I’ve always believed that Myrkur had it in her to release a truly great album. Amalie Bruun strikes me as a woman invested in the music she creates, who loves what she does, and has been steadily but surely improving and refining her music since her debut EP in 2014. I still think that her self-titled EP didn’t do her justice, and said as much in my review at the time. Her debut full-length album M the following year was a significant improvement, but I knew she was capable of more, if only she would let go of the need to stick so rigidly to writing “black metal” and allow herself to compile a more diverse set of songs; on her second full-length album Mareridt, Myrkur finally delivers on all the promise that I knew she had, and has succeeded in creating the best album of her career to date, and one of the best albums of 2017.
Californian blackened deathgrind/blisteringly-heavy-as-fuck band Plague Widow have returned from something of a hiatus. They released their stunning split EP with London’s Oblivionized, “This Black Earth”, in 2013, but in 2015 entered a period of inactivity, which they attribute to “many complications over the past couple years such as various lineup changes, relocating to another city, and set-backs in the recording studio”.
If you’ve ever talked to me about music, you probaly know I’m a huge fan of Bölzer. I think they’re the most exciting band playing in extreme metal today, bar none, and their string of releases over the last few years as well as renowned live shows have cemented their place as one of the most talked about extreme metal bands around. I’ve also long been an admirer of Svartidauði’s music, particularly their album “Flesh Cathedral” which remains an all-time favourite, and whose fundamental importance in the growth and development of the Icelandic black metal scene cannot be understated. So imagine my joy when I heard the announcement of the Continental Crucifixion tour, which would bring both of these phenomenal bands along with black/death warlords Archgoat and the bruising blackened death metallers in Eggs of Gomorrh to a city very near where I live! Read on for more details of this incredible tour lineup!
I needed an album like this in 2017. An album to take me away from things as they are, away from all the specifics of my own circumstances, and to a place I think many of us have a kind of subconscious nostalgia for, a place we might never have been to, a place which perhaps never existed at all. Olypmia, Washington black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room have always succeeded in this respect. With their debut album ‘Diadem of 12 Stars’, the band translated the cold style of Norwegian black metal into their own American cultural context, re-emerging as an expression of the band’s deep connection with the Pacific North West. The band don’t fundamentally change their approach on “Thrice Woven”, but it’s certainly a more aggressive and immediately gratifying approach to a familiar concept.
Time Lurker is a one-man atmospheric black metal project that came to life in Strasbourg, France in 2014. Though it is technically a solo project, a number of other musicians contributed to this record, including members of Paramnesia, Pyrecult, and Le Mal des Ardents. Their debut full-length album, the eponymous Time Lurker, channels charts a course that explores the nature of the human condition through the medium of introspective, atmospheric black metal. Stylistically it reminds me of Mare Cognitum, Aureole, or Spectral Lore. The sheer scale and ambition of the compositions contained within is as impressive as it is daunting, the intensity of the emotions and the consequential catharsis exhausting. While it very occasionally bites off more than it can chew, Time Lurker is an exhilarating, emotionally draining record from start to finish. Continue reading “Review: Time Lurker – “Time Lurker””
I first came across Nexion at their performance at Oration Festival MMXVII in Reykjavik. A friend of mine knew them, and made me aware that they were well worth seeing. Their blistering show suggested a band with real experience on stage, despite having not yet released any recordings under the name Nexion. As it transpires, vocalist John Rood is also in Fenrismaw, while guitarist Jóhannes Smárason used to perform live with Svartidauði, and fellow guitarist Óskar Rúnarsson plays in Blood Feud. As with many of Iceland’s bands, there is cross-pollination. But Nexion‘s new music differs quite substantially from much of the black metal that has erupted from the little Island in its approach to blackened death metal. Read on for the review, as well as an interview with vocalist Josh Rood. Continue reading “Review and Interview: Nexion”
Lithuania’s Au-Dessus‘s debut album “End of Chapter” is a haunting, moving piece of post-black metal mastery. Conceptualised as both sequel and conclusion to their 2015 self-titled EP, “End of Chapter” sees Au-Dessus push deeper into the realms of dissonant, unsettling extreme metal. Comparisons with bands such as Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, and Schammasch are natural and appropriate, but Au-Dessus more than do enough to carve out their own niche in this flourishing style of black metal. Jarring, dissonant guitar riffs metamorphose into crushing passages of atmospheric sludge metal brutality; inhuman, tortured howls give way to melodic, passionate singing. Make no mistake about it: Despite the sleek visual aesthetic, this is challenging, harsh music that requires patience and careful attention to appreciate and come to grips with. With “End of Chapter”, Au-Dessus have crafted one of the most fascinating and powerful metal records in recent memory. Continue reading “Review: Au-Dessus – “End of Chapter””
The prospect of seeing two of Iceland’s very best black metal bands performing at a free-entry show in a small pub in London was simply too much for me to resist, so I caught a coach down from York in eager anticipation. Since the release of their album Unortheta (probably my favourite album of all time), Zhrine have secured spots at major festivals around Europe and North America, and even toured the US with Ulcerate and Phobocosm last year. Self-described ‘outsiders’ to Iceland’s black metal scene, Auðn are truly one of Iceland’s underrated gems. Atmospheric and evocative, bleak and tortured by melancholy, with throat-shredding shrieks and howls. Their side-project Hubris rounded off the stellar lineup, delivering brutal death metal aggression with malicious black metal influences. The stellar lineup delivered a spectacular show for all present, reaffirming the strength of Iceland’s metal scene. Continue reading “Live report: Zhrine / Auðn / Hubris (23/04/2017)”
Sweden’s Sarcasm have had a tumultuous history. Formed in Uppsala in 1990, the band released a string of melodic death metal demos, culminating in the 1994 EP “A Touch of the Burning Red Sunset”. The fascinating fact about the band is that in 1994, before they broke up, they actually recorded a debut full-length album titled “Burial Dimensions”. But the album was never released, lying in a slumber until it finally saw the light of day as part of a vinyl compilation in 2011, and finally given a proper release in 2015 on Dark Descent Records, coinciding with the band’s reformation. Complicated stuff, but here we are in 2017, and Sarcasm have returned with their second full-length album “Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds”. This is presumably the band’s first new material since 1994, and yet it feels like the band haven’t missed a beat. Their melodic but aggressive style of death metal is every bit as catchy and intense as ever, harking back to a time when melodic death metal meant something quite different to the kind of streamlined and accessible sound we’ve become accustomed to. Continue reading “Review: Sarcasm – “Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds””
Sathamel are one of the most exciting extreme metal acts to come out of Yorkshire in years. Known for their blackened death metal and blistering live performances, Sathamel have honed their craft touring across the UK for the past several years. Their performance at Northern Extremity XI at the Fulford Arms in York was a ferocious assault and a rousing success, so I sat down with them to talk about their music, the UK’s metal scene and York. Continue reading “Interview: Sathamel on death metal, touring, and their upcoming album”