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October 26, 2004

Anorexia Nervosa: Redemption Process

Anorexia Nervosa: Redemption ProcessCD, Listenable Records 2004

Track list: The Shining - Antiferno - Sister September - Worship Manifesto - Codex-Veritas - An Amen - The Sacrament

French symphonic black metallers Anorexia Nervosa (what a silly name) play intense, but unimpressive music. With the possible exception of the very best track of the album - Sister September - it is all quite boring. Cradle of Filth has done it all and much better. Fans of symphonic black metal might want to check this one out, but for others - you don't need this. **

October 25, 2004

Shape of Despair: Illusion's Play

Shape of Despair: Illusion's PlayCD, Spikefarm 2004

Track list: Sleep Mirrored - Still-motion - Entwined in Misery - Curse Life - Fragile Emptiness - Illusion's Play

Shape of Despair is a product of the long and dark Finnish winters. Illusion's Play is slow and gloomy doom metal, with long and many-faceted songs. Do not listen to the songs out of context, it's the whole album what you want to hear. Of course, slow doom is not for the easily bored - music-lovers with patience and an ear for beauty will adore this one. ****

Red Harvest: Internal Punishment Programs

Red Harvest: Internal Punishment ProgramsCD, Nocturnal Art Productions 2004

Track list: Anatomy of the Unknown - Fall of Fate - Abstract Morality Junction - Mekanizm - Symbol of Decay - Teknocrate - Synthesize My DNA - Wormz - 4-4-1-8 - Internal Punishment Programs

Norwegian industrial metallers Red Harvest are back with another album full of industrial-flavoured metal. And that's what this is - industrial fans will be disappointed, so don't bother. One could compare Internal Punishment Programs to some cuts from Ministry or Front Line Assembly, but it's more straight-forward, more metal. There's some variety in the songs, that's always good, but in the end the material just isn't that good. ***

October 23, 2004

Jigsore Terror: World End Carnage

Jigsore Terror: World End CarnageCD, Listenable Records 2004

Track list: Gorging on Exposed Arteries - Skeletal Decomposition - Slaughtered Existance - Death Rattle Cacophony - Senseless Slaughter - Rotten Heads - Reeking Death - Insane Torture - Scattered Cranial Remains - Violent Molestation - Corpses on Fire - Feast of Dismembered Limbs - Brutally Murdered - Bestial Frenzy - World End Carnage

Swedish trio Jigsore Terror plays grindcore - easy enough to figure out from the song titles. Nothing to complain about in it, either, it's all well done. Producer Mieszko Talarczky from Nasum had probably something do with it, as the album sounds pretty good. However, there's little new on offer, only the same old done pretty well. ***

Acheron: Decade Infernus 1988-1998

Acheron: Decade Infernus 1988-1998CD, Black Lotus Records 2004

Track list: Thou Art Lord - God Is Dead - Slaughterization for Satan - Blessed by Damnation - Immortal Sigil - Let Us Depart - Satanic Erotica - One With Darkness - Fuck the Ways of Christ - Lifeforce - The Enochian Key - Six Six Six - Enter Thy Coven - Final Harvest - Ave Satanas - Prayer of Hell - Out of Body - Alla Xul - To Thee We Confess - Shemhamforash - Purification Day - Hekal Tiamat - Seven Deadly Sins - Cursed Nazarene - Necromanteion Communion - Baptism for Devlyn Alexandra - Legions of Hatred - Unholy Praises - Summoning the Master - Voices Within - Undead Celebration - The Entity

Acheron has done a long career in satanic death metal, over fifteen years already. This two-cd compilation sums up the first ten years. It offers a wide selection of tracks, being a good choice for newcomers to the Acheron faith. Those with full collections have nothing to gain from this one. However, even those who have no Acheron albums might want to consider: Acheron sounds a bit outdated, the songs are fairly monotonic and the whole of it just doesn't impress that much. Still, if you want something from Acheron, this is probably your best bet. ***

October 22, 2004

God Among Insects: World Wide Death

God Among Insects: World Wide DeathCD, Threeman Recordings 2004

Track list: Legions of Darkness - A Gush of Blood - Headless Nun Whore - Wretched Hatching - Chainsawed Christians - Purified in Carnage - Uprising of the Rotten - Severe Facial Reconstruction - Uhr-Nazuur

God Among Insects connects members from Dark Funeral, Sanctification, Project Hate and Vomitory as a death metal super group. The result, World Wide Death, isn't super, but still a rather enjoyable piece of old school death metal. The album sounds very good and songs are fairly good, but something's missing. Perhaps World Wide Death is a bit of a therapy album? Still, it's more than decent offering for the fans of traditional death metal. ***

October 21, 2004

Seth: Era-Decay

Seth: Era-DecayCD, Avantgarde Music 2004

Track list: Marchemergence - March of the Consistory - Umbilical Cutting - Co-Existent Species - Ascention - H-Eradicate - Xtasian Ostix - A Pallbearer's Gloom - The Blade Upon Mankind

French Seth is a curious beast. They have steady black metal background, including co-operation with Fenriz and a song on Mayhem tribute, but they incorporate industrial sounds in their music. The result sounds pretty good, even though it isn't as ground-breaking as such union might be. Still, Era-Decay might be an interesting album for those interested in the more avantgarde end of black metal spectrum. ***

Hellebaard: Strijdkracht

Hellebaard: StrijdkrachtCD, CCP Records 2004

Track list: Een Duuster Begin - In Walhalla - Wodan's Lof Gewijden - Strijdkracht - Roode Dageraad - Weidevolk - De Valsche List - Bergschawud - Een Bitter End

Thunder from Netherlands! Hellebaard is my first experience with black metal sung in Dutch. Interesting, but unfortunately Strijdkracht is, frankly, crap. Boring pagan metal with cheap synths, very bad sound quality, uninspiring songs... Sorry, but there are simply too many other bands who do this kind of thing in much superior way. *

