SHADES OF BLACK: NORDJEVEL, SORROW PLAGUES, LEBENSNACHT, VIRVEL AV MORKERHATET, MALOKARPATAN, INTEGRITY
Once again I’ve collected newly discovered music that could be considered shades and phases of black metal. Unfortunately, on this Sunday I’m pressed for time, and so, with apologies to the bands (who are probably the only people who might actually read my drivel instead of skipping right to the streams), I’m going to have to truncate my review commentary. Somehow, you’ll have to take in the music without me detailing for you what you’re hearing.
I’m not sure how Nordjevel eluded my hawklike gaze. Their self-titled debut album has already been released by Osmose Productions, with several song streams preceding it, yet I only found out about the band and the album a few days ago.
The band includes vocalist Doedsadmiral from Svartelder, guitarist/bassist Nord, and drummer extraordinaire Fredrik Widigs from Marduk, and holy shit… the songs I’ve now heard (fewer than half of what’s on the album) are goddamn scorching. If you happen to have flame-resistant underwear, I recommend you gear up to protect your loins from this nuclear blast front.
Below are the songs I’ve heard, because they’re all streaming on YouTube and Soundcloud: “Djevelen i Nord”, which features Nagash of Troll as a guest vocalist; “Denne Tidløse Krigsdom”; “Norges Sorte Himmel”, also with Nagash on guest vocals and Archaon of 1349 on lead guitar, and “Det Ror Og Ror”.
P.S. I discovered shortly before launching this post that the entire album is available for streaming here.
From Nordjevel I’m taking a sharp turn with this next music. It comes from the self-titled debut album by a UK one-man outfit (David Lovejoy) named Sorrow Plagues. At the moment, two songs are available on Bandcamp (“Fade” and “Aspirations”), but the album releases tomorrow, and I assume it will all be streamable then.
The songs marry soaring, shimmering, heartswelling (or heartbreaking) keyboard melodies with the rapid rumble of blasting percussion, piercing guitar leads, and skin-flaying vocals. I hope the marriage lasts.
P.S. Once again, shortly before publishing this post I discovered that the entire album went up for streaming yesterday at this location.
On February 20 Naturmacht Productions will release the fourth album by the formerly one-man German band named Lebensnacht (on this album Robert Brockmann is now joined by his Sado Sathanas bandmate, drummer Martin “Lord Skull” Krell). The album’s name is Raging Storm of Apocalypse.
I found two songs from the album on Bandcamp — “Frostbitten Ashlands” and “The Gate Has Opened”. It’s forbidding, predatory, often intense music, but with dark, distortion-draped melodies that prove to be seductive. “The Gate Has Opened”, in particular, is a real ripper.
VIRVEL AV MORKERHATET
Virvel Av Morkerhatet is a Ukrainian band whose second album Metamorphopsia was released last month by Italy’s Avantgarde Music. I was attracted to the album not only by a history of good music from this label but also by that eye-catching cover art (which still isn’t as crazy as the music)
Sad to say, I haven’t yet listened to the entire album, but feel compelled to mention it now for fear I won’t get around to writing a more thorough review after I’ve finished listening.
Based on what I’ve heard so far, Metamorphopsia is strange, dissonant, unsettling, highly creative music full of racing, whirling, vibrato guitar derangement that pierces through rolling waves of distortion that almost tend to submerge the drums and bass and even the utterly savage vocals.
The production is intentionally odd — certain sounds surface and settle rapidly (along with creepy vocal samples and snatches of eerie keyboard ambience). When the drums do boom through the storm, for example, they sound like bombs falling.
But there are some gripping melodies in the songs — actually, I’m finding everything about this gripping, including the manifold surprises that seem to lie in wait around every hair-pin curve (including clean vocals and a few guitar bits that sound like saxophones). For adventurous listeners, this is well worth your time.
I learned of this next album from my friend “B” of the Siberian band Station Dysthymia (among others). The record’s name is Stridžie dni (which seems to mean “the witching days”) and it’s the debut album by the Slovakian band Malokarpatan.
The album, released last fall, is described as “a celebration of the countryside in Western Slovakia, with all its grotesque myths and lore.” All the lyrics were “written in local dialect and they mostly deal with folklore legends based on rural witchcraft, drunkenness and also national pride.”
In listening to this album you do sometimes get a sense that you’ve been transported into a world of fairy tales made real — the frightening kind of tales. The songs are rough, raw, highly distorted, heavy as hell, and hard to pin down in simple genre terms. They storm, they rock, they dance like dervishes, they crawl like dying soldiers.
They include electrifying flashes of classic heavy rock riffs; piercing, arena-ready soloing; first-wave black metal brawling; doomy dirges; slow, mesmerizing instrumental interludes; trumpet fanfares; flickering flute flourishes; thoroughly bestial vocals (and impassioned clean ones); and a lot more (I’d be here all day if I tried to catalog everything).
Jump to the second song and you’ll see what I mean. If that grabs you, you’ve got a a hell of a surprising ride ahead of you.
This final collection of songs in this post isn’t brand new, unlike most everything else assembled here. But it’s new to me, and it quickly lit a bonfire under the reptile part of my brain and left me stupefied.
The songs were created by Dwid Hellion and Rob Orr of the legendary Integrity (a band who, unlike many others, has truly earned that adjective). I stumbled across the songs because they recently showed up on the Bandcamp page of Hellion’s Holy Terror record label.
As collected there, it’s a two-song release named Black Heksen Rise. A four-track EP by the same name was released by A389 Recordings early last year, which contains versions of the same two songs (with one of them fractured into two fragments and the other missing the searing start that comes on the Holy Terror version), along with a cover of a song originally recorded by the Japanese punk band Zouo.
To further complicate the history, it looks like an earlier version of this EP appeared as a 7″ release by Indie Recordings in 2013, and versions of the same two songs appeared even earlier on a three-way split (also named Black Heksen Rise) released in 2011 by Thirty Days of Night Records.
Anyway, both tracks are well worth having; I got them as soon as I finished listening the first time. “Black Heksen Rise” is damned intense, damned unpredictable, and damned transfixing, with some incredible guitar soloing and a juxtaposition of atmospheric melody, piledriving beatdowns capable of fracturing concrete, and a thoroughly ravaging finish.
The haunted beginning of “Waiting for the Sun” could hardly be more surprising after that first track, with its acoustic strumming, ghostly vocals; and distorted howls of wind. But then it erupts in hardcore fury, laced with more veins of guitar gold to go along with Hellion’s maniacal outpouring of vocal violence (and clean rock vocals, which come in when the song slows into head-wrecking steamroller mode).
I just listened to that Nordjevel record yesterday – what a ripper! It’s my favorite new record I’ve heard so far in 2016.
So glad I finally figured out that it exists!
I too just heard this record yesterday and it floored me from the first to the last.
I can’t wait to dig into it a second time.
I started drooling for it a few months ago, but I haven’t had a chance to hear the album yet, and I unfortunately didn’t think of tipping you off. I’ll throw another Norwegian act your way right here instead.
Nifrost hails from the same county as Windir, Vreid, Mistur et al., and plays within the same “sogna-metal” frames. Without any rip-off’s though.
They released their debut full length Motvind (Headwind) the day after Nordjevel was released, and I think it sounds excellent!
Thanks for the tip!
These Shades of Black posts always affirm why I love black metal so much. Everything here is so good.
Glad you enjoyed these picks.
Damn, Naturmacht continues to have an impeccable run. Thanks for the reminder about Nordjevel too.
Nordjevel sounds awesome, the Metamorphopsia artwork is badass!
VIRVEL AV MORKERHATET 😛
Always funny when foreign bands have names in “almost norwegian”
its like someone took “swirl of dark hatred” and put it into a very bad online translator