“If you are a false, don’t entry!” And if you are a false, do enter, because the only rule of this weekly section, in which we present you three short blurbs on music we are currently listening to, is that we are under no circumstance allowed to press the enter key. All of these little reviews shall thus consist of one paragraph only. The more this rule renders the blurb illegible, the more the writer has failed. Check back every Friday for a fresh haul of Don’t Enter.
Ideally, demos present an idea before the artist decides to go on and record ‘the real thing’. Plenty of black metal bands stick to just making demos, because demos equal street cred in da scene. Regardless of such annoying pretences, we’ve chosen these two filthy demos for you to check out this week. And remember, none is forgiven.
Gohr al Krohn – La cour de Lucifer | France, 1999
If you are reading these reviews then there is more than a passing chance that you fell ravenously upon this genre in your adolescent years. Cast your mind back – do you remember the thrill of it all back then, before there was an excess of sub-sub-genres rattling round? Back when all that you wanted was castles, moonlight, majesty, and just the sheer enthusiasm on the part of the artist would convey this rather than oodles of technical wankery? Valnoir of Metastazis does. Known primarily for his iconoclastic design work, Valnoir also dabbled in music and this release represents his earliest material, hailing from the founding year of Metastazis, 1999 (also the subject of his release with Glaciation). Typically I am no fan of ‘symphonic’ aspects, when they turn up I tend to turn off, repelled by the plastic fangs and velvet cloaks brigade which rely on casio synths to mask a lack of innovation or belief. However, with the attractively named Gohr al Krohn, Valnoir takes through a bombastic journey through thunderous drums, church organs and a mixture of interesting vocals. Numerous effects lie beneath the surface, sounds of clanging metal, strange bubbles, reversed voices, adding to a sense of unease which marries well with the grand thematic style. The riffs are icy, there’s a sense of the dramatic throughout and that magisterial atmosphere seeps through the recordings. What carries this album though is the sheer joy which Valnoir seems to have in recording it. It has that exuberance of the passionate fan trying his own hand, paying homage to his heroes and having a damned good time in the process – in this jaded world of post-post-black urban metalgaze where quality is often hard to come by. Not perfect by any means in terms of musicianship, but black metal was never really about that, and what shines through is authenticity through devotion. It cannot be bought, but in this genre it can thankfully be sold. So go out there and buy this tape, it will allow you to dive back into our own nostalgia and visit that lovely satanic castle in your imagination which you thought long gone. |MDL
Zemial – Necrolatry | Greece, 1996
Throughout most of its career, Zemial‘s sound has boiled down to being an excellent tribute to Bathory. Mind that the intention here is not to accuse the band of a lack of originality. Rather, Zemial takes the best aspects of Bathory‘s discography and executes them with a far higher degree of technical proficiency while also adding some Greek seasoning to spice the whole thing up. The 1996 demo Necrolatry is inspired by the earlier, ‘thrashy’ phase of Bathory‘s sound. Across 4 or 5 songs (depending on the version you go by; the re-release compilation with Face of the Conqueror features the extra song “Breath of the Pestilence”), Zemial delivers crummy, garnish-less old-school black metal with the accuracy of a precision strike and the devastation of a carpet bombing. Drum virtuoso Vorskaath handles the vocals and bass in addition to his percussive duties, while his brother Eskarth (Agatus) is in charge of the guitars. While later Zemial is characterised by a meticulous, perfectly balanced production, Necrolatry sees Vorskaath clearly favour the drums and the bass. It makes for the non-chalant, unpolished garage sound that you would expect on an underground metal demo. Make no mistake, though: Vorskaath and Eskarth are some of the finest musicians to rise from the Greek metal underground (where they face some stiff competition, to say the least), and even on this scruffy 4-track analogue recording, their on-point musicianship and engaging compositions betray their professionalism. Zemial would go on to record several EPs and two excellent albums, In Monumentum and Nykta, across which they explore Bathory‘s epic Viking sound before eventually diving into a more progressive niche. While all of those releases are worthwhile if not obligatory, it is hard to resist going back to Zemial in its most simple yet brutal form. Let the Breath of the Pestilence melt your ugly face off! |Degtyarov
The featured picture is a teaser created by Metastazis to promote the Gohr al Krohn tape.
Mistake corrected: Necrolatry was released in 1996, and not in 1997 as stated earlier.