3 Big Black Metal Reviews for $0

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Il buono, il brutto e il Grafvitnir: Or How I listened To Black Metal On Both Sides of The Changing Year And Wrote About It. 

GRAFVITNIR – Key To The Mysteries Beyond

Every year, all the way back to 2012, Grafvitnir has delivered an album of roughly forty minutes of chaosophical black metal each December. The band, more or less, nailed their sound on the debut NâHásh, and ever since the question has not been what their offering is, but how good is it now? Their weapon of choice in their “never-ending quest for the enigmatic emerald of Lucifer” is cold, second-wave style black metal that riffs like no other, and in quantities that would make the mighty Antero Vipunen tremble in awe.

While 2016’s Obeisance To A Witch Moon seems to have flown under the radar here in The Toilet, but it’s predecessor, Necrosophia,  was well met by the Lizard describing it as “offering no respite by way of clean passages or frilly interludes, just sharply honed icicles which pierce through the foggy Scandinavian veil of Winter and perforate your ear drums on their way into your brain. While a pervading melodic element exists in the songs, it is entirely based at the cold end of the spectrum, gusting with frigid squalls rather than balmy emotive breezes.”

Very much is this true on Keys To The Mysteries Beyond as well – the atmosphere remains thick as Kandarian fog but it provided with guitars, not keyboards. The melodic work, when it takes the front, often compared to Dissection, and not completely unfairly – though the emphasis is on labyrinthine riffs that slither and curl like serpents the band is so fond of.

While Grafvitnir attempts no melding of styles unheard of, it’s riff-game is on point and unmistakable. Though something has changed, the band perhaps seeking further longevity for their creation by dividing it into three segments via instrumental, ambient-like augmentations of Chadwick St. John, offering no actual reprieve – but making the riffs all the more effective.

Unfortunately, the album doesn’t seem to be one most easily available, but you can try here as suggested by the band themselves, or send Carnal Records a message at: carnalrecords[at]hotmail[dot]com, or just try and contact the band through Facebook and see what happens.

4/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL


WATAIN – Trident Wolf Eclipse

Around five years ago, Watain released The Wild Hunt – apart from being the most sterile and clinical record to their name, it suffered from greatly extended length, boring, and unmemorable riffs, lack of general aggression and according to many – ballads. Personally I found those two songs the only somewhat memorable moments on the record, although when put back to back with other similar songs, they couldn’t hold up. The record did leave them with more open ground though, and the most interesting thing regarding Trident Wolf Eclipse is which direction it chooses. Should be a surprise to no one it’s the least surprising one.

Now, I’m not a fan of Watain’s – even though Sworn To The Dark and Casus Luciferi did have their moments, most of their discography consists of nondescript black metal. The very kind that leads to shrugging of shoulders and has potential listeners turn away from traditional bm, and dedicate their time instead to yet another ingenious Portal-clone. And while I can attest that TWE does indeed fix everything I thought was wrong with it’s predecessor, the question remains, is it any good?

From a more technical standpoint, everything is good. TWE isn’t so sterile as The Wild Hunt, although remains very clear and balanced – as on ought to expect from Century Media alumni. At 35 minutes, it’s also Watain’s shortest full-length, with songs barely varying in length at all. While the shifts in dynamic between songs isn’t as terribly pronounced and intentionally overwrought as on The Wild Hunt, the calculation remains amusingly obvious.

Opener, “Nuclear Alchemy” is some of the most furious material they’ve put to tape, a barrage of power chords only the bands inherent groove keeps afloat. Followed by “Sacred Damnation’s” more melodic dance on the fretboards, although keeping in line with the previous record, the melodic pieces stay further away from the most obvious Nödveidtisms (some still remain, have no fear). “Teufelsreich” completes the trinity with a mid-paced and atmospheric take, the rest following suit rather strictly. For an album so short, inclusion of filler is a grievous error, fortunately, on Trident Wolf Eclipse it doesn’t follow until the very end. “The Fire of Power’s” brain dead trod is a guaranteed early end, doubled with “Antikrists Mirakel” an instrumental bonus track, twice as long as any other song on the album – and only half as decent riff-wise, it’s poor end for Watain’s return to form (what TWE will inevitably be seen as, despite being no such thing from any perspective).

Watain may not be able to excite, but they are a competent and confident band, coupled with the short duration, it makes TWE a decent enough listen. Though the puzzle is assembled a little too well. From the rough and rugged vocals, to the pacing of the songs, gloomy atmosphere and using melodic work to dot an otherwise grey landscape feel safe as milk. Safe not exactly being a guarantee of quality work in black metal. If you still insist on acquiring it, I’m sure WolfWear has you covered, regardless of location.

3/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL


HORNA – Kuolleiden Kuu

Once upon a time it seemed Horna put out splits, albums and ep’s almost daily. Now that the band is far more active on the live front, we generally have to wait a while between releases. In this particular case, it’s been closer to three years since Hengen Tulet and the following Acherontas split. The long wait is all the more curious, since Kuolleiden Kuu – featuring the last performance from drummer Vainaja – was recorded in the same sessions that yielded their latest full-length offering. Four songs and 16 minutes of fiery black metal that, as is to be expected, follows the path of it’s predecessor.

Horna may never have been a proggy black metal unit, with crooks and embellishments spotting their music, but ever since Spellgoth became their vocalist, compositional finesse has, in some amounts, given way to a more primitive approach. Combined with Spellgtoh’s hoarse delivery and WTC-appropriate production that puts emphasis on “fiery” over “the traditional “cold” theirs is some of the most brutal black metal out there.

The tail-ends, “Uskonpauhu” and “Viattomien Silmin” go through several tempo changes, atmospheric arpeggios, agile tremolo-runs and a bunch of very Shatraug-like riffs. Though these sound like guaranteed crowd pleasers to come, my own favourites are the songs between. The two-and-a-half minute manic instrumental title track and the following “Tähdet, Tähdet”, a cover of one of iskelmä-star Rauli Badding Somerjoki’s biggest hits , that I’ve been enjoying a live version of for years now.

Kuolleiden Kuu offers nothing new for fans of Horna, but provides than enough proof the veterans still got it.

3.5/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL

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