NYDVIND – Sworn to the Elders

NYDVIND – Sworn to the Elders








Origin: France
Genre: Epic Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Trollzorn - SMP Records
Year: 2010

Another comeback from a band that was put “on-ice” for seven years. The French epic pagan black metallers Nydvind break their silence returning with a new label and a great new album. Richard Loudin, who is also in Bran Barr, formed the band in 2000 and in 2003 they released their debut album “Eternal Winter Domain” with Sacral Productions.

Sworn to the Elders” is their second album and it continues exactly where the previous one ended. With a more fresh sound and a somehow more epic and pagan approach, Nydvind offer us Nordic heathen black metal. Their music is based on the guitar lines, with keyboards totally on the background. They combine acoustic and electric guitars and there are countless melodic ideas on their riffs. They usually move from mid to slow tempo, with only a few faster outbursts. Their compositions have a very epic feeling, reminding a little of Bathory’s atmosphere. Vocals are changing between brutal and clean ones, with Richard being great at both of them. There are 8 songs in this album and none of them follows the typical bridge / refrain recipe. Even if there are many changes inside the songs, the result is very solid and this 52 minutes album should rather be seen as a concept work, than separate tracks. From time to time there are also some folk elements and instruments in the songs, but they are not enough to put them in the folk genre in my opinion, except for the 7th track “Icewinds Unleashed” where they are quite dominant. All of their lyrics are in English with epic, pagan, nature inspired concept.

Overall Nydvind released a very good album that fans of bands like Bathory (their epic face), or new Andras should definitely check. Their production is great and the band has a natural sound in all instruments (not too polished or bombastic). “Sworn to the Elders” comes in a nicely illustrated digipak by Trollzorn Records that has lately signed many great bands of the epic/pagan/folk genre… You can check their sound at the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://nydvind.free.fr
Nydvind @ Facebook
Nydvind @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

APPALACHIAN WINTER – Winter Eternal

APPALACHIAN WINTER – Winter Eternal








Origin: USA
Genre: Epic Black Metal Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Self Released
Year: 2009

Appalachian Winter come from the snowy mountains of Pennsylvania of USA. They are the solo band of Danny George Klyne, formed in 2007. He has self-released two albums so far, “Silence Before the Great Mountain Wind” in 2008 and “Winter Eternal” in 2009. Both albums are actually demos, but they are full-length releases and both come with full artwork.

Their music is epic black metal with symphonic and folk elements. “Winter Eternal” has 9 very well composed songs, lasting about 46 minutes. They definitely have a personal sound, with a big variety in their music: epic mid-tempo black metal songs, enriched by synths and acoustic instruments. There are many changes during the songs, where cold black metal, tranquil acoustic parts, extreme melodic metal and epic majestic parts are combined in absolute balance. He uses both brutal and epic clean vocals in a very interesting dialogue between them. Even if his clean vocals are completely correct and in-tune, at some parts when he sings in “deep” operatic style they sound somehow “fake” (I can’t find the correct word in English), but this is just details… The production is ok for a demo, but the symphonic nature of Appalachian Winter’s music requires a much clearer and powerful sound that will allow these great songs to be properly presented. Lyrics deal with nature (especially the surrounding environment of Pennsylvanian mountains) and a bigger preference in winter related themes.

Summing up, Appalachian Winter is a very interesting band from a really talented man, who seems able to compose great melodic black metal songs and is very skillful in many different instruments. He already composes his third album. The only thing I’d like to see from this band in the future is a more professional production and a little improvement in the clean vocals. You can visit their official pages to download both albums for free! You can also get the albums directly from Danny in pro-printed CD-r versions with great artwork.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Appalachian Winter @ Facebook
Appalachian Winter @ Bandcamp

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FAETHON – Immortal Ancient Spirit

FAETHON – Immortal Ancient Spirit








Origin: Greece
Genre: Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Blazing Productions
Year: 2009

Faethon is a Hellenic band that was formed in 2004 by Apollo, who is also their only member. His origin is from Trikala and “Immortal Ancient Spirit” is his first full-length. Before that, he released 3 demos: “Faethon” and “Pagan Revival” in 2006 and “Europa Uber Alles” in 2007. The new album contains 3 songs from “Europa Uber Alles”, 2 new songs and 2 covers on Absurd and Thor’s Hammer.

As someone can assume from the album titles and the artwork, Faethon play underground black metal with an NS touch, as well as some pagan folk elements. The album begins with a long ambient intro that lasts for more than 9 minutes and could be less extended in my opinion… The rest of the songs (except for the folk ambient outro) move in a raw mid-tempo black metal style with a really underground un-edited sound! I suppose this production is on purpose so “dirty”, but in my opinion it “kills” some nice ideas hidden in the depth of the songs. Of course some die-hard fans of this sound will appreciate the overall sound! Apart from the production, Faethon’s songs are very interesting. There are many atmospheric keyboards accompanying the songs as well as some folk instruments (mainly flutes) giving a pagan nostalgic feeling to the compositions. My favorite song of the band is “The Forest is Alive” that has a more folkloric approach. Lyrics according to Apollo “deal with Heathenism, European comradeship and unity, European culture and partly esoteric National Socialism”. Most of them are in English, but there are also some Hellenic parts inside them.

Overall I would say that Faethon released a promising debut and I am really looking forward to something more complete and solid from them in the future. And maybe “Immortal Ancient Spirit” lasts for 43 minutes, but there are actually only 3 typical songs of the band in it. If it was presented as a demo, the rate would be bigger, but for an official debut release the production needs serious improvement. The band also released another CD in January 2010 “Summoning the Spirits of the Past”, a collection that contains their 3 demos. Here is the link to their myspace page to get a first taste of their music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (6/10)

Links:
Faethon @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FROM THE SUNSET, FOREST AND GRIEF – … Empty, Cold & Forgotten…

FROM THE SUNSET, FOREST AND GRIEF - Empty, Cold & Forgotten








Origin: Mexico
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal Depressive Black Metal
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Year: 2009

From the Sunset, Forest and Grief is the solo project of Daniel Cuvarrubias from Mexico. The band was formed in 2002, but it was only the end of 2009 when the debut album “… Empty, Cold & Forgotten…” was released by the German label Naturmacht Productions.

The band presents a dark depressive nature inspired black metal album, definitely keyboard based, with really dark melancholic melodies. Guitars and drums have a more secondary role in the melodies, creating a mid-tempo rhythmic background for the synths. Dan’s vocals are definitely extreme and raw, making a great contradiction (at a first listening) with the very melodic and atmospheric orchestration of his music. This contradiction though, works in favor of the overall result, since both “sides” seem to balance on a very thin line, completing each other. There are also many acoustic passages in the songs, adding a bigger variety in their music. Their lyrics deal with nature, depression and human suffering… There are 5 long songs plus an intro and the album lasts for more than 45 minutes. Their sound and production can take improvement for sure, especially if they want to offer us something more ambitious in the future. For a first effort the production is ok, even though I’d prefer it to sound more “natural” and less “computerized”.

Overall, From the Sunset, Forest and Grief make a very interesting debut of slow-driven melodic black metal, with many great ideas in the compositions and a very melancholic atmosphere. Dan seems to have the inspiration and the ability to compose and perform great music and with some sound improvement I expect better things in the future. Anyway “… Empty, Cold & Forgotten…” is a good release and fans of the genre should check it.

dimiarch

Rating:  (7,5/10)

Links:
From the Sunset, Forest and Grief @ Myspace
From the Sunset, Forest and Grief @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

BRAN BARR – Sidh

BRAN BARR – Sidh








Origin: France
Genre: Folk Black Metal
Label: Trollzorn - SMP Records
Year: 2010

Finally the second album of Bran Barr is out. “Sidh” was recorded since 2006, but it took them 4 years to release it officially with a new label. So 10 years after their self-released debut album “Les Chroniques de Naerg” the French Celtic metallers are back with an amazing work! The band was formed in 1995 and they have many members in common with Nydvind, Aes Dana and Heol Telwen, as well as many similarities in their music.

I have to admit that this kind of folk black metal with many traditional instruments and arrangements is my favorite style of music. So maybe I am not too objective, but I find this album perfect. Traditional song structures and rhythms are seen through the prism of epic extreme metal and the result is simply mesmerizing. Kraban (Loïc Courtete) does an amazing work with the tin and low whistles and bombardes. He is also in the band Heol Telwen that released another masterpiece of the genre “An Deiz Ruz” in 2005. He also has the help of many guest musicians in bodhran, Uileann pipes, flutes, war pipes and other traditional instruments. Except for the enchanting melodic lines of the folk instruments that have the leading role in their music, the Celtic atmosphere of “Sidh” also penetrates the guitar riffs and drum rhythms. The vocals of Yoltar (also in Nydvind) are completing the magnitude of this album. He is great both in brutal and in epic clean ones with an excellent pagan Celtic touch…

There are 9 compositions (plus one bonus cover song of Stille Volk) of excellent epic Celtic black metal. Song structures are very complex and with a great variety in tempo. There are acoustic melodic parts, mid tempo epic passages and extreme folk black metal outbursts, keeping the listener interested all the time. After some spins, when you get more familiar with the songs, “Sidh” becomes really addictive. I couldn’t get it out of my cd player… The production of the album isn’t “polished” or “technically excellent”, but it has a more live feeling. It allows everything to be heard clearly and the folk instruments (that are more “in the front”) sound very natural. In other words it’s exactly the production this album needed. All compositions are amazing, full of brilliant melodies and great power. Lyrics (except for one song) are in English, dealing of course with Celtic themes. If I had to sum this review up with just a few words it would be: “when inspiration meets folk music and epic black metal…”

I am pretty sure that the best folk black metal album for 2010 is already out, since I don’t expect to listen to something better than Bran Barr very soon. Trollzorn released the album in a beautifully illustrated digipak, fitting perfectly with their music’s atmosphere. There is nothing more I could ask from an album of this genre, so in my opinion folk metal fans must buy it without second thoughts. If you are still skeptic though, you can visit their myspace and Facebook pages to get a taste.

dimiarch

Rating:  (10/10)

Links:
Bran Barr @ Myspace
Bran Barr @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FJOERGYN – Jahreszeiten

FJOERGYN – Jahreszeiten








Origin: Germany
Genre: Avant-garde Metal Melodic Black Metal
Label: Trollzorn - SMP Records
Year: 2009

The third chapter of Fjoergyn’s trilogy is finally out. They come from Germany and particularly from Thuringia, a place with many great bands. So far they have released one album every two years. They were formed in 2003 by Stephan Löscher (also on another great Thuringian band Die Saat) and it took him exactly two years to release the debut “Ernte im Herbst” and two more years for their second work “Sade et Masoch” in 2007. And at the end of 2009 we have this album released by their new label Trollzorn.

If you have listened to their previous albums, then you know that they are not a typical band. Their music is really complex; they move from genre to genre and change their music style with great dexterity. I would say though that the term melodic orchestral black metal could give a first impression. Of course we are talking about a very experimental album from a band that doesn’t chose the safe path, but the result totally vindicates them! There are nine songs in this album that is divided in four parts, one for each of the four seasons (Jahreszeiten means Seasons in English). The untypical song structures make each track merge with the other and all together they form a 53-minute black metal musical entity. And this is the way it should be seen: as a whole album and not separate tracks. It isn’t easy to get the whole picture at first and it needs to be listened more times before it reveals all its greatness. With Fjoergyn’s unique composing skills the band managed to combine epic, folk black metal, with progressive metal, heavy metal, rock, amazing (really amazing) classical passages with an avant-garde theatrical approach. The vocals are once again excellent and match the variety of their music. Typical brutal black / death metal screams, progressive metal vocals, clean epic ones, choirs, operatic ones and whispering vocals follow their music soundscapes, all sang by the band’s founder and mastermind Stephan. He also plays keyboards and guitars and he made the orchestral arrangements, editing and mixing (in other words almost everything)! “Jahreszeiten” has a powerful and solid production and despite the extended use of synths, their music doesn’t sound overloaded and every instrument has the needed “air to breath”, something that allows the correct balance in their complex compositions.

