Excommunion – Thronosis (Brutal Death/Black Metal)

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Been waiting to review this EP for quite some time now and lucky I was to receive it in the latest The Metalhead Box so I could listen to it on an actual cd. Excommunion is a band I am not too familiar with but I’ve heard good stuff about them. The band was formed in 1998, Colorado, and are known for playing brutal death metal with atmospheric black metal elements, which is exactly the reason they caught my eye. That and the two band members Christbutcher (bass, vocals) and Kyle Spanswick (guitars, vocals) both being active members of Nightbringer. So there has to be a lot of potential in a band like that.

Oh and was I right! The opener Twilight of Eschaton is freaking brutal! I swear to you this is an EP you do not want to miss. I understand perfectly what they mean with atmospheric black elements joined together with the sheer force of brutal death metal. It’s a sound I haven’t really heard before but hell I love it. You can hear that this is death metal from members you usually associate with the black metal scene with influences from both Nightbringer and Enthroned being heard here and there. Just like Morbid Angel, Incantation and Immolation makes their influences on Excommunion.

Each track stands tall on their own, none being the weak link. I could choose either one of the tracks for my favorite song, not just due to the four songs being being solid with none standing out. Rather I think they all do in their own right.

Ladies and gentlemen be taken in by this whirlwind of darkness like me, you deserve it. Thronosis is my rite into Excommunion and I am ready for them to lead the way. One of the best releases I’ve heard all year.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Excommunion
Label: Dark Descent Records
For fans of: Enthroned and Morbid Angel
Favorite song: Twilight of Eschaton
Score: 4/5

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Winter Deluge – Devolution – Decay (Black Metal)

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I rarely review albums released in 2016 as they are simply not new enough but seeing as Winter Deluge’s sophomore album Devolution – Decay came out early November I am making an exception. Formed in 2005 as Desecrate this black metal act from New Zealand have started getting a following in the underground scene so I was interested to hear what they are all about.

The raw sound Winter Deluge oozes out screams second wave black metal with a touch of death. Think Immortal having a bastard with Archgoat and they spawned the great Winter. Devolution – Decay got a great flow to it and the songs transition well into the next. The crushing riffs, harsh growling and pummeling drums is something any black metal lover can appreciate and will be sure to get their fill with this album. How Winter Deluge creates the perfect passages between the tracks is what I love the most with the album, it’s so fluent and makes the whole experience that much better. It also leaves me in a bit of a peril, which song do I like the most? With each listen it changes but that just means Winter Deluge has done a great job with Devolution – Decay as it’s an black metal album I am glad I received although almost a year too late. Definitely one of the better albums I missed from 2016 and now you, as well as I, have a chance to get to know these black hearts from New Zealand.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WINTERDELUGE
Label: Frozen Blood Industries
For fans of: Immortal and Archgoat
Favorite song: Corrupt Prophets
Score: 3/5

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

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

Orm – Orm (Epic/Melodic Black Metal)

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After listening to Solbrud a lot these past weeks I got interested to see what else Denmark has to offer this year in the black metal scene. What I found was a band called Orm that’s been supporting The Black Dahlia Murder in Copenhagen last week and will also support Solbrud in a couple months. What’s more is they just released their debut self-titled album, which is released through the same label that released Solbrud’s latest album. Perfect for me to dig into to learn about a new band from my neighbors in Copenhagen!

Orm (name means serpent) were formed in 2015 from the ashes of By the Patient which split-up the same year. While the line-up is basically the same the music is not. Orm uses two vocalists which makes the pitch of the screams and growling have a lot of variation to it. It gives Orm a whole different level to their music of epic and melodic black metal. With five songs clocking in on 42 minutes you know you’re in for a ride of long songs, something that can both help or hurt you as a band as you might lose the listeners interest but it can also create very memorable songs with loads of great segments to them. Orm’s debut is definitely the later as I love every minute of it. The changing of tempo, variation in not only vocals but also instrumental play during the songs keeps me hooked throughout. As a debut I think this is freaking sweet and I can’t wait to hear more from Orm, and try to catch them live with Solbrud later this year.

Denmark might not be known for their vast black metal scene (Merciful Fate/King Diamond being someone that started it) but are now experiencing a new wave of black metal that I am beginning to love. Myrkur, Solbrud, Satanic Assault Division, Slægt and Orm are just some bands who have spawned as of late.

I can definitely recommend Orm to black metal fans all around the world. A solid debut they can build on.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ormband
Label: Indisciplinarian
For fans of: Solbrud and Nightbringer
Favorite song: Apotheosis
Score: 3/5

Heresiarch – Death Ordinance (Black/Death Metal)

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From New Zealand Heresiarch has since the bands formation in 2008 been taking it’s time to release an actual full-length album, after having released two EP’s prior Death Ordinance. Heresiarch music is complete chaos, honestly at first I had a really hard time grasping the concept of this music and it was all over the place to me. Give it time and it grows on you though. An apocalyptic experience is of course not easy to take in and the chaos it brings forth can be too much for any metalhead.

My first listen I was on the verge of giving this album a miss as Consecrating Fire and Storming Upon Knaves left me wondering if this is even worth it. Then Harbinger comes and I get a song I can start appreciate this chaos and comprehend. That’s how Death Ordinance keeps on going for me though, back and forth in thinking “do I even like this album?” while on the next song thinking “this is brutal and cool!”. When I gave it a second spin I did enjoy the album more but it’s too much even for me and it gets ridiculous at times leaving me with mixed feeling to say the least.

Harbinger and Desert of Ash are the two songs I will take with me from Death Ordinance. If you want an chaotic ride through the apocalypse then this might be the thing for you. Personally this is not the jam for me though.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/heresiarchcult
Label: Dark Descent Records
For fans of: Diocletian and Witchrist
Favorite song:
Score: 2/5

El Camino – Cursed Congregation (Black/Trash Metal)

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El Camino is an interesting act from Sweden. Their music draws a lot of influences from the great Dissection but they have their own unique touch to it with adding trash, doom elements and some H.P. Lovecraft into the mix. What comes out is nothing short but freaking awesome. I haven’t listened to El Camino before, actually I hadn’t heard about them until they were announced for this years Mörkaste Småland so all of this comes as a surprise to me. Formed in 2003 from the ashes of death metal act Vermin the band do have some Swedish veterans within their ranks and have already released a couple of full-length albums (along with EP’s and splits).

What I really enjoy with El Camino and Cursed Congregation is how it flirts with the old school sound of different genres and just feels really authentic all around. I can see this being a band that sounds just as good live as on cd. The riffs and old school atmosphere is sweet and grabs you hook line and sinker. IOMH, Cursed Congregation, Vengeance and the Häxkraft songs are really freaking great! Some songs doesn’t quite catch my attention though (Stars and Silence for example) which lowers the score a bit from this otherwise awesome first experience with the band.

Want to try something new with an old school feeling to it then El Camino’s third album Cursed Congregation is for you! Cursed Congregation is out now through Night Tripper Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/elCaminocvlt
Label: Night Tripper Records
For fans of: Dissection and Vampire
Favorite song: Cursed Congregation
Score: 3.5/5