Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: November 2023

Repulsion – Final Demo (1991)

Repulsion – Final Demo (1991)

The one outlier in the Repulsion / Genocide canon. Throughout the band’s history you can track the development of the sound from start to end. On the Final Demo however, things take a turn, perhaps in line with changing of the gaurd musically, in regards to the zeitgeist. Musically, things take a turn towards what can be compared to shit like Impetigo; that loose thrash sound with the heaviness of death metal. Scott is growling here like he does on no other Repulsion release. Would have been interesting to see where the guys went from here, but alas this is where we leave off. (I’ve used the cover of Horrified for this one as I cannot find a scan of this demo anywhere – and the reissued compilation versions of Horrified is the only place you are likely to hear these demo tracks)

Genocide (Repulsion) – The Stench Of Burning Death (1986)

Genocide (Repulsion) – The Stench Of Burning Death (1986)

Like having fallen into an alternative dimension and this is their version of Repulsion’s Horrified. This is so similar yet so different to the version that we all know and love. The production is different, and there’s a few different songs here that didn’t make it to Horrified era, such as the excellently titled “Crypt Of Terror” (if there’s not a zine named after that then there needs to be). But yeah this shit is variations on a theme of the more well known final form but if you are into grinding fucking thrash then you’d do no wrong in having a gander at this fucker.

Genocide (Repulsion) – Toxic Metal (1984)

Genocide (Repulsion) – Toxic Metal (1984)

Does it sound like complete and utter ass? Yes. Are the instruments a bass guitar, a cheese grater and a cardboard box? Sure as fuck sounds like it. Is it an important rehearsal demo in the history / development of extreme music? You can bet your life it is, so it is worth checking out for that alone. Hearing the proto-version of “Stench Of Burning Death” in the form of “Cracks Of Doom” is so cool.

Repulsion – Final Demo (1991)

Repulsion – Horrified (1989)

What can I say that hasn’t already been said before? Horrified (or is that HorRIFFied am I right?) is a turning point in the direction of underground and / or extreme metal. It marks the point where thrash broke of distinctly into what would become grindcore. Dave Grave’s blastbeats are one of the earliest examples of such a style, at least being played so prevalently throughout all of the songs. And speaking of songs, their simplicity is their strong-point; just fucking riffs riffs and more fucking riffs, meatgrinder bass and the aforementioned drums. Don’t waste your time reading what I have to say – just play this fucking thing. Easily one of the greatest musical records of all time, in my humble opinion.

Brutally Deceased – Satanic Corpse (2016)

Brutally Deceased – Satanic Corpse (2016)

My guys, if you like compression, you will love Brutally Deceased! Take lightning fast death metal, give it melody and a few black metal riffs, run it through a HM2 and give it a huge, “modern” production and you’re basically right on the money. Brutal music with a lot going on for sure, but it’s kinda lost a bit behind the wall of noise. Don’t get me wrong when your ears adjust, it’s totally fine, and a really cool metal album, but that initial synthetic feel is hard to shake.

Haggus / Toxocariasis – Split Tape (2020)

Haggus / Toxocariasis – Split Tape (2020)

You’ve just done a great big fucking chungus of a shit in the toilet bowl. The toilet itself looks like it’s about to fall apart, the porcelain is cracked and stained, and the water pooling at the bottom had a greenish-yellow tint even before your pulsating brownish horror took a dive into it. Your stomach gurgles a deep subhuman roar, and you realise in horror that it’s not your stomach rumbling after dropping such an unspeakable terror into the bowl below, but the turd itself! But this ain’t no fucking Gutalax fantasy kids, no no, this is sick fucking groove heavy stomping fucking mincegore I’m talking about, so instead of getting up and doing a little dance and throwing toilet paper everywhere like an idiot, this huge fucking chungus of a turd roars the most sickening gore-drenched howl you’ve ever heard, before climbing out of the fucking toilet bowl and tearing you in half, exploding the room into a haze of blood, innards and feces. This is what Haggus sounds like on this split. But you can dance to it if you want to. Toxocariasis are pretty fucking good too. It takes a moment to adjust to the thinner sound after the bowel eruption of Haggus, but the messier, chaotic gurgling gore is sure to satisfy even the fussiest of corpophilic gorehounds. TLDR: this split is good, yeah.

Fuck… I’m Dead – Another Gory Mess (2012)

Fuck… I’m Dead – Another Gory Mess (2012)

Fucking drums on this fucking thing are faster than a fucking cheetah driving a fucking porsche across the outback, the sheer speed of it melting the fucking asphalt and tyres along with it. Any wildlife that wanders out into the road just gets fucking mowed down and reduced to a bloody smear on the burning road; guts and organs cooking up on the underside of the car. The cheetah likes this smell. On the stereo he is playing Another Gory Mess by Fuck… I’m Dead. Yeah that’s all I’ve got. Dunno where I’m going with this. Solid as fuck.

Immortal – Blizzard Beasts (1997)

Immortal – Blizzard Beasts (1997)

The first real miss from the mostly excellent Immortal. Blizzard Beasts suffers from a sub par production, with what should be an unstoppable barrage of drums being barely audible and buried beneath the hollow muck of the guitar. The riffs are on point however, in the usual frenetic Immortal style. Expect blurs of cold hell in the way of exquisite fretboard wankery (at the lower end of course), but the sound is just a little bit off and there is such an imbalance between the percussion and strings that it is really offputting and spoils the whole album.

Virus – Forced Recon (1988)

Virus – Forced Recon (1988)

Feel like I’m about to come on here and throw down a J-Dawg style rant about the botched fucking digital release of this shit. Whichever asshat uploaded this to streaming services has ripped it straight from a tape or busted up vinyl copy by the sounds of it – it sounds like complete dogshit. I have the vinyl too and I’m fucking positive that it didn’t sound this bad. But hey, it’s been a minute… Virus play fairly chunky, heavy thrash and its a shame that the version most people are gonna hear is some watered down half-baked conversion. Definitely worth hunting down a phyisical copy of this badboy to truly appreciate it.

Droid – Terrestrial Mutations (2017)

Droid – Terrestrial Mutations (2017)

Yo dawg I heard you liked Voivod! So we sounded like Voivod! Haha! To be fair, its easy to compare anything with dissonant riffing and space / sci-fi themes to the legends that are Voivod. I could say Droid sound like Voivod (which I just have) as much as Vektor sounds like Voivod, but of course Vektor and Droid sound nothing alike. Hopefully you can see where I’m going with this? (Perhaps not, I’ve had too much caffiene) Terrestrial Mutations is a solid hour of proggy, weird metal. That much at least, cannot be debated. Their music is equally spacey / experimental as it is precise and hard-hitting. Truly, an all-round winner. I hope they release more albums.

Jim Kirkwood  – Where Shadows Lie (1990/2007)

Jim Kirkwood – Where Shadows Lie (1990/2007)

Where Shadows Lie simply has to be one of my absolute favourite Jim Kirkwood works. Magnificant, triumphant, uplifitng, magical, spellbinding. These are all words that can accurately convey the musical message avialable to you by pressing play on a copy of this record. Combining Berlin School longform electronics with the Tolkien fantasy vibes in a way that only he can do so well, Kirkwood is absolutely on fire here. A highlight of the entire discography for sure, and a magical experience all in all.

Rommel – Vol. 1 (1987)

Rommel – Vol. 1 (1987)

Suitably as nonsensical as the band’s promo photos, Rommel come across like a hair metal version of Venom. It’s all good, silly metal fun (which does not match the band name at all), with the charm that comes from old school metal demos that proliferated on the cassette format. Don’t go in expecting the world and you will no doubt have fun.

Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith (1984)

Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith (1984)

It would probably be pretty obvious to say that Defenders Of The Faith is up there with the best of the Priest albums. Everyone knows this. What I will say however is that this one is loaded to the gills with unforgettable songs. There are very few troughs, instead the whole thing is like one giant peak of incredible songwriting. Couple that with the band firing on all cylinders and the production being perfectly balanced, warm and clear, and you’ve got a winner.

Winds Of The Black Mountains – Sing Thou Unholy Servants (1998)

Winds Of The Black Mountains – Sing Thou Unholy Servants (1998)

Beautiful artwork (always a good start). It took me a few listens to get into this. I enjoyed the core of the black metal sound, but found the other elements meandering, distracting even. I am glad however that I took the time to return to Unholy Servants multiple times over the last few months. The “White Rabbit” cover aside (here as “Black Goat”), this is a fantastic record. There is a lot of merit in having a core sound and using it as a base to build off and experiment. I think this record showcases that kind of approach brilliantly.

Dimmu Borgir – Spiritual Black Dimensions (1999)

Dimmu Borgir – Spiritual Black Dimensions (1999)

Oddly dense yet also fairly hollow and empty, Spiritual Black Dimensions has the unfortunate displeasure of having no stand-out tracks on an album that is sandwiched between two albums considered greats of their respective eras. This is a slight shame because those trademark early Dimmu riffs are to-die for, as is the general performance. Production-wise, this attempts to be an Enthrone… part 2, but musically it is just not as strong.

Sedimentum – Suppuration Morphogénésiaque (2022)

Sedimentum – Suppuration Morphogénésiaque (2022)

Ugh my brothers this shit fucking slaps. Ultra down-tuned, sewer dwelling “modern old school” death metal is the order of the day, with beyond stunning cover artwork to boot. Like a horde of mutants rising from the radioactive waste deep below your homes and cities, Supporation Morphogenesiaque shuffles and shambles right up to your front door, dripping flesh and slime, before eating off your entire face.

Wurdulak – Ceremony In Flames (2001)

Wurdulak – Ceremony In Flames (2001)

People seem to shit on this project but I’ve enjoyed both the full lengths I’ve heard. Ceremony In Flames gives black metal a bit of groove, and Maniac’s vocals (shared here with Killjoy from Necrophagia) are always a fucking pleasure to listen to. If you think Maniac is a shit vocalist you need to get your fucking head checked. Production is thick and chunky yet dynamic and organic – which works well with cold black metal riffs (who’d have thought?) as well as the more groovier passages. This shit rules. Fuck the haters.

Torsofuck – Postpartum Exstasy (2023)

Torsofuck – Postpartum Exstasy (2023)

Not gonna lie to you, this is pretty good. I went into it with low expectations and ended up really enjoying this comeback record. Granted, the start is a little shaky (track one just doens’t have the “fuck yeah, Torsofuck is fucking back, fuckwads” feeling that you’d expect after such a huge gap, but the record soon finds its feet and away we go. The drum machine is a bit hollow-sounding, and some of the longer samples will probably piss some people off at only half hour in runtime, but for the most part this is a solid brutal death / pornogrind record.

Impaled Nazarene – Ugra-Karma (1993)

Impaled Nazarene – Ugra-Karma (1993)

One of the most perfect extreme metal records of all time. Why? Well 1.) the drums are not drowned out by all the other shit. 2.) this fucker mixes grindcore and black metal / war metal in the best possible way, on top of which subtle melodies also play on some tracks (“Horny And The Horned” being the best example). Besides, the super inoffensive cover art pissed a lot of religious folk off, which is also a giant tick in the box for a band from 1993, as that stuff was all the rage back then (the reissued cover art is shite mind you). But yeah – not gonna ramble for hours on this one. Music go brrrr.

Vothana – Biệt động quân / Commando (2020)

Vothana – Biệt động quân / Commando (2020)

There is a tangible undercurrent to Vothana’s work that at first I didn’t quite understand. I mean, that sounds pretty silly I guess because this is just very noisy, lo-fi black metal with a lot of melody hidden in it. But it is the way in which said melodies are composed. All the songs sound immediately like Vothana in their uniqueness away from other artists in the field, yet also rather somewhat all sound similar to each other in the context of an album. Throw in the fact that this thing is as long as it is, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, on paper at least. Thankfully, in execution, Commando (etc etc) is a pleasure to listen to. The production is grimy, but is a massive part of the charm.

Necromantia – Ancient Pride (1997)

Necromantia – Ancient Pride (1997)

I have a love / hate relationship with Necromantia. I can only imagine it’s due to how they use a bass guitar (or two), which is far from usual. Sometimes it works, other times it’s just absolute carnage (and not in a good way). This early EP is fantastic however, with a fair and balanced production and a brilliant set of songs.

Depression – Ära Der Finsternis (2020)

Depression – Ära Der Finsternis (2020)

I really love what Darkthrone have come back around to doing. This is some sort of very organic mix of black and doom metal, which works with a confident ease you could only attain no doubt after several decades in the game. It’s odd, because there’s not all that many people playing in this style, but it sounds like such an obvious blend of metal subgenres. Tracks like “Impeccable Caverns Of Satan” and “Stalagmite Necklace” are some of Darkthrone’s best from any era.

Darkthrone – Astral Fortress (2022)

Darkthrone – Astral Fortress (2022)

I really love what Darkthrone have come back around to doing. This is some sort of very organic mix of black and doom metal, which works with a confident ease you could only attain no doubt after several decades in the game. It’s odd, because there’s not all that many people playing in this style, but it sounds like such an obvious blend of metal subgenres. Tracks like “Impeccable Caverns Of Satan” and “Stalagmite Necklace” are some of Darkthrone’s best from any era.

Dead Infection – Surgical Disembowelment (1993)

Dead Infection – Surgical Disembowelment (1993)

Earlier Dead Infection is a turbid bowl of rancid mush – and I’m not talking about the lyrical content here. Surgical Disembowelment may be a tad onto the wrong side of “bad production”, where the audio infidelity instead starts to chew at the experience of listening, rather than contributing to it. The grinding of the guitar sounds like a tumble dryer filled with human remains sloshing around at half speed. Nevertheless, if you like dusty old goregrind that sounds like it was recorded in a bloodstained cellar then this will be for you.

Eternal Fear – Pagan Souls of Ryczyn… Zvantevith (1995/2017)

Eternal Fear – Pagan Souls of Ryczyn… Zvantevith (1995/2017)

Much more low key and uninvolved than Ancient Woods. Kinda sounds like background music from a DOS game like Daggerfall during its best moments, and like pointless ambient effects in its worst. Considering the total run time is just over 15 minutes, it is a shame that the level of quality here is but a fraction of what I expected to find. This is not a gem that’s worth unearthing.

CxMxP – Transforming Into A Grinding Beast (2003)

CxMxP – Transforming Into A Grinding Beast (2003)

Not as good as the split with DHIBAC but still a solid fucking goregrind album nonetheless. When I think of goregrind, I never see anyone talking about these guys, ever. It seems like they truly slipped through the cracks. Anyway, I guess they are atypical of the style. I guess this is closer to regular grindcore but with some pitchshifter vocals thrown in. Good shit either way.

Angstloch – The Shades of Pale Night (2023)

Angstloch – The Shades of Pale Night (2023)

Love the art so got myself a digital copy – vocals let this thing down, to be honest. They are halfway between a croak and a shout, giving off a frog gargling rocks effect, which I’m sure they were not going for. Underneath all of that however, there is a wall of fuzz punctuated with some nice dreamy synths. The tracks are fairly meandering – I just wish this hit a little tiny bit better. Hopefully the project can build off this sound into something bigger and better.

Beherit – Electric Doom Synthesis (1996)

Beherit – Electric Doom Synthesis (1996)

Pardon me for being tride in offering the plain fact that this is just more or less H418ov21.C Part II. There are slight differences, for example Holocaust’s production skill has come along a little bit and it therefore isn’t as spare perhaps as it’s predecessor, but for the most part, if you like sparse, ambient electronics with a slightly spooky cyber feel, you’ll be right at home here.

Beherit – H418ov21.C (1994)

Beherit – H418ov21.C (1994)

What the ever-loving fuck is this? Hahaha To be fair, after the initial adjustment of coming from “war metal” Beherit, this thing starts off pretty good. It eventually devolves into a series of silly noises but when it hits (which is about half of the time to be honest) then this record comes at you like some sort of cult 90s PC game OST (think Doom 64 crossed with Syndicate Wars).

Absurd – Werwolfthron (2001)

Absurd – Werwolfthron (2001)

An atmospheric, excellent offering from the controversial Absurd. The instrumentals (which are short but very effective) set the pace for the rabid black metal attack to follow. As always with this era of Absurd, the vocals are the high point in my opinion. Really great, evil and terrifying vocals lead the way. The riffs are simple, based around more traditional folk melodies perhaps, but they do the trick. Only downside for me is the drumming is kind of drowned out in the mix.

Desecration – Cemetery Sickness (2014)

Desecration – Cemetery Sickness (2014)

Cut up and fed to the dog! The difference between Desecration and many other death metal bands riding on the cheeky / fun / silly / gross subject matter train is that Desecration are actually really fucking great, and Cemetery Sickness is no exception. Everything here is razor sharp and on-point; riffs, vocals and drums (man, the drums!) Speaking of the vocals, there’s a bit more of a range here than usual, which is always nice. There’s some guesties thrown in too, for good measure. The overall production sound, although similar to the previous album, also breathes a bit more organically. The bass is clearly audible, clanking away beneath the insane percussion and maniacal riffage. Fantastic stuff.

Cradle Of Filth – Invoking The Unclean (1992)

Cradle Of Filth – Invoking The Unclean (1992)

Shaky beginnings for everyone’s shrieking banshee led symphonic black metal band (yes, I categorised them as such, fucking deal with it). Expect instead of fragile, glittering hymns of erotic vampirism a hammer to the face in the bluntest fuzzy analogue way. If you love tape trading and early death metal demos then you’ll love this, otherwise you probably won’t find any value in this unless you are perhaps a crazed CoF superfan frothing at the mouth over the prospect of unearthing muddy early demos. Invoking The Unclean however, is a Cradle that is almost unrecognisable. Mad how things change, innit?

Operation Volkstod – Anti-Fascist Black Metal (2019)

Operation Volkstod – Anti-Fascist Black Metal (2019)

This seems to get a lot of shit online, but I’ve got to say that the whole operation (lol) is very well made, IMO. I do understand the (perhaps ironic) constant nods to Burzum in the guitar deparment (not that Burzum is a NSBM band but that’s another story for another day), but hey, this shit fucking rules. What it does lose points for however is the fairly bland and mechanical drum programming. As a fanatic of the most awful and disgusting drum machine grindcore however, I can look past this, but I can understand why maybe others cannot. Don’t get me wrong, it works well, until maybe there are pummelling blasts, double-bass etc., and then it just sounds mechanical as fuck. Aborym has entered the chat. But yeah, this is fucking good.

Vampirska – Torturous Omens of Blood and Candlewax (2020)

Vampirska – Torturous Omens of Blood and Candlewax (2020)

I love everything about this. The cover is perhaps a little bit on the nose, but I can live with that. The sound is warm, yet cacophonous and necro as fuck (or is that fukk?). These songs are no jokes, and epics like “A Pale Face Eclipsed by Shadows” and the oddly-titled closer “Feasting on the Dried Blood of Majesties” have cemented Vampirska as a project for me to explore further. Beautiful stuff.

Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance (1982)

Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance (1982)

Bold, magnificant, triumphant – these are just some of the words you could use to describe Judas Priest in this particular era of thier career. “Riding On The Wind” is all of these things, but coupled with a radio-friendly sensibility that no doubt effortlessly added to the band’s interstellar levels of success. My three year old son loves chanting along to the chorus of “Bloodstone” (he thinks the words are “let’s go!” but hey, that’s cool as fuck. My favourite songs are “Electric Eye” and “(Take These) Chains”. My version closes with “Prisoner Of Your Eyes” which I guess is a ballad. That doesn’t really land, in my opinion, but otherwise this is a great effort.

Grausamkeit – Der Alles Vernichtende Blitz (2001/2019)

Grausamkeit – Der Alles Vernichtende Blitz (2001/2019)

Probably up there with the rawest of the raw, this profilic project has some interesting gems. Unfortunately, Der alles vernichtende Blitz isn’t really one of them. It is a good lo-fi BM recording, but nothing really elevates it into the sphere of gods except for the final track, “V”, which sounds like it’s from a different session altogether. Honestly, if all the tracks were as good as this one, this one would be there with the best Grausamkeit has to offer.

Etzhasatan – Moon Shining Through The Window (2022)

Etzhasatan – Moon Shining Through The Window (2022)

One of the best black metal releases that I have come across in recent weeks! Raw, lo-fi black metal is of course the order of the day, but there is this amazing touch of sorrowful melody laid over the top of the fuzzy, dusty instruments. I guess it is another guitar, but damn, the way it cuts through all the songs, it gives them a whole new meaning and life. Couple this with the raw production and either some sort of tape effect or tremolo effect on the melody and it sounds very sorrowful. The tape is on it’s way to Lines in Wax HQ, no doubt it will sound even better when I play back the cassette. Highly recommended black metal!

Forgotten Ruin – Incantation Of Lust (2022)

Forgotten Ruin – Incantation Of Lust (2022)

Well then, this is all kinds of awful lmao – there is an underlying charm to proceedings but the shakiness is really hard to ignore, particularly when it comes to the percussion. The drums are all over the place and really distract you from the songs. I can get behind lo-fi production, bad guitar and bad vocals, but as soon as the drums can’t keep time you might as well just start over.

Anal Massaker / Musical Arse Decomposition – Split 7” (1996)

Anal Massaker / Musical Arse Decomposition – Split 7” (1996)

Nonsense of the highest order, which is why you are here, right? I haven’t heard Anal Massaker since their split with 2 Minuta Dreka so it’s really cool to come back to these guys. It’s just total noisecore fuckery, of course. Musical Arse Decomposition is new for me (lol) and here on the flip side is just more variations on the current theme, to be honest. All good with me though, carry on grinding! This 7” is nearly 10 mins a side too, how is that even possible? Don’t suppose sound quality is anyone’s priority here though.

V.G.F. / Warhorness – Split Tape (2001)

V.G.F. / Warhorness – Split Tape (2001)

VGF is an interesting project. Blurring the lines between black metal and noisecore, the side farts and rattles through some disgusting lo fi material. Speaking of lo fi, the Warhorness side isn’t exactly “mastered at half speed over at Abbey Road” quality, but it’s a damn sight clearer than VGF. Songs from Warhorness are in the dirty noisy grind style; short, sharp bursts with callbacks to 80s proto-black/death. Think Nunslaughter but even more perverted and you wouldn’t be too far off.

Godflesh – Streetcleaner: Live At Roadburn 2011 (2013)

Godflesh – Streetcleaner: Live At Roadburn 2011 (2013)

I was in attendance for this momentous event; it was not one that I would have missed for the world, having travelled to France the year before for Godflesh’s reformation show (hideously cut short to half hour). Roadburn of course, pulled all their tricks (or is that cash?) out of the bag and thus began a series of performances of Godflesh albums at the 013 in Tilburg. I was not present for the others, but I was there for this one. This 2xLP set (which I picked up the year after, if my memory serves) is an accurate a document that you are going to get of the messy, destructive carnage that was this performance of Streetcleaner. In some ways more brutish than its original recording, in others perhaps more restrictive without that second guitar, but nevertheless a fantastic rendition. I’ve toyed with selling this off many a time, but I’ll probably hold onto it for the sheer memory of it alone. Aurally its not THAT good – I would always pick the actual Streetcleaner album over this. But it’s pretty important to me, as a physical trace of a memory. After all, this was now 12 years ago, which is just fucking insane to me.

Vangelis – See You Later (1980)

Vangelis – See You Later (1980)

An interesting effort from the legendary Vangelis, with the trademark dreamy atmosphere. Here the tones are a lot lighter and airy, giving the whole record a nonchalant feel. I couldn’t resist the album at only £3 for the 12″ vinyl, but after owning this for about a decade I have only played it a handful of times. The end of side A and the side B track “Suffocation” are probably my favourite. Unfortunately, my copy is scratched as the record transitions into the title track, but what are you gonna do.

Cephalotripsy – Uterovaginal Insertion Of Extirpated Anomalies (2007)

Cephalotripsy – Uterovaginal Insertion Of Extirpated Anomalies (2007)

As far as slam goes, then this should tick all of your boxes. Unreadable logo? Check. Late 2000s Visual Darkness album sleeve? Check. Absurd song titles? Check. We’re off to the races, guv’nor! I’ve got this fucker on vinyl and I gotta be honest it packs a hell of a punch. I’ve often had the complaint that the drums on this thing (whilst performed incredibly well) have a cardboard kind of sound to them, rather than the usual slam ping pings. Real talk though, this thing is just shy of 40 minutes of intense breakdowns / beatdowns / whatever punctuated by the occasional flurry of gravity blasts. There is no big brain take for me to give you here. Me like slam. Me play record. Me bang head. Tidy.

Isengard – Vinterskugge (1995)

Isengard – Vinterskugge (1995)

Whilst this is a collection of various different sessions, things are surprisingly coherent (that is until we get to Chapter Three perhaps). I’m happy to just sit and listen to Fenriz do his thing for a solid hour, I’ll be honest. The man is a talented songwriter, what can I say. Musically, Vinterskugge is a collection of black and proto-black metal with Fenriz’s own personal touch and interesting flourishes, especially on the drums, although the riffs are not to be sneezed at. From an instrumental / “dungeon synth” perspective, track 5 (“In the Halls and Chambers of Stardust the Crystallic Heavens Open”) is one of the best things I’ve heard in the style for quite some time. I don’t drink anymore but I really feel like a flagon of mead in front of roaring fire all of a sudden.

Pissmoon – The Cryptic Winds Of Black Divinity (2019)

Pissmoon – The Cryptic Winds Of Black Divinity (2019)

Enjoyable lo-fi black metal with dungeon synth “moments”. Through the inpenetrable fuzz of the production, little moments of clarity can be snatched if one is paying attention. There is an underlying melody to the dust-caked, mouldy proceedings. A perfect example of this would be the variations on the key melody in “Enthroning of the Immortal Majesty”. I really enjoyed this. The name is pretty funny too.

Concrete Winds – Primitive Force (2019)

Concrete Winds – Primitive Force (2019)

Primitive Force comes at you with quite a regimented and organised sound, which is refreshing for a genre that is usually wallowing in unhinged, boundless carnage. That is not to say, of course, that a fair share of carnage is not present on this record. The Josefsson’s batter you into the ground with their military-grade precision and fathomless brutality. It is perhaps not as unforgiving as some music in the war metal style, but where the band make up for this is in the production and the unholy guitar tone, which is one of the best tones I’ve heard in some time. Genuinely sick shit, love it!

Dark Funeral – Secrets Of The Black Arts (1996)

Dark Funeral – Secrets Of The Black Arts (1996)

Disappointingly bland on both accounts, whether you are addressing the original “demos” / studio version or the Tagtgren-led second attempt. There is nothing “wrong” per se with any of the elements that come together to compose Secrets Of The Black Arts, its just everything comes together in such a way to leave you with the most uninspired and “safe” intepretation of the black metal sound. It is crazy to me that this came out in 1995, it feels like a clone from ten years later rather than a band that was a forerunner in the style. A shame.

Marijannah – Till Marijannah (2018)

Marijannah – Till Marijannah (2018)

Would it be wrong of me to say that a stoner / doom metal album is derivative? Surely the whole genre itself now has “derivative” as a trope? Either way, Till Marijannah quickly falls into a comfortable pattern where the dizzying distortion of the guitars leads the way, followed by intense melodic vocals. If I had to compare this to anything, I would say that Marijannah was like a less-miserable Kroh; a fun listen no doubt but not one that particularily lights a fire under you. You’d think a record like this would give a guitarist like Rasyid Juraimi a good chance to spread his wings, but if you are looking for the sonic fuckery that we got from the talented stringsman on the last two Wormrot offerings then you will be sorely disappointed.

The Death’s Head Quartet – The Death’s Head Quartet (2001)

The Death’s Head Quartet – The Death’s Head Quartet (2001)

You can take one look at the staffing for this record and know immediately what kind of aural carnage you can expect. That being said, DHQ does have some sense of experimental maturity to it that I would not expect from something involving Seth Putnam. Anyway, if low, rumbling, post-apocalyptic sounds are your thing, then check out this improvised record.

Immortal – Battles In The North (1995)

Immortal – Battles In The North (1995)

One of the most perfect sonic cauldrons of sound ever created, Battles In The North is absolute and total blastbeat annihilation from start to finish. If your tolerance for such drumming doth not extend past the length of your average grindcore track length, then perhaps Battles In The North is not for you. Otherwise, carry on my blackened vessel of hatred, carry on! The one downside that I will bring to attention is the fact that on face-value the production can seem a little thin. Immortal would perfect this brittle guitar tone as time went on and your ears do adjust to the “wet paper” drum sound by the end of the opening title track.

Wolfnacht / Goatmoon / Thy Serpent – Split CD (2022)

Wolfnacht / Goatmoon / Thy Serpent – Split CD (2022)

Wolfnacht is not a band that I had heard before this split, but after listening to this a whole bunch of times over the last few months I have to admit that their material is my favourite on this thing. Wolfnacht’s material here is majestic and grandiose, but also with that harsh bite that you want from good black metal. The vocals are rabid and fitting, and additional synth work over the top varies from sounding like 90s CoF to going a bit more “cosmic” in it’s choice of patches and melodies. Great stuff. Goatmoon’s stuff here seems a bit silly in comparison, with a haunted house piano and vocals that sound like some sort of demented crow squawking over the tunes. An interesting choice, but the songs here sound oddly rigid and stunted for Goatmoon, whose folk-tinged black metal usually has such a free-flowing and natural feel to it. Thy Serpent is the final band, and it’s around this time is when I tend to lose interest, if I’m honest. Their stuff isn’t particularly bad it’s just Goatmoon and Wolfnacht sound so unique that the slog that is their plodding black metal feels almost like its running at a treacle pace. The production is heavy in the “middle”, which makes the bass guitar shine, and the vocals are really cool when they do kick in, for the most part this final band didn’t really do anything for me. I’m sure they have some full-length work worth checking out though.

Sodom – In The Sign Of Evil (1985)

Sodom – In The Sign Of Evil (1985)

A brutal, blunt thrash attack with hallmarks of the proto-death and black styles abound at the time. Couple that with some iconic art and you’ve got a tough record. The production is robust and the songs pack a hell of a punch. Sodom would go on to change fairly quickly into a different style of metal (whilst retaining their heavy punch), so Sign Of Evil is a special entry into their discography, as well as being a part of metal history.

Harakiri For The Sky – Arson (2018)

Harakiri For The Sky – Arson (2018)

Easily one of the most boring pieces of music I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing, and I take no pleasure in writing such words out for all to see. The trouble with Harakiri For The Sky, is that they are not a band which immediately strike you as bad. Like a deep, penetrating damp resulting in black mould, it takes a while to unfurl and destroy. It took me a while to realise that, despite everything being in the right place, that Arson was a thoroughly empty and creatively barren record. Oh, and the lyrics are fucking terrible too.

Immortal – Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992)

Immortal – Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992)

Did anybody order any blastbeats? Because Immortal are having a sale right now. LOL. Whilst the band have retained that intricate air of chaos across its different eras and lineups, the early Immortal records were a different beast altogether. Frenetic cold energy is here by the truckload; frozen riffs propelled by batshit drums and the croaky vocals that we all love. This is absolute carnage. I love it.

Atlantean Blood – Transmission From Orion (2021)

Atlantean Blood – Transmission From Orion (2021)

What the ever-loving fuck is this? I checked it out because the cover looked like a Radio Free Innsmouth YouTube thumbnail. Expecting some low quality NSBM, instead I stumble onto a… a… what is this exactly? I suppose it falls into the neofolk category, especially with the reworking of a Death In June song towards the end. I must comment Atlantean Blood for conjuring a wholly unique atmosphere with their record here but damn, this is poor.

Aspid – Кровоизлияние (1993)

Aspid – Кровоизлияние (1993)

What a hidden gem! One that not only rewards those who go exploring “off the beaten track” as it were, but one that continously rewards its listeners upon repeat visits. On the face of it, Aspid are a typical thrash metal band, but you can peel back the layers on this thing and unravel some amazing technical feats. The drumming in particular is my favourite but this whole thing hangs in the balance of exquisite musicianship.

Grabgesang – Of Medieval Graveyard Frost (1995)

Grabgesang – Of Medieval Graveyard Frost (1995)

Asides from the hissing sibilance of the hi hat cymbals eating away at my inner ears like some giant mastoid, Of Medieval Graveyard Frost is a fabulous second-wave black metal offering. Underneath the grime and hiss of the tape, the songs sound very solid and well assembled. They are led by a maniacally riffing tremolo attack mostly, slowing into more sinister riffs periodically to really hammer home the atmosphere. The drums, as in, the actual snare etc. are very clear, it is only the cymbal elements which become ensnared in lossy cassette noise.

Wiatyk – Tron Wlen (1996)

Wiatyk – Tron Wlen (1996)

I took one look at that cover and there was no way in hell that I was not going to have a listen to this thing. Great riffs here, really cool melodic compositions, if not a bit rudimentary, lead the way ahead of snarling, howling raspy vocals. Unfortunately the drumming is very loose, but not to the point where it adds some sort of shambolic charm to proceedings. Sure, it is servicable, especially considering this is a cassette demo from 1996, but the percussion misses and off-beats can be a little off-putting.

Nokturnal Mortum – До лунарної поезії (To Lunar Poetry) (2022)

Nokturnal Mortum – До лунарної поезії (To Lunar Poetry) (2022)

Is it as good as the original? No, no it’s not. I am often a listener who is at odds with bands who choose to do this kind of re-recording (or total remixing) of older albums. I respect and honour their right to do so, but more often than not it is a pointless excercise. Nokturnal Mortum however, while they do not drop the ball, fail to really enrapture me with this modern re-recording of their cult classic. Admittedly, everything sounds great and the mix is fantastic, but if I had to provide one criticism it would be that the super modern, almost artificial feel for the drumming really does not match the vibe such a record original gave off. Likewise, the art is a massive, massive step down from what was once a haunting and evocative accompaniment to a brilliant album. Not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but one that I probably won’t return to.

Nokturnal Mortum – Lunar Poetry (1996)

Nokturnal Mortum – Lunar Poetry (1996)

The debut from Nocturnal Mortum is a stunning, ice-cold black metal affair, with fantastic keyboard work layered over the frosted, often melodic riffs. The cover art itself is beautiful and a huge part of summoning the ethereal atmosphere that this record enthralls you in. A slightly more “off the path” gem of the 90s releases in this genre, for sure.

Vothana – Không bao giờ nộp / Never To Submit (2019)

Vothana – Không bao giờ nộp / Never To Submit (2019)

If you love lo-fi shit but also love a little melody in your black metal then look no further than the controversial / confusing Vothana. Falling very nearly close to becoming an overhyped darling of the limited vinyl collecting elite, Vothana is undeniably a project that is worth your time and attention. Khong… for example is a great archetype for their releases, being overly long yet chock full of not only excellent but really interesting melodies and song structures. Don’t expect clear or hospitable production, but the layers of grime just add more charm to the whole record.

Keys to the Astral Gates and Mystic Doors – Keys to the Astral Gates and Mystic Doors (2023)

Keys to the Astral Gates and Mystic Doors – Keys to the Astral Gates and Mystic Doors (2023)

Came for the logo, stayed for the lo-fi goodness. I’m a sucker for some raw, lo-fi black metal. Keys To The Astral Gates And Mystic Doors (what a name!) deliver in spades for this style, giving twenty minutes of this on their debut release. I don’t have any stand-out tracks to report per-se, as for the three times I’ve listened to it I’ve just enjoyed the whole thing in one go. For fans of: Revenant Marquis, Old Nick, Gate Master, possibly Ildjarn

Absurd – Der Fünfzehnjährige Krieg (2008)

Absurd – Der Fünfzehnjährige Krieg (2008)

Unless I’m very much mistaken, this is a collection of older tracks from several early demos, EPs, splits etc. but re-recorded in the Totenlieder / Blutgericht style, with the same excellent production. However, it’s an idea I think which will perhaps only be appreciated by only the most die-hard Absurd fans. Whilst the folk-like simplicity (feel’s weird writing “folk” like that to indicate simple song structuring – just look at Peste Noire’s folk music) offering the only form of rigidity the old demos actually had (let’s be honest, they are terrible), and that same traditional songwriting informed this later period of the band too. Sonically, Totenlieder / Blutgericht etc are a million miles away from the grimey demos of old, but on the “theory” side, musically they are not so different. Unfortunately, the crystal clear production and the well-oiled machine that is Absurd during this era only serves to expose these early songs for what they are: not very good. As cool as it is to hear something like “Gates Of Heaven” get the treatment it deserves, a lot of these songs are too shaky on their feet and do not hold up well in the bright and unforgiving light of modern production clarity and better musical performance. This is quite a long album too, so as I said, unless you are invested somewhat in the music of Absurd, then this is going to be a slog.

Absurd – Blutgericht (2005)

Absurd – Blutgericht (2005)

I’ve always found Absurd to be as awful musically as their personal beliefs but after randomly stumbling onto their “second wind” period I was forced to change my mind. Totenlieder, with its powerful riffs and rabid vocals (some of the best in the game), coupled with its folk-simplicity and morose melodic qualities, had me re-assessing my viewpoint on Absurd. Blutgericht is well, maybe not more of the same as what we got on Totenlieder, but it is very similar and unfortunately just not as good. It’s not to say that Blutgericht is bad, it just doesn’t have the memorable songs that came before in the previous record. Production-wise, things are more or less the same, with the same polished sound and excellent clarity. The vocals, drumming and riffs are all great once more, but this just doesn’t come out as memorable as Totenlieder.

Grand Belial’s Key – Kosherat (2005)

Grand Belial’s Key – Kosherat (2005)

For all the shit I threw at Arghoslent for being racist, over-hyped trash, I have to admit that Grand Belial’s Key is pretty fucking great in comparison. The motives, themes, and folks behind this are still low on my list of likeable people for obvious reasons, but Kosherat is a solid black metal album. The production is fairly warm and clear, which itself is refreshing for black metal, but if anything this just allows the band to hammer home their sound more efficiently. The drumming is varied, and well balanced in the overall mix, underpinning the razor-sharp riffs and the excellent vocals. The vocals themselves are layered up, kinda in a war metal way. The shrieks and rasps are sometimes backed up by what sounds like pitchshifted growls (or the same raspy yelps but an octava lower). This unironically reminds me of Shagrath’s vocal techniques on Enthrone Darkness Triumphant era Dimmu Borgir, but of course GBK (Gormet Burger Kitchen?) is a completely different beast. There are also passages that are influenced from other forms of metal which added together to the cauldron of hatred make this an excellent listen. All in all, I liked this a lot more than I expected I would.

Forgotten Tomb – Songs To Leave (2002)

Forgotten Tomb – Songs To Leave (2002)

Over the last few months, this debut record from Forgotten Tomb has cemented itself as one of my favourite records in the “DSBM” style. Possessing a crisp, clean production which is the exact opposite of what I look for in my black metal, Songs To Leave is part horrifying / scary and part achingly beautiful. Such is the fragile balance that music in this style is attempting to tread, I suppose. I was going to report to some stand out songs but after putting this record on one more time to refresh myself, I found myself listening to the whole thing in one go and just loving the whole experience. The whole record flows beautifully, and I don’t know if it’s my imagination and that I’m going into some sort of low-key trance state, but there seems to be reoccuring motifs, or at least thematically similar riffs, that pull these epic tracks together into one coherent 50 minute experience. Truly, excellent stuff.

Cathedral – The Last Spire (2013)

Cathedral – The Last Spire (2013)

The Last Spire is the chunky but somewhat underwhelming final output from legendary UK doom metal band, Cathedral. The fact that I have avoided listening to this album for over a decade speaks volumes about my apprehension for finally addressing the final nail in the coffin for one of my all time favourite groups. The Last Spire then, is, a relief in some regards, because it is not a bad album. It mixes together a few eras of Cathedral, somehow going full circle to the “funeral” pace of the earlier material, whilst retaining the groove and vibe of the later stuff. For me, this album gets better as it goes on, and whilst all the songs are quite epic, the songs in the second half really speak to me in all their gothic doominess. Stand outs would include “Infestation of Grey Death”, “An Observation” and the closer “This Body, Thy Tomb”, which despite ending rather abruptly is an absolute banger. I dunno though, I expected more from Cathedral for their last hurrah. I guess they got all their experimental bones tickled on their previous record, and decided to reign in back in to skullcrushing doomery for the final goodbye. RIP Cathedral, ye shall be missed.

Peste Noire – Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor (2009)

Peste Noire – Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor (2009)

I think I am going to have to admit to myself that Peste Noire is not the band for me. As I work my way through the group’s discography, I’ve gone from absolutely astounded to bored to fucking tears. I have no idea what’s going on here, I guess there is some sort of artistic vision that I simply “do not get”, specifically in the mix of French folk and black metal. I’ve given Ballade Cuntre… (lol) a number of playthroughs and it is just not working for me at all. Throw the personal politics of Famine in on top and I’ve got no reason to keep plowing on if all of the albums after the first sound like this. I guess we shall see, but for now, my verdict is, this sucks ass.

Judas Priest – Unleashed In The East: Live In Japan (1979)

Judas Priest – Unleashed In The East: Live In Japan (1979)

This doesn’t sound like a live album at all. In fact, going in blind, all I could think of was that this was one of those “fake” live albums which are recorded in a studio. It seems I was half-correct, with the vocals being re-recorded at a later date. To be honest, they should have just scrapped the whole thing if it came to this, but whatever, live albums don’t exactly have a history of being transparent and honest with the music consumer. As for the material? Well, it’s classic Priest 70s stuff, of course, captured as the band were finding their stride in more straightforward songwriting. An interesting document of course, especially in light of the whole vocal situation, but one that I could only really recommend to completionists. There is no reason for a new fan of Judas Priest to be listening to this thing.

Tony Martin – Scream (2005)

Tony Martin – Scream (2005)

As nice as it is to explore the back catalog of Tony Martin, one of my favourite Sabbath singers, Scream really just misses the mark. The production is muddy, the songs are mostly mediocre at best, and beyond bad at worst (I’m looking at you, “The Kids Of Today”). It’s really cool that Geoff Nicholls is on this thing too, providing keyboards, and I believe some of the songs were built from Cozy Powell drum tracks, but honestly, this album just isn’t very good, I’m sorry to say.

Tony Martin – Thorns (2022)

Tony Martin – Thorns (2022)

Thorns is the very recent full length album by once-Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin. With Sabbath, and I’m guilty of this myself, his output is often overlooked, which is a shame because albums like Headless Cross have gone on to be my favourites from Black Sabbath. Anyway, let’s talk about Thorns. Thorns has a stacked line-up, and a polished, modern sound. This gives Martin’s rock numbers a shot in the arm, essentially I guess this is Martin’s version of Painkiller (lol). Never thought I’d hear LD.50-era Mudvayne slap bass on a Tony Martin song but hey, life is full of surprises. Most of the songs here are very, very good indeed, and I’m very to happy to see that Tony Martin has such a strong and unique voice, even into his old age. Age is no doubt the enemy of heavy metal vocalists, especially those who have legacies built in hitting the higher notes. I’m not saying that Martin can still belt out the chorus to “Headless Cross”, but he’s still got a fantastic range, and his voice is very balanced. What draws points from Thorns however is some of the most awful songs I have ever heard in my entire life. One of these was on Tony’s last album, Scream, and there is – of course – one here too. I’m talking about “No Shame At All”, with some of the cringiest lyrics I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing, and on top of that the song itself sounds like something Mushroomhead would have created in 2010, which is uhhh, not great, folks. This album is also front-loaded, with all the best stuff at the front. Oh, and that art. Good heavens above!

Gate Master – Relics (2023)

Gate Master – Relics (2023)

Gate Master knocks it out of the park once more with the follow up to In Pursuit Of Forbidden Knowledge. I love the black metal here, easily some of my favourite dissonant, barely audible stuff (haha). It sounds like I’m joking but this thing is absolutely dripping in atmopshere. The “dungeon synth” style pieces that punctuate the record also help serve to this function, before closer “My Journey To The Stars” goes off to oblivion. Unsure if it is a coincidence in titling or a homage to Burzum, but the song title is the same here as on the Burzum self-titled. Mortiis also has “Towards The Gate Of Stars”, which is kinda applicable here but now I’m just rambling so best to wrap this up. TLDR: This is class.

Satanic Warmaster – Carelian Satanist Madness (2005)

Satanic Warmaster – Carelian Satanist Madness (2005)

For all its edgy rubbing up against of controversial subjects (“My Dreams Of 8” much?), Satanic Warmaster is mostly a solid and very well executed black metal project. Some albums are better than others, but Carelian Satanist Madness (sounds like another one of those triple-barrel Dimmu Borgir albums doesn’t it haha) is probably my personal favourite in regards to a distillation of Satanic Warmaster’s perfect sound. Ignore the cringe song titles, just turn off the lights and listen to the whole thing in the dark. It has the perfect blend of that second wave sound with the uniqueness of the Finnish scene.

Suffocation – Pierce From Within (1995)

Suffocation – Pierce From Within (1995)

Brutal, dry production sets the stage for bludgeoning, unforgivable riffing and pummelling drums. With Scott Burns at the helm, and Suffocation at the strings and skins, would you expect anything else? Pierced From Within takes the template set by the earlier records and expands on them, heaping on more brutality, more dexterity, more variation in different sections. There is much less here in the way of “slams” but when they do hit they have that extra level of punch.

Miles Davis – Decoy (1984)

Miles Davis – Decoy (1984)

I’ve fallen through the screen and into some rainy noir TV show set in LA or New York (probably the latter, let’s be honest). Next minute, I’m on the set of a very bad lesbian porno, with cheap tights, suspenders and hairy bushes galore. The next, beamed onto some windy beach where some buff dudes are running out into the waves, boards in hand, desperate to catch some waves. I keep falling, song by song, through all the terrible shit that I remember being on my tube TV as a kid. The reason for these vivid visions (lol) is that the music here is atrociously dated, but also rather entertaining in a strange way. Giving me a sense of nostalgia that I guess I tend to only get from listening to vaporwave. As far as Miles Davis goes however, this has to be one of the weakest entries in his massive discography.