October 20, 2004

Ajattara: Kuolema

Ajattara: KuolemaCD, Spikefarm 2003

Track list: Antakaa elää - Surman henki - Haureus - Huoran alla - Ikiyössä - Musta leski - Sielun särkijä - Kituvan kiitos - Helvetissä on syntisen taivas - Rauhassa

It took me a while to get Ajattara's second album, even though I enjoyed the first one a lot - I have certain principles when it comes to copy controlled cd's. Ripping the mp3's took, by the way, about fifteen seconds. Anyway, Ajattara keeps on pounding their blackish metal, pretty much like before. Their greatest strength is in the Finnish lyrics, which use the means of old Finnish poetry. Quite unique and very effective. Their greatest weakness, in the other hand, is monotony. Kuolema sounds just like Itse and can be equally boring in long quantities. Thus, less stars than before: Kuolema is good, but brings little new to fans of Itse. ****

September 04, 2004

Axis of Advance: Obey

Axis of Advance: ObeyCD, Osmose Productions 2004

Track list: Of One to Conflict It - Revolution Decimation - Veiled Cast of Judgement - Wrath Pounding - God-Eye Command - In Wait Lie - Cube of Odium - Masterrorder

Canadian battle metal group Axis of Advance beats down fast, furious and chaotic death metal. The album is full of energy and rarely slows down. The result sounds good, I especially enjoyed the drums (performed by J. Read of Revenge and Conqueror). Fans of heavy and chaotic death metal should enjoy the command. I know I did. ****

Withering Surface: Force the Pace

Withering Surface: Force the PaceCD, Scarlet Records 2004

Track list: Gears - Exit Sculpture - This View - Force the Pace - Hold the Line - Machinery - Inhale the Hyper Pulse - State of Emergency - Anything Goes - Urban Glasses

Danish Withering Surface plays rather Swedish metal. Well, it isn't such a long way from Göteborg to Denmark. Unfortunately, something has been lost - Force the Pace is unfortunately rather bland and boring music. Fans of the genre might enjoy this one, but others should not bother. There are better albums in the genre to start with. **

September 03, 2004

Cirith Gorgor: Firestorm Apocalypse

Cirith Gorgor: Firestorm ApocalypseCD, Ketzer Records 2004

Track list: The Gates of Hell - Degeneration of Mankind - Arcane Illusion - Prelude to the Final Holocaust - Fields of Eternal Glory - Perishing Nights - Eternal Damnation - Firestorm Apocalypse: The Coming of a Greater Era

Cirith Gorgor is pure primitive black metal. Firestorm Apocalypse packs almost 60 minutes (a lot, but not too much) of intensive and downright evil music. The songs, while long, manage to keep interest and the album sounds fairly good (except somewhat absent bass). In it's genre, Cirith Gorgor does a good job. Of course, the problem is that the genre - rather extreme black metal - isn't too well-liked. I like it, however, and anyone into old school black metal should enjoy Firestorm Apocalypse as well. ****

Arkhon Infaustus: Perdition Insanabilis

Arkhon Infaustus: Perdition InsanabilisCD, Osmose Productions 2004

Track list: Genesis of Loss - M33 Constellation - Abortion of the Kathavatthu - Six Seals Salvation - Saturn Motion Theology - Oratio Descendere - Profanis Codex LXVI - Whirlwind Journey - Absurd Omega Revelation

French Arkhon Infaustus mixes black and death metal with some cult success. The use of two vocalists (one with black vocals and another with death vocals) is not used to it's best ability. The songs aren't quite top-notch - lots of energy, indeed, but the result is unfortunately quite boring. For the fans of extreme death metal this will be a better catch, looking from a black metal point of view it's a bit of a disappointment, really. **

September 02, 2004

Lord Belial: The Seal of Belial

Lord Belial: The Seal of BelialCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Prolusio: Acies Sigillum - Sons of Belial - Chariot of Fire - Abysmal Hate - Legio Inferi - Mark of the Beast - Armageddon Revelation - Scythe of Death

Swedish Lord Belial performs atmospheric midtempo black metal with few thrills and low uniqueness. I've heard most of this before, but occasional better moments (for example Mark of the Beast) make the album stand out from the most average material. For those who like their black metal slightly slower, The Seal of Belial is worth checking out. ***

Cult of Catharsis / Opus Forgotten: Split

Cult of Catharsis / Opus Forgotten: SplitCD, Aftermath Music 2004

Track list: Cult of Catharsis: - In Times of the Oath - Blade of the Prowler - Enter the Mist - Rage & Thunder - Lord of the Gallows - Opus Forgotten: - Unleash the Fury - The Prophecy - Corpse of Divinity - House of the Holy - Bloodfrozen Memories - Wish for Death - Demon of Destruction

This split features two inactive bands. Cult of Catharsis has already called it quits and it's members are currently active in Einherjer, Malice in Wonderland and Taake to name a few. Opus Forgotten is still together, but very quiet, it seems.
Cult of Catharsis side of the split is pretty boring metal, with semi-clean vocals and quite calm mood. It's certainly not black metal. It's nice, but nothing particularly interesting.
Opus Forgotten, in the other hand, combines black metals and violins with an interesting effect. I like it and would be interested to hear more had I a chance. ***

Garwall: Black Beast

Garwall: Black BeastCD, Holy Records 2004

Track list: Pride - Mass of Worms - The Seventh Seal of Consequences - Abyssus Abyssum Invocat - Garwall - Veni Vidi Vici - Les Ecorchés - Black Beast

This first album of the French black metal act Garwall doesn't quite impress me. Their music is mostly melodic riffs after one another, with little attention given to things like song structures. The end result isn't really interesting. Technically the album is quite well made and the limited edition includes a DVD with live performances, as well. Unfortunately the band is pretty far from being a charming performer, too. **

