M: Myrkur

Rating: 80%

Myrkur_M_cover.jpgSo, I heard all of this smack about this woman who is a well known Pop star that turned Black Metal. I was like huh? Then I heard how the Heavy Metal community was all up in arms that this woman couldn’t do Black Metal and instantly, everyone began trashing her music. So, I decided to take a listen. Well, I wasn’t disappointed, that’s for sure.

Musically, this album contains a lot. Many influences and elements here from classical to folk and yes, classic Black Metal. It’s all thrown together. This album contains a little bit of everything, plus more. Plus, and this is a major plus, she plays everything. She is a one woman band. And talented she is.

The music is very rich and full when you throw in all of the elements of Black Metal, Folk, and yes Pop. Some of the chorus lines are very full. But as broad as this is, somehow Amalie Bruun pulls this off and brings it home. There’s a nice collection of melodies mixed with harsh and clean vocals.  I love the riffs of the guitar all the way down to the folk instruments. With all of the influences, Amalie somehow balances the music out to compliment the overall sound. There’s also some atmospheric pieces which is where the classical or folk comes in. The song structures are pretty good and yet VERY dark.

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So, where are the complaints and controversy? I think, this woman pretty much pulled it off and made an album that isn’t perfect, but an album that damn good. She does have one hell of a good voice and song writer. I think that this album is very underrated.

Track listing:

1. “Skøgen skulle dø” (The whore had to die) 5:17
2. “Hævnen” (The revenge) 3:23
3. “Onde børn” (Evil kids) 4:09
4. “Vølvens spådom” (Prophecy of the Völva) 1:37
5. “Jeg er guden, i er tjenerne” (I am God, you are the servants) 4:03
6. “Nordlys” (Northern light) 2:15
7. “Mordet” (The murder) 3:41
8. “Byssan lull” (Swedish lullaby best known version by Evert Taube) 2:38
9. “Dybt i skoven” (Deep in the forrest) 3:09
10. “Skaði” (Skadi) 4:29
11. “Norn” 2:17

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Wanderer On The Continent Of Saplings: Thrawsunblat

Rating: 95%

R-4932313-1379809091-1076.jpeg.jpgAlthough, David Gold from Woods of Ypres came up with this idea, he only recorded one album under the Thrawsunblat name. The first album released was in 2010 and Gold passed away in 2011. So, what do the other members of Woods of Ypres do? They move on while some of them reform this side project and make it into a full time gig.

The musicianship is really, really good. The band consists of bassist Brendan Hayter, drummer & vocalist Rae Amitay, vocalist & guitarist Joel Violette and guest musician Jeff Mott on the fiddle. Together, these musicians blend atmospheric melodies with elements of Melodic Black Metal and Folk Metal to create their sound and style. It works perfectly. 

The song arrangements some of which are drenched in Folk influences are fantastic. The acoustical guitar, fiddle, and clean vocals on “Maritime Shores” is amazing. It would almost stand up to any traditional Folk song. “Lifelore Revelation” has a rich Polka feeling to it, especially the beginning. The Black Metal side of the music including the harsh vocals are performed wonderfully. It’s not overwhelming to the point that it takes away from the harmony. Several of the heavier songs you can still hear the fiddle in the background. This album is very melodic sounding to the point where it almost seems very atmospheric. It got some very nice riffs to it as well as leads. Super fast tempos, but then the tempo changes to reveal the rich melody to the music. I love everything about this album.

