Archive for the black metal Category

Interview with Akitsa

Posted in Akitsa, black metal, interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

For over 10 years now, Canadian black metal band Akitsa has been been crafting their unique style of eclectic punkish black metal.  Their newest album “Au crépuscule de l’espérance,” the first in four years, continues their unpredictable and unique approach to heavy music.  Pantheon performs an interview with Akitsa member O.T. to gain a deeper knowledge of their sound.

Akitsa’s new album “Au crépuscule de l’espérance” has just been released.  Are you pleased with the result?

Yes, we are pleased with the final result of the album. It possesses the deepest, most sincere lyrics we’ve ever written. Musically, it is evolving toward new ground while retaining the fundamental roots of Akitsa.

The lyrics of Loyauté and Vers La Mort seem to be both prideful and courageous, such as “Prends garde! La peur amène le déshonneur” (Beware! Fear brings dishonor).  Are these the types of lyrical themes that Akitsa typically wishes to address?  What else do you write about when creating lyrics for Akitsa?

“Loyauté” is about standing tall with your head high in any situation. Even in defeat, don’t act cowardly. Stay true to what you are. So yes, it’s about courage and pride. “Vers la mort’’ is about death.

It is noted that the lyrics for La Voix Brutale were borrowed from the poet Albert Lozeau.  Why did you choose to use this poem and do you often draw from poetry and/or literature when writing the lyrics and music for Akitsa?

This text from Lozeau is amazingly crude. It also reflects the overall mood of “Au crépuscule de l’espérance”. “Don’t wish, be not or from bones and flesh and have no remorse.” This is the only text we’ve borrowed from what I can recall. Our lyrics come as Akitsa does; we don’t rely on any specific thoughts when we create.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it sounds as if the audio quality changes from song to song on Akitsa albums.  Are all of the songs on Akitsa albums recorded at the same time and with the same equipment?

The songs were sporadically recorded at different time periods. This should explain the changes and variation in our sound as the settings were changed for each composition in order to reflect the exact sonic essence we were looking for. We normally use the same equipment every single time. Almost all of our recordings were made using an old 4-track that I have owned for years.

I see that you commented on the black metal scene back in an older interview, circa 2001/2.  But being that it is nearly a decade later, I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on the current black metal scene.

To be totally honest, I don’t believe that there is any scene right now. The state of black metal has changed enormously in the past decade, and it has evolved into something huge. Nowadays there are so many subdivisions of the genre and strangers who do not fully understand the basic spirit of black metal. It’s definitely impossible to talk about a single scene. Everyone is doing whatever they want on their own.

Have either members of Akitsa had any formal training in music or are you self-taught?

Néant is self-taught while I had some formal Piano classes at a very young age.

In your opinion, what is the best live show that you’ve ever played?

The New York City concert was our best.

Does Akitsa have plans to tour any time soon?

There are no plans as of right now, but we will see what the future holds.

What do you do outside of Akitsa?

We live our lives.

What are some of your favorite albums of all time?

This is a hard question and it could go on forever, I’ll name the few that come across my mind right now:

Absurd “Facta Loquuntur” and “Asgardsrei”, Arkona “Imperium”, Boyd Rice and Friends “Music, Martinis and Misanthropy”, Behexen “My Soul for His Glory”, Bethlehem “Dark Metal” and “Dictius Te Necare”, Brighter Death Now “Necrose Evangelicum” and “Innerwar”, Burzum “Det Som Engang Var”,“Hvist Lyset Tar Oss” and “Filosofem”, Darkthrone “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”, “Under a Funeral Moon”, “Transilvanian Hunger” and “Panzerfaust”, Deathspell Omega “Inquisitors of Satan”, Disembowelment “Transcendence into the Peripheral”, Genocide Organ “Remember”, Gontyna Kry “Welowie”, Ildjarn “Strength and Anger”, In the Woods… “Heart of the Ages”, Kaosritual “Svøpt Morgenrød”, Katharsis “666” and “Kruzifixxion”, Mayhem “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, Monumentum “In Absentia Christi”, NON “Blood and Flame”, “In the Shadow of the Sword”, “Might” and “God and Beast”, Peste Noire “Ballade cuntre lo Anemi Francor”, Rotting Christ “Thy Mighty Contract”, S.V.E.S.T. “Urfaust”, Samael “Worship Him”, “Blood Ritual” and “Ceremony of Opposites”, Varathron “His Majesty at the Swamp”, Veles “Night on the Bare Mountain” and “Black Hateful Metal”… The list could go on.

