Himinbjorg-In the Raven's Shadow

In the Raven's Shadow
[Red Stream Records]

      This release contains a mixture of slow clean vocals and typical black metal vocals. The drums sound very watered down, and with them the rest of the music sounds very grungy. At times this has a very doomy atmosphere to it. I think this band has a lot of possible potential, but there seems to be something yet missing at this point. The BM vocals on track six, "rising," are fierce sounding, but the rest of the CD doesn't seem to keep a consistent style. There seems to be a lot of experimentation here on the musicians part. Nevertheless, Himinbjorg is a band to keep one's eyes and ears on. Hopefully they can make their music a bit more defined in the near-future.


Einherjer-Norwegian Native Art

Norwegian Native Art
[Native North Records]

     Einherjer returns with their new release on Native North Records. First off, this is a lot better than their last release, 'Odin Owns Ye All,' which was a big let down. The vocals on this are sung in a clean manner, in a more traditional 'metal' type tone. The drums seem to be a very prominent part of this release, and everything seems to be arranged nicely. Personally, this type of style does nothing for me though, I preferred Einherjer's MCD demo above any of their other material. I don't think this sound or style carries the heathen message well. At the very least, the music is still fairly heavy though. Just not to my liking personally. Others into a more traditional 'heavy metal' sound may find this useful.


Darkmoon-Seas of Unrest

Seas of Unrest
[Music for Nations]

      It's kinda strange to find an American black metal band like this on a label like Music For Nations. It just doesn't seem to fit the sound, style and message of this band. Not only that, but I also don't see any marketing and advertising for this band, at least in America, like you would expect from a label of such size. But, with that aside, I think Darkmoon is a very unrecognized band, obviously even by their own label! This is their second CD, which is atmospheric, brutal and violent. All of the intense elements that make this brand of metal enjoyable are present here.


Tristania-Beyond the Veil

Beyond the Veil
[Napalm Records]

     I first heard Tristania some years back with their self-titled debut, which I found very worthwhile. 'Widow's Weeds,' their follow-up, was good as well for this genre of music, which is in the vein as maybe old Theatre of Tragedy. This release contains clean male and female vocals, black metal style vocals, choir, violin, etc.. I can see though the telltale signs of mainstream success here, and with it the watering down of the band for further 'success.' With a European tour with Anathema and Tiamat, and two video clips for MTV, I think you realize my point. Overlooking that though, fans of their earlier material most likely will not be disappointed by this, especially if you are not as critical as I am. Time shall tell if they take the same road as Theatre of Tragedy and lose most of their old fan-base for a broader mainstream one.

[Below: Inside]

Thou Shalt Suffer

Thou Shalt Suffer-Somnium

[Candle Light Records]

     Well, anyone who buys this expecting a follow-up to 'Into the Woods of Belial' has got one big surprise in store for them! Totally gone is the black/death sound of the previous, replaced by symphonic soundtrack atmosphere. What I don't understand is why Ihsahn chose to title this under the previous name, it has nothing whatsoever in common with the previous recording. This is light-years better than his other side-project 'Peccatum,' if you could compare the two. This has no vocals, just symphonic arrangements, which are well-done. This is released by Candlelight, and comes recommended to those who are interested in this type of style.


Beltane-Debut MCD

Debut MCD

      Here is an unsigned and incredibly talented band from New Zealand, of all places! The first thing you will notice about this CD is that it is quite unlike any other is that the cover, a graveyard scene, is printed on transparent plastic, creating a very unique effect. But the uniqueness of this unknown band certainly does not end there. First, this MCD starts out amazing with the song 'A Choir Invisible.' It begins with slow, rhythmic guitar and drums accompanied by this ghostly sounding 'voice,' and into a cleanly sung, almost chanting vocals, and alas into very good sounding black metal vocals. This is an extremely refreshing and original song, with killer lyrics to match. I could write a review on the greatness of this song alone. Its many changes and deep atmosphere are something to behold. Many elements are perfectly captured here. Moving on to song two, a much more straightforward black metal piece, extremely fast and aggressive. This three song self-financed MCD ends with the song 'Evoking Wraiths of Fire and Steel." Heavy and melodic, with periods of acoustic and unique clean vocals, this song is a close follower to the talented presentation of the first song. This MCD could not come more recommended! We urge you to hear this band!

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