LUX DIVINA – From the Tomb to Nature’s Blood

LUX DIVINA – From the Tomb to Nature's Blood








Origin: Spain
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Ars Magna Recordings
Year: 2009

Lux Divina isn’t a new band. They are from Barcelona, Spain and they were formed back in 1998. After one demo, they released the EP “Occasus Caeremonia” in 2001 and a promo in 2003. In 2004 they released a compilation album that contained their 3 aforementioned works, entitled “New Days for the Ancient Wisdom”. They played pagan black metal with some synths, but since they actually never made a full-length album and they had many line-up changes, they somehow lacked of “personality”. So I was curious to see what they will offer in their debut album, after so many years, with a refreshed line-up.

From the first “spins” I realized there was a huge improvement in everything! The band has definitely changed its sound a lot. First of all, synths are totally vanished and guitars are the leading instrument now. Their sound is very clear and sharp, helped by a professional production. “From the Tomb to Nature’s Blood” is a very original-sounding album, a unique mixture of pagan and progressive black metal. Electric and acoustic guitars are combined very well with the powerful drums into a solid result. Their rhythm and mood changes from enraged parts, to melodic avant-garde passages and acoustic interludes. What make this album stand much above average works of the genre are the excellent vocals! Norax has done an amazing work, both in the screaming parts and in the clean melodic vocals. He is very capable to fluently express all the different emotions and atmospheres of this album. Especially his clean vocals are enchanting (with the exception of song “Serpent’s Philosophy”, where it sounds somehow strange in my ears…) and I believe he is one of the most gifted singers of this style around.

Their biggest inspiration comes from their love to Mother Nature and ancient civilizations, as it is reflected in their beautiful lyrics. The whole work is characterized by a melancholic, melodic, “nature driven” mood. All compositions sound very interesting and complex and the band skillfully manages to merge all its influences into a solid and well-played album. Overall “From the Tomb to Nature’s Blood” is an impressive comeback from Lux Divina that shouldn’t escape any pagan black metal fan. It is released by the American label Ars Magna Recordings and you can visit their official pages for some songs.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://luxdivina.com
Lux Divina @ Facebook
Lux Divina @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

TAAKE – Taake

TAAKE - Taake








Origin: Norway
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Dark Essence Records Svartekunst Produksjoner
Year: 2008

This is the fourth album by Taake, 3 years after their previous full-length and after many EPs and split albums. The Norwegian black metallers remain faithful to their sound, without any surprises.

So in this work you will find mid-tempo typical black metal, with the characteristic Norwegian sound. The band is very good at this genre and I believe their new album is their most solid so far, with improved sound and production. A feeling of rage and melancholy is dominant on “Taake”, while the lyrics are like always in their native language. Even though the album begins with very melodic keyboards accompanying the riffs of their first song “Atternatt” and they seem to have the leading role, they soon fade out and remain very discreet on the rest of the album. It is a well-played album, even though it lacks something new and refreshing in my opinion. But I guess this isn’t always something bad, especially from bands that have released many works and have established their personal sound!

This album is released in normal jewel case, digipak and vinyl versions and it also contains the video “Umenneske”. If you know Taake and you like good black metal, without any surprises, you can invest with safety. If you have never heard of them you can check them in the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://taake.svartekunst.no
Taake @ Facebook
Taake @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FORGOTTEN LAND – In Regno Langobardorum

FORGOTTEN LAND - In Regno Langobardorum








Origin: Italy
Genre: Epic Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Self Released
Year: 2009

Forgotten Land is a new band coming from Italy. They were formed in 2006 by their front-woman Nordic Valkyrja and in 2008 their first demo “Ancient Tales from forgotten Lands” was released. This summer, July 2009 they decided to release their debut album themselves, without any label!

Their music is epic pagan black metal with some folk influences. They have a very good sound, with powerful guitars and drums (with a nice “echo”), reminding me of the sound this genre had on its beginning: more direct and less digital. Most of the time they use rhythmic mid-paced riffs in a very epic tempo. Few female vocals and some acoustic instruments add a lot in their music and I thought they could use them more often. All of their compositions are good, but the highlight for me is “Heroes of an Ancient Reign”, an epic masterpiece that is still stuck in my head! Their sound is very solid and all instruments are heard crystal clear, under a great production. Their lead vocals are brutal death black, with a raw, yet melodic result. Unlike most bands of the genre, they prefer to compose short songs and the album lasts only 36 minutes. Except for the first song that is in Italian, all other lyrics are in English, speaking about pagan, epic, mythological legends…

Overall, “In Regno Langobardorum” is an unexpectedly good debut, very professional and promising. Since they are not officially distributed by any label, the best way to listen to their music and buy their album is through their myspace / Facebook pages.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Forgotten Land @ Myspace
Forgotten Land @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

KLABAUTAMANN – Merkur

KLABAUTAMANN – Merkur








Origin: Germany
Genre: Black Metal Extreme Progressive Metal
Label: Zeitgeister Music
Year: 2009

This is the third full-length album from this German band with the unusual name. Tim Steffens and Florian Toyka formed Klabautamann in 1998 and they are the only permanent members of the band since then. After two demos, they released their debut “Our Journey Through the Woods” on their own in 2003, but the album didn’t get the proper distribution. In 2005 they released their second work “Der Ort” with the label Heavy Horses Records, so this time their album went much better.

Having listened to their previous works, I was expecting something good from the band. They were playing technical progressive black metal, with some pagan touches. In “Merkur” they haven’t changed their style, but there are of course some differences. They have a darker atmosphere, while the pagan influences are almost absent. Their songs have very complex structures, where everything can change from one moment to the other. You won’t find typical compositions, but rather experimental music, where the two members try to express their personal emotions spontaneously and sometimes you get the feeling that they are improvising. This approach requires high technical skills and makes their music much more difficult to comprehend. Luckily, the result is very good, since both musicians are very skilled and their sound / production touches perfection.

Their compositions are based on guitars, both electric and acoustic, which are used to create a huge variety of sounds. With very few exceptions there are no synths and the drums are played by a guest member, Patrick Schroeder, like in their previous album. Except for the last track “Noatun” that sounds like a ballad, all other songs are not based in melody, but in the “game” between power and calmness. The rhythm changes constantly, creating a stressing atmosphere bringing you in a state of insanity. The screaming vocals intensify this feeling of anxiety, dragging you deeper in the dark world of “Merkur”. Lyrics are half in German, half in English and they deal with dark, personal, melancholic and nostalgic themes through a fantasy filter…

Overall “Merkur” is one of the best progressive black metal albums around and if you are a fan of these genres, you must definitely check them. The CD is released by an unknown label, Zeitgeister that has also some other interesting bands (Woburn House, Valborg, Ekpyrosis, Kosmos Wald, Island, Gruenewald, Slon) in different music styles. I believe that Klabautamann deserve much more recognition than what the have so far and I hope they will manage to have better distribution. You can visist their myspace page for more info and samples.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.klabautamann.de
Klabautamann @ Myspace
Klabautamann @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

VINTERRIKET – Horizontmelancholie

VINTERRIKET – Horizontmelancholie








Origin: Germany
Genre: Ambient Folk Acoustic
Label: Heimatfolk
Year: 2009

“Horizontmelancholie” is the last full-length from Vinterriket. If you have heard about them, you would probably already know that there are countless releases from this German one man band. Many collections, re-releases from different labels etc, make it difficult for someone to count, but I think this is the eighth full-length album (if “Zeit-Los:Laut-Los” counts as a full length).

Christophe Ziegler is the man behind this band and he has also two other projects, Nebelkorona and Atomtrakt, but Vinterriket is his main and most productive band. He formed them back in 1996 and his music varies from album to album. Of course the majority of his music is dark nature inspired ambient, but there are also songs or whole albums where he offers us melodic ambient black metal. He is equally good in both genres and in my opinion his ambient music is the best and most personal I have ever listened to… He really manages to captivate the dark melancholic side of nature in his songs in a very pure and direct way and his sound is very characteristic, whether it’s dark ambient or ambient black metal.

Whenever a new album is out now, I usually don’t know if it will be a black metal or an ambient release, but this time I was informed it will be an acoustic release. In order to be honest, I was somehow afraid of repetition (due to the large amount of his songs all these years), but my fears soon vanished. “Horizontmelancholie” is very different from his previous works! His ambient music has a much more acoustic orientation this time. There are no black metal guitars or other metal elements in his music (except maybe for some whispered screams in some parts). Acoustic guitars make a very interesting appearance in this album, revealing a new Vinterriket face. Of course the characteristic sound of the band is still dominant, synths and whispered vocals are still around, but under a fresh “filter”, tied very well with the new elements. Some of the songs are more ambient (the opening and closing tracks), some more dark, other much more acoustic… He also uses very beautiful clean vocals and sometimes his music brings in mind something from Empyrium, or acoustic Falkenbach songs! All of his seven compositions are brilliant and have their own identity, but my personal favourite is “Wogen des Firmamentes” with its captivating sad melody and the excellent clean vocals. I think that “Horizontmelancholie” is the most interesting recent album from Vinterriket and surprised me in a very pleasant way.

I totally recommend this album to all Vinterriket fans and all fans of dark folk ambient music. It is released in a dual format disc: one side is the CD and the other side a DVD with video-clips for all the songs of the album! The clips are more like slideshows of pictures and small videos with black & white dark landscapes and it’s actually the visual presentation of what this music brings in mind. The CD is released by Heimatfolk in a beautiful digipak with the classic Vinterriket artwork (black/white nature photography) in a 16 page booklet. It is limited in 2000 copies, while 150 of them are in Black Wooden Box that contains the CD, together with many extras (t-shirt, flag, sticker, onyx stone, wood wool, etc.) You can visit their official pages for music samples and more info.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
www.vinterriket.com

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FORGOTTEN WINTER – Dialectica Transcendental

FORGOTTEN WINTER - Dialectica Transcendental








Origin: Portugal
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Nordsturm Productions
Year: 2009

“Dialectica Transcendental” is the debut album of this new band from Portugal. Forgotten Winter begun in 2004 and last year (2008 ), after two demos and a split cd, they released under the label Nekrogoat Heresy Productions the EP “Infinitas Estruturas do Desconhecimento”. Based on the aforementioned works, someone couldn’t expect many things from the band.

Luckily enough, their debut album is much improved. They play symphonic black metal and they also have some ambient songs. Their music is clearly based on melodic keyboards, which overflow their compositions. Synths are very dominant in their sound, while guitars and drums are mainly in the background, with vocals somewhere in between. There are also some acoustic melodic interludes in their songs, adding a bigger variety in their sound. All vocals are extreme black and they fit perfectly with their melancholic melodies. Lyrics are all in Portuguese, and they are about cosmic and philosophical themes, as far as I can tell.

Three of the seven songs are instrumental, a mixture of orchestral and ambient music, which I have to admit I found too long and not of the same quality with the “black metal” songs. There are already so many acoustic passages inside the songs and since their strong “card” is the combination of melody and black metal, I find these songs somehow unnecessary. Anyway, except for the intro, the mid-tro and the outro, the other compositions are very good, with many melodies and a very interesting sound, if you like dark symphonic extreme metal. Of course we are talking about an underground release, so don’t expect polished production, or real orchestral instruments… Overall “Dialectica Transcendental” is a very interesting release and judging from their vast improvement (compared to their previous works) I believe that Forgotten Winter is a very promising band that can give us even better albums in the future.

So, if you are into symphonic underground keyboard based black metal, “Dialectica Transcendental” might be for you. One of their members, J. T. Fausto, runs also Omitir, another interesting band from Portugal. Even though the long instrumental songs didn’t work for me, I didn’t take them in consideration in my grade, since the rest of the album is more than decent. If you think they will interest you, you can check their music on the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.forgottenwinter.pt.to
Forgotten Winter @ Facebook
Forgotten Winter @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ANCESTRAL RHYMES – The Cosmic Law (Demo)

ANCESTRAL RHYMES – The Cosmic Law








Origin: Greece
Genre: Ambient Atmospheric Black Metal Experimental
Label: Self Released
Year: 2009

Ancestral Rhymes is a new ambitious band from Trikala, Greece. The two members of the band (Dimitris: all instruments and vocals, Sofia: keyboards) begun in 2007 and this demo EP is their first work.

It isn’t easy to describe their music, since they have a very personal and unique sound. In their site they are labeled as “black metal and ambient”, but that’s not very accurate in my opinion. Keyboards have a very important role in their music. All the melodies are based on them and the guitars (when they appear) seem to have an accompanying rhythmic role. Their music sounds mainly like an epic soundtrack that “dresses” their mythological subjects. Some of the songs are instrumental, while others have a few screaming black vocals and many male recitations, both in ancient Greek and English language.

The orchestrations and the mixing are made in a way that all the songs give you the impression they are instrumental, since vocals are mainly in the background. The result is very dark and atmospheric, with many interesting melodies. It has at the same time an epic medieval battle mood, as well as ancient Hellenic civilization nostalgia in an almost ritualistic approach. The production of course could be better (and must get better in the future), because this kind of almost orchestral music becomes much more interesting with a solid and “real” sound. On the other hand, this is the first effort of the band and actually a demo EP, recorded in the home studio of the band, so it would be almost “unreal” to expect a better result!

If you like experimental soundtrack-like black metal and have a love for our ancient civilization you can check this band. You can find some samples in their myspace page. “The Cosmic Law” is released in a very professionally printed CD-r, with an 8-page booklet with lyrics and info about the songs and beautiful photos of Greek monuments and landscapes. You can contact the band at their page to get a copy. They also have an “Experimental / Soundtracks / Film music / Electroacoustic” project named Velorum Delta for those who are interested.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Ancestral Rhymes @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ZURIAAKE – Afterimage of Autumn

ZURIAAKE – Afterimage of Autumn








Origin: China
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Pest Productions
Year: 2008

Zuriaake is one of the first bands that come from China presenting pagan black metal. This vast country with the amazingly rich history and tradition seems to be awakening in black metal too, judging from this decent release and from some others that are soon to follow.

Bloodfire and Bloodsea were the founding members of Zuriaake back in 1998, but it was only 2005 when they released a split cd-r with Yngizarm, another pagan black metal project of Bloodfire (he is also in Midwinter, Varuna and Hellward). Finally they released their debut full-length in Pest Productions, a new Chinese label with very artistic and professional releases. Their music is burzumish melancholic black metal and they are very good at it. The sound is raw with very extreme vocals, but the synths in the background make it easier to listen. They intend to mix black metal with Chinese traditional instruments and the parts where they do it are very interesting, but also very limited. There also some acoustic ambient passages and the lyrics deal with nature and inner emotions connected to autumn… Their songs are very beautiful and they seem to be able to make much better things, especially if they get a more personal sound. I hope they will add more traditional Chinese elements in their next works.

The CD is released in a beautiful A5 digipak format. There are also some more limited editions including a mini cd-r “Winter Mirage” in A5 format again, where the Burzum influences are more dominant and a T-shirt. You can visit their myspace site for samplesand their label if you want to get the CD.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Zuriaake @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews