VALKNACHT – When the Might of the Storm Becomes Mine

VALKNACHT – When the Might of the Storm Becomes Mine








Origin: Canada
Genre: Epic Black Metal Folk Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Les Productions Hérétiques
Year: 2009

Valknacht is a new band from Canada (Québec), formed in 2005 by the main composer and frontman of the band Thorleif. After 4 years they managed to release their debut album “When the Might of the Storm Becomes Mine” by the label Les Productions Hérétiques.

Like many other new bands from this area, Valknacht play epic pagan black metal and they are very good at it. Bathory is their main influence, but they have also a personal style, especially after the first songs. The album begins as a typical mid-tempo epic black metal album, with the classical riffing and the synths in the background and it goes like this for the first 3 songs. After that, for the last 3 songs their music changes and is enriched by the flutes and female vocals of Vervandi, something that works in favor of the band. I don’t know if the songs were written in different periods, but I prefer the second part of the album, that is also bigger in duration. Another interesting thing is that the first songs are in English, while the rest in the French language!

There are 3 long songs in the album (two of them over 11 minutes each), so the album is a full-length, even though it has only 6 tracks. The production isn’t the best, but it’s above average for an underground production. You can find many good ideas in the songs and some very epic moments in the keyboards. There also some indifferent parts in the songs that the band has to avoid in the future, since in this album they don’t seem to be equally good in all the different styles they play. On the contrary, when the combine black metal vocals and aggressive fast guitars with flutes and female vocals, they compose some excellent melodies. Of course, since I like variety in music, I don’t suggest to “limit” their music, but to improve their weaker parts. “When the Might of the Storm Becomes Mine” is still a very good album, and all the “criticism” is just because the band seems able for much better things, if they come up with a more solid songwriting.

Their lyrics deal with German / Scandinavian mythology, nature and history. For all those who search for new decent bands in the underground epic pagan folk black metal scene, Valknacht is a nice choice. Of course you can listen to some of their songs on their Facebook and myspace pages.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Valknacht @ Facebook
Valknacht @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FINSTERFORST – …zum Tode Hin

FINSTERFORST - …zum Tode Hin








Origin: Germany
Genre: Epic Black Metal Folk Black Metal
Label: Einheit Produktionen
Year: 2009

This is the second full-length album by this quality band. After their amazing EP “Wiege der Finsternis” in 2006, this band gained a place in my favorites of the genre. The band begun in 2004 with four members and slowly the line-up was completed, so now there are seven members on Finsterforst. In 2007 they released their debut full-length “Weltenkraft”, that got great feedback. Later they signed in Einheit and now they just released their second album “…zum Tode Hin”.

Their music can be best described as epic symphonic folk black metal. There are five very long epic compositions in the album that lasts over 70 minutes. Their sound and production reminds me somehow of Moonsorrow, but from a much more folkish approach. Slow epic riffing, deep melodic keyboards and screaming vocals are combined with folk instruments, while accordion is the most dominant having the leading role in many of the melodies. After all, it’s one of their basic instruments, since Johannes Joseph, who is in the line-up, is responsible only for the accordion. Their songs are based on the folk tunes, where they seem to have countless brilliant ideas. Even if the album is very long and most of the time at the same tempo and style, their melodies are simply so innovative and enchanting that will keep you satisfied from the first to the last second.

Of course inside the songs there are changes in the rhythm and atmosphere. There are many fast parts, with more extreme vocals, amazing folk metal passages, acoustic parts and many epic moments, tied together in a very solid and professional way. The production is flawless and every instrument is perfectly clear. They lyrics are in German and are all in the booklet. Compared to their debut “Weltenkraft”, I would say that this album is somehow more melodic and less extreme, and I prefer it, but it still can’t “compete” the impression their EP “Wiege der Finsternis” made to me. In my opinion a bigger variety in the vocals could work for the band. Maybe next time…

Fans of folk black metal should definitely check them. Finsterforst is one of the very few bands that have such quality and original folk melodic ideas in their compositions. “…zum Tode Hin” CD is released by Einheit Produktionen and it’s only in jewel case version. You can visit their official pages to listen to their great songs.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.finsterforst.de
Finsterforst @ Facebook
Finsterforst @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

AL-NAMROOD – Astfhl AlTha’r

ALNAMROOD - Astfhl AlTha'r








Origin: Saudi Arabia
Genre: Folk Black Metal
Label: Shaytan Productions
Year: 2009

Listening for many years now to folk black metal, I am always looking for bands from “unusual” places that would mix their own culture’s music with black metal. Saudi Arabia though, would be one of the least expected places to listen to this genre, since there are very few metal bands at all there. Al-Namrood play Arabian folk black metal and they are around from 2008. The same year they released their 4 song EP “Atba’a AlNamrood” and a 3-way split “Narcotized” with Dhul-Qarnayn (Bahrain) and Ayyur (Tunisia).

