Akercocke: Choronzon

Akercocke. This band from London will always be one of my favorites. Not necessarily a Black Metal band like those I have talked about already on here. Though Akercocke does take clear Black Metal inspiration. I would consider them a Blackened Death Metal band, though it is very hard to put a label on them as they kind of just do whatever they want. Nevertheless, they are heavy, melodic when they want to be and wear their satanic shtick on their sleeves.

The only album I physically own from them right now (something I plan to change) is Choronzon. And what a cool album it is. It begins with the mercilessly dark and epic Praise the Name of Satan, a song that begins with a very unsettling sound sample from the Hammer House of Horror episode Guardian of the Abyss. And then tearing into a dark thrashy guitar riff and an eerie synthesizer. The album is very innovative in its regular transitions from soft but nonetheless atmospheric and spooky and fast and brutal. Neither sound ever looses the creepy and demonic atmosphere. It really is a masterpiece. Some personal highlights for me other than the aforementioned Praise the Name of Satan are Leviathan, Son of the Morning and Scapegoat.

One other thing I always found interesting about this band is that the imagery in music videos and photographs is often quite erotic and strange. But this is probably the only band I have seen to use nudity and such in a way that isn`t pretensions or gratuitous way. I guess people would call it “artistic nudity”. The way they dressed back in the day was interesting too. Where most bands who dress up usually do it with a sense of spectacle, e.g. Corpse Paint, spikes, fire etc. This band would show up wearing fancy suits and ties, usually black suits and red ties or the traditional white shirt with black pants and tie. Sounds silly but mixed with the music, lyrics and overall theme at atmosphere of the music, it works surprisingly well.

The band sadly split up in 2012 but in 2016 reunited, played some big-time shows at Bloodstock ect. and even released a new album Renaissance in Extremis and no-one was more overjoyed than I. This is a great band that continues to evolve and experiment with subsequent releases and I could not recommend them highly enough. 

Martyrs

Martyrs. Another favorite film of mine. Like Tokyo Gore Police and Story of Ricky, it is very violent and disturbing. But this one is not comical by any means. This is one of the most uncompromisingly bleak films I have ever had the absolute pleasure of experiencing. This french horror/thriller film takes you to a very dark place. Martyrs has such pleasant themes as torture, mental illness, suicide, morbid scientific/medical curiosity and much more.

Martyrs follows two girls, Lucie and Anna. The first scene of the movie is Lucie, beaten and bleeding escaping her captivity, terrified and screaming. Lucie as it turns out was missing for a whole year and won`t reveal anything about her captivity. Inside the building she escaped from the police find a makeshift torture chamber where she had spent the entire year. After being sent to an orphanage, Lucie finds a close friend in Anna. Lucie believes she is being relentlessly pursued by a ghoul which always viciously maims her when it gets close.

Fifteen years later with the help of Anna, Lucie finds those she believes were her captors and massacres the family with a shotgun. I will not reveal if that family were indeed the right ones or if her demonic pursuer is even real. I urge you to go and watch it now. This is a french film from 2008. Avoid the 2015 american version like the plague.

The critics ate this film up when it came out and I could not be happier about that. This is one of the greatest horror films I have ever seen. This is not violence just for the sake of it. This is a very thought provoking and legitimately disturbing masterpiece that will traumatize you more and more the more you think about it. Very dark, very believable and FAR from an easy watch. But I love a good challenge and so should you. Go and watch it with an open mind and prepare for a grueling emotional rollercoaster of a film that will have you asking haunting, thought provoking questions for days after the credits roll.

Story of Ricky aka Riki-Oh

Story of Ricky. A Hong Kong action horror film based on the Japanese manga comic book series Riki-Oh. As a huge fan of Martial Arts Hong Kong action cinema and explicit movie gore, if this film had a target audience… It`s me! And what a movie, like Tokyo Gore Police, this film has instantly become a personal favorite of mine.

