Warzaw, Black Magic Satellite (2021)

Norwegian metalheads Warzaw release their second album of 2021, Black Magic Satellite.

At the beginning of this year, Warzaw unleashed Werewolves On Wheels, a full-length 1980s-metal-inspired album that brought an enormous amount of heavy metal joy. Now they are back to close the year out with an all new long-player, Black Magic Satellite. Points for diligence and hard work. More importantly, the new one branches out a little more than Werewolves did while staying in the broad lane of banging heavy metal. The musicians who make up Warzaw are Daniel Rønning (vocals), Håvard Alvarez (guitar), Trond Jullumstrø (guitar and bass), and Mats Sødahl (drums).

“Santa Mira” gets things going on this eleven track set. It crackles with energy and pace, and offers up an satisfyingly digestible chorus. The melody takes hold of you with hot hands and stands you up for the excellent lead break. This song rips. “Fierce Attitude” comes next, and it is also speedy, plus a little more grizzly. The tempo shifts slightly on the third track, “Send My Regards,” toward the center lane, retaining the heaviness of its predecessors while mixing things up a bit. The lyrics here are rougher, the lead break more raw; a flexing juxtaposition.

Throughout the album, the standard hard rock set-up frames the compositions and deploys that reliable familiarity. The surety of this position allows the band to rub confidently its own scent in every crease and crevice of each song. Other stand-out tracks for me are “Circular Talk” and the closer, “Sabres of Flesh and Blood.” There is not a weak one in the bunch.

This album is every bit as good as Werewolves, and it pledges a bright future for the next one. I really like this band. Recommended.

Black Magic Satellite is out tomorrow, December 31st. Listen to it on Spotify or search the ether for a place to buy the digital album.

Links.

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/2pJZWxMzv2TwO99Y3HIDFb

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/warzawband

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZxg45Ijq7UkZQ-37lc0jxQ

FFMB Werewolves On Wheels review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2021/02/11/warzaw-werewolves-on-wheels-2021/

Warzaw, Black Magic Satellite (2021)

Gåte, Nord (Indie Recordings 2021)

Heavy folk band Gåte release their fifth album, Nord.

It has been more than twenty years since Gåte first got together in Norway. They have released eight previous recordings – four each of EPs and LPs. The music is what I call acoustic doom. I am also at peace with doom folk as a label. The musicians are Gunnhild Sundli (vocals and violin), Magnus Børmark (guitar, vocals, and percussion), Sveinung Sundli (Hardanger fiddle, organ, vocals, and percussion) Jon Even Schærer (percussion and vocals).

“Solfager og Ormekongen” has the sound of a soft and soulful tale with persistent tamping percussion, organic huffing in the background, strings, and the occasional impression of woodland creatures. The English translation of the title is “Solfager and the Worm King” and there is a detailed description of the story, too, in the press materials. It is nice to read, and certainly interesting, but it also a little like cheating since I will never understand the lyrics when I hear them sung. Whenever I hear songs in a language I do not know, the vocal becomes a pure instrument with only the literal sound and the emotional expression that comes through the presence of the singer’s voice. It is an incomplete experience but it is also an unclouded one.

I love Gunnhild Sundli’s voice and, listening to it without narrative understanding, I am nonetheless transfixed. This is not metal, not even folk metal. And yet, listen to “Rideboll og Gullborg” and tell me it is not heavy in tone and deep in ponderment. Like doom music. The folk setting and the use of traditional instruments, especially the heavy reliance on percussion, changes the perspective and style, but does not disturb the seriousness or the depth of emotion. To me, it is enthralling. Recommended.

Nord is out on Friday, December 3rd through Indie Recordings. Bandcamp is the place to go in the US for an easy acquisition.

Links.

Website, https://gaate-music.com/

Bandcamp, https://gaate.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Gaateband

Indie Recordings, https://shop.indierecordings.no/

Gåte, Nord (Indie Recordings 2021)

Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

Sarke has created another unstoppable metal music amalgam on their seventh album, Allsighr.

Sarke is an unusual metal band from Oslo, Norway. They have released six previous albums, the most recent one being Gastwerso in 2019, and they have been at this for ony a decade. Widely regarded as seminal players in metal fusion, Sarke’s reputation will be embellished by their newest album with its boundless creativity. The musicians are Nocturno Culto (vocals), Sarke (bass), Steinar Gundersen (guitar), Anders Hunstad (keys), and Cato Bekkevold (drums).

There are ten rugged tracks on Allsighr. The opener is “Bleak Reflections,” and it has groove-laced primary riffs that propel it along its dark path. Sarke is known for an atypical mixology, combining basic rock from the 1970s with curious bursts and – least likely to go with the others – black metal infusions. It is crackle and stomp with a gloomy cloak strolling in the swirling mist. The perfect example is the song “Grim Awakening,” which has a mid-tempo riff and dreamy keys and then a chorus that goes, “I leap into cruelty / I leap into hate / a grim awakening / will seal my fate.” Juxtaposition on parade.

There are many songs to admire on this album. A couple of my favorites include “Funeral Fire” for its inventive creepiness and “Beheading of the Circus Director” for its incredible urgency and unstoppable optimism. This music will completely take you over if you let it. And you should let it. Listen to “Through The Thorns” and tell me I am wrong. I am not getting over this album anytime soon.

The drop date for Allsighr is Friday, November 5th through Soulseller Records. Snap it up on-line or at your favorite local music store. It’s a ripper. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/allsighr

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sarkeofficial/

Soulseller Records, https://soulsellerrecords.aisamerch.com/

Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new album from Diskord is another challenging foray into the wilderness of heavy music.

If you are looking for the usual Death Metal band then Diskord is not for you. Their music comes at you from all sorts of angles, many of which you didn’t even know were there. Formed in Norway in 1999, their first full-length album was Doomscapes (2012), followed by Dystopics in 2012 and now the new one, Degenerations. The band is Hans Jørgen (vocals, drums), Dmitry (guitar, vocals), and Eyvind (bass, electric upright bass, cello, theremin, synth, vocals).

The album begins with two short pieces followed by three common-length songs and a sort of exit ramp for side one after that. The first notes are grating. This sound is joined by a drum roll and a bass line. The music starts to form into a Mothers Of Invention kind of arrangement, then darts off into what sounds a little like Black Metal for a few bars. That sounds chaotic, but I do not think it is. There is purpose here in the mind of the composer even if it is not apparent to the receiver.

The second track is rather discordant, while the third, “Abnegations,” follows a more linear path. The percussion is raucous, as are the vocals, and there is a surprisingly straight-forward lead break about a third of the way through that third track … then entropy. And more entropy across the entire set.

You could put a number of different labels on separate parts of this music but it is difficult to describe overall. Avant-garde, sure, but that doesn’t really tell you much. The music is definitely radical. It might make sense to some listeners – maybe there are those who can put the pieces together in their head into some sort of recognizable whole. For me, I think of it more as an experience I had rather than something I can explain. If you are up for a challenge, give Diskord an ear.

Degenerations is out on Friday, August 13th through Transcending Obscurity. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diskordband.bandcamp.com/album/degenerations-dissonant-technical-death-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DiskordNorway

Diskord website, https://diskord.net/news

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Darkthrone, Eternal Hails… (Peaceville Records 2021)

Fenriz and Nocturno Culto are back with another bubbling cauldron of metal: Eternal Hails…

Darkthrone has been throwing its weight around the heavy music scene since the mid-1980s. Cracking in with Death Metal at first, they became well known for the seminal Black Metal albums they released in the 1990s – 1993’s Under A Funeral Moon, for example, and its immediate successor the following year, Transylvanian Hunger. New albums came over the years, laying down the history of the band and establishing its legacy.

The new record leans into the Doom Metal side of the Darkthrone universe with five long crushing tracks. When I say doom, I mean heavy doom. “His Master’s Voice” is slow and pulverizing with a tempo change or two but clearly focused on pressing you down with its mass. “Hate Cloak,” my personal favorite of this set, stays in the same lane, with straight-forward riffs that have an overwhelming simplicity that is hypnotizing.

“Wake of the Awakened” breaks the gate with an up-tempo rate and the pace is maintained throughout, like a charging cavalry. “Voyage to a Northpole Adrift” offers a riff of despair in its establishing moments, but turns to a purposefulness later on that gives you a feeling of exploration in a barren place. The anchor song is “Lost Arcane City of Uppåkra.” This song more than any of the others fits perfectly the description Fenriz gave the album, “Five heavy dinosaurs looking in wonder and bewilderment at the stars.” Heavy, monstrous, unstoppable.

I have always liked the music Darkthrone creates no matter what direction they go in. I’d put this new album high on the list of their accomplishments, even given all the great work they have done in the past. Recommended.

Eternal Hails… is out on Friday, June 25th from Peaceville Records in CD, vinyl, and digital formats.

Band photo by Jørn Steen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://peaceville.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-hails

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Darkthrone-101075189934422

Peaceville Records, https://peaceville.com/bands/darkthrone/

Darkthrone, Eternal Hails… (Peaceville Records 2021)

White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Norway’s White Tundra is coming out hot with new seven-inch riffery that’ll get you groovin’.

The band is fairly new, having formed into a single unit just a few years ago. Last year, they released the Graveyard Blues EP, and now we have this new single seven. It is a riff-and-groove affair, like riding in a dune buggy in the sun while watching encroaching storm clouds on the horizon.

“Honningfella” sounds like a giant tromping the ground and swinging small trees around. The steady pulsing guitars and single-along moments make this song a heavy rotation necessity.

They get the wood block out for “One More Place,” making me nostalgic for the 70s. This one is more of a sitting down song that the A-side track. Take a load off, imbibe, nod your head. Repeat.

We don’t cover singles much here but this new White Tundra release was just so much fun there was no way to resist. Super fuzzy, extra buzzy. Recommended.

You can pick this up right now – hit the links below. The digital is out and the physicals ship in early July.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://whitetundra.bandcamp.com/album/honningfella

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/WhiteTundraBand

All Good Clean Records, https://www.allgoodcleanrecords.com/

White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Norwegian metal duo Gorr strike back with their second album in as many years.

Gorr is Gjøran Sæther, known as Skuggimaðr, and Evan Barton, known as Hateful Wind. The band is in the earlier stages and is still growing into its emerging identity. The musicians have done a lot of work under different fronts and so the experience the have, even if it is relatively new, is also notably deep.

The opening track has a desert vibe to it, which works in arctic environments, too. A solitary guitar alongside a hissing vocal is all that is utilized for the first minute and a half, and then minimal percussion swings in to finish it off. The very next song opens full blast with the vocals mixed heavy into the forefront, posting very black metal. Side one wraps on the contemplative “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” – distressed, forlorn, hopeless.

Rapid riffs crack open the second triplet, forging an opening for rampaging percussion. “Ditt Uendelege Raseri” has a similar opening but a different trajectory, and it is more driving and persistent. The closing song has a droning quality to it at the jump, and an overwhelming, hyper-stimulated essence along with a new raspiness to the vocal. Any intimation of relief is entirely gone by now, and it is no longer simply sadness, it is suffering.

The artists describe the album, in part, this way: “The duality in relying on nature for survival and the very clear sense of doom that follows closely is reflected through this album. Life and death, combat and construction, noble goals and meaningless losses. This is Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket.” Even without the explanation many of these ideas come through very clearly in the music. It makes sense to me. Recommended.

Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket is out now and Bandcamp is the place to pick it up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://gorr.bandcamp.com/album/kvit-som-sn-en-kald-i-blikket

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gorrbm

Website, https://gorr.no/

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Slaves to Fashion celebrates metal with a history lesson that will make you want to bang your head.

The band from Haugesund, Norway started out nearly twenty years ago as P:O:B. After a few lineup shuffles, they changed their name to Slaves To Fashion, releasing an EP in 2009 and then a long-player in 2011, Artistic Differences. They were playing a version of prog metal then, expressing their art through precision. The principals on the current album are Johannes Støle (vocals), Torfinn Sirnes (guitar), John Lind (bass), Vidar Ingvaldsen (drums), and Stein Arild Grønås (guitar).

The idea behind The History Of Heavy Metal is to celebrate heavy metal in all its guises. Each song therefore focuses on a specific period in the evolution and spread of metal, branching out along the lineage in sometime surprising ways. Which subgenres exactly? Have a look at the cool chart developed by the band inserted at the end of this review. There are a lot of different flavors of heavy music.

There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the radio-friendly three minutes of “The NU Wine” to the epic thirteen minute rapture of “The Evergrowing Tree.” This is not a goof – in every case the music is rock solid and a genuine respectful homage to the type, with a number of playful references thrown in the lyrics that fans will spot immediately. I don’t have a favorite because they are all good but I do have a strong affection for that big 13-minute track as it is a showcase of just about everything, and the opener, “1970,” is a loving tribute to the early days and it hits home with me. Without fail, there is something here for every metal fan. Recommended.

The official release date for the CD and digital versions is Saturday, February 13th. Hit the Bandcamp link below. There will also be a special edition vinyl version later in the year that will include three bonus tracks.

Band photo by Stones Photography.

Flowchart from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://slavestofashion.bandcamp.com/album/the-history-of-heavy-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/slavestofashionband/

Website, https://www.slavestofashion.net/

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Warzaw, Werewolves On Wheels (2021)

The Trøndelag, Norway four piece throw-back metal band Warzaw rips a new one out.

There are/have been a number of bands and albums with the title “Werewolves On Wheels” running around out there over the years. This one is from Norway and is made up of Daniel Rønning (vocals), Håvard Alvarez (guitar), Trond Jullumstrø (guitar and bass), and Mats Sødahl (drums). The stated goal of these seasoned professionals is to “make energetic, riff-packed music reminiscent of the glory days of 80s heavy metal.” I am down with that.

Werewolves On Wheels has eleven songs with tongue-in-cheek themes and good-time metal riffs and melodies. The title tracks starts things off with a high-voltage up-tempo riff and a howl of party energy. A great lead shred lands just past the middle, where it belongs, and is followed up with an immediate second one. Bonus. “The Second Banana” comes next, picking up the flag and waving it at the other side of the stadium. It puts me in mind of Alcatrazz a little, maybe a little bit of Blue Murder (but less serious). What they are doing is what they said they wanted to do – lay down some great catchy riffs in the same vein as all those 80s bands, many of which we’ve lost to our degraded memories. Every song on the album is a new crack and they are all razor sharp.

I really like this album. Keep in mind that the style is just the starting point – they still have to write and perform the music. While the themes Warzaw is working with here are meant to be on the light side, the music rides on iron rails. The riffs and rhythms are creative and the playing is impeccable. Rønning’s voice would have worked back them and it is perfect now for this new metal. Count me in. Recommended.

Werewolves On Wheels is out now and available on Spotify. I am not sure if there is any way to actually buy this or not, but you can certainly stream it for free. I have added the YouTube link below as well so you can check out the videos.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/warzawband

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZxg45Ijq7UkZQ-37lc0jxQ

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/album/6uaM8PL3elIV86lz9x1bmS?si=qZlCm3tMRtiK0ugVHP288A

Warzaw, Werewolves On Wheels (2021)

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The incredible 15th album from the Bergen, Norway metal band Enslaved is Utgard, another impressive achievement in their long career.

The most recent previous studio album was E in 2017, and the songs on that album were generally long (most around eight minutes or longer), which is the usual way Enslaved creates music. On Utgard, the band’s compositions are tighter and yet every bit as creative as earlier releases. The band is now made up of long-time members Grutle Kjellson (vocals and bass), Ivar Bjørnson (guitars and effects), and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitars), along with newer recruits Håkon Vinje (keyboards and vocals) and Iver Sandøy (drums). The confluence of these musical elements is an alchemy all its own.

“Fires In The Dark” opens with an acapella treatment (in Norwegian), followed by an acoustic guitar moment, sudden heavy riffs, wispy atmospheric sounds, then a narrative element. Sort of a heavy version of Andrew Lloyd Weber in that it is a big production and a complex construction. The melodies in the guitars have a very magic carpet, djinn feel to them in the second half – a mystical desert vibe. The integration of diverse elements is the mainstay throughout. “Jettegryta,” the next song, does this too, in a very different way. It is not simply the variation of coarse and clean vocals but also shifts in musical cadence and style, sometimes perpendicularly, that throw you off cliff after cliff then lift you up on hurricane winds. We hear Epic Metal then Prog then a classic metal riff, here and there and all around.

On side two, “Urjotun” is a peppy straight-up prog rock song that is taken over by darkness as it progresses. “Flight of Thought and Memory” wells up feelings of sorrow and regret, while “Storms of Utgard” is more confrontational with amazing lead guitar work. The closing song is “Distant Seasons.” You can feel the curtain falling when it begins in its quiet and gentle way, but the power wells up soon enough. The relatively brief nature of the songs is a departure in a way for the band, but all the elements we have come to expect from Enslaved are nevertheless here in full force. Recommended.

Out now from Nuclear Blast, you can get Utgard on CD and vinyl and of course as a download – Bandcamp is best place for the digital.

Links.

Band: http://enslaved.no/

Band Bandcamp: https://enslaved.bandcamp.com/album/utgard

Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enslaved

Nuclear Blast Shop: https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/enslaved-utgard-black-vinyl-.html

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)