Code – Augur Nox (Review)

CodeCode are from the UK and they specialise in Progressive Avant-Garde Black Metal that’s a triumph of both style and substance.

A good musical starting point of reference would be bands such as Arcturus, Dødheimsgard and Enslaved, as well as aspects of Opeth or Borknagar. This is only a starting point however, as Code definitely have their own sound as well as masses of talent and songwriting skills.

Gleaming, obsidian riffs crash against each other in a sea of percussive paranoia and nightmare orchestration. It’s as if someone has been having fantastical dreams about a dark future and they have sprung fully-shaped into life in the form of this album.

The vocals criss-cross all over the complex music and create the impression of power, synergy and importance. Very impressive and brilliantly realised.

There is so much colour and depth to these songs that most bands sound one-dimensional by comparison. Multi-layered vocals take centre-point while the music is no slouch either, effortlessly conjuring up the impressions and feelings that these songsmiths wish you to experience as you travel with them on this wild journey.

This truly is an exceptional and individual release; the kind of album that keeps Metal alive and kicking; stops it from becoming stale and stagnant.

Favourite Track: Garden Chancery. Vocal harmonies to die for. But really I could pick almost any song – Augur Nox is that strong.

This is for all fans of Metal, or just for those with heavier Progressive proclivities. If there’s only one album you get in the near future then make sure it’s this.

Interview with Gutslit

Gutslit are a brutal, slamming Death Metal from India who have recently released their début album Skewered in the Sewer. This is a top-quality release that I really enjoyed and even made it into the recent Wonderbox Metal Best of 2013 list, so I’m pleased to have had the chance to ask them a few questions.

Hi! How would you introduce your band for people that have never heard of you before?

Gutslit Bassist

Gutslit (Gurdip Narang): Let’s just say, imagine somebody feeding off your pain, torturing you, bleeding you to a level where you go numb and can only see the blood pouring out of your body while the chisel and saw used to amputate your limbs lie coated in blood and tissues. A faint smile on the face of the person who has done it to you. Pleasure and feeling of contentment showing on his horrific, calm yet evil face, already planning his next kill. That feeling there is what Gutslit is all about. The unstoppable force of butchery, torture and pain that will hit you with every riff, the punch in your groin with every drum beat, the haste and momentary pauses between the blows like the bass and the screams and grunts of the pain felt in every vocal note.

When we started out, there was not even a single band from our city that played Grind. Slam wasn’t known to many. Pig squeals were thought of as some processed noise worked out in a studio. Only a few people knew what it was to play with programmed drums on stage. Bands were asked to cover the famous thrash and a few death metal bands. We just picked up our favourite band, Dying Fetus and covered their track “Kill Your Mother Rape Your Dog”. Then there were songs from our EP with the French band, Pulmonary Fibrosis. Having a split with a foreign band was also the first for any Indian extreme metal band. We played an International show with Putrid Pile. That too was the first for any Indian extreme metal band. From then, to now with ‘Skewered in the Sewer’, we’ve just worked harder and harder.

What are your main influences?

Dying Fetus, Disgorge (USA), Brodequin, Inveracity, Coldworker, Defeated Sanity, Devourment, Vulvectomy, Beheaded, Immolation, Vader, Putrid Pile, Cephalotripsy, Condemned, Krisiun, Mumakil, Mindly Rotten and a lot more.

What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?

The new albums by the veterans have blown us away this year. Defeated Sanity, Dying Fetus, Gorguts, Carcass. They all have justified why they deserve the respect through these years. Mindly Rotten, Infernal Revulsion are few bands that one must have in their list for future greats.

This is a great début album – how did you come up with the songs?

Gutslit Singer

All our songs were written by our former guitarist Dynell, drums and bass were worked out later by Aaron and Gurdip respectively and the songs were finalized with the addition of vocals by Aditya. All lyrics were written by Gurdip. Except for one song, “Circumcised with a Chainsaw”. Lyrics and Vocals on that track are done by Mallika Sundaramurthy from Abnormality and Parasitic Extirpation USA.

The songs you have written are not only brutal but really catchy. In my review I compared you to Gorerotted in some ways. Are you familiar with them and do you think it’s a fair comparison?

Yes we are aware of Gorerotted and have heard almost everything that they have released. We were really happy to be compared to them and were quite ecstatic about the same. We even mentioned the same on our social media pages.

Being from India do you feel this has influenced your sound at all?

There was never a relevant band to connect to in India. There were many in other sub genres of extreme metal. There are many that are coming out with good promising material and we are really glad to see professionalism in music.

What is the Indian Metal scene like? Do you feel much connection to it?

Indian Metal scene is as vague as the people. Almost every genre which is known and played abroad finds its place here. Many have even tried and merged Indian classical music with the metal and the results have been quite good.

Gutslit Drummer

What are your plans for the future?

We are working on a 4 way International Split with all the other bands being from Europe and the UK. This should be released before summer of 2014 and before we hit Europe for a few shows and the mighty Obscene Extreme Festival in Czech Republic.

And finally…Do you prefer Chris Barnes or George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher?

As our vocalist Aditya Barve says,”I prefer Chris Barnes for the lyrical madness that he does, but Corpsegrinder is definitely a more powerful vocalist, live and on record!”

Thanks for your time!

Thank you very much brother for this interview!

Lay Down Rotten – Deathspell Catharsis (Review)

Lay Down RottenWhen you have an album cover this awesome the actual music doesn’t matter right? I jest of course but the fact remains that the album cover made me really look forward to listening to this.

So once we get past the album cover what have we got here then? This is the seventh album from Germany’s Lay Down Rotten and they present us with a very solid and competent slab of Death Metal that probably has more to offer than you might think.

Most of the songs are longer than typical Death Metal offerings giving the band the space to pursue all of their ideas to their natural conclusions and therefore delivering an album that is interesting and has some depth to it. There is brutality and hatred in abundance in these songs but there is also more than that. The songs are long and relatively involved, but thanks to the deft songwriting they retain attention and do not get boring.

After so many releases these butchers have refined their chosen method of slaughter and Deathspell Catharsis is surgical in its precision. There are no wasted movements or unnecessary padding, providing state-of-the-art modern Death Metal with a nice melodic bent. The recording is suitably huge as would be expected and shows the band in the best light.

Songs and ability; hatred and precision; harshness and style; Deathspell Catharsis should be experienced loud.

Starsoup – Bazaar of Wonders (Review)

StarsoupRussian band Starsoup play Progressive/Power Metal.

First off it must be noted that the singer can sing. I mean really sing. He has a brilliant voice; powerful and full of passion. Pretty much any band backing him up would need to be on their A-game to avoid letting the side down. We’re safe though as the rest of the band can play. I mean really play. Together both voice and music create the full package that an album like this promises.

The songs are well-written and catchy, with the band being talented enough to be able to explore many different versions of what this type of music and related-genres have to offer. Sometimes we get some Euro-power Metal; sometimes the songs take more of a progressive edge; sometimes we have a more modern Soilwork-style approach; sometimes a ballad; I could go on. Suffice to say that there is plenty of variety in this album while at the same time nothing sounds out of place.

This is the band’s first album but it doesn’t sound like it; this sounds like a highly confident, professional band who have been honing their music for many years and through many albums.

Bazaar of Wonders is a very musical album; the talent on display here is obvious. Multiple instruments are used to make the most of the atmosphere and feelings for each individual song, and even though there are plenty of solos and classical moments, there is no showing off; just the needs of the song to make everything sound as good as possible.

An unexpected pleasure – if this genre tickles your fancy then there is absolutely nothing to not like here. This band deserve to be much, much bigger and could easily fit into the biggest stadiums in Europe given half a chance. Highly recommended.

Lethe – When Dreams Become Nightmares (Review)

LetheFormed by members of Manes and Eluveitie, Lethe play dark and multi-textured experimental music.

Combining the best parts of Rock, Post-Rock, Electronica and Metal to create 10 tracks of emotive songs that instantly capture your attention while also having enough depth to keep you satiated in the long run. Bands such as Ulver, Arcturus and Manes are the obvious starting points and Lethe should definitely appeal to fans of these groups.

The main vocalist is a very talented person. Her vocals are exceptional and she shows great range across the album. She has great character and talent, and infuses both of these into every song to create the right mood for each. The occasional male vocals that swim in and out of the various tracks simply add another dimension to the proceedings.

The music doesn’t let the side down though – each song is crafted to a high standard by experienced personnel who know exactly what to do to achieve the effect that they want. The songs are passionate and dark, with Gothic Rock stamped all over some of them but not in a commercial stadium-friendly way, rather in a more personal way that allows you to have a relationship with the actual songs rather than some stylised version that will eventually become stale due to overexposure and lack of substance. This is female fronted Rock for people that don’t like female fronted Rock.

This is an astoundingly good album that combines catchiness and intellect to produce sophisticated dark Rock. What a fantastic way to start off 2014.

Upyr – Altars/Tunnels (Review)

UpyrThis is the first release from Bulgarian band Upyr.

They play Blackened Doom and do this extremely well. The first track Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma starts with towering slow riffing and alternates this with a more mid-paced attack that evokes murky landscapes and a blackness to get lost in.

Vocals alternate between high shrieks a la Black Metal, and deeper growling and vocalisations. These are quality vocals as the deeper ones sound really menacing and the shrieks, (the predominant style), are savage and as sharp as black ice. Neurosis-style clean vocals are also used sparingly and contribute to the grim whole.

I really like the mood that these songs set for the listener. Although it may describe a bleak and inhospitable environment for the average person, for the connoisseur this is the sweetest of delicacies. The combination of monolithic Doom guitars with a scything Black Metal sheen to them is a dark pleasure to savour.

Taking the blueprint of Doom and infecting it with the corrupting influence of Black Metal is yielding great results for bands like Usnea and Battle Path; now we have another name to add to this glowing list of honors – Upyr.

A top quality first release and may there be many more in the future.

Djinn and Miskatonic – Forever in the Realm (Review)

Djinn and MiskatonicStylish Doom with a real funeral feel; you can almost touch the misery in every sorrowful chord.

Vocals alternate between mournful, doleful cleans and coarser, Old-School Death Metal-style rough barks.

The music is Doom through and through, but quite varied in that it takes elements of Doom’s various sub-genres, (Doom Metal, Sludge, Death Doom, Stoner, etc.), and packages them neatly into 43 minutes. They’re not afraid to unleash a big box of groove now and again either; Book of the Fallen in particular sports a riff to rock out to that any Black Sabbath fan would be happy to hear.

Vulcan’s Forge appears to be all about alcohol; not only does this successfully recreate a really boozy atmosphere but it also boasts a great bass line and sound.

The crowning glory of the album has to be the final song Weird Tales which is a 17 minute enthralling epic. It starts with a lonely bass line that Reverend Bizarre would be proud to have written, and builds up from there; adding drums first and slowly bringing in everything else.

Forever in the Realm makes its mark on the listener in both the short term and the long term. There are parts of these songs that are instantly memorable, and others that seep into your consciousness over time.

As a début album this is certainly an impressive release and one that holds many treasures for even a seasoned Doom fan.

Get drunk and play loud.