Friday, April 27, 2012

Black Chalice - Submission (CTP - 005 - I)

Doom-laden death metal with heavy atmosphere and mournful melodies. This third release is the peak of Black Chalice's continuing progression into an ever more unique style which will surely be adored by anyone into the off-shades of both Doom metal and Death Metal. Inevitably, due to it's creator's involvement in other projects such as Auspicium, elements of black metal make themselves shown momentarily but this is primarily the affair of other styles.

CTP - 005 - I (QTY = 50 Copies) Sold Out
CTP - 005 - II (QTY = 105 Copies) AVAILABLE $6.00


12/01/2013 Aristocrazia Webzine

Black Chalice, a young one man band led by Patrick A. Hasson, comes to us from Portland, Maine. The creativity of the multi-instrumentalist is in constant turmoil, as proven by the three demos and the full-lenght that have been released in the two years since the foundation of the band. This review deals with the latest demo, "Submission", originally self-released in digital form only. Later, Contaminated Tones Productions has also released a first edition in tape — limited to fifty copies and now sold out — and a reissue — again in tape — limited to one hundred and five copies and containing a previously unreleased track.

The opener — "Deluge" — is a four minutes long intro made up of caressing and beautiful clean melodies, a small appetizer that sets the stage for the entrance of "Regret" and "Cornea". The sound recreates oppressive and melancholic images of desolation, that stand between desperate atmospheres and layers of guitars, mainly inspired to the Death/Doom from the early nineties. A mushy and cavernous growl serves as a counterpoint for the funereal and distressing melodies, expressing all the existential despair that flows inside Black Chalice. The feelings conveyed are dark, contrite and filled with a neverending "mal de vivre".
"Submission" and "Wain" (the unreleased song), on the other hand, contain mostly delicate and graceful movements, also enhanced by the touching and evocative Hasson's clean vocals. We may see short glimmers of light, but there's no hope at all in Black Chalice's universe: these soft rays of light are in fact overwhelmed by a gloomy blanket that swamps us completely, a blanket made of slow, heavy and sprawling Doom litanies.
The fantastic weaves laid out with the excellent guitar work should be mentioned; the guitars manage to produce a very balanced mix of both melancolic melodies and very rough riffs. The structure of the songs is not particularly varied, but they possess a strong empathic ability, and the tormented visions they evoke will definitely leave their mark on you.
"Submission" is a genuine, vibrant, black and disillusioned work: a release that can surely arouse interest among the fans of Death-Doom. Welcome to Black Chalice's dark world!

09/11/2013 From The Dust Returned

I'm often at a loss as to what constitutes a demo recording or an 'official' album, especially in the metal underground, where the latter can often prove just as important or substantial as the former. In the case of the Submission demo by Black Chalice, it probably has something to do with the studio process and the original intentions for the material. This is actually a considerably longer work than the Obsidian album I covered, and recorded the year before. Strangely enough, it offers some of the added variation I felt could have strengthened that work, but at the same time it's a little less consistent overall, and there were a few points at which I felt myself nodding out. I guess this better deserves the brand of 'death/doom' than Obsidian, because the growls here reign supreme, and it definitely possesses a more mournful, crushing, funeral pall, but texturally I also felt it a little dryer, less saturated with the imagination of that album.

Submission opens with a four-minute instrumental constructed from clean, sad, scintillating guitars that eventually builds into a union of chords and single picked melodies, and then beyond that comes the really heavy stuff. There's still a combination of drudging, filthy chords and melodies, but the former feel a little more gratingly tuned, and the latter seem slightly less tethered to the bottom line. The drums are really underwhelming here, faint beats that barely support the huge, ugly riffs canvased above them, though they pick up steam in the bridge of "Regret" when they start hammering away. The guttural vocals take on a maudlin, almost monotonous drift as they would in many recordings of this field, and they don't really distinguish themselves as being particularly weighted or brutal. "Submission" itself features more clean guitars, and some of the submissive, clean vocals that are commonplace on Obsidian, but it also has a pretty weak transition and then picks up into what is basically an admixture of driving, older Katatonia-style guitars. I found "Cornea" more to my liking, though the rhythm guitar distortion seems to clip a little and nearly bust out of its own recording.

The last track, "Wain" seems to come from a separate recording session and has a more repressed quality about it. Melodic vocals, groovier riffs and a bass-heavy, Sabbath like substance to some of the riffing in the bridge. Perhaps an attempt to make inroads to a more antiquated style of doom metal, but it does seem a little out of place with the rest of the material, and sloppily constructed so that the riffs don't exactly flow into one another in a meaningful way. That said, I actually did enjoy the project of Patrick using his clean vocal style over this more psychedelic riffing aesthetic, I only wish he were louder. Lyric-wise, Submission was quite good as the other Black Chalice material, especially the song "Regret" where I really enjoyed the closing line: When will we be sorry? We will be sorry. Still very personal and deep, wrist-cutting and depressing, but perhaps a bit more image-laden. Ultimately, I think this was a work borne of experimental intentions more so than Obsidian, but some of the songs drudge on a little much without many ideas of note, and "Wain" just didn't fit for me. Not without a few moments, but I simply felt more rewarded by the experience of Obsidian.

01/17/2012 Sorrow Eternal Blog

A small unknown band from the U.S. has recently released a new album for the new year. The band goes by the name Black Chalice and their album is called “Submission.“ It contains four lengthy tracks and has a raw recording sound. The quality takes away from music as it‘s clear that they weren‘t purposely going for the low quality recording. As far as the genre goes, the band is clearly going for that progressive doom type of sound however they kind of go about it the wrong way. Certain parts of each song are a little too repetitive and don’t really change up too often.

The album opens with the song “Deluge” which is a four and a half minute intro that contains multiple guitars with gorgeous strings of melodies that flow together perfectly. You don’t really hear the first few riffs until about a minute in as they fade in as slow as possible. More and more layers of soothing guitars enter little by little as they give off an ambient sound. As the guitars continue to build, after hitting their peak, they quickly drop as you meet the next track. “Regret” comes in with basic drum patterns in a slow moving tempo as a calm guitar riff takes over on top. This melody kind of drags out as nothing changes until about two minutes into the song. This is when relentless guitars come roaring in with fast chugging riffs and loud snares snapping in the background. You will also run into a demon of a growl as the vocals finally reveal themselves. Large heaving lyrics rumble under the guitars shaking you violently. After the verse is done, the guitars go on a rampage of more reckless chugging as double bass pedals start to pick up the tempo. This is where you’ll want to start bobbing your head. The only issue with this track is that some of the guitar riffs are a little too repetitive. The song is over eight minutes long and half of it carries the same couple of chords over and over again. This might make some listeners want to skip on to the next track. Perhaps a little more creativity in this song structure would do the trick.

The third track on the album, “Cornea,” starts out with static guitar riffs that give off a strong depressive vibe. This repeats for about a minute and a half. Unfortunately, that’s over a minute too long. Finally the drums enter with a slow tempo as chords continue to be slammed in the background. The vocals fade in with deep demonic growls delivered with aggression. The starts to pick up speed about five minutes in as the guitar chugging becomes constant and the drums rolls start to explode. But right as the song starts to progress you start to realize again that they are just gonna continue to play this same riff over and over again. The drum pattern may occasionally change but that’s about it. The song has got so much potential as you’ll find tons of energy in the last few minutes. The only issue is that nothing changes. The melody, the instruments, and the tempo all kind of just stay the same.

The final track, “In Submission,” is an 11 minute track that starts out with a soothing guitar melody that has the same issue of being played way too many times in a row with absolutely no change what so ever. The one interesting thing about this track is that the vocals change up as you hear a soft clear voice enter with depressive lyrics. It’s nice to hear something a little different than the other tracks. Unfortunately this is the only difference. About half way through the song enters a specific guitar riff in which they decide to play for the rest of the song. Feel free to turn off the album because at this point the riff that you’re hearing just plays all the way through. So save yourself some time and move on to another album.

“Submission” has got a lot of ups and downs throughout each track. There are times you can really start to get into it and want to bob your head to the beat, however there are other times where you just want to skip to the next track because of how bored you’ve become with the same repetitive riff. The eight and ten minute long songs would be a lot better if they were trimmed down by four or five minute. Besides the opening track, the rest of the album turns into a let down with its constant repeats of basic guitar riffs. Black Chalice definitely needs to add some creativity to their music if that want to separate themselves from other bands.

02/09/2012 Desolation - Infinite Blog

Hailing from the northeastern part of the United States, this one man doom/death hybrid metal band has been getting the attention of underground fans in the genre.  Black Chalice, hailing from Maine, started out as a raw death metal band, look for Prayers of Our Lord and Saviors, and then progressed their sound into a more doom/death sound as they went through the album Years of Flame.  Now in 2012, with the new album Submission, Black Chalice continues to impress with musical talent and wondrous compositions into the doom realm at even a greater height than before.

Submission embraces us with four alluring doom/death tracks.  First thing I have to mention is the raw production. I read other little reviews of the band floating around and some discredited them because of the raw production over shadowing the instruments, I laughed. In fact, I believe that the raw production adds even more atmosphere to the music, well at least on this album and the previous. Now, first comes Deluge which is a nice clean guitar and ambient instrumental luring us in on what we are about to hear. It's not until the second track, Regret, where the productions comes into play along with nice doomy riffs and mid paced tempos. One of the things that will capture you on this album in general are the upmost guitar melodics found throughout.  While Regret can get a bit repetitive maybe to some because of its length, the melodics just suck you in a void of lunacy. 

Next comes in the more funeral-esque track, Cornea.  Again exemplifying mournful riffs, this track carries the ears on a path full of sorrow and death while indulging your thoughts in a murky cloud of bleak emotions.  While the track might start at a slow constant, it does speed up as it carries on, especially as it grows towards the end where melodics once again somber in with the music.  Finally the last track, the title track, Submission, fades in with melancholic clean guitar strums and gloomy clean vocals.  I really wasn't expecting that but it surely was nice change from all the distortion taken in.  After that, a solo bass strum takes control on what is about to be awaken. The Beast of Doom.  Traditional, signature doomy riffs take toll which pretty much carry the song to its finale. It gets even better as the sound is blessed with an array of beautiful atmosphere to accompany it on its way out.  Wow, lots of head banging there.  

Certainly after listening to Submission, it makes me want to go back to my doom days.  I use to be an avid fan of the genre for a while but I just lost touch somewhere as bands were getting too stagnant. Black Chalice has reminded me while I loved the genre so much. All in all, Submission delivers for the fans of the underground extreme metal genre. While a bit repetitive at times as I stated before, the melodics during that period make up for it.  If you like doom/death metal with nice melodics or looking to recapture some of the finer moments in the doom genre, then this album is for you.      

Both Submission and the previous album, Years of Flame, are available for free download at the Black Chalice page.  Go check them out and spread the word!

02/20/2012 Grave Dig Blog

Black Chalice has been one of the talking points in the underground scene since the latest offering Submission surfaced where there is a transition in the sound from raw death metal demo Prayers For Our Lord and Savior through more doom/death approach in Years Of Flame. While still not shredding the roughness fully where Submission stands out on its own is that the songs burden more emotions stabbing into doom territory. There are more melodious sections accompanied by harmonic notes but not straying a bit from creating mournful atmosphere. The evolution was inevitable as the man behind Black Chalice, Patrick Hasson from Maine, has passion for both doom and death and the influence just found its way into the music. When I asked him about the inspirations behind Submission, he quoted, "Submission is as it says, a story about submitting. All the different meanings and inflections that can be used with it, whether it be positive or negative. The songs all represent an aspect of it." 

06/18/2012 Metal Archives - Rotting_Christ_Mike

Taking advantage of the physical release of this demo, I gave Black Chalice a shot; I can safely say that I am not disappointed. What we have have here is quality material from a promising project.

The music here does not move exclusively at slow paces to bring forward the feeling of doom, but also makes use of beautiful melodies to achieve a sad and mournful atmosphere. The guitars play the lead role here, and that is good news because in songs like 'Regret' the repetitive and sorrowful guitar melodies are what make the whole thing worthwhile. The drumming is what you'd expect it to be, following the guitar playing when it comes to the speed variations. The sound is thick and muddy, so I can't comment on the bass since I can't hear it, but I can tell you that this does not affect the music; the absence of the bass does not affect the listening experience and you won't miss it. The vocals are somewhat buried underneath everything sometimes, especially at the more guitar-driven pieces like the aforementioned 'Regret' while in slower ones like 'Cornea' they come to the forefront slightly above the guitar. The vocals themselves are a deep growl which sounds a bit raspy at moments and is exactly what is needed in the music. I find that the vocals are definitely not the main focus of the music though, and they are just accompanying it because my ears are mainly focused on the excellently executed melodies but during the slower parts when the vocals are more prominent they become more noticeable.

This is a well-balanced release, combining both slow death/doom and faster melodic passages which still retain the depressive feeling of the whole release. The changes are not abrupt so everything will sound natural to your ears and won't confuse you like abrupt changes tend to do. The music is very good and the melodies are actually memorable with 'Regret' being stuck into my head for days. There is enough variation to keep you interested, but when nothing changes the music does not become boring but rather feels droning and sucks you in its repetitiveness. My favorite aspects of the demo are the guitar playing and the way in which the music as a whole actually achieves the purpose of
atmospheric death/doom and really creates an atmosphere rather than bore you to death. This band is deserving of their atmospheric tag. The muddy sound results in a crushing force.

Having not listened to the previous demos of the band, I can say that the 30 or so minutes of music contained in this release were enough to grab me and I will be following the project's future plans. It certainly sounds interesting and I can't wait to see what the future will bring. Give this a listen!

07/01/2012 Metal Archives - Zodijackyl

Haunting clean guitars introduce Black Chalice over four minutes where atmosphere builds, inevitably leading to lo-fi doom where a dark atmosphere looms over the plodding march of the rhythm guitars. A contrast is built between distant, ethereal leads and dominant rhythms that sound like they are rising from a cave. A drum machine punches away in the background, a distant rhythm below the cavernous sound of the guitars. The rhythm guitars sound massive, with the lead/melodies cutting through when they appear, but the vocals staying low and the drums being nearly doomed from audibility.

The elements at work here seem to be a reversal of a lot of doom these days - while doom metal bands of this day often rely heavily on a great tone and weak riffs, Black Chalice is the other way around - good songwriting and good riffs, but weak production that leaves something to be desired. The desire is strong, because the music sounds great through much of the demo. The sound is suitable for the first half, but five minutes into the third song, there is an exceptional movement where a melodic guitar lead takes control of the music, and while it's a great part, I know that this section could sound so much better if it did not sound like it was recorded in an underwater cave. I really like the music and the production doesn't detract from it most of the time, but the pinnacle of half an hour of exceptional music feels buried, rather than pronounced and displayed in its best form. It's a demo, and I would love to hear the same music captured more effectively, with the great amps and recording that so many doom bands couldn't use as well as Black Chalice could.

The songwriting is simple, but very effective. Without looking at the clock, I wouldn't know that an exceptional section repeated for well over two minutes, but it is a testament to the strength of the songwriting that one riff could be repeated for that long and when it ended, I only wanted to hear it again. The third and fourth tracks both do this, where a very simple rhythm plods along while a simple melody intertwines with it on another guitar. In other music, a melody can often lead a song over a very short timespan, but rarely can a song be led by a part like this, long enough that it tops the duration of some songs.

Simple riffs and arrangements emphasize a crushing sound and excellent doom metal atmosphere. The songwriting is efficient - every riff is worth it - never a dull moment, only a few moments where the riffs deserve massive production that I can't really expect from a demo, though the sound is as strong as many pro releases with similar styles. It's a good listen and the only downside of the demo is that it's good enough that it shows more potential than a demo could capture. Check this out and watch the band in the future.

12/07/2012 - Goul's Crypt Blog

Black Chalice. The name reeks of dying, depression and burdening, imposing matters. Black Chalice is the name belonging to an American one-man black/death/doom metal band, a band that I have been acquainted with for some time now.

With Submission Black Chalice are trying out a new approach with the album intro "Deluge", which features something very atypical for the band. Normally it's straight on and forward with chaotic, gritty guitars groaning under the stress of the player's hand, but Deluge is all about flowing acoustic guitars, thusly building an atmosphere not nearly as raw as on the prior demo material of Black Chalice. While the sound of Black Chalice hasn't changed much Hasson's approach to songwriting has changed a lot since the beginning back in 2011. On Submission he favours more melodic riffs and dredging speeds rather than the fast, unvaried drum-powered tremolo-riffs on the early demos. A change that I for one am happy to hear as it provides the music with a whole new level of detail to peak the listener's interest.

In context with the acoustic intro the last song on the demo, Submission, also starts out with simple acoustic playing that puts you into a false sense of comfort until it slowly fades into the raw guitar-dominated soundscape that I've come to link with Black Chalice. A thing that especially struck me on Submission is the accustomed use of layers that wasn't present on the earlier material. This is evident in all the tracks but in my eyes works best on the track Regret where weeping guitars provide a nice contrast to the groaning and coarse string-play of Patrick Hasson. Another thing that makes Submission stand out compared to Hasson's earlier releases is that the drums and rhythm section in general have been severely downplayed; Where monotonous drumming dominated the early demos, drowning out most of the other parts of the music, on this demo it's much easier to hear the details in Black Chalice's music.

The music of Black Chalice could always be best described as "discordant" and "rough around the edges", and while the previous releases also seemed rather unrefined the same things go for Submission. But Hasson has found a more suiting focus for the band which makes the album a much more interesting and welcome experience than Years of Flame and Prayers for Our Lord and Saviour. Though all the releases are very organic in their sound and composition Submission is by far the least mechanical-sounding, and even though Hasson's chosen style of black- and death-infused doom metal mostly focusses on depressive themes and desolate soundscapes he has still found room for epic compositions and gloriously melodic parts. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Walk Through Fire - Furthest From Heaven

Walk Through Fire is a murky specimen. Their second album, Further From Heaven, has a propensity for Isis and Neurosis style buildups with Earth style patience. I would wager that fans of sound combinations and guitar tones would enjoy the atypical clanginess of Walk Through Fire's approach to the sludge and doom style histrionics of their contemporaries. From a totally unbiased standpoint, I would claim that Walk Through Fire learn and grow across the album admirably though do little to solve the problem that I find so fundamental in most of this general style; a lack of climactic dynamic. There is only so far you can take a fourteen minute track - or, due to the similarity of the first songs on this album, a twenty five minute track - before you begin to wonder if the song had reached it's height and is starting to die down or if it has yet to climb that final hurdle and manhandle your ears. That single important factor is what betrays most bands similar to Walk Through Fire. I'm patient, but apparently not sluggish enough for this one.

Still, there are some interesting moments on Walk Through Fire's Furthest From Heaven that are worth discussing. As mentioned, the band tackles the issues of tonal depth well, with a clear yet viscous tone that produces contrasting tones that are interesting to reflect on while you wait for the meandering structures to move along. The problem of variety is compounded with passionate though predictable vocals with the characteristic rasp of angry middle aged men with too much time and not enough compositional acumen. Both guitarist Ufuk Demir and bassist Andreas Olsson offer ingredients to the vocal oatmeal on this platter but without looking in the booklet there is a good chance you wouldn't be able to tell. With two vocalists, there is an opportunity for more depth and variety than is presented.

Though both opening tracks, "Furthest from Heaven," a song about there being no heaven (truly original subject matter, I know... ), and second track "Through Me They Bleed," a vague song about being a martyr or something, it isn't until the final two tracks that the album produces worthy listening. "The Dying Sun" is basically an intro for "The Dead Sun." It's ambient, eerie and subtle. It does more for the album's flow and pacing than anything that happened in the first two tracks and while it's best to view the track as it relates to it's successor, to mention it as itself is important as well. It moves through a slow dirge and fades away triumphantly into the most memorable track on the release, "The Dead Sun." It follows a long, drawn out chord progression into the abyss. The progression lasts about two full minutes to make a single rotation before reverting back into the buildup which opened the track and it works well in this case due to the strength of the chord progression. Though the drumming during the progression sounds a bit tired and lacking, it almost works with the song somehow. The song breaks apart halfway in, revealing a length section of noisy clean guitar strumming - a nice dichotomy for the track which remained mostly loud and distorted throughout. It cleanses the auditory palette.

Ending with a reprise of "The Dying Sun's" ambient style, the song makes a strong cycle around leaving one fulfilled that the album wasn't a total bust. I really felt that Walk Through Fire shined when they focused more on the melodies and less on the sludgy, heavy aspect of their sound. They don't do enough to compel the listener with heaviness. Overall, this really is only worth checking out for fans of the post-rock, sludge, droney style of things. Anyone else will probably find Walk Through Fire incredibly boring. For myself, I have a hard time listening to half the album because of it's redundancy. At least the final track and it's satellite were somewhat gratifying.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Okketaehm - Stones (CTP 003 - I)

The second album from this reclusive act is sure to appeal to anyone with even a cursory interest in black metal. Thick, suffocating, and concealing subliminal uneasiness, "Stones" rewards the listener with feelings of uncertainty, awkwardness and fear. Preoccupied only by it's own mission and it's own patience, there is a vastness and scope few bands attempt and succeed in meeting. Somewhere between everything, there is a comfort that one can only find upon the realization that we are all, ultimately, consumed.

CTP - 003 - I (QTY = 75 Copies) SOLD OUT


12/13/2012 - Goul's Crypt

I was on my way out the door one early winter morning in freezing Denmark. I got in the car to go to work on the hitherto coldest and snowiest morning this year, and like so many times before I was going over my CDs to find a couple to bring on the trip. I was going to go with some Entombed and Darkthrone, feeling like listening to some old school stuff, but then I found Okketaehm's promo "Stones" from Contaminated Tones Productions and thought I might aswell give a listen on the way to work. Though the total play-time of Stones is a mere 18 minutes of grey, wintry, space-like ambience and raw black metal the demo never left the car's CD player even though the trip is almost 40 minutes each way.

It was early, the climate was frosty and the road to work was long. Having only ingested some toast and a cup of luke-warm coffee I wasn't much in the mood for anything as I began my journey through the soundscapes of Okketaehm. The music that met me through the speakers was well befitting of the desolate roads. Stones consists of various parts of icy black metal, dark ambience and something that borderlines white noise mixed into one long track of 18 minutes, and all these parts in conjunction with masterful production lead my mind to things like the vast emptiness of space, void-like depression and mist-veiled frostscapes. Characteristics I normally attribue to bands like Darkspace, Ash Borer and Paysage d'Hiver. I admit I at this point wasn't much focused on my driving.

Let's not kid ourselves, ofcourse Okketaehm isn't perfect or innovating, but it sure as hell did make my drive to- and from work a lot more enjoyable. Okketaehm provides incredibly accurate atmospheres, and while you at times wonder wether the music is still on or someone is just vacuumcleaning in a nearby room it simply adds to the enormous impact the half-melodic black metal pieces of Stones presents.

07/18/2012 - Aristocrazia Webzine 

Inutile girarci intorno, la "cascadian scene" oggi la fa da padrona nel black metal d'oltreoceano (e spesso non solo). Eppure, al di là della moda, al di là dell'esposizione mediatica temporanea, è innegabile il fascino che questa è in grado di esercitare. Gli spazi, i colori, le inquietudini che questo stile è riuscito ad aggiungere al black metal ne hanno reso lo stampo atmosferico perfettamente riconoscibile tra i tanti.

Ora, il progetto statunitense Okketaehm non si sa da dove arrivi: potrebbero suonare da uno scantinato a Phoenix, nel mezzo del deserto, per quanto ne sa il resto del mondo, ma ciò che scorre attraverso le note di questo lavoro monotraccia è un'interessantissima esplorazione delle coste lambite ormai da diversi anni da formazioni come Velnias, Skagos, Ash Borer e innumerevoli altri. Ciascuna di queste band è riuscita o sta riuscendo a interpretare a proprio modo il canone dettato inizialmente dagli ormai immancabili Agalloch e Wolves In The Throne Room, e la band americana non fa eccezione - sempre che ci sia più di una persona alle spalle di questo monicker, dalla fascetta dell'audiocassetta non è dato comprendere altro che l'immagine di copertina, un insieme di lapidi, ed una sgranata foto interna raffigurante quello che sembra il rudere di un edificio in mezzo ad un bosco -.

Ed ecco che il riffing atmosferico è soltanto una delle facce di "Stones": questo piccolo tape unisce sapientemente violenza a spettralità, incarnata nello specifico da ampi e dilatati riverberi che lasciano correre l'immaginazione e le sensazioni dell'ascoltatore, guidato da una fioca distorsione, un feedback solitario, all'interno del quale può scorgere tutto e il contrario di tutto. Una nota ci segue, per poi lasciare di nuovo spazio al fruscio, ma questo può essere acqua che scorre, da dove provenga e dove porti non è dato saperlo, o rumori spettrali dall'angolo buio appena adocchiato. Adesso una chitarra trascina verso luoghi più congeniali al drone, poi, di nuovo la violenza, la velocità, di nuovo il black metal. E così via, si susseguono le alternanze, fino alla fine di questa ottima prova, che fa dell'evocazione e della riflessione i propri punti di forza.

Decisamente non adatto per chi cerca adrenalina ed emozioni forti, estremamente indicato per chi predilige un ascolto più posato ed intimo.

06/28/2012 - Metal Core Webzine

Wow was this some pretty damn good raw as fuckin hell black metal. This band can create a mood and just sink you in with feeling and emotion. The riffs, the style of music, the way it is played and the vocals all play a part in this. This isn’t just saw fly by night black metal band screaming about satan and all that. Sure this is fast and raw, but to me black metal is a lot about feeling and emotion and this had both. This easily comes from the pits of hell.

06/06/2012  - Metal Archives - Zodijackyl

Okketaehm produce a very rough style of black metal that, despite its outward roughness, shows a very high level of refinement. The atmosphere seems to be tuned finely, fitting the music and creating a vibe that creates the whole sound that the music needs to thrive. The riffing has a bit of a medieval flair to it, reminiscent of certain second wave black metal, especially early Satyricon. It is executed as well as many of those legendary bands.

The arrangement of the whole demo is an interesting choice - one track, just over 18 minutes, moving quite seemlessly between black metal and ambient, noisy interludes that keep the same atmosphere as the guitar-oriented parts. There are clearly quite a few sections, as it changes between styles several times, but it is all assembled into one very coherent and inseparable piece, and it feels like a very complete piece, flowing from start to finish. Part of the strength of the music is the cohesiveness which holds all of it together, something that seems difficult yet essential in this style. Simplicity is often key, but the nuances of putting the parts together into a whole embodies the art.

The piece opens with a majestic melody, comparable to a medieval trumpet anthem, the guitars offering the shrill feeling of a chorus of high pitched trumpets, and the triumphant tune and timing complete it. The huge, medieval sound lasts through the first riff, reminiscent of Satyricon's "Dark Medieval Times" - the atmosphere and the riffing remind me of this throughout. Soon, the piece moves into an ambient section, and there will be several more interludes. They carry some melody and feel very welcome in the lengthy arrangement.

The atmosphere completes the piece. Both the black metal/guitar parts and the ambient/noisy parts are unified by slightly foggy production - it obscures some of the minute details while emphasizing the shape of the whole. There is a mystical feel to it, a mix of Satyricon's DMT and Sacramentum's "Far Beyond the Sun". This lends itself nicely to emphasizing the neo-medieval vibe that is present from the start. While not being an "atmospheric black metal" band as that style is generally known, the atmosphere completes the composition and sound nicely. It takes away a bit of the unpleasant edge that often makes raw black metal nearly unlistenable and turns it into a very pleasant sound.

This is a really good demo and one of the few things of this quality to come from a US black metal band in recent years. The underproduction is beautifully done, the composition is strong, and it comes together nicely. Listen to this and keep an eye on the band in the future. 

10/10/2012 - Destructive Music

Now onto their sophomore demo release, OKKETAEHM from the US of A are backing up their debut demo “Maggots” with their 2012 opus “Stones”. Now having searched around I found very limited information on this Raw Black Metal band, even it’s members and exact location, so their underground status, even kvlt status, seems to be high!

Something else that will keep this USBM band in good stead with the Underground community is living up to their title of Raw Black Metal! They certainly do just that, with furious high energy blasts of Black Metal shot directly at your heart, this bands cold icy demeanor is only slowed to inject more venom filled noise and static into the mix.  As an air raid siren sounds out through the cold dense fog, Okketaehm ready themselves, preparing for the onslaught that is inevitable!

The noise, the suspense, the tension… it carries on and on into the black! Onwards it goes, descending further into the murky depths, deep into the abyss! Through misty production and tremendous Raw Black Metal ambiance, Okketaehm dwell!

Hatred and hostility, vitriolic moods, pure and unabated blackness of the heart and of the soul! Then as if a switch has been flicked the brutal assault and barrage begins once more and reigns supreme with dominant fury! “Stones” is one song, eighteen minutes of anger and malice and is the epitome of Raw Black Metal! 

11/27/2012 - Orthodox Black Metal 

Although I searched a lot, I found very few information on the internet about Okketaehm which come from the U.S.A. and apart from the demo “Stones” of 2012 that I recently received, the band has released one more demo in 2010. This album contains only one track of eighteen minutes. The band wants to create the atmosphere and to set up the scenery combining harsh, Scandinavian Black Metal with ambient mainly, as also with noise influences.

The album begins with an awesome riff, majestic, epic and at the same time dark and imposing, creating the impression that we deal with a very interesting release. Unfortunately exactly after fifty seconds of repetition of the mentioned above riff, an eight minutes ambient part begins so that they continue with a six minutes Black Metal part after the ninth minute of the track. So you understand that the album is more ambient than Black Metal. Apart from that, in the Black Metal track, there are one or two interesting riffs that they are repeated and become tedious, while the structure of the truck makes it completely monotonous and boring. Concerning the ambient part of the album, I can’t judge if it is good for the genre as I don’t like ambient and my knowledge and experience concerning that is very limited.

The guitars are distorted and raw, they don't have any mistakes but also they don't have anything special. The bass can't be heard almost at all, while the drums are those trying to save somehow the album with some interesting lines. The vocals are raw Black Metal vocals, quite expressive and interesting. The production is very dirty, as an approach is correct as it absolutely fits to the bands style but its materialization isn't good as noise is created which makes the listen more difficult. The mix has maintained the characteristics of a rehearsal, something that fits to the sound, with the only mistake to be the bass' abcence. The lyrics are written in English but they are not contained in the promo that i received.

Generally the ambient elements Black Metal isn't something that i like, i just tolerate them, when the album is good. In the case of Okketaehm, the ambient outreaches the permitted borders of that kind of elements inside a composition and it becomes the composition itself. On the other hand, the Black Metal parts are monotonous and boring. So ”Stones” belongs in the category of those albums that he who listened to it, will never ασχοληθεί with the band again. As you understand by everything mentioned above, don't even bother listen to this one.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Astrum - Tales of Witchlore

I was asked to do this review about four months ago and never was able to figure out what to say about Astrum's "Tales of Witchlore." I get what Astrum is trying to do. Simple, straightforward metal with hints of punk. In one sense, they have accomplished this. The short, spastic songs have the simplicity of the early hardcore punk stuff and the chugging, more metallic riffing and soloing harnessed from the power of metal. The songs move like three-chord-punk in a back and forth, to and fro, heave - ho motion which could be a fun thing to experiment with and something you don't hear a whole lot of in the metal genre what with everyone pre-occupied with being evil, growing hair long, or guitaring faster than Yngwie Malmsteen playing renditions of Bach's inventions in a human centrifuge. I appreciate the attempt, but in the case of Astrum, it doesn't work as well as intended. In fact, it doesn't work at all and sounds like a sloppy bored mess of a band.

It's really just a straight-forward how-to-exercise in compositional and rhythmic variety gone terribly awry. Eleven songs, in just under twenty-nine minutes all sounding a like, with little variation, a whole lot of monotony and exuding about as much energy and excitement as watching your neighbor lay out on his back porch trying to get a tan - for clarification, your fat bearded geriatric neighbor, not your scantily clad super-model neighbor - on an overcast day. Additionally, every harmonized riff sounds not only out of key, but also out of tune. This isn't on one song... it's on every song in at least a shirtful of places. It's the kind of harmony that if I encountered it live, I would wonder if I had hit a wrong note. After playing the riff twice, I would be dead certain someone wasn't tuned or didn't know the proper harmony or something. It sounds as sour as rubbing your tongue on your neighbors sweaty body while he lays out on his back porch trying to get a tan on an overcast day... See what I did there? That's this whole album in a nutshell, the same joke over and over.

While song titles like Triumph of the Black, or Blood and Sand, or especially Spectrum of Death conjure up images of grand bestial armies, swollen half cauterized wounds and the facade of death painted upon the lifeless bodies of fallen combatants, other song titles form memories of Sesame Street trying to portray evil; Wizard King, Helllegion, or Queen of Hell. Additionally, two songs seem like, contextually, they have absolutely no place on the album. Those two songs, Master of Rock and Rock Your World, being like the exclamation marks on an album confused by it's own character. It's almost as if instead of the album simply being "bad," it's now "bad!!."

I also forgot to mention the solos on the album. Never before have I heard worse leads. The worst lead I've ever heard has to be the solo in Triumph of the Black. It's so bad I can't even come up with a serious analogy for it. I know, it's not a big deal to claim something is the worst or best or most this or that, that you've ever heard. Everyone does it all the time; loose lipped accusations of no real value. This album has the worst solos of all time.

On a more positive note, I found the best song on the album to be the last track, Grey. Tossed on a completely different album with a different set of tracks which didn't wear me down four or five songs in, it would be an awesome addition. It's a slower, doomier track, with a more hard-nosed, rough-necked burliness which the other tracks lacked. I can imagine a bunch of toughguys pushing each other around in a pit and stomping like Gorons dancing to this... then the solo comes in with 30 seconds left to the track and wham, song ruined. I just don't know how the band let these solos stay on the album. At least one or two of the members had to think they sounded awful.