Monthly Archives: December 2012

A WASTED YEAR? (MY PERSONAL TOP FIVE OF 2012)

2012 will remain in history as a mediocre year. Some of my old favourites (My Dying Bride, Drudkh, Turbonegro, Aura Noir) managed to deliver “only” decent albums – or maybe I just expected more from them. Also some albums are waiting to reveal their secrets (Neurosis) or waiting to be bought (Swans, Vemod). Besides these reasons/excuses, I spent lots of time with demos and 7”s but it’s hard to me to see these kinds of releases in “the best of” lists. And by the way, if you’re into more mainstream recommendations, go for Choir Of Young BelieversRhine Gold, Bat For LashesThe Haunted Man, Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die or Smashing PumpkinsOceania for example.

You can always check my “The Chosen Three” lists from the links below, but they don’t give you the whole truth: some months were better than others, that’s how it goes. But here’s something that will stay in my record player also in 2013 and beyond.

NOTE: “More of this” additions have only slight stylistical similarites.

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HEXVESSEL: No Holier Temple (Svart)

Mat McNerney made a huge impact with the debut Dawnbearer but the even bigger surprise was how Hexvessel managed to climb even higher with No Holier Temple. This album gives you more nuances, more instruments, more tricks and treats and more everything but still everything is in a great balance. And the core of Hexvessel – folky melodies and McNerney’s nostalgic voice – is present too, sharper than ever. Nowadays when many bands just act to be retro or psychedelic or spiritual, Hexvessel is the real deal.

More of this: ULVER: Childhood’s End, ANTERO LINDGREN: Mother, TERVAHÄÄT: Kalmonsäie – Patria, JOOSE KESKITALO & KOLMAS MAAILMANPALO: Vyötä kupeesi ja tule

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SATAN’S SATYRS: Wild Beyond Belief! (Trash King)

Here’s some dirt to you. It’s not a miracle that Satan’s Satyrs has only one member, because if you listen to this album, it’s easy to imagine a mainman Claythanas as a violent, unpredictable rebel with a habit, who messes around with some serious groove in his blood. Inject some Venom into veins of Electric Wizard and forge Black Flag to fuck Black Sabbath, and you are quite close to the atmosphere of Wild Beyond Belief!.

More of this: SEREMONIA: Seremonia, GRAVEYARD: Lights Out

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TESTAMENT: Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)

A total surprise. I loved The Gathering, I skipped The Formation of Damnation for some reason and I was skeptical with Dark Roots of Earth. Luckily I was wrong: this album took me back to my days of youth, filled me with energy and gave back my faith in true metal. No bullshit but pure thrash attack, and all those ballads, cover songs and guitar solos fill the blanks so perfectly that the listening experience of Dark Roots of Earth is simply breath-taking. Looking forward seeing Testament live at Tuska festival in 2013!

More of this: Well, I don’t know… Recommend something, please!

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REVEAL: Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth (High Roller / Invictus)

Well, this album was released already in 2011, but the CD edition came out this year so I hope you let me go with this… This absurd painting of death metal gives you everything you dare to wish for: old school, old old school, originality, obscurity, damn good songs, damn good riffs, damn good vocals… One of those albums that just drills its way into your mind and you can’t describe how this all happened. Try yourselves.

More of this: HORRENDOUS: The Chills, WEAPON: Emblems and Revelations

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MGLA: With Hearts Toward None (Northern Heritage)

This album has been a grower. Although I have all Mgla releases in my shelf, I have never found the inner essence of this band. Also With Hearts Toward None sounded a bit dull in the beginning, but somehow I have returned to this catchy, dynamic and aggressive beast time after time. And now, when this year draws near, I’m hooked. Original but traditional, heavy but natural, melodic but crushing… The only down side is that I skipped Mgla’s live performance at Black Flames Of Blasphemy III. Silly me.

More of this: KAWIR: Isotheos, BAPTISM: As the Darkness Enters, RAHU: The Quest for the Vajra of Shadows, VENUS STAR: Setyphorus

“THE CHOSEN THREE” LISTS:

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/the-chosen-three-january-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/the-chosen-three-february-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/the-chosen-three-march-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-chosen-three-april-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/the-chosen-three-may-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/the-chosen-three-june-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/the-chosen-three-july-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/the-chosen-three-august-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/the-chosen-three-september-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/the-chosen-three-october-2012/

https://kaleidoscopemag.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/the-chosen-three-november-2012/

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I started this blog a year ago. After that, there have been lots of old interviews, 34 recommendations in the form of The Chosen Three articles and bits and pieces along the way. And most important, about 18 000 visitors – thanks to you! However, the main reason to start this blog – the mysterious issue number ten – is still in works, but meanwhile Serpentscope #2 and Kaleidoscope #11 saw the light. So, a quite nice year after all.

And there will be more in this blog. Next I’ll represent a few interviews from Serpentscope #1 and then I’ll go forward to Kaleidoscope #9 – after that maybe some old interviews which I’ve made for Imperiumi.net… And then, in some point, if the stars are right and gods benign, I manage to complete that issue ten. Yeah, I don’t want to let go, not until that goddamn issue ten is ready. And by the way, I have sent questions to dozen bands already, so there will be #12, #13 etc. I guess.

But but. The next and the last article for this year will be my personal top five of 2012, and then straight into the great unknown! Thanks for this year and let’s see you in 2013!

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THE CHOSEN THREE: NOVEMBER 2012

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We have almost reached the end of this year, and the snow has covered Tampere too. During this year I have noticed more clearly how the seasons have affected on my mood about music, but it has been usually the good ol’ favourites that come and go with springs and autumns – the new music isn’t so chained to this phenomenon. Therefore The Chosen Three of November includes music from the sunny shores of Greece and Australia – but you will get also some frozen Finnish black metal too. Onwards to 2013!

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KAWIR: Isotheos (Deathrune 2012)

Kawir has sneaked its way to my personal pantheon of Greek black metal like a thief. I can’t even remember anymore where I heard this band first time or which album I bought first. But the truth is that Kawir has cemented its status in my record shelf and it was a day of joy when I finally got their new album to my clutches.

Isotheos is an interesting piece of metal. Kawir is known of their melodic and “folk” approach to pagan black metal, but this time they concentrate on making long, epic waves instead of tricky details. The weapons are usual: guitars, drums, flutes, keyboards and clean (Isengard-style!) and raw vocals, but on this one Kawir pays tribute more to Bathory than to Greece’s metal legacy. Some parts also wander to Drudkh’s territories in my opinion. The songs are long but they don’t have so much variance than before, but this hypnotic atmosphere really works. Of course someone could say that Kawir sounds too basic and “safe” on Isotheos, but I would say that it requires lots of courage to change your way so much and make an album like this.

Isotheos serves many catchy and breathtaking moments but also there is room for quiet interludes. Also the aggressive side is present, and especially the title track is prime sample of old school hammering. Of course every riff isn’t top notch and the production is a bit too polished, but in general Kawir stands alongside gods with Isotheos.

http://www.myspace.com/kawir

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BAPTISM: As the Darkness Enters (Northern Heritage 2012)

HIM of black metal. I can’t recall who came up with this description, but there is a seed of truth in this statement. Lord Sargofagian has always been interested in the melancholic side of darkness, and the use of melodies and waving riffs have worked well so far. But how is it with this fourth long journey to the night?

No worries, Baptism keeps its standards. Again we are treated with Finnish black metal quality, which is leaning to the dialogue of different tempos, melancholy and anguish. But I would say that this time the collection of songs is more coherent than before, and stylistic flaws are few – for example the oh so traditional thrashy mid tempo riffs are missing.

Baptism has also swayed nicely to a more religious direction without losing its original roots. Backing vocals of sg.7 and Johannes Nefastos’s lyrics create the devout atmosphere but As the Darkness Enters is still a black metal album, not a black mass. This album doesn’t contain such hit songs like Wisdom & Hate or Morbid Wings of Sathanas but it’s still an enjoyable ride through esoteric spheres.

http://www.myspace.com/baptismofficial

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MONGREL’S CROSS: The Sins of Aquarius (Hell’s Headbangers 2012)

Besides Greek black metal, also Australian madness smashes my head quite often. And here is the latest hammer: Mongrel’s Cross gave me a warning in the split with amazing Innsmouth, and this full length shows that this band isn’t a one hit wonder. Of course this is Australian like kangaroos and Foster’s – thrashy death/black metal which smells of old school denim vests and bullet belts. The similarities with Deströyer 666 are quite audible but there is more than that on The Sins of Aquarius: the aura is dark and ominous, like the cover art made by one and only Alexander Brown.

Another interesting thing is that Mongrel’s Cross doesn’t make stylistic mishmash but keeps the selected genres quite pure: when the band thrashes, it thrashes, and when the band goes epic, you really hear the wind and the eagles around you. In the vocals section you get quite low and raspy growling which isn’t maybe the best option for every song on The Sins of Aquarius, but you can live with that. Another disadvantage is that the songs tend to get quite long and lose their dynamics. On the other hand there are lots of dynamic material on The Sins of Aquarius, like stomping Lead Them from the Promised Land.

It’s hard to put this to words, but somehow I feel that Mongrel’s Cross is here to stay. This trio stands on a solid ground, a serious look in their eyes, and although they don’t invent anything totally new with their music, they are more than a bunch of blokes playing old school riffs just because they have them. Keep an eye on this band.

http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/mongrelscross