Karg – Dornenvögel (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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Austria have done so much for the people, who have always had the music attached to the heart, or very close to it. All the way back to the 18th century and forward, that is the first reason of two.

The second one is, that if there is something that will make all metalheads say something good about Austrian metal/atmospheric scene it’s because it’s legendary..with bands in the frontline like Belphegor, and for me, a personal favorite…Summoning. But this is not an article about them, this is about the one man band Karg (not to be confused with the Viennese Hardcore act, with same name).

Karg is here with it’s sixth full-length released album, Dornenvögel (German for The Thorn Bird). V.Wahntraum, more famous as the multiartist J.J. Who also is the driving vocalist behind Harakiri For The Sky.

Karg was formed in the summer of 2006, and between 2010 to 2014, it existed as a “complete” band, meant for the live scenes. Karg stopped to play live in June 2014 for various reasons, but it has not stopped J.J. to continue his work in the studio, and in 2018, he succeeded to deliver his latest work.

The sixth studio album, Dornenvögel, may be his most complete album to date. An album that is not afraid of speaking about sorrow and grief in the most depressive, direct way. Phrases of misery, that seems to be forever stuck in the shadows, but still..still there is also a melancholic touch, with that in my mind..I will say that it’s a divine hand trying to reach in the dark after it’s partner to find a path through the mist. Karg have also made a excellent choice of guest musicians from acts like Lunar Aurora, Downfall Of Gaia and many more. Because of this release, a reincarnated Karg will be risen up from the ashes to perform live in 2018/2019.

There is so much influence from genres, that I lose my count, with everything from Post Metal to Shoegaze, Grunge, but never without the Atmospheric Metal as a ground. The result. An magnum opus with dark dystopian tales…pure art from this multiartist (that is also the creator behind a very beautiful artwork, so to say). A work that will grab people to the core, with it’s music, with it’s lyrics, and conquer the souls in a never-ending loop of solitude.

Written by K.P

Label: AOP Records
For fans of: Alcest and Harakiri For The Sky
Release date: November 16th, 2018
Favorite song: Advent
Score: 3/5 Good

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Vreid – Lifehunger (Melodic Black Metal)

37332763_10155275267032202_6849947339281399808_nA lot of you probably knows this but I will say it anyway. Vreid was formed after Windir split-up due to the death of Valfar. The band is seen as one of the big ones in the vast Norwegian black metal scene. Lifehunger is the bands eight full-length album, meaning they are clearly veterans of black metal by now. Personally I think both Windir and Vreid have released a lot of great albums during the years with very few, if any, bad albums. With that in mind I obviously had high hopes for Lifehunger, especially since I loved the singles I heard prior to the albums release.

What starts off oh so well with the beautiful intro Flowers & Blood onwards to One Hundred Years and Lifehunger, two of my most played tracks this past month, becomes a big mess in the end. The Dead White is ok by all means but already there the quality drops, it feels a bit uninspired. Then the worst choice of a track on Lifehunger comes on, Hello Darkness. I can’t even tell last time I heard a song so out-of-place like this one. Not only that, it’s not a good song by itself either. The album does pick itself up a bit with Black Rites in the Black Nights but there is no real life to that track either. Sokrates Must Die and the instrumental track Heimatt ends the album on a high note at least, but the damage is already done. I had a lot of hope for this album, it could have ended in my top 40 end for the year list, but instead it’s a disappointing end product were two great songs can not save it from being rather mediocre by Vreids standard.

This is incredibly hard to set a score on in the sense it has some of the highest highs but also lowest of lows. I will definitely keep on listening to a couple of the songs mentioned many times in the future as well but I will probably not feel like re-visiting the album as a whole again. Biggest disappointment for me this year as I expected a lot more from Vreid than this. With this review I also present the new score graphics! Original design made my Mörtuus Art (check out the official The Metal Gamer t-shirt) while edited by Rob “Baggers” Baggaley.

Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Windir and Cor Scorpii
Release date: September 28th, 2018
Favorite song: Lifehunger
Score: 2.5/5 Decent

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Revenge Prevails – False Hope Cruelty (Black/Death Metal)

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In Sweden there is a thriving underground black metal scene so there is no surprise Revenge Prevails is another promising act from the country. The band formed in 2008, it took it’s time to find a stable lineup and the debut album Dark Trembling Solace had to wait to see the light of the world until 2015. The band is quite influenced from the second wave of black metal where you can hear a lot of dark mysticism a la Mayhem for example but also some of the crushing agression that Dark Funeral offers. The album starts off really well with sweet varied riff after riff and Josef Svensson raspy vocals being just as good as they were on the debut. Having the female bass player Isabella Ramare accompanying on vocals is big step from their debut and it does add variation, with more power to their shadow concept as well.

There is two flaws on the album to me though that does bring the score down from what it could have been. Just like I thought on their debut this is too long of an album. There are very few bands out there who can do over one hour albums well without losing the listener in the process. Sadly this was not the case here. There are some highs and lows and well when it lasts for this long the lows feels lower than they are to me. The inconsistency along with the length holds the album back in my opinion. Sadly it doesn’t matter then if Revenge Prevails does a great job feeling rather unique with their music (one of the reasons it was hard to add “for fans of” and it’s probably a bit off), which is not that easy today, and have some memorable songs. These two things does add two really big bumps along the road though. Also I have to add the album cover doesn’t do it for me, maybe because I am used to a lot of covers being great work of art nowadays.

In the end it’s a good journey, albit a bit too long. If they trim the fat and make the journey a bit shorter then I think they will reach a new level and it the overall experience more enjoyable. Into the Depths, Shapeshifter Dawn and Habeas Corpus are examples of great songs that I will come back to often. They’ve also made some steps in the right direction from the debut but I do think they can make even bigger leaps to get closer to the top.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Dark Funeral and Mayhem
Release date: August 4th, 2017
Favorite song: Habeas Corpus
Score: 3/5

Golgata – De Dömdas Gryning (Black Metal)

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I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Swedish black metal band Golgata last year when I did some album searching. A quick recap on the band. They come from an county in Sweden called Småland, an area that has giving the metal world bands such as Skogen and Netherbird but also one of the best black metal festivals in Mörkaste Småland. The EP I reviewed Trälen was a good album and better than their debut Industrial Thoughts, however I personally hoped they would go all Swedish on their lyrics and also have an even more atmospheric approach as I thought that sound was a greater fit for them.

I am happy to say that’s exactly what they’ve done with their third EP De Dömdas Gryning! When it comes to the underground Swedish black metal scene, especially those bands that sing in Swedish, I think this is when it all comes together perfectly. The raw and melodic style is still intact but with a lot more atmosphere to it, it’s very easy to get caught up in this music and everything that happens around you means nothing. It’s just you and the music. Golgata has done a fantastic job improving with each release and it’s safe to say this is their best EP yet. 13 minutes of pure Swedish black metal that I’ve now listened to for days and can’t get enough of. If you’ve missed Golgata before now is the time to dig into their discography, listen to their journey as a band and witness how a new dark underground act is rising from Sweden once again. Also I need to know one thing that’s been driving me nuts. On the opening track Profet the intro and outro reminds me of something, if it’s from a movie, series or whatever I do not know. I just know I’ve heard that part, or something very close to, many times but from where? If you do know it feel free to comment!

That note aside you will do best to give De Dömdas Gryning a few listens, especially if you’re a fan of bands like Skogen, Dråpsnatt, Stilla and Auðn. One of the better black metal offerings I’ve heard all year and I can only hope Golgata releases a full-length sooner rather than later.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Skogen and Dråpsnatt
Release date: August 30, 2018
Favorite song: De Dömdas Gryning
Score: 4/5

Blood of Serpents – Sulphur Sovereign (Black Metal)

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Blood of Serpents have been a rather unknown Swedish force but have slowly gained a following after some great live performances following their debut album Black Dawn. However to reach the next stage something needed to change for the sophomore album. In comes one of my favorite vocalists Thomas Clifford (Throne of Heresy, Abscession) ready to take them there and what a match it is. While I thought Black Dawn was a good debut it wasn’t that memorable, it missed some of that hard hitting edge I look for in this type of music. Now with Sulphur Sovereign I get a massive dose of onslaught coming my way. Where Black Dawn was a mid-paced black metal effort with some atmospheric parts to it Sulphur Sovereign is straight up Belphegor, Marduk and Dark Funeral style with it’s fast, powerful and relentless sound. While I personally love this style there is a thin line on creating an album that doesn’t become monotone due to it. The singles have been great for example but does 46 minutes of blast beats do the trick or become boring? That’s where the songwriting and having variation to it all is very important, so that the songs don’t feel like one big mass. In some ways this is where I think Blood of Serpents have not really found their way yet, there are a few songs that are simply too similar to eachother, which lovers the overall enjoyment somewhat.

The first few songs for example do tend to sound like one long track due to this. Whereas “As the Temple Burns” make a great job adding the variation I crave for in a full album of this sort if I want replay value. It’s bit funny really, track by track this album is close to perfect from what I look for in Swedish black metal but when listening to the album back to back then there is too much of the same candy so to say. Which to some will be just perfect though, and it is to me in some ways too mind you. If you like your black metal relentless and well produced like me then this is a must have, make no mistake. Just understand it can give you a feeling of having too much of the good things and it might have been good for the album to be a bit shorter, or have some more variation to it.

Blood of Serpents are better than ever though! This is exactly the path they should continue walking and I am certain they will gain more fans as they’ve taken a giant leap as a band (has to be said they had some line-up changes but hopefully found a stable one now). There are things they can do better but this is the type of core sound I want them to build on. I believe this is a new start for the band that will take them further than ever before. Fans of fast aggressive black metal that the likes of Marduk and Belphegor offers will enjoy this release a lot.

Label: Non Serviam Records
For fans of: Marduk and Dark Funeral
Release date: September 25th, 2018
Favorite song: As the Temple Burns
Score: 3.5/5

The Metal Gamer becomes a Club Abraxas sponsor!

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When I started The Metal Gamer it’s always been to support the underground metal scene. While I will always enjoy sharing music and reviewing albums I’ve wanted to do more than just that. It just so happens I got the opportunity to sponsor the local scene in my town Malmö, Sweden! Starting with the Oktoberfeast event featuring Venenum, Slægt, Maligner, Armory and Völva the 20th October. It is a privilege to be able to sponsor the underground metal scene for real with helping host plenty of events just like this one for a long time to come. I have said it before metal gamers but I will say it again, always support your local scene! If anyone of you happen to drop by one of the many events coming up for the rest of the year then feel free to have a beer and say hi! This is a new chapter for The Metal Gamer that I am really excited about and hoping it brings a lot of joy to the underground scene.

You can find the announced events here:
Oktoberfeast (Venenum, Maligner, Slægt, Völva, Armory) – October 20th
Day of the Dead (Necrophobic) – November 2nd
Nekrokraft, Orm, The Generations Army – December 8th

Deus Vermin – Monument to Decay (Blackened Death Metal)

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Hailing from England Deus Vermin have been biding their time since their formation in 2014 until this year to release the debut EP in form of Monument to Decay. What a crushing debut it is! This is filthy blackened death done the way that scare the hell of your relatives, drawing influences from some big acts like Dragged into Sunlight and Deathspell Omega. It’s a really heavy release and it’s playtime of almost 21 minutes seems to be just about enough for an EP, any more and you might just have been laying in a mush from the crushing riffs. I for one can not get enough of this kind of underground metal. Sure I am a lover of the old school Swe-Death sound and it’s something that’s extra close to me but when I hear music like Deus Vermin does it just tingles me the right ways and feels so evil. That being said not every band can do it right, these guys does though! While they definitely draw influences from the bands mentioned before I think the closest I get are Desolate Shrine, Ritual Necromancy (who also released a killer album this year) and Corpsessed. If you’re a fan of any of those bands then this is for you.

Monument to Decay feels like a really complete EP and they sure used their time to create this right. From the intro to “Planetary Illness” it’s a tight blackened journey that proves it hard to pick just one favorite track. This is underground candy that even though I am sure you’ve heard this before it’s well executed and shouldn’t be something you sleep on. I know for a fact I will be coming back to this EP several times this year. Deus Vermin simply produced an extremely heavy EP with no bullshit that’s really tight. What more do you need?

Label: F H E D
For fans of: Corpsessed and Ritual Necromancy
Release date: June 15th, 2018
Favorite song: Iniquity
Score: 4/5