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Countess – Live By The Sword [EP]

countess – live by the sword [ep]


One of the very oldest Dutch Black Metal bands is Countess, formed in 1992. There may no longer be any original band members in the current line-up and the band took a short break between 1997 and 1998, but Countess has always remained a fixture in the (real) underground Black Metal scene of the Netherlands. Countess may never have had the name and fame of a band like Funeral Winds or Bestial Summoning, but there is still a certain atmosphere of cult around the band – for better or worse.

For many, the band will lead an almost invisible existence, but Countess itself will not care about that. They have stubbornly and stoically continued releasing their music all this time, apparently not caring whether people listen to it at all. Meanwhile, in 2021, the band released their sixteenth (!) album with ‘Banners Of Blood’, and like most of their recent releases, that album came out in-house. Whether this is a conscious decision or a lack of label interest I don’t know, but either way it fits well with the band’s aesthetic: headstrong, inward-looking and with a clear vision of their musical direction.

The band’s latest work, ‘Live By The Sword’ is a 5-track EP that clocks in at just under half an hour and is a more than logical follow-up to the previous work of the past few years. With a thin but rocking sound and a sense of drama in the melodies, their now so recognisable Black Metal is also brought to the fore here. Orlok’s minimalist sound and angry snarling vocals are so recognisable that by now there is no equal to Countess. Although bands like Megiddo, Graveland and, of course, Bathory can evoke a bit of a similar feel, Countess has definitely managed to create a unique sound in three decades. The moody keyboards in the background provide the necessary epic and give the whole thing an even more authentic feel.

This musical reclusiveness has now taken possession of Countess to the point where it has become just about synonymous with it. This means you never have to prepare for a surprise; although over the past 30 years, the band’s sound has indeed evolved, albeit on a minimal level and within the limited boundaries of their musical scope. But the relative stagnation and deliberate regressiveness is also Countess’ charm; ‘Live By The Sword’ is yet another proof that not changing can also be a strength. The music still feels like a black-and-white photograph of days gone by, thankfully kept alive by a select few bands around the world. Therefore, let’s cherish Countess.


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