(This is Part 6 of our Norwegian friend Gorger’s continuing feature on bands we seem to have overlooked at NCS. And be sure to check out Gorger’s Metal.)
Cheers anew, and a headbanging new year. The past has been revisited a bit lately on NSC, a site that typically holds a firm stare into the crystal ball. I have, after hours arguing with myself, decided not to spend days arranging a 2015-favorites list. Thus, at least I can spend some time presenting some infectious releases from the year that kicked the bucket on its own birthday. I hope you’ll find something you’ll pursue and enjoy.
CAMBION – UNFOLD CHAOS SUPREME
Three Americans and a German have no time for nonsense. Without any unnecessary intro the band storms into a startling blaze of sparkling speed metallic blackened death. At just over a quarter of an hour, the band chases through five songs with minimal respite beyond the short interval between the songs. And at no time would you sense that this is a demo recording.
As the quartet hold a a furious pace, they manage to squeeze in a whole lot during a short time. At times it feels as if the five-minute-long tracks have been compressed down to three minutes. The riffs are located primarily at death’s hunting ground, but the topography is not quite right. With frantic velocity and howling thrash solos, my thoughts can’t avoid a trip down speed metal lane. In addition, sharpened vocals and reckless thrusting drift provide a scorched framework.
Three of the four men have been active musicians since the ’90s. The drummer doesn’t seem to have done a great deal, but he’s definitely getting an ordeal here, and he passes with flying colors. With Unfold Chaos Supreme, the guys have delivered one hell of a blistering demo, where 40 seconds of concert band music at the end of Perfected Aggressor is the only significant breather.
The press release uses the description “malevolent onslaught of speed obsessed blasphemous Death”. A highly apt characterization. I’m excited about the future of Cambion.
Unfold Chaos Supreme was independently released in digital format only back in February last year. It was launched on CD by Lavadome Productions on June 26th.
THIRD STORM – TARÎTÎYA ME (EP)
In 1986, four Swedish youths aged 14 to 16 started a band called Third Storm, inspired by the first wave of black metal. If Uppsala was not ripe for Third Storm, or whether Third Storm wasn’t mature enough themselves, I don’t know, but after a few years of hardship they reached the end of the ride. Two demos that few have ever heard is the only testimony of this era.
Original members Heval and Jimmy (vocals and guitar) have now revived the band, and taken it in a new musical direction. Three new soldiers have been recruited on guitar, bass, and drums. The latter is Doom:VS-dictator Johan Ericson.
This EP, consisting of two almost equally long songs totaling 26 minutes, is the first release of Third Storm‘s second era. The music is black and viscous as crude oil. With hopelessness sourced from doom and the bitterness of black metal, the band shows hatred, resentment, and frustration as if they’d been buried alive, trapped in five black coffins under several tons of moist black soil.
With thick distorted resonance as a basis for leaden riffs, gloomy melodies, and grim moods, chances are fortunately very large that Third Storm will be better received in today’s metal scene than was the case almost 30 years ago. This is an EP full of euphonious resounding gloom sprinkled with subtle details. We’ll have some more of this, please!
The album was released by Dark Descent Records on September 14th.
ZGARD – TOTEM
Zgard has impressed the editor and readers of NCS before, when this site premiered Underworld Bells from 2014’s Contemplation. Yaromisl hold to high activity in his releases. Totem is the man’s fifth album under the moniker Zgard in four years. Fortunately, there’s no compromise on quality. From Western Ukraine’s border to the Carpathians, shamanistic pagan black/folk metal is served.
Although Zgard is theoretically a one-man band, Yaromisl fortunately doesn’t insist on doing everything himself. When artists do, the result is often characterized by classic one-man bedroom-expression, but Zgard sounds like an entirely seasoned band. The two guest musicians the Ukrainian has brought along are drummer Severoth, who has his own eponymous project and does a very honorable effort here, and singer Dusk, who attended Stryvigor’s good album Forgotten by Ages (2014). He’s got a screaming, hoarse, high-pitched approach to black vocals without sounding strained or feigned. The vocals can take some time getting used to, but it still fits the music somehow. Both guys come from the Ukrainian black metal band Endless Battle.
I’ve heard two of the band’s previous releases, without having been completely enthralled. The impression has nonetheless been well above average. Especially the debut Spirit of Carpathian Sunset is remembered among other things for some similarities with Drudkh.
Totem mixes black riffs with atmospheric folklore and certain ceremonial moods, where especially the use of flute, specifically the woodwind instrument sopilka, puts its characteristics on the mood. Acoustic guitar, jaw harp, synthesizer, masculine choir, and a some feminine ritual spiritual necromancer vocals also colorize the music with mysticism. Most people will probably pick up some similarities to Kroda and Russian Arkona, but that don’t ruin Zgard‘s delightful idiosyncrasy. Totem has become an evocative stroll in the mystical Slavic forests, where magic and mythological creatures reveal themselves to those with an open mind.
P.S.: All the details of the artwork that make up the cover earn a slightly larger version than what I or this site normally uses as a template. The art was created by Ukrainian Seeming Watcher, who also made the cover of Hell:On‘s thrilling Once Upon A Chaos…, covered in the very first Beneath the Radar post. Click and enjoy, both on the cover art and on the play button below, to hear the teaser and Land of Legends.
Totem was released by Svarga Music on November 27th.
HELLISH, CAECUS, NECROSEMEN & VOIDCEREMONY
Blood Harvest launched an onslaught of four EPs in the end of November. No guinea pigs were killed in the attack, which lasted for four days. I’ll go quickly through the releases.
~ HELLISH – THEURGIST’S SPELL ~
Chilean Hellish offers fierce and speedy South-American black/thrash with sound and expression that dates from the late ’80s/early ’90s. Instead of soaking the sound in rich bass and clogging all the vents to create a compact wall of sound that just sounds annoyingly intense, they leave the airspace over the primary instruments alone. The dynamics are, in other words, very good, and allow for thunderous drums and bass, or screaming guitar and vocals, to go that little extra mile and create even louder sound when it’s called for.
Theurgist’s Spell is their first assault, containing 13:20 divided over four songs. With drums and bass pounding away, guitars riffing heavily, screaming solos, and beastly frantic vocals echoing between the walls, I catch myself smiling. Satanically, of course. The band is reckless and energetic to the max. Yet, they even deliver some quite eerie moods. This is rabid Chilean extreme metal to my liking.
~ CAECUS – AFFLICTION ~
Scottish Caecus consists of three men with the intention of creating uncompromising furious black/death metal, supplemented with lyrics about human beings’ weak, vulnerable, and frail condition. This three-track EP is their declaration of war. The guitar resounds like industrial drilling machines in action on a major construction site where the sound is transported within the supporting walls, and echoes are thrown between bare concrete surfaces. The vocals are deep as growls, regurgitated from the colon, but jarring as the drill when it hits solid armor reinforcements. The drums, if indeed they are drums, sound more like a jackhammer on a tin roof or a solid concrete vibrator in an empty oil tank. (And yes, there’s even more bizarre examples of milk churn abuse out there).
Editor’s Note: This happens to be one band we didn’t overlook. We premiered a stream of the EP along with a review here. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.
~ NECROSEMEN – VGLNS ~
Necrosemen, as the name suggests, ain’t music your mother would appreciate. If everything else should fail, at least that’s a good sign. Luckily they don’t let us down. The EP offers four thunderous martial hymns at just over 20 minutes. More value for cold capital assets than the two EPs above.
Hailing from Switzerland, this group bombard us in a sonic carnage of rabid, frantic, and raging death metal with black undertones. The sound consists largely of subsonic frequencies, reminiscent of humming engines aboard a warship of considerable size. Even if I’m hoping for a little bit more substance in the song-material when the band release their first album in 2016, I really like what I hear.
~ VOIDCEREMONY – CYCLICAL DESCENT OF CAUSALITY ~
From the first second, it seems clear that this is a demo released as an EP. The sound is wrapped in cotton wool. The men come from California, and released another demo/EP last year. Their death metal is fast and fierce, but not without a rather progressive touch. Here’s death metal with a hint of melodic features, a maze of technical acrobatics. It is the melodic finesse along with frequent and abrupt transitions that prevents VoidCeremony from sounding like everyone else. It might not be innovative, but it’s not generic either. The four members don’t do anything wrong, song- and execution-wise. The sound, however, is well below par, even if it has good dynamics. I look forward to when they get a proper recording budget. VoidCeremony’s gonna kick ass one day. Mark my words!
The two first EPs was released on November 30th, and the two last of December 4th. All via Blood Harvest.