Waldhexen – Ego Canus Lunam Cano (Black/Death Metal)

It’s funny what a band with members scattered all around the metal sub-genres can do when coming together. You got members currently active in Blurring (goregrind), Abdicate (brutal death metal), The Crimson Edge (melodic black/death metal) while having a past from bands such as Goemagot (slam), Infernal Thorn (black/thrash) and Kalibas (black/death/grindcore). That’s a lot of experience, within a wide range of genres and it’s definitely heard in the new band Waldhexen.

It’s rather low-fi production brings the thoughts back to old school black metal and it works in Waldhexen’s favor and their black/death sound. It’s a flurry of riffs and where the drumming stands out to me with it’s fast, aggressive playstyle that sets the tone nicely. The vocals are also something that stands out as the different styles used aren’t something I usually hear in a, mainly, black death metal album. You can hear a variation of vocal sounds often heard within the scenes of punk, black, death and slam/brutal, all in one short three songs EP. Quite awesome really and at first I thought it might be a bit all over the place, lacking focus and maybe not knowing exactly where they want to go with this album. But those thought quickly diminished as when I write this haven’t been able to let the album go and am well into my 6th playthrough.

This might not be a record for everyone, but it is create thinking coming to life which is not something you hear too often and for that I applaud Waldhexen. Personally I had an sweet time with Ego Canus Lunam Cano and can’t wait to hear what the band comes up with next time around. Because this is simply a taste of what’s to come I’m sure.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Waldhexen
Label: Independent
For fans of: The Crimson Edge & Cursus Bellum
Release date: January 12th, 2020
Favorite song: The Oblation of One for Many
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Interview: Ursprung

Interviewed: Andreas Axelsson

The ways of old still live on as bands such as Ursprung carries the ancient rituals, songs and poems to life. Ursprung was formed in 2016 and has been ever so productive with several albums already under the belt. As their latest release Líf – Dauði came out less than a month ago I was happy to be able to get an interview with the creator Andreas Axelsson to talk about not only the band but what paganism means to him.

How did Ursprung start?

It started in 2016, I was making the first dark ambient nordic inspired songs during the nights of my days off. It was not intended to be my full focus at the time. I was very much intending to play Black Metal, but I had no success assembling a full band with sane and sober people who had any kind of driving force in them. Eventually Ursprung was all I was left with, amongst the wreck of all other projects I was working on at the time. And it felt very right for me to be doing this nordic thing, and shortly after my second release, En Psykonauts Elegier, I discovered Wardruna and I instantly knew what I wanted to do. I felt strong, safe and at home doing what I do.

A major influence is obviously the ways of old, mainly pagan and viking ways. How much do you incorporate these into your daily life?

Since the start in 2016, I’ve had this “do it yourself” spirit. Making blowing horns, nordic inspired jewelry out of bone/horn/wood. Always trying to learn new things, its a constant learning process. There is one story about Odin that I like and try to blend with my own life. The story about his eye and gaining wisdom in change. Sure one could argue it symbolises a bunch of things. But valuable personal sacrifice for wisdom is my personal take on him.

You seem to travel a lot to find inspiration. Got any favorite places to visit when you need new Ursprung material?

There is a place called Verdandi close to where I live, its a little “island” reaching out over a little lake surrounded by a forest. That is also where the cover photo is shot for Life – Death.

You’ve been extremely productive since you formed. Is this going to keep on being a thing or are you slowing down now after the release of Líf – Dauði?

No, I am already writing on 6-7 new song ideas.

I might be wrong on this one but as far as I know Ursprung hasn’t performed live yet? Will that happen in a near future?

Yes, I’m assembling some things to be able to perform live, hopefully this year. The good people & friends behind the band Blue Eyes are helping me out enourmously by allowing Ursprung to use their rehearsalroom. Check them out, great musicians.

What drives Ursprung forward?

Many things, first of all I’ll say that Ursprung NOT politically charged and is no ideological crap. Ursprung is above that. I’d like to show people there are more things to this culture than how people tend to view it. And I do this probably mainly because how it makes ME feel strong and at home with myself, something I can also be proud of that I’m doing. It feels natural to me, this is me! And surely there must be more people out there that can hopefully feel the same. I am sure I could rabble up a bunch more about this.

Your lyrical theme, while still being on the ways of old, has a lot of different themes with your last album focusing on life and death. What will we get to hear next?

You will probably hear alot more of my poetry, and shamanism blended into it. Also talking to my drummer about doing certain ritual songs for different blots of the year.

What’s next for Ursprung?

Stepping up on stage and performing live. And another album is also in the works. Probably both will be done around the same time. We will also make some music video soon.

What’s your dream festival to perform at? I know for example a lot of people have Wacken as their dream but in your case it might be Midgårdblot?

I don’t know really if I have a certain dreamplace to perform at. But I do say Midgardsblot would be most fitting to perform at.

On the same type of subject. If you were to book a world tour, with you as the headliner, who would you bring with you?

Nytt Land, Sigurbodi, Heilung and Wardruna. They would steal the show though, those amazing musicians.

That’s all I had for this time! Thanks for taking your time and may 2020 be another great year for Ursprung. Any last words?

Thank you too! Hell Oden, Hell visdom! Tusen tack.

Albums of the month: December

December was, and usually is, a slower month just like January so it was no surprise there wasn’t as many killer releases this month as we’ve been blessed with for quite some time now. That being said we still got some solid albums to keep us busy for the Holidays with the biggest surprise definitely being The Acacia Strain dropping an album out of the blue. Next up will be the album of the year list. Look for that in the coming week! Don’t forget to follow the Spotify playlist and support all the bands and labels from this article.

Album of the month:

Sargeist – Death Veneration

Who would of thought four tracks that didn’t make the wonderful Unbound album last year would make an even better EP? I honestly think this is some of the best material I’ve heard from Sargeist. Wicked Finnish black metal!

Sargeist – Death Veneration was released December 24th via World Terror Committee.

Runners-up:

Helleborus – Saprophytic Divinations

I was not already sold on Helleborus with their 2016 debut The Carnal Sabbath (read the review here) but with Saprophytic Divinations they’ve evolved quite a bit and this album fell just short on becoming album of the month. Great album that spreads this poisonous flower to a wider audience.

Helleborus – Saprophytic Divinations was released December 6th via Redefining Darkness Records.

Daemoniac – Dwellers of Apocalypse

These Italians knows how to make class swe-death with the 90’s sound intact. Their second album is a step up from the first and should fall right at home for death metal fans around the world.

Daemoniac – Dwellers of Apocalypse was released December 19th via Xtreem Music.

Ashen Horde – Tintregen

I didn’t know about Ashed Horde until their release of Fallen Cathedrals in March this year. They’ve quickly become a band I listen to regularly and their new EP Tintregen is killer. This is a very productive band that shows quantity and quality can coexist.

Ashen Horde – Tintregen was released December 17th as an independent release.

Halphas – The Infernal Path into Oblivion

German black metal at its peak (with a lot of Finnish influences). Halphas is becoming a force to be reckoned with!

Halphas – The Infernal Path into Oblivion was released December 13th via Folter Records.

More great albums of December:

The Acacia Strain – It Comes in Waves
Ethology – Ascension Of The Ancient Organism
Ursprung – Líf – Dauði
The Old Dead Tree – The End
Horrid – As We Forget Our Past
Infectious Disease – Savagery
Officium Triste – The Death of Gaia
Skullcrush – Archaic Towers of Annihilation
Astaroth Incarnate – Ascendance
Verthebral – Abysmal Decay
Oath of Cruelty – Summary Execution at Dawn
OAK – Lone
Fen – The Dead Light
Horrified – Sentinel
Cemetery Gates – Chernobyl
God Disease – Hymns For Human Extinction
Northwind Wolves – Mountains and Darkness
Gutted Alive – Killing Desire
Jordablod – The Cabinet of Numinous Song

Aeons Abyss – Impenitent (Death Metal)

A duo from the land down under, Australia, created in 2017 a death metal band named Aeons Abyss. With melodic riff driven death metal heavily influenced from both the death and thrash metal of old where bands such as Obituary, Morgoth, Entombed and Megadeth comes to mind the band released their debut EP Pity Eloquence in February. They haven’t stopped there though and just months later we now have their debut full-length album Impenitent in our hands!

Opening up with the title track it quickly becomes apparent just how much their style draws inspiration from previously mentioned bands. Easy to say I love this stuff and Aeons Abyss grabs my attention from the get go. One thing that does stand out for me is the vocals. That pure powerful voice where both low growls and mid shrieking is used in a way you don’t hear all that often in this day and age is something that might put some listeners off, it did to me at first too. Given it a few spins though it went from being what I thought holding the album back to its strong point. Funny how things can grow if you just give it time and really dig into an album, one of the things I love when it happens because those are the albums that usually sticks with you.

The intro to “You Shall Be As Gods” is another thing I came to love, the Victorian era type of intro which then falls into sweet midtempo riffing is a thing of beauty. Their previously released single “Darkness Falls” then ups the ante and delivers supreme headbanging worthy riffs where the Obituary influences shine. Two completely different takes on death metal but both executed so well. Which is exactly where I will end this review. Aeons Abyss has created wicked old school death metal where they take some of the best points from different styles and make it there own. It’s really refreshing and a real grower. You might not love Impentient on your first spin, hell you’ll probably have to be an old school death metal fanatic like me to begin with, but I assure you if you give it time you’ll only beg for more.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Aeons Abyss
Label: Independent
For fans of: Obituary and Morgoth
Release date: November 1st, 2019
Favorite song: Darkness Falls
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Creeping Flesh – Into the Meat Grinder (Death Metal)

Sweden isn’t just famous for Ikea, meatballs and knäckebröd, but we got a little something called death metal that flourish here too! Creeping Flesh from Gothenburg is quite fresh, formed in 2013, meat that’s now creeping Into the Meat Grinder with their full-length debut. Prior this album though Creeping Flesh has been releasing material with haste as they released two EP’s and a demo in a three year span. Me being completely unaware of the band before this full-length didn’t know what to expect but safe to say it quickly became apparent that going into this meat grinder would leave me utterly destroyed.

“Tank Corps Unleashed” with the mighty Jonny Petterson (Gods Forsaken and Wombbath to name a few) kicks off the album in class, damn that tune hit me hard and got me in a good mood when writing this early in the morning. A great featuring to say the least. One would think that Creeping Flesh might have done a bad decision in pulling all the stops on the opener but hell no they did not! “Black Twisted Limbs” turns out to be even more… twisted and already Creeping Flesh eradicate my doubts on how they handle themselves without help. Then a much faster track, with a bit of that Gothenburg melodeath flair to it, “Stench of Guts” comes on and now I’m just completely sold on these guys. Old school death metal a la Obituary, Asphyx, Hail of Bullets and especially Bolt Thrower meets the riffs of At the Gates. It’s just a great match and your neck will get sour. “Zaamurets” is even more groovy and I can just see myself throwing first in the air when this songs gets played live. The album never loses momentum and the way they change style and tempo just a tiny bit from song to song keeps it interesting and each song stands well on their own. Hell I had a really hard time choosing my favorite song due to this, they are all good in their own way haha. If I had to choose my top three though then “Tank Corps Unleashed”, “Black Twisted Limbs” and “Zaamurets” will have to be it, basically you can say that first half of this album is close to death metal album of the year material.

Into the Meat Grinder just blew me away, super tight death metal that combines the old school death metal sound with a bit of melodic death mixed into it and Creeping Flesh is now a band I will follow very closely. Sure you might argue they don’t really add anything new to the vast ocean of death metal but when it’s made this well, with top notch production value to boot then I say it’s one of the best death metal albums you will hear all year! The album drops today, and I advise you to grab a copy. Not only because it freaking owns but you will also support independent underground death metal while doing so!

Written by J.B.

Artist: Creeping Flesh
Label: Growls From the Underground
For fans of: Bolt Thrower and Asphyx
Release date: September 25th, 2019
Favorite song: Zaamurets
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Interview: Arx Atrata

One of my personal favorites when it comes to atmospheric black metal is Arx Atrata. The one-man band by Ben Sizer is a thing of beauty and I still remember having their album Spiritus in Terra spinning while visiting The Highlands of Scotland, the perfect soundtrack to these magical lands. When I got to know Arx Atrata is on their way to release a new album October 11th titled The Path Untravelled I couldn’t pass the opportunity to have a chat with Ben!

Hi Ben! First thing first, how did Arx Atrata come to life?

About 10 years ago, I had been listening to a lot of atmospheric black metal and a lot of blackened doom, and felt inspired to try and come up with a blend of the two. The project was going slowly at first, but soon there was a new wave of British black metal bands emerging – Winterfylleth, Fen, Wodensthrone, and similar – and the influence I took from their sounds and themes formed the last part of the puzzle. By mid 2013 I’d got five songs together that I felt were a good representation of where I wanted to take things, and that winter they were released as Oblivion, the first album. The reception to that was far more positive than I could have hoped for, and as a result I’ve been working on more material ever since.

You’ve had a steady three year gap between each album, is that by choice or it just happens?

It just happens. I spread my songwriting time across multiple acts and, like almost all musicians in this genre, I obviously have a day job as well. I’d love to be like Iron Maiden in the 80’s, releasing an album every 18 months, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.

You’re also a member of the band Twilight’s Embrace. Which band do you focus the most on?

Generally speaking it’s a matter of taking turns, focusing on one and then the other. There’s obviously a lot of work leading up to an album release and then a fair amount afterwards, but then things die down and there’s an opportunity to switch to another project for a while. Twilight’s Embrace had to take a back seat over recent months while I got this album finished, but that time is coming to a close now. I also play guitar in a band called Fjords (https://www.facebook.com/fjordsofficial/) who have their debut album out this winter as well, so it’s been a busy year.

Arx Atrata has a new album titled The Path Untravelled incoming that’s set for a release on October 11th. How has the process gone while writing it? Anything you done different from your past two albums?

For the most part my process is always the same. I produce lots of ideas for parts of songs, then I pick the best ones to base songs around, before continually adding to them and refining them. The songwriting happens over a long period of time and since I do it all in my home studio it only really finishes when the final mix is done. I don’t produce demos and then re-record them ‘properly’ – it’s just an ongoing process of refinement until each song is ready for release.

One thing a bit different this time is that I wrote a lot of material that didn’t make it onto the album, not because it wasn’t good enough but because I needed to pick the most cohesive collection of songs for this release. So maybe the next record won’t have to take three more years – but I’m making no promises!

Speaking of The Path Untravelled, is there a special song on the album you think stands out and might become the next “Legacy” so to say?

I’m happy with all the tracks on this album, so it’s hard to pick a favourite. However, I think the title track is perhaps the one I’m most pleased with, because it covers almost all the musical ground I wanted to show with this project. But I think the listeners will decide which song or songs are the best!

What’s your main influences when you write a song?

Often I start out inspired by some other band, trying to understand what it is that I like about their music and trying to write completely new music in their style. But I only do one or two sections that way, because I think it’s important that each song has a blend of ideas and influences.

As mentioned above I was very inspired by recent UK black metal acts, but I also love a lot of atmospheric black metal acts, from the harsher sounds of Darkspace and Paysage D’Hiver through to the lush ambience of Lustre and Eldamar, and especially bands that bridge the gap like Coldworld. Finally I’ve been impressed by recent black metal acts that keep the fury of traditional black metal but have very interesting melodies and atmospheric layers, like Der Weg Einer Freiheit and The Great Old Ones.

To my knowledge Arx Atrata has never performed live? Will it happen?

That’s correct, there have been no Arx Atrata shows yet. I hope that will change one day. Assembling a line-up of musicians to play live is not easy, however. I’ve had some interest but nothing can happen until I can get a full complement of positions filled.

Reflecting back on the nine years you’ve been working on Arx Atrata what’s been the highlight so far?

Every release is a highlight for me. Both the previous albums got a good reception and seeing that was very rewarding, especially positive reviews in respected print media like Terrorizer.

You work in the gaming industry I’ve been told. How long have you been doing that for?

That’s right – I’ve been a game developer since 2006, so about 13 years now.

What game have you had the most fun working on?

It was a huge privilege to have been able to do some contracting work on Everquest Next, because obviously the Everquest franchise is a cornerstone of online games. Sadly that game got cancelled during production but it was a great experience to work with some industry veterans on a historic game series.

How much has games influenced your music writing?

Video games have often had great soundtracks, and I’ve especially enjoyed those of the Deus Ex series, Thief, Splinter Cell, and Mass Effect. Composers like Michael McCann, Sascha Dikiciyan, Jack Wall, and Eric Brosius have created memorable works without needing to go down the route of emulating Hollywood orchestral scores. I often find myself trying to capture similar moods to their music in my works, especially in the parts that are more synth-heavy.

Lyrically, a few of the themes I write about have been inspired by the plot lines of the darker games I play. I don’t want to write about mundane things and often the high drama and world-changing decisions in those games can be the seed of an interesting premise for a song, especially if I can relate it to the real world. I suppose it’s not much different to Steve Harris of Iron Maiden writing several songs about films – the art we enjoy makes us think, that helps us make new art, and the cycle continues.

I obviously have to ask! What’s your favorite game of all time?

My favorite game of all time is Ultima VII. It’s a classic RPG from the early 90’s with a great storyline, strong themes, memorable music, and a vast world to explore. I must have lost hundreds of hours to that game, taking notes, memorizing runes, exploring dungeons, and completing quests. I’ve played many RPGs since then but none quite beat it.

Thanks for your time Ben, looking forward to hear the next epic journey from Arx Atrata! Any shoutouts?

Thanks for the interview, and look out for The Path Untravelled on October 11th!

Be sure to follow Arx Atrata on social medias and check out their upcoming album The Path Untravelled when it drops October 11th!
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Albums of the month: May

What a month! This year for metal has been good overall, granted some months better than others but May oh my…. There has been not just one, nor two but six albums I could consider album of the year contenders! How freaking sweet is that (and bad for my wallet)!? That being said the album of the month was very very hard to pick and hell even the top five won’t consist of the all the albums that might find their way into the yearly top ten! Hope you find some great metal here, be sure to check all the band out and comment your own lists here, on Instagram, Twitter or on Facebook as I would love to hear them! With this album of the month article I am going on a vacation to Prague for a bit over a week. Catch all of you metal gamers later!

Album of the month

Vale of Pnath – Accursed

Wow what a journey Vale of Pnath has had! They’ve always been of my favorite techdeath bands, much do to their black metal influences, but they really knocked this one out of the park! A perfect five in my book and a crown jewel in their already great, and growing, discography. Released May 17th via Willowtip Records.
Read the review here

Runners-up

AngelMaker – AngelMaker

From one of my favorite techdeath bands we have one of my favorite deathcore bands. Angelmaker is not just mine but also my wifes go to band when we want some deathcore quality. This is their most varied release yet and I absolutely love it! Released May 31st as an independent release.

Misþyrming – Algleymi

This is in my opinion the best black metal release so far. Even with strong releases from bands like Nordjevel, Abduction, Murg and their countrymen Sinmara I think Misþyrming got an edge and Algleymi has been one of my most played albums since its release. Released May 24th via Norma Evangelium Diaboli.

Warforged – I: Voice

Warforged was probably the band I had changing up and down the most if it was going to be my album of the month or not. What an experience! Add the very cool music video for the whole album and you got yourself a great time. Released May 10th via The Artisan Era.
Read the review here

Murdryck – Födelsen

My biggest surprise of the month. My partner in crime K.P. was all up in flames over this release and it didn’t take more than a couple of songs to understand why. Nearly perfect black metal in the Swedish old school way. Released May 1st via Leviaphonic Records.
Read the review here

Honorable mentions

Decomposition of Entrails – Abnormality
Darkthrone – Old Star
Krypts – Cadaver Circulation
Nihility – Thus Spoke The Antichrist
Entrapment – Imminent Violent Death
Kampfar – Ofidians Manifest
Kull – Exile
Ontborg – Within the Depths of Oblivion
Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno
Firelink – The Inveterate Fire
Mordbrand – Döden/Efter Döden
Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion
October Tide – In Splendor Below
Amon Amarth – Berserker
Abnormality – Sociopathic Constructs
Osiah – Kingdom of Lies
Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia