Panopticon – Kentucky


This seems to be closer to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ than to Slayer or Celtic Frost! It is a bleak, cold landscape, harsh times and hard men as they strive to eke out a living in the mining towns to provide for their families and to survive the stern business owners. This fifth album for Panopticon forges black metal coldness with folk and Americana of the locality it is describing and is being re-released by Bindrune Recordings and Nordvis Produktion at an optimum time just as Paris Accords, fossil fuels and changing climates are top news.
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Folkvangr Records Spring update

Folkvanrgr Records are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Become one of the folk.

Chiral – Gazing Light Eternity

‘Gazing Light Eternity’ by Chiral is a slow burning atmospheric black metal piece by Italian one man outfit. Mixing the majestic Wolves in the Throne Room sprawling sound with tight Burzumic pounding and lead guitars that elevate the sound that much higher than organic howling black metal. Folkvangr are releasing this on a strictly limited cassette run which includes an additional track.

There’s something rather cosmic and kosmiche about the tunes, ‘The Haze’ certainly is a trippy keyboard piece interlaid with dialogue, as if I am listening in to a conversation that I am not privy to. ‘The Crown’ returns the guitar to the driving seat, as I feel I am wandering lost in a dark, cold forest. Chiral balance the ambience and the fierce, the beauty and the danger to an organic orgiastic effect.
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Fragile Branch releases.

Great oaks grow from tiny acorns…. and with this crop of fine releases a fragile branch soon becomes a tremendous forest!

Vials of Wrath - Cover1
Vials of Wrath offer us a blend of theatrical blackened ambience alongside more traditional black metal with a nature themed content, however we are led to believe by the biog that it discusses the ideas around a supreme being creating the flora and fauna. An interesting concept for this genre, as it’s not the overt satanic, or anti-Christian themes, nor does it appear to be the neo pagan ‘back to nature’ ethos of Wolves in the Throne Room and their ilk. More like ’marvel at your environment and think about our interaction with these surroundings and what power created it all’ Is this the first Intelligent Design black metal offering?

Musically it is very controlled and vastly competent. A balance of beauty and chaos; whether it is the atmospheric ambient electronics, or the emotive highs and lows of the guitar work, it bubbles over the deeper, darker bass and drum work that elude to the chaos within, packaged together with the gurgling strangulation styled vocals. Another way of representing the energies of nature, beautiful chaos!
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Death of Kings – Kneel Before None

DoK-KBN Album cover


Not so new boys on the block, Regicidal Tendencies, I mean Death of Kings are due to bring forth ‘Kneel Before None’ and let it loose on the world. Thrash, what an adrenalin rush… and the opening track ‘Shadow of the Reaper’ opens with some trademark thrash notes, double barrelled guitar interplay and screaming vocals. Only a few months after they released the Hell Comes to Life 7” we have the follow up LP, and it doesn’t disappoint.
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“Who ordered the Pan of Phage to go?”

 Panphage           Inlaysheet.eps

Re-issues galore here for Panphage fans. Nordvis are looking after all your gloomy gothic needs with re-releasing two classic early releases by Panphage. Their debut ‘Storm’ and split with Thul gets a wider release as they were previously a cassette only deals. ‘Storm’ breaks us in gently with an ambient intro of ‘Lugnet’ to be soundly woken from slumber with the Swedish strong vocal punchy style, as if barking order to you in the title track.

There is a strong Scandinavian funeral doom feel to this with tracks like ‘Frusna Varsel’, along with dark blackened European overtones of vocal approach with the odd Tom Warrior style ‘Ugh’ thrown in. ‘Hemmavid’ and ‘Forfader’ brings out a more traditional 80s black metal vein of Panphage, simplistic, in yer face slice of dark horror coupled with the majestic orchestration to keep up the excitement! And we close on ‘Fenomen’ another ambient piece to book end the album.
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Folking around with Folkvangr records

Folvangr Records have got some folking excellent album releases this spring. Selvans offer a hybrid mix of guttural blackened metal with light folk touches aiding their aim for atmospheric tales of folklore. Synths are used to recreate sounds of strings and orchestral accompaniment to the buzzing guitar and floating flutes. This album ‘Lupercalia’ was due for release in 2015, but now sees the light of day on a cassette release.
During the 60 minutes of music we travel through eons of time charting the differing peoples who have populated Selvans native Italy. So, a history lesson in itself, delivered by pounding drums, widdling guitars and throat warbling growls. At times it touches the symphonic black metal areas, as it isn’t afraid to incorporate grandiose ideas in to its canon. But the guttural scream is not far away to ground it back into the dark forests of bygone times. Like the soundtrack to Sam Raimi directing Shakespeare’s Macbeth!

Sojourner, from the other side of the world, New Zealand, offer a far tighter technical approach to their black metal with their album ‘Empires of Ash’. To me, it is less organic and more scientific as the drums, super-fast drums at times, berate the listener, the vocals are metred in an orderly fashion and the breaks punctuate the barrage with soft woodwind rest periods. It is very clean, along the lines of recent Saor album ‘Guardians’ in a very controlled environment. Their mix of quiet and loud is well balanced, however a little more variety in the noisy parts would keep my attention longer.
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Merchant Beneath

merchant_convert.jpgBlack Bow records have done it again. That’s it, that’s all you need to know. Black Bow are becoming like Earache Records was like back in the 80s when you knew you could trust them.

Merchant are from Melbourne, Australia. A four piece that break down the doors of perception with their very own sludgehammer! Slow and low, like Conan or Monolord, and tantalising our inner ears with slight diversions of warping effects leading in to bludgeoning psyche out territory. Brown acid trips galore, baked out dry on a deserted highway with only the ghost of Lemmy as company. I mention him as second track ‘Succumbing’ reminds me of ‘Orgasmatron’ played at the wrong slow speed.

Speed, now I mention it, Merchant deliver an amphetamine comedown, that drawn out feeling of a weekend spent in five minutes and the next five days of hangover and repair before the next weekend hits.

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