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RATING: 98/100

Review by: Louise Yardley

Up until the moment when this album came into my possession, I’m ashamed to say that I had no idea who Eclipse Eternal were. It turns out that Eclipse Eternal are a fantastically good Black Metal band who integrate melodic and atmospheric passages into their music (see “Deathbound” for an example)… and this pleases me greatly. In fact, over the past few days I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with this album: it ticks all of the right boxes. It’s an over-used phrase (particularly with me!), but “The Essence of Hopelessness” is a terrific musical journey. The band takes you through a soundscape that’s both aggressive and ethereal.

The album constantly moves through different tempos, ensuring that it never gets dull. Also, the differences in tempo and atmosphere work incredibly well. You don’t get the feeling that it’s intentional – it feels much more organic. The result is an album that grabs you from the very first listen and then keeps a tight hold on you.

Musically, the band is very much its own entity. Obviously, there are nods to other bands along the way – I’m reminded of Enslaved from time to time… but that may just be because I’ve been on an Enslaved kick recently. I think it’s mainly just that there’s a bit of a progressive element here that both bands really use to their advantage. Highlights include: “Deathbound”, “Ode to a Long Time Ago”, “Murder… Suicide” and the title track. I love this album!!!



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RATING: 7.5/10

Review by: Christine Parastatidou

FORET D’ORIENT is a newcoming band from Italy, having formed two years ago and they make their debut appearance in the worldwide metal scene with their EP “Essedvm” that showcases high quality black metal.

Their black metal, though, isn’t monolithic or one-dimensional, but it’s rather the contrary since it’s enriched with a great deal of atmospheric and symphonic elements. Some songs have a classical and even a baroque approach something that combined with the sharpness and frostiness that emanates from their black metal creates a really intriguing and enjoyable end result. The use of the harp is something that elevates the compositions making them sound multi-layered and more beautiful.

The musicianship and skills of all the band members are top notch and so is the production that’s clear and powerful, giving you the chance to understand and listen to everything in the songs. If you are fans of bands like HAGGARD then you’ll surely like “Essedvm”!



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RATING: 87/100

Review by: Dark Emperor

Hailing from Canada, today we have Empyrean Plague and their very well crafted Melodic Death/Black Metal that will surely grab your attention immediately. “Imprint Evidence Destiny” delivers seven aural assaults that very creatively combine Melodic Death/Black Metal with Folk and Viking Metal elements; this creates a very rich palette of sounds that even after a considerable amount of listens you will not be able to fully discover this release.

With oozing melody, the band opens the album with the 7 minute epic “Deciphering The Norse Code”. The guitar work is excellent and has that semi-rough feeling that only young bands usually have. The vocals are powerful but never overly done giving that nice contrast to the music. The bass guitar is very present and nicely balanced in the mix as well. “Imprint Evidence Destiny” continues in a similar fashion with super catchy melodic sections and very effective ‘speed ups’. The drumming is also very good and both songs (and the rest) have a wide variety of different patterns.

The band’s ability to build-up momentum is excellent and on ‘slower’ tracks like “Northern Allegiance” they do an excellent job in crafting a musical journey through the song progression. Some of the ‘all out’ Black Metal sections are a bit raw in our opinion, but they help contrast the melody of the rest of the song. The production is a bit unstable at some points, like on “As the Earth Decays” where the volume suddenly gets cranked up, but other than this, it is very fitting to the band’s music.

Our favorite track in the album is “A New Life Has Begun”, a very melodic and hypnotic track that is nicely build-up since the beginning and culminates with furious Black Metal sections. Before you know what hit you, the last song “I Build A Bridge So Your Could Cross” shows some of the more ‘calm’ and folk-ish influences of the band. The clean vocals are so-so, but they are greatly enhanced with the mystical atmosphere of this song. “Imprint Evidence Destiny” is one of the few releases we get every now and then that are very hard to categorize since the band mixes plenty of influences in their music. However, the melodic aspect of the band’s sound is what made us really enjoy this album. With over 40 minutes of music, this album is a very impressive debut for such a talented band like Empyrean Plague and deserves to be listened, so go and treat yourself to a copy of this high-replay value album.



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Review by: Teufel

Have you ever wondered what CIRCLE OF DEAD CHILDREN would sound like if they played blackened experimental death grind? Me neither, but after hearing Sudbury, Ontario, Canada’s FRACTAL GENERATOR that unasked question has been answered with an emphatic: FUCKING AWESOME! The similarities between the two bands is uncanny. If you listened to the band’s debut EP, THE CANNIBALISM OF OBJECTS, you’d swear CIRCLE OF DEAD CHILDREN had recorded a new CD and decided to take their sound in a new, even more chaotic direction, after the departure of Jason Andrews. Everything from the guitar tone and riffing style, to the drum patterns, and especially the vocals, sound like Pennsylvania’s finest death grinders. FRACTAL GENERATOR‘s Mark Howitt has such a large range of grunts, gurgles, shrieks and howls, you’d swear you were listening to Joe Horvath regurgitating into the microphone.

Musically, there’s a fair amount of difference between the two bands, that allow FRACTAL GENERATOR to stand out. Rather than focusing on short, fast songs like their American counterparts, FRACTAL GENERATOR stick to songs with longer running times, with the shortest being 3 minutes and the longest clocking in at 7. While CIRCLE OF DEAD CHILDREN have added many outside elements to their grinding style, FRACTAL GENERATOR takes it several steps further, bringing in noise, black metal (not surprising, since the band features at least one member of the black metal group WOLVEN ANCESTRY), drone, doom and sludge elements, to their already frenzied chaotic death grind sound. The tracks contain frequent tempo changes, one second the band will be grinding their way at a frenzied pace, and the next they’re plodding their way through a sludgy doom segment, before ramping things up with raw buzzing black metal riffs and blasts, with occasional noises blaring in the background or foreground. The songwriting itself is awesome, and things never become dull at any point during the EP’s 24 minute running time.

If THE CANNIBALISM OF OBJECTS was a CIRCLE OF DEAD CHILDREN album, it would undoubtedly be their finest release to date. The fact that it’s not and that someone else took their sound to an even higher level than 1999's EXOTIC SENSE DECAY is both shocking and exciting. Joe Horvath and friends have their work cut out for them, because these small town (well, if 160,000 people is “small town”) Canadian grinders have just raised the bar. The most surprising thing is that this album was originally released as a demo in 2008 and has generated absolutely zero buzz to date. How the fuck is that possible? How have I not been thrashing my sack off to this for the past three years? If anyone from Willowtip or Relapse is paying attention, you need to track these guys down and sign them immediately. They are to death/grind what ULCERATE is to death metal. They are that fucking good. You also have no excuse not to get it, because Archaic North have made the demo available for free download from their website. Fuck!


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RATING: 80/100

Review by: Erik

I consider Jesu the slow edition of Godflesh. It was the natural development that Justin undertook. The faster variant however he never did make, so plenty of bands in the world tried to achieve that uneasy sound a record like ‘Streetcleaner’ produces that will make your skin crawl in a somewhat more aggressive and faster way.

Plenty of grindcore bands tried and failed miserably, not understanding what you can do with a drum computer. This Fractal Genetrator achieves it in another way. This is the Swedish and American death metal variant of that awkward feeling record.

This Cannibal Corpse sounding highly technical, highly progressive, over the top project of three members of the band Wolven Ancestry, recorded a couple of songs in 2008 that sound like science, like theory, like infinity studies and higher mathematics without falling in that grindcore trap. And the fact that these songs still stand after being mastered for digital download (on various sites, so check it out), is a big plus. Remarkable original record.



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RATING: 9.5/10

Review by: Jason Deaville

Just as there exists the genre of 'Viking Metal' for Nordic-themed extremity, I propose the use of a similar descriptor for Roman-themed metal called 'Imperial Metal'. Without a doubt the incredibly barbarous conquests of the Roman Empire surpass that of the Vikings. So, it is strange, then, that we don't see more bands tackling this untapped well of brutal, heroic, epic, and limitless subject matter. Filling this void (and releasing a fairly competent album last year) was Ex Deo, the Roman-themed alter-ego of Kataklysm mainman, Maurizio Iacono. The newest entry into Octavian's Legions comes by way of guitarist Jeff Longo (ex-Blood Of Christ) and his cohorts in Strings Of Ares, who recently released their debut album, Temple To Mars.

Unlike Ex Deo, who utilize a slew of ambient and symphonic filler to create a Roman inspired mood, Strings Of Ares get the job done without all the keyboard pomp and circumstance. The brutality of the riffs alone speaks volumes as to the subject matter, transporting the listener into the middle of a bloody and victorious Roman battle. Songs such as 'Dawning Of An Empire' and 'Ashes Of Ruin' recount the stories of such notable Roman figures as Spartacus and Julius Caesar.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Temple To Mars is its homage paid to early Sepultura and Fear Factory. Now, don't be fooled by this comparison, as this album is certainly full of progressive and technical death metal motifs (ŕ la Nile and Dying Fetus), but the band also mixes things up with riffs that wouldn't seem out of place on such classic albums as Chaos A.D. and Demanufacture, making for a unique and refreshing listening experience. The vocals also lend themselves to this comparison, alternating between a gruff Max Cavalera-like bark, and clean-voiced Burton C. Bell in places. If this wasn't enough, Strings Of Ares take Suffocation to task by spewing forth some incredibly pulverizing breakdowns; all perfectly balanced by the mixing prowess of one Neil Kernon (Nile, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide).

With each successive spin, it becomes abundantly clear that Strings Of Ares pours a tremendous amount of passion, dedication, and effort into their craft. This passion, combined with exceptional song writing abilities, has produced one of the most enjoyable, all-encompassing extreme metal albums in recent memory. If anyone from Nuclear Blast, Century Media or Relapse Records happens to be reading this, I have one piece of advice for you - sign this band immediately. This album deserves to be heard.



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RATING: 96/100

Review by: Louise Yardley

Wolven Ancestry’s music feels like it has been specifically crafted for the winter months. It’s cold and dark and makes me want move to the nearest snow-covered forest. Genrewise, it’s pretty straight-forward Black Metal, but it’s played with the such conviction that I feel drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Wolven Ancestry may not be breaking any boundaries, but they do pull you in from the very first listen. The album opens with “Eternal Winds of Nativity” – a track that purely acts as an introduction, but builds an intense and foreboding atmosphere. Once that track has departed, we are launched into the frantic and almost barbaric “And Gaia’s Wrath Of A Thousand Forms Of Vehement Torture Will Be Brought Upon Ourselves, The Self-Destructing Human” (as you can see, Wolven Ancestry like their long song titles!). I got this album when it was originally released and “And Gaia’s Wrath…” was one of the first tracks that really sucked me in from the very beginning. It’s got everything I look for in a Black Metal track; it’s powerful and there’s enough tempo changes to keep me interested from beginning to end.

“Our Star-Guided Journey to the Realm of Neverending Life” continues at the same sort of pace, but feels more accessible than the previous track. I can’t imagine that Wolven Ancestry would have ever released a single (ok, they might have done – I have no idea), but if they ever did then this would be a strong contender. It has an addictive quality that leaves me yearning for more. “The Fountain of Ageless Growth, Lifeblood Of All Who Doth Bear The Spirit Of Gaia” is just, to put it bluntly, phenomenal. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if most people do it, but certain songs bring certain words to mind. Secrets of the Moon’s “Ordinance” always makes me think “invinsible” as that song makes me feel like I can do anything. This track has a similar feel about it – perhaps something more like “triumphant” would be suitable. Yes, I like that! It’s triumphant! It’s difficult to resist the urge to listen to it on repeat for a while.

“A Mythological Anticipation Of Omnipotent Immortality Enshrouds Our Viscious Conquest” almost feels upbeat, if such a thing is possible on a Black Metal record. This song contains all of the elements needed for a very successful live track: there is a slight melody running through it, plenty of moments to bang your head and an infectious energy. Then, in the last third of the song, things slow down and it gives the crowd the perfect chance to raise their beers in solidarity. Or something like that. It’s a powerful beast whichever way you look at it. A calm interlude marks the beginning of “With Northern Twilight Resplendent, We Follow The Moonlit Path In Search Of Habitable Lands” before it changes to something much more sinister. The pace is methodical and it almost feels like the song is stalking around you; waiting to move in for the kill. “The Paralyzing Human Fear Of All Which Is Essential To The Cyclical Nature Of Earthen Prosperity” is, in comparison, a far more ‘in your face’ kind of track. It pounces onto the listener right from the starting blocks and continues in this fashion throughout. “Soon Enough The Capitarmageddon Will Arrive, And With Death Shall Come New Life” is one of the most intense song titles I’ve ever seen. The music also lives up to it and it demands your attention. This is not background music. “A Bloodline Of Immortal Passion Bestowed The Harmony Of Man And Wolf” closes the album as you would expect – in pure Black Metal wizardry!

Once again for Rediscovering Old Music I’ve found myself reviewing an album full of favourites. There are no weak tracks here, which is why I still get as much pleasure from listening to it now than I did in the beginning. In fact, I may even get a bit more. Listening to “The Wrath of Gaia” has reminded me that I need to buy Wolven Ancestry’s more recent album, “Silence of the Boreal”. I shall rectify that as soon as possible!


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RATING: 8/10

Review by: Adrian Bromley

I should point out that while I have had this band’s release in my possession for a good year or so, it is not till now that I ventured forth to review it after seeing them live recently with Woods of Ypres. Both bands put on a great set that night, though it was the truly unique clamoring of black metal rawness, the Northern imagery (furs, corpsepaint and wolven headdress) and aggression that allowed Wolven Ancestry to leap out at me. I’ve been familiar with their black metal background for some time, hence why I was going to someday review the CD. Finally I got to it…

Wrath of Gaia is a strong record, a little unbalanced by the complexity and drive of the band and the raw production going hand in hand, but overall the band’s black metal numbers and outdoors sounds (snow blowing, wolves howling, winds) work. That’s not to slag what is going on here at all. What I mean is that this band’s approach to bringing a unique edge to their semi-melodic black metal and folk-tinged numbers is stalled in spots with the production it has. With such a grandiose delivery and workload put into each song, this band deserves a better production, even though in all fairness, black metal has always been rooted in fuzzy guitars/noise, banshee vocals and raw/weak production. At least the way underground fans perceive it to be.

With each listen you cannot deny the strength of the band’s passion on numbers like “And Gaia’s Wrath of a Thousand Forms of Vehement Torture Will Be Brought Upon Ourselves, The Self-destructing Human” and “With Northern Twilight Resplendent, We Follow the Moonlit Path in Search of Habitable Lands” or not want to worship the album closer, “A Bloodline of Immortal Passion Bestowed the Harmony of Man and Wolf”. Wolven Ancestry knows how to bring the Northern edge to their music, so here’s to a successful journey into the dark-hearted abyss of the music industry. I’m sure they’ll be able to take on any challenge as they’ve proven they are capable of delivering the goods.

UPDATE: The band is currently working on the follow-up to this album and has already released newer material on a compilation this year (featuring Empyrean Plague, Darkblood, and others; courtesy of Archaic North). The new stuff is definitely some of their stronger material. The band has stepped things up, allowing their music to become at one with itself, losing any question of whether they can compete in this genre or not. Fuck that, they own it. Their style and sound is quite distinct and memorable, the three new tracks diligent in their ways of drawing the listener in, especially the monster track “Our Star-guided Journey to the Realm of Neverending Life.” Fucking superb craftsmanship! The band continues to surprise me and it’s obvious why they are considered one of Canada’s best black metal bands—if not the best. Looking forward to the next album!

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