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 – Eternal Sacrifice / Ad Tertium Librum Nigrum (2018)

Relive the glory of 90’s Black Metal by listening to “the third black book” diabolically brought into being by one of the most important names from the Brazilian extreme music scene.

Forged in the already distant year of 1993 in the blazing fires of Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, a malevolent Pagan/Black Metal unity that goes by the name of Eternal Sacrifice has been haunting our souls since their inception, aiming at delivering a detailed and obscure new concept inside the Pagan Black Metal genre and, therefore, creating their own unique sound from an amalgamation of influences and styles. Now in 2018 the horde comprised of M. T. L. H. Anton Naberius on vocals, Charles Lucxor Persponne on the guitar, Marquis Orias Snake also on the guitars and bass, Sado Baron Szandor Kastiphas on keyboards and Frater Deo Sóror Comite Ferro on drums is firing upon humanity their third concept album, entitled Ad Tertium Librum Nigrum, taking the Pagan Black Metal to a level never reached by another band in terms of sound and graphic production.

Featuring a Luciferian artwork by Brazilian designer Alan Luvarth and celebrating 25 years in the career of Eternal Sacrifice, Ad Tertivm Librvm Nigrvm, which by the way is Latin for “the third black book”, presents around one hour of malevolent sounds split into ten unrelenting new songs (all carrying fantastic names, by the way), consolidating the name of such distinct entity in the vanguard of the Brazilian Pagan Black Metal scene. “Ad Tertivm Librvm Nigrvm is the greatest proof that strength and perseverance always win; it is an album full of symbologies and spells, made exclusively for those who enjoy the songs of the left hand,” said the band’s frontman Naberius, positioning the album as an indispensable work for those who have experienced the glory of 90’s Black Metal, and for those who seek to know more about that golden age of extreme music.

Somber, smooth piano notes kick things off in the intro curiously titled Introiro, before the guitars by Charles and Orias generate an embracing atmosphere in The Three Mashu’s Seals – The Conquest of the Ganzir and Arzir Gates (Hazred Area), bringing the most melodic elements from modern-day Black Metal without losing their raw old school sonority, feeling like a hybrid of the early days of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and Marduk, with the keys by Kastiphas adding an extra touch of malignancy to the musicality. And this Brazilian horde keeps invading our minds with their relentless and demonic music in the 8-minute Melodic Black Metal extravaganza The Vision of the Light of the Sculptures in the Monument of Mashu (The Black Book of Signs and Evil Spells), with Frater crushing his drums while Kastiphas keeps blasting ethereal sounds through his keys, all spearheaded by the Stygian and cryptic growls and vociferations by Naberius.

The Amulet, the Fire and the Seals of Wisdom in the Course of a Triple Life carries a stunning name for an Extreme Metal song, with the slashing riffs by Charles and Orias dictating its rhythm, while Naberius roars and gnarls like a true demonic entity throughout the entire song and Frater keeps the ambience as eerie and menacing as it can be with his drums. Then we have The Revelations of the First Sigil, Lucifer, After a Saga of Delusions and Battles, a mid-tempo tune where all band members fire blackened sounds and tones with highlights to the demented growls by Naberius, not to mention how in sync the band’s stringed duo is with Kastiphas’ phantasmagorical keys, and there’s no time to breathe as Eternal Sacrifice keep firing blasphemy in the form of Pagan Black Metal in When Angel of Light in Ur, in Invoking the Second Sign Agga, even more eccentric and devilish than its predecessors albeit not as gripping, despite getting back to a to a more violent and demolishing sonority in its final part.

Epic keys and guitars, unstoppable drums and a huge dosage of malignancy from Naberius’ otherworldly growls are the main ingredients in Nasha, Restitution of Double the Light (Luce) and Harmony (Fer) – Pagan’s Calls, a visceral fusion of Black and Pagan Metal setting fire to the atmosphere in a thrilling manner (not to mention how pulverizing Charles and Orias are with their infernal axes), followed by Interludium, an epic bridge that captivates our senses for their final blast of Epic and Pagan Black Metal titled The Emptiness, the Guard of the Sortileges and the Time in which the Dust Takes the Rites, starting with an acoustic guitar accompanied by the howling sound of the wind, and gradually morphing into some sort of obscure mass of old school Black Metal infused with Symphonic and Pagan Black Metal elements, with the music flowing like a frantic creature in the dark led by Naberius and his wicked vocalizations, until all fades into the Mephistophelian outro Prologum, an ode to Lucifer that puts a climatic, creepy and hellish end to such blasphemous album.

