ATMF, 26.06.17 Perished was a black metal band from Hommelvik, a small town about 20 km east of Trondheim, which was active from 1991 to 2005, and released two demos, two EPs and two full-lengths. I'm not particularly familiar with the band, but on Kark, their debut album from 1998, they operated in black landscapes coloured by viking aesthetics adorned with classicistic means. Kark was reissued with a bonus song in 2015, but only on tape limited to 200 copies.
This year's re-release offers the same bonus track, as well as two songs that form the self-titled EP Perished (1996).
The intro is an acoustic thing not unlike Empyrium, with suiting double bass. The music that follows has sharp guitars, fiery percussion and rasping vocals, but also a Nordic melodic touch. The music has some common features with bands like Ulver and Borknagar around 95-97. A touch of Enslaved can also be traced, as well as elements that would later be picked up by bands like Windir. In addition, a symphonic twist brings associations to, among others, Thy Grief and Grievance. The album reminds me of something more concrete, but my memory refuse to play ball. Hints of contemporary Troll and Ancient can also be mentioned.
Perished was a quartet when Kark was recorded in Skansen Lydstudio in October 1997. Three of the members later appeared in bands like Bloodthorn, Wurdulak, Woods of Infinity, Laserguys and live for Whoredom Rife, while the last man was never heard from again. The synthesizer was handled by session musician Knut Erik Jensen, who later recorded some accordion for Lumsk. Ihizahg that guested on guitar became full time member afterwards, before even he later appeared in Bloodthorn and Wurdulak et.al, and also Images at Twilight. The sound is as it should be, fittingly unpolished and primitive while at the same time retaining its raw essence with rick punch and a nostalgic euphonious sound of the late nineties.
The last song of the original album, Renheten og Gjenkomsten, differs slightly from the rest of the material by offering less melody and rawer, hastier material. The bonus song A Landscape of Flames follows in this footstep. This one is previously unreleased apart from on the previous reissue. The songs Kald Som Aldri Før and Gjennom Skjærende Lys stand out even more production-wise, with harsh, cold sound, even though the songs have the same melodic touch as the lion's share of the album, with a sympho-folklore ethos resting like a veil above sardonic riffs and thorny vocals.
This almost 20-year-old album is something of a classic within its genre. Those who have missed out on it and who wants the digipak version should act quickly, for at the time of writing, only 80 of 500 copies remain. The album is also available digitally, and a limited LP version without bonus tracks will be released in October, of which the first 200 copies come with said EP as a 7" bonus.
After Kark, Perished released the EP Grim (2000) and the album Seid (2003) before splitting up a few of years later.
Hells Headbangers, 21.07.17
The Italian speed/thrash/heavy/proto-black-trio released their third album last year, and are now back with a short EP.
I wasn't particularly impressed with Cult of the Empty Grave, and I can't say I'm ecstatic with this EP either. Well, at lest I've given the release a proper chance.
Barbarian, the EP that is, consists of two songs with a duration of just under ten minutes all in all, and musically we find ourselves in the same landscape as the last time.
Simulacra of the Ageless Need kicks off at a slightly cool pace before a slower pace takes over. The pace varies slightly back and forth, and the mood reeks of masculine sweat from primitive primates with unibrows. The song has no real melody lines, and no substance or structure to write home about.
Stench of God takes over and leads the EP to the finish line. The finish line in this case being exactly where the band started, as the two songs are both just as aimless. The only thing I nod acknowledging to is the guitar from just over four minutes, leading on to the consecutive solo.
The caveman-sound is adequately dirty, and the EP is audible, at least in the background. As soon as you give the music some attention, you notice something that isn't there. Although Barbarian ain't utterly rotten, I have to impound the license plates of this one due to lack of quality certification.
Century Media Records, 07.07.17
Belgium's brutal metallers in Aborted hardly need any in-depth presentation. The band has reeled off rough and aggressive death metal since 1995, and never seems to rest for long periods on neither laurels nor other plants.
The band has largely administered quite brutal death metal with a rather comprehensive substance. Those who encounter Bathos without any expectations other than full throttle, straight for the jugular, barbaric, rampant and frenetic cacophony, would be almost as overwhelmed as your mother if you were to replaced her ABBA CD in the stereo with this one.
Although the danger ain't that imminent, for this EP only comes as a 7" vinyl as well as digitally, and can be obtained here. You could burn a CD and try, though. Crank the volume to max and block up the volume knot. Remember to have a defibrillator and perhaps a few nitroglycerin tablets at hand.
Bathos consists of the title track and the song Fallacious Crescendo, and clocks in 8 minutes. Both songs have an almost surprising melodic touch, with melodies oozing of odious occult evil. An eerily feeling of nervousness spreads and forms an unexpected anxious atmosphere. However, the death metal is neither calm nor gentle in any way. It's rather aggressive and vital, with a fairly brutal touch and usage of some quite technical rhythms and guitar lines.
I'll be brief here, and allow you listen to the two songs for yourself. Both are reasonably killer, but the release is a bit too short to create its own musical universe. I never got around to writing about The Necrotic Manifesto (2014), and I missed out on last year's Retrogore. But chances are another opportunity will come along, and I'll be waiting, ready to jump at it.
Ashen Dominion, 20.06.17
The Ukrainian one-man band Raventale, with its mournfully dreamy atmospheric blackened pagan metal, was presented with the release of Dark Substance Of Dharma in the eleventh hour of 2015. Thus we skip the introduction.
I enjoyed the album, just as I've also appreciated most Raventale works, although I also mentioned the bands' biggest weakness, protagonist Astaroth's chronic Achilles heel, that the entirety becomes rather similar-sounding and anonymous in the long run.
On a single with a lone song in solitude, chances are that repetition doesn't constitute that much of a disadvantage...
What I've failed to mention before, is that multi-instrumentalist Astaroth also plays in a number of other bands. Among other, he handles guitar in Balfor.
New World Planetarium is a fully nine minutes song. As before, the music is calm and dreamy, but also very atmospheric. The atmosphere is of course thick of crestfallen misery, and the mood places the listener in desolate landscapes, far from civilization.
After a soaring start with calm synth bearing some likeness to a string ensemble, quiet drums enter before they increase in pace just as despondent and embittered vocals arrives. That the rest of the song circles around the same ingredients, like variations around a theme, doesn't matter, as the melody is melancholic and full of beauty, and the variation is more than satisfactory. The base of the music is evenly monotonous, not entirely different from Burzum's most ambient period, and applying the word “diversity” would be stretching it. Still, altering shades and pace, and varied use of different instruments, nevertheless creates necessary irregularity.
New World Planetarium is the first single from the album Planetarium, that'll be released this autumn. When we hopefully return to it, repetition will again be an aspect that might apply to the equation. Astaroth, however, is capable of balancing monotony with nuances under an unstable cloud cover, so if the other songs of the album hold the same quality in melody, mood and structure, Raventale's eighth album will likely also become a pleasant journey into desolate despondency.
DROWNING IN DEATH: A WATERY GRAVE - PART I
Kombinert Inntrykk av Hellcraft, Skeletal, Tomb Mold & Pestifer
Welcome to the first part of a series I have chosen to call “Drowning in Death: a watery grave”.
An incredible quantity of classic, traditional and “old school” death metal is being released at any time. I don't even have time to skim the surface, but even if I can't possibly delve deeply into each and every album, I'd still want to present as much as possible. Even if I have to leave parts of the task of separating wheat from chaff to you.
But hey, I'm confident you're qualified for the task!
Hellcraft is an Ukrainian band which hereby releases its third album. The band has been around for ten years and plays... drum roll... death metal. The ensemble has apparently grown from quartet to quintet, and switched the musical assignments internally in the band a bit.
The band isn't the most brutal, and the pace ain't directly breathless, although they hammer away at times. They still have massive heaviness and punch. The guys have got their act together. They know what they're doing and vary well in every aspect. Such has nonetheless almost become a minimum requirement. Why sacrifice time on someone who doesn't at least get over the lowest bar? Purely isolated, the guys play solid metal, but the line of young bands who do a decent job and hope for attention is long.
I don't mean to be too strict, for Apotheosis Of War is highly audible, but as the series “Drowning in Death: a watery grave” will emphasize once and for all; It takes more to stand out. Good is the new generic.
After 33 minutes, including Adrie Kloosterwaard from Sinister as guest vocalist on the title track, Hellcraft leave the stage with a thanks to polite applause. The music is cool enough, by all means, but due to overpopulation it may nevertheless easily be forgotten five minutes later.
The debutants from Jyväskylä, Finland, is a death metal band that I after listening to briefly have soon grown expectations to and faith in, and I'd say they're not letting me down. Skeletal does Dreadful Life, their debut, in quite exactly 33 minutes, and mix abundant rhythmic shiftings and riff transitions while at the same time maintaining rapid momentum and deadly attitude.
The Finns have been at it for ten years, whereof a drummer was commandeered during the first year, and a bassist replacement took place in the second. After a demo and an EP, Dreadful Life becomes the quartet's baptism by fire, and they pass with high distinction.
In addition to traditional lethal furore, adrenaline-filled energy and a chronic need for alteration of above-mentioned components are brought to the table, and the album peaks with songs like diabolically dark Reaching Out and mighty Return to the Grave towards the end. Attached Death Works Overtime unfortunately doesn't reflect the full range of the band, but does show off some of the high octane levels and restlessness.
Canadian Tomb Mold is also a debutant with two shorter releases behind them. The band consists of two guys, and fronts a more angered and ill-tempered variant of the genre. Through 32 minutes, aggressive and infernal death is presented through fast riffing, viscous torturing moods and thunderous punch. Thus, it's hardly any surprise that this is tougher than liquid lead.
Nevertheless, there's not much more to Primordial Malignity. Despite some variation it becomes a bit repetitious in the long run, and the biggest substance largely remains absent.
Tough as hell, violent and frenetic, but not exciting, and of course not innovative. The last half of Vernal Grace - Outro is the duo at their slowest and most atmospheric, before the music finally gets sucked into a black hole.
Portuguese Pestifer (not to be confused with Belgian Pestifer) are also debutantes. Regardless of how many bands you've come across, half of all the bands you encounter at any time in the future seem to be debutants.
The trio worships the old school without sounding retro, and they offer rawness with groovy segments and mildly proggy structures with good variation. The instrumentation is in addition spotlessly performed, with a solid portion of technical details in stock. The guitar's hectic riffing and vital acrobatics, tearing and clawing at the ears, are favourably helped out by the bass. We also find the occasional succinct screaming solo. Check out the Slayer-solo from around 2:40 in Enslavement of God, for example. Along with ruthless thundering drums and rasping vocals, Execration Diatribes becomes a thorough and ass-kicking album.
After the first round of Drowning in Death: a watery grave - Part I, it's Skeletal who take home the trophy. Congratulations!