söndag 12 maj 2019

MARDUK - OPUS NOCTURNE (1994)

1st print black vinyl limited to 700 copies released on Osmose Productions in 1994. Also released on a green vinyl limited to 300 copies that one is expensive as hell these days... Not that anyone could say my version is cheap nowadays exactly...

If I had to pick out a couple of Black Metal albums that were most essential for me getting into the Black Metal genre back in 1994 Opus Nocturne would definitely be one of those records.

Together with the albums The Somberlain by Dissection, Into The Nightside Eclipse by Emperor and Pure Holocaust by Immortal they all meant so much me in 1994.

They were the gateway records that showed me just how much music could have an effect on me and the path my life took.

The progression Marduk made with the Opus Nocturne album from their previous ones Dark Endless (1992) and Those Of The Unlight (1993) is immensely huge.

From the Black/Death Metal feeling in the early days on their only demo Fuck Me Jesus (1991) and the Here's No Peace recording. That were recorded in December of 1991 but not released until 1997.

The debut album Dark Endless also got that Black Death Metal sound. While their 2nd album Those Of The Unlight is pure Black Metal and probably the most unique recording Marduk did in the 90's.

Been many phases during the 29 year old history of Marduk and Opus Nocturne became a end of an era record for them.

It was Joakim Af Gravf (vocalist 1993-95/drummer 1990-93) last album with the band. Also their last release to be recorded with Dan Swanö at his Unisound/Hellspawn/Gorysound Studio.

Swanö whom Marduk had worked with since their first and only demo Fuck Me Jesus (1991).

Have to admit that Opus Nocturne was a bit harder for me to get into then The Somberlain (yeah I know Metal of Death...) and Into The Nightside Eclipse. Remember immediately liking my favorite Marduk songs ever Sulphur Souls and The Sun Has Failed though.

Also Materialized In Stone and the title track Opus Nocturne with vocals and lyrics by Tony "It" Särkkä (1972-2017) from Abruptum, Vondur etc. That one sounds like something Ophthalamia (another band It had formed in 1989) could have recorded it was a very unusual Marduk song.

Just a few listens in I liked From Subterranean Throne Profound; Autumnal Reaper; Wolves (Part 2: Untrodden Paths) and Deme Quaden Thyrane almost as much as my favorites. Opus Nocturne grew into a beast for me.

I could have the CD on repeat for hours and still find new things on each and every song it was truly a magical time in my life.

Opus Nocturne was released late in 1994 and in February of 1995 Marduk together with label mates Enslaved did a tour called the Winter War Tour 95. As they had done on the previous tour with Sons Of Northern Darkness with Immortal a special split shirt was made with the Marduk and Enslaved logos on the longsleeve arms. Those two are my most wanted shirts of all time.

Photos by user "maidenthrone" on tshirtslayer.com.
Marduk basically had the same line-up as the record on the tour: Morgan Håkansson (guitar), B.War (bass), Joakim Af Gravf (vocals), Fredrik Andersson (drums) but added Kim Osara as a session/live  guitarist.

Marduk and Enslaved's Winter War Tour 95 lasted from the 7th of February until the 26th of the same month with no dates off. They played in Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Like mentioned many times before I used to buy/trade live bootleg filmed VHS-cassette tapes in the mid to late 90's. Marduk were one of the bands always had my eye out for.

The first one I got from the Winter War Tour 95 was recorded at Marseille, France on May the 17th. I do remember hating all effects they put on the video but it was still amazing.

It's on YouTube and I'm glad for that because I don't have to mess with my old VHS-cassettes. Even if I got stuff by some bands that's not out on YouTube.

Included the Marseille concert in this post and the setlist Marduk played are:

Sulphur Souls
From Subterranean Throne Profound
Wolves
The Sun Has Failed
A Sculpture Of The Night
Materialized In Stone
Deme Quaden Thyrane
The Black...
Untrodden Paths (Wolves, Part II)
On Darkened Wings
Autumnal Reaper 

Many songs from Opus Nocturne really glad they played A Sculpture Of The Night from Those Of The Unlight but also ones that aren't played now like: From Subterranean Throne Profound, The Sun Has Failed, Deme Quaden Thyrane, Untrodden Paths (Wolves, Part II) & Autumnal Reaper.


Those tour dates became as far as I know the last shows with Joakim Af Gravf as vocalist with the band. Everything he did with Marduk were brilliant in my opinion. Joakim Göthberg which is his real name did a guest appearance on the Rom 5:12 (2007) album.

Joakim was replaced by Erik "Legion" Hagstedt in 1995. Legion was previously in Ophthalamia and were vocalist on their excellent 2nd album Via Dolorosa (1995).

Like many other bands did at the time Marduk started recording at The Abyss Studio for the follow-up Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered (1996) with Peter Tägtgren from Hypocrisy.

At first I hated the production on that album but now I actually regard it as the best album of the "Legion era". I changed my opinion drastically on that record since I ranked all Marduk albums about 2 years ago. Okay it's almost a tie with Panzer Division Marduk (1999) but a topic for a future post.

The legacy that Opus Nocturne left behind 25 years later is as strong as it was back in 1994. At least for me. Whenever I hear Joakim screaming "praise hail Satan" in the beginning of Sulphur Souls I know it's a 43 minutes ride into the BEST SWEDISH BLACK METAL of the 90's.

It's not my nostalgia for this album talking! As always Praise Hail Marduk!




