Einheit Produktionen, 20.10.17
The German pagan-black metallers in Andras have a long road behind them. The band was started in 1994, and it is now 20 years since the debut was released.
Main man Count Damien Nightsky is the only remaining original member and the one who has kept the band together through all these years. In recent years, however, the band has been rather inactive.
After a seven-year break, finally album number seven is available. And the album's length testifies to a band that has a lot of catching up to do.
The Germans ain't more restrained than that they offer a total of 67 minutes of new music. For fans of pagan metal who don't buy a lot of new music, and who appreciate “bang for the buck” it might be a bargain. For all others, who try to miss out on as little as possible, this is quite a lot to digest. And for a writer; lots to present. Reminiszenzen... is admittedly presented as a three-piece work, but I'm still not sure where the distinction between the different acts are.
My first and only meeting with Andreas is their fifth album, Iron Way (2008). An album that I vaguely recalls as alright, though not much more. Reminiszenzen... seems to me somewhat better, even if this one don't seem too memorable either. The length of the work might have to take some of the blame. Getting the album under the skin is a time consuming process. It's not exactly a test of patience, though, as the music ain't in any way bad. Some of the 13 tracks could have been trimmed out, like the bland interludes Die Tilgung and Anewand, as well as the rather generic song Der Blinde Mann. It's still important to announce that I never become really bored along the raid.
Reminiszenzen... sees Andras combine black and pagan/viking moods with a symphonic sprinkling as a backdrop. Songs like Black Rain and Zenit can be used as examples of synthetic orchestration. The band also varies decently through the disc. While a song like Phantasma offers tough competent rhythms, black scorched witching-vocals and ample drive, Blessed in Sin has more of a black'n'roll style, while Altar der Finsternis calms down quite a lot. The last four songs can all be said to contribute with nifty melodies and moods, albeit to a varying degree.
At their best, the band delivers in a most satisfactory way. Unfortunately, not all the material holds the same decent level. The album would have come better into its own if it had been cut down to three quarters of an hour, but overall I find much to appreciate this time around. Rating: 4-
Les Acteurs de L'Ombre Productions, 20.10.17
French Heir is another new act ready to claim their place in the collective black metal awareness. The band plays a form of dissonant post-metallic black depression with dystopic moods. Au Peuple de l’Abîme is not a concept album, but the quintet has a common platform, as they consider that mankind have inherited an earth it doesn't deserve. Heir seemingly consists of disillusioned souls. It's only natural to feel more and more entangled into reality's putrid spider web the more you reflect on the state of affairs.
You don't need no diagnosis to gain a negative view on existence, though you can't rule out the presence of assorted severe post-traumatic dissociative disorders circulation within the band when their atonal tones set to work.
Heir ain't quite as kaleidoscopic as some of their countrymen. They use some monotony, but present it with cacophonous intensity and enough sliding variation to create hypnotic moods without boring the listener.
The album Au Peuple de l’Abîme, whose title can be translated to “To the People of the Abyss”, takes some time to get under the skin. It can appear as somewhat abstract at first listen, but its moods of suspicion and antagonism, portrayed passionately through dark passages of harsh pessimism and battering frenetic disgust, soon enough form a distinctive suggestive sphere. The band has some of said kaleidoscopy, which lies latent and gets its outlet in restless outbursts, but they've also inherited parts of their personality from black metal's depressive sub-genre.
The band is portrayed as black/sludge on Encyclopaedia Metallum, but that was more evident on the Asservi EP (2016) (whose three tracks also appears on a split released the same year). A doomy touch is still present, but it would be more adequate to talk about black/doom in those places where the viscous currents manifest themselves. Passages with intensity, full throttle, punch, diabolical moods and/or devilish rasping vocals, however, prevents the designation black/doom from being perceived as fitting for all of Au Peuple de l’Abîme.
Heir condemn the human race, and leaves no hope. I can easily live with that, for the quintet's gloomy dystopia is presented with lavish spellbinding hypnosis. Rating: 5-
Saturnal Records, 20.10.17
Finnish Aegrus was born as a duo in 2005. The two comrades have delivered several demos, as well as a couple of EPs. The last one just last year, not much more than a year after the debut was launched ten years after the initial inception.
I have unfortunately not encountered the band earlier. Thus I can't claim that Thy Numinous Darkness is their magnum opus. Still, I have a suspicion that this is the case.
Fans of satanic black moods conveyed with abundant melodies ought to sharpen the ears.
Encyclopaedia Metallum suggests that Kauko Kuusisalo (Gorephilia et al.) have recently been taken over the drums, while the string section is reinforced by guitarist Tohtori Antikristus. The press release, however, goes far beyond merely implying that the original crew has recorded this work all alone. In which case Darkseer Inculta handles drums in addition to hissing into the microphone, while Lux Tenebris takes care of guitar and bass, in addition to backing vocals and additional screams. The guys have visited Blackvox Studio, and received a production that clearly emphasizes the details of their chilled scenery.
The guitars are sharp as shiny icicles that reflect the flash-light's flimsy rays in the icy cave. The drums thunder like glaciers when violent forces makes tons of frozen ice fracture. The violently tearing vocal is delightfully rough over the guitar's mournfully weeping tones of wailing grief.
Aegrus conveys dim moods of depression, hatred and disgust. Sharpened guitar strings, black-scorched vocals and gloomy riffs that sprinkles soot, often have the habit of conveying negativity with a whiff of reckless stubbornness. Thy Numinous Darkness nevertheless stands out with exceptionally strong melodic moods.
Vibes of Windir, though fortunately not too marked, sometimes appear in the band's hefty flair for melodies. Perhaps especially in Psalms of Satan, where the vocal rhythm also points in the same direction. Several songs deserve to be mentioned. Among them, Embodiment of Chaos. A fashionable start to a 47 minute long work. I nevertheless choose to illuminate Transcendence, a beautiful album-swansong so to speak, where wistful melancholy flows in torrential streams.
Aegrus delivers with panache. The atmosphere of defying discouragement, despair and obstacles by means of determination, rolled up sleeves and gritted teeth, is formidably conveyed through gorgeous melodies and a razor sharp soundscape that flashes like lightning in the glare of the steel ice that hangs like frozen stalactites from the ceilings of the cave. Thy Numinous Darkness has been played a lot over the last few weeks, and for good reasons. I take the liberty of giving the album six points, as the record is among the most ripping I've heard in quite a while. Rating: 6-
Eternal Echoes, 13.10.17
German The Spirit is a newcomer on the market, but little and nothing indicates that the band is debutants.
The band came out of the casting mould two years ago, and has since then chiselled out a solid work.
Sounds From The Vortex blends black and death into a melodic spectacle that drags the mind back in time. The band themselves claim to have created something that should be able to appeal to fans of classic No Fashion releases, and I can agree with that description.
The Spirit has a spirit, a sound, a breath of early melodic extreme metal, and although the similarities are not significant, I get some vibes of bands like Dissection and Immortal around At the Heart of Winter. The style is mild, without becoming too gentle, for their midtempo black/death has rhythms and drive that's easy to like. It is nevertheless the guy's flair for good melodies and structures that to the greatest extent makes a mark.
Every single sequence through these 38 minutes might not be equally engaging, but the entirety can be said to have remarkably good song-writing overall. There's nothing to complain about regarding the performance either. The recording is tight and the sound is good. The quartet uses the classic instrument delegation, in addition to the vocalist also handling the axe. Chasing drums and windswept riffs emerges loud and clear, while black vocals of the distinctly audible articulated type lay on top.
For being the first album, Sounds From The Vortex is an impressive vista. And it's not just “good for being a debut”. Listen to The Clouds of Damnation for instance, and enjoy the diversion in fluctuating and oscillating guitars and the whipping percussions, or Illuminate the Night Sky, with its architecture, stripped down sequences and moods of the past. Rating: 4+