Sunday, 26 October 2014

Dhwesha: Sthoopa (2014) Album Review

Hindi and sanskrit lyrics, Kali mythology and all things Indian-influenced are super trendy in black and death metal right now, with bands from the Czech Republic to New Zealand seemingly deciding that, although Abrahamic religions are terrible, Kali is super cool. This all apparently stems from the beliefs of people like John Nodtveit, and Anti-Cosmic teachings that are often conflated with straight-up worship of ancient deities. As usual there will be people that interpret it in the most simplistic way possible because this stuff is aesthetically awesome, hence the current explosion of Hindu-referencing designs in black and death metal bands that have no ideological or geographical relation to such traditions. However you also have Orator from Bangladesh and Genocide Shrines from Sri Lanka who, along with Dhwesha from Bangalore come from a South Asian cultural tradition. On the latter's excellent debut album, that shows in their music despite them making no overt effort to exploit it.

Beyond Mortal Dreams: Lamia (2014) EP Review

Karl Pilkington once reckoned that there are a lot of intimidating insects, snakes and other creatures in Australia because the Earth is basically a big rock, and such creepy-crawlies like hiding under rocks. Pilkington's fevered theories would certainly go some way to explaining the absurd number of suffocatingly dense and rabidly ferocious death metal acts in that part of the world, which seem to have multiplied even over the last decade as more and more Aussie hordes garner international recognition. Beyond Mortal Dreams have seemingly existed in some form since 1992 however, perhaps mostly in name only much like Entrails, and are now summoning a few releases to make their mark.

Venereal Dawn Tour: Berlin, October 23rd, 2014 Review

23rd October 2014, Magnet Club, Berlin, 'schland.

Dark Fortress + Secrets of the Moon, Schammasch.

On stage Schammasch are as immaculately presented as their stunning Metastazis-graced new album packages and merchandise. Chris S.R. had his face painted in black with gold lines and looked more convincing than any costumed villain Ben Kingsley has played. The band was heavy, pulling off their lengthy and intricate songs with aplomb, and played with vast self-assurance. The sound was great for all the bands, with the exception of any guitar leads which seemed to get a bit lost in the rumble of the rhythm section, so some of the bewitching lead work from Contradiction's best songs was diminished. 'Split My Tongue' in particular made for a striking performance. Drummer Boris A.W. was particularly impressive, the array of different tempos and styles demanded by Contradiction executed very capably and powerfully on stage. Not your usual amateurish or generic opening act; Schammasch had proven themselves once with their sophomore this year and again in my eyes with their live form.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Inconcessus Lux Lucis: Crux Lupus Corona (2014) EP Review

Inconcessus Lux Lucis come out of absolutely nowhere, bursting through the UK's oversupply of wet, somewhat folky half-children of black metal with a satisfyingly sickening crunch that manifests as this magnificently presented EP Crux Lupus Corona. I assumed that this was Swedish when I first heard it but no, this is a rocking, thunderous and dark spell cast in Manchester and it is fucking spectacular.

Tongues: Thelésis Ignis (2014) EP Review

Atmosphere is a big deal to me; I was pretty sold on this from the wondrous cover artwork somehow recalling the gates of the dead in Tolkien, to the menacing gongs that begin opening track 'Void Meditation'. And although the languid wash of guitars and feedback that eventually erupt doesn't quite fulfill that promise of dark and miraculous black/ death foulness I thought was coming, Thelésis Ignis is over thirty minutes of pretty promising work from these Danes. Basically it starts slow - not just in pace but in how engaging it is - but at least builds to moments of froth-flecked rabid excellence.

Lest Ye Be Judged MMXIV.003: Obtruncation, Morthra & The King is Blind

This week I judge the works that deal death. Or in the case of the last, try to.

Obtruncation: Abode of the Departed Souls (2014) Album Review

From the searing Morbid Angel-inspired riffs of 'Abode of the Departed Souls', Dutch nutters Obtruncation present a vastly more convincing example of death metal than most of what you can find this year. These guys have been going since 1989, which sort of shows in their very confident playing. This is up there under the new Dead Congregation and Incantation records. The pounding rhythms and cunningly performed, monolithically crushing drums are not to be denied. The band's sound is brutal, like Bloodbath's The Fathomless Mastery in that it is a recent disc presenting the fury of Deicide and the bone-breaking weight of Immolation with a bit of a grind-influenced tempo or structure here and there. Just faster! Loads of blasts, really deep and gory vocals, nothing fancy or overly technical; if you feel the need for a truly punishing death metal purchase this year that isn't related to OSDM or jazz-tech-fusion, make it an Obtruncation purchase.

Score: 82%. (two more reviews below the jump break)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Shine A Black Light MMXIV.003: Nuklear Frost

"We play violent, wrenching, skull-fucking, gut-churning music that is not for humans with a heart condition."

The third to be summoned from the scaled bestiary is misanthropic American band Nuklear Frost. This is easily one of the best replies I've had to an interview. Their thoughts on their music, on black metal in general, and the state of things in 2014 are as unchecked, vital and brutal as the music they play. These aren't the sort of people to talk about metal brotherhoods or supporting your local scene, thank fuck. These hateful cunts really speak my language, and gave me a large number of passages I had to re-read just to confirm how thoroughly I agree with what they are saying, or at least to appreciate the full gravitas of their veteran take on a genre rotten from saturation and mediocrity. Read and then bleed from your eyes.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Arkona/ Illness: Arkona/ Illness (2014) Split Review

Arkona, not to be confused with the Russian band of the same name, is another long-running Polish black metal act kicking about with a legacy much respected by those in the know. They are also another band that it seems I should pay more attention to, for the single track they commit to their new split with Illness is any indication (and a quick look around on YouTube says it is). Numbering the mighty Infernal War's Triumphator among them they ply a sound that effectively marries ravenous punishment and choice atmosphere.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Stench: Venture (2014) Album Review

The so-called metal underground, or at least the half dozen web based magazines and several message boards that comprise its online avatar, is currently nothing if not receptive to a repeat of the forays into experimentation death metal undertook in the '90s. New textures are being woven into familiar sounds and structures with often rapt reception. The retro craze is evolving into a renewed lust for fresh approaches. Tellingly the upcoming prog death record by Horrendous is more hotly anticipated than any of the retro-wave releases by Dark Descent this year, while listeners and press have been all but carrying Tribulation on their shoulders after the admittedly very good Formulas of Death last year. Into this return Stench with their sophomore, on which they have worked for four years.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Lest Ye Be Judged MMXIV.002: Ordinance, Sangus & Infernal Awakening

Another three black metal bands line their promos up in front of the Heavy Metal Saloon firing squad.

Ordinance: Relinquishment (2014) Album Review

Ordinance is a band from Finland associated with Baptism and Alghazanth, plying a sound far darker and more evocative of the country's deep forests and lonely lakes. Those lakes you could go missing near. Despite sprawling across two discs the album clocks a pretty neat 60 minutes moving from mournful leads and windswept trudging sections to driving quests through trilling raw tremolo and pounding rhythms. I do enjoy the scattered, bone-hollow sound of the bass that provides such a sepulchral voice counter to the elegant if thin guitars playing. The drums are also well done, nothing fancy and usually just keeping time, but during the well-handled slow sections and the tight blasts the former drummer of Slugathor, Impudicus, more than does his job. 'Yielding Servitude', a highlight, even manages to hit some emotional highs with the excellent choice of melodies playing off against meaner sounding riffs and a few punky beats. In fact the riffs of 'Perigrination Unto the Inevitable' are almost hymnal, in fact they are very beautiful and the vocals here are magnificent too.