PENSÉES NOCTURNES – Vacuum

PENSÉES NOCTURNES – Vacuum








Origin: France
Genre: Depressive Black Metal Neoclassical
Label: Les Acteurs de l Ombre Productions
Year: 2009

Vacuum” is the impressive debut from a new French band called Pensées Nocturnes. It is released one year ago by the French label Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions, but I only bought it a few days ago. Anyway, from the first listen it became clear that this work definitely deserves to be reviewed! The band was formed in 2008 by Vaerohn (also guitars on Valhôll), who is the only member since then. He recently released the band’s second album “Grotesque” again with the same label, a quite different album, which will be reviewed soon…

If I should try to describe their music with just a few words, Pensées Nocturnes is a band that mixes dark depressive black metal with melancholic classical music (mainly piano, not orchestra). Of course there are many bands that have tried that in the past, but Pensées Nocturnes do it in a very personal way, maybe the best I have ever listened to! The closest band that comes to my mind is their com-patriots Mystic Forest, but then again there are many differences between the two bands. There are six long songs in “Vacuum” that lasts for something more than an hour. The compositions are overflowing with many enchanting classical interludes (a few “authentic” classical pieces, as well as many pieces composed by Vaerohn), which are simply breathtaking. Most of these parts are piano based, but he also uses violins and other strings. I think he could be a great classic composer! These interludes are followed by melancholic sorrowful black metal of the same high quality.

The production and the arrangements are exactly how they should be. Neither too polished to ruin the atmosphere, nor too raw to flatten their compositions! They have a very rich sound, especially in the parts where the classical and acoustic instruments are blended with the guitars. Their black metal, even if quite extreme and raw, is based on melodic riffs and thanks to the excellent songwriting and “clever” production, the overall result is very balanced. There are also some parts with jazz piano improvisation by Jean Coumelongue (guest appearance) in the fourth song “Coups de Bleus”. Vaerohn’s vocals now are very expressive, full of despair, agony and suffocation and they sound most of the time like a hopeless black metal cry, fitting more than perfectly with the music’s atmosphere… It’s really hard for me to choose one song as the best, since all of them are masterpieces! The lyrics are all in French, so I can’t tell many things about them.

Anyway, “Vacuum” is a surprisingly good debut album coming out of nowhere! Despite the fact that this is the first album of the band, it sounds unexpectedly mature and well composed. Even if Pensées Nocturnes is an underground band (and I believe they will remain so), the production is very good for the genre and you can’t tell that this is a one man’s band; Vaerohn is a gifted and very talented musician. Fans of depressive and experimental black metal, or those who like the marriage of classical music and metal should definitely check this band.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9,5/10)

Links:
http://pnrecords.free.fr

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ELFFOR – Frostbitten Pain

ELFFOR – Frostbitten Pain








Origin: Spain
Genre: Melodic Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Self Released
Year: 2010

Elffor is the personal project of Eöl and it begun back on 1995. It was 1998 when Elffor released their first album “Into the Dark Forest…”. After that, three more albums followed, “Son of the Shades” in 2002, “From the Throne of Hate” in 2004 and “The Unblessed Woods” in 2006, all of them self-released by Eöl. After their 4th album, the German label Northern Silence decided to re-release their first albums and so far they released their 3 first works, with different artwork and some extras. Now the band finally releases its 5th album “Frostbitten Pain” again on its own.

Their music is epic melodic synth-based black metal with some ambient influences, mostly in the first album. There are 5 long songs in this album, all of them in slow tempo, with many keyboards that dominate their music. In order to get a first idea, they sound like a more melodic version of Graveland, but with a personal sound. Compared to the previous albums, I think this one is less Tolkien / fantasy oriented and it has a more epic pagan approach. They still of course retain this magical medieval atmosphere they introduced in their previous works. The production is improved, but I think it can get even more powerful and clear in the future… Anyway they are moving forward from album to album, something that raises my expectations! The vocals are various, from typical black metal, crying mournings, haunting shrieking screams, some spoken vocals and a few guest female ones by Hildr Valkyrie. The songs sound now more solid, with less ambient parts and much more work in the songwriting. There are great melodies in the compositions and for me the second and fourth song “Instinct’s Enslavement” and “Chaos Moon” stand out from the album. My only concern is that there are a few “weaker” parts in the songs and some repetition that keeps “Frostbitten Pain” from something bigger.