September 01, 2004

Turisas: Battle Metal

Turisas: Battle MetalCD, Century Media 2004

Track list: Victoriae & Triumphi Dominus - As Torches Rise - Battle Metal - The Land of Hope and Glory - The Messenger - One More - Midnight Sunrise - Among Ancestors - Sahti-Waari - Prologue for R.R.R. - Rex Regi Rebellis - Katuman kaiku

I'm a big fan of Moonsorrow and I like the whole genre of folk music -influenced metal a lot. Turisas is very much like Moonsorrow, both in style and quality. Battle Metal is an excellent and diverse album, full of interesting songs and elements. There's folk music, accordions, even modern drum loops and retro Hammonds. Amazing, how it all works so well together. For the fans of rowdy folk metal, this is a must-buy. ****

Diabolical Breed: Compendium Infernum

Diabolical Breed: Compendium InfernumCD, WorldChaos Productions 2004

Track list: Dies Irae - Descendants of Satan - In Majorem Sathanas Gloriam - Hominis Nocturn - The Night of Shooting Star - In the Eye of the Storm - Falne Krigere

Diabolical Breed is a new Norwegian black metal group, who happens to have a Japanese label. Interesting. Their music is pretty old-fashioned black metal with a heavy symphonic touch. Even though the production is pretty bad, Compendium Infernum works fairly well. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in black metal with lots of synths, this album is definitely worth checking out. Others might not want to bother, it's not that special. ***

August 24, 2004

Ewigkeit: Radio Ixtlan

Ewigkeit: Radio IxtlanCD, Earache 2004

Track list: About time - esc. - PowerPlant - Journey to IXTLAN - Live at Palenque 2012 - Conquer the Fear - Platonic Verses - Strange Volk - The New Way

Ewigkeit, an English - despite the name - one man group mixes solid death and black metal background with lots of different influences: tribal, folk, industrial, psychedelia, industrial, you name it. Result is an interesting concoction that suits my taste almost perfectly. The promo information suggests Radio Ixtlan is a genre-defining work and a possible way forward for the scene - but I disagree. For death metal scene, this is too different. I don't the scene purists will approve. For those who prefer their metal experimental, Radio Ixtlan is a treat. ****

June 30, 2004

Cruachan: Pagan

Cruachan: PaganCD, Karmageddon Media 2004

Track list: Michael Collins - Pagan - The Gael - Ard Rí Na Heireann - The March to Cluain Tairbh - Viking Slayer - 1014 A.D. - Some Say the Devil Is Dead - Summoning of the Sidhe - A Thousand Years - Lament for the Wild Geese - Erinsong - The Fall of Gondolin

I'm surprised - there isn't a single bagpipe playing on this album. It's still very celtic-influenced music, the folky stuff always within the reach in the metal songs. The black metal origins of Cruachan are also closer than on The Middle Kingdom. All in all, it's a fine piece of Celtic folk metal. It's refreshing change to the Nordic folk metal - with songs like Viking Slayer, where the vikings are the prey. ****

Skymning: Machina Genova

Skymning: Machina GenovaCD, Blackend 2004

Track list: ProKill - Berzerk Cirkus Circle - Riot Revelation / Club Monroe - ForceBender - ScalpLeech - Bubblegum Generation - Mondo Bizarre Glorification - Swallow the Holy Piss - Silicone Animation / MadShaper - TrollTekk/AggroTekk - Bodüoutline/PlanetEater - Rebel Cult!

If you're into machine beats, Machina Genova is a good choice. Skymning churns out rough riff-based machine metal with a very straigth-forward engine beat. I like it a lot! The atmosphere is dark and industrial (even though Machina Genova is far from industrial music). The only negative side is the monotony of the vocalist. The Antichrist knows only one way to shout out his message. It's fine, but you'll probably grow tired if you listen to it too much. ****

June 29, 2004

Antaeus: Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan (2nd edition)

Antaeus: Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan (2nd edition)CD, Osmose Productions 2004

Track list: Inner War - Seventh Ceremony - Devotee - Those with no Eyes - Specimen 23 - Bleeding Blasphemy - Nihil Chaos - Blood War III (video) - Three live videos

Antaeus hails from France, which I've never considered as remarkable metal country. Cut Your Flesh... certainly does a good job proving me wrong. It is rather primitive and aggressive album and cuts the corners straight. No bells and whistles, just pure aggression. That works for me, and I'm quite satisfied with this album. The new edition has lost one track, but adds one music video and three live clips. The new album cover art is also fantastic. ****

Azrael: Into Shadows Act 2 - Through Horned Shadows Glimpse

Azrael: Into Shadows Act 2 - Through Horned Shadows GlimpseCD, Moribund Records 2004

Track list: Tracks are untitled

Azrael aims for progressive and avantgarde black metal expression. Their methods include primitive underground black metal and acoustic instruments (guitar and double bass). Unfortunately, the black metal is too underground: the sound quality is reminiscent of some demo tapes. That's too bad for a cd release, I think. With better sound quality and somewhat better songs, Into Shadows Act 2 could be a decent album. Now it's quite mediocre. Only the double bass parts save it and make it worth three stars. ***

June 28, 2004

Reign of Erebus: Inversion Principle

Reign of Erebus: Inversion PrincipleCD, Blackend 2004

Track list: Reclamation and Mastery - Maelstrom - Feeding the Furnace - The Storm - Constrictor - ...Angels Brought Thee Ashes - To Shame the Skies - Inversion Principle - Warfare

Now this is brilliant. Reign of Erebus focuses on what's important in black metal - and that's pure wrath - and delivers a thundering blast. Inversion Principle is simply the best black metal album of 2004 this far (and I'm impressed, if something comes up that's even better). Their sound features prominent drums, buzzing guitars, well-done vocals and subtle synth effects. In addition of their own, very good songs, Reign of Erebus covers the classic Warfare from Zyklon-B. *****

Stormlord: The Gorgon Cult

Stormlord: The Gorgon CultCD, Scarlet Records 2004

Track list: The Torchbearer - Dance of Hecate - Wurdulak - Under the Boards (195, M.A.) - The Oath of the Legion - The Gorgon Cult - Memories of Lemuria - Medusa's Coil - Moonchild - Nightbreed

Melodic, synth-driven black metal with power metal influences is the name of the game for this Italian group. The album is technically well made, but suffers from weak songs. Iron Maiden cover Moonchild is the best of the crop, other songs are nice, but sound way too familiar. The album has little new to offer, but if one enjoys the genre and doesn't expect anything new, it should be enjoyable. ***

June 27, 2004

Final Dawn: Under the Bleeding Sky

Final Dawn: Under the Bleeding SkyCD, New Aeon Media 2004

Track list: Solemn Art - Ardent - Aggression Overdrive - Doze - Regression Is Transgression - Bleeding Sky - What Flows Within - My Pain

Under the Bleeding Sky is the debut album of this Oulu-based Finnish death metal band. It's a fairly nice piece of work, but still I think something's missing. It all sounds pretty good, but what is won in style is lost in substance. Better songs would make this album stand out a bit more. Still, I think it's a decent job as a debut album, but the next one should have better songs. ***

June 25, 2004

Imperanon: Stained

Imperanon: StainedCD, Nuclear Blast 2004

Track list: Blade - Memories to Dust - Stained - Prisoner in Me - Sold - Hollow Man - Rhythm of Pain - Shadowsouls - Vein (I Bleed) - The End

This new Finnish metal band has really did well record label -wise, landing a contract with Nuclear Blast. Unfortunately their album is quite far from perfect. With the exception of few brighter spots, Stained is somewhat boring album. The band performs very well, but the songs are slightly soulless. I do expect Imperanon to succeed well in their career and Stained might be quite popular, as well, but I don't find it that interesting. ***

June 21, 2004

MindGrinder: MindTech

MindGrinder: MindTechCD, Nocturnal Art Productions 2004

Track list: Repulsive Evolution - Regeneration - War Solution - Deception - Starspawned Vision- Human Error - Fire & Equanimity - Sadistic Images - Surviving Gadzooks - Soul Inferno

Norwegian MindGrinder plays brutal death metal, but fails to impress. Their debut album is not bad, not at all, but just slightly boring. None of the tracks really stand out even after intensive repeat play. Death metal fans should enjoy the album, but I doubt if anyone would name it as one of the best albums of this year or so. **

April 17, 2004

Sethery: Kholera

Sethery: KholeraCD, Woodcut Records 2004

Track list: Demons Spoke the Lullaby - Mindblast Cholera - Impasse and Lick of the Serpent - Hellvision Designed - (I Am) Condemnation - The Sheep Who Always Lied - Amen and Nightmare - Vulturous Hectoric Aspect

Sethery is a new Finnish black metal band; Kholera is their debut. Their style is synth-heavy melodic black metal. That they do well, like straight from the synth black metal 101 guide book. However, even though their technical skills are good, the content and originality are lacking. Vocalist could develop a bit more personal style, the music could be a bit more original and the lyrics a bit less cliche-y. Anyway, Kholera is a pretty strong debut and I'm sure we'll hear from Sethery before long. ***

Lunaris: Cyclic

Lunaris: CyclicCD, Elitist Records 2004

Track list: Mendacities of a Corporate Messiah - I.A.D. - Lessons in Futility - Cyclic - Slaves of Opinion - When It Ends - Casualties of Piece - Existence Unveiled - Altruismens Gravol - In Nothing - Mot Natt

Cyclic is an intriguing mix of experimental death and black metal. However, despite it's famous guest stars and innovative style, the album doesn't completely satisfy me. While the basis of the album rests in synth-led black metal, it's still a bit too messy bunch of different influences. Nice, but nothing really exceptional. ***

Secrets of the Moon: Carved in Stigmata Wounds

Secrets of the Moon: Carved in Stigmata WoundsCD, Lupus Lounge 2004

Track list: Crowns - Cosmogenesis - Miasma - Psychoccult Hymn - To the Ultimate Embers and Ash - Kaosthrone - Evolution Valour Admission - Epoch - Carved in Stigmata Wounds - Dust

These German occult black metalists were previously unknown to me. I'm glad I found them, because after some deliberation, I've come to realise that Carved in Stigmata Wounds is pretty good album. It's perhaps a bit too long (over 70 minutes), but there are some quite good songs and the rest of it is certainly passable. It's not a masterpiece in avantgarde, but still it's more interesting than your average black metal album. Nice work. ****

April 16, 2004

Dark Funeral: De Profundis Clamavi Ad Te Domine

Dark Funeral: De Profundis Clamavi Ad Te DomineCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Intro - The Arrival of Satan's Empire - An Apprentice of Satan - The Dawn No More Rises - Thy Legions Come - Hail Murder - Goddess of Sodomy - The Secrets of the Black Arts - Vobiscum Satanas - Shadows Over Transylvania - Open the Gates - Ineffable Kings of Darkness - Thus I Have Spoken - My Dark Desires - Armageddon Finally Comes

The Dark Funeral live album features songs mostly from their latest album, Diabolis Interium. That's all good and well, because it's a very good album. Other two albums are represented by three songs both; I suppose the songs selected are the best tracks from each. However, the album offers rather little, especially if you have Diabolis Interium already. The fact that it's live means the sound quality is bad and as the probably awesome live show doesn't come through the album, the result is rather bad. I'd rather listen to the studio versions. **

April 14, 2004

Crest of Darkness: Evil Knows Evil

Crest of Darkness: Evil Knows EvilCD, My Kingdom Music 2004

Track list: Chapter One - Inexplicable Bloodthirstiness - From the Shadows - Black Hole Mystery - Power of Hate - The Lust - As a Part of Your Universe - Cosmic Terror - The Greatest Gift - Warhead 666

Crest of Darkness mixes black metal, trash metal and electronics on their fourth album. The result leaves a lot to wish for. I'm not satisfied with this. In the other hand, black metal purists won't like this one either. I'm afraid the album will leave most audiences cold. There's some interesting parts, but most of the album is really quite bad. Faithful following of LaVey's ideals and interest in vampirism doesn't yet make a good black metal album - it takes good musicianship, too. **

Conspiracy A.D.: Humanity=Destruction... The End Is Near

Conspiracy A.D.: Humanity=Destruction... The End Is NearCD, Crash Music 2003

Track list: Prelude to the Apocalypse - Bloody Revenge - Killers of Justice - Enslavement - The Endless Darkness - Tales from a Dark Soul (Bleed You White) - Death and Blood - The Sadness of Mankind - Warfare Part I - Warfare Part II - Distorted Visions of a Dying World

This Italian death metal album is rather focused on death, destruction and sadness, as can be seen from the track titles. That's of course all good and well, when you're talking about death metal. However, I'm not quite satisfied with the contents of the album. Pretty much everything about it is of slightly below average level. There's promise, but the result isn't really satisfying. **

April 13, 2004

Withering: Gospel of Madness

Withering: Gospel of MadnessCD, Warhorse Records 2004

Track list: Northern Breeze - Quarrelsome - On Death's Colour - Two Suns - Reborn - Mausoleum - Penance - The Feeble Morning - Anguish of Frustration - Justification for Unavoidable - Not Yet the Last

Gospel of Madness is the debut album of this group founded in 1999. It's a strong, mature debut that promises a lot. Withering's style is melodic death metal, in vein of Tales from the Thousand Lakes from Amorphis but without the synths. The album features nice guitar melodies, grunted vocals and pretty good production (Tico-Tico Studios, which usually means good results). While I'm not completely sold on this, I think it's a good debut and will probably do well amongs the Finnish metal crowd. ***

Disillusion: Back to Times of Splendor

Disillusion: Back to Times of SplendorCD, Metal Blade 2004

Track list: And the Mirror Cracked - Fall - Alone I Stand in Fires - Back to Times of Splendor - A Day by the Lake - The Sleep of Restless Hours

Fans of Opeth should pay heed - Disillusion offers an album full of progressive death metal, with many familiar features. There are long songs (six songs, totalling 56 minutes, two songs that are about 15 minutes long), a variety of vocal styles (grunting, clear singing, half-spoken parts) and many technical tricks and bits. It sounds wicked. Back to Times of Splendor is not as good an album as the latest Opeth offerings, but it's almost as good. ****

April 12, 2004

Hate: Awakening of the Liar

Hate: Awakening of the LiarCD, Listenable Records 2004

Track list: Flagellation - Anti-God Extremity - Close to the Nephilim - Immolate the Pope - The Shroud (A Hellish Value) - The Scrolls - Awakening of the Liar - Serve God : Rely on Me (Hymn of Asa'el) - Grail in the Flesh - Spirit of Gospa

Poland rocks. The home of the Pope is also home for this brutal death metal group who are finally breaking out in the Western Europe and States, too. 14 years of experience means they play mean and well. Awakening of the Liar is thirty minutes and ten songs of rage against God (seems quite natural for a band coming from Poland). Awakening of the Liar is highly recommended for death metal fans and it's attitude and message should please those bent on black metal as well. ****

April 04, 2004

Ragnarok: Blackdoor Miracle

Ragnarok: Blackdoor MiracleCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Preludium - Heir of Darkness - Recreation of the Angel - Rites of Geburah - Blackdoor Miracle - Murder - Kneel - Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain - Journey from Life

Ragnarok is rather Norwegian. Their idea of black metal is brutal, aggressive and straightforward. The result is, however, surprisingly good. The album is full of interesting tracks, which is fairly rare - many black metal albums suffer from songs that all sound the same. Blackdoor Miracle features several interesting tracks that really stand out. If the album was more progressive and brought something new to the genre, it'd be worth five stars. Now, solid four, if you like your black metal served in the Norwegian style. ****

Orphaned Land: Mabool - The Story of the Three Sons of Seven

Orphaned Land: Mabool - The Story of the Three Sons of SevenCD, Century Media 2004

Track list: Birth of the Three (The Unification) - Ocean Land (The Revelation) - The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins) - A'salk - Halo Dies (The Wrath of God) - A Call to Awake (The Quest) - Building the Ark - Nora El Nora (Entering the Ark) - The Calm Before the Flood - Mabool (The Flood) - The Storm Still Rages Inside - Rainbow (The Resurrection)

Orphaned Land hails from Israel and are actually the first Israeli metal band I've come across. One can hear their origins in the music, too. Their progressive death metal is spiced with Middle-Eastern and Arabic influences - they call it "Middle-Eastern Metal" themselves. The result is rather fresh and interesting. The album has a biblical theme, it tells the story of the Flood. Their songs certainly have narrative elements, so listening to the whole album in correct order is the recommended way to enjoy Mabool. ****

February 07, 2004

Devils Whorehouse: Revelation Unorthodox

Devils Whorehouse: Revelation UnorthodoxCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Death from Beyond - Swallow Your Soul - Howling - The Raven - Bondage Goddess - Revelation Unorthodox - Funeral Dream - Pentagram Murderer - Blood Angels Recital - Erotikill - Blood Nymphoman - Deathwish - We Live Again

This one should be put in "horror punk" category, but I don't have one. Black metal is pretty close. At least when you start to listen to this album, that's what you'll think, until the vocals kick in. This band features members of Marduk and the sound is definitely black metal-ish. However, the clean vocals lean towards punk. The result sounds slightly confusing. However, once you get over that, the music is pretty ok. Their black metal punk rock is actually quite nice party music, especially if you like the horror / bondage / sex theme. ***

February 05, 2004

Behexen: By the Blessing of Satan

Behexen: By the Blessing of SatanCD, Woodcut Records 2004

Track list: By the Blessing of Satan - Fist of the Satanist - Sieluni Saatanan Vihasta Roihuten - Celebration of christ's Fall - Black Metal Baptism - Watchers of My Black Temple - Under the Eye of Lord

Behexen plays pure old school black metal, much like Nattefrost. And that's just fine for me... Their vocalist Torog has a haunting voice and to back that up, they manage to create an impressive wall of sound. Good work. Lyrics invoke Satan - hard to say more, because the promo version doesn't include printed lyrics and Torog isn't the easiest vocalist to understand. Very old school, very primitive, very effective. However, I'll give it only three stars, because simply put, there's little new on this album. Still, it's a good album if you're into primitive old school black metal. ***

January 19, 2004

Council of the Fallen: Deciphering the Soul

Council of the Fallen: Deciphering the SoulCD, Season of Mist 2004

Track list: Intro - Longing for Clarity - Acceptance in Silence - No Vision of Prophecy - Scourge of Thy Enemy - Distant Memories - Tempting Angelic Pride - Resurgence - Falling Through Decades - Repetition Breeds Insanity - Outro

Deciphering the Soul is a technically sound album, but for some reason, I don't find it that interesting. The artists involved are all famous from various bands (Hate Eternal, for example), so I guess it's some sort of a supergroup. I'm not familiar with any of those bands, so it's of little significance for me... The album is perhaps too American, even though it mixes Florida-death with some Scandinavian influences. There's not enough Scandinavia and too much Florida, I'd say... So it's not for me, but certainly for someone who likes fast and brutal American death metal. ***

January 16, 2004

Nattefrost: Blood & Vomit

Nattefrost: Blood & VomitCD, Season of Mist 2004

Track list: Ancient Devil Worshipping - Sluts of Hell - Satanic Victory - Universal Funeral - The Act of Spiritual Purification - Sanctum 666 - Whore (Filthy Whore) - Mass-Destruction - Nattefrost Takes a Piss - The Gate of Nanna - Still Reaching for Hell

Cover art tells you enough: Blood & Vomit is honest underground black metal. Vocalist-guitarist Nattefrost from Carpathian Forest has vomited a disc full of rocking black metal, just the way it was meant to be. This, of course, means that the target audience of this album is fairly limited. Anyway, I like it. It rocks, at least until the Beherit-cover The Gate of Nanna, which is slow and boring. After that, the album doesn't really pick up the speed. Enjoying Blood & Vomit to the fullest requires also a bad sense of humour. As an interesting curiosity, I should note that one of the euphemism used for vomiting in Finnish is "speaking Norwegian". How fitting. ****

Frost: Talking to God

Frost: Talking to GodCD, Rage of Achilles 2004

Track list: Sickness - Filthy Black Shit - And Still the Dreamer Sleeps - The Eternal Sea - Subliminal Hell - The End - Two of a Kind - No Light - Talking to God

Frost has an interesting line-up: multi-instrumentalist and two vocalists. Unfortunately the presence of two vocalists isn't really that significant. That's a small disappointment. The guy behind the music, Irrumator from Anaal Nathrakh (never heard) does his job well. Frost sounds good, if not that unique. Their sound is thick and gloomy. Not so furious, really - most of the album is pretty midtempo stuff. Choirs and female vocals are used to spice the tracks a bit, which is good. Talking to God is a good start for the black metal year 2004. ****

January 05, 2004

Blood Duster: s/t

Blood Duster: s/tCD, Season of Mist 2003

Track list: ForThoseAboutToFuck - Idi - SixSixSixteen - CockJunkie - Sellout - IWannaDoItWithADonna - FruityRelationships - HeroinPunk - Sk8ergrrl - BadHabbits - OnTheStage - VeganFeast - DrinkFightFuck - TonyGoesToCourt (Skit) - OnTheHunt - CurrentTrends - Underground - DrugFiend - Achin'ForAn'A'Cup - DahmerTheEmbalmer - She'sAJunkie - NuCorprate - OrneryHornery - 66.6OnYourFMDial - TicketToRide + PainfullNoise Entitled"htabbaskcalb" - Let's Fuck

The album is full of short songs, most under two minutes. The styles vary from Carcass-like death metal to rather plain rock or punk. All are united by an idiot sense of humour. At their best the songs are pretty ok, but most of them are rather uninspired. Avoid. *

Gorgasm: Masticate to Dominate

Gorgasm: Masticate to DominateCD, Unique Leader Records 2003

Track list: Anal Skewer - Stitched Oral Asphyxia - Corpsefiend - Lacerated Mastarbation - Masticate to Dominate - Charred Vaginal Effluence - Repulsive Cuntortion - Concubine of Despise - Seminal Embalment - Deadfuck

If you can forget the totally disgusting lyrics and ugly shocker cover art, Masticate to Dominate is a fairly decent gore metal album. It's not too far from Carcass, but falls a bit short nonetheless. Still, if you like the genre, Gorgasm is a good purchase. I wouldn't support this smut with my money, but if you can find the concept of raping and slaughtering women entertaining, go forth. I would've liked this much better, had the lyrics been a bit more intelligent. **

December 16, 2003

Apostasy: Cell 666

Apostasy: Cell 666CD, Black Mark 2004

Track list: Crowned in Thorns - Infernal Majesty - Cell 666 - Icon - 7th Throne - Beneath the Lies of Prophecy - Reign of Chaos - Beauty of Death - Metempsychosis

Fans of Arcturus and like might want to check Cell 666 out. Apostasy spices up their black-ish metal sound with classical influences (that is: piano bits), reaching fairly progressive sound. Unfortunately, Cell 666 falls far from such masterpieces as Sham Mirrors. It's pretty good, but that's just about it. ***

December 07, 2003

Swallow the Sun: The Morning Never Came

Swallow the Sun: The Morning Never CameCD, Firebox 2003

Track list: Through Her Silvery Body - Deadly Nightshade - Out of This Gloomy Light - Swallow (Horror pt. 1) - Silence of the Womb - Hold This Woe - Under the Waves - The Morning Never Came

As you can see from the song titles, Swallow the Sun isn't a group of merry men. Their sound is heavy and bleak, leaning towards doom metal. If you want to be drowned in sorrow, The Morning Never Came is a pretty good choice. As a debut, it is very convincing - these guys from Jyväskylä, Finland will go far. The album sounds and looks very good. ****

Akercocke: Choronzon

Akercocke: ChoronzonCD, Earache 2003

Track list: Praise the Name of Satan - Prince of the North - Leviathan - Enraptured by Evil - Choronzon - Valley of the Crucified - Bathykolpian Avatar - Upon Coriaceous Wings - Scapegoat - Son of the Morning - Becoming the Adversary - Goddess Flesh

Akercocke was a bit of a surprise. I had never heard of the band before I read a review of Choronzon and bought the album. Turns out I've missed a lot! Akercocke plays vicious black or death metal, with a satanic theme. The vocal range is wide, from high-pitched screaming to low death metal grumble, with occasional clear vocals. There's energy and aggression. Simply great. ****

November 13, 2003

Forsaken, The: Traces of the Past

The Forsaken: Traces of the PastCD, Century Media 2003

Track list: A Time to Die - One More Kill - Acid with Acid - Piece by Piece - Glitches Will Tell - Traces of the Past - Serpent's Tongue - God of Demise - Massive Machinery - The Empire - First Weapon of Choice - Blackened

If you're into fast and technical death metal, here's a treat for you. The Forsaken is from Sweden, as many good death metal bands tend to be. However, I'm not completely thrilled. Sure, they play fast, technically brilliant and brutal music, but something's missing. There's little that would elevate them from the unfortunate mediocrity. It's certainly good album, but very good - no. The brightest sides of the album are not by the band themselves: the album cover by Niklas Sundin is beautiful and the album-ending Metallica cover, Blackened, is just great. ***

November 12, 2003

Invocator: Through the Flesh to the Soul

Invocator: Through the Flesh to the SoulCD, Scarlet 2003

Track list: Intro - Through the Flesh to the Soul - Writhe in Spit - On My Knees - Flick It On - Infatuated I Am (Speak to Me) - There Is No Savior - The Chemistry of Restlessness - Under the Skin - Fire Cleanses All - Sand Between the Teeth

I used to have one of Invocator's earlier albums, but then I got bored with it and sold it. Their latest album will probably go the same way. It's rough trash metal, allright, but dead boring, really. They've been gone for seven years, but still sound the same as before. This doesn't impress me, but then again, trash metal hasn't been my thing before. It isn't now, either. The album cover is pretty cool, though. **

October 28, 2003

Emperor: IX Equilibrium

Emperor: IX EquilibriumCD, Candlelight 1999

Track list: Curse You All Men - Decrystallizing Reason - An Elegy of Icaros - The Source of Icon E - Sworn - Nonus Aequilibrium - The Warriors of Modern Death - Of Blindness & Subsequent Seers

Emperor is the musical version of a vicious snowstorm. Many will probably find both equally unpleasant. Emperor's sound is difficult to take, if you're not familiar with black metal. There are slower parts and parts that actually sound beautiful, but that's hidden between the fierce and the wicked. Ihsahn's vocals are strong, even though it's quite difficult to hear the words. Fortunately they are printed in the booklet. The drummer Trym is another key player in the band, his furious drum style is very important part of the Emperor sound. IX Equilibrium offers rather excellent black metal, for those who can appreciate it. ****

July 08, 2003

Black League, The: Ichor

The Black League: IchorCD, Spinefarm 2000

Track list: Doomwatcher - One Colour: Black - Deep Waters - Goin' to Hell - Avalon - We Die Alone - The Everlasting pt. II - Ozymandias - Blood of the Gods - Bunker King - Winter Winds Sing - Ecce Homo! - Night on Earth

The Black League features Taneli Jarva (ex-Sentenced, ex-Impaled Nazarene) and friends. The style could be heavy metal; I've filed this under death metal mostly because of Jarva's vocal style is rough and music is very bleak. Ichor is mostly rather slow (with the exception of few rockers like "One Colour: Black") and heavy, carved in stone like the beautiful booklet. Jarva's vocal style is angry and complements the music well. Recommended to all who like their metal heavy and bitter. ****

April 29, 2003

Opeth: Damnation

Opeth: DamnationCD, Music for Nations 2003

Track list: Windowpane - In My Time of Need - Death Whispered a Lullaby - Closure - Hope Leaves - To Rid the Disease - Ending Credits - Weakness

The category isn't really correct - Damnation has nothing to do with black or death metal. There isn't a single grunt or heavy guitar riff on the album. This sibling to Deliverance displays the more sensitive side of Opeth's song writing. You've heard this on other Opeth albums, but this time there's nothing else but the soft acoustic interludes. The songs, a bit shorter than your usual Opeth pieces, flow nicely, in a very beautiful way. Damnation is not the best choice if you want to get familiar with Opeth, but in the other hand, many people who wouldn't like Opeth's other albums, will like Damnation. ****

April 13, 2003

Moonsorrow: Kivenkantaja

Moonsorrow: KivenkantajaCD, Spikefarm 2003

Track list: Raunioilla - Unohduksen lapsi - Jumalten kaupunki incl. Tuhatvuotinen perintö - Kivenkantaja - Tuulen tytär incl. Soturin tie - Matkan lopussa

My favourite vikings are back with a new album. Kivenkantaja is again an epic work of art, telling tales from the past. This time the tone is perhaps a bit less rowdy as on their previous album. Thus, the results are less captivating, but perhaps more epic and in a way more sacral. I'm especially fond of the elegant traditional song sung by a beautiful female voice in the end of the album. ****

November 14, 2002

Opeth: Deliverance

Opeth: DeliveranceCD, Music for Nations 2002

Track list: Wreath - Deliverance - A Fair Judgement - For Absent Friends - Master's Apprentice - By the Pain I See in Others

Opeth's previous album Blackwater Park is one of my favourite metal albums ever. So, when I saw Deliverance in a record store, I couldn't resist the temptation. Well, I did listen to it there and I was pleased with what I heard. My only doubt was that I didn't hear any of the nice, clean vocals I enjoyed so much. However, my fear was in vain - there are very beautiful parts, with acoustic sounds and clean vocals in these songs. Excluding the 2-minute instrumental "For Absent Friends", each song is over 10 minutes long and full of detail. Wonderful! Deliverance isn't as experimental as the new Arcturus album, for example, but definitely on the more imaginative end of the spectrum. *****

November 07, 2002

Arcturus: The Sham Mirrors

Arcturus: The Sham MirrorsCD, Ad Astra 2002

Track list: Kinetic - Nightmare Heaven - Ad Absurdum - Collapse Generation - Star-Crossed - Radical Cut - For to End Yet Again

Black metal isn't the best classification for this many-faced album. As in their previous work, Arcturus hasn't chosen the easiest way out. The Sham Mirrors proves that they are still in the very front of the progressive, out-reaching metal music. There are traces of their black metal past, but their influences are wider than that: electronics and trip-hop are two that spring to my mind first. It's difficult, perhaps even more so than their previous album La Masquerade Infernale, but nonetheless excellent. *****

September 22, 2002

Finntroll: Midnattens Widunder

Finntroll: Midnattens WidunderCD, Spikefarm 1999

Track list: Intro - Svartberg - RivFader - Vätteanda - Bastuvisan - Blodnatt - Midnattens Widunder - Segersäng - Svampfest

To summarize Finntroll is easy: fast black metal with lots of synths and a good dose of humppa, a Finnish variation of polka. Lyrics are sung in Swedish and are about trolls who are plotting to take over the world and I suppose they execute the plan successfully, as well. And what great fun it all is! If you think black metal is all dead serious and therefore a bit silly, just listen to Finntroll and you can rest assured that even black metal people can sometimes have some fun. *****

Ajattara: Itse

Ajattara: ItseCD, Spikefarm 2001

Track list: Yhdeksäs - Verivalta - Musta aurinko - Kuolevan rukous - Ägräs - Murhamiesi - Tulessa - Manan lapset - Rajan takaa - Vihan musta tanssi

While Amorphis has slowly eased up on the death metal element, grunting vocals and all that, Ajattara, a side project of the Amorphis vocalist Pasi Koskinen is definitely something else. Ajattara's music is mostly medium-tempo black metal with some synths thrown into spice things. The lyrics, sung in Finnish, are excellent and what's best, sung so well you can actually hear them without consulting the booklet. Itse is very catchy album, with many excellent, if a bit simple songs. *****

August 16, 2002

Moonsorrow: Voimasta ja kunniasta

Moonsorrow: Voimasta ja kunniastaCD, Spikefarm 2001

Track metal: Tyven - Sankarihauta - Kylän päässä - Hiidenpelto including Häpeän hiljaiset vedet - Aurinko ja kuu - Sankaritarina

My first contact with Moonsorrow was "Kylän päässä" on Spikefarm Sampler cd. I thought it was brilliant... It took me a surprisingly long time to actually buy the album. Now I've done it, I wish I'd done it earlier. These guys rock! Their 10-minute long songs are epic, in a very positive sense. The lyrics are full of viking imagery, sense of honour and glory on the battlefield. Comparisons are drawn to Bathory, I personally think Moonsorrow is a black metal version of what Manowar is at their very best. *****

June 28, 2002

Cradle of Filth: Midian

Cradle of Filth: MidianCD, Music for Nations 2000

Track list: At the Gates of Midian - Cthulhu Dawn - Saffron's Curse - Death Magick for Adepts - Lord Abortion - Amor e Morte - Creatures that Kissed in Cold Mirrors - Her Ghost in the Fog - Satanic Mantra - Tearing the Veil from Grace - Tortured Soul Asylum

I've always found Cradle of Filth a bit difficult band to deal with. I don't like the band very much, I don't like the somewhat misogynic tone in their lyrics, but I do like the atmosphere they can reach at their best and I do like some of their music. Dusk and Her Embrace was, for example, a fine album indeed. Midian isn't nearly as good, but has it's moments. The beginning of the album is good: "Cthulhu Dawn", "Saffron's Curse" and "Death Magick for Adepts" are all good tracks. Rest of it is less impressive. ****

Six Months Later:
I'm dropping a star here. Indeed, the beginning of the album is good, but the rest of it isn't as good. Also, Midian pales in comparison to their better work (mostly Dusk...). ***

May 17, 2002

Dead Beginners, The: Sinners' Rebellion

The Dead Beginners: Sinners' RebellionCD, Spikefarm 2000

Track list: Calling Ruby (Last letter to the First Lady of Jesus Christ) - Treason via Magdalene - The Wounderable One - The Paragon and the Beast of Burden - Amadeus 2000 - La Cathedra - The Illfated - Sinners' Rebellion - Dead Beginners

The Dead Beginners is pretty much the multi-instrumentalist T. Sitomaniemi, who plays all the instruments except drums and most vocals. The music is quite typical synth-backed black metal, not exceptionally furious or imaginative. However, the third track, "The Wounderable One" sounds more interesting. So does "The Illfated", which is without a doubt the best track on the album in all of it's melancholic heaviness. "Sinners' Rebellion" features the strongest vocal performance of the album - and that's what connects the three songs: they all have vocals by T. Sitomaniemi. I rest my case. Those three songs are enough to warrant a better than average grade. ****

Six Months Later:
I think I'll take one star off. Sure, the good tracks are good, "The Illfated" being the best example, but the rest of it just isn't impressive enough. ***