Monday, 18 August 2014

Sleipnir - Oaths Sworn In Blood And Mead

Gardarika Musikk 2013
1.Hail the Heathen Hordes of Midgard (Sworn to the Hammer of Thor)
2.Blood on the Sword 3.Farewell (To a Fallen Brother)
4.Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead 5.The Blood & the Bones (Once We Were Kings Pt II)
6.What the Runes Fortold
As the album art states, “Sleipnir play epic Viking metal” and as ‘Hails to The Heathen Hordes Of Midgard’ opens up in massively grandiose fashion, this statement is already ringing true. Huge keyboards and horns introduce this second full length album in magnificent splendour, acting as an introduction really as it’s not until the four minute mark that the guitars, drums and vocals are introduced. Musically there is so much on offer with this opener, it is definitely Viking Metal with the obvious back metal leanings. The epic and majestic themes continuing brilliantly, vocals chants are mixed with a harsher, snarled style which when mixed sound very effective. Not your classic style of screamed black metal vocals however, which actually works in its favour. The song is broken up into sections by re-introducing the epic keyboards which sound huge, immense and hauntingly atmospheric. At over 12 minutes long, it shows a statement of intent and gives a good idea of the what’s to come in the remaining five tracks. ‘Blood On The Sword’ follows on in a similar grandiose fashion, although this time round the band chose to push the guitar based Viking metal to the front, the keyboard elements taking a back seat, but not for long however. As with the opener, keyboard sections are introduced at certain points to break the song up nicely and add an air of majesty. What also works well here is the mix of paces introduced. We finally hear the band really open up and sound more ‘black metal’ than they have done so far, harsh guitars accompany faster blast beat drumming that are both backed up by atmospheric keyboards. Clocking in at 11:30 this is another monster of a song, not that you really notice! There is so much variation and the songs are so full of splendour that the song lengths become utterly irrelevant.
‘Farewell (To A Fallen Brother’) oozes haunting melodies and a devastatingly morbid passion that is definitely an ode to fallen comrades. If ever a song title was summed up by the music perfectly, then this is the song to do it. Utter brilliance. Fans of Bathory, (older) Enslaved, Thyrfing etc will understand the band! Rather than breaking the song up with keyboard sections, atmospheric acoustic guitars and spoken vocals lines are used, again, to great effect. It all just adds to the atmosphere, especially when the band break from these sections and re-introduce the faster, harsher, more ‘black metal’ sounding sections. ‘An Oath Sworn In Blood And Mead’ follows on seamlessly, keyboards ending the previous track and introducing this one, as ever, in a morbid and atmospheric fashion. The bands ability to keep the listener engaged is what really works well here as they have so much to offer, working each element into every song to maximum effect as is heard here. Everything being put to good use, mixed and matched so well to create another truly epic piece of music. Hints of Abigor creep in slowly here, only hints though! The two remaining tracks ‘The Blood And The Bones’ and ‘What The Runes Fortold’ are again, absolute monsters that incorporate each and every element of the band’s music, albeit in even more atmospheric and dare I say ‘catchy’ fashion. There really does seem to be sorrow ‘etched’ into every song on this album (and having read Darklords thanks on the album, it becomes apparent just why his work is filled with sorrow and how uses that loss to create such chilling and haunting atmospheres). It’s only every so often that an album of such brilliance really takes you to another level when listening to it, but that’s exactly what happens with ‘Oaths Sworn In Blood And Mead’. It quite literally draws you in and takes you on a journey you probably weren’t expecting. Sleipnir really have created an album a cut above the rest, certainly in terms of UK releases, if not the genre as a whole. Massive in both terms of length and atmosphere, it’s another fine example of UK extreme metal at the top of its game and this release comes as highly recommended as possible and is a cd you must own if you’re a fan of Viking Metal -  to not own it is an absolute travesty!
9.5 Out Of 10
Buy It: Here

No Fucks Given - Gold Tooth in a Mouth Full of Rotten Fillings

Self Released 2014
1.Fresh Hell 2.Never Fast Enough 3.Any Minute Now I'm Going to Kill Someone
4.Nation of Cunts 5.Tanks are Shit 6.Barcoder
7.Thanks for the Memories, Now Fuck Right Off 8.This is the End, My Rotten Fiend
Eight tracks in fifteen minutes? That's grind for you! Specifically in this case UK crusty grinders No Fucks Given and their new release "Gold Tooth in a Mouth Full of Rotten Fillings". Now some of you may be thinking... how do they expect to get anywhere with a name like that? In answer read the name again and shut your flaps! Not the biggest of grind fans, even I can't help but by impressed with this quarter hour of putrid ramblings, hostile noise and rampant aggression. Opener "Fresh Hell" is a reverb shrouded blast of murky air, slow and sludge like one moment, frantic and aiming for your throat the next! "Never Fast Enough" is the musical equivalent of throw enough shit at a wall and some will stick, a testimony to the bands don't give a rats ass ethos with some slower, more crushing moments thrown in whilst the hilarious titled (But probably deadly serious) "Any Minute Now I'm Going to Kill Someone" mixes slower crust/hardcore vibes before exploding violently into a rampage of violence! A "Nation of Cunts"? Hard not to agree really but seriously... what do these guys have against tanks? There really is little else to say on the matter of No Fucks Given... in terms of intensity and flat out aggression the band never wavers and a grisly ode to The Doors for the finale of "This is the End, My Rotten Fiend" is a cool touch! In short, get this!
7 Out Of 10
Band Page: Here

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Arcane North - Enter the Arcane North

Self Released 2014
1. Ravenous and Cavernous 2. Eternal Forest Waltz 3. Beneath the Crooked Oak
The north of England is synonymous with many things. Old mining villages, salt of the earth people and a no nonsense attitude. Also it is the birthplace of true black metal (Ahem, Venom anyone?) and over the last three decades the north has produced some classic and often under-rated bands. Think of the likes of A Forest of Stars, Old Corpse Road, White Medal and the likes. County Durham now has a new name to add to the list with one man outfit Arcane North and its debut EP "Enter the Arcane North", a three track opening offering of atmospheric black metal. William, the man behind Arcane North draws inspiration from his surroundings and the world brought to life in his own dreams, from supreme bleakness to dazzling greenery, all of this is filtered into his work which opens with "Ravenous and Cavernous" and sees this lengthy and thought provoking project begin slowly with a cloying dark ambiance created through cold, methodical riffs, strangled vocal work and impressive atmospheric synth shrouded the sturdy drumming and bass display! As things progress the chugging pace continues and more emphasis is out into the swirling atmospheres and undertones that make this work come alive! Not only that but the vocal display is a blend of passion, angst, fury and pain that bleeds into the music superbly. "Eternal Forest Waltz" is exactly what you'd hope for. Thoroughly nocturnal vibes, owls hooting and a slow meander through the trees in the moonlight whilst depressive chant like music fills your mind and expands your understanding and awareness of what’s around you, as does finale track "Beneath the Crooked Oak" which offers up more sounds of nature and wildlife whilst the slow rhythmic drum beats leads ritualistically into another slow, ponderous track filled with mysterious chant like vocals and more intensive grinding riffs and haunting atmospherics!  Arcane North then add majestically to the North’s black metal heritage and look likely to add even more to it in coming years!
8 Out Of 10 - Luke Hayhurst
Band Page: Here

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Austerymn - In Death We Speak

GoatPrayer Records 2013
1.In Death We Speak 2. Excarnation
There really isn’t any getting away from the influences that old school death metal Austerymn draw from. It’s all about the old school Swedish death metal sound here. Think Nihilist, Dismember, Carnage, Grave etc. and you know what you’re in for! ‘In Death We Speak’ is a two track offering which was originally released on cassette, only fitting giving the nature of the music on offer. From start to finish, the two tracks (‘In Death We Speak’ and ‘Excarnation’) absolutely ooze pure death metal filth, the guitar production in particular paying homage to that early Stockholm sound and add to that the reverb and echo heavy vocal production and Austerymn have pretty much nailed it here. Throughout both tracks there is a swagger and a catchiness to their song writing and if any comparisons were needed then (older, Like An Ever Flowing Stream era) Dismember is the first band that springs to mind. There’s a really good mix of paces in both tracks, moving effortlessly from the slow morbid crawls through to the faster blasting sections.
The band has recently signed with Spanish label Memento Mori and what a great addition to the label these lads are, their style will fit in perfectly with other roster bands. Judging by this promo, there is indeed a great deal to look forward to on their full length album. Morbid, fetid and uncompromising old school (Swedish influenced) death metal that really packs a punch, Austerymn will definitely appeal to those old school death metallers who need a trip down memory lane and those younger fans just getting into the genre that need an introduction on how death metal should be delivered! This promo comes very highly recommended as I’m sure the forthcoming full length will – here’s hoping! Note – If you like your death metal all nice and polished and triggered to fuck, stay well away!!
8.5 Out of 10
Band Page: Here