Soul Remnants – Ouroboros (Blackened Death Metal)

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Yay more death metal, this time with a touch of black in it! A concept album about a futuristic war amongst all mankind none the less. Soul Remnants have existed for almost 15 years now, being formed in 2003, and Ouroboros is the bands third full-length release. The wait has been quite long between the releases but when they have unleashed their music upon mankind it’s always been brutal and freaking sweet. I have to note that their song “Dead Black (Heart of Ice)” appears in the video game Rock Band 4, which is quite cool as I played the first Rock Band loads and there was basically no death nor black metal on it.

Ouroboros starts off full-throttle pedal to the metal straight away with the opener Mechanical Synapse Modulations and the song is over before you know it, almost grindcore like. Follow it up you got Regurgitated and Consumed which slows down a bit, but in all honesty that’s a good thing. This track has a lot more flow to it, feels more like death metal and reminds me quite a bit about Deicide or Bloodbath. Speaking of Bloodbath the third track Depravity’s Lock is a perfect example on how they draw influences from both Swedish and American death metal. Ouroboros is already a bit funny at this stage to me, with each song it’s growing on me where the next song is better than the last. Even though that doesn’t keep up throughout the album it has to be said the second half of Ouroboros is better than the first. Depravity’s Lock remained being my favorite track but there are a lot of headbang worthy material in here and every song from Echoes of Insanity until the end I could also pick as my favorite.

I’d never heard of this band before today but Ouroboros is a solid release and I can’t wait to heard their two other albums to hear how they’ve evolved. This is good American death metal and I can understand how Soul Remnants have shared the stage with the likes of Nile, Revocation, Obituary and Suffocation. A nice surprise that I am sure you will like too.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SoulRemnants
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SoulRemnants
Label: Entertainment One / LifeBlood inc.
For fans of: Bloodbath and Deicide
Favorite song: Depravity’s Lock
Score: 3.5/5

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

Gravewards – Subconscious Lobotomy (Death Metal)

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How about some classic death metal from Greece? Gravewards were formed in late 2015 with Subconscious Lobotomy being the bands first offering to the metal world. What made this band stick out for me and is quite cool is that the demo is limited to 300 copies, in a cassette format! How old school is that!? This reeks of old Nihilist, Massacre and the likes. Due to this the production might not be what most of you are looking for, it has that late 80’s, early 90’s quality which I too can find lacking at times (especially old school raw black metal productions) but it’s definitely something I respect.

Subconscious Lobotomy consists of four songs and they are all ok, nothing more nothing less. This is an album where none of the songs sticks out and it basically just goes through without leaving me something to remember it by. As an debut that’s alright though, even a demo, and they can build on this for their upcoming full-length or EP debut. I’ve never reviewed an demo before so wasn’t too sure on what to expect to be fair.

If you’re a fan of the old school death metal sound, old production quality and the likes then this may flirt with you the right way as it could be sort of an trip to your childhood or something. There is a lot better death metal out as of late though so I can only recommend this to the very hardcore fans of the genre.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Gravewards
Label: Independent
For fans of: Massacre and Nihilist
Favorite song: Crawling Chaos
Score: 2/5

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

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