High Roller Records, 30.06.17
At first, I'm puzzled as to why the press release defines Stallion as classic heavy metal when the first song, Underground Society kicks off. This is in reality closer to speed metal.
It quickly turns out, however, that the whole song ain't as thrashed, and that it certainly don't smell as blistering of the rest of From The Dead, the German's sophomore album. Stallion themselves classifies their metal as a blend of speed, thrash and heavy metal with hard rock elements.
The music is at times quite tough, with adrenaline-fuelled riffs, high-octane rhythms, vocals with an edgy lash and heavy screams, as well as songs with identifiable distinctiveness. Even the sound, engineered by the band and mixed by guitarist Äxxl sounds killer. Unfortunately, the music also has a softer side. Even though the guitars loom towering and the drums thunder, a number of songs and sequences appear as gentle and rather toothless. The music assumes an innocent touch and the vocal, despite sting, becomes somewhat lax and a touch whiny.
I have a taste for the band's foundation, although the structure of the music has a relatively simple feel, but it's adorned with a little too much flowery wallpaper and lace curtains. It doesn't necessarily sound any milder than Anthrax a little bit into the career, but at its worst it smells a bit sour of poppy David Lee Roth sweat and Sunset Strip glam.
Lyrically, Stallion tear into fascist ideologies and the use of such symbols in the metal scene, lashing at greedy, conservative and narcissistic egocentrics. *Cough*Trump*cough*
From The Dead, in my opinion, consists of semi-tough, partly good or at least alright thrashed heavy metal with roots dating back to the 80's. The album have nifty instrumentation and adequate vocals, but the music unfortunately ever so often turns a bit polite and pale.
Signal Rex&De Essentia Diaboli, 30.06.17 Prison of Mirrors from Italy was originally started as a one-man band in 2011 by Lord Black, a man involved in multiple obscure bands. The band soon grew into a trio and recorded the EP Nothing, released in 2014.
The band traverses the left hand path of Lucifer, and it is said that Unstinted, Delirious, Convulsive Oaths is an even more occult seance than the predecessor.
With two new songs of around ten minutes each, Prison of Mirrors embarks on a downward spiralling introverted journey of the soul.
It serves no purpose going through the two songs, Wounds of Radical Abnegation and Litany of Consecration individually, step by step. The two songs are quite similar by nature. My promo has a reverse order compared to the one stated on Encyclopaedia Metallum, but that's fine, cause Wounds... starts off with 2.5 minutes of esoteric ambiance.
From there on, kaleidoscopic dissonant dystopia prevails. Hypnotic murky and doomy moods of black misanthropy puts its icy claws around your throat. Thumping rhythms and riffs with def sound have a somewhat monotonous drift, but enough ebbing and flowing variation to prevent the music from appearing as repetitive. The vocal's painful utterance scrapes and scratches, bites and claws in a rasping, cold and sharp manner.
Although a 20-minute EP is normally easier to get under the skin than a full length, Unstinted, Delirious, Convulsive Oaths have also grown significantly through half a dozen spins. As said, it's in the nature of the style of the two songs to not be terribly distinctive, but the irregular paths of the labyrinths of course vary enough from song to song, just as the currents are in constant motion within each song. I look forward to hearing more from these Italians!
Prosthetic Records, 09.06.17
From one relatively newly acquired favourite band, to another. Schammasch has gained a solid name in the extreme metal scene in recent years. The Swiss have basically only made their mark in the present decade, and have earned a lot of honourable mention.
Following a debut album in 2010 and a double album in 2014, the guys dropped the triple album Triangle just a year ago.
After three opuses, the boys explore a new path. It depends how satisfied newly acquired fans are with that particular decision.
Hermaphrodite is the first release in a series of short conceptual releases titled The Maldoror Chants, based on the book Les Chants de Maldoror (1868-69), a collection of prose poetry that became a great inspiration for surrealism, an art-form that emerged about a hundred years ago.
The three albums have gradually gone in a more esoteric direction, but all of them have been somewhat furious, febrile and turbulent in all their psychedelic and frantic madness. But not even the avant-garde moods of The Supernal Clear Light Of The Void, the third part of Triangle, can prepare the listener entirely for what's awaiting them on The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite.
Hermaphrodite has a steady, whirring and hypnotic quality that at times has a likeness or two with ...Light Of The Void, but that at its hardest don't sound too different from Metaflesh, part two of Triangle, either. The EP lasts for half an hour, and the flow is generally considerably more streamlined than on previous works. The EP nevertheless resonates on a spiritual level, floating pleasantly and soporific as calm ocean swells. The mini-album's viscous motion, relaxing nature and droning atmospheric soundscapes, share certain commonalities with funeral doom as well as post-black, but its dreamy essence has a dissonant sting and disturbing gesture.
Hermaphrodite can admittedly not measure up to those previous works, but than again, they've been very strong.
If a dark meditative half an hour sounds tempting, I also recommend this narcotically tranquillizing EP.
Shadow Records&Regain Records, 29.06.17
A short month before Swedish Mephorash released their previous record, mighty 1557: Rites of Nullification, they released an EP with two songs. This is now being re-released with an extra cover song that pushes the overall duration up to just over 20 minutes.
The line-up is naturally the same as on the album, of which I wrote that the quartet was fronted by former Ofermod vocalist N. Tengner. This seems to be wrong, though, with Mephorash being a trio with N. Tengner as guest on both EP and album. He appear, however, to have become a regular member later that year.
The current press release, on the other hand, don't mention guitarist/bassist Ayram Etaumiel with a single word, though.
The two songs from the original EP is up first, albeit in reverse order.
Sfaira Tis Fotias opens with an excerpt from Mozart's Lacrimosa, a piece taken from his symphonic mass for the deceased, simply called Requiem (1791), before a rumbling earthquake takes place. The song opens heavily with rhythms that roll violently like thunder clouds. After a short span of time where the music tremble and drone steadily as a passenger train, the speed decreases to a slow flow of thick magma. As on the album, some feminine choir is used to enhance the occult mood before the locomotive again accelerate and build up momentum. Through nine minutes, the pace, rhythm and riffs glide through frequent changes, without yielding an inch on hypnotic surge and mood.
The Hendecasyllabics Of Death with initial (and concluding) piano brings some My Dying Bride vibes, but of course it doesn't take long before powerful doomy furore again fills the room. The song is more atmospheric than the first one, with gloomy melancholy lashing like ice cold rain against an already frozen soul. Gorgeous.
To conclude this session, we get a cover of the Ofermod song Khabs Am Pekht, originally featured on Tiamtü (2008), as well as on some re-releases of the EP Mystérion Tés Anomias. With its driving rhythms and passages of evil ceremonial moods, it glides nicely along with the rest of Sfaíra ti̱s fo̱tiás.
Those who, like me, became mesmerized by 1557: Rites of Nullification, but who have not yet heard this EP, are advised to set sail in gnostic-ritual waters. Bon voyage.