Winter War: Finland Vs. Russia
It’s been almost seventy-five years since Finnish army forces trounced Uncle Joe’s boys at Suomussalmi, but some things never change: relations are still a bit strained on either side of Karelia and both countries are still churning out hateful, bleak extreme metal of the highest caliber. Here are a handful of essential new (and not so new) listens from either side of the isthmus.
TEAM SUOMI FINLAND PERKELE
New Horna! New Horna! New Hornaaaa! I am very excited about this. One of the best Finnish black metal bands in existence, who’ve been doing the devil’s work since 1993, will be releasing their forthcoming ninth full length album, Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa, on March 1! Listen to “Yhdeksäs Portti” below – judging from this small taste, Shatraug & his pals have still got plenty of ravishing grimness to offer.
Begun as Shautraug’s solo project in 1999, these Satanic black metal devotees have spent the last two decades perfecting their spin on classic Finnish filth, and remain one of the hardest in the game (did I say that right, Andy O’Connor?). They released their last proper LP in 2010, but have kept plenty busy releasing odds’n’sods like WTC’s upcoming rarities compilation, The Rebirth of a Cursed Existence. The following track, “Nightmares & Necromancy,” was originally released on 2011’s Lair of Necromancy EP.
Lord Sarcofagian is one busy motherfucker. He’s done time in Finnish heavyhitters Horna, Behexen, and Satanic Warmaster, played/plays in about a half dozen lesser-known entities, and has released a solid dozen demos, EPs, and albums under the banner of his long-running solo project, Baptism. 2012’s As the Darkness Enters was lucky number twelve, and deftly illustrates the dark melodic undercurrent that runs through so much black metal from this region alongside moments of eerie gloom and total necro hell.
Bizarre, unsettling elements (those vocals, fucking hell) creep into this otherwise simple black metal act from Tampere. Surprise! It’s another Shatraug project. If you like older Darkthrone and Ride for Revenge, giddy up.
TEAM MOTHER RUSSIA
Suffocating black/death metal from Perm; their latest release was 2012’s massive Deathwomb Catechesis (which was released on a Finnish label – there’s a bit of solidarity for you!).
Nasty, destructive, and straight-forward black metal from Pskov. They’ve got a new EP, Hymn to Death, out now on Sweden’s excellent Blood Harvest Records – check out a track from their previous release, 2011’s Morbid Death’s Sceptre, below.
Raw crust punk meets black metal in Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Russian Republic of Karelia (ceded to Russia after the Winter War of 1939). Their Hellfuck 2012 EP is streaming on Bandcamp – if you dig Amebix, Iskra, or Wolfbrigade, спешка!
Members of Antimelodix having even more fun in a drunk black metal/punk/thrash band that sounds tailor-made for Fenriz, your buddy with the Venom backpatch and shitty dreads, or me.
Ultimately, Finland proves once again that it does black metal better than anywhere else (except perhaps South America), and Russia’s all about death, grime, and vodka.
Which do you prefer?