BLACK METAL AND RELATED MUSIC
 

ABHOR
“Nequaquam Vacuum”
Black Tears Of Death
rating: 3 / 6
This is exactly that kind of CD which makes you buy it without giving a listen. In short: enrapturing appearance, intriguing song titles (mostly in Latin… of course)… and bad music. Well, not exactly bad, however I don’t consider “Nequaquam Vacuum” a worthy effort. Regular black metal work, a synonym for predictability. I’ve heard everything – EVERYTHING this CD has to offer, for billion times before. Even though they already have a new CD out (the second one), I doubt if ABHOR will ever gain anything pertinent to the notion of “success”. (Herr Stalhammar)

ABHOR
“Nequaquam Vacuum”
Black Tears Of Death
rating: 4,5 / 6
Impressive piece of easily distinguishable black metal of Roman origin. Southern Europe keeps on giving birth to more and more talented outfits… but it’s not what we have here this time. I mean, those who ABHOR was comprised of, are no newcomers in the scene. If I’m not mistaken, few of them were playing in EVOL (R.I.P.) earlier. So what do they have to offer? Intelligent and dark, mystical black metal with few goth elements easily discovered in “these and those” passages, though you should know that ABHOR is NOT a substitute for EVOL. They’re far from being romantic or something like that. It’s just Italian-school black metal, which could be better of course… but exciting anyway. I’m keeping on asking my dear son to get their second album (released shortly after “Nequaquam Vaccum” was released), but… in vain. A pity indeed, because I can’t find their second work anywhere in Moscow… A matter of taste rolls in. (Felix A.Stalhammar; translated by Kai Mathias)

AETERNUS
“Shadows Of Old”
Hammerheart Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5,5 / 6
Unfortunately I’ve missed both of their former efforts, hence the only CD by AETERNUS I can compare this one to, is “Beyond The Wandering Moon”, the album Ares and co. made their debut with. That one stroke as highly enjoyable, and what’s more, refreshing work. As a matter of fact, the same goes for “Shadows Of Old”. The musical line has been kept almost the same all the way through, although it seems like AETERNUS are doing their best to stay what they are in the same time elaborating every single thing. “Shadows Of Old” appears as a diversified piece of… Norse death metal charmingly impregnated with the black metal ambiences. The music appears as mostly fast-paced, however sometimes they slow it down a bit, thus staying far away from being irksome – and still, complexity prevails. Actually, I still wonder if they’ve incorporated drummachine or not… if not, Erik must be one of the most skillful drummers around. Anyway, figuring out if it’s him beating the hell out of drumkit or not, isn’t what this review was meant for. Nor was it meant for discovering why they’re going deeper and deeper into Irish mythological cycle. All in all, AETERNUS stay AETERNUS, one of the most original and interesting bands coming out from the North.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

AISLING
“Endless Circle”
self-released
rating: 3 / 6
Quite an impressive work for a debut. This one comes with three tracks (as well as intro and outro) of classically influenced, a bit romanticized black metal. Synths, flute, soprano… Yeah, how could they possibly cast aside these attributes?! But enough irony. “Endless Circle” definitely is a successful work, at least it’s enough distinguishable; moreover, it doesn’t bore you nor does it sound incomprehensible. Besides that, unlike in case with MALKUTH and SYMAWRATH, I wouldn’t dare to say that these chaps are doing their best following the trend. No. More likely, they simply try to find their own form of self-expression. But well, these guys doubtlessly have to work more on compositional structures anyway, be they aware of fashion or not.
Email: aisling@infinito.it
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ALASTIS
“Unity”
Century Media
rating: 5,5 / 6
Who could imagine that these Swiss chaps would come up with an effort which is twice as dark as their former works? War D.’s easily recognizable voice is the only aspect left untouched, whilst the music itself moved towards more a horror-movie soundtrack. Perturbing orchestrations dominate all the way through making one helplessly shiver; suddenly ceasing in order to let the recitatives be thrown in, and later on no less suddenly transforming into darkest shape of black metal… I suppose, anxiety is the keyword in case with this CD. Furthermore, “a milestone” is the keyword when it comes to “Unity” and it’s place in all the endeavors War D. ever made come life. (Herr Stalhammar)

AMON AMARTH
“The Crusher”
Metal Blade Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5 / 6
What? “If talented and skilled musicians book such a studio as Abyss and record an album featuring stunning lyrics and splendid cover artwork… the music may suck anyway”? Yes, “The Avenger” appeared as pretty uninteresting piece, and, honestly speaking, I never really liked this band… however, everything is relative, simultaneously having a tendency to endure a certain kind of metamorphosis. Well, here it is. “The Crusher” doubtlessly strikes as a stunning CD. Viking death metal? Hmm, why not? Musically, they still deliver the same (yet this time a bit more diversified) melodic and in the same time grind-you-to-the-core death metal, whilst the lyrical canvas still deals with the same themes ENSLAVED use to deal with. You know what? I’d just love to attend an AMON AMARTH’s live performance… Nevertheless, even if I never witnessed ‘em playing live, “The Crusher” at least proves that these guys are capable of coming up with enrapturing studio works.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ANAAL NATHRAKH
“Total Fucking Necro”
Leviaphonic Records
rating: 6 / 6
“Most violent work”? Yes, this one definitely deserves such a title. “Total Fucking Necro” is comprised of two demo efforts brought forth the light by these English weirdos, and needless to say, both strike as incredibly harsh and relentless pieces of the most extreme black metal one has ever heard. No keyboards, no female voices, no flutes or whatever alike. Just plain brutality – BUT “well thoughout” sort of brutality. Talking about comparisons, I’d name IMMORTAL (circa “Battles In The North”) and “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”-era MAYHEM (they even covered the title track off that legendary effort). Yes, the way the sound was executed is far from being perfect; yes, they aren’t the best musicians around… but personally I don’t care – and moreover, I don’t see any drawbacks when it comes to “Total Fucking Necro”. “Anaal Nathrakh”? No, “Mayhem” is the word.
P.S. V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (seemingly the mastermind behind the band) also sent me a promo sample of their forthcoming album, “Codex Necro” – and well, what should I say… It’s even more psychotic and uncompromising than “Total Fucking Necro”. ANAAL NATHRAKH is one of the best UK’s black metal combos at the moment, no doubts.
Email: <crushfuk@fuckyou.co.uk>
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ANCIENT
“God Loves The Dead”
Metal Blade Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5,5 / 6
I always loved this band. Aphazel and his ever-changing mother’s-little-helpers always managed to stay out of any trends, in the same time being excitingly original – isn’t it enough to gain some respect? Well, I believe, they DID gain it already. “God Loves The Dead” isn’t really an all-new offering of theirs. This MCD features the title-track (in fact, the only brand new song… obviously, a brilliant piece), a couple of remixes, few previously unreleased videos and a cover from IRON MAIDEN (“Powerslave”). Well, this is ANCIENT at their best. Should I really add anything else? All you pathetic wannabe black metal singers – learn how to fucking shriek! Whilst Dan Swano must be the best voiceman when it comes to doom / death metal scene, Aphazel definitely is the best one when it comes to the genre of black metal. Can’t wait to hear their fifth full-length CD…
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ANCIENT RITES
“Dim Carcosa”
Hammerheart Records
rating: 6 / 6
If RUNNING WILD played heavy metal spiced BM, what would it end in? And what if ADORNED BROOD were born in Belgium? Then, what? Well, that would without doubts be a new face of this legendary Flemish act, who now most likely will gain the success they deserve(d). Unlike “Diabolic Serenades” and “Blasfemia Eternal”, “Dim Carcosa” proposes less furious and less somber ambiences… however, what do you want, if the music has endured a metamorphosis in it’s very core? And that’s for good. Cheerfully sorrowful, sadly severe mixture of folkish heavy and black metal (with emphasis on the latter, of course), featuring unbelievable diversity when it comes to vocal department, varying from serene, mesmerizing piano passages to blast-beat inferno, making one recall the golden age of heathendom now gone… “Dim Carcosa” strikes as one of few pieces which thoroughly enshrouded me with it’s genius. No more words needed. (Herr Stalhammar)

… AND OCEANS
“Allotropic / Metamorphic – Genesis Of Dimorphism”
Century Media
(provided by Art Music Group)
rating: 4,5 / 6
Sorry, this review is not available in English. If you speak Russian, check it out by clicking here.

ANNIHILATUS
“Annihilation”
Northern Heritage Records
rating: 4,5 / 6
“Global Destruction”, “March Of Death”, “9mm Solution”, “Crush”, “Kill The Priest”, “Warmageddon”, “Cut Your Flesh”… Wow, what an imaginativeness…! No, let’s better stop here, man. No place for irony here, since ANNIHILATUS don’t have anything to do with the notions I’ve mentioned above – intelligence is what they definitely aren’t searching for. Rawness and utter destruction, audial apocalypse – that’s the aim. One and only. This 10”MLP is comprised of seven tracks, and each bears a resemblance of craving for holocaust… senseless murderer getting high whilst beholding neverending streams of blood… mind’s eye enraptured by the vision of dismemberment… phlebotomized and tortured bodies… It’s YOU, the murderer and the mind’s eye – YOU – whilst giving this piece of listen. The anger with no mean, destruction with no will to recreate … ANNIHILATUS probably are one of the most uncompromising black metal acts in Finland, at least when it comes to contemporary scene… Since formerly there were BEHERIT. And, by the way, this must be the best comparison. Seems like BEHERIT was reincarnated and took shape of ANNIHILATUS. Fare thee well… and welcome back!
Email: sinister@pikabaana.net
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ANTAIOS / STIGMATIC CHORUS
“God; The Fake Artist” / “Waters Of Styx”
More Hate Productions
rating: ANTAIOS – 6 / 6
        STIGMATIC CHORUS – 5,5 / 6
Re-releasing “Pesn’ Velesa” by ASHEN LIGHT definitely wasn’t the sort of decision I could possibly appreciate – fortunately this assertion doesn’t concern this split-CD. Both “God; The Fake Artist” by Norway’s ANTAIOS and “Waters Of Styx” by Russia’s STIGMATIC CHORUS (formerly known as CHARON) have been formerly released in the shape of 7’EP and MC (limited to a certain quantity), and now it seems like More Hate decided to make these works a bit more accessible. Well, thank you! ANTAIOS strikes as one of the most notable black metal acts amongst the ones who have emerged from Norway lately, having nothing in common neither with this “modern BM” movement nor with mostly pathetic “post-black metal” efforts (f.ex. MALIGNANT ETERNAL, THE KOVENANT and RAM-ZET). It’s pure in-your-face death and black metal, a bit similar to the latest CD by GEHENNA, although still different (and, would I dare to say, better). Harsh and violent, perfectly worked out, and supplemented with astounding drumming courtesy of Blod (yep, the one from… guess what the band is? GEHENNA should be the only correct answer)… Well, no need to add anything. Too bad that this act has quite an uncertain future, since it’s comprised of only two individuals at the moment. As to STIGMATIC CHORUS… Basically, “Waters Of Styx” doesn’t appear as a brand new work, due to the fact it was spitted forth the light on the edge of 1999 / 2000. Nevertheless, it’s still doubtlessly of interest to everyone getting high on synth-spiced black metal. Lucky us, STIGMATIC CHORUS isn’t yet another teen-sympho-BM outfit, but a worthy band delivering intelligently harsh musical canvas. And even if “Waters Of Styx” comes with a huge amount of keyboards, it’s still solely based on guitar lines – which are great, by the way. Sound execution isn’t the one I’ve been dreaming of to hear, but surprisingly STIGMATIC CHORUS only gain by the quasi-raw production. If I had an urge to find out anything to cavil at, I’d undoubtedly mark out that the lyrics are unbelievably stupid – however I couldn’t care less. Hence, a verdict? BRILLIANT.
Email (More Hate Productions): more_hate@mail.ru
Website (ANTAIOS): http://www.antaios.cjb.net
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

APRAXIA
“Ideology”
Neuro Empire Records
rating: 4 / 6
Folk black metal. From Belarus. A crap or a masterpiece? Neither the first one, nor the second. These guys are well-known for their extreme political stance (just look at the coverart portraying swastika), but the music should speak, I think. And it DOES speak. Variable and even intriguing, reminding a bit of ISENGARD as well as of “Tuatha Na Gael” by CRUACHAN, although surprisingly not that raw. Vocals demand development, but it concerns only typical black metal rasping, while “clean”, battle-like chants sound ok. The music is ok, or maybe even more than that – like I said above, intriguing. This MC is the only work by APRAXIA I heard (Kai says their older albums aren’t worth anything), and I hope it’s not the final point of their evolution.
Email: empire@rambler.ru
(review by Felix A.Stalhammar; translated by Kai Mathias)
P.S. What I like most, the ad inside the booklet welcomes everyone to participate in the comp named “Punk assault”. Let me wonder when have punks begun flocking around the NS movement?!? (Herr Stalhammar)

ARGAR
“CWN ANNWN”
Millenium Metal Music
(provided by More Hate Productions,
<more_hate@mail.ru)
rating: 5,5 / 6
True black metal… with keyboards? Why not? This Spanish sextet stay true to their roots, and even fool will say at once what their source of inspiration is: DARKTHRONE, BURZUM and DEMONIC. Speaking plainer, Norse school prevails again. But these guys seem to be wise enough to add something of their own to “CWN ANNWN”. Fortunately, they replaced the old singer with Ur Profanum whose voice sounds incredibly more impressive, in the same time being NOT ridiculous (as it was in case with Ur predecessor’s attempts to be as evil as possible). This album just doesn’t let you up. The essence of everything what we call “dark” and “non-divine”. Watch out for this one!
(review by Felix A.Stalhammar; translated by Kai Mathias)

ARGENTUM
“Stigma Mortuorum”
Danza Ipnotica Records
rating: 5,5 / 6
The apotheosis of morbidity is what one would face getting him/herself acquainted with this piece of vinyl (limited to 555 handnumbered copies, by the way). I bet that most of you either never heard of this band, or simply reckoned ‘em to “cease-to-exist” sort of acts. In fact, that’s no surprise, since “Ad Interitum Funebrarum”, their former work, saw the light back in 1996. And then… Well, then we had witnessed nothing but five long years of silence. Needless to say, I was incredibly disappointed due to the fact these Mexicans delivered a unique mixture of dark, doom, death and black metal, blended with inimitable approach to music and bewitchingly anxious atmosphere. But heads up, now they’re back! “Stigma Mortuorum” follows the way of “Ad Interitum…”, actually being more than just similar to that effort, at least when it comes to music. Still fiercely dark, still enigmatic and still unique. BUT. I guess, five years was more than enough to come up with something different (yet recognizable). This is the reason why I can’t name “Stigma…” as “an album of the issue”. Disappointment? Not really. Or more likely, not at all. ARGENTUM doubtlessly stay one of the most notable bands when it comes to South-American scene.
Email (Danza Ipnotica): ipnoticarex@tin.it
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ASHEN LIGHT
“Pesn’ Velesa”
More Hate Productions
rating: -
I don’t have any idea of why Ixxaander (the mastermind behind More Hate Productions) re-issued this (already a bit outdated) album in the shape of CD. Furthermore, I doubt if Alex (the one who’s responsible for the whole musical canvas) was, in fact, informed about this re-release. Pathetic? I guess not. It’s Alex whose person could perfectly serve as a synonym for the notion of “pathetic”. It doesn’t regard the music he came (and comes) up with, though. “Pesn’ Velesa” can be easily defined as “pagan metal” sort of thing –  although, despite the fact most of tunes off this CD are catchy (mostly thanks to simplified yet still fascinating synth-lines) and rather memorable, being a perfect soundtrack for certain heathen celebration, I have this disgusting kind of feeling that ASHEN LIGHT was nothing more but an attempt to jump on the train of rapidly growing popularity of black metal. “Pesn’ Velesa” simply lacks sincerity, thus immediately transforming this work into a 100% commercial effort.
Email: more_hate@mail.ru
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ASTROFAES
“Dying Emotions Domain”
Chanteloup Creations
(provided by More Hate Productions,
<more_hate@mail.ru>)
rating: 6 / 6
When I’ve heard “Dying Emotions Domain” for the first time, back in 1998, I immediately put this work among my faves in black metal genre. Now, after a long wait, this magnificence has been finally brought us by Chanteloup Creations, this time not as cassette but CD. And still I consider ASTROFAES the best Ukraine’s black metal group for they deliver the sort of music which hasn’t been ever delivered by anyone else. Dark and misty (yes, “misty”. This is my own comprehension of the atmosphere forced on “Dying Emotions Domain”) atmospheric black metal – unorthodox but still fitting the taste of every passionate BM freak. They even added my beloved saxophone in order to enrich their sound – and should I say, they succeeded? ASTROFAES deserve a better fate than being signed to a regular below-the-underground label. (review by Felix A.Stalhammar; translated by Kai Mathias)

AURORA BOREALIS
“Northern Lights”
Diehard Music
rating: 5 / 6
And here it goes again. This is the second time I’m giving this CD a listen, and the second time I’m trying to figure out what the hell should I comprise this review of. These must be certain words, I suppose. At least, every review is comprised of words. Furthermore, I believe these must be the words of English origin. Hmm. Some kind of nonsense. Anyway, let’s go further. “Northern Lights” (=“Aurora Borealis”; cute, isn’t it?) has been originally released on band’s own (just like all of their former works, actually), but now it seems like they found some luck at last. The guys at Denmark’s Diehard Music were kind enough to re-release the CD, also adding five bonus tracks (one of them, “War Of The Rings”, previously unreleased, whilst the rest are taken off AURORA BOREALIS’ first work in the shape of full-length CD – “Praise The Archaic Light’s Embrace”). “Draco” and “Hydrah” are what I’d mark out as the most stunning tracks off “Northern Lights”. These ones, in fact, is the best Ron managed to compose thus far. “Distant” is also worth mention. Some kind of a mesmerizing, repetitive drum pattern, structurally pretty similar to “Drums Of Doom” by MANOWAR. As to overall perception, well, it’s extremely well-crafted cross between black and death metal, technical and in the same time hauntingly atmospheric. Highly recommended. (Herr Stalhammar)

AUTUMN TEARS
“Promotional Sampler Compilation”
Dark Symphonies
rating: 6 / 6
Reviewing various samplers definitely isn’t what I’m fond of doing, however this time we have an exception to the rule. Not that I got high when this CD has been discovered in my mailbox, and the reason is: I prefer to give a listen to the albums of the full value, especially when it comes to such outstanding acts as this one, however this compilation (comprised of most astounding tunes taken off all the four CDs AUTUMN TEARS have brought forth the light so far) is a different case. In fact, I still can’t find appropriate words (definitions or whatever) in order to describe this piece, transmit you what I’ve felt and thought of during this listening experience… which is, beyond any doubts, unforgettable. Rarely you have a chance to hear as enchanting male and female voices accompanied by as inhumanly tremendous music… And no, I won’t dare to compare AUTUMN TEARS to anyone else, simply because the music they offer is beyond comparisons… literally beyond anything. Dark ambient? Neo-classical? Gothic / dark wave? Sorry, I’m not the one who’s capable of reckoning their works to a certain genre. Probably YOU will have to do it for me… (Herr Stalhammar)

AUTUMN TEARS
“Love Poems For The Dying Children… Act III: Winter And The Broken Angel”
Dark Symphonies
rating: 6 / 6
First of all, I have to bow to Erika @ Dark Symphonies for submitting me this CD shortly after I asked her to do so. I’ve been craving to get myself acquainted with this work more than with any other, and I guess I don’t have to explain what reasons I was guided by dreaming of the day when “Winter And The Broken Angel” finally finds it’s way to my mailbox. That day has come at last, and my hands were trembling when I put on the headphones and let myself drown in audial magick. I’ve been listening to it over and over again, for more than 4 hours without break, and still I can’t write down anything that could appropriately define the nirvana I reached whilst delving deeper and deeper… Discovering new unexplored horizons, soaring in the outer realms with my soul divided into nameless multitude of heavenly spheres, finding out beauty and coming forth the ugliness laying beneath… AUTUMN TEARS, without doubts, is a band… no, not a band, but artistic endeavor beyond any definitions, artistic endeavor conceived by three not men, not women, but unearthly creatures, for no human, no earthly soul is capable of bringing forth the light pain in the shape of astounding beauty. No earthly soul is capable of bringing forth the light such a captivating poetry, no CD of earthly origin is capable of looking like this… Genius? No. All the words of mine are nothing but a waste of breath. Let the MUSIC speak. (Herr Stalhammar)

AVERSE SEFIRA
“Battle’s Clarion”
Lost Disciple Records
(provided by DS Promotions)
rating: 3 / 6
“Homecoming’s March”… Aye, that one was brilliant! Those who scrolled through the previous issues definitely know how impressed was I with the first work brought forth the light by this US combo. Now they have a label to support and push ‘em forward, however, and what a disappointment, they don’t have MUSIC to be listened to, anymore. Have they exhausted themselves? Well, I’m not the right person to be asked on this matter, I’d just say “Battle’s Clarion” is below mediocre release. Straightforward grinding black metal with obvious DM heritage thrown in, even TOO similar to “Heavens Shall Burn…” by MARDUK. As you probably know, I consider “Heavens…” the lamest effort by those Swedes, and therefore I hope you don’t expect me to say I get high on this one. The only thing which doesn’t let me label “Battle’s Clarion” a complete failure, are those dismal pseudo-industrial interludes… but it’s not enough, is it? I wish they could spend few months or even a year to work out the songs of theirs in a better way, so that Wrath and Sanguine could come up with an album worth it’s predecessor. But, unfortunately, dreams rarely come to reality. (Herr Stalhammar)

BAD SECTOR
“Dolmen Factory”
Membrum Debile Propaganda
rating: 6 / 6
I always faced the problem which seemingly couldn’t be resolved whilst making numerous attempts to review music of this kind. Music? Well, some would definitely disagree with such a definition, considering works by BAD SECTOR and other acts of that ilk nothing but worthless noise. But hey, isn’t it just too special kind of stuff for the ears of the narrow-minded ones? I hope I don’t belong to such, and therefore I feel no need to use any sort of illusionary hideaway or prove him, her or them that BAD SECTOR (and once again, others of that ilk) deliver no less than artistic, perhaps not masterpiece(s), but at least endeavors. What a fool was I; what a fool! missing the Moscow’s LandShaft fest, the one Massimo Magrini (the mastermind behind BAD SECTOR) took part in! It would be definitely unforgettable experience, to see how this music sounds live, to see if he’s capable of forcing the same indescribable atmosphere in front of the live audience… Actually, that seems nearly unreachable goal, for I’m strongly convinced that tunes off “Dolmen Factory” should be listened to, being all alone, in a darkened room, with windows closed and curtains shut. I was re-reading “The Breakthrough”,  doubtlessly an astounding and simultaneously anxious short story by Dafna Du Morier (misspelled?), and this CD was spinning on and on… and ah, how can I possibly tell you what this weird mixture of audial and literal mystique made with me… Hypnotized? Yes, I was. Even more than that – the sort of feeling human tongue cannot describe… What an inhuman talent a man should have in order to capture such ambiences, what a special state of mind he should be in, to show you the way to another dimension where the spirit and the body harmlessly dwell apart simultaneously being inseparable… If you still didn’t get the point, I was knocked down; taken away far beyond the reach of mind’s eye. And still is.
Website: www.bad-sector.com
Email: m.magrini@bad-sector.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

BAD SECTOR
“Polonoid”
Tantric Harmonies
rating: 4,5 / 6
This one strikes as BAD SECTOR’s latest offering (even though “Polonoid” has been originally recorded four years ago), surprisingly brought forth the light by… Russian label. Unfortunately, this CD impressed me way less than “Dolmen Factory” mainly due to the fact it’s not as well worked out, not as structurally complete. But anyway, “Polonoid” appears as a highly enjoyable piece of minimal electro granting the one who dares to give it a listen the experience not easily forgotten. To put it straight: if I had to choose between any of BRIGHTER DEATH NOW’s efforts and “Polonoid”, I’d definitely pick this one. (Herr Stalhammar)

BAL SAGOTH
“Atlantis Ascendant”
Nuclear Blast Records
rating: 1 / 6
The artwork made me laugh. The story this CD is lyrically based on made me envy Byron's talent for I would never be able to compose anything like this. The music… well, the music almost made me flush this pile of crap down the fucking toilet. Obviously BAL SAGOTH don’t have anything in common with black metal anymore, moreover – in fact, they don’t have anything in common with METAL. Based on synth-lines which have been surprisingly thrice as simplified and nearly cheerful guitar passages (sounding all the same throughout the whole CD), “Atlantis Ascendant” made me desperate. I always loved this band, I admired unique, sophisticated and no less than tremendous orchestrations Jonny has been crafting, I felt a deep gratitude for they invented a genre of their own… which has finally brought them down on earth – no!,  below the earth, into the artistic dead-end. You know, this CD sounds like they just HAD to record and unleash it in due time. And it’s not my fault that Byron and co. have miserably failed at last. Hopefully this will the last-ever album shitted forth the light under the banners of once doubtlessly outstanding act. (Herr Stalhammar)

BARATHRUM
“Okkult”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5,5 / 6
Sorry, this review is not available in English. If you speak Russian, check it out by clicking here.

BLOODSHED
“Skullcrusher”
code666
rating: 3,5 / 6
Ah, good old Swedish death metal! Well, not that it’s pure death metal the “Left Hand Path” way, most likely BLOODSHED deliver rather impressive mixture of death and black metal. DARK FUNERAL meets DISMEMBER, y’know. Actually, I gave a listen to one of this act’s demo works quite a long time ago, and neither did it warm me up back then, nor does it now. Yes, pretty good stuff indeed, nevertheless it’s quite surprising to see this kind of band signed to code666, who claim to pick up only those bands that are somehow special. Well, if _this_ is “special”, something wrong goes in their minds… (Herr Stalhammar)

BLOODTHORN
“Under The Reign Of Terror”
Red Stream Records
rating: 3 / 6
This is something I didn’t really expect to hear. Needless to say, I was sort of disappointed as well… Ok, does anyone of you recall Norway’s BLOODTHORN? Yes, that fantasy-inspired “epic black metal”? Well, forget about it. These guys have turned the page and now kindly propose furious death / black metal… obviously with no synth, choirs, female voice or whatsoever. It’s not as bad as you could imagine, however “Under The Reign Of Terror” definitely is not the kind of CD I’d gladly play once again. And lastly, that “Deathcrush” cover (featuring Necrobutcher on bass guitar) is pretty weak. (Herr Stalhammar)

BUTTERFLY TEMPLE
“Koleso Chernoboga”
Irond Records Ltd.
rating: 6 / 6
Aye – what a CD! Pure brilliance, to say the least. It was obviously hard to beat the former work of theirs, “Veles”, nevertheless these guys contrived to do it. BUTTERFLY TEMPLE definitely is the most notable act amongst all these Russian wannabe heathens (such as ASHEN LIGHT, for instance), delivering truly astounding music. In fact, this one doesn’t have a lot in common with black metal, therefore making me helplessly attempt to reckon ‘em to this or that genre. Well, I wouldn’t say I succeeded. Let’s just say “Butterfly Temple”, okay? Musically, “Koleso Chernoboga” is what “Veles” would sound alike, if it was conceived in a more imaginative way (adding slightly better sound execution as well… although it’s still rather crappy). Give a listen to “Khort Yamy”, “Demiurg Extasa” and “Kaleidoskope 69” and judge yourselves whether I’m right or wrong, anyway. I still can’t stop listening to this CD and the reason is utmost simple – in spite of the fact that structurally “Koleso Chernoboga” is quite sophisticated piece, it strikes as unbelievably catchy and mindflattering. Yes, few tracks, such as “Kaleidoskope 69” and “Zri, Satano!”, remind me a bit of MOONSPELL and SEAR BLISS (most likely because of the “clean” male voice similar to that of Fernando Ribeiro, as well as use of a trumpet), however Lesyar and co. successfully manage to stay far away from any sort of plagiarism, composing easily distinguishable stuff.  And ah, how could I forget about “clean” male and female voices! These ones appear as, beyond any doubts, exceptional. Just like the whole CD. A MUST.
Website: http://listen.to/btemple
Email: btemple@mail.ru
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

CARPATHIAN FOREST
“Morbid Fascination Of Death”
Avantgarde Music
rating: 6 / 6
What’s this…? Another lame pseudo-black metal of Norway’s origin? Nope. Better “one of the few Norwegian black metal acts left is back with a no less than stunning work”. Well, probably not even “one of the few…” but the “only one”. As you must have mentioned, most of those all of us considered living legends of Scandinavian BM scene either wimped out or completely changed their style for something fantastically incomprehensible (do I need to mention MAYHEM, MORGUL, EMPEROR , ULVER… and hundreds else?). Well, CARPATHIAN FOREST didn’t. This raw “misanthropic black metal” can’t be mistaken with anything else, man! “Morbid Fascination Of Death” is pretty much similar to “Strange Old Brew” (no surprise, since both CDs have been executed at the same time, back in January 2000), although it’s better in a way I can’t really figure out. Perhaps, it’s a bit more complex and better structured… even though, those bizarre sax and more or less experimental passages haven’t gone anywhere. It’s pure METAL anyway. Furthermore, this effort features a re-worked version of “Carpathian Forest”, as well as incredibly weird demo track (“Nostalgia”) and MAYHEM’s “Ghoul”. What ELSE do you need?? A special bonus for the utterly depraved booklet’s appearance. (Herr Stalhammar)

CASTRUM
“Hatenourisher”
Bloodbucket Productions
rating: -
Finally, Ukraine’s CASTRUM (don’t confuse ‘em with their Croatian namesakes) managed to come up with a debut CD, needless to say, an excellent one. Being comprised of eight songs (mostly old ones), “Hatenourisher” features a stunning cross between (true) death and black metal at it’s best. Actually, this one is more death metal, however shouldn’t we reckon this genre to BM movement?? At least, CASTRUM is thousand times more black metal (in the finest sense of this word) than f.ex. Croatia’s CASTRUM or all those attempting-to-look-like-a-so-fucking-scary-vampire bands. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply respect such bands as CRADLE OF FILTH (music is what we’re talking about here… their attitude is something NOT to be discussed in this review), nevertheless I prefer “Hatenourisher” over “In The Horizons…” (the second CD by… guess whom? Sure, this band’s namesakes). Surprisingly well executed, also being distinguishable, as well as hauntingly atmospheric, “Hatenourisher” represents some truly astounding piece of metal. The old songs sound in a completely different way, whilst what surprised me most of all, are the drum tracks – Doni isn’t only a regular drummer, a man to fill the drummer’s vacation, he contrived to make his parts no less important than guitar or bass lines. Yeah yeah, I know, you’re craving to hear whom I’d compare them to. Ok, here you are: THE CROWN, FOREST OF IMPALED, early AURORA BOREALIS and ANCIENT RITES (circa “Blasfemia Eternal”). But does it mean that CASTRUM aren’t capable of creating enrapturing and above all ORIGINAL music? Well, actually they ARE capable. All in all: this is definitely a brilliant debut. Now it shouldn’t be difficult-of-access anymore, since it has been just officially released by Canada’s Bloodbucket Productions (run by the guys from HORDE OF WORMS, also a band worth mentioning). However, the thing I don’t like about this re-issue, goes for the mastering which, sad to say, only weakened the overall execution.
Email: bloodbucketproductions@hotmail.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

CHILDREN OF BODOM
“Follow The Reaper”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 3 / 6
And so what?! Yes, their technical capabilities undoubtedly deserve to be envied, however my problem is, I’ve got myself acquainted with both “Something Wild” and “Hatebreeder” before giving this one a listen. And in case of comparing “Follow The Reaper” to the aforementioned works, this effort should be considered no less than a failure. No more Yngwie Malmsteen-alike passages, no more astounding arrangements – just an aim to tell the world “hey, we’re the best musicians around!”. Of course, if you start your acquaintance with CHILDREN OF BODOM with “Follow The Reaper”, it’s quite likely that you’ll enjoy the CD. But when it comes to me, sorry – “Northern Comfort” appears as the only track off “Follow The Reaper” I dig. And “sorry” for yet one more time, but let me compare this effort to HAMMERFALL’s “Renegade” – the same rock-star attitude and utter lack of sincerity. The rating? – ‘3’ out of ‘6’ ONLY for outstanding performance’s technique.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

CORONA BOREALIS
“Corona Borealis”
Hammerheart Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5 / 6
If I’m not mistaken, this one has been formed by someone from Norway’s AETERNUS… and just like in case with “Shadows Of Old”, “Corona Borealis” makes it’s way through a billion questions: such as, for example, why is the lineup comprised of Slavs (Ekaterina Lojkomoeva, Igor Lisov, Vadim Mitrofanov – aren’t they of Russian origin? Judging by the names, let me dare to say “yes”)? I don’t know whether I will ever find answers which could satisfy me or not, consequently let’s talk about music for a while. Authentic, mostly traditional songs carefully recreated and sensitively performed, they literally cherish one’s bleeding soul… however why are they based on Gaelic heritage? I mean, if you’ve taken CRUACHAN and ANTICHRISIS (circa “A Legacy Of Love”) and removed everything pertinent to metal, you would get “Corona Borealis”. One more question seemingly left to be unanswered… Nevertheless, this piece strikes as doubtlessly enrapturing – needless to say, only if you give it a listen alone, nearby a silent lake, whilst beholding a sun going down. If you have already been devoured by this dark, loathsome and senseless age of reason, pass on this one. “Corona Borealis” exposes it’s tremendous beauty and heartrending essence only when a chosen one picks it up…
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

CORONACH
“The Gift Of Foresight”
Splattertribe Records
rating: 3,5 / 6
“Coronach”? “Splattertribe Records”? Never heard of ‘em. And that’s no surprise, since it looks like this is a debut, both for the label and for the band. Ok, what is this one all about? Firstly, in order to clear the things up, let me remind you that US-based acts have never been known for producing top-notch black metal. And this already explains a lot. CORONACH attempt to deliver melodic black / death metal, slightly influenced by Swedish school… and I wouldn’t say they fail or whatever alike. They’re just mediocre. Just like f.ex. ESTUARY OF CALAMITY. Neither disgusting, nor astounding piece. (Herr Stalhammar)

CRADLE OF FILTH
“Bitter Suites To Succubi”
AbraCadaver
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 2 / 6
Sorry, this review is not available in English. If you speak Russian, check it out by clicking here.

CROWNTHORN
“In The Name Of Moonlight…”
Fatal Forum Productions
rating: 1 / 6
Swedish school death / black metal? Well, I wish it would be it. It is not, though. Actually, it’s not even BM, nor it is death metal. CROWNTHORN deliver rather irksome and boredom-filled heavy metal with pathetically growling and no less pathetically rasping vokills (Michael Novikov, the best singer in Nizhny Novgorod?! Don’t make me laugh), and if it wasn’t enough, the B-side reveals horrible drawbacks when it comes to the way this album has been put on tape. Sorry, but I couldn’t even listen it to the end. Enough headache. Unfortunately, our beloved country once again proves that there’s no such term as Russian either black or death metal scene. Will it ever change for better? Too bad, but I believe that with as wretched mentality as we (they?) have, there’s no future or whatsoever lying ahead.
Email: stalnoi@mail.ru
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

CRUACHAN
“Ride On”
Hammerheart Records
(provided by Zodiacpath Industries)
rating: 2 / 6
Pretty average interpretation of Ireland’s (England’s?) famous “Ride On”, one incomprehensible instrumental tune as well as two more (and way less exciting than “Ride On”, if you get what I mean) tracks… Why? What for? Sorry, this is definitely something I cannot neither understand nor accept. Chopping off few more thousand bucks, perhaps? Well, let them do what they want – I just hope “Folk-Lore” won’t be as lame as this one is. (Herr Stalhammar)

DARK FAITH
“The Sentence Of Satan”
War Is Imminent Productions
rating: 3,5 / 6
Maybe I’ve just been listening to “The Sentence…” in a bit careless way… but I nevertheless failed to discover anything exciting or innovative. What the hell, there’s enormous number of completely unoriginal CDs I simply adore, and unfortunately it does NOT regard this effort. Just a mediocrity, you see.  Fast-paced satanic black metal, all in all 30 minutes of rawness and undivine brutality – that’s what this CD is all about. Well, perhaps the vocal lines sound pretty entertaining… but that’s all. Absolutely not a worthless output, but think twice before spending regular 16 (20, 40, 150, 1000000) bucks purchasing this one. (Herr Stalhammar)

DARK FUNERAL
“Diabolis Interium”
No Fashion Records
rating: 5,5 / 6
Ok, and now prepare for the massive dose of industrialized satanic hip-hop! Just kidding. Did anyone really think that DARK FUNERAL will ever stop being what they’re famous for? Obviously not. “Diabolis Interium” differs from their former works, and simultaneously doesn’t. Mostly ultra-fast, slowing down just for a moment, blast-beating christian’s worst nightmare… yes, it’s DARK FUNERAL and it’s black metal. A bit more diversified in comparison to “The Secrets Of The Black Arts” and “Vobiscum Sathanas”, although one can hardly mark out any drastic differences, nevermind how much he / she strives for it. An excellent piece of unmatched brutality… I doubt if it would be better if “Diabolis Interium” was something else. (Herr Stalhammar)

DARKNESS ENSHROUD
“Totenhanz”
The Fossil Dungeon
rating: 6 / 6
Let’s put it straight: I have no respect for Michael Ford (formerly known as Baron Von Abaddon @ BLACK FUNERAL) and probably never will have. I never considered his endeavors with DARKNESS ENSHROUD worthy enough to waste my time on getting acquainted with ‘em to it’s full extent. You may ask, what made me change my opinion on this project and Michael’s personality that drastically if “Totenhanz” was rated with the highest mark possible? Nothing. Just nothing. In fact, it’s the music which surprisingly endured a radical metamorphosis, the one enough to make me pleased. The one enough to make me enraptured by what “Totenhanz” has to offer. Haunting ambiences, anxious to the extreme, they leave me helplessly entangled in a web of night’s most stunning purity. Michael finally realized that random collection of sounds and samples thrown in here and there won’t affect the one who gives his works a listen, nor will they stay an unforgettable experience. And now they DO stay, now they DO affect… me. It’s quite uncommon to be granted a chance of letting yourself drown in a haze of grimmest nocturne, mesmerized by the haunting atmospheres, the ones we never speak of when daylight fades. “Totenhanz” doesn’t really appear as what I use to name “music”, but more likely one’s imaginary nightmarish sabbath. Bewitching it is. (Herr Stalhammar)

DARK TRANQUILLITY
“Skydancer” / “Of Chaos And Eternal Night”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: -
Finally, the world has beheld the re-release of this no less than legendary work, as well as “Of Chaos And Eternal Night”, kinda difficult-of-access MCD. Once, back in the year of 1994, “Skydancer” left me speechless; I was completely absorbed by it’s indescribable beauty and enrapturing aura – and, in fact, even though seven years have passed, nothing changed. My hands keep on trembling when I put this CD in my stereo. “Crimson Winds”, “A Bolt Of Blazing Gold”, “Through Ebony Archways”, “Shadow Duet”… These songs (as well as all the other ones off “Skydancer”) forever will stay a classic, unique pieces of geniality, sparkling jewels in the trashcan of music industry. For true art is immortal – don’t you agree? DARK TRANQUILLITY gave birth to an all new style and musical direction, definitely innovative and flattering – back then. Fashionable and self-exhausting nowadays. However, is it their fault? NO! This band stayed and still stays above all the copycats, above all trends, above anything… for THEY ARE GODS. No less than that.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

DEATH DIES
“The Sound Of Demons”
rating: 3 / 6
Modern dilemma: “A black metal band coming out of Italy – what to expect?” Perhaps, some pseudo-medieval wannabe? Or EVOL copycat? Not at all, even though it strikes as few of those DEATH DIES is comprised of, previously were a part of… yes, EVOL. Musically, it’s pretty fast-paced thrash metal with a black metal voice and a bit weird kind of drumming. I mean, when this guy does his best to come up with an appropriate accompaniment, he fails, but when he goes on his own and blows your head off with a magnificent drum solo, he fills in just perfectly. Definitely something to think about. Not now, though. In fact, “The Sound Of Demons” surprisingly reminds me a lot of SHINING OF KLIFFOTH, even though it’s way less artistic and complex. More or less enjoyable CD, however not one of a kind, and obviously not the one I’d be listening to frequently.
Email: deathdies@tin.it
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

DEISEAL
“Relationship Of Hate”
Black Crystal
rating: 5,5 / 6
What the hell happens to me…? Seems like I’m already unable to compose a comprehensible review. Or is it the music which has to be reviewed, a reason for such a mess? In fact, “Relationship Of Hate” is hellishly hard to describe sort of CD, however can it be a reasonable explanation of the actual review’s absence? Yes, and no. Tremendously packed and hauntingly arranged, this piece of dark / black metal left me nearly speechless. Who could expect that France still is capable of spawning at least few more acts which strike as no less unique as f.ex. MISANTHROPE or YYRKOON? The proof is here, though. Craving for something you haven’t ever heard before; something that stands far from both incomprehensibility and any kinds of trend or whatever? Well, you’ve got it with DEISEAL.
Email: blackcrystal@voila.fr
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

DIABOLICUM
“The Dark Blood Rising”
code666
rating: 3 / 6
Ok, this _IS_ special. And it fails in comparison to BLOODSHED… Wouldn’t it be better to pick up a band less “special” but way more _musical_, huh? Ok, highlights go first in turn. Tremendous appearance. One of the verses composed by Jon Nodtveidt. Indescribable and incomparable atmosphere. Enough. Now come the drawbacks. Incomplete. Harmonies badly out of hand. Irritating at times. Too much industrial. Perhaps, even TOO much. Concluding; quite innovative and somewhat even intriguing CD, although too many things have yet to be improved. (Herr Stalhammar)

DIMMU BORGIR
“Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia”
Nuclear Blast Records
rating: 6 / 6
Yes, here they come again, with an album some would consider synonymous for worthlessness, and some – a milestone. I beg your pardon, but despite that I wouldn’t ever assert I respect these guys personally, “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” undoubtedly strikes as the most worked out and splendorous effort by DIMMU BORGIR. Cast away your irony, cast away your scorn, and give a listen to it. This is where the music rules supreme. And even though I must admit that this one didn’t really impress me at the first listen (like “yeah, well-crafted CD, with an all-star lineup (Shagrath, Silenoz, Mustis, Galder (OLD MAN’S CHILD), Vortex (ex-BORKNAGAR) and Nicholas (ex-CRADLE OF FILTH)), yeah, DIMMU BORGIR at their best… but still of no interest”), I gave it a second chance, a third one… and finally realized that with “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” DIMMU BORGIR not only reached a peak in their career, but also left no chances to create anything as stunning, as elaborated, as bewitching, when it comes to the genre of sympho-black metal. To put it straight: this CD is perfect in all terms. Astounding artwork and overall appearance coming in the shape of 12-page booklet, incredibly well thoughtout image and makeup, stunning musicianship (b.t.w., if it’s a drummachine beating the hell out of Satan himself, the one who has programmed it must be a genius… And if it’s Nicholas sitting behind the drumkit, he must be… well you know what I was going to say: “genius”), as well as brilliant arrangements, perfectly structured compositions and tremendous sound execution. And don’t get me wrong, defining it as “sympho-black” I meant the huge amount of synthetic harmonies thrown in – while “Puritanical…” is basically based on guitars, and only guitars! Many are wondering why the hell they had to invite an orchestra in order to participate in only few songs, whereas not comprehending that live instruments (even if their parts aren’t that complicated) sound thousand times better than any synthesizer with a skillful chap handling it. All in all, this is an album with NO drawbacks. And there aren’t too many of a kind these days, don’t you think so? Oh, almost forgot: THIS IS BLACK METAL, you dull-witted non-entities! As BLACK as possible. (Herr Stalhammar)

DISMAL EUPHONY
“Python Zero”
Nuclear Blast Records
rating: 4,5 / 6
Surprise! DISMAL EUPHONY are back on the spot, whilst brand new offering of theirs, “Python Zero” is no doubts a splendid piece. Yes, definitely a surprise, taking into account the fact “All Little Devils” sucked incredibly. Needless to say, “Python Zero” is far from being a 100% black metal effort – actually, “Plasma Pool” is the only track off it which could be considered black metal. Others strike as a weird yet still enigmatic mixture of death metal… and hard rock. Unfortunately, Anja Natasha is the worst replacement for Keitziva one could ever conceive, however her singing doesn’t really irritate me anymore. Male vocals have been smoothed a bit, and THAT was a good move. In general, this CD has plenty of jewels – hidden and not, such as f.ex. “Flyineye” featuring Country / Folk elements, as well as semi-industrial “Needle”, and in spite of that all the songs off “Python Zero” are pretty different, this CD nevertheless sounds complex and comprehensible. Highly recommended (this regards even those who consider “Soria Moria Slott” the only valuable CD by DISMAL EUPHONY). (Herr Stalhammar)

DIVINA ENEMA
“At The Conclave”
Eldritch Music
rating: 6 / 6
Someone’s missing ARCTURUS, particularly “La Masquerade Infernale” epoch? No need to bury the dream of having a chance to listen to similar work. At least, here we have a band with a same approach to music – since, honestly speaking, they’ve contrived to come up with something of their very own. Belarus’ DIVINA ENEMA delivers doubtlessly sophisticated, somewhat vanguard, yet still tremendously enrapturing musical canvas. Solely based on contradictions, incredibly well worked out, this is not the sort of stuff one would get into, right after the first listen. “For open-minded only”? Perhaps. But not exactly. Theatrical and structurally complicated, drawing influences from everything that might work as a source of inspiration, “At The Conclave” simply appears as something I haven’t ever heard before. This is the case where genius meets insanity, you see. This CD leads us into the realms far beyond the reach of comprehensibility, where art knows no boundaries, where one should be utterly devoured by the beast known as intelligence in order to discover the domain of everlasting aesthetic pleasure. KOROVA? KING DIAMOND? ARCTURUS? ULVER? MR.BUNGLE…?? No, these are NOT the bands I’m going to compare DIVINA ENEMA to. Not at all. Then what? What does your humble servant have to say? Wouldn’t it better for everyone if he stays speechless?
P.S. Sounds pretty equivocal? Far from being understandable? Ok, just a few words: this is 666% original work, based on strangely fascinating vocal department’s diversity (Yaroslav manages to vary his voice from grim blackish yelling to falsetto, simultaneously managing to sing in a surprisingly fitting  and enjoyable “clean” voice) and, as it was already said above, sophisticated compositional structures, supplemented with female voice as well as cello, violin and tenor sax performed by professionally trained musicians… whilst lyrically “At The Conclave” is, beyond any doubts, an exceptional work. This is just beyond any descriptions. UNIQUE. Yes, “unique” must be the keyword.
Eldritch Music Europe: c/o Dzianis Puhach, P.O. Box 74, 220124, Minsk, Republic of Belarus. Email: dzianis@eldritch-music.com
Eldritch Music Vinland: c/o Tsimafei Koval, 815 Gravesend Neck Rd. Apt. #3A
Brooklin, NY, 11223, USA. Mobile phone: ++9177218286. Email: tsimafei@eldritch-music.com
Website: www.eldritch-music.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

DOMAIN / DEMONIZED
“Hellbirth”
American Line Productions
rating: 2 / 6
Ladies and gentlemen, let me scrrr-r-r-r-r-eam out that I just love this label! Bringing forth the light exclusively low-budget stuff, horribly executed and often incompetently performed, Mexico’s American Line nevertheless managed to stay one of my all-time faves. At least, how else could we manage to give a listen to 666% underground acts coming out of f.ex. Costa Rica? No other way, but check out A.L. mailorder catalogue, I suppose. However; this time a disappointment. Both DOMAIN and DEMONIZED are way above f.ex. PAGANUS DOCTRINA in terms of musicianship, but unfortunately they don’t have anything to offer musically. Chaotic death metal, a bit reminiscent of (early) MASACRE and (early) NECROPHAGIA, although thousand times worse. I wouldn’t say it’s a complete disaster, no. It’s just something I’ve listened once, in order to come up with this review, and doubtlessly never will listen to again. For old-school death metal freaks only. (Herr Stalhammar)

DUNKELGRAFEN
“Triumph Des Fleishes”
Last Episode Productions
rating: 5 / 6
A pleasant surprise, and simultaneously, a disappointment. DUNKELGRAFEN were formerly known as one of most uncompromising and relentless black metal acts Germania has ever spawned – and, no doubts, “Schatten Der Ewigkeit” (the first offering of theirs) was a nothing but a fist in the face of Jesus and all the narrow-minded pathetic beings. Unfortunately (?), I missed their second work, therefore I can’t really judge the development DUNKELGRAFEN have endured throughout years. Nevertheless, here comes their third CD, and… yes, it’s different. Even if few passages still remind me of that old DUNKELGRAFEN, raw and grim black metal, the whole album almost makes me think it was executed by completely different band. Rawness? Yep, we still have a bit of it here. But only a bit. Dual vocals, subterranean-alike grunts and blackish yelling? Still here, as well. As to the ambiences “Triumph Des Fleisches” is soaked with… well, they’re way less grim, being more perturbing and even gloomily sorrowful at times. Structurally, this work is more complex and comprehensible. Needless to say, all the tunes “Triumph…” comes with, are well thought- and worked-out. I still like “Schatten…” – and I DO like this one. However, these are not only two different albums, but two different BANDS. Remember that. (Herr Stalhammar)

ELVIRA MADIGAN
“Black Arts”
Northlore Records
rating: 6 / 6
“Black Arts” comes in the shape of superb digipack, blissfully disguised in the artwork courtesy of Luis Royo, whilst the musical canvas didn’t justify my expectations when it comes to it’s, what I thought of obvious, contents. FORTUNATELY didn’t justify. I mean, I was expecting to hear muddy sounds of yet another SUMMONING copycat, however I was twice as surprised when I found out it was not! ELVIRA MADIGAN deliver deeply atmospheric, fascinating music which you would be wrong reckoning to the genre of black metal. In fact, you would be wrong in any other case, since Marcus (the ONLY living soul behind ELVIRA MADIGAN) successfully passed on all possible cliches creating a unique blend of what may be loosely defined as fantasy metal of his own. I suppose, it doesn’t have anything to do with Mr.Tolkien’s heritage, however it’s still “fantasy” to the core, at least judging by the ambiences “Black Arts” is filled with. Inimitable and, what’s more, fascinating guitar passages accompanied by floating-alike synth-lines as well as enigmatic vocals (the “clean” ones are beyond tremendousness, so to say) and unique approach to music. In spite of this CD’s length (approx. 76 minutes), nothing - NOTHING and NO ONE is capable of making you stop this charming listening experience. If it’s _not_ perfection, I honestly have no idea what else should it be.
Email: northlore@elviramadigan.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ENCOMIAST
“Winter’s End”
Lens Records
rating: 4,5 / 6
To start with, I was stoned whilst listening to this piece – perhaps that’s the reason why “Winter’s End” got ‘5’ out of ‘6’. Droning yet meditatively haunting mixture of dark ambient, rhythm noise and minimal electro, this is what this effort has to offer. And in fact, the result is rather fascinating. Obviously this is not the kind of music for everyone, and what’s more, it wouldn’t even appeal all the open-minded chaps out there. Music for the few chosen ones, that is. Needless to say, this is pretty tough listening experience, consequently the one who dares to try “Winter’s End”, should reach the special state of mind, otherwise it simply doesn’t work, y’know. Doubtlessly the most intriguing CD Lens Records have brought forth the light thus far. The only thing I can’t really get into, why is ENCOMIAST comprised of three invididuals? This sort of music surely doesn’t demand such a lineup…
Website: http://www.lensrecords.com
Email: lens@lensrecords.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ENTHRONED
“Armoured Bestial Hell”
Blackend Records
(provided by Raising Hell Management)
rating: 6 / 6
44 minutes? What a nonsense! It seems like this CD is twice as shorter. All the eleven tunes “Armoured Bestial Hell” is comprised of, turn into one skullcrushing piece of black metal holocaust passing by with a speed of light. This, already fifth, work by Belgium’s premiere masters of black metal strikes as their most impressive CD… nonono, not really “strikes as”. More likely, “it IS their most impressive CD”. Making any attempts to describe what is going on here, seems to be utterly useless task, simply because ENTHRONED deliver exactly that sort of music which should be listened to instead of being reviewed. Performed at relentless speed, “Armoured Bestial Hell” doesn’t suffer from incomprehensibility or lack of compositional talent, though. Everything has been incredibly well worked out and no less well executed. Along with “Innocence From Hell” by VIKING CROWN and “Total Fucking Necro” by ANAAL NATHRAKH, this must be the most violent effort reviewed this issue… and therefore, isn’t it a must to have? Doubtlessly, YES! (Herr Stalhammar)

EPOCH OF UNLIGHT
“Caught In The Unlight”
The End Records
rating: 3,5 / 6
This one looks incredible appearance-wise, doesn’t it? And aren’t the lyrics one of the best ones I’ve ever read? Isn’t the sound execution splendid? Aren’t they skillful musicians? Yes, yes, yes and yes. HOWEVER. However, “Caught In The Unlight” (just like the CD this one appears as a followup to) doesn’t have the necessary potential, nor does it possess anything which could possibly make me rate it with a mark higher than you see above. The End Records previously have been known for putting out outstanding works, but it seems like there’s always an exception to every rule. EPOCH OF UNLIGHT, with their Swedish-school oriented, thrashy black / death metal, have everything a regular metalhead is dreaming of to hear, however, despite top-class production and musicianship, “Caught In The Unlight” simply makes me bored. One listen is more than enough, I believe. Definitely the worst band at The End. (Herr Stalhammar)

ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW
“Chaotic Beauty”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5 / 6
Firstly, let me admit that you won’t be able to pass on “Chaotic Beauty” simply because of it’s stunning appearance (courtesy of Niklas Sundin / DARK TRANQUILLITY). Secondly, let me assure you that the artwork isn’t this work’s only highlight. “Chaotic Beauty” doesn’t appear as the first CD brought forth the light by these talented Finns, at least that’s what I know, however it’s the first one I’ve got myself acquainted with. Well, that was a pleasant acquaintance, no doubts. If they were capable of filling the whole CD with such tunes as “Blood Of Faith Stains My Hands”, “Bride Of The Crimson Sea” or “Tar Of Chaos”, “Chaotic Beauty” definitely would turn out as a masterpiece. It’s not far from that, as it is, though. Catchy and indescribably bewitching mixture of almost all the presently existing metal genres – black, death, doom and heavy metal – this piece won’t leave your mind shortly after you’ve given it a listen, don’t even think about it! Generally speaking, even though “Chaotic Beauty” can’t be really reckoned to any particular genre (like it often happens nowadays… although I guess black metal prevails, anyway), this CD doesn’t strike as some incomprehensible mixture of “this” and “that”. More likely, as a completed puzzle. Even that Asian slut (Kimberly Goss is obviously whom I’m talking about) couldn’t spoil my impression of this piece by adding her disgusting out-of-key voice to a couple of songs… Therefore: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

FAERGHAIL
“Where Angels Dwell No More”
The LSP Company
(provided by More Hate Productions,
<more_hate@mail.ru>)
rating: 4 / 6
No-o-o! Why the absolute majority of bands I no less than loved, come up with nearly disgusting followups to their once tremendous former works?! Actually, “Where Angels Dwell No More” is thousand miles away from being disgusting, however it’s AS far from the genius of “Blood Will Follow Blood”. Unfortunately, this one (unlike previous efforts by FAERGHAIL) lacks diversity which I consider a huge drawback, although it’s not the worst thing here. Too bad, but this Finnish combo seems to attempt embarking the path once discovered by DEMONIAC, even though still keeping that dark metal blend. Perhaps we should blame Anssi Kippo and Astia Studio in making FAERGHAIL’s sound closer to CHILDREN OF BODOM and early THY SERPENT? Who knows… There’s not really much left to say, actually. “Where Angels Dwell No More” strikes as rather enjoyable piece of melodic dark metal, almost rock’n’rollish at times (yuck!), which could be utterly worthless if it didn’t feature such tunes as “Suicidal Rites”, “Silver Moon Child” or “In The Arms Of A Nightmare”. And yes, it’s first time I hear such a bizarre drumming. (Herr Stalhammar)

FJELLTRONE
“Skogens Ande”
Dark End Records
rating: 4 / 6
Anyone getting high on the last works by Varg / BURZUM here? Well, you’re welcome to taste “Skogens Ande”, highly enjoyable piece of monotonous yet fascinating dark ambient. Relax, guys. The time has come to enter the wooden realms and pay our homage to Mother Nature…
Email: Fjelltrone666@hotmail.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

FLAUROS
“Suicide”
Embers Productions
rating: 5,5 / 6
“Suicide” strikes as the latest work by one of the most violent Finnish acts, and needless to say, it’s no less stunning than all the other efforts of theirs I’ve got myself acquainted with earlier. Actually, it’s a pity that this five-piece, comprised of Sin K. (vocals, synth), Wraith (guitars), Thomas Nightswan (guitars), Thoth (bass) and (A) Kartzu (drums), still didn’t manage to come up with a full-length CD – therefore I have to somehow limit the pleasure of listening to this diabolical masquerade (uhm, have I heard that before…?) by only two or three tracks. And what is even more unpleasant, all of the recordings FLAUROS have put out so far are strictly limited (f.ex. this 7’EP was released in a quantity of 500 copies). But ok, what does “Suicide” deal with? This picture-disc features two compositions (“Thirty Pieces Of Silver” as well as a title-track; the first one placed on a Side 9.8 1945, the second one – on Side 6.8 1945… strangely enough, huh?) of violent and atmospheric black metal at it’s best – idearich black metal with it’s own identity. The coverart (or more likely, the art laid down on this picture disc) is as well exceptional, painted by the one all of you are most probably familiar with: Kris Verwimp. Concluding words? “A MUST!”
Email: Flauros@hotmail.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

FUNEBRIS
“Triumph Of The Everlasting Fire”
Last Episode Productions
rating: 2 / 6
It’s just getting worse. I can’t but wonder why LEP let FUNEBRIS and ZORN go first in turn, postponing the release-dates of newest works by ROSSOMAHAAR, EISREGEN and MEPHISTOPHELES… I mean, “Triumph Of The Everlasting Fire” is not as bad as it had to be in order to get the lowest mark, but it’s doubtlessly not as _good_ to reach the top either. Irritatingly average piece of black metal – and sorry, there’s nothing else to say. If you’d like to know what do they sound alike, try to recall VILKATES (also on Last Episode). (Herr Stalhammar)

GOD DETHRONED
“Ravenous”
Metal Blade Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5,5 / 6
Probably the best CD these Dutch blasphemers have managed to come up thus far. Well, why “probably”? “Definitely” would fit better. Comprised of such killer tunes as “The Iconoclast Deathride”, “The Crown For The Morbid” and “Autumn Equinox – Winter Campaign 2002”, this one simply couldn’t come out worthless on the outcome. Add stylistic originality, a necessary dose of harshness as well as excellent appearance and breathtaking visual sfx’s, and you’ll get one more a must to have CD. Check out the interview with this Holland’s premiere death / black metal act in the previous issue.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

HALLSTATT
“Battles For The Ancestral Lands”
self-released
rating: 2,5 / 6
Oh my, where have they discovered GRAVELAND’s demo recordings? And, furthermore, what were they (actually, him – as HALLSTATT is a one-man band) guided by bringing ‘em forth the light in the shape of HALLSTATT’s MCD? Just kidding; although the above-said isn’t far from being truth, since all the four tracks off “Battles For The Ancestral Lands” sound almost identical to the early works by Rob Darken and Capricornus, obviously lacking that inimitable atmosphere and ambiences f.ex. “In The Glare Of Burning Churches” was impregnated with. Perhaps it’s due to the fact “Battles…” was executed May this year, and as we all know, hot summers are quite common thing in Spain (this is where HALLSTATT emerge from)? Anyway, this one didn’t impress me.
Email: the_paganthrone@hotmail.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

HELHEIM
“Terrorveldet”
“Blod & Ild”
Ars Metalli
(provided by More Hate Productions,
<more_hate@mail.ru>)
rating: 6 / 6
Welcome back! Norway’s HELHEIM finally contrived to return from the oblivion they’ve been at for the three years up to the third millennium, and now, signed to Germany’s Ars Metalli, these guys seem to know what they’re doing, moreover, now the music they deliver sounds even more bewitching than ever before. “Terrorveldet” is only a single-CD (packed in a superb digipack, though), however I feel like even if selling at 50$, it’s worth it. Worth ANY money, you see. Starting with “Helheim (Part I)”, instrumental tune, the one which probably sounds even _too_ unusual for all those who’re familiar with “Jormundgand” and “Av Norron Aett”, for it strikes as a weirdly industrialized dark ambient piece (!), later on this work reveals doubtlessly most intriguing track HELHEIM managed to compose so far, the “Jernskogen”. Excuse me, but it’s nearly impossible to make _any_ attempts to describe it in _any_ possible way. As to “Blod & Ild” (“Blood And Fire”? Hmm, haven’t they forgotten to add the word “death”?), the third full-length effort of theirs, it easily surpassed everything I was hoping to hear. A pure masterpiece of viking black metal – imaginative, distinguishable and inimitable. The most notable change regards the addition of Lars Skulstad, the one to fill the synth-man’s position. Hence, as you see, from now on HELHEIM incorporate keyboards, and don’t you even try to say that was a wrong move. ENSLAVED keep on releasing less and less comprehensible albums, consequently it seems like the viking metal throne has to be conquered by someone else. Guess who I imply under this “someone”? (Herr Stalhammar)

HOLLENTHON
“With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell”
Napalm Records
rating: 6 of 6
Martin Shirenc (PUNGENT STENCH) should be relatively well-known name to all you grindcore freaks. Well, but is it the same with those into black metal? Probably not, although must be. And the reason is, HOLLENTHON’s second offering, “With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell”, is simply a magnificent piece of undoubtedly innovative music which, in fact, can be hardly reckoned to any existing genre within the bounds of metal. Actually, is this metal? Yes. Is this BLACK metal? Both yes and no. “Symphonic-I-don’t-know-what”? Closer. “With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell” is even better than the former CD by HOLLENTHON, believe it or not. Compiling brilliant riffing, stupendous orchestration (sometimes it’s really hard to believe it has been executed with synths only… for it sounds unbelievably elaborated and LIVE!), diversified vocals – varying from semi-guttural voice to pseudo-blackish screams, accompanied by  male choirs and charming female singing – as well as fantastic sampling work. Those of Russia’s origin perhaps will be surprised discovering Russian choirs in “Woe To The Defeated” and a theme from Prokofiev in “Lords Of Bedlam”, but doesn’t it make the whole CD even more exciting? Highly recommended, especially to the ones who can’t live without THERION – listen to “With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell” and find out what should GENIUS stand for. (Herr Stalhammar)

IMPENDING DOOM
“Apocalypse III. – The Manifested Purgatorium”
Cudgel Agency
rating: 4 / 6
Third CD by Germany’s act I once loved and adored. This time, musically, it reminds me of the old-school death metal in the vein of POSSESSED, although one who once heard SAMAEL’s “Blood Ritual”, early SADISTIK EXEKUTION and DESTROYER 666 would easily draw some parallels as well. Anyway, it’s obviously IMPENDING DOOM in the first turn – bow to them, for they managed to keep the sound of their own. Dark, crusty and fast-paced cross between death and black metal, this is what you’ll face once purchasing “Apocalypse III”. Nevertheless, despite that I truly appreciate everything they have done and are doing, let me mark out few drawbacks, such as, for instance, too, let’s say “dry” production as well as simplified structures all the songs off “Apocalypse III” are based on. This one is a good piece, however I prefer their older works. (Herr Stalhammar)

INFESTDEAD
“Hellfuck / Killing Christ”
Hammerheart Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5 / 6
Sorry, this review is not available in English. If you speak Russian, check it out by clicking here.

IN THE NURSERY
“Engel”
ITN Corporation
rating: 5 / 6
I already had some good time listening to “Exhibit”, more of a compilation CD these guys came up with earlier this year, and here’s one more delightful work of theirs. I can’t say for sure how many albums have been released before “Engel” ariseth upon the Great Britain’s horizon, but I wish I could collect them all. IN THE NURSERY aren’t fond of delivering music easily described. Some would say it’s dark ambient, some it’s just a sympho-pop, or rather a “soundtrack” kind of thing. Well, both parties are right somehow. “Engel” is just something in between. Lustful and angelic, mesmerizing and arcane – the unity of opposites has been welcomed once again, although only a sensitive ear would be capable of figuring out it’s as that. Excellent and doubtlessly mature CD, a perfect example what synth music has to be all about. Music, – not an attempt to offer “something”. (Herr Stalhammar)

ISIS
“SGNL > 5”
Neurot Recordings
(provided by Luna Press & Publishing)
rating: 5 / 6
Weird. Weird just as everything put out by psychopaths at Neurot Recordings. Exciting. Exciting just as everything put out by psychopaths at Neurot Recordings. Never heard before. Never heard before, just as everything… well, you know the rest. “SGNL > 5” doubtlessly is a piece the one who considers himself an open-minded (or as depraved as I am), should pick up. Starting with a strange mixture of minimal electro and noise / industrial, later on this effort turns into a perfect cross between dark industrial and slow as hell, droning metal blended with haunting ambiences and low-pitched voice, sort of quasi-growling. Even though “SGNL > 5” is comprised of five lengthy tracks, it’s far from being an experience close to the notion of “boredom”. More likely, quite the contrary. And what if I’d say that track 16 (surprised? wondering why the hell am I talking about 16th track whilst the CD features only five? well, keep on wondering), “Celestial (Signal Fills The Void)” has been remixed by Justin Broadrick…?
Website (Neurot Rec.): http://www.neurotrecordings.com
Website (ISIS): http://www.hydrahead.com/isis
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

KALMAH
“Swamplord”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5,5 / 6
Honestly speaking, when I put this CD in my stereo, I experienced what some use to name “deja-vu”. Like, “what the hell, didn’t I mix up the CDs and played “Something Wild” by CHILDREN OF BODOM instead of “Swamplord”…?” But no, this is KALMAH – Finnish combo delivering similar kind of music, but with one and only difference: “Swamplord” sounds thousand times more impressive and intriguing than f.ex. “Follow The Reaper”. No classical influences here, though… but still, these guys have more chances to bewitch me each single time when I give a listen to “Swamplord” than CHILDREN OF BOREDOM. Unlike the latter bastards, these chaps haven’t lost a bit amateurish but simultaneously enrapturing way of doing things. And by the way, they’re no less great than CHILDREN OF BODOM in terms of performance’s technique. All songs off “Swamplord” keep the listener entangled in a fascinating web of certain audial orgasm. “Evil In You”, “Withering Away”, “Alteration”… These ones blew my head off, man! Brilliant mixture of black and death metal, leaving 99% of worthless IN FLAMES and DARK TRANQUILLITY copycats far behind… Don’t know what about you, but I choose KALMAH. However; I fear that this one will be the last one. I mean, it strikes as these Finns sooner or later will follow way of CHILDREN OF BODOM, consequently a followup to “Swamplord” would be as disgusting and insincere piece as “Follow The Reaper” is…
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

KATAKLYSM
“The Prophecy (Stigmata Of The Immaculate)”
Nuclear Blast Records
rating: -
I don’t even want to give this one a mark. Neither highest, nor a lowest one. This is simply not “my” KATAKLYSM. Yes, the sound execution is brilliant, yes, musically it’s still brutal as fuck – but KATAKLYSM won’t ever be the same without Sylvain Houde. Maurizio Lacono (who seems to be the master of the game here) COULD NOT manage to sing AS inimitably, COULD NOT manage to compose AS unique and fascinating lyrical canvas (in fact, the lyrics “The Prophecy” comes with, suck badly), COULD NOT manage to keep KATAKLYSM Canada’s finest death / black metal act. And what are these hardcore elements doing here, let me dare to ask?! (Herr Stalhammar)

KHANATE
“Khanate”
Southern Lord Recordings
rating: 5,5 / 6
Well, I’d say this one is more black than… (wrong! not death but) doom metal if anyone out there still cares for stylistic definitions. I do care, if you wish to know. Anyway, these five tracks (“Pieces Of Quiet”, “Skin Coat”, “Torching Koroviev”, “Under Rotting Sky” and “No Joy”) are an experience not easily forgotten. If ESOTERIC were heading towards more urban, post-modern era in terms of sound, perhaps they would come up with something like this. And now you know what the hell to expect, don’t you? Exactly; torturously slow, mangling dark metal featuring absolutely depraved vokills (hmm, at least Varg’s voice definitely is way more mild and melodic in comparison with THIS) and the-end-of-the-world-alike ambiences… if you ever spitted blood, expectorated your own lungs, then you should know what inexperienced listener would do once giving “Khanate” a listen. (Herr Stalhammar)

KIBOSH SYBIL KISMET
“Sulphurous Domain”
Muzik Box Productions
rating: 5 / 6
This is one of the few items I’ve ever got from Singapore, and certainly the best one. Actually, I gave a listen to “Sulphurous Domain” almost a year ago, when Zirkelloch (the mastermind) submitted me an advance copy. Well, now it’s been finally released as a full-length album by Malaysia’s Muzik Box Productions – unfortunately in the shape of MC only. A pity, indeed, but who cares if the music rules supreme? “Sulphurous Domain” comes with four tracks lasting for a bit less than 40 minutes, although I feel like I definitely must admit that none of them bears a resemblance of boredom and whatever alike. KIBOSH SIBYL KISMET deliver some refreshing, enigmatic and deeply atmospheric yet skillfully performed and well-crafted dark / black metal with few doomy elements and doubtless diversity. Complicated though simple, it’s all based on contradictions, thus appearing as pretty controversial piece of art, even though I wouldn’t say it has any trace of avantgarde approach to music… All in all, “Sulphurous Domain” is just excellent, therefore I’d highly recommend you to check it out. Especially taking into account that the cassette comes with a brilliant layout and slightly sophisticated, exciting lyrical canvas (Zirkelloch’s English isn’t perfect, though).
Email (Muzik Box): muzikbox@hotmail.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

KILLENSTEIN
“Wrath Of Killenstein”
Inner Sanctum Records
rating: 4 / 6
Horror metal strikes again. No, this is not NOTRE DAME. Not this time. KILLENSTEIN come(s) from United States and propose(s) less imaginative, although pretty intriguing music. Actually, the only parallel which may be possibly drawn between these acts, is the utter clichesque and no less stupid  way of entitling the songs of theirs (“Fuchkinstein”, “Born Of Evil”… yuck!). When it comes to other aspects, there’s no real similarity to be discovered. Rather simplified however enrapturing arrangements which could perfectly serve as a soundtrack for a B-class horror movie (Hammer Films was what popped in my mind at once), mixed with intelligent pieces of dark metal and blackish voice. Well, all in all, “Wrath Of Killenstein” is worthy effort, deserving a reserved place in your CD collection, but I fear that most of black metal freaks out there won’t get into it. More likely, they’d just consider it a piece of crap. I don’t and I wouldn’t, though. Recommended.
Email: mk@killenstein.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

KING DIAMOND and BLACK ROSE
“20 Years Ago – A Night Of Rehearsal”
Metal Blade Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: -
Hmm, sort of “collector’s item”, huh? Let me spend some time and clear the things up. This is a live recording made on 30th of September 1980 a.t.b.b., made by the band whose singer King Diamond appeared back then. Just a few years before starting MERCYFUL FATE, you see. Well, “A Night Of Rehearsal” doubtlessly appears as an interesting listening experience. No, it’s not black metal or anything like that. Despite the fact that King was also already using his inimitable makeup being a frontman for the BLACK ROSE, the music is better characterized as hard rock heavily influenced by DEEP PURPLE. And if they had contrived to bring forth the light a studio recording, they’d definitely kick the shit out of some asses. At least, it was great for the year of ’80. And just by the way; if you think the sound sucks, you’re twice as wrong. “The actual recording quality is quite amazing, when you take into consideration that it was done LIVE onto a 2-track reel to reel take recorder, using 8 microphones, which went through the band’s 8-channel mixer and then straight to tape”. Well, the booklet doesn’t lie. BLACK ROSE’s regular rehearsal surprisingly sounds thousand times more convincing than most of nowadays black metal bands’ studio recordings.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

KINGDOM
“Bloodtide”
self-released
rating: 4,5 / 6
Ireland… How I wish to have at least one month free of work - this disgusting daily routine - and walk the paths untrodden… find out what secrets have been hidden beneath this green and pitifully yet unreachable island… Unfortunately, while now giving a listen to works by various acts of Irish origin is the only way to get myself acquainted with it. And to start with, KINGDOM is _different_. I mean, neither musically nor lyrically “Bloodtide” doesn’t have anything to do with PRIMORDIAL, ARCANE ART, GEASA, WAYLANDER, CRUACHAN and others of that ilk, therefore don’t you even try to discover any folkish elements the aforementioned bands’ efforts are filled with, here. This MCD consists of three quite lengthy tracks, each with it’s own easily recognizable personality. Actually, speaking of similarities, I’d name DISSECTION (circa “The Somberlain”), whilst the last track off “Bloodtide” (“Revelation 666”) surprisingly sounds like formerly unreleased tune by Sweden’s BEWITCHED. Generally speaking, this quintet delivers mostly fast-paced yet still melodic black metal with no keyboards, or anything else besides guitars, drums and bass, incorporated. This work appears as highly enjoyable one in terms of composition, and those leads fit the whole thing perfectly, however, despite that I liked “Bloodtide”, I can’t give it a mark higher than ‘4,5’ out of ‘6’ due to the fact it’s sadly unmemorable; and, besides, it doesn’t strike as anything ‘special’. Good start, but I expect more from these guys…
Email: kingdom666@hotmail.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

KULT OV AZAZEL / KRIEG
“Of Evil And Hatred” / “Sono II Schemo”
Genocide Music
rating: KULT OV AZAZEL – 3,5 / 6
        KRIEG – 4 / 6
5 tunes by one of US black metal leading stars’ KULT OV AZAZEL + 6 songs by well-known weirdos a.k.a. KRIEG… Well, definitely a tough ride. Unfortunately, KULT OV AZAZEL doesn’t impress me at all this time, at least if we’d compare “Of Evil And Hatred” to their latest and official debut full-length CD, “Triumph Of Fire”. Well, perhaps due to the reason these tracks have been put on tape a long before “Triumph Of Fire” was conceived? Fast-paced, true-to-the-core American black metal in the vein of BLOODSTORM and JUDAS ISCARIOT, this is what it is. As to KRIEG… Ah, do you really need any comments? Utterly insane black metal disaster, this time A BIT more comprehensible thus being more hellishly attractive. Nice split, however I expected more, especially when it comes to KULT OV AZAZEL. (Herr Stalhammar)

LEGION
“Conqueror”
Dark Horizon Records
rating: 5 / 6
Finally has come the day when a package from US’ Dark Horizon Records reached my hands. In fact, I was somewhat surprised finding out that “Conqueror” was put on tape back in 1997 (!) – does anyone of you have an idea of why it took so long to bring it forth the light in the shape of CD? That’s quite unsurprising anyway, since LEGION is totally underground act, and things like that often happen to the bands from the “under”. Despite the clichesque moniker (… already seventh act named “Legion”, as far as I recall) and ugly appearance, music-wise “Conqueror” proposes pretty intriguing stuff. Not much words needed in order to describe it, actually. LEGION assaults the listener with surprisingly variable, brutal death metal of unholy origin. One of the tracks off this CD lasts for almost 10 minutes and, surprise!, doesn’t get boring – and I believe, it tells a lot of “Conqueror’s” value. If there’s anyone into DEICIDE, SINISTER and VITAL REMAINS left, this piece of aluminum should be yours. (Herr Stalhammar)

LUCIFUGUM
“Invade”
War Is Imminent Productions
rating: 4,5 / 6
Now, this is better. At least, in comparison to DARK FAITH. Spanish LUCIFUGUM (yes, fortunately not these pathetic wannabes from Ukraine) deliver quite intriguing stuff in the shape of ripping black metal with few unorthodox passages here and there (check out the third track, for instance). Blended with unrelenting yet predictable sense of all-devouring hatred, making you feel like you’re already in hell, “Invade” strikes as pretty interesting piece, worthy enough to be listened to. Furthermore, let me admit that these chaps appear as one of the most notable newcomers when it comes to South-European black metal scene. (Herr Stalhammar)

LUCIFUGUM
“Instinct Prevelance”
Dark Horizon Records
rating: 5 / 6
To clear the things up: a) I have no respect for Ukrainians with exception for the few; moreover, I despise most of these arrogant bastards, b) I liked the early works by LUCIFUGUM, however I can’t stand listening to the latest ones, c) I’m definitely NOT the one to accept their stance and pathetic attitude. But nevertheless, this CD undoubtedly deserves the mark I’ve given it. It looks like “Instinct Prevelance” is comprised of two demo efforts by Faunus and co., “Path Of Wolf” and “Fire Of Hatred For Sky” ((un)surprisingly all the songs off the latter are sung in Russian) – and both appear as pure black metal tremendous in it’s rawness. Literally breathing with misanthropy, you see. Most probably, “Instinct Prevelance” (why not “prevalence”?) is one of the few true-to-the-core although still highly imaginative black metal works worth your attention, apart from all the CDs by DARKTHRONE-wannabes released in enormous quantities nowadays. Highly recommended. (Herr Stalhammar)

MALKUTH
“The Dance Of The Satan’s Bitch”
Demise Records
rating: 1 / 6
One more utterly insincere, generic and loathsome attempt to deliver top-notch “occult sympho-black metal” or something like that. WORTHLESS. (Herr Stalhammar)

MELECHESH
“Djinn”
Osmose Productions
rating: 6 / 6
The long wait is over, and FINALLY we behold the uprising of no less than outstanding band. Four years have passed since Ashmedi and Moloch made their debut with “Al’Intisar… As Jerusalem Burns” (brought forth the light by Breath Of Night Records, let’s say “label” led by Akhenaten well-known for his utter worthlessness), and actually I’ve almost lost any hope of giving a listen to the second offering of theirs. Me fool. Supreme art has no boundaries for it is doubtlessly immortal. Osmose Productions have been releasing mostly average CDs by mediocre bands lately, however it doesn’t concern MELECHESH and “Djinn”. “Mesopotamian black metal”? YES. You can always dispute the definition, but the fact is: there’s no other band delivering similar kind of music. This work is solely based on Assyrian heritage thus obviously spiced with it’s undying spirit, which has been transformed into weird, innovative and incredibly fascinating music. Unique drumming (courtesy of Proscriptor McGovern / ABSU) and no less unique atmosphere forced on “Djinn” make this CD one of a kind. I’ve never heard anything like that before, and something tells me, I never will. Black as hell itself, yet anxiously intelligent, this one is OUTSTANDING. (Herr Stalhammar)

MELECHESH
“As Jerusalem Burns…Al’Intisar”
War Is Imminent
rating: -
I’ve been doubtlessly excited once I heard War Is Imminent’s going to re-release the very first work by MELECHESH, and believe me, there were enough reasons to await this one impatiently. “As Jerusalem Burns…” knocked me down back in 1996, when it’s just been released for the first time by US’ Breath Of Night Records, being incredibly different to what was flooding the market back those days. Yes, black metal, but what a black metal! Staggeringly mesmerizing, with a unique ability to mix up fast-paced disaster with Middle East’s heritage, it couldn’t be left unnoticed. But it was. We had to wait for five long years before MELECHESH have finally managed to get a deal they deserved, and… well, I guess you already got yourselves acquainted with the review above. “Djinn” is obviously way better than this one, however “As Jerusalem Burns…” still isn’t something to pass on. If such tracks as f.ex. “Planetary Rites” won’t be reckoned to black metal classics sooner or later, this must be the greatest injustice. But ok, back to the CD. Of course, it comes with some extra goodies, such as two bonus tracks and a live video of “Hymn To Gibil”. If you’d like to hear something really-really different and in the same time thousand times more intriguing than all of this crap released nowadays, “As Jerusalem Burns…” must be yours. (Herr Stalhammar)

MORGUL
“Sketch Of Supposed Murderer”
Century Media
rating: -
Have all the Norwegians gone mad or what?! Somebody out there, please explain me why 99% of once honorable and respected bands out from the North turned their backs on black metal, embarking on a path of pseudo-innovative  hell-knows-what crap instead? Some are good of course, such as MAYHEM, THE KOVENANT and MALIGNANT ETERNAL for example, but why, WHY did BEYOND DAWN, CREST OF DARKNESS, SATYRICON, TROLL, ULVER and MORGUL follow the same way?! In fact, it’s incredibly hard to describe what “Sketch Of Supposed Murderer” is all about, but in short: it’s definitely not my taste. Rather comprehensible and surprisingly imaginative mixture of industrial, goth and (a bit) black metal, fortunately _not_ eclectic – perhaps that’s the best way to let you figure out what is nowadays’ MORGUL. This (already fourth) CD conceived and brought forth the light by Jack D.Ripper alone hides few jewels such as tremendous “Machine” and brilliant interpretation of “She” by KISS, however in the whole it’s nothing but a waste of time. Those of unsound mind, and those craving for experiments with mind’s eye, probably will love this one… but be it good or bad, my perception slightly differs from theirs. (Herr Stalhammar)

MY DARK SIN
“Cogitationes”
Pulsar Light Records
rating: 4 / 6
I feel somewhat helpless reviewing this kind of CDs. CDs which are synonymous for mediocrity. This young Italian combo delivers rather enjoyable blend of atmospheric black metal, and in fact I wouldn’t dare to say that they suck or whatever. No, they don’t. Even in spite of incorporating drummachine (which has been pretty well programmed, by the way), MY DARK SIN manage to fascinate the listener… but only for a while. While I was giving this CD a listen, I thought it was a stunning piece… and, honestly speaking, I still think it is. The problem is, “Cogitationes” strikes as the sort of work which is definitely far from being memorable and catchy – just (yet another) good effort which doesn’t cross the bounds of typical atmospheric BM. If this genre is new to you, check this out. However, in case with people experienced as me, better avoid it. If someone’s wondering why did it get a good mark (and I rate the CD / LP / demo / whatthefuckelse with ‘4’ out of ‘6’ only when it strikes as a good one), the answer is more than simple: “Cogitationes” lacks any remarkable drawbacks (although, if one had an aim to find ‘em, he would without any doubts succeed), therefore the rating regards mostly high level of musicianship and sound execution. NOT the music itself, you see. Perhaps, there’re just too many bands of the same kind nowadays…
Email: pulsarlight@pulsarlight.net
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

MYSTIC CIRCLE
“The Great Beast”
Massacre Records
(provided by Art Music Group)
rating: 4,5 / 6
Sorry, this review is not available in English. If you speak Russian, check it out by clicking here.

MYSTIFIER
“The Fourth Evil Calling From The Abyss (Tormenting The Holy Trinity)”
Eldritch Music
rating: -
Congratulations. MYSTIFIER come back from the oblivion they seemingly have been in, and it strikes as they’re stronger than ever, even though Beelzebubth and co. got rid of that opera singer. At least, there’re no “clean” vocals when it comes to their latest efforts… and unfortunately, there’re only two of them here. No need to say, inimitable. Just listen to those enrapturing vocals or bass lines… Besides “Deathroning Nazarenus” (this CD also features it’s semi-live video) and “Woman Of A Thousand Men’s Dream”, “The Fourth Evil Calling From The Abyss” is comprised of all the songs off “Demystifying The Mystified Ones…” MCD (the one which already became sort of a collector’s item, even though it’s been released only two years ago), “Tormenting The Holy Trinity” demo ’89 (!), as well as a couple of covers, “Leather And Metal” by SARCOFAFO and “Satanic Lust” by POISON (I guess I don’t have to explain  _what_ POISON I’m talking about). Osmose Productions (who brought forth the light two MYSTIFIER’s full-length CDs) definitely lost one of the few unique bands around. Too bad for them. Staying away from any all the possible trends, these Brazilian chaps keep on creating doubtlessly outstanding music, and it seems like they simply don’t care if they’re signed to major label or not. Needless to say, I appreciate such an attitude.
Eldritch Music Europe: c/o Dzianis Puhach, P.O. Box 74, 220124, Minsk, Republic of Belarus. Email: dzianis@eldritch-music.com
Eldritch Music Vinland: c/o Tsimafei Koval, 815 Gravesend Neck Rd. Apt. #3A
Brooklin, NY, 11223, USA. Mobile phone: ++9177218286. Email: tsimafei@eldritch-music.com
Website: www.eldritch-music.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

NARSAMUM
“Dream Of Death”
Muzik Box Productions
rating: 4 / 6
Too much Asia this issue, don’t you think? Especially when it comes to black metal department… MAJESTIC EAST, DEATHGUY, EFFLUVIUM, KIBOSH SYBIL KISMET, MORBIFIK… and now NARSAMUM. Well, unfortunately I can’t say this one impressed me the way “Sulphurous Domain” by KIBOSH SYBIL KISMET did, although it’s not bad. Intriguing but unmemorable, precisely performed and executed but still of no real interest to me. Technical death / black metal is what we have here this time, and despite that I didn’t get high on “Dream Of Death”, I nevertheless must admit that this piece is all pro-done and well crafted. Actually, I don’t know what’s wrong with me – perhaps I’m just too sober to review anything?
Email (Muzik Box): muzikbox@hotmail.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

NIGHT IN GALES
“Necrodynamic”
Massacre Records
(provided by Art Music Group)
rating: 3 / 6
Sorry, this review is not available in English. If you speak Russian, check it out by clicking here.

NOKTURNAL MORTUM
“Lunar Poetry”
The End Records
rating: -
And once again rather minimalistic design, as always with Ukraine’s public enemy #1, NOKTURNAL MORTUM. And once again incredibly stunning piece of black metal, although apart from the latest works of theirs (“To The Gates Of Blasphemous Fire” and “NeChrist”), hauntingly melodic, with a lesser amount of folkish elements. Actually, this CD appears as a re-issue of NOKTURNAL MORTUM’s very first effort, released back in 1996 in the shape of MC by Russia’s Metal Agen Records. Needless to say, I was completely knocked down by “Lunar Poetry’s” utter tremendousness when I heard this stuff for the first time… and it was long time ago. However it still enraptures me, even though Varggoth managed to spit forth the light no less than three CDs after “Lunar Poetry” has been unleashed. Incredibly diverse when it comes to everything, be it vocals or guitar treatments, stunning arrangements and inimitable atmosphere… all this makes me feel pity for I believe we won’t have chance to hear anything like that anymore, since NOKTURNAL MORTUM endured a huge metamorphosis in terms of approach to music (and ideological stance, as well). Don’t get me wrong, I consider “NeChrist” highly enjoyable effort… but something makes me think that “Lunar Poetry” still stays and unfortunately will stay the only doubtless highlight in this act’s whole existence. (Herr Stalhammar)

ORK
“Blessed By Evil”
Folter Records
rating: 6 / 6
“Ork”? “Blessed By Evil”? Cliche? Probably yes. And probably not. Actually, I don’t give a damn about it. Wanna know why? Everything’s utmost simple. “Blessed By Evil” is the best – yes, the BEST – black metal piece reviewed this issue. It just easily beats all of the works done within the bounds of the same genre I’ve given (or even perhaps, will give?) a listen past four months. Some would confuse it with yet another attempt to spit forth the light straightforward, “true and evil at 666%” CD, which is in fact nothing but regular DARKTHRONE rip-off. Woe to you, les miserables! I doubt if this Bulgarian (!) combo was aiming to sound like anybody else. More likely, filling the niche of their own was the principal goal – and these earthlings succeeded in this venture. “Blessed By Evil” has everything to please every black metaller out there, being straightforward (yes!), black as hell itself (yes!), distinguishable (surprise, isn’t it?) and, what’s most important, incredibly well crafted and masterly performed. ORK possess what most of contemporary black metal acts successfully lost chasing the commerce and assuming that by adding more and more incomprehensibility into the music of theirs they’d gain respect and acknowledgement. Woe to them – and woe to you if you haven’t still realized that ORK already is the next big thing… in the underground. (Herr Stalhammar)

PARAGON OF BEAUTY
“Comfort Me, Infinity”
Prophecy Productions
rating: 5,5 / 6
Seems like PARAGON OF BEAUTY embarked on the same path as AUTUMNBLAZE did lately, huh? No surprise, since both acts are being led by the same individual (Eldron and Monesol are captured in one body, for those who do not know). As to what path exactly… Well, serene and deeply atmospheric dark metal, throughout soaked with the bitterness, seldom interrupted with blackish screams and a bit more fast-paced passages. Actually, as PARAGON OF BEAUTY never really were a part of black metal movement, I believe there’s no sense in accusing ‘em of following the wrong way. As a matter of fact, it’s the path of their own. Less or more elaborated, more or less discovered. Unique ambiences supplemented with doubtlessly unique and tremendous “clean” male voice as well as thought-provoking poetry already make this CD a must to have… and it definitely deserves a highest mark… if the drum tracks weren’t so goddamn pathetic. I’d prefer a drummachine, you see. Nevertheless, this is milestone. And simultaneously, sensitive, tremendous effort. Give a listen to “Yonder Thy Primrose Path, My Shuddered Face”, “A Drowning Day” or “I Wished You Wouldn’t Fall Silent”, and you’ll see. A dream transformed into music. (Herr Stalhammar)

PENITENT
“Songs Of Despair”
Ars Metalli
rating: -
Oh no! I wish there were no more stresses, no more shocking affairs – but isn’t it an utopia? A dream for the dreamer? Obviously, yes. PENITENT always was amongst my faves (at least when it comes to the genre of dark ambient), so were all the works by Karsten, be it neo-classical “The Beauty Of Pain” or Baroque “As Life Fades Away”, gothic-spiced “Roses By Chaos Spawned” or flattering “Maestro Beethoven”… And now we have “Songs Of Despair”. I don’t know if inviting Bernt Sunde was a good idea or not – the only thing I know, PENITENT doesn’t sound like it sounded before anymore. This CD delivers nearly genius and simultaneously almost incomprehensible mixture of genres we always considered incompatible. Dark ambient, gothic, black, doom and death metal, industrial… Eclectic? Definitely. Intriguing? Definitely. A must to have? To be honest, I don’t know. This is it. I DO NOT KNOW. Why no mark? Well, the reason is utmost simple: even though I’ve listened to this work for more than 10 times, I still can’t figure out if we should consider it a progress… or regress. A piece of art… or a failure. (Herr Stalhammar)

PENITENT
“Reflections Of Past Memories”
Counter Attack
rating: -
““Reflections Of Past Memories” is a collection of instrumental versions of older PENITENT songs. This album should not be considered as a new album, rather a summarizing of PENITENT`s PAST!” Exactly like that. Surprisingly, this CD has been unleashed by small Bulgarian label (who have also got the world acquainted with NIGHTSKY BEQUEST, TANGRYCAN and ZARATUSTRA), while I expected that “Reflections…” would be brought forth the light by either Draenor Productions or Memento Mori / Dark Vinyl. Nevertheless, huge thank you goes out to Andre @ Counter Attack for compiling and releasing this effort. “Reflections…” is comprised of tracks taken off (mostly) “Beauty Of Pain”, doubtlessly PENITENT’s most enigmatic CD, as well as “As Life Fades Away” (where Karsten nearly got rid of neo-classical music, replacing it with Baroque heritage) + three enigmatic remixes done by OLD MONKS’ SAGA, FRAGMENTS and THE FEVER EXPERIENCE. Doesn’t matter if you already have all the works by PENITENT, or you aren’t acquainted with this name at all, PICK IT UP! All the lovers of artistically conceived dark ambient / neo-classical are highly encouraged NOT to pass on “Reflections…” as well.
Email: counterattack@gmx.net
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

RAKOTH
“Jabberworks”
code666
rating: 1 / 6
Well, this is definitely better than nothing. Worse than something, though. I still can’t believe that a band I once considered one of the most talented acts of Russian origin, came up with such a pathetic attempt. Perhaps, I was wrong all the time: I mean, RAKOTH was considered original only because no one in Russian was into this “fantasy metal” thing back then; moreover, their so-called “originality” sprang up from a cute plagiarism or at least borrowings. Time reveals every single thing, though, and “Jabberworks” obviously signified what a musical failure RAKOTH actually is. This CD is comprised of mostly old tracks taken off “Superstatic Equilibrium” demo, re-conceived and re-recorded and that’s even more bitter pill, for these tunes were no less than brilliant originally… and now, what have they done to “Insurgent One”, to “Return Of The Nameless”…? “Der Jammerwoch”, an all-new track, appears as the only one here worth listening, although I doubt if there’s any need in purchasing a certain CD featuring one and only decent tune. (Herr Stalhammar)

RAM-ZET
“Pure Therapy”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 3 / 6
THE KOVENANT? Oh no. In fact, “Pure Therapy” (therapy for the mentally retarded, perhaps?) may be easily reckoned to the same genre Lex Icon and co. are reckoned to, i.e. “post-black metal”, nevertheless let me admit that these bands don’t really have much in common. RAM-ZET offer twice as variable work, and thrice as complicated. Based on absolutely of-unsound-mind-structures, first it surprisingly strikes as more impressive piece than “Animatronic”… although you’ll have to give at least a couple of listens in order to find it’s far from you consider impressive. Vocals seemingly intended to cause an earache (RAM-ZET’s most weak point, by the way), insane tempo changes and depravedly programmed drum tracks (what THE HELL is the drummer doing here??), all spiced with charming female voice, violin and pseudo-dark ambient passages… Uh… Touch experience, no doubts. Unfortunately, “Pure Therapy” lacks complexity and sounds too sterile (even guitars seem to go out of PC), and this is why I still prefer “Animatronic”. Hope that a second work by these Norwegian weirdos will be more carefully structured. Concluding this review: “welcome, but think twice” to the open-minded, “temporarily closed” for all the others.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ROOT
“Hell Symphony” / “Kargeras”
Redblack Productions
rating: -
Lately we’ve witnessed the re-release of “Zjeveni” and “The Temple In The Underground”, the first and the third CDs by Czech’s living legend, ROOT… and here come the second and the fourth ones in the shape of double-CD, obviously packaged in a different way, as well as with a couple of bonus tracks added. As a matter of fact, I’ve given a listen to “Hell Symphony” almost five years ago when it has been released via England’s #1 rip-offs Cacophonous Records, and needless to say enjoyed it a lot. However, I feel like I have to tell you few words regarding this work anyway, in case you’re unfamiliar with it. “Hell Symphony” is comprised of twelve tracks, with nine of them named after the Prince of Hell personifications’ multitude taken from the greatest variety of mythological cycles; such as “Beelzebub”, “Belial”, “Lucifer”, “Abaddon”, “Asmodeus”, “Leviathan”, “Astaroth”, “Loki”… and yes, “Satan”. All the lyrics have been composed by Big Boss, with an exception for “The Prayer” by C.Baudelaire. Musically, it sounds the way HELLHAMMER would sound if they formed in late eighties, although ROOT’s own, inimitable sound can’t be mistaken with anyone else. As to “Kargeras”, it was obviously the turning point, thus evolving the band’s sound into what later became “The Book”. Melancholic and somewhat even dreamy, featuring Big Boss’ unique baritone and almost lacking anything that could be considered a trace of BM. More likely, romantic blend of what we use to define as “dark metal”. All in all, bow to Redblack Productions for they made this venture possible. Both “Hell Symphony” and “Kargeras” doubtlessly deserve to be listened to and adored. (Herr Stalhammar)

SACRED SIN
“Translucid Dream Mirror”
Demolition Records
rating: 4,5 / 6
I have no idea of why Demolition Records claim this one to be the album Portugal’s SACRED SIN made their debut with, and the reason is, who else could release “Eye M God” CD back in 1995, with the singer of the same name, under the banner of SACRED SIN. But let us excuse the label, and talk about this CD for a while. In fact, “Translucid Dream Mirror” appears as a logical continuation of what this combo has been doing (or at least, attempted to do) six years ago. The same unbelievably technical (but still _very_ far from being well performed) death metal with plenty of blackish elements and anxious, dismal atmosphere forced. Speaking plainer, Italy’s SADIST could sound like SACRED SIN do, if they didn’t go the wrong way… Definitely a worthy CD to celebrate the comeback. And by the way; it could be much better if you guys would have kicked out drummer and axe-man. (Herr Stalhammar)

SALACIOUS GODS
“Askengris”
Coldblood Industries
rating: 5 / 6
Does anybody out there remember LIAR OF GOLGOTHA? Nonono, they’re (seemingly) still alive, and these words weren’t meant to be neither necrology nor anything like “these guys have gone a wrong direction, however fortunately we have a worthy substitute”. No. SALACIOUS GODS also come from Netherlands and sound pretty similar to those I’ve mentioned above, but that’s all. Despite that “Askengris” doesn’t appear as innovative effort or whatsoever, I’m still getting high whilst this CD spins in my stereo. Fast-paced yet variable, intelligent and bewitching atmospheric black metal is what we have to deal with this time. Not really “atmospheric” but, more likely, “sympho-black”. But let us cast away all the possible stylistic definitions, ok? SALACIOUS GODS strike as one of the best Dutch combos amongst the neophytes, and this CD is a perfect proof to these words. Highly recommended.
Website: http://www.bart.nl/~wester/coldblood.html
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

SATHANAS
“Thy Dark Heavens”
Blackmetal.com
rating: 5,5 of 6
Formerly this CD had to be released via Singapore’s Pulverised Records, however, due to the label’s collapse, SATHANAS seemed to stay unsigned. And that’s definitely something they DO NOT deserve. I doubt if Blackmetal.com will be able to handle the sort of promotional campaign which could spread the name of SATHANAS all across this filthy globe… too bad, because “Thy Dark Heavens” isn’t the CD which you can pass on. This one appears as much more intriguing and impressive in comparison to “Armies Of Charon”, the album they made their debut with, surprisingly starting with “Winged Black Spirit”, heavily reminiscent of early works by SATYRICON and DARKTHRONE (!) (circa “Under A Funeral Moon”), although being way above in terms of musicianship and production. Nevertheless, later on it all transforms into a fascinating mixture of thrashy black metal and typical unholy DM of US origin in the vein of IMMOLATION. I wouldn’t say “Thy Dark Heavens” is a controversial effort, no. It’s just perfect to please any death and / or black metal freak, in the same time not being anything outstanding. Still a must to have CD, though.
Email: sathanas@adelphia.net
P.S. Oops, seems like I’ve made a mistake. “Thy Dark Heavens” was not ever to be released by Pulverised. That was SATHANAS’ new MCD coming out soon on Drakkar Records. Thank you, Paul, for clearing the things up.
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

SCEPTIC
“Pathetic Being”
Last Episode Productions
rating: 3 / 6
Had anyone of you ever heard of NOCTURNUS? Yeah, that legendary US combo, brought back to life lately. If the answer is “yes”, I feel no need to review the CD I’m currently listening to. Oh my, they even covered “Arctic Crypt” (a song off NOCTURNUS’ “Thresholds” CD)! But ok, for those who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, here comes an explanation: SCEPTIC is a relatively young Polish combo, being heavily inspired by DEATH, NOCTURNUS and Swedish school. So what do we have on the outcome? Rather technical (a special bonus for the bass lines) death metal with few black metal reminiscences and splendid producership (although I don’t like the way “Pathetic Being” was executed at all. Don’t ask me why). Pretty unoriginal and obviously unmemorable. This is more “music for the musicians” kind of stuff, y’know. I prefer atmosphere over technique, if you get what I mean. This is just not my case. (Herr Stalhammar)

SEVERNIE VRATA
“Na Vojnu!”
Fono Records
rating: 1 / 6
What a pathetic attempt! Russia’s Fono Records succeeded in licensing numerous quantity of worthy CDs brought forth the light by Hammerheart, Metal Blade and Spinefarm Records, however they DID NOT succeed in releasing at least one single CD by the band of Russian origin which could please my ears. I thought NOMANS LAND was horrible. I thought SEVERNIE VRATA’s former work (“Otchizna” MCD) was horrible – but simultaneously distinctive. I cherished hope that the full-length album of theirs will finally appear as a worthy one… All in vain. “Pathetic” is the word. Even if “Na Vojnu!” comes up with few rather enjoyable tunes (“Chernorod”, “Runa Rech’ ” and “Trizna”), even if it was mixed and mastered by Anssi Kippo himself (the one who previously worked with IMPALED NAZARENE and CHILDREN OF BODOM), this CD fails miserably. Why? Firstly, it UTTERLY lacks sincerity. Secondly: bad musicianship and singer with a no less than fucking HORRIBLE voice (making me to recall sadly known punks, SEKTOR GAZA). Thirdly… well, just look at the band photo. Doesn’t it make you laugh? It made _me_ laugh anyway… HYSTERICALLY laugh. A circus of clowns, goddamn it. Music is not for you, morons. And what’s even more important, don’t fucking mess with Russian history and mythological cycle! You DO NOT have anything to do with pagan revival, making an excellent parody of it instead! Probably it’s the worst CD I have ever heard throughout all my life… And definitely the one which makes me disdain all these neo-heathens more than ever before. GET LOST. (Herr Stalhammar)

SILENCER
“Death – Pierce Me”
Prophecy Productions
rating: 6 / 6
“SILENCER supports your death”; hey, what a slogan! Utterly black, antagonistic to everything we consider cheerful, appearance. “Sterile Nails And Thunderbowels”, “The Slow Kill In The Cold”… well, these are a couple of song titles. And now, do you think it’s anything comparable to what we usually expect to hear from a band signed to Prophecy Productions? No! Actually, I haven’t heard anything like this for a long-long time… probably, since I first got myself acquainted with “HEart Of The Ages” by IN THE WOODS… However, whilst IN THE WOODS… were all about natural resonance, SILENCER are, no doubts, on the contrary. “Death – Pierce Me” is a synonym for obscurantism, enemy of all life… In short, this is absolutely misanthropic black metal, fascinating enough to reach what this duo is striving for. “We Are Ready To Leave This Place”? Well, so will you once this CD is yours. Outstanding. (Herr Stalhammar)

SILENTIUM
“Altum”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 5,5 / 6
Heavenly tremendous sort of appearance and thought-provoking lyrical canvas, perhaps the most impressive amongst the ones I’ve got myself acquainted with lately, and relatively unknown moniker, at least relatively unknown to my ears. And then, ah!, I find out that “Altum” doesn’t appear as the CD this band made it’s debut with. What a shame. I mean, I hate myself for ignoring the first work of theirs (supposedly released via Spinefarm as well). But off to music. Firstly I confused “Altum” with an ethereal sort of gothic / dark wave stuff slightly blended with doomy touch and utter lack of what we has been always known as “Finnish trademark”, i.e. no HIM copycats this time. And no, suicidal matters do not appear as the source of inspiration this time. And no, this is not really a doom / gothic / dark wave / whatthehellelse. More likely, an unusual mixture of aforementioned genres with black metal (!) and neo-classical passages. I guess, if one would make a melting pot comprised of the latest works by DECORYAH, SILENT STREAM OF GODLESS ELEGY, DARK TRANQUILLITY and DARZAMAT, it would definitely go by the name of “Silentium”. And don’t blame ‘em for being original.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

SIMONIA
“In Embrace Of Pain”
CDM Records
rating: -
Finally, “In Embrace Of Pain” has been re-issued in the shape of official MC release! Three years were worth the wait, since this one appears as one of the best efforts put out by the band of Russian origin lately. Especially taking into account the fact they emerge from the city of St.Petersburg which is well-known for it’s lack of worthy black metal acts. But ok, since it’s only a re-release, let me simply quote my own review on this work when it was only a demo work: “Nimrod (rhythm guitar, vocals and keyboards) warned me this tape comes with a pretty weak sound and horrible drumming, however I must admit my expectations were much worse in comparison to what I’ve finally gave a listen to. SIMONIA is one of the few worthy black metal acts in St. Petersburg, furthermore – most possibly the best one. Despite the fact that lyrics deal with quite trivial subjects, they’re written in a fine way and what’s most important –Nimrod’s English is enjoyable enough. As to music… well, this is atmospheric black metal at it’s best. “In Embrace Of Pain” features keyboards here and there, the ones which incredibly force the atmosphere, although SIMONIA make emphasis on guitars, and that’s only for better, since they manage to handle their instruments properly. Regarding drummer… well, this is what (together with hysteric vokills) heavily reminds me of early SUMMONING (circa “Lugburz”). The same “ringing” sound and inability to play in a really fast and simultaneously technical way. He’s far from being bad musician, though. Getting back to overall sound, I’d say that this MC never will lull you to sleep due to variety and enchanting melodies “In Embrace Of Pain” is soaked with… Nimrod also incorporates “clean” voice and he’s good at it, even though these passages weren’t well thoughtout. Generally speaking, this is (once again) atmospheric black metal at it’s best: harsh yet melodic and (really) far from being primitive. The production is good as well (excluding those stew-pan sounding drums), however mastering wouldn’t harm anything”.
Email the band at <nimrod@mail.ru>
… and CDM Records at <cdm-records@mail.ru>
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

SOILWORK
“A Predator’s Portrait”
Nuclear Blast Records
rating: 6 / 6
I don’t believe it! Once a DARK TRANQUILLITY copycat, these Swedes manage to evolve into something truly different! “Steelbath Suicide”, the CD they made their debut with, was a good piece of Gothenborg-school death / black metal, catchy and impressive, however still having almost nothing in common with originality. This is what regards “Steelbath Suicide”. NOT “A Predator’s Portrait”, for this one features enrapturing, surprisingly innovative and even more catchy mixture of death, black, thrash and heavy metal, as well as few art rock passages (b.t.w., what regards this resemblance, I believe I should mark out that synth lines sound pretty similar to those of DREAM THEATER almost all the time)! No wonder why Mikael @ OPETH took part in recording this piece… Each song is different, each with it’s own atmosphere, however the CD sounds as complex as it’s possible, perhaps thanks to these chaps’ compositional talent and outstanding skills. Mind-devouring harmonies, bewitching leads, greatest variety of vocal lines (as a matter of fact, harmonic vocals are one of the best I’ve ever heard) and doubtlessly unforgettable refrains… Aarrghh!… - truly a masterpiece! (Herr Stalhammar)

SOULREAPER
“Written In Blood”
Nuclear Blast Records
rating: 6 / 6
What if DEICIDE and MORBID ANGEL would split up and, shortly after, start an all new band? And what if this band will be led by Jon Nodtveidt (DISSECTION)? Well, this one would sound exactly like SOULREAPER does. In fact, this act may be considered “DISSECTION reincarnated” as it is partly comprised of ex-DISSECTION members (Johan Norman on guitars and Tobias Kellgren on drums). And let me assure you that “Written In Blood” easily beats both “The Somberlain” and “Storm Of The Light’s Bane” as well as “Insineratehymn” (for those who do not know – I doubt if there’re any, though – it’s the latest work by DEICIDE). Describing this CD is almost an impossible task, as it is impossible to describe what the Hell looks alike after you’ve been there. Uncompromising mixture of death and black metal, blended with inimitable atmosphere, precise drumming, killer guitar work and inhuman vokills… Yes, definitely “a must to have!”. One of the best death / black metal albums I’ve given a listen during at least past five years. (Herr Stalhammar)

SUMMON
“No Thoughts From The Sky”
Blackened Moon Productions
rating: 2 / 6
… And this is SUMMON?! The same SUMMON the second work of which I’ve been craving to hear for at least a couple of years?! The same SUMMON who came up with “Dark Descent Of Fallen Souls”, an excellent piece of sludgy black / death metal back in 1997?! NO-o-o. I don’t believe it. Somehow I’ll have to, though. “No Thoughts From The Sky” isn’t black metal. Nor it is death metal. Actually, it’s not metal – not even _music_. A fucking piece of plastic, man. I haven’t heard such a soulless effort for a long-long time, believe me. It doesn’t warm up the one who gives this CD a chance, it doesn’t do ANYTHING. I assume, a horrible sound execution is the main problem here. Yes, that must be it. I mean, if “No Thoughts From The Sky” was recorded in a proper way, it could probably please at least a couple of moaning souls – but not now. Drum tracks have been pushed forward – and by the way, I doubt if it was a live recording, accompanied by diversified yet loathsome vocal lines, whilst guitars and bass doubtlessly took a vacation. If you guys are fond of torturing yourselves with such an audial disaster, go on – however, taking into account the fact I never considered myself a masochist, I’d better flush this CD down a toilet and go get some fresh air. (Herr Stalhammar)

TENHI
“Airut: Ciwi”
Prophecy Productions
rating: 6 / 6
Strange things happen. I couldn’t stand listening former works by this Finnish combo, and… suddenly, newest single-CD of theirs gets the highest mark. What is this up to? My mood, I assume. “Airut: Ciwi” is comprised of three imaginatively conceived, no less than mesmerizing, doubtlessly bewitching tracks, whilst naming the genre they may be reckoned to, isn’t the easiest task possible. A cross between folk noir and dark ambient? Does it suit you? Hope so, since I fear I’m not able of finding a better description. Sorrowful and tranquil… tranquil in it’s utter grimness. Enchanting and… what else? I guess the word “unique” fits here perfectly. As well as “psychedelic”. It’s not really necessary to give a listen to ESOTERIC in order to end your life. TENHI is no less good choice, believe me. It’s just your end, that would be different… (Herr Stalhammar)

THE SOIL BLEEDS BLACK
“Quintessence”
World Serpent
rating: 3 / 6
What is this?? A pathetic attempt to beat DEAD CAN DANCE? Most likely, the answer would be “no”. Then what? Well, actually I always felt a deep respect to this band, enjoying (more or less) all of their former efforts (and there’re many!), however something just doesn’t work with this one. Serene dark ambient, not necessarily instrumental, but necessarily soothing and pretending to be a milestone in this rather controversial genre. Well, sad to say, but “Quintessence” doesn’t reach the level of the previous offerings brought forth the light by THE SOIL BLEEDS BLACK, even if it’s doubtlessly technically improved. Just a nice little thing. Have a certain amount of $$$ knowing not what to spend them on? Well, then “Quintessence” should be yours. (Herr Stalhammar)

THY SERPENT
“Death”
Spinefarm Records
(provided by Fono Records)
rating: 6 / 6
I don’t know why Fono decided to issue this work only in the shape of MC – however should it really concern me? Yes. Simply because I always preferred CDs, and moreover, “Death” deserves to be issued exactly in the shape CD, for the four songs it’s comprised of, are beyond excellence. In fact, THY SERPENT don’t sound like a black metal band anymore: more likely, it’s atmospheric death metal with a unique touch of their own. This time Sami, Azhemin, Teemu and Toni added even more diversity, by incorporating brilliant low-pitched “clean” vocals and somewhat even gothic elements, slowing down in few passages (whilst f.ex. “Wounds Of Death” sounds almost like a death metal ballad, serene and tremendous…). In spite of everything, THY SERPENT doubtlessly is Finland’s premiere death / black metal act. And what a stunning comeback…!!! In short, this is A MUST.
If you can’t find this CD being sold at the music store nearby but nevertheless still interested in purchasing it, email Fono Records at <metal@fono.ru> or check out their official website at <www.fono.ru> (this concerns only those who reside in Russia and CIS States, though).
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

TVANGESTE
“Damnation Of Regiomontum”
Valgalder Records
rating: 3 / 6
“Ok, it seems like you're very interested in reviewing this album. That’s nice!” These were the words of Marius Olaussen, the one who runs Norway’s Valgalder Records. And, well. I was… interested. And why not, afterall? A band of Russian origin putting out it’s debut CD via Norwergian label – sounds intriguing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, the _music_ doesn’t sound intriguing. The synth-lines appear as enough enjoyable ones, the same goes for guitar passages, however the lack of complexity, horribly programmed drumset and ridiculous lyrical canvas leaves no chance for “Damnation…” to spin in my stereo once again, at least this year. These guys have a certain potential and perhaps even a bright future ahead, but while now they’re just regular band attempting to deliver pseudo-artistic sympho-black metal in the vein of BAL  SAGOTH and alikes.
Website: www.valgalder.com
Email: olaus@valgalder.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

USER NE
“Nibelum Das Uhort”
War Is Imminent Productions
rating: 1 / 6
I’ve read quite a lot reviews on “Nibelum Das Uhort”, and surprisingly, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t yet praised these Spanish freaks for being… well, “innovative”, “outstanding”, “revolutionary”, and so on and so forth. Well, now let me doubt the competence of all those who were striking forth with such descriptions. What a bizarre musical taste… In my view, USER NE don’t have anything to offer with an exception for completely incomprehensible musical canvas. It seems like these individuals (by the way, why the hell did they need to comprise a band of EIGHT (!) members?!) simply wanted to mix everything they’ve ever listened to, everything they’ve been influenced by, into one – doom, death and black metal, dark wave and folklore, dark ambient and neo-classical music… What a horrible mixture. I don’t have anything against innovations, nor do I stand against incorporating any “alien” elements. But this is TOO much. It seems like they just used a random way whilst composing “Nibelum Das Uhort” – not even a single song is well-structured; quite the contrary, each of them sounds like a worthless conglomerations of diverse sounds, soprano (which nearly made me to throw this CD out the window… yes, this girl is good in what she’s doing… but what the fuck is she doing HERE?!?!?!?!), male voices and wretched synth-lines… Generally speaking, this is A TOTAL NIGHTMARE. No one of my pals (amongst the ones I gave this CD to listen to (perhaps trying to be objective)) could stand it until the end. Bleeeaaaauuurrrgghhhh! If USER NE is a synonym for “innovation” I’d better go and listen to MOTORHEAD. (Herr Stalhammar)

VIKING CROWN
“Innocence From Hell”
Baphomet Records
rating: 6 / 6
Look whom we have here! Phil Anselmo (PANTERA) (indicated as “Anton Crowley”) responsible for guitar and drum tracks! And what’s more, VIKING CROWN is… a black metal act. Whew! But ok, let’s cast away the irony, and try to figure out what we have to deal with this time. Actually, “Innocence From Hell” is already the second effort brought forth the light under the banners of VIKING CROWN – the first one was recorded back in 1994 and later re-released in the shape of CD by Hammerheart Records. Don’t blame me for I don’t want to tell you, my precious reader, anything in regards to “Unorthodox Steps Of Ritual” – it’s just “Innocence From Hell” what I have to review, hence let’s better focus on this one. In fact, I haven’t heard such a furious and in the same time inimitably atmospheric piece of BM for a long-long time… Primitive yet strangely fascinating riffing, supplemented with absolutely sick yells by Killjoy (NECROPHAGIA, EIBON) and anxious synthetic arrangements (courtesy of Opal Enthroned)… Well, this one shreds! (Herr Stalhammar)

VITRIOL
“I – VII”
Neurot Recordings
rating: -
Have you ever dreamt of a sweet torture, the pain which makes you craving for even more? Humiliated once, asking for the second time, finding pleasure in depravity… you, no man and no animal, a lonely soul of sorrow in a world of rejoiced… The deliverance is near, my friend. The seven journeys offered by VITRIOL (unsurprisingly entitled “Visita”, “Interiora”, “Terrae”, “Rectificando”, “Invenies”, “Occultum” and “Lapidem”) would free you at last. Enchanting and indescribable mixture of weird charity and enrapturing violence, this is what it’s all about. I hear the voices seemingly coming from nowhere, I see visions I shouldn’t see, I feel what no one has an ability to feel. God; in my own Universe. A Morning Star; in my own reign of delightful obscenity…
Website: http://www.neurotrecordings.com
Email: neurotrecordings@neurosis.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

WYKKED WYTCH
“Angelic Vengeance”
Demolition Records
rating: 5,5 / 6
This is something very-very strange. Disgusting, before all. The reason is, I have no fucking respect for Turks residing in Germany. Well, actually I have no respect for Turks at all. Sorry, I never was and still not is a politically correct person, and that’s definitely not my problem. Most likely, yours. Nevertheless, despite that Ipek, beyond ugly woman of Turkish origin appears as WYKKED WYTCH’s leading force, I have to admit that “Angelic Vengeance” strikes as pretty enjoyable piece. Well, not really enjoyable. More than that. Much more than that. It’s simply outstanding. Excellent mixture of fast-paced black and death metal with some borrowings from heavy and goth thrown in. Ipek is a damn good singer, with an ability to vary her voice from death grunts, through inhuman shrieks to pseudo-“clean” singing. Actually, that must be WYKKED WYTCH’s strongest side. The music, as I just said above, is no less excellent, though. Musicianship and sound execution? No problem with that. Image? Oh, and now we indeed do have a problem! Ipek and accompanying guys look utterly ridiculous, however, I guess, this time it’s my problem. Why had I check out what’s inside the booklet? Well, at least now you know what you shouldn’t do. (Herr Stalhammar)

ZNICH
“Yazychnik Ya… (I’m A Pagan)”
“Duh Zemli (Spirit Of The Earth)”
self-released
(provided by Nervus Vagus)
rating: 4 / 6
Ok, these are two very first works by Belarus’ ZNICH, whose latest effort I seemed to review earlier in one of the previous issues. Honestly speaking, back then I thought that getting rid of black / doom / death / or-how-they-call-it metal elements and stepping forward more folkish sound, wasn’t the wisest move ever. But now I think different. “Adchuvan’ni Vyasny” was more or less impressive work, and so are these ones – but if one has made an attempt to find out the differences between “that” and “this” ZNICH, he would immediately figure out that both “I’m A Pagan” and “Spirit Of The Ground” weren’t really worth re-releasing. Despite that they’re well structured and worked out, featuring plenty of highlights, both albums bear a trace of this “Sovok-metal” thing. The sound is thin, the singer is (actually, “was”) bad (especially taking into account the fact he sings in Belorussian – AND this language DOES NOT fit his singing manner), while music still is worth something. Perhaps “I’m A Pagan” was a milestone back in 1997, but now it doesn’t warm me up. I wish these guys continue adding folkish elements and cast away this semi-shrieking / semi-growling. At the moment Ales’ is capable of singing in a nice “clean” voice, hence who needs this harsh-sounding disaster contrasting the music as much as it can? Yeah, and by the way, the female singer featured on “Spirit Of The Earth” was much better than the one handling the vocal duties on “Adchuvan’ni Vyasny”. The question is: why the hell did they replace Veronika with Natalya?
Website: http://www.znich.com
Snail mail (Nervus Vagus ‘zine and distribution): c/o Yuhnevich Sergey / P.O.Box 473 / Minsk 220047 / Belarus
Email: sikzon@europe.com
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

ZORN
“Schwarz Metall”
Last Episode Productions
rating: 4,5 / 6
Surprisingly or not, this one is better than “Triumph Of The Everlasting Fire” by FUNEBRIS. At least, not as mediocre. Striking as _very_ young combo (if I’m not mistaken, this band was brought forth the light only a year ago), ZORN nevertheless come up with a pretty good piece of black metal the old Norwegian way… And what it implies, is fast-paced and raw audial inferno, (un?)fortunately lasting for less than an hour. Despite too crystallized execution, I guess “Schwarz Metall” would be of interest to those who consider nowadays’ IMMORTAL and DARKTHRONE sell-outs. Recommended. (Herr Stalhammar)