Satanath Records, 15.01.18
In the last six months I've written very scarcely about pure death metal. Too many bands with a steadfast relationship to the most traditional approach, can make even good albums feel generic.
Although copycats can be found within every sub-genre, differentiation seem to have a somewhat higher status in black metal; a genre with an extra draw on outcasts.
But back to dath metal. Sometimes one comes across bands that deliver their barbaric crushing riffs with so much killer mood that it becomes impossible not to succumb to the steamroller.
Spanish Neter has been around since 2004, and Inferus is the third album of the quartet. The band apparently sounded more like Swedish death metal before the Spaniards found their own identity. I'm perfectly happy living with the fact that this identity is neither ground breaking nor unique, as the quality is sturdy in every aspect, and the material appeals as much as it does.
The lethal direction the guys luckily seem to settle with, is mighty and suggestive, with good old groove, heavy weight and diabolical moods. The press release mentions such references as Behemoth and Nile. I'm not gonna argue against that, even if Neter lean more toward heaviness and punch, and don't aim for the most majestic peaks. Neter has crafted vigorous riffs for themselves, and fortunately, they don't give any direct associations as such. An occasional nifty, succinct solo also hits spot on, without rattling like borrowed feathers. (Yes, feathers from metal birds, do rattle.)
The riffs on Inferus might not be as memorable as those of said bands, but with percussion marked with aggression, infernal growls, ominous moods and juicy production, that doesn't matter all that much. I (for my part) really thrive while thundering rhythms embrace me as a threatening constrictor. Rating: 5-
Invictus Productions, 02.02.18 Spite is a one-man band based in Brooklyn, New York. Spite was born in 2010, and has tried out the three formats single, split and EP, before time is ripe for the mother of all formats; the full length.
He calls himself Salpsan, the man behind Spite. He participates in a few other constellations, and has played drums live for Negative Plane for a short period of time.
Spite plays a kind of colourful black metal, if one can put it that way.
It is namely not pitch black, the metal that Spite performs. Although it has it's roots based in the most diabolical of genres. Salpsan creates riff with a lot of melody, and a shifting atmosphere in dark unlit waters between paganism and the occult.
Antimoshiach is at times a real devilish and moody album. Especially the sharp, rasping and sonorous vocal fits the most evil sequences perfectly. The riffs are sharp and the rhythms are fast. It doesn't feel very evil on the whole, but the melodies often create a mood of proud and stubborn attitude.
I don't feel that Antimoshiach stands out terribly much. The expression sounds a little ordinary. At the same time, it's varied, I enjoy myself, and I never get bored. The music is more than listenable, and has its qualities. At its best, Salpsan has a lot of killer stuff going on, although it's not gold all that glitters. Rating: 4
Ewiges Eis Records, 22.01.18
Expectations is the mother of all disappointments. It's quite possible I'm repeating myself now, as this sounds like something I would say, but memory is unfortunately becoming a stranger to me.
The debut album with the short and enigmatic title VE, forces me to adjust my expectations, or rather: throw them over board.
These expectations are partly due to the cover art. What would you expect to find behind a tough and beastly cover that show teeth in a blood-dripping manner? Perhaps something untamed, rabid, rough and corrosive?
Another aspect that makes me expect a more primitive, raw and brutal expression is that I know the two good-for-nothing black sheep that hide behind the moniker Lykantrop. Considering the size of the metal scene, most reviewers is a bit biased now and then. I nevertheless intend to be honest and reasonable in my view of VE. No friendly favour, criticism discounts or free pass of any kind.
Dyret is the brain behind Lykantrop, and the one who primarily writes the music. Dyret has a past from bands such as Frozen Cries and Viðr, where he has gone by various pseudonyms. He takes care of guitar and bass. Along with him is Dáublódir from amongst other Bloodstaur and Gandreid on drums and vocals. These two guys have previously also collaborated in Skygge.
In view of these acts, and in particular considering the songwriter's former exploits, I expected sharp tones and rough, unpleasant sound. What's most surprising when the song Hamskifte opens with gliding tones, is how velvety and atmospheric it sounds. The gitar tones up front are floating and tower into the sky like rounded mountain peaks among cotton-soft cumulus clouds. In the background there is a guitar with a bit more distortion, even if this ain't exactly severely serrated either.
In stark contrast, the vocal rips the night sky as a sawtooth lightning between the two guitars. This throat-rift sounds like a wheelbarrow without wheels, being dragged across the asphalt. This is accompanied by the drums. They have no patience for monotonous repetition. The same pace is attacked with hundreds of different approaches. As the songs typically appear as simple in structure, the percussion contributes to the necessary variety.
This somewhat strange overall expression, is partly representative of VE. The song material varies in quality, however. Hamskifte offers melodies that convey melancholic yearning, while some of the songs only reel off an indifferent mood of resignation without notable melodic hooks to create depth and variety, or capture my interest and stand out.
If I remember correctly, the title VE is short for vemod, Norwegian for wistfulness. If so, it fits the melancholic and atmospheric style of the album very well. The word ve can also mean longing, (soulful) pain, a place of blót (Norse sacrifice), and it can be used to express despair. The music has an atmospheric approach with a hint of suggestion, but it comes best into its own when a bit more gloomy and demonic moods emerge, as in Vargtronen. The song Sjelevending, with its repetitive riffing, becomes the absolute opposition; lingering idly till mind-numbing boredom. That's soon forgotten when cold winds anew rush forth bitingly in Fra den kalde vinteren (From the cold winter).
Overall, the material becomes somewhat simplistic, with its monotonous structure and relatively banal melodies. Along with rounded sound, 41 minutes long VE does not appeal fully. Lycanthrope has potential, though. This is just the first staggering step. Rating: 3
Ashen Dominion, 30.01.18 Ulvegr was started just short of ten years ago in Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv. The band has operated as a stable duo since its inception, but has acquired its share of studio musicians when needed.
Guitarist and vocalist Helg (Khors) and drummer Odalv (Elderblood, ex-Nokturnal Mortum) must enjoy each other's company. They also cooperate in the bands Ygg, Kzohh and Runes of Dianceht. Vargkult is the band's fifth album, and follows speedily after the previous album. Titahion: Kaos Manifesto was released in April last year, to acclaim from some.
Personally, I could control my enthusiasm, and ended up not spending unnecessary time with the recording. It still sounds a bit monotonous in my book, even though I hear that it probably has its suggestive effect. But as mentioned, there are also those who consider it a brilliant release.
The two albums have a very different nature. Vargult is more primitive. Significantly more. For better or worse. This disc will probably appeal more to those who prefer chilled, necrotic disgust. The sound is sharp, but also somewhat odd. As is the whining vocal. This may give the album some distinctive character, but it may also appear as repulsive to some. The material is relatively simple, and even though the riffs are effective, are neither these nor the remaining compositional characteristics of the songs too memorable.
The duo hasn't felt any need to involve guest musicians on this occasion. Therefore, they've done everything on their own. They plough through 7 tracks in 28 minutes, which gives an average of exactly 4 minutes.
What, despite these seemingly simple aspects, makes Vargkult a piece of stale raw beef that is nevertheless easily recommended, is expression and empathy. The band go on blaring, pedal to the metal. It's as if they have the devil himself at their heels. Or the other way around. When the guys deliver their intense hateful torrent without ever slowing down, something smells burnt. The drums in particular impress slightly at times. Odalv floors it, and puts down some breathless cymbal and hi-hat usage on occasion.
The guys are clearly immersed in the music with diabolical concentration. The pace also requires full focus. Thus Ulvegr can be said to walk in Darkthrone's footsteps, without picking up anything from them other than a stylistic approach. The result may not be sovereign, but it's absolutely very enjoyable. Rating: 4-