Monday, December 19, 2022

Albums of the Year 2022

"Aye", the eldest of the owls answers softly. "They are still glittering in the night of those who tread the path of solar solitude. To the rest - to the flock - they are already dead and all but forgotten."
- Lines from The Long Defeat.

Monday, December 05, 2022

A realm at the edge of sanity - Interview with Elminster / Ithildin Tape Production

I was already a few years in the blog cosmos when the first posts of Andrew Werdna surfaced on his now historic website, describing a certain style of dark / fantasy ambient with forlorn medieval aesthetics and initially coining the term "dungeon synth". The genre, initially loosely consisting of side projects of musicians of the second wave of black metal, has undergone a time period of rebirth and reform the last 10 years, with more and more projects and dedicated labels coming up and honouring the forgotten art of the cassette tape. And if you've followed this micro scene even a little bit lately, the name Elminster will surely ring a bell. Restless and with seemingly unceasing inspiration, an abundance of projects are maintained almost solely by one musician, Maeglin Aumar, all at the same time, releasing material quite often and a lot throughout the year, while maintaining his own tape label Ithildin Tape Production too. Under different monikers, he experiments with a wide array of musical templates, spanning from dark ambient, to dusty hip hop, to dungeon synth, to raw black metal, and all over again. Elminster agreed to a discussion that includes an extensive description of his artistic presence, his motives, insight on past releases and a glimpse into the future.


Thursday, December 01, 2022

Autophagy - Bacteriophage Review

Experienced members in the modern sludge / doom / death metal scene comprise Portland's Autophagy, who caught the attention back in 2018 with an initial, quite solid first demo release. In the form of Bacteriophage, the band presents a concise debut full length album with a simplistic but effective formula: Swedish death'n'roll and old school death metal, with some doom metal touches, all drenched in down-tuned, grisly sound directly from the swamps only meant to disgust you. The magnificent cover art was catered by Brazilian designer Marcio Blasphemator, it immediately catches the eye and thankfully the material inside doesn't disappoint. Again, Bacteriophage doesn't overstep its own boundaries, so after a couple of tracks, you know what you're in for. Wonderful hidden guitar solos arise here and there (for example in "Beneath the Moss, Between the Roots") but for the most part, the whole record is one giant groove with a handful of faster and even less slower parts, but at least executed quite adequately. Doom / death metal glory resides in the self-titled track and the latter part of "Sacrificial Spawn, which also includes speedier tempos as in "Eviscerated Remains", "Abhorrent Abomination" and "Dawn of the Endless Plague". Tunes like "Return to the Charnal Hall" sit comfortably sit in what basically is pure death'n'roll, and "Becoming" has a little bit of everything, which actually is the case for all the tracks in Bacteriophage, and points out their tolerance in combining these few elements that make up the record. I was never overwhelmed by massive musical insight when listening to this, but all the tracks maintain a certain level of ugliness that is always admirable in death metal and its own kind of beauty, which I think shines with Autophagy and their neat debut. Hats off to the deep growls of the singer as well, who never dared to exit the cave when recording these vocals, and why would he. [3.5/5 - Great]