ANDRAS – Iron Way

ANDRAS – Iron Way








Origin: Germany
Genre: Epic Black Metal Pagan Metal
Label: Einheit Produktionen
Year: 2008

Epic pagan black metallers Andras are back 3 years after their previous effort “…of Old Wisdom”, the album that changed their sound. Their new work continues in the great style of this new Andras era…

The Germans offer us 45 minutes of very melodic well played majestic black metal, with  great variety in their sound. The voice of Ecthelion, even though he still reminds a lot of Vintersorg, is a trademark of the band’s new sound and he sings more with clean vocals than black metal. His voice, and mainly his clean vocals, has a very melancholic, epic expression and I believe it’s improved compared to the previous album “…of Old Wisdom”. The compositions are great, especially in the more bombastic melodic parts and the refrains, that (at least some of them) stay in your mind for quite a long…

Keyboards blend perfectly with the guitars and their importance varies from song to song. The mood changes often from epic to more melancholic or aggressive and the same happens with the tempo of the songs. In my opinion their more melodic symphonic songs are of higher quality, and the song “Pagan Path” is the best of the album. One difference I can find with their previous work, is that the tempo is somehow slower, and the more aggressive parts are reduced…

The production is very professional resulting in a very solid and full sound, where every instrument is at the right level. If you liked their last album you will love this CD. Also fans of melodic pagan black metal won’t be disappointed by this great release. You can visit their myspace profile to listen to some of their songs.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Andras @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

OAKENSHIELD – Gylfaginning

OAKENSHIELD – Gylfaginning








Origin: United Kingdom
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal Viking Metal
Label: Einheit Produktionen
Year: 2008

Another promising debut from a new band, coming from UK. They were formed in 2004 under the name Nifelhel by their one and only member Ben Corkhill and released their first demo “Call of the Gods” in 2005 and the second “Upon the Blood of Ymir” in 2006. Later on, Ben changed the band’s name into Oakenshield and in 2007 the demo “Gylfaginning” was out with 4 songs from the upcoming same titled album, that Einheit Produktionen just released.

The first thing worthy to mention is the really beautiful landscape on the cover of the cd, preparing you for something good! And the first impression is usually correct! Oakenshield’s music is Viking black metal, in mid epic tempo, with many folk Celtic elements and instruments. The compositions are very solid and interesting, unexpectedly good for a first release! The production is at a very satisfying level and the sound is very full: you couldn’t tell that it’s actually a one man’s band! The CD lasts for over one hour with 11 epic compositions that bring into mind great bands of the genre! Ben uses black metal vocals, as well as clean epic ones. His voice is fitting perfectly his music and he is a decent singer (unlike many others in this genre) especially in the clean or choir vocals that he uses on many refrains.

The scales and the tunes of “Gylfaginning”are based on Nordic folk melodies and the lyrics deal with Nordic tales. Many violins and other Celtic instruments help Oakenshield to create this excellent epic Viking atmosphere reminding of bands like Falkenbach or Windir at some times. If this is just the beginning I think we can see many things from this band in the future. A great recommendation for the fans of the genre. Even though it’s just one man’s band there is a great variety in the songs, a really full sound and above all inspiration and quality in music. Check for yourselves in the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.oakenshield.org
Oakenshield @ Facebook
Oakenshield @ Myspace

Originally published n HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

BUTTERFLY TEMPLE – Время Мары

BUTTERFLY TEMPLE – The Times of Mara








Origin: Russia
Genre: Pagan Metal
Label: Irond Ltd Sleaszy Rider Records
Year: 2005

Butterfly Temple is one of my favorite bands. They are from Russia and they are one of the first bands, if not the first, that introduced pagan folk black/doom metal in this huge country with the rich music tradition. They were formed in 1995 and many years later countless bands from Russia followed their steps, with Arkona being the most known of them.

So far all Butterfly Temple releases were by Russian labels (mainly Irond) and they didn’t get very good distribution outside the Baltic lands. “Время Мары – The Times of Mara” was initially released in 2005 by Irond Ltd and now in 2008 is re-released by the Greek label Sleaszy Rider, hoping to get them the distribution they deserve. It is the fifth album of the band and after it they have also released “Following the Sun” in 2006. It is also their first work without the charismatic Alexey “Lesyar” Agafonov (now in Nevid, Kramola, was also in Arkona) in the vocals. He helped though in the composition of 2 songs…

Butterfly Temple was always a very melodic band influenced by Moonspell’s “Wolfheart”, where keyboards have a very important role in the melodies, but their strong card was always the vocals. There is a great mix of black/death screams (so far by Lesyar), many female vocals and Russian choirs, as well as the amazing clean vocals of Abrey, that are somehow a trademark for the band. So now, without Lesyar in the black vocals (Miron took his place), Abrey has the first role and clean vocals are more dominant than ever. Maybe the band lost somehow in it’s strength and brutality, but gained a lot in melody… Another interesting change is the absence of folk elements, that were present in many of their previous works. Anyway the compositions and orchestrations are very good, with a melancholic epic pagan feeling all over them. They have a very personal sound (something really rare in this genre) with excellent vocals and a great variety in the songs. From melodic doom, to epic black metal and almost funeral ballads, all of highest quality. Lyrics are in Russian and the cd comes with bonus multimedia material (video, photos, etc.) There also a hidden track, a live cover of a couple of Moonspell’s songs from “Wolfheart”.

Even though their previous album “Tropoyu Krovi po Vole Roda” is my personal favorite of the band, I can’t give them less than 9. If you like pagan metal and you don’t know them, you lose, they definitely worth a try. You can visit their official page for more info.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.butterflytemple.ru

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

SVARROGH – Yer Su

SVARROGH – Yer Su








Origin: Bulgaria
Genre: Folk Acoustic
Label: Ahnstern - Steinklang
Year: 2008

Svarrogh is a very complex and unique band formed in 2001 by the talented Bulgarian musician Dimo Dimov, who is also the only member of the band. He now lives in Germany, but his love for Bulgarian nature and traditions is obvious in his creations.

Svarrogh begun as a raw black metal band with some folk influences and released their first full length “Baxas Xebesheth 1883” in 2003. Later in 2004 they released their second work “Lady Vitosha” that had a more mainstream sound and Dimo experimented in some folk instruments. The same year miniCD “Bolgaryan Art” appeared and the band introduced a new interesting neofolk acoustic sound. In 2006 Svarrogh released “Kukeri”, an excellent example of pagan folk black metal with many Bulgarian and Balkan traditional instruments, all played by Dimo. This was the best album of Svarrogh in their folk black metal phase. After this album the sound of the band changed a lot and since then all their albums are released from Ahnstern! “Balkan Renaissance” and “Temple of the Sun”, both released in 2007, reveal a totally ambient neofolk ethno industrial face of the band, while all metal elements are vanished. And now in 2008 Svarrogh return with a new full-length album “Yer Su” that I expected it to be a continuation of their last steps, or not?!…

“Yer Su” is ritualistic ancient Bulgarian pagan music, a return to the minimalistic atmosphere of Balkan ancestors. Many traditional instruments like kaval, gaida, gadulka, mandoline, bells, ukelele, ocarinas, snow steps, accordeon, tanpur, tamboura, bagpipes, flutes and clarinets were used in “Yer Su” by the really “gifted” Dimo Dimov, while some guest members were also invited (from Defiles des Ames, Allerseelen and Negura Bunget). The pleasant surprise is that some electric guitars (even if totally in the background) and some extreme vocals are back again. The result is very original and unique; unlike anything you’ve heard before and unlike anything Svarrogh have done so far. I believe it’s their best effort in this marriage of ritual Balkan music with elements of extreme metal, getting very close to the primordial essence of this music. Of course don’t expect to listen to black metal with this release. It’s like “Balkan Renaissance”, just with some extreme metal touches and better (in my opinion) compositions.

The vocals are mainly incantations, and except for the guitars and the folk instruments there are also many nature, ambient and industrial sounds, in a very variable result. Lyrics deal with surrealism and folkloric symbolism in Bulgarian mythology. It’s like a tapestry of ancient Bulgarian landscapes, villages, habits and a whole almost forgotten pagan culture unfolding before your eyes for almost 80 minutes! You can travel to older times and almost smell the forests, the mountains, the lakes, the farms and the old towns…The cd is released in a beautiful digipak with excellent artwork and an amazing cover photo by the Bulgarian artist Haate Kaate.

“Yer Su” isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure! Many people who expect to listen to something in the style of their earlier works maybe won’t appreciate it. But if you are interested for quality ritual folkloric music and you are open in such musical experiments, you should check them and let them take you in their journey through time in magical Balkan lands.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://svarrogh.net
Svarrogh @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

MORGART – Die Türme

MORGART – Die Türme








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Black Tower Productions
Year: 2007

This is the second album of the Swiss band Morgart. Morgart is somehow the continuation of an old black metal band Forsth, that split-up on 1999. Later Gonahr (one of the members of Forsth) decide to create this band. After their impressive debut “Die Schlacht (In Acht Sinfonien)” in 2005, where they played symphonic atmospheric epic medieval black metal, they return with a very different album.

Their music isn’t easy to describe. Maybe the term symphonic operatic blackish metal is the closest, but that’s not very precise… There are many keyboards that have the leading role in the songs with really nice ideas that relax and travel the listener back in time. The guitars are actually accompanying the melodies and the rhythms of the synths and they give a black metal touch to “Die Türme”, even though the vocals never become extreme. There are only clean male vocals and many opera-style singing (only male again). It’s like a lighter version of their previous work, but with this new ambitious experiment in the vocal lines. All the lyrics are in German and they deal with medieval towers from their homeland. Except for their music, Morgart like to search for their nation’s medieval history something that is obvious in the beautiful photos of their booklet and in their lyrics.

Coming to the music itself now, the whole result is very melodic, nostalgic and melancholic. It’s like a dark medieval soundtrack with many great ideas in the melodies and vocals. I believe that the vocals can take some improvement, since it’s not easy to sing this way, but of course they are at a very satisfying level for a first effort! I sure would like to listen to some black metal screams again (I think they still fit their music), but on the other hand, I welcome their new path, that can become better in the future. In their myspace page you can find some samples of their new album (unluckily nothing yet from their excellent debut). Recommended to all who like symphonic experimental music, or to black metal fans who’d like to rest their eardrums for a while…

dimiarch


Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Morgart @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

DARKSPACE – Darkspace III

DARKSPACE – Darkspace III








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Black Metal Space Ambient
Label: Avantgarde Music
Year: 2008

There are some bands that aren’t very well known and when you listen to their music you just can’t understand why they don’t get the “fame” they deserve! Darkspace come from the rather inexperienced in the metal scene Switzerland and they belong to these underestimated bands. Their black metal is simply amazing and very original, while their name fits perfectly the atmosphere they create.

Their thematology deals with outer space in its darkest and ugliest form and they combine ambient and black metal in order to create this atmosphere. The result is excellent and the listener is transferred to alien vast unfriendly eras full of blackness. There are many ambient passages (reduced though, compared to their previous albums) that manage to describe the quiet, tranquil and endless matter of space. On the other hand there are raw black metal outbursts where the unsuspected listener comes face to face with totally alien hostile and cold survival conditions; a true holocaust! Many parts of the songs have a more mid tempo black metal sound and combined with the ambient keyboards’ amazing melodies, a completely unique haunting atmosphere is created. The production is better than their previous two releases (Darkspace I & II) and the vocals are extreme black metal screams like cries of primordial horror. They are perfect for their music and some of the best screams around.

“Darkspace III” is a true masterpiece and I recommend it to anyone who likes cold raw black metal, but with a unique dark melodic atmosphere. The feeling, the quality and the melodies of the compositions are really unquestionable and brilliant, while this album lasts for 79 minutes, including only 7 long songs! Their guitarist Wroth is also the man behind Paysage d’Hiver, another jewel of the underground black metal. The cd is released in normal jewel slipcase and in a limited digipak, which is already sold out. You can check the band in the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (10/10)

Links:
http://www.darkcyberspace.com
Darkspace @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FOLKODIA – Odes From the Past

FOLKODIA – Odes From the Past








Origin: Various
Genre: Epic Black Metal Folk Metal Viking Metal
Label: Self Released
Year: 2008

Folkodia is a new project formed in 2007, containing many musicians from different countries, including Greece, something like Folkearth (actually many members are common in both bands). So, someone could ask if there are any differences between the two bands. Well, there are and for my taste I prefer Folkodia.

The basic composers are Simon Müller from Excelsis and Loki (also in Folkearth), while all the lyrics are written mainly by Marios Koutsoukos. Their music is epic folk Viking metal, with more folk elements than Folkearth. Some songs are more quiet / acoustic and others Viking black. Flutes, violins and other traditional instruments are everywhere, accompanying heavy or acoustic guitars in a medieval / Viking orgy. Especially the violins are enchanting fitting perfectly to the music. There many male singers with different types of vocals, while in the female ones Hildr Valkyrie gives again an excellent performance. The music ranges from heavy metal, black/death and doom to acoustic songs, all of them in their epic folkest versions. Even though it definitely has an underground sound and some “technical” problems the compositions are really nice. After all, in this Viking genre what counts most is this barbarian warrior atmosphere, instead of perfect skills or professional vocals…

If you liked Folkearth, you should invest on Folkodia; you won’t be let down. If you have never heard any of them you should expect epic Viking folk black metal with many “ballads”. The cd is self-released, but it is worldwide distributed by Stygian Crypt Productions, so it’s not that hard to find. You can get a taste of their music and find more info at the following links.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Folkodia @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ARKONA – От Сердца к Небу

ARKONA – Ot Serdtsa K Nebu








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: Napalm Records SoundAge Productions
Year: 2007

Arkona is the most successful Russian pagan black metal band. Leaded by the charismatic front-woman Masha “Scream” they have released 4 full-length albums from 2004 and most of their gigs are sold out. Many guest musicians from the metal and folk scene participate in their albums and their popularity both in Russia and abroad couldn’t be unnoticed, so they signed in Napalm Records for their future releases.

“Ot Serdtsa K Nebu – From the Heart to the Skies” is their fourth album and the last released by SoundAge Productions. It’s a great mixture of pagan black metal and traditional folk Russian music. Mascha’s amazing vocals are the band’s trademark. She has one of the best screams in the genre, while her clean folk vocals are simply perfect. The way she sings in both styles is unique and especially her “ethnic” vocals are like coming from another age, perfectly fitting with the archaic traditional atmosphere of their music. This album has a more folk acoustic approach. Many songs have only acoustic traditional instruments performed by skilled guest folk musicians from Russia, and the ones with guitars follow folk scales and tunes. The structures of the songs are very complex and very hard to define. Don’t expect the typical pagan black metal songs. Actually “Ot Serdtsa K Nebu – From the Heart to the Skies” must be seen as a concept album; like a big track. All the lyrics are in Russian and they speak about pagan ancient Slavic traditions and myths.

The production of the album is excellent and the quality of the music at very high levels. Unlike their previous albums this time they don’t search for catchy refrains, but they experiment more with the essence of their pagan folk music’s roots. The album is released in a normal jewel case cd and in a great digibook with a 28-page booklet! The artwork of the album is by Kris Verwimp and the result is excellent as always. This is a must have of the genre, that I am sure all of their fans already bought. If you don’t know Arkona (don’t confuse them with the Polish raw black metal band, or other bands with the same name) and want to listen to them you can follow the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://arkona-russia.com
Arkona @ Facebook
Arkona @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews