Stilla – Synviljor (Black Metal)

I’m wandering on a path that leads to a black pine forest. Behind some clouds of dark a pale lifeless moon does it’s best to give a weak light of shimmering. Eyes of pure evil is observing me when I walk down this road to my aftermath. A road who’d belongs to myths of a long forgotten time.

That is my first feeling when Stilla yet again show us mortals how psalms of nature, darkness and beauty are supposed to sound like. It’s so rotten, so decayed and just so absolutely fantastic. A wisdom of the old past that puts a mark on my soul. Never have deaths breathe felt so invited before, like a trustworthy hand that guides you when it is too dark to see or when you have been lost for a long time.

Stilla (which means still in English) is what you can call a genuine supergroup from Sweden. With members from the north to the south of the country. The members are from such acts (ex- or active ones) like Bergraven, Deranged, Armagedda, Saiva and many more. They where formed in 2011, and even if the band members are occupied with other constellations they’ll have still released four full-length albums, all with an incredibly high standard.

Their latest release is named Synviljor (optical illusions in English) and that is what it is, don’t always trust your eyes. This is perhaps their most darkest and gruesome work of art this far. A simple but such an important thing for me is actually that bands and artist write, compose and perform music in their own language. It gives so much more meaning to everything. To listen at words and phrases of old, together with perfectly composed black metal is not what we get used to so often. Stilla truly are worthy to be named one of the best just due to that.

Since I first heard their debut in 2013, I’ve been so impressed by their spiritual of craftsmanship. So well balanced, even in such extreme music. This could very well be one of the best releases from Sweden in 2018.
An perfect example of Black Metal from Sweden, and that the rest of the world can not afford to miss.

Written by K.P.

Label: Nordvis Produktion
For fans of: Skogen and Grift
Release date: November 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Myr (very hard to choose from)
Score: 4,5/5 Near perfect

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Night Crowned – Humanity Will Echo Out (Blackened Death Metal)

Meet the new kids on the block, a Swedish blackened death machine that’s here to take no prisoners. When a band features current and ex members from The Crown, Cipher System, Dark Funeral and Nightrage then you know they are worth looking into. I will tell you right now that they crush it and live up to the hype! Humanity Will Echo Out might just be a 15 minute EP but damn do you want to spin this over and over again. The vocals are definitely the highlight for me on this album. The new blood in Swedish metal Ken Romlin (you may know him from Disrated or 2 The Gallows) does a fantastic work behind the mic, he has a good mix of styles where you hear black, death and even deathcore ranges.

The synphonic opening on No Room for Hope makes me draw parallels to another good entry to the Swedish metal scene, Zornheym. Which is a good thing as their debut was one of the best to spawn from last year, just like Night Crowned’s Humanity Will Echo Out is this year. Nocturnal Pulse follows it up with an even more memorable track and when All Life Ends close it out I can only think that the one real downside is that it’s “only” an 15 minute EP, I want more. A lot more. At least now I know Night Crowned is the real deal, this is a band that I am sure will draw many followers into their unforgiving blackened death metal style. Apart from Zornheym I hear a lot of parts that reminds me of the usual suspects in this genre Dissection and Unanimated, but also Naglfar, Belphegor, Dark Funeral and even Carach Angren influences can be heard here. Crystal clear production, agressive thundering drumming, catchy riffs and as stated before an increadible vocal performance. What more can you ask for really?

Written by J.B.

Label: Black Lion Records
For fans of: Belphegor and Unanimated
Release date: November 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Nocturnal Pulse
Score: 4/5 Incredible

Lifelost – Dialogues from Beyond (Black Metal)

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Lifelost is the solo project from Phlegeton who is known for creating one of the best brutal tech-death bands around, Wormed. With someone like that behind the wheels to create black metal I was intrigued for sure but was wondering how it would sound seeing it’s a major difference in style. Truth be told this isn’t Phlegeton’s first dabble with black metal though as he is also the creator, along with David Pérez, of the band Wrong which has put out two albums.

Oh boy is this a dark styled album. The album is only 23 minute long but it takes a lot of your energy due to its complexity. Dialogues from Beyond is one of those albums that might need a few listens to fully grasp but once you do you’re spellbound. This is the type of black metal your parents warned you about, it’s not just dark it’s the embodiment of mysticism and fear. I am surprised how Phlegeton can pull something like this off on the debut. I mean sure he is a very talented musician but going from sci-fi brutal tech-death to experimental black metal that’s eerie and has a malevolent atmosphere such as this is insane. His demonical vocals fit this style just perfectly too, it’s a beautiful dark package really.

Dialogues from Beyond is a well crafter album that the only real downside I got is that it’s too short. It’s not your typical black metal experience and some readers might disregard it due to that but I see this as one of the best black metal releases of the year. The foundations of something really great is here, lets hope a follow-up will prove to be even greater!

Written by J.B.

Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
For fans of: Dodecahedron and Blut Aus Nord
Release date: October 28th, 2018
Favorite song: Sepulchral Vault
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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AlNamrood – 10 Years of Resistance (Black Metal)

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This marks a first for The Metal Gamer on two things. One, I’ve never ever reviewed a band from Saudi Arabia. Two, I’ve never reviewed a compilation album. Why not take two birds with one stone right!? For those of you who don’t know who AlNamrood are then let me break it down to you. The band was created in 2008 from the ashes of Mephisophilus plays black metal focused on anti-religion and ancient history. Oh and AlNamrood translates to “the non-believer”, how cool is that?

Before this album I’d actually not heard much from AlNamrood, only a song here and there. Meaning this would be my first full album listen with them. The middle-east influences gets known straight away on the opener “Estorat Taghoot” and it feels epic. I got no idea what these dudes sing about but the music in itself speaks volume. After the strong opener it is a bit of a mixed bag to me with “Fe Al Diaji” passing by quite unnoticed, “Hayat Al Khlood” ends up being one of my favorite songs on the album then “Al Jahliya” comes on straight after. It has a really slow start with the same boring riff repeating until it unleashes at just under the four minute mark. The last minute and half is however great stuff making me got a sort of love and hate thing going. “Endama Tuqsaf Al Rous” does bring a lot more of the black metal agressive drumming, better job with changing up the tempo and flow, making it a solid track and a great showcase on how I want a AlNamrood song to captivate the listener into a black metal trance.

“Asda’s Al Dmar” is an epic seven minute track which does it job without standing out, the only thing I feel here is that should have been closing the album out. The closing track instead goes to “Atbaa Al-Namrood” which is one of the weaker ones on the album. Once the around 40 minutes have played through I feel this could have been a much more consistent journey. The vocals is a bit of a challenge getting used to which you might hate or love, I personally am torn in between. Here are some high and lows but when it’s good I really enjoy it. Also the fact AlNamrood does what they do seeing where they are from is nothing more but the essence of metal, have to give them respect for that fact alone!

Written by J.B.

Label: Shaytan Productions
For fans of: Melechesh and Odious
Release date: July 20th, 2018
Favorite song: Endama Tuqsaf Al Rous
Score: 3/5 Good

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Imperialist – Cipher (Melodic Black Metal)

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As a Swede I am for obvious reasons a bit biased when it comes to music having the Swedish sound, be it sweblack, swedeath or whatever it’s something I grew up with and got close to heart. Enter the new kid on the block who are heavily influenced by the early Swedish black sound Imperialist. Formed in 2013 they released their first EP in 2015 which I think most, me included, missed. Now in 2018 they’ve honed their skills, got signed to the ever so great Transcending Obscurity Records and are ready to take the world by storm with their full-length release Cipher.

What starts with a beautiful two minute intro on “Continuum”, setting the stage well with it’s acoustic guitars and violins gets you into the mindset that this will become an epic ride you might not even be ready for. “The Singularity” follows and ah this gives me a lot of Dissection vibes, which is of course the best vibes. The sounds of Dissection, Thulcandra, Necrophobic and Sacramentum mixed together fuels this beast throughout and does so well. It’s quite refreshing that the lyrical theme is about the future and space, not something I often hear in black metal (especially not when it’s influenced by Dissection) and the only band that really comes to mind that does this well is Vektor. An black album can sound utterly dark and evil yet not being about Satan. Also as the metal gamer I am it’s extra fun to hear that one of my favorite online games Destiny and its lore is what Cipher takes their songwriting from. Hearing tracks like “The Dark Bellow (Crota’s End)” takes me back to the first Destiny game and one of the darkest, meanest areas from it. To me that’s the perfect stage to have when you write a sci-fi oriented black metal album. Even the cover art does a great job portraying Destiny looking like the Orbit.

It’s been some time since I had a black metal album I could spin time and time again while not getting bored. It tingles me all the right ways just not with how it sounds, which in itself would give this album a good score, but it’s songwriting and unique ways to tackle classic black metal speaks to me in ways most music doesn’t. If you like black metal even just a tiny bit I am sure you will come to have a good time with Cipher, even more so if you’re into gaming and sci-fi. Here is a lot of greatness to be heard, riffs to devour you and vocals to take your soul. What a impressive, fantastic full-length debut!

Written by J.B.

Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
For fans of: Dissection and Thulcandra
Release date: October 20th, 2018
Favorite song: Umbra Tempest
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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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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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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