V/A Anti-Geldof Compilation (Supernal) 2cd 33.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
ASHES "Fimbulvetr" MPEG Stream:
ASTROFAES "A Moment Of Immortality" MPEG Stream:
BENIGHTED LEAMS "Believe, Submit, Obey" MPEG Stream:
CONTRA IGNEM FATUUM "The Belly Of Black Attrition" MPEG Stream:
DARK AGES "1347"
V/A Audio Apogee - Frequency Thirteen Records Compilation: An Anti Baroque Fieldtrip Into Aire Movement And Grey Vibration (Frequency Thirteen) 2xcd-r 9.98
It's been a while, but finally, the return of Frequency Thirteen, and TRUE SHEFFIELD BLACK PSYCHEDELIA!! Yep, in the past we've championed killer discs from Black Vomit, Ice Bound Majesty, Trolskull, Dukkha and Rape Rack, all offering up a truly twisted take on blackened heaviness, and ever since we've been dying to hear more, so this pretty much hits the spot, a massive sprawling double disc compilation, featuring tracks from most of the Frequency Thirteen roster, and as far as we know, all the tracks here are EXCLUSIVE. So if you're already a fan, and snap up F13 cd-r's whenever you see them, then you obviously need this, exclusive new music from Skultroll, Dukkha and Ice Bound Majesty, as well as a whole mess of others. But for those new to Frequency Thirteen, it's tough to imagine a better introduction to True Sheffield Black Psychedelia. Which is a bit of a misnomer, as much of this is not from Sheffield, much of this is not necessarily black, although it's ALL psychedelic, and it's all TROOOOOOO. Beadle, who we had never heard of before, open up the first disc with a crushing chunk of looped riffage that reminds us of a more blackened Gore, a lurching, lumbering, hypnotic crush. Which perfectly gives way to a new Dukkha jam, that sounds like classic nineties style noise rock, heavy and crunchy and weirdly melodic, with some awesomely twisted melodies and arrangements, and some wild freaked out guitaring. Brobdingnagian who you might remember from their ep on Rusty Axe spews out some noise drenched black filth, like some sort of Ildjarn Merzbow mash up. And so it goes, the whole disc a twisted, convoluted, buzzy, blasting, psychedelic sonic travelogue, with some surprises along the way. Trolskull, slow things down with their murky heroin house minimalism, buried voices, a muted pulse, swirling swaths of synth. Ice Bound Majesty offer up their fiercest filthiest blow out yet, furious and frantic, doused in effects, with programmed drums so fast it almost sounds like a chest rattling drone. Charles Dexter Ward crafts a weird sort of Dan Higgs sounding bit of ritualistic sea shanty style guitar drone, albeit crunchy and distorted, and War Ethic does some weird super murky grindy thrash, but with some skittery almost jazzy sound blastbeats, and there's more more more more. And that's just the first disc! The second disc starts out with some super minimal sinewave shimmer courtesy of a band called Syn, before Dukkha kick shit into gear with the most awesome hypnotic looped psych jam, that would make Circle or Cave proud. In fact, it sort of sounds like a mix of the two, but with a bit more metal drumming, and some convoluted tangled arrangements, but always slipping back into super mesmerizing hypno-rock. KPTMichigan unfurl some gorgeous hazy woozy Tim Hecker like gauzy dronemusic, while Scum Also Rises (awesome name) so some strange post industrial mathy groove rock, that sounds WAY better than that description makes it sound, fat fuzzy bass, weird skittery electronics, all fuzzy and blown out. Sluglord stir up some sort of unholy blackened orchestral doom, all dense tones and deep shimmers, and the Disobedients do a sort of super minimal bedroom doom pop, and Trolskull return with some murky abstract rhythmic weirdness, that sounds a bit like a less loose Avarus, a bit more sinister and haunting and a bit krautrock too. And of course again here, there's more more more! Easily one of our favorite labels, with a roster that should make most other labels bow their heads in shame. And this is definitely one of the few comps where you literally want to hear more from every single band. Fancy packaging too, a fold out die cut full color sleeve, jam packed with about a million inserts, liner notes, an obi... hell, just buy it, you won't be sorry. And odds are, like us, soon you too will find yourself obsessed with TRUE SHEFFIELD BLACK PSYCHEDELIA!!
BROBDINGNAGIAN "You, You Smell Like Death" MPEG Stream:
TROLSKULL "Unutterable Hideousness" MPEG Stream:
DUKKHA "Deu!" MPEG Stream:
PULSAR "Praeternational Light"
V/A Blackened Volume 2 (PHD) 2cd 18.98
An inexpensive double cd collection of over twenty of the world's most evilly evil black metal outfits. A true pantheon of Satanic art: Abigor, Dissection, Satyricon, Enthroned, Impaled Nazarene, Emperor and many others.
V/A Brotherhood Of Light (Brotherhood Of Light) cassette 5.98
After a handful of killer releases (Sunchariot, Svetovid, Surt, Lascowiec, Gnieu, Uruk-Hai) comes this long in the works compilation from local black metal tape label Brotherhood Of Light, which gathers up a handful of rare and unreleased tracks from some of those same groups, as well as a bunch of others in BoL's underground orbit. Up first is local BM duo (trio?) Lascowiec, who unfurl a gorgeous bit of super lo-fi, pastoral psychedelia, that gradually expands into a buzzing black cloud of washed out buzz wrapped around soaring majestic melancholic melodies, stumbling murky drum lope, and some seriously fierce bellowed vokills. Surt deliver a dreamy bit of piano laced drift, haunting and spectral, more of a sonic fragment, but quite lovely, like some lost Caretaker B side all fuzzy and hazy and dreamlike. The oddly named Vinland Special Services layout some strange industrial soundscape, all sampled voices, weird buzz, creaks and clatter, a sprawl of abstract collaged noise, the sound constantly shifting, and eventually splintering into a woozy bout of primitive turntablism, all warbly melodies and warped voices, before slipping back into more strange blackened industrial ambience. Finally, the A side is closed out by Uruk-Hai, and whose sounds is a mournful, depressive black metal drift, that's almost dreamy, with the guitars soaring majestically, the busy bassline providing a woozy melody, the vocals appropriately harsh, but otherwise, it's very Alcest like, all shoegazey and shimmery. The B side starts off with Sunchariot, whose recent tape was a big hit around here, and is a new unreleased track from a forthcoming full length a blurry, bleary washed out avalanche of crumbling buzz, buried drums, muted melodies, and anguished vokills, super bizarre production, definitely can't wait to hear the full length. Up next is Cosmic Breath 88 who deliver a sort of abstract blackened industrial blowout, all flanged guitars, processed vox, and blacknoise buzz. Then there's a super raw, lo-fi chunk of primitive black buzz from USBM outfit Lord Foul, brittle guitars, the sound woozy and warped, almost looped sounding, tranced out and hypnotic. Aryan Art unfurl some surprisingly melodic black buzz, everything washed out and almost dreamy, a little bit shoegazey and blissed out, the vocals super anguished and WAY up in the mix, jarring at first, but then it sorta makes sense. The music gets very folky and medieval, even at its most furious it's sort of warbly and darkly dreamy. And finally, Svetovid finish things off, with some fuzzed out drum machine driven black buzz, laced with inhuman croaked vox and some super fuzzy dreamy melodies, again a weird mix of harsh and pretty, but it makes for a pretty compelling listen. LIMITED TO 200 COPIES!! Each one hand numbered, and housed in full color J-cards.
LASCOWIEC "Ulfhetnar" MPEG Stream:
SVETOVID "Blood On The Ground" MPEG Stream:
SURT "Deeper Into The Void" MPEG Stream:
VINLAND SS "Anticommunist Minutemen"
V/A Crushing The Holy Trinity (Northern Heritage) 3cd 35.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This will most likely end up being the most essential, and due to its ultra limited status, soon to be most sought after, black metal artifact of 2005. Three discs, six bands, some you know, some you've never heard of, all completely killer. And unlike a normal compilation, each band on Crushing The Holy Trinity contributes 20-30 minutes of music instead of just a single five minute track. Three discs, titled appropriately enough, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, two bands to a disc. Most of you will probably need this just for the exclusive Deathspell Omega track, and rightfully so. A single 22 minute track (nearly as long as their recent full length!), epic and totally amazing, lots of moody post rock rhythms, grim black metal crush, and all sorts of damaged squiggly guitars, and unlikely riffs, strange arrangements and all the brilliantly un-black metal stuff that makes DSO's black metal so compelling. But the other five bands manage to hold their own, and then some! The other band on the Father disc with DSO is a band we had never heard of, Stabat Mater, whose lengthy single track is bleak and gorgeously depressive, a monstrous gutteral bellowing over a dreary melancholic doomscape, brutal blackened dooooom. Pretty darn good. Disc Son starts off with four tracks from Finnish BM outfit Musta Surma, another band new to us, who deliver buzzing blasts of harsh and brittle, true and grim sounding thrashy black metal. Then comes Clandestine Blaze, a band we are quite familar with, and who despite having never been reviewed on the AQ list, are one of our favortie BM outfits. Thick guitars, churning and crunchy, with minor key melodies atop them, a bit like Xasthur's Nocturnal Poisoning, all midtempo and hypnotic, with lots of strange ambient drones and creepy martial percussion. Really cool! The final disc, Holy Spirit, introduces us to two more bands we knew nothing about. First up, the curiously named Mgla, who definitely hit the spot for classic grim black metal, super buzzy and droney, very lo-fi, lots of thrashing rhythms and mosquito buzz riffage and demonic howls! The big surprise out of all these bands would definitely have to be Exordium, who completely kicked our asses tens seconds into their first song. Wow! 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! The whole thing comes packaged in super nice, DVD sized cardboard sleeve, with a big booklet, two pages for each bands, with photos and liner notes. SUPER LIMITED. We have a bunch of these in stock, and a bunch more on the way from Finland, but be prepared to be patient, and realize that we won't have these for long!!!
DEATHSPELL OMEGA "Diabolus Absconditus"
V/A Darkthrone, Holy Darkthrone (Moonfog) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Quite possibly the ultimate Norwegian black metal disc EVER. This tribute compilation celebrates the 10 year anniversary of Norway's self-proclaimed "most hated band in the world" Darkthrone, an event that the band themselves suggested be commemorated with a mere backpatch! Lucky for us, their label had a more ambitious idea. Yes, most "tribute" discs suck, but not this one. How could it? The bands and cover material mesh perfectly, and with feeling. The best, evilest, most infamous black metallers in Norway (the likes of Emperor, Satyricon, Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Thorns, Gehenna, Immortal, and Dodheimsgard!) pay homage to one of the oldest, coldest, most trollesque bands on the scene. Totally deadly. Standout track: Thorns' almost "cybernetic" version of "The Pagan Winter".
