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Archive for December, 2011

BLACK CILICE – A CORPSE, A TEMPLE LP (Discipline)

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Previous exposure to Black Cilice was zero so this represented a journey into the (relatively) unknown. Hardly a leap of faith, though, as I know Discipline / Bubonic invariably release superb stuff. True to form, ‘A Corpse, A Temple’ is another sure-fire winner from the Iberian Peninsula. We get six tracks of Portuguese Black Magic forged in chaos and fire, steeped in damnation, a conjuration that could almost tempt the dead back from beyond their final resting places.

If you like melody and some degree of accessibility in your Black Metal, then look elsewhere. From the moment ‘The Gate Of Sulphur’ rips into my living room, it is obvious that Black Cilice has no place for such sentiment or needless embellishment. I’m sure there is some semblance of order amongst the swirling, suffocating, all-pervading maelstrom of gruelling disharmony but for the most part this record is all about noise, pace, aggression and intensity. With no let-up.

Harsh and sheer, unearthly, otherworldly, ‘A Corpse, A Temple’ is grim in a manner that 99% of Black Metal bands couldn’t begin to comprehend. ‘Night’s Veil’ charges forth like a herd of lost souls, a murder of vultures seeking freshly-spilled life and ‘Blood To Murder’ is relentless, unremitting, a barrage of black noise that pounds, pummels, disorientates and – well – satisfies in abundance.  On Side B, ‘The Key’, the delightfully-addictive ‘Resurrection Of Dead Curses’ (with its almost tribal mantra) and ‘Among Dead Rats’ hammer home the painful point, invoking the dead, imploring them to return.

Instead of vocals, we are presented with harrowing howls, shattered shrieks and all manner of wails, moans and bellows. Drums crash and pound like jesters dancing on coffin lids, the guitars hum and fizz – a tortuous cacophony of flayed, discordant chords summoned by the truly demented. While ‘A Corpse, A Temple’ is undoubtedly a difficult, energy-sapping and demanding listen, it is also pure and true and ultimately exceptionally rewarding. The essence of underground Black Metal.

Evilometer: 666/666

FLAGELLUM DEI – ORDER OF THE OBSCURE (Pestilence Records)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I’ve never been to Portugal but I believe it to be a sunny territory – you wouldn’t think so from listening to Flagellum Dei’s third full-length ‘Order Of The Obscure’! I suppose it’s time we rid our minds of the contention that frozen, desolate landscapes give rise to the best Black Metal; that’s no longer the case, necessarily.

The subgenre has become immune to geographical factors. With bands like Irae, Defuntos, Morte Incandescente and the incredible InThyFlesh, the Portuguese have proven that they can grim it out with the best of them and Flagellum Dei is another dank entity worthy of respect.

Order Of The Obscure’ delivers 40+ minutes of intense, searing, chaotic Black Metal with more that enough variety to render it a compulsive repeat listen. One of the first things I noted was that it had a proper Intro (a rarity in BM these days), which sets the tone brilliantly for the onslaught to follow and frenetic tracks like ‘Conjures Fire’ and ‘Inferno Em Mim’ made an immediate impression on me. This is genuine blackness, full of anger, hate and passion.

Fuck, they can even get away with using some clean-ish vocals, such as on the title track – a devilish, diverse workout of diabolical darkness and undoubtedly one of the best Black Metal songs you’re going to hear this year (or what’s left of it). The hymns are all reasonably short apart from epic, seven-minute centrepiece ‘Necropolis’, an emotional, emotive, disturbing journey through the darkest recesses of the heart, soul and mind; an offering that confirms Flagellum Dei’s status as a real underground force.

The inclusion of a second instrumental – the creepy ‘From The Dark Light…’ – breaks things up perfectly and adds further to the tremendous sense of (foreboding) atmosphere prevalent on this magnificent nine-part collection, while the thrashing ‘Ossadas’ carries enough venom to rip your face off.

In short, you couldn’t possibly regret buying this.

Evilometer: 555/666

SALE FREUX – LA MELANCOLIE DES PENNES (Selbstmord Kommando Produktionen)

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Clocking in at 44 minutes approximately and taking up one side of a pro-tape, ‘La Mélancolie des Pennes’ is the monumental sophomore album from French sensation Sale Freux, one of the Black Metal underground’s best-kept secrets. If ever there was a valid reason to start buying cassettes again, then this has to be it. The prime expressive outlet of a sole entity known to his friends as Dunkel, Sale Freux is a vibrant concern that has yet to put a foot wrong during the course of its stellar, fledgling career.

If debut album ‘Subterraneus’ came as a breath of fresh air, then this follow-up rubberstamps SF’s status as genuine contenders to a murky throne of chaos. Deploying a rich and varied approach to traditional BM, with the use of an ambitious array of instruments, ‘La Mélancolie des Pennes’ is top notch from the opening strains of quaint instrumental ‘Èclat d’Ailes’ right through to the closing volleys of ‘L’Envol Grave’.

Everything in between is equally exceptional. The six songs proper are lengthy and involving, averaging seven minutes’ duration and including frequent excursions and mood changes. Complementing the music, the packaging is great: nice minimal artwork that suits perfectly and the inlay includes all lyrics – a nice bonus considering the measly price of admission. My grasp of the French tongue is far from adequate but I think it would be safe to say that the subject matter is dark, sick, deviant and corrupt. The parts I can grasp are disturbingly insane.

The guitars are fuzzy, lo-fi and relatively melodic (acoustic at times, which would normally cause me to suffer a stroke, but Sale Freux pulls it off with style), most of the rawness emanating from the shrill shrieks that pierce the night sky, ripping the listener’s soul like some harbinger of death, a rapier to the eardrums, a knife through the speakers, dripping of despondency and despair. This is depressive Black Metal that will dispel all your preconceptions of what depressive Black Metal is … because it doesn’t sound like a typical band that might fit in such a category.

The production does leave a lot to be desired at times, but that authentic, underground cassette sound / feel is part of the overall charm and, if anything, adds to the already considerable appeal… Minor quibbles are that the album is shorter than the debut and I would also prefer if the music was divided evenly over two sides rather than just one; otherwise, the whole package is superb.

Musically, it’s less forced or contrived, more organic, honest and genuine than most of the music being churned out in the current climate, where bands are content just to copy one another and go through the motions. Of course, that’s not to say that Sale Freux doesn’t sound similar in many ways to a thousand other BM bands – it is Black Metal after all and stays safely within confines that need to be applied more rigorously – but there’s a subtle, unique twist applied in the most natural of ways by Dunkel and somehow he manages to sound a million times better than nearly all his peers.

No mean feat, that. Quite a prestige, in fact.

Evilometer: 666/666

 

THRONE OF KATARSIS – VED GRAVEN (Candlelight Records)

Friday, December 16th, 2011

[A review of this release would have appeared here if a) Candlelight’s CDs weren’t so disgracefully overpriced and b) their pathetically condescending PR department hadn’t treated me with total disrespect when I contacted them seeking assistance. What a shame to see such a fine band associated with a bandwagon label that doesn’t represent the underground.]

 

CRAFT – VOID 2LP (Southern Lord Recordings)

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The European vinyl edition of the latest Craft album was handled by Trust No One Records and disappeared again as quickly as it surfaced. Thus, even though I dwell unhappily in the going-down-the-shithole-fast Eurozone, I had to seek out the US equivalent, which is a fantastic effort from Southern Lord – even if it did cost me an arm and a fucking leg. For $18 plus almost $20 for postage and packaging, I received a fabulous 180g 2LP in deluxe gatefold sleeve. Opted for the clear-with-grey-splatter version and it arrived in less than a week. Looks the part for sure, but how does the fourth Craft full-length (and first in six years) sound?

Well, to start, the follow-up to ‘Fuck The Universe’ contains one of the most pointless intros in Black Metal history (not sure how ‘John’s Nightmare’ even merits a title) but the remainder of Side A is superb, especially the stomping and varied ‘Come Resonance Of Doom’. From the get-go, it’s clear that years of silence have not blunted the Swedes’ swords; mastercraftsmen they remain; composing and executing ancient-sounding, primordial Black Metal of the highest calibre.

Though it is more accessible and melodic than a lot of the albums reviewed on here, ‘Void’ still packs a considerable punch and I can’t imagine it disappointing any fans of traditional, orthodox Black Metal. Without coming close to being spectacular or ground-breaking in any way, this double record manages to deliver the goods impressively.

So, we get three songs on Side A and three more on Side B before proceedings close in monumental fashion with ‘Bring On The Clouds’ and the epic eight-and-a-half-minute title track on Side C. Call me weird, but I always feel let down when there is nothing on Side D. For tidiness sake if nothing else (not to mention the possibility of improved sound), the music on a 2LP should be spread evenly over four sides. Either divide them up differently or throw on some bonus material.

All in all, though, ‘Void’ is a solid effort from seasoned campaigners, worthy of the financial outlay – but don’t feed the greed of Ebay speculators to acquire it.

Evilometer: 555/666

HUMUS – ART NOIR CLANDESTIN (Selbstmord Kommando Produktionen)

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Sale Freux mainman Dunkel (vocals, bass, guitar) joins forces with drummer Èclat Cadavéreux to form Humus, a band similar to the aforementioned Sale Freux but with a slightly more mystical, rustic, forest-y bent, if you get my drift. This debut full-length comprises three long tracks, stretched out over some 32 minutes in total, and was unleashed by SKP on cassette format four months ago.

I listened to ‘Art Noir Clandestin’ a few times upon purchase but never had time to scribble a review. I only remembered it today when I received an email from the label informing me of their four new releases (including a mandatory new SF album, which will be something else indeed if even half as good as the unsurprisingly sold-out ‘Subterraneus’). Anyway, I lobbed the Humus debut into my cassette player again this evening and was blown away all over again…

I like the primitive sound and I love the crisp, natural underground vibe seeping out through my speakers. Even though the music is suitably raw and rough, there’s still an atmospheric element at play which renders the whole thing both palatable and disturbing. There’s not much to say about this wholly creditable, wonderfully organic UGBM release apart from the fact that it’s fascinating, genuine and available from the label for a mere pittance.

I think you should check this out and grab a copy of the new Sale Freux full-length while at it cos this Dunkel guy is producing some seriously impressive shit these days.

Evilometer: 555/666

 

FELL VOICES – DEMO LP (Analog Worship)

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Regular readers of this website (i.e. myself and that American prick who keeps sending me hate mail) will know I have a soft spot for the incredible Fell Voices. Without doubt, this is one of the most mesmerising Black Metal bands to surface in the past decade and, true to form, this vinyl edition of their two-track demo cassette from 2008 hits the nail on the head.

I simply had to purchase as I already own all FV’s other releases on record and completion is essential for OCD sufferers, but I knew there was a slight risk in stepping back to the Cascadian campers’ pre-official-release days. However, I needn’t have worried unduly because – while the songs are undoubtedly rawer and less-refined than their more recent output – this is nonetheless exceptionally high-quality fare.

Side B – ‘In The Hands Of The Blind God’ – is utterly magnificent, easily on a par with the ridiculously-good tracks on the ‘Untitled’ LP, taking the listener off  in a multitude of different directions, while ‘Theobromo’ on the first side is the most primitive-sounding offering I’ve heard to date from Fell Voices.

Even though this is not an essential purchase (after all, it’s just a demo remastered and carved into black wax), it’s still ten times better than most of the so-called BM albums coming out these days and it runs for a generous 36 minutes. So I tip my hat to Analog Worship for excavating it from the vaults of time and guarantee prospective buyers that they can’t go wrong with this one. Or with any other Fell Voices album(s), for that matter.

Evilometer: 555/666