A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Grade Scale adopted at MetalKings.com (starting from the lowest)

1 - Shite
2 - Could be worse
3 - Could be better
4 - Damn good
5 - Killer

2/5
ACHERON
Tribute to the Devil's Music
2003
Black Lotus Records / CD-Maximum
death metal

Hmm Strange, I thought that Rev. Vincent Crowley, has disbanded his satanic formation for quite some time now, but no - he is still alive and positively kicking with livelihood and creative ambitions. The latter though still remains a mystery for creativity has not been released on Acheron's latest - "Tribute to the Devil's Music" - which, is rather a compilation of Monsegnior Crowly's favorite 80ies metal covers. Despite this rather promising beginning the reality is much duller and gloomier than one could have imagined. I mean, the spoken intro before the opening "Black Sabbath" by guess-who? - sound unconvincing and tasteless enough to have been extracted from a low-quality Hollywood flick about Satanists. The song itself does not provide much inspiration either, not coming even close to Type O' Negative's version of it, which was featured on the first "Nativity in Black" compilation. As a result the only two more or less successful tracks on the CD are Death's "Evil Dead" and Kreator's "Flag of Hate", with the rest of the CD being dull and boring, as only dull and boring can get. Moreover, I am still on the opinion that playing and 80ies metal cover does not require you to sound like you recorded 20-something years ago. (Troll)

4/5
AJATTARA
Kuolema
2003
Spinefarm/FONO
black metal
Evil primal endless and all-devouring the evil, aimed against the very essence of life on this Earth the evil, whose only purpose is in the unaccounted desire to kill. Follish is he who paints death as a scraggy and weak old woman with a dull and rusty scythe, for he knows not the powers she commands. She dwelled on the planet since the very day when the first life form was born. She killed it and pronounced herself the queen of the universe. Anything can a human overcome: demons and gods, humans and beasts, - anything but her. It is she, who imposes the ultimate fear upon him, the fear that drives him blind and crazy, frantically gripping at each tiny straw that would hold him away from her eternal embrace. She rules this world that has no other kings or gods. These were the encouraging thoughts that came to me weary trollish head, after listening to the latest effort of Pasi Koskinen's side-project Ajattara, which came out under the sounding Finnish title of "Kuolema" (death). Emotions aside, the new work, being quite a logical and expected progression of the debut "Itse" album, is characteristic of a more traditional Amorphisian melodism, with richer arrangements and a thicker and volumetric sound. Let this not disguise you, however, the new Ajattara is no less evil or ruthless. The evil is still there, it has simply become bigger, wickeder and meaner. (Troll)

5-/5
ARIA
Kreshchenije Ognem (Baptized by Fire)
2003
Misteria Zvuka
Heavy metal
I made it a point to keep the Russian version of this one within 1,000 chars for otherwise my verbiage would of occupied more than one tome of bible-like thickness, so
1. Aria is the first and so far the only Russian band, who has managed to take upon the thematic of ancient Russia without falling into platitude or downright nationalism. The word "patriot" when pronounced by this band sounds natural and doesn't cause any side-associations. For all of the "Butterfly Temples" and "Hvangurs" out there.
2. The mixing of "Coliseum" sounds better than the rest of the record.
3. Berkut, and with him Mers. Popov and Udalov have successfully passed the test, and although Berkut can hardly climb "as high" as Kipelov does, he nonetheless has perfectly suited the band's style.
4. Although Kholstinin and Dubinin still have a soft spot for Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy, the "citing" has ceased to be a mental case, and would at times smell of self-irony (He who's heard "White Flag" will understanmd).
5. Kipelov now simply has no right for a weak or a pass album.
(Troll)

5+/5
ASGAARD
Ad Sidera, Ad Infinitum
2003
Metal Mind Productions / CD-Maximum
Sympho Black Metal/Gothic Metal
"The glamour of a thousand swords as the star fire burns" Bal Sagoth said once, well it is not exactly a thousand swords we are talking about here, but the eye of the beholder probing through the pages of the inlay will find a good seven of them. The only question that I had when I stared at the black leathered human panorama adoring the booklet was why is it that there're only seven of you guys? I mean take the synthesizers for instance - this is an instrument that requires at least five pairs of hands taking care of it. Or drums! Or guitars! Irony aside though, the work is quite impressive, and in order to provide for a result like that I would have been ready to summon a whole herd of prospectors into the great city of Asgaard, provided they all fit into one studio. The greater part of the riffs is more in the vein of Gothic and Power - at least sound-wise, and well, the structure itself is not that black either. The drumwork is pretty blackish, while the keyboards deliver an epic, majestic and intricate melody with a good deal of classic influence. The vocal parts vary from harsh roars, to deep baritone, and to ear-cutting shrieks. All of the above comes in predominantly mid-tempo, is utterly melodic, and the songs themselves are pretty precieux. To draw the line under this: the best thing about Asgaard is that I really cannot compare them to anyone. The world created by the band has nothing to do with CoF, Dimmu, Emperor, Borknagar or any other act in the field. My wildly drooling admirations! My poor walls! (St. Ded)

4/5
BATTAGIA
Hell Just Froze Over
2003
CRM Records
gutter glam rock

Why issue one long a album in two-three years, when you can plaster several short ones but each year? I do not know whether such an approach could be considered right, but this apparently is the logic behind the album-release concept of this Finnish combo, whose debuting CD we reviewed just some 6 months ago. The continuation came in the form of four new songs with over 20 minutes of playing time and under the title of "Hell Just Froze Over". In principle I did not find any dramatic difference between the two releases, which, I am positive, is a good thing. The same ole' trashing gutter rock with a considerable deal of W.A.S.P., especially in the opening "Burning the Skies" - a dream-come-true for any nostalgia-ridden rocker (the first four of whom are Battagia themselves). In all, an excellent product, but I'd kinda expect to hear full-time release next time. (Troll)

5/5
BOB CATLEY
When Empires Burns
2003
Frontiers Records / CD-Maximum
hard rock
"Starring in Lord of the Rings yet?" - Bob Catley's friends may have easily started joking at him recently. The point is that Bob - the charismatic frontman of Magnum and one of Britain's best rock-singers - has fallen into the mistake of singing the part of the "Tree of Knowledge" in the second part of the much-spoken-about Sammet's "Avantasia". This is already the fourth album solo effort put out by Bob and probably the best one. I mean the songs are truly amazing. "When Empire Burns" spins off with a two-minute intro, which seems to be preparing the listener for a musical hurricane that will swarm his head within the next 60 minutes. If hurricanes were named after people - one of them would have certainly been named after Catley. Take "Children of the Night", "Meaning of Love" or the title-track "When Empire Burns" all of them are 100% hits. This is one of the rare cases when we deal with an integrate work of truly excellent quality. Undoubtedly the album would have impossible without the assistance of Paul Hodson - Bob's friend from a long time ago, his keyboard player, tour manager, as well as excellent producer and song-writer. In all - I sincerely recommend "When Empire Burns" to all Magnum fans as well as everyone else who values good music. (Debbie Bo

5-/5
CULT OF LUNA
The Beyond
2003
Earache/Soyuz Music
Angry Metal/Psychodelic Rock
The creative thinking of these lunar sectarians has really gone on a very curious path. With my hand on the liver, I can say it with all honesty that I have never before heard anything like these melodic Panterish metal forms. The firs thing that rushes through your ears on this one is the psycho-depressive sound and the neurasthenic shriek-o-yells, but soon to your utter surprise (which is inevitable if you have any experience in listening to the bands of this ilk) you come to the understanding that the madness and mayhem, which at first sight looked overwhelming, hardly occupy a half of the CD. The guitar sound comes very short of nagging and can easily be referred to as inert and slowed down. The vocals are often muted and pushed backwards by the rest of the instruments - making the sound-engineering play a very important part in the compositional structure and presentation. And indeed does it play rolling back and forth between the harshness and meditativeness. Another interesting part is the is the selective use of synthesizers which are mainly applied as an FX-tool as opposed to being a separate instrument. The music material itself comes in the form of a Gestalt - becoming brighter and harsher as the sound grows louder, and, on the contrary, losing some of the by-standing nuances as everything quiets down. In addition to that the record boasts a great deal of cyclic trance-like inserts with broken beats contrasting admirably well with the overall melodic line of the songs which create out-of-reality, dreamlike, but yet emotionless visions. (St. Ded)

4/5
DAS ICH
Anti'christ
2002
Massacre Records /Art-Music
gothic
I say I will build this review under the sign of the classic postulates of the immortal Anectdote: the news (if we forget that the album has been out for nearly a year now) comes in two antagonistic portions - the usual good and bad. The good news is that the recording is really flawless, with the material being well-processed and compositionally detailed. Aside from the percussion, all other instruments are waves of electronic in which the musicians splash as if trouts or something. The sound and FX bank is abundant and - what is more important - Bruno Kramm and Stefan Ackermann do know how to operate it with grace and dignity. The music is calm and melodic but has a beat to it. The bad new however is that there's nothing new about any of this. And although I haven't really noticed any "direct quotes" I can still hear parts that sound like Rammstein, Depeche Mode, and early Modern Talking. At that, while the creative destination of the above-mentioned acts on this album is well pronounced and explained, then Das Ich itself remains in the shadows. (St. Ded)

5/5
DEFILED
Divination
2003
Season of Mist/CD-Maximum
techno death
Finally! Finally we have a band that can indeed righteously claim the title of the successor of the likes of Atheist and Cynic. Moreover, not only being the successors, who'd simply copy the work of their tutors, Defiled have truly evolved the genre making it even more complex and interesting. Mixing techno-death with techno-grind, the band has presented an album, which despite all the technical subtleties and in-outs, would still sound quite melodic, and as a consequence can be perceived by an unprepared listener with a lot more ease. Add this up to the - obviously - flawless instrumental techniques, a magnificent vocal which reminds of a cross between early Shuldiner and Benton, and entire absence of the boredom, which often becomes an indispensable "asset" of other bands playing in the genre. In all - an undoubted fiver. (Troll)

5/5
ELEND
Winds Devouring Men
2003
Prophecy Productions / CD-Maximum
grandiose orchestral operatic fatalism.

The sound on this album is Gargantuanly dimensional, giving the listener an impression of human insignificance in the abyss of creation, decoloring the everyday values and annulling the ratio with universal scapes, the magnificence of the abysm and the dramatism of ens. Seriously raping the listeners' psyche like that should be made illegal. The deep-water orchestral tides and nihilistic electronic FX monotonously transform, merge, disappear and then all of a sudden blast in a thunderous roar. The emotional effect among other things is reached through repetitions of certain sounds and sections, which however - given the overall complexity of the material itself - in no way diminishes its creative aspect or aesthetic taste. The vocal parts are presented with a female choir and a pessimistic male baritone on the lead. And well, aside from being strangely gliding, this music has the power to bring a man to GodMorpheus that is (St. Ded

4+/5
THE ELYSIAN FIELDS
12 Ablaze
2003
Black Lotus Records / CD-Maximum
melody-oriented black/thrash + gothic rock & symphonics

They say they have everything in Greece - they even have a Rotting Christ - therefore there is nothing surprising in the fact that this CD filled with black but still very noble metal came to us from these holy plains that were once walked and trotted by endless herds of Zeuses, Apollos and other Typhons. I would not go as far as to accuse this work of being a masterpiece but it is still quite original in its own niche. And although these guys may have not reached any tremendous success in the mining of musical fields, but then again the direction that the boys chose for their music does not require that: the material is pretty interesting and variable and that's the main thing. I would especially like to mention the sound engineering, thanks to which the voice of the album has acquired additional freshness and distinctness. The even split of the more melodic lines and the balanced black-metal riffing make the major part of the album's guitar parts, although swift and intensive six-stringing blitzkriegs are not that rare either. The keyboards are also taking a lot of initiative with their lively presence appearing in almost every episode. The vocals are pretty standard for black metal, while the drumwork is accurately following the line of rhythm and the general mood of each song. Probably a bit too fashion-oriented "12 Ablaze" is still quite a professional and pretty independent work of music. If parallels are necessary, I'd somehow say Menhir and Kalmah.. (St. Ded)

5/5
EVEREVE
Enetics (11 orgies of massenjoyment of the dark side of the planet)
2003
Massacre Records /Art-Music
industrialized gothic rock
This is probably the first release in this genre, about which I could frankly say that I honestly and entirely enjoyed it. A beautiful combination of truly heavy guitars and the traditional gothic-rock melodism, a high-quality and - more importantly - original vocal line, plus elements of new wave in the vein of Depeche Mode, which are magnificently blended into the overall music-canvas, and last but not least - the most important success factor - individuality, which instantly sets Evereve outside the multitude of similes. I knd of doubt that I could come up with some downright best song assignment, for the whole CD has turned out to be pretty integrate and indiscerptible, but if I really must I'd say the very first track which is "This Heart" probably deserves the prize more than the rest. (Troll)

5/5
FOR MY PAIN
Fallen
2003
Spinefarm/FONO
gothic rock
Hardly had I opened the CD inlay, when I saw the all-too-familiar phiz - yessir, Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) in person, and no mistake. I see some sort of a tendency among the Finnish musicians to forms all sorts of thinkable and unthinkable projects and invite this great lad and above all excellent keyboardist in each of them as a mascot. Moreover - it bloody works! I honestly do not know what's wrong with this small Northern European country but talented bands appear there as if mushrooms after the rain, and mind you, all of them play with class. This one as well was consumed in the heads of Altti Vetelainen and Petri Sankala of Eternal Tears of Sorrow already back in 1999, but due to a number of reasons, they never had enough time for it. Now they finally found a spare minute in their busy schedule and - voila - here comes the debut record. Largely the success of the album was predetermined by a lucky vocalist choice which fell upon the head of Juha Kylmanen of Reflection. A proprietor of a low, deep, and very pronounced voice he - as no one else - managed to transprose the sad motives of the band's lyrics. Eternal sadness coupled with nearly unprecedented melodic lines - this combination will surely leave no dark heart unmoved. (Debbie Boink)

3-/5
HATESPHERE
Bloodred Hatred
2002
Scarlet Records / CD-Maximum
NWOSFMTM

Ever hear about the style which the modern-day metal community normally refers to as the New Wave of Swedish Fast Melodic Thrash Metal? Excellent! In this case I do not have to tell you that it is fast, winding, crazed with its own aggression and fatalism, that the guitar riffing is ultra fast and somewhat melodic (which adds the whole picture with a new color), that these riffs are recorded with a kind-of industrialized gimmick, that the drum parts are swift and energetic like the famous Grimm Brothers runner who had his leg chained to a cannonball and was then set free, finally that the vocals here are more of a wild roar - a mixture of desperation and utter hatred. What I do have to tell you is that Hatesphere are nothing more than another set of talentless copycats who are busting their collective arse in a useless attempt to reach the true colossuses of the genre, whose name is famous enough for me not to mention it once again. I somehow also have no intention to mention the fact that Peter Lyse Hansen and company did press the keyboards twice and three times used the classic death-metal roar on this record, for I really don't see the point. Even more so, considering the fact that the lead singer Jacob Bredahl is really-really nothing special with his crazed-ass shrieks. To do them justice, ironically listening to Hatesphere is really not that bad, especially if you don't do that too often. (St.Ded)

4/5
HELHEIM
Yersinia Pestis
2003
Massacre Records /Art-Music
Viking Metal
A cousin of Norwegian black metal school - Viking Metal, noticing all of the changes that its distant relative has undergone over the past couple of years, could have not but mutate as well, if for nothing else, than simply out of solidarity. First Enslaved shifted to a more progressive style, then Thyrfing spiced their traditional Nordic brutality with a touch of melodism, and Helheim, apparently having no better ideas, have decided to impose some radical changes upon the sound-scape. That is I do not really expect you to find any serious differences between the band's previous release and this one musically, but the sound Having generally moved to a more industrialesque sonic appearance, the quintet had the guts to mix that with some pretty hard-rockish soloing, a certain deal of dimmu-borgirance in the harmonies, and Thor only knows what else. As a result we get a very distinguished and nice record, listening to which will prove a lot of fun both during the 1st, 10th, and 666th spin. (Troll)

5+/5...
HORTUS ANIMAE
Waltzing Mephisto
2003
Black Lotus Records / CD-Maximum
Melodic Black
The incline towards conciseness and individuality, of course when it's not affected or groundless, would practically always be punished with the flamboyance and juiciness of the result. Each instrumental part on the "Waltzing Mephisto" is not simply a component of the style and sound concept but rather a projection of ideas and ambitions of the musicians, which put together would form an ultramundanely intricate and conceptually sophisticated scape, that could be without a shadow of hesitation be nominated for the nomination of the black metal album of the year. Aside from the kaleidoscopic externalization of everything that black metal has been accumulating over the years, this work is overflowing with an abundance of waif influences from the neighboring (and not only neighboring) genres: Rock, Waltz, Classic, etc. The non-trivial instruments used for sound-extraction include strings and cellos. Plus many-faced synthesizer pockets, moments of Death-like growls, and a one-time case of clean male vocals. Finally the most important feature of any true masterpiece - nothing on this album is redundant or excessive! As an illustration of the above take the only song on "WM" which has some borrowed elements from other bands, that is a collage of "Freezing Moon" (Mayhem), "Terzo Incontro" (Il Balleto Di Bronzo) and "Tubular Bells" (Mike Oldfield)... And as a closing: with all its charm and lyrical melodism, the record is still quite harsh with frequent spiteful passages that gleam with true fury. Looks like it's time for me to visit the nearest anatomical theater ad get a container of amputated hands - this one deserves an applause. . (St.Ded)

