Saturday, December 30, 2017

SCUMFEAST METAL 666 Favorites for 2017

If You Don't Like My Favorites for 2017 I'll Waste This Kitten.

SCUMFEAST METAL 666 - My Favorites for 2017

Ah yes it's another favorites or best of the year list. Not only is this list obligatory but it's explanation like all other explanations for year end lists Is Just As Obligatory. With that said I don't like to say "best of" simply because I haven't heard everything released in 2017. Lets be honest, everyone's pick is basically a favorite. Also let me point out that advertising did not play a part in what releases were chosen as my favorites for 2017. Magazines and large websites depend on advertising dollars to survive. Therefore many of their year end picks are given to those who pay ahead or on the barrel-head. So with all of that said here's my Favorites for 2017.


The genre's old guard were quiet in 2017 or just don't exist within the genre at all. So for me 2017 was an interesting year of black metal releases. A new guard emerged reminding fans of the genre's great potential as well as tradition. Here's my top 10 black metal faves.

1) ATREXIAL - Sourverain (Godz  Of  War  Productions)
2) CADAVERIS - The Ceremony Of Worshiping (Heretic Records)
3) DUMAL - The Lessor God (Self Released) 
4) RIMTHURS - Gravskrift (Ketzer Records)
5) ESKAPISM - Tales of Elder Forest (Folkvangr Records) 
6) UNHOLY BAPTISM - On the Precipice of the Ancient Abyss (Self Released)
7) SOMBRE CROISADE - Balancier Des Ames (Pest Records)
8) NECROWRETCH - Satanic Slavery (Season of Mist)
9) THORMESIS - Trummerfarben (MDD Records)
10) AKRAL NECROSIS - Underlight (Loud Rage Music)


It's always a good year in death metal especially when you have labels like Dark Descent and Iron Bonehead dedicated to bringing fans the best from the underground. There were some death metal veterans returning in 2017 to show that they're still got a few tricks left and of course there's always a great Polish death metal act proving that nation's scene always has a heavy hitter in the fight. And a local act who defied a cliche. So here's my ten favorites for 2017.

1) HERESIARCH - Death Ordinance (Dark Descent Records)
2) AZARATH – In Extremis (Agonia Records)
3) FATHER BEFOULED - Desolate Gods (Dark Descent Records)
4) MORDBRAND - Wilt (Carnal Records)
5) RITUALIZATION - Sacraments To The Sons Of The Abyss (Iron Bonehead Productions) 
6) HAEMOPHAGUS - Stream Of Shadows (Selfmadegod Records)
7) BELPHEGOR - Totenritual (Nuclear Blast) 
8) LOATHFINDER - The Great Tired Ones (Godz ov War Productions)
9) DATURA - The Harrowing (Rusty Knuckles) 
10) SPECTRAL VOICE - Eroded Corridors of Unbeing (Dark Descent Records)

Category: DOOM METAL

Call it doom, sludge metal, stoner rock or some other weirdness, basically I got plenty of releases in for review under this banner (mostly sludge by the way). This years picks consist of some old favorites, a few female fronted acts as well as some bong heads and a local favorite.

1) PARADISE LOST - Medusa (Nuclear Blast)
2) SEASON OF ARROWS - Give it to the Mountain (Argonauta Records)
3) DOPELORD - Children Of The Haze (Green Plague Records)
4) UFOMAMMUT – 8 (Neurot Recordings)
5) DEVIL ELECTRIC - Self Titled (Kozmik Artifactz)
6) UNEARTHLY TRANCE - Stalking The Ghost (Relapse Records)
7) FROWNING - Extinct (Black Lion Productions)
8) DEAD WITCHES - Ouija (Heavy Psych Sounds)
9) HORSESKULL - Chemical Winter Blues (Self Released)
10) BRUME - Rooster (Doom Stew Records)


Seems like blackened thrash was the flavor of the year along with sounding like DRI. Whatever here's my top five favorites for bands who like it fast and furious.

1) DEATH YELL - Descent Into Hell (Hells Headbangers Records)
2) EPI-DEMIC - Malformed Conscience (Horror Pain Gore Productions) 
3) CRAVEN IDOL - The Shackles of Mammon (Dark Descent Records)
4) POWER TRIP - Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord)
5) IRON REAGAN - Crossover Ministry (Relapse Records)


I don't get much grind to blast during the year then again I don't go out of my way to find it. Honestly it comes to me but since there's no big name mainstream acts with something out. 2017 was left to the underground so here's my five favorites of the year which drove me nuts.

1) PRAY U PREY - Figure The 8 (Selfmadegod Records)
2) KRATORNAS - Devoured By Damnantion (Grathila Records)
3) HANDSOME PRICK - Anonymityville (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
4) ANTHROPIC - Self Titled (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
5) GRIEVE / NO GODS - Split (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions) 

Category: METAL

Whether it's revived hard fuckin rock of the 70's, nwobhm sounding stuff, a mix of punk and metal or just fuckin cool shit. Yeah straight up metal, throw the horns, is back and not in a revival status. Here's my top eight favorites for 2017

1) MIDNIGHT - Sweet Death and Ecstasy (Hells Headbangers)
2) DUEL - Witchbanger (Heavy Psych Sounds)
3) ARGUS - From Fields of Fire (Cruz del Sur Music)
4) TEMPTATION'S WINGS - Skulthor Ebonblade (Self Released)
5) LADY BEAST - Vicious Breed (Cruz del Sur Music)
6) KIFF - Declares War on Music (Self Released)
7) WALPYRGUS - Walpyrgus Nights (Cruz del Sur Music)
8) DEATH OF KINGS - Kneel Before None (Boris Records)


Years ago, like when this genre was a fad. I'd have listened to way over a dozen releases by bands from the pagan fest realm. Times have changed at least for this year but hey here's three of my favorites for 2017.

1) WORMWOOD - Ghostlands: Wounds From a Bleeding Earth (Non Serviam Records)
2) WARSEID - A New Land To Find (Soundage Productions)
3) ASHAENA - Calea (Loud Rage Music)


I have to say what gets past off as punk or hardcore these days is a fuckin joke, especially the hardcore. Where's the guts, the glory, the threat? Who wants to hear some safe sedate politically correct hipster shit? Fuck You! That's what I say. So here we have five great releases that push things to the extreme. 

1) ANTISEEN - Obstinate (Mystery School Records)
2) SVETLANAS - Naked Horse Rider (Altercation Records)
3) VIOLENT OPPOSITION - Courage And Conviction (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
4) STREET CLONES - Cloned For Your Pleasure (Mystery School Records)
5) RAW DOG - A New Low Live (Self Released)

Category: LABELS

Basically here are some of my favorite labels of 2017. I came to this listing because of consistency. Sure all of their releases might not have been in top slots but as a whole they've consistently released good stuff all year. Here's five favorites from me in no particular order.

Folkvangr Records

A little o'l US black metal cassette label who put out a bunch of decent releases this year that any black metal fan will want. Collect em all you corpse painted fiends. I look forward to what they have in store for 2018.

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions 

The fine people at this label hailing from Hostile City, USA (aka: Philadelphia, PA) release stuff that simply falls into the catagory of extreme which any scumpunk metal fan will go apeshit over. Check out their end of year comp here:

That's right, this is scumpunk and scum-metal for scumbags. Their bands are filthy and desperate like a South Street whore on a Sunday night.

Dark Descent Records

Years ago when I started doing this blog Dark Descent Records were just a fledgeling label putting out dark destructive releases. Nowadays they are the leaders of the extremes in death or blackened material. Their releases always seem to find their way into my favorites.

Relapse Records

I put this once great label in my list not because they're consistently good. On the contrary in 2017 their releases I reviewed were consistently bad. But hey I'm sure my voice/opinion is meaningless because the label as well as some magazines and websites are all owned by a parent company. So the releases I don't care for will always get good press. Be that as it may I'll always give Relapse the benefit of the doubt because I own a huge amount of their back catalog and they look like they'll have some good stuff in 2018.

Category: SPLITS

There were a couple of split releases I liked this year but there's only one which really ripped paint off the wall, pissed off the neighbors and of course made the dogs howl.

