Danish Metal

Cerekloth – In the Midst of Life We are in Death Review

Cerekloth – In the Midst of Life We are in Death Review

“Edvard Munch’s series of paintings, The Scream, has long held a fascination for me, from Munch’s depiction of the blood red sky to the raw emotion and suffering in the screamers eyes, as images they’re almost stifling to look at. Cerekloth have taken The Scream a step further. They’ve intensified the colors, honed in on the screamer, they’ve given you a passage into where this torture is coming from and they’ve added a bone chilling soundtrack – life meets art? Bursting onto the scene back in 2008 after putting blackened death outfit Church Bizarre temporarily on ice, the release of the debut EP Pandemonium Prayers saw Cerekloth added to Hells Headbangers for the release of a demo and an additional EP Halo of Syringes. And now a full 5 years later, Denmark based Cerekloth return with the Reaper in toe driving it home that death is a part of life, putting death and darkness back into death metal with In the Midst of Life We are in Death. Color me embarrassed for letting this devastating collaboration of aggression and chilling sensations slip through the cracks and go unnoticed!” Madam X gets extra dark and scary as she examines the painful and tortured death metal of Cerekloth. You wouldn’t like her when she’s super scary!

Illnath – 4 Shades of Me Review

Illnath – 4 Shades of Me Review

“Prior to 4 Shades of Me, their fourth full-length, Danish metallers Illnath had similarities to bands like Taiwanese Chthonic, South Korean Dark Mirror ov Tragedy, and the the non-Asian Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. The evolution that is 4 Shades of Me led them to drop the keyboard and symphonic sparkle, instead giving up their inner Illnath and adopting a virtually unrecognizable aggressive approach resembling the melodic blackened side of Dark Funeral. While I was intrigued to spin this album and waited for it with some anticipation I also had a seed of trepidation lurking in the pit of my stomach that 4 Shades of Me would have the same meh, lack of power and spark as Third Act in the Theatre of Madness.” I’m not sure what surprises me more, that Madam X actually has heard of the band Illnath, or that she actually knows their discog inside out? Looks like she’s the person to tell you whether or not you should be check out their new record Four Shades of Me.

Saturnus – Saturn in Ascension Review

Saturnus – Saturn in Ascension Review

Saturnus is back after a six year hiatus to pummel us once again with their painstakingly sad and tragic variety of doom death. If having a dying bride is sad, these guys are more like My Dying Wedding Party and Flower Girl. Yeah, that sad! Steel Druhm got us this review before volunteering for 48 hour suicide watch. Don’t fear, they took his bullet belt.

Iron Fire – Voyage of the Damned Review

Iron Fire – Voyage of the Damned Review

Historically speaking, I think the main reason our esteemed AMG hired me, the ever humble Steel Druhm, as a reviewer/minion [I prefer the term “bitch,” actually – AMG] was to make me the resident power and traditional metal nerd (my amazing prose and rugged good looks didn’t hurt none either). While I’m predisposed to drool over most old school stuff (cause I’m old), I’m actually quite the elitist snob when it comes to power metal. There’s some good in that genre, but there are way more generic, bad and monumentally awful things lurking in the ether. Case in point, I’ve had a love/hate/meh relationship with Iron Fire over the years. Their Thunderstorm debut was decent and moderately rabble rousing, but things have been inconsistent since then and their discography reads like the good, the bad and the WTF? After being unmoved by their past few releases, I hoped for more from their seventh release, Voyage of the Damned. Turns out, I heartily appreciate the new lyrical slant toward outer space themes, as it’s a nice diversion from the usual “dragon ate my wizard’s maiden” schtick. It’s also safe to say, this is much better than expected and it slowly won me over, despite initial doubts. Roping in elements of Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Grave Digger and Metalium, this features some highly enjoyable Euro-power with some surprisingly heavy moments. It also delivers far less generic freight than past Iron Fire shipments. While not exactly a “must hear” album, Voyage ends up being a solid release from a band with a spotty track record.

Deus Otiosus – Murderer Review

Deus Otiosus – Murderer Review

When you hear the phrase “old-school death metal,” you pretty much know what to expect. You can rattle off the usual list of influences (Death, Entombed, Autopsy, etc.) by heart, and you can envision the sound in your mind without hearing a single note. There’s about 9 thousand bands that are playing this style today, and neither you or I give a fuck about them because it was already done 20 years ago, and better. So when Danish band Deus Otiosus describes their debut full-length, Murderer, as “old-school death metal,” you know what you’re in for, right?

Anubis Gate – Anubis Gate Review

Anubis Gate – Anubis Gate Review

Denmark’s Anubis Gate seems fairly unstoppable. After two above average releases in the early part of the millenium, their 2007 opus Andromeda Unchained was a huge breakthrough and one of the best albums that year. 2009’s follow-up The Detached was nearly as good and also one of the year’s best. Now in 2011, they do it yet again with this self titled platter, all the more impressive since they lost the talents of stellar vocalist Jacob Hansen shortly before recording. Anubis Gate specialize in hyper-melodic metal with a fair amount of progressive leanings. To my ears, they always had a strong similarity to Vanden Plas and they excel at crafting memorable and super catchy metallic hymns. Now that bassist Henrik Fevre has stepped in on vocals, the Vanden Plas similarities increase ten-fold since his voice is very much like that of Plas’s Andy Kuntz. This is not a bad thing at all and Fevre does a smash up job as we’re given a whole new set of proggy, melodic metal with the typically strong songwriting these chaps are known for. These guys just know how to write memorable music and I’m happy they maintained their high level of output.

Svartsot – Maledictus Eris Review

Svartsot – Maledictus Eris Review

There’s nothing quite like Danish melodic death/folk, right kids? What’s that you say? You don’t know what Steel Druhm speaks of? For shame! By now you probably should know of Svartsot and their heavier than thou approach to folk metal since they’ve been churning it out since 2007. I was a big fan of their quirky debut Ravnenes Saga and was equally amused by the follow up Mulmets Viser (as was AMG himself). Both featured heavy but very catchy and anthemic folk metal with very deathy vocals. Their sound can almost be summed up as Korpiklaani meets Cannibal Corpse after too many ales. Its a weirdly festive and danceable style (yes, you may want to dance around like a spazz to some of their tunes) that somehow remains bruisingly heavy at the same time. Because their approach is so offbeat and unique, it struck a nerve with me and I had high hopes that nerve would continue getting struck with Maledictus Eris, their third release. I’m happy to report this is more entertaining, beer stein swinging, gnome jigging, renaissance faire approved folk metal. All the elements that made the previous albums work are present and if anything, this may be more catchy and fun than before. Now, their admittedly quirky style might not be everyone’s cup of grog. It requires a little tolerance for folk-infused camp and silliness but if you can handle the oddness, its more fun than a barrel full of forest gremlins.

Artillery – My Blood Review

Artillery – My Blood Review

OK, before I get down to brass tacks regarding the new Artillery release, I need to get some stuff out there for public consumption. Yep, it’s an Angry Metal Lecture and you will sit there and listen Goddamnit! For those unaware, Denmark’s Artillery were one of the early entries into the ’80s thrash scene. Their 1985 album Fear of Tomorrow would rank in my top five thrash albums of all time. There 1987 follow up Terror Squad would reside in the top ten. Both albums featured outstanding songwriting, musicianship and most importantly, that certain something extra that makes music truly memorable and special. Though I love both classic Artillery albums, Fear of Tomorrow holds a truly special place in my metal heart. Every song is a thrash masterpiece and if you haven’t heard “The Almighty,” “Out of the Sky,” “The Eternal War” and the epic “Deeds of Darkness” then you’re doing yourself a metal disservice. These were some special platters of metal so go get them and respect the past. Alright, lecture over. Sadly, so is the praise for Artillery. After reforming in 1999 with three/fifths of the original line-up, results have been uneven. While their 1999 release B.A.C.K. was shite, the 2009 release When Death Comes was much better. Now we get My Blood and this once proud crew of Danes has delivered some shockingly sub par material again.

Mercenary – Metamorphosis Review

Mercenary – Metamorphosis Review

Well, we can’t be expected to love everything that comes out this year, although it seems at times like we have been. Although I really enjoyed the earlier releases by Denmark’s Mercenary (especially 11 Dreams and The Hours That Remain) and was looking forward to this release, the massive upheaval that led half the band to flee after 2009’s Architect of Lies has clearly taken its toll. After losing their drummer, keyboardist and singer, they were forced to retool and regroup and I’m sad to report that the 2011 incarnation of Mercenary is only a shadow of what it once was. While their sound always had elements of the dreaded metalcore style, it was merged with many other influences and thereby rendered tolerable. On Metamorphosis, they’ve emerged from their cocoon as a full blown metalcore-melo-death butterfly, just like the eight million others out there (I know the cover shows a phoenix but this is way closer to butterfly, trust me). Gone is the intriguing blend of death, power, thrash and progressive metal that graced their earlier material. Gone is that special something that made their songs so impactful and addictive. Now it’s generic metalcore with poppy, radio friendly choruses all day, all night. While fleeting moments of the old sound can be heard here and there, overall this is a very different entity and to these ears, a much lesser one. In fact, this is inferior to their previous work in every possible way.