Monday, March 19, 2018
BLUTVIAL - Mysteries of Earth
Heidens Hart Records
I was definitely looking forward to hearing this one ever since I saw that Heidens Hart Records was releasing it. BLUTVIAL is an English black metal act that I first got into back in the late 2000s with their debut full length I Speak of the Devil. A few years later they came out with another one, Curses Thorns Blood. Both albums are incredible examples of the fusing of traditional raw black metal with, I guess you'd call it, more modern temperaments and non BM influences. All of which does not drive the music out of the genre.
So here we have Mysteries of Earth the band's first new release since 2013's Brythonic EP but still this is their first full length since 2011. As a whole all I can say after blasting this continuously for a week is that the basics of this band's past have not changed. That's a good thing because we're talking about that second wave rawness with intricately picked tremolo runs, blast beat brutality as well as some very high pitched and grim vocals. You couple all of that with the melodic portions that sweep in and around like ghostly swirls of atmospheric bodies.
Now with all of that I compare it with their two previous releases and it's easy to see how BLUTVIAL moved their own ways a notch more extreme. I was waiting for something in the bad progressive moves department to kick in but no. Their thrash and burn cuts rip flesh. The longer cuts push a more eloquent torture prospect. Feel the darkness.
TARASQUE - Innen Aussen
Sludge Metal is definitely a music genre created in America but has gone worldwide over the past few decades, just like Stoner Rock. It's with that said I'm always curious to hear a band from another part of the world put their take on it. Of course most of what I've heard always sounds like rehash of what I could hear at home, aka: Southern Sludge wannabe shit or worse. When I saw the list of "For Fans Of" bands list in the PR email info I cringed. There were a couple of cool bands and then some hipster acts from a decade ago. Ahhhhhhhh!
TARASQUE are a three piece act from Munster, Germany. Along with their take on sludge they add plenty of ambient post-something or other atmosphere. Yeah that's where their "post-metal" tagline comes into play. So for the most part on this the band's debut EP, these Germans lay down the basic slow crushing power of the genre plus they let some groove seep in. The infusion of the previously mentioned ambiance gives the songs room to breath and extend some life to their compositions of which there are five, well ones an instrumental.
The first time I listened to Innen Aussen I thought it was recorded live. It's got that big production echo sound like they're playing a club. I like that emphasis on the loud because it automatically gives you the idea of their live performance. For the most part the band nails the basics or should I just say "hello NEUROSIS"? Then on the other hand they allow for that sludged out version of SONIC YOUTH or PAVEMENT stuff to corrupt what I'd otherwise call a decent release. Thankfully the vocals are sung in a caustic sore throat style that gives em some credit.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
ILDRA - Eoelland Re-issue
Heidens Hart Records
As we all know, popular music goes through trends and metal is not free of all of that. A decade ago extreme metal had a few legitimate trends going on. I say legitimate because the hipster crap a joke and not worthy. But yeah ten years ago you had the thrash revival petering out. Old school death metal was making a come back and is still going strong today. You also had the rise of bands into pagan folk metal.
These were bands who were influenced by the olden days, especially of their native lands or, in certain circumstances, wishful thinking. The hokey terms were battle metal or viking metal. Some act were truly into their nation's folk music heritage and used it into their sound. And of course there were the true pagan folk acts who had more of a black metal heritage. This is where ILDRA comes in. When I saw their name in the promo email I thought I recognized it.
I've said it many times yes I am a fan of the whole pagan folk metal genre. I got hooked on it a decade ago when it was a trend. Of course I was already listening to bands playing that style of music prior to learning wow it's called pagan folk metal. Hell for years I just called it great music. Thank you unknown person who came up with a genre term. But anyways I went into the SFM666 archives to see if I had written about ILDRA before and the answer was no. I've got stacks of CDs on the shelf by pagan, folk, viking, battle metal bands and here's one I missed out on originally.
ILDRA's Eoelland originally came out in the Spring of 2011. It was their only full length release. Prior to it the band/artist (no one really knows other than they're/he's English) had a few demos starting out in 2004. So let's be clear they were not trendy. When I listen to this now my first thought is wow a lot of people followed along this band's pagan folk style. There's a huge amount of acoustic guitar usage. Theirs definitely some viking era Quorthon influence here. Basically post Hammerheart is what I'm referring to as well as the use of sound effects (aka: sounds of clashing battles and crashing waves).
On a whole Eoelland reminds me of GRAVELAND's latter work. I'm talking about when Rob Darken (who by the way was never into the shit he's been accused of by the pc police) went from straight up black metal to more pagan folk style. Musically everything is on the melodic scale with plenty of epicness as well as blackened room to breath. The whole release is slightly less then an hour of tremendous pagan folk music that will capture the true believers.
HIIDENHAUTA - 1695
For years now I always considered myself to be fairly knowledgeable about the Finnish extreme metal scene. I'm a huge fan of their black metal bands/artists. As far as doom metal goes they rule. They have one of the best grindcore acts in the world, ROTTEN SOUND. Also my all time favorite folk metal act, KORPIKLAANI, calls Finland home. And let's not forget about NIGHTWISH. But of course I give this release a listen and class starts again.
Here we have the band HIIDENHAUTA, a four piece act from Satakunta, Finland. Musically HIIDENHAUTA are melodic black metal to a point plus they add some folk touches to their sound. This is their second full length and obviously the first time I've heard them. There are many things about this band as far as this release is concerned that pushes them beyond the norm as far as melodic black metal goes.
First and foremost are the duel gender vocals. The male vocals by Tuomas Keskimaki are screamed, yelled and of course are caustic. They're also sung in Finnish. I've said it before but it always bares repeating. The Finnish language sung in anger makes Germans singing in their own tongue sound like pussies. Now Tuomas is paired up with on vocals by Emma Keskimaki. Her vocals add a soft airiness touch. It's a perfect match.
Other points of interest are the use of keyboard interludes which gives a few songs an interesting dynamic as well as atmosphere. As far as the black metal melodies go guitarist Otto Hyvarinen keeps things partly savage with some basic tremolo thrash. Other times he's showing off some straight forward metal riffage and evens gets a bit technical. Drummer Eetu Ritakorpi follows everything up with pure organic aggressive power.
Just for the record 1695 is a concept album. According to the promo info (because I'm not an expert) the release's premise is the Great Famine in Finland from 1695 to 1697. It was during those years period that every third person of Finland died because of starvation or the accompanying diseases and epidemics. By the way at that time the country was under Swedish rule. Ouch, someone still has a grievance.
As sometimes it's history and it's remembrance which creates good music. HIIDENHAUTA's 1695 is an amazing piece of work. It falls in there with many other black metal acts who left their mark on our collective mindset when it comes to shedding light onto the past. This one just sparked my interest into learning more.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
GRAVECOVEN - Coughing Blood
Godz ov War Productions
Here we have a two piece act from California (what again?) One member, Phillip Gallagher, is responsible for all the instruments while the other, James Rauh, takes on vocal duties. It's bands like this, aka: two members/huge sound, that you wish could actually perform live. Maybe they'll get some session players in the future.
GRAVECOVEN have been around since 2015 and this five song EP is a collection of everything they previously released on their two demos and a single of which they cover "Hades" by BATHORY. As far as their style and sound goes this two piece is blackened doom. That's a very under explored extreme metal genre to say the least and not to be confused with blackened death doom. Yeah I know all these sub-genres get confusing and can get a bit silly but there is a difference.
What GRAVECOVEN bring to the table is fast and loose. The riff package is varied and mired in filthy distortion. Vocals are either cavernous howls or secreted venomous screams. The rhythms vary from slow crawls, machine like pounding and of course mid paced tremolo runs. In the end it's the musical equivalent of getting hit with a hammer multiple times.
Friday, March 9, 2018
HYPNOS - The GBG Sessions
The Sign Records
I've said it many times but it always bares repeating. When doing SFM666 I'm actually excited every time I discover or better yet exposed to something new and cool as far as extreme music goes or in this case old sounds revived. For a while now The Sign Records has put out some decent enough releases by bands who revive the sounds of 70's Hard Rock and 80's NWOBHM. Some I've liked and some not so much. Here's one that just blows me away.
HYPNOS are a Swedish five piece act who for a few years now have garnered a lot of respect in their nation as being a great band recreating the hard rock and NWOBHM sounds of the past. They've put out two full lengths so far. One of which, Cold Winds, from 2016 I checked out after listening to this one and I was in that holy shit mode. What we have here is sort of a compilation of old and new cuts. Chalk it up as a precursor for their new album coming out later this year.
As far as the music goes well most of the older cuts are from the band's 2014 full length debut. There's also one cut from Cold Winds, two new cuts destined for their next album and (gasp) a cover of ABBA's "Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie". Soundwise it's a mix of MAIDEN, RAINBOW, DIAMOND HEAD and dare I say DEEP PURPLE minus the keyboards. Just fuckin incredible.
PISSED REGARDLESS - Feed The Birds
After so many years now listening to bands reviving the crossover / thrash era of the 80s I'm at that crossroads point of opinion. Either the bands are cool sounding and remind me of some good old times. Or they're just copying bullshit from the past thinking it had some shelf life when in fact it didn't at all. On this their five song EP, PISSED REGARDLESS captures both sides of my opinion.
Hailing from San Diego, California this five piece act has been around for a couple of years pushing their revival style to the masses. This is their second EP, I never heard their first one. On Feed The Birds this band combines some 1980's Southern California hardcore influences (SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, DRI) with that NYHC / metalcore silliness.
Songs like "Empty", "No Reprieve" and "Trust No Pulse" are cool representations of an era of West Coast HC music which I remember well. I still have a lot of that stuff. Were as the other two cuts remind me of the breakdown days from NYC acts.