After all these years, it’s easy to rewrite history but back in 1996, EINHERJER’s debut album Dragons Of The North  was a poor man’s Enslaved, trying to surf on the then-fresh Viking metal wave.
The Norwegians have decided to re-record it two decades later for Indie Recordings, but at least it’s allowed them to erase the former amateurish delivery, even if the material still remains sub-par. The timing was perfect for GEHENNA’s 1995 debut full-length on Cacophonous. Predating Dimmu’s Stormblåst by just three months, Seen Through The Veils Of Darkness (The Second Spell)  was a fine example of the rising Norwegian black metal scene: fierce yet melodic and heavy on the keyboards layers and atmosphere, instinctively seizing that icy, mid-90s zeitgeist. Released on the same year on the same label, SIGH’s second album Infidel Art  was still rooted in classic thrashy black metal (think more Venom than Mayhem) yet already touching on avant-garde territories with cascades of symphonic synths and weird arrangements that often stretched the songs beyond the eight-minute mark. Not everything worked; the clean vocals are quite painful to hear and some of the keyboards haven’t aged that well, but they were already orbiting in their own universe. ANATA’s masterpiece remains their final album, 2006’s The Conductor’s Departure, but their first offering, The Infernal Depths Of Hatred  (Kaotoxin) synthesised US death metal brutality with Gothenburg melodeath sensibilities like no one before from the get-go. A killer debut worth (re)discovering. While the audio part of CORONER’s Autopsy: The Years 1985-2014 In Pictures  (Century Media) – an eight-track-only ‘best of’ – feels like a hastily assembled bonus, the DVDs are the real treasures of this box set, especially the near-two-hour documentary about their rise and fall, including many priceless videos of their early days, and their close relationship with Celtic Frost.