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)

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“:

Watch THE WRETCHED END’s Nils “Dominator” Fjellström Prove He is a Beast

THE WRETCHED END are currently working on their third album, which is set for a 2015 release.  They just posted a video of Nils “Dominator” Fjellström laying down some of his drum tracks.  Check out why he is the blaster master:

As you can see and hear, Nils exemplifies extreme metal drumming with the key ingredients of ride and crash cymbal work.  Awesome.

Video Highlights from Wacken Open Air 2014

This past weekend, the biggest metal fest in the world, Wacken Open Air, went down with another amazing line up of bands.  None of us, APESHIT goons, were able to make the trip over to Germany but let’s check out some great footage.

MOTORHEAD played a short but sweet set.  Make sure to check them out before the opportunity ends, you know?

KREATOR always put on a good show and their performance was top notch as usual.

EMPEROR played their second to last show in honor of the 20th anniversary of the mandatory, In the Nightside Eclipse.  Ihsahn makes playing with eyeglasses cool.

The interest level in CARCASS is seemingly at all time high so let’s enjoy the band’s well deserved success.

You may not know this but AVANTASIA are huge in the metal world (outside the US).  They sell tons of records.  Check this out to see what the hype is all about.

I remember when APOCALYPTICA was just a novel band that covered METALLICA songs in a novel way.  Look at them now.  Amazing.

EMPEROR Kicks Off Nightside Eclipse Anniversary Shows at Sweden Rock 2014

Black metal kings, EMPEROR, played their first show performing In the Nightside Eclipse as part of the album’s 20th anniversary at the Sweden Rock Festival this past Saturday. Hopefully, you were one of the lucky ones at the show.

Let’s pray for a full, official band reunion as we enjoy these clips from the show. Cheers to Niclas Johansson for the footage.

EMPEROR Announce First Ever Japan Dates Celebrating In the Nightside Eclipse

The kings of black metal, EMPEROR, have announced that they will be visiting Japan for the first time this July.  They will be performing the classic, In the Nightside Eclipse, in its entirety for the two shows in Tokyo and Osaka.  Ticket info can be found here.  Here is what the band said:

“2014 marks the 20th anniversary of ‘In The Nightside Eclipse‘ and we are finally ready to announce that we are coming to
Tokyo (July 17) and Osaka (July 18) to celebrate this occasion with you.

Faust will be performing with us for the European shows, but due to visa issues he will not be able to join us in Japan. However, Trym has kindly agreed to step in and perform with us exclusively for these two shows!

“We have both had the great pleasure of performing in Japan previously, but never before as Emperor. Band and crew are all very excited about this and we all look forward to seeing you there.

“Emperial regards,

Ihsahn and Samoth

In related news, In the Nightside Eclipse has been reissued as a 20th anniversary 2-CD set in a digibook.

STAROFASH’s New Meisterwerk Ghouleh is Available Now

Notodden, Norway’s STAROFASH, featuring Heidi S. Tveitan (ex-PECCATUM), has just released their fourth album entitled  Ghouleh.  The album is available for free streaming and purchase on Bandcamp ( in addition to iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Spotify.  In other words, Ghouleh is a digital only release via Mnemosyne Productions.

Here is what she had to say about the album:

“I am very happy to share the following announcement with you 🙂
Mnemosyne Productions are proud to present the fourth album from Starofash, titled ‘Ghouleh‘. This completes Heidi S. Tveitan‘s 2013 project, where she wrote, recorded and released one song for each month of the year. The album contains all twelve songs, and finishes off with a bonus track. Artwork and design by Ideophony. Photos by Heidi S. Tveitan.”

After listening to the first few tracks, it looks like STAROFASH have another winner on their hands.  Awesome.

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2014 Show Report

The month of January brings excitement to the City of Anaheim every year, and the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2014 show is no exception!  Let’s cut to the chase this year!  A few highlights of the gazillions of musical instruments and gadgets are found below…enjoy!
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Video of the Day: MINDGRINDER’s Return from 8 Year Hiatus

It’s been a long time since MINDGRINDER‘s last album, Riot Detonator, was released (eight years to be exact).  The wait is over as the band’s third album, Prop Agenda, is available now on iTunes and Spotify.  The album was recorded in Akkerhaugen Lydstudio and MINDGRINDER‘s Barnsville Studios, mastered at Andy La Rocque‘s Sonic Train Studios, and features cover artwork by Eliran Kantor.

Check out the video for the track, “WYSIWYG“:

As a bonus, check out their awesome cover of the EMPEROR classic “I am the Black Wizards” featuring none other than EMPEROR guitarist Samoth on bass: