Oct 142014


Here’s a rather large selection of new songs and videos released in the last few days that I decided were worth your time — and who better than me to decide how you should spend your time?  Exactly.

I’ve arranged these offerings in alphabetical order by band name. It’s quite a varied selection, so I’m hoping everyone will find something to like.


We’re now two songs into the ramp-up for one of the most highly anticipated extreme metal releases of the year — Grand Morbid Funeral, the first album by Bloodbath since 2008. The second song, “Famine of God’s Word”, was revealed yesterday through a lyric video. I’m of two minds about the song.

On the one hand, the instrumental music is just downright vicious — a brutally heavy, galloping, squalling, skin-flaying, gut-punching romp, with an eerie lead guitar melody that floats through the song like a phantasm. Continue reading »

Sep 192014


(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. Continue reading »

Aug 202014

Photo by Guðný Lára Thorarensen and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason

Here’s a quartet of things I saw and heard over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth your time. I could have sub-titled this “The Exception to the Rule Round-Up”, because the vocals are almost all of the clean variety.


I’ve written about every advance track that has appeared from Sólstafir’s new album Ótta, which will be released by Season of Mist on August 29 in Europe and September 2 in North America. So I guess it stands to reason that I’m going to write about the full-album stream that premiered yesterday at Noisey.

I love the album, but I’m not sure were going to review it. We didn’t get our promo copy of the album from the label until less than 24 hours before the stream went up (and only about 10 days before the European release date), and I do sometimes wonder what the point is of writing a review when everyone can hear the album for themselves, especially when there are so many other albums whose music is less accessible that are also worth praising. There’s always a point to bringing music to the attention of people who might not be aware of it, but anyone who regularly visits our site couldn’t possibly remain unaware Ótta.

Anyway, whether we write more about the album or not, you really should go listen to it. Among the previously unreleased songs, “Non” in particular has been getting repeated spins among our staff. The goddamn riff at the end is just glorious. Go here — you’ll be glad you did: Continue reading »

Jun 262014

Yesterday was an eventful one in the realms of metal, with enticing new-album announcements and new songs. I’ve collected a few of the most interesting items here. I stayed up late at a metal show last night and am now rushing to get my ass out of the house and onward to my fucking day job, so I’m presenting the new songs without my usual commentary (which I may add later).


More than four years have passed since Germany’s Dark Fortress released the fantastic Ylem. Finally, after a few postponements, a new album is ready. Entitled Venereal Dawn, it’s scheduled for release by Century Media on September 2 in North America (and September 1 everywhere else) and yesterday its cover art was revealed. The cover is a painting by a Netherlands-based artist named Nespress Danielewski and it appears he has created other art for the album as well. I really, really like this cover and am interested to see what else he’s done for Venereal Dawn.

Of course, I’m really interested in the music, too. The press release says: “Expect epic song structures, mighty sonic cathedrals, virulent and sinister magic and lots of unexpected twists and turns as the bands drags you screaming and headbanging through the abysmal roller coaster of their universe once more.” Oh yes…

https://www.facebook.com/officialdarkfortress Continue reading »

May 242014

(photo by Natalia Kempin/Natalia Die Hexe, used with permission)

(Andy Synn provides the following introduction to a new documentary now streaming over the web.)

Dark Fortress are, without a doubt, one of my favourite bands, and their last albums, Ylem, is similarly one of my favourite albums.

Why am I telling you this? Well it just so happens that Dutch public-service broadcasting network NTR has just released a 50-minute documentary on the band’s frontman Florian Magnus Maier (aka Morean) and his composition of a double-guitar concerto entitled “Schattenspiel” (“Shadowplay”) for the Zaterdagmatinee, whose premiere performance took place at the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Now I actually already knew that Florian/Morean was a gifted composer (go me), with some impressive credentials to his name, but actually watching him piece the whole thing together, keeping all the changes and instruments in his head at the same time, really gives you a whole different insight into the process and the man behind it. Continue reading »

Nov 302012

photo credit: Natasha Xavier

We’re delighted to present here Andy Synn’s recent interview of famed guitarist and producer V Santura (Dark Fortress, Triptykon).

Before we get into the interview I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Victor (V. Santura) for answering the questions I sent to him, which were originally written to be asked and answered during the UK leg of the band’s current tour. Despite the delay I really appreciate how he engaged with the interview and worked with the material.

I’d also like to thank Stefan for helping set this up, since (as you all know) Dark Fortress are amongst my favourite bands. So thank you Stefan!


Firstly, how is the tour going?

Well, what shall I say? I guess it’s a typical UK underground tour which means it is not exactly the glamorous rock-star dream coming true, haha. Sometimes the circumstances are a bit “adventurous”, but no matter how many people are attending the shows, the reactions of the audiences are fantastic. I also have the feeling that the band is very well in shape at the moment. Personally I enjoy playing live a lot and shows like the one in London for example had something truly magic. It’s those moments why you are doing all of this.


How are you finding your UK tour mates?

Very good, both bands have strong material. I’ve been in contact with Ethereal for a while and even know some unreleased song ideas. And I know Wilson from Saturnian since several years. Nevertheless I have to say that Saturnian kind of blew me away with their tight and super professional musicianship. I also like their album a lot. Go and buy it! Continue reading »

Nov 222012

(Andy Synn was both performer and spectator at the November 16 show in Derby, England, headlined by Dark Fortress and he provides both this concert review and video clips of each band’s performance.)

So the boys in Bloodguard and I were lucky enough to score an opening slot for one of my all-time favourite black metal bands, Germany’s own Dark Fortress. Needless to say we rocked the place mightily, but I also thought I’d take the opportunity to review the show, and get some video footage of each band for you all.  I am a river to my people.



Up first were Liverpool-based black metal monsters Ethereal. Performing as a four piece, due to a last minute problem with their line-up, the group shot through an all too brief, but absolutely blistering set of raucous, blood-curdling black metal. Blasting through an array of material drawn from their two EPs, Hell’s Divine Existence and Revelation Beast, the group hit hard with a sound that was neither overly primitive nor excessively polished, but utterly raw and ravenous in equal measure. Continue reading »

Jul 072011

OK, time to court some (albeit minor) controversy. To compare and contrast with the “Wintermoon Wednesday” piece on post-millennial black metal by Tr00 Nate (unseen at the time of this writing) over at TheNumberOfTheBlog, I’ve decided to list my own picks for the prize.

I’ve left out the obvious choices, so no Satyricon or 1349 – even though the former have transformed themselves post-2000 very successfully, courting both success and controversy in equal measure, while the latter have pushed their hyper-blast style beyond the breaking point, only to discover a new lease on life through their exploration of gnarled, twisted atmospherics.

No Rotting Christ? Or Samael? Nope. I love both of them, but they both had long pre-millennial careers and spent much of the post-2000 stage of their careers exploring less focussed, less black metal sounds — although both have recently released masterful examples of their own focussed and distinctive brands of black metal.

I have left out records which are perhaps less “purely” black metal — records for which a strong case can be put forward that they belong more as “blackened” examples of another genre — so there’s no place for Altar Of Plagues or Withered, both great bands in their own right. No Akercocke either, the sheer weight of their crushing death metal heft disqualifying them for this list.

I have also by choice left out artists/albums I have covered recently. Therefore, no Iskald (though The Sun I Carried Alone IS one of the best black metal albums of the last ten years), or Elite (see HERE for my thoughts) or The Axis Of Perdition (HERE), even though I’d argue that each of them has at least one example under their belt of near perfect post-millennial black metal.

So who have I chosen? Well look upon my choices dear reader, and despair… Continue reading »