V/A Destroyers From The Western Skies (As Night Devours The Sun) (Kill Zone) cd 14.98
There was a time, not so long ago, when any self respecting metalhead would have scoffed at a black metal band from the United States. If it wasn't Scandanavian who gave a shit. Sure there were a few bands from Germany or Poland, even the UK, but the US seemed to have nothing to offer in terms of pure grim cult black metal. Well, plenty has changed, and now it seems, outside of a handful of bands from elsewhere, a lot of the truly important, personal and risk taking BM bands come from the US. In fact a good handful of our favorite BM comes from right here in California. If you've been following the AQ list, you've probably become plenty obsessed with the likes of Xasthur, Leviathan, Draugar and Inquisition. And rightfully so. In terms of black metal, these bands have been taking the sound of classic black metal and twisting it to suit their own devices, whether it's Leviathan's post rock flecked avant garde weirdness, or Draugar's demented brain melting confusional freak out, or Xasthur's doomy ultra depressive moodiness, they all offer totally unique and highly personal musical visions filtered through each group's singular perception of what black metal is and sounds like. But outside of black metal, each of these bands is making a wholly unique sound, a dark and dangerous outsider art, based in black metal certainly, but offering up totally original, bizarre and beautiful slabs of droney, dirgey, pummeling, pounding, ambient, abstract musical vision. Most black metal aficionados will no doubt be familiar with many of these bands, but those of you who can't get enough of all the above mentioned bands might find some new bands to obsess over. Mostly exclusive tracks from Leviathan, Xasthur (a Manes cover!), Draugar, Krieg, Azrael, Demoncy, Inquisition, Teratism, Thralldom, Cobalt, Engorge, Typhus, Summon, Bahimiron, Kult Ov Azazel, Harvist and Hordes Of The Lunar Eclipse.
XASTHUR "Maane's Natt" MPEG Stream:
LEVIATHAN "Hissing And Sullen" MPEG Stream:
DRAUGAR "Running From Us"
V/A Devil's Triangle (Illinoisan Thunder) cd-r 8.98
Raw Hatred, Vampyro, and Tjolgtjar together on one blackly blasphemous cd-r!
V/A Eight Acts Of Origin (Raging Bloodlust) lp 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Killer black metal comp featuring exclusive tracks from a few big time aQ faves, the mere mention of which should probably have most of you metalheads frothing at the mouth. Which is good since we only got 20 of these and apparently it's already out of print. So check it out. AKITSA. ASH POOL. WOODS OF INFINITY. Yep, that's all we needed too, to know we had to get some of these. But there are also tracks from Darkest Grove, Pagan Hellfire, Morker, Gaszimmer and Nasheim. Indeed. Here's a quick rundown of the bands and their tracks: Akitsa: A surprisingly plodding dirgey jam, filthy and blackened, raw and grim, with an awesome woozy main riff. Darkest Grove: Some seriously primitive thrashing blackness, the drums buried beneath a layer of relentless old school black metal, grunty growly vocals and soaring epic choruses. Pagan Hellfire: Another blast of brittle lo-fi black metal, plenty raw and buzzy, with a cool loping bridge, and some crazy wheedly guitar shreddery. Ash Pool: Fuck yeah. Been far too long since we've gotten some Ash Pool. Totally fucked up and genius. A damaged gnarled main riff, so killer, woven into a dense mathy arrangements with some lurching start stops, the drums muffled and thumpy but plenty chaotic, the vocals howled then shrieked, and like all Ash Pool, a weird undercurrent of unlikely poppiness. Morker: Super epic, ultra melodic midtempo black metal, that reminds us of Lifelover, melancholy, almost poppy, with an explosion of frenzied blackness near the end of the track. Gaszimmer: These guys give up some WAY lo-fi, practice space, demo tape black metal pound, muted, muffled, the guitars buzzy and brittle, but with an awesome vocalist, who has a sort of maniacal froggy croak, which balances the other, cleaner chantlike vocals. Nasheim: Super abstract and cinematic, and seemingly barely even black metal, epic, sweeping, melodic, like the music that would be playing during the credits of some black metal anime. So weird, but really awesome. Woods Of Infinity: A lurching, tripped out damaged blackened dirge from these weirdos. Mournful guitars laced with off kilter electronics, dueling tortured vocals, howling and crooning and wailing, the whole thing warped and wacked and awesome. Comes with a huge 4 page, 12" x 12" booklet, with band logos, liner notes and lyrics. And fair warning, there is some NSBM action happening here, Gaszimmer is the only blatantly NS band of the bunch, but the title with all the 88 symbolism, and one or two of the tracks, definitely problematic, so if you can look past that stuff, or ignore it, and maybe just get it for Ash Pool and Akitsa and Woods Of Infinity, or just dig the music and pay no heed to whatever lame politics are happening, or maybe just skip/ignore the Gaszimmer track, definitely an awesome collection, otherwise, you have been warned, steer clear. LIMITED TO 488 COPIES, each one hand numbered. Already sold out, last copies ever.
V/A Fenriz Presents: The Best Of Old-School Black Metal (Peaceville) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Okay, if you could choose anyone to make you a classic black metal mix tape, who would it be? Andee? Allan? Well, yeah obviously, but we mean what if you could choose ANYONE? Yep, we'd probably pick Fenriz too. Leader of the mighty Darkthrone, Fenriz definitely knows his black metal first hand. And his selections certainly demonstrate that. And there's even some unlikely choices that perhaps indicate some friend rock influence. But even so, this is a seriously kick ass, introduction to TRUE, CULT old-school black metal. Tracks from Blasphemy, Sarcofago, Celtic Frost, Nattefrost, Mercyful Fate, Sodom, Tormentor, Aura Noir, Destruction, Samael, Bulldozer, Mayhem, Hellhammer, Burzum, Venom and Bathory. Plus cool, funny liner notes. Recommended schoolin'.
HELLHAMMER "The Third Of The Storms" MPEG Stream:
BURZUM "Ea, Lord Of The Deeps"
V/A From The Entrails To The Dirt (End All Life) cd 11.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. **SALE **SALE* *SALE** We figured that since we were reviewing two collections of old Deathspell Omega stuff on this list, that we oughta get a few of these back in, as a few folks probably missed out on this amazing comp when it first came out, featuring as it does excluive Deathspell stuff as well as exclusive music from Antaeus, Mutiilation and Malicious Secrets! Originally released as a series of SUPER limited split vinyl eps, a 7", a 10" and a 12", each teaming up bizarre mysterious French black metallers Malicious Secrets with some of their more well known countrymen: Antaeus, Mutiilation and Deathspell Omega. Holy shit! You might as well stop reading right now and order one of these as fast as you can. You shouldn't even need us to tell you how totally fucking mindblowing this comp is. Antaeus offer up a short buzzing blast of ultra grim blackness, a fuzzed out blur of droning black metal, downtuned guitars, blown out lightning fast blast beats, guttural growls, the whole thing a white hot lo-fi blast of utter brutality. Then of course there's Mutiilation, who not only offer up a reverb drenched burst of atmospheric blackened buzz, also super lo-fi, blasting and buzzing, and hauntingly creepy crawly like it was recorded in a cave or at the bottom of a well, but they also do a cover of Sinatra's "My Way"! But you wouldn't necessarily know it, the croonsome original becomes a harsh pitchfork to the head, dripping with thick droney guitars and shrieking black howls, although it does have a super cool, riffy sort of un-metal breakdown in the middle. Most of you will need this for the final track, a brand new, exclusive to this comp 20 minute epic from Deathspell Omega, rife with impossibly obtuse riffs, weird atonal guitar skree, super complex rhythms, haunting ambient dronescapes, weird math-metal breakdowns, and of course some of the fiercest fucked up black metal ever. Woah. As if that weren't enough, let's not forget the three tracks from Malicious Secrets, each of their three tracks from the splits are totally dizzying swirls of ultra fucked up, BIZARRE black metal, riffs are bent and twisted into impossible shapes, blasting drums are sprayed wildly all over the place, each song is a serpentine, non-linear sonic mindfuck, a huge spastic black churning whirlpool, with little bits of riff or little streaks of blast beat surfacing now and again, while over the whole thing the vocalist moans and groans, low and haunting, each syllable stretched into long drawn out bellows, sometimes breaking into hacking coughs or throat clearing before once again returning to an utterly agonizing wail. So totally fucked up and so totally amazing!
MUTIILATION "My Way" MPEG Stream:
DEATHSPELL OMEGA "Mass Grave Aesthetics"
V/A GUMMO original soundtrack (London) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Soundtrack to Harmony "Kids" Korine's controversial film "Gummo", featuring much in the way of underground black/noise/death/doom metal sounds, some of them previously unreleased. Some names: Spazz, Absu, Bathory, Burzum, Eyehategod, Brujeria, Sleep, Destroy All Monsters, Namanax and more. Oh yeah, AQ-pal and CMJ metal scribe Ian Christe's Dark Noerd (black metal breakbeat band) appears, and Ian's smart musical aesthetic basically sets the tone for the whole collection. Now the question is, will "Gummo" do for any of these bands what "Kids" did for the Folk Implosion?
V/A Hanged Man Vol. 1 (Hanged Man) cassette 4.98
This is the debut release from a new Seattle label, specializing in their own murky darkly psychedelic brand of doom / folk / drone / noise, a sampler of various artists on the label as well as likeminded noisemakers from the area, with a few familiar names (Megabats, Demian Johnston and Inh Halentropy), but way more unfamiliar ones (Kristian Garrard, Karnak Temples, Josh Medina, Them,There, Nightjar, Sokai Stiljed, Thunder:Grey:Pilgrim), all of them contributing this sprawling chunk of droning blackness, strange industrial ambience and looped psychedelic mesmer, all the sonically disparate tracks woven into a collection that works almost as well as an album proper. The familiar names first: abstract avant atmospheric (sort of) black metal weirdo Inh Halentropy lays down some John Carpenter style seventies soundtrack wooziness, all muddy and murky, programmed beats and sci-fi swirl over brooding rumbles, and theremin-like high end melodies, a gorgeous creepily atmospheric chunk of lo-fi faux soundtrackery, while Megabats offer up dense swirls of kosmische synth drift, and glimmering ambient dreamdrug haze, all super blissed out and trippy, and noisenik Demian Johnston delivers some blunted blurred soft-noise, all cavernous and industrial, thick swaths of blurred crumble and greyed out crunch, all smeared into slowly undulating blackened dronemusic. The rest of the tape follows suit, super abstract creaking and crumbling mutates into gauzy almost Pop Ambient loopscaping, thick whirring melodies emerge from slow churning sheets of whirring synths and echoe-y shimmer, delicate acoustic guitars drift amidst sitar like buzz, plaintive vocal harmonies and warm lustrous chordal swells, bleak black rumbles roil ominously through clouds of ominous low end thrum, metallic ragas seem to slowly melt into oozing blackened dronefolk, and finally wild tangles of clipped vocals and shards of melody are stretched out, then layered and looped into a druggy dizzy psych-out. Killer stuff for sure, and odds are pretty dang limited as well...
V/A In Conspiracy With Satan: A Tribute To Bathory (Hellspawn) cd 16.98
Norse black metal pioneers Bathory are honored by some of Nordic black metal's finest bands, including Marduk (2 songs), Emperor, Ophthalamia, Gehennah, Dark Funeral (2 songs), Satyricon, and many more.
V/A King Diamond Tribute (Necropolis) cd 14.98
A diverse spectrum of bands herein interpret the compositions of one of modern metal music's leading lights, the Danish singer, rock conceptualist, and Satanic philosopher King Diamond. Several Scandinavian black metallers who owe so much to the King (and his facepaint) such as Ancient and Dark Funeral participate, as do deathsters like In Aeteurnum, Usurper, and local boys Exhumed. 80's style power metallers Dentiny's End even make an appearance but aside from them KD's trademark multi-ocatave vocals generally get the black metal rasp or death grunt treatment. A fun collection but no match for the real thing.
V/A Matter 10.2007 (Tape Of The Month) (self-released) cassette 5.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Back in September we got the first installment in what was meant to be a sort of tape of the month thing organized and recorded by two local guys, one who you all might know from his weirdo black metal band Amacoma (he also plays in Black Fiction and 3). It was a huge hit (we do have a few copies left if you missed it) and so they immediately got to work on the October installment. So we know what you're thinking, but it wasn't all our fault, just mostly. We got the October tape, right at the end of the month, but then stuff got crazy and we're only now getting around to reviewing it and it's December! But fuck it, just imagine that ten is a twelve and we'll be fine, it's just as cool and weird and varied as the first volume, with each dude taking a side of the tape, and this one like the first is essential for lovers of weirdo black metal as there's a brand new Amocoma track! And it's a doozy, worth the price of admission alone. So buzzy and washed out, it's barely even black metal, it's more like some cavernous black ambient epic, the riffs more like throbbing pulses, the vocals hissy clouds of static, grim and fuzzed out, but because of the extreme blur and smear it's almost like black metal pop ambient. Here and there, the riffage does coalesce into extreme blackness, or splinters off into some spare clean guitar slither, but it always returns to the blossoming avalanche of black buzz. There's a track by a band called Hash Hashish, that's a serious slab of gorgeous distorted dreampop, with some weird almost death metal vocals mixed in as well as some circusy keyboards and a dense wall of My Bloody Valentine blur. The 3 Leafs song is an awesome stretch of super spaced out druggy ambience, all whirling FX and disembodied voices, percussive thud and dark rumbling whir. The flip side is packed with sonic weirdness, it's hard to differentiate which is which (ah, good old tapes!), but there are two tracks by Debre Damo, and two by Atom Eve, they all sort of blend into each other, but it's all awesome. Abstract electronic experimentation, bleeps and bloops, whirs and shimmers, very musiq concrete, woven into dense tripped out garagey space rock with thick guitars and pounding drums and of course lots and lots of FX. Weird alien guitar experiments are stretched out into crumbling glitchy ambience, it seems like maybe the names are just to keep it interesting as the whole side plays like a single piece. As always, dying to hear more from all of these outfits, and keep listening to that Amocoma track over and over...
V/A Moonfog 2000: A Different Perspective (Moonfog) 2cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Norway's most advanced "black metal" label has released a fairly amazing compilation here. Moonfog's incredibly elite roster contributes exclusive material: from the blackened thrash of Eibon (the supergroup containing members of Darkthrone, Mayhem, Necrophagia, Pantera/Viking Crown, and Satyricon making their recorded debut), to Dodheimsgard's mutation into the black metal techno of their new incarnation DHG, to the primitive country/punk black metal of legends Darkthrone (recorded at Necrohell Studios, otherwise known as their 4-track machine), to intense death/black brutality from Gehenna and Thorns, and more. 25 minutes on the cutting edge of Moonfog's vision. Absolutely essential to dedicated fans and adventurous newcomers (as well as the other way around), as this comp really runs the spectrum from classic raw stuff to sacrilegious trip-hop "black metal" 2000. And, as a kind of bonus, you also get a second disc collecting popular cuts by Moonfog bands, compiled by users of The Moonfog Dungeon (i.e. website). They're all previously released tracks, so this can be regarded as a handy mix of some black metal faves.
V/A My Own Wolf: A New Approach To Ulver (Cold Dimensions) 2cd 6.66
We've given tribute albums a bit of stick in the past. After all, the things seem to be a dime a dozen, sometimes the result of genuine fannish enthusiasm but often just a commercially-motivated exploitative exercise. Yet, it's still hard not to be tempted by the concept, as long as the former rather than the latter motivation is in force. (In fact, our own Andee has plans for a tribute album of sorts on his tUMULt label: I'm Sorry And I Miss You, a black metal reimagining of Slint's Spiderland! So we can't bag on 'em all.) Hard to argue with a bunch of your favorite bands doing songs by another favorite, really. And those are obvious rules of what makes a good tribute: a worthy honoree (who has SONGS, not just a "sound"), and a roster of participants from whom you also want to hear. One good example, on this very list we highlight a highly enjoyable tribute to Syd Barrett that certainly obeyed all those rules. The black metal realm has spawned a few tributes, the most worthwhile we can think of being the brilliant (and out of print) Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone. It certainly met those two basic tests of what would make a good tribute, featuring bands equally as famous and influential as Darkthrone themselves (which also made it that much more significant of a tribute, to see the likes of Emperor and Immortal bowing down to Darkthrone). Likewise, in this case, Ulver is certainly a worthy subject. Early on, they were a true Norwegian black metal force to be reckoned with, whether in their acoustic folk mode or when doing their own tribute of sorts to Darkthrone, the brilliant Nattens Madrigal. Later, they morphed in many surprising ways, pretty much leaving the confines of black metal entirely but still somehow staying Ulver. In fact, if you put together an anthology of Ulver's "greatest hits" it would sound a bit like a various artists album itself, since their career has been so stylistically diverse, from grim black metal to experimental electronica... In some ways, it's cool to have this tribute just to provide a perspective on the wide range of Ulver's output. 'Cause one byproduct of a good tribute is to get you to go back and listen to the originals, maybe even giving some attention to songs you had previously overlooked. That said, we're also pleased to see that a chunk of the bands appearing on My Own Wolf chose to cover stuff from Nattens Madrigal... The next question is, are the bands appearing here worthy? Well, we'll admit we haven't heard of rather many of them. It is a double cd, though, with a ton of tracks. And the ones we know, like Aidan Baker (Nadja) are all pretty interesting, kinda avant-garde metal bands that probably all really do look up to Ulver. Some play industrial-metal, others acoustic folk, everything in between and beyond, from trip-hop to psychedelia to dooooooooom, each finding at least one if not several aspects of Ulver's multifaceted career to worship, really. There's songs here from probably every Ulver release ever, including their demos! And these bands are from all over the place, a lot from Russia and France in particular, but also from Finland, Ukraine, Australia, Israel, Germany, Latvia, USA, Canada, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and Brazil! Here's the lineup: Unfurl, Avathar, Mura Hachigu feat. Nokturnes, Smohalla, Asmodee, Selvmord, Sael, Otzephenevshiye, Wardaemonic, FB[Force], Karna, Fluoryne, Year Zero, Sinestesia, Pryapisme, Joey Hopkins Midget Factory, Aidan Baker, Panacea Enterpainment, project:a, Catapulus, Jaaportit, Wheel Of Knowledge, Zweizz, Bosque, Noises of Russia, and Ashtar. While there's already one "official" tribute to Ulver of sorts (the remixes disc 1st Decade In The Machines) this one is perhaps more honest in its tributor-to-tributee relationships, i.e., no hipster cred required. It's certainly more "metal" but plenty of other things besides. Obviously, compared to some tributes, the lineup on My Own Wolf is drawn from far deeper underground. No A-list black metal acts here like on that Darkthrone tribute. But you have to imagine that any band interested in doing an Ulver cover is at the very least not an "ordinary" band. And, indeed, some of 'em here are pretty interesting, and we wouldn't have heard about 'em otherwise. You gotta hand it to Ulver: who else could inspire tribute from such a diverse selection of bands/genres?
MURA HACHIGU FEAT. NOKTURNES "Blinded By Blood" MPEG Stream:
OTZEPHENEVSHIYE "Wolf And Destiny (Forest Fire Version)"
V/A NoisyMotions (Osmose Productions) dvd 16.98
Can't imagine a blackmetalhead who wouldn't consider this DVD absolutely essential. And it just might be enough to lure some unsuspecting innocents to the dark side as well. Videos from Absu, Immortal, Antaeus, Impaled Nazarene, Melechesh, Nortre Dame, Phazm, Arkhon Infaustus, Dark Tranquility, Gehennah, and a bunch more. As well as live sets from Angel Corpse, Immortal, Blasphemy, Inhume, Notre Dame and Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition. Pretty much everything on this disc is a blast, but definite highlights would have to be the two Immortal videos, the first, "Blashyrkh (Mighty Raven Dark)", features Abbath and Demonaz, in full corpsepaint and spikes, playing atop a mountain, above fjords and forests, with superimposed lightning storms, and occasional unintentionally hilarious mad dashes from peak to peak, while still rocking! The second video for "Grim And Frostbitten kingdom" has the band fully rocking out again, this time atop a glacier, again in full corpsepaint, except for fill in drummer Hellhammer, who is sans corpsepaint and wearing a frilly pirate shirt. The whole thing intercut with shots of Abbath singing through a sheet of ice. Wow. Then there's the totally over the top Notre Dame videos, especially "Scarecrows" which features the whole band strapped to wooden posts and singing from atop their perches, in the middle of a corn field. And howabout Impaled Nazarene's black metal "Smells Like Teen Spirit"-ish video for "Armageddon Death Squad." Woah. We could go on and on, but trust us, this is awesome! And for sure don't miss the bonus feature "At Home With Snowy Shaw", a goofy Cribs-like tour of Shaw's (from Notre Dame) horror movie memento stuffed house as well as a little acoustic sing along. So weird. NTSC and ALL REGION!
V/A Nordic Metal: A Tribute To Euronymous (Karmageddon Media) cd 16.98
There are a handful of compilations, so well thought out, so well put together, with just the perfect artists and the best songs, that function like an impossibly perfect record. If you could somehow imagine that said compilation was in fact, a record by some band it would be absolutely the greatest record ever. Never has that been more true than in the case of a couple of black metal comps from back in the nineties. One is the amazing Darkthrone tribute, Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone, an absolutely stellar comp featuring Satyricon, Enslaved, Marduk, Thorns, Emperor, Dodheimsgard, Gorgoroth. So it should come as no surprise that another 'perfect record' comp is this one right here, Nordic Metal: A Tribute To Euronymous. While we're still waiting for that Darkthrone comp to be reissued, it's no small consolation that this one has been resurrected, to demonstrate once again, that no matter how amazing bands are now and how far black metal has come, it really was never better than in 1995. A tribute to Euronymous, the fallen leader of Mayhem, who was murdered by Count Grishnack aka Burzum, beginning the non-musical 'Lords Of Chaos' saga of Norwegian black metal that would become tabloid fodder for the next decade, this compilation was actually already in the works as a showcase for the Scandinavian bands of the time, but Euronymous ended up dying before he could release it on his own label Deathlike Silence. So it was completed by his allies at Necropolis Records (RIP) as a tribute to their fallen 'leader'. Like that Darkthrone comp, a look at the bands should be enough to tell you that this is something special: Abruptum, Mayhem, Dissection, Emperor, Mysticum, Marduk, Thorns, Ophthalamia, Enslaved, Mortiis and Arcturus. Basically every band that mattered, the bands that defined Nordic black metal. Plus these aren't just any tracks, these are almost all some of these bands' best tracks. Abruptum's "De Profundis Mors Vas Cousumet" is still a tweaked and damaged BM classic, completely unhinged, with angelic female vocals, warbly pitch shifts, blackened blasts, and those vocals... the perfect way to start things off. Next up "The Freezing Moon" by Euronymous and Mayhem, frosty and grim, but melodic and catchy and an all time classic. The reverb drenched blasts sandwiched between gorgeously melancholy melodies. And then Disssection's "Where Dead Angels Lie", maybe one of the greatest black metal songs of all time, with a killer fucking hook and some of the most amazing guitar playing EVER. And it just goes on from there, most serious black metal fans will most likely have all of these tracks, but it's like the ultimate BM primer. If they taught a class in black metal, this would absolutely be essential listening. (And it was indeed studied intently by those of us who were working here at Aquarius back during our big black metal discovery phase in the mid-nineties, we have fond memories of this album!). Other highlights include Thorns' "Aerie Descends", a lurching slow motion blackened trudge, with creepy circusy keyboards and weird whispered vocals, a very cabaret vibe mixed in with seriously grim blackness. Then there's a killer rehearsal version of Emperor's "Moon Over Kata-Shehr" which proves it wasn't the production or the recordings that made them so good, it's the songs. Epic and complex and fucking fantastic. There's some classic Enslaved, and even back then at their grimmest and most buzzy, they still demonstrated all sorts of prog tendencies. Pretty much every track on here is essential. Even if you have most of these, it's like the ultimate classic black metal mixtape, and like we mentioned before, if you've been hesitant to explore black metal, this is probably the best possible place to start!
