Century Media Records, 02.06.17 Paradise Lost veteran Gregor Mackintosh is, along with former My Dying Bride-guitarist Hamish and new Paradise Lost drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, here with Vallenfyre album number three.
That means that bassist Scoot is out of the picture, and that At the Gates drummer Adrian has been replaced. Both were members of then original line-up.
It's been three years since the release of sophomore Splinters, and back then, I approved the album whilst comparing Vallenfyre's massively distorted soundscape to Entombed and Triptykon.
In spite of towering rough fuzz, both doomy elements of vintage British death/doom and faster speed sequences could be found in the sludge-infected smudge. Fear Those Who Fear Him don't depart from the core of this recipe, even though I'm more reluctant this time. The sound is rough and rasping, like a sawmills in full activity, despite the fact that the local is enveloped in flames, with roaring flames licking the walls, after being hit by the lightning. All whilst the thunder echoes between the mountainsides.
The music varies from a rumbling filthy and ugly version of Paradise Lost, to an equally vile and slum-stinking version of some punk-influenced version of Motörhead. Unfortunately, they also move a bit too close to hardcore, as in Nihilist, and deathcore, like in Kill All Your Masters. I like the music best when it's mud-infected and sluggish, radiating doomsday moods. Something that mainly takes place in the longest tracks. Although the most frantic solos hide in the short and fast songs. With 12 tracks and 39 minutes available, we are down to only 3:15 as average duration. Only three of the songs are of the type I prefer on Fear Those Who Fear Him. These extend well beyond five minutes. That's not to say that there are no other goodies, but the material is a bit splayed, and there's occasional substances that certainly don't appeal on this disc.
In addition, I feel that Vallenfyre's expression is somewhat limited. They borrow from other genres and wrap the music in rusty, buzzing and humming sound. But they still depend on good songs, and on Fear Those Who Fear Him, I think these are in a minority, or otherwise reduced to good single segments. Even though the Englishmen achieve a lot, the effort this time around just ain't good enough in my book. Rating: 3
Right below you find the music video for good The Merciless Tide and the lyric video for very good An Apathetic Grave. Check out meaningless Nihilist on your own.
Similar to Suffering Hour and Unaussprechlichen Kulten reviewed earlier this week, the band plays dirty death metal, but Triumvir Foul don't just offers more mud and clay, they stand waist deep in sewage, coagulated blood, vomit and used syringe tips.
A rotten stench of carcasses and ingrained feces hits the listener when the ramshackle gate of the band's putrid universe flies open with a bang, making peeled paint flakes fall to the ground like blood red dandruff. The sound on Spiritual Bloodshed is not as sharp as the case was on the debut. This time, the morbid Americans play around with slightly darker frequencies. Otherwise, much is the same.
Deranged furore in the form of shattering down-tuned riffs and boisterous bass, rampant lead guitar with marginally brighter sound, ravishing occult and frothing vocal, all performed by Ad Infinitum, with unholy cacophonic rhythms from partner Cedentibus. Both play together in the bands Ash Borer, Serum Dreg, Urzeit and Uškumgallu, bands that are, if possible, even more obscure. Not because the music is necessarily even more rotten, but because Triumvir Foul has at least acquired a name outside of the most shady underground. Triumvir Foul is reduced to a duo after guitarist/bassist Absque leaving the band last year. They compensate for the loss by bringing in three guests on guitar, vocals, interludes and noise. Among others, D.F. from Predatory Light.
I've listened more to this one than what the case was with the predecessor. It is appropriately noisy, infamous and tough while it lasts, but at the same time the music strike at me like a chaotic mass of some undefined matter. I can't get hold of textures or remember anything after the end of the listening session. A bit more memorable riffs and somewhat stronger structure with a hint of depth would have helped. But even though the record could have been even stronger, it has its repulsive obscene charm.
Spiritual Bloodshed sounds furious and nasty. That's practically the whole point. As such, it's all the more surprising to find that the production is actually dynamic (DR8-9). The album sounds intimate as youthful infidelity in the back of a car as the car crusher squeeze the guts out of both vehicle and passengers. Evan Mersky has taken care of for recording and mixing, just as on the debut, while VK (Vassafor et al.) has mastered the grotesque menace and brought out the worst in the duo.
I approve of the abominable dissident clamour because it appeals to me on a primitive plane, but I think I have to demand a bit more creepy moods with ditto hypnosis or stronger substance next time around, as parts of the material appear as unruly hubbubs, and that aspect doesn't impress all that much. A four-year-old with free access to impact tools, and a rich selection of utensils at his disposal, could also make a rich deafening racket. Triumvir Foul would of course win the competition by far, but I would still prefer if they further upped the ante until our next encounter. Rating: 4-
Season of Mist, 09.06.17
French Merrimack has a history dating all the way back to 1994.
In 2002, they finally released their first album. I've heard a couple of their albums, but my knowledge of them is limited. Of Entropy and Life Denial (2006) is a personal favourite, something that also seems to be a general perception.
The band's black metal sounds more Swedish than French, and Merrimack is rightfully compared to bands like Watain, Valkyrja and Ondskapt.
The band has apparently always been determined not to let down its black metal roots. Thus, Omegaphilia, the band's fifth album, of course has a certain element of heard-it-before. Nevertheless, they have largely refined and perfected their expression.
For those who not only prefer their black metal dirty but who also demand abominable ice-cold and biting sound, Omegaphilia may even be a bit streamlined, because the album has got a solid contemporary production in Hybreed Studios. For those who, on the other hand, just as well enjoy their malignant dreadfulness as a fruity wine; agreeable but dark, the rich currents will slide comfortably down. Not to say that it smells of soap and polish or sounds smooth and glossy. It sounds both glowing and blistering, as of sizzling lava and a resounding inferno. The sound is rich on cholesterol, but the flow of sound is a bit smooth due to low dynamics, both in musical and soundwise terms. Sound is of course a matter of taste. Personally, I enjoy the outermost extremes, icy frostbitten and/or flamingly fiery. Intermediates and compromises, on the other hand...
Digesting the music, however, of course takes a bit more time than simply consuming it. The music is still extreme as exceptionally strong wine, and the devil hides in the details. Omegaphilia, however, doesn't grow quite as much as I had hoped for. The amount of details is generous enough, but they are a bit out in the open. The material also ain't very complex. Negatively charged melodies and bountiful moods are among the best functioning elements, while the fairly smooth flow of music don't allow for too much exciting unpredictability.
I really enjoy the album despite nitpicking at a few debris. The French frontal assault is both on the warpath, like a tidal wave of hatred, and atmospheric, with a proud, stubborn and self-confident feeling of certain victory despite ill-fated adversity. Furious guitars form an indomitable mischievous swarm and drums resound in varied patterns. The melody lines and percussion are in themselves rather dynamically performed. The instrumentation is simply very proficient on all levels. The vocals were a tad sharper on Of Entropy and Life Denial, but they works well here too. As a curiosity, Dødheimsgard's Aldrahn also contributes a bit of vocal on the song Cesspool Coronation. Merrimack delivers 44 minutes of flooding black lava and elitist moods without no real inferior sequences. Rating: 4+
Iron Bonehead, 02.06.17
Chile's unspeakable cult is out with its fourth album, exploring thematic subjects such as demonology and witchcraft.
In religious context, women are often portrayed as virginal, pristine and motherly. This repressive role model without realistic nouances have roused a counter-pole; witches and sorceresses. It's this pagan tradition Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) speak of.
My only encounter with the unmentionable cult was on a split with Pentagram Chile. The split was good and the band doesn't disappoint this time around either.
By the way, I'm not sure what will happen if I mention the cult by its rightful name, but unfortunately I have no choice. The name Unaussprechlichen Kulten, like Necronomicon and De Vermis Mysteriis, is a fictional occult piece of literature mentioned in the Cthulhu mythos*.
The band has in common with Suffering Hour below that they are located in rough terrains in remote parts of the death metal landscape, where chaos prevails and elements from different areas are mixed in startling quantities. The music is an obscene and dizzying roller coaster where it ebbs and flows in irregular turbulence. However, when the head is spinning, a certain centrifugal and hypnotic effect is formed. Who needs psychostimulants?
The drums crackles. The rhythm guitar whine like rusty saw blades and the lead guitar creaks like corroded door hinges. Peculiar melodies and transitions, trumpet blasts, piano strumming, raging solos and heavy, doomy passages come and go between frothing riffs and beastly growls. Unaussprechlichen Kulten incorporates a lot of oddities in a schizophrenic yet coherent stream of sound, while the seasick listener is thrown around as a shuttlecock in high waves.
The album offers primitive and aggressive South American extreme metal with its own strange twist. It may sound a bit weird, but it's not all that schizophrenic. The Chileans makes it work, and I thrive in their universe. Those who seek death metal that deviates from the generic path, should definitely check out Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X). Rating: 4
Blood Harvest, 26.05.17
The trio from Minneapolis played not particularly impressive progressive thrash under the name Compassion Dies from 2010 to 2013, before changing their name and altering their style almost beyond recognition under the moniker Suffering Hour.
The death metal they now reel off is loyal to the genre in the sense that it's not diluted by commercial or melodic means. It nevertheless belongs to a new generation that takes the genre to new atonal and dystopian heights.
After a promising but imperfect EP released in 2014, both time and band are now mature for the first album.
The band follows in many bands' footsteps, and have picked up a lot of different inspiration before they with In Passing Ascension have finally determined their course. They play a kind of ethereal avant-garde death metal that still isn't atmospheric, but rather hallucinatory sepulchral. A technically competent and proggy form of death metal that isn't pretentiously pompous, calculated or polished, but rather kaleidoscopic and dizzying. A form of death metal distantly related to black metal, with a strange half-sharp guitar sound that trumpet a self confident fuck-all attitude. Down to earth as the grave, but otherworldly as intergalactic emissaries. Eclectic and claustrophobic, yet smooth, comfortable and dynamic.
Influences can be traced from different sub-genres that could be represented by bands such as for instance Incantation, Origin, Dodecahedron, Death Fetishist, Gorguts and Inquisition. Suffering Hour can remind of other bands, but has sufficient character of its own, and In Passing Ascension don't sound very much like any specific album I can come to think of.
The music is wild, untamed and energetic, and alternates between controlled chaos and chaotic control. It's rabid but structured, and not very extreme, and the structures have uncompromisingly asymmetric, formless and irregular textures. Its sliding progression nevertheless takes its course without meeting mental resistance. Irregular as a river in rocky landscapes, with an absurd amount of detail that creates beneficial friction. But just as the watercourse gallantly forces its way past any obstacles, the music also flows smoothly around in the labyrinths of the mind.
The band's been working on In Passing Ascension since the summer of 2014, and has obviously put a lot of effort into it. They've written eight well-composed songs and released a very solid record of 40 minutes. Dan Lowndes from Cruciamentum and Imindain has mastered the album, and again delivered spacious dynamics of DR9 in his Resonance Sound Studio. The album is certainly recommended for fans of death metal with a scorched odour in hilly and undulating, but not too brutal landscapes. Rating: 5-
BlackSeed Productions, 02.06.17 Marthyrium is a frenetic black metal band from the city of Ferrol on the Atlantic coast in Spain's north-western corner, north of Portugal. Beyond the Threshold is the trio's fourth rite, and first full blasphemous work. And when they unleash their red-hot wrath, a blistering show wash over the listener, doggedly eliminating whatever stands in its way.
The story of Marthyrium spans a decade and then some. Let's recap quickly without dwelling for long on the past.
After a cosmic ceremonial intro, all chains are torn, and freed demons on black wings suddenly swarm in massive cascades. The ritual is led by axe murderer Tharngrist in covenant with Cannibal, the original duo of this sect, as well as devoted, dedicated and loyal Balc, recruited in 2011, on seismic thunder-strings.
Cannibal hammer and batter like a thousand wild orcs in the abyss while Balc blocks out the sun. But even while the earth trembles and chaos prevails, unholy, occult and eerie melody lines draped in becoming dissonance can be perceived through clamorous lightning and thunderstorms. The band's maddening rawness forms a rather suffocating atmosphere. And as if that wasn't enough, Tharngrist scream and roar his profanely hellish hymns like Satan on steroids, while Balc contributes with corrupted choir and Lucifer's liturgical litany.
The album doesn't overstay its welcome. It's short, intense and succinct, lasting for just 35 minutes, of which 3 minutes constitute intro and corresponding outro, created along with Brais Landeira from The Ocean Studios. The recording was done in Estudios Montealto with engineer, musician and studio owner Mejuto. It was mixed by Javi Bastard, who also plays in half a dozen bands, including Körgull the Exterminator and Graveyard, in his Moontower Studio in Barcelona. Finally, the production was completed with mastering signed Tore Stjerna in Necromorbus Studio. The sound is a blazing volcanic eruption, a resounding inferno, full of power and force. With juicy dynamics ranging from DR10 to DR14, it's also an eargasmic rapture for those who like it violent and explosive.
Words are superfluous. Hell is loose. Beyond the Thresholds deliver frenetic brutal and infernal black metal of another world. The songs are not exceptionally clever, sophisticated or ingenious. Of course, these are not easily catchy pieces that you memorize and whistle in the shower. This is burning hell-fire that causes the wallpaper to scorch, curl and smoke whilst being played loud. I'm almost tempted to award a full score, but I choose to hold back slightly, although it's very well performed with kick-ass sound and a slaying killer ferocity.
Obey or succumb to the legions of Satan!
The CD is out as we speak, but the wax is a bit delayed from the pressing plant. Vinyl hereby scheduled for June 15th.
PS: Speaking of resounding inferno: Today is the 25 year anniversary for the arson of Fantoft stave church. Cheers! Rating: 5+
Transcending Obscurity Asia, 17.12.16
Unlike Vanha, that I simply haven't had time to listen to till now, the draft of this review was inked in mid December. In other words, it's about bloody time I complete and publish this review.
Folk metal is often associated with Nordic and Celtic folk tunes, interspersed with some acts coloured by local Eastern European culture and one and other Mesopotamian eruptions or cases of curses signed old Pharaohs who have been disturbed in their rest.
Singapore based Rudra on the other hand play extreme metal with folk metal elements based on Hindu mythology and spiritual philosophy. Something they themselves define as “Vedic Metal”. For many metal-aficionado, this ain't new information. The band has been around since 1992, debuting in 1998. Enemy of Duality is their eighth album.
Jagged riffs, flying exotic lead guitars and rasping voices form an atmospheric soundscape that, in a foreign esoteric way, reflects the darkest sides of Hinduism. The album has a semi-monotonous flow, but an airy expression in which each guitar strum and each drum stroke appear rather clearly. As such, Rudra stands out a bit from the more common wall of intense riffs. The band also has a slightly primitive proto-black/death touch. The shrieking guitars of Acosmic Self in particular provide associations to a nice sensation of early extreme metal.
Six out of eight songs start with sequences of pure traditional Hindu music, and a few ends in the same way. Other than that, it varies to which extent the songs are seasoned with a local flair. In some places, traditional folk instruments are used in combination with traditional metal instruments, and elsewhere, a culturally inspired primitive drive is created without exaggerating the use of oriental instruments such as sitar, flute, tabla (bongo-like drums) and didgeridoo(!).
Album number eight from the quartet is an alright album with a suitably spiritualistic touch, but the songs mostly don't leave a lasting impression, except from in some sequences. The only song that I'm really absorbed by, is conclusive Ancient Fourth, a 9.5 minute long work with a rich shamanistic approach, transitions and beautiful hypnosis through the last minutes. Unfortunately, even this one has its monotonous moments.
Rudra is a band with a distinctive signature, but unfortunately, the song material of Enemy of Duality ain't strong enough to exceed run-of-the-mill. Rating: 3