Les Acteurs De L'Ombre Productions, 24.10.17
A split, once again. This one from two European bands with a varying span of experience. Both with atmospheric black metal as part of their repertoire, made up of a multitude of inspirational sources.
Both deliver elongated tunes. In this case, a composition of nearly 20 minutes each.
Both French Paramnesia and German Ultha are new to me.
The French quartet has 12-13 years and a handful of different releases behind them, while the German quintet has been a notch more active on their journey since 2014.
The Frenchmen opens with the song VI. The band's stated influences are primarily cascadian black metal. Among several listed references, we find Leviathan. Wolves in the Throne Room is not on this list, but I might mention that these two are the only bands within the style that I'm aware of. And that's basically fine with me. I mention this for you to realize that I'm not to be trusted what the sub-genre concerns.
I label the band's contribution as atmospheric black metal. VI is rather comfortable and relaxing with its mildly suggestive style, and it's varied enough to avoid monotonous stagnation. There's no point searching for lavish imagination and innovation here, though, and the screaming vocal do requires patient habituation.
I have a bigger taste for the Germans in Ultha, and they are the ones that ensure that the split gets its approval. Even though the band uses quite simple means on their contribution, they do it effectively and makes it count. The band has found its inspiration in everything from American and Scandinavian black metal, to funeral/doom and dark wave. They released the album Converging Sins toward the end of last year, but I unfortunately didn't find the time to cover it. Its atmosphere and quality seemed to branch more off in a diverging manner, though.
The atmosphere of The Seventh Sorrow seep out and spread like profound mourning as by mass suggestion, with grief-stricken melody and rich, dark sound. The melodies' wavering patterns moves like a pendulum before the eyes, and puts me in a very comfortable soporific state of trance. Unlike in the case of Paramnesia, this hypnosis is deep.
This band also uses rather unorthodox emotional vocals at times, but the approach has more in common with Burzum, and fits the mood of tearful, choked up hopelessness that surrounds the listener all the better.
Purely subjectively (as always), I consider the first half of this release to be okay, but not very interesting, while the second half holds me in the palm of its hand from start to finish.
In addition to CDs from Les Acteurs De L'Ombre, vinyl and cassettes are available through Vendetta Records and Tartarus Records respectively.
Lavadome Productions, 20.11.17
Whereas a split might not be considered your everyday mandatory release, it might nevertheless be very good, and also offer you the chance to get to know a new band or two in the process.
We're meeting up with Russian Horror God and all too anonymous Techne this time. Both new acquaintances on my part. Horror God hails from Sergiev Posad, a few miles north of Moscow, was started in 2006, and has, amongst other, released two full-lengths. Techne, on the other hand, is annoyingly difficult to trace down any information about.
Horror God offers three new tracks, as well as a cover song. Their contribution amounts to about 19 minutes of the 42-minute split.
Their musical universe dwells in the valley of death, but the band equips their expression with a progressive twist. The songs have a bit technical, not to mention morbid approach. The latter provides an organic feel that prevents the former from forcing the music in a more clinical direction. The music stares into the abyss, and the abyss stares back. Brain waves short-circuit. Logic ceases to exist. Chaos arise.
The Russians contribution ends with Sinking into Transparency by Canadian Purulence, a song that, with its shrieking guitars, sometimes gives a vibe of Gateways... era Morbid Angel.
A new album is also on the cards, and will be released by Lavadome Productions next year.
Techne, whoever that might be, has a more distinctive style that blends a form of jazz-proggy death metal with psychedelic atmosphere and industrial undertones. The stylish use of synthesizer is fitting and cleverly executed without becoming too dominant, and when the piano is incorporated before sitar finds its place among eccentric guitars, I take my hat off. The band delivers an amazing showcase in unique idiosyncrasy. Techne's 23 hypnotizing minutes are peculiar and unorthodox, but captivating, and impresses considerably.
I was initially very disappointed that I hadn't discovered this band earlier, but any attempt of uncovering additional info is futile. Unfortunately, it also seems to be the end of the line for this mysterious ensemble, if I interpret the press-release correctly.
If you have information that can shed some light on the activities of this shady constellation, please don't hesitate to get in touch!
Nuclear War Now! Productions, 15.11.17
Where splits often leave a divided impression, split opinions, mixed feelings, and ambivalence, the Chileans in Wrathprayer and Force of Darkness have allegedly intended to create a coherent mood through extensive collaboration on their split, Wrath of Darkness.
If they'd used the same studio to ensure a common soundscape, this intention would've been more evident. This critical objection, however, doesn't affect the rating of the split as such.
Likewise, I'm not giving extra credits for the use of one common title on the split either, although a release is best served being equipped with only one name in my opinion. I'll give 'em my seal of approval, though.
