Hild – Valfreiya 8/10
Hild is the creation of Lars Broddesson, most notably associated with Marduk and Funeral Mist, and it is an ode to true warlike warrior nature. The result is a violent debut opus that is short sharp, and primal, and whilst it has elements of black and crust, it is an all-out thrash record!
Valfreiya, whilst steeped in Norse paganism, is a raw, primal pure thrash metal record with all the hallmarks that made the genre initially brilliant. It is an ode to the early eighties with massive riffing and lightning-fast tempo changes before the genre got bogged down in self-indulgence and technical meandering. Hild is self-described as “Swedish war Metal “, and its literal translation is battle/Strife.
Musically it defines this statement. With each track honouring a respective Valkyrie and its characteristics, it is a refreshing unhinged barrage of musical strength and pure antagonism. It shines brightly against the spectre of mortality and the ordinary. “Wodurida” is the tribal march of war that explodes into violence “ Hrist” and its memorable chorus, and “Mist” where the power of the riff rules supreme. There is no need for comparatives “Gondul” is pure violent thrash, whilst the biggest riff and most metal composition of all are saved for the title track, the downright explosive ‘Valfreiya.’
A cathartic glimpse into the creative soul Valfreiya is an opus where each track is short and concise, a sonic barrage that delivers its message and moves on with no excuses, self-indulgence, or compromises. Delivered with a freshness and a crazed zeal that whilst contains a darkened heart, this a release of overwhelming energy that reminds you of just how good speed metal can be when it is delivered with this much passion and sheer aggression.
Fagus – Inter 8/10
Forming in 2010 German quartet Fagus is a band that is driven by a particular vision that is unbound by the constraints and trends around them. Their debut album, after ten years of intense preparation (Inter), is an intense cohesive piece that merges the ambient with uncompromising black metal.
The six tracks are bound by the thread of man’s role in nature and space and the relevance of human thought in an endless and cold universe. The result is, at times, a haunting piece of work that is disassociated and, at times, disconnected from the boundaries of reality that defies the realm of normal consciousness whilst being the counterpoint to the genuine emotions of love and fear.
The amount of time invested in this record is apparent on the first listen. Every moment is well thought out and constructed beautifully, the dynamics are rich, and the ambience creates a floating ethereal effect that whilst at times beautiful, is haunted and almost claustrophobic with its space, lonely yet filled with threatening thoughts that create its personality. Every track is its lengthy exploration and fearless, the drone of the tremolo picking creates a similar effect to the keyboards whilst the tempos range from blistering aggression to a slower, dreamlike state that makes full use of both the brutal and the sublime. If there is a quibble, it’s a small one. Whilst the vocals are suitably extreme, they are sometimes a little one-dimensional when the track demands a little more.
Highlights are the beautifully heavy ‘’Jenseits des Höhenzugs’’ and the journey that is ‘Tyche.” Inter is a reflection of the band’s freedom and true creative spirit. It is dark, brutally heavy and yet also powerful, emotive and vast in its scope and wonder, leaving a lasting impression on the psyche.
Unfelled – Pall of Endless Perdition 9/10
The debut album by Australia’s Unfelled reflects the paganistic duality of Multi-Instrumentalist D. Where the subtlety and sophistication of his other project, Woods of Desolation, is discarded for the atmospheric savagery that foretells the triumvirate that leads to death and its eternal darkness. It is inherently tough, battle-worn, experienced and contains musical excellence that you would anticipate from such talent.
From the unbridled fury that is ‘’Wreathed Wings” and the sonic bombast that is ‘’Veil of Perdition’ and its mid-tempo assault where the riffing reaches another level. Unfelled combines raw, primal black metal full of tempo changes and chaos. Yet there are also lots of memorable moments and hidden subtleties as well. The sombre interlude to “A Diadem Embattled’’ is haunting, and the crescendo to ‘’Transcendent Legacy’’ is soul-stirring. ‘’Evanescent’’ is a melancholic interlude of passing memory, ethereal in its textures and visions, the briefest moment of elegance against the sheer power and fury that is defiant ‘’The Opposer” and it’s souled bathed in War.
Pall of Endless Perdition is pure black metal savagery that leaves no quarter and is uncompromising in its focus. The music reflects its subject, bloodshed, mortality and violence. It is primitive yet sophisticated, inherits violence that invades the senses and leaves scars, yet is true to its definition by being Unfelled.
Dargor – Ascend to Infinity 8/10
Poland’s Dargor unveiled their debut album Ascend to Infinity that whilst it is uncompromising black metal that you would expect from the region, it is also very melodic and touches on the symphonic combined with the aggression.
Ascend to Infinity has more in common with mid-eighties pure underground metal than is obviously apparent. The pace is purely mid-tempo, which allows the tracks to breathe and flex with their hidden touches of gothic, doom, and downright stomping metal! It is a more positive album with juxtaposing damning themes, which allows some of the keyboards and melodies more time to be an intrinsic part of the song rather than just textures, resulting in an album that is equal parts heaviness and energy.
‘’ Waste What Was Given’’ pounds with a great raw riff and multiple intentions with a beautiful piano coda, whilst ‘’ Inner Distant Universes’’ is a more symphonic offering where the guitar hits the keyboard heights with a great solo that touches upon the ethereal before the percussion brings back from the heavens with intent. ‘’Morals Redefined” has another great riff that reflects the band’s ideology on the meaningless of our existence and its negativity, and “Before We Die” is just great Blackened metal with a huge symphonic bridge and tortured vocals.
Uncompromising and honest with a deft touch, Ascend to Infinity is a surprising offering where it isn’t trying to rip your face off with downright speed but rather a bludgeoning mid-pace attack that leaves an indelible impression and with some great atmospheric moments combined with its raw aggression make them a band to watch out for.