REVIEWS: By Janet Willis.
Stay tuned for an announcement regarding MF's future for the rest of the year and beyond.
Ophidian Forest/Haeresiarchs of Dis – Darkest Origins Split CD (UW Productions 2012)
Well the split lives up to its title with both bands infusing new blood into some of their unreleased and classic songs remixed that definitely, given the nature of both bands, represent their mystical and occult roots. Ophidian Forest reminds me of a blend of early Satyricon and a VERY raw Summoning on a superficial level. They first deliver the symphonic “Densest Green” , an 8-minute raspy vocals and blistering echoing power chords amidst a phantom mist. You can’t really get more old school black metal than “Densest Green”, “Fear Bloody Wings” , and “Verschwiegenheit”…this stuff will freeze your soul in an instant, especially the vocals on “Fear Bloody Wings” , which almost literally feel as though they are some paranormal sermon evaporating as spoken. With Ophidian Forest there’s just this intangible texture to them is spectral and cold, AND beyond physicality. Although Ophidian Forest only contribute three out of thirteen songs on here, they still consume roughly 30 minutes of life as they suck out your soul leaving the mind and body in a limbo of confusion.
The majority of the nine HoD songs on this split, the first four of which are remixed from the earlier Dis demo, represent a more heavy crunching guitar rhythm tendency that reminds me of the raging pulses and tones of Horna’s Sotahuuto, early to Blood Fire Death era Bathory, Dethroned Christ, etc. That true Heavy Metal meets black metal sledgehammer riffing combination of tinny and distorted early heavy metal rhythms with speed and thrash afflictions creating a vortex that is as nasty and maniacal as say Blood Feast, and even bypassing buzzing swarms of just power chords cranked up on treble for flesh stripping leads and actual rhythm progressions that embody “Kill”.
“Black Prophecies” is a good example of that just said, as is “Choas Plague”, which really breaks up into an avalanche of addicting rhythms sort like Immortal’s “Cryptic Winterstorms” or “Call of the Wintermoon” with the lead guitar portions and vocals laid out in the front of the mix giving them an extra sonic kick and clarity that really gives it a vicious punch. Cernunnos (HoD) has not lost his touch for atmospherics though: “Manifestation” is a classic semi-raw melodic atmospheric storm that will invoke flashbacks of Denunciatus Cinis, but still builds on that template; “Wolfmoon” is a brief keyboard instrumental soaked in weird electronic analog effects like a clip to a classic made-for-tv horror film; “Blood and Souls” is a strange analog horror ambient that sounds like an EVP during a paranormal investigation with some weird organ in the background; and the grand infernal ending of “Circle of Sodomy” with that Emperor meets cleaner production sound and feel, including clean chanting vocals, that adhere the haunting elements together into a possession of the mind as much as the condemned soul. “Circle of Sodomy” is also re-recording of “3rd Movement: Circle” from his Overture debut, which I will have to pick up in the near future.
With this split Cernunnos intended to revisit and reinvest life into his early work and Demo period and ,in my honest opinion, was his best period judging from what I’ve heard of them now and in original form. HoD should also have another full-length, Thirty-Eighth Sermon of the Unborn, out this fall as well so grab this one…and that one…and the Demo….AND Overture if you don’t have it either!!!! Ophidian Forest’s essentiality is self evident, i.e. MUST HAVE.
Ataraxy – Revelations of the Ethereal (Memento Mori)
Ataraxy are a young Spanish Death Metal band with a prior sold out EP Curse of the Requiem Mass (Memento Mori 2010) and now their first full-length Revelations of the Ethereal has been cut loose this month. I’ve been listening to this one for two days straight and am completely infected to the point of being ridden with disease from their sheer ferocity which stems from a take on the old Finnish and Swedish Death Metal Scenes (two of my favorites) with their own gruesome touch to stake claim in the cadaverous death metal soil.
As expected given the whole Finnish/Swedish mention the physicality of the sound here is indeed punishing, but unlike other classic death metal styles that may go more for a thrash whiplash or a blackened flagellation in tone and delivery, the punishment inflicted by Ataraxy is that of being buried alive by molten lava = Incinerating, heavy, flesh searing, bone evaporating evil spewing from Hell below. The vocals remind me of a mixture of Paul Speckman (Master, Deathstrike,etc.) and hints of Chuck Schuldiner. As for the rest of the band, they have the stylistic imprints of classic death metal across the board from Swedish beasts, Finnish ghouls, to the U.S. masters…Ataraxy don’t imitate they emulate Death Metal bestiality so don’t expect anything less than mandatory death metal here!!!!
This release just came out in September and Hells Headbangers has their two other EP’s, Rotten Shit and Curse of the Requiem Mass, so check them out periodically for this to appear in their catalogue otherwise it’s an import at ridiculous Euro prices if you’re in the Americas, but still worth it. If these guys were around in the early 90’s they’d be legends so why not give ‘em that deserved status now as they still annihilate most others out there today anyway?
Bestia Arcana – To Anabainon ek tes Abyssu (Daemon Worship Productions 2012 )
Originally set for release back in 2008 but ended up buried beneath the rubble of the disintegrated label, the resurrection of this true entity of ruin and disharmony by Daemon worship Productions couldn’t be more fitting. The album opens up with the chaotic delirium of “Cup of Babylon”, and what a way to start out this psychotic and surreal journey through the foul and dissonant fuzz storm that is Bestia Arcana. Initially it explodes with angular guitar assaults and what sounds like actual explosions as the gates of purgatory burst forth unleashing a whirlwind of insanity that shall not be uttered as it is cursed such as the names in the book of the dead. The vocals are deep vicious growls behind the mix of barbed wire jagged lesions of lead shredding and the bombastic “booms” in the background heralding absolution through mortal destruction, then about halfway into the song the shift changes to a sprawling holocaust of dark psychedelic atmospheric black metal not unlike the scorching and suffocating atmospheres heard on the second Twilight album a few years back, before bursting back into the diesel powered barrage of buzzing riffs and horrendous inhuman growls. And that’s literally “just the beginning”, Bestia Arcana are like the Roman legions storming through Judea leaving nothing but rivers of blood and blazing infernos.
“The Poison of Mannaseh” comes in as sort of the middle chapter after the fires have started and blood has been shed with a constant and unrelenting buzz of death and some haunting atmospherics in the background to amplify the desolation and misery to a climactic turning point before leading into the dark ambient alien rumble of “The Pit of She-ohl”
“Feverwind” brings back treble buzzing, but the density and violence has been lifted like a veil over the mutilated corpse that was humanity and their habitats revealing the horrors that befell during “Cup of Babylon”. The percussion is ritualistic and smooth throughout this bastardized cinematic cascade that literally unravels horrors that the Holy can’t even bear to fathom. I can almost see a figure drenched in blood uttering the weird schizophrenic vocals of the “Feverwind” in gruesome indecipherable phrases as it walks out from the fire and the shrieks of the people burning alive bring a smile upon it’s face.
“Shepherd of Perdition” is a return to the disharmonic “melodies” and lunatic ranting growls of the start of the grand massacre, now combined with symphonic elements and some chaotic outbursts as the bringer of death praises and rejoices in various further acts of defiling the remains.
Albums like this are further evidence that evil is born and not just bred, but also a reminder that black metal has not lost it’s ability to convey pure horror so approach this one with caution, it just might incinerate you on contact. Others may claim to be the real deal, but this one is the true form of Hells horrors as imagined by the so-called righteous that keep them pissing themselves in fear and wavering hypocrisy, if this is Hell then it certainly lives up to it’s reputation.
Death Ghidrah – Rebirth of Devastation (Subhumanoid Soundscapes 2012)
Sci-fi/industrial mastermind Ray Rivera, also behind such notable black metal/noise/power electronics atrocities such as: Fellatrix Morgue, Putrescent Fog, and large number of others; brings us this 90’s techno pumping muscular spasm meets sci-fi courtesy of Death Ghidrah. Loaded like a colon at a chili cook-off with cheesy 50’s and 60’s sci-fi film samples and alien apocalypses accompanied by an electro/techno base, this Demo is explosive and deadly, but certainly not silent (….had to make a fart joke there).
“All Resistance is Useless” is a throbbing plasma of well placed Atari-like detroit/berlin electro/techno beats and sci-fi horror with a slight nod to Eye Gouging Mayhem (that same individual responsible for EGM is also responsible for this monstrous damage).
“Rebirth of Devastation” is an electronic powerhouse of rhythmic pulses and robotic percussion with classic sci-fi horror film clips sampled and mixed in with the arcade hubbub of squiggly bleeps and blurps with an almost 80’s –early 90’s industrial feel (Front 242, Frontline Assembly, Cabaret Voltaire, Revolting Cocks).
The third and final licking from the Ghidrah is “Nuclear Pulse”, a song that fits the same MO as the prior two, leaves me feeling cheated in that I just get into the groove and then it’s OVER!!!!! Aside from the shortness of Rebirth… this is nonetheless essential and I REALLY look forward to hearing a full length from this new project of his in the near future.
Hellige – Demo ( Kunsthauch Promo Series 2012)
This Argentinean band was sent to me by the incipient Argentinean label, Witness Hell Productions, whose sole proprietor is involved in the long running death metal band Prion and this alongside a few other intense listenings has already made my essential black metal releases of 2012. This Demo is brutal, epic, monstrous, well-produced, well-written, unique, stand on it’s own and takes your head off with rusted pruning shears in the blood curdling vocal delivery alone, whereas the rest of the band tortures your soul with their own concoction of metal extremities.
“Degraded to Mortals” is a soul raping opening track!!! The black death doom assault is vicious and revolting, but they crank out some really gritty barbaric doom riffs smothered in death metal tones that morph further into hideous black metal territory.
Next comes “The Rotten Waste” which is truly a magnificent beast!!!! The drums are very crisp and sometimes almost jazzy in their high hat/snare work, the vocals are extreme doom death growl mildewed black and reeking of “rot”; there’s a lot of eerie melody in long, border lining on out-of-tune, stretches of atmosphere that remind me a bit of the angular wailing Deathspell Omega guitar tones, and some claustrophobia inducing moments of bastardizing chaos that makes me think of watching myself as I’m actually burning alive while trapped in my car.
“A Philosopher’s Crown” showcases the similar Hellish atmospheres as it’s predecessors BUT they have this great siren-like guitar lead that I’ve heard in black metal many times before and loved, but it seems to stand out so distinctly on here. The vocals are more blood thirsty apocalyptic black metal than death, but the atmosphere is quick again to deliver a fatal blow of hatred and leaves nothing in question in terms of want or need. If you want something that is as grim as the cryogenic black hordes but as nefarious and cutthroat as death metal can get all combined in a whirlwind cyclone of mile high flames than Hellige is exactly what you seek.
“Obnubilum” is a fourteen-minute hymn to treachery reminding me of what the scene would look like after a nuclear apocalypse. It’s really lonely and simultaneously explosive, sort of like the soundtrack of that moment flashing back through your mind of the bright flashes of light and sudden incinerating heat photographing bodies silhouettes in the surfaces where their, now barely anything but fine ash bodies are strewn as the warhead actually detonated. There’s that sense of isolation, unconceivable horror, and vindication from all of those who died still trying to move on but can’t. The planet is now a haunted burned out Hell still the third eyesore from the sun and this is the sound of its murder and vendetta.
Hellige's Bandcamp site doesn’t specify if this is a self-release or not, but it’s a free download and stream, and it’s a nasty black “perfect storm” of funereal black metal, black death, and black doom. The hard copy can also be bought from the Kunsthauch Label for 5 Euros, which I’d recommend as this is no way an average Demo!!! It also supports the bands and small labels too, which I’m totally honored to work with and buy from.
Hypnosia – Horror Infernal (I Hate Records 2012)
Horror Infernal is a compilation of the bands: “Crushed Existence” Demo ’96, “The Storms 1997” Demo, and “Violent Intensity” EP ’99; that inflicts a sledgehammer blow of malevolent and atrocious thrash that simply reeks of old school death metal with hints of Sodom (including a cover of the immortal anthem “Outbreak of Evil”).
“Crushed Existence” Demo 1996
From the word “go” this Demo begins to dig the knife in with the opening “Crushed Existence” that has a bit of early Mayhem infused with early Sodom that is a buzzing prison raped thrash rhythmic throng with a Swedish death metal tone. The sound of this band is that of a rogue chainsaw wielding psycopath, possessed by a demon, cranked up on crack, on an unstoppable rampage as anything in its path is shredded and/or pulverized as if run over by a tank. The raspy larynx abuse vocals growl and exude pure “NECRO” being inhuman as they are, especially on terrorizing anthems like “Undead”, “Paralyzed By Persecution”, “Threshold of Decay”, and the title track…in other words this entire Demo is a scene of mass murdering chaos. These Swedes also like to throw in some sharp razor blade leads and some short dicing solos to polish off the massacre and truly liquefy thy enemy. Again, there’s a definite Swedish Death Metal tone and intensity to this first 4 song bombardment so expect heavy and punishing unearthly blast and roid rage aggressive tempos as you are physically thrown into the next set of beatings with The Storms Demo opener “The Last Remains”.
“The Storms” Demo 1997
The slaughter continues with the annihilating neck breaker “The Last Remains”, on which the bass tones are subdued on this songs in favor of straight ahead chainsaw buzzing thrash insanity, but they make a come back on “Operation Clean-Sweep” so death thrash fiends will be back orgasmic spasms once again.
For me personally, Crushed Existence got me fired up with its filthy tunes drunk with bloodlust and bitter outrage but the next Demo didn’t feel as nasty and sort of lost me briefly, but it’s mainly due to a lessening of deep throbbing assaults and somehow feeling looser. Thankfully they put me in a chokehold once again with their final assault via the Violent Intensity Mini Album.
“Violent Intensity” Mini Album 1999
Instantly I’m set on fire with the sonic spark of “Haunting Death”, a cleaner thrashy version of “Undead” that still burns like chlorine gas in ones eyes taking a stench of Sodom and twisting it further into depravity. “Perpetual Dormancy” is another stomping thrash tantrum with outstanding nods to death metal including the infamous pig squeal!!!!! The rhythm on “Perpetual Dormancy” sounds like someone being violently and repeatedly stabbed, in other words it’s a soundtrack to a fit of homicidal rage. The murderous sadism and nitrous powered tempos continue to unleash the sounds invoking the apex of human committed atrocities with “Mental Terror” and the shrieking leads of “The Storms”.
The album is available in the U.S. through Shadow Kingdom (and “no” I don’t work for them, although I spend my paychecks on that damn site), Hells Headbangers, and probably many other label store/distros. I love this label (I Hate) and have been lucky and honored to be able to work with them closely for a few years. Please check them out if you haven’t already and look into some of their catalog, they release nothing but solid metal releases that they stand by 100%, not what sells at the current moment.
Inborn Suffering – Regression To Nothingness (Solitude Productions 2012)
This Russian Label (Solitude Productions) just turned 7 and is not only reliable and a major force in extreme doom and melodic dark metal, but consistently finds the best and the more progressive acts in these styles ranging from the Slavic regions all the way to Brazil and everywhere in between. Inborn Suffering is no exception to that statement as this French band has been around and established for a number of years now and with this recent release they definitely raise the bar for aggressive and melodic metal acts to follow.
With all of the genre/style names out there it’s become a clusterfuck to describe bands like Inborn Suffering so for sake of respect and reality I’m going to avoid doing so. The vocals are distinctly death metal, abysmal and throaty, and also heavily burdened with emotional distress, but the sound is more angry than depressive and even the clean vocal passages are more poetic and narrative then weepy and suicidal. With song titles such as “Born Guilty”, “Self Contempt Kings”, and the title track “Regression to Nothingness” along with the promoted description of being Doom Death one instantly gets the idea that it’s a self loathing gothic saga full of long drawn out chords and droning drowning misery with little tempo and basically exhausting. Nothing could be farther from the truth though.
Much of this album is a cranking machine of dark insanity, revenge, and bitterness. To tell the truth, I first listened to this one while reading criminology case files on serial killers and the release actually seemed appropriate to the reading. The atmosphere throughout the album is HEAVY, like the burden of guilt and internal struggle between vindication and need for mental and emotional freedom. The opener “Slumber Asylum” really starts this album off strong with an obliterating density in sound and feeling as they shuffle between full force rhythmic trampling and melodic breaths of space and reason. Other knockout songs like “Born Guilty” continue to instantaneously come in swinging with a brutal tempo like a couple of good slugs to the jaw and continues the iron fisted flogging for a grizzly 11 minutes of bi-polar and pseudo psychotic mood swings. One moment you’re cold cocked with bass toned death metal riffing, the next you’re bleeding out to a morbid melodic/epic doom serenade rejoicing your demise with vocals of lunatic howling over you, then you’re last miserable moments are celebrating with a few esoteric lead guitar shreds and an epic continuation of this bestial rant. This pattern repeats throughout the song keeping you both interested and actually involved throughout the progression.
“Born Guilty” makes me think of a guilty murderous conscience, someone who’s struggling within themselves between the “moral idiot” staring at the hanging body they just squeezed the life out of and their human regret still slightly present screaming from within their subconscious. The siren-like lead guitar melody that wails from within the mix just adds that extra detail necessary to push the aspect of lonely misery and emotional struggle within oneself.
“Grey Eden” plays out like the aftermath of the bloodbath. The morose, almost gothic/funereal spoken word intro that reeks of spilled blood and regret that suddenly drops into a deep abyss of hatred and denial with a flood of melodic but destructive melodies and rhythmic assaults such as the last drop of blood wringed out through “Born Guilty”.
“Apotheosis” is yet another song on here that combines the confusion of morals and nature with the siren guitar leads which literally slits both the throat and wrist, they’re just that sharp and distinct, but a more philosophical and epic, while “Another World” brings back the sadistic mania and blunt force attack to the senses as were experienced firstly through “Slumber Asylum” and “Born Guilty”.
When I received Regression to Nothingness a few days back I honestly had no expectations. I had a nasty case of digestive issues the entire day and a throbbing headache so all I did was read fucked up details of real human perversity and cruelty and gave this one a spin between bathroom trips The next thing I know, I’m sucked into this things gravitational field and suddenly things just came together without rhyme or reason between myself, and this album.
In a genre that is traditionally a special taste for many and known for that as well as it’s overall sound that has a tendency to dominate and smother the variability underneath its cloak of dread, it’s a hell of an achievement to get me hooked like this one did. I haven’t been this strung out on an album from this metal realm since Helllight’s …And then the Light of Consciousness Became Hell. Seriously, if you feel that funeral doom/death doom is a mundane and suffocating genre that leaves you bored or weighed down struggling for breath then Inborn Suffering are a must hear because they blast all that other shit open like a bad case of Typhoid fever does for the stomach juices. Just imagine a blend of classic Amorphis, old Paradise Lost, and Evoken and that’ll be closer to Inborn Suffering than a blanket description.
You can stream both of their releases in their entirety hear:
Their debut full-length Wordless Hope (2006) is also re-issued through Solitude productions. I haven’t heard it in full yet but hope to get to it asap.
Kolp – The Outsider (Temple of Torturous)
The Outsider is the second full-length from the lesser known Hungarian act Kolp, set to destroy the light of day November 12,2012 with an addicting spin on traditional and experimental black metal that’s impressive to say the least. I just heard this album this morning and have managed to not only keep it in play, but intentionally shun all others for the sake of keeping it in motion simply because it’s that good. Kolp take the A-melodic buzzing guitar sound that is standard for black metal and the black macabre psychedelia of Xasthur, add some muscle under the hood with some diesel motor rhythms that occasionally explode out from beneath the clanging percussion and treble sonic haze, freezing poltergeist vocals, and in the end creating an entire alter dimension beyond reality and the penetration of light.
The sound isn’t new, but the way the album feels definitely IS. Songs like the catchy laidback rhythmic sleeper “Drowning” just keep a rhythmic hook going while the feedback washes back and forth like a tide over it. There’s a nice shrill arpeggio melody present as well, but the dominating presence is that main rhythm that just swings like a pendulum back and forth hypnotically while you feel the swoosh of it’s mass getting heavier with each swing. Eventually most the of the air is sucked out of the room leaving one feeling like an air tight black leather hood was suddenly pulled over head and tightened around the next like a noose, that’s how dark and intense Kolp can feel on one of their more atmospheric endeavors. “Interface Has Dissolved” is another addicting hook delivery with an infectious intro that cascades in time with the calm- angry-calm-angry fluctuations in mood and tempo throughout this songs duration keeping both the turmoil and the addictiveness at full strength.
Kolp create something that avoids cliché and drone, creating something that is dark and heartless, gray and desolate just like the cover art but actually is more like a Charnel house or abandoned mental asylum, where there’s a lot more treachery behind the grim and dead exterior than can be seen or even heard and it will get inside you and it will infiltrate your mind for a while. The songs just stick to your skin like thick humid night air comprised of beings that refuse to cross over.
Lord Time – Forgotten Future (Prison Tatt/Universal Consciousness)
Forgotten Future was originally released in ’10 as a cassette on the Universal Consciousness label and is now seeing it’s well deserved vinyl installment in 2012 courtesy of Prison Tatt. In true PT form the MLP is a one sided black record with a silkscreened sleeve, but the artist also threw in a fingerprint of his own blood on the playable side and some drippings on the smooth side to up the ante a bit more.
Please don’t expect anything suicidal and depressive sounding based on the bloodletting, as Lord Time is nothing but purely homicidal and sociopathic and best described as black metal for serial killers. Each song is a morbid blast of sonic blackness, sometimes accompanied by a bludgeoning bass and percussion storm underneath and song structures that are loose but the sound itself is mechanical and inhuman. To me I hear maniacal rants of torture and ecstatic confessions of abhorrent deeds, gritty punkish razor blade guitar shrieks for chords, and no melody whatsoever-just utter necrotic insanity.
If you can stomach the abstract and often harsh sounds of Glass Coffin, Wold, Bloodulv, Smoke, Sutekh Hexen, and Black Funeral with the raw punkish black metal stomp of Dethroned Christ, early Darkthrone, early Immortal… then Lord Time is a solid choice to pick up. Limited to only 200 copies, you’d better get one quick.