of Barshasketh.

During its uniquely vast-yet-compact 54-minute run-time, the quartet comprised of KG on vocals, guitars and synths, GM on the guitars, BB on bass and MK on drums, vocals and synths is truly firing on all cylinders, exploring new territory with ambitious compositions and showcasing a certain percussive savagery previously unheard on previous recordings, all within the remit of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal. Featuring a menacing cover art and additional illustrations by Artem Grigoryev (Black Typography), Barshasketh’s brand new opus is the purest distillation of the band’s essence to date, pointing to a dark and vile future for mankind as a black sun rises at the dawn of 2019.

A somber and menacing atmosphere enfolds the band in the opening track Vacillation, a highly recommended song for admirers of the most obscure fusion of classic Black Metal with Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal where KG gnarls demonically from the very first note while MK showcases all his skills as the excellent extreme drummer he is, followed by the also grim Resolve, continuing from where the previous tune ended (which obviously means an ode to darkness). Furthermore, KG and GM are in total sync with their scorching riffs, while BB and MK generate a dense background atmosphere with their devilish instruments. Then drinking from the fountain of old school Norwegian Black Metal we have Consciousness I, another visceral creation by the band spearheaded by MK and his unstoppable blast beats, with KG roaring and growling like a true creature form the netherworld, not to mention how the background keys also boost the song’s taste and impact considerably, whereas Consciousness II brings to our avid ears over eight minutes of damned sounds and tones, starting in a cryptic manner before exploding into classic Black Metal for our total delight. The stringed trio KG, GM and BB simply slash our senses with their axes, with the music also presenting some disturbing Blackened Doom-inspired passages.

Ruin I sounds and feels brutal and piercing form the very first second, a lecture in Black Metal not for the lighthearted with all band member extracting pure evil from their instruments, in special MK and his demolishing drums, while the second act entitled Ruin II sounds a lot more melodic and obscure, crushing our senses in over seven minutes of putrid Black Metal spearheaded by KG’s infernal growls and MK’s visceral beats, all enfolded by the hellish riffs by KG and GM and flowing majestically until its grand finale. The second to last blast of extreme music by Barshasketh, named Rebirth, is just as demonic as its predecessors, with all instruments exhaling demonic notes, especially KG and GM who penetrate deep inside our damned souls with their guitar lines, setting the tone for the closing song Recrudescense, a tribute to all things evil where the smell of death and despair reeks in the air for over nine minutes, with KG leading his horde of darkness with his visceral growls. Moreover, it’s truly impressive how the music gets more intense and vile as time goes by, with all violence and hatred giving place to a phantasmagorical ending that will haunt our souls forever and ever.

Actually, you don’t need all the detailed review and explanation above to purchase your copy of Barshasketh from the W.T.C.Productions BandCamp. All you need to know is that it’s vile, macabre and thunderous, just the way we all love in true Black Metal. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, therefore showing your true support to underground extreme music, and finally succumb to the darkest side of Black Metal to the sound of their infernal but at the same time very melodic and dense new album, diving deep into their “pit of corruption”. However, I must warn you that once you join Barshasketh down there, there’s no turning back (as if you would want to return from such distinct place, I might say).

Best moments of the album: Vacillation, Consciousness I and Recrudescense.

Worst moments of the album: Rebirth.

Released in 2019 W.T.C.Productions

Track listing
1. Vacillation 5:29
2. Resolve 5:10
3. Consciousness I 6:24
4. Consciousness II 7:53
5. Ruin I 4:47
6. Ruin II 7:26
7. Rebirth 6:30
8. Recrudescense 9:31

Band members
KG – vocals, guitars, synths
GM – guitars
BB – bass
MK – drums, vocals, synths

Album Review – All My Sins / Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (2018)

Immerse yourself into a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs.

Originating from the southern regions of Europe, Serbian Black Metal duo All My Sins was officially formed by multi-instrumentalists Nav Cosmos and V in the year of 2000 in the city of Pančevo around the idea of claiming their own place among the already-established Second Wave of Black Metal. Inspired by the spiritual heritage of the land they come from, the band started making records, each of them conceptually placed around certain mythological symbols such as their brand new opus entitled Pra Sila – Vukov Totem, which would be roughly translated to English as “The Primordial Force of the Wolf’s Totem”, a work of windswept mysticism and pure pagan fury dedicated to the most important and powerful totem in the culture of southern Slavs, the wolf.

Featuring a somber cover art by Romanian musician and artist Daniel Dorobantu (Thy Veils) and guest musicians Nemir, Khargash and Jaguar (from underground Serbian bands like Obscured and Terrörhammer), All My Sins’ newborn eight-track album portrays the wolf as the ancient ancestor of Serbian people, a creature with unusual attributes that is believed to possess obscure divine powers, narrating a vast spiritual journey throughout the realms of southern Slavic mysticism. The meeting of man and wolf, mystically dangerous yet magnificent at the same time, depicts the encounter with a demonic being and concurrently the moment when a man meets his native forefather. In the world of wilderness abandoned by man, contradictory and strong, the wolf represents everything we are not, unknown and terrifying, or the perfection of a stranger.