Their music has a very underground raw sound. Guitars are somehow in the background, but still listenable, while the screaming vocals are definitely louder in the production. There are many oriental traditional instruments, but I can’t tell if they are real or synths. Anyway, Al-Namrood blend them skillfully in their music into a very original and “exotic” result. Except for the Arabian instruments, it is also the rhythm, the scales of the compositions and the melodies in the guitar lines that are deeply influenced by their traditional music. They move into a hypnotizing mid-tempo oriental mood, but don’t expect anything relaxing… There is an evil dark atmosphere in their songs, something expected, since their lyrics deal with archaic dark ages, pre-Arab times, legends of ancient kings and misanthropic themes. All of their songs are in Arabic language, something unusual, but they don’t sound strange at all! There are small summaries for every song in the booklet of the CD helping the listener to capture the atmosphere of each track.

The album is very interesting, especially for a debut and from a very strict and religious country, without any background in this music. There are many great moments in their songs, but of course there are also some things that need improvement. The production and the sound are definitely some of them. I am not talking of course about “polished” professional sound, but for a more “real sounding” instrumentation. Anyway this underground sound they have now, works great for this release, but they have just raised my expectations… Also the album lasts for an hour, but I believe that it could be smaller, since there are some less interesting parts in some songs…

Astfhl AlTha’r”, as well as their debut mini-CD is released by the Canadian label Shaytan Productions that releases exclusively oriental / middle eastern influenced metal. So, if you like oriental folk black metal, Al-Namrood is a very original and fresh choice. You can visit their profile on myspace to check this unique band.

 dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Al-Namrood @ Myspace
http://www.shaytanproductions.com

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

WALDGEFLÜSTER – Herbstklagen

WALDGEFLÜSTER – Herbstklagen








Origin: Germany
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Black Blood Records
Year: 2009

An amazing debut comes from this German one man’s band. Waldgeflüster is Winterherz’s personal project, who is also the singer / guitarist of the band Scarcross. He founded Waldgeflüster in 2005, wanting to explore the pagan black metal genre, since Scarcross have a more progressive orientation. I am really thankful he decided to begin this band, because his music is exceptional! In 2006 Irminsul Records released the demo “Stimmen im Wind” and now Black Blood Records releases the debut album “Herbstklagen”.

Melodic pagan black metal is what we get in this album. Pagan metal based only on the innovative guitars, without any synths “stealing the glory”… Electric guitar riffing is combined with acoustic guitars, resulting in a very emotional and honest sound! Epic melancholic melodies fill the air from the first moment of the album, dragging the listener to a dark, epic atmospheric journey. Winterherz’s vocals are mainly black metal screams, overflowing from passion and emotion. He also uses some great clean vocals and whispers making the songs much more interesting and variable. In this work we also have the participation of many guest musicians, who helped with the drums and with some traditional or acoustic instruments (piano, flutes, etc). There is also a live line-up for the band’s gigs, but on this album Winterherz composed everything himself and performed all guitars and vocals! Lyrics are in German and they deal with nature based themes and heathenism. By the way Waldgeflüster totally separate themselves from NSBM and they clearly state they don’t want any relation with this ideology…

Overall it is a very good work, with a balanced sound and great compositions. There are 9 songs in this album that last for over an hour. Except for the small intro there are six long pagan black metal songs (can’t pick one, since all are great), the instrumental song “Herbststürme”, as well as the closing acoustic track “Wintermorgen”. The production of “Herbstklagen” is very professional and even though it’s an underground album it can be easily compared with mainstream releases of the genre… So don’t hesitate to check them on the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.waldgefluester-blackmetal.de.vu
Waldgeflüster @ Myspace
Waldgeflüster @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ELUVEITIE – Evocation I (The Arcane Dominion)

ELUVEITIE – Evocation I








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Folk Acoustic Folk Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year: 2009

Eluveitie is maybe the most famous band from Switzerland and one of the biggest names in pagan folk metal scene. After the EP “Vên” in 2004 and their very successful debut “Spirit” in 2006 (both released by Fear Dark Records), the 8-membered band signed in Nuclear Blast to release their second album “Slania” in 2008.

In all these three albums Eluveitie played pagan folk black / death metal with many traditional instruments, brutal male lead vocals combined with some female ones and they were quite good (even though a little overestimated in my opinion). What we get in “Evocation I” is much different than their previous works. It is a fully acoustic album, with countless traditional Celtic instruments like hurdy-gurdy, bodhràn, tin and low whistles, fiddle, Scottish highland pipe, redpipe, bagpipes, mandola, mandoline, flute, whistles, hammered dulcimer, 5-stringed viola, Celtic harp, long-necked lute, shalm, crumhorn, etc. Female vocals is the dominant style of singing this time, with very few brutal male accompanying them here and there. Both female singers are very improved, doing an excellent work on this album. It is obvious that the result is much more folk and ritualistic than ever before.

It isn’t an easy to comprehend album with the first listen, but if you spend more time on it, you will definitely get rewarded. The structure of most songs isn’t the usual one, with bridge – refrain etc, but it is somehow “free”. On the other hand, the more “typical” songs of this album are very well composed, with catchy melodies and some of them, like “Omnos”, are already “hits”, with their video-clips playing worldwide. Actually there are 15 songs in this album, but most of them are about 3-4 minutes long, so the album lasts for 47 minutes. The production and the musical skills of all musicians are in professional level and this is in my opinion the best album of the band (even though, I usually prefer the “heavier” face of such bands). The lyrics of the majority of the songs (except of 3) in “Evocation I” are original Gaulish texts written 1600 to 2100 years ago and you’ll find them printed in the ancient typeface in the booklet! This is another proof of the very hard and serious effort that has been put on this work.

“Evocation I”, is a very original and personal album, recommended to all open-minded Eluveitie fans, but also to those who like more acoustic folk musical experiments. The album is released in a normal edition CD, as well as in digipak version with 2 extra songs and a bonus DVD, with their live at Summer Breeze in 2008. If you want to listen to some songs of this new effort of the band (or of their previous works, if you don’t know them at all) you can visit their myspace page here.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://eluveitie.ch
Eluveitie @ Facebook
Eluveitie @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

BANN – Æschatologia

BANN – Æschatologia








Origin: Germany
Genre: Melodic Black Metal Neoclassical
Label: Grief Foundation
Year: 2009

The debut of Bann is finally available. After their impressive EP “Antiochia” in 2006, the German duo returns with its first full length. The band was formed in the end of 2004, inspired by the Middle Ages and with the wish to create a musical “illustration” of this era. Their EP was self released in 50 pieces, but soon enough Grief Foundation signed the band and re-released it. Even though it was a very promising debut, nothing could foretell of this wonderful debut!

Their love for melodic melancholic compositions was obvious from the keyboard based “Antiochia”, even though the production wasn’t that good. But now, with a much-improved sound and the addition of amazing violins, Bann made a big step forward. “Æschatologia” is an excellent album, with a very distinctive and personal sound that really surprised me. They have a theatrical atmosphere and their orchestrations are very rich, almost symphonic. They aren’t exactly a black metal band, but mostly an extreme melodic metal band with black metal elements, mainly in the vocals. Each of their six songs is about 10 minutes long, dominated by the melodic lines of violins, performed by the guest violinist Salome Althammer. There is a great variety in the vocals, from black metal (most of the time), whispers, clean male ones and choirs. Keyboards still have a significant role in their sound, both in the creation of a magical symphonic background and in the lead melodies, especially the piano tunes.

It is true, that Bann offer a very different vision of the Middle Ages than most bands. Melancholy and despair are the main emotions that come out of their compositions; no epic heroes, or folk tunes and tales of witches… only darkness and sorrow, through their warm melodies. They are mainly into mid-tempo rhythms, without many outbursts, or changes but they manage to stay interesting through all 65 minutes of their album. And this is because of their innovative songwriting, their enchanting melodies and their theatrical expressive vocals. They somehow remind me some of the first Angizia albums’ atmosphere, but of course with a very different and personal approach. Their lyrics are in German, so I can’t actually have an opinion, but for those of you who speak the language, they are in the CD. I have the impression though that they must be interesting, judging from the overall effort that has been put in the rest of the album.

“Æschatologia” CD is released in a digipak with 12-page booklet by the small British label Grief Foundation. If you are interested in melodic melancholic extreme – black metal, Bann is a very good suggestion. You can listen on your own in their myspace page and you can also find info about purchasing this piece of art.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Bann @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – Black Cascade

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – Black Cascade








Origin: USA
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Southern Lorn Records
Year: 2009

Wolves in the Throne Room is a very special band coming from the United States and particularly from Washington. The brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver formed the band in 2002, with the vision to create a band mixing Cascadian (from the Cascade mountains) nature-inspired music and misanthropic black metal. In 2004 the two brothers decided to live in a farmstead on the outskirts of Olympia, as self-sufficient as possible. This different way of life has definitely influenced their sound and philosophy.

In 2006 they released their debut “Diadem of 12 Stars” that made quite a sense in the underground scene, with its unique atmosphere and brilliant music and much more mature approach than most bands of the genre. Next year’s “Two Hunters” proved that Wolves in the Throne Room wasn’t just a “firework”, but a band with essence and much more to offer. This time their music explored more tranquil and acoustic parts with some magical female vocals. In the beginning of 2009 they released the EP “Malevolent Grain” and now is the time for their third much-anticipated full-length “Black Cascade”!

What we get here is their most straightforward effort so far. The album begins with the sounds of rainfall, but soon enough black metal guitars enter the song, more powerful and dominant than ever. The tempo of the songs isn’t very fast, but definitely faster than before. “Black Cascade” was recorded onto 2 inch tape and mixed on a 1973 Neve Console, giving a really unique nostalgic sound in their music. Their genre isn’t very easily defined, but this time it’s closer to primal black metal, with a more solid result and not so many changes from song to song. There are 4 long compositions in the album, all of them more than 10 minutes, with a pagan, epic, hateful atmosphere. There are no acoustic songs or female vocals this time, but there is still variety in their music, experimenting with ritual, folk, ambient and drone soundscapes. Their deep respect for nature is obvious in their music and they try to “capture” the feeling of pacific North West landscapes in their songs. I believe that it is their best album so far, much more mature, balanced and well produced…

“Black Cascade” is released again by Southern Lorn Records in digipak format with amazing artwork and it definitely deserves your attention. If you know the band, you probably don’t need to read any review. If you don’t know them you can visit their official pages to get a taste.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.wittr.com
Wolves in the Throne Room @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

NIHASA – Brahamanda Xul Grimoire

NIHASA - Brahamanda Xul Grimoire








Origin: Greece
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Zyklon-B Productions
Year: 2009

Nihasa is a new project of Acherontas (who is also behind the bands Acherontas and Stutthof) and Porphyrion (former singer of Kawir). “Brahamanda Xul Grimoire” is their first album and it sounds very interesting. They will also release a split EP with Drowning the Light and Possession Ritual on September.

Even though their thematology remains close to Acherontas, their sound is quite different. They have a more old school black metal approach and a less “occult” atmosphere. Except for the opening and closing instrumental tracks, there are 4 long songs in this album, all of them in the same style. Mid-tempo, atmospheric riffs, accompanied by a melodic layer of keyboards and the haunting vocals of both Acherontas and Porphyrion (in one song), who once again did an excellent job, much different than the way he sang on Kawir. There is a very dark and depressive mood through the whole work, following the astral satanic journeys of their lyrics. The compositions are great and my only “doubt” is the two long instrumental tracks, that can’t reach the level of the rest of the album (unlike the impressive instrumentals on Stutthoff and Acherontas). Anyway, maybe this works in favor of the rest of the album… Acherontas and Porphyrion found an ideal balance between raw black metal and melodic elements in the songwriting and the outcome is “Brahamanda Xul Grimoire”. I believe though that production could be clearer at the parts where synths become more dominant, but that’s a detail, since their sound fits perfectly with their music.

“Brahamanda Xul Grimoire” is overall a very good album and its strongest “card” is the amazing 11-minute song “Shibalba”. Nihasa don’t try to add something groundbreaking and new in the genre, but they offer their personal version of black metal. Their album is released by Zyklon-B Productions, who like always did a very professional artwork. It is released both in CD and LP, while there is also a limited to 100 pieces A5 leather-book edition with silver printings! You can get a taste of the band in their myspace page.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Nihasa @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews