(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new fourth album by the Russian project Talsur.)
I would guess that Funeral Doom is a hard kind of metal to write. Your songs are long, your tempos are agonizingly sluggish, you’re running the risk of using hammy black metal synths and killing the intended vibe, AND you have to write captivating melodies, all at the same time. It is a style of metal that, for me, has the smallest number of noteworthy bands, yet at the same time those bands who stand out REALLY stand out. In truly capturing the essence of sorrow, despair, and the lamentation of your own fragility and mortality, Funeral Doom offers a musical experience that truly doesn’t exist anywhere else in the pantheon of the metallic arts.
Talsur is a one-man Russian project with multiple releases to his name, boasting different stylistic inclinations on each one (the samples I checked out of his last record had a sort of industrial blackened take on a doom sound), and now finds himself doing ANOTHER new approach with Slough Of Depond.
(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new 14th studio album by Germany’s Kreator.)
Kreator is a pretty big fucking deal to many people, including me. They are one of the most consistent thrash bands from the genre’s early heyday who have not only produced consistently killer music but have been unafraid to experiment and change things around during their career, always doing so with bold ambition. I’ve been a big fan of the thrash-meets-melodic-death-metal direction the band have been on since Violent Revolution, with Enemy Of God and Phantom Antichrist being absolute modern classic albums that have undeniable power.
In addition, Mille Petrozza is one of my favorite thrash front-men and one of the best riff writers in metal, his voice striking in how pissed-off and forceful it sounds and his riffs bringing remarkable intensity and tasteful technicality. Among the old guard, those talents are almost unrivaled (among modern thrash bands, David DiSanto of Vektor would probably take my vote). And with those confessions of zealous loyalty out of the way, let’s turn to Gods of Violence.
(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the new album by Begerith, which was released on January 7.)
Sometimes we really are just born in the wrong place. Life really is just a matter of random chance and circumstance. Sometimes we’re born out of time, out of place, our identity isn’t consistent with what surrounds us, and we were always destined to be that eyesore. Begerith seem to have been so convinced of that wrongness that they literally relocated to the country that hosts the sound they identified with. Russian natives, they fled to the majesty of Poland, so they too could build their own ramparts on an imperial mobile sonic fortress that knows no equal.
Begerith are 100% consummate scholars of the Polish deathly metallic arts despite their Russian roots. If you love the scathing, bleak imperial might of Behemoth, Hate, or Vader you will be right at home here. A.D.A.M. is an impressive record, both in its dedication to what it wishes to be and also because it’s really fucking good.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by a new project named Alluvial.)
In the interest of full disclosure, Keith Merrow means a lot of things to me; he’s inspirational in what he’s done as a DIY musician, his music is great, and he’s been a great friend and giver of meaningful advice to me in the times during his busy life when we’ve gotten to have a substantial conversation. Since I started writing, I’ve reviewed everything he’s put out or been a part of.
As someone who had some very dark times in the last couple of years, I was surprised in an oddly pleasant sort of way when I asked Keith for the promo of his new project Alluvial and he told me a bit about the inspiration for it. He and metallic wandering wunderkind Wes Hauch (Black Crown Initiate, Glass Casket, ex-The Faceless) had essentially written this album as a way of venting depressive and dark times they’d been through recently as well. The Deep Longing For Annihilation is a powerful, entrancing, and disgustingly bitter record, reflecting the emotions that went into this thing.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Maze of Sothoth from Italy, which is set for release by Everlasting Spew on January 9.)
Maze Of Sothoth are a staggeringly difficult band to quantify. The Lovecraftian theme certainly points to a band who might enjoy the eldritch, ambiguous, and alien, but whereas extreme metal bands generally attempt to capture all this through sound gimmicks, melodic dispositions, or atmospheric songwriting, Maze Of Sothoth bring forth a style of technical/brutal death metal that tackles that sub-genre from an almost de-constructionist, absurdist, and reductionist point of view.
Soul Demise is rooted in what is still death metal’s best period (in my opinion), which was the ’90s boom that produced a perfect blend of technicality, brutality, and songwriting — they exhibit all the best qualities of this period. In the tradition of that period, Maze Of Sothoth’s sound is also really unique owing to that reductionist perspective.
(TheMadIsraeli wrote this feature about Connecticut-based Stone Healer.)
About a week ago I spent some time digging for older releases by bands people should know about. Stone Healer is such a band and seemed a good choice for this post-holiday feature.
Dave Kaminsky, the mastermind behind Stone Healer, is an interesting character in the super-underground black metal scene just because of his style and overall production aesthetic. We’re talking the real garage tier; you’d have to be looking in the right places to find his obscure projects.
I had stumbled upon his previous band Autolatry, a progressive black metal band that also incorporated elements of post-hardcore into their sound, resulting in music that was abrasive, caustic, yet forlorn and melancholy.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by Norway’s Fleshmeadow and brings us a premiere of a full album stream.)
Ok. This is my REAL last 2016 review. I promise. And it comes with a stream premiere.
Fleshmeadow are in the vein of progressive AND technical black metal that I’ve fallen in love with. When I think of black metal I enjoy, I think of bands like Khonsu, Keep of Kalessin, Dark Fortress, Old Man’s Child. These bands are always doing interesting things, writing superbly crafted riff-storms of frigid ice comprised of foreign alien matter and scathing nihilism toward existence itself — and so is Fleshmeadow.
Fleshmeadow’s Umbra came out on December 16th, so it’s another one of those releases that has come too late in the month to get its proper year-end recognition. That’s really sad, because if you like more deliberate, progressive, and machine-cold black metal, this might be the best black metal album released in 2016 that wasn’t Khonsu’s The Xun Protectorate.
(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the impressive, just-released debut album by the Polish band Thunderwar.)
Alright. One more review for 2016.
Thunderwar are a rookie melodic death metal quartet from Warsaw, Poland, who bring something of a blackened take to the style. It’s unfortunate that their album was released late this month, as it won’t have a fair chance of being recognized on year-end lists. Maybe sometime in Q1 2017 I’ll do a “Top 10 albums in 2016 left in the dust because they were released in December and therefore came in too late for top albums of 2016 lists because these lists need to be published ASAP for clicks instead of waiting ’til 2017 to give a 100% informed account of 2016’s musical landscape” list.
The timing is unfortunate because for me Black Storm is the most impressive debut of 2016 in this style, alongside Betrayal’s Infinite Circles.
(As LISTMANIA continues at our site, TheMadIsraeli provides his year-end lists in graphical form.)
2016 was a rough year for me that kept me from really submerging myself in music the way I would normally want to. While it seems that I managed to listen to many of the releases that really mattered, I do feel like I fell a bit short. I was, however, able to put together three lists: A top-10 death metal list, a melodic death metal list, and an overall top 10 of the year, which you’ll see in the Topster’s collages below.
A few ramble notes before the lists…
(TheMadIsraeli prepared this review of the new album by Germany’s Brutal Unrest, coming in January from Hammerheart Records.)
I don’t demand originality or diversity of sound when it comes to my metal. All I ever ask of you is that if you aren’t going to do something interesting or experimental, write good riffs, show that you have a fundamental understanding of what makes metal great. And so I tend to like only super-out-there experimental/avant-garde/progressive extreme metal, or super-meat-and-potatoes, tried-and-true metal that pays homage to the roots and legacy of the genre.
Brutal Unrest definitely fall into the latter category, a majestic German death metal behemoth that listened to too much Aeon, Deicide, Suffocation, and Dismember and came out sounding exactly like the above album cover looks.