Track listing:

1 Lifelore Revelation 4:12
2 Once Fireveined 5:43
3 We, The Torchbearers 5:21
4 Goose River (Mourners’ March) 3:34
5 Bones In The Undertow 5:14
6 Wanderer On The Continent Of Saplings 5:20
7 Maritime Shores 3:32
8 View Of A Million Trees 7:22
9 Borea (Pyre Of A Thousand Pine) 5:22
10 Elegy Across The Silence 2:58
11 Song Of The Nihilist 5:58
12 I Am The Viator 5:07

Panzer Division Marduk: Marduk

Rating: 75%

PanzerDivisionMarduk.jpgIn 1999, Marduk released their sixth album entitled “Panzer Division Marduk.” This World War II concept album is fast, brutal, and dark. It’s got some explosive instrumentation that is balls to the wall on the throttle. It’s got super fast riffs, it’s got some solos, hard hitting drums and growling vocals. Lyrical themes deal with Satanism and World War II. Using these two themes, they begin to put together Black Metal in truest fashion. To me, this album has gotten better over time, but at the same time, it could’ve had more focus and creativity.

The musicianship is really tight and aggressive. Vocalist Legion growls throughout the entire album. Guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson shreds on those strings as if a time bomb is getting ready to go off. Bassist B.War is in there some where. Drummer Fredrik Andersson just tears up those skins.

All and all, you have a basic Black Metal album that is good for a listen. I would recommend trying out ” Those of the Unlight” or  “Opus nocturne” first and then work your way into this album.

Track listing:

1. “Panzer Division Marduk” 2:39
2. “Baptism by Fire” 3:51
3. “Christraping Black Metal” 3:46
4. “Scorched Earth” 3:37
5. “Beast of Prey” 4:07
6. “Blooddawn” 4:20
7. “502” 3:14
8. “Fistfucking God’s Planet”

Hell: Venom

Rating: 65%

Venom_hell.jpgIn 2008, Venom released “Hell.” This album has gotten many different ratings to the point where I see many like it or many hate it. The problem is, when these bands who started out in the early 1980’s, they ruled the underground. As their audiences grow up and get wiser with age, their mindset changes. As these musicians get more experience with music, they tend to release the same album. AC/DC, Motorhead, and Obituary are three that come to mind. Well, even the great Manowar, so there’s four.

The overall sound is a bit bland and heavily polished. It’s not like the older Venom albums where the recording was raw. It doesn’t have the lust or the power of previous albums. While you listen to this album, it does make me lose interest, because there is no power in the music. This album is an average album with average material from the Black Metal fathers.

The opening track is perfect the way it is and stands out from most of the other material. This is pure Thrash Metal. “Hand of God” is another great track that stands out. It’s not Thrash Metal or Black Metal, but a mixture of styles that are Groove and Punk rooted. It reminds me of Prong’s “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” “Kill the Music” has almost a classic Venom feel to it that has been modernized. Bottom line, this album while it isn’t anything fancy, it’s just a basic average release by Venom.

Track listing:

1. “Straight to Hell” 4:28
2. “The Power and the Glory” 5:09
3. “Hand of God” 4:35
4. “Fall from Grace” 3:29
5. “Hell” 5:08
6. “Evil Perfection” 3:36
7. “Stab U in the Back” 4:33
8. “Armageddon” 3:28
9. “Kill the Music” 3:15
10. “Evilution Devilution” 4:29
11. “Blood Sky” 5:13
12. “USA for Satan” 4:51
13. “Dirge/The Awakening” (Instrumental) 3:30

Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού: Rotting Christ

Rating: 85%

Rotting_Christ_Κata_Τon_Daimona_Εaytoy_cover.jpgThe 2013 release of “Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού” by Rotting Christ was my first introduction to the band. It is Black Metal mixed with melodic and Gothic elements, which really helps to break up the pace of the album. It’s a heavy album, but looses the harshness of the typical Black Metal style. The song structures gives this album some what of an epic feel to it. It’s exciting to listen to. I do like the concept of the album of every song being in a different language.

The musicianship is very tight. The guitar work is very impressive. There’s a lot of great fill in leads and solos with plenty of catchy riffs and is filled with lot’s harmony. And yet, it has some weird parts to it that are just as enjoyable and compliments the overall melody. the bass sounds amazing. The drumming is one thing that sticks out to me. The timing isn’t the same thing over and over again. There’s plenty of fast paced tempos to mid-level tempos. I like the vocal style on the verse and the harmony of the chorus lines. The harsh vocals are raspy, unlike most Black Metal bands. I do like the big beefy choir lines on several of the songs.

