Album Review: Skald in Veum – Stridslysten

Skald In Veum - Stridslysten - Metal Soliloquy

If someone told me Skald in Veum was a black metal band active in the 1990s, I would not be surprised in the slightest. Made up of five anonymous figures hailing from the frostbitten depths of Scandinavia, the band delivers some of the most aggressive, furious black metal you can imagine. Drawing influence from bands such as Dark Funeral, Immortal, Watain & 1349, Skald in Veum carry the torch of oldschool black metal into the modern age.

After releasing their highly acclaimed debut EP 1260 Days in 2015, it got silent around the band. Now, four years later, they are finally back with their debut full length album Stridslysten. I have not heard their EP debut, so I went into this album without any expectations – and I was blown away by it. These guys are not fooling around. The music offered on this beast of an album is aggressive, fast, relentless black metal that does not care about trends or current musical movements.

This is oldschool black metal at its finest. Supersonic blast beats, furious and sharp riffs and abrasive vocals make up the sound of Stridslysten. Do not expect atmospheric synths, folksy interludes or moments of silence on this album. You will find nothing here except black metal in its purest form. Well, and some strong black’n’roll tendencies here and there, ’cause at times this thing is groovy as heck.

Skald in Veum - Metal Soliloquy

Lyrically, the album is just as uncompromising and fierce. The band’s ideological leader “Heth” delivers lyrics reminiscent of the messages of the prophets of the old testament. They are preaching fire and brimstone – vengeance and furious anger over a stubborn world that seems to turn a blind eye to the injustice and ungodlyness displayed in every corner. Critisizing both society and the church, Skald in Veum leave no stone unturned and take you to a place and time where blood and fire bring rest.

Here is an example of what to expect lyrically:

These days we repeat such filth with pride.
Perversions elevated to the state of state-religion,
marching through the gates of every city.

Or how about this lovely stanza:

You bite your wallet and bend over for rectal intrusion,
by the tower of Babylon that you made,
and the ones who stand in line,
are the guardians you paid.

Zahjin - Metal Soliloquy

Surprised that Christians use such imagery? Well, I recommend checking out the Bible, because this is the imagery God uses, too. He does not care about politeness when it comes to sin. He hates it with every fibre of his being. That’s why this kind of music and this kind of language is something we need more of in the “Christian scene”. Less contemporary half-heartedness and more uncompromising conviction.

To conclude this review, i can only say this: If you like black metal, I am almost 100 percent sure that you will enjoy this album. It embodies everything that originally defined this genre – it is radical, dark, aggressive, uncompromising, both musically and lyrically, and it radiates an atmosphere of fierceness and non-conformity. Check it out and let the fiery flood wash over your soul.


Stridslysten was released April 12th via Nordic Mission Rottweiler Records and can be purchased at Bandcamp and Nordic Mission.

Follow Skald in Veum on Facebook.

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Album Review: Starcaller – Perdition

Starcaller - Perdition - Metal Soliloquy

Starcaller is a three-piece death metal band from Mobile, Alabama. That was a quite surprising information to me because the music sounds and feels much more “Northern” than Alabama. Playing a melancholic and at times quite doomy blend of blackened melodic death metal, I would have expected this band to be from Scandinavia or Canada, but limiting genres to certain countries and vice versa is a stupid thing anyways.

That being said, lets get to the album itself. Perdition is the band’s full length debut, and a good one at that. With a playing time of 38 minutes, spanning over 8 tracks, the album has a very nice length. It is long enough for the band to let their ideas and visions unravel and work on the listener and it is short enough to at no point get boring or uninteresting. According to the band, the album is meant to take the listener on a journey through “tormented minds and cursed fates”, a journey from this realm into another, “capturing the dissonance of a soul placed in the wrong reality”. As interesting as this concept is, I am going to be honest with you and say straight out of the gate that I did not pay a lot of attention to the lyrics at all. Not that I am not interested, it’s just that I focused my attention on the music itself, which is what I do most of the time.

Starcaller - Metal Soliloquy

And in regards to the music, I can confidently say that Starcaller succeed in creating a more or less picture perfect melodic death metal album that will please every fan of the genre. The aforementioned black metal elements are not very prominent throughout the whole album, but there are some moments when they really shine and add a lot of character to the archetypical melo-death tropes. Two tracks where the black metal influence are more in the foreground are “Hungering Runes” and “Beyond the Blood and Ash”, two of my favourite tracks on the records.

 

There is nothing about this album that I really dislike: The music is very well-mixed, allowing every single instrument to shine. I especially love how thick and prominent the bass is in the mix and how it harmonizes with the drums. It gives a doomy vibe to the music and compliments the melodic guitar riffs and the fantastic harsh vocals perfectly. The songs are well-written, with most tracks staying below the five-minute mark, making for a well-paced and entertaining listen. The melodies are beautiful and “catchy” throughout the record. And despite being a little generic in its overall musical style, the melancholic atmosphere and the black metal elements are two things that make Starcaller stand out from their peers.

Now that I think about it, the only thing I’d criticize about Perdition is that it could do with even a little more of that certain “something”. You can already see a lot of identity in these songs, but the band clearly has the potential to get even more interesting and stylistically unique on future releases. I am definitely looking forward to it, because this album is a mighty fine debut.


Perdition was released on March 8th and is available at Bandcamp.

Follow StarcallerBandcamp | Facebook

Split Review: Bismoth / Symphony of Heaven / TIMŌRĀTUS – Body of Christ

Bismoth / Symphony of Heaven / TIMŌRĀTUS - Body of Christ - Metal Soliloquy

Black metal has evolved a lot since the early nineties. An album called Body of Christ would have caused an outrage in the early days of the genre when there was such a strong focus on the ideological identity of it. I think it is safe to say that openly Christian black metal bands (if you want to call them “Christian bands”) still aren’t fully accepted by a majority of black metal fans and musicians, but there is definitely a positive development going on with the genre becoming more open and open-minded in regards to both the musical style and the lyrical content and ideologies of the bands involved. As a Christian and a black metal enthusiast myself, I am always happy to see bands who make high-quality black metal with a strong Christian message, thus staying true to both the genre and their faith, proving that black metal isn’t necessarily connected to one specific ideology but is a medium that can basically convey whatever message you want.

Body of Christ is an ambitious split album by three Christian underground black metal projects, namely TIMŌRĀTUS (USA), Symphony of Heaven (USA) and Bismoth (South Africa). The album clocks in at 38 minutes, spread over six tracks, two by each of the three artists.  Each band plays a different style of black metal, from TIMŌRĀTUS’ ethereal, melodic post-black metal, through Symphony of Heaven’s more aggressive, riff-focused blackened death metal and Bismoth’s contemplative, atmospheric and raw blackgaze approach, resulting in an album that from a stylistic perspective alone, is a very interesting and varied work.

TIMORATUS - Metal Soliloquy

David and Courtney Napier, TIMŌRĀTUS

One thing that immediately caught my attention on the album’s opening track, “Brothers, You Are not Alone” by TIMŌRĀTUS, was the multi-facetted vocal performance. What I didn’t realize was that that track alone contains guest vocals by not one, not two or even three, but eleven(!) singers, including members of renowned underground bands such as Taking the Head of Goliath, Shadow Puncher, Abated Mass of Flesh and Mystic Winter. The second track, “The Root of Unity” by TIMŌRĀTUS, features an equally impressive vocal extravaganza courtesy of three female singers besides TIMŌRĀTUS’ very own Courtney Napier. With lyrics focusing on the unity of Christians in the body of Christ, it seems only appropriate that these tracks are the result of a collaboration of so many artists who are united not only by their love of music, but also, and on a much deeper level, by the blood of Christ. Both of the TIMŌRĀTUS tracks, especially “The Root of Unity”, radiate a certain atmosphere of comfort, they are uplifting and beautiful and truly edifying to listen to.

Symphony of Heaven - Metal Soliloquy

Pathos, Symphony of Heaven

The mood certainly changes with the next two tracks by Symphony of Heaven. They are not only a lot darker in tone, but also much more agressive stylistically. Lyrically, too, these tracks talk about the darker side of the Christian experience. The aptly titled “Death of Denomination” criticizes the tendency of many Christians to attack each other over different opinions regarding theological questions instead of focusing on what unites us – Jesus’ sacrifice that saves us from damnation. “For Glory” talks about martyrdom, about Christians suffering and dying for their faith – and for the glory of God. Both tracks are powerful and gripping, dark and intense, with riffs that are as kvlt as it gets.

