ARATHORN – Treue und Verrat

ARATHORN – Treue und Verrat








Origin: Germany
Genre: Epic Black Metal Folk Metal
Label: Folter Records
Year: 2008

Do you remember Arathorn? Not Tolkien’s character, but the German folk black metal band that released back in 1997 the amazing debut “Niemals Krönender als Was Einst War”. After that album the 3 members of the band split up and the band seemed dead for many years! But Sköll (one of the band’s member) decided that Arathorn should be revived. So in 2004 he recorded and released a demo, and now in 2008 Arathorn’s second album, 11 years after the debut, is reality!

Despite the relatively bad quality of the production and sound, I have to admit that I like this album very much. It is a combination of folk, neo-folk and epic melodic black metal. Most of the vocal-lines are clean with some black metal screams from time to time. Acoustic instruments (mainly guitars) are very dominant, giving a very melodic face to the whole album. In this work the most important thing in my opinion is its melodies. They are all very beautiful, and seem to be composed for a reason; they have something to tell, they convince me it’s a matter of inspiration and not a result of brainstorm…

The atmosphere of the songs is very epic, melancholic with a folk medieval mood. Maybe it’s not something you’ve never heard before (actually you probably have and in much better sound), but it definitely has amazing melodies and a pure true pagan nostalgic spirit that won me from the first listen. After all what counts the most in music (and art in general) is its ability to travel you to “other” places and let your imagination free… If you let your self to Arathorn’s music you won’t regret it.

Anyway I hope they will improve the production next time, as far as it won’t affect the quality of their music. Also I wish it won’t take that long for a new album! You can always visit their myspace page for samples.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Arathorn @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

PAYSAGE D’HIVER – Kristall & Isa

PAYSAGE D’HIVER – Kristall & Isa








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Ambient Black Metal
Label: Kunsthall Produktionen
Year: 2008

This is the fifth album of Paysage d’Hiver the solo project of Wintherr, who is also a member of DarkSpace. He is from Switzerland, and he actually released all of his albums (8 so far, plus a demo and 2 split releases) on tape. Later he decided to re-release all of them one by one on A5 digipak versions by his own label Kunsthall Produktionen. So this is his last release, even though the tape version is from 2001!

What we have here is another excellent album of pure raw black metal, without any compromises. His concept has always to do with winter themes, something you are already prepared for after the amazing frozen landscape in the cover artwork! His black metal makes you feel you are in the middle of a storm, totally frostbitten. By the beginning of the first song “Isa” you feel your ears bleeding just like when the ice and snow penetrates your skin in a cold winter day! Luckily there are also some ambient passages in the songs and two fully ambient tracks, where you find a shelter for a while…

Of course the production and the sound are of demo tape quality, something intentional that fits his music perfectly. There are also some keys in the background, but you can barely listen to them, since everything is too dull! Highly distorted guitars, weird synths, shrieking black metal screams and repetitive melodies are transformed under this strange production into a unique “noise” like a howling wind, so distant and evil, full of bizarre melancholic warmth! It is so difficult to accept and decode it if you are not into it, but it’s definitely ART!

This is a “must” for those who like raw black metal without polished production. It is once again released in a beautiful A5 digipak, like the 4 previous re-releases [Die Festung (1999/2007), Schattengang (1999/2006), Paysage d’Hiver (2000/2007) and Kerker (2000/200Smilie: 8)]. You can listen to some samples in their myspace page and visit their official page.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.kunsthall.ch/e_paysagedhiver.html
Paysage d’Hiver @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

LEGION OF DOOM – The Horned Made Flesh

LEGION OF DOOM – The Horned Made Flesh








Origin: Greece
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Zyklon-B Productions
Year: 2008

The time for the fourth full-length album by one of the oldest Greek black metal bands has come! 3 years after their last work, that was followed by 3 split releases (2 EPs and a CD), their new work entitled “The Horned Made Flesh” is released by the Greek label Zyklon-B Productions.

Legion of Doom was founded in 1990 and they managed to make a good name, mainly in the underground scene always releasing good albums. They had a big break in their discography from 1997 and their second album “For Those of the Blood” until 2005, where their third album “God is Dead” was released. For those who know them, there are no surprises in their new album. They continue to play melodic keyboard based black metal like in their previous album and they are actually very good at it. Soundtrack-like synths have a very important role enriching the sound of the band, while keys have a lead part in the melodies of the songs.

I think it is their most melodic album so far and the band has made a nice work in the compositions. There are some parts in the songs where they are totally instrumental, helping the band to sound darker and more sad. Of course they still remain black metal, especially in the riffs and the great screaming vocals, but mostly in the essence of their music. There are also few clean male incantations that add to the mystic atmosphere of the album. The sound and the production in general could be better, but it’s ok and definitely the best they ever had. The overall result is very solid and the balance between melody and black metal at the right level.