Thanks a lot for the interview, O.T..  Do you have anything that you would like to promote? Feel free!

Our new album is available right now on cassette and CD. Visit to get your copy. Thanks for this interview.



Carach Angren – ‘Death Came Through A Phantom Ship’ Review

Posted in album review, black metal, Carach Angren with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

For me, Carach Angren was one of those bands that I just happened to stumble upon. Before I bought their albums, I had heard nothing about them except the reviews that were on the metal archives for their debut album, Lammendam. When I saw that they were labeled as “symphonic black metal”, I was quite excited, since this genre of music is one that I happen to enjoy and wanted to get more into. As excited as I was to hear this album, I never actually thought that Death Came Through a Phantom Ship would be this good.

The production on the album is clean, which helps the listener appreciate each of the instruments and the vocals on the album. The clean production really helps show the high quality of musicianship that is demonstrated throughout Death Came Through a Phantom Ship. There is some great tremolo picking throughout the album, and the riffs present in the album are quite well done too. What is great about the music on the album is how well it flows throughout the album. Besides the typical guitar, drums, and bass, there are violins, horns, keyboards, and a piano that are used throughout many of the songs on the album. With all of the different instruments that can be present at one time in the album, some would expect that there would be parts in the album where these instruments would clash in a manner that would be unpleasant for the listener. This may hold true for other bands, but not for Carach Angren. The instruments are all skillfully played and in turn, they complement each other well. With the different instruments present, the members of Carach Angren are able to create an eerie atmosphere, which complements the story that is being told throughout the course of the album. Atmosphere is something that can really help draw in a listener, if created correctly.

The vocals on the album are mostly typical growls. Along with these growls, there are vocals where Seregor, Carach Angren’s vocalist, is simply speaking or whispering. These types of vocals help provide variety throughout the album, but they also help give the listener a sense that a story is being told. This really helps the fact that this album is a concept album, since it makes the story easier to understand for the listener. Added to this, the growled vocals are quite easy to understand, so the meanings and the stories present in each song are not lost as a result of the listener’s inability to understand the vocals. There are some clean vocals present on the album, such as those present in the opening of the song “Van Der Decken’s Triumph” and in the song “Al Betekent Het Mijn Dood”. In the case of these songs, the clean vocals to me sound exactly like what I would expect to hear from a crew working on a ship. This only adds to the story.

Death Came Through a Phantom Ship is a concept album concerning a captain’s decline into insanity and how this legendary ghost ship came about. One of the most impressive aspects about this album is that the members of Carach Angren are able to clearly tell this story while still being able to produce an album that is nothing short of amazing. The story itself is very good too, only adding to the worth of this album. From my interpretation, the album starts off in a more modern setting, where one sailor is explaining his encounter with this phantom ship. The rest of the album then concerns how Captain Van Der Decken becomes insane and this phantom ship comes to be. Since this story is a ghost story, some of these songs are truly chilling. Just look at the story that is being told in the song And the Consequence Macabre. To give a brief summary, Captain Van Der Decken (I assume it is, this song is in the first person, so no name is mentioned) is having a nightmare in which someone is attacking him, and his daughter is missing. He wakes up only to find that both his wife and daughter are dead. Well, that’s the general idea, but it’s probably best that you listen to this song to truly understand it.

Death Came Through a Phantom Ship is an album that does not disappoint. The music is superb, the vocals are great, and the story is chilling. If you are a fan of symphonic black metal, I highly recommend this album. Also, if you enjoy ghost stories or legends, or you want to see a band that can masterfully tell a story through music, I strongly suggest that this is the first album you should look into. This album is an amazing output, and I am greatly interested to see what Carach Angren will do next.


