Sangue “Sangue” (2017)

sangue-ep-cover[Nuclear War Now! Productions]
[Release: 15 April 2017]

The retro revival continues with this EP by Italian debutantes Sangue. “Sangue” means blood, and it goes to figure that that’s what the band is out for, playing blackened death metal in early 90’s style.

The production is kind of wobbly and it makes me remember how a worn cassette tape would sound when you try to record over it for the 17th time. The guitars are really gritty and the riffing style makes them the most black metal of all the elements, while the drums sound lifted straight off one of Bathory‘s first three albums. The bass could be replaced by an extra push of the lower frequencies on the equalizer for the guitars, that’s how much of an identity that has. But at the same time, that is also pretty fitting.

sangue-photoThe vocals are the most unique part of the record. They fill out the sonic stage in a spectral fashion. It might be a make or break type of uniqueness, but I find the style kind of interesting.

Now, the songs are too short and this EP is more of a sampler, running only for 5:37 with two tracks. Sangue would do well to follow up with a proper album within short to keep momentum, but the old-school lo-fi style presented here does not get me particularly excited about that prospect.

  • TBOJ score: 1.5/5
  • DR score: 8

Slagmaur “Thill Smitts Terror” (2017)

[Osmose Productions]
[Release: 31 March 2017]

First off: this album has a lot of low end. A lot! Now, continue reading.

Thill Smitts Terror is the third album by this Norwegian unique sounding metal group. At least I have never experienced music sounding like this before. The production of this album is a continuation of a journey that really started with their last album album, Von Rov Shelter in 2009. A journey to completely envelop the listener in deep bass, sprinkled with buzzing guitars and evil croaking, mostly in mid-tempo.

I tried to fiddle with the sound of the album but I couldn’t get the pounding bass to normal levels with the equalizer I have on hand. It’s really deep seated and permeates every little piece on the record. Except for the symphonic intro and outro that is. The first time around I thought something broke in my headphones when the audio changed so drastically from the first track to the first song proper.

They are a strange group of people, Slagmaur. They play with masks and use wicked stage-names and their real identities are supposedly still unknown. The platform of their music is black metal, but they have turned it into something completely their own. Anyone into the esoteric and avant-garde will probably find something interesting on Thill Smitts Terror. I am on the fence about this one. On the one hand I am interested to hear what the album would sound like with a normal mix and master. But on the other hand, the band has made its choice to present their music in this way, and maybe it would get lost without this over the top conflagration of sonic vibrations.

When the steady beat of the drums sometimes is broken up by devilish chanting you get some chance to breathe, but otherwise this is probably the most oppressive listening experience I have ever made myself repeat on several occasions. Such is the game of the reviewer. I could have put this aside after the first rotation, but I made myself push on, and while not cheaply, Thill Smitts Terror has more than a little something to give. It is not the greatest record I have ever heard, but it is interesting. Good job on Osmose Productions for picking up Slagmaur anyway. I hope that more people get to hear them!

  • TBOJ score: 3.0/5
  • DR score: 5

Persefone “Aathma” (2017)


[ViciSolum Productions]
[released February 24, 2017]

It’s tough when you have so very high expectations of, well anything, and then finally arrive to meet whatever it is you have looked forward to. In pure self-defense I tried to not think too much about Aathma since after its announcement, but the closer the release date crept, the more my spine was becoming titillated by sheer anticipation.

Persefone is one of very few metal groups out of the small nation Andorra, situated in-betwixt France and Spain. They are a serious force, writing complex and ultimately very rewarding music. For years since their inception they were building up to the massive Spiritual Migration album, which landed in 2013 and, after some hesitation on my side, completely blew up the year end list. I was on the verge of writing them off as a metalcore type deal, and not a very interesting one, but since I was reviewing the album (Spiritual Migration was my first contact with the band) I felt I had to play it one more time, and that changed everything.

What Persefone became, and still remain with Aathma, is something so beautifully layered and immensely gratifying that I find myself longing to hear it every now and then. Aathma is up there. The 2017 effort from the band is using all the same ingredients as its predecessor and puts them together in just the right way. The grooving drums, technical stop-go guitars and ever-changing vocals are arranged with remarkable precision and never become too complex. It’s a hard thing to write this kind of music so fluid and grandiose, but Persefone manage, and the band, together with producer Jens Bogren have created a top-notch product.

I have listened to Aathma pretty much every day since it was released and by now I feel almost as familiar with it as Spiritual. For good and for bad. I know for a fact that I really like this album and that it’s amazing, but it’s also harder to describe why without getting too abstract at this point. The short version would be that Aathma is massive, hard-hitting, beautiful, epic, progressive and positioned right at the top of the Best Of 2017.

  • TBOJ score: 5/5
  • DR score: 7

Sons Ov Omega “Reign” (2017)

​[Black Lion Records]
[released February 18, 2017]

The short pieces of this album that I listened to prior to its release were pretty cool, and Black Lion Records have a very consumer friendly pricing on their Bandcamp offerings, so I pre-ordered Reign a few days before it became public. When properly fitted to my head, Reign started playing in my headphones and I was initially quite surprised of what I heard. I thought this would be black metal, with the occasional clean vocals.

Reign is the debut album from the “Swedish Apocalyptic Occult Metal legions” Sons Ov Omega. Their imagery is that of black metal, with painted faces and hooded figures, but the music is moving pretty close to melodic death metal waters. There still is a black atmosphere to the creation, but the band have a sound that is very unique and quite compelling. I especially like the variation in the vocals. Anthropos and Tiamat Invictuz (also on guitar) are together presenting every imaginable style of singing, including growls, screams, cleans and choir-like vocals. Backed up by the groovy drumming of Arktos, the band is then completed by second guitarist Mors. No bassist seems to be credited on the album, and the bass is also very bland (here I go again), so the band should probably go look for someone that could lift their sound with a proper handling of that instrument.

Reign is not lacking in riffing though. The aforementioned guitarist duo are playing very varied styles with colorful riffing and progressive melodies, and then some tremolo shredding and acoustic style plucking. The guitars and their place in the production are hitting the sweet spot where they are clearly audible yet still rough. They are neither excessively surgical, nor muddy or amateurish, but fall somwhere along where some charm is present but the execution is still professional.

Lyrically, the band seem interested in great destroyers, with song titles naming Pandora, Kali, nuclear holocausts and Cthulhu, and further occult/quasi-religious references to the Aztec deity Qutzacoatl and the Hammer of Witches. 

The first track is the one simply called “Pandora.” It’s the longest, and the most alluring with prominent clean vocals and a chorus that sticks in your head. It’s mostly mid-paced and that works very well to build up a great ambience on that track. Next up is “Fields Of Ember,” which is one of the thrashiest songs on the album, and like this it continues. With great variation and lots of different styles blended together in a surprisingly coherent amalgam. As I’ve said, the band take notes from several different genres, including black, death, thrash and progressive metal, but the biggest replay value lies in the catchy-but-never-cheesy choruses that are so prominent in every song.

  • TBOJ score: 4.0/5
  • DR score: 6

Cnoc An Tursa – (2017) The Forty Five

​[Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings]
[released February 17, 2017]

I’d love to keep this band to myself, but they deserve to be recognized more. Picked up by Candlelight Records for their debut, here comes the follow up on the Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings label.

Cnoc An Tursa are described as heavy Scottish metal, and that means folk/pagan black metal. Their music is filled with melody but is still heavy. The aforementioned debut is so good that I have plans to include it in an upcoming Deserted Island Records post, so it was with great anticipation that I finally received The Forty Five this fateful month of February 2017.

TFF opens up with an instrumental intro and then delves into the best track of the album, “The Yellow Locks Of Charlie,” which runs for 8+ minutes and incorporates everything that makes metal my music of choice. It has blastbeats and growl, it has slow and melodic parts, it sees CAT use clean vocals in choirs, and they use classical and native instruments to create that nice sort of contrast to the overdriven guitars and modern production.

Most of these components are used in all the rest of the songs. I would not call any of the tracks filler, but none reach the level of awesomeness that this first song does. The debut was a very homogeneous album, but The Forty Five feels more dynamic, in the sense that it shifts pace and intensity to a greater extent. The band is true to the direction they plotted with the first album, but although they have taken their time to release a second record, it’s missing that little something extra. Maybe I say this because I love The Giants Of Auld so much. The Forty Five is a really good album anyway, and I look forward to listen to it again from time to time, and hopefully see it on par with The Giants in the long run.

  • TBOJ score: 4.0/5
  • DR score: 8

Obitus “Slaves Of The Vast Machine” (2017)

albumart[Hypnotic Dirge Records]
[released February 16, 2017]

Everyone with the slightest interest in metal (should) know about the Edge Of Sanity epos Crimson. Released in 1995, it’s a 40+ minutes long single death metal song that goes through bouts of fast riffing and groovy drumming, interwoven with harmonic slow passages with clean singing. It’s an amazingly coherent mix of moods that drives the dystopian backstory forward. The sequel, Crimson II, continues the story, but does so in a much more fragmented way. Crimson II sounds like a score of single riffs, whereas Crimson (1) really sound like one long song recorded live in the studio. With Slaves Of The Vast Machine, Obitus beats the track length of both Crimson albums, and does so without ever letting their metaphorical foot off your face (from the press release, which says: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”).

From the get-go, SOTVM blasts forth with dissonant tremolo riffing and insanely fast and variegated drumming. The whole image this album conveys is super dark, super bleak, super aggressive. The screamed vocals on top are doing nothing to light up the atmosphere.


Johan Huldtgren (all lyrics & vocals) and Anders Ahlbäck (all music & instruments) started Obitus in Gothenburg in the year 2000. They appeared on a four-sided split in 2001 and released a three track EP in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2009 that they released their debut album, March Of The Drones. While the debut is solid and also built as a single unit (though, with seven tracks), SOTVM is its own beast entirely. I really hope that Obitus finds the audience that I know is out there with the release of Slaves Of The Vast Machine. This album coulda-shoulda appeal to anyone into black metal, but also noise, industrial, sludge, even doom (although Obitus are not slow) and anyone who likes music with screamed vocals/growling.

There really are no holds barred on the intensity of this song, but when the screaming leads of the guitar breaks through it’s at its best, and especially in the last five minutes of the song where everything climaxes and then slowly drifts away. But be aware, this song will stay with you even after its closing.

TBOJ score: 4.5/5
DR score: 5

Ignis Gehenna “Baleful Scarlet Star” (2017)

[Seance Records]

Ignis Gehenna is the name of an esoteric group from Tasmania. There is not much information about them, but my guess is that Nihilifer is alone in this band. And if so, he does a great job with all the instruments and whatever production roles he has taken on as well.

Baleful Scarlet Star is an immense album of blackened black metal. Yes, blackened black metal. In my mind, and to paraphrase a quote from Spinal Tap, music can be none more black than this. Push play on this record and you will have to commit fully, or it will eat you up. You will find no pardon and no remorse from this album, and it’s a hell(!) of a ride!

One thing that lifted my eyebrows is the dynamic range of the album. When measured it came back a 12! 12 is a super high number, and even more so for a noisy and dissonant black metal album. The fact that it supposedly is so very dynamic made me take extra care while listening to it a couple of the times. I used my best headphones and tried to raise the volume a little extra compared to my usual settings. And let me tell you, these songs are immense! While I’m usually very much in favor of the bombastic instead of the stripped down and raw, Ignis Gehenna turn things on its head. They employ the basic drum, bass and guitar machinery. It’s simple, but with thick layering and this gravelly distortion there simply would not be room for poseur keyboards or symphonics.

The drums come off as computer programmed, but they still sound pretty organic. Extravagant drumming wouldn’t fit in these songs anyway, so the straightforwardness of them is easy to accept.

Coming to one of the highlights of the record instead. There are few bands that utilize the bass guitar the “correct” way. Marduk, Fallujah and Atheist come to mind. Oh, and The Ancients Rebirth (but I have only heard them live in concert)! Ignis Gehenna are next, however. Whomever is the four stringer (five?) (six?!), he is walking over his thick cords with remarkable gusto and the pulsating rhythm is really driving the album forward with fretful (get it?) momentum. I was jokingly called “bass hater” by a friend for my recent comments on the neglible significance of the bass. It’s just that most bands use it wrong. Ignis Gehenna do it right! Extra points for finger playing!

Baleful Scarlet Star paints a dark tale of demonic terror, narrated by the nefarious snarls of Nihilifer and audified by, yes, baleful riffing and blastbeats. Now, put on your best headphones and dive into the abyss.

  • TBOJ score: 4.5/5
  • DR score: 12

Skyforest “Aftermath” (2014/2017) Vs “Unity” (2016)

Black metal really is the most DIY-packed genre in metal. In no other sub-order of heavy metal can you find so many one-man bands. Is it really a band then? Skyforest is one such… constellation? No, that doesn’t work either. Anyway… From Russia comes B.M. who is behind all the aspects of this band. He’s a young fella who is seemingly very creative. He has his hands in several other groups, most of which lists himself as the sole member, doing everything.

Skyforest falls within the atmospheric black metal category, and contains all the elements you expect from such. Howling vocals on top of a velvety cushion of symphonic elements, mid-paced and captivating.

General information
I have the remastered version of the album at hand. The original was released in 2014, and the new version became available in 2017. The line-up for the album looks like this:

  • B.M. (composing, guitars, synths, mixing, mastering)
  • Tim/Sorrow (drums, vocals, lyrics)
  • Eija Risen (additional composing on “Aftermath” and “Ascension”)
  • Julia H. (additional vocals on” Together In Death”).

The 2014 version featured a different cover.

On the Bandcamp page it says: “Lyrically, the album is about unity with nature and unity with yourself.” Line-up for the album:

  • B.M. (composing, guitar, bass, drums, lyrics, harsh vocals, clean vocals on “Fading Glow”, other vocals (whisper, speech), other instruments (shaker, naruko clappers), various programming, mixing, mastering)
  • Michael Rumple (clean vocals on all songs, except “A Graceful Spirit” and “Fading Glow”)
  • Robert Bekić (tin-whistle on “Autumnal Embrace”)

Let’s compare the two albums, piece by piece, in a versus battle.


The drums might be slightly better produced on Aftermath, but they are better conceived on Unity.

Unity takes this, but it only by a close margin. On Aftermath the bass is more in the background, while on Unity it is really audible and adds some extra flavor to the songs.

The distorted guitars are rawer and louder on Aftermath. On Unity they are more ambient and almost disappear completely at times. The use of acoustic guitars are great on both albums.

The symphonic elements on Aftermath are like the little brother to the adult Unity. They are very well composed on both albums, but they really blossom on the latter platter. Everything is bigger. And with orchestrations, bigger is always better. Isn’t it?!

The vocals are the biggest winner in this list. The screams on Aftermath are a little bit too shrieky for my taste, and the cleans are not too good at all. A little awkward actually. Michael Rumple is a real star on Unity and I’m really liking what I have heard from his other projects as well at this point.

As with the orchestrations: everything is bigger on Unity. There are some really transcendent moments on the sophomore album and I actually bought the Aftermath album only as an afterthought because I had fallen so hard for Unity at the time.

Winner: Unity


  • TBOJ score: Aftermath 4.0/5, Unity 4.5/5
  • DR score: 10 (both)

You really need to go check both these records out. B.M. is even generous enough to give out them both free of charge on the Bandcamp page when he has free tickets left. But even so, the rest of the time the albums are just $1 USD!

Master Boot Record

​I’m definitely not a gamer, but it’s hard to ignore the charm of chiptune music. There are a lot of artists keeping this nostalgic artform alive, and some even manage to incorporate the style into metal. Machinae Supremacy is one such band. They style themselves SID metal, which is a reference to the SID chip in Commodore 64 computer of yore. 

Master Boot Record is taking this all the way, however. No analog instruments are to be found on the four records that got published in September 2016. In true geek style they are all named after more or less common computer commands, and all the songs titles are references to either functions or files available in old DOS environments and whatnot.

The guy behind the MBR moniker is an Italian by the name Victor Love (a.k.a. Vittorio D’Amore). He has been involved in several other bands, but the MBR records are all very well worked through and not at all something just thrown together. Much care has been taken to getting all the sounds in the right place, and the finished products are four very coherent releases.

I don’t know why he decided to release all in the same month (on the 1st, 4th, 11th and 22nd) instead of spreading them out more, but since I am discovering the records after the fact that doesn’t change matters much anyway. The amount of tracks differ between the releases, but the sound is very much alike across the board. The programmed drums are mostly clicking away in mid-tempo, but every now and then they go full force with double kicking aplenty. The bass is the most natural sounding element of the songs. It is was makes a bass guitar so boring: that you can program it in a midi environment and have it sound exactly like the real thing, but it is mostly there for “support” anyway, so that doesn’t matter. Full disclosure: I’m a bass player myself. Or was, anyway.

The “guitars” are a totally different chapter. Victor has created a very cool distortion effect and the computerized buzzing is very cool. They are still just a rhythmic component though, for the leading instrument is the solo guitar/violin hybrid that plays all the melodies. These melodies are really inspired, and while grounded in video game music, together with the buzzing rhythm guitars I can’t help but think what a recording with real instruments would sound like. I figure it would fall somewhere in between progressive/power metal and melodic death metal.

Though very similar in style, my favorite of the four is number four, C​:​\​>CHKDSK /F, which is the most shredding compilation of songs, but number three has the best cover. For the covers are very, well fitting maybe, but also off-putting to me. I think I might have seen the records back in 2016, but didn’t get interested because the artwork is what it is. But now, I don’t know what could have been better?

Take your time and listen to this collection. I think that you would enjoy it, be you a metalhead or a gamer. Or both.

  • TBOJ score: 4.0/5 (on all four records)
  • DR score: 7

In Mourning “Afterglow” (2016)

Every year since a few years ago I have fallen knee-deep in love with one album in what most of the time is described as melodic death/doom metal. October Tide have struck me twice. Doom:VS did a fantastic album back in 2014. When I finally gave Afterglow a chance I hoped that it would be the top pick of the genre of 2016. I guess the fact that I only heard it now in 2017 somehow has automatically disqualified it.

Afterglow is not a total let-down however. It starts off with a great opening track called “Fire And Ocean,” but unfortunately the rest of the songs don’t quite reach the same level of quality. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why, but it makes the album almost mediocre as a whole.

Is it the drumming? No. Daniel Liljekvist (of Katatonia fame) is a great drummer. He’s never static, but at the same time never eccentric. His style fits In Mourning great.

Is it the bass? No. It rumbles on there in the background, and is never off-putting to my ears. Pierre Stam has been with the band since the beginning of the band’s existence.

Is it the vocals? No. Co-founder Tobias Netzell has a great thundering voice that is remarkably deep. It completely envelopes my head at times while listening. It’s almost like an extra bass.

Is it the guitars? No. At least I don’t think so. There are three persons credited for guitars on the album: Tobias Netzell, Björn Pettersson and Tim Nedergård. I wouldn’t say it’s obvious that there are more guitar players than what’s conventional, and maybe they could utilize these extra resources to a greater extent? The riffing is pretty coherent, without any outlandish extravagance.

I have listened to the album several times, and I have a hard time keeping focus all the way through. I have listened on repeat, starting with the latter songs, but somewhere along the way it all starts to sound too much alike. I really like the style, but In Mourning have not managed to get me on my knees with Afterglow.

I will definitely keep playing the album, but right now I need a break from it. I think I will have to do a follow-up review in a couple of weeks/months to see whether it has grown.

  • TBOJ score: 2.5/5
  • DR score: 6