Saturday, June 12, 2010

Welter In Thy Blood – Through the Fields of Mourning (Shadowgraph Records)

With so many atmospheric and raw/lo-fi black metal acts over saturating the genre and leading to the predictable complaints against it, there still are a few like Welter In Thy Blood that dare to progress beyond limitations and still manage to be clearly in the style. Don’t expect the typical Xasthur/Leviathan/Dodsferd/Burzum regurgitations here, this stuff is in a universe of it’s own creation. I’m a fan of the dismal and grim atmospheres of the previous acts mentioned, hugely in fact, but with so many bands imitating those forerunners it makes it almost impossible to remember the first intense experiences that captivating some of us to begin with. Just because it’s marketed as misanthropic and bleak, or better yet “cult”, doesn’t mean anything really except that it’s a coin flip as to what you’re really getting. Most times it’s some screech owl poser Satanist in a basement or woodshed venting as his nuts are being bitten off by a squirrel.

So what makes Welter in Thy Blood better than the others, or at least a stand out? Well…several things come to mind when listening to this release actually: in places the drums are actually in front of the entire mix giving it an unusually “live” feel not to mention a certain 3-D sound almost; the layering of thunderstorm sounds, what could be field recordings, and some ambient electronic hum throughout tracks that range anywhere from 4 minutes all the way to 30 minutes make it as much a dark ambient release as a soundtrack to a foggy night in a graveyard; some classically abysmal black metal that reminds me of something recorded in a cave or a live setting, but the mastering and production is not lo-fi, so the result is actually that of being there in the room as the tracks are being laid out!!!!!!

The upped production quality takes the raw and frosted sound and makes it clear, crisp, and actually hollow, it echoes as if it’s leaking out from deep within some chasm and never loses any of the grim feeling. If anything the production here makes the haunting looming feeling of pure isolation intensified and the guitar sound goes from buzzing distorted standard fare to being this morbid funereal doom-like entity.

Welter in Thy Blood is a project that’s taking ambient black metal to the next dimension of disparity. The vocals sound almost as if they are literally being frozen as they are done, they have this slow motion freeze-frame effect and definitely sound like something was buried alive and is self-resurrecting to seek revenge. There is always a very ominous feel in the sound, like a soundtrack to the waking of the ungratefully dead on a late autumn evening. Yet again an act dares to wade through unchartered waters fusing Power electronic/dark ambient/industrial with the truly haunting sounds of black metal/death/grind and doom to create a cataclysmic experience of the darkside within us all. The imagery and narratives concocted in these releases are unrivaled in terms of content, substance, ingenuity, and pure terror inducing. Grab these releases up quickly, take a couple of sedatives of your choice and embark on the thriller of a lifetime. You’ll possibly wet yourself at some point so save yourself the embarrassment and lay on something non-absorbant. If Hitchcock did audio it’d sound like some of this stuff, true suicidal urges…

Essential for fans of: Gnaw Their Tongues, A Taste For Decay, Yen Pox, Navicon Torture Technologies, Nortt, Xasthur, Portal, Indigo Larvae, Megaptera, and everything remotely related to those mentioned.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pro-Death – The Aesthetic Somber of Death (1999- 2005) (Black Goat Records)

Pro-Death is the misanthropic bastard child of dark ambient/power electronics and classic raw/gore death metal that I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of, well one that captures the best of both without compromising the original intended sound. If that isn’t enough to make you squirm a bit and your eyes bug out, the sounds on this album would certainly succeed in doing so with it’s horror/psychotic ambience and terror inducing sound effects. This band has been a long time hidden treasure on the underground circuit, toured with some of the best and brutal, and donate proceeds from merchandise sales to organizations trying to stop animal cruelty. Ironically the sounds these guys create are in themselves a major rib splitter of murderous death metal/grind riffs and inhuman deep growls.

These guys invoke the exact imagery and cruelty in their tracks as they hope to help avoid in the real world. The drum patterns are almost industrial, sort of executioner rhythms, amidst samples of environmental debates and violent clips, and that continual deep-end growl that sounds like the some necrotic hallucination of insane ramblings of the shadowy figure holding a surgical blade over your naked body while you are undergoing a live autopsy without any anesthesia. Complete with laughter and pure hysteria, Pro-Death definitely takes creating a genuinely sadistic and atrocious atmosphere with some of the most skilled and tightly engineered extreme death/grind metal that I have ever heard to the normally unreachable height of perfection. This stuff will scare you out of your skin, assuming that they haven’t skinned you alive already with the razor blade barrage of percussion and guitar shreds.

Seriously… terrifying, carnage filled, blood spilling, decapitating, pulverizing, haunting, thrilling, murderous, treacherous illusions and fantasies abound. This stuff is really intense, so unless you are sure that you can handle this level of brutality and impenetrable atmospherics you will not make it through alive. This album is an absolute must to be heard, it’s as brutal and fucked up as anyone could ever ask for, myself included.

The mixture of dark ambient/industrial elements with classic grind-death metal has never been this strong, so if you’re worried that it’ll be atmospheric and wimpy ethereal stuff, then get your pathetic ass ready to be impaled upon first listen. This is pure terror inducing bludgeoning grind/death, everything on this album will KILL!!!! I have to shut up now or else I’ll ramble on forever about how fucking amazing this stuff is.

Essential for fans of: Steel Hook Prostheses,, Navicon Torture Technologies, Welter in Thy Blood, Gnaw Their Tongues, The Slaughtered Lamb, Pathology, Cattle Decapitation, Skinless, Mortician, Carcass, and any deadly combination of these.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wan - Wolves of the North (Abyss Records 2010)

The spirit of Bathory lives on!!!! The possibly mythological Christ, yet ordained wonderman was only resurrected ONCE, but the “unholy” and unrefined Nordic sounds of the black and malevolent soldiers of aggressive black/thrash terror are continually being brought back from the grave by bands like this one that chose to remain loyal to that sound. Amazing how it’s the one considered to be true evil that gets the most respect and loyalty, and no I don’t mean Christ either.

Is it a tired and abused sound…? Yes…depending on the context (i.e. band/artist).

But are there any good bands that keep that blue blood frozen in the veins of pure and untampered with metal?

Hell Yes!!!!!!! This Swedish trio of blood drenched, axe wielding barbarians (you should see the photos on the inside cover) is one who defends the territory once dominated by Quorthon, early Immortal, early Darkthrone, Celtic Frost, and Hellhammer. I really can’t write a tome on this album because it’s exactly this: simple, annihilating, raw, barbaric, melodic Nordic black metal/thrash ala 1985-1994. If you need more explanation than that, you are looking in the wrong music section.

This is good and solid stuff that breaks no boundaries that haven’t been already, but will gladly break someone’s neck instead. If you want some really great Scandi sounds but already own the classics, then pick this one up to add to it. You’d swear that it was a lost release. I love it myself, and I’m generally picky, so if it gets my snotty seal of approval, it at least stomps and shreds. AAHHHH…Comfort food for metal heads!!!!

I also highly recommend other classic sounding Nordic/ influenced black metal bands: Immolith (US), Black Crucifixion (FIN), Church Bizarre, Denouncement Pyre, Funeral Goat, Graveland…you get the idea: “Chilling and really hollow sounding like an echo through an ice crevasse, with thrashy riffs that rip and tear to some riotous rhythm.”

Batillus/Hallowed Butchery - Split 12" (Vendetta Records)

Batillus: a band comprised of members of bands such as A Storm of Light and Inswarm and takes extreme doom to the extreme. Described by many as an ultra slow doom outfit, and this being my first experience with their sound, I have to say that they honestly seem to be a lot more diverse in styles than they are given. Listening to the “Children of the Night Make Their Music” track, they remind me more of bands like Flood and Cervix, Beast in the Field, maybe Elder in spots as well, but the name-dropping isn’t the important part here. The three installments by Batillus are epic and psychedelic doom inspired tracks, they have megaton weighted riffs, an almost Isis/Minsk atmosphere in areas that is equal parts dense and melodic, and a great variation of tempos. At some points it’s an all out free-for-all jam fest of boogie grooves and heavy psyche components, then it’s this calm black ocean that begins to stir from a massive storm building up beneath the ominous surface that becomes the gargantuan riffs of gloom and doom that strike down upon the listener without any warning.

To me it’s mixing the brilliance of bands like Isis/Minsk and throw in some doom and cataclysmic disparity of Evoken/Esoteric, then add a huge amount of classic doom rhythms and you get somewhere in the vicinity of what is here. It’s one of those bands that you want to label and fit nicely into a comparison because that’s what sells albums, but it’s unfair at times because the spectrum is so damn broad with bands this good. I will now be a confirmed Batillus fan, and probably play their tunes as much as I do the other bands mentioned. With talent like this you get that sense of flow throughout, the unpredictable yet perfectly placed changes within each track, and the atmosphere with a small sense of bluesy and psyche sparks that makes it addicting as much as successful. Regardless of the who or what, the strength of this release is monolithic and it’s definitely one for established fans and new discoverers of this band.

Hallowed Butchery: a solo prog-doom project masterfully pulled off by Ryan Scott Fairfield makes up the last portion of this split with his ambitious and brilliant “Coffin Life”. For some insider information about this track, which is essential to understand it, I’ll digress for a few sentences. This is a conceptual piece about a man born and raised in rural Maine who basically commits suicide to escape his horrid monotonous life and be reunited with his dead wife. Things don’t work out the way they should and he realizes that nothing lies on the other side, including his late wife and the realization that his life and hers are now reduced to simply laying in adjacent coffins, ironically living a now “everlasting” existence without her and back to uneventful and standard daily goings on.

This track is as complicated to describe as fluorescent colors would be to a blind-man, as it is with many things so much easier to experience then to get it second hand. The track starts out in a compressed almost Neurosis style slow and funereal sludge/doom riff assault complete with great bluesy riffs and solo bits thrown in that scream 70’s doom groove. Honestly for the first 2 minutes it’s a bit more like the Batillus sound, then suddenly it starts to run a marathon through quicksand as it gradually slows to a hault before plunging into the Esoteric/Evoken abyss of funereal black doom for about three minutes.

At the 5 minute mark the acoustic guitar begins an almost folksy passage and suddenly you have a beautiful and tragic song about his body weakening and slipping away into obscurity complete with lyrics describing his death. You almost feel your own mortality begin to fade out as the song switches into a Wolves in The Throne Room like black shoe-gaze metal riff tornado complete with the vocal style and all.

Around the 10-11 minute mark the track suddenly goes to a proggy doom feel and then comes to a grandiose end. The classic moog-like synth and effects really bring out the kraut and spacey feel of his afterlife realization. What a fucking ride!!!! Everything that you could ever want in a band, all of the best influences and sounds whipped up into this 14 minute hurricane of audio. It’s damn near impossible to accept that it’s ALL Ryan doing this too. The vocal styles change, the guitars, bass, drum, and synth work is flawless and it’s mixed so well that you’d swear that it was a full band.

This split is one of the best albums that I’ve heard in a while, and I’ve heard many, and missed some as well. Essential for fans of: Minsk, Isis, Mouth of the Architect, Neurosis, Wolves in the Throne Room, Evoken, Esoteric, Hellas Mounds, Rosetta, Nachtmystium (from Instinct Decay onward). A colossal and sophisticated dark and psychedelic/black/doom influenced masterpiece…yes, it’s a masterpiece.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Deliria - Children of The Darkness (self-release 2009)

I have to start this out by stating first and foremost that, “I’m a massive Italian doom fan “: Paul Chain, Abysmal Grief, Death SS, Black Hole, The Black, Zess, THC Witchfield, Arpia, etc. So here’s the low-down on this underground Italian Psychedelic/Prog Doom project and this EP. These guys have been going for a decade now, released 4 EP’s including this one, and did flawless covers of some Black Sabbath tracks that honestly immaculate. This is the true doom sound right here, it’s just as psychedelic and 70’s blues doom and metal as it is prog doom, and it’s only two guys!!!!!!! Francesco Gallo on lead and vocals alongside Ivan Ritrovato on Keyboards.

Okay, it’s only two guys and no drummer, but here’s the catch… you couldn’t even tell unless you were closely looking for it and even then I’d dare to call your bluff. This band sounds soooooo much like a Black Widow Records release, Italian doom and horror metal classic that to not think Paul Chain would not only show insufferable ignorance but should result in your being cast out of existence, or worse yet you’ll be cast into listening to rap, pop country, and teeny bopper shit. I challenge anyone out there into doom and psyche to not dig into this bands sound like vultures on an anorexic teenager, you won’t be able to escape the gravity pull on tracks like “13 Witches”.

As with anything in this style of doom, expect to be sucked into this black abyss of ghostly hymns, cosmic guitar solos that encompass you into a world of black occult psychedelia, and classic warm analog riffs. This stuff is lava lamp and occult acid trip doom, in a vault secretly hidden in the catacombs of the ancient burial grounds beneath the modern city. It really gets close in sound to Paul Chain’s: “Sign from Space” and “Park of Reason”.
I always buy promos and self-releases from underground bands like Arpia and several others of this style, so don’t pass this up because it’s not a fancy copy. That’s bullshit, if the talent is this damn good you should be begging and scrounging for change to pick this up. This is as mystic and eerie in parts as it is doom and all around completely FUCKING awesome.

Essential for fans of anything mentioned so far: Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Dark Quarterer, Black Widow, Lucifers Friend, you get the idea. Check out the link to hear the audio, most of the info on their website/s is in Italian, but all you need is the music and to send them a message and they’ll gladly get back to you, they found me to start with so they can communicate effectively.

Sorgeldom - Inner Receivings

Extreme frost ALERT!!!! Essential tragedy and atmospherics for fans of: Alcest, Ebonillumini, Ameseours, Celestia, Finnr’s Cane, Wolves in the Throne Room, Autumns Grey Solace, Blood of the Black Owl, Dormant, and Lifelover.

When I heard about this album it was marketed as Black Thrash mixed with Shoe-gaze, which turned my attention toward it out of curiosity, but it’s completely different than one would expect given that description and the result is an astoundingly beautiful one. I want to say that it’s a perfect blend of all of the above-mentioned bands, which it is, but that’s not very fair so I’ll try to think of a way to do it so bear with me. I really wouldn’t call it shoe-gaze either, it’s spacey and dreamy like a lucid daydream on a rainy afternoon in spring that suddenly takes a tragic turn. The clean vocals are elegant and sound almost as if they are haunting you from behind the music that resembles Alcest/Lifelover passages of soft guitar that become intertwined with the characteristic atmospheric buzzing of black metal guitar tones and effects somewhere along the musical path.

The tracks very from almost bleak and forlorn arpeggiated folk melodies to a stripped down black metal fuzz with some classic blistering tempos appearing in spots without losing any of the original emotional depth. You can feel as if you are completely alone and wandering on foot through a dense European wilderness with only your thoughts to keep you company and your breath to remind you that you are still alive. You will hear so many similarities to other groups that we all love in this band, but it’s this style that never seems to wane and manages to be that refreshing chill that you get when you take your first breath of a cold and biting winter wind.

This is as much for the: neo-pagan, neo-folk, martial, Cold Spring, Ahnstern, Sturmklang, Tesco, Old Europa cafĂ©, War Office Propaganda listeners as it is for the lovers of black and atmospheric metal. This stuff bends stereotypes and stale sounds and imagery, pumps them full of new blood, never runs from sophistication and demands strength and perfection. It’s also colder than a witch’s tit, so the saying goes. Cold, tragic, and barren, a story of loneliness and the internal hauntings of ones own trials and tribulations.

Angrepp - Warfare (Abyss Records 2010)

When approaching this release be prepare for a wrecking ball of old-school crust and death/black thrash savagery. This Swedish group is pure toxic thrash and very much at home with fans of acts like: Hellhammer, Darkthrone, Venom, High on Fire, Skeletonwitch, Scorched Earth, Ravens Creed, Lair of the Minotaur, and label mates MAAX. Another perfect hybrid of fireball riffs ala Kreator and early and golden thrash, a metallic punk FU vice, amphetamine powered rhythm battery, and total pillaging insanity. A definite classic aggressive metal influenced and well-rounded sounding band, this stuff tears everything up with roots and all. As addictive as it is ugly and melodic, this is yet another filthy beast that I can’t seem to get enough of.

Many of you are probably thinking: It’s just a black thrash type of project so it’s nothing new right?
Yes, possibly, …but it does it so damn well and so “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, or better yet, “if it kicks ass then don’t fuck with it”. I personally can never get enough good rhythm, maybe I’m biased as a bass player, but that is one big selling point for me and I solely guarantee that if you have any sort of interest in any of the mentioned bands you will be sold on Angrepp. Split your ears with this one nice and loud, it reminds us all of the days when Metal was fun and furious. This is a long anticipated release from the underground so sink your teeth in you filthy rocking rodents!!!!