Saturday, 30 December 2017

Monolithe - Nebula Septem

MONOLITHE - Nebula Septem (LADLO Productions CD 2018)
I can't remember hearing Monolithe music ever before, which is quite shame if you think that "Nebula Septem" is their seventh full length album. Not sure what I've missed, but I somehow doubt I'll ever feel a need to catch up with their discography. Anyway, number seven has a very important meaning for the concept of "Nebula Septem". This is Monolithe's seventh album, it's been recorded by seven musicians and contains seven songs (titled from letter A to G) and each is exactly seven minutes long. With the lyrics about sci-fi things like extra-terrestrial life, you can be sure that it's not the usual extreme metal piece, but well thought through and perfected concept. 
Monolithe plays sort of doom metal, with that powerful and heavy slow paced riffage, which has been very well balanced by the melodic and atmospheric part of Monolithe music. And I like that guitars are able to play so many good harmonies and that the keyboards also fill the music basically all over the album, as it gives the music more interesting and complex feel. More so, I am quite pleased to hear the growling vocals, reminding me the good old days of bands like Opeth (Mikael Akerfeldt) and Edge of Sanity (Dan Swano). Maybe these two bands, Opeth especially, could be also considered as some musical influences for "Nebula Septem", but there are more of them, I suppose. Which doesn't even matter, because I am sure that Monolithe wants to walk their own path. It's interesting also that I've read that the band used to sound more depressive and kind of funeral doom like, while on "Nebula Septem" I don't hear that so much, as this album is just too melodic and atmospheric to have that depressive feel. Which is good, I think, because mostly that depressive stuff makes me feel bored.  
Definitely I listen to music from ambitious people, who rather want to explore, than just use what has already been discovered by vast number of other bands. On the other hand, I'm afraid that I sometimes get bored too quickly with bands like Monolithe, their songs start to blend too much into each other. I'm sure it's just because normally I listen to much more raw and vicious stuff and bands like Monolithe very rarely are guests to my stereo. Which doesn't mean I'm not able to appreciate the music. With songs like "Coil Shaped Volutions" and "Delta Scuti", "Nebula Septem" is a good album for sure. I like that powerful sound, discovered some great riffs, harmonies and passages...  It's pretty different to the usual Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions release, but another worthy piece of their roster for sure. 
Standout track: "Coil Shaped Volutions", "Delta Scuti" 
Verdict: 70/100 

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Shadows Ground - The Roots

SHADOWS GROUND - The Roots (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2017)
Last year I was given a chance to listen and review "Mysteria Mystica Calvus Mons", a very good album from Ukrainian band called Shadows Ground. I remember that before playing it, I was quite sceptical towards it, because most of bands from countries like Ukraine is just crap, sorry to say so. But as it turned out, I was wrong this time and was really blown away by some killer harsh black metal cult. This year, anno 2017, Shadows Ground putted out their newest full length "The Roots", yet again through Schattenkult Produktionen, and I'm once more truly fuckin impressed with their music. For me this is the best band from Ukraine, I am sincere about it! Yes, I remember about Drudkh and Blood of Kingu. They're great also, but for me personally it's the Shadow Ground, who caught my attention the most.  
And I've been playing "The Roots" insanely a lot through the past few days, drowning in its malicious, morbid aura fully. Stylistically this record is very simple to describe. Just take the most characteristic elements from the old Norwegian classics like DarkthroneBurzum, Mayhem, Kvist... and Urgehal, who I feel like is the closest to, when speaking of the general style and character of music. Why? Well, the production is quite alike, the riffage also, but even the vocals of Waam remind me Trondr Nefas' vicious shriek a little. Especially the song "Nocturne of a Morbid Mind" reminds me Urgehal. But I don't take it as something negative, because I worship the early Urgehal records and I feel like Shadows Ground on "The Roots" is almost equally good. So, let's enjoy this pure black metal. The best song for me is "Primordial Spirit". It has great Darkthrone-ish vibe, yet this track was able to bring something more exceptional and varied playing, so the result is just killer, in my opinion. Also the more melancholic and atmospheric aura of "Buried Under the Snow and Northern Lights" is a real stand out piece of "The Roots". 
Usually the problem with such harsh, simplistic black metal is that it's very easy to destroy it and cross the line of parody. So often bands from this style sound boring, unimpressive, too primitive and just forgettable. Too often this music becomes a primitive, naive and just completely moronic. But not in case of Shadows Ground and "The Roots". Just as "Mysteria Mystica Calvus Mons", this album also shows some solid songwriting, great riffs, which perfectly combine the most aggressive and malicious parts with good dose of melodic, sometimes slightly melancholic, atmospheric parts. More so, Shadows Ground has no problem whatsoever with creating the very special cold, grim aura, which should embrace that kind of black metal, with hateful, satanic feeling. Finally, I have to say that I like the production a lot... and even though quite a lot of this album has been played in this repetitive, simplistic, slightly one-dimensional, fast paced vicious black metal style, it doesn't bore me at all and I enjoyed "The Roots" a lot. Yeah, this is a very proper title for this album - if it was meant to take you back to the roots of second wave of black metal, when the music was pure, harsh and not infected by alien influences. Recommended release, yeah! 
Standout tracks: "Primordial Spirit", "Under Transilvanian Fullmoon", "Buried Under the Snow and Northern Lights" 
Verdict: 75/100 

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Druadan Forest - The Lost Dimension

DRUADAN FOREST - The Lost Dimension (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2017)
It's funny, but sometimes it's enough to look at the cover and you already know what kind of music you can expect from the album. That's exactly what I felt before I started to listen to Druadan Forest's second album "The Lost Dimension". I never heard of this band before, first time I saw its name was, when I got this CD from Wolfspell Records. But looking at that beautiful artwork, with dreamy, fantasy landscape, logo and the Tolkien based name, the whole other art and design for this CD, I expected the music to be in the vein of bands like Summoning or Caladan Brood. And of course it is haha! Which is not a problem, I'm always looking forward to listen to new bands. But you know what? I've never been huge Summoning fan. And I think I've listened to Caladan Brood's album maybe couple of times only. I always felt slightly bored with their epic, yet very symphonic and melodic style and lyrics based on Tolkien's works. I think that such music is just too much one dimensional, too monotonous for me and too happy sounding also. I could never get deep into that fantasy atmosphere. I could listen to such stuff occasionally, but never for too long. Well, since Druadan Forest sounds exactly like these two bands, then the problem is also exactly the same. Luckily for me, "The Lost Dimension" is not too long, the album is closed within 40 minutes, so I have never felt bored, while listening to it. And even surprised myself that I can enjoy such stuff so much. 
The music on "The Lost Dimension" is obviously very keyboard oriented. This instrument plays dominant role, so the music is strongly symphonic and highly melodic (for some reason the atmosphere sometimes reminds me also Mortiis!!!). It's doomy fantasy (black??) metal with shrieking vocals and epic nature. The bombastic atmosphere is obviously quite dark, but also enchanting and you can even describe the music as beautiful, because these melodies and orchestral parts are truly "nice" and "pleasant". It's very well composed music, definitely, I have to say that V-Khaoz (also known from bands like Oath, Azaghal and Hin Onde) came up with some very good songs. His arrangements and whole performance - from keyboards and guitars to the croaky, harsh vocals - is great. And songs like "The Shadowborn" or "Beyond the Sun, Beyond the Moon" - or any other, as the song quality is very even, with no fillers - is as high as you can imagine in this sort of music. I only skip the opening track "Dreams upon a Crimson Dawn" sometimes, because it's just useless symphonic intro. 
So, from the strict technical aspect, I won't say anything wrong about "The Lost Dimension". It's very well composed and performed. Whether you'll like the music or not, that just depends on your own taste. I enjoyed this album a lot, I have to say. It's so easily listenable and memorable that it's somehow almost impossible to resist it and to its epic aura, so I spent nice few hours playing it. Even if I started to feel fed up with it, I switched to something else, but soon returned to "The Lost Dimension", because it's just so fun to listen to. Yeah, I know that Druadan Forest sounds way too much like Summoning, so the originality is not the strongest aspect of this record. I know also that there's not much difference between these songs, speaking of the tempos, riff and keyboard style, vocals, etc. But it doesn't matter, because the music is very well composed and played. I am sure that "The Lost Dimension" will please many of you also. Definitely it's worth of your interest, so grab a copy and support Druadan Forest. 
Standout tracks: "The Shadowborn", "Beyond the Sun, Beyond the Moon" 
Verdict: 80/100