Tracking listing:

1. “In Yumen/Xibalba” 6:24
2. “P’unchaw kachun/Tuta kachun” 4:44
3. “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” 5:52
4. “Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού” 4:52
5. “Cine iubește și lasă” 5:58
6. “Iwa Voodoo” 4:36
7. “Gilgameš” 4:02
8. “Русалка” 4:33
9. “Ahura Mazdā/Aŋra Mainiuu” 4:44
10. “χξϛʹ” 5:46

Eld: Enslaved

Rating: 75%

enslaved_eldI’ve been into Viking Metal for over two decades now. One of the bands in Viking Metal that one will hear about is Enslaved. When I gather a list of bands to check out, this was among that list. So, I went to Record and Tape Traders and began my exploration into this genre. “Eld” was my first exposure to this band. the personell for this album is guitarist & keyboardist Ivar Bjørnson, vocalist & bassist Grutle Kjellson, and drummer Harald Helgeson.

There is decent mixture of acoustic and electric elements in the instrumentation of the music. There’s an balance of clean vs. dirty vocals that don’t detract from the overall style of Black/Viking Metal. Although, Black Metal in nature, the song structures feature melodies ranging from mid tempo sections to the extremely up beat and fast in nature song structures.  Think of the word “epic.” There are influences of Progressive music in this release. So this isn’t a stand alone Black Metal record.

There is some really great musicianship on this album from the riffs, leads, bass, to the drumming. The guitars are very gritty as well as the bass. There’s somewhat of a crunch that brings out the heaviness of these two instruments. Some of the guitar works seem to be a bit complex. Another stand out trait is the melody and how in certain areas of the music, it becomes more atmospheric or melodic. The overall sound remains very raw, however, there is some texture to the it.

Track listing:

1. “793 (Slaget om Lindisfarne)” (“793 (The Battle of Lindisfarne)”) 16:10
2. “Hordalendingen” (“The Man from Hordaland”) 5:19
3. “Alfablot” (“Sacrifice to the Elves”) 6:33
4. “Kvasirs blod” (“The Blood of Kvasir”) 7:51
5. “For lenge siden” (“A Long Time Ago”) 8:08
6. “Glemt” (“Forgotten”) 8:04
7. “Eld” (“Fire”) 6:36

Pitch Black Brigade: Vreid

Rating: 85%

105296.jpgIn 2006, Vreid released “Pitch Black Brigade. The band consisted of vocalist & guitarist Sture, guitarist Ese, bassist Hvàll, and drummer Steingrim.

One thing that I liked about this band is their version of Black Metal. Musically, it’s very melodic. But there are also elements of some Thrash Metal and some roots of Punk music thrown into the song structures at times. Fast riffs, great tempos, and even some weird timing shifts. The sound itself is very raw, at the same time, there is a certain epic feel to the music.

The musicianship is pretty good. The growls and shrills of the vocals are more along Death Metal and the shrieks of Black Metal. There’s plenty of brutal guitar riffs. Many of the riffs are heavily rooted into thrash. While some of the other riffs and effects are borderline punk. The album is missing a bit of the lead guitar solos. The bass for the most part plays more along side of the guitars, but it is clearly heard in the finished product. There are some bass riffs here that sound very good. The drums are fantastic. I love hearing the double tap of the bass drums.

Track listing:

“Då Draumen Rakna” (“When the Dream Shattered”) – 5:16
“Left to Hate” – 4:38
“Pitch Black” – 4:20
“The Red Smell” – 4:42
“Hengebjørki” (“The Silver Birch”) – 9:21
“Our Battle” – 3:35
“Hang ‘Em All” – 3:33
“Eit Kapitell For Seg Sjølv”(“A Story of its Own”) – 6:54