Sep 302011

In these SHORT BUT SWEET posts, we focus mainly on releases that are shorter than full-length albums. Today, I’ve got two gems for you, the kind of sparkling indigo jewels that wide-eyed, doomed innocents find in fairy tales shortly before something horrific happens to them. For us, of course, it’s just pure, evil pleasure.

The first gem is an EP from a three-man Swedish band called Morbrand, which is already the subject of giant, infernal, wasp-like buzz. The second is a split by two Polish bands whose hands are dripping with the black slick of blood on a moonless night — Infernal War and Kriesgsmaschine.

MORDBRAND: NECROPSYCHOTIC

Mordbrand has been drawing attention, like honey draws flies, based in part on the presence of Per Boder — who fronted an early and well-regarded Swedish death metal band called God Macabre (their debut album, The Winterlong, appeared in 1993). After a 20-year hiatus from recorded music, Boder has returned, and the six-song EP he and bandmates Björn Larsson (guitars, bass) and Johan Rudberg (drums) is a powerful return indeed.

Following a split release with Evoke in 2010, Necropsychotic has been garnering praise from early reviews, including a score of 8 in the current issue of DECIBEL, whose reviewer called the EP “a mandatory pickup”. Allow me to add NCS to the list of admirers.

My tastes (or prejudices, if you prefer) have been fully disclosed in the past: There are damned few genres of metal that mean as much to me as old-school Swedish death. Consequently, I was predisposed to fall in lust with Necropsychotic, and my objectivity may be in question. Okay, you’re right, my objectivity has been fucked and left for dead when it comes to this kind of music.

But it’s not completely dead. There’s enough breath left in the objective part of me to say that Morbrand not only fully embraces and mercilessly channels the punk-fed, d-beat blasted, old school of Swedish death metal, they make the music sound vibrant and fresh (sort of like a fresh corpse).

Boder’s voice is distinctively vicious, the throaty roars coming not from the vocal chords, and not from the gut, but from somewhere in between, or perhaps some parallel dimension populated by undead souls that will not leave their putrifying bodies. The massive riffs alternately groan, growl, and gallop ahead with feral energy, and they inject these ghoulish songs with an illegal number of hooks. If you’re like me, you’ll want to come back to this EP repeatedly after you’ve heard it for the first time. Here’s a sample — a song called “The Fall of Flesh”:

[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/04_Mordbrand_The_Fall_of_Flesh.mp3|titles=Mordbrand – The Fall of Flesh]

Necropsychotic was released on September 6 by Deathgasm Records. You can buy a digital download of it from MetalHits or Metal Crypt for $4.99, and Morbrand gave recently signed with Chaos Records for release of the EP on vinyl. Here are links for more info about Mordbrand:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mordbrand/121721747901195
http://www.myspace.com/mordbrand

INFERNAL WAR AND KRIEGSMASCHINE: TRANSFIGURATIONS

The perfectly named Malignant Voices record label released this five-song split in 2010. I discovered it only recently through a wonderful black metal mixtape called Black Celebration #1 that Cosmo Lee compiled for Invisible Oranges in mid-July (which can still be downloaded here). The split contains three songs by Infernal War and two by Kriegsmaschine; both bands are from Poland.

Infernal War appears to have been kicking around since 1997, with a couple of studio albums, a couple of EPs, and a handful of splits to their credit. What I know of their music comes down entirely to the three songs on Transfigurations. They’re infernally majestic, with a Behemoth-like take on black metal. When they ramp up to full speed, run for cover. Here’s “Primal Degradation” (man, am I hooked on this song):

[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/01-Primal-Degradation.mp3|titles=Infernal War – Primal Degradation]

Kriegsmaschine is of more recent vintage, with a formation date of 2002. According to Metal Archives, they released a debut album in 2005 called Altered States of Divinity, plus assorted EPs, demo’s, and splits, including this one. I’m very tempted to accumulate all of it, because the two Kroegsmaschine songs on the Transfigurations split are so tremendously good.

This is black metal of a somewhat different vein from the one mined by Infernal War. The music is a roaring wall of radioactive guitars and crashing drums, but the music is shot through with convulsive rhythms and subtle melodies. There are some truly massive bass riffs in these songs, drumming that’s as partial to d-beats as to blast-beats, and lead guitars that chime, ring, shriek, and squall. The vocals, as in the case of Infernal War, are deep and wolfish.

I am totally slayed by the two Kriegsmaschine songs on Transfiguration. They have brute power but also a haughty grandeur, and a knack for hypnotic, industrial-style pummeling. I’m going to stream both songs for you.

“ONWARD DESTRUDO”

[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/04-Onward-Destrudo.mp3|titles=Kriegsmaschine – Onward Destrudo]

“FEAR AND LOATHING IN GETHSEMANE”

[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/05-Fear-and-Loathing-in-Gethsemane.mp3|titles=Kriegsmaschine – Fear and Loathing in Gethsemane]

You can stream all of the tracks on Transfiguration at this location.

