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 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”
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)”
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”
In the process of writing my recent review of Devouring Star‘s fantastic new EP ‘Antihedron’, I came to realise that there was a rare depth and maturity to the record, both musically and conceptually. They recently published brief explanations of some of the themes and meanings behind both their debut album ‘Through Lung and Heart’ and ‘Antihedron‘. But there are yet further depths to be explored. The band are cloaked in anonymity, however I was lucky enough to speak with JL who was kind enough to expound upon the concepts and themes at work within ‘Antihedron’, and the motivations and beliefs that inspire Devouring Star‘s music more generally. The answers shed new light on the impenetrable darkness of these records. Read on for the full interview. Continue reading “Interview: Devouring Star on Antihedron, Satanism, and Death”
Volaða Land is the debut record from the recently-formed Icelandic group Draugsól. The band describe themselves as black metal, and by and large that’s accurate, but to my ears there’s a whole lot of death metal influence going on here as well, with a prominent low-end sound, heavy palm-muted guitar riffs, and guttural vocals. In some ways the texture of influences on this album almost reminds me of a way heavier, more death metal-influenced Enslaved. The tremolo-picked guitar passages and aggressive percussion are here as well of course, but Draugsól venture well beyond these conventional genre boundaries. The songs are constructed around powerful melodies, rhythms and motifs, with some incredibly tasteful, understated guitar solos and jazzy, varied percussion. Continue reading “Review: Draugsól – “Volaða Land””
Devouring Star’s new EP ‘Antihedron’ is the sound of worlds collapsing in on themselves, a black hole devouring a solar system. Antihedron describes “negative planes and shapes”, and discusses the three central concepts of birth, existence, and death. Each song serves to highlight a separate facet of the human experience, as beings whose experience extends across each plane of existence. The crushing, abrasive weight of Devouring Star‘s sound serves as the perfect vessel for the cold, malicious Satanic energies they channel through their music. Antihedron is Devouring Star‘s finest moment to date, and a forceful reminder of the power a record can wield when the music is given purpose through its message. Read on for the review.
Bölzer’s debut full-length album ‘Hero’ is finally here. It’s a testament to the quality of their music that they have succeeded in setting the metal underground on fire with less than an hour’s musical material to their name. Because Bölzer has set such a high standard with their music so far, and the media buzz around the band, there’s an enormous amount of pressure on the band for Hero to live up to everyone’s expectations. And in most respects, Hero delivers the goods.
Over the past few years, Iceland’s metal scene has exploded in popularity. This year has seen Svartidauði perform in the United States and support Primordial on a tour across Europe, while Misþyrming performed as an Artist In Residence at the legendary Roadburn festival after just one album to their name. Zhrine seem set to continue that winning streak with their debut album ‘Unortheta’, taking elements of black metal and death metal and combining them to create that something far greater than the sum of its parts.
I’m going to get straight to the point here: Zhrine‘s greatest strength is their ability to write fantastic songs. Other bands might be heavier, more technical, or more avant-garde, but Zhrine‘s ability to write beautiful, haunting, deeply unsettling music is so many steps ahead of most other bands it’s almost silly. And that’s even more impressive considering this is their first release together as Zhrine, having been previously known as Gone Postal before rebranding as Zhrine to mark the change in musical direction from that past project. For such a young band to come out with such a well-written debut album as Unortheta is a rare thing. It’s not an easy thing to articulate or explain, but whatever good songwriting is – it’s present on Unortheta in spades.