In this brand new installment, instead of sharing bands that I personally discovered, I decided to invite Askrinn’s mastermind Valenten who has been kind enough to recommend 4 of his most favorite underground albums of 2015. See what he has to say below.
A bunch of days ago, I received an email from Lyubomir, proposing me to write an article in which I would showcase some of the black metal bands I had recently discovered. Although, it was a great idea and I felt delighted to write something for SBM again, I also started feeling rather anxious as I had not bought many new CDs over the last few months. Which, in my mind, meant that I did not discover a lot of new bands. Of course, I could be talking of the new Varathron EP out on Agonia Records, or of the new Vreid and Kampfar albums, but those were bands I had already known of for a long time.
Therefore, I decided they were not the best choice I could make. Anyway. I eventually came up with four very different black metal albums which I believe yo should give a listen to as they are definitely important underground releases of this year. Here they are:
Havukruunu – Havulinnaan
Label: Naturmacht Productions / Genre: Pagan Black Metal / Origin: Finland
Let’s start this list with something very solid. This bands hails from Finland, a country which is not the first to come to my mind when black metal is mentioned. They are actually singing in their mother tongue, which is something I appreciate a lot as this highly recognizable language is rather uncommon in the genre, and is therefore giving the band an enjoyable personal touch. Humö, the band’s vocalist, delivers a sincere and convincing performance, skillfully mixing clean singing with raw screams. To be honest, I am not a big fan of clean vocals, but in this album they perfectly blend in the pagan atmosphere. Indeed, in terms of sound, I cannot help but think of Bathory when I listen to this CD, probably because of the (numerous) folk-inspired riffs that punctuate the songs, bringing to life an epic and melodic universe that simultaneously retains the raw energy of black metal. The comparison may feel awkward, but do you guys know of Wyrd? In particular their “Aijeke” song?
Well I gives me a little bit the same feeling as when I listen to Havukruunu’s offering: asensation of primitive/primordial, authentic, folk black metal, although “Havulinnaan” has got a much cleaner and much more positive sounding production. In the end, I can only recommend you to listen to that album if you’re looking for something fresh, innovative and evocative.
Aries – D’ombres et de flames
Label: Self-released / Genre: Black metal / Origin: France
Here we have something completely different, under the form of an interesting EP by a freshly created French band. The music is raw, and the approach is rather traditional for black metal, but it doesn’t make it a boring album – far from that. The compositions are indeed pretty well-structured, with some cool transitions between effective guitar riffs supported by a highpitched melodic guitar often playing in tremolo picking. I can’t help but tap the rhythm on my desk while listening to this album (of which I am very proud to own a signed copy).
On the lyrics side, I think that Aries has done a very good job at writing poetic texts, filled with interesting metaphors and historical references. The second track, “Souvenir du pays de France”, is even based on a magnificent poem composed by the famous French author François René de Chateaubriand (17681848), a major writer of the 19th century Romantic era.
So it is an interesting album, fueled by an obviously serious conceptual work, that Aries is giving us here. I hope their next opus will be at least as good, maybe with a little bit more experimentations on the music side. For now, this solid debut EP is available for 5€ only on their store which makes it a nobrainer, because it sounds great!
Grift – Syner
Label: Nordvis / Genre: Atmospheric black metal / Origin: Sweden
I have to confess I am not listening to DSBM/Atmospheric bands a lot. There are several good bands out there, but there are also a lot of oneman projects which, while they sound okay, are not really creative. However, I am regularly checking out the releases of Nordvis, as I know it is a serious label who tries to put quality albums out. And Grift’s offering Syner, available since last September, is definitely something great.
The music is truly evocative and melancholic. It is a little bit funny that I talk about it just after Aries’ references to Chateaubriand: the feelings I have when I listen to “Syner” are very close this world-contemplating melancholy that is so characteristic of the Romantic period. The ambiance here is actually quite complex. Sometimes you can hear folk/medieval influences, sometimes you delve into reverberated drone-like guitar walls, regularly supported by effective piano melodies.
What I also enjoy is that the album is very coherent. The songs are literally all very good: there is no downtime, no part where will you think “okay, I am getting bored with this, he’s just repeating the same riff over and over”. The atmosphere is indeed built progressively yet without overusing repetitive patterns. Top-notch atmospheric black metal!
Wallachia – Carpathia Symphonia
Label: Debemur Morti Productions / Genre: Symphonic – Pagan black metal / Origin: Norway
Something for the old school symphonic black metal fans, I guess. This album is a kind of re-release mixed with some new tracks that’s why I am putting it last on my list since it’s not completely new. Basically, there are three freshly recorded songs (also available on Debemur Morti’s bandcamp since August), a remastered version of the band’s debut album “From Behind the Light” (dating back to 1999), plus the 2009 “Ceremony of Ascension” album. The result is a nicelydesigned digipack with 2 CDs.
The sound is very good and the composition efficients. Of course, you may not be surprised by the older songs if you already know Wallachia, but this album is definitely something you may want to give a listen to if you like keyboard-supported old school black metal (I am thinking of Limbonic Art in particular, but not only). The newly recorded songs are pretty catchy, too, and well-thought, giving a fresh touch to this solid release. I particularly enjoyed “Arges - The River Of The Princess”, a re-arranged version of an older song.
I think this album is a great way to approach Wallachia, in fact. In the same digipack, you have both old and new material. It seems as if the band, proud of its past, is now looking at the future and I can’t wait to discover the new sounds they will release. In the meantime, it’s a great opportunity to finally own their classic 1999 album!
A word for the end
Well, you now have four releases to check out, although I reckon you may already know some of them if you’re following the labels whose releases I have been presenting. What about you? What black metal CD have you recently bought? Which great bands have you discovered over the last few months? Leave a comment below and tell us your point of view! But above all… Support the Underground!