Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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We got more mountains to climb people! Found this album on youtube and holy crap! Such beautiful, much wow! Dzö-nga started off as a solo project and draw inspiration from Tibetan myths and legends centered on the Himalayan mountains, where the name also comes from as Dzö-nga is the name of a cryptid or demon that is said to haunt the mountain Kangchenjunga. Since the formation and debut album Five Treasures of Snow (which Kangchenjunga can translate into) in 2016 the one-man band has added female vocalist in Grushenka Ødegård which adds so much to the sound and atmosphere. In all honesty I wasn’t much of a fan of the debut, the lack of drums really put me off and it seemed to lack a lot of elements I enjoy in this kind of music. This has all changed with the sophomore album though!

The music seems closer to nature with the melodies and female vocals, while Cryvas growling and instrumental play sets the tone and almost creates a demon versus elven character kind of setting, just as expected from the album. Adding more instruments since Five Treasures of Snow (like drums) also makes this album feel a lot more complete than the debut ever did. I wouldn’t mind some Tibetan instruments thrown into the mix to add even more connections to the folklore Dzö-nga sings about. Just like with most atmospheric black metal The Sachem’s Tales is meant to be experienced in its entirety without any stops. The build-ups on the songs that leads to different sections is superb and the vocals are a great match, making it stick out from most of the atmospheric black metal I listen to instead of the rather bland debut. It could say this is something along the lines of Myrkur meets Summoning musically. Which you can tell is sweet melodies and an atmospheric tone to it.

I am impressed with how much Dzö-nga has improved in just a year. It’s insane really and hats off to find a direction with the music that works so much better in my opinion. This is beautiful atmospheric black metal with a lot of variation and flow that you will want to experience again and again. Now I want to know Cryvas will be up to with the next release!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dzongalives
Label: Avantgarde Music
For fans of: Summoning and Saor
Favorite song: Against the Northern Wind
Score: 4/5

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Nordland – European Paganism (Pagan/Black Metal)

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From England there is a solo project made by Vorh called Nordland which has been a rather active force since the formation in 2011. The self-titled debut in 2012 was well received and Nordland has since managed to release two more full-length albums and an EP prior to European Paganism. One would think with so many releases it might be more quantity than quality, however Vorh has done well maintaining a quite high level on his albums. European Paganism being no different of course.

Nordland’s Pagan ways are something a lot of metalheads are sure to enjoy, me included. With a 27 minute opener (!) in The Mountain the journey starts on this concept album that takes us through epic landscapes. What a journey it becomes, I get a lot of vibes from one of my favorite black metal albums last year. Namely Old Souls by Wayfarer. Cold and stony mountains, nature, paganism and an journey through the old ways is what Nordland offers. While it’s nothing new and something Nordland has done in the past it has to be said this is his best work yet. The primal sound, great song-writing and atmosphere this album creates is sweet music to my ears.

It doesn’t captivate me as much as Wayfarer’s album did last year (they do differ a bit in sound to be honest) but I had a good time on this journey. An experience the more atmospheric and pagan black metal fans should grab to get their fill. Vorh is impressing me with his continuous good releases, growing slightly each time.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Nordland-407362792653859
Label: Satanath Records and More Hate Productions
For fans of: Wayfarer and Winterfylleth
Favorite song: A Burning of Idols
Score: 3/5

Solbrud – Vemod (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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Solbrud is to me one of the best bands from Denmark. I’d never heard of them until two years ago when they played at Copenhell and a friend of mine said that was one of the bands he wanted to see live. I didn’t go and see them but after my friend said they were fucking beasting it live I was like “man I need to listen to these dudes when I get home”. So I did, I listened through their selftitled debut and sophomore album Jærtegn and since then I’ve been hooked. Even today I wish I went to see Solbrud live on their home turf….

Vemod is the bands third full-length release and the music stays the same, in a good way. This is just as dark melancholic yet beautiful as I remember their past work. Four songs clocking at 50 minutes filled with death and harmony. Black metal goodness for the blackest of souls.

Every note, songwriting, atmosphere and production is well made and it’s close to call this their best work yet. As of right now I am thorn between this and Jærtegn but I do give Jærtegn the edge because I think Sortedøden is the best song Solbrud have done so far. Also I think Besat af Mørke was a bit weaker than the other three songs on this album. Safe to say Solbrud have already created a discography they can be proud of with three fantastic full-length albums. I am sure I will see Vemod on many black metal fans lists when they look back at this years top releases.

Vemod is out now through Indisciplinarian.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Solbrud
Label: Indisciplinarian
For fans of: Mörker and Skogen
Favorite song: Det Sidste Lys
Score: 4/5

Argus Megere – VEII (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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Haunting yet beautiful. That’s the first words that comes into my mouth when listening to Argus Megere’s fourth (three as Argus Megere, one as Argus) full-length album VEII. In all honesty I’d not heard of them before stumbling upon them when browsing through atmospheric black metal music on youtube. The band was created all the way back in 1996 as Argus before changing name to Argus Megere in 2005. This is also, to my knowledge, the very first band I listen to from Romania which I find quite cool (I’ve been meaning to go through a band from each country some day).

Close to 48 minutes long featuring four tracks that’s sure to grab your attention VEII is an album not to take lightly. While listening to it I get a lot of Moonsorrow and especially Falkenbach vibes (due to the vocals) coming from it. It’s basically good atmospheric black metal with some elements that really sticks out (the clocks ringing on Tabla as an example) and they make it mix in well together.

The guitar solo in Umbre din piatra apuse is one of my favorite parts from the whole album and it’s exactly that which makes me pick that song above the rest. Close second I would say is Tabla, yet another class track that’s sure to become many atmospheric black metal fans favorite this year. Hard choice between the two for me really.

All in all this is a good atmospheric black metal album I found today that I had to share with you guys. Argus Megere is an Romanian act more should know about that’s for sure. VEII is out now through Loud Rage Music.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/argusmegere
For fans of: Falkenbach and Moonsorrow
Favorite song: Umbre din piatra apuse

Fen – Winter (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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Named after a region in England called The Fens, Fen have since their formation in 2006 made a big name for themselves in the atmospheric black metal scene. The band members grew up in this mysterious landscapes, with marshes and wetlands, and this is where they’ve found the inspiration for their music. Winter is the bands fifth full-length release and it’s been three years since their latest masterpiece Carrion Skies.

Fen are one of those bands that brings you epic songs which, more often than not, goes past the ten minute mark. I know this isn’t for everyone just due to the length and you’re probably afraid that you will lose interest halfway through the song. I urge you not to let time be a factor for giving this one a miss, you owe it to yourself to get embraced by this cold and bleak winter that Fen offers you. It’s an album that should be experienced as a whole, which fans of Fen (and quite a few other atmospheric black metal bands) should know by now. It might not be an album where you turn on a song on your way to work which takes 5-10 minutes but see it as an audiovisual journey instead.

The Winter starts somewhat warm and gently. It’s that time of the year where you’re not entirely sure what to wear as the climate hasn’t truly become cold. Then the snapping cold hits and all of a sudden it’s a harsh icy landscape. This is portrayed in the opening song I: (Pathway) as the beginning of Winter is upon us. The songs smoothly transitions on the album, making this an even greater experience to the listener who wants to not only hear but to feel the Winter breeze.

In many ways this is the perfect way to give tribute for the ten years Fen have existed. It brings an interesting concept, with an atmosphere that’s fitting Winter and a journey in mysterious landscapes of darkness and sorrow. This is Fen at it’s finest and you should allow yourself to be absorbed and fully embrace this journey you’re about to take in the cold Winter. It captures the season from start to finish, ending with VI (Sight) that makes you feel that spring might even be coming soon.

Fen’s fifth full-length release Winter is out now through Code666 Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fenofficial
For fans of: Agalloch and Alcest
Favorite song: V (Death)

The Great Old Ones – EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy (Post-Black Metal)

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Sorry for no review yesterday, had a hangover of death after being on a Sonata Arctica concert and never really got into the mood of reviewing an album. I am now though and I continue with black metal because there’s just been so many good albums coming this year from that genre. Today is also an album I’ve had on my list for a long time but for some reason not got around to review it. The Great Old Ones is a French Post-Black Metal band that’s been going strong since they formed in 2009. EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy is the bands third full-length following their best release Tekeli-li that got a lot of praise when it came out in 2014. Question is can they follow up on that success even with two out of five members being new (Charbonnier on bass and Edouard on guitar being new members)?

For those of you who don’t know The Great Old Ones are very powerful deities (such as Cthulhu and Yig) in the H.P. Lovecraft universe which is also where the band takes its influences from when writing songs. As you may know by now I enjoy myself a good H.P. Lovecraft themed band, it’s dark, horrifying and perfect for the more evil metal bands to take influences from. Which is exactly how EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy starts. Searching for R. Olmstead – Introduction gives you shiver down your spine with the classical horror themed music you remember as a kid watching old horror movies late at night without your parents knowing to then blast of into madness with The Shadow over Innsmouth. If H.P. Lovecraft made music this would be it.

The whole album feels like a horror movie with it’s dark and mystic atmosphere. The vocals are just as wicked as before and the instrumental part, which I was afraid wouldn’t have the same high level anymore, still got it. It seems my concern was unjustified. If you like The Great Old Ones earlier work then you will be pleased with this one too, in my opinion it might even be better than Tekeli-li (ask me tomorrow and I might say the oposite, both really good though). If you haven’t heard these French horror-loving deities before then now is the time.

The Great Old Ones third full-length EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy is out now through one of the best labels out there Season of Mist.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thegreatoldones
For fans of: Altar of Plagues and Deafheaven
Favorite song: In Shadow over Innsmouth

Pure Wrath – Ascetic Eventide (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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Indonesia is not a country I think of when looking at atmospheric black metal. However Pure Wrath are sure to make both me and many others change their views on where great atmospheric black metal is produced from. Pure Wrath started as solo project in 2014 by Januaryo Hardy (aka Ryo). Energized by the essence of Earth, including nature, vision, and the call of solitude Ryo set off to create the Pure Wrath of nature itself in musical form. The end result is nothing short but greatness, a wonderful debut that will surely make a mark in the atmospheric black metal scene.

Pure Wrath brings a lot of energy and the use of various sounds and instruments (such as flute and piano) to create different emotions to the listener is wonderfully put together on Ascetic Eventide. The tracks really catches the atmosphere just like their names implies. Colourless Grassland feels desolate but yet calm and one with nature, Mountain Calls feels cold, harsh and barren (takes me back to the whole Wayfarer experience I had last year). This feeling of solitude and being one with nature that Ryo wanted to capture the essence off with Ascetic Eventide he has really achieved. It’s epic and raw, just like nature itself.

Ascetic Eventide is a work of art and stands tall in the vast atmospheric black metal discography that’s out there. I look forward to hear more from Pure Wrath in the future, until then I am more than happy to have one of this years big surprises on repeat when I want my mind to wander away and try to become one with nature. Pure Wrath’s debut album Ascetic Eventide is out now through Hitam Kelam Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/purewrath
For fans of: Saor and Wayfarer
Favorite song: Clouds Retiring