Art of Propaganda, 22.07.16
The Austrian duo Harakiri for the Sky are here with their third album. Briefly told, the band plays
post-metal, a genre I've largely grown quite weary of. Yet I heard enough good musical properties and qualities from
the promo to trigger my curiosity enough to investigate a bit further.
Something I can't exactly say I regret, although III: Trauma doesn't provide what's needed to
become a permanent companion for yours trvly. The music's approved, per se, but it's certainly not a must.
M. S. is the man behind the music, both concerning compositions and execution, while J. J.
takes care of everything regarding the lyrical aspect. Both Austrians have a relationship to a quarter dozen other bands in
relating neighbourhoods, both with ties to Schattenlicht and Karg, if any of 'em sounds
The music is atmospheric, melodic and stuffed with surprisingly gentle moods considering the post-black elements that
can be traced, especially in the vocals. The musical elements are also performed with a certain intensity which also
contributes to the contrasts.
The melodies are also rather beautiful and quite melancholic. They still lack the last cold ice on the cake to complete
the memorability. I remember nothing after the listening session, even after many a spin. Whilst spinning, the music
offer a decent experience with some (and somewhat alternating) moods.
These moods, with their mixture of energetic bitterness and black sober Nordic melancholy, sometimes touches upon
antipathy and at times reels toward paganism, where heathens with rugged, weathered face stood eye to eye with the
salty spray of the Atlantic ocean, because it's always been easier to stare than to row. At places, the atmosphere is
strong, dense and flavourful as dark chocolate with chilli, but unfortunately, different sequences also occur to glide
more indifferently past me.
During an entire hour and a quarter, said atmosphere and melody unfortunately isn't enough to keep the ship entirely
afloat. It heels, but it doesn't hit land until after about 80 minutes, and by then the album is finished, and so, it
avoids any disaster.
Something else that alternate (or tilt, to a degree) is the vocals. The distance between genuinely angered rage, to
scream-core (I'll never learn the correct terminology for such ney-metal) can be extremely thin, and J. J.
balances on the razors edge. When he doesn't fall down on the wrong side, that is. He's certainly a bit
beat up, 'cause he sounds pretty irritated to me.
I honestly have to say that this ain't extremely impressive. If you've heard grumpy post-metal emitters before, you've
now got an idea about the concept, but it should be said that the Austrians mixes it all with pretty fresh melodies.
Not fresh as in “particularly rememberable, recognizable or revolutionary”, but as in “nifty, and fairly captivating”.
The melodic part can be ever so nice! Not spellbinding enough for me to declare my resolute credence, though. And when
it comes to this album, I don't know whether the famous lard-knife would come in handy either, because it's not that
much that stands out enough to be remembered.
If the cover provides Agalloch vibes; each of the nine tracks on The Mantle had a stronger characteristic
than any of the eight songs on III: Trauma, in my resolute opinion.
Satanath Records, 06.06.16
Finnish Agathon started Gloomy Grim as a one-man band a little more than 20 years ago,
and I regard the first feeble attempts more as promising than very successful albums. The ensemble soon increased
in numbers and gradually grew in quality, and became known as one of the original horror metal bands. The band is now a
quintet with members from Barathrum, Twilight Ophera, Denigrate, Soulgrind and more.
The band's melodic black metal with symphonic features has always focused on horror, either inspirations have been taken
from film or reality.
After the band's fifth and (till then) most elaborate work, released ten years after their debut, it became silent.
Very quiet indeed. Calm before the storm. The Age Of Aquarius came as torrential blood-rains from
a clear sky. Not just unexpected but unexpectedly good as well.
I'm not going to exaggerate my enthusiasm, but when a band is away from the spotlight for so long, they might as well
take all the time they need, without it making much difference. There are no longer many who'll be excitedly anticipating
new material. With unlimited time at their disposal, the expectations may increase when a new album is announced, and
when Gloomy Grim meet these expectations, it's not all groundless that a sadistic smile spreads within
the twelve o'clock shadow.
With song titles such as The Rise Of The Great Beast, One Night I Heard A Scream,
Light Of Lucifer Shine On Me and Trapped In Eternal Darkness it's apparent that
the band stays on narrow paths with sparse lighting, where the unspeakable, terrifying and diabolical reigns.
I have unfortunately not read the lyrics, but I have faith they will match the music. Based on conventional genres, the
band plays melodic, fairly symphonic, black metal, with emphasis on the disturbing and satanic. The music has its roots
firmly planted in the time around the millennium. Ten years ago, it seems synthetic orchestral black metal began to lose
some of its spark. Gloomy Grim does nothing new, and thus doesn't “revitalize” the style, but they anew
set “electric power on the corpse” for a genre that hasn't been as widely exercised over the recent years.
Through about 45 minutes, the band brings hostile and sinister eeriness. The ghosts that plague The Age Of Aquarius
ain't just looking for cheap thrills by simply scaring occasional straying tourist. These malevolent spirits
of death are out for blood. With effects like chilling piano and angry hissing vocals, barbed wires with razor blades as
plectrum, thunderous bass, ominous rhythms and doomsday trumpets, the Finns again sends ice crystals through the blood stream.
Art Of Propaganda, 01.07.16
French Insane Vesper has completed their second full work, where they perform black metal a bit on the
side of the most orthodox direction.
The quartet serves 42 minutes over six songs in a melting pot that feels natural, but that requires a bit from the one
that futilous attempts to explain their sonic matter in text format.
The musics ominously feeling is oppressing as a lone, unarmed stroll through the city's worst district at night. The
awkward silence is broken only by the undefined sounds a block away and the pulse pounding in the ears. This does not
bode well. Cold sweat makes you uncomfortable clammy and unease triggers uncontrolled trembling breath.
I exaggerate slightly, but only to point out that the music provides a defined sense of stalking and lurking danger.
For Insane Vesper, monotony is a foreign word. To outsiders, the music may appear to rotate slowly and
modestly around its own axis, but for us who knows how to take a closer patient and concentrated look, there are storm
clouds of lightning that surround planet LayiL. And under the cloud cover, a sizzling primordial soup
of lava and boiling mud awaits. The instruments dances like wild intoxicated witches around the bone fire. (The spelling
of LayiL is otherwise copied directly from the press release.)
The melodies have some of the vitality found in pagan and folkloric black metal, but without the same underlying folk
inspirations. Insane Vesper offers black metal with melodic and instrumental vitality and variety, while dank darkness
and aggression are present in full measure. The band's combination may not be the simplest to explain satisfactorily, but
it's undoubtedly satisfying to absorb and easy to recommend.
Hypnotic Dirge Records, 13.06.16
Australian Subterranean Disposition display an alien gold vista that feels like a place where you
grew up or visited, or possibly just dreamed, where something feels familiar, yet changed...
The once bustling and lively, yet also peaceful place on earth has lost its glow. The resources are depleted. All
livelihoods has ceased. Emigration has deserted the area. The sound of children in the streets and adults at the
grocery store and gas station has ebbed out.
Or maybe what once was an idyll has been built out, the river laid in a pipe, the lake drained and filled to set up a
well of grey skyscrapers, while vegetation is paved and the big mysterious forest is reduced to a silly little park
where heedless sweaty joggers hardly take notice of the few trees on their hasty route before shower, suit, tie and
meeting with a group of investors.
Memories of former paradise is a thing of the past, and only a sense of emptiness prevails.
That's the feeling that Contagiuum And The Landscapes Of Failure gives me. The Australians plays
death-doom that discouragingly states that the physical monuments of childhood's cheerful memories have received their
death sentence. The swing from the branch is removed and the climbing-tree has been sawn down. As helpless witnesses
to a development consisting of war, violence, terror, growing discord and fanaticism, the Australians does the best out
of the situation, creating a stunning emotional work, where beautiful but sorely progressive melancholy dominate, while the
most tearful violin from the Gothic land of sadness comes to the rescue.
That a straw eventually brakes the camel's back is inevitable. That frustration at times takes over, and that furious
fists shake in anger, is scarcely avoidable.
The album is a psychedelic journey amongst the memories ruins, or rather among ruined memories. In addition to recognizable
elements from the biting grim legacy of British death/doom there is a somewhat unearthly mood of maladjustment and confusion
through the five songs of 10-13 minutes each. The short intro not counted. The occasionally wailing vocal fits in, as it
oozes of desperation and despair. It's not impossible that the quaint home or holiday gem from the childhood has been bombed
to smithereens in a fatal footnote of the history of war, but the atmospheres that I find, and convey on to you, are
nevertheless just speculations. I haven't read any of the lyrics.
Exactly what mental images the band has formed themselves, is therefore not easy to say, but it's probably no cheerful
thoughts. Their varied death/doom is rich in good music and strong moods, that sometimes drags my thoughts to Pink
Floyd, while lovely use of saxophone and a little Hammond organ and acoustic spices certainly puts no damper on the
mournful and emotional atmosphere.
Heathen Tribes, 01.07.16 Protean's debut The Burning Centuries, original released at the dusk of last year,
probably didn't get as much attention as deserved, for the album is really good and I'm certainly not the only one who
missed out on it at that point. Hopefully, this re-release by Heathen Tribes may correct this unjust affair somewhat.
The Burning Centuries doesn't simply consist of seven random songs that pulls you slightly in the
sideburns before signing the guest-book of oblivion with invisible ink. These songs each tell their own epic story
taken from history and legends.
As chapters in a book about legendary warriors, commanders in chief, myths and legends, the seven episodes in this chronicle
tells stories about sagas like Hanibal, the great general of the Phoenicians, the mercenary Hungarian Black Army and the
mythological Viking ship Naglfar, made entirely of nails of the dead.
The music follows this conceptual mindset exemplary. Genre-wise this may be called melodic black metal, but it wouldn't
give the music full justice. We largely find the shaman's captivating stories at the helm, while the music faithfully
keeps up; over foaming and freezing sea, through dangerous mountain passes with deadly winds from the icy peaks, the
lethal weather and fierce battles against enemies, superior in numbers.
Protean exhibit both tremendous song-wise creativity and technical abilities to convey the complex
creations. Both drums and guitars excels positively. The bass is a bit behind in the sound, but contributes with distinct
lines that create more depth. Rasping black vocals exude courage and ooze of determination in the midst of embattled
trials, while clean vocals conveys ordeals of difficult times with barely accomplishable challenges in extreme conditions.
When the sound is on Protean's side, I can't but applaud the band's work, and marvel at how some succeed
to such a degree at very first attempt. One may also wonder why so much mediocrity is given a shoot when goodies like this
truly proves what can be conceived by authentic musical creativity.
Inverse Records, 01.07.16
Finnish Creinium mixed synthetic semi-orchestral elements with their melodic death metal
when I became acquainted with them through the EP Project Utopia a couple of years ago.
These elements have undergone a metamorphosis toward an electronic hybrid of industrial-atmospheric symphonic techno. In
utter absence of a better term. I'm not even capable of coming up with any apparently accurate references.
With 65 minutes, it's a lengthy piece of music the Finns offer. Perhaps a bit too long. The men shows excellent
skills within their technical approaches to melo-death. The technical aspect sometimes outshine the melodic and overall
direction that the twelve songs take, but than again, the band also squeeze in a lot of melody, which alternates between
the intricate and somewhat direction-less yet catchy. With quite polished sound and a contemporary flair to the vocal usage,
the material acquire a somewhat poppy touch, but it should be said that the band, with their intricate, sometimes almost
proggy structures, is on a completely different level than substance-lacking commercial acts.
The use of keyboards is a double-edged sword. At its best, the instrument creates colourful spices, but it's like cotton
candy; tasty in a small dose, nauseating in the long run. The overdose is imminent here, and those with diagnosed synth
allergies might wanna keep a sufficient distance. Hallucinosis' strength lies in its moods. Where technical virtue and sweet-synthetic industrial sugar
shock neutralize each other, and melodies branch slightly, the musical atmosphere places its thumbs firmly on the weight.
The atmosphere reflects hypnotic hallucinogenic mysticism with a spooky and mysterious character. The delightful moods
saves the day, and the band's instrumental effort serves as insulin, preventing diabetes from the synthetic procedure.
The music has undoubtedly a hypnotic effect, but I suspect that the impact on each listener will be very individual.
Some would wrinkle their nose and shake their heads, while others will embrace the band's distinct cauldron of modern
landscaped technical/melodic death metal with electro-industrial synth.
You probably have a good idea whether this is for you or not. If this sounds promising, the choice is obvious. If
you (like me) are situated on a form of tipping point, where this could go either way, you should check out
Hallucinosis. It's very possible that you'll be pleasantly surprised. But remember; the album requires a few
spins before you can be sure.
Besides from a demo released a few months ago, Aus der Asche is the first sign of life from German
Der Rote Milan, and it's not a sign of life-loving exuberance. The German sextet got a few
Elite members in their midst, and plays black metal with a typical German approach; Cold, gloomy and aggressive,
with hints of pagan love for nature. Der Rote Milan is a band with a diverse expressions that might not move outside the framework, but that
still creates their own little universe filled with great riffs and structures, carried out with icy precision.
The just under 40 minutes long album opens with spiritual sounds of the necromancer's ritual drums, droning throats,
biting wind and the soar cry of a lone raptor, setting the listener in a mild hypnotic trance before all hell breaks
loose. The predatory aviator in this case is likely a Red Kite, a bird of prey in the Accipitridae family that in
German is called rotmilan.
With Aus der Asche, the Germans melt good melodies, marked by adversity, but courage and stand tall
determination, with hostile and violent jet black throttle. The band also has the sense to vary in pace and riffs,
and never becomes repetitive. Only the moods convey a kind of monotony, portraying the misery and meaninglessness in
a painful and problematic existence, where distance from civilization is the only consolation.
The recipe is of course well known, and only lack of memory prevents a few dozen like-minded bands from popping up on
the mind map. The band nonetheless writes songs that don't provide associations to any specific release. I mentioned
the band creating their own universe, and Aus der Asche does just that; like a pillow fort, made of
chairs, sofa cushions and blankets, where as a child you'd isolate yourselves completely from the outside world and
dream away for a blissful moment.
Far from ground-breaking, but still well composed enough to offer a relatively distinctive landscape where the misery of
the outside world doesn't affects you. It becomes everyone else problem, and they can all just sail their own miserable
ship for all you care. I sit safely in my introverted hut, constructed of loose furniture and universal black energy,
and I'm not fucking coming out any time soon. Preferably not before the mismanaged planet have solved its warped problems
or caused its own downfall and demise. Aus der Asche is a wonderful debut, cold-heartedly recommended for like-minded period-pessimists.
Boris Records, 20.06.16 Cloak from Atlanta, US, founded in 2013, have released their first EP, following their 2015 demo.
The quartet astonishes with two very elaborate songs with musical as well as lyrical contents in the realm of Lucifer's
spiritual netherworld. If you're already thinking of Watain, you're pretty much on the right track.
I can normally control my excitement for releases with a duration of less than a quarter of an hour, but that's
primarily when the music is “good but not outstanding.” These Americans, though, delivers sovereignly.
I guess I've never been good at, or seen a big point in, explaining like a sports reporter what goes on
in a song from second to second. You might as well hear the two songs yourselves.
Nevertheless: In the Darkness, the Path (6:37) begins with gloomy organ tones. The guitar soon fades
in, before the storms hit with full force. With two guitars, the listener is being flambéed with massive, nefarious
tunes of rich barbed wire sound. Along with satanic, blasphemous vocals and hard hitting beats, Cloak
sweeps all petty resistance of their blasphemous path. The Hunger (6:08) continues magnificently, leaving me speechless.
In my subjective world this is absolutely phenomenal. If Cloak is able to repeat this
success on an entire album, I promise to return with top score as rating. Set of the next 13 minutes to
stream the music while immersing yourself in the lyrics. Wonderful!
Argonauta Records, 01.07.16 Among Gods from Bergen, Norway, was founded by Syrach's Kenneth «Ripper»
Olsen in 2010 as a side project. The band has just released their third album.
The band was initially intended as a studio project only, but has gradually grown into a full-fledged band.
The band has had its share of replacements, and even metal-archives has failed somewhat in keeping up with
the developments within Among Gods.
Blodhemn's live bassist Hauk seems to be out of the picture, and the same goes for former Sworn
guitarist Roland Røtne. Torarinn Fuglaas Garlick is credited as guitarist on the band's official
sites, but not in the press release. Neither he, nor bassist Ørjan “Hjarandr” Setvik (formerly of
Frozen Cries and Syrach) figures on metal-archives.
At least, there's no confusion surrounding guitarist Lars “Broke” Brokeland (Viðr,
Arvas-live). I'm unable to find out what background drummer Geir Sjo Myklebust has, but he's doing
on hell of a job. Not everyone is equally experienced musicians, but they deliver profoundly.
With skilled musicians, professional production and yet a marvellous cover art by Valnoir Metastazis (reeking
of associations to lots of good music), I was hoping for even more depth in the band's song material. Among
Gods, not unexpectedly, plays heavy and gloomy death/doom, not too unlike Syrach. The men master their
profession, but the songs ain't quite as intricate as I had envisioned. The music is still reasonably good, and it would
be unfair to punish the band based exclusively on my own expectations.
The sound is rich and heavy, the band plays formidable and the vocals has a sore, venomous grief, full of wrath, bitterness
and pent-up resentment that suits the moods of the music well. In addition, one sometimes notice the difference between
fairly ordinary and highly accomplished drumming. Geir seems to be immersed in the task, delivering genuine
percussion where no segment of the drum kit is left untouched.
In the latter half of the song Pandemonium, one of two songs with some length to them, the band radiate
a bit of Alkaloid-vibes with cleverly evocative interplay between rhythm and delightful string-treatments. Along
with Tundra, the other long song, it differs slightly from the rest. Tundra offers
emotional feelings of depression, and stands as the most atmospheric song. The other songs show good instrumentation and
songwise potential, but remains slightly imperfect. The opening and title track Ghost Empire, for example,
sounds tough but is still rather direction-less.
The album lasts for 35 minutes, which is a bit short, the genre considered. It's still better to deliver succinctly
than dragging out the material ad nauseam. Besides from the two 7-8 minutes long killer-song and pointless intro and
outro fillers, the other four songs clock in at just over 4 minutes on average. Compared to the better songs, they
become slightly anonymous with their simple structures. They do however have sonic leaden heaviness, swarming ominous
guitars, crazed vocals and steady rhythms that makes the music very enjoyable in the present, even if they don't leave
the strongest memories behind.
I've never heard of Among Gods, despite them being a local band with two previous albums to show for.
That might not be very strange if the preceding albums are of the same level. Relatively average bands rare have the
rumours preceding them and working for them. The band do delivers well above average, but they don't excel quite enough
to make an esteemed name for themselves just yet. If the band works on their song-writing, elevating it to become on par
with the other technical skills, Among Gods may quickly rise and cause more furore. So far, the band
doesn't leave a deep impression with Ghost Empire, but even if it doesn't stand out significantly, it
still contains delicious heavy, dark, well played and resounding doomsday-death
Ghost Empire can be streamed on both
Bandcamp, depending on your preferences. Note that it can take a few spins before
the album starts growing, and it might be wise to take a stab at the album under different conditions, if at first
it doesn't sit well with you.
Cruz Del Sur Music, 11.06.16
This is a re-release, and a mammoth of an album, located on a sunny spot on the outskirts of the musical territory I
I therefore confine myself to a few spins. This is therefore truly an impression, as was often the case in
the early days of Gorger's Metal.
Even without resolutely being able to ascertain the growth-potential over time, I strongly believe that Symbols
is an album that will thrive and flourish like weeds and find its footing if the genre appeals and time is taken to help.
The Italian band was formed way back in 1980, and supposedly played epic heavy metal before they went over to progressive
metal. The first two albums were mainly composed by the band's former guitarist, but then the two other original members,
Gianni Nepi (vocals and bass) and Paolo "Nipa" Ninci (drums) took over the compositional
responsibilities. The skilled members are not only schooled themselves. They even educate other musicians through their music
The genre is progressive heavy/power rock/metal, and I base my assumptions about growth potential on the extensive use of
melodies and variation performed with compelling engagement and good instrumentation in music of fairly intricate structuring. Symbols was originally released in 2008 and was the Italians' fourth album. The album is reportedly a change
of course from the band's two first albums after the replacement of composers in the band.
The band's symbiosis of gentle melodic 80s metal and 70s prog also incorporate other musical elements when seen fit. In good
prog-rock tradition, they have a relaxed relationship to genre-boundaries and limitations, but they don't exaggerate either. If
some hard rock or symphonic rock opera fits in, it gets a foothold. It never turns into a stew of different expressions, though.
It doesn't resemble your typical run of the mill 70s nostalgia either. Think in stead of authentic-sounding progressive hard
rock performed by artists with their daily routine seated within heavy and power metal. With years of experience since the
dawn of the 80's, the band can in fact be seen as authentic wares, rather than some retro band.
This mammoth lasts for 70 minutes, and that's before the ten minutes long bonus track Devil Stroke
is added. And that's one of the short tracks. All seven songs stretches from nine minutes to fifteen minutes.
There's a lot to digest, not only due to the duration, but also in musical diversity. Not because of genre diversity,
the music is woven naturally into one unified sounding expression, but rather because of the constant rhythmic
and melodic antics, the transitions and timechanges in an apparently well-planned structure.
My favourite sequences are when Hammond keyboardist Francesco Longhi lets his hair down. The parts with
dramatic piano in combination with vital guitar solos comes at a close second. Also, the Indian-vocals of
Crazy White Race, which opens with a short passage of (I Wish I Was in) Dixie, are quite stylish, while
the intense guitar works that opens the aforementioned bonus track is a real heightening. In the vein of, albeit not quite
on par with Van Halen's Eruption.
It should be said that the album has its share of (for me) indifferent jam-like sections, that
doesn't appeal particularly as I'm not someone who listens profoundly to prog and hard rock.
Objectively approved. Talented and well conducted. Thumbs up.
Subjectively, the album could have been trimmed down a bit. Removing excess lard could have left us with less than an
hour. A small minus.
I'm not the right man for the job of judging prog-metal anyway. If the genre mix sounds tempting and you haven't
heard the album, you are hereby advised to make an archaeological excursion in the geo-musical layers on your own.
PS: Dark Quarterer's sixth album Ithaca was released in April last year.