(In this post Austin Weber reviews the new release by Finland’s Devouring Star, which is available now from Daemon Worship.)
When I first wrote about Devouring Star here at NCS last year, they were a newly formed act who drew my attention with a incredibly dense and chilling demo of unnerving and chaotic black metal. After my first post about them, they hooked up with Daemon Worship Productions for the release of a new album entitled Through Lung And Heart. and we were fortunate to premiere the track “Decayed Son Of Earth” last November (here). Coincidentally, NCS writer Badwolf likewise premiered another track off it, “To Traverse The Black Flame”, over at Invisible Oranges where he is currently that site’s editor.
For those still unfamiliar with Devouring Star, they are a Finnish act that draw a sizable influence from the stylings and form of black metal that Deathspell Omega founded. However, I would venture to say the inspiration has more to do with informing the sonic ingredients that Devouring Star use in their compositions than sounding like a copycat act or watered-down hero worship.
(I think DGR has reviewed every release by Chicago’s Mechina. They released a new album this month, and like the sun rising in the East and setting in the West, DGR now reviews it.)
Mechina are a band whose growth has been one of the most interesting to watch over the past few years. Few bands have been quite as ambitious as they have been with their music. Few have completely ignored whether or not they were going to be successful, and just went big anyway, but that is exactly what Mechina have done during their time as artists.
Starting out as a full band before eventually becoming the studio project of a couple of producers in the Chicago area, Mechina have already banged out a whole arc of albums — a conceptual trilogy told over three full discs and a smattering of singles — that have archived a whole universe constantly at war, ending with planets left barren and whole populations destroyed, played out over the soundtrack of an industrial/symphonic death band with a taste for eight-and-up-string poly-rhythmic guitar playing.
Over time, the band’s production has grown leaps and bounds, and as they’ve adopted characters into their story and adapted a new vocalist into the fold, they’ve created enough lore in their universe that someone actually took the time out of their day to try and establish a wiki site to keep track of all of it, one that I’ve already used liberally. While we haven’t quite hit Bal-Sagoth levels of craziness, I imagine Mechina could be reaching that point soon enough with their sci-fi, planet-destroying antics.
This is the third of three EP reviews I’m posting today. The first band was Australia’s Ur Draugr, the second was New Zealand’s The Skull, and now we leap across seas and continents to visit a band from Italy named…
MINDFUL OF PRIPYAT
Mindful of Pripyat are a new death/grind collective from Milan who released their debut assault — …And Deeper, I Drown In Doom — via Bandcamp last week. I was drawn to explore the music because the band includes Giulia (aka Doomed Warrior) from the fantastic Into Darkness on guitars, bass, and vox. Her bandmates are Tya (lead vocals and noise) and Gio (drums and vocals) — and yes, all three members vocalize.
Taking their inspiration from old-school grindcore in the vein of Napalm Death, Terrorizer, and Dead Infection and with a conceptual focus on dystopian futures and post-apocalyptic scenarios, Mindful of Pripyat have delivered 16 tracks in less than 20 minutes. They make very good use of the time.
This is the second of three EP reviews I’m posting today. I began the day (here) with Ur Daugr from Australia, and now I’m jumping across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand and a band named…
The Skull includes ex-members of Demoniac, as well as current members of Bulletbelt, Dying Of The Light, and DBC (Dead Brain Cells). Their debut demo, which surfaced last November, is named Nuclear War. It seems to have been in the works for quite a while; it appears from their Facebook page that recording took place back in March 2013. But hey, having heard the demo, I’ll happily say, “Better late than never!”
Listening to the five songs on Nuclear War — which will race through your earholes in a tight 10-minute blitzkrieg — is to be victimized by auditory slaughter, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s a one-two punch of old school speed metal and venomous death/thrash that will lay you out.
This is the first of three EP reviews that I plan to post today. The EPs are all very different from each other, but they’re all very good.
I have a feeling that metal fans have lost a real gem, but the significant fragment that remains still gleams brightly.
Ur Draugr are from Perth in Western Australia and the band’s ranks include past or present members of Impiety, Wardaemonic, DeathFuckingCunt, and Morphica. When I first wrote about the band last November (here), it was in connection with their release of an impressive new song named “Unseen Golgotha”.
(DGR has found an EP released in December by a resurgent German band that he really seems to be enjoying, as he explains in this typically extended and typically entertaining review.)
Death metal groups reanimating from the dead after a decade-plus-long hiatus seems to be happening more in the underground scene these days. Given that some of these groups never had a huge reach to begin with, it seems slightly easier today for them to appear at different points in time after years of silence, but I also think that the internet has started to have a much bigger effect on the decision of groups to come back.
The net has become something of a great equalizer, where at least on the right sites, small bands with a handful of fans can appear on the same front page as a group in a bigger spotlight. This phenomenon has helped make it possible for people to re-discover bands who have been dormant for years, bands who may have struck out PR-wise or just never been lucky in breaking out of their region, and groups who were clearly onto something and the stars just didn’t align for them at the time.
Now, people have platforms upon which to preach about such groups, converting fans and at times encouraging people to reunite. Added to this is also the relative ease with which bands can reappear now, with sites like Bandcamp making it a breeze to set up shop and get themselves out there, so long as their recordings aren’t hot garbage.
(Andy Synn wrote this review of the new album by the almighty Marduk.)
I think few people would argue that Marduk have long since established themselves as Black Metal legends. With a career lasting 25 years (and counting) and incorporating thirteen full-length studio albums as well as numerous EPs, live albums, and compilations, the Swedish war-dogs have proven themselves time and time again as a force to be reckoned with.
Moreover, there’s a good argument to be made that albums like Opus Nocturne, Heaven Shall Burn…, and Nightwing (and, I would argue, Rom 5:12) are – like them or not — practically legendary themselves, and often cited as key influences and cornerstones of the genre by both bands and fans alike.
So, with such a grand, macabre discography under their collective (bullet) belt, you might wonder where exactly does a new record fit, in the grand scheme of things?
(We bring you the premiere of a full-album stream of the new work by the primordial Finnish horde Archgoat, preceded by Will Cifer’s introductory review.)
This album is another argument in favor of the dominance of European black metal. This Finnish band have been spreading the unholy word since the church-burning second wave of black metal in the early nineties. They have left a trail of splits and EPs in their wake, but this is only the band’s third full-length… so it’s kind of a big deal.
Archgoat combine the more classic metal sounds of early black metal with elements of a more grime-coated flavor of death metal than an entity like Mortuary Drape does, even though the two bands circle a similar sonic landscape. Archgoat’s strength is in mid-paced and even crawling tempos, and the mood of the music is often shrouded in a heavy cloak of doom.
(DGR gets Raunchy… and he wrote this review. Your humble editor made a few intrusions in italics.)
It’s time to get a little silly don’t you think? We’ve covered a whole lot of really heavy shit over the past few weeks. It feels like we’ve covered a billion death metal bands and ground a million lists to dust. We’ve been in the murk-covered swamps of gore that metal comes from for far too long, and it’s time to lighten shit up around here. And personally, I feel like I’ve done enough with my year-end list, helping out with infectious song nominations, and sharing groups like Unbeheld out there that it’s time to swing the pendulum back in the other direction. This site needs equilibrium — we can’t let people actually think we’re going to take our own name seriously, now can we?
Now, we could go in depth with what the fuck Myke Terry’s been up to lately – given that the man is partially responsible for the name of this site — but that feels a little uncouth. Instead, I propose we check back in with the guys in Raunchy.
More than a year ago I started my only real contribution to a series for the site, a “higher criticism” feature that began as a sort of joking half-take on a whole bunch of Raunchy albums [the last installment of which is here]. It was a feature partially proposed to me on a dare by other NCS staff, because over the years the band’s name has made them the unfortunate butt of a few jokes and their sound, which combines a hefty dose of pop music with the more modern metal scene, has been one that could turn off people in our usual audience. This is how you wind up with a bunch of people sitting around a table going, “Let’s make the new guy do a Raunchy discog run.”
(Andy Synn reviews the forthcoming eighth studio album by Sweden’s The Crown.)
Don’t call it a comeback! Call it… actually, I don’t know quite what to call it. After all, it’s been quite a while (over four years, in fact) since The Crown released their original “comeback” album, Doomsday King, with new vocalist Jonas Stålhammar at the helm, and now they’re back again, with a new album and yet another shift in the line-up, as original guitarist Marcus Sunesson and original drummer Janne Saarenpää both departed the band before the new album was recorded.
Not only that, but Death Is Not Dead sees original vocalist Johann Lindstrand returning to the fold for the second time… replacing Stålhammar, who replaced him, after he replaced Lindberg, who replaced him originally… (confused yet?)
So, does this make Death Is not Dead the band’s real comeback album? I don’t know. But I do know that it means more of The Crown for me to salivate over. And that’s never a bad thing.