ETHER Depraved, Repressed, Feelings (Sepulchral Productions) cd 13.98
ETHEREAL WOODS In The Forest Of Arden (Supernal) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We're slowly working our way through the blackened back catalog of the mighty Supernal label. They've been responsible for some of our all time favorite black metal weirdness (Benighted Leams, Fleurety, Meads Of Asphodel) as well as some seriously intense grim blackness (Drudkh, Hate Forest) and all sorts of gorgeous ambient dronemusick as well (M87, Dark Ages, Fall Of The Grey Winged One). Ethereal Woods falls somewhere between the first two. They are definitely bizarre, strange arrangements, weird production, seriously unique sound, but at the same time they definitely have a traditional black thrash going on in there as well. Ethereal Woods are some sort of Eco-black metal band from the UK, their unique brand of buzzing loping blackened thrash is rife with "dreamy mysticism and sylvan sensibilities", which is also represented in their song titles, band name, lyrics and the legend across the back of the cd stating: "Ethereal Woods support the campaign to protect rural England!" And what better way to do that than by unleashing a strange black musical concoction equal parts fuzzed out guitars, simple spacey riffing, mournful arpeggiated melodies, bizarre growled vocals way up in the mix and lots and lots of dizzying circus-y keyboards swirling and warbling and whirring. While they do occasionally bust out some series black blasts, they tend to sort of hover between doomy dirge and sort-of-groovy midtempos, sounding sometimes like a more blackened, more moody and miserable Khold. The rhythms have a sort of seasick waltz feel to them, very hypnotic, and while the guitars buzz blackly, more often they just sort of drone beneath dreamy sad sounding melodies, with the keyboards drifting like black clouds, giving the proceedings a strangely epic slant. Quite cool, and as you might expect from Supernal, pretty weird too...
"The Withered Oak" MPEG Stream:
"A Prophecy Of War" MPEG Stream:
"The Honour In The Stars"
ETHEREAL WOODS Kenilworth (Supernal) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We've always been pretty into Ethereal Woods and their twisted strain of eco-black metal. But regardless of their political agenda or lyrical themes, their root sound was something much more raw and immediate, a sort of blackened thrash, not super furious and fast, and not really super fucked up, more sort of pounding and loping and midtempo, but EW most definitely do have their specific peculiarities (are there any bands on Supernal who don't?), and that stuff is fully evident here. "Approaching The Castle By Night" begins all moody and minor key, a sort of brooding intro before the band launch into some seriously heavy thrashing black metal. A bit chaotic, and fiercely furious, the drums wild and off kilter, the vocals weirdly sung / grunted, complete with a cool crunchy chugging breakdown, until the band whip out the synths and head heavenward with a stretch of swirling waltzy epic pomp, the drums suddenly a shuffle the guitars strumming beneath the soaring synths, and then back again, as if that was just some Mr. Hyde shit, it won't happen again. But oh it will. Again and again, and that's precisely what makes this record, and Ethereal Woods more than just some British black thrash outfit. "Le Plesannz En Mary" begins with another surprisingly melodic intro, some post rocky blissy guitars over tangled tribal drumming, and then some super dramatic Goblin-y synths, before slipping back into something a bit more black metal. But even then the arrangements are fractured and not at all typical, a bit mathy, and a bit fucked up. Then there's "An Elizabethan Fantasy", that begins like some warped power pop jam, before settling into a more blackly dour groove, but never quite shedding that strange hooky intro. The drums here are especially strange, stuttery and hiccuppy and skittery. And once the song really gets rolling, there are all sorts of strange dynamic stops and starts, a really damaged sort of lurching post doom or something. And so it goes for the rest of the record, plenty of weirdly poppy blackness, lots of warped keyboards, those gruff growly vocals draped over soaring epic guitars, and tangled up with strange stumbling drums, culminating in what might just be our favorite track, "Woodnymph", a sprawling 10 minute epic, whose main refrain is a ridiculously catchy ascending reach-for-the-heavens sort of majestic riff, paired with really abstract drumming, and a killer Sabbathy groove in-between, but that's only the beginning, over the next 10 minutes the track shifts from blissed out shoegazy doom, to lumbering crunchy chug, the total furious black thrash, and finally back to that awesome opening riff. Way recommended, but only for those who like their black metal warped and twisted and poppy and pretty much not that black at all...
"Approaching The Castle By Night" MPEG Stream:
"Le Plesannz En Marys" MPEG Stream:
"An Elizabethan Fantasy"
ETHEREAL WOODS Thickthorn (Supernal) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
"Nocturnal Illusions" MPEG Stream:
"Landscapes From The Past"
EVERWINTER Final Victory (Antinomian) cd 11.98
EXALTED We Are The Grim Throng (Battle Kommand) cd 6.66
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This is one grim throng indeed (not thong!). No long songs, no fucked up weirdness, no insane vocals, no retarded riffage, as much as we love all that stuff, we also love intense blasts of frenzied blackened fury. Blast beats so fast they sound like drum rolls, riffing so buzzy and intense it almost sounds like white noise. Vocals buried in the mix, just another layer of buzz and hum, short sharp bursts of super intense blackness. Grim. True. Kvlt. That's what you get with the grim throng that is Exalted. A relentless barrage of brutal thrashing old school raw black metal. But just because it's not outwardly weird, doesn't mean there isn't strange stuff going under beneath the surface. Plenty of convoluted arrangements, angular atonal riffage, super dynamic arrangements, strange stretches of blown out ambience, where just the blast beat stutters beneath streaks off feedback, there's even some cowbell in there if you listen close. But if you're looking for ultra weird or fucked up this is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you like it raw and black and heavy, and are looking for something old school but a little twisted, Exalted are just interesting and off kilter enough to keep this from being just another batch of retro black thrash, instead offering up a roiling black mass of sound and fury, that we've been listening to like crazy since it first came in!
"Blood Magick" MPEG Stream:
"And The Cinders Tell The Tale"
EXORDIUM In Wrath Principle (Northern Heritage) cd 6.66
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. There's something about Finnish black metal that just kills us. Always. Every time. Horna obviously, but also Clandestine Blaze, Vordr, Ride For Revenge, Circle Of Ouroborus, Behexen, Satanic Warmaster, Jumalhamara... and as you can tell by that list, none of those bands really sound like any of the others, but still, they all somehow manage to sound distinctly Finnish. However, within that expansive Finnish BM sound there is most definitely a distinct subset, one that is particularly grim and frosty and buzzy and blasting, furious and frenetic, which is where Exordium comes in. Their s/t cd from a while back got short shrift here for some reason, but we did flip for their tracks on the Crushing The Holy Trinity comp. It may have been the first time we had heard them, and we described their sound thusly: "Super white hot hyperdistorted buzz guitar, lightning fast blast beats, killer riffs, the whole thing blown out and recorded so hot the speakers can barely handle it!" Which pretty much still applies, if anything the sound has just gotten more refined, tighter, more polished, but without losing any of their grimnity. Think maybe a little old Satyricon, a bit of early Immortal, some Beherit for sure, but all wound up and revved up and supercharged, even introducing a bit of Khold like groove here and there. Pure buzzing blackened Northern darkness just the way we like it.
"Nocturnal King" MPEG Stream:
EXTINCTION Down Below The Fog (Todestrieb) cd 13.98
The last Extinction record, long sold out before we were able to get any copies for the store, was one of those bleak ambient non-metal metal records. Slow motion expanses of utter abject black dirgedrone doom. A tarpit sludge full of smears of black guitar and demonic shrieks. Think Abruptum, Stalaggh, Emit and other like minded black ambient artists. So that's sort of what we were expecting when we managed to get this new Extinction. And the opening track had us convinced we were right. A chaotic stumbling storm of angular guitars, huge crumbling downtuned riffs, howled and moaned vocals, huge rhythmic pounds, super demented and damaged sounding. We were prepared to settle back for a whole record of similar sounding black bliss. But the second track knocked us flat, exploding into a lurching minor key stumble, with strange arpeggiated guitars, thrashing drums, raspy black vocals, but all of those typically black metal elements are set in a swirling black morass of blown out, super saturated black sonic clouds. So dense and blurry and fuzzed out it's sometimes impossible to pick out individual instruments, just a massive fiery be-spiked and bloodied blur. The rest of the record barrels along like that, some epic hooved black metal beast, huge bat wings flung behind it, teeth crusted with the blood of the vanquished, an ultra thick onslaught of pure demonic black energy. We haven't heard a black metal so distorted and so dangerously close to collapsing into utter and complete noise since Gorgoroth's The Destroyer. And that is mighty praise indeed. The final track revisits the opener's sonic black pit of teeth gnashing and shrieking souls, another abstract swirl of deconstructed black chaos with collapsing riffs and slowly rotting melodies. So fucking great.
"The Fusion Of Blood And Fire" MPEG Stream:
"Down Below The Fog" MPEG Stream:
"In The Shadow Of The Moon"
F.T.Y.K.P. Number Five magazine 4.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Awesome local black metal zine from the folks in Bone Awl. This is seriously grim, cult, underground shit. The name of the zine alone should give you your first clue, an acronym for Fall To Your Knees Pissing. Oof. Loads of amazing interviews, bleak and nihilistic and bizarre, including tons of bands you've never heard but probably need to! Bands featured include Pest (from Germany), Ashdautus, Goatlord, Nuit Noire, Vpaahsalbrox, Finnish black metallers Dead Reptile Shrine (the weirdest black metal band ever, whose records are out of print, but we are trying desperately to track down, even if it means re-releasing it ourselves!), Tudor from the Czech Republic, a bunch of record reviews and even a cool little Goatlord photocopied poster style insert!
FALL Samozalracenie (Temple Of Torturous) cd 10.98
FALLS OF RAUROS The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood (Bindrune) cd 12.98
Latest full length (#3) from this US black metal band, who hail from deep in the woods of Maine, and whose lyrical focus seems to be nature, and man's eternal struggle to find his place in it. In fact, according to Encyclopedia Metallium, the band describe their music as "North Appalachian Heathen Black Folk Metal" and firmly believe in "returning the world to a pre-Christian time", and they include a quote in the liner notes from Henry David Thoureau from his The Maine Woods. And sonically, it's probably just what you might imagine, epic and sprawling and melodic, the songs majestic and multi-parted, the guitars buzzy and blackened, but just as likely to unfurl glorious spiraling melodies, to soar and shimmer, the band building their expansive folk metalscapes gradually, the slow build adding a post rock element to the sound that only makes it that much more epic. One thing they do that's super distinctive is occasionally during the folky acoustic bits, is to have the drummer play crazy beats, it's a strange, but very appealing hybrid, flurries of double kick blast beats beneath otherwise darkly contemplative folk music. But the core of their sound is epic black buzz, and these guys definitely are masters, weaving all manner of mournful melody into these gorgeous expanses of minor key black buzz, just check out "Banished" about 4 minutes in, the song shifts and becomes impossibly catchy and melodic, the harmonized leads so perfect, and most of the tracks feature some sort of lead guitar, which definitely adds a super melodic element to the otherwise often quite grim and black proceedings. For a folk metal band, FoR do seem to keep their metal and folk separate for the most part, leaving the acoustic guitars and folky flutter, for intros and interludes, they do occasionally deftly weave some of that folkiness into their black buzz, but unlike lots of cheesy folk metal bands, FoR make that hybrid just add more power and energy and emotion to the sound, nothing cheesy about it at all. There are definitely shades of Seidr, Drudkh, Agalloch, Wolves In The Throne Room, Wodensthrone and other nature minded black metal hordes, but FoR definitely make this sound their own, an epic powerful melodic sonic majesty that few bands could hope to match. WAY recommended.
"Earth's Old Timid Grace" MPEG Stream:
"Banished" MPEG Stream:
FALSE Untitled (Howling Mine / Gilead Media) lp 14.98
First we've heard from this American black metal outfit, and it's a doozy, two 12+ minute tracks of epic, progged out, subtly symphonic, synth laden black buzz, that melds classic old school Scandinavian style BM with more modern post black metalisms, fans of groups like Ash Borer, Fell Voices and even Wolves In The Throne Room will find much to dig here. The first side, "Sleepmaker", is a tangled furious relentless sprawl of black metal, liberally infused with distinctly un-black metal like melodies, giving some of the parts a post rock vibe, but the buzz and blast really never lets up, keeping even the post rockier bits plenty blackened, the sound soaring and epic, slipping easily from gnarled churn to frantic majestic blast and back again. There are LOTS of parts, weird psychedelic mathy workouts, woozy tripped out almost folky interludes, there even seems to be some piano in there (in addition to the swirling synths that seem to subtly underpin the whole record), and some grinding blackened noise rock, but all woven into something definitely black metal, which we would imagine where the band name comes in, beating true grim black metalheads to the punch by already declaring themselves False. But this stuff is anything but... The second track/side starts out more waltzy, but quickly slips back into a similarly gnarled black expanse, the vibe somehow even more epic than the A side, the haunting descending melodies, the weirdly epic arrangements, all very trance like and mesmerizing, there's also some chugging dirgey doom / sludge (which makes sense as this was released on the label run by Louisiana heavies Thou), but those creeping tarpit crawls quickly splinter into frenzied mathed out black metal tangles, and then sometimes soaring swirling atmospheric post black metal blowouts. Another group to add to the ever expanding pantheon of elite USBM bands pushing the boundaries of the sound, while remaining true to the music's heritage. 180 gram lp, in super thick, super striking jackets, with a cool printed insert with lyrics.
"The Key Of Passing Suffering" MPEG Stream:
FANISK Die and Become (Stellar Winter) cd 13.98
FANISK III: Insularum (Darker Than Black) cd 10.98
A couple lists back we reviewed the most recent full length from Northwestern black metal one man band Eldrig, whose sound was, and continues to be essentially a super epic, ultra majestic power metallized take on black metal. And it's a sound we can't seem to get enough of. But Eldrig is in fact the solo project one one half of this band right here Fanisk, whose third full length just arrived, their first in TEN years. And very much like 2003's Noontide, full length number three continues to meld grim black buzz, to soaring melodic symphonic heaviness, incorporating all manner of folkiness and psychedelia, some passages downright experimental, but somehow sonically in keeping with the whole, just check out the strange orchestral cinematic breakdown in "Departure Rose Garden", and the way the strange energy of that interlude bleeds right into the black buzz of the song proper. While not quite as melodic or overtly 'power metal' sounding as Eldrig, it's easy to draw comparisons between the two groups, as many parts here could easily have ended up on an Eldrig record. But Fanisk is definitely its own beast, and is obviously a collaboration, but listening to the first track here, it's dizzying how dense and lush and elaborate the music here is, and it becomes plain to see why it took ten years to complete these three tracks. From furious frantic blasting blackness, to soaring black buzz majesty, to dense tangled mathy progginess, some parts downright poppy, others as grim as it gets, often falling somewhere gloriously right in between. The are cool ambient parts that almost sound new agey, pizzicato stings that remind us of that song "sail away sail away sail away', but in this context sound more dramatic than cheesy, and others that pair clean emotional vocals with soaring slow build Godspeed like post rock arrangements for a sound even MORE epic. There are cool stretches of Tangerine Dream like synth swirl, and others that seem to be just the sound of surf or wind, or at least a sort of blurred static simulating such. The arrangements don't balk at going from lightning fast blast, to churning doomy plod, to midtempo post rock like lope and back again, and somehow, there's some overarching logic that ties it all together into what is a seriously epic sonic undertaking. While some of this may be too melodic for the troo grim hordes, we'd be hard pressed to think of any metalhead who wouldn't be totally blown away by Fanisk's atmospheric black metal epics, and we had sort of forgotten how fucking incredible these guys were. In a review online we saw someone mention that this should give My Bloody Valentine's mbv record a run for its money as comeback of the year, and we'd definitely have to agree!
