When it comes to black metal, there’s a pretty fine line that separates a great album from one that’s just another run-of-the-mill disc of blasting and shrieking about Satan. Now don’t get me wrong – I actually rather enjoy blasting and shrieking about Satan, but it seems like a critical mass has been reached in terms of bands that play in a more orthodox, second-wave Norwegian style, to the point where sometimes I find it difficult to tell a lot of them apart. I tend to prefer the bands that bring a little something different to their blackened maelstroms of sound, and Carnal Records/Daemon Worship Productions just released excellent new albums from a pair of them: Grafvitnir and Omnizide.
Of the two, Grafvitnir’s Obeisance to a Witch Moon probably hews closest to the traditional Scandinavian sound. Described by the band as “nine ominous hymns to the Lightbringer, the Ancient Witch and the Moon Goddess Hecate,” the album is full of melodically intricate tremolo-picked lines and furious blasts that bring to mind bands like Marduk and the mighty Dissection, but what sets the band apart is the swagger (for lack of a better term) with which they play. Tracks like “Nigrum Ignis Serpentum” have the same kind of attitude that Behemoth brings to tracks like “Chant for Ezkaton” and “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,” where the drums lock into a such a deep groove that they almost swing. The memorable riffs on this one—“Children of the Void” is a particularly gnarly one—and some unexpected harmonic moves like on “Serpent’s Blood” make this one well worth a listen for fans of the more orthodox style.
Omnizide, which features Craft’s Nox on vocals and AE from Avsky on guitars, spike their black metal on NekroRegime with a healthy dose of crust and even a bit of d-beat on tracks like “Deathwomb.” The end result is a record that can rage like Watain at its most frenetic, but is also reminiscent of mid-period Darkthrone albums like The Cult is Alive. I like this record a lot; it’s straightforward and riffy to the point of almost being a black-and-roll record, but there are enough outside-the-box moments—like the damn near doom metal of closing track “Devil in Me”—that as a listener I’m totally engaged from the first note to the last. I might even go so far as to call this record fun, insofar as that’s possible for this type of music. I’m guessing they’re a blast to see live.
Both Grafvitnir’s Obeisance to a Witch Moon and Omnizide’s NekroRegime are available in the US via Daemon Worship Productions.