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 

Gehenna - Adimiron Black

GEHENNA - Adimiron Black (MOONFOG Productions CD 1998)
Adimiron Black" is a fourth full length album from Norwegian band Gehenna, released back in 1999. And this is a very surprising release. At time of its release I was almost shocked that a band, which was famous for their fantastic dark and malicious black metal records, with a strong atmospheric and almost symphonic sound decided to change their music for more death / black metal sort of style. Obviously at that time many old Norwegian acts started to evolve and change their music – with better or worse results. Let's just listen to late 90's albums from Satyricon, Mayhem, Immortal, Arcturus, Enslaved, to name fewIt was really weird to watch this development. I wonder what are your thoughts on it nowadays and what were you thinking back in the day about it. I have to say that I like what some of these bands have done, but some other really turned into garbage. Gehenna is one of those bands, which I can say that have done quite good work and their fourth album is not bad at all. Not as good as their earlier stuff, but solid and enjoyable for sure. 
So, gone is the atmospheric black metal. Instead "Adimiron Black" presents really pissed off and aggressive mixture of death and black metal. Since Sarcana has left the band (along Dirge Rep), keyboards parts have been very limited and their influence on the sound and songs is much smaller. The album is more riff based and mostly displays an aggressive and vicious wall of guitar ripping with lots of blasts. The music sounds quite powerful and violent, it definitely is not pure black metal anymore, although you can easily hear influences from black metal, in many riffs, arrangements and even in the vocals of Dolgar and Sanrabb. I have to say that this change from atmospheric black metal to death / black metal from "Adimiron Black" sounds quite good and for me personally this actually is an interesting change. Especially because Gehenna managed to come with music that sounds quite original and I think that none other band has ever sounded alike to this album. More so, "Adimiron Black" is filled with some killer songs and so it's just damn good listen (unlike "Murder", their next album, which sadly wasn't that good anymore). 
While "Malice" was an hour long and was very extended, "Adimiron Black" is only 35 minutes long, which is good. This way the music sounds even more powerful and straight forward, more aggressive and has no signs of time waste or fillers. A lot of these songs, with their uncompromising sound, kick ass hard. Let's just mention such "The Killing Kind" with its almost thrashy / black feeling accompanied by some keyboard background or "Deadlights", which has some of the best riffs on the album. When you listen to these songs, or the following title track, you can hear that the band has changed their riffs style so much that it's almost like completely different act now, which is equally good as bad. Good, because the band did what they liked and didn't repeat themselves. Bad, because if you loved the previous albums and expected them to carry on their original style, then "Adimiron Black" disappointed you. I do of course miss the mystic and haunted aura of the previous albums, but luckily "Adimiron..." offers enough good music to let this small disappointment go. 
I am glad though, especially as a fan of two previous records, that Gehenna hasn't completely forgotten about the atmospheric side of their music and here and there they included more atmospheric partswhere keyboards play a little more important role. Of course they don't sound like haunting and malicious black metal anymore, but it's better this than nothing. In the title song all these parts with keyboards sound pretty much like the previous album, so that's a small consolation for the older fans of the band haha (it's fantastic song, by the way!). Very slow paced and dark, heavy sounding "The Devil's Work" is also a noteworthy song and one of my favourites on the album. It probably is the most atmospheric track here, so it should yet appeal to the fans of old Gehenna. 
Standout tracks: "Deadlights", "Adimiron Black", "Devil's Work" 
Final rate: 75/100