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VARIOUS ARTISTS


"Blackend: The Black Metal Compilation Volume III" (Metal Blade/Blackend)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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Metal Blade has graciously compiled a broad set of black metal bands from various labels (Blackend, Candlelight, Century Media, Death, Osmose, and Necropolis among others). Black metal employs more melody and drama in its songs rather than the strict death metal genre. This two CD set offers 24 tracks of varied forays into the black metal genre.

There are many highlights on Disc One. Emperor, from Norway, advance "Thus Spake The Nightspirit" as a powerhouse track that stirs a furious maelstrom of chaos with majestic ornamentation. The British black metal leaders Hecate Enthroned craft superb horror with "Danse Macabre."  Cultus Sanguine's doomy and gothic "Shadows Blood" is dramatic death metal from Italy. Enslaved's "The Man From Hordaland" has a split personality that equally balances melodic black metal with thrashing guitar riffs. Rotting Christ, hailing from Greece, coordinate the melodic structure of their music without losing drama in the song "Out Of Spirits." Borknagar's "The Winterway" is also a very polished work that evokes the spirit of progressive music in its epic approach - the haunting keyboards and acoustic guitar are grand.

There are a bunch of songs on Disc One that fail to meet the standards set by their peers. Enthroned's "The Ultimate Horde Fights" is one-dimensional (but it does sound good). In The Wood's weakly produced "I Am Your Flesh" seems severely out of place - I doubt most would  consider this song to be black metal. The overly cluttered "Behind The 100 Years Gate" by Amsvartner lacks creative spirit (although some of the Metallica-like riffing adds an interesting if confusing touch). The attempt by Mayhem to cut a frantic swath of sonic intensity with "Cursed In Eternity" fails to hit the mark. Fatal Embrace's "Drowned In The Crossway Water" is nearly laughable. Usurper misses the mark with "Slavehammer" due to its heavy borrowing of Entombed's style.

Disc Two highlights include are a bit more consistent. The aggressive yet smooth transitions of Dimmu Borgir's "Spellbound (By The Devil)" are magnificent. Diabolical Masquerade's "Astray Within The Coffinwood Mill" is a departure for black metal without losing its sinister nature. Hecate Enthroned's ultra-blinding "The Spell Of The Winter Forest" does for black metal what Amorphis is doing for death metal - making majestic soundscapes for the discriminating ear. Prophanity's "Walking Through Fire" has interesting musical interplay that sounds like a death metal version of early Judas Priest. Limbonic Art's "Through Gleams Of Death" is interesting due to the eclectic nature of the music that plays out like a dramatic opera. Thy Serpent's "Of Darkness And Light" hints at the future success of Children Of Bodom.  Tataros' "Images Of The Majestic Sphere" provides interesting musical sections that evoke the dark shadows of night. Old Man's Child does away with conventions on "What Malice Embrace" by juxtaposing slow and fast sections with imaginative keyboard sections.

The songs on Disc Two that are lacking are wrought with a lack of imagination. For instance, the hyperspeed of Enthroned's "Dusk Of The Forgotten Darkness" leaves a lot to be desired despite its classical overtones. The densely produced "Enter The Moonlight Gate" by Lord Belial has overarching swirling noise and female vocals that are completely out of place. Amduscias' cluttered "Sacrifices Within Me" made no connection with me. Ragnarok's "En Verden Au Stein" is flat and lifeless with vocals that seemed to have been recorded deliberately in unintelligible form.

The music on the compilation was put together by Tom Chilton. For more information visit http://metalblade.iuma.com/ to learn more about Metal Blade's efforts in the black metal genre.


Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08 Jan 2016 11:33:10 -0500.