Thursday, March 8, 2012

Demoncy- Enthroned is the Night(2012)

Demoncy- Enthroned is the Night

In all of American Black Metal, no project is more underrated than Demoncy, the brainchild of the mad priest Ixithra. While Profanatica, Xasthur, Leviathan and Nachtmystium seem to get most of the press, Demoncy has always been the forgotten beast. Part of it has been Demoncy's irregular release schedule, which saw the project produce almost nothing but demo's until 1999. But in 1999, Demoncy gave us Joined in Darkness, an unparralled masterpiece of Black Metal than has never gotten the run it deserves. Sounding as though it were recorded in the bathroom of R'lyeh, Joined in Darkness was the definition of crushing darkness. But when Demoncy followed this up with the utterly worthless Empire of a Fallen Angel, which saw the project head in a much faster, melodic and... ugh... Swedish direction, many feared that we would never again receive a dark blessing like Joined in Darkness.

Enthroned is the Night is the triumphant return of the Demoncy that we rabid fans of Joined in Darkness have been waiting for. Well, sort of... it at least doesn't reek of Swedish melody and triggered drums. Enthroned is the Night is certainly a stylistic revival: a return to the vile concoction of Norwegian Second Wave Black Metal and Canadian/American Bestial Black Metal, making the album feel just as comfortable next to Transylvanian Hunger as Fallen Angel of Doom. Tracks are relentless, aggressive and extremely ugly. "Winds of Plague" explodes with a crushing riffs and thundering double bass that bring to mind an unholy union of Archgoat and early Mayhem, while "Unclean Spirits" invokes the decrepit spirits of Profanatica and Sarcofago, complete with copious blast beats and static-riddled riffs. Every track has a strong emphasis of tempo, featuring plenty of change-up between Blasphemy-like speed and slower, atmospheric riffs, which keeps the listening experience active and relentless.

I also feel I need to write a love letter to Ixithra's incredible vocals. Sounding like Gollum with throat cancer, Ixithra and his vicious, demonic "whisper-growls" have been one of the few elements of Demoncy that we have seen imitated by other Black Metal artists, but never truly matched. Part of what made Empire of a Fallen Angel so utterly and incomprehensibly bad, outside of the whole Marduk-meets-Dissection thing, was that Ixithra ditched his trademark vocals in favor of a horribly generic gruff abortion that lacked any nastiness. But back doing what Demoncy was always meant to do, the vocals on Enthroned is the Night drip with acid and phlegm, as though Ixithra is choking upon his own filth ridden soul.

But for all the joy I feel that Demoncy has returned to the sound that made such a masterpiece, such a brilliant and eternal pitch black jewel, I cannot hide the tinge of sadness that creeps down my spine. For listening to Enthroned is the Night so often has given me a brutal, heart-breaking epiphany, one that flies in the face of everything I have believed about Demoncy so long: Demoncy are a one hit wonder. Enthroned is the Night is a brilliantly played return to form no doubt, but in reviving the sound that made Joined in Darkness what it is, the various weaknesses and failures of the style are brought down hard to bare. This album is so straight forward and so lacking in variety, were this any other band I might pull a Miasmal rating right out of my ass.

Enthroned is the Night could not be any more straightforward or uncreative. The album is even divided into perfect little sections: tracks one, six and eleven could be categorized as "intro," "intermission" and "outro" leaving eight tracks divided into sections of four. I know this seems like a stupid thing to notice, but it is just the first thing that screams "I'm barely trying!" Each tracks sounds almost exactly the same, following same-y patterns that never differentiate between each other.

Not rarely. NEVER.

Without the sudden stops between tracks, Enthroned is the Night could quite easily made into one long song. But honestly, that would have been way too creative. The sound that Demoncy developed on Joined in Darkness is so uncompromising, so unrelenting and truly bleak, it just does not lend itself to any kind of experimentation. It didn't matter with Joined in Darkness because it was just... so... evil. It was so vile, so soul siphoning, that the fact that every track sounded the same didn't even matter. It was a blasphemous tapestry that Satan himself would have wrapped himself in at night as he slept on his bed of burning souls. Meanwhile, Enthroned is the Night feels more like Satan's pillow case that he occasionally drools on... it just doesn't evoke the same sense of dread and abomination.

Yet even though Enthroned is the Night feels so much smaller and slighter than Joined in Darkness, part of me just loves the fuck out of it. Part of me screams for more, and I find myself feeding this hunger very regularly. Enthroned is the Night is my version of comfort music, something I can have playing all day long and never truly tire of(which says something really fucked up about me as an individual). This part of me screams even now as I write this: it pounds furiously on the back of my head, in protest of what my logical brain is now forcing me to do. For no matter how much I love Enthroned is the Night, it is impossible for me to look upon it and say with certainty that this is a great album. It just isn't. It's predictable, same-y, uncreative and pig-headed in it's utter relentlessness.

And I want more!

