Sunday, May 29, 2022

Vengeance sown - Interview with Guyođ

New blood is boiling in the Austrian underground as dissonant / weight-of-the-ocean-heavy death metal band Guyođ introduce themselves with two tracks in their debut split release with Lehm, named Alluvial Soil. Drawing inspiration from the depths, initial listens evince a recipe of potent atmosphere, well-structured material and whole-hearted drive from people who take the project rather seriously. A small discussion between them and Arson Cafe reveals some of the band's background and intentions.

  • Welcome, feel free to give a short introduction of your band.

We are GUYOĐ from Graz, Austria. We summon our subaqueous Death Metal from the wet, dark depths of the oceans, where no light, no color, no man resides. 

  • What is the meaning behind your name? You are probably correcting everyone who is trying to pronounce it...

We wanted to come up with a term which describes our music and our lyrical topic briefly and precisely. We stumbled over the word ‘guyot’, which stands for a dead underwater volcano, abraded to a table mount by the tides. We simply changed the spelling to make the band’s name stand out more and create further confusion. There is not even full consent within the band as to how to pronounce our name. Pick your favorite version.

  • It seems Guyođ have lyrics mainly about aquatic subject matters. While a topic present in the underground metal scene (Ahab or Grond come to mind), it is still not one that tops popularity. What is your personal approach on this concept?

Our music is meant to evoke the feeling of being lost in the vastness of the great unknown and being subjected to powers beyond our imagination. Basically, that’s just what the oceans are, a terrifying, overwhelming ‘terra incognita’ – we know more about certain regions on the moon than about the deepest places in the oceans. It’s just an intriguing topic to delve into and deal with.

  • Alluvial Soil, your first split release with compatriots Lehm, has been out for a few months now. How has the feedback been so far?

We got some very favorable comments on this our first output. Nevertheless, there’s still work to be done to spread the word further. After all, our two songs on the split are just precursors to the storm that is gathering on the horizon.

  • There's a thick atmosphere and hints of more dissonant song writing in Guyođ. What are your musical influences?

Even though we do not sound much like most of the following bands, we get inspiration from the musical approaches and the atmosphere evoked by: Mayhem, Opeth, Marduk, Lvcifyre, Craft, Type O Negative, Immolation, Sulphur Aeon and many, many more.

  • Is Vepar, a name featured in your first track "Into the Temple of Vepar", a reference to the demon from Ars Goetia? What would be some literature suggestions you would give to a fan of your music?

Yes, it is exactly THAT Vepar! The idea was actually given to us by the wonderful artist behind the jewelry label ‘Temple of Vepar’.  Also, good question about literature. In order not to mention the usual suspects, try “Leviathan, or the Whale” by Philip Hoare, “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski, “Les Chants de Maldoror” by Lautréamont or the poems of Charles Baudelaire.

  • How does your material come together? Is it a linear procedure with equal contribution among all members, or you have a main composer?

Our guitarist Dohrn is the main songwriter who has been writing the basic ideas for all of our songs so far. He usually comes up with about 90%-finished songs, but in the rehearsal room we figure out collectively how these ideas work out in ‘real life’. Sometimes we change more, sometimes we change less, but the ultimate product is a collaborative one. Some of our lyrics so far have been written by Dohrn, others by our singer Ōjin. We also have some remnants from our early days, created by our former singer Miron.

  • What is the current status of the band, are you putting any new material together, that you can share with us? Is there an EP or full length in the works?

We are currently finishing the writing process for our first album, so we are planning on starting recording later this year. Most of these songs are finished and we play some of the material live already.

  • You have already taken part in some local shows in your hometown Graz in Austria. Are there any plans for further touring this year?

Meanwhile, we have played concerts in Vienna, Gleisdorf and Maribor, Slovenia - besides the mentioned ones in Graz, of course. Even though we are extremely hungry for the stage, we are currently focusing on getting the album to the finishing line. But reckon to hear from us in the near future…

  • Thank you for your time. Close the interview as you wish!

We are very grateful for the opportunity to introduce ourselves to your readers and answer some questions. Those interested are recommended “enjoying” our eerie music videos created by Cartismandua on Youtube, or simply listening to our music on Bandcamp. While there, get a hold of our tapes, while we still got some.

Listen on Bandcamp | Youtube

Friday, May 20, 2022

Blut Aus Nord - Disharmonium: Undreamable Abysses (2022)

I have this feeling that by now, Blut Aus Nord's music is driven by a pre-defined musical direction that serves the content itself, rather than an artistic cleansing of the mastermind behind it. Of course this project is massive, with a distinct presence in the black metal scene, and even when a disappointment comes along, you can't ignore the overflowing passion Vindsval has for his music. Yet, I realized recently that I haven't enjoyed Blut Aus Nord that much since 2014, and even before that, there is only sparse material through a maze of releases that are worth it.

Right of the bat, you will get what you want in Disharmonium: Undreamable Abysses. Thankfully, the bittersweet roaming that was ongoing in Hallucinogen has ended and this record is more focused this time. Fretless guitar torture has come back with a vengeance, and it's excessively used to create the haunting atmosphere Blut Aus Nord have been experts of for a couple of decades. Lyrics are almost not needed and rarely used, it's mostly these flowing, vivid riffs that continuously pummel their way through the ears, constituting a rather nightmarish listen in a good way. At least, that's what a new Blut Aus Nord listener will experience.

For me, the same everlasting issue is also carried along in Undreamable Abysses: once you listen to the first two tracks (which are the highlights, worthy of being in a Blut Aus Nord playlist and to be listened again), you have heard the best this record has to offer. It starts repeating itself, slowing down unnecessarily and too often, and what starts as a hellish storm fades out as a bland replica of itself, but just worse. Even the titles don't mean anything to me anymore, as it seems like these words together would sound cool for this kind of record, rather than Vindsval actually expressing something. I get this weird emptiness from the current face of the band, which I wouldn't feel in the past. I mean, listen to Dialogue with the Stars and tell me if it doesn't piledrives you to oblivion.

I expect a lot of praise for this record, and it has a few good elements. For example, one point that you can never take away from them, is the visuals. All art and designs are impeccable, I am going to buy this album just for the front cover. I don't know what Blut Aus Nord should do to become solid again as they seemingly continue strong, yet I can't recognize the greatness that once was and definitely can't feel an album such as Undreamable Abysses after the third track. Even a boring release from them is still something I might return to once in a while and it's hasn't ever been completely ineffectual (with a few exceptions), but my long standing opinion on Blut Aus Nord hasn't changed. They release something of greatness, only when Memoria Vetusta is used in the title.

DAMAGE: 2.5/5 [Average]

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sacred Son - The Foul Deth of Engelond (2022)

For the first time in their discography so far, Sacred Son make a significant stylistic change of heart when deciding for an album cover art, a topic that was on its own a topic of discussion up to now. We were used to seeing rather earthly, social media-like personal pictures so far, which not only didn't remind of a black metal band at all, they wouldn't fit (unlike the music) any category of the "extreme" scene or anything even remote to that. At the same time, that was the most eye-catching point of the band for me, as the music itself was, at the times when it wasn't just clear reproduction of already known atmospheric / black metal, just uninspiring.

To be fair, the cover of The Foul Deth of Engelond is now amazing. The story behind this conceptual album is also really intriguing, covering the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, an important event in the history of England, and with a clear social predilection that is still relevant today, and more and more vocal within extreme metal. In that sense, I am totally for the turn Sacred Son have taken with their latest album. However, the band's material is still carrying the same problematic ends I have found in their previous works, and while having a handful of potent moments, it is in general a rather mediocre effort.

All tracks (apart from an one minute introduction) are long in duration and have multiple segments stapled together. There is a sense of flow which isn't perfect, but not completely out of balance either, as there are dots connecting the different parts together. Sacred Son's formula is easy to follow, and one can listen to it in the album's first two tracks, which are basically identical: middle paced build up moments, intense fast tempos with pale keyboards in the back, and back to slow or too slow sections that sometimes overstay their welcome.

For example, the ending of the self-titled track is clearly too long and without any kind of change, filling up a couple of extra minutes for no apparent reason. At the same time, the earlier, faster part is decent, and the same goes for "La Blakheth", which has a really dull introduction but a bit more intriguing guitar activity towards the middle (yet, something you have definitely heard before), before going back to slow-tempos of too many repetitions. The vocals are generally weak, and these two tracks specifically, have a kind of whispering / breathing into the microphone technique that I thought was horrible.

The Foul Deth of Engelond continues with an equally turbulent track that is unsure in itself what atmosphere to evoke (a general problem of the album, it's clear and without a substantial atmosphere at any point despite the attempts). By "Vengeance I & II", the album's last track, Sacred Son have completely given up, that track is basically nine minutes of waiting for a main part that never comes. Apart from the rhythmic introduction with male / female clean vocals, which makes you want to listen to late Wolves in the Throne Room or Wardruna, this track is by far the weakest here.

From the record, I enjoyed the more violent moments. However, they are scrambled together with a lot of slow-paced monotony, too many smaller elements that don't add up (piano, samples, unfortunately don't work) and a clear weakness of understanding of how to take a certain approach. The Foul Deth of Engelond remains as another boring Sacred Son album that I'm not going to listen to again, yet I was satisfied that I saw such a nice design and tracks with interesting lyrics for once. That they know well.

DAMAGE: 2.5/5 [Average]

Friday, May 13, 2022

Primitive Man - Insurmountable EP (2022)

It has happened that I have turned off a Primitive Man record, especially their early material, just because of how empty and long the compositions were. At the same time, when they aim more accurately, their absolutely crushing side becomes more prevalent. 

While I enjoyed their last couple of albums, I still think a major issue of this band is the length and the monotony of their work, which is always too much for too little. Funnily enough, this EP is longer than their last full length Immersion, and it includes a Smashing Pumpkins cover of the song "Quiet", but you will not recognize it.

Insurmountable that the equally scourging production of their recent works, and the same musical approach, so not much have changed: the second track "Boiled" is a solid noise / dark ambient piece, "Cage Intimacy" is borderline boring but a certain fan pleaser, the opener "This Life" is the actually legit and enjoyable piece and "Quiet" surpasses the notion of a cover, it's vastly different, it didn't fully fit to my ears and just makes you want to listen to the actual Smashing Pumpkins

Therefore, this EP is a hit and miss for me, I'm taking away the first track and probably nothing more. But still, just for the average amount of heaviness they manage, it's a pass.

Label: Closed Casket Activities
Country: USA
Release date: May 13th, 2022
Website: Facebook

DAMAGE: 3/5 [Good]

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Nechochwen - Kanawha Black (2022)

Nechochwen definitely take their time creating new material and their discography might be short but very efficient, as they have had a rather splendid series of full length albums since their debut, Algonkian Mythos in 2008, especially their latest work, 2015’s Heart of Akamon. I was also impressed by their side on the split with Panopticon in 2020, which made me re-run the band’s earlier records while waiting for their next chapter. Kanawha Black now arrives seven years after its predecessor, and not only doesn’t disappoint, but has some of the most well-worked Nechochwen have put together in the project’s lifetime.

Once started as a pure neofolk / acoustic band, such elements still resonate very strongly in Nechochwen’s music. The record has plenty of melodic, almost purely acoustic chunks with enjoyable clean vocals, which are sometimes used exclusively (for example, in “The Murky Deep” and “I Can Die But Once”) but also as parts of longer compositions. The production glorifies the band’s earthy sound and emphasizes the variety of melodies Nechochwen employ, in a record that is by no means down lifting but rather epic and of great conceptual concept. Apart from the slightly more surprising short piece “A Cure for the Winter Plagues”, which has the pattern and deep growls of a funeral doom metal track, most tempos in Kanawha Black are middle / fast paced and its flow is impeccable. 

When the tracks get more direct and closer to clear black metal, there is always a set of dominating, blistering guitars that completely lay on folk / atmospheric black directions, yet don’t imagine the use of extra instruments to achieve an atmosphere. Shrieked vocals are awesome and the song structures are especially appealing, as it is demonstrated in “Visions, Dreams and Signs” or the opening, self-titled. The last part of Kanawha Black features another set of two amazing pieces, “Generations of War” and “Across the Divide”, which include all the fine tools of the band’s arsenal combined together in a quite successful way. I would personally prefer more screaming than singing especially in the distorted guitar parts, yet that is only personal, it doesn't really take any merit from the final work away.

It has been proven before that Nechochwen a really powerful band and their newest work is surely compelling at all levels. Not the average folk black project, full of interesting ideas and intense compositions with great riffs and some soloing only when needed, and not as a means of making an impression of skill. Kanawha Black is, as their previous works, strongly connected to nature and would make great company for a short hike out in the woods. 

Label: Bindrune Recordings
Country: Canada
Release date: May 13th, 2022
Website: Facebook

DAMAGE: 4/5 [Excellent]