Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vader - Blood EP

You can always count on Vader to supply a healthy dosage of death metal medicine. Without relying solely on blasting fury, indecipherable vocals or convoluted meandering songs, Piotr and Co have assembled once again to provide fans of death metal with the steaming mounds of flesh they crave. Don't allow me to misguide you however; there is plenty of blasting fury, plenty of brutally demonic vocals and twisting riffery. What Vader do differently than other bands from their homeland of Poland such as Decapitated or Behemoth is that, the song is lord - as it rightly should be.

Vader truly excel in writing strong, memorable songs that find a festering place in your heart and the songs on "Blood" are no exception to the rule. Opening track "Shape-Shifting" is the most adventurous track on the entire EP. Taking some cues from the Swedish style, a clear underlying disease, a swarm of frustrated hornets, moves the song through it's phases; starting like a battery of gunfire then marching through the dead to reap the graves of the enemy. Complete with an atmospheric segment not unlike some of the more recent Bloodbath material, "Shape Shifting" is in itself a mini-documentary into the varying styles that death metal can deliver. Superior track, gritty, aggressive and hauntingly memorable. "We Wait" is a monstrously catchy, monstrously heavy and neck breaking festering showcase of well written death. It relies not on torrents of riffs but instead, allows the one or two monster riffs roll over you and crush every bone in your body. It is a simple construct though works like a charm, a reliable hand tool of sorts that needs only a skilled wielder to awaken. "Son of Fire" is a blistering track composed of nothing but hatred and aggression, fueled by the maniacal drumming of Doc and is unquestionably death metal.

The strength of the songs are aided by classic death metal production - thick guitars, a great bass tone natural, live sounding drum battery and an intense though decipherable vocal deliver. One of the best aspects of this release is the mix. It is professional, sturdy and enables everything to be heard perfectly including the much abused and ignored bass. Within all the frequencies however, there is some muddiness in the lower guitar tones - the "chug" frequencies. The increased bass audibility masks some of these tones however, as a bassist, I don't mind. Musicianship on this release is excellent as any Vader release. Piotr Wiwczarek handles both guitar and vocal duties with ease with fine accompaniment from Maurycy Stafanowicz. Adding to the duo's tightness is Marcin Nowak and Doc Raczkowski on bass and drums respectively. As far as a rhythm section goes, Marcin and Doc have to be one of the finest examples of such in modern death metal.

The album has some let downs however, and is far from killing the gopher. The main riff in "As The Fallen Rise" has an Czervikian annoyance due to the repetitive nature of it. I also felt that both "Traveller" and "When Darkness Calls" were lackluster compared to the strong opening of the album. Even though "Traveller" has some interesting lead work, the song as a whole really never climaxes for me while "Darkness," aside from having the best lead section on the album, both takes a bit long to get started and drags on after it has gotten started. The inclusion of a Thin Lizzy cover is endearing though an odd inclusion. It is a far cry different from anything else on "Blood" and ending a Vader EP with a droning ambient-ish outro just seems weird to me. Strangely, I find the cover less aggressive than the original, less epic and lacking the characteristic Lynott narrative style. As a cover, it's fun to hear a death metal band doing a traditional metal track. Tossed on, it doesn't really detract, but it really doesn't really serve the rest of EP either.

________RELEASE INFO__________
Year: 2003
Origin: POLAND (Olsztyn)
Label: Metal Blade Records
Serial: 3984 - 14461 - 2

Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek - guitar and vocals
Marcin "Novy" Nowak - bass
Maurycy "Mauser" Stafanowicz - guitar
Krysztof "Doc" Raczkowski - drums

1. Shape Shifting
2. We Wait
3. As The Fallen Rise
4. Son Of Fire
5. Traveller
6. When Darkness Calls
7. Angel of Death (Thin Lizzy)

Vader Official Website

________EXTRA INFO___________


Pressings:Metal Blade Records (2002): 3984 - 14461 - 2
Metal Blade Records (2003):
==> A re-release with the Reign Forever World Album
==> This release is missing "Angel Of Blood"
Metal Mind Poland (2008): MMP088
==> A re-release with the Revelations album

Friday, April 24, 2009

Words Of Evil - Words Of Evil #1

Luke Passinham and Billy Clough make no attempt to skirt the honest truth in relation to their sturdy little fanzine, Words of Evil. "Our intention with this zine to simply to expose bands we like." Poor grammar aside (hey... mine's not so hot either usually) it is a labor of love with a ton of information composed into reviews and interviews. Sweet cover also, with skulls emitting smoke from the eyes in a dark forest and the skeletal remains of Baby Bop reading from a grimoire of occult spells after having pillaged Stephen O'Malley's cloak closet. Most of the bands in the first issue of this zine have gained a status as minor underground "big bands" so anyone looking solely for information on rarities and has-beens might need to delve deeper. Interviews with Enforcer (SWE), Scythian, and Battlewitch pose typical surface questions, prying little into the nitty gritty interesting aspects but then again "to simply to expose bands we like" is a half assed mission statement if I ever saw one. The cut and paste zine is a ton of fun to skim through when time is limited with massive quantities of detailed backgrounds to look at (I like trying to pick out all the album covers I can) and an oldschool artistry that would make more modern artsy mags bow down and cower.

