Music Review: DROTTNAR – Stratum

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DROTTNAR - StratumDROTTNAR
Stratum
Endtime Productions
2012

I have to give Norwegian act Drottnar their due: They managed to evolve their style and sound over the years from the standard Viking Metal and Black Metal sound to something of a uniquely progressive Black Metal sound on their recent release Stratum. They could have stuck with the tried and true style, but instead they forged ahead, creating something equally magnificent and complex.

Somehow, this second full-length release (not counting Spiritual Battle, which is technically a compilation release) escaped my attention when it was initially released in 2012. Considering what I was going through at the time, I’m not too surprised about that, actually. But again, far besides the point.

Stratum was recorded by the band in 2009, but wasn’t released until 2012 for reasons I am unable to find online. Regardless, despite the six year gap between releases, Drottnar showed that they could very well experiment and forge their own progressive path, rather than remain content with following trends.

The music on Stratum starts with a foundation of Black Metal and Technical Death Metal. But, as immediately evidenced by the opening track “We March”, there’s some well thought-out technical aspects to the music, with odd time signatures and rhythm structures, like this was the logical progression of Believer’s Dimensions release. Yet, none of the raw, brutal intensity is sacrificed whatsoever. You get all the face-blasting and skin-blistering riffs, with a progressive technicality that will give you severe whiplash, along with some industrial elements for some tasty texture throughout.

Overall, Stratum is fantastic. It’s tight, it’s brutal, it’s not your usual Black/Death Metal album. If you’re a fan of the later Extol releases, or certain points of the band Nomicon, or just want something brutal yet not your typical stuff, check this one out.

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Music Review: CRIMSON THORN – Anthology Of Brutality

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crimson thorn anthology of brutalityCRIMSON THORN
Anthology Of Brutality: 1992-2002 The Complete Collective Works
Bombworks Records
2017

As death metal goes, Crimson Thorn ranks up there in my Top 3 favorites. They’re one of the most heavy, brutal, gut-churning-ly fantastic groups to ever have graced my earholes. I caught them live at Cornerstone 2002, around the time when they released their final full-length Purification, a show that congealed my insides and left me with a warm, tingly sensation that I’m 86% sure wasn’t just a minor stroke brought on by the show. If I had one complaint about the band, it’s that the production quality–especially on their first full-length release–left a lot to be desired.

Fortunately, and at long last, the good folks at the always-awesome Bombworks Records understood this, and released a three disc boxed set of the Crimson Thorn albums, along with a few extra odds and sods, all of which are completely remastered to finally showcase the death metal the way it was supposed to be listened to: where you can feel it down deep in the bowels of your very being.

Disc one contains the 1994 debut full-length Unearthed, plus the Plagued demo from 1993. Disc two contains 1997’s Dissection, plus their contribution to the Tribute To Living Sacrifice compilation (“Anorexia Spiritual”), and “Something Else”. Disc three contains 2002’s Purification release, plus three live cuts from a show in Minneapolis: “Intro/Imminent Wrath”, “Sarcastic Deviation”, and “Putrid Condemnation”.

If you’re anything like me, then you already own all of these releases, including the Live In Minneapolis DVD. Well, there’s still a very good reason to get Anthology Of Brutality, and that’s because the remastering has made everything sound superb. The sound is no longer muddled–especially on both the Plagued demo and Unearthed releases–and all of the delicious brutality goodness is made nice, clear and solid. If you’re tired of not being able to crank up Crimson Thorn’s discography as you’d like, Anthology Of Brutality has got you covered.

If you’re wanting a physical copy of the boxed set itself, this was limited to 500 copies, so you’d probably want to be quick about it. However, the songs are also available for digital download from Amazon, which is where I purchased my copy, and if you’re okay with that, it still sounds fantastic. Either way you go, Anthology Of Brutality comes highly recommended by your Uncle NecRo, and gets an enthusiastic five-out-of-five Metal Horns Up.

Music Review: APOSTASY – The Seven Eyes Of God

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apostasy - the seven eyes of godAPOSTASY
The Seven Eyes Of God
Catacomb Records
1994

Here we have yet another obscure cassette-only demo release from a band that completely escaped my attention back in the day, mainly because I was stuck with whatever the nearby record stores and Christian bookshops held for music. And when you’re a metalhead languishing in Eastern Nebraska in the mid-1990s, years before the internet was going to become a viable means of communication outside of your narrow sphere of existence, you either trust mail order through magazines, or hope that whatever passes as a record shop will have it, or will be willing to special order the thing. In that sense, I envy LA and New York music scenes. But, I digress.

Apostasy was allegedly one of the first black metal bands with Christian members to be formed in America, instead of Europe. Or Australia, natch. They hailed from Pueblo, Colorado, and released their only cassette demo The Seven Eyes Of God in 1994. I doubt I would have seen anything about the band or their demo outside of either Heaven’s Metal magazine, or one of the Christian Metal ‘Zines circulating at that time. Even now, the only information I can dredge up from the interwebs is their entry in the Metal Archives site.

This five-track demo of theirs was, as mentioned before, released in 1994. The music is listed on the Metal Archives site as “black metal”; I would qualify the music as that in the same way I would qualify the music on Death’s Scream Bloody Gore as “death metal”, in that it’s really more thrash metal with affected black metal type vocals. Which, given the period, was what the early 2nd Wave of black metal was, essentially aping Venom and making it more “extreme”. Of the five tracks, only three are full-fledged songs: “Eve Of Divinity”, “Destrier” [sic] and “Pagan Moon”. The first track, “Through The Gates Of Eternity…” and the last track, “Rebirth (Outro)” are both brief bits that work as atmospheric introduction and outros, respectively. The music in-between those two tracks are some decently played thrash/death style with black metal vocals, some interesting riffs going on.

Unfortunately, the major issue I have with this demo is the quality of the production. It’s very low-grade, there’s a very loud hiss that is rather prominent and distracting. Also–though I think this has less to do with the production and more to do with the fact that mine is a used copy–the songs muffle at points, and for all of the songs it sounds like the tape itself was eaten by the tape player (or a cat decided to play with it or something), and renders the songs extremely garbled at times, especially with the last three tracks. Especially on “Pagan Moon”, which is nigh unlistenable. Again, that’s probably not due to the production; but even counting that out, the production is rather cheep sounding and terrible, which is a pity as the songs are fairly decent otherwise. Kind of an old-school raw sound to them.

Music Review: PANTOKRATOR – A Decade Of Thoughts

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pantokrator - a decade of thoughtsPANTOKRATOR
A Decade Of Thoughts
Momentum Scandinavia
2007

In what I do, with collecting, listening to, and blogging my thoughts on so much \,,/METAL\,,/ that graces my earholes over the past couple of decades (plus some change), it comes to a point where a band has to be extra specially awesome to stick out. Pantokrator is one of those bands. Ever since picking p the In The Bleak Midwinter / Songs Of Solomon split with Sanctifica at Cornerstone 2002, they’ve managed to maintain a presence in my Frequently Played playlist since.

And like many other Death Metal bands imported from Europe, there was going to be releases that I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint and get leading up to what was available in the States, without paying an arm and a leg, or spelunking in the feted depths of rarities and opp trading and selling. Ebay was still in its early stages, after all. Fortunately, the next best thing to having all the demos and early EPs re-released on a boxed set collection, in 2007 Momentum Scandinavia released a compilation entitled A Decade Of Thoughts, featuring selections from the demos, EPs, and other work of the past ten years leading up to this.

On this particular compilation, there are cuts pulled from 1997’s Unclean Plants / Ancient Path demo (“Punish The Evil”, “Unclean Plants”), 1998’s Even Unto The Ends Of The Earth demo (“Via Dolorosa”), 2000’s Allhärskare EP (“Lamentation”), 2001’s Songs Of Solomon EP (“Come Let Us Flee”, “Separated By Night”), their 2003 full-length Blod (“Bundsfoervant”, “Gudablodets Kraft”, “Tidevarv”), the “Leviathan” single that was released earlier that year, plus four previously unreleased songs: “Nebuchadnezzar” (which would go on to be “The Madness Of Nebuchadnezzar” on the full-length Aurum release later that year), a cover of Vengeance Rising’s “Cut Into Pieces”, “White Robes” and “Psalm 29”. The production on all of the songs is very good, and the music is…well, it’s Pantokrator. Meaning it’s some very high-quality progressive death metal, even in their early stages.

Overall, A Decade Of Thoughts is a good compilation. I would have maybe preferred a few more selections from the albums that only had one cut represented on here, but for a chance to take a look at the earlier works of one of my favorite death metal bands, this was enough to slate my thirst.

Music Review: AZBUK – Compilation For Eternity

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AZBUK - 2008 - Compilation For EternityAZBUK
Compilation For Eternity
Open Grave Records
2008

For a brief moment in time, the criminally short-lived Open Grave / Sullen Records managed to release an array of choice \,,/METAL\,,/, both from the mainline and Christian sides of the underground scenes. For those of us with a taste for Black Metal, that meant easier access to bands like Azbuk, with the release of Compilation For Eternity in 2008.

As the title implies, this is a compilation of tracks gleaned from the three demos Azbuk released: 1997’s Divine Force (“Supplication”, “Majesty”, “The Loyal Witness”, and “Abyss Eternal”); 2001’s Nosferatus Darkness Earl (“Nosferatus Darkness Earl”, “Reflections Of A Damned Mirror”, “Fallen Angel”, and “Constitution”), and 2004’s Ancient Secrets Of The Bible (“Ancient Secrets Of The Bible”, “The Kingdom”, “Return”, and “Symphony Of Death”). It’s an interesting look into the evolution of this South American band, going from standard black metal on their first demo, and transitioning to a more progressive blackened sound, figuring in elements of death metal and doom in the mix on their other two demo releases. The production is raw, as I don’t think there was much as far as remixing or remastering when this compilation was put together. It preserves the original dynamic, methinks. As with other releases like this, Compilation For Eternity works as a good introduction to one of the more woefully overlooked black metal bands. The only criticism I would have being not just releasing a two-disc or so collection with the entirety of all three demos included. But, at least we have this one in existence.

Music Review: KRIG – Target: Human-Mission: Destroy

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KRIG - Target_ Human-Mission_ DestroyKRIG
Target: Human-Mission: Destroy
Independent
2009

The second full-length release from these Brazilian death metal minstrels (it’s my blog, and I’ll use as much purple prose as I want) finds Krig continuing on with crafting some rather tasty death metal going.

Target: Humanity; Mission: Destroy kicks things off right with the opening cut “Mercenary Pastor”, which is heavy, has a nice groove and is a bit chaotic at points. Krig is definitely not one of those bands that feels the need to be Br00tal for brutality’s sake, and that is evident in the songs “Fatal Brutality”, “Chaos In The Air” and “You Will Be Hated” (not a cover of the Vengeance Rising song, mind), which showcases some good riffs and a nice mid-paced groove. That isn’t to say they’re afraid to bring the full-on death metal goodness and play it safe: “Fast Food” has an interesting riff and breakdown, “My Intestine Is Displayed” is a great gut-churning cut, and the closing track–“Beautiful Mutilation”–ends things with some classic blast beat death metal riffage with a bit of a progressive edge thrown in.

Overall, Target: Humanity; Mission: Destroy is a very good death metal gem from the South American continent. If by now you’re still unaware of the fertile metal community there, you’re missing out. And Krig is (was?) a shining example of that. Recommended.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – May 6, 2017

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MAY 6, 2017

Finally, after taking two weeks off to deal with a massive sinus cold infection, Uncle NecRo is back to continue the weekly dispelling of the Brutal Music Therapy we all crave…

Featuring cuts from:

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