Something rotten in the state of Sweden tisdag, Sep 23 2008 

It seems to me that Swedish black metal has slowly been carving a new post-Marduk/Dissection niche for itself in recent years. Bands like Woods of Infinity, Shining and Lifelover are all playing demented black metal/pop with lots of samples and an emphasis on creating a sick atmosphere. The lyrical content also channels a different type of adolescency than the ”SATAN OPEN THE GATES!” themes of their 20th century predecessors, dealing more with urban misery and perversion but retaining the dislike of good taste and judgement. While Shining rather undeservedly seems to get the most attention and Umeå’s Woods of Infinity — the most talented of the trio — just make me feel physically ill (more on that some other time), I enjoy the sort of evil pop hits that Lifelover has produced lately. As is the nature of pop music, their albums tend to be a mix of filler material and great songs that stick to your mind immediately (only to inevitably fade though, leaving you with a feeling of what-was-the-fuss-about-in-the-first-place). Their new album Konkurs is due within just a few days, which they will promote by playing live in Stockholm this Sunday. Also, some of their better songs, including M/S Salmonella and Mental Central Dialog are available for free from their webpage.

Electric Wizard & Reverend Bizarre – Split (2008) onsdag, Sep 17 2008 

Sometimes I get a feeling that every time Electric Wizard is releasing a new album or merch design, there is an entrenched discussion about whether it should feature: a bong, a cross, a goat, robed figures, nuns, nudity or zombies — usually resulting in half the list being included. Still, there is no question of how good ‘Wizard are at their craft. Records like Dopethrone, We Live and last year’s Witchcult Today are in their groovy stoner-haze splendor perfect examples of the difference between playing the guitar and playing the guitar — as shown by Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham. Now The House on the Borderland — which is their contribution to this split with equally traditionalist Finnish band Reverend Bizarre — does not stand up very well to the quality of EW’s back-catalog, but is still a solid track. On the other hand, RB’s cover of classic Finnish black metal act Beherit’s The Gate of Nanna is an amazing vinyl-smelling retrotrip complete with cheesily spoken vocal passages and Omen choirs. It really warms my heart that there are people who persist in their quest of recreating the 70s, honoring Sabbath and find the riff.

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Eldrig – Mysterion (2008) måndag, Sep 15 2008 

The latest album of the creative soul behind arguably the best band to carry the ‘NSBM’ stigma — Portland’s Fanisk — sees Eldrig take their previously rather neoclassical influences even further. In fact, though I have enjoyed Eldrig’s earlier efforts, the first impression of Mysterion is that it there are moments that bring to mind less flattering references such as cheesy synth-enthusiasts Dimmu Borgir and even (*shivers*) progressive metal. Fortunately, Eldrig is a good bit more sophisticated than that, and further listens reveal the highly evolved sense of song structure that has always been a strong point of Eldrig and Fanisk. This, and the trademark epic crescendos, use of organs (though i suppose not very ‘organic’ organs) and geometric mysticism in both lyrics, presentation and arrangement make this as good a release as any of Eldrig’s. Still, my hope is that the promised Fanisk album Insularum will be the one that sets a new standard in the neoclassical/symphonic black metal genre.

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Velvet Cacoon – Nightvines lördag, Sep 6 2008 

The Velvet Cacoon hype machine treads on with this seemingly authentic VC video that was posted on youtube one day ago without a word of it’s existance on any official sites. It is indeed beautiful, but it makes me wonder whether Atropine will be entirely composed of ambient ‘seadrones’ such as this track and Funeral Noir?