Saturday, 28 December 2013

Burzum - Det som engang var

BURZUM - Det som engang var (CYMOPHANE Records - CD 1993)
Reviewing Burzum is never easy… I have a feeling like people judge Varg and band more for his deeds, beliefs and views – which sure, are controversial, but who cares – more than for his music. But isn’t the music the most important here? I must admit that, despite being who he is, Varg was and still is very talented musician. Or I would better say black metal / ambient composer, because he’s not very skilled instrumentalist, his playing is sometimes just primitive, but the atmosphere and special feeling, which he creates in his music are things, which make Burzum so special. In the early period of Burzum existence Vickernes composed many awesome songs… some has been featured on his debut LP “Burzum” and MLP “Aske” and just few months after releasing these two “Det som engang var” sees the light of the fullmoon and I personally must say that from all these three releases this one is my favourite. It’s not perfect, and also it is not my personal favourite in the whole Burzum discography, but certainly it is very good album and I like it more than the debut. “Det som engang var” has actually been recorded even before “Aske”, but the EP was released first, which is kind of weird... It was all because Varg didn’t want to give his second full length album to Deathlike Silence anymore, so he waited and finally released it through his own label Cymophane Records. He also wanted to release “Aske” by himself, but got arrested at that time, so DSP released it. Originally “Det som engang var” was released only on CD limited to 950 copies. I don’t need to remind you how expensive this pressing is. I am happy to have just a 2005’s Back on Black vinyl edition of it.
When comparing “Det som engang var” (what stands for “What Once Was”) to the previous efforts I can easily say that the music has progressed and overall it is better composed and recorded album. But the atmosphere and feeling of the music is pretty much intact and it is a right continuation of the debut. The album is opened with very calm and silent keyboard intro “Den Onde Kysten”, which sets the right mood and then “Key to the Gate” begins… it is very rough and relatively fast black metal song, with Varg screaming in it like possessed. I like how it (this song) develops and in the slower part there’s one riff and motif, which I love especially – the one when guitar lead appears. It is amazing. Surprisingly the music turns into quite melodic, almost kind of doomy at some point, but I really like it a lot, for me it is the best moment of the whole album. “En Ring Til Å Herske” continues with this kind of dark and epic black metal, with unexpected use of clean vocals mixed with the shrieking howls and the mood is kind of hypnotising and truly dark, cold and grim. Wow, I must say that three songs from the beginning and it can already be heard how varied the music on “Det som engang var” is. And later on it goes through even more diverse stuff – starting off with excellent “Dark Wisdom”, which belongs to the most known Burzum songs I guess and then we have – just like on the debut LP – a bunch of instrumental tracks. But while on “Burzum” they were sometimes pretty useless, here on “Det som engang var” they really complete the atmosphere and feel like a part of the concept, not just something what was thrown in by accident (and on debut LP I felt like that, definitely, and not only with the instrumental songs, but especially with so mismatched song as “War”). Ambient track like “Han som Reiste” sounds really damn well, in my opinion and is kind of dark ambient, which I like to listen to – you know, something similar to Mortiis, Wongraven… It is side B of the vinyl, which is especially filled with instrumental songs, creating this almost dreamy atmosphere… but it is abruptly distorted and disrupted by “Snu Mikrokosmos Tegn”, a nine minutes long black metal anthem, again quite varied, as there are both fast and chaotic parts as well as more melancholic and melodic themes.
Heading towards the end of this review I can only add that “Det som engang var” is just a classic black metal record. I do realize that Norway back in those days was releasing a lot of killer, cult albums and they all deserve attention… and maybe among them all this second Burzum full length is not my favourite, with the debuts from Immortal, Enslaved or Darkthrone’s “Under the Funeral Moon” being ranked slightly higher, but it is very good LP anyway. I like how Burzum’s music has been evolving and obviously I just cannot resist to the way Vickernes has been creating this feeling and mood in his music, which are just possessing and trance like. “Det som engang var” is a mandatory album in everyone’s collection and I trust everyone has his own copy. And look at that front artwork by Jannicke Wiese-Hansen! Wow.
Standout tracks: “Key to the Gate”, “En Ring Til Å Herske”, “Han som Reiste”, “Dark Wisdom”
Final rate: 87/100

Dumno - Cen Atebertas

DUMNO - Cen Atebertas (ATAVISM Productions - MC 2013)
Right, I was having a hard time with this demo cassette, which I have been sent to by Atavism Productions, but not because I didn’t like the music or something, but just because it took me hell of a lot of time to finally listen to it. Every time I was putting this tape into my deck, something was interrupting me and it was almost like a fuckin curse, like some force tried to stop me from listening to Dumno. But fuck, finally this morning I managed to give it few spins and I must say that I quite liked “Cen Atebertas” for its pure underground black metal sound and general feeling.
This French project is totally unknown and also quite mysterious, being kind of anonymous – well, probably just like most of the bands, which Atavism Records gathers under their wings. I know absolutely fucking nothing about Dumno, expect what I could find on the press notes. But I guess one just doesn’t need to know more, than it is necessary. And the most necessary things are that Dumno is a black metal project from Bourgogne and that it is pure underground stuff, no fireworks / posh / Hollywood black metal, but harsh, raw and relentless, kind of atmospheric, traditional take on this music. The first song called simply “Dumno” will set certain folky mood, being kind of ambient track with some folk instruments and very ritualistic chanting and drumming. Then “Ils ne passeront pas le gué” will break through with harsh, primeval black metal riffing… Well, the production is quite noisy and raw, with buzzy guitar sound and the whole thing sounding almost like kind of rehearsal recording, but I must say that just like in case of many classic albums and demos, also here on “Cen Atebertas” it works damn well and fits the music and its atmosphere perfectly. So, the production may be poor, but you don’t care, because these are the standards of the pure black metal! And “Ils ne passeront pas le gué” is just awesome song. It is mostly quite slow, majestic and epic with some really ghoulish vocals. Really cool. Yeah, definitely fans of Burzum, Graveland, Dub Buk, even Drudkh and many such bands will love it. Then “Nemeton” is faster and even more like the good old Burzum and again I really like this song a lot. About Hate Forest cover I would probably prefer not to say much, as I have never been a fan of this band, but somehow this cover is also not bad at all, it’s utter fast, but fits the entire “Cen Atebertas” perfectly. The final song “Autumno” is yet another ambient track, so it again sets that very dark mood.
So, this is what “Cen Atebertas” is all about. 25 minutes of harsh, dark, cold, inhuman, kind of orthodox black metal… Dumno did good job here, I must say, I did enjoy this demo… OK, it maybe isn’t the most thrilling of all black metal demos ever, but it is solid and good enough for my taste. There are several truly awesome riffs, song structures are also not bad at all and the vocals are just great, with cool expression and feeling, so “Cen Atebertas” provides everything what the black metal maniacs would probably like in this style of music. Being limited to 150 copies only, this cassette may be sold out by now, but if it isn’t then give it a go and order yourself a copy of it. I am sure that you’ll like it as well.
Final rate: 70/100

Archives of the Dead part XIII: Beyond Fear - Dreaming of Pure Carnage (demo 1995)

Archives of the Dead part XIII: Beyond Fear - Dreaming of Pure Carnage (demo 1995)
Line up: Steve Smith (bass), Alex Betts (guitars), Jon Betts (vocals, guitar)
Recorded at Red Studio's on the 7th and 8th of May, 1995.
This is completely unknown British death metal band from Orpington in Kent. Beyond Fear has been formed around 1993 and was active only for three years. During this time they have released two demos: “The Taste of Red Impurity” in 1994 and “Dreaming of Pure Carnage” in 1995 and then the postmortem EP “Haunted by Visions of a Third Atrocity” in 1997. They’re one of those small bands, which I guess not many people know as they have never had a huge impact on the national scene, not to mention the worldwide underground, but the impact on their small local scene was I guess enough that someone managed to keep their old recordings and at some point offered them as digital download. And it is great that someone did, as this way I had a chance to listen to yet another really cool, unknown death metal band from the mid 90’s, whose music is better than I would expect and which really manage to catch my attention with some of these truly great songs.
I have been listening to “Dreaming of Pure Carnage” demo quite often recently and I must say that it is really good material. It contains five songs, but two of them are nice instrumental pieces played entirely on acoustic guitars, what gives a nice feeling of quietness among the brutal, fast and relentless death metal. So, except these two short pieces we’re left with three tracks of plain and classic death metal destruction. It must be pointed out that Beyond Fear was quite untypical in some way… I mean two of these songs are damn long, over nine or eight minutes long, so it can say a lot about how diverse these tracks are, with more untypical structures, etc. A lot of focus is on the riffing slaughter, like the opening theme for “Prayer Before Birth”, where the vocals appear not sooner than in the third minute and before that the band concentrates just on smashing with some utterly fast and aggressive death metal. It must be also pointed that unlike most other British death metal bands, Beyond Fear has no doomy parts at all and who knows if they actually weren’t the fastest British death metal band in that early to mid 90’s time, which I have heard? A lot of “Dreaming of Pure Carnage” is very fast and damn vicious and brutal, but it truly sounds great for me. Sometimes it reminds me such bands as Malevolent Creation, Vital Remains or Monstrosity, also Sinister, so you may know what it is like. Really good demo, indeed, I have definitely enjoyed it a lot, “Prayer Before Birth” especially. It is great that I don’t have this feeling like these songs (“Prayer…” and “Disemboweled”) very dragged for too long, not at all, because a lot is going on within each of them, with grinding fast parts, some slower stuff, even quite melodic themes here and there... “Torn From Within” is the only shorter song, with about three minutes on the clock and it probably is also the least interesting track from all. Anyway I think that the entire demo of Beyond Fear is just damn cool. Try to find it and enjoy some fast, diabolic death metal.
Final rate: 73/100

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Panzerfaust zine coming back after 7 years.....

I think I can write this already that Panzerfaust zine is most likely to return in paper format next year, I do hope that I will make everything ready for February. This new issue will consist material which is already here on this website, not everything obviously, but some of the best interviews and some recent reviews. Hope to fit everything into max 44 pages...
Ha, I already have 26 pages with interviews ready, speaking of design, etc... here are some examples...
So, beware and stay in touch for some more news!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Asaru - From the Chasms of Oblivion

ASARU - From the Chasms of Oblivion (Schwarzdorn - CD 2012)
I had rather bad feelings about the album from Asaru, because at certain time their label Schwarzdorn has never been able to impress me with their releases, except only one great exception of Svarttjern’s debut CD, which was a real killer and a nice surprise. But everything else, what I listened to from this label was… shit. Yeah, I mean all that crap like Cerberus  or Uhrilehto… Such albums made me lose my interest completely in Schwarzdorn, luckily though I got promo copies of Asaru’s “From the Chasms of Oblivion” along with excellent Fortid’s fourth album “Pagan Prophecies” and both CDs made a huge impression on me. Maybe it was because I didn’t have big expectations from them or maybe just Schwarzdorn learned to pick up only interesting stuff to release… Whatever the reason, I have really enjoyed both CDs. Here in this review I would like to write some words about Asaru and “From the Chasms of Oblivion”… Well, I have never actually heard of this band before, even though they’ve been formed back in the mid 90’s and released some demos and one full length album (“Dead Eyes Still See” in 2009) before “From the Chasms of Oblivion”. The band has actually split up for a while, when its leader Frank Nordmann (what a suitable surname) moved over to Norway, but reformed Asaru there and quickly recorded two albums. It’s good he’s done that, definitely because - as I already mentioned before - I’m quite impressed with the work Asaru  did on “From the Chasms of Oblivion”.
This album is definitely a fine piece of black metal. It is very well composed, arranged and also performed and recorded, so I cannot say anything bad about it, really. I like the music a lot, its diversity, the atmosphere and feeling, as well as the production… Diversity is one of the main keys for “From the Chasms of Oblivion” brilliance, I think. The basis of this music is in the Scandinavian black metal, I think that it’s mainly influenced by the Swedish bands such as Dissection, Sacramentum, Naglfar and all this sort of harmonious but also vicious and aggressive black metal bands. But many parts of “From the Chasms of Oblivion” remind me also the Norwegian scene, for its harshness and cold atmosphere and here I can mention such bands as Odium (especially vocal wise Asaru has a resemblance to them), Ragnarok or a bit of Troll, if you take the symphonic part away… and maybe even a bit of good old Gehenna. Now take some parts of all these bands, put them together, but with the stronger accent on the melodic, harsh and aggressive black metal and you’ll have “From the Chasms of Oblivion”. Nothing new, I know, but I can admit that Asaru did just good job here, coming up with several awesome songs and many truly killer riffs and ideas.
I really like that together with many fast as hell and vicious parts, you can find here also many more melodic and harmonious fragments and some, which have more… hmm, how should I say, maybe more developed and complex structures, with great playing of guitars, lots of leads, harmonies, so it’s not just plain and simple black metal. At times, like in “At Night They Fly” it seems like there are even some heavy metal influences in this music, but what I like a lot about it is that even if there is more melodic part it doesn’t feel too soft or polite and there’s always room for aggression, faster playing and grim, sinister atmosphere. In song like “Under the Flag” they remind me such bands as Odium, I don’t know how many of you would remember this Norwegian bands, but style wise, production wise and with the vocals Asaru is quite close to them. Then such tracks as “The Eyes of the Dead” will from one hand shred you with many impressively aggressive parts, but they also have very nice, fairly melodic, sort of melancholic finish, which sound like Naglfar. I really like the songwriting from this album; all songs have something killer and interesting to offer and it would be damn difficult to pick up just one or two songs and call them the best ones from the whole album, as it’s very even and well performed in its entirety. Hmm, maybe I should mention especially “At Night They Fly” and “World On Fire”? Or maybe it is “Fortapt I Dødens Favn”, which sounds like an old Norwegian black metal anthem, close to the early Dimmu Borgir for instance – it even has Norwegian lyrics – and man, it is fuckin awesome song!!!!!!! All in all “From the Chasms of Oblivion” contains almost an hour of incredibly brilliant music. It definitely is one of the biggest surprises I’ve heard recently and so I must recommend this album to all of you, who like more melodic black metal.
Standout tracks: “The Eyes of the Dead”, “At Night They Fly”, “World On Fire”, “Fortapt I Dødens Favn”
Final rate: 80/100

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Anatomia / Necrovorous - Split 7" EP

Hungry for some Anatomia? Well, Doomentia Records came with a helpful hand and released a brand new EP single of these Japanese monsters and joined them in the destruction together with Greek Necrovorous. Now, that sounds like a stuff for me… So, I didn’t hesitate and quickly got my copy of this split EP. Some of you may know that there are two versions of it available, with two different artworks (great idea, by the way!). One was done by Putrid Matt and another by David Torturdød (from Undergand, if you don’t know)… All together there are 700 copies, with 350 for cover of each artist, plus there are also more strictly limited EPs, like 50 copies of splatter vinyl and other such bullshit. As I don’t give a damn about the colours of my records I just went for the easy black vinyl and chosen Putrid version, just because I prefer his filthy gore cover over the artwork of David, which also is cool by the way, but somehow in this case I prefer Matt’s cover (with all respect to David, who is also an awesome artist and I like many his works a lot!). Great job of both guys, anyway! So, the choice of artwork is done and now the music… Luckily here I have no choice dilemma because both versions contain the same songs hehe. Obviously though I was very eager to hear Anatomia again, but also I was kind of interested what will Necrovorous be like, as I didn’t know this band so much.
So, let’s start with the Hellas. I had many occasions to get Necrovorous music… Their debut album is easily available on vinyl and recently someone have also released a compilation CD with their demos and EPs or something like that… But I don’t know any of these recordings. Maybe one day I will finally get them and give a listen, at the moment though I don’t feel that necessity. Maybe this split EP with Anatomia will push me and speeds up getting these previous materials, because Necrovorous song called “Eternal Soulmates” is truly a bone crusher. Actually I like it even more that Anatomia’s “Desolation” what already says a lot! Musically Necrovorous is a classic brutal death metal band in the vein of Incantation, Immolation, Disma, their countrymen from Dead Congregation and other such killer, cult bands. These resemblances are one thing, but it’s the quality what matters most and I am happy to say that Necrovorous turned out to be a nice surprise for me. I mean it’s just one song, but the powerful, brutal and massive riffing, great ghoulish vocals and killer raw, obscure production made a huge impact on me. Simply – I love this song. It is brilliant, with damn heavy riffs, but also with some excellent melodic parts, what can almost remind you the epic side of Asphyx. How cannot I love it then? For me it is awesome, so I am really interested to find some of their previous stuff as well.
And from Nippon comes the tsunami called Anatomia… I really have discovered this band this year, getting their several materials and really loved them all, I never got disappointed. And the same can be said about “Desolation”, even if in case of this split I liked Necovorous’ song a little bit more… but “Desolation” is also damn awesome. It is very doomy, very mournful and heavy piece of death metal, with almost no speeded up parts except one motif towards the end of the song. Rest of it is just slow and creepy. And disgusting, as this is how you can describe the atmosphere of “Desolation”… creepy, gruesome and disgusting. I always feel amazed how this band is able to create such mood and also how they have this ability to demolish using so simple, but utterly brutal and memorable riffs. This is the kind of doomy death metal devastation, which I adore and I suppose no more words are needed here… Anatomia is Anatomia, if you like their previous stuff then “Desolation” will also hit you badly and rip your guts out.
Final rate: 90/100