The screaming fanboy: MORE!!!!!
Real score: 7/10

Male Misandria / Malveillance - Split(2012)

Male Misandria / Malveillance - Split

Though Suffering Jesus Productions has,sadly, recently closed its doors, one of its final acts was to getout this split between Italy's oddly named Male Misandria andQuébec's Malveillance. While the uninitiated listener might find itodd to see a split between a grindcore band and a black metalproject, the similarities are apparent immediately upon listening.Both Male Misandria and Malveillance provide unrelenting and viciousblasts of musical violence that go for the throat and don't stopuntil they've tasted blood.

Male Misandria start the split off with“Magister Makeup”, an intense track which balances brutality andspeed with skill and good song writing to great effect. It providesan immediate glimpse as to the showing MM make here. The guitar toneis clear and gives every riff a clarity which allows theirmemorability and heaviness to shine. This is a definite plus giventhat the music depends heavily on the guitar; the bass is inaudible,the drumming provides what it needs to but doesn't shine, and thevocals are impassioned but don't step far out of an often seen mix ofhigher screams and lower growls. There are moments when the screamsget particularly high pitched and out of control, and that's when thevocals shine the most; “Marble Marquinia” and “Mothlife” bothprovide great examples. Though the other aspects of the music aren'tparticularly exceptional the riffing is thankfully strong. As said,they are memorable and heavy, switching up enough to keep the songsinteresting and exciting while not changing up so much that the riffsdon't make an impact. Male Misandria are strong song writers ingeneral; “Marble Marquinia” and “Mannerless Maternus Mo” havedramatic openings, “Mothlife” ends with a high speed solo, andthe way a melodic lead threads its way through tremolo picked rhythmguitar in “Male Model Merge” is reminiscent of certain types ofblack metal. The crescendo of Male Misandria's half is “Martyr”,which nears 6 minutes and is the longest track on the split. It's adramatic and complex song that shows off MM's strength as songwriters. It's full of interesting moments: it opens with an“Egyptian” sounding riff (or at least Egyptian in the bounds ofthe West's musical imagination), before shifting into black metalinspired riffs. The song has many moments that nearly hit epicterritory, and it has a very interesting bridge where atmosphericguitars and distant, echoing vocals mix with shifts between blackmetal inspired riffing and thick chords. They wrap things up with aninexplicable dark ambient/industrial track, “Masto B”, whichdoesn't make a ton of sense, but is at least solid for what it is.

Malveillance's side opens with its ownweirdness. “Rien” is an ambient track over which F(Malveillance's one and only member) simply speaks in a way thatbrings to mind a pissed off, slightly drunk man. If I understoodFrench, I might be able to read more meaning in to it, so I'll giveit the benefit of the doubt. Everysong is named after an individual. A web search got me hits on a fewof the names, who appear to be important figures in Québec of someform or another, so it seems safe to say that Malveillance's half ispossibly dedicated to a variety of influential figures in Québec'shistory. As soon as “Rien” finishes, F immediately kicksinto what Malveillance is known for: filthy D-Beat inspired blackmetal with a raw, simplistic and hateful style that is no doubtinfluenced by the work of Norway's Ildjarn. The guitar and bass havea thick and dirty raw production that I find benefit's Malveillance'ssound even more than the production on his previous release,Consentir a L'absurde. Theonly problem with the production is the drums. The cymbals have avery tinny sound; I can't decide if it's a crappy drum machine, or ifthe recording of real drums wasn't done quite right. If you can lookby it, the core of Malveillance's sound is present and as strong asever. The songs shift between one or two black/punk riffs, with athick, low end sound. As is typical of this style, the songs arepresented in some ways as variations of a theme, providing an intenseand holistic listening experience, rather than one dominated byclearly demarcated songs. I think Malveillance is one of the top actsof this style, and any fan of it should find there thirst sated byhis performance here. It's length of only 14½ minutes gives it lessvariation than Consentir a L'absurde,but it more than provides the visceral experience I look for in thiskind of music.

The split ends witha few bonus tracks from each artist. Male Misandria presents a lessrefined version of the grindcore previously. The production is muchrawer, probably because the songs were recorded in 2007. “Spazio”isn't as interesting as the earlier tracks and “Love” is yourtypical under-10-seconds grind track. “Vivere da padroni” and “ViOdio” are more interesting thrashy numbers with some audible bassactually popping up. Some synth weirdness pops up here at times mostprominently in “Vi Odio”, where it shows up in the break down andsticks around for the rest of the track. The synths are prettyawkward, and I'm glad they dropped them. Those last two song are alsoa bit over long. The bonus tracks aren't totally unwelcome, but theyreally bring to light how much MM have evolved as song writers in 4or 5 years.

Malveillance onlyhas two bonus tracks. “Cloportes Soumis” fits in with the styleof the earlier songs, and it seems like it might have fit betterthere. A cover of Crude SS's “Nazi Go Home” follows, and it'sbeen infused with the Malveillance sound so much that it's not reallyidentifiable as anything but. Still, it's a nice track that closesoff the album well.

Overall the splitis an excellent showing by both bands and I highly recommend it tofans of either, to fans of grindcore or extreme punk/black metalmixtures, or in general to anyone who likes extreme music that boilsdown to a musical punch to the face. Though Suffering Jesus' labelside is unfortunately dead, they're distro is still open, and thissplit is more than worth its cost.