Album Review – Mord’A’Stigmata / Hope (2017)

Explore the obscure sea of negativity and spirituality crafted by this up-and-coming Polish unit, all embraced by atmospheric passages, caustic guitars and tormented growls.

Formed by guitarist, composer and main visionary Static in 2004 in Bochnia, a town located only around 50km from the multicultural city of Kraków, in southern Poland, Black/Avantgarde Metal act Mord’A’Stigmata has been on a constant growth since the band’s inception, reinventing themselves year after year with each album released and, at the same time, maintaining a reasonable distance from the main routes taken by extreme music in general. After the considerable success of their 2013 full-length album Ansia and their 2015 EP Our Hearts Slow Down, Mord’A’Stigmata return with their fourth full-length album, titled Hope, a bold musical statement that has all it takes to become their most accomplished work to date.

Divided into four distinct chapters, Hope is a ride into the palest corners of the void within oneself, a landscape of deep melancholy adorned with sparks of light that will please fans of bands such as Agalloch, Neurosis and Altar of Plagues. The album’s enigmatic artwork, designed by Bartek Rogalewicz from Hellywood (who has already worked with iconic groups like Rogi, Non Opus Dei and Behemoth), represents exactly what you’ll face in Hope, an obscure sea of negativity and spirituality embraced by lugubrious and atmospheric passages, caustic guitars and tormented growls, providing you a full-bodied experience in avant-garde extreme music.

The distorted but melodious lines crafted by guitarists Golem XIV and Static kick-off the 12-minute aria of darkness Hope, an ominous fusion of Black and Doom Metal where lead singer and bassist Ion effectively darkens the musicality with his hellish gnarls. Not only that, the band also brings forward hints of Blackened Doom and Dark Metal with their instruments, especially after four minutes when Ion delivers some deep clean vocals, with the music displaying a hypnotic pace until the song’s ardent ending. That obscure aura goes on in the Stygian and intricate composition The Tomb from Fear and Doubt, with drummer DQ and his doomed beats leading the rhythm while Ion grasps the song’s somber lyrics (“Have you ever lost something you ever had? / Have you ever missed someone that never was? / Have you ever stared into the abyss / with the matches stuck between the eyelids?”) and all instruments maintain a sulphuric stench reeking in the air. In addition to that, once again blending the darkest and most visceral elements from Black and Doom Metal, the wicked sounds emanating from the last part of the song will penetrate deep in your blackened soul without a shadow of a doubt.

Rhythmic beats and cursed guitars ignite another fantastic composition by Mord’A’Stigmata, entitled To Keep the Blood, where a melancholic but fierce instrumental builds the desired ambience for Ion to thrive with his devilish growls. This is not only the song with the most electrified vibe, but also a newborn hymn of Black and Doom Metal, with Golem XIV and Static enhancing the song’s impact considerably through their sharp guitar lines. Lastly, in the mournful In Less than No Time, tribal drumming and the band’s trademark damned sounds create a mesmerizing tone, growing in intensity until Ion comes vociferating his hopeless words (“There is a kind of grief / Can’t be expressed by tears / Nor yelled into the night / On an empty field”). Presenting elements from the music by Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Katatonia and other icons of Doom Metal, this beautiful creation by Mord’A’Stigmata is the perfect fourth and final act for Hope, with highlights to the superb work done by DQ on drums.

You can find all details about the chthonic creations of this talented quarter from Poland, as well as their current tour dates and plans for the future, through their Facebook page, with Hope being available for purchase at their official BandCamp page, at the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or webshop in CD-digipack, in LP format, as a CD + T-shirt combo or as an LP + T-shirt combo, as well as on Amazon and at Discogs. After putting your hands on Hope, simply let the darkness blasted by Mord’A’Stigmata fill your inner void, guiding you on a path of no return to the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: To Keep the Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Hope 12:02
2. The Tomb from Fear and Doubt 12:08
3. To Keep the Blood 8:45
4. In Less than No Time 11:30

Band members
Ion – vocals, bass
Golem XIV – guitars
Static – guitars
DQ – drums

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Album Review – Ragehammer / The Hammer Doctrine (2016)

Are you ready to follow the awesome doctrine of Black and Thrash Metal established by this ruthless band from Poland?

Rating4

ragehammer-cover-artwork-1000x1000Forged in the scalding fires of Cracow, Poland in 2012, and embracing all the darkness and violence spawned by icons such as Death, Bathory and Slayer, among many other Extreme Metal bands, here comes Black/Thrash Metal horde Ragehammer, tormenting the entire world with their highly anticipated debut album entitled The Hammer Doctrine. Quoting the band, the album was created “with cold hatred of the modern world and contempt for the values of love and humanity”, and just like a hammer this album will smash your face with its relentless brutality.

With controversial topics such as death, anti-religion and desecration flowing from its lyrics, and featuring a demonic artwork by Polish illustrator Robert A. von Ritter (Outre, Bloodthirst, In Twilight’s Embrace) and an outstanding graphic design by Kontamination Design (Blaze of Perdition, Bloodthirst, Voidhanger), The Hammer Doctrine offers the full package to metalheads who nurture a profound passion for sheer violence in music. In other words, Ragehammer devoted all their talent, cruelty and wrath to deliver the most hellish music you can think of during the album’s rambunctious 42 minutes.

Kicking off this insanely good havoc we have First Wave Black Metal, opening the gates of hell (hammer) with highlights to its old school darkened lyrics barked by frontman Heretik Hellstörm (“Neurodeliric screams / Battle cry of the hordes those days / No gods – no masters, creatures and crawling in space / Scarlet slaughterers, living only for metal and hell / Legacy of pride, from tombs it rises again”). Furious circle pits will ignite instantly, with the nonstop riffs by Bestial Avenger and the brutal bass lines by Corpsebutcher crushing you like a helpless insect. In case you survive this first assault, LET’S HAVE A WAR! Unleash The Dogs will bring you war in an infernal Blackened Thrash Metal turmoil, where drummer Mortar keeps up with the tradition of the most influential thrashing drummers of all time. This song proves to me that this band loves a disturbed and violent sounding more than they love their own families, don’t you think?

ragehammerIn Wróg (or “enemy” from Polish), a potent circle-pit generator and a strong sample of what this amazing band is capable of doing, the metallic bass by Corpsebutcher stands out amidst all turbulence and devastation crafted by the entire band; whereas in Warlord’s Fall, a solid fusion of old school Slayer with Hardcore, Ragehammer fire a high-octane tune where Bestial Avenger has a superb performance with his piercing riffs while Heretik Hellstörm keeps barking like a lunatic. In addition, its Doom Metal-ish break gets truly obscure and evil before the music gets back to total anarchy, adding an additional layer of intricacy to it. And bang your heads and enjoy the heavy beats by Mortar in the longest of all tracks, named Knives, highly inspired by traditional Black Metal with the punch of our good old Thrash Metal.

I am the Tyrant brings forward a brutal sonic devastation bred by those Polish metallers, I should say the perfect depiction of what Blackened Thrash Metal is, with Bestial Avenger once again commanding the band’s onrush, followed by the heaviest version of Thrash Metal you can find anywhere, entitled Pure Hatred, where Mortar shatters his drums while Corpsebutcher thumps his bass cords throughout the entire song until its pulverizing ending. Then it’s simply time to slam into the pit and enjoy the amazing synchronicity between Bestial Avenger and Corpsebutcher in what’s definitely the top moment of this great album, the high-speed anthem From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor, where Ragehammer make a statement about who they are and their mission (“The dawn of the hammer doctrine / The evolution of mankind / From homo sapiens to homo raptor / Constant warfare – way of life”), giving no signs of slowing down or being less visceral. And finally, they offer the listener a crazy, fast and furious cover version for Spotkanie z Diabłem, or “meeting with the devil” in Polish, by Krzysztof Klenczon i Trzy Korony. It’s incredible what they did to the original version, and the whole band deserves our respect for such a brilliant job giving a new life to an old classic.

Are you ready to follow the ruthless doctrine of Ragehammer and break your neck to the berserk music crafted by this skillful quartet from Poland? If you can’t wait to put your hands on their sonic “hammer”, go grab your copy of The Hammer Doctrine at the Pagan Records’ official BandCamp or webshop, and as I already mentioned, be prepared to have your physiognomy completely disfigured by a wicked blast of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: First Wave Black Metal, From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor and Spotkanie z Diabłem.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. First Wave Black Metal 4:43
2. Unleash The Dogs 3:46
3. Wróg 4:47
4. Warlord’s Fall 5:48
5. Knives 6:30
6. I am the Tyrant 5:00
7. Pure Hatred 4:22
8. From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor 4:33
9. Spotkanie z Diabłem (Krzysztof Klenczon i Trzy Korony cover) 2:38

Band members
Heretik Hellstörm – vocals
Bestial Avenger – guitars
Corpsebutcher – bass
Mortar – 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 – Kult Mogił / Anxiety Never Descending (2015)

Surrender to all the darkness and derangement bred by this very talented Eastern European cult of graves, one that will definitely not make dying any easier for you.

