Saturday, May 30, 2009

Paysage d'Hiver - Paysage d'Hiver

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

1349 - Revelations of the Black Flame

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.