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Tartaros - "The Grand Psychotic Castle" (Necropolis Records, MCD, 1997)
Have you seen Emperor's "Emperial Live Cerimony" VHS? If you noticed who was playing keyboards, then you already know the mentor of this one-man project... Mr. Charmand Grimloch. He was invited by the almighty Emperor to handle the keyboards during their tour, due to his skillfulness with such instrument. And that skillfulness is once again proved (as If anyone still needed that) in this 5-song MCD, a piece of gloomy and ghostly Black Metal blended with some orchestrations and effects that remind me of horror movies (I admit, it really captured me). The keyboards work is supremely executed, it creates an intense atmosphere and gives the impression of a terryfing presence that wants to crawl out from the stereo speakers and head towards us. About the voices, this MCD is filled with somber choirs, chanting and terrifying screams that give an extra haunting touch to Grimloch's music. The guitar work is discreet, but quite good (in the beginning this instrument may seem almost inexistent and useless, but after a couple of listenings wou'll agree with me). Your blood will freeze to the sound of Tartaros.

Tracklist:
1 - Intro
2 - Dark Red Light Upon The Bomos
3 - Images Of The Mystic Sphere
4 - Tones Towards The Empyrean
5 - The Grand Psychotic Castle

16,5/20

Tormentor

The Haunted - "Made Me Do It" (Earache Records, CD, 2000)
At their second album, the band that started when At the Gates ended delivers a more mature and melodic, without being less brutal, album. 
"The haunted made me do it" is sang by Marco Aro, ex-face down, who replaces Peter Dolving; the drummer is also a new guy, Per Moller Jensen, instead of Adrian Erlandsson, who went to Cradle of Filth. The new dudes have proved that they are more than worth the place, for the drums are excellent, very "thrashy", and the vocals also very aggressive, incorporating small hardcore influences, something which only makes The Haunted's thrash metal more original.
As I have said before, this album is more melodic than "the haunted", incorporating a lot of Swedish stuff, without being extremely technical. However, it is brutal as hell - not a single track is headbanging-free, all of them are completely mad exercises of total headbanging, from "revelations" (the most brutal track of this record) to "human debris" or "victim iced", just to name a few.
And the vocals, they are not calm either, revolving around serial killers and their bad habits.
All in all, this is a very good album, not a "reign in blood", but one of the best thrash releases from these months. Highly recommended if you miss some serious headbanging to good thrash metal!

Tracklist:
1 - Dark Intentions
2 - Bury Your Dead
3 - Trespass
4 - Leech
5 - Hollow Ground
6 - Revelation
7 - The World Burns
8 - Human Debris
9 - Silencer
10 - Under The Surface
11 - Victime Iced

17/20

Zoid

Thorns - "Thorns" (Moonfog, CD, 2001) Finally it's out the homonymous Thorns debut album, and what a debut this is! Thorns is Snorre's solo project, the  guitarist very appreciated by many of the most respected people of the Norwegian metal scene. This album, says Snorre himself, has been prepared for 10 years, so the metal scene awaited this album with huge expectations.
And let me say that it was worth of the expectations. When listening to this album, you'll understand that it is completely different from what you have listened before! It's a completely uncommon album, but I say this in a good sense, because the strangeness brings a great originality.
About the instrumentalization, Snorre invited Satyr (from Satyricon) and Aldhran (from Dodheimsgard) to do the vocal works and Hellhammer for the drumming part, and I'm sure that he invited the right guys to record this album, because the combination, between Snorre's cold, fast and non-melodic guitar, Hellhammer's fast and precise drumming and Satyr's/Aldhran's powerful voice, worked wonderfully, seeming that they have been working together for years.
About the compositions of the songs, very strange guitar lines and rythms, combined with "industrial" keyboard sounds and with some samples, making some kind of "disturbing" atmospheres, in a unique way.
Concluding, this is a GREAT ALBUM, I must say it's a breath of fresh air in the almost stagnated nowadays metal scene.

Traclist:
1 - Existence
2 - World Playground Deceit
3 - Shifting Channels
4 - Stellar Master Elite
5 - Underneath the Universe (Part I)
6 - Underneath the Universe (Part II)
7 - Interface to god
8 - Vortex

19/20

Shemahmforash

Thou Shalt Suffer - "Somnium" (Candlelight, CD, 2000)
For those that don't know, thou shalt suffer started in the early 90's, and although Ihsahn was the leader, there were more guys accompanying him. The band practiced extreme metal, and even got to release an album, "into the woods of Belial". 
However, there was an evolution in both line-up and sound direction - Ihsahn became the only member, and referred that the new album would be a synth-only one. Indeed.
High expectations were being created about this album, many due to the "opus a satanna" track, featured in "anthems..." and the Reverence Ep. Forget it, you're not going to get that formal, pompous, classic style featured in that track.
The songs featured in "Somnium" are different. First of all, Ihsahn aimed at creating a connecting line between the songs, and tried to make this album some kind of a soundtrack for your sleep. Thus, expect very ethereal, strange, abstract melodies, all created with synths (many effects are featured, and sometimes you may think that you're hearing other instruments, but no). The songs are all named in Latin, with long names, so I'll just be referring to the songs by the number (although THE SONGS HAVE NAMES, something that many persons are always contradicting).
There is indeed some connection between the songs, but there should be more, for sometimes you just part from one thing to something not so similar. One of the things that probably contributed to this was the long writing process (from 1991 to 1999/2000), that contributed to the creation of sounds that contained very different feelings, thus not creating that so desirable guiding line throughout the album (Ihsahn even admitted that he released the record because he thought that if he wouldn't do it now, he would never do it).
There is some kind of a trocist feeling around sometimes, very weird, that really adds a certain psychadelic atmosphere to the songs. Rarely, you can hear some kind of a whisper, sometimes you even hear chants by Ihsahn's wife, Ihriel, although not very nice in quality (not the quality of the vocal lines, but the quality of the singer).
The tracks are very abstract, as I've said before, and feature different influences. On some there is a more classic feeling, particularly on the last track, on some a more darkwave/ambient influence, and on most a mix of the both.
The album has its flaws, like every album, but is nonetheless a very good work, made by a great genius of extreme metal, Ihsahn, from Emperor. And for those looking for more tripping, abstract stuff, believe me, you'll like this (I do).

Tracklist:
Somnium I
Somnium II
Somnium III
Somnium IV
Somnium V
Somnium VI
Somnium VII
Somnium VIII
Somnium IX
Somnium X

16/20

Zoid

Thunderbolt - "Black Clouds over Dark Majesty" (Ancestral Research, Split CD with Kataxu, 2000)
When I got this release I didn't knew Thunderbolt, so I couldn't throw any expectations towards the band and this (debut) split Cd with the also Slavonic Kataxu. This review will be focused only on Thunderbolt's recording because these Polish guys impressed me in a way I wasn't expecting. After an Intro full of bell chimes, wind samples and female histerical laughings, a feeling of nostalgia carried me back to the old days of Emperor's "In The Nightside Eclipse" as soon as the second track started, mainly due to the fuzzy riffing flowing out perfectly from the distant guitar sound. The general structures of the remaining tracks also remind me of Emperor's early characteristic compositions; when after a sudden stopping a distinct riff is initiated/repeated, inciting the drums to follow it energically throughout a different tempo ("Shadows of The Deepest Night") or even when a catchy melody jumps out from the blurred guitars' duet and overlays the main lead in a slow part (listen to "Moonglare", for example). Regarding the vocal performance, the typical hoarse singing is all there, featuring the necessary range of deepness after being blended with the other instruments. To complete Thunderbolt's creation, I must mention the presence of well-inserted ambient synth and acoustic passages wich help not only to keep up the interest but also to give an extra majestic/epic touch to the music, in the band's attempt to take the listener on a glorious trip to vast unknown landscapes (for instance on "Wilderness of The Eternal Darkness" and "My Dark Imagination"). By the end of the instrumental "Song of Glory" (two smooth and melancholic minutes of keyboard playing supported by the underlying dragged guitar line, sounding like a warrior's farewell), it's more than obvious that Thunderbolt went to drink influences from acts such as Emperor and - far from being clones - were able to shape and deliver them within the right proportions, adding a very personal touch. Recommended..

Tracklist:
1 - Intro (An Invitation)
2 - Shadows of the Deepest Night
3 - My Dark Imagination
4 - Wilderness of the Eternal Darkness
5 - Moonglare
6 - The Song of Glory

17/20

Tormentor

Thy Serpent - "Forests of Witchery" (Spinefarm Records, CD, 1996)
This was the debut full-length (containing 6 tracks) of the Finnish Thy Serpent. Previously they've released 2 demos that luckily assured them a contract with the also Finnish Spinefarm Records (label of other bands such as December Moon and Gates of Ishtar). So, during the demos, Thy Serpent was just a one-man project handled by Sami Tenetz, but I've for the recordings of this album he has recruited Luopio, Azhemin and Agathon (damn, why can't these guys have normal names?). Anyhow, their sonority can be "labeled" as atmospheric and melodic Black Metal, with a few Goth influences. The tracks here are very lengthy, usually played mid-tempo or even more slowly (I've noticed a couple of catchy riffs), mixing up acoustic sections with some orchestrations that have the purpose to create a "smooth", distant melancholic atmosphere. As a final note, I must say that this is a good album...despite not standind out much whem compared to the rest of the releases of the genre that have seen daylight. If you like this kind of music, go ahead and check this out...but sincerely it left me quite indifferent.

Tracklist:
1 - Flowers of Witchery
2 - Of Darkness and Light
3 - A traveller of Unknown Plains
4 - Only Dust Moves...
5 - Like a Funeral Veil of Melancholy
6 - Wine from Tears

13/20

Tormentor

Tormentvm - "Misanthropic Propaganda"(Demo, 2003)
Seems like the Portuguese Underground is spitting some good acts lately. This new band composed by Morbius (bass) and Raven Black (vocals), along with the session members Tóxico (drums) and P.H (guitars) features here their debut demo entitled "Misanthropic Propaganda". It resumes to three tracks of high-speed black metal with slighty downtuned guitars and hate-filled raspy vokills. I usually don't like computerized drummings. but the guy who programmed these knows what he's doing, showing a clearly advanced sense of rhythm on each blast beat and break; some of them, despite of very well performed, were excessively used though (in the end of "In Tormentvm", for example). All the tracks have rather simple but effective structures and are tightly played, with a special reference to a couple of mid-paced passages where Raven Black's vocals feature additional echo, wich add more interest to this demo. Concerning Morbius' performance, it is quite discreet and reveals a small lack of timing on the middle of "Hate", but that's not minimally relevant. As for the production, the guitars could be slightly more tuned up with the other elements, in my opinion the overall sonority would gain more with that change; but maybe the band's intention was to keep the 6-strings slightly backgrounded. To end this review, a final note to the decent artwork/promo packaging, accompained with a small biography of the band, everything done with the possible profissionalism (btw, the band's logo was created by the well-known Cristophe Szpajdel). A very positive effort from these newcomers, from wich I expect to hear something more in a near future.

Tracklist:
1 - Hate
2 - In Tormentvm
2 - Call for Retaliation

Tormentor

Tsjuder - "Kill For Satan" (Drakkar Productions, CD, 2000)
After two demos, one EP and one promo album, finally came out the debut album from this Norwegian band.
This band plays Blackmetal as it is supposed to be: raw, fast, brutal and anti-christian.
About the album itself they managed to join very fast and brutal parts with other "painful" slow parts, making a great combination not falling in to the common monotony and repetitivety of some Blackmetal bands. Sometimes, throughout the album appears samples from movies, which are very well inserted, this samples allied with the appearence of a back guttural voice brings, also, something different to the album, besides this, there is an experimental song named "Unleashed" and surprisingly, being some kind of electronic, it is quite good. I just have one bad thing to say about this album, the drums' sound could be better, after listening the album a couple of times, it starts to be annoying.
Tsjuder say: "We play raw and brutal Black Metal, and take total distance from most of the “new wave” melodic, atmospheric, folkloric, trollish, vampiric, etc “Black Metal”!" - I completely agree.

Tracklist:
1 - The Daemon Gate
2 - Necromancy
3 - Lord of Terror
4 - Raping Christianity
5 - Dying Spirits
6 - Unleashed
7 - Kill for Satan - The Kings Birth
8 - Sodomizing the Lamb - The Kings conquering
9 - Beyond the Grave - The Kings Reign

17/20

Shemahmforash

Tsjuder - "Demonic Possession" (Drakkar Productions, CD, 2002)
After several delays the new Tsjuder album finally reached my hands. This new opus is quite different from its predecessor "Kill for Satan", one can see a clearer thrash influence in the guitar lines and also the absence of the slow and painful parts of their debut album, now the songs are much more direct, which makes them more interesting and less tiring. In my opinion the biggest flaw of their debut album was very well corrected, for the drum's sound is very well achieved now.
Technically this isn't a masterpiece, but its a coherent work without any major flaws, and that's what really matters, at least in my opinion.
With this new album Tsjuder consolidated their position has one of the most respected Blackmetal bands within the Underground Blackmetal scene, so if you follow Blackmetal for real look no further, go ahead and by this album, because this is very good material with all that is required: a great amount of attitude and the spirit of the early days.

Tracklist:
1 - Eriphion Epistates
2 - Demoner Av Satans Rik
3 - Ancient Hate
4 - Bloodshedding Horror
5 - Deathwish
6 - A Twisted Mind
7 - I-10
8 - Primeval Fear
9 - Outro

18/20

Shemahmforash

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