Jan 172017
 

 

If you begin the task of educating yourself about the phenomenon known as “Viking metal” you’ll probably first see references to Bathory and perhaps Enslaved, soon followed by a group of famous Swedes with their longboats and drinking horns on stage, but it won’t be long before you see the name Helheim.

“Viking metal” is indeed a phenomenon rather than a genre of music, which quickly becomes evident when you consider that bands as diverse as those listed above, as well as other groups such as Unleashed, Manowar, and Moonsorrow, have all carried that label at one time or another. To the extent there is a unifying factor, it derives from a lyrical and thematic focus on ancient Norse culture, mythology, and paganism, rather than a consistent sound — and even there, the depth and focus of the themes can be significantly different.

Helheim go beyond the most familiar (and often caricaturish) thematic tropes of most bands branded as Viking metal, with a devotion to Norse heritage that treats it as still relevant to modern life, and still shrouded in mysteries of the Runes that are worth exploring, and perhaps best understood in the spirit they convey rather than through archaeological and linguistic dissection.

As you’re about to discover, Helheim’s music also goes light years beyond the most familiar tropes of “Viking metal”. Continue reading »

Jun 012012
 

I’ve been doing actual paying work all morning. I took a break not long ago and cast my baleful eye around the interhole and my NCS e-mail box to see what there was to see and hear. And these are things I thought worth passing on.

First, that cover you see above is for a tribute album to Emperor called In Honour of Icon E, which will be released on June 25 by Metal Swamp. It’s a very nice piece of art, created by Wolkogniv of Folkingrimm Art.

It also looks like it will be a very nice album, with Emperor covers by the likes of Demonical, Helheim, Horna, Taake, and Setherial. I’ll give you the full tracklist rundown after the jump, but the news for today is that the album has gone up on Amqzon for pre-order, which means you can hear snippets of each song here. Continue reading »

Dec 122011
 

Every day I discover something that reinforces just how fucking ignorant I am. As if I needed any reminders. Take yesterday for example. Yesterday I learned about a band from Bergen, Norway called Aeternus. They’ve been active since 1993, they released their first album in 1997 (Beyond the Wandering Moon), and five more have followed, with the most recent one (HeXaeon) surfacing in 2006.

Their current line-up includes the band’s founder, Ares (vocals and guitars), who has played with a number of other Norwegian black metal bands over his career, including a stint in Gorgoroth; V’gandr (bass), who’s also a member of Helheim and a live musician with Taake; Phobos (drums), who is also active in a very good band called Gravdal; and Specter (guitars), another member of Gravdal. Despite the pedigree of Aeternus’ members, I’d managed to go through life to this point without ever hearing their music.

What I discovered yesterday was that the band’s label, Dark Essence Records, has uploaded a collection of Aeternus songs to SoundCloud. The music is drawn from throughout the band’s history and includes two songs from HeXaeon (“What I Crave” and “The 9th Revolution”), one from A Darker Monument (2003) (“Sons of War”), one from Ascension of Terror (2001) (“Denial of Salvation”), one from Shadows of Old (1999) (“The Summoning of Shadows”), two from And So the Night Became (1998) (“Warrior of the Crescent Moon” and “Fyrndeheimen”), and one from Beyond the Wandering Moon (“Vind”).

This retrospective is well-timed because after the passage of five years since the last album, the band is now recording their seventh full-length, which should be ready for release sometime in 2012. It allows listeners to trace the path of Aeternus’ music from the early days up to the time of the last release, as a prelude to what will come next. And that’s not all . . . Continue reading »

Feb 272011
 


We’re jumping the gun on this post, since the month doesn’t end until tomorrow. Why? Uh, because this post is ready to go and we don’t have anything else finished for today yet. Work and other shit interfered with our grand plans for a Sunday post.  We might still get another one up later today, but for now, feast your eyes on the barrage of metal headed our direction.

What we do with these installments of METAL IN THE FORGE is collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last 30 days (or in this case, the last 27 days) about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know them yet. And in this post, we cut and paste the announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

This isn’t a cumulative list, so be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming New Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported in previous installments. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. There’s some awesome shit on the way. Continue reading »

Feb 072011
 

I just took a break from what I usually do during daylight hours to check happenings in the world of metal, and that proved to be quite a long and interesting diversion. It may not be mid-day where you are, but maybe you still need a diversion or two, or three. That’s what we’re here for — to divert you, for better or worse, depending on your alternatives.

DIVERSION ONE

Regular NCS visitors know we’ve got a pathological weakness for anything Finnish, so when I saw a come-on for a new video by a Finnish band called Mygrain, of course I had to watch it. Besides, I’ve been meaning to check out this band ever since I read about the release of their self-titled third album on January 12 (via Spineform Records) — especially because it was mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Nightingale).

The video is for a song called “Trapped In An Hourglass”. Very cool music — fast-paced, Finnish-style melodic death that’s both catchy and cathartic, with two admirable guitar solo’s (one of which is a jazzy bit of picking at about the 3:00 mark), some clean vocals that even I like, and evidence that Finnish howlers can even shriek underwater.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »