Damnation Army – Death Macabre (Black/Death Metal)

It’s been ten years since the one-man band Damnation Army released an album. Thomas Nyholm (Hordes of the Apocalypse and Isgärde) started this project in 2002 and were really active the first seven years with one EP and four full-length albums to its name but since then it’s been quiet for ten years, until now.

Quite fast it hits me Damnation Army is an army to be reckoned with. This is the kind of music with its roots heavy in the Dissection sound, one I am sure we all love. The vocals though is more from the Norwegian black metal scene as it reminds me a lot of a mix between Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) and Abbath (Immortal), rather sinister stuff.

The 30 minutes fly bye and it sure is a nice listen, it gives me a lot of great riffs and nods to the early era of black metal. While there isn’t much separating the songs it in all honesty doesn’t have to as you’re sure to headbang your way through it anyways. I also need to highlight the track Ancient Evil Rituals, now that’s how you make an Dissection homage! I simply can’t get the riffs out of my head! All in all sometimes you simply need an album like Death Macabre that offers a single lane approach, with no gimmicks and bullshit. It might not be memorable enough for you to remember in a year or two but for now it hits those sweet spots for this old Dissection lover just right.

Written by J.B.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Release date: January 17th, 2019
Favorite song: Ancient Evil Rituals
Score: 3/5 Good

Interview: Enthroned

There is really no introduction needed for the band I managed to get an interview slot with next. Belgium’s mighty black metal act Enthroned was probably one of the very first bands you heard within the genre. Since the bands creation in 1993 a lot has happened, but one thing stands true, Enthroned will always deliver uncompromised trve black metal! Interview done by: Nornagest.

You recently signed with Season of Mist and got a new album coming later this year. Can you give us some details on the upcoming album, when can we expect it?

The new album is due to be released this spring. We had planned to release the opus earlier but you know how it goes: you get delays with this or that, things that just “happen” which are out of our and record company’s control… but all in all, it’s coming out and that is the most important. It’s a record different to what we have done so far, but it’s also a record that has all the elements of anything you would expect from Enthroned. It’s got our signature yet it is different. We’re really proud of the material that we wrote and the atmosphere we captured. There are some heavy, fast songs, some really dark almost ritualistic paste, some mid-tempo tracks, some strange eerie stuff… I honestly think it’s a good album.

It’s been four years since Sovereigns came out, since then you’ve added a new bass and guitar player. How much have these changes had an impact on the sound of the new album?

Fresh blood always makes a difference, each individual brings his own touch to the music, even if they are not composing – their style and vibe will always have an impact on how the overall music sounds. Those guys are experienced individuals within the exteme metal scene, I can definitely feel that they have had their share of experiences when I hear them playing, both from a spiritual and musical point of view.

Will we hear any material from it anytime soon?

It depends on the label really, I am sure it won’t take long for the first songs to be revealed. In the meantime, we have been performing one song from the album during our live ceremonies and the reaction from the audience thus far has been simply tremendous, so I am pretty confident.

Enthroned is a big name, and veterans of black metal. How do you think black metal has evolved during the years?

The Black metal scene is not what it used to be, that’s one thing, for sure. Back in the early days, BM was seen as dangerous and mostly because the people involved were simply “different” and themselves, Satanism and its currents were not an accepted thing nor a source of boosting for one’s ego. Music was made out of guts, faith and spirit, no one cared if their band would be successful or not and the entire scene was pretty much aiming for the opposite of success, which resulted in bands sounding like… themselves and not copycats. Creativity was born out of life experiences and the belief of the composer, whereas now you have 90% of copycats and 10 % of those dedicated individuals. To be honest, I stick to the 10%. Personally, there are a handful of bands that I like and that I really appreciate, mostly older bands but most of today’s black metal doesn’t appeal to me at all just because there is a lack of authenticity, most bands sounds like fanboys copying their idols.

Will we see an Enthroned tour this year?

Certainly, it is still a bit early to be specific but we are working on different projects in the matter. There is a lot of demand for Enthroned to perform in countries where we have actually never set foot, as well as our usual touring places. We are hoping to tour the US this time, which is never an easy thing for a band like us, with our message and the philosophy behind the band, but I am sure we will manage.

I am quite unfamiliar with the Belgian metal scene apart from Enthroned, Ancient Rites (who you’ve even done a split with) and Aborted. How is the state of it?

Belgium is not a nesting place for Black Metal or metal like Sweden for example, but we definitely have some bands worth checking out. You have a lot of clone bands like everywhere I am sure, but there are a few acts that I appreciate and support. We have an atypical scene, bands that are different for their approach or style, which is something I can appreciate. I would definitely recommand bands such as Emptiness, Iteru, Paragon Impure, Possession, Goat Torment, Saqra Cult, Amenra, Bathsheba, Coldborn, A Thousand Sufferings, Marginal, Carnation…

Enthroned celebrated 25 years last year, congratulations! How has the journey been, any specific highlights or lows you remember?

Thank you, it has been a wild ride up to now and more intense experiences are to come, I’m sure. There were a few highlights and lows for the last 25 years… Highlights would be being part of the early Black metal current back in the early 90’s, it was another world, surrounding. Touring the world and visiting some amazing places would be another one and meeting interesting people along the way. As for the lows, backstabs and betrayals but that’s one of the things that you should expect, something that gets quite irritating after a while, but it’s a lesson learned. The death of our former member and brother Cernunnos and on a personal level, the day I had to stop playing guitar live due to chronic tendinitis.

If you had to choose you’re favorite black metal album of all time, which one would it be?

It’s impossible for me to choose one single album. I certainly have my top favourites, but they all have something different and unique. I would have a hard time choosing between Mayhem “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, Darkthrone’s “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” and Funeral Mist’s “Salvation”. Those albums have their unique twist, approach and feelings that I really do appreciate.

You don’t happen to do any gaming when you’re not creating great Satanic black metal?

Haha… when I have litterally nothing to do, which is not very often, I read or watch documentaries etc… but it might happen that I play now and then games such as The Witcher series, Assassin’s Creed and the God of Wars games. But I am no gamer, I prefer visiting places, walking in nature, reading and being busy with physical/ material matters.

I want to thank you for your time on answering my questions. Any final words?

All hails, the next thousand years will be ours, it is time for people to realise that BM is not “another music genre” but a limb of Satanism and the Occult. Liftoach Sitra De-Smola B’Shem Ha-Raviasamin H.Stn

Interview: The Great Old Ones

A band that’s been on the forefront of Post-Black Metal for a few years now is The Great Old Ones. With crafty songwriting, a love for H.P. Lovecraft and always striving for improvements they’ve captured the black metal community. I managed to get in touch with the creator of The Great Old Ones Benjamin Guerry (guitar, vocals) and have a few words with him on the upcoming album, the new lineup, Lovecraft and, of course, gaming.

Tell me some history about the band. How did it all start?

I started the project alone in 2009, composing songs without a particular goal. I quickly linked these songs with my Lovecraft readings, and it seemed obvious to me to link these two passions. When I had enough songs to make an album, I recruited musicians and the chemistry was instantaneous. Since the lineup has moved a lot, but the envy has never been so strong.

Seeing as The Great Old Ones is influenced by H.P. Lovecraft I was wondering what’s your favorite work by him? Is everyone in the band into Lovecraft and his work?

This is a question that is often asked, and it is very difficult for me to answer it! I like the vast majority of Lovecraft’s work but If I have to choose some, I can say “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Color Out of Space”, “The Outsider”, and “Azathoth”. Each one of them has something that touches me.

Your latest album EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy was your darkest one yet, both due to the atmosphere and it leaning even more towards black metal than ever before. Was this intentional or did it just become that way when creating it?

When I started writing the songs for this album, I actually wanted a darker, more violent atmosphere. Moreover, it corresponded well to the atmosphere of the story from which they are inspired. And the goal is never to do the same thing twice! We are really satisfied with the result.

You’ve bought in two new members to the line-up with Alexandre “Gart” Rouleau on guitar and Benoit Claus on bass. How much has their involvement had an impact on the sound on the upcoming album?

About the composition, it does not change anything because I always write the majority of the songs alone. But they have a musical level and a very artistic feeling that brings a lot to the interpretation. This will be heard on the album!

You’ve had an album based on the novel “At the Mountains of Madness” and now lately it was the Esoteric Order of Dagon (with “The Shadow over Innsmouth” for example). What will you base the next one on? The Dunwich Horror?

I can’t tell you much because I have to keep the surprise intact. But I can already say that we will propose some things a little different in terms of concept. But still in the lovecraftian universe of course.

What can fans of The Great Old Ones expect from the upcoming album?

Something very epic, violent, but very immersive and varied. Each song has its own soul, and this makes, to our eyes, the whole thing captivating. We are currently in studio with Francis Caste in Paris, and the sound promises to be gigantic!

Can we expect a tour anytime soon?

We take a break after the studio, the time to prepare well and come back with a show worked and powerful. But wait for us for the autumn of 2019!

Any particular bands that inspire you guys when writing music?

I can tell you Emperor, Opeth, Satyricon, but also classical music, movie score, etc.

Do you follow the music scene? If so what was your favorite albums of 2018?

I can’t speak for the band but only for me. I really liked the last Gorod, a band in which our current bassist plays. A real sense of melody! I often listen to the latest Spectral Wound album. A real trip.

As the blog is called The Metal Gamer I have to ask. Are anyone of you gamers, and if so got any favorite game?

Yes, there are some gamers in our band. Gart is a true lover of retrogaming for example. Personally, I have less time to play than before. However, the last blast I had with a game was surprisingly with a mobile game. I really recommend “The Last Door”, which is a point and click in pixel art with a fantastic atmosphere, a great soundtrack, and a very lovecraftian atmosphere.

That’s it, do you have anything to add?

Thanks for the interview. Be ready for a new journey even more intense and epic.

Valkyrja – Throne Ablaze (Black Metal)

Let me tell you some of my history with Valkyrja. First of they were one of the first black metal bands that got me into the whole scene together with bands like Naglfar, Dissection, Dimmu Borgir, Thyrfing and Satyricon. At first it was honestly the name itself that made me try them out (my love for vikings you know) but they quickly proved to me they are a band to be reckoned with. I’ve only really listened to black metal these past six years or so meaning that when I found out about Valkyrja they had recently released The Antagonist’s Fire and I got a lot of love for that album due to it. Looking back I now think Contamination is their best release but obviously knowing they had a new album coming in 2018 I wanted to hear how they sound now as I think their releases differs quite a bit. With Valkyrja having a new lineup with the release of Throne Ablaze it made me wonder how that would impact on both the quality and the way they went with the sound. I took my time to give this albums a few spins as I was afraid the end of Valkyrja would draw near due to those changes. Who would want the bubble to burst with a band you have had a long-term relationship with?

Fact is it’s the lineup changes hasn’t really taken a toll on the band. The aggression from their previous albums is still there, granted a few songs (looking at you “Transcendental Death”) are a bit weak. The memorable catchy songs, riffs and speed is what made Valkyrja easy to get into which shows very well here. For some trve black metal fanatics the production will probably be too crisp, the songs too catchy etc but hate it all you like Valkyrja is a band that’s perfect to bring in new people to black metal even today. They have always had quite long songs which due to the great songwriting, riffs and aggression has worked. It does on Throne Ablaze too but at times I do feel they could have trimmed some fat to make the album have even more power.

There are a few tracks which stands out, a few that kinda disappears but it’s another solid release from Valkyrja. It isn’t as good as the, in my opinion, masterpiece Contamination but seeing the band has both a new drummer in Victor Parri (Desolator, Isole) and singer since Simon Wizén is now both on guitar and vocal duty I was expecting Throne Ablaze to take a major hit in quality. Rest assured it hasn’t though and their fans will have a great time with this album, if this lineup can become stable I think they can hit even higher levels too. If their next album has more aggression (this album was a bit too soft for my liking), is a bit more consistent, manage to captivate the listener better on their longer tracks then the overall experience will be a lot better. Valkyrja did also try to have more variety with those slower songs which I respect and while it didn’t do it for me this time around maybe they can use that way of thinking to create even more memorable albums in the future.

Throne Ablaze won’t change their standing in the hierarchy of black metal, it’s not even their own best offering. However here is definitely music for the black metal fans out there, with tracks like “Crowned Serpent”, “Opposer of Light” (here I think Parri shines) and “Throne Ablaze” being top tier songs. A pleasant surprise from a fan who was expecting the worst.

Written by J.B.

Label: World Terror Committee
For fans of: Watain and Dissection
Release date: November 26th, 2018
Favorite song: Crowned Serpent
Score: 3/5 Good

Lucifer’s Cold Embrace – Elegy of Lilith (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)

Like Naglfar, Dissection and Dimmu Borgir? Good then you’re in for a treat! Martin van Beek is back with his solo project Lucifer’s Cold Embrace which in case you missed it I did review the debut EP back in 2016 and praised it for being a top notch album. Well here we are with the full-length debut Elegy of Lilith and Martin offers more of the same melodic black worship that the likes previous mentioned Naglfar and Dissection has done for years.

Martin has taken the symphonic elements even further on Elegy on Lilith than it was on the Sovereign Heresy where some songs really tend to go closer to the Dimmu Borgir road than before. Still the music definitely lies the closest to Naglfar, which is of no fault as Naglfar is one of the best melodic black metal bands to ever walk this earth. Elegy of Lilith is more than double the playtime than the EP debut was and Martin now has a lot more room to explore the different sides of Lucifer’s Cold Embrace. There is more synths and juicy riffs where, even if this is music close to the influences, Lucifer’s Cold Embrace stands out and is no mere clone. The ten songs the album offers are simply solid and while I do still think “The Gift of Life” from Sovereign Heresy is currently the best song Martin has made this is a more consistent offering, although I do wish at times there would be a bit less symphonic black metal and more “trve black” sounds. The closing song “Legion” also does a fine job giving “The Gift of Life” a run for its money as I find the riffs there being extra icy!

When I last checked I noticed Lucifer’s Cold Embrace have started to get some followers and with this release I can only see that increasing as it’s great black metal on the symphonic/melodic side that is heavy influenced by some of the best bands out there, but with a modern production. Highly recommended!

Written by J.B.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Release date: November 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Legion
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Curse Upon A Prayer – The Three Woes (Black Metal)

Curse Upon A Prayer is for me one of the most underrated black metal acts from Finland, a well kept secret you might say. Since the 2014 debut From the Lands of Demise this Finnish band has shocked many with their songwriting and in many ways been the embodiment of black metal with it’s anti-religion messages. Reason why it seems to shock so many is due to the anti-Islam lyrics, which to me is no different than other anti-religion themes that often occur in black metal. It does seem that both their videos on YouTube (involving the Quran) and shows get cancelled or taken down due to “not meeting the values”, which in my opinion is bullshit. Enough of that though, I just wanted to share some of the bands lyrical theme and background.

So what about the music? Well if you like black metal in the veins of Marduk, 1349 and Gorgoroth then you will feel right at home. It’s aggressive, got blast beats, hate for religion and haunting vocals to top it with. The three songs this EP offers captures the essence of what Curse Upon A Prayer is all about with “Thou Shale Be Cursed” being a highlight not only on the album but the band itself. The atmospheric flair that song offers is exactly the territory I want the band to play around with. While this only offers 16 minutes of playtime it’s a great opportunity to dig into a great underground black metal band, get to know Curse Upon A Prayer then dig into the rest of the discography as the band deserves it. The Three Woes might not turn around any non black metal fans over but it is a short but sweet black metal release that will please any fan of the genre.

Written by J.B.

Label: Saturnal Records
For fans of: Marduk and Gorgoroth
Release date: June 21st, 2018
Favorite song: Thou Shalt Be Cursed
Score: 3.5/5 Very good