Finsterforst – ‘Jenseits’ 9/10
Formed in Germany in 2004 Finsterforst is a six piece that have pursued the nature of humanity and philosophy. Release number eight ‘Jenseits’ continues their emotive, challenging ideas.
A single track marking a different period or chapter the ‘’kapitel’’is told in four parts that begins with commanding’’Kapitel I: Freiheit’’ strong vocals and excellent harmonies interlaced with some great riffs and strong percussion. It is such a strong opener that delves between the power and beauty of Viking inspired themes and then turns suddenly with savage vocals into excellently heavy bridges.
“Kapitel II – Dualität,” continues the ceremony exploring the duality both musically and lyrically. whilst the stunning ‘’Kapitel III: is able to conjure the loveliest of memories with its moments of beauty and simple acoustics and subtle nuances. Finsterforst are able to seamlessly integrate the juxtapositions of their music with loosing any of the moments that makes this an epic journey.
Kapitelen IV – Katharsis is a rousing sixteen plus minutes of glorious Northern infused metal that carries the soaring chants and vocals into a soundscape of sweeping hills where you can feel the morning fog on your skin. Its full of traditional instruments and long passages of reflection and power repeating refrains from the preceding kapitel and probably their greatest moment.
Undeniably metal and rousing to heed the call with an EP longer than most albums Finsterforst are pure masters of their art that is engaging, cinematic with the finest attention to detail. It is a challenging multi listen work of art from a band that continues to push themselves and the perceived boundaries of any genre. It is glorious, heavy and beautiful, yet not without anger or sorrow, ‘Jenseits’ is a true highlight.
Marduk - Memento Mori 9/10
Undeniable legends in the genre of pure black metal, stalwarts, Icons at times plagued by controversy, Sweden’s Marduk have since 1990 interwoven their death metal beginnings with the sonic Scandinavian terror of Black metal. Their fifteenth studio album is the defiant Memento Mori.
Latin for 'remember you must die’’. Memento Mori is the sound of inevitability. Marduks strength has always been their raw unrelenting power and fury. Their music is based on it, the insane tempos and virulent leads are all secondary to the openly hostile war like nature , a force that can barely be contained, their violent nature essential to their chaos.
Mortuus (Daniel Rostén) vocals has remained the only constant since 1990, declaring that the new album is a glimpse back whilst being a bold step forward. Ultimately this is unadulterated Marduk, unrelenting black metal that is extreme in every possible way. ‘’ Blood of the Funeral’’, ‘’ Shovel Beats Sceptre’’ and ‘’Red Tree of Blood’’ are the epitome of Marduk and although it might seem slightly familiar at times, it is to never be underestimated or taken for granted. It is chaos is so well structured the whole album moves with purpose and a visceral energy that defines them and the music they create. The time changes and tempos are manic driven by a real sense of urgency against the sonic wall of guitars and Mortuus ever present antagonistic vocals.
The mechanical march of closer ‘’As we Are” harks the return of their industrial edge that is always welcome. Cold calculating, proudly confrontational and dripping in hostile intent Memento Mori is pure Marduk that is uncompromising, merciless and powerful. A threatening thunderous return
Countess Erzsebet - Countess Erzsebet 9/10
Countess Erzsebet is the creation of Rachel Bloodspell Moongoddess (USA). The project began in 2017 know as Erzsebet with the Black Spell release and Countess Erzsebet is not so much a debut as a release of a force of nature.
Malevolent, esoteric, draped in the alluring aura of the sinister and darkness this is total commitment to music and her craft. Rachel Moongoddess does not only play every instrument on the album (at times simultaneously) but also handcrafted the guitars and bass used on it! Countess Erzsebet is the ultimate expression of musical freedom and the extremes found within it.
‘’ Glorification of the Profane’’ and ‘’ “In the Blood of Virgins “are wildly free expressions of the self where the organic sounds meet the hallucinogenic and the primal fury of black metal. Taking elements from the traditional of Coven through to Bathory it is music that inspired by those with no regard for the mainstream where the music in its most primal form takes importance. It’s not perfect, doesn’t need to be it’s a thought, an emotion, something that lingers in the back of your mind akin to smoke that coalesces until you try to grasp it and it disappears only to malevolently reform in another guise. The bass throbs with a darkened heart while the guitar shrieks and wails in torment, a sacred ceremony that is all blood and fire, smoke, and passion.
Part soothing part bloody nightmare Countess Erzsebet is a brief encounter that lingers long the voice a conjurer, seductive yet repellent. A juxtaposition of opposites warm 70 s tones that meets 90’s cold fury Countess Erzsebet is also completely original and undeniably compelling
Vargr – FTW 8/10
In Norse mythology, a Vargr is a wolf, especially the wolf Fenrir that destroyed the god Odin in the battle of Ragnarök. Henrik Nordvargr Björkk (no stranger to electronic chaos with MZ412) has adopted the name and its destructive war like nature for release number two FTW, an abattoir of obscene undefinable black noise that destroys all before it.
FTW is an acquired taste; it has been at least ten years since the last release and whilst ‘’FTW 2‘’ contains a recognizable 2/4 industrial structure everything else is up for grabs. ‘’FTW 7’’ has moments of recognizable black metal yet ‘’FTW 6’’ is a shrieking bloody nightmare of white noise that is unrelenting, the vocals a back drop to the musical disorder and disarray of ideas and sounds, the synth respites are far too brief against the bays , demonic whistles, electronic industrial percussion and sheer noise of the compositions.
It is the mastery of his art that FTW doesn’t fall into the abyss of self-indulgence, it is always listenable, but at times it is not a pleasant experience. For every memorable melody there is horror and torment imminently following, for every recognizable snippet an undefinable mass of heaviness awaits lurking to strike. You will yield to the cacophony or be broken by it.
A carnal soundscape of terror that shrieks, howls and malevolently makes a mockery of the ‘’accepted” normality music. FTW is literally its namesake in terms of accessibility, definition and the overloading of the senses. Utter Pandemonium