Monday, 30 April 2012

Kaamos interview from Panzerfaust zine#1, 2002

I nearly forgot one of the main aims for starting this blog, which was to remind you some of the works from my old fanzine days. The first issue of Panzerfaust was released in May 2002 and one of the first interviews I did for it was with Kaamos. Since I just exhumed this great Swedish band's first LP, I decided also to remind you this old interview I did with Konstantin. Sorry, just Polish version available, but at least you can see that I've been into this band right from the start!!!!!

Kaamos - Kaamos

KAAMOS - Kaamos (IMPERIUM Productions - LP 2002)
Every time I start to listen to this record, I always have only great memories about it. Kaamos in many ways is a special band to me, as they’re one of the first acts, which I featured in my old fanzine called Panzerfaust. I remember how excited I was when I got their “Curse of Aeons” demo way back in 2001 and did an interview with Konstantin for the same first issue. Oh, good old times, which still seem like it was yesterday, especially that when I listen to the music of Kaamos it didn’t get boring or whatever and despite the passing time, it still kicks ass seriously. Hell yeah, “Kaamos” is the debut album from those Swedish zombies and since we just passed on the tenth anniversary of its recording there’s no better time than to exhume this record and get slain by it once more.
And “Kaamos” truly slays. The opening track is obviously the best one in Kaamos’ short career, “Corpus Vermis” has possessing force and awesome riffing throughout, including the catchy and easily memorable chorus part, with which I guess you’ll scream the line of the lyrics. Right from the first seconds it’s obvious also that Kaamos is heavily infected by the old Swedish death metal bands and the likes of Unleashed (early), Entombed (early of corpse!!!!!!!) and Grave, but when going through the next songs also such acts as Sadistic Intent, Autopsy, Soulburn / Asphyx and early Death can pop up in your mind. Especially I tend to think of the works of Unleashed when listening to “Kaamos” as Kaamos has similar style of playing, if you think of how the rhythm section plays for instance and what the atmosphere on this album is. Luckily Kaamos avoids being a blind copycat, as their music contains much more ferocity, aggression and fast paces plus much more dynamics than Unleashed have ever had in their albums. You may be surprised how often those Swedes play in fast tempo, speeding up like an alcoholic in a car, running away from the police. And often they bring certain catchiness to their songs, making sure that they’ll all be memorable and deadly as hell. Side A of the vinyl has such killer anthems as “Corpus Vermis” and “The Storm of Coming” plus absolutely furious “Khem”. It also has a surprising introduction in “Doom of Men”, but I’ll leave that to you to hear what this is about. Anyway, “Doom of Men” itself is an incredible track, much slower comparing it to the previous ones, but that only makes it the heaviest song on the whole album and surely one of my favourites.
Side B of the LP (which by the way comes as a nice gatefold, with huge poster) has just four tracks, but that include another favourite of mine, which is “Curse of Aeons” from the demo. Then “Cries of the Damned” is another slower song, which evokes the creepy horror atmosphere in truly great way. Anyway, Kaamos fantastically embodied the old style of death metal and made so in the times, when this sort of playing wasn’t as popular as it is nowadays. Respect! Each of the nine songs, which have been recorded on “Kaamos” is an instant headbanger, each will welcome you with the finest, shredding riffs and thus I can assure you this is a damn brilliant album. It’s been a decade since Kaamos has spawned it and it still crushes, the more pity is that Kaamos is no more and that the album seems to be somehow underrated.
Final rate: 85/100

Mgła - Further Down the Nest

Maybe somebody has a spare cover for this EP, as I have just the EP and inlay card, the cover was destroyed by my 13 months old son, who mistaken it with his toys and torn it to pieces hehe!
MGŁA - Further Down the Nest (TODESKULT - EP 2007)
Right after I got blown away by “Mdłości” EP, Mgła attacked me with another 7”EP, titled  “Further Down the Nest” and once again proved to be just killer band. There are two songs on the EP and although I feel like “Mdłości” was a bit more possessing release, musically speaking, “Further Down the Nest” also captured my attention right from the first second of the furious opening riff of “Further Down the Nest I”. With that first part in the song I was surprised a bit, as the production really reminds me Taake’s albums, which is very organic and sometimes almost noisy sound, but one which also has a great live feeling and sounds like the band was actually rehearsing in this room. Luckily this certain regression of the production didn’t bring too much chaos and still all the instrumental parts are well hearable and the whole music has an enormous dose of energy and deadly ferocity, which makes it a true lethal piece of vinyl.
For the musical aspects of Mgła’s music I don’t know what else I can write, what I haven’t already done in the “Mdłości” review. Mgła stands on the side of traditional Norwegian black metal, evokes the feeling of the most classic albums of the genre, with “Transilvanian Hunger”, “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss”, “Under the Sign of Hell” and “Hordalands Doedskvad” (I know this LP wasn’t released in the 90’s, but Mgła certainly has a lot in common with the way Taake plays – especially that both bands create very similar atmosphere in their music). If I had to choose, then “Further Down the Nest II” track is my definite favourite of the two. It’s played in much slower paces, focusing more on the mid tempo to emboss the gloominess of the music (hmm, my impression on the first tune in it was… BURZUM!!!!!) and only at the end it fastens for even deeper effect. This song delivers just great vocals of M, who sings here in Polish (I have been able to pick up some single words of the lyrics), but he did some great arrangements and as overall his voice in this track is very unique. But the other song also have undeniably amazing and effective riffing and despite the fact that in both cases the song structures and composition are relatively simple, they are also very impressive. Man, it’s almost a pity that there are just two tracks on the EP, with only 11 minutes, as I would love to hear more, but luckily  soon later Mgła released their first full length album “Groza”, which fulfilled all my expectations in 666 %.
Final rate: 87/100 

Mgła - Mdłości

Mgła (fog!) is sort of a band, which doesn’t appear in the press often, but which gained a lot of recognition and support from the black metal maniacs and all that thanks to the incredible music, which this project has recorded on their several materials. Although the band has debuted with a split titled “Crushing the Holy Trinity (Holy Spirit)” and then with the 7”EP “Presence”, personally I got to know them thanks to their second 7”EP single titled “Mdłości”. Ha, ha, try to pronounce it correctly, I bet no one outside of Poland can do that properly… but let me just say that this title means “nausea”, which certainly is not a feeling I have for the music of Mgła, as it is one of the very finest black metal pieces I’ve heard from the Polish land, but also from the whole black metal scene in general. Even if we consider what was going on in this genre in the early 90’s Mgła do not find many bands, which could rival them.
Mgła’s music is undeniably rotted in the Scandinavian black metal of the 90’s. But it is so well composed and executed that not even for a single moment I had a feeling of dealing with yet another primitive, useless carbon copy of the masters of the genre. Mgła is much above the scene’s mediocrity and here, on this EP the band presents two excellent songs and trust me, they’re just killer. “Mdłości I” begins with an amazing melodic theme, which is just haunting and possesses instantly. Luckily the production is good enough to fully get involved into the atmosphere of the music and when it speeds up into the furious neckbreaking speed, the feeling of chaos is not dominating over the melodic and atmospheric aspect of this song. In this one single track Mgła evokes the best traditions of the Norwegian black metal and if you’re into the “Under the Funeral Moon” LP for instance (and who’s not??), then I bet “Mdłości I” will freeze blood in your veins, especially that the main theme in this track is surprisingly catchy and epic in some sorts. Meanwhile “Mdłości II” from side B sounds like someone took it from “Transilvanian Hunger” and it’s just fuckin blast in the face! Again the song is very fast, but it slows down when the distorted vocals start, again the main riff in it is just haunting and again (!!!!!!!!) I feel absolutely amazed by the greatness of this recording. The song itself isn’t much complicated, but it’s not primitive neither, it is just based on two or three repetitive riffs, of which the main one can be played at either incredibly fast pace or totally slower one, but how well it works and how great the atmosphere is in this song! My only complaint towards “Mdłości II” would go for the fact that it seems to stop very rapidly, like it wasn’t fully finished and that “Mdłości I” was a bit better track. But who cares?
To resume – what a great listening experience “Mdłości” is. The EP was limited just to 500 copies, so you can’t expect to get it easily and cheap, but trust me, it is worth to have in the collection. And if you can’t find the EP, you can always get the CD version, which includes also “Further Down the Nest” EP.
Final rate: 95/100

Horrendous - The Chills

And another very impressive old styled death metal album, which have been released in the past few months and gave the band a much deserved recognition and status of one of the most interesting and promising new acts at the moment. Here is Horrendous. The band made their way through the armies of undead really quickly, releasing just one demo (“Sweet Blasphemies” in 2009) before they got the first album ready and released by Dark Descent in 2012. Dressed in one of the best artworks I’ve seen in the past few months (surely it matches the superb artworks from Morbus Chron and Disma albums), “The Chills” offers us nine songs, closing in 43 minutes, of pure death metal feast. I haven’t heard the demo at all, but the stopgap of three years between it and the debut full length album must have been spent very effectively, as the material from “The Chills” presents us a well developed beast, which left the beginner’s cocoon for good and is now a mature and deadly form of life; one with which you need to confront yourself.
I must say that the opening theme of “The Womb”, which is the first song, got me confused a bit, as this melody on it would really fit the Swedish melodic black metal bands like Dissection and Watain, but that feeling disappears right with the second riff, which is more thrash metal oriented. It turns out that these nine songs offer many really interesting and sometimes unexpected parts, which include also a lot of melodic leads and changes of the atmosphere. Actually the whole “The Chills” brings a wide range of influences, which result in one of the most varied and thus also interesting albums I’ve heard recently. This variety became a strong point of Horrendous’ music, but it would never bring good results if the band wasn’t able to compose good and solid songs. Luckily those three Americans have done an excellent job and their songwriting and musicianship are one of the best I’ve heard around the new wave of young death metal bands. When listening to such tracks as “Ripped to Shreds” or “Fatal Dreams” they do not leave any question marks, it is just as it should be and in many ways the album left me speechless – that great it is.
When saying that there is a wide range of bands, which I think Horrendous was influenced by, I wasn’t trying to be just polite. No, really there are many legendary acts, which I feel have made their mark on Horrendous music. Pestilence is I think the most obvious one. When listening to the guitar leads, some crazy, thrashing and sometimes even bit spacey, psychedelic riffs and even the vocals of Damian Herring (who sounds very much like Patrick Mamelli) – all that makes me think of “Consuming Impulse” and “Testimony of the Ancients”. Then you can clearly find traces of bands like Death or Atheist in many parts, while such “The Ritual” is like a more melodic Autopsy, incorporating a doomier introduction and some sick, disgustingly vomiting vocals, while my favourite song from the whole album – a majestic epic “The Eye of Madness” – sounds like a good old Asphyx, in their best possible style. On top of that I think I can say that “The Chills” may be taking influences also from the good old fashioned heavy and thrash metal – clearly the beginning of “Fatal Dreams” makes me think of “Painkiller” too much hehe!
More so, these three guys turned out to be excellent instrumentalists, especially the guitarists have recorded here some amazing tunes. When listening to “The Somber (Desolate Winds)” for instance I got amazed by the leading play of the guitar, with some almost melancholic, sorrowful and emotional riffs, which sound great, when are played next to angry and bestial death metal. Horrendous also managed to balance these more melodic tunes with straight forward, aggressive playing and “Fleshrot” is the best evidence for it. This is a fierce, relentless attack, which hits you right away when “The Somber (Desolate Winds)” ends. “The Eye of Madness” provides even deeper atmospheric playing, with very doomy riffing and lots of great sounding melodies (actually the one, which opens the song, sounds a lot like Swedish death metal or Amorphis on their first album! – KILLER!!!), while the closing part of it sounds very much like Asphyx, providing a wonderful mournful finish to the whole album. But really, “The Chills” as a whole has a horrendously (hehe) possessing charm and I can hardly resist this album at all. Oh, just listen to Horrendous and see yourself how great are these songs, so well composed and performed and more so, they’re damn memorable. This isn’t simple and unimaginative death metal, but well thought through piece of massacring metal. And despite the fact that I wrote that Horrendous pays a tribute to many old bands, the way they do it on “The Chills” make me think that Horrendous is – I have no hesitation, when writing this – truly original band and one of a kind, which is much welcome and expected, especially in times, when sometimes it gets a bit monotonous to hear dozens of same sounding death metal bands. And the cherry on the top is the powerful, amazingly energetic and clean, crispy but aggressive production…
Yeah, awesome. “The Chills” ticks all the boxes, when describing the perfect death metal album. Fast, brutal parts? Check. Groovy, more doomy parts? Check. Dark atmosphere, sick atmosphere, great leads, some melodies? All check! Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! Definitely this is one of the best death metal albums of past years.
Standout tracks: "The Somber (Desolate Ways)", "The Eye of Madness", "The Womb"
Final rate: 97/100  

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Morbus Chron - Sleepers in the Rift

MORBUS CHRON - Sleepers in the Rift (DETEST - LP 2012)
I think this was one of the most anticipated debuts for me! Right from the time, when I’ve heard Morbus Chron shaking the earth with their demo and EP materials I knew it is going to be a must have LP and one, which will probably be called a classic on the date of its release. Yeah, I know it is difficult to call a metal album “classic” in the times, when the there are so many bands and releases and when all the best music have been recorded 20 or 30 years earlier. But really, there’s something so intriguing and great about Morbus Chron that I cannot find a better way to describe them and their debut full length. These young lads have been destined to success and have been praised already in the cradles! It almost looks like a great PR and marketing job – like someone (Satan? Nicke?) carefully selected few guys, dressed them in the traditional metal way, made them look like fuckin’ Mayhem or other bands in the 80’s, learnt them how to play and hoped they’ll manage to compose few great songs along with all that. And don’t forget great promotional job, which was done for Morbus Chron months before the first album, including the risky, but turned out very successful appearance in all the metal blogs you can imagine. Finally the time has come for the first album, the hopes are high and luckily “Sleepers in the Rift” is one of the best death metal albums I’ve heard in years! But it took me some time before I got it and listened to it. I wanted it to be the vinyl only, as such music should be played on LP only, if it’s possible of course. So, I’ve been waiting and waiting and finally on one snowy morning the LP has arrived. I could finally look at one of the most impressive front artworks ever! I know that the colouring of it may cause vomiting reactions in some of you, but I love those Lovecraftian monsters on it and in many ways I can only think of the death metal covers from the early 90’s, like Seagrave’s works. You know, he’s been doing very similar artworks for death metal bands and the cover of “Sleepers in the Rift” reminds me almost Carnage’s “Dark Recollections” cover. What do you think? It is fuckin awesome! I’m really glad that the bands nowadays are resigning from the photoshop made artworks and instead choose ones, which are more old styled. You know, the cover for “Like an Ever Flowing Stream” will always be better than the artwork for “Dismember”, right? Or the artwork of “Into the Grave” will always prevail over the shitty covers of “As Rapture Comes” and “Dominion VIII”, am I right?
“Through the Gaping Gate / Coughing in a Coffin” opens the album and I’ve been waiting for the first riffs breathlessly. And suddenly “BUM” and here we go! Old school death metal masterpiece starts just as I imagined it to be with filthy, obscure, raw but not too primitive production (I must say that the sound of “Sleepers in the Rift” is one of the strongest points of it, absolutely fantastic production, 666% fitting the style of death metal, which Morbus Chron plays) and classic riffing, which pays the tribute to legendary acts like Nihilist, Entombed, Dismember, Grotesque, Carnage, Autopsy, Death, Possessed, Master and Repulsion. And from the never bands I can think of only Death Breath (what a coincidence haha!), Repugnant and Bastard Priest. The whole music is covered with the dark and sinister atmosphere, one which I can only compare to the old horror movies, really. Some of those disturbing melodic riffs that are played by Morbus Chron sound like someone decided to play the creepy soundtracks from the old movies in death metal way. Well, “Phantasm” was already “borrowed” by Entombed 20 years ago, but it really is similar type of creepy melody. If you add the fact that the whole “Sleepers in the Rift” stinks like the early Autopsy albums and even the vocals are as raspy and horrid as those from Mr. Reifert, then I guess you can clearly imagine what “Sleepers in the Rift” is like exactly.
But one thing is to take influences from some old bands and another is to use them properly and compose some seriously arse kicking death metal tunes. And trust me, Morbus Chron managed to compose a killer album, one which not only sounds like it was recorded 20 years ago, but which actually delivers a number of awesome songs and many great riffs. I personally like the slow playing from “Sleepers in the Rift” most, the beginning of “The Hallucinating Dead” is just fuckin killer, it crawls like a dreadful creature in the dark and then all of a sudden Morbus Chron plays one of the coolest melodies from the whole album, while Robba’s vocals are especially disgusting here. “Through the Gaping Gate / Coughing in a Coffin” is another real favourite of mine, with again some stunning doomy parts, but also with more thrashing vibe in few fragments, which sound so fuckin great that I cannot stop my skull from banging! And “Deformation of the Dark Matter” – arrgghhhhh!!!!!!!!!! What a skinning alive riffing there! But that’s not all and those young Swedes show some genius riffs more often than many of their older colleagues. Their death metal is full of passion, enthusiasm, sounds like great fun to play and this is what I like most about it. Fuckin’ awesome it is, indeed…
Standout tracks: “The Hallucinating Dead”, “Through the Gaping Gate / Coughing in a Coffin”, “Deformation of the Dark Matter”
Final rate: 90/100

Monday, 23 April 2012

Ares Kingdom - Incendiary

ARES KINGDOM - Incendiary (NUCLEAR WAR NOW! - CD 2009)
I can’t believe how criminally underestimated this band is and in the times, when the metal underground praises many absolutely crappy bands, such jewels remain unnoticed and their awesome albums seem to have disappeared in the flood of releases, which pop up every week. But I seriously advice you to consider getting interested in Ares Kingdom, as this band will truly kick your ass with gigantic metal riffs and killer songwriting, all presented in the most traditional of all ways. And with the outstanding production, which from one hand is rightfully clear, but which also kept the feeling of playing live and the necessary distortion and obscurity of the genre, in the end the band is delivering the energy, with which every metal album should be filled with and which we – diehard metal maniacs – love to get, when killer songs hit you right in the face and you react in the only true way - with maniacal headbanging. Yeah, “Incendiary” has it all. And I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised that this band has managed to deliver such a high class metal album, as it has got some very experienced musicians in the ranks. Mentioning Chuck Keller from the Order From Chaos fame is the most noticeable, this man stood behind one of the most impressive and relentless US death metal bands known to mankind and while Pete Helmkamp chosen the unstoppable brutality of his Angel Corpse, Keller opted for slightly different, but equally killer sound, which is what Ares Kingdom plays. I also must mention Keller’s Vulpecula here, another fine band, which sadly split up, but whose “In Dusk Apparition” LP, which Invictus Productions released in 2006, eight years after its recording, is another highlight in the career of this guitarist. But I can truly say that “Incendiary” is definitely the best album this man has composed, although I must also admit that I haven’t heard the previous full length, “Return to Dust”, so I don’t know whether such brilliancy only just appeared with the second album or it was also present on the debut (I’ll check it out soon though, my copy of “Return to Dust” has been already ordered).
OK, but let’s focus on “Incendiary” more, shall we? In the previous paragraph I called Ares Kingdom’s music simply “metal”. Because this is METAL!!! I mean it. Ares Kingdom sounds 100% metal, with classic instrumentalism, classic arrangements and only 100% metal riffs. The base of the whole sound and style of “Incendiary” lies in death metal of course, but the way this genre has been played here is so epic like no other death metal album I’ve heard in my life! This truly is monumental and powerful music, sometimes it’s even melancholic, but still such feelings like rage and aggression are present also. The songwriting is fitting this epic style perfectly, pushing some of the songs to the length of over six minutes (and “Abandon In Place” is eight minutes long), and during this time Ares Kingdom uses every opportunity to impress the listener, changing the tempos (although the album is never really fast, it’s rather mid paced or slow), smoothly making the transitions between the riffs and their mood and first of all, incorporating almost all metal subgenres into this one album. There are many heavy metal parts here (“Ashen Glory”), as well as the classic thrash metal riffs (to mention the title song could be enough here, I guess), speed metal… You name it! At many occasions it even reminds me the epic black metal style of recent Immortal albums (like in “Abandon In Place”)! But of course the death metal shadow floats over everything, with raspy vocals of Alex Blume (which are like a combination of Pete Helmkamp’s throaty shriek and early David Vincent’s more clear style of growling!!!) and dark atmosphere for instance.
And the songwriting... Yeah, Ares Kingdom composed amazing songs, which really stick with you and are relatively catchy in many fragments while keeping the intensity, aggression and energy. For instance I love this instrumental track titled “The Destruction of Sennacherib”, what a great song! The title track is another killer and such are also “Beasts That Perish”, “Abandon In Place” and “Gathering the Eagles”, which probably is my favourite track from the whole album! All in all I can tell you that Ares Kingdom is a special band and “Incendiary” is an album, which provides just awesome music. In many ways I can consider Ares Kingdom to be similar to what Wannes Gubbels is doing with his Pentacle. Both bands share the same kind of music and influences, both do that in great way, the atmosphere of their albums is similar and the lyrical themes are also close. So, if you consider yourself a metal fan, then I cannot imagine you not giving a chance to “Incendiary”. This is killer album and that’s it.
Final rate: 90 / 100