Saturday, July 13, 2013

black metal reviews: Grave Desecrator, Stonehaven, Cnoc An Tursa, Negator, Windfaerer

Before moving on to issue number 37 of Metal Bulletin Zine, I want to show you the updated versions of reviews from issue number 36 BECAUSE these are bands that, I think, are some of the most interesting albums that I have heard recently, mostly in the month of May and June.
-- -- Here are the updated versions of the reviews of Queensryche and Infinita Symphonia that appear in Metal Bulletin Zine #36, the new issue that is now complete.
black metal (ancient)
Grave Desecrator (Brazil): “Deathspells Rising”
I unknowingly lost this album and I should have reviewed it a long time. Like I’m telling you, though, I had not found it until last week. This is actually a 2011 compilation of demo, unreleased songs and live tracks.
Not being familiar with Grave Desecrator, I have enjoyed this collection immensely. Grave Desecrator sounds exactly like the typical South American black/death/thrash bands have historically sounded. They live up to their vicious name and I recommend it only to anyone who particularly loves the first releases by Sepultura, Sodom, Sarcofago, Blasphemy and others like that. They do a cover of “Sacrifice” by Bathory, taking that early black metal track through the meat grinder and making that horrible song sound even more horrid and atrocious.
Due to the variety of recording sources, the sound quality ranges from tremendously awful to unbelievably bad, all done to exquisite perfection. Grave Desecrator is great stuff!
black metal (traditional) Stonehaven(U.S.):“Concerning Old-Strife and Man-Banes” Old, necro, archaic black metal, recorded in a cave. Stories of wars, feuds, conspiracies and treachery, all written in a special language for you. Stonehaven is a necro black metal band’s band. Check it out, “Of the White Fall and Frozen Walls”! How good is your Viking English? Well, I don’t think that this story has a happy ending, nor does the piece called “Cutting the Necks of the Upstarts.” Tremolo riffs summon shrieks and snarls with the appropriate drumming, Stonehaven has reached deep into the history of black metal and barbarian Europe, with such enthusiasm that it must be welcomed by the total-black-metal audience. There’s a time and place, a perspective, embodied in Stonehaven, and you will know as soon as you hear it.
In places all over the world, in metal, there are a few grumpy metalhead musicians who frown at the state of metal where they live. I get the feeling that Stonehaven is one such band. Recommended for those into regional and local black metal bands that are not international rock stars, but that you know are actually pretty good at what they do, and just as important, they know what they are doing, and are not moved by the fickle-minded trends in metal.
black metal (transitional) Cnoc An Tursa (Scotland): “The Giants of Auld”
Negator (Germany): “Gates to the Pantheon”
Windfaerer (U.S.): “Solar”
The clean production of Cnoc An Tursa‘s fast, tight melodic black metal enhances the listening experience by allowing the symphonic and guitar elements to stand out.
In this instance, the songwriting itself goes beyond any genre. Case in point, “Ettrick Forest in November” shows tremolo picking, heavy metal catchiness, and symphonic components in effective unity. The mellower tracks like “Culloden Moor” or the faster ones such as “The Lion of Scotland” all reveal the commonality of emphasis on songwriting.
The audience into “Viking/folk/black”-ish metal will find Cnoc An Tursa to be a fun, strong experience. Plus, you are sure to enjoy learning about Scotland, its history, nature and mythical heroes. Very competent recording!
Negator plays a well-balanced style that is part black metal, part death metal, and executed tightly, efficiently, and in a compact format, with up-to-date studio techniques, as found on current death metal (non-old school death metal). Speaking of style, Negator uses at least four recurring guitar fundamentals: tremolo/black metal riffing; thick death metal riffs; dissonant notes; and chunky thrashing hooks. Vocally, the vocals are both black and death, although the black metal style is more prevalent. Overall, Negator’s music goes to toe to toe with the most popular bands playing blasting/brutal death metal. Negator may not be the most famous of names, but I recommend this to fans of Belphegor and Behemoth, as well as Hate Eternal, and modern blasting metal in general. The difference is that Negator sounds newer to the game, so to the listener they will sound fresh, since this band comes from a black metal approach.
Warning: knowledgeable listeners will know that Negator used to be a lot more of traditional black metal, with their 2004 debut “Old Black.” You should know that they have changed a lot, and have made a push from that style towards Behemoth-style intensity.
Leaving aside that touchy issue of style change, if you just listen, you hear that Negator has taken a jump to running with the big dogs, and it’s the type of energy goes that over well with fans of “extreme metal” in the U.S.
Fans of modern, melodic, fast black/death metal, here is Windfaerer. They will win you over with one listen.
First things first, they play generally fast/uptempo, tight, professional-sounding black metal, with songs that make an impression quickly, so the listener doesn’t have to listen 27 times to understand. Now that you know that, to the point. Here are two things about Windfaerer that I think are identity makers for them.
The guitar work. Above all else, the talent heard on the guitar makes the album. For example, “The Morning Star” displays such a quick-hitting, big riff at the beginning, so that this song closes the album with a bang.
Besides the good riffs, the soloing is worthy of your attention. Some of those notes are, in fact, ear candy. It has occurred to me that maybe those fluid notes are not even guitar, but I do not have enough information or knowledge to tell you. Maybe you, dear reader, should listen to the soloing in “A Glimpse of Light” and see what you think?!!
Secondly, Windfaerer has a violin player and this adds an ear-friendly, different dimension to their metal. It’s a distinguishing mark of Windfaerer, and one that makes the music even more listenable and enjoyable.

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