DARK FUNERAL – Where Shadows Forever Reign

Dark Funeral - Where Shadows Forever ReignThe Ineffable Kings of Darkness make a monumental return with one of the best albums of their career.  Absolutely no disrespect to the excellent, previous two albums, Attera Totus Sanctus and Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus, but Where Shadows Forever Reign is on another level and unequivocal proof that DARK FUNERAL is only getting better with time.

It was not easy to replace one of the greatest vocalists in extreme metal history in Emperor Magnus Caligula as evidenced by the short stint with vocalist Nachtgarm.  However, Heljarmadr perfectly steps into the position.  His most distinctive characteristic may be his clear enunciation of each word ala David Vincent, which brings greater communication to the great lyrics.

Where Shadows Forever Reign takes the classic DARK FUNERAL sound of pure darkness, unrelenting speed, and those fantastic melodies, and expands on it with a grander presentation, the most diverse songs of any previous album, and more soul.  The songwriting is masterful in that there is always a perfect transition between song sections or a build up of a riffing theme within each song.

As I Ascend” is a perfect example of the band’s growth as songwriters.  This slow, brooding song is easily the most soulful song of DARK FUNERAL‘s catalogue.  It perfectly embodies the journey and triumph of overcoming struggle and dark times in life.  “Temple of Ahriman” is another doomy song that works well to create the blackest atmosphere.

In a coincidental way, DARK FUNERAL also fills a void left by the mighty DISSECTION in that the melancholic and epic melodies on Where Shadows Forever Reign are reminiscent of the latter’s first two albums.  Let’s also give praise to the excellent cover artwork by Necrolord.  Another instant classic.

In a time where most of the Sweden’s black metal bands have disbanded or compromised their sound, the importance and relevance of Where Shadows Forever Reign cannot be understated.  Long may DARK FUNERAL carry the torch. (Century Media Records)

BLOODY HAMMER’s Upcoming Lovely Sort of Death Sounds Like Another Winner

BLOODY HAMMERS will follow up to 2014’s Under Satan’s Sun with Lovely Sort of Death on August 5, 2016 via Napalm Records.

“This album is certainly the darkest album I’ve ever recorded”, states BLOODY HAMMERS mastermind Anders Manga. Through the snowy winter of 2015, Anders began writing, but this time took a much darker and atmospheric direction. For the first time he added thick Moog sounds along with his normal fuzzed-out guitar, with more atmospheric keys provided by Devallia.

Check out the videos for the first three songs released, “Bloodletting on the Kiss,” “The Reaper Comes,” and “Messalina“:

Iceland’s KONTINUUM Join Season of Mist Roster

Season of Mist are proud to announce the signing of Reykjavik, Iceland’s KONTINUUM. Regarding their signing, KONTINUUM comment: “We are very pleased to announce our signing with Season of Mist. For us it is important to work with people that we connect with. People that relate to our creative output and vision. This is why we look forward to our future cooperation with Season of Mist.”

Check out our reviews for the very good first two albums, Earth Blood Magic and Kyrr.

BMG Announces Acquisition of The End Records

In a surprise move, major label BMG has announced the acquisition of pioneering indie label The End Records.  The acquisition includes the entire back catalogue as well as future releases.  The End Records will continue to operate from its offices in New York.  Check out the press release here.

The label was started out of CEO Andreas Katsambas‘ home in Pasadena and flourished in the early years as a label that pioneered a new scene of eclectic, avant garde metal bands, including AGALLOCHWINDS, and EPOCH OF UNLIGHT.  They also made a name for themselves by becoming the trailblazer in having the best selection of underground metal and rock albums in its online shop.  One did not have to pay $30 for a copy of ARCTURUSLa Masquerade Infernale.  The now industry standard pre-release album packages with a limited edition t-shirt, CD, vinyl, and mp3s was a concept pioneered by Katsambas.

The End Records partnered with many underground European labels such as Black Mark, Osmose Productions, Music for Nations and Listenable Records to provide distribution in North America.  One could finally pick up IMMORTAL‘s At the Heart of Winter at a record store at a domestic price.

Through endless hard work, struggle, and disappointments, Katsambas kept the label alive and greatly expanded the roster to include bands of all genres.  The End Records ceased to be strictly a heavy music label.  The label that was once home to ULVER, DIR EN GREY, and VOIVOD is now home to EVERCLEAR, WANZ, and THE DANDY WARHOLS.

We congratulate Andreas Katsambas and the rest of the staff, past and present, on this milestone!

 

BRUJERIA’s Pocho Aztlan Coming September 2016

Mexican outlaws, BRUJERIA, make their long awaited return with fourth full-length album, Pocho Aztlan.  It’s set for a September 16, 2016 release via their new label, Nuclear Blast.

The title translates to “Wasted Promised Land,” a combination of Aztlán, the fabled ancestral home of the Aztecs, and the term pocho, which native Mexicans use to refer—not always kindly—to their counterparts born in the States. Vocalist Brujo himself is pocho, a man caught between two worlds. Many pochos are not exactly accepted with open arms in Mexico. Meanwhile, they’re too often regarded as second-class citizens in their adopted US home.

Brujo‘s all-Spanish lyrics are as vivid as they are effective: Bona fide tales from the frontlines of the drug war, the racial divide, and the battle for the border. “A lot of BRUJERIA songs are true stories,” Brujo says. “And if they haven’t happened yet, they will happen.”

The band also includes Jeff Walker (CARCASS) and Shane Embury (NAPALM DEATH).

THE WRETCHED END – In These Woods, From These Mountains

The Wretched End - In these Woods From these MountainsAs the years go by, the original torch bearers of the legendary Norwegian black metal scene travel further down their own unique music journeys.  While the spirit, soul, and creativity will always remain intact, the darkness, extremity, and sheer sonic force has often been left in the past.  However, THE WRETCHED END continue to redefine and progress not just what extreme metal is but also what Norwegian black metal is in 2016.  The Scandinavian super group, featuring Samoth (EMPEROR, ZYKLON, SCUM), Cosmo (MINDGRINDER, SCUM), and Nils Fjellström (DARK FUNERAL, IN BATTLE) have released an ambitious and progressive work that considerably widens the scope of their music.

In These Woods, From These Mountains is arguably the band’s best album to date.  The brutal thrash dimension from debut, Ominous, is minimal, and the death metal dimension found through the first two albums are largely secondary.  It is decidedly their blackest and most atmospheric to date.  There is an emphasis on using just as much clean guitar tone-riffs to create eerie, desolate atmospheres as there are on distorted ones.  Many of the clean guitar-tone riffs could easily fit into a SLOWDIVE or MY BLOODY VALENTINE album.  Samoth and Cosmo have also focused on creating melancholic melodies that come in at the perfect junctions.  In contrast to Ominous and Inroads, the riffing and song structures have more breathing room.  It’s less of a barrage of eighth and sixteenth notes and more about longer notes.  As a result, Dominator‘s drumming becomes more crucial in providing the backbone, which he does to brilliant effect.  Few extreme metal drummers have totally mastered the art of the ride cymbal like he has.

Other interesting aspects of In These Woods, From These Mountains that should not be overlooked are the use of keyboards, samples, and Cosmo‘s clean vocals.  He has done fantastic work with WINDIR contributing clean vocals.  And while his clean vocals here aren’t as prominent, it’s a welcome new dimension.

Every song provides a different look and highlights can be found all over.  And within each song is a full range of dynamics and dimension in play.  The nuances in artistry can fully be appreciated after successive listens.  So much ground is covered.  Comparisons to EMPEROR‘s IX Equilibrium come to mind.

Opener, “Dead Icons,” begins with a cold drum march before bursting into a speeding fireball with unique, eerie guitar riffs.  The lyrics easily apply to current events affecting the world today.  “Primordial Freedom” starts out ominous and doomy before taking flight with blast beats.  “Old Norwegian Soul” may be the “purest” black metal song, complete with the haunting, low end groans of Attila Csihar (MAYHEM, TORMENTOR), keyboards, melodies, and juxtaposed tempos.  “Atheos” is an absolute high point in the band’s career with its galloping, invincible momentum. The riff that comes in at the 3:27 mark lays everything to waste.  Devastating.  THE WRETCHED END closes In These Woods, From These Mountains with a glacier-sized cover of BEL CANTO‘s “Dewy Fields.”  Helping out is Einar Solberg (LEPROUS) on lead vocals and the criminally underrated LRZ (RED HARVEST) providing the epic synth and programming.

With In These Woods, From These Mountains,  THE WRETCHED END only seek to create an immediate classic album.  There is so much greatness to behold.  Hail.  (Indie Recordings)

Title Track from DARK FUNERAL’s Upcoming Where Shadows Forever Reign Released

The excellent title track from DARK FUNERAL‘s upcoming album, Where Shadows Forever Reign, has been posted online:

Where Shadows Forever Reign” sounds like pure classic DARK FUNERAL and new vocalist Heljarmadr sounds very good.  He enunciates each word very clearly ala David Vincent.

Band leader/guitarist Lord Ahriman comments: “I’ve said it before, but in case you missed it, I will say it again. WE ARE BACK!!! And to prove that we’re really back to reclaim the throne once and for all, we now have the privilege to let you all get a taste of what is to come in the form of the epic title track of our long awaited new masterpiece! Sit back, put your speakers on max and enjoy the ride through ancient realms so forlorn and cold, the majestic realm where shadows forever reign.”

Vocalist Heljarmadr further adds: “The lyrics to ‘Where Shadows Forever Reign‘ deal with self sacrifice. To reach further on my spiritual path I must give something from myself. Be it material or a piece of my heart and soul, as long as it’s something that deeply matters. To truly reach the world of shadows I must summon my inner shadows, my inner darkness and allow no light.”

Six years after the release of their last album, DARK FUNERAL will finally release their new album on June 3rd, 2016 via Century Media Records.  Album cover artwork was done by Necrolord and looks like a masterpiece.

Founding DARK TRANQUILLITY Member Martin Henriksson Announces Departure

Photo credit: Sinners ArtFounding DARK TRANQUILLITY member, Martin Henriksson, has announced his departure from the band.  Whether it was through his bass playing in the earlier years to his guitar playing, he helped start a revolutionary new style of metal and put Gothenberg, Sweden on the map for the past 26 years.  Here is the official statement:

“While putting the finishing touches on the material for our next album, we have to inform you that guitarist and original member Martin Henriksson sadly but amicably left the band a couple of months ago. Here is his statement:

“Dear Dark Tranquillity fans,

“I recently quit the band. I feel I have lost the passion for playing music, and Dark Tranquillity deserves to have members that are 100% committed to the art. Therefore I decided it’s in everyone’s best interest to step aside and leave the band with the best possible ability to grow and get even stronger. I’ve had 26 years filled with wonderful memories and we made a lot of great music together, and for that I’m forever grateful. Thanks to all the fans, crew and other people involved that supported Dark Tranquillity through the years!
“Yours,
Martin Henriksson

RIP Friend and Comrade, Brandon Stratton (aka Rawknrollchef13)

Brandon StrattonIt is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of our friend and brother in music, Brandon Stratton (Rawknrollchef13).  He passed away this past Friday after a sudden and shocking illness.

We first met Brandon back in the late 90’s as an awesome guy with great taste in music.  He had a particular affinity for Scandinavian rock ‘n roll (i.e. HELLACOPTERS, GLUECIFER) and stoner rock before those bands and scenes became widespread knowledge.  Like some of us music lifers, he graduated from working in record stores to working behind the scenes at record labels.  Brandon started out in the retail/distribution sides of things at Century Media Records and moved up to helping to run sub-label, Liquor and Poker Music, which focused on rock ‘n roll.  You can thank him for bringing you great albums by the HELLACOPTERS, CRASH KELLY, HANOI ROCKS, and SCOTT REEDER.

He was always great to work with and had the kind of passion for the music that brought you energy each day at the office.  You didn’t have to spend much time with Brandon to know that he was a straight shooter, trustworthy, and someone who would make sure you knew he respected you and your passion for music.  When he called you “brother,” you knew it to be true.

After he left the music biz, Brandon moved onto his passion for the culinary arts and most of all, being a proud husband and father of two boys.  Man, was he proud of being a family man.  He worked the only way he knew how, as hard as possible, to provide for them.  When we initially spoke to him about joining the APESHIT goons, he was super stoked about contributing in a myriad of ways but alas, his obligations to his family took precedent.

During this difficult time for his family, we would greatly appreciate it if you could donate to assist his family: https://www.gofundme.com/52vpeuqs

Brandon Stratton, you touched a lot of lives and we’ll always remember the brotherhood that we shared.  RIP.

THE WRETCHED END Return with New Album, In These Woods, From These Mountains

After four long years, Scandinavian supergroup THE WRETCHED END, featuring Samoth (EMPEROR, ZYKLON, SCUM), Cosmo (MINDGRINDER, SCUM, SOURCE OF TIDE), and Nils Fjellström (DARK FUNERAL, IN BATTLE), have announced the April 22, 2016 release of In These Woods, From These Mountains.  The album was recorded by the band themselves and mixed with producer Marius Strand in Norway.  Mastered at Fascination Street in Sweden, it is without doubt the strongest and most varied of the extreme metal band’s growing sonic portfolio.  Artwork was handled by Trine + Kim Design Studio.

Old friend Attila Csihar (MAYHEM, TORMENTOR) lends a hand on “Old Norwegian Soul” while LEPROUS vocalist/keyboardist Einar Solberg and RED HARVEST’s LRZ contribute on the band’s unexpected adaptation of BEL CANTO’s “Dewy Fields” for the album’s epic closer.

Samoth comments: “It’s great to finally have this album ready for release. It took us some years for various reasons; different things in our every day and professional lives that took a lot of focus on our parts. We never felt any great pressure.  Looking back, I think the whole process affected the album in a positive way. I personally feel I’ve almost come full circle with this new album, bringing more elements rooted in the darkness of black metal.”

Check out the opening song, “Dead Icons“: