Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Mefitic - Woes of Mortal Devotion

MEFITIC - Woes of Mortal Devotion (NWN! CD 2015)
This album gets better and better and with every next listen I feel like its suffocating, sepulchral aura swallows me more and more. I drown in these eerie, morbid sounds and I love this feeling a lot. Really this is one of those albums, which I play so many times that even my neighbours will know every sound from it. And the best thing is that I didn't even expect Mefitic to be that bloody good. I got this album very late, almost two years since its release and I didn't even know any of the previous Mefitic recordings. But believe me, the influence "Woes of Mortal Devotion" has on me is enormous and I love this album. 
What Mefitic plays is an astonishing mixture of death and black metal, with that truly dense, sepulchral wall of sound that gives you almost claustrophobic feeling. They definitely have a lot in common with such bands as Grave Miasma, Demonomancy, Mitochondrion, Impetuous Ritual, Antediluvian, Paroxsihzem, Altarage and so on... Obviously Incantation has a huge influence as well. I believe that all these bands created something new - a new sound and quality - within the perishing catacombs of death / black metal and such Mefitic is one of the finest examples for that. Thick, slightly monotonous riffage, which combines heaviness and cavernous sound with reverb, especially on the ghastly vocals, create almost hypnotizing aura. Their songs have also a ritualistic aura, so they're almost like eerie prayer hymns, with that obscure and malicious concept, all based on death. Do not get fooled by thinking that "Woes of Mortal Devotion" sounds too monotonous and one dimensional, with the same structure, etc, because you need to fully get into the music, to pick up all these details, some great arrangements, ideas, riffs, killer vocal lines and so on. Besides, they keep a good balance between faster and almost doomy tunes, so the album is very absorbing. If I would have to pick up a couple of songs that I especially loved, then the crushing slow / mid paced "Pain" and "The Swirling Columns of Staleness" or the mutilating "Noxious Epiclesis" do fuckin sound amazing. It's like a journey into the abyss and believe me, it will be painful!  
I love the production of the album also, it's so damn heavy, so every song sounds massive and powerful... and the artwork is also pretty damn good, so basically everything about "Woes of Mortal Devotion" is perfect. Sadly, I don't know any of Mefitic previous releases, so I cannot make comparisons between them, but I really wanna know if such quality was ever present in their music.  
Standout tracks: "Pain", "The Swirling Columns of Staleness", "Noxious Epiclesis" 
Final rate: 85/100

Urgehal - Through Thick Fog till Death

URGEHAL - Through Thick Fog till Death (AGONIA Records LP 2003)
I think this was the first album from Urgehal, which I've heard. And I instantly liked it a lot. I loved its sheer aggression, intensity, malicious, satanic aura and even though "Through Thick Fog till Death" is not an album, which would be bringing anything new to the black metal sound, it kicks ass anyway. Besides, it was released in 2003 and, as far as I remember those days, Norway wasn't coming up with so many killer black metal albums anymore. Most of the old bands turned into lame caricatures. While some other's albums were mediocre to say the best about them. So, it was with newer bands like UrgehalTaakeTsjuder or 1349 which delivered the best Norwegian black metal of the early 00's.  
Nowadays, when I listen to this LP I see "Through Thick Fog till Death" as a great improvement when comparing it to Urgehal previous recordsObviously liked a lot their "Massive Terrestrial Strike" album from 1998, which was filled with that cold and pure raw Norsk black metal in the Darkthrone'ish vein. But the following LP "Atomkinder" was simply forgettable and it hardly impressed me with anything. Couple of lousy covers, some live recordings and dull black metal songs... sorry, nothing exceptional there! "Through Thick Fog till Death" is a great step forward, showing quality bigger than anything the band has done beforeYes, this album is better in every aspect, starting with its great production, through very good performance and of course very good songwriting and some of the best satanic anthems this band has ever done. Urgehal music has intensified a lot, they present more aggressive and powerful black metal played in fast tempo for most of the time. I like it that way, with such blasting fuckers as "Possessed (Raped by Evil)" or "Raise the Symbols of Satan". They catch your throat immediately and crush it with speedy riffage, blasting drums and croaky vocals of Trond Nefas. The pace is fast, everything sounds very violent, but the riffs are still relatively memorable and even if sometimes it all sounds like a mix between TsjuderRagnarok and Marduk, it just sounds better than your average black metal. Good thing though is that Urgehal sometimes comes back to their older style of mid paced, cold and grim black metal, in songs like "Satanic Deathlust" and "Invasion", which is very classic sounding tune.  
The album is filled with great songs. I've mentioned "Possessed (Raped by Evil)" and "Raise the Symbols of Satan", but also such "Satanic Deathlust", "Mirror Satan" and "Dead Cold December" are fantastic. And yeah, this is a must to have album for the fans of pure black metal from Norway. I only wish that Agonia didn't fuck up the artwork for the vinyl version of it. Compared to CD, it just looks awful. 
Standout tracks: as I mentioned 
Final rate: 80/100

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Tulus - Cold Core Collection

TULUS - Cold Core Collection (INDIE Recordings CD 2007)
Tulus, as well as their brother band Khold, is quite a special band, when speaking of the Norwegian black metal. From the very first demo they managed to come up with their own, original style, which became very characteristic to them and which none other band has imitated. Also their image was as intriguing as it was odd and unseen. All in all I think that Tulus is not a band for everyone and even some fans of Norwegian black metal may not like them so much. Well, personally I'm somewhere in between. I do like both Tulus and Khold, I like that grim and cold atmosphere of their music and for sure I respect them for creating something unique. On the other hand not everything that Sverre Stokland and Co. composed and recorded is that great and more so, I always feel a bit tired with their music, especially as it gets quite repetitious after a while. Anyway, it's not a big issue and the quality is usually great. And if it comes with their originality, then it's a super bonus, even if not everyone will like it. 
History of Tulus goes back to 1993, when the band was formed in Oslo. Through two decades they released several albums and demos. And here's a fantastic CD compilation, which brings all their early recordings, some of which you will never be able to find (demos), or which are just damn difficult to come across with (first two full length albums). And even if I would obviously prefer to have originals, "Cold Core Collection" serves well as an introduction to the band and I like what it compiled. And there's a lot of music spread over these two discs. 
Disc one is the better of the two, I think, with "Pure Black Energy" and "Mysterion" albums on it. Both albums are quite similar, when speaking of the quality and style and both contain some fantastic songs, in my opinion. There are some fast songs like "Grav", "Døderhulder" or "Samlerens kammer", some typical Tulus / Khold slow or mid paced, very rhythmic and bassy tracks ("Tjern"!!!) and more melodic and memorable pieces like "Søstre av natten" that even include female vocals. Even the brass section in "Skriket fra juvet" and violin used in "Kaldt" and "Midtvintermånegives killer (very creepy) result and I just wish there was more of this instrument present in Tulus music. So there's a lot of diversity within each of these albums, definitely more than on Khold records and it's an advantage for me.  
Tulus songs are pretty short, sometimes almost too short, but somehow – even though the aura is so cold and grim and everything seems so minimalistic here – it's fairly easy to listen to and memorable album. It's really interesting style of harsh sounding, but not noisy or chaotic black metal. This music has sometimes almost punkish simplicity and vibe, but it's played the black metal way, with obscure riffage and croaky vocals (this title "Pure Black Energy" describes it so perfectly!). I have to say that I like how it all sounds. I love the bass work – and the way this instrument sounds and has been arranged is surely one of the reasons why Tulus sounds so unique. Blodstrup's vocals are also killer, with his very characteristic voice and style of arrangements. The drumming is rather simple and far from impressive, but this music just doesn't require anything more than that. It's relatively easy for me to decide, which of these two albums I like more, because "Pure Black Energy" is better, with killer songs, etc., although I like the production of "Mysterion" more. And besides, "Mysterion" also contains some killer tracks like "Dommens fugl" or "Mysterion", but as overall I think that the debut is more interesting. 
And then the second disc, that contains "Samlerens kammer" (1994) and "Midtvintermåne" (1995) demo along couple of unreleased and very surprising covers of Obituary and David Bowie. Well, these demos, as you may guess, sound way rawer and more primitive when compared to both albums. But such "Midtvintermåne" is killer demo and I love its sheer, ferocious aggression, like in the title song for this demo. Also such "Inskripsjon etter jordferd" sound unbelievably well, so I am very, very happy to have a chance to listen to this demo, as I enjoy it just as much as the debut album. As for these cover tunes... well, let's just leave them as an interesting addition, but I have to say that Bowie's "Space Oddity" sounds great! 
I've noticed that this is actually a second edition of  "Cold Core Collection". The first one was released by Norwegian FaceFront Records in 2000, with utterly horrible cover artwork. The second edition came in 2007 from Indie Recordings, with better artwork and layout, although it's a shame that there's so little information on all recordings, with no original covers, old photographs or anything that would make the booklet also interesting. 
Standout tracks: "Tjern", "Søstre av natten", "Midtvintermåne", "Dommens fugl" 
Final rate: 80/100