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…it’s probably Nordic metal, and very likely pagan, if not blackened.

And so we come to this gathering of ghoulish delights and glacial confections for your aural delectation, from such solid labels as Nordvis, Agonia and Black Lodge.

So without further piddling about, shall we?

DRÅPSNATT – I Denna Skog (Nordvis Produktion) (February 7)

Nice! Dark, mournful, bombastically anthemic at the proper time and in the
proper degree, with the dramatic feel of the better symphonic black acts but
without the over the top cheese and cartoon gothicism.

Yeah, there’s a lot of silly screaming and shrieking going on…but when the
music it’s appended to is this powerful? You really don’t notice, or at least
find it a lot more forgivable than you’d otherwise allow.

We’d covered their Hymner till Undergangen about 6 years back, and found it rather Addams Family faux-ghoulish, even a bit silly for all its scene appropriate sound. So what happened?

If this were a few releases down the road and nearly a decade of time
elapsed (as you’d assume from our earlier statement), then it’d be a case of
an immature band finally growing into its potential. But surprisingly? This is
simply a reissue of the band’s first album from 2009…with Hymner
originally hailing from the year subsequent!

I guess it’s yet another case of bands who have it all together by the time
they get signed, then quickly losing their way when more is demanded of
them…who knows, I’ve never heard their third and final album to judge by.

In any case, this is such a huge step above what we were hearing last time
around with Hymner, you’d never believe it.

Definitely recommended – this is some dark, dramatic and yes, powerful
stuff.

WALDGEFLÜSTER – Stimmen im Wind 2020 (Nordvis Produktion) (January 10)

And here we have what you’d assume from the case of Drapsnatt to be yet
another reissue…yet not.

This is actually a 2019 re-recording of this German act’s 2009 demo.

We’d covered these guys several times, for the rather decent
Mondscheinsonaten, the decidedly questionable and post-black feeling Ruinen and the likeably epic split with Panopticon, and as you can see it’s been a bit of an up and down ride.

This one falls somewhere right down the middle, to be nice about it – it’s certainly listenable and nowhere near as slam-worthy as Ruinen appears to have been, but lacks the epic, dramatic feel displayed on their other works we’d covered.

Passable, but of more interest to completists or those curious to see how a
more mature band might cover their earlier material…as if Luna Sea, Saxon,
Blood Feast and so many others hadn’t already shown us.

It’s polished, the band’s on point and it’s got a melancholic feel…that’s about
the best we can offer here.

ELEINE – All Shall Burn (BLACK LODGE RECORDS) (November 22)

Ah, Eleine. We’d covered all of their work, if I’m not mistaken, from the self titled debut to the “hell moon” single and their followup Until the End.

This is more of the same, with Suicide Girl-style “gothic/alternative model”
Madeleine Liljestam bringing both looks and a pleasant gothic/symphonic
style alto to mezzo soprano tonality to another slab of Lacuna Coil gone
slightly more Epica.

As you’d expect, they continue the trend shown between the self titled and
Until the End by retaining the extra aggression (even pulling in a cheesy Alex
Krull-level growler for the title cut)…but this an EP with little heft, consisting of
three tracks and two airy “symphonic versions” (one of the title cut, one of
the aforementioned “hell moon”).

Not bad if you already like the band…but likely the new tracks will reappear on
the next full length, so probably not worth the indulgence.

MISERY LOVES CO. – ZERO (BLACK LODGE RECORDS) (November 29)

Well…

Remember the 90’s?

I mean, yeah, most of us try to actively forget them, it was the decade where metal not only died an ignominious death in all its forms (save perhaps an emergent second wave black metal, whose sheer notoriety drove its interest to global suburbs throughout the otherwise highly inhospitable cultural terrain of its day), but cultural dogshit and wrongheadedness like the “political correctness” movement made its unwelcome presence unavoidable and highly obnoxious.

Particularly in the earlier half of the decade, the 90’s were quite hellish, in fact…

Case in point, here’s a band who come off somewhere between White/Rob
Zombie, NiN and Slipknot and choose to cover Shirley Manson’s Garbage…but somehow got this hilariously off the mark rating from the once respectable Metal Hammer (and I quote from the promo materials here:) “If someone were to prescribe a formula for how metal should sound in 1995, it could be described in three words — MISERY LOVES CO.”

umm…”metal”?

Then tag in the fact that their big tour partners included the likes of Machine
Head and the Deftones…did someone say “metal”? Where, may I ask?

So, yeah, here’s this industrial act with the faux-“metal” vibe you got with
bands like Ministry, Fear Factory or the aforementioned Zombie and Reznor
projects. If you dig the stuff, fine – they’re melodically inclined and dark
enough to fill that bill.

But “metal”?

I think not, good sir!

(shakes head in disbelief and disgust)

“Metal” my ass.

…next?

RAGNAROK – Non Debellicata (Agonia Records) (November 15)

We’d covered their Psychopathology about 4 years back, and found it tellingly Laodicean despite Marduk’s Magnus Andersson working the faders on the recording.

Here…well, it should say something that I was moved to turn down the
volume about halfway through the first track.

Noisy, generic, more than a bit boring take on Legion-era Marduk-style
Norsecore.

You’ve certainly heard much worse…I know we’ve definitely reviewed far, far more egregious offenders than these guys could ever dream of being.

But is there really any interest or point when the end result is both this noisy
and so particularly paint by numbers?

 

IN MOURNING – Garden Of Storms (Agonia Records) (October 4)

We’d covered Afterglow and found ’em to be a real shrug of the shoulders, despite a Kristian “Necrolord” Wahlin cover and…well, it didn’t exactly help their cdase that they were being proudly compared to fucking Opeth, but even so.

And damn, if ever an ostensible doom/death metal band came off 90’s grunge/indie, this is the one…”the lost outpost”, anyone? How about “yields of sand”?

I mean…I get that they’re trying to stretch, both as a band and in macrocosm, the subgenre they supposedly occupy (hence the “progressive” tag). And Third Eye regulars know just how much yours truly loves Ahab…not to mention Zappa and classic jazz fusion per se, or all these recently uncovered Queensryche/Fates Warning/Crimson Glory wannabe bands a few labels (mostly Greek) keep digging up demos and EPs of.

But this…I don’t know, it’s too mellow overall and it seldom even approaches either death metal or doom (gothic, death/ or otherwise). Growly vox and a few phrases of blastbeat drumming aside, it’s too lush, too laid back.

Less demanding, more New Age inclined, Dream Theater fanboy-type prog metal aficionados may find these guys awesome, or at least a whole hell of a lot more interesting than I ever could.

HOUR OF PENANCE – Misotheism (Agonia Records) (October 25)

Italian black/death working somewhere in the sub-Belphegor ballpark.

You know the score with this subgenre.

You also know where we stand with this subgenre, for the most part.

DUCK AND COVER, INCOMING!

WHIZZ!!!

Ouch, those embers just flew…and the stench! Must have been quite a turd…

At this point, I’m starting to wonder whether we should rename the Pile…er, Flaming Pyre of Dead Bards to something like “the Everlasting and Eternally Fed Flames of Perdition For Musical Miscreants and Malfeasants”, given just how likely it is to ever go unfed and not kindled for very long a time…