Runemagick – “Dark Live Magick” (2011)

This morning felt like the end of summer. We woke up and it was cold and gray and rainy outside, the start of a rainy weekend. My sinuses were pounding, mostly from my allergies but also possible from Jack Daniels. The first cup of coffee started to help and hopefully the second will work it’s magic. (♠) So what to listen to on a morning like this? Live doom/death metal, of course.

Sweden’s Runemagick started up in 1990 and were active until the late 2000s. Their early material generally falls into the death metal genre, though over time the band added more doom aspects to their music, and that can clearly be felt on their 2001 live album, Dark Live Magick. The quality of the recording is surprisingly good – in my limited experience with extreme metal live albums tend to sound pretty crappy, but you could easily mistake this for a studio album if it wasn’t for hearing the crowd at times. The band plays a tight set, heavy and driving, with Nicklas Rudolfsson’s guttural growl providing vocals straight from the pits of hell.

I dig this album way more than I thought I would. The sound quality is excellent, the pacing good, and the songs have a great flow to them. Runemagick don’t wallow around in their own excesses in ways I’m used to hearing from a lot of extreme metal these days, keeping their songs tight, structured, and internally consistent in a way that gives them a lot of power. Dark Live Magick includes 10 live tracks plus a pair of bonus studio demos to close out side B, including the particularly kick-ass “Lord of the Grave”. This one may be tricky to track down – I couldn’t find any of the songs from this album online (including on Runemagick’s Bandcamp page), and it was only released on vinyl and limited to 300 numbered copies. It apparently included a poster insert, though my copy didn’t come with one. Despite the obvious scarcity you can still find a copy here or there in the $15-30 price range, and frankly I think it’s worth every penny.

(♠) It didn’t.

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