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And here’s yet another batch of reviews this week.  Can’t say we’re not giving you anything!

This time around, we’re talking more doom, neofolk and black metal, from labels like Nordvis, Osmose, Regain, Eisenwald, Bindrune, Edged Circle, Seeing Red and more…so why waste time talking about it?  Allons-y!

SUUM – Cryptomass (Seeing Red Records) (February 14)

Heavy, lumbering but leaning more traditional than you’d expect, this Italian
doom act follows more in the footsteps of Paul Chain than anyone else,
albeit with a simplistic, over-distorted vibe that manages to suggest
doom/death while vaguely evoking vintage Trouble and playing more in the
same garden occupied by Crypt Sermon.

If you can even picture such a thing.

Clean, gloomily moaning vocals, grinding riffs that bring the grim, Calvinistic
feel of classic death metal (particularly in its doomier variant) but a generally
trad vibe…how can you not love this one?

Quite good indeed!

Witchcrawl – World Without End (Katoptron IX Records) (February 21)

What if Candlemass continued with Johan Langquist as frontman, rather than
taking on the more accomplished and bombastic Messiah Marcolin for the
remainder of their worthwhile albums (and similarly more than respectable
self titled comeback)?

Now what if you tagged in some vintage Denner/Sherman (or ersatz
Murray/Smith) style leads to sweeten the mix? To quote an old Ginsu knife
commercial, “now how much would you pay?”

Busy, NWOBHM-derivation traditional doom with the sort of surprising motion
and drive that only Candlemass and Trouble really brought to the table (well,
Witchfinder General, but they were NWOBHM after all…)

Good stuff, though some may argue just how close this adheres to doom
over trad/NWOBHM…there’s enough of both at play herein to satisfy both
sides of the argument, not to mention both camps and preferences thereof.

Catchy, powerful. Personally preferred Suum, but two extremely strong
contenders right out of the gate this time…who’s complaining?

Primeval Mass – Nine Altars (Katoptron IX Records) (February 21)

One of the guitarists from the excellent Witchcrawl enlivens this otherwise
forgettably cheesy blackthrash act.

Vox are really bad (picture gargling a mouthful of chocolate milk and you’ve
pretty much got it) and some nice melodic solos aside, the first half of the
album is all soundalike high speed nonsense that goes absolutely nowhere.

In the latter half, they slow things down a bit, but nothing really sticks to the
wall until the depressive nigh-power ballad “the hourglass still”, which is
actually pretty damn good, vox aside.

But taken as a standalone entity, the only thing worthy of comment here are
the far better than usual guitar solos…and knowing you can get all this and
much better all around music in Witchcrawl leaves this act entirely
disposable and forgettable, a one song wonder otherwise unworthy of

Magick Touch – To the Limit (Edged Circle Productions) (December 13)

We’d covered this Norwegian retro-glam rock act’s Electrick Sorcery about 4
years back, and found them entirely believable musically, not to mention likeable.

Pleased to report there’s been no change here, at least to judge by this
advance single, which comes off somewhere between Y&T, Zebra, KISS
and Dokken in their respective mid-80’s heydays.

Looking forward to the full length.

AngelBlast – Rotting Paradise (Edged Circle Productions) (December 20)

Overly busy, vaguely tech leaning and decidedly blackened take on death

A more or less melodically inclined solo per track does not save this one
from its own sheer wrongheadedness.

Straight to the Pile…INCOMING!!!!


Damn, the splatter melted plastic slag makes when it hits the flames…told ya
not to stand so close!


Drittmaskin – Sosial Prolaps (Edged Circle Productions) (February 7)

Sort-of crossover act that never really lands a hit.

There’s enough of the vintage crossover thrash sound ala DRI, Agnostic
Front, SOD, et al…but then you have the nasty snarly-scream vox (which are
simply abominable).

There’s an oddly straightforward traditional drumming approach (which is
perfectly fine, just worthy of comment in a world where assholes think you
have to add blastbeats to balladeering), but it’s never clear what audience
they’re really trying to play to…and I don’t mean “hardcore punk or thrashers”,

Yeah, it’s just a mess. Forget it and hope the guitarist and drummer find
themselves a real crossover style frontman…and then immerse themselves
in the classics of the genre for a few months to course correct this off the
rails train wreck.

DEATH WOLF – IV: Come The Dark (Blooddawn Productions (distributed by Regain Records) (December 10)


So apparently Marduk’s Morgan Hakansson did a Samhain/Misfits tribute act
called Devil’s Whorehouse, who later changed their name to Death Wolf.
Alright, fine…

So why does this sound absolutely nothing like either of the storied Glenn
Danzig acts?

Look, I love me some Samhain. First Danzig self titled aside, this is the
period of the guy’s career I gravitate to most, however much I may have
loved and grown up on the earlier Misfits work or once loved his solo work
from II though V. That’s what it’s shaken down to over the years: Samhain
and that first Danzig, I’m outta here.

So when I tell you this sounds absolutely nothing like Samhain or the
Misfits in any respect, even at a huge stretch? You can take my word for it.

I don’t know what the fuck Morgan thought he was doing here, but it doesn’t
work and it sure as hell ain’t Samhain or anything like it.

One more for the Pyre, be sure not to get hit when it explodes on contact
with the flames.

I’m so disinterested, I can’t even be bothered to give it the toss.


IMPRECATION / BLACK BLOOD INVOCATION – Diabolical Flames of the Ascended Plague split (Helter Skelter Productions / Regain) (December 6)

Two war/”bestial black” metal acts, one from Texas and the other from
Greece. Oddly, they choose to alternate tracks rather than each taking a
side to themselves.

Black Blood Invocation sounds more what you’d expect, like a better
produced Black Witchery or something. Imprecation is a bit slower and
almost Incantationesque, with much drier and more straight from the Marshall
stack production. Alternating with the decidedly “wet”, heavily reverbed and
punchier feel of the BBI tracks, its oddity only comes further to the fore. Do
these bands really belong together on a split?

Either way, listenable enough if you dig the decidedly basic and raw genre
and type.

INFIDEL REICH – Reichenstein (Helter Skelter) (November 15)

Interesting – Acheron’s Vincent Crowley and vintage Asphyx drummer Bob
Bagchus join forces, on one track even pulling in Mike Browning, Kam Lee,
Dave Ingram and SInister drummer Aad Klooserwaard for vocal turns.

Also note to those concerned: they claim to be apolitical, and against “all
extremist groups trying to erode freedom of speech, expression and self

Even so…it’s pretty generic, and I don’t mean that in the sense that Rites of
the Black Mass was uber-simplistic but oddly likeable. This is just…boring.

So hey…if you just wanted to see what Vince was up to since his Acheron
and demo-era Nocturnus days, you may care. If you’re just into seeing a
bunch of death metal “names” throwing down together, hey, there’s one track
for ya here.

But if you were expecting something more substantive or entertaining?
Forget it.

HORROCIOUS – Depleted Light And The Death Of Uniqueness (Osmose Productions) (October 25)

Nasty sounding “Norsecore” somewhat in the vein of Urgehal or Tsjuder, but
without the odd appeal of either act.

Promo materials leave either the band or their creative writer going on and on
about esoteric jibber-jabber, but it’s a tremendous amount of sturm and
drang, signifying absolutely nothing. Sorry, but distinctly unimpressed.

Musically, it’s droning and polished enough to work in the sense that bands
like the aforementioned do and others like Inquisition or Watain were at
times sort of able to apprehend…i.e. repetitive and gloomy enough to set up
a bit of a trance mode.

But does that make ’em particularly good?

Nope. Listenable, sure.

But good, impressive, worthy of comment? Not in the least.

Tragediens Trone – S/T (Osmose Productions) (November 29)

…so how do you make generica like Horrocious sound good?

That’s right…append it to something so utterly forgettable and one note as
this. The old Dark Funeral trope of moving the most basic of riffs up a tone,
down a tone, up again, down again ad nauseaum in place of actual riffing,
songcraft or harmonic motion is firmly in place, and there’s not even decent
production to help ’em out – this is mids-heavy, paper thin and utterly



Dammit, I told you guys, don’t stand within 15 feet of the Flaming Pyre of
Dead Bards! If you get badly burned, it’s not the responsibility of the


AVSLUT – Tyranni (Osmose Productions) (November 29)

Ah, those skanky girls of Japan are back again, the A(dult) V(ideo) Sluts, all
mosaic, all the time!

Yeah, we covered this unintentional comedy act before, for Deceptis (as in
“it’s decepti(s)ve that we named ourselves after Japanese mosaic porn starlets, but are actually some Swedish black metal act desperately trying to ride the coattails of an already past their prime Watain”.)

Well…it’s aggressive. I guess they’re pissed off at having all these guys
ready to wank off at their shows, yelling “hey! Where’s the chicks at?”

Yeah, nothing to see here, really. Stupid name aside, they’re another yawn
and a stretch paint by numbers black/death affair.


BÜTCHER – 666 Goats Carry My Chariot (Osmose Productions) (January 31)

Totally crazed blackthrash gone speed metal. As such, there’s more than a
hint of Witchtrap appended to all this Desaster-ness, some Exciter rubbing
shoulders with the South American vibe…oh, and they hail from Belgium, of
all places.

Yep, it’s insane, the vox are utterly crazed and shrieky, the production is
questionable at best…and it works.

Not exactly my go-to for blackthrash…but no major gripes here, either.

NATTVERD – Styggdom (Osmose Productions) (January 1)

Norwegian black metal.

Nothing wonderful, but it must be said they did do one thing very right: they
deliver a sound that is more or less their own, on their own terms, and not
just copycatting another successful band (or subgenre of same).

This doesn’t sound very first wave, it doesn’t sound very early second wave,
it’s not symphonic, nor is it black/death, “occult” or depressive, suicidal,
Cascadian or post-anything.

If anything, it sounds like some of the bigger “Norsecore” acts before they
found themselves working that sound – like the first Marduk or two, the
Tsjuder EP, the early Urgehal. It’s clearly Norwegian in tonality, but never
really adheres to a given sound or approach…and there’s something to be
said for that much.

Didn’t care for it, really…but you can’t say they didn’t at least try to do their
own thing and stand out from the crowd a bit.

BLOOD AND SUN – Love & Ashes (NORDVIS) (February 28)

Grim, agressive neofolk.

There’s a lot about the lyrics and approach here that suggests a Projekt
Records-style darkwave.

“Resurrection charm” in particular felt a whole hell of a lot like Audra as
crossed with, say, Kimi Karki – a Nick Drake for more modern and gothicized ears.

Not generally my thing, but we’ve covered a lot of similarly minded
semi-gothicized neofolk in these Roundups over the years, and generally
find it passing muster for the type…

…this one’s no exception to that rule.

Canis Dirus – Independence to the Beast (Bindrune Recordings) (March 6)

Minnesota act that works a similar folk meets black metal (two) man bedroom
band aesthetic as Austin Lunn and Panopticon, pensive, slow and laid back
porchside pickin’ on the slower, folkier bits, psychotically busy and
aggressive when the expected blackened bits and blastbeats kick in.

Moody, grim, atmospheric, even a bit eerie in its evocativeness of a lonely
rural existence.

So that’s what it’s like to live out in the middle of nowhere, possibly up in the
mountains or something…interesting.

Very good stuff, no question.

Krater – Venenare (Eisenwald) (November 15)

mmm…we’d covered their Urere and appreciated their slightly more melodic,
Viking tinged approach to Swedish black/death than usual…just
recommended a bit of a colon cleanse to flush all that Watain wannabe-ness
out of the system.

Unfortunately, our advice went unheeded, and this is, for better or worse,
very much “more of the same”.

If you liked ’em last time around, you’re in safe hands here.

If not, you’re fucked.

(shrugs shoulders)


Ateiggär – Us d’r Höll chunnt nume Zyt (Eisenwald) (November 15)

Swiss black metal. There is a slight classical influence ala Celtic Frost
present at times, like the tympani employed ever so sparingly in “de damon
us levania” and a bit more openly in “en seelefunke”.

The drumming is crazed to the point of making mistakes and falling a tad off
the rails (check out “en blinde namens duracotus”), but sometimes that’s
what makes things interesting.

Overall, just another black/death affair…but little touches like the
aforementioned spice the mix just enough to raise the eyebrow a bit.

Mosaic – Secret Ambrosian Fire (Eisenwald) (December 13)

Weirdly overdramatic clean vocals that seem to belong more to a traditional
doom record append what often veers into straight up pagan neofolk
territory, but occasionally gets really weird with synthesizer bits or straight up
black metal. But the odd, declamatory vocals never stop…


Interesting, sure. But ultimately? Just strange.

Osi and the Jupiter – Nordlige Rúnaskog (Eisenwald) (November 29)

Evocative pagan neofolk out of Ohio, of all places.

This is at its best when the gypsy/Yiddish-style fiddling joins the synth drones, acoustic guitar, tribal drums or chanting (as in “fjorgyn” or “laeradr”). The
end result comes off rather Ren Faire, but in a good sense.

Surprisingly, quite good…enough so that this one’ll be staying on the iPod for
a bit (not common for releases of this ilk).