ABRUPTUM "De Profundis Mors Vas Cousumet" MPEG Stream:
THORNS "Aeire Descends" MPEG Stream:
ENSLAVED "Loke" MPEG Stream:
EMPEROR "The Ancient Queen"
V/A Originators Of The Northern Darkness: A Tribute To Mayhem (Avantgarde Music) cd 15.98
Considering that the Darkthrone tribute from a few years back was one of the best black metal records ever (compilation or otherwise) we had high hopes for this Mayhem tribute. It features all the big boys: Immortal, Dark Funeral, Absu, Gorgoroth, Carpathian Forest, Keep Of Kalessin, Behemoth, Limbonic Art, Gehenna, Seth, and Vader. But there are a few problems keeping this from attaining such godlike status. First, of course, is that Darkthrone are way better than Mayhem, and have certainly stayed truer to their sound, unlike Mayhem who have become almost cartoonish with their more recent post-Euronymous releases, dabbling in triphop and other deviant forms of music, not to mention their propensity for silly spoken word parts and bombastic military style marches. The main problem though, is that the bands, be it because of song choice or just stylistically, follow the straight and narrow and don't take any huge chances. On 'Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone' all the bands took the Darkthrone songs and made them their own, mixing in all sorts of ambient parts and industrial bits and really reinventing and reinterpreting the songs. Here, the bands just play the songs. Sure, the songs are great, and the performances are heavy and furious and pummelling, but it's really nothing you haven't heard before. Of course, if you're a fan of Mayhem, or any of these bands, you'll probably want this (I'm going to buy one!) 'cause it's not bad, it's just not as great as we had hoped. Also the first few (for those of you quick on the mailorder draw) are the special limited version that comes with a fold out poster in an ultra-cheesy black vinyl pouch, intended, we suppose, to look 'leather' and 'tough' and 'scary' but instead only manages to look like the sort of fanny pack you'd find on some fat European metalhead passed out in a puddle of beer and piss at Dynamo.
V/A Primitive Finland (Northern Heritage) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
V/A Rusty Axe - Under The Axe Vol. 3 (Rusty Axe) cd 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. From the label that brought us the mind blowing blackmetalnoise of Enbilulugugal and the noise flecked Midwestern redneck black metal of Blood Cult comes a label sampler featuring a whole hellish mess of demented and damaged, fucked up and retarded, baffling and utterly brilliant metal mayhem. Rusty Axe and its stable of musical miscreants is not for the metal dabbler, or the true grim warrior, this shit is messed up, in the best possible way. Metal sure, but all drenched in goats blood, satan's semen, huge splattery gobs of noise and loads of what-the-fuck! Some of these bands are so fucked up they seem like they must be joking, others are deadly serious and are as heavy and buzzingly brutal as any black metal you've heard. Probably the most exciting band on here is Baphomets Horns, super fast and heavy grim black metal, furious and recorded so hot, it sounds like the band is spitting blood and flame right into your lap. On the other end of the spectrum are bands like Defecated Corpse, who sound a bit like Venom fronted by a lounge singer, but with loads of shredding lead guitar. They also cover the Benny Hill theme song. Yup, "Yakkety Sax". And then there's Satan's Almighty Penis, who do have a hilarious name, but their music is far from a joking matter, fucked up and furiously fast, another band that could go up against the Scandinavian elite for sure. The whole comp is pretty jam packed with the grimmest weirdest heaviest most fucked up black metal you've never heard from groups like Kill All Resistance, Wollfsschanze, Dark Energy, Sacrificial Blood, Mephistophelian, Demonic Mortuary, the brilliantly named FINISHER!, Tjolgtjar, Bethledeign, War Plague, Melkor, and loads more. We're already dying to hear full lengths from all of these bands! Fans of Benighted Leams, Rehtaf Ruo, Rigor Sardonicous, Emit, Furze, Detsorgsekalf, and all that sort of OUT black metal may have just found their new favorite label!
DEFECATED CORPSE "Female Half Erection O'Brewer" MPEG Stream:
SATAN'S ALMIGHTY PENIS "Perishing Jehovah" MPEG Stream:
TJOLGTJAR "Midnight On Witches Sabbat"
V/A Rusty Axe: Under The Axe Volume 4 (Rusty Axe) cd 6.98
The world is full of massive metal labels, Century Media, Relapse, Metal Blade, each home to hundreds and hundreds of bands, lots of bands we love, but plenty we could certainly do without. There are way more tiny little metal labels doing their own thing, WAY below the commercial radar, each cultivating their own unique little scene, based on a combination of location, style, and in the case of Rusty Axe, a totally brilliant, massively fucked and utterly idiosyncratic DIY approach to metal music. Every little while, Rusty Axe release a super cheap label sampler and every time we are totally blown away by the sheer weirdness and genius of the bands they dig up. This time around (volume 4!) there are way more familiar names than usual, but that in no way makes this comp any less appealing. In fact the known names will still seem pretty obscure to all but the most obsessive metalheads: The Wizar'd, Godless, Enbilulugugal, Black Vomit, V.A.C.K., Tjolgtjar, Marks Of The Masochist, and that's really about the only bands we know. Other until-now-unknown-to-us bands include Sermon Of Foulness, Trasher, Dead... Again, Sacrificial Blood, Talk Sick Earth, Esprit Derange, Brobdingnagian, Infinite Missiles, well we could go on and on, needless to say, for adventurous metalheads, this is the shit! Heavy on the black metal, but with plenty of doom and noise and fuzz and buzz and howl. Highlights include: a new track from aQ faves Black Vomit, purveyors of True Sheffield Black Psychedelia, which hear means a plodding blown out wall of buzz, peppered with fucked up effects and creepy inhuman vox, so heavy and in the red, it manages to almost slip into shoegaze territory. Almost. Toil offer up some lo-fi blackness, rife with classic metal riffing, but some seriously fucked up howled vocals and some tangled confusional leads. The Wizar'd cover Witchfinder General, the drums stumble gloriously, the guitars SO buzzy and hot, the vocals like a karaoke Zeeb Parkes. Enbilulugugal don't disappoint (do they ever?) with some retro thrash, but rendered all scribbly and lo-fi with INSANE vocals that sound like a million pterodactyls. Infinite Missiles are all old school retro punky thrash, with killer riffing and shouted vocals. Gaiman offer up the 'short version' of their track, which clocks in at almost 8 minutes, a sluggish Burzumy trawl through sonic black swamps with some gurgling underwater vokills and a bit of Viking riffage here and there. V.A.C.K. offer up some maniacal basement black metal, furious drumming, buzzsaw riffs and howled hellish shrieksÉFuck, who are we kidding, all the tracks here rule, not all of them will have us running out to track everything down by the band, but in the context of this comp, they are all pretty darn near perfect, in their own totally fucked and fractured, demented and damaged way.
SACRIFICIAL BLOOD "Lethal Dose (NME Cover)" MPEG Stream:
TOIL "Distorted And Venomous Visions" MPEG Stream:
ENBILULUGUGAL "Reeking Of Diseased Goatbile" MPEG Stream:
BLACK VOMIT "Demons In The Black Smoke"
V/A Sacrifice At The Altar Of The Satanic Blood Angel: A Tribute To Von (Rusty Axe) cd 9.98
There are cult bands and then there are the TRUE KVLT bands. Few fit that bill better than San Francisco's Von. Von existed for a few years back in the late eighties / early nineties, recorded only two demos, and then split up and disappeared. But that's just the sort of stuff that creates the cult, that turns a band into something more, that and an incredible collection of furious grim thrashing black metal madness. Fourteen songs, all fast and black, all quite similar sounding, almost like one long song chopped up into 2 minute movements, but like very few bands, there's just something special about Von, sure the sound, the production, the energy, but it has to be the songs too, since even played by other bands, those songs exude a strange black power, a grim malice and hellish energy that belies their simple composition. Lots of folks have covered Von over the years, most recently SF's own Leviathan, on his split with fellow Bay Area black horde Crebain, but here we've got a whole disc of covers, most of them true to the spirit of Von, in that they are raw and primitive and buzzing, but each special in its own black way. Very few bands here that we've actually heard of: Enbilulugugal, Black Vomit, Godless, Execrator, Beastcraft, Tjolgtjar, Raw Hatred and that's about it. Check out the names on some of the other bands: Blasphemophager, Unholy Crucifix, Godslaying Hellblast, Sermon Of Foulness, Nuclearhammer, Ceremonial CastingsÉ And they all sound just how you might think, carrying on in the grim tradition of Von, lo-fi, thrashing, black, brutal, buzzy, the rhythms fast and relentless, the riffing and drumming in a constant fury, the vocals in various shades of howl and gurgle, lots of the tracks peppered with wild squiggly leads, sometimes the sound is thick and caustic, a white noise blur, other times it's a tinny practice space recording, once in a while, like with Black Vomit, the song is transformed into something freaked out and damaged, but for the most part, this is one for the true, the grim, those of black heart and cursed soul. Definitely for fans of Von (obviously), Beherit, Bone Awl, Akitsa, Ash Pool, Darkthrone and other practitioners of raw raw raw primitive black metal.
BLACK VOMIT "Devil Pig" MPEG Stream:
ENBILULUGUGAL "Lamb" MPEG Stream:
BEASTCRAFT "Satanic Blood" MPEG Stream:
TJOLGTJAR "Christ Fire" MPEG Stream:
GODSLAYING HELLBLAST "Veinen"
V/A Sepultural Feast: A Tribute To Sepultura (Black Sun) cd 16.98
Black and death metal bands, many from Scandinavia (how strange...) pay tribute to Brazilian metal gods Sepultura. Participating are such bands as AQ-faves the super-brutal Defleshed and keyboard-happy Children of Bodom, as well as Swordmaster, Lord Belial, Sacramentum, Brazil's Mystifier, and nine others. Songs covered range from the earliest of the Sep's death-thrash efforts to "Ratamahatta" from their last tribal-metal album.
V/A Slatanic Slaughter (Black Sun Records) cd 16.98
Northern European tribute to Slayer, with ferocious covers by Dissection, At The Gates, Enslaved, Edge of Sanity and seven others.
V/A Thrasher Skate Rock Vol 12: Eat the Flag (Volcom) cd 14.98
LEVIATHAN ALERT!!! EXCLUSIVE UNRELEASED LEVIATHAN TRACK ALERT!!! LEVIATHAN COVERING BLACK FLAG ALERT!!! What the fuck? It's true though. More on that in a second. We all dig skating (although most of us are not to good at it), and love to watch crazy skaters around town, often fucking themselves up in the process. Who doesn't? But typically skate rock has often been, well, not really that interesting. Okay, so maybe most skate rock sucks. But this Thrasher Skate Rock disc has a lot going for it, not the least of which is an unreleased Leviathan track, "The Third Blind Wound"! Most Leviathan obsessives will most definitely find this one track enough reason to pick this up, but there's some other killer stuff on here too. Exclusive tracks from a bunch of other bands including locals Hightower, and the always kick ass S.T.R.E.E.T.S. (an acronym for 'skating totally rules, everything else totally sucks') as well as some killer DVD footage including a documentary about skating in the 80's and 90's and a live performance from Norway's Turbonegro. This is one of those dualdisc thingies, that won't play on some stereos so be warned!
LEVIATHAN "The Third Blind Wound" MPEG Stream:
S.T.R.E.E.T.S. "Stop The Violence"
V/A To The Triumph Of Evil: A Tribute To Judas Iscariot (ISO666) cd 7.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE** All you need to know is it's a tribute to Judas Iscariot, a USBM institution, and features the elite of what might be considered the second wave of USBM cover classic JI tracks: Xasthur, Leviathan, Nachtmystium, Krieg and more! Holy shit! After 10 years, Judas Isacriot hung it up in 2002, but they still manage to influence countless legions of musical minions. Most of the bans here owe no small debt to Akhenaten and his Midwestern metal outfit, which is obviously why they're here paying their respects. The mighty Xasthur covers "The Cold Earth Slept Below...", the result is an incredibly lo-fi, brittle washed out smear of fuzzy guitars, stumbling dirgelike drumming, the whole thing so hissy and buzzy it's almost dreamlike, with some gorgeously mournful melodies that would make it sound downright poppy if it weren't so frosty and harsh. So fucked and hauntingly pretty it had us digging out our old JI records to hear the original. AQ fave Leviathan takes on "Where the Weather Beats Incessant", nearly 12 minutes of moody depressive midtempo blackness, with some strange droney interludes, super harsh distorted vocals, and strange drawn out guitar parts, the whole thing epic and majestic and almost post rock sounding. Krieg cover "Babylon", a furiously fuzzy, ultra lo-fi burst of muddy murky black buzz, guttural vocals vomited up from the depths, blasting beats, amazing lightning speed riffing, but the melodies buried in the mix are haunting and again strangely lovely.... Fellow Midwesterners Nachtmystium tackle "Gaze Upon Heaven In Flames", a super loud, in the red blast of relentless buzzing black metal, the riffs and the drumming a blinding blur, until about halfway through where the song breaks down into a strange, lurching half time almost-groove with creepy melodies and a odd timed hiccuping rhythm. Frostmoon Eclipse offer up their version of "Spill The Blood Of The Lamb" the grimmest and frostiest of the bunch so far, murky and muddy, but thick with buzz and thrash, the vocals a hateful demonic gurgle, the whole thing a buzzing snarling beast. The rest of the lineup holds their own nearly as well, offering up their own varied takes on classic Judas Iscariot material. Eternity Of Darkness, Sign Of Katu, Arkenstone, Merrimack, Dead To Earth, The Black Death, Carving To Nenia, Martyr and Birkenau. The strange thing is, that as buzzing and black, as hateful and harsh, as dreary and depressive as these tracks are, we had almost forgotten how pretty some of the Judas Iscariot stuff really was...
XASTHUR "The Cold Earth Slept Below" MPEG Stream:
KRIEG "Babylon" MPEG Stream:
LEVIATHAN "Where The Winter Beats Incessant"
V/A True Kings Of Norway (Spikefarm) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. From the darkest past we summon thee: early 7" vinyl releases from several of Norway's elite black metal tyrants, now collected on one handy cd. So if in 1992 you missed picking up Immortal's 7" debut, or failed to get Emperor's "As The Shadows Rise" 7" ep in '94, now's your chance to add those tracks to your collection. Rare 7" tracks by Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus, and the somewhat out-of-their-league Ancient are also found here. Far from most of those bands' current highly-polished, produced sounds, these early singles are nothing if not steeped in a raw, primitve black metal urgency and atmosphere that still makes the blood run cold. And, if these classic cuts weren't enough, this digipak also includes an amazing fold-out "map" of the Norwegian blackmetal community, a kind of convoluted family tree demonstrating the unholy links among these bands and many many others. Very cool, almost essential for true black metal fiends.
V/A Visions: A Tribute To Burzum (Unholy) 2cd 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yes, a double cd tribute to black metal's most notorious one-man-band, the currently incarcerated Burzum aka Varg Vikernes. The twenty three bands on here are all mainly super underground black metallists obviously influenced (musically and perhaps in other ways, unfortunately) by Burzum to begin with and thus the cold misanthropic drone of Burzum's black metal is fully in evidence here, making it good listen for all those who appreciate Varg's music, if not his politics or actions (he's a murderer, churchburner, and a Nazi, in case you were wondering). The liner notes are interesting, as each band gets a half page to share their thoughts on the tribute's subject. Most wax rapturously about his genius ("...Burzum's music speaks directly to the very essence of man, where dwells the truth. Burzum is like a starry, pure night sky where among light and darkness a perfect harmony reigns..." says the band Krigstrommer) but weirdly/thankfully several bands make a point of condemning (or certainly not condoning) Varg's political views even as they of course admit to their love of his music. The line-up includes Aborym, local boys Black Queen (?!), Nokturnal Mortum, Sarnath, DHR act Schizoid, Judas Iscariot, and a host of lesser-knowns (except to cult black metal followers of course) like Pagan Hellfire, Ewigkeit, Aegishjalmar, Fornost, etc. As we said, it's all very Burzumic indeed, with our favorite tracks being Aboryms twisted (but still true) dayglo machinelike blast of Varg worship and Schizoid's DHR-via-the-frosty-north industrial hyper-distorted droning buzz-take. Although all the tracks are pretty great! Of course, we tend to prefer tribute comps where the artists *aren't* at all similar to the tributee to begin with, but that's not likely to happen with a Burzum tribute is it? And with Varg in a Norwegian prison making bad synth albums, hearing these guys reinterpret his old classics is as close as we're gonna get to a new "real" Burzum record...
SCHIZOID "En Ring Til A Herske" MPEG Stream:
ABORYM "Det Som Engang Var"
V/A Voices From Valhalla: A Tribute To Bathory (Godreah Records) 2cd 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Few could argue with the influence of Bathory on all the black metal that would follow, and this double disc compilation bears testament to that, a pretty serious lineup of groups, many of them aQ faves, some more obscure, some of them only barely black metal, but all paying tribute. Just check out the list: Sigh, Meads Of Asphodel, Nokturnal Mortum, Gods Tower, Gnaw Their Tongues, Old Corpse Road, Wolves Of Avalon, Folkvang, Koldbrann, Darkest Era, Ravens Creed, Skyforger, and the list goes on. And while the songs are all Bathory, the sounds differ dramatically, from murky raspy, black buzz, to pounding punkish thrash, and from blown out black dirgery to epic, folk flecked power metal. Gnaw Their Tongues, who might be of the most interest to non black metallers, delivers his most black metal jam yet, which you'd be hard pressed to peg as a GTT track, a churning, buzzing black frenzy, that manages to sound as troo and grim as any of the other bands here. And of course Sigh choose to confound as usual, offering up their version of "Under The Runes", that sounds like some twisted electro-new wave groove, laced with Japanese melodies, cheesy slow jam sax, weird FX, and garbled vox. The rest of the comp is much more true to the originals, and at once speaks to the power and the timelessness of Bathory's songs, but also to how their influence inspired so many disparate variations of a sound that in some ways is one of the cornerstones of modern BM. Also included is a 30 minute interview with Bathory's Quorthon (RIP), originally recorded in 1996 for the late great Godreah zine, which seems to hacve transformed into the label that released this!
SIGH "Under The Runes" MPEG Stream:
GNAW THEIR TONGUES "Call From The Grave" MPEG Stream:
GODS TOWER "Song To Hall Up High"
V/A (ALUK TODOLO / NIGHTBRINGER / NIHIL NOCTURNE / SATURNALIA TEMPLE) On The Powers Of The Sphinx (Ajna) cd 9.98
FINALLY AVAILABLE ON CD!! Thanks Ajna! Here's what we said about the long out of print vinyl version when it came out back in 2010... We'd been hearing about this record for a while, a very unlikely gathering of four black metal or tangentially black metal outfits, including two of our favorites, alchemical post rockers Aluk Todolo, and spaced out psychedelic black metal outronauts Nightbringer, along with Nihil Nocturne and Saturnalia Temple. And while all four bands explore dramatically different sonic territories, the disparate sounds and philosophies seem to merge into one mysterious and abstract whole. Saturnalia Temple start things off in a decidedly UN black metal fashion, thick lugubrious riffs, spacey and druggy and woozy and sprawling, laced with soft psychedelic leads. Very early Earth sounding, until the riffs begin to gather momentum and take shape, and then suddenly it sounds like Kyuss at 16 rpm, some sort of sun baked desert rock, slooowed waaaaaay doooooown, lysergic and hazy, a sort of blackened and metalized slow blues, that just crawls and creeps until the drums finally kick in, and then it's some stoner doom, but with the groove dialed way down, a trancelike churn, peppered with bits of minor key melody and deep chanted monklike vocals. Nightbringer step up, and explode in frenzy of whirling spaced out blackness, soaring frantic riffs, blasting black beats, the sound more astral and celestial than grim and frosty, the track constantly shifting, from lightning speed blast to warped midtempo moodiness, wild leads tangled up everywhere, haunting chanted vox, totally majestic and epic, even at its doomiest, the sound transcends, the guitars stratospheric, the arrangements lush and sprawling, a total heart of the black sun blast of galactic black bliss. Nihil Nocturne offer up yet another black facet, theirs a midtempo blackness, dirgey and Burzumy, with just a little groove, giving their track a very Khold like vibe, a sort of modern Moonfog band feel, but with a surprising twist, the track shifting abruptly, into something much more abstract and un-metal, with glimmering clean guitars, electronic rhythms, the stereo super panned, the sounds swooping from ear to ear, speaker to speaker, major key melodies, until a super creepy processed voice begins to intone ominously, and the track begins again, a black metal Godspeed slow build epic, finally finishing off with a frenzied chaotic climax. And finally the mighty Aluk Todolo, who do their own thing, and manage to evoke as much mood and mystery as any of the other bands, even working with a WAY more stripped down and minimal sound, that sort of post noise dark rock kraut drone they seem to have conjured in some strange ritual, and the sounds is indeed ritualistic, but also utterly hypnotic, and mesmerizing, all motorik rhythms, simple serpentine basslines, clouds of keening feedback, and abstract guitar crunch, swirls of effects, drifting fragmented melodies, but the drums driving everything, holding it all together, loose and tight at the same time, locked in, but drifting occasionally. Can, Faust, This Heat, German Oak, not black metal, not even remotely, maybe it's the vibe, or the mood, or the band pedigree, but it hardly matters, this is blackened and heavy totally enthralling dark and mysterious minimal hypno rock and it RULES.
SATURNALIA TEMPLE "To Know" MPEG Stream:
NIGHTBRINGER "To Will" MPEG Stream:
ALUK TODOLO "To Keep Silent"
V/A (ALUK TODOLO / NIGHTBRINGER / NIHIL NOCTURNE / SATURNALIA TEMPLE) On The Powers Of The Sphinx (Ajna) lp 16.98
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 this lp for a while, a very unlikely gathering of four black metal or tangentially black metal outfits, including two of our favorites, alchemical post rockers Aluk Todolo, and spaced out psychedelic black metal outronauts Nightbringer, along with Nihil Nocturne and Saturnalia Temple. And while all four bands explore dramatically different sonic territories, the disparate sounds and philosophies seem to merge into one mysterious and abstract whole. Saturnalia Temple start things off in a decidedly UN black metal fashion, thick lugubrious riffs, spacey and druggy and woozy and sprawling, laced with soft psychedelic leads. Very early Earth sounding, until the riffs begin to gather momentum and take shape, and then suddenly it sounds like Kyuss at 16 rpm, some sort of sun baked desert rock, slooowed waaaaaay doooooown, lysergic and hazy, a sort of blackened and metalized slow blues, that just crawls and creeps until the drums finally kick in, and then it's some stoner doom, but with the groove dialed way down, a trancelike churn, peppered with bits of minor key melody and deep chanted monklike vocals. Nightbringer step up, and explode in frenzy of whirling spaced out blackness, soaring frantic riffs, blasting black beats, the sound more astral and celestial than grim and frosty, the track constantly shifting, from lightning speed blast to warped midtempo moodiness, wild leads tangled up everywhere, haunting chanted vox, totally majestic and epic, even at its doomiest, the sound transcends, the guitars stratospheric, the arrangements lush and sprawling, a total heart of the black sun blast of galactic black bliss. Nihil Nocturne offer up yet another black facet, theirs a midtempo blackness, digey and Burzumy, with just a little groove, giving their track a very Khold like vibe, a sort of modern Moonfog band feel, but with a surprising twist, the track shifting abruptly, into something much more abstract and un-metal, with glimmering clean guitars, electronic rhythms, the stereo super panned, the sounds swooping from ear to ear, speaker to speaker, major key melodies, until a super creepy processed voice begins to intone ominously, and the track begins again, a black metal Godspeed slow build epic, finally finishing off with a frenzied chaotic climax. And finally the mighty Aluk Todolo, who do their own thing, and manage to evoke as much mood and mystery as any of the other bands, even working with a WAY more stripped down and minimal sound, that sort of post noise dark rock kraut drone they seem to have conjured in some strange ritual, and the sounds is indeed ritualistic, but also utterly hypnotic, and mesmerizing, all motorik rhythms, simple serpentine basslines, clouds of keening feedback, and abstract guitar crunch, swirls of effects, drifting fragmented melodies, but the drums driving everything, holding it all together, loose and tight at the same time, locked in, but drifting occasionally. Can, Faust, This Heat, German Oak, not black metal, not even remotely, maybe it's the vibe, or the mood, or the band pedigree, but it hardly matters, this is blackened and heavy totally enthralling dark and mysterious minimal hypno rock and it RULES. Gorgeous packaging, super striking artwork and a massive 12 page 12" x 12" booklet, and yeah, SUPER LIMITED.
V/A (SIGH / MEADS OF ASPHODEL / TAAKE / THUS DEFILED / EVO ALGY) Swine Of Hades (Godreah) cd 13.98
Not sure what exactly the occasion is for this black metal meeting of the minds (the liner notes claim it's bands with long histories in the metal underground), but who can argue with such a stellar line up, and the uber metal cover, a blood splattered naked woman with a severed pig's head between her legs, not to mention the legend underneath the tray: "play loud or don't fucking bother". This Meads Of Asphodel curated black metal 5 way split finds the Meads themselves teamed up with Japanese weirdos Sigh, Norwegian grimlords Taake, UKBM horde Thus Defiled, and the new to us Evo Algy (although those names might sound similar to you, cuz Evol Algy is a duo comprised of Evo, the drummer for punk legends the Angelic Upstarts, and Algy Ward who was in Tank, the Saints AND The Damned!). Evo Algy start things off with a Status Quo cover, all sitar buzz and fluttery flute, before launching into some punky NWOBHM style metal crunch, heavy and buzzy and swaggery and total old school hard rocking heaviness. Taake offer a brief blast of furious pounding blackened punkiness, which it turns out is actually a GG Allin cover, two minutes of super distorted punkmetal buzz and pound. Next up is Sigh, who do not disappoint and unfurl some twisted cosmic space prog blackness, all thick buzzy bass, ethereal operatic vox, swooshy FX, circusy melodies, synths galore, not to mention a constantly shifting dizzying arrangement, oh and sax too of course, all woven into a fantastically twisted chunk of carnivalesque black prog. Meads of Asphodel are up next with their awesomely titled "There's A God In My Gruel", the trio's latest blast of Christ mocking weirdness, and like their last record, they continue to craft what essentially sounds like a Satanic version of Godspell, a demonic sort of musical, with growled sinister vox over cheesy keyboards, muted fuzzy guitars, sci-fi effects, epic and majestic and dramatic, and very very weird. Not getting truly metal until the last minute or so, and even then, it's super over the top, a Broadway musical gone haywire, the performers possessed and spewing fantastically vitriolic sonic filth. Finally UKBM crew Thus Defiled lay down an epic sprawl of melodic blackness, that slips malevolently from midtempo classic metal gallop, to furious frenzied buzz and blast, replete with killer riffing and wild shredding solos. Fans of any / all of these outfits will most likely want this, and we'd have to concur with the liner notes: PLAY LOUD OR DON'T FUCKING BOTHER!
SIGH "Somniphobia" MPEG Stream:
MEADS OF ASPHODEL "There's A God In My Gruel" MPEG Stream:
TAAKE "Die When You Die"
VACUUM ERA GELID ATMOSPHERE (V.E.G.A.) Alienforest - A Sick Mind's Hologram (Debemur Morti) cd 16.98
The tongue twistingly monickered Vacuum Era Gelid Atmosphere, who shell henceforth be referred to as VEGA, has been a huge favorite around these parts, ever since we first laid ears on their Cocaine album. When we first got that record we were really expecting something fucked up and damaged and bizarre, but instead, Cocaine ended up being one of the fiercest most frenzied and fastest black metal discs we had ever heard, a total soul shearing onslaught so drenched in buzz it seems impossible that the whole thing didn't collapse under the weight of all that buzzing and blasting. Well here we are revisiting VEGA's past, and guess what, they actually did used to be seriously fucked up and bizarre, their black metal still fierce and frenetic, but tempered by weird eighties style Goblin-y synthscapes and weirdo new wave and all sorts of other whatthefuck-ness. The opener is appropriately black metal, an intro, but even there, the brooding synths and ominous drones are laced with processed children's voices which are FREAKY. So then, as black metal record law dictates, the next track should be a serious blast of black metal fury, but here, well, it sounds like some eighties John Carpenter soundtrack, or the chase scene in some cheesy sci-fi flick, or Goblin at their new waviest, but fuck it, who cares what the BM bylaws dictate, this stuff is awesome. Haunting and cheesy, dramatic and so over the top, and all over the place, slipping into some ominous synthy drones, before transforming into some minimal almost jungle jam, the skittery beats underneath warm woozy synths and creepy minor key melodies, and finally some harsh black metal vox over the top. And then buzzing guitars. Dropping in with about 50 seconds to go. Fuck yeah. Did we mention we love these guys? Well we love them even more now. It's not all insane cheesy new wave weirdness, the follow up "Kill Me" explodes in a frenzy of grinding blackness, but even then, part way in, shifts gears and becomes super melodic with soaring melodies, and mathy rhythms, but you know what, by the end, the track has somehow transformed into another synth drenched skittery new wave outro. And so it goes. Easily half the record is soundtracky new wave-y weirdness. And these guys nail it. Zombi, Proscriptor, you Carpenter / Goblin revisionists better watch your asses, cuz this takes all that stuff and gets it all tangled up with black buzz and blurred blasts. And those are definitely the best moments, when harsh vocals are laid over skittery electronic drums and whirling synths, so wrong it's right! The band are still capable of spewing black filth with the best of them, "Insex Infect" is a solid 4 minutes of blown out in-the-red black heaviness, putting most BM bands to shame, but then moments later, they offer up a creepy bit of synthy ambience, only to lurch right back into another black frenzy. The black metal here is top notch, so heavy and brutal and grim, incredible riffs and wild drumming, harsh vokills, and dense tangled arrangements, but the other stuff, it's not just throw away, like most bands tossing in a little keyboard interlude, it's well crafted, dark and mysterious and haunting, ominous and sinister, even without the metal, this would have been an awesome retro chunk of new wave Goblin worship, but with the metal, it's something far more fucked up and GENIUS. Packaged in one of those oversized super jewel cases. Andee's black metal reissue of the year!!!!
"Kill Me" MPEG Stream:
"Cocaine" MPEG Stream:
"Plastiktaschen" MPEG Stream:
VACUUM ERA GELID ATMOSPHERE (V.E.G.A.) Cocaine (Debemur Morti) cd 14.98
While we are admittedly totally obsessed with damaged and demented, freaky and fucked up, bizarre and obtuse outsider black metal, every once in a while we'll discover a band who manage to incorporate bits of all of those things, but in a way that's much more subtle. A band can be really weird without being totally fucked up. Completely demented without stumbling and struggling and sounding totally damaged. A band can be furious and fast, heavy and complex, brutal and intense, but still be super far out and perplexingly bizarre. Think Spektr, Blut Aus Nord, and now the VEGA Corporation. Or V.E.G.A. Or more specifically, Vacuum Era Gelid Atmosphere. Thanks to AQ pal Drew for turning us on to these guys. We were definitely surprised when we finally heard them. Not at all what you might expect. With a name like Vacuum Era Gelid Atmosphere, and a record called Cocaine. Some trippy abstract very UN-metal artwork and a liner note proclamation that goes like this: "(V.E.G.A.) supports freedom of thought, sometimes misunderstood as insanity by the most. The band was born at the last breaths of black metal and dies soon after. This album is a gift to its memory... a dead-born child... a trip went wrong... a nightmare in your brain... Feed your insanity... We now live in the future... as lights, always hiding in the dark, yet shining... as a new band, "VEGA-KORPORATION" Totally devoted to the exploration of mind, soul and technology..." We were totally prepared for some stumbling recorded-in-a-cave, howling, midtempo, warbly damaged black buzz. And we would have been totally happy with that for sure. But this band is absolutely nothing like that at all. V.E.G.A. are impossibly grim and so Incredibly fierce and furious. We talk about black metal bands sounding buzzy all the time, but this is a whole 'nother thing. The first track is some sort of ultimate demonic buzz direct from the fiery pit. A buzz that is sharp and jagged, so blown out and strangely panned, that it almost makes you dizzy listening to it. Careening like a pissed off swarm of hornets from speaker to speaker, the buzz distorts and crumbles, fades out and then swoops back in super hot and completely oversaturated. It definitely sounds like there is something seriously wrong with your speakers, in a GOOD way! And within that buzz is a twisting squirming vortex of fuzzy riffs, insanely blasting beats, shrieked vocals, all in a dense super complex tangle of black fury. One song was all it took. Not only were we totally and completely sold. We were also totally brutalized. Exhausted. Our ears beaten to a bloody pulp. And we LOVED it. The record veers wildly back and forth between impossibly brutal buzzing and more Burzumic midtempos with just a bit of a groove like Khold. But either way, the songs are dense and dark, furious and brilliantly fucked up. And that's not even taking into account the non-metal elements which are legion. Songs are peppered with weird sonic bits, and separated by haunting interludes that range from creepy children singing to women screaming in terror, stretches of industrial pummel with skittery drum machines and super processed Laibachian Teutonic growls to dreamy blissed out minor key jangle with Mark E. Smith sort-of-spoken vocals, massive glacial dirgescapes of downtuned sludge, peppered with Godflesh style beats to weird folky foresty ambience. But unlike a lot of bands, those bits are just that, bits, little bits of unlikely shading, small demented complements to the bands furious metallic onslaught. That is until you get to the epic fourteen minute closing track. A vast expanse of weird record crackle spread in a thick patina over soaring minor key strings and distant muted drums. Creepy and dreary, but sort of super emotional and sublime. It sounds a bit like an old scratched up Godspeed 45 being played on a Victrola while on another Victrola, someone is playing a super scuffed copy of some old Scorn 12" on the wrong speed, the machine like beats perfectly drifting into the majestic grandeur of the strings and swoonsome ambience. After a brief bit of silence, we're suddenly tossed into some sort of weird eighties sounding synth rock, a bizarre electronic drums drenched video game music sort of jam that is just totally twisted and not a little bit out of place. It eventually morphs into a more metal version of Goblin, creepy and slightly cheesy with big thick distorted guitars laid over top. Woah. A definite contender twisted black metal record of the year for sure!
"Lilja..." MPEG Stream:
"Insex Infect" MPEG Stream:
VALBORG Barbarian (Zeitgeister) cd 14.98
VALBORG Crown Of Sorrow (Zeitgeister) cd 10.98
Yet another band in the ever expanding axis of aQ beloved weird and wonderful German metal groups, most of which share members. Avid aQ list readers no doubt remember math metal combo Woburn House, avant black metal horde Klabautamann, mathy folk metal outfit Island and black doom slowcore crawlers Gruenewald, well, you can now black prog doomlords Valborg to that list! Do these guys ever sleep, rest, eat? Well we sure as shit hope not, not if it meant giving up any or all of the projects these guys work on instead, of well, anything else we presume. Needless to say, if you dig any of those other bands, you're probably gonna dig these guys too, playing a sort of gnarled, off kilter, blackened death metal, which is not all that far removed from Woburn House or Klabautamann, or Island, especially Island considering it's the exact same lineup. But in Valborg, the trio unleash thick swaths of woozy downtuned chug, laced with all sorts of tripped out melodies, grunted hellish vox, plenty of clean guitar folkiness, but always a step away from exploding into a burst of blasting heaviness. But no matter what these guys do, whether black metal, death metal, prog metal, they can't seem to keep those various sounds separate, which is precisely why all these bands are so good. From blast beat frenzies, to sea sick arpeggiated waltzes, to tangled Deathspell style blackness, to reverbed space prog, to super catchy almost groovy Khold style metal, often all of the above in a single song,these guys kick out some seriously sick, impossibly varied jams, and we're digging it big time. Guessing some weirdo metalheads out there might too... (By the way, we like how their logo just goes ahead and uses the same triangular shape for the G at the end of their name as it does for the V at the beginning.)
"Wisdom From The Vortex" MPEG Stream:
"Ancient Horrors" MPEG Stream:
VALHOM Despair (Ars Magna Recordings) cd 11.98
"Eternities Ago" MPEG Stream:
"Poison Which Flows In My Veins"
VALLEY OF FEAR s/t (Legion Blotan) cd 13.98
BACK IN STOCK!! Killer collab between Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu, JK Flesh, etc.) and Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Total, Hototogisu, Sunroof!, etc.) along with Samantha Davis who plays with Bower in Voltigeurs, who team up for some seriously old school blackened industrial noise dirge bliss. aQ pal Matt described it as sounding like Skullflower's Birthdeath / Form Destroyer / IIIrd Gatekeeper records "but maybe just a little prettier", which is definitely not that far off the mark. Four long tracks, thick clouds of caustic guitar swirl, blurred riff-noise, and churning chordal thrum, shot through with buried melodies, streaks of feedback, all anchored by a primitive plodding drum machine rhythm. That's the first track at least, best listened to through headphones, which like a lot of recent Bower projects, reveals a whole other world of sonic subtleties beneath the roiling surface, and here it's dreamily keening melodies, some woozy downtuned chugs, and some dense layered noisiness that ends up sounding more trancelike and hypnotic that harsh or brutal. "Ourobous" is more of the same, only with the treble dialed way back, and the low end cranked as high as it'll go, a murky muddy dirge, with a more forceful, double kick driven beat, the dueling guitars sparring in jagged tangles over a swirl of blackened buzz and crunch, until the drums drop out, and the song is transformed into a weirdly mesmerizing ur-drone, one guitar rumbling and whirring while the other unfurls almost black metal sounding riffs, that soar skyward like some black metalized Sunroof! "Naga" pushes the robotic rhythm to the fore, letting the guitars (and this time a very audible bass) grind away, plenty of skree and howl, the bass providing some serious heft, the rhythm section seriously pulverizing, wreathed in a cloud of wild psychedelic guitar freakout. "The Exit Door Leads In" is the longest of the bunch, at 12+ minutes, and is the perfect mix of Godflesh industrial dirge, and Skullflower blackened skree, with all sorts of riffs and melodies and rhythms seeming to gradually come into focus only to dissipate back into the endless psych-noise squall. This final track also seems to have a driving melodic component, that makes it feel the most songlike, sort of gloomy and haunting, like if you stripped away all the guitar noise, you'd be left with some sort of gloomy gothic almost cold wave sounding dirge, but add the guitars, and the noise, and it becomes a dense, darkly driving noise rock space-psych jam that could go on forever and ever, and is the sort of thing that might even appeal to super adventurous fans of outfits like White Hills, The Heads, Carlton Melton and other psychedelic space rockers. Needless to say, fans of Skullflower, Godflesh and and various like minded, Broken Flag beholden, industrial psychedelic noise outfits, will dig this A LOT!! Limited to 500 copies.
"Serpent's Trail" MPEG Stream:
"The Exit Door Leads In"
VARDAN Hidden In A Tomb (Folter) cd 11.98
VARGHKOGHARGASMAL Call Of The Raven (The Funeral Agency) cassette 4.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. WOODEN METAL!!! Back in stock (to tide everybody over until the upcoming Varghkoghargasmal full length cd on tUMULt!!) There seems to be a whole 'nother world of black metal lurking below the underground. An under-underground. A world that seems to exist only on the seemingly antiquated medium of the cassette tape. There seems to be a serious resurgence lately in people's interest in tapes, as if cd-r's are now too mainstream... but we kinda dig it, not only does releasing a tape require a bit more effort (only a bit) but if it sucks, you can tape over it! And you can get a cassette Walkman on Mission Street for $10!! Out latest discovery comes courtesy of SF black metal tape label the Funeral Agency, and is a mysterious band called Varghkoghargasmal. Printed in big letters on the tape sleeve are the words WOODEN METAL! Weird. But we were still unprepared for just how completely wacked and weird this record is. It's basically black metal with no distortion. Maybe Wooden Metal means 'acoustic' metal. But the guitars here are electric, although recorded through what sounds like a practice amp with no distortion. And the drums, HOLY SHIT, don't even get us started. A stumbling struggling drum beat that wavers away from the actual beat more often than not. And it's recorded in some impossibly reverby way that gives it a really haunting otherworldly sound. The first track here is rapidly becoming one of our favorite 'black metal' tracks ever. A very simple spare, un-distorted riff, almost like a slowed down Dick Dale or Link Wray, with a strangely motorik drum beat, that is just off enough to sound like some weird Kompakt style techno beat. In fact, this could totally be some weird black metal surf rock techno track. Eventually, some strange minor key melody joins the fray, and a warbly fuzzed our keyboard, which only serve to make the sound more confusional. The rest of the record is just as great. And bizarre. Stumbling reverbed clean guitar picking out blackened surf rock riffs, weird keyboard drones. The fast songs are the strangest, with the clean guitar blurring into swaths of damaged melody and the drums a chaotic blasting rumbling murky throb way down in the mix. Hard to explain the damaged magic of Varghkoghargasmal other than to say you have NEVER heard anything like this. Fucking amazing!!!! Wooden Metal!!!
VARGHKOGHARGASMAL Carved In Trees / Tanz Der Waldteufel (self-released) 7" 8.98
While we patiently await the forthcoming full length on tUMULt, here's a little super limited two song teaser from our favorite (and only) practitioners of Wooden Metal. Which is in fact, not really metal at all, instead it's a sort of folky surfy krautrock, that's maybe a bit blackened around the edges, but for the most part is more loping and stumbling than it is blasting and buzzing. And we love it. So the A side begins like a classic Varghkoghargasmal track, a clean guitar, some strange off kilter drumming, not distorted or heavy, more sort of hypnotic, the surprise here is the band introduces a weirdly math rock element to their sound, with an arpeggiated main riff and some more complex than usual drumming. There's also some slow creep interludes and some awesomely fucked up rhythms. It's almost like blackened surf rock or a drunken Scenic performing an alternate score for Endless Summer. Only here it's Endless Winter. If the A side was only -sort of- surf rock, the B side quickly takes care of that sort of business, with a blast of full on grin and frosty surf rock, a relentless Dick Dale style riff, some Wipeout drumming, even a weirdly playful super melodic lead over the top. Still all fuzzy and lo-fi with still more strange struggling drumming, but a total surf vibe that is impossible to deny. So what-the-fuck, but so goddamn awesome, this just might be seven inch of the year! SUPER LIMITED TO ONLY 200 COPIES. Packaged in super swank hand screened two colored sleeves, each hand numbered.
VARGHKOGHARGASMAL Drowned In Lakes (tUMULt) cd 11.98
Varghkoghargasmal. When we first discovered this German one man band, it was via a cassette, with a black and white photocopied cover, a washed out image of some wintry forest landscape, accompanied by the legend 'wooden metal'. Needless to say we were totally intrigued, only to discover, that there wasn't anything really that metal about it, or wooden even. Not sure if 'wooden' referred to the trees, or to acoustic guitars, but none of that mattered once we head the music inside. A twisted confusional mix of slowed down Dick Dale style surf riffage, stumbling drums, haunting melodies, warbly organs, all wrapped around a simple motorik almost krautrock groove. We had no idea what to call it, or really even what to think, other than being totally smitten, transfixed and ensorcelled. Definitely ensorcelled. So here we have the brand new album from Avenger, the man solely responsible for Varghkoghargasmal, and if anything, it's even more haunting and mysterious, more creepy and strange, and somehow way more beautiful. It's a difficult sound to explain, the guitars are clean, but are often still playing in a black metal style, frantic riffing or rapid picking, but just as often the guitars are spidery and minor key, unfurling lugubrious tendrils of creepy twang, or reverbed shimmer. The vocals are minimal, a hushed whisper here and there, a Viking style chant during one song, but it's mostly left to the music, which is incredibly evocative, it's like some sort of acoustic black metal, mixed with slowed down surf rock, dark languorous krautrock, and a distinct Morricone vibe as well. And then there are the drums, which by design or by happenstance, are a definite sonic focal point, as they are WAY up in the mix, and they are all over the place, the fills are chaotic, the rhythms stumble and stutter, but in their imperfections lie a truly unique sort of emotion and feeling not found in most music. The drums anchor everything, locking into foresty krautrock grooves, sputtering into dense little tumbling squalls, the prefect framework for Avenger's rickety moonlit jams. Most of the songs creep and crawl, sometimes behind a curtain of rainfall, the sound of the forest spirits, flickering firelight, fireflies lighting up the canopy overhead, pianos pick out mournful melodies, the drums, lurching along, a perfectly imperfect accompaniment, organs wheeze, synths whir, steel strings twang, the whole thing so impossibly transcendent, effortlessly evoking ancient atmospheres and deep emotions. When the band lock into a more rocking groove, and the rhythm builds into something propulsive, the guitars stretch out into long streaks of buzzing melodies, the organ plays along like some old time music box, and the sound transforms before your ears and transports you to some truly mysterious otherworld. There are some black metal references for sure, mostly the ambient bits of Burzum, and some of the riffing recalls suicidal black metal, albeit played with no distortion and more melancholy really than miserable, some of the more frenzied parts even sound like Iron Maiden played on acoustic guitars, and sometimes the guitars manage to sound like banjos, but still the creepiest and prettiest moments occur when the sound winds down into something much more minimal and muted, letting the keyboards weave fluttery melodies, over whirring drones and spare guitar melodies, only occasionally flecked with little flurries of haphazard drumming. One of the few records that we can unequivocally describe as being utterly unlike anything else you will ever hear! Hauntingly beautiful, beautifully bizarre, and WAY WAY recommended.
"Autumn Rain" MPEG Stream:
"Far Away From The Earth..." MPEG Stream:
"...Near The Stars" MPEG Stream:
"Listen To The Wind"
VARGHKOGHARGASMAL / H4180V21.C split (Deathstrike) cassette 4.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. While we wait patiently for the long overdue reissue of the amazing 'wooden metal' masterpiece Call Of The Raven from German black metal weirdos Varghkoghargasmal, we have this split tape to tide us over, a single track from Varghkoghargasmal, and one from the even more damaged and demented H418ov21.C, who we surmise might just be the same band. The Varghkoghargasmal is another stumbling chaotic chunk of clean guitar surf licks, bizarre, off kilter drumming, all very spare and skeletal and shuffly, lo-fi, and only black metal in spirit, as the sound is more akin to some early nineties post rock outfit, but so much more confusional and fractured. The melodies are epic and majestic, the arrangements are progressive and complex, the execution is all over the map, the drums and guitars locked tight for a stretch, only for the drums to go careening off course, while the guitar slips from muted crunch, to shimmery jangle, to weird warped off key twang and chime. Like a black metal Shaggs, or an even more loose Hypothermia, Varghkoghargasmal have easily created one of the most unique sounds in modern music. All hail WOODEN METAL. So what's the story with H418ov21.C, other than they're named after a record by Beherit? And a Beherit record that most metal fans hated, seeing as it was all ritualistic ambient and electronic music. But that makes sense that H418ov21.C would look to those Finns for inspiration, as this is also some kind of sonic ritual. Thick throbbing downtuned bass, rumbling, grinding, droning, all beneath a cacophony of old drum machines, heavily effected, spaced out and splattery, not really playing beats so much as creating rhythmic melodies, the effect is pretty stunning, a weird almost krautrocky bit of superdistorted lowslung crunch, the closest comparison we can think of is French sonic alchemists Aluk Todolo, and odds are if you dig their throbbing stripped down rhythms, you'll dig this too. Weird and wonderful, heavy and distorted and weirdly melodic. Definitely need to hear more from these guys (this guy?). And speaking of hearing more, there's also a split 7" elsewhere on this list, featuring another chunk of fractured blackened kraut crawl... LIMITED TO 70 COPIES (or thereabout), packaged in a super deluxe, multi panel, elaborately folded sleeve.
VARGHKOGHARGASMAL / OCTOBER FALLS split (Deathstrike) 7" 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Managed to dig up a few more copies of this, probably last copies ever... One final teaser before the tUMULt release of Varghkoghargasmal's Drowned In Lakes full length. Another glorious slab of "wooden metal" from this German one man band, that as always, is not particularly metal, or wooden. In fact, it's more like some strange off kilter krautrock, warbly organs, stumbling drums, lurching grooves, off kilter tempos, simple downtuned clean guitar strum, haunting keyboard melodies, all tangled up into a gorgeous creepy forest jam. The track begins all doomy and droney, the keyboard wavering over the deliberate drumming and the muted riffing, very spare and space-y, eventually locking into a more propulsive groove, the drums impossibly off, in an amazing way, totally in their own dimension, the guitar a mere mumble, except for the spidery melody that holds the whole thing together, the keyboard louder than anything else. Imagine a cross between Avarus and Benighted Leams and you might get something close to Varghkoghargasmal. Awesome as always. Splitting the disc with V. is October Falls, another one man band, this one from Finland, who specializes in dark ambient folk, and here, it's just that, all mournful minor key acoustic guitar, lilting and sorrowful, moody and meandering, so darkly pretty. Super thick sleeves and jackets, a handful are on colored vinyl, so you might get lucky, LIMITED TO 300 COPIES, each one hand numbered.
VARGLEIDE When Only Ashes And Scorched Earth Are Left Behind... (Total Holocaust) cd 14.98
VARGR Northern Black Supremacy (20 Buck Spin) cd 13.98
More "True Black Nekronoise Metal" from our man Henrik Nordvargr Bjorkk! Vargr is HNB's one-man black metal outfit in the grand tradition (from Burzum through Xasthur), bringing grim guitar buzz to the fore, although it often sounds as if his raspy vocals ("nokturnally recorded in Swedish Swedish forests"!) are accompanied by vacuum cleaners or industrial grinders instead. Grim and buzzing NEKRONOISE it is regardless. No surprise since Vargr's HNB aka Lord Nordvargr was known to us originally as an experimental drone artist, a member of such dark ambient industrial outfits as Folkstorm and MZ.412 and a collaborator with the likes of Merzbow. He made his first foray into "true" black metal realms with the Vargr disc Wehrmacht Satanas reviewed here just a couple weeks ago, and this new one, released by the ever-reliable 20 Buck Spin label, is in much the same vein of extremely-noisy-even-for-the-genre black metal, a noise album in black metal guise. Or should we say, in wolf's clothing? That's what Vargr means, Wolf. The logo was done by Jazkamer's "Count" Marhaug, and there are guest guitars on track (excuse me, "hymn") eight from HNB's old collaborator, Drakh. It's hard to say if all the Christ-hating conceits of this album are sincere, or included simply as signifiers of the black metal concept being celebrated and/or subverted... but since when was that really an issue? It certainly seems serious. Howling distortion is a language spoken in both the genres of metal and noise, and with all the the eerie isolationist ambient elements -- disembodied voices, electronic drones, echoing bootsteps -- this certainly sounds like it could come from the most dark and demented depths of the black metal's caverns of chaos, wherein dwell the likes of Abruptum, Striborg, and Wold.
"Intro: Kommando Satanas" MPEG Stream:
"Three Days For The King Of The Jews" MPEG Stream:
VARGR Wehrmacht Satanas (Eternal Pride Productions) cd 13.98
The Dark Lord Nordvargr has been threatening us with it for ages, but as the sky blackens, and the thunder rolls in, the air grows thick, the ground rumbles and cracks beneath our feet, it is finally here, the debut from Nordvargr's grim black kvlt alter ego Vargr. And just like it says in the liner notes "Vargr plays True Black Nekronoise Metal exclusively." We sure don't need to tell you how much we love Black Nekronoise Metal (at least now that we know such a thing exists) and there really is no better way to describe this caustic chaotic brutality here, but we'll give it a tryÉ Wehrmacht Satanas begins with soft swirls of sound and cold winter winds, dark and drifting and very much like much of the stuff we love from Nordvargr, but then super harsh vocals surface from within the muted drone-y backdrop and are promptly swallowed up by a massive wall of some of the harshest, heaviest, crustiest, most distorted and buzz drenched noise metal chaos we have ever heard. Riffs are more sort of big prickly downtuned smears, drums (are there actually drums in there?) blast like a hailstorm of hiss and buzz, the vocals hissing and howling, all crumbled into a serious ear shredding rrrooooaaaarÉ It actually sounds bit like a Darkthrone record on DHR, imagine Alec Empire, had he grown up on Venom And BathoryÉ Primitive, grim black buzz, but completely blown out and in the red. The riffs are looped and cyclical, totally hypnotic, definitely for fans of the ultra raw BM like Bone Awl, Ash Pool, Beherit, AncestorsÉ "The Crushing Weight Of Sin" is about as hooky as it gets, with an actual melody, and plenty of space, in the context of the rest of the record it's practically a pop song. But it's quickly followed up by "Svavelsjalar" a gorgeously thick washed out blast of blackness, everything so blurred and buzzy that it almost sounds like a black metal Fennesz, until about halfway through when the sound lurches suddenly and transforms into what sounds like a radio station between stations, bits of some super lo-fi live Beherit rehearsal coming through between the jagged shards of static and white noise. And most of the record sort of straddles that line between blasting black metal and buzzing ambience, much of this disc actually, reminds us of weirdo Canadian black metallers Wold, a twisted convoluted blurred black metal warped and wrapped in layer after layer of distortion, but where Wold was all smeared and soft focus, Vargr sharpens the edges, everything black and glinting, sharp and harshÉ Later in the record, "Total Cryptic Darkness" is everything the title would lead you to believe. Gorgeously thick and viscous black bottomless sonic pit, a near static sea of low end whir and deeeeeeeeeeeeep dark drones. A bunch of the tracks are super intense, almost techno-like looped shards of hissy crunch, almost like black gabber, while others bliss out big time, like a blackened Total, with epic ur-drones, huge swaths of metallic reverberations and warm washed out skree. The disc finishes off with a Burzum cover, and weirdly enough it's an ambient number, one that Nordvargr, deftly tweaks into something slightly grittier and more bleak, a gorgeous slab of groaning ambient driftÉ very tidal and hypnotic, the perfect aural balm after the skin flaying sonic assault you've just enduredÉ Noisy, crushing, harsh, grim, nekro, black, brutal and fucked up. Hail the True Black Nekronoise Metal!!!
"Infernal Majesty Triumphant" MPEG Stream:
"The Crushing Weight Of Sin" MPEG Stream:
"Svavelsjalar" MPEG Stream:
"Panzerkrieg - Bofors Mit Uns!"