Necronomicon – Unus (Blackened Death Metal)

Formed the same year I was born 1988 we have Canadian band Necronomicon. The name is taken from the book by H.P. Lovecraft and their music, as expected, has a lot to do with the occult, magic, death and mythology. Even though the band was formed back in 88 their debut full-length didn’t come out until 1999 and have since released five more albums with Unus being their latest work of art. Originally Necronomicon played a rather direct death metal style in the veins of especially Morbid Angel and Nile. Later on their symphonic elements (who were somewhat there from the start too) took more place and blackend/symphonic death metal became the identity. There has been some changes in the ranks as the founder Rob “The Witch” Tremblay is the only one left from their 2016 album Advent of the Human God. Instead we have the two new members Raum (ex-Dawn of Ashes) on bass and Jean-Philippe Bouchard (Magister Dixit and Necroticgorebeast) on drums coming in for Unus.

Let me start with saying wow, Unus shows a band that knows how to use their heritage well with the new. Every fan of Necronomicon will come to devour this and just want more. The pinnacle of this album is reached almost halfway in as “Singularis Dominus”, “The Thousand Masks” and “Ascending the Throne of Baator” totally annihilates everything with perfect symphonic elements, atmosphere and blackened death metal fused into one. Truly making the name Necronomicon justice and you’ll need a breather after this supreme showing. They even end the album with classic Morbid Angel death metal approach (actually could say classic Necronomicon music too) on “Cursed MMXIX” and “Vox Draconis” just to give you some sheer hard hitting metal with an onslaught of riffs. “Vox Draconis” then ends as you expect an album like this to do, in an epic scale with orchestral and choirs! What better way to close out this absolute behemoth of an album. The beautiful part is it’s produced so well. Unus gives the listener so much value, diversity and, of course, wicked metal it’s hard not to fall in love with Unus and wanting to experience this again and again. Unus is in many ways a perfect follow-up to Advent of the Human God, where they still continue in the symphonic steps they took then but yet keeps much of what made their first albums great.

One of the best albums I’ve heard this year and the best Necronomicon has done to this date where the Necronomicon of old and new fuse together seamlessly, creating some of the best music of 2019 over 30 years into their career. Even bands such as Behemoth, Hate, Dimmu Borgir, SepticFlesh and Belphegor would be jealous of an incredible album like Unus in their discography. While it’s not groundbreaking Necronomicon are still going strong and pushing themselves forward, who knows where there limit is or if there is any?

Written by J.B.

Artist: Necronomicon
Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Behemoth & SepticFlesh
Release date: October 18th, 2019
Favorite song: The Thousand Masks
Score: 4.5/5 Incredible

Panzerfaust – The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War (Black Metal)

From Canada the band sharing the name with a certain German anti-tank weapon, Panzerfaust hails. Their black metal is to no surprise (seeing their name) much about war and anti-religion. Since their creation in 2005 the band has been very active having released new material almost every year up until their 2013 full-length album Jehovah-Jireh: The Divine Anti-logos. Since then they’ve taken it a bit slower, with an EP release in 2016 and now their 4th full-length album The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War is out.

After having this album spinning on and off for the past month I can tell you straight away this album is a grower. Not just in the sense that it starts slow but get better with each spin. This album is good from the first track alone, just keeps getting better and grows in taste like a fine wine.

Funeral Mist, Deathspell Omega and 1914 are the first bands that came to my mind as a major influence when the opener “The Day After ‘Trinity'” hits you like an avalanche, a superb opening. The tank doesn’t stop there though as it bulldoze it’s way into your mind, pummeling your brain with the follow-up “Stalingrad, Massengrab”. The epic 13 minutes closer “The Men of No Man’s Land” does exactly like it’s intended to, close the album in style. A much slower song than the rest of the album, but oh so atmospheric and a great showing of wicked good songwriting. Which is actually the main part I will take with me from listening to Panzerfaust, their very well-written songs. Memorable, dark and deep lyrics accompanied with great music is all you need really and for that I give Panzerfaust a near perfect score. One of the best albums I’ve heard this year!

Written by J.B.

Artist: Panzerfaust
Label: Eisenwald
For fans of: Funeral Mist and 1914
Release date: June 14th, 2019
Favorite song: The Decapitator’s Prayer
Score: 4.5/5 Near perfection

Nihility – Thus Spoke the Antichrist (Blackened Death Metal)

Formed in 2012 Portuguese blackened death metal band Nihility is still a rather young one. Their debut has been years in the making and now it’s ready to unleash hell upon the world, I give you Thus Spoke the Antichrist.

At the very start Nihility presents “Indulge Self Restraint” that has some meaty riff on the melodic side with the powerful vocals from Mário Ferreira. Eventually they go even more aggressive on “Organic Fallacies” which is a lot more straight to the point and hits hard, giving me a much more American death metal vibe a la Immolation to it. Favorite tracks on the album soon begins to shape in the form of the title track “Thus Spoke the Antichrist” and “Prophecy of Denial”, which is pure Behemoth worship. With the last one actually being one of my most played tracks these last few weeks. A real banger as the kids say!

As a debut album I hold Thus Spoke the Antichrist as one of the best I’ve heard this year. There are a few bumps on the road but you can tell this is a band with great talent that aren’t afraid on trying putting out a rather varied album, yet keeping the heavy hitting assault intact throught, straight from the start. All of the songs are in fact solid, with a few real high points that makes this album have a very strong 3.5 score, almost landing on that 4. All in all everyone that enjoys themselves a good blackened death metal experience that has parts of Immolation, Behemoth, Hate and even slight nods to Belphegor at times should grab a copy.

With this review I go back to sharing bands social media, I don’t even know why I stopped doing that since I find it being a really good thing to promote the bands that extra bit so I’m doing it again.

Written by J.B.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nihility.pt
Label: Black Lion Records (https://www.facebook.com/blacklionrecordsswe)
For fans of: Behemoth and Immolation
Release date: May 24th, 2019
Favorite song: Prophecy of Denial
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

DunkelNacht – Empires of Mediocracy (Black/Death Metal)

With full force of necessary darkness, DunkelNacht welcomes us to their latest piece of art. DunkelNacht (which means dark night in German) is a unified collaboration between Netherlands and France. Created brick by brick from the mind of Heimdall (lead guitarist/programming) in 2005 and evolved from that in companionship with bass player Alkhemohr, who joined the project in 2007. Together have they been the core of DunkelNacht’s reputation as an extremely tight act of metal. In the beginning of their career they played ambient music that in the years to follow transformed into a black/death band.

The latest entry in their ever expanding catalog, after 5 years of other projects, is their third full-length album with the title Empires Of Mediocracy. Eight tracks of so much influence from music that was in it’s prime mid/late 90’s. So much melody, that immediately made me think about bands like Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates. So much anger, that it would make Dissection and Unleashed to feel like they where in their own studio.

I can’t help it but I get a retro game feeling also. There are some guitar lines that would be suitable for an old fantasy/adventure game. Empires of Mediocracy is very much a headbangers dream. So friggin enjoyable. When i heard this album for the first time I was thinking to myself that this kind of metal have been done before, in a faster way, in a more evil way…but none of that really matters when the pulse of DunkelNacht latest album make it’s entry to your brain and body.

Written by K.P

Label: Non Serviam Records
For fans of: Behemoth and The Order Of Apollyon
Release date: February 28th, 2019
Favorite song: Empires Of Mediocracy
Score: 4/5 Incredible

The Metal Gamer Best of 2018 (J.B. Edition)

Here we are, another year is coming to an end and what a year it has been! I got married to my wonderful supporting wife, turned 30, started supporting events in my hometown to help the local scene while we had a lot of awesome games and albums released too! New for this year is that I am doing a top 50 instead of top 40, now with a top 5 in order then I split the other 45 albums into two tiers (in no order). This way you get more of a read on what I enjoyed the most instead of just a long list. Obviously this list is personal and I am sure to have missed out on an album or two during the year (some of them I mention in my “five albums I missed” section). I have linked the reviews, if there is any, on the album titles. There will also be a best of list coming from Kristian Person, my partner in crime since a couple months back driving The Metal Gamer forward. One thing worth noting is that to be eligible for this list the album needs to be a new full-length release, so no EP’s nor re-releases. So lets recap the year!

During the few years I’ve been running The Metal Gamer this has been the best year for death metal with veterans like Monstrosity, Unleashed and At the Gates as well as younger blood such as Corpsessed and Lik putting out killer releases. Technical death metal did also have a fantastic year and I even had to leave out albums from Arsis, Revocation, Psycroptic, Inferi and Alkaloid due to this year having so much great tech-death it wasn’t easy to pick. Deathcore had an off year in my opinion but at the same time I think last year was that genres best in many years. However The Breathing Process, Ingested, Within Destruction for example did release great material you shouldn’t miss. Brutal death metal may or may not have had a good year, in all honesty I haven’t listened to a lot of the albums that’s been released within that genre this year. From those I heard it was either hit or miss, with Serocs being one of the few hits. With that said, if you’re a label that specialize in brutal death metal (or in a band) then feel free to send promos my way, I would love to hear more what the genre has to offer! Just like BDM I didn’t get a chance to listen to much of the atmospheric metal side either but with class releases from the likes of Ennui, Sojourner, Raven Throne and totalselfhatred I can’t really complain there, I got my fill.

Black metal had an interesting year for me. Necrophobic showed me just why they are one of the best bands I know of, both live and with their latest release Mark of the Necrogram. Immortal surprised me with a comeback that just about missed my top five, even though I was very hesitant on the release to begin with. Behemoth was another band I was debating adding in my top five, it wasn’t as good as The Satanist (hard to do though) but even with the hate it received from some people I can’t stop playing it every now and then. On the other spectrum my biggest disappointment is Eonian by Dimmu Borgir, I just can’t get into it even after several spins… Biggest surprises for me this year were Serocs, Ennui, Sadistik Forest and 1914. 1914 just about made the list as I only found out about them a week before I wrote this (note this was written a week before being published). Without any further ado here is The Metal Gamer Best of 2018 by Jimmy Barendt!

The Metal Gamer Best of 2018

The top 5:

  1. Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
  2. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
  3. At the Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself
  4. Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands
  5. Beyond Creation – Algorythm

Tier 2 (6-25)

Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest
Lik – Carnage
Bloodbath – The Arrow of Satan is Drawn
Unleashed – The Hunt for White Christ
Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
The Breathing Process – Samsara
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Amorphis – Queen of Time
Gorod – Aethra
Monstrosity – The Passage of Existence
Corpsessed – Impetus of Death
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Serocs – The Phobos/Deimos Suite
Sojourner – The Shadowed Road
Aborted – TerrorVision
Wombbath – The Great Desolation
1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind
Sadistik Forest – Morbid Majesties
Vanhelgd – Deimos Sanktuarium
Abysmal Torment – The Misanthrope

Tier 3 (26-50)

Stilla – Synviljor
Sargeist – Unbound
Ingested – The Level Above Human
Nekrokraft – Servants
Totalselfhatred – Solitude
Inferi – Revenant
Paara – Riitti
Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
Svavelvinter – Mörkrets Tid
Gluttony – Cult of the Unborn
Avslut – Deceptis
Skinless – Savagery
Ennui – End of the Circle
Raven Throne – I miortvym snicca zolak
Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned
Infuriate – Infuriate
Enblood – Cast to Exile
Bloodtruth – Martyrium
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse
Imperialist – Cipher
Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
Within Destruction – Deathwish
Carnation – Chapel of Abhorrence
Crawl – Rituals
Wolfheart – Constellation of the Black Light

Album of the year:
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Deathcore album of the year:
The Breathing Process – Samsara
Technical death metal album of the year:
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Death metal album of the year:
At the Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself
Brutal death metal album of the year:
Serocs – The Phobos/Deimos Suite
Atmospheric black metal album of the year:
Sojourner – The Shadowed Road
Black metal album of the year:
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Debut album of the year:
Imperialist – Cipher
Song of the year:
Necrophobic – Tsar Bomba
Best concert I went to in 2018:
Necrophobic, Blood of Serpents and Coffin Creep (Plan B, Malmö, November 2nd)
Five albums I missed but need to listen to:
Sigh – Heir to Despair
Svartidaudi – Revelations Of The Red Sword
Obscura – Diluvium
Between the Buried and Me – Automata I + Automata II
Møl – Jord
Biggest disappointment:
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Most anticipated album of 2019:
Malevolent Creation – The 13th Beast

Cursus Bellum – Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit (Blackened Death Metal)

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Cursus Bellum is a new force in the Swedish metal scene that consist of the duo Joakim Unger and Anders Nyander who have a long past together since Sgt. Carnage. Also a bit fun to me personally that Joakim Unger was on drums for Immersed in Blood between 1998-2003, a brutal death metal band from Sweden I listen to every now and then. With Cursus Bellum the duo does something that is actually a step away from the other bands they’ve been in but at the same time it gathers a lot of elements from the different genres. This time it’s blackened death metal that’s on the table where the duo seem to gain a lot of influences from a certain Polish band.

“Vem är du? Jag är döden!” (translation “Who are you? I am death!”). When a blackened death metal album opens like that then I hope I am in for a great deadly ride. Safe to say Cursus Bellum does hit hard straight from the start. This is old school death metal with a lot of fury and hatred, blackened stuff that you’re used to hear from the likes of Behemoth and their Demigod sound. Add some Swedish touch a la Necrophobic and you got yourself a brutal, technical and pure evil to the bone album that’s sweet music to the ears.

It’s really hard not to draw a lot of parallels to Behemoth when taking Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit for a spin. For a Swedish band there is certainly more common grounds with the Polish or American black/death scenes than for example Unanimated, Dissection or previously mentioned Necrophobic. The whole atmosphere on the album reeks of aggression and evil intent with the religious themes, drawing the line to an almost black metal album at times (just like Behemoth tends to do). Hell I even get a lot of Nergal vibes from the vocalist Joakim Unger voice. Seeing as I am a big fan of Behemoth where you will see their latest album in my top 40 list (spoiler) I am not one to complain mind you. It’s definitely not all a copy and past job for Cursus Bellum though, tracks like “The Vortex” stands out on being more unique and at times I even get a atmospheric black metal feel in the veins of Auðn or Uada with the riffing.

The album is solid throughout but I feel it lacks a couple more standout tracks to make it reach even higher scores. “Soil Companion” did start the album on a high note, “The Vortex” adds some needed variation and with “Life Eater” being the best track on Ex Nihilio Nihil Fit here are some really great pillars here. I would want more of that though! The two intermission tracks “Av Jord Är Du Kommen” and “Till Jord Skall Du Åter Varda” are beautiful acoustic parts that binds the concept of the album together nicely too it has to be said.

This might be nothing new to a lot of metalheads out there who have been down the blackened death metal road before but it is well executed and will especially please fans of Behemoth. As a debut it’s a very good start that Cursus Bellum can build on.

Written by J.B.

Label: Downfall Records
For fans of: Behemoth and Necrophobic
Release date: October 12th, 2018
Favorite song: Life Eater
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

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Hadal Maw – Charlatan (Technical Death Metal)

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Hadal Maw was a new name to me, I honestly only first heard of them when I saw they were going on an Australian tour with one of my favorite bands Archspire and Psycroptic. Hadal Maw was created in 2010, hailing from Australia, released their debut album Senium in 2014 and has since been met with acclaim from fans and critics alike. Making it rather annoying for me personally that the band had gone completely under my radar for all these years. The name Hadal Maw originates from Hades actually. As Hadal Maw is the name derived from the Hadal zone, a delineation for the deepest trenches in the ocean (taken from metal archives). The latest release Olm, only a year old, was just as their debut met with only positives so with that in mind I was really hyped to review their third offering Charlatan prior its release.

After having had some great time with their past two albums to get ready for Charlatan I quickly realized how Hadal Maw does not simply stick to one sound, they have a core sound sure but they evolve with each album. Pushing their own boundaries and I admire that. Hadal Maw are a technical death metal band to the core but the influences are many. Even within the techdeath realm it can differ from Meshuggah, Beyond Creation to Gojira. Not only that though, Hadal Maw got a darkness in their music that goes beyond techdeath and more into the blackened death or black spheres. This is where Charlatan comes in. Charlatan is by far the darkest album Hadal Maw has done to date, getting closer to the mighty Behemoth than ever before. Hadal Maw does follow in the same path as Olm paved for them (which is very different from their debut) but as I said this is even darker, more atmospheric.

I see this album in many ways as Gojira and Meshuggah  have a meeting with Behemoth in the sense Hadal Maw’s technical death riffs and vocals draws some parallels to Gojira and Meshuggah while the atmospheric and dark feeling that clouds Charlatan is more of the Behemoth style of things. It’s a good match and whereas I thought Senium was more standard techdeath both Olm and Charlatan stands out with a more unique style. Charlatan is a great next chapter for Hadal Maw, a fitting successor to Olm where you can see the band elevate their sound yet again. The album has been a real grower to me. At first I thought it was a bit too slow for my taste in techdeath but after awhile I get sucked into the atmospheric side of it and the album as a whole is a pleasant experience that differs from your common Beyond Creation or Necrophagist clones (which I to be fair like a quite fair share of too haha).

This is an album you might not grasp of fully enjoy at your first visit but give it time and you will come to love it. Charlatan is also one of those albums where it is hard to pick just one track from as the album is meant to be experienced as a whole in my opinion. Whereas I’ve missed Hadal Maw in the past I now welcome them into my metal life as a sweet fresh new techdeath breeze in this hot Swedish weather. One can only wonder if Hadal Maw can go even deeper in that ocean to create more fine offerings to the metal world.

Label: EVP Recordings
For fans of: Behemoth and Gojira
Release date: August 3rd, 2018
Favorite song: Charlatan I The Grand Serpent
Score: 4/5