Both bands have elements of soot in their expression. Their black scorched blasphemy, however, doesn't come in pureblood genres. Wrathprayer is closer to aggressive death metal, performed with smouldering hatred and pitch black, hypertrophied pupils. The sound is resounding as these guys offer a boiling furore in two songs on more than 13 minutes together.
Force of Darkness offers three regular songs, lasting a few minutes longer. These guys mix their unholy and profane expression with a reckless character of wild, fast and violent thrash. The sound has a slightly stronger back alley feel, yet it's relatively rich and also becoming considering the frames of the genre.
Three years ago, I gave the EP Absolute Verb of Chaos and Darkness four points, but that was as far as I was willing to go, and this year's contribution to the black/thrash scene is also quite alright without offering anything new.
Both bands provide raging metal with black edges, although Wrathprayer impresses most with their lethal fireworks. In addition to the above mentioned material, the two bands also provide intro and outro respectively. Something that pushes the total duration just over half an hour. These tracks, called Inhaling Wrath and Exhaling Darkness, also helps to tie the bands contributions together with their ghostly moods. Beyond that, I wouldn't say that this split is remarkably unison.
Independent, autumn 2017
From some exhaust-infested dump in the filthy under-ground of Norway's capital Oslo, four dubious figures appear in the smog that hovers like frozen morning mist over worn and potholed asphalt.
The band, whose members enjoy an anonymous existence, has been inspired by Bathory, Sarcofago, Sepultura, Darkthrone, Vomitor and Merciless. Preferably of vintage kind, of course.
This fresh Oslo quartet, as you've no doubt realized, plays dirty and unholy proto-black metal.
All members operate under one-letter pseudonyms, but I can reveal that the vocalist hiding behind the letter A is Arild Filthgrave, who also writes for Norway's esteemed Scream Magazine under his real name.
But we'll let individuals be individuals, and move on to the music.
Desecration is a demo with rather thin sound. The four songs were probably recorded in basements and garages before mixing took place in Dead Hymn Studio. Demos aren't supposed to be rated based on sound, though. Just to be clear on this otherwise obvious aspect; Demos are demonstrations of musical expression and direction, and of compositional skills, not a demonstration of how rich a sound spoiled brats can buy with daddy's money.
Chiming church bells in the fog, with demonic voices luring you in a different direction, is never wrong, and so begins Desecration Of Hallowed Tombs before strings and drumsticks make their entry. The rasping vokills is neither in line with guttural cookie monsters, nor with cutting screams, but offers a more deranged and odious variant.
What stems from what extreme metallic direction among the elements in the witch's cauldron, doesn't matter. Filthgrave superintend the very proto-extreme metal as it appeared before it got separated and refined in differing directions. The four songs have a consistent quality and all of them got sequences that entice a bit extra. The music offers pace, rawness, punch and heretic drive, and testifies to a band that intends to make a name for themselves. Desecration is by no means groundbreaking, but will undoubtedly appeal to the target group with its barbaric energy.
The demo has been available digitally since August, and was released on cassette through Snake Oil Kassettforlag in October. Desecration is also being released on CD limited to 100 copies in these days. I therefore refrain from listing one particular date at the top of this Impression. If filthy and dirty metal with roots in them good olden days of yore is your thing, you can follow Filthgrave on Filthbook.
Non Serviam Records, 11.11.17
From Hagfors in Sweden, the proud warriors of Rimfrost return to let us take part in their confrontation in wintry surroundings underneath frozen winds from the north.
Last time we paid the band a visit, on the occasion of the self-titled third album Rimfrost, I reported of a band with chronic replacement of bassists.
The situation appear to have stabilized, though. B.C. seems to have settled into the ranks of guitarist and vocalist Hravn Decmiester (Trident) and drummer Throllv Väeshiin (ex-When Nothing Remains).
A Clash Under The Northern Wind is a close to 11 minutes long song, taken from an upcoming album of which I have no information yet. The song is a celebration of their home district Värmland, its history and the dark forces and mysticism of its wild nature.
It's of to a lightly galloping start in calm mid-pace, but soon calms down even more with symphonic elements in the background. The vocal cling op to heavy thoughts, thus preventing frozen roses from thawing. Ice-capped thorns twinkle when the pace rise again. The snow drizzle from spruce trees as the ground shakes and the air is filled with the sound of hoofs when the warrior hordes comes riding.
I'll let you listen for yourself in just a few seconds. A Clash Under The Northern Wind is certainly an alright song, albeit not as breathtaking and memorable as I was hoping for. Thus, it achieves a medium grading from this fellow. Time will tell what the upcoming album will bring.