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Ondskapt – Grimoire Ordo Devus (Black Metal)

There are probably few seasoned black metal fans who don’t know of the name Ondskapt, who have been going for 20 years this year. While only one original member remains in Acerbus he decided to keep the Luciferian act alive when bringing Gefandi Ör Andlät on bass (Dys Inbunden, ex-Mephorash), Daemonum Subeunt on drums (Claymords, Sterbhaus, ex-Netherbird) and J.Megiddo (Marduk, In Aeternum, ex-Shining, ex-Degial) on guitars together to give us the fourth full-length album from the band 10 years after their latest offering, Arisen from the Ashes. Obviously this raises some questions, does the band still hold strong after 10 years from the scene and have all these line-up changes hurt them along the way?

First of let me start with saying I personally think Ondskapt has released one of the best black metal albums ever with Dödens Evangelium back in 2005. That album was a masterpiece, a complete package, and I spin it a lot even today. While the 2010 release Arisen from the Ashes was a solid album I didn’t think it was quite close to the levels Ondskapt reached on the album prior. I didn’t know what to expect from Grimoire Ordo Devus, would Ondskapt continue to lower their quality (granted could still be a good album, as Ondskapt got no bad ones) of get back on track with these line-up changes and a lot of time to work on a new album?

A mix of both it would turn out to be. New life seems to have been given Ondskapt as I feel in love with the evil atmosphere that’s surrounding the album from the very start, the mix is on point too, and this old demon seems to have some fire left. It doesn’t burn as bright as Dödens Evangelium (almost nothing does though) but it’s better than I’d hoped it would be truth be told as I did fear this could become a nail in the coffin, that’s not the case. There are some lows such as “Opposites” and “Possession” which are quite the snooze in my book and I actually skip those songs all together after a few spins with the album. On the other spectrum songs like “Ascension” and “Paragon Belial” stands tall though and finds their way high up the Ondskapt tiers overall.

As stated I didn’t have that high hopes for Grimoire Ordo Devus due to various reasons but this turns out be a very good album even with its flaws. I hope we don’t have to wait ten years for the next album and that they can build on this release to reach the levels I know Ondskapt can reach. Celebrating 20 years of black metal worship is a big deal and while the celebration might not be as grand as I think it could be it’s still a damn good party. For those who loves occult black metal this will surely be a treat for your ears where fans of Ondskapt can make a statement they are back in style, but it’s probably not something you bring up in your album of the year talks.

Artist: Ondskapt
Label: Osmose Productions
Release date: November 27th, 2020
Favorite track: Paragon Belial
For fans of: Watain & Ofermod
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Ondskapt
https://www.facebook.com/ondskaptofficial/
http://www.ondskapt.com/

Osmose Productions
https://www.facebook.com/osmoseproductions/
https://twitter.com/osmoseprod
https://www.instagram.com/osmoseproductions/
https://www.osmoseproductions.com/
https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/

Puteraeon – The Cthulhian Pulse: Call From the Dead City (Death Metal)

One of the finest swedeath bands around in my opinion is Puteraeon. They’ve crushed the scene with every release so far where their Cthulhu worshiping death metal is played loud and proud at The Metal Gamer ever so often.

The intro “Horror in Clay” gets you pumped up straight from the get go with the buzz-sawing guitars swiftly leading into “The Sleeping Dread”. Here you get that perfect blend of brutality and catchy hooks that swedeath is known for and Puteraeon performs to perfection. The Cthulhian Pulse brings life to the Lovecraft universe with the small sound cue’s that adds to the atmosphere of utter horror and despair. While it’s an obvious old school swedeath vibe at the very core I think Puteraeon does a fine job to keep that intact while exploring new elements to their music, which can be heard on tracks like “Into the Watery Grave” and “Call of R’lyeh”. The band is not afraid to push their own boundaries and it makes the album so much better for it. I’ve been telling people the Lovecraftian trio of extreme metal is Puteraeon, Sulphur Aeon and The Great Old Ones. All three have different takes on the music but all three captures the very essence of cosmic horror. As much as I can praise Puteraeon for extending their tentacles some and dabble in new waters I do think they come to the top of their games when songs like “The Sleeping Dread”, “Terror at Sea” and the epic finisher “The End Cometh” comes on, what can I say I’m a sucker for the classics where the guitars just blasts you away with the mid-paced hooks. This is their best album so far as it has you in its grip from start to finish where the range of the album makes it an incredible listen to get back to over and over.

Just like I’d hoped Puteraeon doesn’t disappoint me and with The Cthulhian Pulse: Call From the Dead City they’ve once again blown me away with a perfect example on how swedeath should be made. Together with LIK, Demonical and Desolator they carry the swedeath torch this year with a burning flame so bright it might just make you blind. This is an album of the year contender to me and an album you have to hear.

Artist: Puteraeon
Label: Emanzipation Productions
Release date: November 13th, 2020
Favorite track: The End Cometh
For fans of: Revel in Flesh & Grave
Score: 4.5/5 Incredible

Puteraeon
https://www.facebook.com/PUTERAEON/
https://twitter.com/puteraeon
https://www.instagram.com/PUTERAEON/
http://www.puteraeon.com/

Emanzipation Productions
https://www.facebook.com/EMZproductions/
https://twitter.com/EmanzipationP
https://www.instagram.com/emanzipationprod/
https://emanzipation.bandcamp.com/

Antzaat – For You Men Who Gaze into the Sun (Black Metal)

Antzaat is a new acquaintanceship of mine and it probably is for most as the band has only an EP to their name and was founded in 2015, so they haven’t been around for long. Reason I got into this band are two things actually, one being they’re on a label I respect when it comes to black metal namely Immortal Frost Productions. Then there is the fact that the bands vocalist and lead guitarist Ronarg is also in the band Ars Veneficium (where he is the lead guitarist and does backing vocals), a band which I’ve previously both interviewed and reviewed their latest album Usurpation of the Seven (which was a solid album). So I had my hopes for Antzaat debut full-length album being a good one.

Quickly Ronarg makes me succumb to his shrieks of anguish as that’s what initially pulls me into liking this album. When the rest of the band accompany him well in creating an uneasy atmosphere that’s well fitted for this occult offering and you’re in for a black metal treat. There is a lot of Finnish influences throughout the album where bands such as Sargeist, Behexen and Baptism comes to mind. I even get some Behemoth vibes from the title-track “For You Men Who Gaze into the Sun” which they pull of well. Funny enough I didn’t like that song at all on my initial listen but it’s grown on me with each listen and it stands out. For a debut full-length the band do try to add a lot of variation into the album and while it isn’t a perfect album I think they nail it quite well making this a go to album for me these past few weeks. You got “Through the Eyes of a Rotten Mind” which is a bit slower with a touch of funeral doom to it that makes you get a breather (at least the first half of the song) for what otherwise is a rather fast paced affair. Then you have my personal favorites “Radiant Fire” and “Veil of Darkness” where the hostile (Antzaat means hostile/hateful in old Dutch) atmosphere truly shines to me.

The future is bright for Antzaat and I can’t wait to see what they got in store next, this was really close to a 4 in my book and I might even regret not giving it a higher score later on (I hate giving scores haha). Fans of the Finnish school of black metal will have a great time here no matter what score it gets though.

Artist: Antzaat
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Release date: October 30th, 2020
Favorite track: Radiant Fire
For fans of: Sargeist & Behexen
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Antzaat
https://www.facebook.com/Antzaat
https://www.instagram.com/antzaatblack/
https://antzaat.com/

Immortal Frost Productions
https://www.facebook.com/Immortalfrostproductions
https://twitter.com/ImmortalFrostPr
https://www.instagram.com/immortalfrostproductions/
https://www.immortalfrostproductions.com/
https://digital.immortalfrostproductions.com/

Svartsyn – Requiem (Black Metal)

Svartsyn is a band I’ve followed for a long time, who formed in 1991 under the name Chalice and is one of the oldest bands still active today. Requiem is the bands 10th release and when a band has been going for so long you obviously expect a high level of music, even more so when the name Svartsyn has always equalled one word “solid”.

While Svartsyn has never really stood out with those close to masterpiece albums I’ve always known that I will get a high quality album when I spin anything with the name Svartsyn on it. That truth is still valid as, just like any other Svartsyn album, Requiem is a very good black metal album full of aggression with the satanic theme still intact. A pure black metal onslaught just like it should be. With a discography like Svartsyn has where all albums are of high quality it’s hard to rank them but I don’t get the same feeling like I did with their 2017 offering In Death or their crown jewel …His Majesty from 2000.

The opener “The Pale Horse” does give me chills with the atmosphere it lays where the guitartone makes your blood turn to ice as Ornias vocals shrieks of misanthropy and death. The tempo changes are so ridiculously well made and the close to seven minute track is over almost too quick. So well rounded and got everything I want in a black metal song. That song alone as an opener made me initially think had done it, they’d created an album I might give a 5/5. The rest of the album doesn’t pack quite the same punch though apart from “Spiritual Subjection” and while that by no means mean the rest of the album is bad, quite the opposite, it’s just with an opener like that it made me think this could be an album of the year contender that would beat everything they’ve ever done. “The Desolate” drags on a bit too long though for my taste and after several listens I find that song doesn’t have the same hook that “The Pale Horse” had, if the song had been slimmed down by a couple of minutes I would probably enjoy my time with it way more, same can be said about “Little Horn” but I don’t find it as notable here. This is obviously a bit of nitpicking on what is a great album though.

So here I am, still spinning Requiem almost daily (together with the new Grafvitnir album) since I got it in my mailbox over a month ago. That in itself speaks volume and no black metal fan should skip out on Requiem. Svartsyn knows how to create very good black metal and while I don’t get that “wow factor” I know fully well that’s partly because the band has been active for so long, with no bad albums to its name, that this is what I’ve come to expect from them. Svartsyn has delivered a dark offering worthy your time once again and that’s all that matters.

Artist: Svartsyn
Label: Carnal Records
Release date: October 30th, 2020
Favorite track: The Pale Horse
For fans of: Arckanum & Ondskapt
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Svartsyn
https://www.facebook.com/svartsyn666

Carnal Records
http://www.carnalrecords.com/
https://carnalrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Carnalrecords.sweden

Albums of the month: September

As we close in on the end of 2020 the album of the year list is slowly starting to come to mind more and more. 2020 being a very strange year due to the pandemic, bands calling it quits, no live shows (or at least hardly any) it has brought some good with it in terms of incredible music being put out that might have had to wait due to less time to write albums. Almost every month have had at least one album that I could see as an album of the year contender and it’s going to be hard to nail that top 50 down later on that’s for sure. September was a big death metal month for me personally where especially Proscription and Scordatura stood out. Note that I might have missed quite a few albums this time around, if so please comment, as I’ve been swarmed with work so not done my usual playlists to dig through all the new music like I usually do. As always, check out the playlist and be sure to follow it as well as look into all the bands you like!

Album of the month

Proscription – Conduit

What can I say, Maveth is one of the best death metal bands to have existed and Proscription continues that legacy with greatness. It doesn’t get much better than this. Read the review here.

Proscription – Conduit was released September 24th via Dark Descent Records.

Runners-up

Scordatura – Mass Failure

Mass Failure is Scordautra’s best work to date and one of the best brutal death metal albums of the year. Read the review here.

Scordatura – Mass Failure was released September 25th via Gore House Productions.

Human Barbecue – Bloodstained Altars

When Feyen and Lambert does slam/brutal death together the stars align. Human Barbecue is one of the best bands going to mix said genres into a pot of gore.

Human Barbecue – Bloodstained Altars was released September 13th via Realityfade Records.

Desolator – Sermon of Apathy

Sermon of Apathy is, by a mile, Desolator’s best album so far and while there is still some finishing touches to be done songs like “The Great Law of the Dead” and “Creatures of Habit” will be on every death metal fans playlist this year. Read the review here.

Desolator – Sermon of Apathy was released September 4th via Black Lion Records.

Second to Sun – Leviathan

When it comes to post-black metal not many bands do it better than Russian act Second to Sun. Outstanding how they can release so many great albums in such a short time (four albums in three years) without losing any quality.

Second to Sun – Leviathan was released September 27th as an independent release.

More great music of September

Hvrt – The Grief That Feeds the Night
Dynfari – Myrkurs er þörf
Uada – Djinn
Mysthicon – Silvia – Oculis – Corvi
Dwarrowdelf – Evenstar
Morta Skuld – Suffer For Nothing
Theotoxin – Fragment: Erhabenheit
Ossuary Anex – Obscurantism Apogee
Vous Autres – Sel de Pierre
Void Rot – Descending Pillars
Fumigation – R0 5.7
Across the Swarm – Projections
Madrost – Charring the Rotting Earth
Hiidenhauta – Riivin
Slit Your Gots – Dogmatic Convictions of Human Decrepitude
Contagium – Chronicles of Carnage
Just Before Dawn – An Army at Dawn
Vaginal Anomalies – Violent Devotion to Kill
Soulwound – The Suffering
Angelic Desolation – Quorum of Unspeakable Curses
Eshtadur – From the Abyss
Thorn – The Encompassing Nothing
Noumena – Anima
Sadistic Embodiment – Blood Spell
Fires in the Distance – Echoes From Deep November
Jupiterian – Protosapien
Vacant Eyes – A Somber Preclusion of Being
Spectrum of Delusion – Neoconception
The Last Reign – Evolution
Eerie – End of an Era
Aborted Fetus – Pyramids Of Damnation
Horde of Hel – Döden Nalkas
Hanger Abortion – Population Decay
Evaporated Sores – Ulcerous Dimensions
Finsternis – The Old Tongue

Åskog – Varg (Black Metal)

If you’ve read this blog for awhile then maybe the band Murdryck is familiar to you. Why? Because K.P. gave that album a 5/5, one of the very few that’s been given on The Metal Gamer during the years! When I did my end of the year list it landed on a 40th spot, a spot K.P. thought was way too low of course haha but still means it was one of the best black metal albums you could hear in 2019. So why do I mention Murdryck when this is a review about the first demo (first ever demo review I do!) titled Varg from a band called Åskog? Well as faith had it when Murdryck sadly disbanded early 2020 2/3 members from Murdryck, including the founder Adam Chapman, decided to start a new black metal project Åskog. For obvious reasons this was one of the most hyped bands in The Metal Gamer camp this year. Can it continue the insane quality Födelsen had?

With Varg Åskog offers three songs, where the track “Vatten” being exclusive to the cassette edition. Åskog shows straight from the bat they know fully well how black metal should be played when going back to the roots. Much like the latest releases from Darkthrone, Satyricon, Svarttjern and 1349 there has been a wave of drawing influences from the 80’s and 90’s thrash, black and classic heavy metal scene. Which in my opinion fits very well together as a sweet blend of chaos. Åskog differs a lot from those said bands though in the sense that they are taking inspiration from the cold and harsh brutality of nature, which we all know can be a version of hell itself at times. As I’d hoped Åskog keep up the very high quality Murdryck had as the duo seem very inspired where the songwriting, again, being something that stands out from most black metal bands. As the duo showcase their technical skills and sync throughout the album that they’ve acquired after years of playing together you quickly realise Åskog is no ordinary new band but a duo that’s been creating music for years and know how they work well as a unit. Of course being a demo it’s a short offering, but a sweet one at that. The three songs show fully well what Åskog are capable of with all three showing different sides and venture further than Murdryck did as they incorporate more elements into the mix while still keeping the fundamentals into the black metal world.

While I do mention Murdryck a lot in this review I want you to bear in mind that Åskog is far from a pure extension to Murdryck as the sound of Åskog is vastly different. Which I think is a good thing as otherwise they might as well have kept Murdryck going, instead Åskog is here to spread a harsh cold blizzard over the world to succumb in as the wolf howls with its might. Åskog have their own identity with a fresh take on black metal while keeping the black flames of old alive. This is more in the veins of other powerful Swedish acts such as Lifvsleda, Svederna, Armagedda and Sorhin with a touch of Darkthrone and Svarttjern for good measures. I actually find it quite remarkable that this demo was written between July and August in 2020 seeing it’s of such high quality. Åskog delivers while still managing to surprise me in a positive way and it’s safe to assume their coming full-length debut next year should be something special in the works.

Artist: Åskog
Label: Independent
Release date: October 16th, 2020
Favorite track: Varg (note it’s cassette exclusive!)
For fans of: Svederna & Lifvsleda
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Åskog
https://www.facebook.com/askog666/
https://askog.bandcamp.com/

Repuked – Dawn of Reintoxication (Death Metal)

With a name like Repuked the first thing that comes to my mind “is this grindcore”? What is mostly at play here is filthy death metal though in the veins of legendary Autopsy. This is the first time I hear the band but they’ve been going since 2007, so veterans of the scene for sure. With two full-length albums, one EP, two splits and two demo releases together with very few line-up changes during the years I expect Dawn of Reintoxication being Repuked at the top of their game. It would turn out I was almost right.

Repuked has a very varied offering here where they change the tempo seamlessly and utilize their strengths well. Honestly really surprised by Dawn of Reintoxication, I came into this album thinking it would at the very best be an decent effort but here I am spinning this album on a daily basis for a week and loving it. “Kick Fuck” has those grindcore elements a la Birdflesh I thought the album would be full of which just fits perfectly into the Autopsy style they got going in general. Having a bit of slower paces death doom scenarios could of been a very misplaced decision but instead that is a great change of pace that gives the listener room to breathe. With songs like “Repulsive Erected and Anally Infected”, “Vodka Til the Grave”, “Shitfister” and “Fucking Your Fucking Corpse” you know from the song-titles along you’re in for a fucked up party. The title track “Dawn of Reconfiguration” even gives you an instrumental sci-fi horror type of tune which instantly made me think of The Thing or Colour Out of Space. Big surprise and I would not think this was from Sweden if I didn’t read it in the promo several times myself haha.

The only thing here is that the red line might be missing a bit, as the album can be a bit all over the place and maybe too varied actually for some listeners. A hard thing to master really as the most memorable albums that last for years are varied but still have the thin led line it dances on that makes you want to get back to it time and time again. Repuked aren’t quite there but they did blow me away with Dawn of Reintoxication either way with this more than solid nasty death metal offering, one of the better albums I’ve heard these past months (was debating on a 4 for a long time) and it can definitely sneak into my top 50 list by the end of the year.

Artist: Repuked
Label: Soulseller Records
Release date: October 9th, 2020
Favorite track: Repulsive Erected and Anally Infected
For fans of: Autopsy & Cryptic Brood
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Repuked
https://www.facebook.com/Repuked
https://repuked.bandcamp.com/

Soulseller Records
https://www.facebook.com/SOULSELLERRECORDS/
https://www.instagram.com/soulsellerrecords/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/
https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/

Interview: Karmanjaka

Interviewed: Karm

I recently reviewed the latest album from Karmanjaka titled Hugin (read it here). There were quite a few questions in my head, who is in the band, what made them go with Astrid Lindgren themed black metal to begin with and so on. What better way to get those questions answered than to ask the band themselves!

Lets start with a standard question that I always want to know, who is Karmanjaka? How did the band come to life?

Karmanjaka is a band composed of musicians from the bands Zonaria, Folkmord, Gudars Skymning among others. We all knew each other but the one who brought us together was “Tengil”, he had been thinking of starting a heavier band for a while so me(“Karm”) and him got together in my studio to produce our first EP called “I Törnrosdalen”. All of the other members were just people whom almost naturally came together in this studio session.

You are a relatively new band, forming in 2016, and as far as I can tell I can’t find
anything about you guys and your past! Do tell, you don’t have to say too much,
have anyone of you a past or is active in another band?


We all have! Past bands for the members are such bands as: Zonaria, Gudars Skymning, Folkmord, Death Maze, Destiny and many more. So you could say that we’re all very active musicians, and we all have a long background in playing all sorts of different metal and genres relating to metal.

The band has stayed the same since its formation and has in such a short time put
out two EP’s and two full-length albums. Where do you get all the inspiration from
in order to be so productive?


A big part of the reason is that we simply enjoy writing and creating music together. We do every part of the process ourselves and it’s very enjoyable seeing your creations come to life. Something that has been very important for the process is that we all get along very well in the band. Creating things together is very uncomplicated, as it should be!

Initially the band, where you also got your name from, had a very unique approach
in doing black metal about the Astrid Lindgren fantasy novel The Brothers
Lionheart. Where did you get this idea from?


It was Tengils idea to begin with. I think the project was to be named Tengil in the start as well. The idea to start with was to just sing about the fantasy novels, now we sing about fantasy worlds and myths in general. This is mainly because we find these subjects very interesting. But a note about Astrid Lindgrens works, they are very underrated. I think that Tengil is one of the best fantasy villains there is. We actually have her descendants and companies stamp of approval to use the name Karmanjaka.

What made you go with the Nordic Mythology theme for your latest release Hugin?

Simply put, it’s something we find very interesting personally and that is very underappreciated by society today. Our old myths say a lot of very meaningful things about our past and who we were as a people.

Will you go back to more The Brothers Lionheart themed music in the future?

For sure there will be more hints to that in the future!

I don’t think I’ve seen any information on Karmanjaka performing live yet. Is that
something we will see in the future?

We have done just one show, that was at Gamrocken 2019 in Grängesberg. More shows are actually planned in the future, though it’s very unclear right now when they’ll be able to take place…

I see quite a few bands write a lot more music during Corvid-19 pandemic than before, mainly since they can’t tour I guess. How has Corvid-19 affected the band?
Have you done even more writing on music perhaps than if the pandemic wouldn’t
have happened?

Well to be honest we always have a lot of music written and write music all the time. So that is basically the same as before. Though we were planning to play more live after the release of Hugin. This of course can’t happen right now which is a shame.

What’s next for Karmanjaka?

When the pandemic has settled down we aim to play some shows of course. But the biggest thing right now is probably that we’re going to enter the studio to record a new full-length album in December.

Last but certainly not least, does anyone in Karmanjaka play video games? If you do, got any favorite game of all time?

Yes we do! Everything from a lot of World of Warcraft to Dota 2 and Zelda. On the favourite game part I can only speak for myself, but I was very moved by Breath of the Wild. When I just has picked up the game it felt like when I was a kid again and had just picked up Ocarina of Time. That feeling as an adult is something very rare.

Karmanjaka
https://www.facebook.com/Karmanjaka-855892574540437/
https://www.instagram.com/karmanjakaofficial/

Abyssal Ascendant – Chronicles of the Doomed Worlds – Part II: Deacons of Abhorrence (Death Metal)

From France there is a death metal band that’s made it their mission to spread the cosmic horrors Lovecraft unleashed back in the early 1900’s. The full-length debut came five years ago titled Chronicles of the Doomed Worlds – Part I: Enlightenment from Beyond (a handful I know). I didn’t know about that album until I got this promo but going back to it now it was actually a very good album so I’m surprised I’ve never heard of the band before. Think Morbid Angel, Nile and Immolation meets up with Sulphur Aeon to talk about the lord and saviour Cthulhu and ends up creating some mad riffs then you get Abyssal Ascendant. Of course now knowing what the band can do I was stoked to see what Part II would bring after five years in the making.

Abyssal Ascendant to me feels like the Lovecraftian Nile we all have wanted in our life. One could say switch the Egypt theme to Lovecraft and this is it but it isn’t as simple as that. Abyssal Ascendant might be very influenced by Nile but they got their own thing going. Part II continues what they created on Part I, big difference in my opinion here are two things. There is more of a red line throughout the album, the first one was a tiny bit all over the place and sometimes I wondered if it was a different band. Here there is a stronger identity, a feeling they know now how they want to push the envelop with the bands sound. The second thing is simply put the riffs are have more meat to the bone, the whole sound barrier is thicker and it brings out the best sides of Abyssal Ascendant. If you liked Part I you are guaranteed to like Part II, this is an stronger output than their full-length debut which was still a great one. For new listeners to the band I advice you to listen to Part I before going into this, not just to hear how the band has evolved during these give years but also to get the concept behind the bands songwriting and lyrics. Don’t miss this when it drops on Friday!

Artist: Abyssal Ascendant
Label: Dolorem Records
Release date: October 9th, 2020
Favorite track: The Dweller Awakens
For fans of: Immolation & Nile
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Abyssal Ascendant
https://www.facebook.com/abyssal.ascendant.band
https://www.instagram.com/abyssalascendant/
https://abyssal-ascendant.bandcamp.com/

Dolorem Records
https://www.facebook.com/DoloremRecords/
https://twitter.com/DoloremRecords
https://www.instagram.com/doloremrecords/
https://doloremrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.doloremrecords.com/

Karmanjaka – Hugin (Black Metal)

What first made me check out Karmanjaka was actually due to their name. Being Swedish and growing up with Astrid Lindgren series it’s a name I’m very familiar with. The Brothers Lionheart (Bröderna Lejonhjärta) is a Swedish fantasy novel written by Astrid Lindgren, in which Karmanjaka is the name of a cave resided by the dragon Katla (taken from metal archives). The bands debut EP from 2016 was even called I Törnrosdalen which is also a place from the same world. Their music is, as you might now realise, heavily inspired by the fantasy novel. That alone doesn’t mean it’s good music of course but luckily they do the inspiration justice as Karmanjaka has crafted some great black metal music in the past and with their new EP Hugin I was hoping for more of the same calibre.

Only a year after the full-length album Seven Names for the Witchqueen came out Karmanjaka are already back with an EP titled Hugin. As the title suggests Karmanjaka has taken a turn to the Nordic mythology on this album, that’s for obvious reasons also close to my heart but also something that’s being done by a lot of bands nowadays with mixed results. 4 songs, clocking in at 20 minutes is what Hugin offers and it’s yet again a solid release from this unsigned band (if I could sign them for Grind to Death Records I would in a heartbeat). Songs like “Vildvittra” had some folk elements in them on their last album but on Hugin they’ve marched further down that road as this album incorporates that sound a lot more. “Age of Fire” is an epic opener with sick riffs to close the song out where Karmanjaka has managed to create wicked music where the likes on Enslaved, Borknagar and Ereb Altor meets. “Raven Wings” provides more of the same black metal opus for the ears but then “Eitr” slows it down a lot where 1:30 into it the distinct drumms and riffing fury breaks unleashes. First time I heard the song I wasn’t too keen on the change of pace but after a few listens it grew on me and it works out well as a sort of contrast as the album closer “Fornjotś Call” is also of a slower pace than the first two tracks. “Fornjotś Call” is also the longest song, with its 6:45 minutes, Karmanjaka has done yet. Adding some additional vocals in play I think it was a cool idea which adds something new to their toolbox. They haven’t quite unlocked their potential yet though as I feel like there is something missing to really get my attention on those last two songs.

Hugin presents a new side of Karmanjaka where the two halves of the EP differ quite a bit to me. Personally I enjoyed “Age of Fire” and “Raven Wings” more than “Eitr” and “Fornjotś Call” but the album as a whole is a nice listen which I can recommend wholeheartedly to black metal fans who wants just a pinch of folk metal influences in the mix. Just like the jötunn Fornjótr, the father of Hlér (‘sea’), Logi (‘fire’) and Kári (‘wind’), Karmanjaka is a force from the north to be reckoned with. Karmanjaka is an underrated band that I hope will reach a wider audience sooner rather than later.

Artist: Karmanjaka
Label: Independent
Release date: October 2nd, 2020
Favorite track: Raven Wings
For fans of: Borknagar & Ereb Altor
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Karmanjaka
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