Saturday, July 22, 2017 04:40

Archive for August, 2011

A rolling list of recommended releases:

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

CRAFT – Void (Carnal Records) 555/666

EXORDIUM – In Wrath Principle LP (Northern Heritage) 555/666

KADOTUS – Vaienneet Temppelit (Werewolf Records) 444/666

NIGHTBRINGER – Hierophany of the Open Grave (Season of Mist) 555/666

EXHUMED – All Guts, No Glory (Relapse) 555/666

 

FALSE – UNTITLED EP (Gilead Media / Howling Mine)

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Gilead Media is on a red-hot streak at the moment so no surprise to discover they have unearthed another black-encrusted gem here with the debut release from Minneapolis black-metallers False – a vinyl EP comprising two twelve-minute-plus cuts. ‘The Key Of Passive Suffering’ and ‘Sleepmaker’ announce the arrival of a corrosive new force on the underground circuit and I would be bold enough to suggest that False (whose members are unknown) could become a lot of people’s cult favourites.

One of the first things to stand out on ‘The Key Of Passive Suffering’ is the scathing, visceral vocals which – accompanied by blistering guitars and coffin-lid drums – threaten to tear the skin off the listener’s agonised face. It’s really powerful stuff, not suitable for those who dig easy-listening BM. Not that there’s no atmosphere on this; to the contrary, it’s very atmospheric … it’s just that said ambience is so dark and impenetrable it almost passes you by. Except you feel like you’ve just gone three rounds with Floyd Mayweather, so clearly something has occurred…

The pummelling punishment and breakneck speed is broken up by some nice keys, which mercifully remain well caged in the background, but there’s no doubt that this music is all about intensity and bare-knuckle emotion – an ultra-violent adrenaline rush.

Sleepmaker’ is dirtier, crustier and sludgier, infused with genuine organic filth, swirling through the speakers like a fucking mudstorm, wrecking and ransacking, an ode of utter annihilation. But it’s not insanity for insanity’s sake; there is a melodic undercurrent and again the sparse use of keys takes away the dull edge (which might otherwise be overbearing). A majestic interlude also serves as an ideal counterpoint to the aggression, making for a perfectly-balanced piece.

While I’m certainly no advocate of EPs (which I generally think are a cop-out and / or rip-off), I am willing to make an exception for this one because a) it’s rather magnificent and b) it’s effectively retailing for the price of a single anyway, which makes a mockery of my personal objections.

Might be only 25 minutes long but ‘Untitled’ is nevertheless worthy of investigation.

Evilometer: 444/666

ASH BORER – ASH BORER LP (Pesanta Urfolk)

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

I was a bit slow on the uptake with Ash Borer, only discovering them rather belatedly through their exceptional split LP with Fell Voices, which was released by Gilead Media a couple of months back (and is also an essential purchase). Thus, I missed out on the original incarnation of AB’s debut album – the cassette version released by Psychic Violence Records (frontman Kyle’s own label, I think). I was therefore greatly relieved and overjoyed to learn that Pesanta Urfolk would give this music the glorious vinyl treatment it richly deserves. A copy was promptly ordered and – despite the high postage cost from the USA – I have no regrets whatsoever about this purchase. In a word, this record is stunning.

Originally committed to 2” tape at Shipwreck Studios in Oakland, California towards to end of 2010, the three tracks that constitute ‘Ash Borer’ are powerful enough to take your breath away. Lengthy exhibits of what is nowadays known as Cascadian Black Metal, they will leave you gagging for more. Similar in feel to bands like the aforementioned Fell Voices and WITTR, Ash Borer deliver raw, emotional BM with more peaks than the Alps, more highs than a party at the Playboy Mansion. Repetitive, simplified, rumbling and oh-so-captivating, this is how Black Metal should sound in 2011. The Europeans may have invented Black Metal but I think they’ve missed a trick creatively speaking.

In the Midst of Life, We Are in Death’ and ‘Rest, You Are the Lightning’ are the two songs on Side A. The former lasts for around twelve minutes and will keep you engaged effortlessly as it switches between all the motions on the darkness spectrum, while there is barely a pause for breath before the latter erupts magnificently through the amp, into the speakers and into thine ears. The incredible 20-minute ‘My Curse Was Raised in the Darkness Against a Doomsday Silence’ on Side B is the coup de grace, an extraordinary work of underground Black Metal that can rub shoulders with the genre’s greats.

In short – without wishing to be overly dramatic or sensationalist – Ash Borer are one of the most exciting new Black Metal bands to emerge in the past decade and this record is utterly mandatory in every way.

Evilometer: 666/666

GOATMOON – VARJOT (Werewolf Records)

Friday, August 12th, 2011

This one is pretty disappointing. Having been blown away by the Finns’ stellar contributions to recent split releases in collaboration with Dead Reptile Shrine and Azazel, I was looking forward to their third full-length with a real sense of anticipation. This was one of my most-anticipated albums of 2011, so I suppose it had a lot to live up to, but it hasn’t produced the kind of magic I was expecting.

Maybe I set my sights too high, I don’t know. Maybe I don’t get Goatmoon as well as I thought I did. But for whatever reason, ‘Varjot’ falls way short of the mark. I’m sure many metal fans will love this and it could well be remembered as one of the cult releases of the calendar year but to my ears it’s way too melodic and simple and safe. It’s the kind of pagan Black Metal that might appeal to fans of bands like Nokturnal Mortum, with loads of keyboards and flutes and pleasant sound effects thrown into the mix – as well as sparse use of clean vocals. Black Metal for girls, in other words.

It’s a big, big let-down. Goatmoon should focus more on producing raw and grim BM and forget about the silly melodies. Pity. Aw, well.

Evilometer: 222/666

AZAZEL / GOATMOON – SPLIT LP (Werewolf Records)

Monday, August 8th, 2011

I knew this all-Finnish collaboration was going to be something special so I just had to buy it. The main reason I parted with my hard-earned cash was to get a listen to the Goatmoon tracks, as their contribution to the ‘Winterforest’ split LP with Dead Reptile Shrine pretty much blew me away, but I’m pleasantly surprised to report that Azazel actually steals the show on this release.

That’s not to say Goatmoon doesn’t deliver because we are served up some wonderful true Nordic BM done in the ancient style. After the disappointing opener ‘BlackMetal Winter’, which is cornier than an old hag’s foot and cheesier than a scrap in Pizza Hut, BlackGoat and co. get into their stride in irresistible manner, fashioning some stellar Black Metal magick, no more so than on the super ‘BlackGoatWorship’ – an exhibit of prime underground black majesty – and the stunning closing track ‘Fourth Reich’. These Goatmoon tracks were recorded last summer and there’s enough on here to whet my appetite for the just-released full-length, ‘Varjot’.

On the flip side of the record comes four tracks from the relatively-unknown Azazel, which were recorded three years ago. ‘Praise Hail Satan’ is all murky noise and evil feedback, while ‘Rebellious Angels’ is a grimy, filthy slab of coarse, ugly, raw and primitive Black Metal – like a BM version of Napalm Death, maybe. ‘Evil Spells From The Black Gods’ is a bold title but it walks the walk –  a thundering piece of unprocessed, uncomplicated Black Metal spewed out with utter contempt – before ‘Werewolf Howling’ completes Azazel’s magnificent contribution in soaring, barrel-chested fashion. Brilliant stuff. You’d be mad not to hunt this down.

Evilometer: 555/666

ARGANORK – DUSIOS (Ancestrale Production)

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Arganork is the Black Metal face of schizophrenic French extreme metal merchant  Satyriasis Demonius von Nettesheim, also of Death Metal / grindcore entity Cosmoloco. I’m not at all familiar with Cosmoloco (sounds a bit too ambitious for my liking…) and probably never will be but ‘Dusios’ – released in 2010 – is an excellent piece of work. As good a BM demo as you’re likely to hear.

Occult Black Metal with a ritualistic feel and a real ancient vibe, excellently performed by one man who uses traditional instruments and some beautiful ambient touches to create a dark but pleasant sound. For a demo, the production  is absolutely top notch and the musicianship as a whole – both in terms of conception and performance – is right up there with the very best European peddlers of blackness.

If you appreciate (mostly mid-paced) underground BM with a sinister current running through it, then you can’t go wrong here. ‘Dusios’ is a wonderful release that gets the balance right between rawness and atmosphere and makes for an unexpectedly thrilling 37 minutes or so. I have no hesitation whatsoever in giving this tape a hearty seal of approval.

Evilometer: 555/666

OV HOLLOWNESS – DRAWN TO DESCEND (Hypnotic Dirge Records)

Friday, August 5th, 2011

The first song on this album, ‘Old And Colder’, did nothing for me at all but thankfully ‘Drawn To Descend’ is an improvement. The title track contains a nice mix of raw and atmospheric Black Metal – pretty simple and straightforward stuff, well composed and executed. A good enough tune, but again not great…

However, the third opus, ‘Desolate’ is a vast improvement. This one is slower and much more atmospheric than its predecessors and suggests to me that Ov Hollowness is in his comfort zone when speed is eschewed in favour of atmosphere. ‘Desolate’ is a truly excellent track that would be at home on most creditable ambient / depressive BM albums.  Pity the same can’t be said for ‘Winds Forlorn’, which is tedious and boring to my ears (not to mention the clean vocals, urgh). Sort of put me right of… ‘Drone’ is almost on a par with ‘Desolate’ and ‘The Darkness’ is more thrash than black (i.e. a complete waste of listening time).

To be honest, this isn’t the kind of Black Metal I enjoy. It’s brilliantly composed and has a stellar production allowing everything to come through crystal clear, while I prefer something creepier and rawer. I believe anybody who enjoys melodic and / or ambient Black Metal should enjoy this because it does what it does well. Without meaning to be patronising, I can see this being extremely popular. But it’s just not for me.

Evilometer: 222/666