Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
1) Skagos - "Ast"
2) Njiqahdda - "Yrg Alms"
3) Ruins of Beverast - "Foul Semen of the Sheltered Elite"
4) Panopticon - "Collapse"
5) Kill - "No Catharsis"
6) Incursus - "Eternal Funeral Trance"
7) Absu - "Absu"
8) Wolves in the Throne Room - "Black Cascade"
9) The Chasm - "Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm"
10) Funebrarum - "The Sleep of Morbid Dreams"
Pensees Nocturnes - "Vacuum"
Sad Legend - "The Revenge of Soul"
Salute - "The Underground"
Altar of Plagues - "White Tomb"
Tenebrae in Perpetuum - the new one.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
When I listen to stuff like this its hard to remember that it wasn't recorded in the year 1216 by a cave dwelling hermit. However archaic this actually isn't, its significance along the timeline of modern black metal is vast. In 1994 when this was released by the band on cassette it was so forward thinking and embellished in its character that it was probably really hard to nail this down. This band never really caught on but the ideas created here and at this time by a few others like Striid, and Ungod lived on and flourished recently through bands like Xasthur...and Xasthur. Definitely Xasthur. A lot of bands labeled "bedroom black metal" fall into this category. All these associations aside it truly stands on its own two feet being lent no credibility from the genre it created.
Its hard to say how intentional the lo-fi quality of this demo was and how much can be credited to a novice lack of skill by the band, but I often find that elementary decisions behind the 4-track are the meat and potatoes of the atmosphere on some of my favorite records. If you think about it, every record is a certain combination of thousands of decisions sometimes made by several people, sometimes by one. When one of those persons is Peter Tagtgren, and makes the same decisions incessantly, regardless of the artistic character of the band, it can sound like far less correct decisions were made about an album. A lot of people would tell you that the sound quality on this tape is perfect...and I would agree, though its almost hard to figure out how to listen to it. Everything is drenched in delay and sounds like its echoing throughout miles of pine needles in a dim forest. The vocals are varied, sometimes whispered, at other times a baneful wail. The guitars are distant and blurry but somehow it all gathers up nicely.
Musically, I look at this demo a lot differently now than I did when I first discovered this in 2001 or so. Sure, its a really necro sounding black metal demo but these songs have a much grander and vampyric nature to them. I could easily see these songs being played by an orchestra as the soundtrack to a movie like Bram Stoker's Dracula. They have a very theatrical presence to them. The wonderful arrangement and orchestration unfurls down the carpathian mountains and descends as a fog into your MP3 collection...hopefully. Unless you want to buy the shitty Unveiling the Wiched re-issue that Hammerheart put out. Kyrck put out a altered version of it last year as well, titled "Solve et Coagula" but I still feel this demo is perfect the way it was 1994, so just download it or pay $150 for it on eBay.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Though it hasn't been very well documented here yet, I have a REALLY soft spot for anything Damon Good is involved in. My favorites being Portal, Mournful Congregation, Stargazer and the subject of today's swollen appendage, Misery's Omen. The material on this fucker is almost a decade old and still is aeons ahead of our time. To think that stuff this great was coming out back then and I wasn't aware of it still boggles my mind. It took 5 years for it to make my lap melt in ecstasy and still today 5 years after that, its seldom mentioned.
Ive brainstormed for far too long just to think of a reference point to pin these guys down with and I come up empty. The closest thing I can really come to is Symbolic era Death with a much proggier and disharmonious leaning, and dwelling in a puddle of gelling and moldy blood, guts and precambrian juices for centuries. I like putting on this album when I want to feel like I'm steering a vehicle down a densely forested mountainside at 165mph with no brakes. Its chaotic, vicious, unnerving and has a constantly unconstant gallop. No instrument, element, style or behavior here is prevalent other than what I've already mentioned.
This collection of two demos takes confident strides among earth melting doom moments and without hesitation bursts into infernal moments of bombastic treachery. The strength of this band is the blatant confidence with which they unholster vivid yet dreary weaponry. Some moments bear strong similarities to a more melodic Swedish sort of band but usually they play more discordant and atonal riffs. The bass playing is remarkably unique and used so effectively to elevate these songs to a much more musical level, also furthering the putrid stench this ep will always leave lingering in your skull. The only problem I've ever had with this EP is that its a little too short. This is worth tracking down if you want to hear something completely original and accomplished as it is terribly underappreciated.
Friday, September 25, 2009
This live album was recorded in 1982 when a young DIJ was opening for Nick Cave's Birthday Party and is mostly songs from their debut "The Guilty Have no Pride" and "Burial." Though these songs portrayed correctly on their respective releases lend themselves to a trend at the time of removing the human elements of music to live up to and mimick the technological revolution at the time, I have always felt that these songs breath so much better with an air of haunting reality on the blackened stage they were performed upon. The perfect reverb on Douglas P's vocals, the black shimmer of the dead cymbals, the dry and rotten bass echoing throughout the crowd, the jarring and messy guitar work with a delay pedal cranked to eleven. I get such a vivid image of a young Death in June stumbling through these songs with a fresh conviction known at no other time during their career.
This recording didnt even get a proper release until 1987 and after being in limited print on CD and LP its been since bootlegged. Its a shame that this DIJ release is a little speck in their discography, which is why I've chosen to highlight it here today.
Back when I was just getting into decent music a friend of mine gave me this tape in order to save it from a trash can. I am a sucker for free stuff so I took it. I wasn't really into this sort of thing back then but from the moment I put it in Macbeth took me by the collar and didn't let go. We have had a strange relationship over the years. This album doesn't want anyone to like it but it wants to be known and be heard as having its own identity. Its got a certain staunch and egotistical approach to the common martial and militaristic type of new wave whatever music they were going for here. It's clumsy and brash but all in all I am constantly charmed by its delivery and brash nature. Its fairly well composed and arranged, enough so that it has an accomplished and somewhat believable gait to it, but there is a distinct lack of something human, maybe even personal here. The limited aural spectrum and sequencing found here is what takes every bit of heart and soul out of this music. It doesn't seem like music by humans, but for humans made by some all knowing and strikingly convincing bearded auteur.
The 11 songs are comprised of various low budget synth representations of classical instruments such as "horns," "strings," and "brass." There is an aray of percussion used to establish rhythm and build ebb and flow of song throughout. Sampled and processed pigments are also scattered to paint in what I can only assume is the sounds of the age of MacBeth, which is I believe a Shakespeare play? Either way I am led correctly to think about empires, castles, steeds, fallen heroes and plague ridden villages weeping at an uncaring moon.
I can harp all day about the somewhat cheap nature of this release, and knowing nothing else of this bands discography turn my nose up at it for fear that I might end up with a lap full of their stuff if Im not careful. After all though this album rules, it always satisfies me. Its like a dirty woman I go back to every few years when I'm in the mood for mild drug use, alcohol abuse and the risk of an STD just to have sex with a woman that I dont have to call the next day.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The new Peste Noire shows a lot of promise:
Pensées Nocturnes is taking "depressive" to a new level:
The new Ruins of Beverast is even further off the deep end:
Njiqahdda from Illinois is as productive as it is enveloping:
Skagos is throwing emo in the pot and stirring it up:
Panopticon is all over the place but brilliant all the same:
Forging some really unique "indie" black metal here:
This should continue to be an exciting new year and who knows what 2010 will bring us. I see a greater chasm growing even wider between the underground and those bands that you see in all the magazines like Behemoth, 1349, Enslaved, etc. This makes that mediocre stuff seem all that much more trivial in the end.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Do you ever listen to an album and after your first listen you feel like you know it really well? I find this happening to me when an album fills a void for me. Or completes a connection, and makes a next logical step in the progression of a certain marriage of styles or atmospheres. I feel familiar at these times because I feel familiar with what I want to happen, what I need a band to deliver. I always need it until I find it.
Whether you like them or not, Wolves in the Throne Room is making an influence. I'm not 100% confident saying that Skagos is hugely influenced by Wolves, but that Skagos takes many of the same elements and influences and has recorded the next logical step beyond that which Wolves in the Throne Room perfected.
Skagos has big riffs. Big, huge, churning, long, traveling kinda riffs, but they come in many different types. This album's charm though not uncommon, is the use of ebb and flow. Riffs drift and build and are harmonized upon and build rhythmically as the percussion also fantastically builds the repeating riffs until they soar and pick up tempo. All of the instrumentation is used magically to achieve this effect. Clean choral type vocals, bongos, acoustic guitar, killer bass playing, you name it, its all present and totally ruling. This band along with a growing number of cohorts (including Velnias) among the youthful genre employ a familiar style based on this technique: establishing a simple power chord or note that is often returned to and built off of for most of the song. For me this can be likened to the strong choral elements of the first Ulver album. This may not sound like anything all that original in black metal and I'm not saying it is extremely so, but I find its a strong tendency and a thing I like a lot about this album.
Overall "Ast" is an exciting mark of birth upon a genre that I hope I never get sick of. If the fact that Skagos' members just graduated high school in May is any indication, there is a bright future for these gents, though I'm afraid to report that after two forthcoming splits or so and a full length Skagos will cease to exist as reported on their page.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I've been wanting to write this review for over three years. In July of 2006 Incursus took the pulpit at the Gathering of Shadows deep within the woods of the Colorado mountains. I took to the hillside under a pine tree and I lay down peering toward the stage lit by the full moon, burning torches and two cauldrons of burning roadkill on either side of them whirling throughout the enigmatic night sky. What was conjured at this time will never be paralleled again. The true potential power that black metal art holds was risen and it fully harnessed my mind during this time. To take part in a ritual with as much power as this is a highlight of my life. Having said that, I awaited for three long years to see if Incursus could release an album that captured that demonic energy and make it as effective as their live ritual was.
Yesterday I received "Eternal Funeral Trance" in the mail. This album is a hellish maelstrom of evil. Nothing can top seeing Incursus live but this album is the next best thing. The riffing and the production remind me of the faster moments of Inquisitors era Deathspell Omega as well as the Manifestations 2002 album. No bullshit fast paced tremolo picked chords are abundant here. At times this fits in nicely with some faster bands like Handful of Hate and Black Death Ritual but its hard to categorize it for that because the M.O. here isn't speed, its to conjure the most diabolical music known to man. I can verily say with great heartiness that this record accomplishes just that with fervor and accomplishment. The drumming is competent and fairly one dimensional, which is what this sort of thing calls for: high hat blasting til the heavens collapse. I found the vocals rather unique here. They are somewhat of a rasp and half whisper. At times there are extra vocal overdubs that drive the powerful atmosphere further. I can tell that I will be playing this album quite a bit in the coming months. I strongly urge you to pick it up if this sounds like anything up your alley. Hails to Tomas and Forever Plagued for finally getting this album out.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I want to bring to light a rather overlooked demo from a talented band called Autumnal Winds from Minnesota. This demo satisfies well a very melodic, vivid and well composed style reminiscent of early Greek and Swedish metal bands of the early to mid 90's and not the ultra-produced hyperspeed Necrofaggot bands that come from these countries today. The music bears a strong resemblance to early era Ophthalamia.
The melodic harmony of the lead and rhythm guitars as well as the dual vocal style are the main selling points, but also note-able here is a superbly clean and candid recording. This lends even more credibility to the sparse and lush atmosphere achieved. The mid paced songs travel the listener fluently through well played, unique and remarkably stylish riffery which range vastly from many different known techniques. The song writing is not very repetitive, and incredibly solid. Its very apparent that a lot of thought and creativity inspired this release. Among all this very pleasing and arid listening is my only complaint about the album. The drum machine sound is rather cheesy. Its not so much that it sounds all that bad, but I know that this album would be helped greatly if this were a real drummer playing these parts. This is why I'm incredibly thankful that Tanner is re-recording these songs with his new band Obsequiae which emplores an incredibly talented drummer who is in also in a band called Mortality. The drum machine kit ued could be incredibly worse as I have heard on other albms, but here its just very dry and drab. On a final note there is a prevalent use of keyboard which accompanies well and further embellishes the remarkable guitar work.