20 Responses to “SHORT BUT SWEET: MORDBRAND, INFERNAL WAR, AND KRIEGSMASCHINE”

  1. Trollfiend says:

    ME GUSTA IST KRIEG

    Seriously, this is some good shit.

    • Islander says:

      Glad you liked it. Big thanks to Cosmo Lee for that BM mixtape, without which I probably never would have found Kriegsmaschine. I’m still making my way though that mix, and there’s lots more good music there.

  2. Black Shuck says:

    The Mordbrand song was one of the most pleasant listens I’ve had in a while.

    If you’re looking to broaden your Infernal War horizons, I would recommend their first full-length, Terrorfront. It’s pretty much a Marduk-esque blastfest from start to finish, with some very catchy choruses.

    And thanks for pointing me towards the Invisible Oranges mixtape. I need more black metal in my life. 🙂

    • Trollfiend says:

      Me too!

    • Islander says:

      Sounds good. Have to get that. Marduk was the other band who popped into my head, besides Behemoth, when I listened to the Infernal War part of this split.

      • Black Shuck says:

        A warning that I forgot to mention: There’s some quasi-NSBM stuff in their lyrics, although I don’t think they’re an NSBM band. So if that makes you uncomfortable, you might want to reconsider.

        • Islander says:

          Thanks for the warning. I’ll have to investigate this further. I go back and forth in my mind about this kind of issue. For example, though I find Varg’s writings detestable, I’ve bought Burzum albums within the last year. I’ve seen people suggest that one way to deal with the issue is to just rip off music of artists like Varg so he doesn’t get the money, but that seems hypocritical to me — you’re still listening to the music when you do that. I guess I feel that there’s a separation between the artist as a person and the artistic creation. Lots of people who are pretty fucking scummy in their personal lives and beliefs are very good actors, painters, musicians, etc. But on the other hand I’m not sure that separation works very well if a musician’s lyrics express (in a serious way) despicable beliefs.

        • Islander says:

          P.S. Does listening to metal with despicable, scummy lyrics matter if you can’t make out the words? 🙂

          • Black Shuck says:

            Their lyrics are pretty anti-Christian, but they tend to emphasize the “Jewishness” of Jesus as they sing about, you know, killing him. They claim they’re against “Judeo-Christianity”, so it could be seen as trying to be all-encompassing in their hatred of religion as a whole, but then there’s the song called “The Grand Intolerance Manifestation.” which has a few lines that seem racist/supremacist. Here’s their Metal Archives page. Decide for yourself: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Infernal_War/14386

            As for indecipherable words concealing scummy lyrics, I really like the Cannibal Corpse song, “Necropedophile”. I never want to know the lyrics to that song.

          • Black Shuck says:

            Although I guess you said “serious” lyrics, and Cannibal Corpse lyrics are anything but serious.

            I dunno. I mean, I listen to Satanic music without being a Satanist, and even overtly anti-Christian music without being anti-religious. So, in theory, I should be able to listen to NSBM artists without being turned off by their beliefs. But on the other hand, their lyrics are so *detestable*. And actually, I think not being able to understand the lyrics does have something to do with it, because when I first heard Infernal War, I just saw them as an anti-Christian black metal band, and had no problem listening to them. And then I read their lyrics. I still listen to them on occasion, because I like their music. But I try to ignore their lyrics. I can’t figure out whether that’s wrong or not.

  3. Trollfiend says:

    Nobody thinks of Slayer as being Neo-Nazi, even with songs like Angel of Death and Crooked Cross. I think the line is drawn between artists who treat certain subjects as lyrical fodder and those who believe in the message they’re sending. It’s one thing to sing about the horrors of the Holocaust…. it’s another to support it as a good idea.

    • Black Shuck says:

      Here’s an interview with the frontman where he says that “our social and political beliefs are strictly connected with NS/WP” (national socialism/white power) and uses the perjorative “Jew.S.A.” to refer to the United States, but also claims that Infernal War is not a political/NSBM band, and that they try not to put their beliefs into their music. So, I guess the questions I have are: Are those lyrics on the Metal Archives page I posted up there truly anti-Semitic, or just trying to include the “Judeo” part of Judeo-Christianity? And if they’re not anti-Semitic, yet the band members are known to be, is it a weasel thing to ignore that and go “well, they’re pretty awful as people, but they make good music, so I’ll ignore it” (which is what I do when I listen to Infernal War)? I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts on this.

      Link to the interview: http://www.infernalfields.com/infernalwar.html

    • Black Shuck says:

      Also, Islander mentioned Burzum up there, and I know Metal Sucks wrote a piece on Varg Vikernes’ beliefs after that ridiculous thing he wrote after the bombing/shooting in Norway. It’s strange, but although I don’t really like Burzum’s music, I have listened to it in the past, had no problem with it, and even now have no problem with the idea of people listening to it, even though I know full well that Varg Vikernes is a racist, murderer, and arsonist. And Euronymous, from what I’ve read about him, and from interviews he’s done, was a deranged lunatic. But I still see him as the best part of Mayhem, and think that his riffwriting is what made De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas the best black metal album ever recorded. I guess the reason why Infernal War makes me a little more uncomfortable is that I think their lyrics put a toe over the line that you mentioned, Trollfiend.

      • SurgicalBrute says:

        Well with bands like Burzum, Dissection (accessory to murder), and even Emperor (Faust was convicted of murder) you really can make a seperation between the music and the person. Even if they are assholes, the music itself isnt reflecting their beliefs. If youre going to avoid the music because the people behind it are scumbags you’re going to find yourself with very little to listen to (or read, or watch).

        As far as Infernal War goes. I would check the lyrics in the other songs. A band that is preaching NS beliefs in their music isnt going to restrict it to one song. Its going to be prevalent in all their music to a certain extent.

        It all comes down to personal boundries….I tend to avoid NSBM bands myself. On the other hand Its very rarely blatant, in-your-face racism. As long as you know your own mind and can acknowledge that its a crap philosophy. I dont see it as any more of an issue than listening to a band that believes in theistic satanism..

        • Trollfiend says:

          Interestingly (at least to me), every single metal artist it has been my good fortune to meet has been at worst merely friendly and at best the kind of person who would give you their last $500 for bail money no questions asked…regardless of how depraved, violent, disturbing, sick, and/or hate-filled their music happened to be. I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually advocated with any kind of conviction the practice of killing, fucking, and then eating babies (just as an off-the-top-of-my-head example). It’s a form of artistic expression.

          As far as the anti-Christian stance of a lot of bands…just to play Devil’s advocate (ha ha ) for a second…if you look at places like Norway where this ‘movement’ came from…. Norway has Christianity as an OFFICIAL religion. So I might argue that it’s a sort of kickback against the system. There’s context, in other words, it’s not just raging xenophobia. I personally have no issue listening to Satanic bands as “true” or “theistic” Satanism is merely hedonistic and self-serving as opposed to an actual attempt at mass-murdering every living Christian. And if I thought a Satanic band actually believed that, I probably wouldn’t listen to them either.

          • Trollfiend says:

            Crap, I forgot the bit I was going to put about Varg Vikernes… when I was first listening to Burzum I was blissfully unaware of the shit that had gone down (I’m blissfully unaware of a lot of things, like for example as I’m typing this I am slowly realizing that there is a baby wearing a thick luxurious mat of dog hair slithering across the floor toward me) and so I was pretty into it. After I found out, my interest in his music waned and mostly died out. BUT, if I’m being honest… it was finding out that he advocated certain aspects of National Socialism that turned me off, and NOT the murder or Euronymus OR the church burnings. Now that I think about it, that’s kind of hypocritical of me, but hey, that’s where my line gets drawn. And I still fucking LOVE Emperor, even though Faust is a homophobe and a murderer…yeah, I have no glib justification for that one. Like The Brute says, it’s a matter of separating the music from the asshole.

  4. SurgicalBrute says:

    ““true” or “theistic” Satanism is merely hedonistic and self-serving as opposed to an actual attempt at mass-murdering every living Christian”

    True, but depending on the particular subsect, part of that hedonistic expression is the belief that its okay to cause harm through the working of spells. In other words, even if theyre not physically violent, its not exactly a religion of rainbows and unicorns.

    “So I might argue that it’s a sort of kickback against the system.”

    You could also argue that many followers of NS are raging against societies they feel have belittled or repressed their own cultures. Im sure we could both list off tons of folk/pagan bands that are under the NS label. Many of them arent singing about destroying others so much as singing about pride in their own heritage.

    Im not trying to argue for NS ideals…like I said I avoid most of those bands like the plague. The thing is Lovecraft was a racist, but I love his stories (and he isnt subtle in his work either). Orson Scott Card is very anti-homosexuality if not an outright homophobe, but many people enjoyed Enders Game. Stephanie Meyer is a total morman nutter, but Im sure we all have someone in our lives whose read those damn Twilight books. Wagner was a racist, but hes now considered one of the greatest composers ever.

    There really isnt a right or wrong answer to this..if you look hard enough at someone you can find something that will rub you wrong. The only real question is if it crosses your own personal line or not

  5. Trollfiend says:

    Oh, you just HAD to drag my beloved HPL into this, didn’t you, you damn fascist skinhead bastard.

    But seriously, you make some good points, especially about NS bands “raging against societies they feel have belittled or repressed their own cultures”. And in fact it’s knee-jerk liberalism on my part that assumes that anyone who self identifies as a member of that group is an avid supporter of ethnic cleansing. I guess when it comes down to it, it’s like you say: it’s a matter of whether it crosses your own personal line or not.

    Thankfully I have yet to come across a self-proclaimed NS band that was so amazingly talented that it was any kind of issue as to whether I wanted to listen to their music or not. I find it much easier just to avoid the whole uncomfortable issue.

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