Wednesday, November 22, 2017 03:21

Archive for January, 2012

BLUT AUS NORD – 777 – THE DESANCTIFICATION LP (Debemur Morti Records)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The Desanctification’ is the second part of Blut Aus Nord’s ongoing 777 trilogy of albums. It’s also their ninth full-length in total and the sixth since the French band reinvented itself and changed the face of Black Metal forever with 2003’s groundbreaking release ‘The Work Which Transforms God’. Since then, BAN has been a unique presence in Black Metal in that their sound is innovative, inimitable and utterly superb.

Vindsval’s vision is immense and I’m at a loss to understand why the scene isn’t cluttered with a host of second-rate Blut Aus Nord clones. Perhaps it’s because what BAN does is so unusual, it would be impossible to recreate or copy. Certainly, for whatever reason, Blut Aus Nord has been a trailblazing entity in BM for close to a decade now and ‘777- The Desanctification’ is a worthy addition to their extraordinary canon.

I’m not overly concerned with how this album fits within the overall context of the 777 concept or how it compares with this. I prefer to treat it as a separate record in its own right. As a stand-alone release, it is arguably slower and more atmospheric than a lot of what went before it but ‘777 – The Desanctification’ remains unmistakeably Blut Aus Nord – a chugging, swirling behemoth of urban filth and psychological decay.

As ever, not-so-subtle industrial elements are evident in a landscape that is both harsh and sumptuous. It’s easy to get lured into a false sense of security only to then have your ears blown out through your arse by an outbreak of violence. The conception and musicianship are second to none but what really seals this deal is the incredible presentation and attention to detail from the label, who have produced one of the finest-looking records (complete with colour on the inside of the sleeve!) you will ever see – or hear.

Obviously, this is mandatory in every way.

Evilometer: 666/666

SEAR BLISS – ETERNAL RECURRENCE (Candlelight Records)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Eternal Recurrence’ (god forbid) is the seventh full-length from dubious Hungarian band Sear Bliss, coming a whopping five years after its much-lauded predecessor, ‘The Arcane Odyssey’. Mercifully, this CD lasts for a mere 37 minutes. Any longer and I would have been in real trouble…

When I listened to this album, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In the end, I went for a combination of the two. Sear Bliss produce a really horrible brand of poncey, sugary, atmospheric ‘Black Metal’. Maybe it would appeal to fans of latter-day Enslaved or Pink Floyd fans or people in general who don’t realise or accept that BM needs a certain level of true aggression to make it authentic.

But for me, this is the sort of music I honestly can’t bear to listen to, let alone write about. Putrid non-Black Metal.

Evilometer: 000/666

ARS MACABRA / COSMIC EKPYROSIS – NIL SINE DEO (Grom Records)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

This split CD brings together two underground Black Metal hordes to which I had no previous exposure, so for that reason alone it represents a worthwhile investment. The fact that the quality of music on the disc is of an extremely high standard is a more-than-pleasant bonus!

Italians Ars Macabra kick the show off with three tracks totalling around 17 minutes. Not a lot to get one’s teeth into, granted, but enough to assure me that the next full-length from this trio will be well worth a listen… From the opening moments of ‘Manifestation Of The Curse’ I knew this was going to be decent. And we get a foul blast of ghastly, brash BM with abrasive vocals and caustic chords, all laced with a subtle hint of melody. Ars Macabra is an impressive band and they leave a lot of their more-established peers in the shade. I’ll have to delve into their back catalogue a little bit.

The second part of the CD belongs to Cosmic Ekpyrosis (great name) from the Greek capital and this is their first involvement on an official release, showcasing the four offerings off their 2010 demo, ‘Eliminate The Traces Of Reality’. Again, there’s an awful lot here to like. After a brief intro, the eponymous ‘Cosmic Ekpyrosis’ demonstrates that this mysterious entity can emit some scathing, foul blackness. Plenty of melody in the mix but it’s tempered by sheets of aggression and an almost deathly vibe that reminds me of Gorguts. But this is BM all the way.

The tempo never reaches ridiculous levels but the mood remains heavy and morbid for the duration of this commendable split album. Closer ‘The Devilish Angel’ – the slowest track – is arguably the strongest. It sounds exactly like somebody else but my weary mind can’t work it out at this late hour. As a short taster of what these two Black Metal acts from the macabre banks of the heaving Mediterranean can do, ‘Nil Sine Deo’ serves as a meaningful line in the sands of time.

Evilometer: 444/666

DEAD REPTILE SHRINE – THE SUN OF CIRCLES AND WOOD 2LP (Weird Forest)

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

It’s hard to know where to start when reviewing a release of this magnitude. While S. Devamitra’s work as Dead Reptile Shrine has always been intriguing to say the least, I wasn’t really braced for such an ambitious offering as ‘The Sun Of Circles And Wood’, which comprises a total of 20 tracks and some 132 minutes of music spread out across two full-length albums; namely ‘Circle Of Trees’ and ‘Circle Of Stars’.

The 2LP is released by a label that has no connection whatsoever with Black Metal but Weird Forest clearly knows how to produce, package and present vinyl as this whole thing looks and feels fantastic. Glorious gatefold sleeve, superb artwork, high-quality records … they’ve ticked all the boxes.

I simply had to buy this, even though it’s general unavailability meant purchasing directly from the label and paying through the nose for postage from the States. Musically, ‘TSOCAW’ is a definite improvement on its predecessor, 2008’s ‘Burning Black Infinity’. It’s not BM for the purists; more like ethereal, surreal, ambient blackness that’s sort of tripped-out and psychedelic. The music is weird and indifferent, cosmic at times; the vocals are just pure strange.

There’s so much music on the two records that I would be here all week should I try to analyse the album(s) fully. A sprawling work of art, ‘The Sun Of Circles And Wood’ needs to be digested to be fully appreciated. I have neither the time nor the patience to try to describe it in detail. I can’t even listen to it all in one sitting (notwithstanding the fact that I’d have to get up three times anyway to change the record or turn it over)! There are elements of post-BM and post-rock and experimental-blah-blah-blah that would normally put me off but DRS manages to keep everything within a very clear Black Metal shell.

At times raw and shadowy and visceral, other times reflective and melodic, this is one of the most demanding, varied and unusual albums I’ve bought in years. In a way, it’s hard to get into it properly because it’s such a vast album (and there are so many other bands out there to try out) but this is without doubt something of an underground classic worthy of your keenest interest.

Strange, strange guy; fucked-up album; what more could we ask for?

Evilometer: 555/666

THE RUINS OF BEVERAST – ENCHANTED BY GRAVEMOULD MLP (Ván Records)

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Enchanted By Gravemould’ assembles some odds and ends from assorted periods in TROB’s extraordinary career to form a mini-album that could be equally construed as either a stop-gap release of little true merit or an essential piece of work for completists, dedicated followers and the uninitiated alike. It all depends on your circumstances, your perspective, your degree of exposure to this ‘band’ and, of course, your level of cynicism…

So, is this a cash-grab from the label? Perhaps. You’d have to ask them. But there is merit in the argument that they are genuinely putting these tunes out there to allow listeners an opportunity to enjoy them together, preferably in the vinyl format (it’s also available on CD). Personally, I’m sitting somewhere in between: I rate The Ruins Of Beverast as probably the finest Black Metal artist in existence today, so this is already ten times better than most releases. At the same time, I’m not sure how mandatory it is.

The unbelievably brilliant ‘The Desert Lair’ – culled from the greatest split LP ever released – kicks things off and the bottom line is that if you don’t already possess a copy of ‘Gott In Uns’ on record then straight away you have to purchase ‘Enchanted By Gravemould’. Next up is ‘The Moselle Enigma’, taken from the infamous split with Urfaust, which unfortunately I don’t own. I don’t think the split was ever officially released. You had to ask the label for a copy; I didn’t. A decent song, but nothing overly-special.

Side A is completed by the eight-minute ‘Hours Of The Aequinox’, which originally appeared on the bonus 7” that accompanied the earliest vinyl edition of sophomore full-length ‘Rain Upon The Impure’. Again, I missed that. It’s a familiar-sounding song (could be called ‘The Desert Lair II’), sort of fizzing and raw and lo-fi, almost depressive but also grande. Worth having for sure, so once more here’s a tune that’s worthy of the price of admission.

The second side is more disappointing, comprising three covers of bands who must have influenced Alexander von Meilenwald in some way during his life, though thankfully this isn’t evident in the music he composes himself! ‘Enigma Of The Absolute’ is from Dead Can Dance (good for them); ‘To Have And To Hold’ was conceived by those masters of darkness Depeche Mode; and ‘Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium’ is of course a classic My Dying Bride epic from the 1992 EP of the same name.

The latter is a frighteningly faithfully rendition (all 16 minutes of it) and pays worthy homage to the masters of doom. I realise doom is an integral component of TROB’s unique sound but for me this side of the wax is sounding too much like Type O Negative for comfort. Not particularly what I enjoy but I knew this would be the case before purchase and still went ahead and parted with my cash.

All in all, ‘Enchanted By Gravemould’ is an interesting release that should bring great joy to many. It contains one side that’s close to perfect and one that’s far from perfect. I’m loathe to say anything negative about this incredible artist so I’ll conclude by recommending this to a degree but not nearly as wholeheartedly as I would endorse ‘Unlock The Shrine’, ‘Rain Upon The Impure’, and ‘Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite’ – which together constitute an unmissable triptych of true Black Metal majesty.

Evilometer: 444/666

RIDE FOR REVENGE – UNDER THE EYE LP (KVLT)

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The third full-length release from Ride For Revenge is yet another captivating odyssey. This band can do no wrong and ‘Under The Eye’ cements their position at the forefront of the frightfully fresh and vibrant Finnish Black Metal scene. While they may not peddle what you could call orthodox or traditional BM, RFR’s music is nevertheless intriguing, invigorating and downright essential.

Scaly, bizarre, semi-electronic opener ‘For Those About To Kneel’ doesn’t particularly fit in with the rest of the album at all. As intros go, it is dubious at best but I’m prepared to grant the artists the benefit of the doubt on this one, confident that it’s deliberately odd and unusual as opposed to just pure dumb and ill-thought-out. For the next 40 minutes or so, it’s a thrilling ride, culminating in the excellent title track, which closes with warm fuzz and noise and weird samples and spoken parts. A nice evil end to a deliciously-nasty slab of excellent extreme musick.

Here is a band that deserves to be enjoyed in the vinyl format. Their sound is perfect for black wax and they also release mandatory splits (such as this) as well as the compulsory LPs. Debut ‘King Of Snakes’ had me hooked from the off and ‘Wisdom Of The Few’ required repeated listening before its undeniable majesty finally washed over me. The new album hit me hard first time I spun it and it has been easily standing up to a ridiculous amount of repeat listens.

Bass- and drum-heavy, tracks like ‘Second Gate Opening With Power’, ‘Prevail In Hell’ (which features some almost psychedelic guitar playing at the end), ‘The Gutter And The Grave’ and the utterly schizophrenic, warped sermon ‘Through’ at the start of Side B are up there with the best songs of any genre you’re going to hear these days (not to forget the gurgling behemoth known as ‘From Darkness We Ride’), while the breathtaking instrumental tunes  ‘Conversation In Death’ and ‘The Hawk Appears’ are brilliantly-composed and -performed slices of dark dementia.

All in all, this is the latest chapter in RFR’s obscure take on weird slow-to-mid-paced Black Metal and it couldn’t be farther from disappointing. The whole ugly thing appears in a sumptuous gatefold sleeve, with one-sheet inlay and crazed lyrics included. I think you need this tribal, primal, deathly, haunting LP badly.

Evilometer: 666/666