While the Enforcer interview was straight forward and a bit uninteresting, I found the Vassafor interview to be particularly arresting and involved. Although the questions were at times one sided, it was Vassafor's lord, V, who carried the interrogation, giving interesting and involved answers. His interest in cosmic theories and dreams was a welcome variation to the normal black metal responses most of the time resulting in childish worship of Satan in the same way brainwashed Christians worship their deity. Lord V also shows a keen sense of humor in regards to the titles of his releases and the quality of his tattoos. He shows a real passion for heavy metal and music. Interviews like this make supporting the fanzines and nabbing up as many as possible a real worthwhile investment when it comes to figuring out what artists to support. The Gama Bomb interview is also a fun read, with some cool movie recommendations for people like me who aren't devoted horror fanatics. Joe and Luke's humor and general laid back personality drenches the interview. Luke's response to the question about lyrical topics caused quite a chuckle as well - I think I know what his favorite lyrical topic is.... The Mutant review is an interesting read also if only for exemplifying the problem with a lot of younger bands - disguising a lack of their own style under the cheap costume of a need for "progression."

The first installment of Words of Evil also provides a nice quantity of informed reviews which are mostly well written and trustworthy. I bought almost the whole Deathevokation discography based on the review of their Chalice of Ages album. A mag with no outside strings controlling the movements and thoughts of it's creators, you can trust that the opinions presented are worth their salt. Though I felt that they could have been longer and a bit more content oriented, the reviews left me feeling like I learned something about the band's I was reading about. Also nice is the reviews of the albums released by the band's interviewed in the issue. After reading the interview, I was able to follow up with some extra material. Along with the Deathevokation review, other reviews that caught my attention were the Countess review, which was expertly written and contained a load of interesting information. I was a bit perturbed however at the author's suggestion of grabbing some bands' demos by contacting them, even if he showed a luke-warm, at best, opinion on their material - a helping hand that might not really be helping anyone in the long run.

While the magazine is generally well formated and easily readable, at times, some of the pages are photocopied poorly, cropping lines of text out. Also, there are some spelling errors scattered around in the pages which, while not a problem to the enjoyment of the zine do make me wish that there was a little more time taken to look over everything; we all make mistakes though. The photocopied nature of the magazine also has it's flaws, namely some of the images are blurred and unrecognizable - though not the crystal clear Consuming Impulse cover on page 27. Also, some of the images accompanying the actual interviews and articles are so small they are almost unrecognizable against the backgrounds. The inclusion of a live review is something of a double edged sword also. I enjoy the information and opinions on the live acts of the bands but a review of a UK gig for someone living overseas is a bit worthless and, presently, outdated. From a fanzine however, this inclusion is understandable, traditional and respected. The information and opinions of the author are credible and never compromised by including any kind of rectum-refuse, questionable material. No Trivium or deathcore reviews here, just honest thoughts from a long time fan of the genre.

_________RELEASE INFO__________

Release: (2007)
Origin: UK - Birmingham
Pages: 50 (52 w/ covers)

1. Enforcer (SWE) Interview
2. Vassafor Interview
3. Scythian Interview
4. Gama Bomb Interview
5. Battlewitch Interview
6. Mutant Interview
7. Full Thrash Assault 2 Review

1. Deathevokation - Chalice Of Ages
2. Verminous - Impious Sacrilege
3. Hospital Of Death - Demo Mixes
4. Mutilator - Grave Desecration Bootleg
5. Infinitum Obscure - Internal Dark Force
6. Vassafor - Vassafor EP
7. Bonded By Blood - Extinguish The Weak
8. Impaled - The Last Gasp
9. Sirocco - The March Through Crimson Frost
10. Rannoch - Talamh Mathair
11. Stormcrow - Enslaved In Darkness
12. Metalocaplypse - The Dethalbum
13. Let 'Em Burn - Second Wave
14. Empathy - Skulls On Fire
15. Asomvel - Full Moon Dog
16. Anoxia - Manufacturing The End
17. Matricide - Holy Virgin EP
18. Feral - Lykos Anthropos
19. Enforcer - Evil Attacker 7"
20. Gama Bomb / Black Sister Split
21. Crucifire - Unblessed Unto Hatred
22. Ignivomous - Path of Attrition
23. Anal Vomit - Depravation
24. Martire - Martire EP


__________EXTRA INFO_________


Monday, April 20, 2009

Indonesian Brutality Promos Vol. 1

Fleshvomit blasts through their promo with gusto. While I like their general style, I found a lot of the two songs entirely forgettable. I admit to not being a huge brutal death metal fan, but I can tell that these guys show promise and have a lot of passion in their music. The vocals are indecipherable but not a vomiting (as their name suggests) grunting monstrosity and the guitars incredibly heavy with loads of bass frequencies. I do wish I could hear a bit more of the bass tone but, with such massive guitars, the bass is dubbed obsolete. First song "Sadism Killer" is an easily enjoyable though easily forgettable song. The poppy, slightly tinny snare sound and ultra mesmerizing drum groove is captured on second track "Murder of Mutilation." Complete with twisted riffs and a variety of drum styles, moments of this track remind of Iniquity's Grime. Easily the best track of the two as well as being the strongest track of all the Indonesian Brutality Promos. I will definitely grab a copy of their full length when it is released. Though there are only two songs, it is easy to guess where these guys will be in a few years should they keep this style up. Fans of Iniquity, Suffocation, Immolation and any follower of the early round of Brutal Death metal fans should eat this up and clean the plate.

Katarak's moment to shine is less intriguing and original. The guitars are rustier during their tremolo moments and somewhat fuzzed over during the chugging moments. Still, the release captures an intensity similar to the Fleshvomit promo though not as veteran sounding. Opening track "Sadistic Hymns of Sacrificial Ceremony" is all over the place with wild guitar lines and spurts of interesting riffs but lacks a cohesive structure. "Overdose Is Suicide" blasts into a weird pulsing riff highlighting the tightness of the band though the simple and unemotional drumming seems to pull the track down. It could be the fact that it is buried in the mix, but its difficult to hear that the drummer has fallen into the beat of the song. Closer "Brutal Massacre of the Witcher" is a more mid paced thrashing Brutal Death Metal style with moments of intense blasting. Closing riff is twisted genius though I wish the band stuck to it a little more instead of going off in an unfocused combination of tremelo musings. Once again, the track fails to appeal structurally though with more of those weird pulsing riffs, Katarak still manages to leave an impression.

