Saturday, March 31, 2018

CTP - 035 - I: Diseased Oblivion - A Blackened Harvest of Decomposure


Diseased Oblivion - A Blackened Harvest of Decomposure is out now. 40+ minutes of Funeral Death Noise. This is the last of the band's material to ever see the light of day. It contains tracks from what was to be their full length album which is now realized.

$6 each + shipping / $19 for 5 copies ppd.
As always, buy three items get free shipping.

http://contaminatedtones.storenvy.com/

Friday, March 30, 2018

Argus Megere - VEII


You could almost write an entire article about all the connections that Argus Megere’s lineup and sound has to Negură Bunget. But, the main takeaway is this: VEII shows that the band can stand on nearly equal footing. It’s as if the two bands share the same majestic place high up on some metaphorical mountain. While it would be really easy to subconsciously punish the band for coming so close to (but not quite replicating) Negură Bunget’s dark romanticism, VEII is absolutely a solid album in its own right. It forges its own path rather than trying to recapture lightning in a bottle.

Some key point of difference are the traces of progressive inclinations similar to Enslaved. Importantly, the band’s approach is more traditionally metal: they rely far more on riff or melody based structural anchors compared to Negură Bunget’s frequent use of massive dynamic changes. A great example of this is the sugary and somewhat traditional, but engrossing, guitar solo rounding out the end of “Umbre ratacite in piatra apuse.” Another key point are the shockingly stunning clean vocals, they are in a league completely of their own. These vocals are 100% my new favorite cleans, and compare well to what you might expect in Borknagar’s music.

The overall atmosphere on VEII is incredibly triumphant and uplifting, and while the band’s incorporation of folk influences is relatively subtle compared to what you may be expecting, it still gives off a distinctly Romanian black metal feel. Synthesizers provide a frequent harmonic backdrop for the music, but aren’t as heavy handed as many “symphonic” metal bands use (Interestingly, Sol Faur is credited with recording both the keyboards and drums). Still, the synths, along with an ample helping of effects and occasional violin, help to cement the band’s unique style. One particularly beautiful example of this is how the layered violin work on “Tabla” at one point mixes a fast trill-based melody with high synth notes before transitioning to a more reserved clean vocal section. Absolutely brilliant stuff of the sort you won’t find anywhere else.


A crisp, earthy, atmosphere makes the instruments feel like they were recorded outdoors and similar to the synthesizer’s light touch, each instrument slides into the mix like a soft breeze. Unlike many bands that aim for a naturalist vibe, Argus Megere always has a clear vision of how to keep the music blatantly heavy. In fact, a number of the riffs on the album are borderline chug-fests with how heavy they are. But it always works. What really blew me away was sticking the Romanian lyrics into Google translate and finding exactly the kind of nature themes that the music alone was already able to independently convey.

The pacing here is also excellent. However, there’s a slightly awkward lag between the third and final songs that makes me sad every time I hear it. Is the album over already? After the last track though, there is such a clear sense of finality and resolution that it seems like the band was just teasing the listener earlier. We should all be incredibly grateful for this because the album’s 47ish minutes are spread across only four tracks, each of which is over ten minutes long. The band handles this setup so well that the tracks breeze by without lagging for even a moment, and it reinforces the album’s grandeur.

ather than wishing the band sounded more like their famous brethren, Negură Bunget, I wish they focused more on their own strengths; namely their use of vocals and their grand sense of pacing. The entire band is responsible for making the soaring cleans work so well, and there’s no shame in showing off a bit more when you have both the pipes for it and the framework to make it successful. Along the same lines, where a lot of bands release very long albums just for the hell of it, Argus Megere is the kind of group that not only is capable of a long album, but really ought to expand on their grandiose atmosphere with longer releases. Still, the 47 minutes on VEII are epic in the truest sense of the word and this album is necessary listening for those who are fans of Negură Bunget (and also a good chunk of people who aren’t).

Thursday, March 22, 2018

New CTP Headquarters: Back In Action

Pre-Permanent Temporary Contaminated Tones HQ in Process of Deployment.

Rad Cianide Cozie. Thanks M. Perun!









It's been an exhausting couple of weeks. I'm not even talking about the four nor'easters we've had including the fifteen inches of God's cocaine that fell last night. Moving into a new home, while doing necessary pre-move-in repairs, and relocating all the furniture and objects yourself is not a heavenly experience. Aside from the mental exhaustion of buying a new house, this jam-packed physical obstacle course has been grueling. The reward: a nice new larger temporary headquarters for Contaminated Tones and a permanent goal insight.

For the time being, I will be located in a second bedroom while the true permanent CTP space gets completed (over an unforeseen amount of time, tbh). Still, it's nice to have a place to unwind and relax. My life, while not devoid of music over the past two months, has been extremely lacking the inner fount from which my happiness and creative juices find their genesis. It hasn't stopped me from amassing new listening material to add to the endless amount of material I am bombarded with. Included: some signed LPs from Cauldron Born and Briton Rites' Howie Bentley, a handful of cassettes and CDs, and finally getting into my own cache of unlistened to accruals.

Between this, a few good recent shows made their way into the schedule: the first Ross The Boss at St. Vitus, NY and then this past Tuesday Judas Priest and Saxon at Prudential Center, NJ, which coincided with two of my friends' birthdays. Needless to say the show was excellent. I was discouraged by the lack of interest from the crowd in Saxon, even though they put together a rather strong set that focused on music from new album, Thunderbolt. The new material was impressive and translated well to a crowd which seemed to be lacking energy. Even classics such as Motorcycle Man, Princess of the Night, and Power and the Glory were received with about as much exuberance as the tax man.

Saxon trying their best to move a bunch of sappy blokes from their seats.
Priest were extremely impressive, sticking to a lot of classics and even playing some deeper cuts such as Bloodstone, Grinder, and Saints In Hell. Halford sounded excellent, though clearly aided by an effects board to help with his resonance. Regardless, it would be heresy to not be blown away with the power and might of his Sixty-six year old vocal chords, still capable of hitting the tough notes in a track like Painkiller. The stage show lacked some of the grandeur which Iron Maiden bring; some monitors with close ups would have aided those sitting in the seats farther away. The true highlight, other than some killer classic Priest cuts, was to see Glen Tipton come out and finish the night performing Metal Gods, Breaking the Law, and Living After Midnight. Truly a monumental show from a band that still brings it, but is inevitably nearing the point of retirement.


Judas Priest including Glen Tipton playing Metal Gods but lacking the silverware.
A review of the Wounded Giant tape showed up on More Than Sound which was brought to my attention. I added the link on the Releases Page but the direct link is right here: More Than Sound.FR Wounded Giant Review. Seems like the reviewer liked the tape which is always great!

Next show: Negative Plane and Malokarpatan at Brooklyn Bazaar on Saturday.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Rites of Thy Degringolade - The Blade Philosophical



As silly as it may be to have an album titled “The Blade Philosophical” it’s actually an incredibly apt description of Rites of Thy Degringolade’s latest release. The band’s sound is somewhat tough to pin down, but it all makes perfect sense when you try to imagine a “philosophical” blade. It’s an inquisitive stabbing of music, savage but thoughtful. Although the band is often grouped in with the greater Canadian black/death metal scene, Rites has always forged their own path. and their direction on this album trends much closer to mid-tempo Swedish black metal than muddy chaos.

Still, the band’s genuine sense of creativity makes most comparisons only ballpark estimates. If you want to get stupidly specific about it, there are also touches of earlier releases from French bands like Merrimack and Glorior Belli. You wouldn’t quite call them an experimental or avant garde band, but that spirit is definitely in the music and their distinct rhythmically-minded sound is a great example of a band that stays well within its genres traditions without retreading the past.



The best thing about this album is how well it balances razor sharp production with muscular and nearly chaotic undertones, many bands go for one extreme or the other. Rites can transition from hyper precise crystal clear riffing featuring stereo split multi-tracking to a wild Slayer-esque solo without batting an eye. That said, the album definitely leans much more to the former than the latter. Overall the release is broken up with so many punchy rhythmic sections that there is a crisp martial feel that never clashes with the more typical black/death elements. It’s also critical to understand that this rhythmic inclination includes clever palm muting, liberal use of snare heavy flourishes, and deft vocal phrasings.

Although the album is just a tad over forty minutes long, the band’s fourth full-length is has some fairly long tracks and is their longest release yet. Frankly, it could have been tightened up a tad. For example, the short track “Totalities Kompletion” lacks the interesting rhythmic aspects included in other songs, aiming instead for blunt aggression. But that song’s apparent power is completely dwarfed by the riffing on “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Knife.” This highlights how a handful of moments on the album are better suited for second-tier bands, and ought to have faced the paring knife. Unfortunately this problem has a habit of weakening the band’s otherwise forceful transitions between exceptionally clear melodies.

Returning to the positives, the vocals on this release are exceptional even though they don’t have a particularly unique tone and, with the exception of the really cool cleans on “The Final Laceration,” they aren’t at all flashy. Rites often beefs up the vocal tone by layering the same vocal melody with fairly tight but natural sounding harmonization, which makes sense once you notice that all four band members are credited with the vocals. The vocal’s emotional impact also mesh incredible well with the album’s atmosphere - mostly straightforward aggression with faint hints of a brooding ritualistic vibe.

The creativity on this album is subtle but still clear. I can’t think of a more percussive black metal release that still manages to have a clearly traditional sound. Rites’ conservative approach and distinct style makes this a solid release to check out for a wide range of black metal fans.