•June 12, 2013 • 7 Comments
We’re fast approaching the apex of summer in the northern hemisphere, and each of the studious worm gear monks are carrying further offerings to the solstice: old-school hymns to the death of spring from Coffins and Beyond, reverent black metal from the altars of Abazagorath and Night of the World, the rustic psychedelia of Ulaan Passerine, and the celestial radiance of Seirom. And there’s more to come… an outpouring of quality music this summer is supplying each of us with more reviews to keep the solstice fires burning.
Marty Rytkonen Playlist
Panopticon – Collapse
Pitch Shifter – Submit
Pitch Shifter – Industrisal
Abazagorath – Abazagorath EP
Portal – Swarth
Coffins – The Fleshland
Pungent Stench – For God your Soul… For Me your Flesh
Disharmonic Orchestra – Not to be Unidimensional Conscious
Forced Entry – Uncertain Future
Ildra – Edelland
My Dying Bride – As The Flower Withers
Midnight Odyssey – Firmament
Incantation – Diabolical Conquest
Ulver – Nattens Madrigal
Imperium Dekadenz – Meadows of Nostalgia
Cryptopsy – None So Vile
Battle Dagorath – Cursed Storm of Ages
Vex – Memorious
Master – Unknown Soldier
Sacriphyx – S/T
Fearthainne – Knowing
Walknut – Graveforests and Their Shadows
Cedar Spirits – Cedar Spirits
Burial Hex – Book of Delusions
Seirom – 1973
Low – Things We Lost in the Fire
The Cloisters – The Cloisters + Little Summer / Little Winter
Echtra – Paragate
Agalloch – The Mantle
Alda – Tahoma
•June 12, 2013 • 1 Comment
I would love to claim superior underground cred and go on about discovering Jersey’s Abazagorath way back in ’96, but the truth is, during that era, I was preoccupied with the sounds arising from Scandinavia and often found the USBM scene to be too stylistically brutal, or crossed with death metal too much to fully achieve that atmosphere that I crave in black metal. I do own “The Spirit of Hate for Mankind” 7” released back in 2002, but I tend to detest the medium of 7”s and the music went in one ear and out the other at the time, never to be played again. Who would ever have guessed the BM scene in Scandinavia and Europe would largely shift to a more aggressive outlet of delivery, kind of where the US guys were at in the 90′s/early 2000′s and now the US scene is tapping into the mystical/forest realm, but it has happened and our corner of the globe has proven itself as a force to be reckoned with when the moon rises and the all the worlds beasties come out to pay their respects.
Without having a lot of knowledge or musical history to compare this EP to in regards to Abazagorath lore, judging the material at hand was made far easier if not enjoyable due to the fact that this is a band that is churning out solid, if not a bit unspectacular, blackness that channels the 90′s European spirit. The 5 songs on this well produced (by Woe’s Chris Grigg) MCD all benefit from expertly constructed songs that embrace both a blasting speed and the good sense not to make such what I consider has become a debilitating genre staple, the main delivery in their music. Mid-paced moments of music, interesting riffs that drop out to allow the bass and drum breaks to create impact, rich harmonies and skilled solo work all reach into the core of this band to show that there is a level of maturity on display here looking to be appreciated. And I do appreciate Abazagorath’s efforts as I’ve spun this EP a fair amount of times since receiving it the other day. The vocalist is solid, if not a bit too traditional/dimensionless, but his higher register of screaming fits in with the blackened fuzz created by this band.
Granted, Abazagorath’s place in this world may not be adorned with praise for originality or legions of fans that clog up the metal message boards praising their BM overlords, but they can write a good song and are worth investigating if mid 90′s black metal is your thing and you’re not bothered by something that you likely have heard before. -Marty
•June 12, 2013 • 4 Comments
With 4 full-length albums to their credit and a swollen mass of split releases reanimating their back catalog, Japan’s Coffins have had 13 lucky years of wallowing in their own juices and reveling in the filth that is sickened death doom. Even though in the grand scheme of things The Fleshland is nothing new, it finds Coffins embracing what they are and further perfecting an already streamlined, though ghastly style.
The Fleshland finds Coffins emerging from their crawling doom affinity when it suits them by incorporating more of a punk flavored speed as witnessed on the filthy “Hellbringer”, “Dishuman” and “No Savior” (was that a blast beat I just heard?!), with even more higher register screams to accompany the abysmally tortured moans of guitarist Uchino. This addition to the bands songwriting formula wasn’t necessary, for their overall delivery has always been a welcomed means of escape to the killing fields for me, but this touch of stylistic expansion really gives Coffins a rekindled sense of conviction for their ungodly craft. Those plodding, triggerless drums and a guitar tone that sounds slightly out of tune and the distorted equivalent of blood crazed earth worms swarming below the surface… when this album ends, it feels like you snap out of the crust directed hypnosis to find blood on you hands and a body in the room. Coffins subtle variances in their song structures achieves a lot of milage out of these detuned and melting riffs. This, along with their overall tone, is their brilliance. The music simply embodies the soul of malevolence and no matter how you package or promote them, the music is worth getting lost in and the sole reason they have been exhuming the same wretched corpses musically for 13 years with little complaints from their growing fanbase.
In a lot of ways when surveying the competition and status of the death doom genre as a whole, The Fleshland arises from the audio serial killers and perverted blood fiends as a hulking audio monolith of disgust. In spite of it’s strict simplicity, this album is a real game changer, if not “game over” for those struggling to recover in Coffins wake. What a great and filthy album. -Marty
•June 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment
While the prolific Maurice de Jong (more commonly known as Mories) is more well known at this point for his putrid slurry of black, doom, and depraved noise under the signs of Gnaw Their Tongues and De Magia Veterum (among others), for myself he is foremost the man behind the blindingly radiant Seirom. Since 2011 Seirom has released a few digital EPs and one double album, incorporating elements of shoegaze, noise, post-industrial electronics, and occasional traces of black metal into the project’s unique, sample dusted wall of ecstatic sound. It’s the type of bright and noisy approach that tends to immediately conjure the term ‘blissful’, and while that is sometimes an appropriate descriptor for what Mories is doing with Seirom, it inadequately represents the feeling that is most present: a cathartic euphoria ascending from a depth of pain and melancholy. There’s an intensity intrinsic to that emotion that carves Seirom into a niche distinct from other blissed out bands.
That being said, compared to 1973 and the digital releases, Sparkle Night sees Mories taking a more restrained approach to Seirom. Although the wall of noise that manages to be both harsh and euphonious is still prominent here, it doesn’t dominate the sound to the same extent that it did previously. The scant vocals and sampled voices of 1973 don’t make an appearance here either, nor do the frantic blast beats or mournful cello. This partially stripped down arrangement allows more subtlety and clarity in the compositions of Sparkle Night, with the layers of sound more independent and clearly defined. The moments of overwhelming, ecstatic melancholy are still there; the title track revels in the huge and gorgeous sound that Sierom is (mostly un)known for, but it’s framed by more discreet, clean picked riffs and tremolo melodies, along with softer, less rapturous key drones and distantly pulsing bass. “Only Miss You When It Snows” opens with a simple piano melody that slowly shifts over to jubilant and pleasing melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on an album by any American post-rock band, while an industrial sounding beat grinds on, oddly cheerfully, behind the waves of distorted beyond recognition guitars and keys. The second half of this final song exemplifies how I feel about this release; the grating beat slowly drifts away as seraphic voices wash over a gently picked riff and the returning piano wanderings. It’s, without exaggerating, absolutely gorgeous and even reverent(a strange thing to say of a Mories release) sounding.
I’m glad to see Mories experimenting with Seirom and expanding it’s sound in this way. I loved the corybantic frenzy of 1973, and while he could have easily repeated it, Mories made the wise choice of expanding and altering Seirom’s core sound with this cassette by softening the edges to allow new textures and moods. It’s a satisfying maturation, marred only by the fact that it’s so short, only just pushing 20 minutes. Regardless, it’s another fine release, and leaves me with a healthy thirst for how Mories will incorporate these adaptations into the band’s (hopeful) next full length. -Jake
•June 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Spacious. If I needed to fasten only a single word to this album, only spacious would be near to satisfactory. Ulaan Passerine is the most recent in a very long line of experimental folk, drone, and psychadelic releases from Steven R. Smith. I’ll leave it to others who are more deeply familiarized with the man’s discography to make direct comparisons between this and his earlier projects, but from what I have heard I think I can safely claim that this latest release is up to the same high standard of compelling and original music as those that came before it. It’s a dreamy and unhurried exploration of gentle drones and deliberate acoustic rambles, eschewing the more lively and noisey nature of the other two Ulaans.
The whole experience breathes a masterful sense of sparse composition as every moment of this roaming album feels in it’s perfect place, with vast reaches of that aforementioned space spreading between them. It easily avoids the trap of much droning music where a slow pace becomes equated with a lack of movement; here I can feel the passing of my body and the shadows of clouds drifting over the steppe like landscape. This psychosonic migration is slow and meditative, and while it does so with a tranquil subtlety, the topography is ever changing. At one moment you may find yourself basking in the sun drenched pickings of acoustic guitar interweaving with the pastoral melodies of the mellotron while subtly treated electronics gurgle like a stream in shallow but quick descent over moss coated rocks, and yet later you will walk on in reflective thoughts as bowed strings play solemn yet tender musings over a quiet and meditative electronic drone. I’m guessing that Ulaan Passerine is around an hour long, so I was curious on my initial listening whether or not it could stay interesting for the duration, but Mr. Smith handles this concern admirably; a thriving variety of instrumentation and mood, as well as the manner in which he manages to connect them together by gradually swelling and emphasizing one element of the sound while diminishing another ensures this tape remains compelling throughout.
The physical presence is, in more than one way, actually a good representation of what Ulaan Passerine is. It’s rather minimalistic , but also striking and original. The photograph of the strange yurt-like structure in the foreground of an expansive land and sky scape is mysterious and inviting, without revealing much. It’s presence on clean white fabric gives it a strange domestic charm, and the lack of song titles gives it that same home-made, though far from amateurish, feeling. Ulaan Passerine walks a fascinating balance where minimal music is crafted into something absolutely vital, reminding us on the journey to stop and take note of those things that are imperceptible to the rushing mind. -Jake