Sunday, 2 November 2014

Written In Torment - "Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes"

Written In Torment is a one man solo project hailing from picturesque Harrowgate, Yorkshire and is the brainchild of Leviathan.  Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes (latin for "The war of all against all", which coincidentally is the description that is given in the nature thought experiment "Leviathan") is the first full length release after a very successful EP, and it even features guest session keyboardist Jonny Maulding of Bal-Sagoth fame. It was released via Glorious North Productions on 14th May 2013.

Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes main theme is based on warfare (as the explanation of the title suggests). It's hard hitting, spiteful and vindictive black metal with a completely unique sound within the UKBM scene. Instead of repetitive riffs and tinny blast beats that's common in a lot of venomous black metal, there's skilled guitar work, melodic keys and an undertone of classic and decent thrash/death metal. The vocals are less "screechy" and have more depth and clarity, but still stays firmly in the "black metal sound". From start to finish no 2 songs sound alike, and even the album as a whole is hard to compare to other artists work as the sound is rather unique. This album's bedrock is great musicianship which very clearly can be heard throughout each track, from tremolos and hypnotic rhythm guitar to a variant of machine gunfire drums and well choreographed percussion. The bass is very rarely heard in the mix, but every so often it strays from the rythum guitar to follow a very melodic pattern with the vocals. 

The production on this album is fantastic, even though it isn't produced in a fashion that's typical of black metal (I.e gritty DIY sound). It transforms the album further, you can pick apart and properly listen to each track, which is very refreshing to hear. Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes has been in the works for 7 long years, but it's been well worth the wait. I can't really fault the album at all, although I'd recommend the first time listening to it should be in a distraction free environment, so you can really appreciate it from the first instance. 

I recently read that the UKBM scene was full of "bands and projects that release substandard music on underground, inaccessible labels and yet somehow still consider themselves to be black metal gods. This assembly of amateur musicians that support themselves and each other in their pathetic musical ventures has caused most black metal fanatics to cease interest in the UK". Not only does Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes completely obliterate this statement but the previous albums I've reviewed and come into contact with do too.  Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes shows to rest of the world what the UK is made of.

You can still purchase Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes here.

Find out more about Written In Torment via their Facebook page. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Witchclan - "The Dark Binding"

Witchclan are back with their second album "The Dark Binding" (Elvester Records/Darkness Shade Records) which has been released today (31st October 2014), and it easily tops the previous album "Misanthropist" by miles. I was instantly drawn into this album by the first track, compared to "Misanthropy" the vocals and instruments have more of a natural, raw aggression and in turn it gives the album more of darker, sinister feel.

Something that I picked up whilst listening to "The Dark Binding" (especially on the track "Dawn Of The Serpent Kings") is the use of the keys and samples. Throughout the album they only seem to be used as a secondary instrument, less obvious in this album compared to "Misanthropist", but the times they are used the atmosphere is increased tenfold. 

The whole feel of the album rests solely on the vocals and guitar, which again have drastically improved since the last album (even though I didn't think that was possible, as I rank "Misanthropist" highly in my personal favourites), this time round the drums and bass are much lower in the mix (in the background for those who aren't familiar with the technical side of music) which gives the album a very early 90's demo era feel.

It has to be said that there's a lot going on in this album, and if you're only into "lighter" more mainstream black metal "The Dark Binding" could be very overwhelming on the first listen and the whole point of the album will go right over your head. However,  if you're into demo era Darkthrone/Emperor etc. then this album is perfect for you. "The Dark Binding" is easily my favourite album of the year, and again Witchclan are continuing to prove that the UK still has a very active and amazing black metal scene.

"The Dark Binding" is available in a variety of different formats and packages, including the very limited edition "High Priest" package. 

You can find out more information or order them here.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Witchclan - "Misanthropist"

Witchclan originally started off as a 3 piece band in the early 90's, only to be put to rest in '95 after releasing 2 demos. One of the founding members Matt Bass resurrected Witchclan as a solo project in '09, and released a further 2 demos as Misanthropist was being created. Misanthropist was released on the 31st of October 2011, via Dark Shade Records. 

You can easily hear that Witchclan originated from the early 90's as the album as a whole has a very "2nd wave" feel about it. However, unlike other bands that originated in the same era and reformed within the past few years (or never even went on a hiatus) Misanthropist doesn't re-tread the same ground over again. Each song is completely different, yet they all have a distinct sound that Witchclan have coined. A few tracks that stand out for myself is "Through Nordic Lands", "Conqueror" and especially "Beyond The Grave" and the cover of Darkthrone's "In The Shadow Of The Horns". Unlike my other reviews I feel I am unable to pick a part this album track by track due to its uniqueness. Admittedly, it needs to be listened to a few times to see where you actually stand with the album as a whole (but what album doesn't need a thorough listen to before a final judgement?). However, after listening to Misanthropist at least 30 times since it has recently came into my possession I can safely say that it's a beacon of light in the dark regarding the UKBM scene. 

Misanthropist leeches onto your soul so to speak, each song can be interpreted differently depending on the listeners mood and surroundings. Every listen you discover parts that makes you more engaged with the tracks the more you listen to them. As a whole Misanthropist is a never ending piece, each listen is a new journey into the mind of Witchclan, and I can safely say to anyone who feels as if the Black Metal scene has died a long, long time ago that they should listen to this album. You will be proved wrong. 

You can purchase Misanthropist here.

Also, you can find out more about Witchclan via Facebook and

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Lunarsapian - "Fade Into Oblivion"

Lunarsapian are a 2 piece Drone/Doom band hailing from Clevedon (UK) and Alabama (USA). The members are "Scott K" (vocals and lyrics) and "Matt TK" (pretty much everything else). After a handful of successful demos, Fade Into Oblivion is their first full length album. Almost an hour of blackened and even suicidal Drone/Doom. An exceptional piece, with each song having the ability to be interpreted differently by the listeners preferences and mood.

It starts off with the track "Death Is All I Want". The vocals are pained and raw, the bass is high up on the mix and the percussion faded into the background. With the added effects and the tone of the guitar it gives the song a great atmosphere. A real dark depth, and it's safe to say it works very, very well. Towards the end of the track it gets darker, vocals are more prominent, guitar is a constant feature and it sounds more powerful as a whole. The track closes the same way as it starts, a distorted voice clip, but the way it's been edited it sounds like an slightly incomprehensible emergency broadcast, with the distortion it really adds to the sense of impending doom.

The next track is "Divide and Conquer". Starts straight away with a thick guitar sound, crisp sounding drum track and like track 1, raw powerful vocals. This time the effects are more subtle and the drums slightly more dominant. For me the effects (especially the wind) seems to pan more from the left, giving the song a more natural feel, which adds to the atmosphere and works well. Towards the end of the track the drums seem to subtly fade, and everything seems to have more of a haze. The guitar getting sharper, vocals drifting in and out, and the drums drifting between volumes. This works incredibly well with the song as a whole, with that and ending on a natural stormy sound it really does give you a feeling of desolation. 

The Craft and the Witch is the third track, that starts off with a medieval doom feel. As if it's a time of persecution and the plague is rife. The choice of samples for the intro are great. The vocal sample and what I can only describe as a "the old times" sound work fantastic together. It's the shortest track on the album, but by far the most atmospheric. 

As I Tie My Noose is by far my favourite track on the album, possibly even my favourite of the year. It starts off with howling winds and then just kicks you with powerful distorted guitar work and raw, desolate vocals. The production again is brilliant, it has the raw desire and need that every Black Metal track should have, but then has a very clear mix when the piano comes in. Even then it keeps the pure destruction in the vocals, and when  the guitar and bass kicks back in it's still as powerful whilst holding an even mix of the two too. If my world was to end any time soon, As I Tie My Noose would be my death track. 11 1/2 minutes of bliss.

Drowning In Blood is the 5th and final track of the album. It starts with the classic "transmitter fuzz" and sharp drums, closely joined by a powerful bass track and strained vocals that fits the track well. Even though it's more slower than the previous tracks, it's definitely more hostile.  Perfect soundtrack for a Cannibal Holocaust type situation, and a great way to finish the album. 

The album as a whole gave me an apocalyptic, smothering feel. Almost like drowning. Easily one of the best underground releases of the year.

You can get Fade Into Oblivion here.

You can also find the band here.