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

Ereb Altor – Ulfven (Viking/Black Metal)

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Free is the Ulfven! The start of Ulfven is a lecture in tales and mythology from the viking ages which lay down the grounds for what is to come. Eventually it blasts off with En Synd Svart Som Sot, the single some of you have probably heard prior to this albums release, which is an epic piece of work that takes Ereb Altor’s Bathory connection closer than ever. If you don’t know who Ereb Altor are then you should know their music is as close as Bathory that you can get in this day and age. Being formed in 2003 from the core of Forlorn and Isole Ereb Altor have been a band every Bathory fan just has to love, me included. Their whole discography is an homage and filled with Bathory like music we all have come to love and respect. With six full-length and one EP prior Ulfven that’s been nothing but top notch viking/black metal music it’s interesting to hear if they can keep it up.

Ulfven is everything Ereb Altor is all about, epic fucking music. With me having Blot – Ilt – Taut as one of my favorite albums last year you know I am a big fan of this type of thing. Ulfven is just as good, if not better initially as the first songs makes me wonder if this is Ereb Altor’s best work yet. However the last songs, which are bonus songs mind you and not on the standard version, lacks and leaves me a bit disapointed after that start of an album. Either way those are just bonus songs and should be seen as such so I am not laying too much value on them.

All you need to know is Ulfven is Ereb Altor on form, showing their teeth and devouring the world bringing ragnarok to us with their music. This is an album any fan of the band or Bathory should get. You know what the best thing about the album is? It is out today from Hammerheart Records!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ErebAltorOfficial
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ErebAofficial
Label: Hammerheart Records
For fans of: Bathory and Primordial
Favorite song: En Synd Svart Som Sot
Score: 4.5/5

Theotoxin – Atramentvm (Black/Death Metal)

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Are you a fan of Belphegor, Behemoth and Dark Funeral? Good then this is something for you! From Austria a band has started brewing a vile toxic plague that will eradicate religion that’s poisoning our minds. Featuring members from Zombie Inc., Hollenthon, Raising the Veil and Molokh these guys plays aggressive black/death metal that is sure to get you pumped up. As a fanatic listener to Belphegor and the like I was of course pleased to hear an album that’s very close to their style. A bit too close perhaps as it lacks originality but to be honest I don’t really care. I am happy to listen to a new band with a debut album that crushes hard like the more known acts within the scene.

All this anger and hate coming out through this music fuels me. It’s raw evil power that both scares and amuse me at the same time. Devoured by Sin opens up Atramentvm really good like a tank on full speed, and it doesn’t intend to stop… 28 minutes of full-throttle black/death metal madness against religion is what Theotoxin offers. Nothing more, nothing less and sometimes less is more. This is the type of music you turn on when your mad or simply wants to let some steam out, hit the gym or what not. Great debut and I hope Theotoxin continues down this path, refine their sound and makes an even better sophomore album. As of now I am happy to have found this hidden gem that is sure to please many metalheads out there.

Atramentvm is out now as an independent release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheotoxinOfficial
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Theotoxin666
Label: Independent
For fans of: Dark Funeral and Belphegor
Favorite song: Devoured by Sin
Score: 3.5/5