EMQ’s With Norrsköld

Norrsköld Logo

EMQ’s With Norrsköld

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with Swedish Melodic Black/ Folk Metal band, Norrsköld. Huge thanks to guitarist Henrik Bodin-Sköld for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Henrik Bodin-Sköld, guitarist and main songwriter in Norrsköld. Norrsköld started out pretty much as a studio project by me in 2013. The overall ambition of the music was to combine “the best of worlds” considering melodic metal and black metal. A large part of the inspiration for the song writing came from early 90’s Scandinavian acts like Dimmu Borgir, Dissection, Opeth and In Flames. So, the aim of Norrsköld has been “What would it sound like if all of these bands would join forces and create something with a modern production?” And we write music that somewhat corresponds to this. Norrsköld had a live performance era between 2015-2018, including European tours with Amon Amarth and Nightrage etc. Nowadays, the main focus is once again on creating and recording music as a studio project. However, live shows in the future are not an impossibility.

How did you come up with your band name?

It’s basically a wordplay with my origin (Norrland) and my family name (Sköld). Initially it felt like a natural name for the one-man studio project it all began with.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

Me, I’m from the northern part of Sweden (Hälsingland region). Most of the other guys / girls that have been / are a part of the project comes from the west coast of Sweden (Gothenburg primarily).

What is your latest release?

Three singles have been released in October / November, prior to the release of our new album Prisma Aeternus (release date on Spotify and similar platforms 2022-11-07). Music videos have also been produced for two of these singles, available on our official Youtube channel.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Metal wise I’d say Dissection, Opeth and early In Flames. In general, most influence has been taken from soundtracks to movies and video games (an underrated source of inspiration).

What first got you into music?

I stumbled upon a keyboard at a very early age (4 or so). Then we have this thing in Sweden called municipal music education, where every kid gets the chance to get educated in one or several instruments “for free” during the primary school years. I believe this is one of the explanations that Sweden has produced so many acknowledged musicians throughout the years.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

It would be really interesting to record / perform an album together with a grand orchestra in a great concert hall sometime. To really explore the soundscape in all dimensions. Would also be a cool thing to co-arrange a song or two together with the Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds. 

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I’d say we would fit pretty good in the Wacken context. It just feels like a natural habitat for our kind of melodic death / black metal hybrid.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Once after a gig, a guy comes up to the stage giving me a hand drawn portrait of myself, which he’d been creating with crayons during the concert. Honouring but unexpected.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Melodic metal can still be interesting! If you’re into death / black metal and want a touch of Scandinavian sounding melodies, Norrsköld should definitely be considered.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Cliff Burton. Even though he accomplished great things while being alive, I think he had a lot left in the tank in terms of composing REALLY interesting and harmonic metal. A truly open-minded musician.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

Having the gift of expressing oneself in not only words, but also in tones. I believe some feelings and moods are not possible to express in words, why composing is such a unique medium for this.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Well, make better room for up-and-coming artists on the greater platforms / venues. There’s a great need of “refreshment” especially in the metal scene. There are SO many exceptionally good bands out there that get stuck in the struggle of actually reaching out. 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“Morningrise” by Opeth. A timeless classic. Delicate mix of nature romanticism, death metal aggressiveness and a haunting melancholy created with almost weeping guitars. Mikael Åkerfeldts finest.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Soundwise it’s definitely vinyl. Although in order to find an artist that actually deserves to be listened to on vinyl, download / streaming services are gold for discovering new (and not necessarily world famous) artists.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Must have been at arenas in St. Petersburg and Moscow, together with Amon Amarth. There was an overwhelming response from the audience, especially in Moscow.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Myself, I actually work in the environmental business, with focus on climate change. It’s a pretty decent work for being a “non-artsy” one. As a main alternative, I’d say being a full time author.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Not to unexpected maybe, but I would arrange a “composer’s dinner” with representatives from different genres. I’d really like to hear the stories behind how come up with their own special kind of music, and generally listen to how they create songs. I’d invite Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and, resurrected from their graves, Cliff Burton (Metallica) and Jon Nödtveit (Dissection). I imagine quite interesting discussions around the table. And a lot of drinks.

What’s next for the band?

Heavy focus on promoting the new album and videos. Maybe do some playthroughs. Will also continue to write and perfect new music during next year. 

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Mostly Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. Check out our channels / accounts!

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Definitely a bis-cake hybrid.

