Art as Catharsis Records, 27.11.17 Siberian Hell Sounds and Convulsing both hail from Australia. Both also perform disturbing extreme metal with abundant dissonance.
The first trio has been at it since 2013, and has a good amount of small releases to show for, while the one-man band Convulsing has a shorter story. Convulsing debuted with the album Errata in 2016 - the same year as the band was established. Although the album didn't see the widest distribution, it gained its share of attention. I even had proper plans of presenting it myself. Plans that unfortunately went down the drain.
Only hangover anxiety with a good grip on a poor fucker, will under normal circumstances cause more discomfort than the song The Breath Of The Beast. Cascades of riffs and rhythms echoes between hard concrete surfaces in a sterile maze, chemically free from other organic matter than the drops of blood dripping from your nose when inhuman intense rhythms hits you remorselessly, without stop. The Breath Of The Beast lasts for 20 minutes, but although a certain monotony dominates, it's got a hypnotic effect on its side.
After a quarter of an hour of cacophony and ominous atmosphere in treacherous union, we receive a sampled recording from something that seems to be an interview or an interrogation of someone who has apparently done something wrong. This becomes speculations, but the person seems to have crossed an invisible line that appear as obvious to most people. The part of the monologue that can be interpreted, still suggests an individual who explains his acts rationally, who has some of the same philosophy that characterizes antagonists, and who doesn't even consider what he's done to be wrong.
Depending on just how sick this man's actions are, what ethical borders he has breached, this mindset can be relatively uncomfortable. And the sheer idea of just how fragile human minds are, and that any one of all the thousands of souls that in some way or another could affect your life negatively, can at any time lose it - is deeply disturbing.
When The Breath Of The Beast finally lets go, the song Engraved Upon Bleached Bone lie in wait. This one doesn't give any peace of mind either, and it actually lasts a wee little longer. The mental associations created by Siberian Hell Sounds, are continued by Convulsing.
The relentless dystopia from both bands keeps the listener in a merciless iron grip. Traditional genre descriptions must make room for harsh droning and grinding dismay in this atonal mix. I let the music rinse over me like a flood of corrosive fluid, and recommend that you give the music a proper chance on your own. Rating: 4+
After four gems from 2000 to 2010, The Wild Hunt became a disappointment and a collector of dust on the shelf. The Swedes therefore needs to put in a little extra work this time, to regain trust and credibility.
Watain's previous albums have basically had various expressions within the same framework. So also this time around.
The Swedes don't go out of the comfort zone, although they explore some other aspects within the same universe. Whether the goal is primarily to expand their expression, is not for me to say. Watain has, in a way, returned to their roots, with feverish furore and rabid raw material. They may have needed to do so in order to save face and credibility. Trident Wolf Eclipse, at least, has gained its own identity. The band has chosen to cut down on melody, moods and intricate structure for the benefit of a more primitive inferno. The music goes for the throat in a somewhat straightforward manner, with increased focus on nails, pyro and blood. The material is relatively steady and sturdy, and full of groovy punch.
The album might possibly help improve the band's reputation after the previous “blunder”, but the album doesn't quite live up to the high expectations I after all still have to the Swedes. Others who were disappointed the last time, may also require more to be completely convinced. I've come to enjoy the album, but it's far from outstanding. From a debuting act, this would have been plenty sufficient, but the Swedish trio have themselves set the bar high. Higher than they're able to jump these days, unfortunately.
I have a taste for the dynamic register, holding impressive DR10. It probably helps prevent the sound from becoming too messy, for every instrument, as well as E.'s fiery vocal, sounds like a flaming roar. The sonic cacophonous expression can be a bit violent, and the sound is anything but necro.
The material is almost in excess even, hell, even a little anonymous. After having heard this album daily for two or three weeks, more should have stuck in mind. A few songs still stands out somewhat. A Throne Below, among others, offers some mood through melodic guitars in chorus-like sequences, while Antikrists Mirakel (which appears to be a bonus track) is long, slow and thunderous as Satan's marching army. Furor Diabolicus provide solid satanic fireworks, but Teufelsreich and The Fire of Power, both of which convey the devil's nature in a respectable demeanour, becomes personal favourites.
Even though the sixth album from the Swedes don't impress quite as much as desired, I've become a tad taken by it after numerous spins over recent weeks. Despite the somewhat simple essence of the music, its inherent bombastic satanic effect has a relatively effective impact. And even though the atmosphere is limited, Trident Wolf Eclipse gradually obtain its own mood of reckless and devilish fury. Rating: 4
Season of Mist, 05.01.18
In different cultures and urban legends, certain evil spirits and netherworldly creatures are linked to Yuletide. The mental Krampus that's been haunting my soul for the past few weeks, is called Saint Niklas.
Album number 10, Varg Utan Flock, stands out well from its predecessor.
Song-by-song reviews are likely the most detested form of album review there is. In Shining's case, it's nevertheless only natural to expose you to something you feel uncomfortable and miserable with. But seriously, with relatively few songs of exceptionally strong individual identity, it seems rather adequate to apply a song-by-song approach before rounding of with some general information and a brief summary.
Svart Ostoppbar Eld (Black Unstoppable Fire) reeks of newer Shining to begin with, and doesn't impress right away. A couple of minutes pass and you start forming an opinion. But just as dark clouds accumulate in the mind, the music also clouds over. Before three minutes have passed, a panic attack of depression sneaks in. Pitch black, the night descend and settle in the listener's psyche, and the painful thoughts ain't going nowhere any time soon.
Gyllene Portarnas Bro (Golden Gates' Bridge - likely referring to the high suicide numbers there) is, with its just under seven minutes, the shortest song. Besides from track five. It opens more tearful than the previous one ended, and shows, with its well-forged, heavy-hearted melodies, with all clarity that Shining with Varg Utan Flock (Wolf Without Flock) is aiming to defend the dsbm throne.
With Jag Är Din Fiende (I am Your Enemy), Niklas & Co. becomes a bit tougher, with a somewhat presumptuous attitude. An apparent total indifference with destiny is only surpassed by biting bitter rage against life, as it is. Against the way life causes pain, aversion, and anguish. Right here. Right now. A general death-wish for one and all is declared and spread outward like the rings in the water when someone drowns themselves. The ravishing and playful guitar solo comes courtesy of Andy La Rocque (King Diamond).
Han Som Lurar Inom (He Who Sneaks By) rely on a more vehement drift and unpleasant dissonance. The song provoke uneasiness, misery and gloom, and makes it clear once and for all that you're an undesirable failure. You're shunned, worthy of disgust and loathing only.
Fans of Shining knows that track five is traditionally not an ordinary song. Since III - Angst, Självdestruktivitetens Emissarie, this track number has mostly been reserved for some kind of interlude or equivalent. A breather whilst absorbing the discomfort of the world with a lump in the throat, a tear in the corner of the eye, a bullet in the chamber, and a middle finger aimed at mankind. Whether or not Tolvtusenfyrtioett (1241) is a pastiche of some classicist work, or if it's written for the occasion, others must determine. Tonight's clavier recital is performed by Olli Ahvenlahti (Finnish pianist, composer and conductor).
After a short ditty that in melancholic manners alternates between hope and discouragement, it's time for the grand finale. Mot Aokigahara (Towards Aokigahara - popular Japanese suicide site) lasts for ten minutes, and is truly an opus of cheerlessness. From acoustic guitar, sore cleans and elongated gliding guitars in a Pink Floyd landscape - that together almost mimic a ballad for severed arteries - the song slowly develop toward a frenetic, aggressive, rageaholic tantrum.
Not unexpected, the company of Kvarforth is in constant change. Guitarist Peter Huss stands firm, and must be said to be a band veteran and an unyielding partner in crime. According to the press release, second guitarist Euge Valovirta, is now participating on his second album, but he's not credited by Encyclopaedia Metallum, who claims that he disappeared from the band after the EP (virtually a single) Fiende, released in November. Both bassist and drummer have been replaced. Marcus Hammarström (formerly Elvira Madigan, now in Sterbhaus) and percussionist Jarle 'Uruz' Byberg (Urgehal, Blåhø, So Much for Nothing, and more) constitute a new rhythm section.
Recording and production is once again done in Sonic Train Studios with the help of Andy LaRocque. Disappointingly, the dynamics have shrunk from respectable DR8 on Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends, to just DR5 this time. It makes the more intense parts of the music a notch more tiresome to the ears, but then again, the music ain't all that intense by nature. It's basically more introverted and depressive, and - as we've come to know the band - relatively progressively inclined. The basis of the production is clear and rich, with relatively distinct bass. And that's, more often than not, more than enough.
After just over 41 minutes, the music has hopefully given vent to some of the bottled up aggression, self-hatred and despair of both band and listener. X - Varg Utan Flock is of course not quite on the same level as V - Halmstad, but in my ears the Swedes' tenth works is undoubtedly the best since Halmstad and the first half of the discography. Those who have previously followed Shining, but who have more or less given up, should therefore check this album out before resorting to razor blades and a bottle of sleeping pills.
Whenever in doubt; you can always kill yourself tomorrow. Rating: 5+ Gorger takes no responsibility for the readers lack of vital signs.
Invictus Productions, 24.11.17
The observant reader will have noticed the absence of the “Impressions” tab. I've removed this for administrative reasons. (Two types of reviews and two languages, is four separate pages (files) a week, and quite a lot to keep track of.) This doesn't mean we won't take on an EP et al. now and again.
The sources of inspiration are apparently many and old, judging by the music. And that's exactly what we're doing. Pillars contain a lot of tough stuff of an elder descent. The downside is that the mixture becomes something of a potpourri; messy and random. In addition, I come across some riffs that smell more than familiar. The most annoying thing is nevertheless when I can't place where I seem to have heard something equivalent before.
Take the first song, The Fundamental Spirits, as an example. After a spooky start with similarities to something, an “Alison Hell” transition leads us into stereotypical black/thrash riffing before the sequence that arrives at about 2:10. It's on the tip of my tongue, but hell if I can remember where I've heard it before.
The first two songs are playful but cluttered. As if all of the ideas have to be tested at the same time. On the last two songs, the focus is sharper, and the variation becomes more concentrated. Particularly the moody, and partially doomy De Aeterno Praesentia bode well for a more orderly future.
Javi handles strings and keys, and has brought along L.O. on vocals, and Jordi Farré (Cruciamentum, Ered and Sheidim) on drums. It'll be exciting to see in what direction the trio manoeuvre on future releases. Rating: 3+
Soulseller Records, 15.12.17
Ten years have passed since Bergen, Norway based Deathcult debuted with the album Cult Of The Dragon. Meanwhile, a series of demo tracks have been released on two demos. Demo songs that is largely featured on Cult Of The Goat. Deathcult consists of the brothers Skagg (guitar & vocal) and Thurzur (drums) from Gaahlskagg, Infernal Manes, ex-Taake et al., and Taake boss Hoest on bass.
As is only fitting from grim musicians in a black genre, residing in Bjørgvin, Cult Of The Goat is recorded with Pytten in Grieghallen.
The cult of death continues where they left off, with misanthropic satanism draped in abominable sound. Something one would think would leave a feeling of discomfort. There's still something singular about the band's hypnotic drive and psychedelic expressions that enchant and appeal more than it scares and intimidate. Not that we of the darkness could be deterred from taking another spin in any case.
The provocatively offensive and insulting lyrics are penned by Dirge Rep, and performed by Skagg along with Attila “the beast” Csihar. Skagg also plays guitar, together with a few other guests. Lava plays guitar, while Gjermund Fredheim (Orkan et al.) handles guitar, baroque guitar and sitar. At first listen, I don't notice the use of cello, but eventually I get an aha experience when the strings reveal themselves, defying my denial. The two ladies Carmen Boveda and Gøril Skeie Sunde colourize parts of the material in an adequate moderate fashion.
The material itself is not entirely on a classic level, but it's solid, and the way that it's cared for and conveyed, gives the music a close to physical presence that makes the album very enjoyable. The instrumentation is vibrant, giving the music a distinctive vital touch that so often lacks in many generic and sterile constellations. Thurzur's affectionate sadomasochistic relation with the percussion instruments, Skagg's strange seduction of cold barbed wire and Hoest's distinctly, almost amorous way of disciplining the bass, along with the guest's passionate relationships to their respective instruments, bleed onto Cult Of The Goat, and onward to the mind of the listener. Good dynamic attributes also contribute to a lifelike soundscape.
Something magical can be sensed already during first listen. Something curious that already bode for its growth potential and long-lasting durability. The material do grow stronger. Toxic spores are inhaled and end up in the bloodstream. The hallucinogenic effect can't be immediately noticed, but gradually and imperceptibly, the devil on the wall becomes 3-dimensional, before he tear himself loose from the wallpaper and dance as in trance on trotting hooves among knocked over furniture. Something that still feels like the most natural thing in the world to a perplex listener.
Fans of Cult Of The Dragon will no doubt embrace Cult Of The Goat to the same extent. Deathcult continues where they left off, with a natural sequel without pretentious development. When a band's identity has ample signature, preservation is usually as valuable as further evolution. The only real alteration, for better or worse, is the sound that is more tidy this time. It's still filthy, but the depravity is captured and perpetuated loud and clear, as in a sharp picture. Rating: 4+