Wednesday, August 16, 2017
UNHOLY BAPTISM - On the Precipice of the Ancient Abyss
To quote Charles Caleb Colton, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". But in this band's case, sincerity in what they do is putting it lightly. UNHOLY BAPTISM are a two piece black metal act from Flagstaff, Arizona although according to them it's the "frigid northern woodlands of Arizona". Yeah well be that as it may this duo's debut full length is perfection in homage to Norwegian black metal from the early nineties. Imagine the best aspects of that metal scene all incorporated into one horrific and doomish entity.
Over the years there's been plenty of US bands who have been influenced by Norwegian black metal. Some even copy the whole schtick in order to be taken seriously. UNHOLY BAPTISM are of a different mindset. The band, made up of Mantus (guitar, bass, drums & vocals) and Moloch (lead guitar & drums) started out in 2008. In 2010 they put out a five song self titled EP. Because of their real life constraints (aka: jobs) they put a hold onto this project for a few years before taking on the creation which is this full length.
So as I alluded to before, the eleven tracks on here are not by a band trying to copy the old sound and fury. Instead it's all in homage to their respect for that era of music. According to the band's website this is probably a one off thing as they are now writing material for their next release. I'm guessing that'll be different. Musically well I could play this for someone and say it's an old forgotten side project recording from 1992 by members of EMPEROR, DARKTHRONE and SATYRICON with Maniac on vocals. I doubt they'd believe it but then again?
BARBARIAN - Barbarian 7"er
Hells Headbangers Records
Well fuck me running but I am late for BARBARIAN's wake of ruining people's lives via their brand of filthy speed metal. This 7"er is to coincide the band's tour of the United States starting now in August. So once again fuck me running because BARBARIAN have been kicking ass and taking names for a good seven years now and putting out one split EP and three full lengths. Their last one, Cult of the Empty Grave, was also on Hells Headbangers.
Musically what you have here is an Italian three piece, one of whom is also in the very cool CHILDREN OF TECHNOLOGY who I had written about in 2010. This band's method of audio obuse upon listeners is speed metal via totally filthy and at times blackened something or other. Either way it's two songs that are insane enough speed metal to rattle your windows and piss off your neighbors even though your windows are closed. Now I've gotta look up their tour schedule. Oh well I did and they're just stopping short of coming to my town. Fuck Me Runnin!!!!
Monday, August 7, 2017
MANDRAGORA MALEVOLA - Awakening the Impvre
I am astounded, seriously I am, of the amount of unsigned bands whose creative talent in the extreme matters equals or surpasses many bands that labels shove at us to consume. Case in point here we have a two piece act from Portuguese whose debut full length delves into everything blackened death has to offer and adds various touches of harmony both in song structure as well as instrumentation.
This two piece act consists of Slade Von Kaos, formerly of the band TRIBA, who performs the vocals and Ignifervm, who I believe is still in two other Portuguise bands CARMA and EVERTO SIGNUM, and is responsible for all the instrumentation. Which aside from the obvious metal related instruments also includes acoustic guitar and keyboards. Prior to this they put out a demo in 2015 titled Black Flame ov Illumination which was probably a testing of the waters so to speak to see how successful if anything more would occur. Obviously it did.
Awakening the Impvre falls into the category of a blackened death opus as well as story telling concept album inspired by the biblical Cain, the first man to kill. The eleven cuts on here span a variety of tempos and fluxes with the usual electrical fuse buzz of blackened tremolo guitar riffs, blast-beat runs and Von Kaos' vocals which range from harsh shrieks to guttural barks of malevolence. The key to this whole release is it's flow which is not on repeat between songs. Instead of neck breaking changes in structure this duo keeps the pace smooth throughout. Good songwriting can have your face ripping off at one moment while next sopping up the blood with a keyboard interlude.
Like I mentioned in my opening paragraph, there are plenty of metal record labels who profess to be progressive minded or forward thinking (a term I really despise) with their releases. And yet they pour out unlistenable pap. Here we have a band whose release not only captures the extreme elements of the blackened death genre but adds to it in ways that make it beautiful as well as wanting it as a destination for repeated listens which I've been doing all weekend. Late Sunday was the coolest.
Some releases really take no time to talk about. You know their names and what to expect, so do I. Here's a bunch of short reviews on those easy to handle releases.
IMMOLATION - Atonement
I must admit that IMMOLATION are my favorite NYDM act, have been since their debut. They've done well with combining the ferocity with the technical sides of death metal. In a word, they are consistent even at this point with this their tenth full length. BUT with all of that comes the expectations of each new release. Personally I think they peaked with 2011's Majesty and Decay and they have been coasting ever since. So this one's just a decent coaster.
WOLFBRIGADE - Run With The Hunted
After listening to this I wanna play some POISON IDEA (aka: real hardcore). By the way the promo tagline on this is " d-beat, hardcore, crust-punk fury". Yeah whatever, basically I remember this Swedish band as WOLFPACK in the late nineties and later in the 2000s they changed it to WOLFBRIGADE. I remember some indie rock losers were really into em back then and since they had a member(s) from ANTI-CIMEX in the band that gave em street cred. Actually this ain't a bad release especially since they're totally borrowing riffs (I'll be nice and won't say steal) from POISON IDEA.
NIDINGR - The High Heat Licks Against Heaven
This is Teloch's other band which he was in previously prior to joining MAYHEM. I think the only reason Indie Records (a label I've always liked and have quite a few releases by) will move any copies of this is because of the MAYHEM connection. Be that as it may this sucks, it blows and it's not black metal. Musically it's more in the vein of a wanna be blackened latter day VOIVOD with an emo style vocalist and Teloch uses leftover riffs from Esoteric Warfare which was not that good of a release.
HARK - Machinations
Season of Mist
This shit reminds me of the FOO FIGHTERS or QUEENS OF THE STONEAGE style shit mixed with BARONESS and MASTODON. Basically we're talking about indie metal from years ago, which indie rock losers went apeshit over and got major airplay on college radio, mixed up with the crap from a few years ago.
WORMWOOD - Ghostlands: Wounds From a Bleeding Earth
Non Serviam Records
Years ago I was into a lot of Nordic bands that combined black metal with their local traditional music. Most of em of course were viking metal bands but others just pushed the folk stuff with some death metal thrown in. Obviously I still like it even though the trend of Pagan Fest type acts started to grow too much. Case in point, here were have WORMWOOD a five piece act from Stockholm, Sweden and this is their debut full length.
Musically this is one big bag of folk inspired metal touching on various genres in order to bring about an epic feel to their sound. Of course when I first listened to it I thought of the band MANEGARM and as luck would have it one of WORMWOOD's guitarists plays with MANEGARM live. Of course it's also interesting since WORMWOOD started out in 2014 and hey who they sound like. Influences it's still pretty good.
Musically Ghostlands: Wounds From a Bleeding Earth is not a carbon copy of past folk inspired metal sounds. Actually its a compliment as the band takes everything which made this type of Nordic sound so epic and vibrant to the next level. As well as getting full doses of driving riffs and pounding drums there's plenty of rock melodies intertwined with the extreme metal standbys. Lots of acoustics tossed in for effect as opposed to window dressing plus the female vocals added in. Overall this will be one of my favorite releases of 2017. Extreme and upbeat, perfect to start your day with.
SAQRA'S CULT - Forgotten Rites
Amor Fati Productions
On a Saturday afternoon and I'm listening to some Belgium black metal. What a life I have and it's two hours before I go into work, yah! Actually I started listening to this band's debut full length early this morning. Like I said SAQRA'S CULT are from Belgium, play a mid to fast style of black metal that leaks in some atmospheric passages once in a while. They don't sound like ENTHRONED but they do like CELTIC FROST especially the Tom G. Warrior grunts.
On a whole Forgotten Rites is straight forward black metal. The vocals have a ghastly snarl to them which is cool. The opening cut, “Solemn Sacrifice”, starts out with an intro, the sound of a wind storm, and is long enough to keep you guessing before the maelstrom of blackened hate commences. Aside from the obvious genre takes I've mentioned, SAQRA'S CULT also adds some doom, gloom as well as blackened death style to their overall sound. Yeah this is decent but they won't be taking the Belgium black metal throne, just yet.
INGURGITATING OBLIVION - Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light
Welcome to the wonderful world of dissonant death metal. Yeah that's a new genre term. Wanna know what it entails? OK you take your typical tech death, add progressive black metal aesthetics then toss in some KING CRIMSON style jazz as well as basic 70's prog plus the over indulgence it takes to write a twenty two minute song and finally some brutal death metal vocal style. Has your head exploded yet? Mine did during the first song.
That's what this German band is all about and guided by the vision of Florian Engelke, guitarist/vocalist and founding member of INGURGITATING OBLIVION. This band has been around since 2001 and has progressed to this point after putting out a bunch of material in short as well as long form. This latest one is their third full length, a four song opus which lasts over fifty two minutes via four songs. A diabolical mind is patient and that's needed when delving into the vastness of this beast.