Friday, April 27, 2012

Sutekh Hexen - Larvae (2012)

Sutekh Hexen - Larvae

Now, I'm a fan of Sutekh Hexen. I like all of their previous releases. If you listened to them, you would know that they're pretty much noisy black metal riffs and...noise. But the previous releases were somewhat harsh and actually had some black metal in them; you could hear the black rasps and drums and whatnot, but this time, it’s much more subtle, transendental, melancholic. Now of course it has plenty of black metal and noise, but it’s less obvious here, since it’s all a haze of noise to the “unexperienced” ear.

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.

Rating: 8.5/10

Undergang- Til Døden os Skiller(2012)

Undergang- Til Døden os Skiller

Til Døden os Skiller, the follow up to the incredibly brilliant Indhentet Af Døden, had it's work cut out for it. Indhentet Af Døden was basically perfect: a brilliant mix of Rottrevore's slimey, gut-chewing down tempo madness and the unhinged strangeness of Finnish masters such as Depravity and Demilich; played with incredible energy and featuring some of the best Death Metal production one could ask for. Til Døden os Skiller was fighting an uphill battle from the beginning.

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.

Rating: 7.5/10

Male Misandria- E.DIN(2011)

Male Misandria- E.DIN

Italy's Male Misandria play a style of Blackened Grindcore that isn't too far from Anaal Nathrakh's noisy, screaming nightmares, with the same tortured vocals and tendency to explore the abnormal. But I can easily say I vastly prefer the more stripped down, Punk infused edge that Male Misandria bring; with influences of Powerviolence and Crust Punk, E.DIN is a focused, strange and skin-peeling Blackened Grindcore that brims with filthy anger.

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.

Rating: 8/10