Thursday, October 20, 2016

Adaestuo - Tacent Semitae (2016)

Since I cannot find any information about where this band is from (Nothing on Metal Archives, Bandcamp and even Facebook page won't give me any info either) we'll just skip that part of the review. At any race, this black metal trio from “parts unknown” brings about a dissonant sort of black metal that comes with an unexpected element. Female operatic vocal, similar to Diamanda Galas. You have no idea how much that statement becomes a reality within this album. The album's ending cut and title track is nearly a tribute to the ritualistic Greek legend, with frontwoman Hekte Zaren performing nearly unrealistic chants that put the pop-singer turned black metal frontwoman Myrkur to shame. But it's not only that. Regardless of the frantic blasts and familiar dissonant riffs, there's an atmosphere of pure horror here. When I say horror, I do mean pure fright. Musically, the record comes packed with a mix of what I would consider an unsettling, yet wholly ritualistic vibe that you just won't hear from many, if really any other black metal source. Aside from this, the band can certainly play black metal with the best of them and sometimes the frontman adds to the harsh vocal element as well. That being said, you'll still hear Zaren's haunting chants in the background, further sprinkiling in bit of originality to what seems like a frighteningly progressive black metal backbone. 

Two of the songs on the disc aren't actually metal at all, and aside from the title cut we also have “Cicatrises Plexae” which is very similar to the industrial work that I review from Malignant. That being said, the black metal is definitely black and the atmopshere certainly feels like an atmosphere. None of this just seems haphazardly thrown together, as each style of music performed shows that it could work well enough to encapsulate two different bands which some listeners might feel should be the case. Even though it is 2016, some people still seem to have a problem with chocolate and peanut butter mixing, but it can also be said that those same individuals would have a problem with the female vocal approach as the frontispiece in the first place. I would much rather prefer Tacent Semitae to anything Myrkur puts out, and it shows that female fronted black metal and experimental approaches are indeed great things in the genre, which she embrace. Yet only if done with as much proficiency as has been utilized here. Definitely pick this one up in November, I think you'll be surprised with this unexpectedly potent debut.

(4 Tracks, 20:00)


Karmanjaka - I Törnrosdalen (2016)

The debut album from this Swedish black metal quintet, there's a sort of tribal and fantasy mystique pouring out through this one. Grond's drumming sounds like a beast from ancient times, while Skallagrim reminds me of an angry troll, and with a much more frightening approach than Finntroll for sure. I'm not sure if it's Tengil or Om, but one of these guys is reponsible for some unexpected melodic leads in the title cut that add almost a melodic death touch to it. But that's nothing, because the latter portion of the track fills quickly with the sort of acid jam you might expect from Tool or King Crimson, taking it far out of the realms of black metal. When we get to the last cut on the disc, “Katla” that black metal style comes back, featuring a lead section that reminds me heavily of a classic RPG theme. As the song continues, I'm noticing quite a bit of prog riffs on the track which remind me heavily of my favorite era of Enslaved. I'll also have to admit that I really love the main leads for this one, just sounds like a great game. Karmanjaka are an act that have the bite and feel of classic black metal, yet keep things far more interesting than I would have ever dreamed. If you love melody, prog and video game themes as much as I do, then you'll find something here. I really like these guys, so I'd highly recommend them even on this short demo. Please make more of this.

(3 Tracks, 10:00)


Netherbird - Pillars Of The Sky (2016)

For some odd reason, the Swedish black metal act then decided to release another single and this is where I begin to get just a little heated. The record releases on the 28th, but this single released on September 30th. They couldn't wait to just release the album? What's more, is that while we have another on-album cut in “Pillars Of The Sky”, (which sounds more like a folk-tinged melodic death than black metal, think Insomnium) we also have “Brazen Splendour.” Just like it's partner “Sculptors and Spectres” it will not be on the album either. I've also checked online and can't find any version of the disc where these songs would be added. Additionally, “Brazen Splendour” is a very strong song. I like it much more than the cut this single is named after. “Pillars Of The Sky” was a bit slow for me, but this cut is thundering, pounding and full of fine folk influence. It reminds me of early Amon Amarth, when they actually still took some folk and black metal influence. There was absolutely no excuse to not put a track this awesome on the full-length disc. It's not even on the vinyl. Wow, I'm just very disappointed. I guess when The Grander Voyage comes out, you can go pick up that one and then check out these other two tracks on YouTube or something.

According to what I've seen from Metal Archives, the length of the forthcoming is only around forty-two minutes. Adding both of these extra cuts will only increase the playing time by a mere eleven minutes. So there was definitely enough room for them on The Grander Voyage. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to sound “entitled” or anything like that, but I do feel that when a band records an album, they should just release everything on the forthcoming disc. Usually, there are at least special or limited edition versions of a CD where the bonus tracks are added to the performance. In this case, The Grander Voyage would have only benefitted from that. As I stated, I didn't care much for “Pillars Of The Sky” but “Brazen Splendour” is definitely one of my favorite songs in this genre, in quite a while. I played it twice in a row, that's just how good it was. So if we look at this in a reviewer's perspective, I would probably have given the full-length a better score if these cuts were added to it. “Windwards” was a strong song, I liked it quite a bit. Yet as I'll say again, I wasn't all that pleased with the main cut here and they should have just thrown it out and called the single “Brazen Splendour.” To be honest, if the band had released “Windwards” with “Pillars Of The Sky” as a secondary cut, that would have been fine. Then right before the album released, “Brazen Splendour” could have packaged with “Sculptors and Spectres” as a secondary cut, allowing people the opportunity to purchase the bonus tracks as a whole.

The single is only two dollars, so it wouldn't have been a bad price for the bonus cuts, if it had been marketed that way. In any case, you can pick it up and listen to “Brazen Splendour” as many times as you like. I was reminded of Once Sent From The Golden Hall and believe me, that's more than enough sometimes.

(2 Tracks, 12:00)


Netherbird - Windwards (2016)

The Grim Lord is a bit torn on how to cover this one. The Swedish synth/melodic black metal act have been around for a good number of years now and are about to release their next full-length in about eight days. But the problem with this single and the latest single, is that they each contain two songs which will appear on the record and two that won't. Problem is, these songs aren't simple cuts that don't really make a difference. They're full-lengths that should have really been on the record itself. On this particular single we have “Sculptors and Spectres” which to me, sounds like a pretty potent black metal cut. It also reminds me a little of Naglfar and Dissection and comes out far more interesting than Thulcandra's latest offering, which doesn't even need to be named. Needless to say, the song is quite powerful. “Windwards” itself was already good, and it'll sound great on the album – but this nickel and dime shit to me is just terrible. To be fair, the band did release this single in July, so it's a good teaser for the album. You'll like both tracks and they're pretty strong. I haven't heard much from Netherbird that I can recall, but from what I've heard here, it makes me curious to dig through their back catalog a little.

(2 Tracks, 13:00)


Chhinnamasta - Vajra Sarpa (2016)

The debut EP from India's Chhinnamasta comes as a mixture of raw black metal and atmospheric effects and although it does sound rather grim and evil, it is lyrically based on Hindu mysteries, metaphysics and cosmology. It also worth noting that the band use what we'd saw is the swastika in their logo. However, the meaning here is not at all the meaning attributed to it by Hitler and the Nazi regime. Since you have the Library Of Alexandria 2.0 at your fingertips, I suggest you research the original meaning of the symbol before Hitler appropriated it, much like several other things in his regime. The Nazis were obsessed with the occult and with speaking to a race of alien beings known as the Vril society, so there were a lot of symbols and ideas used from various belief systems in order to create his empire. It would be fascinating if it wasn't insanity. The band is a two-piece, with Chakravartin Vladcult performing the vocals, guitars, bass and keyboard compositions that you see here (I will warn you that this record is more keyboard and atmosphere-laden than it is based in black metal) along with Khaos Illuminant performing the drums. It's not a very long record, mainly sandwiching one lengthy black metal piece (In Search Of A Primal Light) right in the middle of two lighter soundscapes. As I said, the raw black metal feeling that one wants from the band, they'll get - but only for the duration of that one track. Vladkult has a near bloodcurdling scream that he utilizies, sounding quite pained and working rather well with the familiar tremolos in the piece. It's nothing new in that regard, but the mood created by the keyboards and effects here are well worth mentioning. I actually found more in those areas than I did the black metal, because it came off as something I've already heard done to death as it is. I still feel that there's something here however, and would recommend that you give it a listen. Not too shabby, gentlemen.

(3 Tracks, 20:00)


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Unexpected Announcement!

Denizens of the Tower, I feel I need to address some recent happenings. First of all, my good friend and colleague has been helping me handle promos as I never had a stable internet connection. He allowed me to hear the material and then review it, as I had no other way to do so.

As of recent, he went into an unexpected depression and felt the need to get proper medical help. Folks, his life is a bit more important than the work I do here, so that is going to mean that things will change a bit with The Grim Tower.

First of all, I just won't be able to download or stream any Haulix related promos. This is because Haulix does not have a mobile download feature and I don't have enough data to stream every album. If you want something reviewed, mailing it is the best option.

Secondly, since I won't be able to get any Haulix promos (can't get anything at all right now as I'm throttled) or any newer non-haulix promos and even digital submissions (I can't download anything at all until my data is restored) I have to work with what I've got. That might mean older albums, which to me isn't so bad. Many of these records just didn't get proper promotion and I'd rather use this site to promote artists that actually need it.

This might sound controversial, but if you're being promoted by major sites like Metal Hammer, Blabbermouth, Metal Injection and others that populate my social media feeds with clickbait, what do you really need a little site like mine for? Some of these pages even offer full streams, which are better than any review I can write. Nothing describes a record better than actually listening to it, after all.

That being said, I found several albums promoted on much larger sites from acts I very much enjoyed. As much as I loved Veilburner and Polyptych this year, so many other more competent and well-known places have covered them. Am I upset? Of course not. They NEED and DESERVE that kind of promotion. I want to see these kinds of acts on the covers of magazines someday. Yet that's not entirely likely, as stuff like that new Amaranthe I was sent (I really thought it was a joke and felt that those guys couldn't be serious) will more than likely be plastered everywhere. Spoiler alert, Maximalism is a pop record.

But that's why this little site exists. To cover the little guys, the artists that people forgot. Those talented acts that get looked over by the media. The New Noise gig allows me to cover larger acts professionally on a more reputable page, but here we do things differently.

Thirdly, I have to announce something a bit major. Though I've been working with bands and labels for a number of years now, this time hasn't been very beneficial to me as an independent author. I feel like I've been trying to promote three to six year old novels for the past six years of my life as I spent much of that time reviewing records like a machine. Truth is, as much as I enjoyed that work, I never felt that this was my calling in life. I've been writing fiction since I was a child, and I just feel that in all that time, I could have put out at least five more books - different books that would show a side of me that people don't expect. I have so many characters and worlds to share with people, whether they're grown adults or adolescents (Y/A) with a penchant for curiosity and the unknown. (No plans for children's books as I feel that you must have children of your own before you can actually write a good children's novel. I more than likely will not have that option, but you never know.) Instead of being an author that writes the same old crap, I feel it is imperative to write all sorts of differing fiction genres. Keeps it fresh, so to speak.

When I started this work, I was twenty-five years old. I'm now thirty-one and have spent a good number of years putting a lot of effort into it. Now it is time to set this aside as a hobby project to handle just a few times a week. People online seem to be interested in my story concepts and character ideas, to the point where they are actually considering reading my books. That's the best you can hope for as an author.

Saying little more, I still think you can expect at least six to eight reviews a week and New Noise will have some as well. I'll try to deliver one interview a week, but I may not be able to come through on that all the time.  Remember that it is just me, a cellphone and a laptop without internet. I'll do what I can, I always have. Apps are a lifesaver, I will say that much. I can actually edit and post right from my phone! The phone itself was less than $100 as well, which was a much better deal than the one I had before.

Thanks for reading and look forward to some reviews tomorrow. I've spent most of the day at the doctor's office and will be going back and forth for a while as I undergo some physical and mental evaluations.

- The Grim Lord

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Xaon Talks Black Metal Beginnings, Album Composition, Bjorn Strid Guest Spot and Band Recommends!

Swiss trio Xaon are about to release their debut EP very soon. Having played in a successful black metal act for over a decade, this represents a new direction and what I'd consider a revitalized sense of purpose in many ways. Utilizing elements of melodic death metal along with more depressive structures, there is certainly something interesting to note here! 

Interview with Flo (bass/lyrics)

Let’s start by introducing the band. Tell me a little bit about yourselves and how you came to be. You’re about to release your debut EP in just a few days. How excited are you?

Just before Xaon, I was with Vinc’ in band (a well-known swiss melodic black metal band that existed for around fifteen years). We released our very last album, then did some tours and a lot of shows with them, it was some pretty cool. There were some very intense and rewarding moments but and I still don’t know why Vinc’ (the former guitarist of this band) and me became very disconnected towards each other during the latter stages of the band.

Time flew like birds escaping face of the first symptom of plague and the other musicians seemed to be fine playing without any devotion, any utter passion and any interest. They became totally disconnected from metal and it's dark and profound energies. Thus, we decided to wait for the past band's very first hiatus in order to jump at the opportunity to create a new band, Xaon. A new band dedicated to playing devoted, heavy, powerful and melancholic songs under the radiant aegis of some great names like MY DYING BRIDE, KATATONIA, WINTER, the mighty PARADISE LOST, TYPE O NEGATIVE, the German VALBORG, AUSTERE, DAYLIGHT DIES, SATURNUS, ULVER and SOILWORK.

This band was for us like a psychic cork-remover. As a dries fountain, to have a new band with musicians only devoted to heavy and gloomy music was a pure act of resurrection. We wrote the lyrical contents and compositions over a six month period. It was  very intense and pleasant. During the recording of the lead vocal parts, we stood astonished and thrilled by the vocal skills, presence and charisma of the Franco-American singer Rob Carson and we packed him up with us as a permanent member.

We’re madly excited for the release of the album! It’s a big step for us and regardless of how it will be received, we are already very proud of these compositions but we don’t want to hurry because we’re still at the beginning line of this promotional journey. We warmly hope that every metalhead will be able to find in our musical streams something that resounds positively in their inner cloisters and bring some power, courage, strength for his everyday life.

We are just at the inception of our story...

Tell me a little bit about this EP. What was the writing and recording like? It seems that there’s a bit of folk flowing through this, reminding me a little bit of early Disillusion (GER) or Solefald, albeit having a rather crushing edge as well. Then again, there’s also some elctronics. It’s a playful mixed bag.

As I may have said, to have the opportunity to work only with Vinc’ for the musical sphere and myself for the lyrical, textual, conceptual spheres was a complete freedom and we really needed it! To work and play with some musical unbelievers is very tiring, exhausting and frustrating. We both realized that we could just work and follow our hearts and our musical tastes without having to confront ourselves with people that have lost faith in both metal and music in general. We felt it roaring in our guts and in our hearts.

The different melodies, the lyrics and the concept are like some disparate pieces which quietly sleep or stridently infect our minds. These disparate things were coming so quickly that we had to take time to drink some booze in order to talk a lot about how this new music could be or how this next EP would have to sound but every time, we would stay both very prudent and discreet. Vinc’ didn’t play with his face to me during a lot of parts that deserved to be recorded in this EP and I never read to him any pieces of the poems or lyrics that I had already written.

In Xaon, the creation of some of the new musical pieces came from sessions when we were both locked separately in our ways. We talked about the EP’s main direction but we let our imaginations flow as we worked to create the details regarding the album.

So I must temperate my answer, as only a few pieces have been in a kind of locker for a while but for example, a piece such as: The Soulcleaner is a fresh creation, inspired by some bitter and hurtful experiences face to blind vanity of the warm youth.

During the recording process, everything was quiet. There was  some tiny tension between me and Vinc but it seemed normal to us because we deeply love the musical material that we handle. When me or Vinc started to make an incomprehensible manipulation on a musical detail that we already deeply liked in a certain shape, it gave birth to some tensions but I really like working with him.

It was a little bit tormenting when we were faced with the possibility of working with Rob. Like every human, we anxiously shiver facing the unknown, facing this kind of a leap of faith. It was a disagreeable and tormenting moment but by luck, very temporary (and the discomfort wasn’t given by Rob or his performance on our songs but simply as I already said, by our fear facing this decision and its fallout that it could be decisive for Xaon’s future).

Thanks for noticing the similarities between Disillusion (I’m a huge fan of the '04 album: Back to Times of Splendor. It’s a pure ears-crusher, a gleaming jewel) (It's also one of my favorite albums of all time - The Grim Lord) and the all-mighty Solefald (I’m a big fan of every album that they released. As you said, our music is a bit more “crushing” but they know how to make a guitar sound mystical and how to build superb melodies that carry our souls very far away, near the cold cosmic void!)

What was it like working with Bjorn Strid on “Discrowned?” That track really slays and seems to carry melodeath in a new direction. I’m a bit reminded of Blood Stain Child in some sections. 

We weren't thinking about BLOOD STAIN CHILD with this song, but we thank you for the compliment. We've always liked SOILWORK’s music and the powerful aura given by Björn’s voice. Just before meeting Rob, Vinc and me talked a lot about to have a very particular kind of voice on this song (of course, we especially didn’t want to use a golden, well-known name in order to promote our music. I always think that this kind of maneuver is fundamentally childish, pitiful and deserves a vehement, severe and viscid sputum straight to the face! For us, a guest-musician on a track could be only admissible when the band and the guest are some kind of friends (for example, look at the guest performances from Chris Barnes on the GORGUTS album Considered Dead on the tracks "Rottenatomy", "Bodily Corrupted" and "Hematological Allergy." Chris and Luc Lemay are some friends and I suppose this collaboration was friendly teamwork between two friends from two different bands) or if the band aren’t able to produce the effect or the sound that they’re searching and the only way to produce a decent result is to ask for help outside of the band. The case regarding the song "Discrowned" was the latter.

