(Our ally Gorger from Norway reaches the quarter-century mark in his series, continuing to shed light on underground gems that our all-seeing eyes have somehow failed to spot. To find more of his discoveries, type “Gorger” in our search bar or visit Gorger’s Metal.)
Oh, my… has more than two months passed since my last post already? Holy fuck. I keep promising myself to make at least one of these appearances each month, but it’s as if people around me can smell it when I’ve got time to spare. Maybe it’s time for that semi-annual bath. To paraphrase Mr. J. Lennon: “Life is what happens when you sit your tired ass down”.
Oh, well. Here’s another four chunks of metallic meat that you shouldn’t miss out on. And since there was no protest last time around, I’ll attempt at shortening down on the initial overloaded writing, whilst leaving a shrouded clue of a link for the utterly nerdy connoisseurs.
VENENUM – TRANCE OF DEATH
In a post aptly titled “Underground Metal For The Trve Curmudgeon” back in 2011, SurgicalBrute recommended the reader to keep an eye out for German Venenum. I believe he was more right than he knew himself. Their debut Trance Of Death is so strong that it’s one out of relatively few albums I’ve awarded a full score.* A reader by the pseudonym of ZackFlag even had it as a favourite midway through this year.
Sombre cello with drips of piano open the intro “Entrance”, before the underground opens in the almost-nine-minutes-long “Merging Nebular Drapes”. Lethal unpolished punch and fierce moods pave its way with roaring riffs and poisonous swirling guitars before gloom seeps out of the grave. Two tracks continue the wild hunt in the same irregular ways. It echoes, reverberates, drones and explodes in extremely dynamic structured songs where tempo, rhythm, and riffs are constantly changing. The mood of persecution delusion is heartfelt, as if the music describes a frantic escape driven by utter mania.
The “Trance Of Death” trilogy occupies the entire second half of the album, with “Part II: Metanoia Journey” giving a somewhat psychedelic breather when the band’s calmest aspects borrow Hammond organ and expressions from progressive hard rock. After a piece where calm, ominous death metal blends naturally with elements of Pink Floyd and Deep Purple into pleasant dreamy moods, 14-minutes-long “Part III: There Are Other Worlds…” takes the 50-minute album across the finish line. The ghostly moods are so abstract that you gradually realize it’s all just a dream. But a lifelike dream that you just can’t end nor leave. A dream that will forever haunt you as a disturbing feverish nightmare.
Transitions come and go frequently, and melt various killer passages into a malignant coherency. With their lightly psychedelic undercurrents, the songs are rather erratic. The album, with its unruly unpredictabilities, bends and twirls like a spastic Midgard Serpent.
Trance Of Death was released by Sepulchral Voice Records on March 17th.
SOIJL – AS THE SUN SETS ON LIFE
The mournful and melodic debut Endless Elysian Fields by Swedish death/doom band Soijl was duly presented here in 2015.
The band still performs heavy and grief-stricken death/doom with ditto growling, and the two albums sound quite similar, i.e. loud and clear, but heavy, deep, and resounding. As with the debut, I get some associations to My Dying Bride, albeit without the similarity becoming too apparent.
Despite heavy riffs, the music has a hovering atmospheric ethos. Wistful melodies give the music wings. But gliding flight and majestic vistas give no comfort. The golden eagle’s brave tears fall on a lush landscape that slowly fades away, consumed, poisoned, and deteriorated by the greedy two-legged breed, which in unquenchable desire unceasingly increases its territory.
Whereas I might miss a truly heavy-duty riff or melody or two — like the absolutely fucking amazing “Dying Kinship” from the predecessor — every single song nevertheless has strong melodies, soaked in lead and melancholy. Buffs can safely buy, bemoan, and bewail.
IN REVERENCE – THE SELECTED BREED
In Reverence have been around for seven years, releasing various miscellaneous releases. The guys apparently started out with deathcore, but fortunately they’ve come to their senses in time for this debut. (What? Did I say something wrong?) By now they’re playing negatively charged and throbbing death metal. And they impress abundantly.
The lyrical focus on The Selected Breed revolves around humanity’s tendency to self-destruction, and leads us through various stages and scenarios associated with this irreversible fatal demise.
The Swedes’ death metal is a powerful diet, with moderate exotic undertones and an underlying ominous atmosphere in anticipation of the apocalypse. Drawing small parallels to Nile and Melechesh doesn’t feel entirely unnatural. In Reverence doesn’t use ingredients of the Middle East to the same apparent extent, but a few strings of Oriental origin are used as spice. Frequently enough to become a significant part of the expression, but without stealing the attention.
It took some time to identify these as saz and santoor. The latter has a special timbre that can give some associations to the Norwegian langeleik or perhaps the Finnish/Karelian kantele, to compare with something from my own region of habitation. All of these also belong in the same instrument category (dulcimer / zithere).
After some turnover early on, the band stabilized as a trio. Drummer Oscar Krumlinde plays in the promising black metal band Avslut, which I have to keep an eye on. Otherwise, Pedram Khatibi Shahidi handles guitar while Filip Danielsson grunts his cataclysmic tidings. They entered Wing Studios with veteran Sverker Widgren, who’s done the whole production. The sound is massive and juicy like raw beef. Determined and vigorous percussion and rich guitars reverberate in the ether.
The album doesn’t overstay its welcome. In Reverence finishes the job concisely and effectively in less than 34 minutes. For me, it’s only natural to play the album again at least once more as soon as the last acoustic tone fades out.
ATREXIAL – SOUVERAIN
In the region of the Catalan, the devil rules the land.
Or so it may seem, based on Atrexial from Barcelona in northern Spain. The three diabolic alchemists seem, already with their very first release, to have distilled the essence of black and death metal, and forged an alloy of these in the very flames of Hell. (One album to rule them all…?) Souverain, or sovereign in English, is hardly merely a title, but just as much a statement or a manifesto, for “superb” is the immediate feeling I get when Atrexial goes to war.
Souverain opens with horrific sounds that give a feeling of taking part in a very creepy movie. The album, amongst other effects, offers a theatrical sense of horror movies. This is due in part to some clever symphonic sequences and interludes, as well as the use of devilish samples.
In this case, the Devil is not the friend and supporter of mankind, known as Lucifer, but rather Satan, Hollywood’s biblical charmer, the one who devours your soul through infinite suffering. A fictional character created by allegedly “well-meaning souls”.
Samples could, by the way, give this type of vehement extreme metal a fairly unserious dramaturgic expression, but I think most of them fit in. Besides, a touch of unpretentious blasphemous devilment only befits the blazing profanity.
When black disgust and death’s aggression meet for a head-to-head duel, unimagined fatal forces are unleashed. Fear, strength, sorrow, anger, pride, pain, power, and powerlessness are all emotions to put their mark on an almost hour-long work exhibiting copious details. All of these feelings are, however, only to be regarded as perceptible screams from tormented souls in purgatory. What dominates most is the roar of hell-fire. Coal black furore and frenetic grotesque fatality create a maddening pummeling impact of resolute satanic thrust.
Flaming riffs, bestial guitar works, diabolical atmosphere, and tastefully integrated segments with sophisticated fiddle-strings and grand piano are among the elements that immediately and instinctively made me fall for Atrexial‘s debut to begin with. After a dozen hours, the effect of Souverain has not deteriorated, but rather grown to a proper firework from Hell. In fact, this one also received the top-ranking.*
Souverain was released by Godz Ov War Productions on May 30th.