Bastion – Vremya borby

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Like a potent book you cannot put down, there is a magnetism and intensive lure to Vremya borby, the new album from Russian folk metallers Bastion, which is inescapable. Severely rugged and antagonistically muscular yet melodically mesmeric, the second album from the band is a striking and commanding enticement, folk metal at its instinctively formidable best.

Formed in 2002, Bastion began with a sound bred from heavy and power metal influences but through several line-up changes before and after, as well as natural evolution, their sound found its home in Pagan/Folk metal inspired by the ‘struggle for the revival of Pagan Ideology and Traditions of their Nation’. 2007 saw the release of the demo Remembering the Past but it was debut album The Dawn of Svarog in 2011 which awoken a richer attention upon the band. Before its release, Bastion was already looking ahead to its successor, working on its visual design with Peter Podkolzin before in the following year, laying down the drums for the next encounter. Created over two years, Vremya borby, translated as ‘The time to struggle’, was completed and unleashed to show a new intensity and aggressive to the Krasnoznamensk sextet’s sound in which they thrillingly employ an enthralling mix of varied folk flavours and instruments.

Released via Der Schwarze Tod, the album immediately makes an intensive impression with an attention grabbing flow of rhythms and a subsequent squall of riffs and sonic rapacity as opener Arkona 1168 consumes ears. It is a formidable and thick web of sound which alone potently coaxes but once the folk spawned melodies of pipes add their temptation, the track elevates to an even greater enticement. Riffs and rhythms continue to badger the senses, at times leaning intensely upon them and in other spaces pummelling their surface as the urgency and aggressive intent of the song continues to show its sinews and ferocity. The vocals make for an intriguing and pleasing aspect too, their raw and gruff attack at odds with the melodic side of the song whilst aligning to the hostile roar elsewhere but they make the perfect fit within the riveting mesh.

The title track steps up next with a similar intent and structure but a mellower tone within a still rabid tempest of attitude and sound. As it evolves the track spreads a distinctly different and adventurous charm to its predecessor, melodies CD coverand hooks an insatiable tempting within a restrained but keenly intrusive charge of sound. As all tracks it provides an adventure which is a tale of its own and even though the narrative is sung in Russian the imagination is pressed into shaping its own visions and interpretations. With a sonic invention and swirling acidic endeavour, the track soars and incites emotions with ease for another impressive step in the landscape of the album, one soon taken up another level by the pair of Zavety (Behest) and Boevaya (War Song). The first of the two is part stalking predator and part rabid horde as it surges upon ears and thoughts. Its body is never an outright fury or assault but certainly one which intimidates with instinctive predation, even as the delicious web of traditional folk wood instruments colour the imposing shadows of the song. It is a stirring encounter with the throaty bass prowess especially thrilling though it is soon left slightly in the shade of its successor. The second of the two calls with citric pipes initially before immersing in a thunderous charge of riffs and rhythms ridden by the lordly and raucous vocals. It is an enthralling call to arms, muscles clashing in the air as a melodic seduction, especially from keys and horns, brings hope fuelled hues and dawns to the building hostility as it thrusts thoughts right in the midst of sweat soaked, dirt clad warrior bonding.

The albums best track is followed by Moya Zemlya (My Land) which has the unenviable of trying to compete with its predecessor. Rawer and dirtier than the previous song, and even more hostile, the track rummages through the senses with a malicious vocal and caustic sonic voracity. It is a destructive engagement until the moment the song reins in its spite for another absorbing evocative passage of melodic imagination and emotion which in turn inflames the potency of the returning tenacious fury of the track. Though it does not manage to match earlier songs, it is a compelling and ravenous provocation which is soon a distant memory once the might of Bylina takes over. Though the group vocals with their tribal discord labour in their convincing the torrential and unrelenting nagging of riffs and punchy rhythms seduce ears and emotions with sublime ease. It is a lure which only tightens its grip as pipes dance and flirt with their rich tapestry of expression and sound over the merciless and scintillating surging of riffs and rhythms.

The album closes with V pesnyah dedov (In Songs Ancestors), an eleven minute epic which scars and seduces, ravishes and entices across its evolving soundscape of sound and lyrical emprise. It is a fine conclusion to an excellent release which has everything you wish from a folk metal release and more in a masterfully unrefined and honest encounter. Bastion is without doubt a band to take notice of.

Vremya borby is available via Der Schwarze Tod now @ http://www.ebay.com/itm/BASTION-Vremya-Borby-CD-2013-Pagan-folk-metal-/131099358329

https://www.facebook.com/bastion.pagan

8.5/10

Ringmaster 31/07/2014

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Rages and condemnations: an interview with Jon Bakker of Kampfar

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Norwegian pagan metallers Kampfar is a band which has persistently drawn fans and metal into fully immersive and startling provocations with their sound and releases over its twenty years, but in new album Djevelmakt  has possibly crafted their strongest malevolence fuelled incitement yet, one soaked in riveting imagination and uncompromising artistry. The sixth full-length from the Fredrikstad band is an enthralling soul stealing oppression for ears and emotions alike, a pestilential fury to fear or embrace. We strived to find out more with bassist Jon Bakker who kindly shared time with us to talk about Kampfar, their excellent new Indie Recordings album, and plenty more dark corners…

Hi Jon and thanks for talking with us.

Kampfar is at the beginning of its third decade since forming, can you take us back to those first days of the band and how it came to life?

Kampfar came to life after the separation of Mock in 93/94. Dolk had visions of a Black Metal band with elements from the Nordic heritage. He met a guitar player with a complete different background than himself, and they started composing. They remained a duo for almost 10 years, releasing 2 full lengths and a couple of EP’s. Kampfar became a quartet in 93, playing the first live show in 1994. The second wave included the albums Kvass and Heimgang, recorded in a local studio. Several tours followed both releases. The third wave in Kampfar’s cycle started with Mare, a fresh start both soundwise and lyrically. We found the right sound in Abyss Studios and followed up with the fresh released Djevelmakt. Between those albums, Thomas, the guitar player for the last 18 years quit the band. Ole was found after a long search and the match was perfect. Stronger than ever before we are now ready to unleash Djevelmakt.

What was the biggest spark or trigger to move from existing bands into starting a fresh adventure with Kampfar?

The previous bands were more or less stagnating; individuals with different priorities in life. Dolk wanted to go all the way!

How would you describe your sound and the band itself back then in comparison to the Kampfar who has just released the excellent Djevelmakt?

The two first albums were very right for the time. Dolk had a strong idea for the sound and what he wanted for the band back in the early 90’s. The second wave came with Kvass and Heimgang, they experimenting a lot with compositions and sound and with still plenty of folk references in the music. With the third wave came the anger. Mare was a more direct and right in the face album with very clear messages. The follow up with the fresh Djevelmakt continue where Mare ended, with even sharper melodies and more direct lyrics. We brought in elements like flutes and strings, but nothing in a jolly way. Just pure anger!

You have mentioned the three waves of Kampfar, can you explain and elaborate on that for us?

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

 

The first wave was Kampfar in the early stage, being a duo for almost 10 years; the second becoming a quartet and the third moving outside the comfort zone in every way, including the change of the main composer. Every cycle was right for the time, and Djevelmakt is Kampfar anno 2014 in every way.

Do you see those ‘waves’ as chapters in the band’s evolution or more dramatic turns, like restarts?

Both. The evolution of the band is of course certain, but unpredictable things always happen and coloured the band along the way…personal challenges, changes in line-up, getting more experienced and older of course.

Can we look at Djevelmakt more closely now, your sixth album;  it is fair to say that every one of your albums has evolved or stretched the band’s sound and creativity, how do you see that development with your new full-length in relation to its predecessor Mare?

Djevelmakt is in many ways a natural follow up of Mare. The biggest difference is the change of the main composer and guitar player, but still everyone in the band wanted to push it as close to the limit as possible with Djevelmakt. There are elements that are not to be found on any previous releases. We took a good look at ourselves, taking things all the way, unknown territories but still very confident that we were on the right track.

I believe Djevelmakt was written in the first half of 2013 with its release this past month. Was the rest of the year taken up solely with the recording or were there interludes in its emergence?

The second part was filled with recording and finding all the right elements for the record. Photo sessions, artwork, dealing with partners and making visuals for promotion etc… Putting an album together is a huge job, and we’re proud that we fulfilled all our visions

You are a band and musicians who spends intensive time on every minute aspect of your music then?

Every day there’s duties to be done within the band. Not only musically, but also promotion and dealing with partners, live appearances and press. We’re not living close together, so we meet for weekend rehearsals. We talk together every day though, thanx to the www.

Tell us about the songwriting and its general working process within the band.

There’s a lot of sharing files and ideas. A composition is changed many times before the final result where everyone is satisfied. A song has to fit both live and on record and we always aim for perfection.

1465218_10152005407195490_102457038_nWhat is the theme behind Djevelmakt and the spark which inspired its premise for the album.

The main message is condemnation of everyone that doesn’t follow the rules. The Church dooms you to eternal purgatory if you choose not to follow their word, and it’s the same with the dark side of Christianity. This goes for most religions as well as society in common. Be a sheep, don’t ask questions and follow the stream. Well, fuck that and fuck them! We tell you that it’s ok not to follow the masses. Make your own path! We dig into the darkest corners and the deepest pits of the underworld to picture you that message. It’s an anti-religious, but for sure not anti-human record.

How much do personal experiences contribute to the emotion or shadows of your songs and especially the lyrical content?

All of it is very personal!

With a rich dark breath consistently bringing shadows to devour thoughts and emotions in your music, has or is your songwriting in any way a cleansing of emotional issues for the band and equally a canvas to lay thoughts and experiences out to investigate and work through as well as dealing with more world, Religious, and society bred situations?

Very much so! Everything surrounding us has impact on the way we think and behave. We are able to use our music to fight that trend. It’s a lost battle, but we still have to speak up. At least we get some of our anger out!

Is there any particular moment or aspect of Djevelmakt which has you going ‘Oh Yeah!’ inside?

I have many of those moments listening to the finished product, but when the chorus of Swarm comes along, the warm shivers run down my spine.

As we mentioned at the start Kampfar has been unleashed dramatically provocative and feistily satisfying music for twenty years, looking back how do you see the journey of the band to this point?

The journey has been breath-taking. From being an underground band with many visions and goals, to become a touring band is very satisfactory. Being able to release records through good working labels and being on the road with great bands is what we were and are aiming for.

How has the metal scene changed in relation to the band and its personal experiences?

The metal scene is mostly about trends I’m afraid. What’s hot and what’s not. Many good bands disappear with those changes. Kampfar started early with folk elements in the music, but the Ompa happy Metal ruined that whole style very thoroughly. That’s just all very sad.

Obviously you are proud of previous albums etc. but do you look at them now and instinctively see elements or aspects you would have done differently second time around or see them as they are and only look ahead; and will you be looking at Djevelmakt the same way in the future do you think?

Personally I have never been as satisfied as with the last two albums. I really believe that will stay. The second cycle of Kampfar I can for sure pick out some aspects that we would do different, but they felt right at the time.

Excluding Djevelmakt from the memories, what have been the most inspiring and thrilling moments with Kampfar for you over Kampfarthe past two decades?

Being on the road, playing some of the biggest metal festivals in the world and meeting people that truly admire our music is way beyond inspiring. The whole trip from the basement and up to where we are now is the perfect adventure.

…And the forgettable or regretful ones?

We seldom regret, but there are for sure some places we’ll never visit again and some people we’ll never work with again. Impossible to sort those out some times, but we learn.

What does 2014 have in store for and from Kampfar?

There’s going to be massive work after the release of Djevelmakt. A tour in March/April is already announced. Several festivals are confirmed and more trips are in the planning.

Once again thanks so much for sparing time with us. Any thoughts you would like to leave us contemplating?

Follow your own path and keep your banners high!

www.kampfar.com

Read the Djevelmakt review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/kampfar-djevelmakt/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 18/02/2014

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Hangatyr – Elemente

 

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     Oppressive, stark, and cold hearted, Elemente the new album from German pagan black metallers Hangatyr provides a landscape to be feared and enthralled by. It is a demanding and intrusive adventure emotionally and aurally which takes the listener through intensive and intimidating climes but one which expands a melody shaped temptation and sonic allurement which is hard to stay away from. Though not the easiest of listens at times with prevalence to a surface similarity in its intensity, bravery to the chilling Nordic riffery and caustic embrace aligned to melodic acidity only results in an absorbing and evocative proposition to recommend out.

     Founded in 2006 and taking inspiration from ‘the mythology of the band members’, Hangatyr made themselves a compelling presence through firstly their 2007 self-titled demo but more so through debut album Helwege which was released in 2010 via German label Nocturnal Empire. It was well-received pushing the band into a stronger spotlight which Elemente can only intensify. The Thuringia quintet began working on their second full-length in the April of 2012, entering The Unholy Studio with producer Christo who had previously worked with the band on the first album and also provided bass on the new record when regular and since returned member Marco could not commit time to the recordings.

     Mastered by Alexander Dietz (Heaven Shall Burn, Chemical Burn Studios), the self-released Elemente consumes and takes Hangatyr_Elemente_Coverover the senses from the start, leading its victim through an unrelenting and punishing yet magnetic tempestuous exploration, one which dramatically and corrosively infests and ignites the imagination. The brief scene setting instrumental title track brings everything directly into view; the mountainous terrains with yawning beauty and overpowering vastness all openly displayed before the following Die Sprache der Zwölf intensifies on one aspect and draws the ears into its aggressive narrative. Musically the song, and subsequently the album, works on the imagination right away, sparking thoughts of a rampant flight through skin buffeting and emotion stretching terrain. With the lyrical and mythology being investigated presented in German for us less able linguists, the music is the key to the emerging canvas and it is hard not to feel thoughts and visions erupting as the track evokes with melodic expression within the torturous soundscape around their folkish beauty.

    It is an impressive start which is not quite matched by the following pair of Eisenwald and Zwischen den Ufern, though both again are skilled and eager in their impact. The first of the two nags and coaxes with an excellent unrelenting groove and rhythmic battering, both aspects further repeated and adjusted across the album but like an intensive wind with shifts in energy and tone constantly if not as varied in design. It is a positive rather than an issue within what is varied and descriptive scenery within each song but occasionally the repetition, more so rhythmically, can antagonise. Like with its successor there is a spark missing which lit up the opener and many of the subsequent tracks, the second of the pair arguably even more devoid of that essential bait, but both with the rasping serpentine vocals and creative sonic causticity bring a strong enticement to enjoy rather than endure.

     Zersetzung next brings an emotional potency to its sonic colour, the guitars casting inciting mercurial patterns soaked in elegant yet uncompromising hues whilst rhythmically the song borders abuse but still lies within the weave of pestilential enterprise to compliment rather than overpower the song’s intent. The next up excellent Grimmfrost expels even greater dramatic investigation, drums and riffs carnivorous in their rabidity whilst the sonic craft and invention of the guitars paint an emotive turmoil to spark again the already over worked imagination. The best track on the album it is a masterful contagion.

    The pair of Gelobt und gejagt and Sie vergessen nicht without quite remaining on the new plateau impress and engage thoughts with ease, the first offering a more hopeful tone to its darkened skies whilst the second courts a virulent rapaciousness which feeds on the senses and the air around its insidious presence. It is the darkest threatening track on the album though the closing Rückzug stalks the same climactic and intensive black depths of its premise and the listener’s thoughts to rival its malevolence. It is a thrilling end to a very satisfying confrontation, if one admittedly losing out to the fact that the lyrical secrecy prevents it making the fullest impact. Hangatyr has undoubtedly matured and grown as a band and through the enjoyable Elemente look set to increase their stature and success around the world.

http://www.hangatyr-metal.de

8/10

RingMaster 31/01/2014

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Kampfar – Djevelmakt

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    Ever had a nightmare where a pestilential like presence is suffocating everything around you, then you turn to the one solace and place of safety you can be assured of and that also feeds on you extinguishing all hope and escape?  Whether yes or no, Norwegian pagan metallers Kampfar gives the imagination a pretty strong sense of the experience with new album Djevelmakt. Oppressive and frighteningly uncompromising in presence and artistry, the eight track exploration of black and pagan bred metal is a breath-taking, soul stealing immersion into a malevolence fuelled incitement soaked in riveting ingenuity.

     2014 sees Kampfar marking its twentieth year and no stronger an impressive fall into the jaws of their filth soaked depravity from the blackest realms as explored upon Djevelmakt could you wish for. The sixth album from the band follows the acclaimed Mare of 2011, continuing the ‘third creative wave’ of the band. The years up to 2003 saw the band as a duo releasing a couple of EPs and the 1997 album Mellom Skogkledde Aaser followed two years later by Fra Underverdenen. Enlarging to a quartet Kampfar introduced a live aspect to their presence in its second cycle as well as two more well-received full-lengths in Kvass and Heimgang in 2006 and 2008 respectively. All the time the band’s sound has grown and explored darker intensive areas, each album an evolution and challenging venture which their latest album takes to yet another level and depth. Forged around the theme of condemnation, the Jonas Kjellgren recorded and Peter Tägtgren mixed Djevelmakt is an enthralling and impacting provocation which only leaves the healthiest intrigue and satisfaction breeding in senses and thoughts.

   The Indie Recordings released album opens with Mylder, a dramatic and sinister narrative of keys casting menace and magnetic Kampfar frontcover WEBtemptation into the air. It is a brief but potent coaxing into an immediately insidious brew of astringent rhythms and tempestuous riffs which consume the ears whilst driven by serpentine squalling tones from vocalist Dolk. Melodic acidity and ravenous causticity merge to create a storm which seduces and threatens before allowing the former trait to make a full invitation with great clean vocals, keys sculpted melodies, and an expressive welcoming ambience. It’s free reign is soon tempered though as scowling riffs and belligerent rhythms punctuate the continuing to lure folk radiance lighting the way. It is an immense start to the album which only gets stronger as subsequent tracks ravage the imagination.

    Both Kujon with its predacious stalking from the opening second and Blod, Eder og Galle, cement the capture of emotions aligned to an eager appetite for the release. The first swarms over the ear but with a premeditated reserve which simply accelerates its potency and venomous intent. Vocally too the track has a restraint to its ruinous persuasion which adds to the intimidation and intensity of the unremitting pestilential nagging. An undoubted impressive scourge it makes way for the second and an excellent electronically spawned intro. As with the first track that unexpected beckoning is soon under siege by a rasping intensity and concussive tsunami of energy and disturbing sonic provocation. Though not quite as commanding as the previous songs it agitates and ignites the imagination superbly with another vexatious soundscape.

     Swarm Norvegicus is another track which does not quite spark the passions as other songs, mainly because of their towering individual successes upon Djevelmakt, but with its dark stringed opening enticement and demonically honed spoken vocal delivery within a weave of acerbic sonic enterprise and a voraciously heavy and addictive bass temptation, the track can only excite and impress. Arguably with its again smouldering yet bestial like build up the track provides the most vivid evocation for thoughts to explore and delve deeply into and over time with patience it should be said that the song provides another exhausting but rewarding venture.

      The keys control and provide the strongest alluring flames to Fortapelse, just one more song in which Kampfar impressively entwine melodic and melodramatic beauty with a pit bred hostility, before the album dives to darker depths and higher plateaus through first of all De Dødes Fane. A dirty scuzz kissed riot of heavy rock riffs punctured by tank slapping rhythms provides the springboard to the expected but expectations avoiding fury of blackened rancor which simply abrades and abuses the senses. Twisting and wrapping those early aspects into its ravenous core of pestilence, the track is pure contagious devilry and invention, a sonic plague to fear and embrace greedily.