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thank YOU for taking the time to notice our music! Just want to recommend everyone to give our music a listen, especially if you’re into ultra-melodic and catchy black / death metal music.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Arallu – Death Covenant

Death Covenant Album Cover Art

Arallu – Death Covenant
Hammerheart Records
Release Date: 11/11/22
Running Time: 38:00 
Review by Paul Hutchings 
7/10

The world of metal continues to expand. This offering is from a band who’ve been plying their trade for 25 years. I’d never heard of them!! Arallu are a five-piece black/death metal band who come from the urban Israeli settlement called Ma’ale Adummim. Named after the underworld kingdom in Mesopotamian mythology, they have been a constant in the underground extreme metal with six previous albums to their name. 

Arallu combine several traditional Eastern sounds with their explosive metal, infusing ancient Sumerian and Middle Eastern instruments with blast beats, tremolo riffing and gruff vocals. At times the music is blisteringly aggressive, at other times eerily haunting. It’s a package that oozes chaotic originality and brings a blistering assault on the aural senses. 

The album opens with deep, Eastern chants and a drum that beats in the deep. The tension builds rapidly, before the band kick into the opening song, ‘Prophecy of the Dead’. It’s instantly noticeable that Arullu aren’t your run of the mill extreme band. Tribal drum patterns, use of saz and darbuka and a blend of brutality and melodic passages make it a mystifying introduction to these veterans of the Israeli metal scene. 

The music here is a real cacophony of noise, and at times it’s a challenge to pick out all the instruments which on occasion blend into a sheer wall of punishment. It’s when the band drift towards the more intricate and complex passages of work where they really shine. ‘Under Jerusalem’s Temple Mount’ for example, has a real Eastern flavour but still reverberates to double bass kicks and ferocious screams. Things improve when the vocals move to more emotive cleans, for the constant screams and roars are a bit overbearing. 

‘Satanic Spirit’ is a struggle though. It’s a sluggish song that feels like too much has been poured into the same pot. And this is one of the challenges on this album – the constant addition of instruments that at times make things just a little messy in the audio field.  When they move to more menacing and threatening styles, such as on ‘Mystical Sultan’, things improve. 

Ultimately, whether this album will be of interest will depend on several factors. The time signatures are unpredictable, irregular and at times confusing. Yet there are atmospheric elements rarely heard from other bands. ‘Empire of Salt’ moves from crushing death metal to Middle Eastern creativity in an instant. The vocals include chanting, deep rich baritones, and choral parts as well as vicious screaming. It’s a bit of a smorgasbord of extreme delights. With plenty of high-speed energy, the album also has an intensely raw feel. It’s certainly one that I spent some time absorbing. It’s probably the best way to experience a band that have total credit for maintaining longevity. 

‘Empire Of Salt’ Official Audio

TRACKLISTING:
01. End Ov Wars (Tikva) 
02. Prophecy of the Dead 
03. Ruler of the Seven Worlds 
04. Under Jerusalem’s temple Mount 
05. Satanic Spirit 
06. Mystical Sultan 
07. Desert Shadow will Rise 
08. Humanity Death Embrace 
09. Empire of Salt 
10. Skeletons Battlefield

LINE-UP:
Butchered – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Eylon B – Strings, Backing vocals, Percussion
Ofek Ominus – Guitars
Richard – Drums, Percussion

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Epectase – Nécroses

Nécroses Album Cover Art

Epectase – Nécroses
Frozen Records
Release Date: 18/11/22
Running Time: 44:24
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Having such a misanthropic personality as your favourite ersatz rock hack does, it really does make you realise the value of friends who look beyond the impenetrable wall of sarcasm and withering hate you publicly display. They are few in number, but very dear to me and understand that sometimes there will be years between communications, yet when you actually do get in touch it is like you have never been separated. These are precious times indeed and it has been a while since I wrote to you all out there about the importance of friends – or, as I like to characterize them, the people who you choose to be your extended family simply because they are as fucked in the head as you are. Whatever the reason, friends are a resource beyond value, and true friends will always be a bulwark (rhymes with bollock. I am SUCH a child) behind which you can rest or recuperate or fight. However, you should not let yourself be fucked with. A true friend will never fuck with you, or if they are, they are joking. They will not willingly hurt or betray you. Hence, I choose to keep my circle small and the majority of my thoughts to myself. Life is easier that way. Hell, this is rather more introspective than usual and also rather more serious and we can’t be having that, can we?

Tits. Fanny. Massive bouncy bollocks. Flange. Mudflaps. Gristle missile. One-eyed trouser snake. Corned beef curtains. Baby gravy. Man fat. Punched lasagna. 

