• + BEST IN HEAVY METAL - 2012 +

    Abr 2 2014, 11h53

    Hi folks,

    The years have come and gone, and yet for some odd reason I still receive requests for my 'Best Of' journal entries in Heavy Metal, as well as several other genres. Why I still receive these requests I have no idea, but I've relented on being an e-seclusionist curmudgeon and eternally lazy long enough to post my Best in Heavy Metal of 2012 list. I hope whatever poor soul or bored last.fm troll that reads this dated meandering of metal finds something that they haven't otherwise heard or thought to listen to since '12. Unlike the previous journal entry, many if not most of the reviews here are sourced from other writers, webzines, and various publications as noted at the bottom of the review. Also, I encourage any suggestions for albums released in 2012 that I've omitted as it's painfully obvious from my list that I can't possibly listen to everything out there.

    Please check out my other Journals for Heavy Metal:

    Best In Heavy Metal 2011
    Best In Heavy Metal 2010

    Journal entry for 2013 is forthcoming. No, for real this time.

    - Coffinwood_Mill

    † Please support the artists listed here and purchase their music or merchandise †

    Upon the first few listens of Atra Mors, my impression towards this record gives off a very large amount of improvement and musical experimentation to leave listeners astounded and spellbinded into a state of sorrow and personal empowerment. Evoken have created a record that almost puts me beyond words, as it reminds me of the crushing, funeral doom endeavors of Mournful Congregation and also the somber, solo echoing guitar riffs stand out and tell stories of their own. Atra Mors, has successfully embedded a vivid distinction of human emotion into music, a very powerful doom metal record which immediately stands out and flows in a rhythmic pattern from one song unto another.

    It starts off with the first track which is titled same as the album and prepares you for a journey towards a personal apocalyptic dreamland. It is a somber starting point which guides listeners into various chambers of one’s own haven of dreams and nightmares alike. From this onward, song after song John Paradiso’s harsh vocals and somber guitar solos embark through various personal visions of times past those to be foretold, expressively as a personal ultimatum as well as the end of all things. All previous pessimistic parables channeled into these recordings and embedded into every structure of what Atra Mors, stands for.

    “Requies Aeterna” is an interlude track which appropriately separates the story of which is being told through waves and musical frequencies of melancholy and carries on with the next track “The Unechoing Dread” and falls into a powerful ending track “Into Aphotic Devastation”. This album is also remarkable being that it is the 100th release from Profound Lore and most definitely a memorable one from beginning to end. Death to false utopian entities and birth of a new musical accomplishment.


    For fans of: Skepticism, Mournful Congregation, Shape of Despair, Thergothon, Dolorian, The Howling Void.

    Great debut!

    Oppression has never felt so satisfying

    Crushing. That’s the one word that keeps springing to mind when I try to come up with an adjective to describe Seattle’s Anhedonist and their debut release, Netherwards. Theirs is a sound that merges the bleak and unrelentingly heavy death/doom of Disembowelment with the plodding, death metal sound of Incantation (though much more doom-oriented) and adds in yet another layer of sonic oppression though an occasional Evoken influence. In fact, I almost feel as though ‘crushing’ doesn’t do the album justice, but it’s the best I seem to be able to muster. In any event, the four tracks and 41 minutes of material the band has assembled on this disc is some of the best death/doom I have heard in quite a while.

    There are a number of factors that contribute to Netherwards’ success but the one that stands out for me the most is the way the band seamlessly shifts between tempos and styles while still maintaining the oppressive and all-encompassing atmosphere that pervades every waking moment of the album. The transition between opening cut, “Saturine”, with its lumbering crust-infused blasts, and second track, “Estrangement”, with its vast and sorrowful rung-out notes is demonstrative of the consistency of vision the band has and that they can channel and harness this vision seemingly irrespective of the approach they choose to take with their songs.

    Netherwards isn’t so much an album to revere for its overt originality as it is its masterful adherence to the assemblage of death/doom building blocks into the kind of strong structures that the blueprints of the original pioneers of the style designed. This isn’t to suggest in any way that there is any plagiarism on display but, rather, that Anhedonist have clearly taken their cues from bands like diSEMBOWELMENT and used that template as the basis from which to build something excellent.

    - www.themetalforge.com

    For fans of: Lycus, Vastum, Swallowed, Ilsa, Encoffination, Atriarch.

    Great debut!

    Når Sirkelen Brytes is the debut full-length from northern Norwegian quintet Taakeferd. The name translates as ‘a journey through fog’ or something along those lines and this is probably an apt description for the no-holds-barred, blazing black metal offered forth on this record.

    Both melodic and raw, the songs on this 53-minute album rip through the speakers with devilish intent, never compromising, delivering nine straight-to-the-point work-outs of shrill and shrieking Black Metal with little or no let-up. The music blasts along fiercely and ferociously and there is barely time to breathe. It’s somehow claustrophobic and suffocating as it pounds along and at times all too familiar but, for all it lacks in originality, Når Sirkelen Brytes deserves respect for the manner in which it sticks to the core principles of what made black metal great in the first place.

    Proficient and evil as fuck in saluting the scene’s brethren well - an album for those who appreciate black metal in the vein of the purveyors of the genre.


    For fans of: Svikt, Framferd, Stridsmenn, Neetzach, Svartskogg, Vuohivasara.

    Great debut!

    Three & Seven is the debut release from enigmatic New York entity Occultation, and a fantastic example of the forward-thinking retro-tinged metal that has seen a surge of renewed interest in recent months. Placing a strong emphasis on crafting a palpably thick witching environment than other releases in the same eclectic category, the band skillfully crafts a black cathedral of sound that drips with Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate flare. With near every track on the album, Occultation manages to capture perfectly that distinctive sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach upon realizing you’ve stumbled upon something you shouldn’t have – and the subsequently sudden dizzying flash of panic that stems from being unable to find a way out. A grotesque and withered hand greets you from beyond the void, bearing a cryptic invitation into a rich sonic catacomb of horror. You are beckoned.


    For fans of: Sabbath Assembly, Year of the Goat, Uzala, Pallbearer, Essenz, Inverloch.

    Trespass is an album drenched in the bleak and sorrow, resonating an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. The record still moves at an earth shattering pace for the most part but it’s in the atmosphere that it conjures where Trespass truly writhes in the austere.

    Opener “Usurpation” holds as merciless proof, with a sickening barrage of bile fuelled riffs and a remorseless hail of drums that are simply punishing. Most of the songs are succinct lessons in bestial death metal, like the ghastly assault of “Compress” but conversely, “Identical” is a seven minute dirge of rot. First starting with unabashedly doom passages until the halfway mark, Knelt Rote then fearlessly plunge us back into familiar breakneck punishing territory. This is an album that isn’t afraid to dip its toe into a few different sonic waters but the end result, that of ruin and wreckage, is always the same.

    Knelt Rote strike a near perfect balance between devastation and atmosphere. Usually one is sacrificed for the benefit of the other but this is not the case with Trespass. The cold hopeless vibe that runs through the album is altogether affecting but meanwhile, the vocals are utterly caustic and corrosive alongside the scorched earth riffing.

    This is a deeply layered album, with so much density to wrap your ears around. It, in fact, makes it difficult at times to comprehend just how heavy and vicious this record is until you’ve submerged yourself in it for several listens.


    For fans of: Antediluvian, Weregoat, Ritual Necromancy, Grave Upheaval, Temple Nightside, Muknal.

    Great debut!

    It really did not take much time for me to choose Chapel’s debut album for my next presentation so let me explain why by simply mentioning a couple of key points; the band comes from Canada and the album’s title implies mixing Rock ‘N Roll and Satan. That was it; I was sold since I know that a Canadian band cannot fail and the satanic/Rock ‘N Roll blend is destined to succeed. So, let’s see what happened after the play button had been pressed.

    “Rock N Roll From Hell” opens the album with church organ sound creating the required satanic and evil atmosphere and then the song explodes with Motörhead-esque rhythm section with driving drum work and dominating bass action. There is no fancy singing just in-your-face lyrics spitting paying the proper respect to the early Punk scene that blended so well during the early days of Black Metal. This description might sound funny or strange to some but to the Metal connoisseurs this should raise the Venom flag. I guess this presentation could stop right here since whenever a band sounds like Venom should get high rates just for trying… Seriously now, Chapel have managed to get that awesome sound added more Motörhead references and to top things off introduced underlying Sodom structures from their Better Off Dead days. Don’t rush to characterize Chapel as a copycat since the guitar work really makes a difference here presenting really Rock ‘N Roll chord progressions and driving riffs.

    Following the lineup trademark and old-school recipe the band features three members with upgraded bass role as the main ingredient of the rhythm section on the side of the simple yet driving drums. The sound production feels raw and almost sloppy (in a good sense) enhancing the loose atmosphere and supporting the most enjoyable lyrics under cult songtitles like “Alcoholocaust”, “Motorcult” and my personal pick “Satanist”. Especially the latter one has an awesome headbanging guitar groove that no one can resist hitting your ears hard with explosive drum work just for two minutes than are more than enough to wear you down until the next one!

    So, if you like the influences I mentioned above (shame if you don’t) and fancy bands like Midnight putting out ideal music to mosh, headbang and drink a couple of cold ones then Chapel is the perfect choice for you. This is why I trust whatever comes out from the Canadian Metal! Horns UP!


    For fans of: Speedwolf, Hellbringer, Hot Graves, Bunker 66, Sacriphyx, Deathhammer.

    The following questions were excerpted from a black metal math test. Please choose the -best- response for each item.

    1. A dodecahedron is a geometric solid consisting of how many faces?
    a) a lot
    c) 12
    d) sometimes a good burrito makes me feel like dropping a geometric solid

    2. Fill in the blank: The number of black metal records brimming with personality is ___ the number of black metal records you can describe without ever listening to them.
    a) greater than (>)
    c) less than (<)
    d) first let me fill in this commode with my geometric solid

    The correct answers are both C. (Isn't it always?) If you answered A, thanks for at least trying. If you answered B or D, you will be removed from class and strangled with your own intestines shortly.

    Those of you who are left, listen up. The non-believers might have drawn the lines for 21st century black metal between the unrelenting lo-fi antics of facepaint enthusiasts’ hellspawned too late to be authentic second wave retirees and the progged-all-out-of-proportion black-inspired artgaze, but all of us who know better get to listen to idiosyncratic nasty-liciousness like dodecahedron's Season of Mist debut. The Dutch quintet wallow in the same dreary, melted chords as Sweden's Bergraven and draw from the same poisoned well of electronic space as Snorre Ruch's unfuckwithable Thorns project. But far beyond easy comparisons, this recording spits fiery passion and soaks the audience in its own perfect eccentricities.

    "Allfather" broadcasts the band's intentions with a blitzkrieg of curdled arpeggios and bloodthirsty blasts, but hardly ninety seconds pass before the song cracks the serpents' den wide open and releases a stream of slithery percussion, bass lines, and vocal moaning. Follow-up "I, Chronocrator" uses modern advances in death tech to splice some jazz-prog base pairs into the album's rotted out DNA, then gives up a significant portion of its middle section to a dense feedback drone that devours itself before the black metal combat boot heel drops more mid-paced mindfuckery back onto your skull. "Vanitas" and "Descending Jacob's Ladder" deploy robo-vox from the underbelly of the known universe, the latter sounding as if Lustmord was performed by a dozen damaged T-1000s instead of one sound-sculpting Brit. The extraordinary three-part "View From Hverfell" traces a thematic path I don't understand and don't need to. The songs are long, but never the interminable blur that characterizes half of all extreme "epics" out there, nor the unconscionable bore that plagues the other half.

    Whatever. Ignore all of the bullshit above. All that matters is this:
    We metalheads have sacrificed our time, sanity, and cochlear integrity for a reason. Dodecahedron are that reason.


    For fans of: Waning, Hail Spirit Noir, Krallice, Sektemtum, Smohalla.

    Mutilation Rites’ discography is a bit confounding, traversing multiple line-ups, demos, splits, and EPs. The band’s rapid gestation has been very public, but every minute of their music to-date is worthwhile. Empyrean is the band’s first full-length, and the album’s breakneck plummet through black metal, thrash, death, and doom hits the spot with a vengeance. Mutilation Rites have arrived at their own birth fully grown and bristling with hatred.

    Empyrean is a breathless barrage of ideas. The album’s expeditious, organic metamorphoses will entrap your ears without presenting a single moment of tedium. Mutilation Rites appropriate the droning tonal tropes of atmospheric black metal but turn its churn towards kinetic violence. With little notice, you’ll be dropped into a monstrous groove of thrashing oblivion, recalling the primal essences of both early Exodus and Slayer. These sudden, explosive interludes connect directly to a listener’s headbanging neurotransmitters; Empyrean is a dangerous album.

    Mutilation Rites wield the sinister with swagger. Torrential, tremolo picked riffs often transmit enough melody to invoke Dissection, but this is not a constant. Some tracks take off with locomotive intensity, reminding me of [artistBlack Anvil’s jackhammer majesty. Doomy decelerations present entrancing melancholic detours but are always wrapped in thunderous cacophony. This band thrives on aural impact.

    Much of Empyrean’s immediacy is owed to the band’s preposterous rhythm section and the righteous manner in which it was recorded. Justin Ennis’ drumming is monstrously manic, throwing around swing with impunity and pumping punk life into every corner of this recording. Ryan Jones’ bass is high in the mix, displaying keen interstitial skills and reminding me repeatedly of Frank Bello on Persistence of Time. These sonic landscapes are filled with abject hatred, disgust and sorrow. George Paul’s stone cold crazy, unintelligible screams are your guide on this tour of acrimony. His deranged voice is an important cog in Empyrean’s success, tying it together with an air of utter loathing. We have no idea what the man is saying (there are no printed lyrics), but the intent is blindingly clear; Mutilation Rites are not pleased with existence.

    Empyrean will catch you off guard, luring you in with howling riffs, windswept ferocity and an immersive rhythmic enfilade. Prepare for the unexpected.

    - www.metalinjection.net

    For fans of: Bosse-de-Nage, Ash Borer, Barghest, Obolus, Vattnet Viskar.

    There’s a certain irony to how Revenge can possess such a royal lineage yet still produce some of the rawest blackened death metal to be released in recent years; formed in 2000, the blood of Revenge is thick with remnants of great bands past, an intermingling of Canada’s great blackened death hierarchy that includes the likes of Angelcorpse and Conqueror amongst others. Debuting with the utterly savage Triumph.Genocide.Antichrist in 2003, there was no mistaking Revenge’s Blasphemy inspired racket, a style which borrowed the seminal war metal acts brutality but blasted it all the way to eleven. Scum.Collapse.Eradication much like its predecessors shows no variation upon this style but does offer a bit of insight; with just an ever so slight improvement in the production department Revenge’s newest album reveals just why this Canadian act has become one of the most renowned bands of its kind.

    Untamed as ever, Revenge’s newfound clarity in no way affects their burgeoning war metal mayhem but does make it a bit more listenable; where previous albums were cloaked in a cloud of excess noise and distortion Scum.Collapse.Eradication offers a smog-free view of the bands truly bestial nature, one that is carried out with in crude simplicity. Vermin’s guitar playing is muddy as ever, a juxtaposition of downtuned riffs that take the shape of black metal in their fastest moments and groove heavy death metal during the slower sections. Though some of the faster moments can blend together each of the slower paced segments on the album are excellent, a summoning of bestial thrashing that have you breaking neck in its indomitable groove.

    Aside from annihilating his kit in a hurricane of blast-beats and ridiculous fills, James Read’s horrid squawk also deserves mention; just as raw and primal as the music, his shriek as well as disgustingly low gutturals adds excellently to the albums raw nature. Though not hooks in the traditional sense, his delivery on tracks like the beginning of “Scorned Detractor (Trust No One)” perfectly accents the music, showcasing its deadly flow amongst waves of intelligible growls and grunts.

    From chaotic and spur of the moment shred solos to slow, doomy riffing, it’s in their nature to create the rawest music possible that Revenge excel; now well into their career the band is rightfully held as one of the best blackened death metal bands around and an overall classic within the genre. Scum.Collapse.Eradication sheds just enough light on Revenge’s sound to draw in newcomers while simultaneously keeping the same pitch black approach that has earned them such a cult status. In 2012 Revenge continue their reign as frostbitten warrior kings; the long-running conquerors of blasphemous and bestial blackened death metal.


    For fans of: Proclamation, Conquerer, Diocletian, Black Witchery, Teitanblood.

    Enslaved’s last few albums have been very well received by both fans and critics. The Norwegian black metal pioneers have become more and more progressive over the years, and their latest effort RIITIIR is no exception. The line between experimental and self-indulgent can be a fine one, but a band with Enslaved’s pedigree has earned the benefit of the doubt. The songs on RIITIIR are their longest collection ever, with five of the eight tracks clocking in at more than 8 minutes, the shortest being just over five minutes.

    “Thoughts Like Hammers” kicks off the proceedings, with solemn black metal guitars giving way to acoustic interludes. Harsh vocals from Grutle Kjellson give the song bite and edge, with the smooth melodic tones of Herbrand Larsen a stark contrast. Spoken word vocals are also incorporated into this song.

    RIITIIR is a very dynamic and dense album. The lengthy songs are constructed with layers of guitars and atmospheric keyboards that meander at times, but upon repeated listens burrow their way into the subconscious. It’s a daunting album, but ultimately a rewarding one. The ebbs and flows between progression and aggression keep things interesting, although the scale tilts toward the progressive side of the coin. There are still plenty of good old fashioned riffs, like on “Veilburner” along with more experimental sections.

    “Roots Of The Mountain” is a standout, with a frantic beginning laden with blast-beats and harsh vocals that transitions into a melodic section that is extremely catchy. The song intensifies and mellows several times, and there’s a nice guitar solo as well. The second half of RIITIIR is also strong, with “Storm Of Memories’ probably the best track on album’s latter half. Album closer “Forsaken” is also the longest on the record, at over 11 minutes long. It's an appropriately epic song to finish a very epic album.

    Axioma Ethica Odini was among my top metal albums of 2010, so RIITIIR had a lot of live up to. Upon first listen, it wasn’t even close. But after spending more time with RIITIIR, its strengths became more and more evident. It could definitely be shorter and more focused, but even with a little bloat and meandering, it’s still far superior to what almost anyone else is doing. RIITIIR is an ambitious and skilled effort that while not perfect, is still a really good and highly recommended release.

    For fans of: Emperor, Borknagar, Ihsahn, Arcturus, Primordial.

    If you are looking for a release that features the best of all realms of the extreme, Hellvetron’s Death Scroll of Seven Hells and It's Infernal is it. The flow of this album is amazing and the depths of despair reached by the Hell Paso underground act are as horrifying as they are satisfying. The unholy atmosphere is glaring to say the least, as Hellvetron continues this great year in the extreme underground.

    Hellvetron is effectively two-thirds of extreme black metallers Nyogthaeblisz. Between the two extreme acts, they have solidified a strong underground presence in El Paso, paving the way for many other acts to follow. Hellvetron has been around since 2005, and despite a lack of released material, remain popular among the underground faithful. I would encourage any fan of the unconventional extreme to check out both bands – you won’t be disappointed. Death Scroll of Seven Hells and It's Infernal is really a gift to those craving a Hellvetron release, and I can only hope there is more to come.

    Death Scroll of Seven Hells and It's Infernal is an atypical extreme metal release. There is much more of a doom tempo throughout the offering, which is laden with crawling rhythm. The guitars move seamlessly between harsh riffs to blackened bridges, almost as if conveying an inner struggle. Vocally, the deathly growls weave in and out of the crawling barrage of hellish instrumentation. I liken the sound that Hellvetron creates on ‘Death Scroll of Seven Hells and Its Infernal Majesties’ to that of Anhedonist on their newest release, Netherwards. This offering has a bit more black metal influence, especially in the guitar work, but the two bands pair up nicely. The grim brutality that Hellvetron brings is delivered in a very deliberate manner, and is definitely not overdone or lacking in depth.

    - www.axestogrind.com

    For fans of: Lurker Of Chalice, Xasthur, Crebain, Blut aus Nord, Krieg, Deathspell Omega, Craft, Krieg, Sapthuran.

    Rape your face.

    For fans of: Aderlating, De Magia Veterum, Menace Ruine, The Axis of Perdition, Cloak of Altering, NDE, Khanate, Grunt.

    Easily among the more obscure releases a listener will come across this year, Revulsion of Seraphic Grace is nonetheless an admirable piece of work. Sharing more than a few traits in common with Incantation (especially 1992’s Onward to Golgotha), there’s a very old school vibe sense here, only a decidedly American take on old school as opposed to the Swedish sounds so many are playing nowadays.

    Throughout the seven tracks on hand there’s a consistent theme throughout, the marriage of claustrophobic blasting sections and absolutely crushing funeral doom sections. If nothing else sets Father Befouled apart, it may be that – the absolutely cavernous sounding guitar and vocals during the doomier excursions that fill many of the songs (and make up the entirety of album closer “Triumvirate of Liturgical Desecration”). At times the mixing of tempos and the general ‘weirdness’ inherent within much of the music brought to mind Mitochondrion and even last year’s Sonne Adam release Transformation. The doomy moments absolutely seething with similarities to everything Evoken has done since 2001’s Quietus and going back further, Winter’s sole testament Into Darkness.

    At a brisk 36 minutes Revulsion of Seraphic Grace does not overstay its welcome or cause the burnout that can come with music of this style. The mood across the album is particularly suffocating, resonating with increasing intensity after multiple listens – a nigh requirement with how dense the music is. “Irreverent Ascendancy” offers a foremost tour on the oppositions inherent in the album bouncing from a snail-paced opening to an absolutely ravenous set of blast sections before an abrupt end. “Desacrament” absolutely grooves, a blackhole steamroller consuming everything in its path. Production is a bit murky but it’s understandable with the musical intentions and execution, it serves its purpose.

    A release from this deep in the abyss is going to be an acquired taste for whoever happens to come across it. That being said it has a lot going for outright and over time. A nice mix of old school death metal and modern funeral doom, there surely has to be some number of fans out there for this kind of sound (myself certainly among them). Pick it up, soak it in, and embrace the oppressive black that follows.


    For fans of: Doombringer, Sadomator, Antediluvian, Nuclear Desecration, Deiphago, Kerasphorus.

    French avant-garde (post) black metal formation Blut aus Nord are truly in a league of their own.The driving force behind this outfit is a man called Vindsval and the current cycle of albums under the 777 moniker is his most ambitious work to date. Last year saw the release of 777: Sect(s) and 777: The Desanctification, which are both stunning works in their own right. 777: Cosmosophy is the proverbial grand finale of the 777 sequence.

    This third installment of the 777 trilogy is the most ethereal and evocative one. The bleak Godflesh-styled industrial tones are still ominously present but they are pushed in the background by endless layers of dissonant guitar parts, vast keyboard driven themes and other effects that give the album an almost post core/metal feel. Musically it has more in common with the pioneering works of Isis and Jesu than anything remotely resembling black metal. The devil is in details on 777: Cosmosophy. Little elements like the spoken word parts in “Epitome XV,” the relentless plodding in “Epitome XVIII” and the clean vocal parts in “Epitome XVI” are all examples of what makes this album such an evocative listening experience.
    You can’t help being sucked into an endless vortex of musical layers and different moods and transcend to a higher form of consciousness. Only true visionaries can create such stunning and thought provoking art. Sound-wise the emphasis lays on the industrial and electronic effects, which gives 777: Cosmosophy almost a droning doom metal type feel to it. It also enhances the rather cold and eerie atmosphere that creeps through the entire album.

    It’s hard to tell if 777: Cosmosophy is better than 777: Sect(s) or 777: The Desanctification, because all three albums have their own distinct personality and place within the greater musical concept behind the trilogy. What I can say that this record is a worthy closer of Vindsval’s most ambitious work to date. I’m wondering where he and Blut aus Nord will go next...

    For fans of: Deathspell Omega, The Eye, Reverence, Darkspace, The Axis of Perdition.

    It’s taken them eight years, but in 2012 Pseudogod have finally released a much-anticipated package of bestial hate and sonic rampage. A culmination of everything expected after many splits and demos from the Russians, Deathwomb Catechesis is a blackened death metal album comfortable with callback after callback to monsters of yesteryear like Incantation and Immolation. Their debut is all the better for it, too. It’s clear that Pseudogod have not inserted overwhelming amounts of creativity or innovation on their own, but their brand of death metal is particularly inspired and reverential.

    Simplicity can be satisfying, and with this in mind there’s not much to a record like Deathwomb Catechesis. Much of its appeal is strictly in the focus of attitude and direction, as the album rarely deviates from the path of the aforementioned behemoths of death metal and bolstered by constant prayers to almighty Satan. With utter devastation in mind, Pseudogod mold a landscape of rumbling bass and little flair that works as a perfect complement to the vocals, which are absolutely insipid. The growls broil over the old-school-inspired riffs with an unrelenting vehemency, and are the centerpiece of Deathwomb Catechesis.

    The band’s debut is a familiar album that almost falls off the cliff into strictly “derivative” territory but with their precision and technicality -aspects that transcend the sheer scope of the album- do not succumb to this brand of failure. What does manage to set this apart is the modern production that augments the clarity to the maelstrom of riffs, adding another dimension to the already-fertile concoction of hatred. So while Deathwomb Catechesis does not usher in any new waves of innovation to the scene, Pseudogod’s solid album adds, along with labelmates Antediluvian, a much-needed dose of death metal to 2012.


    For fans of: TeitanFyre, Void Meditation Cult, Vasaeleth, Temple Nightside, Heresiarch.

    Despite the fact that Satan Alpha Omega is only the band's third full-length, this group has been playing together since 1989. Style-wise Deiphago could best be described as blackened death metal/grind, with a distinct emphasis on the blackened end of things.

    The album's 11 odes to Satan are a non-stop pummeling of the senses. Songs blur by with a ferocity that at times is simply insane - vocals are spewed forth like vomit and the guitars sound like fiery flames. Make no mistake, this album is not for the faint of heart.

    Casual metal-heads will probably find this album to be nothing but noise; however, those into the heavier end of the spectrum will love the release's "take you by the throat" approach. Highly recommended.


    For fans of: Sadomator, Nuclear Desecration, Abhorer, Weregoat, Weapon.

    Ash Borer formed several years ago and in just a short time was recognized as one of the most prominent black metal bands from California. With a style of raw black metal that is bleak and atmospheric as well as harsh and searing, the group is aligned with such elite artists as the (now defunct) Weakling, Xasthur and Leviathan, along with the Black Twlight Circle (Volhan, Arizmenda, Dolovotre, etc.) and the Rhinocervs cult (Odz Manouk and Tukaaria). Their first demo, released in 2009, was just a mere glimpse of the coming sonic storm unleashed over the following years: a split EP with Santa Cruz’s Fell Voices, an acclaimed self-titled debut album, and a series of decimating live shows. The band’s new album Cold of Ages finds Ash Borer at the height of their powers, one of the most important acts hailing from the American scene alongside the likes of Negative Plane, Avichi, Inquisition, and the aforementioned Black Twilight Circle and Rhinocervs horde. A darker and much more devastating work than the debut, Cold of Ages is a surging, twisted, primal and sprawling epic and will find its place among the most prominent black metal releases of the year.


    For fans of: Fell Voices, Skagos, Bosse-de-Nage, Panopticon, Altar of Plagues.

    Genre mashing two opposing ends of music is where extreme metal really shines, providing everything from instrumental and symphonic heaviness to chorus-chanting pop metal. Another foray into the collision of two worlds, Blacklodge’s MachinatioN is an explosion of dark an unholy black metal delivered through an industrial filter of strobe lights and robotic overlords.

    The album lets the audience know what to expect right off the bat with immediate machine gun drumming mixed into an electronic beat. The result is something along the lines of Marduk or Gorgoroth taking an industrial/techno trip, without letting go of the Satanic themes, and with a hint of the utter darkness you’d expect from Deathspell Omega or Dodecahedron. Even the song titles play with the mash up of styles, with names like “Antichrist Ex Machina” and “Neutron Shiva.”

    MachinatioN is a definitely a different take on this burgeoning sub-genre than what can be heard from other entries in the field. Blacklodge offers a new metal experience, even for those who have already heard the electronic or techno focused material from Nachtmystium, Illidiance, or Nachtblut. The ending of each track tends to work into the beginning of the next song, creating a spectacular flow amidst all the chaos. Despite the introduction of “non-kvlt” elements, MachinatioN isn’t light on the black metal at all, as it’s still completely extreme. The vocals are as harsh and hateful as anything from a USBM band, and the tracks are based around the guitars as much as the industrial aspects.

    The album blends the two opposing worlds together well by effectively utilizing strong drum beats, which bridge the gap between the arms-crossed metal and the head bobbing electronica. Every song has a recognizable hook, but it’s always taken to a heavy (and evil!) place. As far as sub-genres go, industrial black metal doesn’t have a whole lot of flag bearers, and Blacklodge is a welcome and necessary addition to the roster. If black metal purists can get over their elitism long enough to give it a listen, and industrial or techno fans can learn to deal with harsh vocals and heavier songs, both camps could find a new favorite in MachinatioN.


    For fans of: Neo Inferno 262, Aborym, Gorgonea Prima, Diapsiquir, Mysticum, Hell Militia.

    Prepare for a grotesque and bestial assault from the darkest bowels of Chile. The Sun of Moloch has risen to cast its searing rays upon us all. Wrathprayer engulfs listeners in the scorching fumes of ripping, gritty riffs and an ominous, archaic atmosphere. Beginning with a to-be-expected dark occult intro to set the atmosphere (paired with a similar outro) the cruel nature of this album is slowly revealed. It becomes sluggish and dissonant before tumbling into chaotic swelling riffs with distant, cavernous vocals and storming percussive barrages.

    It’s a smooth balance between death and black metal that revels in the old path, maintaining a depraved and sour tone one would expect and at the same time satisfyingly revitalizing it. And this is generally how The Sun of Moloch feels throughout the 40 minutes you'll be enduring. Baneful, filthy and swirling in it's blasphemous tone. The record is spilling over with a ritualistic heat which incorporates the Incantation structure well with touches of Portal-esque writhing. Eerie sampling of discordant strings, screams, chants and moans with ambient rumbling accents some tracks like "The Darkest Fyre" and "From the Depths of the Phlegethon" sliding up the cult factor a few notches.

    Vocal duties (more varied than expected) feel a little subdued by all other elements — there are some great echoing howls and screes that snake their way through. It does sound as if the vocals are emanating from a lightless tomb and considering the nature of the subject and style here matter this distant, ancient quality is a positive.

    The bulk of the experience here surrounds the guitar work which doesn't meander from the traditional bestial template too much — not that I'm really complaining. It's all ugly, abrasive and tasty. The guitar tone is muddy in the most pleasurable way. A choice few spellbinding death grooves and pinched harmonics between the onslaught of blackened, labyrinthine tremolo sections but when these slabs enter it's a fucking blast as they carve out deep ridges in the darkened, ashy landscape. Good examples of these completely monstrous and punishing moments are found in "Devourers of Light", "Ritualization (Rev XIII)" and "In Visceribus Bestiæ".

    The Sun of Moloch does its job exceedingly well, paced so as to not overextend its welcome with some thick production. It's certainly not innovative but fucking terrific regardless. Definitely a record that slays. Highly recommended especially for fans of Witchrist, Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, Teitanblood, etc. For now this is only available on vinyl through Nuclear War Now! Productions but in the coming weeks they will be putting it up for a digital download on the label's bandcamp page.


    For fans of: Antediluvian, Diocletian, Proclamation, Pseudogod, Witchrist, Teitanblood.

    Great full-length debut!

    That release is Flesh Cathedral by Svartidauði, who hail from the far-flung frozen rock in the North Atlantic better known as Iceland. They’ve been contemplating their craft in obscurity for a while, spawning three demos between 2006 and 2010, but now this full-length monstrosity is set to propel them through the ranks. Like LURKER favourites Blut aus Nord,Deathspell Omega or Nightbringer, Svartidauði wield the ability to bend the will of black metal to their own horrific ends, giving rise to a thrillingly unique take on the genre.

    An unshakeable sense of narrative unfolds to the drones of opener ‘Sterile Seeds’. It’s as though the listener has entered the titular Flesh Cathedral itself, blood trickling down carrion walls, preparing to imbibe the psychoactive sacrament to Satan as a demonic choir goads them on. It’s terrifying – and that’s before the riffs take hold. Indeed, a persistent psychedelic nausea binds the record together, enforced by the abstract squealing of guitars and biomechanical lurch of the rhythms. Across four tracks, all well over ten minutes long, Flesh Cathedral becomes the soundtrack of one wretched soul completely losing their mind as the secrets of the universe are torn asunder.

    It’s the band’s stunning versatility that allows for these vivid hallucinations. Avoiding typical all-or-nothing aggression tactics, Svartidauði is a dynamic, shifting entity with a clear vision of how to project its particular grim atmospheres. In fact, everything on display is a small step away from the norm. Vocals lean towards a deep deranged death-rasp, as opposed to the regular eunuch shrieking. Then dense, down-tuned guitars seem to breathe and groan in the slower, more brooding sections, while groove-laden drums intricately build up the tension phrase by phrase before flying off into adept and flexible pummeling at whim. This is definitely HEAVY black metal – immense walls of power chords and a loud grumbling bass tone threaten to swallow the chaotic leads that often try to break free of the writhing mass around them.

    Each composition defies its length, traversing so many different emotions, textures and melodies (yes, they’re present too!) that it feels like Flesh Cathedral should be showcasing even more new material. Without a doubt this is up there among Mgła’s With Hearts Toward None and Dødsengel’s Imperator vying for “best orthodox black metal album of the year”. LURKER is incredibly anxious and excited for its release, although no firm date has been set due to the band being “slow as hell with the layout”. When Flesh Cathedral does finally arrive, if it isn’t one of the true breakthrough hits of the year, I will have lost all faith in the metal underground.


    For fans of: Vemod, Cultes des Ghoules, Hetroetzen, Acrimonious, One Tail, One Head.

    Abominable Putridity - The Anomalies of Artificial Origin
    Aborted - Global Flatline
    Acephalix - Deathless Master
    Aeon - Aeon's Black
    Ævangelist – De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis (I, Voidhanger)
    Agalloch - Faustian Echoes
    Alcest - Les Voyages de l'Âme
    Aldaaron - Suprême Silence
    Alkerdeel - Morinde
    All Pigs Must Die - Curse of Humanity EP
    Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock
    Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas
    Angel Witch - As Above, So Below
    Antimatter - Fear of a Unique Identity
    Aptorian Demon - Libertus
    Aosoth - Our Crown Of Sins EP
    ARCANUM INFERI - Ars Hermetica
    Antediluvian & Adversarial - Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries - Split
    Antediluvian & Temple Nightside - Cogitating Vacuous
    Aphrenous - Ravaged By The Incessant Scourge Of Deception
    Aptorian Demon - Libertus (Demo)
    Árstíðir Lífsins - Vápna Lækjar Eldr
    Ash Pool - Cremation Is Irreversible EP
    Asphyx - Deathhammer
    Autopsy - All Tomorrow’s Funerals EP
    Aven - The Last Thought Of Judas
    Azaghal - Nemesis
    Azoic - Gateways
    Barghest / False - Split
    Beheaded - Never To Dawn
    Begrime Exemious - Visions of the Scourge
    Behexen - Nightside Emanations
    Bell Witch - Longing
    Bereft - Leichenhaus
    Bestial Holocaust - Into The Goat Vulva
    Birth of Depravity - The Coming Of The Ineffable
    Black Breath - Sentenced To Life
    Black Sheep Wall - No Matter Where it Ends
    Blood of the Black Owl - Light The Fires!
    Blood Mortized - The Key to a Black Heart
    Bologna Violenta - Utopie E Piccole Soddisfazioni
    Bonded By Blood - The Aftermath
    Bone Dance - Bone Dance
    Borgne - Royaume Des Ombres
    Borgne - Titania
    Borknagar – Urd
    Bosse-de-Nage - III
    Blut aus Nord - What Once Was... Liber II
    Candlemass - Psalms for the Dead
    Cannibal Corpse - Torture
    Cape of Bats - Transylvania
    Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
    Cerebrate- Cerebrate (Demo)
    Chaos Inception - The Abrogation
    Chthe'ilist - Amechth'ntaas'm'rriachth EP
    Church Whip - Church Whip EP
    Coffin Texts - The Tomb Of Infinite Ritual
    Coldworker - The Doomsayer's Call
    Converge & Napalm Death - Split
    Cytotoxin - Radiophobia
    Dantalion - Return To Deep Lethargy
    Daylight Dies - Frail Becoming
    Deathspell Omega - Drought EP
    Demoncy - Enthroned Is the Night
    Denial of God - Death and Beyond
    Der Weg einer Freiheit - Unstille
    Desaster - The Arts of Destruction
    Dephosphorus - Night Sky Transform
    Dephosphorus & Wake – Split
    Desolate Shrine - The Sanctum Of Human Darkness
    Destruction - Spiritual Genocide
    Dødsengel - Imperator
    Dopethrone - III
    Dordeduh - Dar De Duh
    Down - Down IV, Part 1: The Purple EP
    Draumar - Gebirge
    Drawn and Quartered - Feeding Hell's Furnace
    Drudkh - Eternal Turn Of The Wheel
    Dynfari - Sem Skugginn
    Early Graves - Red Horse
    Elizabeth - Where Vultures Land
    Embrace of Thorns - Praying for Absolution
    Enabler - All Hail the Void
    Encoffination - Elegant Funerals for the Unknown Dead EP
    Eschaton - Isolated Intelligence
    Exumer - Fire & Damnation
    Farsot - Insects
    Faustcoven - Hellfire and Funeral Bells
    Fhoi Myore - Fhoi Myore
    Fiends At Feast - Towards the Baphomet’s Throne
    Fvck Mountain - Fvck Mountain EP
    Gnaw Their Tongues & Corephallism - Split
    Goatwhore - Blood For The Master
    Genocide Shrines - Devanation Monumentemples
    Grand Magus - The Hunt
    Grave Endless Procession Of Souls
    Grave Upheaval & Manticore - Split
    Habitual Defilement - The Redemption of Past Supremacy
    Hades Archer - The Curse Over Mankind
    Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma
    Hammers - Vardøgr
    Hel - Das Atmen Der Erde
    Hell – III
    HeXeN - Being and Nothingness
    Hideous Divinity - Obeisance Rising
    High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
    Hooded Menace - Effigies Of Evil
    Hooded Menace - Necrotic Monuments EP
    Horrendous – The Chills
    Hour of Penance - Sedition
    Hypnosia - Horror Infernal
    JK Flesh - Posthuman
    I Compagni Di Baal - I Compagni di Baal
    Ihsahn - Eremita
    Impiety - Ravage & Conquer
    Impious Baptism - Path of the Inverted Trinity EP
    Impious Baptism - V.A.N.V.D.A. EP
    Incantation - Vanquish In Vengeance
    Intestinal - The Rottening
    Inverloch - Dusk… Subside
    Israthoum - Black Poison and Shared Wounds
    Kaevum - Natur
    Karg - Apathie
    Katatonia - Dead End Kings
    Kommandant - The Draconian Archetype
    Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
    Kuxan Suum - Kuxan Suum
    Les Discrets - Ariettes Oubliées...
    Les Fleurs Du Mal - Brunnen
    Little Sister - Little Sister
    Lunar Aurora – Hoagascht
    Lustration - Psymbolik
    Malignancy - Eugenics
    Manetheren - Time
    Manowar - Lord of Steel
    Maranatha - Incarnate
    Marduk - Serpent Sermon
    Martyrdöd - Paranoia
    Mass Burial - Of Carrion And Pestilence
    Master - The New Elite
    Master's Hammer - Vracejte Konve Na Místo
    Melvins - Freak Puke
    Menace Ruine - Alight In Ashes
    Menegroth - Das Rote Werk
    Merrimack - The Acausal Mass
    Mgla - With Hearts Toward None
    Mondstille - Seelenwund
    Mongrel's Cross - The Sins Of Aquarius
    Moss of Moonlight - Seed
    Municipal Waste - The Fatal Feast
    Municipal Waste & Toxic Holocaust - Toxic Waste (Split)
    Mutant Supremacy - Rotting Season EP
    My Dying Bride - A Map of All Our Failures
    Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine
    Nachtruf - Geistwerdung
    Napalm Death - Utilitarian
    Natassievila - Impermanence
    Nawaharjan - Into the Void
    Negative Standards – VI.VII.VIII.IX.X.XI
    Nekromantheon - Rise, Vulcan Spectre
    Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay
    Nigh - Nigh EP
    Nihill - Verdonkermaan
    Nile - At the Gate of Sethu
    Nine Covens - On the Dawning of Light
    Nordvrede - Legion Nordvrede
    Nox Illunis - Metepsychosis
    Obulus - Lament
    Odz Manouk - Odz Manouk
    Ofermod - Thaumiel
    Onirophagus - Defiler Of Hope
    Ophidian I - Selvot Saeclum
    Orange Goblin - A Eulogy For The Damned
    Ormgård - Ormblot
    Overkill - The Electric Age
    Pact - The Dragon Lineage of Satan
    Paradox - Tales of the Weird
    Pendulum - Les Fragments du Chaos
    P.H.O.B.O.S. - Atonal Hypermnesia
    Plague Widow - Plague Widow
    Proclamation - Nether Tombs of Armageddon
    Profezia - The Truth of Ages
    Prognan - Jama
    Psycroptic - The Inherited Repression
    Puteraeon - Cult Cthulhu
    Putrevore - Macabre Kindgom
    Putrified - Neurotic Necrotic
    RAM - Death
    Resurgency - False Enlightenment
    Revel In Flesh - Deathevokation
    Reverence - The Asthenic Ascension
    Revolting - Hymns Of Ghastly Horror
    Rhinocervs - RH 12
    Rituals - Rituals
    Royal Talons - Royal Talons
    Ruined Families - Ruined Families
    Saccage - Death Crust Satanique
    Saint Vitus - LILLIE: F-65
    Satanic Warmaster - In Eternal Fire - Ghost Wolves EP
    Savage Messiah - Plague of Conscience
    Severe - Severe
    shEver - Rituals
    Secrets of the Moon - Seven Bells
    Sektemtum Aut Caesar, Aut Nihil
    Septicopyemia - Supreme Art of Genital Carnage
    Serpent Noir - Seeing Through The Shadow Consciousness - Open Up The Shells
    Serpentine Path - Cerebus + Depravity
    Serpentine Path - Serpentine Path
    Shining - Redefining Darkness
    Sinister - The Carnage Ending
    Spawn of Possession - Incurso
    Struck by Lightning - True Predation
    Sutekh Hexen with Andrew Liles - Breed In Me The Darkness
    Sutekh Hexen - Behind The Throne
    Sutekh Hexen – Larvae
    Sutekh Hexen - Empyraisch
    Swallow the Sun - Emerald Forest And The Blackbird
    Szron - Death Camp Earth
    Tank - War Nation
    Tankard - A Girl Called Cerveza
    Terrorizer - Hordes of Zombies
    Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
    The Howling Wind - Of Babalon
    The End of Six Thousand Years - Perpetuum
    The Moon Mistress - Silent Voice Inside
    The Royal Arch Blaspheme - II
    The Secret - Agnus Dei
    Thy Darkened Shade - Eternvs Mos, Nex Ritvs
    Torch Runner - Committed To The Ground
    Ufomammut - Oro - Opus Alter
    Ufomammut - Oro - Opus Primum
    Umbra Noctis - Il Primo Volo
    Unholy Crucifix - Black Mass Metal
    Unsacred - Where the Light Dims
    Vassafor - The Obsidian Codex
    Velnias - RuneEater
    Vindicator - United We Fall
    Vorkreist - Sigil Whore Christ
    Weapon - Embers and Revelations
    Witch In Her Tomb - Witch In Her Tomb
    Witch Mountain - South Of Salem
    Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor
    Witchcraft - Legend
    Wodensthrone - Curse
    Woman is the Earth - This Place That Contains My Spirit
    Wreck and Reference - No Youth
    Year of the Goat - Angels' Necropolis

  • + BEST IN HEAVY METAL - 2011 +

    Abr 2 2014, 7h08

    Hi folks,

    The years have come and gone, and yet for some odd reason I still receive requests for my 'Best Of' journal entries in Heavy Metal, as well as several other genres. Why I still receive these requests I have no idea, but I've relented on being an e-seclusionist curmudgeon and eternally lazy long enough to post my Best in Heavy Metal of 2011 list. I hope whatever poor soul or bored last.fm troll that reads this dated meandering of metal finds something that they haven't otherwise heard or thought to listen to since '11. Also, I encourage any suggestions for albums released in 2011 that I've omitted as it's painfully obvious from my list that I can't possibly listen to everything out there.

    Journal entries for 2012 and 2013 are forthcoming. No, for real this time.

    - Coffinwood_Mill

    † Please support the artists listed here and purchase their music or merchandise †

    Absu, after eight long years of recording silence have released their second album in three years, the chaotic and speed driven Abzu. The second hellish force in a malevolent planned trilogy dealing with the abyss, this is an album that could’ve placed higher on my list, but even so it shreds as hard as any of the aforementioned records. The record, as per the norm for Absu, is rife with thrashing blackened insanity, with “Circles of the Oath” and “Skyring in the Spirit Vision” delivering my favorite tracks on Abzu. Highly Recommended!

    For fans of: Melechesh, Deströyer 666, Desaster, Inquisition, Weapon, Nifelheim.

    Initially, I lacked the initiative and interest in hearing Beyond the Fall of Time due to a series of – what I now understand as – absolutely unfair and ultimately erroneous reviews on the release, pegging it as being nothing more than the masturbatory effort of technical proficiency and nothing more, basically reserved for those who want to merely wish to hear endless noodling. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With their sophomore effort, Exmortus’ brand of technical death meets thrash metal is dynamic success that showcases not only the amount of skill the provide in their lead guitar work, but how much face-melting riffs shred throughout Beyond the Fall of Time, especially on tracks like “Kneel Before the Steel” and “Destroy”. This is a killer release, and one that I return to often. If you’re into any of the below artists, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not give it a listen.

    For fans of: Hellwitch, Warbringer, Horrendous, Excruciator, Deathhammer, Timeghoul.


    As the opening bars of “Hand of Darkness” release their putrid grasp on the grave and immediately reach for listeners throat, you quickly realize that the legendary gore-obsessed death metal cult Autopsy have lost none of their ghoulish proclivity for sadism, violence, and abject brutality. Macabre Eternal is precisely the true return that many fans thought not possible – a vicious foray into the uncompromisingly gore-obsessed death metal sound that they themselves helped to twist into the cruel and sick sepulchral form so revered many years ago. The morbid perfection of the record is that the entirety of the release is unquestionably within the confines of Autopsy’s distinctive sound, but freshly exhumed; tormented and sick vocals, frenzied solos, and the unrelentingly punk-infused percussive canters rot forth from each perverted track. Dare I say that with Macabre Eternal, Autopsy may have exceeded all of their previous material. Highly Recommended!

    For fans of: Abscess, Asphyx, Repulsion, Grave, Cianide, Cancer.

    Great debut!

    Without question, one of the best death metal records of 2011, Towards The Megalith is an exceptionally destructive foray into the realm of evil as fuck down-tuned and absolutely uncompromising death metal. Towards The Megalith storms out of the hellgate with tracks like the opener “Chaos Apparition” and “Chasm of Oceanus” only to ultimately drag you into the abyss of monolithic death metal sludge at the midpoint with “Vault of Membros”, my personal favorite on the record. With a stylistic approach that invokes the death doom of New York legends Winter before shifting suddenly to early-90’s Florida tech death, Disma have created a masterpiece of the genre that feels both tremendously familiar yet utterly new. Strongly recommended!

    For fans of: Funebrarum, Cruciamentum, Dead Congregation, Hooded Menace, Krypts, Convulse.

    For the uninitiated, Midnight play face-rapingly addictive beer soaked blackened heavy metal – imagine an unholy coalescing of Venom, Judas Priest, and Bathory snorting massive lines of punk rock energy off of Satan’s cock, and that basically sums up the sound on their latest release Satanic Royalty. Tracks like “Lust, Filth and Sleaze” and “Holocaustic Deafening” showcase the blackened heavy metal meets pure stomping punk wall of putrid albeit breakneck sound as the band pulls no punches and leaves no unmelted faces in their wake, courtesy of shredding solo’s and scathing heavy metal showmanship. An uncompromising, hedonistic, and ultraviolent release, there are carnal delights that any self-respecting metalhead could delight in on Satanic Royalty. Killer album!

    For fans of: Abigail, Nifelheim, Nunslaughter, Trench Hell, Gospel of the Horns, Bastard Priest.

    As part of the renowned French underground scene, the horde known as Haemoth have been summoning forth an abundance of orthodox black metal for the better part of a decade. While their malicious and aggressive musical approach is not something that is going to ever be deemed “progressive” within the genre, a record with a nostalgic familiarity like In Nomine Odium is exactly what I require from time to time. The seething onslaught of cavernous crescendos and dissonant motifs saturated in a raw hellish onslaught of blackened hate make this a positively addicting listen. For fans of the orthodox and classic black metal sounds of the past, this is an invigorating listen that I would strongly recommend.

    For fans of: Aosoth, Antaeus, Ondskapt, Krohm, Insane Vesper, Hell Militia.

    This is not black metal. There really is no viable genre distinction that can successfully describe the disharmonic orchestra of tortured noise that Gnaw Their Tongues have achieved on Per Flagellum Sanguemque, Tenebras Veneramus. While artistically they may produce albums at a respectable albeit predictable yearly rate, I am rarely disappointed in what they have to offer, and this 2011 release may be their finest offering yet. This turbulent cauldron of cacaphonious noise is brimming over with the barbarous sounds of blackened flagellation, a hopeless aura of lo-fi horror/snuff film atmospherics, and moreover the shrieking cries of the most tortured and tormented of doomed victims. Each track is littered with a horrifying abundance of instruments ranging from what you would normally expect from the band, but also including keyboards, live string and horn arrangements, and the eerily uncomfortable samples of death and realized despair. Give me more.

    For fans of: Aderlating, De Magia Veterum, Menace Ruine, The Axis of Perdition, Cloak of Altering, NDE, Khanate, Grunt.

    This 2-piece from Finland specializing in a bass-oriented dirge of blackened cacophony, the likes of which haven’t been heard since the glory days of Beherit and Archgoat are certainly an acquired taste – even for the most seasoned of contemporaries and fans of the legendary Finnish black metal scene. The songs that comprise Under The Eye are utterly bizarre, absolutely outlandish, and possibly as batshit crazy as you’d expect from a group that habitually features members on stage in the nude. Several of the instruments on the release are completely unidentifiable, yet retain the thick trudge of darkness and punishingly scathing textures throughout the release. As if the caustic inundation into Ride For Revenge’s malevolent tempest of noise isn’t mind-melting enough, the only temporary reprieve from the onslaught are the occasional spacey ambient passages spattered throughout Under The Eye. Not a release for everyone, but a positively killer album nonetheless.

    For fans of: Dead Reptile Shrine, Kadotus, Pseudogod, Antediluvian, Torturium, Saturnian Mist.

    Sincerely evocative in the most disseminated and repetitively bleak way, Ash Borer was a mammoth release from the wilds of the Pacific Northwest eco-friendly and naturalistic cabin-dwelling “Cascadian black metal scene,” which is habitually hit-or-miss at best. However, as convoluted and pretentious as many of their more “post” or “ambient” blackened peers sound, Ash Borer have seemingly steered clear of those Pitchfork-reading vegan pitfalls and after only two demos and a split release have become one of the region’s most preeminent and promising black metal acts. Existing fans will undoubtedly take note of a decidedly more balanced and effective prowess in the song-writing than on previous efforts. Yet, it’s quite clear that Ash Borer are yearning to capture a desolation and emptiness in their echoing dissonance that they will realize in time as they mature as a band, but for the moment their 2011 release is still in regular rotation per my listening habits.

    For fans of: Fell Voices, Bosse-de-Nage, Skagos, Alda, Panopticon.

    Revolting vocalist and guitarist Rogga Johansson is a busy guy, balancing time between Paganizer, Ribspreader, Bone Gnawer, The Grotesquery, and finally Bloodgut. Revolting is, as you’ve probably guessed, my favorite of the bunch and In Grisly Rapture is clearly his best work to date in any of the aforementioned bands. Death metal in the Swedish vein, the entire album a monstrous foray into the blood-drenched and limb-cutting world of horror, with fierce hyper-speed riffs, hook-laden melodies, mauling drums and Rogga’s gore-spewing vocals leading the way. Suffice to say, In Grisly Rapture was one of the most ghoulishly fun releases of 2011.

    For fans of: Demonical, Miasmal, Bone Gnawer, Bastard Priest, Undead Creep.

    Recall that in January of 2011, Wrest (real name Jef Whitehead) had been arrested and was being held on $350,000 bail for sexually assaulting his then-girlfriend. Whether or not the details of those specific charges are true, it did nothing to prevent Profound Lore from releasing True Traitor, True Whore – one of the most embittered and acrimonious heavy metal releases of last year. While the album title leaves little room for interpretation, the scathing, sickened, and entirely haunting content on the album was one of the more enthralling and shocking listens of 2011. There are arguably more layers on this release than any previous Leviathan record as Wrest delves into an unconventional black metal approach that coalesces dark ambient, industrial, and even rock nuances into the caustic maelstrom of True Traitor, True Whore – a release encapsulating the artists own personal Hell. This is a must hear release.

    For fans of: Lurker Of Chalice, Xasthur, Crebain, Blut aus Nord, Krieg, Deathspell Omega, Craft, Krieg, Sapthuran.

    Putrefied fingers and tortured primeval moans grip the listener by the throat and violently drag them deeper into the sarcophagi pandemonium that entombs the true malevolent essence of O' Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres. Perhaps I’m a bit biased due to my love of lo-fi death metal similar to the legendary Incantation and newer projects like Impetuous Ritual, but with their sophomore release, Encoffination achieved a pestilential and reverberating death metal churn that is as barbarous as it is enigmatic. Each instrument on the release is implicit in its plodding menace, formulating the grim mucilage that provides the foundation for this Hellish and audible tomb of primitive despair. The subterranean percussion drives this crawling morass of a release along, while the muddy guitars pummel the listener until they are left to rot with the memory of having been grave-fucked by one of the best newcomers in the death metal scene. Highly Recommended!

    For fans of: Grave Upheaval, Grave Ritual, Venenum, Swallowed, Decrepitaph.

    Well worth the four-year wait, Prime Evil Damnation rewards the patient blasphemer with a filthy Archgoat-worship cacophony of relentless chainsaw-buzz riffs and punishingly heavy drums for a raw, straight-forward and positively brutal listen. While the majority of the record is a scathing barrage to the senses, Bestial Raids does succeed in imbuing a destructive and militant mood on tracks like “Ceremonial Bloodshed” by including martial samples of troops confidently marching to war. The only negative, however, is perhaps that the black/death desecration bellowing from the putrid bowels of Hell doesn’t last very long and Prime Evil Damnation blasts by very quickly – which only leads to repeat listens.

    For fans of: Doombringer, Sadomator, Antediluvian, Nuclear Desecration, Deiphago, Kerasphorus.

    Great full-length debut!

    The Australian black metal scene continues to impress by birthing forth the yet another nefarious doctrine into the unholy annals and psalms of obscure down-under darkness. Predominately influenced by the crepuscule purveyors of the Scandinavian scene, Ill Omen’s Divinity Through Un-Creation invokes an audible portal to the desolate and unhallowed foundations of the true black metal sound, honoring the Norwegian roots of the genre while permeating their ritualistic psalmody with a contemporary distinction of haunting depth and cimmerian ambiance. While Ill Omen’s homage to the old gods may not be a paradigm for the unorthodox or innovative, they truly make up for it by delivering one of the best black metal releases of 2011. Get it.

    For fans of: Temple Nightside, Impious Baptism, Atra, Hellvetron, Hic Iacet, Erebus Enthroned.

    Clearly another victory for the French black metal scene, Aosoth are without a doubt one of my most listened-to black metal bands at the moment. Their pitch-black aesthetic of crushing rotten blackness, all while capturing an esoteric and theological penchant for eerie, droning ambiance all imbues their motif of malevolence with what can only be described as an unspeakably evil sound. With III, Aosoth truly upped the ante, infusing blackened sludge as a nuance to their already impenetrable sound of vicious hook-laden riffs and pummeling barrage of percussion, mercilessly forging the swirling hate-filled compositions of ungodly grime found on III. Excellent release.

    For fans of: Antaeus, Hell Militia, Ascension, Katharsis, Ondskapt.

    Great full-length debut!

    I eventually heard Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth early in 2012, because when it was released in March of 2011 by High Roller Records the limited-edition LP was sold out within only a few days. That said, the wait was definitely worth it. ReVeaL’s sound is a diabolic coalescing of blackened thrash that is injected with a myriad of rollicking rock influences providing for an almost malevolently psychedelic and violent audible vibe. While the band isn’t going to collect accolades for being the most original or progressive in the genre, the collective nuances on Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth are the kind of furious and unforgiving offensive on the listeners senses that will keep you favorably occupied until their next eagerly awaited release.

    For fans of: In Solitude, Necrovation, Teitanblood, Nifelheim.

    Great full-length debut!

    Alongside Mitochondrion’s Parasignosis, this may have been the most impressive death metal release of 2011. With their full-length debut in Through The Cervix Of Hawwah, Antediluvian created a cacophonic and twisted dissonance of excruciatingly violent music that is positively bestial in the impassioned darkness that it delivers. The album is a heinous collection of face-melting riffs, primal drum blasts, audible bass riffs (that will destroy your stereo @ 11), and some of the most throat-rippingly pestilential vocal assaults you’ll hear in the genre. Essentially, this and the rest of their discography is a must-hear for fans of extreme metal.

    For fans of: Cruciamentum, Vasaeleth, Heresiarch, Encoffination, Impetuous Ritual.

    Some things never seem to change. A. A. Nemtheanga & co. are undisputedly the most consistent band in the entire heavy metal genre. Since their seminal debut in 1995 with Imrama, Primordial have thoughtfully refrained from releasing anything even remotely sub-par throughout the duration of their admirable recording history. Redemption At The Puritans Hand is yet another landmark album (a predictable outcome at this point), replete with the epic grandeur and desolate bitterness that embodies the inherent spirit of the band and their dynamic archetypal sound. Yet another victory for the Irish, and if you haven’t heard Redemption At The Puritans Hand yet, waste no time in doing so.

    For fans of: Mael Mórdha, Negură Bunget, Sólstafir, Moonsorrow, Enslaved, Helrunar.

    Great full-length debut!

    Unrelenting and uncompromisingly harsh, Luciform confronts bold listeners with an unholy and scathing coalescing of raw orthodox black metal complete with layer upon layer of desolate razor-thin walls of ubiquitous cruel noise. Virtually every aspect of this brilliant release is rife with shrill and unhinged demonic wails, salacious riffs and hypersonic drumming ferociously intertwined with a maelstrom of blackened noise. If that wasn’t enough, Sutekh Hexen’s debut is also replete with a disquieting and caustic static ambience that rivals virtually all of their irreverential contemporaries. Luciform was truly the most concentrated and chaotic onslaught of unnerving noise that the metal genre had to offer in 2011, and a release that I’ve perpetually returned to for the last year and half. Highly recommended!

    For fans of: NDE, Odz Manouk, Obolus, Katharsis, Tukaaria, Grunt, Clinic Of Torture.

    Already a definitive classic in the death metal genre, Mitochondrion's Parasignosis was truly one of the most challenging, intricately formulated multitude of dark and sinister layers of sonic turmoil that has ever been vomited forth from the death metal genre. The inexorable and cyclical séance of brutal textures and thick almost overbearing metallic chaos provide for a unique and all-encompassing listening experience that few albums from 2011 or any other year can equally match. While their debut Archaeaeon was an absolute success, Parasignosis is a quintessential and genre-defining epic that demands repeat listens. While I suspect that most discerning death metal fans have heard this tumultuous masterpiece by now, if somehow it has slipped through the cracks waste no time in inundating yourself in the complex dissonance and occult ambiance that Parasignosis has to offer.

    For fans of: Impetuous Ritual, Adversarial, Antediluvian, Vasaeleth, Ulcerate.

    Ad Hominem - Dictator - A Monument of Glory
    Aluk Todolo - Finsternis
    Amorphis - "Skyforger"
    Aosoth - Ashes Of Angels
    Archgoat - The Light Devouring Darkness
    Arckanum - ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ
    Ashen Light - Кровь Апокалипсиса
    Aves - Aves
    Avulsed - Nullo (The Pleasure of Self-Mutilation)
    Behemoth - Evangelion
    Bloodline - Hate Procession
    Blut aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With the Stars
    Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
    Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration Plague
    Den Saakaldte - All Hail Pessimism
    Deströyer 666 - Defiance
    Devourment - Unleash The Carnivore
    Diocletian - Doom Cult
    Doomraiser - Erasing the Remembrance
    Drudkh - Microcosmos
    Ea - Ea II
    Echoes of Yul - Echoes of Yul
    Evile - Infected Nations
    Foscor - Groans To The Guilty
    Fukpig - Spewings from a Selfish Nation
    Funeral Mist – Maranatha
    Furia - Grudzien za Grudniem
    Furia - Płoń
    Glorior Belli - Meet Us At The Southern Sign
    Goatwhore - Carving Out The Eyes Of God
    God Dethroned - Passiondale
    Gorgoroth - Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt
    Havohej - Kembatinan Premaster
    Havok - Time Is Up
    Hellveto - Kry
    Hjarnidaudi - Psyko:Stare:Void
    Horna - Musta Kaipuu
    Huata - Atavist Of Mann
    Hypocrisy - A Taste Of Extreme Divinity
    Immortal - All Shall Fall
    Impiety - Terroreign (Apocalyptic Armageddon Command)
    Isis - Wavering Radiant
    Kreator - Hordes of Chaos
    Kylesa – Static Tensions
    LAHO - Escape From the Dying Star
    Les Discrets / Alcest - Les Discrets / Alcest
    Lvpvs Infestvs - Post Fata Resurgo
    Malfeitor (Ita) - Incubus
    Månegarm - Nattväsen
    Marduk - Wormwood
    Metalucifer - Heavy Metal Bulldozer
    My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire
    Necrodeath - Phylogenesis
    Nile - Those Whom The Gods Detest
    Onslaught - Killing Peace
    Oranssi Pazuzu - Muukalainen puhuu
    Paroxysmal Descent - Paradigm of Decay
    Process Of Guilt - Erosion
    Psoriasis - Lethal Treatment
    Reaktor 4 - Reaktor 4
    Rev 16:8 - Grand Tidal Rave
    Sacrifice - The Ones I Condemn
    Samael - Above
    Siena Root - Different Realities
    Sjenovik - Zephaniah
    Skeletonwitch - Breathing the Fire
    Slayer - World Painted Blood
    Solar Wisdom - The Temple of Honour
    Speedwolf - Ride With Death
    Spiritus Mortis - "The God Behind The God"
    Suffocation - Blood Oath
    Sui Caedere - Thrène
    Sun of the Blind - Skullreader
    Svart - Vanara, Vanmakt Och Avsmak
    Svarte Greiner - Kappe
    Teitanblood - Seven Chalices
    The Black League - Ghost Brothel
    Thrall - Vermin to The Earth
    1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame
    Trist - Willenskraft
    Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Blood Lust
    Urgehal - Ikonoklast
    Vader - Necropolis
    Vektor - Black Future
    Vorkreist - Sickness Sovereign
    W.A.S.P. - Babylon
    Witchrist - Curses of Annihilation
    Wodensthrone - Loss
    Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade
    Wolvserpent - Gathering Strengths
    Wyrd - Kalivägi
    Xasthur - All Reflections Drained
    YOB - The Great Cessation

  • + BEST IN INDIE / MISC. 2010 +

    Abr 23 2011, 8h15

    After much pestering, I've relented. Hope you folks are happy. Here is my Best In Indie / Misc. 2010 list.

    Those who are actually interested, feel free to comment, criticize, and suggest any albums that you may have heard that I might have missed in any genre. Also, feel free to post your fave albums of 2010. There are so many great albums out there that it's impossible to hear them all.

    I'm open to any listening suggestions!

    Also, if you are interested in other genres of music aside from those covered in this journal, feel free to visit my other journal entries covering the Best of Heavy Metal (link) and Neofolk / Martial / Neoclassical / Etc.(link) in 2010.

    Enjoy! :-]

    Anathema - "We’re Here Because We’re Here"

    Without question, We’re Here Because We’re Here is one of the most magnificent and beautiful records that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Anathema are a band that I have been enamored with for over fifteen years, and I can attest with confidence that they are distinctly among the most underrated acts in music today, perhaps even possessing the distinction as the most underrated. With an astounding discography of legendary releases, such as Judgment, Alternative 4, and A Natural Disaster already behind them, the future could not be more promising for the brilliant and contemplative artists that comprise this band.

    The ethereal and poignant magic Anathema effortlessly breathes life into on We’re Here Because We’re Here cannot be overstated. Moreover, the urgency and unspoken positivity (a shift from the bands more melancholic themes) have a propensity to envelop the listener in an almost virtuous ambiance, particularly on tracks like "Summer Night Horizon," "Dreaming Light," "Everything," and "Angels Walk Among Us" - all of which are absolutely breathtaking and at times nearly transcendental. My only hope for the band is that they refrain from torturing their fans with another extended down period between masterpiece records.

    Highly Recommended!

    For fans of: Antimatter, My Dying Bride, Katatonia, Blackfield, Porcupine Tree, Lunatic Soul.
    Homepage: www.anathema.ws

    O. Children - "O. Children"

    Great debut!

    “Now, little child, don’t be scared about the terror outside, just lie in bed, don’t you cry about the sails in the night”
    - Bring Me a Prayer

    O. Children are exactly what music needed. Their sound is a gloomy kaleidoscope of coalescing melodies comprised of early gothic rock (Bauhaus & The Sisters of Mercy) post-punk, and modern indie-rock. The production on the record lends an almost vintage 4AD tenor without sounding dated, and the baritone behind the microphone for O. Children is remarkably characteristic of Mr. Cave, of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. O. Children easily inspires a multitude of repeat listens, and the album is absolutely addictive in every way. Outstanding tracks such as "Malo," "Ruins," and "Radio Waves" find themselves lodged in the frontal lobe of your brain - you can’t get this out of your head once it’s there, but most of all - you won’t want to. While the band is still firmly rooted in the post-punk revival centered mostly around East London, O. Children is hastily compelling post-punk, gothic, and indie fans the world over to take notice of their darkened tapestry of superb art rock for a new generation. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

    For fans of: R O M A N C E, S.C.U.M., Demontré, Soviet Soviet.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/ochildren

    Hurts - "Happiness"

    Great debut!

    Hurts, with their dark suits and oil slick hair, are a relatively enigmatic duo who are channeling the sonic persuasion of a new romantic ethos that is prepared to take the world (mostly Europe) by storm. Happiness was an absolute synthetic singles factory, primed with a multitude of 1980’s inspired electronic and new wave hits for a new generation of listeners. I thought that I was rather obsessed with their Wonderful Life EP, but that was merely a precursor to the addictive frenzy that enveloped me once Happiness effortlessly took over my listening patterns.

    The release inundates the listener with a melodic and at times melancholic deluge of hook-laden tracks such as "Wonderful Life," "Sunday," "Stay," "Unspoken" and others. Happiness is a release that at times I had to convince myself not to listen to merely so I could provide attention to the stacks of things awaiting my ear in other genres. Yet, however enslaving an aural-methamphetamine for the senses it may be, it could very well turn out to be a victim of its own success. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this release to those who enjoy quality European pop-music with a 1980’s new wave refinement.

    For fans of: Depeche Mode, Daggers, White Lies, IAMX, Delphic.
    Homepage: www.informationhurts.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/ithurts

    Swans - "My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky"

    Swans Are Alive. Long live Michael Gira. Long live Swans.

    For fans of: Michael Gira, Jarboe, The Body Lovers, Coil, Current 93, The Angels of Light, The World of Skin.
    Homepage: www.swans.pair.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/swansaredead

    Deerhunter - "Halycon Digest"

    I began as a modest, yet curious fan of Deerhunter when first investigating with amusement their debut Turn It Up Faggot and unexpectedly enjoying the lush textures of guitar-laden psychedelia that drove that record home. I have followed their progression ever since. However, never did I believe that they would record an album that bewildered, confused, and entranced me as much as Halycon Digest. The album itself is an erratically chaotic mélange of electronic music, the ghosts of Motown, late-60's fuzz, nausea-inducing psychedelia, and a straight-up rock homage to the Velvet Underground and others. While the shorter tracks on the record are arguably the most memorable, it is the calm isolation of the longer tracks that I usually find most appealing and out of the ordinary.

    In some strange way, there is something inherently disconcerting, yet amusing about Halycon Digest which I still can't quite explain. Perhaps it’s the mere fact that I enjoy a record that is already culling the backlash and wrath from their imbecilic and fickle Pitchfork reading hipster audience, or maybe it's because this record really is overrated? Either way, I'll be listening to Halycon Digest for quite some time.

    For fans of: Atlas Sound, Avey Tare, Women, No Age, My Bloody Valentine.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/deerhunter

    Les Discrets - "Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées"

    Great debut!

    This is a release that very well could have been among the finalists in my metal countdown. However closely resembling the nuances of the more melancholic sub-genres of heavy metal Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées may be, I decided to include it here because, well, I had to include it somewhere. Les Discrets is a relatively new shoegaze/metal project, fueled by the inventive and multi-talented artist Fursy Teyssier, who tactfully managed to set the Les Discrets sound apart from many other shoegaze/heavy metal scabs currently littering the underground.

    In fact, outside of the success of Alcest, I'm not quite sure what caused the epidemic of shoegazing black metal bands out there, but most lack any semblance of originality, and nearly all are mediocre at best and unlistenable at worst - on Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées, this isn't the case. While the chord progressions are relatively simple and have been done a multitude of times before by actual shoegaze bands, Les Discrets manage to avoid the cliché quite successfully. In crafting their richly rewarding wall of sound, Teyssier and co. infuse the brooding and mysterious into each track. The erudite listener will recognize the expertise required to produce the melancholic and organic breadth of despair that flows seamlessly into an emotive expanse of sonic warmth that is Les Discrets. This is excellent stuff.

    For fans of: Alcest, Amesoeurs, Airs, Cold Body Radiation, Joyless.
    Homepage: http://lesdiscrets.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/lesdiscrets

    Crystal Castles - "Crystal Castles"

    The sophomore release from Toronto electro-trash band Crystal Castles surpassed any expectations I might have had. I enjoyed their debut, but if you were to ask me prior to their sophomore release if Crystal Castles could actually remain interesting and viable while sticking solely to their original sound, I might have said no. With Crystal Castles II, they have proved that they are capable of evolving while remaining true to themselves, and in a very productive way.

    While their debut was arguably more abrasive with its deafening tawdry of dime-store keyboards, pummeling 8-bit house beats and the occasional rape-whistle shrieks of vocalist Alice Glass, their new release seems more mature, less disorganized (not that chaos is always bad), and a bit more listenable. This is readily audible on the terrific and moving single "Celestica" where Glass actually shows us that she can sing, and on tracks such as the memorable "Empathy," and the outlandish vocal harmonies flaunted in "Vietnam." Yet, while Crystal Castles have experienced a major progression with their sophomore release, there is still one thing remaining: if only Ethan Kath and Glass could convince Robert Smith to become a permanent member of the band.

    For fans of: Kap Bambino, Health, White Ring, Salem, Klaxons.
    Homepage: http://crystalcastles.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/crystalcastles

    Grinderman - "Grinderman 2"


    Listen to this.

    For fans of: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party, The Boys Next Door, Tom Waits, Dirty Three.
    Homepage: www.grinderman.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/grinderman

    Tzolk’in - "Tonatiuh"

    The Ant-Zen label is simply among finest when it comes to discovering bands that are entirely unique and decidedly explorative. With their sophomore release from the collaborative project between Empusae and Flint Glass, Tonatiuh provides a ideal illustration of what consummate artists can produce in terms of unbridled and transcending atmosphere. While absolutely cutting-edge, contemporary, and firmly within the electronic medium, Tonatiuh inexplicably taps into the primal subconscious and primitive memory-form of the listener, evoking an ambiance of tribal sensibilities and the archaic instinct of the natural struggle between ancient civilization and nature. With Tonatiuh, Tzolk’in have achieved something unforgettable and exceptional and their work certainly deserves a wider audience. With any luck, this excellent release will provide it.

    For fans of: Empusae, Flint Glass, Geomatic, THIS MORN’ OMINA, Totakeke, Ah Cama-Sotz.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/tzolkinmusic

    Jónsi- "Go"

    Great debut!

    Jónsi Birgisson, angelic-voiced frontman of Sigur Rós has achieved far more than I thought he might when it was announced that Sigur Rós would be on "indefinite hiatus" for the foreseeable future. Jónsi & Alex, a music and art project he did with his boyfriend Alex Summer, and his first work outside of Sigur Rós, failed to pique my interest as it was extremely sparse, and relatively pedestrian. That was followed by a genuine solo album, Go which not I thought was absolutely fantastic. Although meeting the incredibly high standard of Sigur Rós is a difficult thing to live up to, the lushly inventive orchestrations and the always transcendently moving vocals of Jónsi himself resulted in Go fittingly becoming a definitive success. Highly recommended to those who enjoy the ethereal and otherworldly in their music.

    For fans of: Sigur Rós, Jónsi & Alex, Frakkur, Parachutes, Amiina, Kjartan Sveinsson.
    Homepage: http://jonsi.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/jonthorbirgisson

    Fredrik - "Trilogi"

    The sophomore release Trilogi from Fredrik captured my attention during a point in 2010 when I couldn't be bothered to listen to anything in this style. Building upon NaNaNi, their accomplished debut, this is a relatively underrated project that very well could be saving their magnum opus for a later date. To be sure, it's not an easily digested release, and it generally requires an actual investment on the listener's part to fully appreciate the plethora of warm and melodic harmonies interwoven with the multitude of lush arrangements on the album. There is a great deal to be discovered on Trilogi, and even after numerous listens, the record still provides the adventurous and exploratory feeling a listener might feel the first time the vocal harmonies from "Vinterbarn" ascend from your stereo speakers. The lyrics on the record are in English, but most of the track titles found on Trilogi are in Swedish. My recommendation: Get everything Fredrik, The LK, and lindefelt have ever done. You won't be disappointed.

    For fans of: Solander, Alcoholic Faith Mission, The LK, Sin Fang, A Weather, Heather Woods.
    Homepage: http://www.frdrk.org
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/fredriktheband

    The Dead Brothers - "The 5th Sin-Phonie"

    With their fifth album, the frenzied gypsy-folk funeral orchestra of The Dead Brothers return with the rollicking and sophisticated mystery that is The 5th Sin-Phonie. For those unfamiliar with the bourbon-soaked and soot-covered ghastly hymns of the German-Swiss mindfuck that is The Dead Brothers, try to envision a morose concoction of 1980's-era Tom Waits, early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and even the goth-monolith Bauhaus, whose classic anthem "Bela Lugosi's Dead" the band pays homage to with great success. These influences all melt in a slow-burn recital of dark whispers and possessed vocals accompanied by a maelstrom of accordion, cello, strings and brass. The 5th Sin-Phonie is a mysteriously sprawling and eccentric release that feels as if you're entering a goth-club saloon (if one existed in the 1800's) on a Western Frontier filled with vampire-gypsy musicians playing a jig. It's fucking weird, and I like it.

    For fans of: Beat Circus, Reverend Glasseye and His Wooden Legs, Delaney Davidson, The Tiger Lillies.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/wwwdeadbrotherscom

    Parallels - "Visionaries"

    Great debut!

    Absolutely indebted to the 1980's, Parallels outstanding debut Visionaries finds former Crystal Castles drummer Cameron Findlay joining forces with the enigmatic and foxy-voiced Holly Dodson. Out of the dozen tracks on the record, there is absolutely no filler, and each song boasts an infusion of electronic hooks and hypnotic dance beats that are dangerously addictive. One aural facet of their sound that sets them apart from many of their contemporaries is that rather than utilize today’s technology, they went full analog with lends an artistic authenticity and integrity to their debut. Visionaries, is not exactly the most innovative or original release, and it certainly won’t be heralded as a great work of art, but the neon-lit new romanticism of their pensive, disco-infused electro-pop is unmistakably awesome.

    For fans of: Fan Death, Parralox, The Golden Filter, College, Tesla Boy.
    Homepage: http://parallels.fm
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/parallelsfm

    Killing Joke - "Absolute Dissent"

    Absolute Dissent could be considered, for some, the perfect Killing Joke album. The first recording featuring the original line-up since 1982’s Revelations, their odd combination of post-punk, new wave, metal and industrial sounds as innovative and hard-hitting as ever. As with most Killing Joke records, their sound is a myriad of different elements, with tracks like "European Super State" sounding almost dance-influenced, while others such as "This World Hell" are absolutely heavy and unremitting. Suffice to say, Killing Joke fans will be anything but disappointed when they hear the coalescing of the bands eighties sound and the sonic characteristics of their later material.

    Perhaps the best track on Absolute Dissent is the absolutely epic "The Raven King" - a tribute to the band’s longtime bass player Paul Raven, who died in 2007. It was this unlikely and tragic event that resulted in the reunion of the band, as they agreed to reform while meeting at Raven’s funeral. The result of their reformation under heartbreaking circumstances is arguably the finest album in the Killing Joke discography, and comes highly recommended.

    For fans of: The Damage Manual, Ministry, Fields of the Nephilim, New Model Army, Bauhaus.
    Homepage: www.killingjoke.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/killingjokeofficial

    John & Jehn - "Time For The Devil"

    Yes, this release was inspired by a parable which views the Devil as a Dionysus-style liberator. That should clear up any doubt as to whether or not this French duo wasn't already unquestionable cool. With Time For The Devil, John & Jehn managed to merge dark indie rock with a keen Euro-centric retroactive style that is undeniably French, perhaps even recollective of an even darker Serge Gainsbourg, but on Prozac. Proving that they are more than merely a French-regional phenomenon, Time For The Devil was is an absolute success for the band. Now I want more.

    For fans of: LoneLady, Hatcham Social, Wild Palms, Curry & Coco, Battant, French Cowboy.
    MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/johnjehn

    School of Seven Bells - "Disconnect From Desire"

    What first attracted me to this band was the fact that they initially paid homage to the legendary ethereal brilliance of Cocteau Twins (who I'm a huge fan of) and the great Kate Bush on their marvelous debut Alpinisms. They have deviated from their debut's sound on Disconnect From Desire, and while I assumed I wouldn't enjoy any further material as much as I did the material on Alpinisms, I was mistaken. The album, audibly harking back to the glorious 80s, offers a more stripped-down direction, albeit with a mixture of stronger vocals and an electronically inventive sonic-configuration that the band can call their own. A successful departure, while not totally isolating themselves from their past, Disconnect From Desire is a confident step forward for the band. Great album!

    For fans of: Glasser, Asobi Seksu, Phantogram, Active Child.
    Homepage: http://www.sviib.com
    MySpace: /www.myspace.com/schoolofsevenbells

    Heimataerde - "Unwesen"

    Elektronischer Ritter oder ritterlicher Elektroniker? Egal! Ashlar von Megalon treibt auch ohne Etikett erfolgreich sein „Unwesen“ und führt uns mit dem gleichnamigen Album erneut ohne Fehl in eine längst vergangene Zeit. Eine Zeit, voll düsterer Geschichten, geprägt vom Kreuz, mangelnder Zahnhygiene und Männern in Strumpfhosen. Natürlich wird hier alles feilgeboten, was eine gute Stampfelektro meets Mittelalter-Platte so ausmacht. Der Bass bumst, die Texte sind eingängig, Samples gibt’s obendrauf und melodisch wird dem Hörer hier auch nix vom Discounter vorgesetzt, was natürlich nicht zuletzt an den immer wieder gekonnt eingebrachten mittelalterlichen Strukturen liegt, die in Verbindung mit den harten Elektroelementen ungezügelten Bewegungsdrang auslösen. Wer schon immer mal wissen wollte, was der Ritter von Welt beim Morgenlauf im MP3-Player hatte, dem sei „Unwesen“ dringend empfohlen!

    For fans of: Wynardtage, X-Fusion, Reaper, Painbastard, Feindflug, Centhron.
    Homepage: www.heimataerde.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/heimataerde

    Broken Bells - "Broken Bells"

    Great debut!

    Initially, I hesitated on checking out Broken Bells, primarily due to the fact that James Mercer (lead singer of The Shins) was involved. I’ve never been much of a fan of The Shins, so I understandably had my doubts about his new project Broken Bells. A bit of advice to those who are either The Shins fans or were refraining from checking out Broken Bells: This album is very different from Mercer’s other material.

    Broken Bells is heavily infused with an assortment of computer-enhanced instrumentals, which is admirably balanced with an impressive vocal performance by Mercer. Surprisingly, Broken Bells was far more complex and layered than I had been expecting, and the intricacies, combined with the venerable talent of Mercer and Danger Mouse makes for an entertaining listen. This is a pop record in every sense of the word, and tracks like “Your Head Is On Fire,” “The Ghost Inside,” and “The High Road” are entirely addictive. This duo of tested veterans delivered one of the better “indie-rock” debuts of 2010, and if you haven’t heard it yet, their 2011 EP Meyrin Fields isn’t so bad either.

    For fans of: The Shins, Yeasayer, Local Natives, Fleet Foxes, Miike Snow.
    Homepage: www.brokenbells.com

    The Third Eye Foundation - "The Dark"


    Bliss. Matt Elliot’s a modern musical genius.

    For fans of: Matt Elliot, Manyfingers, This Immortal Coil, Flying Saucer Attack, ANBB, Hood.
    Homepage: www.myspace.com/thethirdeyefoundation
    MySpace: www.thirdeyefoundation.com

    The Depreciation Guild - "Spirit Youth"

    If King Diamond’s 1987 release Abigail is the quintessential heavy metal gothic-horror concept album, The Depreciation Guild’s Spirit Youth would represent the other side of the coin as the greatest gothic romance album to date. These songs call out images of running through dark houses and snow, oaths of love, pining, bittersweet memories, and lots of dreaming. Simply pigeon-holing this album as easy as a The Pains of Being Pure At Heart side-project runs the risk of dismissing one of the best releases of 2010.

    The Guild’s first full-length release, In Her Gentle Jaws, was unique in that it seamlessly melded 8-bit Nintendo tracks with guitars in such a way that it caused the attentive listener to appreciate how deftly the two styles were fused. With Spirit Youth the synthesis of style advances far enough along that casual listeners may never detect the chiptunes 8-bit foundations, the addition of shoegaze influences, or the string-theory like connection between the songs via their lyrics. However, what everyone will immediately notice are the incredible chord changes that set each song apart from one another. The song structures are enough to grab anyone’s attention as they hook you throughout and, like paging through a good book, compel you to listen to the next song.

    Spirit Youth takes time to fall in love with. To further the gothic romance analogy, when you first meet the material you might find it ugly or slight (my own initial experience with the album was disappointment). The slight vocals of Kurt Feldman aren’t something to try after listening to Pontiak, and the lack of a bass guitar makes it challenging to rock out to. However, like the arc of Jane Eyre’s relationship with Edward Rochester, the more time you spend with the material and get to know it, the more you will find it difficult to live without. Multiple listens of “A Key Turns” and further exploration of the other tracks should reveal the same conclusion about Spirit Youth.

    For fans of: Sweet Trip, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Soundpool.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/thedepreciationguild

    Subheim - "No Land Called Home"

    Subheim’s 2008 debut album Approach was nothing short of magnificent. However, since then, there have been many stylistic changes to their sound. In a deviation from their prior soundscape of mechanical and darkened ambiance, No Land Called Home has far less of an electronic presence, and far more vocals than ever before. The electronic element that is still present coalesces with a kaleidoscope of acoustic instruments, infusing an added element of authenticity and evocative warmth to each track, which results in a far more intimate listening experience than Approach. Bolding moving forward with their distinctive resonance, Subheim represent the perfect harmony between foreboding and creative electronic elements, melancholic acoustic sounds via instruments like cello, violin, and clarinet, all coalescing into a depressive harmony of beauty and introspective bliss.

    For fans of: Stendeck, Blackfilm, Undermathic, Totakeke, Nebulo, Boy Is Fiction.
    Homepage: www.subheim.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/subheimmusic

    Massive Attack - "Heligoland"

    If you haven’t already heard of Massive Attack, you probably wouldn’t read a proper review of their newest work anyway. That said, Heligoland is an first-rate album, but in reality would probably land somewhere between “good” and “excellent” on the star-scale. However, I bumped it up to “exemplary” due to the inclusion of Hope Sandoval on "Paradise Circus." No explanation needed. If you haven’t heard it already, get your hands on Heligoland now.

    For fans of: Tricky, Portishead, Archive, Hooverphonic, Sneaker Pimps, UNKLE.
    Homepage: www.massiveattack.co.uk
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/massiveattack

    The Naked and Famous - "Passive Me, Aggressive You"

    Great debut!

    Exceedingly hyped, but Passive Me, Aggressive You surprisingly lived up to all of it. Since debuting at number one in the band’s home country of New Zealand, the accolades have been pouring in ever since. The album’s first single, “Young Blood,” won New Zealand’s Single Scroll Award, and the band was also nominated for the BBC Sounds of 2011 poll. Shortly thereafter, The Naked And Famous followed that up by winning the Philip Hall Rader Award at the Shockwaves NME Awards, and the rollercoaster for the band has yet to let up. I wondered if they were worthy of all the praise being heaped upon them, but after hearing Passive Me, Aggressive You, it’s undoubtedly evident that the hype is justifiable. Rather than go into a track by track synopsis, I will merely say that it’s an entertaining and strong album throughout, something that is exceptionally unusual not only in the mainstream, but also in the “indie” scene. At any rate, Passive Me, Aggressive You was one of the best debut releases in the genre, and the quality of such a debut speaks volumes for the bright future in store for the band.

    For fans of: Kids of 88, Gypsy & The Cat, The Vaccines, Wolf Gang, The Joy Formidable.
    Homepage: www.thenakedandfamous.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/thenakedandfamous

    Women - "Public Strain"

    Wiry, metallic, clanging, unapologetically dissonant and still somehow sweetly melodic in a trebly, spiky Post-Punk sort of way, Women, a Canadian noise quartet with experimental tendencies, produces a sound caught in the gap between claustrophobic savant squalls and hooky pop confections. Nowhere do these poles come together more dramatically than on "Black Dice," a standout track from their eponymously titled debut. At first the song sounds like a classic nugget of mid-sixties lo-fi garage-pop, until the melody slowly and subtly starts to warp as if being played on a broken record player. And this is the curious conceit of the debut: pop songs flicker in the light before being whisked away into caverns of impenetrable (and sometimes irritating) noise.

    The album cover for the band's second album, Public Strain, couldn't be more apropos of the music contained within: a stark, dark-lit snowstorm punctuated by the burning glow of poetic beauty. This time, the pop songs no longer descend into the caverns of noise; rather, they provide the blurry outlines that give vestiges of form to the spectral dissonance. Simultaneously beautiful and exceedingly bleak, it's hard to shake the feeling that Women are really on to something original when listening to a song like "Venice Lockjaw," with vocals sounding as off kilter as they do haunting- imagine The Clientele cross-bred with The Velvet Underground. Women produce a singular sound well worth multiple spins for those with ears to hear.


    For fans of: Male Bonding, Young Prisms, No Joy, Wild Nothing, Minks.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/womenmusic

    Polarkreis 18 - "Frei"

    Frei is simply a great German electronic-pop release, lush with orchestrations and hooks but with a contemplative and at times even melancholic essence about them. I'm really not sure if they'll ever break-through Stateside - for a variety of reasons, some not music related - but if you enjoy innovative, addictive electronic pop music with a Euro-sensibility, this is for you.

    For fans of: Bodi Bill, Slut, Fotos, Roman Fischer, Anajo.
    Homepage: http://polarkreis18.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/polarkreis18

    And now...

    Aeon Sable - Per Aspera Ad Astra
    Android Lust - The Human Animal
    Anna von Hausswolff - Singing From the Grave
    Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
    Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
    Belle and Sebastian - Write about Love
    Berlin Black And The Shades Of Grey - Burn It Down
    Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle
    Brandt Brauer Frick - You Make Me Real
    Caribou - Swim
    Chew Lips - Unicorn
    Cindytalk - Up Here In the Clouds
    Conjure One - Exilarch
    Delphic - Acolyte
    Gatekeeper - Giza
    God Is An Astronaut - Age of the Fifth Sun
    Iris - Blacklight
    Jonsi - Go Live
    Joy Serene - Joy Serene
    Kent - En Plats I Solen
    Kollektiv Turmstrasse - Rebellion Der Traumer
    Krister Linder - Shrine of Time
    Krister Linder - Metropia - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Lost in the Trees - All Alone In An Empty House
    Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul II
    Merciful Nuns - Lib. I
    Method Cell - Curse Of A Modern Age
    mind.in.a.box - R.E.T.R.O
    Minerve - Please
    Munly and the Lupercalians - Petr and the Wulf
    Murder By Death - Good Morning, Magpie
    Nachtmahr - Mädchen In Uniform
    Pantha du Prince - Black Noise
    Pascal Pinon - s/t
    Pretentious, Moi? - Pretentious, Moi?
    Rhombus - Open The Sky
    Rökkurró- I´ Annan Heim
    65daysofstatic - We Were Exploding Anyway
    Sleepy Trees - Young Joseph
    Solar Fields - Origin # 01
    Stornoway - Beachcomer’s Windsill
    Suuns - Zeroes QC
    Tapage and Meander - Etched In Salt
    Tesla Boy - Modern Thrills
    The Arctic Flow - All the Way Until December (late '09 release)
    The Black Ryder - Sweet Come Down (late '09 release)
    The Candle Thieves - Sunshine and other Misfortunes
    The Clientele - Bonfires on the Heath (late '09 release)
    The Conquistadors - Citiscapes
    The Flashbulb - Arboreal
    The Ghost Of 3.13 - ...And So I Watched The Seasons Change
    The Juliets - The Juliets
    The Love Language - Libraries
    The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Say No To Love mCD
    The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme
    Totakeke - On the First of November
    Veil Veil Vanish - Change In The Neon Light
    Trentemøller - Into The Great Wide Yonder
    Undermood - For Bleeding Ears
    Warm Ghost - Uncut Diamond
    Yeasayer - Odd Blood
    Zola Jesus - Stridulum II

    Fin ~*


    Abr 21 2011, 11h01

    After much pestering, I've relented. Hope you folks are happy. Here is my Best In Neofolk / Martial Industrial / Etc. 2010 list. I've refrained from writing reviews for this material, as I just couldn’t be bothered this year. My apologies.

    Those who are actually interested, feel free to comment, criticize, and suggest any albums that you may have heard that I might have missed in neofolk, martial, neoclassical, dark ambient, or power electronic genres. Also, I encourage readers to post their Best of 2010 lists as well. There are so many things out there these days that I know I missed a great multitude of things.

    I'm open to any listening suggestions!

    Also, if you are interested in other genres of music aside from those covered in this journal, feel free to visit my other journal entries covering the Best of Heavy Metal (link) and Indie / Misc. (link) in 2010.

    Enjoy! :-]

    + Best In Neofolk / Martial Industrial / Neoclassical / Etc. +

    1.)Adam Hurst - "Elegy"

    Hurst’s seventh release marks a departure from the drone-grounded, solo modal improv of those performances and his recent CD outings. He overdubs spare piano accompaniment that allows a richer harmonic language, more through-composed moments, and, notwithstanding a couple of cuts (e.g. “Radiance”) laced with Middle Eastern rhythms and drone, a more European classical sound meets the old Windham Hill melodic acoustic style. As track titles such as “Elegy,” “Absence” and “Lament” suggest, the prevailing mood is melancholy, sometimes mournfully so, exploiting the instrument’s dark qualities. Others range from dramatic (“Summoning”) to plaintive (“Fragments”) to pensive (“View from Within”), all riding memorable, song-like melodies. The consistently somber mood across Hurst’s 15 concise tracks makes it easy to bask in the haunting atmosphere, ideally next to a fireplace on a stormy night at the coast.

    The cinematic feel of Hurst’s moody music is no accident. “My biggest goal through music is to create evocative, introspective sounds which can accompany dream states,” he says. “I want the listener to have visual experiences.” It’s music best listened to with your eyes closed and heart open.

    - Source: Brett Campbell (www.wweek.com)

    For fans of: :10:, Julia Kent, Nightpray, Corde Oblique, In a Mindset, Indignant Senility.
    Homepage: www.adamhurststudio.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/adamhurststudio

    2.)Árstíðir - Árstíðir (late ’09 pick)

    The music of Árstíðir is a rare mix that is at the same time simple and complex. Their songs are easy to fall in love with, yet it mixes influences from classical music, progressive rock, country and Icelandic folk music. The band consists of distinguished players known from various bands and various genres in the Reykjavíkian sound-scape.

    Aside from their trademark vocal harmonies, it is Árstíðir’s instrumentation that set them apart, effusing a warm tide of resonant acoustic and baritone guitars, virtuosic piano, and melismatic strings. The result is an unusually wide sound spectrum, further emphasized by the impressive vocal range of all six members. Árstíðir’s music is easy to fall in love with yet mixed with diverse influences such as progressive rock, indie, classical music, country and Icelandic folk music.

    - Source: www.arstidir.com

    For fans of: Laudanum Forest, Rökkurró, Neutral, Forseti, Harvest Rain, Nick Castro & The Poison Tree, Marissa Nadler.
    Homepage: www.arstidir.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/arstidir

    3.)Lisa Gerrard & Marcello De Francisci – “Departum"

    Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner singer/composer Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) and film composer Marcello De Francisci have joined forces to bring you their first collaborative album work titled Departum. The two hit it off and felt so good working together they decided to do another project on their own terms. The result is probably the best work Lisa has done since Dead Can Dance dissolved. Soundscapes, echoing chasms, haunting vocals, eastern tribal influences, it's all the stuff that made Dead Can Dance work with a bit of a different flavor. Quietly spiritual, yet not new agey, the record nonetheless feels like a healing. Lisa's voice is as amazing as ever. I think this record proves she does better when she's collaborating with someone.

    On Departum, these collections of pieces are filled with lyrical soundscapes, which have been orchestrated with vocal chants, cimbalom, guitars, percussion, modern instruments and orchestra. An effort that took two years in the making moreover a collective journey inspired by ancient world cultures (Mesopotamia, Europe & Asia).

    - Source: philohagen.com

    For fans of: Dead Can Dance, Brendan Perry, Irfan, Rajna, Love Is Colder Than Death, Azam Ali.
    Homepage: www.lisagerrard.com
    Lisa Gerrard MySpace: www.myspace.com/lisagerrard
    Marcello De Francisci MySpace: www.myspace.com/marcellodefrancisci

    4.)Donis - "Kas tave šaukia..."

    A solid follow up of Donis' Bite Lingo album, emphasizing Lithuanian historical war folklore to a new level, presenting ancient songs with impressive modern post-folk arrangements and various traditional instruments. Singer Rasa Serra with her tremendous voice is on the top here. The album is dedicated to 600 years anniversary of the Great Žalgiris (Grunwald 1410) battle.

    Track By Track Synopsis:

    01. Where War Wages
    Instrumental track.

    02. Who Calls You? (original title Žalio vario)
    Ancient ritual game of funeral (registered in 1984).
    During the ritual, people sing: Who calls you?
    “What do you want, sirs?”
    “We want a man!"
    ”Oh, who will open the gate?”
    “We will open the gate…”

    Passing the gate represents passing from this world into the beyond.

    03. Forth, Home...
    Carry me, my horse, forth, home...

    04. I Woke Up Early
    A song of farewell (registered in 1828). An old mother cries and wails over her young son leaving for the war. The young soldier cries saying that he has no siblings who could see him off.

    05. Dove’s Song
    Military and love song (registered in 1938). This particularly lyrical song has very well-expressed motifs of strong emotional ties in the family. Parents and siblings cry over the soldier who left, look for him everywhere but cannot find him. But the girl finds him in Vilnius town and he promises to marry her.

    06. Must Go to War (original title Oi, šėriau šėriau)
    Leaving for war song (registered in 1960). While feeding the horse, the boy receives a letter brought by a cuckoo inviting him to war. As he is leaving, he is sad about his girl, hopes to return from war and marry her.

    07. Young Brother of Three Sisters
    Brother’s farewell song (registered apprx. in 1963). The key motifs of preparing the boy for war are expressed concisely and quietly in the song: one sister dresses her brother, the other saddles up the horse, while the third lifts the gate and sees him off. The brother never returns as he is killed in the war. The horse brings the message about his demise.

    08. Black Raven
    Dying soldier’s song (registered in 1936). The song conveys the motif of death and wedding. The dying soldier asks the raven to fly to his home town and spread the news that he got married: his bride is the small bullet piercing his heart.

    09. Father Raises
    Soldier’s fate song (registered apprx. in 1949). The first part conveys the preparations for leaving for war and parting with the family, while the second one describes the soldier’s fate in the war, the cruelties of battles and the deaths of soldiers.

    10. Sighing Oaks (original title Ir atlėkė žąsų pulkas)
    A song about the soldier’s service in Prussian army (registered in 1919). The opening image relates to the mythical image: a covey of geese bring the message about the soldier’s death. The song stresses a difficult life of a soldier and the gloomy loneliness of the widowed bride.

    11. Oh, Brother Brother
    Leaving for war song (registered in 1962). A young boy asks his brother to saddle up the horse as he has to go to war. The refrain oh how nice and fine our army is grants some playfulness and optimism to the song.

    12. Run, My Dear Horse
    Instrumental track.

    - Source: www.dangus.net
    Information about songs prepared by Irena Nakienė.
    Translation by Ugnė Vitkutė.

    For fans of: Vilkduja, Donatas Bielkauskas, Oro!Oro!, Roma Amor, Anapilis.
    Homepage: www.donis.lt
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/donatasbielkauskas

    5.)Allerseelen – “Rauhe Schale”

    After a series of luxurious vinyl reissues of the older and deleted discography, the new Allerseelen studio album is ready to be served. Gerhard proceeds in the direction taken withHallstatt, departing from the radiant and Mediterranean atmospheres widely explored on the acclaimed Venezia and Abenteurliches Herz some ten years ago, to move back onto dark and industrial-contaminated territories, never forgetting, however, the primal folk elements always present in the band's sound. Rauhe Schale contains brand-new songs, as well as some reworking of old classics, such as "Sturmlied", "Ob Auch Mein Herz So Funkelt" and "Kamerad" (here titled "Rauhnachtkamerad"), the latter particularly interesting thanks to the addition of female backing vocals.

    There's varitey in the sound all through the album, equally subdivided into ballad-like moments, with acoustic instruments and a traditional approach ("Die Klänge", "Jede Welle", the crepuscular "Die Sehnsucht Aber Bleibt", the agile "Niemandsland"), heavier and noisier experimental parts, with samples and industrial soundscapes ("Diese Nähe Ist Gefahr", the disquieting "Die Berge Werden Leer Sein", "Herbstlied"), electro-dancey epics (the reprise of "Sturmlied", "Dein Herz Schlägt Aufwärts"), and surprising e-guitar driven tunes ("Wo Ist Das Leben", "Rauhnachtsalz", "Ruhig Blut"). The swift and melancholic instrumental piano "Schlussbild" appropriately closes this interesting collection, that shows once again Gerhard's creativity and will to experiment the different possible variations of what he himself baptized "industrial folklore" a while ago.

    - Source: Simon V. (www.filthforge.org)

    For fans of: Der Blutharsch, Blood Axis, Leger Des Heils, Sturmpercht, Werkraum.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/allerseelen

    6.)Funerary Call - "Dark Waters Stirred"

    It is a rare and most priviledged occasion when one happens upon a ritual as foreboding as the recent release from Funerary Call, Dark Waters Stirred. Minimal yet textured, the six tracks that make up Dark Waters Stirred contain some of the most smothering atmosphere to be found in extreme music. Woe to all who dare gaze upon the Dark Waters . . . for what is seen depends largely on who is looking as well as what they most fear.

    “With Curse” opens the wound, the portal, the eye. Patient as a winter’s night, “With Curse” has a tonality that sounds like a distorted dream and a feel like a sluggish nightmare. The lights blink from far away as you are flown through the dark sky, landing at once in the middle of a black sea where an ancient ceremony awaits. The droning drums to “Words of Power” call you closer to the fire, burning your straining eyes. The shadows continue to grow long as the faces of those around you contort into horrendous laughter of decadent delight. This is what sensory deprivation would sound like if it made so much as a whisper.

    One of the most appealing things about Dark Waters Stirred is how personal it can become. The only words present (accompanied by one of the most haunting violins I have ever heard) are spoken, the verses taken from the Book of Revelation. This allows each listener to create his or her own proverbial Frankenstein’s Monster from the album’s anatomy of crude sound. No bullshit political lyrics, no profane chants to Satan — you are allowed to draw your own conclusions and therefore, are also forced to find your own way out of the ever-maddening maze.

    The production of this album is also top notch. Any fool can make noise and call it art, just as any artist can hear noise and call it foolish; however, it takes an artist with genuine talent, such as Funerary Call, to create something as moving and personally penetrating as Dark Waters Stirred.

    - Source: forbidden-magazine.com

    For fans of: Herbst9, Nordvargr, Blood Box, Sistrenatus, Archon Satani.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/funerarycall

    7.)Rome - "Nos Chants Perdus"

    The 5th full length of Rome (the 2nd released on Trisol) sounds to me like their most intimate album thus far. The duo Jerome Reuter (Luxemburg) and Patrick Damiani (Germany) got some fame by their neo-folk and apocalyptic approach, but 5 years after their debut we can no longer speak about this kind of music. There are for sure some reminiscences running through the work, but Nos Chants Perdus comes closer to some real ‘chanson’. An instrument like the accordion reminds me of the street musicians of Paris and that has nothing to do with the neo-folk style. The lyrics remain the strongest element referring to the early years of the band. Paying some attention for the brilliant “La Rose Et La Hache” you’ll have to admit that Rome has considerably evolved. This is a brilliant and moody song dominated by the accordion play. Another essential cut is “Les Iles Noires”. It’s a masterpiece that will appeal for the fans of Nick Cave (on his most moody songs).

    A few other songs are more evasive for the musical content and I here especially think to “L’Assassin” and “Sous La Dague” while being more dramatic for their lyrical content. “Un Adieu A La Folie” is already a bit different, reminding to the gothic-wave style of Diary of Dreams. No doubt about it, next to the intimate character of this release it’s also the most diversified album to date. This is maybe because of the songs that have been brought together in 5 parts.

    Another particularity of this album can be found in some songs sung in English, but achieved with French lyrics. It reflects the cold poetry of Rome while still creating a duality with the music. It all sounds like a symbolic fight between a ‘warmer’ and ‘happier’ music and the ‘desperate’ lyrical style. Several guest musicians have contributed to this opus injecting some piano, violin, cello and other instruments. The acoustic instruments create a very authentic impression dominated by a deep emotional content. Nos Chants Perdu (“Our Lost Chants”) brings despair (lyrics) and happiness (music) together creating the most accomplished work of Rome to date!

    - Source: www.side-line.com

    For fans of: Triarii, Of the Wand and the Moon, Rose Rovine e Amanti, TriORE.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/romecmi

    8.)Der Arbeiter - "Holzwege"

    Six years after its debut album Reflejos del Sol was released by Divine Comedy, Der Arbeiter is back with a new album inspired and dedicated to the Chilean writer Miguel Serrano. Holzwege contains ten songs that form a balance from neo-folk with Mediterranean influences (for instance: the melodies used for the acoustic guitar parts) to electronic arrangements. This musical blend, along with the melancholic atmosphere, creates a cinematic effect where industrial and ambient martial influences meet electronic folk and passionate acoustic instrumentals. Along with nine original songs, you'll find "Wo Die Wilden Kerle Wohnen ", originally written by Gerhard Hallstatt (of Allerseelen) for the 7" compilation of the same title ("Where The Brutes Dwell" is an ancient Germanic fairy tale and on that 7" and many different bands have recorded their musical version of it).

    The ten songs conceptually inspired by the work of Chilean writer Miguel Serrano, and his conception of Minne ("a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent"). In musical terms, Holzwege is an alchemical mix of electro-folk with a slight Mediterranean taste, which gives it a unique and distinctive sound that moves away from the well known clichés of the neofolk-martial scene. An original and inspiring work, made in Chile, arising from the ruins.

    -Source: www.coldspring.co.uk

    For fans of: Storm of Capricorn, Horologium, Oda Relicta, Le Lendemain, Rukkanor, Medusa’s Spell.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/derarbeiter

    9.)March of Heroes - "Liberation"

    Mit Liberation gebärt uns Romain L. nach einiger Zeit der Stille nun den zweiten Teil der angekündigten Trilogie, welcher den Hörer abermals auf Schlachtfelder von erschreckender Intensität geleitet.

    Mit diesem Rundling geht der Musiker dabei den bereits auf dem Vorwerk eingeschlagenen Weg konsequent weiter, sprich martialische Kost, die da mit allerlei Samples verfeinert wird. Bereits der längere Opener vereint jene Elemente recht gekonnt, was zwar auch auf "Liberation (Part II)" zutrifft, wobei diese Darbietung allerdings eine recht lange und unauffällige Anlaufzeit birgt. Entschädigt wird man dafür mit einer atmosphärischen Tastenmelodie, die noch sehr lange nachhallt. Auffallend auf dem Album ist der mittlerweile recht hohe Anteil an Sprachsamples, der dieses stark prägt, was zwar nicht schlecht sein muss, in vorliegendem Fall aber aufgrund der mitunter langen Darbietungen das Gesamte etwas in die Länge gezogen wirken lässt. Und da wären wir beim Salz in der Suppe.

    Titel wie "Motherland Calls" klingen vielversprechend, vermögen mich aber aufgrund der nicht wirklich variablen Umsetzung kaum auf Dauer zu fesseln. Wenn der Musiker zudem etwas mehr Pepp und vor allem Bombast einbringen würde, wäre das sicherlich schon mal ein guter Ansatz. Somit hat es hier mitunter vielmehr den Anschein, dass das Augenmerk eher auf die Samples, als auf die Musik gelegt wurde. Wenn die Musik dann somit zum schmückenden Beiwerk degradiert wird, begeistert mich das nicht wirklich. Dies verleiht dem Ganzen mitunter einen gar ambienten Charakter, wobei March Of Heroes aber dennoch im Industrial verankert bleiben.

    Am Ende ist Liberation etwas schwächer als das Debüt ausgefallen, erscheint mir dies komplett betrachtet doch schon recht monoton. Die Nähe des Schlachtfelds nur mit Gefechtsgetümmel umzusetzen reicht mir in der heutigen Zeit einfach nicht mehr aus, da gibt es mittlerweile weit bessere Formationen. Man wird sehen, was die Zukunft bringt.

    -Ursprung: www.necroweb.de

    For fans of: Arditi, Pantheon Legio Musica, Arditi, Across the Rubicon, Die Weisse Rose, Phragments. MySpace: www.myspace.com/marchofheroes

    10.)Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat – "Hewers Of Wood and Drawers Of Water"

    You can never judge a book by it's cover and a name like Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat proves it. It sounds like a band with humor and that might actually still be the case but there is nothing funny about their, or actually, his music. Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat is a one man project led by Belgian Stef Irritant, who uses guest musicians on most of his albums. He plays dark and sober folk similar, in style and quality, to Woven Hand. The folk is also mixed with rock, country and even some drone influences.

    Be it clean electrics or acoustics, all the songs are based around vocals and guitar. The songs on this album range from small songs with just guitar and vocals (Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water), to songs that have some percussion added (Harrow) and songs that feature a full band (Taking the Auspices), but don't expect any uptempo folk/rock songs on this album. All the tempo's on this album are slow and sludgy, which is something that really fits the sober mood set by the voice of Stef.

    Lyrically this is very poetic album. Just look at the title, he could have just called it lumberjacks and waterboys. Those poetic lyrics go really well with the hint of moaning and complaint that is always present in the vocals. The style of the vocals isn't typically folk, so don't expect that country twang. Think Woven Hand, a British accent and I even hear a little Killing Joke every now and then.

    Even though most of the songs are based around vocals and guitars, the guitars the aren't very up front in the mix. The production is very based around the mood the songs set and all the instruments have their equal place in it. So when that organ comes in at the end of Harrow you can hear it really well. The vocals are very present in the mix though, but isn't a problem cause his voice sets the mood for a lot of songs. So if you like your folk a bit darker or you are a metalhead who just wants to hear something different, try this record.

    - Source: sputnikmusic.com

    For fans of: Nature and Organisation, Sieben, In Gowan Ring, Sol Invictus, Hexvessel.
    Homepage: www.kraak.net/kattengat
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/kisstheanusofablackcat

    11.)Phelios - "Astral Unity"

    This is the 3rd full length from the German ambient project Phelios and the very first release on the excellent Malignant Records. According to me this label, with its roster has become very representative for qualitative dark ambient music. Astral Unity is a banging piece of ambient music dominated by hard drones. It sounds quite bombastic and the echoing drones are like the foreplay of an apocalypse. We get 7 heavy pieces, which from start on bring the listener into devotion. The drones have been put beneath cold cellar atmospheres, which can become very visual like. “Deadspace” is a very representative track for the visual strength of this opus.

    The “Origin” track is even accentuating the imaginary nightmare vision. This track sounds like a real cataclysm. This is ambient terror! But the real surprise of this album comes at the end. We here are like walking on total new grounds, like discovering an unknown ambient dimension. Just imagine a cool, cold ambient cut being worked out with some kind of acid bleeps on top. This is quite undone, but I can assure you that it works pretty well! I can’t affirm that an entire album in this style would be good, but this way of ending the album took me by surprise! Phelios is one more band to discover on Malignant Records!

    - Source: www.side-line.com

    For fans of: Verhören, Svartsinn, Kammarheit, New Risen Throne, Inade, False Mirror, Terra Sancta, Vestigial.
    Homepage: www.phelios.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/phelios

    12.)Les Fragments De La Nuit - "Demain C'Etait Hier"

    Ombeline Chardes (violin) and Michel Villar (piano) received a very good response after the release of Musique Du Crépuscule in 2008. This French duo gained experience in the writing of soundtrack music, and that’s an explicit element we can find back on Demain, C’Etait Hier (“Tomorrow, It Was Yesterday”).

    Dark cinematographic compositions clearly inspired by neo-classical music invite the listener to join the enigmatic world of this band. The first part is definitely dark and dramatic sounding. “Cyclogenese” therefore reminds me a bit of Sergei Prokofiev, which I think is a rather good reference. The dramatic character progressively evolves towards a more melancholic feeling appearing on “Cyrius B”. This song perfectly reflects their source of inspiration leading us towards the radiance of stars with the dark forces lurking in the night… which brings us again to their band name (The Fragments Of The Night).

    “Soupir” is a noticeable track reminding me of the music from the movies based on the work of Jane Austen (like “Senses And Sensibility”, “Pride and Prejudice”). The global atmosphere finally becomes mystical on “Les Canons Du Ciel”. The mystical touch was accentuated by the chants appearing on this song. I personally preferred the debut CD, but this French band remains an experience in their genre. It will appeal to the fans of the Prikosnovénie label (and Equilibrium Music as well).

    - Source: www.side-line.com

    For fans of: Edo Notarloberti, Luigi Rubino, Ashram, Hexperos, Ataraxia.
    Homepage: www.lesfragmentsdelanuit.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/lesfragmentsdelanuit

    13.)Across the Rubicon - "Who Doesn’t Listen To The Song Will Hear The Storm"

    Ein interessantes Artwort lässt hier auf ein martialisches Feuerwerk ganz in der Tradition des Vorläufers hoffen, und dennoch bleibt man mit dieser Veröffentlichung leider etwas hinter den gesteckten Erwartungen zurück. Mit dem Debüt "Elegy" konnte man mit Across The Rubicon erstmals in der Welt des martialischen Industrial für Aufsehen sorgen. Deftiges Schlagwerk und der entsprechende Bombast waren prägende Elemente des Stils dieser Formation. Seitdem ist die Zeit jedoch nicht stehen geblieben, wie man eben auch an dem neuesten Auswurf "Who Doesn't Listen To The Song, Will Hear The Storm" bemerkt.

    Im Vergleich zu "Elegy" wirkt man spürbar gezähmter, der Bombast wurde etwas zurück geschraubt und auffallend auf diesem Album ist der Sprachgesang, der bei einigen Stücken zum Vorschein kommt. Eine Neuerung in der Stilistik von Across The Rubicon, die dem Ganzen aber auch gar nicht einmal schlecht steht. Ansonsten sind die Zutaten eigentlich die gleichen geblieben, sprich gelegentliche Sprachsamples und eine martialische Grundstimmung mit diversen Beigaben aus dem Bereich der Neoklassik sind es, die das Bild auf "Who Doesn't Listen To The Song, Will Hear The Storm" prägen.

    Bereits beim ersten Durchlauf schaffen es Stücke wie "Glory, Disillusionment And Despair" oder "Here Dead We Lie", sich aus der Masse etwas abzuheben, was mit an der jeweiligen Melodiegebung liegt. Natürlich ist der Gesamteindruck dabei abermals recht bedrohlich und eine musikalische Ähnlichkeit zu Puissance ist da auch durchaus gegeben und nicht von der Hand zu weisen. Trotzdem, am Ende zählt "Who Doesn't Listen To The Song, Will Hear The Storm" zu jener Kategorie von Werken, wo man immer jederzeit denkt, jetzt passiert etwas, nun kommt ein Kracher. Man sollte ja bekanntlich nie die Hoffnung aufgeben, hier wartet man jedoch vergeblich auf einen Höhepunkt. Ansonsten ist der Silberling inhaltlich ein ansprechender Auswurf geworden, der zwar solides Handwerk birgt, aber definitiv nichts Neues oder gar Weiterentwicklung vorweisen kann. Da bleibt nur noch zu hoffen, dass Across The Rubicon in Zukunft nicht den gleichen Fehler wie die einst so mächtigen Puissance machen und komplett an Biss verlieren.

    - Ursprung: www.necroweb.de

    For fans of: Alle Sagen Ja, Argentum, Sturmovik, In Slaughter Natives, Puissance, Kraft Front, Tethrippon, Sophia, Krępulec, L’Effet C’Est Moi.

    14.)Sinweldi - "Acta Fabula Est"

    Hilarious and amusing review:

    Frankreich – ein Land voller Extreme, woher Albert Sinweldi , der Europagegner, Nationalist, Vichy Getreue und Musiker stammt, welcher mit Acta Fabula Est eine außergewöhnliche Vereini- gung aus Martial Pop, Rock & (Cold) Wave beschert, die von der ersten bis zur letzten Sekunde “zündet“!

    Experten wie Albert Sinweldi finden sich natürlich auf Manufakturen wie SkullLine wieder, deren Anspruch nicht daran liegt den Political Correctnes Preis einzuheimsen, sondern adäquate Musik für eine stetig wachsende Fangemeinde aufzulegen, weshalb “Acta Fabula Est” in einer (“Groß”-) Auflage von 150 Exemplaren das Licht der Welt erblickt.

    Über den Inhalt von Acta Fabula möchte man am Liebsten die Augen verschließen, aber der stolze Franzose bewegt sich derart weit ab der Mitte & setzt dem unbedeutenden Schriftsteller & Journalist Robert Brasillach (1909 – 1945), der sich als Verräter am französischen Vaterland einen Namen machte & dafür (zu Recht!) Exekution fand, ein Denkmal, das es jedem halbwegs geschichtsbewußten Menschen die Zornesröte ins Gesicht treibt!

    Ja, und dann wäre da noch der Titel Acta Fabula Est, der wörtlich “Das Geschehene ist eine Fabel” bedeutet und wie folgt Auslegung findet: “Vorbei ist vorbei” – Herr Albert Sinweldi täte gut daran nicht Geschichtsverklärung (in Form von unangebrachter Heldenverehrung) zu betreiben, sondern die Realität zu blicken, wo unter dem Strich ausschließlich negative Punkte beim Rückblick auf das dunkelste Kapitel der Deutschen Geschichte bleiben.

    Gegenüber dem untragbaren Inhalt steht eine musikalische Glanzleistung, die Cold Wave der Marke Clair Obscur mit Rock Identitario a la 270bis verknüpft, woraus sich einige tanzbare Passagen ergeben, welche das Geschehen dominieren & durch den Einsatz von zum Teil (bestimmt) strittigen Tonsamples Akzentuierung findet. Gefallen mag, dass Albert Sinweldi einige Frauenstimmen (Agnese P. & Letzte Ausfahrt Leben) integrierte, die dem “Ganzen” einen besonderen Charme verleihen (und für totale Vereinnahmung sorgen).

    Innerhalb des musikalischen (hier liegt die Betonung) Gesamtkunstwerks existieren eigentlich nur Anspieltipps, woraus vor allem die Tracks ‘Der Mensch ist nur ein Tier (feat. Letzte Ausfahrt Leben)’, ‘Europe Jeunesse Revolution’ & ‘Honneur’ hervorstechen, wo Albert Sinweldi entweder die Gitarre auspackt oder Frauen (mit ihrem Gesang) ins Spiel kommen!

    Fazit: Musikalisch brillant, hingegen inhaltlich untragbar, dürfte die richtige Beschreibung von “Acta Fabula Est” von Albert Sinweldi sein, der in seinen Kreisen bestimmt auf großen Anklang stößt, aber ansonsten definitiv keine Rolle spielt!

    - Ursprung: kulturterrorismus.de

    For fans of: Front Sonore, Nebel, Letzte Ausfahrt, Barbarossa Umtrunk, Eternity, Craft, Ante Bellum, Militia Dei, The Days of the Trumpet Call.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/sinweldi

    15.)Nebelkorona - "Tannenhochforst"

    Nebelkorona releases Tannenhochforst four years after their last album the rather lengly titled Reminiszenzen An Das Morgenrot / Relikte Des Abendrotes. The seven tracks on offer here add up to 41 minutes of deeply emotional neo folk that ranges from romantic music to dramatic lamentations. Tannenhochforst is a perfect, dark and wintry album for the fans of nostalgic neofolk music.

    The album opens with "Morgenstunden", a touching ballad that begins with a clean, painful melody and a warm, comforting singing. The music is bittersweet and filled with a notion of nostalgia that will grow as the album progresses. The third track, "Sonnenhall" manifests this sense of nostalgia with a sorrowful piano playing, darker vocals and dramatic atmosphere. "Dezemberabend", the fourth track, finds them returning to the mellow and touching music they had opened the album with. Next up is "Waldzauber", which is even more laid back, yet sinister sounding track. The album maintains this emotional turmoil throughout, which keeps the album very dramatic without tiring the listeners.

    Fans of romantic Neo folk will find this album a gem that should not be missed. Tannenhochforst should easily please those who look for a mellow music that hides a sting within it.

    - Source: www.musiquemachine.com

    For fans of: Vannvidd, A Cloud in Circle, Wojnar, Artesia, Nachtreich, Frozenthia Depresis, Birch Book, Nhor, Procer Veneficus.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/nebelkoronaofficial

    16.)Nihil Novi Sub Sole - "Jupiter Temple"

    This is a martial industrial act and a solo project of Marco Kehren singer and guitarist of the now disbanded Dutch depressive doomsters Deinonychus. With a name like Jupiter Temple and the Latin name of the band this is a history lesson that should take you back to Rome, a place where wars were frequent and bloody and the Emperors/dictators in the extreme. However, as I look into things and the varied samples suggest, this is not all about one fixed period of time but it’s “conceptually built around the terror and fear men had to suffer during many wars.”

    Chorals and sombre tones and Teutonic samples lead us into the depressing sound of sorrowful “Nihil Novi Sub Sole,” the drum beat rattles in a military two-step and this slow march if anything resembles a walk to the gallows. Having been in Bethlehem, Marco is well versed in injecting suicidal pathos into his music and this is no exception, there is little in the way of jubilation here, only loss. “To Enslave And Destroy’” is quick to emphasize this with crying greeting the harsh tones of the music, which is restrained to a slow delivery and sounds like the musical equivalent one may expect from incarceration in a Nazi death camp. At times this is quite like a soundtrack, although I can hardly imagine it being for a particularly pleasant movie as track titles like “Walking Over Mother Disease” illustrate. Horns play a part here and with their mourning tone herald the destruction of nations and the crumbling of empires. The drumming may also have picked up a pace but this is still very bleak stuff indeed.

    It’s only on this listen without any distraction that I realized just how depressing this is, the atmosphere it dramatically purports is really evocative. This is not music to suggest to someone who is looking for a quick pick me up as it effortlessly flows around the spirits of the dead, the hopelessness of war and the misery of the multitudes affected by it. If you’re looking for something poignant and unsettling this certainly hits the mark. Once this finishes it kind of demands a two minute silence to reflect on what you have just listened to and if you have one handy, laying a wreath in honor of the war dead in front of the stereo is not exactly a preposterous idea.

    - Source: www.metalteamuk.net

    For fans of: Signa Inferre, Liyr, Ierophania, Sturmast, Kulturkrieg, Ryr, Die Macht, Bunkergeist, Fasci Di Combattimento.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/nihilnovisubsoleofficial

    17.)Atomtrakt - "Sperrstelle Nordost"

    Two years after the highly acclaimed Nuklearchetyp album the mighty Atomtrakt are finally back with a new release which is entitled Sperrstelle Nordost. Without exaggerating, this new opus will set new standards in the Apocalyptic / Martial Industrial scene: Words like “bombastic”, “martial”, “heroic” or “militant” definitely need to be re-defined. The atmosphere of Sperrstelle Nordost is threatening and cold. It leads the listener back to times of war (WW II and Cold War) and truly hits like an atomic bomb. Cold, heroic and atmospheric synthesizer layers are mixed with bombastic drums and military war-like rhythm patterns. The vocals on the new record vary from dark and clean to distorted and threatening. Sperrstelle Nordost is a conceptual album dealing with the situation of Switzerland in the 2nd world war / cold war. “Sperrstelle Nordost” is an area in Switzerland which was of national importance for the entire country during times of war.

    The overall sound of the album is powerful and quite bombastic – it spreads a superior and mighty atmosphere rarely heard before. The lyrics deal with fears, death, decay and ambiguity. When listening to this sophisticated album, you can find yourself at the border fighting for your country. The album itself never gets boring. This is due to the variety of songs and themes. The sporadic use of acoustic guitars sounds very interesting and even brings the songs to another level. The last track of the album (“Trauermarsch”) has a pretty psychedelic touch and sounds like soldiers walking through deserted and snow-covered battlefields.

    - Source: www.steinklang-records.at

    For fans of: Westwind, Larrnakh, Arbeit, Cold Fusion, Ghosts of Breslau, Karjalan Sissit, Atrium Carceri, All Hail The Transcending Ghost, Ich Hatt’ Einen Kameraden.
    Homepage: www.atomtrakt.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/atomtraktofficial

    18.)Dead Man’s Hill - "Spirits"

    Bart Piette continues to appears to be the Belgian reincarnation of In Slaughter Natives. I’m always a bit skeptical when projects start to be prolific, which often leads them into poorly inspired releases. Dead Man’s Hill seems to be an exception to the rule and the latest album even confirms a growing maturity in writing. I especially noticed some evolution in sound on Spirits.

    The main source of influence appears to be In Slaughter Natives, and a handful of other similar bands. There are several similarities in the symphonic sound, arrangements and use of chants. The chants are like a sacred choir, which often sounds like an extra instrument rather than real vocals. All elements together give birth to a quite bombastic and sometimes cinematographic style. On tracks like “And The Spirits Of Nature”, “Traveling With The Spirits” and “The Curse II” Bart Piette demonstrates all his exceptional writing skills.

    The compositions are elaborated and achieve numerous crescendos until gaining an apocalyptic climax. Electronics, guitar parts, chants and some vocals by Bart Piette melt together in a very efficient dark ambient and doom-industrial opus. The addition of real vocals has become a kind of trademark for this project and even if I wasn’t always that convinced I know have to admit it all sounds in harmony with the overall production.

    - Source: www.side-line.com

    For fans of: Toroidh, Bleiburg, Kazeria, The Protagonist, Wappenbund, Stahlwerk 9, H.E.R.R., Pimentola, Deutsch Nepal.
    Homepage: www.bugscrawlingoutofpeople.com/deadmanshill/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/deadmanshill

    19.)Dementia Ad Vitam - "De Gaïa, Le Poison ..."

    Dementia Ad Vitam, "madness for life" or "eternal lunacy" in Latin, is a French unheralded dark neoclassical band that plays a deeply spiritual and overall beautiful music; easily the closest thing to the mighty Elend's creation this reviewer remembers hearing. Not as unsettling and nerve-wracking as Elend's early recordings, but nonetheless esoteric, ethereal and brooding. Dementia Ad Vitam's music is much more personal, subdued and intimate: it leans heavily on piano interludes, violins and acoustic guitars; the vocalist's shrieks are kept to a minimum, but when he wakes up from his dormant half-whispered vocal treatment, his voice transforms into something not quite human, a creature from the pits of hell itself. But these moments are rare on this recording.

    Most of the time the drama is minimal, insidiously tranquil and malevolently quiet. The musical plot juggles between chamber music, quasi-classical minimalism and martial grandeur, pushed forward by militaristic rhythms: it lulls you, it disturbs you, it fascinates you; it does all these simultaneously. Anyone into quality neoclassical, martial-industrial or neofolk music, tinged with a bit of metal and a touch of electronica, would be a fool not to pick this modern masterpiece up. Remember, "De Gaia, le Poison..."! Indeed, a poison you'd want to inject into your rotten blood vessels again and yet again...

    - Source: www.chroniclesofchaos.com

    For fans of: Heaven Falls Hard, YWOLF, Autumn Tales, Devs in Vtervs, Momentum Mortis.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/dementiaadvitamband

    20.)Haus Arafna - "You"

    It has been a few years since the last Haus Arafna album was released. "Butterfly" was released in 2003. This album showed a shift from more old school power electronics to more evident classic minimal electronics. Now seven years later "You" is released. At first listening the album felt to me like shifted more towards a contemporary November Növelet sound. But I was mistaken... very much...

    While November Növelet has gone synth pop in a very cold and dark way, Haus Arafna goes (again) for full terror impact on all your senses. Opening tracks 'Pain To Love' and 'You Don't Believe Me' maybe sound a bit like the side project November Növelet but then 'You' and 'Judas Kiss' are making sure you know what you are listening to.

    These tracks and also a piece like 'Colony Colapse' are absolute there to attack your nerve system. Throbbing, ultra dark, aggressive electronic pulses are aimed at your brain and body with success. Haus Arafna is one of the few music projects around that really knows how to combine interesting sound sculptures with music that really touches you... or maybe hurts you... anyway if this music does not do anything with you... well... you must be dead already...

    Some other tracks are disturbing due to their moody, desolate and misanthrophic feeling that surrounds you while listening. For example 'Today You Died' and 'Lucifer' are truly haunting pieces of electronic music. A masterpiece of sonic terror!!

    - Source: www.enfant-terrible.nl

    For fans of: November Növelet, Karl Runau, Brighter Death Now, Genocide Organ, Maska Genetik, Rasthof Dachau, Herz Jühning.
    Homepage: www.hausarafna.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/hausarafna

    And now...

    Ante Bellum - Siglo XIX
    Apoptose - Bannwald
    Arditi & Signa Inferre - Statues Of Gods / Invictis Victi
    Area Bombardment - In Hoc Signo Vinces
    Argine - Umori d'autunno (Il filo spinato e le bolle di sapone)
    Art of Empathy - Posthuman Decadence
    Asbaar - Corona Veli Aurei
    Awen - The Bells Before Dawn
    Bad Sector - Quaternion
    Barbarossa Umtrunk - Agharti
    Barbarossa Umtrunk - Wehrwolf Dharma
    Birch Book - Tomorrow's Sun Will Rise The Same
    Blood Axis - Born Again
    Brendan Perry - Ark
    Caerule Sanguis - Facing Infinity Without Flinching
    Cult of Youth - Filthy Plumage In An Open Sea!
    Current 93 - Baalstorm, Sing Omega
    Dathura Suavolens - Averni
    Death in June - Peaceful Snow
    Dernière Volonté - Immortel
    Dopedrone - Apokalupsis Eschaton
    Drakh - Bethlehem
    Duo Noir - Sintra
    Einstürzende Neubauten - Strategies Against Architecture IV - 2002-2010
    Eldar - Amesha Spentas
    False Mirror - Derelict World
    Fasci Di Combatimento & Dunkel Aesthetics - Der Krieg und Die Kameradschaft (2010)
    Flores Funebres - A moment before nothingness
    Forgotten Backyard - Cerulean Wasteland
    Forgotten Backyard - La Nuit Eternelle
    Fräkmündt - Urbarglieder
    Goatvargr - Black Snow Epoch
    Golgatha - Lovesongs From The Waste Land
    Gnomonclast - Tempus Null
    K100 - The Vault Of Apparitions
    Kammerflimmer Kollektief - Wildling
    Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat - Hewers Of Wood And Drawers Of Water
    Kraft Front - Hammer Metaphysics of War
    Larrnakh - Now Will You Believe?
    Le Silence des Ruines - Le Silence des Ruines
    Le Testament De La Lumière - Echoes Out of Time
    Leger Des Heils - Ueber Liebe Leben Und Tod
    Liyr - Fragments of Dust
    Luftwaffe - Ere I Perish
    Lycia - Fifth Sun
    Max Richter - Infra
    Moon Far Away - Minnesang
    Nest (UK) - Retold
    Non Dolet - Inner
    Nordvargr - Resignation 2
    Obereit - Сказки на Ночь
    Oda Relicta - Holy Alliance
    Of the Wand & the Moon - It's Like Dying On Christmas Day (2010) EP
    Ólafur Arnalds - ...And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness
    OPERA MULTI STEEL - La Legende Dorée
    Orchestra Noir - What If...
    Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio - Songs 4 Hate And Devotion
    Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio - Do Angels Never Cry And Heaven Never Fall EP
    Pale Roses - Fear Of Dawn
    Peter Andersson - Sculpturing Time Fragments
    Phaenon - His Master's Voice
    Phragments & Korinth - Mysteries Of The Greylands
    Post Scriptvm - Grey Eminence
    Profane Grace - Nocturnal Omniscience
    Scarlet Youth - Goodbye Doesn't Mean I'm Gone
    Schattenspiel - Schattenkrieger
    Schattenspiel & Barbarossa Umtrunk - La Couronne De Glace
    Sect - Babylon Rising
    Simulacra - There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood
    Skalpell - Nothing Important to Tell So Far
    Sonne Hagal - Läuthner 2a
    Spreu & Weizen (Official) - Gott erhalt's!
    Stein - Haldor (2010)
    Stormfågel - Eldvakt
    Striider - Ostfront (2010) EP
    Striider - Krieg II (2010)
    Striider & Strydwolf - Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum (2010)
    Sub Luna - Awake!
    Svalbard - Heimkunft
    The Third Eye Foundation - The Dark
    Tholen - Neuropol
    Troika - A White Rose For Eternity
    Truart - Ich Glaube Das Nicht!
    Voder - Fields
    Von Thronstahl - Conscriptum
    Westwind - Eliminate! Exterminate! Eradicate!
    Woodland Choir - Serenity Rise

    Fin ~*

  • + BEST IN HEAVY METAL - 2010 +

    Abr 21 2011, 2h34

    After much pestering, I've relented. Hope you folks are happy. Here is my Best In Heavy Metal 2010 list.

    Those of you who are actually interested, feel free to comment, criticize, and suggest any albums that you may have heard that I might have missed in any of the heavy metal or hard rock genres. Also, feel free to post your Best of 2010 lists. There are so many things out there these days, that I know I missed a great multitude of things.

    I'm open to any listening suggestions!

    Also, if you are interested in other genres of music aside from those covered in this journal, feel free to visit my other journal entries covering the Best of Neofolk / Martial / Neoclassical / Etc.(link) and Indie / Misc. (link) in 2010.

    Enjoy! :-]

    + Best In Heavy Metal +

    1.)Ascension - "Consolamentum"

    Great debut!

    Ascension’s debut release with Consolamentum proved to be an absolute megalith of orthodox mastery, and after much deliberation, my favorite heavy metal release of 2010. With alleged ties to black metal neogods Katharsis, Ascension certainly exceeded my expectations, which were relatively moderate following their modest and somewhat restrained EP Fire and Faith. The production on the record is perfect, and the musicianship exemplary. With Consolamentum, Ascension were able to capture an unmistakably occult and ritualistic ambiance that provided the foundation for their chaotic maelstrom that is as innovative as it is brilliant. This record is highly addictive, and if you get your hands on the LP vinyl edition, the packing is absolutely first-rate. Get it.

    For fans of: Katharsis, Negative Plane, Dødsengel, Flagellant, Deathspell Omega, Chaos Invocation, Necros Christos.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/gatewaystoascension

    2.)Deathspell Omega - "Paracletus"

    Paracletus is arguably the crowning achievement to date in the blackened catalogue and trailblazing career of what is perhaps the most complex and experimental artist in the entire genre. This release, like all of their essential albums, is as challenging and rewarding of a listen as anything they've recorded prior. Deathspell Omega is not a band that suffers from stagnation as they continue to push the boundaries of black metal further, and as per usual, do not disappoint. Well done.

    For fans of: Clandestine Blaze, Funeral Mist, Blut aus Nord, Katharsis, Antaeus, S.V.E.S.T., Glorior Belli.
    Homepage: http://www.cfprod.com/nh
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/deathspellomega

    3.)Lantlôs - ".neon "

    Admittedly, I am not a fan of the current trend toward “post-black metal / shoegaze-black metal” or any of the other sub-genre monikers that might apply to the utter deluge of bands that have surfaced following the success of Alcest. Nevertheless, while I may not be the most adamant fan of the sub-genre, I seem to enjoy most of the projects that involve Neige, one of the innovator’s to the sound of the aforementioned genre that many refer to as post-black metal. In what I believe is a giant leap forward from their self-titled debut, Lantlôs not only matured as musicians, but the minimalist and dark subliminal urgency they caputred on .neon already anoints it as a classic in what is becoming a cluttered sub-genre of pretenders.

    For fans of: Heretoir, Alcest, Les Discrets, Amesoeurs, Líam.
    Homepage: www.lantlos.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/lantlos

    4.)Flagellant - "Monuments"

    Great debut!

    There really isn’t anything extraordinary about Monuments, the debut release from Sweden’s blasphemous ensemble Flagellant. If you’re even remotely familiar at all with Swedish black metal, then you won’t be surprised by anything here. So, why is Monuments placed so highly on my list? Quite frankly, because it just fucking shreds and because I probably spun it more than any other black metal release from 2010. Fun stuff.

    For fans of: Acrimonious, Ocrivus, Paragon Impure, Chaos Omen, Malign, Christicide.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/flagellant

    5.)Enslaved – “Axioma Ethica Odini”

    Hard to believe that Axioma Ethica Odini is the eleventh full-length release in Enslaved renowned library of outstanding and essential albums. Few bands are as absolutely relevant and habitually triumphant with each consecutive release as Enslaved are, so it should come as no surprise that they are here in my countdown.

    For fans of: Primordial, Drudkh, Borknagar, Negură Bunget, Emperor.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/enslaved

    6.)Adamus Exul - "Death, Paint a Vision"

    Great debut!

    Death, Paint a Vision is just devastatingly first-rate Aussie black metal, cut from the same depraved cloth as Deströyer 666, and New Zealand’s Anno Domini Mortus. With only a monolith debut release under the belts, Adamus Exul have set the blackened pulse by which the rest of their work will be measured, and it’s going to be rough topping this exceptionally unforgiving maelstrom of misanthropic black metal.

    For fans of: Order of Orias, Iciclan, Deströyer 666, Internal Harvest, Impiety.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/exul

    7.)Watain - "Lawless Darkness"

    The backlash had already begun well over a year ago in the black metal underground, and really, Watain have no one to blame but themselves. They have quickly become the darlings and whores of the black metal scene, appearing on the covers of virtually every metal rag on the newsstand and finding their way into the listening rotations of hipsters and hard-rock fans alike. What does this mean for the band? Fuck all if I know. What I do know is that if they continue to belch forth the addictive blackened methamphetamine that is their sonic disposition, then as with their superb Lawless Darkness album, I’ll be supporting their belligerent quest for Satanic stardom even if it lands them on the cover of Esquire magazine.

    For fans of: Dissection, Funeral Mist, Ondskapt, Ofermod, Antaeus.
    Homepage: www.templeofwatain.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/watainofficial

    8.)Aldaaron - "Nous Reviendrons Immortels"

    Great debut!

    The French black metal scene has historically been abundant with skilled black metal bands, many of whom have carved out their own insidious and unique niche within a relatively limiting genre of heavy metal. With only their debut release, Aldaaron are poised to join their French brethren in this regard as Nous Reviendrons Immortels is a nihilistic and yet piously black force to be reckoned with. With any luck, the best is yet to come from Aldaaron.

    For fans of: Kratein, Mourning Forest, Nefarium, Sorgeldom, Les Chants de Nihil, Black Sin.
    Homepage: www.aldaaron.fr
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/aldaaron

    9.)Tristwood - "Dystopia et Disturbia"

    Hailing from glorious Tyrol, Tristwood’s Dystopia et Disturbia provided us with an industrial hailstorm of blackened wails and unrelenting riffs coalescing with a death metal intensity that would find itself at home in the company industrial black metal’s finest counterparts, Aborym and Blacklodge. Those listeners out there who enjoy the infusion of harsh industrial into blackened metal mayhem should give the newest Tristwood a listen.

    For fans of: Blacklodge, Noctiferia, Svart Crown, Mitochondrion, December Wolves, Mechina.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/tristwood

    10.)Defeated Sanity – "Chapters Of Repugnance"

    Defeated Sanity’s Chapters Of Repugnance was almost certainly the finest and most unrelenting release I heard in 2010. Absolutely abrasive and technically brilliant, it raised the bar for brutal death metal with a razorblade hurricane of pounding riffs sounding like a jazz-infused and absolutely diabolical sonic amalgamation of Gorguts and Devourment. Truly, this is some killer shit.

    For fans of: Disgorge, Malignancy, Spawn of Possession, Deeds of Flesh, Suffocation.
    Homepage: www.defeated-sanity.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/defeatedsanity

    11.)Alcest - "Écailles de Lune"

    Brooding, forebodingly depressive and melancholic, yet relinquishing an absolutely blissful descent into the bleak ethereal darkness of night, Écailles de Lune is a definitive success. Suffice to say, due to my own bias, and possibly because of the enormity of mediocre post-black metal I stumbled upon in 2010, I burned out on this release relatively quickly. In a way, at least for me, Alcest are a victim of their own success. That said, Écailles de Lune is sure to make a significant return to my listening habits as it’s simply too fine of a record to ignore.

    For fans of: Agalloch, Austere, ColdWorld, Dornenreich, Hypomanie, Altar of Plagues, Soliness, Dernier Martyr.
    Homepage: www.alcest-music.com[/ur]

    12.)Forteresse - "Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines"

    The bleak Canadian expanse of Northern plains provides the dark setting for Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines, the most accomplished Forteresse release to date. A primeval elegy comprised of the despondency of solitude and the emptiness of the wide-open are the titular themes on what is clearly an accomplished audible excursion into isolation and the starkness of nature. Forteresse realize this by coalescing the transient overtones of wraithlike guitars, murky synth of a distinctly ambient nature and a minimalist percussion that lulls you into the slow, ebbing proclivity of loneliness that together to creates what you will hear throughout Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines. Haunting, and essential.

    For fans of: Wolves in the Throne Room, Urfaust, Walknut, Sui Caedere, Neige et Noirceur.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/forteresse

    13.)Impaled Nazarene - "Road To The Octagon"


    For fans of: Arghoslent, Desaster, Immortal, Tsjuder, Revenge, Von, Luctus, Barathrum, Beherit.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/impalednazarene

    14.)Sargeist - "Let The Devil In"


    "I invert the cross of hope
    And dwell in black despair
    Every moment of every day
    I'm blasphemy incarnate"

    Having been a fan of Sargeist for years, I did not expect the Finnish black legion to top any of the prior diabolical gems from their discography such as Satanic Black Devotion or the superb Discipline Of The Heinous Path. However, that’s exactly what they did with Let The Devil In – a blackened tome of mournful tremolo melodies, mid-paced and somber riffs that give way to shredding walls of spiteful guitars and leaving no room for any filler whatsoever on the entire release. Simply put, this is black metal done right, and without doubt Sargeist’s most complete album to date. Get it.

    For fans of: Horna, Isvind, Malfeitor, Graven, Eternity, Craft, Behexen, Inquisition, Judas Iscariot.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/sargeist

    15.)Witchrist - "Beheaded Ouroboros"

    Great debut!

    Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, and with their first proper full-length album Beheaded Ouroboros laying waste to listeners the world over, Witchrist are representing their country well within the underground metal community. Their sound is indicative of an merciless monolith of early Bolt Thrower and Incantation churning in vile unison with militant black metal resulting in an exceptionally complex cacophony of crushing sound and an overwhelmingly evil atmosphere. Highly recommended.

    For fans of: Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Mitochondrion, Incantation, Angel Corpse, Ash Borer, Sadistik Exekution, Order From Chaos, Denouncement Pyre.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/katharsis66

    16.)Darvulia - "Mysticisme Macabre"

    Darvulia, even for the most erudite of black metal connoisseurs, is certainly an acquired taste. Mysticisme Macabre represents the minimalist embodiment of everything black metal should be: a shredding cyclone of sonic subjugation, the cold embodiment of suffering and death, and also entirely disturbing in the most unique and distinctive manner. Excellent release from these French bastards.

    For fans of: Insane Vesper, Avsky, Rebirth of Nefast, Voqkrre, Drastus, Sanctus Nex, Matricide.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/darvuliaofficial

    17.)Severe Torture - "Slaughtered"

    'Credulous mother of divine incest
    Lavish praise for the whore of gods
    Unfold your legs of deceit, receive my mutilation...'

    Dutch. Fucking. Death Metal. Severe Torture are among the minority of quality death merchants that are keeping the bludgeoning method pioneered by Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, and Sinister alive and well. To be sure, you’ll be hard pressed to find any deviation on Slaughtered from the bands previous albums, and that is a positive thing. Over the years, Severe Torture has solidified its reputation was one of the best death metal bands in the entire genre, and Slaughtered is among the finest representations of pure death metal recorded in the last five years. Get Slaughtered asap!

    For fans of: Blasphemophagher, Incantation, Dead Congregation, Dismember, Abscess, Drawn and Quartered.
    Homepage: www.severetorture.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/severetorture

    18.)Black Breath - "Heavy Breathing"

    Great debut!

    Normally, I’m not a fan of these types of crossover / hybrid bands, especially if their influences lead me into the land of the and genres. Yet, Black Breath is not a simple band to categorize stylistically. So, why did I check out Heavy Breathing you ask? Well, it would be a lie to say that their Pacific Northwest roots didn’t have something to do with it, but having heard a handful of random tracks, I gave their record a spin and was fucking floored. The stylistic variation, part unremitting hardcore and crust infused riffs, part Motörhead worship, and part early thrash or death metal, emblematic of artists like Possessed and Dark Angel had me hooked, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to Heavy Breathing ever since. This venomous and absolutely intense album comes highly recommended, and if anything, it may persuade me to delve into unfamiliar areas musically that I normally would tread.

    For fans of: Nails, Cursed, Iron Age, Mammoth Grinder, All Pigs Must Die, Burning Love.
    Homepage: www.myspace.com/blackbreath

    19.)Father Befouled - "Father Befouled - Morbid Destitution of Covenant"

    As a huge worshipper of death metal gods Incantation, the inclusion of this release on my countdown shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that knows me. That said, it was particularly difficult trying to decide upon either Father Befouled, Encoffination, or Vasaeleth for this spot in my list. Each band released quality records of an exceptionally brutal disposition in 2010, however, I settled upon Morbid Destitution of Covenant purely because I spun it more than the others. There seems to be an inundation of Incantation-worshiping old school death metal acts surfacing as of late, and Father Befouled, outside of the aforementioned bands including Burial Invocation and Decrepitaph are among the finest of the lot. Excellent release.

    For fans of: Prosanctus Inferi, Ignivomous, Cruciamentum, Nocturnal Blood, Funebrarum.
    Homepage: www.fatherbefouled.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/fatherbefouled

    20.)Blood of Kingu - "Sun in the House of the Scorpion"

    Roman Saenko is a talented fellow. Along with fellow bandmate Thurios, Saenko lends his talents to not only Blood of Kingu, but also Drudkh and Dark Ages as well. He also was a founding member of Ukrainian legends Hate Forest. With a pedigree as malevolent and impressive as that, you expect greatness, and Saenko delivered with Sun in the House of the Scorpion, which was easily among the best black metal releases of 2010. Rather than fester in the shadows of his more successful and well known projects, Saenko produced some of his best work to date under the Blood of Kingu banner, and if you’re a fan of black metal at all, you should check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

    For fans of: Hate Forest, Astrofaes, Wodensthrone, Walknut, Nightbringer, Dark Ages, Drudkh.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/bloodofkinguband

    And now...

    1349 - Demonoir
    A Forest of Stars - Opportunistic Thieves of Spring
    Abigor - Time Is the Sulphur In The Veins Of The Saint
    Abominant - Where Demons Dwell
    Aborted - Coronary Reconstruction EP
    Aborym - Psychogrotesque
    Abusiveness - Trioditis
    Adversarial - All Idols Fall Before the Hammer
    Aeon - Path Of Fire
    Agalloch - Marrow of The Spirit
    Alcoholic Rites - Alkomanifesto
    Alunah - Call Of Avernus
    Altar of Plagues - Tides
    Antediluvian - Watchers' Reign
    Anu - Opus Funaerum
    Aosoth & VI - Angels Falling Down - Split
    Arfsynd - Arfsynd
    Arts - Vault Of Heaven
    Ascension - Fire and Faith EP
    Atheist - Jupiter
    Atlantean Kodex - The Golden Bough
    Autopsy - The Tomb Within EP
    Avsky - Scorn (late '09)
    Bahal - Ikelos
    Bahrrecht - Lotharingen (demo)
    Baptism - Chalice of Death EP
    Barathrum & Epäkristus - Unholy Conspiracy
    Begrime Exemious - Impending Funeral Of Man
    Behemoth - Evangelia Heretika
    Bethlehem - Stönkfitzchen
    Black Anvil - Triumvirate (2010)
    Blacklodge - T-ME [3rd Level Initiation = Chamber of Downfall]
    Black Funeral - Vukolak
    Black Priest of Satan - We, As Shadows Of Satan
    Black Witchery - Inferno Of Sacred Destruction
    Blasphemophagher - ...For Chaos, Obscurity and Desolation...
    Blaze of Perdition - Towards the Blaze of Perdition
    Blasphemer (Ita) - Devouring Deception
    Blind Guardian - At The Edge Of Time
    Blood of the Black Owl - A Banishing Ritual
    Blood Revolt - Indoctrine by Gun
    Borgne - Entraves De L'Âme
    Blut aus Nord - What Once Was... Liber I
    Briton Rites - For Mircalla
    Burial Invocation - Rituals Of The Grotesque EP
    Butterfly Temple - Earth
    Cardiac Arrest - Haven For The Insane
    Cathedral - The Guessing Game
    Cavus - Fester and Putrefy
    Cebren-Khal - A Mass Of Despair
    Cenotaph (Tur) - Putrescent Infectious Rabidity
    Cerebral Effusion - Impulsive Psychopathic Acts
    Clandestine Blaze - Falling Monuments
    Condor - Facing The First Winter (demo)
    Countess - Burning Scripture
    Cough - Ritual Abuse
    Cruel Force - The Rise of Satanic Might
    Cuntworm - The Inhuman Condition
    Dantalion - All Roads Lead To Death
    Danzig - Deth Red Sabaoth
    Dark Fortress - Ylem
    Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons
    Decrepit Birth - Polarity
    Deströyer 666 - To The Devil His Due
    Deströyer 666 - See You in Hell EP
    Detritivore - Pakt
    Diocletian - War of All Against All
    Dødsengel- Alongside Choronzon
    Dødsengel - Ecstatic Horror
    Dødsengel - Mirium Occultum
    Dordeduh - Valea Omului EP
    Dragonauta - Cruz Invertida
    Draugnim - Horizons Low
    Drudkh - Handful of Stars
    Ea - Au Ellai
    Eastern Front - Blood On Snow
    Electric Wizard - Black Masses
    Encoffination - Seventh Temple Of Laodicean Scripture EP
    Encoffination - Ritual Ascension Beyond Flesh
    Erazor - Erazor
    Evocation - Apocalyptic
    Evoken & Beneath the Frozen Soil (Split)
    Exodus - Exhibit B - The Human Condition
    Fear Factory - Mechanize
    Finntroll - Nifelvind
    Fleshgod Apocalypse - Mafia EP
    Fleshrot - Traumatic Reconfiguration
    Forbidden - Omega Wave
    Force of Darkness - Darkness Revelation
    Furia - Halny
    Gallowbraid - Ashen Eidolon EP
    Ghost - Opus Eponymous
    God Dethroned - Under the Sign of the Iron Cross
    Grand Magus - Hammer of the North
    Graupel - Am Pranger...
    Grave - Burial Ground
    Grave Desecrator - Insult
    Grave Miasma - Realm Of Evoked Doom EP
    Grave Ritual - Euphoric Hymns From The Altar Of Death
    Gravewürm - Blood of the Pentagram
    Heathen - The Evolution Of Chaos
    Helstar - Glory Of Chaos
    Hell Militia - Last Station on the Road to Death
    Hexxed - The Synapse Collision
    Hinsidig - I en Tidløs Høst
    Hooded Menace - Never Cross the Dead
    Hypothermia - Skogens Hjaerta EP
    Immolation - Majesty And Decay
    Incantation - Scapegoat EP
    Inhume - Moulding the Deformed
    Insidious Disease - Shadowcast
    Interment - Into the Crypts of Blasphemy
    Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
    Kältetod - Reue
    Kamelot - Poetry for the Poisoned
    Keep of Kalessin - Reptilian (2010)
    Kerasphorus - Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn
    Körgull The Exterminator - War Of The Voivodes
    L'Impero Delle Ombre - I compagni di Ball
    Lugubre - Supreme Ritual Genocide
    Lutomysl - Lutomysl
    Lykauges - Swan Song
    Mal Etre - Torment
    Malevolent Creation - Invidious Dominion
    Maniac Butcher - Masakr
    Master - The Human Machine
    Melechesh - The Epigenesis
    Mitochondrion & Gyibaaw - Rituals Of Transcendence / Liimk Halaayt
    Mortifera - Maledictiih
    Mourning Forest - De la Vermine
    Musta Kappeli - Ei Valoa Tähän Kammioon
    Mutant Supremacy - Infinite Suffering
    Nazxul - Quickener Of The Dead EP
    Nefarium - Ad Discipulum
    Negura Bunget - Vîrstele Pamîntului
    Nekromantheon - Divinity Of Death
    Northern Oak - Monuments
    Nox Illunis - In Sideris Penumbra
    Nuclear Warfare (Deu) - God of Aggression
    Nyseius - Militiae
    Occultus - Inthial
    October Falls - A Collapse Of Faith
    October Tide - A Thin Shell
    Occultus - Inthial
    Ondskapt - Arisen From The Ashes
    Orator - Dominion of Avyaktam EP
    Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
    Overkill - Ironbound
    Pallbearer 2010 Demo
    Permixtio - Il Canto Dei Sepolcri
    Perpetual Warfare - Justicia, Libertad y Decadencia
    Pestifier - Age of Disgrace
    Phlegethon - Drifting in the Crypt
    Photophobia - Humana Fragilitas
    Preludium - Impending Hostility
    Perdition Temple - Edict of the Antichrist Elect
    Plague Angel - Stagnation of Christ
    Procession - Destroyers Of The Faith
    Profanatica - Disgusting Blasphemies Against God
    Profanatica - The Years Of Pestilence EP
    Prosanctus Inferi - Pandemonic Ululations of Vesperic Palpitation
    Ragnarok - Collectors Of The King
    Rotting Christ - Aealo
    Sael - The Sixth Extinction
    Sahg - III
    Samael - Antigod EP
    Satanic Warmaster - Nachzehrer
    Schammasch - Sic Lvceat Lvx
    Sekhmet - Opus Zrůdy
    Sepsism - Distorting The Mortal Visage
    Setherial - Ekpyrosis
    Shape of Despair - Written in My Scars EP
    Shining - Blackjazz
    Sig Ar Tyr - Godsaga
    Sigillum Diabolicum - Chroniques De L'infamie
    Sinister - Legacy Of Ashes
    Skyforger - Kurbads
    Sodom - In War And Pieces
    Sonne Adam - Armed With Hammers
    Spartan Warrior - Behind Closed Eyes
    Sunwheel - Industry of Death
    Supplicium - Magna Atra Missa
    Svart - Förlorad
    Svart Crown - Witnessing The Fall
    Swallowed - Swallowed EP
    Szron - Zeal
    Tank - War Machine
    Thanathron - Thanathron
    The Black - Gorgoni
    The Crown - Doomsday King
    The Foreshadowing - Oionos
    The Grotesquery - Tales of the Coffin Born
    The Howling Void - Shadows Over The Cosmos
    The Howling Wind - Into The Cryosphere
    The Secret - Solve Et Coagula
    Thoth - Zamglenie
    Throes of Dawn - The Great Fleet of Echoes
    Todtgelichter - Angst
    Tormenter - Pulse of Terror
    Total Death (Ita) - Well Of Madness
    Triptykon - Eparistera Daimones
    Tromacide - Rated R For Radiation
    Truppensturm - Salute To The Iron Emperors
    Tumulus Anmatus - Ave Casus Mundi
    Turdus Merula - Herbarium
    Twilight (USA) - Monument To Time End
    Typhus - Grand Molesters of the Holy Trinity
    Ufomammut - Eve
    Unearthly Trance - V
    Unholy Lust - Taste The Sin Through The Fire
    Union Of Sleep - Death In The Place of Rebirth
    Uruk-Hai (Esp) - Archi Catedra Nigra Diaboli
    Valkyrja - Contamination
    Vanhelga - Mortem Illuminate Mea
    Varg - Blutaar
    Vasaeleth - Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin
    Vindicator - The Antique Witcheries
    Violator - Annihilation Process
    Vitsaus - Sielunmessu
    Volcanic Slut - Blasphemaster 7''
    Vollmond - The Crypt Under The Universe
    Vomitor - Devils Poison
    Von Goat - Septic Illumination
    Wardaemonic - Echoes of Ageless Flames
    Weapon - From The Devil's Tomb
    Weltbrand - Control Division
    Wheel - Wheel
    Wicca - Bloodrush
    Winter Funeral - Some Thousand Lies
    Witchaven - Terrorstorm
    Woe - Quietly, Undramatically
    Wolfsmond - III
    Xasthur - Portal Of Sorrow

    Fin ~*
  • + BEST IN HEAVY METAL - 2009

    Abr 1 2010, 2h06

    Well, it's April Fool's Day, and I'm just now getting my Best of 2009 list up. Like last year, there seems to be a trend forming. Anyway, those of you who are actually interested, feel free to comment, criticize, and suggest any albums that you may have heard that I might have missed in any of the heavy metal or hard rock genres.

    I'm open to any listening suggestions!

    Also, if you are interested in other genres of music aside from heavy metal, feel free to visit my Best of 2009 journal entries on Neofolk / Martial / Dark Ambient styles, as well as my entry on Indie / Electronic / Etc.

    Enjoy! :-]

    + Best In Heavy Metal / Hard Rock in 2009 +

    1.)Katatonia - "Night Is The New Day"

    Night Is The New Day is a rather controversial choice for my number one metal album, and in some ways it is out of place. It’s not exactly the most aggressive or original work they have released to date, and it’s clearly evocative of the downcast and utterly dismal sound on their last several records. As an avid Katatonia fan for well over a decade, and Night Is The New Day was without doubt my most listened to metal album of 2009. Renkse and Nyström have been responsible for some of the most despondent, engaging, and absolutely original music in the metal scene since the Jhva Elohim Meth... the Revival EP in 1993. However, their masterly 2009 offering was among their greatest to date. While possessing an ideal and absolutely crystalline production, the material is tremendously addictive and forebodingly memorable. Some of my favorite Katatonia tracks appear on Night Is The New Day, such as “Forsaker,” “The Longest Year,” “Nephilim,” “Liberation,” and “Departer.” Overall, this was an outstanding release from one of my most favorite artists, and I will be spinning it regularly well into 2010.

    For fans of: Swallow the Sun, October Tide, Anathema, My Dying Bride, Novembre, Opeth, Daylight Dies.
    Homepage: http://katatonia.com/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/katatonia

    2.)NDE - "Krieg Blut Ehre Asche"

    Great debut!

    Krieg Blut Ehre Asche is the debut from this strange and unknown Belgian duo. Absolutely chaotic, cruel, and positively cold, NDE achieved a unique smelting of malevolent, deafening Black Metal that coalesces with pounding and anthemic martial drums, which then violently merge with a wretched Death Industrial sound – all in eight acts. It must be heard to be understood. However, Krieg Blut Ehre Asche is not for the faint of heart, yet was easily my favorite debut in the metal genre this year, even if in some ways it isn’t metal at all. Most metal fans won’t get it, won’t like it, and some will even hate it. That’s just fine by me. Cold Spring FTW again.

    For fans of: Blacklodge, Aborym, Folkstorm, Non, Borgia.
    Homepage: http://coldspring.co.uk/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/voidofhatende

    3.)Absu - "Absu"

    Finally, after eight long years, the Cythraul Klan returns! Absu’s self-titled release after such an extended hiatus is an enormous triumph for the band and for the entire metal genre. More reminiscent of the Third Storm of Cythraul than Tara, Absu finds itself balancing a fine line between the schizoid and frenzied riffing found on its predecessor, while rediscovering the mid-paced and keyboard accompanied orchestrations that represented earlier records in their discography. Absu is the type of ancient Egyptian and Sumerian obsessed record where you will find yourself hearing something entirely new and unusual upon each listen. The production lends itself to the brand of frantic and possessed blackened thrash that only Absu is capable of writing, and each track is absolutely incredible. The roll call of guest musicians on the record is also impressive: Ashmedi (Melechesh), Blasphemer (Ex-(Mayhem/(Ava Inferi), David Harbour (Ex-(King Diamond), Michael Harris (Darkology), Mindwalker (The Firstborn), Nornagest (Enthroned), Vorskaath (Zemial) and even Ex-Guitarist/Bassist Equitant makes an appearance. Welcome back.

    For fans of: Deströyer 666, Melechesh, Gospel of the Horns, Abigor, Nifelheim, Razor Of Occam.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/absu

    4.)Nokturnal Mortum – “Голос Сталі”

    Абсолютно фантастичну. Можливо найкраща наша альбом хто група має які я бачив записаний. Блискучий робота!!!! [Basically, it’s very, very fucking good]. That’s all.

    For fans of: Temnozor', Kroda, Drudkh, Hate Forest, Graveland.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/nokturnal-mortum

    5.)Myrkr - "Black Illumination"

    Great debut!

    Unfortunately, this Irish group didn’t stick around for very long. Shortly after the debut of Black Illumination, their first full length album, Myrkr quickly disbanded. However, they left listeners with a scathingly heavy and stripped down black metal maelstrom – one that is blistered and besmirched, teeming with an ominous desperation in its veracity and violence. Every year it seems the occasional black metal band proceeds to shock and entirely exceed my expectations. Myrkr was one of these artists, and Black Illumination turned out to be an Irish indulgence that is essential for exploratory fans of the genre who enjoy a challenging and unforgiving listen.

    For fans of: Glorior Belli, Katharsis, Portal, Slidhr.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/blackillumination

    6.)Anaal Nathrakh - "In The Constellation Of The Black Widow"

    If you aren’t wise to this band by now then you probably shouldn’t be reading this journal entry. As with virtually every Anaal Nathrakh release, every facet of the musicianship found on their newest offering is nearly flawless in delivery, and absolutely chaotic in its sonic production. You should know what this band sounds like - I don’t have to tell you. The only difference on this ’09 effort is that there is more mayhem, more clean vocals, and more Codex Necro-esque black metal riffing going on then what was found on their last couple of releases. It is an implicit certainty that each time these two diabolical British bastards release new material that they will undoubtedly end up in my top ten of the year. With In The Constellation Of The Black Widow, nothing has changed. Anaal Nathrakh’s latest is – like always - an exceptional album and one that every metal fan with any semblance of respectable taste will appreciate.

    For fans of: Aborym, Akercocke, The Axis of Perdition, The Berzerker, Mistress.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/anaalnathrakh

    7.)Austere - "To Lay Like Old Ashes"

    To Lay Like Old Ashes has been the recipient of mixed reviews since its release, but for the duration of 2009 it has been among my most listened to albums. The predominant reason I laud it as one of the best records of the year is that these Aussies were able to achieve a strange balance between a simultaneously crushing and depressive vibe with a oddly uplifting ambiance. Equal parts Bethlehem and Burzum, Austere also found a way to coalesce the bleak hopelessness and tortured wails characteristic of the depressive black metal style with a melodic stirring of clean vocals, a sparse milieu of keyboards, and the crushing tome of inevitable decay. My only criticism is that the record feels entirely too short. Nonetheless, To Lay Like Old Ashes is an superb release.

    For fans of: Darkspace, Shining, Trist, Lantlôs, Sombres Forêts, Nyktalgia.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/bandaustere

    8.)Luctus - "Jaučiant Pabaigą Arti"

    Great debut!

    Usually when I see that a bands sound is classified as “black/thrash” I tend to ignore them, and for good reason. Most of the artists in that particular subgenre of black metal are exceedingly tedious, uninventive, and basically pilfer riffs from thrash bands that are far better than they are. I’m not exactly sure why I decided to give Lithuania’s Luctus a try, but holy fuck am I glad that I did. Jauciant Pabaiga Arti is filled with an inexorable collection of punishingly fast blackened thrash that is able to effectively ignore the old cliché’s of the genre while still paying homage to the original purveyors: old Sodom, Impaled Nazarene, Bulldozer, Assassin, Venom, Sarcofago, and Bathory. Simply put, this is ripping release that any fan of the aforementioned bands would be sure to enjoy.

    For fans of: Argharus, Altorių Šešėliai, Aura Noir, Necrodeath, December Wolves, Immortal.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/luctus

    9.)Amesoeurs – Amesoeurs

    A love/hate controversial release.
    Unusual and hauntingly peculiar female vocals.
    Flawless instrumentation, production, and distinctly emotive.
    A symbiosis of aggression, despondency, hopelessness, and introspection.
    Genre-bending, coalescing several sounds into a bleak and depressive ambiance.
    Unique, innovative, and unusual without sounding pretentious or forced.
    Undoubtedly one of the best releases of 2009.

    For fans of: Alcest, Les Discrets, Lifelover, Lantlôs, Peste Noire.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/amesoeurs

    10.)Shining - VI - "Klagopsalmer"

    Many black metal purists and “tr00” Shining fans aren’t wild about this album, and to an extent I can understand why. The band obviously went into a more progressive and exploratory direction with their sound rather than regressing or returning to the depressive and suicidal nature of their past (albeit excellent) work. Even as a fan of their preceding records, VI… kept me coming back more than any other album in the Shining discography aside from V - Halmstad. While still tongue-in-cheek – at least to me – in their abysmal, suicidal, and at times depressively addictive way, Shining are obviously on an artistic path that could cost them some of their earliest and most ardent fans. Not that it matters. The inclusion of clean vocals, acoustic interludes, lead guitar, and jazz-influenced riffing is fine by me, and I look forward to VII - Född Förlorare. Excellent release.

    For fans of: Bethlehem, Austere, Den Saakaldte, Forgotten Tomb, Skitliv, Carpathian Forest, Lifelover, Sterbend, Make a Change... Kill Yourself.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/shininghalmstad

    11.)Altar of Plagues - "White Tomb"

    Like Amesoeurs before them, White Tomb succeeds in creating an apocalyptic fusion of dissimilar techniques – resulting in a shattering of musical frontiers and a stylistically extreme offering wholly unlike anything else that was released in 2009. Yet another Irish band, Altar of Plagues seamlessly coalesce an austere and ruinous post-rock requiem for a diseased humanity with the burgeoning hatred and putrefied passion of pure black metal. While easily one of the best records of 2009, it seems obvious that this band has yet to reach their absolute potential. That’s really all you need to know. Get it.

    For fans of: Wolves in the Throne Room, Alcest, Cobalt, A Forest of Stars, Weakling.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/altarofplagues

    12.)The Ruins of Beverast - "Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite"

    Unlike their previous releases, this record was more challenging, and it took awhile for me to really get into it. If anything, the challenging nature of the record was perhaps the greatest indicator of the quality of music found on it, and by the second or third listen, I was absolutely hooked. In many ways, this was one of the most ambitious, original and innovative releases in the black metal genre in 2009. There were virtually no standard black metal riffs to be found on the record, and the tempo was usually downtrodden, nearly reminiscent of a sludge band. The tormented and almost suffocating claustrophobia on the album is brilliant. Hence, the band essentially pushes the boundaries of black metal further than any other band in 2009, creating something that is as intricate and complex as it is punishingly evil and adventurous. While it rests at number 12 on my countdown here, I wouldn’t be surprised if by the middle of 2010 this happens to be one of my top five favorite releases from 2009.

    For fans of: Paysage d'Hiver, Nagelfar, Lunar Aurora, Verdunkeln, Urfaust.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/theruinsofbeverastfanpage

    13.)Black Math Horseman - "Wyllt"

    Great debut!

    LA based psychedelic/stoner-rock/doom metal band aren’t exactly what I expected, especially since their lead vocalist happens to be female. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found on “Wyllt,” especially since I usually don’t find psychedelic doom to be that interesting. However, Black Math Horseman found a way to coalesce a calmly dark and almost relaxed bleakness with an ambiance that eventually breaks like clouds letting a storm of murky stoner-rock sludge rain down on the listener. This is all accompanied by female vocals that are at once hypnotizing and relaxing, and yet entirely unpredictable in their aggression. The musicianship on the release is excellent, has abundance of great hooks and for this style, and perfectly fits the almost desolate and airy vibe that runs throughout the entirety release. I can’t wait to see what this band does next.

    For fans of: YOB, Ancestors, Church of Misery, Ufomammut, Witchcraft, Baroness.
    Homepage: http://blackmathhorseman.com/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/blackmathhorseman

    14.)Katharsis - "Fourth Reich"

    Nothing new to see here. Nothing innovative or original, nothing progressive or pioneering. So why does Fourth Reich belong in the company of these other records? The answer is simple: Because this is Katharsis. Arguably at their finest. That is all.

    For fans of: Archgoat, Funeral Mist, Ondskapt, Deathspell Omega, Black Witchery, Craft, S.V.E.S.T., Clandestine Blaze.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/katharsis66

    15.)Fen - "The Malediction Fields"

    Fen’s sophomore release, The Malediction Fields was certainly impressive. Channeling elements of Agalloch, Drudkh, Empyrium, In The Woods…, and perhaps even the great Negură Bunget, Fen found the perfect balance between atmospheric black metal and a folk-intrinsic post-rock approach. Most importantly, the UK-based Fen has unquestionably established a sound that is solely their own and that with any luck will serve them well with their future releases. The Malediction Fields was a highly addictive and enjoyable release. Basically, if you enjoy any of the aforementioned artists or just want to try something new, you should get your hands on this excellent album right away.

    For fans of: Skagos, Primordial, Walknut, Krohm, Velnias, Gris.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/fenband

    16.)Impetuous Ritual - "Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence"

    Yet another band from down under, Aussie death metal act Impetuous Ritual features two members of the band Portal. That alone should give you a pretty good idea of what Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence is going to sound like. Aside from the obvious Portal influence, the tyrannical foundation of their oppressive discordance of destruction is rooted in the likes of Incantation, Teitanblood and even Mitochondrion. What the band achieves is loathsome wall of swarming death metal dirge that relentlessly pummels the listener with a cacophony of dirty death metal riffs, but moreover a genuine atmosphere of malevolence and wickedness – something that has been absent in death metal for eons. For myself, the genre of death metal has been devoid of interesting releases for quite some time, becoming as tedious, stagnant and essentially irrelevant as thrash eventually became in the early 90’s. However, Impetuous Ritual demonstrates that there are those few who are able to dredge up concentrated evil and still sound interesting.

    For fans of: Blasphemophagher, Incantation, Dead Congregation, Blasphemy, Abscess, Bestial Warlust.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/impetuousritual

    17.)The Chasm - "Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm"

    GASP! Another death metal release!?! Yes. Hailing from Mexico, The Chasm are arguably the single most criminally underrated band not only in the genre of death metal, but within the entire metal underground. This long awaited masterpiece is exactly what made prior releases from the band so great: Complex and challenging death metal passages energized not only by their raw and visceral force, but also by the dirge and dissonance that encompasses each and every track. Easily one of the single best releases the death metal genre has had in years – perhaps since the last The Chasm release! Like The Ruins of Beverast record, a year from now Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm could easily end up as one of my revised top five releases from 2009. Yet again, the underappreciated and unabashedly brilliant Death Cult from Mexico has achieved greatness. Take notice.

    For fans of: Demilich, Gorguts, Arghoslent, Asphyx, Nocturnus, Autopsy.
    Homepage: www.enterthedeathcult.com/

    18.)Absentia Lunae - "Historia Nobis Assentietvr"

    Yet again, the obligatory Italian black metal band makes my list. I have to say, I really enjoyed this sophomore release a great deal, and for an array of reasons. Virtually every aspect of the musicianship is a progression over their debut, and the band made considerable improvements in the production, which opened up a cacophony of crystalline chaos, allowing for audible bass, the slightest percussion shift and a razors edge to the onslaught of cutting black metal riffs. Absentia Lunae, like Sturmkaiser in 2008, is proof positive that the black metal scene in Italia is not entirely void of innovation, aptitude and just good plain ole’ evil. I’m probably slightly biased, but I spun this record entirely too much for it not to find a place on this list. Killer album.

    For fans of: Spite Extreme Wing, Janvs, Locus Mortis, Tenebrae in Perpetuum, Melencolia Estatica.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/absentialunae

    19.)Urna - "Iter Ad Lucem"

    Ironically, the primary band member in Urna, who is known only as ‘MZ’, is also a featured member in Absentia Lunae. It seems reasonably obvious where a large portion of talent in the Italian metal underground is coming from, doesn’t it? With Iter Ad Lucem, Urna have exceeded any expectations that I would have had for the band after first hearing them three years ago, and even after Sepulcrum, their outstanding sophomore release. A blacked doom death masterpiece, Urna seamlessly unite a guitar tone reminiscent of a thick wall of blackened funeral dirge, complete with tortured death metal shrieks and hopelessly plodding percussion - resulting in a death knell for the ages. While not a record for everyone, this is an album thick with depressing funeral hymns, all of which are overwhelmingly oppressive in atmosphere and intimidation. Above all, this work is a monumental and impressive masterwork for such a relatively young band. If you are into any kind of doom, you must hear Iter Ad Lucem.

    For fans of: Evoken, Until Death Overtakes Me, Skepticism, Void of Silence, Catacombs, Esoteric, Blood of the Black Owl.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/urnaproject

    20.)Nazxul - "Iconoclast"

    Fourteen years after unleashing their influential debut Totem, seminal purveyors of Australian black metal Nazxul return to completely blow the lid off of the black metal scene with their monster of a record “Iconoclast.” In an era when it seems as if a number of old school black metal groups are getting back together with mediocre or downright terrible results (see: Beherit, Burzum, etc.), Nazxul are the exception. In many ways, this extraordinary release sounds as if it should have been released in the early 90s alongside Emperor’s In The Nightside Eclipse, yet it Iconoclast doesn’t sound dated or redundant whatsoever. The songcraft and musicianship on the record is simply outstanding, but what I really love most about the record is how strangely nostalgic it feels, even if it is a 2009 release. With the unholy reunion of the blackened Aussie-cult complete, Nazxul has achieved something uniquely special and moreover very rare. Iconoclast should be heard by any discerning and respectable metal fan.

    For fans of: Secrets of the Moon, Merrimack, Woods of Desolation, Negative Plane, Watain, Leviathan, Malfeitor.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/nazxul


    Best Heavy Metal / Hard Rock Live Album!

    21.) Emperor - Live Inferno"

    Absolutely killer live record. The best I've heard in quite awhile. Get it.

    For fans of: Fucking black metal.
    Homepage: www.emperorhorde.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/emperorhorde

    And now...

    + Heavy Metal / Hard Rock Honorable Mentions +

    Ad Hominem - Dictator - A Monument of Glory
    Aluk Todolo - Finsternis
    Amorphis - "Skyforger"
    Aosoth - Ashes Of Angels
    Archgoat - The Light Devouring Darkness
    Arckanum - ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ
    Ashen Light - Кровь Апокалипсиса
    Aves - Aves
    Avulsed - Nullo (The Pleasure of Self-Mutilation)
    Behemoth - Evangelion
    Bloodline - Hate Procession
    Blut aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With the Stars
    Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
    Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration Plague
    Den Saakaldte - All Hail Pessimism
    Deströyer 666 - Defiance
    Devourment - Unleash The Carnivore
    Diocletian - Doom Cult
    Doomraiser - Erasing the Remembrance
    Drudkh - Microcosmos
    Ea - Ea II
    Echoes of Yul - Echoes of Yul
    Evile - Infected Nations
    Foscor - Groans To The Guilty
    Fukpig - Spewings from a Selfish Nation
    Funeral Mist – Maranatha
    Furia - Grudzien za Grudniem
    Furia - Płoń
    Glorior Belli - Meet Us At The Southern Sign
    Goatwhore - Carving Out The Eyes Of God
    God Dethroned - Passiondale
    Gorgoroth - Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt
    Havohej - Kembatinan Premaster
    Hellveto - Kry
    Hjarnidaudi - Psyko:Stare:Void
    Horna - Musta Kaipuu
    Hypocrisy - A Taste Of Extreme Divinity
    Immortal - All Shall Fall
    Impiety - Terroreign (Apocalyptic Armageddon Command)
    Isis - Wavering Radiant
    Kreator - Hordes of Chaos
    Kylesa – Static Tensions
    LAHO - Escape From the Dying Star
    Les Discrets / Alcest - Les Discrets / Alcest
    Lvpvs Infestvs - Post Fata Resurgo
    Malfeitor (Ita) - Incubus
    Månegarm - Nattväsen
    Marduk - Wormwood
    Metalucifer - Heavy Metal Bulldozer
    My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire
    Necrodeath - Phylogenesis
    Nile - Those Whom The Gods Detest
    Onslaught - Killing Peace
    Oranssi Pazuzu - Muukalainen puhuu
    Paroxysmal Descent - Paradigm of Decay
    Portal - Swarth
    Process Of Guilt - Erosion
    Psoriasis - Lethal Treatment
    Reaktor 4 - Reaktor 4
    Rev 16:8 - Grand Tidal Rave
    Sacrifice - The Ones I Condemn
    Samael - Above
    Siena Root - Different Realities
    Sjenovik - Zephaniah
    Skeletonwitch - Breathing the Fire
    Slayer - World Painted Blood
    Solar Wisdom - The Temple of Honour
    Spiritus Mortis - "The God Behind The God"
    Suffocation - Blood Oath
    Sui Caedere - Thrène
    Sun of the Blind - Skullreader
    Svart - Vanara, Vanmakt Och Avsmak
    Svarte Greiner - Kappe
    Teitanblood - Seven Chalices
    The Black League - Ghost Brothel
    1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame
    Trist - Willenskraft
    Urgehal - Ikonoklast
    Vader - Necropolis
    Vektor - Black Future
    Vorkreist - Sickness Sovereign
    W.A.S.P. - Babylon
    Witchrist - Curses of Annihilation
    Wodensthrone - Loss
    Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade
    Wyrd - Kalivägi
    Xasthur - All Reflections Drained
    YOB - The Great Cessation

    Fin ~*

    Abr 1 2010, 1h50

    Hey folks. You've arrived at a countdown of my fave releases in the neofolk, martial industrial, neoclassical, and dark ambient genres. It's impossible to hear everything, so if you have any thoughts, criticism, or most importantly - albums you'd like to share with me that aren't mentioned here, I implore you to leave a comment.

    Also, if you are interested in other genres of music aside from those covered in this journal, feel free to visit my other journal entries covering the best of Heavy Metal / Hard Rock and Indie / Electronic / Etc. in 2009.

    Enjoy. :-]

    + Neofolk / Neoclassical / Martial / Dark Ambient +

    1.)Rome - "Flowers From Exile"

    It is hard to believe that Rome was founded in Luxembourg just four short years ago in 2005. Since then, they have recorded and released some of the most critically acclaimed, innovative, and absolutely enduring succession of brilliant albums not only in the neofolk genre, but in any music genre. In fact, I cannot think of any other artist or musical group that has released such quality material in such a short period of time. Upon its release, Flowers From Exile, almost predictably, was a lock for my favorite album of the year in the category of this Best of 2009 list, and quite possibly my favorite release in any genre over the last year and a half. Stylistically, it is similar to previous releases in that the complexity of the arrangements are bombastic and militaristic, yet bittersweet and emotional, all reaching crescendo’s of an epic nature on nearly every track. Perhaps because of the themes on the release, the atmosphere and approach on the album is decidedly more neofolk-esque, leaving behind many of the more martial tendencies found on prior releases. Flowers From Exile certainly possesses an almost neo-gothic atmosphere, and could appeal to fans of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Spiritual Front, Death in June, and Lux Interna. Simply put, for any music fan that isn’t either uninformed or elitist, there is something on this record for you and everyone else. Rome is in a class above virtually every other artist in any genre, and I’ve given up wondering if their next release will meet my expectations because they continue to effortlessly exceed them. Brilliant album and band.

    For fans of: Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Spiritual Front, Dernière Volonté, H.E.R.R., Blood Axis.
    Homepage: http://romepage.eu/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/romecmi

    2.)Corde Oblique - "Stones of Naples"

    Like Rome before them, Ricardo Prencipe’s masterwork release with Corde Oblique showcases a group of musicians that are exceeding expectations in virtually every way. Italy’s Corde Oblique are arguably the single best neoclassical / folk group recording music today. Like Volontà D'arte before, their new magnum opus contains a diverse array of world music aspects, folkloric styles, flawless acoustics, elaborate and brilliantly performed vocals and accompaniments, creating a modern folk tour de force. Stones of Naples is clearly very Euro-centric, and there isn’t any other artist in the neoclassical or folk genres that are writing such beautifully composed music coalescing such a diverse and harmonious coexistence of styles. Wonderful release.

    For fans of: Argine, Lupercalia, Ashram, Edo Notarloberti, Camerata Mediolanense, Luigi Rubino.
    Homepage: www.cordeoblique.com/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/cordeobliqueunofficial

    3.)Der Blaue Reiter - "Nuclear Sun"

    With only their third release, Der Blaue Reiter has established themselves as an absolutely fantastic band in the neoclassical/ambient/industrial underground. While their prior two releases were outstanding, Nuclear Sun reached new heights in the quality and poignancy of the tragic conveyance of sound that this band uses to transport you to an entirely other world. Conceptually based on the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the band effectively recorded a melancholic and yet moving narrative that is as bleak, hopeless, and despondent as it is bittersweet. Utilizing a beautiful array of classically-tinged orchestrations melding seamlessly with ambient passages, distressing and anxious samples, together with forebodingly evocative vocals, Nuclear Sun is a complete success. Der Blaue Reiter just keep getting better. Check this one out, you won’t be sorry.

    For fans of: Der Feuerkreiner, A Challenge of Honour, Across the Rubicon, March of Heroes, Rukkanor, Les Joyaux de la Princesse.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/derblauereitermusic

    4.)Neun Welten - "Destrunken"

    After having waiting patiently for three long years for a new album following their excellent 2006 offering Vergessene Pfade, Neun Welten did not disappoint. Essentially, this is a band that is able to achieve everything that the neofolk genre is built upon, and meld it with a decidedly passionate respect for mythology, mysticism, the mysteries of nature and the natural world. Musically, Neun Welten excel at coalescing the most emotive elements of folk and classical music, utilizing acoustic guitar, flute, clarinet, piano, violins, and a variety of other instruments all melting into a tranquil harmony of male and female vocals. All the while, their music is, at times, quietly dark, unassuming, and positively unpredictable. As one of the finest neofolk releases of the year, fans of Dornenreich, Empyrium, The Green Man, The Moon and the Nightspirit, Sol Invictus, and the acoustic elements of October Falls should acquire this record immediately if they haven’t already.

    For fans of: Nest, Neutral, October Falls, Vàli, Tenhi, Forseti, Empyrium, Nebelung, Sonne Hagal.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/neunwelten

    5.)Von Thronstahl - "Germanium Metallicum"

    Purveyors of the martial industrial genre, Von Thronstahl have achieved yet another masterwork of neoclassical and post-industrial greatness with Germanium Metallicum. While the evolution of the band has been decidedly positive since the brilliant Sacrificare album, stylistically they have lost none of their bombastic martial tendencies, vivid and organic orchestral visions of nationalism and independence, nor the memorable force and clarity with which they convey their aural and sonic Pan-European vision. As with all of their releases, Germanium Metallicum is an absolute orthodoxy of superiority and excellence in the aforementioned genres. My only complaint is that it runs a bit long, but otherwise, this is an outstanding record.

    For fans of: The Days Of The Trumpet, Forthcoming Fire, Krepulec, Allerseelen, Leger Des Heils.
    Homepage: www.vonthronstahl.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/vonthronstahlgermany

    6.)Die Weisse Rose - "A Martyrium Of White Roses"

    Great debut!

    Over the course of a plethora of concerts over the last several years, Die Weisse Rose has cultivated an ample conclave of followers and fans, and they placate those unlucky ones who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing their live performance with their martial/neofolk/experimental debut A Martyrium Of White Roses. A bleak and at times diabolical patchwork of film samples, marches, field recordings, lush orchestral instrumentations and a captivating array of horns, synth, and rhythmic percussion, this is an intense and intricate debut release. Conceptually, there are a myriad of diverse sounds that adjoin with the musicianship creating a wartime ambiance that is as impressive as it is disquieting. Throughout A Martyrium Of White Roses there is a multifaceted reverberation of sounds, such as machinery, falling rain, the voices of women and children, German radio waves, and finally the sonic maelstrom of war with the explosive shrapnel of artillery. Few releases in 2009 were able to create such an aural environment that transports the listen so effectively to another state of mind. This is an exceedingly impressive debut.

    For fans of: Barbarossa Umtrunk, Wappenbund, Storm of Capricorn, :Golgatha:, Luftwaffe.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/dieweisserose

    7.)TriORE - "Three Hours"

    Great debut!

    The collaboration between Triarii and Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, two of the greatest bands in the neofolk/martial industrial genres, first occurred in 2006 on Triarii’s brilliant masterwork Pièce Héroique on the superb track “Roses 4 Rome,” featuring Tomas Pettersson as guest vocalist. Three years later, a collaboration between Christian Erdmann of Triarii and Pettersson of ORE was inevitable and TriORE was ultimately born. As a symbiosis and synthesis of both bands, Three Hours finds each of these men pushing beyond the musical boundaries of their normal projects while still embracing the embodiment of all that is exceptional from the unification of their creativity. Martial and apocalyptic orchestrations such as “No Tears Are Shed For You And Me” and “Fires Burn, Like Fires Do” showcase a clear Triarii influence while ORE’s distinctive and epic neofolk methodology is heard in tracks like “The Missing Hour,” and the excellent “Europa’s Dream.” Followers of either of the two projects that melded into one should absolutely seek Three Hours out as it is one of the better martial industrial / apocalyptic neofolk releases of 2009.

    For fans of: Triarii, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Dawn & Dusk Entwined, Pantheon Legio Musica, Puissance, Of the Wand and the Moon.
    Homepage: http://triore.de/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/triore

    8.)Dead Man's Hill - "Via Occulta"

    Over the course of several albums, Dead Man’s Hill has significantly improved, becoming one of the best bands in the martial industrial genre. With their newest offering, Dead Man’s Hill transports the listener into an ambient journey rich with unusual orchestral arrangements, bombastic walls of sound in the vein of In Slaughter Natives, and a ritualistic meets industrial atmosphere that compels repeat listens of Via Occulta. In a way, even within the confines of their own musical genre, Dead Man’s Hill seems solitary and alone due to the way they combine the sonic ingredients that teeter on the edge of chaos, while still retaining a malevolent and dark ambient nature. Via Occulta is an excellent release that I strongly recommend to fans of the genre.

    For fans of: Pimentola, Horologium, Zr 19.84, Cold Fusion, Phragments, Argentum, The Protagonist.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/deadmanshill

    9.)IANVA - "Italia Ultimo Atto"

    Un lavoro di bellezza, splendore, e il genio! Questo è tutto da dire.

    For fans of: Varunna, Calle Della Morte, Roma Amor, Orplid, AIT!, Ô Paradis, Fire + Ice.
    Homepage: www.illevriero.it/ianva/index-e.asp
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/ianva

    10.)Darkwood - "Ins Dunkle Land"

    Simply put, Darkwood are one of the most important and professional acts in the neofolk scene. Ins Dunkle Land, like most Darkwood releases, coalesces the time-honored staples of the neofolk/martial genre with an darkly experimental finesse that channels elements of despondency, nostalgia, wartime struggle, and a perfected melancholic reflective ambiance. While their newest album does not deviate much from the tradition of excellence that made Notwendfeuer and Herbstgewölk such memorable albums, Ins Dunkle Land is yet another stunning chapter in the essential Darkwood discography.

    For fans of: Werkraum, Waldteufel, Sturmpercht, Sol Invictus, Strength Through Joy, Falkenstein.
    Homepage: www.darkwood.de/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/heidenvolk

    11.)Tethrippon - "Tethrippon"

    Great debut!

    In the deceased language of Ancient Greek, the term Tethrippon denotes Apollyon’s flaming chariot, which – according to Hellenic mythology – he used to traverse the sky – the same chariot that his son, Phaeton, unsuccessfully attempted to control, resulting in a series of catastrophes that culminated in the explosion of Zeus’ rage. Obviously hailing from Greece, the duo known as Tethrippon flawlessly produce a smorgasbord of pummeling martial drums, soaring melodies and terrific vocals – all sung in the native tongue of their ancient forefathers - breathing new life into the Ancient Greek language. Part Dernière Volonté and Death in June, the epic continuity that Tethrippon achieved can be heard on brilliant tracks (titles are in Ancient Greek, with included English translation) such as “Mother Nature’s Hymn,” “Fire Holder,” and “A Prayer To The Sun.” This is a brilliant debut from a band that will almost assuredly be synonymous with quality for years to come in the neofolk/martial genre.

    For fans of: Àrnica, Shattered Hand, Trinithos, Sala delle Colonne, Von Liebenfels, Ich Hatt' Einen Kameraden, Alle Sagen Ja.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/tethrippon

    12.)Atomtrakt - "Nuklearchetyp"

    Utterly bleak post-apocalyptic martial industrial / dark ambient band Atomtrakt return in 2009 with the minimalist dirge of Nuklearchetyp. This is not a release that every fan of the dark ambient or martial industrial genre will enjoy. Atomtrakt create a disharmonic veil of hopeless ambiance that to many, may seem redundant or boresome. However, it is the stark and emotive simplicity in the instrumentation that generates an atmosphere of desperation and doom-laden decay that Atomtrakt mastermind Christian Ziegler has perfected so well. While at times decidedly more dark ambient rather than espousing the militant carnage emblematic of the martial industrial genre, Nuklearchetyp is among the most desolate and sincere records of an austere nature that I had the pleasure of hearing in 2009.

    For fans of: Vinterriket, Frozenthia Depresis, Northaunt, Kreuzweg Ost, Stahlwerk 9, Predella Avant, Die Macht, Kammarheit.
    Homepage: www.atomtrakt.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/atomtraktofficial

    13.)Sinweldi - "L'Homme Au Coeur de Fer"

    Great debut!

    Brilliant and innovative in a variety of ways, Sinweldi is a relatively young act that needs to be heard before anything you read might sway or imprint upon you an initial impression of the band prior to actually hearing the outstanding L’Homme Au Coeur de Fer. Sinweldi is definitely an act to keep your eye on in the future. I implore you to give them a listen without delay. Superb album, and one that I am likely to grow fonder of over time and repeated listens.

    For fans of: Gabe Unruh, L'Horrible Passion, Nihil Novi Sub Sole, TSIDMZ, Les Affres de la Mort, Schutzstaffel, Durch Heer Und Kraft, Ryr, Ritual Front.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/sinweldi

    14.)Opus Nigrum - "Journey In The Dark"

    Great debut!

    Journey In The Dark from the reasonably unknown Spanish act Opus Nigrum was a pleasant surprise for me. Arriving on the scene virtually out of thin air, they were able to produce eleven tracks that comprise an amalgamation of sounds and styles. Journey In The Dark is a densely woven neofolk debut comprised of rich textual layers of ritualistic passages that invoke the darkest and most mysterious elements of the human psyche. The album, based on three stages in the alchemical philosophy – Nigredo, Albedo, and Rubdo, also succeeds in generating an abundance of ambitious neoclassical cresendo’s that carry the listener into a ominous and dramatic atmosphere of war, envy, desire and death. Journey In The Dark was an excellent debut from this promising Spanish act, and I look forward to any work they might complete in the future.

    For fans of: Dark Sanctuary, Arcana, All My Faith Lost ..., Narsilion, Love Is Colder Than Death, Ataraxia.
    Homepage: http://opusnigrum.es/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/opusnigrumusic

    15.)Treha Sektori - "Sorieh"

    Great debut!

    As the supreme encapsulation of dark ambient sickness, Sorieh was arguably the single most disquieting and cinematic work of ambient musicianship in 2009. A forebodingly eccentric, yet oppressive and desperate ambiance on Sorieh summons all that is beautiful and captivating about decay, bereavement, and the inevitable collapse of human civilization. While the sound Treha Sektori achieves is solely their own, fans of Desiderii Marginis, Kammarheit, Coil, Pimentola, Karjalan Sissit, Toroidh, Northaunt, and Atrium Cerceri should certainly check this utterly desolate release out.

    For fans of: Peter Bjärgö & Gustaf Hildebrand, Atrium Carceri, New Risen Throne, Nordvargr, Vestigial, raison d'être.
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/trehasekt

    And now...

    + Neofolk / Neoclassical / Martial / Dark Ambient Honorable Mentions +

    Aeterna - New Dawn
    All Hail The Transcending Ghost - All Hail The Transcending Ghost
    Arditi & Signa Inferre - Statues of Gods & Invictis Victi Victuri
    Atrium Carceri - Phrenitis
    Birch Book - Vol III - A Hand Full of Days
    Bloody Woods - Colour
    Brighter Death Now - Breaking Down Nihil
    Current 93 - Anok Pe Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain
    Disciplina de Exterminio - Guerilla Cultural Postmoderna
    Eldar - Sapere Aude
    Espers - III
    Falkenstein - Kraftort
    Fasci Di Combattimento - Nihilism
    Folkstorm - Ortodox
    Hannu - Hintergarten
    Ierophania - Heliogabalus
    Ignis Vrbis Mithrae - Sacrae Romanae Origines
    Im Einsatz - Alerte en pays neutre
    In Ruin - Heaven Wept
    Karjalan Sissit - Fucking Whore Society
    Karl Sanders - Saurian Exorcisms
    Kazeria - Credo Nostrum
    Klammheim - Heimwarts
    Kriegsturm - Eternity
    L'Effet C'Est Moi - Les Voix De L'Apocalypse
    Les Mort Skin - Provocative Aesthetics ('08, grandfathered in...)
    Ludovico Einaudi - Nightbook
    Luigi Rubino - A Theme For The Moon
    Maninkari - "Un Souffle De Voix"
    Militia Dei - In Nomine Patris Et Filii Et Spiritus Sancti
    Navicon Torture Technologies - The Gospels Of The Gash
    Nebelkorona - Des Nachts In Tristen Nebel
    Nurse With Wound - The Survelliance Lounge
    Horologium & Oda Relicta - Saint George & The Dragon
    Ô Paradis & elli Riehl - Initium Dolorum
    Peter Bjärgö - A Wave Of Bitterness
    Pilori – Until The Day Dawn
    Raison d'Etre - The Stains Of The Embodied Sacrifice
    Roma Amor - Femmina
    Rose Rovine e Amanti - Demian
    Schutzstaffel - Der Krieg Unserer Zeit
    Sect - Imperative
    Seelenlicht - Love And Murder
    Snow Lark on the Temple Mt. Doom - Guardian Or Avenger ('08, w/e)
    Solanaceae - Solanaceae
    Subaudition - Light On The Path
    Svalbard - Pahonya
    Sylvain Chauveau - Touching Down Lightly
    Tears of Othila - Renaissance!
    Thunderwheel - Credo
    Tony Wakeford - Not All of Me Will Die
    Toroidh - Eine Kleine Marschmusik
    23 Trublion 23 - Cheval Pyromane
    Vae Victus - Suffering To The Conquered
    Vestigial - Solar
    Wardruna - Runaljod - Gap Var Ginnunga
    Whisper Room - Birch White
    Wyrdstone - Cuffern

    Fin ~*

    Abr 1 2010, 1h41

    Here they are, my faves in the Indie / Electronic / Post-Rock / Etc. genres.

    Feel free to share your thoughts, criticisms, whatever.

    Most of all, feel free to share your faves of 2009.

    Also, if you are interested in other genres of music aside from those covered in this journal, feel free to visit my other journal entries on the best of 2009 in Heavy Metal / Hard Rock and Neofolk / Martial / Neoclassical & Dark Ambient genres.

    Enjoy. :-]

    1.)IAMX - "Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction"

    While this brand of electronic-pop isn’t necessarily unique, the organization and orchestration of darkly erotic 1980s-influenced electro pop produced hook after hook that kept me coming back to Chris Corner’s extremely addictive Kingdom of Welcome Addiction all of last year and well into 2010. An improvement over The Alternative, IAMX’s newest offering delivered an emotive and melancholic desperation that coalesced with an optimistic and provocative pop bliss that surged throughout the entirety of the album. Nearly every track was a hauntingly alluring indie-electronic feast for the audibly starved ears of someone – like myself – who rarely discovers such quality in terms of songwriting, lyrical prowess, and song-arrangements in such an accessible electronic sound. Tracks such as “Kingdom of Welcome Addiction,” “I Am Terrified,” “Think of England,” and especially “The Great Shipwreck of Life” and “My Secret Friend,” (featuring Imogen Heap) were quite simply some of the most listened to and addictive music that I heard in 2009. While lambasted by some, Kingdom of Welcome Addiction was a overwhelming success and I can’t wait to hear what Corner does next.

    Homepage: http://iamx.eu/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/iamx

    2.)Patrick Wolf - "The Bachelor (Battle One)"

    While I was admittedly critical of some of Patrick Wolf’s earlier records, his 2009 masterwork The Bachelor (Battle One) completely converted me as a bona fide fan of his romantic techno-folk meets Baroque pop approach. This is ironic since most of the Pitchfork reading hipster audience seems to believe that his earlier work is far superior, but perhaps the inevitable backlash against Wolf has already begun among those fickle “indie” audiences. In any event, the entirety of The Bachelor… is a brilliant combination of electronic sampling, classical instruments, piano, viola, ukulele, and a host of other instruments. Standout tracks include “Hard Times,” “Oblivion,” “The Bachelor,” and especially the unforgettable “Damaris,” which was quite possibly my favorite track of the year in any musical genre. I also loved the track “The Sun Is Often Out,” which Wolf penned and recorded as a narrative homage to his friend, a poet, who sadly committed suicide. While there are plenty of people out there who will criticize Wolf and this particular album for a variety of reasons, I will not be among them any longer. Brilliant album.

    Homepage: http://patrickwolf.com/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/officialpatrickwolf

    3.)Fever Ray - "Fever Ray"

    I wasn’t particularly surprised that Karin Dreijer’s endeavor known as Fever Ray was as excellent as it turned out to be, especially following the success of The Knife’s otherworldly and outstanding 2006 release Silent Shout. But wow, this self-titled masterwork was and still is captivating in every sense of the word. In fact, after repeated listens, I may even like Fever Ray more than Silent Shout. If you haven’t heard this already, you should definitely give it a try. Few records in 2009 were as emblematic of an artist truly achieving an innovative mood that essentially challenges the listener with virtually every listen.

    Homepage: http://feverray.com/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/feverray

    4.)Bat for Lashes - "Two Suns"

    I love the absurdly talented Natasha Khan. With only two albums to call her own, Bat For Lashes is firmly entrenched among the handful of artists within the folktronic or “indie” genre that I absolutely love and usually can’t stop listening to. It was clearly evident that after hearing her incredible debut, Fur and Gold for the first time, that she had just begun to take her listeners on an unbelievable escape into her eclectic and entirely liberated musical world. For Khan, there was absolutely no sophomore jinx. Two Suns demonstrated that not only was her debut anything but a fluke, but that she is an artist who is exploring a deeply personal and quixotic journey of romanticism and ruminations on sadness, fear, and loneliness. There are a collection of excellent tracks on Two Suns, like “Sleep Alone,” “Peace of Mind,” “Siren Song,” and “Two Planets” but the outstanding song “Daniel” may be the single of the year. I would criminal to not mention the final track on the album, “The Big Sleep,” which showcased Khan and the infamous recluse and legend Scott Walker in an absolutely haunting duet. Suffice to say, Two Suns is outstanding for a sophomore record, and was easily among the finest albums of 2009.

    Homepage: www.batforlashes.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/batforlashes

    5.)Ben Frost - "By The Throat"

    While Ben Frost’s 2007 album Theory Of Machines caused quite a stir within the electronic music community, his 2009 offering By The Throat has turned it positively upside down. Frost is a master at shattering genre conventions by splicing together a concoction of diverse sounds, genre styles, and electronic glitches. Utilizing a dark and ominous electroacoustic ambiance and interweaving hypnotic drone, neoclassical elements, and a visceral and nerve-shredding mechanical vibe, all accompanied by a flawless production, By The Throat is unquestionably an invigorating listen. Whether it is the doom-laden funeral dirge followed by howling wolves on the outlandish track “The Carpathians,” or the disturbing undercurrents of splendor coalescing with a ghostly ode to the damned on “Hibakusja,” Frost is spot on time and time again. This is not an easily digested album, and it may take uninitiated listeners a few spins before they truly get it, but By The Throat is absolutely one of the most essential albums of 2009.

    Homepage: www.ethermachines.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/theghostofbenfrost

    6.)Stendeck - "Sonnambula"

    One of the best IDM records you will ever hear. Period. If you garner any enjoyment from listening to anything electronic, don’t let Sonnambula pass you by. Highly recommended.

    MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/stendeck

    7.)Kent - "Röd"

    After seven full length albums, Kent are still among the greatest bands that Sweden and for that matter all of Europe have to offer. The quality level is still extraordinarily high on Röd, where these Swedish masters responsible for so many excellent albums continue to refine their electronic style – combining magnificent guitars and synth with hook-laden dance beats in the distinctive and immediately recognizable Kent fashion. Joakim Berg’s unique and beautiful vocal style soars throughout Röd, and as with every Kent album there are an assortment of stunning tracks: “Sjukhus,” “Taxmannen,” “Ensamheten,” and particularly the marvelous “Töntarna.” If you are a fan of the band, or if you are thinking of delving into one of the most important Euro-pop rock discographies, Röd is a splendid place to start.

    Homepage: www.kent.nu
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/kentsweden

    8.)Valravn - "Koder på snor"

    Yikes, yet another ‘folktronica’ album, if that’s even the moniker you’d want to apply to this difficult to describe Danish “electronic ambient Kalevala folk.” Lead singer Anna Katrin Øssursdóttir Egilstrød is absolutely animated and outstanding in her vocal delivery, but perhaps I’m somewhat biased since her vocal inflection and tone is exceptionally close to sounding like Björk, who I have avidly enjoyed for years. Koder på snor is a kaleidoscope of instruments: dulcimer, cello, flutes, viola, lyre, jew’s harp, mandola, bouzouki, davul, keyed harp, percussions, and of course – lush and vibrant synthesizers. Few things on Valravn’s debut are straightforward, and a habitual experimentation utilizing all of the aforementioned sounds is the equation that is readily apparent throughout this interesting mixture of electronic music and folk. Valravn is an immensely talented and exciting band, and while Koder på snor is a brilliant release, I still think that these Danes have yet to write their magnum opus.

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/valravn

    9.)The Antlers - "Hospice"

    There are a plethora of positive and negative reviews online where you can read about Hospice, so I’ll refrain from writing much here. I will admit that it took repeated listens in order to fully appreciate the emotive character of the release. Also, in reply to many of the criticisms it has received: whether that emotive attribute was fabricated for the album or whether it was coming from a very real and painful place is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Hospice was among the most subtle, poignant, and depressive records in 2009. That’s all you really need to know before hearing it.

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/theantlers

    10.)Parralox - "State Of Decay"

    Where the prior record in this countdown was inherently regarding taking your own mortality into consideration and realizing how fragile life can be, Australia’s Parralox and their sophomore release State Of Decay is a electro-pop tour de force about living in the now. John Von Ahlen, the mastermind who created the band from “the love of all things synthetic, science-fiction, and surreal,” is joined by Amii’s ideal vocals to create a record that would be more at home in 1987 rather than 2009. Highly influenced by the 80s New Wave and pop, you can hear bits and pieces of Duran Duran, Madonna, Propaganda, Depeche Mode, and even mid-era David Bowie. Virtually every track on the album could be released as a single – it’s that good. Songs like “Isn’t it Strange,” “When the Walls Came Tumbling Down,” “Be Careful What You Wish For,” and the club-esque “In the Night” are outstandingly addictive and top-notch for this particular electronic neo-new wave sound. If you’re in the mood for upbeat electronic-pop that will be stuck in your head days after you listen to it, waste no time getting your hands on State Of Decay.

    Homepage: www.parralox.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/parralox

    11.)Morrissey - "Years Of Refusal"

    If you don’t know why this release belongs on this countdown, please kill yourself. Morrissey would approve.

    Homepage: http://www.itsmorrisseysworld.com/
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/morrissey

    12.)Hearts Of Black Science - "The Star in the Lake"

    I’m still digesting and formulating an opinion on this record. I cannot quite say whether or not I enjoy it more than their excellent debut The Ghost You Left Behind. However, I will say that Hearts of Black Science (HOBS) are criminally underrated, and that the melancholic and yet blissful The Star in the Lake has some excellent tracks, such as “Gold & Dust,” “Transmission,” and the standout “Teenage Heels.” The familiar traits found on the debut appear here on their sophomore effort, including the Depeche Mode-esque guitar tone, the superb multi tracked Daniel Anghede vocals, along with the characteristic dark ambiance that HOBS seem to generate so well. Overall, I wouldn’t say that HOBS fell victim to the dreaded and stereotypical “sophomore slump,” quite the contrary in fact. In as far as they attempted to replicate their debut, they largely succeeded. However, I would recommend getting not only this release – which is outstanding on its own – but also their debut to truly gain an appreciative perspective on what this band can truly achieve.

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/heartsofblackscience

    13.)port-royal - "Dying In Time"

    Italy’s port-royal has been a quality proponent of the ambient meets glitch meets post-rock sound since their memorable 2005 debut Flares. Returning yet again in 2009 with the outstanding Dying In Time, port-royal achieve a hypnotic, gauzy, and chilled out post-rock atmosphere that exceeds anything else in their discography. This is an excellent album to listen to when you just want to relax, or during a drive on a rainy or overcast day. It’s safe to say that port-royal are peaking at the exact right time with this melancholy wall of hook-laden electronic meets post-rock wall of sound. Great release!

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/uptheroyals

    14.)Soap&Skin - "Lovetune For Vacuum"

    Great debut!

    Austrian femme Anja Franziska Plaschg, the strangely disjointed yet incredibly unique architect of Soap&Skin sounds as if she has a tormented soul. On her debut album Lovetune for Vacuum, from the most desolate and long dormant places of her heart she conjures up a distressed and at times frantic foray into neoclassical dark pop. There are several impressive tracks on Plaschg’s debut, such as the placid temperament and somber piano on “Cynthia,” the electronic frenzy of “DDMMYYYY,” and “Marche funèbre” – an introspective and pensive stare into the depths of mortality and futility. Reminiscent of a darker and more emotionally plagued Cat Power, lush and at times despondent arrangements of electronics, piano, accordions, and music boxes make this a debut worth listening. My only criticism is the same one that is shared by many: the double-tracking of her voice on nearly every track, otherwise, this is a very positive listening experience.

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/soapandskin

    15.)The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - "Here Be Dragons"
    The sophomore record from Germany’s finest seven-piece collective results in Here Be Dragons, another foreboding venture into a David Lynch-esque world of slow-burning post-jazz meets a contemporary electronic vibe. Like their excellent debut, Here Be Dragons is yet another bold and experimental dark-jazz foray that is cinematic in ever sense of the term. Textured in the most calm and malevolent of ways, this isn’t an album that will satisfy the casual listener, but it is one that will hypnotize those with any semblance of taste.

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/tkde

    16.)Magma - "Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré"

    For a band that has been around for almost forty years,…..holy shit. This may be my absolute favorite Magma album to date, and that is saying a lot, especially if you’ve delved very far into the unparalleled brilliance of their illustrious progressive discography. Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré is positively compelling in virtually every single way, and perhaps more so than any other Magma album, the addictiveness of their 2009 offering reigns supreme. If you haven’t heard France’s Magma before, get on it. Now. This new record is entirely incredible: filled with mind-blowing time signatures, a jazz meets progressive identity that is as dark as it is invigorating and – at times – almost suffocating, these are compositions that are on par and rival anything this classic band has ever done before. Definitely a release that would likely place higher on this list as I spin it again, and again, and again…

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/magmaofficial

    17.)Alice in Chains - "Black Gives Way To Blue"

    I was completely opposed to the idea of an AIC reunion. I thought that it would sound like nothing more than another desperate cash grab by a group of musicians long past their prime. I was completely wrong. Musically, Black Gives Way To Blue sounds as if it was recorded directly after the bands classic self-titled 1995 album Alice in Chains, and because of that, this record possesses an exceedingly nostalgic aura for yours truly. There are plenty of places online where you can read all about this outstanding album, so I’ll refrain from saying anything more. Again, I was skeptical at first as well. Just give it a try. You’ll be thankful you did.

    Homepage: www.aliceinchains.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/aliceinchains

    18.)Piano Magic - "Ovations"

    Inevitably, no matter what Piano Magic record, the result will be positively magnificent. With Ovations, I really had no overt expectations, however, virtually every track on the record was a striking and compelling melodic mixture of darkly lush arrangements of a myriad of instruments creating a truly surrealistic atmosphere. As with their other albums, shadows of The Cure, Joy Division, and Dead Can Dance are prominent fixture, and the haunting vocals and orchestrations from Glen Johnson and co. Ovations is another excellent addition to the Piano Magic discography, and the more I listen to it the more it continues to grow on me.

    MySpace: www.myspace.com/lowbirthweight

    Marissa Nadler - "Little Hells"

    For such a young artist, Marissa Nadler has achieved much. Since her brilliant 2004 debut, Ballads of Living and Dying, Nadler has demonstrated her genuine and consistent artistic prominence by writing some of the most poignant and beautiful songs I have heard over the last ten years. Unfortunately, with her newest offering – Little Hells, she failed to match the tremendous quality of her third record, Songs III: Bird on the Water, but Little Hells is not a disappointment. In fact, her 2009 offering is a superb album, especially compared to her contemporaries recording similar music. The instrumentation and musicianship on Little Hells is a magnificent, her voice as ghostly and haunting as ever, and the production is perfect on each and every track. For those who haven’t heard Nadler before, I’d suggest checking out some of her earlier albums, but starting with Little Hells wouldn’t be a mistake either.

    Homepage: http://marissanadler.blogspot.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/songsoftheend

    20.)Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - "White Lunar"

    A masterpiece compilation.
    Get it.

    Homepage: http://nickcaveandwarrenellis.com/works
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/nickcaveandwarrenellis

    And now...

    + Indie / Electronic / Post-Rock / etc. Honorable Mentions +

    Aarktica - In Sea
    Amiina - Re Minore
    And Also The Trees - When The Rains Come
    Arms and Sleepers - Matador
    Asobi Seksu - Hush
    Assemblage 23 - Compass
    Au Revoir Simone - Still Night, Still Light
    Balmorhea - All Is Wild, All Is Silent
    Beirut - March of the Zapotec and Realpeople Holland
    Black Moth Super Rainbow - Eating Us
    Blue Tape for a Blue Girl - 10 Neurotics
    Bliss - No One Built This Moment
    Blume - Rise From Grey
    Bohren & der Club of Gore - Mitleid Lady
    Bon Iver - Bloodbank
    Built to Spill - There Is No Enemy
    Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
    CLAIR OBSCUR - We Gave A Party For The Gods And The Gods All Came
    Cold Cave - Cremations
    David Sylvian - Manafon
    Dead Man's Bones - Dead Man's Bones
    Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The Universe
    Fear of Tigers - Cossus Snufsigalonica
    Fever Ray - Live in Luleå
    Frozen Plasma - Artificial Evolution
    Genevieve Pasquier - Le Cabaret Moi
    God Help the Girl - God Help the Girl
    Heather Woods Broderick - From the Ground
    Hecuba - Paradise
    Hildur Guðnadóttir - Without Sinking
    Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Through the Devil Softly
    If These Trees Could Talk - Above the Earth, Below the Sky
    Ingrid Chavez - A Flutter and Some Words
    Jesu - Opiate Sun
    Keser - Robo Ghost
    Klimt 1918 - Ghost Of A Tape Listener EP
    Knifeladder - Music/Concrete
    Korouva - Sleepwalker
    Manic Street Preachers - Journal for Plague Lovers
    Maps - Turning the Mind
    Marsheaux - Lumineux Noir
    Mechanical Apfelsine - Space Without End
    Mew - No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away. No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away
    Mono - Hymn To The Immortal Wind
    Mountains - Choral
    Nachtmahr- Alle Lust Will Ewigkeit
    Neil Young - Fork in the Road
    Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
    New Model Army - Today Is A Good Day
    Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - The Road (Original Film Score)
    Oceanlab - Sirens of the Sea Remixed
    Ólafur Arnalds - Dyad 1909
    Ólafur Arnalds - Found Songs
    Ozric Tentacles - The YumYum Tree
    Pandique - In Sturm und Leben
    Peter Broderick - Ten Duets
    Peter Broderick & Machinefabriek - BlankGreyCanvasSky
    Pearl Jam - Back Spacer
    P.J. Harvey & John Parish - A Woman A Man Walked By
    Portugal. The Man - The Satanic Satanist
    Redshape - The Dance Paradox
    Russian Circles - Geneva
    School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms (Oct. '08, grandfathered in...)
    (((S))) - Ghost
    [:SITD:] - Rot
    Sixx - Sister Devil
    Solar Fields - Movements
    Soror Dolorosa - Severance
    Soviet - Spies In The House Of Love
    St. Vincent - Actor
    The Big Pink - A Brief History Of Love
    The Black Heart Procession - "Six"
    The Church - Untitled #23
    The Decemberists - The Hazards Of Love
    The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
    The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
    The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Higher Than the Stars
    Tom Waits - Glitter and Doom Live
    Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship
    Porcupine Tree - The Incident
    This Immortal Coil - The Dark Age of Love
    U2 - No Line On The Horizon
    Vitalic - Flashmob
    VNV Nation - "Of Faith, Power, and Glory"
    Wayne Hussey - Bare
    Zola Jesus - The Spoils

    Late addition...

    Fragments Of Winter - "Skyrockets"

    This is absolutely brilliant. Had I known about this release prior to creating this journal, it would have placed in my Top 10 easily. Excellent!!!!!

    Homepage: www.fragmentsofwinter.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/fragmentsofwinter

    Fin. ~*

    Abr 20 2009, 3h11

    Best in Neofolk, Martial, Neoclassical & Dark Ambient.

    Yes, I do realize that it is April. Whatever.

    1.) Rome - "Masse Mensch Material"

    No other artist in any other genre that I listen to has recorded as much brilliant music over the last several years. With a level of innovative quality, raw and undiluted honesty, and a musical vision that is currently unmatched by any other artist I’ve heard recently, Rome has quickly become one of my most preferred listening experiences. Masse Mensch Material may not even be Rome’s finest release, but it is undoubtedly among the finest records I heard all year. Brilliant band.

    “Masse Mensch Material”, the highly anticipated new release from Luxembourg’s Rome has finally risen upon hands. In less than a year after releasing the “Confessions d'un Voleur d'Âmes” album, Jerome Reuter and friends created their third full-length CD in a row. “Masse Mensch Material” is released on Cold Meat Industry, just as their last CD’s and comes in a luxurious digipack with an added booklet which holds all the lyrics sung on the CD. The artwork consists out of photographs of fashion dolls which are thoroughly neglected by the owners which forms an original piece of artwork.

    “Masse Mensch Material” starts with the intro track entitled “Sonnengötter”, which is an electronically created and deformed soundscape of various sounds. It sets an ominous mood to start the listening experience, especially when the spoken vocals start. The whispered, dark and far-away recorded vocals are in German which ends in the saying “Masse Mensch Material”. The second track, “Der Brandtaucher”, follows immediately with a loud and rough drum part which is supported by a picked-guitar. As this verse sounds very dark, the beautiful chorus is a very nice diversion. This shows Rome’s capability to set one on the wrong foot and shows to be one of the reasons why Rome is loved by so many in such a short time. Whilst the verse in “Der Brandtaucher” holds many details where one can get lost in, the chorus sets a good point to focus on, putting the vocals in the deserved spotlight. “Das Feuerordal” follows, which reminds more of songs on Rome’s first album “Nera”. Note of interest in this song is the piano part played in addition to the chorus. The fourth track called “Der tote Spielman” is more like an experimental pause, which reminds of a train passing by in the distance. The track is given more depth when spoken words arise. A point of remark is though, that the texts of these tracks aren’t given in the booklet, which is a bit disappointing.

    The fifth track “Wir Götter der Stadt”, flows nicely forward from the last track, starting with a softly played picked-guitar. Again, the drums defiantly catch the attention, which are seemingly louder and more diverse than heard in many other CD’s within the genre. The lyrics can be interpreted on many ways and especially this song gives the feeling that the songs if written based on the lyrics, not on the music. “Die Nelke”, the track that follows, is a beautiful composition which will get the emotion high. It feels like every note played, has the best possible effect on the listener imagined. The listener should also pay attention to these lyrics, which I found the best on the CD. Especially the part sung on the chorus made me dwell away in thoughts:

    “When we should be weeping with rage,
    or at least be rattling our chains.
    Look at us now – we are over.”

    The seventh track entitled “Der Erscheinungen Flucht” is an easier song for the hearing on the first hand, but changes overtime. It can be seen as a dark romantic song, with touches of strong emotions. The song is soft but is abruptly changed by the addition of screaming-like sounds on the background. The track that follows is entitled “Der Brandstifter” and differs a lot from the other songs given on the CD. It is harsher and has another kind of music which I found to be fitting right with the artwork. The sound effects in “Der Brandstifter” are especially something to listen to carefully, as these effects give the song the thematic feeling and can change interpretations. Track nine entitled “Kriegsgötter” is again differing a lot from the previous songs, but is the theme song for the album. The sentence “Masse Mensch Material” supported with banging drums, gives the adored atmosphere when listening this record through. “Wir Moorsoldaten” is more like an anthem than a regular song. This track is my definite favorite as it is so unseen before. The sentence “Es lebe die Freiheit” which is spoken louder and louder, and then yelled angry, which flows in a scream for help. This is what gets all the hairs on my arms and neck stand up straight.

    The 11th track is called “Neue Erinnerung” and is a more traditional Neo-folk song. The four-chord guitar part maybe seems to be far less technical than the guitar in all the previous tracks, but the listener may find this to be fitting after “Wir Moorsoldaten”, which may have raised the emotions a bit. “Nachtklang”, the last track, forms an absolute end to this fantastic release, with an outro in the same style as “Sonnengötter”. A conclusion to this story is not needed, as it shows again that Rome is a great band, and this is probably their best release up till now. It is a must-have for every listener of this genre and beyond.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Rome Info:
    Homepage: http://www.coldmeat.se
    MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/romecmi

    2.) Arditi - "Omne Ensis Impera"

    Probably the single best Arditi release yet. Excellent album.

    The Swedish duo Arditi present their highly anticipated new album through Equilibrium Music. It is dedicated to war, quoted: “We sing the praise of war. Not for the way it makes people die, but for the way it makes people come alive”. They dynamise this image trough a combination of their, already classical, grand and threatening dark ambient newly combined with classical strips, kilos of choruses and a unique way of transporting the listener into parallel worlds through music. I would give you a lecture about their influences and changes, but those in charge of the press sheet already wrote it much better that I could ever think of, so I’ll go directly to the music.

    ‘Omne Ensis Impera’ breaks the silence with a piece of classical female voices chorus. Midway, a sampler tears through, some words are spoken and then the chorus takes over again – a fully apocalyptic entrance into a world of glory, epic sounds and violence. Der Angriff geht weiter moves more into the cinematographic compositions Arditi normally presents, with a pulsating raw percussion and brimming with brass sounds, chord melodies and pressing tempo. The percussion work becomes more intense, underlined by a dark sound line and some vocal samplers. After a grandiose opening, ‘Der Angriff geht weiter’ is intense, gripping and dimly alluring through repetition.

    ‘Decisive War’ follows, with a much softer beginning, in a haunting and decadently classic way. One can almost see the smoke and ashes fly thought a large 19th century building window, while the curtains flutter and small, smothering holes consume them. The structure is mainly carried trough elongates synth notes, where a severe percussion intrudes upon. A voice crackles through the melody between the song. Through contrast it makes the music more languid and the reciting harsher. The ghostly female voices that close the song highlight the feeling of delicacy in a ruthless song. ‘Perserverance Is All’ moves more into cacophony – the overlapping of classical pieces, somber chord notes and martial percussion give the composition a sense of confusion and disorder that move into a march when the drums take over. The entire structure is dense, with draggin feet and a heavy heart. There are also shades of the choruses in this song, although the omnipresent sounds are those of the chello and the drums.

    With ‘Profound Truths’ Arditi move into a more ambient industrial zone. There is a large vocal sampler were words like ‘typhus’, ‘politician’, and ‘nothing’ shine, simmer and dissolve. Underneath lays a rich rug of percussion and repetitive, crude synths. The atmosphere is cold and detached, while the drum line shies away from martial into an almost folk like rhythm, if it weren’t for the gelid sound of the entire song. ‘Sons of God’ changes atmosphere almost immediately: it is epic yet simple, with that prerecorded feeling that synth vocals used as string have – were the recited samplers enter with a surgeon’s sharpness and the chorus pours in as a counterpoint. ‘Onwards’ moves into a much deeper martial spirit – where the simple structure of percussion is developed into an powerful, rich soundtrack that defends a passionate melody full or terror and majestic energy.

    The last two songs come up, starting with ‘Cladem Nescimus’. It creates a vibrating, menacing atmosphere though frequencies, chimes and ululating synths. The image one gets is of descent, spherical and continuous, with a mid tempo and surrounded by ghostly figures. ‘Endkampf’ closes with a light entrances, presenting a glorious façade, that develops into languid, dreamy sounds that slowly move through the song. The contrast between choruses, voices and machinery create an organic and fluid inner rhythm that manage a clear uneasiness. After all, war isn’t about poppies and happiness, is it?

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Arditi Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/arditisweden

    3.) Triarii – “Muse In Arms”

    The return! Muse In Arms is extraordinary. Get it.

    After two albums that have impressed the Industrial Ambient scene, Christian Erdmann now comes with the most inspired and interesting release to date. 11 elitist tracks, dominated by an unmistakable Martial rhythm, at times with warrior-like voices, somber orchestral choirs, dramatic effects and resounding echoes, all in an irreproachable manner! Although as structure, the tracks pretty much keep the same orientation, a more careful hearing will bring the realisation that every single one of them emanates a different aura, a different dimension, from dark to melodic ones. "EUROPA" is the most expressive one, "LES EXTRÊMES SE TOUCHENT" insists on a continuous march and a few lyrics in French, the two parts of the track that entitles the album present to us a mix of MARTIAL and MELODICAL – put together in an unusual manner, "FATALIST" is the most representative from the point of view of the energy it releases, on "LEGIO I MARTIA" the bells that are used on a somewhat slow background are framing a dramatic atmosphere, "BIRTH OF A SUN" is highlighting the orchestral dimensions, "ODE TO THE SUN" is focusing on voice, "THE FINAL LEGION" is reigned by the Orchestral Ambient side while "WIR KOMMEN WIEDER" seems to be the darkest of them all, where a voice dominates the entire sound through specific reciting and a grave musical background.

    I don't recall to have ever listed to such an imposing album, built within this Classical Martial Industrial manner! Full of strange melodic auras, cold, glacial, with shadows of some glorious past times, but with bombastic accords as well, very atmospheric, the project at hand shows us that music composed on a PC, if correctly conceived, can take sublime forms… and in fact, when carefully listening to this album something seems to rise/reborn from within, perhaps something that has been lying latently… incredible make! I don't know though if Triarii can make something better than it did here... I can't comprehend an even more mature release that would follow the same musical direction… unless it will change the style or if it will make musical compromises, perhaps insisting on more melody, taking the sound towards a synthetic Pop… I hope that will not be the case. If I haven't been clear enough until now, there is another convincing argument: the entire release was mastered by Jouni Havukainen of In Slaughter Natives, so you can imagine that the Dark Apocalyptic Industrial note is mounted on the same level as the very opposite Classical Ambient Martial. The booklet is very elegant and neat; there was a limited edition released as well but it sold out within a few hours… everything is noble, full of dignity, fascinating and at the same time minimalist and simple… the end result wraps around you even from the first harmonies, throwing you immediately after into a very different world, where justice, honour and patriotism emanate in a constructive way.

    Review: http://www.kogaionon.com

    Triarii Info:
    Homepage: http://www.triarii.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/triariiheadquarters

    4.) Neronoia - "Il Rumore Delle Cose"

    With only two albums under their belt, the Italian Neronoia are quickly becoming one of my favorite artists. Il Rumore Delle Cose was brilliant, and I hope that they continue down the same bath stylistically because no one else is doing what they are doing so well. Great band.

    I’ve been listening to a lot of rapid and wild music before getting my hands on Neronoia’s Il Rumore Delle Cose, and this experience has made me fall in love with slow music yet again. It’s not an album experimenting with extreme tempos, and it’s not a 120-minute drone EP, but it’s nevertheless a beautiful down-tempo release.
    The instrumentation remains the same throughout the album, with ambient guitars and atmospheric keyboards playing along modified drums and quiet, almost whispered, vocals. The bass is quite present, providing the roots to the harmonies played by the keyboards and guitars, those harmonies being one of the master features of this album. The ten tracks are extremely melodic, and those melodies can be felt (not just heard) in the ambient guitars and keys, as well as the almost-silent clean vocals, murmuring Italian words with a strange musicality. This combo of elements sets you immediately in the album’s mood (or should I say ‘moods’), which makes it an extremely powerful experience for the listener.

    Yes, the moods are what make this album powerful. Several tracks have some kind of apocalyptic feel to the music, such as the fifth track, whose steady beat give you the idea that the world is coming to an end; while others have a much more melancholic side, reminding you of those forever lost moments fossilised into your memory. Track nine’s mood stands out a little from the rest of the release due to its almost “happy” chord progression. It’s very nicely done, and is quite coherent with the rest of the album, for the same sense of melancholy and nostalgia returns throughout the track. It is an ambiance that is easy to get yourself into, and there is no uneasiness with the music, which flows in a relaxed, natural manner.

    Musically, this album’s genre borrows from several others. It is very soft atmospheric rock, with a very strong ambient trend. It is however extremely similar to funeral doom in its moods and approaches, and if the instrumentation was to be modified, Il Rumore Delle Cose would be an excellent fureral doom album. With the combination of melancholy and slow tempos, though, one could recognize a slight similarity to post-rock, though the instrumentation is still a little different. I would visualise this album as sitting at the crossroads of several slow and moody genres, although the album’s style is uniform and homogeneous.

    Neronoia has indeed created their own style of music, and have defined it through this second release.This album will take you away. I don’t know where, but it sure will. Listening to it once will start the addiction, and yet you will be delighted to be addicted to such a beautiful work of art. Listening to it while falling asleep is perfect, although once you know the album well enough, it becomes quite difficult not to hum along. Il Rumore Delle Cose is among my favourite non-metal albums of the year, and I am sure Neronoia will continue to provide such albums in the years to come.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Neronoia Info:
    Homepage: www.neronoia.tk
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/neronoia

    5.) Les Fragments De La Nuit - "Musique Du Crépuscule"

    Great debut!

    An absolutely stunning release in terms of musicianship and atmosphere, Musique Du Crépuscule is a contemporary neoclassical masterwork. Get it.

    Through the times, the night has been a terrain of inspiration, fascination and mystery for mankind. The silence and the darkness it brings, the imprecise contours that grants to the forms and appearances of things, drastically changing the laws of the day and manifesting a whole new reign with new rules, strange shapes and enigmatic connotations. Comparatively, poets and musicians alike have often used night as a muse to transcend the more perceptible side of things, that way, amalgamating a whole series of ideals and prefigurations about this quite unique moment of the day.

    Romanticism made of the night it’s unconditional ally, the place where often the true nature of things resides unquestioned, aided and supported by the darkness and the silence that abounds. Les Fragments De La Nuit are part of this legion, eternal lovers of the unknown and the mysterious, a set that returns at the dawn of each age to collect new odes to the twilight zone with musical landscapes and atmospheric paintbrushes. It is basically in that set of ideas and conceptions that this beautiful epic and at times tragic work strolls in. As the main musicians involved in Les Fragments De La Nuit claim theirselves: «Our music is poetry in which words are notes, a memory in which images are dreams».The musical transition is calm and sublime as the night itself is, slowly transcending the black curtains of a sky sparked with stars and somber woods slowly balancing with the wind. Nevertheless some more strong moments take place but always doing so in a perfect complementation between subtlety and intensity.

    The work is entirely instrumental with a strong cinematic development. And the construction is in the way of cult chamber music with radical influence from modern composers. Main instruments used are: the piano, a Violin ( Both played by Michell Villar and Ombeline Chardes respectively, the main composers for Fragments of the nuit) and a cello that enters the score from time to time to add some more sinister line or to encompass a low rhythmic accent. The style is entirely romantic, with both a lush sense and a disturbing side at times. It’s interesting though that all instruments takes serious hold in the rhythm, accentuating the “contra punctum” and referencing modern composers style.

    Each song constitutes a quite singular nocturnal escapade assembled by a magnificent and diverse piano score driven along by the rhythmic section disposed with the violin along with the cello, and some occasional well placed ethereal chorus lines. This choral apparition reminds of faeries performing haunting magical canticles of sublime dark beauty and hypnotic attraction. In return the instrumentalization put a subtle influx of repetitiveness, slowly inducing a magical trance like state for the listener, slowly transporting him to the very centre of the night, with all it’s creatures and magical events. Surely a romantic evocation of the magic side of nature within the wide margin of night! Romantic neoclassic with a subtle ethereal tone. Sueño de una noche de verano.

    The work as a whole is charged with this feeling of transparent stillness, arousing voluptuousness and a subtle touch of mystery, constantly inviting to a state of contemplative laxity and sweet melancholy that suits perfectly with an evening listening experience. This French cinematic quintet is widely recognized in Europe as a set of professional score composers for independent cinema and they certainly surrender all their expertise and effort in this work, clearly dominating the romantic musical concept they are dealing with along with an exceptional and often blinding performance capacity, sufficiently original and beautiful to not just captivate the listener but to bring atmospheres and scenes with just their instrumentation and not needing any additional special effects or electronic enhancements. A work that without a doubt is one of the releases of the year and a band to keep at sight for future developments. One of the tops this year!

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Les Fragments De La Nuit Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/lesfragmentsdelanuit

    6.) Der Blaue Reiter - "Silencis"

    I am still not certain if I enjoy Silencis more than Der Blaue Reiter’s superb debut Le Paradis Funebre Lenvers Du Tristesse, but it is more than worthy of a spot on my list. Excellent neoclassical/martial industrial release from one of my favorite new bands in the genre.

    'Silencis' is Der Blaue Reiter's second output, two years after their first release; 'Le Paradise Funèbre, L'Envers Du Tristesse'. Where 'Le Paradise...' started with Lakmé 'Flower Duet', 'Silencis' starts with the sound of a clock which is replaced by a neoclassical piano solo. But this solo is soon overtaken by ambient soundscapes which move slowly toward an intense and epic climax. Or so it seems. But two minutes before the end, all drama is gone and the track builds up again from new soundscapes and samples, including what sounds like a Gregorian chant. Eventually it dies out rather silently. I have a really hard time figuring out the connection between all four parts of this introductory piece, if there is any.

    'Eyes Of The Lost' then comes in with martial drums and neoclassical arrangements. Both Sathorys and Lady Nott then do their vocals in a fashion not unlike Ordo Equilbrio. Having said that, it's no surprise that I absolute adore this track. It's bombastic, rhythmic and with female vocals. Something similar is happening later in the album, with 'Abyssus Abyssum Vocat In Voce'. This track starts with a train departing a station, but after an ambient bridge the martial drums kick in again. The ingredients are largely the same; martial drumming and epic neoclassical soundscapes. The absence of vocals in this track is however not disturbing at all, since it's musically strong already. 'Victoria' is another track in this same vein, though it has some ambient pieces as well.

    This leads to another face of the album the rather silent and gentle one. Soft piano and ambient soundscapes sooth the listenir in 'Death And Decadence', 'Retrospective'. Or the sounds of winds and distant martial drums capture your attention in 'Ascension Part II'. Sometimes it's also orchestral as in 'Ascension Part I' with lots of violins, or simply haunting like in 'Rera L'Ànima Del Vent' with the sounds of a person in great distress while the neoclassical arrangement just keeps going and going. The person seems to be spiraling into a deep pit, leading to the song 'Prison Of Desire'.

    'Prison Of Desire' is a wonderful neoclassical track with a very rich sound. The violin has a prominent place, just like the piano. 'Paradise' again features the vocals of the musical duo, as well as some heavy martial drumming again. It's less bombastic this time, as the vocals are softer, leading to a more intimate atmosphere rather than a harsh one. The second half of the track is a dark and brooding ambient soundscape, eventually broken up by soothing piano. Finally, with 'End Credits' we return to the introductory piece with the same piano play and clockwork sounds.
    'Silencis' is without doubt a much more mature album than 'Le Paradise ...'. It's way more enjoyable and it makes one tingle with anticipation of what lies in the future for Der Blaue Reiter. The artwork on this release is also more in touch with the music. It once again comes in a six panel digipack, but this time in crooked white with nifty little elements of apocalypse and decay. A highly recommended release.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Der Blaue Reiter Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/derblauereitermusic

    7.) Lux Interna - "A Lantern Carried In Blood And Skin"

    One of the most interesting burgeoning artists in the neofolk genre is unquestionably Lux Interna. Building upon 2007’s exceptional God Is Not Dead For The Birds, the band’s fourth record is an absolute success. Each and everytime I spin A Lantern Carried In Blood And Skin I hear something new. Also, I cannot get enough of the vocals. Great stuff.

    After three full-length releases on the German Eis + Licht label and numerous compilation appearances, this anthology from American dark folk group Lux Interna offers an opportunity to reassess the band’s progress over the past decade. I’m not really familiar enough with the Lux Interna back catalogue to be able to judge whether the selection of songs on [a lantern carried in blood and skin] is the best possible representation of the band’s work, although I’m sorry that ‘The Parting Song’ from their 2002 debut full-length Absence And Plenum isn’t here. The ten tracks of the anthology are drawn from Lux Interna’s three albums – there’s nothing from their 2001 debut 10” mini-album Truth and Beauty And All Their Severity, and there’s also no previously unreleased material, which might have been a good thing to include for those who already own all the earlier albums.

    [a lantern carried in blood and skin] opens with ‘Horizon’ from 2004’s Ignis Mutat Res, which is something of a signature tune for Lux Interna, having also been released on the Eisiges Light label sampler and on the compilation album Looking For Europe. ‘Horizon’ features all the typical elements of the Lux Interna sound, with an emotionally charged blend of rapture and despair passionately evoked through the voice and strummed acoustic guitar of the band’s founder, singer-songwriter Joshua Gentzke, with backing vocals from Kathryn Gentzke, organ and piano from Kevin Sweet, cello from Katherine Trimble and drums from Shane Halanan, as well as several guest musicians. Like Amber Asylum or Werkraum, Lux Interna’s music is characterised by ensemble playing of acoustic instruments, blending elements derived from folk music and neo-classical chamber music.

    The second track of the album, ‘Into Nothing (Blackwatersong)’, taken from last year’s album :God Is Not Dead For The Birds:, is the absolute highlight of the collection as far as I’m concerned, with subdued, wistful cello and organ providing the musical backbone for an ecstatically melancholy celebration of oblivion, simultaneously warm and chilling – a great soundtrack for a wine-soaked, solipsistic wallow in despair. Joshua Gentzke’s wonderfully rich, deep baritone voice has often prompted comparisons with singers like Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and Backworld’s Joseph Budenholzer, and whilst Joshua’s voice is certainly reminiscent of all these artists (and also Stuart Staples of Tindersticks), there’s a distinctive twist of dark Americana about Lux Interna which reminds me more of bands like the much-neglected Walkabouts, And that combination of male and female vocals from Joshua and Kathryn also has a certain amount in common with the Gira and Jarboe double-act of mid-period Swans, although to be sure, Lux Interna’s music tends to be a less harrowing experience than that of the Swans, with its undeniable darkness more reminiscent of the regressive, world-denying comforts of the womb than the cold obliteration of the grave.

    The lilting chimes and mandolin of ‘Fallen’ lend this song a lighter, more soothing and lyrical atmosphere than its precedessors, and ‘Flowers Under Glass’ features solo vocals from Kathryn – her remote, spectral voice is less immediately attractive and compelling than Joshua’s, but it has a certain ethereal charm. Kathryn also sings the album’s closing track, ‘Distance’. It’s really in the contrast and interplay between Joshua’s and Kathryn’s voices, though, that a lot of Lux Interna’s appeal lies. ‘Your Lily White Hands’ is another particularly strong song, with mandolin and cello prominent in the sumptuous acoustic textures. Two songs on [a lantern carried in blood and skin] both include texts from writers other than Joshua Gentzke, who otherwise writes all of Lux Interna’s lyrics. ‘Lange Mußt Du Leiden’ includes words from the famous German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and ‘Blossoms’ includes an excerpt from ‘Psalm’, by the poet and Holocaust survivor Paul Célan.

    In the best tradition of prophets being without honour in their own country, Lux Interna have up till now been more appreciated in Europe, particularly Germany, than in America. Hopefully, this collection, their first on an American label, will bring their music to greater prominence in their homeland, because, although they’re usually referred as a neo-folk band, an impression reinforced by their association with the German label Eis Und Licht, it does seem to me that Lux Interna’s music has an American gothic flavour which is a strength they could play to more. In any case, [a lantern carried in blood and skin] is certainly a good place for the uninitiated to begin their Gnostic quest towards ‘the innermost light’ – Lux Interna.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Lux Interna Info:
    Homepage: http://www.luxinterna.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/luxinterna

    8.) Der Feuerkreiner - "Unsere Zeit”

    A very eccentric and even abnormal neofolk/martial industrial sophomore release, Unsere Zeit was among the most diverse recordings I heard in 2008. If you are into neofolk, or merely interested in innovative and original music, Der Feuerkreiner should be on your list of artists to check out. Great album.

    Der Feuerkreiner is a unique band. I paid my attention to this duo some years ago when a good friend of mine made me listen to one of their tracks – Tanz was its title. Probably it was not recorded so well, but I still remember my fascination as I finally found the kind of music I wanted to listen to at that moment. And even now, when I realize I used to listen to really different kind of music from power electronics to surf rock, I come back to this duo and play their albums when I've got such an opportunity to stay with myself.

    As far as it is known Der Feuerkreiner takes its roots back in the beginning of this century, when they recorded their self-titled limited CDr. Since that time Valentina Castellani (vocals) and Federico Flamini (vocals, sampler, programming) managed to issue a number of CDs, vinyls, DVDs and had time to participate in numerous compilations. Both of them have a certain background connected with music – Federico had his electronic experiments under Kunst Mork and Commotus Ingenio names, Valentina was a student for singing with Giuliano Viabile. “Unsere Zeit” is issued on Neuropa Records, based in Belgium and releasing a mass of neofolk artists, being one of the labels that have the major influence on the neofolk scene.The lovely CD pack is designed by Trine + Kim Design Studio.

    So what is this album like? The style has remained the same. I’d say this recognisable style became their ID. It is a band that mixes neoclassical, martial and power noise in their music. That is why their music is enriched with sounds: you can get anything you want in here and still it is not going to become kitsch. From the one side the music is majestic, thanks to martial drums and melody lines in the background, performed on piano and synths that together with Valentina’s vocals form the melodical side of the duo. And on the other side it is filled with rhythmic noises, deep basses, complicated rthyhmic structures and male low narrative, which may be considered as a part of rhythmic ornament as well. Interesting this is that German is usually considered a language unsuitable for singing, regarded as harsh and rough, unlike English, for example. Here we hear something really interesting and exciting as lyrics seem to be at the same time in German and quite melodious. But that's partially so. The band is inspired by the poetry of Christian Morgenstern, surrealist German poet. But things are not that simple: those lyrics are completely reassembled to fit the melodic lines: some words are stretched, others are anagrammed. Reminds of music concerete technique, doesn’t it?

    "Unsere Zeit” (German for Our Time) – is a complete album, but also a collection of various tracks with different styles: there we've got really melodic, soft but grand Unsere Zeit, I'd say my favourite on this album, or noisy, rhythmic and agressive Wissen Ist Macht or Gerechtigkeit!, where the duo shows its noisy potential. Strange, but there're tribal features on this album as well, for example in the beginning of fifth track – Die Erde und der Krieg, due to the instrument used. And then Am Abend comes as a surprise, something I wouldn't expect to hear on this album. I’m not going to tell you what it is about, you have to hear it yourself.

    As for the idea, it seems to be an attempt of interaction of the two worlds, probably even an opposition of two worlds - the old, calm, traditional one with its notions, rituals, customs, the ways of expression and another one – audacious, impudent, fast, agressive. And sometimes you start to think you’re listening to completely different bands, until some recognisable elements appear and give you an idea of what is happening.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Der Feuerkreiner Info:
    Homepage: www.derfeuerkreiner.it
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/derfeuerkreiner

    9.) Sonne Hagal - "Jordansfrost"

    Sonne Hagal have been one of my favorite neofolk artists for a very long time. They did not disappoint with Jordansfrost. Great band.

    From the mysterious lands of Sonne Hagal, a new 45 minute CD has been launched upon us. Entitled “Jordansfrost”, this digipack comes in three different versions, with exclusive paintings by Fabrice Billard. Although the persons behind Sonne Hagal remain unknown to many of us, the guest contributors on “Jordansfrost” aren’t. To name a few: Of the Wand and the Moon, Ernte, Waldteufel, Darkwood and In Gowan Ring amongst others.

    “Jordansfrost” can as a whole be seen as a traditional Neo-folk album. In every track one finds various links with the old Europa, nature and craftsmanship. It takes the listener on a ride through the mythical old world and ancient traditions. The lyrics are both in English and German and are written by the artists themselves or are taken from poems. Instrumentally, the music consists mostly out of acoustic guitars, bass, accordion, flute, violin and trumpet. Occasionally, tracks also are supported with electronic piano parts and drums. Although the production is very good, the sound is yet a wee bit unpolished, which creates the desired atmosphere.

    The CD starts with the song “Flackerndes Feuer”, which is sung in German. With a regular guitar part supported by an accordion, the sound is very dark and sober. The song is deepened in dimensions by various sounds on the background which seem to wander through the song. The song ends in a collapsing soundscape of the accordion. The second song entitled “Midsummernight” is in English and has a more obvious rhythm than the previous track. The violin in this song gives an additional melody which gives the listener an additional road to follow whilst listening. “Vengeance” is a more traditional folk song with a moving part of violin in it. Again, this is a very bare-bone track with a minimal instrumental input, but a maximal thematic output. The sound is very honest and clear.

    The fourth track entitled “Das letzte Lied” is more dramatical. It is very dark and the musicians have chosen to use guitar picking instead of chords. The violin plays in against the guitar which together create an ominous but yet beautiful part. “Hidden Flame” starts with a German intro which is followed by an immediate start of the song. This very danceable track is supported by a regular drum part and a trumpet on the background. Of course, as can be expected, some parts clearly remind of Death in June, whom used this combination a lot in their music. “Rokh” has an original part of low bass parts, which even seem to remember a bit of the regular bass guitar sounds in the 80’s Pop music. “Herr Gilbhardt” is another song in the same line as “Vengeance” but this time soundscapes on the background are more obvious to the hearing and the male vocalist is supported by a female singer (Ernte). Another nice addition are the classical guitar parts, which may have missed a bit in the previous tracks. The next tracks in line “Ragnarök”, “Who has seen the wind?” and “Totentanzlied” all follow the same line a bit. The songs hold a deep ‘camp fire’ feeling with them, which makes this CD as a whole excellent evening music supported with a glass of older beverages. The 11th track “The Hawk” is very touching. Maybe this track has more depth in it than the other tracks, but with the female background vocals this is a beautiful track. Definitely my favorite within “Jordansfrost”. Last is “Over the stone” which holds the magical touch of (call it) nihilism.

    “Jordansfrost” is a magical CD which almost feels like a step backward in the old world. Sonne Hagal has not determined for the listener which era it will enter whilst listening, so the listener is entirely free to conclude which traditional world it is up to enter. Altogether the music on “Jordansfrost” is peaceful and beautiful. And although I liked the second half of the CD better than the first, the release is definitely one to keep in mind.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Sonne Hagal Info:
    Homepage: www.sonnehagal.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/sonnehagal

    10.) Nebelung - "Vigil"

    Nebelung are a neofolk band that is devoid of any gimmicks in their music. Their stripped down and organic resonance is hypnotic and beautiful, and Vigil is no exception. Superb 2008 release.

    “Vigil” makes a particularly lithe and vibrant contribution to the Neo-Folk genre. Stripping songs down primarily to the bare essence of the sound of the acoustic guitar (often accompanied by voice), these compositions often take on a trance-like quality that epitomizes the spiritual nature of the intentions behind them. The vocals are calm and understated, never overpowering the mood, and there are several instrumental tracks and many interludes of pure music. The guitar is recorded in such a manner that you can hear all of the intricate sounds of picking and strumming very clearly, even down to the sound of fingers sliding along the strings. Several songs feature strings added in to nice effect.

    The morose theme of the record holds sway of the mood of all of the music within, but it is very well-arranged and is not likely to further your depression. In fact, on an Autumn night, driving at dusk, these songs can work as an uplifting and transformative companion to your thoughts. The instrumental “Heimkehr” plays a mantra-like series of intense acoustic riffs that layer over each other and weave an ornamental tapestry of forest walks and rituals, followed by the beautiful lament “Sturm.” The melodies have the familiarity of an ancestral homeland, drawing from the folk storytelling tradition and relating it to the lives of the performers.

    Nebelung have crafted a very enjoyable and thoughtful album with “Vigil.” The recording is kept raw and soulful, and the guitars sounds immense. Nebelung seem to have complete mastery over their sound and have demonstrated that they are duly able to capture that sound in the studio for the listening pleasure of Neo-Folk fans worldwide. Each guitar arpeggio or strum brings the listener that much closer to death, and therefore the performer as well. The second instrumental “Nokturn” demonstrates this rather ably, and the records takes a morose downturn on the second half of the record, where twilight is consumed by the night. A must for fans of the Eis & Licht label, this is a fitting addition to their canon of output.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Nebelung Info:
    Homepage: http://www.nebelung-musik.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/nebelungmusik

    11.) Pantheon Legio Musica - "Per Aspera Ad Astra"

    Long Live The Glory Of Rome! ;)

    So what do we have here? An opus in the vein of martial and neoclassical music, presented by relatively new German band, Pantheon Legio Musica, reflecting their fascination and admiration for Rome in the music they suggest to the audience. The album is issued on Thonar Records, a german label with specialisation in dark ambient, neofolk and industrial fields, found in 2006. Per Aspera Ad Astra comes in a nice digipack with a booklet inside filled with lyrics used on this album.
    People who stand behind Pantheon Legio Musica are: A. Reese, responsible for composition, guitar and leadvocals; M.Stevens, who is in charge of composition as well and drums/ percussion apart from that; and T.Bley, who is also responsible for percussions, drums and vocals. There are also two guest musicians featured on this album – K.M.Roho and M. Copio Raposo, female part of vocals performed within this album. The lyrics were written by K.M.Roho except tracks Prayer to Mars and Memento (by Claudianus and A. Reese respectively).

    It is a piece with a touch of many genres from martial, neoclassical, neofolk to dark ambient and even a bit of noise can be found out there. With its pieces that have picturesque (in the musical sense) neoclassical lines and a strong, straight rhythmic pattern being one of the main lines throughout the track it reminds much of Puissance (Ignis reminds their Grace of God album) and concerning the mix of those aforementioned rhythmic patters and atmospheric haunting background, one may think to In Slaughter Natives. Despite all the associations, the sound throughout the album is very various: there are majectic martial hymns, like Son of Iupiter, changed by somewhat dreamy, but still majestic soundscapes with a really suitable rhythmic ornament, perfectly accompanying the sound, like in Pantheon track (I’d mark this track out as one of my favs, thanks to the kind of contrast between the dreamy melody lines and powerful drumline) and then back to the hymns, but with a neofolk guitar-touch like Pompeii, where female vocals also featured. The vocals are performed by K.M.Roho.

    You know, first I didn’t quite get those tracks with vocals, somehow couldn’t enjoy them. However, after a few listening I started enjoying this free manner of singing, as it sounds like the person feels what is being sung and the music comes out from within. I’d say Pompeii and Sacred Grove are also among my favs within the album (although I didn’t enjoy Herculaneum (Pompeii Alt.), which is another version of Pompeii, kind of alternative, maybe an attempt to experiment). But that is not all, concerning variaty of this album.

    There’re many tribal influences out there as well: percussion or just the manner of drumming are widely used in many tracks, no matter whether those are on the surface or somewhere in the background under the layers of other instruments, or just the melody lines that give a hint on the influence of oriental – SPQR, Sacred Grove, Omega to name a few.

    The album is closed with a beautiful and rather lyrical outro, Fragment. It indeed doesn’t have a clear beginning and clear end, just an instant, probably a kind of flashback, sounds like there’s going to be something else afterwards as there was something before. Frankly speaking and unfortunately I haven’t heard Pantheon Legio Musica’s promo CD, but I hope we’re indeed going to have something afterwards this album.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Pantheon Legio Musica Info:
    Homepage: www.pantheonhq.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/pantheonhq

    12.) Sagittarius - "Songs From The Ivory Tower"

    This is a neoclassical release that sort of came out of nowhere. Needless to say, it was shockingly good. I believe that you can still download their earlier albums for free on their homepage. Sagittarius is a great new band.

    Sagittarius began as the brainchild of one Cornelius Waldner, a German musician whose startlingly poignant and affecting creative gift lies in a blending of neo-folk and neo-classical elements. Where friction is generated between those two approaches, Waldner incorporates it, exploits its potential, and makes it his own, resulting in a sound that has a robust coherence and poised, crystal-clear vision. “Songs from the Ivory Tower”, Sagittarius’s second full-length, brings in co-conspirators of exceedingly fine pedigree, including Von Thronstahl’s Marcel P, now a full-time member of the band. No surprise, then, that when vision and skill collide, something precious sparks to life.

    Wistful, stately piano movements which are capable of many moods – some dolorous, some auspicious- form the foundation of Sagittarius’s sound, accompanied by clean guitars, intimate yet authoritative vocals, flutes and occasionally the neck-hair-raising low lament of the cello. The melodies are beautifully constructed, designed so that they seem so simple yet at the same time so far beyond what the listener could dream of creating. “Die nächtlichen Geschicke” has a warm, fairytale folkiness to it, while “Das Leid” and “Der gute Kamerad” feel like traditional songs, the latter having a proud, national feel. In contrast, “Menuet von Johann Krieger” sees Sagittarius explore the full dignity and grandeur of the European classical past, whilst “Nova Apocalypsis” moves with a ponderous gait.

    A variety of different vocal approaches exist on “Songs from the Ivory Tower”, due to Waldner’s willingness to vacate the microphone on behalf of a small galaxy of guest singers. His own voice, pitched into a cadence which is part speech, part song, is clear and quietly strong. Herr Twiggs and Marcel P have deeper, more resonating voices, whilst Troy Southgate (of Seelenlicht fame) moves in higher keys and provides a contrast on tracks such as “Der gute Kamerad”. In all, though, just as it is impossible to see the seams between classical and folk, the different voices do not give a patchwork effect, but seem to fit together most beautifully.

    “Songs from the Ivory Tower” captures mood perfectly, but there are no simple emotions, no pure sadness or pure grandiose coolness. The cover of Forthcoming Fire’s “Europa Calling” exhibits the most passion, but the potential for outburst, for a clarion call, for an unbearable, classical climax, seems ever-present in Sagittarius’s own material. This potential mixed with the kind of uncanny sensibilities belonging to minds who can summon up the story of a boy who “lost his way in the woods of fey” (“The Song”) is nothing short of magical; this is an album in whose isolated and privileged halls you will want to lose yourself over and over again.

    Review: www.hierophant-nox.com

    Sagittarius Info:
    Homepage: www.sagittarius.de
    MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/marblecliff

    13.) Death in June – “Rule Of Thirds”

    Say what you will, but I enjoyed it. A lot.

    Not many artists have the distinction of being understood to have been responsible for the birth of a genre. Widely regarded as the father of the Neofolk movement, Douglas P. has continually produced legendary albums forming an enviable catalogue. Death In June now returns with what will surely be seen as another landmark recording comprised of 13 tracks, The Rule Of Thirds. The album is released on his own label NERUS in association with Soleilmoon. Self described as 'Toten Pop', the album continues in the vein of his stripped-down recordings and performances of the past decade with the exception that there are some subtle audio manipulations here, soft white noise insertions and dialogue sampling in German and English. I must recommend that the first time one listens to this album headphones should be worn to appreciate these nuances. The panning of breathy textures from one side to another creates an otherworldly nebulous ambience, the best example of which can be heard on "Jesus, Junk and the Jurisdiction", an incredibly catchy and entrancing song somewhat reminiscent of the Rose Clouds Of Holocaust sound. This enveloping textured effect continues throughout, mixing and washing over the listener like burlap and silk.

    "My Rhine Atrocity" will lull you with its spectral beauty and nostalgia. "The Perfume of Traitors" soothes and disturbs, with the chorus 'God is now here, God is nowhere'. "Last Europa Kiss" is destined to be a Neofolk classic. The closing track "Let Go" washes out with a massaging bass line and multi-layered velvety vocals delivering the directive, 'Let Go!'.

    One can tell that this album has been meticulously created and expresses only and exactly what the artist intended. It impresses a strong feeling of a personal nature, like someone sharing an inspirational story with you. The sonic imagery evoked is that of barren stretches and pastel sunsets, winds and precipices. Perhaps Southern Australia and her feral beauty. One can surely imagine these songs performed at dusk on an open plain. 'Kampf Fire' music, as Douglas has described it. There is a noticeable air of time-consciousness here, as if Autumn is approaching and there should be indulgences and festivities before the arrival of Winter. You will find your foot tapping and your mind turning.

    “Let the Blackbirds kiss you and may The Rule of Thirds dictate your life!”

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Death In June Info:
    Homepage: www.deathinjune.net
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/ddeathinjune

    14.) Leger Des Heils – “Memoria”

    Consistently one of my favorite neofolk/neoclassical acts, “Memoria” may be their best release to date.

    Leger des Heils is a reclusive neoclassical/neofolk act from Germany which seems to be the project of one Mario Ansinn. The band was formed in 1999, and Memoria is their fifth full-length disc.

    The album fades in with the instrumental ‘Einklang’. A rumble of kettledrums and a low droning organ gradually become audible, to be joined by a synthesised choir and an insistent brass ostinato. The martial percussion continues on ‘Wie am Ersten Tag’ which features lyrics derived from Goethe. The vocals are sung in German, and are multitracked to give the impression of a small group of male singers. The vocal style is an odd mix of declamatory and yet gentle and hymnal at the same time - it’s closer to folk or classical than anything rock’n'roll.

    ‘Gotterheimat’ features a memorable chorus, and driven along by military snare drum and a subliminal bassline, this could almost be a hit single of sorts. ‘Sangerfahrt’ is based around a simple acoustic guitar chord sequence, strings and choir; and features lyrics taken from Ibsen. A yearning chorus melody and an underlying four-on-the-floor bass drum gives this track remix potential for an imaginative DJ.

    The light melodies, orchestral instrumentation and churchy vocal feel make this a consistently listenable and pleasant album.

    Review: www.cyclicdefrost.com

    Leger des Heils Info:
    Homepage: www.leger-des-heils.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/legerdesheils

    15.) Seelenlicht - "Gods And Devils"

    Great debut!

    Exceptionally creative, the debut from Seelenlicht was a release that I kept coming back to in 2008. Gods And Devils is a superb melding of neoclassical and folk sounds melding with martial tendencies. Great release.

    Seelenlicht is the project of Troy Southgate and Butow Maler. “Gods and Devils” is its first album issued this year on Cold Spring Records. The grey stone-like cover is sober and contrast with both pictures of booklet and CDs that show a green forest and with picture of a dusky landscape... With the comment about Abraxas, the whole gives a mystical and mysterious impression...

    After a repetitive “Prelude”, “Demian” begins really well, setting a very special atmosphere. Ritual/drums percussions, clear acoustic guitars and grinching electric ones, are mixed with trumpets, violins or various synth's sounds. The voice is clear but with a special modification on it. “Diary of Desolation” first part consists of spoken texts together with rather repetitive melodies with instruments such as piano and cello. The point is such a track contrasts with others, for it's ment to put forward the text. Thus the melody is rather used as something ambient and as accompaniment. The second part of the diary follows the same pattern as the first one. But, in addition, several cellos' sounds are present and the rhythm is given by percussions, pleasantly using stereo effect. The tracks turns into something less ambient: electric-guitar-like sounds, light martial drums and female voice complete this clearly progressive track.

    “She Walks in Beauty” has the specific neofolk way of using guitar but is adorned with violins, organ-like or exotic percussion. “Flamme” sounds clearly appear to be synths and aren't that convincing, as well as samples' high-pitched parasite. Although repetitive, this track shows different sounds, a bit more experimental. “Herne the Hunter” is a really calm song with many strings, a main spoken female voice and a male voice singing. Note both male and female voices are good. They remain simple, not searching for difficulties. “Valhalla” is more rhythmical: the fixed syllables, declamation rhythm matches well the drums and other percussions. Yet, the atmosphere isn't that martial, rather solemn, ambivalent, dark... The lyrics are an enumeration of famous names' hypothetical deeds... It suggests about the ideas of the artists.

    “Idle Thoughts on the Janus Shore” consist of two parts. The first one is rather spoken, telling a story, rhythmed by piano and synths, from calmer to more dramatic parts... The second part follows the same pattern in an even more dramatic fashion filled with mythological symbols... “The Modern Saxon” is a more classical (neo)folk song. Very calm, it addresses a vitriolic criticism towards what remains from Saxons in the average British person... In the same vein, the third part of “Diary of Desolation” criticizes several trendy youth social movements. A high clear female voice begins “Love's Final Hour”, telling about love's hazards with dramatic piano, drums, a fixed tempo and melancholic melodies... “Seelenlicht” is the German-sung outro. It takes back many elements and instruments from previous songs, but, maybe in a simplier fashion. As ever, the tempo remains the same and calm prevails mainly because of the slightly whispered lyrics. Some listeners awaiting some apotheosis might however be disappointed.

    Many instruments' sounds are present, building many details. The melodies are usually rich, complex and well-built melodies. Sometimes, we can however wonder whether this abundance is a disadvantage. Maybe it's too much to stay efficient, it may sound a bit over-elaborate. But, we have to mention a track such as “Demian” works perfectly although rich! The strong English accent of Southgate gives something unusual to this album. But, when this is combined with intellectual spoken texts, listener may feel “lectured”, bored or facing some political speech. This might disappoint some listeners who were expecting a music detached from our usual mundane concerns...

    Melancholic, dramatic, solemn or even threatening atmospheres are present. It isn't that martial and usually not really fast: it remains calm and pleasant. Additions of electric guitars or other sounds leave a good impression and keep the tracks perfectly coherent. But some synths' sounds are far less convincing, while others are just perfect. The final outcome is rather mixed, although we can't say it's a bad album. For sure, it deserves a listening. We can highlight the impressive “Demian”: powerful, darker and more mysterious. Seelenlicht may be recommended for fans of H.E.R.R., Sol Invictus, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio etc.

    Review: www.heathenharvest.com

    Seelenlicht Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/seelenlichtmusic

    Listening Suggestions Are Welcome and Encouraged.

    Honorable Mention:

    - Neutral - "Serpents In The Dawn"
    - Narsilion - "Namárië"
    - Orplid - "Greifenherz"
    - Werkraum - "Early Love Music"
    - The Triple Tree - "Ghosts"
    - Krepulec - "Martial Industrial Power With Parabellum In The Hand"
    - Oda Relica - "Czarstvo Dukha"
    - Dark Awake - Meseonas"
    - Svarrogh - "Yer Su"
    - Zr 19.84 - "Frei"
    - Tau Emerald - Travellers Two
    - Edo Notarloberti - "Silent Prayers"
    - The Pride of Wolves - Dawn Of The Wolves
    - Jóhann Jóhannsson - "Fordlandia"
    - Werkraum - Early Love Music
    - Yann Tiersen - "Tabarly"
    - Atrium Carceri - "Souyuan"
    - Ghosts of Breslau - "Sacred Place"
    - Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat - "The Nebulous Dreams" EP
    - Necrophorus - "Moments Of Sleeping Sadness"

    Very Special Thanks To Heathen Harvest.

    Abr 20 2009, 0h43

    Best In Indie, Post-Rock, Electronic & Misc.

    Yes, I do realize that it is April. Whatever.

    1.) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - "Dig Lazarus Dig"

    Despite the fact that Dig Lazarus Dig was a 2008 release, I acquired the record very late in 2007, and even included it among my favorite albums of 2007 in one of my prior journals. However, my appreciation of the album was not complete. Over the course of a year the record has grew on me immensely. Moreover, after witnessing an unforgettable live performance where many of the songs were brilliantly performed by Nick and the Bad Seeds (in PDX on Nick’s birthday) I cannot think of a record that is more deserving of my number one slot here in this journal. Dig Lazarus Dig is an superb combination of rockers, ballads, and experiments while also being among the most challenging listens in Cave’s entire discography. The release is beyond rewarding not only musically but lyrically with standout tracks being “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!,” “Night of the Lotus Eaters,” “Hold On To Yourself,” and “Midnight Man.” Excellent album.

    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Info:
    Homepage: http://www.nickcaveandthebadseeds.com
    MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/nickcaveandthebadseeds

    2.) Peter Broderick - "Home" & "Float"


    Peter Broderick deserves to have two records atop my list. It’s virtually unheard of these days for artists and bands to release more than one record a year, let alone two releases that match the quality and depth of Broderick’s Home and Float. Each release is quite different from the other, with Float being one of the most emotive and beautiful modern classical albums I have heard in recent years. Float, primarily comprised of Broderick’s poignant delivery on the piano and complimented with layers of subtle and despondent string sections effectively conveys a myriad of airy and melancholic sensibilities that are entirely beautiful and mellow. Perhaps what I enjoy most about Float is that it captures a forlorn and beautiful elegance that is mysteriously entrancing but never presumptuous or pretentious in its delivery.

    Personally, I enjoy Broderick’s Home more than anything I have ever heard from Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, Jose Gonzales or any other similar artists for that matter. While the utterly captivating Float would have been enough to consider 2008 a great year for Broderick, he followed it by releasing Home - a mesmerizing, serene and creative folk experience on par with the greatest that Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley had to offer and like no other release I heard in 2008. With Float and Home, Broderick, at the young age of twenty-one is poised to become one of the most important songwriters of his generation.

    Peter Broderick Info
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/peterbroderick

    3.) Déclassé - "Silos"

    With this outstanding sophomore release, the Finnish Déclassé have built upon the rich and dark electronic beats of their debut Remain Still to fashion a stylish and out of the ordinary record that is criminally underrated. Silos is a shadowy and even mysterious record that conveys a sense of mechanic urbanism while still providing a foundation of rhythmic and stomping electronica that is entirely addicting. Tracks like the New Order-esque “Default Values,” the up tempo “She’s A Raver,” as well as “Broken Strings,” and “A Man Of Instant Boredom” were among the finest songs I heard in all of 2008. If people come to their senses, Déclassé is a band that we will be hearing a lot more about in the future. I can’t wait for their third record since I have basically spun their first two into the ground. Finland’s Finest!

    Déclassé Info:
    Homepage: www.declassetheband.com
    MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/declassetheband

    4.) Subheim – “Approach”

    Great debut!

    Subheim is Kostas K., an electronic music composer and a visual artist, originating from Greece and entering the international music scene. Approach is one of the most captivating and significant ambient/IDM/downtempo releases I have heard in quite sometime. Kostas was able to create a truly remarkable soundscape comprised of delicate vocals, unanticipated string sections, and a plethora of multifaceted rhythm compositions using both the tribal and natural sounds of real drums and the electronic glitches of reverb and bass. The ambiance throughout is genuinely personal, intimate, and if listened to closely transports the listener to an entirely different world. Approach is an evocative, memorable and moody release and is relaxing, rewarding, and impressive for a debut album.

    Subheim Info:
    Homepage: http://www.subheim.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/subheimmusic

    5.) God Is An Astronaut - "God Is An Astronaut"

    God Is An Astronaut is the single best post-rock band in existence. Yes, I said it. In my mind, with their self-titled fourth release they have undoubtedly proved this yet again. Every single mesmerizing and crescendo-soaring track is of the utmost quality and is head and shoulders above most of their post-rock peers. What is arguably most astounding about this brilliant Irish band is that they are able to maintain such a level of excellence and continue to release relevant, inventive, and absolutely captivating post-rock with each successive album. This is undoubtedly a superb record that should be in your collection now.

    God Is An Astronaut Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/godisanastronaut

    6.) Lights Out Asia - "Eyes Like Brontide"

    In 2007, I thought that Lights Out Asia’s brilliant sophomore release Tanks and Recognizers was underrated and unappreciated. Things haven’t changed that much with their third exceptional album Eyes Like Brontide. Like God Is An Astronaut, LOA are able to fluently convey a mellow and yet ornate sense of solitude and beauty that few artists can contest. Eyes Like Brontide is a richly interwoven release of crystalline and succinct beats imbedded in airy layers of guitars, reverb, and epic string/synth sections. Chris Schafer’s soaring and emotive vocals compliment the musicianship on breathtaking tracks like “Raders Over The Ghosts Of Chernobyl,” the moving “If I Die, I Wish You A Horrible Death,” the dreamy trip-hop of “Psiu! Puxa!” With Eyes Like Brontide the band have arguably achieved their most monumental and epic moment with the track “Six Points Of Fire.” While I admittedly enjoyed Tanks and Recognizers a bit more, this is an outstanding and beautiful release by one of my favorite post-rock bands.

    Lights Out Asia Info:
    Homepage: www.lightsoutasia.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/lightsoutasia

    7.) Matt Elliott – “Howling Songs”

    If you are not already familiar with Matt Elliott then I would highly recommend the rest of his discography, in particular The Mess We Made, and the exemplary duo of Drinking Songs and Failing Songs. Elliott happens to be one of the most unique and interesting songwriters I have heard in recent years, and his forebodingly experimental folk is something that I ritualistically enjoy with each new album. There is a certain Balkan-esque despondency, perhaps even a self-deprecation and personal anguish on each of his records. Yet, with Howling Songs Elliott pushes his maelstrom of folk and the coalescing of electric guitar, strings and acoustics even further. When listening, his music provides a distressing and cerebral portrait of antique urbanism in early twentieth-century slums and the stories they have to tell. I am never bored listening to a Matt Elliott record, and his newest offering is no exception. However, this record probably isn’t for everyone. Howling Songs emanates an unambiguous and unsettling energy that must be heard to truly appreciate and understand what Elliott is attempting to achieve with his latest masterwork. Excellent release.

    Matt Elliott Info
    Homepage: http://www.thirdeyefoundation.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/mattelliotandthethirdeye

    8.) The Foxglove Hunt - "Stop Heartbeat"

    Great debut!

    This is an exceedingly enjoyable listen. The Foxglove Hunt’s Stop Heartbeat is brimming over with influences from the 80’s New Wave movement, electronic and synth-pop outfits, namely the Pet Shop Boys, New Order, early Depeche Mode and Joy Division. Yet, while the band wears its influences on its sleeve, they also succeed at creating imaginative and catchy danceable tracks that would sound at home on The Breakfast Club soundtrack. Standouts on the album include “A Concealed Weapon,” “The Pure In Heart,” a great cover of “Love My Way,” and my personal fave “The Life Highrise.” Fun stuff.

    The Foxglove Hunt Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/thefoxglovehunt
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/lightsoutasia

    9.) Bohren & der Club of Gore - "Dolores"

    Bohren & der Club of Gore is one of the most out of the ordinary and unusual bands writing music today. There is a stunning and harrowing cinematic beauty in their ambient, dark-jazz and avant-garde approach that is quite simply like nothing else I listen to on a regular basis. While each of their records present a creepy and elegant ensemble, one that is reminiscent of works by Angelo Badalamenti and that makes it feel as if you’ve stepped into a David Lynch film, Dolores is undeniably the bands most sophisticated recording to date. The album is littered with an ominous but almost sexual film noir-esque saxaphone complimenting a vibraharp, strings, and the cavernous and lonely ambiance they achieved on prior releases like Gore Motel and Black Earth. Minimalistically bleak, hauntingly desolate, and very nearly apocalyptic, Bohren & der Club of Gore are at the top of their game. Fascinating record.

    Bohren & der Club of Gore Info:
    Homepage: www.bohrenundderclubofgore.de
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/derclubofgore

    (no more reviews…)

    10.) Nachtmahr - "Feuer Frei!"

    Killer release! Feuer Frei! is one of the finest records I’ve heard in this genre in quite sometime.

    Feuer Frei! is the second album from Nachtmahr, which is the brainchild of Thomas Rainer. Thomas is previously known for his work with L’ame Immortelle and Siechtum. He takes the hard hitting energy, programming experience, and vocal style from his other projects and directs it into his very own Nachtmahr. Following the success of Kunst Ist Krieg, Nachtmahr’s debut release, this proper full length for his solo project has definitely hit the ground running.

    Two tracks were carried over from Nachtmahr’s debut release onto this full length album. One of those tracks happens to be the title track and the other one, “Deus Ex Machina”, is very much a stand out track on the album. This project is a very well executed combination of Rhythmic Noise and Modern EBM with an emphasis on energy and danceability. “Nachtmahr”, “Feuer Frei!”, “Opferzeit”, and “Deus Ex Machina” all have very infectious vocal hooks in the chorus and are the stand out tracks featuring vocals on the album. The vocals are of the distorted variety, much in the vein of Thomas’ vocal work with L’ame Immortelle. Of the “instrumental” tracks “Karusell” really grabs me with the driving and pulsing bassline that’s coupled with a somewhat airy synth line. Another stand out “instrumental” track is “Endzeitstimmung”, the bassbeat in this track could fit just as easily into a high-energy dance track by Underworld. “Endzeitstimmung” is also reminiscent of work by THIS MORN’ OMINA or S.I.N.A.

    Feuer Frei! is an album that can find a home on the dancefloor, in your car, on your iPod, and anywhere else there’s need for a driving beat. Definitely pick up this album if you get the chance, it’s well worth many spins.

    Review: http://poweredbynoise.com

    Nachtmahr Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/nachtmahrprojekt

    11.) Ladytron - "Velocifero"

    Fantastic album. With each successive release Ladytron seems to refine and improve their sound. Loved it.

    Forget predictions of war torn landscapes, space suits and hovering personal transportation. For Liverpool's Ladytron, the future is now. On “Velocifero,” the band’s fourth full-length studio album, rough but solid beats pound and Mira Aroyo’s edgy monotone vocal delivery while warring with the soft side, Helen Marnie’s sweet voice offers a cool contrast. With the help of notable producers like Vicarious Bliss and Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails), Ladytron show that futuristic does not have to imagine 50 years down the road in some desolate world.

    Ladytron offer unexpected treats with “Black Cat” and “Kletva,” where Aroyo delivers Bulgarian lyrics in a steady but mesmerizing robotic monotone over swirling synthesizer melodies. The band shows off a harder sound, especially on "Black Cat," that dares you to cross Aroyo. Marnie, meanwhile, takes control with her smooth and sweet vocals, flying over the pounding beats of “Predict The Day” and the heavily thumping bass on tracks like “Runaway” and “Ghosts” while still giving it a light, sugary coating. The duo’s vocals join on “They Gave You A Heart, They Gave You A Name,” with Aroyo backing Marnie up.

    Since their inception in 2001, Ladytron have quickly garnered attention and praise from critics and fans alike, due in large part to their relentless touring worldwide. Ladytron confidently show off why they are so hotly tipped on “Velocifero” as they manage to deliver solid songs that still sound unique and original. On “Velocifero,” Ladytron layer lush electronics and instrumentation that jumps out at you with its depth and tone.

    Review: http://www.pluginmusic.com

    Ladytron Info:
    Homepage: http://ladytron.nettwerk.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/ladytron

    12.) M83 - "Saturdays = Youth"

    Yet another homage to the 1980’s, M83’s newest album was without a doubt my favorite in their entire discography. Excellent!

    The artwork for M83's excellent fifth album, Saturdays=Youth, features photos of sun-dappled teenagers trying on a half-dozen varieties of rebellious Caucasian beauty. The girl in the picture paired with the lyrics for lead single and album standout "Graveyard Girl" is a dead ringer for Molly Ringwald circa Pretty in Pink. The photo provides support to M83 auteur Anthony Gonzalez's description of the song as a tribute to John Hughes movies—support that comes across as slightly gauche, since the song is perfectly capable of speaking for itself. An ode to the precocious self-involvement of that sweetly storied stereotype, the goth chick, it's awash with post-punky electric guitars and a curiously not irritating children's choir cooing "yeah yeah yeah" at the edge of the mix. It's the kind of work strong enough to be bolstered by a breakdown featuring a female voiceover that concludes, "I'm 15 years old and I feel it's already too late to live. Don't you?" And it's certainly the most typically, successfully pop moment this difficult, often transcendent act has ever produced.

    This record's focus on adolescence is somewhat ironic, because as an artistic statement it's M83's most mature yet. The band's previous albums often eschewed lyrical coherence and formalist pop structures in favor of dense compositions that layered synthesizer tracks ad infinitum. These usually progressed to orgasmic instrumental crescendos, and the effect was often beautiful yet wearying, the aural equivalent of a majestic vista's necessary uphill climb. Saturdays=Youth doesn't take as much work to appreciate. Although many songs still build toward walls of synth that flirt with white noise, the trademark crescendos are both leavened and deepened by being recast as textural objects and woven into lyrical pop songs. "Kim & Jessie," a sweet evocation of the innocence of kids who "have a secret world," restrains its third-act maelstrom particularly effectively. And when the intimately ethereal ballad "Too Late" pulls back from a swell of glittering synthesizers in favor of gentle acoustic piano, it's like hearing lightning bottled. In the context of a fully coherent song cycle, even more traditional long-form exercises in keyboard freakout like the polyrhythmic set piece "Couleurs" evince surprising depth.

    Co-producers Ken Thomas and Ewan Pearson (who've respectively chaired efforts by touchstones the Cocteau Twins and Tracey Thorn) lend the proceedings a certain 1980s air, especially by emphasizing the tense low end beneath all the skyscraping melody. And though analog synthesizer remains definitional of the M83's sound, they open the arrangements to include more naturalistic instrumentation as well. The approach allows this band named for a galaxy to seem more grounded, and yet more universal, than ever before.

    Review: www.slantmagazine.com

    M83 Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/m83

    13.) Digitonal - "Save Your Light For Darker Days"

    I stumbled upon this record by accident, and I am exceedingly thankful that I did. Digitonal have created a stunningly beautiful record that I kept returning to over and over again. I cannot wait until their next release.

    London electronica outfit Digitonal, comprised of London-based producer and instrumentalist Andy Dobson, Egyptian session violinist Samy Bishai and new member, producer Josh Doherty, release their second full length record, 'Save Your Light For the Darker Days', on Just Music Records.

    Album opener ‘Ana Kata’ is like something from a movie soundtrack; it particularly reminds me, in parts at least, of Clint Mansell’s track ‘’Lux Aeterna’ from the 'Requiem For A Dream' original soundtrack – and that’s no bad thing, let me tell you! It doesn’t quite reach the dramatic heights of that particular piece of music (which is not a criticism – ambience is the watchword, here), but it’s pretty stirring, nonetheless, and a gripping introduction to the album as a whole.‘Save Your Light for Darker Days’ will appeal to fans of electronica (obviously) but also to those who enjoy the dramatic soundscapes of the likes of Sigur Ros and Mogwai. In fact, the only reason I can think that you wouldn’t like this album is if you have an inescapable need for vocals, because you won’t find none here, friend.

    ‘Silver Poetry’ is a particular favourite track for me; it builds and builds from tentative strings and percussion into a soaring, blissful high, before slowly breaking back down to silence, piece by piece. I like a track that takes you on a journey, and this one takes you somewhere really nice, like Chessington, or the zoo. I really, really like this album, I think because it reminds me of Tortoise’s 2001 masterpiece, 'Standards', which is one of my favourite records. The other tracks I would point to as the best are ‘Nothing Left to Say’, of which the above comparison is most accurate, and ‘A Lighter Touch’, which has a really great, celebratory feel about it.

    Coming into the last third of the year, there’s nothing better to compliment the autumn period than a bit of ambient electro, and on that basis may I heartily recommend Digitonal’s 'Save Your Light for Darker Days' as the soundtrack to your September.

    Review: www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk

    Digitonal Info:
    Homepage: www.digitonal.com
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/digitonal

    14.) Mar – “The Sound”

    While I enjoyed Mar’s debut The Silence, I did not think that they would follow it with such a splendid and creative release. Mar is a super-group of immensely talented musicians, and I am certain that they have only scratched the surface of their potential. I love The Sound.

    Recorded in a cabin outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the new album by Mar is much more upbeat than their debut and features Bright Eyes’ violinist Anton Patzner and celleist Zoe Keating of Imogen Heap (and, earlier, Rasputina). In contrast, their debut was recorded in Iceland and featured Jimmy Lavalle of The Album Leaf and Black Heart Processional and also Samuli Kosminen of Mum.

    I’ve always heard that Iceland has one of the highest rates of depression among residents and maybe the results of this new album by Mar proves that recording in the States instead has made it a lot less somber than their previous release. Either way, the string arrangements on this album are beautiful, no matter how it happened. In fact, the haunting fragility of these songs adds to their beauty and Mar is able to carry off the songs’ delicate power like pros, although the vocals don’t impress me as much as I would have hoped. Nonetheless, you will be hearing a lot about this band. Be prepared to fall under their spell.

    Review: http://rockandrollreport.com

    Mar Info:
    Homepage: http://www.ringroadrecords.com/
    MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/silenticeland

    15.) Mono in VCF – “Mono In VCF”

    Great debut!

    Mono In VCF’s debut was one of the most rewarding listens of 2008. I have heard very few records that were able to capture such a cunning genre coalescing and retro-ambiance with such clever and ingenious tact as Mono In VCF have done. Highly original, the band melds Grace Slick and Nancy Sinatra with a distinctive New Wave elegance. This band has an extremely bright future.

    On its debut self-titled album, Tacoma, Washington’s Mono In VCF creates a mammoth wall of sound that Tom Scanlon of the Seattle Times describes as “drifting leisurely in space somewhere between psychedelic Beatles and Massive Attack.” The sound is a haunting and orchestral brand of pop derived from various influences traced back to the decade of recording experimentation: The psychedelic 60s.

    Songwriting duties belong to guitarist/organist Hunter Lea. Lea taps bassist Jordan Luckman for his own music and bass lines multiple times on the debut album. The two have been creating art together for the past five years and discovered singer Kim Miller in 2006. In reviews, Miller’s voice has been likened to Dusty Springfield, Madonna and Nancy Sinatra.

    With roughly half the album tracking done at the VCF home studio in Tacoma, the band went into Jupiter Studios Seattle in May 2007 with British producer Martin Feveyear signed on to produce with Lea. In the past, Feveyear has worked with R.E.M., Queens of the Stone Age and Mark Lanegan among others. In the mixing stage, the two utilized discreet panning proven successful by George Martin and the Beatles but rarely used on modern albums. This gives the record an elaborate space and helps to make Mono In VCF one of the most defined debuts in recent history; an anomaly for the modern pop music landscape. Lea and Luckman recruited their idol, Canadian pop legend Terry Jacks (“Seasons in the Sun”, The Poppy Family) to contribute backing vocals on two songs on the debut record.

    Influenced by film, composer scores, cinematography and Rod Serling almost as much as old Delfonics and Lee Hazlewood vinyls, the band creates a sound and mystique that pays homage while turning the classic sound and vision into something brand new and entirely refreshing. With roots deep in 60s psychedelia and soul, Mono In VCF sets forth with a debut album full of heavy and ethereal moods. These are pop scores made for the dark.

    Review: http://cdbaby.com
    Mono In VCF Info:
    MySpace: www.myspace.com/monoinvcf

    Honorable Mention:

    - Alaska In Winter - "Holiday"
    - Piano Magic - "Dark Horses" EP
    - Russian Circles - "Station"
    - Talkdemonic - "Eyes At Half Mast"
    - Fleet Foxes - "Fleet Foxes"
    - Blitzen Trapper - "Furr"
    - Calexico - "Carried to Dust"
    - Black Keys - "Attack and Release"
    - Veil Veil Vanish - "Into A New Mausoleum" EP
    - Tzolk'in - "Haab'"
    - The Notwist - "The Devil, You + Me"
    - The Helio Sequence - "Keep Your Eyes Ahead"
    - Klimt 1918 - "Just In Case Well Never Meet Again"
    - The Dresden Dolls - "No, Virginia"
    - Mirror - "Mirror"
    - Gentle Touch - "In Memory of Savannah"
    - Maps - "The Wick And The Fire"
    - Detektivbyrån - "Wermland"
    - Steven Wilson - "Insurgentes"
    - Blackfilm - "Blackfilm"
    - Shearwater - "Rook"
    - Viarosa - "Send For The Sea"