Sunday, August 30, 2020

Whoredom Rife - Ride the Final Tide / Pakt

Apparently, Whoredom Rife have another full length in the works and until then, this EP was released with material that depicts the "more aggressive side of the band" and for that were not meant to be included in that album. Their previous works have been notable to say the least, yet I am wondering about the direction of the new record just from that statement. In the meantime, they released a fully acoustic EP at the end of 2019 and a split with almighty Taake a few months ago, named Pakt. This new EP features two tracks, "Ride the Final Tide" and a cover of "Maanens Natt" by Manes, from their first and monumental for Norwegian black metal album, 1999's Under ein blodraud maane. Whoredom Rife covered this gem of a track wonderfully, they implemented background layers with synths / chants behind the slow-paced main melodies, and they played all of the original's parts with the guitars (if you've heard Manes's version, you will surely remember the vivid keyboard sessions). This choice makes the song slightly darker than what it was, more in the territory of Whoredom Rife themselves. As for the self-titled track, it is worth mentioning that it has a video clip that is actually bearable to watch. That said, it's fairly fast and full of great riffing, you won't be shocked but it isn't conceivably an unpleasant banger. 

For Pakt, it's another two new songs by the band, this time including one in Norwegian "En Lenke Smidd i Blod" (=A Link Forged in Blood"). This tune employs more melancholic guitar lines, placed in middle speed and gets more and more epic as it progresses, before concluding Whoredom Rife's side with an acoustic outro. On the other hand, the opening "From the Nameless Pagan Graves", undoubtedly heavier, is as violent as Whoredom Rife usually get. I'm not going to deal with Taake's indifferent part in this that much, however if you're a Sisters of Mercy fanatic, maybe you would find the cover of "Heartland" interesting. I don't know if these mini-releases set the ground for the upcoming full length of Whoredom Rife, but I wish the material in there will at least be of the same quality. The band has been on a good trajectory since their first steps, trying hard to bring their country's scene to the forefront, and it's one of the bands that can actually deliver with their music as well. 

August 28th, 2020 | Terratur Possessions

Listen to Ride the Final Tide:

Monday, August 24, 2020

Precambrian - Tectonics

This is the second time it's happening. Back in the middle of 2019, one day I decided to re-listen to Wintewolf's debut Cycle of the Werewolf (which was also my first vinyl purchase) and at the end of that post, I was wondering about the future of this project, if there was any. Soon afterwards, they surprise released a second full length (review here), which had me scratching my head as if it was a joke then. Fast forward to this year's May, I also re-listened to Precambrian's discography up to date, the two EPs they released in 2014 and 2016, through the 2019 compilation that contained them. In my thoughts, this compilation was more of a concluding mark for the band, but little did I know that they were about to start on fresh, with not an EP, but an actual full length this time. 

When the album's single Cryogenian was released some time ago, I didn't believe my eyes that another side-project I was very much into and recently wrote a post about, spawned a full length unexpectedly. Tectonics is barely half an hour long, it contains five new tracks from the band, which has chosen the stripped down, straightforward and combative approach they have been following since day one. Thematics revolving around climatology and geology, thick sound and often incredibly heavy tunes is what characterizes Precambrian, unlike their members' other projects that tend to infuse a lot of melancholy and melody in their music. Though you will not find that kind of atmosphere here, with Tectonics there are some concealed, well placed melodic parts in the songs, that turn events into more epic directions.

For those new to Precambrian, prepare to be met with material that is dense and hostile, where the tools are simple: potent repetitive riffing, hard hitting drums and above all, monstrous growls and screams. The vocals take the record to a different dimension (the singer's growls have been a long time favorite of mine) and make the already impressive, minimalist structures of the compositions even stronger. Moments in "Fossilization", "Archaebacteria" or "Cryogenian" feel like a bulldozer, in a way that is almost rare to find in black metal nowadays. Precambrian have not chosen a color outside black - grey - white - black yet, they don't talk about the typical uninteresting subjects you are used to and above all, are talented in what they do.

"Volcanic Winter", a rather interesting phenomenon on its own, is also a highlight track. Traces of the aforementioned melody are present, along with some of the most monotonous parts of the album, and it works great. One will notice how abruptly tracks get cut when they end, as if there was a continuation that is not in the final mix, a choice that I sense was done consciously and aims to not have a comfortable flow. In normal conditions I would be alienated by this, but Precambrian is not the project that aims for anything different than what they offer. Since this project is very specific musically, I don't know how they want to continue with it but a synth based album, Ildjarn style, would be interesting to hear.