"Departure Rose Golden" MPEG Stream:
FARSOT Insects (Lupus Lounge / Prophecy) cd 13.98
We never reviewed the debut from German black metal outfit Farsot, though we should have, and this new one is kicking our asses big time (in retalitation?). From the beginning of the first track, these guys unfurl something that manages to be furious and fierce, but also pretty weird and tripped out. Some classic riffing, super aggressive and intense, combined with some woozy wandering basslines, some deep crooned vox and some bizarre samples, eventually some more 'proper' black metal vokills come in, but somehow it doesn't make the sound any more black, instead the music shifts too, and the sound becomes way more melodic, rife with cool guitar licks and layered chant-like vocals, the song shifting from propulsive pound, to churning slow build chug, to epic cinematic soar, it's a weird combination for sure, and one that's pretty difficult to describe, but we're loving it. The sound is incredible, the production massive, the band sound huge, and fucking intense, and that's just the first song. The second track starts out all doomy and proggy, lurching start/stop arrangement and weird angular melodies, and even when the song kicks in proper, the guitars are weirdly droney and blurred into tranced out mesmer, creating a sound that's somewhere between grim blackness, and some sort of post black metal. There's also some clean guitar, and an ambient interlude, lots of melody, some cool slow burn psychedelia, all of which is why these guys get pegged as post black metal, which they most definitely are, but the connotations of that classification might obscure the fact of just how heavy and weird and still pretty black metal these guys really are. The more we listen to this, the more we're reminded of a WAY heavier and way more black metal Ved Buens Ende, if that makes any sense, the same sort of twisted take on BM, definitely cut from the same sonic cloth, but with their own unique modern twist on black metal, which just so happens to include plenty of classic metal riffing, all sorts of different clean vocals, lots of atmosphere, and mathy repetition, some loping meandering post rock rhythms, a bit of clean guitar jangle, some awesome abstract guitar drone drift, but ultimately, all woven into some seriously dense and dark metal. We dig A LOT.
"Like Flakes Of Rust" MPEG Stream:
"Empyrean" MPEG Stream:
FASTEST Theme (self-released) cd-r 9.98
It's been a boom in outsider music these last few weeks at AQ, first it was the random rediscovery of Doug Hream Blunt's Gentle Persuasion, a fantastic and fantastically strange disc of breezy lo-fi outsider funk, that was dropped off by the man himself and required quite a bit of reconnoitering to track him down to get more (a continuing saga). And now there's this. A mysterious disc by a one man band known simply as Fastest, a cd-r that just showed up here one day, and none of us can remember how or when. In the mail? Dropped off? Spontaneous generation? It was just here one day, and we were mesmerized from the second we laid eyes on it. The cover is a huge blue owl against a blue background. The band name Fastest is written in big green letters, in a sort of cartoonish metal font, and superimposed right on the cover is a big barcode. The whole thing printed out on a home laser printer. The tray card folds all the way up around the side so there's an extra panel visible through the clear tray that boldly proclaims: "digital audio compact disc - state of the art phonorecord." The tray card features the ASCAP logo (ASCAP is the company that determines musician royalties) no less than three times, the logo is superimposed again on the back in a little white square, and at the top, blue text explains that the record was "Produced by Daemaeen Hephaestus Chastical". We were almost afraid to throw it on, because we were convinced that there was no way the music could live up to the cryptic promise of the packaging. We were wrong. The title track starts things off, and immediately you know this is like nothing you've ever heard... a flurry of lo-fi distorted programmed beats, that sound like they could have been lifted straight off that Vijaya Anand Dance Raja Dance Bollywood compilation on Luaka Bop from years back, but any resemblance to Bollywood ends there, as some strange atonal midi synth guitars swoop in, along with some woozy warbly bass, the strangely syncopated programmed beats sputtering wildly in the background, the song slipping into a moody drift, the vocals a strange ominously hushed whisper, that even remind us a bit of the slowed down mush mouthed rapping of Sensational, eventually there's a sort of chorus, the midi guitars buzzing, while a strange synth unfurls a twisted melody, and then there's the most brilliantly baffling break, a stop/start flurry of stuttering beats, and some more warped woozy melodies, eventually joined by a sort of midi guitar least, atonal and detuned, the whole thing sounding like it's melting before your ears, before finally returning to the 'chorus'. Holy shit. What just happened? What is this? How had we not heard this before? Very reminiscent in fact of those absurd midi guitar releases we raved about on lists past, all of them work of a single man, released under different names: Shevelreq, Xynfonica, Gluttony, Thursar. If you were as into those as we were, stop reading and buy this now. Everyone else, read on, and sink deeper into the glorious musical madness that is Fastest... The first song is so perfect, and perfectly demented, we dared not go on. We just kept listening to that one song over and over and over. Heck we wanted it to be OUR theme song. But eventually we knew we had to go on, and somehow, Fastest managed to confuse us again. And again. After some simulated jet engine sounds, "Jet Sound II" begins, but it's super melodic and all 8 bit sounding, and reminds us of music from The Legend Of Zelda, but those vocals, dark and ominous, weirdly offset the cheerful melodies and loping programmed rhythms. "Televise" begins with sample bells, and immediately returns us to The Legend Of Zelda, until the vocals come in, locked in tight with the main melody, making for some strange electronic lo-fi midi-pop mystery. "While You're Here" might be our other favorite (if we were forced to pick), with it's haunting melody, over minor key distorted finger picked guitar, tinkling chimes, very cinematic, again like some dramatic moment in a video game, but definitely dark and haunting, but of course, the song slips right back into some Zelda-y minimal 8 bit balladry, replete with those slightly ominous gruff vocals. "Million Lies" begins with some dramatic syncopated start/stop dynamics, before slipping into some pulsing electronic groove, but this time, the vocals are super distorted, and even more creepy, and the drums erupt into little flurries of rhythmic tangle. And so it goes, the sound drifting from Bollywood flecked 8 bit video game soundtrack songsmithery, to eighties style midi driven synthwave, and some hard to describe stops in between, culminating in the final three tracks, maybe the darkest and heaviest of the bunch. "Seasons Change" is all distorted bass, stereo panned so the buzz flits from ear to ear, the drums spastic and skittery, the vocals as grim and ominous as at any point, the melodies creepy and minor key, which leads right into "Alter Fate" all swirling synths and stuttery almost IDM sounding beats, the whole thing blurry and smeary, before slipping back into the dirgey synthy creep of the previous track, a sort of second movement, laced with more strange disembodied high end melodies over the tumbling drum fills and more gruff whispery vox, finally culminating in "The Wind", which begins with appropriately enough, swirling wind, distorted acoustic guitar, a gauzy patina of lo-fi buzz, before finally launching into a tense stretch of buzzing swirling electronic weirdness, the various chunks of low end fuzz and warped melodies, adding some serious pathos, growing ever more distorted and finally finishing in a blaze of super distorted programmed beats, chaotic and noisy and psychedelic, before winding down with more acoustic guitar. Absolutely baffling and disturbing brilliantly, total genius outsider mystery music, this is the sort of thing groups like Gary War and Ariel Pink are striving for, but just can't ever quite reach. Fantastically idiosyncratic, highly personal, and completely warped and cracked and demented and literally unlike anything you've heard. It's not hard to imagine this finding its way onto one of those incredible strange music comps or one of those Songs In The Key Of Z collection, it's certainly divisive, it's definitely too much for some folks, so be warned, this is strange strange stuff. But folks around here have become a bit obsessed, and can't seem to get enough. Which is good, cuz there are at least THREE other cd-r's. If you decide you need those too, just ask...
"Theme" MPEG Stream:
"Televise" MPEG Stream:
"Million Lies" MPEG Stream:
FATHER BEFOULED / HELCARAXE Ruination Of The Heavenly Communion (Enuleation) cd 13.98
FAUNA Rain (Aurora Borealis) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Hailing from the same Cascadian forest that Wolves In The Throne Room call home, come the mysteriously monickered Fauna, with their 2006 demo, Rain, available on cd for the first time. Much like WITTR, these guys traffic in a sort of naturalistic black metal, focusing on rain, the earth, the forest, the spirits, nature in general, creating a sound that is meant to evoke massive forests looming overhead, of flora and of course fauna, snow glowing blow beneath the moonlight, branches glistening and glimmering in the falling rain, the record begins with what could very well be the sound of the forest, a field recording of wind, and insects, leaves and footsteps, running water... until finally a lone guitar begins its funereal fugue, minor key, loping and lugubrious, a bit mournful and melancholy. Eventually the guitars grow more intense, strummed instead of picked, a deep voice emerges, a rich, mournful croon, and so it goes, a dark brooding forest folk, lush with reverb and delay, the guitars intense and dramatic, very reminiscent of Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat, when suddenly, the track explodes and the band is blowing out a frenzied blast of furious black metal buzz, mesmerizing, trancelike, repetitive, the riffs totally blown out and drenched in distortion, the drums a relentless blast, which goes on for minutes, before the track shifts again, and the band lurch into a sort of lumbering blackened doom, super dynamic with lots of space, weirdly hypnotic and circular sounding, just a dark tangle of distorted guitar, until the drums join in again. But instead of blasting, the track slips into more of a woozy dirge, thick and warm and dense, for just a two piece, these guys can create a seriously expansive sound, after a few minutes, they explode back into frenzied motion, the blast even faster than before, so distorted and blown out it's almost like a blackened blur, the vocals a harsh bellow, the blast gradually breaking down again, until the duo are back to that hauntingly melodic doom-ic lurch, before finishing off in a blast of staticky buzz, leaving just a smear of warm soft chords, which slowly and dreamily drift into the darkness beyond. One of the two members of Fauna also plays in pagan doom folk outfit Alethes, which makes perfect sense in the context of Rain, and the influence of their WITTR neighbors can definitely be heard throughout, but Fauna definitely make that sound their own, mixing long stretches of doomy folkiness with intensive blasts of blackened fury, and peppering the proceedings with bits of sprawling doom, and shimmery ambience, to create their own sonic representation of the forest they call home. Gorgeous packaging too, black on black origami style fold over cardstock sleeve, with a simple booklet featuring just the lyrics and no other info. Cool.
"Rain (Excerpt 1)" MPEG Stream:
"Rain (Excerpt 2)"
FAUNA The Hunt (Aurora Borealis) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Record number two from these Cascadian black metallers, originally released in 2007, now remastered and partially re-recorded, replacing the original electronic drums with live drumming, and dividing the original hour plus epic into more manageable song length tracks, while still playing out as one single sprawling black metal naturescape. Not sure what the deal is with these guys, they've obviously been around since 2006, when their debut Rain was originally released, but since 2007, we've heard nothing new, only the eventual re-release of their first two records. Not that we're complaining, well, okay, maybe we're complaining a little, but only cuz we want more, and are dying to hear what these guys sound like circa NOW. But The Hunt will hold us over for now, like Rain before it, an expansive blackened collage of murky blasting blackness, and slow creeping ambient dronemusic, often lumped in with their Cascadian brethren Wolves In The Throne Room, and while there are definitely similarities, they tread markedly different sonic paths. WITTR channel the majestic blackness of SF legends Weakling, taking that sound and infusing it with their own naturalistic take on BM, adding female vocals, folky acoustic guitars, and plenty of polish, while Fauna seem to lurk in the shadows, with a sound more immediate and intimate, almost feral sounding at times, the drone element key to their sound, the black blasts are trancelike and mesmerizing, the ambient stretches expansive and haunting, the sound even here, gussied up and remastered, still sounds more DIY and punk than Wolves, and it suits them, the ferocity of the forest primeval, mixed with the mysterious tranquility of the endless night. The Hunt is a blackened journey, a moonlit creep, ominous and drifting like some black fog, giving way to explosive fury, passionate howling and blasting metal, that slips into woozy melodic doominess, as easily as crushing grim blackness, in fact much of the heaviness on display leans toward a more melodic melancholia, spidery minor key guitars weaving together stretches of foresty folk and blasts of frenzied riffage, sometimes locking into dynamic doomish mathiness, but just as easily transforming that into churning gnarled black metal pound. The final two parts here might be Fauna's finest moment, a dizzying tangle of stop start riffing, tense and dramatic, giving way to the moody final movement, a dirgey drift, with soaring vocals buried beneath the crumbling minor key distortion, melodic and mournful, peppered with furious blown out blasts, laced with acoustic guitars, finally fading out leaving just the sounds of the forest. Swank packaging too, black on black origami style cardstock sleeve, with a printed black on black cardstock insert.
"The Hunt I" MPEG Stream:
"The Hunt II" MPEG Stream:
"The Hunt IV" MPEG Stream:
"The Hunt VII"
FEAR OF ETERNITY Ancient Symbolism (Moribund) cd 16.98
"Fragments Of Wisdom" MPEG Stream:
"Tale Of Prophecy"
FEAR OF ETERNITY Funeral Mass (Moribund) cd 14.98
"Evil Premonition" MPEG Stream:
FELL VOICES s/t (Human Resources) lp 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We'd been hearing about these guys for ages, a trio from Santa Cruz who were apparently mixing raw thrashing black buzz a la Bone Awl with sprawling epic arrangements, as in songs going on 20, sometimes 30 minutes. So here we have their debut full length, a two song lp, two tracks, each filling up an entire side, one nearly 19 minutes, the other more than 21 minutes, and right out of the gate they explode into a frenzy of blasting beats and blurred insectoid riffing, growled demonic vocalizing, but over the course of these songs, the band explore all sorts of variations, slipping into loping mathy post rock, soaring epic Norwegian style majesty, doomic d-beat pounding, lurching stop / start breakdowns, long stretches of ominous ambience, lumbering Burzumic crush, slow burning distortion drenched drift, all held together with consistent elements that lead one part to another, streaks of buzz, minimal mysterious guitar figures, the sound of rain, droning bits of serpentine guitar. It's more than just long songs created by glomming shorter songs together. These tracks are expertly arranged and composed, the move with mood and purpose, melodies disappear only to resurface later, parts shift and twist and become repurposed, there are refrains, but there are also parts that appear once and are gone. The B-side starts out like some sort of black drone record, heaving sheets of crumbling distorted buzz, woozy and wavery, before the band explodes into yet another flurry of soaring guitars and pounding rhythms, this time though it's all tension and no release, like the most dramatic part of some Godspeed epic translated into epic blackness, until the band finally slip into something more classically BM, but only just, this song/side too is a convoluted path, serpentine and impossible to predict, with some incredible surprisingly un-BM at times drumming, amazing catchy riffs, and the ambience this time relegated to near the end of the track, the furious blasting giving way to some haunting spectral drift, taking forever to fade out completely, instead, blasting at a barely audible level, just below the seemingly tranquil surface, eventually disappearing completely, leaving the track to wind down gently, with a languid, darkly pretty final few minutes. So awesome. Fell Voices are definitely a band folks into Weakling and Wolves In The Throne Room and Fauna and all that sort of sprawling epic blackness should check out. A new favorite of the black hordes around here for sure...
FELL VOICES s/t (2008 Demo) (Analog Worship) lp 12.98
Yet ANOTHER self titled record from the Fell Voices / Ash Borer black metal axis, which makes it even more difficult to keep track of which is what, but this one IS subtitled 2008 demo, and as that would rightfully lead you to believe this is FV's 2008 demo, previously available only on cassette, on vinyl for the first time, and the packaging is swank and deluxe, but more on that in a second. This is FV's very first recording ever, and as such, demonstrates two things, one, a much more lo-fi sound quality, and two, an already fully formed sound, that the band would hone on subsequent records, the sound quality and recording fidelity improving as they went, that said, even with a more raw sound, these two tracks are incredible, the band already masters of the sidelong black metal epic, the A side beginning with a slow build, all chaotic drums over clan guitars, weird and woozy, the sound building and building, eventually coalescing into something more buzzy and blast, but even then the guitars remain super low in the mix, and SOUND clean still, which gives the sound a cool strange vibe, add in some bellowed demonic vox, some stretches of doomed out dirgery, all deep droning vox and tribal drumming, and then a crazy chaotic mathrock/noiserock outro. Lo-fi for sure, but still so epic and heavy and intense. The flipside is much more black metal sounding, but with some serious D-best sounding stretches, a little punky, but still plenty black and blasting, with cool droned out guitars, and a super stunning interlude that's all blurred drones and muted feedback, which leads directly into some spaced out psychedelic drift, before the band lurches back into the fray. PRESSED ON 180 GRAM VINYL!! Housed in thick sleeves, with a printed insert, LIMITED TO 367 COPIES!!
