(We’re veering off our usual beaten paths in this post, as DGR reviews the latest releases from The Algorithm and The Luna Sequence.)
We don’t generally cover techno/electronica/dj acts here at No Clean Singing, and I know that my presence has largely been the reason we might have in the past. You’ll likely never see the more straightforward of such acts here, but I will wholly admit to being drawn to the hybrid monsters — the ones that have combined their music with heavy metal and over time have morphed into some strange creatures. Those have been a huge draw for me, and when it comes to artists who I think are doing it particularly well, then you’ll see that I’ll make some continuing attempts to cover them. However, I understand that taking up the front page when there is so much more traditional metal news out there might irk some folks, so I’ve combined two of the more recent works into one huge mega-review article.
Both of these names, The Algorithm and The Luna Sequence, should be familiar to a bunch of you more regular readers, as I have made efforts in the past to share their work, which I’ve quite enjoyed over the years. It just so happens that both artists managed to have new albums, Octopus4 and Fearful Shepherds Hunt Their Sheep respectively, hit around the same time. And thus we find ourselves in a huge review where you can witness me talk out of my ass about electronica music — of which I know between fuck-all and absolute zero — and heavy metal, about which I’ve made writing a huge hobby. Below, you can watch me thrash about between the two moods while I try my best to articulate why exactly I’ve found myself enjoying the hell out of both The Algorithm and The Luna Sequence releases in recent months.
(During my recent stay in Wisconsin for Gilead Fest I had the pleasure of meeting both Tanner Anderson (Obsequiae, Celestial) and his friend Ben Smasher. I later discovered that Ben had written for his own blog about Tanner’s band Obsequiae (formerly Autumnal Winds), and I asked for and received permission to reprint it here (slightly edited), since we have inexcusably failed to review Obsequiae’s music before.)
written by Ben Smasher
Today I am feeling relieved. My trouble began when I met Tanner Anderson in the winter of 2007, and soon after was the first time I’d heard Autumnal Winds. Upon loving it immensely (see my review), there was always this distracting itch that I couldn’t scratch. I really wanted to be able to say the typical phrase, “Oh, this is just like ______ crossed with ______.” There was such a tangible familiarity, which I am usually able to quantify easily by describing it as “A thrashier ______” or something to that effect.
This trouble is even further fueled by Tanner’s and my mutual and unforgivably rampant obsession with melodic black and death metal bands of the 1990′s. Knowing that Tanner’s and my CD collections are largely interchangeable makes it all the more frustrating that I couldn’t easily reverse-engineer Tanner’s music — be it Autumnal Winds or Obsequiae – into a palatable formula that could be stated in a short sentence.
The satisfaction and relief that I have found to this conundrum can be reduced to this article, by giving the music of Obsequiae the reverence it humbly commands. With the recent release of Obsequiae’s debut album on the vinyl format, I have been seeing an increasing number of comparisons, ranging from Agalloch to Hammers of Misfortune to Pentangle to Bathory. Each time I see this I inadvertently stomp my foot down because these associations are lazy, and do all parties a disservice.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Fallujah.)
One of the things that consistently surprises me about music, in general, is how much some artists can change in their evolution yet still remain fundamentally the same. Fallujah released a pretty killer debut with The Harvest Wombs, a blitzkrieg of melodic technical death metal madness with a seasoning of Allan Holdsworth fusion thrown on top of it; the sound was the essence of ethereal yet feral. It was their way of achieving a sort of space-death sound, and it worked.
Of course, the other elements in the music helped, too. Fallujah pulls from a strange bag of tricks and smashes them together. The combination of death metal with a lot of post-y elements, including some borrowed from that end of the Black Metal spectrum, has cemented a sound I would argue is recognizably Fallujah, signature in nature.
The Flesh Prevails is a logical step forward, an attempt to bridge the technical showmanship of The Harvest Wombs with the spaced-out fusion atmosphere of the Nomadic EP. The end result is death metal that is equal parts brutal and Zen. Depending on your mood, you could windmill to this until you get whiplash, or sit around stoically contemplating the meaning of your life. It’s an odd paradox of sound that’s hypnotic.
(Austin Weber reviews the new album by Denmark’s Defilementory.)
The current wave of atmospheric death metal is an interesting offshoot from traditional death metal.We can thank acts like Gorguts and Ulcerate for this newfound blueprint for disorienting and disgusting us, while still perpetuating the trademark rapid-fire horrific emanations upon which the genre was built. Entering this subgenre are Danish defilers Defilementory, an act who before this release fit squarely within brutal death metal. Having integrated a cold abyssal atmosphere into their sound, they come across as a fairly different and refined group this time around.
As for the brutal death metal side of their sound, they come across as very Suffocation-inspired, and yet they are one of the few groups to do so who don’t engage in blatant worship/ ripping-off of their progenitors or follow the way of Deeds Of Flesh This is partly due to the frequently intertwined atmospheric passages and builds spliced within the overall meticulously constructed rampaging chaos.
(Andy Synn delivers another installment of his irregular series of album reviews in haiku. Two more reviews come after the jump. With music, of course.)
EARTH CRISIS – SALVATION OF INNOCENTS
Still angry, still raw
Still destroying the machines
With big riffs and rage
(Andy Synn reviews the forthcoming 10th album by Austria’s Belphegor.)
Both criticised and praised (often in the same breath) for their focussed commitment to blackened sonic savagery over the years, it’s probably not unfair to say that Belphegor have had their sound established for a while, and that a number of their albums were – if not interchangeable – at least very closely related to one another.
And please don’t read that more harshly than it’s intended. I love Belphegor, and for many years their sound was one that didn’t need to change, aside from the occasional tweak here and there. It was pure extremity and blackened blasphemous brutality, no frills, no fat, no filler – just album after album of lean, mean, killing machine music.
But change is inevitable it seems, and three and a half years after the release of the ravenous Blood Magick Necromance, the Austrian sadists have returned with their new album Conjuring The Dead, which on the one hand demonstrates a noticeable shift in approach, and yet on the other still feels altogether too familiar…
(DGR wrote this review of the new album by Septicflesh from Greece.)
Greek mythology tends to lend itself pretty well to the idea of the massive. You don’t get to call your album Titan and have it be something other than an attempt at sounding absolutely huge. When SepticFlesh announced that as the title of their new album, you had to have a pretty good idea of what you were signing up for. Truth be told, SepticFlesh have the sort of sound that lends itself to such a title.
They’ve had years to hone their craft, and the basic elements of their sound — the symphonic and orchestral and the death metal — can shoot from being reserved and foreboding to sounding absolutely gigantic within the space of a second. Over the span of several albums, SepticFlesh have found a really good balance of just how much of each to drop into a song, while walking a very fine line and tinkering with a very delicate formula. Rarely have they ever gone the “crank everything up to eleven” route and reached for entire bombast on all fronts — though that approach has been proven to work, and when SepticFlesh choose to do it, they do just as well.
With The Great Mass, the band really captured lightning in a bottle, letting the symphonic and the death metal sides of the band war with each other and meld into an equilibrium, and it resulted in a great disc — as both a collection of songs and, if you were lucky enough to find one of the bonus editions with just the orchestral pieces, as a symphonic movement as well. If SepticFlesh had decided to make Titan into The Great Mass 2: Mass Harder, then I imagine people would’ve lined up front and center to lavish praise upon the band, because hell, that album again would’ve absolutely been acceptable. That’s why Titan is an interesting album — because for half the disc, they didn’t do that. Instead, they toyed with the foundations of the band and messed with the formula that had been crafted to its breaking point. The result is an album that does live up to its name — Titan is absolutely massive sounding, but not necessarily as death metal as the band have been before.
Let’s face it: Kentucky is a very hard act to follow. In my case, it would probably be impossible for anyone, including Panopticon’s Austin Lunn, to re-create that experience of slack-jawed wonder when I first heard it. But Panopticon’s new album Roads To the North isn’t a re-creation of Kentucky, any more than Kentucky was a repetition of the albums that preceded it. It is, however, every bit as good.
The Panopticon albums with which I’m familiar (from Collapse on) have been very personal records. They’re a function of Lunn’s moods and the subjects that happened to inspire him when he wrote the songs. Social Disservices was full of righteous fury. Kentucky reflected Lunn’s deep feeling about the history and culture of the state he then called home; it dealt with tragic aspects of Kentucky’s coal-mining industry, but you could also hear in the music that it was at least equally inspired by feelings of affection and passion for the place.
Unlike the last two albums, political themes don’t run through Roads To the North, or at least not as overtly. As Lunn has disclosed in interviews, it’s more a reflection of changes in his personal life over the last several years, including time spent in Norway learning a new profession (as a craft beer brewer), relocating from Kentucky to Minnesota to practice his new skills, and becoming a father, as well as changes in his perspectives about the world around him. But although the music may not be as politically charged as before, it’s no less passionate.
(Andy Synn reviews the new fourth album by Norway’s Pantheon I.)
Now, strictly speaking, From The Abyss They Rise is a compilation album, comprising an EP’s worth of new tracks combined with a collection of rare tracks and early demos. For the purpose of this review I’m going to be focussing entirely on the EP itself, although that’s not to say that the rare/unreleased material is without merit – “Enter The Pantheon” (the band’s first ever demo) and their cover of Emperor classic “Thus Spake The Nightspirit” in particular are definitely worthy of your interest and attention.
These new tracks are the first Pantheon I have written/recorded with the involvement of new guitarist Aethyris (aka Shandy MacKay – Horizon Ablaze, ex-Absu, as well as live session work for both Melechesh and perennial NCS favourites Khonsu), and his impressive talent and pedigree certainly serve the band well on these five songs, adding a touch more proggy ingenuity and melody to the band’s acid-drenched Black Metal assault.
A deep rumbling noise could be heard rising up from the bowels of the interhole yesterday as the name BÖLZER! was simultaneously growled by reviewers who had just received their advance copies of the band’s new EP Soma. The degree of excitement that had been building in anticipation of the EP was phenomenal, given that before Soma this Swiss band had only released a grand total of six songs — three of them on 2012′s Roman Acupuncture and three on 2013′s Aura. I can’t think of many extreme underground bands who’ve made such a big splash in so little time on the strength of so few tracks. But on the other hand, this Swiss duo really don’t sound like anyone else, and that’s a rare achievement in this day and age.
I’ve admitted before that my attraction to Bölzer has bordered on the unhealthy. I listened to Aura so much that I began to fear an alien entity had taken up residence in my skull. I included “Entranced By the Wolfshook” on my list of 2013′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. After seeing the band at Maryland Deathfest, I waited in line so long to buy a shirt that I missed the next band’s entire set (but seriously, how could you not struggle for the chance to get apparel emblazoned with “THUNDER TONGUE BOLT FIST” on the back?). So yes, I was growling the name yesterday, too.
Well, I have good news and bad news about Soma. The bad news is that it only includes two songs — “Steppes” and “Labyrinthian Graves”. And that’s it for the bad news.