(In this post our guest Kunal Choksi (Transcending Obscurity) puts the spotlight on three up-and-coming death metal bands from Russia.)
Without delving into the purely “brutal” aspect of things, let’s throw some light on the Death Metal scene in Russia. Sure there have been bands in the past, some good ones too, like Merlin and Barbarity as well as the middling ones, but the newer ones are game-changers. No longer do you have to contend with giving Russian Death Metal bands “old school” credit, some nostalgic or primitive value. Admittedly, that forms a part of the scene’s sound and that’s fine, as long as it’s not remaining primitive in terms of quality. Three Russian bands lead the scene in my humble opinion and all of them have achieved reasonable success with at least one release under their belts.
ODEM (Daemon Worship Productions)
Odem leads the pack with its unique blackened influences and a blend of aggressive and semi-technical Death Metal, with elements of modern brutality as well. Their sound is innovative in ways that American bands are often loath to do.
Sometimes my listening decisions are completely ruled by impulse. I have carefully conceived plans in mind, and then they vanish in an instant, for reasons I can only dimly fathom after the fact. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I finally had a short break from my paying job. I had many forthcoming albums I could have dived into, but instead I listened to something that came out in October 2013. I later decided that at a subconscious level I must have felt a yearning to be pounded flat.
I had heard about this debut EP by Liverpool’s Crypt Lurker from many respected sources, including our curmudgeonly contributor SurgicalBrute, who put it on his Best of 2013 list. He characterized it as “a rolling monolith of raw blackened doom”, and so it is.
The music is simple in its construction, yet it’s ingeniously effective and tremendously compelling. The tools of Crypt Lurker’s trade are mammoth, vibrating riffs, methodical hammering drums, and scalding shrieked vocals that radiate malevolent intent. The band concoct grim, morbid melodies and then wield those implements to beat them relentlessly into your memory.
I’m still away from home doing job-related stuff that has left almost no time for searching out new metal, listening to music, or blogging. I will be going home tomorrow, with hopes that NCS life will return to normal after that. I’m about to dive back into another day-long bout of job-related stuff, but before doing that I thought I’d throw a few things your way.
CVLT NATION FREEBIES
CVLT Nation has recently unveiled a series of free compilations that are well worth exploring. The first, which was released two days ago, is a compilation of Black Sabbath covers: Seven different bands perform the eight songs on Sabbath’s 1971 classic, Master of Reality. The bands are:
Cult of Occult
Graves At Sea
Among the names on my mental list of highly anticipated 2014 releases, Falls of Rauros and Panopticon were in the upper reaches. This spring, Bindrune Recordings will be releasing a 12″ split by the two bands. Falls of Rauros contributed two songs — “Unavailing” (at nearly 12 minutes in length) and “The Purity of Isolation” (nearly 7 minutes). Panopticon contributed four songs, totaling nearly 25 minutes. Having heard the split, I can say that it has more than met my very high expectations.
I had hoped to scribble a review by now, even recognizing that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. But alas, I’m way behind. What I do have, with thanks to DECIBEL magazine, are two of the songs from the split, one from each band. Since I still harbor a feeble hope of writing my own thoughts about the music later, I’ll not say more about the songs now — but simply provide the streams for your listening pleasure.
Our fellow blogger Full Metal Attorney published a new post on his site today entitled, in intentional Buzzfeed-speak, “7 Metal Bands That Will Blow Your Mind”. He began it this way:
I’ve been reading about Babymetal since No Clean Singing first covered them two years ago. Now I’m starting to read about them everywhere, and it’s blowing the minds of regular people. Even my six-year-old son–who has grown up completely immersed in pop music and extreme metal–had a “WTF?” look on his face: “Why are those girls there?” You’re right, son, it doesn’t make any sense.
It hadn’t occurred to me that Babymetal would be so interesting to non-metalheads (outside of J-pop fans, anyway). So I started thinking: What else might blow the mind of a normal person? Metalheads, this list isn’t really for you: Share it with your friends.
And he then proceeded to provide a list — a list of bands who in very different ways have combined musical elements with “mainstream appeal” (my words) and elements more familiar to metalheads. The idea struck me as one that might generate some discussion here at NCS.
So, no, this isn’t yet another NCS post about Babymetal (because they’re even getting coverage from the likes of USA Today as well as currently holding down a spot on iTunes Top 10 Rock Albums chart in 7 countries — the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan and Sweden). Those of you who think Babymetal are the greatest threat to our way of life since the fluoridation of water can relax.
I intended to get this roundup posted yesterday, but obviously my word is no good. So it comes today
The artwork at the top of this post grabbed my attention. It was created by Aaron Turner (of Isis fame, and a prolific graphic artist) for a 12″ release coming on Record Store Day from A389 Recordings. The title is Bloodlet – Live on WFMU-FM (03.23.95), and as the title suggests it’s a previously unreleased live recording from about 20 years ago that was recently mastered for this release.
Bloodlet is a name I’ve heard before, though I can’t remember if I ever heard their music. They made a name for themselves in the 90s as a metallic hardcore band (long before the “metalcore” label came into currency). They’ve been on hiatus since 2003, but reunited to play the A389 Records X Anniversary Bash in Baltimore on January 18, 2014.
(In this post Andy Synn reviews the special EP recorded by Blut Aus Nord to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Debemur Morti label.)
At least in the majority of the metal media, Black Metal rarely gets its due in terms of its progressive side and forward-thinking ambition. Whereas “Progressive Death Metal” comes in multiple forms and guises, and the term “Progressive Metal” has been bastardised to seemingly refer solely to bands who deal in basic polyrhythms and melodramatic caterwauling, the term “Progressive Black Metal” still doesn’t seem to carry the same weight or cultural currency.
Some of that is due to the perception of the genre – by many, but nowhere near by all – as being firmly rooted in its own past and firmly captivated by its own legend. There’s some truth to that, as there are (and always will be) bands still carrying the ebon flame of those early years and keeping the original spirit of the genre alive. Yet although they have their place (something I’m not denying), to judge the entire genre by those standards would be a major mistake.
Because, to my mind at least, few sub-genres of metal can claim the scope of style and sound that Black Metal does these days. Elements of its influence have infiltrated numerous sub-genres, in often surprising ways, while, at the same time, its most artistic adherents have mixed and melded influences from outside its strict confines into their own strange, alchemical works, forging new and unusual weapons of war with the black flame of their own darkest emotions.
And chief amongst these are Blut Aus Nord.
As previously advised, I’m on the road again in the grasp of my fucking day job, but I did carve out some time to make the rounds in search of new things and, as usual, found quite a lot to like. Because time is short, I’ll divide what I found into two posts, this being the first.
HOUR OF PENANCE
Almost exactly two years have passed since Italy’s Hour of Penance delivered their last album, Sedition, which was excellent. Today the band announced details about the release of their next album: The name is Regicide, and it will be coming our way via the Prosthetic label on May 13 in North America (May 12 in the UK and EU, May 16 in Germany).
From a previous Facebook post by the band, I know that the album art was created by the same Gyula Havancsák (Hjules Illustration and Design), whose work for Arkona’s new album we featured here recently. He also created the covers for HoP’s Sedition and Paradogma.
Grey Skies Fallen are a New York band who trace their roots back to 1996. Since then they’ve released three full-length albums and two EPs, all of which are available for free download at the band’s web site (here). Along the way, they’ve made changes in their sound, as well as changes in the line-up, and they’re now set to release a new album entitled The Many Sides of Truth. Today we’re giving you a glimpse into the new work through our premiere of “Ritual of the Exiter”.
When I first heard this long song, I was left bedazzled, and grasping at straws in thinking about how to describe it. Just when I thought I understood what the band were up to, they crossed me up. As the title suggests, there is indeed a ritualistic quality to its progression, with the parts of the rite segmented by unexpected guitar interludes that break the building tension before the intensity begins to build again.
The song is anchored by a really good rhythm section, with both the bass and the drums getting their hooks into you. But the bleak melodic motifs in the music are the key to its success, along with the vocals, which are both clean and agonizing. Genre boundaries are ignored, with elements of doom, prog, black metal, and melodic death metal in the mix.
I’m headed for the airport again this morning, and then winging my way back to sunny Southern California for my day job, returning to sodden Seattle on Sunday. This will again restrict my blog time. Before leaving, I wanted to share a few recent discoveries.
This Toronto band, whose three members prefer to remain anonymous, released a self-titled EP in 2011, and now they have a debut full-length on the way. Entitled Sacred White Noise, it’s coming out on April 15th via Dark Descent. Not long ago the band premiered an advance track named “The Bright White Nothing At the End of the Tunnel”. I’ve been meaning to check it out, and finally did so last night — and I’m in love.
There’s a writhing, dissonant guitar lead that begins almost immediately and then intermittently continues to whip and squirm its way throughout the rest of the song, and once heard it’s hard to forget. But that’s only part of the music’s attraction. The song also includes hammering percussion, scalding riffs, bestial black metal vocals, and a load of other strange but magnetic repeating motifs.