     The album comes to an equally scintillating conclusion through firstly the annihilistic stomp of Svarte Sjelers Salme and the anthemic yet destructively corrupting Our Hounds, Our Legion. Both provide a corrosive legacy to an exceptional album which devours and lights up the senses and imagination through to emotions. Twenty years is a long journey to get where Kampfar is today, a place on the evidence of Djevelmakt that lies on the frontlines of extreme metal.

www.kampfar.com

9/10

RingMaster 27/01/2014

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Månegarm: Legions Of The North

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As compelling as an impending storm and as dramatically powerful, Legions Of The North from Swedish folk metallers Månegarm catches the breath and imagination as it takes the listener on a stirring ride of Viking/pagan adventure. There have been numerous folk and pagan metal bred releases in recent months to stir up and ignite the passions but few it has to be said as impressive and as fully absorbing as the Norrtälje hailing band’s seventh album.

Formed in 1995, Månegarm have constantly impressed and drawn eager acclaim for their mix of flavours within the cast folk metal, a sound explored constantly by their invention and the use of traditional instruments. Moving through a black metal seeded sound to a more contagious and organic folk imagination, the band has forged a potent place within the genre, albums like the 2003 Dödsfärd and its successor Vredens Tid two years later garnering impressive responses from fans and media. Their live performances have been the same at home and across Europe over the years, and whilst line-ups changes have meant numerous shifts within the band they have continued to build a greater stature within the genre and metal, live and through previous two albums Vargstenen and Nattväsen of 2006 and 2009 respectively. Signing with Napalm Records the line-up of vocalist/bassist Erik Grawsiö, guitarists Markus Andé and Jonas Almkvist, and drummer Jacob Hallegren have returned with what just might be their most immense and thrilling release yet, certainly it leads the pack of recent releases from their contemporaries.

From the desolate ambience of Arise, its brief scene setting raising echoes and spirits of ancient shadows and epic atmospheres, 486_Manegarmthe album leaps upon the awakened sense with its title track. It is an instant blizzard of scathing riffs, debilitating rhythms, and guttural vocal scowls with serpentine rapaciousness. Insatiably hungry and impossibly contagious, the track courts the passions despite its destructive intensity, especially through the clean group calls and cavernous depths suggested and paraded throughout. As the folk heart stakes its claim within the ferocious narrative, the song climbs to greater climes and persuasion leaving an exhausted but exhilarated victim in its wake.

The following Eternity Awaits explores the harsh and warm extremes further, at times a marauding predator and in others allowing melodic breeze to sooth the anger and corrosive energy. As with its predecessor, there is an intriguing and enticing evolution to the song which leaves assumptions redundant and captivation full whilst passions eagerly ride the muscle bound warrior cast confrontation. Like the first it is an instant highlight soon left in the shadow of the towering encounter that is Hordes of Hel. Seemingly the dawning of a new destructive force, sinews are stretched and flexed with persistent incitement whilst wrapping the dark core is a weave of infectious and incendiary melodic enterprise, its welcoming  presence a torch to meet the encroaching shadows. Vocally the track is outstanding, though that could apply to them all, the insidious growls and harmonic clean suasion a fluid and impressive union whilst musically the track fills every thought for an imposing yet triumphantly alluring temptation.

The likes of the heavy chested behemoth Tor Hjälpe, the riff torrent Sons of War, and the ravenously esurient Fallen unleash their own distinctive rigorous furies to feed and enflame brighter the passions. Each track as the album as a whole, uncages a violent rabidity upon the senses whilst employing a beauty and folk seeded elegant call which easily and skilfully and inspires thoughts and imagination into creating their own colourful and resourceful imagery.

Completed by another turbulent ferocity in the shape of the excellent Echoes From The Past and the closing emotive Raadh, a folk song acoustically carved and sung in Swedish by a wonderful fusion of female and male vocals, Legions Of The North provides one enthralling provocative journey which rewards the enduring of senses chewing savagery with tempering melodic seduction. Månegarm creates metal which is not just about assaulting with the ferocity and strength of passion driven warriors but providing a full and rounded sense of tradition and pagan jeopardy, the album is a thrilling canvas for all of this and more.

http://www.manegarmsweden.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 28/06/2013

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Eldkraft – Shaman

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    Shaman, the debut album from Swedish metallers Eldkraft, is not an album to make judgements over on just one listening. It is a release which unveils more depths which each venture into its heart whilst making a continually stronger persuasion too as understanding of its imagination becomes more apparent. Whether it will eventually light your fires and capture the imagination is not given but certainly the album finds a stronger welcome after being given time to state its declaration.

Shamen fluctuates between outstaying its welcome and thrilling the senses, when it hits pinnacles it is an impressive and enthralling beast but just as often even with that given time to make its case, it loses or evades the ability to spark anything other than passing acknowledgement of the skilled craft and atmospheric adventure at work. It walks the line between good and great but at times with equal ease provokes the upper limits of so-so. Released via Metal Blade Records it is still an encounter deserving of at least one in depth exploration of its epic/pagan metal seeded expanse though and individuals will find more to exalt upon than others for sure.

Formed in 2011 by J. Sandin (vocals/keys), H. Carlsson (guitar/bass), and N. Fjellström (drums), the three having reached the end of the line with previous projects and bands coming together to embark on a different creative path, Eldkraft soon fused a foundation of epic metal with influences from ancestral musical traditions of the North and spiritual guidance of its hermetic crafts. Their experimental invention bore demo recordings which came to the attention of Metal Blade who signed them up for their first album. Consisting of ten big powerful songs, Shamen is a striking confrontation, which despite offering a challenge across its presence is one you cannot ignore when face to face with its muscular and intensive atmospheric narrative.

The opening chant and call of Gammal Krigare engages and invites ear and thoughts immediately, the following fire borne guitar Eldkraft - Shamanaiding the sonic and epic sculpting as the song emerges from the heated atmosphere with firm rhythms and potent melodies flaming the skies. Into its more than decent stride the vocals of Sandin unleash their operatic teased growl and instantly pulls up the song from its appeal whilst becoming accustomed to his distinct tones is a priority. His voice is not one which personally we will claim to have won us over but like the release it finds its place in the scheme of things on the album and it has to be said at times drives the release to stronger heights.

From the satisfying start the following Undrets Tid raises things with stirring intensity and invention. The initial charge of distant vocal harmonies, rampaging rhythms from Fjellström, and acidic sonic temptation from the guitars makes a heady initiation into its potent enterprise and energy. The rhythmic persuasion of the track is riveting and ensures greater focus on an otherwise enjoyable but unnecessarily reserved journey through emotive and haunting scenery which is something again which can be said about next up Fate’s Door. Less urgent but no more restrained in its fevered passion and sonic maelstrom of intensity, the song continues the strong if underwhelming start, though throughout as with most songs there are elements at play which you urge to grab the reins and steer the song into a more dramatic and forceful horizon.

There is a raw and caustic wash to the guitar across the album which makes an appetising feel throughout especially in the Swedish sung songs where the natural guttural coaxing of the language find a union with the coarse touch of the guitar such as in Moder Liv Till Grav and Ursprungskällan. Both songs graze and enflame the senses with acidic guitar craft which is skilfully impressive whilst the vocals and heavy melodic elements paint the rhythmic canvas with rich sonic colours across their individual gaits. The second of the two is a slower emotive sinew clad embrace which sparks deeper interest if not passion, though both aspects are treated with their successor Patterns. From an acoustic invitation which already has infectiousness to it lacking anywhere before, the song is a vibrant mix of incendiary guitar imagination and ear teasing beats driven by a return to English spoken lyrical expression and equally decretive vocals. With a slight blackened breath to its folk carved might it is a scintillating endeavour with strings and keys adding  another exhausting and thoroughly pleasing wash of epic grandeur.

Once the black metal coated Gränslös Gräns leaves its slow crawling intensity over the listener the album brings out its greatest moment in the outstanding shape of Grey Man. With bruising riffs from bassist Carlsson opening up the intrigue, arguably the first time we truly hear and feel his presence normally sheltered in the brawling intensity crowding the ear, the song through imaginative adventure and thrillingly structured invention creates a tale of invigorating and stimulating colour. It is an exceptional song where everything connects with craft and clarity to ignite a fire inside for its originality. Equally it blatantly shows up what some of the other songs lack too such as the closing pair of Dödens Famn and Rimthurs which feel a little uninspired in the wake of the song, though the haunting meditative chanting of the final track does trigger potent visions.

Shamen is a very decent album but fails to make the impression and light the passions which at times it suggests it was capable of. Well worth a journey through though if only for the triumph of a handful of its songs.

https://www.facebook.com/Eldkraftband

7/10

RingMaster 28/05/2013

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Fisherman’s Death: Uncharted Waters

    Fisherman’s Death

    Reaching out from the heavy dark depths of Davy Jones Locker, Swedish death metallers Fisherman’s Death is a melodic scourge of extreme metal which ravages and consumes the senses with new EP Uncharted Waters. The four track release is a leviathan from the deep with a merciless ravenous appetite and one which leaves the desire to go back into those threatening greedy waters overwhelming.

Formed in 2009 by bassist/vocalist Joakim Häggström and guitarist Thomas Lindqvist, Fisherman’s Death takes influences from the likes of Alestorm, Amon Amarth, Iron Maiden, and Swishbuckle and forges its own nautical death driven malevolence which reels in the passions. Completed by rhythm guitarist Nils Löfgren and drummer Filip Krullet Löfgren, the quartet from Umeå first drew attention with their Among The Shore EP of 2010, following it up two years later with debut album The Code. Released via Tmina and Grom Records, Uncharted Waters is the next instalment of the deep, a towering fusion of pirate/folk, and death metal which with captivating ease ignites the senses and imagination.

It is hard to say that Fisherman’s Death is venturing into new seas and adventures with their sound and release but undoubtedly it Fisherman's Death - Uncharted Waters - front coverhas a depth and wealth of barbed hooks which firmly reaches deeper than the majority of similarly armed sea borne mariners and pagan warriors. The title track sets sail first, its body emerging from within brewing deathly sonic mists, and takes no time in laying destructive yet magnetic muscular hands upon the ear. With inviting sonic grooves weaving within the thick current of energy and commanding riffs, the song is instantly a sinewy temptation. Its overwhelming persuasion is completed by malevolent sturdy vocal growls and scowls of Häggström, his tones a grasping rasping abrasion to bring further weight to the imposing breath of the track. The perpetually insidious grooves are persistence elevated whilst the group calls at the chorus a primal contagion and a call to arms to voice and fist. Openly infectious but with a substance which many bands lose in trying to capture the listener, the track is a mighty and invigorating opener which is equalled and surpassed as the EP surges out into its murky depths.

The demanding prowl of The Flying Dutchman comes next, a track which crashes through the ear upon waves of rich and venomous riffing wrapped in sonic teasing. It has a predatory stance, a lure which leads to destruction but the journey is equally an enticing seduction of melodic enterprise and virulent infection. As mentioned the release is not searching new armouries of sound but with thick textures and an energy as well as invention which makes the passions compliant to its objective, it leaves a rich bounty of invigorating enjoyment.

The Captains Chanson is announced by bell knells and soon has its vigorous brawn stretching to its full extent, the delicious gnarly bass of Häggström a hungry bestial instigator. As its hulk of a body crashes through intense waves the climate of the song evolves with skill and intriguing allurement to cast shards of melodic sun and warmth on a mellowing course. It of course is not long before the track is rampant once more and turning on the listener with corrosive rhythms and annihilatory riffs but this is continually entwined with a compulsion to temper and seduce with sonic grandeur. The song is outstanding, the best of the release, and would have alone left an ardour for the band in place.

The closing Darkwater Cape is a torrent of unrelentingly vicious rhythms, the drums of Löfgren callous which ever guise they wish to enthral with, whilst the guitars of the other Löfgren and Lindqvist once more flame the skies with invention and skill. The track is a final anthemic row across the siren waters of the release and as all the songs the incitement to join the crew.

       Uncharted Waters is an excellent treat to get your feet wet with and Fisherman’s Death a band which leaves every requirement and satisfaction full to the poop deck.

https://www.facebook.com/Fishermansdeathofficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 28/02/2013

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