(Also posted on the Metal Archives,

To Kvlt To Be Tr00 #1

Posted in black metal, To Kvlt To Be Tr00 with tags , , on June 17, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

As a brief departure from Pantheon’s usual material and in honor of black metal as a musical genre, I will be at random periods in time posting a series of black-metal-picture inspired comic strips. The intentionally misspelled title of this series is “To Kvlt To Be Tr00.”  I would like to stress that these comics are not and will never be meant to belittle this fantastic genre of music. Click on the above image to see the pictures in a high definition readable format.


Sigh – ‘Scenes From Hell’ Review

Posted in album review, avant-garde, black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

With each album, Sigh has consistently shown their listeners that they will never be pigeonholed into a specific genre.  While the origins of their music are rooted in black metal, orchestral, jazz, and avant-garde influences are also present.  Imaginary Sonicscape was a bizarre trip through a psychedelic atmosphere.  Gallows Gallery, the band’s foray into melodic metal, proved that they could retain a high level of musicianship and varied influences while creating songs that were instantly catchy and accessible.  With 2007’s Hangman’s Hymn, Sigh incorporated a large amount of orchestral influences, resulting in a highly symphonic and intriguing listen.  However, for the first time, Sigh overdid it.  The tracks themselves were fantastic, but long orchestral breaks made the album a chore to listen to.

Enter Scenes from Hell.  For the first time, Sigh does not completely reinvent themselves.  Rather, they have taken the winning formula from Hangman’s Hymn and stripped the filler from it, resulting in a cohesive and wildly enjoyable album.  The orchestral influences are back and more prevalent than ever, but the band has truly perfected their incorporation into the song structure.  Unlike other symphonic bands, who simply write metal songs and layer violins and trumpets over the riffs, Sigh make the orchestral atmosphere an integral part of the music.  Saxophone solos follow guitar solos, loud trumpets punctuate heavy passages, and violins and keys mingle with distorted riffs and blast beats.  Never have classical instruments sounded so normal in metal.

Don’t worry, Sigh have not lost their avant-garde side.  ‘Normal’ does not mean that you have heard this before.  ‘Prelude to the Oracle’ opens the album with a thrash riff, quickly bombarding the listener with a chorus of trumpets.  Songs run the gamut from intense blackened thrash to slow, doomy dirges, such as the exceptional ‘Funeral’ songs in the center of the album.  Of course, Mirai’s trademark howls and keys are backed up by Shinichi’s furious guitar shredding, but Scenes from Hell also boasts the addition of saxophonist and vocalist Dr. Mikannibal.  Her deep growls and solos, especially on ‘Musica in Tempora Belli’ add a new dimension to Sigh’s music.

Despite excellent song structures, insanely catchy melodies, and a new level of orchestration and experimentation, Scenes from Hell is not Sigh’s best album.  It remains a blast to listen to after repeated listens, unlike its predecessor, Hangman’s Hymn.  However, the production is strangely muddy – the bass is inaudible, more or less, and the guitars occasionally sound as if they were recorded underwater.  Considering Sigh’s popularity and the quality of the production on previous albums (Gallows Gallery notwithstanding), this is bizarre.  And, while it’s great to hear the band perfect the style that they dabbled in on the previous album, it is somewhat disappointing.  In today’s metal scene, with two-bit metalcore acts and ‘bedroom black metal’, it is always refreshing to find bands like Ulver and Sigh who constantly reinvent themselves and progress.

Even with poor production and a lack of progression, this is certainly one of the best albums of 2010 thus far.   Sigh’s brilliant combination of blackened metal with symphonic elements is one of the best that has been recorded, and is not to be missed.  While no one can predict what Mirai and crew will come up with next, it is fair to say that, considering their track record thus far, it will certainly be another monumental landmark in the evolution of black metal.


Two Reviews

Posted in black metal, death metal, metal reviews, Skeletonwitch, Witchaven with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Kratornas – The Corroding Age of Wounds

I was taken aback when I first started listening to The Corroding Age of Wounds. It felt kind of like I was being attacked. Not by some person or animal, but by pure, sonic rage. Suffice to say, Kratornas, manned by Bruno Zamora, takes the “more kvlt than thou” attitude to a whole new level. In its own right, this is impressive, though the song writing itself could have used a bit more work, as the eight-track album felt like one single track pummeling. Despite a lack of distinguishable songs, the frenzied, bombastic drums, wretched vocals, and surprisingly conservative guitar work on this fifty-minute evisceration do not let up once!

