Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sviatibor Interview

I had the privilege to not only review Sviatibor's latest album, but also to talk with the man behind the project and interview him.  Typically, Temple of Darkness conducts basic email interviews but for Sviatibor, we tried something a bit different.  We had a live chat interview, giving it a very personable and face-to-face feel!

Hello, thank you for letting me interview you about your project, Sviatibor.  Where does the name Sviatibor come from?  What inspired you to choose that name for your project?

Hello Samyaza, thank you for your interest in Sviatibor!

Actually the name Sviatibor is originally from the Slavic God of the forest.  I chose this name because I wanted a name that refers to the main themes of my project: the European culture, heritage and nature.  Forests are like my sanctuary, there is no better place to make one with nature and the spirits of your land and ancestors (with the exception of mountains and ocean's quiet beaches of course)

Of course!  Obviously nature and European culture is very important to you and your music.  Are there an other inspirations you've had, musical or otherwise?

Of course, as everybody knows it, I've been very influenced by Burzum's work especially in the beginning of Sviatibor.  Now, Sviatibor has its own sound!  I'm very influenced by original soundtracks too and it's very present in my music.  People tell me that they feel like listening to the soundtrack of a movie when they listen to my albums!  My music is also influenced by Rodnoverie chants, the interlude "A Perun" is based on a chant in honor of the god Perun.

I can definitely hear all those influences within your music, that's for sure!  So you started Sviatibor back in 2013 and already have an impressive discography behind you.  Tell me how you keep your material unique and creative while releasing 3 albums in one year?

Mmh, I don't really know actually, I just need to create again and again and try new things!  Every time I'm recording an album, new and different ideas come to my mind, then I'm like "Well, this is how the next album is going to sound..." and I start to play for days with this new spirit in my music, just playing, not writing and all the riffs that have remained in my mind are the riffs I put into the songs.  I just love to try new things!

Wow, that's a very unique way to write your albums.  It seems like its been working for you though!  Your latest album just came out a few days ago.  How has the response been so far?  Have you had much feedback from your fans?

Yes!  I had a lot of very positive feedback, people like it!  Especially from the webzines that reviewed the album.  I'm delighted, I put a lot of work in this album, much more than the others.

It definitely sounds like your sound has greatly improved over your three albums and you are constantly growing!  Tell me about the recording process for this record?

I recorded everything at home with my modest equipment and some software for mixing and the drums were simply programmed on Toontrack's EZ Drummer.  I just bought a very good microphone for the vocals because I wanted them to sound very good!  It took about 1.5 months to record the entire album.

Did you have all the material written before you went in to record or did a lot of the final touches come to you as you recorded?

Mmh, it depends on the songs.  Most of the songs were exactly like I recorded them and some were not.  I remember that "Regret D'Un Ancient Temps" instrumental part was pretty different during the whispered vocals, there was also a rhythmic acoustic guitar with the electric one.  Also, the piano in "Noyade Dans Smorodina" was supposed to be an acoustic guitar at the beginning, but it was not sounding as powerful as the piano did!

Wow, so at the beginning this album was sounding quite different.  Now, for a little fun!  If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life and absolutely nothing else, which albums would they be and why?

What a hard question!  I'd say One Direction's...No just kidding.

I think I'd choose "Sol Austan, Mani Vestan" by Burzum for my calm and perfectly happy moments.  Gojira's "The Way of All Flesh," when I need to scream within me and feel all the power of nature in my heart, especially the title track.  And..."Vo Slavu Veliki," by Arkona, when I need to connect with my land and ancestors only by listening to music.

Oh very good choices, especially the One Direction one!  Are there any local bands or any underground bands that you think people who listen to your music would enjoy?

Yes!  I'm a big fan of "Of Solitude and Solemn," its a one man band from the U.K, just fantastic.  I also recommend the Syrian band "Eulen," their album "Mother Tree" is a masterpiece.  I'm a big fan of the project "Dead Hills," I love his latest album "Ouroboric," and also a new project by a friend of mine (the owner of Primal Relics Records) Ashbringer!  He will release a demo soon.

Awesome, I'll definitely be checking them out!  Do you ever plan on bringing Sviatibor to a stage?  Have you thought much about live performances?  

Of course I already thought about that!  For the moment I don't want to bring Sviatibor on stage because it's not music written for this.  If I must do a live performance, it would be very different from a metal show.  I would organize something in the woods or a cave with only a keyboard and people would lay there and fall asleep with the music because that's how I want people to listen to Sviatibor.

That is quite a unique idea, one which I think would be extremely rewarding for you and for the people participating!  Finally, what is in store for the future of Sviatibor?

Many things!  First, I'm working on a band project with a great friend of mine, we will release a demo soon.  It will be much more technical than Sviatibor, with orchestrations and all these things!  Next, I will work on two splits (I can't tell the artists right now but I will announce it when the time comes) and then onto a new album (which I already started to compose)

Well i for one cannot wait to hear what you have in store for your next material!  Thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview with me.  Your work with Sviatibor is extremely impressive and I am glad I got the chance to hear it!

Thank you very much for your interest and your amazing support and for the interview!  I wish you good luck for the next.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Vulpus - Vulpus Review

Photo: Novidades\\News

Um pequeno presente de Páscoa para os nossos seguidores!

Exemplares físicos da nossa demo já se encontram em produção. Esta primeira vaga será limitada a 50 cópias, portanto apressem-se se estiverem interessados em ter uma cópia física. Deixamos aqui a capa do CD.
As cópias estarão prontas muito em breve e serão vendidas apenas pela banda, em espectáculos ou através de envio postal. Mais detalhes brevemente.


A little easter gift for our followers!

Physical copies of our demo are on production right now. This first wave will be limited to 50 copies, so hurry up if you are interested in owning one of these. This is the cover of the CD.
The copies will be ready very soon and will be sold only by the band, either in shows
When one hears the words 'black metal,' what is the country or continent you think of?  Usually northern Europe in countries like Norway, Finland, and Sweden.  Rarely do you think of Portugal, but one band is certainly trying to change that.  Vulpus, formed in 2013, is an atmospheric black metal band that has just recently released their first self titled demo but have already made quite an impact on their countries metal scene.  Consisting of only 3 extremely diverse songs, Vulpus pulls out all the stops with their first material and really shows the flexibility of the band and the genre as a whole.

With only 3 songs to prove what Vulpus is made of, they really put a lot of time and effort into their material for the demo.  Every song has a different sound, a different feel, giving the impression that they are still looking for their sound.  That definitely isn't a bad thing, because Vulpus is quite talented.  The drumming on all three tracks are very well done.  The sound quality is quite good for a demo and you can hear every piece of the kit shimmer through the mix clearly.  The one thing I noticed though was the kick sounded a bit 'dead.'  The sound was very muted and shallow, failing to give off that big boom that a kick drum should sound like.  Obviously, that is not the band's fault and it doesn't affect the quality of the playing whatsoever.  The guitarist is excellent at writing diverse riffs, both distorted and clean.  His clean tones are quite calming and remind me of Agalloch's cleaner passages.  Once the distortion hits, the low end of the sound drops away a bit and you're left with a classic black metal tone.  I think Vulpus would benefit from bringing on board a second guitarist.  While yes, in the studio you can always record a second guitar part and it sounds just as good, no two guitarists ever sound alike with their tone and playing style.  Adding someone else into the music would give it a bit of a push forward, broadening their sound.  The vocals are excellent and very consistent.   On each track, they roar through and really give the music a nice kick.  They are always at the front of the music, leading the track along.
One thing that I usually don't mention in reviews that I want to in this one is the artwork.  It looks like it could depict a violent storm with the ocean waves crashing together or a snowy mountain scene.  Whatever your mind makes it out to me, it is quite gorgeous.

Vulpus was able to prove a lot on their first demo.  Spanning just a mere 15 minutes, they were able to show that they can stretch the boundaries a bit and still dominate.  While I do think they are still working to find their own sound, the debut demo does get them off to a very good start and it is worth checking them out.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sviatibor - La Foi Des Ancêtres Review

Sviatibor - La Foi Des Ancêtres
Formed in 2013 in Albi, France, Sviatibor has come a long way in a year.  With 2 EP's, 2 full length albums, and a compilation under their belts, you would expect them to sit back and take a break for a while.  Well, that is far from the case and Sviatibor is already back with their third full length album, La Foi Des Ancêtres.  A band that pumps out that much material in such a short time is usually burnt out by the end and the creativity is sometimes barely there, but once again Sviatibor proves us wrong and comes out with one of their best releases yet.   The typical black metal sound is still present but some traditional samples are used as well, giving the album a unique sound.  I am reminded of Renaissance-era music a lot while listening.  Thomas Hornstein, the mastermind behind Sviatibor, proves to be extremely talented in his songwriting and musical ability.  Every song on this album stands on its own and has defining characteristics that set them apart from one another.  Ambient interludes are used to break up the longer tracks once in a while and that helps accentuate the longer tracks more without having them come together and sound like one long and drug out song.   

The musicianship on the album is top notch.  The drums, while they are programmed, sound excellent.  They do not overpower the music at all and stay at a solid level in the mix throughout the album, avoiding a very common problem in a lot of black metal music nowadays.  A lot of time was spent programming the drums and making sure they are exactly the way he wants them.  The guitar tone is unique to Sviatibor as I have not heard anything like it anywhere else.  It has that slight french twist to the sound.  If you listen to bands like Gojira and Svart Crown, there is a unique overtone that all French bands seem to have.  It is more prevalent in their music compared to Sviatibor, but you can definitely hear it on La Foi Des Ancêtres.  The riffs are very well played and Thomas is not afraid to use some unorthodox chord structures in his music to make it sound all the more unique.  Synths are used, but never too much to the point where they distract from everything else that is happening.  The vocals are cold and dissonant, sending a chill down your spine when you hear them.  They stay out of the way enough to let the music shine at points, but they stay at the forefront of the songs.  The parts of the album that I find excellent are the subtle ambient pieces that intertwine the album.  They are not 'in-your-face' tracks, but they keep the music interesting and add to the ever-growing atmosphere.

Sviatibor has not rested since its incarnation in 2013 and shows no signs of doing so.  La Foi Des Ancêtres is a gorgeous masterpiece that shows the true potential of Thomas and his musical skills.  From the darkest parts of a winter forest to the joyous exit into the light, La Foi Des Ancêtres covers all of the emotions that you would want an ambient black metal band to cover.  If you haven't heard of Sviatibor or his music, go check it out because I promise you it is worth it!


Sviatibor Facebook

Primal Relics Records Facebook
*A little shoutout to Primal Relics Records with giving me the privilege to review this album!  You can buy a copy of this album through Sviatibor or Primal Relics, so go grab one!

Veldes - Skyward Review

Back in 2012, Tilen Simon started Veldes, not knowing what sort of impact he was going to have on people with the music he will create.  After a year of writing and recording, their first full length album entitled To Drown In Bleeding Hope was released (which my review of will be up in a bit.)  This sparked peoples interest and grew the band's fan base quickly.  Now, after riding out the successful release of their debut full length for a year, Veldes is back with more!  Skyward was released in 2014 and features a little over 26 minutes of absolutely beautiful melodies and astounding soundscapes.  Consisting of only 4 songs, two being instrumental only, Skyward is a majestic piece of art that incorporates joy, sorrow, hate, and love all into one and portrays those emotions extremely well through the music.

While listening to this release, I noticed myself almost in a trance while listening.  It is extremely calming and meditative music while at the same time remaining rooted within the black metal veins.  I have found that while working on something frustrating or after a long day at work, Skyward is the best thing to have playing in the background because it keeps you cool and collective instead of getting your blood pumping.  I attribute these feelings to the chord progressions used on almost all songs, especially the intro track.  I have listened to thousands of albums and with that, thousands of intro's and this one is by far my favorite.  It has a melancholic vibe with the downward chord structure and the way the piano melody intertwines with the guitar.  It is a gorgeous representation of how well these types of intro's fit within metal music.  When the black metal kicks in, it still keeps the piano at the forefront for most of the time and that adds so much to the music.  The drums are there, but are not overpowering in any way.  If anything, I would have liked to hear them a bit higher in the mix to hear everything a little bit better.  The guitars, both electric and acoustic, are played with expertise and skill.  The riffs were well thought out and well written.  No detail was overlooked when it came to interweaving melodies with the guitars and piano because they sound perfect together.  The vocals are not present too often compared to the instrumental sections.  If any of you have read some of my other reviews, you know that I like when bands do that.  While the vocals are important, music like this can really come forward and tell a story or paint a picture for the listener without using lyrics to do the talking.  When the vocals are present, there is always something interesting going on with the band in the background, it is never dubbed down so the vocals can have the spotlight but is never too present to the point where the vocals don't matter, giving it a perfect balance.

T.S. is an extremely talented guy and being able to put all of this together by himself is a feat on its own, but executing it as beautifully as he did is extraordinary.  While not everyone will find this as entertaining of a release due to the slower tempos and emphasis on melody, this is exactly what I look for in music because of the emotions it arouses.  Needless to say, this has to be one of my favorite albums I've ever reviewed!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24th Weekly Three

Here we go, another Weekly Three!  This week was all over the board for me, which makes this my favorite week so far!  Diversity tends to always keep things interesting and with music, which is why I always like switching it up every now and then and throwing something totally weird into my playlist.  So, without further ado, here we go!

Portal – Seepia

Portal is not a band for the close-minded metalhead.  Only those truly open can enjoy Portal’s music and even then, it is extremely confusing to get ahold of and really understand what’s happening.  I heard of Portal through their album Outre years ago and I listened to it for about 30 seconds before condemning it as useless noise.  It wasn’t until recently that I gave them another listen just to see if I could do it and it turns out I can!  Seepia is an album that is an acquired taste and if you don’t like it at first, you’re not alone.  It’s hard to understand everything that’s happening and even when you read the lyrics to try to make sense of anything, they don’t make too much sense at first glance either!  To really get into Portals music, you must sit down and listen to the album front to back without any distractions and really concentrate on what is happening.  Researching the lyrics gives you a better understanding of what they mean and the story they tell.  Most are based off of H.P Lovecraft and his horror stories but leave a lot of room for interpretation from the listener.  As for this album, it is an extremely diverse album, while all at once being pretty similar in sound and structure.  The Curator’s vocals are menacing and scary as hell, giving the music a level of horror.  Based off of their costumes and sound, they remind me of Silent Hill and the story that is told there, which adds to the horror element of the music.  Samples were used in a few of the songs and are used in such a way that they make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  Needless to say, this is one scary album!

HIM – Dark Light

Going from the darkest depths of hell with Portal to HIM, quite a strange switch!  HIM has always been a band I have loved ever since Razorblade Romance came out.  While not even close to metal, they are still a rocking band with some awesome songs.  Dark Light has always been my favorite album of theirs for many reasons.  First off, the artwork.  The cool and calming colors used really complement the music within and the depiction of the ship is just plain badass!  The bands symbol. The Heartogram, shines brightly atop the massive ship, sort of like a light within the darkness (hence, the title of the album.) The second, and probably most important reason I like this album more than any other one is the diversity in style.  The band really pulled out the perfect balance of songs and sounds throughout the album.  They have hard rocking songs like Wings of a Butterfly all the way down to softer ballads like Dark Light and everything in between.  All songs have a very poetic feel to them due to the lyrical content that Ville wrote.  There is a deeper meaning behind most of the tracks that are usually portrayed by metaphors.  A lot of those metaphors can be taken in whichever way you’d like them to be, leaving a lot open to interpretation as a listener.  This album is arguably my favorite rock album in the last 10 years and because of that, I own quite a few different copies of it.  In my collection, I have the rare Ukrainian cassette version of the album and the even more rare European vinyl pressing of the album.  Both sell for quite a bit of money online and I’m glad that I am able to own both of them!

Machine Head – Supercharger

When I first started getting into metal, Machine Head was amongst my favorites.  The amount of energy their live shows contain mixed with the badass image that surrounds the band, their music really gets your adrenaline pumping.  I became a big fan of them when I first saw them live at the 2nd Knotfest, held in Somerset, Wisconsin.  They were the 2nd stage support band and before that concert, I only heard a few tracks off of “The Blackening.”  When they came out onto that stage and ripped through one of the most killer sets of the whole festival (aside from Lamb of God, of course,) that very show enlightened me to Machine Head and their music.  Once I started adding their albums to my collection, Supercharger always stuck out to me as something special.  It has my all-time favorite Machine Head riff on it (American High) and the badass anthem Bulldozer, but it also has much more.  The band was struggling with their record labels and such while the album was being written, leading to the album being aggressive and dark compared to their past releases.  All the songs tell some sort of story or carry some sort of message to the listener about what was happening in the band’s career and the members’ lives at that point which makes this album a very personal one for the band.  I also enjoy the musicianship throughout all the songs.  The riffs were less ‘groovy’ than previous albums and they focused on writing with a punch, and they certainly did just that.  The bass is very low and aggressive, something that I like very much, being a bass player myself.  While all other Machine head albums are good in other ways, Supercharger is always the album I grab when wanting to listen to them for some reason.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Avitas - Northern Ghosts Review

Avitas - Northern Ghosts

Avitas is a band that has been around for longer than many underground black metal bands out there.  Formed in 1997, they have been playing their brand of psychedelic-infused black metal for almost 18 years now.  Their latest release, entitled Northern Ghosts, has just recently been released.  Being their first studio album in over 5 years, there have been some changes to the sound and texture of the music but the influences from older Avitas music is still there.  Starting out with an extremely creepy intro track, Avitas wastes no time kicking into the black metal.  The overall sound is very raw and dissonant.  While listening, their music was a bit nostalgic because it sounds like some of my favorite black metal recordings from the early '90's.  It sounds like a fuse of Bathory, Mayhem, and a bit of early Burzum, all smashed into one.
The album features extremely raw and un-edited drums.  While the drumming isn't up to par with some other artists, it does its job in this case.  At a few points, the drums cover up the rest of the band and drown out close to all other sounds.  While this is quite minor, it can become annoying after some time.  The guitars are recorded to sound as raw as possible.  They have that 'classic' black metal tone to them.  The riffs do get a bit bland after a few listens and there are not too many memorable ones but overall, the songs can be memorable even without stellar riffage.  The vocals are my favorite part of this release for a few reasons.  One is that even while sticking to typical vocals for this genre of music, you can still understand pretty close to every word.  I am a fan of reading the lyrics while listening along to the song but being able to hear and understand them makes it so much better because you can sit back and enjoy the music more.  The vocals are typically the focal point of the music but again, the drums take over in spots that they shouldn't be and can get in the way sometimes, another hindrance if you're trying to listen to the lyrics.
Avitas is extremely raw and primal.  That being said, they are not for everyone.  Only true fans of the raw style that they play will understand the beauty within this, which there is plenty of.  I do wish the drums were better controlled within the mix of some songs, but raw black metal is about being, well, raw!  So I guess it wasn't a huge worry for them.  Either way, Avitas is showing no signs of stopping and Northern Ghosts proves that they're still alive and well.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nothgard - Age of Pandora Review

Nothgard - Age of Pandora
The number one reason I am very glad I started Temple of Darkness is because of bands like Nothgard.  I don’t know if I would have ever discovered something this amazing without having an avenue like this blog to do so.  They are unlike anything I usually review for this site and I’m glad because switching it up is important sometimes.  Started back in 2008 as Nordavind, Nothgard plays a blend of melodic death metal and pagan metal with a lot of folk influences.  Age of Pandora, being released later this year, is their second full length release.  Just a fun fact, the lead guitarist known as Dom is also the lead guitarist for the well-known German band Equilibrium. 

Alright, let’s get into the music!  To play this type of music, every single member of the band has to be amazing.  The drummer not only is amazing, he exceeds every aspect of the word.  The speed and precision he plays with is astounding.  The kit sound has a very epic and large feel to it, giving an unforgettable feel to the music.  The lead guitarist whom I mentioned earlier is an incredible player.  His solos are wicked fast and really stand out, adding a whole layer of amazing to each and every song.  He is also the studio keyboardist so on top of being a stellar guitar player, he also is talented enough to write gorgeous symphonic parts to go along with the music.  That, along with the fact that he also does lead vocals makes him invaluable to this band.  The vocals are very cautious to not overpower what the music is doing in the background and I am a fan of that.  The music can hold its own so the vocals are just an added bonus on top of everything!  The chorus section of Black Witch Venture can get annoying after a few listens but that is a very minor problem compared to the rest of the album.  The music itself is exactly what you would expect from their genre.  It blends together blasting double kick and crazy drum fills with traditional melodies that are played by shredding guitars and a massive sounding symphony.  The tempo is not always fast and crazy, as they can really lock into some mid-tempo riffs and still devastate. 

Nothgard is growing to be a pretty popular name in the melodic death scene, especially in Europe.  This summer, they are sharing the stage with some big names such as Trollfest and Equilibrium.  Something tells me they are not going to stop there, these guys are just getting started.  Check out Nothgard and be sure to pick up Age of Pandora when it drops mid-September!


Die Entweihung - Despair Divison, A Tribute to Joy Division Review

Die Entweihung - Despair Division: A Tribute to Joy Division
Musicians that play black metal draw influences from thousands of different places.  Sounds around them, the beauty of nature, their hatred towards religion, anything and everything could be used as an influence on one’s music.  Obviously, other music is usually the main influence to a musicians sound.  However, within black metal, punk music is not a typical influence unless you’re Die Entweihung.  Their unique blend of black metal sounds with punk aesthetics is quite intriguing and unique.  The latest release, Despair Division, is a tribute to Joy Division.  Joy Division is a punk band that was formed in England in 1976 and broke up a mere 4 years later.  While their career was short lived, they did impact the music scene back then.  Die Entweihung took a collection of Joy Division songs and made them into his own, adding a raw black metal sound to punk songs, creating a very strange blend of two genres. 

The drumming as very punk-oriented.  Most of the beats are standard for that era’s music with a few little twists of extreme metal drumming thrown in for good measure.  The two different styles of drumming fit surprisingly well together and you barely notice the transitions in between them.  The sound of the kit is what you would expect for a raw black metal release.  The cymbals sound very distant and the kick is right up front blasting away.  The guitarist took the old Joy Division riffs and added quite a bit of distortion on them.  They have a lot more melody than black metal usually does and just like the drums, switch between styles.  The tone of the guitar is quite good and it stands out on most songs.  There are some keys that present themselves in a few tracks which add a nice touch to the atmosphere of the music.  Vocal wise, this release is quite weak.  Typically, the vocals are hidden in the mix and are inaudible.  At the points where they stand out, they just aren’t as strong as they should be.  Sometimes, I praise releases that aren’t too vocal oriented because it gives the music more chance to speak for itself but in this case, the music is quite simple and gets boring after a while. 

Die Entweihung is a band I have followed for a bit now and I must say, this was my least favorite release that they’ve put out.  That is by no means saying that this release is bad, but I am not a huge fan of punk in any form and I think that their original material stands out more than this does.  I do commend them for paying tribute to a band that has had an influence on them because that is not an easy thing to do.  If you are looking for a unique release and a different approach to black metal, check this album out and see what you think!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 16th Weekly Three

Its Saturday and that means the next weekly three!!  While I don’t expect anybody to ever follow these little posts I do, I just like to do them for my own sake and to hopefully enlighten at least one person to a new album that they never knew existed before!  So without further ado, here we go!

Rammstein – Reise, Reise (Industrial Metal)

I have listened to Rammstein for many years and I must say, Reise, Reise is my favorite album of theirs.  I believe that this is the product of many years of working at improving their writing skills, experimenting with different sounds, styles, and lyrical themes and the end product is a diverse and extremely fun listen.  There are extremely hard hitting songs that kick your ass and don’t stop rocking until the end but there are also lighter songs, some being power ballad based and even an acoustic song.  One thing I really like is that the lyrics are (almost) all in German.  There are English in one song, and another being sung in Russian.  If you are like me and do not understand German, you really have to appreciate the sound of the music rather than focus on the words, which makes you appreciate the music that much more.  My favorite track has to be Keine Lust, which lulls you into believing it is a slow song at the beginning but in no time, the punishing riff kicks in and it throws and whips you around like crazy! 

Ringbearer – Dark Side of the Mountain (Dark Ambient/Fantasy)

If you follow my blog or my project, Aeolus, you will know that I am a huge fan of ambient music, especially those with folk and fantasy influences.  Something appeals to me about those types of releases and I cannot get enough of them.  Ringbearer is a project I came across by mistake and it was probably one of the best mistakes I have ever made.  The main man behind Funeral Fornication, a black metal project hailing from Canada, is behind Ringbearer as well.  This guy is full of talent and the way he constructs his ambient pieces is pure genius.  Each one has a different feel to it and they embrace a different story within the tracks that fit together very well.  Some tracks are beautiful, while others are unsettling.  Releases that can arise that sort of emotion from people are excellent due to there being less of a chance for them to get bored while listening.

Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph (Atmospheric Black Metal)

Atmospheric black metal is my absolute favorite genre of music.  It is very meditative and relaxing, yet extremely powerful and beautiful.  It doesn’t have that evil feel to it, so it is nice to relax to and really delve into your inner thoughts, letting your mind wander.  Winterfylleth was a band I would hear a ton about but would never listen to for some reason.  Once I finally did, I fell in love and ordered all their music for my collection.  The Threnody of Triumph is a strong release from the band and definitely one of my favorites.  The mood of the music is different in this album than any other one they have released and it struck me more than the other ones did.  Not that I am saying the other ones are bad but this one just hit me in a special way.  It is definitely worth checking out for fans of Agolloch and Wolves in the Throne Room.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Paimonia - Disease Named Humanity Review

In 2011, a man known as B.V. started a project that would eventually become Paimonia.  In 2013, a drummer was recruited, making this a two man band of destruction.  That same year, Paimonia gave birth to their first full length album, Disease Named Humanity.  Hanging around 40 minutes in length, Disease Named Humanity is a dark, angry, and violent release with touches of happiness thrown in. 

If you have delved into black metal history just a tiny bit, chances are you have heard of a band named Dissection.  Dissection was a unique black metal band that played a version of black metal with death metal overtones.  Paimonia reminds me of old school Dissection a lot!  The black metal is evident in every track and if you weren’t listening closely, you’d claim that this is typical black metal but it is so much more.  There are elements of death metal scattered throughout and while the two genres are quite close, they have some major differences that set them apart, some of which can be heard within Disease Named Humanity. 

First off, the drumming does not stick to a typical black metal pattern.  Paimonia utilizes death metal patterns while drumming to change up the style a little bit.  It isn’t a radical difference and it might go un-noticed sometimes.  The sound of the drums throughout the album is quite astounding.  The cymbals stick out and accent the other parts of the kit quite well.  The kick and snare are extremely powerful and driving.  The guitar tone is quite unique and mystifying.  Describing what I mean is tough, but within 30 seconds you can hear what I am talking about.  Looking past that, the guitar player is extremely skilled.  The acoustic passages that occasionally introduce the next track are well written and well executed.  The use of harmonics along with the acoustic melody is an interesting touch, one that is not heard so often especially in metal.  The vocals are very strong and assertive.  The nice part about them is that they lay back and let the music speak for itself a lot.  They are not overpowering or in the way of anything else, leaving the music to shine along with the vocals.

A lot of bands don’t have the skills or experience to pull off such an excellent first full length record, but Paimonia sure did it!  They came out of the gate swinging and have set the bar high for themselves.  Who knows what the future holds for Paimonia, but if it is more of what we heard in Disease Named Humanity, I would be more than pleased. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Paramnesia - Paramnesia Review

Paramnesia started up back in 2005, but were relatively unheard of due to them not releasing any sort of material until 2013.  Once their 2013 demo hit, they were picked up by a French label and have released a split release and their debut self-titled full length. Sporting only two tracks but adding up to be over 40 minutes long, Paramnesia plays an extremely dark and cold version of atmospheric black metal.  The album has the sound quality of a demo release, which works in this case because it brings the music to an old school black metal feel. 

The first track starts out with a haunting piano intro that quickly bursts into a murky mix of blasting drums, down-tuned guitars and tortured screams.  Throughout the music, there are softer sections where the music is broken up by clean and gentle guitars but even within those parts, there is an extremely scary feel.  What is disappointing is that the scariness goes away after a bit because you know exactly what’s coming next.  The tone of the music does not change itself up very often and it all sounds pretty similar.  While yes, it is one solid track but if that track is over 20 minutes long, there should be some recognizable differences throughout. 

The drummer on this album is extremely well talented.  From the sounds of some of the fills, I would not doubt that he has a bit of classical training or is influenced by a more classical genre of music.  While yes, the drums are for the most part going crazy and providing a solid wall of sound for everything else to build around, the way the fills are structured take a more classical approach.  The guitars, on the other hand, are downright dirty and raw.  Within the clean sections of the songs, the tone is quite good but once the distorted guitars kick in (which is what is being heard 98% of the time) there is a muddy overtone that after a while, you can’t help but ignore.  The vocals are eerie and quite disturbing.  There is no chance of understanding what he is saying because they are recorded so raw.  In a twisted way, they sound like torture victims’ screams, which gives the music a whole new feel of creepy. 

Paramnesia has some work ahead of them to improve their writing and diversity within a genre that is becoming somewhat stale.  Being diverse and sticking out is what you need to do to be recognized these days and I am not too sure they are there yet.  However, their unique take on vocals and the creepy factor they add to the music is un-deniable and that is something I love. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Synsophony - Rabbit Hole Review

This is going to be a very odd review for what this blog usually handles genre-wise, but don’t let that scare you away from what you’re about to read (and hopefully hear.)  Synsophony was formed back in 2013 by two friends in the U.K.  This is not your typical black metal band, nor is it your typical dark ambient band.  It is so much more than that, and you really have to keep an open mind while going into it to understand that. 

While listening, it was very hard for me to pinpoint a certain genre that I could categorize them in.  Things like dark ambient and doom drone came to mind and I guess that is as close as I am going to get.  There is a very atmospheric feel to the music, but usually not a happy one.  On side A of the tape is the Rabbit Hole EP with a remix that makes up about 23 minutes of the release.  On the other side, their earlier EP entitled Karmic Existence spans the other 23 minutes, making this into a decent length release. 

Now onto the music.  The instrumental sounds are stretched like crazy and make them close to indistinguishable.  I am not saying that is a bad thing at all, though, as it creates a mood that is so bleak and dark, your day is just about torn apart after listening to this.  It sucks all of the happiness out of you and leaves you scared and alone.  Any sort of music that can create that sort of reaction out of people is amazing, just because of the emotions within the music.  Their great use of samples and spoken words sets it apart in some ways from other dark ambient music.  Instead of just having just long, stretched out sounds, there are sounds that break up the noise.  

Now I am going to be honest, on my first listen through of Synsophony’s tape, it scared the hell out of me.  It’s a terrifying listen but can be a very rewarding one if you understand the music and what Synsophony is all about.  Since I use a universal point system for all my other reviews, this one doesn’t really have any criterial that I can use with that point system, so I’ll leave you with this instead of a rating.  Being a listener of dark ambient and drone for a few years, I can tell you that this release is intense, emotional, scary, and uplifting, all in one package.  It is definitely worth picking up and supporting these musicians because what they have created is one of the most horrific emotional roller coasters I have ever ridden through music and for that I commend them.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-Li Review

Back in 2009, The Great Old Ones was formed.  It was not until 2011 that they acquired a full lineup and not until 2012 that their first album came out.  Fast forward to 2014 and you get Tekeli-Li, a lovecraft-inspired piece of art.  Now, before I get into the music on this album, I want to bring something into the light that I have had a theory about for quite some time now.  The Great Old Ones are based in France.  France is not well known for producing very many metal bands but when they do, they all have this strange overtone in their music.  I don’t know what it is, or how do describe it, but if you listen to bands like Gojira and Svart Crown, along with The Great Old Ones, you will hear what I am talking about.  Like I said, it’s hard to explain, but it is definitely evident in French metal!

Anyways, onto the music!  Tekeli-Li is TGOO’s second album and there is no need to worry about a sophomore slump here!  They blend their version of ambient music with black metal and other elements to create a very, dare I say, calming atmosphere throughout the album.  Don’t take my word too seriously though, because at some points, the music can get downright brutal and scary.  That only adds to the excitement of listening to the album in one full sitting. 

Musically, this album is a work of pure skill and artistic ability.  Every musician knows their instrument very well and can play it extremely well.  Granted that there are many things that can be edited and changed in a studio, you can’t really fix shitty playing.  Luckily, there is none of that throughout the album and every instrument holds its own.  Drumming is extremely powerful.  The kick roars through and it sounds gigantic.  The sound that the engineer got out of the kit is phenomenal and it really shows off the skill of the drummer.  They have 3 guitarists in the band so there is a lot of room for them to create some excellent riffs using three guitars.  They do just that, along with keeping that huge atmosphere going.  Vocals are all influenced by H.P. Lovecraft stories and every song is like its own individual tale.  It is a neat concept and adds a new layer to the music that would have not been there, had the lyrics not been so in depth and meaningful. 

It is a bummer that this album was released so recently, because now we won’t see more music from them for a while!  Tekeli-Li proves itself worthy amongst so many other black metal albums and one listen will justify that for any listener.  If you haven’t listened to this band yet, you need to NOW!!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

August 10th Weekly 3

Alright, here goes our first Weekly 3!  I have been on quite a black metal kick recently (I usually am ALWAYS on a black metal kick) so the first three albums are pretty close to what I review for the blog, check them out:

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage

Celestial Lineage was the album that got me into Wolves in the Throne Room and recently, it has been an album that I constantly find in my CD player.  I love their album Two Hunters as much as the next guy and some may agree that Two Hunters is their best album, but there is something about the Celestial Lineage album that strikes me as the perfect blend of atmosphere and kickass black metal.  They really blended together their ambient music, which at that point sounded more like an experiment, with their already unique sounding approach to black metal very well and it creates the perfect atmosphere.  There is still so much power within the music, yet it is so calming and relaxing.  If you haven’t listened to this album yet, you definitely need to!!

Cisfinitum – Tactio

Cisfinitum is a dark ambient project based out of Russia.  While I don’t usually review strictly dark ambient releases for this blog (which might be changing in the near future) I do enjoy quite a bit of the genre’s music.  Cisfinitum was one of the first projects I really started listening to because of the unique nature in which he creates his music with and Tactio is the perfect example.  It is the only physical Cisfinitum album I have in my collection and it is just gorgeous.  It was recorded in a cathedral in Bremen (yes, it was recorded live) and it embraces the use of a lot of “non-musical” instruments which is unique for this style of music.  It is a very nice album to sleep to because it is so calm and relaxing. 

Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Goatwhore has always held a special place in my heart due to their Haunting Curse album.  I recently caught them live on their run with Behemoth in the states and they turned me on to their new album that was coming out.  When it came out a month or so ago, I picked it up and it instantly became one of my favorite albums by them.  The crazy, sometimes unorthodox drumming is still there and the intensity of the music is still there, but they changed up the way the songs sound a bit now.  As many reviews have said, they added a bit of Motorhead-sounding riffs into their music and I agree with that completely.  The older, heavy metal styled riffs really fit with the feel of Goatwhore’s music. 

Something new happening with Temple of Darkness

Hey guys, Samyaza here.  First off, I want to thank every one of my readers in the last few weeks who have supported my zine and made it grow faster than I even imagined it would.  Second, this blog reviews only bands that submit their material to us.  We do not go out, find material, and review it without the bands consent, we always ask them to submit it to us if they are interested.  With that being said, I would like to thank each and every band, label, or PR agency that has contacted us about getting your material reviewed.  I wouldn't be able to do this without you guys and I am extremely grateful to be able to listen to your amazing music.

Now that that is out of the way, I would like to bring up a new thing I will be starting here at Temple of Darkness.  I am going to call it the Weekly 3 and what I will be doing with the Weekly 3 is I will highlight 3 albums that I have been listening to non-stop in the last week.  The albums will be from a number of different genres, not just black metal.  This will give me a chance to write in a style that is more free and without restrictions, plus I will get to promote a few of my favorite albums along the way.  These Weekly 3 articles will pop up once a week (DISCLAIMER: I am sure that somewhere down the line, I will miss a week!) around Saturday or Sunday and will feature albums from some bigger name bands, along with some obscure gems that I listen to, or have even reviewed in the past!  It is going to be a massive clusterfuck of different genres and styles, so I hope you will enjoy and check out some of my favorites!  The first Weekly 3 will be posted momentarily!

Funeral Fornication – Fornography Compilation

Funeral Fornication is a band that formed way back in 2003 and to this day, is still releasing music and going strong.  Fornography is a compilation album that comprises of songs stretching their entire career.  Songs from 3 out of their full lengths are featured throughout the album, along with a couple from a split album they did as well as a previously unreleased track entitled Sorrowspell.  Being just shy of an hour long, this release has a lot to show off and is definitely worth your time to check out. 

As for the musical part of the release, it is a huge variety of different sounds but it all falls under the same general tone.  There are elements of symphonic, depressive, raw, and thrash-based black metal all entwined together in the 58 minutes of metal, making for a diverse listen.  Some tracks are extremely melodic with the guitar leading the way and pulling the rest of the band along, but others have a slight symphonic sound that dominates the atmosphere. 

The drums sound very natural and I would be surprised if they were done by a machine.  In the research I did, I wasn’t able to confirm the use of live drums or otherwise, but either way they sound fantastic.  The guitars always have a very murky overtone, giving the music a natural black metal feel.  The riffs never get boring or diluted and every song stands on its own nicely. Melody is prominent within Funeral Fornication’s music and they do a good job building the music around their well written melodies.  The vocals sound a bit generic and monotone, but the parts that really stand out and draw attention to themselves are the clean vocals.  It sounds almost like a choir is singing in some parts and that builds the music to heights it wouldn’t have reached without that effect. 

Funeral Fornication have been around for over a decade now and show no signs of slowing down.  Their music remains the same but different with each release, keeping every album interesting and fun to listen to.  While Fornography only gives a slight taste of the music Funeral Fornication has released, it is highly recommended that you go check out the rest of their work. 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dunnock - Promo 2014

Raw and experimental black metal bands are a dime a dozen these days, and most are so generic and boring that people avoid that spectrum of the genre altogether.  Some classify it as useless noise or bad music recorded with bad mics, but for others, it is hidden beauty.  Dunnock is a band that has so much to offer within the wall of noise that they create.  There is anger, hate, and countless other emotions all bundled up within 4 short tracks that once the music is fully understood, it sounds like some of the best damn black metal you’ve ever heard. 

Black metal nowadays is based around atmosphere.  No matter what that atmosphere is, it is the only genre that actively strives to pull it out of you and make you feel the music instead of just hear it, and that is exactly what Dunnock does.  While the music consists of distorted vocals, fuzzy guitars and heavy synths with a few drum tracks thrown in, it still sounds and feels like any dark ambient/black metal release.  Melodies are unclear, vocals are impossible to understand, and it is hard to hear every aspect of the music but in a strange way, that’s what makes it stick out and sound really good.  The thing that really excited me is that every copy of the tape comes with a 100% unique ambient track on the B-side of the cassette.  No two tapes are alike in what they have on the backside, which is such a cool idea.  Judging off of the ambient track I have, it is a very lighthearted and happy-sounding piece of work, maybe meant to lighten the mood of what you just encountered on the other side of the tape. 

Dunnock is not for everybody, that’s for sure.  Only those brave enough to make it through this dark and creepy demo will see the true beauty and potential within their music and see how great it actually is.  I am not sure of what is to come with them, but I hope to hear something soon!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Guttertrash - Demo '13

Guttertrash is a thrash metal band based in Greece.  Behind the music there is only one man and he is talented!  Playing a style of thrash with black and death metal influences, the demo makes for a very interesting and fun listen, although it is quite short and leaves you wanting more.  

The music has the energy that any thrash metal band goes out to capture, pure testosterone-fueled rage.  Fortunately, there are enough influences from different styles of music which helps keep the music from falling into a groove and becoming stale.  The music sounds heavily influenced by the first wave black metal bands, along with early death metal bands.  The power behind each of the four tracks on the demo is top notch.  It really grabs the listener by the balls (metaphorically speaking, for all the lady thrashers out there
) and drags them along for the ride, swinging them around wildly until they can’t take it anymore. 

The production is amazing and the demo does not sound like a demo at all.  Everything is crystal clear and all instruments ring through with their full potential.  The drums are crushing and typically stick to basic, straight forward thrash metal chops.  All parts of the kit are evident.  Cymbals are as clear as the kick, making for a very full sound throughout the demo.  The guitar work is quite similar throughout the songs.  There is enough differentiation to make it interesting.  The vocals are a very neat part of the demo.  They are neither thrash metal nor first wave black metal styled vocals, they are more along the lines of lower black metal screams which changes the sound of the music immensely!

One of my only complaints about this demo is that it is too short!  In time, Guttertrash will hopefully release some more material because if this first demo is a sign of what is to come, we all better hope that we can hang on for one wild ride!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Perception of Hades - Perception of Hades Review

The first word that comes to my mind the second I press play on the first Perception of Hades record is ‘raw’ and damn, is it ever raw!  Formed in 2010, Perception of Hades hails from Pennsylvania, USA.  Consisting of two members, PoH is undoubtedly full of energy and intensity.  Consisting of 8 tracks that are all under 3:30, the album is an extremely quick listen, especially if you dig raw black metal.  Once immersed in the album, the band leads you on an unrelenting journey through crushing guitar riffs, pounding drums and quite eerie vocals. 

Throughout the album, I noticed that the drums sound a bit too robotic for what they should sound like.  I could not confirm the use of a drum machine or an actual drum kit for the recording of the album, but if this is a human playing the beats, they are extremely good at never changing their dynamics and getting their hits perfect every single time.  That being said, the drums are very distracting throughout all 8 songs.  The guitar riffs, although dominating and crushing, get lost behind the wall of sound that everything else creates.  It feels like they are there to fill space, which could easily be blamed on a bad mix. There are some decent riffs, but none stick out as often as you would like them to.  The vocals are a very neat part of this album.  They are chuck-full of reverb and sound like they were recorded in an echo chamber.  Although it is quite difficult to make out the lyrics, someone with a sharp ear will be able to distinguish some of them, giving them a deeper look inside the music. 

When listening to this album, you cannot help but feel dark and disturbed.  It evokes some scary emotions within the listener because of the sheer anger built up within the tracks.  That being said, the atmosphere is amazing and really gets your mind fully engaged within the music.  After only releasing two albums and a couple other smaller releases, Perception of Hades has a lot of room to grow and improve their sound.  Their true potential, while still evident, is yet to be reached. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Deconstructing Sequence - Access Code

Formed in mid-2012, Deconstructing Sequence are an extremely unique band.  They play a form of music that has elements of black and death metal fused together with avant-garde, progressive and industrial elements as well.  As far as I can tell, they do not fit directly into one category, leaving them wide open to many different fans.  Their EP, Access Code, is 16 minutes of pure, brutal industrial metal that has a sci-fi overtone. 

Throughout the two tracks on the EP, there are a ton of samples used to go along with the lyrics and music.  A very common one sounds like communications between a space shuttle and earth.  They are used sporadically enough that they don’t take over the position of the vocals but still fit within the context of the song.  The vocals are mainly low growls, with some clean, chorus sounding vocals added in at points.  They are very powering and strong, driving the music forward.  The guitars lead the music just as much as the vocals do because they are extremely well played.  The riffs are reminiscent of technical death metal riffs mixed with tremolo picked riffs as well, playing to both the death and black metal sounds.  After a while, the riffs get very blended together and sound the same. 

The drums are able to keep up with the intensity of the music while not overpowering anything.  The kick and snare come through a lot more than any cymbal crashes though, which is sort of disappointing.  Synthesizers were added to give the music that extra sci-fi sound to it, and they do just that.  They accentuate the main parts of the songs and give the music a very broad atmosphere while listening, almost like you are up inside a space station, hundreds of miles from the earth’s surface. 

Deconstructing Sequence is certainly full of talent and creativity.  Their wide range of influences and sounds leaves them open to many people enjoying aspects of their music.  What I fear is that once more material keeps coming, the sound will start to blend together and their songs will all sound the same.  That is for the future to decide, because as for now, Deconstructing Sequence delivers on a level not many unsigned bands can, with full force and brutality that is astounding. 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Forlor - War & Perdition Review (2014)

Forlor is a Finnish black metal band that was previously named Depressive Void.  After releasing only one demo as Depressive Void, the name was quickly switched to Forlor to fit the music and lyrical themes better.  Their first demo under Forlor was recorded in 2014 entitled War & Perdition, featuring a very unique blend of influences that balances itself perfectly between the old style black metal and the newer sound the genre has acquired.  The music is very reminiscent of early Bathory.

The demo starts out with a very medieval and folk sounding acoustic intro.  It sets the mood perfectly for the rest of the demo.  Immediately after the intro is done, you are assaulted with blasting drums, killer guitar lines, and eerie shrieks that pierce through the music like needles in your ears (That’s a good thing!)  . 

The drums were recorded using a set and were not programmed, giving this demo a very old school feel to it.  The beats, while relatively simple, keep the tempo and provide backing perfectly.  The bass sticks through in some parts of the demo and it can distract from the main guitar riff sometimes, but it is not so overbearing that you can’t concentrate on anything else.  The guitar lines are the perfect balance between tremolo-picked melodies and atmosphere-building chords, giving it a nice balance and not overdoing either side of the music. 

Vocal duties, along with most instrumental duties, were handled by Panzerfaust, the main man behind Forlor.  His shrieks and screams sound like the devil child of Bathory and Burzum, sounding very raw but adding a lot to the atmosphere of the music.  While the lyrics cannot be easily understood, the music paints a nice picture for you and you can create a story by just using the melodies. 

Based off of their first bit of material, I think Forlor has a very good future in store for them.  Their unique sound is easily recognizable but it still has the ability to please the first wave black metal fans.