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Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Reviews: Gast, Hermóðr, Varego, Sebastien (Paul S & Matt)

Gast: Morkret Kallar (Black Market Metal Label) [Paul S]

Gast are a 4 piece from Sweden, they formed in 2015 and Morket Kallar is their first album. The band play a fairly orthodox style of black metal, lots of harsh nasty tremolo picked riffs and blast beats. Their sound reminds me a little of British black metal band Blutvial. First track Distans starts with very aggressive blasting and fairly dissonant riffs, before slowing down a little while not loosing any of their viciousness. The track picks up speed till the end. This is a great opening, utterly savage, the production job is purposely noisy and lo fi; lovely. Avgrund has a slow, soft introduction before the harshness comes in with some nasty mid-paced black metal. There is a fair amount of layered guitars in this track, gives it a bit of a Watain feel, but maybe a little more extreme than Watain.

Next track Under Satan's Vinger (Initially I thought this was called Under Satan's Vinegar which is even weirder, I suppose Satan's Chips would be Under Satan's Vinegar), Is a blast of tremolo picked riffs and blast beats. There is a slower middle section, but with the savagery that is on display with this band, I get the feeling that any slow or soft sections are only there to make the nasty parts sound nastier. Transcendens is a short acoustic interlude, that leads us into the next track. Dar Livet Kvavs is a full on blast of a track, fast, aggressive and takes no prisoners. The track is three and a half minutes of unremitting savagery. Morgonstjarna has a mid-paced feel to it that is measured and feels a little like Avgrund. Although there is less aggression, there is a intent to this track that is no less ferocious than the blast heavy material.

 Final track Sorgens Skugga is fast and blasting, a great way to end a very aggressive and fierce album. Morkret Kallar is a great piece of nasty black metal, if you like your metal to be barbaric and in your face then you should probably give this a go, I’ve really enjoyed it. 8/10

Hermóðr: Forest Sky (Self Released) [Paul S]

Hermóðr are a one man band project from Rafn, a Swedish musician. Hermóðr have been around since 2012 and are incredibly prolific. Rafn has produced 8 albums and in my reckoning, 18 EP’s in the 7 years Hermóðr has been going. Thats a huge amount of music to produce in a very short amount of time. I’ve been aware of this band for quite a long time, but have never actually heard anything by this project until this album arrived in my Dropbox folder, so I was very interested in what this album had in store for me. The music on Winter Sky would broadly fit into a black metal template, but simply referring to this as black metal would be selling it short, this is a far more complex beast than that. Although black metal is the right ballpark (and atmospheric black metal would be even more accurate), there is also a slight Pagan metal aspect to this, and also a post black metal sense as well. 

There are parts of this album where it feels like a black metal band playing doom, as a lot of the pacing and tempo is more in a doom style. Clearly Hermóðr are a band that don’t really fit in with easy pigeonholing, and that is wonderful. The album begins with the track Winter Storm, a slow, beautiful piece of post black metal, there are elements of Alcest in the pacing and mood. The vocals, although harsh and very traditionally black metal, are quite low in the mix and are handled with delicacy and nuance so they never feel like they are intruding on the melodic grace of the track. The next track is My Reflexion In The Ice. After a short acoustic introduction the heavy layered guitars come in, and although we are in a more aggressive place, it is no less exquisite. There is a little similarity with some of Agalloch’s softer, less blasting material. There is a hypnotic quality to a lot of the material on this album, and this track has that in abundance. Near the end of the song there are some clean, gentle, layered vocals, which again feel a little like Alcest. Next up is Echoes In The Woods, a slow, measured song. 

The track has tremolo picked riffs, which are just exquisite. There is an unstoppable and hypnotic feeling with this song, once the melody gets into your head, it’s there for days. The Falls starts with a very simple riff that is repeated, and slowly builds as more layers are added. There is a middle section that is a little melancholic, before the simple riff returns and in comparison to the melancholia feels uplifting and positive. Northern Forest is a little more doom like, a soft acoustic intro that then keeps the same tune but becomes a distorted riff, this then morphs into a sad little doom riff, before the opening riff returns at the end. Follow The Water is the shortest track on the album, it is mid-paced, tuneful and hypnotic. Hunter And Pray is probably the fastest track on the album. Once the main riff kicks in the song powers along with a very pleasing tempo and a main riff that reminds me of some of Kampfar’s older material, but maybe a little less aggressive or heavy as Kampfar. 

Burial Mound is Mid-paced, Melancholic and feels cathartic. Title track Forest Sky has a great melodic centre and feels positive and expansive, again there is the similarity with some of Alcest’s material. The album finishes with Tales Of The Forgotten, which has a slightly more driving rhythm than the rest of the album. The song has that hypnotic feel that is present on a lot of the album. The song also boasts a Mouth Harp as a rhythmic device, and has a great tune that gets stuck in your head. Forest Sky, is a stunning album. I’ve loved listening to it, and will now be buying the whole Hermóðr back catalogue, my ignorance of this band has to end! If you like atmospheric black metal, post black metal, pagan metal doom or just like really well written music then you should definitely check this out. Sublime. 9 /10

Varego: I Prophetic (Argonauta Records) [Paul S]

Varego are a four piece based in Italy. They have been going since 2012 and I Prophetic is their fourth album. This album comes 3 years after their last album Epoch. We get under way with an introduction on piano called Origin, before the first track proper kicks in. The Abstract Corpse is a cracking piece of 6:8 tempo doom, most of the song is quite up pacy with a slower heavier section in the middle. The vocals have quite a lot of reverb on them and sound a little like Ozzy, but also a little like Perry Farrell. Title track I Prophetic starts with a classic metal riff, that is slow and crushingly heavy. The track is huge and this is emphasised by some very heavily processed vocals that give the song a psychedelic feel, something that runs through the whole album. Of Dust is quicker than the track that preceded it, the riff sounds a little like Pentagram. The song has a softer, more psychedelic ending. Silent Giants has a softer opening, but with a brooding, slightly threatening feeling about it. The track builds and builds until it becomes a huge piece of sludge, again the vocals have a lot of effects on them, which just adds to the hugeness. 

When The Wolves Howl is the fastest track on the album, and has a slightly punky feel to it, but also nods towards a more traditional metal style. The track pounds the listener into submission and constantly drives forward, less psychedelic, with more direct vocals, with less effects. Dualist is a much slower song, it also has a much more relaxed tempo. The song has a great fat, lazy riff at it’s core that is a nice change of pace, whilst not seeming out of place. The vocals are very well done and the song even has a lovely bluesy solo, which fits well with the track. Final track Zodiac is a fast, aggressive track that has a pounding drum beat and a great riff driving it on. There is a slight punky feel that makes this a little more sludgy than some of the other material on here. The psychedelia returns for the end of the song, as it slows down for a slightly softer end to the album. I prophetic is a great album. It’s varied and interesting, enough alternative elements to stop anything becoming boring or staid. If you like your doom to be a little left of centre then you should definitely check this out! 8/10
Sebastien: Behind The World (Pride & Joy Music) [Matt]

Off the back of their third album Act Of Creation Czech metal band Sebastien have brought this four track EP which hopefully means they are on their way to a fourth full length. The power metal influences of their previous albums seems to have dissipated bringing a huge dose of AOR/Melodic Metal that wasn't there before. Fight For Love is track most far removed with pulsing synths, throughout and the vocals of Yannis Papadopoulos while Mirror On The Wall is almost pop rock. If this is the sound of Sebastien to come then I for one welcome it, however if this is just a one shot deal to release some songs that wouldn't fit then I can appreciate that too. Personally I'd prefer the former as the symphonic power metal can only get you so far so it's great to hear them trying to differ their sound. 7/10

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