Caligari Rec., 06.02.18&Iron Bonehead, 31.05.18
Last spring, the odious French entity Amnutseba debuted with their first demo, simply called Demo. This consisted of the songs I, II, IV and V.
The four-track release consisted of rancid dissonant dystopia, which for most people would feel like licking a porcupine “against the grain” of the spines.
In February, the French followed up with Demo II, which complemented those songs with even longer III and VI.
In order to complete the work, all songs were later arranged in the correct order, and released as a compilation.
The cover above shows the compilation released just over two months ago, while the cover below belongs to the standalone second demo.
When covering Demo, I amongst other wrote that “This demo is full of claustrophobic putrefaction and frightfully oppressive dissonance, by ways and waves of hypnotic atonal ebbs and flows”. There's really not a whole lot to add. And simplistic words quickly finds their limitations when abstract art is to be conveyed. Regardless of whether the disharmony assumes calm, billowing and floating moods of discomfort, or intense and threatening panic-inducing avalanches.
The two newer songs in the series both last for close to eight minutes, and blends naturally into this cacophonic chaos manifesto. In total, the six songs make up 35.5 minutes, and the compilation could easily have been released as an album, if all songs hadn't already been released in demo format. The sound is noisy and unpleasant, but only because that's what the music seeks to convey. Not because this is a simple basement recording.
The two demos can be heard or requested on cassette separately from Caligari Records, or compiled on vinyl via Iron Bonehead Productions: Demo(Sold out) Demo II I-VI
The Western Norwegians in Istårn (Ice Tower) released a two-track single of 12 minutes early this year.
This came out two years after the last sign of life, the Cosmic Scar single.
Five years have passed since Istårn album-debuted with Skyggeland, which was released two years after the debut EP Downfall of the Gods.
I won't make the claim that the band, which has existed since 2010, has re-located, but it will probably be more correct to say that the band dwell in the surroundings of the city of Bergen now.
The music that the sextet performs, is rooted in the Norwegian profane culture of the 90s, but has been drenched in melody and melancholy.
The seven-minute title track opens aggressively, but melodic guitars and synthesizer quickly draws the music into a more bleak and desolated direction. An atmosphere of damnation and hopelessness manifests, dragging the listener into the depths. The song Devouring Chains keeps the listener firmly locked in this futile state of desperate dejection, throughout its five minutes.
Once again, I pick up associations to the years surrounding the millennium shift when synth, grand piano, guitar solos and at the end a touch of clean vocals are incorporated along with thundering drums and fiery vocals. Even though the band doesn't inhabit the most rural areas, the music is nevertheless located in the periphery of the black landscape. Ancient Wisdom may perhaps work as a slightly vague and imprecise reference as such. Istårn is admittedly not at the level of the latter, but for fans of atmospheric, melodic and melancholic black metal, both band and single are worth a closer look.
For the hell of it, so that tristesse don't gain the upper hand, I attach a self-made manipulated parody of the cover art, complete with intentional typo.
Oration&Independent, 10.01.18 & 11.01.18 Mortuus Umbra from Tel Aviv, Israel was started in 2015, and dropped the Holy Procreation single and the Catechism EP the same year.
The band consists of members linked to bands such as Har, Eternal Gray, Sonne Adam and The Bishop of Hexen, and plays a form of sinister, doomy black metal. Catechism was reissued in January, rapidly followed by a new EP called Omnipraesent.
Catechism was first released in autumn 2015, with the cover shown to the right.
The opening track is titled XI VSN / Holy Procreation, a name that smell of integrated intro from afar. My patience is put to the test by three minutes of cosmic noise, but after this, the supernova explodes and exposes us to irresistible harmful radiation. The whole EP clocks in at 22.5 minutes. Thus the dose is not fatal, just chronically hazardous.
Facetious exaggerations aside. The Israelis deliver a malignant and aggressive atmosphere, like a chip off the old block of the Nidrosian and Icelandic scenes. Mortuus Umbra combines malicious melodies and ditto moods and an adequate amount of dissonant kaleidoscopy. After a short piece of introductory ambiance, the Israelites' music dance like a paralysing, tireless and macabre, yet exquisite tango in my mind, for twenty minutes to end.
Omnipraesent continues in the same vein, with refined percussion, threatening guitars and frenetic vocal that forebode a painful death. Omnipraesent doesn't contain more than two tracks, and lasts for no more than ten minutes, but when the listener is left hungry for more while the band has hijacked a vital part of the consciousness, I'd say the objective is achieved.
Mortuus Umbra is yet a band worth keeping a watchful eye on, and Catechism and Omnipraesent are both worth owning for esteemed completionists. Two thumbs up. Horns up!