Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Casket & Sewercide - 7" Split (2013)

Country | USA - Australia
Genre | Thrash - Death Metal
Date | November 5th, 2013
Label | Unholy Anarchy Records

Here's a collaboration between two underground thrash / death metal bands, Casket from the US and Sewercide from Australia. Each band takes it's first steps now, without any full album yet and few stuff for someone to listen to by them. This new 7" split contains one song by each band, even though they are very much alike and could be easily be two songs of the same band. The winning cover was designed by Kator.

By the description of the release in Bandcamp, I was expecting some kind of raw death metal but don't let their words fool you, there is nothing death metal here apart from a couple of growls by Casket. Both bands stick to old school thrash, with a regular musical structure and somewhat poor production. The result doesn't move the earth, but it will be appreciated by metal jacket freaks.

The first song by Casket "Armed to the Teeth" moves into a fast tempo and has groovy riffs, without any astonishing moments, as it seems like they're replaying what has been on for the last thirty years. It has cool, shrieked vocals and a nice vibe, even though the high hats are mixed too loud throughout the song. It ends with a spooky laughter, which is more funny than serious. Sewercide continue with a similar sound into an equally fast song, with repetitive drums and tastier riffs / solos and vocals than Casket. I can't say any of the two tracks featured in here is memorable.

I sense I would not bother listening to this if it didn't have the amazing cover. For fans of the genre, this is for you, even though I assure you that you have heard it before. Each band has legit musicians but hasn't formed a personal characteristic in their music yet, and that's very obvious in this record. Still young, way to go.

DAMAGE: 4.0/10

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mitochondrion - Antinumerology [EP] (2013)

Country | Canada
Genre | Black / Death Metal
Date | September 3rd, 2013
Label | Dark Descent Records

| Void in the Flesh |

I have come to the conclusion that this is a serious band after all, but when I first listened to their music with Archaeaeon I thought the name was hysterical and some kind of joke. However, the sound itself is as punishing and stomping as I want it to be, so their goofy name does not prevent me from spinning their albums regurarly. The latest offering is this EP titled Antinumerology, containing three tracks and lasting no more than twelve minutes of thick and diseased noise, covered in a simple colored and wondrous cover art by Richard Friend. In fact, the album is split into Side A "Insummation" and Side B "137 (Mors Formulae) / Antinumerology" from the vinyl release so there are two compositions, the latter split into two parts in various internet versions of the album (and in Metal Archives).

Mitochondrion belongs to the family of Grave Miasma, Father Befouled and similar bands, which means they master the skill of an anti-human black / death / doom mixture, relentless and always with an enlightening and mysterious concept behind it. Just the title of this EP triggers some wondering for what this new riddle might be. The vocals on the record are high class deep growls, with no alterations or variety, as monotonous and disgusting as they can sound, with several points of twisted breathing and howling. They follow the traditional death metal pattern but not as distinguishable, since the singer(s) here focus more on the occult atmosphere than just brutality. Again, this should be well known to fans of this style.

The reason the EP does not get eventually boring is that it's short for it's own good and it has lot's of different parts to unravel as it progresses, from fast melodies to middle-paced tormenting moments, painted with interesting riffing all along. All three tracks and especially the second one "137 (Mors Formulae)", which is short and crushing, reminded me a lot of Dead Congregation and their masterpiece Graves of the Archangels. I can't say I noticed any significant bass lines in the album, probably because it was mixed on the down low, but one can feel it's effect during the dissonant lines of the EP.

The opening track "Insummation" is by far the longest composition (six minutes) and begins with amazing fast riffing, before descending into more doomier, grubbier harmonies, switching from hasty to slow parts until the end. The self-titled song is instrumental and maintains the same level of prosperity, lacking any new ideas but still tight. Mitochondrion deliver the same type of power with Antinumerology but I prefer their two albums, which contain significantly more music and a wider approach to death metal. Still, the EP had it's moments and I will be listening to the first two songs for some time, until a full album is constructed. The signs are scant but good.

DAMAGE: 7.0/10

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Warbringer - War Without End (2008)

Warbringer: War Without End
Country | USA
Genre | Thrash Metal
Date | February 5th, 2008
Label | Century Media Records

| Millions storm the battlefield |

Contradicting the opinion of most die hard thrashers, I don't believe the genre died after the eighties and I often discover little miracles by newcomer bands, either famous or unknown. California's Warbringer are by now a gigantic name when it comes to the modern scene and not only, since they are kind and respectful to their craft, which pays back with supreme noise. Debut War Without End is by far the most old school and raw approach, scuplted to perfectly fit the rotten ears of old, bastard beerheads, isn't it? Just look at the titles and the artwork, or more precisely, the music.

The band aimed for a dirty production, taking advantage of the modern studio machinery to avoid the unbearable fuzziness. A problem one often encounters with the old underground bands when listening to them twenty five years later is how the sound was poorly taken care of, focusing on the overall madness instead of any actual purity. No one could blame them for their inexperience in recreating the sound of thrash since it was then taking form and it's not a big deal either (many fans actually want it), but I believe today it's somehow a must. That been said, War Without End is very pleasing to the ear without being a bitch of the trigger effect, making it look honest and from the humble heart. The gargantuan badass Bill Metoyer has been the producer for this, who has also done legends like Slayer, D.R.I., Flotsam and Jetsam, Dark Angel, Sacred Reich and others. All the instruments are audible but not crystal clear, born in the 21st century but aching past decades, a combination of Warbringer's passion for their original bloody roots, but not a worthless replica of them.

Which brings me to a drawback of the overall album, which is the eternal problem of repetition. Even though there are a lot of ideas going on, it doesn't reveal a personality behind the curtain of old bands like Kreator or Vio-lence, with a couple of restored riffs here and there. For the most part, Warbringer are demonstrating their own muscle power with plenty of good composition parts, but it get's too hard into binding them together, leaving them the option to do it the old way. This little bug hardly will change the minds of those who listen to it, when the music is straightforward and bludgeoning as this. A fastidious listener would point out the washy recycling, but it's not even right there. It's just below the surface.

Breaking the album into parts, the guitar work is diverse and amazing. Riff after riff, solo after solo, it keeps a very fast tempo as it should be and gives away variety and entertainment for about forty minutes. It is clearly above the typical thrash metal bands, counting 4-5 or more riffs in each song and about the same solo analogy, with a few arpeggio patterns, tremolo picking and a accustomed aggressive attitude. The concept album was not chosen by luck and it's very close to the essence of the music, which is a hundred percent warfriendly and combat ready. There are several war samples as well like guns, bombs...

Moving on with the vocals, which are breathtaking. They are harsh, steady and powerful, with several stunning and memorable moments like in the bonus track "Nightslasher" (which is an old song named "Zombie" that was re-recorded), or in the standout track "Total War", where the screams are touching heaven in quality. The vocalist is a problem for me four out of five times in modern thrash and Warbringer paid back for the rest of the morons that destroy a band's good music with their awful vocals, therefore this was made just as amazing. The drumming is fast and varied, even though I don't like the random hits in a moment or two through the album, like in the beginning of the main part of "At the Crack of Doom", which has a hell of an introduction by the way. They are right on the spot in almost every song, but it feels like the drummer could not think of how to fill in at some point so he just hammered down the snares for a few seconds. I noticed a little bit of black metal drumming sometime, quickly switching to other picks.

I can't say it's classic material in this album, but it's definitely over the limit of mediocrity. For the music contained, the listener fully gains quality for the time spent, with Warbringer clinging onto the waves of thrash, playing around the Bay Area and the  heavier extreme of Europe, with splendid musicianship and a coherent content. It's definitely great for it's kind and you know you will like it because you somehow expect it, as the personality of the band is depicted in a few moments and not in the whole album. It secretly gives away the form they would later take, which is more unique and glorious.
DAMAGE: 7.5/10

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Convulse - Evil Prevails (2013)

Convulse: Evil Prevails
Country | Finland
Genre | Death Metal
Date | November 1st, 2013
Label | Svart Records

| Clouds red as fire |

It seems like a lot of bands from the past are coming back with new releases after a lot of years (Sorcery and Protector come to mind). The old school fans have no right to complain about anything anymore, since not only the old bands arise from their ashes to release new music, but also there is a whole scene of newcomer bands that play as if they still live in the late eighties and nineties. When I first found Convulse, I fell in love with their debut album A World Without God, for it had the amazing sound and that particularly amazing feeling that old bands bring inside you when you listen to their forgotten, buried records. Then, I was a bit let down by their sophomore Reflections, and left the band into cold ice. Almost forgot about them. When the reissue of World Without God came out in 2010 it hit me that these guys might be back together, without thinking of a new release at all, something that made this album a surprise. In fact, I was not sure of who this band is, because the name didn't ring any bells at first sight. There are new members, the drummer and one guitarist, hired by the other two, original members, the singer/guitarist and bassist.

Getting down to the content, Evil Prevails is a dark, intense, old school death metal record from guys that seem to never get old. I'm glad time has not erased their urge to make great music and I'm talking about one of my favourite comebacks of the year, to be exact. A problem I often encounter in such cases, is that the frontman usually has lost his deep growling voice and goes with softer, shouting vocals instead. It works fine most of the times, but I personally prefer the downtuned, rancid vocals in death metal, and that's what I get here. Rami is a magnificent vocalist and he demonstrates his talents not only with his unearthly growls, but also with some clean vocals that are inserted in the more silent, doomy, acoustic minutes. The slower, grimy parts in the tracks remind me of the doom side of Autopsy, less frequent but in the same vein.

I'm pretty straightforward with what I want from this kind of death metal and such experimentations rarely pass the test for me, but this time I found it delicate, smartly used, a great addition in general. There are plenty of fast-paced hammering parts for you to enjoy anyway. The songs are built around numerous riffs and solos, enhanced by a great vocal and drum work, worshipping the first wave of Finnish death metal, with them being a significant part of it in the first place. If one would ask pure old school riffology in this album, it is exactly what one will get. Plenty of them, good varations in each song, with the proper way of using breakdowns and an overdose of agressiveness pouring out of every single line.

The now matured musicianship here helps a lot to the clear band improvement, in terms of composition and album structure. It flows nicely, warms your heart and caresses your ears, leaving a strong feeling of you traveling through time back into the tape trading era. With a production pleasingly raw to the fans and unfriendly to the outsider scene of modern meloshit, it builds it's own walls of protection from the unaware and repays it's followers with a remarkable, non stop trip of brutality. Lyrically, they don't go far from the familiar subjects, like genocide and war, as well as religion, pretty much the same like what they included in their debut. Not to mention the captivating cover artwork, done by the common suspect Luxi Lahtinen, who has been active into the painting business in the early nineties, drawing for bands like Avulsed and Demilich.

This is well written, accurate and relentless death metal, from the beginning to the end, executed by masters of the area, leaving the listener with very few to dislike, if any. You will find blast-beats, doom additives, clean parts, but all of them revolve around the old school attitude of death metal. The whole package is exactly how the job is done, but if I was to choose some standout tracks, these would be Days Are Dark, Unholy War and Reborn In Chaos, each one containing some of the best moments of the album, which ends with a sound of babies crying. What we get here is forgotten death metal with several new school elements as an enhancement. It is an enthralling album with enough, non-repetitive music for you to enjoy, without stepping into the trap of being a replica to all other, usual and simply good bands. It turns out Convulse had still some ideas to work on in the rear.

DAMAGE: 8.5/10

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tridentifer - Zombified [Demo] (2013)

October 10th, 2013

At first, I confused the band's name as Zombified and thought it was the Swedish grindcore / deathmetallers, but the logo and the art did not remind me of anything so I thought that I misunderstood. Now, the band's name is Tridentifer and they are a newborn band from Germany, having no official releases apart from this debut demo. They operate with the pure, non-additive side of death metal, strictly inside it's borders and with hardly any surprise characteristic, which works both in their service and against them, depending on the listener's frenzy on the genre.

Four songs reside in this demo, which from the looks and only, gives a reliable idea of the band's objectives. Simple, mutilated corpse, probably traditionally drawn with classic fonts and green colour on the logo and blood, is very close to the cornerstone of every self-funded band's first steps. As one descends into the noise, everything goes by the plan. The production is rough and sharp, flirting with the sound of modern old school death metal bands like Entrails or Revolting, without necessarily copying the Swedish formula. Moving mostly around middle-paced patterns with a lot of groovy/blast-beating moments, their music is not hard to headbang to, despite the fact that it's not anything new to an experienced listener. Of course, releases like these are self-limited into the scene and only and this one will attract very few, if any people outside from death metal. Besides, I'm positive these guys do not really care about that and with hard work, they could accomplish a solid full album. It's not hard to make a listenable demo, pleasing to the fans for a short period of time, the true challenge lies in making it memorable and Zombified does not really do that.

The mastering and mixing are good for a first demo, achieving a clean and discernible sound that keeps it all standing. The riffing and drumming lines are rather regular, predicable and overall not that amazing as you would want, even though brutality is involved here, especially with the semi-shouting and growling vocals, very much influenced by the northern bands. I had a hard time trying to listen to the bass and I can't seem to come up with it's shining moment, thinking that it was kept in the dark on purpose, for a steady rhythm or something. The record starts with "Bloodwine", which contains a sample of sea waves and sound for about half a minute, then getting into flogging melodies that feature a legit solo towards the end, which again, has a sound of a shooting cannon. It's a short song that shows the narrow but well used pack of ideas they have, while the second song song "Zombified" does not change anything. The penultimate "Of Days To Come" is the longest track and the best on the demo, staring with a clean guitar intro and getting into a main part with interesting guitar lines. The fourth track "Ripping Cancer" is another concrete track, it opens an mechanic made intro and it has a staunch structure, based on it's familiar riffs.

Tridentifer do not bring anything new to the table with their debut demo Zombified, which would be really better if they had some faster and heavier parts, instead of the easy ones they had now. The several good moments were a bit ruined by the drums, as the slow blasts were fuzzing everything out. The band is still looking for it's sound and it has a way to maturity, but that doesn't hold them from creating an enjoyable, average release. It left me with an impression of indifference after it ended, still I believe that they can grow into something more complete if they stay focused.

DAMAGE: 5.25/10

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu (2013)

October 11th, 2013
Svart Records

| Woe of cannibal galaxies |

Rough days need rough music and I was not anticipating a new offering by this band, it totally caught me sleeping. Do you know Oranssi Pazuzu? If not, you should. They are the patronizers of psychedelic black metal, adorning a whole new side of the genre with their peculiar incarnation of sound. Formed in 2007, the Finnish surrealists arrive to question your standards once more with their third album Valonielu, which to me, is a mysterious gateway full of enigmas and riddles. Judging from the band's statement "Oranssi Pazuzu makes music that invites all the arsonists and smokers to hold hands", I think their vision fits this blog perfectly and I'm definitely re-examining their older albums as well.

The band's music emphasizes on a bizarre amalgamation of various unconventional styles while mainly revolving around black metal, forging a unique and intriguing sound, which gives them an identity among numerous look alikes in the scene. Coming from a non-metal background (the members were playing in weird rock bands before this) and having no knowledge on how to create traditional black metal  is a bliss and a key element for them to go on and create something that amazing. The psych here is enormous and unexpected sounds pop out of every corner of the album, introducing elements of ambient, space rock and 90s black metal.

Oranssi Pazuzu dare to prolong some of their tracks up to eleven and fifteen minutes, challenging the listener's patience and fooling them into one bottomless pit of psychedelic utopia. After several listens, I still feel I have not fully consumed the tasty content of the album, which appears to have more and more hidden sequences that need close attention to grasp on. The album was produced under the aegis of Jaime Gomez, who has also worked for Ulver, Hexvessel, Gates of Slumber... So it was in the hands of a professional. I sensed the band's potential with the first two albums but this is overwhelming, I am impressed.

The reigning atmosphere during the album is this of the late sixties and early nineties, achieved by plenty underground prog / phychedelic rock bands as well as the ultra legends Pink Floyd. Or, to be more exact, it goes a little deeper and darker than that old scene, not only with the doses of black metal but also with the synths themselves. Absorbing all sorts of bizarre noises, the tracks contain catchy guitar riffs melded with hypnotic keys and screeching screams, driven by a smooth rhythm giving drum work.

Over it's 42 minute length, it offers a trippy experience into your subconscious as you're swallowed by it's alluring beauty and smartly executed compositional variety. New bands with a strongly personal and monumental sound like Oranssi Pazuzu are the ones who own the future for their delicate visions, as I would gladly swear that you have not heard something like this before. Combining their influences flawlessly, they build an addictive album that flows as a calm river and is probably going to stick in the listener's ears for some time. Instead of a fast-paced tempo, they move in a moderate speed so that the droning components can be experienced, giving time to grasp on the more than enough samples and synth lines.

A good example of my aforementioned comments is the opening track "Vino Verso", which kicks off with a druggy and a simplistic note riff, going on for almost it's whole length. The keyboards hold the leading role and characterize the song, launching new tones one after the other and establishing the band's elements all together on the table. A druggy/space feeling is created and the pure black metal elements are a minority, mainly in the vocals.

The second track "Tyhja Tempelli" is one of my favourite on the album, due to it's sick and dark vibe, deriving once again from the synths. It's slow and ailing, like the instrumentation of a dying junkhead, or a soundtrack to a deranged psychological movie. Their focus on mind games and creating hallucinations via their music is more than obvious on this brilliant four minute track.

"Uraanisula" begins with a slow, depressive introduction that fits the black metal pattern, then comes a small great sample before it's main part. Here, the clobbering melodies and riffs can be relegated to modern Swedish Shining, evenly painful with more electronic characteristics. The middle of the song is subdued by unclear samples and jamming guitar randomness, with a steady tone from the bass and the drums. Towards the end, it speeds up and leads to one of the most frenetic moments of the album. The track is quite long, as it reaches eleven minutes.

Track four "ReikA Maisemassa" is purely psychedelic. It's gloomy and fearful with lot's of unexpected notes that refer to complete technological disorder, it features simple toms and keyboards, painting the room with several, brightly-coloured lines, circled and squared. Bringing back the original vibe, "Olen Aukaissut Uuden SilmAn" is dangerously digging inside your brain with grinding sc-fi synths and the same, stinky way that they have by now made known.

The final track "YmpyrA On Viiva Tomussa" climbs up to fifteen minutes in length, above every other in the record. The calm, vivid intro that slowly builds into a main part sounds like a post-black metal song but much more maniacal, similar to a product of dementia. A bunch of unbalanced synths dominate the battlefiend again, involving bulky instrumentation, even when the sky seems to clear. It portrays the band in it's entirety, as they have used time in their favor to include all the major characteristics of the album into one, solid construction. It might seem chaotic and random, but the album has a high level of consistency, each track rendering to the album's flow by leaving and open connection with the next one, thus being a great all together listen.

All in all, Valonielu elucidates how talent and originality can create an astonishing piece of art, in any form of art, as well as music. It is fairly reasonable that Oranssi Pazuzu have not reprinted the pure and raw style of their country's scene like Behexen, Sargeist or Horna, so don't expect this kind of black metal here. It is more psychedelia and less metal with bits of science fiction and drugs, a legit sound and a ridiculous assortment of concepts. Influenced by unrelated bands, this musical hodgepodge is to be played and replayed until reality can't be distinguished from dreams and matter is no more.

DAMAGE: 8.5/10

Saturday, October 12, 2013

1 Year Anniversary

Finally, the blog's age grows and steps into it's second year. Thanks for everyone's support and feedback, it is appreciated.

Suggested new albums:
Wolfheart - Winterborn
Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Grave Miasma - Odori Sepulcrorum
The Vision Bleak - Witching Hour
The Ruins of Beverast - Blood Vaults
Ulcerate - Vermis
Red Fang - Whales and Leeches
Fyrnask - Eldir Nótt
Vulture Industries - The Tower
Demonical - Darkness Unbound
Wormlust - The Feral Wisdom
Bodyfarm - The Coming Scourge
Bilskirnir - Wotan Redivivus
Avulsed - Ritual Zombi

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Satyricon - Satyricon (2013)

September 9th, 2013
Roadrunner Records

The new album by Satyricon is the most controversial by them to date and everyone has been stating an opinion since the news spread, even from the first single they streamed before the release. Coming from a band with a twenty year history and heavyweight albums on their backs, they had made it clear that you can't really expect what to listen from them. Five years after The Age of Nero, which was also questioned by the scene for it's unclear dispute, while they where playing in fashion shows and not only, it seemed like the demise of the band was eating them from the inside. I rarely throw dirt on an album before I get an insight on it and despite the hate everyone except the well paid big zines was showing on this new effort by them, I was curious to check it out myself. I knew it was going to be different because that's what Satyricon do, they would never release the same record twice, their developmental nature is useful and neccessary, even though it has not always worked for them in the past.

When the first song "The World, It Rumbles Tonight" came out, I thought they were joking. It clearly is one of the lamest and most washed out tracks I have listened lately, so much that I couldn't even get pissed at it at first glance. I had hopes that the album would be different and I can now say that it is tricky, difficult to judge with a clear mind. Satyr has stated that he enjoys playing black metal and rock together and I wasn't baffled until I listened to this, understanding what he meant. Satyricon contains ideas never introduced by the band before . It is way slower and a bit mellow. Like a forgotten, harmless recipe for rock, with bland harsh vocals and no agressiveness at all. Judging from the band's latest photoshoots, they decided to become cute for the sake of money and that's what their music represents as well, a mediocre mainstream band that has misunderstood the meaning of evolution. Popular belief is, that Satyricon is full of innovation and personality just because no one else has combined two note hard rock with worn out black metal vocals before, definitely not an arguement to prove it's meager value.

No wonder they went that soft and aimless, with a grunge producer like Adam Kasper and misleading promotion with statements like "the eighth album of the Norwegian black metal pioneers". Seriously? Using their glorious past to desperately ask for attention is what gives the feedback to this band, whose album would already be in the garbage bin if they were newcomers. It's not the mixing and producing that fail, since the sound is polished enough and the instruments (especially the drums) sound quite natural. It's the songs that are weak and the pattern that has been followed in mixing them, which makes the whole album unfathomable and lifeless. I'm not complaining because this isn't another Nemesis Divina or something, but because it is bad on it's own. I was always resilient with them and supported them up until The Age of Nero, which had it's moments, but they have completely lost the way. This album is void of compositional power and foresight, something that characterized their previous albums. One can be easily fooled by it's warm approach, which is just a facet to hide the artistic imperfections that can be spotted everywhere on the album, from the cover art to the ten year old boy band riffs, lacking integrity and spirit.

Apart from the prosaic first single, other songs like Nocturnal Flare, Natt, Nekrohaven and The Infinity of Time and Space prove my point. Even for rock, they lack any strengh or quality, sounding as if some instruments are missing, like they were half-recorded. There is one moment that reminds of their early period, with the song Ageless Northern Spirit which has the title and the sound of something closer to black metal in the beginning, but sticks to being as unimpressive as the rest.  Phoenix, the track which features Sivert Hoyem of Madrugada in the vocals, is the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. I would hate it if the rest of the album was any good, but now it is just one neat song, which was composed relying on the included musicians rather than the actual content. Satyr does not participate in there at all, which makes it the track closest to actual rock off the whole album.

Middle-paced, nonthreatening, boringly emotional rock, like the Kiss version of extreme metal. They kick their fanbase right in the guts with this embarrasing record. I recommend you avoid this album, since it has nothing to offer to you. I get the feeling that this easy to go pop rock/metal was written in a couple of days, a sad presentation of a once visionary band that has been dead for a long time. It's members, pillaging on their own corpses, making me wonder even more how they will continue and I'm looking forward to their future albums, leaving them space for a deeper grave, the most likely scenario. Satyricon is no more.

DAMAGE: 2.0/10

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Blodsgard - Monument (2013)

September 30th, 2013
The Oath

| Imploding stars and all life devoured |

Many have disproved the notion that the Norwegian scene still holds the king's scepter of European black metal, especially with the rising artillery of countries like Germany and France these years, or the ongoing, steady quality scene of Sweden. Most of the old bands have transformed into something alternate, they have chosen other musical paths or simply lost the flame that burned their young souls twenty years ago, whereas the new bands don't always deliver something as captivating as their ancestors, with few but significant exceptions.

One exception is this band from Oslo, which mainly consists of two members and their debut full length album Monument appears to be one of the very best albums of the year. I first came across Blodsgard with their 2010 Promo and more importantly, the Solve Et Coagula EP/demo they released in 2011. I remember being blown away by their prodigious sound and I was eager to listen to more by them, which sadly led to a dead end, since they had not released anything else apart from a 2008 demo which was nowhere to be found then.

In Solve Et Coagula, there are tracks that describe the very definition of the genre, with tremendous, hammering power at full extent and therefore I gave it spins all the time, to supress my need for something complete by them. My eyes bled happiness when I saw the cover of Monument (and what a nice cover that is, done by Mark Cooper) several months before it's release date, when they announced that they had almost finished the long, five year work on the new album.

A work that included re-recordings, rearrangements, remixings, small improvements on various parts of the album, since the band had all the time they needed in their own studio, with no rush or anxiety. Monument contains eight tracks, four of which are remastered versions of the ones in the EP, while all the drumming in here is programmed, even though they do have found a drummer by now. Lyrics are all in Norwegian by Stein Akslen, but English translations are provided by the band.

The ceremony begins with a sample introduction of rain and thunder, into the first track "Pakallelsen", which blasts into the angry, agressive and furious ear assault via a pure Norwegian aesthetic. The production is phenomenal, offering the perfect instrument balance and a demolishing, cutthroating sound. I adore the devastating vocals of Fredrik Rex, which are not simple, studio made screams. They hold a definitive rage, showing wonderful competence and character. The next two tracks, "Mentalt minefelt" and "Sjeler vil brenne", are both very precious gemstones.

I can't remember the last time I was overwhelmed that much by new extreme music of their country, if not extreme music in general. It's black metal executed with precision and profound care. The fourth "Hagalls sirkel" continues on the same cataclysmic pace, adding a beautiful synth-like melody in the middle of the song, something that defines its supremacy. There is a relentless bombardment of amazing riffs and blast beats everywhere and it is intense as it can be. The second half of the album, tracks 5 to 8, is notably slower, without missing it's speedy and energetic parts.

The self-titled track starts off with a sorrowful, clean guitar introduction and whispering vocals, before a church organ and distorted guitar are ventilated into it. The drums are almost non-existent here, making the track a chanting hymn that adds to the overall darkness. The beginning of "Livet er avlyst" is pure dungeon-like ambient, before exploding into a ferocious attack of blast beats, cutting riffs and merciless vocals. The song is a coalescence between dreamy ambient with agonizing black metal, as if the calm and the storm were fused into one piece.

"Kaoskonstruksjorn" sets off with a sound of horns and it's as savaging as the previous tracks, consisting of two heavy and two calmer parts. The last track "Svart blod flyter" was originally called "Mitt blod flyter" but changed, and it's the longest on the album, clocking up to nine minutes. It's middle paced and dreadful, with various piano / synth lines, clean singing and piteous melodies, while the lyrics are equally depressing. It ends with rain and thunder sounds, similar to the way it started, as a farewell to the listener.

I would not be exaggerating if I said that this will be the best black metal album of the year. It's sophisticated, well-constructed, diverse and rich in musical variety, with a fascinating mixture of ideas that makes them shine among lookalike bands. It gives them their own sound, which not only touches brilliance, but also makes them memorable and unique.

Coming from the dark, northern corner of the earth, from the solitary minds of two indivuals possessed by the essence of their craft, they have sculpted a masterpiece with enough screaming anger for you to embrace, as well as ambient passages to bemoan upon. This band is young and full of ideas, it has the means and the tools to create music, it's shimmering potential can't go unnoticed.

DAMAGE: 9.75/10

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Saturday, October 05, 2013

Abated Mass of Flesh - The Anatomy of Impurity [EP] (2013)

September 3rd, 2013
Rottweiler Records

Abated Mass of Flesh come from Tennessee, US and they are a part of the new wave of brutal death metal, which seems to be in fashion lately. They don't have much of a discography yet and when I listened to their debut EP back in 2011 (one that I had gotten along with the 80.000 Dead EP) I couldn't really get into it, but I did not hate it either, it was a neat, noisy record. Two years later, they release two more EP and one of them is this, which is just wrong to my eyes.

The fans of BDM are almost immune to the flaws of the genre and will jamm on anything you give them, as long as it has guttural, eructating vocals and blast beats, and that's the only way to enjoy this. The songs here are very similar to each other and there is nothing uncommon in them to be any special, except the shredding two second intro in "My Cross To Claim" or in the middle of "Deadland", which again, is often used in such occassions. In general, they sound like the new era of Pathology, with a slightly dirtier production and a worse drummer. I mean, it sounds like there are four guys hitting random notes back there. The high hats are used too often and they are loud enough to toss everything else on the side, making the process of listening somehow staggering.

The vocal work is limited to the regular brutal death singing with some highs and you can listen to a few pig squeels in some moments, but that's about it, naturally. There is a bass drop on every corner of this record, as if it was used to fill the musical gaps and it does, in it's own way. At least they avoided the hardcore breakdowns. There is a sense of randomness to the compositional structure, as if they connected two different songs into one, or fused ideas in a goalless way. The  mini album closes with an instrumental track with a preaching sample about how important the love of God is, and that brings me to my last point, the lyrics. It is a christian band and I can't help but laugh about the content, Give me strength o, Lord.

To sum up, I think "The Anatomy of Impurity" targets it's audience to those who like religious content in their music, as well as the fans of brutal death metal, but it might seem repulsive to anyone outside. Apart from that, it is rather nonchalant on it's own and there are definitely better things in that scene for you to check out.

DAMAGE: 3.0/10

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Ancestors Blood - A Moment of Clarity (2013)

August 6th, 2013
Heidens Hart Records

Finnish Ancestors Blood return with a second full length album after five years, when they released the mannered and tight debut "Return of the Ancient Ones". The band moves towards pagan black metal and generally speaks about anti-christianity and paganism, describing their music as esoteric heathen metal. The new album contains eight tracks and lasts about 45 minutes.

Starting with a clean sounding debut record and then turning your back to the studio and praising more primitive, raw sounds, is encountered less often than the other way around and this is the case here. They seem to go back to their demo period and explore new sides of it, sticking to the basics and focusing on the dirty production to build an intact, cacophonous atmosphere, with the synths to take the leading role in the whole act. As they do, one can listen to amusing melodies from the keyboards and it's the key aspect that makes the songs memorable, for their primordial sensation and aesthetic. Even though it's not musically better than it's predecessor, it sure is more aggressive, even with all the synth additions that make it mainly atmospheric.

Apart from the keys, little changes can be found between the songs and there lies the Achille's tendon of the album. The guitars are too fuzzy to give the impression of variation or change, sounding like the same thing played over and over again, with a few moments in the sun only when a solo or lead riff comes in. Combined with the guitars and the sparse bass, it creates a somehow plastic sound that does not highlight the compositional work of the band, trapping them into their own production. Nevertheless, the music is addictive if you listen to it closely, with the bands giving away talent in songs like Puu Ianikuinen and the grim vocals being way better than the howling / screaming that took place in their first album.

"A Moment of Clarity" runs on middle fast paced rhythms, calming down only during the intro and outro, interlude and some dispersed song parts. It can be described as a raw version of Summoning, if they ever decided to adjust pure black metal elements into their music, maintaining it's place as a legit album because of the engaging synth lines. A strict judge will find a couple of failing characteristics that might ruin the image of the album, but it will enjoy the fans whatsoever.

DAMAGE: 5.5/10

[Recommended to fanatics of Satyricon debut and later Summoning.]

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Otargos - Apex Terror (2013)

September 16th, 2013
Listenable Records

All of you theistic black metallers should stand back. Here is a band with clean sound, grooves, solid production and a non-religious subject. Are you angry yet? Otargos hail from France and this is their fifth album, containing nine tracks of modern black/death metal, with characteristics of both genres but as a whole, reminds little of the two. It sure is something of their own, but I can't feel any power behind the fancy blast beats and groovy riffs.

The album opens with the self titled tracks, which mones on a fast pace and is pretty much the fastest they managed to go, with a simple pack of pummeling drums and simple guitar lines, a few solos and a weird as hell vocal sound in the middle of the song. As an introduction to the album, I sense that these guys are good musicians, but they have mixed many different elements together in a sloppy way, as if they relied on the perfect production the album has. The second track Fleshless-Deathless is slower and depends on the blast beats and the regular rhythm of the drums in general, failing to cause any impact whatsoever. After another weak third track For Terra comes a chunk of hapiness with Remnant From A Long-Dead Star which starts with a slow melody and a church bell behind it, the only catchy part of the song

The fifth track Fallout has some interesting stuff going on inside it, finally. It's significantly faster, has some traditional ideas that can't easily fail and it's one of the heaviest on the album. With a needless interlude "Xeno" we move one to seventh track, into the second half of the record. "Drone" starts with sample vocals and continues from where Fallout stopped, and it finally has some guitar work that worths listening. A couple of riffs are amazing, remind of the modern Swedish scene and stand out compared to the rest of the mediocre work.

The penultimate Aftermath Hyperion and final Versus don't go anywhere further and share very few stimulating moments. "Apex Terror" is just another piece of extreme metal built inside the studio, where the mastering is used to boost the sound so that the actual music is left on the side. Behind the intimidating sound, the musical amalgam of Lamb of God grooves, black/death metal drums and double layered growls is hesitant and unsteady. I doubt this will please anyone but the Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth kids. No offense to these two bands.

DAMAGE: 4.0/10