Review: Æther Realm – Tarot Jun22

Review: Æther Realm – Tarot

I want you to imagine a record that has the folksy edge of Ensiferum combined with the melodic complexity of Wintersun all delivered through this very Mors Principium Est sounding package. That, in a nutshell, is Æther Realm‘s Tarot. Sounds delicious, right? But let’s step back for a moment. If you haven’t heard of Æther Realm, I’m not surprised. Their 2013 debut, One Chosen by the Gods, which though a laudable effort in its own right, was a bit too overt in its Wintersun meets Ensiferum worship, and came off as more novelty than anything of actual substance. Nevertheless, if you did happen to stumble upon it, Gods...

Review: Nokturnal Mortum – Verity May26

Review: Nokturnal Mortum – Verity

Nokturnal Mortum is one of those bands that everybody should know but very few actually do. And as I stated in my vinyl follow-up about the band’s 2009 magnum opus, The Voice of Steel, a big part of that has to do with their now former association with the NSBM movement early on in their career. But over the last decade, the band has tried to distance themselves from said movement and in the process rebrand themselves as a fairly prototypical blackened folk metal band. In fact in 2014, lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and the band’s spiritual leader, Varggoth, addressed some of these issues head on by stating that since the...

Review: Ungfell – Tôtbringære Apr28

Review: Ungfell – Tôtbringære

Let’s go deep underground. Ungfell is a two man Swiss outfit who first garnered some attention when they passed around an interesting little demo that contained prototypical black metal featuring an accordion (amongst other unorthodox instrumentation as well). That in itself is certainly attention grabbing to the say the very least. Yet even without all the instrument gimmickry, the demo itself was also littered with a number of intriguing riffs in its own right, and Ungfell built themselves quite a small but dedicated little following among those who heard it. Now two years later they’re back with their full-length debut...

Review: Havok – Conformicide Mar17

Review: Havok – Conformicide

Let me tell you how this review is suppose to go: First, I tell you that Havok is a Denver based collective whose main weapon of choice is the riff. I then explain how the band is one of the few that are still relevant today despite being unquestionably retro-thrash and proceed to point out that 2011’s Time Is Up is probably one of the strongest records to come out of said retro movement. I follow-up with a brief overview of their latest, entitled Conformicide, pointing out its various high points to underscore the fact that David Sanchez and Co. really do know how to throw down. Finally and disappointedly, I end with a Steely D...

Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct Nov25

Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

A little context: I’m a big Metallica fan. I have been for over twenty years now. What’s funny is unlike most fans, I discovered Metallica through Megadeth in a sort of six degrees of Kevin Bacon moment; it took me three Megadeth records to finally arrive at Puppets. Sad but true. But the truth is I lost track of Metallica right after 1996’s Load, an album that completed their transition from being everyone’s favorite Bay Area thrash metal band to a full-fledged hard rock one, bifurcating their fanbase in the process. Since then these retired thrashers have fallen under hard times, with the band probably hitting rock...

Review: Sojourner – Empires of Ash Oct30

Review: Sojourner – Empires of Ash

Summoning. For the last two decades Summoning have not only been churning out some of the most epic black metal ever conceived by man, but their body of work has pretty much codified the genre. However, after 2001’s Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, their output had slowed down considerably, with new album release cycles measured in Valian years instead of solar ones (alright, not quite that long but still). Consequently, this has opened up the flood gates for others to show off their best Summoning idolatry and at the same time, pick up the slack. A prime example is Caladan Brood’s 2013 epic, Echoes of Battle, which executed...

Review: Virvum – Illuminance Sep30

Review: Virvum – Illuminance

To describe the Swiss metal scene as “burgeoning” wouldn’t exactly be quite accurate since over the years the Swiss have been responsible for some of extreme metal’s most revered acts, including Coroner, Celtic Frost, and Samael to name just a few. However, the truth is that despite all of the scene’s great exports, the Swiss ironically really don’t do straight up death – and certainly not tech death. For tech death, I would normally point you in the direction of their German cousins to the north or their Italian neighbors to the south. But a small four piece collective called Virvum is trying to...

Review: Nordjevel – Nordjevel Sep05

Review: Nordjevel – Nordjevel

Meet Nordjevel, a melodic black metal band formed in 2015 when a two like-minded miscreants from the North, vocalist Doedsadmiral and bassist/guitarist Nord, found common ground over their fervor for life, liberty, and the pursuit of the occult. Soon after, their search for a full time drummer led them to float their newly formed concept with F. Widigs of Marduk fame, who apparently jumped on-board immediately after hearing just a few rough demos. A year later, their self-titled full length debut popped out via Osmose and here we are. Before I go any further, let me get this off my chest: Nordjevel’s debut is probably the catchiest...

Review: Uada – Devoid of Light Jul26

Review: Uada – Devoid of Light

This year hasn’t been exactly a banner year for black metal, especially anything coming out of here in the States. Sure, Cobalt dropped a two-album bombshell back in March, and then there was Oak Pantheon‘s stellar release a few weeks after that too, but all in all, it’s been mostly slim pickings. However, there is one USBM record this year that as been making a lot of underground waves ever since it was released back in April, and that album is Uada‘s full-length debut aptly named Devoid of Light. If hailing from Portland has you thinking that Uada is just another bunch of tree hugging hippies who happen to dabble...