This song was the first that we wrote for this EP and I don’t know why we were very angry and corrupted by some intense feelings of malaise, powerlessness and solitude. We hardly wished to have a powerful and very versatile vocal line on this track. Nothing afflicted or sad or a kind of “boo-hoo” kind of feeling. It was supposed to be just pure violence, a feeling of useless revolt or a heavy and bitter weight on our mind and shoulders. We hadn’t met Rob yet and nobody in our close musical friends were able to give us what we desperately wanted then, so we thought about asking a professional musician to fill this position. (But I don’t remember clearly if it was said more with a half-smile instead of a serious visage).

A few weeks after that, Vinc went to a SOILWORK gig and crossed Speed’s path in an empty corridor. He didn’t hesitate to ask him if he want to scream some sentences in one of our songs and one or two months after, we received the song “Discrowned” not with just a chorus sung by Björn “Speed” Strid, or just a mere verse but the entire song!  He did such wonderful and amazing work with it! Every time I hear this track, I feel extremely honored to have these kinds of vocals on the song.

So have you been working on a full-length as well, or are you planning on playing a few shows first to see how well the material does in front of a live crowd? 

Actually, we’re working on some new stuff, as you can guess. So, Yeah, the next release from Xaon will be a complete album and we have already finished all of the compositions. We’re swimming into our stream of thoughts regarding the arrangement’s possibilities and the capability to maximize the dumping and the implosion of feeling with the adding of some unusual instrument in the realm of Rock’N Roll music.

As the lyricist and the bassist, I dream of a much heavier and  depressing, far darker music with gloomier panoramas conducted by the acoustic instruments (like we did with the cello) but –and it’s very important- without falling on the “gothic” or the “symphonic” style of music. We wish to stay heavy, mean, groovy and brutal as a metal band but with less catchier parts and more darker, complex and suffocating parts. Nevertheless, keep in mind that it’s only a personal wish. Xaon is a trio. When we will work on the draft's new material, we will find some agreement and a fair consensus between all composers. We will probably begin recording this new album around the beginning of 2017. If we –as persons- are still alive.

What are some bands that you guys are digging right now? Any artists you’d recommend we check out? (Besides yourselves, of course.)

Ah! A question about bands. I really like these kind of questions. If you don’t know about these bands just take a look and I promise you won’t be frustrated!

PAYSAGE D’HIVER: A famous Swiss black metal band. Murky, ghastly and cold music. Perfect tunes to die frozen, the eyes bathed by the lofty, white and powerful mountains.

CIRITH UNGOL: Heavy-doom horrific band with a mad and talented bassist and a devilish voice. The ol’ school band of my selection! Take a look (and let’s prefer the opus called: King of the Dead and One Foot in Hell)!

DUX: The French band of this selection. The last opus, Carnations was a huge and massive blast for my ears. A power trio black metal band. It's potent, melodic, tormented and wise music for the listeners that like the tasteful tunes.

FUNERAL FOG: The Canadian-one! You won’t be submerged by the disdain facing these tunes. You will float under what I will present as a profound devotion!

THERGOTHON: Perhaps the Finnish pioneer for funeral doom metal. Only one demo and one full-length, a complete fulfilment and a strangling voyage through obscurity.

A good selection can’t be called as good as it wishes to be if there aren't bands like: PLAGA, SVARTIDAUðI, DARVAZA, BEHERIT, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, HESYCHAST, MGLA and more!

What are some of the things that you guys do when you’re not playing music? Are there any other acts that you play in?

My life is structured by my love for music and my professional activities are near this interest but I like to wander through nature, to write some little stories, to read books about astronomy, mythology, the history of religions, philosophy, medical science, the history of art and I definitely enjoy reading some good novels or stories from writers like Edgar A. Poe, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Victor Hugo, H.P. Lovecraft, Goethe, Theophile Gautier and Gerard de Nerval.

To answer your next question, we do have some other bands that we still play in. If you like to hear good stuff in the melodic death metal sphere, don’t hesitate to take a look on the French band: BLOODSTORM where our singer Rob does the main vocal lines (, if you like black metal stuff our second guitar player, Guillaume is your man. Don’t hesitate to check: ENOID ( and SERPENS LUMINIS (where I’m the lead singer with Guillaume behind his six-strings: If you like some rough stuff, I mainly sing in some swiss band: CALCINED ( and ERZEBETH DANE (

This is a very promising record and I’m now seeming to recall it after the first time I heard it a little while back. I wish you guys the best of luck, as I really think there’s a potential to go far and further carry the banner for Swedish melodic death metal into a new age!

Thanks a lot for these interesting questions and this interview! Never give up!  Stay totally proud and strong about what you are and became!

Long live Metal!