Story of Ricky follows a man with superhuman strength named Ricky as he is sent to a maximum security prison in the year 2001 where all correctional facilities have been privatized leaving much room for corruption… Which isn`t really that bad a guess as to how 2001 really turned out. But I digress, in prison Ricky is respected by fellow inmates for his kind and selfless personality and actions, while he is feared by the higher ups who see him as a threat. We root for Ricky as he dispenses justice into the prison, one insanely gory death at a time.

Despite Fan Siu-Wong`s badass but heartfelt and generous performance as Ricky or the crazy characters. This film is mostly remembered for its very graphic and over the top violence which made it the first film in Hong Kong without any sex scenes to receive a hard R18 rating.

The gore in the film is very well done for the time. Of course it is very over the top, but it isn`t to focused on realism and more on being damn entertaining, which it really is. The fights are great, the setting is bleak and the blood really is something to behold. It replicates the feeling of the comic book perfectly.

I love this film so much, I plan to watch it again tonight. Its fun, its crazy, its action packed and will fill the average male or even female with testosterone fueled ecstasy!

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police… Where do I begin? I saw this film quite recently and it quickly became one of my favorite movies in the world. It`s insane, gory, disturbing, horrifying. But also ridiculous, comical and absurd. It is incredibly entertaining if you have the stomach for it.

The story follows a Samurai Sword wielding police woman named Ruka who is the forces most effective hunter of mutants called Engineers who plague the streets. These creatures look human, but have the ability to transform even the slightest wound they receive into a deadly weapon. Ruka is haunted by her fathers death, as a child she watched him be assassinated right in front of her. So while she hunts these Engineers, she must try to discover the truth about her father`s death, and who his killer is.

The film literally opens with Ruka as a child telling us what a great policeman her father is, and how she wishes to follow in his footsteps. Seconds later we see his head blown apart a bullet. This is all in the first fifteen or so seconds of the film, it sets the batshit crazy tone perfectly. You can probably tell from my descritption of the Engineers and their abilities that there is a lot of beautifully bizarre body horror in this film, along with extravagant, bloody action and hauntingly visceral police executions.  But it is very tongue and cheek, the film knows exactly how silly and absurd it is and just has fun with it.

The above screenshots from the film hardly do it any justice, you really do need to see it to believe it. It really is something to behold. An absurdist macabre masterpiece. In fact, despite my love of the Dredd film from 2012, this is probably the closest thing in a film I have seen to adapting the comical, gruesome and fun world of violent comic books. And i say that with every awareness.

I have not had this much fun and raw love for a film in a very long time. I highly recommend it to anyone who is tired of Hollywood horror movies and action movies these days trying to be Oscar bait at the expense of their own entertainment value. Grab a fat juicy steak or a lava hot curry and a coke (or beer), dim the lights, crank the kickass soundtrack to eleven and prepare for the time of your life. You scream, your jaw will nearly break with all the times it will fall open, and you will laugh until your diaphragm explodes and you paint the walls red with your ruptured blood spewing from your throat… That last sentence should give you an idea of the lightening fast and blood splattered tone. Go and watch it you pansies!!!

Darkthrone- Transilvanian Hunger

Transilvanian Hunger! One of my favorite albums of all time, from one of my favorite bands of all time Darkthrone! This album is seen rightly by many as a horrific, dark, sublime masterpiece. While some find it overrated, one must consider before listening to it that unlike most other albums that attain the level of notoriety in Metal that this one has, are usually hit generating, catchy affairs with singles and memorable headbangers. This album however is a very atmospheric affair that demands to be listened to as a cohesive whole.  

Darkthrone while having other members on and off in their early days are a two piece. The deadly duo themselves Fenriz (Drums, Guitar, Bass) and Nocturno Culto (Vocals, Guitar, Bass). Transilvanian Hinger is often considered the bands apex, their masterpiece. Despite their many other great albums, I have a hard time arguing with that.

 

This album carries a great dark and cold atmosphere which perfectly encapsulates the feeling walking through the woods on a pitch-black winter evening. An atmosphere that I also seem to get from it that nobody else seems to have mentioned is that of walking smoky, industrial streets filled with abandoned buildings and hazy streetlights. I seem to be the only one that feels that way about it, but I think both images have much to do with the 4 track production quality which gives it a uniquely muffled, dreamlike vibe which to this day I have never heard duplicated by any other band or even any Darkthrone albums before or since (despite their many other masterpieces). This album`s overall feeling is pitch-dark and freezing cold.

The atmosphere of this album really is one of a kind and one that gives me so much inspiration. In fact, much of the drive and motivation behind my stories and such during my Diploma in Writing for Creative Industries course can be attributed to this band, and this album most of all. Some might even say that the Depressive Suicidal Black Metal genre finds its genesis with Transilvanian Hunger. And I cannot argue, the bleakness of the album is almost unmatched. Another interesting thing to note about the album is that some of its lyrics were written by the infamous Varg Vikerness of Burzum himself. As a fan of Burzum as well, it`s a cool little fact. The majority of the lyrics (with the acception of the title track) are in the bands native Norwegian tongue.

I would recommend the best tracks at this point, but their isn`t a single lowlight on it. And as stated earlier, this is not the kind of album where you just listen to one of two songs and have the full experience. I encourage anyone even remotely interested to either take a device into the woods or simply find a cold room, dim the lights, throw on the album and prepare to be shrouded in the grim and frostbitten soundscapes of Darkthrone`s Transilvanian Hunger.

Bathory The Return…

 

Bathory

The Return…

Bathory… What can I say about Bathory. Without question the greatest Black Metal band of all time. The brainchild of the almighty musical god Quorthon, Bathory is a pioneer in Black Metal, the creator of Viking Metal and even dabbling in Thrash Metal. Bathory is considered one of the most influential Metal acts ever, and my all-time favorite band.

Despite having many albums to the Bathory name, from the gnarly self-titled debut which scared the pants off everyone in 1984, the Black Metal Benchmark Under the Sign of the Black Mark, the Black/Viking Metal Masterpiece Blood. Fire. Death. The list goes on. I don`t think Bathory ever released a flat out bad album. Some are weaker, I never really got into the album Octagon for instance, but even that is a decent record in its own right.

Despite Bathory`s career being well celebrated, in my opinion, one of the rarely acknowledged masterpieces in the bands catalogue is Bathory`s second album The Return… This album is generally considered a fan favorite, but for me, it doesn`t quite get the recognition it deserves. Most ignore it seeing as it was released between the self-titled first album, and the beloved masterpiece, Under the Sign of the Black Mark. And I completely agree that Under the Sign is an excellent album, in fact I often refer to it as perfect (which it is). Despite this, The Return… Is my favorite album by the band, making it my favorite album ever recorded. I appear to be in a bit of a minority preferring this album to Under the Sign, but only slightly if that makes sense.

The Return… Has inferior production to its follow up, which I find very ironic as The Return… is the only Bathory album to be recorded in a professional studio, meaning that the low-fi production is completely intentional. In fact, many Black Metal legends such as Euronymous of Mayhem and Abbath Doom Occulta formally of Immortal now Abbath sited The Return… as the pinnacle of Black Metal. And that is no accident.

 

Pictured bellow is the almighty Quorthon recording the album.

 

 

 

The Return is full of evil, horrific songwriting, such as the straightforward Black Metal fun of Total Destruction, the diabolical screamer The Return of Darkness and Evil, to the groovy headbanging horror of Born for Burning, which is “The kind of song you want to build a 50-foot wall of speakers and rumble the earth with it!!!”  – Killbot and Gorgor Attack.

Lyrically, the album covers subjects that would not look out of place in the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) or the scriptures of a murder cult. Occult and blasphemous, just as it should be. Satanism, black magic, burning witches etc.

At one point, the other members of Bathory wanted to recruit a more traditional vocalist so as to attract more mainstream appeal. Upon catching wind of this, Quorthon took the singer in question into a recording studio filled with pentagrams and cauldrons of goat’s blood and told him to go for it. After the nervous vocalist gave a terrible performance which Quorthon described as “Ronnie James Dio after a sex change” he sent the poor guy on his way and the rest is history. I suppose it`s just as well, The Return… features one of the finest vocal performances Quorthon ever gave. With some of the greatest Ring Wraith shrieks I have ever encountered. The guitar riffs are dark, evil, bleak and show off Quorthon`s eternally underrated shred-craft. The drums pound like weapons of war.

The atmosphere overall makes you feel like a coven of cloaked figures are wreaking havoc and bowing before you as horns grow from your head and fire begins dripping from your lips. Or if you’re scared by this sort of thing, then it feels like a coven of demons are chasing you through a burning forest. Either way the album is fantastic.

Bathory is my all-time favorite band. I enjoy every album for its own reasons. The Black Metal mastery of the early albums, the epic Viking Metal of latter years and even the Thrash albums are a lot of fun. But for me personally, The Return… will always narrowly stand at the top.

Silencer

 

 

First up, we have one of my favorite albums, as well as a look at the crazy stories and rumors behind the bands vocalist. The infamous Suicidal Depressive Black Metal masterpiece by the name of Death Pierce Me. Performed by the ever-illusive Swedish ghouls Silencer. The album is a very dark and atmospheric exercise in depression and insanity. Pounding double kicks, bleak and horrific soundscapes erupting from the guitars and genuinely pained sounding shrieks spewing black, acidic bile into the microphone like a Banshee from your worst nightmares. Lyrics of self-destruction and utter hopelessness.

The creature behind the vocals on this album who calls himself Nattramn, is perhaps one of the most mysterious people in all of music. No-one has seen his face, no-one can fully confirm his real name. But most strangely, nobody can positively disprove any of the horrifying stories about him. Stories including severing his hands and replacing them with the hooves of a pig. Stories of him bringing a knife into the vocal booth with him to mutilate himself, resulting in the authentically horrifying vocals. Personally, I more or less believe this one, as a Black Metal vocalist myself, I imagine I would sound much like that under extreme pain.

Another story (this one much more tragic and disturbing). Apparently, after completion of Death Pierce Me (which turned out to be Silencer`s only album) Nattramn was being held in a mental asylum. From which he escaped and attacked a young girl with an axe, after striking her, he missed her skull by mere inches. After which, he tried to commit suicide by cop, attacking the officers, begging them to kill him.

 

Nattramn

After being distracted by the dogs and detained by the police and returned to the mental ward, he was encouraged to take up music again resulting in his second music project Diagnosed Lebensgefahr. A bleak, electronic, industrial project. One I also recommend checking out.

A few years later, Nattreamn would go on to release a book of art and poetry named Grishjärta, roughly translating to Pig Heart. I do not own a copy of the book myself but there is a pdf file of this book that you can find online. I found it in a Youtube video on the subject of Nattramn, so check it out if you are interested. It’s a good book.

I personally do not believe that Nattramn replaced his hands with pig hooves. The pictures containing them are a gruesome sight, but that’s all it is. And that’s fine.

I hope nobody lost interest when I mentioned Nattramn`s apparent attempted murder, because as it turns out, it was not him who committed the vile deed. But was in fact, his mentally ill brother Patrick. It was Patrick who was stationed in the mental ward, Patrick who escaped and attacked the child and attempted suicide by cop. Sadly, after returning to the ward, Patrick was haunted by his horrible crime and committed suicide in the ward showers. Nattramn himself was of course hit hard by this tragedy and struggled to cope.

The only story that is generally agreed as probably true, is his self-harm in the studio as well as his struggles with depression which as I said earlier, is entirely possible.

As said earlier, I love this band and Nattramn`s other work (Diagnosed Lebensgefahr and Grishjärta). I find the stories surrounding the man very fascinating and Death Pierce Me is horrific, darksome masterpiece. If you take one thing from this long post, can you please check out the album?

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