Flight of Sleipnir – Skadi

Here’s another example of a black metal(ish) masterpiece that operates totally in it’s own soundworld. I wanted to post this one right after Black Anvil because I think these two albums really showcase how brilliant black metal can be with very different examples.

Flight Of Sleipnir plays a hybrid of black metal and stoner metal that doesn’t sound strangely juxtaposed or awkward. It sounds natural and totally ungimmicky. The music compositionally leans in the stoner metal direction with emphasis on simple riffs with lots of repetition but has many aesthetic elements from black metal like the screamed vocals and the buzzsaw guitars. There’s also elements of 70s prog and psychedlic rock on here as well. I would also check out their cover of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes”.

This is not an incredibly dense band. What I love about these songs is that they use simple music to convey complex emotions. They need not use parlor tricks to make you feel deeply. That’s one reason why this album may be my album of the month and a contender for album of the year. It’s full of beautiful music that takes you to a different realm.

Take the first track for instance where just a few riffs get repeated and transported into different guitar tones with various drum set supports until finally, the music comes to a breath-taking halt and we hear two otherworldly voices in harmony (in fact, they sort of remind me of Fleet Foxes, ON A METAL RECORD!!!) lull the listener into comfort and warmth. Then, as the tension peaks, the riff comes back. While the guitars are powerful here, the real star is drummer, David Csicsely, whose amazing fills completely fulfill what all that tension built us up for. Every track maintains it’s own identity and never leaves you wanting to skip any of it.

This music is beautiful, sparingly aggressive, always emotionally powerful, full of variety, and mesmerizing in it’s simple, yet effective approach. I highly recommend it.

https://theflightofsleipnir.bandcamp.com/

 

 

Black Anvil – As Was

Black metal comes in all shapes and sizes. Like the Flight of Sleipnir (review coming soon), Black Anvil synthesizes many influences like melodic black metal, melodic death metal, thrash metal, heavy metal, hard rock, and even a little metalcore, into a single, cohesive sound that sound smooth and unique.

The clean vocals on this album have been the main talking point of many other reviews. They do, in fact, provide a very unique aspect to the album. However, I think the new vocals are just the icing on the cake. For those wondering, the vocals range from a sort of melodic metalcore style you would hear on a mid 2000s Killswitch Engage or All That Remains album to Viking metal-esque vocals to some more robotic sounding, Paul Masdival vocals.

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Black Anvil still provides the great riffs and melody they are known for, but the overall tone is very different than other albums. As a black metal band on the more thrashy/melodic side, Black Anvil has always worshiped the riff as the centerpiece of most of their songs. On As Was, though, the atmosphere and slow build seems to be the main aspect of the music. Now, I’m not saying they’re trying to be Panopticon. Their music still remains very riff-based and concrete. I guess the change I’m trying to describe is this: instead of relying on riffs, constant energy and brutality, things that immediately, and often times, cheaply, tell us “HEY THIS MUSIC IS INTENSE”, Black Anvil dials back their sound and relaxes into a more powerful version of themselves that isn’t afraid to be human and beautiful. After a blast beat section, guitarist Jeremy Sosville will bless our ears with a gorgeous, reverby clean section. The songs build toward bigger moments. The tone is slicker and more appealing. Unlike, a lot of black metal, this music makes you want to listen to it. It doesn’t make you uncomfortable. It’s well-written, sophisticated, and maintains it’s sense of passion and feeling without resorting to genre-cliches or lazy, unthoughtful maximalism. This is hard rock/black metal album Satyricon wishes they made.

Check out their music here:

 

 

 

 

Carbon Colossal – The Disassembly of Earth

Boy, I really spoke too soon when I said I don’t listen to too much death metal.

Carbon Colossal is a California based extreme metal project. The reason I leave the genre as vague as “extreme metal” is because you really get a little bit of everything with this band. There’s certainly a technical death metal aspect to them. This short EP has plenty of machine gun riffing that will make your head spin but they’re not so much the typical Necrophagist or Suffocation clone. They’re more in the line of Gorguts or even Deathspell Omega. The band describes themselves as a “project of passion and honesty” and I think that is an accurate description. Beyond the death metal, there’s also a good amount of black metal and doom metal moments, which I think is what adds the emotion to this EP.

The opening track, “Ignition”, kicks things off with a foreboding blackened-doom chug fest that transitions into what could easily be a 1349 track but then concludes with a sludgy, grimy coda. “Ascension” achieves what I like to call the “locust effect” where there’s just so many layers of dense, distorted, and dissonant guitars that you brain just hears one swarm of sounds not unlike approaching insects. There’s an interesting moment on this track where the fury stops and there’s a very short clean guitar interlude. It’s almost as if this horrifying monster takes a breath to gather itself before you continuing the nightmare. You think you’re off the hook for a minute, but nope.

The last track “Culmination” has a slow, doomy build before rapidly shifting tones into a the most furious moment on the EP. The chaos finally focuses into a great death metal riff at around the 4 min mark and the song starts spiraling into an emotional finale. The vocalist shows off his most impressive screams at this moment as the music pounds forward. Finally, the clean guitars come back to trick you into tranquility but, of course, the monster awakens and we get one last tornado-ass, blast-beat section.

This album is a promising debut and I can’t wait to see what a full length will be like.

PS: The album cover is sick too.

https://www.facebook.com/CarbonColossal/

Draugsól – Volaða Land

I’ve been looking for a recent black metal album to review as the first black metal album on this blog. I love the new Laster album but it just didn’t feel right picking something that could easily be classified as progressive metal or even post-metal as the first black metal album. Perhaps, I’ll review that one soon. No, I wanted something both of high quality but also of something more old school sounding.

Draugsól is one of the many Icelandic metal bands to gain some traction in the last few years. It makes sense that Iceland would be a hub for black metal since the name of the country is basically already a black metal band. Interestingly enough, it was actually Misþyrming’s recent album that got me interested in the more underground side of extreme metal. That album really shook me in a way that a lot music hadn’t yet. Up until that point, I had liked a lot of black metal but it had mostly been black metal that was related to other styles I already loved like symphonic black metal or progressive black metal or Bal Sagoth (power metal with a wee bit of screeching). That album showed me a whole new way of listening to metal. I’ll get into all of that later because its actually a topic I have a lot more to say about it. The point is: Iceland has some damn good music coming out of it.

If you liked Misþyrming and you want something exactly like it, you won’t find it here (look another waaaaay). Draugsól is a very different animal but an animal still worth trying to tame. If Misþyrming is a wild boar in a tornado, then Draugsól is a vulture gnawing on the remains of some roadkill. In other words, this band makes you admire its elegance while at the same time reminding you of your inevitable demise.

For a musical reference point, this new album shares a similar production quality to Mgła’s Exercises in Futility. It’s gritty and Burzum-esque but with more clarity like a thin layer of fog around the whole album. They also take influences from current atmospheric black metal as well so there is a tinge of uplifting triumph in some songs. You get pounding riffs, longing melodies, and some great artwork from Moonroot Art, what more could you want from a black metal album? I only wish I knew what the words meant. 

Buy it.

Favorite Tracks: Track 3 and 5