Sunday, April 29, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
The first track, “Isvar Savasana,” is a track composed of poignant synths, noisy drones, and remote guitar notes in the background. The distorted vocals build up along with the guitar sounds until it all crashes into a void of black noise. This is also a proof that production helps noise artists as well: if it was shitty on this track, this would end up as a wall of ugly noise that does nothing but random clamor. Instead, you have a dynamic arena of demonic vocals, drums and riffs, walls of blissful static, and other black noise paraphernalia. This sense is what helps the record from failing into an ugly salad of random noise.
The second track, “Lead Us in Warfare,” also the shortest one, opens with a doom-like riff and noise, and then aptly changes into a martial rhythm with high distorted vocals and crushing bass. The track plods in a lugubrious pace and creates the sense of a battlefield. The combination of the vocals and bass here sounds like some broken military equipment while its surroundings are being bombarded into oblivion. The vocals fade out, and the bass lingers on some more. Felicitous primordial audio-terror.
The third and final track, “Let There Be Light,” is the zenith. Dolorous and mournful, it brings forth stark and grim walls of bleak winters. At first, the track evokes a sense of an eternal and frostbitten winter, with forlorn chants and howls, until it breaks into flaring riffs accompanied with noise that slowly include a void-like guitar riff. It clearly shows that Sutekh Hexen knows its black noise and how to aptly deal with juxtaposed black metal and noise.
Larvae is an interesting album, to say the least. It’s a meditation in chaos, with many ideas and layers, that most of them have been executed well enough. Naturally, it has some flaws: some points aren’t clear enough, other ones aren’t engaging enough, many parts with generic studio pitch corrections, not enough awe-inspiring moments, and the likes. But if you like black noise, experimentation, or just need something new in your black metal, you should most definitely give this album a shot.
And it lost.
Til Døden os Skiller just doesn't stack up to Indhentet Af Døden in, well, any real way. It's a far more subdued, straightforward effort with a somewhat slicker production that while still energetic and heavier than sin, doesn't feel like the labor of love and violence that Indhentet Af Døden did. It's always controversial to compare a bands previous work to their newest material, and often even a bit unfair. But when a band is sticking to a similar style from album to album, it's impossible to not compare a bands albums to each other. But this doesn't make Til Døden os Skiller a bad record at all: Undergang simply cannot make a bad record, as their sound is just too brutal and too massive to ever be boring. It's just disappointing to hear a band regress and become more digestible and safe.
The first thing that stands out about Til Døden os Skiller is how much more subdued the song-writing is: while much of the Rottrevore-meets-Asphyx heaviness remains in tact, songs follow much simpler paths and rarely engage in the odd, creepy sounding progressions that made Indhentet Af Døden such a powerful release. It's still insanely heavy, and at times groovy: "Ormeorgie" is a headbangers paradise, featuring a dozen skull-smashing riffs and plenty of Doom-laden goodness. The following track, "Når Børnene Dør" starts weakly with a poor sample(an issue which appears constantly on the album), but once the song gets going it's all very musty and death-laden. Til Døden os Skiller feels like a slightly faster album than Indhentet Af Døden did, with more moments of blast-beat domination, but don't expect Undergang to enter Angelcorpse territory; things stay slow and mid-paced throughout, but the diversity of tempo is always a nice thing. Vocalist David Torturdod remains consistently underwhelming though: his weak growl sounds gassed and is usually lost in the shuffle, although his higher-register vocal sounds powerful and dripping. It's a shame he doesn't use it more often.
As I said before, Undergang in their current incarnation are likely incapable of releasing anything that isn't appealing to most Death Metal fans, as there just are not a lot of primitive, Rottrevore inspired bands floating around. Til Døden os Skiller is perfectly listenable, enjoyable, and at times even a bit dynamic. But those moments of "what the fuck am I listening to?" that dominated Indhentet Af Døden , those moments when the band would break out in a Suffocation style breakdown like on "Dødshymne" or the odd, bouncy and almost happy intro of "Evigt Lidende," are just not to be found here. Undergang have taken a much more accessible, simplistic approach to songwriting on Til Døden os Skiller, and it shows in a somewhat inferior album. And album I would still recommend, but not the one I was hoping for.
I don't want to play up the Anaal Nathrakh comparison too much: there are similarities, but not overwhelmingly so: Male Misandria are more firmly rooted to the ground and wield a Punk-infused edge. It's all very fast and loud, which means everything is working as it should be. Tracks are short and noisey, yet often include sudden bits of atmospheric, grim introspection: "Homo Homini Homo" starts off with some mid-paced, frost bitten guitar work that screams Emperor, complete with a smattering of operatic vocals, before mutating into a static drenched, dripping syringe of blasting Grindcore/Powerviolence that enters the blood-stream like burning fire. "Somni Spectus" features one of the sexiest, filthiest riffs on the album, the opening roar of the guitars complimented with excellent use of samples to create a sickening, blackened atmosphere without ever losing it's aggressive, crusty edge. E.DIN also features some rather odd song titles, including such classics as "I'm So Cook" and "Vomitsoapbubbles..." Male Misandria are clearly not all that interested in sticking too closely to genre conventions, which in many ways is a strength all it's own.
E.DIN may be an acquired taste for many no matter what: vocalist S.P. has a voice which will grate on your average Metal fan, while the bands blackened, space-y aspects will likely turn off the Punk kids from getting all the way behind the bands sledge-hammer moments. And in general, E.DIN is the kind of spastic, genre-bending strangeness that purists in general just despise. But then again, who cares what purists think. E.DIN is as rock solid, brutal and manic as one could ask from a whacked out Italian Black-Grind band.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
But this doesn't mean I hate Old School Death Metal, or it's recent revival. For every shitty SwedDeath worship band, there is usually one band doing something awesome. In honor of these bands, my weekly playlist will consist of Old School Death Metal Revival bands that do not actually suck. Learn to respect, Miasmal's of the world:
1. Innumerable Forms- "Contaminated" : Death Metal from The United States. Off the demo Dark Worship(2010). Similar Artists: Incantation, Morpheus Descends, Killing Addiction
2. Adversarial- "Thralls" : Black/Death Metal from Canada. Off the LP All Idols Fall Before the Hammer(2010). Similar Artists: Angelcorpse, Blasphemy, Incantation
3. Desecresy- "Path of the Descendent" : Death/Doom from Finland. Off the LP Arches of Entropy(2010). Similar Artists: Rippikolu, Slughathor, Krypts
4. Execration- "Soul Maggot" : Death Metal from Norway. Off the LP Odes of the Occult(2011). Similar Artists: Immolation, Bolt Thrower, Asphyx
5. Vahrzaw- "Revelations" : Black/Death from Australia. Off the LP Defiant(2009). Similar Artists: Immolation, Incantation, Angelcorpse
6. Spearhead- "Herald the Lightning" : Black/Death from England. Off the LP Theomachina(2011). Similar Artists: Angelcorpse, Morbid Angel, Order From Chaos
7. Morbid Flesh- "Reborn in Death" : Death Metal from Spain. Off the LP Reborn in Death(2011). Similar Artists: Autopsy, Grave, Death(early)
8. Putrevore- "The Skies Vomit Sulfur" : Primitive Death Metal from Spain. Off the LP Morphed From Deadbreath(2008). Similar Artists: Rottrevore, Morpheus Descends, Infester
9. Nerlich- "Entity of Sickness" : Old School Technical Death Metal from Finland. Off the LP Defabricated Process(2007). Similar Artists: Martyr, Oppressor, Suffocation
10. Dead Congregation- "Teeth Into Red" : Death Metal from Greece. Off the LP Grave of the Archangels(2009). Similar Artists: Incantation, Immolation, Deathspell Omega
Sunday, April 22, 2012
|Acephalix- Deathless Master|
Yeah, you can all see where this is going.
Deathless Master certainly delivers on all fronts, at least for those seeking only the most worship-y Entombed and Grave worship. Nothing is out of place, nothing is new or challenging and nothing will ever make you question Acephalix's loyalty to Sunlight Studios guitar sounds or true old-school credibility. Deathless Master has a singular purpose, and commits to it with plenty of verve and vigor. Everything is genre appropriate, from the album cover, song titles and lyrics to the song-writing, which effectively captures the essence of the heavily melodic, simplistic and musty Swedish Death Metal sound to total carbon-copy perfection. Acephalix perform each track masterfully, at the very least never sounding sloppy or overwhelmed, while vocalist Dan(that's it) is a capable growler in his own right, providing a solid low grunt which predictably accompanies each economical, effortless track. Truly, Deathless Master is a machine with plenty of hellish fuel to power it's journey into the crypts.
And FUCK is it boring.
And album like Deathless Master has becoming increasingly common in Death Metal: all soulless style, no substance. Acephalix steal their riffs from Left Hand Path with mechanical precision, and play them with a kind of blandness that can make one slip into a deep sleep at a moments notice. Fearfully constructed to appeal to the masses, Deathless Master is the kind of highly accessible dribble hidden under a reverb drenched production that is over-running Death Metal as we speak. There are quite literally only two moments, not songs but moments, where Deathless Master ever carries any weight or intensity: the opening riffs of "... On Wings" and "The Hunger" bring much needed evil to an album which for the most part is merely highly digestible junk food.
On it's surface, there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of an accessible, for lack of a better phrase, "Pop" Death Metal album. And the Swedish Death Metal sound has always been the most accessible Death Metal sound, so there really should be no surprise that Deathless Master is a largely easy listen. It all comes down to personal taste really, and for this particular listener, Deathless Master is little more than lifeless static in a sea of soulless static peddlers; a piece of worship with no real faith backing it, other than faith in it's own popularity. Deathless Master was always going to be a success by virtue of what it is, regardless of the quality: it's Death Metal on Easy Mode.
Deathless Master is just one more example of a Death Metal scene which has become increasingly toxic to things like creativity and originality. Calls of "it wasn't broken, why fix it?" and "this is REAL Death Metal" fill the air, and power an album like Deathless Master to new heights, sure to be highly featured on many year end lists as one of the best albums of 2012: genetically engineered for hype and mass appeal. Which again, is not really a bad thing... unless it begins to overwhelm a genre's artistic credibility. With Death Metal becoming so hostile to artists who endeavor to be original and put serious work into their song-craft, an album like Deathless Master could very well be a death knell for the genre itself; one that is becoming increasingly self-contained and regressive.
Which puts pretty massive weight behind an album as slight and generally forgettable as Deathless Master doesn't it?
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
|Receptionist- This is Everything|
I was more than curious to see this shambling creature of the past come my way, considering they sound that Receptionist play is largely dead. Metalcore - real Metalcore - lived a short, brutal life through the 90's, when Metallic Hardcore got even more pissed off(if that is even possible): the demented ramblings of Converge, Rorschach, Starkweather, Botch and Deadguy led a small, brutal underground revolution in two separate scenes which had not always played nice with each other. But then came the new millennium, and with it a new genre of music which adopted the Metalcore name. These new bands sounded nothing like their 90's predecessors, owing far more to Gothenburg Death Metal and Groove Metal than anything even remotely Hardcore Punk. But the damage was done: these new generations of bands made Metalcore a toxic genre, and so bastardized the very concept of Metalcore that history was literally re-written to exclude the classic 90's bands from the genre they created(with such idiotic genre's as "Chaotic Hardcore"). Couple this with the fact that only a handful of the 90's bands remain, and Metalcore as it was intended has largely been lost to history.
Clearly, Receptionist are pretty pissed off about this, and they let their dissatisfaction with it be known on This is Everything. For some younger fans, particularly those who enjoy modern "Metalcore," Receptionist's sonic blitzkriegs might sound wholly unique, even revolutionary. And at one point they were... when Rorschach and Botch came up with them over a decade ago. Not that this is an issue: This is Everything might not be anything new, but with how rare it is to hear 90's Metalcore played with this kind of vigor and aggression in the modern scene, This is Everything feels massively powerful. Receptionist masterfully mix the unhinged intensity of Deadguy with the technical breakdowns of Botch and the long, atmospheric riffing style of Starkweather into a grab bag of all the best that classic Metalcore has to offer, amping up the emotion and rage with an unrelenting sense of impending misfortune and a hint of suffering. Metalcore was always meant to be an emotional, full body experience, and Receptionist seem to have a strong understanding of this concept: "Flying Dutchman" starts out by kicking in your teeth with a fast, semi-technical foot to your grill ; like a kick to the face, it's over quickly and it hurts, but the song quickly enters into a reflective, atmospheric composition, complete with an unholy choir chanting with the distorted tides of crushing riffs. The final track, "Ménière" begins slow, a single guitar signaling the coming storm. The track slowly builds, adding layers of tension and dread, but it never quite explodes into chaotic domination: instead, it's a somber sojourn, leading to that most inevitable of ends...
If This is Everything is causing me to wax poetic, I must apologize. I just can't help it: this is a sound, a style, an idea that has unfairly been lost to an entire generation, all because of some stupid fucking genre classification. It makes This is Everything feel more important than it really is: it's a fairly standard amalgamation of the various sounds from 90's Metalcore. This is Everything is not overflowing with new or fresh ideas or revolutionary concepts. And yet This is Everything feels fresh and masterful, largely because this style of Metalcore has become the pink diamond of Extreme Music: rare and a pain in the ass to find. This Olso based two-piece have brought to a new generation a sound and a musical ideology which has long sense diminished into almost nothing... and for that alone, This is Everything is a masterstroke.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Raw as Fuck
1. Odz Manouk- "The Indisiplinarian" : Raw Black Metal from The United States. Off the demo Odz Manouk
2. Tukaaria- "Prehistoric Silence" : Raw Black Metal from The United States. Off the LP Raw to the Rapine
3. Botanist- "Megaskempasma" : Raw Avant-Garde Black Metal. Off the LP I: The Suicide Tree/II: A Rose From the Dead
4. Ill Omen- "Sins of the Flesh" : Raw Black/Death from Australia. Off the LP Divinity Through Un-Creation
5. Jute Gyte- "The Light That Hangs Above the Fields" : Raw Progressive Black Metal. Off the LP Verstiegenheit
6. Cornigr- "Death Trimorph" : Raw Black Metal from Finland. Off the LP Relics of Inner War
7. Venereverent- "Obsecration Teaghlach" : Raw Progressive Black Metal from The United States. Off the LP Evermore and Evermore
8. Xothist- "V" : Raw Atmospheric Black Metal from The United States. Off the demo Xothist.
9. Ordo Obsidium- "Into the Gates of Madness" : Raw Black/Doom from The United States. Off the LP Orbus Tertius
10. Shaidar Logoth- "Mashiara Shai'tan" : Raw Atmospheric Black Metal from The United States. Off the demo Chapter I: The Peddler
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Everything about Odz Manouk is nothing short of perfect, from the songwriting to the production to the individual musical performances. Menacing and raw, the production of Odz Manouk is filthy with static and grime, but also even enough for every instrument to have a say in the song. The guitars frequently experiment with dissonant leads, which coupled with a perfectly distant and reverb drenched guitar tone, leads to some the creepiest atmospheres in Black Metal. I also adore the vocals and bass sound: the former choked with pus and malice, the latter pulsating and burrowing through the compositions like a worm digging eagerly downward toward an exposed corpse. Odz Manouk perfectly captures the feel and sound of Black Metal at it's most pure and excruciating.
Odz Manouk is also a beautifully written album, which perfectly mixes Mayhem, Horna and early Deathspell Omega into whirling abysses of hatred: "The Indisciplinarian" features a meaty main riff which brings to mind Burzum, sandwiching it between extended sections of atmospheric dissonance and raw screeching. "I Will Crush to Marrow This Crow of Ill" begins in a burst of Mayhem like mid-paced intensity, but slowly and surely devolves into a frost-bitten elegy of blades that turns the very air into a sea of ripping knives. The guitar work on Odz Manouk makes heavy use of repetition, but is unafraid to throw in dissonant or even melodic leads, like the distant, foggy whispers on "Mechanics of a Nightmare." All with the intent of creating a dark and foreboding sense of dread, a feeling of hopelessness before the void... and Odz Manouk captures that essence of darkness perfectly.
What perhaps is most impressive about Odz Manouk, aside from the veritable perfection of the sound and the musicianship, is the way everything looks and feels appropriate without ever being stale of generic. Odz Manouk is not a purely original album by any stretch, but it does as much as needed to feel unique. There is a definite creative vision and mission behind the tracks on Odz Manouk, outside of the popular "we want to sound like X band" that is far too widespread and overbearing in Extreme Metal today. It's easy to list the influences on Odz Manouk, but it never feels like the album is leaning on those influences and the fact that you really like those influences to use as a crutch; Odz Manouk stands on it's own.
American Black Metal is seeing a surge of amazingly talented young acts, but Odz Manouk might very well stand above almost all of them. High praise, but I struggle to find a more impressive example of both creativity and reverence than Odz Manouk. The dark arts and incantations this California one-piece wields are powerful indeed. Consider me bound and tethered to Odz Manouk's ancient crypt for all time... far worse curses exist among the shadows.
Monday, April 9, 2012
I also want to introduce out new font: Lucida Grande. Pretty no?
Using the kick ass 8Tracks website(get to know it if you don't), I will be making weekly playlists of some of the underground Extreme Music(Metal, Punk, Noise) that I have been listening to over the previous week. They will be about 10 tracks give or take, and will all feature lesser known artists. The hope is to promote these acts as best I can, which was the whole point of this blog in the first place. If you like what you hear, then get out there and support these artists, whether it's buying their gear, heading out to their shows or just sharing kind words of encouragement.
Anyway, here is the link to the first playlist: Weekly Playlist #1
1. GGUW - "Untitled" : Raw Atmospheric Black Metal from Germany, off the EP Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit(2011)
2. Hordes - "Servile" : Metallic Hardcore from The United States, off the EP Abarognosis(2011)
3. Temple Nightside - "Incipit-Relinquished" : Atmospheric Black/Death from Australia, off the EP Prophecies of Malevolence(2011)
4. A Pregnant Light - "Impurity Flowing Upward" : Raw BlackCrust from The United States, off the LP A Feast of Clipped Wings(2011)
5. Nuclear Magick - "Nuclear Necromancy" : Bestial Black Metal/Sludge from Germany, off the demo Priests of the Bomb(2010)
6. Schattenvald - "Niedergang 1648: Eyn Raub von Flammen" : Raw Atmospheric Black Metal from Germany, off the LP II(2007)
7. Deathrite - "Claws" : Metallic Hardcore from Germany, off the EP Deathrite(2011)
8. Uzumaki - "An Engrossing Epitaph" : Technical Death Metal from The United States, off the LP Glossolalia(2012)
9. Ringing Bell - "With Positive Actuator To Project and To Retract" : Death/Doom from Denmark, off the demo Hospital Corners(2012)
10. Dressed in Streams - "The Breastplate Shines" : Raw Atmospheric Black Metal from The United States, off the LP Dressed in Streams(2011)
Sunday, April 8, 2012
In a lot of ways, Proclamation are very similar to many Top 40 Pop and Rock acts, usually groups who Proclamation fans despise to the point of irrational hatred. But the similarities are very striking: like say… Beyonce(or whatever), Proclamation have delivered pretty much the same album over and over again with predictable vigor to a fan base that has no desire for them to change. Each individual song follows predictable, easily digestible paths to fairly standard conclusions, and offer few if any surprises along the way. And each album sticks closely to the well defined boundaries and standards set by the fan base, never seeking to challenge them in any way. Sure, while Beyonce produces Pop-y R&B and Proclamation produce what essentially boils down to busy Blackened static drenched noise, at their most base levels the two artists are doing pretty much the same thing.
Nether Tombs Of Abaddon, the fourth full length of similar material from these Spaniards, is a relatively safe and lifeless affair through and through, and sees Proclamation fall into a self-imposed state of perpetual non-creativity. Fact of the matter is, Proclamation’s shtick has worn damn thin: sure it was fun at first, listening to a band so full of piss and vinegar, spewing Satan-praising vomit from every orifice and taking gleeful joy in disposing of posers. It might not have been original, but when Proclamation first reared its deformed visage from the abyss, the whole Bestial Black Metal Revival was just starting to hit its stride. With the unholy semen of Blasphemy and Conqueror flowing through their veins, Proclamation made good on their promise of playing only the most mindless, ugly shit they could bang out. And as I said, it was fun… for a while.
But Nether Tombs Of Abaddon isn’t any fun at all, largely because listening to it gives me nothing but an endless sense of deja-vu. And not even in a purely album-to-album sense, as some songs on Nether Tombs Of Abaddon sound exactly the same, making distinguishing solely on sound much more challenging. It doesn't help that the production is mostly gutless and thin, as this would likely sound better with a more full-throated production and a stronger bass sound, instead of just drenching a thin production sound in copious levels of reverb and calling it a day. So what we get with Nether Tombs Of Abaddon is a lot of anger and speed... and that's it. This would be fine if Proclamation were that much more aggressive and nasty then their counterparts... but they aren't. Frankly, Prosanctus Inferi, Black Witchery and Impious Baptism offer far more blasphemous belching for your dollar, and I would recommend any of those groups albums over Nether Tombs Of Abaddon.
I haven't been kind to Nether Tombs of Abaddon in this review, but in an effort for full disclosure, I must admit that I still enjoy it. I just love this sound and this genre, and Proclamation are able performers who don't lack for passion or hatred. But with so many similar acts doing this sound better, and with so many acts pushing the boundaries of the genre in new directions, Nether Tombs of Abaddon feels lost in Purgatory: not nasty enough or interesting enough to move onto a higher(or lower) plane. If you are a hardcore fan of Ross Bay Cult-style bands and cannot get enough of Blasphemy, then Nether Tombs of Abaddon will no doubt sate your unholy hunger. But those among us who have heard this song and dance before, Nether Tombs of Abaddon serves only as a distraction on the side of a long, barren road. Stop for a moment and enjoy... then jump back in the car and move on.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Sathimasal takes influence from where ever it can find it: elements of Beherit, Emperor, Burzum, the various Mories projects, Lunar Aurora, Incantation. Look at that list... it's easy to see how Sathimasal could really be that damn oppressive and atmospheric. Only when one begins listening to the album, they come to a realization. It's all oppressive atmosphere. Sathimasal is one massively large piece of ambient skull hammering. There is very little in terms of dynamic progressions or even slightly adventurous musicianship: riffs, bass lines and drums are repeated at a machine-like pace for long, barren stretches of minimalism drenched in a swampy compound of brilliant, cavernous production and massive, overwhelming keyboards. All the individual tracks pretty much follow these same basic patterns: repetition, shift, repetition, shift, etc. For some seriously long tracks: the shortest track "Fordreame Wonderlore," an all instrumental track, comes in at a puny 7:38. This album was quite literally designed to inundate you.
Yet despite this, Sathimasal works most of the time. In the right frame of mind, in the right atmosphere, it can be utterly transfixing. Its almost has a Drone-like quality to it, which makes it feel like a unique experience. And it's the production that makes it all possible. The guitars and drums have a distant quality to them, while the bass rumbles the very Earth right underneath the surface. The keyboards overwhelm the other instruments in just the right fashion to creat a swirling, vortex like effect. The only thing I can compare it to is S.V.E.S.T.'s Urfaust, though the production here is much stronger. This is easily my favorite production job of 2012 so far.
Sathimasal is a charming album, one that appeals to my personal taste quite nicely. But it's not perfect, particularly in the song-writing department: the repetition starts to become a crutch at several points, and feels artificially extended from time to time for the sake of testing listener endurance. As charming as being blasted by the same riff can be for a time, there is a breaking point and Sathimasal continuously push it on every track. The final, vocal and keyboard section of "Emperor; Elegy To Wars Never Fought" is incredibly beautiful for the first few minutes, and by the end you are ready to strangle the female vocalist and break the keyboard player's hands. Sathimasal is in desperate need of some self-editing, and I can't help but wonder if we would have had a classic on our hands had Emir Togrul, the man behind Yayla, had shown some self restraint.
Which he did not... at fucking all. Sathimasal is a tyrant who wants complete control, and it's going to get it at any cost. I find this both appealing and yet slightly boring, and I admit that Sathimasal has been perhaps the hardest album for me to gauge so far this year. I've been listening to it with almost religious zeal, yet never really become as enamored with it like I want to. I can say this: Sathimasal is an album that I think just about everyone should try to experience, to see just how much abuse you can take. A powerful atmospheric experience perhaps, but not always a powerful listening experience.