According to Kratornas’ Myspace page, the root of Bruno Zamora’s rage stems from “Self-Praised Pvrists, Primitive Monkeys, Trendy Clones, Sub-Human Kvltists, and Elitist Squatters who think their opinion matters.” I would argue that The Corroding Age of Wounds would serve as the perfect soundtrack to the frantic decimation of these persons. If you have an unending hatred for the above individuals definitely buy this album. If you are one of those individuals all I can say to you is “run.” [Editor’s Note: Click on this link if you would like to know more about Kratornas:]

– Cameron

Witchaven – Terrorstorm

With the popularity of bands such as Skeletonwitch, it comes with no surprise that there are and will be band clones. Enter Witchaven and their premiere effort, Terrorstorm. While Witchaven could easily pass as a significantly less commercial Skeletonwitch, excluding some hardcore influence, this is by no means a bad thing. Within the delightful genre of blackened trash, bands like Skeletonwitch, and Witchaven, exude an indescribable “live show” presence within their recordings, in that their records are void of superficiality. While some of the tracks on Terrorstorm shine brighter than others, like “Black Thrash Assault” and “Ardent Lust,” the stand out track is “Absolute Profit,” with a chugging intro reminiscent of Motorhead and a fantastic chorus that would go great with any cheap beer.

While not particularly memorable, Terrorstorm does induce a healthy dose of head banging and beer chugging. The most important aspect of this opus is that it does not overstay it’s welcome, which is a problem some blackened/death ‘n’ thrash bands have (e.g. Blood Tsunami). If you are an appreciator of blackened thrash, this album is for you.

– Cameron

Wind of the Black Mountains – Interview with Tim Sever

Posted in black metal, interview, Uncategorized, Wind of the Black Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Here we present an interview with Tim Sever of the long-standing American black metal outfit Wind of the Black Mountains.

Good day to you, Tim.  How are you?

I’ve been good, busy as always it seems.

It’s been a whole 8 years since the last WOTBM album.  Is anything in the works?

Xaphan (Wastelander, SUmmon, Dark Psychosis) and I have an mcd recorded for Moribund that has been in the mixing process for quite some time now. After Tchort passed, Nunrapist (Cemetary Desecrator) had some old guitar and vocal tracks that he had rough recordings of from Tchort, we cleaned them up a bit and added what we thought needed to be added to make them full songs. I’m still not sure when this will be finished and sent to Moribund, but as soon as it is, it will be a day for us to celebrate. It’s definitely been a big pain and a very long wait.

Tchort, (of whom I must express my condolences of his passing), seems to have been the founding member of the band.  Why did he split from the band in 2001?

Tchort was definitely the sole and founding member of WOTBM. Unfortunately he also had his own demons that always kept him from doing more than he was capable of. I had went to visit friends in New Mexico for a couple weeks in 2001. Upon my return I had a lot of messages from concerned friends telling me Tchort had sold every part of his equipment to satisfy his addictions, which included guitars, cabinets, pedals, everything. When I got ahold of him about it, he informed me he couldn’t do it anymore, that he wanted to get his life straightened out for himself and his newly born son. He also expressed that he didn’t want WOTBM to be killed off and he wanted me to keep it going. The unfortunate thing with this was I’ve always kept myself busy with live bands as well as my kids, thus leaving WOTBM somewhat on the back burner, working on it when I had the chance.

Your first album, Sing Thou Unholy Servants, seems to have a much slower and ritualistic feel.  Your second album changes the style a bit by adding an element of speed and taking away some of the more experimental moments.  Was there a reason behind this slight stylistic change and did it have anything to do with the departure of Tchort the prior year?

There was no real reason for the change in styles, it just happened. As to where Tchort did everything by himself for the first album, he had a lot of time to go in and expirement whenever the opportunity arose. After he asked me to join him in doing this, we started getting a lot more of a full band feeling to it, plus, he always expressed he didn’t think a lot of songs on Sing Thou Unholy Servants would be able to be pulled off in a live setting. We wanted to play out live and with all the songs we had written after that album, we were able to do that. We would add live members to our ranks to be able to do shows here and there, but a lot of the shows we did, we did as a 2-piece.

Can you explain the album art for both of the full lengths?

The artwork for STUS I can’t explain too much about due to the fact that Tchort had picked that out before I was in the band. As for Black Sun Shall Rise, we searched and searched for artwork without knowing yet what the album would be called. We found the artwork and realised it went well with some of our lyrics, and we believed it also represented some of the inner demons that we are all controlled by, hence the reason for the male on the cover having his arms bound behind him with the temptations of life being there in front of him and him not being able to resist them. As for the new album, I believe the artwork and title Summoned by Shadows is pretty self explanatory. It shows a man walking into a forest with a demon hiding in the shadows. This title also goes well with Tchort’s passing as he was definitely drawn by his own shadows.

Is the unreleased album “The Return of Ancient One” supposed to be a full-length?  I have read that it was meant to be released back in 2002, but it still has not seen the light of day.  Will this ever be released?

Unfortunately, the material that was going to be used for this album was never recorded is now long gone with Tchort’s passing. Some of the riffs on Summoned by Shadows will be represented here, but as a whole, those songs are gone forever since they were never recorded. We wanted to make sure that everything recorded for WOTBM has Tchort’s preformances on it. After the Summoned by Shadows mcd is released, This band will be put to rest unless I miraculously dig up some more of Tchort’s works which I don’t see happening.

What are some of your primary influences?

Myself and Tchort pretty much listened to everything from old school black metal, death metal, and the early German thrash  bands. I also listen to a lot of the old east-coast hardcore and such.

Does Wind Of The Black Mountains play live?

Tchort and i played a few shows with just the two of us, but we also did many shows where we recruited live members. Past live members included Nunrapist (Cemetary Desecrator), Azazel (Left Hand Trinity), and Lord Nuzzi (Serpent Crown).

Do you find that the black metal scene is still going strong?

I believe it is, some of the bands are getting a lot more exposure out there now than what could have been fathomed years ago. The lines have become so dilluted now though, and it seems that if a band will throw on some corpse paint just to be labeled black metal and follow a lot of the trendy aspects of it. Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the old school bands that started out doing this 20 years ago (give or take a year or two), the shock value it used to hold has been lost.

What are some of your favorite albums of all time?

I could probably be here all day doing this. Like I said before, I have quite the diverse liking for a lot of extreme musics. Some of the earlier bands that got me into this that I can still listen to to this day are the obvious like Venom’s Black Metal, Celtic Frost’s Into Mega Therion, onto bands like Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Possessed, Sodom, Kreator of course. And then into bands like Behemoth or the old hardcore bands like Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, or what have you. It’s so hard for me to talk about favorite albums, styles, or even bands, cause each band and each album bring their own thing to it and all of them have certain aspects I like more or less than other recordings from the same bands.

Do you have anything that you’d like to add or promote?

I would definitely like to thank you, Max, for showing your support and interest in WOTBM. Hopefully the new album will be out soon through Moribund. Also, please check out my main live band, Genocya. We put a lot of the elements from the bands I’ve listed in this interview into our music, and we’ll be having a new cd out very soon. Thanks a ton!!

Thanks so much, Tim!


Metal Songs That Make Me Lose My Mind (Part 1)

Posted in Absu, avant-garde, black metal, death metal, Drudkh, Equilibrium, folk metal, Mayhem, Suffocation, viking metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Everyone knows the feeling.  You know…that feeling when a song just clicks.  You get a rush of adrenaline, a shiver runs up your spine, and little goose pumplets form on your skin.  From that moment on, that song will always make you want to sprout wings and soar above everything or unsheathe a weapon and lay waste to all evil fiends in your path.  Nearly uncontrollable energy is bursting from the aura surrounding your body.  Well, I personally cherish the moments when a song can elicit these powerful emotions.  Thusly, I present you with a collection of songs that truly make me lose my mind.  (As an aside, I limited it to one song per artist.  I also included the specific time in the song that gets me excited/turned on.)

