The Song Of A Long Forgotten Ghost: A Beginner’s Guide To Dungeon Synth Music Part 1 (The Origins and Roots)

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As the old saying goes “Whatever is old is new again.” The saying can be applied to music in 2017 that is influenced by the dark, medieval-inspired ambient music of Norwegian black metal artists such as Burzum, and most of all Mortiis(ex-bassist of Emperor). Of all things to pop back up on the radar of 2017, this is probably the one that I am having the most fun with. Not just listening to, but writing about as well. Definitely in terms of this newly coined sub-genre, carefully and aptly called Dungeon Synth, it does not take itself oh-so-seriously(Not yet anyways!) but still sticking to the core sound and ethos of all those great pieces of music that I more or less grew-up listening to and letting my imagination run wild in total nerd-like fashion in the 90’s. Pre-Internet era had some major fucking advantages – as well as disadvantages – when it came to music, especially this kind. Much like 90’s black metal, this was all wrapped in a shroud of mystique and a veil of obscurity. Where as most of my classmates where out doing god-knows-what, your favorite blogger was in his bedroom trying to find and read as much as I could through Metal Maniacs and fanzines ordered. Totally left me day-dreaming on sunny school afternoons in the hot Florida weather about stuff like castles, dank moldy dungeons, and all sorts of cool nerdy shit. Yeah I may be eating member berries here but in all honesty, it’s the most fun I’ve had with member berries. It’s also a breath of fresh air from the now over-saturated Synthwave fad. Plus this is all one giant excuse for me to break out the jamz and NERD THE FUCK OUT!

I also need to note that not only will I discuss the importance of Norway in this series, but also delve into what led up and inspired Norway to start tapping on their Casio keyboards as well. I’ll also discuss the primary Norwegian artists who took from a previous generation and gave birth to what is happening now in 2017. Also I always give credit where credit is due and there are several other websites that have touched upon this subject and gone further into it more than I might possibly. Bandcamp.com were the first to break open the pandora’s box on this new form of music earlier this year.  No Clean Singing has done a really excellent job and has their own series going for them and I highly recommend checking them out. NCS even named shit that I never even heard of back then, so while reminiscing of old times, I also got a good history lesson on a sub-genre that expanded way past the fjords of Dungeon Synth epic-center in Norway. So let us begin this discussion with some pieces from of this new explosion of sp00ky music. Starting with it’s origins and roots:

ORIGINS OF AMBIENT SYNTH MUSIC IN BLACK METAL:


Possibly the earliest example of the concept of an extreme metal band using dark ambient influences in their music. And what other artists besides the mythological and legendary Tom G. Warrior (Hellhammer/Celtic Frost/Triptykon) to fucking look decades ahead of him with his usual visions of mortality? If anything this track from the classic “Morbid Tales” EP is more Goblin-inspired. It sounds like it was taken from the “Susperia” soundtrack than anything Tangerine Dream did in the 80’s. More horror-based than fantasy if anything. For 1984, I’m sure this was truly terrifying.


Canada’s Blasphemy are another black metal artist who more or less was ahead of the curve. The intro to their 1989 “Blood From The Altar” demo was less soundtrack inspired, and way more ritual chant-ish. And the said can be said for the even better “Winds Of The Black Godz” intro to their classic 1990 “Fallen Angel of Doom” LP. It could be noted that the Nords took more influence from these rabid Canucks in terms of direction in the early days than trying to worry about how synths could be tied in with cheesy symphonic elements that would later happen and completely water the effects of synth keyboards and fucking up the entire concept of ambiance and atmosphere. Hell, even Mayhem weren’t this spooky ambient-sounding with their “Silvester Anfang” intro to their “Deathcrush” demo which itself was released in 1987 a mere two years before Blasphemy. Which now brings me to the discussion of Norway of this series.

ROOTS OF DUNGEON SYNTH:


Although not what one would think of Dungeon Synth, Mayhem‘s “Silvester Anfang” would be the earliest usages of ambient music used by a Norwegian band done in a very dark nature and made none other than Conrad Schnitzler of the ever-influential Tangerine Dream. This track was the opening song for the now legendary “Deathcrush” demo by Norway’s Mayhem. For all intents and purposes, Euronymous was definitely forward thinking even during Mayhem’s most rawest and primitive form. In fact, because of Euronymous….this was the green light for 2nd wave Norwegian Black Metal artist to pry and use ambient pieces and passages to use in their music that still happens to this very fucking day.


Burzum‘s  “Han Som Reiste” is probably the next piece of dark ambient music to come into existence. Released around the same summer as the first Mortiis demo, Burzum’s take is less military-esque drum march sounding and more dreary-sounding giving is a more ominous vibe. Again for only one or two songs and not an entire album of this. Even though Mortiis would be the first to release an entire demo/album of synth music, for Varg to release such a feat that would come years down the road. It also should be noted that next to Mortiis, his ambient material was the best. The major difference between Varg of Burzum and Mortiis was that Varg’s ambient material was more historically and culturally-influence as opposed to the straight out fantasy landscape that Mortiis created.


Wongraven was a side-project of Satyricon members. By 1995 just damn near every Norweigian musician had an ambient side-project or every Norweigian band were using synths or ambient passages in their music mixing it with black metal. This album never really popped-up on my radar that much back in the day. People knew about it, but it didn’t get the amount of speak as say Burzum, Mortiis, or even Summoning.


Austria’s Summoning was probably one of the bigger names outside of Norway/Sweden that was mentioned when discussing about Dungeon Synth at the time. Over time Summoning would go more orchestral and symphonic-sounding. Think of a black metal version of Sweden’s Therion for that particular period. But for their first handful of releases, they were strictly ambient/synth. A big thing was that while Mortiis stayed more strictly to mythological Norwegian creatures and moldy castle basements, Summoning picked-up on what Varg was doing in Burzum and went full-force and saying “Yeah it’s total Lord Of The Rings/Dungeons & Dragons nerd shit going on here. Nothing dark about us, we’re just trying to roll a 7 or 8 in hopes of defeating the Swamps demons so our horses don’t get stuck in the Marshlands.” I’m sure if my fiancee’ were to read this, she would hang her head in shame and think “God he is such a fucking NERD!” Sorry Babe :/


Germany took a stab at the whole Norway thing with Depressive Silence. Both their “The Darkened Empires” and “Depressive Silence” demos are interesting in the fact that this was pretty obscure even to me. In fact I will note that while doing this, I had to do my detective work to find more earlier 90’s pieces of Dungeon Synth music. Depressive Silence is still medieval, but it’s a shade or so lighter that the Norwegians. Not as dark and brooding. Still very troll-y. There’s even parts that are very classical-inspired as well. I’m pretty surprised and proof positive if I had heard this as a teen in the 90’s, I would worship this next to Mortiis’ discography.


Neptune Towers was Darkthrone‘s very own Fenriz’s take on Norway obsession with dark ambient synth music. Only he took his to a more psychedelic/classic Tangerine Dream route possibly keeping it closer to the roots at what Mayhem did on their “Deathcrush” demo than Mortiis or Burzum did. I wouldn’t say that Neptune Towers is a direct influence but it should definitely be noted as well for future reference. Going back and listening to this, has it aged well? Meh. It’s still good, but this is definitely geared more towards proggy nerds and the like.


Varg had been toying with ambient music on his albums tastefully and wonderfully for years but never going into full-album delivery. He finally did with the 1997 release of music he originally wrote in prison in late 1994/1995. The first of two releases he did was titled “Dauði Baldrs” which originally was not well-received and seen a bit as a dud. Then a year or so after that release, here comes a second full-length dark ambient album titled “Hliðskjálf” which in turn is the better out LP out of the two. The second song, “Ansuzgardaraiwô” is wallet-worthy and a testament to Varg’s ability to craft better music than actual life decisions whether you agree with him or not. 

That is the end of the first part of this series. I know what you are thinking……where the fuck is Mortiis? I know I’ve name-dropped him several times already and haven’t posted any pieces by him. I guess you will have to wait until the next part of the Dungeon Synth Series where I dedicate an entire section to the artist and go into all-out nerd fandom mode. Until then, keep it creepy, ooky, and all-together sp00ky.

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Language: The Art Of Watering Down

Neill Jameson (who I’m sure you’re by now familiar with) wrote a think-tank piece about the continuing entropy-like process that is happening to the concept and abstract idea of having a logical and mature adult conversation on social media on just about ANYTHING one says. He also spoke of some artist which I am still very confused with and having conflicting feelings about. Much like your Dad when he was having a tough time deciding between purchasing Swank Magazine and “Guys Butts Drive Me Nuts Vol.8” on VHS back in the 80’s.  Anyway, crass humor aside, Neill explains that now we’re getting to the point where discussion is all but a meaningless futile high school debate team class in session, but fuck if high school kids aren’t at times more mature than adults in 2017. He says that “These days, trying to have civil discourse—especially in the realm of metal—is like attempting to force feed a newborn an entire watermelon. I’m sure it can be done, if cartoons taught me anything, but the baby will just bitch that it wasn’t in season.” I for one cannot argue with this statement. But that got me to wondering; if the idea and concept of an actual discussion is going out the window then what the fuck is happening to the language that we are using? Don’t worry, I won’t lecture you about any bullshit preferred pronouns or anything dealing with the politically correct. I’ll leave that up to Metalsucks along with the white guilt. You won’t find any of that here.

This particular think-tank piece Neill Jameson wrote was inspired by an artist who parades around with the label “black metal” but is nothing except the pure hipster irony- full of sassy wit – much like fucking everything in 2017 with the exception having accidently been diagnosed with an infected scrotum. The said artist’s MUSIC wasn’t terrible by any means but was still fucking lazy and uninspired even though the music could have passed off at a C- in my book. And in the lengthy 300+ comment conversation that inspired Neill’s article, all I read were the same old comments and excuses and defenses, etc. about “tr00 kvlt” and “elitists.” Constant finger-pointing and jabs at things that don’t really fucking exist in 2017. And it made me again ask the ol’ question that ever since I started this blog, I have been asking which is loudly screaming in my mind “WHERE ARE THESE SO-CALLED FUCKING ELITISTS?” and what the fuck exactly is “kvlt” in 2017?

This lead me to realizing not only discussions are in danger of extinction, but language in and of itself. When we start tagging certain words onto anything we don’t agree with we not only end up in an upside down world where Donald Trump is President, and fully grown adults believe that the Earth is actually flat. It’s also where loudmouth toxic cis scum such as myself take a step back and starts calling bullshit on everything. Much like using the word “racist” in 2017 where it’s damn-near lost all meaning and value through over-usage. You can add words such as “elitist,” “kvlt” and just about any other preferred snub at the underground that you can think of to that list. Any word that can be used against die-hards and maniacs in the underground, or anyone that is extremely passionate about non-mainstream forms of music are constantly targeted as the bane of music’s existence. Which is funny to me because given my age (I’m hurtling towards 35 in March btw), because a lot of these words meant something completely different 20 years ago when I was 14 going onto 15. Yes I understand I’m reaching my old man yelling at the clouds stage in life, but there’s a point to what I yell at.

