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And it’s time for yet another one of these Coronavirus specials, the extra time locked down in that Evil Dead cabin in the woods allowing us to converse some more with those wild and crazy demons in the cellar.

And what fun loving guys they are!  Such pleasant chats we have, about all sorts of things: the state of swallowing your soul, what’s the weather like when swallowing your soul, the proper technique and what fashions are like this year in swallowing your soul…aah.  Just like listening to a lot of “extreme” metal, there’s so much variation and different stuff going on!

…well, look, anything’s going to sound intelligent and wide ranging compared to the sheer genius of radio pop and rap…

So without further ado, because they keep banging their heads against the trap door and rattling chains…it’s getting annoying, fellas!

…anyway, as I was saying…yeah.  Let’s dig in, shall we?

ENEPSIGOS – Wrath of Wraths (Osmose Productions) (March 27)

Oy.

Things weren’t looking too good from either “water and flesh” or “shields of faith”, but when they devolve into pure noise around 1:45 of “confess”, you know you’re hip deep in the shit.

Seriously. The “underground black/death” reverb happy, mids heavy detuned guitars (which come off vaguely HM-2 esque on “seventh seal” but otherwise just sound like a hedge clipper) weren’t enough, you had to make all this horrid dissonant open string noise over the top?

There are “outside” chords you can use as an advanced player. Jazzmen and prog types do it all the time.

Learn to use those, if you want to work some dissonance into your sound.

Don’t just bash away like a retarded child…or you’ll sound like just these guys.

And nobody wants that.

…next?

WINTER DELUGE – Degradation Renewal (Osmose Productions) (April 24)

Terribly produced New Zealand black/death affair.

It’s all so thin and hollow, you’d think the entire thing was recorded through a Tom Scholz Rockman…and don’t get it into your head they have any of the merits Boston brings to the table from that reference.

If anything, they come off with the stiffness and off meter approach of Goatlord, but if that deadly effective sludge/death/doom act were trying to spaz out like Centurian or something.

At least the solos sound sort of old school death metal…but what a cacophony surrounds them!

Just another reminder why the black and death scenes Down Under should remain a domestic thing. P-U !!!

BÂ’A – Deus Qui Non Mentitur (Osmose Productions) (April 24)

French black metal. I mean, it’s not the killer old school Les Legions Noires school thereof, or even the shoegazey post-black thing Alcest spearheaded…but you can join me in breathing a great sigh of relief that it’s not the horrifically awful “experimental avant garde” shit…

No, this appends more to the moody and expansive feel of the Quebecois scene, the Cascadian scene, the “atmospheric black metal” scene, even the sort of DSBM Vardan tends to specialize in.

It’s slow, grim, pensive and brings imagery of marches through desert plains as much as thick woodlands. Even the harsh shrieks and speedier tremelo sections only serve as contrast and complement to the funereally descending lead lines and overall mournful feel. Put quite simply, it works.

Yep, definitely makes up for the first two. Check it out, see if it hits your sweet spot.

GLACIATION – Ultime Eclat (Osmose Productions) (February 28)

More aggressive musically and far more pointedly emo (or “existentially pained”, if you want to put a nice face on it), but the same idea as BÂ’A.

Essentially, if the guy from BÂ’A just broke up with his girlfriend (who likely had a higher testosterone than he ever did, the damn “Brony”!), he’d be pissed off and throwing his little pink rainbow pillows around his My Little Bedroom, Pete Wentz hairdo and skinny arms flapping around like an angry chicken.

Now if our hero here calmed down enough to plug in a guitar and mic, you’d have something very much like Glaciation, or if you prefer, BÂ’A with a bug up their ass.

It works. Too angsty and emo for my tastes, yeah…but it still works.

Solipsism – Trhliny v (ne)skutocnosti (The Ruptures in (Un)Reality) (Sun & Moon Records) (March 15)

Utterly amazing Slovakian black metal band that captures the grim, resigned feel and dark melodicism so endemic to the Finnish scene and marries it to the calmer, more expansive feeling of post-black, “atmospheric” and Cascadian acts.

There’s enough of an edge to suggest (very) early Norwegian second wave influence or even (at a bit of a remove) that of the Polish scene when it mattered, but its nonspecific and vague, blurring into a more generic “strangely old school” vibe underpinning the otherwise more modernistic approach taken herein.

There is a relentless sadness and feeling of doom and damnation over the entire affair that is just as present in quiet acoustic moments like “ozveny minutosti” as it is in such sheer marvels of type as the dramatic “posledny nech zhasne” or the more pointedly aggressive “negalomania”. It’s a short release, but one with at least one major high point (“posledny…”) and no major dips in quality in the surrounding builds to and from that midpoint pinnacle of majesty, tension and a sort of resigned relief.

This is the sort of thing you’ll want to hear if this increasingly global (if clearly weaponized and manmade) plague worsens, as you wander empty streets wondering how many around you will survive.

Or that may just be wishful thinking, after all those years of waiting for the apocalypse to finally come and wipe the terminally stupid from the face of the Earth.

Sadly, if those days ever do arrive, they’ll likely be far more indiscriminate.

Either way, this is an appropriate soundtrack to the gloom and devastation of such an increasingly realistic scenario.

SATAN’S CROSS – Celebration of the Fallen digiMCD (Sun & Moon Records) (March 15)

Fascinating throwback to the first wave black metal of Italy in particular, but with further hints of Eastern Europe (Tormentor).

Sinister, weird, with nearly spoken but bizarrely so (think early Bulldozer crossed with Paul Chain circa his Violet Theatre era) vocals. And occasional Attillaesque throat noises, though think more Tormentor than his subsequent, even quirkier Mayhem and solo style.

In some ways, you could consider them almost doom or occult rock, in the vein of Hour of 13, perhaps…but it’s more evil sounding, like they’d been listening to All the Witches Dance and Anno Domini on repeat for a few months straight.

And this comes out of Mexico? Damn…

Two killer releases already…let’s see what else the label has for us, shall we?

PIRKAN – S/T digiCD (Sun & Moon Records) (March 15) 

Somewhere between pagan folk of the sort Steeleye Span, Pentangle and Fairport Convention used to unearth and put their own stamp on and the far quirkier sounds of Turkey and the Tibetan steppes comes this odd Hungarian neofolk act, incorporating everything from hurdy gurdy to throat singing.

Essentially, if you’ve heard the excellent recent Lord Wind album The Forest is my Kingdom (and if you haven’t, what the hell’s wrong with you? It’s really good!) you’ve got a fair idea of what to expect…but then tag in even stranger instrumentation, some keyboard emphases and a further Eastern feel that suggests everything from Moroccan desert music and busy marketplaces with snake charmers to sherpas, mountain climbing and Yeti, and there you go.

Definitely one of the more interesting neofolk albums I’ve had come across the desk…too quirky and regional for Prophecy, perhaps? But certainly in that general ballpark.

Leiru – Ido (Sun & Moon Records) (March 15)

Question: what would you get if you crossed thrash metal guitars…think demo quality Bay Area, here…with grunge style vocals, most akin to Gavin Rossdale and Bush?

Answer: this frankly bizarre Hungarian act, who come off like a stoned former slacker taking the mic with his son’s garage band. As recorded on something just above a vintage boom box, quality wise.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the somewhat depressive Bush meets Afghan Whigs (perhaps with a hint of Vile Valo and H-I-M, even) 90’s approach of the vocalist and how utterly screwed up it comes off paired with the angry, crunchy Marshall stack with a cheap distortion pedal jacked mids heavy 80’s thrash riffing.

It’s actually fairly unique as a combination, and definitely a conversation piece you’ll want to pull out to show jaded musico pals. Wait…you won’t believe this mashup!

But it didn’t set me on fire otherwise…it’s a purely intellectual flirtation and a pleasant listen in the end.