Before true winter besets us and the deep darks of midwinters eve are upon us, in early December I visited a darkness even stranger and deeper than the longest night of the year. In Rotterdam, there was a delectable lineup, granted us mostly by the formidable Season of Mist. So of to the cold harbor, I went to see the dark strangeness that this eve on black metals fringes had to offer. Continue reading
Pause for a moment, dearly beloved, and check out THAT COVER. See it, feel it, breathe it in. It is Ian Miller at his gothic grotesque best like someone crossed a lurid creepy crawly with a bad trip in a fin de siècle opium den. It’s got one of Lovecraft’s Elder Thing exploding with mouths, beaks, eyes and profane wind instruments, striding through a cancerous landscape full of writhing horror and grandeur. It is also my laptop’s Christmas wallpaper. Continue reading
It may have taken thirteen years to follow-up their sole release, but with a cast that includes Misery Index, Cattle Decapitation and Scour alumni, the trials of time can be forgiven with Cast The Stone, and new EP release Empyrean Atrophy (Agonia) shows that this band has a lot more worth than simply being a side dabbling for them. Continue reading
As we previously reported, death metal wizards Revocation are dropping their new album The Outer Ones, next month on September 28 via Metal Blade Records. We got to hear the new album recently at the bands’ listening party at Saint Vitus Bar in New York, and it is absolutely brutal. Jam the title track right now! Continue reading
Portal are one of the most important Death Metal bands in the world.
In a genre as conservative as Heavy Metal it is no surprise that lists of influential bands generally don’t go beyond a pre-approved set of “classics”, but Portal have earned their place among the Deaths and Morbid Angels. Over four albums and nearly fifteen years, they took Death Metal apart and reassembled the pieces into nightmarish, abstract shapes that for the first time managed to sound how the artwork looked. Like most innovators, it took time for their impact to sink in, but over the last few years they have – quite against their will, it seems – triggered a mini-trend of impersonators and left Death Metal in quite a different place than it was in 2013 when Vexovoid (Profound Lore), was released. Continue reading
Very few pairings can channel and embrace the art of compelling and near inaudible noise as an art form as Stephen O’Malley and Atilla Csihar of SunnO))) (and Mayhem in the latter’s case). A partnership formed with SunnO))), they have proven to be champions of incredibly dissident and daunting soundscapes within Drone and experimental Ambient musci, in as close to pigeonholing as is possible. Following on from 2007’s debut of alternative project Gravetemple, Impassable Fear (Svart Records) offers yet another snapshot into their striking vision. Continue reading
It’s a bit hard to fathom that Nile guitarist and mastermind Karl Sanders is still creating some of the unholy sounds in extreme metal at the age of 52. Other musicians at that age are releasing Lou Reed collaborations that only serve to undermine their legacies. Not Nile.
The Nile modus operandi on eighth studio album What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast) remains the same. Healthy doses of Egyptian mysticism and history (sample: “We must cut off the head of the Spinx. Timeless guardian of the ancient pharaohs”) with the occasional dash of Lovecraftian imagery set to the kind of searing death metal that recalls prime Morbid Angel. Maybe that’s why I have such an affinity for Sanders and his art, he was there to pick up the pieces when Morbid Angel was losing creative steam being dogged down by unsuccessful experimentation.
Experimentation is kept a very base minimum here as the album opens to aural punishment that is ‘Call to Destruction.’ We are then hit with the swift hyperblast one-two of ‘Negating the Abominable Coils of Apep’ and ‘Liber Stellae – Rubaeae.’ This is the kind of fiery death metal that hurts so good like Dying Fetus or early Gorguts. Also for the real tech heavy crowd check the finger cramping opening riff in ‘Evil To Cast Out Evil.’
But it’s not all fire and brimstone as death jams like ‘In the Name of Amun’ and ‘Age of Famine’ give way to breadth and dizzying tempo changes. Title track ‘What Should Not Be Unearthed’ also follows this pattern and allows for a real nice low and slow breakdown. And even when operating at a more gradual cadence, human drum machine George Kolias makes sure to load up the double-bass pummel.
In a genre where many of their peers are still spewing out murder fantasies and are fascinated with the undead, Nile stands out with a mix of intellectual lyrics and musical proficiency. If the prog fans and metal elitists can get past the death grunts and learn to love the blast beat they may just find a band fawn over other than Dream Theater.
There are few things we love more at Ghost Cult than some great drone and doom music. Add to that and entire convention celebrating HP Lovecraft’s 125th birthday, well you know we’re gonna be in full-bliss freak out mode. All these things came together at the NecronomiCon in Providence, RI. The Lovecraft convention also coincided with the launch of Earth’s latest headline tour, so what a treat for folks in the northeastern US to see them on our coast. Led by Dylan Carlson, Earth’s dizzying blend of drone, doom, folk rock and other weirdness is just immaculate in a live setting. The band continues to tour behind their acclaimed 2014 release Primitive and Deadly (Southern Lord). Joining them are local doom masters Elder, who recently released Lore (Stickman Records), possibly their best album yet. Elder is really just too good to be a mere cult favorite and really deserves wider renown then they have earned. Both venerable bands were joined by The Assembly of Light Choir and Owlfood to round out this all around great evening of music and mysticism. Thanks to Hillarie Jason for these great photos of the proceedings.
Not long ago, I once had nothing positive to say of Colombia’s Inquisition, who are now based in sleepless Seattle. Upon first hearing ‘Those of the Night’, I was admittedly turned off by the aesthetic of it all; croaking that reminded me of Popeye with throat cancer, the overly fuzzy and plodding guitars, and drumming I can barely remember, it must have been so unremarkable. They got better. Hop on over to the next paragraph and maybe you’ll find an explanation as to why Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist) hasn’t ended up in the archive hell of the Department of Redundancy Department.
This outfit has predictably got limitations to overcome musically when tasked with writing inspired black metal that is listenable, unique, and not far too clean, being a two-man band in a modern land of imitation. The trick here is not Satan, but rather inventiveness. While they’re in a similar place musically to (insert album with blue cover), this is by no means something to hold against it. Front man Dagon’s vocals are still that eldritch semi-amphibious rasp with some cavernous bellows sprinkled throughout, though with reverb to give the atmosphere of colloquy with Azathoth himself, it sounds palatable to the ear rather than chisels at your patience. Guitar lines: slowly unfolding, melodic fractal riffs not unlike specimens of modern black metal, but may, when needed, join with cannonading drums to besiege fabulous hyaline castles in the cosmos of fabled multiverse. Inquisition make no pretense of being avant-garde wizards; they find a good sound and go with it. End of story. Or album?
The sound in this case is best exemplified by the intense yet subtle balance of melody and bestiality, but not in the shagging sheep way. The opening minute of ‘Joined By Dark Matter Repelled By Dark Energy’, for instance: starting as a gently rushing river of galloping drums accompanied by guitar waxing poetically sensible before the swirling waterfall of blastbeats kick in and reminds you that this isn’t your dad’s normal ear-pleasing rock’n’roll, though he could appreciate some of the harmonies. The only true downside I can find is that the tracks do follow a (well-written) formula, with ‘When Darkness Is Lord And Death’ sounding scarily like the track I just yammered about. The fact that “dark” or some variant of it is in three different songs should tell you all you need to know. Don’t get me started on this piece’s title itself, eh?
In closing, I liked this album, and you might too. For every three oddly cheery sounding bands under the tag “melodic black metal”, there’s a group like Vinterland, Sacramentum, or Inquisition that doesn’t like sunshine. Good night.
One of the more remarkable black metal releases of late is Ritu by Belgian symphonic black metal outift Saille. Dewie caught up with guitarist Reinier Schenk and asked him all about the band’s latest album, playing with Melechesh, the Belgian metal scene and Reinier’s personal musical taste. Continue reading