March Blasts

Recently, as well as writing for my own site, I’ve had a couple of reviews published at Broken Amp, which has been a good experience. My first review there has been for Sacrilegium‘s Anima Lucifera, and I also had the opportunity to write about Skuggsja, by Ivor Bjornson and Einar Selvik; you can read the reviews here and here.

Also up for (short) review are Nightmare Forever by progressive, brutal death metal act RotemSig:Ar:Tyr‘s Northen pagan metal; Hostilum‘s punishing black metal album The Bloodwine Of Satan; the Killing Susan EP by Fret!, as well as the new album Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts by black metal/crust band Unru, and noisy raw black metal on The Futile Self from Bahuchara.

Bahuchura – The Futile Self

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Label: Yamabushi Recordings

The Futile Self is raw as fuck, its fifteen minutes boasting the kind of production that the bands of Les Legions Noires would have been proud of back in their prime. Noisy, rough and loud, it’s been a while since I’ve heard a black metal release so abrasive. There’s a (slight) post-punk feel to some of the riffs, but it’s a ceaselessly hostile record, utterly unwelcoming. It’s hard to describe anything of this nature as enjoyable, but if the likes of Bone Awl, Ewige Schlangenkraft, or possibly even Raspberry Bulbs are features of your regular listening habits, then you’ll certainly appreciate this.

Fret! – Killing Susan

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Label: Cruel Nature Records

Falling somewhere between the harder end of post-rock and grunge, Killing Susan is more alt-rock than the kind of release I’d usually cover, but it’s impressed me enough for me to want to give it coverage. Largely instrumental – only the opening title track has vocals – the five songs on this EP move with purpose and weight, as well as their fair share of bad vibes. The sense of space throughout only emphasizes how unsettling and anxious a listen it can be, though some tracks – such as “Sonic Poof!” – have a more high-tempo kind of nervousness to them at points, that’s almost enjoyable in a strange way. Delightfully unsettling.

Hostilum – The Bloodwine Of Satan

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Label: Iron Bonehead (vinyl) / NecroShrine Records (CD) / Graceless Recordings (cassette)

The influence of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas hangs heavy over The Bloodwine Of Satan, the debut album from Hostium. More than a few of the riffs and guitar movements recall what Euronymous what doing at the time, and the drums (Hell)hammer away in an impressively frantic manner. But Hostium aren’t copy-cats, and even if The Bloodwine Of Satan often sounds like an unearthed relic from twenty years ago, there’s enough personality and conviction behind it to elevate Hostium above many of their contemporaries. Though, as much as I hate to be that guy, I kinda preferred the production on their Pissing Incest On The Virginborn demo, and this album doesn’t feel quite so perverted and depraved. It’s still better than most underground black metal you’re likely to hear, though, and I heavily recommend it to fellow dwellers of the dark.

Rotem – Nightmare Forever

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Label: Rot’em Records

Brutal death metal feels to me as if it’s often running down an evolutionary and stylistic dead-end, with the art of songwriting being sacrificed on an altar of slams and grunts. One-man band Rotem show there might be life in the sub-genre though, by adding plenty of progressive elements and songwriting. Sure, there’s plenty of chugs, slams, grunts, and pretty much everything else you’d expect in brutal death metal; but there’s also a real attempt to do something creative with the death metal presented on Nightmare Forever. “Corpse Hoarder” is perhaps the pick of the bunch, even featuring a pretty awesome solo part-way through; the bass intro to “Generic Malignancy” is also great.

SIG:AR:TYR – Northen

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Label: Hammerheart Records

In stark contrast to most of the other releases reviewed in this installment, Northen from Sig:Ar:Tyr is a triumphant, up-lifting piece of pagan metal, thematically based on the Viking explorers who first arrived in Canada. There’s a spirit of adventure in tracks such as “Crownless” and epic opener “Helluland” that is almost impossible to resist, sweeping you along with the album. The heavy repetition of “Runarmal” feels like a mis-step, but otherwise Northern is a stirring listen, and does tribute to those it aims to pay tribute to. I normally prefer my pagan metal to be more downcast and somber, but there’s plenty about Northern that has impressed me, even if I’m probably not the target audience.

Unru – Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts

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Label: Sentient Ruin Productions / Monotonstudio Records / Supreme Chaos Records

Unru‘s previous releases were impressive enough, but they didn’t quite prepare me for the enormity of Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts. On the surface, it’s easy enough to say that there’s elements of crust being combined to tremendous effect with their black (hole) metal; but that doesn’t capture just how enormous and all-encompassing the finished article sounds. This isn’t the kind of blackened crust that, say, Young And In The Way are making; this feels much bigger, drawing more from the likes of Ash Borer or Weakling than more typical black metal influences. And, as might be hoped for with such comparisons, it is a challenging, stirring record, full of emotional power. It’s not a record for passive listening; it demands your attention, holding you in place as you gaze in to the void it creates. The only downside is the artwork, which is too Miss Machine for my tastes, but I guess we can’t have everything.

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