YEARS OF DECAY 2010

This Sunday we decided to bring you not so long ago in time and throw some suggestions from 2010, among the first years of “recovery” of our beloved music from the NU plague raging the previous ten years in the industry. 2010 actually brought some ultra solid sonic releases, paving the path for further development of the bands and their direction. We saw the Big 4 as well. Yes, 2010 was the threshold of another great decade for the metal music, constantly lifting the bar year by year. Please check our individual choices and most of all enjoy your Sunday!

TRIPTYKON – “Eparistera Daimones”
March 2010, Century Media

My choice for 2010’s album is made by the ultimate underground legend, Tom Gabriel Fischer. His band CELTIC FROST made its swansong album in 2006; “Monotheist” and anticipation was great upon the release from the new beast, TRIPTYKON in 2010. Fischer was clearly in control of what he wanted to achieve with this band. Artwork by H.R. Giger (Cover) and Vincent Castiglia (band illustrations), material consisting of songs originally meant for the release of another Celtic Frost album, and some new tracks written with his TRIPTYKON crew, mainly guitarist V. Santura. read more

This dark masterpiece was everything a fan of his earlier work could hope for, the sinister goth, death, black, doom sounds like a natural successor to “Monotheist”. With tracks like Abyss Within My Soul” and “My Pain” the well where Fischer finds inspiration is not anywhere near empty. The first chapter of TRIPTYKON was upon us, his journey continues. Later the same year the “Shatter” EP was released, containing recordings from the same sessions and two live recordings of CELTIC FROST classics (included “Dethroned Emperor” featuring Nocturno Culto of DARKTHRONE). TRIPTYKON also released “Eparistera Daimones – The Complete Sessions” as a limited box set where the “Shatter” EP was included, the perfect proof that even if CELTIC FROST was no more, Tom Gabriel Fischer was here to stay… 

Harald

IMMOLATION – “Majesty and Decay”
March 2010, Nuclear Blast

IMMOLATION are one of those bands that repeatedly cause me to involuntarily bang my head and make that frowning “metal face” when I’m listening to their music. I first discovered them through “Close to a World Below”. I found the cover of “Christ on a cross”, engulfed in furious inferno so perfectly captured the feel of the band. When I listen to them, I usually picture the music being produced inside a blast furnace. I have a feeling that some reviewers applied that overused expression ‘a return to form’ to 2010’s “Majesty and Decay“. It’s hard for me to judge one way or the other, as I haven’t followed all of their releases. What I can say is that this album stands up to scrutiny against my cherished introduction to the band. read more

The atmosphere IMMOLATION create is pretty unrelenting. On this release they are kind enough to break you in with an ominous intro of mournful, reverberating guitars before screaming in at full force on the back of some drifting ship of tortured spirits with the relentless savagery of “The Purge”. Percussion rains down a torrent hammer blows, with diamond cutting guitar lines and ferocious guttural death metal vocals. IMMOLATION know how to pulverise you, but they also know how to lock you in with a sickening groove and they move with ease between these two aspects. Cuts like the title track and album closer “The Comfort of Cowards” will rip the flesh from your face in a tornado of pulverising percussion and bone cutting guitar lines, before you find yourself bopping your head along as they lock into a pounding march of damnation.

Whether you have a passing knowledge of the band, but haven’t found your way this far yet, or you’re just curious to hear how brightly the Death Metal torch has been burning into the new millennium, step this way. The flame of IMMOLATION burns bright as a motherfucker.

Tom

WATAIN – “Lawless Darkness”
June 2010, Season of Mist

Ah, 2010 – this takes me back. A time when there was an abundance of gigs and new releases, and a peak in my local scene. Sal of Whiplash promotions fame had decided to bring metal back to Liverpool after a lengthy hiatus, head hunting the best bands; in fact, you could almost be forgiven for thinking we jumped into a wormhole in time back to the early 1990s when many extreme metal bands used to show up over here. Bands such as NEGURA BUNGET, RAGNAROK, NAPALM DEATH, MELECHESH and NILE played here – with an off the scale appearance by DEICIDE with BELPHEGOR as support, that was absolute mosh pit carnage in the best possible way. read more

WATAIN had played twice in Liverpool, I think towards the end of 2010 and perhaps again in 2011? I’m not entirely sure, since I’ve had much red wine and beer since then. Anyway, one of the best gigs that Whiplash ever promoted was WATAIN – and in particular they were touring their latest release “Lawless Darkness” – a phenomenal slice of black metal art indeed. Tracks such as “Malfeitor” for instance – with those enormously catchy riffs stirring a primeval need in your soul, that makes you want to run around your garden butt naked with a pentagram daubed on your chest in pig’s blood – whilst you set the Begonia’s on fire with a box of Swan Vesta’s, and the spare can of petrol kept in the boot of your Ford Mondeo screaming unto Lord Satan himself. Basically, there isn’t a single bad track on this album, and one of the best that 2010 had to offer. The tour for this album was off the scale, Eric and the lads were on fine form that tore the venue apart playing a mix of the classics and new tracks to absolutely astonishing form; people at the front of the stage returned home with Cheshire cat grins covered in pigs blood, smelling of fire due to the pyrotechnics on stage – scaring the living shit out of local populace. Got a couple of reasonable pictures on the Blackberry that I had too, nice.

 

 

 

 

 

Also made for amusing conversation the next morning returning back to the office after having a half day off for the afternoon, and a half day for the morning – so I strolled in at lunchtime. A work colleague asked me how the gig went, where I replied “Yeah man, it was great – I SMELL OF FIRE AND MURDER!” which was met with raised eyebrows. Even more amusingly, I was typing away and noticed a weird smelly funk from my wrist – my Seiko Pepsi Dial had blood and crud in the metal strap. I decided to chase another work colleague through the office with the Alan Partridge-esque retort “SMELL MY STRAP, YOU MOTHER!” whilst my work makes snorted coffee through their noses in mirth. Fun times.

Goth Mark

OVERKILL – “Ironbound”
January 2010, Nuclear Blast

And really…just when you thought the glory days were done! My god! I don’t know what the hell happened with OVERKILL around 2010, but it is clear that the well the band drank from at this point in time had a different potion, a different juice – some sort of wicked concoction that allowed the (at the time) established line of Blitz/DD/Linsk/Tailer/Lipniki to create what was easily their most creative album since 1991’s “Horrorscope”read more

I am a massive OVERKILL fan. They are my favourite thrash/metal band. But boy did they do it tough through 1993 to 2007. Seriously, they slaved their way through 9 more albums and almost 15 year period where everything they did was not accepted as it was before! Any lesser band would have shut the fucking door! Goodnight! And whilst I find redeeming qualities in all of those post-“Horrorscope” albums to ‘07’s “Immortalis” – I agree that the quality wasn’t quite up to the standard of the glory days. That’s why, after a three year break, the impact of “Ironbound” is like a Mike Tyson uppercut to the chin! “Ironbound” hit so hard with its energy and vibrancy that, for me, it actually left me reeling; totally unexpected, utterly surprised and thrilled with what I was hearing! Even as a fan, I did not expect the quality that the band served up on this album.

There are three main aspects at play on “Ironbound”. 1. The production – OVERKILL have always thrived when they got this part right. Big, massive, crunchy riffs that allow the band’s power, energy and song writing attitude to be captured in its best light. Compare this to the stifled, lifeless production of “Immortalis” and “RelixIV” – this has serious teeth, this has thickness – it is light and day.  2. Blitz – I would never accuse of Bobby of going through the motions on those previous album, but on “Ironbound” there just seems to be whole new level of passion and daring with his vocal projection – his enunciation, his phrasing, the snarl, croon and scream palate gets a chance to exhibit its full calibre here. Which brings me to 3 – the Song Writing. Blitz and the band sound so animated on “Ironbound” because for whatever reason, they found their compositional mojo again. I can feel the heart and soul in every track loaded up here. The NYC punk ethic of ‘Bring Me the Night’ to the throbbing riff jam of ‘The Head and Heart’ to the mighty title track among half a dozen others – this is easily their most consistent set of tracks since ‘03’s “Killbox” and before that ‘91’s classic “Horroscope” album.

All up, “Ironbound” was the surprise Metal album of 2010. No one expected to be hit by something so strong. The well was dry, we thought. Of course, “Ironbound” was the start of a truly inspired run of albums since. It has unleashed a creative shot in the arm for the band and with album number 19 “Wings of War” about to drop, it will represent a decade of 5 straight albums where it could truly be argued that it is their most productive and successful period ever!

Make it
Take it
Never let go
Tell all you know
How far can you take it as you go…..Ironbound!

KMaN

KEEP OF KALESSIN – “Reptilian”
May 2010, Nuclear Blast

2010 must have been a curious year for the Norwegian metallers KEEP OF KALESSIN. After achieving success with previous full-length releases “Armada” (2006) and “Kolossus” (2008), they released their fifth studio album “Reptilian” to mixed reviews, disillusioned fans, and a suite of inspired new devotees. read more

A combination of factors led to the tumultuous reception. Firstly, this release moved the band ever-further from their beloved early-1990’s pure black metal roots and into cleaner, more melodic territory. More prominent however, was the reaction to the first single The Dragontower. This is a catchy, upbeat, melodic, almost anthemic, pop-edged song that is accessible to the average listener. But the cherry on the maggot-infested pie for die-hard fans was that the band had been invited to participate in the Norwegian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, this song was to be their entry. KEEP OF KALESSIN became the first heavy metal band to compete in the event, an act that, regardless of the quality of input would have upset many metal purists.

Thus, The Dragontower was interpreted as a deviation from their body of work and a blemish on the new album. The Eurovision attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, the band did qualify for the finals but placed third. With the competition running over January and February, by the time the album was released in May of 2010 the band had received months of national exposure and had potentially accessed a whole new audience. The result was that “Reptilian” entered the Norwegian charts at number two. At the time, the only other metal act that had achieved such a feat was DIMMU BORGIR.

So with the Eurovision debacle aside, and now armed with the back story, this album is much easier to understand. The Dragontower is an obvious anomaly on this album and  may sound out of place on your first listen-through. If you can look past the single there is a mixed, but decent album to be enjoyed. Many tracks are rich and heavy in melody, like the churning Dark as Moonless Night while others are frenzied and served with lashings of signature ferocious drumming as in “Judgement”.

The vocals vary from track to track, and even include mesmerising chanting as offered in The Awakening, but overall, the vocal delivery is a far more sobering death style than the shrill black metal of their earlier works. Although thick and heavy, the lyrics manage to be comprehensible and this, combined with the churning guitars and catchy riffs, adds to the accessibility of the album. The closing track Reptilian Majesty is a 14 minute epic full of adventurous twists and turns and is easily my favourite track on the album.

“Reptilian” is a fair album, at times I felt fully immersed. But does it stand the test of time? Was the album damaged by the mainstream, were the poor reviews justified? I suppose you should judge for yourself. 2010 was for better or worse, a significant year for KEEP OF KALESSIN but perhaps tellingly they did not release another full album until 2015.

Proua Metallist

ALLEGAEON – “Fragments of Form and Function”
July 2010, Metal Blade

Backwards in time through a tear in the sky! It’s July of 2010 and ALLEGAEON explode onto the scene with their first full length album “Fragments of Form and Function”, unleashing an onslaught of brilliantly technical guitar and drum verses delivered alongside strong melodies topped off with a mix of heavy complex breakdowns and generous solo work. ALLEGAEON do not restrict themselves when it comes to song structure. Each song delivers its own unique blend of technical death metal, successfully avoiding the use of consistent tempos and riff alignments while also invoking a slog of various hooks along the way. read more

I really enjoy every song off this album but there are two songs that stand out a little bit more than the rest in my eyes. The first one is “The God Particle” which bleeds immediately out the earwormhole “Across the Folded Line”. The song opens with a classic melodic death metal growl and build, followed up by a fast and cutting series of equally rhythmic sections. Don’t let this one fool you however, as it builds in intensity throughout; slowly evolving into a flood of technically elaborate verses and progressions.

The second stand out track and my favourite off the album is “Accelerated Evolution” which starts a blistering score of shreddage delivered with WOLFHEART and BE’LAKOR style melodies infused with the technical prowess of bands like Arsis, and Revocation. But what makes this song so impressionable are the diverse and impressive guitar solos that span the entire song, presenting somewhere around 9 (I lost count) on top of the usual cascade of furious riffs and incredibly hooky choruses. I also have to mention the wonderfully executed Spanish guitar tango that closes out “Biomech – Vals No. 666” as it acts as one of the most memorable moments of “Fragments of Form and Function”

ALLEGAEON do a great job of delivering satisfying and technically dialled death metal that still manages to be incredibly catchy. When paired with the suitably complex futuristic styles of the science and tech subject matter, it makes for an interesting listen that guarantees a substantial workout for any standard issue bionic neck. If you haven’t listened to this album in a while, or never got around to it, do yourself a favour, get in your time machine, and plug into this blast from the past! 

Metal Yeti

HOODED MENACE  – “Never Cross The Dead”
March 2010, Profound Lore Records/Doomentia Records

I was first introduced to HOODED MENACE on this their sophomore effort “Never Cross The Dead” and was immediately drawn into it as I’m also a pushover for slow death/doom. But on this release HOODED MENACE offered an array of slithering doom, mid-tempo but seething bursts of death metal with a strong infusion of melody. Upon listening that combination is what really grasps your attention which is maintained throughout the entirety of “Never Cross The Dead”read more

With 51 minutes of Horror-Death-Doom at its finest and far more melodic than the “Fulfill The Curse” debut which has really added to the sprawling, twisting and decaying grooves throughout. Lasse Pyykkö and Pekka Koskelo taking the death/doom revival from the 90’s to a more modern place, and the result was massive. Drenched in morbid tales of horror, there are no keyboard or acoustic parts to take away from the core essence of “Never Cross The Dead”. This isn’t just a slow burn of monotonous material, as there’s plenty of mid-paced and groovy riffs embedded with immediate death metal bursts throughout that wont allow the listener to slip deep into a state of unconsciousness.

Highlights of the album are everywhere starting with the massive opening title track straight into the rumbling and incredible “Terror Castle” (Lurking shadows in the castle of Frankenstein!) which is one of my favorite death/doom tracks period! Then on to the doom rich highlights with “Night of the Deathcult” and the solemn and sobering favorite “The House of Hammer”; some of the best modern death/doom we’ve heard to date! “Never Cross The Dead” closing out with the heavy groove of “From Their Confined Slumber” and the fascinating instrumental “Theme from Return of the Evil Dead.”

With equal parts from many of my favorite bands such as PARADISE LOST, EDGE OF SANITY, MY DYING BRIDE and CANDLEMASS, “Never Cross The Dead” has returned to my playlists time and time again over the years and I suppose that will continue as the HOODED MENACE catalogue is one of my favorites since 2005 with their five very impressive full-length releases. The band combining heavy and crushing doom with 90’s style death metal to perfection…

Just the way I like it and so will you!

ARCKANUM – “Sviga læ”
18 October 2010, Regain Records

I remember when I saw a flyer announcing the future album of ARCKANUM… I remember thinking to myself, “Will it be as good as “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ”?” “Will be in the same way?” “It will be good”… Well, I didn’t care. I just wanted that album. But… sadly for me and some metalheads at that time, the releases from Regain Records didn’t have such a good distribution in my country due to some issues with the distributor (I do not remember correctly), or maybe those releases were just to be in big shops, I don’t know… But, those shops… They were not for me. read more

So I decided to order directly from the label… Luckily, another friend of mine also wanted this album, plus among other things. So we both ordered almost all we wanted, we paid and we had to wait. Till the day it arrived. Yesssss… I remember that I was like a teenager opening the package, ahahahahahahahahahahah. Taking all the flyers and papers from the box, grabbing all the CDs and some vinyl but looking for just one in particular. “Where is it? Where is it?” And finally… “Sviga læ” was in my hands. 

Many hours, many days I heard this album. It’s a very good album in my opinion. Many people don’t like it and they say that is a weak album. Not so good as “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ” I can admit, but not weak. If it was an album released in nowadays I would rate it as an 8 for sure. “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ” will be a 9. Eheheheh.

2010 was a year of many good releases. Was a year that I bought many things, Vinyl, CDs and many tapes… and… It was not easy to choose one release in order to do this article and tell a bit of my past life.  But I chose this one. An album that all Black Metal lovers should have.

The Key Keeper

ANATHEMA – We’re Here Because We’re Here
May 2010, Kscope Music

I have a huge soft spot for ANATHEMA. I have always had, and I’ll always will. Following the band since their very beginning with “Serenades”, going through every phase of their journey and transformations till this very moment. It is simply, love them a lot! That’s why my natural choice for 2010 was “We’re Here Because We’re Here”, which actually is also my No.1 album for this year in my AOTY list. read more

ANATHEMA have always been my escape, my soulmate in times of trouble, my saviour, my strength. Their music is so soaked with emotions, pains, dreams…letting you drifting away from this world. “We’re Here Because We’re Here” doesn’t make an exception. Well yes, it is definitely much brighter than the first part of ANATHEMA’s discography, more positive, more open, but progressing in the most sincere parts of human soul’s most sacred and intimate places. The album is much cleared from the pure Floyd influences, obvious in “Judgement” and “Natural Disaster”. This is ANATHEMA of their own. “We’re Here…” is sensual and touching; light as summer rain bringing smiles, or heavy as storm for the soul, but both ways bringing cleansing in the end. Always in combination with GREAT lyrics, the songs take you, uplift you, swing you in a The Thin Air, over the Summer Night HorizonIn The Dreaming Light Angels Walk Among Us…Bringing tears, goosebumps, euphoria, heartbeat, tears, tears… because now we are here, because we are here and this moment is the only one which matters. “We are just a moment in time” but let’s go further:

“Life is not the opposite of death. 
Death is the opposite of birth. 
Life is eternal.”

A confession: the album has been with me in a very difficult period in my life few years after its releases. It kept me sane, helped me survive the storm, because it is a stronger storm…

“Only you,
can heal your life.
Only you,
can heal inside.”

Every piece, every moment of every their album is pure gold, bringing you to another state, another world, another experience. This is the MUSIC, ladies and gentlemen! Listen to it! Can you feel it?

“Time can be the answer, 
take a chance or lose it all.
It’s a simple mistake to make, 
to create love and to fall.”

And my darling “You’re just a whisper away”…

Count Vlad

Truly Yours,
Blessed Altar Zine Team

**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre
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