Demonstealer Records, 15.03.17
Indian Demonic Resurrection is an epic and symphonic extreme metal bands of the gentle kind. After a positive experience with The Return to Darkness (2010) and The Demon King (2014), Dashavatar still becomes a slight letdown. This despite a stronger and highly welcome local touch. Dashavatar serves a concept based on Hindu mythology. The word refers to the various avatars (or incarnations) of the god Vishnu, and each song represents one of these.
The quartet is of course experienced as they're now releasing their fifth album, and you can hear that the guys are talented. Both performance and sound is professional. Still, there is something lacking in the song-writing this time. The tracks are designed with more than adequate variety and structure, without uneventful monotony. The songs are not actually direction-less, as variation and drift gives the songs a natural flow. The melody lines nevertheless don't manage to grab on to me. Sometimes the melodies feels as a near random row of notes. Demonic Resurrection plays melodic extreme metal that's not particularly extreme. Thus, the music should be hummable, but I cannot possibly imagine myself whistling two notes from Dashavatar.
What the album lacks in melodic hooks, it attempts to compensate for with elements from regional folk music. Followers of Gorger's Metal will know that I'm weak for acoustic instruments, both of a symphonic and folk-musical nature. Hearing is a sense that can indeed be deceptive; I came across an electric bağlama just the other day, and My Dying Bride have been using electric violin for aeons. What's next? Electronic flute? Anyway, exotic and orchestral instruments gives the soundscape a different timbre that contributes to necessary diversity in an overcrowded industry, and we find guest artists on both sitar, tabla (bongo drums) and flute this time.
Dashavatar in this respect sounds good, with a decent dose of Indian instrumentation. I could always have consumed more of that kind, though. The album doesn't exactly drown in exotic flair. The sound, as mentioned, is professional, if not very rich. The Demonstealer, one of the band's founders and sole remaining original member (also the owner of Demonstealer Records and host on Headbanger's Kitchen, to add a bit of trivia) has been responsible for recording and mixing, something he has some experience with, while bassist Ashwin Shriyan and former guitarist Daniel Rego has worked as engineers. The album is mastered by renown V. Santura. A stronger dynamic range than DR5 could have given the music a more spacious, natural and vital touch.
The album is not milder than what its predecessors were, or perhaps a clue, but the slightly anaemic songs makes Dashavatar feel more toothless. It's quite peacefully, and headbangers get to rest their neck quite frequently. The clean vocals are also a bit softer than what I appreciate, even if that's not a new element in the band's music, while the growling is of a rather monotonous and not too deep kind. This album comes of as something of a cross between Orphaned Land and Melechesh, without matching neither the catchy melodies of the former or the sheer rawness of the latter. The guys do however offer on rather progressive and comfortable structures, along with okay solos, although the latter don't impress significantly.
With Dashavatar, Demonic Resurrection deliver a highly audible album which nevertheless leaves me quite indifferent. Most more or less objective aspects work fin, though, and the music pretty much becomes a matter of taste, so have a taste for yourself and make up your own opinion.
Low resolution otherwise don't do justice to the highly detailed cover art, so feel free to check out a larger version of Reuben Bhattacharya's creation. Rating: 3
Transcending Obscurity Records, 22.03.17
Australia might best known for frenetic extreme brutality, but Aussies also have other irons in the fire. Frowning* has been my preferred sleep-inducing aid, in a positive sense, for over a month, but Illimitable Dolor now introduce a good alternative to an already alternative medicine.
Three members of The Slow Death tune down the instruments and slows the pace furthermore to honour their fallen brother, Gregg Williamson, who passed away a few years ago.
If the preamble don't tell you much, the song's length might give another hint. The album consists of four songs with a total playing time of three quarters, with only scarce four minutes dividing the shortest from the longest track. The press letter calls it atmospheric death/doom. I refer to the genre as funeral doom. That Illimitable Dolor creates an illusion of a sonic funeral procession, is further enhanced by the pipe organ's sonorous gloom.
Comfortable resonating low frequency does something to a man, setting the listener in a mood of its own. When the melodies on top of this conveys grievance in a mournful, yet beautiful way, it creates a touching and spellbinding atmosphere where even those with heads held high feel it adequate to bend their necks in humble respect for kin and cronies lost in battle, having succumbed to the outer limits of life and suffering; death.
Slow and serene like gradually shifting northern lights, the music changes colour and shape, without alternating its primary character. Heavy guitars, cascading organs and basement-deep vocals are moving in the dispirited pace of a procession with rich and full-bodied sound that embrace the listener.
A segment reaching just beyond halfway in Salt of Brazen Seas is reminiscent of parts of the melody line from My Dying Bride's My River, without it being too palpable. It's nevertheless audible enough to make me want to hear a viscid and resounding funeral cover of the nearly 24-year-old classic. Those who purchase the CD, as opposed to the digital version, on the other hand get a cover version of an old Paradise Lost song, Eternal from their second album. This should be regarded as a pure bonus and nothing more, as it was done more or less on impulse in studio, and don't really fit particularly well with their own material. It wasn't even included in the promo pack.
When it comes to the Australians' own material, it's not the most memorable, but that you might not remember the songs in detail, is however soon forgotten, to put it that way, as the music and sound do have the qualities that they do. Illimitable Dolor is hypnotically euphonious, soothing on the verge of tranquillizing, and saddening bordering on tearful.
After this self-titled debut album, the band has been joined by three other musicians. Thus it's safe to jump to the conclusion that this debut has left both me and the band with a taste for more. Rating: 5-
Naples, near the foot of majestic Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy, was most likely founded by Greek colonists approximately 2750 years ago, but after half a millennium, the town naturally fell into Roman hands. The town and its surroundings eventually became widely known for its opera.
When Scuorn from Naples offers orchestral extreme metal inspired by the city's history and influence from opera, it's an exotic and symphonic piece carrying a breath of One Thousand and One Nights that manifest itself.
Scuorn basically consists solely of Giulian, who formed the band nearly ten years ago, but he has received invaluable help from the Stormlord's*Riccardo Studer, who was responsible for the orchestral piece. May this collaboration live long and prosper further. A wide number of other guests has also lent their voices and helped create an epic drama.
The album is named after the siren Parthenope, playing different roles in the city's history – depending on witch myth you go with.
After a majestic symphonic intro, seven songs follows, all with focus on one specific story or legend from the ancient Greek-Roman history, such as Pompeii's demise in the face of Vesuvius' red-hot magma in 79 AD. Another two short instrumental tracks are also included.
It could be tempting to compare Scuorn to their compatriots in Fleshgod Apocalypse, as both play symphonic extreme metal, but Scuorn is not as extreme and intense. Despite sharp riffing, fierce drumming with frequent touches of violent blastbeats and jagged rasping vocals, Parthenope preserves a fairly melodic expression with relatively airy construction, albeit via somewhat compressed audio. The expression is still both ominous and fairly aggressive, and its epic character doesn't become too gentle.
Scuorn blends a flattering folk-character of the surrounding regions into the symphony, a bit like the score to the game Age of Empires, only better, and operatic choruses lifts this mood. Moods of ancient origins are reanimated as images frozen in time coming to life, revitalized to renewed motion. Teeming activity of traffic and trade by seaway and land along Italy's coast emerges. Fishing nets are mended, barrels of fresh fish and other cargo changes owner, page boys are doing errands for their equivalent of a shilling. A vibrant region of potters, blacksmiths and soldiers – from Spain and Portugal in the west to Turkey and Syria in the east - reveals itself and emerges out of the blue as an era witnessed through some magical portal. In the brief interlude Averno, even Norse antiquity finds room and leeway to participate. Right there, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, a ship sailing on the wrong ocean of time can be glimpsed. As if only a mirage, this brief gleam of Kampfar evaporate before bewildered fishermen's eyes.
Grim vocals and metal with heavy impact melts splendidly together with the orchestra's grand local touch. The sound, produced by audio engineer Stefano Morabito in Rome's 16th Cellar Studios, find room for all ingredients, and creates a mighty vigorous vista, even if it the space gets a bit cramped. Parthenope has become a very successful debut, where solid and coherent songs offers action-packed dramaturgy, performed with qualitative panache. The ordinary CD is enough for my part, but for the extra nerdy completists, there's also a few versions with an orchestral bonus CD. We're talking instrumental, symphonic “soundtracks” of course. And if the digibook version with said CD doesn't satisfy your compulsive hoarding, there's even a boxed set including amongst other hand-picked stones from the volcano. Beat that! Both of these bonus versions are limited to hundred copies each. Rating: 5-
In 2012, Greek Acrimonious released their second album Sunyata. According to some sources, the band could celebrate ten years in Lucifer's service the very same year.
Until then, the band had already undergone its share of replacements. Via demo and two EPs, Acrimonious were reduced from quartet to duo, before Cain Letifer (who initially called himself Carnage Lust) was left alone on the debut, albeit with a former colleague as session drummer.
C.L. has relations to Serpent Noir, Thy Darkened Shade, Acherontas* and Nightbringer, and recruited C. Docre, eventually with involvement in the same bands, on drums. Guitarist and bassist Semjaza from Kawir* was inducted in both Thy Darkened Shade and Acrimonious in 2012. Nightbringer's ar-Ra'd al-Iblis was assigned duty as vocalist, but delivered his resignation after just one album.
Despite Sunyata's colourful and fairly psychedelic cover, even displaying a mysterious nymph, my first encounter with the Greeks was an echoing carousel of antagonistic profane spirituality. The album became one of my favourites that year. Eleven Dragons is another dynamic display of ethereal black art. This time even uglier, viler and sporting sharper edges.
The nightmare begins with Incineration Initiator, whose start is like waking up on a mouldy mattress in an unfamiliar and completely dark room. Instinctively, one pursue what one imagines is the nearest wall in desperate search for an exit or at least a light switch. The wall seems distinctively long, seemingly endless, and the absence of anticipated irregularities quickly gives rise to uneasiness manifested in cold sweat. While the intellect aims to preserve some peace of mind by suppressing a dawning suspicion, the anxiety still increase, until peaking when finally and reluctantly accepting the obvious. Having groped blindly for what feels like an eternity, one resign and realize the unthinkable. The misgivings are rooted in reality. You are going in circles along a smooth wall around a dirty mattress. All you know is lost, nothing will ever be the same, and what's worse; the certainty that everything is gradual going to go from bad to worse in a horrible damnation of painful decay.
Eleven Dragons consists of eleven songs that form an intricate pattern that's beautiful seen from the outside, but that's difficult, or at least time-consuming to get closer to. Portions of the matter feels strangely familiar, like remote memories from a repeated dream. Details are however not revealed without a fight, and the progress is slow through tangled thorns. Eleven Dragons is one of few works I listened to fairly thoroughly last week, but still, after intense listening sessions in recent days, its inhospitable labyrinths emerges as halfway unrecognisable. As if the thicket grows shut, leaving an impenetrable wall, while the concrete walls behind it switch places and the inventory in the bunker alternates its position from session to session. 66.6 minutes is also a whole lot to digest when the architecture appears to be of the non-euclidean kind.
On Eleven Dragons, Cain Letifer handles the vocals once again, and his implacable hostile voice sounds more hateful than that of ar-Ra'd al-Iblis, exhibiting a more spiritual approach on Sunyata.
Truth be told, Eleven Dragons ain't exceptionally malicious, sinister or aggressive. Its black tones have plenty of melody and rich, bass-heavy sound, and it's as available as Watain's Malfeitor. Other raw odious brutality exist that would make these dragons eleven appear as relatively mild-mannered. But even if the surface in many ways seems alluring and harmless, one need not sink far below the blank surface before being grabbed by the alarming nature of insecurity as one feels the extreme cold of the menacing undertows.
To be honest, it's not without a reason that I mainly speak of Eleven Dragons allegorically. The album is full of substance in the sense that something constantly happens. And this something is constantly very appealing. But to explain this intangible ritual through concrete unequivocal scriptural rendition, occurs to me as abstract. Or maybe I've just run out of conventional words and phrases.
The music is haunted by a spiritual occult mood with ominous undertones, and fans of World Terror Committee and their recent releases from bands like Crimson Moon* and Shaarimoth*, are strongly recommended to make it through the unruly thorns and get a load of the infamous murky room on their own. Oh, and just relax. We promise to open the door when we hear your desperate pleas and heartbreaking cries for mercy.
I've had grave difficulty rating this work. I vastly appreciate the album, but I don't see this as being spoken of as one of the timeless masterpieces of metal in any alternative future. Thus I avoid a full score. It's still safe to say that I suspect Acrimonious of having reserved a spot at this year's recap list. Rating: 5+