Bonus! The Marduk and Immortal split shirt from the Sons Of Northern Darkness tour. Picture from user "fab cas" on tshirtslayer.com.

söndag 5 maj 2019

INTO THE WOODS... - ISLE OF MEN (1993) and VED BUENS ENDE - THOSE WHO CARESS THE PALE (1994)

These two brilliant demos from the early/mid 90's Norwegian Black Metal scene. A sub goal in my LP and CD collecting is to own as many Kyrck Production releases as possible especially the ones from the Norwegian scene. 

The ones I own by Arcturus, Ulver, Thorns/Stigma Diabolicum; Strid/Malfeitor, Manes etc. are all immaculate vinyl and CD releases. Just like these two of course.

Know I'm repeating myself and praising Kyrck in this one again as done in earlier posts. But Kyrck are so amazing at finding demos, hard to get, expensive releases or just brilliant albums. Especially from the Norwegian scene.

Isle Of Men (1993) by Into The Woods...
This vinyl was released in 2006 and limited to 1000 hand numbered copies, 500 black & 500 white-splatter, mine is number 594/1000 (I actually added the back sleeve from my copy over at Discogs because it was missing there).

It comes with a A3 poster of the original demo cover artwork and if you're familiar with Kyrck Productions LP's a small 12-paged booklet that many other releases also includes.

Those Who Caress The Pale (1994) by Ved Buens Ende
My copy was released in 2015 and is limited to 150 copies, they also reissued the demo on purple and orange/black vinyls also 150 copies each at the same time. All versions comes with a A3 poster and the lyrics printed on a regular A4 regular paper, mine is kind of light blue. But I do believe there's other color variants with each of those releases lyrics sheet.

Let's finally start this post by a very unique Black Metal band with Into The Woods... with the second demo called Isle Of Men released in November 1993.

The booklet states that Isle Of Men were recorded in the summer of 1992 but that's a misprint. Because it was actually recorded in June - September of 1993.

Before this demo Into The Woods... had already released the Rehearsal / Demo 02.93 as its title suggests from February of 1993.

The original release of Isle Of Men consists of 5 songs and the line-up is the same as on their epic debut album Heart Of The Ages (1995) released on Misanthropy Records. You can read my post on that one here.

This 2006 reissue has 1 bonus song the title track from the album Heart Of The Ages. It's just a 4-track recording done in 1994 so it's not as refined as the album one.

Some of the titles on Isle Of Men also ended up on the Heart Of The Ages album Wotan's Return and ...In The Woods. Both are already sounding amazing in the demo versions.

Anyone that's heard Heart Of The Ages knows it's a very unique sounding album at the time of its release in the Norwegian scene. The Isle Of Men demo is also very different from other bands but is more straight forward Black Metal than the album.

Isle Of Men could easily have been an album the quality of the songwriting, sound and production is better then many other contemporary bands debut albums. I highly recommend getting this demo on any format you can find it because it's one of my favorite demos from the 90's.

Speaking about high quality demos from those years. Kyrck Productions really did us all a big favor by reissuing another demo. That also could have been an album Those Who Caress The Pale by Ved Buens Ende.

At the time of its release Carl-Michael Eide (clean vocals/drums), Vicotnik (harsh vocals/guitar) and Skoll (bass) weren't exactly quite known in the scene yet.

Shouldn't have to namedrop their resume but I will name some of my favorite associated bands like Arcturus, Dødheimsgard, Ulver, Strid, Aura Noir, Manes and a ton more.

5 songs on this demo and it gives their debut and only album Written In Waters (1995) a tough match for being my favorite Ved Buens Ende release. Another albums that was released by Misanthropy Records that at the time released classic records with each release.

Both songs The Carrier Of Wounds and You That May Wither appears on both releases. Don't have a definitive answer to which version I prefer the most, it depends on my mood of the day. You really should invest in both releases because they are just like In The Woods... a very unique band from my favorite era of the Norwegian scene.

Actually these 2 are the only releases that Ved Buens Ende has ever released. They started as Manes in 1993-94, not to be confused with another amazing Norwegian band with the same name, changed name to Ved Buens Ende in 1994 and split-up in 1997.

They made a short return in 2006-07 and was working on new material but nothing was officially released.

Just recently they announced that Ved Buens Ende are making a comeback! Hell fucking yes am I psyched about this!

With the same line-up but due to Carl-Michael's accident in 2005 that prevents him from playing drums ever again. They have recruited Øyvind Myrvoll as their live drummer with credentials from Aura Noir, Dødheimsgard, ex. Myrkur).

I have really high faith for this reunion even if it's been 24 years since Ved Buens Ende released any new material.

Anyway that's two other releases in my Kyrck Productions collection. I got more amazing reissues to write about from this excellent company.

söndag 28 april 2019

DISMEMBER - HATE CAMPAIGN (2000)

One of the coolest looking vinyls in my entire collection is this clear/yellow splatter LP of Hate Campaign from 2006 released by Night Of The Vinyl Dead Records.

Believe me there's a huge difference between a splatter vinyl done correctly compared to so many others I own. It looks even better in real life then on my picture.

Strangely this is the only LP ever released of the Hate Campaign record by Dismember.

This one is a limited release that's numbered to 500 copies it has 2 bonus tracks Live To Hate and Unhealing Scars both great songs and a nice addition to the record.

Included the original Nuclear Blast CD mainly because of the cover artwork differences I do prefer the Night Of The Vinyl Dead Records vinyl cover artwork.

