PRIPEGAL – Ziemia Gromadzi Prochy

PRIPEGAL – Ziemia Gromadzi Prochy








Origin: Poland
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Eastside Records
Year: 2008

Pripegal is the personal project of Mscislaw, who is also the singer and guitarist of Abusiveness. The band began in 1995 with the ambition to create Slavonic black metal and Bathory being the main influence. Even though the songs were composed earlier, it was 2004 when the debut album “Slavia Antiqua” was out. It was an underground release limited to 300 pieces, offering us average raw pagan black metal.

The new album though is quite different! Mscislaw has paid much more attention to the compositions and a lot of synths are added. Actually I think “Ziemia Gromadzi Prochy” is more a symphonic majestic black metal album, than pagan black. It is a more melodic and technical work, but this kind of music requires much better production. The drums should feel more real and the sound is a bit “drowned”, not having the power it deserves. I guess the budget couldn’t allow something better. Anyway, the reason I review this album is because behind the sound problems there are really great ideas. Amazing and countless epic melodies flow in each song. The excellent use of keyboards and acoustic guitars in combination with the inspired riffs help the band to create an epic majestic black metal album, much better (in music) by the majority of the bands of the genre. They use only brutal vocals, but they are not too raw or extreme in general. Basically it’s a mainstream black metal, but with an underground production. There are some songs that are really excellent and others weaker, but the overall result is much above average.

For me this was a surprising turn in Pripegal’s music that I really welcome. If only the production was better, allowing more people to enjoy their music, things would be much better. Anyway, I hope for sound improvement in the future. The album is released by the Polish label Eastside.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
-

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA – Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA – Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious








Origin: Sweden
Genre: Avant-garde Metal Experimental
Label: Ascendance Records
Year: 2009

Diablo Swing Orchestra (D:S:O) is a very special band from Sweden that was formed in 2003, or according to a “legend” in 1501! This story is revealed in a DVD that comes with the limited version of the album and it is presented as a “real story”. According to the official DVD, there was an orchestra in 1501 in Sweden performing seductive and “divine” music, recruiting many followers and gathering large audience. Their reputation made the mason church accuse them for heresy, Satanism etc. and they “baptized” them the Devil’s Orchestra. They earned more popularity this way, but the hostility of the church was growing continuously. They became fugitives (there were rewards to arrest them) and finally they decided to quit, but not without giving a last unforgettable show! Before this last concert, all members signed a pact that their descendants should reunite the orchestra in 500 years and six envelopes were passed on to family members. The show was a great success with massive sing-along of the crowd and it was talked about for many years. At the end of the concert the 6 members were arrested and sentenced to death by hanging. In 2003 two of the original descendants meet in a music store and after discovering their past they managed to gather all remaining successors and following the instructions they reunited the orchestra!

I don’t know if this is a real story, or an advertising trick, but it’s interesting anyway! Either way the original scores don’t exist (they were destroyed) so the music of the new orchestra is a free interpretation of the old one. D:S:O self-released their debut “The Butcher’s Ballroom” in 2006 gaining very good reviews for their unusual and inspired music and now in the end of 2009 they release their second album “Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious” with Ascendance Records. If you have listened to the first album you will know what to expect. If not, it’s not easy to describe it with words. The band likes to refer to its music as “riot-opera”, but this alone isn’t that helpful. Actually their name fits them perfectly. They really sound like a cursed orchestra that is willing to experiment with every genre of music in order to create a lunatic atmosphere. Opera, classical orchestral music, ballroom music, swing, jazz, rock, hard rock, heavy metal, electronic music, folk music, Russian music, flamenco and many other genres are used in this album (unluckily I don’t have the knowledge to track them all!). The band was influenced by the different music traditions they met on various countries (Russia, Germany, France, Spain and UK) on their tours and they dedicated some songs to these cultures. So there is a great variety on this album by really skilled musicians able to play almost everything in a very tight result.

The production of “Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious” is excellent, one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard. The guitars have a really heavy sound and each riff has amazing “volume” and strength! Guitars are combined with synths, cello, drums, bass, trombone, trumpet, piano, accordion, harmonium, clarinet and choirs in every possible combination. Annlouice’s characteristic female operatic voice has the leading role in vocal lines, where we also find a big variety of male vocals in various styles (operatic, heavy, rock, extreme, etc). The song structures are very complex and innovative and so different from song to song. There are 10 songs in this album and almost 50 minutes of unique music.

It is released in 3 different versions by Ascendance Records: a regular 4-panel digipak, a limited to 2000 pieces 8-panel digipak with a bonus DVD that contains a film with the band’s biography, a video clip and band info and finally a limited to 300 pieces version including the previous CD+DVD, plus a band logo pendant, some posters and stickers. If you are interested in such experimental music and a band with a unique background you better check their music on your own on their official pages, since words are incapable to describe them.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.diabloswing.com
Diablo Swing Orchestra @ Facebook
Diablo Swing Orchestra @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

MÅNEGARM – Nattväsen

MÅNEGARM – Nattväsen








Origin: Sweden
Genre: Folk Black Metal Viking Metal
Label: Regain Records
Year: 2009

The Viking metallers from Sweden are back with their sixth saga “Nattväsen” (Night Creatures). After 14 years of existence and 5 full-length albums Månegarm have definitely built a very strong name. So their 6th album, with a new label again (Regain Records), was highly anticipated.

From the first look at the album you can see the different and unusual (for Månegarm) artwork. Instead of the epic colored drawings by Kris Verwimp (which I prefer), they use this time a Viking symbol with a combination of two strong runes, Gifu and Madr, in a black background without their logo! And if the approach in the artwork is very different, their music hasn’t changed a lot. There is a darker mood in the songs, but the basic characteristics of their music still remain: Folk epic Viking metal with some black / death elements and a mix of grim and clean (somehow wild though) vocals. They still use some traditional instruments and this time violins have a more dominant role.

“Nattväsen” is for sure the most powerful album the band has released up to date, with the best production and most solid sound. Their epic Viking rhythms and the traditional folk scales are combined with some more melancholic melodies this time. So they can “dress” better the night-related pagan themes of the songs, still retaining their folk nature-inspired atmosphere. All nine compositions are in mid-tempo, with few outbursts, very nice melodies and catchy refrains with choir vocals. I would like to comment very positively the work on the violins that offer some magical moments in the songs! There are 9 songs in the album that lasts for 45 minutes and closes with the great epic ballad “Delling”.

Summing up, I believe that “Nattväsen” is a safe investment for all Månegarm fans and all Viking metal fans in general. Great epic songs, with the right “dose” of folk music in order to retain their “weight”, all under a powerful and flawless production. You can get a taste of their new album on the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
Månegarm @ Facebook
Månegarm @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

GRAVELAND – Spears of Heaven

GRAVELAND – Spears of Heaven








Origin: Poland
Genre: Epic Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: No Colours Records
Year: 2009

Graveland is a legendary Polish band that most black metal fans surely know. The personal project of Rob Darken (who has also Lord Wind) is active since 1992 and this is the eleventh full-length album. The band has also released 4 EPs, a couple of split albums as well as many demos. Rob Darken has been very productive all these years releasing something new very often. Graveland begun as a pure raw black metal band, but they have eventually added some epic synths and their music got a more Viking / pagan approach through the years.

Spears of Heaven” won’t surprise Graveland’s fans, because nothing has changed since their previous album “Will Stronger Than Death”: raw epic black metal with an average production that fits the atmosphere of the album. The characteristic synths and the choirs by Atlantean Monumental Choir and Ancient Valkyrian Choir are still there, but not as extended as in some previous works. Both synths and choirs are mainly in the background accompanying the guitars, rather than carrying out the lead melodies. The album has a more raw epic rhythmic approach, being mid-paced most of the time. As always, Darken performs everything on his own and this time the sound (especially in the drums) is much improved. There are seven long songs in this album and all the lyrics are in English, dealing with Viking mythological themes.

The album is once again released by No Colours Records and Rob Darken (with some help of course) did an amazing job in the illustration of the cd. Except for the beautiful cover artwork, the booklet is full of amazing drawings and photos. The album is released in normal jewel case, as well as in a limited to 1000 pieces A5 digipak that I totally recommend. “Spears of Heaven” is a typical album of the band, not their best or their worst, but a good work for sure. It will most probably satisfy their fans, but in my opinion a bit of refreshment could work for Graveland, since there are some signs of repetition. If you have never listened to their music and you like raw epic black metal (ala Bathory) this is a good album to start. You can also visit their official pages on the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.graveland.org
Graveland @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

DRUDKH – Microcosmos

DRUDKH – Microcosmos








Origin: Ukraine
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Season of Mist
Year: 2009

Drudkh is a band that managed to become a “cult” name in pagan black metal scene, despite the fact they were formed only in 2002 and that they never play live! From 2003 to 2007 the Ukrainian band released 6 full-length albums and an EP, all under the label Supernal Music. Their popularity and praising reviews, especially in the underground circles, made them a respectful name, so they signed a contract with Season of Mist! “Microcosmos” is the first album with their new label and their seventh full-length in seven years of existence!

Many might suspect that jumping in such a big label would have an impact on Drudkh sound, leading them to more mainstream paths. Well, I can’t say that they have the same underground atmosphere they had in the beginning, but I believe it has nothing to do with their label. I see a continuous change (progress) in their sound, something that was evident in their previous albums too, especially in “Estrangement”. So actually “Microcosmos” is the natural evolution of their music. They have a more mainstream sound for sure, with a better production and an even more technical approach. Of course don’t expect that you will listen to something totally different. It’ still Drudkh, with their cold pagan black metal, that now has a more progressive and post-rock mood. Some folk elements and instruments are now totally reduced in the intro and outro, but keyboards have returned and acoustic guitars still offer unique tranquil breaks in their songs…

There are 6 songs in this album that lasts for almost 40 minutes. Except the 1-minute intro and outro, the other 4 compositions are all almost 10 minutes each and they move in mid-tempo rhythm. Their sound is dominated by sorrowful melancholic riffs that drag the listener in deep depression. An epic pagan atmosphere is evident especially in the instrumental parts (there are many of them in the songs) of this great album. Their lyrics are still in their native language and judging from the song titles they must be about nature inspired themes, local dark poetry, etc, like in their previous works. Even if it’s not very usual in this genre, Drudkh have some excellent guitar solos in their songs that I have to admit they match perfectly with the rest of the album.

Overall “Microcosmos” is a great album and it couldn’t be different: Drudkh have kept the quality of their music at their high standards and they have worked a lot so that the new elements are totally “absorbed” in their sound! They kept the core and substance of their music and they tried to see it through a new more technical and progressive prism that totally worked for me. I don’t say it’s better than their first masterpieces, but on the other hand I prefer that it’s different. They have already released so many albums that they could easily fall in the trap of repetition. They are not afraid to experiment and to leave the “safe path” of recording a new album based on the recipe of their previous success.

The album is released both in an unlimited digipak version, as well as in a limited to 500 pieces wooden box version. The artwork of this album is as usual a landscape, but for the first time they left their usual orange/yellow/red colors and moved on this blue color that fits perfectly their new sound. The album is released by Season of Mist that will also re-release all their previous albums (some of them are already available). The band had never an official site, no interviews and no photos, never. The change of label won’t affect this. But Season of Mist has now a myspace page dedicated to them, so you can get a taste of this great band.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Drudkh @ Myspace
http://www.season-of-mist.com/bands/drudkh

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

NEFERTUM – Revered Lames

NEFERTUM – Revered Lames








Origin: Italy
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Label: UK Division Records
Year: 2009

Nefertum is a new and rather unknown band from south Italy that has just released its debut album “Revered Lames”. They were formed in 2004 and after 2 demos they decided to record their first full-length. Musically they offer us symphonic black metal influenced by bands like Emperor and Dimmu Borgir, adding of course their own personality.

When it comes to symphonic metal, production is a very important factor and luckily for us Nefertum have done an excellent job on it. Everything sounds perfectly clear and powerful and the band members (like most Italian musicians) are very skilled. Their music is black/death metal with many keyboards, most of the time playing bizarre piano parts adding an “insane” atmosphere in the songs. Of course they often accompany the guitars, but I wouldn’t say that their music is overloaded by synths. On the contrary guitars have a very important and dominant role in the songs’ structure, since they are fully responsible for the “power” of Nefertum’s sound. Melodic and rhythmic riffs combined with synths, create the musical canvas for the enraged brutal vocals to sing their apocalyptic lyrics.

There are some songs that have a more rhythmic epic death metal approach and others where symphonic avant-garde black metal elements are more dominant. There are also some hints of Mediterranean folk elements here and there, but very restricted. The band tries to merge all these influences into a solid epic sound and they have definitely succeeded it. Especially the parts where piano is “orgiastic” are brilliant. My favorite song is the closing title “Lustful Requiem” where Inos sings: “this is my requiem for the modern apocalypse…

“Revered Lames” is released by the label UK Division Records, with a very beautiful cover artwork fitting the band’s music. Since most of you won’t know this band, you could check their songs on myspace and you may discover a new rising force of the genre. Also I think the most easy way to buy this album is directly though the band’s myspace / Facebook pagea, since the distribution isn’t that good yet.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Nefertum @ Myspace
Nefertum @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

IRMINSUL – Irminsul

IRMINSUL – Irminsul








Origin: Sweden
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: Det Germanske Folket
Year: 2009

Irminsul is a new band coming from Sweden that was formed in 2005. Since then, they released two demos “Vinterskalder” in 2006 and “Urberg” in 2007 and now they release their debut album that contains all songs from the demos re-arranged, plus new songs.

Their music is Scandinavian folk pagan metal and they are one of these bands that try to explore their own sound. Irmisnul’s strong card is their beautiful melodies in the vocals. Their music isn’t very extreme and most of the time they move in mid-tempo rhythm. Electric guitars play melodic riffs, while acoustic and bass guitars are very dominant in their sound. They also use violins to carry out most of the folk tunes and there is a nice balance in their sound. Coming to the vocals now, they use growling ones, combining them with very good clean male and female vocals. All songs have very melodic refrains with really beautiful vocal lines with a characteristic Scandinavian folk style. The overall result is very melodic and they belong to the “light” versions of this genre, something that I don’t tell in a negative manner.

I don’t know if they use existing traditional tunes, or if they compose all folk melodies on their own, but either way the result is amazing. A real journey to the Swedish folklore and nature that except for their music it is also described in their lyrics, all in their native language. The production isn’t the best and the band is somewhere between the underground and the mainstream scene, being closer to the second though. Even if their sound isn’t very solid or powerful, they manage to build an epic folk atmosphere in their album that will be enjoyed by most fans of folk metal. If you want to listen to their music you can visit their official pages below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://www.caveofirminsul.se
Irminsul @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ARCANE GRAIL – Arya Marga (Ninefold Path to the Innocence)

ARCANE GRAIL – Arya Marga








Origin: Russia
Genre: Melodic Black Metal Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Musica Production
Year: 2009

This is the second album from the symphonic extreme metal band from Russia, after its debut “Mysteries of the Ancient Charnel” in 2006. The band was formed in 2001 and has been into many line-up changes all these years. Actually, after “Arya Marga” this year, 4 band members were fired (most of them were also on the first album) and now only two of them (Demether and Natalie, both vocalists!) are left in the band…

Anyway, I guess these problems are for them to solve. Coming to the music now, the album is very good and improved a lot since their debut. They play symphonic extreme metal, with a gothic atmosphere and black metal screaming vocals combined with operatic female ones… Well, this mixture isn’t unusual these days, but Arcane Grail do it their personal way and with a powerful and crystal clear sound. Except for the keyboards and piano performed by Anastasia, there are also many guest musicians in cello, viola and violin, enriching the band’s sound with physical instruments. Of course the typical metal instruments are still dominant, but they are accompanied and completed by a thick “natural” symphonic layer.

“Arya Marga” is a concept album that contains nine songs dealing with the ways and actions that lead men to enlightenment, like a contemporary version of Buddhism and Nirvana. The band members though clearly state they are not Buddhists, but they are affected by ancient beliefs and principles. So the general concept of the album can be seen as a rebellion against modern times and a return to diachronic values. Their music is very bombastic and majestic. There are some slower and more melodic parts, where Natalie sings operatic and then the screaming black metal vocals and blasting guitars enter. They use different kinds of growls (some of them by Natalie!!) in a dialogue between them and with the female vocals. This works perfectly, resulting in a powerful, emotional and very variable album. They move from gothic metal to black/death metal, power metal, classical music and opera, combined with mastery in their compositions, so that the album remains very tight and solid.

Arcane Grail have released a really good album that most fans of the genre will appreciate. All “Arya Marga” songs have something different to offer with many innovative melodies and they are very professionally produced and orchestrated. Also, unlike most Russian bands, their lyrics are in English except for a few parts. The album is released again by Musica Productions (like their debut) with a beautiful 20-page booklet, but I don’t know how good distribution they will get. In any case you can visit their official pages for more info and music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://arcanegrail.heavymusic.ru
Arcane Grail @ Myspace
Arcane Grail @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews