Aeon Winds - Stormveiled, Avantgarde Music, Black Doomba Records, Black Lion Records, Boatman's Toll - The Fat is in the Fire, COME BACK FROM THE DEAD - The Rise of the Blind Ones, Cult of Sorrow - Invocation of the Lucifer, Cyclopean Eye Productions, DEMENZIA MORTIS - Memento Mori, Detherous - Hacked to Death, ETERNAL STORM - Come The Tide, Funeral Trance, GEISTAZ' IKA - Trolddomsejd i skovens dybe kedel, Helldprod Records, LION'S SHARE - “We Are What We Are”, Malpermesita Records, Monarque - Jusqu'a la Mort, Noterious Music, Nunslaughter - Antichrist, OLKOTH - The Immortal Depths & Treasures of Necromancy, Ov Lustra - Tempestas, Pathetic - Rat King, Redefining Darkness Records, Seeing Red Records, sepulchral productions, Serpents Athirst / Genocide Shrines / Trepanation / Heresiarch - Scorn Coalescence, Sigil - Demonstration MMXIX, Signal Rex, Spopielony - Legendy, Suicide Forest, third eye cinema podcast, Torture Ascendancy 1307 - D.E.M.O.S., Transcending Obscurity Records
So, it’s been another week or two, recorded and edited another Weird Scenes show for your delectation…and back to the ol’ grind, digging through yet another batch of reviewables for fun and frolic, just so you know what’s worthy and what’s, well, worthless out there this month (or thereabouts, given the new ala carte releases of these smaller, nonstandard review cycles).
So without wasting anyone’s time further, let’s just dig right in, shall we?
Cult of Sorrow – Invocation of the Lucifer (Black Doomba Records) (September 20)
There’s a lot to like about this one, which kicks off with a vintage Pentagram riff and winds up on a far lesser one which nonetheless boasts a decidedly Sabbath breakdown late in the proceedings…and the bulk of the album wanders back and forth between the two (with a touch of Kyuss to fill some extra time between). Bottom line, the traditional doom influences are present and accounted for.
The problem here, if any, is that we seem to be talking another Sabbath Assembly sort of affair, where the band is wayyyy too serious about its gnostic gnonsense for their own g(n)ood.
So if you don’t mind all this happy horseshit about the “bright mother” aspects of Lucifer the goddess (seriously, they can’t seem to decide whether to couch things in a more generic, surface level wiccan shell or a more gobbledygook Processian satanist one) fouling up the lyrics on what would otherwise be a fairly listenable trad doom leaning slightly stoner album, then have no fear, just dive right in.
Personally, I’m feeling a bit nauseous from all this eye rolling and bemused spit takes on the sheer inanity and “come, little fools” entry level bullshit to bother playing this one ever again.
As Frank Zappa once said, “shut up n’ play yer guitar.”
Serpents Athirst / Genocide Shrines / Trepanation / Heresiarch – Scorn Coalescence (split) (Cyclopean Eye Productions) (July 26)
Four way split incorporating two almost “bestial black” leaning black/death acts from Sri Lanka and two from New Zealand.
Genocide Shrines (who lean a tad more sloppy underground death) and to a lesser extent Heresiarch (who lean more blackened grindcore) are the two that take this one, hands down. The other two, nah.
Amusingly, this one’s set up in “worst first” order!
Way to put your worst foot forward…
Ov Lustra – Tempestas (Black Lion Records) (June 7)
Anyone calling themselves “symphonic black metal” not named Cradle of Filth is operating at an immediate disadvantage. Not as much as anyone calling themselves “black/death”, mind…but this sets the bar rather low before a single note is played.
And here we have a band with mild affectations towards a strange variant of symphonic power metal (in the keys and a bit of dramatic feel), but who dive headlong into the stinking sewer of belch-vocalled, blastbeat n’ high speed bass drum trill-driven subpar/post-1992/3 “death metal”…and blackened, to boot.
At this point, it’s less a case of “this specific band sucks” than “this entire fucking subgenre is a problem from minute one”…and as such, do we really need to go on knocking a band who are still a whole lot more listenable than the bizarrely overrated Emperor?
Just keep in mind…like their choice of moniker (seriously?) that ain’t saying much.
Pathetic – Rat King (July 12)
Sludgy, cruddy sounding and fairly underground take on death metal out of Calgary.
Hard to describe what’s up with their sound, as it’s not raw and underpolished in the positive sense of early Incantation or even Autopsy, but just kind of unformed, with crummy, mids-heavy guitar tone (which does say Autopsy, but also Non-Fiction to these ears) and noisy, popping thin dish drums.
At least it’s generally classifiable as death metal proper, rather than the usual blackened or black/death nonsense that poisons so much of the scene nowadays…and if you’re into the rawer, more simplistic end of the classics like Baphomet, Acheron, Autopsy, Incantation (and hey, two of those bands did lean blackened i.e. satanic in lyrics, at least), then Pathetic could definitely fill the bill.
Is this the sort of band you’ll end up playing often? Nah. They’re better than a local filler act, if that helps…but we’re not talking top tier future classic either.
But is this one perfectly acceptable if you can get past the crappy tonal choices (won’t even blame production here, this sounds wholly intentional on the part of the band) and are just looking for some very basic, sludgy, crusty takes on the pocket of death metal the aforementioned acts ascribe to and by their proximity, perhaps create.
Torture Ascendancy 1307 – D.E.M.O.S. (July 17)
Western PA (well, they say “Central Southern PA”, but coming from our direction, it’s decidedly West to our eyes!) drops this black/death act.
Oddly, given the hype over its featuring members of several prior groups (only one of which yours truly’s ever even heard of, but hey) this one feels quite lifeless and flat.
There’s not a lot of technical business or polished playing to account for it, but these demos have the feel of a bunch of diehards bored off their asses by what they’re playing…and it translates to the listener, make no mistake.
Yeah, this part’s atonal, this part’s trying to be sinister…yawn. What, we’re on the second to last track already? Holy shit, what a boring band!
LION’S SHARE – “We Are What We Are” (Noterious Music) (June 4)
There was another package of tracks floating around out there, but they seemed to be the exact same ones we’d covered previously, arguably with a handful of extras…it’s clear these guys aren’t exactly prolific!
Nonetheless, when the quality is as strong as these guys never fail to deliver, who’s complaining?
If you dig the sound of bands like Accept, Priest, early Manowar or the classic US power metal sound per se, you really can’t go wrong with these guys – a frontman who looks like Steve Grimmett and sounds like David Wayne and the crunchy old school metal riffs to back him up, driving the songs with punch and vigor.
It’s like being back in ’85-86 all over again, and there’s not much bad you can say about that…particularly by comparison to where we stand today!
Well worth searching around for…hell, I just looked up the band’s bandcamp for ya, don’t say I never gave you anything.
DEMENZIA MORTIS – Memento Mori (Malpermesita Records) (May 31)
Belgian black/death. They claim to be influenced by Dark Funeral…well, maybe their abysmal “Lord Magus Caligula” era!
To be fair, this is really simplistic, repetitive riffing that does in fact transpose up and down by a semitone…which is exactly what’s so childishly annoying about Dark Funeral in the first place (early EP and recent surprise apotheosis Where the Shadows Forever Reign aside).
…yeah. Junk. Next?
Suicide Forest – S/T (Avantgarde Music) (July 6)
Some kid (well, barely scratching post-collegiate) from Tucson, AZ has apparently been listening to too much Vardan and/or Shining…because he’s replicated that same depressively atmospheric, almost oppressive feel here.
The keyboards offer a nice feel (particularly on the two best cuts here, “cold dark comfort” and “kingdom of solitude”), but things fall apart a bit on the overly aggro “auto-immolation”, the aimlessly boring piano solo “baptized in pools of despondency” and more meandering tracks like “longing for nothingness” and (to a lesser extent) “sea of trees”.
It has definite promise – “sea of trees” starts to grow on you by the midsection until you find it actually works, and both it and the two excellent tracks mentioned earlier definitely stand out. If this were a three track EP, he’d be getting some serious kudos.
Too bad about the other three tracks, which should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Still very much worth your time if you dig most of what Vardan’s got to offer or the earlier, better days of Kvarforth’s Shining.
Make no mistake, those 3 tracks? Excellent stuff.
This one’s staying on the iPod for a bit, no question.
Aeon Winds – Stormveiled (Avantgarde Music) (July 12)
You know, something about this one bothered me immediately. Was it the shitty production (simultaneously sounding like the band was buried underneath a pillow and overly hissy and watery sounding on every cymbal strike and snotty vocal snarl)? Nah, we’ve all heard worse out of black metal acts.
Ah, that’s it – the abrasively lousy vox and aimless guitar and drum barrage appended by some annoyingly simplistic monotone keyboards throughout. Damn straight, they cop to being influenced by Emperor.
Fuck Emperor, and hey, what the hell – fuck these guys for continuing the shitstorm those absurdly overrated Norwegian losers inaugurated.
All you anthems to the welkin fanboys, queue right up. The rest of us have better things to do, like you know…go fold wash or something.
Chrome Waves – A Grief Observed (Avantgarde Music) (July 6)
Former Nachtmysticum member joins with a doom metal drummer to make…a real curiosity.
Some tracks feel as DSBM as a Shining record, but appended with weird electronic effects and some doomier tempos and feel than expected (“open casket”.)
Others come off more shoegaze, albeit with shriek n’ snarl vocals (“burdened”), still others feel a bit Joy Divisionish postpunk, at least before screamer James Benson opens his mouth to kill everyone’s buzz yet again (“past the lights”, “predatory animals”).
Bottom line is, the entire thing is produced well enough to pass (it’s not great, but there’s not a lot of signal bleed and more clarity than you’d expect), and the guitar tones are clean enough to fool folks.
So just shut this fucking guy up and bring in a clean, droning baritone frontman, and you’ve got yourselves a respectable postpunk leaning gothic rock band.
So many bands wrecked by poor choice in frontmen (or women, for that matter). Who the fuck decided screaming, shrieking and belching was appropriate for anything outside of straight up death and black metal?
Big flashing neon letter hint.
Detherous – Hacked to Death (Redefining Darkness Records) (August 16)
Another Calgary act this month, and once again they’re working some form of death metal. Must be a scene I’m smelling…
So these guys try to pull off some ersatz teenage naivete take on Demolition Hammer. The vox are there, the boring riffs and relentless typewriter trills on drums…but then they throw in a weird partial solo in the middle of a phrase or add a weird time change nobody was expecting.
It’s sort of vintage thrash as much as death metal, with the quirkiness of early Morbid Angel or even first album Deicide but never actually falling into the trap of trying to sound like either of them.
And this is exactly what saves ’em and keeps them more interesting than their peers (or for that matter, Demolition Hammer!): that quirky teenaged naivete. Individualism and poorly-processed influences that never quite gel…which leaves ’em sounding almost original, and a whole hell of a lot more curiously listenable than you’d otherwise expect.
What happens when these guys grow up a bit and fall into more predictable patterns, I’m sure we can all sardonically guess.
But this slab of just out of the basement weirdness hits so many of the right buttons, it almost manages to make “seriously retro” sound pretty damn fresh.
Boatman’s Toll – The Fat is in the Fire (Seeing Red Records) (July 19)
You know, this started off* on a mostly clean vocalled cover of Acid Bath’s “the blue”, which set the tone for something more likeably laid back and stoner.
But then you hit the start of the album, and we’re right smack dab in the middle of sludge territory, complete with fat guy belching and bellowing crumbs from his half-eaten Manwich all over his flannel shirt between truck stops…and the band alternates between the usual stoner/sludge sound and something weirdly more black/death, with tremelo riffing and relentless double bass drumming (and a few really inept slow blastbeat fills…check out “in the falling away” if you’re in need of a good laugh.)
* you know the deal. Last shall be first, and all that…
But you know, it’s still hard to hate a band who does songs like “corporate indentured servitude” or “cat food”, which tells us “dead is the man who walks around half asleep”. Yeah, these guys are big on the social critique, which is always welcome (particularly in dark days like these).
So I don’t know. Nod to the lyricist, I guess.
Just not sure what to tell ya about everything else here…if you’re looking for further positives, you’re kind of on your own.
ETERNAL STORM – Come The Tide (Transcending Obscurity Records)
Weird Spanish cross between straight up death metal (arguably melodeath, but still) and more of an indie meets metalcore thing, where pleasantly harmonized clean vocals come up at bridges or random intervals to punctuate and bring focus to all the noise that surrounds.
There are clean, depressive guitar sections that often accompany same, lead lines and riffs that feel oddly J-rock (like the one circa 2m in to “Pt. II Immersion” or the chorus of “of winter and treason”) and even some saxophone (same track, earlier) – something rarely heard in this sort of music outside postpunk new wave and goth leaning acts like Romeo Void and the Virgin Prunes(!)
These are some seriously strong, emotive compositions (recall my reference of J-rock earlier…and realize that nobody pulls off bottled up, intensely moving emotion like that island nation) even with the cliche death metal belch vox…but it’s baffling they even bothered to go that route.
These songs are strong enough to work as a hybrid melodeath/who knows what act with nothing but the clean vocals…something that can also be said of The Giant-era Ahab as well.
Really, really liked this one…next time, less of the death vox and more of the clean ones, please!
COME BACK FROM THE DEAD – The Rise of the Blind Ones (Transcending Obscurity Records) (September 13)
Did someone mention Autopsy?
Put on “martyr of a gruesome demise” and tell me this isn’t some Autopsy cover band. Go ahead. I dare you.
How about “restless in putrescence”? “Altar of your neck”? “Darkness abominations”? “Dead march”? “Possessed by the death”? How about the entirety of the album?
At least they went for the earlier, stronger demo and album material, when Cutler and Riefert were firing on most or all cylinders (inevitably awful production aside)…but yeah. If you dig early Autopsy, you WILL love these guys.
Sometimes it’s fine to just have copycat acts, particularly when the original bands either no longer exist or just don’t have it anymore…case in point.
Sigil – Demonstration MMXIX (Funeral Trance) (July 15)
Noisy, atonal oddity out of Calgary. It’s mostly black/death with an emphasis on atonality and jumping in and out of keys, phrasing or any measure of music performance and appreciation – the entire thing collapses around the 2 minute mark of “eldritch”, and it’s painful to hear – but with emo-style shout n’ scream raspy throat vox throughout.
So…is this emo? What passes for “hardcore” these days? Black/death? Or straight up noise?
My ears are literally screaming for relief as I write this. “SHUT THIS SHIT OFF, ALREADY!”
Spopielony – Legendy (Funeral Trance) (July 26)
well…I guess if you’re really into the most laid back yet tense (as if waiting for something horrible to happen that never quite arrives) BGM of the soundtrack to something like Sean Connery’s Outland or a Mass Effect game, this may be up your alley…
…otherwise, this doesn’t even cut it as the promo-mentioned “dungeon synth”. Come on, I LOVE Era 1 Mortiis, even enjoy blatant copycats like Elffor and the whole “lazerpunk” thing that briefly made waves a few years back with guys like Nightsatan (who were stealing wholesale from folks like John Carpenter, Claudio Simonetti and Simon Boswell in the first damn place). All that stuff is great by me.
This…well, I sure can’t complain about it, it’ll set a mood alright…but it’s only towards the end that the album really picks up said eerie yet sinister laid back mood (starting with “lochy i synthy.midi” and running straight through closer “lza w jej oku”). Earlier tracks are just…weak.
But does it really qualify as dungeon synth, “lazerpunk” or whatever the hell else you want to slot this one into? No way.
Drop it in and don’t expect to hear anything of substance until a good 24 minutes have elapsed. Then, yeah, we can talk about horror and giallo soundtrack swipes and suchlike…and this being worthy of a listen.
Monarque – Jusqu’à la Mort (Sepulchral Productions) (June 24)
Damn, has it really been 6 years since we spoke to Lys Noir?
Well, to be fair, he did drop a track on the Legendes 4 way split, and his Deletere was covered thrice, for De Ritibus Morbiferus, Les Heures de la Peste and Per Aspera Ad Pestilentiam, but you don’t need to go far to see the man’s lost none of his flair for the dramatic, particularly on the driving yet hypnotically introspective title cut or the doomy 11 minute “le grand deuil”, which is without question the setpiece of this all too brief EP.
Yeah, production’s a little swishy and watery, but damn.
Powerful stuff, no question. I really missed this level of Quebecois black metal…
So when’s the next full length…and will it hold gems as pronounced as these?
Nunslaughter – Antichrist 7″ (Helldprod) (July 31)
“Don of the Dead” and pals are back for yet another amusingly blasphemous slab of oddly catchy yet sloppy rehearsal room-grade recordings. You know, same thing they’ve been doing since the late 90’s, on dozens of splits, singles and EPs…
This is a band that is a love/hate proposition…and not even necessarily “per se”, but “by the release”. Some have been greatly praised in these pages…others roundly mocked and sent packing.
This one…falls right down the middle. Stupid, decidedly juvenile lyrics? Check. Crappy drum tone and simplistic snare work? Check. Noisy, feedback prone guitars that still manage to have some crunchy, even catchy riffs in there somehow? Check. Goofy puking vocals? Check.
It’s like Necrophagia, particularly when Anselmo was in the band as “Vincent Crowley” or whatever the hell he was calling himself. It’s seriously inept…yet somehow can really work, and much better than later, more polished efforts from the same band. And they also were prone to juvenile, gore and blasphemy obsessed lyrics with perfectly awful vocals…
Short and nasty. And as ever, too goofy for anyone rational to be properly offended by. What’s not to raise a beer in salute to?
Keep this silly stuff coming, guys.
GEISTAZ’ IKA – Trolddomsejd i skovens dybe kedel (Signal Rex) (August 1)
Rob Darken-style vox, a weirdly melodic feel, overtones of vocal chants, keyboards, overlaid lead lines and traditional instruments that put this somewhere between recent Lord Wind and classic Hades (nee “Hades Almighty”), with an emphasis on the latter.
As with Hades, this could have done with a much better production (remix and remaster, anyone?)…but it’s so oddly listenable and transportative to a different plane of thought and feel, you really won’t mind the nastier parts.
Whatever gets you there, right?
Very good stuff – compare to the Alone Walkyng EP, as filtered through Darken (a hint of Graveland, a larger lump of recent Lord Wind) and you’ll get the idea.
OLKOTH – The Immortal Depths & Treasures of Necromancy (Signal Rex) (August 1)
Somewhat in the same frame of mind as the (far superior) Geistaz’Ika out of Denmark, this is “based in the United States” (whatever that means…there’s 50 states, should we throw darts to pick one?) and a comp of their two demos (2016 and 2017).
So beyond the tired “black metal mystery” this implies (not only “who the hell are these guys”, but “where the fuck are they from” to boot!), all this tells us is that the production is kind of questionable (particularly on the second demo, whose loud keyboards and noisy, thin guitars really clash) and they may well have moved on in life (or are currently recording for a debut EP or full length, your call).
But while “the Immortal Depths” material does bear some oddly atmospheric, even melodic kinship with the aforementioned Geistaz’Ika, even here at their best they simply don’t hold a candle…a difference in quality and approach which becomes all the more pronounced when you get to the inferior sound and material comprising the Treasures of Necromancy demo.
Maybe the title should have been a hint – any “treasures” you get from necromancy would have to be long dead and rotted away…
Lest you think it’s just an issue of production…it’s not. It’s almost like two different bands, so far apart are the two demos in tone, quality and feel.
If you find any value in this, it’ll be off the first few tracks. The second demo can’t and won’t fail to disappoint.