Sunday, September 17, 2017

Inquisition, Uada, Volahn, Gamaliel - Live

This was an absolutely killer show, so here are some blurry pictures and an even blurrier write up of the evening...


While it's not fair to Gamaliel I really hadn't heard of them before the show, but their set was still really enjoyable and a good fit. Based off of the strength of their performance, I'll be digging deeper into their music over the coming weeks and regret that I hadn't done so before. It's always better when you go into a show knowing, at least partly, what to expect from a band. That way you get a sense of how they sound in the studio versus live and can really embrace the live experience rather than focusing on absorbing new music.

<iframe style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="" seamless><a href="">The Abyssal Gateway by Gamaliel</a></iframe>

Volahn - Passion and Sweat

Going into the night, I would have put Volahn as easily my favorite band of the set and man did they deliver. While some of the more atmospheric nuances of the music were burnt away by the ferocity of the live performance, the overall meaning of the music was made abundantly clear. There's not much sense belaboring the point, Volahn is an awesome project and I'm assuming the rest of the lineup was filled out with Black Twilight Circle Crew. Part of me was morbidly curious as to how a solo project would be done live (which honestly, I've seen a more times than I care to count).


Uada - Expert Level Smoke Tech
Uada - From 0 to 100
Uada - These Cymbals were Ridiculously Clean and Pretty
Uada's Smoke Tech the Night's Real Hero
Uada is absolutely fantastic live. Just to put things into perspective, Volahn is a huge deal for me and I absolutely love their music and I'm also super into Inquisition. Uada on the other hand I never really got into, but on this night their performance was hands down the best of any of the bands in attendance. Their energy was unreal and they sounded significantly better than what I had heard from them on "Devoid of Light." I'd have to really sit down with the album and hear them live again to totally pin down why the magic failed to translate onto the recording. Despite how much I appreciate the band's smoke tech, there is a substantial difference in their live sound that goes well beyond theatrics.

<iframe style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="" seamless><a href="">Devoid of Light by UADA</a></iframe>

Inquisition's Banners Hide Incubus from View (Also Note - Real Photographer in Background)
You know what's absolutely bewildering? How Inquisition sounds so immersive with just two musicians in a live setting. In a live venue, similar to music in a vehicle, the high end can often get drowned out. With Inquisition though the lead guitar occasionally occupies some of the frequencies that you'd usually hear from the bass. Also the music's composition darts from high tremolo picking to low bends so frequently that they can somewhat convincingly project greater numbers than they have (a similar effect, albeit much smaller, as what you can hear from famous folk guitar prodigy Leo Kottke who uses virtuoso speed and liberal counterpoint to sound like five people). Another thing notable about Inquisition is how even the vocals are live. You can hear this in similar vocalists like Demonaz, so it may be attributable to the style, but even the brief operatic/bark/cleans (sorry, I'll work on a better term for these) were 100% precise. All in all this was a hell of a night and one of the best shows I've been to. 

<iframe style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="" seamless><a href="">Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith by Inquisition</a></iframe>

Friday, September 8, 2017

Mesmur - S

Mesmur’s S is hands down one the best funeral doom albums I’ve heard, and by that I don’t mean it’s merely some kind of subgenre revival. S stands on equal footing with the greats of funeral doom, and like any particularly high quality album, it should capture the interest of fans of other metal genres. Funeral doom as a niche genre is possibly one of the shakiest premises to have spawned from the recesses of heavy metal. What if the very pacing of the songs and their structures were, in of themselves, a source of heaviness? Well, more often than not you end up with something that feels more slow and boring than crushing. It’s a wildly challenging balance to strike, but on S Mesmur calibrates the overall atmosphere just perfectly with a detailed landscape of tones.

It’s almost ridiculous to mention given the nature of the album, but even in a genre where everything is supposed to be heavy and a subgenre that is supposed to be crushing, this album is notably oppressive. The heaviness though is more than just thick guitars and bass backed up by what I am sure is an impressive array of gear. What really makes S stand out is how clear everything is, or in other words the impeccable mixing helps to highlight every last bit of the album’s overall sound. The vocals especially are uncannily even and strong. So instead of just being crushed by a falling wall of heaviness you also happen to notice the beautiful bricks and artisan-tier mortar work just before you get pancaked.

Aside from the obvious musical comparisons (Esoteric, Ahab, Mournful Congregation et al.) some of the more relaxed spacier moments remind me of Earth, like when the lush lead guitars take the forefront or start to softly echo around. It’s a nice example of how S keeps things interesting because the high end is incredibly rich without coming across as overly sugary. Many moments in the songs even have a delicate feel to them, some airy riff with effects whirling about in the background like leaves in gentle breeze. These moments however never interfere with the overall song structures, and even help to enhance them, which is critical when you have songs that are over fourteen, fifteen, and even sixteen minutes long.

The only flaw I really picked up on that I can’t chalk up to not being obsessed with funeral doom was how some of the effects are super obvious in the first song “Singularity.” I don’t know if it’s the distortion, fuzz, flanger, or phaser but during parts of the first half of the song I could have sworn there was some loose change or maybe a rattlesnake on top of my speakers. While a little distracting, particularly for such a crystal clear produced album, it isn’t a huge issue for the song or overall music. Otherwise I have no grips with S. It’s worth noting that while the band’s 2014 self-titled debut was pretty damn good, S is definitely a step up. Even after revisiting some of my favorite funeral doom albums (many of which are releases that are widely viewed as lodestars for the genre) I can safely say that S puts Mesmur up there with the greats.

Check out the Contaminated Tones interview with Yixja of Mesmur (and Dalla Nebbia) here.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Vile Desecration Absolute Blasphemy, Sacrificial Blood Live Video / Shows, Upcoming Horna Flier

This will be a somewhat busy month for Contaminated Tones. After getting back to the grind and caught up somewhat with material sent for review, there are some interesting things going on. First, the upcoming Vile Desecration demo, titled Absolute Blasphemy, will be released sometime within the next couple weeks. Tapes will be available through band at shows and through the webstore online. There will be some short lived pre-sale deal featuring the 2015 demo as well. Details on that in a week or so. Absolute Blasphemy marks the progression of Vile Desecration towards a more refined hell, inspired by Blasphemy, Beherit, and early Sodom. Unrelenting Bestial War Metal will tear you to shreds.

Vile Desecration has several upcoming shows:
Sept 13: Witchtrap, Abysmal Lord, Tombstalker, Process Of Suffocation (East Room - Nashville, TN)
Oct 20: Aura Noir, Mutilation Rites, Forest of Tygers (Exit/In - Nashville, TN)

Upcoming Sacrificial Blood tour dates:
October 25th - Saint Vitus, NY
Sept 30th - Silver Spring, MD

There is also going to be a September 29th show in Philly, PA with Traitor and Day Of The Beast (basically, the lineup from the Silver Spring date with Witchtrap, just without Witchtrap. Hope to see some people at these shows. I will be at them with Contaminated Tones releases and distro. Below is video from the other night in NY:

There is also this gig being set up for November in Brooklyn through Signature Riff.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Monthly Blast: August 2017

Balance Interruption - Door 218 (2016) 

It's always interesting to hear bands blend black metal with jazz, especially when it's done right. Such is the case with Ukraine's Balance Interruption: a band that was completely anonymous to me, until Aleksey from Satanath Records requested a review. Balance Interruption is not afraid to experiment and push boundaries, blending various elements to formulate their own sound. This is experimental black metal of the most abrasive kind, delivered with a strong performance. Every song is like a nightmarish roller coaster, as you have no idea where it's going to take you. With a purposeful lack of repetition, it's chaotic and beautiful, while never losing a degree of subtlety and cohesion. Door 218 is a rather solid offering of idiosyncratic black metal. (Mongrel) 

Demonomancy - Throne Of Demonic Proselytism (2013)

You're lost in a cave, and you falter. Slack against the stone you ponder  your demise. The slick and damp walls appear to be closing in around you,  ready to encapsulate you in their calcified sediments. Your eyes close. You  are awakened after a time undetermined to the pounding of tight human skins  over drums. There are cimmerian figures moving beyond your vision yet their  presence is known; the torches and flames fueled by the refined oils of  cultivated human sacrifices throw their certainty against chiselled  sandstone. Where are you? What is this hellish chamber? Your weakened body  is rinsed and bathed by disfigured and breastless sycophants before being  dragged through a ceremonial labyrinth in which from above priests pelt you  with rotten egg, basil, and feces. They drop maggots into your hair. You are  presented to an empty throne in an ancient hall. As a knife is raised to  your throat droning melodies too low and too disparate to be made by any  understood culture find refuge in the niches of cavern rock and pockets of  unoccupied air. The pounding tempest of distant drums and constant strumming  of alien instruments goes on for unfathomable periods of time, always with  the knife held firmly in fatal location. Summoned, an armored maggot gyrates  from the darkness to take vantage at the throne. You are sacrificed and the  massive demonic larvae consumes your remains. (Orion)

Furia - Guido (2016)

With Furia's Ksiezyc Milczy Luty being so impressive, delving deeper in  their discography is necessary. Guido is presented as an EP but at thirty- five minutes long and as an entire 12" record in addition to a 7" record,  I'm much more keen to view it in lexicon as a full length album. The set up  is a bit strange; the 7" contains the first two untitled songs, both  featuring guitarist Nihil on vocals as well as more conventional black metal  content albeit in Furia's unique style. It's the 12" record that is worth  more ridicule. Guido is the name of a coal mine in Poland in which Furia  recorded this material live. It's a unique setting and I'm sure the  technical background would make for a phenomenal video documentary or full  length music video. The first track, "320 w 2" (the recording was done  three-hundred and twenty meters underground) has the listener entering the  shaft elevator and descending into the mine. Bells ring as we reach the  bottom of the shaft, signalling a moment safe to exit. "Hahary" and "Taczka"  are both quite stripped down and experimental. "Hahary" is most twanging  guitar chorus left ringing and "Taczka" is a monotonous bass and kick drum  plod with distant guitar tones beyond. "Lew Albinos" showcases the only  outwardly black metal styling and even though the first half of the track  is faster with tremolo guitars, we get a couple minutes of empty expansive  contrast midway through. The song closes relatively strong. Cieri, vocalist  of fellow Katowice, Poland black metal band FDS (Nihil also plays guitars),  provides whispered and deep gritty spoken vocals on these last three tracks.  Interestingly, the three final songs here hint more at what we would hear on  Ksiezyc Milczy Luty than the first two predominantly black metal tracks. For  that angle and outlook, Guido is a record worth hearing if, like me, Ksiezyc  Milczy Luty was one of your favorites from last year. There is a definitive  uniqueness to Furia which is love or hate. That polarizing feeling is one of  the best reasons to give them a chance musically without any preconceived  notions of what to expect. (Orion)

Maze of Terror - Ready to Kill (2016) 

This album opens with the sample "I am become death, destroyer of worlds" by J. Robert Oppenheimer, which is an appropriate overture for what follows: a full-fledged thrash assault that sounds like a tank crashing into your living room. The music is loud, heavy and mean. Hailing from Lima, Peru, Maze of Terror's debut Ready to Kill is easily one of the best thrash metal albums that I've heard in a while. The album boasts a solid production. You can hear every instrument, even the bass, which interplays nicely with everything else. The riffs are consistently strong throughout the album. The vocals are par excellent and menacing to say the least. The sound on the album is emphatically lethal and makes most new bands attempting to play "thrash" walk away in shame. This band may be from Peru, but they have a sound much more in common with North American thrash as opposed to other Latin-American bands who opt for a more Sepultura inspired sound. Ready to Kill is cream of the crop for modern thrash. (Mongrel)
Morgirion - Morgirion (2008)

Morgirion; A Connecticut trio playing decimating black metal in the Northeastern US style, which is becoming it's own distinctive sound. The more aggressive tendencies  of the Northeast seem to resonate in the New York, Boston, and Philadelphia  bars and clubs where death metal once reigned supreme, and that influence is  felt. Sturdier riffing, darker more evil melodic tendencies, and more  vicious and malicious content forms the foundation. Morgirion may be best  known for their connection to One Master through Lustrum, but this - their  self titled EP from a decade back - hinted at a lot of promise to come. In  particular, "Waking The Dragon" and "Wrath Upon The Insolent" lead this EP  as the strongest track, each containing it's own distinct character, but the  thick oppressiveness, harder tones, and faster drumming exudes more hate and  disgruntled ferocity than a lot of bands manage to muster. Though it's been  several years since a follow up to their last album, Morgirion, in  particular this EP, demands some exploration. The hand numbered light- scribed discs are really a nice, DIY effort that may be tough to come by... (Orion)

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)

Opening with the famous "Cinnamon Girl" - including the phenomenal riff  closing the track, Neil Young's second album drifts enjoyably through  several territories. While "Cinnamon Girl" is a more easily recognizable hit  song, the second single off the record, "Down By The River" is a must hear  murder ballad. "Cowgirl In The Sand" closes the record but the three tracks  are linked by the origin story provided by Young that the trio were written  delirious in bed with a high fever in Topanga Canyon. There is a clear late  60's / 70's vibe across other tracks such as "Round and Round" and the title  track. Young's vocals are crooning and nostalgic. Crazy Horse, the  collective band behind Young never overshadows yet also finds it's own space  on the record. This is an ideal record to get into Neil Young's early years  with some hits but also a sense of danger and dread. This is an ideal listen  on a long highway trip through unpopulated areas or wooded areas. The  recording is very minimalist, with ringing guitars, and plump bass. This  minimalist rawness will appeal to a wide swath of listeners. (Orion)

Olde - Temple (2017)

There's a lot of this out there now... the stoner, doom, sludge mixture made  prevalent the past ten years. Olde do the style admirably on Temple, though  without too much originality. The clear and honest production portrays Olde  as talented musicians first and raucous and rowdy harbingers second. Sleep  is the obvious throw-out comparison, but even closer would be a band like  Eerie, or locals Clamfight and the defunct Maegashira, especially  considering the similarities between Doug McLarty's vocals and JJ Koczan's on  The Stark Arctic. On the surface this could be construed as a monotonous  album yet multiple listens reveals some nuanced songwriting, such as the  title track which uses well placed chord progressions to help weave yarns  across the longest song on the album and create the potential 'imagery in  the mind' effect that I require my slow tumbling doom to sculpt for me as I  listen. Some notable infusions of creativity appear scattered throughout.  Ringing reverby layered chords in "Subterfuge" lend the song a cosmic  quality. "The Ghost Narrative" subconsciously seems to borrow melodies and a  spacious serenity from recent Earth albums. "Centrifugal Disaster" has some  interesting drum rhythms courtesy of Ryan Aubin. Temple is definitely a  strong record, and I would consider it a fine example of the genre. It  doesn't quite reach the lofty heights that render it a must-hear for most,  but I would recommend it easily to anyone that loves the stoner sludge  aesthetic. (Orion)

Paganfire - Wreaking Fear and Death (2013)

For the last decade, these Filipino miscreants' name has been circulating in the underground: a few dozen demos and splits later, these Quezon City maniacs finally release their long-awaited debut album upon the masses, entitled Wreaking Fear and Death. Paganfire plays an almost "sloppy" kind of thrash, with elements reminiscent of bands such as Sodom, Mutilator, Sabbat, etc. After so much overpolished, bland modern thrash with bands who sing about getting laid and the local pizza scene -- it's always refreshing to see bands like Paganfire keeping it real and spreading the hate. The production is considerably raw, while still keeping the performance audible. It's a kind of obscure evil thrash that is close to black/death metal at times. Wreaking Fear and Death is a little underground beast that is sure to send the hippies packing. (Mongrel)

Pale Horse - Pale Horse (1997)

There are the obscure, the forgotten, and what I call, the righteously  hidden. Pale Horse remains no longer hidden. Some fine print first: this is  not the proper Pale Horse from Gloucester, New Jersey. It also is not the unimportant Pale Horse from Hoboken, New Jersey. This is the Pale Horse from  Bigler, Pennsylvania, unfortunately the only band I can find from this poor  womb of a location deep amidst the backwoods of farmland and poor taste in  music. The most ruinous attribute, other than everything else, are the  disgusting grunts of John Miller; sweaty, predatorial, gnarls that would be  better suited for a VHS porno from 1974. "Hell To Pay" has a decent opening  riff, however the song forgets to include something under the guitar solo  which manifests itself as a multitude of stringy twangs. There is a  creepiness to songs "Innocence Lost", "Whore"and "Love Machine," which will  forever linger in my internal lexicon as a synonym for 'reprehensible'. I  considered putting this up on youtube for the sole reason of allowing others to  understand how sickening it is to hear a sweaty man sing "when the race  starts going/ the juice starts flowin'... when the cab starts popping / her  head starts bobbin' / well I've got a hell of a deal for you / I'm gonna luv  (probably spelt this way but there are no lyrics listed) ya til you're black  and blue. This is undeniably one of the worst tapes I've ever heard, and  that still exists. Truly lovemachinely. (Orion)

Somne - Demo 2011 (2011)

Though an extremely murky and underground production graces the shrill  shrieks of Somne's lonely 2011 demo, the overall songwriting and melodic  structures are quite interesting and telling. The work of two individuals,  Origin and Axiom (using monikers T and A respectively), The faster, more  grim black metal elements of the material, of which the majority of the demo  is built around, remind me of Helheim's Jormundgand. There is some variety  built into the recordings, however. Second track, "Halls of Melancholy," is  not short in length, or variety with acoustics, faster second-wave styled  black metal, and perhaps some influence from the Cascadian scene is present.  "Beyond," the final track, sounds a bit out of place and is oddly upbeat in  melody. This raw black metal demo is not entirely without merit but also not  for everyone. If you truly like raw lo-fi black metal with hints of the  Norwegian and Cascadian heritage, it might meet standards. (Orion)