Northern Silence unearths two gems and blasts a new black beast into the world

Our friends at German label Northern Silence Productions have a nice multi-record assault coming your way, and considering they release some pretty damn interesting albums, you’d probably do yourself some good checking these out. Not to sound all endorsement-like or anything, but I’m generally never disappointed by their music, and these three record are no exception.

It’s not all new stuff, however. Two of the albums are reissues that perhaps you haven’t had the chance to grab for yourself before, so now you’ll have no excuse. The other is a steamrolling new collection of songs by a band that pays some serious homage to the early days of black metal and that deserves to be in your collection if you also have those tastes. As always, we’ll link you to where you can grab these albums at the very end of the entry, so if this sounds good to you, be sure to fire some cash their way. Also, look into some of their other bands, too, because Northern Silence has some quality acts, and I’m always pretty excited when their promo e-mails come my way.

Woods of Desolation

We kick off with the reissue of Woods of Desolation’s debut record “Toward the Depths,” which originally was put out by Hammer of Damnation and pressed in fairly limited supply – 500 CDs, 300 LPs. So grabbing a copy of this hasn’t exactly been easy, and when their last album “Torn Beyond Reason” dropped and swelled enthusiasm for the Australian atmospheric black metal project helmed by D. (who handles guitar, bass and drums). On “Depths,” D is joined by vocalist/bassist Phil Knight, and it’s actually a little sketchy to try to pinpoint who else has joined D. and when throughout Woods’ lifespan, so we’ll just concentrate on those two guys for now. The music is far darker, grimier and lo-fi than what was on “Torn,” and it sounds like something that would have turned people upside down during the tape-trading revolution. In fact, at times, the vocals are so washed away and in the background, they’re easy not to notice. But that also adds sort of a ghostly apparition to these dark and sorrowful songs.

The title track opens the album on bleak, creaky notes, especially when it comes to Knight’s vocals. There’s a heavy emotional melody that runs through the songs and keeps you on edge, and that leads the way to “”They Will Never Leave Their Torment,” a song that reveals itself in its name before you even hear a note. The track is sad and churning, and the vocals feel like they wash away with any tears that were shed creating this music. “A Time of Eternal Darkness” is much in the same vein, though it has moments when the tempo kicks into a higher gear; and “Woods of Desolation” (did the name inspire the band moniker or vice versa?) is a fantastic centerpiece that goes from clean to violent and back again, bringing you along for every step of the mental sojourn. If you dug “Reason” and want to hear the step that preceded it, you won’t be disappointed by this, even if it has a totally different feel. If you just like the harsh black stuff that sounds as if it was buffed with broken glass, you’ll probably be all about this.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Woods-of-Desolation-Official/169396779759552?sk=info

Loic Cellier of Belenos

French black metal unit Belenos (led by Loic Cellier) finally is getting the band’s much-praised second record “Spicilége” (released in 2002 on Sacral Productions) back into people’s hands, albeit in re-mastered form, giving it a much stronger, more vibrant sound. That’ll give folks who perhaps already have the record a better copy of the music, and for those who hadn’t tracked it down yet, you’ll hear the music more in the way mastermind Cellier envisioned it. Oh, and there are some added goodies tacked onto the end, making the package even more worth your while. Belenos’ grasp of Celtic black metal is true, and they also incorporate some gothic drama, power metal, classical dashes and other types of styles just to keep things properly seasoned.

I imagine trudging through a snowy forest or taking to a wide-open plain would be the perfect environment to experience these songs. There’s a strong sense of European folk that weaves itself through this record, and the music reminds me of a crossing of early Primordial and classic Bathory. “Tal Ifern” opens the record with some undeniable melody, majesty and even some clean vocal lines; “Terre de Brume” is explosive, yet delicate at times when the acoustic guitars ring out, and it has a pagan feel. Speaking of which, “Noz Pagan” begins with a flush of mouth harp, more acoustics and wordless harmonizing that just surges; “Mort Divine” is hammering and bone-crushing, yet also colorful; and “Loin au Nord” also is a bit of a masher that could inspire listeners to take up sword and shield and go into battle. Tacked onto the end are some live cuts and previously unreleased demo material, that give those who already have this platter an excuse to plunk down more money. This record deserves this expanded, re-touched treatment, and hopefully it’ll draw more fans into the Belenos camp.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.belenos.biz/

Augrimmer

And now on for the new, and what a devastating album this is. Augrimmer hail from Germany, and they certainly seem to dine on early ’80s first wave of black metal and even a bit of the second wave of insanity that rose up a decade afterward. Their second record “Nothing Ever Was” follows their 2009 debut “From the Lone Winters Cold,” and it’s a kick-ass display that should set up their heathenry for years to come. The band is nasty, vicious, and raw, and they sound like barbarians coming over the hill to behead you and the rest of your village. But on top of all the ugliness also comes a knack for belting out proggy thrash in the same vein as Voivod. In fact, when vocalist Satan … that name again is Satan … croons, he reminds a bit of Denis Belanger. Yeah, if you own bullet belts and spiked wrist bands, you’re going to be all over this.

The band comes out swinging following the eerie, fairly power metal-inspired instrumental opener “Shadows” with “Barbarism Rises,” a spacious, face-splitting cut that could make some think of very early Immortal. From there, it’s a fight every step of the way, as the band leads listeners skull first into “The Coffin Host,” a track that smokes with doomy intensity; “The Sad King of Mankind,” a song that’s as melodic and catchy as it is sinister; “Heir to the Black Flame,” that does have that Montreal thrash vibe but also sounds like it swam in NWOBHM; “The Voice,” a song that gets its power from the double kick drum fury; “Harbinger of the Night,” a slower song that has some of the strongest clean vocals on the entire record but then ends in a storm of creaky storming; and “The Janus Face” owes a debt to the ’80s more aggressive power metal bands and stands as another example of this group’s dexterity. This band and this record are flat-out awesome, and anyone showering praise on other throwback acts such as In Solitude or Portrait deserve to give Augrimmer their day in the sun as well. Actually, maybe they’d be better off basking in the moonlight.

For more on the band, go here: http://augrimmer.de/

You can find out more about the band and buy their stuff at the links below. If you don’t speak German, you’ll have to translate the web shop. Or just figure it out for yourself. Learning a new language will make you more well-rounded.

To buy any of these releases, go here: http://www.northern-silence.de/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.northern-silence.de/

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