Dec 042016

Rearview Mirror


I’ve already forgotten how I came across Mordicus. It was only a month or so ago, but my memory is porous and things leak out. But I didn’t forget the music. The first song I heard (“A Thorn In Holy Flesh”) wasn’t what I was expecting. It struck me as something very different from much of the death metal from that era that I’ve discovered over the last decade. As I listened to the rest of the album which includes that song, the initial impression was reinforced. And the album is really good.

Mordicus came together in Joensuu, Finland, in 1990. The members were in other bands at the time and were interested in death metal, which was still a new thing. In 1991 they recorded a couple of demos, and then the following year a U.S. label named Skindrill Records released a 7″ Morticus EP named Three Way Dissection. In 1993, after sending promos to different labels, they reached a deal with Thrash Records and recorded their debut album, Dances From Left, which also turned out to be their last album. It was released in 1993. Continue reading »

Nov 272016

Rearview Mirror


For this Sunday’s backward look over our shoulders at metal from yesteryear I’ve picked two songs from a striking album released by Necromantia in 1995.

Necromantia is a hallowed name not just in the circles of Greek black metal but in the global covens of black metal fanatics as well. The band originally came together in the late ’80s, releasing their first demo in 1990 and a debut album called Crossing the Fiery Path in 1993. Their last full-length was 2007’s The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven, but their only new music since then (as far as I can tell) are the two tracks they contributed to their split with Acherontas in 2008.

The two songs you can stream below are the opening tracks to Necromantia’s second album — and probably their best — Scarlet Evil Witching Black. It was originally released by Osmose Productions in 1995, and then Osmose reissued it on CD and gatefold vinyl in 2014, and it’s also now available through the Osmose Bandcamp. Continue reading »

Nov 202016

Rearview Mirror


Welcome to another Sunday edition of our look back at metal from years past — in this particular case, 25 years in the past.

This is one of those one-and-done little gems that I’ve been drawn to in other episodes of this series, a demo that came out in 1991 by an Illinois band named Maimed, who then disappeared without ever recording anything else. And as far as I can tell, none of the band’s four members went on to record anything with any other metal bands either.  (Correction: guitarist Eric Ondo is a member of the Chicago sludge band Pale Horseman and was also in a Chicago band called Couldron.)

Of course there’s a story to be told about why a band capable of recording something this good — and this far ahead of its time — did nothing further. But as curious as I am, I haven’t found any explanation in my google searches. Continue reading »

Nov 132016

Rearview Mirror


(Andy Synn wrote this Sunday’s edition of our regular look-back at metal’s earlier days.)

2016 marks Enslaved’s 25th anniversary as a band, and 22 years since they released their first album, Vikingligr Veldi, which is the subject of today’s post.

Originally released on the now-defunct Deathlike Silence Productions (which was founded by original, and now deceased, Mayhem vocalist Øystein Aarseth, a.k.a. Euronymous, to whom the album is also dedicated), Vikingligr Veldi has recently been given a fresh coat of paint and a spiffy new remaster for its long-awaited release on vinyl.

And although the original version still sounds pretty damn good for its age (yes, it’s a little buzzy in places, and occasionally the keys can get a little overbearing, but there’s a pleasing amount of clarity and depth to the overall sound, and each instrument, including the oft-neglected bass guitar, is given a good amount of room and space to breathe), the remaster just gives the album that extra bit of polish and shine, without detracting from the raw energy or rough and ready sensibilities of the album as a whole. Continue reading »

Oct 302016

Rearview Mirror


More often that not, these Rearview Mirror posts look back at entire albums from metal’s past, but today the subject is just one song and a video that was made for it.

When I saw the video yesterday, the name Maceration rang a faint bell in my addled head, but the more I learned about the band after seeing the video, the more I thought I really didn’t know about them — because with their line-up, I think I would have remembered.

According to Metal-Archives, this Danish band’s first output was an “Official Livetape” that included eight tracks, including covers of songs by Obituary and Death. And then they recorded their only album, released in 1992 under the title A Serenade of Agony. By that point, the band’s line-up on the album included two members of the thrash band Invocator, Jakob Schultz (bass, guitars) and Jacob Hansen (drums, guitars, backing vocals), plus guitarist Lars Bangholt — and Dan Swanö as the session vocalist for the recording. Continue reading »

Oct 092016

Rearview Mirror


The year was 1996. Two years earlier, Mayhem had released De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Emperor had released In the Nightside Eclipse, and Darkthrone had discharged Transilvanian Hunger (following it in ’95 with Panzerfaust, which was the year when Dimmu Borgir released their debut album For all tid). In the wake of all those landmark releases in black metal’s surging second wave, another Norwegian band named Kvist (“twig”) put out their own debut full-length — For kunsten maa vi evig vike.

Unlike the previously mentioned bands, whose fame has persisted to this day, Kvist never put out another release, and at least so far as Metal-Archives discloses, none of its three members (vocalist/bassist Tom Hagen, guitarist/keyboardist Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen, and drummer Endre Bjotveit) went on to release music in any other metal band.

I discovered For kunsten maa vi evig vike only recently. Although I’m not going to make the argument (though I could, without embarrassment) that it should be accorded equal status with the albums named above, it’s very, very good — and it’s the subject of this Sunday’s backward look at metal from the past. Continue reading »

Oct 022016

Rearview Mirror


Yesterday I provided a teaser about the subject of today’s look back into metal’s past. I discovered this band and their two demos from the ’90s through a YouTube link to the song I streamed in yesterday’s post, which popped up in a Facebook conversation between a well-known underground label owner and an even more well-known musician, both of whom have enough gray hair that they may actually have heard these demos around the time of their release.

The band in question is Cryptophobism, and they were from Varna, Bulgaria. Their two demos were released in 1993 and 1998; the first one was a recording of a rehearsal. The one I’m focusing on here is the 1998 demo, which contains four tracks totaling about 15 minutes, one of which also appeared on the rehearsal demo. Continue reading »

Sep 252016

Rearview Mirror


Okay, I know some of you are probably laughing, or trying not to laugh. But I’m serious here. Yes, Tim Lambesis tried to hire a hit man to whack his wife and he’s now in prison for that. And yes, he’s now suing personnel at two San Diego County detention facilities for failing to provide medication to ameliorate the side effects of steroid withdrawal, leading to “painfully sensitive breast enlargement”. But even though reports of this latest occurrence are what dragged As I Lay Dying up from the depths of my memory, let’s just put all that embarrassment aside for a few minutes and reflect upon the music of As I Lay Dying.

Actually, I only want to reflect on six songs, two from Shadows Are Security (2005), two from An Ocean Between Us (2007), and two from The Powerless Rise (2010). All but one come with official videos. Continue reading »

Sep 112016

Rearview Mirror


(Our Sacramento-based writer DGR is the author of this Sunday’s edition of our series on metal from the past.)

Dismal Lapse were a Sacramento-based death metal band who were active for a brief period in the later 2000s, with their roots in an earlier Sacramento band known as Bled. During their time playing, the group would release one EP entitled The Nameless Faceless and then a 2009 album called Eon Fragmentation — which surprisingly enough this very site wrote a brief bit about long before they gave me the opportunity to set my roots down and burn this place to the ground.

Dismal Lapse played what should be a very familiar sound to a lot of our readers as they were a technical death metal band, although at the time that label hadn’t really homogenized around the sound that we currently associate with it. This fair city where I live would actually have a small hand in that though, alongside a swath of groups from the Bay Area who had been cutting their teeth for a long time on the I-5 touring run, when they were all picked up around the same time and divied up amongst labels like Unique Leader.

In 2009, that wasn’t really too much of a thought though, and Dismal Lapse were one amongst a handful playing a style that was intense and, yes, hyper-complicated. Continue reading »

Sep 042016

Rearview Mirror


For this Sunday’s backward look into metal’s past, the subject is the Norwegian band Thorns, whose line-up over time has included many of black metal’s true luminaries and whose story has been intertwined with some of the most notorious chapter’s in the genre’s history. The band produced only one album (though hopes have never died for a second one), but it is extraordinary.

The band’s roots can be traced to a two-man outfit called Stigma Diabolicum which came to life in 1989, the two men being Snorre W. Ruch (guitar, bass, and piano/synth) and Marius Vold (vocals, programmed drums). They were eventually joined by a live drummer (none other than Bård Eithun, who adopted the name Faust when he became a member of Emperor) as well as bassist Harald Eilertsen. They anointed themselves with the name Thorns around 1990.

The following two years they released demos entitled Grymyrk and Trøndertun (which are widely regarded as significantly influencing the development of the Norwegian black metal sound), and then in 1993 Ruch was convicted as an accomplice to the murder of Euronymous by Varg Vikernes, while Bård Eithun was also convicted of church arsons and for stabbing a stranger to death — and those events brought Thorns to a halt until Snorre Ruch was released from prison. Continue reading »