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And here’s the last one for the week.  Who knows what’ll go down after the Lunar New Year tomorrow, but for now, you’ve got a whopping nine of these to peruse for the usual mix of love and laughs, also known as what’s worthwhile and what’s just plain crap to those who prefer their liquor served straight and their reviews sans frippery, arse kissing and let’s be honest here, just plain bullshit.

Plenty of other sources for the latter.  Those of more discriminating tastes, you know who’s got the good stuff for ya.

Shall we, then?

Ignivomous – Hieroglossia (Nuclear War Now! Productions) (November 15)

Sloppy, noisy, “brutal”, blackened and decidedly “underground” (black/)death metal from the land Down Under.

Weirdly, they attempt to combine the buzzing bee “tech death” nonsense of bands like Centurian or Nile with the loose, sloppy and detuned aesthetic (and crappy, paper thin mids-heavy production style) of bands like Autopsy…and boy, is that ever a mistake.

This sort of thing can work for those so inclined, with proper tuning of some sort, crystalline production and a deliberate, precise attack on the guitars. It’s not my thing, but hey – you can at least trace the heritage back to acts like later Pestilence and Gorguts or Monstrosity.

But to do that with this other nonsense, which tends to lean slow and “sepulchral”? And without even bothering to tune up the guitars a bit?

WHIZZ!!!!

…so many feeding the eternal flames of the Flaming Pyre of Dead Bards of late. May have to charge submissions for a regular fire department presence, just to keep this shit from getting competely out of control and burning down the coast or something…

…next?

Vassago – Knights From Hell (Nuclear War Now! Productions) (October 19)

Reissue of a crazed Swedish black/death album from the dawn of the millenium.

Again, the emphasis is on speed and the production is iffy…but more “black metal production” than the more modern (and annoying) “underground” style you get with Ignivomous. And the guitars, while hardly tuned to E standard, aren’t so absurdly low as they like to work it of late…leaving the end result sounding a lot more “precise” and the still papery production far more “clean” (all in a very comparative sense, but even so).

What this means is that what you’ll hear is sort of a poorly produced, almost grindcore variant of Norsecore, and specifically of Legion-era Marduk at that.

Was any of this particularly worthwhile or impressive in any respect? No. But compared to Ignivomous, these guys were practically Yngwie in a guitar duel with Mick Mars or C.C. DeVille.

Don’t worry about it, there’s really nothing to see here, just move along…

Perverted Ceremony / Witchcraft (Finland) – Nighermancie / Black Candle Invoker split (Nuclear War Now! Productions) (October 19)

Okay, fans of the “evil” sound that appears to have been lost entirely when the first wave of black metal disappeared under the onslaught of the emergent Norwegian second wave? Drop what you’re doing and go check out Perverted Ceremony’s tracks here.

I mean, seriously…does this sound like some bizarre Belgian cross between Mystifier circa Wicca (possibly even Goetia), Mortuary Drape and Abhor, or what?

Opener “nighermancie” isn’t so hot comparatively, but “in sin with the goat”? The creepy synth interlude “intermezzo”? “Llight the inverted candles”? Even “the 7 liberated arts”? Totally picturing someone like “Beelzeebubth” or some ancient hooded Italian act working tracks like this. Pure fucking evil in audio form.

Sadly, Finland’s Witchcraft (not to be confused with Sweden’s middling trad doom cum hippie rock act) drops the ball, badly. 3 pointless tracks of generic “underground” black/death, only partially enlivened by some Glenn Danzig keyboard on closer “seventh sabbath night”. The song is completely forgettable, but it’ll make you want to go pull out Black Aria for another spin.

Get it for the Perverted Ceremony tracks, and pray to whatever gods you care to that they put out another EP or full length soon…and that it sounds half so old school sinister as this does.

Darkified – Cthulhu Riseth – The Complete Works of Darkified (Nuclear War Now! Productions) (October 25)

This early (1992!) black/death act out of Sweden only dropped one demo and an EP before closing up shop, with the rhythm section going on to Marduk and oddball prog deathsters Edge of Sanity.

This one’s seen release a few times previously, first under a different title, but eventually using the exact same title, albeit with extra live tracks and a Bathory cover appended…don’t ask me. 

This release boils things back down to the demo and EP material only, which could seem like a slight letdown…but seriously.  That’s probably the only material anyone’ll care about in the end anyway, so hey.

Not much else to offer here, other than that they sound sort of like (very) early Marduk more than you’d expect – as in the infamous “Fuck Me…” EP and Dark Endless. But is that a bad thing?

Hell, those tend to be the two I pull out most often from said band’s discography…doubt I’m the only one.

What’s interesting is that Marduk’s frontman for those early releases, Andreas Axelsson? Was also frontman for Edge of Sanity. But despite sounding a hell of a lot like him, our frontman in Darkified wasn’t in either band…even though his four stringer and drummer would be. Go figure…

Either way. Sounds like the earliest Marduk offerings, and more than just a little.

Good by me.

Vaeok – S/T (W.T.C.Productions) (January 7)

Colorado, of all places, delivers this overdramatic, bombastic and more than just a little symphonically inclined black/death act.

There are elements that suggest Watain, others that say Gorgoroth, and still others that positively scream symphonic (all the keyboard sampled chanting on “terricula nox”, some of the overprocessed business at the choruses of “atrox” and “malaesthete”), but it never feels quite so obtrusive as such things tend to get with overrated crap like Dimmu or Emperor. I guess you could draw some lines to acts like Therion, but even they’re far more dependent on a front and center keyboard than what you’ll hear herein.

But thankfully, things aren’t as pointedly obnoxious as all that would seem to suggest. Things get a lot more subdued and confined to multitracked guitars for the excellent album closer “souls void”, which is far and away the best thing on this brief EP.

Nothing here to turn up the nose in disgust at, but “souls void” is nearly worth the price of admission right there, and one hopes the band would continue more down that road than wherever the rest of this seems to be pointing.

Serpent Noir – Death Clan OD (W.T.C.Productions) (February 7)

What do you get when you cross overly polished, “mainstream” (in genre terms) black/death with “occult black metal” pretensions?

That’s right, this Greek act pulls in former Therion lyricist Thomas Karlsson to spruce up their polished generica, so you get the appropriate degree of ooga-booga esoterica to properly garnish this cheese sandwich. Yay?

At least some of the solos and lead lines feel appropriately melodic, as is so often the Greek black metal scene’s wont…just don’t be expecting something good like Rotting Christ here.

Unless you’re looking to call up some angelic forces or something just for shits and giggles, you know, have a snack and chat about the weather or what have you, this one’s pretty damn forgettable.

Sargeist – Death Veneration (W.T.C.Productions) (December 24)

EP from the venerable Horna guitarist’s equally top notch side project.

We’d covered their The Rebirth of a Cursed ExistenceFeeding The Crawling Shadows and Unbound, and there’s been precious little not to love about these melodic, guitar driven but funereally sad Finnish black metal slices of death, decadence and decline.

Suffice to say, nothing whatsoever has changed herein to dissuade that assessment.

Keep that flag flying. Due Hails!