Jan 272014

(When I was setting things in motion for our year-end LISTMANIA series, I invited Mads Lilletvedt (composer and drummer for Norway’s Hellish Outcast) to send in his list of favorite albums from 2013. As you’re about to find out, he didn’t really have a list, but he did have some things to share that I’ve been saving for the right occasion. And since earlier today we got a bit of a teaser about the new Hellish Outcast album from Andy Synn, now seems the right time.)

A few weeks ago I got asked to do a guest post for the prominent webzine NoCleanSinging naming the releases I’ve enjoyed the most this past year. Initially I was stumped by the question, instantly wondering if I had listened to anything at all this year!? My mind was completely blank, and especially as I interpreted the request to concentrate on releases from this past year. The year of doom. 2013.

It took me about 30 minutes time to reflect on what new music I had been spending my precious time around. It seemed that not one single track released in 2013 had stolen as much as a fraction of my concentration… whatever album I had raped was from either the 70’s, 80’s, or 2012… mostly… ‘cos I’m an album raper. I pick up an old gem and listen to it back to back for weeks. Months even. I get obsessed with the soundscapes of that particular recording, and never change it for anything else until I’m sick of it.

And therefore the newest music, ‘cos I do like to check out new music as well, is already at least one year old before I carve some time in my schedule to check it out. Anyway – uninterestingly enough – the latest “new” album I had spent some time with was Opeth’s Heritage. A slightly different approach to the progressive death metal I’m used to from that lot. However – great fucking drumming! But it wouldn’t be interesting for anyone to read yet another dissection of this odd rarity of a jazz album, with a slight refuse to any actual and obvious metal heritage…! Continue reading »

Jul 062010

For the most part, Bergen, Norway’s Byfrost plays marching songs and battle music for orcs. There are exceptions, which we’ll come to, but their recently released debut album Black Earth is mainly about the inexorable stomp, the headlong charge, the baring of oily teeth, the spiked maces held high. Or at least, those are the images that come to our orc-brained minds as we listen to this riff-tastic new release.

Byfrost is a three-piece band, and as befits this stripped-down ensemble, the music is bare-boned and primal. It lives and dies by the almighty riff, and Black Earth is loaded with them, from both guitar and bass. The pacing and the mood change within the album, but those dissonant hammerblows are a constant.

From the blackened thrash of “Horns to the Sky” and “Wings of the Angel of Death” to the lurching, stutter-stepped march of the title track, to the doom-influenced interlude within “Desire,” Byfrost builds their songs in a verse-chorus-verse structure around deceptively simple chords and rhythms, and then propels them forward in massively powerful repeating loops. The hooks are so sharp and deep that it’s easy to get caught up by them.

The remorseless martial stomp of the music is relieved by guitar solos that vary from soulful arpeggios to heated gouts of pure shred and by down-shifted variations in the pacing. But throughout is the sensation of being shaken like a rag doll by giant, clawed hands in time to a hellish beat.  (more after the jump, including some tracks to stream . . .) Continue reading »