Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make! There have been a few Black Metal releases finding their way into my shopping basket lately so I’ve decided to dedicate a whole post to the BM releases I’ve bought over the May to June period. There’s something here for everyone… um… provided you like Black Metal.
Mayhem – Grand Declaration of War (2CD Edition) (£11 HMV Glasgow)
In a previous post I confessed to being out of the loop when it comes to Mayhem’s post-Euronymous output. Rather than buy their latest Esoteric Warfare I decided to dive in further back. I was sure I remembered Mayhem’s Necrobutcher bigging this album up in interviews as being his favourite so I thought it would be a good place to start. And so it proved as this is right up my street: a cold, steely Black Metal concept album with an avant-garde edge. There are great changes in pace, style and atmosphere and it’s one of those albums that is a total experience from start to finish. I’m a bit surprised to find out that many Mayhem fans consider this their worst album. If that is the case then I can’t wait to hear the rest… (this also has the live/demo set European Legions as a bonus disc but I’ve not got round to it yet.)
Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare (£12 HMV Glasgow)
Bolstered by my enjoyment of their older work, I decided to dive straight in to their new album. After the boundary-pushing Grand Declaration of War, I wasn’t expecting the relatively conventional approach of their latest work. It’s the thrilling sound of a genre giant laying down the gauntlet. The production is warm and natural, the band truly play like they mean it and Atilla Csihar puts in an exceptionally deranged vocal performance. The passion and vitality of the band’s delivery sets this album apart, I can’t get enough of it. Expect more Mayhem in future Buying Round-Ups.
Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse: 20th Anniversary Edition (2CD Deluxe) (£12 Fopp Glasgow)
Alongside Mayhem, Emperor is another giant of the Norwegian Second Wave. Their classic full-length debut gets a reissue with bonus tracks aplenty. Despite its symphonic leanings, it’s one of the stormiest Black Metal albums I’ve heard. At times it’s like an impenetrable whirlwind. This release has struggled to compete for my attention with all the newer music I’ve bought but it’s a worthy reissue: great sound and liner notes. The second disc’s unreleased alternative mix of the album doesn’t strike me as hugely different from the album version but it offers a welcome chance to pick out new details from the din and enjoy the album in a fresh light.
Emperor – Scattered Ashes: A Decade of Emperial Wrath (£10 HMV Glasgow)
I bought this “Greatest Hits” for the second disc of rarities (mainly cover versions and songs from split releases) but I’ve found myself enjoying the main disc even more. I actually already had the tab book for the main compilation so it’s been great to be able to finally follow along without having to keep changing discs.
Various Artists – One and All Together For Home (£7 Amazon Marketplace)
I’m being a bit cheeky including this one here as it’s not really a Black Metal release but since I bought it mainly for the Winterfylleth tracks I thought it fit well here. This is an intriguing concept for a compilation: a batch of folk-leaning Metal bands from throughout Europe performing their takes on the traditional music of their home countries. Some, like England’s Winterfylleth and Ireland’s Primordial, play it straight and faithful while some, like Finland’s Haive and The Netherland’s Molvolland, play darker and heavier takes on the source material. It’s pretty atmospheric stuff, in a Wicker Man sort of way. Of the bands here that are new to me, Haive and Ava Inferi both warrant further investigation.
Cradle of Filth – Total Fucking Darkness (£10 Fopp Glasgow)
Cradle of Filth’s Total Fucking Darkness demo gets a reissue with extra rehearsal tracks and a track from their lost Goetia album. I’m not hugely familiar with this band so I was very surprised to discover that these demos are stylistically worlds apart from the sound the band is famous for. It’s more in a Death Metal/Grindcore vein, the vocals guttural rather than shrieked. At times it brings to mind early Napalm Death or Carcass. An enjoyable curio, I always enjoy hearing bands at these innocent demo stages.
Watain – Rabid Death’s Curse (£7 Monorail Glasgow)
This is a reissue of the debut full-length from the stinky Swedes, the only full album of theirs I was missing. It’s a foul and ugly assault and I’m impressed at how formidable they were straight out of the gate and with more listens I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this becomes my favourite of theirs. Love the packaging too.
The Meads of Asphodel – The Early Years (£7 Amazon Marketplace)
And the Black Metal special ends on a more jovial note with HMO favourites The Meads of Asphodel. While I was impressed with how formidable Watain proved to be in their earliest stages, it’s also an unparalleled joy to hear that The Meads were thoroughly bonkers from the word go. The first songs from their first demo veer from chirpy Classical pieces to Venom to Techno to clappy medieval jigs and back to Venom again. But playful experimentation aside, the band also delivers on the Metal front. The opening to Pale Dread Hunger has some riffing to die for and the band prove adept at cover versions too. In short, this band continues to impress. Have at ye! I’m invincible!
Hope you enjoyed my trawl through my recent Black Metal discoveries. I’ll be back soon with a round-up of some recent vinyl purchases. In the meantime, say hello to the two Devil Goats that have just moved in down the road from HMO Mission Control. Mehhh.