In the opening track Vukov Totem, or “Totem of the Wolf”, a demented blast of visceral Black Metal invades our ears mercilessly, with V pulverizing his strings with his violent shredding while Nemir shakes the foundations of the earth with his blast beats before a cosmic break turns the sonic devastation into a more progressive and atmospheric extravaganza. Their incendiary feast of Slavic Black Metal goes on in Zov iz Magle, or “A Call from the Mist”, where Nav Cosmos roars and gnarls powerfully from the bottom of his blackened heart, with the entire song feeling very dense, enfolding and also bringing some deep, phantasmagorical clean vocals, while its instrumental parts remind me of old school Norwegian Black Metal; followed by Vetrovo Kolo, or “The Wheel of the Wind”, another brutal explosion of extreme sounds by All My Sins where Nemir sounds even more enraged and bestial on drums, while Nav Cosmos vociferates manically. Furthermore, the song’s razor-edged guitar riffs will violently pierce your mind and soul, leaving you completely disoriented after all is said and done. And U Mlazevima Krvi, or “In the Streams of Blood”, brings forward devastation, rage, madness and top-notch Pagan Black Metal to our ears. What else can you ask for, right? Moreover, Nav Cosmos’ deranged growls in his mother tongue end up adding an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality, just like what happens in the whole album.

Then it’s time to get smashed into the circle pit to the fulminating Opsena, or “The Phantasm”, showcasing almost eight minutes of crushing Black Metal with Atmospheric Black Metal nuances while V continues to brutalize his strings powerfully, with the music morphing into a completely new sonority after a cryptic, somber passage, feeling a lot more melodic and introspective. In the bridge Mesecu u Oko, or “Towards the Moon’s Eye”, wicked, Stygian noises are spiced up by Nav Cosmo’s anguished gnarls, flowing into over 10 minutes of a beyond atmospheric display of contemporary Black Metal named Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi), or “The Final Equinox (Act I)”, sounding epic and bold from start to finish, with Nemir delivering sheer darkness through his crisp drumming, until melancholy permeates the air in Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi), or “The Final Equinox (Act II)”, featuring guest Khargash on bass and backing vocals. This is a fantastic Atmospheric Black Metal chant infused with hints of Doom Metal, remaining as sluggish and grim as it can be and, therefore, putting a pensive ending to such demolishing album of Pagan Black Metal.

Brewing since the ancient days, Pra Sila – Vukov Totem (available for a full listen on YouTube) is now being released into the modern era with a timelessness that’s exciting to behold, and you can savor that first-class fusion of Black Metal and the Slavic culture by purchasing the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Saturnal Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, from Amazon, or from Discogs. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on VKontakte, and immerse yourself into a sensational world of South Slavic Black Metal mysticism crafted by this talented and undisputed Serbian duo.

Best moments of the album: Vukov Totem, Vetrovo Kolo and U Mlazevima Krvi.

Worst moments of the album: Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi).

Released in 2018 Saturnal Records

Track listing
1. Vukov Totem 9:43
2. Zov iz Magle 7:56
3. Vetrovo Kolo 6:25
4. U Mlazevima Krvi 3:52
5. Opsena 7:57
6. Mesecu u Oko 1:19
7. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Prvi) 10:25
8. Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi) 8:10

Band members
Nav Cosmos – vocals, recitals, bass
V – guitars, bass, clean and backing vocals, recitals, keys, vrg

Guest musicians
Nemir – drums (session)
Khargash – bass, backing vocals on “Konačna Ravnodnevica (Čin Drugi)”
Jaguar – backing vocals on “U Mlazevima Krvi”

Album Review – Immortal / Northern Chaos Gods (2018)

The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.

The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again now in 2018 thanks to Bergen’s own Black Metal institution Immortal, who after nine long and excruciating years of the release of their 2009 album All Shall Fall are back in action with a brand new opus titled Northern Chaos Gods, a beyond fantastic comeback for one of the trailblazers of Norwegian Black Metal. The first album after the departure of founder, frontman and guitarist Abbath from the band in 2015, Northern Chaos Gods marks the longest gap between two studio albums by Immortal, but the wait was definitely worth it as Immortal sound extremely sharp and vile throughout the entire album, proving once again why they’re still an unstoppable force of frost and ice.

Featuring a dark and straightforward cover art by Norwegian artist Jannicke Wiese-Hansen, Northern Chaos Gods showcases an inspired Demonaz (Harald Nævdal) on vocals and guitar (for the first time since 1997) and a brutal and extremely precise Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) on drums, accompanied by guest bassist Peter Tägtgren. In an interview before the album’s release, Demonaz said he wanted to make the album as “grim, dark and cold as possible”, and Immortal more than succeeded in their quest for extreme music, delivering a raw piece of Norwegian Black Metal that takes the band right back to its early sound. Each and every song in Northern Chaos Gods is a lecture in darkness, pointing to a bright (or I should say obscure) future ahead of a band that might have suffered a few losses since their inception in the far, far away year of 1991, but that stands triumphant and loyal to their roots no matter what.

The title-track Northern Chaos Gods comes crushing mercilessly in an absolute sonic devastation blasted by Demonaz with his fulminating riffs and Horgh with his classic Black Metal blast beats, resulting in a truly old school tune but without sounding obsolete or cheesy, not to mention the excellent job done by Demonaz with his infernal roars. As violent and somber as its predecessor, Into Battle Ride is an ode to Black Metal with highlights to the lancinating guitar lines by Demonaz and the thunderous bass lines by Peter, also bringing inspiring lyrics vociferated by Demonaz (“The sword of thunder and lightning is on the rise / From the north the gods of wrath descend / The storm of war nearing, black in its sign / Now vengeance shall enter again, feared by mortals / Our yearning steel strong hands / Thundering hooves strike above dying men / Down the black valleys arise through the haze / From the mountains, hear battle and death”); whereas Gates to Blashyrkh is a lot more melodic and rhythmic, perfect for banging your head and raising your horns to the hellish duo Demonaz and Horgh. Put differently, simply ride together with Immortal to the Gates to Blashyrkh and enjoy a huge dosage of top-of-the-line Melodic Black Metal invading your senses. And Grim and Dark is another cadaveric and sinister creation by this Norwegian entity, led by the slashing riffs by Demonaz while Horgh keeps crushing his drums nonstop, flowing majestically until its crisp and ominous ending.

There’s no time to breathe with more traditional Black Metal in Called to Ice, with Demonaz’s visceral riffage being effectively accompanied by the galloping sound of drums and bass in five minutes of classic Norwegian Black Metal for diehard lovers of the genre, before a smooth and melancholic intro quickly explodes into a lecture in modern-day Black Metal in Where Mountains Rise, a headbanging tune where Horgh’s beats sound amazingly crisp and heavy while Demonaz keeps slashing his strings with sheer precision and vocalizing the song’s beautiful, poetic words (“For the mighty mountains I ride / Through the woods beyond the snow / Like a fire among the stars, beyond the clouds she rise / There’s no fire from the sun, in this dark under the moon / My blackened sight beholds the stars, and fallen suns below”). Back to a more extreme and piercing sonority we have Blacker of Worlds, where Horgh presents his violent bulldozer mode and with Demonaz and Peter delivering a storm of blackened sounds through their stringed weapons, hammering our heads until Mighty Ravendark strikes our minds like a thunderbolt, exhaling malignancy, darkness and evil. Moreover, Horgh and Peter generate a massive wall of sounds with their drums and bass, respectively, while the hell raiser Demonaz keeps growling and gnarling in a devilish manner during the song’s over nine minutes of Epic Black Metal, putting a majestic ending to one of the best comebacks in the history of metal.

In summary, Northern Chaos Gods, available in different formats from the Nuclear Blast website, is more than just a comeback as already mentioned, but the rebirth of one of the biggest exponents of classic Black Metal even when no one else believed the band could get back on track after such turbulent period in their career. Well, they’re not called Immortal in vain, and after such pulverizing album we can rest assured Demonaz and Horgh will keep the flame of Norwegian Black Metal burning bright wherever they go. Because in the end we’re talking about the true “Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal”, and they’ll keep riding into the battlefield side by side with us, fans of extreme music, until their final and bitterly cold breath.

Best moments of the album: Northern Chaos Gods, Where Mountains Rise and Mighty Ravendark.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Nuclear Blast

Track listing    
1. Northern Chaos Gods 4:25
2. Into Battle Ride 3:50
3. Gates to Blashyrkh 4:38
4. Grim and Dark 5:27
5. Called to Ice 5:06
6. Where Mountains Rise 5:51
7. Blacker of Worlds 3:43
8. Mighty Ravendark 9:14

Band members
Demonaz – vocals, guitars
Horgh – drums

Guest musician
Peter Tägtgren – bass (session)

Album Review –Tamerlan Empire / Age of Ascendancy (2018)

Behold the rise of a metal empire and their marvelous fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Central-Asian and Middle-Eastern melodies and rhythms.

It’s time to travel once again to Sydney, Australia to behold the rise of a metal empire that will leave you speechless after listening to its marvelous fusion of Symphonic Black Metal with Central-Asian and Middle-Eastern melodies and rhythms. I’m talking about Tamerlan Empire, a savage horde formed in 2011 by drummer Khan, with the band’s name and lyrical content being inspired by Tamerlan (also known as Timurlan, Amir Temur, Timurleng or Timur Khan), a powerful Mongol/Turkish emperor from the 14th century. Not only their songs are about the emperor’s battles and conquests, but they have also drawn a much deeper influence from his dark brutal side and strategic mind, with his detailed forward-thinking always being many steps ahead of the enemies and allies.

Playing what can be called “Turkic/Uzbek Middle-Eastern Symphonic Black Metal”, an aggressive and very unique atmospheric style of Black Metal, Tamerlan Empire are releasing their highly anticipated debut album entitled Age of Ascendancy, perfectly describing the overlord’s meteoric rise and his great interest and contribution to science, politics, architecture, astronomy and literature during his reign, as well as the era in general where empires strove for dominance through war, bloodshed and destruction. And this distinct band, comprised of Ghorr on vocals and guitar, Ferus on the guitar, Vezir on keyboards and orchestrations, and Khan on drums and percussion, more than succeeded in translating the grandiosity of the empire ruled by the aforementioned warlord, creating an unparalleled, multi-layered sound that will certainly please all fans of the orchestral vein of extreme music.

The title-track Age Of Ascendancy is an epic, cinematic intro that effectively sets the stage for the symphonic onslaught titled Battle Of Tyrants, a song that begins in full force with the orchestrations by Vezir enhancing the overall impact on your ears and mind. Put differently, this grandiose, intricate hymn will make you feel you’re in the middle of the battlefield, with Khan sounding impressive behind his drums. Even more atmospheric and imposing, Vengeance In Blood presents Ghorr and Ferus delivering melodious and aggressive riffs nonstop, while Khan keeps smashing his drums mercilessly. Furthermore, Ghorr’s enraged growls live up to the legacy of Symphonic Black Metal, sounding vile and piercing, and therefore making me think if we can call Tamerlan Empire the “Dimmu Borgir from the East”. And be prepared for another feast of blackened sounds entitled Ottoman’s Demise, a headbanging tune led by the blazing guitars by Ghorr and Ferus, spiced up by the uniqueness of Middle-Eastern music and sounding utterly dense and bold from start to finish.

Slightly less epic and a lot more devastating, Ascension of Iron showcases all band members in their fastest and most furious mode, with the musicality being led by the classic blast beats by Khan while Ghorr keeps barking like a demon; whereas in Behest Of The Chosen we’re treated to a whimsical intro where classic Middle-Eastern elements and percussion are suddenly joined by a gripping and dark sonority, feeling very rhythmic, mesmerizing and detailed until its atmospheric grand finale. Tribal beats ignite another superb metal extravaganza by Tamerlan Empire named Winter March, the perfect soundtrack to an epic adventure presenting what’s perhaps the strongest balance between Black Metal and Middle-Eastern music, with Vezir sounding absolutely fantastic with his keys and orchestrations, followed by Dominion Of Ashes, leaning towards modern Symphonic Black Metal and also presenting elements from traditional Norwegian Black Metal, but with its core essence still bringing the band’s unique Middle-Eastern Black Metal. In addition, the deranged vocals by Ghorr remind me of Marduk’s Mortuus, which of course translates into sheer violence and awesomeness.

Then phantasmagoric keys kick off the demolishing Marauder’s Mark, taking the band’s onrush of blackened sounds to a whole new level and also presenting some interesting breaks and variations to add a few extra layers to the overall result; and Of Dust Returned, which sounds similar to its predecessor but bringing even heavier and darker nuances. In other words, this is contemporary Black Metal blended with Symphonic and Atmospheric Black Metal, with its in-sync keys and guitars generating a truly Stygian ambience. And there’s time for one last blast of their unparalleled Black Metal with the magnificent Scattered Sands, a climatic conclusion to such incredible album of extreme music showcasing an interesting paradox between Ghorr’s devilish gnarls and the ethereal sounds emanating from Vezir’s keys. Furthermore, what I’m about to say might sound weird for some of you, but I can easily visualize a lustful woman doing a heavier-than-usual belly dance to this amazing metal tune.

If you have what it takes to join the empire of flammable and epic Black Metal ruled by this up-and-coming Australian horde, simply go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to their music on Spotify and on ReverbNation, and grab your copy of Age of Ascendancy (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) from the Metal Hell Records’ BandCamp or webstore (as a regular CD version or as a special bundle that includes the CD plus a metallic gold embroidered logo patch, a 1.25″ pin back button, a vinyl logo sticker, and a download code for the digital version of the album), as well as from CD Baby, iTunes or Amazon. And after putting your hands on such distinct album, I dare you to not get completely addicted to the band’s vibrant and bold Middle-Eastern Symphonic Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Vengeance In Blood, Ascension of Iron, Winter March and Scattered Sands.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Metal Hell Records

Track listing
1. Age Of Ascendancy 1:57
2. Battle Of Tyrants 4:49
3. Vengeance In Blood 5:02
4. Ottoman’s Demise 5:44
5. Ascension of Iron 4:54
6. Behest Of The Chosen 7:39
7. Winter March 7:00
8. Dominion Of Ashes 4:54
9. Marauder’s Mark 5:32
10. Of Dust Returned 5:13
11. Scattered Sands 7:10

Band members
Ghorr – vocals, guitars
Ferus – guitars
Vezir – keyboards, orchestration
Khan – drums, percussion

Live musicians
Yassa – vocals
Ramz – bass

Interview – Stein Akslen (Minneriket)

Let’s talk about the darkness with the multi-talented Stein Akslen, the mastermind behind Norwegian Romantic Black Metal project Minneriket.

Stein Akslen (Minneriket)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? Who is Stein Akslen, and what is Minneriket? Why and when did you decide to start such distinct project, and where do you want Minneriket to be in the following years?

Stein Akslen:   Minneriket is a solo project I started a few years ago to be able to create music focusing solely on atmosphere and an internal dialogue with myself. It’s about being nostalgic but still innovative, rooted in tradition but walking new paths and carving out a whole new beast. As some might know, I started in Blodsgard long before Minneriket and I saw great success with that band where we hold our art to the highest standards truly representing the elite of the genre, but I needed another outlet – something more egocentric, minimalistic and completely without ambitions. With Blodsgard we have goals, but in Minneriket there are no goals – there are only soundscapes, audio therapy and a straight-to-the-core kind of songwriting. The only thing I know about the future for Minneriket is that it will continue to evolve, that no ground is too sacred to tread upon, and that there are no barriers for sound, message or aesthetics.

THM: As mentioned in our review to your latest album Anima Sola, Minneriket plays what can be called “Romantic Black Metal”. Can you explain us what such distinct label truly means? What’s the real definition of it? And do you enjoy having your music categorized this way?

SA:   Well I coined the term, so of course I enjoy it. The Romantic era was an artistic and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century. The Romantic art had an emphasis on strong emotions, individualism and a glorification of the cultural past and the nature that surrounds us. This is a philosophy that resonates with what I do with Minneriket.

Romance is so much more than just the popularization of love. Romance is strong and deep emotional desires, a yearning to connect to something and to grow emotionally attached. This approach, trying to convey the deep longing for something outside of yourself, either in nature or spirit, is the essence of what I wish to achieve with Minneriket.

THM:  The title and artwork (designed by Czech artist Anna Marine) in Anima Sola (or “lonely soul” in English) are based on the catholic imagery of the lonely spirit burning in purgatory. In addition to that, you mentioned you composed Anima Sola because “we need to talk about the darkness”. Can you tell us more details about that?

SA:   “We need to talk about the darkness” become like a tag-line for this release. You know, Black Metal music has become this watered-down version of itself: people compose music in a certain way and sing about certain topics because they’re expected to – because they have this blue-print of what an album should look and sound like. It’s a very shallow understanding of art, and I oppose that with every fiber of my body. You can spew out album after album claiming you’re the Antichrist incarnate, and nobody bats an eye because that’s just “how it’s supposed to be”. I need to make something that’s real. That will speak directly to your emotions. To make you question your existence and reflect on your life and values.

I’m a melancholic person by nature, and decided to dwell in that mental basement for a lot longer than usual when crafting this album. A lot of Black Metal listeners have a very superficial understanding of the darkness they pride themselves in representing and that’s what makes this an uncomfortable album for many; it’s true, it’s real, and it’s challenging. There’s no aggression here, no hatred or other lyrical “staples” – no easy way out – it’s solitude, depression, anxiety and a yearning for something outside of your reach. We all feel this from time to time, some more than others, but I wanted to take the time to really explore this. I don’t respect either taboos nor your perfect presentation of life on social media – I want what’s real, what’s uncomfortable and the raw and untainted emotions… And that is why we need to talk about the darkness.

THM: In Anima Sola, you offer the listener the chance to enjoy your classic Black Metal in both English and Norwegian, with pretty much half of the album being in one language, half in the other.  How do you decide if a song will be sung in English or Norwegian? What’s your process to write the lyrics for a song?

SA:   Earlier I used to think that it was a conscious choice I did. That the songs in Norwegian perhaps were closer to heart, and that the ones in English were more directed outwards to an audience. But I’m not so sure anymore. I prefer Norwegian myself, but I’ve got to be pragmatic about it too – some things just sound better in English. I can’t force it into one way or another, if a translation would diminish the value of the lyrics. So I really just let the songs decide the language themselves.

I always start with the lyrics, or at least some half-finished lyrics. Maybe just a title or a few sentences. Then I build the words and the music around this idea. I’m looking for “What was the essence of this word?”, “What were I feeling when I wrote this sentence?”, then I revisit that place inside myself time after time until the lyrics are done and I can start creating an audio representation of the words, which then turns into the whole song. I go back and forth a lot of course, but that’s the main framework I work within.

Album Review – Minneriket / Anima Sola (2018)

THM:  Although Minneriket is considered a one-man band, you had the help of guest musician Fredrik Rex (Blodsgard) on guitars and bass in two songs of the album, An All Too Human Heart and Det lyset jeg ikke kan se (“the light I cannot see”). How did you invite Fredrik to be part of the album, and how was the recording process with him?

SA:   Well I’ve worked with Rex in Blodsgard for about 10 years now, so it’s only natural that if I’m looking for creative input that he’s my go-to-guy. He’s got a whole other kind of musical understanding than I have, and he’s both very creative and have good techniques. I have pretty deep trust-issues when it comes to my art, so it’s best for me to use him because we’re able to communicate well. So I just invited him over one day, played him some of music I was working on, it was mostly finished already and just needed the right kind of flavor and seasoning, so I asked him for a few lead-guitar parts and a bass-line. Very low-key and informal, just how it should be. After using about 30 minutes to tell me how weird it is that I tune my guitars a half step down, he took about 15 minutes to record the parts.

And here’s where I need to admit a mistake… He actually played on “Tro, håp og kjærlighet” and not “An All Too Human Heart”. That’s a typo in the booklet!

THM: One of my favorite songs of the album, the full-bodied aria Det lyset jeg ikke kan se, feels like a 13-minute descent into the pits of hell. How was it for you to compose such bold song? And is the final result exactly what you wanted it to be after listening to it now that the album is out?

SA:   I’m glad you like that one! It was a very challenging song to do. I needed it to be this kind of huge sonic behemoth, and it’s difficult to maintain the claustrophobic atmosphere throughout 13 whole minutes. The music had to fit the lyrics, which really takes you to the dark corners of your mind. It needed to be repetitive and monotonous, a feeling of hopelessness but still dynamic and drive the song forward, and at the same time without becoming boring or losing the listener on the way. But I think that the way the guitars blend with the different vocal techniques I used here really makes it work.

Hindsight will always be 20-20 (to do some Megadeth-paraphrasing), but looking back on it I’m really proud of that song. It has a little of everything that Minneriket is about, and it’s objectively a great piece of music too.

THM: The closing song of the album, Time for Suicide, seems to deal with a very delicate and controversial topic. The lyrics for this song are dark, pensive and somewhat disturbing, like “Headaches taunt me with flashbacks of the past / Call it fear, but I think it runs deeper / an infection that eats away at my soul / furthering my suffering and doubling my agony”. What details can you tell us about this song? What were your main goal when you wrote it?

SA:   I guess this is a song with no hidden meaning, haha! It’s a pretty obvious thing. “Time for Suicide” is just that, a song about suicidal thought patterns and self-destructive behavior that may have risen above you and become its own entity. The moment where you lose your autonomy and your control. This all goes back to what I said initially about how we need to talk about the darkness. These things build up inside of a lot of people, and it’s controversial, it’s taboo, and even hidden away in shame. That’s not healthy, not at all. We need to face it, own it, and in that way rise above it and take back control. It’s not a song that advocates suicide or self-harm, not at all, but it’s a song that let’s you know that it’s out there, that we shouldn’t hide it just because it’s uncomfortable. There’s no reason to be ashamed of who you are or what emotions you’re experiencing, and I find it very important to shine some light on these subjects. Nothing good comes from keeping quiet.

THM: Now let’s talk about the musician Stein Akslen. Who are your biggest influences in music? And what other sources do you usually go to while crafting your Black Metal music?

SA:   I always credit the ambient albums by Burzum and Mortiis/Vond with being my initial inspiration to start making music myself. This extreme minimalistic synth atmosphere was something unlike anything I’d ever heard when I first experienced it, and I instantly knew that I would be able to convey emotions in a similar manner. The “Stormblåst” album by Dimmu Borgir (the original one of course, not the re-recording) meant a lot to me with how it balances harmonies with rhythms, and “Pentagram” by Gorgoroth have some of the best rock’n’roll drums you’ll ever hear within Black Metal, that was a bold choice and really lifted that album to a new bar.

Lyric-wise I don’t look so much to other bands, as I honestly believe most of the lyrics – especially in the metal genre – is complete and utter crap. There’s a few exceptions, but they are few and far between. I rather look to older poets, like Ulven, Jonsson, Crowley, Ibsen, etc., to see how it’s possible to say a lot with few words. To really grasp just how minimalistic you can be and still present a mountain of meaning.

Stein Akslen (Minneriket) at the legendary Nidarosdomen in Trondheim, Norway

THM: Do you envision Minneriket playing live one day as a full band, with other musicians helping you take your music to the stage? Or is it always going to be a pure studio project? And do you dream of touring with any specific renowned Black Metal band in the future with any of your bands or projects (Blodsgard, V0id&Khaos, Vakslen or Minneriket)?

SA:   I’ll go live with Minneriket when I can co-headline with Burzum and have Darkthrone as supporting act.

THM:  What’s your view of the current metal scene in Norway, the birthplace of Black Metal? Is it pointing to an exciting future? What other underground acts hailing from Norway like Minneriket can you recommend to our readers?

SA:   Mostly just a bunch of self-obsessed drunken party-rockers who thinks spikes and corpse paint gives them some sort of credibility or validity. Doing their best to re-enact the music they like themselves, while completely failing to grasp or present anything of integrity or artistic value. I can’t recommend anyone in good conscience.

THM: Thank you very much for your time, and I hope to hear more from Minneriket in a not-so-distant future as your music is truly captivating. Please feel free to send your final words and considerations to our readers, and to invite everyone to join the dark world of Minneriket.

SA: Thank you. I released the last video from Anima Sola for the song “Alle hjerter banker ei” (Not all hearts beat) a few days ago for a fitting celebration of Valentines day… And after popular demand I also made Minneriket merchandise available for the first time ever, and everything can be ordered through the links on www.minneriket.com.

Links
Minneriket Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp

Album Review – Minneriket / Anima Sola (2018)

A scorching extravaganza of Norwegian Black Metal that will consume your soul, thoroughly put together by a one-man army of darkness.

Norwegian Romantic Black Metal one-man army Minneriket is the work of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, who created the project back in 2014 for as much a philosophical and spiritual channeling as a musical outlet. Drawing on influences as various as punk and goth yet steeped in the intensity of the early Norwegian Black Metal scene, Minneriket, which translates as “the kingdom of memories”, is honest and real, reflecting both self and society, knocking down barriers and ignoring taboos, breathing new life into the genre in a completely uncompromising manner. After the releases of the albums Vargtimen in 2015, Stjerner, speil og svartebøker… in 2016, and more recently the Burzum tribute From the Veins of a Nearly Dead Boy in 2017 (which officially received inclusion on the Vikernes Burzum website), Minneriket returns in full force, unleashing upon humanity the project’s latest opus Anima Sola.

The title of the album, which means “lonely soul” in English, and the artwork, designed by Czech artist Anna Marine, are based on the catholic imagery of the lonely spirit burning in purgatory. The soul which is burning forever, but is never entirely consumed by the flames. It’s the war between spirits and matter, and fire as both a destructive force of nature and the kindle in your heart. Musically speaking, Anima Sola is a scorching extravaganza of Norwegian Black Metal that will consume your soul, with Stein doing a fantastic job on vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards throughout the whole album, leaving you completely disoriented after each of its ten piercing compositions is over, it doesn’t matter if sung in English or in his mother tongue Norwegian.

Tro, håp og kjærlighet (Norwegian for “faith, hope and love”) brings a somber, melancholic intro that keeps growing darker and darker, until Stein arises from the crypts of hades with his hellish gnarls, with his Stygian guitars generating a mesmerizing rhythm. In other words, this is Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest. And things get even better in An All Too Human Heart, featuring guest musician Fredrik Rex  (Blodsgard) on guitars and bass. Offering the listener that strident Black Metal riffage we all love so much, Stein attacks our souls with an infernal storm of old school Norwegian Black Metal, sounding absolutely bestial on vocals and, consequently, more obscure than anything or anyone you can imagine. Furthermore, it’s impressive how he masterfully blends the sheer obscurity of Black Metal with the smoothness and delicacy of ambient music, which is exactly the case in When Life Gets Sick, the Dead Grow Strong, always sounding and feeling pugnacious and chthonic, with the song’s riffs and beats being in full diabolical sync, effectively boosting its overall impact.

Then disturbing sounds permeate the air in I am the Serpent Son, a song tailored for lovers of the darkest form of Norwegian Extreme Metal where Stein uses his voice in an otherworldly way to distill its stylish lyrics (“I submit to your beauty and wisdom / I will learn all your black arts / Mother Lilith! / See to all my needs / so that I may grow and conquer this world”). And there’s not a single second of peace or hope in over seven minutes of extreme music in Between Infinity and Melancholy, where Stein keeps firing his blistering guitar lines and enraged vociferations, with the musicality feeling extremely raw and primeval, but still very polished due to the above average production of the album. Then in Det lyset jeg ikke kan se (or “the light I cannot see”), also featuring Fredrik Rex, we face over 13 minutes of a descent into the pits of hell full where thunderous bass punches and steady beats steal the spotlight for the first three minutes, before a sonic onrush of traditional Black Metal lacerates our minds mercilessly. In addition, Stein and his Minneriket don’t let our souls rest not even during the atmospheric break in this full-bodied blackened aria, proving how precise he is with his instruments.

Stein then treats us with a wicked beginning and his disturbing, Satanic vocal lines in Sorger er tyngst i solskinn (“sorrow is the heaviest in sunshine”), all effectively supported by the song’s somber instrumental pieces, feeling extremely metallic, inhuman and bizarre from start to finish; while Alle hjerter banker ei (or “all hearts beat one” in English) leans towards vile Blackened Doom, where once again Stein delivers hypnotizing riffs and beats that will drag your soul to the underworld, with endless grief and despair flowing from all instruments. And his most damned and depressive side keeps dominating his mind in the desperate hymn Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan (“pain, beauty and Satan”), being slow and steady as good Doom Metal should be without forgetting the project’s old school Black Metal core, before a sonic havoc of putrid sounds entitled Time for Suicide comes crushing our hearts, with its lyrics being as perturbing as they can be, especially through Stein’s evil gnarls (“Headaches taunt me with flashbacks of the past / Call it fear, but I think it runs deeper / an infection that eats away at my soul / furthering my suffering and doubling my agony”).

In summary, Anima Sola, which can be enjoyed in its entirety on Spotify, might be considered by many Minneriket’s strongest work to date, proving how focused, professional and passionate about extreme music Mr. Akslen is, always moving forward and never sounding outdated or bland. You should definitely check his other albums, news and future plans on Facebook and on YouTube, and grab your copy of Anima Sola through the project’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. Stein himself commented that the album was created because “we need to talk about the darkness”, also saying that the album “speaks of solitude and ineptitude, loss and yearning; humorless Black Metal with music and lyrics equally painful and raw.” Well, let’s face it, the man behind Minneriket more than succeeded in sending his dark message to the world with Anima Sola.

Best moments of the album: An All Too Human Heart, I am the Serpent Son and Det lyset jeg ikke kan se.

Worst moments of the album: Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan.

Released in 2018 Akslen Black Art Records

Track listing  
1. Tro, håp og kjærlighet 5:40
2. An All Too Human Heart 3:33
3. When Life Gets Sick, the Dead Grow Strong 3:59
4. I am the Serpent Son 4:34
5. Between Infinity and Melancholy 7:35
6. Det lyset jeg ikke kan se 13:25
7. Sorger er tyngst i solskinn 6:10
8. Alle hjerter banker ei 4:52
9. Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan 3:30
10. Time for Suicide 2:27

Band members
Stein Akslen – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards

Guest musician
Fredrik Rex – guitars and bass on “An All Too Human Heart” and “Det lyset jeg ikke kan se”

Album Review – Corpus Diavolis / Atra Lumen (2017)

Open your mind and follow the black light formed of ritualistic Black, Death and Doom Metal by this extremely talented horde hailing from France.

Musically conceiving a ritualistic feeling into the vibes of Black Metal, the unstoppable French horde known as Corpus Diavolis has never been tempted to lose themselves on their own musical maelstrom since their inception in 2008 in the city of Marseille, located in the always beautiful Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. After the release of their debut EP Nightsky Orgia in 2009 and their highly acclaimed full-length albums Revolucia in 2010 and Entheogenesis in 2013, the band led by multi-instrumentalist Daemonicreator brings forth now in 2017 Atra Lumen, a monumental opus tailored for fans of the darkest side of music.

Atra Lumen, which means “black light” in Latin, blends the band’s unrelenting Black, Death and Doom Metal with concepts such as Shamanism, ceremonial magic, tarot, the esoteric journey of English occultist Aleister Crowley and the philosophical transcendence of Chilean-French artist and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky, penetrating your skin, your mind and your heart and, consequently, enfolding you in a dark and mystical aura from start to finish. Each one of its eight tracks is unique, obscure and ominous, showcasing not only the talent of each member of Corpus Diavolis, but also how vicious and mesmerizing their creations feel when every distinct sound is thoroughly put together.

We’re invited to enter the gates of the underworld to the sound of the opening track, named Revelations Before Dawn, where doomed beats and a menacing ambience warm up the listener before Daemonicreator begins vociferating like a demon, with guitarists Analyser and Lord Khaos, together with bassist Funeral, delivering pure old school Black Metal through their instruments. The low-tuned riffs by Analyser and Lord Khaos and the rhythmic blast beats by drummer IX generate a hellish atmosphere in the Black Metal feast The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, once again showcasing all the potency and malignancy of the music by Corpus Diavolis; followed by L’Oeil Unique, or “the one eye” from French, uniting the most obscure forms of Black and Doom Metal (feeling almost like Blackened Doom), with highlights to the precise drumming by IX and to the Stygian way Daemonicreator declaims the song’s lyrics.

Signs Of End Times displays a truly devilish start to another powerful, full-bodied creation by Corpus Diavolis, before all hell breaks loose and Daemonicreator begins growling his blasphemous words potently, not mention the amazing job done by the duo of darkness Analyser and Lord Khaos with their demonic guitars. The next track, nicely entitled Wine of The Beast, brings forward more Doom Metal beats and somber passages by Daemonicreator and his followers, sounding slow-paced and diabolical at times, and faster and full of hatred at others. Furthermore, as a fan of extreme music, do you think you have the guts to drink the wine of the beast? Before you can even answer that, bells tolling ignite another evil aria of Black Metal titled Flesh to Flesh, again offering the most obscure elements of Doom Metal added to their already darkened music, with Analyser and Lord Khaos leading the sonority with their cutting old school riffage.

