Switzerland isn’t always known for it’s metal bands. Celtic Frost are arguably the country’s finest hard rock/metal exports, closely followed by Krokus, but compared to neighbouring Germany, they’ve never been the biggest players on the musical map. Obviously, size is a factor. That said, black metallers Pure make more noise than about fifty metal bands playing simultaneously and their 2017 release ‘J’aurais Du’ is a frightening experience to say the least.
The Father of Serpents is a six headed beast comprised from members of various Serbian extreme metal bands. The combination of their talents hoped to recreate the sounds of classic doom with a melodic death metal edge, taking the mantle from established bands like (early) Paradise Lost, (early) My Dying Bride and Cathedral. It doesn’t take too long after hitting the play button on their 2017 release ‘Age of Damnation’ before it’s obvious that the vision they’d hoped for has been reproduced in a spectacular fashion.
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.
Dark Phantom’s beginnings stretch back to 2007, though due to very unsettled political climate in Iraq, the band wouldn’t make any headway until two years later. Their early musical endeavours were met with some hostility in their home country – or they would have been, had they been heard. In the band’s own words, with regard to playing such music: “under an Al Queda controlled situation, death was a consequence.” Still, Dark Phantom toiled, playing cover tunes at first, but eventually crafting their own sounds. Their first gig in their home city of Kirkuk in 2011 attracted a crowd, but also resulted in terror groups attacking the band’s online community. In 2012, they underwent a major line up change as their vocalist and drummer left the band and sought work in other areas “for safety reasons”. To say the journey from band formation to album release was a hard and dangerous undertaking would be an understatement. Against the odds and after years of determination, Dark Phantom finally released ‘Nation of Dogs’ – an album of hard-hitting, self-penned material at the end of 2016.