Back in the primordial days of this here blog, we attempted something called “AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeo.” The basic idea was to select a bunch of unsigned bands and give them the collective review treatment to find the most worthy buried gems. It was our humble effort to remind folks that the metal underground is still an important part of the world of metal.
After several years of self-righteous elitism where we largely overlooked unsigned acts, it’s high time we make amends. And so we’re bringing AMGs Unsigned Band Rodeo back from the dustbins of history with a fresh paint job and a metric assload of reviewers! Whenever we fucking feel like it, we will pluck a band from metallic obscurity, review the holy Bejesus out of them and leave them to the mercy of you, the fickle masses. At year’s end we will crown the best in show and shower them with accolades, cheap beer and day old sushi. Now that you know the score, welcome to the Rodeo, mofos!
July is a Rodeo month, and we have a special bull selected for the wrangling. That bull is none other than Finnish black metallers, Teuras. Having lurked in the gloomy forests of their homeland since 2015, III is their imaginatively titled third album. Though there isn’t a wealth of information on these secretive wood gnomes, you can glean a little from their Bandcamp and Facebook pages. Now, along with the intrepid Team Muppet Rancher, you have our permission to ride.
Grymm – Finland’s got themselves quite the black metal scene, with the likes of Archgoat, Beherit, and of course Impaled Nazarene holding their torches up high. Lappeenranta’s Teuras hopes to spark their own flames with their third album, III, and in some cases, they display some great ideas. “Return to Winterborgir,” despite its weird opening, does a great job in getting your head banging, and “Snowing Blood”1 starts off sounding like a long-lost early In Flames demo track in the beginning before blasting forth. But III hampers itself hugely with some rather bizarre songwriting choices, whether it’s hiring the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon to provide vocals for “Diabolus Ab Inferi,” the carousel-like beginning of “Kuningaz Ist Teufel,” or inexplicably turning into Corrosion of Conformity in the middle of opening track “A Century of Dusk,” which also doubles as the album’s worst song with some embarrassingly sloppy drumming in the beginning. 2.5/5.0
Kronos – What I really like about this black metal album are all of the parts that aren’t black metal. Whether they’re rocking out in strange places like The Crinn or moodily strumming their way through a song Opeth-style, Teuras expand upon boring base flavor in exciting ways. But this bog-standard black metal backdrop, no matter how proficiently played, simply won’t interest everyone. The progressive elements of III make for a more entertaining listen than black metal skeptics would have predicted, yet the album only truly shines when it abandons its core in favor of something new. What’s Teuras to do? Start a true prog metal band, I’d say. There aren’t enough of those around. 2.5/5.0
El Cuervo – When the (radioactive) dust settles on the Earth following the nuclear destruction which has been so famously mutually assured, they say that all that will remain are the cockroaches. I disagree. Our verminous friends will assuredly be accompanied by reams of black metal with gothic font and flora-laden album artwork. And praise be unto Satan, because we have another entry into that millions-strong pantheon which will outlast us all. Teuras and their release called III do a lot to encourage the listener to enjoy the music considering the obstinate upper lip ordinarily turned up against enjoyability by black metal. There are myriad shifts in tone, tempo and texture which keeps things fresh. Although they are inescapably black metal, there are moments of groove (“The Occult Enlightenment”), atmospheric parts (“Snowing Blood”) and even major scales (“Return to Winterborgir”) and blues solos (“A Century of Dusk”). Despite its creativity and overall decency, however, III probably doesn’t do enough to generate memorability and incite sincere replay value across the entire record so my award must be limited. 2.5/5.0
Diabolus in Muzaka – Kelsey’s Kid’s Platter was a staple of dinners out with my family before I was thirteen. It had a smattering of what Kelsey’s offered, all sampled with no uniting principle save for that it’s just what Kelsey’s has as finger food. Teuras is this in black metal form, and III is a mixed platter of quality. The shockingly good blues-via-Down break in “Centuries of Dusk” is a welcome innovation but, like Kelsey’s mozzarella sticks, there’s not enough of it overall; it’s abandoned wholesale after one satisfying use. The irritating Immortal-flavoured circus music of “Kuningaz Ist Teufel” is the accidental spilling of chocolate milk all over the platter. The rest of III is a serviceable hodgepodge of ubiquitous black metal – Satyricon, Dissection, Darkthrone, Ulver, Dimmu Borgir, Taake, Gorgoroth, Immortal, and later Bathory are all represented – done significantly less well than Teuras’ forebears. Neither good nor bad enough to be truly memorable. 2.0/5.0
L. Saunders – Hailing from Finland, Teuras drop an icy and occasionally bizarre third record, mixing typical frost bitten second wave savagery with oddball elements and incomplete ideas. There’s some solid moments and sporadically competent and mildly pleasing attributes attached to otherwise ho-hum and rather forgettable song-writing. “Diabolus ab Inferi” musters a decent degree of speedy ferocity, marred by laughably bad background samples, sounding like distant, muffled barking dogs, or more likely a terrible demon impression. It drops off abruptly in similar fashion to “Where Slumber the Dead,” which ends suddenly without making full use of some interesting ideas. Opener “A Century of Dusk” exhibits promise and decent song-writing dynamics, before the comically out-of-place, cock-rocking solo breaks the vibe. Unfortunately for the young bucks of Teuras, despite their admirable efforts, III sounds frankly a little sloppy and amateurish, hindered by underdeveloped song-writing and questionable twists. – 1.5/5.0
Dr Wvrm – In its better moments, when surpassing stock black metal, III should turn heads. The reverberating opening of “Return to Winterborgir” echoes across the barren tundra bitterness, suiting the climate but not developed as much as the odd-ball midnight circus of “Kuningaz Ist Teufel.” Neither goes far enough, but both best the head-scratching southern rock in “A Century of Dusk.” This high-risk strategy blows up as often as it works, but in lieu of genuinely interesting components elsewhere, I can’t fault it. A couple tracks can (should) be skipped (with prejudice) while “The Occult Enlightenment” and highlight “Dominion Paradigm Northbound” resurrect my oft-forgotten appreciation for Immortal and Enslaved but makes no play for my heart on Teuras‘ account. You could find a far worse relief from the summer heat than III, but I get the impression that, were its creativity only channeled properly, Teuras could make a name for themselves. 2.5/5.0
Ferrous Beuller – Do you enjoy Immortal? Partial to a little Carpathian Forest? Well, so are Teuras. The Finn’s third album, III, is testament to their unhallowed love, but the proof is absolutely not in the pudding. The band’s main pastime lies in the raising of a comprehensively blackened borgir, with riffs and rhythms a-plenty. In fact, drummer, Tauti, loves it so fucking much, he literally won’t leave his cymbals alone. Ever. But the real tragedy lies in Teuras‘ potential. There are plenty of worthy riffs here, but where inspiration has struck, Teuras belligerently flogs it to death. Between traditional riffing, moody folk passages jammed unceremoniously between the song’ ribs and the most out of place black n’ roll solo I’ve ever heard, III attempts to be all black metal things to all people, and swiftly manages to be precisely none. So slip into a little black shining leather and whip up a blizzard beast of your very own, because Teuras lack the discipline of fire and demise. 2.0/5.0
Treble Yell – I feel nothing but sympathy for any black metal band trying to stand out from the glut of albums, EPs and splits that vomit out into the world at any given moment. How do you capture the zeitgeist? Some take the approach of wild experimentation, throwing any number of obscure instruments and guest vocalists into the fray, hoping to deliver a sound hitherto unmined. Others take a different tack, drawing from other genres for inspiration and observing gaps not filled by other bands. It’s the latter methodology that Teuras bring with III and while there’s nothing here that delivers a seismic shift for the genre the nips and tucks that are present makes for a refreshing take on black metal. So what’s novel about it? Teuras start with a framework built on the wiry riffs of Emperor and Taake but much of the lead work pulls from the rosy NWOBHM era. Coupled with the prominent bass, some local, Amorphis-like folk elements and the odd bit of baroque clean-picking and the net result is a solid and memorable black metal record. It’s raw, and at times the execution is a tad wobbly, but something this earnest deserves at least a look-in. 3.5/5.0
Master ov Muppets – In a world where an Alcest-core act is born every 0.666 seconds, sometimes trve black metal seems a paradoxical rarity within its own scene. Eschewing this trend and the notion of progress entirely, Finland’s Teuras fight the good fight of black metal’s great old(e) ones, channeling the spirits of Immortal, Mayhem and Satyricon into 11 tracks on III. From the malevolent riffs of “The Occult Enlightenment” to the garbled eeriness of “Diabolus ab Inferi”, Teuras honor and preserve the ways ov olde, and aside from some wicked jarring nonsense amidst “A Century of Dust” the endeavor succeeds. However, everything here works so well because it worked so well when Satyricon did it, when Immortal did it, when… well, you get the idea. Black metal ain’t broke and Teuras didn’t try to fix it, subsequently little here excites me. Surely Jørn wouldn’t forgive anyone for choosing Teuras when there’s still so much wonderful Immortal out there for the listenin’. 2.0/5.0
Lokasenna – III is an album that, while serviceable, suffers from a moderate identity crisis. I wish I could say Teuras is inspired by the Norwegian second wave of black metal, but they really aren’t; the bulk of this album is naked worship of early Immortal. From a production standpoint, it’s kvlt as can be, with rich dynamics and biting tremolo, but with the added modern touch of thicker bass for contrast (although it can bury the drums at times). Where the album diverges from its immediate inspiration, though, things curdle a bit. The hints of atmospherics are nice to counter the raw blackened aggression, but the album’s other trick of swerving ungainly into Corrosion of Conformity-esque stoner metal territory is just…off. It’s far from the worst thing ever, but the contrast is wildly overdone and yanks the listener out of the experience. 2.5/5.0