That feels better.

If you regularly read the stream of consciousness wank I write, you’ll know I am something of a champion of the French Metal scene (it has given us P.H.O.B.O.S, Rostres, and the clearly dangerously unstable Esoctrilihum among others) having lived there and found it an extremely young yet vibrant scene, chock full of grand folk and superb, out-there music that has a curiously un-Gallic propensity for exploration of styles and for the amalgamation of same and it is with considerable interest I bring you my latest thoughts about the latest band from those shores that I am currently listening to. Yes, on the spinning splatter platter today I am experiencing the stylings of Epectase. I say experiencing because the nearest translation I can think of and having, because my French is serviceable but by no means fluent, consulted a couple of online translators, Epectase appears to mean orgasm or climax. Unless it is Romanian, then it means expected. I’m not sure where this sentence is going, so I am going to start a new paragraph and forget this one ever existed.

The album (which has four tracks of very considerable runtimes) opens with ‘V.I.T.R.I.O.L’, which I believe is NOT a paean to the grizzled frontman of Anaal Nathrakh, and it is a thing of shapeshifting wonder, as it starts and flows with simple Krautrock electronics and builds ever so slowly into the kind of technical Black Metal that Emperor did so well in the latter stages of their career, mixed with a kind of martial Industrial tempo, vocalist Avitus (probably not his real name) beginning with an engaging, slightly accented croon over said swishy, swoopy electronics (not unlike the kind of atmosphere DikMik used to evoke with his electronics in Hawkwind, it has to be said) and building up to the kind of razor-throated screaming that sends armadas of bats crashing into trees because it has fucked up their radar… 

This is a feature of the whole record and the utter confusion that it wreaks upon the listener is pretty fucking exciting, as you have no bloody idea where the music is going next. Album closer ‘Necrose’ itself takes you from Doom, to Shoegaze, to Black Metal (both orchestral and primal), to Mr. Bungle-esque weird to fuck-knows-where-else but it all flows. It is not a disjointed mess which just crashes influences into each other and hopes the wreckage is still driveable, it’s analogous to an exquisitely crafted hot rod with Chevy LS6 V8 power on the chassis of a 1923 Model A Ford, driving through a 1980’s Buick back axle. It is the sum of the parts that makes it complete, not the parts themselves.

The second song is called ‘Confusion’ and opens with a movement of quite splendid technical Black Metal. Avitus flays his throat in classic fashion, and you think you know exactly how this song is going to flow, don’t you? A straight-ahead blast through the frosty, winter forests of BM appears to be on the cards with the drummer dying of fatigue because of the speed of his double bass drumming? That’s the first four minutes or so of this THIRTEEN-minute piece taken care of… A kind of swishing, swooping electronic backbone then takes over some very intricate, almost Baron Crane-like guitar work and the tempo slows down for a bit of light on the other side of the black, until six minutes have passed and then Epectase hit the button marked “Math Metal” and Avitus howls his little French heart out over hyper complicated guitar work, then there’s a little solo and then we slow down to Drone speed and baritone vocals. Then the band starts channelling classic Darkthrone, but with a viable production. We are still only nine minutes in and then the tempo slowly picks up the pace until the drummer starts with the double bass drumming again. It’s so fucking eclectic and Epectase have managed to totally fuck up my album of the year list. This is the fourth time a band has done this to me in the past two months and I am becoming aggrieved about it.

Considering that this album is the result of COVID lockdown recordings, the production job is actually reasonably good. It has a nasty, waspish, metallic quality that suits the razor wire music pretty well, even though the drums sound like they were recorded on some kind of Radio Shack battery operated tape recorder and sent through the post on a C-90 cassette to the studio to be mastered and mixed. However, this is a minor gripe as a certain amount of DIY ethos makes a proper sounding Black Metal record, and at least I can hear the drums and the tinware which is not normally the case on BM albums. The vocals are clear and savage and easily discerned among the absolute tumult of sound that Epectase creates, and all in all it’s a decent job that also rewards repeated listens because there are some phenomenal little flourishes and touches in the music that are not apparent on your first run through. I don’t mind telling you, friends, this is the first Black Metal record I have listened to in months that has excited me, as opposed to just merely finding it enjoyable.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan) awards Epectase 10/10 for a jaw-droppingly immense album that is epic in every sense of the word.

TRACKLISTING:
01. V.I.T.R.I.O.L
02. CONFUSION
03. DÉSILLUSION
04. NÉCROSE

LINE-UP:
Avitus – Vocals
Vague – All instruments, composition, recording, mixing

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Black Anvil – Regenesis

Regenesis Album Cover Art

Black Anvil – Regenesis
Season of Mist
Release Date: 04/11/22
Running Time: 50:05
Review by Rick Eaglestone
7/10

Six years after their last album, New York’s Black Anvil look to progress in their ever-evolving sound with their latest studio album “Regenesis”.

Opening the album is easily a soundscape that would not have been misplaced in the most recent Hellraiser adaptation. ‘The Gates Of Brass’ drips woefully before hooks are unleased at full force with ‘In Two’ and that familiarity is back like no time has passed at all.

Highlight track of the album appears in the form of ‘The Bet’. It’s laden with fury and bile that sweeps into a slower, brooding atmosphere and early Swallow The Sun doom tinges. ‘8-bit Terror’ demonstrates that the band aren’t afraid to spread their wings – although as a kid who grew up with the C64 then Megadrives I’m secretly disappointed that the track isn’t in the format the title suggests. 

Moving up a gear into unadulterated black metal elements again, ‘29’ sneaks in some blackened death style with riffs and chant-like vocals that are paired well with the melodic ballad approach taken with ‘Silver Steele’.

What I am particularly enjoying is the balance of styles that are peppered throughout the album as although there are the more experimental soundscapes being explored the band keep USBM at their core. The almost pastoral End Of Days sample mid-way through only adds to the bleak aesthetic of the album.

Almost going full November’s Doom into ‘Echoes Tapestry’ took me by surprise but it was only a smokescreen for the familiar modern black metal sound that awaits. Another short soundscape ‘VV’ swirls with its electronic drum patterns into ‘NYC Nightmares’ which feature Danny ‘Ezec’ Diablo on guest vocal duties.

The album is concluded with ‘Grant Us His Love’ and title track ‘Regenesis’ which confirms the bands most existential offering to date.

‘8 Bit Terror’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Gates of Brass
02. In Two
03. The Bet
04. 8-bit Terror
05. 29
06. Silver Steele
07. Castrum Doloris
08. Echoes Tapestry
09. VV
10. NYC Nightmares
11. Grant Us His Love
12. Regenesis

LINE-UP:
R – Drums
P – Bass/Vocals
J – Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rick Eaglestone and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Aurora Borealis – Prophecy is the Mould in Which History is Poured

Prophecy is the Mould in Which History is Poured Album Cover Art

Aurora Borealis – Prophecy is the Mould in Which History is Poured
Hammerheart Records
Release Date: 04/11/22
Running Time: 44:00 
Review by Paul Hutchings
7/10

They have plied their trade for nearly 30 years and released seven full length albums over that time. Propelled by founding member Ron Vento, whose song writing has been a key part of the band since the earliest days, the current line-up of Aurora Borealis sees new blood in bassist Eddie Rossi who joins powerhouse drummer Mark Green and Vento in the ultimate black/death metal trio. 

Four years have passed since “Apokalupsis” but there is no respite from the relentless combination that Aurora Borealis bring to the table. With their lyrics focusing on a range of topics from Sci-Fi to fantasy to earth creationism, it’s the blend of aggressive blackened death metal that really scorches the earth. Frantic blast beats, screaming lead work that lacerates the skin, and Vento’s black metal screeching combine to bring a sound that offers no half measures. 

Eschewing the more mainstream European melodic sound commonly associated with the style that Aurora Borealis deliver, there’s more of an American flavour to the band’s delivery, unsurprising when you learn they originate from Waldorf, Maryland. There is variation within the album, with the intro ‘From the Abyss, Reborn’ and ‘Thralldomnation’ both featuring audio clips blended with eerie effects. 

Most of “Prophecy …” focuses on face blistering aural assault and there is savageness lurking in every corner. Opening track ‘God Hunter’ is visceral, violent, and crushing. The sweeping elements of ‘Serenade of Designations’ and the feral abuse of ‘Hymn to the Archfiend’ all vary in style yet retain a nastiness that is the musical equivalent of a rusty can slicing flesh. It’s punishing stuff, although not without its merits. Vento’s vocal style isn’t going to be for all, but if you can tolerate or accept it, there’s plenty of intricate and technical musicianship which is at times superb. By the time you reach ‘Cosmic Control Mechanism’ you’ll be fully converted to a sound that has evolved over time into something quite unique. 

‘Founding Fathers Of Deception’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. From the Abyss, Reborn 
02. God Hunter 
03. The House of Nimrod 
04. Ephemeral Rise
05. Serenade of Designations 
06. Thralldomnation 
07. Founding Fathers of Deception 
08. Khafres Mark 
09. Awakening 
10. Hymn to the Archfiend 
11. Cosmic Control Mechanism

LINE-UP:
Ron Vento – Guitar, Vocals, Programming
Mark Green – Drums
Eddie Rossi – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

DeathSlaüghter – Passing Through the Valley of Sodomites

Passing Through the Valley of Sodomites Album Cover Art

DeathSlaüghter – Passing Through the Valley of Sodomites
Self-Released
Release Date: 03/08/2022
Running Time: 49:28
Review by Victor Augusto 
7.5/10

Welcome to one more lyrical adventure through my useless writing about this musical world that we all love. Today, my adventure will be with for a specific genre that I haven’t reviewed for years. By the way, this is my first time exploring it for Ever Metal, but I confess that it was good to flee from the usual music and sonority that I always write about. Considering that I am not the most expert person on the team where Black Metal is the subject, I will start my words with an apology in case I commit any mistake or misunderstanding over my interpretation. 

But before I start, I must mention a few details that helped to create my impressions about this material. DeathSlaüghter is a considerably young band from Brazil, but this isn’t their first full-released album. Let me remind all readers of Ever Metal that Black Metal is not a popular style over here in Brasil, despite the fact that we had great names such as Sarcófago in the past. Other genres became bigger both here and globally – after we had important names like Sepultura for Thrash and Krisiun for Death Metal, but Black Metal is still growing in our land, although I now see many bands appearing over the last few years. 

Another important detail about the band in question is that they consider their style as “Occult Metal” and for me, it opens space for more elements that could be considered blasphemy for fans of the Black Metal genre. First, they have a considerably good standard of production for this genre and style. It is not the best recording sound, but we can listen to the entire album without going crazy with that creepy sound you get from some of these bands. 

Maybe for the composition process, they enjoyed the kind of freedom to add things like solos, as we can hear ‘Karteria’. Right after, on ‘Bestiality’, we even have passages of keyboards that more reminded me of the old and good Hammond sound than a typical symphonic Black Metal keyboard sounds that appeared after the year 2000. The bass sound is very present and loud in the mix as well, which also escapes from the pattern of Heavy Metal in general – and it also has good moments of highlight like in ‘For the Glory of Roma and Sparta’.

As I said before, it looks like freedom is the key for them, because after the guitar intro on ‘Receptacle’, this song flows with a soft and even dancing cadence, like Punk Rock played in hell, with dark moments of screaming. By the way, “hell” and all other common concept words from this genre don’t appear a lot here and the subjects are about dark themes overall. One interesting thing is the absence of vocals. I mean, it’s not an instrumental album, but you can hear passages more like narration or whispers, but not so much of the screamed vocals. When we have do these screams, they are very hidden among the instruments. 

Considering that they offered a reasonably good production quality, as I’ve already mentioned, my impression is that the band really wanted to have this sound and it is a positive aspect for them when we think of a group to create their own identity. For sure it is not my favorite genre, but if they achieved their musical purpose, it is what matters.

“Passing Through the Valley of Sodomites” is dark and heavy as they want to sound inside the genre of Occult Metal. The most important is that they have offered something with a really good level of energy and the proof of it is the closing track ‘My Descendants Will Kill Your’. They also offered material that non-lovers of Black Metal can listen to entirely. 

Good job!

DeathSlaüghter: “Passing Through The Valley of The Sodomites” Full Album: 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Passing Through the Valley of the Sodomites
02. Karteria
03. Bestiality
04. Serpent That Becomes the Dragon
05. For the Glory of Roma and Sparta
06. Receptacle
07. My Descendants Will Kill Your

LINE-UP:

Count Demönlust – Guitars, Bass and Vocals
Truesodomizer – Leads and Keyboards
Rudimentary Light – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Blackbraid – Blackbraid I

Blackbraid I Album Cover Art

Blackbraid – Blackbraid I
Self-Released
Release Date: 26/08/22
Running Time: 36:29
Review By Laura Barnes
9/10

I was supposed to review this album in late August when it was initially released, and for once I am grateful for my poor time management skills. Perhaps this is somewhat elitist of me, but I believe that Black Metal is best enjoyed under the browning shroud of autumn. Winter, of course, would be far too on the nose, and summer practically demands that you blast butt rock in your backyard. Autumn is just right. And “Blackbraid I” is the perfect autumn album. 

