Friday, 17 September 2021

Grieving - Songs for the Weary

GRIEVING - Songs for the Weary (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2021)

Greg from Godz ov War do surprise from time to time and puts some less obvious sounding bands in his label. But to hear such Grieving right next to Cultum Interitum was the biggest surprise of all so far hah. Luckily, it turned out to be good, so I can only admire this guy's nose for good bands. But what is Grieving? Well, they play classic (stoner) doom metal! And are Polish, what also surprised me, because I don’t think such music is so common on this land. All band members are also in more black or death metal acts, but I don't care about most of them, so that was not a selling point for me, by the way. But let's go to the business. 

I'm not big expert on that sort of metal. But I do like to spin some old Sabbath albums from time to time, like everyone else. And I do like some other old bands too, mostly giving them a listen when doing some work and just playing some music from YouTube with headphones on my ears. It is quite relaxing, you know hah! Well, to be honest Grieving really did surprise with their quality. Their music is so memorable and so catchy that it is impossible to resist it. I love these stoned riffs, which pit you in that heroin trance of some sort. They are just monstrous and super catchy. And fuck, vocals are excellent. Wojciech Kałuża sometimes sounds like the Stanley dude from Alice In Chains (“This Godless Chapel”), other time he reminds me Reverend Bizarre dude...  That flow and doomy riffage do remind me Reverend Bizarre, but also Cathedral, Saint Vitus or Count Raven. And probably many other bands, as I doubt that Grieving was doing anything extra original. I don’t even care, but I do enjoy "Songs for the Weary" a lot. This album is awesome and from the songwriting to its flawless, powerful production, it has everything you need. Damn, what a nice surprise (yeah, I already used that word few times earlier hah). And a great break from the usual black and death metal shit I terrorize my ears every day hah! Give them a spin! 

Verdict: 80/100

Cultum Interitum - Veneration of the New Dawn

CULTUM INTERITUM - Veneration of the New Dawn (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2021)

Time came for the second ominous presentation from Cultum Interitum. After confronting their debut "Poison of Being", I was fully ready with sharpened knives for "Veneration of the New Dawn" and I have to say that I do not feel disappointed with the content of this album. From its visual aspect to the musical offering, "Veneration of the New Dawn" is a solid and noteworthy piece of death / black metal, which you should not let go by. Although you need to remember that it's not really your typical black metal. Also, it is not music, which you would describe with such words as memorable, catchy or pleasant. Well, the whole aura of "Veneration of the New Dawn" music, as well as the riffage and everything else are incredibly thick, heavy and cavernous... They all are incredibly sinister and dark, echoing like in the deep, pitch black, in the obscure abyss, surrounding you from every side and taking into madness. 

Even vocals are not like your typical vocals, but more like blood freezing ghoulish voices. They do correspondent well with that vicious wall of harsh guitar riffage and the whole result gives rather disturbing experience. Definitely it is not something you hardly hear anywhere else, which is a great achievement of Cultum Interitum, in my opinion. But it is something what immediately let me put this album next to efforts from the likes of Grave Upheaval, for instance. Even if there can be some differences between these two bands, that general aura and style of their music can be quite alike sometimes. 

The music, with the riffs, arrangements, drumming, etc is rather simplistic, not to say primitive. I doubt that someone will call it spectacular, Cultum are not a band, which has "fireworks" in their songs. It is more focusing on creating that mentioned atmosphere, not on delivering headbanging riffs and other such stuff. It is one of these albums, which you better listen to in certain conditions, if you want it to speak to you properly. Most of that music goes slowly, almost crawling with its heaviness and fierceness. I do enjoy that trance like, sinister vibe it has though, there’s always a good moment to listen to such stuff in the night. And well, I have to say that Cultum Interitum do stand out on the Polish extreme metal scene strongly. 

Verdict: 80/100

Hegemoon / Wartödd - W majestacie bluźnierstwa

HEGEMOON / WARTODD - majestacie bluźnierstwa (FALLEN TEMPLE - CD 2021)

After a longer break from reviews, time came for few words about the Hegemoon / Wartödd split CD titled "W majestacie bluźnierstwa", which has just been released by Fallen Temple. We have there two Polish black metal bands, whose music styles are quite similar... which is that harsh, obscure, necro stuff, with a bit of monumental feel too. So, it's not just boring and useless primitive guitar shred, but some great riffs with even more melodic parts can be found for sure. Especially Hegemoon was able to catch my interest, with tracks like "Zgnij na krzyżu kłamstw", where they really did a good job, also with the production, which has that proper balance between raw and ugly sound and its clearness. They surely have a better quality in their music, but Wartödd is not bad at all too. Even harsher when speaking of the production, their music really reminds me some of the 90's Polish black metal demos or albums - which may have exactly been their intention.  

Anyway, I really do like the effort from both bands, I enjoyed this CD quite much, even if I don't listen to such music often anymore. But maybe this is why "W majestacie bluźnierstwa" interested me more than I expected. It is just rare to grab something in this vein, what would be that good, I think. By the way, it's been more that 15 years now, since I have listened to Hegemoon for the last time. Back in the early to mid 00's I had their Hegemoon / Runes of Dianceht split and "Tron zła" CDs in the reviews section of my old fanzine. I would never believe to hear this band ever again. But here they are, still alive and well. 

Verdict: 70/100

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Serpentrance - Akra Tapeinosis

SERPENTRANCE - Akra Tapeinosis (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2021)

When reviewing Gnosis with "Omens from the Dead Realm" album recently, I mentioned that this is one of the best black metal releases in some time for me. And surely one of the best, if not the best, Godz ov War release till then. Well, I didn't have to wait long before my (brave or not) statement would go under a serious doubt. Because here is Serpentrance with their debut album "Akra Tapeinosis". This album also left me totally fuckin' speechless. Maybe even more than Gnosis. For two reasons - I didn't expect anything from this completely unknown band at all. And they are from Russia - and damn, have I ever heard at least a decent black metal from there? There are some great death metal bands there, sure, but black metal? Hmmm, I don't remember anything worthy. Serpentrance come out of nowhere and just blew my mind off. I like every aspect of their music and what they did on "Akra Tapeinosis" - starting with a brilliant mixture of black and doom, even a bit of death metal and finishing with that great necro, obscure atmosphere, which so overwhelms the listener from the very first till very last second of the album.  

Oh, the atmosphere is the most important here. So, I do need to mention first how mesmerizing is that music. While Serpentrance do like to burst with some fast and aggressive parts (where they have almost a bit of that violent war metal feel with its chaos and viciousness), for most of the time music slows down into doomy, hypnotizing parts. In result, it can put you almost in sort of ritualistic trance – which is where the band name fits so well. The atmosphere of the music and its riffs, even vocals are really awesome. In songs like "Underneath Babylon" it sounds absolutely brilliant, this song goes for over ten minutes and there's not even a single dull moment or something. Great riffs, fantastic vocals, including some female yells, which so well can complete that haunted, eerie aura... Top quality. Serpentrance came up with many great, but most importantly fresh, ideas, their arrangements are all interesting and the music does not go below certain (high) quality even for a minute. Obviously, I am sure that not everyone will be able to catch that feeling of Serpentrance music, it’s not really black metal for everyone, especially since it doesn’t necessarily sound like a typical black metal. But that it yet another great aspect of "Akra Tapeinosis". I am convinced and really appreciated what Serpentrance did here, so I can only recommend this album – get the CD or the vinyl, but please give them a chance. 

Standout track: “Underneath Babylon” 

Verdict: 85/100

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Ulcer - Dead Souls Cathedral

ULCER - Dead Souls Cathedral (MYTHRONE Promotions / DEFENSE Records - CD 2021)

I will not exaggerate if I say that Ulcer belongs to my favourite Polish death metal bands. They gained my eternal support mainly for "Heading Below". This is a killer album, in my opinion. Damn, "Grant Us Death" was also very, very cool. So, I was eager to listen to this new onslaught, believing that Ulcer will not disappoint. And they did not disappoint, obviously. Although, let me be honest - I think that "Heading Below" was a better album than "Dead Souls Cathedral". Both albums are quite different and personally, I just liked what was on "Heading..." more. Which doesn't mean that "Dead Souls..." is not good, no worries. 

Well, what is that difference then? "Heading Below" was nothing, but straight up Dismember worship death metal album. It had everything what characterizes Swedish death metal and Dismember especially, but interestingly, I think that Ulcer managed to come up with almost perfect summation of that style. Riffage, harmonies, vocals, the production - everything was top notch for me. "Dead Souls Cathedral" has minimalized these Dismember-esque influences a lot. There's still a bit of that Swedish death metal shit here, of corpse, but it is not something what would dominate over these songs. Stylistically, this album is way more diverse and brings a whole spectrum of different influences, from Demonical or Grave and other Swedish bands, through Gorefest ("Erase" LP) groove and Bolt Thrower heaviness, up to doom / death metal even. There's still a lot of that melodic stuff here, even leads have often that more harmonious sound, like in "Disintegration". But generally, the album is focused on heavier stuff. 

It sounds interesting, sure it does. I believe that Ulcer came up with much more original and intriguing album, it's not a style, which would be so common. Just check the song structures (with the average five to six minutes for a song), how Ulcer builds the tension, how they put the strong accent on creating the atmosphere rather than focusing on the vile brutality and aggression. This is where all those more melodic and almost gloomy parts come up, like in "Cold Darkness". This is also where some of the keyboard played backgrounds have been used, which is also something pretty cool. Generally, I think it is a good album, but one, which requires a bit more time from me, to really get into it.  

Standout tracks: "Those Black Gods", “Die With Us”, “Dead Souls Cathedral” 

Verdict: 75/100

Faeces - Nihilominus

FAECES - Nihilominus (DEFENSE / MYTHRONE Promotion - CD 2021)

There are days, when I really need more brutal musical kick, straight in the face and with no bullshit. Something what would even wake the dead up. Faeces' "Nihilominus" is a kind of album, which can deliver that, bursting out with great, brutal energy and fierceness. Cool. But I am surprised that I never had a chance to hear a Polish band with twenty years of existence and four albums behind. That's very unlike me, really. On the other hand, I do skip many brutal death or death / grind bands, because it's not necessarily my favourite style of music. With "Nihilominus" there are no worries, because I do like what Faeces did on this album a lot. 

Brutal death metal, quite technical here and there, with many blasting parts, but properly balanced with slower, more crushing stuff. This is a brief description of "Nihilominus". That style of music isn't maybe much surprising, but the quality is here, I can assure you that. Riffs are great and properly neckbreaking, I like vocals a lot too... And the production is sweet, powerful and punching. What really makes me like "Nihilominus" more than a lot of similar bands is that mentioned diversity and the fact that Faeces easily incorporates some more harmonious parts into that wall of brutal noise. There's groove too! That sounds really refreshing, in my opinion, almost like someone combined Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse with Death, to make a cheesy comparison. Anyway, this album kicks ass. And it is short, so there’s not even a slight chance to get bored. Good stuff. 

Verdict: 77/100

Apostasy - Death Return

APOSTASY - Death Return (FALLEN TEMPLE - CD 2021)

What a great surprise came from Chilean band Apostasy. They just released an album that I can say belongs to the very best thrash metal recordings in many, many years, in my opinion. And there's not even a tiny bit of exaggeration here, believe my words. But they so fiercely crack necks with all these savage riffs, they so wonderfully came up with that very old school 80's style of thrash metal, including a bit of death metal, almost like fuckin Possessed on their debut... You just have to love it. Obviously, it is all updated, for instance the production is top notch, it’s deliciously powerful, yet harsh and aggressive. Just as I like it. 

Honestly, when I listen to "Death Return", I feel young, almost like when as a kid I was thrashing all the best shit from the likes of Slayer, Metallica, Testament, Kreator... Apostasy is not in the same league, of course they are not. And no one ever will be anymore. But for fuck sake, they do have that one thing, which constitutes killer thrash metal, or any metal. actually RIFFS! There are some wonderful guitar parts on "Death Return", which sound classic and insanely memorable, yet savage and vicious. Total headbanger kind of stuff, if you know what I mean. Apostasy came up with great songs, every part of "Death Return" sound awesome, there's not even a second of wimpy or lame shit. Just straight forward, fierce thrash. Most importantly, it is fast, very fast. Not all the time, there are some slower songs, but majority of the album runs fast and mercilessly. And more so, vocal wise this album also sounds sweet. And that is something important for me, because often I like the music, but thrash metal vocals can sound fuckin stupid and shit. In case of Apostasy there is everything as I like and vocals are more like Angelripper’s than Souza's. They're almost black metalish sometimes, which is very cool, reminding me Merciless too. 

Yeah, all in all, "Death Return" is just a great album. I am very excited and surprised, because I cannot say that the previous Apostasy recordings were that special. This album is, definitely. I recommend it strongly then, get it and bang your head!!!!  

Standout tracks: “Jus Primae Noctis”, “Son of Hate” 

Verdict: 85/100