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.
Scandinavia has never been short of extreme metal bands, but there’s always room for more! Funeralglade is a new melodic death metal/deathcore band from Finland, trading in huge riffs and a fearsome bottom end. With the members all still in their teens, their debut release ‘May The Funeral Begin’ (released via Inverse Records on August 18th) very much marks the beginning of a musical journey for these musicians, but the presence and weight of their riffs is well beyond their years.
Towards the end of 2016, Canadian doom merchants The White Swan unleashed their debut EP. Although just offering the discerning riff-junkie just three tracks, on ‘Anubis’, Mercedes Lander and her crew of heavyweight sludge lovers proved that quality always wins out over quality. Between the band’s own ‘Blood’ – a perfect fusion of heaviness and an odd, treacly psychedelia – and the heaviest version of Wings’ ‘Jet’ ever – hearing is believing – the release was an instant classic. Several months on, their eagerly awaited follow up doesn’t so much pick up where the previous tracks left off, but tries its utmost to smash the previous efforts into smithereens [in this case, meaning a thousand pieces; at no point do The White Swan attempt to put their heaviest stamp upon anything written by Pat DiNizio, but it might be a fun idea…]
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.