After all is said and done, Ad Tertium Librum Nigrum, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from the Hammer of Damnation’s BandCamp page or webstore, can indeed be considered a modern-day masterpiece in Pagan Black Metal, becoming even more important in the Brazilian scene due to the constant struggles every metal band has to face to survive in the country. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Eternal Sacrifice by getting in touch with them through their Facebook page, by buying their new opus, and of course by enjoying reading (or I should say listening to) “the third black book” by this ruthless and demonic South American horde.

Best moments of the album: The Three Mashu’s Seals – The Conquest of the Ganzir and Arzir Gates (Hazred Area), The Amulet, the Fire and the Seals of Wisdom in the Course of a Triple Life and Nasha, Restitution of Double the Light (Luce) and Harmony (Fer) – Pagan’s Calls.

Worst moments of the album: When Angel of Light in Ur, in Invoking the Second Sign Agga.

Released in 2018 Hammer Of Damnation/Sangue Frio Records

Track listing    
1. Introiro 1:50
2. The Three Mashu’s Seals – The Conquest of the Ganzir and Arzir Gates (Hazred Area) 8:00
3. The Vision of the Light of the Sculptures in the Monument of Mashu (The Black Book of Signs and Evil Spells) 8:03
4. The Amulet, the Fire and the Seals of Wisdom in the Course of a Triple Life 6:27
5. The Revelations of the First Sigil, Lucifer, After a Saga of Delusions and Battles 5:12
6. When Angel of Light in Ur, in Invoking the Second Sign Agga 6:18
7. Nasha, Restitution of Double the Light (Luce) and Harmony (Fer) – Pagan’s Calls 7:59
8. Interludium 2:10
9. The Emptiness, the Guard of the Sortileges and the Time in which the Dust Takes the Rites 8:22
10. Prologum 3:08

Band members
M. T. L. H. Anton Naberius – vocals
Charles Lucxor Persponne – guitars
Marquis Orias Snake – guitars, bass
Sado Baron Szandor Kastiphas – keyboards
Frater Deo Sóror Comite Ferro – drums

Album Review – Isgalder / To The Hall Of The Stars EP (2018)

Enjoy the story about the journey of a man, wandering old forgotten paths in search of nature and solitude, told by a newcomer German Epic and Pagan Black Metal hailing from the Thuringian Forest.

Founded in 2017 by vocalist and guitarist Grimwald (Dauþuz, Wintarnaht) and drummer, bassist and keyboardist Moppel to hail earth and iron, German horde Isgalder has just emerged from the Thuringian Forest with a splendid piece of Epic and Pagan Black Metal influenced by early Falkenbach and Bathory, titled To The Hall Of The Stars, their debut EP that tells a little story about the journey of a man (the journey to the hall of the stars), wandering old forgotten paths in search of nature and solitude. Comprised of three original songs taken from the band’s forthcoming album and alternate versions of those same songs, the EP will provide you a very good taste of what Isgalder, which by the way is Old-High-German/Germanic and means “cold incantation” or “icy chant”, are capable of. Furthermore, although Grimwald and Moppel played all instruments and vocal parts in the EP, Isgalder are now comprised of the aforementioned dynamic duo plus VRCHTR on rhythm guitar and Aussen Geist on bass, meaning we can definitely (and hopefully) expect to witness the extreme music by Isgalder be materialized in the form of one or more live concerts in the near future.

The keys by Moppel kick off the epic and imposing tune The Ravendale, bringing an interesting “duel” of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, also presenting piercing guitar lines and lyrics that exhale Folk and Pagan Metal (“On farthest shores, there rest my fate / Far from mankind, the morbid, the pale / Native is that soil; silent and primordial / Astute raven summon me, to the hidden vail / The Ravendale / Forgotten and forsaken / The Ravedale / In solitude awaken”), all topped off by a climatic finale. Elder Wisdom, a very detailed and melodic creation by the duo, already starts in full force, bringing elements from Atmospheric Black Metal to their core Pagan and Black Metal, with Grimwald growling and gnarling nonstop while Moppel delivers brutality through his beats and some sort of “peace” through his keys, all at once; and as atmospheric and dense as both previous songs, Soaring Mountains showcases an old school Black Metal base solidified by  the band’s blast beats and scorching riffs, but with a strong Pagan Metal vein present in Grimwald’s growls and Moppel’s keys. Moreover, you’ll certainly feel compelled to sing its lyrics along with Isgalder (“Great soaring Mountains / Grey stone mystic monument / Arise against the sky / Wilderness defend”).

As already mentioned, side B of To The Hall Of The Stars contains an alternative version of the EP, without keyboards, varied vocals and a different mix. For instance, The Ravendale sounds rawer and more piercing, closer to traditional Black Metal, while Elder Wisdom is even more devastating and epic and Soaring Mountains goes straight-to-the-point as well, displaying an enhanced Black Metal vibe and feeling slightly less Pagan Metal. You can compare the regular and alternate versions of each song by listening to the full EP on YouTube, and don’t forget to follow Isgalder on Facebook and on YouTube. In a nutshell, To The Hall Of The Stars (on sale at the band’s own BandCamp, at the Hellthrasher Productions’ BandCamp, at the Naturmacht Productions’ BandCamp and at the Narbentage Produktionen’s BandCamp, as well as at Discogs in CD or cassette version) is a fantastic “appetizer” to what we can expect from Isgalder when they release their first full-length opus, and as soon as that happens we will be able to happily and willingly succumb to their cold incantations.

Best moments of the album: Elder Wisdom (both regular and alternate versions).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. The Ravendale 7:06
2. Elder Wisdom 7:54
3. Soaring Mountains 5:33
4. The Ravendale (alternate version) 6:51
5. Elder Wisdom (alternate version) 7:44
6. Soaring Mountains (alternate version) 5:27

Band members
Grimwald – vocals, guitars
Moppel – bass, keyboards, 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

Album Review – Sacrilegium / Anima Lucifera (2016)

Behold the spawn of the scalding union between Pagan Black Metal and mysticism, crafted by an old school band from Poland that has risen from the ashes like a demonic phoenix.

Rating4

sacrilegium_anima_lucifera_1000x1000“I have known innumerable Gods
All ethereal and infinite…  the stars.
And I saw God in all the world’s substance
I saw that God is not the only God of the Ultimate Abyss…” – Faust, by Fernando Pessoa

Almost 20 years after the release of their debut album called Wicher, from 1996, Polish Pagan Black Metal warlocks Sacrilegium finally return with their second full-length opus, stylishly entitled Anima Lucifera. The album title, which translated from Latin means “soul of light”, refers directly to a line from a poem by Polish poet Leopold Staff, whose poetry also feature together with the works of important names such as W. B. Yeats and Fernando Pessoa in the fervent lyrics by the band’s lead singer, founder and mastermind Nantur (also known as simply “N”). With that said, you can already envision what you’ll find when you start listening to this excellent extreme music album.

Exploring occult themes which accompanied the band members at the beginning of their journey in the 90’s in Wejherowo, a town in northern Poland not far from the city of Gdańsk, but at the same time expressing the experience the band has gained over the past 20 years not only as musicians but also as human beings, Anima Lucifera offers a lot more to the listener than “just” traditional Black Metal. This esoteric content can be seen already on the artwork by underground designer Marcin Lojek (Thaw, Nadja, Sunrise), building a connection between Sacrilegium’s aggressive past and their arcane and freakish present (and future).

And Sacrilegium actually start the opening track, Preludium / Heavenwings Shrugged, in a completely different way from their 1996 debut, sounding very esoteric, but that’s just until their crude and vicious old school Black Metal feast begins, with the bestial riffs by guitarist Suclagus (or simply “S”) shining amidst the blast beats fired by drummer R. A similar pattern is found in Angelus (Anima Lucifera), where an angelical ambience brings comfort to our hearts in a less ferocious rhythm with some elements of traditional Heavy Metal and even Gothic Metal added to it. The harsh snarls by N and the awesome solos by S make this tune one of my favorites of the entire album, with its second half exploding into brutal Black Metal for the total delight of fans of the genre.

