The Ritual Aura – Laniakea (Review)

The Ritual AuraThis is the début album from Australian Technical Death Metallers The Ritual Aura.

This is sci-fi themed Death Metal that takes the listener on a brutal and dizzying journey that may only last 26 minutes but is definitely worth the effort.

After an ominous piano intro, the first song Ectoplasm starts and it’s clear we’re in for a world of extreme technicality.

The Ritual Aura excel at combining hyperspeed wizardry with blazing melody and brutal inflections. Elements of bands such as Death and Necrophagist can be heard in their sound, as well as a much more modern style, such as can be found being played by bands like Rings of Saturn, The Faceless and Infant Annihilator.

This is imaginative music that takes its sci-fi theme and creatively incorporates this into the melodies, creating some quite unusual electronica/games-soundtrack-esque sounds that manage to avoid everything that’s usually wrong with bands when they try to do something like this. It sounds like a natural extension of the chaotic-yet-melodic music without sullying it with words like “novel” or “gimmick”.

Although it’s the music that is the central focal point here, the band would not be as enjoyable if they didn’t have vocals. The singer uses surgical growls and unhinged, savage screams. Although not as colourful as the music, (the human voice just isn’t capable), he does a great job of anchoring everything in place and providing a brutal linchpin while the music is off exploring unknown heights and realms. Clean vocals make a very brief appearance on Erased in the Purge, and these are a welcome addition to the mayhem.

Laniakea is short and to the point, resulting in an album that doesn’t outstay its welcome. In fact, I’m more than happy to have this around again to blow the cobwebs off the competition. There’s an energy level and an excitement factor to this music that makes a lot of more generic bands sound quite stale by comparison.

Great stuff. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Telerumination – Telerumination I (Review)

TeleruminationTelerumination are from the US and this is their début release. They play Atmospheric Black Metal.

Purely Ambient/Drone/whatever music doesn’t really do it for me most of the time. Sure there are exceptions; I enjoy bands like Haate and Pogrom, as well as Wolves in the Throne Room’s experimentations. From a non-Black Metal perspective, you also have releases such as those from IIVII and Aires, which I have also taken to quite nicely. For the most part though, it’s not for me.

So, what’s this got to do with Telerumination? Well, over the years it’s occurred to me that one of the main things, (although not the only thing), that is missing from the style is drums. I’m a percussion man. I love drums, beats and everything associated with them. This rather long-winded introduction is essentially a way of saying that Telerumination is, at heart, a Dark Ambient release, only with percussion.

Hmm. Maybe I should have just said that at the start, brevity being the soul of wit, and all that…

Anyway, low-key drums, creepy, understated screams and the odd bit of guitar is added to a strong synth-based core to create music that takes the best of Dark Ambient and, in my mind at least, improves upon it.

One of the brains behind Telerumination is the guy who does Natanas, so in a way you can view this as a less evil, more atmospheric version of his work with his main project. Telerumination does have a restrained malevolence to it, but nothing like the overt nightmare sounds that Natanas fosters so well. If Natanas is a portal into the underworld, a vision of Hell and all damnation, then Telerumination is a mirror that shows what’s behind the suffering; the subtle torments that lie underneath.

This is an oddly relaxing release. I mean, it probably isn’t if you’re just Joe Public and you had to listen to it. God knows what they’d make of it. I imagine it would probably give them nightmares. For us seasoned music fans though, it’s as if a swathe of sentient darkness has been filtered through a lens so that only the finest and most subtle of horrors were allowed through, creating textured explorations of distilled Black Metal that can comfort and amiably disturb those who have the will to succumb to its soothing terror.

This is an impressive collection of music that succeeds in its task of spawning a Blackened Ambience that improves upon the purestrain parent style to become something greater.

Turn off the lights and enter the world of Telerumination.

Christian Mistress – To Your Death (Review)

Christian MistressChristian Mistress are a Heavy Metal band from the US. This is their third album.

Taking influence from Traditional Heavy Metal and 80s NWOBHM, Christian Mistress play easy-listening, Hard-Rocking Classic Metal.

The singer has a smooth, charismatic voice that slips effortlessly out of the earthy music. Her voice carries feeling and depth without lacking in force and power where necessary.

In some ways this album really is like stepping back in time. Quite simply, they don’t make this kind of music any more. Or more precisely, they do, but only rarely as it’s just so hard to pull off in any form of meaningful, authentic way. The fact that Christian Mistress manage to do this well and have good songs at the same time is somewhat of a miracle in this day and age.

The warm, analogue sound, the duelling harmonies, the vibrant, galloping bass, the satisfying-yet-slightly-understated drums, liquid solos…it all speaks volumes for this kind of music, one that sounds both dated and timeless at the same time.

This is a strong collection of eight honest songs that just want to Rock out and unleash the primal Metal soul in the listener. Well, it works, and I’m certainly feeling the need to bang my head and raise my fists.

Recommended.

Never Again – Death Metal Tsunami (Review)

Never AgainNever Again are a Death Metal band from Italy. This is their début EP.

This may be from Italy but here we have Swedish Death Metal, although not quite as we’ve come to expect it. It’s eleven and a half minutes of face-melting fire and revving chainsaws though, regardless.

Usually there’s not a lot to say about this style. Most of the time people either love it or they hate it. I’m always a sucker for the pure version of this type of music, but it’s nice to hear it shaken up a bit on this release, as Never Again have a more modern interpretation of this classic sub-genre than most.

Superficially we have Swedish Death Metal here, although once you look a bit closer there are a few things that mark Never Again as different from a lot of the Swedish clones.

The vocals are a bit raspier and wetter than is the norm, which does provide them with a bit of differentiation, and though the sound does have that chainsaw quality to it, it’s not quite as overtly done as the pure Swedish production style.

The main difference is the guitars; the riffs and melodies have a modern, New-School sheen to them. There’s definitely still a good amount of Old-School, of course, how could there not be? This is mixed with a fresher, newer take on things though, resulting in songs that sound vibrant and reinvigorated. It’s kind of Swedish Death Metal by-way-of Melodic Modern Metal. Don’t let that put you off though, as this means business.

Very promising. I wonder how their sound will develop in the future?

Black Lord – Black Ritual Forest (Review)

Black LordThis is the début album from Black Lord, a Mexican Black Metal band.

After a rather pointless intro that goes on for far too long, we finally get to the meat of the matter as the first song erupts into life. Black Lord play underground, raw Black Metal that’s unfettered from any form of niceness.

The Blackened riffs have a Thrash influence on occasion. As well as using some dark melodies to enhance the songs, they have a loose, primitive style that nonetheless manages to gather the quintessential Black Metal darkness to it like a magnet.

The singer sounds like he’s howling into the abyss, almost independently of the music. Unhinged and maniacal, his performance is unforced and probably quite something to see in the flesh. Screams, growls, moans and chants emanate from the songs while the music charges forward with wild abandon and grim determination.

Black Ritual Forest is an expression of Blackened intent, with the band showing their passion for the style across 36 minutes.

Check them out.

Favourite Track: Spell of Darkness. Speed and rolling thunder propel the song forwards while the singer screams with spectral torment.

Narbeleth – Through Blackness, and Remote Places (Review)

NarbelethThis is the third album from Cuban one-man Black Metal project Narbeleth.

As I said about his second album, A Hatred Manifesto, this is the real deal. Here we have 35 minutes of Underground Black Metal, spreading darkness, disease and terror through all the lands.

Like the second album, this contains seven originals and one cover, (this time by Judas Iscariot).

It’s dark, icy music that sticks to the well-loved Orthodox Black Metal left-hand path and pays homage to the 90’s Scandinavian scene.

The production is sharp and clear, allowing the songs to scythe through the airwaves like a cold blade through flesh.

The songs are enjoyable and never attempt to be anything they’re not. The riffs are good and the guitars frozen in time. It’s a style that’s instantly familiar and comfortable to any fans of the genre, and on Through Blackness, and Remote Places it’s played well and with passion.

This is a release that it’s easy to like; unless you never got into the style or you’re just tired of it, you’ll find plenty to satisfy here.