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Gehenna - "Murder" (Moonfog, CD, 2000)
Last year's deathmetalish "Admiration Black" was a warning...the Norwegian Gehenna were preparing themselves to release something seriously brutal...and looks like they've made it. Believe it or not, as I'm listening to the second track of this "Murder", I can't stop thinking: "Are these guys the same who released "Black Seared Heart and "Seen Through the Veils of Darkness"??. As you probably know, most of their compatriots are getting softer, boring and trendy...there's no need to mention names. Gehenna decided not to follow the same way, they became more brutal and aggressive...so the result were these 10 tracks of death metal with a low, dirty sound (no need to say that I was really caught by surprise!). The voice is guttural, the guitars are constantly discharging very direct and fluent raw riffs and the drumming is quite fast (but the double base could be less muffled). The lyrics here are about war, death, religion and different kinds of insanity, wich is appropriate to their "new" sonority (notice that some samples from old horror movies and documentaries were also included). The cover artwork of the album is an old photo of an execution, wich was posteriorly modified. Concerning the production, some tracks were recorded with different sound volumes, wich reveals a lack of profissionalism by whoever did that (maybe it was made intentionally, who knows). Anyway, this detail won't change my opinion about this release, fucking great!

Tracklist:
1 - Intro
2 - Murder
3 - Worthy Exit
4 - Devout Dementia
5 - The Crucified One
6 - Perfect Hate
7 - To The Grave
8 - Trail Of Blood
9 - Master Satan
10 - The Dead

17/20

Damned

Godless North - "Summon the Age of Supremacy" (Merciless Records/Breath of Night, CD, 2001)
This Canadian band released a demotape in 1998 named "Dark Rites of the Mystic Order" that received very good reviews within the Underground scene. Now, three years and couple of delays later, their debut "Summon the Age of Supremacy" is finally out.
By listening to this record, the first thing I noticed was that they continue in the same vein of the demo, but now you can clearly see more experience, specially in the way the songs are composed.
If you're not familiar with their demo I can classify their sound as a blending between Darkthrone's "Transylvanian Hunger" and Moonblood's "Blut Und Krieg", so don't expect a good production and a very technical album, for this is Blackmetal as it was meant to be: cold, harsh and primitive.
The only flaw I can point in this release is that the songs are relatively long and always at a high-pace, so it sometimes gets a little boring. But's it's not this detail that will change my opinion that this is a very good album.

Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. Glory of the Past Returns
3. Dark Skies Over Vinland
4. Under the Veil of Night
5. Winter of Cleansing
6. Upon Heathen Battlefields
7. Dawn of a New Empire
8.Wisdom of the Ancient Cults
9. ... The Wolf Unleashed - Outro

17/20

Shemahmforash

Godless North / Chemin de Haine - "Only Human Ashes are Real"(War Spirit, Split-CD, 2003)
Finally some new songs from the Canadian Godless North in the form of a split-CD along with the French Chemin de Haine.
The split features four songs from Godless North and three from Chemin de Haine.
About the Godless North part, their new songs show a much more mature band, when compared to their full-length "Summon the Age of Supremacy", now they managed to get rid of being labelled "darkthrone clones" with an own and original sound.
Their new sound is achieved with a superb combination of mid-paced parts with devastating high speed moments.
The songs played by Chemin de Haine in this split are quite similar to the ones they usually record alone, for those less familiar with them I can label their sound as a much more aggressive version of Celestia, if you know what I mean.
This split is clearly a good alliance between two bands very well respected within the Underground. Recommended only for the Blackmetal fan.

Tracklist:
1 - Godless North - Intro
2 - Godless North - The Fading Cause Of Light's Crusade
3 - Godless North - Sombre Reflections Of Hate's Embrace
4 - Godless North - Carnage on Holy Soil
5 - Chemin de Haine - Intro / Sempiternelle Existence
6 - Chemin de Haine - Ere Du Démon - Année Premiére
7 - Chemin de Haine - Le Christ Humilié / Outro

17,5/20

Shemahmforash

Graveland - "Memory and Destiny" (MCD, No Colours Records, 2002)
Well well, someone that listened to the first albums of this band, and since then have lost their track, may no longer recognize Graveland's sound, for now the grimm and raw parts have been replaced by atmospheric ones.
If you are not so familiar with this band's sound I can introduce it as some sort of hybrid form between Blackmetal, some pagan influences with a little touch of choirs.
This album is an authentic war anthem with songs that take us right in to the core of ancient battles. The way Darken manage to leads us to this long forgotten past is writing very long tracks (all of them are about 10 minutes long) that are dominated by mid paced moments, that remind me of the rhythmic pace of an army marching towards the battle, and filled with great landscapes produced by the keyboards.
I think that with this new sound Graveland have managed to gain a refreshed sonority and identity that, for being honest, is quite stronger than in the previous works.

Tracklist:
1 - Fate Of Warrior
2 - Jewel Of Atlanteans
3 - Memory And Destiny
4 - Legion Of Giants
5 - Runes of Rise

17/20

Shemahmforash

Gwydion - "Augmentation" (Demo, 2001)
A melodic Blackmetal band comming from Portugal, that's how I describe Gwydion with their 6 songs and a videoclip demo. I must confess you that I'm not a great follower of melodic Blackmetal, but this band somehow managed to capture me with this release.
This demo is filled with keyboards, but they do not muffle the guitars wich play very good (nothing complex, though, but quite effective) riffs.
What realy pleased me in this demo was the high degree of coordination that these guys already have and that they know how to compose songs, the only fault I can point in this is some lack of consistency in the songs, but they are young and have more than time to correct this. So for me, this is clearly a positive work, keep it going guys!

Tracklist:
1 - Augmentation
2 - Forbidden Path
3 - Untamed Wrath
4 - Tones of Anticipation
5 - The Great Dome
6 - Time Vortex
+ videoclip of Untamed Wrath

Shemahmforash

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