Hail Spirit Noir – Mayhem in Blue; Aenaon – Hypnosophy (2016)

Hail Spirit NoirMayhem in Blue (Dark Essence Records, 28 October 2016)

 

AenaonHypnosophy (code666, 25 November 2016)

 

Longtime readers should already be familiar with Hail Spirit Noir and Aenaon: both of these Greek avant-black bands’ second albums were reviewed right here about three years ago, after they were both released in early 2014. And very longtime readers may even recall that the HSN debut album was covered here when it came out back in 2012. All three of those records (all via Code666, sublabel of Italy’s Aural Music) ended up on my respective lists of those years’ top releases.

One band has since shifted to Norwegian label Dark Essence, but otherwise you’ll find that not much has changed for the bands’ third releases (each of which came out in late 2016), especially not in terms of quality — as you may have noticed, both of these once again made an appearance on my Top 16 of 2016 list. So without further ado, here are Mayhem in Blue and Hypnosophy!

 
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Bloodred – Nemesis, Sig:Ar:Tyr – Northen (2016)

BLOODRED-Nemesis_Cover_lowres

BloodredNemesis (self-released, 08 April 2016)

 

northen-cover

Sig:Ar:TyrNorthen (Hammerheart Records, 15 April 2016)

 

Hey there, ladies and gentlemen of the internet! I hope you’re having an okay start to your week. Typically I’d be talking about how Mondays are so terrible or whatever, but truthfully, I realize that things could be much worse. Around the middle of last week, I experienced a little bit of a minor medical emergency — hospital visit, a couple days away from work, that sort of thing. Everything around here got really disrupted and it kind of sucked, and I can honestly say I’m actually glad to be back to the normal daily routine, however awful and soul-crushing it may be.

Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s get to the music! I’ve had to shuffle things around a bit since my schedule got so thrown off over the past several days, but we’ll do what we can to get back on track and get to sharing the albums and other news you people need to hear about. Today let’s take a look at a pair of releases from earlier this month, each by a one-member band (although each had some assistance on these recordings), and each having a Viking connection. It has been a month since the last time we talked about Viking metal — don’t forget that Amon Amarth are still in the middle of their North American tour, with a few weeks left — and it seemed like it might be fun to do it again. One of these albums actually includes a reference to the same source material as the Jomsviking album, and the other deals with ancient Viking settlements in North America …

 

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It’s All Greek To Me: Reviews of Aenaon and Hail Spirit Noir (2014)

aenaon-extance

AenaonExtance (20 January 2014, Code666 Records)

 

Oi Magoi

Hail Spirit NoirOi Magoi (20 January 2014, Code666 Records)

 

First, a word about this article’s title: there is an equivalent expression to that idiomatic phrase in Greek — Αυτά μου φαίνονται κινέζικα — as there is in numerous other languages, which would be helpful for non-native English speakers, since in a literal translation the meaning may be lost to those readers. However, the idiom with a similar meaning in several other languages would exclude the double entendre intended by the title in English: that today I am writing about two albums by two ostensibly similar bands, who are both Greek.

Okay, with that out of the way, time to move on to some music. These two albums came out on the same day in January by Code666; each one is the second album from its respective band — Aenaon (based in the regions of Epirus and Thessaly) and Hail Spirit Noir (from Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia) — who are both firmly rooted in a black metal aesthetic, while bringing various other experimental and avant-garde elements into the mix.

 

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The Huge List of 2012 Year-End Lists!

Well, friends, here we find ourselves in the waning moments of 2012. It’s been an interesting, eventful year that’s had lots of high and low points — a ton of excellent new music has been released and quite a few brand-new bands have emerged that I’d fully expect to be making some serious waves in the near future.

One of the best things about 2012, for me personally, was that I found myself (and my wife) going to lots more shows than in recent years, and as a result I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of new people — as well as starting to take a way more active role in the local music scene.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I had a suggestion from one of those people I’ve gotten to know in the past year (I won’t say who — he said he preferred not to be given credit for the idea, although I will say that it’s somebody who contributed to this). The idea was to collect top-ten lists from various folks in the Pittsburgh metal community.

So I put out an open invitation for any musicians or other people who are involved in the scene in some way — I was looking for anything, whether it was the traditional “Top Ten Albums” or something totally off-the-wall like someone’s ten favorite sandwiches they ate during the year. Really, the only rules were that it had to be a list, and involve something from 2012.

 
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Well Holy Crap… Cormorant Bassist/Vocalist Arthur von Nagel Exits Band

Once again, let me just say, holy crap…

 

 

It is with great deference and gratitude to our fans and supporters that I announce my departure from Cormorant. After the overwhelming reception for Dwellings and national tours with longtime personal heroes, I feel fortunate to end this chapter of my life on a high note. Nick, Brennan, and Matt will continue to write and perform as Cormorant with my full support. The albums we created together were very personal to all of us, and I know the music they are composing now is of the same passion and honesty. I cherish our time working together, and I wish them the best.

I am taking a break from music to pursue my career in video games—another lifelong passion. Since May of this year, I have been at Telltale Games, hard at work on The Walking Dead episodic adventure series. Contributing to the game’s development has afforded me artistic fulfillment I never thought possible professionally. Thanks to the many colleagues I count as friends and projects I care deeply about, I look forward to going to work every morning for the first time in my life.

I have nothing but the most sincere thanks to our fans. You are incredible. From the Lebanese diehard metalhead who smuggled his contraband Metazoa CD in from Saudi Arabia, to the gentleman of indigenous Australian descent who wrote to tell us how profoundly “The First Man” had affected him, knowing that we’ve forged a connection with people through our music is the most gratifying. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to perform for our fans across the US this year. Meeting you all in person was a true pleasure. I only regret that a worldwide tour wasn’t possible!

I’d like to thank the sound engineers and producers who made us sound our best, the publicists and journalists who wrote so beautifully about us, the visual artists who brought our music to life, the promoters who included us on such wonderful bills, and the bands with whom we shared the stage. While I have always taken great pride in Cormorant’s independence, so much of the band’s success is owed to your support. I look forward to attending future Cormorant shows from the other side of the stage.

Arthur von Nagel, November 2012.

 
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What To Do In Pittsburgh Tonight (6 September 2012)

 

Allure of the Earth Productions presents…

While Heaven Wept (exclusive Northeast headlining show!)

with Argus and Vermithrax

 

at The Smiling Moose

1306 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh (South Side)

 

Thursday 06 August 2012 | 9:00 pm | 21+ only | $10

 
Well folks, it’s finally here — the show everyone’s been talking about all summer long! You can catch the epic melodic doom majesty of While Heaven Wept in their only headlining appearance (as they prepare to join Cormorant and Primordial for a string of dates, beginning tomorrow night — more info here)!

A couple of heavy hitters in the local scene (Argus and Vermithrax) will be kicking things off tonight, so you won’t want to miss this one!

 

Allure of the Earth – While Heaven Wept, Argus, Vermithrax video flyer from Jim Pitulski on Vimeo.

 
Grab your tickets here, then RSVP right here.

Cormorant Are Touring All Over the U.S.! (Well, not ALL Over…)

Regular readers of this blog (or the occasional random Googler) will already be familiar with my feelings on Californian blackened progressive metal band Cormorant. For anyone else who might be unaware, here is a brief overview of their discography which I wrote upon the occasion of their most recent release, Dwellings, back in December.

Knowing that this DIY band manages to put together strings of tourdates fairly infrequently, it’s always a big deal when they announce some shows. However, when I saw Primordial (Irish black-metal-turned-blackened-doom-metal, of whom I’m also really really fond) announce a jaunt through the eastern U.S., and Cormorant’s name appeared on the poster too, well I almost passed out.

Unfortunately, on closer inspection (and with helpful guidance from Cormorant bassist Arthur von Nagel), I realized that these two bands — along with the epic/melodic doom band While Heaven Wept — were only playing most of the dates listed.

While Pittsburgh’s Smiling Moose bar is shown in the image (see below), the asterisk next to that date, according to the legend at the bottom, means “WHW only”.

I’ve heard that that literally means “WHW only”… I’ve also heard (from Bandsintown, and later from Primordial themselves when they shared that event) that Primordial would indeed be playing Pittsburgh that night. Later, Primordial’s wall post was deleted, although the Bandsintown event remains. And the dude from Meatmeadmetal tells me that Metal Blade has confirmed there will be no Primordial.

What a huge fucking mess — I have no clue what’s happening. Opening bands at the Pittsburgh date will also include two local greats, Argus and Vermithrax. Those are both worth seeing, and if you like While Heaven Wept, then there’s another plus. Go check out the show, maybe Primordial will show up, maybe they won’t. Maybe fucking Black Sabbath will reunite with Bill Ward for one night only and play a secret show at The Smiling Moose. I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point.

Personally, I can’t help feeling a good bit of disappointment at the absence of Cormorant; however, Cleveland is only a few hours away, so ‘Burgh-area fans may want to keep that possibility in mind… or possibly Rochester or Philadelphia, if you’re feeling especially adventurous.

 
Anyway, here is the tour poster, in all of its bewildering confusingness, followed by a full list of dates:

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