Sunday, April 27, 2008

Norsk Svart Metall Compilation

Norsk Svart Metall- Compilation

(Godreah Records)

So many black metal bands of all subgenres now proliferate throughout the world from so many different countries that it becomes all too easy to forget that the creative explosion of black metal’s second wave began in Norway. Now more than fifteen years past the seminal events of the early ‘90s that led to such a creative outburst that far outstripped black metal’s primitive beginnings from only a few bands in the mid ‘80s, Norwegian black metal still holds an exalted status in the minds of many. Other countries’ scenes may be considered to be more artistically vibrant nowadays (France, in particular, and, I’ll get slammed for this, the U.S.), but Norway’s classic acts are still considered to be the standard.

Unless you’re still really paying attention to the Norwegian scene (other than just picking up the latest releases from Gorgoroth, Mayhem, etc.), you may miss out on some lesser known acts that are creatively constructing black metal and pushing the genre forwards. Certainly, the good people at Godreah Records have been paying attention and have put together an album that is described as a compilation of Norway’s third wave of black metal, a fresh look at the creative underground of the country.

The twelve tracks compiled on “Norsk Svart Metall” have all been released elsewhere, but may be quite difficult to find. Some of the acts appearing here are probably familiar to most serious black metal fans, such as Taake, Urgehal, and Koldbrann, but, in addition to those bands, others such as LJA, Hordagaard, Abomino Aetas, and the like have garnered less notice. “Norsk Svart Metall” is the perfect opportunity to explore Norwegian black metal horizons.

The vast majority of the tracks presented here are concentrating upon the raw black metal subgenre typified by such classic bands as Darkthrone, mid-period Burzum, and Gorgoroth. Raw ferocity combined with mild atmospherics through droning riffs, layered rasps, and simple drum patterns with rolls and fills are the norm here, as the compilation is devoid of the symphonic and dark ambient subgenres.

Track list:

1. Taake - Voldtekt
2. LJA - Et Barn Er Dodt I Bethlehem
3. Urgehal - DĂždsmarsj Til
4. Forgotten Woods - A Land Mine Reprisal
5. Hordagaard - Pure Satanic Hate
6. Abomino Aetas - Nocturnal Legion
7. Beastcraft - Burnt At His Altar
8. Isarnheimr - Livlost
9. Koldbrann - Sions Fall
10 Mord - Opus V1
11. Deathcult - Anti Human - Anti Life
12. Krypt - I Am God

All of the tracks presented here are of excellent quality and will, no doubt, motivate me to investigate further some of the bands that I wasn’t familiar with prior to obtaining this compilation. That, of course, is the whole point of a compilation and “Norsk Svart Metall” comes highly recommended. Buy or die.

Sorry, song removed.

A History Of Norwegian Black Metal

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

L.A. Murderfest Review!!

L.A. Murderfest 4.0

Bands: Too numerous to name

Date: April 19th, 2008

Venue: The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, California.

Round two for the week consisted of the Saturday show of the L.A. Murderfest at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood. The fourth incarnation of this festival of a slew of death metal bands, this was the first version that I had attended, and on my fortieth birthday no less. With this review, I’m going to just give you an impression of each band that I saw.

Fighting my way through the horrendous traffic, I arrived to catch the last few moments of local, bizarrely corpse painted Aztec warriors, Mictlantecuhtli on the front stage, which has absolutely atrocious sound. The band showed some energy for the song that I caught. I went to the main stage area next (much better sound, to say the least) to catch the last couple of songs from the recently reformed (at least, for this show) doom act Morgion. Overall, Morgion were quite good with a clear sound and an appreciative crowd. By the way, the Knitting Factory was absolutely jammed from the time that I arrived at about 6:15 PM.

Abysmal Dawn were next on the front stage and delivered a great set of death metal with a good pit opening up in the packed crowd. It’s too bad that there is such a wide dichotomy in the quality of sound between the front and main stage areas, and you definitely get the impression that bands performing on the front stage are getting shortchanged. Case in point is Sepsism, up next on the main stage after a brief look at pornogrind weirdos The Meat Shits (not bad if you’re really into misogyny), just finishing their set after I watched Abysmal Dawn. The last time that I had seen Sepsism was also at the Knitting Factory, but in the front stage area. They were much better this time, and I suspect that’s entirely due to the much better sound of the main stage. Sepsism were tight, fast, and brutal. Excellent.

I hung around and moved up to the front of the main stage area for Waco Jesus, who delivered an absolutely killer set with an enormous pit opening up. Absolutely brutal and my favorite act of the night. Next up were Bay Area gore masters Impaled at the front stage complete with fire breathing, uniforms with ties and nerd glasses, silly string, and M&M’s masquerading as drugs for the crowd. Gore metal hilarity at its finest.

Hot on their heels were Monstrosity, whom I had been looking forward to, but they just bored the Hell out of me after two slow songs with a lackluster degree of enthusiasm. That was just fine, though, as legends Repulsion were just opening up in the main stage area. Absolutely awesome with enthusiasm and a hilarious frontman in legend Scott Carlson (he repeatedly took pictures of the crowd during the set, telling us that he was going to email them to his mother). These guys had a huge influence on the beginnings of death metal and grindcore, and they delivered in spades. They even threw in a couple of Slaughter, Venom and Entombed covers. Wow!

Headlining on the front stage were Vital Remains and, despite the lack of Glen Benton and the poor sound, delivered the goods with a spot on, technical performance. The crowd went absolutely nuts during “Dechristianize”. These guys are definitely on my list of bands to see in a proper manner.

The legendary Massacre were up next with old school death metal on the main stage, and a performance that was getting a bit of a mixed reaction from the crowd. Although Massacre were quite good, Kam Lee has a bit of a tendency to ramble and pontificate, and the show was already behind schedule. But, keep in mind that we were watching, besides Kam Lee, legends such as Terry Butler performing here.

By this time, the time was 1AM or so, and I bailed out before Entombed. Yeah, I know, that was probably dumb, but I was exhausted after 7 hours of fighting my way through the crowds, the pits, the stench, the overflowing urinals and toilets, and the stifling heat of the Knitting Factory.

Couple of items worth mentioning. First, there were some metal luminaries in the crowd, notably the huge presence of Gene Hoglan. Also, the author of “Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore”, Albert Mudrian, was there (nice guy) along with Decibel Magazine. I hung out with fellow blogger/ prolific scribe Cosmo Lee (he of Invisible Oranges) throughout the evening and we had a great time. The merchandise tables were overflowing as well as the vendors completely taking over the Alterknit Lounge area. Tony Koehl, noted death metal artist, was also there with artwork on display as well as a painting in progress.

Here's the usual crap...


Waco Jesus




Waco Jesus


Vital Remains

The t-shirt haul...

Next up... Paganfest!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

An Icy Blast Of Northern Darkness... Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, And Keep Of Kalessin Review!!

Bands: Dimmu Borgir/ Behemoth/ Keep Of Kalessin

Date: April 16, 2008

Venue: The Grove, Anaheim, California

An icy blast of Northern darkness slams into sunny Southern California in the form of a monstrous three-band bill. The degree of anticipation was high for the appearance of Dimmu Borgir with support from Behemoth and Keep Of Kalessin. You had better believe that I wasn’t going to pass this one up! So, with a hearty cry of “I’m going to Disneyland!” I headed out to Anaheim for this sold out show on a Wednesday night.

The Grove in Anaheim is a mid-size theater that may become the theater of choice that replaces The Galaxy, a venue that had hosted metal shows in Orange County for a long period prior to that venue’s recent closing. Unfortunately, The Grove shares its parking lot with The Big “A” where the Angels play baseball, and a game was going on that night, as well. Yet another traffic nightmare in a place where traffic has become a contact sport.

At any rate, Keep Of Kalessin hit the stage right at 8 PM and proceeded to fly through a half hour set, consisting mostly of a few songs from “Armada”, as well as a new song from their upcoming full-length entitled “Kolossus”. I had been greatly impressed with “Armada” with its lightning fast guitar work, but was somewhat disappointed by the band’s set as the guitars were turned down too low in the mix, and there was a moment or two of sloppy musicianship. In short, Keep Of Kalessin wasn’t as nearly as tight as I would have liked. Maybe they had a bit of an off night.

Next up was Behemoth, whom I haven’t seen since the “Demigod” touring cycle from two or so years ago. I had seen Behemoth as the support a couple of times during that period, once at The Galaxy, and I wasn’t all that impressed. However, Behemoth’s performance this night was by far the best that I’ve seen from the band. Extremely high energy, incredible musicianship and clarity of sound, and a great, confident stage presence were all on display as Behemoth just ripped through a 45 minute set. A huge, violent pit opened up immediately with the band hitting the stage and did not abate for the entire performance. I was highly impressed by Behemoth tonight and the comments afterward from the people around me indicated that most felt that this was the best performance they’ve yet seen from the band. Awesome.

Between Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir, the house music was some dark ambient from Vinterriket, I believe, instead of the usual Sepultura/ Metallica, etc. playlist that you usually hear in between bands around California. That set the mood for Dimmu Borgir as the crowd quietly watched the crew change over to Dimmu Borgir’s stage with plenty of pentagrams on display. Finally, with a hush, the house lights dim as smoke begins to fill the stage. Orchestral music begins as Satanic, robed figures slowly walk the stage with incense. To a huge roar, Dimmu Borgir hit the stage and the huge pit that I mentioned immediately starts up again.

As you would expect from a skilled, professional act with a dominating presence in metal, Dimmu Borgir did not disappoint with an 80 minute set of tight musicianship, high energy, and a set list covering their mid-period to recent discography. Hired hand Tony Laureano, whom I’ve seen with at least three different bands now over the last few years, filled in quite nicely for the absent Hellhammer, and hit the songs with a high degree of precision.

Overall, yet another great show for us here in Southern California with many more shows to come in the near future. Next up for me is the L.A. Murderfest 4.0 at the Knitting Factory tonight!

Here are the usual photos and videos...

Keep Of Kalessin...


Dimmu Borgir

The t-shirt haul...

Keep Of Kalessin


Dimmu Borgir

L.A Murderfest tonight...

Thanks, Skull!!

A giant...


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Kreator: At The Pulse Of Kapitulation Review

The new DVD release from Kreator, "At The Pulse Of Kapitulation", was recently reviewed by Marco Gaminara at Live 4 Metal. However, I also received a promo copy from SPV, so I'm posting my review here...

Kreator- At The Pulse Of Kapitulation


In November, 1989, the world changed as the Berlin Wall came down and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) would soon re-unify with the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) as Communism in Eastern Europe collapsed. German thrash metal titans Kreator would soon wade into the uncertainty of the months that followed by headlining a four-band bill in East Berlin in March, 1990. At the time, there was an active, underground metal scene in East Germany, and elsewhere in the Eastern bloc, that was being kept alive by truly dedicated fans living under very trying circumstances, to say the least. To be witness to a great show, consisting of Kreator, Tankard, Coroner, and Sabbat, would be a treat just about anywhere, but in East Berlin, an event of this magnitude takes on special meaning and was, undoubtedly, a cathartic experience to those East Berliners in attendance. Naturally, Kreator filmed their set and released it as “Live In East Berlin” on VHS in 1990.

In 2008, Kreator is taking a break after extensive touring to support their last studio album, “Enemy Of God”. To tide everyone over before the titans awaken again with a new album and world tour in 2009, “Live In East Berlin” has been re-mastered by Andy Sneap, re-packaged with a few extras, and is now re-released on DVD as “At The Pulse Of Kapitulation: Live In East Berlin 1990”. The concert consists of 15 songs covering Kreator’s discography from “Endless Pain” through “Extreme Aggression”, the band’s last studio album prior to the filming in East Berlin. Although professionally filmed, the video is somewhat grainy in quality, but the audio track is excellent and results in crystal clear sound. Highlights of the show itself include “Riot Of Violence” with Ventor on vocals, “Terrible Certainty”, “Pleasure To Kill”, and a ton of other classics. Although Mille Petrozza describes the energy of the show in the liner notes, a sense of this vibe is somewhat lacking from the concert footage itself. The DVD is packaged with an audio CD of the concert in full.

A great addition to the concert is the inclusion of “The Past And Now”, a short documentary consisting of interviews of German rock journalists and metal fans, most from East Germany, and all of whom attended the show. Andy Sneap also gets a few moments. The interviews present a fascinating look into the metal underground that existed while the Iron Curtain was still in place. Details are given about how copies of albums, merchandise, t-shirts, etc. were obtained, as well as a taste of what it was like to be listening to metal while living under a totalitarian regime. Also included on the DVD is a re-edited version of “Hallucinative Comas”, a short, promotional horror film consisting mostly of videos filmed for “Coma Of Souls”. Previously, this film was only available on VHS.

Certainly, Kreator fans will definitely want to snap this up. As for me, my interest in Kreator has been up and down over the years (in my opinion, the band’s peak was “Pleasure To Kill”, for sheer ferocity), and the film provided a welcome chance to get re-acquainted with some old classics.