Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dahakara - Lone Aeon

Dahakara is an experimental black metal band from Turkey. Or something like that, I'm still not quite sure. Electronic beats and bloops, sounds that look like they came from the nebula on the cover, MIDI guitars; they all converge to create something that, while not great enough to love, is so blatantly off the wall that it actually enhances the listening experience. The songs aren't long at all, but while that keeps things from getting stale too quickly, it also prevents most of the songs from realizing themselves fully.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Among the Rotting Trees - The Cold, Misty Morning

My word, what a terrifyingly bad album cover. The logo, the title text, the photo itself. Ick. Fortunately, this Polish instrumental black metal project composes better music than their album artwork design talents. AtRT plays atmospheric black metal of the long and rather repetitive variety, without vocals. While not being a derivative of the Burzum school of hypnotic black metal, this does suck you in via its repetitive passages and well thought out melodic composition. The only real issue I have is some of the riff transitions can jar you out of your listening trance rather harshly, if that's what they were going for I don't know. Also the production on the drum programming could be a little better, but to be honest with atmospheric bm I would just rather it be there and decently mixed, and not to sound like it did on the original mix of "Dawnland" (that might be my one terrible, wish I could fucking correct that shit back in time, mistake). All in all, if you like the style, give it a shot.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Basalte - Vestige

French Canada, I love and hate you so much. You have given us such wonderful things like Montreal, with its numerous bars (of both the standard and titty variety). We also must give thanks for that sloppy heart attack known as poutine. However, you are also responsible for the worst tourists I have ever encountered, including the actual French. Waves of classe-moyenne blanche Québécois clog the streets of Southern Maine, driving like a retarded southerners trying to traverse London in a giant SUV, looking for tacky shirts that state the place they visited in neon, and abusing sales people when they can't understand rapid-fire French (and these salespeople can barely converse in English for the most part, cut 'em a little slack). Despite you exporting the worst portion of your population for their vacations (which is basically the same thing America has done to the rest of the world), I still love you, French Canada. You have given me slutty young women on vacation with their obtuse parents, you have given me Malveillance, you have given me Metal Noir Québécois, and now you give me Basalte.

Basalte don't really fit alongside the rest of the Metal Noir Québécois scene. Yes, all the lyrics are in French and they seem to have a decent amount of pride in their culture. Musically they are along the Atmospheric black metal tip, but with loads of progressive undertones throughout. What sounds like improv jazzy runs come to life in the middle of powerful tremolo picked riffs, but manage to do so in completely natural ways, never sounding like it was thrown on as an afterthought or to just be in there. The composition and performance is solid and unwavering. My only gripe is the sound of the guitars. It seems that they are lacking the extra gain needed to cut in black metal. However this gripe is not even that big of a deal to me, I have done the same thing with some of my recordings and love some bands who use low wattage tube amps to play black metal. It just feels that this recording could use that extra "oomph".

I think this is a great first release overall, and one definitely worth picking up. And these dudes can come visit me in Maine any time, first Timmys on me, but leave the speedos at home.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Numenorean - Demo 2014

New day, new band. Numenorean comes out of the gate from Calgary, Canada. On this first demo, they unleash well composed and executed atmospheric black metal of the more woodsy variety. Agalloch would be a really good template to base their sound on. Just add hints of Falls of Rauros and Alda, and you are basically there. The one fault I'd find with this release is that it's way too good to just be a demo, it sets up expectations, ones that I really hope they can exceed with their coming full length. Highly recommended if you are into the sound.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mutter - Trashed Body

Within two days I have received two EPs that, while each of them not being totally or wholly black metal, are definitely going on my year end list. Most Holy Death's "Forsake Your Blood" and this, Mutter's follow-up to the already best of the year "Grief Songs". This is not "Grief Songs: Pt 2" thought. Benjamin Roney-Yeager continues to craft a completely inorganic take on industrial black metal, one that here finds itself snaking through soundscapes of noise, ambient, and triphop. What seems like random beeps and bloops are deftly pieced together to help assemble the whole sonic picture. This is adventurous music to say the least. Don't go into it with a static mindset.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Most Holy Death - Forsake Your Blood

It's 3:55 AM and the battery backup that makes sure my server stays on all the time is dying, emitting a chirp every second and a half. My teeth are set on edge, this is the sound of my life ticking away, slowly driving me insane. Of course, it'd probably not be such a quick trip to madness if I wasn't listening to Most Holy Death's follow up to Death Knell. Forsake Your Blood continues with the seething, malignant take on droning, blackened doom/post rock, heartbreaking and claustrophobic and crushing in equal measure. The noise component comes more into play with this recording, helping to create a more desolate and stark sonic landscape. The chirp behind me is fading with the crescendo of the music. Or maybe I've finally reached my destination. If so, what a fine time to get there, listening to this EP.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Aires/Rui P. Andrade/Earthly Beasts - Split

Not Black metal, but related and still fucking good. This three way fuckfest is all Portuguese all the time. Much like the delicious bread I get from the bakery a block away from my house. Would this music be good with marmalade and eggs. Probably. However, it is more similar in its harsh, noisy crust, rather adept in concealing the sweet wheatflesh inside. The Aires track would be most like this, the main bulk of the song is harsh phasing, but beneath it and finally pushing to the front at the end of the movement is a mournful, yet sweet, melody. Rui P. Andrade puts out what is basically a very good and long ambient interlude on a black metal album. Earthly Beasts rounds out this trio with dense soundscapes, and spacious beats, all with the intent to put the listener in a state of high tension. Free Download: http://enoughrecords.scene.org/#/release/enrmp357

Writhe - The Shrouded Grove

Writhe is a Atmospheric black/Post Black artist from Bedfordshire, UK. The first song starts out like Isa-era Enslaved, before settling back into a more familiar note, kinda Altar of Plauges-esque with hints of fellow countrymen Caina. Far from a carbon copy though. The songwriting is top notch, carrying at times a mournful, yet triumphant feel. A march to a war, to victory, but knowing the loss that will come and not ever forgetting. Definitely one of the better examples of the style, great production and exquisite composition. This will be on my playlist for a while.

Ambergris - S/T

Ambergris is a byproduct of sperm whale digestion, a rank, reeking hunk of whale bile that is used in the manufacture of some of the most iconic and/or expensive perfumes. What does this have to do with this (now basically defunct) 2-Piece from San Diego? Their filthy, repetitive riffing can be as oppressive as being locked into a room with their namesake with no ventilation. However their melodic lines can shine through like the sweetest notes of your lover's (or, in some of your cases, the lady of the night you forked over 200$ to)perfume. Quite an interesting blend of rawness and avant-garde black metal here, but one well worth your time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Grst - Plague Seed

How do you follow up an ep where you cover one of USBM's sacred relics and receive heaps of praise for it? You release an LP that cements the fact that you are one of the best and brightest acts in the USBM scene today. Grst manage to find that perfect balance between melody and aggression, atmosphere and production, and technicality versus letting the songs shine over the musicians. Josh, Nathanael, and Kenneth have really pushed themselves out here and it paid off. I'm not even asking you to buy it, I'm fucking telling you. There are only 100 copies and it's vinyl only so get the fuck on it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Phobonoid - Orbita

A black/doom/industrial band writing an album about the end of civilization on Mars as witnessed by Phobos (which is both the satellite and the God of Fear)? As offputting as that may sound to some (not me, that is what hooked me on this fucking beast before I even listened), give it a chance as this is one of the better submissions I have received, ever. This is well written as fuck, equal parts beautiful, claustrophobic, oppressive, and terrifying. The production is not typical in its unevenness, but goes beyond its primary purpose for the delivery of the music, essentially becoming an instrument, drawing you deep into a hypnotic trance before blasting into your skull, digging deep. All of the other instruments are performed adeptly and concise, wasting nothing on flourishes while delivering the intended result razor sharp and taut. Highly recommended, and buy the fucking CD/Tape too.

