Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Destruction - Under Attack (2016)

After 30 years and well over a dozen albums, Destruction is a band which, to me, tends to transcend all expectations. If they were never to make a record again which could match their flawless, fun post reunion effort The Antichrist, or even channel an effective nostalgia for their streak of innovative, 80s excellence, I doubt I would feel robbed. I think they've very likely shown us the full range of what they have to offer, without some drastic mutation like putting out a techno single; and if their own catalogue isn't enough, you can dip into the superb Headhunter discography, or the Panzer supergroup that Schmier recently took part of. Whether or not Destruction is going to write another classic is moot at this point, so the fact that they're still churning out some solid, energetic thrash is sort of...beyond what I might ask for, and while Under Attack does little to distance or deviate itself from this 'stay the course' mentality they've been locked into for 15 years, then that might just be enough. I said the same thing in 2012, for an album I found surprisingly catchy, but that one ultimately did have a mildly different feel to it.

Not so for Under Attack: this is pure, 21st millennium, muscular thrash metal which more or less comes across as an unerring sequence of remodeled, rearranged, riffs from their 80s era, only with the 'boon' of modern production which actually works against it, rendering it nigh indistinguishable from 4-5 of their other reunion era recordings. Voluminous, punchy rhythm guitars playing strings of notes and chords that don't possess a lot of nuance individually, but grant the listener enough variation that he or she isn't going to be too concerned as long as the neck can be strained, which with cuts like these is never really in question. The lead guitars here are actually pretty good, though, possessed of a style which seems to outlast their brevity, and most importantly, this just oozes Schmier's charismatic, strained snarls and roars to the extent that he might have recorded them all as prepwork for a "Nailed to the Cross" or "Thrash 'Til Death" and just saved them for now. He sounds like he's been taking some sort of miracle enhancement pill for his throat, and his bass lines are still fat and omnipresent even where they're not turning away from Mike's untiring, masterful ground work.

This is now Vaaver's third full-length within the ranks and he's hammering away with enough force that his presence instantly brings the Destruction beat system into line with other modern, extreme acts who might play faster and more technically, but not 'harder'. All of this adds up to what is just a consummately professional, pure, nasty Teutonic thrash blowout, at best semi-catchy in pieces like "Generation Nevermore" or "Pathogenic", at worst never really lagging behind much of the other material they've spewed out these last couple decades. The cleaner guitars add just a sliver of variety to the proceedings, tasteful and never overstaying their use, and whilst the bonus material, a cookie cutter cover of Venom's "Black Metal" and a re-recording of the original "Thrash Attack" from Infernal Overkill, are pretty safe choices, they don't allow the sum energy of the disco to falter. In the end, while this is unquestionably going to feel redundant to a lot of listeners, it's a well executed album which I'm going to get a handful of spins out of, but won't last me forever since there just aren't any tunes present that I could consider bonafide future classics for the Germans.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10] (we don't dare to learn)

http://www.destruction.de/

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hoth - Rites of the Black Goddess (2001)

Had Rites of the Black Goddess arrived in full force a half-decade or so earlier than it did, it might have been automatically granted the status of a lesser known classic, and an example of black metal's parallel development in countries outside Scandinavia. The catch is: it DID, as a demo tape in 1995, but from what I gather this album was a new recording, and so I'm assuming had a better production. At any rate, Portugal's Hoth was and remains an example of how the crudest of paeans to this medium can exude a charm which can outweigh or offset it's lack of musical value; the sort of recording that is hit or miss when produced in more modern times but does generally tend to get a pass from the genre's audience due solely to its placement in history, and ability to evoke that unwashed 'innocence' of proto black metal.

Drudging and ritualistic, Hoth could hardly be dubbed riffing masters when most of the rhythms involve a scant few chords repeated ad nauseam to the point that any change whatsoever comes as a sigh of relief in cuts like "Impious Congregation" or "Hellish Revelation".  Any enjoyment here is derived solely from the raw, bludgeoning buzz off the guitars, and the thinly toned synthesizer lines, usually done in somnolent or organ-based pads, which accompany them. Fairly predictable in most songs, but there is nonetheless a timeless sort of charisma which dusts off the cobwebbed atavism at the core of your brain. Loose, wailing leads and bare bones beats round out the experience, as well as the growled vocal lines which certainly distinguished it from a lot of other black metal, which had been pioneered and evolved through the higher pitched snarling intonations. Hoth was also not above a few risks, like the acoustic/keyboard piece "Celebration of Isis", or the inverse ambient bookends.

Somewhere in here, I want to say there's a Hellhammer/Celtic Frost foundation to which the sole member JA's most dingy perception of horror/occult was to be applied. You can definitely hear this in the chord progression of "Pagan Melodies", as well as the overall murk of the production. Black Goddess is like some rare offshoot species of that style, which might have burgeoned forth into the musical gene-streams even if the northern, popular form of black metal had never taken off. Add to that the alluring cover art, and I'm really shocked this doesn't get picked up more, or discussed. That's not to say I have any ringing endorsement for the record. It's compelling as a window to obscurity, but not musically or atmospherically on the level of something I'd want to continually revisit. Still, if you find yourself wandering the grimy underground of antiquity, and don't mind the raw, simplistic, ambition-free riffing, dull if eerie keyboard lines and bare minimum DIY beats, Rites of the Black Goddess might induce a haze of corpse candles, dust and nostalgic rot into your lungs. And J.A. is still doing this, having put out a 'sequel' to the album just last year.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]

Monday, May 16, 2016

Enlighten - Illvmantithesis EP (2016)

Illvmantithesis exists upon a jarring axis of dissonant and consonant riffing which ensures that many are likely to categorize it along other European specialists, namely Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord. However, this Portuguese duo manifests a few splinters of distinction to their writing which ensures that they've got some room alongside those better-known acts and their peers. While I haven't heard their prior EP, and I'm not sure that I enjoyed these tracks quite enough to track it down, there is some mechanism at work within the underlying clockwork of their composition that felt fairly refreshing, not at all a chore to listen through.

Enlighten emit some dry black metal which shifts between sparser, atmospheric moments, fueled entirely by the guitars, and then the charging intensity that their chosen genre is best known for. But where they apply some melodies, there is just enough of an unexpected dissonance and flavor to the patterns that I wasn't exactly sure where they were all headed, nor was I disappointed with where they ended up. The bass lines are great, rampaging alongside the moderate blasting when necessary with a solid, distorted undertow, but also meting out some faint, lighter-than-air grooves which complement the rhythm guitar structures during less intense points in the songs. Drums are functional, raw and crashing, though I wouldn't call them a strength of the material, and the vocals shift between gruesome growls and snarls, with a little bit of maudlin Gothic mumbling at the close of the second tune "Shroud", which I also felt had the lion's share of the better guitar riffs. My favorite among these would be the almost vomited post-T.G. Warrior lines, so I do wish there were more of them, they simply sound more genuinely disgusting.

Rhythmically and structurally, a lot of the riffing doesn't distance itself much from other bands in the genre, but as I have hinted, there is simply a sincerity evoked through its slight degree of unique choices in what notes will construct a chord or sequence. The EP is given this bright sheen to it, balanced out by the ballast of the tortured vocals and sheer existence of aggressive tempos. Not sure that it has the capacity to overwhelm the senses like a number of the bands who really excel in this odd space between the orthodox and alien aspects of black metal, but it's at the very least a hint that there is some thinking going behind the songwriting, and that Enlighten is not entirely content with just setting up a comfort zone and staying inside its borders, even if the 11 minutes of material here are in truth pretty consistent in style and effect. Wasn't an entirely memorable experience, but it does make me remember the name as a band to watch in the future, since I'd like to hear how their more eclectic choices would span out over a full-length effort.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

https://www.facebook.com/enlighten666/info?tab=page_info

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blakk Old Blood - Greed EP (2016)

The 'fuck you' growled out so nonchalantly near the end of "Seed of Greed" seems a bit of conscious trolling here, almost like the gents behind Blakk Old Blood were aware they had just delivered one of the most uneven and inconsistent experiences you were going to hear all year and were proud of it. But don't let that opening volley deceive you into believing that I loathed this Swiss black metal throwback completely, for when they play up to their strengths, they do a pretty bang-up job of resurrecting a carefree, cryptic black punk attitude worthy of trashing one of Satan's hotel rooms. After all, the rates might be cheap, but you don't get to leave. I'd be angry too.

There are four tracks here, but unfortunately only two which are bearable. Opener "Misanthrope" is quite good, a burgeoning, bloody black/thrasher in the vein of old Bathory, Hellhammer, early Mayhem, Impaled Nazarene, and most notably Nifelheim. Driven, simplistic, hellish momentum established through a gruesome, more guttural vocal timbre and a set of riffs that are infernally catchy no matter how many times you feel you've heard them before. The third tune, "Thou Are the Dragon" is a bit more of a blast piece using tremolo picked riffs redolent of antique black/death metal, but I loved the trappings, such as the fat and voluminous bass of the into. Sadly, these two particular songs only comprise about four minutes of material, which in of itself is fine, and suits their impish nature, but for the fact that the EP is finished off with an eight minute, dragged out bore of a tune in "Seed of Greed".  This piece alternates between two very simple riffing structures, monotonous chords and an attempt at a creeper, circular guitar line which falls flat after about two minutes, and has no business going on for as long as it does.

There simply aren't enough ideas there, and to top that off, it's void of any drum beats save for some very tinny, distant cadence which I frankly think I might have been hallucinating. The whole idea was to create this blasphemous, hypnotic escapism but it's simply too dry. The other track here is just a growled vocal mantra with a couple of voices that doesn't exactly add much to the proceedings, and so I'm left with a feeling that what I just experienced had plenty of untapped possibilities. Had all the cuts been worthy of "Misanthrope", I would be singing it's praises to the golden dawn, but as it stands, it just feels like an entertaining teaser with a bunch of other, inferior material tacked on. At their peak, Blakk Old Blood certainly lives up to their name, and has reserves of potential best channeled into 2-3 minute blackened speed/punk, but don't get too comfortable with structural variation to the degree that it becomes detrimental to the experience.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]

http://www.clavisecretorvm.com/blakk.php

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ithaqua - The Black Mass Sabbath Pulse EP (2016)

Longing for a throwback to that Golden Era of emergent Hellenic black metal, when bands like Rotting Christ and Thou Art Lord started to refine their sounds from their cruder origins into what has now become the defining, unique 90s aesthetic of that region? That is more or less exactly the wheelhouse in which Ithaqua operates, a two-piece band featuring members of Caedes Cruenta and Opus Magorum that seek to revisit and flesh out this sound without shaking the tree down that much. You might initially have thought this was a doom record for some reason, or possessed of the frigid countenance of the Mythos entity it is named for, but The Black Mass Sabbath Pulse is more or less Non Serviam, Thy Mighty Contract, Eosforos and Triarchy of the Lost Lovers incarnate, from the base construction of riffs to the pacing and plotting of the songs. No attempt whatsoever to muddle or disguise this influence.

And, for what it's worth, they make a fairly strong showing of the style, which has long been defined by its mid-paced, cavalry charge riffs with tinnier chugging patterns splayed out into more uplifting melodies than the dissonant and dextrous Scandinavian strain that took off with Immortal and Emperor. In other passages, primarily in the second track here ("Walpurgis, the Flight of Spectral Witches"), the guitars feel like pure driving heavy metal highlighted by the arcane but cheesy synth lines, bluesy leads and then little popping, perky melodies highly redolent of Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, albeit with the production of the two previous Rotting Christ records, even some cutoff points where the guitars take over before the charge begins anew. Bass lines are pretty pedestrian, in that they don't often disengage from the root notes to explore the atmosphere of broaden out the songs as a whole, but at least you can hear them audibly plugging away, and the drums play with the similar shuffling rock beats to their influences, rather than trying to extremify it all with endless walls of double bass and blasting.

Vocals have a murky snarl to them, which is surely reminiscent of Tolis, if not exactly the same, but they don't ever shine quite so much as the guitars, which are going to be the make or break aspect of this 7" for almost anyone interested in hearing it. The tunes run a little on the long side, 16 minutes for just the pair of them, and they might have proven more effective with a bit of editing down; but at the same time, it's not like they just stuffed them with boring content. Personally, while I appreciated Ithaqua's attention to detail in both composing the songs and mirroring that early to mid-90s style of production, I just don't know that they're quite as majestic as the material they pay homage to, and so I'm more likely to run into August Derleth's Great Old One in a tabletop session of Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror than I am to bring this one back out, when instead I could just pop on some vintage Rotting Christ and still get more from that. But don't view that as a rousing rebuttal on my part. N.C.M. and Echetleos certainly know their business here, and get about it quickly for anyone who direly misses the sound and wants it trapped on vinyl yet again.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Barús - Barús EP (2015)

Based on appearance alone, these Frenchmen would seem to perform a very gloomy but indeterminate brand of extreme metal, so when I actually put on the disc and discovered what seems like a mesh of aggressive groove and death which felt like Gojira and Gorguts jamming out to an old Demilich tune with Ulcerate's instruments, I was taken aback a little. That's not to say the dynamic mutation they've concocted here is necessarily going to comply with the tastes of those other bands' most devout audiences, but certainly Barús has developed a formula which is not the easiest thing to nail down, and that's what makes their songwriting feel so fresh and engaging while maintaining a sense of clamor and chaos at the same time.

I don't want to say it's 'confusing', necessarily, but these gentlemen consistently shepherd a busy flow of ideas which tended to stick with me more often than not. The grooves on tracks like "Tarot" and "Disillusions" get slightly more involved than your garden variety banal jumpdafucup style, and they fuck with time signatures just enough, using them more like fills than status quos, to give your mind that impression of the alien. The drums are just great, loads of jazzy snare and toms giving the bottom end of the recording a little more imagination, but beyond that I really liked how they twisted up the vocals, so you've got growls and snarls contrasted against sustained howls, doped roars ala Neurosis, and even some chants, both overt and background, that conjure up a really unique atmosphere. They'll even go for a straight, deep vocal once the metallic elements break down as in the bridge of "Disillusions", or a more manic conversational tone circa an asylum, and really you just have no idea what's coming next.

Even when the band is chugging along with a simplistic riff, they're layering on brighter or dissonant guitars above it and you constantly feel like you're on the edge of them just freaking out, which does happen enough that you get an emotional, angry payoff. I also found the more that I repeatedly went through the EP, the more it grew on me, and if they can record a longer record with the same level of general quirkiness but paint the tempos and vocals with even broader strokes, I think Barús is a name we might have to get used to. Well worth checking out if you're a fan of dissonant, odd death metal but not afraid of having enough straight groove in there that your much cooler friends will disown you and break your Meshuggah records before storming out of your life. By the way, those aren't your friends and never were. Good disc!

Verdict: Win [8/10]

https://www.facebook.com/barusband

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wildernessking - Mystical Future (2016)

Before writing this, I actually searched back through my catalog of reviews to see if I had covered any South African bands before, and I'm not terribly surprised that this is indeed the first. In fact, this was one of the first bands I had even heard OF hailing from that neck of the woods, having generated a little buzz with their debut record a few years ago, and remaining fairly active since. And I must admit more than a little curiosity here, speaking as someone who is an enormous fan of cultural and geographical variation bleeding into the music I listen to, even if it's rooted firmly in the conventions of a niche I've heard many, many times before.

To that extent, I have to say that Mystical Future is slightly a disappointment, since it's more or less a drawn out, bare style of melodic black metal which concentrates on generally lengthy compositions and has that meandering aesthetic to it which isn't really news. There's certainly a spaciousness to the proceedings which my mind might attribute to a territorial stereotype, but had you told me this band was from the Cascadian scene or even Sweden I wouldn't have noticed much of a difference. Now, this all being said, that is perhaps the ONLY area in which I felt Wildernessking was indistinct, for in truth this is a pretty well done record, solitary and dreamy and seamlessly shifts from its wide open pastures of simplistic, harsher chords and vocals to cleaner, dry air guitar tones, best experienced in the middle piece "To Transcend" which is an exercise in lulling tranquility, despite the rasps that oft ring out against the background which only enhance its mood.

Such a tune is an exception, of course, because the majority of the material is either lurching or surging gloriously along at a determined clip, with dirty-bright guitar chords that easily place this in the wheelhouse of popular 'blackgaze' groups like Drudkh, Alcest, Austere or Wolves in the Throne Room, but in certain sequences are clinging directly to the conventions of old. They accent a lot of the mid-paced riffing with higher, melodic chords that blow the atmosphere wide open, and the vocalist has a nice, grueling, sustained black metal snarl that works really well, imbuing the lighter feel of the chords with something more torturous. The drums hammer along with a steady clap and crash, and the bass line keeps up with some occasional grooves that offer a leaden balance against the more windy maneuvers of the other instruments. Despite a few of the cuts being pretty long at 9ish and 13 minutes, I never felt like abandoning this journey throughout, and that's a testament to there being just enough happening here that it engages you. Simple, sure, and in places the chords are wrought in a predictable fashion, but it never really loses its sense of elegant savagery. I don't envision myself breaking this out much unless I'm in a very specific mood for this enveloping, patient burn, but it's certainly a well made, consistent sophomore from a promising act.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

http://www.wildernessking.com/

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Maleficence - Realms of Mortification EP (2016)

There's been quite the explosion of blackened thrash metal these past couple years, and while it's likely grown a little redundant and unnecessarily retrospect to some, I've been enjoying quite a lot of what I hear, provided that the bands focus on both the riffs and production aesthetics of their distant forebears, but tweaking the formulae just enough that I feel like it's an alternative take on a well trodden path. Maleficence happen to meet most of these prerequisites, taking a meatier, nastier approach to material that wouldn't have seemed so out of place on an early Destruction or Sodom recording, and then ensuring the riff selection is varied and consistently savage.

To be clear, once the swell of the dark ambient intro subsides, this is not a group that focuses in too heavily on atmospherics, instead opting for a more potent, clean studio mix in which the guitars are punchy and effective and vocals placed at a volume that emphasizes their ghastly, barking abandon. Riffing here is highly reminiscent of Mike Sifringer, only it's not as flecked with industrial steel as All Hell Breaks Loose or The Antichrist, but more of a polished Sentence of Death or Mad Butcher. The drums are forceful and enhance the charging momentum of "Pyre of Penitence", while the bass has just enough of a distorted coil and groove to it that you can really pick out where it deviates from the rhythm guitar line. They'll spurt out some picked tremolo riffing sequences to spin just enough of a Slayer-like proto-death metal undercurrent that complements straight up old 80s Teutonic thrashing, and throw up a few melodic bits you wouldn't otherwise expect (in the opening of the title cut), but there are other passages in which it's nearly indistinguishable from that classic thrash sphere.

Fortunately, the Belgians are not lazily spewing forth black/punk riffs that are all too predictable from the get-go, and there seems to have been a modicum of effort and enthusiasm here in the writing. The attention to the more accessible recording places this more firmly into the camp of bands like Erazor and Raise Hell than dingier, atmospheric groups like Power from Hell and Diavolos, but that's not a bad thing, as Maleficence just let the riffs do their talking for them, and that dialogue is established with a vivid and determined force. Not incredibly memorable to the point that you'll be hearing it in your head 25 years later, or perhaps even 24 hours later, but the tunes are entertaining enough throughout their existence, and a full-length of this quality, with the same commitment to varied, intense, impactful writing, would likely stir up some appreciation.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10] 

https://www.facebook.com/maleficenceband

Friday, April 29, 2016

Seventh Xul - Qliphothic Rites of Death EP (2010)

A defunct project by a pair of musicians who between them are responsible for probably half of Greece's underground black metal recordings, Seventh Xul's lone EP recording is getting a reissue through Iron Bonehead on 7". Featuring a new cover treatment that seems to convey its cryptic, nihilistic aesthetic mood rather well, but perhaps not the production level, which is quite good here. If you follow this scene, or these pages closely, then you might recognize Acherontas from his maintay of the same name, or other bands he's played with like Acrimonious, Nocternity and Stutthof. Necro/Necrotormentor you might recognize from Burial Hordes and Enshadowed. Together, with beats provided by Fotis Bernardo, another musician heavily involved in that scene with credits in Septic Flesh, Necromantia, etc, the duo concocts a formidable enough mesh of black and death metal to warrant a second look, even within its two-track lifespan.

"Sitra Ahra" immediately grabs the attention with its repeated, evil melodic phrase and the punchy precision and bulk of the rhythm guitar used to accent it like percussion. Once the song develops further, it's composed of largely predictable tremolo picked death metal patterns redolent of old Deicide, accented with bold octave chords ala Morbid Angel, but while they honor these old, overt Floridian influences, there is also a tiny hint of ritualistic Greek black metal that you'd associate more with Thou Art Lord or Rotting Christ, only a lot of the fetchier melodies have been supplanted by pure sepulchral aggression. Granted, this is more often captured in some of the break riffs, where the drums drop out, and the meat of the thing is far more conservative to its inspirations, but there are moments of departure, especially in the 2nd track, that bring this native spirit to the fore. Bernardo's blasting and double bass have a mechanical nature to them which seems better suited to a pure brutal death experience, not that it doesn't work within the context of this material, but it also doesn't leave much up to the imagination.

In all, while I didn't really enjoy the two tracks enough to spin them more than a handful of times, there were some decent ideas here which were clearly the foundation of great potential. As mentioned, the production is really good, better than what you'd find on a number of albums by its constituents. I do wish the drums were a little less clinical, and more atmospheric in volume, but he was more or less serving as a studio player and I'm not sure how much attention he was able to give the project. Also, the majority of the riffs are just not as compelling as the intro to the first tune, or the choppier atmospheric breaks nestled into the trenches of either of them, and one wishes they had fleshed that out more to make this stand out against a wider variety of old school death metal acts, because this is clearly more in that subgenre than the blackness, which manifests through only a handful of riffs and themes. Still, Seventh Xul was quite competent, and Qliphothic Rites of Death has its moments. With more space allotted for their ideas to gestate, they could very well have climbed 'the ranks' and become more radar-worthy across the underground.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Provenance - 25th Hour; Bleeding (2001)

I can only conjecture that The Provenance's lack of a breakthrough was due to a glut of Gothic metal acts being released during the crack of the new millennium, and that their material was simply too heady and dynamic for those simply seeking out lascivious fae metal thrills to accompany their guyliner, fishnet stockings and caramel lattes. An amalgamation of a heavier Anneke-led The Gathering, progressive rock and even folk elements, there was no narrow path of sound for the Swedes. Song structures were rather complex by this niche's standards, wandering without meandering over a goodly number of riffing patterns that covered a broader spectrum of emotion and heaviness, but it's also this arguable lack of specificity and focus that placed them in a border-zone between numerous subgenres, neatly defying categorization and thus the audiences of infinitely lamer bands abusing the 'beauty & beast' vocal juxtaposition.

As mentioned, Emma Hellström had a soothing, rich pitch reminiscent of Anneke van Giersbergen, but she also could hit an eerier, I.C.S. Vortex keening during the less comfortable moments. Yet she was not alone here, joined by a panoply of grunts, growls and Goth-speak by guitarist/vocalist Tobias Martinsson, to the point that they're fairly even distributed with their own lines, and also capable of some rather elegant harmonies as in "Frequencynic". The guitars ranged from lamentations of crisp Goth/doom to more biting patterns that recalled mid-paced progressive thrash, offset by some dingier, cleaner tones. Though 25th Hour; Bleeding is stylistically consistent, there was quite enough going on here that each composition eschewed predictability to create a jagged landscape of ideas that would both calm the listener and jerk him about within a small cluster of measures. The drums set a grooving pace with lots of great little fills and an almost jazzy angel of approach in spots, while the bass bounced back and forth between a smooth low end and its own cavorting grooves that lend the album an impression of murky, druggy 70s psychedelia.

Add to this the judicious use of flute, in a tasteful, Tull-like fashion, and a bevy of synthesizers, pianos and organ tones that enhance the rhythm guitars rather than compete with them for your attentions, and you had quite an engaging listen. In fact, I was quite sure the first time I spun 25th Hour; Bleeding that I was listening to the 'next big thing'. The lyrics were mildly more poetic and poignant than the droopy-eyed standards of the niche, and the music, while maintaining a slightly serrated edge, had this refreshing, hopeful quality to its aggression which stood out. Paired up with some really catchy vocal and guitar hooks, this is just one of those debut records that deserved more. The cover image was shite with its silhouette, and Scarlet Records was unable to effectively market a number of its more compelling bands, but otherwise this was a very good disc which I'd recommend to those seeking off-kilter Scandinavian mash-ups, somewhere between Theater of Tragedy and The Sins of Thy Beloved and the eclectics of Solefald and Ulver.

Verdict: Win [8.25/10] (suppressed by all mankind)