Nekrokraft – Servants (Black/Thrash/Death Metal)

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I was not overly happy with the Will O’ Wisp debut. It was one of the earlier albums I reviewed but looking back to it I was too nice, it lacked a lot and I’d almost forgotten about the album. How funny that a band can make such an insane leap and improvement in only two years though! The production is miles better than Will O’ Wisp and their mix of death/thrash/black works wonders this time, making you miss Old Man’s Child and Dissection less. You might even be wondering if this could be the new album from Dimmu Borgir at times when they add their more symphonic tracks. In all honesty I wish Dimmu Borgir’s new album had more in common with Servants than with their own album Eonian, because this is simply better and some songs even sound more Dimmu than Dimmu Borgir does themselves. “Lechery” is a prime example to that to name one song. Add the fact Nekrokraft hits as heavy as Necrophobic does and got a similar mix of styles then you know this is a top notch recipe for an album. You might even remember that Necrophobic’s latest offering Mark of the Necrogram got a stunning 5/5 by me, yet my only one.

What makes me love this album and give it such a high score is the fact it never gets dull and it grows with time. There are so many different elements put into this record with such fine craftsmanship that each song stands really well on their own. Doesn’t matter if you take the thrash inspired “Gateway to Damnation” or as mentioned symphonic Dimmu Borgir-like “Lechery” they are all great songs that will be spinning for months to come. Also have to say the vocalist Angst, who is also on vocal duty for Witchery, has in my opinion his best performance yet. There is next to nothing to complain about on Servants really, hence the score.

If you like your extreme metal crushing and unforgiving with some of the most memorable songs of the year then don’t sleep on this one. This will end very high on my album of the year list.

Label: The Sign Records
For fans of: Dimmu Borgir and Necrophobic
Release date: May 4th, 2018
Favorite song: Lechery
Score: 4.5/5

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Grafvitnir – Keys to the Mysteries Beyond (Melodic Black Metal)

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Boy oh boy do I like Grafvitnir’s latest offering Keys to the Mysteries Beyond. I’ve honestly not heard of the band before but a quick look at their discography I could see they’ve been very active, releasing albums almost yearly (counting the demo in 2013 they have even done it yearly) since the debut NâHásh in 2012. Not listening to them before I can sadly not understand how the band has developed over time. To give you an idea on why I really enjoy Keys to the Mysteries Beyond it’s due to my love for another Swedish black metal act, namely Naglfar. Naglfar was the band (together with Dimmu Borgir) that got me into black metal for real due to their melodic take and was a gateway into a whole new genre. Grafvitnir’s sound resemble Naglfar and early Dissection quite a bit, adding a touch of Uada and Ofermod into the mix makes this an offering to the darkness you shouldn’t miss out on.

The fine line between chaos and melodic black metal is met superbly and song after song you are left wanting more of this beautiful darkness. Some might think Keys to the Mysteries Beyond is a generic melodic black metal album however I say it gives the listener a well written album of quality occult music. It’s evil and cold as black metal should be. A good album doesn’t always need to reinvent the wheel, it just needs to be really well made. Oh and I am a sucker for black metal written in Swedish. Personally that gives me a lot of joy to hear lyrics like “I primordiala lågors sken skall uråldriga ögon blänka” (from Vargavinter). That’s an added bonus for me and I always respect bands who makes good songs in their mother tongue.

If you worship Naglfar and early Dissection like me then Grafvitnir is a band you need to check out today.

Label: Carnal Records
For fans of: Dissection and Naglfar
Favorite song: Vargavinter
Score: 4/5

Zornheym – Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns (Symphonic Black/Death Metal)

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There has been a lot of hype surrounding the debut of this black metal band from Sweden. The PR team and band has done a wicked job actually to get the word out, spreading their singles at the right times and even getting a comic out for one of the songs, one page at the time to create even more hype. I for one have been very glad to follow this. Zornheym have created a world with darkness and madness unlike many others have been able to. This isn’t just a music album, this is a complete world almost like it could be something new Dark Horse comics would create. Zorn has done some good songwriter on this album, and his history from Dark Funeral has definitely helped shape Zornheym into a black metal machine with both traditional and fresh ideas coming with it. Bringing together members from known acts such as Diabolical and Facebreaker to help him create his asylum. It’s very refreshing to see. So how is the music then?

The Opposed I’d heard (and read) before and it’s a sweet intro, one of the best tracks on the album. Very symphonic almost Dimmu Borgir like and the references I draw when listening to Zornheym is definitely Dimmu along with Septicflesh and Carach Angren. Horrifying metal that can easily be made into movies. You can see this as Swedens take on that. The instrumental tracks Subjugation of the Cellist, Prologue to a Hypnosis and And the Darkness Came Swiftly works great as sections to guide the listener to the next parts of the story. This horrible wicked asylum of madness and demons that makes me think of one of my favorite comics (and games for that matter) The Darkness. This could easily be the soundtrack when Jackie goes mad within an asylum from the second game (also made in Sweden by the way).

While The Opposed and A Silent God are two great tracks and were the two tracks they chose as singles before the release of Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns. Implementing some nice clean singing with their music really adds a new dimension to the story for me and adds depth to their music. Especially Whom the Night Brings showcase Zornheym on high form whereas Trifecta of Horrors feels like a weaker track on the album where they didn’t utilize that as I had hoped. They have some ways to go before I put them in the same class as the great symphonic black metal acts but their debut is something to build on. As an debut album it’s close to a 4, hence the score, but as a whole with everything they have created around it I could easily give this a close 5.

I welcome Zornheym with open arms and let their madness take me. This is a solid debut with some ups and downs and I can’t wait to hear, and see, what they come up with next.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/zornheym
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/zornheym
Label: Non Serviam Records
For fans of: Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh
Favorite song: Whom the Night Brings
Score: 3.5/5

Deity – Deity (Technical Death Metal)

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Deity were formed by the duo and long time friends Danny Alessandro and John Massey about 15 years ago (!). They have since then worked on material, letting it grow until they felt it was good enough to be released to the world. Personally I am glad they did as they seem to have unleashed the Deity in a pure form of metal.

The intro is a sweet symphony that doesn’t make you think about death metal at all, since it’s simply beautiful, and I was wondering if I really did listen to death metal act Deity. Beginning of Extinction brings the chaos right to my ears though on song number two and now I feel right at home. Take a bit of Suffocation, smidge of Gorguts and top it off with Death then you got the main influences in the sound of Deity. Lovers of technical riffs, no clean singing and shredding beware as this is an album made for you, the way Deity themselves would like it to sound. The album is filled with great solos and riffs that you can’t stand still on and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this Canadian (again a great techdeath band from Canada) duo live on stage as a supporting act to the likes of Gorguts, Cryptopsy or Archspire. Or why not even do it with other up and coming bands like Samskaras and Fractal Generator. Would be sweet lineups!

I think this album rocks. Anything from the instrumental songs From Which We Came, We Now Return, the acoustic In Time to the shredding tunes of Rituals is a joy for my ears. Favorite tracks on the album being Beginning of Extinction, Rituals and Illuminate the Unwilling.

Deity’s self-titled debut is out June 2nd as a independent release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeityMetalCA
For fans of: Suffocation and Gorguts
Favorite song: Beginning of Extinction

Balfor – Black Serpent Rising (Melodic Black/Death Metal)

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From Ukraine I am lucky enough to find a very pleasant surprise. Balfor is a band I personally had never heard of before but the band has actually been active since 2001 (1997 as Alter Ego) and Black Serpent Rising is the bands third full-length. Playing what they themselves call barbaric black metal I was wondering what that meant. Musically it sounds a bit similar to a band I reviewed last year, Unlight or later Keep of Kalessin albums. Whereas their lyrical theme revolves around barbarians (guessing that’s where their genre name comes from).

One thing that really gets me thinking about barbarians is how brutal, yet epic the album starts off. It’s melodic black metal at it’s finest really, the tempo-changes and melodic rhythms are a thing of joy to listen to and it never really feels repetitive as each song is good in their own right. This Balfor horde is definitely a band that fans of melodic death/black metal around the world should know about. One of the biggest surprises this year for me, and it’s not even a new band! It’s clear that these guys have mastered many aspects of metal as it shows ever so brightly throughout Black Serpent Rising. My favorite tracks has to be the more, as I like to call it, “epic barbarian battle hymn” ones, Unbounded Wrath of Venom and Heralds of the Fall. All in all this is a great album, I can highly recommend this to any metalhead out there looking for something new.

Balfor’s third black metal offering Black Serpent Rising is out now through Drakkar Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/balforofficial
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BalforHorde
For fans of: Keep of Kalessin and Unlight
Favorite song: Unbounded Wrath of Venom

Rapheumets Well – Enders Door (Progressive Death/Black Metal)

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Are you ready for a sci-fi concept album? Follow the rogue travler Eryos and how he discovered an artifact that would change his place in cosmos forever. This one hour long journey will leave you wanting more of Eryos and his adventures. Rapheumets Well were formed in 2008, North Carolina USA, after changing name from Blue Man’s God (created 2002). Having had a very wide range of influences on their albums, experimenting in classical, ambience and metal music this band stands out. Enders Door is the bands third release after having told other stories within this multi-verse on Dimensions and The Exile.

One thing is certain when you listen to Rapheumets Well, it’s epic. Much like you find Dimmu Borgir’s symphonic black metal massive and sometimes overwhelms you with their orchestral music Rapheumets Well does the same. Differences are many though. The progressive elements and clean vocals (both female and male) makes you think about The Faceless more than Dimmu Borgir. There is also a lot of death metal influences in the music, still very symphonic, which bands such as Fleshgod Apocalypse are known for. The whole sci-fi take on all this is awesome and at times I think on movies such as Tron or Ghost in the Shell while listening to Enders Door. The different directions the songs take is also what makes Enders Door sick out from the rest. It feels like a movie in musical form, and it’s freaking epic!

I can recommend Rapheumets Well to anyone who is out for something a little bit different. It’s a great concept album with various of influences covering a wide range of genres. I would also love to see this band live, from what I’ve read they seem to make it like a play when performing their music. I can imagine it being a great experience in the veins of what Fleshgod Apocalypse or Carach Angren does.

Rapheumets Well – Enders Door is out May 26th through Test Your Metal Records.

Also with this review I will leave you guys for two weeks. Traveling to Tokyo tomorrow and I will not be reviewing any new albums while there. Hopefully I will get the chance to catch a concert on some of the local bands there though!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Rapheumetswell
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rapheumetswell
For fans of: Dimmu Borgir and The Faceless
Favorite song: Lechery Brought the Darkness

Doedsvangr – Satan ov Suns (Black Metal)

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Now this is the definition of a supergroup if I’ve ever seen one. Or what about this; AntiChristian (Tsjuder) on drums, Doedsadmiral (Nordjevel and Svartelder) on vocals and Shatraug (Horna, Sargeist and ex-Behexen) on guitar and bass. That’s representing some of Finlands and Norways biggest black metal acts of all time. Created 2014 Doedsvangr has obviously had a lot of hype surrounding them to see what beast they would spawn, and now the time is finally here. Satan ov Suns is the bands debut album and black metal fans all over the world be vary, this is some evil shit.

Fans of old school black metal such as Tsjuder, Behexen and Horna will find themselves right at home in this dark pit, as expected seeing the bands origin. Doedsadmiral is putting up yet another amazing vocal performance and he is surely one of the rising stars in the black metal scene. Veterans Shatraug and AntiChristian do what’s in all honesty expected from men of their calibre, a great display of skills by some of the best musicians in the world. If you wonder what the lyrical theme is it’s Satanism and everything around the occult. If there is one thing this trio can do extra well it’s spreading the darkness and evilness through music.

It’s quite hard to review an album made by some of the best musicians I know. For one I have insanely high expectations. When they actually live up to those expectations I find it hard to praise it as much as I should. Because it’s what I expect and I am not actually surprised a band featuring members of this level pulling this off. If it was a debut album from a band with new talent I would say this is the best debut of the year already showing itself. Now I am left here telling you this is a supergroup doing what’s expected of them, delivering an album of fierce satanic art that you need.

Doedsvangr’s debut Satan ov Suns is out now through Immortal Frost Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pg/doedsvangrofficial
For fans of: Tsjuder and Behexen
Favorite song: Diaboli