The album is released by the German label Trollzorn (who has announced many more interesting releases this year) in two versions. The first one is a limited to 365 copies metal box (already sold-out) and the other a digipak version. Once again their artwork is quite enigmatic and like both previous works on a white background. If you are open minded this album really deserves your time and since it’s not easy to describe it, the best way to get an idea of what Fjoergyn play is to actually listen to their music. So visit their official pages to listen to various songs from all three albums.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.fjoergyn.de
Fjoergyn @ Facebook
Fjoergyn @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

STREBEN – Wild Enchanted Gardens

STREBEN – Wild Enchanted Gardens








Origin: Italy
Genre: Black Metal Folk Acoustic
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Year: 2009

The debut album from this Italian duo black metal band is out. Streben begun in 2007 with Cristina Hagalaz who is the mastermind of this band since she composes all music and lyrics, sings and plays bass and keyboards. The other member is Valker (also on Cold Empire) who plays the guitars. On 2008 they released the demo “… of Melancholic Elegies and Wanderlust” and on the end of 2009 Naturmacht released their first full-length “Wild Enchanted Gardens”.

The first thing I want to comment is the really beautiful artwork of this album that fits perfectly with the title and concept of this work. The music now is much more brutal than what the artwork implies! After the calm acoustic intro with birds singing sounds and female spoken words, the band enters with very raw black metal and an underground production. The vocals are very extreme, something you wouldn’t expect judging by Cristina’s aetherial appearance. Anyway her black metal screams are very distinctive and they match with the raw guitar sound of Streben. The element of contradiction is also very dominant in their music, where tranquil acoustic dreamlike passages and nature sounds are followed by raw black metal outbursts. There are only 6 songs in the album that lasts for almost 38 minutes. The lyrics are all in English and deal with the effort to break the bonds of reality and seek freedom in other dimensions…

The overall result is good and the band makes a very ambitious effort. There are many good parts in their songs, but there are also some that need improvement. I think they are better in the acoustic parts and they need more work in the marriage of melodic synths in their black metal parts. The songs are mainly in mid tempo creating a melancholic nostalgic atmosphere. The production is ok, but I expect it to be better in future efforts. For a debut album it’s more than good and the beautiful artwork, their aesthetic view and lyrical concept gives them more credits in my eyes. You can check them in their myspace page for your own verdict.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Streben @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

NAUTHISURUZ – Visions

NAUTHISURUZ – Visions








Origin: Russia
Genre: Experimental Melodic Black Metal Neoclassical
Label: Haarbn Productions
Year: 2009

Nauthisuruz is a very interesting band from Russia. Its two members Casurus and Sequoror founded it in 2006 and since then they have composed 7 albums! So far only two of them have been officially released: the fourth “Sanity Funeral” in CD-r by Rigorism Productions in 2007 and now Haarbn Productions released their fifth album “Visions”. Since it’s actually the first professionally printed album it’s most like a “debut” for the band.

It isn’t easy to categorize their music. There are various influences and many styles in this album. Atmospheric, Neoclassical, experimental symphonic black metal are some of the terms that can give an idea of their music, but then again they are not enough. Half of the album is instrumental and as expected synths have a very important role in their songs. If you are looking for a typical metal album with excellent skills and powerful production, then Nauthisuruz isn’t for you. But if you are looking for something else, where composition and inspiration is your only concern, then you must check them. They offer something different, experimental and personal with a more than decent and very interesting result.

Their music is dominated by the keyboards, which are cooperating perfectly with the guitars and all their beautiful melodies are supported by a good production. Of course it can be improved, but then again for a self produced and computer programmed album, it’s more than enough. There are epic and majestic parts in their music as well as others more calm and atmospheric. They even dare to experiment with some electronic elements and it works very well! Vocals in my opinion aren’t yet at the same level with the album’s melodies. They are brutal, ranging between black and death, with which I totally agree, but something is missing… The overall result can’t be considered too extreme, so I think they can touch a wider range of listeners. Someone could find some references to Summoning’s sound, but Nauthisuruz aren’t that epic and LotR oriented. Their lyrics deal with epic and fantasy themes, but in a more abstract approach. This album must be seen as a full piece, instead of separate tracks. “Visions” has an epic symphonic, mystical atmosphere and its magical aura can “travel” the listener far away… There are many parts in the songs (especially the instrumental parts) where the music is simply enchanting.

I believe Nauthisuruz is a band that deserves your attention. In their official siteyou can download all of their albums (including this one) so you can see for yourself. If you are interested in buying this release I believe the best way is through their label’s page. It comes also with two bonus tracks and a nicely illustrated booklet. If you only want a faster contact with their music you can just visit their mypace page to listen to some of their songs.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://www.nauthisuruz.ru
Nauthisuruz @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews