16 May 2021

Grave Miasma - Abyss of Wrathful Deities

A long time ago, back in 2013, right before Grave Miasma’s debut Odori Sepulcrorum was about to be released, I was spending a lot of time with the early Cruciamentum material, their demos and especially 2011’s EP Engulfed in Desolation. Of course, it was already a few years after Dead Congregation’s massive Graves of the Archangels (a death metal classic from one of the best bands the genre has ever seen), yet a new band of the same elements was about to come out with their own first work. And at the time, that band was the talk of the town, highly anticipated and hugely praised by the scene as the spiritual successors (along the other two bands) of the Incantation school of thought.

Odori Sepulcrorum had the expected impact. I don’t know if the term “cavernous” was used for modern bands up to that point, but it was surely established these years and expanded further later on, in what seems now like an old school “revival” with a lot of new names. Ever since, there wasn’t any significant activity from Grave Miasma except an EP in 2016, which would just raise the stakes of any follow-up work higher and higher, until we arrive to 2021, and why Abyss of Wrathful Deities, their second album after Odori Sepulcrorum, eight years later, might be the most anticipated death metal record of the year so far. Being a driving factor in this particular sub-style of the genre, I wanted Grave Miasma to live up to their name and deliver a ground shaking work, but in reality it doesn’t reach the starry heights it aims for. We’re talking about an album faithfully following the formula, offering an abundance of brutality with hammering drums and guitars, painful growls and conceptual twists towards Middle Eastern meditation thematics that also influence the music itself. At the same time, Abyss of Wrathful Deities, while seemingly explosive at the first listen, loses a bit of its shine after it’s repeated a lot. And such an effect have albums that are a little bit more one-dimensional than what they seem.

Already from the art itself, the record by no means has a cover reminiscent of the visual mastery other death metal albums of that kind have. To me, the title also feels equally puerile, questioning the choices of the band when it comes to the album’s textual part and aesthetics. Frankly, it baffles me to think that such a cover art / album title would be conceived and accepted among the members of Grave Miasma, given that the tracks themselves are full of well-written lyrics. As a band that thrives on its crippling atmosphere, the fog has cleared out a lot in Abyss of Wrathful Deities and its clear production brings to the surface parts that are musically fragile, for example, the transitions between “Erudite Decomposition” and “Under the Megalith” are fine pointers of these filler moments, where the record doesn’t even fill that heavy anymore. The predictability is also quite high after just a couple of tracks, where the listener has already listened to how fast Grave Miasma will play, as well as their Slayer-ish frantic solo additions here and there. The intensity is even more watered down in following songs like “Demons of the Sand” and an unnecessary interlude, pointing out that Abyss of Wrathful Deities has, as a whole, mediocre content. “Rogyapa” can be considered a highlight (strongly reminding of their brother band Cruciamentum here) as well as the last track of the record “Kingdoms Beyond Kallash”, which also is slightly more interesting to listen to.

I can imagine how Abyss of Wrathful Deities might be enjoyed all around by death metal listeners, however in my point of view, it doesn’t compare in terms of quality, neither to their previous material neither to the other-like minded artists. The world needs more of Charnel Passages, and less of this. Maybe listen to some Obliteration even, and you will get a better slap in the face than this. This album is a bit of a let down and a victim of its own ambition, Grave Miasma could have done miracles within the genre but didn’t keep up with some consistency. While it isn’t a totally poorly made effort, and it will probably get the same blind praise as they have previously had, yet once you scratch the surface slightly more violently, you will also see the inner cracks.

Damage: 5/10


20 Dec 2020

Albums of the Year 2020

Last year, I closed this post by giving a shoutout "that's all folks, see you next year and stay alive". Ironically enough, I should never have opened my mouth and give any kind of wishes on a year that proved to be one hell of an amusement park ride, constantly feeling like a nightmare simulation you can`t wake up from. Misery and existential dread didn`t just knock on our doorsteps, it came in crushing down the house, left everything in splinters and locked down the pandemonium of the century.

17 Dec 2020

Top 10 EPs of 2020

Welcome back. I'm kicking off this year's lists posts with one that I would post a bit later on usually but this time, it was actually the one that was finished first. At the same time, 2020 was the year I listened to the most EPs compared to past years, reaching 84 in number, when I normally go for half that. Many bands give equal attention to their Extended Plays as they do to full lengths, depicting important steps in their careers, and there were several ones this year that I considered to be great to listen to. The genre variation will not surprise you because there almost isn't any, so let's look into some 2020's fabulous extreme metal mini-albums.

15 Dec 2020

Top 10 Greek Metal Albums of 2020

Since the very first years, to be on the lookout for new coming and underground bands from your whereabouts has been of vital importance, to encourage locally relevant quality. Two events to point out were the return of the ancient band Piranha, and the release of Revenge's Massacre In Heaven along with its story, an album that didn't get any coverage as far as I am aware of. To subjects closer to me, sadly I listened to Eriphion's second album (with its intriguing cover that refers more into some DIY post-punk than black metal) too late, and it would be a possible runner up for this list. 

Top 10 Greek Metal of 2020:

10. Nox Formulae - Drakon Darshan Satan
9. This Is Past - Labyrinth
8. Obsecration - Onwards the Mystic Paths of the Dead
7. Katavasia - Magnus Venator
6. Death Courier - Necrotic Verses
5. Revenge - Massacre in Heaven
4. Dephosphorus - Sublimation
3. Utkena - Nex Fornix
2. Kawir - Adrasteia
1. Mystras - Castles Conquered and Reclaimed

13 Dec 2020

Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2020

Usually this part is all over the place, but this year I had a clear favorite and several albums I found fascinating, even in more mainstream genres. The list represents well the various genres I was into throughout the year and basically I somehow chose representatives of each, but there are still things I had to listen to but didn't manage. Some honorable mentions are the albums by The Strokes, Nothing, The Garden, Nine Inch Nails and Dua Lipa. Wait, what?

Top 10 Non-Metal of 2020:

10. Forndom - Faþir
9. Prurient - Casablanca Flamethrower
8. Steve Von Till - No Wilderness Deep Enough
7. Taylor Swift - Folklore
6. William Basinski - Lamentations
5. Lowrider - Refractions
4. Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly
3. Puta Volcano - AMMO
2. Bohren & der Club of Gore - Patchouli Blue
1. Venus Volcanism - Rizitiko

10 Dec 2020

List of Good Albums 2020

As we're wrapping up, this is the pool of albums I enjoyed throughout the year, in alphabetical order. More concrete posts are being written as we speak and meanwhile, you might find a couple of hits even now at the last moment:

Abigor - Totschläger (A Saintslayer's Songbook)
Abramelin – Never Enough Snuff
Afsky - Ofte jeg drømmer mig død
Akantha – Gnothi Seauton
Altar of Gore - Obscure & Obscene Gods
Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
Ancient Gate – Empire Beyond Dusk
Ardente - Citadelle des Brumes
Begotten – If All You Have Known Is Winter
Beneath the Massacre – Fearmonger
Black Vice - The Alchemist's Vision
Carved Cross - Severance of Disparity in Absolute Acrimony
Circle of Ouroborus - Viimeinen Juoksu 
Cold Earth – Your Misery, My Triumph
Cosmic Putrefaction – The Horizons Towards Which Splendor Withers
Crépuscule D'hiver - Par-Delà Noireglaces Et Brumes-Sinistres
Cultus Profano – Accursed Possession
Cursed Altar – Midnight Reprisal
Cystic – Sworn Enemy of Life
Cénotaphe - Monte Verità
Death Courier – Necrotic Verses
Devangelic – Ersetu
Disembowel – Echoes of Terror
Disrupted – Pure Death
Dropdead - Dropdead
Drown – Subaqueous
Drüben - Det Alværnende
Elffor – Unholy Throne of Doom
End – Splinters From an Ever-Changing Face
Enepsigos – Wrath of Wraths 
Enshadowed – Stare Into the Abyss
Erancnoir – Berglicht
Fellwarden - Wreathed in Mourncloud
Feral Light – Life Vapor
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Enstrangement
Gaerea - Limbo
Gloosh – Timewheel
Grace.Will.Fall - Barren by Design
Grógaldr - Illness Unto the Womb of Spirit
Havukruunu - Uinuos Syömein Sota
Horna - Kuoleman kirjo
Häxanu - Snare of All Salvation
Ifernach - The Green Enchanted Forest of the Druid Wizard
I’m In A Coffin – Waste of Skin
Incantation – Sect of Vile Divinities
Í Myrkri - Drivende i Dødens Æter
Jordablod – The Cabinet of Numinous Song
Kommand – Terrorscape
Konvent – Puritan Masochism 
Krallice – Mass Cathexis
Kryptamok – Verisaarna
Lampir – Awaiting the Predatory Dreamscape
Leeched – To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse
Ljosazabojstwa - Głoryja Śmierci
Maquahuitl - At the Altar of Mictlampa
Midnight – Rebirth By Blasphemy
Molested Divinity - Unearthing the Void
Mortiis – Spirit of Rebellion
Mourir - Animal Bouffe Animal
Mournful Winter – Viscus Et Os
Naxen – Towards the Tomb of Times
Nidernes – Darkness Cenotaph
Nox Formulae - Drakon Darshan Satan
Núll - Entity
Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin kynsi
Over the Voids - Hadal
Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
Prison of Mirrors - De Ritualibus et Sacrificiis ad Serviendum Abysso
Raven Throne - Viartańnie (Chroniki Źmiainaj Ciemry)
Reaper – Unholy Nordic Noise
Revenge - Strike.Smother.Dehumanize
Sanctifying Ritual – Sanctifying Ritual 
Sentient Divide – Haunted by Cruelty
Serpent Column – Kathodos
Serpent noir – Death Clan OD 
Sinister - Deformation of the Holy Realm
Spirit Possession – Spirit Possession
Striges – Verum Veterum
Suicide Silence – Become the Hunter
Svartsyn – Requiem
Thecodontion – Supercontinent
Toadeater - Bit to ewigen daogen
Turia – Degen van Licht
Vampire – Rex
Verbal Razors – By Thunder and Lightning
Vinland Ghost – Empire Without End
Violent Hammer – Riders of the Wasteland
Voyeur's Blood - The Dawning of Post-Mortal Enlightenment
Vredehammer – Viperous
Wake – Devouring Ruin
Warp Chamber – Implements of Excruciation
Witches Hammer - Damnation Is My Salvation
Yaldabaoth - That Which Whets the Saccharine Palate
Ygg – The Last Scald
YounA – Zornvlouch

5 Dec 2020

Paysage d'Hiver - Schnee

This year will be a year to remember for many reasons. Little events happened in the scene that surprised me, and one of them was the exposure Paysage d'Hiver got worldwide with their album Im Wald. If you dare to call this the project's debut because it's a full length then you haven't spent serious time with the band, whereas the fact that they actually released and EP (!) in the same year is much more surprising. As a fan for several years now, I lean a bit on the negative side about Im Wald and not because of the popularity it got, but that's for a different post that will probably never come.

On the other hand, here is a collection of tracks that I previously hadn't thought needed to be gathered in a single release. Schnee is a compilation of tracks the self-titled tracks (I) to (IV), composed in a time period between the early 00's and late 10's, specifically "Schnee (IV)" was featured in the 2017 split with Drudkh, a breathtaking mini-album also for a different post. Considering that another compilation was released in 2020, we faced quite some activity from Paysage d'Hiver in 2020, who started off the year with a blast with the live show (remember) in late January and the early distribution of the full length there.

The process of listening to this band is like a patient exploration. It insists upon the subjects it touches for more than twenty years now, so there has to be some serious filtering of material in order to maintain a relevance. Paysage d'Hiver have achieved that in a remarkable manner so far, maybe not totally but mostly. I don't know if Wintherr planned this all along, but the sequence of the four "Schnee" tracks is brilliant, and also plainly describes, the most vital source of influence of the band, in its simplest word. To be a bit clearer, only through exploration one can discover the magnificent guitar part in the middle of "Schnee (I)", which comes at a point when the listener has assumed he has heard everything.

From the four tracks, "Schnee (II)" is definitely the hardest hitting, which is also the shortest composition at only ten minutes. All the main elements of the band are present, from the wind samples to the monotonous, lethargic riffs, distant shrieks and some beautiful clean singing during the opening of the compilation. I didn't need to be reminded of how majestic "Schnee (IV)" is as it was already under frequent spins, but I'm pointing out again how amazing it is. The cover of Schnee might be the same photograph as the cover of the band's split with Nordlicht, where "Schnee (III)" is featured. 

I never expected such an act to attract attention outside of the underground, and a little breakthrough was made with Im Wald. Things are changing as we speak, and this compilation offers a fine dose of Paysage d'Hiver's talent that works as a silent reminder not to neglect the past, when taking steps ahead. Schnee comes in an elegant black envelope, with gentle engravings on the side, on a delicate A5 digibook, proving how this is a jewel not only for its music. 

23 Nov 2020

Hwwauoch - Protest Against Sanity

Less activity as we're approaching the end of the year and for obvious reasons, attention has been turned towards all-time favorite posts that will spawn in mid-late December. 

In the meantime, implode with Hwwauoch's new, terrifying album, which poses a challenge to all that is musically conventional and believe me, better to take a deep breath before diving in.