Absu – The Coming of War

The Sun of Tiphareth is an odd album in the Absu discography.  It marked a departure from the death metal sound of their prior album and early demos in favor of slower, epic black metal.  Immediately after The Sun of Tiphareth, Absu added a thrash element to their albums.  While they were able to execute this black/thrash sound in a most excellent fashion (Tara…holy shit…), the sheer quality of this release makes me wish they would return to the slower sound for at least a song or two.  I’ll always remember Absu playing “The Coming of War” as the finale to their set when I saw them play live.  Despite the sound being utter ASS in that venue, the ridiculously epic riff broke through and made me a fan of this track.  My favorite Absu song?  Perhaps.  “She Cries the Quiet Lake” and “Night Fire Canonization” provide some competition, but it’s definitely up there.

Moment in particular: 2:44-4:13

Suffocation – Effigy of the Forgotten

I don’t gravitate towards death metal all that often.  However, when I’m feeling the need, I usually order up some tech-death.  Suffocation wholly fulfills my tech desires with their seminal Effigy of the Forgotten album.  While the album is full of moments that blow me away, it is the tempo/riff change during the title track that wins out in the end.

Moment in particular: 1:23-1:58

Mayhem – Key to the Storms

Does Ordo Ad Chao stack up to De Mysteriis or Deathcrush?  Many say no, but I wholly disagree. De Mysteriis perfectly captures the atmosphere and the madness of the Norwegian black metal scene and consequently, has been one of the most lauded black metal albums of all time.  Mayhem made the correct decision though and moved forward.  Every consecutive album was an entirely new creation that built upon their established formula and took risks.  And now Ordo Ad Chao, arguably their most disturbing album and the first to feature Attila Csihar since De Mysteriis.  The songs have a raw, improvisational feel that is executed flawlessly.  Whether it be the surprisingly technical drumming, the avant-garde riffs, or the unsettling vocal performance by Atilla, I always find myself consumed by this album’s sound, time and time again.  “Key To The Storms” contains some of the most profound moments of sheer madness and raw emotion that I’ve experienced in any album.  Perhaps some may find Attila’s descent into insanity during the latter half of the track silly.  I do not…  In fact, I find it believable and therefore all the more unnerving.

Moment In particular: 1:57-end

Equilibrium -Des Sängers Fluch

While Equilibrium’s first album Turis Fratyr maintained a delicate balance between creating epic melodies and crafting a beautiful atmosphere, Sagas focused way too much on usurping the already perfect epic vibe of Turis Fratyr.  The result was a whole lot of sugary sweet and familiar folk metal melodies that sounded overblown and consequently, ruined the awesome vibe that could have been created.  That being said, I cannot deny some truly epic moments hidden within.  “Prolog Auf Erden” always sends chills down my spine and the single off the album “Blut Im Auge,” is undeniably catchy.  However “Des Sängers Fluch” is probably the only song on the album that recreates the atmosphere of their first album.  Brilliantly paced, the song takes its time building up to the various explosive, high-energy moments.  And, oh my…they are beautiful.

Moments in particular: 3:37-4:36, 7:08-end

Drudkh – Sunwheel

I believe an explanation of my recurring fantasy with Drudkh will help explain my love for this song.  Whenever listening to Autumn Aurora, Drudkh’s second full-length, I imagine myself experiencing them live in concert.  I’m standing near the stage outdoors, the band and the crowd is surrounded by nature, the skies are grey but sunlight is shining through a hole in the clouds, there is a light rain and the air is warm.  Let me tell you…If I were to experience this in real life, my body would cease to function because of the overload of positive stimulus.  To have the full effect though, they would have to be playing “Sunwheel,” my favorite track off Autumn Aurora.  The riff that breaks through about a quarter of the way though, as well as the ensuing guitar solo, are legendary.  These evoke a feeling of pride and happiness in me that is insurmountable.

Moment in particular: 2:29 – 4:03

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.  Coming soon!


Enslaved Studio Updates

Posted in black metal, Enslaved, progressive rock with tags , , on April 10, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

After receiving critical acclaim for their last opus “Vertebrae,” Enslaved is back with a new unnamed album. Since late January, Enslaved has been hard at work and kind enough to present fans with not one, but three studio updates. Each update contains hints as to the fluid approach Enslaved is taking with this exciting new release.

