I’ve never met Johan Hegg, but I sure would like to. As metal celebrities go, he seems like an especially interesting, fun-loving guy. On the one hand, he is the badass face and voice of “Viking metal” (and I put those words in quotes to acknowledge the intellectual debate over whether that really is a definable genre of music). On the other hand, he cruises around in convertibles with muppets. And when he smiles, that warrior persona just melts away like ice in the summertime.
Two videos have just premiered in which Johan Hegg plays a starring role, and they show both sides of his personality — one from Amon Amarth, and one from Audrey Horne.
Yesterday Bloody-Disgusting premiered a video for the song “Deceiver Of The Gods” from Amon Amarth’s latest album of the same name. It includes clips from a forthcoming film, Northmen – A Viking Saga, which stars Tom Hopper, Ryan Kwanten, Ken Duken — and Johan Hegg in the role of Valli.
I was going to include this new video by Dominia from St. Petersburg, Russia, in a big Saturday round-up of new song and video premieres, but it’s just so damned cool that I decided not to wait.
The song featured in the video is “Everyone Else” and it appears on the band’s new album Theophania, which was released in Russia earlier this month and will be coming to the US later this year.
The song is a fusing together of doom, gothic metal, and melodic death metal that will sink deep roots in your head after only one listen. The rhythm section is heavy as lead, Anton Rosa’s growls are bestial but entirely understandable, and Casper Rishko’s lead violin performance is, as always, mesmerizing.
(Andy Synn reviews the new seventh album by Germany’s Dark Fortress.)
Quite often I see the music of Dark Fortress categorized as “Melodic Black Metal”, and while it is strongly, and darkly, melodic, and it’s definitely Black Metal… I still feel like that particular classification is something of a misnomer.
I don’t know about you, but when I think “Melodic Black Metal”, my mind immediately goes to the masterful Dissection and all their ilk, and while the earliest Dark Fortress albums certainly fell in line with that style, their third album, 2004’s Stab Wounds, signified the beginning of a major stylistic shift, one that has, over the years since, led the band into deeper, darker waters.
The addition of Morean on vocals for 2008’s Eidolon seemed to be the final piece of the puzzle necessary for the band to fully manifest their new-born identity, one of fire and anguish and boundless creative freedom, and paved the way for the complex and multi-faceted metallic madness of Ylem, perhaps the band’s finest hour thus far.
Venereal Dawn is certainly a spiritual follow-up to Ylem in many ways – indeed, without many of the creative seeds planted by that album much of Venereal Dawn simply would not exist – and yet it is far, far removed from being a simple copy.
Intimately progressive and hauntingly introspective, it is perhaps a less extreme and less technical album than its predecessor, albeit still dripping with black fire and venom, yet it remains just as challenging and creatively ambitious, and always true to the band’s own unorthodox ethos.
Three days ago, in an amazing episode of serendipity (and/or synchronicity — I’m not quite sure of the difference), I listened to three songs in a row by three different bands that blew my socks off (I’m missing other items of clothing as well). The sound of each song is unusual and different from the others, but hearing them all together was an even more remarkable experience because despite their musical differences they all seem to operate on the same wavelength.
I use the word “wavelength” because I can’t think of a better word at the moment. All the songs are mainly slow or mid-paced, they all generate a very dark atmosphere, and they all become quite intense in their bleakness.
So, here are the three songs in the order in which I heard them. If you’re willing to go exploring with me, I recommend you listen to all three back-to-back. (I feel like a DJ.)
I learned of this band through a recommendation by Kim Kelly ( to whom I bow in gratitude). Their name is Atomikylä, and their members consist of people from Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, which may give you a clue about what you’re about to hear — but that’s all it is, a clue.
(Comrade Aleks, our doom-devoted interviewer from Russia, brings us this conversation with Andrej Ktalj of Italy’s A Day In Venice.)
A Day In Venice was founded as Narcotic Luxuria by the painter, poet, and musician Andrej Kralj as a solo project, later joined by the drummer Paolo Marchesich (Sinestesia) and the keyboard player Alberto Bravin (Sinestesia) in 2003. They performed live shows at festivals and venues in Northern Italy, and released a 5-track demo and then a split in late 2004.
But all that matters now is a full-length self-titled work of A Day In Venice – the members of the project finished it about three months ago, and it’s still fresh and hot. If you have few minutes, then try and taste these picturesque and ugly views of Venice from a gothic doom perspective.
(Austin Weber provides the following introduction to our premiere of a song by Germany’s Under the Pledge of Secrecy.)
I was made aware of Under The Pledge Of Secrecy quite recently, and at just the right time it seems, as this talented German band have a new album, Black Hole Mass Evolution, coming very soon. I heard their last album, The Convoluted Line, described to me as sounding like Between The Buried And Me stripped down to their early primal aggressive style, and while I hear that, I would say they are also equal parts early Dillinger Escape Plan and early The Red Chord. Their Facebook and Soundcloud describes them as experimental grind metal, and those three intertwined certainly encompass the feel and flow of their music.
This is high-octane musical rabies, a convoluted yet precise wrecking ball of grind and death metal — shot through with a strong melodic counterbalance. Their music has always eclectically drawn from a wide swathe of sounds, though this new album embraces a greater death metal focus — a trait inherent in the rampaging track “The One Eyed God Prophecy” that we are premiering today.
The first few seconds bring the triumphant evil of Behemoth to mind, until the song ignites into a white-hot fury of thunderous roars, a conveyor-belt approach of frenzied riff after frenzied riff, bustling bouncy bass lines that exhibit a keen presence in the mix, and lightning-fast drumming interlocking with the guitars in pure rhythmic bliss. A multitude of grind bursts ratchet the intensity ever higher, feeding the frenzy and fire of the song’s scorching death metal primacy. After the pummeling, the track fades out into a section that sounds like a horror film score, an effective slip back into the abyss.
From the Vastland began life as the one-man project of an Iranian multi-instrumentalist known as Sina, following the end of his involvement in the prolific Iranian black metal band Sorg Innkallelse. From the Vastland’s debut album, Darkness vs Light, The Perpetual Battle, was released in 2011. That was followed by Kamarikan in 2013 (which we reviewed here), and then by a striking live performance that same year at Oslo’s Inferno Festival (reviewed here), where Sina was joined onstage by a such luminaries as Thor Anders “Destruchtor” Myhren (Myrkskog, Zyklon, Morbid Angel) on second guitar, André “Tjalve” Kvebek (Pantheon I, Den Saakaldte, Horizon Ablaze) on bass, and Vegard “Vyl” Larsen (Keep Of Kalessin) on drums.
From the Vastland has now recorded a third album — entitled Temple of Daevas – and it’s scheduled for release by Non Serviam Records on October 6, 2014. For the new album Sina again composed all the songs, performed lead vocals, and laid down the guitar tracks. He was joined in the recording by Vyl on drums, Tjalve on bass, and by Terje Olsen (Chton, Khonsu) as a guest vocalist for backing vocals.
Earlier this month we had the pleasure of premiering (here) a stream of one of the new album tracks, “Wrath of Aeshma”, and today we bring you another one: “Kamak”.
This morning I spotted three new album covers that grabbed my attention, not only because the cover art in each case is very cool, but also because the bands are, too. In the first two instances, we don’t have music yet, though we do in the third case.
We’ve written many times about this fine Icelandic band, most recently in Gemma Alexander’s review of their 90-minute set at this year’s Eistnaflug festival, and so I was especially excited to see the artwork you’re now looking at, because it’s a harbinger of a new Skálmöld album.
The new album, MEÐ VÆTTUM, will be released by Napalm Records later this year. The cover art was created by Ásgeir Jón Ásgeirsson, whose website is here and who also made the cover art for the band’s last album, Börn Loka. I don’t have any of the new music to share with you at this point, but I’m sure we’ll be featuring it as soon as the songs begin to appear. Here’s the staggered release schedule for the album:
Blood Mantra, the fantastic new album by Poland’s Decapitated, will be released in 8-10 days from now, depending on where you live. Our man Andy Synn has reviewed it for us (here), writing that it “can be appreciated just as much for its cerebral prowess as its sheer physical intensity.” “It hits as hard and as fast as any Death Metal album you might care to mention, with Vogg’s mind-bending guitar work and Rafal’s cannibalistic bark (not to mention new drummer Mlody’s weapons-grade performance behind the drum kit) able to go toe-to-toe with the best of them.” And not long ago the band premiered the new album’s title track in the form of a lyric video — which you can see and hear right after the jump.
Blood Mantra is coming our way from Nuclear Blast… on September 26 (EU), September 29 (EU), and September 30 (NA). CDs, vinyls, and assorted bundles are available for order here. Decapitated will be accompanying GWAR and American Sharks on a U.S. tour this fall — the schedule appears after “Blood Mantra” — which you will hear next…
I originally intended to write about only one song from this album, as part of a collection of three striking songs from different bands that I heard back-to back a few days ago. I’m still going to do that — later today in fact — but after I made my way through the rest of this album I felt compelled to write about the album as a whole. Why?
Because Deathsteps To Oblivion is one of the most apocalyptically crushing albums I’ve heard all year, and also one of the most exotic — it really doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard. And for an album that’s terrifyingly bone-crushing, it’s also ridiculously addictive.
Deathsteps To Oblivion is the third album by a band from Brisbane, Australia named The Dead. It’s my first exposure to their music, so I’m not competent to compare this new one to what has come before. But if what preceded Deathsteps is in this same collapsed and cut-down vein, I want to hear it.