The Horned Made Flesh” is my favorite work from Legion of Doom and it is released in many different formats to chose: LP, CD, slipcase CD, digipak and A5 digibook, all with different covers!! You can get a taste of the band at their myspace profile.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Legion of Doom @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ARKONA – Во Славу Великим!

ARKONA – Vo Slavu Velikim








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: SoundAge Productions Vic Records
Year: 2005

The great success of the biggest Russian folk pagan black metal band and the “name” they created inside and outside Russia lead Vic Records to re-release all their albums, except for the last album that will be re-released by Napalm Records. After the re-release of “Vozrozhdenie” and “Lepta” (initially released in 2004), now it’s the time for Vo Slavu Velikim – For the Glory of the Great Ones” from 2005 that was released by Sound Age Productions.

It is the third album of the band and in my opinion their most solid work. All the great “Arkona” characteristics are here: Masha Scream’s unique vocals changing from black to clean female vocals, amazing folk melodies and traditional instruments… The songs have a more “typical” pagan folk metal structure compared to their next album. The whole album is based on mid tempo melodies with many keys and folk tunes, while the more aggressive parts are less dominant than before. It is really very well written and all of the songs have excellent music and refrains. Every album of Arkona has something different to offer and to focus on. “Lepta” for example had some more brutal parts (with the help of Lesyar) that made it great, “Ot Serdtsa K Nebu” a more experimental mood, while this album’s strong card is its excellent folk melodies! And as I said, compared to their other works the whole album is more balanced with a “particular” solid sound from the beginning to the end. Of course there are also many acoustic and tranquil parts, but they are mixed inside the songs. There is variety in their music but in a smaller scale than in their next album. But they are so good at both albums and ways of composing that it’s really hard to choose… I guess it’s a matter of personal taste.

If you missed this album due to its lack of promotion now it’s your chance to get it much easier. If you don’t know this great pagan folk band here you can listen to them.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

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

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

HOLY BLOOD – The Patriot

HOLY BLOOD – The Patriot








Origin: Ukraine
Genre: Folk Black Metal
Label: Bombworks Records
Year: 2008

Holy Blood is an Ukrainian band that is active from 1999 and they have already released 2 albums (“The Wanderer” in 2002 and “Waves are Dancing” in 2004). Their music is excellent folk black metal and their “characteristic” is that their thematology is about Christianism. They belong to a genre that is called “white”, “un-black” or “Christian” metal, which is around for many years now, with many bands supporting it. The most famous and remarkable might be, if I don’t forget any, Eluveitie, Antestor, Slechtvalk, Kekal and many others. So epic battles of angels against demons, prophets’ visions, fights between good and evil, all are sought from a different perspective in these bands. And if someone expected a more “quiet” and calm approach to these themes, well, Christian history is full of brutality, violence, slaughters and wars…

Coming to the music “The Patriot” is the most aggressive work of Holy Blood so far. It’s fast black metal, with many folk Slavonic melodies and a very epic feeling. Many keys (especially in the form of piano), as well as folk instruments (flutes, acoustic guitars) accompany the furious guitars in a great mix. The singer screams most of the time with an expressive voice full of rage and wrath in the characteristic Ukrainian style, while there are also many amazing clean melodic male and female vocals. The level of the songs is very good, both in the blackest parts and especially in the epic folk melodic tunes (some of the best I’ve heard recently) that stay in you mind! A really great album that lasts only for 37 minutes, but the CD contains also a multimedia section with the video clip of the song “The Patriot”.

If you are interested in good folk black metal, or if you’d like to explore this Christian metal scene, Holy Blood is a nice band to check, another fine example of Slavonic black metal. Find below the links to their official pages.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://holyblood.com.ua
Holy Blood @ Myspace
Holy Blood @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

DARKESTRAH – The Great Silk Road

DARKESTRAH – The Great Silk Road








Origin: Kyrgyzstan
Genre: Folk Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Paragon Records
Year: 2008

Darkestrah is the most known (if not the only one) black metal band from Kyrgyzstan, this unknown to many people Asian land in the western borders of China! They have released 3 great albums in the pagan black metal genre, all of them from No Colours Records and they have a good name in the underground.

Since all their releases so far were more than decent, I expected to listen to something good from their forth effort, but what I found in this album was much more than what I expected! Their pagan black metal is enriched by a folk oriental mood and the result is simply amazing. The concept of the album is about an epic journey from the depths of China to the shores of Syria, passing through all the great different civilizations and cultures in between! They use many traditional oriental instruments in their songs and the guitar lines are based on eastern scales, retaining though their epic black metal orientation. The 4 compositions (there is also an outro) are very long and they stay in mid-tempo rhythms most of time, with some tranquil and some “wilder” parts.

One other trademark of Darkestrah is the black metal female vocals of Kriegtalith, who is one of the best singers of the genre, with the perfect balance of emotion, rage, and expression, being both extreme and “bearable” at the same time… Combined with the brilliant melodies of the guitars and keyboards, as well as the excellent oriental touch of folk instruments, they create a unique atmosphere. They manage to compose a masterpiece that combines better than any effort of other bands of the genre black metal and traditional eastern music and scales. Through their music you can feel the ascetic loneliness of nomads, travel with caravans in endless deserts and participate in unknown culture’s rituals.

For me it’s one of the top 5 albums I’ve listened in 2008 and I totally recommend it to any fan of epic pagan black metal. If you also like oriental exotic folk approach in metal, then buy it with no second thought. The melodies, the quality and the sound of the band is close to perfection! It is released by Paragon Records in a beautiful digipak, with a nicely illustrated booklet, following the eastern atmosphere of the music. You can listen to their music at the following links.

dimiarch

Rating:  (10/10)

Links:
http://www.darkestrah.vze.com
Darkestrah @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

TVERD – Follow the Sun’s Way

TVERD – Follow the Sun's Way








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: CD-Maximum
Year: 2008

It was 2007 when Pagan Reign, one of the best Russian folk pagan black metal bands, decided to split-up. The loss is great, but at least two of its members (Vetrodar and Demosthen) formed a new band Tverd, that is ready to take Pagan Reign’s place in our hearts.

Even though Tverd’s sound is very close to Pagan Reign’s there are also many differences. The overall sound of the guitars and the rich orchestration full of folk instruments (pipes, flutes, reeds, whistles, zhaleyka, domra, mandolin and authentic percussion) reminds a lot of Pagan Reign. The big difference is in the vocals though, where Tverd’s main vocalists are academic opera singers (Alexandr Ivanov & Svetlana Lebedeva). There are also few black metal screams left, but only in a couple of songs. These songs are excellent and I believe their combination of extreme and clean vocals is amazing, so I wish they will use them again, hopefully more extensively, in their future works. Generally Tverd is like a lighter version of Pagan Reign with more emphasis on melody.

All of the compositions are very good, with excellent folk tunes and scales, while the operatic vocals work perfectly! They have of course a more folk approach than classic opera singing and sometimes the female vocals become totally traditional! No need to mention that both singers are very good, unlike Pagan Reign’s clean vocals in their older works… All the lyrics are in Russian and they display their deep regard for their nation, history, culture and native Slavonic beliefs. There is no room for melancholy and sadness in their folk metal, but only pride and a very “positive” feeling, full of life, energy and “pagan” mood. This is reflected also in the colorful 24-page booklet with amazing paintings of Slavonic traditional, fantasy and epic themes. Everything is really well played and the production perfect!

I am very pleased with Vetrodar’s decision to form Tverd and I hope they will release many more albums. This is a very original and interesting band, that deserves the attention at least of all folk metal fans. You should visit their official pages and find more about this great band.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.tverd.com
Tverd @ Myspace
Tverd @ VK

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

OBTEST – Gyvybës Medis

OBTEST – Gyvybës Medis








Origin: Lithuania
Genre: Pagan Metal
Label: Ledo Takas Records Osmose Productions
Year: 2008

Obtest is an old band from Lithuania. They exist from 1992 and this is their fourth full-length album, although they count also many EPs. Except for their debut “Tukstantmetis” where they were more black metal influenced, they have built a very personal sound on all their other releases, and they try to perfect it with their last effort “Gyvybës Medis”.

Even though they are usually referred to as pagan black metal band, I believe that blackened war metal would be more appropriate to describe their music. Their sound is very epic and bombastic, while the guitars remind more of a heavy metal band. The riffing is simple, but with melodies that stay in your mind, with small refrains that are repeated many times in each song and with many melodic well-played guitar solos. The vocals are a mixture of epic and black metal singing and all the lyrics are in Lithuanian, dealing with local legends and ancient pre-christianic pagan tales. The result is very epic war-songs that could raise your “army’s” moral and help you crash your enemies…

If you have never listened to Obtest before you will find this cd very original, but if you’ve heard “Auka Seniems Dievams” or “Iš Kartos Į Kartą” the surprise element is gone. Of course the album is very good, with better production and maturity, and it is released in many different formats. Except for normal jewel case cd, it is also available in digipak format and in A5 deluxe digibook with the band’s biography (only in Lithuanian though), and even in picture LP. You can visit Obtest’s official pages to listen with your own ears.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.obtest.lt
Obtest @ Facebook
Obtest @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews