ALTERED BEAST-LIVING FOR THE SIN
They are one hell of a curious entity this French four piece outfit Altered Beast especially considering that the label their full length album 'Living For The Sin' is released on is predominantly death metal oriented Great Dane Records and they most certainly are not of that genre.
Kind of a throwback to the heady seminal days of eighties traditional metal, hair metal and hard rock comprehensively stirred up in a powerful combination with classic thrash metal Altered Beast are definitely another of Great Danes wild card rostered items (alongside the very eclectic Formanyreasons).
Born way back in 2004 with a view to 'continue the spirit of eighties rock n' roll' and marry it in a rocking union with thrash Altered Beast rose from the ashes of a previous band Decline of Humanity and weathered a couple of storms in the way of line up shifts and a self imposed hiatus before emerging triumphant with a full length long player.
Now comprised of FLH-lead vocals, Nicklaus-guitars and backing vocals, FX-drums and backing vocals, Olaf-bass and backing vocals Altered Beast are active once more and the fourteen piece 'Living For The Sin’ album almost one hour in total duration is testament to that.
With a one minute intro segment opening the show Altered Beast raise the curtains on 'Living For The Sin' in a stream of winding axework, huge bass resonations and drums aplenty and then knuckle down to the task of 'continuing the spirit of eighties rock n roll' crossbred with thrash on first proper track 'Vibration'.
Percussive attacks, squealing pinches of guitar and appropriately enough vibrating bass set course or a good old rocking punkish riff that kicks along at a nice rushing gait with lead guitar swooping overhead.
Blending a heady brew of classic traditional metal, power metal, thrash and hard rock into a catchy recipe the French foursome ignite, spilling snarling vocals into the composition.
Clean singing methods and even some power metal screams come to prominence as the track proceeds along with myriad soloing exhibitions, bass well up in the sound, high end licks and bounding riff patterns, and though it isn't short of ideas some of them may breed confusion.
'The Madness' is more of a power metal thrasher, short and to the point with a freight train barrage of riffing infused with a prolonged scream and a chorus of screeching voice exhalations, coursing over pummeling drums, solos courtesy of guitarist Nicklaus clearly announced by vocalist DLH stating the obvious 'lead guitar' prior to the requisite shredfest.
Some of the numbers on the album have a reasonable length to them ('No Lies Without War' clocks five minutes and pure hard rock closer 'Ways Of Betrayer' spans beyond seven minutes) but generally speaking they are short, sharp, relatively basic and fun, averaging three and a half minutes though a couple, including the bristling 'Last Dance' aren’t much longer than two.
Altered Beast couldn’t be accused of being mental geniuses when it comes to lyrics; the themes used throughout aren’t superbly taxing on the brain or designed to be complex thought provokers ('All I Want is Sex With You', 'Jesus And My Motorcycle') but then again these particular types of music the band work with aren’t exactly meant to be, they're intended to be fun and this crew adhere to that ideal perfectly.
The aforementioned 'Jesus and My Motorcycle' is one of the highlights of the opus, a thrashy rocky tongue in cheek item that powers along at a rapid clip, one of the paciest numbers of the bunch and effortlessly entertaining.
It also tends to steer away from much of the trad/power metal vocal register that has inflicted a lot of the album which is a bonus in my book and sticks more to an edgy thrash style, aptly fitting with the prolific use of bass lines and sharp snappy riff assaults.
Besides, any song about Jesus Christ drinking in a bar and then getting his ass kicked for pinching somebody’s motorcycle is definitely worthy of scoring a bunch of points regardless.
The outfit have a massive bag of riffs that they continue to dip into and distribute liberally throughout these fourteen items making up 'Living For The Sin' and they materialise with frequent regularity in thrash patterns, melodic death type gallops and just straight forward rock and roll, and the bass too has myriad moments to shine.
Not once over the entire course of the album does the bass suffer or is it left to languish as an underused implement; all its parts have been pushed well up into the forefront of the sound which adds plenty of appeal and a solid dimension to the whole thing, intermingling adroitly with the variety of formations laid out by sticksman FX.
Lead vocalist FLH has a fairly impressive range too, taking elements from a diverse spread of genres though my ambivalence towards power metal voices as a whole sees my preference being for when he maintains an edgier thrash tactic to distribute the lyrics.
Altered Beast are a fun band, full of energy, enthusiasm and good rocking tunes and 'Living For The Sin' is a top album for entertainment value and eschews technicality in favour of likeable catchy metal.
Will it expand your mind and vastly broaden your musical horizons? No.
But does it continue the spirit of eighties rock n' roll and metal? Hell yes and if you long for those days you'll love what Altered Beast are dishing up.
3. The Madness
4. Last Dance
5. Final Assault
6. Jesus Christ and My Motorcycle
7. Living For the Sin
8. Lost In Paradise
9. No Lies Without War
10. All I Want Is Sex With You
11. No Compromise
12. Altered Beast
13. Killer of My Nightmare
14. Ways of Betrayer
Nicklaus-guitars and backing vocals
FX-drums and backing vocals
Olaf-bass and backing vocals
Written by Jamie Goforth
ANTIM GRAHAN- I WISH YOU DEATH
Formed back in 2004 Nepalese black metal outfit Antim Grahan (whose intriguing name actually means 'the last day on earth before the Armageddon' in their countries native language) are perhaps the biggest band in a scene that's really starting to take off, they were the very first band in the extreme genres from Nepal to score a record deal.
The group (made up of Pankaj Shakya-guitars/bass,Niraj Shakya-keyboards, Parash Shakya-vocals and Gobinda Senchury from fellow Nepalese black metallers Kalodin on drums-on this album) have morphed through several subtle sound transformations over the eight years of their career and have an impressive collection of recorded output that would put plenty of bigger more recognised extreme metal scenes to shame, counting one initial EP in the year of their inception and five full length albums over the course of the following years.
Originally based solely in a symphonic BM sound awash with keys, synths and female vocals, probably all of which drew heavy influence from the likes of the usual suspects (think early Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir etc.) Antim Grahan gradually shifted into a far heavier prospect that whilst still predominantly black metal also experimented extensively in death metal and grindcore with 2010's full length 'Putrefaction Eternity' loaded up with those latter elements.
The newest opus from the Nepalese aggression machine 'I Wish You Death' pares back a lot of the death and grindcore aspects and keeps things entrenched in a fast thrashing black metal style, albeit tinged with the symphonic but not to the extent of earlier material.
Only five tracks comprise the album but due to their fairly lengthy durations together they manage to span the platter out just beyond half an hour in total run time, the shortest of the five here still reaching past five minutes.
Antim Grahan don't waste any time with trying to construct atmospheres or build things up with any fluffed up symphonic preamble on opening track 'Upon The Liar Of Demon God'; they launch hastily into a tremolo fuelled tempest that fulminates around blasting battery, punctuated by a prolonged bestial utterance.
Twenty seconds into this stygian melee and the rasping lyric dispensation of vocalist Parash Shakya is employed, his rough vocal grate immediately dispelling any similarities to the Cradle of Filth types, it is much more aggressive and virulent and appropriately matched to the smouldering music that pummels in tandem.
There are numerous symphonic elements alive in the midst of this, ghostly keys, atmospheric moments and slight orchestral vibes that float throughout lending an occasional air of delicate beauty to otherwise openly antagonistic instrumentation but they never become overbearing or unwelcome, or negate the impact dealt out by the axework and the brutal rhythm section.
Massive galloping thrash passages add some muscle around two and a half minutes though the dreams tone down to straightforward beats when they do and then this is promptly swamped by a tidal wave of blackened fury.
'Upon The Liar Of Demon God' is an outstanding opener, relenting only once with a temporary shearing of everything but lilting chorus voices and grand organ notes and next track up 'Heaven Ends Here' follows its trajectory with a like-minded blast off introduction.
This monster erupts in a stormy black mass of ferocity methodically populated by growls, razor sharp blades of riffery that seamlessly veer from glacial tremolo patterns to thrash heavy brutality with merciless blasting barrages of battery (the octopus armed drumming provided here by Gobinda the sticksman for Kalodin, also currently reviewed here).
Once more symphonic flourishes are in attendance among the colossal rhythms and the exemplary axemanship dealt out ruthlessly by the guitarist while vocals elicit rasps of abrasion and strident bellows but again the synth/key usage is spectral, occasionally barely perceptible but there nonetheless, cleverly implemented as augmentation and enhancement.
One might even refer to this as brutal symphonic black metal which may sound like a bit of an incongruous tag for it but all the requisite elements exist in it and who is to say something can't be both brutal and symphonic simultaneously? This is.
The album’s title track 'I Wish You Death' is a lengthy beast that sprawls out to a rough duration of eight and a half minutes and it begins the journey in more of a sedate manner than the previous tracks as it chases dancing keys and measured chords with a soaring ethereal female vocal.
The radiant beauty presented in the introduction to this piece contrasts with the biting blizzards of those prior but the gathering intensity of the instrumentation assembling behind the waiflike vocals suggests ominously that the black metal stormfront is coming here too and around one minute or so indeed it does.
After this charming restrained intro only one other transitory moment of quiescence reappears in the track in the form of a lull with a sombre drift of the orchestral but aside from that 'I Wish You Death' stretches dragging vocal fury over a savage collage of black thrash, tremolo ice and skull crushing percussions.
Of the five compositions here 'Vicious Majestic Endeavours' is the one that hosts most of the death metal hangovers of the bands last album with scores of DM type guitar work laying an intricate tapestry of both melody and brutality atop jackhammer battery and armed with ragged vocal belligerence.
It is all tempered with keys, patches of regal and majestic vibes but in line with these elements utilised elsewhere in the album they are employed in ways that create haunting atmospheres which work incredibly well amidst the brawny ferocity.
The latter half of the song tones down the tempo to an extent though not so much with regards to the rhythm section; as it has done even in slower guitar passages in this and earlier it keeps up an incessant barrelling.
'Glorious Funeral Winterland' wraps things up with another reasonably measured opening stanza where waves of melodic guitar engulf standard drumbeats and snarly rasps before dropping the foot down hard on the gas.
A nice combination of the brutal (drums and vocals) and the beautiful (guitars, keys and backing vocals) this track is perhaps the most accessible of all for those who may be overwhelmed by the more extreme end of the scale.
If I had to pick any negative aspect from the album as a whole I could possibly only make reference to the bass being either underused or merely subjugated by the power of the other instruments. It isn't absent, there are spots over the half hour course that it unfurls in more audible patterns but as a whole it doesn’t get to shine where it could but that's a small and inconsequential grievance since the album is strong overall.
'I Wish You Death' is a storming seething stomp of fury that profoundly demonstrates that using symphonic features doesn’t make something lightweight in the slightest; this is relentless from start to finish.
If you profess to support extreme metal scenes on a global scale start by checking out what's going on in Nepal, and start with Antim Grahan.
1. Upon The Liar of Demon God
2. Heaven Ends Here
3. I Wish You Death
4. Vicious Majestic Endeavours
5. Glorious Funeral Winterland
(on this album)
Parash Shakya - vocals
Pankaj Shakya - guitar
Niraj Shakya - keyboard
Surya Pun - drums
Bhaskar Swar - guitar
Kundan Shrestha - bass
Written by Jamie Goforth
DARKENED SOULS-AND THE LIGHT CRIES UPON US
They aren’t the most prolific of bands Finland’s Darkened Souls with just the two albums to date in their six year existence; debut 'Tales from the Dark Path' and this one, their latest opus 'And The Light Cries' Upon Us'.
Since they last appeared on Black Belle (which was back when that first aforementioned album 'Tales From The Dark Path' came to fruition) Darkened Souls have ushered in a new bass player and whilst maintaining a five piece line up at least for live performances the main musicians responsible for the recorded work on 'And The Light Cries' Upon Us' has them pared down to a trio (band founder Jani-vocals, all guitars and bass, Samuli-keys and Kalle-drums with guesting musicians/vocalists appearing on half the tracks).
Like its precursor opus the newest platter from the Finns is a diverse spread of styles and genres, not something that sticks clearly to one particular branch of the metal tree with facets of death, black, traditional, doom, gothic and symphonic all coming into play over the sextet of tracks that form the album, just under forty minutes in total duration.
'Circle' gets things promptly underway on a good note with a healthy growl exploding out of a persistent clanging percussive train and a hooky BM kind of riff, before the drums amplify their presence and their pace and frontman Jani sets off on a rough grating series of lyric deliveries.
Darkened Souls have heavied up their sound a measure or two, here anyway on this introductory track for while the growls and deathly roars of the previous record sometimes trumped the instrumentation here the guitars though tinged with melody are suitably matched to the vocal attack being a solid death/black hybrid ringing atop incessant battery.
Keys and aspects of the symphonic are floated throughout the flow of the track, the piece a conglomeration of black/melodic death/gothic metal parts into which a clean solemn voice is introduced prior to winding lead guitars.
At approximately two and a half minutes all of the beefier instrumentations and vocal inclinations disperse and what’s left is evocative strains of acoustic guitar and doleful clean singing backed by a lilting shadow but it isn't too long before heavy chords and an extended mournful lead break act as prelude to a return to tremolo picking and death roars.
'Dark Morning' overwhelms an ambient intro swell with ceaseless drum clatter and a rolling wave of riffery that loads itself up with thrashy vibes, a host of experimentation and even suggestions of industrial.
Here the initial voices begin their excursion in the clean domain with resonant echoes affecting the tone then the harsh growling variety comes onboard in the company of monstrous thrash chops, pinch harmonics and consistent skinsbeating, and as the track proceeds the pair of differing methods square off to take turns with the lyrics.
As they do the music that accompanies them takes on two different characters to suit the light and shade presented, with the clear sombre Vortex (Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir etc) brand tones occurring when the drums are sedate, the keys prevalent and the guitars melancholy, and the more abrasive vocal roughness generally assisted by relentless battery, big looming bass presence and edgier axework.
The vocals of guest Ereluna add a beautifully ethereal dimension to 'Enemy', the sweet female tones a nice contrast to both types of chief male techniques and they instigate this track they appear on, making it at first appear as though it will be a rather gentle symphonic metal item a la Within Temptation, Leaves Eyes et al this initial impression however merely a clever illusion.
A choppy helicopter rotor blade salvo of riffing bursts in on the heels of the radiant feminine voice and this intro style is switched for abrasive black metal rasps that bear more in common with bands like Dimmu Borgir, even Rotting Christ.
Between these sandpaper barks and aggressive riffing in verse parts the band decant melodic death/traditional phrases that offset the more violent instrumentation and these moments ripple with a good measure of groove to them.
'Enemy' has a plethora of activity happening over its six minute duration and it features some very captivating episodes, adeptly balancing the keys, organ sounds, symphonic trappings and ghostly female vocal laments with thrashy chugs, lead guitar melodies and prominent bass, and shows plenty of what the Finnish crew are capable of.
Quite reminiscent of Norway’s Trail of Tears this composition is one of the standout tracks and despite the amount of separate genres that all find their way into the number it still manages to come across as a fairly cohesive and strong song.
'Under The Dark Sun' is similarly comprised of multiple genre elements with them all wed together in a tight union that doesn’t overplay its hand or outweigh one with another, mixing beefy muscular convoys of riffing with fingers of melody and forlorn keys, also alternating the soulful folky voice with dark abrasion that often creaks in sibilant whispers.
To further the atmosphere evoked by the assortment of styles and blends in this track Darkened Souls throw a curveball into the frame by the addition of cello, this unexpected instrument sneaking in around three and a half minutes where the band take one of their customary detours from solid moderate heavy rhythms into downcast acoustic based interludes.
Another one of the more impressive items of 'And The Light Cries Upon Us' 'Under The Dark Sun' is both rich with constantly haunting organ melodies and clean vocals, and thick palm muted riff progressions and snarling bestial stuff.
The lengthy 'When Light Cries Upon Us' doesn’t hit as many high points; it has the band in wandering progressive dispositions, diffusing substantial melody throughout its framework and soaking in profuse keys, and closes the album out in a reflective manner, at eight minutes or so possibly a fraction too long (though it pretty much sticks to the exact blueprint mapped out on the acts debut album).
'And The Light Cries Upon Us' makes a good sound sophomore album for the Finnish metallers and while not a whole bunch has changed since the debut (they still have the affinity for using facets from a wide spread of genres, some more successful than others) they have tightened and strengthened up the nucleus of their sound and somewhat increased the heaviness without losing the melodic atmospheres.
Those who dig bands such as Trail of Tears, Samael, Dimmu Borgir (in some instances) and melodic symphonic stuff with a strong dose of antagonism will dig this too.
2. Dark Morning
4. Senses (When The World Is Lost)
5. Under The Dark Sun
6. When Light Cries Upon Us
Jani-vocals, all guitars, bass
Hannu-bass (When Light Cries upon Us)
Sauli-cello (Under the Dark Sun)
Written by Jamie Goforth
EPITIMIA-FACES OF INSANITY
Russian trio Epitimia deliver their third full length album 'Faces Of Insanity' for the prolific and always interesting Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records which for an outfit birthed only four years ago in 2008 makes them relatively prolific themselves as well, almost putting out an opus for each year of existence.
The band, comprised of Alexander Machtakov (going as A. here) on guitar and bass with the obscurely monikered K. handling vocal duties and M. responsible for drums are categorically black metal in nature, milling somewhere around the middle between depressive BM and atmospheric BM but include a swarm of other aspects in their compositions that keep them from being strictly rooted in any particular strain of the genre.
Nine pieces make up 'Faces Of Insanity', spanning the album out to roughly eight minutes short of one full hour with an instrumental intro and outro bookending six episodes ('Epikrisis I' to 'Epikrisis VI') and a nine minute epic 'DS:Schizophrenia'.
The introductory prelude 'Reminiscentia' serves to evoke atmospheres, conjuring up a sense of cold depression and austere lament, all mournful guitars that trickle into a bed of experimentation and ambient soundscapes.
A faint rush of screams resonates amongst this and intermittent spots of drum and initially one might be unsure of just what direction the three piece are going to go on 'Faces Of Insanity' until one and a half minutes when cold plumes of tremolo leak over bass and plodding drums, heralding the dawn of the outfits black metal nature.
From this Epitimia move into more traditional black metal territory on ensuing number the first of the Epikrisis series-'Altered State of Consciousness' which follows a cool little melody that rolls over cymbals and shuffling drums in a laidback psychedelic fashion with sweeping dissonant guitars and a thick bass ripple also present.
Just less than one minute elapsed and the vocals of frontman K. cut through forlorn melodies that pick their way out of the dark fuzz of atonal axework, these vocals a harsh kind of whisper tone that pulse malevolently in the roiling black mass of instrumentation.
After a two minute interjection of unexpected electro synth type stuff the tempo of the track amplifies into speedier climes, albeit remaining in these traditional BM terrains only temporarily before resuming the morose trudge with clean soaring vocals in accompaniment.
It swings between these two extremes with an intriguing collision of black metal with what one might even be inclined to refer to as shoegaze (fortunately not extensively) until concluding on the slower end of the scale.
'Epikirisis II-Intrusive Thoughts' begins quietly, tranquil refrains of guitar moving along like the motion of a peaceful stream and then just under one minute this is swamped by a deluge of glacial axework which though relatively sluggish is still hostile and dark, aided in its harsh endeavours by having sick feral vocals dragged out of it.
The drums of M. are also a fairly ponderous affair with a continual emphasis on sticks clattering over cymbals and in league with this is a persistent bass spine.
Some great atmospheres are dreamed up through the freezing cold passages of guitar with some regal touches to be found in a number of the lines and unlike the track that stormed before it it rarely ever gets out of first gear tempo wise, fading away in a snowy tremolo mist.
As the album continues the trio unveil more aspects that keep them from being soundly pigeonholed in any one particular black metal box with much of the music in 'Epikrisis III-Megalomania' being extremely 'pleasant' if that is indeed a fitting word, the coarse vocal tones and guttural lyric delivery being the facets that add a darker edge to an otherwise melancholy inoffensive number.
Plaintive clean vocals with a hint of desolation and desperation that features unhinged lunacy creeping in at the end of one particular mantra and protracted soloing are utilized during 'Epikrisis IV-Jamais Vu' while the lengthy 'Epikrisis V-Rorschach Inkblot' starts with cool trickling patterns of guitar and curious soundscapes eddying around bass and those infernal cymbal embellishments prior to shifting into an impenetrable black miasma.
This latter composition is a big dark and occasionally repetitive monster with its abrasive axework and vicious vocal incantations but amidst the gritty ugliness there lurks moments of beauty and fragility, especially with regards to tremolo that could have been quite at home among tracks by the Norwegian or Swedish schools of BM.
A little more introverted than some of the other songs comprising 'Faces of Insanity' it nonetheless has some decent rhythmic chuggings muscling up in the distance before completely fading into ambient drift and mournful strings in its last minute of play.
The sprawling nine minute epic 'DS: Schizophrenia' also plays host to some stomping chugs of riffery amongst an assortment of cold moderate to slow passages, off kilter pinch harmonic spots and extensive wandering instrumentation journeys marked by vocal abrasion.
The album essentially comes full circle with concluding instrumental piece 'Lethe' which is mostly a dismal grey sluice of ambient moments and icy guitar that balloons in heavy clouds prior to unleashing some unnecessary eardrum puncturing pure discordance and then vanishing into an experimental vacuum of white noise fuzz.
I've heard Epitimia often referred to as ambient black metal but I wouldn’t wholly agree with that summation; barring some of the work in this final track and infrequent spots during others there isn’t exactly a plethora of evidence suggesting 'ambient' is an adequate or even appropriate tag for their style of black metal, both atmospheric and depressive are much closer to the mark.
I'm not familiar with either of Epitimias previous two albums nor their demos/splits so I can't comment on whether 'Faces of Insanity' either differs, evolves from or improves on these works but I can say it does make for interesting listening throughout, full of engaging atmospheres and moments of both light and dark.
Some of the latter tracks tend to bleed together and some instances particularly the incessant cymbal ticks are grating but as a whole the album is a great work from the Russian trio, adventurous, courageous and inventive.
2. Epikrisis I: Altered State Of Consciousness
3. Epikrisis II: Intrusive Thoughts
4. Epikrisis III: Megalomania
5. Epikrisis IV: Jamais Vu
6. Epikrisis V: Rorschach Inkblot
7. Epikrisis VI: Leucotomy
8. DS: Schizophrenia
Written by Jamie Goforth
© 2012 BlackMetalJim
ETERNAL ARMAGEDDON-HER FORLORN MONSOON
The extreme metal scenes in South Asia and surrounding areas are divulging bands thick and fast these days, acts from all walks of genres rising to the surface and though these various countries have always had metal scenes of sorts predominantly they've been of the 'kvlt underground' variety, accessible only to few.
Now the successes of various bands from the regions have shined a little bit of a spotlight on the South Asian provinces attention is being directed on what else might be lurking in these scenes.
From the Bengali shore of Bangladesh comes black metal quintet Eternal Armageddon who state they are 'a majestic proclamation of absolute rebel against the meretricious hypocrisy and the primitive slavery of decades' professing to be 'summoning the dark' with their 'unholy scriptures and diabolic symphonies'.
The reality is their debut EP 'Her Forlorn Monsoon' is probably a fraction too short to actually set the wheels for those plans in motions being composed of three items that clock in at an alarmingly brief total running time of ten and a half minutes but at least they have a clear mission statement and with this initial work can gain a foothold in scaling a mountain to 'wake evil', battle religion and so forth.
Created in early 2009 Eternal Armageddon maintain mostly the same line up from the bands inception in Asif Abrar-vocals, Jamy The Armageddon-guitars, Count Morax-guitars and Kushul Warhorse-drums with only bassist Meraj Kerberos a new enlistee in the Bangladeshi black metal war faction joining the ranks in 2012.
Limited to 66 copies and released on Malaysian label MTD Productions 'Her Forlorn Monsoon' begins its very short expedition with the title track of the EP, a two minute instrumental preface.
It's merely my opinion but having one of the tracks of an EP as a brief introduction is not exactly the greatest idea when said EP only contains a grand total of three compositions, there really isn’t enough presented for an audience to garner too much but nonetheless it's all a learning curve and like everybody the fellows of Eternal Armageddon have to start somewhere.
They start on this title track with a stormy montage of sounds, the crashing reports of thunder issuing and rumbling with persistence around a rainy downpour as a melancholy stream of placid acoustic guitar steps cautiously through the wet weather.
The rain and thunder are constant throughout as is the wandering downcast tune and the combined elements together certainly make an apt match for the items title, further enhanced by the warbling addition of a lonesome lead guitar and eventually closed out by just a gusty howl of wind.
After this is over and done with the Eternal Armageddon crew unveil the true nature of their black metal sound with 'Depression Infectious' which by title alone might suggest the five piece dwell in the dark murky depths of suicidal or depressive black metal but this is not the case at all.
This entity is a fast paced blast that initially spits chunky staccato jets of guitar over percussion stabs and then opens full throttle with the advent of vocalists Asif's sandpaper growl incantations, a style that is neither the ultra-high pitched shriek nor the low register guttural grunt but instead is a neat fit somewhere between the two extremes.
Thrash plays a big part in here, the pair of guitarists ripping out serrated riffs that piledrive over the top of choppy battery and sinews of bass but the axework doesn’t stay ensconced in these low end thuggish rhythms, there's a fair deal of diversity crammed into the three and a half minute spread of the number.
Traditional tremolos wrestle with melodic fluctuations and a couple of hooky leads as well as an uptempo solo all have room found for them alongside the aggressive Immortal styled vocal display and the thunderous rhythms.
It is a bristling hostile piece but not one which is entirely unapproachable for anyone who might be a black metal novice, there are measures of groove and melody within it so it wouldn't be completely like stepping on a live mine and having your head blown off if you have minimal experience with the genre.
'Over Her Necropolis' finishes up the all too brief 'Her Forlorn Monsoon' EP with a demure opening passage that recalls the acoustic introduction encountered in the instrumental title track.
A passive strum of guitar teams with a clattering resonation of cymbals and while it possesses an easy mellow sound to it portentous shadows also seem to waver over it and before long the arrival of a grating vocal heralds a desire to launch into sonic barbarity, this inclination coming to fruition on the back of an immense stomp of riffery that is pretty much in the traditional metal vein.
From that juncture all five members of the band hurl their own contributions into the Eternal Armageddon melting pot and what we have is a damaging fanged brute of a track that pelts along at a speedy tempo.
It may well be black metal in terms of the raspy lyrics croaked out by the frontman but musically it seems far more comfortable in a brutal marriage of thrash and melodic death stylings, giving up a few concessions to the odd tremolo picking, transitory acoustic musings and one hell of a protracted solo exhibition.
The lengthiest of the three pieces that form 'Her Forlorn Monsoon' 'Over Her Necropolis' is a solid five and a half minutes that demonstrate some of the capabilities and capacities of the Bangladeshi outfit and allow the listener something of a chance to see what they could perhaps achieve if afforded the opportunity of a full length album.
The band are off to a great start to their recording career with this EP although I'm still of the opinion that it is much too short and having an instrumental prelude instead of another full track doesn't really allow a decent insight into the workings of Eternal Armageddon.
A few more songs under their belt for perhaps a follow up EP and maybe these guys will be looking to get an album happening.
1. Her Forlorn Monsoon
2. Depression Infectious
3. Over Her Necropolis
Jamy The Armageddon-guitars
Written by Jamie Goforth
From Belgium storms the thrashing five headed aggression machine that goes under the moniker Evilenko (keen serial killer devotees will correctly identify this name as being appropriated from the movie of the same name about Russian psychopath Andrei Chikatilo rather than something else; it seems a misconception that the outfits name is meant to be Evil & Co.), a crew that has been treading the stages for around five years now having formed in 2007.
While shows were fairly prolific in these formative and the ensuing years recording output was not and it is really only one demo that precedes the quintets debut full length album 'Human [Disg]Race', this bristling ensemble of riff heavy growl laden tracks for review right here.
Evilenko are Tom-bass, Dries Bangels-drums, Gudrun Beyrus-guitars, Kris-guitars (rhythm) and Jo Dewaelheyns-vocals, several of this current line up not original members, the band having withstood numerous departures since its inception.
Right off the bat I'll say if you aren’t enthused by the thought of Sepultura, Lamb Of God, Slayer, Divine Heresy and Arch Enemy all driving speeding riff trains together into one bruising station of agro music then perhaps Evilenko's 'Human [Disg]race' is not going to be up your alley but on the other hand if that idea tickles your fancy buckle up and hang onto your ticket.
Getting things underway with an instrumental prelude, entitled most imaginatively as 'Intro' Evilenko declare their musical intentions early and rarely relent throughout the reasonably short duration of the whole album (at eleven compositions it is only a handful of minutes longer than half an hour).
'My Own God' bursts in on the heels of the riff laden Intro with cool thrash passages liberally saturated with sinuous bass and then frontman Jo's deathly vocal delivery powers over an incessant percussive rumble.
The principally rhythmic riffs of the song pulse along at a wicked up beat tempo but when Evilenko inject lead breaks and solos into the piece they do so with slower precision, the more atmospheric and cautious pacings of these lead parts in stark opposition to the general speed of the track.
It is an intriguing tactic and one that is recurrent over the duration of the album but it's one that works remarkably well, the almost eerie poignant aspects of the lead melodies infused with the thuggish low ended riffery that kicks the opus along solidly.
Rawthroated Pantera type screams help dispense lyrics throughout, even a hardcore style of vocalisations finds itself being put to use such as in the relentless barrage of 'Leave You Behind' which also has something of a Hatebreed feel to some of the guitar activity.
'Suicide Note' bolsters surging waves of guitars with doublekick battery and raspy raw guttural vomitings, rolling forward with jackhammer intensity and militant brute force, and again, introduces solos where the main fast pace of the instrumentation is juxtaposed by the odd sluggish swirl of the lead guitar.
The bass as an instrument here might occasionally be a fraction overwhelmed by the crushing power the riffing axe weapons exhibit but its never too far off the pace, sometimes even managing to fight out of the chokehold applied by the guitars to shine more prominently.
In the words of the band themselves they 'try to play aggressive music but with a positive message', that positive message primarily relating to being anti-war, anti-religion and similar things that cause much suffering to humanity so consequently the lyrics to many of the tracks follow these themes, the underlying topic seeming to be how mankind constantly fucks up what it has and what it should be doing in order to limit these fuck ups.
Many of the titles of the tracks themselves are pretty self explanatory, 'My Own God', 'Cry For Freedom' and 'Solution To War' with its winding Slayeresque intro guitar all giving good ideas of where Evilenko stand in regards to certain topics even before the lyrics themselves have really been dissected.
I like a whole bunch of the songs comprising the fairly short punchy excursion that is 'Human [Disg]Race', they are immediate, in your face and crammed full of violent riffing without being ultra technical or pretentious but a favourite for me is the snarling society rebuking 'My Way'.
This burly brute pursues a US Presidential quote with sharp riff thrusts, drumming detonations and militant vocals that take a Lamb of God/Pantera approach and up the aggression factor even further to new levels of bestial violence.
Very cool leads soar in around about two minutes, putting a bit of melodic flair atop helicopter blade churning drumming and awesomely chunky undercurrents, the whole thing maintained by a strong backbone.
There's a couple of great quotes and lines memorable in here, first in the lyrics themselves with the savage affirmation 'Society's laws, fuck them, I'll go my own way' and then the very end of the track concluding on a telling announcement indeed, 'Government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem'.
Bonus track 'Bleeding' the longest of them all by managing to stretch just beyond five minutes gives a bit of a glimpse at earlier Evilenko for it seems as if it may be a song recorded prior to the rest of the album (I could be wrong but I'd be willing to bet this is the case).
It has the same monstrous thrashy chops, clamorous drums, rough and ready growls and juxtaposed lead patterns as its compatriots but less of the polish or slick feel as they do which indicates a less refined band still finding their feet and being afforded lower production.
'Human [Disg]Race' makes for good brutal headbanging and its tight punchy tracks dish out a solid feast of riffing, sound rhythms and suitably agro vocals and it keeps things uniform throughout, maintaining common themes over the duration.
There isn't too much out of place here and for what it is, a good strong thrash entity with profuse splashes of death and hardcore there isn't much it can be faulted on.
2. My Own God
3. Leave You Behind
4. Suicide Note
5. Solution to War
7. My Way
8. No One to Blame
9. Fight for Justice
10. Cry For Freedom
Written by Jamie Goforth
FLAYED DISCIPLE-DEATH HAMMER
If you are seeking classic styled ultraviolent jackhammering death metal thoroughly imbued with thrash and bloodthirsty lyrics that hark back to unsanitised days of the genre with no concern for being PC in any context look no further than brutal English quintet Flayed Disciple.
With only three years of activity under their belts, having been spawned in 2009 the fearsome fivesome (Tim Whyte-vocals, Thurston Howe-lead guitar, Jon Whitfield-rhythm guitar, Paul Williams-bass and Phil Tolfree-drums) have been quite busy in that brief period with a demo 'Drawn Viscera' out the same year of their formation, another 'Ejaculate While Killing' the following year and now their debut full length album 'Death Hammer'.
I can't think of a more appropriately titled opus (though the name seems a frequently used one) for this brutal affronting assemblage of sanguinary savagery with the platter comprised of ten items that hammer death metal devastation in a toxic recipe that channels Cannibal Corpse, Deicide and Six Feet Under with abundant thrash inclusions a la Kreator, Testament and company.
After a short intro segment 'ring Down The Hammer' which essentially consists of a collage of sirens, spoken dialogues, news reports and car sounds amidst a cranium crushing sequence of riffing the Flayed Disciple squadron go straight for the jugular with 'The Westboro Massacre'.
As lyrically brutal as it is musically this monumental beast punches out an arsenal of murderous riffing at a rapid rate whilst the feral grunts of frontman Tim Whyte give vent to vicious subject matter in a style eerily akin to that of George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher.
Solos courtesy of lead axeman Thurston Howe skitter overhead relentless thrashy death rhythms and a blasting entourage of percussion, the only instrument tending to suffer in the composition being the bass, most of its impact smothered by the inexorable might of the other implements.
Mostly it remains with filthy booted feet planted squarely in the muddy battlefields of death metal in terms of both instrumentation and lyric dispensation but there are moments of prime time thrash inflicted by the rushing guitars and elsewhere some abrasive unnerving vocal shrieks that ever so temporarily loosen the stranglehold of the Cannibal Corpse death growls.
This item clocks off in a sanguinary soundscape of screams, the sounds of dying, gunfire and flesh being chopped and gives way to the big ominous riff that instigates 'Interceptor', this fairly moderate guitar intro threatening to escalate with drums lurking beneath.
Indeed it does accelerate with the onset of the cavernous vocal utterances and thrashy gallops, the ugly lyrics spewed forth in suitably ugly fashion, discharging enough ultra gory material to suit the most hardened of gorehounds (albeit with this particular track emphasising more on warlike themes, nuclear devastation and similar veined things as opposed to much of the one on one murder scenarios though 'Exodus' bears likewise warfare matter and mass killings are a prevalent topic throughout the album).
Of the ten compositions comprising 'Death Hammer' the majority of them run for a duration of approximately five and a half minutes (which can be a pretty extensive time frame for such remorseless brutal death metal offerings) and 'Interceptor' is one of these, so too the aforementioned 'Exodus' and the grisly 'Feast In The Forest of The Impaled Bodies'.
If the title of that latter number doesn’t present any hint whatsoever that the song isn’t going to be about peaceful walks on the beach at sunset let us further explore a few special lines from the track as pummelling drums open up into a muscular ripple of antagonistic guitar work.
While cavalcades of battery and great walls of crushing riffing crash around them the militant vocal grumbles belch up such lyrical finery as 'merchants impaled on blunt stakes in the ground, thirty thousand of them tortured and bound', 'nails of death hammered down, stench of the rotting dead' and 'curled in a vice of torment gushing with intestinal blood' and other poetic remarks that should bestow a wonderfully vivid portrait of where Flayed Disciple stand with regards to subject matter.
Furthermore whilst these horrifying lines are dealt out in that deep monstrous grumble synonymous with a lot of brutal death metal their impact is intensified by the fact that they are quite understandable unlike much of the genre and hence the gruesome sensations engendered by them are palpable and systematically heightened.
Later along as the opus progresses the homicidal horde donate an insightful study into the degeneration of a murdered body from the point of 'blunt force trauma to the back of the skull' through maggot infestation and decomposition to mere existence as a bare bone skeleton in 'Bleaching In The Sun' while elsewhere some frequently inspirational serial killers like Charles Manson ('Pig') and Jeffrey Dahmer ('The Shrine of Dahmer') are explored.
The latter reprobate in particular with his heinous deeds and morbid collections has long provided a great source of inspiration for death metal outfits (indeed to the point of Macabre electing to base an entire album around the man) and that influence continues to pervade as the English evildoers here grunt grotesquely of Jeffrey's activities to a powerful soundtrack of upscale riff assaults, pulverizing drum work and more prominent expressions of bass.
An older track from the demo of the same name 'Ejaculate While Killing' gets a touch up here and has the crew in a more thrashy mode, riding rough razor riffing and plentiful solos over assemblies of drum and cymbal abundance, breaking up the subterranean vocals with some shrieking abrasive methods to help dole out the classically loathsome subject matter while 'Torsofucked' also from prior material has a beefed up sound to spur on its vile existence.
Both these tracks are lyrically very much inspired by the scribblings of brutal death exponents but musically it would seem as though the pioneering outfits that kickstarted the thrash movement were providing more influence over the instruments in these earlier days of the bands presence.
'Death Hammer' is a giant slab of extreme brutality from start to finish in just about every aspect, from its veritable banquets of riffing to its skull crushing percussive blasts and its painfully intentional abhorrent lyrical considerations and though it doesn’t bring anything new to a well-worn genre nor is it supposed to.
For anyone outside of the death metal genre and with rudimentary knowledge of the sorts of bands who dwell within it this will seem to them like every nasty cliché of said genre rolled hideously into one and brought to life.
For everyone else, especially those who can't get enough of riff packed sick monstrous depravity this will be just the thing to cave your head in with.
1. Intro/Bring Down The Hammer
2. The Westboro Massacre
4. Feast In The Forest Of Impaled Bodies
6. The Shrine Of Dahmer
7. Bleaching In The Sun
9. Ejaculate While Killing
Thurston Howe-lead guitars
Jon Whitfield-rhythm guitars
Written by Jamie Goforth
© 2012 BlackMetalJim
HELVETTE-PURGING OF THE WORTHLESS
After pumping out an album with his experimental boundary stretching technical death metal outfit Sanity Obscure Singapore’s minister of malevolence and misanthropy Kount Cider resumes hostilities with a new album from his pure black metal project Helvette.
The one man black metal stormtrooper dishes up seven hymns of hatred on the opus 'Purging Of The Worthless', a short, sharp and totally unrelenting blizzard of razoring riff assaults, brutally abrasive vocal work and battery that whilst programmed is some pretty insanely malicious stuff.
At just under half an hour in total duration-which is probably the ideal length for such savage unremitting material as this, an unprepared listener probably couldn’t absorb any more punishment-'Purging of The Worthless' makes its violent objectives painfully and obviously clear from the get-go; there are no hidden agendas here.
A clash of cymbals leads to a feral virulent snarl that precedes a blackened tempest of vitriol which consists of quick paced tremolo sleet, blasting percussions and the sinister voice of the Kount, sounding as if it has been summoned from the very bowels of some hellish abode, this brutal buffeting coming at the hands of album opener 'Purify And Destroy'.
The various titles of the compositions making up 'Purging Of The Worthless' should leave one under no illusion as to what sort of subject matter can be expected here on this hellish demonic platter and Helvette are under no illusion as to what type of music should be utilised as a weapon to convey this assortment of messages.
Ciders outfit is antihuman, misanthropic, hateful, pro-genocide pure black metal heavily influenced by the angry Scandinavian hordes who initialised the genre and subsequently there is no room for anything else on this long player (with the exception of some furious punk inclusions, albeit utterly black metalled up to the maximum).
'Fervent Hatred' rockets headfirst into great reams of tremolo, nicely frosted with chilly majesty, piloted along on the jets of programmed brutality and the adamant onset of venomous vocal abrasion spitting screaming invective.
A spite riddled maelstrom of stygian proportions this sounds like a colossal war waged between the likes of 'Panzer' era Marduk and Enthroned with plenty of the Norwegian school a la Tsjuder, Darkthrone etc. all getting some combat involvement as well.
It slows a fraction on one minute to punch out a hypnotic sawing riff pattern in league with shouty militant avowals and the emphatic clash of cymbals prior to planting the foot right back on the accelerator and gunning it.
Less immediate than a gauntleted fist in the face and more like a creeping hand around the throat is the malevolent swell of 'Extermination' which declines to detonate with pace instantly, instead choosing to wash moderate guitars around ragged snarls and calculated drums that come alongside ample cymbals.
This restrained approach with some doom inspired riffs, sandpaper vocal rage and cautious deliberate percussions lasts at least a minute and a half at which point the Kount opens the floodgates from hell and lets out rushes of cloudy tremolo and battery onslaughts.
There isn't really much in the way of sanctuary here on 'Purging of The Worthless' if you are desperately trying to seek respite from unyielding gales of undiluted raw bad tempered black metal because they just generally keep coming in consecutive tracks with perhaps only the short ruthless 'Deathpact' stepping in any way outside of the template.
This one melds raucous punk riffs with barrages of drums and though it keeps the traditional style of vocals, that being the classic screaming harshness they are occasionally shadowed by a deep growling backing variety.
Frigid fingers of tremolo reach over the midsection of the composition and the drums are pumped up to blasting proportions but essentially it cycles on rocky BM punk passages, belting along with a fair deal of groove to it.
Aside from this momentary foray-and it is brief indeed, falling a couple of seconds short of the three minute mark-away from all out aggressive pure black metal misanthropy, the remainder of the songs comprising the album are the fast belligerent type influenced by the founders of the genre.
The title track 'Purging Of The Worthless' wafts in on tremolo and jabs of drum that are given the green light to go mental by the advent of sick vocal growls and from that point on everything is full steam ahead, with horrendously vicious invocations, guitar work that is eerily majestic and the perpetual rumble of the programmed percussions.
Some doomy stomps pick up into an irresistible surge of riffing that soon sees itself overthrown by tremolo ice and the drum bombardments that come with it, wicked screams ripping through the fabric of the track.
There's nothing amiss in the context of sticking to the book of black metal with the sound created keeping all the mandatory traditional elements in place, right down to snarls of 'satanic victory' and similar themes.
One of the lengthier numbers of the platter at approximately four and a half minutes which explains why the album is such a short span considering only two others have similar durations and the rest are quite shorter 'Purging of the Worthless' signs off to let the final two tracks 'Achromatic Efflorescence' and 'Imperate Genocide' bring the thing home in a bluster of bloody warminded bellicosity.
Kount Cider certainly keeps busy with Helvette and Sanity Obscure both having very different new albums out to appeal to two separate factions of the extreme metal community and accordingly keeps the flag flying for Singaporean metal and the South Asian scene overall which is an unstoppable force at the moment, flourishing and disgorging loads of new bands.
'Purging of the Worthless' is a no holds barred black metal assault on the senses, full of everything one would expect from the violent end of the genre and those with a brutal appetite for destruction will be pleased by its nasty intensity.
Those seeking something different from the genre aside from the traditional vehemence, blasting speed and hateful vitriol they might be accustomed to won't find it here, this is not progressive, experimental, genre bending stuff, it is pure black metal undiluted and if that's what you want, that's what you will get here.
1. Purify and Destroy
2. Fervent Hatred
3. Extermination Manifest
5. Purging Of the Worthless
6. Achromatic Efflorescence
7. Imperate Genocide
Kount Cider-all vocals, instruments
Written by Jamie Goforth
Black metal continues to permeate and infiltrate through virtually every nook and cranny of the entire world with areas that wouldn’t automatically have one associating with the genre at all, or indeed any form of metal, bringing forth their own interpretations of the music that way back in the day would have had Scandinavian connotations and little other.
Randomly spin a globe and stop it with your finger without paying attention to where you are aiming at and unless you end up somewhere in the great expanses of ocean engulfing the land regions chances are you will be pointing at some country which has, if not a thriving black metal scene, at least some strong semblance of a scene with bands as representative of the genre.
If you happen to land on Nepal, then you get Kalodin.
Spearheaded by guitarist extraordinaire Davin Shakya and completed by Bikash Rai-bass, Gobinda Senchury-drums and OmEO-guitars with session musicians Ashish Senchury-keyboards and Sanjay Maharjan-vocals Kalodin are a symphonic black metal outfit who after dividing their time (and members) between Nepal and Singapore have now relocated back to their home country to release their newest EP 'Sarv' (the name is Sanskrit for 'to kill') following a full length album 'The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry' back in 2010.
Composed of four songs 'Sarv' is a release that sees the Nepalese outfit parting ways with the vocalist from their debut album and by all accounts lessening a great deal of the symphonic elements formerly utilised on that first release (which I can’t really comment on one way or another, not having had any experience with 'the Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry').
With each track approximately five minutes in duration (two spanning beyond five minutes and two under that length to be precise) 'Sarv' is almost a full twenty minutes of interesting black metal sounds that incorporate a lot more than the standard fare of shrieking vocal abrasion, rapid tremolo picked riffing and blast beats.
Opener 'Fallen Empire' has fifteen seconds of solemn haunting atmosphere with gentle keys but after that abrupt blizzards of guitar, enchanting bass lines and chopper like drums take precedence, chased soon thereafter by dark rasping vocals and resonations of backing voice, all of this progressing at a fairly moderate tempo until one minute in.
Icy sleet storms of tremolo then proceed to pick things up and the harsh vocals which are rooted in a classically traditional BM technique also escalate into a ranting harangue before the speed abdicates to more measured marches with a sombre Cradle of Filth type of clean narrative wafting through.
The shortest composition of the lot on this EP the introductory item has an abundance of stuff piquing interest and a plenitude of shifts up and down in tempo, particularly enthralling in the accelerated moments, even some crazy careening lead breaks from the fleet fingers of band mastermind Davin which aren’t unlike something one might expect on a Children of Bodom record.
'Ov Creation's squealing strings intro is swamped by a clamorous barrage of drums that hammer the entity along into first a cool restrained passage then thrashier climes and ultimately intense heavy aggression into which melodic licks crawl and curl around.
The vocals are again delivered in the grating sandpaper rasp, littered with extensive growls, some spoken clean varieties infrequently shadowing the morbid main lines and tempos vary, from the fast and furious to slightly less hostile.
Some great moments of atmosphere are provoked by fascinating guitar interpolations, dissonant and atonal in instances and fraught with cold beauty in melodic leads that border on fragility in others.
High acoustic strums initiate 'Pathless', picking their way over the top of a symphonic backdrop and then abruptly the clattering drums of new sticksman Gobinda (in fact the first drummer for Kalodin considering the album preceding this EP had to make use of programmed drums) and heavier axework stampede in, followed not long thereafter by the snarling lyric spray.
Riffs saw persistently and tremolos soar aloft, some of these latter aspects filled with icy regality and even drawing to mind the likes of older Satyricon in a couple of instances but before settling into any stereotypical notion of traditional BM Kalodin then proceed to permeate the composition with firework trails of outlandish lead guitar work frolicking atop a bustling chug of relentless rhythm.
Around three and a half minutes all the blasting and furious aggression dies away on a strangled exhalation and is replaced by the appearance of sympho orchestral drifts, fluctuating in a spectral haze of aloof majesty though this drumless fury free interlude is a brief lived one.
The croaking lyric delivery, the rushing battery and the ragged guitar speed take up residence once more but the frigid beauty of the symphonic facets and chorus type voicings remain shrouded in the mist, fed through the rest of the aural vehemence until the track wraps up around five and a half minutes.
The last song of the EP is 'Trishula' which is an immediate assault that has lead guitar wavering over a solid trad. metal pattern in broad sweeping formations, penetrated by emphatic clashes of percussion and finally the harsh vocal crackles.
It is a black metal entity at heart but contains plenty of other genre inclusions in its makeup; there are the traditional metal shapes, some driving melodic death vibes, even moderately Sabbath styled moments and aside from the usual abrasive croak there are some ominous sepulchral vocal tones put to use as well.
Most awesomely, at approximately three and a half minutes the outfit combine the use of traditionally recognised heavy metal instruments with Eastern instruments, the doleful strains of a sitar bringing forth mournful haunting melody to the otherwise belligerent item.
This intriguing and welcome injection of experimentation is sadly a relatively ephemeral one before the cold black metal onslaught stamps back in though it does return towards the end of the piece to help carry it to conclusion.
Band spearhead Davin Shakya has stated that 'Sarv' is essentially Kalodins 'first real debut' and perhaps in a certain context it is, a new line up, a honing and shifting of their sound, muscling and darkening it up and maybe this is the shape of things to come for the Nepalese regiment.
It isn't entirely a reinvention of the wheel but what it is is most certainly a lot more interesting than much of the paint by numbers generic sympho black metal that saturates the entire worldwide scenes.
'Sarv' is bold, both cantankerous and in parts melodic and mostly keeps any symphonic flourishes well in check and under wraps letting the aggressive material do most of the talking, prolific leads and the sitar inclusions demonstrating a band unafraid to experiment and take risks, albeit in cursory strokes.
I look forward to a new full length album from these guys whereupon they fully embrace this cultivation of their sound and possibly add more liaisons with the Eastern instruments among the BM landscapes.
1. Fallen Empire
2. Ov Creation
Davin Shakya-guitars, vocals
Ashish Senchury-keyboards (session)
Sanjay Maharjan-vocals (session)
Written by Jamie Goforth
MADONAGUN-GROVEL AT HER FEET
Another unusual entry to the ever expanding and eclectic roster on Great Dane Records is the debut full length album from French sextet Madonagun.
Conceived way back in 2005 by brothers Mark and DK who formerly played together in Antaeus (and currently still do in Eternal Majesty) Madonagun didn’t really take shape as a working band until two years later.
The duo with Mark on bass and DK on drums are joined by Julien Damotte-lead guitar, Nack-keyboards, Mattjo-vocals and Voron-guitar, and finally seven years after being birthed as an idea now have themselves an album, the intriguing entity that goes by the name of 'Grovel At Her Feet'.
With a pedigree based in black metal (courtesy of the Antaeus affiliation), industrial (guitarist Voron hails from Argentum Mori) and other genre backgrounds like hardcore and progressive one might have some sort of general idea of what Madonagun might sound like but the truth of the matter is that you would probably be wrong if you're under the impression it will encompass all the styles of its members musical resumes.
Virtually devoid of any black metal stylings altogether and slim on the grounds for industrial Madonaguns 'Grovel At Her Feet' is a hard creature to put in a box, the eight tracks on it (there are nine items all up but intro 'Descent' is just a one minute prelude of miniscule key parades and ambient soundscapes) draw from melodic death, progressive, traditional metal, hardcore even hints of metalcore with no one single genre standing out incredibly prominently over another.
Dispensing with the 'Descent' antecedent Madonagun tumble right into the bombastic muscular display of 'Bloodshed', tearing out great chunks of downtuned thrashy aggression that keep pace with the speed of the drums, a line of keys in a frantic dance also picking its moment to join the procession.
The key entries are a good embellishment, and act more as an enhancing feature rather than anything overblown; they aren’t prominent enough to overwhelm the punchy rhythmic groove, instead they sit nicely among its rippling brawn.
Vocals are of a hardcore meets death metal variety and roar immensely into audibility approximately half a minute in and given the bruising bristling style of music employed by the guitars and rhythm section one really shouldn’t be surprised that the lyrics are bellowed out in this manner.
However, rather unpredictably after about two and a half minutes of agro bravado the face of the track temporarily alters with a clean singing method coming to prominence, with this new vocal style then taking turns with the gruff yells as the song shifts through lead breaks, sympho shades and more riffing to finish.
This dual vocal interplay and swapping persists in ensuing tracks, in fact remains present right through the whole of the album (with a third method, screeching raw throated abrasion being used far more sparsely) and consequently the music that accompanies each style somewhat transfers its own genre/sound to accommodate whichever type of vocal it is currently teamed with.
'Chaos Seed' chases electro experimentation with thrash/death guitar that soon bulks up as it couples with percussive power and again beastly roars erupt and the shadows of keys too slot into the picture until a sudden spoken part leads to a change in dynamics and its all warbling progressive territory.
The template of first heavy brawny sections with rough vocals and then more sombre instrumentations and clean solemn singing, and then constant switching back and forth between the two is adhered to in this track too as it was in the previous one, the clear vocals wailing the chorus part 'We are the Chaos Seed, you are the Chaos Seed'.
This French outfit keep that blueprint for arrangements pretty constant throughout the majority of the songs here on 'Grovel At Her Feet' with 'Twilight Of The Men' predominantly ruled by the guttural brute bellows but not exclusively, slipping the lament of clean vocals into atmosphere laden parts that surpass stutters of guitar and join forces with synths and experimental symphonic facets.
Bass opens up 'Scars' which unfortunately is about as prominent as that instrument tends to get over the run time of the opus; it infrequently makes fleeting appearances in a couple of the items but for the most part its audibility is not great, blanketed under guitars and drums.
'Scars', like the other songs follows the pattern of fast and torrential with growling utterances and then restrained axework and singing though it also chooses to mix things up with an unusual spoken type of lyric delivery that emerges just when one thinks it is headed down the path of hardcore shouting.
Despite the fact that most of the songs do trace a similar trajectory and all constantly include both differing styles of vocalisation and instrumentation in alternating measures this doesn’t mean they are identical, at least not in the first half of the album, there is plenty of diversity and each song fills up its own canvas with musical paint of multiple colours and textures.
However by the second phase of the opus '...or Die Free' stammering in on a riff structure that almost sounds like a continuation of the previous track 'Scars' 'Grovel At Her Feet' appears to lose its direction somewhat.
The last few compositions (with the exception of the bludgeoning drum heavy 'Stairway To Hell') are shorter pieces of lighter weight and loaded up with lead guitar noodling, casting aside the heaviness of the first half in favour of more progressive oriented material.
'Stairway To Hell' momentarily elevates things up into the belligerent domains though its furious impact probably would have been more resounding if just once the outfit had ruled to keep the clean vocals out of it before 'Burning Gates' takes things out in a downcast stretch of acoustic guitar, mostly sad vocal refrains and little else bar some distant growls.
One can't help but feel Madonagun have gone off the boil a little in the latter stages of this platter and as a result 'Grovel at Her Feet' seems like an album of two halves, one with a formula but stronger tracks and the other an ensemble of songs that give the impression of an experimental tinkering of ideas.
Where to from here we will see, this is of course a debut album and there is ample to like about it but plenty to improve on as well.
3. Chaos Seed
4. Twilight of the Men
6. ...or Die Free
7. Grovel At Her Feet
8. Stairway to Hell
9. Burning Gates
Julien Damotte-lead guitar
Written by Jamie Goforth
NEBELTIEFEN-DIKTATUR DER AUGENBLICKLICHKEIT
German duo Nebeltiefen keep their dark and grim music solidly entrenched in the ideals of lo-fi primitive black metal minimalism and no other genre or sounds dare encroach on the cold sounds dealt out here (excluding touches of the ambient).
Composed of Nostcur-guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals and Schatten-drums the Darkthrone idolising Nebeltiefen stick wholly to the script of black metal as it began its existence as a true genre (albeit with the addition of some keyboard inclusions here and there) on their three track EP release 'Diktatur der Augenblicklichkeit'.
From the stark black cover featuring little but a depiction of razor wire to the typically spiked and unapproachable band logo 'Diktatur der Augenblicklichkeit' exudes grimy black metal before a single atonal guitar or shrieking abrasive vocal has even sounded so it's probably no great surprise to anybody who knows the genre well or even fleetingly to hear exactly this kind of music emanating as the pieces title track gets underway.
Thin wisps of glacial and mournful guitar waft over straightforward drum beats and hums of bass with that atypical 'recorded deep in the bowels of a dank dark cave' lo-fi quality, perambulating at a moderate to slow pace with vocals eventually creeping into earshot around half a minute in.
True to form they are precisely what one might well expect of old school inspired black metal, a croaky abrasive rasp that crackles in the midst of dissonant riffing appropriated from the Scandinavian pioneers of this sound.
A handful of ardent chords stab with fuzzed out gouges as the rudimentary percussions persist and the track rides on relentless repetition, blazing a stubborn dogged trail with some chilly tremolo parts rising up like the 'deep fog' the band’s name loosely translates to aiding in stirring some atmospheric freeze.
It is raw, minimalist and ragged, not too fast and essentially not too original; too much of the influence of black metal duos that came long before them (Darkthrone, Satyricon anyone?) crowd these sounds and don't leave enough room for Nebeltiefen to carve their own individual niche.
Some interesting little organ additions produce a bit of interest in the latter portion of the track as they dance insistently with the grating voice then this first track is over and done with just shy of the five minute mark.
Ensuing composition 'Die Zweitgeborenen' continues the bare bones black metal stylings the German twosome obviously intend to persevere with as it brings forth a doleful guitar phase that is interrupted by downcast acoustic strummings and propped up by a shuffling canter of battery.
This piece follows the same trajectory as its predecessor by introducing the vocals of outfit creator Nostcur at thirty seconds in, keeping them steadily ensconced in the strident screaming and shrieking methods.
Guitars predominantly chew on the same series of riffs throughout and fundamentally 'Die Zweitgeborenen' is minimalist black metal to the point of stark bleakness, no padding, no filler, no frills, no surplus.
At times it has a curiously melodic slant to it but for the majority of its approximate four and a half minute run time it is a grey wash of chilly grim recurrence, repetitious patterns, straightforward drum motions.
There isn't a whole bunch of variation in residence here; once the chief guitar passages are settled down into a groove the track steadfastly sticks to them and rolls on them right through to its conclusion.
The final track on Nebeltiefens 'Diktatur der Augenblicklichkeit' is the longest of the three comprising the demo and also the best of the lot.
Though it too is entrenched in the simplistic, repetitive minimal BM style as its fellow compositions it isn't solely rooted in that sound throughout but instead chooses to vary that template to an extent with ambient and even oddly progressive elements.
For its whole first minute 'Im Wald der Selbstmorder' stays in the realms of the ambient, featuring a slow parade of keys wandering through a rainy downpour that is punctuated by reports of thunder.
Ponderous and pronounced it is all almost depressive in nature before a thin frosty frond of axework replaces this forlorn introduction to carry its protagonists into their area of expertise, that being classic minimalism.
Almost two full minutes elapse prior to the emergence of the vocals and this time they reign in the shrieking stridency to become more throaty whisper oriented, although still raspy and following the traditional black metal vocal blueprint.
There is something of a militant approach in the way the vocals are dealt out, even in the fashion some of the atonal guitar work sluices through the icy tremolo parts and for something different there is a bunch of intriguing sixties type psychedelic moments that border on the progressive, these rather fascinating facets temporarily elevating things beyond what countless other concurring black metal outfits have been doing since the dawn of Mayhem.
For all its repetitious nature and structures that are rife with obstinate recurrence 'Im Wald der Selbstmorder' has some arrangements that can be downright mesmerising and those other aspects in it that steer briefly away from traditional black metal offerings do spark more than a little passing interest in it.
As a whole however 'Diktatur der Augenblicklichkeit' is not the ideal foray into black metal for it borrows too heavily from obviously influential bands of days gone by and falls readily into the trap so many other bands with similar intentions have also done.
Being inspired by those who spearheaded the genre and recreating the sounds they pioneered is a different thing to utilizing these ideals and influences to conjure up your own individual sound and Nebeltiefen have yet to do the latter though there are some signs here that eventually they could.
1. Diktatur der Augenblicklichkeit
2. Die Zweitgeborenen
3. Im Wald Der Selbstmorder
Nostcur-vocals, guitar, bass, keys
Written by Jamie Goforth
One of the most unusual and unique offerings ever to be encountered here at Black Belle Music would have to be the sophomore full length album 'Soerbyen' from French one man entity Netra.
Another project on the versatile Hypnotic Dirge Records roster Netra is the work of Steven LeMoan-all music and vocals- and where this remarkable creation plys its trade is in the very incongruous meld of genres between experimental black metal and trip hop/electronica.
My experience with Netras previous album 'Melancholie Urbaine' and the demo of the same name prior to that is virtually zero so I'm approaching this latest platter with no real idea though the concept of black metal merging with trip hop and electronic styled music does tend to generate its own preconceived notions.
'A Dance With The Asphalt' begins this weird and wonderful journey in reasonably ordinary fashion, laying out a spread of swirling spacey ambience that is met by a procession of guitars, programmed beats and a solemn but redolent clean male vocal tone, at first deep and pensive then soaring and atmospheric.
Spellbinding melodies run through the framework of the piece until one minute forty or thereabouts and then Netra reveals the dark stormy side of its constitution, eradicating this demure opening phase with a seething blast of black metal riff dissonance.
A humming bass undertone undulates relentlessly beneath the groove of this riff and all of a sudden tremolo squalls and macabre BM screaming are also in residence, quite an awesome turn of events really, well and truly piquing interest in this quirky French creature at this point.
Snarls and scowling utterances issue in French amidst the raging tempest of instrumentation with some profoundly melancholy vibes to much of the tremolo based guitar work as it rolls around harsh hollow howls.
It is a bizarre conglomeration of sounds, made even more so by the introduction of dancing keys which ultimately outlast the guitar abrasion to accompany just the stately beats and swirls of ambience to the tracks end.
The next track up 'Crawling' possesses no elements of metal, black or otherwise whatsoever.
Home to cautious trip hop beats, bassy emanations, organ melodies and new wave vocals this one focuses a lot more on what Netra can do with the electronic, its one concession to guitar utilizations being an intriguing bluesy lead that spirals up out of programming pulsations and while I'll concede this is not especially my type of music it has plenty in it that make parts irresistibly hypnotic.
Title track 'Soerbyen' is an instrumental composition that usurps its introduction of pleasant key plods with slow drum thumps and portentous bass sounds prior to merging both sets of passages together, traipsing at a very leisurely gait.
Minimalist in nature but not without atmospheric auras 'Soerbyen' then unveils a plaintive lead guitar shape that meanders in lazy clouds overhead before the drums kick up a little into something of an ultra-stoned Prodigy waltz.
This is a strangely mesmerising piece and one that manages to pull off the appearance of both having not much going on in it and yet a great deal at the same time.
Consequential items have more of the metal components of the perplexing Netra machine pushed to the fore with 'A Kill For A Hug' spitting out a waspish stream of guitar in a long winding riff over clattering percussive traits and a bassy rumble, and 'Streetlamp Obsession' has LeMoan wheeling out a whole bunch of his tricks from the aggressive razoring riff assaults to crazy soloing displays, from recurrent keys to cool bass lines and electronic beats whilst threading dialogues in French throughout.
The lengthier compositions on 'Soerbyen' afford Netra ample opportunity to flex creative muscles, to span genres and fuse them with impunity and bold experimentation, particularly on tracks such as 'Concrete Ocean' and epic album closer 'I Shall Slay the Monkeys'.
Both these songs stretch out well beyond the eight minute mark with the first of these, 'Concrete Ocean' getting underway with innocuous peals of tune and standard beats pulsing in time before wisely getting out of the way of oncoming tremolo picked recurrence and inhumane demented black metal howls.
Mostly the sparse spread of vocals that are put to use among the dissonance and occasionally repetitious structures of the song are this screeching BM lunacy but for a short stay a cracked robotic method takes the reigns before lead guitars peel off on prolonged solo exhibitions.
'I Shall Slay The Monkeys' rounds out a most fascinating and truly individual album by taking elements of all the things that make Netra such a unique proposition and coalescing them all together as it spans almost to nine minutes.
All the requisite synth soundscapes, trip hop stylings, experimentations and loitering bass in conjunction with a sinister mocking vocal are present and accounted for in this closers starting passages and then approximately two minutes after this things get about as heavy as they've been the whole album.
Some of the best riffing and guitar passages of the entire opus exist here, spitting fire as horrendously furious hollow vocals scream the litany 'I hate people' (guess we can all relate to that), old school type frenetic black metal with a horde of experimental sounds milling amongst the intoxicating riff work.
Unfortunately (from my own perspective) this savage speedy onslaught is only a transitory phase and though heavy chords reappear later on in the piece it doesn’t quite regain the violent intensity it had before, instead it returns to drums, solemn key notes and synth material, even eventually usurping that with flexes of bass and some semblance of guitars so faint they're barely audible.
I'll close this review for Netra's 'Soerbyen' in much the same way it began; the album is unique, unusual and a highly creative individual body of work.
It is nothing like the sorts of industrial black metal one might expect from Dodheimsgard, Aborym and so on if these bands spring to mind at the thought of electronics combined with black metal for though it combines elements of black metal with abundant electronic/industrial aspects it cannot be classified as that genre (indeed any genre would be hard pressed to fit Netra definitively in).
It is basically an entity unto itself which creates its own rules and own laws and follows only the guidelines it has placed upon itself.
Aficionados of any of the genres utilized here may not be overly excited if they aren't fond of bold genre melting pot mixes but people with a broad and open musical mind will gain plenty from the intriguing universe of Netra.
1. A Dance with the Asphalt
4. A Kill for a Hug
5. Streetlamp Obsession
7. Wish She Could Vanish
8. My Ill-Posed Life
9. It's Kicking In
10. Concrete Ocean
11. Strange Bliss at Dusk
12. I Shall Slay the Monkeys
Steven LeMoan-all music, vocals
Written by Jamie Goforth
OPHIDIAN FOREST/ HÆRESIARCHS OF DIS-DARKEST ORIGINS
'Darkest Origins' is a collection of demo material from two bands compiled to create a split album between continent spanning outfit Ophidian Forest (with members hailing from Croatia, The Netherlands and the United States) and USA based one man entity Hæresiarchs of Dis, released on UW Records.
Twelve items comprise the album with a bit of a disproportionate division between the two projects considering only the first three are contributed by Ophidian Forest, the remaining nine are accounted for by the American act (though the Ophidian Forest numbers are relatively lengthy expeditions).
Starting the very prolonged journey into gruesomely dark, raw and bloody lo-fi black metal of the basest and most primitive variety imaginable is 'Densest Green' which breathes out a noxious hazy plume of swirling stygian clouds, slow blackened funereal mist punctured by virulent screaming abrasion.
Atonal and purposefully plodding this entity is a s cold as a holiday inside a refrigeration unit but the sludgy painstaking snails pace isn't to persist; by one minute in the Ophidian Forest threesome have immeasurably increased the tempo with battering drums and glacial tremolo patterns to keep the harsh shredded throat vocal screams company.
Now and then the raging primal fuzz is affected by moments of regal atmosphere, these chilly frostbitten instances akin to the majestic trappings of older Satyricon material (think 'Dark Medieval Times'/Shadowthrone' eras) while drums thump beneath, sometimes ponderously, others upscaling the gait especially when teamed with the vicious vocals.
At over eight minutes long 'Densest Green' is a midnight mass of grim necro ideals, remaining pure to the notions of black metal birthed by the originators when the genre was in its infancy, so consequently with a sound that’s essentially yanked right from those days its probably not going to present anything brand new to anyone well versed in the masters of the black metal movement.
'Fear Bloody Wings' opts for a different approach in its introductory stanzas and breezes more passively into earshot with symphonic melody that slowly gives way to cymbals, doomy slabs of dissonance and ultimately the rasping vocal monstrosity.
Still abhorrently grainy, lo-fi and decidedly unapproachable this piece is remarkably sedate pace wise and whilst polar sheaves of tremolo swell around the percussions and ragged vocal horror there is no colossal blasting stuff going on.
Dark and bleak and spilling some deep bestial incantations into the mix to add flavour to the shrieking insanity 'Fear Bloody Wings' is tinged with black doom like inflections and rides on repetitive structures, some of its tremolo pickings quite mesmerising in all their unfriendly glory.
Ophidian Forests final submission to 'Darkest Origins' is the almost eleven minute behemoth 'Verschwiegenheit' where the malevolent trio gather up all their frosty intensity and old school primitivism and let it loose in a grimy barrage populated by angular discordant lines of skeletal guitar, awkward moments, vicious screams and a shuffling canter of drums.
There are some good recurrent tremolo shapes uncoiling amidst the miasma and some downbeat poignant atmospherics that temporarily slow down the predominantly mid to fast paced tempos but also an overload of cymbals and a consistent haze both detracting factors.
Hæresiarchs of Dis on the other hand, while still a black metal entity aren't quite as militant and primitive BM exclusive as their split album mates with plenty of diversity spread over the nine tracks they have on offer.
The creation of Cernunnos (all instruments and vocals) HoD has been around since 2004 or thereabouts and has a few albums already under the belt though the tracks here are from demo days, albeit remixed and remastered to an extent.
A fuzz of ambient stuff immersed in a cloudy fog with innocuous xylophone sounds tinkling among it starts 'Black Prophecies' and then screeches of guitar and dissonant chords stomp from ear to ear, eventually morphing into a black wave of axework that swims over percussive clatters.
A strange degree of groove takes hold of the track and though a few too many solos for my liking insinuate their way into the composition I quite enjoy the rest of it, a great thrashing black wall of sound that features nasty screaming vocals and punky Carpathian Forest headbutting Mayhem vibes.
The likes of 'Chaos Plague' and 'Manifestation' are both more straightforward old school inspired items that fester and freeze blood with their polar riffing, venomous lyric delivery and raging tempos though they each have separate facets to keep them from being too stagnantly stereotypical.
Doomlike atmospheres break up the black blitz of 'Chaos Plague' and slow it down towards conclusion while howling wolves and morose acoustic guitar begin the piece that is 'Manifestation', sombre spoken tones used in place of the standard rasping abrasion.
A few instrumental interludes separate blasts of frigid feral black metal, namely the key based 'Wolfmoon', the rainy drift of 'Heritage of The Night' and the scream filled 'Blood & Souls', none of these being very lengthy which helps even up the time division of each band.
'Tangible Hatred' is a nice sanguinary standout for the American outfit; its two different halves making it appear like two grotesquely ugly beings attempting to breed and produce equally repugnant offspring.
Firstly it jockeys slow chords into distant drum thumps where an aggrieved howl rips and the battery goes insane, eclipsing the doomy intro with a thrashing mass of guitar pugnaciousness, this initial part of the monstrous coupling a bustle of bruising BM rage, full of riff blizzards and incessant vocal harshness.
The second portion has it grinding down the gears into the doomier crawl where heavy stoner rock chords accompany calculated drums, big bass pulsations and atonal cowls, howls resounding throughout and plenty of sinister vibes, the speed of the opening half a distant memory here.
'Closer 'Circle of Sodomy' brings the curtain down on the album in decisive fashion, launching immediately into a melee of aggression where vocal virulence seethes atop a volley of battery, oscillations of humming bass continually shadowing the main surge of riffs.
Melodies slice through the fiery ragged assault, some good bass lines bound in conjunction with interesting guitar phrases and it's all kicked along at a machine gun chugging tempo, even electing for a few moments of mellow stuff to add light to the dark; namely a spot of clean solemn singing and acoustic guitar.
'Darkest Origins' doesn’t offer anything sparkling new, untapped or groundbreaking to the black metal devotee and isn't necessarily essential listening unless one absolutely must wrap their ears around every primitive BM releases ever spawned.
For mine the works of HoD hold a little more interest, mixing up their spiteful fury with a few different tactics while Ophidian Forest are more unmalleable and traditional, obstinate in their adherence to old school aesthetics.
Both acts have other albums that are probably better starting points; try those first and perhaps then you might find yourself needing to add this to your collection.
1. Densest Green
2. Fear Bloody Wings
Hæresiarchs of Dis
4. Black Prophecies
5. Chaos Plague
8. Tangible Hatred
9. Heritage of the Night
10. The Devil's Whoremonger
11. Blood and Souls
12. Circle of Sodomy
Cernunnos-all vocals, instruments
Written by Jamie Goforth
RUN OVER-FEEL THE ANGER
The driving force behind Italian groove metal outfit Run Over Andrea Vitelli conceived the idea in 2009, cycling through a series of musician line-up changes including a couple from his former band Rattlesnake before snaring the appropriate vocalist to complement his guitars and the rhythm section (at the time made up of the ex-Rattlesnake crew).
One demo followed prior to one other member replacement and then with the line-up solidified, being Marco Biagoli-vocals, Andrea Vitelli-guitars, Igor Giuliani-bass and newest addition Lorenzo Michelozzi-drums Run Over unleashed their debut album 'Feel the Anger'.
With a sound that draws from the likes of Pantera and Machinehead and hurls these influences into a furious melting pot concoction with Black label Society, Lamb Of God and Soil the Italian four piece deliver ten tracks that run the gamut from all out pacy aggression to slower measured atmospheric items.
'Don't Shut Your Eyes' kicks off proceedings in bristling bruising fashion chasing a hoarse scream with thick menacing stomps of riffery courtesy of band mastermind Vitelli before the rhythm section thoroughly chime in and vocalist Biagoli launches a Randy Blythe styled lyric delivery.
A solid groove laden riff lurches over a battering undercurrent and lead guitar flares up like fireworks with the vocals a gruff but cleanly sung variety that are an extremely apt fit for the brawny rhythms and thrashy axemanship.
It is a strong opening composition, a big powerful rocking number with plenty of Panteraesque riff patterns slicing over a sturdy entourage of drums and a handful of crazy soloing excursions, also tempering the brash barrage of throaty vocals with some entries of a higher cadence a la the glory days of eighties traditional metal.
Also an entertaining collision of old school aesthetics and modernity is ensuing belter 'On Your Knees' which keeps the foursome with their feet planted on the accelerator, following a roar of 'Go!' with irresistibly hooky but brutal guitar work and thundering percussions.
The roars and bellows of Marco Biagoli maintain that Lamb of God/Pantera/Mudvayne sound with its rough and ready modern American metal vibe for the vast majority of the songs three and a half minute time frame but again there is diversification to the lyric dispensation method; more of the hard rock/trad. metal soaring screams are put to use here as with the opening track.
Fast, impetuous, laden with groove and liberally dosed with lead breaks and solo activity this is the epitome of head banging fist pumping metal, nothing in the extreme end of the scale and nothing too lightweight and fluffy but a sound fit right in the middle.
'My Rust' blasts vocals simultaneously with chugging stuttered stabs of riffing and detonations of battery, once more with some resemblances to acts like Pantera and Machinehead in these early stages before drizzling a few of the power metal voicings and high ended string work into the frame, splayed fingers of soloing spanning their dextrous extremities over the brawny rhythms.
Tracks like this are where Run Over excel and though parts of them may be a little derivative of some of the bands mentioned over the course of this review they are constantly energetic, catchy and filled with hooks, breakdowns where appropriate and enough lead guitar action to keep the solo freaks sated.
After this though the high velocity tempos and barrelling aggression are shelved (at least temporarily) for a customary wander into slower territories on 'Memory’s Gone'.
One of the very first tracks written by the Italian outfit in their formative years and appearing on their original demo 'Memory's Gone' resurfaces here, slithering out on the back of hypnotic strains of guitar that have a high scree of lead scraping over them and vocals that whilst controlled as opposed to the earlier songs are still hoarse and occasionally threatening.
Heavy chords march over steady drums alongside mournfully evocative leads but never at any great pace in comparison to the tracks that raged rampant before it 'Memory's Gone' is a very placid piece indeed.
'Under The Stone' is another less frenetic entity with its beginning phases rich with doleful acoustic pluckings, prominent bass thrums and moderate atmospherics and though it heavies up the instrumentations and escalates the agro with some bullish vocal roars it doesn’t ramp up the speed any.
The remainder of the tracks comprising 'Feel The Anger' are more bulked up muscular propositions, packed to the brim with myriad groove heavy riffing, thick bass undulations and chunky drum bombardments, and vocals that swerve from the coarse rough reverberations to the less frequent classic trad. metal screeches.
There's the thrashing tornado of 'Evolution' and the burly stomping brute that is the anthemic 'Die On Stage' which though not as wholly uptempo as many of the others still rocks with the assistance of a powerful Black Label Society sort of riff, punctuated by extensively wandering high ended string acrobatics.
As he has done over the duration of the whole album vocalist Marco Biagoli predominantly maintains his lyric delivery in the rougher bullish style that best suits the accompanying music but he has a decent range when he decides to venture into other techniques such as those higher pitched power/traditional metal moments that have also popped up in less prolific uses along the way.
'Feel The Anger' closes out its account with tracks that have the band playing to their strengths; both 'Overrun' and 'Your Decision' loaded up with band founder Vitelli's characteristic riffs pitting thrashy material against melodic death styled phrases, pummelling drums and ripples of bass from the rhythm section and an abundance of raw throated vocal aggression.
Run Over may not be the most original outfit under the sun and many of their obvious influences radiate richly in the work here but they know exactly what they want to do and they are incredibly good at what they do.
With only one demo under their belts to pull off an accomplished musically proficient and hard rocking debut album such as 'Feel The Anger' is quite an impressive feat and Run Over should find this opus appealing not just to many fans of the assortment of bands they bear similar traits to but to anyone who digs the old school adroitly blended with the new.
1. Don't Shut Your Eyes
2. On Your Knees
3. My Rust
4. Memory's Gone
7. Die On Stage
8. Under The Stone
10. Your Decision
Written by Jamie Goforth
SANITY OBSCURE-SUBTERRANEAN CONSTELLATION
Spawned in 2008 Singaporean four piece Sanity Obscure (not to be confused with the German gothic metal outfit of the same name) released a four song EP 'Dethrone The King' that very same year and now four years down the track have their debut full length album ready to roll.
'Subterranean Constellation' is the opus created by Cider-vocals, King Jo5ho!?-guitars, Pain-bass and Ziyang-drums and it is the culmination of work by a band who live by the credo that maybe music should be free of boundaries and if indeed boundaries must be in place then they must be 'stretched even further'.
Considering Sanity Obscure can loosely be labeled as a melodic/technical death thrash hybrid creature how one reacts to their interpretations of boundary stretching may well depend on whether they believe certain genres should have some degree of constraints placed on them.
The piece that gets the eight track long player off to a start is basically a precursor, a one and three quarter minute slow burning atmosphere setter that sees chords resounding over slow hollow drums and bass pulsations.
'Dreams-Manifestations' this is, something of a sinister film score, coming off like some type of soundtrack to an eerie horror driven science fiction movie, affected by infiltrations of growling utterances then screams, raging vocals and then shortly conclusion.
'Rise of the Machines' has the band flinging off the cloak of atmosphere to stamp into an apocalyptic futuristic lyrical world, borne on big chugging guitar chops, rumbling percussions and melodic axe runs that draw to mind Children of Bodom type stuff.
Fifteen seconds in and the vocals of Cider come snarling in, utilized in a manner that is very much black metal oriented (which should come as no surprise to those that know that Ciders other band is the strictly black metal outfit Helvette), full of rapid aggression although quite clearly enunciated.
Transitional phases abound in this approximate four minute fast paced sci fi circus of sound with thrashy riffs wrestling technical death offerings, weird atmospheric interjections slipping between off kilter lead breaks, jazzy bass unfurled under high end spiels as oscillations of drum keep time, at least where possible.
Some of these shifts are jarring, unexpected and eclectic and as a whole the track kind of comes across as the result of Atheist, Children of Bodom and System of a Down all fed together into a blender.
Likewise hammering eardrums with a wild mélange of different styles, approaches and techniques from all instruments is the frenetic 'Incarceration Divine' which is measured and relatively sedate in its beginning stanzas with organ leading into a set of drums and restrained guitar activity over a bass ripple.
From this springs the abrasive diatribe of black metal tinged vocals with an incendiary mix of high ended whorls of string work, eerie experimentation, stabs of chords that punch out thrashy exclamation marks and volatile rhythms, and then further on the BM rasp is traded for a gruff death themed variety.
There are a bunch of strong muscular riffs at play in here but by the same token there is a whole fuckload of things going on; often jumping around at such a feverish turn of pace that for some it will be virtually impossible to keep track of exactly what’s going on.
Uncomplicated rock riffs that usurp tremolo squalls are in turn overthrown by death metal phases while vocals swerve from the black to the death to a hoarse shouting series of declarations and back again whilst among it all up bounces a bass line that somehow reminds me of Finnish hard rock outfit D.A.D.
'Synergistic Permutations' moistly avoids the temptation to cram too much in and at a brief duration of two and three quarter minutes it doesn’t really have the time to, blasting through as a Slayeresque entity borne on fierce fast thrashings and momentary melodic death intervals with vocals swapping between black abrasion and deathly growls.
This beast is one of the fastest and most focused of the lot though a weird rambling solo at the tracks conclusion tends to unravel it a little, sounding somewhat erratic and improvised and perhaps doesn’t serve as the ideal finale.
On the other hand though 'Doublethink' is equally as brief in running time, in fact quite shorter, only just clocking over two minutes and still manages to pack a great deal of activity into that span.
With technical displays of axemanship spilling over rumbling rhythms 'Doublethink' again plays host to a couple of different vocal techniques and adorns the composition well and truly with lead breaks and cavorting capers of the solo variety.
Riffs saw with insistent precision and then warble off on protracted exhibitions of high end string gymnastics while percussions bombard the listener with a constant stream of battery detonations and the bass plays something of a primary role, keeping itself prominent in the mix.
Sanity Obscure are an undeniably technical outfit and have some monstrous chops and powerful energy to expend on 'Subterranean Constellation' and the album itself is a wildly diverse exposition of such aspects, along with that whole boundary stretching belief addressed at this reviews beginning.
The downside to it is that some of the tracks perhaps don't need as much technicality as they possess, where in other areas some riffs aren’t fleshed out to the point they could be with the erratic tendency to spasm from one to another at alarmingly unpredictable periods.
Some may find some facets confusing and increasingly difficult to comprehend what is going on and in this instance the envelope pushing boundary extending ideas could backfire for the band, but then again still others will thoroughly dig the eclectic and technical displays of instrumentation dished out by the quartet.
For my own I have a preference for Ciders other band Helvette but that mostly amounts to a bias towards black metal where that genre always trumps thrash, melodic and tech. death in my book and is only a matter of personal opinion, having no bearing upon this review.
All that aside and upon their own merit Sanity Obscure are a band full of ambition, ideas and audacity and continuing to hone their skills and push boundaries, and finding the correct balance between the two could see them eventually evolve into a dominant force.
2. Rise of the Machines
3. Incarceration Divine
4. Synergistic Permutations
5. Patient Zero
8. Afflicted Mind
Pain-drums and keys
Written by Jamie Goforth
SERCATI-TALES OF THE FALLEN
Hailing from Belgium are a fascinating black metal trio (a four piece at the time of this recording) going by the name of Sercati, birthed in 2009 and predating this debut album 'Tales of The Fallen' with two demos in their short existence.
Made up of Steve 'Serpent' Fabry on bass and vocals, Yannick Martin on drums and Nicolas Lahaye on guitars (with Damien Snyers on keyboards and vocals on the album) Sercati have purposefully steered well away from any traditional themes used commonly in the genre they work with to instead present a concept opus that follows an unusual narrative of a fallen angel.
Milton’s 'Paradise Lost' this is not, but rather the tale of an angel entity that abandons the perceived 'paradise' and in the words of the band themselves does so seeking 'to gain its humanity and its own existence'.
Beginning the story with 'No Man's Land' which is an instrumental mood setting composition we're cast into a spooky atmospheric landscape where ominous synth vibes surround a faint lurking hum of bass, these facets gradually sliced open by a cautious blade of melodic guitar and teamed with slow drums.
A black metal band they are as later tracks will reveal but right now in this introductory prelude this isn't immediately evident, this piece with its wandering melody rich leads and ambient mid section has more progressive sorts of traits and characteristics than it does BM.
'The Fall' opens on a lonely display of keys in a motion of quiescence shadowed by ponderous tones with the band members adding in their respective instruments to create a collective of melodic downcast sound.
Vocals crawl out of the midst of this and upon first impressions they are a bizarre trollish variety that may well take some getting used to, typically black and darkly rasping but of a curious timbre that isn't totally generic.
I read somewhere along the way something about some of vocalist Steve's lyric delivery sounding remarkably like the voice of Lord Of The Rings' Gollum and I'd have to concur with that in this particular track, here in this first exposure to the vocal technique that resemblance is an acutely true one.
As a bare bones spread of plodding keys trudges a clean clear vocal backs this grating black method with the solemn one juxtaposed in lyrical content against the harsh stuff.
'Let me cry' grunts the ogre vocal, 'let me smile' laments the clean and so forth, poignant leads cycling overhead and keys moving right throughout the tracks duration, sometimes completely taking centre stage, others eddying in conjunction with straightforward chord structures.
As the tale of the fallen entity (though technically speaking since it chose to leave of its own accord perhaps dubbing it as 'fallen' is not entirely correct) continues the Sercati crew offer up some of the best tracks of the album in the likes of 'The Call' and 'The Nightstalker', the former which traverses a series of riffs of both the melodic sort and harsher dissonance type over a shuffling militant drum procession with no real vocals in occurrence until the song is half way through.
Incantations, grunts and other vocalisations issue during this first phase but no major lyric dispensation until two minutes or so of the rough four minute span have elapsed and even then they are sparse, arriving in the company of keys.
It's a somewhat cold track but littered with incongruously beautiful moments, some bursts of darker abrasion and a constant stream of bass.
'The Nightstalker' similarly ties a plethora of approaches into its passages, starting off in sombre sullen fashion of ambient sprawls among rolls of thunder and sad trails of tune prior to unleashing a bestial laugh and picking up the pace into a black metal groove.
Possibly as fast as things have gotten thus far this creation which tells of the angels metamorphosis into 'the Nightstalker' from a third person perspective as opposed to all the others is laden with grainy riffing, a persistent bass undulation and rattling percussion and the vocals of mainman Steve now sounding much more traditionally abrasive rather than the quirky troll style of earlier items.
There's grand orchestral organ brushes, rollicking key ballets and multiple things all knotted together before diluting everything in an acoustic finish.
'Tales of the Fallen' is certainly not black metal as you know it; there are no stringent adherences to a constricted scope of the recognised aesthetics and ideals of the genre and thought the overall vibe generated throughout is befitting of the field Sercati work in you will hear more than standard tremolos, blast beats and vocal sandpaper.
'Running Out Of Time' has nothing of black metal to any of it aside from the vocal style, 'No More Master' features hooky high end guitar melodies that are eerily akin to the work of Billy Duffy from primetime Cult eras and 'No Escape' even puts me in mind of bizarrely, bands like Three Doors Down'.
As the album winds down these latter tracks do tend to shed many of the characteristics of black metal (with the exception of the harsh vocal methods) relying on more melancholy and melodic sorts of instrumentation with the tale drawing to its conclusion.
'Serenity's Ode' is free of much vocal intrusion aside from the meager lines of the song being delivered in a clean doleful fashion midway and while it starts off almost like some funeral doom creation it ups the tempo to an extent with the usual trappings the band have affected but it never quite shakes off the air of melancholia that is instilled right from the beginning.
This debut album from the Belgian outfit is quite an unusual one both in terms of sound and in lyrical content and for traditional black metal fans it may be a difficult one to wholly appreciate or digest without several thorough examinations.
It is certainly a varied platter and in spots a mixed bag but as a concept work it does well to cohesively run its story right through and conclude with the differing types of music used accordingly and aptly to tie everything together.
The whole idea of basing an opus around the tale of a fallen angel may draw suspicion and distrust from stringently antireligious black metallers but in the grand scheme of things religious connotations do not even enter the story.
'Tales of the Fallen' is not something that will immediately grab you; it requires some dedication and concentrated listens but it could prove to be something that grows on you.
1. No Man's Land
3. A Little Closer to Paradise
4. The Call
5. The Night Stalker
6. No More Master
7. No Escape
8. Serenity's Ode
9. Running Out Of Time
10. I Know
Steve 'Serpent' Fabry-bass, vocals
Damien Snyers-keyboards, vocals
Written by Jamie Goforth
SILESIA INFERIOR-LOT WALKIRII
They were formed way back in 2003 so it took a few years for Polish two man black metal entity Silesia Inferior to get their first full length out and about with 2009's 'Cultor Noctis', now the duo have returned with the follow up album.
Silesia Inferior are Surtr on guitars, bass and vocals, and Wojslaw handling drum programming and together they present the six part full length recording 'Lot Walkirii', a relatively short collection that clocks in at just under half an hour in duration.
The Polish duo are not your average garden variety run of the mill black metal band tramping relentlessly over the same oft trodden paths that have been well worn into grooves so deep they are virtually canals; this outfit are quite a different proposition entirely and certainly no carbon copy of anything else.
Of the six numbers constituting 'Lot Walkirii' only two of them actually contain vocals of note, the other four are pretty much purely instrumental with opener the title track 'Lot Walkirii' being the first of these lyric free entities.
Bounding immediately into great sheaves of guitar and clashing percussions 'Lot Walkirii' is littered with intriguing chugs that rove in abnormal patterns whilst stormy tremolo rolls in and out and lead guitar parts make early impressions.
Like I stated early on in this piece Silesia Inferior are no ordinary BM band and they demonstrate this from the word go on this very first track; it is almost a collage of experimental music that while essentially black metal at its core fuses an unusual collaboration of sounds that isn’t always altogether simple to define.
Whirling capering dervishes of lead guitar are in epidemic proportions, there are jazzy little bass movements and occasional militant riff structures biting holes in the curious ensemble and cymbals that crash unremittingly.
'Zima Preludium Ognia' is one of the two tracks containing vocals and it is a rather cumbersome and ungainly thing though compelling in a way all the same.
A spread of ambience starts it off then a lurking bass line skulks under the cover of squalling icy discordance, all of it hulking along with an awkward doomy gait throwing ragged chord formations and tremolo against slow steady drums.
The vocals of mainman Surtr gradually make an entrance and they are deep dark growling monstrosities that ooze and drip into the cracks of the instrumentation with tremolo infrequently flaring up in faster spurts that provide an illusion of speed that in actuality isn’t really there.
A combination of black metal, doom and experimental 'Zima Preludium Ognia' creeps on dark hypnotic bass lines, prominent cymbal use and cracked vocal resonations and quite often trades its tremolo picking for an assortment of solos and lead breaks that surprisingly I don't find off putting.
While this one principally keeps its tempos down (bar those moments where the guitars create the perception it is faster than it is) some of the others speed things up much more, including the next track in play, another instrumental 'Kult Nocy IV'.
This one plummets straight into a blizzard of swift cold spiked axework and for a temporary period of time Silesia Inferior are in traditional black metal territory but that changes soon enough when the guitars veer off onto experimental, even vaguely progressive expeditions and drums escalate into excursions of sporadic battering.
It is erratic and unpredictable and at times seems like a free jam, indeed a wholly improvised intro section particularly with regards to the often eerie guitar work which spirals out of the tremolo blasts and then fades away to let dark desolate reams of sound wash over like some enormous black tidal wave.
Only the bass seems as though it is following any sort of script and occasionally it too falters, perhaps perplexed by the intricate bewildering array of travels undertaken by the other instruments until finally acoustic tranquility steals in to bathe away the violent capriciousness in a more serene manner.
Faster still and pretty much the peak of speed for Silesia Inferior is 'Pogrom Klamstw', the only other composition of the album featuring any vocals and this brute pits sharp stabs of guitar and insistent riffery against drum clashes before bass oscillations and bestial incantations rush in to collide with them.
Nonetheless while it may keep a lot of its structures rooted in a standard black metal style the song still has a proclivity to saturate these passages in extensive lead guitar utilizations which I suppose has become something of a trademark for the Polish duo over the course of the album and one that continues through the final two tracks (more so in album closer 'Koniec').
That closer itself is a little bit of an anticlimax to what has been quite a fascinating album in many places, with once more the feel of being an improvised creation, almost taking the route often taken by death metal with jarring unanticipated transitions that lurch from place to place with a rapidity that would generate whiplash and following the atmospheric and strangely groove laden 'Opus VII' with its often brutal DM riffs butting heads with ice laden tremolo is a hard task in any case.
Mind you the initial aggression of 'Opus VII' also tapers out into a freeze of aloof atmospheres that pretty much signal the warning that the final track may not be able to match some of the weird intensities spawned in the previous compositions.
Silesia Inferior are not the type of black metal band that will easily slot into one simple pigeonhole of the genre so if the thought of Polish black metal immediately makes one think of the likes of Graveland and co. rest assured that this duo are an entirely different kettle of fish.
'Lot Walkirii' is an album that is most certainly different and though occasionally hindered by a rash of ideas not always fulfilled is worth examining if you want something that sets itself apart from most of the common black metal strains.
1. Lot Walkirii
2. Zima Preludium Ognia
3. Kult Nocy IV
4. Pogrom Klamstw
5. Opus VII
Surtr-guitars, bass, vocals
Written by Jamie Goforth
Hypnotic Dirge Records have carved out an impressive niche for themselves and continue to do so, filling up their roster with an eclectic and wildly diverse series of outfits, some of whom many other labels might be reluctant to present the opportunity to.
One of the many intriguing and captivating projects to join the ranks of the Canadian label is the Australian one man creation Subterranean Disposition, helmed by twenty year metal trouper Terry Vainoras.
The extensive musical career of Vainoras has seen him active with a long string of bands in the Australian metal scene including but not limited to the likes of legends Damaged, Hellspawn, The Eternal and Insomnium Dei and now his latest entity sees him adding further strings to an already well adorned bow.
Subterranean Disposition was initially created in 2008, inspired by music written for the last of those aforementioned bands by Terry and collaborator Mark Kelson with the hybrid doom/death/ambient behemoth finally ready to unleash a full length album upon the world.
Despite this self-titled opus only containing five tracks some of them are truly gargantuan in length and together they span the platter out to almost one full hour.
'Between Apes and Angels' starts the show with gentle acoustic mournful notes resonating among a strange collage of animalistic snarls, grunts and so forth before this is briefly joined by rainy ambience and then crushed underneath the inexorable onset of giant doomy chord reverberations.
Drums thud laboriously, cymbals clash and a mesmerising line of calm quiet guitar carefully slinks around the huge chord strikes and it is a whole two and three quarter minutes that pass prior to any vocals even showing themselves.
When these lyrical dispensements eventually do clamber up out of the sluggish doom landscapes they come in a manner thoroughly befitting of the outfits band moniker, cavernous death metal type utterances and dark sludgy roars, also aptly suited to the dragged out slog of the instrumentation.
Curls of melody rake claws against the doom chords as the drums oscillate behind the imposing bellows and growls of Vainoras then around four minutes in unexpected sombre (and slightly portentous) clean vocals make a transitory appearance upon the heels of which comes weird ominous spiralling leads.
Subterranean Disposition then proceeds to deliver one of the fastest passages on the whole album (for generally speaking, with this project predominantly ensconced in the doom genre as any doom aficionado well knows speed is not the key) with a moderate thrash chug that couples its serrated riffery with dark howls and pounding percussions but soon enough this abdicates to the feral vocal drags and slow trudges of sound.
Equally passive in its introductory stanzas is 'Prolong The Agony' with soft enchanting guitars though this too is destined for a temporary stay, brushed aside by hypnotic rhythmic stomps and roaring vocal incantations, billowing over pronounced drum thumps.
Here the vocals sound layered with several different styles seeming to roll in at once, neither and deep and cavernous as they were in 'Of Apes And Angels', rather they are more abrasive and edged with a sandpaper rasp and further vocal surprises are in store as the track progresses.
Sweet ethereal female voices supplant these main vocals around two minutes and bring a sense of radiant beauty to the piece, casting some light over the murky dark of much of the work, though even in terms of the music there are abundant examples of melody as well with morose but beautiful strains of acoustic guitar occasionally stealing pole position away from the heavy doom death slog.
I mentioned before that the song lengths on the album are gargantuan and that is no exaggeration; the shortest, album closer 'Wailing My Keen' still almost clocks nine minutes and the longest 'The Most Subtle of Storms' reaches a staggering fourteen minutes fifty seconds (though the last five minutes of this massive monolith are essentially a skeletal sprawl of ambient stuff and finally silence).
'Seven Sisters of Sleep' is another gigantic entity that has a running time not so far off the twelve minute mark and of the five songs making up the album is the one that elects to forgo tranquil acoustic melodies as introduction, instead crashing right into a huge blast of dissonant chords.
There are tuneful moments that creep timidly into the frame, overwhelmed by the heavy crush and the cracked vocal depths but they're there nonetheless, wringing melody into the sound.
Also lodged in the giant cumbersome form of the composition are some justly deranged vocal outbursts, notably around four and three quarter minutes where a maddened series of violent expulsions and insistently pounding chords conquer the tranquillity that had previously been in existence.
These shirk the death metal growling method to instead scream in maniacal rasps as the dark unnerving aural horror unravels more and more layers, remaining of course in a unwavering slow-moving tromp.
Mournful leads, percussive rolls and effects bounce remorselessly from ear to ear while the same riff that has been prevalent throughout the protracted course of the number gnaws insistently on the tracks bones until ambience and ultimately nothingness wash away the fading instrumentation as it ends.
The enormous monster that is 'The Most Subtle of Storms' is a similarly slow paced conglomeration of sullen trudging chords, persistent riff patterns, unearthly growls vomited up out of the doomy slog and enchanting intervals ruled by melodies but what really helps this epic stand out is the much unexpected inclusion around seven minutes of a cool despondent saxophone.
This adds yet another dimension to an already compelling body of work though I'm a little less keen on the few full minutes of barren ambience that also reside in 'The Most Subtle of Storms'.
Subterranean Disposition’s self-titled album is one that will require more than just one cursory listen if you are to comprehend and appreciate all that comprises it and each consecutive spin will have more and more being revealed.
Unlike much doom oriented material which can be so uber repetitive or monotonous it makes me want to garrotte myself with a wire coat hanger Terry Vainoros' creation makes for fascinating listening and whilst it may possess a level of repetition to some sections it is constantly full of melodic aspects that never allow monotony to sink in.
As far as debut albums go this one is almost right up there and the experience its protagonist has in the extreme metal scene shines through here.
1. Between Apes and Angels
2. Prolong This Agony
3. Seven Sisters of Sleep
4. The Most Subtle of Storms
5. Wailing My Keen
Terry Vainoras-all vocals and instruments (with guest musicians/vocalists Phoebe Pinnock-female vocals, D'arcy Molan-saxophone)
Written by Jamie Goforth
The South Asian extreme metal scene is a massively vibrant and adventurous one, loaded with all sorts of bands representing a great cross section of genres from virtually each and every country in the region.
One such band who can't exactly sit neatly in just one those genres but rather incorporate a vast spread of many of them just by themselves is Sri Lankan quartet Tantrum (not to be confused with a number of other-and far less interesting-acts who go by the same name).
Composed of Javeen Soysa-vocals and bass, Akila Peiris-guitar, Thishan Wijesinghe-guitar and Tharaka Senevirathne-drums Tantrum were actually created way back in 2002 by band leader Javeen and a school friend with a view to become a heavy metal outfit though knowledge of their instruments was basic at best.
Intense perseverance and recruitment of skilled musicians paid off and the crew who fundamentally became a serious band and took on the name Tantrum two years after these initial dreams were instigated went from strength to strength, all their hard work now beginning to reap rewards, ten years down the track delivering one fascinating debut album in the form of 'Rebellion'.
Generally acknowledged as being a progressive thrash metal band crossbred with technical death this Sri Lankan squad have plenty more weapons in their armoury in terms of genre jumping and fire them all off on a complex musical journey that spans across the nine tracks that make up this album.
The title track 'Rebellion' itself starts off the weird and wonderful expedition, a ten minute epic that floats in on experimental soundscapes backed by a hint of synthy ambience before dropping a giant downtuned thrash riff and rapid battery bursts right into the midst of it.
Cymbals clash, pinch harmonics squeal and a rolling entourage of sound bulks up even more so around twenty seconds in before stopping short a further twenty seconds along and then punching out stutters of riffery and drums that step out into a moderate thrash gallop, heightened by loitering bass.
It’s an intriguing collage of heavy music, somewhat akin to Meshuggah in spots, these stuttering expressions, rumbling percussions and thrashy volleys in effect for almost a full two minutes prior to the emergence of vocals which are harsh howls and growls though only in these original stanzas where vocals are present.
Later on they segue into a clean soaring lament surrounded by battling axework consisting of militant riffing, pinch harmonics and warbles of lead guitar, and this clear vocal tone is the predominant method used over the lengthy course of the track (with the rough growls and shrieks reoccurring at intervals notably around the half-way point and towards conclusion).
While this introduction to the Tantrum universe incorporates traditional metal, thrash, melodic death, prog and hard rock ensuing number 'the Holy Torment' is more of a thrash meets tech death item that dabbles a little in power metal waters, mostly in a vocal context where screams and high register exclamations ascend over thrash patterns and nimble fingered string work of a highly technical nature.
Abundant shredding, rippling bass lines, mostly clean vocals (though nicely darkened in spots by either death roars or bordering on black metal abrasive snarl rants) and even lurking synth atmospheres jostle furiously for pole position on 'The Holy Torment' ensuring there's never a dull moment here.
Tantrum clearly have no desire to be boxed into one definitive hole which like much of the South Asian scene, indeed the whole Asian scene makes music that doesn’t essentially conform to limited boundaries so exhilarating.
'Purgatory of Sinners' sounds like two separate tracks rolled into one; its first half a rocky trad. metal kind of entity with sinuous bass, hooky riffs and a Wednesday 13 styled vocal, its main guitar line an irresistibly infectious one while the second part is a blur of windmilling solos and an assortment of different vocal methods.
I actually prefer the catchy punch of the opening couple of minutes, it tends to go wandering a little in the latter portion but it’s an engaging composition nonetheless.
Other tracks are equally as diverse and packed full of myriad styles, genres, tempo shifts and multiple vocal experimentations with more twists and turns than an eternally winding road.
'Bleeding Compassion' pursues a forlorn clean wail that sounds like the folky Hexvessel project and acoustic strums with a stomping 'Children Of The Grave' type of riff before swerving into a crazy eclectic melange of fast paced quirky vocals and string work that is something like a tag team wrestling match involving System of a Down, Hatebreed, Death and any of the old school guard of thrash metal, whilst 'Political Paradox' is a brief one and a half minute interlude showcasing just guitar and a spectral hint of bass.
'On The Edge' blasts off in a cyclone of tremolo sounding for all the world as if it is going to be some full on black metal creation then eventually becomes more of a thrash/death beast full of hoarse roars and monstrous bellows with an assemblage of hypnotically looping guitar and later, a traditional metal/hard rock based thing though it might have been a very interesting prospect indeed had it tracked a black metal tangent.
One of the more seething, snarling fireballs of fury on 'Rebellion' comes in the shape of 'Darkness Through Your Eyes' where the four piece start things off sedately enough in a wash of synth stuff opening up into clean toned trad meets thrash then open throttle in a rage of dark deathly vocals, thrashy drum beats and relentless riffs, offset by the flutter of a slower solo accompaniment.
From the massive and the monstrous 'Darkness through Your Eyes' sweeps to the ethereal and beautiful by following a creep of solitary bass and solemn clean vocals with a sweet radiant female voice that hovers high above keys and almost doom like chords, and then returns to the fast paced velocity, alternating between gaits until it wraps up.
Coming full circle back to attempting to pin an appropriate tag on Tantrum and we are left with the progressive thrash blanket though the sound spawned here on 'Rebellion' is far wider reaching than just that single genre restraint (though 'progressive' itself leaves a fair bit of room for interpretation and movement).
Taking chunks of technical death, snatches of traditional metal, some facets of power metal, hard rock, black metal, suggestions of symphonic and doom and cooking them all together with that overall thrash base Tantrum have come a long way from their beginnings and now have an album that is ambitious, courageous and hugely audacious possibly to the point of being a risky enterprise but nonetheless proves rewarding and filled with striking musicianship.
2. The Holy Torment
3. Purgatory of Sinners
4. Bleeding Compassion
5. On The Edge
6. Political Paradox
7. Eternally Damned
8. Darkness Through Your Eyes
9. Final Embrace
Javeen Soysa-vocals, bass
Written by Jamie Goforth
© 2012 BlackMetalJim
THRONE OF MALEDICTION/IRREVERANT SOUL-RITES
American black metal couple Eric and Jessica Horner divide their time between two separate projects, Throne Of Malediction and Irreverant Soul both of which are helmed by the pair of them, the first of these generally assisted by other musicians, the latter just comprised of the duo and now in a lead up to a new album on the horizon for Throne Of Malediction (following on from debut 'Ceremonial Blood') the two outfits appear together on split album 'Rites'.
Multi instrumentalists both with Eric handling guitars, vocals, drums, bass and programming, and Jessica in control of guitars, vocals and keyboards the Horner’s present eight tracks with Throne Of Malediction (the first five of which act as a precursor for the upcoming full length) and five for Irreverant Soul (some of which are drawn from that outfits self-titled EP back in 2009).
The opening number for Throne of Malediction is 'Born of Innocence', a six and a half minute entity featuring Upon Shadows' Tamara Picardo on keys and backing vocals, her contributions to the track a very nice fit to what is a blend of the atmospheric and the aggressive.
Keys and female vocals begin the journey before being swamped by an insistent riff structure, loose rolling drums and a thick loping coil of bass then at thirty seconds a scrape of raw vocal abrasion.
Whilst gentle film score type key notes and pleasant female chorus sounds still issue in the mix guitars pull out thrashy segments and rhythms undulate in occasionally hypnotic measure and back and forth it goes, sweeping from heavy mid paced chunks to moving acoustic spots, always keeping a decisive bass high up in the forefront and an intermittent doleful lead break sluices melody over harder edged material.
'A Burden of Ages’ starts in a melancholy manner with its wispy trails of guitar lolling in the company of murmured downcast vocals and even once cymbals and drums join forces with a thrum of bass it remains in forlorn fragile territory, that feeling augmented further by the addition of a lonely lead guitar voyage.
Approximately one minute in Eric’s vocals enter in a slither of malicious whisper tones and from that point on the track descends into dark black metal graininess.
In these instances the guitars rain tremolo downpours over percussive clamour and bass is in constant transitions, a couple of deep vocal incantations merging with the traditionally favoured style of raspy abrasion before all of this is supplanted by doomy inclinations and then the two differing approaches trade blows and battle for supremacy until the tracks conclusion.
Throne Of Malediction are still a unit that unfalteringly refuses to be absolutely boxed into any narrow genre confines and though they remain an undeniably black metal act the Horner duo and their album guests (as well as the wonderful Tamara Picardo appearing legendary Carpathian Forest bassist Daniel Vrangsinn lends his considerable talents to the track 'What Will Never Be') step well outside the square on a couple of the items, in particular 'The Sins Within' and 'The Circle'.
'The Circle' is something of a bizarre experimental object that totally abjures any black metal proclivities aside from a dash of trollish growls, instead being composed of a melange of jungle drumming, sympho trials and unusual soundscapes over which psychedelic guitar lines are splashed while 'The Sins Within' is a very evocative and charming piece that although sitting starkly at odds with most of the numbers on the split makes for a cruisy patch of tranquillity.
Here we have beautifully understated Alice in Chains type guitars (a la 'Jar of Flies/Sap' era) and a combination of both vocalists, Jessica's voice first shadowing and then taking over from Eric’s clean sombre delivery which resonates like a moody downcast Danzig, each of the protagonists offering plenty over the reasonably short duration of the track.
Demo song 'Sweet Sorrow' rounds out the Throne of Malediction portion of 'Rites' and pretty much stays in the black metal side of things as the pioneers played it, rustic axemanship, typically harsh vocals, boisterous battery and some spurts of thrashy chops that snap at the heels of speedy tremolo.
The Irreverant Soul part of the split is mostly comprised of tracks from the Horner’s other projects self-titled EP with three of the five (the brief key driven instrumental 'Waltz of the Macabre', the monstrously sluggish ragged torment of 'Moonlight & Death' and the bloodied dark haze of 'From What Is Dead') having previously appeared on that release albeit reworked to an extent here and laid out in a more logical flow.
On that previous demo the instrumental item 'Waltz Of The Macabre' was utilised as something of an outro and I think I made reference to it being anticlimactic to have it as such, citing a preference for the slow aural terror of 'Moonlight & Death' as finale and here on this split Irreverant Soul have changed the track listing for the songs in a fashion that is more apt and sees them in a better fit.
'Waltz of The Macabre' now acts as a prelude piece which works remarkably well as it then leads into the primitive necro rage of 'From What Is Dead', building into the giant black mass of claustrophobia that is the epic 'Moonlight & Death'.
Following this are the only two tracks not yet encountered thus far in experiences with Irreverant Soul, firstly a harsh grainy cover of Sepulturas 'Troops Of Doom' (Throne of Maledictions side of the split also contains a cover song, that being 'Solitude' from Candlemass where the vocals of Jessica Horner shine prominently) and finally closing out the whole thing on an austere and solemn note, the affecting key atmospheres of 'Grief' which is an apt conclusion to the whole affair.
With the new album from Throne of Malediction 'Out Of Darkness Comes Light' due out shortly this split between the two projects of the Horner couple makes for a good stop gap until such time as that sophomore opus surfaces and whets the appetite for those into a potent combination of raw black metal moments, doom like tendencies and key infused passages along with some unexpected eclectic experimentations.
This is a curious and diverse creation right here and the album it serves as a preview to should be equally so.
Throne of Malediction
1. Born of Innocence
2. A Burden of Ages
3. Not Meant For Me
4. What Will Never Be
5. The Circle
7. The Sins Within
8. Sweet Sorrow
9. Waltz of the Macabre
10. From What Is Dead
11. Moonlight and Death
12. Troops of Doom
Eric Horner-guitars, vocals, drums, bass, programming
Jessica Horner-guitars, vocals, keyboards
Guest musicians/former band members
Tamara Picardo-keyboards, vocals
Written by Jamie Goforth