I don’t mean this in a purely aesthetic sense, either, but an emotional one. Just like autumn, “Blackbraid I” offers both frost and warmth. It provides reflection upon the past and dread and hope towards the future. On a lyrical level, this album pays keen attention to the vastness of nature. Blackbraid lead you through forests and fields and across water and sky. Of course, every seasoned Black Metal fan will know that the sublime and inescapable power of nature is one of the most significant themes of the genre (see: the infinite number of DSBM records with dead trees on the cover), but Blackbraid’s focus on the natural world extends beyond genre convention and becomes something that feels far more personal. As the guitars sweep you up in a tornado-like onslaught, third track ‘Sacandaga’ opens with:

‘Golden sunsets whisper
Pastel painted skies
Fading lights embrace
Hills of endless pine’. 

Writing lyrics this beautiful and poetic requires more than just a quick glance out of your window – it demonstrates a lived experience of going outside and staring up at the dusk sky. 

It comes as no surprise, then, that “Blackbraid I” was inspired by the mountainous Adirondack region, a place rich with Indigenous history. For Blackbraid’s frontman (or perhaps I should say ‘everythingman’ – it is a one-man project, after all) Sgah’gahsowáh, the history and experiences of Indigenous communities are an essential part of Blackbraid’s songwriting. On Bandcamp, they have listed themselves as Indigenous Black Metal. With this in mind, tracks like ‘Barefoot Ghost Dance on Blood Soaked Soil’ leave an emotive mark that will no doubt remain with you for some time. This is also where the album reaches its heaviest point as it delivers some good ol’ fashioned, meat-and-potatoes Black Metal that fits neatly in the space between my Wayfarer and Panopticon records. 

Also worthy of mention here are the instrumental tracks. ‘As The Creek Flows Softly By’ and ‘Warm Wind Whispering Softly Through Hemlock At Dusk’ are perfect atmosphere setters. With some beautiful clean melodies, mournful riffs, and traditional flutes, these tracks provide a welcome respite from the otherwise mountain-heavy metal and makes your hair stand on end in the process. The result is an album that feels cohesive and finished. Despite its heaviness, “Blackbraid I” can easily be listened to in one sitting, which can be a rarity for albums of this nature. The fact that Blackbraid has managed to achieve this in a debut album is a testament to Sgah’gahsowáh’s songwriting precision.

These next few months are about to grow darker. Wetter. Colder. As you enjoy the last of the brightness that the cold sun throws your way, stick this album on. Perhaps it will make the transition that bit easier. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. The River of Time Flows Through Me
02. As The Creek Flows Softly By
03. Sacandaga
04. Barefoot Ghost Dance on Bloodsoaked Soil
05. Warm Wind Whispering Softly Through Hemlock at Dusk
06. Prying Open The Jaws of Eternity

LINE-UP:
Sgah’gahsowáh – Everything

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ellende – Ellenbogengesellschaft

Ellenbogengesellschaft Album Cover Art

Ellende – Ellenbogengesellschaft
AOP Records
Release Date: 30/09/2022
Running Time: 48:49 
Review by Richard Oliver
8/10

For album titles which are a mouthful, then Ellenbogengesellschaft has to take some sort of award. Translating to “Elbow Society”, it is the fourth album from Austrian one-man atmospheric Black Metal band Ellende. Ellende is the project of L.G. who writes and performs all music bar the live drums, which are on this occasion handled by session drummer P.F.

Ellende definitely fall into the camp of what can be termed Post-Black Metal which merges an atmospheric Black Metal sound with elements of Post-Rock. It is an established and popular sound with Ellende – being one of the most popular artists in the sub-genre, alongside bands such as Harakiri For The Sky, Deafheaven, Ghost Bath and Møl amongst others. What we get on Ellenbogengesellschaft is the fury of Black Metal filtered through a melancholic and introspective lens with strong and sullen melodies, a strong emotional core and deep atmospheric passages. 

This is dark and emotionally charged music which wears its heart on its sleeve, conveying feelings of anguish, despair and despondency but channelling it into a furious Black Metal assault. Songs such as ‘Hand Auf Herz’, ‘Freier Fall’ and ‘Ruhelos’ (which also features J.J. from fellow countrymen Harakiri For The Sky on guest vocals) mix that rage, sorrow and helplessness in stunning fashion. ‘Someday’, although with some heavy moments, leans towards Ellende’s more tender side and album closer ‘Verletzlich’ reaches an emotional crescendo with some stunning guitar melodies.

“Ellenbogengesellschaft“ is a beautiful Post-Black Metal release. Musically it is stunning, with fantastic guitar work and gorgeous melancholic melody mixed with primal fury. The vocals are a mix of tortured and anguished screams but there is also the inclusion of some clean vocals and some absolutely gorgeous choral vocals which are used to stunning effect. If you like extreme music which isn’t afraid to show vulnerable human emotion, then Ellende are a band you need to hear and “Ellenbogengesellschaft” is an album you should definitely be giving a spin.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ich Bin
02. Unsterblich
03. Ruhelos
04. Hand Auf Herz
05. Someday
06. Freier Fall
07. Abschied
08. Verletzlich

LINE-UP:
L.G. (Vocals, Choirs, Guitars, Bass, Piano, Synths, Samples, Ambience)

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Oliver and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Gaerea – Mirage

Mirage Album Cover Art

Gaerea – Mirage
Season Of Mist
Release Date: 23/09/2022
Running Time: 01:00:46 
Review by Richard Oliver
9/10

Gaerea are certainly a band that have turned heads in the past couple of years. The anonymous Portuguese Black Metal band released their second album “Limbo” in 2020 to almost universal acclaim, but the band like the rest of us were stuck in lockdown and unable to tour and promote their newly released album. Wisely the band instead went into writing mode and Covid afforded the time to create the best album they could. The result is MIrage and it is no exaggeration to say that this is the band’s finest work yet.

Gaerea don’t stick to one branch on the twisted gnarl that is the Black Metal tree, instead taking the gnarly ferocity of ‘true’ Black Metal, adding in the darkness of Atmospheric Black Metal, the musicality of Melodic Black Metal and blending it altogether with harrowed melancholy and emotion. It is a mix that is absolutely brought to perfection on Mirage across nine songs of Black Metal majesty. 

The album opens in low key style with ‘Memoir’ which is lots of atmosphere, slow build up and scene setting before the band unleash their power in blistering style. But it is nothing compared to what is to come, as ‘Salve’ is the band at their most ferocious and probably the most intense song Gaerea have done to date. As the album progresses you get more songs which match atmosphere and emotion with blistering Black Metal aggression such as ‘Deluge’ and ‘Mantle’ whilst ‘Arson’ and ‘Laude’ have a far more melancholic and tormented feel to them, still retaining the raw power of the band but with harrowing and distraught melodies running throughout the songs. The performances from the band are breath-taking with amazing guitar work, incredible drumming and some powerful tormented vocals. It all comes together with an amazing production job and stunning mix proving that Black Metal sounding good on record is not a crime against the genre.

Mirage is a breath-taking album which is astonishingly violent and heavy, whilst also being very emotional and atmospheric – and Gaerea seemed to have found the perfect mix of these sounds. Black Metal in 2022 is in very capable hands and with bands such as Gaerea, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Wiegedood and Uada the future of the genre is very promising indeed with these bands showing that Black Metal can explore other avenues, whilst remaining true to its core sound. Mirage is simply one of the must hear releases of 2022.

‘Salve’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Memoir
02. Salve
03. Deluge
04. Arson
05. Ebb
06. Mirage
07. Mantle
08. Laude
09. Dormant (Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:

Anonymous

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Oliver and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Locrian – New Catastrophism

New Catastrophism Album Cover Art

Locrian – New Catastrophism
Profound Lore
Release Date: 12/08/22
Running Time: 35:18
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Greetings, my dear friends. It is I, Dark Juan and I am seated before the Doom Pooter and writing this epistle to you before midday. This is a rare and precious thing so treasure it, because normally Dark Juan doesn’t rise before this time, but for some unaccountable reason was compelled to rise from his slumber and stagger downstairs, giant Sports Direct mug full of tea in hand, to tell you about some music he is listening to. Kinda like the hundreds of other times I have done this, with varying degrees of sobriety, throughout the past five years or so of my attempting to leverage a limited talent for writing into a paid career in music journalism, and my abject failure in that worthy goal. Perhaps I should stop haranguing Metal Hammer for only ever talking about Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and AC/DC, and Kerrang! for their never-ending love of pop-punk and fucking Paramore. I can picture collective circle jerks in the editorial office there every time Hayley Williams releases a new photoset…

What the fuck is wrong with my imagination? I can clearly see all the senior editors doing the biscuit game, hunched around a laptop showing Hayley in varying states of deshabille, shoulders jerking spasmodically while the poor intern tries their level best to interest the senior staff in a cup of tea or coffee or anything to stop the pig-like grunting and sweaty, pistoning pumping… 

There’s a reason for restraining orders and why I am kept under lock and key, I suppose. As well as why I am not a real music journo. [And you should have seen it before proof-reading – ED]

The current soundtrack for the endless, blood-soaked, sexually depraved horror film that is Dark Juan’s normal internal state is the first release in seven years from exploratory and experimental Chicago trio Locrian. To listen to Locrian is not to just have music in your ears, it is a sublime and immersive experience, as this band does not play music in the classic sense of the word. Oh no. Locrian are slow, geologically slow, the kind of slow that takes epochs to enact change and this is exactly what Dark Juan needed to hear right now.

Locrian effortlessly straddles the line between Experimental music and Metal. The soundscapes are extraordinarily dense and solid and they can be skeleton-powderingly heavy without ever approaching the kind of structure that a Metal song does, what with all their tiresome verses and choruses and lyrics and whatnot. Locrian don’t write songs, they write experiences… 

You know you’re on to something good when the first three songs of an album take up thirty minutes of the runtime. “New Catastrophism” opens with the immersive and colossal ‘Mortichnia’, being an hypnotic ten-minute epic rendition of the sounds that continental shelves make when they grind against each other. One can, when one’s eyes are closed, picture rock splitting and shearing as immense, planet-sized forces grind it against another continent, fracturing it open and allowing the white-hot magma within to bleed out into the world, layer upon layer building as it rapidly cools in the ocean until a new island forms. Then this new island is torn apart again, formed and reformed into twisted new shapes as continental landmasses smash into each other again and again and grind endlessly at each other’s edge before the focus of the music pans out, and you are one of the crew of a survey vessel in orbit, watching this violent planetary assault upon its own meat play out in excruciatingly slow real time. Shockingly dystopian, yet also curiously creative as something new is birthed from the ashes of the old.

‘The Glare Is Everywhere And Nowhere Our Shadow’ also has a sense of scale that is planetary in nature – but (to my fevered imagination anyway) conjures up a claustrophobic feeling as if you are desperately trying to escape the clutches of some kind of maniac having been drugged so your reaction time and sense of space and touch are curiously detached, yet you can still hear and feel but with a three second delay. Your hands in front of your face are fuzzy at the edges, lacking definition and clarity and appear to be detached from the ends of your arms as you stagger down liminal concrete stairways lit by buzzing, flickering neon lights with the sound of your blood pounding ever louder in your ears as you struggle to effectively place one foot in front of the other and MOVE… yet you inevitably start to succumb to the numbness and the narcotic and collapse helpless and panicking and afraid for your life on a landing as you hear the footsteps and the breathing coming ever closer until you black out…

And this sort of black thinking is what Locrian want to invoke. ‘Incomplete Map Of Voids’ builds from a plodding, ponderous drone ever so slowly into a megalithic explosion of sound, underpinned by a simple guitar motif that carries the whole composition throughout – in fact, in order to explain it, imagine Boards of Canada crossed with Deftones and Swans. Dissonance, Ambient sound, Metal, Drone, Post-Rock and Shoegaze all collide in a kaleidoscopic whirl of colour and stereoscopic imagery, still and quiet when you first look but then you discern the black moving through the colour, the black ever increasing and moving more quickly as time passes until only obsidian is left.

In short, Locrian are the curiously emotional soundtrack to universal dystopia. It is the sound of urban and environmental decay on planetary scales, a sonic equivalent to the three-body problem and the musical accompaniment to the endless cycle of birth / death / rebirth that powers universes, from the smallest organisms to the vast nurseries of stars.

Gets you thinking, doesn’t it? To an individual part of your microbiome, a single microscopic organism, you are a self-contained universe beyond any sense of scale. To us, the whole sky is a universe. To the stars, interstellar space is a universe. To light, everything there has ever been and ever will be is the universe.

Goddammit, Locrian, I am in no fit state to ponder these existential questions!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is now also thinking of Hayley Williams in an attempt to get his head back out of the clouds and awards Locrian 10/10 for an album that is huge in sound and execution, but might only find a limited audience because it is not metal in the traditional sense, but it is as Metal as Metal could possibly be in the scale and disaster their music evokes. Nevertheless, I absolutely fucking love this record and this band.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Mortichnia
02. The Glare Is Everywhere And Nowhere Our Shadow
03. Incomplete Map Of Voids
04. Cenotaph To The Final Glacier

LINEUP:
Terence Hannum – Synthesizers, vocals, tape loops 
André Foisy – Guitars, electronics 
Steven Hess – Drums, electronics

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.