Nostalgique - Veil

First record of this one man act from Baltimore. Playing "Atmospheric depressive emotional black metal", it truly sounds much like you'd imagine. Muffled, uneven production, a guitar tone that somehow sounds too sharp and too dull at the same time, drums and vocals both overpowering and falling below the mix, and despite a pretty traditional black metal vocal attack, the dreaded DSBM sodomized birdcall vocals appear occasionally. And some of the melodies sound like Fear of Eternity played on a guitar instead of a "My First Casio". However, the rest of the songwriting is pretty spot on, some really good ideas being fleshed out. If you are a fan of the style go for it.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dunnock - The Rainy Season

Raw atmospheric and depressive black metal. Most of the parts on here were first take and/or improvised. Beside the logo, which looks like the female reproductive system with wings, this is actually pretty bearable. It's fucking noisy and uncomfortable, and the lyrics aren't as bad as most depressive acts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kitties of Death - Blue Flame

This is going to be a difficult one. In order to look at what Kitties of Death (and before I get into the review, for ill or good, I just want to state that "Kitties of Death" may be the stupidest name in the history of black metal, and up there for all of the metal genre) have produced with "Blue Flame", we need to define the main question in regards to my quandary: What is black metal, and what defines it? Nearly no one can agree on a set of criteria, seeing as the wide range of artists who are classified as black metal. What makes VON and Falls of Rauros belong to the same genre of music, beside the use of tremolo picking? Even the ethos and spirit of black metal varies from artist to artist. So what does this have to do with Kitties of Death? KoD describes themselves as Avant-Garde Black metal. As far as I can tell, the only thing relating this music to black metal is Jud Winter's vocals and a lackluster production. The music is avant-garde for sure, and they aren't lacking in talent, but the "metal" in the music is less Sigh and more "Reinkhaoss" era Dissection style melodic death metal, with added galloping drums and breakdowns galore, while keyboards add gothic swells, and random electronic beats and synth runs flitter in and out. Despite the lack of black metal I'm still posting this because it's not totally without merit. This doesn't sound as absolutely shitty as it could have with less talented individuals composing and performing it. Some of the songs are sticky as fuck too. All in all, not for everyone or even most, but if anything seemed to grab you, go and give it a listen.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Anti-Freeze - Aftermath

New meat. Anti-Freeze is a Canadian one man project. He plays a brand of raw melodic atmospheric black metal on Aftermath. The first half more atmospheric and melodic than the second. Overall, the production and composition are tight, based in the tradition of the 2nd wave, but with enough new ideas to make this more than just some throwback. The only weak spot from a performance standpoint is the drums, occasionally falling out of step with the music just enough to jar you from your concentration. A pretty good release on the whole, and enjoyable to boot.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

CAPA - THE DROVES

CAPA has given us another dose of their post-blackened everything. What's new here, or what will keep your interest? This record is definitely a lot harsher with regards to the music and composition. Wrapping around the post rocky-pretty atmospheric parts are harsh, dissonant squelches from the guitars, riding atop inorganic and cold drums. This evokes anything from noise/hardcore band Anodyne's supremely underrated Quiet Wars LP to Blut Aus Nord's middle period to The Axis of Perdition to Caina (who probably comes the closest to a reference point). Give it a shot.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Twilight Fauna - Hymns of a Forgotten Homeland

Another repeat offender. First time around I thought Ravenwood needed to work on the black metal parts of his songs, his personal brand of Appalachian folk black metal was pretty good at the appalachian folk part. On this follow-up, he pulled an audible and kept the same formula, not making the black metal parts more fleshed out, but let them breathe into what feels less like a song than a ritual chant or incantation. He'll probably get compared to Panopticon for as long as people talk about his band, but Ravenwood just needs to focus more on making his music his. Less Appalachian Folk Black Metal, more Blackened Appalachian Folk, like this recording is.

Emerald Weapon - Part II: Earth Encrypted

Its our buddies from the PNW back at us with a new recording. I was kinda tepid on their S/T EP. There were a lot of flaws in it, and a shit ton of improvements that needed to be made, but there were some bright spots in the songwriting, especially the guitars. Now we have their second release. Most of the complaints I had have been addressed. The songs seem to flow better, the mixing is improving at a good rate (the exception is the hi-hat, which needs to be reigned in a little, because it overpowers the rest of the drum track and even bleeds into the main focus), and the guys seem to want to be seen as standard Cascadian black metal no more. The drone part of their sound seems to fit more naturally as well. However, "Cement Rivers" suffers from a problem their last EP had in general; the song ends rather abruptly, it doesn't seem to flow to a natural end. This is only a minor setback to what, in my opinion, is a great follow-up recording. Let this be a reference point if you are looking for a band that matured naturally in a very short span of time.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Aires - Aires

Not black metal, but I sometimes like to post things from artists who are involved in, related to, or influenced by black metal. Aires claims influence, but it is only really notable on the epic closing track "Contraplacado". Up to that point, this young Portuguese band plays a pretty standard yet powerful brand of drone, keyboards and sound manipulation and field recordings being the only instruments/sources. "Contraplacado" is the real gem here. Swelling waves of droning melodic keys wash over you again and again, building and tearing away, crushing you beneath their mournful pall. Each swell brings the melody that much closer to its apogee and each ebb pulls it down to a sparse continuation of what it was, until the "tide" of the music is fully in, then you are stuck beneath the surface indefinitely. The swells continue but you are already under and breathing the salt, the crushing weight. This whole release is good, the last track is fucking brilliant.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Weeping, Kneeling - Blood of Ritual

Blackened drone with doom and noise elements. It's interesting, but not the greatest as a casual listen. This is more of a background listen or a direct listen, devoting all your senses to the music.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Siaskel - Jatenentolpen Thejin

Hell yes, I haven't had any true black/death in a while. These dudes power through these three tracks with a militaristic force and sound based in the death metal realm. Its not reinventing the wheel, but the songwriting and the conviction in it are top notch.


Aeolus - Celestial Forest

From the band himself:
Aeolus is an atmospheric black metal band from Wisconsin.  I have just released our debut EP entitled "Celestial Forest." My music was written to capture the beauty of nature while highlighting that at night, the atmosphere of the forest changes and danger lurks everywhere...This was my first attempt at writing, recording, mastering, and producing an album all by myself, along with handling all the instrumental duties

This is not great, its not even good. What it is is a young band just starting out and making missteps. First off, the drum programming is alright when its blasting, but it doesn't sound good. It sounds rather akin to an overloaded washing machine on the spin cycle. When it slows to a mid pace, the programming sounds like some digi-disco "grim and frostbitten bee-gees"-lite, while still muffling the fuck out of the snare and bass. The riffs/songwriting are alright, just lacking enough originality or conviction to stand it apart from the hundreds of other bedroom bands out there. The vocals are too loud in the first couple of tracks, with too much distortion on them. Just a pretty annoying shriek that is so far in front of the mix that it eats up the rest of the real estate. The last original track mixes them lower, but even beyond being able to clearly hear them. And there happens to be a cover of "The Wolfpack" by Satyricon, its just kinda eh, but better than the rest of this demo. 

Samyaza needs to practice his songwriting. If this was a interesting or unique songwriting release, you could look past the iffy programming and uneven production (mostly). As it stands, this is the upper end of the lower end of the quality road. I've heard much worse, but I've also heard a lot better, and from projects that either have an even production or interesting/strong songwriting. I think that with practice and dedication, Aeolus could put out a solid record. Until then, its not enough to stand out in any aspect.



Sangus - Saevitia EP

Honest-to-fuck black thrash, headbanging commence! This newer Providence, RI horde brings intense energy and influences from death metal and crust to their no-holds-barred thrashing. This is good shit.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Emanation - The emanation of begotten chaos from God

Terrifying experimental black metal based on the research of Tesla, Kardec, and Crookes blended with spirituality. This is droning, vocals sound more like a tortured windspirit howling from miles away and years past rather than anything approaching human, with noise and feedback squeltching through your speakers like a new form of life, birthed to the world through Emanation's inhumanaty. Yet the tempo speeds up at times, a droning dissonance will reform into a haunting melody, and the sterility of the pace will be interceded by a jazz-like feel. This is some top notch art and much worth the price of the CD.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Conjuro Nuclear - S/T

Goth black metal...would you say that phrase is a redundancy or contradiction? In many ways it's both. Conjuro Nuclear comes from Spain and, on this S/T album, bring that phrase into a middle ground. This truly sounds like a mixture of Dead Can Dance and black metal, ran through an early post-punk filter. Yes, the songs are a little same-y, and Emesis' vocals are buried deep in the mix, but that's part of the fun.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Most Holy Death - Death Knell

Most Holy Death is a one man act from that land of cheese known as Wisconsin. On Death Knell, their first recording, they blend black metal with doom, drone, and post-rock. Only bass, guitar, and vocals are used. I think this is really good, subtle when needed, claustrophobic at times, and seething with the kind of malignancy towards existence that cannot be faked or phoned in. This is music for the dead of night, with only candles lighting your room, a glass of gin in your hand (and/or some drugs in your system).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Grst - Fire Therein

OK, everyone knows how awesome and influential Weakling was right? I don't really have to do the whole song and dance about who they influenced and how they only wrote Dead As Dreams but it shaped the face of USBM to come, blah blah blah. Good. What I will say is that no one really ever attempts to cover them, mainly due to the nature of the material and the fact no lyrics were ever printed. Grst breaks with that tradition on Fire Therein, an EP covering two of those seminal tracks. Josh Vincent really outdid himself with the love and respect this grants the source material; faithful enough to please purists, and varied enough to make you not want to shut it off and just listen to the original. Nathanael Kelley adds additional guitar tracks and Kenneth Parker also deserves note for his usual vocal delivery, rather than trying to ape the original, what he is singing, I have no clue. Kudos guys, you proved you have the balls and the drive. I'm really excited (well, more excited than before, which was pretty excited) for Grst's full length debut, Plague Seed.


Salvaticus - Hidden Manna

HOLY FUCK. These dudes from Virginia aren't fucking around. This is one of the best sounding modern black metal releases I have heard. Killer riffs, dark chord progressions, and melodies that aren't dripping with cheese. Just fucking listen to it and thank me later, assholes.


Emerald Weapon - S/T EP

Oooo, a new band. Emerald Weapon is a two man project from Portland, OR. They describe their music as "Black Metal/Atmospheric/Drone", this really isn't too far off. The first track is a drone-y mess until all the instruments come in, at that point reaching a decent sounding, if all too basic, melody and harmony, then falling apart. Enlightened Womb starts out sounding all too Cascadian, before the drums switch to that polka-esque "oompa" sound that less than stellar programming results in (it happens, I know I have been guilty of it in the past). Self Reliant is my favorite track, coming in with a d-beat and a vicious but melodious riff. The energy in that song makes is the best on the EP, drawing my head from a standstill to emphatically nodding to desk headbanging in the all too short two minute running length. The last track Nothing/Everything is your standard ambient/drone Post/Cascadian instrumental/outro track, it's not bad, its just been done before.

 Its really not bad if you are into the PNW melodic sound, and it is just a first release. These dudes have some talent and some of the melodies are sticky as fuck, they just gotta flesh it out and make it theirs.

Totally random and not at all applicable rating: 5.6 Bags of Organic Free-Trade Cruelty-Free Kale Gummi Bears.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Wholy Failure - An Atropy

New EP combining the electronic elements of Abortion Eucharist with the noisy shoegaze of Carrion and Grime.


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