(Our Norwegian comrade Gorger continues his distinctive series recommending albums that have somehow eluded our attention. To find more of his discoveries, visit Gorger’s Metal.)
Running a one-man site (old-school style, edited via usb-typewriter and quill on touch surface) takes its toll when attempting to cover as much as possible.
Hence, I’ve been too busy to leand a hand to Islander lately. To make up for it, and to rid myself of my March writings, I’m tossing in six albums this time. I hope you’re hungry.
NECRONOMICON – ADVENT OF THE HUMAN GOD
I’m guessing most of you know Necronomicon already. The Canadians hail from the French region, but don’t have that typical Québécois sound.
Advent of the Human God has much of the same majestic characteristics as its predecessor, while I feel that the Canadians have shifted focus a bit from a Behemoth vein to a more Dimmu-flavored style. The title song could have slipped straight into one of the four last Dimmu albums.
A small part of me points out, or rather claims, that the market is starting to become overexposed to this specific recipe of symphonic black/death, but I’m not willing to listen to such nonsense. We are drowning in lots of things these days, but qualitative orchestral extreme metal ain’t one of them.
The material on Advent of the Human God is just as majestically pompous, well-composed, and grandiose as fans of the genre probably want it. Necronomicon write good songs that weave an epic and proud metallic bombardment seamlessly with sacral choir, doomsday trumpets, and vengeful violins, to a towering diabolical expression that proudly rises as Lucifer from the abyss on the day of redemption, retribution, revenge, and retaliation.
Euphonious, satanic, symphonic, and exalted again from experienced Canadians. Let the mighty tones resound while the fallen leading star rises and takes his rightful place as liberal guidance for the wolf in man. Meanwhile, Yahweh’s bastard son is nailed firmly in place to be tormented to death as the charlatan he undoubtedly was for the very last time, before he is devoured by oblivion (and legions of demons). Ave Satanas!
If nothing else, at least these carefully chosen words are symptomatic of the moods I fall into when Necronomicon brings stand-tall antagonistic atmosphere and attitude.
Advent of the Human God was released by Season of Mist on March 18th.
Enjoy the video for “Crown Of Thorns”, and a full stream below. There was also a video for the song Rise of the Elder Ones (nsfw) of their previous album.
ECTOVOID – DARK ABSTRACTION
Three of four members from Alabama, USA thrash band Condukator, and the entire inventory of the abandoned death-thrash squadron Bloated Carcass, started a new and by all appearances darker chapter in their metallic career five years ago.
Ectovoid was covered here when they launched a split called 4 Doors to Death with a few other bands.
This is the sophomore album, following Fractured in the Timeless Abyss form 2012. Dark Abstraction was released on CD back in July by Hellthrasher Productions, but is now made awailable on vinyl by Blood Harvest.
The band’s death metal is dirty, thunderous, and eerie in an evocative way. As a raven-black tank without registration marks, decorated with occult symbols, the beast comes rolling out of a nearby grove while trees creak and yield. With roaring engine it barges forwards in an unstoppable manner. Does it break new ground? No, it certainly isn’t planning to start off any construction project. This tank only breaks as in destroy.
In other words, it is well-known terrain that shall be laid in ruins once again. Fortunately, the trio bear enough ammunition, in all compatible calibres, to get away with it.
The vocals rumble in delightfully occult ways while guitar and bass dance like macabre shadows cast by torches in the woods. Or should I say by the tank’s flickering headlights? Along with an unyielding man behind the battery, a thundering and roaring inferno is formed. Stun grenades and a barrage of gunfire scare all living things away before all their earthly sanctuary is laid violently in ruins.
Ectovoid admittedly hasn’t got enough ammo up their sleeves to lay all earth to waste, but they’re certainly packing enough hefty brutality to cause great harm.
Dark Abstraction is a tough album that in a sense has got that little extra, but still lacks some of the necessary individuality. If you give it a chance, it is quite possible it will shoot its way into your heart, although it does not exactly consist of unimpeachably classic material.
DARVULIA – MYSTICISME MACABRE (RE-RELEASE)
At first brief listen, French Darvulia can seem like a very dissonant and atonal orchestra. They are. Thus they radiate a rather repugnant expression that could easily scare away quite a few. Good riddance. Way to rid us of outsiders in a flash.
Specialists in French disgust will quickly point out that I’m six years late on this one. Mysticisme Macabre was originally released on CD by Battlesk’rs Productions in 2010, but is now being relaunched on vinyl in collaboration with Nuclear War Now! Productions.
The name Darvulia is probably derived from the mysterious woman Anna Darvulia, of whom little is known, but who apparently was in cahoots with Elizabeth Báthory, and is even referred to as a witch. This infamous woman allegedly influenced Elizabeth’s bestial acts to expand in scope.
A good name in this respect for a band who take the most bizarre and grotesque French delirium in a further perverted and obscure direction. Dissonant melodies and a primitive raw sound create unpleasant claustrophobic moods. The music’s partly repetitive mark creates a dystopian landscape where gnawing anxiety constantly threatens to remove the last straw of grip on reality.
Kobal, who handles everything except the drums, has a voice that already seems to have given up hope of any spiritual connection to the material world. The whole world has collapsed like a corrupted, undermined house of cards, and the sharp and frantic vocals testify to a stale mind ravaged by decay and disgust.
The sound is mercilessly unvarnished, sharp, and primitive. As made for their ghastly sonic expression.
If this sounds appealing in some macabre way, it probably is. If not, stay away!
PHAZM – SCORNFUL OF ICONS
French Phazm was created in 2003 with the goal of designing black/death with a rock’n’roll feeling.
This is my second meeting with the band, and the first since the debut. They have released two albums in the meantime.
The debut, Hate at First Seed (2004), did consist of some obvious inspirations from blues-based rock, which gave a certain uniqueness, but those ingredients seem to have been silenced over the years. A blood-soaked (and not entirely safe for work) video was made for the song Loneliness from the debut, but that one didn’t testify to said roots. Although the band have evolved a lot since its inception, they still have a quaint feel we don’t find too often these days.
The music Phazm offer today floats and drifts as an unmoored Viking ship between melodic mid-tempo black and death, a bit like Bloodthorn’s penultimate album, with assorted suitable detours as potent spices, including hints of Ásatrú as well as a (far too) short passage with nyckelharpa and an entry of female vocals in “Scornful of Icons”. The music has an airy feel with room for clear melodies, while preserving brutality and punch.
The opener “Ginnungagap” is somewhat reminiscent of Vikings such as Fortíð, Ereb Altor, and Moonsorrow, while thrust and force make Amon Amarth a more apposite comparison. The vocals that conclude the song consist of two layers; the deepest is so low in the frequency spectrum that it almost gets a touch of throat singing. The remaining material continues along the same deadly path, where the harsh smell of gigantic trolls, drunk on high-octane, dominate, whilst Viking moods give way for other concoctions.
The band doesn’t just have good variation within each song, they also alternate so much on riffs, rhythms, vocal style, melodies, speed, and techniques that the album feels very diverse. Over a steadfast foundation of solid concrete, all the details in the various cracks, pattern, colour shades, and pores creates clear musical structures with depth.
The songs are, as mentioned, often placed in the medium- to upper mid-tempo register, with a nice balance between pace and heaviness, and they generally have good dynamic structure with room for variation and solos. With angry vocals, heavy-handed drumming, and fierce guitars with rowdy distortion, the Frenchmen reel off eight songs with satanic temper. Not eerie, but with a diabolical grin.
Even the sound is in tune with the musical fists and playful touches on “Scornful of Icons”. The production is spacious and clear, with attention to detail, whilst simultaneously favouring a juicy, vibrant, manly, and warlike character. It sounds great, and the dynamics of DR8 make it more pleasing to enjoy the album.
Finally, let me mention that this is an album with many subtle refinements and nuanced details that not only requires a little time, but that gives something back by growing into a very strong album. The only thing that annoys me a bit is the otherwise superb cover art, where the child’s hands ought to have the thumbs facing outwards when the palms are facing up. And you know it has to be good when that’s my only complaint.
Scornful of Icons was released by Osmose Productions on March 25th.
DEPICTING ABYSM – PASSAGE
In the metaliverse, fairly small nuances may separate wheat from chaff and distinguish between gold and coal. Minor changes may be all it takes to make a big difference.
Immersion, a debut released at the very end of 2013, was not bad, but still somewhat more mediocre. It also had a relatively protracted and uneventful form that left me quite restless. At the time, I rated albums by only two categorizations: Approved and Not Approved. Hence, the Russians’ debut, marked by maritime themes, ended in the last section.
The grief-stricken duo play atmospheric and doomy depressive black metal with touches of funeral. The compositions, this time five in number, are located mostly around ten minutes, give or take a few.
On this sophomore album, the band have left the sea and ventured into more urban areas. They have retained their grieving moods, and this time expose their tearful wretchedness with slightly stronger melodies and more varied progression in the songs, something that creates a better drive. That’s something I really missed last time. Also the sound has undergone favourable changes. It sounds clearer and more professional in this production, and the dynamic range has increased from DR7 to DR8. The band have also retained the clear bass, whilst also making it sound rounder and more comfortable.
You don’t need any background info to hear that this is a Russian band. The vocals are relatively clear, and in my ears the Slavic languages suits a mourning expression very well. The wailing vocals can admittedly be a bit excessively hoarse-howling, although as I wrote in my early 2014 review of said Immersion, it does provide a flattering “French touch of hopelessness”. When the vocals are sung in clean forms, they convey unconcealed distress and despair superbly.
The album also features touches of programmed orchestral sequences and segments with wind noise, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Something that helps reinforce the album’s gloomy aspect and adds depth. Hear for instance the passages from eight minutes in the songs “Shelter” and “Gathering”.
With Passage, Depicting Abysm grow from a rather middling debutant into a solid act within the slow and woeful musical interpretation of suffering. A very pleasing 48-minute surprise from St. Petersburg, which is available for an optional payment on Bandcamp.
Passage was released by Naturmacht Productions on April 2nd.
ASSAILANT / UBIQUITOUS REALITIES – BRINGERS OF DELUSION (SPLIT)
Costa Rica in Central America is not exactly well-known for its vibrant metal scene. This split between two of the country’s approximately 135 known active bands is thus appreciated. Especially since the quality is so damned good, which surprises me slightly considering Bringers Of Delusion is the first release by both bands. Assailant admittedly have one demo behind them.
Both bands offer metal with technical whims. The biggest similarities stop there, though. Bringers… is a bit over half-an-hour-long document where both bands present themselves via four tracks.
Assailant make me wonder if time has stood still in Costa Rica. The band play thrash of the technical/progressive kind, somewhat in the style of Atheist. Their retro approach sounds so authentically late-eighties that it puts contemporary retro-thrash to shame.
The quartet offer four good songs with abstract sci-fi moods in the riffs and a proper amount of changes in pace and style, albeit not too far out. Here we find organic-sounding bass-picking and vigorous guitars, with touches of melodic sequences. The vocals are half-pitched, with a becoming rabid touch that complements the genre. This hungry ensemble smells of enthusiasm.
To highlight only one favourite among these vital songs ain’t entirely easy, given that all offer lovely instrumentation. I nevertheless give my vote to “Suspension of Disbelief”, as the last half consists of orgasmic guitars!
Ubiquitous Realities make me realize that time has moved forward even in Costa Rica. Not that we are exposed to “modern metal”, thank goodness. After a funny sample with tough scolding from Tropic Thunder, hell breaks loose via energetic, raw, and pulverizing technical death metal with frantic growls bordering on faecal sludge sewer sucker. There’s only one solo admittedly, but it is indeed wonderfully morbid.
Unlike some technical bands, this trio prioritize coherent tunes with lots of atmosphere. Here we find small links to both Autopsy and Obliteration, as well as tiny hints of Alkaloid, but Ubiquitous Realities are probably a bit between these and “normal” death metal, with bands like Morbid Angel as a reference point. The Ticos are admittedly not on par with the aforementioned bands, but hell do they deliver the goods anyway.
It sounds unearthly and eclectic, and the mood reflects the feeling of being in a limbo between the cosmos and portals conjured by that dreaded book the Necronomicon. The guys’ brutality is hefty, but not excessive, and they deliver juicy explosives with a hypnotic effect. Especially the last song, “Alterated Perception II”, offers beautiful moods and fiery guitar works.
With an average length of 4.5 minutes, Assailant steal the bulk of the playing time, while Ubiquitous Realities are satisfied with songs of about 3.5 on average. Both bands have been awarded a good production on their material. Assailant may come across as somewhat thin in the sound, but as I’ve mentioned, it provides a trustworthy flair of the ’80s, helping to create a cool cult-touch. I really have a liking for both bands.
If any of this sounds alluring to you, I think you should go ahead and just purchase it. Simple as that.
The physical version is released on 500 CDs in cooperation with Cavan Records.
Bringers Of Delusion was released by Symbol Of Domination on February 2nd.