With sheer irreligiousness emanating from its riffs and blast beats, Thy Glorification is a violent, straightforward tune that leans towards Norwegian Black Metal where we can enjoy another nefarious performance by Daemonicreator on vocals, while the instrumental pieces get heavier, more impactful and more aggressive as the music progresses. And last but not least, Sick Waters, which presents a horror-inspired cinematic intro, is a very atmospheric chant focusing on the devilish gnarls by Daemonicreator and the steady but potent beats by IX. Moreover, the song’s beautiful fusion of the aggressiveness of Black Metal with the mournful aspects of Doom Metal closes the album in a blackened way, leaving us all eager for more of the extreme spawns by Corpus Diavolis.

Not only you can follow this awesome horde of esotericism and wickedness through their Facebook page and purchase your copy of Atra Lumen at several locations, such as the band’s own webshop or BandCamp, the ATMF’s webshop or BandCamp, the Season of Mist’s webshop, Amazon or Discogs (and pay attention as the physical copy of the album is limited to 400 copies only in digipak format with an extensive booklet), but Corpus Diavolis are also going to be one of the attractions at the first ATMF Festival, which will take place at the Eresia Metalfest on July 2 this year in Resia, located in the province of Udine, in Italy. In a nutshell, all you have to do to relish the extreme music by Corpus Diavolis is open your mind and your heart, surrender to their ritualistic sounds, and follow their black light formed of Black, Death and Doom Metal, as simple as that.

Best moments of the album: The Ardent Jewel of His Presence, Signs Of End Times and Thy Glorification.

Worst moments of the album: Flesh to Flesh.

Released in 2017 Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum

Track listing
1. Revelations Before Dawn 6:22
2. The Ardent Jewel of His Presence 5:52
3. L’Oeil Unique 5:54
4. Signs Of End Times 4:12
5. Wine of The Beast 6:27
6. Flesh to Flesh 4:52
7. Thy Glorification 3:37
8. Sick Waters 6:46

Band members
Daemonicreator – vocals, synths, theremine
Analyser – lead guitars
Lord Khaos – guitars
Funeral – bass
IX – drums

Album Review – Mørknatt / Witchcraft of Domination EP (2016)

If Norwegian Black Metal is what you truly desire, why not going to Spain instead of Norway and try the blasphemous music by this promising horde of darkness?

Rating5

coverWhenever you search for Black Metal, where do you usually go to as the most reliable source of that type of extreme music? I guess your answer is Norway, correct? What if I said you can also find high-end old school Norwegian Black Metal in a place not-so-far from Norway, but with a complete different culture and climate? I’m talking about Spain, more specifically the city of Tarragona, a port city located in the Catalonia region on the Mediterranean Sea, about one hour only from Barcelona. There you’ll find the up-and-coming Satanic/Pagan Black Metal heretics Mørknatt, who have just released their debut EP entitled Witchcraft of Domination.

Formed in 2014, this newborn band is obviously highly inspired by the biggest icons of Norwegian Black Metal such as Emperor, Immortal and Darkthrone, having even their name taken from the unique language spoken in the Kingdom of Norway (Mørknatt means “Dark Night” in Norwegian). Led by guitarist Kongen av Slanger (“King of Snakes” from Norwegian) and featuring a beyond controversial artwork by Spanish illustrator Ricardo Caballero, Witchcraft of Domination offers the listener four blasphemous and vile chants as an advancement of the band’s first album to be called Victorious Satan. And based on the content of this short and sweet EP, all hell will break loose when this Spanish horde finally unleashes their first full-length album upon humanity.

The first of the four ungodly tracks of the EP, named Calanda of Antichrist, brings forward classic Black Metal the likes of Gorgoroth and Immortal, with Fenrir summoning darkness through his satanic screams while Kongen av Slanger uses his guitar as a weapon of mass destruction. Moreover, the atmosphere is dense and vile, as expected from a Black Metal act as talented and focused as Mørknatt. Following that infernal start we have Satanic Sex, with one of those sexual/profane intros you should avoid listening to with your grandmother (unless she’s as diabolical as you are) or in front of innocent children. Anyway, the song’s blasphemous lyrics, together with its bestial riffs, are a tribute to true Black Metal and everything a diehard fan of the genre wants to hear in extreme music. And although drummer Kunstdood doesn’t smash his drums like in the previous track, he’s still very technical and heavy, effectively enhancing the song’s pungency.

mørknattThe next track, Serpents, presents a solid feast of extreme music with all traditional elements we enjoy like deep growls, lunatic screeches, hypnotizing riffs and relentless blast beats. In addition to that, both Kongen av Slanger and Fenrir display outstanding performances, being always beyond loyal to the foundations of Black Metal with their sounding. And finally, a brutal carnage named Ave Leviathan, which in my opinion is the most complete and gripping of the four tracks, transpires darkness and hate, switching from sheer bestiality played at full speed to slower but extremely heavy passages. The rhythmic drumming by Kunstdood matches perfectly with the infernal sounding emanating from guitar, bass and vocals, being the final ingredient in this full-bodied hymn of the netherworld.

While we all wait for the debutant full-length opus by Mørknatt, you can go give them a hellish shout at their Facebook page and enjoy their unyielding Black Metal on their YouTube channel, where you can listen to the entire Witchcraft of Domination EP. And in order to show your proper support to the independent metal scene, you can buy your digital copy of the album at their official BandCamp page. As aforementioned, it looks like Spain is an amazing alternative for fans of old school Norwegian Black Metal that want to “think outside Norway”, with the blasphemous and aggressive music by Mørknatt containing everything you look for in this legendary subgenre of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Ave Leviathan.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Calanda of Antichrist 4:54
2. Satanic Sex 4:06
3. Serpents 4:04
4. Ave Leviathan 5:46

Band members
Fenrir – vocals
Kongen av Slanger – lead guitar
Nergous – rythm guitar
Kunstdood – drums