Thursday, 18 December 2014

Teh Best Free Shit Ov 2014: Top Ten

Fancy something new to listen to during the interminable hours as the relatives congregate for the annual un-hallowing of ancient pagan tradition? Maybe you've spent every penny on warmed up wine with fruit in it? Well here are ten choice demos, EPs and even full albums that are among the pick of the crop for 2014, and best of all can be downloaded entirely for free. I happen to know solid releases that can be held with your hands are available for most of these, and if not there's probably merch at least, so if you like them enough physical ownership can be arranged via the Bandcamps, Facebooks and so on of the artists in question.

In no particular order after the jump break:

Ningen Isu: Utsushi wa Yume ~ Nijuu Shuunen Kinen Best Album (2014) Compilation Review/ 人間椅子 - 現世は夢 ~25周年記念ベストアルバム~ - 批評

Utsushi wa Yume is Ningen Isu's fourth compilation, and the second that stretches over two full discs - two albums worth of bluesy, proggy heavy metal drawn from throughout their discography. There's stuff from their debut EP (making this a good piece for those who can't locate the original) right through to 'Namahage' from their MV earlier in 2014. The first disc jumps around their discography a lot and could be considered more career-spanning. The second is a straight run-up from the crushing closing track of 2007's Manatsu Yoru No Yume to tracks from their latest full-length and, most excitingly of all, four new songs recorded specially for this release (meaning Nobu Nakajima's drumming features throughout the entire disc, which I think is appropriate as he has become essential to the band's heavy sound). Those last four are the songs I'm reviewing below.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Centinex: Redeeming Filth (2014) Album Review

Despite my great enthusiasm for Swedish death metal, and things that sound like it, Centinex passed me by year after year. Even despite their being hailed as a pretty solid early contributor to the grisly and groovy sound of d-beats thrashed out alongside great throbbing riffs that low like the devil's own Satanic herd. Still, they have members of the great Demonical (whose set I caught part of this year and who are heavy as hell live) and of the solid Interment, whose stuff I also have around somewhere. Par for the course stomach-turning gore lyrics combine with churning and booming riffs that will bring that acid right up into the larynx on their latest full-length.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Ningen Isu: Mirai Romanha (2009) Album Review/ 人間椅子 - 未来浪漫派 - 批評

Following on from Manatsu Yoru No Yume, Mirai Romanha is an album from Ningen Isu's consistent decade with drummer Nobu Nakajima, in which they have released many of their best albums. Hoochie Koo presented the band sounding ponderously heavy much like more crushing cuts from their early works, and the albums that follow have stayed the course while tightening every screw and still leaving plenty of space for imaginative leads.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Ningen Isu: Kaijin Nijuu Mensou (2000) Album Review/ 人間椅子 - 怪人二十面相 - 批評

In their huge and utterly magnificent discography, despite their frankly staggering consistency, there are still a few albums that stand out as Ningen Isu's clear highlights and career triumphs. Six months into the current century Shinji and Kenichi, with incumbent drummer Mr. Masuhiro Goto, released undoubtedly one of their finest ever works, and what has become my favourite by them. Kaijin Nijuu Mensou takes its name from a recurring character in the work of Ranpo Edogawara, the Japanese author from whom the band also derives its name, and realises the tales and characters visited throughout the album in a truly delicious design on the cover.

Nightbringer: Ego Dominuus Tuus (2014) Album Review

Nightbringer are a band whose works I never tire of hearing. Although I have a fixation with their sophomore Apocalypse Sun's almost single-minded repetition and soul-swallowing atmosphere, their recent splits have hinted at even greater things to come, and with their fourth record they have made the thing they will be remembered for. Ego Dominuus Tuus sounds like a million angry desert gods taken human form. The wasted expanse of ancient empty seas and the tearing asunder of entire planes of existence. Pure raw and chaotic black metal of a soul-scouring nature.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Ignis Haereticum: Luciferian Gnosis (2014) Album Review

The poisonous tendrils of occultist orthodox black metal are seeping into every corner of the globe, or at least making their presence felt after years of unrecognized toil as with these Colombians. Ignis Haereticum share a country with their label Goathorned Productions, which has not only handled releases for Setherial, VI and Horncrowned, but helped Blackmoon with the final release of Infernal. The label's ability to recognize excellent bands remains unsullied with Ignis Haereticum's first full album, a record that possesses a torturous atmosphere and adept instrumentation despite its lack of originality.

Laster: De Verste Verte is Hier (2014) Album Review

There was a hint of potential on Laster's demo Wijsgeer & Narreman, but I recall being more interested in finding more aggressive black metal recordings at the time I heard it. However totally I went on to forget about this band, the immaculate cover art presented for their debut full-length demands at least checking out; and it is remarkably how far Laster have come in terms of perfecting the black arts of misery they ply (on revisiting their free-to-download demo two years later, the path was clearly laid before them, but this is a real stride forward).

Monday, 17 November 2014

Vallenfyre: Splinters (2014) Album Review

A Fragile King was one of the best death metal records out there in 2011; magnificently good riffs and terrifying vocals, I just couldn't fault that record and I span it obsessively for months on end. Still return to it at a moment's notice. So yet another disappointment from a death metal band this year with Splinters, which is Vallenfyre's sophomore slump. This is a great-sounding album by some veteran talents who, for whatever reason, have lost the ability to write songs.

Mare Cognitum: Phobos Monolith (2014) Album Review

One of the things I like about Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse (the name of which I always have to double check... possibly as it was one I got into at a time of regularly getting baked and my memory has never recovered itself on the topic?) is the truly vast atmosphere it has. It is such a visual album. You can see ice-bearing conifers, but through them you can see concatenations of cosmic entities, arrayed just beyond those leaves as if far closer to the earth than they usually are. Sorcery and stars. Mare Cognitum are more into the extraterrestrial atmosphere, but their core sound is rooted in Emperor, as well as Dawn's Slaughtersun. And they do achieve some of that Emperial evocation.