If this sounds of interest to you at all I urge you to give this a listen if you can and also be sure to check out the excellent Obsequiae when their debut comes out. You can already hear a few remade versions by following this link: http://www.myspace.com/obsequiae Also Obsequiae has agreed to let me do an interview with them once the demo comes out, so be sure to check that out once its completed.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
When writing reviews sometimes it feels severely limiting to use mere words to describe a profound and involving media such as music. When is comes to an album like this, words that put this music into perspective are few and far between.
When I first listened to this I was in a small village in western Ireland. I had holed myself up in a 100% pitch black bedroom when I pressed play. From the onset, the world that Wintherr has created on this album began to draw me in. In such an otherworldly manner my aural palate was filled with whirring, buzzing guitar distortion playing rather long and memorable evocative riffs. The repetition of the riffs is key to the atmosphere here. It draws you in more and more in a hypnotic whirring daze. The fidelity of the guitar recording is so misshapen and almost unfamiliar that you begin to fill in the blanks, telling yourself what you are hearing from time to time. The drums are so buried in the mix, that when audible, they are moreso an inferred afterthought. The tempo is more determined by the guitar playing than the drumming. Amidst this web of callous otherworldly hell is a painful ethereal shrieking that is only heard in black metal. The vocals are sparse, and like the drums sometimes meld in with the all involving guitar distortion so much that you cant quite be sure if you're hearing the recording or if your mind is becoming numb.
On a majority of Paysage d'Hiver's songs there is an accompanying yet subtle keyboard heard, often playing the main guitar riff. This is one element that I think draws a parallel to Wintherr's other stupendous band Darkspace. In both Darkspace and Paysage d'Hiver, minimalism is used exactly how it should only be used. Rather than taking on the form of typical music in a way that pleases listeneres with melodies, choruses, tempo changes and lyrics, a vivid atmosphere is formed from codependant and cohesive elements and textures. This I believe is a wonderful testament to the breadth of what we as humans have left to explore with music.
I am tempted to say more about this great great album but I dont want to give away all the details. If it sucks you in and you listen to this album, you are in for an infinity of distance for it to do so.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
From the onset of this album it is clear that 1349 is reaching outside the box for a new direction. Sailing far away from their last album Hellfire which was pretty much a death metal album with black metal tuning, they seem to be trying to incorporate more experimental and atmospheric elements into the fold. While this is mainly ineffective and messy most of the time, when there is some actual music going on, its really convoluted and messy. Gone is the brilliant riffing found on the debut EP or Liberation, gone is the brilliant hyperspeed blasting of Frost, gone is the...metal! This is like a "flash in the pan" ambient / soundscape album with the occasional minute and a half or so of music.
The album was co-mixed by Tom Fischer of Celtic Frost. Why? You got me. The guitars are severely over driven and a murky muddy mess which also buries the drums in the mix. While not a whole lot to write home about, i'm actually pretty impressed by the way the vocals sound on here. Lots of varied unique engineering and panning that breathes life into an otherwise standard vocal performance.
The song writing on here is flaccid and underwhelming, but the riffing is just downright boring. There are several riffs on here that make me think I'm standing in guitar center watching some dork fuck around on an Epiphone. I think 1349 decided that it had been too long since their last release, so the guitar player threw some riffs on a tape and sent them to Frost. During the lunch break he got on the one day he took to write and record Satyricon's "The Age of Nero," he whipped up 15 minutes of drumming over the riff tape and sent it to the singer to add his stuff.
After suffering through this whole shitbarf of an album, I can honestly say there is only one song that is even a song. Track #4 "Maggot Fetus...Teeth Like Thorns" is a somewhat speedy turd that actually feels like a song, but its merely ok at best. While I wasn't a fan of Hellfire, I would take it over this album any day. Stop wasting our time and give us something worth downloading.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Best come back album in black metal ever. Given that statement, this album is only "pretty good." I'm not a fan of come backs...at all. I know the circumstances surrounding every one of them differ greatly, but really, if you bury a band, keep it there, here is why.
Its just not a viable thing now that umpteen bands have taken the path Beherit paved so much further than they ever did...and certainly not 16 years after the release of their last metal album "Drawing Down the Moon." SIXTEEN YEARS!!! That albums kid can legally drive now. Engram is great for what it is, its definitely Beherit, but the conundrum with this sort of thing is you cannot evolve when you come up with this sort of sound, and you also cannot expect it to always sound new, relevant and innovative. Innovation is always specifically dated; and in music, especially strange demonic devil music, when something has lost its potency, its as flaccid as Stephen Hawking's hoo-hoo. I cant think of any bands "come back" album that rules. Given this heap of an opinion, I respect someone who can put all this aside and judge the album on its own accord.
Every second of this album is most definitely undeniably Beherit. More along the lines of The Oath of Black Blood and further removed from the more atmospheric leanings of Drawing Down the Moon. Its got a lot of vicious ferocity which is played in the trademark nihilistic and vitriolic manner that only Beherit can manifest. Holocausto's unforgettable barking vocals, the riffs that know no melody and barbaric caveman drums are all here. At times the recording is a bit too showy and full sounding. Beherit definitely have their fair share of recordings that sound like the engineer was strangled to death with razor wire, and most of the time that worked to their advantage. Here the guitar is vast, meaty and very synthetic sounding. Its done well enough to make this a very devastating record but I still have my qualms about how "normal" everything sounds on this. Excluding vocals, sometimes I feel like moments of the record could be mistaken for a new era Candlemass or Reverend Bizarre part.
All in all I'm really surprised this album is good but again I just feel like its relevance is significantly diminished. The barbaric black metal convoy left Beherit back in the woods 16 years ago but hasn't forgotten how great this band truly once was.
Gentle Giant is by far my favorite musical discovery of 2008. I still don't know much about this band and I've only perused the albums chronologically from 1970-1974, which were actually incredibly prolific years having released six albums in that time. I chose this one to review because it has so far been the most enjoyable in a plethora of ways, and it has most of the songs that they performed live on a Belgian TV appearance from 1975 which is what initially entranced me about this great progressive band.
Gentle Giant fall best within the fellow countrymen and prog chums of their day: Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Van der Graaf Generator and maybe even Jethro Tull. What sets them apart though is going to be hard to put into words though its clear to me. They have such a fervor for variance and creativity. They are unrelenting in painting the songs on this album with every tasty characteristic and vivid personality trait that they have to offer. Nothing is held back.
The bedrock upon which Gentle Giant's space station is built upon is rhythmically playful melodic synth work accompanied by gleeful, whimsical, and sometimes dissonant vocals. Each sci-fi themed tune is an experimental journey laden with catchy and masterful percussion, which drives forth the varied tempos from groovy stuff to sometimes jarringly technical wankery. When a lot of modern technically proficient drummers can shred their kit to pieces, drummer John Weathers knows his way around a groove without sounding too showy. While the guitar players are also awesome, I don't want to get off on a tangent here. Its important to note that no single member or instrument on this album is doing more than crafting and performing the Gentle Giant armada as a whole.
I dont know much about the limitations and abilities of studios in 1974 but I want to point out also that the recording on this album is unbelievable. It really takes Gentle Giant's style to a new level with great recording, panning and mastering that doesnt sound like a dusty old 70s record. Everything has a nice warm mid range tone that isnt mushy or convoluted.
If you're looking for something to come back to again several times for years to come, this is a must have.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
This is the kind of band that should only put out one album and then be done. Its a great idea but needn't be carried further than this one terrific slab of an album. Out viking-ing this album is unflattering and unpossible. While Isengard's "Høstmorke" and Otyg's "Alvefard" do come close, both are well established enough within their own persona that I wouldnt say they are frighteningly similar. While some tracks on here are traditionals (other bands doing the same songs can be found on soulseek), the whole album plays wonderfully ending in the epic "Noregsgard" which is a song that can also be found on Darkthrone's Panzerfaust with different lyrics. The music is very mid-paced and maintains a steady consistent pace which builds a staunch and catchy nature to the songs. Sung in Norwegian primarily by Satyr Wongraven, the vocals are always a perfect complement to the irresistable guitars. Kari Rueslatten's angelic singing can do no wrong here. Most of the time she lends backing vocals, but she really shines on "Langt Borti Lia" which she gets the spotlight on. Her incredible voice can album be heard on early 3rd and the Mortal albums. This is an album I have loved and come back to repeatedly over the years, and it never fails me.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Here's an all too dusty item from my collection. I see a lot of hype for this band lately, but little mention of their debut full length "Through Times of War." This is a solid release with a fair amount of diverse and atmospheric stuff going on. A lot of comparison could be drawn to early Satyricon and Emperor's work because of the layering of synth and often used power chord riffery.
The interesting thing about this release is that its the first of its kind to incorporate a heightened focus on a more angered and intense element while maintaining a great roving, galloping pace about it all. Its a teetering balance to stride but I think its success is proven in how memorable the riffing and song writing is. While I liked the next album "Agnen" a lot, I think this was the bands downfall that led to them now playing lazy and forgettable death metal ala Behemoth.
Its a very guitar heavy album but there is a fair amount of not so intrusive synth use and the vocals while competent and somewhat evocative, are sorta back seat on this knightly steed. The drums are gargantuan and perfectly reproduced by studio Brygga. It should also be stated that there is some noteworthy bass playing here, which is something I rarely take notice of due to faulty recordings within this genre. The album opens with some great memorable catchy melodic nordic type stuff which lasts strongly until the fifth song which changes it up a bit with a more dirgey and repetitive song, which is a preparatory precursor to the fucking infernal warmongeror that is "Obliterator." The album's closer is more of a return to the bands penchant for slower paced monotonous atmospheric material. Its got a lot of spoken word vocals and reverb laden guitar harmonies but all in all its not the best song on the album. After a few minutes of silence there's another song, its some bonus material that I'm going to forget is on here because its really stupid. It sounds like they had an unused second guitar track and the band recorded some improv stuff over it. Unnecessary and not worth having it on there.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Here's an album I hadn't listened to in at least ten years. Upon re-inspection I cant shake the feeling that I'm listening to a current BM release. This could unmistakably fit in with something released today. It reminds me somewhat of whats been coming out of Trondheim, Norway lately. Celestial Bloodshed and all those young misanthropes. The only thing that sets this apart from current stuff is that I feel like there's a stronger sense of innovation for it's time. This is evidenced by the varied instrumentation and style. I dislike when it feels like a band is out to prove a point by driving the nail too far into christ's already limp wrists. There are too many bands just beating a dead horse in the interest of a revivalist movement of this sort of early 90's black metal. If there is even a line between this revivalism and redundancy, its a thin one at best.
Though its a short listen, this is a great EP of mid-paced, unmelodic, nordic black metal from Nagash, who is better known for his contributions in Dimmu Borgir, is a memorable and worthy example of grim nordic art with the occasional viking-ish leaning.
Download: Troll - Trollstorm Over Nidingjuv
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Horna - "Sanojesi Aeaerelle" Seven years after initially hating this band, I never thought I'd be this enthralled with Horna. This album has so much to offer, everything about it is impressive.
Dead Congregation - "Graves of the Archangels" Christ is dead because of this ugly slab of death metal. Grab a fork and get ready to eat some fucking riffs.
Braindrill - "Apocalyptic Feasting" This album is out to deflesh you, and it accomplishes just that. Insanely technical and bludgeoning, you cant help but get suckered into thrashing to this album's unbelievable fury.
Coffins - "Buried Death"
Miserys Omen - "Hope Dies"
The Black - "Alongside Death"
Morbosidad - "Profana la Cruz del Nazareno"