Archive for Hirilorn

Underrated Black Metal Gems

Posted in Hirilorn, Mutilation Rites, Trist, Urfaust, Zwenz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

I made a video to go along with this article.   It’s set up to allow you to sample the tunes while you read my descriptions!

1. Mutilation Rites – Rewind a week back.  My friends and I, all college students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are in attendance at a local black metal show on the second floor of a co-op.  Only a block away from the hordes of drunk fraternity parties, the concert seemed to exist in its own little microcosm.  As if to highlight this disparity, an old couple’s dinner party was visibly occurring in the adjacent building, completely unaware of the sonic blasphemy taking place a mere 10 feet from their window.  However, this unique atmosphere would have amounted to nothing if the bands weren’t up to snuff.  But, oh my…were they.  New York based Mutilation Rites was undoubtedly the highlight of the show.  Despite only having a single demo to their name, they blast like veterans of the genre.  A hint of melancholy but plenty of headbangable moments as well.  I could see them getting signed pretty soon.


2. Trist – Not to be confused with the suicidal band from the Czech Republic, the Trist from Germany is instead a more atmospheric band that demands an open mind and plenty of patience.  Especially on the hour-long ambient black metal track “Hin,” the listener is forced to treat the song as one would a traditional ambient cut.  The buzz guitars and quick drumming almost paradoxically become a source of the ambience, with subtle keyboards drifting in and out ranging from a magical melody to spacey whooshes.  Trist are one of those bands that necessitate a certain mindset of the listener in order to exhibit its maximal effects.  For me, I need a cloudy and rainy day coupled with a sense of relaxation and slight sadness.  My experiences with Trist are a rarity, but consequently, I cherish their almost spiritual effect that much more.


3. Urfaust –  While Trist focuses on expansive and space-like soundscapes, Urfaust goes deep within, concurrently forcing an existential search whilst dipping into titillating pleasures like liquor and occultism.  Urfaust seems to be built around these paradoxes (or do they even deserve to be labeled as such?).  Sonically, Urfaust builds upon the dichotomous structure that Burzum so popularized, namely the album arrangement of metal tracks lulled slowly to pure ambience.  Urfaust have traversed styles throughout their releases though, eventually landing upon a noisier and more ritualistic sound on the latest release.  But if you want my opinion, start with Geist Ist Teufel, their most emotional album.  (Also, keep on the lookout for an Urfaust interview coming up on Pantheon!)


4. Hirilorn –  Hirilorn has already been praised to infinity on Pantheon, through my review of Legends of Evil and Eternal Death, and Ryan’s Top Metal Songs article.  However, I find it hard to stress enough, how fantastical and majestic Hirilorn truly is.  Most lengthy black metal songs, either trance-inducing (Trist!) or flat out boring (99% of those bands who try), all usually seem to rely on the groundwork laid by the early 90s innovators.  Few bands truly break free of the simple Darkthrone riff style, that so effortlessly becomes a bore to hear.  Hirilorn opted for a more epic approach, with guitars that fit the long running time of the album.  I’ve still never heard a more epic lead guitar work.  Strangely enough, the rhythm guitarist Hasjarl went on to form Deathspell Omega, one of the most technical and progressive metal bands around today.  And he was only the rhythm guitarist…I wonder what the lead guitarist is doing nowadays.  I also can’t believe, given Deathspell Omega’s popularity, that Hirilorn is such a well-kept secret.  I’m trying to bring it out!

P.S. – The combination of Hirilorn with the Berserk manga and anime series is a match made in heaven.

5.  ZwenZ – Speaking of well-kept secrets, German one-man band ZwenZ is responsible for one of the best folk/black metal albums I’ve ever heard: A Life’s Work of Natrgaard.  Yet, nobody seems to listen to it!  Surely, ZwenZ’s discography is really hit or miss, mostly miss if you ask me.  That being said, this album is definitely a dictionary definition ‘diamond in the rough.’  Self-released in 2005, it never quite received the coverage it deserved.  The nature vibes of this album are out of control, with fellow German band Horn being the only band that comes anywhere close.  Natrgaard is a fantastic guitarist who switches masterfully between tremolo-picked riffing, Bathory-influenced acoustic moments, and beautiful clean soloing.  In addition, the vocals, both clean and harsh, are top-notch and the employment of a flute adds an unquantifiable amount of atmosphere.  Definitely give this a chance.  If this truly is Natrgaard’s life’s work, then well done sir.  I’ve downloaded it, but I also suggest purchasing it.  He just re-released it on his website and it’s pretty dang cheap:

– Max

Interview with Shaxul – A Life Force of the French Black Metal Scene

Posted in Annthennath, Arphaxat, black metal, French black metal, Hirilorn, interview, Manzer, metal interview, Shaxul with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Shaxul, a French metal musician, has had a place in the black metal scene for nearly 15 years now.  Starting in the epic band Hirilorn, he then founded Deathspell Omega in 1998.  Musical differences caused Shaxul to leave the band and pursue a different route.  Since then, he has been extremely busy with his record labels and multiple musical projects including Annthennath, Manzer, and Arphaxat.  Kindly, Shaxul agreed to answer some questions about his musical career.  Interview performed by Max.

-How does the song-writing process occur for Annthennath?

N°6 (guitar) writes the riffs and structures. Lyshd sometimes does it as well but it’s mainly N°6. Then the remaining musicians (Welkin on bass, Thyr on drums and myself on vocals) work on their own parts. I am responsible for all lyrics and concepts.

-I see that there are multiple releases planned for 2010.  Are there two full lengths and a split coming?  What can you tell us about these?

We are close to FROSTMOON ECLIPSE musically and they are friends so we wanted to do a split 7″EP with them. I came up with the idea of writing an exclusive song by each band which theme is infanticide as a natural selection. It should be available soon through REGIMENTAL Records (USA). I will release a CD through my own label ARMEE DE LA MORT Records, it will consist of 3 new tracks with a concept about nothingness, and several rare and exclusive songs so yes, it will be a full length when it comes to the duration but our real first album will be released by PICTONIAN Records, a local label run by a friend. The album is called “States Of Liberating Departure” and it features 8 tracks. It has just been mixed and mastered and I can’t tell you how much I am impressed with the result! I think this album will blow everyone away.

-Does Annthennath play live shows?

No, we are a studio band. We live quite far from each other for various reasons, we’re all very busy with other projects, and some members don’t like to play live so all this means we are not a live band. All in all, it is a part of our misanthropic concept. Personally I like playing live but I have another band for that, called MANZER.

-Regarding your now-defunct band Hirilorn, can you clarify the reason behind the break-up?

Sînn and Yohann became really too open-minded for me and Hasjarl. They were listening to many non-Metal shit, they took part in some stupid modern HardCore bands, Sînn sold his Metal collection to buy Electro/Indus shit, etc… We couldn’t stand this situation anymore. We suggested them to become session members only but as we expected it, they denied the offer and the band was dead…

-Do you foresee Hirilorn ever reforming?

It is absolutely impossible. The other 3 members don’t give a shit about HIRILORN, I don’t see them for 8 to 11 years and I simply hate them hehe…  Remember that I left them in bad terms. And I couldn’t reform the band with other members because there was a special unity between us back then, something that couldn’t be done again. Nowadays most bands reforming are very bad and it would be a shame and insult if HIRILORN would be a part of this circus.

-Prophetic Tales of Armageddon was never released until now.  Are all of the planned songs from that album on the new 2xLP?

Yes, they are all on this double LP. It has never been released before because unfortunately the band split up before recording the album. But I managed to find some decent recordings from rehearsals we made in 1999. They were good enough to be released on noble vinyl format. It is the ultimate testament of HIRILORN.

-Manzer is another one of your projects.  It seems to have a really old school feel to it, especially with your vocals.  It’s really reminding me of proto-black metal bands from the 80s.  What type of sound are you going for with Manzer?

I hate the “proto-Black” word, it’s mainly used by newcomers without knowledge about the Metal history, and VENOM are the creators of Black Metal, it is one of our biggest influence. So we are Black Metal, that’s all. Read old SLAYER mags for example and you’ll notice that the words Black Metal were used very often. Our main influences are VENOM, ABIGAIL, SABBAT, KILLERS, ATOMIZER, IMPALED NAZARENE, JAN DO FIAO, BATHORY, NME, BULLDOZER… We also want to show that Black Metal is not only the stupid norsecore style that so many people dig nowadays. We respect the roots of Metal and it is a tribute. We show we can do a traditional style with our own identity.

-Arphaxat is a duo with you on drums and bass and Draken on vocals.  What is the reason behind utilizing a no-guitar approach?

The reason is very simple: we can’t play this fukking instrument hahaha! We wanted to create a project together and we thought that using bass parts with a big distortion instead of the usual six-strings electric guitar would be OK. And it works, at least we’re satisfied with the shit we succeeded to create hehe…

-All of your musical projects (unless I’m missing some), seem to be rooted in the black metal style.  Do you foresee yourself ever playing in a separate sub-genre of metal or another genre of music?

Yes, I could play in other styles of Metal (as long as it’s traditional and not modern shitty sub-genres). It’s just that destiny made that I only played in Black Metal bands… Maybe one day I could play something else but my bands are very different from one to another so it’s really not an issue. I would like to find time to record something with traditional instruments from all over the world, nothing Metal here but it would be very special for me, the problem is that I don’t have the time for that and Metal will remain a priority for sure.

-How has your label Legion of Death Records been going?

It is going well since early 2001! This week I will unleash my 38th production, EXORDIUM MORS 7″EP from New Zealand.

-Is there a reason that you tend to sign bands that are not European?

Of course, it is the concept of my label. In Europe things are very easy when it comes to getting record deals. In some underrated or unknown places, it is very difficult. It’s a bit easier nowadays but back then it was a fukked up situation, really. I wanted to help the valuable bands in these distant countries. Though I always supported valuable European bands as well, by the way I have created a parallel label last year, called ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. It is mainly to support underrated bands from the French regions.

-What do you foresee for the future of black metal or just metal in general?

Metal will never die! People should be more underground to keep real Metal alive and they should have the balls to boycott all trends. But there’s nothing we can do, except supporting the real Metal spirit. I can mainly speak for myself and I will be Metal til death. This is the most important to me, I will never betray my thoughts.

-How would you describe the black metal scene in France right now?

It is getting better. To be honest I hated it during many years. Some years ago I discovered some bands with the correct attitude and tastes. And I want to support them with ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. I have already released 3 Black Metal albums, by FUNERAILLE, CARNYX and ANKRISMAH. Get them if you want to know what real Black Metal from France is all about. Nothing to do with the trendy ones that many non-French people seems to hail.

-What albums have you been listening to as of late?

As I run a label, I receive lots of new records all the time. And they are the ones I listen to. So for example, last week I listened a lot to NECROWRETCH, RESUSCITATION, TUDOR, COMBAT NOISE, INFERNAL CURSE, AFFLICTIS LENTAE, DEIPHAGO, CURSED NIHIL, ZÜÜL, etc… But of course I pick up an older record from time to time!

-What are some of your overall favorite albums?

It is extremely difficult to answer this question as there are so many but I can mention VENOM “Black Metal”, SABBAT “Envenom”, IRON MAIDEN “Powerslave”, SADISTIK EXEKUTION “The Magus”, MANILLA ROAD “Crystal Logic”, SARCOFAGO “INRI”, MASSACRA “Enjoy the violence”, SLAYER “Reign in blood”, etc…

-Any closing remarks or things you’d like to promote?  Thank you so much for the interview!

Not that I want to promote anything but I encourage everyone to check my webshop with tons of true underground Metal stuffs! That’s all, so 666 thanxxx to you for the support!!! My contacts:


WebSite + WebShop :

E-mail :


Snail Mail : LOD Records / BP 21 / 86210 Bonneuil-Matours / France.

Here be Ryan’s Top 24 Metal Songs…

Posted in avant-garde, black metal, death metal, GRAMPS, Hirilorn with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

When I sat down to compose a list of my favorite metal songs, let’s just say it was a labor of love. After digging through tens of thousands of songs totaling over 60 solid days of music, what you see before you represents my absolute favorites from a decade’s worth of musical digestion. In all honesty, I could have easily filled the list with songs from my favorite band, Agalloch, but in order to remain credible they had to be excluded from consideration. Hopefully, you have the opportunity and pleasure to listen to some of these masterpieces and perhaps discover a new favorite yourself.

Forest of FogWalking the Endless Path

A one-man Swiss black metal band, Forest of Fog’s 2003 demo “Rabenflug” presents a completely instrumental tour through a slightly fuzzy woodland auditory landscape. This particular song incorporates a good variety of riffs interspersed with piano and traditional tremolo picking. The bass is barely present at best, but the song stands on its own with simply guitar and drums.

Abyssic HateDepression Part I

Countless metal greats have come from down under, and Abyssic Hate certainly keeps that tradition alive. The Australian band’s last full-length, “Suicidal Emotions”, features this nearly 13 minute track which becomes simply entrancing. Nothing fancy, but effective in evoking the minimalistic atmosphere of despair.

Windir – Mørket Sin Fyrste

Valfar, the mind behind the Norwegian band Windir, is widely respected as one of the greatest minds black metal has entertained. The track in question comes off the bands 1997 debut album “Sóknardalr”, and features one of my favorite Windir riffs throughout the song. Clocking in at over seven minutes, it’s one of Windir’s most epic songs both in length and content.

OpethDemon of the Fall

From 1998’s concept album “My Arms, Your Hearse”, this song contains some of Mikael Akerfeldt’s best screams and lyrics. I had the chance to see Demon of the Fall performed live this summer, and it blew my fucking mind. It definitely shines most when flowing into the next song, Credence; in fact, listen to the album in its entirety if possible.

Woods of YpresThe Ghosts of Summers Past

While it’s debatable whether this song is even metal, not even the cheesy lyrics can make the crescendo at the halfway point any less memorable. The Canadian band has been somewhat hit-and-miss with their full-lengths, but I honestly enjoy the eclectic variety of tempo shifts in this track.

Satanic WarmasterCarelian Satanist Madness

Switching between traditional tremolo picking and more melodic sections, this Finnish outfit produces some pretty standard in-your-face black metal. Coming off of the 2005 full-length by the same name, frontman Satanic Tyrant ties this eight minute track together with his shrieks, which range from entertaining to downright chilling.

Carpathian ForestCold Murderous Music

This Norwegian quartet would easily be one of my favorite black metal bands solely based on the number of inventive and curiously disturbing non-metal tracks they have produced. Featuring absolutely no guitar and focusing more on the haunting combination of raspy vocals and jazz-inspired saxophone, the lyrical content seems even more sinister than it would under the normal yoke of black metal.

HirilornWhere Lightning Strikes Eternally

The French scene has produced some of the most outstanding black metal bands of the past decade, and I think the predecessor to Deathspell Omega may be my favorite. Their use of catchy, cascading melodies makes its most prominent appearance on their 1997 demo “A Hymn to the Ancient Souls”. Luckily for consumers, some of the band’s best work has been repressed on vinyl. A must-listen for anyone who enjoys metal.

Black ForestDisappearing Pain

The oldest of the eight Black Forest members was 17 when they recorded “Sadness” in 2000. Seriously. My knowledge of doom metal is limited, but Russian bands normally do not have the level of maturity and quality that the band demonstrates. The song progresses so much over its duration that by the end I was simply in awe. While hard to find, the song leaves an indelible mark on a metal connoisseurs’ musical palate that will not be forgotten.

NargarothSeven Tears are Flowing to the River

Controversy surrounding frontman Kanwulf’s attempt to fabricate the band’s starting date aside, his ability to compose a purely mournful song cannot be denied. 2001’s “Black Metal Ist Krieg” shines mainly due to memorable covers of some pretty heavy black metal hitters (Moonblood, Root, etc.), but this track outshines all others on this album due to epic length (15 minutes!). Thankfully, monotony works for rather than against the song. Grab a scotch and enjoy this one.

In FlamesMoonshield

Mentioning this band to anyone remotely versed in metal these days will likely elicit a negative, condescending reaction. However, before their dissolution into uninspired shit-metal, this Swedish band was one of the pioneers of the Gothenburg melodic death metal style. This track kicks off their 1996 full-length “The Jester Race”, and perfectly embodies what to expect for the rest of the album. After the acoustic intro, your eardrums will be thanking you long after the song ends.

Nokturnal MortumGlass Coffin

For a first demo, this Ukranian black metal band does a fucking awesome job. If I had heard this song in 1995, I would have probably equated it with some evil rendition of Snow White’s funeral procession, and the multiple solos are much appreciated and sadly rare in most black metal. This release is a big departure from their recent work, so if you are not a fan of their symphonic releases, DO NOT immediately write this one off.


Featuring Garm of Ulver fame on vocals, this song from the 1997 album “La Masquerade Infernale” can be described as nothing short of amazing. A recitation of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, the band pays a charitable homage to the spooky man by setting his words to their avant-garde musical stylings. Periods of intense riffing chaos are met with broad, sweeping astral/symphonic passages. Not one to pass up, and Garm’s clean vocals are simply a treat on top of an otherwise thick, richly-composed masterpiece.

MoonspellAlma Mater

One of the most passionate performances I have ever seen was when this Portuguese band struck up the intro to this song at a show… and immediately the crowd went nuts. Off of their 1995 debut album “Wolfheart”, the band’s shift toward more of a Gothic metal vein does not detract from the fraternal bond that the song evokes. And who does not like a good operatic verse or two? Fuck yeah.

Forgotten TombSolitude Ways

More generally associated with their long tradition of great prog, Italy’s Forgotten Tomb combines doom and black metal in a form I did not think possible. Herr Morbid’s shrieks sound like they come from some cavern deep within his chest, and the guitar work melds the two styles seamlessly. For a good romp through the mindset of depression, definitely check this one out.

EmpyriumChapter 2: Waldpoesie

This German band produces some of the most emotional music I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. From their 2002 neofolk album “Weiland”, the mix of orchestral elements, a capella, acoustic guitar and black metal vocals lends itself perfectly to a session of deep personal reflection. Transitioning from a slow combination of chords to a horn section may seem bizarre; within the scope of the song, its unexpected and yet strangely fitting. Again, enjoyment with a nice spirit is optional, but highly recommended.

Borknagar Colossus

Colossus remains one of my all-time favorites if for nothing else than Vortex’s fucking STELLAR vocal performance throughout the song as well as the entire 2000 album “Quintessence”. The song is solid all around, but the clean singing that emanates from his mouth sounds, at times, like the deep, rich tone from a bell. Coming from a scene that elevates a raw sound to greatness almost automatically, the pride taken in the production value of this song is greatly appreciated.


I might just be partial to intro songs, but the first track from Suidakra’s album “The Arcanum” certainly makes up for the lack of creativity present in the band’s name. The riffs are solid and the drums evoke a battle thundering onwards. Resting firmly in a melodic black/death realm, the song entertains from beginning to end and serves as a showpiece of German metal musicianship.

Deströyer 666The Eternal Glory of War

Comprising members from other Australian bands like Bestial Warlust and Razor of Occam, K.K. Warslut’s blackened thrash juggernaut churns out some seriously powerful tracks. I rank “Pheonix Rising” as one of the premier albums of the past decade, and the Chicago performance of this song in October changed the entire tempo of the show. People transformed into frenzied beasts, myself included, as their crunching riffs ushered us on towards an epic conflict. Listen. To. This.

Cirith GorgorWinter Embraces Lands Beyond

Normally I discount bands whose names are taken from Lord of the Rings immediately, just because of the overused, cliché association there. However, this band is far too musically talented and diverse to be overlooked. Their intro to this song, off the 199 debut full-length “Onwards to the Spectral Defile”, paints a picture before your eyes, something I dearly value within a song.


Before changing their style and hooking up with the Century Media label, the band used to have some clout within the underground black metal scene. The particular song discussed here comes from a 2004 split with Xasthur in which Xasthur’s frontman, Malefic, provides his haunting, ghostly vocals. Complimented by a fuzzy but heavily melodic riff progression, the elements come together into an intensely depressive journey.

DissectionMaha Kali

Rest In Peace, Jon Nödtveidt. Dissection was one of the pioneers of the Swedish death metal scene, and their 2006 album “Reinkaos” marked the end of the band’s history after Jon committed suicide. Citing that he had fulfilled everything he could accomplish in life, it is an epic note to go out on and comparable in quality to their earlier gems. This song oddly foreshadows his death, invoking the goddess Kali and death-worship. Definitely worth a listen to appreciate the influence Dissection had on the scene.

BathoryA Fine Day to Die

Do not be fooled by the acoustic intro… this song, from one of the most influential metal bands ever, will kick your ass. After hell creeps forth on the 1988 release of “Blood Fire Death”, frontman Quorthon evokes the best from the black and Viking metal genres. If you have not heard it before, you owe it to yourself, for the sake of metal history, to listen to this song.

Vital RemainsDechristianize

Glen Benton is a crazy man, but what this band brings to standard death metal leaves me in awe. Their 2003 album by the same name provides the usual apocalyptic riffs and impressive drumming, but when this song breaks into a melodic section it becomes a completely different beast. You can hear the high-pitched demonic shrieks alongside Benton’s guttural utterances, urging listeners to rid themselves of religious poison. And I did, as my brain exploded all over the wall.

Hirilorn “Legends of Evil and Eternal Death” Review

Posted in album review, black metal, Deathspell Omega, Hirilorn with tags , , on January 14, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Every now and then, I encounter an album that I listen to so frequently that it becomes iconic of a certain period in my life.  Nelly’s rap album Country Grammar will always bring me back to Track and Field practice at my grade school.  Slipknot’s Vol. 3 will always remind me of transitioning from middle school to high school.  Graveland’s Thousand Swords is always going to be the album that served as a perfect otherworldly escape when my mother was suffering from cancer.  This past winter break has yielded the newest addition to my list of iconic albums: Hirilorn’s Legends of Evil and Eternal Death, a beautiful piece of black metal art.

Before the great Deathspell Omega existed and progressed black metal into unforeseen realms of avant-garde genius, a few of the DSO members played in the short-lived and still underground Hirilorn.  Honestly, I’m shocked that this band is not more widely-known.  Since being introduced to them a few months back, I have been blown away by the sheer quality of their music.  After releasing one of the greatest demos I’ve ever heard (A Hymn to the Ancient Souls), Hirlorn returned in 1998 to deliver their only full-length album, Legends of Evil and Eternal Death.

Don’t let the four tracks deceive you into believing this is an EP.  The songs are epics, lasting between 12-17 minutes apiece.  When I say “epic,” I mean it in every sense of the word.  Admirably, Hirilorn never resorts to cheesy synths and overbearing orchestral breaks to achieve this epic feeling.  Rather, they craft beautiful atmospheres with the tastefully used ambient keyboards, poetic and fantastical lyrics, and unbelievable guitar melodies.  Oh my god, the lead guitar…  While everything else (the rhythm guitar, drums, vocals, aforementioned keyboards and lyrics) are all extremely well-done and add their own important elements to the overall package, nothing trounces the melodic leads.  Honestly, they could be the most beautiful melodies I have heard in metal music, even surpassing my prior favorites that existed within Dissection’s two masterpieces The Somberlain and Storm of the Light’s Bane.

I do not want to give the impression that the leads are the only aspect worth mentioning.  10:27 into “Through the Moonless Night” breaks into a frenetic black metal riff devoid of any real melody but perfectly heavy and memorable nonetheless.  I’m hard-pressed to not headbang every time this moment occurs.  Legends of Evil and Eternal Death is full of these moments.  Unconventional song structures allow for plenty of softer asides and newly introduced riffs and melodies.  Luckily, the songs never get lost in the constant change and tend to return to previously introduced riffs and melodies, successfully making the songs distinct from each other.

If I have not made it clear by now, let me do so.  Listen to this album!  With its unique melodies and overall epic atmosphere, Legends of Evil and Eternal Death solidifies its place among the greatest albums I have ever encountered.  While I obviously cannot guarantee that this will become an iconic album in other people’s lives, I feel confident enough in its quality to deem it one of the greats in the black metal genre.  Hirilorn’s masterpiece should grace the ears of every extreme metal fan at some point in their life.