Review- Countess- Fires of Destiny

The Dutch (Black Metal) Renaissance

While innovation is ever-present in Extreme Music, there are only a select few groups that can pair this innovation with homage of the utmost fidelity to their predecessors, achieving a beautiful feat of musical excellence. Countess, one of the first Metal bands to hail from The Netherlands, has been doing just that for over twenty years.

Their most recent effort, the independently-released “Fires of Destiny”, showcases their signature blend of First Wave-style Black Metal and Traditional Heavy Metal in a most epic manner with songs like the monumental title track, the entrancing “See the Ravens Fly”, and the behemoth that is “Runenlied”.

Followers of Heavy/Power Metal pioneers, like Manowar and Manilla Road, as well as early Black Metal outfits, such as Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Bathory, will immediately enjoy the music of Countess. However, what separates Countess from such bands is that they use various elements of each of these groups in order to make their own, unique sound.

This results in a commendably-primitive version of Second Wave Swedish Black Metal which is comparable to groups like the renowned Nifelheim. Moreover, Countess also incorporates ambient, progressive, folk-influenced acoustic interludes at times, reminiscent of Norwegian Black Metal bands Satyricon and Enslaved.

Of course, a band following all of the concepts aforementioned is bound to make formidable music, and the group’s most tenured member, Orlok (vocals, bass), did so by himself for most of the band’s existence, sometimes joined by Zagan (guitars). But, as of 2014, Countess is a full cohesive unit, currently featuring Häxa (keyboards) and Mortüüm (drums), in addition to Orlok and Zagan.

As a consequence of this, Countess is more tuned-in than ever and is now playing live again.

 

Dates can be found on the band website: https://countessmetal.bandcamp.com/

 

And although “Fires of Destiny” was released independently, physical copies can be found at the Barbarian Wrath Records Shop here:

http://www.witchesbrewthrashes.eu/shop/

 

The rest of their information is as follows:

Twitter- https://twitter.com/CountessMetal?lang=en

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/CountessMetal/

Youtube- https://www.youtube.com/user/countessmetal

Review- Blatta- Ghast

Layers upon Layers

A one-man Atmospheric, Depressive Black Metal project straight from the heart of Münster, Germany, Blatta has progressed a long way and re-defined what it means to be a German Black Metal band. Blatta’s most recent effort, an independently released demo entitled “Ghast”, takes its music to another level, in terms of atmosphere.

Arisas, the sole member, is dedicated to writing massively-layered compositions that fans will even find comparable to those of the great Nortt. In fact, I contacted him recently and asked what some of his influences were and how his songs come to be, and he cited Xasthur, Leviathan, I Shalt Become, Mutiilation, and a relatively new band named Byyrth as his major inspirations. But it did not stop there.

He reflected, “not just music inspires me… I live in a very small town and… it’s really depressing here. The people, the atmosphere… the streets in general,” showing that even his every-day surroundings are fuel for his creativity. He continued, saying “The songwriting process begins with a basic idea, [it] could be a riff or a vocal melody,” and from there he “layers a lot of guitars [in order to] make it feel like the sound is buried underground”.

This said process yields tremendous results, which are ostensible throughout “Ghast”, from its pensive, ambient stages to its roaring, atmospheric riffs, exposing the listener to a miasma of deep, dark depression. Blatta will likely not tour this year, but Arisas plans to build further upon the musical accomplishments of “Ghast” and will independently release a split album with Putrescence in the near future. This album will feature even more layers of guitars than ever before, as well as some Burzum-inspired riffs, so stay tuned!

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/officialblatta/

Bandcamp: https://blatta.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Blatta-1300526236656326/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChqI95RIv3dJEbQ8vpAdRug

Review – Dead Limbs – Spiritus/Sulphur

Another Triumph for Brazil

The mysterious, intriguing group from Brazil, Dead Limbs, combines several influences in order to form a unique brand of Atmospheric Black Metal. Its members, Asclepius, Saturnus, and Poimandres, are deeply inspired by Greek Mythology, Hermetic Philosophy and the Souls video game series. Each of these contributed to a story the band wrote titled “The Ash Seeketh Embers”, the remnants of which morphed into the creative impetus for their album “Spiritus/Sulphur”.

A work of brilliant orchestration and beautifully coherent instrumentation, the album contains an overflowing cauldron of different styles, appealing to fans of Burzum, Summoning, Taake, and Blut Aus Nord. At times, the music even resembles the slow, acoustic elements of Opeth, as well as the epic, somewhat gothic aspects of Rotting Christ’s “Triarchy of the Lost Lovers”.

By bringing together these varying motifs, a blend of mainly Norwegian, Austrian, and French Black metal come to life, making riffs reminiscent of each of these scenes, all while sustaining that Brazilian flare that so many legendary bands possess i.e. Sepultura, Sarcófago, Krisiun, Vulcano, and so many others.

Also adding to this band’s greatness are the vocals, ranging from echoing whispers to melodic chants to powerful yells and shrieks which would move even the most weathered of Black Metal fans. They bring together the unprecedented atmosphere of Dead Limbs, perfectly complementing the riffs and ambiance of the music.

This album deserves any and all high praise which comes its way, as they are more than worthy of it.

 

Bandcamp: https://dead-limbs.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deadlimbs/

Now available on Northern Silence Productions

Review – Black Pestilence – Carry On The Black Flame

Spreading the Pestilence

Driven by Valax’s thundering bass and vocals, Black Pestilence has been a force with which to be reckoned ever since its inception in 2008. Suitable for fans of Marduk, Toxic Holocaust, and Inquisition, their latest effort “Carry on the Black Flame (EP)”, featuring Little V (drums, backing vocals) and Viktor (guitar), is a magnificent barrage of Blackened Punk.

Each song consists of unique riffs (often in the vein of Punk with a Black Metal sound) which utilize different octaves and voicings in order to make a more full sound, rather than repeating the exact same chords. At times, there are melodic leads, usually with harmonies, over the riffs, creating more of a technical aspect and an extreme quality of structure, all the while contributing to their inimitably heavy sound.

On top of that, Little V’s rhythmically creative drumming and Valax’s clever use of electronic samples make Black Pestilence’s sound one of the most dynamic that I have ever heard. In fact, one of the biggest reasons why Black Pestilence has such a dynamic sound is Valax’s songwriting structure and orchestration.

This is put on full display at the start of the fourth track “Rise for Satan”— it starts with a slow, epic riff, accompanied by electronic noise samples. This riff steadily comes to a halt as it strips down to a stand-alone guitar melody and eventually to a brief silence, broken by the words “rise for Satan”. At that point, each of the instruments come in at a full speed attack in a way that only Black Pestilence can.

Their music can be found at: https://blackpestilence.bandcamp.com

And their contact information is as follows:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/blackpestilenceband
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/blackpestilenceband
Twitter – https://twitter.com/BlackPestilence
E-mail- blackpestilenceband@hotmail.com

Review – Deeper Vileness – Daemonolatria (Demo)

A Visit to Hell

Many people who are not inclined to extreme music (or even genuinely fear it) will often say that it “sounds like Hell”. Myself, I have never had such feelings for extreme music; that is, until I heard Deeper Vileness’s demo “Daemonolatria”. It sounded like Hell and in the most extravagant way possible.

Written and played by Kadesh (vocals, guitars, keys) and Hades (drums), this recording was the third demo in a series by the band, who have been dubbed a “Necro Dungeon” group, and rightfully so. Their style of Black Metal is distinctly evil, utilizing dark atmospheric, as well as ambient, elements juxtaposed with utterly raw sections of full-on, in-your-face Black Metal in order to create a figurative “dungeon” for the listener.

What I find most commendable about this structure is that each of the constituents seamlessly shift from one to the other, which allows the “dungeon” atmosphere to never miss a beat throughout the whole of the demo, showing just how thoughtfully each of the compositions were made.

The more ambient parts of the music are centered on Kadesh’s keyboard work, which consists of complex melodies and motifs, often sounding like an organ in a deep, haunting chamber. As the music shifts to the sound of the full ensemble, the vintage lo-fi production (masterfully done by Sliabh) kicks in, Hades unleashes relentless blast beats straight from Hell, and Kadesh’s ripping guitar riffs and vocals are at full-throttle, making a sound reminiscent of early Horna and Archgoat— an onslaught of Finnish-style, raw chord progressions, despite Deeper Vileness being from Berlin.

 

When it all comes down to it, I would recommend this demo, and this band in general, to any and all Black Metal fans. I guarantee that it will be an enthralling experience.

Bandcamp: https://deepervileness.bandcamp.com/

Review – For All Tides – The Gate Between Life and Death (DEMO)

Profoundly Morbid Visions

Recently, I came upon a one-man German Black Metal project through Instagram named For All Tides. Immediately, I knew I was onto something special. Alex Stieben, a young man of seventeen years from Olpe, Germany, is the sole member of For All Tides. His demo, “The Gate between Life and Death” (which features the vocals of Arisas of the German Black Metal outfit Blatta on the track “Armageddon”), is a masterful work of Black art, reminiscent of the early Norwegian Black Metal scene.

His methodical use of chilling chord progressions and dynamic tremolo-picked guitar riffs is evoking of bands like Mayhem, Satyricon, Darkthrone, and Immortal. In fact, when I spoke to Alex on Instagram, he particularly cited Darkthrone as a big influence on this demo. In describing how each of these songs came to be, he said that he started by recording and playing several original riffs which he called “dirty riffs,” primitive, dark riffs which were meant to pay tribute to vintage Black Metal’s sinister nature.

His songs were created around these “dirty riffs”, and what I thought was amazing about these riffs is that they had so much life and texture to them— the riffs were raw in nature, yet quite progressive in structure, blending numerous notes within each moment and utilizing variations of enthralling melodies.

It sounded like a much more developed taste, compared to many recent Black Metal bands that are in pursuit of the same aesthetic. To any fan of early Norwegian Black Metal, news like this is exciting. However, what makes it more exciting is that Alex is incorporating more atmospheric elements as he progresses his sound in preparation for his upcoming album of the same name as his demo. He says this comes as a result of being more and more influenced by Burzum. When asked if he is going to tour as For All Tides, he stated that it would likely not happen this year, but it could happen in the future. All in all, Alex Stieben is making great music, and his debut full-length has a lot about which to be excited.