Blood Harvest&Helter Skelter Productions, 26.10.18
Two and a half years ago, we made a visit to two young and promising American death metal bands. Scorched released their debut album later that year, and released another album less than two months ago. The Baltimore band Putrisect hasn't been quite as active, but their infernal mass of the dead is worth waiting for.
The Cascading Inferno EP continues where the Final State of Existence split left off, bringing six new hymns of putrefaction to the table.
If I were to choose, I'd say that the material on the split was slightly stronger. The band still sounds morbid, albeit not quite as depraved as last time around. It is, however, still a vitally deranged band we encounter. The EP fulfils all requirements of intense punch and thick, lethal moods of decay. It should also be said that the band really went out of their way to create eerie melody lines last time. Putrisect's heavy riffs are still ominous, and the vocal alone can cause severe hypothermia along the spine.
At the former crossroad, I mentioned a rotten whiff of occult undertones. In fact, I think I mentioned most clichés associated with this kind of old school sepulchral death metal from the crypt. As I've run out of words, I leave the task of listening to you, as I go refill my battery with a box of alphabet cookies.
For the third time (yet only second in English), I'm stopping by the instrumental prog-fusion band Divine Realm from Ontario, Canada, on my desultory journey in the metaliverse.
I like to think that I've explained the musical expression adequately on previous occasion(s) and I don't have much to add. This will therefore just be a quick presentation of a barely 20 minutes long EP containing five songs.
In connection with my impression of the previous album, Tectum Argenti, I forgot to mention the least appealing aspect of the release; that the drums sounded relatively synthetic. The press release didn't mention the drums specifically, but declared Josh Ingram as the band's drummer.
It turns out that he hasn't participated on any of the previous releases. On the positive side, the rhythm now sounds much more organic than before. And the percussion is just as proficient and progressive as one would expect from this genre. It's nevertheless the two guitars that mainly dominate Divine Realm's landscape.
The music from these Canadians has a gentle, harmless and playful character where the guitars swirls around like curious butterflies with no natural enemies. The atmosphere is exploratory and energetic in a somewhat dreamy manner. If you have a liking for this kind of mildly “masturbatory” music, I'd recommend Nordicity. Personally, I find the music comfortable and relaxing, although the somewhat arbitrary tones probably have the opposite effect on some.
Malpermesita Records, 18.01.18
The French pagan metal band Nydvind was conceived in Paris as the winter kicked in, in year 2000.
In 2003, they released their first album, Eternal Winter Domain. Sophomore Sworn to the Elders admittedly took its time until 2010, but with a more experienced and tighter band, it was a completely different and more coherent work that met the listener. The sound in particular was radically improved. Seas of Oblivion is the first part of a planned tetralogy, based on the four elements.
Not entirely unlike Vintersorg, who also has a series of albums dedicated to the four elements. Although from what I can see, the Swedes still have one album pending in their tetralogy (or quadrilogy).
As on the debut, the band again operates as a trio. The members have links to a number of prominent bands, such as Temple of Baal, Monolithe, Azziard, Bran Barr and The Negation. Reasonably good job references, I'd say.
On Seas of Oblivion, their third album, the band continues the trend of occasionally long songs and abundant duration. The album lasts for well over an hour. When these “southern Vikings” portray the wet element, it's only natural that they launch the longship, and chant their poems on the open sea. Lapping of the waves, chuckling water and other nautical effects, like the call of the seagull, accompany our wet voyage.
Seas of Oblivion is a melodic journey where various vocal types, like cleans, black, choir and chants mix with acoustic sequences, atmosphere and elements from the gentle spectre of black/viking, creating a bubble where time stands still. A micro-universe where the salty currents are toilsome and the wind whips the ocean white.
Tetramental I may not have the strongest sense of coherent conceptual history, but when the concept is limited to a theme, rather than a story, that doesn't matter. For the feeling of the wet element is present in full. The album forms a unified sense of isolation and loneliness, surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see. Sentenced to eternally sailing King Neptune's surging oceans. The dreaming essence of the music is fortunately far more varied than what a continuous blue horizon in the distance would suggest.
The excessive length doesn't necessarily come off as a flaw, as the music has a calming effect. So let your stress and worry go, let your blood pressure and resting pulse drop and settle, and set sail for foreign lands and uncharted waters beyond the mist. Rating: 5
Indie Recordings, 09.11.18
With the same line-up as on Dragons of the North XX (2016), where a new guitarist had joined the ranks since Av oss, for oss (2014), one can say that the crew has been fairly stable for a long time. Even since prior to the hiatus that occurred between Blot (2003) and Norrøn (2011).
The band from the west-coast town of Haugesund has 25 years of experience, and should hardly need a broader introduction. The band is back with their first new material since Av oss, for oss, and they've rectified my biggest objection with that album.
As before, the band has their own ability to write songs with independent identity. Songs that each go in different directions, but that together march in step. Despite internal differences, the ship is safely maneuvered to the harbour. Norrøne Spor (meaning Norse Tracks/Traces) is thus one of the albums where a coherent mood is prevailing, while each song will appeal to each individual listener to a varying degrees.
The atmosphere strikes as billows against the bow, with sea spray foaming over the gunwale. On Norrøne Spor, we encounter the unmistakable sense of hardship. Hardship met with fighting spirit. The weathered Vikings don't exactly plough through waves in uncharted waters. As often before, they sail upwind. With zealous courage. And I suspect that Einherjer thrives best in this headwind position. In opposition. With something to fight for (and against), at least you feel alive. Well, they say that adversity builds character, and that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
As said, each song has its ethos, but the overall mood is of stubbornness and fighting spirit despite an everlasting trial by fire. Rather than naming single songs, I confirm that the band has come up with many a good song with nifty melodies. Not enough to spellbind me completely, but enough to grab me with a solid grip in the moment. If I were to name names, the last ordinary song would be quite obvious. Even if there are other potential audience favourites among them. Av djupare røtter (Of deeper roots) is a stunning song of woeful homesickness, while the sun sets on the horizon. A perfect song to end the disc. But it's not over yet...
Deaf Forever ain't listed as a bonus track, but personally I regard it as such. Partly because the song is a cover of a 32 year old Motörhead classic, more specifically the single from Orgasmatron. But also because it breaks with the general mood. No obstruction can stand against the stout and firm pride this song exudes when stalwart musicians raise their heads, flex their muscles and stare death in the eyes with an arrogant grin.
Initially, I mentioned the album's improvement of my biggest complaint from Av oss, for oss. I wasn't pleased with the compressed sound on the album, even if it wasn't enough to spoil my enjoyment of the music. In this aspect, Norrøne Spor shows a huge development. With a dynamic range of DR8-DR9, the waves suddenly feels much more real.
I hope you don't become seasick easily. Rating: 5
A full stream can be found under the videos for Mine Våpen Mine Ord and Spre Vingene.