Rating4

Kult Mogil album cover finalEstablished in October 2014 in the city of Tarnów, Poland (around 300km south of the capital Warsaw), Blackened Death Metal miscreants Kult Mogił are making a significant impact on the Polish metal scene with their idiosyncratic synthesis of all things evil, dark and disturbing into their compositions, provoking the rise of a cult that will surely grow in the coming years. And that cult makes total sense as per the band’s name, which according to Kult Mogił themselves means “cult of graves”, or a “burial place with or without tombstones”.

After the release of their first demo K+M+B in the beginning of 2015, which generated a lot of heat to Kult Mogił, the band returns now at the end of the year with their first full-length album, entitled Anxiety Never Descending, a bold and ambitious praise to darkness and death that will unsettle your soul from start to finish, if you’re brave enough to listen to it in its entirety, of course. “This record will not make dying any easier for you”, the band commented, and I guess that pretty much summarizes what Anxiety Never Descending will do to you.

Although the title-track Anxiety Never Descending might sound extremely raw at first, you’ll notice it’s at the same time very technical, especially its riffs, increasing its overall impact, not to mention singer Karmiciel Wszy Zdrowych vociferating his blasphemous lines like an evil troll. The following track, named Threnody, provides the listener top-notch Blackened Doom with a disturbing ambience and lyrics leaning towards the occult (“I am at war / With anxiety / Between the centuries / Cursing my eyes / Lifeless orbs”), with drummer Kalkulator Chronometrażysta dictating the song’s rhythm, alternating from sluggish beats to Black Metal blasts. Put differently, this is a highly recommended opus for diehard fans of the most devilish forms of extreme music available.

Kult_Mogil_foto_001In the also excellent Serene Ponds, Kult Mogił fire another wicked junction of Black and Doom Metal, with highlights to the eerie guitar sounds by both Karmiciel Wszy Zdrowych and Thisworld Outof, turning it into a demented aria of despair, and by the time the song is over I bet your heart will be a lot heavier than usual. Początek Wrażeń, which I believe would translate to “first impressions” or something similar to that, is a menacing version of the Blackened Death Metal played by Behemoth sung entirely in Polish, therefore sounding as creepy as possible if that’s not one of the languages you speak fluently. To be fair, instead of just singing, Karmiciel Wszy Zdrowych is darkly declaiming the lyrics. And no matter what he’s saying, it shouldn’t be good.

The Width of a Forehead provides such a wicked intro, which by the way goes on for almost two minutes, it’s hard not to feel stunned before it becomes the slowest and most disturbing Doom Metal you can think of, a sonic representation of a descent to hell with no return and no hope in sight. And finally, if you know the song called “Black Snow” by Triptykon you’ll love Palliative Messiah, an ode to the heartless and pitch-black kingdom of Doom Metal with a chaotic ending that will leave a scar on your soul forever, energized by its cryptic lyrics (“Then I met the palliative messiah / I see this meeting / In the greenness of a stunted scrub / Somewhere on a slope / I asked: / What is the sex of death?”).

In order to purchase this Extreme Metal extravaganza entitled Anxiety Never Descending, you can go to the Pagan Records BandCamp page or official webshop (the album is still in its pre-order stage, becoming available on December 24). And then, just then, surrender to all the darkness and derangement bred by this very talented Eastern European cult of graves, one that, as mentioned before, will definitely not make dying any easier for you.

Best moments of the album: Threnody and Początek Wrażeń.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. Anxiety Never Descending 5:10
2. Threnody 6:51
3. Serene Ponds 6:59
4. Początek Wrażeń 6:24
5. The Width of a Forehead 5:20
6. Palliative Messiah 8:34

Band members
Karmiciel Wszy Zdrowych – vocals, guitars, bass, accordion
Thisworld Outof – guitars, bass
Kalkulator Chronometrażysta – drums