5-/5
IMPIOUS
The Killer
2002
Hammerheart Records/FONO
New wave of upbeat thrash
When I finally understood that despite their genre association ("no it is you, the reporters and reviewers, who are trying to put us into the frame of some stylistic limitations, and we just do the music that we like, and don't look at the rest. Moreover we don't even know who is popular these days - the last CD I bought - and it was 2 years ago was Black Sabbath's " (c) every second (or possibly every first) musician around) these guys have not become another crooked mirror of Mr. Jensen and friends, I nearly lost my ability to speak: "Ye Gods! - said I - thank you for not having let the crowd of little thrashers dump this fine genre in the cow-tracks on the road!". So the album, folks, - fast, aggressive, and very technical in pretty much every song. A lot of effort has been put into the rhythm which are permanently shifting and undergoing other ear-pleasing changes. Moreover, the overall musical structures reflect a pretty big talent of those who erected them. There is also a bunch of good guitar solos which would gleam upon the barrels and blades sticking out of each song. (St.Ded)

5/5
MECHANICAL POET
Handmade Essence
2003
Promo
sympho-prog
Man do I love listening to the promos of unknown bands, especially when those are Russian demos, for it truly expands one's mind. However the white round piece of a CD which has recently got into my hand really surprised me with its pithiness - the name of the band and that's it. No track-title, no names of band-member, no country of origin, nothing. All of this could have remain a dark secret to me, but alas a couple of days later I received an email with full detail on the record. To my greatest shame I must admit that the names of the drummer and the guitarist/bassist/keyboardist really told me nothing, but the name of the singer I had to read several times before I was sure there was no mistake - Max Samosvat. Indeed, as it has turned out Mechanical Poet has recruited the voice of the not-so-unknown Epidemia, the band, which I shelved straight after seeing them live for the first and hopefully for the last time. Max's singing in Epidemia was something, which many people refer to as "like jerking off with a cheese-slicer - slightly amusing but mostly painful." The truly amusing part is hearing the dude sing on this record, which has really allowed him to fully open his vocal talent and righteously claim the title of one of the best singers in the Russian scene. As for the musical material - the mysterious Lex Plotnikoff and Tom Tokmakoff really made one hell of a job. The diversity here goes from the catchy oriental passages in the "Frozen Nile" to the angry chants of "Clockwork Shrimps". Ironically the often dull symphonism sounds quite natural and fitting on this CD - well-timed, gleaming passages, which create an atmosphere of the world beyond imagination. (Debbie Boink)

5/5
MY DARKEST HATE
To Whom It May Concern
2003
Massacre Records /Art-Music
death metal
This is how Carcass should have sounded hadn't they shifted towards a more classic rock'n'roll and then broken up altogether. Although, I mean if you listen really carefully, My Darkest hate also has some boogie to it, tyou just have to look for it very carefully. So what do we have here? First of, a thick layer of guitar phat (exactly - with PH), second, a bright feathering of pretty ciomplex soloing parts, thirdly, the ,agnificent drum-work which is done with such felegree, that you could only compare it to the high art of frying the tender golden cracknels, and finally the vocals, which are... er... uhm... Argh, who gives a fuck, it's no use trying to describe a growl that gluttural and dep on paper - go and buy this one like right now! (Troll)

4+/5
NAAMAH
Ultima Gothic
2003
Metal Mind Productions / CD-Maximum
...

Warszawa, my liebe! :) You know sometimes when a person is being bugged with some requests of financial nature and is asked whether he has some money, the answer would often be the irritated: "Do I look like I have a printing machine at home?!" Well, as it appears they do have a gothic band printing machine in Poland, and we are talking some real quality glossy paper machine too. I cannot really say what is the principal difference between Naamah and - say - Atrosis, but what is even better, aside form the sound model, the are no other similes between the two bands. The picture I as follows - the rhythmic metal beats coupled with tender acoustic ringing, the well-set clean voice of the lead songstress, and a sea of romantic (but not chokingly sweet) keyboards. Following the genre commandments the beats are not aggressive, but rather diverse and done with a lot of fantasy (I especially loved the occasional Morbid Angel-esque exercises, which, while sounding in the original closer to a tank-engine or a hi-power tractor, here sound more like the smooth running of a scooter or something like that, but are still very aesthetical). As an extra bonus the CD contains the cover of "She Is My Sin" (well everybody these days knows Nightwish, so I won't tell you who wrote this song), where the band represents its own interpretation of the hit, with a totally new vocal arrangement and everything, and well, believe it or not, it still sounds good, interesting and - yes - original. As a whole I can hardly think of anyone who would not like this album aside from probably the die-hard raw-meat fans. . (St. Ded)

4+/5
NEGURA BUNGET
'N Crugu Bradilui
2003
Code666 / CD-Maximum
ethno-mythological black metal
Hellfire, I just don't know what to do here. I can already see our editor-in-chief, his eyebrow bent grumpily, asking with approach: "Just what on earth do you think you're doing? Do you really think I hired you so that you could spend the marks on each underground act there is out there? I'm telling you, this is exactly how they start talking about some enthusiastically unparticular review-writers!" And I would stand there staring wearily at the floor and mumble something about supporting the good beginning and bringing the word of truth about the noble genres to the illiterate Russian listeners, zombified with false pop and swinish hip-hop So, sorry, but not this time, lads - I mean, seriously, you ain't gonna feed me kids, when I'm fired, are you? :) But the album is indeed very good - ancient times, nature, and mysticism are speaking through this Romanian band. The most characteristic features that have been brought by NB are grimness and naturalness. No silly melodrama or lardy-dardy. The guitar riffs and energetic drum beats, which go from paced trot to outright galloping, are uninhibited, fiery, and jolly fast. The bass line also sounds quite original. The voice package is comprised of screeches, groans, as well as clear speeches and pagan chants. The keyboards are slightly accompanying the whole ensemble, and at times would dominate the lengthy and spacious diversions - Sweet home, Transylvania. However the truth is that even the most unique concepts require a good definition. So, to close this one: get the sound-engineering right, add more color into the decorations, and my admirations will be ever-loud and endless... (St. Ded)

4+/5
NINNGHIZHIDDA
Blasphemy
2003
Displeased Records /
CD-Maximum
Sympho Black\Death

Let's get one thing clear straight away - what we have here is strictly commercially-inclined music, so if you cannot stand the likes of Cradle of Filth, Crematory, and In Flames, then this material is definitely not for you. What the Germans, with their unprecedented musicality, have always been good at is creating, probably a little too refined, but yet aesthetically flawless works. The only reason why I have not given this album the highest mark is my faith in the future of the band and the realization of the fact, that the musicians have not fully opened their potential yet. The formula behind the album is practically perfect - a face of its own, excellent creative concepts, and top-professionalism in everything (including the quality of recording which is nothing but admirable). Musically the work is based upon the perfectly balance of aggressiveness and melodism. Far-off analogies (not to be mixed with rip-offing) would include equal parts of Gehenna, Morbid Angel, Tiamat, 91-92 and Emperor-97. The black metal component of the record includes the larger part of the riffing, some of the drum-beats and the expressive, and - if you please - ragged hoarse shrieks, which looks especially well against the deep and thick growling that could be compared to that of Chris Barnes himself. This, as you understand, takes us to the death metal component which in turn includes the lion's share of beats, some of the riffs, and the guitar tuning. The keyboard performance is simply beyond any praise, and the guitar solos serve as a good addition to those. The picture is completed with occasional female vocals, which vary between something entirely operatic and simple declamation. (St.Ded)

5/5
NORDVARGR
Awafen
2003
Code666 / CD-Maximum
Dark wave/Ambient
What a wonderful noise! :) I won't be surprised if this album becomes a soundtrack to the sequel of the famous mystical-psychological thriller "Alice Through the Looking Glass-2 - Return to Castle Wolfenstein." To tell you the truth this is my first experience with such type of music - 'Awafen' literally fills the consciousness with a feeling of deepest burial under the enormous layers of ground and rock. Each quake, each sound echoes in the neighboring permafrost and created an indescribable sensation of oppression and animal-like horror: "And what if it falls????!!!!" Contemplation, its categories and logical principles would get distorted beyond any recognition: the far away voices sound as if coming from a different world, and the dim march blinking in the stuffed air comes as something totally absurd and sick. Hush - here comes some clawing in the wall, small stones crumble into dust must be a mouse well that's okay, there goes the neighborhood. Aha, and now the cyclic booms, apparently its the beat of the whole thing. Oops, it disappeared Priestly choirs - is that the vocal part? Well, why not. Yes, now I know what the miner of the times long past were feeling underground. 'Kay, nuff' said, time to get out of here. Yaiks! :) (St.Ded)

5/5
NORTHER
Mirror of Madness
2003
Spinefarm/FONO
speed-death-black
"Coom on, lads, belt it oot, git it hot, steam them oldie boneses!!!" I guess, this must have been the slogan for the creation of Norther's latest "Mirror of Madness". As soon as the first chords hit the ears, your feet would unconsciously run into the hellish jig, hands would spear upwards - fingers crooked in the "heavy metal horns", and head would go "bang-bang-bang" all by itself. Right, that's one HELL of an album! "Ahaaa - goes Norther shaking its collective finger with a wicked smile on their face - wait till we get to the real thang, we ain't even started yet!" And indeed, as you approach the end of the record you are positive that we are all going to hell for this, that Armageddon is already near, that everything is so downright bad, that it's actually pretty good, because now is when you really can get it all out with Norther and not think about the consequences, for the days of civilization are ended anyway. And let the skeptics point their accusing finger to Children of Bodom and decline Mr. Lindroos and friends the right to any originality whatsoever - Fuck it all for a lark! - says Norther, because very few others can compose such exalted hymns to the land of eternal ice and summon the devil in the lyrics with such true zest. (Debbie Boink)

4+/5
THE OLD DEAD TREE
The Nameless Disease
2003
Season of Mist/CD-Maximum
nu-rock and a trifle of black
Why not? That's quite a mix, I says. The variability of musical influences here is truly impressive. The rocking heritage comes in the ringing of juicy chords, murmuring plunking, lyrical soloing frames, dominating bass-line in the vein of Pink Floyd, unperturbed drum ticking and the genre-fitting vocals. The new metal component brought in some of the rhythmical structures, the percussion dare-devilry, and the hysterically emotional cries, with a somewhat dramatic mood. The snapping industrialized riffs form a weird mix with the black-metal guitar buzz, death-metal beats and growls, which the winds of brutality blew into the singer's ears in the process of recording. To continue on the subject of the vocals, I could not but notice the truly powerful voice of the lead singer, which especially shows in the Gothic parts and the melancholic roulade in the vein of Depeche Mode, which are strangely also there. On the whole it sounds so man good, that trying to subject the final cocktail to spectral analysis, calculate and assort its ingredients would be way too complicated and - frankly - pretty useless. I'd say this work could be recommended to those who - aside from the crunch and the beat - would also value the melody, a bit of fantasy and well, musicality, of course. The comparisons below might seem somewhat irresponsible but, it still seems necessary: cross Korn, Guano Apes, Crematory, some of the late Amorphis stuff, add some early Samael, and okay-okay, I shut up. :) (St.Ded)

5/5
OLD MAN'S CHILD
In Defiance of Existence
2003
Century Media/FONO
black metal
Why on earth would Galder wanna bother, pray tell? Eons has passed since his official transfer to the ranks of Dimmu Borgir, and had it not been for contractual obligations this latest release of Old Man's Child could have easily been unborn - so why bother? I mean they could of simply scriblled a coupla tunes and tell everyone to piss the fuck off, please. But I guess this what distinguishes a true artist from a penny-a-liner, the fact that he just cannot afford spitting like that right into the faces of his former band-mates, the numerous OMC fans, and well let's face it - his own features too. Of course skeptics are likely to say that Old Man's Child have moved towards a more commercial sound, that the influence of Dimmu Borgir in the compositions has become way too obvious, but let us forgive them this weakness. After all we can only pity them for blinded by the fold of their own stupidity they will never be able to see the devilish beauty and the infernal magnificence, which splendor through the digital tracks of "In Defiance of Existence". So let us leave the skeptics with their skepticism, and crave into the latest work of Old Man's Child and pray to Odin that it does not indeed become the last CD by this talented Norwegian act. (Troll)

5+/5
PSYPHERIA
Embrace The Mutation
2002
Heretic Sound CD-Maximum
Brutal Death/Classic/Jazz

Fuck that! Now we're talking some serious shit! This music must be listened to with your ears fucking spread-eagled! The aggression of this material is not only in the oozing spite, an extremely fast and pushy performance, but also in the fact that all of the sound segments, all of the instrumental parts are so farraginous, and - at first sight - chaotic, that you feel sort of knocked back. I don't know, it may be that in some of the episodes the technicality and complexity start dominating over the musicality, but I mean the whole kaleidoscope is so zonking and zapping, that you cannot but admire. Indeed such monstrous atrocities in metal are so rare you could count them by the fingers of one hand. To give you an approximate impression of this work, try putting together Nile-03, Gorguts-98, Cannibal Corpse-96/98, with Bach, Paganini, Wagner and jazz-like fortepiano bravadoes. Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about. The menacing guitar riffs, unchecked beats, which would go from furious hail to variable caliber cannon shelling in torn rhythms, the consequences of target-elimination, the floating melodies of solos and keyboards parts, and when finally this snake-coil of controversial feelings and marginal methods of musical expression drives out onto the drag-racing speedway, this is when you know you are in fro serious trouble. (St. Ded)

5/5
SETHIAN
Into The Silence
2003
Spinefarm/FONO
gothic-rock
'Into the Silence' is the debut album of this young and talented Finnish act. I guess a beginning like that has already stretched a couple of hundred mouths out there in a mighty yawn - "Here they go again", you say. But hey, this one will breath some life into you folks - this band consists of already quite famous and accomplished musicians. It would be enough to mention that the vocal duties are taken upon by the "troo and kvlt", the one and only Poppa Wilska - the man who has recently become the lead singer of Finntroll, and who prior to that was singing with the lovely Tarja Turunen herself in Nightwish. This, by the way, will give you an idea of how one could roar and groan in one band, and sing in an excellent clean rock voice in another. That's called professionalism, cherie. The drumwork is delivered by none other than Jukka Nevalainen (Nightwish), while the trademark keyboard were special-guested to the record by the man himself - Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish as well). Special attention shall be paid to "Dream Domain" and "Epitaph" - a pair of the few excellent tracks on "Into the Silence", both vocals- and music-wise. I wish everyone had a debut like that. (Debbie Boink)

3/5
SONATA ARCTICA
Winterheart's Guild
2003
Spinefarm/FONO
power
If they held hi-speed guitar opens in power metal I guess Sonata Arctica would certainly be one of the prize-takers. What puzzles me though, is how one can produce totally identical and - at that - dull melodies from one album to another, what puzzles me even more - is how do they manage to even make the ballads vomittingly similar. I mean if those fast and whiny thingies worked well on the debut record, then on the second one they came kinda warningly, and well now they simply cause nothing but a disappointed sigh - "oh yeah, same ole, same ole'" What is really sad is that all of these tiny vocal tricks and guitar whizzes killed the simple emotions. Music, my friends, has a soul, not everyone can feel it, but it is there. Well, with this album the only two places where you can sort of hear it are "Broken" - which features a untypical (for this band) mid-tempo beat and an original vocal line and the closing "Draw Me" - a splendid ballad which at least left some hope that on the next album is going to be a bit more diverse and well-thought. Sonata-fans only! . (Debbie Boink)

5-/5
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Order of the Tyrants - Tribute to Celtic Frost
2003
Black Lotus Records / CD-Maximum
black metal
This is already the second tribute to the legendary Swiss trio that finds its wicked path into the pits of my CD rack, and I must admit, this second one seems to be much-much better than the first, even though this first released featured such a wonderful band as Emperor. It's jus that here the track list looks better, and so does the band-roster and the sound. I mean, take for instance the 10-minute epic "Triumph of Death" superbly brought forward by Necrophagia, or the Marduk-made version of "Into the Crypts of Rays", or the crazy Bacchanalia of "Mezmerized" recorded by Britain's goat-rapists Ackerkocke. Brilliant! (Troll)

 

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