(Our Norwegian guest contributor Gorger, whose own blog is here, returns to NCS with the third and final Part of an entertaining post in which he recommends music we’ve overlooked — with a couple of conclusions at the end.)
Welcome to my last installation of stuff I’ve enjoyed these last months that has not been covered on NCS. The previous posts are here:
ENDZEIT: YEARS OF HUNGER
The difference between demos and self-released EPs can be rather minimal. Endzeit defines this as an EP, and the music is mature enough by all means to justify this. Negativity is about as popular here on NCS as clean, high-pitched singing performed by castrated power vocalists. Nevertheless, I have to address just this one negative aspect: Soundwise, there’s a somewhat unfinished feel. The sound is slightly flat and tame, whilst this music feels as if designed for a bombastic sound with a violent punch. The sound is by no means completely lifeless, though.
Endzeit is from Finland and was initially conceived as a one-man band by guitarist Polaris in 2012. This original intention was, however, quickly discarded as Black (vocals and guitar), Samuli (drums), and Pyry (bass) came along. The EP was written the same year and contains 22 minutes divided over five tracks. The guys have come up with a lyrical concept about a doomed, future-less world where decay has gone too far to be reversed. The inspiration is the city of Detroit, where large blocks/precincts are characterized by urban decay and vacancy. Condemned buildings allegedly serve as rat’s nests for criminals.
The EP kicks off with an intro that does not consist of avant-garde sound collages exclusively, but rather of razor-sharp distorted guitar tones and bombastic drumming, as if by a march of ghastly demonic ghouls. It’s followed by gloomy riffs, infernal rolling rhythms, and furious hellish black vocals.
The black metal appears somewhat melodic, but there’s no merry melodies to be found here. (Even if the middle section of Godless ain’t completely misanthropic). The guitars vary between full-velocity black metal riffing and more melodic styles. The pace is quite quick, pretty precipitated or rather rapid, roughly reported. Samuli delivers an earthquake of percussive spice in his handcraft.
Conclusion: The band has made a few pretty decent songs, and the instrumentation seems absolutely competent. For a first attempt, this is a wicked and frenetic knife cut to your jugular vein and a high voltage jolt to unnameable body parts. With slightly more depth and punch in the production, the next release from Endzeit could be an even more furious beast of grim and gruesome derangement.
Years of Hunger was released independently on September 13th.
MISERICORDIA: THRONE OF EXISTENCE
Black metal the way I like it. There’s your summary, straight in your goatee-tainted face. Misericordia come from Norrköping, Sweden and were formed in 1998. They’ve got an EP, an album, and three demo’s in their back catalog. Work on this album seems to have been going on since 2012, and in April 2013 the bass player left without further drama. And thus they were three. The two guitarists Kail and Deobrigula have shared the responsibility of the bass, but the band is currently looking for a new man on four strings.
Endymion (Spetälsk and ex-Satanic Slaughter) is beating leather like an utterly lunatic psychopath cowboy going nuts with knuckle-dusters amidst the cloven-hoof herd on the cattle field, making it a bellowing battlefield. The guitarists create sharp, devilish horror with precision and skill. Deobrigula exerts his vocal cords like a born-again rotten corpse with an enthusiastic lust for eating people to death, with his blunt teeth drenched in perilous bacteria. Just as it should be, in other words. For conservative fans of second-generation (Scandinavian) black metal, innovation is not necessarily a virtue. (Some fanatics will probably argue that development is an abomination). Personally I’m fond of a good number of sub-genres, but I easily favor black metal directly inspired by, or with roots firmly planted in, Scandinavian black metal from the 90s.
Misericordia revolutionize nothing but rather spew out extremity and blasphemy in a cold, crisp, evil, and solid manner. These tracks are highly approved, and the sound of cutting guitar encircled by absolute darkness… Utterly enthralling!
Throne Of Existence was released on Deepsend Records on September 16th.
INCIPIENT CHAOS: SULPHUR
A physical disc in a jewel case with a stylish and elaborate cover with a record company as the sender indicates a properly produced full-length. Thus, I was somewhat surprised when the content was barely 30 minutes of black metal, with such a primitive sound that I could easily be misled into believing it was a demo I had received. And it turns out this is the first sign of life from French Incipient Chaos. This recording was released independently in late July of this year as a demo. It was picked up by Mortis Humanea, who released it limited to 500 copies last month.
This is black metal of the discordant, aggressive kind, and the sound, as mentioned, has a sense of primitive production. This makes it fairly obvious that it is a young band. It should be noted, however, that the barren, raw sound to some extent fits the unpretentious music — music where the main intention is obviously presenting and spreading pure hatred and frustration.
