Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nifelheim Review...

So, I wrote up this review prior to realizing that Crin had already written a review for Nifelheim's newest full-length awhile back...

Nifelheim- Envoy Of Lucifer

(Regain Records)




Ramp up the cheese factor! Sweden’s favorite blackened thrash metal goofballs Nifelheim are back with a new full-length on Regain Records after a seven year absence from their last full-length. Yeah, you remember these guys right? Receding hairlines, “Show No Mercy”-era eyeliner, beer bellies that continue to expand with each release, spikes and leather that also seem to exponentially expand, and old Sodom worship blasted up to the maximum possible intensity are all on display with “Envoy Of Lucifer”, the band’s first full-length since 2000’s “Servants Of Darkness”. Throw in goofy looking twins, plus a band member that can pass for a triplet, and connections to long past Swedish car insurance commercials, and you have one of this new year’s funnier releases (well, officially a late November, 2007 release).

OK, OK, so Nifelheim are amusing. However, their version of old school blackened thrash will satisfy just about anyone with an appreciation for the ‘80s output of early Sodom, Venom, and like-minded bands as Nifelheim serves up an homage to this period with gusto and aplomb. Sloppy riffs, a generally mid-paced tempo with hollow sounding drums combined with simple fills and rolls, a snarl lifted from Angelripper’s playbook, and, somewhat surprisingly, a few catchy, melodic guitar moments and riffs that bring to mind AC/DC all make appearances on “Envoy Of Lucifer”. “Envoy Of Lucifer” is not just a release that’s strictly about the ‘80s, though, and I certainly would not lump Nifelheim into the current “retro thrash” revival that’s taking place. There are some blasts, mostly modern production values, and a decidedly black metal take on the genre.

Although this will obviously appeal to old hands such as me, there’s nothing really new going on here and, although I certainly got a kick out of “Envoy Of Lucifer”, I really can’t envision this album remaining in heavy rotation for very long. More than likely, I’ll end up hauling “Envoy Of Lucifer” out now and then for a nostalgic spin (sort of like “Obsessed By Cruelty”)...



Sorry, song removed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Brief Blasts...

Here are three more brief blasts from albums already covered by other writers at Live 4 Metal, but ended up in my lap anyway. First up is Las Vegas' Avenger Of Blood, one of the more well known bands that is a part of the whole "retro thrash" movement currently occupying everyone's time. I'm still convinced that this movement is a one trick pony and will soon fade, but the band's debut "Death Brigade" is enjoyable nonetheless. You will immediately be thinking "Terrible Certainty" when you hear the title track...




Heavy Artillery Records

Next is hyper technical death metal/ grindcore outfit Brain Drill from California with their debut full-length on Metal Blade Records entitled "Apocalyptic Feasting". Frankly, this one is a monster with everything you'd want from the genre; that is, bludgeoning, all over the map riffs, bass lines galore, stop on a dime time changes, all out blasts, hyperkinetic enthusiasm and gore hilarity, you name it. Highly recommended!



Metal Blade Records

Finally, here's Italy's Necromessiah, a blackened thrash act with a definite old school vibe that works. Would you consider this example as a part of the "retro thrash" genre? You decide. Here's a track from their second full-length, "Antiklerikal Terroristik Death Squad".



Blasphemous Underground Productions

In closing, I had to miss the recent Exodus show due to a nasty case of the flu...I'm not sure what my next show will be...

Sorry, songs removed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

One more for the Horsehead...

I had just remembered yet another black metal band fixated with the Horsehead Nebula. That would be Midvinter from Sweden, a one shot supergroup (although Encyclopaedia Metallum lists them as active) of sorts with connections to Naglfar, Setherial, and Bewitched amongst others. Their only full-length, "At The Sight Of The Apocalypse Dragon" from 1997, is fairly typical, yet well-done, late '90s Swedish black metal...



Sorry, song removed...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Horsehead Nebula...

Astronomy themes are nothing new in metal and can probably be traced back to, at least, "Into The Void" (yeah, rockets) on "Master Of Reality". For reasons that somewhat escape me, a number of bands have zeroed in on the Horsehead Nebula, an often photographed region near Zeta Orionis, aka Alnitak. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion's Belt. The Horsehead Nebula is quite beautiful and adorns my living room in a framed print (it's actually difficult to see with a telescope, even though only low magnification is required, due to poor contrast).

Two nice shots....





At any rate, the Horsehead Nebula makes an appearance on four album covers (at least) within the death metal and black metal genres. First, the French black metal band Nehemah. Their last full-length, "Requiem Tenebrae" from 2004, features a close up of the Horsehead...



Next up is Origin, technical death metal band extraordinaire from Kansas. I've never quite been able to figure out the significance of the Horsehead Nebula in this band's context. A song follows from their self-titled debut...



Next is Fog, the remains of Morpheus Descends, with their 2001 debut entitled "Through The Eyes Of Night...Winged They Come". Look for the Horsehead, also known as Barnard 33 by the way, silhouetted. A track follows...



Lastly, we have Fenriz' somewhat ill-conceived ambient/ synth project Neptune Towers. I'll spare you a track, but I love the album's title, "Caravans To Empire Algol"...



Can you spot the Horsehead on any other covers? What other astronomy themes can you spot in metal (yeah, there are boatloads)...?



Sorry, all songs removed...