Elffor are not offering something totally new, but they are very good at what they play. Fans of bands like late Graveland, Lord Wind and Summoning should definitely check them. The album is released by the band in a beautiful digipak limited to 500 copies, but it has surprisingly good distribution, so it won’t be difficult to find it. You can get a taste of their music in the links.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
www.elffor.com
Elffor @ Facebook
Elffor @ MySpace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

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SKYFORGER – Kurbads

SKYFORGER – Kurbads








Origin: Latvia
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year: 2010

It’s been more than five years since we listened to something new from Skyforger. The beginning of the most successful and well-known Latvian band dates back in 1995. Since then the band released 4 full-length albums: the debut “Kauja Pie Saules” in 1998, “Latvian Riflemen” in 2000 and the last two, “Thunderforge” and the purely acoustic “Sword’s Song”, in 2003. In 2005 Folter Records (who also released “Thuderforge”) re-released their first demo from 1997 “Semigalls’ Warchant” remastered, together with a new EP named ”Asinslauks”. Last year the band signed a contract with Metal Blade (!) in order to release their fifth full-length “Kurbads”.

Skyforger started as a pagan metal band using traditional folk instruments since their beginning, while their music was moving between black metal and extreme heavy metal. Their first albums had a “blacker” approach, while the later works are actually extreme epic folk metal. “Thunderforge” was a very balanced melodic pagan metal album and I consider it as the last complete sample of their music, since their next album was only acoustic Latvian folk music (interpretations of their older songs). Naturally, seven years later and after signing to a more mainstream label, someone should expect differences in their music. Well yes, the new Skyforger album “Kurbads” is very different from the band’s previous works. They have a much more polished and mainstream production, while most black metal elements from their music are gone… Of course the band hasn’t lost any of its aggression, they just approach their music with a more powerful heavy metal sound, rather than melodic pagan black metal. The folk tunes and instruments (mainly bagpipes) also remain and in my opinion they sound more dominant now, since the contradiction with the rhythmic (and less melodic) guitar riffing is bigger. Their vocals remain brutal black / death and they are actually the most “extreme” part of their music. There are also some clean backing vocals and choirs in the refrains, giving a more epic tone to the songs. The production of the band is very powerful and solid, making it obvious that they worked very much for this result. Their thematology deals with a legendary Latvian hero named Kurbads and all lyrics are in their native language, but they have the translations in the booklet.

Kurbads” is a very good album that will definitely bring more fans to the band, but it can also disappoint the ones who prefer their black metal phase. I guess we can’t have it all. Me personally, I would prefer a more melodic and pagan approach in their guitars with less “heavy metal” riffs, but I have to admit that they are very good at what they do, especially in their folk parts, with many great melodies and interesting ideas in the orchestration. The album is released in a beautiful digipak, while the artwork is made by their guitarist Martins. You can visit their official pages to listen to their music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.skyforger.lv
Skyforger @ Facebook
Skyforger @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

AL-NAMROOD – Estorat Taghoot

AL-NAMROOD – Estorat Taghoot








Origin: Saudi Arabia
Genre: Folk Black Metal
Label: Shaytan Productions
Year: 2010

The second full-length album from this Arabian oriental black metal band is out, just one year after their debut “Astfhl AlTha’r”. The band was formed only in 2008, but they are very active with four releases so far (including a mini cd and a split). There are some line-up changes in Al-Namrood, since they got a permanent drummer, but their vocalist left. So they are a trio again and they used Mardus as a guest vocalist.

Those of you who have listened to the band, you should know what to expect from this album. They play raw underground folk black metal, with riffs based exclusively on oriental Arabian scales and many traditional oriental instruments (keys, not physical instruments). Compared to their previous works I see a big improvement on the sound of the guitars, while the addition of drummer enriched their sound. Synths sound also less “fake” and the samples of oriental instruments are much more natural. Their vocalist is very good and despite the fact he is not a full member, he fits perfectly with the band. The production in general is also much better, since everything is more clear and listenable, but it still definitely retains its underground feeling. The instruments are not merged into one sound and you can hear everything separately. I still believe though that the band can improve further their sound and they would make a big step forward if they tried to use real traditional instruments. Anyway the album is very good, with very interesting song ideas and a faster tempo, compared to the debut. Their eastern folk influences sound very refreshing, like the dark Arabian exotic atmosphere that penetrates both their music and lyrics.

Overall Al-Namrood isn’t a group that fans of folk black metal should ignore, especially if you want something different and fresh. The band has a very characteristic sound and a great “unexplored field” to move (compared to the overcrowded Nordic scene), since it’s the only one from a land with a unique culture and history and a very special music tradition. Like their previous works it is released by the Canadian label Shaytan Productions. If they sound interesting to you, you can check them on the links below.

 dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

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

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

SLAVLAND – Lechita

SLAVLAND – Lechita








Origin: Poland
Genre: Folk Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Eastside Records
Year: 2009

Slavland is the personal band of Belzagor (Lugburz, Swarost, Moonrise) from Poland. He formed them in 2001 and since then he has released 7 full-length albums! “Lechita” is his last work and it is released like most of his latest albums by the Polish label Eastside Records.

Slavland’s music has always been pagan folk black metal. They definitely belong in the underground scene, since they have a very raw sound. Of course through the years their sound evolved and the production is getting much better. Belzagor does everything in this album, except for drums, played by the guest member Mantus. And we are not talking only about the typical metal instruments, but he also sings and performs many traditional and acoustic instruments. He actually is quite talented and he creates beautiful music, especially in the folk melodies. Flutes, whistles, bagpipes, acoustic guitars and other folk instruments are combined with raw pagan black metal, more melodic compared to his early albums. Technically Slavland need much more work, especially in the production of the metal parts. Acoustic parts are very good. What are really weak in Slavland’s music are the clean vocals! They sound to me completely out of tune and they ruin a lot of the beautiful music. At least in this album they are reduced compared to the previous one. I suggest either to remove them at all, or to get a guest singer. Anyway, despite the technical flaws, I always liked their music, since I find “honesty” in their songs. They seem to come directly from Belzagor’s heart, like he had really lived in a pagan past and he is sharing his memories with us. Of course all of the lyrics are in his native language, dealing with pagan themes.

If you are fan of underground folk pagan black metal, you will probably know Slavland. If you don’t know them and you like this kind of music and especially eastern bands (from Poland, Ukraine, etc) you should check them. For me this is their best work so far, but most of their recent albums are also at a very good level. In their myspace page you can find some songs from various albums, including “Lechita”.

dimiarch

Rating:  (7/10)

Links:
Slavland @ Facebook
Slavland @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ACHERONTAS – Theosis

ACHERONTAS – Theosis








Origin: Greece
Genre: Occult Black Metal
Label: Dark Side Records
Year: 2010

The second full-length album from this productive Hellenic black band is out. They were formed in 2007 and since then they have already 2 albums and 3 split releases. Their debut album “Tat Tvam Asi (Universal Omniscience)” in 2007 left very positive impressions and I was eager to listen to their new work.

In my opinion this album is very different from their debut. It has a more “direct” black metal approach with a much more limited use of synths. In the previous album it was the keyboards that carried out most melodies and atmospheric passages. This time guitars have a very dominant role in Acherontas music. First of all the production is improved and their sound isn’t as raw as it was in their debut. So guitars and bass sound clearer and they are not merged into “one”. The work on riffs and melodic guitar lines is truly remarkable, both in quality and variety, revealing a lot of work behind this album. Fast melodic riffing, rhythmic guitars, acoustic guitars and bass are combined in many different ways in this album keeping the listener always interested. The tempo and style of the songs also vary, from fast aggressive black metal, to atmospheric metal and acoustic / ambient / soundtrack parts, all of them under the band’s occult atmosphere. V.P.9 Acherontas’ vocals are also improved and they are more expressive and “mature”, like the overall sound of the band. Their lyrics and philosophy haven’t changed in general, except that this time they have a more dark vampiric approach without the Sumerian elements they had in their debut. The philosophy behind the band dwells in the core of philosophies of Hekal Tiamat. Also many occult elements in lyrics leads to left hand path black arts as alchemy, Kabalah and necromantical sorcery… Some of the lyrics come from the “Temple of the Vampire”, like the great translation into ancient Hellenic in the song “Legacy of Tiamat”, a slow dark atmospheric track, my favorite of the album.

Theosis” is a very good work and Acherontas seem to have balanced their influences into a more solid sound. I believe though that it would be in favor of the band if the album was a little shorter (it’s almost one hour long) focusing on their best ideas and avoiding some repetition. Anyway I am not complaining; it’s just that the band has raised our expectations a lot! The album is released by Dark Side Records in a digipak version and in a limited A5 digibook version, as well as in a double gatefold vinyl. You can visit their myspace and Facebook pages to get a taste from all of their works.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
Acherontas @ Facebook
Acherontas @ MySpace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

LLVME – Fogeira de Sueños

LLVME – Fogeira de Sueños








Origin: Spain
Genre: Doom Metal Folk Black Metal Folk Death Metal
Label: My Kingdom Music
Year: 2010

Llvme is a newly formed band from Salamanca, Spain. They exist from 2007, when Nandu, keyboard player of the black metal band Chaotic Hope, decided to create a new band. After the split-up of Chaotic Hope, two of their members joined the band, together with a new guitarist. The new band follows a quite different path from the fast epic black metal style of Chaotic Hope. “Fogeira de Sueños” is their debut album and it was released on April of 2010. They recently got a fifth member, the guitarist Eric from the folk band Elfic.

One thing for sure is that Llvme (“fire” in Leonese language) have a very personal approach and a much different sound from most bands in the folk black metal genre. And this is mainly because the base of their music is doom death metal. So it has a relatively slow and heavy tempo. Of course they also play black metal, adding folk instruments (mainly bagpipes) and beautiful Celtic melodies in their music, as well as violins (from guest members) that create a sad atmosphere. I can also listen to some instrumental progressive metal elements in their music, especially in the second song “Llumeiru De Fueu” which is my favorite! The songwriting is quite complex, since the band has to “marry” all of these different styles and they do it very skillfully. I have to admit though, that I prefer their more folk melodic moments, rather than the slow death metal parts, but that’s only a matter of personal taste. On the other hand though, maybe it is these “unmelodic” parts and the contradiction that help the melodic parts sound even better… Of course there are some great moments in the doom parts, with weird unusual melodies, resulting in a very dark, almost “suffocating” atmosphere. They also use synths in the background with an ambient touch that enrich their sound. The vocals, depending on the music, are either black or death, while there are also a few clean folk ones. The production is satisfying, serving the music for now, but it’s definitely improvable. Their lyrics are inspired by the powers of fire and are written in Leonese language, the native dialect of the Spanish region of Kingdom of Leon, homeland of the band members.

Overal “Fogeira de Sueños” is a very interesting debut album, from a band that seems able to build a strong personal sound. There are really good moments in the songs and I believe they can become even better in the future, especially if they create a more balanced sound, without so many changes between the different genres they play. I think that with more work in the production it’s an easy issue for them to solve. The album is released by the Italian label My Kingdom Music and you can check Llvme’s music in the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.llvme.com
Llvme @ Facebook
Llvme @ MySpace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

LORD AGHEROS – Of Beauty and Sadness

LORD AGHEROS – Of Beauty and Sadness








Origin: Italy
Genre: Ambient Atmospheric Black Metal Gothic Metal
Label: My Kingdom Music
Year: 2010

Lord Agheros is the personal project of Gerasimos Evangelou from Sicily (of Greek Origin). “Of Beauty and Sadness” is his third album after 2007’s “Hymn” and next year’s “As-a-Sin” and it takes his music a step forward. Already from the second album, Lord Agheros revealed a more orchestral approach in their music, something even more emphasized in this new work. The terms extreme gothic metal or symphonic black metal that could describe their previous works can still be used, but it’s not enough to fully “capture” their overall atmosphere. Their music is definitely synth and piano based, with very slow tempo and many ambient and film-music elements. There are of course distorted guitars and black metal vocals in the songs, but most of the album is instrumental. I am not complaining at all though, since “Of Beauty and Sadness” is a very good work. The album begins with a beautiful muezzin’s calling, while other “unusual” vocals are also used in the songs (childish laughter, tribal songs, whispers, “film dialogues”, etc) helping the band to build a melancholic almost haunted atmosphere. I believe that the title of the album is very suitable for Lord Agheros’ work since they create very sad music with many beautiful melodies.

The production is improved since their previous work and Gerasimos is now equally good in the extreme metal parts (that were a bit weaker in my opinion in his previous albums) and the instrumental parts of his songs. His brutal vocals remain very extreme, but the guitar riffing is more melodic now, fitting perfectly with the enchanting melodies of the piano, keys and acoustic guitars. I must also say that the marriage of these two “natures” is better, since guitars and synths are cooperating in harmony. In two of the songs there are also beautiful female vocals by Barbara Conti, broadening the variety of soundscapes in this album. Lord Agheros is not a typical band; they experiment, moving from one genre to another and they create a unique style of their own. If you like atmospheric dark extreme metal and ambient soundtrack music you should check this band. In their official pages there are songs from all their works.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
Lord Agheros @ Facebook
Lord Agheros @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

 

Posted in Reviews