Amor Fati Productions, 16.01.17
This summer, I finally found some time to continue reading The Cult Never Dies Vol. One by Dayal Patterson, a book I started reading a long time ago.
I was especially curious about Evilfeast, one of relatively few bands I wasn't initially familiar with, presented in positive terms in the part of the book dedicated to Poland's early black metal scene.
The album Funeral Sorcery was especially praised, and after seeking out a teaser on YouTube, the craving for more was seriously awakened.
I feared it would be difficult to obtain a copy of an album released in only 300 copies several years ago, and that my desire would remain unfulfilled. The fact that the original format was cassette also laid an additional damper on the hope. Luckily, it turned out that the album was reissued on CD, both by Alles Stenar in 2008 and this January by Amor Fati. The latter has also released it on double LP, as the disc lasts for almost an hour.
Funeral Sorcery is certainly not a product of the earliest True Polish Black Metal, as it was released in 2005, but the album is faithful to its roots and takes the listener another ten years back in time. Not to raw black metal exclusively, but to the share of the genre concerned with moods. The band also originates from that time. Specifically from 1996. GrimSpirit started up for himself under the name Darkfeast, which was altered to Evilfeast in 1998. The debut wasn't released until 2004. After next year's Funeral Sorcery, another two albums have seen the daunting light of twilight in 2008 and 2011, while other short releases have been dropped in between. Lastly, a demo in 2015.
The first thing the listener will notice, is the grainy, unpolished sound that gnashes and gnaws against the ears' tiny bones. The soundscape ain't too different from that of Nocte Obducta's Schwarzmetall. A different aspect, which necro-orthodox black metallers isn't necessarily quite as enthusiastic about, is the use of synth. Mostly because the artificial instrument dilute the primitive disgust to merely a sense of dislike, making the music available to the masses. But fear not, you hateful advocate of exclusionary antagonism. Evilfeast probably won't appeal to the uninitiated, despite the fact that the band sorts under the genre called atmospheric black metal.
Despite parts of the material leaning toward atmospheric ambiance, abundant distortion on guitar and vocals along with sequences of raw torrents prevents easy accessibility in the tangled torn bushes. You who have this rough landscape as your natural habitat will most likely enjoy being clawed to blood on these thorns. The fact that the band is one of Poland's most obscure and underappreciated, only helps to highlight its cloud of mysticism.
The album's name fits the material, or rather its moods well. A scent of graveyards and closed ceremonial occultism lies in the air. So also does a sense of dark and sombre loneliness. GrimSpirit is a man very inspired by nature. In the case that Funeral Sorcery is a product of a specific landscape, I instinctively feel it must be of a winter landscape. The music is coloured by frost, suffering and hostility. Rather than spoon-feeding you, I recommend you wait for the darkness of night to fall, fire up some black candles and bolt the volume on the level marked painful. Rating: 5
PS: Sorry about the delay of this translation.
I received an unexpected visitor yesterday. And today I've suffered the after-effects of liquid toxins.
Gorger, who only in exceptional cases refers to himself in third person, reviewed the debut Riddle of Steel from the Swedish / Finnish duo Sons of Crom back in 2014, awarding it four points.
In an attempt to classify the band, I ended up with the fairly splaying hybrid melodic doom-based pagan metal with elements from both Viking and the folk metal. Riddle of Steel was a varied, grand and well done affair with a suiting touch of Quorthon in the clean vocals.
The music on the sophomore album is recognizable, although natural development has led to some change.
The sound in particular has gone through changes, but also vocals and the style of the song material differ somewhat from the debut. This, of course, gives a slightly different expression, although the guys, as mentioned, maintain their identity.
The brighter cleans deviates more from Bathory, and doesn't please me quite as much. The darker, choir-ish, almost chanting vocals used at times is good, and the black vocals, used rarely, such as in Viimeinen Laki, is very good. This song also has a passage of beautiful guitar works, as well as a moodful ending.
Although the music has a touch of medieval pagan to it, there's a lot of epic doom metal this time. The song Legacy stand out with calm acoustic guitar, violins and deeper clean vocal, where associations to Simon & Garfunkel, and perhaps especially Scarborough Fair, come along.
The band offers some memorable melodies, as on In Fire Reborn that contains many good ingredients, but overall also a lot that doesn't gives me much. The incorporation of orchestral elements gives the expression a boost, but not enough to appeal fully. The music largely becomes too kind and toothless for that. If you like it soft and mild, however, The Black Tower might just please you. Rating: 3+
Black Lion Productions, 09.09.16 & 24.12.16
At the very entry of the annual gluttony season toward the end of 2016, Black Lion released the debut album of Temple of Demigod. I was busy with preparations for the feast, so the review was postponed. We compensate for this small delay by treating ourself to a guided tour through both album and EP. Temple of Demigod is a symphonic horror metal band originated in Armenia, located somewhere between Turkey, Russia, Iran, The Black Sea and The Caspian Sea. More specifically in Yerevan, for those who know their geography.
In September 2014, Mark Erskine (Ghoulchapel) laid the foundation for his own band, which combine black metal with deadliness and mighty orchestral arrangements. After three months, toward the end of the year, he presented his first testimony, a 24 minute long EP titled Profane Doctrine.
Musically, a comparison with Carach Angren becomes rather natural. Both the composition and execution holds a relatively high quality of the EP. Mark hasn't just written and played everything himself. Even the production and cover art is done by him.
← Original cover art, 2014.
After a foreboding piano intro, four well-written and moody songs follow, alternating naturally between elements of among other rasping vocals, whipping drums, heavy riffs, string section, wind section and other orchestral elements.
The EP ends with an unexpected cover version. Those with kids or teenagers in the house during the past ten to fifteen years, or who themselves have a young-at-heart Peter Pan complex, can't avoid recognizing Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter.
The sound admittedly gives a sense of a release conceived early in the career, but it's good enough, and the material is more than approved. All in all, Profane Doctrine is an impressive example of what one person can achieve on his own.
↑ New cover art, 2016.
Two years later, the first full length was ready. It's noticeably in the soundscape that more time and experience is put behind this creation. The 40-minute album also contains slightly longer and somewhat more clever compositions.
As the title suggests, The Great Old Ones is inspired by Lovecraft's horrible entities. The album is of the conceptual type, and successfully seeks to recreate the near claustrophobic moods the author's obscure literary works are known for. The gothic undertones of the orchestral work make my thought circulate just as much around count Dracula's bloodshed, but of course that doesn't put a damper on the sensation the listener is soaked in.
Mr. Erskine has once again handled all aspects, which commands respect as you don't get a distinctive impression of bedroom-project. Part of the symphonic aspect admittedly has a distinctive scent of synth, but as well done as it is, it rather gives a nostalgic aura of the nineties, and bands like Limbonic Art and Obsidian Gate.
Some albums just click with me instantly. Such might of course simply turn out to be just catchy, audible available stuff that fades quickly, but trained ears should likely reveal such cheap tricks pretty fast.
When I accidentally came across Scorn the Idle, I instinctively knew that I had found precious metal, and after a few minutes I was also quite sure that this was solid metalwork with a lasting quality that would not lose its luster.
What I wasn't aware of at the time, though, was that I had reviewed the Poles debut Manifesto three and a half years earlier. I wrote an enthusiastic piece on it in Norwegian, praising its impressive qualities.
The band's extreme metal is a cross between black atmosphere and deadly riffs, harsh vocals and crushing rhythms, powerful punch and majestic sensations. Stylistically, the band can thus be placed in the same pigeonhole as their countrymen in Behemoth and Hate*, but the similarity is far from striking. Northern Plague sounds less like their compatriots this time around. They play more on hateful atmosphere than magnificent grandeur, with an airy, dynamic expression sprinkled with detailed technical finesse.
The band is nowhere near what we know as technical metal, but the technical skills can't be denied. It's probably a bit wrong to say that drummer Damyen (Unearthly-live) in particular excels, as he ain't alone in doing so, but the percussion is nevertheless especially delightful. This kind of almost progressively varied artistic craftsmanship is actually quite out of the ordinary. The guitars also deliver some brilliant strokes of genius. In the song Man of Glass both parties give each other room for a bit of experimental playfulness, and even the bass gets to shine beyond the norm.
Instead of just resorting to the usual ingredients, the recipe is spiced up by adding a pinch of dissonant cayenne pepper. A few drops of grapefruit are added to the rhythm now and then, while the guitars at times get a splash of liquor to jazz up the dish. Ingredients are from time to time borrowed from different areas. Such as the tincture of deathcore one can trace in some of the rhythms. The Day After gives an atonal symphonic sensation mixed with a calm touch of Pink Floyd, while Drowned - after a series of more or less kaleidoscopic and raw songs - again blends comfortable numbness into the mix. This time in a heavier (and strikingly beautiful) composition with consistency of death/doom. In a tastefully manner, the additives ain't exaggerated unreasonably. They add some intricate bitterness that prevents the rich stew from entering one hole and exiting the other.
If the last sentence gave some unpleasant mental images: good. Quality music should preferably leave an aftertaste, memories for thought, a mental echo that resonates with the listener, and most preferably; a taste for more. Scorn the Idle refuses to go quietly from ear to ear without shaking up the listener along the way. As a kind of benign nuisance, the music tease the listener quite innocently, making the music and its charming nature stick in mind. The music invites to concentrated listening, and gives something in return. The price of diversity is that the music's ability to please the listener might vary slightly from moment to moment. That, however, is a small price to pay for a solid artistic workmanship that glow with passion and artistic freedom.
Scorn the Idle - recorded and produced in Sound Division Studio with support from Heinrich (Vesania) and Malta - may not be a spotless album, and it also splays slightly, but I like the vast majority of the courses it takes while it sniff around like a blood dog and turn every stone as a curious chimpanzee. I like the forceful blow in the slightly sharp, yet bass-heavy and booming sound. I like the overall identity the album develop after a dozen spins. And the word “like” is really a modest understatement. This is an album I will recall, and that I will surely come back to again. A subjective full score, although there's no lack of objective justification. Ravishing! Rating: 6-
Listen to Man of Glass right here, whilst you can check out not quite as spectacular Crown for Fools on YouTube.
Shadow Kingdom&Hells Headbangers, 28.07.17 Temple of Void from Detroit impressed with their dark mixture of doom and death on the debut Of Terror and the Supernatural three years ago. Their doomy death were somewhat different from conventional death metal, while I wouldn't want to put the band in the doom/death pigeon-hole. The band's crushing dark expression lay somewhat in between. Somewhere... in the void.
With the Lords of Death, the guys show that they manage to maintain some kind of signature without repeating themselves.
Why not simply start with Of Terror and the Supernatural, released September 30th, 2014 by Rain Without End.
The following words were published in Norwegian only roughly a week after the release.
From Detroit, USA, comes a quintet that plays doomified death metal, but not death/doom. One and a half years ago, the guys released their first sign of death, Demo MMXIII. The gang has landed a well-deserved contract, and is now out with their debut disc.
The band offers hard and heavy beating rhythms. They still don't use black paint alone to paint the devil on the wall. There's a lot of good usage of melody in the eight songs, and that often comes in handy when a disc lasts for 50 minutes. The mammoth-song on this album is called Bargain in Death. A barely 11 minutes long track. In fact, this one can become a bit boring, as it mills (too) much of the same melody lines. The last half, however, has a hypnotic feel. The other songs never becomes boring. They all have a veil of despondency hanging over them, but they are first and foremost excluding, hostile and dismissive. The two guitars are frequently used to spice the album with for instance creepy, eclectic or dreamy tones. Or acoustic and progressive picking, as in the interlude To Carry This Corpse Evermore. When bass, drums and vocals also pull their weight, this becomes an album that I feel grows with every spin.
After four rounds, I recommend this as a quality-filled, slow and heavy death machine with lots of wonderful melodies led by the guitarists.
It was originally released in 300 copies plus digitally, but was re-released by Shadow Kingdom two years ago.
Now on to Lords of Death!
This one doesn't sound as roaringly resounding as Of Terror..., but the band still doesn't offer bright and jolly tones. Except from in the acoustic interlude An Ominous Journey, a very short - almost out of place - thing, which nevertheless gives a minimal break, and that despite the misleading title reassure you that not every aspect of life is necessarily horrible.
But apart from this half a minute, the Americans spend 36 minutes tightening the vice around your temples while assuring you that you're doomed nevertheless. And that with panache. The band mixes solid riffs, good melodies, gloomy moods, strange sounds, angry cellar vocals and hard-hitting rhythms, assembled in respectably structural compositions.
I might not be quite as excited about Lords of Death as I am about Of Terror..., but Temple of Void still offers solid things that can be readily recommended to death metal fans. And perhaps especially to those who are ready for something that stands out a bit. It should be pointed out, however, that the Americans are closer to conventional death and corruption now than then. Rating: 4
Shadow Kingdom takes care of the CD release and digital music, while Hells Headbangers distributes the vinyl.
Napalm Records, 11.08.17
I literally feel that I've been flooded with releases from all kinds of deadly missionaries recently. I was fearing another display of generic Car Press Machine Metal when the Germans in Dawn Of Disease had once again set pressure to the hydraulics.
Deep within, though, I know that these guys serve the death sentence in an enjoyable and entertaining way.
The boys keep Gothenburg's melo-death at arm's length, and rather offer a combination of good melodies and crushing riffs.
The German's third album was rather well received a year ago, although I haven't sought it out in retrospect. That doesn't mean a lot, though. I've got limited time to tune in to the past, as the future is hitting me face on like a stiff breeze with storm and scrap particles in the gusts. You might as well read my short description of Worship The Grave, for it actually describes the music in a nutshell. For those not familiar with the Germans, I can add that they operate in some of the same landscapes as Amon Amarth.
I've spent more time on Ascension Gate than with its predecessor. There are some songs with fairly simple melodies and a little insipid touch here. Something that makes me lose some interest. But then, all of a sudden, hefty memorable riffs packed with atmosphere comes along. With new zeal and motivation, the colourful guitar works, the juicy vocal and the bass-heavy and rich rhythm section are caught up by the radar's unstable sensors.
At its best, Ascension Gate is very solid. On its more ordinary, the engine is simply idling. The intro Passage and the subsequent Perimortal give a promising start, but then they miss out on the opportunity and stagnate a bit. One characterless song later, and Beneath the Waters tries to make the music take off without getting enough air under the wings. Things don't fall into place before the title song detonate with a melodic and memorable rifle in the midst of the album, and the song moves on with nifty guitar works. When the guys continue with Akephalos, which offers both atmosphere and drift, they are in the zone. The following Fleshless Journey isn't quite there, but it does have its moments, without a doubt. Then the boys lose the grip again. They pull together in the last minute, though, delivering a knock-out ending with mighty, nine-minutes long Mundus Inversus.
With Dan Swanö behind the rudder, the sound is of course rich and nice. Unfortunately, the contrast between peaks and lowlands leaves me a little ambivalent, but Ascension Gate is strictly listenable, even at its most mediocre. Therefore, a weak approval. Rating: 4-