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“Oh you don’t like Sacred Son? Sorry that not everyone can listen to tr00 kvlt bands 24/7 such as you, but a lot of us see the irony in it and that’s what mainly counts in music these days nevermind that the music is worth fuck all.” 

History Lesson: In 1997 the word “elitist” didn’t even fucking EXIST for the most part. Nor did it find it’s way into the magazines such as Metal Edge, Circus Magazine, or Hit Parader. “Elitist” use to mean that you were or you considered yourself of the same quality of music as Norway. That was strictly a black metal musician’s term. And if you used it improperly you were given death threats or had dead rats sent to your mailbox as a way of calling you out on your bullshit. “KVLT” was originally “cult” which originally meant something pretty obscure. And in pre-Internet times, obscure was abundant. It was something that you HAD to go out, do your detective work, search for the clues that lead to whatever it was that you were looking for. Now anyone with a WiFi signal and access to Youtube can find anything at a click of a button in less than a second. Completely bypassing the time and patience it took in a generation or so prior to search out and develop an honest and passionate fan level appreciation for the artist. Nowadays, any two-bit mainstream deathcore band that wears white belts and vintage Death Row Records shirts from Hot Topic uses “elitists” as a way to lash out at their fans who basically say “Your new album sucks balls and you’re full of shit if you are trying to fool anyone by saying that you are ‘progressing’ and ‘evolving.'” Or if you are a fan and you think something is horseshit, you are called an ‘elitist’ and thought of as some basement-dweller that only listens to crappy NSBM bands that only has 50 copies of their demo on cassette form. Or some other over-used stereotype like that. But why Metal? Noise genre musicians are the leaders in terms of obscurity if we are comparing apples to oranges. In fact Noise artists puts Black Metal to shame as far as limited releases and obscurity. Nobody gives Noise artists any shit for such genre characteristics. And on top of that if there is one thing I have noticed is that if there are actual elitists of the metal kind out there, then they are keeping to themselves. Why? Because someone who is actually something doesn’t go around professing it and telling everyone. And if you a person who does the opposite, I can personally see thru your transparency. It’s like some chalk-white, stock motherfucker going around saying “I’m a funny dude’ and has the comedy level of Amy Schumer. In other words; you are NOT funny. So if you are a self-proclaimed “elitist”…..I can assure you that you more than likely listen to 87th rate bands that sound worse than the 50th rate bargain bin bands I listened to when you were still in your Avenged Sevenfold phase, dude. In the amount of time that I’ve been listening to underground Metal for the past 20 years, I can honestly fucking say that I have met/talked to possibly no more people than what I can count on my right hand that actually defined the term “elitist.” That’s about 5 total. These individuals for one do NOT even remotely talk to people on social media, let alone jump into a fucking Youtube comment section and argue with some snot-nosed 18 year old who is trying to revision the past.

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“Despite all of your valid points, I just called you a tr00 kvlt elitst through the usage of my wit. I win the argument. I was born in 1994 btw.” – Metal Discussions in 2017

And it doesn’t stop there.  The word “kvlt” is a meme as well. That word went from being regular ol’ ‘cult’ to having a shitload of tourists come in, steal and use it in the cringe form of “kvlt.” Don’t even get me started on the word “tr00.” “tr00” use to mean “true” which again use to actually meaning something. It meant you were getting the real deal Holyfield of music. When used in terms of black metal, it usually meant a band with real convictions, a dedication to general negativity, and all-around fucked-up individuals that made everyone around you think you beyond any help. Now, along with “kvlt” it’s also used in meme-worthy internet jargon. It doesn’t mean jack shit outside of someone replying to your statement. A good example would be “Oh you don’t like Sacred Son because you are some tr00 kvlt person that only listens to horribly produced music that sounds like it’s from 1998.” Which is sad because how does one differentiate between something that is OBVIOUSLY watered-down, plastic, disposable crap and something that is more durable, time-worthy, wallet-worthy, and actually DOES deserve the music fan’s support. The same goes for words such as “real.”  Hell even the word “Metal” is associated with a couple 12 year old Japanese girls who’s record label’s A&R executives should be fired and sent to prison for promoting a disgusting new form of kiddie porn. A lot of the coded language that the underground redefined itself with for the majority of the 90’s has sadly become nothing more than euphemistic wording that is associated with memes. And two-second wittiness and cheap jokes. And some people don’t actually know the difference between what’s real and authentic and something that is fake and a fucking joke.

If there is a resolution I can propose to this minor problem that continues to force me to yell a what seems like a brick wall, is to basically do this: treat others with respect and not sound like an insufferable condescending butthole. Yes, I understand that most of what I write may come off that, but the main difference I try to do is to possible educate, look for alternatives, and try to get people to have a better understanding of certain things and hope for the best. I know that is a pipe dream at the end of the day, but like I said; it’s 2017 and anything is fucking possible. I mean if Sacred Son can come along and try to pass his music off on those of us who know better then I know we as the collective Metal underground can find ways to be the better man, use our heads and try having a civil discussion even when you have people throwing words out  at us because they simply disagree with us despite our conservative stance on things. All while us saying “Fuck you” nicely. It’s possible and it’s it’s one of the things I am being optimistic about. Reason being is that regardless of my age and weird fucking time-frame I currently live in, I still love the underground. I still love black metal. I still love bands that use the whole corpse paint and spike-y image even though I would prefer that Americans leave that shit to the Euros when it comes to black metal imagery. I still do get giddy whenever I see younger generations take an actual general interest in black metal for the right reasons. I’m not completely without optimism.

Aside from my complaints and grievances, I’m not actually worried. The underground does have one thing to it’s advantage, and that it has a way of re-defining itself to go against the grain. It has it’s inner machinations that keeps itself at a relatively safe distance from mainstream society despite seeing the masses of Slipknot fans in FB comment sections worrying about Kim Kardashian wearing a fucking Morbid Angel shirt. These are the types of people turn around who laugh at terrible Metal memes that have Abbath from Immortal in it standing next to a cat in a bathtub and it says something fucking facepalm-inducing such as “This cat is about to take ABBATH!” (No I didn’t laugh btw) Bottom line: If you go by the words used by people who don’t listen to Metal (that statement is directed at mainly certain websites, not naming names btw), but still try to govern what you are and are not allowed to listen to, then yeah you’re lost on that one and I really can’t help you. But if you are a logical and rational human being who enjoys critical thinking and doesn’t hop onto one of the many online social media dog-piles, then congratulations for getting this far into 2017: You’ve already proven yourself worthy to talk to on FB. Believe it, Comrades.

Artist Spotlight: Neill Jameson of Krieg

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Neill Jameson: He makes beautiful family-friendly music. I can assure you.

This is something really special that I am glad I got the opportunity to do: Decibel Magazine ranter, Krieg frontman, and all-around black metal father figure Neill Jameson is having a rather busy summer. On top of just releasing a new side-project Poison Blood thru Relapse Records, he just recently announced that he was re-releasing music from Krieg as well as new music from other bands under his new label, aptly called Black House Industries. So in light of all those releases, I decided to do an artist spotlight reviewing the releases he’s been hacking away at. Starting this spotlight will be the first release under his record label. For the uneducated, this isn’t the first time Neill has released music under his own record label. He originally ran Blood Fire Death Records starting in 1998 and unleashed a slew of releases by artists such as Xasthur, Loss, Demoncy, Pest, Archgoat, Lugubrum, and a few others. Fast-forward to 2017; in typical Neill fashion, he announced the first release of Black House Industries in a rather bluntly and sarcastic-like fashion that he is known to . Already he has one release that is going to get the ol’ razzle dazzle treatment on his label. Me being a long time fan of Mr. Jameson was granted the honor of reviewing these various releases. Admittedly, I started boofin’ pretty hard whenever I got the promo(s) in my Gmail account. But enough of my fanboy nerding-out and let’s see what jamz he has prepared to be shat in everyone’s ear canals during this extremely humid and stormy summer shall we?

Future TerrorWe’re All Fucked (2017) Black House Industries

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First up we have the very first release on his new label which is Future Terror, a Hardcore Punk band based out of Richmond, Virgina. Without listening to the actual music and judging by the artwork, I already knew what I was in for: Hardcore Punk in the vein of Discharge/Tragedy/Extreme Noise Terror/Doom(UK). I’ve been on a bit of a Hardcore drought since last year’s excellent “Never” LP by Withdrawal. That album and the new Integrity LP are the only albums that have registered on my radar in the past year or so when it comes to that specific genre. But within the first 10 seconds of the wonderfully and sardonically-tiled “Conned By God,” I am lost within the noise. Not in a bad way by any means. Whenever I loose myself in music, it’s always a good thing. It’s there that I personally feel at peace with the current tense climate of a dysfunctional society. Understanding that the UK-influenced US band might not exactly be doing anything as outside of the box as Withdrawal pulling in post-punk/goth rock influences, or even Integrity dabbling in black metal influences. But then again I’m not some stickler for needing something original each and every time I listen to a new band. Hell, I am just happy there are still bands like Future Terror carrying on the traditions and ethos of the UK noise-making bunch and act like they have a sense of urgency. An urgency that screams either play riffs or die and get the fuck out of the way.  Especially when you take into account with a song title such as ‘You Think You Are So Special.” A total un-PC iron fist-in-the-face of modern-day society. Bottom line: This is the shit I like and would highly recommend these jamz to anyone who is needing a good shot of adrenaline-speed Hardcore Punk. Definitely made for those who are still pissed at the last Amebix album for not being crusty enough or not sounding like it’s 1985. “We’re All Fucked” will be released this Friday, September the 8th and is limited to 100 copies on clear yellow cassette w/1.5″ pin.

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KriegSono Lo Scherno (2017) Inferna Profundis Records

Originally recorded in 1998, but never released until 2005, “Sono Lo Scherno” was meant to be the follow-up to the first Krieg album “Rise Of The Imperial Hordes” but for whatever reason, frontman Neill Jameson decided to keep it in the vaults until sometime later. To be completely honest with this one, I had a copy of this I got waaaaaay back in 2008 or 2009 that I purchased but I never got around to fully listen to. I’ve been very familiar with Krieg since first hearing the US Black/Thrash band Blood Storm name drop them in Slayer ‘Zine issue #15 in the early 00’s. Outside of that trivia bit about myself, I couldn’t give you a legit reason or excuse why I never listened to this album. As I am writing this, I’m experiencing it for the first time, and I’m legit a bit blown away by how it sounds absolutely nothing like what Krieg is known for, especially from the time period it was originally written. It’s weird because listening to this now in 2017, it sounds completely alien yet familiar. There are parts that sound like old-school Krieg as far as the raw production goes. There are a number of samples and ambient passages that provides moments of unique atmosphere among the 90’s Profanatica/Judas Iscariot/Beherit/Bestial Summoning riffs.  The song “Ruin Under The Burning Skies” is not what one might be thinking of in connection of what is found on the legendary “The Black House” LP. It’s the polar opposite. Even some of the song titles such as “Maelstrom,” “Plague Waltz,” and “Hypnotic Decay” sound as if they would be found on an 80’s Thrash album. That’s not an insult or slur, it’s just something I wouldn’t expect from the creative demented mind of Neill Jameson. The entire album for the most part is a giant curve-ball. It’s also noted that this indeed was part of the early years of Krieg and to see how far Neill has come as far is nothing short of the making of one of the father figures in the USBM scene and genre overall. After having enough time to listen to this and take everything in, there is something strangely luring about this album. The more I think about it, the more I am becoming more and more favorable to this offering from Krieg. There’s also a killer fucking Nunslaughter cover included. Overall, it’s something unexpected. It’s different, yet it retains a lot of familiar traits that Krieg is known for. I would definitely recommend this for die-hard Krieg fans and not someone who just picked up a copy of “The Black House” or “The Isolationist.” If you’re like me being someone is more familiar with past Krieg albums and experiencing this for the first time, go into it with an open mind.  “Sono Lo Scherno” will be released on September 25 on Inferna Profundus Records. Pre-orders are up on the label’s official store and can be found here. 

Poison Bloodself-titled (2017) Relapse Records

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I had been meaning to review this album earlier before it was released. Long story short: I was busy with my first Noisey piece and learning the ins-and-outs of becoming a legit freelance writer took up some of my time from making an honest attempt to review this. Seeing how the news from Neill came about, I decided to go ahead and add it on to this as an artist spotlight moment and rectify that issue. Also seeing how much output Mr. Jameson does, it’s falls into the add-on department of this particle review article. Poison Blood‘s self-titled album is probably the rawest thing Neill has done in a good while. It’s a collaboration with Jenks Miller of Horseback that deals with the obsession that Neill Jameson has with the desert landscapes and all the mysteries that lie within the shadows of the wastelands. If anything should be noted is how much ground these two beautiful bastards are covering in such a short time frame as far as a release goes. It clocks in under 19 minutes, but what they accomplish is a perfect balance of both the ugly, depraved, and beautiful. The album starts out right out of the gates of nanna with the song “The Scourge And Gestalt” which is almost like The Velvet Underground covering Beherit in total Rudimentary Peni -fashion; psychedelic, dirty, seductive and black-as-fuck. The Beherit influence is so apparent and so well-done that quite honestly Poison Blood is really the album that Beherit should have done in between “Drawing Down The Moon” and “Engram.” While I don’t dislike the Beherit electronic/ambient albums, if this were an alternate universe that existed, Beherit would have fared better in that that era of their music had they gone the route and played more in the vein of what Poison Blood does. Past the Beherit-isms, what really sticks out the most is the psychedelic textures of the album. The Moog synths of Jenks Miller adds the entire “desert vibe” that Neill Jameson said he was going for with this album and his fascination with it. At one point (“The Flower Of Serpents”) it makes rember all the great ambient synth pieces by Burzum, Neptune Towers, and Era 1 of Mortiis. That’s not to say it’s a rip-off of 90’s Norway, but ambiance-wise for myself it makes me wanna break out all those Casio keyboard songs that were at one point a legit thing within Black Metal. It’s well-rounded and tastefully done on how they really mix it extremely well with the dirty blackened guitar style. If anything it leaves you wanting more. Having just listened to Krieg‘s “Sono Lo Scherno” LP pior before deciding to add this review into the article piece, this side-project seems like a future cousin of it, only slightly less deranged but fucked-up nonetheless. It’s just another testament to how Neill Jameson is able to spread his wings over different types of side-projects and bands and cover so much ground, including past side-projects such as Twilight(RIP), Le Chant Funebre, N.I.L., and a host of others both active and defunct. It’s also a testament that for all intents and purposes, Neill’s words and blackened heart has always been strict dedication in producing some of the more interesting moments in the US black metal geographical location amidst the muck that gets slung around on other Metal news websites.  You can order Poison Blood‘s self-titled LP from Relapse and they also have some killer band merch as well. 

There is also the announcement of the re-issue of the 2013 out-of-print demo from New Jersey’s Hardcore sons of darkness The Banner as an upcoming release for Black House Industries. Anything else Neill decides to release either through Black House Industries or elsewhere will definitely be supported and spread here at Esoterica Codex. If you would like to give Neill hails, do so by checking out and clicking ‘like’ on the official Black House Industries Facebook Page. And if all else fucking fails and none of this interests you, go buy some shit from Neill Jameson on Discogs.com so that he can purchase cat food and kitty litter for his cats. Friendly reminder tho: Just don’t invite them to like your band.

From the Plutonian planet of the Yuggoth comes Tchornobog’s self-titled album.

Can we get one thing out of the way first? The album artwork.

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That. Fucking. Eye.

It just downright creeps the ever-living blue fuck out of me. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get right into the music of this bad-boy. A one man band created by Ukranian Markov Soroka, Tchornobog isn’t exactly a band that is going to be re-inventing the rules of Black Metal. But what he does with this debut album is a hellish combination of Deathspell Omega and Napalm Death. That’s about as close as I can come to describing this outer worldly monstrosity.

The self-titled album only delivers 4 tracks. The first is fucking 20 minutes long. I have heard some people say “Spare me the long intro”, but for me I’m a patient kinda dude when it comes to music like this. Especially if I’m listening to this at 12:30 AM in the middle of the night whenever my fiancee is asleep and all the animals are curled up. It gives me the chance to fully take something like this in. Even the song titles alone; “I: The Vomiting Tchornobog (Slithering Gods of Cognitive Dissonance)” and “IIII: Here, At The Disposition of Time (Inverting A Solar Giant)” take a good amount of concentration to let your imagination get its gears turning properly. At least for me that seems to be the case.

The music contained in the album itself has many peaks and valleys much like what is shown visually on the album artwork. For such a huge album it’s a lot to take in. Tchornobog has the ability to appeal progressive/outside-of-the-box thinking metal nerds. I don’t say that as an insult seeing how I’m a sucker for albums such as “Operation: Mindcrime,” “Nothingface,” “Human,” etc, but this one is a bit more challenging. Tchornobog‘s self-titled album is a constant-changing riff terrain that demands your full attention. Mind you this is one of those albums that does automatically hits you right off the bat, but it’s still an album that I know will take many repeated listens just to get the mapped-out feel of the almost alien-like landscape. It’s a fucking maze of riffs ( and torment too!). One second you get the blastbeats, the next you get a really doomy breakdown, etc. But the way Mr. Tchornobog goes about arranging all of the riffs and compositions is actually a good contrast to say Germany’s own The Ruins Of Beverast. Where TROB are more doomier, Tchornobog adds in the extra little bit of Death Metal elements here and there. Not a lot, but enough to make the music more beefier and dissonant in some parts.

For all intents and purposes, this is mood music. I don’t see this album inspiring an ever-growing legion of fans who are going to be praising Mr. Soroka to ad nauseum any time soon. More like this is an album for the individual to sit back, and unlock doors in the mind that leads them to wherever. As space-y and nerdy as that sounds, that’s all I can really used to describe it. All and all, it’s a creepy fucking album, complete with crawling eyes and maze-like riffs.

Tchornobog‘s self-titled album is now available on Fallen Empire Records for digital release. I-Voivdhanger Records will be doing a limited edition CD pressing. Other than that, you can follow the one man band at his official Facebook page or his official Bandcamp page.

Twisting, turning, and writhing: New jamz from Plaguewielder!

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The name Plaguewielder should not come as foreign to the reader, seeing how I reviewed their rather excellent 2015 debutSuccumb To The Ash” album last year. Keeping in touch with the band via online social media has not exactly been an issue, as I honestly can’t really think of any other band that sounds like them. Blackened Sludge is a sub- genre that has yet to hit it’s explosive period. It has only recently started to come into it’s own within the past several years as a sub-genre with bands such as Wolvhammer, Lord Mantis, and Coffinworm. This is a good thing because this gives Plaguewielder a massive one-up in the creativity department as far as expanding their sound, while also helping forge possible new paths. This could force said sub-genre to discover it’s own potential to become a much bigger beast.

A few days ago, Plaguewielder dropped/posted a new song on their official Bandcamp page called “Writhing In Mental Torment. ” Previously to getting my butt over to listen to it, I had been spending that entire day reviewing and listening to the new Loss album. Before clicking on the ‘play‘ button, I almost slightly hesitated, mostly due to the fact that the new Loss album made me want to die a slow rotting miserable death (in the best way possible). Would the new Plagueweilder song distract my attention away long enough to take notice? Surprisingly, it did. The song “Writhing In Mental Torment” was the complete polar opposite in terms of tempo and song arrangement. It’s shockingly rather short and up-beat with a blackened Punk-like spirit to it. Think of Fenriz playing an off-kilter drum beat cover of “New Rose” off the first The Damned album but in a total urgent “Die or get the fuck outta my way“-type fashion. Combine that with a crusty, oozing, sludgy breakdown towards the end. How this couldn’t motivate more bands/musicians who want to possibly go down this route or play similar styled music to take initiative to bring new things to the table is a question that will be answered best in time. Check it out and Hails reacts only brodies!

What happens when you don’t do your homework on bands? You fail. Plain and simple.

At the moment I am dealing with some rather personal issues so pardon me for not being in the most cheerful of moods. Anyway, this thing made it’s rounds and wound up all-over my Facebook newsfeed as usual. It was right after I woke-up after my 5th consecutive night of only running on 4-6 hours of sleep so upon reading this just brightened my fucking morning in the usual manner. To make a long story short; a false entried and got burned and died in the usual neurotic easily-triggered manner as usual. Someone who flat-out admits that they do not do their homework prior to going to shows in which if I was their personal teacher, I would flat-out give them an ‘F’ for showing no type of initiative to learn and for incomplete work. Rule of thumb: I do not give good grades for incomplete work. But enough about my logical and realistic set of standards, let’s get to analyzing and dissecting this weak person’s article of the usual crybaby routine.

Concerts are my safe haven. No matter what’s going on in the world or in my life, I know I can go to a concert and everything will be okay. I always feel comfortable at concerts. It doesn’t matter if I’m at a Satanic black metal show all alone… a concert is a concert and I always feel safe and at home.

Until last night.”

Uh-oh. Watch out! Triggerings ahead!

The show started off strong. Daigoro, the sole local band on the bill, warmed up the crowd with their homegrown death metal. It wasn’t a perfect set and it was all too quick. I started to wonder if it was even worth their time to set up and play, but all in all, it was a great way to start off a night of music that was sure to melt my face off.

