Van Records

Stormkeep – Galdrum Review

Stormkeep – Galdrum Review

“The potential of a debut release is a magical thing. This year, I’ve been blown away by first-ever offerings, left dismayed and discouraged by initial encounters, and experienced decided mediocrity with hope for something better next time. Suffice it to say, I like writing reviews with no prior experience for a sound; the temptation to compare an act to what they once were is, to me, less exciting than the comparison to what they could be. And so, from the dark corners of the United States, I present to you Galdrum, the debut full-length from Stormkeep, who play symphonic black metal and have an awesome album cover.” Dark impressions.

Núll – Entity Review

Núll – Entity Review

“Off the top of my balding head, I can’t think of a genre that’s more difficult to pull off convincingly than depressive suicidal black metal. It takes quite a talented hand to navigate that particular battleship down those choppy seas. Go too hard, and you run the risk of being unlistenable, borderline or not. Go too soft, and you’re tossed into the tar pits and forever labeled a “try-hard edgelord” by those who should know better than to go that route. So I can empathize with any band trying to crack into that difficult niche market, and it doesn’t hurt that in this case, we have a band comprised of members of Carpe Noctem and Misþyrming.” Balancing despair.

Bezwering – Aan De Wormen Overgeleverd Review

Bezwering – Aan De Wormen Overgeleverd Review

Bezwering are traditional in more than one sense of the word. Musically they’re simple straight-up black metal, their wave-quotient roughly 1.7 (mostly second wave with some hints of first wave). There’s some decent riffs and good energy in these tracks, featuring a pretty nasty screech and frantic blastbeats atop swirling tremolos. That describes 98% of all black metal, so to stand out from the crowd, Bezwering brought three weapons.” Wormen problems.

Sweven – The Eternal Resonance Review

Sweven – The Eternal Resonance Review

“I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what Chuck Schuldiner would have done musically had he not been taken from us far too soon. Would he have maintaining the style heard on the sole Control Denied release or move things onward and outward into ever weirder environs? These questions were front and center in my head as I digested The Eternal Resonance, the stunningly odd and original debut album by Sweven.” Ripples in music and time.

Knoest – Dag Review

Knoest – Dag Review

“Almost everything worth doing has been done so often that metal itself is now officially a very, very bad idea. And yet, every time I think that, Beaten to Death or Abstract Void or Embrace of Disharmony nutchecks me. Knoest, three dudes from Gelderland, “decided to write a piece of music based on the inspiration [from] driving and hiking through our surroundings during the afternoon, the evening, the morning, and the night.” That premise doesn’t scream six (a.m.) to midnight, but the other card up their sleeve might make their debut Dag a bit more enticing.” A day in the life.

Árstíðir lífsins – Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr Review

Árstíðir lífsins – Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr Review

“Norse mythology is an expansive, rich, and very metal topic. It’s no surprise that folks from all walks of the metal world have adapted its themes and stories as a part of their artistic visions. I would argue that black metal adopt this style best, especially when the band itself hails from the North. Enter Árstíðir lífsins. Since 2008, these Icelanders have been creating black metal that tell the historic and mythical tales of their homeland in their native language. Their latest output, Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr is part one of a story about the rise and reign of King Óláfr Helgi Haraldsson, who ruled Norway in the eleventh century.” Ice tales.

Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna Review

Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna Review

“‘Too dense, too impenetrable, too fucking spooky,’ a n00b once regarded black metal. That poser embarrassed himself as glorious Icelandic output like Misþyrming sailed right over his head; now he’s putting poor other n00bs on blast over it. That is to say—in the most roundabout way possible—black metal good now. So, much to a lesser me’s surprise, I clamored after the ensuing jump-ball when Svartidauði guitarist Þórir Garðarsson resurfaced with Almyrkvi and Slidhr alums on Sinmara’s sophomore release. Cue the cliché about ‘being glad I did because Hvísl Stjarnanna is great,’ because I’m glad I did, and Hvísl Stjarnanna is great.” From the mouth of n00bs.

Our Survival Depends on Us – Melting the Ice in the Hearts of Men Review

Our Survival Depends on Us – Melting the Ice in the Hearts of Men Review

“I really don’t like to throw around the word “pretentious” in my reviews. Underground music, particularly of the avant-garde persuasion, is a field where I believe that perceived false pretenses are merely the result of a disconnect between the artist and consumer. After all, properly recording an album is an expensive undertaking; with little chance for financial gain, why would a given band have any reason not to wear its heart on its sleeve? While I’ve covered many albums where I’ve felt this sense of disconnect, Melting the Ice in the Hearts of Men is not one of them.” Hot island songs.