Once you've taken a course in Hate Forest's albums, the next step would naturally be to check and invest into this rather quiet an unknown side project from the universe of Drudkh. Not many bands sound like them and there is nothing friendly in this album, in a sense its release was a very satisfying event for me and another secret wish I had came true. By all means a release that is worth your time, especially if you are into underground extreme metal and you're looking for elements that have been coming and going the recent years during the musical expansion of the genre. Precambrian creates its own thick layer, with hardly any outliers. And for that reason, Tectonics can be assimilated and appreciated as it should. 

August 21st, 2020 | Primitive Reaction

Listen to Tectonics:

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Primitive Man - Immersion

Three years after Caustic, Primitive Man releases an album which is half as long in duration, and also the shortest of their three full lengths, including the debut Scorn from 2013. For some reason, this was the first characteristic that drew my attention before getting into Immersion, which has already been widely praised by everyone who knows this band. Primitive Man have been relatively active in between the full lengths with a lot of split releases, most of them with quite interesting underground artists, however I have to admit it's only Scorn and Caustic that I had heard of them until now (and of course, the cover of "Sweet Leaf"). The band dictates its own law with immeasurable heaviness, playing one of the most direct and ugliest forms of doom out there, and to even call it like this feels slightly out of place. Doom metal can be beautiful.

The sludge / noise combination of elements, widely used by bands from the United States in the recent years, along with openly expressive lyrical negativity, has been a weird growing trend over there. Primitive Man leave no space for anyone to doubt their sincerity though, and this comes from someone who wouldn't claim to be their biggest fan. For the first time with this band for me, I gave them points and acknowledged the album's title being aligned with its effect, as Immersion can get quite immersive. The band's music was harder to follow with Caustic, a record which was over an hour. The content has been distilled multiple times now and the result is more consistent, more solid, and not at all less violent.

For its own sake, Immersion has an amazing production. The natural and pleasing sound of the drums makes each snare hit directly through your heart, the monstrous growls are unsettling, and the guitars are ripping all along during the album. No unwanted dust can be found in the overall sound, except when Primitive Man wants it to be there. Noise touches are of course present like before, especially in "∞", even though the real terrifying moments for me with Immersion are when they play faster. Parts of the closing track "Consumption" and the introduction of "Menacing" (one of my favorite tracks from them by now) display this clearly. At the same time, most of Immersion is painfully slow, putting shame to a big chunk of the scene that includes bands that even touch the same musical subgenres.

Arguing that Primitive Man got more accessible is false argument, they just got better. The tracks in Immersion are all memorable and they co-exist in one album perfectly. As a band that can achieve heaviness like no other, one couldn't say that the same verdict has not been delivered once again. Generally, I do believe that bands from the US today tend to get too much promotion and too much praise. Especially experimental artists, who touch a bit of grindcore / black metal / noise, seem to get into a wave that favors them even though the music is supposedly extreme. On the other hand, Primitive Man I can stand and admire. Immersion could be their best album to date, not much more to say for it.

August 14th, 2020 | Relapse Records

Listen to Immersion:

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Kriegsmaschine - Deathdriven: Archive 2006 - 2010

By releasing this compilation, Kriegsmaschine now have a really tidy discography: Prism: Archive 2002 - 2004, released in 2014, covers all their material prior to the debut Altered States of Divinity, this one covers the two splits they released in between the debut and Enemy of Man, and the rest are the infamous full lengths. Neither the split with Infernal War nor the split with Szron come quickly to mind when thinking of the band, especially when they have released such monstrous albums recently, yet the quality of the material is equally powerful and in a structural sense, even more approachable than the slow-paced yoke they enforce with what came afterwards. In this time period, Kriegsmaschine laid the foundation and were slowly taking form, before exploding with Enemy of Man in 2014, one of the best black metal albums of all time. 

Deathdriven starts "backwards", as the first thing featured is the Transfigurations split that was originally released in 2010. Both tracks are massive, the guitar work is exceptional and the evoking atmosphere is naturally closer to what was composed for the full length that followed. These two pieces are hidden gems in the band's discography and they get along really well together, how one gives way to the next almost feels like it is one whole piece. "Onward Destrudo" has this KSM crushing tempo and quite memorable riffing here and there, while "Fear and Loathing in Gesthemane" can't help but make someone wonder where they thought of the title? Could be slight reference to the unconventional black comedy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the eight minute song describes Christ's struggle from an absolutely human, regretting angle, but I think it doesn't really depict Kriegsmaschine's finest lyrical work. On the other hand, "Onward Destrudo" is perfect in all sections.

Following are the three tracks from the Szron split from 2006, and they lay in the same area as the material from the album they are closest to, Altered States of Divinity. The familiar, painful shouting vocals, along with chants, are present, at times the band goes full speed, which became sparser and sparser until it completely disappeared later on. This is an extra reason to listen to this compilation if you're a fan of the band mainly for the latest records. For example, parts of "E" as well as "The Fall in All its Glory" employ the traditional black metal framework of frenetic speed. The lyrics are nothing less than impressive and the talent of this band in general, gloriously shines through this release.

Sometimes compilations are void of meaning, but Deathdriven is a good opportunity for you to purchase and own this part of Kriegsmaschine's discography. The five tracks contained have been possibly left on the shelf due to the exposure the last two full lengths have gotten, but I don't see anything lesser here in terms of quality. A blast from the recent past to remind their audience of their early endeavors, and to never skip a mini-release. In my opinion, Deathdriven is totally worth it and makes up of a fine listen, something that is quite rare among compilations even from well-acclaimed bands.

Find it here: No Solace Store

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Converging singularity - Interview with Utkena

Whoever listened to Utkena's EP last year, The Firmament's Hand, should have been very positively predisposed for their debut full length Nex Fornix, released this June on Pest Productions. They offered an even more compelling listen on this record and showed that they are currently in a great orbit, as a band that is quickly rising and growing with top-notch material. References can be found when listening to their music, yet the sound of Utkena is definitely unique and sincere, making them a group that is worth the attention of everyone in the underground. In this interview, concepts behind the band and the album were discussed, as well as the ongoing situation and their plans.


Wednesday, August 05, 2020

On Myrkur's "M"

This is a piece I wrote five years ago when Myrkur released her debut album M, through Relapse Records. During the period 2014 - 2015 there was a lot of talking around this project and especially their initial self-titled EP, there was still a lot of mystery surrounding it so the actual first full length was a bit of a big deal. The following was more of a rant, a series of thoughts I had for the record and its conditions, unfiltered and not written down as proper text, but more like a reaction. I hadn't posted it here then and it's interesting to read it in retrospect, half a decade later with more Myrkur material to contemplate upon. 


A new Myrkur release inside 2015 was a given in my mind, when I was thinking of upcoming releases back in the beginning of the year. With the ridiculous amount of promotion this project got when the debut, self-titled EP was released in 2014, it was only reasonable to continue and bring together a full album while the news are hot. It seems like this Danish woman managed to draw the attention of the whole metal scene and with her brainchild “M”, all the hype and the fame is put to the test.

The record contains eleven new compositions and a total length of thirty six minutes of music, sticking to Danish titles instead of English, as in the EP. It was produced by Ulver's Garm, a person who has stayed close to the band from the start and naturally, Myrkur remind of Ulver a lot. I would not hesitate to say they reach the magnificence of Ulver's early discography, but it is in the same spectrum and that's good for the fans. The core of “M” is it's atmosphere, which is built by ambient sounds, ethereal vocals and the slow-paced guitar melodies. One can understand the essence of the record if one looks at Amalie Bruun's musical roots. She has stated that she grew up with classical and choral music, and how “M” is a combination of classical music and the traditional black metal feels of nature, mountains and forests, rivers and fogs. So, if you can imagine spending time alone in the forests of Denmark, this could easily be the soundtrack of the adventure. Being a pianist as well, there are a lot of moments of keyboards around the album too.

What seperates it and makes the sound distinctive is definitely the vocals. There are multi-layered choral vocals everywhere, much more often than the harsh black metal screams and I believe it's what characterizes the album and the musician behind it. There are tracks with vocals only, like “Vølvens spådom” and “Byssan lull”, which combines her supernal voice with a soft piano line. Apart from Garm, there are other famous musicians involved in the record, like Teloch from Mayhem and Øyvind Myrvoll from Nidingr. In “Mordet”, which is one of the most direct metal tracks of the record, no other than Christopher Amott of Arch Enemy did some of the guitar parts. “M” is mostly middle paced and it's guitar lines are close to post-black metal and a bit of doom, at some points and some riffs. It's soft and dreamy for the most part. It flows naturally, even when it gets angrier, like in parts of the first two tracks or in the penultimate, “Skaði”. The outro is a melancholic and lovely piano piece that I absolutely enjoyed.

However, after spending time on it, it hasn't quite settled and it hasn't left me impressed. It's not like the times when you listen to Wodensthrone and you feel it in your bones, you feel like “yes this is atmospheric pagan black metal”. It is one of the times that you are baffled by a band's reputation compared to their music. Myrkur are already an act everyone knows and when you listen to the music, you know it's Myrkur for sure. Amalie has fused her tastes perfectly and she has created a wonderful, easy-listening record that praises, above all, nature and many people will be blown away. In hindsight though, I'm not sure if I myself am completely convinced with the result. Some elements are somehow rudimentary (like some of the guitar ideas) and it holds a position where, it unfolds a bit of a more violent side with excellent screams but then again focuses on the melodic, clean atmosphere. I would like more intense black metal in the record and the record itself demands it at times. With it's strong moments, it also has other parts where it's just generic.

I was frustrated with the way Relapse treated Myrkur, giving them so much push everywhere with advertisements, mini movies and bold statements like “the future of black metal”. Really? This is surely NOT the future of black metal. I would label the band being much of black metal either, apart from a couple of aforementioned tracks, since the influences from atmospheric, classical and folk music are stronger in my opinion. In fact, this is less black metal than Myrkur was in the EP. Amalie's music is unrestrained and tricking fans into believing this is black metal does not stand well for me. It was all about a mysterious female nymph living in the woods and creating music, for some time the world didn't know her identity and I felt like it was all an income driven manipulation for the metal listeners.

With the explosion of atmospheric black metal the recent years (and many bands being born for this reason only, sadly I don't know if Myrkur come from that basket yet) I'm gonna be mentioning again and again the French act Alcest, because they should finally get the attention they deserve. As for Myrkur, I think “M” is a “proper” album that fits its purpose and will get solid feedback. Many people, and most of them outside black metal or even metal, will totally dig its content. Then again, I don't consider it a groundbreaking record and the next big thing. I will recommend it around for people to see for themselves and I have picked standout tracks like “Skøgen skulle dø” and “ Skaði” but that's about it. The story of a “black metal girl” reaching the stars of the metal world with her music black metal is nice indeed, but I would not approach the record like that. At all. 

It would have been much more fruitful for her to go full neofolk and release a purely acoustic record of some sort, without any metal elements. 


I'm quite happy to see that last sentence actually came true now in 2020, with Myrkur's latest release Folkesange. In a few days, M will turn five years old and whether it will still stand in some time from now (or if it is even standing now) is something for you to think about.

Listen to M:

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Black Curse - Endless Wound

April 2020 | Sepulchral Voice Records

All too often go supergroups get formed, and all too often they crush and burn. The first time I heard Black Curse's demo in late 2019 I had no clue about the band members and kind of moved on after I listened to it a couple of times, noticing some rather good tracks but that was it. Only when the debut Endless Wound came around in April, I noticed the talk the album raised and looked closer to the line up, which includes people from impressive bands in modern underground extreme metal from the US (specifically: Spectral Voice, Khemmis, Primitive Man, Blood Incantation). However, the record would have been an even bigger bummer if it didn't deliver, yet it totally does. Black Curse stomp through with a murky, aggressive approach to black / death metal, with generous doses of slower rhythm parts that bring up a little bit of doom, highly venomous solos all around and above all, the most amazing characteristic of it, the vocals (courtesy of Eli Wendler - Spectral Voice). The awesome growls and paranoid shrieks take the compositions to another level (listen to the ending of "Seared Eyes", which is just one example), still the album holds a lot of intensity and power from the very first moments "Charnel Rift" comes in. Everything does its part properly, from the cavernous production to the thick, powerful compositions, and it gets better and better the more you listen to it. Apart from an instrumental track in between ("Lifeless Sanctum") which is a bit repetitive, the rest of Endless Wound is on point, backed up by top-notch music and lyrics of desperation. Great work from musicians who have been very active the recent years.

Listen to Endless Wound: