Thursday, March 23, 2017 06:11

Archive for January, 2016

VOLAHN / SHATAAN / ARIZMENDA / KALLATHON – DESERT DANCES & SERPENT SERMONS LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Volahn  Shataan  Arizmenda  Kallathon - Desert Dances & Serpent SermonsContinuing where the astonishing ‘Tlilitic Tlapoyauak’ left off, ‘Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons’ is another collaborative effort from Eduardo “Volahn” Ramirez and his Black Twilight Circle horde of acolytes, who evoke from the arid, tumbleweed-strewn earth of Southern California a unique strain of esoteric, tribal, truly transcendental Black Metal of magical Mexican ancestry.

This time around, there are four acts involved – inimitable BTC daddies Volahn and Arizmenda back-to-back with lesser-sung scene heroes Shataan and Kallathon. Even though Shataan isn’t to my own personal liking, the record as a whole is rather amazing, with terrific ebb and flow, wondrous pacing, delivering three-quarters-of-an-hour of intriguing and genuinely different music.

Throw in a beautiful jacket, nice splatter record, booklet with lyrics plus poster and you just know ‘Desert Dances & Serpent Sermons’ is another sure-fire winner. Both visually and aurally, this split LP is a fucking feast, a conjuration to be celebrated and devoured.

Evilometer: 666/666

SERPENTS LAIR – CIRCUMAMBULATING THE STILLBORN LP (Fallen Empire Records / Duplicate Records)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Serpents Lair - Circumambulating the StillbornSerpents Lair from Denmark have overlooked the mere formality of sticking an apostrophe into their band name but, regarding vastly more important matters, they sure as shit know how to deliver moody and brooding Black Metal of the very highest calibre.

Marrying oodles of atmosphere and no little leadenness, ‘Circumambulating The Stillborn’ is an engaging debut album from a worthy new addition to the ever-burgeoning BM family, not far removed from Dødsengel in the hypothetical lineage stakes and perhaps boasting Icelandic kin, too.

I can’t read the accompanying lyrics properly due to a cunted combination of small, golden print and long-sightedness that becomes more pronounced with middle age but, hey, these first-world problems are what make life interesting. Along with wonderful Black Metal, death and disease.

Evilometer: 666/666

GENOCIDE SHRINES – MANIPURA IMPERIAL DEATHEVOKOVIL: SCRIPTURES OF REVERSED PURAANA DHARMURDER LP (Iron Bonehead Productions / Vault Of Dried Bones)

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Genocide Shrines - Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil Scriptures of Reversed Puraana DharmurderGenocide Shrines have most certainly hit the ground running on their debut full-length. ‘Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder’ is an astonishingly-accomplished body of work, a devastating Death (/Black?) Metal statement of intent that most scene veterans would struggle to match.

Sri Lanka is probably one of the last places on earth that I would have expected to give rise to such a masterful record. Having said that, when I visited the country a few years ago, two things struck me (apart from how fine the seafood was) – the cruel levels of poverty experienced by locals and how barely beyond puberty the soldiers toting massive machine guns at the airport in Colombo were – so I suppose it’s quite a fucked-up locale.

Anyhow, what we have here is 40 minutes of corrosive, militaristic, belligerent Death Metal in the vein of proven intercontinental warriors like Teitanblood, Witchrist and Revenge. This strain of relentless violent onslaught is obviously globally omnipresent now and Genocide Shrines smash it into the face as potently and debilitatingly as anybody else.

All told, ‘Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder’ is fantastic Death Metal, enhanced by some rather stunning tribal / ritualistic passages that perhaps nod tentatively in the direction of its exotic geographical origins.

Absolutely savage, in every possible way.

Evilometer: 666/666

RIDE FOR REVENGE – AGELESS POWERS ARISE LP (Bestial Burst / Northern Heritage)

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Ride For Revenge - Ageless Powers AriseRide For Revenge return rather quickly with a fifth full-length and it would be fair to suggest that ‘Ageless Powers Arise’ continues pretty much along similar lines to the previous four. These guys have a style all of their own and their sound is one of the most instantly recognisable in Black Metal – demented, twisted, warped, slow-to-mid-paced sonic majesty with lots of drum, lots of bass and lots of noise.

This is another suitably fucked-up, trippy ride and it’s one that you should most certainly take. Each Ride For Revenge record is as mandatory as the last / next. For quality and consistency, RFR is hard to top. Record comes in a gatefold sleeve with lyrics (and quite a low sound, so you have to crank it way up).

Evilometer: 666/666

MGLA – EXERCISES IN FUTILITY LP (Northern Heritage / No Solace)

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Mgla - Exercises In FutilityOnce, when I was grappling with the greater mysteries of life, I started reading a book called ‘Straw Dogs’, wherein the author – a British philosopher called John Gray – contended that humans are no more than deluded animals with no real worth or value in the greater scheme of things.

Despite our pretensions to grandeur and an innate sense of self, we are a destructive, arrogant, fluke of a species, falsely believing that our ability to use language and reason grants us an elevated status and importance. Ultimately, the grim reality is that we are no different from apes, fish and dung beetles.

The human race essentially comprises walking, breathing piles of shit and our actions, thoughts and emotions are meaningless anomalies of the human condition. Everything we do is pointless. There is no victory at the end, only death and oblivion, the same fate that awaits every living thing.

Realising that there was no actual point or purpose to anything I do, I never finished the book – a conscious decision that is highly apt, in the humble opinion of my ego.

Mgla have a similar outlook on life. Their music bristles with negativity, nihilism, apathy and a sense of hopelessness. According to these justifiably-downbeat Poles, our very existences are a waste of time – exercises in futility. This is a stark, undeniable truth and the rather alarming subject matter helps to elevate Mgla to the higher echelons of modern art, never mind the Black Metal underground.

This is another astonishing volume of work from one of the truly great acts of our (waste of) time. And I had no problem getting to the end of the record.

Evilometer: 666/666

DRUDKH – A FURROW CUT SHORT 2LP (Season Of Mist)

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Drudkh - A Furrow Cut ShortSo what does ‘A Furrow Cut Short’ bring to the pagan altar that wasn’t delivered on the previous nine Drudkh full-lengths? Absolutely nothing, to be fair. Yet, strangely, that is almost as much a compliment as criticism.

See, Drudkh was the finished article pretty much from the word go, so there hasn’t really been anywhere for them to evolve into since opening gambits ‘Forgotten Legends’ and ‘Autumn Aurora’ established them as a byword for Ukrainian Black Metal excellence.

Okay, they’ve tweaked their sound here and there along the way and those who live and die by the band (if such fuckers exist) will point knowingly and cerebrally to the various eras and epochs of their history inseminated along the way, but I never really listened quite closely enough and honestly would struggle to determine one Drudkh song – or album – from the next if played to me blindly (and I own (and appreciate) them all).

Is the law of diminishing returns setting in? Possibly. Is this mandatory? Probably not. But Drudkh are still recording very good Black Metal and long may it continue. I suppose it all comes down to how much of a Drudkh addict you are. Personally, I like ‘A Furrow Cut Short’ but won’t get withdrawal symptoms when I file it away.

I suppose the bottom line is that Drudkh has become such a safe bet that it’s hard to get overly excited – but the mark below speaks for itself. Double-vinyl edition is very smart, indeed, by the way.

Evilometer: 555/666

CREEPING – REVENANT LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Creeping - RevenantThere’s certainly a doomy vibe to ‘Revenant’, though possibly not as pronounced as I remember it being on the New Zealanders’ trailblazing debut ‘Funeral Crawl’ from almost a decade ago (their sound was very innovative back then, at least to my ears).

Creeping mix this doom into their trademark brew of mostly-slow-to-mid-paced Death and Black-ish Metal (‘Scythes Over My Grave’ is a more balls-to-the-wall affair…) to produce a very atmospheric concoction that’s difficult to describe (at this time of night) but easy to enjoy.

Considerably shorter than the band’s previous two full-lengths (five tracks; 32 minutes), this is a very professional-sounding and competently-executed heavy hybrid of many things, which comes in a gatefold jacket with a poster and a guarantee of satisfaction.

Evilometer: 555/666

ÆVANGELIST – ENTHRALL TO THE VOID OF BLISS LP (20 Buck Spin)

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Note: Meditation Of Transcendental Evil will not appear on the vinyl edition, but will be included as part of the album download with the LP. This infuriating oeuvre was gleaned from the 20 Buck Spin Bandcamp page and it saved me from wasting my cash on a truly ludicrous vinyl release. I’m speechless as to what the thinking behind this incredulous decision / oversight can be.

Why leave a vital, closing 14-minute-long track off the vinyl edition of the album? A quarter of the album is missing! The parting shot absent. What the fuck! Including a code for the missing track on MP3 is farcical. This is a staggering scenario.

I have the three previous Ævangelist full-lengths on LP format and will purchase ‘Enthrall To The Void Of Bliss’, too, once / if a proper version is made available containing the entire album.

For now, this is a shambolic and wholly inadequate offering that sticks two fingers up at those who wish to hear their favourite bands on vinyl. Somebody, somewhere has made a decision that makes no sense and others have gone along with that. Clearly, this should have been unleashed on 2LP.

Evilometer: 000/666

LVCIFYRE – SVN EATER LP (Dark Descent Records)

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Lvcifyre - Svn EaterLvcifyre’s ‘Svn Eater’ isn’t a new record but it’s one I missed first time around somehow and only got around to purchasing in the middle of last year. I’m giving it a quick mention here because I’ve been bingeing on it tonight – along with Adversarial, Osculum Infame (which I grabbed on vinyl and enjoy immensely), Revenge and Grave Miasma (despite my misgivings, eh?) – and it’s a really great LP.

In the unlikely event of you not already being familiar with this potent cocktail of chamber-dwelling Black Metal and Death Metal, complete with guest vocals from Mark of the Devil (Cultes Des Ghoules), then you ought to check it out. Poster and booklet with lyrics included.

Evilometer: 555/666

THY DARKENED SHADE – LIBER LVCIFER I: KHEM SEDJET 2LP (World Terror Committee)

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Thy Darkened Shade - Liber Lvcifer I Khem Sedjet 2LPDon’t think I’ve ever procrastinated over a review for as long as this one. I’ve been listening to Thy Darkened Shade’s sophomore full-length, ‘Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet’, around the clock(-ish) for a week now, waiting for the magic to kick in and grab me by the throat. But it’s not quite happening.

This is an album that I feel I should adore. Technically, it is nothing short of amazing. Considering that this has been spawned in the Black Metal underground, it’s a remarkably accomplished body of work. Acrobatic fretwork; bubbling, audible bass; astonishing stickwork – tick, tick, tick. Strong, versatile vocals with lots of variation, too.

The vinyl edition is exceedingly generous, with 80 minutes of esoteric art spread over two records … gatefold jacket, beautiful booklet. I know in my heart of hearts that Thy Darkened Shade are really, really good at what they do and I can find no fault with them nor any reason to be critical.

But, unfortunately for me, for some reason, I’m not feeling it. Even though it is meticulously conceived and superbly crafted, like Negative Plane on steroids perhaps, this masterpiece just isn’t for me. And I’ll probably never know why.

Evilometer: 333/666

ABYSSAL – ANTIKATASTASEIS 2LP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Abyssal - AntikatastaseisAbyssal’s soaring third full-length, ‘Antikatastaseis’, represents a magnificent accomplishment for this lone soul from the UK. Touched by genius, it rumbles along for almost an hour, with the seven generous helpings spread out evenly across all four sides of a noble double-vinyl edition, which is in turn contained within a sumptuous gatefold sleeve and also boasts an insert with lyrics.

To me, it is quite extraordinary that an album of this scope, complexity and sheer brilliance can be the fruit of one man’s labour. For an individual to conceive and execute such a wondrous tome is simply amazing; the label has then come in and done a great job in bringing that vision to the level it merits, aesthetically. Records of such quality leave me on a serious high.

Awesome.

Evilometer: 666/666