Two years on from ‘Songs of Regression’, UK pagan metallers Nordland really upped the stakes for their forth album ‘European Paganism’. Not only does the album boast a better production value than before, but the band have taken their love of extended tracks to their very logical extreme. Whereas their previous few records offered at least two ten minute workouts, ‘European Paganism’ outdoes them all by presenting just three tracks within a near forty five minute span, with the opening number taking up the best part of half an hour.
On their earlier releases, Zeit’s music has an insanely intense quality. It’s heavy, cold and deliberately under-produced – everything you’d expect from a German depressive black metal/noise rock trio – but at the same time, those recordings push black metal into interesting and occasionally industrial climes. Listening to those EPs, you could wonder what depths of despair led to the creation of such confronting noise.
It very much seemed that by the end of 2016 there were very few places across the globe that hadn’t been affected by a plague of black metal. Bands were springing up in some very unlikely places and seemingly on a weekly basis. No longer just the product of various Scandinavian territories and a few other places, for such a niche genre, black metal seemed to be big business (relatively speaking, of course). While many bands seemed happy to screech and hiss their way down a familiar path, there genre still had other avenues to explore.
How to describe Satarial? Aside from possessing a broad extreme metal tendency, this Moscow based outfit are almost impossible to pigeonhole. A rather clumsy description might be “operatic battle black metal”. It sounds implausible, but that’s kind of where the bulk of their inspiration comes from on their 2016 release ‘Blessed Brigit’. It should be a mess; it should be so confrontational that almost no-one would want to listen…but, somehow, their noisy sound collages are fascinating in their aural brutality – and after over a decade of plying their ugliness, the fact that they still sound so original and so vibrant is no mean feat.
Originally featuring members from the Ukraine and Hungary, NordWitch formed at the beginning of 2015. Although firmly selling themselves as blackened death metal, it’s only ever really frontwoman Masha’s vocal style that holds them to that, since so many of the tunes on their debut ‘Mørk Profeti’ have more variety than your average blackened death band. For starters, none of this release is blighted by the cold sheets of sound so often associated with black metal; the band much prefer to concentrate on classic contemporary death styles, but take things further by mixing those traditions with the melodicism associated with early In Flames and the more extreme elements of Soilwork.