S.V.E.S.T. Urfaust (End All Life) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Talk about cult, S.V.E.S.T. seem to be a total mystery. Almost no information to be found anywhere about these guys. other than they are another one of those French black metal bands (Mutiilation, Deathspell Omega, Malicious Secrets, etc.) who are routinely spoken of in hushed worshipful whispers. And much like their countrymen, they are a total revelation. It's hard to do something totally new and original within the rigid framework of black metal and still remain TRUE, but S.V.E.S.T. pull it off in a big way. We talk about black metal being drone-y and buzzy, so much so that in extreme cases, the result is more drone than metal, and that's never been more true than with S.V.E.S.T. Three lengthy epics, each a swirling lo-fi entropic buzzy black free for all. Riffs drift and spin, a dizzying concoction of fuzzed out white noise, blinding streaks of incendiary blackness, drums so fast and fuzzed out they just sound like blasts of static, melodies so murky and indistinct they sound more like Hecker or Jeck than anything traditionally black metal. So fast and chaotic and blurry and blackly psychedelic that they sound like some sort of black metal EVP, lost metal transmissions being broadcast through the ether and barely breaking through some staticky short wave broadcast. Fucking awesome!
"Putrefiance Redemptrice" MPEG Stream:
"Nuit De Walpurgis"
S.V.E.S.T. Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeternum: Le Diable Est Ma Raison (End All Life Productions) cd ep 12.98
Released In conjunction with the new Deathspell Omega ep (reviewed elsewhere on this list, and both are available together on a single lp, also on this list), Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeternum heralds the return of an old favorite, French duo S.V.E.S.T., who strangely enough haven't released a proper record since 2003 (2005's Coagula compiled older demos), but within 30 seconds, we were totally reminded exactly why we loved these guys so much. And they're a perfect foil for Deathspell, their sound equally fractured and convoluted and fucked up, but where DSO go for something darker and moodier and more melodic, S.V.E.S.T. go in the other direction completely, spitting out frenzied swaths of blurred buzz and wild squalls of intense tangled blackness. These three tracks, are so awesome, we almost, and we're well aware of the sacrilege involved here, but we just might like them as much as, if not even more than the Deathspell half of the split. Their sound is hard to describe. The first track opens with a dizzying swirl of squiggly guitars, woozy riffs, wild splattery drumming, that seems already like it's bordering on total meltdown, yet that's just the intro, and the band launch into a frenzied assault even more fucked up and dense, but pepper it with cool little melodies and parts that almost sound Viking, albeit buried beneath a roiling black blowout. The guitar does these cool little descending trills, the song lurches and stutters, the drums are relentless, mind blowingly fast and heavy and intricate, until part way through, the sound shifts, and there's a bit of doomy crawl, before leaping right back into the fray. Throughout, there are bursts of total drumming chaos, extra guitars howling and adding yet more layers of buzz. It's so thick and heavy and dense, it takes close listening to pick out all the amazing stuff going on beneath the buzzy black surface. The second track continues on in much the same vein, with the guitars even more twisted and gnarled, the drums still relentlessly mathy and intricate, slipping from total chaotic black noise, to stumbling groove, to cool pounding dirge, the drums leaping out from the mix, the guitars thick and raw, but soaring majestically at the same time. The sound manages to be epic and classic and technical while also murky and lo-fi, the sounds all blurring together, a heaving mass of constantly shifting blown out blackness, still rife with all manner of tangled little melodies, and sweeping epic ambience. The closer is short and sweet, the weirdest and creepiest of the bunch, beginning with a staccato machine gun burst of drums and riffage, before slipping into a swirling high end guitardrone, all woozy and overlapping, disembodied riffs and smeared melodies, dizzying and mesmerizing, growing more and more intense, the drums barely there, just those high end guitars glowing hotter and hotter, until finally, the drums kick in, and the track resolves in a totally twisted soaring post rock black metal what the fuck epic outro, that fades out WAY too soon. Holy shit. These guys need to deliver a full length ASAP. and we definitely don't want to wait another 6 years. As mentioned above, S.V.E.S.T.'s three tracks are actually half of a split, released in conjunction with a new record from Deathspell Omega, reviewed elsewhere on this list, and equally as essential. And again, vinyl folks, you are in luck, both the DSO material and the S.V.E.S.T. songs, while released as separate cds, are available together on a single lp!
"Et La Lumiere Fut, Comme Un Coup De Scalpel"
SABBAT Sabbatrinity (RIP 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. Huh, we haven't really ever reviewed any Sabbat before... except for one crazy out of print triple 6" vinyl release, a long time ago. That's despite the fact that all the troo cvlt metalheads here at AQ have lots of Sabbat in their collections. We're talking about the Japanese Sabbat here, by the way, not the thrash '80s British one - though these guys are thrashy and '80s sounding too, and also totally black metal. Heck they did that triple six inch, after all! Can't get much more Satanic than that. So, about time we reviewed something else by them. They've got a massive discography spanning the years, from way back in 1985 'til now, many full-length albums but also a bewildering array of eps and splits, with an unlikely preponderance of their releases being super limited edition LIVE recordings. Sometimes as many as nine in one year. Weird. Who do they think they are, Pearl Jam? Anyway, at long last, this is a new studio recording, and while it's not presented in as quite a "cult" format as that aforementioned 3x6", it's still a fetish object of sorts, the packaging fiendishly glimmering and glittering, with the art and logo in metallic red ink on a white background. And even though it's a domestic US release, they've included a Japanese-style obi strip, nice. A band that gets this lavish attention, either definitely deserves it, or made a pact with the Devil, in this case, probably both! So, for those who have yet to come to the Sabbat, let's explain what you're in for: total raw black metal mayhem, a la Venom and early Slayer, played with infectious enthusiasm by Japanese maniacs so old school and true that they make Darkthrone look like posers. With some NWOBHM elements (this band's Cronos, bassist/vocalist Gezol, is also a member of Metalucifer, after all) they display real heavy metal musical chops even amidst the thrashing, noisy chaos that these songs deliver with such high speed and seeming insanity. That insanity partially manifests this time via a focus on witches, there's no less than four songs here that factor "witch" into the title: "Witchflight", "Witch Hammers", "Witch's Torches", and the instrumental "Witch's Weed"! Don't ask why, or witch. Stereotypically Japanese with such obsessiveness, Sabbat are as over the top as ever on this new album. While our other favorite Japanese black metal band, Sigh, took off in weird avant-garde directions from their Venom-worshipping beginnings, Sabbat stay true to the source, earning a special place in the pantheon of all-time underground black metal greats. Sabbatrinity is further testament to that.
"Black Metal Scythe" MPEG Stream:
"Witch's Torches" MPEG Stream:
SABBAT Sabbatrinity (Iron Pegasus) cd 10.98
German edition, red cover... Huh, we haven't really ever reviewed any Sabbat before... except for one crazy out of print triple 6" vinyl release, a long time ago. That's despite the fact that all the troo cvlt metalheads here at AQ have lots of Sabbat in their collections. We're talking about the Japanese Sabbat here, by the way, not the thrash '80s British one - though these guys are thrashy and '80s sounding too, and also totally black metal. Heck they did that triple six inch, after all! Can't get much more Satanic than that. So, about time we reviewed something else by them. They've got a massive discography spanning the years, from way back in 1985 'til now, many full-length albums but also a bewildering array of eps and splits, with an unlikely preponderance of their releases being super limited edition LIVE recordings. Sometimes as many as nine in one year. Weird. Who do they think they are, Pearl Jam? Anyway, at long last, this is a new studio recording. For those who have yet to come to the Sabbat, let's explain what you're in for: total raw black metal mayhem, a la Venom and early Slayer, played with infectious enthusiasm by Japanese maniacs so old school and true that they make Darkthrone look like posers. With some NWOBHM elements (this band's Cronos, bassist/vocalist Gezol, is also a member of Metalucifer, after all) they display real heavy metal musical chops even amidst the thrashing, noisy chaos that these songs deliver with such high speed and seeming insanity. That insanity partially manifests this time via a focus on witches, there's no less than four songs here that factor "witch" into the title: "Witchflight", "Witch Hammers", "Witch's Torches", and the instrumental "Witch's Weed"! Don't ask why, or witch. Stereotypically Japanese with such obsessiveness, Sabbat are as over the top as ever on this new album. While our other favorite Japanese black metal band, Sigh, took off in weird avant-garde directions from their Venom-worshipping beginnings, Sabbat stay true to the source, earning a special place in the pantheon of all-time underground black metal greats. Sabbatrinity is further testament to that.
"Black Metal Scythe" MPEG Stream:
"Witch's Torches" MPEG Stream:
SACRIPHYX s/t (Nuclear War Now!) cd 9.98
Debut full length from this Aussie Duo, who traffic in a primitive strain of old school thrashing blackness. Raw and ragged and loose, midpaced riffs and lurching drumming send these tracks galloping through eerie atmospheres, evoking the classic era of old school death metal, but definitely blackened, with a unique take on old school metal. Much of the record is spent thrashing and furiously bashing away, but then on tracks like "Victory Of Withdrawal", the band slow things way down, almost balladic, with shredding, super emotional leads, woozy, gloomy basslines, the sound moody and melancholy, underpinning gruff vokills, a weird combo but it makes for a weirdly powerful one, and when the song does finally kick into gear, it's not blasting or thrashing, it's a strange chugging, super melodic churn, that's downright groovy, accompanied by chiming distorted guitar melodies, pretty cool, and definitely weird, and not much like other metal you hear these days. Even at it's most furious, these guys add lots of melody, and a hauntingly mournful mood to the proceedings, not to mention lots of classic metalisms, crazy catchy riffs and melodies pop up throughout, the middle portion of "A.J. Shout VC" is about as catchy as music like this gets! The sound too is odd, murky and sorta lo-fi, with clean crooned choruses popping up now and again, spidery guitars wrapped around woozy riffage, everything hazy and gauzey, reverby and echoey, which gives everything a strange feel, a little bit timeless, but also sorta psychedelic. The whole record seems to be a sonic struggle between fierce furious heaviness, and plodding melancholia, the sound seeming to constantly return to super melodic dirges, and achingly miserable melodies. Apparently, the whole record is a rumination on war, which then makes the melancholic musical thread that runs throughout make more sense. Definitely cool stuff. Maybe not brutal enough for some metalheads, but it's pretty atmospheric, with lots of killer riffs, and sprawling, progged out arrangements, woven into moody doomic dirges, and old school classic metal shreddery, all sort of washed out into a hazy psychedelic death metal that we're digging a lot.
"Lone Pine" MPEG Stream:
"Victory Of Withdrawal" MPEG Stream:
"A.J. Shout VC"
SADISTIC GRIMNESS Asteni (Daemon Worship Productions) cd 13.98
SADNESS SATURN She (Frozen Veins) cassette 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We first came across the mysterious black metal entity Sadness Saturn a while back with their awesome split cassette with Utarm. Picking up where they (or maybe he?) left off, Sadness Saturn returns with She, a three song tape that manages to be both raging and strangely meditative. Soundwise, it's a bit like a slightly less bizarre Velvet Cacoon, and it will also make sense to reference experimental black metallers Servile Sect, with whom the Sadness Saturn mainman is also involved. On side 1, "Childhood And The Journey To Satan" plods with a steady drum pound framing some queasy sounding melodies as tortured vocals scream out under a thick blanket of fuzz. The melancholy sounds of guitars and keyboards creep out like a mist of beautiful negativity, accompanied by plain spoken female vocals that actually make this sound a bit like a black metal Cold Cave! The song "Like Ghosts In The Freezing Night" is particularly effective as the calm female voice speaks out above the super intense (yet drumless) black metal atmosphere lurking below the surface. The appropriately named "Dreamer" brings She to its beautiful conclusion, a loping and majestic piece of black metal ambience that is almost uplifting, sort of like if Klaus Schultz had been digging some Ulver. Sound good? You bet. This handsomely packaged cassette is professionally presented to us by the awesome Japanese label Frozen Veins, and with only 100 copies out there, you are gonna want to act fast!
SALE FREUX Subterraneus (Misanthropic Art Productions) cd 13.98
SALE FREUX Subterraneus (Misanthropic Art Productions) cd 13.98
SALT Issue 8 magazine 4.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another year, another Salt. In fact it's been way more than a year, maybe almost two, but it's always well worth the wait. No one does zines any more, which is a huge shame, loosed from the binds of relying on advertising, and someone else's money, a zine can cover anything, explore music, art, even wrestling, can opt for any layout, but the problem is, that without that monetary support, sometimes you are forced to wait years between issues, which is criminal. Especially with zines like Salt. Every time we review a Salt, we always end up sending out a request for somebody, ANYBODY, to get in touch with Salt mastermind Kevin, give him a bunch of money and set him up with a real magazine. All the other mags out there can breathe easy since that is probably unlikely to happen any time soon. But if it did. Decibel, Terrorizer, the Wire, Signal To Noise, your days would be numberedÉ So issue 8, as is the pattern, is even better than 7, which was already kick ass. On the cover, a super striking drawing of Diamanda Galas, done by Kevin Salt himself, and inside, well hell, it's like a zine custom made for aQ. A Pharoah Sanders live review, a Suishou No Fune / RKF South By Southwest tour diary, an interview with comedy grind masters 7000 Dying Rats, an interview with aQ beloved dronescapers Hywl Nofio, Finland's masters of hypnorock and kings of the NWOFHM, Circle, a handful of record reviews, an interview with Malefic from Xasthur, an interview with the Clientele, and since Kevin is strangely fascinated with Professional Wrestling, there is an elegy for the now defunct ECW, including an interview with author, journalist and ECW expert John Lister, and finally, an interview with our very own Andee about tUMULt, a follow up of an original label spotlight in one of the earlier issues. The mind boggles what this guy could do with a real magazine. Not that we really want anything to change with Salt. But we sure wouldn't mind if it came out every month. Heck, every week! And for the first time, this issue comes bundled with a super limited, exclusive 3" cd-r from Hwyl Nofio. A fourteen minute track called "Christ Distort", another gorgeously sprawling expanse of metallic shimmer and blissed out buzz. Exclusive to this issue of Salt. LIMITED TO 50 COPIES. Each mag/cd hand numbered.
SALT Issue 9 magazine 5.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's hard to believe it's been two years since the last issue of Salt, but we're willing to be patient, after all it is possibly our favorite zine going, and as in our reviews of every issue of Salt, we really can't heap enough praise on this kick ass DIY zine, and as always, lament the fact that it somehow remains a zine, it seems like by now, Salt should be up there with Terrorizer and Rock A Rolla and Decibel. But you know what, fuck it, we love Salt just the way it is, virtually unchanged since issue #1, still black and white, a little oversized, same style layout, most of the illustrations done by Kevin, the guy who pretty much IS Salt, and the stuff he chooses to focus on, as always is weird and wonderful, varied and unlikely. Always something we're super into, always something else we've never even heard of, and even the stuff that seems like it would be of little interest, ends up being a fantastic read, always the sign of a great magazine. This issue is especially exciting as it contains perhaps the first interview EVER with aQ fave and tUMULt recording artist, the mysterious Korean teenage black metaller Pyha, talking about life in Korea, black metal, mandatory conscription, protest music and more. There's also a killer interview with Alicia from legendary crust doom outfit 13 (which also featured Liz Buckingham, now in Electric Wizard). There's a feature on doomdrone juggernaut Korperschwache, an extensive and WAY in depth review of the Some Bizarre Album, an extensive guide to getting drunk on cheap vodkas, a feature on indie poppers Grandaddy, and a guide to their best B-sides, a lengthy interview with comic artist Carla Speed McNeil, and an interview with the man behind new label The Great Pop Supplement (he also once upon a time ran both Enraptured and Earworm!). All that for five bucks! This time around there are no record reviews, and less pieces, but as Kevin explains in the intro, that's so the interviews and features could be longer and more extensive. Which they absolutely are. What more do you need to know? You love music. You love reading about music. You love underground music, and underground zines, if you haven't been reading Salt, you've been missing out big time...
SAMAEL Ceremony of Opposites / Rebellion (Century Media) cd 15.98
These Satanic Swiss metallers' last full album before the the beginnings of their "techno" metamorphosis (a transition which first yielded the amazing Passage disc, before several disappointing follow-ups), reissued with the pre-Passage Rebellion ep added on. A now value-added black metal classic.
SANGRAAL Unearthly Night (Goatowarex) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another fucked and demented and mysterious metal record, this one from the East Coast of the United States via Australian label Goatowarex. We weren't able to find out too much about these guys, other than the description: "Pure fucking depraved death metal lacking political goals or other such human bullshit." All right then. This may be 'death metal' although it definitely sounds to us, at different points, more like black metal and doom metal than death metal, and in fact it's some sort of confusional blend of the three. Some tracks are blazing fast, a roaring murky buzz, others are a lurching slow motion dirge, they even open with their own version of Mayhem's "Voice Of A Tortured Skull". The sound is super cavernous and lo-fi, with tons of natural reverb drenching the thrashing blackness in a thick cloak of ambient buzz, like it was recorded in some musty murky cave. That opening cover is a creepy Abruptum-ish ambient drone, with thick buzzing guitars and creepy anguished voices, and all sorts of weird sounds, which gives way to a super blackthrash freakout with buzzing riffs and blown out drums, the whole thing so in the red that it almost sounds like some sort of Merzbow-metal. The rest of the record shifts back and forth between totally fried black thrash and creepy ambient midtempo plod, and it's the doomier stuff that is the weirdest, with strangely obtuse riffs, lots of space, and fucked up arrangements. Halfway through there's another haunting ambient track, all organs and buzzy guitars, almost like Devil Doll or some Satanic wedding march or something, before lurching back into some killer Darkthrone style blackness.
"Voice Of A Torturred Skull" MPEG Stream:
"Autumn 1440" MPEG Stream:
"Eve Of Chaos"
SAPTHURAN ...In Hatred (Wraith Productions) cd 13.98
"A Wolf And It's Prey" MPEG Stream:
"Through The Eyes Of The Vulture"
SAPTHURAN The Beast In The Cave (God Is Myth) 3" cd-r 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Probably most well known around these parts for sharing a split with SF black metal overlord Leviathan a while back, Sapthuran pretty much held their own, which in that sort of company is saying something for sure. Their most recent full length was pretty great as well, a gloriously buzzed out slab of Burzumic brutality, as blissed out and hypnotic as grim and fuzzy. And a logical choice to be a part of God Is Myth's ongoing series of 3" cd-r's paying tribute to the writer H.P. Lovecraft, who has probably had more of an affect on metal music than almost any other writer (minus J.R.R. Tolkien obviously). This is volume four in the series. The first came courtesy of UK experimental black metal outfit Caina, the second from Appalachian heathen metal horde Harvist, the third from the strangely monickered LVTHN, pronounced Leviathan, but not to be confused with our own Leviathan and number four comes from this Kentuckian black horde. Three songs, a little under twenty minutes, thematically Lovecraftian, but sonically, much like the last Sapthuran full length. The guitars are a drone-y buzz, loping and looping, fuzzed out and hypnotic, very Burzumy for sure, the vocals a strangled demony growl, the drums a chaotic black blast, the whole thing swirled into a relentlessly mesmerizing, pounding black buzz that wraps it's spiky tendrils around you and pulls you into the bleak and black emptiness below. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. We only got 20 and it's already out of print from the label so once these are gone we will not be able to get more.
"Into The Mouth Of The Earth" MPEG Stream:
SAPTHURAN To The Edge Of Land (God Is Myth) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Being on a split record with another band can be rough. If the other band sucks, your band gets dragged right down with them. If the other band is great, they can make the listener completely forget that your half of the split even exists. So imagine being a black metal band, a pretty darn good black metal band, and doing a split with the current king of USBM Leviathan. You can't pass it up. It's fucking Leviathan man! But talk about pressure. But heck, it's gotta say something that Sapthuran shared a split with Leviathan a while back, and not only did we not ignore them, but we actually dug their half of the split quite a bit. So much so that when we learned they had a new full length, we got a bunch for the store. Not nearly as weird as Leviathan, Sapthuran traffic in a more sort of trance like Burzumy buzz, single riffs are repeated and looped into a mesmerizing black metal hypnorock. Vocals howl and shriek, drums pound and blast, but it's all about the riffs, dense and fuzzy, a thick blanket of buzz laid over everything. Almost like a black metal Circle or Gore. Not a whole lot of parts, in fact, often just one or two, but the riffs are so good, and they are recorded so hot and blown out. It's like dipping your head in a furnace of black flames. Probably the weirdest thing about Sapthuran is all the acoustic guitars. It seems like almost half the record is not metal at all, instead a sort of lilting dark folk, fingerpicked minor key melodies, simple strumming, often placed in dark soundscapes of ambient drone, or distant black buzz, or crackling campfires, or the sound of howling wind, or burbling streams and chirping birds. Pastoral and tranquil, but still dark and ominous, the perfect sonic counterpoint to the hypnotic buzzing blackness surrounding that fragile serenity on all sides and perpetually threatening to swallow it whole.
"Three" MPEG Stream:
"Four" MPEG Stream:
SARGEIST Lair Of Necromancy (Hospital Productions) 7" 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
SARKE Vorunah (Indie Recordings ) cd 21.00
SAROS Five Pointed Tongue (Hungry Eye) cd 13.98
Saros, featuring the (amazing, need we say?) drummer from the legendary Weakling, is one of San Francisco's up and coming heavy metal outfits, playing a blend of thrash, black and speed metal that takes no prisoners live (and now, on record). Saros are all about old school rippage mixed with weird black metal epic experimentation... On their debut full-length Five Pointed Tongue you get a fierce lesson in modern metal melding, the band both galloping and trudging (depending) through five fairly long tracks (43 minutes total) that mix up blackened rasps, clean vocal melodies, some acoustic guitar, prog-rock song structures, widdly solos, and plenty of traditional Bay Area 'banging. No matter the twists and turns, in one of Saros' songs you're never far from a blast of icy riffage. And quite a beating when it comes to the drums! Requisite obscure metal nerd reference: I wonder if these guys are at all familiar with French Canadian tech metallers Obliveon? I think they'd like them.
"F Sub Zero" MPEG Stream:
"Collapse Of The Tower"
SATAN'S ALMIGHTY PENIS Pulsing Feral Spire (Pagan Flames Productions) cd 9.98
SATAN'S HOST By The Hands Of The Devil (Moribund) cd 14.98
For whatever reason, we never really paid too much attention to Satan's Host, in the fine tradition of book cover judging, we sort of assumed they would be just another generic boring Satanic black metal band, and apparently they were at some point, and it makes sense, the band name, the cheesy (but cool) cover art, they're on Moribund, but this is maybe their 8th record or something, so we checked it out, and wow, not boring black metal, instead some strange sort of Satanic blackened power metal, led by the powerful soaring clean vocals of their original vocalist Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin, he also of the mighty Jag Panzer, and it's a pretty potent combination for sure, total epic TRUE metal vocals, nestled in some crushing, melodic, heavy as hell hybrid of classic metal and buzzing blackness, pretty tough to resist, especially if you love black metal, but tire of the raspy shrieks, or love metal, but find true metal and power metal a little to wimpy, well, then, this is for you. And to top it off, they do an amazing/ridiculous/dumb/brilliant cover of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood", appropriately metallized (and damn it sounds good all buzzy and blasty), but even better, they rewrote the lyrics, so now it's about burning churches, "Norwegian Wood", get it?! Anyway, some seriously melodic blackened satanic power metal heaviness that the metalheads around here have been digging like crazy, and thus comes way recommended it you're of a similar stripe...
"By The Hands Of The Devil" MPEG Stream:
"Shades Of The Unlight" MPEG Stream:
SATAN'S WRATH Galloping Blasphemy (Metal Blade) cd 14.98
Remember that guy who used to play bass for UK psychedelic doomlords Electric Wizard? You know the one, the fellow with tattoos all over his face, and that Satanic thousand yard stare? Well he actually left EW to try his hand at something more evil, and more Satanic, which is precisely what he's come up with in Satan's Wrath, his new duo, in which he handles everything but guitar, the band's sound a combination of old school thrash, Venom-ous black metal, and classic NWOBHM-isms, which Galloping Blasphemy has in spades. Opener, the oddly named "Leonard Rising - Night Of The Whip" is indeed a killer slab of classic galloping old school metal, right down to the shredding, dueling leads, and the chugging almost proggy outro. The second track "Between Belial And Satan" are where things get truly thrashy, after a killer doomy intro, rife with woozy psychedelic solos, the track explodes into some metal thrashing madness, that will probably have readers of the aQ list reminded of Denver thrashers Speedwolf, who are definitely drawing from the same sonic/Satanic well. Raw riffing, dive bombing leads, furious drumming, some serious retro satanic chugging and Possessed style shreddery going on, old school blackened primitivism, but with a fierce, modern production, over the course of the record SW display their influences at every turn: Venom, Bathory, Beherit, Possessed, Maiden, even Slayer, and while the classic NWOBHM-isms surface throughout, be sure and stick around for the closing track, holy shit, total classic seventies hard rock heaviness, the main riff a near rip off of Black Sabbath's "Country Girl", the only thing that keeps this from being classic seventies metal is the raspy Satanic vokills, there's some awesome harmony guitars, and a killer old school classic metal lead over a wild metallic gallop, the sound slipping into total Maiden worship constantly, we almost wish the whole record sounded like this, but at the same time, the mix of wild speed metal thrashing, and classic melodic metal make for a pretty good combo as well...
"Leonard Rising - Night Of The Whip" MPEG Stream:
"Satan's Wrath" MPEG Stream:
"Between Belial And Satan" MPEG Stream:
"One Thousand Goats In Sodom"
SATANIC WARMASTER ...Of The Night (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
SATANIC WARMASTER Carelian Satanist Madness (No Colours) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
"The Vampiric Tyrant" MPEG Stream:
"Carelian Satanist Madness"
SATANIZE Demonic Conquest In Jerusalem (Cocainacopia) cassette 4.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
SATYRICON Dark Medieval Times (Moonfog) cd 12.98
Now reissued and available again, this is the very very first black metal record (!) that I (Andee) ever bought, along with Cradle Of Filth's The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, and upon my very first listen was immediately converted to the dark side. The circumstances of my introduction certainly helped. There are plenty of ways to be introduced to new music, getting a mix tape, having a friend play it for you, hearing it on the radio, whatever, but my introduction to black metal was a little different. And a whole lot better if you ask me. There was a cool punk rock collective record store here in SF years ago (Epicenter, now long gone). I used to work at the thrift store downstairs, so like any self respecting record nerd, I spent all my free time upstairs listening, browsing, shopping, hanging out. There was a woman who worked there who was a punk rock / metalhead dream come true. Super tall, lots of spikes and leather and denim, waist length dyed dreadlocks, earrings, noserings, huge black boots, tattoos, and on top of all that she was totally drop dead gorgeous. Almost like a super model dressed up as a metalhead. And as you might imagine she seemed absolutely and totally unapproachable. Well, one day, she started talking to me, handed me this disc and the Cradle Of Filth and insisted that I'd dig 'em. Not sure why she thought I would or how she may have known, but it hardly mattered, she was talking to me, and there was no way I was not going to walk up to the counter with her and leave proudly clutching those discs. Thankfully, I did in fact love both of them, and like I mentioned, I immediately became obsessed with black metal. My mysterious black metal angel drifted off and disappeared, but my love of black metal stuck. Hard to imagine not being blown away by this record, Satyricon's debut, a gloriously dense, snarling black buzz, with plenty of loping Viking flecked riffage, haunting folky acoustic breaks, blasting double kick, howled guttural vocals. Coming long before the super polished black tech of Satyricon's later records, this is raw and furious, the production is lo-fi but still super thick and heavy, lots of reverb, lots and lots of buzz and fuzz, perfectly situated between the ultra complex blasts of Emperor and Mayhem and the plodding hypnotic buzz of Burzum. It's plenty weird too, huge too-loud keyboard swells, haunting angelic vocals, buzzing sing songy riffs, but already even way back then, you could hear the hints of Satyricon's future as black metal masters, so heavy and strangely catchy, weird and warped, but totally grim and utterly black.
"Walk The Path Of Sorrow" MPEG Stream:
"Dark Medieval Times"
SATYRICON Intermezzo II (Nuclear Blast) cd 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A four-song teaser to Rebel Extravaganza full-length. Much in the tradition of their Meggido ep, Norwegian black metal masters Satyricon veer off into left field a bit with a new song, a remix of an old song, a cover (a weirdly futuristic version of old school Brazilian thrashers Sarcafago's "INRI"), and an electronic-ambient experimental track.
SATYRICON Megiddo (Moonfog) cdep 13.98
Satyricon are one of the more advanced Norwegian black metal bands around, and this four song ep is a worthy addition to their catalog...you get a live recording, a re-recording, and a Motorhead (!) cover, but the highlight is the techno (!!) remix of "The Dawn Of A New Age" from their last masterpiece, the Nemesis Divina album. And it's not at all lame, in fact, it might be the way to introduce your friends in the baggy pants to the joy of corpsepaint.
SATYRICON Nemesis Divina (Century Media) cd 14.98
One of the best, most influential, most perfectly grim and black, most brutal, and most importantly one of our -favorite- black metal records EVER! Easily the bands finest moment. When anyone asks us to recommend the most essential black metal releases EVER, this record vies for the top spot along with Burzum's Filosefem, Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse, Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger and Immortal's Blizzard Beasts. Pretty seriously daunting company for sure, but depending on our mood, a lot of the time Nemesis Divina easily bumps the others out of the top spot. From the all time classic "Mother North", quite possibly THE catchiest black metal songs ever, to the barely audible sscccching! of a sword being unsheathed about 3 minutes into the first song, to the fucking awesome band photos, this record is tough to beat. Any of the above mentioned records would be perfect introductions into the grim world of black metal, but somehow, Nemesis Divina seems like the perfect secret weapon, the record that even a non-metalhead would hear and be forced to bow down to the dark lord. So fucking great!
SATYRICON Nemesis Divina lp 17.98
Available on vinyl again! Here's our review of this Norwegian BM masterpiece from when we reviewed the cd version year and years ago: One of the best, most influential, most perfectly grim and black, most brutal, and most importantly one of our -favorite- black metal records EVER! Easily the band's finest moment. When anyone asks us to recommend the most essential black metal releases EVER, this record vies for the top spot along with Burzum's Filosefem, Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse, Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger and Immortal's Blizzard Beasts. Pretty seriously daunting company for sure, but depending on our mood, a lot of the time Nemesis Divina easily bumps the others out of the top spot. From the all time classic "Mother North", quite possibly THE catchiest black metal songs ever, to the barely audible sscccching! of a sword being unsheathed about 3 minutes into the first song, to the fucking awesome band photos, this record is tough to beat. Any of the above mentioned records would be perfect introductions into the grim world of black metal, but somehow, Nemesis Divina seems like the perfect secret weapon, the record that even a non-metalhead would hear and be forced to bow down to the dark lord. So fucking great!
SATYRICON Now, Diabolical (Century Media) cd 14.98
That title sounds like an advertising line. New, improved... now, diabolical! The weird thing is, Norwegian black metal originators Satyricon (thee big shots, along with Darkthrone, Emperor, Mayhem, Immortal and a handful of others) have ALWAYS been plenty diabolical. If they'd called the album Now, Rockin' that would maybe make more sense, as this disc takes the midtempo blackened rock sound of tracks like "Fuel For Hatred" from their previous effort Volcano even further into "I just burned down a church, but I want my MTV" territory. Maybe the title IS an advertising line, trying to reassure old school fans that they haven't lost their way on the left-hand path. Well, it's true that the relatively melodic, headbanging catchiness of many of these tracks isn't perhaps what people expect from grim Nordic black metal warriors like Satyricon -- but we're not complaining. Further curveballs include a horn section on one track, clean (guest) vocals on another. But rest assured, the Grover growl and Slayerizing guitar riffs of Satyr, as well as Frost's muscular drum battery, are also all in full effect, and Snorre Ruch of Thorns appears besides, so it's no drastic break from their past, though it's certainly Volcano to which this sounds the most akin. You can go listen to Frost's other (excellent) band 1349 if true, pure blazing blackened grimnity is all you desire, but we're enjoying Now, Diabolical's dire, gloomy rock n' roll apocalypse just fine at the moment!! Includes bonus track and (unfortunately, cheesy MTV style) video clip.
"Now, Diabolical" MPEG Stream:
SATYRICON Rebel Extravaganza (Nuclear Blast) cd 14.98
One of Norway's premier black metal bands shows even the likes of Emperor who's boss with this amazing new disc. Eschewing their previous sword-wielding medieval fixation for a focus on the grit and horror of modern urban nightmare, these guys have crafted a dizzyingly intense, heavy, and always surprising masterpiece. They hint at the industrial/electronica weirdness of label-mates Dodheimsgard (or contempories Ulver & Arcturus) without totally going that route - they keep it metal, they keep it black, they keep it Satyricon. But it's somehow more twisted and filthy than before (yes, filthy, as in the songs "Filthgrinder" and "Rhapsody In Filth"). Genius. NB new domestic version tacks on the Intermezzo II ep as a bonus.
SATYRICON Ten Horns Ten Diadems (Moonfog) cd 14.98
It's a tough call, but I think I can safely say that Satyricon is definitely our #1 favorite black metal band. Burzum's Filosefem or Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse or Dissection's Storm Of The Light's Bane are certainly contenders for best black metal records ever, and there are hundreds of other mindblowing bands/records, but as far as consistancy and brutality and originality and forward thinkingness and sheer kick ass-ness, Satyricon leads the pack. After ten years and nary a false step, Satyricon continue to reign supreme. This commemorative box celebrates Satyricon's first decade in grand fashion compiling a greatest hits, with a song from their upcoming full length album Volcano to whet our appetites. Greatest hits are always a risk, and aren't always the way to go in terms of an introduction to a band, and Ten Horns is no different. If you were to buy only one Satyricon record, we would have to insist on the unsurpassed Nemesis Divina, a record that even non-metalheads here at AQ are proud to have in their collections. An frosty epic of grandiose, ultra complex and ultra brutal black metal. Melodies are pummelled with furious blast beats and walls of furious guitars. Two of that album's best tracks are included here including the classic "Mother North"! As are two tracks from their last record, the brilliantly titled Rebel Extravaganza, which is good enough to almost be Nemesis Divina pt. 2. Also included are some older tracks from their debut Dark Medieval Times and their less well known second record The Shadowthrone, more primitive and buzzing, but definitely hinting at the greatness to come. The big selling points though are the two exclusive tracks, "Serpent's Rise" exclusively for this compilation, and "Repined Bastard Nation" from their forthcoming Volcano record. The new direction is exciting, hinting at a slower doomier direction. We can't wait. Packaged in a fancy box, with an equally fancy digipak inside and a booklet of lyrics and exclusive photos past and present. As well as super cheesy centerfold of a dirty girl in a bikini, laying amidst all the Satyricon collectibles. Dumb! So if you're only ever gonna buy one Satyricon record, make it Nemesis Divina, but if you want a great overview of their recorded output, or you are a completist and need the exclusive track, or you can't wait and need a sneak peak of the new record, then you can't go wrong with this collection. SUPER LIMITED. So if you want one, ACT FAST!
"Mother North" RealAudio clip:
"Serpent's Rise" RealAudio clip:
"Repined Bastrad Nation"
SATYRICON The Age Of Nero (Koch) cd 16.98
All hail! Here's the 2009 release from the band who, along with Emperor, Immortal, Darkthrone, Mayhem and very few others, basically established the template/threw down the gauntlet for a vast majority of all the black metal we've raved about over the years. This Norwegian duo - frontman Satyr and drumgod Faust - have earned their rep as black metal legends. Yet they still keep pushing to get bigger and better... bigger at any rate. Their last couple of albums (Volcano and Now, Diabolical) saw them developing in a more commercial, or at least more mainstream metal, ROCK direction. While they didn't pull a Metallica, they definitely moved out of the underground. More power to 'em, even though they don't boast the best corpsepainted band photos in the biz anymore... Now, with The Age Of Nero, we hear a Satyricon comfortable with their new, MTV-ready "black n' roll" status, but who also stand ready to remind their old fans just how grim and blasting and blackened they can be. With extra help from their old pal Snorre Ruch of the very cult Thorns, they've crafted a bombastic attack that's truly grim yet grooving, mostly midtempo and exceedingly tight. And quite catchy, a quality certainly not limited only to this disc's designated "hit single" / video clip "Black Crow On A Tombstone". (By the way, we dig that song, but sorry, the video is too funny, the slicked-back Satyr especially ridiculous, check it out on YouTube sometime...!) But if you only -hear- the song, it'll knock you on your ass. A massive, pounding "hit" indeed. While some bemoan the overall "slowdown" of their sound, some of our favorite moments here are those more atmospheric ones, like the moody breaks in the midst of "The Wolfpack" for instance. And they can still grind you to dust beneath the lashing brutality of their distorted guitars, seasick riffage, and (when it kicks in) blazing battery. One of the album's other highlights is the epic closer, "Den Siste", which sees the return of the horn section that appeared on Now, Diabolical but also is sung/rasped entirely in Satyr's native Norwegian, old school style. Horns in black metal have always been all right with us, actually, from Potentiam to Sear Bliss to Den Saakaldte. While we wonder if this band will every really surprise us again, that's ok. They can bring this brand of heaviness on album after album and we'll be happy!
" Black Crow On A Tombstone" MPEG Stream:
"The Wolfpack" MPEG Stream:
"Die By My Hand"
SATYRICON The Shadowthrone (Moonfog) cd 12.98
Not sure why but Satyricon's second allbum, The Shadowthrone, originally released in 1994, is the one Satyricon record that always seems to be overlooked, which is a shame as it is most definitely one of the defining moments in Norwegian black metal. It could very well be that it was the transitional record, the sophmore slump, following hot on the heels of Dark Medieval Times, Satyricon's amazing debut, and right before Nemesis Divina, arguably one of the best black metal records ever. Thus positioned it's easy to overlook, but at the same time, it's the record where Satyricon were shifting from raw grim blackness, to a whole 'nother level. So in some ways it's the most interesting, a confusional mix of the ultra raw brutality of their debut and the dense complexity that was to come. The Shadowthrone is classic Norwegian black metal, buzzing and thrashing, mostly a seasick midtempo lurch, but occasionaly bursting into a buzzing lightning fast blur. The production is still thick and fuzzy, the riffs hover in a thick morass of reverb, with vocals that are totally grim and demonic as well as insane drumming courtesy of Frost who was already a fucking monster behind the kit. Like the records released on either side of it, The Shadowthrone is full of killer riffs, strangely catchy hooks, droney folky interludes, and some of the best black metal songs ever. Satyricon at this point were still drifting sonically betwixt the buzz and drone of Burzum and the technical blackness of Emperor (definitely not a bad place to be), but the Shadowthrone took them one step closer to their epochal release, 1996's Nemesis Divina. And even though Nemesis Divina is most definitely the bands defining moment, it would be a shame to let that record's reputation overshadow what is, on its own merits, a totally amazing and absolute classic black metal record. The Shadowthrone also boasts some killer cover art as well as the best barcode ever (you'll just have to buy it to see!).
"Hvite Krists Dod" MPEG Stream:
"In The Mist By The Hills"
SATYRICON Volcano (Capitol Norway) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yes! The new Satyricon! Black metal fans rejoice! Satyr and Frost are back with another slab of cold twisted grimness to rock you. Actually, we've had copies of this import disc for several weeks now, but held off on listing it 'cause we were hoping that a domestic release was imminent. But, alas, that does not seem to be the case. Now that these Norwegian gods are on a big major label over in Europe, there's some corporate bullshit preventing an indie from putting out "Volcano" over here. So, it's only available as an expensive import for the foreseeable future. However, we assure you that it's well worth the extra $$$ you'll pay! Satyricon have long been one of our favorite Nordic metal bands, maybe our number one fave, and "Volcano" only builds upon the artistry of their previous masterpiece "Rebel Extravaganza". This doomy, dark and violent disc is full of the usual Satyricon surprises. Voivod-dense, industrial prog-metal soundscapes built upon Frost's brutal drum battery and Satyr's throat-torn vox, precise and massive guitar riffing, and sci-fi synths. The totally rockin', almost Killing Joke-ish punk headbanger "Fuel For Hatred". Guest vocals on several tracks from Bjork-esque Norwegian electronica diva Anja Garbarek. A disc-closing, fourteen-minute epic of heaviness called "Black Lava" which boasts the amazing line: "Autumn in the air, the smell of black metal 1990-95"! Aside from the somewhat un-thrilling cover art (a snake's head), and that they allowed the label to change the album's title from the eccentric spelling "Vulcano" to the mundane "Volcano", these guys can do no wrong. NB. we've only got five of these, and it might be a while before we can get more, so please don't cry if we tell you they're all gone already...
"Angstridden" RealAudio clip:
"Fuel For Hatred"
SATYRICON Volcano (Columbia / Red Ink) cd 14.98
If you didn't already get the import version of this, the most recent slab of cold twisted black metal grimness from Norwegian black metal gods Satyricon, when it came out back in 2002, now at last it has been released domestically and should not be overlooked. Indeed, serious fans might want to get it AGAIN 'cause this version includes a bonus video track that the import did not. Satyricon have long been one of our favorite Nordic metal bands, maybe our number one fave, and Volcano only builds upon the artistry of their previous masterpiece Rebel Extravaganza. This doomy, dark and violent disc is full of the usual Satyricon surprises. Voivod-dense, industrial prog-metal soundscapes built upon Frost's brutal drum battery and Satyr's throat-torn vox, precise and massive guitar riffing, and sci-fi synths. The totally rockin', almost Killing Joke-ish punk headbanger "Fuel For Hatred". Guest vocals on several tracks from Bjork-esque Norwegian electronica diva Anja Garbarek. A disc-closing, fourteen-minute epic of heaviness called "Black Lava" which boasts the amazing line: "Autumn in the air, the smell of black metal 1990-95"! Aside from the somewhat un-thrilling cover art (a snake's head), and that they allowed the label to change the album's title from the eccentric spelling "Vulcano" to the mundane "Volcano", these guys can do no wrong.
"Angstridden" MPEG Stream:
"Fuel For Hatred"
SCHRAT Schattenwahn (Misanthropic Art Productions) cd 13.98
This is the second full length from this German black metal horde, and like most black metal records, opens with an intro (or 'Prolog' here), but this intro had us immediately mesmerized, sounding like some strange organ driven seventies soundtrack, all Goblin-y and Carpenter-ish, creaking guitar strings simulating rusty old hinges, while the organ metes out a creepy ominous funereal dirge, all underpinned by an ominous low end fog horn like drone, we secretly found ourselves hoping the band weren't actually black metal, that despite the illegible logo and the grim black and white artwork and the corpse painted band members (who do look seriously bad ass to be fair), they were in fact ambient soundtrackers or experimental soundscapers, but our disappointment when discovering that they were indeed a black metal band, lasted about ten seconds, before we were totally won over, and sucked into their buzzing, howling, frosty maelstrom of grimbuzz and blackblast, a creepy almost atmospheric doomed out beginning, gives way to a furious frenetic black blowout, that again surprisingly switches gears and infuses their buzzing blackness with some classic metal style riffery, some weirdly hooky melody, and some killer almost punkish riffing, all of this delivered with a fury and intensity that is exactly why we love true grim black metal. There's nothing super experimental about this stuff, or more accurately fucked up or weird. There is definitely an experimental bent, but it's subtly woven into the fabric of these gloriously black missives, the opener alone is a dizzying epic, that flits from doomy churn, to pounding classic metal, to soaring majestic blackness, to gnarled grinding buzz, the guitars thick and caustic, the drumming an avalanche of blasts and pounds, and the vocals, a demonic rasp, that all adds up to some seriously classic modern blackness. The record finishes off with an outro that mirrors the Goblin/Carpenter aspirations of the intro, all operatic and mysterious, with a strange spoken word over circusy organs and soaring strings, clouds of ethereal angelic vox, perfectly bookending the black buzz that lies in between.
"Mal Der Schande" MPEG Stream:
"Schwarze Brut" MPEG Stream:
SCHREI AUS STEIN Talus (Starlight Temple Society) cd-r 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We've long been a fan of Encomiast, never tiring of his gorgeous drone explorations, so when we discovered that the man behind Encomiast also had a black metal band, it seemed like a no brainer, and indeed, the music of Schrei Aus Stein manages to fuse Encomiast's deep rumbling drone music, with a strangely washed out and hypnotic midtempo buzz drenched black metal, this is not blazing riffy thrashing black metal, no this is a murky sprawling blackened oozing blackness, the riffs super distorted to the point of almost becoming drones themselves, the vocals are buried in the mix, the drums are simple and skeletal, the buzz and black infused with haunting melodies, the songs heaving and lumbering, the overall sound very Burzumic, but also weirdly poppy and melodic, not glaringly so, but within the swirling black mass of sound, melodies creep out only to disappear again, a few of the tracks sound almost gothic, with a bit of a cold wave vibe, definitely some Joy Divisiony low end going on in the background. Another song starts out all high end Sunroof! style ur-drone, only to splinter into a loping depressive black metal pound, while another is all slow building and doomy, a little post rocky, with soaring riffs and simple motorik drumming, and the final track is all slow motion SUNNO))) dirge, which quickly gives way to something much more melodic and pretty, a sort of shoegazey soft doom, that slowly builds to a wall of blurred noise, only to finally explode in a frenzy of blasting flute flecked proggy black metal tangle, eventually blissing out into yet more shoegazey dreaminess, before fading into streaks of effected flute. Housed in a DVD case, with photocopied insert, and LIMITED TO 200 COPIES!!
"Serac" MPEG Stream:
"Lenticulars" MPEG Stream:
SCHULTZ, STEVEN AND FRIENDS Stalin Claus Superstar! (Spam Records) 4cd 14.98
On New Arrivals list #301, we began a perhaps ill advised campaign to relist all of the insane and ridiculous releases by long time aQ pal, and musical, um... genius, Steven Schultz. Now living in Japan, with a wife and a child, he left us a stash of records, so we could spread the word to a whole new generation! Folks who just discovered aQ and the list, might have missed out on some of these gems, none more over the top, baffling and befuddling than this massive 4cd rock opera. Here's what we had to say about it when we first listed it way back in 2001. But be warned, only a very few can handle the brain frying whatthefuck that is STALIN CLAUS SUPERSTAR!!! Subtitled, Another Suplex Prune Hittite Fantasy! But we think this needs a little more explanation. Argh. Ok, some of you will remember Steven Schultz for his remarkable History of Vats cd, or his rap album, the I Forgot To Get A Rap Name! cd-r. Now, although I doubt the world is ready, he unleashes his most absurd opus yet: the three-and-a-half-hour, four-cd boxed-set rock opera "Stalin Claus Superstar!". And it's only 15 bucks (how do they do it?). Yes, Steve, with co-composer/collaborator Jason Kocol (who, in a small-world-after-all twist, was second runner up in the Guitar Godathon contest that Allan got to judge a few years back!) and a cast of thousands, have created what must be the most STUPID yet impressively massive and well-executed (and thus, sad) home-recorded rock opera (or anything) ever! Musically, this ranges from faux-soundtrack orchestrations to circus-y Frank Zappa/Mr. Bungle goofiness to pretty excellent black metal pastiche and indie-rock parody. Did we mention Frank Zappa? Yes. And if 4-cds of just the music itself wouldn't drive you insane, then there's the crucial matter of the lyrics. This is where it gets *really* stupid. The opera is about, uh, ohmigod I can't cope... concepts/characters like Captain Lou Albano and his Evil Black Metal Beardhairs, a Hittite Salesman, Hulk Hogan, a singing bedpan, Retin-A, Spectral Carl Sagan...argh. Here are some of the song titles: "The Bodyslamming of the Flowcharts in Full Effect", "Check Your Elf Before You Wreck Your Elf", "Fuckin' Ancient Sumer", "Self-Ripping Shirt Negotiations In Grueling Detail"...argh. I give up. Let me just quote from Steve's introduction in the liner notes, where he both describes the opera and attempts to pre-empt criticism: "...the plot ties together cutting-edge neurobiology, pro wrestling, the secrets of Stonehenge, Black Metal madness, the hidden connection between Santa and Stalin, Bronze age tribes of the Mideast, the spread of media empires via satellite communication, and of course the archeological ramifications of the Slim Jim. Why? Why take on a musical project as insanely difficult as it is totally unnecessary? Why do something so complex as to baffle all but the most intelligent, and yet so juvenile as to alienate anyone with half a brain? So preposterous it would embarrass Wagner, yet so...well anyway... The answer is simple: this opera answers the universal human questions of our age...Why do we grow old and die? How does Retin-A really work? What's in that omelet? What happens if a bunch of senile Systems Analysts shoot Randy Savage's brain at an unsuspecting Iraqi plum farmer who fancies himself a Muslim Marqui Marq? Well perhaps the answer to the last question is common knowledge these days, what with the 'internet' and all, but clearly Americans are ready to ask the other questions. If you really want to know the hidden connection between Stalinism and Stonehenge, would you trust N'Sync to provide all the answers? Garth Brooks? Deicide??? No, you'll have to turn to us -- the 'operageneers'!" The four cds come packaged in a cardboard box, complete with a thick booklet providing you with the entire libretto, and more. Basically, this is the Conet Project of "comedy"! (that is, if you can consider this comedy...) This also features a special guest star, a certain local metal singer who desperately desires to remain anonymous, who, as a favor for Steve, played the role of Hulk Hogan! ...I also think I heard Bob Dylan on here... So, if you think pro wrestling characters from the '80s are amusing and that the slang term 'hella' is funny and you like Frank Zappa, or if you are simply a connoisseur of the idiotically ridiculous, this is for you!! Don't say we didn't warn you. Basically, if you can stand to listen to the entire thing, you've got problems. (See http://www.hellodamage.com/warusaru/stalinclaus/finalflow2.gif for a helpful flowchart explaining the, uh, plot.)
"Kaos In My Beard" MPEG Stream:
SCULPTURED Embodiment (The End Records) cd 12.98
SEA OF TREES Aokigahara (Misanthropic Art Productions) cd ep 9.98
Debut ep from this Dutch atmospheric depressive black metal horde, named for an infamous forest in Japan infamous for its suicides, and like the recent double disc from long time aQ faves Happy Days, Sea Of Trees traffic in the same sort of lilting, sorrowful super melodic blackness, that sonically owes more to post rock and jangle pop really than black metal, the only real elements making this black metal, the buzz, although plenty of pop is rife with buzz, and the vocals, which are of the shrieking, hysterical, almost operatic bent, and it's those vocals, that may just relegate this to black metal fans. Which is a shame, cuz the music is gorgeous, lush acoustic guitars, swoonsome sad melodies, the arrangements simple, but hypnotic and heavy, the opening track slipping from folky and acoustic, to dirgey and doomy, to soaring and sorrowfully majestic, the guitars (of which there are THREE), unfurling melancholic laments over blurred crumbling distorted dirges, and then BAM, the band will explode into some serious buzzing, blasting black metal buzz, but even then, the sound remains impossibly melodic and miserable minor key, and then before too long, it shifts right back into a more midtempo pound, before finishing off in a squall of buzzy, shoegaze blackened pop. The vocals mostly shriek, but occasionally get super dramatic and crazily over the top, which somehow suits the sound. Fans of Lifelover, Happy Days of course, Urfaust and other similarly pop minded weirdo black metal outfits will dig big time. After a brief classical acoustic guitar interlude, the second proper track stumbles into action, a blurred, blackened dirge, much less poppy and melodic than the opener, but with plenty of classic metal-isms hidden among the shrieking dirgery, and when the track shifts gears a minute in, it does end up aligning itself closer to the dour poppiness of the opener, but here, the sound is distinctly darker and doomier, the guitars still epic and majestic, the classic metal vibe all but taking over in places, a whole record of tracks like this would have the true metal-heads worshipping at the altar of Sea Of Trees, but for now, we can revel in this brief bit of black pop / dirge doom / post-rock / black metal weirdness. Awesome packaging too, the disc itself a 3" embedded in a proper 5" cd sized plastic disc, the screen printing over the disc proper, but also designs printed on the clear portion of the disc. Quite striking!
"Aokigahara I" MPEG Stream:
SEAR BLISS The Arcane Odyssey (Candlelight) cd 14.98
This Hungarian black metal act is perhaps best known for their use of the trombone -- not your everyday metal instrument, right? Of course trombone alone isn't enough to sustain a career (this is their sixth album) nor our interest for that matter (though it helps), and so it's also clearly to Sear Bliss' benefit that they have mastered the dark art of composing thunderously heavy, melodic yet grim black metal songs. The tootin' trombone just makes 'em all the more grand and majestic. Lesser bands would rely entirely upon synthesized keyboard coloration to create such moods. And while Sear Bliss do use keyboards, they also have folks playing violin, flute, euphonium, trumpet, and of course trombone, as well as sundry ethnic instruments with which we're not familiar, presumably of Hungarian origin. The folk-tinged results are slickly impressive, definitely dramatic, orchestrally progressive, yet still iron-fistedly metallic (with gruff vocals, blazing drums, and badass guitar shred). The music of Sear Bliss bears comparison to the atmospheric Viking prog of Norway's Enslaved and the eccentric cinematic symphonics of Japan's Sigh -- two AQ faves. When we can say that about a band, and there's trombone too, well that's an automatic thumbs up!
"Blood On The Milky Way" MPEG Stream:
"A Deathly Illusion" MPEG Stream:
"Lost And Not Found"
SECHT True Narcotic Black Metal (Sublife Productions) cd 16.98
An unusual and utterly unhinged black metal album from two of the members of Norway's Neetzach (whose debut cd we reviewed a couple lists ago), Vrangsinn and Dirge Rep. They call Secht "a musical piece of pure insanity". We'd agree, though some might take exception to the "musical" part. They go on to say that it was "composed under Satanic and Narcotic influence" which we do believe. Seriously though, this is certainly a cult concept: it's all one 37 minute track, starting off with drizzling rain-sounds and melancholic acoustic guitar, developing a disturbing, droning atmosphere with baby-like black metal mewlings before unleashing a full-on electric guitar and drums assault, building ever-heavier and more frenzied, with angular breakdowns and an overall extremely maniacal vibe. About twenty four minutes in, it returns to hissing ambience, a creeped-out chill-out in the forest before a final dose of chattering distortion ends the album. File with Abruptum, Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra, Caacrinolas, Rakhim, and whatever other semi-improvised, soundscapey, single-tracked, non-standard black metal you can think of... And making this even more crazed and cult, since the Secht duo are such scenesters they were able to enlist such friends/fiends as Gaahl (Gorgoroth), Nattefrost (Carpathian Forest), and Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone) amongst others to provide additional screams n' sounds!
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SECRET, THE Solve Et Coagula (Southern Lord) cd 13.98
We had never heard anything from these Italian blackgrind crustmetal crushers before, but holy shit is their Southern Lord debut a seriously fierce and ferocious slab of extreme brutality, crushing post metal sludge, insanely frantic metallic hardcore, blasting black metal buzz, crusty feedback drenched filth, gnarled downtuned grind all woven into a little over 34 minutes of skull caving, spine wrenching, ear destroying heaviness. The killer 'dripping black goat' Justin Bartlett cover art is the perfect visual accompaniment for Solve Et Coagula, although we did actually assume these guys were gonna be buzzing blasting true black metal, but the truth was better than we would have hoped for. The record opens with a long stretch of layered guitar buzz, droned out and hypnotic, tense and intense, gradually building, howled hellish vox buried just under the surface, like a blackened Sunroof! almost, or some Neurosis intro music, and then when the band kicks in, that's just what it sounds like, a plodding doomic lumber, epic and majestic, a sort of Neur-Isis-y post metal trudge, the vocals harsh, over tangled guitars, and then the song REALLY kicks in and gets even heavier, a massive churning chunk of post metal doom sludge, which barely prepares you for the next the next 8 tracks, averaging less than 2 minutes each, of furious blasting metallic pummel, grinding frenzied crunch giving way to crushing d-beat blast, giving way to squalls of punkmetal chaos, occasionally slipping back into something more sludgey, but never for long, always exploding again into caustic bursts of throat shredding vokills, impossibly dense drumming, super distorted guitars, and gnarled mathy arrangements. Until "Eve Of The Last Day", mirroring the opening track, with its soaring guitar buzz, its spaced out drum pound, a majestic epic, that finally slips into a seriously crushing chug heavy dirge. "War Desire" is the record's last bit of punk metal crunch, before the twisted finale, simply titled "1968", super mathy and complex, lots of lurching start stop arrangements, the guitars super tangled, before splintering into an awesomely psychedelic breakdown, all swirling FX freakout and abstract drum crush, the middle portion gets a bit melodic, and if possible, somehow even heavier, a lumbering, lurching groove, that spaces out into a tribal droney slow burn outro, eventually leaving just streaks of feedback, blurred high end drones, and a mysterious sampled voice. So fucking awesome. Heavy music obsessives of all stripes (black, doom, post, crust) should for sure check this out...
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"Eve Of The Last Day"
SEELENGREIF Jenseits Der Schatten (Tour De Garde) cd ep 12.98
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SEIDR For Winter Fire (The Flenser) cd 9.98
Featuring one part Kentucky crusty black metallers Panopticon, and one part Kentucky blacknoise buzzers Wheels Within Wheels, one might not have expected something so melodic, but for all its melody, the debut from Seidr is also a crushingly heavy slab of doooooooooom. Laced liberally with post rock, shoegaze, blackdrone, and really pretty much anything else these guys felt like mixing in. The good news is that somehow, even with all of those disparate elements, the final sound is so much more than its constituent parts. The tracks are long, and they build slow, the guitars spidery and softly reverby, the drums tribal, eventually exploding into thick swaths of blackened doom, the guitars grinding and chugging, the drums pounding, the vocals a demonic bellow, but even once the heaviness ensues, those spidery guitar melodies keep right on, intertwining with the heavier chug and churn, transforming what would otherwise be more standard doom/sludge into something weirdly washed out and sort of pretty. And yeah, we know you're not supposed to describe stuff this heavy as pretty, but fuck it, we're pretty sure that's what these guys were going for, the perfect balance of extreme heaviness and delicate melody. The obvious comparisons will be Neurosis, Isis, Pelican, even Asunder and Agalloch, but Seidr's sound is way more black and way more doooooooomy, plus there's definitely plenty of Mogwai and Godspeed and Explosions In The Sky going on as well, which is fine with us. The sound is darkly emotional, heavy as fuck, and super melodic, even at its heaviest, the sound manages to exude emotion and melody, which is rare, especially without losing any of its heft, Seidr definitely seem like the oddball on Flenser, which has so far trafficked pretty much exclusively in black metal, but Seidr's sound is still pretty black, and hell, maybe this is the band that gets Flenser noticed beyond the grim kvlt underground. Although, that said, for all of Seidr's post rockisms, and melody, they're far from being anywhere close to mainstream, this is still some seriously twister, blackened postrock black doom heaviness, and we're digging it big time.
"A Vision From Hlidskjalf" MPEG Stream:
"On The Shoulders Of The Gods"
SEKTOR 304 Soul Cleansing (Malignant) cd 10.98
Epic crushing metallic industrial heaviness, the kind of thing we thought they just didn't make anymore, but this is total Swans / Godflesh / Cop Shoot Cop worship, pounding metallic percussion, soundscapes of whirring drills, blown out low slung bass, howled distorted vox, the whole thing so repetitive and mantric, thick slabs of distorted rumble wrapped around tons of damaged electronics, bleating horns buried beneath reverb drenched beats, some songs are full on walls of twisted electronic crunch, others are brooding, droning skeletal sprawls, laid over deep blurred basslines, and tribal rhythms, some are dense whorls of deeeeeep sinister black ambience, all darkly drifting layers, and distant bits of clang and shimmer. For a few moments here and there, the sound gets downright poppy, like some sort of washed out post industrial deathrock, but even then, it's shot through with a seriously menacing sonic undercurrent that seeps into every beat, and every note. Filthy, crusty, heavy, haunting, crushing and brutal, the perfect mix of old school industrial pound, and more modern bleak blackness. Fucking fierce and frightening, grim and punishing, and we're digging it like crazy.
"Body Hammer" MPEG Stream:
"Gravity Factor" MPEG Stream:
SEPULCHRAL CRIES A Sombre Soul (Misanthropic Art Production) cd 13.98
SEPULCHRAL CRIES Misery Exhibits (Misanthropic Art Production) cd 13.98