Sunday, April 30, 2023

Hacavitz - Venganza

Debut album by this still unknown act from Mexico, honoring the classic death / black metal recipe that always works as a test pill for old school freaks to test if the rest of us are posers or not.

Lyrical themes include darkness, evil forces, hatred, also in nahuatl, the native language of their area. Furious riffs, angry attitude, quite good album.

For fans of Morbid Angel and anything underground. 

Track listing:

1. Nightwinds
2. Ultimate Covenant
3. Tsita Ndäte
4. Fathom Thee Eerie
5. Old Rancor
6. Lusting the Dead ov the Nite
7. Venganza
8. Mixtla Miquixtli
9. Lighting Bolts ov Dead
10. Viaje a Mictlan

Monday, April 24, 2023

Perished - Seid

On today's episode of old Norwegian black metal you might have missed even when you thought you had listened to everything, the host's suggestion looks into a lesser known band with not a lot of releases but a hell of a lot of wit. 

Perished from Hommelvik, only put two full length albums out, a couple of demos and a couple of neat EPs, with Seid being the final but most complete work. In the vein of early Enslaved, Gehenna and Hades, there's even distant death metal riffs sometimes and a good dose of folk / pagan parts.

By members of Bloodthorn, Wurdulak, musicians who played in the band later found spots in other bands after Perished broke up, doing live sessions for the likes of Ragnarok and Whoredom Rife

LP re-release of Seid soon on Dusktone, as it has been out of print for about a decade.

Track listing:

1. Storm of Fall Delight
2. Dance of the Elves
3. On Wings of Desire
4. As Water Turns to Ice
5. Forged to Bloodshed
6. Departure of Cosmic Union
7. Untouched by Mortal Life
8. Burning Heart of Ice

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

VoidCeremony - Threads of Unknowing Review

It took me a while to realize that this band is comprised of a few highly skillful and talented individuals, who sometimes do not go down the regularized death metal framework in their musical projects. Having been (and still until now) oblivious of their debut full length album Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel, released in 2020, I was drawn to this new work initially because of its vividly purple colored front cover (done by Juanjo Castellano). 
With that in mind, one of VoidCeremony's composers is the guitarist also involved in Worm, Atramentus, First Fragment and Chthe'ilist, yet under this name the compositional aspect blows out of proportions when it comes to complexity and technicality. Structures are completely dismantled in Threads of Unknowing, where each track is chopped into a lot of pieces and then all are seemingly glued back together into a random order, yet there lies the splendor of such exceptionally well thought material. Jazz elements luxuriate the album and strongly drive the tracks  towards the baffling orbits that it resides within, resulting in superlative and grossly expressive pieces. 
These playing techniques are especially obvious in the masterful bass work as well as the guitar solos, which feel like the first time one would listen to the solos from Destroy Erase Improve. Main guitar lines squeeze dismal energy from distant sources, like the cutting riff fluidity of Immolation or the procedural temperament of Demilich, as Threads of Unknowing might as well leave the listener starstruck if one does not expect this kind of musicianship from the band. 
Lyric-wise, the record is also quite creative and offers intriguing text to dive into, going great along the vile but harmonious instrumentation. VoidCeremony combines the two aforementioned genres brilliantly, without losing sight neither of the necessary brutality nor the technical playing style, and in a way it clearly sounds as death metal but with a powerful convolution inside jazz, stemming from the band's impressive instrument abilities. 
I would only potentially skip the instrumental piece "At the Periphery of Human Realms (The Immaterial Grave)" in future listens, but interest is replenished by the following, closing and also longest track "Forlorn Portrait: Ruins of an Ageless Slumber", which is spectacular at 11 minutes length. On the other hand, Threads of Unknowing opens with a short and sweet, fantastic track "Threads of Unknowing (The Paradigm of Linearity)", at only 3 minutes, but generally VoidCeremony show that they can create solid tracks under any context. 
While other records try hard to be as heavy as possible, this one provides pure pleasure just by listening to the guys playing, and is additionally quite heavy in the process. There's not much to complain for the album, it is exquisite and of high quality across all aspects, then it falls on personal taste how much to indulge in it.

Out on April 14th, 2023 | 20 Buck Spin

DAMAGE: 4/5 [Excellent]

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Dødheimsgard - Black Medium Current Review

Extraordinary, avantgarde post-modernism undulating between inconceivable boundaries, Norway's Dødheimsgard unveil their latest labyrinthine construction Black Medium Current after the monumental previous work A Umbra Omega from 2015. With terrifically unique musicians and an astonishing trajectory over the last 30 years, the band presents a record that is strongly personal and rightfully so, awfully multi-layered. Expertise and sophistication shines through, it's guaranteed you haven't heard anything like this before except from the band itself and it's one of the cases of a piece that deserves the term "experimental" in a very wholesome manner. 

Black Medium Current clocks at 1 hour and 9 minutes, about the same duration like A Umbra Omega, so it constitutes another hefty chapter in Dødheimsgard’s discography, that needs its time for the dust to settle once a first session is through. Uncommon becomes common with this band’s music, and the listener is trained to not be thrown off balance by anything that comes their way, as it’s a the general order of things that you don’t know what’s around the corner with Black Medium Current. At the same time, the record makes it easier to draw comparisons with other subgenres, something highly unusual for Dødheimsgard

Opening with the highlight “Et Smelter”, which has a handful of different sections that are all wonderful and sets an almost post-black metal tone (apart from the wacky ending), the same tempo continues on the second track “Tankespinnerens Smerte”. The first really turbulent moment of the album is at the end of third track “Interstellar Nexus” and especially its connection to the almost 80’s sensuous clean guitar, middle-paced introduction of “It Does Not Follow”. 

A clearer black metal direction is found at “Set Tomme Kalde More” which is to me, another highlight. Less interesting to me were the slower moments, especially in tracks like “Hallow” and “Abyss Perihelion Transit”, and the piano segments “Voyager” and the final track “Requiem Aeternum” are excellent, but in both cases vocals on top were really unnecessary. In a way, Black Medium Current feels a bit less otherworldly than previous material of the band, but that’s only because previous material has been extremely otherworldly. 

I can never say Dødheimsgard surpassed themselves with this record, but it is packed, interesting and full of twists and turns. Since A Umbra Omega’s contained inspiration and particularity is unparalleled, one should rather approach this as a completely new body.

Out on April 14th, 2023 | Peaceville Records

DAMAGE: 3.5/5 [Great]

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

S​ó​l án varma - S​ó​l án varma Review

A collective of numerous infamous individuals from Iceland has been formed under the moniker S​ó​l án varma (= sun without radiance), which, even though it has been active since 2023, it's just now that a first full work comes to fruition. It is fully worthy of the label "full" as this self-titled record has a drawn out, stretched duration of 1 hour and 7 minutes, with 12 tracks, making it quite a piece to listen to and automatically placing it at the territory of albums that require longer attention span than your average extreme metal album. 

As always, the aesthetics are overwhelmingly beautiful and the production is not simply ideal, but characterizes the dreary and thrilling epicness of Icelandic black metal, especially coming from these musicians. All the tracks are titled with the same word "Afbrigði" and follow Latin numbering, containing exceptional lyricism in the band's native language. The juiciest part of S​ó​l án varma is the compositions themselves, though, which exert terrific potency once the record builds up its pace and establishes itself. 

It actually starts slowly, with the first 2 pieces being long and featuring tense dark ambient / noise meandering, in between some sparse distorted guitar sections (even though, when the pummeling riffs in the middle of "Afbrigði II" kick in, they stamp an immediate album highlight). Then, S​ó​l án varma spreads its winds and covers the sky by its massive presence, coming in the form of apparently ridiculous inspiration from the band to create this material. 

The clearest sibling is Misþyrming, with D.G. being a founder and main songwriter, as his characteristic top-notch vocals crowning the instrumentation. "Afbrigði V" even closes with growing momentum the same way as the aforementioned band's track "Orgia", with a riff that is almost the same. The opener "Afbrigði I", as well as "Afbrigði IX" & "Afbrigði X", hit more slowly, while the introduction of "Afbrigði XI" almost gives out chills of the same kind as Deathspell Omega's last record The Long Defeat from last year. 

Anyhow, simply put, this record is a packed masterpiece. The sequence from "Afbrigði IV" to "Afbrigði VII" includes the most compelling and most captivating black metal of the year so far. But even apart from that, there's memorable melodies and moments throughout the whole span of this generally lengthy record, which manages not to fall under its towering duration. There's so much in S​ó​l án varma, and all of the best kind of Icelandic black metal, which right now equates to the best kind of black metal as a whole. 

Out on April 7th, 2023 | Ván Records

DAMAGE: 4.5/5 [Brilliant]

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Kommand - Death Age Review

Death Age is the second full length album by primitive, dusty death metal band Kommand from California, after a rather well-received debut in 2020 named Terrorscape. Its band members are involved in various underground metal / hardcore / d-beat bands in the area, but under this moniker a clearer approach is taken, even though such elements sometimes make an appearance as well. 

This follow-up record has the same, stripped down and down tuned character of the first release, but maybe with a less surrounding sound and generally thinner production, which makes Death Age easy to listen to on one side, but not so complicated to be fully engaged on the other side. The album’s duration remains at the lower end of the scale, clocking up to 26 minutes with 6 tracks, and all of them feature very distinct, familiar elements: clogged, hefty riffing, cavernous vocals with an ounce of reverb and a tempo dance between fast paced death metal and middle paced groove fiestas. 

There’s not a lot of moments in Death Age that would make it stand out, but most parts are properly written just enough to not discard the record, and it contains a certain level of rawness and heaviness that would appeal to fans that dislike works that are too polished. The one-dimensional production doesn’t give justice to the already average instrumentation, making a lot of the riff-driven parts of the record feel quite empty and  the whole outcome slightly unstable and not efficient enough, in general terms but as well as compared to Kommand’s generally more detectable first release. 

“Fleeing Western Territories” is one highlight that stands out as it maintains some compositional coherence, as well as the closing piece “Collapse Metropolis” and some moments in “Final Virus”. Yet, in other sections like the slow-moving “Global Death” or “Polar Holdout”, things are pretty standard, or to put it better, substandard. 

Death Age somehow barely floats after its conclusion, however it doesn’t have something that would keep the listener hooked or to remember to come back to Death Age later, without just thinking that Terrorscape was simply better. For death metal, it at least has the ugliness and some partial brutality, yet it lacks the merit. I would not discourage someone to listen to it, but there’s better fruits on the market for you. Pick a couple of tracks that you like from here, and move on to the next chapter of your playlist.

Out on March 31st, 2023 | 20 Buck Spin

DAMAGE: 2.5/5 [Average]

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Unpure - Prophecies Ablaze Review

Having already started its activities in the early 90’s with a couple of albums in 1995 and 1996,  Unpure eventually didn’t get far especially when comparing to other, bigger names of the Swedish black metal scene. However, hailing from Uppsala, they have been a brother band to a now well established and household name in the scene from the same city, and that is of course Watain. Apart from sharing members for the release of the latest record Prophecies Ablaze, musicians involved in  death metal neighbours Degial, are also involved in the release. 

Unpure are the oldest of all these bands though, even though they haven’t reached similar levels of popularity. Previous albums were more driven by passion than musical efficiency, and when listening to their early material, one could conclude a skilled toolset was lacking, but that is not the case in 2023, when by now seasoned individuals get down to the juice of the meat when it comes to song construction. The artwork of Prophecies Ablaze is finally at the level of elegance it should be, as well as the record’s production which provides a pleasingly audible sound for an album that was clearly made more professionally than before. 

Music-wise, Unpure’s dedication to the traditional, old school black metal traditions remain (e.g. in “Beyond the Nightmares”, “Northern Sea Madness”), yet the band also includes black / thrash metal elements (in “Small Crooked Bones”),  as well as faster paced, more uplifting tempos through a bit of black’n’roll here and there (more clearly in “His Wrath and the Red Soil”). Highlights of the record are the long, dismal, middle paced section in “The Witch of Upsala” and the wonderful closing track “Endtime Dictator”, while on the other side of the scale actually lies the opener “Megalithic Gateways”, which I found to be the least interesting. 

However, in general, Prophecies Ablaze proves to be highly repeatable and easily listenable. Unpure doesn’t contain the compositional ambition and grandeur of Watain, or the scourging ferocity of Degial, but instead holds its own flame with similar kind of material in a slightly watered down (but not in a negative way) version with a multitude of fine melodies throughout the tracks and enough inspiration to keep the album afloat. Looking at their back catalog, this is the band’s most well-rounded and catered work to date.

Out on March 31st, 2023 | Invictus Productions

DAMAGE: 3.5/5 [Great]