FELL VOICES Untitled (II) (Howling Mine / Gilead Media) lp 14.98
The latest epic slab of atmospheric black metal from this Northern California black metal duo begins with a warm bit of swoonsome, softly pulsing synth swirl, before the band launch into the first of two sidelong tracks, and immediately, the sound here is harder, and harsher, and heavier, the vibe is definitely atmospheric, but much more grim and buzzy, the two immediately locked into a hazy galloping expanse of majestic melodic blackness, droned out and trancelike, hypnotic and mesmerizing, sounding like it could (and maybe should) go on forever and ever, until the sound suddenly and gloriously ruptures, the song exploding into a gout of gnarled mathy chaos, before slipping right back into the trancey buzz. The sound does eventually shift, the guitars soaring, fast picked melodies all tangled up with the relentless drum pound, eventually the song settling into a woozy, moody, buzz free creep, just mournful guitars wrapped around melodic bass, and a plodding almost doomy dirge. The band slowly build adding layer after layer, eventually returning to a furious tranced out buzz once again, but here the guitars seem slippery, the riffs even more tangled, the sound warped and even more chaotic, the black buzz slipping into almost white noise territory before finally collapsing into a long stretch of muted, murky grumbling grey drones. The B side starts off distinctly more doomy, thick, reverbed minor key chords drift over a simple, slo-mo drum trudge, atmospheric, ominous, haunting, it's only a minute or two before this track too explodes in a frenzy of musical violence, an avalanche of blackened chaos, careening riffs, buried howls, splattery drumming, the various elements eventually coalesce into something more solidly black and buzzy, but before too much time has passed, the band transform it into some strange black doom, the chords tarpit slow, but the drums still blasting away, the vocals a beastly gurgle, before once again letting the buzzing blackness overtake them. This track, like the first side, is constantly shifting, from more clean shimmery ambience, to some gorgeously melodic churning guitardrone, that sounds like BM riffs blurred into hypnotic muddy swirls, and like the A side, this track finishes with a long stretch of minimal drift, this time, hazy synths, minimal percussion and haunting cinematic piano stabs, creepy, and harrowingly beautiful. LIMITED TO 750 COPIES, pressed on thick vinyl, and housed in super heavy jackets.
FEN Ancient Sorrow (Northern Silence) cd ep 11.98
While ostensibly a black metal band, the UK's Fen, are so much more than that. In fact, take away the vocals, and in a blind taste test we would have been hard pressed to describe them as black metal at all. The sound is all loping rhythms, soaring chords, the sound majestic and epic, minor key and mathy. The first track sounds more like Isis or Pelican than it does Darkthrone or Deathspell. Well, actually, it does remind us a bit of Deathspell's most postrock moment, the genius Kenose. The band are described as 'atmospheric black metal / post rock' which would be a tad more accurate if you swapped the two descriptors. Even the riffs sound more like something off a Polvo or Pitchblende record, which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, we're a little bit obsessed with Fen. Another band whose sound is one we had always sort of wished for. Nineties math rock black metal! It's really uncanny listening to these three songs how often our ears catch a little Archers Of Loaf or Rodan or Don Cab or Bitch Magnet. And the thing is, the sound may be a bit heavier and more distorted, it's really only the vocals that turn this into black metal. If Fen were an instrumental band, they wouldn't sound all that out of place on Touch And Go. But they are heavy, and they are a bit black, and as if to prove it, the closer is the heaviest, and the least overtly mathy of the bunch. A plodding churning doomy chunk of loping blackened crush. And near the end of the 12+ minute track, the band even actually explode for the very first time into a furious blast beat, and finish off the track thrashing blackly, but even that brief burst is not enough to hide their true sonic soul, the whole track is rife with mathiness, with soaring majestic post rock-ness, just wrapped in a bit of blackness. None of this is meant to sound apologetic, not in the least, this is absolutely one of our favorite new records, metal, mathy or otherwise. We just wanted to give fair warning to the troo grim hordes out there, who might have been put off a bit by the dearth of true blackness. But for the rest of you, this comes highly recommended. If you ever dreamed about a black metal Polvo (and who didn't) or wished Deathspell had continued on their more post rock path, or if you just can't get enough of that metallic post rock, and maybe wouldn't mind if it sometimes got a bit blacker, well then this is definitely for you...
"Desolation Embraced" MPEG Stream:
"The Gales Scream Of Loss"
FEN Ancient Sorrow (Northern Silence) 12" 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. While ostensibly a black metal band, the UK's Fen, are so much more than that. In fact, take away the vocals, and in a blind taste test we would have been hard pressed to describe them as black metal at all. The sound is all loping rhythms, soaring chords, the sound majestic and epic, minor key and mathy. The first track sounds more like Isis or Pelican than it does Darkthrone or Deathspell. Well, actually, it does remind us a bit of Deathspell's most postrock moment, the genius Kenose. The band are described as 'atmospheric black metal / post rock' which would be a tad more accurate if you swapped the two descriptors. Even the riffs sound more like something off a Polvo or Pitchblende record, which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, we're a little bit obsessed with Fen. Another band whose sound is one we had always sort of wished for. Nineties math rock black metal! It's really uncanny listening to these three songs how often our ears catch a little Archers Of Loaf or Rodan or Don Cab or Bitch Magnet. And the thing is, the sound may be a bit heavier and more distorted, it's really only the vocals that turn this into black metal. If Fen were an instrumental band, they wouldn't sound all that out of place on Touch And Go. But they are heavy, and they are a bit black, and as if to prove it, the closer is the heaviest, and the least overtly mathy of the bunch. A plodding churning doomy chunk of loping blackened crush. And near the end of the 12+ minute track, the band even actually explode for the very first time into a furious blast beat, and finish off the track thrashing blackly, but even that brief burst is not enough to hide their true sonic soul, the whole track is rife with mathiness, with soaring majestic post rock-ness, just wrapped in a bit of blackness. None of this is meant to sound apologetic, not in the least, this is absolutely one of our favorite new records, metal, mathy or otherwise. We just wanted to give fair warning to the troo grim hordes out there, who might have been put off a bit by the dearth of true blackness. But for the rest of you, this comes highly recommended. If you ever dreamed about a black metal Polvo (and who didn't) or wished Deathspell had continued on their more post rock path, or if you just can't get enough of that metallic post rock, and maybe wouldn't mind if it sometimes got a bit blacker, well then this is definitely for you...
"Desolation Embraced" MPEG Stream:
"The Gales Scream Of Loss"
FEN Epoch (Aural Music) cd 21.00
FEN The Malediction Fields (Code 666 / Aural Music) cd 17.98
First proper full length from these UK black metallers, who we once described as a black metal Polvo! There are definitely still hints of that here, but the metal this time around is also more furious. With the ep, we stressed that maybe troo grim metalheads might not find a lot to like, as much of that record sounded more like Pelican or Isis than Darkthrone or Deathspell, and even here, the first track begins with some post rocky clean guitar, but almost immediately launches into a seriously blown out squall of blasting buzz. But then a few seconds later, the band slip back into that loping post rock, only to again, explode into epic blackness. The track flits back and forth, and part way through there's even some Katatonia like clean vocals, which adds a definite pop element, and hints at what's to come. So, it's at once heavier and more black than the ep, but still manages to incorporate plenty of post rock rhythms and math rock arrangements, which basically makes this a massive favorite around here, but also means this is probably not black or brootal enough for some metalheads. And since the opening track might just be the heaviest of the bunch, barring brief bursts here and there, this is the perfect record for the aQ metalhead, who when not enjoying true grimness, likes their black metal fucked up or freaked out or all shoegazey or all post rocky, which means odds are you'll dig this like crazy. Much of the record follows the same pattern as the opener, long loping instrumental passages with simple drumming and clean crystalline guitars, peppered with bursts of frenetic riffing and wild blasting beats, but there's also plenty of strange haunting folkiness, bits of rainy day sad boy indie jangle, subtly complex math rock rhythms, all perfectly blended with chunks of intense riffery and buzzing black metal fury. And the thing is, the metal this time around IS way more furious, if you stripped out all the clean guitars and croony vocals, this would be some seriously paint peeling blackness, but those parts sound even MORE aggressive and heavy when butted up to some shimmery drift, or some jangly poppiness. The closer is the other heavyweight here, nearly 12 minutes of roiling ultra heavy black metal, intense and frenzied, but still with plenty of loping midtempo grooves, occasional doom-ed out interludes, a brief flutteryfolky break, and a minor key string-ed outro, that manages to be super dramatic, and the perfect way for this strangely varied and super kick ass record to wind down. Packaged in a super striking 8 panel digipak, and damn if Fen don't have one of the coolest logos...
"Exile's Journey" MPEG Stream:
"A Witness To The Passing Of Aeons" MPEG Stream:
FENRIZ' RED PLANET / NATTEFROST Engansgrill (Indie Recordings) cd 21.00
FINIS GLORIA DEI Goat: Father Of The New Flesh (Aura Mystique) cd 15.98
"Sphinktes: Le Rite Oublie" MPEG Stream:
"Behind The Rotting Sun Of Human Desolation"
FINNTROLL Jaktens Tid (Spikefarm / Century Media) cd 14.98
A Finnish black metal band, all of whose music is about trolls. Hence the name! This is their sophomore release, their first disc was a concept album apparently about the war between the trolls and the Christians (!) and it was a big favorite of both of AQ's big black metal freaks (Andee and Allan, of course). This new disc is also great. We can't tell you what the concept is this time (the lyrics are all in Finnish, or Trollish maybe) but we're sure it too is about trolls. Heck, their keyboardist boasts the fab moniker Trollhorn! Speaking of the keyboards, that's a big part of their sound -- a rollicking, happy sort of folk metal, kinda like Venom meets an oompah-band. Yes, their record label (who it seems don't care much about selling records) describes Finntroll as the world's first "Polka-metal" outfit! And it's true. A very weird, very fun group indeed. Our favorite track is the one where it sounds like they, keyboards and all, have been submerged in an aquarium (there's some sort of bubble machine going). Huh? It's brutal, it's silly, it's great.
"Slaget vid Blodsalv"
FINNTROLL Midnattens Widunder (Spikefarm) cd 14.98
The first disc from these Finnish troll-metallers... Black metal polka at its best. Yup, polka. So great. This album tells the story of the (hitherto obscure) war between the Christians and the trolls.
FINNTROLL Nattfodd (Century Media) cd 14.98
This completely absurd yet amazingly fun Finnish band, whose members pretend they're TROLLS and play a mixture of black metal and the Finnish folk music called "humpa" (which sounds a heckuva lot like polka music) is back. And we have no choice but to raise a flagon of mead and join in another trollish hoe-down with them. Somewhat surprisingly, Finntroll's last three albums have all been minor hits here at Aquarius, not just among the usual staff suspects (Andee and Allan) but with our customers as well. We get mail-orders for Jaktens Tid and Visor Om Slutet on a fairly regular basis! And this new one, Nattfodd, will make a fine addition to anyone's collection of trollish music. Or maybe we should say your trollish music collection ain't complete without it. If you haven't heard 'em yet, imagine growling, grunting, tough sounding 'trolls' doing the vocals in a style not unlike many other black metal bands. Their music is quite heavy and metal as well but simultaneously gets so extremely jaunty and folky and keyboard-happy in the humpa-style that it's impossible not to be swept away. Maybe a good title for a future Finntroll disc would be Anthems To The Lawrence Welkin At Dusk? Listening to this, you'll soon be doing your own approximation of a trollish jig. And there's a few interludes of forest sound effects and indecipherable (to us) troll-talk to further set the scene. It's like Za Frumi meets Uz Jsme Doma meets Falconer meets Satyricon. Crazy Finns!
"Fiskarens Fiende" MPEG Stream:
FINNTROLL Nifelvind (Century Media) cd 13.98
FINNTROLL Trollhammaren (Century Media) cd ep 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We know how into Finntroll some Aquarius customers are (we are too). So we thought we'd better list this, 'cause we definitely don't want to deprive anyone of the chance to acquire every last track by this amazing / ridiculous Finnish black metal band who pretend they're trolls. Trollhammaren is the 5 song cd ep that preceded the release of Finntroll's latest opus Nattfodd, and it features one track from that album plus four entire new, non-album tracks of rollicking humpa-metal as only Finntroll can dish out. Some of the songs here seem especially heavy on the horns, having a grooviness that gives us visions of these trolls up on a bandstand wearing tuxedos! If you love Finntroll already you might well need this, and if you're not yet familiar with 'em, this would serve as a good lil' taster of their hyper hoedown metal stylings!
FINNTROLL Ur Jordens Djup (Spinefarm) cd 12.98
Sometimes we're amazed at just how popular this Finnish band has become. Raging, rollicking folk-metal played by people who pretend they're really trolls from the forests of Finland? Sure, that could be a cool curiosity, but a commercial success, spawning even a copycat band (Norway's Trollfest)? Yup. It's not just customers here at AQ -- where Finntroll's back catalog is a steady seller -- that love Finntroll. All sorts of totally random people we've met, who we didn't even think liked any metal, have turned out to be big Finntroll fans. And all Finntroll fans will be happy that they're back with another album, their fifth. They've also got a new singer, but he's just as gutturally trollish as the previous guy, and their "black metal humppa" sound is the same as ever. Humppa being traditional Finnish dance music, sorta the polka of Finland. So there's banjo and mouth-harp on here, along with loud guitars, thumpin' drums, and swelling, symphonic soundtrack-style synths. You'll want to dance a headbanging jig to this, or swing your mug of ale to and fro. Their blend of dark atmospherics, Wagnerian bombast, and jaunty humppa rhythms is a blast... a bit silly perhaps but really no sillier than most other black metal bands when you think about it, wearing their panda-like corpse paint. Besides, while Ur Jordens Djup ("From The Depths Of The Earth", in English) boasts its expected share of drunken jollies, it also demonstrates that trolls can be scary creatures as well, with plenty of sinister ambience and ultra-heavy blackened brutality, moreso perhaps than past efforts.
"Ur Djupet" MPEG Stream:
"En Maktig Har"
FINNTROLL Visor Om Slutet (Spikefarm) cd 14.98
As their name suggests, this is music by, or at least for, Finnish trolls. They should tour with Za Frumi, the Swedish orc band. Their self-described brand of black metal polka (or "humpa", as the Finns call it) has made 'em a fave here at Aquarius where anything less ridiculous gets barely a listen, after all. This third album from Finntroll sports a sticker on the front reading "Special Price Acoustic Album". Well, the price isn't any more special than their others, and it's also not an acoustic album, so we're not sure what's going on there. It is, however, pretty special! Starting off with ominous forest noises, this soon builds into a doleful (is that an oboe?) square dance for monsters, stomping and growling. That's followed by some rather more lively jigs, that sound a bit like Czech maniacs Uz Jsme Doma, if they had a chorus of grim-voiced trolls backing them up. Other numbers are on the bombastic side, symphonic in scope even, very medieval and fantastical of course. I guess the deep-woods hoedown aspect is what prompted Spikefarm to label this "acoustic" even when there's obviously lots of non-acoustic instruments (keyboards, electric guitars!) being used along with traditional Finnish/trollish instruments like jaw harps and handclaps... and it certainly is Finntroll's least "metal" album. Finntroll goes in the direction of early In Extremo, cool.
"Asfagelns Dod" MPEG Stream:
"Forsvinn Du Som Lyser"
FLAMES OF HELL Fire and Steel (Draconian Records) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We managed to get, like, 5 copies of this mysterious cd reissue the first time around, and the disappeared in a flash, we've been on the hunt for more ever since, and just found a distributor who happened to have 5 more copies. So like before, act fast if you want one, as we won't be getting any more. Unless we get very very lucky. Again. And we sure wish we could though, 'cause this is thee best doomy DIY black metal album recorded in 1987 in the basement of a YMCA building in Iceland we've EVER heard!! So lo-fi and raw and fucked up it's amazing, with tons of cult '80s atmosphere (a la Hellhammer) and truly bizarre vocal stylings, as on the chugging, erupting "Evil". What strange wretched howlings and absurd rasping shrieks! Like, Tim Baker of Cirith Ungol with more than one frog in his throat. Musically this both shreds and sludges, in both cases clogged with lo-fi production (not helped by this reissue's dodgy mastering from what sounds like a crackly vinyl original) and off kilter outsider aesthetics. But that's all part of the charm. It has to be heard to be believed. If you liked, say, some of the other eccentric '80s metal artifacts like Black Hole or Dark Quarterer that we've reviewed, and want to hear the "Venom" version of a band like that, this is for you.
"Evil" MPEG Stream:
"Flames Of Hell"
FLASKAVSAE Eclipse In Tides (E.E.E. Recordings) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Super raw, lo-fi black metal brutal, buzzing US un-BM....
"Head First Into Oblivion" MPEG Stream:
"Wars Developed From Ignorance"
FLASKAVSAE Philosophies (E.E.E. Recordings) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another blast of unblack metal, from the heartland, the Midwest, where it seems most of these unblack hordes reside. A glowing white beacon of buzzing brutality, amidst a sea of evil and blackness. This is the first full length from the one man band Flaskavsae, and like much of the unblack stuff we've been obsessed with, it's not so much about just making black metal Christian, as it is totally twisting the sounds of black metal into something entirely new. And so far, Flaskavsae, the man and the band, have pushed this unblack sound to it's furthest reaches. Where many of the other bands, particularly Light Shall Prevail, demonstrate a similarly varied, and gorgeously obscured sonic palette, it often seems that those particularly obfuscated sounds are more a result or recording limitations than an actual sonic vision. Of course, it's obvious that those other bands embrace the strange production and all over the map sonics, but Flaskavsae seems more like a daring sonic adventurer, using black metal merely as a jumping off point. Like Wold for instance, the root sounds are buzzing guitars, and blasting drums, but it's how those sounds are twisted and colored that make all the difference. From the first track, it's easy to tell this is so much more than (un)black metal. A dense, roiling staticky wash of crumbling downtuned guitars, and drifting mournful melodies, buried beneath layers of hiss and fuzz, with all sorts of tape dropouts and recording inconsistencies that make it sounds like some black metal Basinski piece, constantly throbbing and changing pitch, cutting out and warbling unsteadily, all the while weaving a super dark and emotional landscape of sound. This is the sort of black metal that fans of Tim Hecker and Philip Jeck and Basinski could easily get into. On some tracks, the drums are more pronounced, and thus, the sound is slightly more traditionally (un)black, but even then, the buzz and pummel is bombarded on all sides by thick swaths of fuzzed out sound, hissy static like the sound of some sonic downpour, while way back in the distance, streaks of high end drift by, offering brief glimpses of the mournful melodies underneath. This may be heavy, and brutal and grim or whatever, but it's hard to tell as everything is just dripping with tons of FX and wrapped in dense clouds of swirling murk and blurred shimmer, which ends up making it sound dark and sad and so so beautiful instead.
"Twilight Reminiscent Of Slumber" MPEG Stream:
"Parallels To Nothing" MPEG Stream:
FLASKAVSAE / LIGHT SHALL PREVAIL split (E.E.E. Recordings) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's take a couple years and about a million cd-r's, but here it is, the first proper actual cd (not cd-r) release from both of these groups, two of our favorite UN-black metal bands. And for those out of the loop, un-black is another name for white metal, which is another name for Christian black metal, which does indeed seem like an oxymoron, but avid readers of the list by now are well familiar with the sound, and the groups, Glaciial, Agathothodion, Drommer, Elgibbor, Offerblod, Njiqahdda, and of course Flaskavsae and Light Shall Prevail. LSP is the work of EEE records head honcho W.S. and prolificacy is so extreme, he fronts or is a member of at least 5 different outfits. LSP seems to be his main one and is definitely one of our favorites. Like on past releases, the sound here is a mix of classic grim black metal, and all sorts of fucked up lo-fi production, the core being a relentless buzzing riff, and furious blasting beats, but the sound is wrapped in strange sheets of hiss, and layers of murk and mire, the drum machine is strangely processed, the cymbals unleashing sprawling clouds of hiss, the guitars always buried in varying degrees of fucked up buzz or fuzz, turning riffs into streaks of blurred sound. The first LSP track here offers up a super strange, arpeggiated melody, very sing songy and major key, right in the middle of a roiling sea of blast and buzz. Ends up sounding quite mysterious and haunting. The big change this time around are the vocals, that are a dead ringer for Wrest from Leviathan's hellish corrosive howl, but within LSP, those vokills are simply another layer in the droning hypnotic buzzscapes, and that weird sing songy melodic element resurfaces throughout the other three tracks as well, culminating in the 15 minute closer, a sprawling, woozy and warped black metal, the guitars super blown out and washed out, the sound more of a blurred drone than black metal, even the drums are so static and relentless that they evoke a sense of mesmer as well. Flaskavsae (a one man band, whose one man plays in Glaciial with Mr. LSP) are a perfect match, a similarly twisted take on (un-)black metal, but instead of speed and aggression, offer up something more depressive and midtempo, the guitars warbly and the distortion crumbling, the drums buried in the mix, except for the cymbals, that like LSP offer up sizzling streaks of hissy sibilance. Even when the songs launch into more furious tempos, something about the sound still manages to remain lugubrious and druggy, the riffs, less insectoid, and more blackened melting psychedelic. The final Flaskavsae track begins with a creepy almost classical sounding circusy melody, over a lurching almost industrial sounding rhythm, before the blackness and buzz seeps up from below, transforming the track into a weird droned out black buzzscape. Packaged in a super glossy full color digipak.
FLASKAVSAE "Hymns Of Praise" MPEG Stream:
LIGHT SHALL PREVAIL "Epicism"
FLEURETY Department of Apocalyptic Affairs (Supernal Music) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We've heard a lot of strange black metal related discs, but this is among the strangest...On this album, metal is only one (important but small) component of the whole, which also involves free jazz and trip hop...Released on the same label that brought us the infamous Benighted Leams, and you can see how this truly fucked-up "so bad it's weird and so weird it's bad and so weird and bad that it's kind of amazing" band would appeal to the same minds that thought the Leams were genius. Formerly a medieval 'forest-is-my-throne' epic black metal band a la Ulver (and we think still sharing some members with that Norwegian Ulver/Ved Buens Ende/Dodheimsgard axis), now these guys are wearing suits, carrying automatic weapons, and programming beats. But they've gone beyond the Mr. Bungle tendencies of say, an Arcturus (who seem "ordinary" in comparison!), and created something that even we at AQ can't quite understand, or judge. Every time we put this on, our reactions vary from being blown away at how bizarre and great it is to being appalled at the (same!) dismally bad and wrong moments. Great packaging, with the lyrics in the form of a miniature intelligence "dossier". Essential for those compelled to always increase the utter weirdness quotient of their cd collections, and very definitely for fans of Arcturus, Solefald, and recent Dodheimsgard.
FLITTERMICE OF ELD s/t (self-released) cd-r 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Flittermice Of Eld are another band that, if were we not actually listening to it right now and holding the disc in our hands, we would be tempted to think that this was just made up -- one of those 'amazing' ideas you have that is just too nuts to actually bring to fruition. It's too perfect. One of those records, that were someone to ask, we would have to say epitomizes the perfect AQ record. Killer band name, amazingly bizarre concept, fucked up sound. Hard to believe it wasn't just some fever dream. But nope, here it is. Flittermice Of Eld, according to the band, "both a musical tribute to and critique of black metal." Sonically this is not at all black metal, but it is infused with the spirit of black metal. There are no riffs or vocals, no pounding drums, instead it's a strange concoction of noise and texture, drone and ambience, but with all the basic pitches for the guitar and bass parts generated from a few specific collections of notes from the Darkthrone song "As Flittermice as Satan's Spys" from their classic Transilvanian Hunger album. Whatthefuck? So basically we have this bizarre ambient dronoise record based on a handful of notes from a Darkthrone song?! Fuck yeah! The first few minutes are a dense clattery improvised skree, clanging and grinding and super chaotic, but this gives way to a dark, slow shifting reverberant drone, that pulses and throbs beneath a smattering of high end twinkles and streaks of glistening feedback. The final 'movement' is a wild atonal no-wave tangle of angular guitar riffing and stumbling bass, an abstract progscape of buzz and twang, a sort of damaged shredfest, loosed from its metal moorings. Darkthrone would be proud. Packaged in a hand screened fold over card stock cover, with handwritten liner notes on the back cover. ULTRA LIMITED OBVIOUSLY!
