Twin Obscenity—For Blood, Honour and Soil (1998)

Twin Obscenity—For Blood, Honour and Soil (1998)

Twin Obscenity—For Blood, Honour and Soil (1998)

Details

Recorded and mixed at Sound Suite Studio from May to June 1998. Produced by Atle Wiig, Knut Naesje and Jo Arlid Toennessen. Engineered by Terje Refsnes. Mixed by Terje Refsnes and Twin Obsenity. Mastered at DMS, Marl, Germany.

Encyclopedia Metallum

Band

  • Atle Wiig—Vocals and guitars
  • Jo Arlid Toennessen—Bass
  • Knut Naesje—Drums

Guest musicians

  • Mona Undheim Skottene—Keyboards and vocals
  • Alexander Twiss—Guitars

Tracks

  1. In glorious strife
  2. The usurper’s throne
  3. For blood, honour and soil
  4. Upon the morning field
  5. The wanderer
  6. Riders of the Imperial guard
  7. The thrice-damned legions
  8. The 11th hour
  9. Lain to rest by the sword

Review

Well, here it is… four and a quarter years after I began this project I’m staring at the cover of the final CD: For Blood, Honour and Soil the second of three albums by Norwegian black/pagan/death metallers Twin Obscenity.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this album isn’t your usual black metal release. It’s strangely melodic, and has echoes of Celtic Frost’s early work, with avante garde flourishes and female vocals weaving in and out of the riffs and solos. The guitars are strummed quickly, the drums beat and crash at a m, and the bass rumbles beneath it all. The album is dark but grand, melodic but atonal in places (there are a few solos like this), and keyboards gentle tinkle a haunting melody.

Melodic black metal isn’t really my thing, so to me this isn’t a great album, but it is played with passion and conviction. I can see why someone might really enjoy this.

Conclusion

I had hoped for an outstanding album to be my last review of this collection of CDs. But I guess you can’t have everything (I mean, where would you put it!—Steven Wright). If I was played my albums on random and this one came on then I certainly wouldn’t skip it, I’m just not certain that I’d go hunt it out.

Review score: 70%

Second Shadow—Line Up (Execution Style) (2005)

Second Shadow—Line Up (Execution Style) (2005)

Second Shadow—Line Up (Execution Style) (2005)

Details

Recorded by Hans Eidsgard at Jailhouse Studios, Vennesla, Norway in June 2005. Mixed by Hans Eidsgard and Second Shadow. Produced by Second Shadow.

Band

  • Jon Vassbø—Vocals
  • Preben Mosfjell—Guitars
  • Ramses Argento—Bass guitar
  • Stig Reinhardtsen—Drums

Tracks

  1. Torture
  2. Line up (execution style)
  3. Murder v2.0
  4. Third floor malevolence
  5. Hands of murder
  6. Mind devoured

Review

This six track EP from Norway’s Second Shadow represents their only official release, other than a three track demo in 2004. Unlike many bands their EP doesn’t rework or try to improve any of the tracks on the demo.

Their sound reminds me very much of the Florida death metal scene from the mid- to late-90s. Think: Morbid Angel, Death, and especially Obituary. There is a meatiness to the guitar tone, the bass guitar lurks just beneath the guitars, drums and cymbals rattle alongside, and Vassbø growls away in the foreground.

Like many death metal albums I’ve listened to this is quite formulaic. There’s not much that is new. They don’t seem to bring anything particularly unique on the genre. It’s solid, listenable, but probably quite disposable death metal.

Conclusion

Despite sounding a bit like Obituary-wannabes I rather enjoyed this short slab of Norwegian death metal. If it came on, I certainly wouldn’t switch it off.

One thing about this album to note, however, is that it really does sound much better played loudly. The way metal is supposed to be listened to, right?

Review score: 70%

Manes—[view] extended play (2006)

Manes—[View] Extended Play

Manes—[View] Extended Play

Details

Tracks 1, 3, 5 and 6 recorded at Godt Selskap Studio, 2005. Remixes by Cordell Klier and DJ Don Tomasso. Limited to 999 copies. Produced by Manes. Mixed and mastered by Emil Sporsheim. Additional mixing by Rune Hoemsnes. Released February 2006 on Code666 Records.

Website | Encyclopaedia Metallum | Facebook | Twitter

Band

  • Asgeir Hatlen—Vocals
  • Tor-Helge Skei—Guitars, Keyboards, Programming
  • Eivind Fjoseide—Guitars
  • Torstein Parelius—Bass
  • Rune Hoemsnes—Drums, Percussion
  • Tor-Arne Helgesen—Drums

Tracks

  1. cinder alley (16 horsepower cover)
  2. terminus rmx [DJ Don Tomaso remix]
  3. the neoflagellata revision
  4. terminus deconstructus [Cordell Klier remix]
  5. knife and kleenex
  6. title [“somewhat inspired by Duran Duran”]
  7. terminus dei profundus [Cordell Klier remix]

Review

Manes started life as a Norwegian black metal band in the 1990s. But to be fair, as far as I can see that’s an almost obligatory starting point for any rock band in Scandinavia. They evolved into what Wikipedia describes as “a hybrid of jazz, trip hop, electronica and metal with clean sung vocals and many progressive overtones.”

The EP opens with a cover of American alternative country band 16 Horsepower’s song “cinder alley”. I haven’t heard the original but I really like this cover, which doesn’t sound at all country. It has more of an alternative rock feel to it — think somewhere in the region of Smashing Pumpkins.

“terminus rmx” is a completely stripped down and remixed version of “Terminus a quo / terminus ad quem” from Volisophe (2003). Every ounce of metal has been removed by DJ Don Tomaso. It actually reminds me a lot of the Rockabye Baby remixes: laid back and gentle. I liked it, but not as much as the original, to be honest.

Next up is the first original track on the EP, “the neoflagellata revision”. It’s a bouncy electronic rock anthem. I really like how the simple keyboard melody weaves its way in and out of the guitars, drums and vocals, like a thread being sewn throughout a garment. About two minutes in the song opens out into a more dance track, that put me in mind of Killing Joke or Crowforce.

“Terminus a quo / terminus ad quem” is treated to another remix by Cordell Klier in “”terminus deconstructus”. This is an even bleaker version of the song. It could be the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

Original track number two, “knife and kleenex” has quite a remixed Depeche Mode feel. It bounds along quite pleasantly, like a train carving through the countryside.

“Title” claims to be “somewhat inspired by Duran Duran”, which is exactly what I thought when I listened to it at first in my car. But like many of the other tracks, there is also a Depeche Mode feel to it — which isn’t surprising given the band’s use of guitars and keyboards. It’s a really good track.

“Terminus a quo / terminus ad quem” remix number three, “terminus dei profundus” also by Cordell Klier is little more than pops and crackles and white noise. It is a profoundly deconstructed metal song, reinterpreted as electronic noise. This is real pop music. It’s not an easy listen, but if you like it do pop it on after listening to The Second Annual Report of Throbbing Gristle (1977) and Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice (1996)

Conclusion

This is a curious EP from Norwegian experimental band Manes. It touches a little on their past, reinterpreted by their present and offers something for the future.

If I was to listen to this EP regularly I expect that I would reorder the tracks: group the covers and new tracks and perhaps even hide the last one, which stands more as an example of art rather than listen-able music.

Review score: 85%

 

Joyless—Wild signs of the end times (2009)

Joyless—Wild signs of the end times (2009)

Joyless—Wild signs of the end times (2009)

Details

This CD contains the first recordings with Joyless, “more or less the metal years of the band, where Forgotten Woods turned into Joyless and Joyless turned from one thing into something else.”

Tracks 1–4 and 7 are taken from Unlimited Hate (1996); tracks 5, 6, and 8 are taken from the Blue in the Face EP (1999); track 9 is not listed in the booklet or on the cover.

Band

  • Thomas Torkelsen — Vocals
  • Reinhardt Toresen — Vocals
  • Olav Berland — Guitars, drums, backing vocals
  • Nylon — Guitars and harmonica
  • Rune Vedaa — Bass

Tracks

  1. (untitled)
  2. Your crystal fragments
  3. Blå melankoli
  4. Inherent emptiness
  5. Room of velvet splendour
  6. Swansmile
  7. (Don’t need) religion (Motörhead cover)
  8. Room of velvet splendour pt. 2
  9. Trilobite

Review

This album was not what I expected. And sometimes that turns out to be a good thing.

Encyclopaedia Metallum categorises Norwegian metallers Joyless as “Black Metal (early), Depressive Rock (later)”. But — at the risk of upsetting Mikael Åkerfeldt who lamented earlier this month that “the metal scene was so conservative” — this doesn’t sound like any black metal album that I’ve ever heard.

Wild signs of the endtimes is a compilation album comprising five tracks from their first album (which  itself contains some songs from Olav, Rune and Thomas’s days as Forgotten Woods), three from their Blue in the face EP (1999), and a surprise track that isn’t listed on the cover.

The opening track “[untitled]’ is a delicate, piano-led instrumental with a vibrato keyboard solo that carries the melody. It reminds me of the kind of music that accompanied 1970s public safety films. It is beautiful and oddly eerie all at once.

“Your crystal fragments” (track 2) has a very lo-fi sound that’s not too far from Pulp or other Britpop-era bands. It has a kind of modern-retro feel.

“Blå melankoli” (track 3) has a more typically metal tempo even if the guitars are not particularly overdriven.

“Inherent emptiness” (track 4) is very bass-heavy, and a world apart from the tracks before it: shouted vocals, and a melody that trundles along in the depths.

The following two tracks, “Room of velvet splendour” and “Swansmile” return to the retro/indie/Britpop sound. The latter is perhaps a little more catchy and features Nylon on harmonica.

Then it’s hair down again, gently nodding while staring at the floor, metalesque riff with a lot of bass in the mix: “(Don’t need) religion”.

“Room of velvet splendour, part 2” sounds like it could be incidental music for the original Italian Job film.

And then the mystery track, “Trilobite” (track 9) keeps the vibe firmly in the sixties with lo-fi guitars and vocals that sounds distorted but in the arty-rather-than-metal way.

Conclusion

All in all, I was surprised by this album. It’s not what I would class as black metal by any stretch of the imagination. But I rather liked it. There’s an honesty to it, and it was really rather fun in places. I could happily listen to this for some years to come.

Review score: 80%

Detritivore—Pakt (2010)

Detritivore—Pakt (2010)

Detritivore—Pakt (2010)

Details

Music by Detritivore. Artwork by Justin Bartlett. Produced by Joakim Jensen. Mastered by James Plotkin.

Band

  • ?

Tracks

  1. Postludium
  2. Lutring
  3. Messe
  4. Undergang
  5. Pakt
  6. Finale

Review

With an album cover like that I expected something dark and black and Norwegian. And it is but not in the conventional sense.

It’s hard to categorise this album. It reminds me in part of Monotheist-era Celtic Frost (it’s the dirty, slow guitar sound) and Justin Broadrick’s post-Godflesh shoegaze/drone outfit Jesu.

This album is certainly not easy to listen to in the background; the album demands your attention, and there’s something really great about that.

So, a quick run down of the tracks:

“Postludium” is initially like an atmospheric soundtrack to the zombie level of one of the Call of Duty games. Then there’s a bouncing distorted riff that puts me in mind of Apocalytica at their most energetic, and distant sung vocals in the style of something from Towering Inferno’s Kadesh (1993).

“Lutring” builds on a distorted, sustained note. This could be something from Bladerunner. The note broadens to a chord. A heavily detuned guitar punches Tom G Warrior-style riffs out through a deeply distorted amplifier. It closes with the sound of planes flying over a post-apocalyptic landscape.

“Messe” offers more weird noises into which a guitar picks out a diatonic pattern beneath a quietly wailing violin. Eventually these are joined by a bass and overdriven guitar. Sustaaaaaaaaiiiiinnnnn,,,

“Undergang” sounds like it was recorded in the London underground. During a flood. It’s a study in white noise without anyone actually saying “Shhhh!”

“Pakt”. The title track. A clean arpeggio opens the track. Bludgeoning riffs. Dischordant chords. All played slowly and deliberately.

“Finale” beings with high-pitched squeals. Out from it emerges a rolling, almost bouncing riff that eventually burns itself out after eight minutes.

Conclusion

This is an unexpected gem. It’s experimental. It’s interesting. It demands attention. I really, really loved this album. Well done… whoever you are.

Review score: 90%

Mayhem—De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

Mayhem—De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

Mayhem—De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

Details

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the first full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Songwriting began as early as 1987, but due to the suicide of vocalist Per “Dead” Ohlin and murder of guitarist Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, the album’s release was delayed until May 1994. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is widely considered one of the most influential black metal albums of all time. Recorded 1992–93 at Grieg Hall in Bergen, Norway. Released on Deathlike Silence Productions.

http://thetruemayhem.com

Band

  • Euronymous (Øystein Aarseth) – Guitar
  • Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg) – Drums
  • Count Grishnackh (Varg Vikernes) – Bass
  • Attila Csihar – Vocals
  • Dead (Per Yngve Ohlin) – Lyrics
  • Blackthorn (Snorre Ruch) – Wrote some of the lyrics and guitar riffs

Tracks

  1. Funeral Fog
  2. Freezing Moon
  3. Cursed in Eternity
  4. Pagan Fears
  5. Life Eternal
  6. From the Dark Past
  7. Buried by Time and Dust
  8. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Review

I was at university in St Andrews, I had just finished my third year I think, when I first became aware of the Norwegian black metal scene. I was a keen reader of Kerrang! magazine, back in the day that it covered more heavy and extreme metal bands than it does now, and was quite shocked by a cover article entitled “Arson… Death… Satanic Ritual—the ugly truth about black metal”. It told the story of Varg Vikernes (aka Count Grishnacht) a member of black metal bands Burzum and Mayhem, who had been arrested and charged with the arson and attempted arson of a number of historic Christian churches in Norway.

As a Christian and as an extreme music fan I was shocked. Typically, as the news spread wider than the metal community, I frequently found myself having to defend my musical genre of choice to more evangelical and charismatic Christian friends of mine who, as this often goes, saw this as proof that all heavy metal and all extreme music was satanic and evil. It’s not, but I don’t think I managed to convince anyone. By the time Varg Vikernes had murdered Mayhem guitarist Øystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous) in August 1993 I had graduated.

Sure, Varg Vikernes, the bassist, may have burned down a number of churches and murdered the guitarist Øystein Aarseth but Euronymous himself wasn’t exactly sweetness and light himself. When Mayhem’s original vocalist and lyricist Per Yngve Ohlin (aka Dead) committed suicide his body was discovered by Aarseth who firsts took photographs of the body before calling the police. One of those photos was later used as the cover of Mayhem’s bootleg album Dawn of the Black Hearts.

Having followed the news, as reported in Kerrang! and Metal Hammer, in the early 90s remarkably this is the first time I’ve listened to Mayhem; I’ve still never listened to any Burzum.

This album, Mayhem’s debut, was released after Euronymous’s death; released the same month that Count Grishnacht was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment for his murder. Despite assurances given to Aarseth’s family that the original bass parts laid down by Vikernes would be recorded again they never were. This album features both convicted murderer and victim. Given the nature of the music it really couldn’t be any other way.

Without a doubt this is a bleak album. Even without the unhappy history surrounding it, this is not a hopeful album.

The lyrics are dark and nihilistic.

  • “All natural life has for a long time ago gone | It’s thin and so beautiful | But also so dark and mysterious” (Funeral fog)
  • “Diabolic shapes float by | Out from the dark | I remember it was here I died | By following the freezing moon” (Freezing moon)
  • “The bloody history from the past | Deceased humans now forgotten | An age of legends and fear | A time now so distant” (Pagan fears)
  • “A dream of another existence | You wish to die | A dream of another world | You pray for death” (Pagan fears)
  • “The eyes – stares so empty | The mouth – screams so silent” (From the dark past)

It’s perhaps no coincidence that there is a lifelessness that exists throughout this album, if that is not too much of a contradiction.

That said there are some really cool riffs on this album, not least “Life eternal” which is possibly my favourite song on the album. It manages to etch out a melody amidst the white noise and gloom. Once you accept the general landscape of emptiness you can listen for moments of unexpected beauty and harmony. Something it would appear the band had little of.

Conclusion

I feel torn listening to this album, knowing something of the sad history surrounding the band. This music obviously emerges from the depths of some very unhappy places. But isn’t that true of a lot of great art, the inspiration for a lot of great and influential music? I guess the question then is: is this great music? Is this influential music?

There is no denying that Euronymous was the founder and leader of the early black metal movement in Norway in the early 90s, and that Mayhem was his creation. Black metal to him had to be Satanic (and by that theistic Satanism rather than the individualism of Anton LaVey), although there is some debate over just how much he lived what he preached.

Whatever the truth he certainly created something that holds a special place in the history of extreme music. This album is to black metal what Slayer’s Reign in Blood is to thrash metal. It doesn’t get much bleaker than this.

It’s just a shame that neither Dead nor Euronymous were around to hear the finished opus.

Review score: 87%

Personal note

As I write this review I am struggling to see; I have my monitors zoomed to 300%. I write this review on the evening of Sunday 10 August, having emerged from hospital on Tuesday afternoon where I was eventually diagnosed with viral meningitis.

For about five uncomfortable days it was suspected that may have had, like my father before me, a sub-arachnoid (brain) haemorrhage. Thankfully, following a lumbar puncture and a couple of brain scans, it was determined that I hadn’t. For the first time in my life I spent a few days praying that I had meningitis! Certainly not something that I had expected ever to wish for.

I am now, thankfully, recovering. I have been free from headaches for two days now, and my eyesight (double vision, flashing, blind spots) is slowly returning day by day.

Perhaps this is an appropriate album to review in such a condition. Perhaps my diminished vision has enabled me to listen to it more attentively.

Anyway… it’s good to be back. Or at least it will be once I can focus…

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcS0CVJ1KPg]

Delirium Bound—Delirium, Dissonance and Death (2010)

Delirium Bound—Delirium, Dissonance and Death (2010)

Delirium Bound—Delirium, Dissonance and Death (2010)

Details

Recorded in Oslo and Asker, 2007–2009. Recorded and engineered by Bjeima and Petter Berntsen. Mixed by Petter Berntsen. Mastered at Strand Studio. Released on Adversum in 2010.

“Kim Fredrik Hauger, Member 001 and Mannevond were official members but Kim Sølve and Bjeima ultimately decided to record the whole album by themselves for practical reasons.”

Encyclopedia Metallum

Band

  • Kim Sølve—Guitars, bass
  • Bjeima—Drums, vocals
  • (Mannevond—Guest vocals on “Death kings”)

Tracks

  1. Panic
  2. Coronated in accidents
  3. God-faced dogs
  4. Delirium bound
  5. Zippermouth
  6. Chiseled from darkness
  7. Death kings
  8. The ominous one
  9. Knifepoint departure

Review

Delirium, Dissonance and Death is the perfect name for this album from Norwegian death-meisters Delirium Bound because dissonance is most definitely at the centre of what they do. Dissonance in music is “a combination of notes that sounds harsh or unpleasant” (Wikipedia), like a minor second. Well, here we have a combination of notes that lasts an entire album. Overall this is like the aural equivalent of sucking sour sweets.

It isn’t your stereotypical black metal album in the vein of (first wave black metal band) Morbid Angel or (second wave) Dimmu Borgir. To my ear this has more in common with early Voivod fused with elements of early Prong and Renewal-era Kreator which was experimental, industrial-influenced and one of my favourite albums of theirs. It’s like a metallized reboot of fellow Norwegians Virus who also delighted in that discordant, avant-garde sound.

This mix on this album is good, it has a fair balance between vocals, guitars, bass and drums. Each instrument is given the space it needs to breathe, although if I had one criticism it would be to lay off the cymbals a bit more. Some tracks have an almost constant white noise of top-end crash. The guitar has a good modern crunch reminiscent of a US hi-gain amp.

Having listened to a lot of Voivod over the years this album has a strangely familiar feel in places and I keep finding myself racking my brains to remember what some passage or riff reminds me of. A one point in the car yesterday I found myself unconsciously singing out loud, “ALL SYSTEMS GO!”

My stand out tracks are “Zippermouth” which opens slowly with a terribly discordant arpeggio but soon morphs into a galloping chug that eventually slows again to a ponderous conclusion; “Death kings” begins with a fabulous sounding distorted palm-muted chug (I could listen to that sound all day!), but soon gives way to a dissonant two-note riff that burrows into your head against a stop-start riff—brilliant!

Conclusion

From start to finish this isn’t always the easiest album to listen to, but that makes it all the more interesting. I love that discordant, dissonant sound. Come on Delirium Bound, I want another album! (Please.)

Review score: 85%

Video