Thursday, March 23, 2017 06:11

Archive for the ‘Cassettes’ Category

ARRIA PAETUS – ARRIA PAETUS (Lycaean Triune)

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Arria Paetus - Arria PaetusEmerging from the darkness, despair and desolation of Alaska, Arria Paetus spew forth their self-titled debut full-length and it’s immediately apparent that the flames of rage burn wildly in their blackened hearts. This album is imbued with venom, contempt and revulsion for all things human, blazing through the speakers like hot spears through the livers of mankind.

I have a real soft spot for any band that makes no effort to conceal their disdain for all life because, let’s face it, this planet is ruled by a race of fucking germs. Copious insidious melodies and the widespread use of dual vocals – black shrieks and death growls – complement the pummeling hostility and offer the listener’s ears some respite but, by and large, this is a caustic, angry and nihilistic affair. A labour of loathing directed at you and me, and rightly so.

Due to its ambitious nature, ‘Arria Paetus’ might appear rough around the edges, and slightly disjointed at times, but that only adds to the appeal when we’re talking about raw, underground Black Metal. All things considered, this is an excellent release. Give it a listen on Bandcamp and then order a tape before they’re all gone.

Evilometer: 666/666

SKÁPHE – SKÁPHE (Fallen Empire Records)

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Skáphe - SkápheSkáphe’s eponymous debut full-length comprises four great compositions of ambient but raw and scorching Black Metal, clocking in at 35 minutes, spread across two sides of a pro cassette. While this is no doubt a fantastic collection of underground Black Metal, the tape format simply doesn’t do it justice.

When a vinyl edition appears, that will really be worth purchasing. I have no enthusiasm for talking about tapes any more.

Evilometer: 555/666

PAYMON – REGNO OCCULTO (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Paymon - Regno OccultoI realise it is human nature to take every review with a pinch of salt (brilliantamazing…  awesomeesotericoccultblah blah blah)  but fuck me I have to say ‘Regno Occulto’ truly is a fantastic piece of work. The product of sole creator Lord Skarn, who hails from the historic Piedmont region of Italy, this 48-minute opus is without doubt one of the most impressive tapes to have graced my ears in recent years.

The composer / executor’s understanding of dynamism is all too apparent and his uncanny ability to convey these ideas stands out, with numerous devilish instrumentals providing a perfect supplement to some superb underground Black Metal.

While the BM quotient on its own might have come across as being fairly run-of-the-mill(-ish) had Lord Skarm not gone the extra mile along the left hand path, it is Paymon’s knack for ushering an otherworldly ambience and an almost cosmic atmosphere to the altar that stands out first and foremost.

Generally, I always expect a certain level of consistency and quality from Schattenkult anyway – but nothing could have prepared me for how good this cassette is. I almost feel ashamed of myself for just paying €3. The magnificent eleven-minute closer ‘Woe To You’ is worth double that on its own!

Evilometer: 666/666

ARIZMENDA – WITHOUT CIRCUMFERENCE NOR CENTER (Crepúsculo Negro)

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Arizmenda - Without Circumference Nor CenterOne would be forgiven for suspecting that I have a vendetta against this label – but I would contend to the contrary that they have a vendetta against me. And you. I purchased a third press of ‘Without Circumference Nor Center’ on tape about 18 months ago (I’m guessing here, lost track of that whole excruciating saga…) and the order took about six months to arrive (minimum). I posted a piece at the time strongly criticising Crepúsculo Negro’s customer service, but deleted that once the package arrived.

Disgusted by the ordeal, I never really listened to the tapes properly until now. Well, as it transpires, I will never listen to these tapes properly as the sound quality is an utter abomination. An insult. Essentially, what I have here is a fucked-up tape with a truly shitty sound so, despite being out of pocket, I still don’t actually know whether Arizmenda are any good or not. Really disappointing. Crepúsculo Negro could take a leaf out of Schattenkult Produktionen’s book.

(Also bought ‘Within The Vacuum Of Infinity…’ third press and, of course, the sound of it is shit too.)

Evilometer: 000/666

HERMÓÐR – VINTER (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Hermóðr - VinterSchattenkult Produktionen has few – if any – peers when it comes to consistently releasing quality Black Metal tapes. This label keeps churning out amazing analogue music that can be bought for a mere pittance and Hermóðr joins the growing legion of underground acts brought to my attention by Michael and his impressive imprint.

The vision and execution of one tortured soul, ‘Vinter’ provides us with six cuts of melancholic Black Metal spread out over 49 sanity-shredding minutes. Harrowing, bleak, despondent and thoroughly abject, this is clearly not for the faint-hearted. At times (particularly during ‘Månen & Skogen’ – the first tune on Side B), I found that the forlorn sense of misery was almost too much to bear and that the dejection was possible being laid on too thickly … but then I realised that was just my life.

By and large, this is a very commendable cassette. Comes as a pro-tape and the sound quality is very good indeed. Considering that Hermóðr’s dreary debut full-length will set you back just €3, it is ridiculously easy to recommend.

Evilometer: 666/666

ACUALLI – PACT OF POSSESSION (Crepúsculo Negro)

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Acualli - Pact Of PossessionAt 15 minutes, ‘Pact Of Possession’ certainly isn’t the longest tape I’ve ever heard. But thankfully, what it lacks in quantity, it more than compensates for in quality. And, at the end of the day, quality is all that really matters. Especially in the underground … and when we are talking about a demo cassette.

There are five excellent Black Metal work-outs on here as well as a nice instrumental offering. Although this is very much of the deepest underground, the songs are well recorded and executed and the sound is more than adequate for a tape / demo. Mostly, proceedings are harsh and raw and typically Crepúsculo Negro fare – but there are some insidious melodies lurking beneath the surface, which add greatly to the whole experience.

So, all things considered, Acualli is actually good.

Evilometer: 555/666

KROWOS – ENTHRONING OUR END (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Krowos - Enthroning Our EndHaving just booked another batch of eight new underground tapes from Schattenkult Produktionen yesterday, I took some time to listen back over some items from the last consignment procured from this unheralded German label. ‘Enthroning Our End’ from Krowos is an album that I probably should have acknowledged previously but time limitations invariably seem to frustrate me.

Anyway, it’s almost half an hour long and contains some lovely, freezing underground Black Metal art. Raw yet devilishly melodic (reminiscent in a way of Vardan…), ‘Enthroning Our End’ is a superb DIY effort from an impressive horde of Sicilians. If still available, you can pick this up for just €3 and don’t forget to look into Schattenkult’s impressive clutch of brand new releases while you are at it!

Evilometer: 555/666

DEPARTURE CHANDELIER – THE BLACK CREST OF DEATH, THE GOLD WREATH OF WAR (Tour De Garde)

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Departure Chandelier - The Black Crest of Death, the Gold Wreath of WarThe Black Crest Of Death, The Gold Wreath Of War’ is by no means a new release but, as it has only recently worked its way into my own personal collection, I deem it worthy of a quick review. Departure Chandelier is a strangely-named North American entity featuring members of Akitsa and Ash Pool and this is their only recording to date: a 20-minute, two-track demo cassette from mid-2011.

As well as being pleasingly professional and underground, the sound is also suitably eerie and unusual. Mid-paced, unsettling and somewhat off the wall, ‘The Black Crest Of Death, The Gold Wreath Of War’ is not just a very enjoyable experience in its own right but also hopefully a tasty appetiser for more to follow from this project.

Cheap, still widely available and well worth checking out. Also, I really like the Outro.

Evilometer: 444/666

TOMHET – SAMBLADE SOTKVÆDEN 2MC (Altare Productions)

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Tomhet -Samblade SotkvædenTruth be known, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the cassette format but tapes are a staple diet of the underground and you have to be prepared to deal with them unless you want to miss out on some gems. Tomhet’s spectacular 31-song compilation, ‘Samblade Sotkvæden’ is a case in point. This is a sprawling and high-quality underground Black Metal release that none of us should do without.

The main inspiration behind Tomhet, Kumulonimbus, is the very same man who gives life to the rather brilliant Wulkanaz. The two acts are rather similar in ambition and approach but subtly different (I suppose); both are equally appealing. The only negative thing I can say about ‘Samblade Sotkvæden’ is that it is almost too generous. Seems to go on forever. Not much of a complaint, is it?

There’s some fantastic music to be found on this nicely-packaged double tape and the sound is pretty good for a tape; it just goes to prove once more that the deepest underground has all the best tunes. Great stuff that won’t cost you an arm or a leg, provided you can get your hands on a copy (limitation: 300).

Evilometer: 666/666

VOLAHN / TUKAARIA – SPLIT (Crepúsculo Negro / Rhinocervs)

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Volahn TukaariaThis tape is a total insult and I have returned from semi-retirement to express my disgust. How two labels can come together and still manage to make such a cock of a release is beyond me. However, in the case of Crepúsculo Negro – whose inadequacies I was already all too familiar with due to a previous, almost-interminable delivery delay – it’s hardly a surprise.

The problem is so basic it makes me feel like a complete prick for having purchased the cassette in the first place. I’m listening along to the music and it just ends abruptly midway through the last song, i.e. the tape used isn’t actually long enough to hold all the music. Fucking amateurs. Purchased directly from the label, too, so no disreputable middlemen involved.

When labels display such blatant disregard for quality and integrity and can’t even be bothered to check to make sure that the full album is on the tapes before sending them out, you can but

Evilometer: Fuck Off/666

GORRCH – GORRCH (Schattenkult Produktionen)

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Gorrch - GorrchFeaturing Chimsicrin from Chelmno (a band I need to listen to properly), Gorrch is a new Dolomitic Black Metal duo worthy of you attention. This self-titled EP is only 21 minutes long but the five songs on ‘Gorrch’ are of a very, very high quality. And the cassette – which is limited to 200 units – will set you back a mere €3!

However, if you are seeking something professional and polished, look elsewhere. This delightful tape comprises ancient, underground Black Metal from the deepest, darkest trenches; eerie, haunting and with a genuine otherworldly vibe. It swirls, cascades and wraps itself around you like ravenous tendrils / branches, devilishly layered and textured, but very much analogue and authentic.

A lot going on and it reveals itself slowly, getting better with repeated listens. I have a great deal of time for the underground ethos of Schattenkult Produktionen and its ability to unearth exciting new sounds (like the astonishing Sale Freux); Gorrch is another fantastic discovery.

Evilometer: 555/666

FUIL NA SEANCHOILLE – HUNGER (Tour De Garde)

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Fuil Na Seanchoille - HungerI get a bit pissed off with tapes sometimes and find myself thinking that perhaps I’ll stop buying them. Of the various avenues open to mankind of listening to music, cassette is definitely the least convenient. Generally, also the shittiest-sounding, least versatile and ugliest-looking, too. A good experience like ‘Hunger’ can quickly remove all doubts and misgivings, however.

In stark contrast to many other tapes, which are often mere demos and can include only a handful of songs, ‘Hunger’ is a proper full-length in every respect and the quality of music on display here is absolutely top-notch. I’ve actually had this album in my collection for quite some time but have only got around to listening to it properly (pissed off with tapes…) these past couple of weeks. I have to say, this is an immense volume of work.

Raw, grim underground Black Metal with an immense, overwhelming sense of darkness and some majestic ambient passages is the order of the day. The sound is truly fantastic for an analogue release and, all in all, Fuil Na Seanchoille proves here that the self-titled vinyl demo collection was no fluke. This is even better. Limited to 200 units, however, and not exactly new, so you might have to dig around a little to bag a copy.

Resist the urge to pay some cunt over the odds, though (even if it is worth it) – a reissue is bound to follow at some stage. Or maybe a CD or vinyl edition. This album is simply too good to disappear into complete obscurity.

Evilometer: 666/666

MALÉFICES – ASARLAI (Versets Noirs)

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Maléfices - AsarlaiAsarlai’ is the third demo cassette from Maléfices and it’s the second one I managed to get my hands on. ‘Povr Le Sangs’ blew me away but I missed out on ‘Rites Crvels’ – much to my fucking annoyance. It can be seriously frustrating when releases are subject to strict limitation and you miss out through no real fault of your own (more due to inadequate distribution / lack of availability in Europe…).

Anyway, thankfully I spotted the third demo in a distro I use regularly and snapped it up. Even though it’s far from the longest tape I’ve ever heard, ‘Asarlai’ is nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable and once more singles Maléfices out as a truly special force. Today alone, I’ve listened to it back-to-back five or six times and, honestly, it gets better with every listen.

Obviously, being a (pro)cassette, the sound isn’t perfect. But it’s adequate and, with patience, you can bear witness to some fantastic, raw Black Metal with nice melodic and ambient touches. Demo or no, this is probably as good as any actual mini album that you’re likely to come across these days but – let’s call a spade a spade here – the tape format isn’t for everyone and it’s a real shame to see such good music available only in this ancient and almost-defunct guise.

How about somebody releasing all three demos together on one LP or CD? That would be just awesome. Over to you, Versets Noirs!

Evilometer: 555/666

PERFIDUS – I (Black Gangrene Productions)

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Perfidus - IIf I was in any way professional, conscientious or competent about what I do here, I’d have reviewed this cassette ages ago. I purchased ‘I’ almost twelve months hitherto and then completely forgot about it. My filing system is reasonably organised but I only spotted this one again recently … sitting benignly in a pile far removed from my main library of shit. A quick observation ensues, though I’m not sure if this debut demo is even available any more, doh!

There are three untitled tracks on the tape and the first of them is probably the pick of a well-above-average bunch (mellower and creepier, reminding me of Xasthur, Mons Veneris and Toil’s ‘Obscure Chasms’ for some reason), before we go into more typical Portuguese corrosive territory. Perfidus delivers savage, raw, not-giving-a-fuck-about-trends-or-people Black Metal – suitably dissonant, corrupt, horrible and unpalatable. Yet, there’s a charm and elegance (and, dare I say it, melody) to the buzzing maelstrom of barely-restrained chaos that has me going back time and time again (now that I’ve found it) for another peek / listen.

A cool band here (even if this release is all too fleeting) and one certainly worth keeping an eye / ear out for.

Evilometer: 444/666

UNBEING – TRANSCENDENCE (Terratur Possessions)

Friday, May 24th, 2013

There’s so much to recommend about Unbeing’s third demo cassette that it’s difficult to know where to start. This is one of those releases that I quite simply had to buy because of its place in Norwegian Black Metal history. I’m glad I bought it but actually don’t think I’ll be revisiting it too often, to be honest.

The product of a genuine underground entity from Norway, ‘Transcendence’ comes as a pro-tape and will set you back just €6. It contains only one song, which clocks in at somewhere in excess of 20 minutes (I didn’t time it) and that same tune is featured on both sides. So, if you have a trendy tape recorder, you can listen to it twice in one sitting!

Unbeing once featured the talent of one Steingrim Torson (R.I.P.), but Sarath stood in to assist the eponymous mainman (i.e. Unbeing) on this third and final chapter in the band’s short but intriguing history. The song itself is droning and sludgey blackness rather than Black Metal and I suppose it is kind of transcendental and mystical in a way. But – as well as being inexpensive and poignant –  ultimately, ‘Transcendence’ is also boring.

Evilometer: 333/666