Uboa – Coma Wall (Review)

UboaUboa is a solo Doom artist from Australia and this is his latest release, which comprises one track that lasts almost 23 minutes.

Holy shit. Okay, that could be my entire review, really. Holy. Shit.

I suppose I should write a bit more though, here goes.

So, it starts off with a sample, some feedback and some slowly-added in noises. Immediately an unsettling atmosphere is created which is maintained throughout in one form or another. Shudder.

Then, all of a sudden, it’s as if all Hell’s daemons are unleashed, as twisted pain-filled screams and maniacal percussion are unleashed on you in a barrage of chaotic frenzy. It’s not pretty, but it certainly is engaging.

Coming across as a depraved mix of Atomsmasher, Khanate and Venowl, Uboa effectively spends these 23 minutes creating a horror-filled semi-organic nightmarescape that defies conventional music in favour of pure mood and feeling, seemingly dredged up from the abyss.

Birthed raw as a twisted combination of sparse Doom and eclectic noise, this is surprisingly enjoyable music, although I suppose I should point out that to most people neither the words enjoyable nor music would seem to apply here. Their loss. This wall of anguished sound hits the right spot with me, and that’s all that matters.

There’s a tense undercurrent to all of this that I find quite tasty; I always like music that uses tension well and on Coma Wall there’s no let up until the final dying sounds have disappeared into oblivion. During the latter part of the track the mayhem subsides, but the tension does not, and just when you think it’s settling slowly into a dying ambience, it gets heavy, sludgy and apocalyptic.

Phew! Very nice. Or nasty. Whatever. Either way, after 23 minutes I’m raring to go and listen to this again.

For true Doom/Noise connoisseurs only; check this one out if you dare.

Burial – Unholy Sedition (Review)

BurialThis is the second album from Black Metal band Burial, who are from the UK.

Burial play raw Black Metal with speed and malice.

Pure venom seems to seep out of every corrupted pore as the band aggressively attack the material with the fervour of the fanatic. The guitars have a very pleasing tone and have that razor-like quality that suits Black Metal so well.

The songs don’t outstay their welcome, and the entire release blurs by in 31 minutes of dark, angry malevolence.

The brutality of the music is threaded through with bands of melody that add a bit of depth to the attack. Some Darkthrone-esque groove is introduced when the band slow the pace a little, and these parts are just as good a listen as their faster brethren.

Throughout the album it’s clear that Burial know how to shape and channel these kind of grim incantations, and the songs are a very enjoyable listen.

Vocally we get traditional blackened screaming which hits the spot nicely, but in addition to this there are also deep growls which are very satisfyingly performed, sounding, as they do, pitch black and evil.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Have a listen and see if they do it for you.

Exumer – The Raging Tides (Review)

ExumerThis is the fourth album from these German Thrash Metal veterans.

With a crisp, punchy and professional sound, Exumer return with another album chock full of Thrash Metal anthems.

The songs are well-written and both catchy and memorable. The old-school Thrash vibe is present and correct, but the production and delivery is quite modern, resulting in an album that manages to tread different eras with ease, which is no mean feat.

The band sound focused and tight, intent on delivering a flurry of riffs and pounding drums strong enough to get even the most jaded of Metal fans moving.

I particularly enjoy the guitars on this release; Exumer have a talent for writing good riffs. I also like that the vast majority of these riffs sound energised and perfectly judged; a lot of old-school Thrash can easily sound stale and done-to-death, but Exumer seem to have the secret, (whatever that is), to producing songs that just hit the right spot.

Frequent solos accompany the cutting riffs and the singer’s vocals use good rhythms and pacing.

The Raging Tides is criminally enjoyable and I haven’t been this enthusiastic and excited by Thrash Metal for some time. For an album full of ripping Metal tunes you should look no further.

Bustum – Demonolosophy (Review)

BustumBustum are a Croatian Black Metal band and this is their début album.

Bustum play their Black Metal raw and traditional, fuelled by the second wave and filled with Satanic might.

The vocals are harsh shrieks, performed in the classic style. The singer also uses deeper growls here and there, which is less expected and a welcome addition to the general violence and misanthropy on Demonolosophy.

The songs slice, cut and lacerate with frozen blades and seething malevolence. Dark, blackened melodies seem to writhe just below the surface and add depth to the band’s musical endeavours.

The songs are simple, underground hymns to dark forces that carry themselves well and provide for a quite enjoyable 33 minutes. It’s a well-written album and included in these tracks are some nice riffs with enough sections that show they’re capable of more than just hate-filled speed; they display a good grasp of pacing and compositional structure on these songs too.

I enjoyed this. If you like Black Metal then I’m sure you will too. Check it out.

Valgrind – Speech of the Flame (Review)

ValgrindThis is the second album from this Italian Death Metal band.

This is USDM-style destruction, influenced by the Florida scene from back in the day. This 90s fixation serves them well and Speech of the Flame offers up 44 minutes of solid Death Metal.

Blasting drums and rhythmic beats are backed up by a nicely heavy and dark production that allows them to get the most from their chosen implements of assault; there’s no shortage of speed on this album and the band wield this like a weapon. It’s not all high-velocity though and the band lay off the accelerator enough so that although they’re almost always playing fast, it’s not all complete blasting mayhem.

The guitars have a nice tone to them and there’s some good solos and leads included. These are used to create little pockets of more emotive and atmospheric sections among the carnage of the rest of the music.

The singer’s voice is gruff and clipped just enough to make him sound quite aggressive, providing a decent performance and accompanying the music in a most satisfying manner.

The songs channel the likes of Deicide and Morbid Angel, paying homage to what came before and continuing the legacy of their spiritual predecessors.

If you have a yearning for the particular era of Death Metal history that Valgrind espouse then you’ll probably get along with Speech of the Flame very well indeed.

Have a listen and see what you think.

Interview with Krigsgrav

Krigsgrav Logo

Krigsgrav’s fourth album Waves of Degradation has stuck out in my mind as one of the more memorable releases I’ve listened to of late. Its harrowing atmosphere of hopelessness and pain made an indelible mark on my psyche and I keep returning to it again and again. Thankfully, I was able to share some words with Justin from the band, who gave me some more background to Krigsgrav and their superlative new album…

For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

My name is J. Coleman, I play guitar and provide vocals for the band Krigsgrav and Heimar.

Give us a bit of background to Krigsgrav

Krigsgrav was a solo project started by David Sikora in 2004 in Keller, Texas. I say solo project in the sense that he was the main person performing all the instruments, but he did use session vocalists until I came into the fold. He founded the band as an homage to the second wave of Norwegian/Swedish black metal, so the older material (‘As darkness falls above’ demo, ‘Arcana Imperil’ ep) sound more like Gorgoroth, Darkthrone and Carpathian Forest. He started to change the sound dynamic with the ‘Leviathan Crown’ (self released in 2010) and integrated more epic song lengths and sorrowful melodies. the next year with Lux Capta Est, he created an album that really came to be what I consider the foundation for the Krigsgrav sound.

David, Corey (guitars) and I played in a band prior to Krigsgrav, so we knew each other that way. As we were friends, we would share our musical ideas and projects with one another. David showed me LCE and I thought it was great. After hearing LCE I knew I wanted to be a part of Krigsgrav in some way. David, Corey and I had a few conversations about taking the ground work laid with LCE and making a fully functional band, which obviously happened. Initially the idea was to just rehearse and try the material out live and see what happens. Well, we kept coming up with new material at rehearsals, met Wes (bass) who fit right in, and we continued to fine tune ideas which became ‘The Carrion Fields’. After that album was released via Naturmacht Productions, we kept up momentum playing live, writing material and here we are today with another new album, ‘Waves of Degradation’, to be released April 1st via Bindrune.

What are your influences?

I can say nature, life and death are influences for all of us in the band. As cliché as it sounds, the band is heavily influenced by nature above all else, be it’s beauty or wrath and man kinds existence with in it. When I write lyrics they generally revolve around my perspective on existence and how fucked up we are as a species. Basically how we are plague to our planet. I’m not an ‘eco warrior’ in any regard, but that’s how I view the world, so to me that is more realistic than writing about religion, politics, occult, as those hold no bearing on my life. I live in the real world where gods don’t exist and men are the real beasts and life comes and goes. I find man’s constant need to find out ‘why’ and to know the divine truths boring. So I write about reality.

Musically, old ‘classic’ stuff, like Dissection, Woods of Ypres, Type O Negative, Bathory, Necrophobic, Mayhem, etc.

What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Nightfell. They are on 20 Buck Spin currently. I absolutely love their releases thus far, they combine elements of second generation black metal and old British doom metal (old Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride). Really good stuff.

How do you feel that you fit into the wider Extreme Metal scene?

I have no idea and I don’t care. When we play live usually we stick out because we don’t sound like too many bands, especially in the Southern U.S., so I couldn’t say know how we fit overall, but our sound fits more with black metal than anything else, but that’s not all Krigsgrav is as a band, it’s just one aspect since you have 4 unique personalities all in one band. We just create what we like and that will never change. Scene acceptance where and how we fit among the myriad of metal bands is something I don’t worry about.

Krigsgrav Band

Give us a bit of background to Waves of Degradation – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?

The concept of the album is very direct – our eventual eradication as a species and the nature moving on with out us (humans). Basically, the dark path mankind is voluntarily taking today influenced me to write lyrics in this direction and then as a band we discussed creating a cohesive overall ‘darker’ mood for the music to fit the theme/lyrics of the subject matter. Some films like “The Road” (the sample at the beginning of “As Color Fades..”, the book is written by Cormac McCarthy) and writings by Hemingway, Hesse, Irvin Welsh, helped me to expand the aesthetic of the album as well. I feel like having a direction like this to work in help achieve a clearer end result. So we set to work with those ideas/themes and after a while came out with what you have as the finished album and we couldn’t be happier with its misery.

Tell us about the album artwork

The album cover art was created by Nate Burns, who had also designed art in the past for one of our shirts. He does great work at reasonable prices. Check out revolting worship.tumblr.com. The rest of the interior art work was pieced together by Marty of Bindrune and us working together, the nature pictures were taken by Dora Alvarez.

How do you go about writing your songs?

I live about 3 hours south of the other guys, who are located in North Texas, so for me I usually come up with ideas on my own and send the others my ideas via e-mail, text, etc. and we’ll just shoot files back and forth until a song is complete. Some times we’ll meet up at one of our homes and rehearse what we’ve completed or are working to see how it really sounds and works organically. For this album David, Corey, and Wes wrote a lot together and would send me their ideas and I would add my contributions and we would just go back and forth. We were very tough on making sure we kept the absolute best material for this album and many ideas were scrapped in the end. Luckily we’re adults and can give each other constructive criticism so the whole process is very democratic. We won’t finalize a song until we’re all pleased with it, same goes for the lyrics. We all stand behind every aspect of what we make with Krigsgrav.

How did the recording process go?

It was a somewhat lengthy process, but it worked out well. David recorded his drums first with our sound engineer, JT Longoria. He sent us the raw tracks which we rehearsed on our own time to, then we came up to David’s home where over the course of a month or so we recorded all guitars and bass. When it was time to record vocals, David brought his recording gear my my house and we completed the vocals, then we added all the extra bits like violins (performed by JT) and female vocals performed by Katrin of Awen, samples, and keyboards. I do want to note we were fortunate to have The Watcher from Fen contribute an excellent vocal performance to the end of “Under Trembling Stars”, so that was great as we are all big fans of Fen. After that it was all sent off to be mixed and mastered by David and JT. Since David does most of the recording we don’t really have too many time restrictions and were able to stretch recording it out over the last half of 2015. All in all it was as stress free as the recording process can go.

I like that the bass is audible and makes a good contribution. Was this a conscious decision or just something that occurred naturally?

It was totally conscious. Wes is probably the most talented musician of the band, and it would be a complete crime to let his bass lines go unnoticed. Also, I’m a huge fan of Simon Gallup from The Cure, so I wanted more moving bass lines like his, and Wes delivered. Glad you noticed!

What’s your favourite song on the album and why?

This changes depending on my mood. I think the album is best heard start to finish, and once I usually start playing it I’ll listen to the entire thing, but if I have to pick I’d say right now it’s “Son of the Stones”. I love the diversity of the music and how the song progresses, it has what I consider some of our best moments on this track, plus the last lyrics sum up the entire album perfectly in my opinion: ’graven silence, for a world of tombs’. We’re all dead in the end.

What does the future hold for Krigsgrav?

