Monday, 6 August 2018

Uhrilahja - En fördärvad värld

UHRILAHJA - En fördärvad värld (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2018)
Wolfspell Records' obsession for Finnish black metal continues with another representative of this scene, band called Uhrilahja. "En fördärvad värld" is their debut album and I can honestly say that it's a solid and enjoyable piece of black metal. I've listened to it dozens of times recently and really liked their music, despite its predictable and typical sound. But Uhrilahja proved to be a worthy band and their music should interest black metal fans for sure.  
The strongest aspect of "En fördärvad värld" is the easiness, with which Uhrilahja is able to combine ferocious, harsh black metal with plenty of memorable, ever-present melodies. They immediately evoke dark, mysterious aura but keep that cold and grim character of old school black metal. Partly it all reminds me some early Gorgoroth records ("Antichrist"), especially because the vocals sound a lot like Pest (so, I could add Obtained Enslavement here also, if you only get rid of their symphonic parts). But then you could add Finnish acts like Thy Serpent, Azaghal, Calvarium or even Goatmoon. Anyway, comparisons aside, I truly think that "En fördärvad värld" has a lot to offer and is a strong, interesting album. Vicious yet melodic black metal, with plenty of killer and catchy riffs, great production and performance... and awesome vocals! I feel like especially the first part of the album contains the best Uhrilahja songs, for example the slowest and most epic, very melancholic "Cold White Mantle" is just superb, but also "Flesh Hook Rituals" is very good also, I just love that atmosphere in it and combination of aggressive, fast black metal with harmony and keyboard fillings. And these are not the only songs, which caught my attention, Uhrilahja has many great ideas for their songs, arrangements, etc. So, I can assure you that if you’re a fan of good sounding, but not pointlessly primitive and simplistic black metal, then this album may interest you. I do recommend it, yes! 
Standout tracks: "Svarta själar", "Cold White Mantle", "Flesh Hook Rituals"  
Verdict: 70/100

Foedus - Foul of Bethlehem

FOEDUS - Foul of Bethlehem (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2018)
Once again Wolfspell Records searched through the Finnish woods and brought us yet another black metal project from there. That's an obsession almost! But when I listen to some of these absolutely killer Finnish bands like Kalmankantaja or Iku Turso, which you can also find in the catalogue of this excellent label, I think that it's an absolutely justified kind of obsession. Well, Foedus is another newcomer from Suomi, but to be honest, their debut is much more mediocre than I expected. It's solid piece of black metal, sure, there are some great aspects about it, but overall it just isn't anything what would really impress me a lot.  
But if you like your Finnish black metal to sound nasty, vicious and raw, then this stuff is for you. Because most of the content of this short album is exactly as such. There's plenty of fast paced type of black metal, very aggressive and ferocious sounding, with good dose of good riffage and dark, obscure atmosphere. But Foedus adds some melodic accents here and there, with some almost folky sounding type of harmonies, which gives a bit more varied result. It sounds pretty much typical for the Finnish black metal scene, to be honest, but there isn't anything wrong about it, I think. Do not expect them to sound to bloody harsh and evil as Horna or Sargeist though. Anyway, the first few songs sound not bad at all, after a while I started to get a little bored with "Foul of Bethlehem". I feel like they play the same type of riffs over and over again and none of the next songs brings anything more interesting than the previous ones. It all becomes too predictable, infantile and just mediocre. So, I don't think I will be returning to Foedus music too often. And I doubt this album will bring high interest in this band neither.  
Standout track: "Foul of Bethlehem"  
Verdict: 60/100  

Gyre of Incandescents - s/t

My first reaction and comment, after hearing first few minutes of "Gyre of Incandescents", was noticing the poor and very, very lo-fi production of this album. It literally sounds like you were listening to an album played from another room and through the walls. Or you had all the speakers placed in the boxes, so the sound was quite muffled. My second reaction was "fuck, these female vocals suck a lot". I truly do not like all singing parts from this chick, who calls herself Mia Raven and I would really delete them if I only could. Her voice is absolutely rubbish and why on earth did anyone think it would sound cool to include them on a harsh, simplistic black metal? No idea, but Gyre of Incandescents – please reconsider this and maybe do not use them again.  
OK then. It was pretty tough start for me, luckily though after a while I got used to the production of "Gyre of Incandescents" and actually managed to find some good music on this album. Gyre of Incandescents plays very atmospheric, melancholic kind of black metal and I have to admit that this project easily creates great dark and cold aura, which is perfect for this type of black metal. There are some great mesmerizing riffs here, some pretty melodic parts ("Source of Strength - Destruction"), so the music is mostly memorable and easy to listen to. But it was interesting to find “Final Hours”, which is utterly vicious and fast song, which release a lot of anger, so emotionally it is quite different to the rest of the album. 
Simplistic song structures are typical, even for such lengthy songs, but that repetitive riffage helps to create a proper feel, which is so damn intriguing in such bands. I can also admit that this buzzy guitar tone fits this music very well, so the album turned out to be a good listening experience. This album has its faults, female vox being the biggest problem, in my opinion. It’s far from being exceptional, but I think I could give it a spin every now and then, if I only feel a mood for such sorrowful, almost depressive black metal.  
Standout track: “Final Hours” 
Verdict: 60/100  

Friday, 27 July 2018

Hyrgal - Serpentine

HYRGAL - Serpentine (Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions CD 2018)
Hyrgal are French black metal project, which was started back in 2007, yet managed to release only split CD with Kairn in 2008 before taking a long break. Finally in 2016 Hyrgal was brought back to life and the result is their debut album "Serpentine" released by Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions (but previously it was released also in another CD version by Naturmacht Productions and cassette by Solar Asceticists Productions). Well, most of the LADLO releases is spectacular and "Serpentine" also leaves a very good impression. No surprise. 
Basically, I was into Hyrgal's music right from the very first seconds, when that eerie intro "L'Appel" finished and a song called "Mouroir" began. It definitely is my favourite part of the album, a very intense and aggressive, fast and vicious black metal song, which at the same time has a splendid dose of melody in the riffage and an interesting shift in the middle of the song, when the black metal cacophony is interrupted by an ambient, very dark and ghastly fragment. Great stuff. And boy, I am so glad that "Till" continues to bring us that utterly fast and neckbreaking black metal style, especially when it's not something alike to Marduk or other such hyper fast bands. Because the music of Hyrgal, despite being so aggressive and fast, has this melancholic and atmospheric feel, which is very interesting. And besides, this album never stubbornly sticks to just one rhythm or type of playing, which is why every song has something different and the whole album is quite diverse including the expected post black metal influence here and there). There's a lot of good songwriting, in my opinion, enough shredding riffs and good atmospheric parts to keep me interested. And the album is just around 35 minutes long, which is another very good aspect of “Serpentine”, for me at least, because I am tired with all these too long and forgettable albums. “Serpentine” may not be the most memorable and instantly hooky black metal album, it may also be too hipster for the “orthodox black metallers” and too savage and vicious for those, who like black metal to sound... not like black metal. Who cares for them both. 
I sincerely enjoyed "Serpentine", I think that this album definitely deserves an attention. More than just solid and very interesting thought-out. Another fine French black metal band! 
Standout tracks: "Mouroir", “Etrusca disciplina 
Verdict: 80/100 

Kalmankantaja / Iku Turso - Ikuinen Tuli

Finally, this split CD arrived. And I have to say that it easily fulfilled all my expectations and both bands delivered fantastic material. We're talking here about some of the most promising black metal acts from the current scene in Suomi!!! Both bands already proved they’re good, but if there’s someone who still have doubts, I hope that “Ikuinen Tuli” will dispel them all. 
First and foremost, we have here Kalmankantaja. An excellent project, which released a whole bunch of albums, splits and EPs – more than you could imagine. I haven’t had a chance to hear half of the stuff they recorded so far, but those releases, which I know – such as “Routamaa” and “Tyhjyys” albums – are splendid. Knowing the quality of their previous recordings, I was pretty certain that Kalmankantaja will not disappoint. And they did not! They provide killer black metal, played in that characteristic harsh, truly vicious and mostly very fast paced style, which is pretty common for many Finnish black metal bands. Unlike some stuff, which Kalmankantaja recorded previously, such as some parts of “Routamaa” (which was often slower, a bit mesmerizing), this time all their songs are mainly focused on that aggressive, savage and very bestial fast paced black metal. Their riffs are not totally derived of the melody, but I feel like this time melody plays a secondary role in Kalmankantaja music, giving a priority to anger and aggression. But when you hear a bit more melodic part, you simply know that Kalmankantaja has a good touch for it, because all melodic accents are great. And it works very well, I like how they create that malicious, cold aura in the music, I like these screaming vocals, which spit out all those insanely weird Finnish lyrics. Even the fact that these three songs are so ridiculously long (up to 8-9 minutes) doesn’t destroy the effect, especially if we deal with such godly anthems as “Valonkantajan nousu”. Or listen to neck-breaking “Tuonelan enkel”; hats off for this black metal masterpiece! Absolutely recommended band, in my opinion. 
Next we have Iku-Turso. This band blew my head off with “The Great Tower”, an album they released few months ago. I am so glad then that they do not waste time and I can listen to another killer material from them. Well, stylistically their music fits Kalmankantaja very well, although I have to say that Iku-Turso's black metal sounds much more like classic Norwegian stuff, in my opinion. It especially reminds me the earliest and most impressive works from Emperor (up to “In the Nightside Eclipse”), but also such bands as Enslaved (“Hordanes Land”) or Obtained Enslavement (“Soulblight”), Morgul’s “Lost in Shadows Grey” and so on. Again, there’re some insanely fast parts, but the music is more balanced, more epic and for example such “An Organism in an Azoic Era” is that majestic, raw black metal piece, which you could put next to “Emperor” MLP. I really like such obscure, aggressive, yet atmospheric black metal, with good sense of melody, great riffs, proper fills of keyboards... and these very screaming, harsh vocals, which remind me how young Ihsahn used to sound when he was young... Actually, everything here clicks perfectly; raw production, great songwriting, performance... So, if you’re fan of early Norwegian atmospheric black metal, you better give Iku-Turso a listen. This is fantastic band, which is worth all recommendations! 
Standout tracks:Tuonelan enkel”, “The Inanimate Essence of the Colossus” 
Verdict: 85/100