Usually don't like whenever bands/labels messes with the original artwork. But I would never pass on this amazing Dismember LP because of that.

Many changes within the Dismember camp for the bands 5th full length album Hate Campaign.

This does not feature the classic line-up: Matti Kärki, Fred Estby, David Blomqvist, Richard Cabeza and Robert Sennebäck.

This was also the first time the band didn't record in the Sunlight Studios where they had been recording since the Reborn In Blasphemy (1990) demo. If you know your Dismember history another Swedish Death Metal band Carnage should sound familiar. Their debut and only record Dark Recollections (1990) was also recorded there.

Even if the man everyone associate Sunlight Studios with Tomas Skogsberg didn't produce their previous masterpiece Death Metal (1997). It was actually the Dismember drummer Fred Estby who produced that one at Sunlight Studios. Fred also produced Hate Campaign but in the Das Boot Studio that's located in Stockholm, Sweden.

Richard Cabeza left Dismember in 1998 and was replaced by the Swedish bassist Sharlee D'Angelo as a session/live member. He already then had a very impressive resume from working with bands like Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Witchery etc.

Also no Robert Sennebäck (guitar) on this album that departed ways with Dismember in 1997 and was replaced with Magnus Sahlgren (Lake Of Tears etc.). He was a permanent member from 1998 to 2003. Hate Campaign were the only Dismember album that he and Sharlee played on.

Speaking about Night Of The Vinyl Dead Records they released another favorite vinyl release in my collection last year. That I use as a display piece in my living room Panzer Division Live by Marduk the tank shaped 7" LP.

There's a couple of more releases by Night Of The Vinyl Dead Records I would like to own but they are usually way up there in price also.

Not trying to sound like some elitist asshole collector but I only own 1st print Dismember vinyls. Yeah I’m that guy with some other bands also.

Now is this version of Hate Campaign technically a 1st print vinyl? It wasn’t released until 6 years after the original CD.

It’s definitely the first and only vinyl of Hate Campaign. So I say yes here and don’t consider that I am breaking my own rules.

If they ever decide to reissue the album on LP I might consider picking up a copy. Because even if I play approx 99.5% of all my vinyls, some that are 4 to 5 more expensive also, but with this one I want to keep it as pristine as possible.

Actually I'm only one vinyl away from having my Dismember 1st print LP collection completed are missing Where Ironcrosses Grow (2004). Also my copy of the Dismember (2008) album is just the picture disc vinyl version that I will upgrade someday.

Anyway I highly recommend the Hate Campaign album by the best Death Metal band of all time in my opinion to anyone that’s out for some excellent Swedish Dödsmetall.

torsdag 18 april 2019

You need STRID in your life! And collection...

...here on a compilation vinyl from Kyrck Production released in 2007 numbered to 500 copies, my is number 353.

As always Kyrck does something special with their releases. This one comes with a great poster and an amazing insert with pictures from the old days. The color is "haze" don't know about that? To me it looks kind of grayish/black.

It also available on a standard black vinyl but also on a clear LP that's hand numbered to 50 with a different sleeve. It just have a black cover with only the Strid logo on it. I prefer the artwork my copy has of this compilation even if they used the black logo cover artwork on their only demo.

Side-A has every song Strid has ever released. There is actually only 3 songs in total in approx 25 minutes.

Two from the Strid (1994) 7" EP and the one only song from their demo End Of Life (1993).

That might sound cheap but with what they deliver in 11 minutes on the End Of Life song makes it worth buying the entire compilation for alone in my opinion. Of course for the equally great Strid EP songs also.

Side-B has all 5 songs from their second demo Pandemonium (1992) when the band were called Malfeitor.

Not as refined or with the atmospheric mature sound to it as Strid has. But I recommend getting this compilation for the Malfeitor demo also. 

This rather unknown Norwegian Black Metal band started playing in 1991. In Askim a small town near the Swedish border, as Malfeitor. They changed name to Battle for a short while 1992-93. Battle that meaning strid in English, before finally setting with Strid as their name in 1993.

As Malfeitor they released 2 demos the song 666 Hear My Call is featured on both of them. For the time of its release in 1992 the Pandemonium demo sounds amazing both now and then.

They released their only demo as Strid in 1993 the already mentioned demo End Of Life.

Then in 1994 Strid signed with one of my favorite record labels of all time. The short lived (1994-97) German based company Malicious Records

Some others that released their debuts albums or EP's on the same label was Dødheimsgard; Zyklon-B; Borknagar; Vond etc. just to name a couple.

So you can see why I hold Malicious Records in such high regard.

The Strid 7" EP was one of the first releases by the record company. Also the first vinyl release, as far as I know on the label.

Strid was only released on the 7" vinyl format. Maybe not the smartest decision either by Malicious and/or the band? This is one of my more wanted 7" releases but the price is hard to justify with me already owning this compilation.

They re-released the demo End Of Life on a single-sided cassette on Malicious Records in 1994. At the era when CD was already established as the standard format for music it might not benefited the band.

When one looks at Strid over at Metal Archives there's a claim that Strid were "creators of the Depressive Black Metal genre". That might be true? It's not a subgenre within the scene that I got most knowledge about really.

Because this isn't something you play when drinking with friends, singing along headbanging to exactly.

Despite my lack of knowledge Strid are a lot better then other bands associated with that DBM genre or whatever it's called in my opinion. Also isn't all Black Metal supposed to be striving for reaching the darkest and invoke certain moods sides of the human mind? 

But speaking of darkness and depression... The original Strid & Malfeitor vocalist/bassist Storm aka. Rot real name Espen Andersen died by suicide in 2001.

Also the original guitarist for both bands Lars Fredrik Bergstrøm died in 2014 at the age of 39.

The members of Strid weren't known in the scene with a bunch of side projects or participated with a lot of other famous bands.

Strid officially quit in 2001 even if the band hadn't been active as far as I know after the 1994 EP.

However in 2009 the Strid returned once again.

With a very prominent guy in the scene Vicotnik on bass & vocals mainly known from his work in the excellent Dødheimsgard but also many more bands like Ved Buens Ende.

Guitarist Ravn Harjar had joined the band in 1994 and played on the Strid EP. He was also shared the vocal duties with Vicotnik.

Joined by members of Strid/Malfeitor the drummer in both bands Lost/Jardar (not the same guy from Old Man's Child) and also the now deceased Lars Fredrik Bergstrøm, both were members until 2014.

They did some shows together, over at www.setlist.fm one can find 2 gigs in 2010 one at John Dee in Oslo and also a one in Finland. It's not the most accurate or reliable source because they played more then those two gigs.

On YouTube you can also see an amazing performance of the song End Of Life with Vicotnik on vocals. It's from 2011 and recorded at Halle 101 in Speyer, Germany.



There's also a video of Nattvandring from the 1994 Strid 7" from the same concert, with guitarist Ravn Harjar on vocals, it's not as good in quality as the other one. But am including both in the post because they are the only Strid live performances I have ever seen or found.


In 2015 the band dissolved after 6 years due to internal conflict but also due to the fact of the death of Lars Fredrik Bergstrøm. But the band reappeared a couple of years later.

The official lineup Strid as of 2017 consists of the new drummer Svein Egil Hatlevik mostly known from his work in the amazing Fleurety. With Vicotnik (bass/vocals), Ravn Harjar (guitar/vocals) and Sigmund Hansen (guitar).

Official t-shirt were sold over at Morbid Wrath Records in 2018. Strid will play live in September this year at the Prophecy Fest 2019 in Balver Höhle, Germany.

That looks like an amazing place for concerts, do a Google search for more pics. Think that would be a very fitting location for their music. It's basically in a cave. Really wish to attend... Who knows... Maybe...

Anyway the story of this Norwegian band Strid is certainly an interesting one.

Had they continued making music after 1994 when vocalist/bassist Storm (Espen Andersen) was still alive they could have been something other then just a cult band for die hard fans like me of the early to mid 90's Norwegian scene.

If you are into albums like Written In Waters (1995) by Ved Buens Ende or Min Tid Skal Komme (1995) by Fleurety you definitely should look into this compilation.

I'm still hopeful that through all the very hard troubles they endured during their career that Strid will be a force to be recon with once again. Hopefully material that's unreleased or unrecorded will be unleashed for all. The legacy of Espen and Lars Fredrik definitely deserves that!


söndag 7 april 2019

THE FIRST 5 ULVER RELEASES

Did a post on Vargnatt, Bergtatt and Kveldssanger over at my Instagram account about exactly one year ago. Immediately began writing about the 2 albums released after them but after MANY re-writings later I post this.

Also took the pictures when I had my crappy iPhone 6S and me being to lazy to reshoot them with my new iPhone the quality isn't on par with my latest photos. Anyway finally... 

This very unique Norwegian Black Metal band that I nowadays wouldn't call Black Metal anymore but we'll get to that. First out their demo Vargnatt (1993).

The very first time I ever heard Ulver was on the Norwegian TV-show/documentary Det Svarte Alvor from 1994 that I had bought or traded on VHS in 1996. Something I did for bootleg filmed concerts by Dissection, Marduk, Emperor, Dismember and many more.

In Det Svarte Alvor the song Ulverrytternes Kamp by Ulver was featured and it blew me away. It’s still my favorite song by them.

The version I got is the brown leather book CD reissue of their 1993 demo Vargnatt from 2009 done by the amazing label Kyrck Productions.

Wasn’t actually until around 1999/00 (?) that I finally heard Vargnatt. On MP3 though... A rare occasion for me back then and now to download music to listen too.

But that was the only way that I could hear the demo back then and I'm glad I did it. Wasn't into computers at all during this time and my skills weren't good.

The 6-song and 28 min demo almost feels like a debut album because of the high quality of the songs and production. It starts out great with Her Begynner Mine Arr... and continues with the equally great Tragediens Trone.

Then the beautiful instrumental song Trollskogen brilliant performance on acoustic guitar by Haavard aka. Håvard Jørgensen. Continuing with Ulverrytternes Kamp already wrote it being my favorite Ulver song of all time.

Nattens Madrigal is the next song and it's better then that entire album with the same name but I'm getting ahead of myself. The title track Vargnatt ends the demo and what a great release this was.

Vocalist Kris R. as Garm calls himself on the original demo tape was 17 years old when this was released. He is my favorite vocalist from Norway of all time and on the demo his voice hasn't yet been perfected. But still an amazing debut performance by him I can hear why Arcturus recruited him in 1993.

Also worth mentioning is that Carl-Michael Eide (Aura Noir, Ved Buens Ende etc.) plays drums on Vargnatt the man of many talents and aliases here he's called C. Michael.

It's not mandatory to start with the demo if you're unfamiliar with Ulver but something tells me if you found this blog you are already familiar with the band and Black Metal. However if you like the 2 first Ulver records it's mandatory to have this fine demo release it's one of my personal favorite demos from Norway.

The demo was first reissued in 2003 on a 10" vinyl i released by Infinite Vinyl Series (company associated with The End Records). That 10" goes for around 50-60 € now.

The demo is included in their now really expensive vinyl compilation boxset Trolsk Sortmetall 1993–1997 that was released in limited quantities in 3 different vinyl versions in 2014 really wish to own that box someday.

The box was also released on CD but if you want a standalone release of Vargnatt I recommend any of the 3 CD releases done by Kyrck Productions.


Finding Ulver CD’s in my Swedish hometown was not happening in 1996 so in the summer of 1997 on a trip to Stockholm I finally bought their debut Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler at Sound Pollution.

Released by Metalion the legendary founder of Slayer Magazine owned record company Head Not Found. At first it was a bit disappointing because I expected Ulverrytternes Kamp to be on it. I didn’t have any idea what songs was on the album.

It took a few listens before I realized that the whole album was amazing and not just the song Soelen Gaaer Bag Aase Need. The opening I Troldskog Faren Vild is just as good as the one I just mentioned.

Kristoffer Rygg now known as Garm shows already on the first song how much he has developed his vocals skills from the demo.

The music is a combination of the 2nd wave of Norwegian Black Metal scene combined with acoustic guitar parts. Also with some flute, piano passages and different sound effects added gives a very unique atmosphere to the music.

It might only be 5 songs in 34 min but it's perfect it doesn't need to be any longer or shorter for that matter.

The 3rd song Graablick Blev Hun Vaer is also amazing and so is Een Stemme Locker a slower acoustic. Where Ulver  has the female vocalist Lill Kathrine Stensrud which adds much to the song.

She also played the flute and appears on Written In Waters (1995) by Ved Buens Ende.

On Bergtatt Ulver have Steinar "Sverd" Johnsen from one of my favorite bands from Norway ever Arcturus play piano. A band Garm was vocalist in from 1993 to 2003, he recorded 3 albums and one EP with them.

The last song Bergtatt - Ind I Fjeldkamrene continues in the same vein as the rest of the record and that concludes the album. I've never heard anything quite like it ever again. An absolute must have record in any collection!

Not long after I had purchased their debut I ordered the follow-up Kveldssanger (1996) on CD from Sound Pollution. Also released by Head Not Found and I immediately liked it even if it's way different from their debut no electric guitars or traditional Black Metal elements on this one.

Just acoustic guitar sometimes flute, cello occasional drums but what stands out most is the vocal performance by Garm but it's the whole combination what's makes it brilliant.

There's so many good songs of the 13 in 35 min like Østenfor Sol Og Vestenfor Maane; Nattleite; Høyfjeldsbilde; Hiertets Vee; Utreise and Ulvsblakk just to name a few. But my absolute favorite is problably Kledt I Nattens Farger. 



I've always had a hard time to figure out which one of these 3 is my favorite Ulver release. They are almost a perfect trilogy that's related to each other and I wouldn't want to exclude any of them.

Of course I have a special bond to Bergtatt because it was the first Ulver album I ever heard and bought. It's not always necessary to have a favorite and just enjoy the music.

Many might not think of Kveldssanger as a Black Metal record at all but to me it just show how broad the genre is especially the one in the Norwegian scene.

I'm Swedish but in the 90's I had much more records from the Norwegian Black Metal scene then the Swedish. There was I distinct different feeling of the two back then and now also.

I mean many band from Norway said in interviews that they were inspired just not by the Heavy Metal scene but bands like Depeche Mode.

Take for instance Varg Vikernes his favorite album ever was done by The Cure. Something like that would never been said in the Swedish scene in the 90's.

Even if Jon Nödtveidt from Dissection has said that Northern Progressive rock music from bands like Änglagård, Landberk and Anekdoten were among his favorites. Remember when I read that he and Ole Öhman (?) visited the Pink Floyd show in Gothenburg in 1994 and thinking "damn I need to listen to these bands" which I did later and many were amazing. But now I'm getting off topic..

And now for what I consider to be a big disappointment Nattens Madrigal - Atte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden from 1997.

I cannot remember how I got this promo CD. Maybe I bought it at a record fair in my hometown, when I renewed a magazine subscription or found it at the record store that sold 2nd hand CD's & LP's.

Owned this promo CD of the Nattens Madrigal album for 22 years now. I try to understand why it’s praised as some kind of masterpiece nowadays?

Don't remember anyone talking highly about this one or being some innovative album back in 1997.

I will give them credit for not doing Bergtatt del II and understand what they were going for.

But if I want to hear raw primitive Black Metal album I much rather listen to the amazing Under A Funeral Moon (1993) by Darkthrone instead.

Ulver does 8 songs in 44 min but it feels like 88 min. It gets old very fast because of the average songs and boring sound.

If they instead had made a 3 or 4-song EP of the best material and sorted out the worst parts I think it could’ve been an amazing release.

I definitely miss the clean vocals by Garm when listening to this record even if he still does a solid job with the vocals. Not knocking anyone's performance on the album. The problem is the songwriting and the boring production/sound according to me.

Wolf & Fear; Wolf & Hatred and Wolf & The Night all have brilliant qualities and I do enjoy listening to them. However the other songs are just average at best.

Wolf & Passion might have one of the worst opening riffs done by any "bigger band" ever in the Black Metal scene. It sounds like something that the very popular Swedish alternative rock band Kent would've written in 1995.

It was the first and only Ulver album to be released on Century Media. I don't know the full story why they parted ways after only just one album, reissues not included.

It sounds as if Ulver wanted to make a statement with this album. While being signed to a "big label" in the extreme Metal scene.

To me it feels like they rushed out the album to soon without thinking it through.

But then again lots of people seem to enjoy this album. I might find out someday I was wrong all along but it's not like I haven't tried because believe me I truly have. For 22 years... That's a long time and probably much longer then some of my Instagram followers have even lived.

If you enjoy the Nattens Madrigal album good for you and I’m happy for you but it’s not a record for me.

Now for the last full length album by Ulver in the 90's. The one with a ridiculously long title Themes From William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1998).

It was released 18 months after the Nattens Madrigal album on 2 CD’s with 19 songs. Approx 80 minutes of music (+ 20 min silence before the hidden ending) there's a lot of music to process.

They delivers a couple of amazing songs but also terrible ones. While not being a total disaster, it's not an amazing experience either. It doesn’t sound anything like the previous Ulver albums.

I don't necessarily see a problem with the band progressing into something else. In fact if they after Nattens Madrigal had gone back to the Black/Folk Metal feeling on their earlier albums that would've felt strange.

Even if the song Plates 5-6 has parts that sounds like something from the Kveldssanger record but with recitation and lots of effect added.

It's very hard to try and label the Themes From William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell album. They have so MANY different influences...

Way too easy just labeling the album as Avantgarde music. It has Electronic, Progressive and Trip-Hop influences. Sometimes I would call this Ulver goes Nine Inch Nails less commercial though.

They have a female vocalist "Her" (Stine Grytøyr) on many songs and some guy called Falch doing "vinyl scratching".

Many of the songs have a lot of effects or Trip-Hop beats sometimes "draining" the music that otherwise could have be great.

Tore Ylwizaker (programming, later also keyboard) joined Ulver for this record and has been a member ever since. Garm and him continued the band after the departure of longtime guitarist Haavard (Håvard Jørgensen) I think Ulver lost a lot of their "soul" without him.

This album also became both members since 1994 bassist Skoll (Hugh Stephen James Mingay) and drummer Erik Lancelot last album with Ulver.

Do think Garm is a musical genius. But I think the working relationship between him and those guys made Ulver standout in a already overpopulated Norwegian Black Metal scene in the mid 90's.

Garm, sorry Trickster-G, as he is known here produced and engineered The Marriage of Heaven and Hell with new member Tore Ylwizaker also co-producing, mixing and engineering.

Another co-producer of this album and also guest appearance by Arcturus genius guitarist Knut Magne Valle on "cables, wires & various sound contributions". I do believe he play some guitar on this record though.

Musicians that doesn't need any introduction Ihsahn, Samoth and Fenriz also gets credited for recitation on the album.

Not going to analyse the lyrical theme of this record. Simply because I'm not familiar enough with the English poet William Blake (1757 - 1827) writings or the book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

If I was to recommend some of my tracks on the album in chronological order:
The Argument Plate 2
Plates 5-6
Proverbs of Hell Plates 7-10
Intro (song 2 on CD-2 there are 3 different songs called Intro)
Plates 21-22
Intro (song 5 on CD-2)
A Memorable Fancy Plates 22-24

Don't expect to be completely blown away with those songs immediately though. They demands a lot of attention from the one listening to them fully appreciate those.

The musicians Haavard, Skoll and Erik Lancelot does a great job. Garm’s vocals are as always very unique and great whenever they are more "traditional" without all those effects added.

When I’m in the right mood I might give this album 3 listens a  year.

As with Nattens Madrigal they should’ve selected the best parts for 9 or 10 songs on 1 CD then it would be better experience.

Since this record Ulver have been hit or miss in my opinion. Some great releases and songs but whenever they go too much into effect overdose mode it's not good.

In my opinion the following Perdition City (2000) better then The Marriage of Heaven and Hell even if that one is far from perfect. But more about other records in another post.

I do highly respect that Ulver don’t give a fuck what fans or other people think about them and just go their own way on their own terms.

söndag 31 mars 2019

A DARKTHRONE post and the new OLD STAR album

Darkthrone has announced that their new album Old Star will be release on May the 31st by Peaceville Records. I immediately pre-ordered the black LP edition as soon as the e-mail got to me.

Without any doubt Darkthrone is clearly the band after Marduk that takes up most space in my entire collection of LP's and CD's. Here in this post is my Darkthrone studio album vinyls.

Excluded all the compilation, EP and 7” releases. Some of my records are 1st prints but many reissues especially the ones that are crazy expensive nowadays.

My vinyl collection is based on having the cover artwork from the original CD/LP release. It's not that I dislike all those Peaceville LP reissues that completely alters the cover artwork. But I only want what I grew up buying even if not all covers got changed by Peaceville.

For the 2 x CD releases with audio commentary by Fenriz and/or Nocturno Culto I don't care about the artwork though.

Those CD's are definitely something any die-hard Darkthrone fan should own because they are very informative and entertaining.

There's also some minor color changes on the ones I have. Goatlord is probably the one that differ most from the original CD release on Moonfog Productions in 1996. That one has a much brighter blue color. It wasn't released officially on vinyl until 2002 though and Moonfog changed to a much darker color.

2 years ago on my Instagram account I began to rank all the Darkthrone full length albums. The task proved more daunting than expected so I only did 2 or 3 posts.

Mainly because after my top-6, that I still 100% back up, it gets too difficult. Some bands records are extremely hard to put in order from best to “worst”. Darkthrone being one of them Burzum being another example.

Anyway if someone is interested my top-6 now and then:
  1. Panzerfaust (1995)
  2. A Blaze In The Northern Sky (1992)
  3. Under A Funeral Moon (1993)
  4. Transilvanian Hunger (1994)
  5. Total Death (1996)
  6. Ravishing Grimness (1999)
If I had to pick a 7th one it would be divided between so many records it's not worth mentioning. However when we get closer to the release of Old Star I might go in depth with these 6.

Ever since Old Star was announced I been lost in a total Darkthrone music phase. My go to albums aren’t those 6 albums on the list except for A Blaze In The Northern Sky and Total Death. Have heard all those 6 records to death but those two I have been listening to very much lately also been into:

Plaguewielder (2001)
Nocturno Culto composed all music except for 1 song. A total gem!

Hate Them (2003)
Always liked this one so many amazing songs & riffs.

Goatlord (1996)
Hesitated to include it among their studio albums. Everyone should know the story behind the 1996 record. Still a very unique Darkthrone release.

Dark Thrones And Black Flags (2008)
This one is brilliant and one of their most underrated records.

Arctic Thunder (2016)
Such a great one I really hope they will top this with Old Star.

2 months feels very far away from now but I can’t wait to hear what Fenriz & Nocturno Culto will deliver this time.


söndag 17 mars 2019

ARCTURUS - ASPERA HIEMS SYMFONIA (1996)

On a reissue green/black vinyl by the great Kyrck Productions from 2012. It comes with a 8-page booklet, poster and is limited to 300 copies.

Have already done a post on my Instagram account @herr_perdition about 2 years ago or something like that. But this record deserves another post and I haven't written one for the blog so here we go I will write more about the band then rather the album.

The latin title of Aspera Hiems Symfonia doesn't fit for when I found it on CD in the summer of 1996 at one of my local record stores. It was actually one employee that used to tell me about new Black Metal releases that showed me the album I listened to it at the store with headphones.  

About 30 seconds into To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night I was already convinced that the digipack CD was going home with me. A format I was and am still a sucker for now and definitely back then.

Also listened to Wintry Grey over there but then I just wanted to get the damn CD home to a more fitting environment (my teenage room). The record was so amazing that Arcturus became one of my new favorite Black Metal bands in just approx 1.5 hours (bus home and a playthrough) and that still remains to this day.

Arcturus have only released brilliant records throughout their career. Well that remixed album called Disguised Masters (1999) I hated it at the time of its release but nowadays I can appreciate it more but it's mainly for collectors and die hard fans like me.

Is it perfect? Did they need gangsta rap on Master Of Disguise and all that trip-hop? Hell no! But some of those remixes are done in a good way but the originals are 1000 times better at least. The new songs the opening 49 seconds White Tie Black Noise and Deception Genesis fells like leftovers from La Masquerade Infernale (1997). The "ensemble version" of Ad Astra is a great one though and the highlight of the album.

Some say that the Sideshow Symphonies (2005) record isn't as good as the rest of their discography. I do agree but still an amazing record that I would rate a 9 out of 10 if I had to put a review number on it. 

But let's talk a bit about this LP release another Kyrck Production release a company one can or could always rely on because they haven't released anything for years. I got vinyls & CD's by Ulver, Ved Buens Ende, Strid, Manes etc. all of them are immaculate releases. Kyrck always went the extra mile to make sure to please their customers got their moneys worth.

DO NOT get the 2002 compilation with Aspera Hiems Symfonia/Constellation/My Angel release! The remastering of Aspera Hiems Symfonia sounds terrible at least the 2 x vinyl album that I own. It should be sold and not pester my Arcturus collection because it's so bad. However it does have 2 bonus songs from the Aspera Hiems Symfonia session.

This Kyrck release also got a bonus song a early 1994 rehearsal version of The Bodkin & The Quietus or as it's simply called here The Bodkin.... Would've been nice with those 2 songs from the 2002 compilation The Deep Is The Skies and Cosmojam but with or without any bonus songs this is how a proper Aspera Hiems Symfonia LP release should be.

The album was actually released on vinyl as early as 1996 but only on a picture disc LP. There's also a misprint of that release that has the same image on both sides.

I do like picture discs but try and avoid them mainly because of the many fragile prints that clearly was never meant to be played on a record player. I only want records in my collection that I will play.

Anyway cannot recommend Arcturus and this album enough!



söndag 10 mars 2019

My ISENGARD tattoo - a tribute to FENRIZ and the mid 90's NORWEGIAN BLACK METAL scene

The tattoo was done by @fifthson78 on Instagram or visit his page at www.fifthson.com thanks for the excellent work once again man and the great conversation. He also did my Wardruna bind rune tattoo.

The inspiration can be found inside the CD-booklet of the Høstmørke (1995) album that I bought the year it was released. It’s also the pendant you see Fenriz wear on the cover of the album still to this day he's wearing it on pictures and in videos I've seen.

Choose not to include the quote: "Death is certain, life is not"? It's not that I don't like the meaning of that but I don't want any quote on my arms. The symbol is the main thing in my opinion also my right arm is dedicated to Norse/Pagan tattoos and my left for more Dark/Satanic stuff.

Although I’m a huge Darkthrone fan I got all their full length studio albums both on LP and most of them also on CD.

This image symbolizes my favorite years of Fenriz music. The classic Moonfog era during the mid 90's.

The releases he did with Isengard, Darkthrone, StormDødheimsgard and also the Vallhall and Neptune Towers ones were all of such class at the time of their release. They all became classic albums immediately and yes I'm aware all those weren't released on Moonfog Productions.

Because of mainly the 3 first bands I mentioned I began a hunt for finding everything Fenriz related in 1995/96 on CD. For instance that's how I stumbled across the Kronet Till Konge (1995) album and even if I don't play the two Neptune Towers albums regularly. They both have a very deep nostalgic factor for me and in the right "mind/mood" they are a great soundtrack. Even if there's admittedly both better Ambient Black Metal bands and albums.

Don’t get me wrong! I like all the albums that I own from 2000 to now that involves Fenriz. Well maybe not where he does just a guest appearance. Isengard is by far my favorite side project he's ever done and certainly one of the very best in the entire scene in the 90's. I would almost put Isengard as high up as I do Darkthrone.

Always say my favorite album is Høstmørke but my go to Isengard album is actually the debut compilation Vinterskugge (1994). It’s so diverse and during its 64.5 minutes there isn’t anything I would change.

Sure even Høstmørke shows signs of different styles with songs like Thornspawn Chalice and Total Death being straight forward Black Metal while the 5 other songs has a Folk/Pagan Metal feeling which one most associate Isengard with.

However on Vinterskugge that's categorized in 3 chapters. The first chapter Vandreren (1993) songs 1 to 7 has everything from Folk/Pagan Metal on for instance Nagelfar or Vinterskugge and many more. Also a ambient song In The Halls And Chambers Of Stardust The Crystallic Heavens Open and the primitive Black Metal on Ut I Vannets Dyp Hvor Mørket Hviler.

On chapter II songs 8 to 12 Spectres Over Gorgoroth (1989) is from the Isengard demo it has a Death Metal feeling with Doom and Black Metal influences. All are great and I'm so glad they were included and that they didn't just release the 1993 recordings.

Chapter III Horizons songs 13-16 from 1991 (some recorded later) are definitely the weirdest but so fucking brilliant. The Fog incorporates Black and Death Metal, Storm Of Evil is almost like Folk Metal with 70's rock also some Punk in that one.

Bergtrollets Gravferd a ambient song with a very ominous dark feeling. Despite its title that I associate more with the Viking/Folk it's the most Satanic sounding song on the album. I can only think of Mortiis with Vond on Selvmord (1994) that could do something as brilliant with a Ambient song to get that darkness into it. Even if I'm by far not an expert on every record out there.

Then the ending Our Lord Will Come which by far is one of the weirdest songs Fenriz ever recorded in the 90's. It's dark and weird 70's evil sounding Rock with Doom Metal and with an even a more ominous feeling then the previous one in parts.

Although amazing throughout the first 7 songs are my favorites on Vinterskugge closely followed by the 4 ending songs which are so fucking great. Like I said would not change anything on this album.

I think to everyone's surprise in 2016 Peaceville released the Traditional Doom Cult 7" vinyl with 2 songs. The Light from the autumn of 1989 and The Fright from early 1990. Both would've fitted well with the rest of the material on the Vinterskugge album.

But with 16 songs already it might been too many songs for that album. Both The Light and The Fright is in the same vein as the Our Lord Will Come song. Not as evil/ominous sounding but still great. I would be very glad if more stuff like this was released.

Do I want Fenriz to resurrect Isengard? No that ship sailed a long time ago. Around 1996-97 both Darkthrone and Fenriz music didn't have that same spirit in my opinion. Even if brilliant records like the criminally underrated Total Death (1996), Ravishing Grimness (1999), Arctic Thunder (2016) etc. was and are still being released.

Was recommended the split Engangsgrill (2009) he did with Nattefrost of Carpathian Forest etc. where the 3 first songs is called Fenriz' Red Planet would be in the same vein as Isengard. The recording dates back to 1993 but doesn't have that Isengard magic to it. The songs are basically 70's primitive Rock with Doom/Stoner influences although not bad, not amazing either but worth buying.

Vinterskugge was actually the first Norwegian Black Metal CD that I ever laid my eyes on. Remember a friend I had back then borrowed it from a friends boyfriend or something like that. He actually didn't got into the scene like me and my other friends did. You got to know this is something like 25 years ago. So my memory isn't quite clear on how or where he borrowed the CD from...

But I'm definitely 100% certain it was Vinterskugge Do believe we listened to it together and knew it was a side project but it wasn't a great start for my Black Metal journey. That would begin just a few months later with Emperor and In The Nightside Eclipse (1994) album.

By the way where do you think I got the inspiration for using Herr in front of all my names I use online? Of course its from the Nordavind (1995) album by Storm where Fenriz labels himself as Herr Nagell.

Actually I’m not one for meeting famous Black Metal artists and sure I've stumble across some during my 39 years of living. But Fenriz is one guy I would like to buy a beer/drink and just chitchat with for some hours about music. Would he enjoy that? Probably not...

Anyway I’m so satisfied with my Fenriz 90’s tribute. Don’t know what I would choose to tribute the last 19 years work by him I could definitely come up with something.

But my next tattoo project will be something Bathory related. Nothing's decided yet also which era I would choose. There are so many possibilities I could take with that also.

Thanks again to Johannes @Fifthson78 for a brilliant work and also one Herr Gylve Nagell for the inspiration.