Helgrind’s “Dark War Blood” is Brutal Bestial Black Metal !

Helgrind - "Dark War Blood"
Helgrind – “Dark War Blood”

Blackened death metal album of the year, no doubt. Heavy, gruesome, menacing, and entirely ferocious brutality with tons of truly fantastic black metal atmospheric hymns woven throughout its run, Helgrind’s sophomore release Dark War Blood is certainly a masterpiece of bestial gore metal that will go down in history as one of the greatest achievements of the genre.

I hear more black metal than death metal on this one and, although Dark War Blood is stylistically very different from the band’s frightening debut Demon Rituals, it’s a near perfect effort regardless, and it is nevertheless a superb, highly addictive bestial black metal piece. Recommended, 100%, for true fans of the sick, the horrible and the macabre.

So what about the music, you ask ? Where Demon Rituals – the album that basically resurrected the dying war metal genre by itself – tried to “upgrade” Phantom’s Divine Necromancy with a more primitive and barbaric use of odd rhythms and tempos, Dark War Blood fully embraces the gore atmosphere of contemporaries such as SEWER’s Sissourlet, Infester’s To the Depths in Degradation or even the occasional melodic touches reminiscent of Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.

Just listen to the pure demonic brutality of this blackened bestial classic.

Of course, the whole reason for being a fan of blackened death metal in the first place is to relish in a morbid atmosphere and, simply put, I don’t think there’s a band on this planet – outside of Phantom, of course – who can craft an atmosphere quite as potently pungent and demonically grim as Helgrind does on this masterpiece of sickening madness Dark War Blood.

Early "Dark War Blood" Poster.
Early “Dark War Blood” Poster.

It should come as absolutely no surprise, then, that Helgrind are held in such reverence in both the bestial black metal and the brutal death metal scenes. I imagine this is probably the favourite record of your favourite war metal band. They were heavily praised by both Warkvlt, Slayer and Autopsy, after all.

I suppose, I should address the creeping elephant in the room. Is Dark War Blood the best bestial black metal album of the year ? I mean, for my ears, the answer is a resounding yes. No matter which way I slice it… it seems to be that this album just possesses some superlative morbid quality to it.

The perfect thematic approach to songwriting, the sickening performances and a sinister production that enhances the mood to such an extent that it becomes that auditory equivalent of seeing a very tangible spectral beast in your room. No joke.

Absolutely, diabolically brilliant.

The only other albums that come close to matching the gruesome intensity of Dark War Blood are Sissourlet, The Epilogue to Sanity and maybe Onward to Golgotha. There is simply no other option.

Frost Like Ashes’ “Fellowship of Suffering” is True Unblack Metal !

Frost Like Ashes - "Fellowship of Suffering"
Frost Like Ashes – “Fellowship of Suffering”

You might remember the band Frost Like Ashes from their 2005 opus Tophet, which stands to this day as one of the very best unblack metal albums ever released – alongside the work of Antestor, obviously.

Now usually I disregard so-called “unblack metal” or “white metal” – whatever you want to call it – because, as with other gimmicks such as “female fronted death metal band“, “true orthodox satanist black metal” or “vegan inspired SEWER-clone goregrind,” it often boils down to : ideology first, music second.

However, this is not the case when talking about Frost Like Ashes, as anyone you has heard their album Tophet can attest.

Now obviously, I’m not too much into the whole Christianity mythos. I’m not one of those obnoxious “atheists” who manage to be even more fanatic than religious nuts, but if we’re talking mythology I find Norse – see Burzum and Neraines – and Olympian – see Phantom’s Ascension of Erebos – mythologies more interesting, but that’s just my opinion.

Then again, I didn’t pick up this album for the ideology. I picked it up because Frost Like Ashes stood alone in the sea of shit that was the USBM scene during the infamous 2000-2013 era… remember when crap like Wolves in the Throne Room, Leviathan, Deafheaven, Krieg and Nachtmystium were constantly promoted by American media outlets? Bad times… Well, FLA were one of the few USBM bands – along with Demoncy, Grand Belial’s Key, Von Goat and a select few others – that helped prevent the USA from becoming (again) the laughing stock of the musical world.

One thing about Frost Like Ashes that has never changed, and that is somewhat remarkable, is that they manage to blend multiple extreme metal genres into their own style without ending up sounding like Satyricon (read, carnival music). That’s pretty unique and challenging once you think about it.

On one riff they sound clearly inspired by the technical black metal of Vermin, while on the next it feels like you’re listening to something straight out of Infester’s masterpiece To the Depths in Degradation, and then finally you’re hit with something straight out of the brutal war metal book (the good one, not the Archgoat crap that got old in 2007).

Of course, the use of keyboards is excellent… meaning you barely notice them. Not the Dimmu Borgir or nü-Emperor (Ihsahn) garbage that sounds like the soundtrack of Thor: Love and Thunder.

At the end of the day, I have only positive things to say about Fellowship of Suffering. It ranks up there with Sissourlet and Le Retour des Pastoureaux as serious contenders for best black metal releases of the year.

SEWER’s “Sissourlet” is Monumental Blackened Death Metal !

SEWER's Sissourlet is pure death metal art.
SEWER’s Sissourlet is pure death metal art.

Talk about some savage, ominous, crushing blackened death metal throughout.

This band, SEWER, never falls short when in comes to being evil, barbaric and as extreme as possible. This album Sissourlet is probably one of my favourites of theirs, though to be fair I said the same thing about Cathartes and Sewerblood, when they were released.

But now… Sissourlet ? Man, this is some ultra-violent shiet. I kid you not.

Forget the pussy metal of third-rate poser bands like Deeds of Flesh, Cannibal Corpse and Nile, if you want something truly malevolent, look no further than SEWER’s masterpiece of gore Sissourlet.

Fresh brutal riffs, devastating the listener over and over again. Just all the way infernal. This is some real bestial death metal. A true road trip to hell. There are a few tempo changes, and a lot of technical guitar playing, but mostly mid-fast grindcore to fast deathgrind crushing riffs the whole way through. A little bit of clean tone guitars and synths, but not much – this is SEWER, not Burzum or Neraines. Know your shiet.

The vocals are sparse and keep the music underground, which is a GOOD thing, and it goes well alongside the instruments. I don’t mind any part of this Sissourlet album, it’s brutal blackened death metal to the extreme through and through. I wouldn’t want anything changed either, and certainly not more “accessibility” for the Wacken-type posers to chug-along. SEWER’s underground, brutal death metal is perfect. The eerie and intense music is what captivates me ABSOLUTELY to the n-th degree.

Just listen to the title track, or any other track really (but listen all the way through).

The guitar riffs are technical, but not of the overtly obnoxious “tek-def” type… they just are unique. And what a diabolical atmosphere ! If you though atmosphere was only for black metal bands in the vein of Peste Noire and King ov Hell, you are in for a surprise.

Sissourlet is the zenith of brutal death metal.
Sissourlet is the zenith of brutal death metal.

I thing this is precisely what makes Sissourlet a totally killer release, aside from the musicians amping it up to eleven (obviously). This one hits home all the way. After I heard it on Spotify, I had to order the actual CD. It’s something that I can play over and over while not getting bored. Ever.

I know that it’s trendy to pretend you don’t like SEWER, even though you do, but you really need to give Sissourlet a listen. Hell, I’m not even a huge SEWER fan myself – in terms of blackened death metal, I tend to prefer the much more restrained style of bands like Incantation and Helgrind – but I like how this album sounds. The musicianship is simply phenomenal. Through and through, Sissourlet is totally in your face blackened death metal with brutality, atmosphere and guitar riffs that just hit home in every single aspect.

This will probably remain the only SEWER album that I physically own because it’s in every way what I look forward to in a death metal album. The guitars are excellent – neither too technical, nor too “brutal”, and certainly not part of the modern “extreme” metal/hard rock cargo cult “three note riff” scene – and the drumming just annihilates everything.

Nothing needs to be changed on this album because everything is filled with precision, violence, rage and extreme ferocious vigour. Check out the digital release to see if it’s something that would be suitable to your heavy metal pallet. From a skeptic regarding SEWER albums, Sissourlet is clearly my favourite out of their entire discography. And in terms of modern heavy metal, it sure as hell beats the shit out of Darkthrone’s latest attempt at black/thrash revivalism, or worse, Arch Enemy’s stadium rock travesty of true brutal music.

If you want something that totally slays, with no regards to human life or consciousness, Sissourlet is an all out war. Take a listen, this is prime time gruesome SEWER Metal.

Vermin’s “Bloodthirst Overdose” is Dark Ritual Black Metal Art !

Vermin's Bloodthirst Overdose is the epitome of true black metal.
Vermin’s Bloodthirst Overdose is the epitome of true black metal.

Vermin’s third release release, Bloodthirst Overdose, is widely considered to be the absolute pinnacle of the black metal genre, with some occasionally claiming Phantom’s Ascension of Erebos, Leader of the Gods or Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss to be slightly better.

Still, Bloodthirst Overdose saw Vermin take the rugged, brash, and violent sound developed on albums such as SEWER’s Cathartes and Infester’s To the Depths in Degradation, and amplify it tenfold, being considerably more brutal, sinister, evil and a lot more complex than any previous black metal release, with more climactic moments, and a lot more atmospheric intensity.

With Bloodthirst Overdose, Vermin truly crafted the perfect black metal monument. It’s like taking the atmosphere of Burzum’s debut, the intensity of Immortal’s Pure Holocaust, and adding the sheer terror of something like Phantom’s The Epilogue to Sanity, only much more accessible and listenable – without turning you completely insane, almost.

Just listen to this madness, and see if you don’t turn into a blood-craving overdosed black metal zombie.

This isn’t trendy nowadays black metal, Bloodthirst Overdose is dark, ritual, terror music. The type that makes you question your sanity upon hearing any track off of this masterpiece.

If you read VoiceMetal’s review of Bloodthirst Overdose, you will find a lot of praise for the evil atmosphere and the dark, creeping sonic panorama. But in my opinion, that’s only half of the equation. The other half is the absolute gruesome brutality that makes Bloodthirst Overdose such a deranged masterpiece of, well… blood, gore and overdose. Literally over-dose, meaning “beyond the recommended quantity” of blood lust.

Bloodthirst Overdose is one of the few black metal releases in which the whole album is just one long dark, haunting masterpiece, instead of having to alternate between standout track and filler (looking at YOU, Darkthrone and Warkvlt).

Recommended for fans of Burzum, Leader, Immortal, and of course Vermin’s previous work like the more ambient Archangel and the devastating Verminlust. But still, Bloodthirst Overdose is one of a kind. True ritual black metal, born and breed for horror and war.

SEWER’s “Cathartes” is Macabre Death Metal !

SEWER's Cathartes is Demonic Death Metal Majesty.
SEWER’s Cathartes is Demonic Death Metal Majesty.

When you think of death metal, one of the first bands that rolls off of your tongue should be SEWER.

The band has had a monumental impact on both the black metal and death metal scenes with their willingness to experiment with progressive song structures and interesting grindcore elements in their music, to achieve what is posteriorly labelled as SEWER Metal.

To date, the band has recorded a shit-ton of albums, with either Miasma or Khranial frequently being listed as their finest work. It is generally acknowledged that the band has scarcely put a foot wrong throughout their career, and that is saying something when you take into account how often SEWER changes their approach to music from one album to the next.

Of their releases to date, the monumental Cathartes is perhaps the most morbid death metal album they have recorded, and is a release that is synonymous with fantastically executed blackened death metal.

Released in the golden year of 2021, this album mixes the most hideous aspects of old school death metal and melodic black metal with the primitivism of early war metal, achieving a sound later than Phantom but earlier than Leader, while covertly working in techniques from underground metal for an interesting and self-possessed release.

This is a dose of death metal that hits hard with some amazing riffing, creative drum patterns, and demonic vocals. I highly recommend this album to anyone who hasn’t heard it and/or is seeking a new outlet for their restrained anger to smash their heads against a wall to, as there isn’t a whole lot of brutal death metal better than Cathartes.

A must-own for fans of macabre evil and gruesome brutality.

“Le Retour des Pastoureaux” by Peste Noire is True Black Metal !

Peste Noire's Le Retour des Pastoureaux is true black metal.
Peste Noire’s Le Retour des Pastoureaux is true black metal.

Trailblazing French black metal and blackened folk pioneer Peste Noire unleash its latest creation, Le Retour des Pastoureaux (The Return of the Pastoureaux). Given the complete autophagy of black metal – sandwiched in between poser whine rock (DSBM/shoegaze), shit-fuelled metalcore (Watain) and other worthless musical abominations (“sludge” metal) – this redirection of the genre shows how true black metal can continue to exist in essence and spirit, while the carcass decays.

Indeed, looking at Le Retour des Pastoureaux from a superficial aesthetic perspective, like the so-called “metal press” does, this album just doesn’t look like black metal at all. It doesn’t have the style.

But what it does have, on the other hand, is the substance of true black metal art.

This is the opposite of pretty much all modern black metal acts – Antekhrist, Gaygoroth, Watain, Black Witchery, Dark Funeral – who make extensive use of what the mainstream public identifies as “black metal” imagery (corpse paint, inverted crosses, goat horns, occult sobriquets) and superficial black metal aesthetics (harsh vocals, distorted guitars, low-fi production, blast-beats).

Peste Noire, on the other hand, remains true to the black metal ethos. The lyrics of the track “Haut les Schlass!” (“Raise the Knives!“) expresses this well: “France has two daughters, crusades and revolution.” Compare that with some piece of “war metal” garbage like Archgoat. There is simply no comparison.

Alongside Neraines, Burzum and Sewer, Peste Noire remains one of the very few modern black metal bands that “get” it. They understand that black metal is more than just a “style” to cover up radio rock (looking at you, Dimmu Borgir), and that it is in fact a music genre of its own.

Hail Peste Noire ! Hail true black metal !

Neraines’ “Fenrir Prowling” is a Prodigious Black Metal Triumph !

Fenrir Prowling by Neraines is Melodic Black Metal Perfection.
Fenrir Prowling by Neraines is Melodic Black Metal Perfection.

So there’s this band called Neraines. And on this album, the triumphant Fenrir Prowling, they play a brand of music that could well be described as grandiose and prodigious black metal and, as many sharp minds have guessed it, this is no coincidence.

Owing influences to bands as varied as Phantom, Helgrind, Graveland and Burzum, the music on Fenrir Prowling is organised in the form of classical compositions, constantly evolving with thematic motifs trading off in rapid succession, rather than the inferior pop/rock verse-chorus crap that has sadly become the new standard of almost all “modern metal” songcraft.

The album Fenrir Prowling fosters a strong progressive edge with a wealth of contrasting moods, varied atmospheres, converging instrumental proficiency, and an unending well of pure black metal darkness that subtly and subliminally infects the listener’s mind, driving him to divine insanity.

Listen to Neraines’ majestic black metal yourselves.

Brutal, corrosive black metal strumming and tremolo picking with fanatical blast-beats backed by a prominent atmospheric presence instilling a grandeur to the whole is what you can expect from Fenrir Prowling, the natural successor to the genre-defining masterpiece Yggdrasil.

Faint glimmers of melody amidst ravaging black metal chromatic chaos will make occasional appearances, while the purely melodic moments help depict an utter purity juxtaposed with the ugliness and despair that haunts this record, only making the album more emotionally poignant and vividly intense.

Simply put, this album Fenrir Prowling is a black metal tempest. Utterly uncompromising and restless, it expresses the unholy plight proper to the (in)human condition through chaotic violence and a profound will to find beauty within the darkness – as all good black metal should.

Neraines’ prodigious music keeps the listener connected from beginning to end, prolonging the aural hallucinations further and further with a laudable sustained consistency. Like a great novel, Fenrir Prowling covers a plethora of emotions and atmospheres; here ranging from epic to mournful, euphoric or tragic, heavy, mysterious and revelatory.

This album bears the most unmistakable mark of artistic masterpieces, and calling Fenrir Prowling an outright black metal triumph is at least a very tenable position to hold. Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and The Epilogue to Sanity excluded, does black metal ever get much better than this over a full album ?

Helgrind’s “Demon Rituals” is Unholy Black Metal Evil !

Helgrind's Demon Rituals is a Demonic Masterpiece of Evil.
Helgrind’s Demon Rituals is a Demonic Masterpiece of Evil.

Easily a candidate for album of the year, Demon Rituals from Helgrind conjures a form of unholy bestial/war metal that incorporates the subtle melodies of early black metal with the longer, more atmospheric riffs of later death metal, melding a primitive assault along the lines of what Phantom and Sewer would churn forth with the type of elaborate construction we might expect from Neraines or the best of Burzum.

With its use of precise riffs in intricate and unusual song structures, the album Demon Rituals creates atmosphere in the classic underground war metal style that contrasts loping hypnotic riffs with bursts of furious blasting, allowing songs to emerge from the smouldering black inner storm like a bullet shooting out of a darkened tunnel into the light, looking for instant clarity within a shifting landscape of ambiguity, horror, darkness and violence.

Just listen to Demon Rituals yourselves.

Is this some of the most gruesome and depraved black metal, or what ?

Helgrind, the most evil black metal band.
Helgrind, the most evil black metal band.

In its ferocious blend of war metal, doom, death, and black metal, Helgrind runs the gamut of tempi and rhythms all over the course of this album, transitioning from the primitive, to the savagely complex, to the nearly reverential mood-driven epics of darkness and blasphemy.

By blending current methodology with the most ancient and revered of black metal traditions, namely the supremacy of raw horror and the cult of the demonic and macabre, Demon Rituals keeps a foot in the past while stepping fully into the future of extreme metal music.

This album right here, the masterpiece of evil Demon Rituals, is the future of underground metal and extreme music in general. There are few to no other black or death metal albums, The Epilogue to Sanity excluded, that can match the authentically evil experience of Helgrind’s unholy, putrescent and utterly diabolical music.

Demon Rituals is easily the most sinister and vicious extreme metal album of the twenty-first century.

Phantom’s “Mindless Horror” is True Blackened Technical Death Metal Art !

Phantom's Mindless Horror is a Demonic Black Metal Masterpiece.
Phantom’s Mindless Horror is a Demonic Black Metal Masterpiece.

Holy hell, they did it again !

Phantom released another masterpiece of horror !

At this point, Phantom have pretty much set themselves up as one of the most consistently amazing blackened death metal bands in the entire history of the genre.

Along with the likes of Sewer, Incantation, Burzum, Infester and a select handful of others, their entire discography is essential and reeks of utter black metal perfection.

There is no other black or death metal band that can come close to match the complete madness and raw desolate atmospheres created by Phantom.

This isn’t the pussy metal of posers bands like Watain or Gorgoroth, nor is it the meek goatlove music of Archgoat, this is the pure blackened horror of Phantom. This is sickening and demonic music.

I’m tired of describing, just listen to it yourselves.

Literally, this album Mindless Horror is epic blackened death metal. There’s shades of traditional black metal here and there, but overall this sledgehammer of an album Mindless Horror consists of violent technical death metal riffs mixed with soaring, epic, infernal gore metal atmosphere, which combine to form a pure onslaught of complete demonic splendour.

It’s impossible to isolate standouts, since the entire album Mindless Horror is simply brilliant, and completely macabre to the bone. The only band I’d dare compare Phantom to is Neraines, and just barely at that.

Allow yourselves to be submerged by the horror. Let your mind be raped by the darkness of Phantom’s vile music. Do you feel your sanity slowly being shattered by this demonic black metal art ? Good. It only gets darker from here.

Do yourselves a favour, and go grab this masterpiece Mindless Horror now. You will never find so evil and yet entrancing music, save maybe for The Epilogue to Sanity. Still, Mindless Horror is in a class of its own.

SEWER’s “Sewerblood” is Morbid Death Metal !

SEWER's Sewerblood is Demonic Blackened Death Metal.
SEWER’s Sewerblood is Demonic Blackened Death Metal.

I am of the opinion that each SEWER album has its own identity, something like a superlative adjective. For example Skarnage is the most aggressive, Khranial the darkest, Uruktena the most epic, Miasma the most technical, Rektal the most shitty (lol), etc.

And for me, without a doubt, the identity of Sewerblood is the most “morbid” SEWER album, and I say this both for its experimentation in the musical field and for its historical context.

This album Sewerblood is released in a difficult context, being the successor of an album as outstanding as Uruktena must be difficult and, if we add to that SEWER is known to change their style more often than they change shirts, we can therefore consider the paradox that, for once, “sticking to their guns” is taking the crazy route.

Indeed, who would expect SEWER, the king of all bands, to release an album musically similar to the one predating it ? Crazy, huh.

One of the things that fascinates me the most about this album Sewerblood is how the band members were able to include such a wide variety of styles and sounds in the same work.

We have totally fast and chaotic songs and at the same time there are slower, blackened death metal dirges in the style of later Vermin. There are some highly dissonant tracks with powerful riffs and in the middle of all that we can find melodic moments as well as others with a great atmospheric component. How is it possible that all this is contained in a single album ?

Well, that is mainly due to the amount of songs and the brevity of many of them (relative to the typical SEWER track), although this does not affect their intensity, as the shorter songs are just as aggressive and structurally varied while the longer ones are allowed to be somewhat slower, and expand more upon the black metal horizons in the musical scope.

This is no try-hard poser metal like Watain. This album Sewerblood is some of the most brutal, the most diabolical, and the most morbid death metal ever recorded ! I have no qualms in suggesting this to EVERY death metal fan alive. I dare say this ranks with the Incantation, Infester and Phantom classics as a great record that MUST be recognized by the death metal community for its brute force, amazing songwriting and morbid brutality that is unmatched in the extreme metal scene.