Bismoth - Symphony of Heaven

Jethro de Beer, Bismoth

The two final tracks of the album are the most raw ones production-wise, while stylistically being the most calm, contemplative ones. Bismoth plays beautiful post-black metal/blackgaze with a clear focus on atmosphere. “Anguish and Agape” has a strong Vials of Wrath or Deafest vibe to it, alternating between sound-of-wall style blast beat sections and clean airy, melancholic guitar melodies. Album closer “In Christ Together” is a rather simple song that rounds the album up nicely.

As a whole, Body of Christ is an amazing and powerful record, both musically and lyrically. It is the result of an ambitious and passionate collaboration of some of the best artists in the Christian extreme metal underground that absolutely succeeds in transporting an important message to Christians all around the world: “Let His light grow us together / May our branches intertwine / With each other, through Him”, for we are one in Christ.


Body of Christ will be released digitally on March 19th and will be available at Bandcamp. A physical release, including a bonus track, is planned for this summer.

Watch an album teaser here:


Follow the artists:

Bismoth:  Bandcamp | Facebook
Symphony of Heaven:  Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram
TIMŌRĀTUS :  Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Single Stream: Deafheaven – “Black Brick”

Deafheaven - Black Brick - Metal Soliloquy

Grammy nominated blackgaze outfit Deafheaven have released a new song titled “Black Brick” yesterday. The track is a B-side from their latest album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. While Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is Deafheaven’s “softest” album yet, seeing the band focusing primarily on their dreamy post-rock and shoegaze influences, “Black Brick” might be their heaviest track to date. Channelling the greatness of 90s black and thrash metal, without neglecting their post-metal tendencies, Deafheaven deliver a furious and dark, yet atmospheric extreme metal track you should not miss.


Follow Deafheaven: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Split Review: Amiensus / Oak Pantheon – Gathering II

Gathering II is the upcoming follow up to Gathering, the first split EP between the two US-black metal bands Amiensus and Oak Pantheon, released in 2013. Once again, the two bands collaborated to release a split EP containing one song by each band. Additionally, we also get a collaborative song on Gathering II.

I loved Gathering and was super happy when I heard the bands were working on a second split release. Being a fan of both bands, the expectations for Gathering II were quite high. And fortunately, I can say that it does not disappoint.

Oak Pantheon - Metal SoliloquyThe split is opened up by Oak Pantheon with the song “A Demonstration”, which lyrically explores real-world death cults. Musically, it is very focused on the folk side of things, with acoustic guitars opening up the track and leading through the whole piece. The extreme metal elements, harsh vocals and electric guitars, are more of an addition to the folk elements than the other way around. What I love about this track in particular is how far up in the mix the bass guitar (played by Amiensus’ bassist Todd Farnham) is. It adds a unique, jazzy twist to the music and serves as a very refreshing element that makes this song stand out from your typical folky black metal. This also is, on a side note, the first Oak Pantheon track featuring real drums (played by Amiensus’ drummer Chris Piette). A great opnener and probably one of my favourite Oak Pantheon tracks yet.

The second track, “Tanequil”, is a song collaboratively written and performed by Amiensus and Oak Pantheon and serves as a great transition from the folky, rather light Oak Pantheon track to the more atmospheric and heavier Amiensus track. There is one section of this song that stood out to me with its clean vocals that reminded me, of all things, of American metalcore band Demon Hunter. Something about the vocal harmonies and the melody is quite reminiscent of the way Demon Hunter write their melodies. Or maybe it’s just my brain playing tricks on me. Whatever, this is definitely a good song, but also the least memorable and interesting out of the three, in my opinion.

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The closing track, “Now Enter Dusk” by Amiensus, is by far my favourite piece on the record. Right from the start, the song builds a freaking beautiful soundscape with a melodic guitar riff that is complemented by an equally beautiful bass line, subtle synths and majestic drumming. When the vocals kick in, you are already completely captivated by the magnificent atmosphere of the song. Amiensus once again showcase what is possible with regard to building atmosphere with this piece. Harsh and clean vocals harmonise in a remarkable way, the instruments merge into enormous walls of sound, while simultaneously shining individually. As a whole, the song is a perfect combination of atmosphere, melody, and impressive musicianship.

Altogether, Gathering II is not only able to match the quality of its predecessor, but it even surpasses it and stands as a beautiful piece of atmospheric and majestic music. Do yourself a favor and check this out as soon as it is available.


Gathering II will be released November 5th and will soon be available at Bandcamp.

Follow Amiensus:  Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Follow Oak Pantheon: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Album Review: Utstøtt – Járnviðr

Utstott - Jarnvidr - Review at Metal Soliloquy

Oregon-based one man project Utstøtt arrived to the black metal underground in 2013 with the release of his four-track EP Legender Odin. Playing a synth-laden breed of epic, melodic black metal, Utstøtt didn’t bring anything entirely new to the table with the EP, but Navnløs, the man behind the project, pulled off the Summoning and Windir inspired style of black metal quite perfectly and further proved his talents with his debut LP Hjørungavågr in 2015. Now, three years later, Utstøtt, now comprised of two members, Navnløs and Stormning, is back with a second full length album, named after the mythological iron-forest Járnviðr.

From the cover artwork alone you can tell that this album is a little different from his first two releases. Instead of majestic mountains and lakes, the painting “Winter” by Ivan Shishkin adorns the cover. We see a snow covered forest giving off a cold, darker vibe. And indeed the album sounds quite a bit colder and darker than Hjørungavågr.

Utstott - Metal SoliloquyThe album has a playing time of 66 minutes, spanning over six songs, one of which is a fantastic and rather creative cover of Burzum’s legendary song “Dunkelheit”. Each song on the album is its own beast with its own feel and story, but all of them work together towards an overarching cold and dark atmosphere, evoking images of ancient forests and snow covered landscapes.

The compositions on Járnviðr are as grand and epic as those on the band’s previous albums, but they are much more traditional and visceral at the same time. If Hjørungavågr was the musical equivalent to a battle between two armies, Járnviðr represents a one-on-one combat. The production is sharp and clear, adding to the harshness of the riffs and vocals. Stylistically sitting somewhere between atmospheric and melodic black metal with pagan/folk influences, the compositions on this album are written and build around melodic riffs, but focused on the atmosphere they evoke rather than the melodies themselves. It’s an approach more similar to bands like Burzum or Drudkh than, say, Vindland or Windir.


Not only are the riffs on this album freaking righteous, there are enough additional musical elements, like atmospheric synth-driven sections, amazing guitar solos and beautiful acoustic portions,  incorporated into the compositions to keep the album interesting and entertaining throughout its duration.

As a whole, Járnviðr is an amazing black metal album, that combines melody, riffs, atmosphere, beauty and harshness into an intriguing, captivating and epic package. One of my favorite black metal albums of the year so far.


Járnviðr was self-released October 15th and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Follow Utstøtt on Facebook.

Album Review: Weltschmerz – Illustra Nos

Weltschmerz (from the German, meaning world-pain or world-weariness) is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind.

Weltschmerz - Illustra Nos - Metal Soliloquy

I believe that black metal is such an interesting genre of music because, observed from an outside position, it comes of as traditional and closed towards new ideas and other musical styles; if you really dive into it, however, your perception will soon change and you will begin to see the amount of creativity, experimentation and avantgarde thinking that is to be found in the black metal scene. Black metal has evolved a lot since the 90s and has become a melting pot of ideas, musical styles, artisitic influences and concepts. There is seemingly nothing that hasn’t been tried within the confines of this musical genre, yet many bands still manage to bring something new to the table everyday.

Dutch two-piece act Weltschmerz started their carrier in black metal with works that more or less channelled the black metal of the 90s and they were very good at it. On their upcoming second album Illustra Nos, Weltschmerz doesn’t only evolve as a band, but also create a rather unique and exciting blend of black metal that is at times reminiscent of the 90s, while containing many progressive and experimental elements that make it sound very different and fresh.

Weltschmerz - Metal Soliloquy

The album opener “Until The Bitter End” is a traditional, fast paced, gnarly sounding black metal track with a rock’n’roll groove to it, that will have you bang your head in no time. The drums are definitely my personal highlight on this track, as they are pummeling and unrelenting, yet performed in an organic way with some nice little fills that put a smile on your face.

From then on, the album gets more and more interesting. “Ecce Homo” contains some very nice bass lines, that are higher up in the mix than expected from a black metal record, which I personally love. To my pleasure, this is a reappearing feature of the album. The track’s most surprising element is the cello section at the end, that comes out of nowhere and is so weirdly placed that it’s a delight for fans of avantgarde music. The symphonic/classical elements are a reappearing element on the album and add a lot to its atmosphere.

The album contains lots of great traditional riffs and exciting instrumental sections that reach from acoustic interludes to experimental symphonic segments, as well as many sections that are primarily focused on creating atmospheric walls of sound and suck the listener into a certain emotional state. The whole album is pulled together by great songwriting and a omnipresent dark and brooding atmosphere, and should definitely be experienced in one sitting.

All in all, Illustra Nos is an incredible black metal album that channels all the greatness of the 90s black metal scene and adds a lot of modern and progressive elements to it, resulting in a unique, yet traditional sound that is sure to be enjoyed by fans of oldschool and modern black metal alike.


Illustra Nos will be released October 26th via Redefining Darkness Records and can be preordered at Bandcamp.

Follow Weltschmerz: Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

EP Review: Nòtt – Nòtt

a3412940938_16Nòtt is a solo project of James Benson, guitarist and vocalist of progressive/atmospheric black metal band Amiensus. I didn’t really know what to expect from this project, but with the works of Amiensus in mind, I assumed this EP would sound somewhat similar. After listening to the first track I prepared to be disabused, though.

Nòtt sounds a lot darker than anything Amiensus has released so far (except All Paths Lead To Death, maybe). Moving into a progressive, sludgy, post-y, but stone cold style of Black Metal, Nòtt doesn’t mess around with electronic/folk/synth/you-name-it elements, but primarily uses guitars and drums to create atmosphere.

Speaking of atmosphere, this record is overwhelmingly bleak. The pummeling drums and deep guitar riffs, interwoven with unsettling melodies, build intimidating walls of sound that come closer and closer every second. The despairing vocals pierce through the thick atmosphere and only increase its claustrophobic character. Only the fourth song “Sol” gives you some time to rest with its dreamy and somewhat lighter sound that feels like a rock in a raging ocean of darkness.

At times the album reminded me of Departe’s 2016 release Failure, Subside, which in my opinion has a similar atmosphere that cannot be described more fittingly than with the word “heavy”. And like Départe, Nòtt too adds something else to the mixture, an element of lightness that is transported by the very clear production of the music. The discrepancy between the sludgy, heavy music and the clear production is an important element of what makes this album so effective, in my opinion.

All in all, Nòtt is an extremely coherent atmospheric and ice cold black metal record, that no fan of extreme music should miss. If you have any interest in black metal at all, give this EP a listen.


Nòtt was self-released January 17th and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Make sure to visit Nòtt’s official Facebook page, as well!

Album Review: Drudkh – Їм часто сниться капіж

a3778239288_10.jpgUkrainian folk/atmo-black metallers Drudkh are without a doubt one of the most important bands in the atmospheric black metal genre. With ten full length albums in their back catalog of which the last few weren’t exactly well-received (although they were mostly very good, in my humble opinion), the expectations for their eleventh album Їм часто сниться капіж (They Often See Dreams About The Spring) were rather mixed. I’m glad that I can say they delivered a great album that really makes up for their weaker moments.

On their newest offering, Drudkh continue to defy the cliché of the typical frosty black metal dealing with the coldest of seasons. After crafting multiple albums surrounding the melancholic beauty of autumn, the season of approaching death, they now focus on the other transitory season – spring, the season of birth and rebirth. In regards to the sound of this album, the latter is more fitting than the first. Їм часто сниться капіж can indeed be seen as a rebirth – with a few modifications. Drudkh return to do what they do best and offer a beautifully understated style of atmospheric black metal on this album that evokes emotions and inspires the listener to let their thoughts wander and – dream.

Surprisingly, one of the features Drudkh’s earlier works are known for is completely nonexistent on this album. There are no folk elements to find here, not even in the form of an acoustic intro or outro. Instead of that, the incredibly well-balanced songs are mainly made of rhythmic riffs coupled with tasteful tremolo melodies, blistering drum work and a subtle use of symphonic sound walls that add a very epic element to the aggressive sound. While the general feel of this album is, fittingly for the motif of spring, rather warm and welcoming, almost “Cascadian” in that sense, there is still a coldness in the guitars and vocals which makes the listener think back to the old days of Norwegian black metal.

With Їм часто сниться капіж, Drudkh have proven once again that they are indeed one of the best bands in the genre. Not afraid to experiment and leave behind certain aspects of their popular style while returning others, this album is one of their most coherent and absorbing works so far, and an essential listen for every fan of the genre.


Їм часто сниться капіж was released March 9th via Season of Mist and can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp.