Thursday, 17 August 2017

Sear Bliss - Glory and Perdition

SEAR BLISS - Glory and Perdition (RED STREAM Records CD 2004)
What an exceptional band they are! Sear Bliss is a name, which I want to be known to every black metal listener. Their albums belong to the best atmospheric BM ever recorded and such "The Grand Destiny" or "Phantoms" are mandatory titles for your collection. "Glory and Perdition" from 2004 also belongs to my favourite Sear Bliss recordings. Although the artwork brought a huge change from Kris Verwimp's cycle of eagle and witch, musically this album is a fantastic continuation of the best previous Sear Bliss achievements. And who knows, maybe it's even their best album, although I don't think that picking one in case of this band is even possible. There are three or four equally amazing albums in their discography, so how can we choose just one??? Impossible. 
Basically, every song on this album sounds great. It's fantastic and impressive atmospheric black metal, where the balance between the dark aura, melody and the harshness of black metal is exactly as it should be. And there's a lot of dynamics and energy in this album, what makes it sound anything but not weak and boring. Whether the band speeds up and comes up with aggressive, powerful stuff or focus on bombastic, epic and monumental parts, where keyboards or the ever-amazing brass section have an important role to play – it always sounds fantastic and perfect. may not be big fan of keyboards for example, may not like melodic black metal too much, but Sear Bliss is in their own league and plays this stuff like no one else. They are good at it and I will be surprised if someone will not appreciate it. In songs like "Two Worlds Collide", "Birth of Eternity", "Night Journey" and "Shores of Death" the band sounds stunning and I love how the cooperation between the guitars, intense drumming, keyboard and trombone isWith the shrieking voice of Andras Nagy (who's been joined in two songs by Attila Csihar) the music creates mystical, dark, sometimes almost cosmic aura that is impossible to resist. 
Additionally, Sear Bliss music is unbelievably catchy and memorable. I do realize that it's a bit weird to think that black metal can be catchy, but these songs are fuckin MEMORABLE! It's one of those albums, which you love from start and where every song is an instant ear-catcher. They bring attention with very impressive songwriting and arrangements, filled with excellent ideas and the production is simply top-notch. All in all, there's absolutely nothing I can moan about "Glory and Perdition", and once again Sear Bliss gets 90/100 from me. They're one of my favourite atmospheric black metal bands ever! 
Standout tracks: "Two Worlds Collide", "Birth of Eternity", "Night Journey", "Shores of Death" 
Final rate: 90/100 

Wound - Engrained

WOUND - Engrained (F.D.A. Records CD 2017)
Half a year since the release of Wound's second album "Engrained" I finally decided to give it a chance. I wasn't hurrying my ass, to be honest I wasn't even expecting much from this album, mainly because I think that the debut full length "Inhale the Void" was pretty mediocre. A small light in the darkness came with the song from "Souls of Eternal Damnation" split 7"EP (with Obscure Infinity), which I liked a lot. And now "Engrained" is out and well, I have to say that this is fantastic album and it does sound better than I expected. Which is a nice surprise of corpse! 
Wound's "Engrained" should be a must to have for all fans of melodic death metal from Sweden. I am sure than such names like At the Gates, early In Flames or some little less remembered death / black acts like Gates of Ishtar, Hypocrite, Unanimated, Ablaze My Sorrow or A Canorous Quintet will appear in many reviews as comparisons. And they are right, I think, because Wound performs very alike type of melodic death / black metal. Presence of the Swedish vibe is obvious here, not only with the melodic parts, but even with the D-beat stuff, which Wound comes with quite often, and with the screaming vocals. The production is a thing, which some will discuss, I am sure. "Engrained" sounds really heavy and surprisingly raw, it's like Wound wanted to get rid of the typical death metal sound and swap it for darker and colder production. For me it is a bonus, because I would never want such album to have too polished and digitalized sound. 
The problem, which I often have with melodic death metal is that too often it sounds just too soft, not aggressive enough. Another thing is that it gets boring after a while. No such problems with "Engrained", which is good news for me. Even though the album is 45 minutes long, there's enough of good songwriting to keep me interested and definitely the melodic part doesn't make the music sound weak and soft. These riffs and melodies can be catchy and memorable, but the music sounds pissed off and savage anyway. Wound picked up enough of vicious and aggressive parts to make me happy. The music gives me a nice kick especially in the blasting parts (and there are quite many of them), when it truly has a grim, violent manner and gets even close to black metal (a'ka the good old No Fashion releases from the late 90's). I am particularly glad to hear these fast parts, because it's not often, when we can find a band, which would remind all these Swedish classics like Sacramentum, A Canorous Quintet, even Ceremonial Oath... Even the vocals are a mixture of growls and nasty screams. Anyway, there's a good balance between the melodic parts and the ferocious stuff and from start to finish the music sounds interesting. I sincerely enjoyed it all, melodic songs like "Morbid Paradigm" and pissed off, vicious outbursts like "The Gateways to Madness". Very good listen, very recommended release and a positive surprise from Wound. Well done. 
Standout tracks: "I am Havoc", "Morbid Paradigm", "Of Non Serviam" , "Engrained"
Final rate: 75/100 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Depraved Literature part X - Tough Riffs issues 1-3

It's always great to read some underground (extreme) metal fanzines. The more is there, the better, I always say. Recently I had a pleasure to get and read three issues of Tough Riffs Magazine. My first encounter with it was by their website which I found as damn interesting, filled with interviews with some of the best death metal bands out there. And later I saw also that some of this material has been printed. There are three issues, so it was surely a pleasant surprise that the editor of Tough Riffs Dima Andreyuk was so kind to send me his works. This is why I do this article now. Let me just say that I think that all these three issues of Tough Riffs are still available, so get in touch with Dima. Or you can check the website, as all the content from these issues is there as well. 
But let's get to the point. Tough Riffs is death metal magazine. No black or thrash, just death metal, in all its forms and styles - from old school to brutal and slam, even with a bit of grind here and there. As such it reminds me Chaos Magazine. It focused on one genre and includes some more well-known and respected bands, as well some new acts... and some bands, which are on the battlefield for years, but they still live deep in the underground. All issues are professionally printed, issues 1-2 are in colour, but I prefer the style of issue 3, with its black / white and more interesting layout. It looks much better and underground. There are only interviews. No reviews, no articles. For me it's OK, I don't need reviews. I know they're usually an important part of every zine and magazine, but instead we can get more interviews. With 40 plus pages, every issue is filled with chats and with some cool bands. The quality of interviews is varied - some are better, more in-depth, some are quite short and basic. Questions, which Dima asks, are all music and band focused, he doesn't really ask about anything else. This again has good and bad aspects - good, as the music is what counts the most. Bad, as the interviews are pretty standard and usually more topics would give more in depth and interesting conversations. Anyway, I don't moan. I've read all issues with pleasure and it was nice to go through Tough Riffs. I'm not into every band from Tough Riffs 1-3. Usually it's like 5 bands I do like a lot, 5 which I know but I'm not so much into (brutal, slam death metal mostly) and then there are some bands, which I've never heard of. So, let's go through the content of every issue. 
Issue 1 contains chats with: Skinless, Protector, Brutality, Grave, Lividity, Profanity, Dead Infection, TON, Internal Bleeding, Soils of Fate, Demonomacy, Defeated Sanity, Internal Suffering, Fulgora, Darkall Slaves, Beneath, Disgrace, Nailgun Massacre, Gortuary, Horrified. 
Yeah... I've never heard the music of quite a lot of these bands. I am a fan of such Grave, Protector, Horrified, Nailgun Massacre, Brutality, so it was cool to read these chats. But I have to say that the best interviews are those with Demonomacy (I have to check their demos now, damn!) and Profanity (I immediately bought their "Slaughtering Thoughts" album after reading this chat haha). Interviews with Lidivity, Brutality and Horrified were pretty interesting also. Generally, it's a good work and solid debut issue. I lack maybe deeper interviews sometimes and from my personal taste, there are too few bands that I am personally into... but I've read all interviews anyway. And enjoyed them! 
Issue 2 has interviews with: Misery Index, Pestilence, Morta Skuld, Ossuary, Master, Malignancy, Prophecy, Creepmime, Blood, morgue, Dehuman, Burial Ritual, Kraanium, Cerebral Effusion, Nervous Impulse, Extinctionist 
The second issue brings also some bands, which I like a lot, as well as plenty, which I either don't know or don't care about. But I definitely did enjoy chats with Master, Morgue, CreepmimeDehumanMorta Skuld... also Pestilence, although I had a bit of laugh reading that Patrick Mameli cries that all fans want to hear only old Pestilence songs, not the new ones. What a surprise, considering that old albums are legendary, while the new ones are shit. There's a bunch of brutal death metal / slam bands presented as well, but all I can say is that I've read these interviews, but I cannot say that many of these bands would interest me. Generally, the quality of second issue is the same as issue one, both are pretty similar, also when speaking of the layout. 
Issue 3 with: Monstrosity, Sinister, Malevolent Creation, Devoid, Morbius, Disharmonic Orchestra, Immortal Suffering, Holy Terror, Aborted, Morpheus Descends, Criminal Element, Gorgasm, Rotten Sound, CryptopsyPsycroptic, Blessed Sickness and Mercyless 
Issue three is the best of all, in my opinion. I prefer the black / white colouring it has way more, the layout and design is also more interesting... and there are I think some better interviews. They have more interesting questions and are longer, more in depth. Also, the choice of the bands is more what I like, because I'm big fan of quite few of these acts. They're all death metal of corpse, but some killer names are here like Monstrosity, Sinister, Malevolent Creation, Devoid, Morbius, Morpheus Descends, Mercyless. Still no reviews or anything except the interviews, but I don't mind that. This issue was a fantastic reading and I enjoyed it a lot. Good to see that Tough Riffs has evolved and got even better, so I am sure that issue number four will keep the great quality. And bring more great interviews. Very recommended then, check for more details. all interviews are also published on this website, in case you prefer to read from your laptop or tablet.