AGONIA RECORDS, 27.02.15
Last album from Code, Augur Nox was released before I even introduced vx as ranking. It was thus dismissed with a simple
X. I did not spend much time on it, so I decided to make amends by getting a little
bit deeper into this one.
Something that turned out to be a bit frustrating, as the material wasn't particularly exciting. This was intended to
be an Impression, but after seven or eight spins, I feel pretty sure that it has finished growing on me. On
my part, that's considered a scarce amount in preparation for a Review.
Ergo, we go from a hasty Impression of Augur Nox to a “hasty” Review of mut.
Code has always stood out slightly with their progressive offspring of black metal mixed with post-black
and friendly, pop-embossed elements. The musics availability has varied somewhat, but it has never been typical commercial.
With mut, Code takes the step away from progressive black metal all together. Thus, we
are left with radio friendly progressive post-rock.
Two Norwegians (as well as an American and a Frenchman) has been involved in the band, but as of today it is exclusively
Brits that constitutes Code, as far as I can see. The band's second album came out on Norwegian Tabu
Recordings (1992-2012), and was also nominated for “Spellemannsprisen” (Norwegian equivalent to the Grammy Awards).
The lads has now released their fourth album.
The first thing that strikes me when On Blinding Larks opens the 36 minutes long album, is the similarity
with Tool. It's mainly the vocals that give this association, but even the music has some similarities. London-based
Code isn't as psychedelic as the Americans, though. There is no denying that one can come to think of bands
like Pearl Jam occasionally as well, but this offers no viable excuse of comparing Code with grunge.
The band seems to be technically capable and varies pretty good in each song. The sound is good, despite moderate dynamics.
Several of the songs have all right passenger. Especially the beginning of Undertone has some fine, disturbing
emotions, and positive musical similarities with said tool. Also Affliction has rows of notes with
comfortable gloom. Otherwise we find some nice, but oh so gentle guitar works, good bass lines and becomingly percussion.
The vocals are very clean, to put it that way, but technically it's pleasant and controlled. One can find attempts at wrath
in the vocals, but you'll have to search a bit to find this. To give yu a clue; check near the end of Affliction.
There are positive aspects to most of mut for those who spend enough time and energy to turn every stone.
There's still no hiding that indifference comes creeping outward the album. After all these rounds the album is still all
right, but if I want quiet music with melancholic moods I'd rather listen to last year's self-titled Satyricon
album. Code is more progressive and much friendlier, if I should compare at all. The album is very quiet,
and the progressive aspect of the music is not enough to make the music exciting. Neither song structure or melodies is
enough to raise my eyebrows. I'd rather shrug my shoulders.
My very modest experience with post-rock indicate that most of it sounds fairly generic. I have no idea who to compare
Code to in 2015. This is not metal. Although the band is just on the outskirts of metallic landscapes,
they remind more of radio music such as a-ha. I acknowledge the band's skills and the qualities one finds here,
like some good melody lines. The whole never becomes gets better than okay in my ears, though. This time at least there
is no shortage on patience and time spent, such as the on the previous occasion. The album has gotten it's fair chance
without being able to convince me.
“mut is the sound of us as a band freeing ourselves not just from the confines of what Code
is, but from genre conventions of any description. The time for conforming has past and we have created an album
that is the purest distillation of our creative ambition”. So the band says just as I feel that they go from
doing their own thing, where they were actually standing out, to sounding like any anonymous radio band that most people
relate completely indifferent to.
I was aiming to show Code a little goodwill, and let the bands qualitative aspects save them from being
my first review with a grade lower than three. The assembly of positive subjective and objective characteristics that I
find here could justified three points. But then I remembered that I had no real reason to be kind. After all,
I have wasted a lot of time on a rather dull album when I would have preferred to hear Ma IoN a couple more times.
Perhaps even while doing something productive and sensible, like getting drunk. Besides, I have goodies from Devathorn,
Helrunar, Negură Bunget and a whole lot of other ear candy awaiting. Give me my days back!
Let by no means my strong II points prevent you from forming your own opinion. Hear
Dialogue and watch the video for the albums best song,
Greek black metal is, similarly to the Icelandic scene, in to a good and productive period. That various geographical
regions to some extent has its own stamp also provides exciting nuances on the map of the metal landscape. The extreme
metallic world-view may have many Mordor'ian centres, but mutual recognition creates a balance that the map of the
miserable, comfortless reality never can compete against. Strangely enough, this little intro is rather unsuitable in
the case of Acherontas.
Acherontas would namely not like to be associated with anyone. They prefer to cultivate their own universe
with no affiliation. Musically they don't sound Greek through and through either. One can indeed trace similarities with
bands like Devathorn, Kult of Taurus, Rotting Christ, Macabre Omen and Varathron,
but chilled sound and occasionally hateful moods also drags the mind toward Sweden and bands like Ondskapt and
partly Watain. Also acts from elsewhere, such as Nightbringer and Ascension can give an approximate
indication. Still, no similarities are too prominent, and Acherontas adds so much more. Self respecting die
hard black metal fans often puts their honour in disagreeing with everyone and everything anyway, and I'm no expert on the
Hellenic scene, so forget the name-dropping.
If Acherontas were to enter an alliances, they would probably chosen alleys based on their Luciferian
beliefs. They worship the occult, and takes their black magic very seriously. On this album they are host to a number
of guest artists, and many of them come from bands known for similar ideologies. We'll be coming back to this after a
swift round of presentations, and a ceremonial baptisms in ethereal waters.
The band was started by Acherontas V.Priest in 2007 and has been fairly active since that time. The band
is now out with their fifth album. These years have seen quite hefty members replacements, but this album has approximately
the same crew as last album, Amenti - Ψαλμοί
Αίματος και Αστρικά
Οράματα (2013). (Try saying that fast ten times in a row).
The album consists of 11 tracks of widely varying length. Everything from just over 1.5 to upwards of 11 minutes is
represented. No safe indication of where to find the metal, and where one stumbles upon ceremonial rituals is provided
in the individual duration either.
The two guitars from frontman Acherontas V. Priest and Saevus H. conjures up evocative
melodies of dreamy art, and not all dreams are rosy. The mood alternates glidingly between different forms of expression.
Contemplating, haunted, satanically dominant, melancholic...
The sound is darkened and murked by low frequencies of Hierophant, while percussionist Thorns
keeps the rhythm(s). He's got a highly impressive track record and contribute with very diverse rhythms. The
way he sometimes apply blows with marked impact on his bongos, creates an air of thunderous and ritual timpani. The
vocals are not predictable either. It's got a profusion of different vocal expressions.
I never get used to the abrupt conclusion of Nereid Tide of Neptune's Rudra, but otherwise the material
floats very well.
Roughly half the album (give or take) consists of occult and ritual passages. Keyboardist Scorpios Androctonus
has really been given a chance to let loose. How much of it is synth and how much is proper instruments ain't
easy to hear. Atmospheric sound collages with indigenous instrumentation creates shamanistic trance moods. Coptic (Egypt),
or perhaps Persian (Iran) stringed instrument, triangles and bar chimes, flutes, including some reminiscent of India,
shaman drums, chanting choir and throat singing etc. provides a rich, mysterious sound that could have slipped straight
into the Riddu Riđđu festival. Indian/Pakistani string works in Copper Arcana makes
me think of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's live album No Quarter, where some of the songs have
an Arabian/Moroccan style.
On Ma IoN (Formulas Of Reptilian Unification), the band has received guest appearances from a fairly
large number of prominent artists, but I have no idea what each individual has contributed, and where, so I'll just reel
off the list: ar-Ra’d al Iblis (Nightbringer)
Nebiros(ex Ofermod, Malign)
Indra (Naer Mataron, Tatir, Goatvomit)
Edgar Kerval (Emme Ya)
Jhon Longshaw Azrvan Amam Akarana (Black Seas Of Infinity) Ofermod and Abigor is (like Watain and Dissection) among those bands who are rather
well known for their profane theism and obscure doctrine and it is therefore more into this context Acherontas
fits than into a fictive club based on geography.
Not everyone master to keep the listener's attention for 70 minutes. Even an unusual amount of “shamanism” is no burden,
but rather contributes to make Ma IoN... more atmospheric. A very pleasant journey in time, space and
black magic. Watch the
teaser-video if you will, and enjoy a full stream here:
Edit, later that day, I quite forgot to mention the sound, which is very good, and the dynamic range, which is spacious
and nice. Very strong five points, by the way.
AGONIA RECORDS, 27.02.15
A well-known brave Gaul had a tendency to point out that the Romans were crazy. The Romans were perhaps a bit megalomaniac,
but these days it must be allowed to declare that they are fairly crazed the French too.
Both Peste Noire, CNK, Autarcie and the occasional Canadian black metal band is known for
rather eclectic methods in the fight to advocate Lucifer's values. Decline of the I still stands out by implementing madness in their black sphere by original means. One
thing is certain; the Absinthe-fog is still thick in the streets where the decadent aristocracy of snail- and frog-eaters
in the French underground take shelter.
Decline of the I is a kind of solo project of the man who simply calls himself A.K.. He's been involved
in assorted band for almost 20 years and is known from bands like Malhkebre, Merrimack and
Vorkreist. Here, he takes care of both vocals, guitar, piano/synth and programming. Along with him he has brought
drummer N. and two extra vocalists in the form of G. and S.. In
addition, Olivier Déhenne from Eros Necropsique (which A.K. also plays in) a guest
The band's inspiration this time is the French biologist, doctor, writer and philosopher Henri Laborit.
Rebellion is apparently a concept based on his work. This evokes curiosity in me, but without lyrics
or even the most elementary knowledge of the French language, I grope complete darkness.
The French plays on a wide register within black and post-black metal, with shrooms, peyote and nutmegs as spice.
Industrial, synthetic, orchestral and psychedelic elements are merged in controlled schizophrenia. Folk Instruments,
acoustic parts, techno and samples finds their natural place in the brew.
The début Inhibition, which was released about two and a half years ago, was a bit rounder in its
expression. This time, the use of bass is toned down, and the album emerges as sharper. The album was recorded in
Studio de Chine and later mastered by Neb Xort from Anorexia Nervosa. (He's got over 15
years experience as a sound engineer with mixing and mastering etc., and has worked with about 50 bands). The end
result is great sound without the biggest dynamic depth.
Which of the two albums one prefers purely sonically is partly a matter of taste, and partly depending on the extent
of pleasure/pain you are looking for. Both feel as if they are concocted by a rambling mad scientist, but
Rebellion is feels a bit colder.
And there we are touching the essence of the albums feel, almost in a nutshell. Listening to Rebellion
feels like being a paralysed and helpless witness to a professor with “multiple personality disorder”, fighting
him-selves for control over his rapidly changing intentions and ability to actions with possibly catastrophic consequences.
(MPD is actually named dissociative identity disorder now, but the new term ain't quite that self-explanatory).
The distinction between genius and madness can be thin as a layer of graphene (a one atom thin material consisting of
carbon atoms in a hexagonal pattern - Gorger's Metal, your source to irrelevant information). Here, the distribution is
correct; The music is constructed of varied and psychedelic madness, the man behind it is rather genial. I probably don't
need to tell you that The Decline of the I possess a rather unique originality.
TEMPLE OF TORTUROUS, 24.02.15 Beyond the Sun would have been a more appropriate name for this Russian band, for this
album drags the listener right out in space. The five man band comes from the industrial town
Красноярск in Siberia, but musically they are located
somewhere on the borderline between atmospheric death/doom, funeral, post black metal and the star constellation Ophiuchus...
The testify to intergalactic inspirations. Envoy, meaning delegate, emissary, messenger
etc. has got Voyager-1 as its concept. The music acts as a personification of the probe that was launched in September
1977 to explore the outer part of the solar system, thereafter going as far beyond as possible. It is now the man-made
object located farthest away from planet Tellus.
Without lyrics available, there's no guessing how important these are to the concept, but the album's minimal vocals
come in small, growling doses, and the musical structure has an atmosphere forming “aural paintings”* that
illustrates the concept on their own. *(The Norwegian word Tonemaleri, along with the German Tonmalerei, can be translated
to “tone paintings”, and imply music that illustrates actions, sounds and events solely by instrumental usage).
Outward the Sky is the first of six tracks, totalling almost 60 minutes. The American space probe
picks up some Russian communication, distorted by interference. These buzzing and blurred voices in the background
are reminiscent of one of the songs from My Dying Bride's dismal 34.788%... Complete.
The music is extremely melodic, without generating anything near the typical verse-chorus melodies. The guitars are
constantly in front of the mix, doing their antics. The music is also very dreamy, evocative, a bit sluggish and
hypnotizing. The band is reportedly particularly inspired by sludge, without me noticing this when I listen to the album.
From the centre of our solar system, there are about 4.24 light years (i.e. a little over 40 trillion km) to the nearest
star, Proxima Centauri. Space is characterized by gigantic distances, and consist mostly of empty space without either
air nor light. Whether it is intentional or not, the band conveys this interplanetary space with panache. The music
really gives a sense of being lost and isolated in completely deserted surroundings.
At the centre ot the albums longest track, Drift in Deep Space, we hear a small sequence including
flute, some didgeridoo and deep vocals, dragging my thoughts toward Negura Bunget and Kroda. This glide
into faster music with various dramatic mods that last throughout the song. I don't know if this is to symbolize events
on the journey of Voyager 1, such as technical problems, perhaps engine failure or failures of communication or external
hazards, such as comets, asteroids and other celestial bodies. But it certainly feels that way. In subsequent
Breath of Univers the thrilling dramatic tension is definitely over. It is very quiet and atmospheric. The only
vocal on this song is a hushed rale from the very depths of the throat towards the end of the song.
The album was mastered by Mell Dettmer (Studio Soli, Seattle), who considers Sunn o))),
Fyrnask and Earth as his personal customers. The sound is pleasant, with deep, hypnotic tones and clear,
distinct guitars that dance like dragonflies over a lily pond. The dynamics ain't very deep, but that's a bigger problem
for intense music. The dreamy tones we are served here remains fairly untouched by that.
If you think you'd like an hour in interstellar space, you are hereby invited.
Real space tourism goes only to a height of just over 100 km in suborbital orbit and costs the neat sum of $250,000 as
well. A week's stay at the International Space Station comes to the nifty sum of 52 million U$D and also requires nine
months of cosmonaut training.
I definitively recommend this form of space tourism!
Take a look at the video for
Cries of a Dying Star.
SEASON OF MIST, 23.02.15
Two innocent and traumatized children, whose mother is an irreparable junkie and father is a terribly violent tyrant,
manages to escape from home after finding their addict mother with sliced arteries in the bathtub. They flee, merciful
concealed by the very forest they escape through, but when they finally feel safe, hell awaits.
The nightmare will never end...
When Carach Angren is out with their fourth album is it accompanied by the most unpleasant story the
three Dutchmen has ever hatched.
The band quickly made a name for themselves with albums consisting of ghost stories effectively told as conceptual
stories, dramatically sounded by sombre extreme-symphonic metal. The latter formulation is deliberate. Where some
symphonic extreme metal band uses orchestral instruments as flavour, and others bake the symphonic elements in as a
parallel component, Carach Angren allows the symphony to dominate completely. Although the orchestra
is virtual, the sampling is so good that an untrained ear won't notice the difference.
Seregors clearly articulated black vocals with scattered growls, constitute a narration that can be
deciphered even without lyrics available. His guitar on the other hand often forms a backdrop in this symphony.
Namtar is in charge of the militantly driving and unsympathetic drums that whips the eerie story towards
increasingly heinous and tragic conditions for the two respectively 9 and 12 year old children. Ardek
is pianist, keyboardist and conductor responsible for the orchestra, and it must have been a tremendous job behind the
construction of this element. He is also responsible for backing vocals.
I don't know how the trio composes their music, but once again the band has written clever melodies where dramatic
transitions are more a rule than an exception. The previous album, Where The Corpses Sink Forever
from 2012 didn't hit my bulls eye like Lammendam (2008) and Death Came Through A Phantom
Ship (2010) in my ears. This Is No Fairy Tale is again a strong album and it fortunately
surpasses its predecessor. That the album in my ears feels strongest in the first half my perhaps be due to all the
cancelled listening sessions that have led to this half having received somewhat more playing time. Optionally, it
might be a combination of the duration of three quarters, which normally should be a decent amount, and the lack of
dynamics in the sound. Weak dynamic range increases the intensity. There's much going on in the music, and as I'm
attempting at capturing both essence and lyrics, this intensity may eventually become a bit exhausting.
Except from that, the sound is very good. The album was recorded in Tidal Wave Studio (Germany), mixed
in Abyss Studio (Sweden), and mastered in Black Lounge Studios (also Sweden). I can't say who is
responsible, but the album is unfortunately very compressed. Sadly. The dynamics of Lammendam (DR9,
with most songs on DR6) was al right, while it was very good on Death Came... (DR12).
...Corpses... (DR8) were middling, but lay closer to the début. This Is No Fairy Tale has
a dynamic range of lousy DR5!
The efforts Carach Angren put into the musical aspect is however un-criticizable. The trio again
delivers rather eminent symphonic compositions, albeit not quite on par with the two first albums. The music is still
very good. The concept is, as usual, well executed. The story is admittedly not extremely inventive, but it
should be macabre enough to satisfy the most bloodthirsty. Less frantic souls might however need a warning against
strong content. I won't say any more about the story, as I don't want to reveal the details. You can read it in the
Where the two first albums would have gotten 6 points by your truly, this reaches a score of 5 points. The low dynamics
regretfully makes the 5 hang by a thread, just as the life of the two children.
What will happen onwards with the two sorry and now orphaned children, you can find out by buying this album.
But by all means, expect no fairy tale!
INDIE RECORDINGS, 16.02.15 Obsidian Claw started one of Trondheim's first black metal bands (next to Manes, Stigma
Diabolicum and Bloodthorn) under the name Ildskjaer in 1993. After a name change, a demo and
two albums under the black seal, the band was put on ice, just as the new millennium knocked on the door, ready to
overthrow the reigning era.
The time had come for new musical waters. Obsidian C returned with a new crew in the form of
Frost and Attila on an EP that marked a new direction in the band's musical journey. The subsequent two
albums, Armada & Kolossus saw the band go in a more technical and grand direction,
while the next (and now previous) disc, Reptilian went in an even more epic and melodic direction.
With Epistemology the band takes another step away from its black background, although small appendages
of char-coal and tar refuses to let go completely. As we write 2015, the band leads a mixture of mild extreme metal on
one side and melodic epic progressiveness with vibes of power metal on the other side.
Since Armada the crew has remained stable, but for reasons that the participants have different versions
of, the vocalist Thebon is out of the band. He has now found a new abode in Hellish Outcast.
And so, Obsidian C has taken the stand behind the microphone. If anyone should have been concerned
with the this I can cancel the turmoil. He's doing a great job.
The biggest surprise is the amount of clean vocals. Before The Grand Design, the third song, there's
actually just a few sequences with extreme vocals.
After a brief symphonic intro The Spiritual Relief leads the way with rapid drums, bright guitars,
small orchestral snippets, and generally rather friendly but mighty expression. Besides a some talking monologue we
receive melodious vocal harmonies, bordering on ICS Vortex. Through nearly ten minutes the track undergoes a
variety of landscapes. In subsequent Dark Divinity one can even trace similarities with Ayreon.
With a few exceptions, the tunes all lasts well over seven minutes. Obsidian C, which have (as allways)
been responsible of composing, also takes care of the aforementioned vocal and guitar. He has a unique characteristic
playing techniques in his riffing, and adds loads of delicate guitar work to the album. Wizziac is as
usual chief of bass bombardment and contributes with backing vocals, while Vyl, as always, do an
exemplary job behind the battery. The drummes pace and strokes is derives from the black genre, and provides an otherwise
harmless musical landscape a little needful punch.
The album concludes with reasonably powerful Epistemology, which during over 9.5 minutes going through
several parts. After a dashing Dire Straits-like guitar part around the 3 minute mark, I expect a solo outbursts
of dimensions, but the song first returns to the more riffs which again builds up to a crescendo just before the 5 minute
mark. The song concludes with a catchy melody loop that bulge in its chorus before it finally fades out. One can admittedly
find two bonus tracks if you go for the digipak version. The first of these has guest vocals of aforementioned Attila
Csihar, but unfortunately I have not heard any of them.
The album consists of many beautiful melodies and harmonies from both instruments and throats. It has a profusion of good
transitions and lots of variety, superb drumming from an exceptional drummer, and generally many fiery guitar licks. To
nitpick a bit: The sound could have been a bit darker. It is in fact far to bright, something that took a lot of time to
fully accept. The dynamics ain't particularly much to brag about, as usual. The directing of the song material could also
have been tightened somewhat. The album lasts over 52 minutes, which again could have been slightly shortened.
That's still not much to punish them for. The production in general is nice once you get used to it and the album grows
slowly stronger. I land on a rather weak five points.
If you're looking for raw, negatively charged extreme metal, you can safely ignore this. If however you're searching for
melodic, neat, breathtaking and fairly intricate metal with decent punch, Epistemology might just hit the spot.
The album can be streamed at
Metal Hammer and
Wimp, if you use it. See the video for
Introspection as well.
PS: In hindsight I feel I was a bit to friendly with the grade as there are many sequences that feels more like they are
“almost there”. But hey, strong 4 or weak 5, its still a good melodic metal album.
MORTIS HUMANAE PRODUCTIONS, 23.01.15
Finnish Uhriristi is one of the few bands outside of France that release albums through Mortis
Humanae. But they do fit the label's subsurface underground black metal profile. Apart from the fact that
really conservative old-school tnbm fans will probably snort both loud and clear sneeze at it in protest.
Uhristi spreads its eerie in a way reminiscent of some demos from the late 90's. The sound is thin as
the plot in a romantic comedy, and in the background we find a synth that will make many a old school black metal head
blow a fuse. Yes, actually is not just like a back wall, but we will return to that. The vocals are horse screaming and
desperate, and the singer is in danger of getting a painful crick in the uvula. Slightly in young Greifi Grishnackhs
spirit, but not nearly as perfected. The melody lines are low-down and gives associations of melancholicly loaded black
metal before the term dsbm was implemented (as early Ancient Wisdom, just as an example). Dismal depressed parts,
some with piano or acoustic guitar, and faster parts that never reaches full gallop, comes sliding as raindrops on a wire.
The band writes descent songs and comes up with sombre moods. There are undoubtedly far more boring black metal.
The performance, however, ain't much to boast about. The guitar sound is puny, but the sound of the synthesizer ain't. It
sounds in excess synthetic, where the sound doesn't even attempt to emulate anything but synthesizer, and it also sounds
inexorably identical the whole way throughout. That the vocals varies little as well, bothers me less. Nor the percussion
is amongst the most advanced and innovative sort. You'd think the sound would be meatier with six man in an orchestra, but
this undoubtedly gives one man band vibes.
The irony is that the dynamics of the sound is very good, providing both vocals and drums a more organic and natural feel,
as spaciousness in the sound provides a more natural sound. However, it doesn't help much when the actual production is
thin. The drums could also with advantage have been tuned a bit louder in the mix.
If the goal is to sound authentically nineties, the gang succeeds, and I must admit to having developed feelings for
Haudankylmä. I still can't stretch further than to a strong three points. Cut down on the synth usage,
or use it more constructively, and go in a proper studio next time. Than the result may quickly grow to new heights. Keep
the good dynamics and continue the already good song-writing. Uhriristi is a promising young band, that
with their sophomore album shows strong potential.
Haudankylmä is, to summarize, black metal with a tendency to sound very synthetic. The men's strong card is the art of
writing good songs, and it sounds pretty killer when guitar really steps into action. I've gotten a taste for the album
after countless spins, but I still can't recommend this unreservedly. If this should nevertheless tempt an old “black
hearted angel, fallen from grace”, it is released in 666 copies.
APOCALYPTIC EMPIRE RECORDS, 09.02.15
These débutantes are anonymous souls. The band don't have a homepage or any profiles in the social media, and they don't
play live. The press letter make a point out of that the music maybe for once might speak for itself, rather than being
judged by its members and their merits. What are they insinuating? That media can actually be biased? What a libellous
accusation. One can easily be tempted to respond:
“Let's see if a press release for once can contain anywhere remotely close to factual observations, enlightening information,
intellectual reflections and actual promotional selling points.”
But I'm not going to say that. It could easily be seen as a personal attack on this Norwegian underground label. ;)
(My impudent tongue-in-cheek statements should be interpreted with a pinch of sodium chloride, by the way)
Dødsverk is a Norwegian black metal band with a whiff of disorderly punkish frenzy that might not be
embraced by every fan of the genre. The music doesn't hold particularly much of the evocative atmosphere Norwegian black
metal became known for, even though these Norwegians have a hostile expression of their own. In that way they almost
remind more of Swedish - straight for the throat - 90's black metal as Dødsverk has a touch of old
Dark Funeral/Marduk about them. There is however a bit too much mid-tempo here to make them fit
perfectly in amongst the most speed blind Swedish portfolio. It might sound more like an insane side project from
Vrangsinn, committed at any time during the past ten years.
Dødsverk also has some elements that brakes part with the genre's typical appearance, without me being
quite able to put my finger on it. Slightly too much bass? Some lack of ice and coldness? Not quite enough uniqueness
in the song material? Not that the songs are as anonymous as the band, but they don't really have abundant character.
The vocals, by the way, sounds like a deranged dubbing of the Cookie Monster, performed after consumption of unimaginable
amounts of fly agaric. The sound is pretty thin, without meeting the “criteria” for kvlt-necro, and thus comes across as
a bit wispy.
There's many albums one might enjoy somewhat, or have a highly indifferent attitude towards, and then there are
albums that that majority will either embrace or turn their back to. Dødsverk has some typical love-or-hate
qualities, but also properties that do not necessarily place the listener in the extremes. The band doesn't give me
very much this time. Said sound helps making the music avoid feeling professional, no matter who is behind it, but based
on the musical expression, I suspect that it's precisely this rough, unpolished style the band had visions of creating.
After the initial rounds it sounded a bit amateurish, but after some getting used to it sprouts and grows in unconsecrated
soil. Eventually I partially appreciate their vicious clamour, although it's not completely my thing. If you like
your black metal more hyperactive and rowdy than I do, you can add at least one point to an already strong thee points.
This was released on LP in 500 copies in May last year and is now released on CD and in digital formats.
Below you can hear the opening track Den siste... (The last...) which probably is most representative of
the barely half an hour long album, and closing Motstå frelse (Resist salvation), one tenacious motherfucker
that at least I like very well. Love it or leave it. The referee obtain neutrality, and the decision is now in the jury's
hands, and you are called for jury duty.
NAPALM RECORDS, 02.02.2015
German Thulcandra should eventually be known by most metal followers. The band is named after one of
Darkthrone's demos, but is more like a follower of Dissection's melodic black death to reckon.
(For trivia fanatics: The name originates from CS Lewis's novel Out of the Silent Planet).
The band started in 2003, released a demo in 2005 and died out in silence. (I don't know the circumstances, but guitarist
Jürgen Zintz took his own life that year). Luckily however, 2008 gave the band a new lease on life...
Original guitarist/vocalist Steffen Kummerer (Obscura et al.) were joined by Tobias
Ludwig (bass) and Sebastian Ludwig (guitar) (both from Nebelmythen, Wraithcult
& Helfahrt), and Seraph (drummer - Dark Fortress, Noneuclid etc.).
Together they released Fallen Angel's Dominion (2010) and Under A Frozen Sun (2011).
Evidence indicates that Seraph is replaced by Erebor (Secrets of the Moon,
ex-Nargaroth) on percussion, but sources are diffuse. The drum style doesn't seem to be changed much anyway.
Thulcandra has generally settled fairly closely to their previous release with first song The
First Rebellion. Neither sound nor song-wise expression is significantly altered. One is naturally served new
melodies, but within the same framework. There might be a risk related to repeating oneself in a competitive market,
and especially so for artists in a rather early stage of their career, but within melodic genres it's usually easier
to get away with intact honour. (In this here translation I will go back on that original statement. In fact, when I
come to think about it, there's a shitload of non-melodic extreme metal acts that gets away with sounding like
identical twins as well)
Black vocals with rather anguished expression fronts good melodies with delicate guitar works and varied rhythms. All
melody lines ain't equally strong and not as memorable in the long run, but it's not plain sailing to score a home run
every time within the genres constraints. Soaring, light weight atmospheric moods waver between melancholy and straws
of hope, in manic-depressive manners. Beautiful. Wistfully. From low-key acoustic passages to quick and hard throttle,
the Germans do the job with panache.
With good melodies and skilled manpower, Thulcandra helm themselves smoothly ashore. With that said;
I have given this quite a few spins without it giving me very much. Ascension Lost is good
right there and then. Very comfortable and nice indeed. Unfortunately it also appears as quite frictionless. I would
definitely not call it straight out predictable, but it's still a bit slippery as it slides through my ears.
I wouldn't mind if the band experimented a bit more on their next release either. Huge fans of melodic extreme metal
can probably invest blindly. Those requiring more distinctions might want to display some healthy scepticism.
Hear a short
taster of all ten tracks, and the song
Exalted Resistance first. Than, at least you get a basic idea.
DEATH SHRINE OFFERINGS, 04.02.15
Finnish 0 X í S T [pronounced Zero Exist] started in 2008 and released an EP and a demo two years later.
These were followed by the exceptionally good début Nil in 2012. It combined dark mid-tempo death/doom
with dark metal, spiced with characteristic, a bit proggy melodies and transitions. When the band now is done making their
follow-up, these components is somewhat toned down, and we are left with clean cut death/doom.
The musical change is admittedly spartan, and to the extent that this adjustment has been at the expense of individuality,
the Finns compensates by focusing on quality. Pure quality.
Here they still bring along songs painstakingly constructed with various passages that via transitions flows and changes
shape as natural as cumulus clouds in the troposphere.
The quartet bestows us syrupy mid-tempo death/doom with lead weights (heavy as integral calculus) around the neck, filled
almost to the brim with moods. The band's most effective weapon in the battle for the throne is captivating melodies. Of
an extremely gloomy art. The vocals chant as a Sith Lord with black throat and sometimes traverse into deeper death rattling
variant. The deep melancholic rumblings of the bass reinforces the inherent uneasy anxiety while the drums are like big
dinosaurs; syrup-slow, but hard-hitting and diverse.
The band has mostly tuned the sound themselves. It allows all instruments to be clearly audible in a slightly claustrophobic
sound that hums and roars of delightful low frequencies. The sound has solid weight and spreads obscure misery as an arsenic
vapour mist. The three longest songs, and especially the first and last track, conveys bottomless grief with durable hypnotic tones.
During a bit over three quarters, the band serves six tracks with variable length, where the average is a respectable 7:40.
If I were to compare with just one other band, I would say that Kuolemanlaakso is an apt reference.
Only a few songs with somewhat less effective matter separates 0 X í S T from climbing to the highest ranking.
A wonderfully pleasing album of gorgeous, mesmerizing and sorrowful melodies and well-structured variety.
Full stream below, but you can also hear the
NAPALM RECORDS, 02.02.2015 Behemoth's musical half brother Hate is again looking to flex their muscles. Both bands' death
metal has over the years gradually and in parallel become more mighty in expression. Both bands started under other names,
and has had its current name since 1991. When Hate now releases their ninth album, they are just one
record behind Behemoth. That both are Polish trios in the same genre and with equally long experience of
course makes a comparison natural. In this respect, many will still call Hate the musical little brother.
Previous album, Solarflesh: A Gospel of Radiant Divinity was bursting with thorough songs that hit so well
that I decided to give it a six out of six score. This was before Gorger's Metals' narrow birth, thus I only wrote a brief
retrospective summary: Poles sure know how to do extremity. This sounds like a bastard child of Behemoth and SepticFlesh.
Quite ingenious. It should have received a full review. I award it the highest grade, as this hits my bulls eye and suits
Two years have passed, and expectations were of course huge.
The trio's only remaining original member is appropriately named Adam the First Sinner. He has faithfully
followed this band, where he (primarily) has taken care of vocals and guitar. The other two original sinners, Quack
and Mittloff fell off the wagon in respectively 1994 and 2002. Many have come and gone in the meantime. The latest
culprits are guitarist Destroyer (Kriegsmaschine), which has endured since 2006, and newcomer
Pavulon on drums. The latter has a formidable CV, where Vader amongst others are on the list.
This year's release last for more than 50 minutes (disregard a five-minute bonus track). A few minutes longer than the
last record (if one excludes the three bonus tracks of the digipak, pushing the duration past an hour). As if to emphasize
their majestic touch, it opens with a double intro. One for their orchestral inspirations, and one for the band's inherent
metallic nature. Both instrumentals slightly over 1.5 minutes. Vox Dei (A Call from Beyond) is the
symphonic alibi, where violin-strings and brass gives a prior warning of mighty substances. Lord, Make Me an
Instrument of Thy Wrath! take over the baton and incorporates massive percussive rhythms and juicy guitars.
First song Death Liberator really paves the way with solid metal infused asphalt. It contains all the
prerequisites for another magnum opus from Polish hold, and meet all expectations to the full. Subsequent Leviathan
is good, but doesn't have quite the same hooks. Outwards on the album, it feels like the air is gradually going
out of the balloon. After having heard the album X number of times I was unsure exactly where it “went wrong”. After XX
spins, I find it futile to search for a specific point to put my finger on. The album doesn't get progressively
worse. The material just doesn't have the strength to bear the weight of nearly an hour under the moniker Hate.
There's a lot of killer death metal on the album. Quite a lot better than what many other manages to create, but many
of the songs lack the individuality, variety, ingenuity, and memorability required to deliver an unforgettable
masterpiece, Hate worthy. Thus the disappointment is a fact.
Nevertheless is none of the songs directly bad. All have solid sections (although they unfortunately often goes quickly
out the other ear). Especially the albums middle section, with Hate Is The Law and Valley of
Darkness should be highlighted as examples of good song-writing. The end of the album ain't bad either.
Rise Omega the Consequence! doesn't have the strongest structure, but it certainly has its moments,
and Dawn of War appears to be at least as strong, although even this has some trekk-på-skuldra-partier portions.
The men have been in well-known Hertz Studios, who has also been visited by Behemoth (and
Vader, Decapitated and more). Crusade:Zero is blessed with a mighty, meaty and musical
adequate sound. The vocals are fairly far forward in the sound, but I soon got used to that. As usual, the dynamics are
so compressed that the finished product becomes unnecessary “intense, artificial and overbearing” to put it exaggeratedly
It is obvious that a killer album of powerful death metal should hit you in the face (like a shovel) with a wall of
sound, but when a fart has the same volume as a jet engine it just sound inorganic. I can't really understand why so
few strive for a more authentic and natural sonic expression. A more dynamic sound pleases the ears, and provide the
hardest elements more boost. All in all, that is one of many factors that creates hooks in music and enthusiasm amongst
listeners. Not to forget that low dynamic range leads to clipping, where the mighty peaks is filed down and evaporate.
Crusade:Zero is cool to listen to there and then, but the content goes dangerously fast into oblivion.
I must have heard the album, almost 20 times the past few weeks, and thus something should have stuck, even to my teflon
brain. An hour (almost) of good music that lacks that little extra can also be tiring when the sound is excessively intense.
Compared to all that mediocrity breeding, and ... out of in the underground at all times, Crusade:Zero
is of course a concrete colossus among rubble. I am a bit disappointment, but of course I see that there is a lot of
quality here. It still lacks a bit songwise. Solid four points!
NAPALM RECORDS, 02.02.2015
These Germans debuted with a 26-minute EP in 2006. It consisted of three good songs and was therefore a very promising
career start. So I had to check out the following recordings. Unfortunately, none them really came higher up than
middle of the road. Admittedly Rastlos (2012) was a step in the right direction, but it still wasn't
quite there. The pagan/folk genre has plenty of unknown and mediocre bands, and yet another a band in an
overcrowded genre didn't do much to tempt me. After three albums, I had practically given up on the band, but a preview
for Mach Dich Frei was a harbinger of new land in sight.
Only a few has what it takes to soar high above all others. Was Finsterforst one of them?
My scepticism toward Finsterforst blew quickly away. The band has grown colossally in song-writing, and
the sonic aspect is probably better than ever. Already in the soaring Asian-inspired intro one can feel that something
powerful is brewing. The first song lasts for fifteen minutes. Symphonic sounds with choir opens the ballet before Perkele's
accordion subtly sneaks in. Even majestic trombones in good Sear Bliss spirit gains a natural foothold. The vocals
are German and crass, in black metallic sense, except for the mail choirs, that is. The song floats in quiet mid-tempo with
beautiful melody, diligent variety and a grand, epic feel.
The next track also begins calmly but with enough thrust to befit even angrier souls. The band eventually really shows their
teeth. As majestic tones with superb guitar playing, more backing vocals and additional brass develop into fierce aggression,
the poignant vocals is indeed put to good use.
Not every song is equally succulent. After an interlude comes the title track, roughly at the middle of the album. It is
simpler and less energetic than the beginning and end of this piece of work. Also subsequent Mann gegen Mensch
starts off a little flat. For a while I feared that the band had burned by the majority of its gunpowder in the
first two songs. It picks up again however, when the latter brings fairly gloomy melodies and moods with grim tuba-sounding
brass followed by alluring guitars and a little flute. The song ends as the next begins, with soundscapes à la whale song,
like a trip to the nature of the coast of northern Norway. Reise zum... (Travel to...), as it's so aptly
called, is an instrumental with ravishing flute, crickets in the bushes, accordion by the fireplace, the goshawk howls as
it circles the sky, targeting its prey, the croaks of amphibians in the lakeside and thunder as of the wild escape of a
bison herd.(Attention! Any information regarding zoology, this including mammalogy,
ornithology, herpetology, and entomology, may be purely fictional. Also, I reserve the right to make things up as I go along).
I'm not intending on a track-by-track review, and I don't have the intention of write a quite as long review as the one
underneath. Thus, I stop here, even if only one song remains. 24 minutes long Finsterforst is a self-titled
opus that should be experienced, not explained.
Mach Dich Frei mixes components from Thyrfing, Bathory, Falkenbach,
Korpiklaani, Fjoergyn, Sear Bliss und so weiter in a cauldron and serves the magic potion in the
form of magnificent, powerful and majestic folk metal with symphonic elements and touches of Viking and pagan. Simply
fill the mead horn and hoist sails under the stately northern lights.
Except from a a slightly weaker middle portion, I find no substantive criticism. (“The record doesn't contain a shred
of harmonica. That's just shockingly absurd. I am very dismayed now.”). The mix has compressed the dynamics, but
fortunately the production is good in all other areas, and thus it becomes no annoyance.
Otherwise, it would have been exciting if the band explored the Asian spirit of the intro some time. The most extreme
black/death-mongers out there will probably regard this as pompous. That's their loss. Finsterforst has matured tremendously and emerges anew as a new and grandiose bastion within folk metal
title track is as mentioned among the weakest, and yet it is still good. Watch the video or stream it below.
You can also hear a
preview of the album on Youtube.
SPINEFARM RECORDS U.K., 26.01.15 Welcome to Hell
As soon as the year after the major British breakthrough (or outbreak) of Metal, whilest Black Sabbath
sang Mob Rules, Iron Maiden released Killers, Judas Priest disappointed many with
their Point of Entry, Motörhead promised No Sleep 'til Hammersmith, Ozzy Osbourne
wrote his Diary of a Madman and Twisted Sister gave us Ruff Cuts, Venom
wished... Welcome to Hell!
In most cases, you'd wish you were younger (although one never becomes an “adult”), but in a metal context it could actually
have been desirable to be born earlier, so that one would have witnessed the emergence of the burgeoning metal scene. And
not least; the musical and visual shock when Venom debuted with their blasphemous monument Welcome
To Hell in 1981, while the rest of the contemporary metal scene mostly dabbled with NWOBHM.
It wasn't quite the same to discover the band in the early nineties. The never-ending race of extreme-metal had by then
fostered palpable sub-genres of death metal, thrash and not least the nascent Norwegian black metal movement. With a
little imagination, most people in the same situation should still be able to recognize how revolutionary their primitive
and hostile sound and image must have appeared in the era that some of us missed out on.
The sophomore album from the classic trio Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon
forever stands as a classic pole in the heart of christ. Not only is the album's title credited for having given the
blasphemous genre its name, but the band's music, an already dirty, speedy, punkish, fuckk-all-attitude variant of NWOBHM
became if possible even dirtier and blacker in the edges. This was in 1982, the year before Hellhammer released
their first demo (and later reincarnated as Celtic Frost in 1984) and over a year before Quorthon's Bathory
saw the full moon light.
Although everyone now knows that the bands satanic shock value was of superficial art exclusively, Venom
has retained its honour as they have become the most influential inspiration for what was to come in the different lines of
At War with Satan (1984) never received quite the same cult status as its two predecessors, and after
this it went quite abruptly downhill for the infamous originators.
Now, more than 30 years later, the Brits has disintegrated and reappeared several times. The band has seen a long line
of line-up changes. The musical direction has probably changed course more times than I'm aware of. The inescapable question
thus becomes: Should a 2015 release of Venom be reviewed in light of the classic Venom, or
should one let history be history and concentrate on assessing From the Very Depths individually?
The past and the presence
The question is in some ways just as unnecessary as it is inevitable. Today's edition of the band, with the line-up of
Cronos, guitarist Rage (Ex-Order of the Black Sun) and drummer Danté
(Tony Martin), can not be compared to the golden era. A comparison becomes almost like a list of
deviations, only to contemplate the impact of the test of time. A little bit of flashback may however be relevant just to
point out that today's version appears as a new band, and to convey the band's development for all those who has probably
have fallen of the Venom express in the meantime.
From the Very Depths isn't much reminiscent of a bygone era. Venom was once known as
the three-grip band which in interviews expressed amazement that anyone would at all care to listen to their uproars.
The disappointment is of course vast as I count far more guitar grips as of today. The sound is more than updated. The
thin, eerie sound with the diabolical atmosphere is replaced with a modern sound and a rich production. Needless to say,
the innovative satanic touch is as long gone as the three riffs of yore. The only phonetic hint to the eighties is that
the dynamic range ain't compressed to death as it so often is today. Even the tradition of a small dozen songs and about
40 minutes of playing time on a typical Venom release, has had to give way in the new millennium. This has 14 tracks
(including one intro and one interlude) and lasts for more than 50 minutes.
From the Very Depths
One standard practice is at least constant preserved since time immemorial. Chronos is as always steady
on the bass behind the microphone stand, and his reckless attitude does not seem to have given way an inch. (To the
nitpickers out there, yes, he he handled the guitar in 1979). There is no denying that the man's metal throat has gotten
a hint of rust over the decades. Some slight hoarseness gives the vocals a fitting hint of Lemmy-intonation.
I can't really say anything about the musical changes the band has gone through since the last reincarnation, but everyone
knows that Venom has long since abandoned its proto-black metal roots. Only crumbs of old grandeur can
be traced today.
After an intro the title track opens strongly with that combines pieces of the past with upgraded sound and thrash'ed
expression. Complete with guitar solo and the adversaries name mentioned repeatedly in the text. Subsequent The
Death of Rock N Roll offers hints of Whiplash (Metallica) and Alter of Sacrifice
(Slayer), with rapid Motörhead rhythms, without being quite able to stand as a particularly strong
composition for that reason. A bit darker moods, à la the verses in A Touch Of Evil (Judas Priest),
appears in the mid-tempo oriented Smoke, while a song like Long Haired Punks is like
Motörhead at its rawest.
Further on, the album offers song material with a somewhat diverging (but not quite schizophrenic) expression. Elements
of old heavy/thrash as in said references gets mixed up with fragments of modern groove metal in the style of (and I'm
on thin ice here) As I Lay Dying, Lamb of God, Machine Head and/or In Flames.
Despite usable variation in both rhythm and a style, eventually a feeling of indifference sneaks upon me. Throughout the
album, the material progressively feels more anonymous. The songs lack the strong identity that albums without particularly
strong moods or hypnotic properties need to keep the listener's attention. The songs structuring suffering somewhat of
sordid composing, and thus it becomes devoid of those much desired hooks.
2015 (prolog) Venoms relevance in 2015 can be discussed. The link to the past is erased, and they appear as a new band
that stands on its own. A new band with a modern focus on groove rather than overall coherency, yet with inspirations from
the rougher styles of metal from the early 80s. That the «new» band in brief moments sometimes resembles old classics a
bit too much (the end of Evil Law sounds like South of Heaven and Wings of Walkyrie
around 2:50 practically mirrors Call of Cthulu, among others) can be forgiven.
I looked forward to hearing how the band sounded in 2015 (or rather in 2014, when the album was recorded), and had no
expectations. In that sense Venom doesn't disappoint. I've heard From the Very Depths
countless times, and hasn't been hurt by it, but not much has been able to stick to mind either.
It is a tolerable good record with rough and tough music whilst listening. The instrumentation is approved, the band rocks
good and the guitars manages to squeezed out some short and al-right, yet not particularly memorable solos. Individually,
the songs are quite cool, but leaves a rather indifferent mark in the long run. There is also a real danger that grumpy
metal-conservative veterans will regard the album as overly modern. The album is in my ears highly listenable. However,
there is not much that sticks with me when the album is finished. When 2015 approaches its dusk and the annual sum ups
begins, this is likely to be completely forgotten, and left out of many a list.
Musically From the Very Depths deserves a meagre four points, but since Cronos became 53
years old on January 15th he shall receive a few percentage points as a birthday present and veteran's pension. Thus we
end up with a square 4 points, and four of six points comprise a neat 66.6%, which in turn provides a symbolic 666 ‰.
A decent, time-typical and semi-retro blackened NWOBHM/speed-metal release, that is overshadowed by early exploits. Sample
Long Haired Punks and
Originally written for the Norwegian music webzine HISS!G. Thanks for the promo and the confidence.
SHIVER RECORDS, 16.01.14
Behind a cover made by Seth Siro Anton (Septicflesh) the fourth album of the Belgian black/death metal
merchant Insanity Reigns Supreme lays hidden. I have previously heard two of three full-length albums
the band, in addition to a few other releases, has behind them. Those two respectively (and tentatively) had a dark/doom
metallic and rather epic expression in a kind of narrow Hate/SepticFlesh/Moonspell-essenced landscape. Both have
been characterized by somewhat ramshackle production.
Unorthodox have more similarities with Occultus Insanus Damnatus (2009) than with
Prophecy of Doom (2003), for those who are familiar with the band. I don't have the great knowledge with the Belgians
my selves. They actually have a bit more than 25 years behind them, but they've probably always been placed a bit more in the
background compared to equally long lived groups. As far as I can judge, Unorthodox sounds better than its
predecessors (which I have not listened carefully to for a long time). The style is black/death with a somewhat epic feel.
Thick sounding, groovy and heavy guitars, powerful melodies, deep humming bass and harsh rasping growls is incorporated.
Elements of both Behemoth as well as Immortal can be traced without the band reaching quite up to the podium.
In the middle of the album, a rather bestial version of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata provides an audial
break before blaring forth. Another pause is administered after a few more songs, then in terms of fair two-part harmonic
female vocals in a costume of epic cathedral aesthetics. The material works much better than expected, though some of the songs
lag a bit behind the others. Even now and then in better songs, less fortunate ideas can be found. Something that weakens the
overall impression somewhat, such as even the sumptuous villa can have its appearance diminished by a poor floor plan.
Another unfortunate circumstance is, almost as usual, the sound. The bass is deep and fine, the guitar distortion is rich
and cavernous, and said interludes has crystal clear sound with apt resonance, but although the instrumental sounds fine,
the album has a bit too sharp production, something that creates a kind of rough and jarring effect in the sound. This
damages the impression somewhat, like a pretty motive may suffer from the photographies grainy quality. Let me not exaggerate,
however. The sonically “harshness” is not so annoying that it destroys the impression completely. The sound is actually
better here than on both mentioned predecessors. The album is recorded in German Stage One Studios with Andy
Classen, known for his work with Belphegor, Legion of the Damned and Destruction amongst
others, behind the controls. Who is to blame for said “sandpaper effect” I don't intend to speculate about.
Despite some reduction for this sonic blemish, and a slight decrease for a few weaker tracks and parts, the album has many
fine moments and majestic passages, and is all in all good. Yes, probably the band's best.
If you can't get enough of majestic extreme metal, this prince consort may be of value, although it doesn't have “noble law”.
See the lyric videos for Ov Fire (which is also streamed below) and
Opposer. A few other songs can be streamed on Shiver Records.
FDA REKOTZ, 16.01.15 Chapel of Disease released their debut in 2012, and are hereby out with the sequel. Though, we're
not speaking of a direct continuation of any sort. Summoning Black Gods was an album with rather
frenetic and dirty death metal. On The Mysterious..., Chapel of Disease create the
path as they go, and the result sees the band wandering into a far more sophisticated direction.
The four Germans have tried to forget the past and future and “isolated them self in a bubble of the Present”. Where,
if I understand it right, they haven't given a damn about genre limitations and rather just embraced new and spontaneous
ideas. That's not to say that The Mysterious Ways Of Repetitive Art is a dissolute, improvisational
or surreal melting pot of genres. The album still got more of a loose vibe than many other death metal albums. Among
other things, there is lots of doom to be traced in the quartet's new compositions. By resetting themselves and attacking
the writing process with a new approach, the guys have created something that sticks out a bit. (I dare not use the term
unique, although I can't come to think of anything particularly comparable).
The music often has a dreamy expression. Even up-tempo passages with more thrust has something searching and reflecting in
its expression. Usage of various effects on the guitar as well as frequent changes in the direction the tunes constantly
takes, contributes to this “unplanned” touch. The songs does however not at all appear as direction-less or pointless. In
fact, they seem rather monotonous on the surface, but that's just before you put the snorkel in your mouth and dive deeper.
All the variation creates an overall mood where I, as an outside observer, gain a lust for listening through the album
repeatedly in search for the trail of breadcrumbs, the common thread, that the musicians seem to be pursuing.
They recorded the album on their own, and it's mixed by Mersus in The Underworld Studios and mastered by
Erkan Tatoglu in Midas'in Kulakligi Studios, for those who like that kind of specifications. In any case,
the sound fits the material. Cover and booklet art must also be mentioned. Chris from Misanthropic Art has
created illustrations for each track, with relevance to the song themes. The band has presented everyone of these on
FB, along with comments. One each weekly from November 7th. I'd like to dive deeper into the story behind each
drawing, and preferably also the lyrics of the songs, but I hereby entrust that assignment upon you.
With tons of melodic directions and strong variation The Mysterious Ways Of Repetitive Art creates a special
atmosphere that at least increases my appetite for several spins.
Check the wonderful
...of Repetitive Art, with the said illustrations, and listen to The Dreaming Of The Flame here.
FDA REKOTZ, 16.01.15
German Obscure Infinity was founded early 2007. The band's got a demo, two albums and four splits in
their luggage. The third chapter relates once again to death and destruction, though not with equally cold-blooded
brutality as the genre's most bestial constellations swear by.
The death metal the Germans performs has ample melodic spices, without becoming mainstream for that reason. The melody
lines have ingredients like lethal aggression, black anger, elitist grandness and pouring riffs with brashness and a
twinkles in their eyes. They offer suitable variation with apt disrespect of adopted genre conventions. Not that the
Germans crosses all boundaries. They unquestionably plays death metal of the old school, but they borrow an item or two
from outside and incorporates these as the most natural thing in the world. Among other things, they rip some delicious
solos of unconventional art, the genre taken into consideration. Something that takes my mind a tad in the direction
Not unexpectedly, we find both rough sequences that punches fast and hard with great thrust, and mid-tempo based mood parts.
The least extreme chunks have a melodic touch and may very well be felt as more stress-relieving and comfortable
than evil, but the alternation creates a nuanced expression that provides good dynamics in the song material.
The melodies alternates effortlessly and naturally between malicious hell-fire and more disarming lines that relieves sore
listening-muscles, and it all runs with a swell drift.
The vocals are diabolical, the guitar playing superb and the drums striking. If you like a little melodic extreme metal,
Obscure Infinity definitely supply the goods. The album lasts a little more than 40 minutes, and the band
claims that Perpetual Descending... is their best merchandise ever.
They should know, cause they are (in) the band, and why would any band lie about such a thing?
Sarcasm aside, I haven't heard the band's previous releases, but I have no disbelieves this may very well be the case.
The album was recorded in Noiseschmiede Lahnstein and the “mixmaster” is assembled by Patrick W. Engel
over at Temple Of Disharmony. That might not tell you much, but the sound has become rich and dark whilst being
clear and distinct. Also, the dynamic range is satisfactory, with a score of DR7.
With some of the weight of Immolation and a bit of Unleashed's melodic hue, Obscure Infinity
has delivered in excess of 40 minutes of strong material that just gets better for each spin.
Watch the video for
Beyond Spheres And Time. The part from 5:33 (5:41 in the video) sounds oh so recognizable, without me being able
to remember where it originates from (or if at all it derives from another source).
EDGED CIRCLE PRODUCTIONS,
IRON BONEHEAD PRODUCTIONS &
HIGH ROLLER RECORDS, 10.01.15
Classic heavy metal has its own place in my heart. I've always liked music, and primarily the half side of the art form
that can be swept under the common term rock. (All that stems from the branch marked disco can burn!)
Childhood was an eternal quest for something even harder. When I eventually discovered the magic world of metal, childhoods
end and the adolescent beginning was shrouded in heavy metal and thrash from the golden era.
That I barely listen to newer heavy metal is solely due to it being mostly crap these days. Tame records without thrust,
with assembly lines melodies and castrate vocals by feminine vocalists who makes Bruce Sprinsteen look like
Glen Benton. Cheeses!
Therefore it is nice to hear a small battalion from the black metal scene of Bergen that remembers what heavy metal once
was. The band started in 2000 and recorded some private demos before they went into the studio and recorded their only
release, the Battle of Souls demo from 2003. It is reportedly considered a cult classic, and is now
remixed and ready for relaunch on vinyl under the name Infernal Manes.
I have limited information about the band. They gave up after a while, but came back together in 2013. Three former
members have taken their hat, coat and stud belt and abandoned ship. The current lineup consists of Jan Atle Lægreid (aka Thurzur, from Dead to This World, Deathcult
and Gaahlskagg et al.) on drums, Stian Lægreid (aka Skagg, from Deathcult and Gaahlskagg et al.) on
guitar, and Iscariah (Dead to This World, ex-Immortal, ex-Necrophagia et al.) on bass.
The vocals on this release was done by TJ Cobra (Grimskull et al.), but he's amongst the deserted
part of the crew.
The title track is a good example of what I like best about the album. The song has good structure, killer riffs and
melodies that take your mind back to old Judas Priests (The Ripper/Love Bites) and Paul Di'Anno-era
Iron Maiden with a lovely The Ides of March-ish sequence towards the end.
I'm not going to describe each and every song. Generally, they have good variety, with alternating pace and small
solos here and there. If I should compare with one band it's Judas PriestInfernal Manes relate
most to. Not that this sounds like a copy in any way. One can trace Helloween, Manowar,
Mötley Crüe and several others without this Bergen-band being too comparable to either of them. The pace is
kept at a moderate level, and provides some 70's Priest-feeling in this respect. The vocals are light, but as
long as the vocalist is able to use some force and howl like a circular saw, which TJ Cobra does smoothly,
there is nothing wrong in that. It's falset and tame singing with girl'ish vocals that should have been punished with
torture. The vocals have certain similarities with Rob Halford, with occasional glimpses of Joey Belladonna
(Anthrax). Some slight opera effect on the vocal cords in Mind Destructor also creates
variety and individuality, as long as it's not exaggerated. Which it's not. Then it would quickly have becomes a bit
theatrical. The singer could have had some more balls, but does a better job than many others.
We are served about 34 minutes and six tracks, where some small nitpicks is inevitable. Not everything turns
out equally killer. Some tracks could have served up a little more inventiveness, and generally I would have liked a bit
more punch and more intense guitar solos. This is just a demo anyway, and it's not impossible that the resurrected
reincarnation of classic metal was still a bit stiff, rigid and rusty in the joints. Overall Infernal Manes
supply a descent amount of nostalgic coziness. Plenty of the vital charm of the late 70's / early 80's is revived,
and the sound is loyal to the era in authentic ways. I haven't checked out how this sounded before re-mixing, but as it
stands now, it's with ample dynamics in the sound, as it was back in the golden era, and as it should have been still.
Two horns up for that!
This brilliant initiative was, as mentioned, restarted a couple of years ago, and their début full-length album is expected
later this year. I can't wait!
The demo can be streamed on
WORLD TERROR COMMITTEE, 24.12.14
As mentioned in the previous review this album came out as the perfect last-minute Christmas gift. I was enthralled with
Deathless Light which came out in late October, and I have enjoyed this countless times during the last two weeks.
The German quartet released a demo in 2009 and debuted with EP and a full length entitled Consolamentum
the next year. It is said that it received a very good reception among those who didn't miss out on it. You are not alone
if it blew past your radar as well.
Ascension plays black metal down the same notorious ally as Watain and Valkyrja with a scent of
Mörk Gryning. (Especially in The Dark Tomb Shines). This is nevertheless better than both The
Wild Hunt and The Antagonist's Fire. The Dead of the World is a dark universe with seven
songs that form a wonderful, almost hour-long ceremonial whole. Only two songs clock in at less than six minutes, while
four of 'em stretches well beyond eight minutes.
The movement and momentum of this music is like a poisonous sea snakes gliding and elegant flight over the reefs. As a
born predator, the light of the morning star hovers naturally through constant changes in form and shape. Occult melodies
and dissonant riffs meets solid percussion and is robed with clever transitions and powerful moods. Vocals conjured from
a coal-black throat seems able to invoke the Prince of Darkness himself. On the song Unlocking TiamatThe Magus (Necromantia, Thou Art Lord, Principality of Hell) contributes with guest
vocals, and Mors Dalos Ra (Necros Christos) make an appearance in the last song, Mortui
Mundi, a barely 11 minutes long opus that's concluded with amazing guitar work reminiscing Shining's
eminent For the God Below.
Play this son of Beelzebub loud, and the ears will quickly becomes friends with this icy cold ferocity. It will eventually
fits as a glove. I could elaborate far and wide about details and nuances, but if you're in the target audience you're
probably drooling all over it already. (If you haven't already obtained it, of course).
Ergo, my missionary task is achieved.
WORLD TERROR COMMITTEE, 24.12.14
This label released two delightful little devils during the previous six months. Dysangelium released
their first demo barely two years ago, and their second demo, Leviaxxis was released via W.T.C.
in late July. Exactly five months later, on Christmas Eve it self, their début album was released. The second mini the
label released was an EP of Ascension. Even they unleashed a record the same day. I will return with a review
for it later. Both bands are German, playing black metal, just to mention it.
Musically this is a pure continuation of the demo, for those has heard it. The fact that two of the three songs from
Leviaxxis is brought along onto Thanatos Áskesis, all garnished in new sound after
being re-recorded, might support that claim. For all those poor souls who did not read my praise for Leviaxxis
, this is black metal with moods of depression, hatred and despair. Their performance is intense and ... hateful!
The word HATE clings ominously to the album like a persistent mantra from beginning to end, whether it's high-octane
nitro-aggression or ritualistic calm before the storm segments that surface. It smells a bit of Watain,
and label-mates as Chaos Invocation and said Ascension of Dysangelium. Qualitatively,
however, Dysangelium lags a bit behind both Ascension and the Swedes.
The music has a somewhat more monotonous character both in melody-structuring, vocals and drums. The latter can also be
somewhat staccato. Sonically I was fooled by the stereo, where the bass setting had been tampered with. The bass rumbling
was unusually intense, and seemed unnecessarily loud. When my internal misunderstanding was clarified that problem was of
course a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the dynamics of the production is diluted compared to the demo. I enjoyed the
more naked, cold and raw sound of Leviaxxis, but by all means, the sound is still more than good enough.
Despite a few nitpicks - all in all, I like Thánatos Áskesis fairly well. There are both far worse débuts
and far draggier black metal band than Dysangelium. To compare the newcomers with such great acts isn't
particularly fair either. I looked forward to this album, and I appreciate it. Case closed!