War Anthem Records, 16.03.18
We're going back to the North West corner of the Iberian Peninsula, to the trio Balmog, whom we visited a couple of months ago, in connection with their participation on a split with Sartegos.
At the time, I mentioned comparisons to Sheidim*, and I have previously mentioned similarities between the latter and Watain*.
Thus, you should be aware of what musical (and even geographical) landscapes Balmog slither through.
Balmog was formed about 15 years ago by the gentlemen Balc, Virus and Morg. They've obviously been able to cope with each other since, and are now here with their third album. Vacuum is the first of these that I get to immerse myself in.
Vacuum suffers from the fact that their metaphysical presence occupies the same time and space as other and similar entities (like Voodus, Valkyria or Merrimack, just to name a few examples). Balmog still has the power to deliver convincingly, even though they don't stand out too much. Amongst other, the Spaniards adds extra dark and creepy moods to their infernal black fire.
The guys mix their flaming and fairly mighty form of massive melodic black furore, with a somewhat dissonant and aggressively hostile attitude. The metallic reverb of the guitar strings vibrates in the air like a high voltage, barbed live wire fences. The vocal pulsate with resentment, and expel its bitter bile in infuriated ire.
The band brings along solid song material that offers immersion, and they convey anger and aversion in a convincing manner. The recording was (as that of Ataraxy's last album) taken care of by Javi Bastard in Moontower Studios, and the mastering was left in the safe hands of renowned Tore “Necromorbus” Stjerna.
Even though somewhat similar metal exists, and Vacuum ain't exactly the most exciting album on the market, Balmog is able to form its own dark universe with this album. Isolated, the music is claustrophobic and delightfully unnerving, like a tour of forbidden catacombs without map nor mobile signal.
While War Anthem delivers the CD version, Blackseed Prod. offers vinyl, and In Pulverem Mortis Prod. tapes. Rating: 4+
Apathia Records, 23.03.18
In 2013, the two Norwegians Kjetil Ytterhus (Omnia Moritur) and André Aaslie (Images At Twilight, Abyssic et al.) formed the band Profane Burial, to combine a black metallic expression with majestic orchestral dramaticism. With more supplements to the line-up, the band has grown into a quintet.
Unlike the typical procedure in André's other bands, the two creators have collaborated on the orchestration. Mr. Aaslie has also used his vocal, at the same time as the band has a dedicated vocalist in Ronny Thorsen (Viper Solfa, ex-Trail Of Tears, ex-Blood Red Throne.
On both four and six strings, we find Jostein Thomassen (Viper Solfa, Source of Tide), and behind toms and cymbals, Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow can be found. (Also he in Viper Solfa and former in Trail Of Tears, as well as in Maahlas).
André Aaslie's other exploits, since he left being a writer in renowned Norwegian Scream Magazin to realized his inner composer, could act as references. Even Carach Angren becomes a very natural indicator to how The Rosewater Park Legend appear. The album feels like a concept, and has the well-known dramaturgical mood of harrowing nightmares. In my imagination, there is something uncomfortable unfolding right in front of my eyes, without me being able to interpret what it is. In reality, it is my ears that's picking up this frightful horror, and my overzealous mind that fantasizes.
It's probably not only imagination, though. As in the case of Images At Twilight, Andre's former colleague, Scream veteran Bjørn Nørsterud, has written the story behind the album. I haven't been quick-witted enough to ask for the lyrics, so I haven't read them, but I sense the outlines of something terrible in the turbulent vortex of different theatrical currents. At least, it seems clear that some unfortunate village is being burdening by witchcraft.
The various compositions on the album don't have the strongest and most distinctive identity. The album floats nicely, but the memorability becomes rather so-so. Thus the album does not stand out a whole lot. This prevents status as a future classic, but it doesn't make the album any less moody and magnificent. After just over three quarters of an hour, the vocal shifts from English to Norwegian. This distinguishing transition creates an effect that gives the last minutes an extra boost, (well, if you know Norwegian, anyway,) leaving the listener with an increased taste for more. The rest of the disc is admittedly appetizing enough in itself. Extreme metal fans with an extraordinary taste for mighty symphonic expressions, anew have something grand and epic to look forward to. Rating: 4+
Transcending Obscurity Records, 20.03.18 Et Moriemur is a Czech band, basing their musical foundation on orchestra death/doom. They might not take the genre “to new heights”, but at least they take it to foreign lands and days of yore.
On their newest work, lasting for as much as 53 minutes, the Czechs mix different related genres into a fresh pot-pourri, and a distinctive requiem.
The band was formed ten years ago, and has come to their third full length. I haven't heard the previous two, but they have also got ample duration, that go beyond 50 minutes.
It probably wouldn't been impossible to guess the origin of the quintet at first attempt. At least not without getting it wrong. The band uses Latin and Old Greek to convey their tragedy. Something they've of course received a few helping hands in order to accomplish. Among other, Greek Kostas Panagiotou (Pantheist, Clouds et al.) speak in the intro Introitus, while Nikos Vlachakis (Shattered Hope - also Greek) sings in the song Agnus Dei, where even a few other Greeks recites some text. This in addition to three choristers on the list of vocal contributors.
The album's got multiple vocal forms. Everything from basement-growls to Gregorian monk choir. One of the many vocal styles is a whining, tentatively black form of vokill, which unfortunately sounds a bit parodic. That, however, is the only real appeal I have. That vocal form is also being used only scarcely. It hardly takes any real effect in any other song than Communio.
Epigrammata is a symphonic piece in metallic clothing, where even sacral chanting finds its natural space. The guest list otherwise goes on into the classically-scooled ranks, with acoustic guitarist, violinist, cellist and trombonist.
Et Moriemur thus takes a starting point in death/doom and classicism (musical or otherwise) when communicating their historically inspired concept. They still paint their motifs of historical landscapes with broadness in their range of diverging colours and different types of brushes. Funeral marches may occur. The danger of depressive and aggressive influences of extreme metal is imminent. Likewise, is the chance of touching upon baroque. Atmospheric moods threaten to drown the listener in melancholy and misery, but as a malicious Cheshire-Cat, progressive and jazzy parts try to convince the same listener that everything is fine. It's safe. Even the liturgical voices of the Gregorians, which chant words in a foreign tongue, seems to try to convince us that it's merely a dream.
Epigrammata is an abstract piece of music that nevertheless forms a fascinating, adventurous and fairytale-like whole. If something doomy and different tempts you, Et Moriemur is recommended as company. A sonic, lightly psychedelic and hypnotic companion among archaic Roman dramaturgy, that (fully, partially or to some degree) can be recommended to fans of such dissimilar acts as Abyssic*, Alcest, Luna*, Haggard and/or After Forever.
PS: I sometimes nag about albums that doesn't form their own universe. You may like or dislike Epigrammata, depending on your taste, but it is in any case capable of creating its own universe, and over fifty minutes of escapism.
Independent, 23.02.18 Kaoteon has had to fight more doggedly than most for their passion, but they've remained loyal and proved their devotion to extreme metal.
The duo hails from Lebanon, where government and clergy must be said to be inseparable, as various leaders of the parliament is obligated by law to be affiliated with christianity or islam respectively. Kaoteon was formed 20 years ago. First, under the spelling Chaotaeon. The band had to change their name slightly, however, as the regime's police took the name for being a translation of the Arabic word “devils”.
Kaoteon has in several cases been persecuted and imprisoned for what the religious authorities regard as blasphemy. Anthony Kaoteon (guitar and bass) and Walid Wolflust (vocal) have therefore sought freedom in the Netherlands. They have also received support from experienced acts in the Western world. Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Alkaloid et al.) has handled bass, and Fredrik Widigs (Marduk etc.) has taken care of the percussion.
The debut album Veni Vidi Vomui (2011) testified to a hungry band with a conviction. The album held the right expression, but wasn't quite there. Among other things, the squeal-like-a-pig vocal became a bit too much. The ultimate form of blasphemy in a partly muslim country, perhaps. The band in any case showed ample potential.
Damnatio Memoriae is another step in the right direction, but the album ain't quite where I'd like it to be. The vocal is still shrill, and there's something slightly askew with the sound. The vocal has a bestial twist, not entirely unlike the one of Anorexia Nervosa vocalist Hreidmarr. However, in this form of black metal, more inspired by the second wave, the vocal doesn't completely fit in my ears.
The recording initially sounds flaming, but somewhere in the production, something has gone a tad “wrong”. Everything is terribly compressed, which, in turn, prevents the timbre from sounding entirely correct at all times. This is really just nit-picking. A little bit of gravel in the machinery, if you want, or in this case; desert sand. Such doesn't necessarily cause any major damage in this genre.
The expression leans a little more towards warlike aggression than atmosphere, and can probably be said to be quite closely related to the Swedish offspring. The song material ain't the very most exciting, even if it's sufficient. Despite some minor cavil, the lads show progress. The expression gives a credible feel of the justified indignant resentment that easily arises when individuals in the Middle East begin to use their minds and reflect on reality on their own, without being lead blindly as camels. Rating: 4-