Ne Obliviscaris - The Aurora Veil

9 de out de 2009

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Ne Obliviscaris - The Aurora Veil

On a global scale, Australia has been home to mostly lacklustre bands in recent years who offer little considerably unique in the metal field, with the exception of a handful of bands such as The Amenta, Elysian Blaze and a few others. This period may be drawing to a close, for a new band has emerged quite unlike any other before it from Australia or anywhere else in the world.

Gathering a cult following before even releasing this, their first demo (initially slated to be their debut EP), Ne Obliviscaris hail from Melbourne, a city renowned for its deep culture of music and the arts. Such a rich environment provides a natural backdrop for the short history of these young highly talented musicians.

"The Aurora Veil" opens with explosive drumming courtesy of Daniel 'Mortuary' Presland, and tightly executed Black Metal, puncutated with Xenoyr's slicing, sharp snarls. Don't become too too comfortable with this - only a handful of bars in, there is an unexpected turn: blossoming colours of timechanging and arpeggiated structures arrive akin to the heralding of a new Spring season, accentuated by a Pizzicato (plucking of a violin), before taking a short return to the frenzied Black Metal basis, however this time framed by Xenoyr's Death Metal growls and a strong falsetto (executed so beautifully that one could mistake it for a female midrange register) by violinist and clean vocalist Tim Charles.

Only one and a half minutes into one song, and already the band has combined three different styles into their composition while firmly providing strong colours throughout their delivery. This very trait provides a (paradoxically) simple, basic expression to the Ne Obliviscaris musical character, for what is to come is unique in Black Metal, or any style of metal for that matter.

Movements of almost Bach-like nature (think along the lines of "Works for Lute BWV 995-997"), voiced with a flamenco tongue herald sweeping violin bowstrokes, evoking a weeping, emotionally saturated dirge. It's difficult trying to keep your eyes dry during these sections of the recording. The technique is a powerful emotional tool, executed like few bands have the capability to do. When one expects to hear it again in another song, it is perhaps voiced through a blend of almost gypsy-like folk, which melds into metal. Truly ingenious, highly creative and unpredictable.

These movements, however, unveil the definitive and unqiue character of Ne Obliviscaris' music: the inclusion of violin is nothing new in Metal: one of the most famous bands to use violins was none other than My Dying Bride, and the instrument has since been taken up by countless cloned gothic doom bands since. None however, have used the instrument's voice in its true virtuosic form and this is exactly what Ne Obliviscaris have achieved here, and for what could be the first time in Metal history. Instead of the two virtuso being guitarists, one is instead a violinist. The result is a beautiful and vibrant spectra of pale colours, combined with a powerful shift back and forth between virtuoso violin and guitars. It is mindnumbing at how effective this method is, how natural it sounds.

A wise young friend said to me recently, that most bands, especially at their humble beginnings, have a weak link - be it songwriting, musicianship, or dedication. With Ne Obliviscaris there is truly none. The only thing which can possibly come close is the (barely) audible trait of a bands' youth but that is all. Given their upcoming album, it is highly conceivable that any trace of youthful songwriting will disappear quickly, to be replaced by the more evolved version of the already powerful maturity and depth that the band exhudes.

Each member of the band is a master of their instrument. Both guitarists, Matt Klavins and Corey King, play emotionally, aggressively, and classically. Bassist Brendan 'Cygnus' Brown's playing covers a large range of his fretboard, evident in diverse structures throughout the songs, and he also plays with blistering speed in the opening song "Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract". Drummer Daniel 'Mortuary' Presland's playing is perhaps the most solid Black Metal styled drumming heard yet from an Australian band, he handles timechanges and consistency of speed with great confidence. These musicians, along with Xenoyr and Tim Charles, combine to form a band of formidable unity and strength, and the best part of their journey is that it has only just begun.

"The Aurora Veil" is a stunning commencement to what will surely be an amazing forthcoming career. There is no doubt that Ne Obliviscaris will lead Australia's metal reputation to great heights in the coming years, and I, among many others, will watch with wide eyes for this band to ascend to the Pacific metal throne on the back of this stunning and beautiful debut release.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Progressive Black Metal, Australia
Demo, Self-Released
April 21st, 2007

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Thorngoth - Rauhnacht

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Thorngoth - Rauhnacht

Germans Thorngoth have improved from Thelema of Destruction, this being their second album. Eight hymns of foreboding yet triumphant black metal, about as pure as you can get before being crushed into dust. Original they are not, but they have sharpened this blade to a fine edge.

"Curse Them" begins with a crushing wall of hostility, then collapses into a mid-paced Bathory groove with a tasteful lead. "Kill for Paradise" alternates between blasting black punk and slower, discordant Norse riffing. "Schiachperchten" has a savage yet longing bridge. "Der Wanderer" is your perfectly pure, mid-paced black metal glory. "Nihilistic Visions" begins with an acoustic lick, then an evil, driving track worthy of Marduk or Dark Funeral. "Salvation in Silence" is beautiful, with subtle leads, my favorite on the album after the first few listens. The final track "Still, von Ewigkeit" is a longing, slower piece, somber and fulfilling.

In the end, Rauhnacht oozes class. The album sounds fantastic, a balanced mix fully expressed in both the rhythm and leads. Akhorahil has a suitably daemonic rasp to marinate each track in evil. Yet, one can't help but feel that the album overall also emanates a profound sorrow. Along with recent Lunar Aurora, Dark Fortress, Eternity, Wolfsschrei, and others, one can't help but feel Germany is developing the most potent black metal scene in the world.

Originally written by AUTOTHRALL for "From the Dust Returned" Blog

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Folter Records
2008

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Wolfhetan - Entruckung

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Wolfhetan - Entruckung

Wolfhetan’s debut album Entrückung is a rare little gem perhaps a bit rough or uneven for the general listener and hence woefully overlooked. In general it seems that often the metal scene and its various adherents routinely overlook that which is serene and monumental in epic austerity. Often the best pagan metal bands are overshadowed by those that strike out to be more KVLT, more Viking, more technical masturbatory, or what have you, but it is the simple yet momentous elements that made the early work of Drudkh, Gorgoroth and even Ulver legendary.

Having read a few reviews of this magnanimous record elsewhere, I could not help but think that the reviewers were caught between ending one video game and getting the next to fill their ADHD prattled existences. Those kind of people who demand to be “wowed” at ever minute (hell every second) and are lead around by whims of fancy that never last for any real length of time as they are ever lead by golden carrots everywhere are regrettably far too many and too often lend their voices to obfuscate critical attention to those projects that offer real worth. Alas…

That aside, what strikes me about this record are the elements and harmonies that slowly build up and release then build up again; the traversing of a journey or the slow unfolding of a story arch that by the end leads to a shattering conclusion. This kind of epic story writing is in place with this record. Sure the first time I heard it was not riveted at every turn, or floored by the technically prowess or recording style. There were no blazing solos or complex overdubs of leads and counter leads like epic power metal but I very much appreciated each part as it developed; its transitions and melodies, its quiet folk parts and eruptions of blasting mayhem. By the end I was haunted by them still and various elements rushed back to me, not in a dazzling, blinding brilliance but as an emotional exegesis, as specter, or perhaps best described as ancestral memories flooding back to me. Returning home and the warm feel of the hearth, the pleasant murmur that one feels when returning to the forest, entering the canopy and the smell of the earth.

I mention the bands above because one can hear similarities to with this release, Gorgoroth’s Gorgoroth from Antichrist with its simple epic clean vocals and breaks mixed with kvlt black metal. One also can hear austere harmonies as those from Drudkh’s Autumn Aurora and Forgotten Legends, and of course Ulver’s Bergtatt. All roads lead back to Bergtatt and the Trilogy. These are very good references, but this project by the bass player of Odal should not be considered derivative by any means. It stands on its on feet proud, head held aloft. Perhaps on a solitary path, but others, kindred to this path should seek others, track this down and enjoy its majesty.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Irminsul Records
February 12th, 2006

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Verhern - Verhern

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Verhern
- Verhern

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” or “First impressions are everything.” Two expressions that contrast one another and two stereotypes that define the two differential sections of the metal world, when it comes to the fans, at least. Like policing systems, its hard for the average metal fan, particularly the black metal fan, not to work around some sort of offender profiling whereby the listener has these two contrasting methods of judging a band. One will assess the accessibility of the band by seeing how easy it is to find information about them, what sort of band ties that have, if there’s any associated bands that already blow our socks off, and all sorts of methods for working out whether or not a band is worthwhile listening it. Sometimes its easy to work on the basis on conjoining the two stereotypes, and this works in regards to Verhern, an obscure black metal band from the productive German territories. This three piece band seem traditional enough. No keyboardist, just two guitarists, one bassist and one percussionist. Of course, there is a clichéd rasping vocalist, too. The lack of information instantly addresses the listener with a traditional profile. Obscure, mystical and unhelpful in terms of providing any source of information surrounding the band. There isn’t even a band picture of the members. This is obscure.

Thankfully, I’ve dealt with bands like this before and I, myself, am beginning to build up an image of this band and what their sound is like. However, as the first expression tells us not to do - do not judge a book by its cover, despite the fact that often, first impressions are everything. Generally speaking, the latter expression applies more so to the instrumentation than it does the outside influences like the band members, associations with other bands and record labels and pictures, but to a lesser degree. The latter most certainly must be applied here to the instrumentation because, even though I was surprised by the content, it is, generally speaking, very productive. This self-titled piece begins precisely as I would have expected - whirlwind black metal based on the idea of forcing atmosphere on everything, including the listener. Although my attention was not fixated on the band at first, believing this to be just another obscure entity who’s sound is similar to that of 90% of the bands aiming to rejuvenate the old school in the modern day scene, I was wrong. This band has a lot of charm to them, despite the annoying habit of shrouding themselves in mystery. It would be nice, and perhaps useful for the listener to know who exactly operates within this band. Associated bands don’t really give us much of a hint as what to expect with only the drummer being present in other bands, most notably Purest, whom I have heard before.

The best comparison I can muster is with fellow German band Kargvint. In fact, their sounds are almost identical the more I think about it. This leads me to believe profiling works within music, too. For example, each scene, including the German scene, works around similar ideas unless we’re dealing with highly avant-gardé bands who seek to rid the scene of stereotypes. Let it be known, not all clichés are bad things. The fact that Germany has a black metal identity in the underground that is similar between many bands more so than not isn’t a negative reflection. Kargvint’s style of hypnotic haze can be likened to outside factors - think Velvet Cacoon for your most obvious, well known example. The style is primarily based around the guitars - which are usually the most important element of black metal soundscapes anyway, in a general sense. Of course, it can differentiate from the normal, formulaic standard, but it rarely does and when it does, people often cower away from the unknown, calling it inane instead of brave and courageous. Experimentation is acceptable within black metal, yes, but usually within a certain frame. Fans don’t generally want to hear power metal styled vocals in black metal bands, though that might be interesting to hear. They want the bass to affect the ground work more, or subtle elements to flow like a slow stream, somewhere high up in the mountain tops where no one can visibly take notice of it unless they specifically look for it.

The elements that can be called experimental need to be small enough to fit perfectly into the soundscapes without ruining the true essence of the band. Bands like Verhern, who’s self-titled debut does that, and Kargvint work around a national identity that allows them to sound similar, whilst fixating the listener on their own individual methods of subtle play. For example, the bass on this record is more visible than on the majority of Kargvint’s work, or even Velvet Cacoon’s work. Though the fuzzy mist of the distorted guitars still reigns supreme, these subtle elements that add menace to the musical interpretations are quintessential to the overall sound. Whether this is a method used by a band as well known as Velvet Cacoon, or as obscure as Verhern, its just as important. Take songs like ‘Ruinen Toter Existenz’ as the prime example of this. One guitarist generates the whirlwind affect that Kargvint supplement into their music, whilst the other plays a cleaner style alongside the slowly entrancing bass. This combinational style is classic, but you have to ask yourself why that is. Because it is so affective. This band, on the surface of things, sound like any other, but when you take them apart and evaluate their sections piece by piece, you will come to realise, like I did, that they’re accomplished musicians and capable of deceiving because of that fact. Do not judge this book by its over.

Original review at: http://metal-archives.com/

Black Metal, Germany
Full-length, Fimbul Prod./Eternity Rec.
August 8th, 2008

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