SACRIFICIAL SLAUGHTER / ENFUNERATION - American Death Thrash (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)

Category: REISSUES

I have to say I've missed out or better yet skipped out on many reissues this year for a few simple reasons. One, I own the original so I don't need to buy your overpriced (sometimes 3X the original) hipster only reissue. Two, I own the original so your package of extra tracks which end up being bad demos is a joke. And three, I've missed out. But I will say this, some reissues are worthy because they bring back that feeling of nostalgia and here's three releases which did that for me in 2017.

NEUROSIS - The Word As Law (Neurot Recordings)
THE MIST - Phantasmagoria (Greyhaze Records)
MUTILATOR - Immortal Force (Greyhaze Records)

Friday, December 29, 2017

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Moribund Death Cult Vol. 4 review

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Moribund Death Cult Vol. 4

Moribund Records

What a way to end the year, with Moribund Records and some serious black fucking metal. Yes it's Cold, Grim and Evil. If you are a metal enthusiast and have shelves full of CDs or LPs then maybe you separate them by genre. I've got six shelves dedicated to black metal CDs (big shelves) and a year ago I decided to dedicate one full shelf to Moribund releases. Because I own so many of em. It is not crazy to like one particular label especially if they are dedicated to a genre you love and Moribund does that.

My first Moribund compilation experience came when I picked up DODSFERD's Fucking Your Creation CD and the comp came along with it. I then went about picking up everything by the bands on that comp CD. I was a Moribund Cult fan from then on. Sadly the past couple of years I haven't kept up with their releases. I've listened to a few this year but nothing was a standout as opposed to years ago.

But as far as this comp goes the standout tracks for me come from VARDAN, MORTUALIA, WAXEN, UNHUMAN DISEASE and of course DODSFERD. Yeah years ago every track was standout on a Moribund comp, oh well.

BELPHEGOR - Totenritual review

BELPHEGOR - Totenritual

Nuclear Blast 

I like how this release has that soundbite proclaiming "You Are Tainted! The Devil Is In Your Flesh". It's one of a few more soundbites. Then again this is BELPHEGOR and are one of my favorite bands. Yes bias alert I have been tainted by the sounds of Austria's sons of blackened death metal for many years. I'll also admit that in my book they could do no wrong but they can be mediocre. Case in point, 2014's Conjuring the Dead was a let down for me.

But to the band's credit there were some legitamite reasons for it not being top notch. Helmuth Lehner's serious illness had an impact on his vocal chords. Also they had been putting out incredible releases at a record pace for almost ten years. Plus their early stuff was exceptional as well. So here we have their eleventh full length, along this being their twenty fifth anniversary. BELPHEGOR's latest is a welcome return to, believe it, their past. Most of this release sounds reminiscent of Lucifer Incestus, Goatreich / Fleshcult and Pestapokalypse VI. Basically we're talking about the unholy trinity they put out in the early 2000s.

For those of you new to Satan's house band I'll explain. The songs on here have a subtle touch to there deviant destructive purposes. Were as their last bunch of releases were almost symphonic. On here the band has toned things down a bit, well except for "Apophis / Black Dragon" which is typical. The rest of the album is diabolical in it's execution. The wall of sound is creepy instead of overwhelming. Well rounded song structures intertwining the blasting blackness with punishing death, most of the time in slow motion. Guitar soloing is more intricate as well.

In the end BELPHEGOR created an album severely needed by them to stay interesting. They could've just phoned in a recording of their typical Bondage Walpurgis Necromance themed release and be done with it. But no they went back to their roots to rip one a new asshole. Also one of the best albums of 2017.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

PARADISE LOST - Medusa review


Nuclear Blast

Can I just say this is better than the last two albums they put out this decade? Ah I guess not, alright then I'll start out by saying something you don't normally see. I am not a huge fan of PARADISE LOST. Hey over their long career (what is it like thirty years now?) they've put out some great albums. They've also put out some mediocre ones and some crap. I only like the albums that are actually metal sounding and I think I'm in the majority on this topic.

Be that as it may, I think Medusa is a great album which is about fuckin time. I'm thinking Gregor Mackintosh's work in his old school death metal side project, VALLENFYRE, has finally made these guys kick it up a notch. This is death doom but not in the sorrowful sense of "oh look it's raining out. I'm so sad." No this is death doom as in two red eyes staring at you from the darkness.

Medusa is an evil sounding album. Nick Holmes has his growling voice back better than what's been done previously in recent years. Sure he's clean speaking/singing too but that's a gimme. The guitar tones are dense and crushing. The way the album starts off giving you three heavy upbeat cuts: "Fearless Sky", "Gods Of Ancient" and "From The Gallows" is a benefit in my not so fuckin humble opinion. Aggression and anger is alive in this band's belly.

The really epic cuts, which remind ya of the past, come in at the mid point on "The Longest Winter" and the title cut. The former is the better of the two especially with Mackintosh's kinda psych tremolo lead work. The title cut hearkens back to the band's more depressive and melodic death/doom days with Nick Holmes in clean vocal mode. This cut goes out to the Goth guys out there in black eyeliner and SISTERS OF MERCY t-shirts they bought at Hot Topic ten years ago. They probably still live with their parents as well.

"No Passage For The Dead" and the final cut, "Until the Grave" are a return to the evil death doom hate which is more in line with what these guys have been doing off of their more recent releases. The songs are gritty and intense plus that old school death metal guitar tone running throughout. Then in between those two the band pulls one out of no where with "Blood & Chaos". This one rocks like it was a throwaway from In Requiem that they gave a second chance.

That's basically the release but I got the digibook version with two extra tracks and they're very good as well. All in all Medusa is a great album as far as my PARADISE LOST tastes go. Although I think they're due to put out a mediocre one next time. Then all the goth whores who've been complaining will be happy and stop their incessant whining which they've been doing for the past ten years.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY : The Return of the Mark 5 line-up Live

They're back, yeah it's the long awaited return of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY aka: The Return of the Mark 5 line-up featuring:

Pepper Keenan - vocals, guitar
Woodroe Weatherman - guitar
Mike Dean - bass, vocals
Reed Mullin - drums, vocals

I say long awaited because you've gotta be honest. Call em Southern Sludge, Southern Sabbath or the Pepper Line-up. The fact is that this era of COC was their most successful in terms of popularity. Of course there's always going to be disagreements between longtime fans as to which era of the band they liked the most. The bottom line is this was the line-up where they really broke out onto a world wide audience in the mid-90s. And since they're a Raleigh, NC band, like I always say, ya gotta support a local (unless they're a bunch of hipsters).

In January the band will release No Cross No Crown on Nuclear Blast Records. There's already a lot of pre-release buzz about that record as is expected. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY joins Black Label Society tonight for a mammoth North American live takeover. The tour begins in Denver, Colorado and will wind its way through nearly four dozen cities, the journey coming to a close February 27th, 2018. Additional support will be provided by Eyehategod and Red Fang on select shows. See all confirmed dates below.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY w/ Black Label Society, Eyehategod (12/29 - 1/20; 2/11 - 2/27), Red Fang (1/26 - 2/09):
12/27/2017 Ogden Theatre - Denver, CO
12/29/2017 Anthem at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Sioux City, IA ^
12/30/2017 Uptown Theater - Kansas City, MO ^
12/31/2017 Pop's Nightclub - Sauget, IL^
1/02/2018 Sokol Auditorium - Omaha, NE^
1/03/2018 House Of Blues - Chicago, IL ^
1/04/2018 Egyptian Room at Old National Centre - Indianapolis, IN ^
1/05/2018 The Fillmore Detroit - Detroit, MI ^
1/07/2018 Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park, NY ^
1/08/2018 M Telus - Montreal, QC ^
1/09/2018 Rebel - Toronto, ON ^
1/10/2018 20 Monroe Live - Grand Rapids, MI ^
1/12/2018 Diamond Ballroom - Oklahoma City, OK ^
1/13/2018 Bomb Factory - Dallas, TX ^
1/14/2018 Emo's - Austin, TX ^
1/15/2018 House Of Blues - Houston, TX ^
1/17/2018 House Of Blues - New Orleans, LA ^
1/18/2018 Marathon Music Works - Nashville, TN ^
1/19/2018 Bogart's - Cincinnati, OH ^
1/20/2018 Center Stage - Atlanta, GA ^
1/26/2018 Jannus Live - St. Petersburg, FL *
1/27/2018 House Of Blues - Myrtle Beach, SC *
1/28/2018 The Ritz - Raleigh, NC *
1/29/2018 The Fillmore Silver Spring - Silver Spring, MD *
1/31/2018 PlayStation Theater - New York, NY *
2/01/2018 The Palladium - Worcester, MA *
2/02/2018 Aura - Portland, ME *
2/03/2018 Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA *
2/05/2018 Town Ballroom - Buffalo, NY *
2/06/2018 The Goodyear Theater at East End - Akron, OH *
2/07/2018 Stage AE - Pittsburgh, PA *
2/08/2018 Eagles Ballroom Club Stage - Milwaukee, WI *
2/09/2018 Myth Live - St. Paul, MN *
2/11/2018 O'Brians Event Centre - Saskatoon, SK ^
2/12/2018 The Ranch Roadhouse - Edmonton, AB ^
2/14/2018 Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC ^
2/16/2018 Bowes Event Center at Revolution Place - Grande Prairie, AB ^
2/17/2018 MacEwan Hall - Calgary, AB ^
2/19/2018 Showbox SoDo - Seattle, W ^
2/20/2018 Roseland Theater - Portland, OR ^
2/21/2018 Ace Of Spades - Sacramento, CA ^
2/23/2018 House of Blues - Las Vegas, NV ^
2/24/2018 The Marquee - Tempe, AZ ^
2/25/2018 Sunshine Theater - Albuquerque, NM ^
2/27/2018 The Fonda Theatre - Los Angeles, CA ^
^ w/ Eyehategod
* w/ Red Fang

Frankly COC could fill any hall or arena all on their own as headliners. I guarantee ya that on this tour bill it'll be them who the crowds (mainstream metal fans) show up for first and foremost. Ever since the news came out that Pepper Keenan was back in the band. The mainstream metal media as a whole took a collective shit in their pants. For more info on COC you can go to the following sites:

But for now here's a teaser of what to expect on tour.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

MASK OF SATAN - Silent Servants (Chants of Lovecraftian Horror) review

MASK OF SATAN - Silent Servants (Chants of Lovecraftian Horror)

Star Spawn Society

I have this crazy movie watching ritual every October. Basically I watch at least one of my favorite classic horror movies every night of the month till Halloween. One of those movie favorites is the 1960 Italian gothic horror Black Sunday starring Barbara Steele and directed by Mario Bava. The movie is also known in Italian as La maschera del demonio or The Mask of Satan. So here we have a Finnish death metal act taking on that name.

This is MASK OF SATAN's debut full length. The band started out in 2015 by three sick individuals who already shared the same bands but wanted to create something more as far as a death metal act who are into old horror movies and gore. Ah yeah like a lot of other bands over the past few decades of death metal. Musically the band keeps things old school which is fine but I was kinda hoping it to have a more horrific atmosphere befitting of their name.

To their benefit this three piece adds a catchy groove side to their brand of death metal on a few cuts. Bang your fuckin head before it gets cut off. I can't say much for the drum work or the guitar soloing which does add some technical flair in limited quantities. What gets to me the most are the vocals. They have a gruff horroresque quality to them as a whole with a crazy rasping once in a while. They leave me with a sick grin every time I listen to this and sadly it's in a comedic way.

Be that as it may the basic rhythm pattern that MASK OF SATAN produces overcomes everything I would dismiss about em. I bet the kill in concert and maybe some better production would benefit this or their next one. The potential is there for a filthy death and groove act. That's even when you consider the thought that it sounds like Frankenstein's monster is singing or maybe some elder god from the works of H. P. Lovecraft.

Just for the hell of it

Friday, December 22, 2017



The following is what I came up with:

Yule customs through Germanic lands:
Midwinter/Yule (*Jegwla = The Yelling):
Midwinter, also known as Yule (Anglo-Saxon), Jól (Old Norse), Jul (Scandinavian and German), Joel (Dutch), or Twelve Nights, was held at the Winter Solstice.

The word Yule means "to yell" or "to cheer" (German "johlen" and Dutch "joelen"), which may refer to the merry drinking feasts that were held during this period though a more plausible explanation is that it refers to the noise that the people made to scare off evil spirits during this time, just like the Chinese light firecrackers to scare off the evil spirits.

Jól was the most important holiday of the year and a combination of a fertility festival and a commemoration for the dead; this combination sounds weird but since Jól was the Germanic new year it represented both the "death" of old and the "birth" of new, it started on the day of the Winter solstice, which was mostly December the 21st, this day was also called "Midwinter" and was opened with merry celebrations, in Frisian and Saxon areas Christmas is still called "Midwinter", Jól lasted for 12 days (mostly until January the 2nd) and after the last day of Jól the Germanic new year began.

The custom of placing a Christmas tree in the house is indirectly of heathen origin; in ancient times the people of northern Europe left offerings to the gods under a tree during Christmas, this was done outside because cutting down a tree just for fun was considered to be disrespectful towards nature, like so many other heathen customs this practice was forbidden by the church in most places, but in Germany the people refused to abandon this custom so the church decided to Christianize it; the Christmas tree was now cut down and brought into the house after which it was decorated with angels and stars to include a link to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, though the balls and lights in the tree are also of heathen origin, this custom was originally only performed in Germany but during the 1800's it was adopted by many other European countries.

In Scandinavia the people held a procession during Jól in which they sacrificed the Jól boar to the god Ing (Frey) at the great heathen temple of Uppsala, a Christianized version of this custom still survives in Scandinavia today as St Lucia's Day, the Anglo-Saxons had a similar custom and nowadays the Swedes still eat cookies in the form of a boar during Christmas, Dutch bakers also make marzipan boars or pigs that they sell to their customers during the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration that takes place just before the Christmas period, the people also make boars and billy-goats of straw or ares of corn; most of this local customs probably originate from a single collective heathen festival in which a boar was sacrificed to Frey.

During Christmas some Norwegians leave gifts of food and drink outside for the 13 Jólasveinar, this 13 spirits are believed to bring the harvest, each day one of them arrives on Earth and brings gifts; the first one arrives 13 days before Christmas and every day another one joins him until all 13 are present, after that they will disappear in reverse order, ending on the Twelfth Night of Jól.

In Norwegian folklore there is also the belief that the god Odin secretly listens to people who are holding conversations near a campfire during Jól, he does this to find out if they are happy in their life, he also leaves bread for the poor people.
During Jól it was a custom to give each other presents, the more presents one gave, the more fertile the year that would follow, in many modern European countries the people still give each other presents during the Jól period, especially Christmas and the Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations are good examples of that.

The Swedes have the custom of brewing ale at Christmas, it is believed that ale brewed during Jól possesses magical powers and the Swedes often save this drink for special occasions during the rest of the year, the Swedes also drink "Julmust", which is a special type of Christmas beer, and also Sanniklaus, which is the strongest beer in the world with an alcohol percentage of 13.5%, this drink is also only brewed during the Christmas period; the custom of brewing beer at Christmas also exists in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and many other countries so this was probably an old heathen tradition.

In ancient times the people also performed "Minne-drinks", a Minne drink was a drink to the well being of a person, a god, ancestors, or something/someone else, during Jól it was a custom to drink Minne to the dead.

Part of a mask (Middelstum, the Netherlands 700BC) Another very old Swedish custom of heathen origin is the "St. Stefan's ride", which is held at December 26, it has been named after a Christian saint called "Stefan" to Christianize it but its roots are purely heathen; young men wearing straw costumes or white shirts put on masks or paint their faces black to represent evil spirits, they then mount their horses and ride to a certain river; the wild group of horsemen represent the riders of the Wild Hunt and the custom of painting your face black can also be seen in the Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations where Sinterklaas' funny black helpers originally represented the spirits of the Wild Hunt, the river may have something to do with the belief that water was an entrance to Helheim.

In Swedish folklore the horse riders are lead by a character called Trond, who is blind and wears a beard, this reminds a lot of the god Wodan, who was believed to lead the Wild Hunt.

A custom similar to that in Sweden was also performed in Germany, but these days it has unfortunately died out in most places there.

The same goes for the Netherlands, but in the Saxon areas in the north and east of the country this tradition has survived until about a century ago; during 2nd. Christmas day (the Dutch celebrate Christmas for two days) the sint-Steffensrit (saint-Stefan's ride) was held in which young men rode through the neighborhood on horseback and stopped at every inn (herberg) where the innkeeper gave them an alcoholic drink that they had to drink without dismounting their horses.

This tradition (which is mentioned in J.Schuyf's "Heidens Nederland") is believed to be a remnant of an old Germanic ritual where riders on horseback rode through the fields to symbolically fertilize them.

In the German Harz and its surrounding areas there is a legend about a character called "Hackelberg" who leads the Wild Hunt, this name is probably a corruption of "Hackelbernd", who was a legendary oberjagdmeister ("upper-hunting-master") from the 16th century who traded eternal well-being for the eternal right to hunt, although this legend is based on a 16th century hunter its origins are probably much older.

The Swedes also ring bells at the end of the 12 nights of Yule, a custom that is shared by many other Germanic countries; in the Dutch cities of Katlijk and Oudehorne for instance there is the custom of "St. Thomasluiden" in which bells are sounded continuously during the 12 nights of Yule to scare off evil spirits, originally this was also done at night but later this was limited to daytime only, an interesting thing to mention is that the people of Katlijk used to sound the bells on the graveyard and combine it with a party, but this is no longer allowed because it was considered inappropriate, from a heathen viewpoint it makes sense though; after all honoring the dead is an important part of Yule.

Sounding bells during Yule is very old and is believed to date back to Pre-Germanic northern Europe (at least 4000 years ago), though in most modern countries this custom has either disappeared or has been Christianized by connecting it to a Christian saint like for instance St. Thomas in the Netherlands.

Saxo Grammaticus also mentions that bells were used in heathen temples and it is believed that the use of bells in churches is actually a Christianized heathen custom.
There are still many legends that mention how newly made churchbells had to be blessed by priests to Christianize them and how the devil, white women, or heathen gods stole the unsanctified bells and threw them into a lake where they can be heard during the 12 nights of Yule, these stories are very common and there is actually such a lake in my vicinity too.

Another Dutch custom is "Midwinterhoornblazen" (Midwinter-horn-blowing), in which some people blow on big horns that are made of birch and other types of wood; this was originally done to scare off evil spirits but these days it is only a tradition.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Horror Pain Gore Death Year in Review

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Horror Pain Gore Death Year in Review

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

Need some music for that holiday party at work? Going home for the holidays and want something to listen to while your family whines about meaningless crap? Maybe you need a good soundtrack to play while you're driving in congested holiday traffic? Well friends, fiends and you others here you go. The fine people at Horror Pain Gore Death Productions in Hostile City (aka: Philadelphia, PA) have come up with their 2017 Year in Review compilation. Oh yeah and it's FREE.

What we have here is 39 tracks, an hour and fifty six minutes of pure fuckin extreme music. This thing has it all, death metal, grind, hardcore, punk and some insanity set to music. This is not like those freebie CDs that Century Media use to include in their releases (which always SUCKED!). Nor is this some punk fanzine comp where you have one or two big name bands and the rest are no name LOSERS! In fact I can vouch for plenty of these bands because their releases were reviewed in SFM666 this year. So here you go.

MIDNIGHT - Sweet Death and Ecstasy review

MIDNIGHT - Sweet Death and Ecstasy

Hells Headbangers

This might be MIDNIGHT's best album to date. Now before all of you crybabies and noobs start to whine let me explain. The first album was a compilation OK so lets get that out of the way. Satanic Royalty and No Mercy for Mayhem were great albums but they both had something in common. Both releases had a few great songs and a bunch of average cuts. It was those great songs which carried those releases.

Sweet Death and Ecstasy doesn't have a handful of cool songs. Fuckin every song on here is exciting and I'm talking about the first eight cuts on the first CD. Songs like "Crushed By Demons", "Here Comes Sweet Death" and "Before My Time in Hell" are full on true metal. Sure there's plenty of typical MIDNIGHT speedy stuff but seriously it's gotta be taken as a whole. This is pure fuckin greatness from MIDNIGHT.

LADY BEAST - Vicious Breed review

LADY BEAST - Vicious Breed

Cruz del Sur Music

Here's a band that from what I've read has been likened to IRON MAIDEN with a female vocalist. Well I'm glad to see I'm not the only person out in the metal media guilty of hyperbole. While having some galloping rhythms doesn't make a band MAIDEN devotes. Neither does borrowing a riff from SABBATH's "Heaven & Hell" on their cut "Always With Me" make you thieves. LADY BEAST does rock in the true metal sense.

If this Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania five piece act's goal was to recreate a 1980's sounding metal album well they nailed it. Deborah Levine's gutsy vocals and the lead guitar soloing are out front of the basic rhythms. All of that means the production is perfect 1980s. As far as the touches of MAIDEN there's "Every Giant Shall Fall" as the most obvious. Well there is "Sky Graves" but that's an instrumental. Most of the other cuts are more subtle but in the long run it shouldn't matter.

LADY BEAST started out back in 2009, have two previous full lengths, an EP from last year and a line-up change or two. I haven't heard any of their previous output but I will say the Vicious Breed is definitely a perfect release. Every song is cool as fuck, grabs you by the throat and of course exciting. If there's one problem I can see it's that it's thirty years too late.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

WORMWITCH - Strike Mortal Coil review

WORMWITCH - Strike Mortal Coil


The info on this one was black metal meets a rock n roll approach aka: black n roll. Although the more times I listen the more I'm thinking Gothenburg-style melodic black and death metal. Yeah and that's strange since this debut full length comes from some Canadians. Specifically WORMWITCH hail from Vancouver, British Columbia. They've been around since 2015 and their only previous official out put is a single from last year.

Now black n roll is nothing new as far as a sub-genre of black metal. Secondly it's a fun sounding, get the fuck off yer ass type of sound. I'd say there's quite a few blackened thrash acts the lean more towards it then their own. As far as WORMWITCH goes they kinda remind me of a cross between DARK FUNERAL and DISFEAR. Not a bad pairing in the least. The vocals come over as harsh for the most part. Musically their songs are mostly rocking with some exceptions.

"Even the Sun Will Die" shows the band having some doom aspirations. Actually it's a pretty damm good cut with monstrous riffs coupled with solid drumming. The song then bleeds into some straight up black metal which ends in pure rocking glory. Another twist is the song "...and Smote His Ruin upon the Mountainside", a cut which opens as a sludge covered beast which reverts back into the band's standard black n roll march. All in all a decent release.

Friday, December 15, 2017

ESCHATOS - Maere review


Self Released

File this one under late night horror music. Here we have a two song EP by Latvia's ESCHATOS, a band (a six piece act) liken themselves to experimental black metal. Actually I don't hear an experiment going on. The band, which is made up of various musicians from the Latvian underground music scene, uses a variety of metal genre styles as well as psych and prog rock in their delivery. 

ESCHATOS have been around since 2012 and have two previous full lengths to boot. The main word for this is haunting thanks to vocalist Kristiana who invokes a wide range of emotions in her delivery. She varies from harsh vocals to grunts to clean sounding. There's plenty of ambient keyboard usage, melodies typical of Euro prog metal and slight death and black metal tendencies about. 

Although I like just this EP's worth of ESCHATOS I'll probably need to check out a full length of theirs to get a better picture. These two long compositions push you in a bad dream of disparity. A band that delivers a foreboding atmosphere, a tremendous vocal performance and at the end to wanting more.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

NECROWRETCH - Satanic Slavery review

NECROWRETCH - Satanic Slavery

Season of Mist

Let me tell you something. This has been a banner year for "witches", "wretches" and "necro" or if you prefer "nekro". I'm referring to bands with those words in their names of course and not my relationship status. But in particular NECROWRETCH are a cool, as in old school sounding, blackened something or other from France. Now I say that because yeah NECROWRETCH are black metal. That was evident years ago when they were on Century Media. But the basic fact is that they always add subtle touches from outside their chosen genre that makes em great.

Satanic Slavery is their third full length over a long career. They've been around for almost a decade at least. Now what's cool about NECROWRETCH is that they've never followed the black metal trends inhabiting the French black metal scene. They've kept thing old school early 90's black metal with hints of thrash and death metal. This is their best album by far in my not so humble opinion. Also I'd call it one of this year's best as well.