Sunday, March 30, 2014

Malthusian - Demo MMXIII (2013) [Demo]

Album | MMXIII
Country | Ireland
Genre | Black / Death Metal
Label | Invictus Productions

| The mother's blade |

Malthusian is one of the bands that devastates the stage with a shameless drowning black / death metal sound, inciting immense darkness and nothingness with their music. Even though this is the debut demo and only release of the band, they have been receiving good comments and I'm just here to add to the pile, since MMXIII Demo is just too powerful to be ignored and needs to be heard by everyone. I'm a sucker when it comes to bands like this anyway, since they usually stay underground and when milestone black metallers fail, dudes like these come to offer some pure inbred hatred to fill their shoes.

MMXIII contains three tracks and clocks a total of twenty four minutes, ranging from crushing fast paced parts a few doomier moments here and there. The production creates a thick and inhuman sound similar to bands like Cruciamentum or Grave Miasma, providing the listener with enough to deal with from the first seconds when wrapped into it's madness. Therefore, this demo sounds similar to an underground old school  / orthodox death metal record, focusing a lot on down-tuned, tormenting melodies and punching bass. It already feels that I'm advertising the band but they're that good, really.

The compositions themselves include some of the best stuff I have heard lately, making me wonder how come I've missed them, as searching for obscure bands is mostly what I do during my free time. Malthusian's diversity ranges from funereal doom, to old school death and black, along with some parts of technicality, all fused in an insane but gorgeous way. A bit of noise is constantly lurking behind the instrumentation for atmosphere purposes and there is an instrumental three minute intro part during the first track "Wraith///Plague Spore" which sets the mood. When a riff rises from the chaos, it's a dissonant and cutting line that shows the band's song writing ability, with amazing melodies arriving in accurate moments.

If something also drew my attention, it was the strength of the vocals in the demo and apparently three out of four members (everyone except the drummer) are offering their services in the tracks. There are awesome demonish growls and painful harsh screams, moving along with the song structure and nicely spitting the lyrics whenever feels necessary. The voice itself give a certain character to MMXIII and I guess it would not be the same without them and I guess it has such variety due to the different members doing different lines. It's always good as long as the result is legit, and this is way above legit.

It seems like the concept of the band is unusual too, talking about the Malthusian catastrophe and you can find information about it here or here. It's obvious that we have to do with a band with great potential and a future of glory in the underground, as long as they continue like this. It's a very good first demo that will please the fans of this style and maybe give them something new to chew on for some time, as there are more into this release than you think (or listen, probably). And if there is a modern necro sound, this is it.

DAMAGE: 9/10


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Frozen Dawn - Those of the Cursed Light (2014)

Album | Those of the Frozen Light
Country | Spain
Genre | Melodic Black Metal
Label | Xtreem Music

Before you start guessing the origins of this band, which seem to be rooted somewhere in the north, Frozen Dawn hail from Spain despite the obvious signs that indicate otherwise. These guys have adapted a couple of characteristics of the genre almost in a lookalike sense and I would dare to say it was just a copycat band, even before listening to the music. Indeed, this album's title reminds of Those of the Unlight, the band's name aches of Immortal and the likes, and the music? About that, too.

With such a polished production, the overall aggressiveness of the record is boosted up a lot, making it somewhat catchy and enjoyable during the first seconds of the first listen. Frozen Dawn display a  regular variety of riffs from the Swedish melodic black metal scene in it's dynamics and vibe. The solos and the guitar lines are more technical than the average, with a steady sound and a well worked cover art, apparently missing nothing as a whole. Those of the Frozen Light misses the "raw" part completely, aiming for a typical The Legion / Dark Fortress record, after poorly replaying the style of such bands.

As much as I enjoy crystal clean sound from time to time, I give a lot of credit to a band's personal advent to it's sound, especially in a constantly growing genre like that. I mean, bands that rip the material of the classic bands off are nice to listen to, but not to critique, and I think Frozen Dawn is such a band. What you need to expect from this album is melodic riffs, clean production, fancy titles, all born and raised in Sweden. I'm certain you have heard such records before and the issue of band similarities comes to the point where one does not overuse their influences for it's own good.

Musically, no one can claim that the record is bad, or that the band members are poor musicians. Yet, it's not something extraordinary either and I would choose a band like Naglfar anyday, to please my needs on hammering black metal like that. Listening to Those of the Frozen Light, you hear a replica of the original epicness and it's like a weak movie remake of a classic you love, you just can't get into it. In fact, the vocals here are very Necrophobic-ish and easily a person into the band recently, might confuse this to Necrophobic material.

All my objections to this album is that it's not Frozen Dawn's album, but any Swedish band's album, possessing half it's power too. I don't whine on such bands if their music is at least interesting, but with this I felt I knew what was coming and I was correct too, so it ruins the feeling right there. New fans will enjoy it because of it's intimidating sound and artwork, but it's relatively superficial beyond that, other bands have done it before and they have done it better. I would suggest you proceed with caution, since if you're an old school purist, this might as well hurt your ears.

DAMAGE: 5/10


Monday, March 24, 2014

Xaos Oblivion - Black Mountains Spirits (2014)

Album | Black Mountains Spirits
Country | Poland
Genre | Ambient / Doom / Black Metal
Label | Nykta Records

| Black cave prayer |

It surprises me that I have never heard of this band, especially when their new album is being released and promoted by our own Nykta Records, a label I try to follow nowadays. This Polish project is led by one guy and he has already released four albums including this one, since 2008 that he's been active under this particular name. Black Mountains Spirits is a blend of black / doom metal with some ambient elements and it anxiously tries to chew the walls of it's closet to get out, standing right to the standards of a typical likeminded fan.

First of all, the album has a really good and clean production, not following the trend of solely dirty recordings of other bands. The atmosphere is of major importance and the proper sound needs to support it, therefore something like that is needed for sure, as it creates the feeling and the vibe the album aims for. Not many effects are necessary either, as the music is funereal enough on it's own to express it's claustrophobic misanthropy. Black Mountains Spirits has a cool cover as well, with more intense colors than usual, depicting a basic forest location.

The compositional variety of the record is not limited but not overburdened either, focusing on growls  and clean vocals, slow paced riffs and sometimes samples or ambient moments. The guitar lines are more simplistic that I might have wanted, but they don't reduce the overall level of the tracks. In overall, Black Mountains Spirits is legit and interesting, yet I would say it is a bit shy and doesn't dominate with it's atmosphere, keeping a silent stand for as long as it lasts. The tracks last around ten minutes, apart from the outro which only goes at two minutes, and the second track "Of Mists and Spirits".

Xaos Oblivion does not demonstrate tremendous skills on the instruments either, maintaining a style where he feels comfortable and working on the tracks from a couple of checkpoints each time. Listening to the album, one can see that there are similar elements between the songs and that might be to obvious to go unnoticed. The samples can be found in the beginnings and the endings of the tracks, where "Wind (Endtime" is played on a clean guitar and has a nostalgic / sorrowful melody, similar to any post-black metal band.

I think the third track "Paths" and the fourth "Wyryte Na Kamieniach (Carved On The Stones)" are the strongest here, as they quickly caught my attention and held on to it for some time, even though I don't think they are actually better songs than the rest. Black Mountains Spirits is a legit album and I appreciate the effort of Xaos Oblivion, yet I was not blown away by it, for a little more energy would not be bad. For fans of slow and atmospheric funeral doom metal, it is a band you have to listen to, and their other albums to, I don't know.

DAMAGE: 6/10

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Door to Door Promotion: Propast & Dementia Senex & This Place Is A Zoo

These releases were sent to me via email and they are posted by request.
Propast - Věstnik Preispodnji [EP]
Black Metal from Serbia

Straightforward black metal with chilling production and great harsh vocals and satanic content. The band has only released this EP for now and it contains a Graveland cover too, which is pinpointing their style, in the likes of any slavic black metal band. Lyrics and titles in Serbian.
Dementia Senex - Heartworm [EP]
 Death Metal / Sludge / Doom Metal / Post-Hardcore from Italy
Dementia Senex is a project that was started, and keeps getting developed over the years; from 2008 to 2011 the band, which was at an embryonic stage, slowly started to grow. The band got to play with bands such as Ulcerate (NZ), Svart Crown (FR), Fleshgod Apocalypse, Putridity, Fuck The Facts (CAN), Murder Therapy and The Modern Age Slavery... achieving good visibility in the Italian underground death metal scene. In 2012 Dementia Senex feels highly motivated and has already started performing live. A new repertory, much different and meaningful; a sick mix of death metal, post core and doom is ready to be played.
This Place Is A Zoo - People Movers [Single]
Experimental Metal / Hardcore / Electronic from the US

A track from the upcoming This Place Is A Zoo album could possibly be described from the very band name, when it brings different styles and sounds together to create this uplifting and party-like music. These guys have released a full album in 2011 named A Good Time and an EP in 2012 named It's A Fucking Tree. Fun banging.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Twilight - III: Beneath Trident's Tomb (2014)

Album | III: Beneath Trident's Tomb
Country | USA
Genre | Black Metal
Label | Century Media Records

| Seek no shelter |

The known supergroup returns with a third and final album, as they have announced that this will be the last record ever to be recorded under the Twilight entity, for reasons unknown but respected. Many musicians from many different styles have come and gone in the band, which retained a basic black metal sound since it's conception in 2004, offering a couple of interesting albums to listen to. I can't say I'm a big fan of them after all, as it wasn't but a couple of moments that I felt something in their albums, yet that made me even more curious to listen to their swan song.

While the debut record was driven by the downer attitude of Wrest of Leviathan and Malefic of Xasthur, who both contributed heavily into it, the second was a bit different, missing Malefic and instead keeping Isis and The Atlas Moth members. Today, an even more surprising attendance is no other than the frontman of Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore. I didn't expect such a collaboration to be sincere, and III: Beneath Trident's Tomb should be a fine goodbye message from the band. Still, I didn't get as much as I wanted from a hyped album like this, which includes a handful of really, really talented musicians.

Twilight's song structures are confusing and baffling, trying to create a distorted image of reality and sound while playing, with most of the album being driven behind droning melodies or distant vocals. Beneath Trident's Tomb is mentally aggressive instead of purely out of sound, managing to create nightmarish layers of sounds that pretty much describe the urban disgust in the gut of it's main members. I fully trusted Imperial of Krieg in the vocal section and he completely payed of, at least the vocals are amazing.

Such strange and druggy atmosphere is very fragile, revealing a weak point of the album, which is the slowly growing apathy towards it as it moves on. Slowly, you begin to realize that you chose to listen to the album and instead you have been drifted off and do other activities (on and off the computer), leaving this as a background music. It doesn't offer much with the first couple of plays and I had to listen several times before discovering some sorrowful beauty, in slow and desperate tracks like "Swarming Funereal Mass".

There are various influences in the band, from black metal to alternative rock to sludge and so. Beneath Trident's Tomb hardly goes too fast, except maybe a part in "No Shelter Fevered Ones" and "A Flood of Eyes" which are not that good either. Behind the thick and noisy production often underlies a pack of peculiar electronic sample sounds, making the record even more creepy but not any more evil, at least to me. It's either insightful and genius or it seems to me as if the song writing is poor and unstable, lacking the needed consistency to work out.

The skills of the two guitarists are rich and they are working good together, creating some direct riffs that characterize the tracks a lot, forming the band's overall music as well. Of course, then there is the great Imperial and the rather boring and typical drumming, the least appealing aspect of the record to me. The compositions are hard to follow and rather assymetrical and even though the beat seems to keep up well, it stretches the weak points of the songs in the end. Also, I would prefer more intensity in the fast paced moments, where it seems like Wrest doesn't want to hurt the snare or something.

I appreciate the overall melancholy this album provokes. It's monotonous and catuous, having a few noise / industrial moments to help to it's cause. Yet, I thinks it's main body is not that appealing after all, consisting of purely combined song parts and spiritless melodies (is that the point or?). I can say I enjoyed some of it, like it's vocals and it's general psychosis, but I was left with mixed feelings after listening to it and I'm still not sure if this was a musical blunder done on purpose to create the aforementioned feelings.

If you take the last song of the album "Below Lights" which is also the second slower after the opening "Lungs", it's dull content of noises, vocals, a bearly listenable guitar and no rhythm apart from some drum hits (sounding machine made, was there a drum machine), is indeed not interesting. Most of the album includes such parts and there are a few improved segments that truly deserve your attention. I would say Twilight close their little chapter with an average album, like their previous one and maybe they will be called a failed mutation in the future.

DAMAGE: 5.5/10

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Conan - Blood Eagle (2014)

Album | Blood Eagle
Country | United Kingdom
Genre | Stoner / Doom Metal
Label | Napalm Records

| Seek eyeless dwarf |

Conan are one British act that slowly grows into a powerhouse for stoner metal these years, setting their mark with Battle in the Swamp EP in 2007 and releasing material since then. Their debut full length album in 2012 a remarkable statement, working on hypnotic, slow music for pill enthusiasts and stoner freaks. Now, Blood Eagle seems efficient and tight at first glance, while the music is nothing less than what's expected of them, through it's fourty four minute length.

This band knows how to take a single note and repetitively make it awesome, focusing on it's bottomless distortion rather than musical variety. They move above the border of stoner rock, into some really heavy sludge / stoner metal location, maybe as heavy as that genre can be if it has to be listenable as well. Listening to Blood Eagle is all about a riff or two, a stomping bass sound, far chanting vocals and a fuzzy atmosphere, while the speed rarely dares to step further than a standard snail pace, only throwing a couple of a little faster moments, like in the tracks "Total Conquest" and "Foehammer".

The job of Conan seems easy but it's not random and really acute. Their songwriting is not extremely crazy and not even extraordinary for the genre, but still it's production and down tuned aggression is what characterizes it's powerful and outstanding sound. What is regurarly loved in stoner will be highly appreciated here as well, like the monotonous drones, the cymbal rides and of course, the guitar melodies. It's all about them in fact, thick as if you need to lay back, relax and enjoy the album.

The durations of the tracks vary from five to nine minutes and lyrically, the band revolves around mythology instead of typical stoner subjects. The lyrics are not that many either, apart from a few words in each track. Yet, the vocals are amazing and appear as much as they are needed (the less vocals / lyrics, the better. Instrumental equals tripping here), comfortably yelling the words from somewhere far away. I'd rather say it's an album for fans only, because it doesn't leave any space for unaware listeners to indulge, when being that... stoner.

To me, Blood Eagle is a notable release by Conan, already being one of my favorite albums in that area. If you're looking for actual heavy music in stoner, these guys fit all the parameters and know how to slowly distort the reality around you into something more colorful and depressed too. The record shows confidence and stability, that's why it's one of the most legit yet. In the name of doom!

DAMAGE: 8.5/10


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sargeist - Feeding the Crawling Shadows (2014)

Album | Feeding the Crawling Shadows
Country | Finland
Genre | Black Metal
Label | World Terror Committee

| In charnel darkness |

I think Sargeist are at the center of the Finnish black metal scene right now, a scene that constists of a family of bands that share the same, specific sound and often the same members, all of whom like creating and writing for new projects all the time. Here, we come along Shatraug and Hoath Torog again, Behexen's Horns and Vainaja from Horna, guys from the biggest exports of the country in the genre. Four years after the magnificent Let the Devil In, the band returns with another above average album, Feeding the Crawling Shadows.

After listening to it, I don't think I am more impressed than I was with 2010's masterpiece, but still what they offer is the same, practiced mix of epic riffs and and a pure essence. The sound of the album is thick and surrounding, mostly built around fast paced melodies and howling / harsh vocals, very close to what the band has done in the past. Being a straightforward black metal band, it possesses all the basic and needed characteristics, as well as a semi-clean / dusty production, pleasing to the ears of the average fan. They chose not to surprise anyone with yet another album, so whoever knows his way here is welcome.

I would say that the moments of aggression developed above the main ingredient of atmosphere, which makes their sound so distinctive. Feeding the Crawling Shadows is not as angry as Marduk but it's not totally atmospheric either, instead the guys play stinking, melodic riffs, above intense drumming, making it less than "melodic black" but not purely "raw black". There are wonderful guitar moments, like the main riff in "Snares of Impurity" and "Return of the Rats" which is a great example of that phenomenon, creating an dim atmosphere for the band without adding any keys or samples.

The influences of the nowadays Behexen are very obvious and I don't know if influence is a correct word in the first place, when both bands have the same songwritters. In general, I enjoyed the album a lot and it is another offer that doesn't disappoint, proving how good these Finnish dudes are with their craft, totally comfortable to compose together and make something noteworthy. When there are so many strange fusions of black metal with other genres, we're the witnesses of new styles and fresh ideas being promoted via this or a similar sound, Sargeist come with an old-school, nailed punch and hit you in the face. Fresh or rotten.

DAMAGE: 7.5/10


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tuomas Holopainen - A Lifetime of Adventure (2014) [Single]

Album | A Lifetime of Adventure [Single]
Country | Finland
Genre | Atmospheric Rock
Label | Nuclear Blast

| To be rich is to seek, to relive a memory |

Now, this is a band I never got into and never really liked that much, despite meeting die hard fans from time to time back in school, and occasionally, now. For the very few who don't already know, Tuomas Holopainen is the main songwriter of the popular symphonic metal band Nightwish and this is a project he started, focusing on mellow / atmospheric rock, for the most part. Nothing but this single is available for now, which is a first taste of his debut full length album, scheduled to be released in April.

Under normal circumstances, I would ignore this while browsing and go on to something more into my tastes, without certainly hating on this guy or the band. Nightwish has been the middle ground to step when moving from mainstream rock into heavier sounds for many people and a couple of ultra famous songs of them are kind of acceptable. Why new music though? I decided to listen to this project for it's concept and artwork. In fact, I got very excited only by looking at the cover and reading what it's about. So much, that I don't mind listening to some calm rock for now.

So, the record's title goes as The Life and Times of Scrooge and it will be about Scrooge McDuck, the beloved billionaire who accompanied my childhood even after the "growing up" borderline, alone being one of my happiest memories. As a kid, I can't surely tell how many comic books I have read and it was a big part of my life then, melding into their world as if it was paradise. Also, nothing comes to mind of other bands doing something similar so it was also a happy surprise. And I thought Moby Dick subjects would go as close to my younger years as can be.

As if that wasn't enough, the drawings for the album were done by the godlike Don Rosa, famous for his illustrations in the original comic books very much. If you see the cover of the upcoming album, you will also shit your pants from it's undeniable beauty, especially for fans of the area and so on. I already am into it, without even checking it's material out yet, I know I will be listening to it. If it's anything at least good, I'm going to purchase it too, first chance I get. All that from the artwork only, and screw you.

Not to leave the content completely neglected, A Lifetime of Adventure is a single that has two versions of the self-titled track. It's atmospheric and easy going and it could easily fit to an inspirational  / promotional video of any kind, based on various synths and wonderful, ethereal vocals. As said, I already liked this beforehand, but there's actually a couple of moments in the album that I would anyhow enjoy, it's well written and simply powerful. It goes more and more epic towards it's end, while the lyrics are accurate and fascinating.

Tuomas hit me right in the heart with this. I can't wait till I get my hands on it and this is totally subjective. I will praise this and I want to let you know from now, so relax. I'm probably never going to visit the Nightwish discography for no reason, but this is a piece I will keep close and suggest to my metal / non-metal friends. Very good first signs! And no, I still don't care about the Gus G. new solo album.

DAMAGE: 7.75/10


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Liturgy - Aesthethica (2011)

Album | Aesthethica
Country | USA
Genre | Experimental Black Metal
Label | Thrill Jockey Records

This controversial act has been the center of attention of what's hot in the scene the last few years, bringing out their own combination of the indie rock appearance / culture and the black metal sound. If that hasn't already raised a temper for you just by reading it, wait until you hear their rainbow colorful music, which is most complete with Aesthethica but also with their debut Renihilation in 2009. I was planning a discography review package but that split with Oval they released the same year with this is to boring to even go through, so I skipped it and went to the main part, which also contains some of the most known songs by the band.

Even though the production has been cleaned enough in Aesthethica, the repetitive buzz that characterizes Liturgy is still here and stands out offensively in numerous moments in the album. The irregular riffing is aching and confusing, meaninglessly climbing up and down the guitar strings and giving the same fever you might get from listening to a really bad mathcore band. Of course, the drums are trying to catch up in an insane rush and they do succeed, offering their own non-linear playing, which is annoying but at least a bit accurate. I was already frustrated by their previous gruesome records, but this seems about as hard to  listen, for it's so bad and unimpressive.

In order to fully get how weak the song writing is in this album, one can point out the one-note rhythm parts in the songs. If you thought mallcore breakdowns were lame and musically empty, this just fits to the same shelf, as you will come across the same style here, in almost every track of the album. Almost EVERY track of the album, seriously? It will be listened for the first time in the first song "High Gold" and it hurts pretty much, an even worse one will come with "True Will", the introduction of "Returner" keeps it the same, while "Generation" is that rhythm, in the whole track. I wish any of these was good, but a below average melody being played again and again gets the status of ultra boring.

"True Will" is definitely one of the worst songs in the album, especially for it's hysterical introduction. There are acapella voices reminding you of horrible school choir days, when you had to sing something that you hated, the same counts for the last track "Harmonia". Now, that's an element I don't want in my music. It's obvious these guys are trying various interesting tools of composing, and more obvious that they fail from start to finish with anything they touch. Unlikely introducing techniques like the "burst beat", which is more emotional and true in it's nature, worth something more than mockery. I burst into laughter listening / reading about it. 

If all this wasn't enough, Aesthethica lasts an hour and five minutes in total, containing twelve tracks (including the instrumental). What is this after all, is there so much diversity and variety in the album that it needed that much time to unfold? Are there so many compositional ideas that could not fit in a thirty five or forty minute record? It's exactly the opposite, no variety at all anywhere. Instead, most of the tracks define the word monotony and there are so many of them it just gets unbearable. Does "Helix Skull" sound like your regular guitar practise? It might be just that. That song has one washed out, soulless line all in all, whining for two and a half minutes.

The same line goes on and on. More awful clean voice in "Glass Earth", more blasting and nauseating riffs in "Harmonia" and "Red Crown", concluding to be one of the hardest listens I had to do for a long, long time. With the drummer as an exception, who tried his best to do this as rich as possible and provided a decent effort, Aesthethica is repulsive. Apparently, the pseudo intelligent and intellectual concept of the band is another important aspect on it's own, but I let you dig into that and see for your own. Aye. Hyperborean "black metal" is clearly not for me.

DAMAGE: 1.5/10

Monday, March 10, 2014

Liturgy - Renihilation (2009)

Album | Immortal Life EP
Country | USA
Genre | Experimental Black Metal
Label | 20 Buck Spin

The two sides of the Liturgy coin write "love" and "hatred" as there can't be any possible, middle solution of what a person thinks about them. The American press have been praising them as visionary and groundbreaking, due to their normal lifestyle instead of the misanthropic extremity that is used in the black metal scene. It's really not the time and post to analyze why US ass licking webzines disgustingly promote their own bands, but still Renihilation has, at least and undeniably, a new approach to the genre.

Spare me the indignation when I see everyone get obsessed with bands trying new sounds, as if they're avant-garde, experimental and generally respected. What they seem to neglect is whether the new recipe works, as there are a lot of unusual and shitty bands in the world and there is no reason for us to approve them just because they thought something themselves. The first time you listen to this Liturgy, you will know their sound is their own and you will hardly mistake it for another band, but that doesn't make their music good on itself.

It's not the time to elaborate on the elements of black metal itself and how it's constructed and presented either, maybe I'll do that in another post / article. Even a person relatively new to the genre will know that more than musical characteristics collaborate together in order to build a black metal album. Apart from it's distinctive sound, band can be into black metal ideologically, aesthetically and psychologically. A grand example of this is the bands of the first wave, like Venom or Celtic Frost, don't sound anything like the second wave Norwegians, but all can be put together under the same label, for being "black metal" during their time.

That's exactly what the supporters of this band fail to understand, in my opinion. It's true that Liturgy have adopted some musical elements of black metal and their fast-paced moments are almost half as intense, but there's still lot to be done in order to go closer to it's core. And they will never do. This band will work as a bridge for garage rock fans to embrace the dark side or vise versa, as they don't fit in either place completely and I don't think they care to either. What I don't like about them is that they are regarded as the future of the genre, a fresh and awesome experience, when they are so far away from it.

Musically, there is no way that a person into traditional black metal for some time, would be tricked into this. It superficially sounds like it, with it's fast drums, minimalistic melodies and painful vocals. Under close attention though, this strange and bad alteration of the actual sound is just a poor execution and a travesty. I didn't hear any actual black metal apart from the introduction riff of "Arctica" and the title "Pagan Dawn" (not the song, the title). I heard something else, and that's not a negative issue on it's own. That something else is really boring and staggering though, and that's the negative issue of the album.

What I fail to understand with Renihilation is where everyone finds the power and the passion it has, as to me it doesn't  have it at all. No emotions were triggered while listening to this record, not like anything I have felt with the milestone black metal bands that have changed the course of musical history in their own why. This is like tourists in a foreign archaeological location they don't know about. They read it's history, they find it cool, but really it's just a photo, a souvenir and nothing more for them. Liturgy present something new but extremely inferior to black metal and even cascadian black metal, the scene they seem more to fit in.

The typical comments like "trve freaks hate them because they don't wear corpse paint" are stupid and valid at the same time. The theatrical side of the genre is almost as important as the music and tells a lot about a person's character, so kids in tight jeans and colorful shirts is going to be hated very much by the black metal fans. They wouldn't care about Liturgy if they were an indie rock band, but indie rock hipsters walking up and using the concepts of the genre in a distorted way, talking about progress and other shit, it will feel like a violation. "You're fucking with our traditions, man".

So yeah, in a way, corpse paint is not needed but recommended. Or at least the reasons why it was originally used. Behind the blasting noise, Renihilation musically feels rather positive and easygoing, compared to the misanthropy and hatred other black metal bands provoke, it's not that extreme in the first place. Indie black metal, I would say. And it is awful. Aimless, unplanned and in very bad taste. Their music is limited to the dissonant guitar riffs, miserable vocals and keyboard / clean voice interludes, as they will be written in history books, and not as if they feel to play them. There is no spirit whatsoever.

I know I probably won't change anyone's mind but what I want to state is that there is more beauty in black metal than this. I can't support stupid fonts, dull covers and the illusion of aggression, when it's really more than that. Focusing on the music and declining everything else has caused my negative point of view to this band, as well as their mediocre music on it's own, there's too much talking for nothing here. I don't hate them just because they tried different and ideas. I rather loathe their unstable and erratic playing, along with their failing, pseudo ideology.

"We play, like, transcendental black metal, manifesto..."
BULLSHIT you are, asshole.

DAMAGE: 1.75/10

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Liturgy - Immortal Life (2008) [EP]

Album | Immortal Life EP
Country | USA
Genre | Experimental Black Metal / Noise
Label | Infinite Limbs

Liturgy might be one of the main reasons why atmospheric / cascadian black metal has been labeled as hipster black metal over the last few years, for the eccentric statements of their frontman named Hunter Hunt Hendrix. While to me, it's definitely one of the most bland bands in that genre, examining their few releases is a challenge and this very first EP was definitely not expected. Apparently, Hunter chose to experiment with amplifier distortions in his debut mini record named Immortal Life, and created one of the most horrible things I have ever heard in my life.

While it's painful listening to this abomination, one can distinguish some repetitive snare hitting behind the extremely thick, computerized guitar noise, which are like sounds of a broken radio or TV. Literally speaking, there is no rhythm, no melody, no structure and no guide in any part of anything here, it seems so pointless and idiotic, anyone a keyboard and a two string guitar could make it. I guess Triple H tried to create something that would fit in the noise scene, but with drum machines and aching guitars, miserably failing in all. Any "guitar riffs" that can be found, and even calling them like that is disrespectful, are atrocious.

This EP doesn't remind at all of the rest of the atmospheric black metal scene and could more or less be something experimental, or mechanical garbage to fit better. The band had not completely formed back then to the sound that it has today, which is at least distinctive. I guess this so called insightful musician decided to put some of the most unpleasing sound effects together, hit any notes at any time during the inconsistent, short and abrupt tracks, in order to compile this awful, truly awful album. It lasts fourteen minutes and they seem like a century.

The only thing that comes to mind after this horrible experience, is that Liturgy didn't become famous with Immortal Life, but with their debut full length Renihilation. Apparently, the deeply ecologist ideas of an indie douchebag are like a bottle mouse trap for the philosophized listeners of the ages 13-18 years old, and really got something off this band. In any case you want to know what Liturgy is about, this is not an example. This is not an example of any music, it should be left behind and forgotten for the good of all of us. Airplane view sunny clouds suck too. 

DAMAGE: 0/10 (deserves less)

Friday, March 07, 2014

Akrotheism - Behold the Son of Plagues (2014)

Album | Behold the Throne of Plagues
Country | Greece
Genre | Black Metal
Label | Odium Records

| Subhumans anabaptism |

While normally checking for new releases from Greece I found a split of Order of the Ebon Hand with a new to me band named Akrotheism, who had then released nothing but this release and therefore there was only one available song by them. Even though I got into the process of giving it a try for Order of the Ebon Hand, since that was the band I knew and liked, the Akrotheism side won me by far, presenting a really interesting, orthodox thinking black metal track. A newcomer band with members not related to other bands, except one guy that has been to Nethescerial and Aenaon before, is also somehow rare.

With the arrival of their debut full length album Behold the Son of Plagues, it's finally possible to fully experience the band's musical perspective. Akrotheism possess the power of creating dismal chaos, crafting an almost hour long ornament of top notch and straightforward orthodox black metal that deserves a spot among the best albums of Greece. It might be a little early to state that but what I have heard here is effectual and dominant, like a hundred blades sinking into your skin at the same time.

I find it really good that this band focuses on the main metal instrumentation and keeps samples and chanting parts as a second role, unlike many so-called achieving priests of Satan. There is efficient music in Behold the Son of Plagues with a couple of ritualistic ambient moments, nicely put, without stealing more attention than needed from the rest of the piece. As the record is long, they are calm breaks from the distorted intensity that build on it's atmosphere and flow.

I was immediately attracted to the variety of the guitar work here, which contains many poisonous riffs, exactly as they should be done. Drawing influences from Greek and orthodox black metal, this combination is a well oiled machine that serves the purpose of constantly giving out potent lines in an intimidating essence. The record is mostly fast paced with hammering drum playing, only having a couple of slower parts as changes within tracks. Naturally and maybe inevitably, I heard some Deathspell Omega in a few moments, like in the introduction of "Salt of Grace".

While being a first effort, the tracks seem to have the astute ideas of legit modern black metal. They are well written and ideologically heavy, faithful to the spirit of the genre and generally fantastic. As Akrotheism might still be an unknown band, I would speculate that any fan of such bands will really enjoy this to the last bit. Despite being forward-thinking, the band chooses to cover Ved Buens Ende's "To Swarm Deserted Away", which is played in a unique and entertaining way.

I had a good feeling about this by the time I saw it's intriguing cover art and now I know it's remarkable. Greek bands have been releasing some killer albums so far in 2014 (mentioning Aenaon, Hail Spirit Noir and Burial Hordes as examples) and this is yet another come, seemingly coming out of nowhere. Akrotheism serve as a support band in a Ravencult gig nearby and I'm already there, to say the least.

DAMAGE: 8.5/10


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Nocturnal - Storming Evil (2014)

Album | Storming Evil
Country | Germany
Genre | Black / Thrash Metal
Label | High Roller Records Records

| Tyrants of damnation |

Among my favorite bands of the twenty first century in the black / thrash territories are the Germans Nocturnal, who crushed my brain with their debut Arrival of the Carnivore in 2004 and have been under my radar ever since. The band is busy releasing mini-records but had not offered anything for three years now, before putting their third full length album Storming Evil not long ago. Germany has an excellent history in thrash metal and a notable one in black, so filthy bands out of these lands are always good to check out.

One of the characteristics that I find very appealing in this band is their comfort with the necessary variety of riffs and melodies in their music, which always delivers a lively and old-school feeling, no matter how clean the sound is. The fact is that it's quite polished here but still, I erased any possible complaints with the first listen, an immediate hook up. They achieve more than any average band of their genre with their evident and memorable guitar lines, which enrich each song to it's full capacity. Tracks such as "Rising Demons", "Perish in Darkness", "Storm from the Graves" deserve being called black / thrash jewels.

There is a noteworthy musical harmony in Nocturnal that makes this album very easy to enjoy, as if the tracks are placed in the perfect positions and everything is executed as it was meant to be. I didn't find a dull moment or two, where I thought "ok, nice part but very much in the borders of the genre", all of it is fully entertaining, even for someone who has heard a hundred bands of the same philosophy. I also want to pinpoint the kick ass job done by the vocalist, who has a very powerful throat for shrieked / harsh vocals, but doesn't miss the eighties falsettos from time to time, making his role as important as the one of the guitars.

Storming Evil was better than I first thought it would be and it already is some of the best material I have listened lately, in terms of underground poser-free metal. Arrival of the Carnivore will always be unique in my heart but this one is also way above average, full of energy and diverse, in it's own way. By now, I have full faith that Nocturnal will never disappoint me with a full length and I will have something to jam on for quite a while, taking breaks from my busy playlists. This record is impressive at first sight and grows on you as you listen too, so beware.

DAMAGE: 9/10


Monday, March 03, 2014

Mass Infection - For I Am Genocide (2014)

Album | For I Am Genocide
Country | Greece
Genre | Brutal Death Metal
Label | Comatose Music

| Nihilism reigns |

I have waited too long for the new album of this band, as there were news about it for more than a year now, with the crushing art of George Prasinis released early enough to make it even harder to wait. The third Mass Infection record comes five years after The Age of Recreation in 2009, which was truly a remarkable example of solid modern / brutal death metal and it's title is For I Am Genocide, because that's what it is. It's steady nature of brutality and ear violating attitude certainly delivers one more time.

The sound of For I Am Genocide is loud and clear. Enough attention is given to the vocals, which play an Immolation-type role to the tracks, keeping their deep growling tones exactly into place and above all in each an every second featuring them. The instruments are also quite polished, to the levels of any death metal band of our time and is characterized by a like-minded production as well, maximizing the volume no matter what. Mass Infection have had good sound in their albums before and nothing more or less was expected now.

In case it happens to be one of the most popular death metal bands coming from Greece, they honor their reputation with this hammering record. All the compositions have plenty of fierce riffs and fast-paced blast beats, taking the art of shredding a bit further than what we were used of them doing. They come with faster, well worked and technical parts this time, just to add to the overall power of their abilities, leaning towards the nowadays American scene and not that much of the Swedish / European old-school patterns.

For I Am Genocide lasts thirty five minutes and contains nine tracks of two to four minute tracks, except the last "The Genocide Revealed" which goes over six. There is enough variety in the songs so that it doesn't get repetitive, even though they maintain some similar ideas expanded from a different angle each time. I don't see why these guys can reach less greatness of glorious death metal bands we all know, as their new album is more than legit for the genre and not only. Once again, Mass Infection are impressive. My wait was not in vein.

DAMAGE: 8.5/10