Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Is - Into My Own

IS - Into My Own (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2017)
I knew already the band called Is from the split CD they did a while back with Hermóðr titled "When the Frost Has Stopped the Time". And I have to admit that it was a good effort and interesting release. This year Wolfspell Records putted out Is' second full length album "Into My Own" and I was quite eager to listen to it. First though, couple of things of introduction. Is are Russian one-man project, led by Nøkken. It's relatively fresh thing, as he started it in 2014, but Is already released several EPs, couple of splits and now also two albums. And first thing, which I noticed, when I got "Into My Own" in my hands was the beautiful artwork and layout for this digipak. It looks very impressive. 
But the music also surprised me, because last time I have listened to Is the style was more alike to atmospheric, but doomy black metal. Here it has more in common with melancholic and sorrowful doom / death metal than black metal. Actually, if we have to categorize music, then I think there's no trace of black metal left in Is' music. And if it's good or not, I leave you to decide that, everyone will have their own opinion. I have to say that I am not big fan of atmospheric doom / death metal, at least not in the vein, which I can hear on "Into My Own". But it didn't disturb me to quite enjoy the music and play this CD several times today. What characterizes "Into My Own" are heavy, slow paced riffs balanced by strong melodic base (guitars, leads, keyboards) and atmosphere of sorrow and melancholy, which spines everything together. In every song heavy parts could be followed by calmer, more nostalgic fragments and even deep growling vocals can occasionally be followed by clean singing voice. Mostly the result is solid. Sometimes it may be just too melodic and too "nice" for my musical taste, but I have nothing against listening to such bands occasionally, especially if there are such good songs like "Where It Began" or "To the Sun". 
There's obviously nothing revolutionary about "Into My Own", I feel like many Finnish doom metal bands have influenced Is strongly, but maybe even such Novembers Doom have inspired Nøkken \to compose this album. All in all, I think this is a decent stuff, very easily to get into, with quite memorable songs. Even if the music becomes slightly monotonous after a while and the drum machine not always sound that good, it doesn't affect the final reception of "Into My Own". And I'm glad that Nøkken closed this album in 40 minutes of musicbecause more would probably annoy me too much. 
Standout track: "Where It Began", "To the Sun" 
Verdict: 60/100 

In Twilight's Embrace - Vanitas

IN TWILIGHT'S EMBRACE - Vanitas (ARACHNOPHOBIA Records LP 2017)
I know that a lot have already been written about this record. And I know that I'm really late with my review of "Vanitas". But when I first heard one song on YouTube I knew that it's gonna be a fantastic album and I didn't want to spoil my impression with some mp3 promos or even CD copy would not satisfy me. I waited for "Vanitas" to come out on vinyl version. And yes, finally it's been released, two months after the CD version came out. Was it worth waiting? Yes, it was. Not only I was lucky to get one of 20 ultra limited smoky vinyl, but the music really blew my head off and fulfilled all expectations. Yes, if I was doing "albums of the year" rankings, then I am sure that In Twilight's Embrace fourth record would be there in my top ten. They truly deserve this with the material they created for "Vanitas". 
After giving the first spin to "Vanitas" I have to admit that I was quite surprised with how the music of In Twilight's Embrace changed. Let me remind to some of you that this band went long way, from sort of metalcore on their debut CD to great melodic, yet very vicious and aggressive death metal in the Swedish vein on their third CD "The Grim Muse". With "Vanitas" they didn't leave the melodic death metal accents behind. Actually, they're still here, but this time the whole album is much, much more strongly black metal focused than I would expect. Really, if we even have to play the "what metal subgenre it is" game, then "Vanitas" is more black than death metal record. Even Cyprian's vocals are more shrieky and vicious than before. And his performance here is one of the biggest strengths of "Vanitas". Sometimes he's vailing, other time he puts slightly cleaner tone to his shriek, especially in this fantastic song titled "Trembling". But he sounds great on the every single song. 
But this change of musical direction had very positive than negative influence on the music and so this album is intriguing and capturing from start to finish. When the first song started, I was really blown away. "The Hell of Mediocrity" is just fantastic and brilliant track, its viciousness, neckbreaking speed, but also insanely memorable, melodic main riff work perfectly and caught my attention immediately. I know that many listeners started to compare some of these songs from "Vanitas" to Mgła, "The Hell of Mediocrity" also. But I don't think it is an insult for In Twilight's Embrace. Besides, there's always a good balance between few different influences, not all are limited just to Mgła and black metal in general. There are fragments, when the melodic death metal is more audible, other time the music is doomier, more sinister and eerie in its aura ("Trembling"!!!), what takes In Twilight's Embrace sound into yet another dimension. So, the whole record is as diverse as it only can. And its high quality from start to finish, is undeniable. 
After the striking beginning, "As Future Evaporates" is next track, which particularly impressed me. This one, just like "The Hell of Mediocrity", is also fast piece, but with plenty of variations in the tempo, with some great, memorable melodic parts, but without any loss of the vicious, aggressive sound. They're both like "Dystopian" from the previous album, but more blackened and without that Swedish death metal influence so dominant. And they sound gigantic, especially with that great powerful sound, which "Vanitas" has. But really... I could mention every song and there's something special about each of them and each is a crusher. "Fan the Flame" with that catchy riffage is an instant "hit". It's very memorable and I love how it switches from mid-paced first half of the song to insanely fast, blasting second half. And "Trembling" - what a great song it is! It's quite different to the previous tracks. It does keep the melodic part of In Twilight's Embrace, but it has also almost doomy section, with ritualistic, very grim, eerie aura, which gives just a fantastic result. And so on and on... I have to say that I was listening to "Vanitas" with enormous pleasure and enjoyed every fuckin minute of it. 
So, I cannot recommend this album enough. Get yourself a copy, do not hesitate, do not wait. This album is worthy and for me it's one of the best releases of 2017. 
Standout tracks: "The Hell of Mediocrity", "Trembling", "As Future Evaporates", "Flesh Falls, No Ghost Lifts" 
Verdict: 95/100 

Rites of Daath - Hexing Graves

RITES OF DAATH - Hexing Graves (GODZ OV WAR Productions - CD 2017)
I have no idea if there's a special for finding all these new killer bands in the vast underworld, but it looks like Godz ov War Productions are quite good at that. They just released debut CD of a band called Rites of Daath and I'm really fuckin impressed with their "Hexing Graves" EP. I'm honest, it's one of the better debuts from this year! But here comes a funny part. I've checked some info about Rites of Daath on Metal Archives and it turns out that they were called Cemetery Whore before. And I know Cemetery Whore, because I have the "Infected by Old School" split CD they shared with bands like Hell United. And I also have "Deathlike Passages" (2016) cassette, which I bought from the band, but haven't even remembered to play it yet. And now it turns out that Cemetery Whore is dead and Rites of Daath arose from their still hot and trembling ashes as new band. Where was I, that I've never heard of it? 
And well, I have to say that after this change of the name, these guys jumped on completely new level, because the quality of Rites of Daath music is much better than Cemetery Whore's. And I really mean it! This EP not only sounds much more mature and interesting, with much better quality, but it also shows a different musical direction, which these guys took. While Cemetery Whore played some sort of ugly and harsh thrashing old school death metal, Rites of Daath plays obscure and cold death metal, in the vein of the likes of Incantation, Necros Christos, Impetuous Ritual, Dead Congregation, CruciamentumFunebrarum and all such bands, which bring an utter sonic destruction with their grim music. I think that this style has become slightly trendy recently, especially if you look at how many releases from labels such as Invictus or Dark Descent come with that sort of music, but I don't care, because surprisingly Rites of Daath does sound awesome and it doesn't present lesser quality to the bands I mentioned. I truly think they have nothing to be ashamed of and "Hexing Graves" is an excellent offer for the maniacs of such cryptic sounds. 
I love that massively heavy, sometimes very doomy, but always incredibly brutal and vicious style of morbid death metal, I love that intensity and eeriness these riffs have. There are also fantastic ghoulish vocals and the special, sepulchral aura that bands like Rites of Daath evoke. And what I like about "Hexing Graves" is that unlike few similar bands, their songs actually do have memorable riffs and don't sound like a monotonous and forgettable wall of riffs. Every song has something that stands out, with crushing riffs that I just fuckin love. I don't even know if I prefer when Rites of Daath plays doomy, slow parts or if they speed up, because every time it all sounds crushing and the music is arranged in super great way. They had enough good ideas for "Hexing Graves", the performance and production are also super good, so there's nothing I could moan about. 
So... I am very, very impressed by "Hexing Graves", I could listen to it over and over again... I even like it more than new Anima Damnata album. I just hope many maniacs will support and appreciate Rites of Daath music and damn, I want to hear more such killer music from them in the future!!!!! 
Standout tracks: "Necromantic Rites of the Underground", "Most Holy Death" 
Verdict: 90/100