Postcards from Natalie Zed, Set #8

Hellbound readers, you know Natalie Zed, right? Natalie was our big grand prize winner way back in January, taking home more than 50 CDs + and shortly after she received her huge box ‘o CDs, Ms. Zed asked us over at Hellbound HQ if we’d be interested in running reviews of her winnings if she did postcard sized reviews of the albums. How could we say no?

She’s reviewed all the original CDs and is now reviewing newer things that have made their way to her. Here is part eight of her ongoing series of what we like to call “Postcards With Natalie Zed”

Bison BC – Dark Ages (Metal Blade, 2010)
It’s all about gravity. At times, leaden as a dirge, a barge carrying corpses, the weight of dirt on a coffin lid. Crush injuries. At others, nimble as a rapier tip, precise and merciless as it is weightless. It’s impossible to keep your balance. Dark Ages knocks you around. Whether funereal grey, brass-bright or red hot; crushing heaviness or suffocating vaccuum; whatever the weight, it’s perfect.

Oceano – Contagion (Earache, 2010)
Stuff a gorilla’s throat with steel wool and beat it ’til it sings.

Scythia – ...Of War (self-released, 2010)
I would have adored this when I was fifteen, seventeen, maybe even twenty-one. I still appreciate the competence and musicianship of this album, the richness of the piano and violin. But there is an earnestness here, lodged like a barb in the vocalist’s throat, a hitch of sincerity in his voice that makes me cringe instead of swoon.

11 As In Adversaries – The Full Intrepid Experience of Light (ATMF, 2010)
Like Gloiror Belli has a headache that nothing but trepanation could cure. Letting a little light and air into their grey matter released some strange, surprisingly alt-rocky spirits. Strange, novel, a little tiring. Something to be gotten out of one’s system. Unusual impulses.

Winterfylleth – The Mercian Sphere (Candlelight USA, 2010)
So much black metal is cold. The drumming is inexorably glacial, the strings gelid. Winterfylleth, despite the chill in their same, is not afraid of the thaw. So much of this album is deliciously warm, the guitar as buttery-gold and warm as fall leaves, the tempo soothing as melt-water. Winterfylleth are equally comfortable evoking the tenderness of spring as they are giving their listeners blistering frost burns. Their pagan influence shines through in the appreciation for all four seasons.

Thrall – Away From The Haunts Of Men (Moribund, 2010)
This is Thrall’s first full-length monster. It isn’t a work of perfection. At times the seams show, and here and there you see where some flesh could have been trimmed away, the incisions made cleaner, the stitching tighter. But for the odd bit of ganglyness, for the shamble in it’s walk, this is a lovely abomination. The sound is simple without any hint of deliberate underproduction, punishing and malevolent but with style, meditative without self-indulgence. A sensitive monster.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.