Mind you, these updates are not one-dimensional. Ivar and the Enslaved gang also include other interesting tidbits regarding their album art, birthday parties, and “behind the scenes” filming. Check this stuff out, because it is thoroughly good. – Cameron Davis

Click here to read all three Enslaved studio updates

Two Mini Reviews

Posted in black metal, death metal, immolation, metal reviews, satyricon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Satyricon – The Age of Nero

Satyricon’s latest release, The Age of Nero, presents a solid take on modern blackened metal. From the lo-fi black metal of their early work, Satyricon has adopted a more rock beat and clean sound. Although a continuation of Satyricon’s departure from the growling discordance of pure black metal, The Age of Nero nonetheless presents a decent piece of Norwegian metal.

The album opens with “Commando”, a pulsing, chugging song that holds strong but fails to especially impress. Get past this somewhat weak opening and you’ll find some excellent metal to be had on this album. “The Wolfpack,” “Die By My Hand,” and “Black Crow on a Tombstone” show Frost’s drumming ability, throwing out a heavy, fast beat reminiscent of early Satyricon and Gorgoroth. Satyr strums out a solid cascade of guitar riffing, cranking the music into epic swells and falls. With “My Skin is Cold,” the duo presents a taste of a more traditional melancholy, a feel of something a bit more black. The medieval vibes of earlier works come into play strongly in “The Sign of the Trident” and “Den Siste,” echoing the rhythmic feel of “Angstridden” and other older work.

Though by no means a return to old school black metal, Satyricon has produced a respectable piece of metal in a vein entirely their own. They play with a more marketable, cleaner sound to be sure- but nonetheless put forth a potent piece of very heavy music.  The Age of Nero is above all else a solid, well-wrought album, a redemption from the lows of Now, Diabolical that hearkens to roots and affirms Satyricon’s place in the continuing evolution of metal. -Reis Galvan

Immolation – Majesty and Decay

This was my first foray into all things “Immolated” and I have to say I’m impressed. My initial vibe from this band was a subtle mix of Domination-era Morbid Angel (i.e. “Where the Slime Live”) and Celtic Frost, though I’m certain their influences run closer to the latter. After a prerequisite atmospheric intro track, “The Purge” produces some of the best lyrical/ vocal offerings I’ve heard since Death’s “Living Monstrosity.” Seriously, check this shit out: “ More and more, / growing and growing / Spreading and spreading, / taking and ruining / The CANCER is growing, / the CANCER is spreading.” If that’s not enough for you, “A Token of Malice” and “Majesty and Decay” absolutely kill due to an astonishing amount of   guitar-induced metallic oppression. This album is definitely worth checking out.-Cameron Davis

Master’s Hammer – “Mantras” review

Posted in album review, avant-garde, black metal, experimental, Master's Hammer, metal reviews, progressive black metal, progressive metal with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

When the news of a new Master’s Hammer album broke last year, I was more than a little excited.  Their 1991 classic Ritual had already turned me into a Master’s Hammer fanboy, so the prospect of a new masterpiece had me eagerly looking forward to Mantras.  Being that their catalogue is ripe with innovation and experimentation, it comes as no surprise that Mantras continues in this genre-defying fashion.

“Typograf” starts the album off strongly with explosive energy, a simple yet brutal riff, and atmospheric guitar solos.  The next few songs follow in a similar fashion, including simple (and dare I say, predictable) guitar riffs combined with a dash of guitar or keyboard oddity.  If I had to pick a low point in the album, it would be these few songs.  Moments of glory shine through when they break from their traditional old-era riffs and throw something odd into the mix.

Luckily, beginning with “Bodhi,” Master’s Hammer begins to fully explore these experimental tendencies that were only hinted at in the prior tracks.  The songs are not as heavy, with many arguably not even being metal, let alone black metal.  However, I embrace their heavy usage of diverse keyboard sounds, nearly danceable beats, and odd song structures because it’s simply a joy to listen!  The songs all continue in this fashion, except for a cover of their old song “Jáma Pekel.”  However, even this track isn’t spared from the album’s weirdness due to its incredibly funky keyboard solo near the end.

Mantras has been a very difficult album for me.  When I first heard the samples offered on their website, I was ready for a new classic.  Does this album reach that status?  The stumbling in a few songs early-on does not help its case. However, it contains so many eccentricities and new sounds that my perception of the album is constantly changing. Who knows?  Perhaps the future will be kind to this unique piece of work. -Max