"Excerpt 1" MPEG Stream:
FLUISTERWOUD Langs Galg en Rad (Full Moon Productions) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
FLUISTERWOUD Langs Galg En Rad (Full Moon Productions) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Oh man, do we love this band. Totally furious over the top necro blackness from this grim Dutch horde. This record is from way back in 2003, but we figured if some of us somehow missed it, some of you probably did too. Which is a shame cuz this stuff totally slays. Besides having an amazing band name, a wicked logo, a killer album cover, and some of the coolest corpse paint we've seen in ages, these guys also sound completely amazing! So dense and black and heavy and grim and necro. A completely overwhelming onslaught of utter blackness, complimented by a vocalist that sounds like he has a mouthful of bloody nails and dead babies. Imagine a sky black with clouds, the earth splitting open as the devil unleashes his own plagues upon the world, but the plagues he sends are a rain of spiked gauntlets, a flood of corpsepaint, a swarm of corrosive blast beats, an attack of acidic buzzing riffs, blasting Burzumic buzz, throat shredding growls and a brutal black sound that will shroud the world in darkness and drag every one kicking and screaming down into the pits of hell. This sounds a little like that. Raw, fast and so brutal. Imagine being strapped to some sort of medieval torture device and being pelted with thousands of Darkthrones, eventually ending up buried beneath layer after layer of corrosive, crusty, buzzing black grimness. Awesome.
"Tergernis" MPEG Stream:
"Den Duustere Wouden"
FOLDALATTI ULATULAT Phobia (Gungnir Productions) cassette 4.50
We've yet to get our hands on any releases by the black ambient band Hunok to list and review, but ever since we heard them on a split with AQ faves, Hungarian black metal outfit Marblebog, we have been on a quest! And while this is not in fact Hunok, it is a band featuring folks from Hunok, and the sound is a similarly creepy and haunting ambient weirdness. Foldalatti Ulatulat are from Hungary and have a very distinct and unique take on ambient music. Beginning with some strange disembodied vocals and radio static, the band soon settles into some seriously scary soundtrack music, sounding a bit like an extra creepy, slowed down Peter And The Wolf at times, playful a little, but very ominous, tons of space, low end drones and rumbles, beneath dark swells and strange minor key melodies, mysterious pulses and thick waves of crumbling whir. Very cinematic, like the part in the horror movie when you first enter the abandoned house, and you're slowly creeping up the stairs, the shadows flickering making you think someone is watching... It's all very intense and dramatic and pretty fucking great. Now we just have to track down some Hunok for the store...
FOLKSTORM Hurtmusic (Old Europa Cafe) cd 17.98
Folkstrom is the solo project from MZ.412's Mr. Nordvargr, although it could be some lost leftfield recording from odd black metallers Abruptum or Vondur. It's a weird hyrbid of death industrial / power electronic brutality and Norwegian black metal misanthropy (though it only hints at that sound). Recorded live at Nar Mattaru, "Hurtmusic" is a punishing record loaded with landmine samples, electro-shock blasts of energy, and warbled megaphone shouts. The highlight of the album is a loose reinterpretation of the song "No Place" by notorious Swedish misanthropes the Brainbombs, complete with a slow grinding guitar chug perverted from the classic Stooges sound.
FOREST As A Song In The Harvest Of Grief (ISO666) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. More Russian blackforestbuzz!!! Another legendary, and long out of print AQ black metal classic gets the deluxe reissue treatment. All time AQ faves Forest's As A Song In The Harvest Of Grief, back in print, back in stock, and available again for a limited time. We were particularly enamored of Forest's Burzum-meets-Jewelled Antler s/t debut, and while this is heavier on the Burzumy buzz, it's still pretty mind blowing. Here's what we had to say about it when we first reviewed it way back when: Yes, buzzing black metal fiends, there IS another cd from Russia's Forest that we hadn't yet reviewed, so here it is at last. The poetically-titled As A Song In The Harvest Of Grief was Forest's fourth and final album, recorded in 1999. At this point in their history, the band had made themselves masters of raw, primitive black metal done the ye olde Nordic way, carrying on the black-burning torch of Darkthrone and Burzum, whilst sometimes allowing their own experimental and improvisatory tendencies to surface amidst the fuzz-drone. This album is no deviation from the Forest path. Opening track "Into The Mouth Of Breath" (?) sounds like a swarm of bees interpreting some minor-key piece of classical music. Then the ceaseless pounding of drums and throat-torn terror begins, each track a distorted and monotonous (in a good way, mind you -- this is black metal) lament, with melodic lines to stab the heart, the tempo of the drums quickening even as the overall mood of the music becomes almost static, dismal. Sheer trance agony fueled by fuzz, gorgeous fuzz. And, as always with Forest's cds, it's not over 'til it's over: there's a bonus track! For fans of Darkthrone, Weakling, Eikenskaden, etc.
"Into The Mouth Of Breath" MPEG Stream:
"As A Song In The Harvest Of Grief"
FOREST Foredooming The Hope For Eternity (ISO666) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yet another disc of glorious blackened woodland buzz from AQ faves Forest gets the reissue treatment. A grim Russian horde, Forest captured our shriveled black hearts with their Burzum-meets-Jewelled Antler debut. As they progressed, the clattery forest ambience receded, and the black buzz took over, but on Foredooming The Hope For Eternity, there was still plenty of non-black weirdness to balance the blazing buzz. Foredooming is finally back in print, back in stock, and available again for a limited time. Here's what we had to say about it when we first reviewed it way back when: Not to be confused with the *other* band also called Forest, a much folkier entity, here we have one of several releases by the entity that we usually refer to as the black metal Forest, who hail from Russia. You may recall us praising this Forest's self-titled album a while back, likening it to a blend of the primitive Darkthrone/Burzum/Weakling style of black metal and the Jewelled Antler psych-improv-folk-drone aesthetic. Foredooming The Hope For Eternity dates from 1998 and it's certainly also a trance-inducing Darkthroneathon. Raspy screams, buzzing guitars, drums beating a constant, almost static thwap-thwap-thwap. Forest's minor key laments make a virtue of monotony. I love it at low volumes, as a purely background drone...or, playing it loud, it becomes an all-encompassing sonic cocoon. And that would be good enough to sate our raw, old-school black metal needs. But, being Forest, there's more... two lengthy unlisted tracks at the end of the disc which contribute something a little different to the proceedings. The first is a sort of an extension of the last listed track, with the drums receding in the mix, revealing a beautifully majestic strummy drone, sounding not unlike Earth gone black metal! That's followed by another ten minute bonus track that adds moaning, wordless vocal chant. "Ah-aaah..." So very epic, and almost Swans-ish, looping more distortion and folkiness. Definitely an interesting, effective band within (and sometimes without) the confines of the tradition to which they aspire.
"Unfinished Song Of These Woods" MPEG Stream:
"The Bolverk Spirit" MPEG Stream:
"bonus track #1"
FOREST Like A Blaze Above The Ashes (ISO666) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Cult...Russian...black...metal. That's the real raw, primitive, Darkthroned stuff y'know. For/by persons who really *believe*. Forest you may recall is the black metal band whose mastery of the fuzz-filled Norse black metal style and weird forest-dark ambient atmospheres have caused us to draw comparisons to such strange bedfellows as Burzum and Avarus. Ok, mostly they're along the lines of Mayhem or Burzum (not a bad thing) but sometimes they'll venture into areas that sound more like the Swans or a Jewelled Antler band or something, more folky or droney than expected. Their second album Like A Blaze Above The Ashes (released on cassette circa 1997, and on cd only recently) falls chronologically between their 1996 self-titled recording and 1998's Foredooming The Hope For Eternity that we reviewed a few lists back. And like those discs it provides both blasting buzzing attacks and more atmospheric vistas. The centerpiece to this four song, 44'33" album is the nearly 17 minute epic of distortion and majesty, "To The Fiercest Frost". But we're also much taken with album closer "Obscurity", a wordlessly chanted Viking lament that trudges for twelve minutes through a misty vale of near-acoustic melody and sadness.
"By The Roar Of Hammers Call" MPEG Stream: