Thursday, April 18, 2013

Metal Briefs: Black Metal Miscellany

Three From the Black Side

Svoid: Ars Kha (2013)
3 out of 5 stars

When I think of Hungarian black metal, I think of Soviet-era, lo-fi kind of stuff. I kind of assumed that everyone in the country would continue in that vein, especially given the success of Attilla Csihar. So imagine my surprise to find Hungary’s Svoid, a modern black metal band with clear production. It appears to be a one-man band; although no one is credited for the drums, I didn’t really notice them enough to judge whether they’re programmed. Like seemingly every black metal band since the success of Watain, the band member goes simply by an initial. But it wouldn’t be fair to simply label this a Watain clone and move on. Or at least it doesn’t scream, “Look at me, I want to be Watain!” There’s a lot more mid-paced stuff, and although the bass is fully audible, the guitars ensure it’s not as heavy as Watain. This doesn’t sound very praise-filled, but I do assure you the man can write a riff, and his vocals are nothing to sneeze at. He could be destined for bigger things, with a full band.

Official Site

Head of the Demon: Head of the Demon (2012)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Head of the Demon is a Swedish posse that take early Celtic Frost, emphasize the doom and the black metal elements, and give it a legit Lovecraftian twist. They even give the vocals that Warrior echo, but they are far from simply aping the great CF. The black metal comes through in more modern or original ways, like unmuted chords punctuating the end of a riff, or tremolo-picked bass. The Lovecraft comes in not just lyrically, but also with Middle Eastern melody saluting the Mad Arab. The record is good, but flawed. They need to work on putting the songs into album form: CD version has an extra track, making it too long, and they've front-loaded the best songs. The production is perhaps a little too lo-fi, and I'm not crazy about the old-time horror movie thing in "The Key." Still, check it out.

Deschain: Sea of Trees Forest of Gallows (2011)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Deschain's Sea of Trees Forest of Gallows is two tracks totaling 37 minutes of Agallochian black metal. The recording is nicely lo-fi, some of the melodies are memorable, and the music dynamically shifts into lots of different territory. Since Agalloch has set the bar so high it's tough to make a case that this is essential, but it is available at any price you want to pay.

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