Monday, May 29, 2017 07:44

Archive for June, 2011

GRAVSORG – VISIONS OF DEPRESSION (Nykta)

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

This is a really dull album. I mean that in a good way. Danes Gravsorg play an excruciatingly dreary form of depressive Black Metal that has the same effect on the senses as the darkest funeral doom. The mood is sombre and negative, from the cold, oppressive opening strains of the ‘Intro’ right through to the closing melancholic meanderings of ‘Preferred Exit Part II’. I genuinely felt like killing myself for the entire 36 minutes and, to be honest, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

For those who love music full of nothing but negative feeling, ‘Visions Of Depression’ is a masterpiece. But for older, more mature folk like myself, who are getting closer to the cold grave and starting to shit themselves and think that maybe we have something to live for after all, it could be too much. It could push you over the edge, upset your happy equilibrium and send you reaching for the nearest razor blade / box of pills / elevator / rope / machete / car keys / or whatever.

Bleak, crestfallen and without any hope of salvation, these guys have created an album so suffocatingly depressive that it should come with a health warning or a shotgun. Yet, there is something beautiful and blissful about the whole thing. Even though I won’t listen to this a great deal in the future – and I certainly won’t subject my children to it – I’d still rate ‘Visions Of Depression’ as a bit of an unheralded classic.

Released back in 2009, this slow-paced, chilling exercise in morbid misery (like a darker but less enticing Hypothermia) is the fuzzy antidote to the naivety and dumb happiness of the FaceBook / iPhone / reality TV generation and should accumulate a significant bodycount by the time it disappears off the face of the planet. It is dull at times (deliberately) and the album just seems to dwindle away at the end, petering out without warning, but I’m sure that’s all in keeping with the artists’ disposition.

Evilometer: 444 / 666

DEATHSPELL OMEGA – DIABOLUS ABSCONDITUS / MASS GRAVE AESTHETICS LP (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

There’s nothing new on this release, music-wise, but “Diabolus Absconditus / Mass Grave Aesthetics” is well worth purchasing if you don’t already own these two stellar tracks. “Diabolus Absconditus” was Deathspell Omega’s contribution to the mandatory Northern Heritage triple album “Crushing The Holy Trinity”, while “Mass Grave Aesthetics” was released separately as an EP in its own right three years later (2008). Together, they make for a wonderful ‘album’ (which is listed as an EP but costs the price of a full-length and, in fairness, lasts for a full 42 minutes).

The two length tracks sound like they may well have been recorded as part of the same session (I think this may be the case but am not sure…). This is prime DsO, with a myriad of sounds and emotions churned out in amid a maelstrom of orthodoxy. There are plenty of tempo changes and no shortage of atmosphere but proceedings remain harsh and ‘black’ throughout, as the band eases through its tried and trusted template in stunning fashion. I believe these two songs are as strong as anything else this great outfit has released and – cynical as I am – I refuse to disregard this as a label cash-grab. It’s a worthwhile release and one you should consider tracking down.

Evilometer: 555/666

AKASHAH – BARBAROUS (Cold Northern Blood)

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Akashah is a one-man pagan Black Metal entity from Illinois in the USA, fronted by Thuriaz, who unleashed his debut album on CD format four years ago. This is the limited edition cassette re-release of that recording – “Barbarous” – which has just been lovingly recreated by a fresh and vibrant new Canadian label, Cold Northern Blood. The red pro-cassette looks and sounds fantastic and – for just CAN$6 – is also an absolute steal.

I must admit I’d never heard these songs before, but I’m certainly glad “Barbarous” has been re-excavated because this is some cult USBM. It’s more ‘black’ than ‘pagan’, thankfully, and it’s all preserved in a harsh and raw shell, adding greatly to the underground authenticity of the music. While all the songs are creditable efforts, ‘Hate Ritual’, the closing track on Side A, was the first to really make me sit up and take notice. It’s a versatile and ambitious tune that truly encapsulates what Akashah is all about – cold, melodic-yet-raw, mesmerising Black Metal art performed with no shortage of passion or skill.

Flipping the tape over, “A Cold Emotion” is more restrained, setting forth in a more atmospheric direction but all the time maintaining that edge that makes Thuriaz’ music so compelling. From there to the finish, it’s a captivating ride, with plenty of tempo changes and shifts in direction but too much clean vocals and synths for my own personal liking. These are not for me, but many of you will have no problem whatsoever – will probably enjoy them – and they are sparingly used, in any case. The impassioned, emotional penultimate offering “For Celtic Blood” is also worthy of special mention – a rip-roaring anthem fired by integrity, verve and pride. Enchanting, addictive stuff. And ambient instrumental closer “Bewitchment (Arya)” could command a place on any atmospheric Black Metal masterpiece.

Throughout, the ambient passages and the impressive interplay between the instruments, coupled with the use of varying vocal tones, combine to capture and hold the listener’s attention for the full 51 minutes’ duration. It’s heartening to know that music as good as this can be acquired for so little. But move fast, there are only 100 units available and I suspect that a lot of them are gone already.

Evilometer: 555/666

MORBID ANGEL – ILLUD DIVINUM INSANUS (Season Of Mist)

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

It’s soul-destroying when a band as seminal and genre-defining as Morbid Angel descends to such a shameful low. “Illud Divinum Insanus” represents one of the saddest and most-embarrassing moments in Death Metal history. This so-called album is shocking and it merits no further comment either from me or from anybody else. Avoid like the plague and seek out the new Autopsy instead. Even the new Lady Gaga would be an improvement on this.

Evilometer: 000/666

SVARTRIT – I (Bubonic Productions)

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Swedish entity Svartrit is something of an anomaly, even by Black Metal standards, having released their first three full-lengths of anti-cosmic fare pretty much at the same time, in 2010. Bubonic has just issued the cassette version of the debut – “I” – and, being the curious so-and-so that I am, I just had to get my hands on it. It’s a pro MC with nice presentation and it set me back just €4, which is a good start by any standards.

The album is a haunting, at-times-chilling affair but falls somewhat short of delivering everything it promises. It’s good without being great; enjoyable and intriguing but neither mesmerising nor addictive. Mind you, not too many releases are, so perhaps I’m being a little harsh… This is one of those inoffensive, pleasant BM albums you could listen to all day long without becoming bored. It’s reasonably raw and ragged but also melodic in parts, similar perhaps in spirit and tone to Arckanum or Nastrond – without ever sounding exactly like either.

The guitars are shrill and thin, the drums sound like a chicken’s head being banged against the lid of a coffin, the vocals well-executed if understated standard rasps, with a little variation (most notably on “Jätten”, the brief eighth track). All in all, this is reasonably infectious stuff that’s more than worthy of investigation. It’s certainly one that keeps the underground flames burning brightly, even if it falls slightly short of being a classic.

Evilometer: 444/666

VESANO – GRITOS DO TEMPO (Dunkelheit Productions / Bubonic Productions)

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Is that a treasure I see before me? For nary the first time, I find myself richly rewarded for delving deep into the underground, granted suitable recompense for the investment of time and money such endeavours demand. A gamble, some might say, but not I, nay. For the evidence before me, in my hands and more importantly in mine ears, doth confirm that no gambles, no risks were taken. When treats like “Gritos Do Tempo” are at stake – can be accumulated for a mere pittance – where is the potential loss? Ah humbug the fuck with it all, suffice to say this album rocks like a bastard.

Vesano is a Brazilian entity that specialises in an addictive strain of raw, lo-fi, simplistic Black Metal, mainly of the repetitive, mid-paced variety. The music is so uncomplicated, so basic and so unadventurous that it would be easy to miss the point entirely, to overlook how creative this band is, how organic, how they hone the most straightforward notes and chords into a majestic Black Metal soup, one that tastes vile, so loaded it is with pathos and sombre salty decrepitude, stirred by hands of melancholy, enhanced by accompaniments of disgust. Not to mention lashings of longing.

The compositional skills at play are nothing short of startling, culminating in a profound listening experience that’s impossible to ignore. The seven songs spread out over 49 minutes, escorting you to a dark and lonely yet blissful place. Similar in tone and texture to the latest offering from Grimlair, “Gritos Do Tempo” is nonetheless wholly unique in the magic it weaves – even with a nod to Lynyrd Skynyrd (!) – and is one of the most essential Black Metal albums you’re going to hear this year. But act quickly: this collaboration between these two exceptional labels is limited to a mere 500 copies and will henceforth in all likelihood disappear forever.

Evilometer: 666/666

HYBAN DRACO – DEAD ARE NOT SILENT (self-released)

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

I’d never heard of Hyban Draco until they contacted me last month to see if I’d like a copy of their sophomore CD, “Dead But Not Silent” to review. I agreed and the disc promptly fell through my battered, dusty letterbox, containing ten tracks of melodic Black Metal competently delivered by four very young Spanish musicians. This isn’t the sort of eerie, raw underground BM I normally listen to but it does what it does very well and I have to admit it’s well-executed.

One of the album’s real strengths is the ropey production, something that always helps add an extra dimension of credibility in my book. Unfortunately, my personal taste is pretty discriminate and this album isn’t my cup of tea at all but if you like the idea of well-composed and -performed melodic, spacey, cosmic Black Metal then you should check out this unknown Iberian quarter.

Hyban Draco are talented guys and I’m sure there will be many who will appreciate their style of BM.

MALCUIDANT – ET LES CIEUX S’ASSOMBRIRENT (Self Released)

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

I’m pretty sure this is the first self-released album I’ve reviewed (it’s certainly the first for this website) and what a high note to start on! ‘Et les Cieux s’assombrirent…’ is a really great release, one that should come with a stamp of underground authenticity. Not only does it reek of good old-fashioned DIY aesthetics, Malcuidant’s second full-length also happens to be a damn fine Black Metal album.

Generally, there aren’t too many decent bands going down the self-release route, so maybe that’s why ‘Et les Cieux s’assombrirent…’ is such a breath of fresh air. It’s not a cheap CDr either – this is the real thing, a proper pro-CD in a sumptuous digipack with stunning layout and lyrics included. While a label may get the music more exposure, some labels also shit all over bands and bleed them dry so kudos to Ayrhomm and Garrgl for going it alone (although they do still retain their strong ties with Total Holocaust and a few other imprints).

The music itself is aggressive, fast and violent BM, with more than a hint of melody but still as raw and fresh as a cigarette burn. On many levels, it reminds me of the utterly excellent Obtained Enslavement album ‘Soulblight’. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be this harsh. All the songs are in French and the album is done and dusted in 42 minutes (seven tracks). It’s the kind of intense Black Metal that could give you a migraine – always a good sign!

Malcuidant don’t pull any punches. Their independent spirit has given rise to an unrestrained slab of devil-may-care Black Metal, conceived and executed with more than a touch of class. This is a really good album for anyone who likes fast and fierce BM with a trace of variety. The best part? It only costs €10, postage included, directly from the band.

Evilometer: 444/666