During the first two or three rounds I let it spin in the background without deep concentration, just to let it sink in slightly. Afterwards I had a slight heard-it-before perception. I didn’t find it poor exactly, but still moderately mundane and generic. When applying a more focused approach to my listening, shapes and contours emerged that made me hear it in a different
light darkness. The surface that had seemed fairly smooth from a distance revealed more nuances, refinement, and shades when studied up close.
The two shortest tracks, We Live and War · Blood · Flesh are quite straight-forward, with a rather speedy pace. Despite a conventional feel, they still hold too much riff and rhythm variations to dismiss them as simple. Both Redemption by Lie and Sulphur last for about seven minutes each, and have some more variability and atmospheric sections embedded. The rolling rhythms combined with spiked, lacerating attitude and the compassion of icicles shows a higher potential. The best track to my ears is the nearly eight-minute long Black Hate. Evil-minded atmospheres creep out of the loudspeakers like eerie, creaking, wooden planks on the empty upper floor, before goosebumps-inducing footsteps start coming down the stairs. The cold sweat you feel during the chilled discomfort as the apparitions approach is priceless.
Sulphur‘s sense of recycling might be too strong to make the record impress enormously. It is still a first attempt stocked with decent structures, healthy variation, and plenty of gloomy horrification,, which testify to the band’s significant potential. I’ve gotten used to the sound, but obviously the release would have been even darker and more mighty with a stronger production. I assume improvements will occur from these Frenchmen in their somber future.
Sulphur was released by Mortis Humanae Productions on September 19th and I gave it 4 of 6 points in my review.
ALL SORROWS BEHELD: IN DARK HARMONY (EP)
This is a three-track EP with a 15-minute duration from an American band I hardly have any knowledge of or info about. It’s a one-man band of one Cinis which began in June of 2013. This is the very first release, but a full-length recording is in progress as we speak. I’ll just do a track-by-track walk-through.
The title track In Dark Harmony kicks off with depressive black metal in a tenacious and evocative manner. Well, to kick off is indeed a poor choice of words, considering the sluggish pace. With Cinis sounding like he’s wrapped in barbed wire while his vocal chords are being rubbed with sandpaper, the song makes for a delightfully pleasant joy-killer in all its cheerless dread.
This depressive sadness is continued in Funeral where the listener is dragged further down the vortex. The middle of the song consists of an atmospheric, mournful section that lives up to its name. The distorted, echo-filled vocals in the background oozes desperation. A rather gripping dystopia. Mourning The Hunt is more of an outro that ends this short voyage in an atmospheric fashion. A dreamy sequence makes for hopes of being let off the hook, before a fox-trap-like device sinks its long, sharp, metal fangs into your soft flesh and drags you under with broken ribs and punctured lungs. Okay, so I’m exaggerating, but it does turn more nightmarish as the guitar distorts in the second half of the song.
This is not an EP that reinvents anything, but I like it, and it does what it intends to do flawlessly: It presents and demonstrates All Sorrow Beheld for potential listeners. Not a must, but being “pay what thou wilt” on Bandcamp, it’s worth every shilling you decide to donate.
In Dark Harmony was released independently on September 22th.
VOICE OF THE SOUL: CATACOMBS
A depiction of a preacher leading his herd of sheep to the edge of the cliff is an allegory that triggers my curiosity. Behind this alluring symbolism we find two men from Kuwait, who have now relocated to the United Arab Emirates. The band has been around for seven years and released three EPs. This is the first album from the melodic death metal two-piece.
After a stripped-down, classical, piano-styled guitar intro we move on to dark, atmospheric melodies with growl. Loads of good and varied guitar work along with scattered transitions drive the music forward. Constantly dark with negative moods. Constantly? Well, not entirely. On the fifth track, Cold Rupture, we visit a more post-metallic territory with a catastrophic outbreak of poppy clean vocals. This tragic move destroys some of the overall impression. The following interlude with piano and synth doesn’t redeem this error, as it is rather lighthearted. Fortunately, the band’s bleak, inhospitable work continues over the three remaining tracks. On the album’s last song we get some more clean vocals, but fear not: The vocals here are a guest appearance from Egan O’Rourke of Daylight Dies, and it’s in a different league.
Variation, punch, technical wizardry, and grim, menacing moods are the keywords for this release. There are certainly darker and more misanthropic releases out there, but here you’ll also find lots of other qualities. Apart from a few flawed tracks, which I choose to condone, I find a lot of good melancholic melodies, hefty drumming, inhumane vocals, and a powerful sound.
Catacombs was self-released on September 28th.
ASPHERIUM: THE FALL OF THERENIA
I initially promised to cover 16 releases when this three-part post began. As it turns out, one of the candidates left on my list had been previously written about. Therefore, I toss in this impression that I wrote the other day as a bonus. It should please some of the tech-death patrons out there.
This technical death metal quartet from Norway are out with their second album. The 2011 debut The Veil of Serenity was very good, and this is not any worse. Our little blue planet is probably not large enough for these guys, or maybe there is insufficient area left to be explored here. In any case, the band have launched their adventures into outer space. Among asteroids and comets, we are dragged along on an occasionally fierce journey.
It is a turbulent journey. (Although turbulence naturally can’t occur in the absence of an atmosphere). We are constantly thrown between aggressive riffs and melodic and hushed parts, moving from meteor showers to no-coverage areas and cosmic oppressive silence, and further on to the magical display of twinkling stars from the Horsehead Nebula.
It is a long journey on which the band have embarked. The ship’s log alone lasts for almost 70 minutes. The vocals are split between growls and some more core-dominated offspring. The latter is not quite my style, but still it suits the music pretty well. There’s also some clean vocals to be found (again, fear not fellow NCS followers), in Regret and Eternal Sorrow amongst others. This is actually so good even Arjen Lucassen would raise his eyebrows.
There’s a lot of solid guitar work here, for example in Landfall, where we are served piano and backing vocals as well. These guys are not afraid of mixing foreign objects into the mix as well, such as the flamenco in As We Light Up the Sky. As a closing track, we get Reality Unfolds, an almost 14-minute mammoth of different elements seamlessly woven together into a mighty, epic, varied, and beautiful finale. This album is simply a qualitatively solid and eclectic brew. Recommended for those with a liking for technical peculiarities and a desire to explore the vast interstellar systems.
The Fall of Therenia is yet another independent release, published on September 5th.
I see that this utterly deranged work of mud and blood, dripping of madness, has not been covered either, so I’m tossing it in:
Islander gave praise to Lavatory‘s only former release, the 2012 EP Transgression. Anyone who liked that one should sink into the clay-covered downward spiral of this maddening territory. It’s reckless, dripping, smelly, and gory. There are two guitarists somewhere, but it rumbles and vibrates is if there were three rabid bass players (except during the solos, that is). The singer probably has rabies; the bandmates must have him locked up between gigs.
Whether wallowing in the mud, tenaciously slow as in Restless Souls, or putting the pedal to the death metal as in Miserable Life, it’s all tuned down six feet under with insane thrust and rotten moods. Moods that produce associations of being hunted down by an axeman and dying slowly and painfully, not by the cut or the blood loss itself, but from the infection caused by the putrid remains of meat from former victims, causing boils and pestilence.
Morbid Terror is a 40-minute gnarly beast of destruction, released by Pulverised Records on October 6th.
Conclusion I: The biggest challenge when translating to or writing in a different language than my own mother-tongue is all the English terms, phrases, idioms, sayings, etc. that don’t come naturally. Also, my twists on Norwegian phrases, etc., become totally untranslatable. I knew it would be time-consuming, but it actually takes less time to translate than to write a piece in the first place.
Conclusion II: Whenever someone tells you there’s no good metal being released any more, tell ’em to wash their ears, visit NCS, and listen with concentration.
I got the first link addresses wrong in the Misericordia piece. Here are the drums:
I made that substitution.
So far I’m subtitling this “Things Raven Likes”. Looks like I need to subscribe to Gorger’s blog 🙂 jeg forstår litt norsk
at 666€ that Incipient Chaos is a bit pricey on Bandcamp.
Indeed, and it makes it hard for people with hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. The fear of the number 666, that is.
Good to hear!
And these entries are just things that has not been mentioned here before. (I think).
There’s lots of releases I like even more, but they were already covered in some way or another.
How come you understand some Norwegian by the way?
It started because I work with the band Blodsgard, and although their English is flawless, it’s much better to read the lyrics as written. Tilgi oss ikke, vi vet hva vi gjør 😉
Hahaha… Monument was a very good album.
I just have to translate that greate line to English:
Forgive us not, for we know what we do.
I still hope I can find the time to avail myself of the program in Norwegian my college offers. It’s looking less and les like I’ll be able to slot it in, but I still keep hope alive.
What program is that?
The University Of Chicago offers a minor in Norwegian studies, as well as classes to learn the language.
One of the least used languages in the world.
Well, that should come in handy. 😉