SOM - Underground Activists, 25.08.17
Ukrainian Drudkh continues their planned series of splits.
Our foreign correspondent in Kharkiv, right on the middle of the Russian border, has of course covered the last two events, the split with Hades Almighty and the same with Swedish Grift.
We have also visited the band before, in connection with the previous full length, A Furrow Cut Short.
Now that Drudkh are back, their allied partner in crime is Swiss Paysage d'Hiver, a band in the atmospheric landscape of black metal.
When two bands merge two existing demos or EPs, such as the Satyricon / Enslaved or Emperor / Enslaved splits, it's only natural to keep both original release names. But when two bands write music exclusively for a single split, it should be possible to agree on one title for this one release. That's a digression, but also something I personally find a bit annoying. Enough about that.
The length of Somewhere Sadness Wanders / Schnee (IV) is that of a more than approved full-length, as both bands use about 20 minutes. Drudkh distributes its measured time over two songs, while Paysage d'Hiver spends their entire time on a single song.
All Shades of Silence is the first song of the Ukrainians, lasting for 13 minutes. It's of the threefold kind, where the first five minutes sports fast and intense drift with melodic overtones, before a serenely ambient mid-sequence cleave the song. After four more minutes, the music changes character again. The last four minutes have a more progressively structured expression, and although the mid-passage can be a little long, I think the song works well and even stands out a bit.
The Night Walks Towards Her Throne lasts for eight minutes, featuring guest vocals by Chris Naughton from Winterfylleth. The song has a slightly more straight-forward mid-paced touch with atmospheric undertones in otherwise rather staccato blackened metal. The guitar sound give a fairly folkloric flair and adds a little extra spirit, but apart from that, it doesn't appeal all that much.
Paysage d'Hiver consists solely of Wintherr, also known as Wroth in Darkspace. The one-man band has been active for 20 years, has released ten demos and participated on three splits, this one included.
The song Schnee IV is cold and monotonous as a snowstorm in Arctic regions. Some transmutation do exist throughout the songs expedition in the frozen wasteland. Changing weather conditions occurs in riffs and rhythms. The song mixes an ambient feel with ice-cold barbed wire and makes me think of Earth and Pillars. It has a certain hypnotic mood. Just don't expect finesses and nuanced substance. That it ends with the sound of biting north wind is entirely appropriate.
If the name sounds familiar, you may have come across their first EP under new name, NightQueen, first released in 2015, and then relaunched and featured here in 2016.
The Swedes from Kungälv, north of Gothenburg have changed label, and with Serpent, Seducer, Saviour offer a shorter, but more consistent, focused and tight EP weighing in on 20 minutes.
I really had the taste for NightQueen, despite a couple of minor things to nitpick at. A somewhat unfinished expression, and a bit of a splaying direction, were aspects that hung as threatening clouds over the EP. The dreaded cloudburst never came, though, and Voodus sailed proudly to shore where they were met by the cheer from the attending crowd.
With Serpent, Seducer, Saviour, the band has apparently practised hard and spent the two years refining both melody lines, structures, technique and sound down to the smallest detail. At least, that's how it feels, for the band appear as if they'd shed their skin. Any hint of a somewhat new band in development is a thing of the past. The quartet with the still stable crew offers two solid songs. One longer than the other.
Path of Hekate opens gloomy and bodeful, and continues doing that also when the drums invite to nodding heads and headbanging. The threatening atmosphere doesn't let go even when cutting and rasping vocals cuts through. The song's mighty yet alarming expressions provides associations to the halls of Hell, where Satan himself welcomes you to eternal torment.
Where Path of Hekate “only” lasts for seven minutes, Flesh into Spirit plough on persistently in thirteen. This is as good as the previous one, not to mention its hypnotic effect.
Not a new full-length, as I was expecting, but with killer material and powerful euphonious sound from Necromorbus Studios, it nevertheless sounds just as perfect as I could have hoped for!
The EP is out on vinyl, and will eventually be made available on CD along with NightQueen. Everything also indicates that the next release will be the first (and in my eyes long-awaited) full-length since the name change.
Iron Bonehead, 11.08.17 &I, Voidhanger, 15.09.17
If life is too neat and tidy, and your normal mental imbalance just ain't enough, Howls of Ebb and Khthoniik Cerviiks form a most suitable duo, as none of those involved can be of sound mind.
If you sometimes feel that you are losing the grip on reality and just long for a little push in the back to send you swirling of the edge and into the abyss, this split is a recommended companion.
Together, the two deranged bands present over forty minutes that'll gladly stab your last vestiges of sanity in the back.
As usual, it takes time to wrap my head around and make sense of their peculiar disharmonies. Their eclectic, partly doomy, yet cacophonous avant-garde universe amounts to a quarter of an hour. Three songs threaten to drive me insane. And I hope they succeed. Perhaps that will make the voices in my head ebb away?
I've previously referred to Howls of Ebb as a hypnotic mix of Gorguts and Mr Bungle, and I hardly have anything new to come up with. Encyclopaedia Metallum claims that the bend is dissolved, but I haven't been informed of that. With Gangrene Edges hopefully indicates that the band is alive and unwell, and that they will continue to acidify the atmosphere with abstract psychotic regurgitation in unforeseeable future.
Just as you thought you'd had enough, Khthoniik Cerviiks raise the stakes. Based on the intro, Voiidwarp is presented as Prozac, but that's fake marketing, for the music doesn't calm the nerves, but rather causes agitation, anxiety and schizophrenic delusions. The band is not as doomy as their partners on this split. The German trio represents intense psycho-pharmacy with artificial and controversial additives. If nothing else, the unknown ingredients with its hazardous effects will surely give the coup de grâce.
The German Trio has been active since 2013. Their third demo, Heptaëdrone, was promising at best. It was with the following full-length SeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex of Dementiia), however, that the band really reached its potential.
Three of the five tracks clocks in at modest 3:42. Together, that is. These ambient sound collages are probably only there to let the anxiety get a grasp between the more elaborated psychological vices. (That's clamp tool for you Americans out there.) These are the ones that really show what a sonic terrorist weapon Khthoniik Cerviiks has developed into.
Howls of Ebb delivers more than acceptable, but if this was a contest, the German psychopath bastards would have taken home the gold trophy this time. If you hold your vulnerable wits and your fragile nerves dear, you should still seek coverage and keep a healthy distance.
With Gangrene Edges & Voiidwarp was first released digitally by Iron Bonehead Productions in July, before the same label dropped the split on 12" vinyl about a month ago. Now, it's also available on digisleeve CD via I, Voidhanger Records.