Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Grave Miasma - Exalted Emanation

GRAVE MIASMA - Exalted Emanation (SEPULCHRAL VOICE - LP 2009)
Grave Miasma quickly became one of my favourite death / black metal bands and in my private ranking they hold a very high place. But it cannot be different if they keep unleashing such a fury as "Odori Sepulcrorum" or "Exalted Emanation". The latter was released back in 2009 and it's a fantastic debut effort from Grave Miasma. Although it has 35 minutes on the clock, it's considered an EP, but that is not something I would care. What matters is that this is absolutely intriguing and mesmerizing piece of black / death metal and music, which really stands out from the overcrowded scene with something special and unique. 
Obviously, there are many other bands, which create similar type of extreme music. There's Necros Christos, Teitanblood, Grave Upheaval, Irkallian Oracle, QrixkuorSheol, Embrace of Thorns and more. Each of them is great and unique In its own way. And each is characterised with this very dense, thick as a cemetery fog, almost claustrophobic wall of sound, which immensely crushes with its massive heaviness. This style of music is something what can be quite hard to get into, if you're not into such style and it can also feel quite one dimensional and unreadable, due to its density and close to cacophony, chaotic, often reverberating sound. But this is why you must treat it carefully, listen to it with attention, let these sounds swallow you. You need to immerse into this blackened abyss to find method in this madness. This is exactly how Grave Miasma's music sound like also. 
It’s thick, cacophonous, insanely heavy and vicious death / black metal, with utterly obscure, sepulchral atmosphere and fantastic ghoulish vocals, which add a lot to increase this bestial, evil aura. Everything is very well balanced, between faster parts and some slower tracks like that killer piece titled "Pillars". Here and there you may even be able to pick up a small trace of harmonious riff, but for me personally the most distinctive aspect of Grave Miasma music is how it can put you into some sort of trance. It's almost like a mantra, what can actually go in hand with the occult concept Grave Miasma presents. And damn, this is one of the darkest and most eerie, ghastly sounding music ever. Devouring, passionate, mesmerizing sounds... In my opinion this EP is close to perfection and I dare to say that Grave Miasma already reached a cult status. 
Standout tracks: “Pillars”, “Arisen Through the Grave Miasma” 
Verdict: 90/100 

Cultes des Ghoules - Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths

CULTES DES GHOULES - Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths (UNDER THE SIGN OF GARAZEL - CD 2018)
Unlike many of my colleagues or people, who I am in contact with, I personally am not such a huge enthusiast of Cultes des Ghoules music. I have respect for them, appreciate some of the stuff they recorded, but I'm far from ejaculating on every sound of Cultes des Ghoules name. To say the best about two of their latest releases, "Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love" bored me and "The Rise of Lucifer" was forgettable as hell. So, I wasn't really looking forward to listen to "Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths", but since I got a copy of it pretty quickly, I sat down one night and started to listen to it. 
And I do not regret this sleepless night. Maybe the correct conditions, which were surrounding me, helped, but this album definitely speaks to me much better than the previous full length. It's definitely an impressive and worthy piece of obscure, morbid black metal and if you're a fan of the previous Cultes des Ghoules recordings, then I am sure you will worship this new one as well. For me, this is a solid and interesting album. But problem with Cultes des Ghoules, also with "Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths", is that the fragments of pure genius are mixed up with some dull and forgettable parts. So, if we have an album, which is 60 minutes long then I would gladly cut it up to some 40 minutes max and get a spectacular record all the way through. 
Anyway, a lot of this music is just great black metal. Very obscure and eerie sounding, with some fantastic riffs and bass work - which remind me the old Greek scene a bit, to be honest. Al these fragments, when Cultes incorporates keyboards (or maybe something like pipe organ) is absolutely spectacular and an instant goose skin (listen to "Children of the Moon"). It sounds incredible and the atmosphere, which is created is exactly what I love to hear from such bands. Aggressive, simplistic and utterly harsh black metal dominates on the album though - and as I mentioned, it has its better and worse moments. Sometimes they come up with absolutely unique ideas, arrangements, which really put the band away from the common and conventional black metal. And obviously set up the bar high. Even the vocals are not always in the typical black metal shrieky vein. They're more like howlings, I think. The best effect comes, when the music is slow paced, to be fair. I'm thinking here especially about "The Serenity of Nothingness", which is just superb song. It's like Necromantia mixed with Tulus, Master's Hammer and fuck knows what else. The whole “Woods of Power” sounds even like Beherit from “Drowning Down the Moon”! Anyway, the result is excellent, especially with that vicious, dark and ghoulish atmosphere. I think “Day of Joy” is the only song, which I would really delete from the album. Obviously it’s only my opinion and some other may find its more chaotic, faster sound as more interesting... But opinions are as many as ass’ holes. And who cares for other than your own. To sum it all up, it’s good album. Definitely worth to get, so if you’ve been into Cultes music before, you will love it. 
Standout tracks:  "The Serenity of Nothingness""Children of the Moon" 
Verdict: 75/100

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Witch Head Nebula - Krzyk z próżni

I'm sorry for such a short and laconic review... but my will to write anything about Witch Head Nebula is close to zero. I got debut album of this Polish black metal band together with the newest Cultes des Ghoules album, so you should guess that my whole attention went for "Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths". Truly deserved. "Krzyk z próżni" had to wait for its turn, but when I started to listen to it, I had to dose this music in parts, because it annoyed me from the very beginning. It's boring and utterly forgettable harsh black metal, which to me has nothing to offer. Couple of great riffs, even a bit more melodic parts are not enough, when the whole material lacks so much. Every song sounds the same, is completely derived of anything what would really impress me, except the same one dimensional, dull black metal chaotic riffage with some truly weak vocals and bleak, but tiring atmosphere. These are some wasted 45 minutes in my life, which I will never get back, I'm afraid. And I still wonder why some labels find time and money to release such albums. Maybe their tolerance for harsh, simplistic black metal is bigger than mine... I require a bit more than just raw production and couple of solid riffs. 
Verdict: 40/100

Nekron - Worshipers

NEKRON - Worshipers (PUTRID CULT - CD 2018)
I have to say that I have quite a problem with this project. Generally, you could say that Nekron is a pretty cool Burzum - worship and as such this project is fun to listen to. Sure, why not. There are four pretty solid songs on "Worshipers" EP and I bet it will gain some attention. But personally, the more I was listening to "Worshipers", the less I liked it. I do understand the general intention of its author, to capture that characteristic rough, mesmerizing atmosphere of old Burzum. It's a great source of influence for many projects. But damn, it feels like he limits everything to one or two ideas and every song sounds the same here. The same type of riffs, keyboard addition, the same slow tempo... But if lack originality is not a problem for me, then a complete lack of creativity definitely is. Even if I like some part of this music, I quickly gor bored with it at the same time. It's all just too fuckin poor, so after one or two spins I absolutely had no will to spend more time with it. 
Another thing is production of "Worshipers". I do like when black metal sounds rough and obscure. But "Worshipers" has this terrible sort of homemade sound, which I hate. For instance, guitars sound like they were computer-generated sounds rather than a normal instrument. So annoying! It all completely lacks that necro, dark and evil aura of early black metal from Norway. I wonder then how much better would these songs sound if the production was more "proper". I can sense that the effect would actually be pretty awesome, despite such one dimensional type of music. 
I do remember that the previous material from Nekron got quite positive review from me. Technically it didn't differ much from "Worshipers". And this EP is not terrible either. But I have enough and I doubt I will feel a need to come back to it often. There's too much awesome music around to waste time for it. 
Verdict: 55/100

Monday, 8 October 2018

Resurgency - No Worlds... nor Gods Beyond

RESURGENCY - No Worlds... nor Gods Beyond (F.D.A. Records - LP 2017)
It's been a while since the debut album of Resurgency came out. "False Enlightenment" was released in 2012, so it took Resurgency five years to unleash their second full length "No Worlds... nor Gods Beyond". In the meantime they changed the label - Hellthrasher for F.D.A. Records. There was also a line up change... But musically not much has changed at all and if you remember their brutal, mostly fast paced, insanely vicious death metal from "False Enlightenment", then you could expect its continuation. 
Which is absolutely fine for me, I enjoyed their debut and I also enjoy this second attack, even though cannot say that Resurgency music is anything exceptional in the field of death metal. Nope, it's not, but if you want to hear some solid, well arranged and played death metal in the vein of Sinister, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Deicide, Monstrosity and Vader, then this album is for you! As such, it doesn't surprise or offer things, which you wouldn't already know from this style of playing, but I can guarantee the band did good work here and this material is solid and brutal as hell. I absolutely love these intense, utterly vicious and aggressive riffs, which not only have a nice old school vibe, but also bring an evil, dark atmosphere, which I always like to hear in death metal. A lot of the music is quite memorable, despite its violent and aggressive nature, so just like in Vader, you can be sure than these riffs will stick in your head for a long time. And the faster the music is, the more powerful and effective it sounds, especially with that top-notch production and brilliant drumming. 
So, pure straight forward, intense death metal is here. And it sounds damn solid and enjoyable in my opinion. If you're a fan of any of the bands I mentioned above, make sure you get "No Worlds... nor Gods Beyond". 
Standout tracks: "Thresholds of Infinite Pain", "Progenitors of Suffering", "Through the Gate Inside Not" 
Verdict: 75/100 

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Midvinter - At the Sight of the Apocalypse Dragon

MIDVINTER - At the Sight of the Apocalypse Dragon (BLACK DIAMOND - CD 1997)
I wonder how many of you will remember Swedish band called Midvinter. Formed around mid 90's, they recorded one album only, "At the Sight of the Apocalypse Dragon" in 1997, got a tiny bit of attention, but nothing more happened to them, really. Midvinter were just another mediocre Scandinavian black metal band, which tried to jump on the trend for melodic, a bit symphonic black metal. And just like many similar bands, they soon disappeared from the scene. Few remember them nowadays. I do. And I still listen to them sometimes. Surprisingly, the album defends itself pretty well nowadays. 
Nowadays, when I listen to "At the Sight of the Apocalypse Dragon" I can admit that there was some potential behind Midvinter. They definitely knew how to play their instruments; this album is filled with quite a solid dose of great music and Midvinter had enough ideas to win my support. I'm almost surprised how good it feels to listen to this album nowadays, how memorable, but well played and composed it is. In the field of melodic black metal there aren’t many bad things you could accuse Midvinter for. Their songs are a good mixture of melodic riffs, aggressive and fast parts, symphonic, epic black metal and the balance between all these styles is very good. There's a lot of dynamics in this music, a lot is going on and with one memorable riff after another, with one hooky part after another, it becomes an easily listenable and enjoyable album from the beginning. Imagine a good mixture of Swedish melodic black metal in the vein of Dissection, Sacramentum, Vinterland, Throne of Ahaz, Mork Gryning or Gates of Ishtar (“Dödfödd”) with Norwegian symphonic black metal from bands like Old Man's Child, early Dimmu Borgir and Odium (“Moonbound”)... This is pretty much how I would describe "At the Sight of the Apocalypse Dragon". And it's not bad at all.  
If there was anything what I would really say against this album, then it's a bit too long. 63 minutes is just too much for me and with most of the songs extended to crazy 9 minutes, the music becomes a bit dull and repetitive. Apart from some very distinctive fragments, like for instance those, when Midvinter uses clean vocals, everything is based upon similar patterns and type of riffs. Which is OK, but with 63 minutes on the clock I do have problems how can I distinguish one song from another. There are few parts or ideas, which I don't like so much, especially when Midvinter music becomes a tiny bit too sugary sweet melodic for me or with the way they used keyboards. But the general idea to combine melodic riff as a base, played with fast drums and aggressive, vicious vocals is, as typical for Swedish black metal scene, always nice to listen to. It's good that there's always aggression, viciousness and dark, cold atmosphere in the music, only sometimes interrupted by an epic fragment. 
So, I listen to "At the Sight of the Apocalypse Dragon" and surprisingly enjoy it more than I expected to. It may be mediocre album, when compared to some of the best Swedish black metal efforts of the late 90's, but it's just nice to listen to. 
Standout tracks: "Dödfödd”, “Moonbound 
Verdict: 70/100