Indonesia's Destroy are more content writing short songs in the style of a wild boar attacking a twelve watt cheap amplifier. Ultimately, I found their promo to be the worst of all them. Nothing lasted long enough or sounded brutal enough compared to the other releases. Though they have the lowest grunting vocalist, coupled with the monstrously terrible production and bland songs, I fail to find any interest. "Primitive Insane" actually sounds like a recording of someone blowing bubbles in their milk while listening to the neighborhood gore-grind fanatic driving down the street. Even funnier is you can hear where the song was patched together in who knows what digital editing software (right after the first bass fill). The tinny snare sound in closer "Born To Grind Your Mind" sounds like someone inexperienced recording Lars' kit during the St. Anger sessions... Cool artwork though horrid music.

Bleeding Flesh play a style similar to both Katarak and Fleshvomit though with more blasting, less memorability and a brutally indecipherable complexity which actually makes me question whether these guys actually wrote anything in the first place. I had a friend who would say "Hey man, play this..." and then he would start jamming out riffs which he wrote on the spot. This is the same thing to my ears. Bleeding Flesh occasionally fall into a good beat, groove or idea though it usually ends sooner than I can actually take in what is going on. Maybe though, that's their point.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tomhet - A Dark Serenity

The availability of bedroom black metal bands' material isn't cause for concern outright. Though when anyone with a Korg keyboard and a midi-drum program can make an album and find someone to release it, I am concerned with labels' attention to what is worth investing their time and money in. Labels pushing releases like Tomhet's "A Dark Serenity" are one reason for a swamped market; overcrowded and unbrowsable trade lists and above all - subpar metal. While Tomhet's "A Dark Serenity" might be worth your time if bland and boring blackened crap is up your alley, I don't see a reason for this release to be anything more than a self financed and released demo or even a pre-production click recording. Apart from the fact that this isn't really gripping in any way, the fucking songs last longer than reading the Yongle Dadian from beginning to end... well, they seem that way. I mean, the intro to the intro of the first song is two notes played over and over for two minutes straight. Why?!

So once the intro track is finished and I'm ready for some black metal - maybe the point of the strenuous opening - I still have to wait another minute and a half until the first distorted notes on the album break through. At this point, I've already sat through the same semi-conscious compositions for over four minutes before opening track "Ice Fell From The Sky" awkwardly erupts into a full frontal assault of bedroom blasting. Tomhet's creator, Jonathan S. proves his ability in repetitive drum programming from the start. While the sound of the drums themselves are not too irksome, real cymbals would help the monotony of hearing the same sounding high hat for the duration of the (too-long) CD. "Ice Fell" is an accurate representation of the rest of the albums black metal tracks - long, boring and repetitive - and introductory track, "Aphotic Infinity," sprawling like the suburbs of New Jersey, is a remarkable example of the orchestral tracks. Tracks four and five, "A Tale of Ultimate Catharsis" and "Everlasting Woe II" follow in their boring black metal and orchestral contemplation respectively. "Everlasting Woe" does have a nice throbbing keyboard drawl to it though this could also be explained by the headache I succumbed to listening to the cd two times in a row.

One stand out track is the enjoyable title track, "A Dark Serenity." An instrumental, this song is favored with having a nice soothing melody and a not-so-boring construction that alternates between multiple sections. Unlike the five previous paint-watching sessions which were either black metal or orchestration / ambient, "A Dark Serenity" falls somewhere in between. Yes, it is an ambient track but not as minimalist as the previous orchestrated romps and not so outright an attempt at black metal like the other black metal monotonies. The lack of Jonathan's horrid vocals are another major benefit to "A Dark Serenity's" listenability. On the previous tracks, his vocals were a distorted, reverberatory quadruple overdubbed mess of static and rawness mixed too high in the mix to destroy any hope of "atmosphere" the songs may have created in a distant parallel universe. They work much better in the title track... Sadly, this track is followed by "Journey Through The Frozen Forest," a journey through frozen redundancy, it marks the worst the CD has to offer. Boring, vocally grating and containing the most irritating riff since Pantera's "Walk," it gladly ends after only two minutes. More boring keyboard crap can be found in "Outro."
The Blasphemy cover, "Atomic Nuclear Desolation" starts off being the best track on the whole damn CD but cuts off after only twenty three seconds. Every song has at least ten seconds worth of silence following it (which I am thankful for - these moments of silence remained my only hope for momentary respite while listening). I am frustrated and needy now... like a little schoolboy surrounded by short skirted goddesses while the only woman who wants me is a chubby. This is limited to only one hundred and fifty copies (still too many) so luckily most people will never have to endure Tomhet.

________RELEASE INFO__________
Year: 2008
Origin: USA (Canyon County, California)
Label: Nokturnal Transmissions Records
Serial: NTR 005
Lineup: Jonathan S. - Everything

1. Intro
2. Ice Fell From The Sky
3. Aurora Borealis
4. A Tale Of Ultimate Catharsis
5. Everlasting Woe II
6. A Dark Serenity
7. Journey Through The Frozen Forest
8. Atomic Nuclear Desolation (Blasphemy Cover)
9. Outro

Tomhet Official
Tomhet Myspace
Nokturnal Transmission Records

________EXTRA INFO___________


1. NTR 005 (CD - 150 Copies)
2. LR 009 (Cassette - 50 Copies)

Nokturnal Transmission Records

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Imynvokad -Tongues of Death

Crack open the door to Imynvokad's haunted realm and you will quickly find yourself surrounded by a dense wall of ghostly hues and malevolent apparitions. The sordid spirits lick your skin with wispy remnants of flesh that once lived. Tongues of Death sounds like spirits and wind, like running from inescapable foes that never die and never cease to occupy your thoughts. It is a proper blackened release comprised of four churning tracks of perfectly constructed metal of the ritualistic blackened kind sure to invest its creeping, lurking and seeping melodies deep into the recesses of one's cortex. Make no mistake about it, there is a primal essence running through the magnetic filament and it is ready to engrave on the willing listener a need to listen to the ghostly chants and paranormal activity supplied. If you don't believe in ghosts, this is a release that will make you think twice.

The crisp, ringing metallic guitar tone undulates through the cassette's current, leaving trails of hidden cadence, memories of the summoned spirits being absorbed into your consciousness. The guitars are sharp, cutting their way through the hordes of phantasms, revealing both subtle and outright melodies. Listen carefully and you can hear the bare amount of distortion and the massive reverb that coats each string as it is plucked with careful consideration and yet a hand that has performed these hymns many times before; both a thoughtlessness and reflection with every freed note. And while the guitars carefully mold the blustery textures carried through, sole instrumentalist and vocalist (Another of these one man black metal "bands") Beleseth is fond of mourning in the hidden recesses of each song, a distant rawness within which single words are audible occasionally. Beleseth's drumming is standard fare yet appropriate. Switching between faster, gusty and thrustful barrages of reverb-laden percussion and slower, mid-tempo rhythms, the natural tonality of the kit contains a morose, and morbid personality.

Each song has a distinctive flavor, its own lost Poeish tale. Opening track, "By Blood Does the Beast Arise," leads off the hellish journey with a nightmarish quality. It is easy to imagine the fear of being lost and hunted by malicious creatures or spirits with a hunger for human blood. The song drifts between an uneasy solace and a dreadful, tortured prey's tense last moments. There is a string of lyrics audible to the ear near the end of the track. To my ear: "I have power, iron will..." or "This power, I have willed..." Second track, "Union With the Blood of the Moon," is more delicate in its melody, more subdued and subtle. A whispering beast, dripping with sadness and evil. The main component is a dance-like segment repeated two times throughout the song with a brilliant weaving of textures both disgusting and beautiful. "Forge of Black Flames" and "Beyond the Veil of the Abyss" are both unique in their own right but share much of the same style and ideas of the first two tracks. "Forge" has an atmospheric, interlude halfway through the song that really stands apart. Still menacing, it reveals Beleseth's musicianship and attention to dynamic within the track. "Beyond the Veil of the Abyss" is a strong track as well, with a killer riff culminating in a fiery haze of haunted trance. My cassette has what sounds like a heartbeat after the track ends that continues on for another ten minutes. Meant to be there or some cassette trickery, it is an interesting effect that fits in with the atmosphere present.

________RELEASE INFO__________
IMYNVOKAD - Tongues of Death

Year: 2008
Origin: USA (Austin, Texas)
Label: Pale Horse Records
Serial: PHR003
Lineup: Beleseth - Everything

1. By Blood Does The Beast Arise
2. Union With The Blood Of The Moon
3. Forge Of Black Flames
4. Beyond The Veil Of The Abyss

Pale Horse Records

________EXTRA INFO___________


1. October 2006

1. PHR003 (Cassette)

Pale Horse Records

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Doom Reich - Doom Reich # 1

Fanzines have been a tradition in underground metal forever. Inevitably, there would come a time when fanzines no longer become an outlet for opinions and took on spiritual importance for their writers - a desire to spread filth fueled orders to as many unsuspecting human failures as possible. Doom Reich, a tidy little zine the same size (and construction) as the program pamphlets handed out for Sunday masses all across the country, is hell bent on providing guidelines by which to both live ones life and at the same time, hasten the coming apocalypse. While the lovely homemade style and print is endearing, it is the effort taken to make the magazine as unique as possible that gives Doom Reich a charming personality. With each issue containing a hand written note of sorts - my note contained lyrics from Eyehategods's "Left To Starve" - from the main contributer and founder Greven Melkor, there is a feeling of worthiness contained with your issue. Apparently, Greven is now handing out obituaries with each issue as well and while I won't reveal where this idea came from, I will say that it is a practice I would like to see spread. Showing the faces of the dead to all who live, presenting an ultimate vision of every man and woman's future before their very eyes, is incredibly nihilistic and one hundred percent in line with the motives of this little zine.

The content of issue number one is small at the moment though with a more "packed" issue number two in the works, this might be a mag that grows into something more interesting than your simple interview - review format magazine that finds its way into every mailbox these days. The writing of the three contributing authors is acceptable but by no means exceptional. That doesn't take away from the sincerity and, in the case of David Kvisling Hitler Faubus Stenger, humor present. With Kvisling's article being an account of a methhead superhero's trip to work on the bus, be prepared to burst out laughing several times. Greven Melkor keeps his articles (3) to more down to earth subject matter, speaking about the price of cigarettes, his excellent experience with the Abyss Records online webstore, and on page one, a decree for all readers to "help usher in this age of hatred" and "strive for true intellectual freedom." Final contributer "Parallel," is happy strapping down readers to a chain link fence and forcing all to hear his opinions on Burzum's Daudi Baldr album. He expects all to agree with his open-hearted adoration for this midi-masterpiece.

Doom Reich is a neat little zine and a must have for zine collectors tired of getting zines full of crap. With a strong sense of artistic license, no grammar excrementstorms or choppy language, and a definite desire to offend and anger, Doom Reich is a zine worth keeping an eye on. Issue two will probably be the one to invest in, with more material and content, though anyone wanting a preview of what is in store shouldn't hesitate to send the three measly dollars to Greven Melkor for a copy. Considering the future, the damn thing might be worth something in a few years if the mag takes off. These will be hard to find and lauded as the mag that brought down the world - a sure reason to get your twitchy fingers mailing dollars.

Release: (2009)
Pages: 6 (8 w/ covers)
1. The End Time Message
2. My Life As A Superhero
3. Abyss Records
4. Burzum - Daudi Baldrs Review
5. Pipe Tobacco
Contact Via:
Metal Archives Forum - WebOfPiss
AIM - OrthodoxCaveman

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Benighted In Sodom - In Hora Maledictus Part I

I like music that aids my mind in creating hallucinations around me. Benighted In Sodom invoke scenes of graveyards and ancient monuments built to honor long dead Gods. The fuzzed over guitars, mortuary like bleakness and subtle layering of harmonious and disharmonious aspects allow the listener to choose how they want to enjoy In Hora Maledictus Part I; one can listen on the surface and enjoy the release's vastness, or they can listen to the deeper textures and enjoy the claustrophobic closeness of being swamped in sadness. Make no mistake about it, this is a release that is aimed at creating a depressed state, suicidal emotions and general disdain towards life and the will to stay alive. The cover artwork shows a scorched landscape, empty and meaningless, sun drenched and dry, waiting for any kind of relief but receiving none from the selfish and careless tyrants of heaven above. Also shown are suicide instruments, means to self inflicted pain and death; pills, vials for negligent measurement of chemicals and a large silhouette of a razor blade. This isn't the sharp, decisiveness of the blade adorning British Steel, the symbol of metal's razor sharp attitude and aggression. It is the blurred image of an unsure intellect, unsure whether life is worth living.

Lyrically, there are interesting ideas spread across the lyrics given to three of the album's eight songs, but I can't help but wish that I had the lyrics to all the canticles. With some lines being quite thought provoking and intellectually stimulating, they can be read without the music and still be interesting to explore. My favorite combination of lines is in "The Shepherd and the Atheist." Why must thou hide, if thou art supreme? Perhaps to hide the emptiness... It's an interesting thought, not one that hasn't been touched on before, but one that is always worth thinking about. It gives me satisfaction in knowing that others are thinking about their spirituality and coming to terms with breaking centuries of misguided thinking in regards to how we view concepts such as "God." The lyrical content of the album is of interest to anyone who enjoys reading lyrics and contemplating their meaning. Even with only three songs worth of lyrics, it will take some time to digest their ideas and decode their possible meanings.

The depth of the provided lyrics matches the fathoms of texture that combine to create the atmospheres of the songs. "The Shepherd and the Atheist" implants images of funeral pyres, gravestones and a general odor of death in ones mind. "Fountain of Lies", "Discarded Halos" and the ending of "Euthanasia" all provide mental journeys through the windswept deserts, fast moving skies and other slow moving landscapes. "Uncomfortable Serenity (The Opiate)" which happens to be my favorite track is a slow and brooding yet uncomfortably uplifting and soothing (this is one of those tracks which has a fitting title) song that meanders; waxing and waning throughout. With M. Thorn's vocals never being too invasive, these atmospheres are rarely broken. His raw, mid-ranged screams and yells are viscerally enjoyable. The rawness in his vocals is inhuman, so inhuman he has to be adding some sort of digital processing to them to get the sandpaper roughness. Unless his vocal cords have a twenty-four grit rating, there is no way... just no way... This inhuman ability however is inconsequential, as the music needs such a delivery. M. Thorn delivers and doesn't even ask for a tip. He leaves you fumbling for your wallet, staring at an empty doorway. He provides his vocals and is gone instantly, allowing you to be once more subdued by the ravaging sadness of the songs.

Another of those one man black metal "bands", Benighted In Sodom, according to the booklet, is, was and will forever be the manifestation of M. Thorn. I find it difficult to judge the talent of musicians in one man projects. It may be that, I can't decide if this new batch of musicians is incredibly talented, incredibly patient with their recording, or just mediocre, relying instead on the murkiness of tone under the guise of atmosphere to cover up their inadequacies. Either way, this is a well produced mass of sound. The guitars are fuzzy, buzzing of treble and reverb in a way in which a "static" effect is created. A soothing melodic static. The bass is a lumbering animal, a bit caged though audible and well mixed. Had it been pushed forward slightly, the whole release may have a "slow marching legions of undead" vibe going on. It has a vibrating ring and lovely subtle hot tone like the old Ampeg tube amps. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It shows itself prominently at the beginning of closing track "Euthanasia" and also not so prominently and coupled with a ringing live drum tone to kick off "Uncomfortable Serenity."

This is another album in which the drums seem to be less of a necessity and more a mere inclusion. The drums are buried behind the atmosphere, left to simply "keep time." They reveal themselves at times and do play a role in keeping the mostly lumbering tempo of the songs from becoming mechanical but are generally buried beneath the static textures. Even the snare is buried. The toms are the loudest kit component and, when M. Thorn is bashing out a fill, they fill the room with a lovely low bass tone. During the enjoyably misery stricken clean segments, which the disc occasionally ventures into during "Euthanasia" and "Discarded Halos," the drums are perfectly contrasting in tone - trebly and live - to the fluidity of the clean guitar sound. Ultimately, it is this trebly tone which is masked by the fuzzy and buzzing trebly guitar static - an inevitable problem of one instrument's frequency masking another instrument playing at the same frequency.

While all the tracks are strong while listening to them, I found only "Discarded Halos, Uncomfortable Serenity," and "Euthanasia" to really stand out. While the tracks all are steeped in melody, but not so much as to sound amateurishly so, the first three tracks all blend together for me until M. Thorn's vicious opening wail in "Discarded Halos." For me, the second half of the album is far stronger in song composition and memorability. "Uncomfortable Serenity" has such a strong cadence that even after I had finished listening to the album, I was, to myself (most of the time) humming the main melodic phrase which had created its own fissure in my brain in which to live, absorb my focus, and grow. "Euthanasia" is such a stunning example of how melancholy can be produced without screaming "be sad" at people or singing about how your ex-girlfriend doesn't want to be with you anymore (I'm looking at you Chaos Moon).

____________Release Info____________________

Benighted In Sodom - In Hora Maledictus Part I ( 2008 )
Band Origin: USA - Florida
CD Lineup: M. Thorn - All Instrumentation / Vocals

Track List:

1. The Shepherd And The Atheist
2. Fountain Of Lies
3. The Wizard Behind The Curtain
4. Discarded Halos
5. Uncomfortable Serenity (The Opiate)
6. Atrophy
7. Euthanasia


Benighted In Sodom Official Myspace
Obscure Abhorrence Productions

Buy This Release: Here

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chaos Moon - Langour Into Echoes... Beyond

In a way, Chaos Moon have one of the most appropriately titled names of any black metal band. Instead of dubbing their band some absurd combination of letters, they chose a moniker that actually described their music - a combination of chaotic black metal and spacey, lunar vistas. Chaos Moon may appear to be a typical black metal project on the outside but they are toying with some interesting elements that separate them from the crowded mob of new wave black metal bands. Following in the footsteps of Deathspell Omega, Leviathan and any number of modern black metal outfits, Chaos Moon, hailing from an unlikely Nashville, Tennessee, combine the atmospheric ambiance and spaced out feel of subtle melody changes and wet, liquid tones with the more direct, punctual and precise attack of modern bands like Watain and Keep of Kalessin. Chaos Moon have opted away from the overproduced, hyped up technicality of the aforementioned acts and instead have decided to stay rooted in a more underground production style and more streamlined playing style.

The decision works in their favor and Chaos Moon's 2007 release Languor Into Echoes... Beyond shows a band experimenting with styles, textures and ideas at an expert level. In fact, Chaos Moon's chemistry of melody and ambiance while maintaining the ability to break into vicious black metal frostiness really gives their debut album a helping hand; lifting it to a level beyond mediocre. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Languor is a black metal revelation or the next Transilvanian Hunger etc., but it is an interesting listen to for fans of black metal. The power metal and traditional metal fans out there - particularly those of European leaning - may find some interesting moments on the disc in the form of keyboard and synth sections, but I would reserve listening to veterans of more blackened metal paths. Still, anyone interested in experiencing new and creative music would find Chaos Moon's style worth a listen.

Examining this beast's two visages reveals a lot about what abyss this release pulls its best moments from and what makes songs like "Simulacrum of Mirrors" such rewarding journeys into auditory landscapes. Chaos Moon excel when combining the spacey and black metal components, lack at times when playing only black metal chaos, and are interesting but uninspired when meandering through their cosmic ambient travels. Opening track "De Mortalitate" is an example of all these parts and styles. As an opening track, it prepares the audience (or solitary explorer), presenting them with the view of a full spectrum (mostly) of everything that Languor has to offer on later hymns. For me, the track really expands into something more than mere black metal when the midway break arrives and expands into a combination of the aforementioned elements; the furious black metal and atmospheric space-scapes. It is vicious and epic and soothing simultaneously. It takes two listens to to appreciate "Mortalitates" simple structure and effective progression from blasting to spacey trance, to blasting once more. The subtle decent into trance-like subliminality and instant snap back to chaos mimics the mind's progress in a similar psychological situation. Structurally, it takes the same form as any number of chorus, verse metal songs but where a speed metal or thrash song would have a screaming solo, Chaos Moon instead place an atmospheric puddle of gray moodiness.The song contains a victorious sadness, perhaps saying something philosophical about mortality in it's aura. This victorious sadness is carried through the disc.

It is near the end of second track "Abstract Tongues" that I began to realize that the main perpetrator of Chaos Moon's attack, Esoterica (I must admit, a rather feminine title - I can imagine the dude working overtime as a transsexual mistress (misteress)) is an amazingly talented musician. This becomes even more apparent throughout following track "Waning." Esoterica's guitar playing is heavily inspired by Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger, an influence that helps create the atmosphere and trance that is common throughout. Where the disc differs is in the incredible drumming. Instead of opting for the lazy simplicity of Transilvanian Hunger, Esoterica instead employs a powerful barrage of drum battery. While it would far fetched to claim that the drumming is complex, it would be inconsiderate to say it is mindlessly simplistic. I am finding it difficult to tell if the drums are programmed due to their monotony. The clean vocals are provided by M.H. Listen closely during the sound scape in the median of "Simulacrum of Mirrors" and you can actually almost hear background noises. While there is nothing as mood destroying as a telephone ringing or cell phone going off, it does draw my attention away. After four minutes of numbing synths, however, it doesn't take much for my to relocate my focus.

No lyrics are given in the booklet however there are some choice words vague enough to apply to basically anything including, but not limited to, death, lost love, suicide, depression and the Keebler elves. M.H's clean vocals are audible at times and he seems to be stuck on some issue with a woman. Example: "If I could just reach over and touch her side of the bed... but I can't... I know I can't have her back." Brutal...

Chaos Moon are a worthwhile band to check out for fans of black metal with more open minds and a need for something a bit more involved than simple primitive bashing. The primitivism can be found on Languor Into Echoes... Beyond but this is not a simple release. Tracks like "The Palterer" are a prime example of what can be found and explored in Moon's music. Like "Simulacrum," "Palterer" has a vast moody middle section with a slightly proggy feel, melancholy mood and enough subtlety to bring you back several times in the future. Like "Mortalitate," this track also degenerates into more tumultuous churning. "Hymn To Iniquity" also falls into an ambient chasm, this time, accentuated with Esoterica's harsh vocals. Though the fall is steep, a soothing, heavenly melody accompanies you through the songs ritualistic vibe. "Hymn" would be my choice for standout track. It combines the chaos of black metal with the soothing ambient found elsewhere on the cd in a way that maintains my interest. Basically, this is a song you can lay back, close your eyes, and dream along to.

Closer "Countlss Reverie In Mare" follows along with the more ambient / black combination that "Hymn To Iniquity" maintained. The album's second longest track, "Reverie" is a step above a lot of black metal but is a bit fragmented. It too often degenerates into ambient sections to transition. This isn't a bad technique in of itself though when used more than three times in the same song, the effectiveness of said technique decreases. Ultimately, the abundance of soothing ambient on what could be considered the disc's b-side supports the album's two-faced quality. Whether or not this was the intention of Esoterica and M.H is unknown but if it was, It would give the CD yet another dimension to examine: At what point does the disc's focus change? Why? Is this a conceptual album? There are questions in regards to Languor Into Echoes... Beyond that are worth answering to better understand how to listen to the release itself. There is a split on the album though; moments separating the two schools. It comes halfway through "Simulacrum of Mirrors." It is after this moment that the disc drifts away from the blasted aggressiveness of opening tracks "De Mortalitates" and "Waning." While the blasting makes a speedy showing during "The Palterer," the disc ends on a mostly ambient note. With a lot of content, this is a release that will satisfy black metal fans of many different thoughts and leanings.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sermon of Foulness - Sermon Of Foulness Promo 2008

What I would wager to see Sermon of Foulness recording the vocals for their 2008 promotional disc. I can't decide if the shrieks and screams and general throat ripping rawness was recorded in a bathroom or at the zoo. I'm going to go ahead and declare in favor of "zoo" because it would be simply way too difficult to get seven elephants into a bathroom, mic them up and then record them without something going awry. The vocals simply sound way to inhuman to be made by homosapiens. Maybe lone zoo-keeper Tiberius, aside from being more of an old school Command and Conquer fan than I am, knew some friends from the local petting zoo or owners of a circus troupe? A way more reasonable prediction is that Tiberius did record the vocals in his bathroom... or closet... or kitchen cabinet lined with tin foil... and then drenched them with reverb over and over again. While this style of vocals is most easily distinguished in opening track "Three Commands to the Offal," all three of these rather short tracks are layered with these horrifying attempts at vocalizations. During closing track, "Blaspheme the Tetragrammaton," - a track whose title irks me being a fan of those late 1968 and early 1970's singles from the label of the same name - a pop filter or windscreen could have been used to remove some of the "blowing" sounds muffling his vocals.

Oddly, this ungodly oral style fits the d-beat nature of the mostly primitive music. "Three Commands to the Offal" has roughly two riffs. "Choking Phantasm," which, without any lyric sheet, I will sadistically imagine is about having intensively rough sex with Casper the ghost, is also simplistic in its format with two riffs. While not as simple as Von or Hell Rot with their two note riffs, the general blackened style of Sermon of Foulness doesn't seem to match the abrasiveness of the vocals. Closing track, "Blaspheme the Tetragrammaton" breaks the two riff mold incorporating upwards of four(!) riffs. The majority of this song is based around a reoccurring riff of an almost rock and roll vibe... with screaming rhinoceros vocals of course. While the d-beat gives all three tracks a rockin' and rollin' personality, this last track also combines the most atmospheric section leading me to believe that Tiberius has more up his sleeve than simple rhythms and atrocious vocals.

When the guitars aren't caked in projectile vomit animal calls, they carry a melancholy brooding tone as if saddened to be involved in the band. Thick with a fuzzy rawness, the lumbering style of the guitar rhythms fall inline with the d-beat drum work on "Choking Phantasm" and "Three Commands..." while closing track "Blaspheme the Tetragrammaton" manages to distort the guitars even more, leaving them in more fuzz, almost relying on the lively bass playing to carry the song's dance-like main parts. The subtle, raw tone does help the atmospheric section of the song carry and it would work even better if it transitioned better into and out of its preceding and succeeding parts. The moodiness would also work better if Tiberius' drumming was more forceful and less laid back during this momentary jostle with what some would call a more orthodox black metal tradition. If the idea to use a laid back, subterfuged drum style there was purposeful, then it works well. I, however, tend to like the duality of more forceful drumming during moody moments. The speak of what could be communicated as weak drumming sadly applies throughout most of the promo and isn't a prisoner to this one section.

"Choking Phantasm" has the strongest drum presence of the cd and is also the release's most worthwhile track. Its strength is in it's simplicity and emotive instrumentation. The song's opening is also the strongest, most urgent on the three rituals enacted. Vocally, this song has the least imposing, least overwhelmingly retarded vocalizations of the three songs. Across the disc, Tiberius habitually covers up what may be, in his opinion, substandard with his vocals which, in my opinion, are the weakest part of the promo. "Choking Phantasm's" quick fire attack on the senses builds and crests at the end of the song and leaves the listener feeling like they actually heard something that might not have wasted their time. Still, if I could listen to this song three times or Dunkelheit (Burzum) once, I would choose the latter. The song is good compared to the rest of the CD's material but compared to any other black metal classic, it falls helplessly aside, left to wish it was big and strong too.

Sermon of Foulness has, in all probability, unintentionally created a mixture of punkish d-beat fun with simplistic black metal aesthetic and a bit of comedic relief. Sermon of Foulness's promo is like Von meets Missbrukarna meets an African stampede through the halls of the lizard exhibit at your city zoo. While the music is interesting to listen through two or three times, don't feel as if you missed anything unless "humans that sound like elephants humping gorillas" is a genre of music you just can't get enough of. As only a CDr with little artwork of any sort, completists will be happy, however, with the tiny amount of space that this takes up on the shelf. The price to pay, though, is that you'll have to make your own spine label. I used an index card and some tape. It won't protect me from the disc's Jumanji-eqsue rumblings (or Robin William's incredibly hairy body)... ...but at least I'll be able to find the damn thing on my shelf when friends come over and the conversation turns to discussing "absolutely ridiculous vocalists" or "once when I was at the zoo..."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mindland - Final Frontier

When the best moments of your newly released metal album are all the non-metal parts, time has come to reconsider your style. Mindland's Final Frontier album is the final frontier in how not to execute an album - I apologize for such a cheap pun but I take opportunities when they present themselves. The album suffers from a frontal assault of boring and cliche melodies and rhythms while at the same time being flanked by terrible tone. Oh, and the general can't sing. When the leader can't soar, the whole nation falls into disarray. Also available here is some of the worst artwork I've ever seen. I understand that good artwork can be expensive but to adorn your demo with a creation from an amateur Bryce - 3D graphic designer is humorous due to the effort it takes to use the 3D modeling program itself. The attempt to create futuristic cities is a good idea if you're Iron Savior and can afford to have someone talented like Chris Foss paint them but Mindland don't have such resources and we instead are left with what looks like a homosexual mountain surrounded by a spit bubble. With a background stolen from one of the random encounter battles in PS1 RPG Legend of Dragoon, we are staring directly into the face of artistic failure... failure that may one day be the reason that distant creatures from another galaxy decide to eradicate our race.

Mindland play a style of metal somewhere between Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, perhaps leaning more towards Iron Maiden. Opening track "Chamber of Light" actually sounds like it could be an aborted Maiden demo track except the guitar playing is not nearly good enough to match that of the London legends. The style is there though; complicated little lead riffs over chugging melody, in this case provided by a fuzzy guitar tone more appropriate for an alternative band playing a high school talent show than a metal band releasing an album. The guitars seriously sound like a hairy dog. The last two tracks are similar to the opening, Maiden inspired romp. "Burning Silence" tries to include a sense of epic middle eastern flavor with the use of synth horns and a decidedly Arabic melody. Last track, "Final Frontier" is a slower, ballad-like piece with more synthesizer work. The culmination of the EP actually creates a sense of melody and sadness instead on nothing but failure. This is mainly due to the mixture of acoustic classical guitar playing and subtle keyboard effects. This is also George Orlanidis' only good vocal performance on the whole release. His showing of, most likely acted, emotion helps to make the track an interesting listen.

The second, third and fourth track combine to create the Follow The Sun trilogy. While "Part I: Rise of the Sun" starts out favorably with a great acoustic intro (guitarists Dennis Augoustatos and Panayotis Tsolakoglou are excellent acoustic guitar players), once the "metal" kicks in the song is ruined by an attempt at Manowar grandioseness that not even Manowar would be able to pull off. George's vocals are weak, emotionless and empty. "Rise" is way too long of a song to be able to support the faulty composition and mostly just struggles on for what seams like eons. Bursts of group vocals are placed throughout but just sound like a buss full of school kids yelling at each other instead of instigating any aggression. The song breaks apart at the end awkwardly into the best part of the song, the ending, which is based around an acoustic guitar melody and a lead which sadly is played with the shitty hairy dog distortion.

"Part II: Fall of the Sun" starts off much like "Part I" with an acoustic guitar, this time accompanied by a piano. It sounds nice until the moment of horror comes. I dub it 2:41 and basically destroys the rest of the song. The weak gang vocals over silence is one of the saddest sounding moments I have ever heard in music. I mean, when you can tell there is only three people yelling the words, intimidation of any sort is obliterated in favor of a comedic foil. Forgetting that the phrase yelled, "Anger and revenge fill their souls," is questionable itself, this is just a terrible moment in music. Its abominable presence is compounded by the "Fear of the Dark"-ish chant afterward interspersed with excellent harmonized leads. Some great moments ruined by the vocals. The best moment of the entire three songs is destroyed by a gang chorus. and then, terrible group chanting. Just when the song is beginning to pick up, the chorus hits again. "Part III: Spirit Beyond Centuries" is a weak traditional metal laced thrasher that should never have been written.

The album really suffers from terrible production. The whole thing sounds like a garage band but the inclusion of synthesized sounds torments me with the thought that it should have been a much better produced affair. George's singing is a major detractor throughout the album. Though not the sole destructive force, it is the most noticeable one. The vocals, gang vocals and group chants ruin almost every song they are in. Still, moments of this release are surprisingly charming and make it difficult to completely hate what Mindland is attempting to do with their music. I've got no beef with John Litinakis' bass playing. It is strong throughout the release, complimenting and following in drummer Nick Anastasiadis' reserved playing style. The final track, "Final Frontier," is... bearable.. at the worst and decent at best. Their attempt at creating epic traditional heavy metal is applauded but the results are not.