Danish Metal

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.

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.

Woebegone Obscured – Deathstination Review

Woebegone Obscured – Deathstination Review

Doom metal is a sub-genre that gets a lot of flak from orthodox metal fans for being “boring” or “too slow”, even more so for the processionary pace of funeral doom. Enter Denmark’s Woebegone Obscured, self-described as a “blackened funeral doom” band, with their debut full length Deathstination (self-released in 2007 and now re-released by I, Voidhanger records) – a crushingly slow doom album punctuated by high-energy black metal flourishes and a very apparent progressive mentality.

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Well shiver me timbers, it’s a pirate metal concept album! Sure, Running Wild has been doing that since 1987 but can you ever really have enough pirate metal? Yarr, I think not me mateys! So it is with open arms I welcome Salt, the new album by Denmark’s Wuthering Heights. Salt is the band’s fifth release and although they began life in 1997 as a power metal unit, I am not exactly sure how to classify them now. They still have many elements of traditional power metal (fast, galloping rhythms, speedy yet melodic guitar work) but they have evolved into a far more progressive and unorthodox entity over time. So much so in fact, that yours truly couldn’t get into their past two releases because they were just too schizophrenic, scattered and disjointed. I will admit that after my initial few listens to Salt, I had exactly the same problem and was prepared to send this album down to Davey Jones’s Locker with a vicious cannonade along the lines of “ARRRRRR, she blows!!!!” Then slowly, the album’s buccaneer charm began to seep into my head and I started liking it (although at first I only liked parts of it and prepared to say it possessed merely “pieces of great, pieces of great”). However, after two days of soaking in the Salt, I have signed on for this expedition and am ready to pillage and quaff ale right along with Wuthering Heights.

Svartsot – Mulmets Viser Review

Svartsot – Mulmets Viser Review

Given the whole history of medieval Scandinavia and where the vikings actually came from as a rule, it is surprising to me that there are not more bands from Denmark that have jumped onto this whole Viking Metal thing that has been swelling up in metal for the last decade or so. No, instead it was basically introduced by a Swede in the 1980s and has been carried on primarily by Swedes and Norwegians who do the style well. But it was not the Swedes that the Englishmen were so afraid of, but the Danes. There was even a law (and a word for it) where they called the money that was paid in tribute to the Vikings who were threatening to invade a certain area: “Danegeld”. It is true that (what would be modern day) Norwegians were involved in these raids, and so, too, were the Rus, or Swedish Vikings. But the Danes are the Vikings you learn about. “Sure,” you say, “but this point is pedantic and long-winded. You’re Angry Metal Guy not Angry History Nerd.” Good point. But my point is this: very little Danish viking metal exists. The only band I’ve heard of is Svartsot, who has just released their second album of folk influenced, medieval Scandinavian metal songs.

The Kandidate – Until We Are Outnumbered Review

The Kandidate – Until We Are Outnumbered Review

The Kandidate wasn’t what I was expecting. Like a mix of thrash metal and Agnostic Front, these Danish metallers have produced an album to which I am utterly blase. As Angry Metal Guy, it is my job to have really strong opinions about things one way or another, but instead I listen to this album and I just.. don’t hear much that I want to come back to. On the other hand there’s not much to dis. It’s just an all-in-all mediocre record by a band I’ve never heard before.