Sacrilegium band 2015Their eccentric and occult vein keeps flourishing in Mare Tenebrarum by blending mysticism with sheer barbarism, and if you love the disturbing sound of Black Metal drumming I can assure you what R provides in this chant is exactly what you’re looking for. Also more melodic than usual, The Serpent Throne showcases a passionate and flammable performance by the entire band, with its spot-on background keyboards increasing its effectiveness. Once again, the music morphs into a violent tune and the band’s characteristic uproar returns at full force, haunting us all until its fiendish ending connects with the next track, entitled …and Soul. A solid riffage and a smooth piano lead the sounding on the first half of the song, and following the band’s distinct “formula” they fire Black Metal like there’s no tomorrow after a short while with highlights to the cavernous growls by N.

Venomous Spell Of Fate transpires brutality and despair from the very first second, with some nice breaks added to provide more intricacy to the overall result. Moreover, R is on his beast mode behind his drum set, contributing to boost the malignancy found in this bestial chant. And following that sonic massacre, dissonant noises kick off the chthonic tune named Desiderium Immortalis, where N offers some possessed screams throughout the whole song. It’s sheer Black Metal with nothing truly remarkable in it, but at least it keeps the album at a good level of quality. Lastly, how about an 8-minute feast of demonic growls, blast beats and guitar riffs played at the speed of light to conclude Anima Lucifera? This is what you’ll be able to enjoy in Anima Lucifera / Epilog, with N leading some sort of black mass so demented his harsh screams are. Thus, when the music is over we have three minutes of obscure and eerie passages similar to how the album started, closing the Black Metal circle generated by Sacrilegium.

Do you want to know more about this old school Polish institution and their rousing Pagan Black Metal? Simply go check their Facebook page for more information on the band, and buy your copy of Anima Lucifera at their BandCamp page or at the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page to truly feel how boisterous and esoteric they can sound at the same time. Sacrilegium offer the perfect marriage between Extreme Metal and mysticism, and they want you to behold the spawn of this scalding union through their devilish music.

Best moments of the album: Angelus (Anima Lucifera), The Serpent Throne and Venomous Spell Of Fate.

Worst moments of the album: Desiderium Immortalis.

Released in 2016 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Preludium / Heavenwings Shrugged 5:44
2. Angelus (Anima Lucifera) 4:29
3. Mare Tenebrarum 4:33
4. The Serpent Throne 4:49
5. …and Soul 4:53
6. Venomous Spell Of Fate 4:22
7. Desiderium Immortalis 4:35
8. Anima Lucifera / Epilog 8:18

Band members
N (Nantur) – vocals
S (Suclagus) – guitars
C – bass
R – drums

Album Review – Fjorsvartnir / Mzoraxc’ Forbandelse (2015)

Loyal to the foundations of Black Metal, this talented one-man army from Denmark offers an action-packed album that, above all things, sounds fresh and unique at all times.

Rating4

FJORSVARTNIR - 'Mzoraxc' Forbandelse' , front cover 2015Fans of Scandinavian mythology, Vikings, battles, drinking and atmospheric extreme music, behold the brand new opus by Danish Melodic/Pagan Black Metal one-man army Fjorsvartnir, the excellent Mzoraxc’ Forbandelse, or “Mzoraxc’ Curse” in English. Not only the album took three years to be concluded, but it’s also the first of the band’s three full-length releases to be fully in Danish, and by that you can imagine how organic it sounds and how connected to the themes proposed the music is.

Founded in 2007 in the stunning city of Copenhagen, Denmark by multi-instrumentalist Fjorgynn (who’s supported by three other musicians when it’s time to materialize his music during the band’s live performances), the music by Fjorsvartnir can be at the same time a demonic onslaught and a melodic aria of melancholy, depending on the topic chosen by Fjorgynn when composing his songs. If this is not enough to show you the depth of Fjorsvartnir’s music, maybe the explanation for the name of the band can help you understand that. Fjorsvartnir is another name for Rimfaxe, the black horse that runs over the sky carrying the moon in its chariot, driven by a giant woman named Nat. With that said, are you ready for battle now?

Pagan and nature elements kick off the opening chant, entitled Ravneskrig Og Ulvehyl (“The Raven Scream And The Wolf Howl”), which after a brief acoustic intro becomes a powerful and symphonic exhibit of Scandinavian Black Metal. In addition, it’s impressive how Fjorgynn is capable of crafting such organic and imposing music all by himself, where not only his vocals sound truly demonic but his riffs are also exactly what good extreme music demands. The following tune, Nordens Genopstandelse (“Nordic Resurrection”), is more inclined to traditional Black Metal, with the incorporation of symphonic elements in the background creating a beautiful melody that supports the sonic havoc presented from start to finish. Besides, Fjorgynn delivers desperate vocals mixed with deeper guttural growls, sounding violent and harmonious at the same time.

Embraced by a very solid instrumental, Fjorsvartnir offer us an epic and ominous tune forged in the fires of hell named En Rejse Igennem Fortidens Riger (“A Journey Through Past Kingdoms”), where its keyboards act like a melancholic ray of light in the middle of all the darkness generated by the other instruments, reminding me of some old songs by Dimmu Borgir. Moreover, its last part feels like an ode to anguish, only making it even more enjoyable to fans of Black and Doom Metal. The Viking/Pagan instrumental tune Riget (“Empire”) is a pleasant surprise after so much despair, with Fjorgynn doing a superb job showing his music is more than just pure Black Metal, before Mzoraxc – Mødet Med Underverdenen (“Mzoraxc – Meeting With The Underworld”) rumbles the earth with a creepy intro and a somber rhythm led by its guitar riffs. It has those mesmerizing blast beats found in traditional Black Metal boosted by the harsh growls by Fjorgynn, and although I (unfortunately) do not speak Danish I’m absolutely sure the story told during the song is complex, intense and gripping.

FJORSVARTNIR - promo photo 2015Tailored for fans of complex Extreme Metal, Krigssat contains elements from the most obscure Black Metal from Norway, the more melodic lines from Sweden and the symphonic vibe found in bands from Norway, Finland and the UK, with the gentle and operatic female vocals being a welcome touch of beauty to the song, followed by Det Sidste Slag (“The Last Battle”), a highly recommended soundtrack for an epic battle. I love how the song keeps changing its rhythm and emotions; for instance, you can enjoy sheer brutality through its sick blast beats or feel enfolded by its ominous passages, as there’s excellence for all types of extreme music fans (especially if you are a true black metaller, you’ll go crazy with this incredible composition). Once again, Fjorgynn sounds like a demon incarnate on vocals, which only adds more wickedness to the song. And to properly wrap things up, the melancholic outro Valkyrie provides the listener the sensation of a sorrowful aftermath in a precise and passionate way.

Fjorsvartnir, the Norse creation by the talented Fjorgynn, can be reached through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, and the energetic Mzoraxc’ Forbandelse can be purchased at the band’s official BandCamp page. Loyal to the foundations of Black Metal, Fjorsvartnir created an action-packed album that, above all things, sounds fresh and unique at all times, even amidst so many other extreme music bands available worldwide.

Best moments of the album: Ravneskrig Og Ulvehyl, Nordens Genopstandelse and Det Sidste Slag.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Grom Records

Track listing
1.Ravneskrig Og Ulvehyl 6:35
2.Nordens Genopstandelse 6:52
3.En Rejse Igennem Fortidens Riger 8:42
4.Riget 2:40
5.Mzoraxc – Mødet Med Underverdenen 6:42
6.Krigssat 6:20
7.Det Sidste Slag 7:48
8.Valkyrie 2:00

Band members
Fjorgynn – vocals, all instruments

Live
Fjorgynn – vocals, lead & rhythm guitar
Helgarm – lead & rhythm guitar
Onslaughter – keyboards
Arent – drums

Album Review – Valknacht / Le Sacrifice D’Ymir (2014)

There are Vikings in Canada, and they play extraordinary heavy music.

Rating4

coverWhat if someone told you there’s a band from Canada that merges the extremely rich Norse mythology, constantly present in the Melodic Death Metal from Amon Amarth, with the more extreme sonority and obscure atmosphere from Black Metal in a very powerful and engaging way? Fortunately that band indeed exists: it goes by the robust name of Valknacht, and in order to make things even more unique their new album, the excellent Le Sacrifice D’Ymir, is entirely sung in Canadian French.

This Heathen Black Metal band from Quebec (or “Black Métal Païen Québecois”, as they would prefer) started back in 2005 and has already released three full-length albums: When the Might of the Storm Becomes Mine (2009), Chants de Guerre (2011), and now Le Sacrifice D’Ymir (2014), with the latest being in my opinion their strongest work so far. Moreover, although I’m not an expert in Canadian French, it’s easy to notice the presence of very interesting themes such as mythology, history and paganism in their lyrics and compositions, making the whole experience of listening to Valknacht even more enjoyable.

For instance, the name of the album, “The Sacrifice Of Ymir” in English, seems to be inspired by Ymir, father of the race of giants in Norse mythology and the grandfather of Odin, King of the Gods. “In Norse mythology, Ymir is the primordial giant and the progenitor of the race of frost giants. He was created from the melting ice of Niflheim, when it came in contact with the hot air from Muspell.”, according to the Encyclopedia Mythica. Honestly, it’s been quite a while since I saw such an original and appealing album name for the last time. But of course, not only the album name is good: each and every song from Le Sacrifice D’Ymir is a boisterous sonic storm that will please any headbanger that enjoys heavy riffs and a dense atmosphere together with an awesome lyrical content.

Le Sacrifice D’Ymir begins with the intro Normandnorum Ira, which opens the album at a high note and sounds as if it was tailored for an epic movie, followed by the perfect soundtrack for any battle La Bataille De Maldon, an excellent mix of Amon Amarth and Bathory with awesome vocals and damn heavy riffs and drums in its almost 10 minutes of awesomeness. And the Nordic battle rages on with Chants De Guerre, a Heavy Metal storm with a strong chorus that makes it one of the best of the entire album without any doubt.

valknachtThe next track, Sur Les Ruines De Rome, has a very dark and powerful atmosphere, and the addition of some folk elements (such as the flute) works really well when mixed with lead singer Thorleïf’s potent vocal range, which goes from sharp piercing vocals to totally gruesome guttural. And pay attention to the female vocals towards the end of the song, they’re pretty interesting too. Then comes what might be soon considered Valknacht’s biggest masterpiece: Le Sacrifice D’Ymir is a fast tune with an amazing intro and over 10 minutes of pure sonic massacre. It’s impossible not to love the riffs and the whole journey this song takes you through, and as soon as it’s over you’ll probably go back to listen to it again and again.

Furthermore, the epic side of the band continues to dominate their compositions in the last part of the album, with over 20 minutes of music in only three songs: De Murmures Et De Givre is more Folk and Black Metal than all other songs, albeit not as good; while Que Le Sang Constelle Mes Mains kicks off with a nice folk intro before turning into an extremely heavy song with massive riffs and drums. By the way, one interesting detail about this track are its rhythmic variations throughout the entire song, including nice acoustic passages and atmospheric keyboards. And finally we have Le Carmin Des Anges, a very Black Metal tune with an amazing riff in the beginning that remains as heavy as hell until the very end, closing the album in a very powerful way.

All band members did a wondrous job in this album, with highlights to the excellent lead singer Thorleïf and the monstrous drummer Matoleos. Not only that, the album art representing the sacrifice of Ymir is so professional and nicely done it could easily be mistaken with an actual painting at any vernissage, as even non-Heavy Metal fans would certainly appreciate it. The album is available for purchase HERE and HERE. By the way, you can also find an awesome limited edition available through the second link, which consists of a limited digipack (DVD size) hand numbered to 250 that includes the same booklet as the CD version and some extras.

To sum up, Le Sacrifice D’Ymir is a very good album that is here to prove to all of us that “la belle province” of Quebec has a lot more to offer than just smoked meat, poutine, Céline Dion and the Montreal Canadiens, and it will surely make not only the band members, but all “Québecois” metalheads and other Heavy Metal fans across the rest of Canada, very proud of their music.

Best moments of the album: La Bataille De Maldon, Chants De Guerre and Le Sacrifice D’Ymir.

Worst moments of the album: De Murmures Et De Givre.

Released in 2014 PRC Music

Track listing
1. Normandnorum Ira (Intro) 3:07
2. La Bataille De Maldon 9:32
3. Chants De Guerre 6:45
4. Sur Les Ruines De Rome 8:37
5. Le Sacrifice D’Ymir 10:07
6. De Murmures Et De Givre 7:17
7. Que Le Sang Constelle Mes Mains 7:24
8. Le Carmin Des Anges 4:56

Band members
Thorleïf – vocals
Dörv – guitars
Froidure – guitars
Siger – bass
Matoleos – drums