Abduction – All Pain As Penance (Black Metal)

One-man black metal project from the UK Abduction is back with the third full-length album in just as many years, a very active project to say the least. Created by Phil Illsley (Taken by the Tide, ex- Lordaeron) in what I believe would be 2016 (no real data anywhere that I can find other than that the first demo was released in October 2016) Phil has been quick to craft more and more music. Funny fact for us metal gamers but his old death metal band Lordaeron is indeed named after the Warcraft kingdom and the lyrical theme revolved around Warcraft lore. Abduction is far from that though as here we got black metal of the cosmic kind.

Having had no previous experience with Abduction I jumped with into All Pain As Penance not really knowing what to expect. One thing I was a bit afraid off is the sheer amount of albums he has put out, would that affect the quality or not? What I can tell you is that All Pain As Penance is a fine release, were fans of Mgła, Uada and Behexen will feel right at home (albeit Abdication has a different lyrical theme approach). It’s haunting melodies will trap you in its web just to consume your soul into the vast abyss. I also need to recommend the different parts at play here for a solo project. The vocals are just as raucous as one can expect when it comes to black metal, while the drums and guitar are working so well together you could think it was trance. I always find it astonishing when all this is made from one person, where none of the elements are the weak link and even the production is perfectly mixed. When it all ends in the monumental track that is “The Funeral of Cosmic Mastery” I almost get goosebumps.

I will be honest with you metal gamers. All Pain As Penance almost made me fall of my seat one its first spin, there is so much clicking with me here I have a hard time knowing where to start. I will start by saying Abduction checks every box I usually look for in black metal, a spiritual journey that almost makes me have an outer body experience. I can only imagine hearing this live, experiencing the same kind of transcendence like when Mgła or Uada perform. Production value that just hits the rights spots and memorable songs I will be listening to for a long time coming. I haven’t been able to put this record away since I started listening to it a week ago, that alone speaks for itself. It’s a joy to my ears with only the likes of previously mentioned Uada and Mgła (can they please release something new soon!?) can beat and Abduction has now found a new fan.

Written by J.B.

Label: Inferna Profundus Records
For fans of: Mgła and Uada
Release date: March 29th, 2019
Favorite song: The Funeral of Cosmic Mastery
Score: 4.5/5 Near perfect

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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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Kuilu – Monumentti (Black Metal)

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Finland, a land of a thousand lakes but also a land that many says have a bit of a melancholic feel to it. It’s dark, gloom environments and weather can do that to a person. Kuilu knows this all too well and their black metal can only be described as melancholic black metal at it’s finest. If I didn’t know any better I would have had a hard time telling this is a debut album because this seems to be the work from seasoned musicians. Formed in 2010 Kuilu have certainly bided their time and honed their craft to create a well written debut that I’ve revisited many times by now. At first I wasn’t in the right state as I was expecting more furious and heavy hitting black metal in the veins of Sargeist or Baptism. While Monumentti wasn’t that at all I came back to it only weeks later, had a new mindset, and found the doom elements, dark and melancholic tones along with the fitting vocals to be nothing but great. Think more Wayfarer and Uada type of black metal and you’re way closer than your “typical” Finnish black metal acts.

This is an atmospheric album that pulls you in if you let it. It might take a few listens but I’ve come to really enjoy Monumentti and as it is right now it stands as one of my favorite black metal albums released this year. Hopelessness, a melodic and melancholic void that’s really sweet music to the ears if you’re in the right mindset. The guitar work especially is something I need to highlight. It’s really captivating and one of the main reasons I enjoy spinning this album from time to time. Kuilu showcase a style of black metal I find very fitting for a Finnish band and they definitely go straight to the higher tiers within this realm of black for me alongside previously mentioned bands Wayfarer and Uada. Question is of course if they can do an equally good or even better album next time around (something for example Uada in my opinion failed to do). One of the best debut albums this year that challenging the listener and worth revisiting many times. Hopefully it doesn’t take eight years for a new full-length but word on the street is they are working hard on their second album already! From now on I will also include the Spotify links in my reviews if I can as sometimes I review an album before it’s out or it’s not on Spotify.

Label: Deviant Records
For fans of: Wayfarer and Uada
Release date: May 5th, 2018
Favorite song: Sisyfos
Score: 4/5

Kosmogyr – Eviternity (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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What an interesting duo there is in atmospheric black metal band Kosmogyr. The two members Xander Cheng and Ivan Belic are from China and Czech Republic respectively creating an international band that’s really crossing borders. Eviternity is the duos debut album and it sure packs a punch.

The album is atmospheric black to its core with Ivan’s vocals giving it that black second wave kind of feeling to it. It’s melancholic beautiful music that’s yet made with a destructive force in mind. While listening I get hints of Emperor just as much as I do with bands like Grift, Uada and Panphage during the album. The change of pace and use of different instruments such as violins throughout the album are well placed and it’s really interesting to know that a duo so far away from each other can work so well together on a debut album. Eviternity also offers great song-writing all around which is a good reason on why I will probably return to it more than once this year, it’s got good replay value and leaves its mark.

There hasn’t been too many atmospheric black metal albums coming my way this year compared to last year but when they do they’ve been on good quality. Kosmogyr delivers a solid debut that’s worth any atmospheric black metal fans time and one they can build on for future releases.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Panphage and Uada
Release date: March 9th, 2018
Favorite song: Frailty
Score: 3/5

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

Nekrokraft – Will o’ Wisp (Black/Death Metal)

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Nekrokraft is a rather new band being formed in Linköping, Sweden 2012 and got an EP released during the same year, Witches Funeral (Reborn in Fire). Since then the band has gone through a lot of changes, adding new members (from four to five) and changing some (bass and drums). With the changes the band has been ready to work towards releasing their first full-length album named Will o’ Wisp, which came out from the ashes in late 2016.

The band draws a lot of influences from the old school black metal scene from legends such as Emperor and Immortal with a hint of death metal Behemoth and Dissection style. There is much to like on this album, it’s melodic yet punishing and the vocals are just what I am looking for within black metal, angry with hissing shrieks and screams that gives me the chills. Lyrical wise it’s what you expect from a black metal album, occultism but taken from folklore (also a reason the album is named Will o’ Wisp I take it), a concept I like and had a bit different touch to it due to it. All seven tracks on the album are of high quality and I had a really hard time picking my favorite song from the album. Which eventually actually lead to a choosing a song at random from Worship, Hellfire and Armageddon Unleashed.

Only downside of Nekrokraft’s first full-length album is the length of it, clocking 23 minutes. I personally feel anything less than 30 minutes is more of an EP than a full-length album. However you do get 23 minutes of great black/death metal and fans of the dark arts will surely enjoy the will o’ wisp symphony.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nekrokraft
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Nekrokraft
For fans of: Immortal and Emperor
Favorite song: Worship

The Metal Gamer Top 20 Albums of 2016

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Just in time for Christmas I’ve made my choice of 2016’s best albums. The only rule I have to be in this list is that the album has to have been reviewed this year by me. Meaning, even if I love the album, no Jomsviking by Amon Amarth, Magma by Gojira or no King by Fleshgod Apocalypse for example. Reason I started this blog was initially because I wanted to use my English more and I have friends asking me for new bands quite often, hence I stick to the lesser known bands out there and will continue to do so. They are by no means any worse though, as a matter of fact all these bands should be known by every metalhead out there! Anyways without further ado here you have my top 20 albums for 2016 (in no order).

Krepitus – The Eyes of the Soulless
Wastewalker – Funeral Winds
Nordjevel – Nordjevel
Gatecreeper – Sonoran Depravation
Fimbultyr – Niddikter
I Shall Devour – The Misanthropist
Wayfarer – Old Souls
Netherbird – The Grander Voyage
Saor – Guardians
Uada – Devoid of Light
Ereb Altor – Blot – Ilt – Taut
Volturyon – Cleansed by Carnage
Centinex – Doomsday Rituals
Shokran – Exodus
Dawn of Demise – The Suffering
Hyperion – Seraphical Euphony
Illdisposed – Grey Sky over Black Town
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Be’lakor – Vessels
Whispered – Songs of the Void

Last of all I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you next year and stay metal!