Abigail Williams was the second band and first band of the tour package to play. These guys were great. The reverb on Ken’s (the vocalist) voice added a little something to help these guys stand out in a sea of black metal purists. The songs were brutal and powerful and got the crowd banging their heads. Much like Daigoro, Abigail William’s set felt all too short. I wish they had kept on playing because, out of all of the bands that played last night, I definitely liked them the most.

Ok, I’ll easily back Abigail Williams. Plus any band that has guitarist Jeff Wilson in it’s line-up get’s automatic hails from me. The dude has done a lot of great stuff from Wolvhammer, Chrome Waves, Le Chant Funebre, Liar In Wait, Nachtmystium, etc. The dude is a G, son.

What happened next was nothing short of a nightmare and something I never wish to experience EVER again.

I knew nothing about Shining, the next band to take the stage. Being me, I hate to research bands. I think it’s fun to go to a concert without knowing what’s about to happen. I don’t want to judge a band until I have to and am typically pleasantly surprised by what I find. Last night this whole idea of being surprised backfired and it backfired hard.

This is probably the same type of stupid idiot who went hard against “Ghostbusters” male fans this past summer and criticized anyone who gave a negative reaction to it’s god-awful trailer as being too judgmental towards it’s gigantic dumpster fire flop at the box office. But that’s none of my fucking business :sips tea:

Shining took the stage and, instantly, something felt off. I couldn’t explain it but I did not have a good feeling at all. The music started and I tried to shake the feeling. At first I didn’t mind the music or the show. The sound had heavy doom metal influences but singer Niklas Kvarforth (a.k.a. “Ghoul”) had a voice that made the music much more interesting than other doom/ black metal bands I had heard. Even though I didn’t mind the music, something still didn’t feel right. There was something about Niklas that just rubbed me the wrong way but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

That’s when I noticed exactly what I was watching and that feeling in my gut was validated.

Guess you should have done your homework.

Before I go into detail about what happened last night please note the following:

  • I am not naive, I know that the international black metal work is much darker than your typical metal scene. I get that it’s supposed to be dramatic and am all for it. I love watching the theatrics of bands like 1349 and Behemoth. I  find it interesting but there is a line between theatrics and complete inappropriateness.

 

  • I know that not many females attend these shows but if you’ve been following this blog you may be able to tell that I’m okay with being one of the few females at shows. It doesn’t intimidate or scare me. I can easily hold my own in a mosh pit of metal heads and have never once felt threatened or scared.

 

  • What I saw last night was disturbing so what I am about to write is also disturbing. You have been warned.1349? Behemoth? Mere child’s play. Besides Behemoth haven’t been black metal since their 2nd album, but I’ll admit, that’s a bit of a moot point. I have been warned? LOL, ok go ahead. I’ll humor you lady.”There was blood dripping down Niklas’ arms and onto the crowd that was in the front row throughout the set. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen blood on stage before. I’ve seen band members get nailed by the head of a guitar or bass creating a nice big gash and the subsequent blood that comes from said gash. Accidents happen and there’s nothing you can do. But this was no accident. It was clear that Niklas had slashed up and down his arms very recently letting the blood flow down his arms.Being someone who went through a nasty bout with self-harm, this made me feel super uncomfortable. I am super proud that I no longer have the urge to self harm and consider myself a “recovering cutter”. Seeing Niklas scratch at the fresh cuts to make them bleed more disgusted me. He was glorifying something that has taken me years to try and recover from.

    Niklas was grabbing members of the audience with his arms in a chokehold of sorts leaving a trail of blood behind. At one point, he allowed audience members to rub up and down his bloodied arms. The members of the audience seemed to take this as an honor of sorts. They had giant smiles on their faces as they played in Niklas’ blood. I didn’t understand how I seemed to be the only one utterly disgusted and sick from watching all of this happen.”

    TRIGGERED. TRIGGERED. TRIGGERED. As someone who suffers from major depressive disorder and prone to anxiety attacks and other non-favorable mental health issues, I can totally understand the process of bloodletting and understand why he does the things he does. I’ve never been a ‘cutter’ myself although there was that one time as a teen where I carved an upside-down cross into my left arm(It was the 90’s, we did shit like that to prove ourselves as teens and men ok? Deal with it). And as someone who has been into this kind of music since I was a teen, for me it is total catharsis. A void where I can channel my own personal negativity into and have that emotional connection with the rest of the world. And as far as Niklas goes, fuck man….excellent show chap! Hell I would have practically hailed and frothed at the mouth for him to do more or even worse. I like a good GG Allin-esque performance and in 2016 there ought to be more so. Let’s keep shoveling through this pile of shit this delicate flower left on the proverbial bed shall we.

    As if that wasn’t enough, at one point Niklas grabbed a female that was standing in the front row and slammed her face into his crotch. I’m not a gung-ho feminist  in any way shape or form but this made me irate

    Not a feminist? Could’ve fooled me lady.

    “This blatant display of sexism made me want to get up on that stage and punch Niklas square in the face. The worst part of this? The woman encouraged the act as she wrapped her arms around his legs to get even closer to his crotch. Again, I’m no feminist but I have far more self-respect than to let a man do that to me. If anyone tried to do that to me they wouldn’t succeed in anything other than broken bones and bruises.”

    Throughout the set Niklas would grab drinks from people in the crowd, have a sip without permission, and then give them back. All I could think was, thank God I drove tonight so I wasn’t drinking and if he tried to that to me I would have splashed the remaining drink right in this prick’s face. He also seemed to have a habit of grabbing people’s phones if they were out so I avoided taking my phone out of my bag except to grab a couple pictures.

    At one point, Niklas jumped into the crowd to slow dance with the woman who was standing directly in front of me during an instrumental portion of a song. I stumbled backwards to avoid getting his blood all over the front of me. I tried to blend into the small group of guys that was behind me but it didn’t work as I fumbled with my footing. My eyes met Nicklas’ and my hands instantly formed a fist. I realized that I was the only female near the stage that he had yet to get his nasty, blood soaked hands on. I was ready.”

    OMAHGAWD! I wish this lady would have attended a Mentors show or a GG Allin show during his prime. What she has described is fucking vanilla. I’ve been to Hardcore shows where people get crowdkilled and completely annihilated in the pit.

    I’m not one to fight. Sure, I know how to throw a punch and throw it well but it’s a skill I pride myself on never having to use. Last night was the closest I have ever gotten to throwing a punch at a concert. I can deal with people being obnoxious in the pit and I can deal with the drunk chick spilling her drink all over me. Hell, I can deal with someone puking on me feet… I won’t throw a punch. Last night, after witnessing everything that had gone down with Niklas I about lost my cool. My fists were clenched and as soon as he was within arms length it took every ounce of me to resist throwing that first punch.

    After the set, Niklas took off his shirt only to reveal a giant Reichsadler (fancy word for the Nazi eagle emblem) tattoo (minus the swastika). I wanted to throw up. I quickly pulled my sleeve down on my sweater to hide my star of David tattoo. I felt threatened. Was this really happening? How did I find myself here?

    Just fucking stop right there you ignorant bitch. Where the fuck is your outrage over Slayer using the Wehrmacht Eagle as their logo and several of their songs being references to the Third Reich and the Nazis? Also my best friend in the world is Bavarian Jewish descent. Him and I crack Nazi jokes all the time and laughs his ass off and even he can appreciate stuff like Hate Forest and Drudkh. Not to mention several of my friends in the Miami scene (who are all Hispanic/Cuban/Puerto Rican btw) who are all huge fans of NSBM. And I even have a multi-cultured/multi-colored adoptive family. Hell, this past week I ran down with my step-brother who is half black/half mexican and went and scored some weed in the projects. So riddle me this; what the fuck is up with you?

    I wanted to cry. I wanted to curl up into a ball in the corner and just cry. I wanted to rush out the door but at this point I was too scared to really do much of anything. I had already posted something online about my opinion of this band but that was before I saw the tattoos. What if someone had seen my post… were they going to follow me to the car? I know the door guy, but he was too busy to walk me to my car at that moment.

    I stood there. Stunned. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. I couldn’t believe I stood there through the whole set. I couldn’t believe anything. I felt like I was having a nightmare… I was stuck in a horror movie dream only this was real life.

    WHAAAAAAAAAAA! Cry me a fucking river. You had every opportunity to just simply leave, but you took the moral high-ground to stay and still watch the performance only to blog/cry about it? Fuck outta here with that bullshit.

    The show went on. Origin played and they sounded great. Same with Belphegor with their scary face paint, incense, and everything else but I didn’t pay attention. I had been super excited to see both Origin and Belphegor but after witnessing Shining, I really just wanted to go home and cry.

    Again, cry me a fucking river.

    I should have done my research before the show last night. Feel free to google “NiklasGhoulKvarforth” for yourself but be warned that what I just described to you is really nothing new for this guy.

    Dear Belphegor, Origin, and Abigail Williams– Shame on you for letting this band tour with you. I have lost all respect for you guys because you didn’t take a stand against Niklas’ behavior and let him continue on this tour.

    Dear Triple Rock Social Club– I love your building and your staff but shame on you for not stopping the show. I have put so much trust into you guys and you blew it last night.

    Dear Swordlord (the promoter)– Thank you for bringing such amazing international bands to Minneapolis but shame on you for not screening them first.

    I go to a concert damn near every night. I’ve seen hundreds of international black metal bands and, sure, they’re creepy and give me nightmares but I have never felt unsafe at one of their shows.

    I was scared for my safety last night.

    I don’t feel right today. I’m irritated and crabby and it’s because my safe haven was ambushed last night.

    Fuck you Shining.

    No. Fuck you lady.  And fuck your complaining about being irritability and crabbiness. The only reason you are acting like a child is you got introduced and saw an actual black metal show (Behemoth doesn’t even fucking count), and you finally saw what black metal is. I love it when Special Snowflakes all want to be ‘black metal’ but when it comes to black metal shit, they fucking can’t simply deal with it. This is a music genre that is based and built upon negativity at it’s core; satanism, arson, murder, suicide, self-mutilation, misanthropy, darkness, and just about every other form of negative human trait and characteristic. If you can’t deal with that, just go to a Deafhaven or a Myrkur show. You writing about your unfortunate experience on your shitty blog (MXPX? Seriously? Fucking weak!) is EXACTLY what bands like Shining want negative and horrible reactions from idiots like yourself and by the looks of it, after them of doing this black metal thing for almost 20 years now, looks like they succeeding. Congratulations on only helping to fuel their career with the great publicity you not only provided them but excellent material for me to counter-write about.

    Lesson learned here today folks: DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH BANDS BEFORE SEEING THEM LIVE. I can guarantee you that future concerts like this will be less triggering.

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    FUCK OFF SJWS AND FUCK OFF TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T GOOGLE BANDS BEFORE THEY SEE THEM LIVE.