Our tour with Giant of the Mountain starts in April, so many shows in April and a few select shows to round out 2016, a vinyl release of Waves of Degradation and the writing of an acoustic release to be released in the future.

Abyssic – A Winter’s Tale (Review)

AbyssicThis is the début album from Norwegian Symphonic Doom/Death band Abyssic.

Well this is an absolute monster of an album. At 79 minutes in length and featuring just four tracks, Abyssic certainly know how to provide the listener with a lot to get their teeth into.

A decent stylistic reference point for Abyssic would initially be the old Peaceville roster, with bands like Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost all providing an idea of what the base of the band is like. Only longer and more epic, of course. Once you have this in your mind’s eye, mix in some more modern, epic funeral Doom from the likes of Monolithe, as well as a sterling Classical influence, and you’ll have a good idea of what Abyssic are getting up to here.

The symphonic aspects of Abyssic’s sound are big, bold and unashamedly impressive. Abyssic don’t hold back, and nor should they. This is a band that manage to incorporate the symphonic and Classical elements into their sound in a holistic and complete way, rather than having them just added on at the end. The music easily takes on a cinematic legendary feel and each of these long songs feels like a story. Nay, a saga.

A Winter’s Tale benefits from a huge and lavish production that allows all of the different parts of their repertoire to sound clear and crushing. Thick guitars and textured keyboards merge together with the crushing drums to provide the listener with a very engaging and absorbing listen. The songs may be long, but if you have the time to spare for them then there is so much here to enjoy.

For the most part the vocals are deep, dark growls, of the kind that are pretty much standard for Death/Doom. That’s not to say they’re not effective or don’t do their job though.

Long they may be, but these songs justify their own existence by being so damn impressive and well-put together. The band know their stuff, that’s for sure. Amazingly, given the length, these tracks don’t get boring and the lavish, lush orchestration is a constant joy to listen to, especially when combined with the heaviness of the guitars.

This atmospheric album really nails the best parts of the Death/Doom style for me, and the overwrought symphonic elements are just candy to my ears, pulling the whole thing up to another level.

Very highly recommended.

Crisix – From Blue to Black (Review)

CrisixCrisix are a Spanish Thrash Metal band and this is their third album.

This is an endearing mixture of old-school Thrash and modern know-how. It’s fun without being stupid and authentic without being retro nonsense. I approve!

The album boasts a strong production that’s crisp and clear, lending the songs a sharp edge and professional veneer.

The singer grunts, groans, shrieks and screams his throat hoarse throughout these 39 minutes. Alongside a plethora of backing and gang vocals, he provides an energetic performance and one can’t help but wonder if he survived the recording process with his sanity intact.

As would be expected from the style, solos and leads are tossed around like they’re going out of fashion, alongside so many punchy riffs you could knock someone out with them. With some minor movie and Hardcore influences too, there’s a lot of catchy material here.

There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had on From Blue to Black, especially if you like early Anthrax and Pantera and always wondered what it might sound like if they collaborated on a Thrash Metal sideband. It probably wouldn’t sound too far off how this does.

Very enjoyable. Check this out.

Echoes of the Moon – Entropy (Review)

Echoes of the MoonThis is the second album from this one-man US atmospheric Post-Black Metal band.

This has a rich, warm sound, making it clear very early on that Entropy is all about the emotive content and taking the listener on a journey.

High-pitched near-static screams are employed to provide a focal point for the colourful music. I favour this brand of ultra-shrieked screams for this kind of extremely atmospheric Black Metal, so was not disappointed to hear them when they first appeared. Deep growls also appear here and there; these are unexpected but work well alongside the mellifluous music.

These songs have a good grasp of mood and feeling, effortlessly played out across long tracks and glorious soundscapes. This can be essentially seen as one 72 minute piece of music broken up into smaller slices, but however you look at it it’s an extremely effective work.

Featuring elements of psychedelic, progressive and depressive Black Metal, this is very atmospheric and richly textured. Resplendent melodies, extended guitar solos and understated synths all enhance the flavour of the emotive riffs and Entropy is an album to be savoured and enjoyed in its entirety.

I’m very impressed by this, and it’s criminal that this will effectively get no real exposure other than a few lucky people that stumble upon it; it really is that good.