Anti - The Insignificance of Life

27 de dez de 2009

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Anti - The Insignificance of Life

If there’s one thing I hate about my own reviews, it’s that editing one’s own work is incredibly hard. Just when I thought I wrote something perfectly, and I edited out all the sentences that don’t make sense, the misspelled words and common grammatical errors, I’ll skim by a post that’s been up for a day or too, and then argh! How does Cosmo Lee get it right posting the first time?! To those people wondering why they see mistakes in my work, I hope this sheds a bit of light on the situation. That and probably the lack of sleep.
This marks my last raw black metal review from the Obscure Abhorrence package I got, and I think I’ve saved the best for last. This time, the treble-label guitars aren’t so washed out and completely weakened by lack of midrange or bass. True, they contain very little of anything resembling bass, but the do at least contain a hinting of midrange to add a slight bit more power, and they’re clear! There’s the odd clean tone in most of the songs which really provides a good break to the action. I can also hear an actual bass hiding in there! The drum machine used seems like it’s been recorded and tweaked to the point to match real drums in both playing style and tuning (although drum machines can never get that high-hat sound right). In fact, the production actually doesn’t seem so bad, which is why the distorted vocals coming from that abandoned mineshaft actually seem a bit out of place.

The title song on this EP might open up quickly, but the rest of “The Insignificance Of Lift” is slow and depressing. Sure it’s full of tremolo picked chords to the point where if you hear a distorted guitar, that’s all that’s being played, but they’re done to a point where there’s a hint of something catchy flowing underneath everything. ANTI doesn’t quite work their wares to sound like a mixture of doom and black metal, but I think the suicidal point is driven home.

Original review at http://www.metalinjection.net/

Depressive Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Obscure Abhorrence Productions
January 18th, 2006

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Teutoburg Forest - Chao Ab Ordo

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Teutoburg Forest - Chao Ab Ordo

Black Metal, Experimental
, UK
Full-length, Self
2008

Thyrfing - Hels Vite

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Thyrfing - Hels Vite

In true Viking fashion, Sweden's Thyrfing have soldiered on despite massive lineup changes and uncertainty over the band's future. Latest effort Hels Vite reflects this, cloaking the band's epic and militant sound in the shadows of night. Like a longboat braving treacherous waters, Hels Vite is powerful and brawny, an exemplar of Viking metal's stark majesty.

For starters, metalheads seeking more boisterous fare a la Turisas will quickly realize Vite navigates choppier seas. Clocking in at a hefty 51 minutes, it is also an arduous journey. Avoiding the borderline self-parody of other Viking metal bands, Thyrfing instead cuts a path through the competition with an effort sounding graceful yet violently confident.

Opening cut "En Sista Litania," for example, offers ample proof Vite is wrought in the spirit of hardship and challenge. A melancholy guitar chord runs like a cold water current through the ocean, the pounding riffs flowing again and again like waves. Leading a war chant, the band next launches into stomping metal, rife with blistering riffing and elegantly fingerpicked notes. By song's end, the whole concoction erupts into battle, emerging as a gripping piece of prime Viking metal.

"Frân Stormens Öga," meanwhile, further bear hugs the genre with muscular riffs stretched into a gloomy march of sound. Like a handcrafted battle axe, its simplistic violence works wonders. From soaring choruses sang by the entirety of the band to keyboard washes which chill the pounding metal, "Frân" is one mighty anthem.

Up next is "Isolation," a rousing number which immediately charges through passages of epic metal. Ghostly choirs spar with steely guitars and meticulously devastating percussion, producing an atmosphere of battle under wintry skies. The stark howls constituting the vocals are the icing on the cake, recreating the lonely independence of the warrior in combat.

After this, the album's title track begins with a swirling vortex not unlike a whirlpool. As it progresses, the music evolves into a patient, plodding waterfall of sound, replete with cascades of falling riffs and mournful wails. Bursting from the turbulent seas is a delicate series of guitar notes, soon eradicated in a firestorm of crushing metal. Ending with a moody swell of ambience, "Vite" captures the resoundingly fierce emotions of the album bearing its name.

"Griftefrid" continues along the path of brutality, laying waste with hammering riffs and wild shrieks. Cutting through the song's dense rhythmic crush is an ethereal chorus, drifting upwards like a pagan prayer. Compelling and beautiful, it creates a particularly smashing finale, leaving listeners breathless.

Thankfully, "Becoming the Eye" immediately presents a respite. Tribal drums snake their way through a churning bass line, producing an atmosphere more in line with Tool than Amon Amarth. When all Hell breaks loose, however, the song reveals complex tremolo-melodies sounding worthy of Enslaved. The end result is a labyrinthine rocker, full of twists and turns.

Last but not least is the cold splendor of "Tre Vintrar - Tvâ Solar." Frosty piano keys wind through gloomy bass notes, instantly creating an atmosphere of darkest winter. Interestingly enough, the song never leaves this mournful morass, ending the album on a sinister note not unlike unexpected death on the field of slaughter.

If there is one gripe I have hosted towards Viking metal, it is how the genre rarely conjures up the appropriate image of Viking culture. Always absent are the isolations of the nomadic lifestyle, the joy and sorrow of war and the evil of earlier ages, blatantly unkind towards all men. Dark, harsh and vast in scope, Hels Vite captures these emotions perfectly. Thyrfing remain champions of Viking metal, and Hels Vite will go down in history as one more crown jewel, albeit a little bit murkier than the rest.


by Mark Hensch in
http://www.rocknworld.com/thrashpit/

Viking Metal, Sweden
Full-length, Regain
October 22nd, 2008

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Undivine - A Deceitful Calm

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Undivine - A Deceitful Calm

It’s finally here, the debut album by Undivine. It was ages ago since I first heard they were recording it, and it’s been delayed for reasons unknown to me. Delayed for so long that they’ve even had time to record their second album before the first one even got released. Let’s hope that one doesn’t take as long to hit the streets.

Compared to their demo "A deceitful calm" has got a slightly more melodic edge to it. And the vocals have also changed a bit, sounding much like those of Sacramentum; meaning harsh and raw screams with an undertone of gurgle, hehe. Sacramentum would also be a fair comparison music-wise, if you blend in Dissection and a touch of Lord Belial.

Undivine is a collection of seriously talented lads, as some riffs are almost orgasmic. The entire song "In lust and disgust" is one long set of mesmerizing riffage, combined with trance-inducing vocals. The tunes are so skillfully written it’s extremely hard to believe it’s a debut. And no matter the speed I’m always nodding and stomping along. And speaking of speed, I’m surprised to have some of their slower material as favourites, like for instance "In lust and disgust" and "Catholic". However, I’m in no way negative towards their killer blasting counterpart "The cleansing", which possesses an amazing guitar solo.

The musicianship is flawless, as well as the full and warm sound of the recording. The only thing I don’t like about this album is the spoken vocals in the beginning of "My silence", as it has some form of metalcore-ish vibe about it. But trust me, this is an album of powerful melodic death/black metal.

Originally written for http://www.mylastchapter.net

Black/Death Metal, Sweden
Full-length, Aural Offerings Records
June 20th, 2008

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Walknut - Graveforests and Their Shadows

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Walknut - Graveforests and Their Shadows

Pure, unadulterated, raw, atmospheric. I would leave the review at that. Nothing else. But that is not doing it justice. This is so awe-inspiring and the impression this Russian duo's first release leaves is so indelible that I have to fight the urge to leave the review at "amazing".

«Graveforests and Their Shadows» is one of the strongest and most depressive releases to hit black metal in a very long time. Pulling the doom inspired ten-minute drones, Walknut's first release, at only six tracks (two could be considered an intro and outro, though not labeled as such), will leave your eyes watering and body covered in goosebumps. I do not get this emotional about anything. I cannot do this album justice with my trite words. Listen to it. If there is any fiber of your being that yearns for something new, mournful, bleak, completely encompassing, overwhelming and graceful... go listen. I will not liken them to any previous works, although they liken themselves to black metal giants Burzum and Strid.

Stringsskald and Ravnaskrik have made a masterpiece here and I will say that without hesitation. Epic and raw with interludes of the blackest vocals. Evoking an image of a fir grove in the December moonlight on the harsh Russian steppe, glowing after a fresh snow fall. Amazing. They have set the bar high with this as their first release, and featuring members of Temnozor and Forest, I don't think we could have expected much less.

Original review at http://www.chroniclesofchaos.com/reviews/

Atmospheric Black Metal
, Russia
Full-length, Stellar Winter Records
April 24th, 2007

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Purest - Renascence

26 de dez de 2009

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Purest - Renascence

Intense and dangerous dose of freezing blackened metal in 90´s devotion and recycling of typical gestures and aggression. Raw, but not excessively dependant on extra lo-fi non-production to hide lack of talent or ability to create darkness around, by music itself, not necessarily the way it is recorded.

What may seem like not much more than a copy of certain tendencies within extreme metal grows with successive auditions, specificity and cohesion along the entire recording becomes evident. Not that those influences are disguised or hidden, they are clear and clearly assumed. “Nekrolog” resembles in a direct way “Black Ash Snowfall” by USBM big name Krieg, itself a revisitation of northern black metal via brutality and minimalism, and there could be much more examples where the roots could be traced from the exhaustion of some structures, melodies or themes evoked, be it the typical Norwegian morbidity or some more extreme, elitist images and words (Darker Than Black is known for having released material from such names as Thor´s Hammer or Kristallnacht in the past, although I don´t believe that is essential for the review itself).

Less dependent on velocity, in comparison to the previous example, or some of those elder names here exhumed, but with enough rhythmic variations and adjustment of ideas, to keep an interest on the dynamics here proposed, even if most of its music dwells around a riff or variation of that riff. Melodic, but savage and piercing, blending the blood with the might.

Not particularly original, but done with such devotional style that makes most of the clichés sound as genuine doses of musical and semi-mythological revisitations of an era. Cold and grim, but still powerful and well-executed, modern, but never sounding forced to contemporacy.

Original review at http://www.heathenharvest.com/

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Darker Than Black
January 2008

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Skagos - Ást

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Skagos - Ást

Black Metal, Canada
Full-length, Eternal Warfare
March 30th, 2009

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Orlog - Elysion

8 de dez de 2009

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Orlog - Elysion

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Det Germanske Folket
October 24th, 2008

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Endstille - Navigator

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Endstille - Navigator

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Twilight-Vertrieb
August 1st, 2005

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Ruins (Aus) - Cauldron

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Ruins (Aus) - Cauldron


This is the new Ruins album, nominally a Black Metal unit from Hobart Tasmania, who have paved a path for themselves that strays past the majority of the local BM underground. For this as well as the general uneasiness with which the Black and Death Metal scenes eye each other, I think their work has been panned by the Black Metallers, myself including. And whilst previous efforts had some moments of a questionable quality, which may have justified a dismissal, I must admit that listening to them now, I cannot wholeheartedly do so as that would be an unfair manner in which to treat on this artist’s, as a whole, compelling work.
Firstly, the Black Metal generalization is inaccurate. Undeniably, BM is the basis, but there are too many elements here that originate in jazz or rock to label this band purely a BM one and so misrepresent what they are trying to do here. Secondly the album sounds much more solid due to Ruins having finally located a formula for reconciling the showy drums and the weird guitars, with neither struggling for attention at the forefront and instead taking their own place in the mix.

There is an odd strumming/picking technique that is used in conjunction with some of the drifting song structuring on Cauldron, and I cannot say I have heard it elsewhere. It was present on previous works and whilst it immediately distinguished the band from contemporaries, I think at times it was overdone. This album employs just enough of it to make the songs sound strangely atmospheric with obscure structures propelling the pieces through climax to completion. There is also very pleasing use of downstroke guitar and linear (as opposed to syncopated) rhythmic patterns that remind me of Darkthrone and in conjunction with the groaned vocals – new Celtic Frost. In parts this is a very rocky album and will provide you with some headbanging pleasure when done live.

The lyrics still annoy me a bit. The style is sparse and allegorical, but this usually results in their meaning being too close to meaninglessness, although there is some interesting correlation of Egyptian and Sumerian mythology to the Bible as well as just stark poetic passages that contribute to the overall detached and gloomy atmosphere on this album.

I think that in terms of purism, this works shines not, but having forgotten about that and Celtic Frost, one can find a lot to enjoy here. I recommend it to fans of modern Black Metal.

Originally published in Procession of Black Doom zine #2

Black Metal, Australia
Full-length, Debemur Morti Productions
March 1st, 2008

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