Unleashed - As Yggdrasil Trembles
Released: March 19 Genre: Viking death metal Label: Nuclear Blast
Bassist and vocalist Johnny screams Viking death metal! Viking death metal! on the third track, Wir Kapitulieren Niemals, and that's really as quick a rundown of Unleashed's sound as you'll get.
In 3:27 you get the core of their sound, the raw old school death metal production, the lyrical approach and the general take-no-prisoners attitude.
As Yggdrasil Trembles retains some of the charm and brute attitude found on Hammer Battalion, but it's still somewhat mind-boggling when you consider how little this band has changed or evolved in their 20+ years of existence. If you've heard an album or two by this band, you've definitely heard the style presented on As Yggdrasil Trembles. Unleashed are reliable and you know what you're going to get, but since they've basically been doing their thing since 1066 or thereabouts, you're either a hardcore fan (and loving it) or you're like me and can't really stand it anymore.
Burzum - Belus
Released: March 8 Genre: Black metal Label: Byelobog Productions
If one considers the amount of media attention Varg Vikernes has generated in the past year or so, one can only come to the conclusion that he's a black metal superstar.
One of my esteemed colleagues on UG dubbed it the most anticipated extreme metal album of all time, and I can only agree. It was clear that whatever Varg pursued musically would be controversial, because people find him to be just that.
Obviously the genre does not remain the same, and from a musical perspective Belus is about as controversial as my rug. Time has not stood still in Norway and it's not 1994 anymore and thus black metal like the one found on Belus is more or less run of the mill. With that being said, Belus has its appeal with black metal done Varg-style, complete with lo-fi production, a guitar-sound that would make Andy Sneap cringe and Varg's trademark shrieks. It's not Hvis Lyset Tar Oss Part 2, but then again what is?
Alcest - Ecailles de Lune
Released: March 29 Genre: Black metal/post-rock/shoegaze Label: Prophecy
Ecailles de Lune has a distinct post-rock/black metal vibe to it, yet it does not. People who have followed this article series may remember a french band called Amesoeurs that were featured in March 2009 if memory serves right. Like with Alcest, Amesoeurs was a band that could be difficult to grasp. I suppose that's the effect of the shoegaze-influence, which at times is pretty intense on Ecailles de Lune. Long, heavy passages with a wall of distortion coupled with female vocals, not relying so much on traditional vocals and lyrics, as treating the vocals as an instrument like any other. The result is nearly hypnotic when they manage to hit home with all the ingredients.
Ecailles de Lune is a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde-type of album. You have a mean black metal streak to it, and then you have the female vocals and the shoegaze-sound. The glue that holds it all together is however the melodies that pop up at just the right time and keeps the album from growing too schizophrenic and thus I'm over the moon about it.
Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons
Released: March 8 Genre: Punk/metal, thrash Label: Peaceville
Casual fans will forever remember Darkthrone for their black metal efforts with the minimalistic production, or the photoshopped cover of Transylvanian Hunger that circulates the internet.
However, Circle the Wagons and their other recent efforts has little in common with those releases and is more akin to punk-metal, and early primal thrash. Production-wise, it is by contemporary standards very much a raw, garage-sounding album with minimal editing and polish.
It is a bit of a pity that Darkthrone have, at this point in time, released what feels and seems like a thousand albums. When you open a dictionary and look up the word prolific', there ought to be a picture of or a reference to Darkthrone. Circle the Wagons has some good tunes, good riffs and a big bucket of ugly, yet unmistakeable charm. It is the antithesis of all the over-written and over-produced modern metal albums we hear and read so much about, but with that being said, let's not flood the market with albums like Circle the Wagons. It is enjoyable and charming because it is raw, gives a big nod to the old days and because it is far from perfect.
News and tidbits from the past month:
That's all for this month, thanks for reading and as always you can recommend/suggest albums for the coming months by dropping me a message.