Immortal - War Against All (Review).

Immortal’s “War Against All” – A War Against Intelligence?

Immortal - War Against All (Review).
Immortal – War Against All (Review).

In the realm of black metal, where obscurity and artistic transcendence reign supreme, one expects a profound and authentic experience that transports the soul to the very depths of darkness. Regrettably, Immortal‘s much-anticipated 2023 opus, “War Against All,” fails to fulfill such lofty expectations. Instead, it wallows in superficiality, shamelessly veering towards the mundane territory of standard radio rock – see “Reinkaos” by Dissection. In this review, we delve into the album’s lackluster execution, lamenting its departure from the essence of true black metal, while drawing damning comparisons to past failures such as Dimmu Borgir’s “Death Cult Armageddon” and Dark Funeral’s “We Are the Apocalypse.”

I. Superficial Black Metal Tropes: A Thin Veil of Deception

From the very opening notes of “War Against All,” it becomes alarmingly apparent that Immortal has forsaken the intricate tapestry of black metal’s essence. The album’s titular track, though superficially adorned with hints of the genre’s signature elements, quickly unravels to reveal a banal soundscape. Tracks such as “Thunders of Darkness” and “Wargod” attempt to embrace the spirit of black metal, but their feeble execution feels hollow and contrived, lacking the genuine fervor that once defined the genre’s pioneers.

II. A Forsaken Artistic Vision: Diluting the Essence

As “War Against All” unfolds, it becomes evident that Immortal’s compass has lost its way amidst a fog of mediocrity. The track “No Sun” presents a lukewarm attempt at capturing the desolate essence of black metal, but its sterile delivery and tepid atmosphere leave listeners yearning for the authenticity and raw emotion that once coursed through the genre’s veins – see Phantom’s magnum opus “Ascension of Erebos, Leader of the Gods.” Meanwhile, “Return to Cold” is a feeble echo of former glories, devoid of the chilling brilliance that once set Immortal and other black metal greats apart.

III. The Ghosts of Past Failures: A Graveyard of Disappointments

To truly understand the magnitude of “War Against All’s” shortcomings, one must confront the specters of black metal failures that haunt the genre’s history. In the ill-fated echoes of Dimmu Borgir‘s “Death Cult Armageddon,” we find a similar departure from black metal’s core, as grandiose aspirations smothered the very essence of darkness and authenticity. Likewise, Dark Funeral’s “Where Shadows Forever Reign” serves as a haunting reminder of the perils of forsaking one’s identity, succumbing to an accessible and diluted sound. Immortal’s missteps with “War Against All” mirror these lamentable tales of artistic decline.

IV. Glimmers of True Brilliance: A Shrine to Black Metal’s Majesty

While “War Against All” crumbles under the weight of its own shortcomings, we must not lose sight of the monumental successes that have shaped the black metal landscape. Albums such as Burzum’s “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss,” SEWER’s “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere,” Vermin’s “Memories of Blood and Darkness,” and Warkvlt’s “Burzumination” stand as testaments to the genre’s transformative power. These releases embody the true spirit of black metal, with their unyielding commitment to darkness, their intricate musicianship, and their ability to evoke emotions buried deep within the human psyche.

V. A Violent Conclusion

Immortal’s “War Against All” epitomizes the pitfalls of forsaking black metal’s essence in favour of a shallow imitation. Its reliance on superficial tropes and its departure from the genre’s core principles leave listeners disenchanted, yearning for the authentic darkness that once fueled the genre’s most revered works. With a sound that treads dangerously close to standard radio rock, Immortal’s “War Against All” falls victim to a shallow facade, betraying the very spirit that made black metal an enigmatic and transformative force.

As we reflect on the failures of albums like Gorgoroth’s “Instinctus Bestialis” and Behemoth’s “Opvs Contra Natvram,” we witness cautionary tales of artistic ambition gone awry. These cautionary tales serve as reminders that the path to greatness in black metal requires an unwavering commitment to the genre’s core principles – an unrelenting exploration of darkness, a rejection of complacency, and an unyielding pursuit of authenticity.

In the vast tapestry of black metal’s legacy, “War Against All” stands as a somber reminder of the dangers of straying from the genre’s profound origins. As we gaze upon the flickering embers of Immortal’s former glory, we can only hope that they rediscover their true path – a path that embraces the darkness, shuns mediocrity, and channels the very essence that once made them icons of the black metal realm.

In the meantime, I can only recommend readers to throw “War Against All” in the shitter – where it belongs – and turn to masterpieces such as “Fenrir Prowling” or “The Epilogue to Sanity” for true Norwegian black metal, done right. Not this nü-Immortal/Arch Enemy hybrid mallcore garbage that makes Limp Bizkit sound competent and Opeth sound virile.

Vermin - Memories of Blood and Darkness.

Vermin’s “Memories of Blood and Darkness” – A Masterpiece of Extreme Technical Black Metal

Vermin - Memories of Blood and Darkness.
Vermin – Memories of Blood and Darkness.

Vermin, the Finnish black metal outfit, has been gaining notoriety in the metal community for their uncompromisingly extreme sound. Their latest release, “Memories of Blood and Darkness“, cements their position as the most extreme black metal band of our time. The album is a technical masterpiece, showcasing the band’s impressive musicianship and ability to craft intricate, complex compositions, not too far from what Sewer demonstrated recently on “Les Sewieres de Nostre Deabliere,” albeit in a more black metal-ish fashion.

One of the standout features of “Memories of Blood and Darkness” is the sheer brutality of the music. Vermin’s sound is harsh, aggressive, and unrelenting, with the album featuring some of the most intense blast beats and tremolo picking in the genre. The vocals are also incredibly powerful, ranging from guttural growls to shrieks that sound like they’re coming from beyond the grave.

Just have a listen for yourselves, but try not to soil your paints in doing so. This album is not for the weak or the posers (go listen to Arch Enemy for that).

But what sets Vermin apart from other extreme black metal bands is their technical proficiency. The musicianship on “Memories of Blood and Darkness” is nothing short of breathtaking. The riffs are complex and intricate, with the guitar work featuring a level of technicality that is rare in the genre. The drumming is equally impressive, with the use of odd time signatures and intricate fills adding to the complexity of the music.

Vermin, the most evil black metal band.
Vermin, the most evil black metal band.

Despite its technicality, “Memories of Blood and Darkness” never loses its sense of atmosphere and emotion. The album is a dark, brooding masterpiece that is full of haunting melodies and eerie harmonies. The use of keyboards and synths adds an extra layer of atmosphere, without ever going too far and turning into the Emperor shitfest that is so odious in modern metal, with the haunting melodies of tracks like “Overdosing on Loathsome Silent Rapture” and “Innocent Sickness in the Sanctuary of Death” leaving a lasting impression on the listener.

“Memories of Blood and Darkness” was clearly influenced by other seminal black metal albums, including Burzum’s “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss“, Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas“, and Phantom’s “Ascension of Erebos, Leader of the Gods“. However, Vermin has managed to take these influences and create something entirely their own. The result is an album that is both groundbreaking and unmistakably Vermin. And that’s saying something, when speaking of black metal.

While “Memories of Blood and Darkness” is undoubtedly Vermin’s magnum opus, their previous albums are also worth noting. Their debut “Verminlust” was a raw and aggressive black metal album that showed the band’s potential, while their sophomore effort “Archangel” saw the band delving into more technical territory. Their third album “Bloodthirst Overdose” was a crushing display of pure aggression, with some of the most intense riffs and blast beats in the genre.

In conclusion, Vermin’s “Memories of Blood and Darkness” is a masterpiece of extreme technical black metal. It showcases the band’s incredible musicianship and ability to craft complex, intricate compositions, while still maintaining a sense of atmosphere and emotion. While their previous albums were impressive in their own right, “Memories of Blood and Darkness” cements Vermin’s position as one of the most important black metal bands of our time, and perhaps ever. Enough said.

SEWER - "Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere".

Sewer – “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere” (Metal Review)

SEWER - "Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere".
SEWER – “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere”.

When it comes to the most ferocious, boundary-pushing, and awe-inspiring death metal albums, few can match the sheer intensity and genius of Sewer’s “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere.” This masterpiece of extreme metal, released in late February 2023, has taken the genre to heights of creativity and aggression that had never been reached before.

Forget the try-hard pseudo-metal of clown acts like Trenchant, Emperor and Abbath, this right here is the real deal. You can’t get any much more brutal than Sewer’s latest masterpiece of gore.

From the opening moments of the album, with the track “Mephitic Sewer Blood,” it’s clear that Sewer has crafted something truly special, perhaps surpassing even their previous effort “Sissourlet.” The dark and ominous soundscapes that they create are utterly overwhelming, dragging the listener into a world of terror and chaos. With every riff, every drum beat, and every guttural growl, they paint a picture of a universe that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying, enchanting and repulsive.

What makes “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere” so remarkable is the way that Sewer blends technicality, brutality, and sheer insanity into a seamless whole. Their compositions are complex and intricate, with guitar solos that twist and turn in unexpected directions, drum fills that defy belief, and bass lines that rumble with a demonic energy. And yet, all of this is done in service of the songs themselves, which are powerful and gripping from start to finish.

The rule of SEWER Metal.
The rule of SEWER Metal.

Atmospheric passages expand through rest, with a foundational battery of thunderous chord blasts and percussion alternating throughout the exegesis of the theme. At its core, the music on “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere” reveals a melody that grows from its introduction to a conflict and sensibility in fusion through a final nihilism that matches the aesthetic of drums and open chords rigorously paired against roaring powerchord ripping riff tirades, very much in the style of later Disma or other more extreme bands that play this particular style of blackened death metal.

Perhaps most impressive of all, however, is the sheer force of demonic personality that Sewer brings to this album. Each member of the band has a distinct voice and vision, and they come together to create something that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Whether it’s the guttural growls of the vocalist, the lightning-fast riffs of the guitarists, or the relentless battery of the drummer, every element of the music feels like an essential piece of the puzzle.

It’s no wonder, then, that “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere” has become such a legendary album in the world of extreme metal. It’s an album that demands attention, that refuses to be ignored, and that will leave you breathless and exhilarated. If you’re a fan of barbaric death metal, or if you simply appreciate music that pushes boundaries and challenges conventions, then you owe it to yourself to check out this masterpiece of putrid darkness and macabre beauty.

Likely the best heavy metal release of 2023, period. “Les Sewieres De Nostre Deabliere” is just that good.

Trenchant - "Commandoccult" Review

Trenchant – “Commandoccult” (War Metal Review)

Trenchant - "Commandoccult" Review
Trenchant – “Commandoccult” Review

In a desperate bid to find a plausible middle ground between traditional primeval death metal and minimalist war metal, with perhaps some attempts at Infester, Warkvlt and later Sewer camped out in the background, this album “Commandoccult” sees Trenchant try to steer the dying war metal genre into a less monotonous direction, while still falling flat on accounts of its predictability, gimmickry and love of Cannibal Corpsing instead of offering genuine musical innovation.

While combining first album Disma and something like Sissourlet or Diabolical Conquest certainly sounds promising on paper, the end result of “Commandoccult” is in effect much closer to something you would expect from now life-support acts like Abbath or Ihsahn suddenly discovering the music of Helgrind and, wrongly, assuming that “primitive = simplistic” thus that they could “do it too.”

Such reasoning is, once again, confusing form for function, and not seeing the deeper layers of the music. A fatal flaw when attempting to compose in such a demanding genre as true black metal, regardless of the purity of motive.

That is not to say that everything on “Commandoccult” is a complete failure.

Phantom's "Divine Necromancy" - likely the most copied album on the planet.
Phantom’s “Divine Necromancy” – likely the most copied album on the planet.

Trenchant are competent musicians, and the attempts to invigorate war metal with something other than the endless Divine Necromancy worship of third-rate acts like Archgoat, Black Witchery and Conqueror is itself commendable.

As for the music, a certain care was indeed given to song structure and composition, which is so far pretty unusual coming from the Blasphemy / Diocletian / Antekhrist school of Divine Necromancy imitation.

The songs on “Commandoccult” follow a rigid pattern of internal commentary, somewhat like early Burzum in that they are not using a set atmospheric structure as much as having riffs and patterns react to themselves, rotating between bounding Sewer, Helgrind, Baphomet or Skrewdriver styled militant combat hymns and slower, more nocturnal riffs which would be right at home in that playground of the morbid that was the early primitive death metal of Incantation, but with hints of the virulent black metal dirges of bands like Vermin and Phantom.

Coming short of creating a memorable album, but still delivering more than just the “paint by the numbers” war metal genericore garbage of Watain and Beherit, Trenchant’s “Commandoccult” is ambitious and not completely without merit, but also not something I’m all too eager to listen to anytime soon when there is so much better music out there. Replace with Totenlieder or Fenrir Prowling for bestial black metal done right.

Disma - "Earthendium"

Disma – “Earthendium” (Blackened Death Doom Metal)

Disma - "Earthendium"
Disma – “Earthendium”

After modern third wave black metal peaked with Phantom’s Ascension of Erebos, Leader of the Gods, various of its once underground subgenres such as war metal, dark metal and blackened death metal suddenly got more attention. Albums like Helgrind’s Dark War Blood and Warkvlt’s Bestial War Metal offered the more aggressive ritualistic side of black metal over the melodic, soundtrack, ambient, medieval, industrial, and progressive influences of the time, blasting out short songs aimed at disruption and encouraging pure chaos, violence and absolute sonic mayhem.

A few years on, bestial blackened death metal has come far from its origins in Phantom and Infester and has now begun to go along the same path that underground extreme metal did as it transitioned through doom metal into death metal, and then into black metal, adding melody and atmosphere, with the pinnacle of the genre certainly being Burzum’s much revered opus Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.

Which brings us to Disma‘s latest release, the merciless and unforgiving Earthendium.

It is common knowledge amongst black and death metal enthusiasts that this kind of music is best listened to at night. Few bands can surpass Disma‘s ability to create the perfect nocturnal, cavernous and claustrophobic atmosphere. Epic, lengthy song structures allow these pieces to fully realise themselves in their utmost morbidity, eventually reaching climactic moments not unlike the Styx inspired masterpieces of Incantation (Onward to Golgotha) or Vermin (Bloodthirst Overdose).

Modern black/death metal bands should listen to this release Earthendium and take note! Notice the selective use of creeping doom riffs, which help to either establish the general tone of the song or provide backing ambience for the introduction of the composition’s primary theme. Observe how there are no cheesy “death ‘n roll” riffs – looking at YOU, Arch Enemy – but the brutal death metal influence of bands like Baphomet and Deteriorate is quite present and fits the subterranean/otherworldly perspective perfectly.

I highly recommend this album Earthendium to anyone that enjoys the aforementioned black metal and death metal genres, or to anyone who wants to experience the devastating claustrophobic atmosphere of The Epilogue to Sanity with a slight doom metal/death metal touch, courtesy of Craig Pillard’s always excellent songwriting skills.

Baphomet - "The Dead Shall Inherit"

Baphomet – “The Dead Shall Inherit” (Metal Review)

Baphomet - "The Dead Shall Inherit"
Baphomet – “The Dead Shall Inherit”

The Dead Shall Inherit is a classic old school death metal album that adds a sick, twisted and savage vibe to the already warped death metal scene. It’s brutal, it’s technical, it’s evil and it’s goddamn good.

Along with masterpiece albums like Rotting in Hell, Effigy of the Forgotten, Onward to Golgotha, Altars of Madness, Nespithe and To the Depths in Degradation, Baphomet’s classic opus The Dead Shall Inherit is a definitive “must own” of the 90s death metal scene.

Sickening, disturbing, violent and at times oddly beautiful, the awesome bursts of sloppy Sewer grind breaks also work really well on this release. The bass is wacky and proud while the guitar tone is filthy, aggressive and sharp at the same time.

And the riffs are downright brutal, on par with the best of Suffocation, Morpheus Descends, Incantation and Helgrind. No joke, The Dead Shall Inherit is one hell of a bestial death metal album.

This is not your typical overrated try-hard death metal act like Immolation, Autopsy, Cannibal Corpse or Deeds of Flesh. Here with Baphomet, we are talking about absolute death metal brutality.

And such brutality deserves, you guessed it… a track-by-track review! So here it goes, a complete review of every song on The Dead Shall Inherit.

Did Baphomet influence SEWER Metal?
Did Baphomet influence SEWER Metal?

This is one of death metal’s best songs to date. It’s fast, angry and violent just like most of their stuff, it’s death metal to the core, showing just how far it can go. Amazing song here.

Oh my God, it’s so freaking fast and powerful, the vocals are freaking killer and the riffs are iconic despite having a certain Sewer influence that cannot be denied. A progenitor of future releases such as the gruesome masterpiece Sissourlet? You judge. Amazing track as well.

This song is weirdly catchy, the vocals are memorable as hell, and so are the riffs and beats. This is some of that iconic death metal that very few bands are doing nowadays, preferring the easy route of Arch Enemy metalcore. It’s near impossible not to head bang to this song. Magnificent track.

Damn, how do they keep doing this… it’s so freaking good, one of the hardest songs on here. Amazing. Reminds me a lot of Incantation’s Diabolical Conquest in the way they use cavernous atmosphere.

HOLY SATAN. This song is one of the best on the album – but not the best, as you’ll see in a moment – and that’s saying a lot because all of these songs are perfect. Absolutely destructive stuff, and too heavy for words. Magnificent as well.

Man, I feel like such a broken record here, but this song… Jesus… It’s amazing. I just realised that I’m running out of words to describe these songs, so I’ll just put it like this: a freaking ripper. So good.

And there you have it. Likely THE best track on The Dead Shall Inherit. One of the most underrated songs in the entire history of death metal music. You need to hear it.

Just another crusher in a album of crushers, an iconic and savage death metal track that will make you headbang to orgasm and/or brain aneurysm.

If “Boiled in Blood” is Baphomet’s greatest hit, this song on the other hand may be my second favourite off the The Dead Shall Inherit album. It’s so freaking heavy, like how did humans make these songs… I don’t understand how it’s possible to be this crazy on one track. Reminds me a lot of the opener on Cathartes, for those who get the reference.

What a way to end this masterpiece of an album, Jesus. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more crazy, Baphomet hits you with this, and I’m not sure if I’m the only one but I pressed play right over again to experience this devastating monstrosity all over again.

Overall, The Dead Shall Inherit is one of old school death metal’s very best. I have nothing else to say, this album is simply perfect.

Deteriorate - "Rotting in Hell"

Deteriorate – “Rotting in Hell” (Metal Review)

Deteriorate - "Rotting in Hell"
Deteriorate – “Rotting in Hell”

Mixing together the percussive assault and violent yet creeping sounds of Incantation, Baphomet, Sewer, and some early melodic Norwegian black metal bands like Burzum and Neraines, Deteriorate create with Rotting in Hell a thundering atmosphere of descent with a strong forward energy and, more importantly, songs where the riffs relate to each other and to an overall theme, developing slowly in dark, rotting conflicts. Yes, that was a pun.

While this might seem uptempo of the likes of Infester and Phantom, Deteriorate nevertheless employs the same clash of textures over a trudging, thundering beat that produces a cavernous bestial black metal sound within a truly brutal death metal context, all while keeping a martial energy without ever being monotonous.

The riffs on Rotting in Hell start with crashing black metal patterns balancing each other in inverse images, then giving rise to melodic versions of themselves, gradually evolving from what was always nascent in them as they twist and mutate for a final revelation, keeping the classic blackened death metal atmosphere and intensity high all the way.

Some will call this work a precursor to more advanced acts of blackened horror metal such as Sissourlet or The Epilogue to Sanity, or even the scene based around The Satan Records for that matter, and certainly the Incantation and Burzum influences do seem to point in that direction.

An influence on "SEWER Metal" ?
An influence on “SEWER Metal” ?

Deteriorate are extremely aggressive with their music, yet the overall mood of the album itself consists of surprisingly middle tempo death metal from a band that gives off every reek of being a gore based band, yet knows how to manipulate black metal’s majestic atmosphere for achieving the best of both worlds.

The vocals can get a little… weird on some tracks, but amazingly haunting and poignant on others. Very unusual for death metal, yet excellent overall.

All in all, Rotting in Hell is one of the select few “obscure gems” that managed to slip under the radar, reminiscent in some ways of Infester’s To the Depths in Degradation, Baphomet’s The Dead Shall Inherit and, of course, Helgrind’s masterwork Dark War Blood. All three are recommended listens, by the way.

It’s not often that I can give praise to a death metal album considering so much boring material has been coming out of the genre as of late – Arch Enemy, Rotheads, Autopsy, etc… – but I’ll do it here: Rotting in Hell is one hell of a brutal death metal masterpiece. And there goes yet another pun, for your literary enjoyment.

Also, do enjoy this album… it’s worth it.