Primitive Man/Hexis – Split (Review)

Primitive Man/HexisPrimitive Man are from the US and play Sludgy Doom. On this release they have teamed up with Danish Crusty Black Metallers Hexis. Each band contributes one song, each about 8 minutes in length.

This is my first time hearing Primitive Man, but I’ve heard good things about them and am not disappointed.

When Getting High Is Not Enough starts off crushingly slow and heavy with vocals so deep and dark they seem to swallow all light. After a while the bass adopts a crawling pose while the guitars transcend to an almost Post-Metal ethereality before falling back to earth with a weighty riff. This soon breaks out into an unexpected frenzy of speed and the vocals become higher and much more vicious.

The band have this ability to play slow, fast or chuggy-as-hell while still retaining their own identity and a sense of filthy, Sludge-fuelled blackness pervades everything. The song is a victory and I am left wanting to hear more from this impressive band.

Hexis are a band who I am very familiar with as they have produced some very strong material over the years, particularly their recent full length Abalam.

Their track Excrucio is a weighty beast that has their trademark Blackened guitar walls with shredding vocals seemingly buried just underneath the enormous tide of distortion. Hexis manage to write very emotive songs where the guitars are the main stars of the show and the vocals and everything else are their to support them and help to accentuate how rock solid they sound.

Hexis have struck a winning formula with their sound and Excrucio is no exception.

This is a great showcase for two talented bands that offer a lot for the discerning metal fan who wants something a bit more from their listening.

Black Anvil – Hail Death (Review)

Black AnvilBlack Anvil are from the US and this is their third album of Black Metal.

As the first song Still Reborn slowly unfolds you know you’re in for a treat. There is a Thrash influence to the band that allows their songs to have somewhat of an epic feel to them rather akin to classic Metallica; cross this with an expansive Black Metal feeling the likes of which Enslaved create, (minus Viking influences), and give this whole idea a frozen Black Metal makeover and you’ve an idea of where Black Anvil are coming from.

Initial impressions? …And Justice For All being slowly eaten by Mardraum – Beyond the Within. High praise indeed.

And some of these riffs! Dear me. Excuse me while I have a sit down and compose myself. The band have obviously hit their stride with this album; each song is a powerful collection of riffs, solos, ideas, emotive passages and pulse-raising sections. The overall song is never sacrificed for any of these though, and each track is a delight.

The main vocals are Black Metal screams done in an Enslaved style, while additional vocals consist of everything from gang shouts to mystical cleans.

At over an hour and eleven minutes of music this never gets old or stale; Black Anvil have a lot to offer the listener and it’s easy to get sucked into their world.

A warm, organic production complements the songs and allows them to get under your skin and into your brain. There’s something particularly satisfying about the drum sound especially.

This is an exceptional album written by people who appear to be channelling the essential essence of Metal. This album deserves to be in your collection.

Black Anvil are just too good!

Narbeleth – A Hatred Manifesto (Review)

NarbelethThis is the second album from Cuban Black Metal band Narbeleth.

This is the real deal – proper underground Black Metal come to terrorize and destroy all you hold dear.

At just over 30 minutes in length it doesn’t mess around; 7 original hymns and a Urgehal cover.

A glance at the song titles and you know what you’re getting. There’s not much mistaking a band with a song called Posercorpse.

But what about the music? It’s Blacker than Black with a better recording than you might expect, which lends the songs an air of freedom to breathe in their skins. A satisfying snare sound and a cold but vital guitar tone seals the deal.

The band play plenty of blast beats but also slow down when necessary to foster an icy, unholy air with twisting melodics; Land of the Heathen being a good example, especially as it unexpectedly features clean vocals. But then Narbeleth likes to throw in the odd unexpected move here and there; such as the guitar solo in Nihilistic Propaganda.

This is exactly what you want from Black Metal.

Wrong – Pessimistic Outcomes (Review)

WrongWrong are a Black Metal band from Spain and this is their second album.

Created by two people; one from a Thrash Metal background and one from a Technical Death Metal background. From these unlikely roots an album has grown which is surprising in that it is both the epitome of what is meant to be but also pleasingly fresh and full of morbid life.

Wrong play creepy, fragile, melancholic Black Metal with a depressive/nihilistic edge akin to some of the work by Xasthur and Leviathan only not quite as minimalistic and with more of a Paradise Lost/Katatonia/etc. influence to some of the Doomier riffs; think Forgotten Tomb for some of the parts in fact.

The songs are long compositions and have many different facets to their delivery, from fast and sharp to slow and misery-laden. It’s an approach that serves them well.

The sound is suitably fuzzy and Blackened but it has a solid backbone of precise, focused drumming that grounds the band no matter what they’re playing.

Wrong take you on a Blackened nihilistic journey through the underworld, tastefully underscored by some subtle riffing and even subtler effects that hide underneath the torrent of darkness and the pounding drums.

Pessimistic Outcomes takes me back to prime-time 00’s underground Black Metal and all the associated feelings it has for me. This is a great album full of bleak melodics and nuanced moments propelled forwards by some powerful drumming, expressive riffing and scathing, slicing vocal emanations.

If you only have a choice of one album full of emotive Black Metal this month then make it Wrong.

Interview with Dead in the Manger

Dead in the Manger Logo

The mysterious collective that is Dead in the Manger have unleashed something special on the world with Transience. We tried to pierce the veil of secrecy…

Tell us a bit about Dead in the Manger

DITM is a collaboration of people who aim to create a feeling of unease, aggression and sadness through various elements of sound.

I understand you anonymity is important to you as individuals – discuss

Who we are or anything else we are associated with is not important. We just want the music to speak for itself.

Dead in the Manger 1What are your influences?

Sadness, depression, suicide.

You have an unusual juxtaposition of Funeral/Depressive Black Metal and Blackened Grindcore – how intentional was this or was it more of a natural occurrence?

We are just writing what comes natural. We want to portray how we actually feel, in an aggressive manner.

We didn’t intend on necessarily fitting in with any particular genre.

Will you continue to develop your songs in this style in the future or do foresee something different for Dead in the Manger?

I don’t believe it would truly be DITM without these elements. We are writing these songs out of pure negative emotion, so without that, there would be no DITM.

Where do Dead in the Manger go from here?

It’s hard to say what the future holds, but as long as the negative creativity is there, we will continue writing music.

There *might* be even the possibility of some select live shows if the offer and setting is right, but I can’t make any guarantees.

Dead in the Manger 2

0 – Simplifying a Demon (Review)

00 is a Greek one-man experimental Black/Doom Metal project. The aim is to see “how far one man with one voice and a four string bass can go”.

So what do we get? There are 7 tracks and just under 35 minutes of music on this release. As is expected it’s ultra-minimalistic stuff, but surprisingly there actually is more going on here than you might be expecting.

An obvious reference point would be the minimalistic bleak Doom landscapes created by Khanate. 0 don’t have anywhere near the same length in songs though, and if anything 0 are even more minimal as Khanate employed a full band of musicians with various other instruments and sounds rearing their ugly heads in their work. It’s a good starting point for what 0 sound like however, and obviously there’s more of a Black Metal feel to the tracks here as well.

The Blackened Drone displayed on Simplifying a Demon is really well done; at first it may be slightly jarring listening to just bass and shrieking, but you very soon get into the zone and slowly the atmosphere overtakes you and you just start sinking into the riffs and the dirge.

The vocals are a revelation in some ways – unexpectedly rhythmic and, almost, catchy. The pronounced accent to the words works strange wonders with the measured incantations and they seem to pulse with an inner malevolence that has an innate feel for timing and pace.

As time goes on I find this more and more endearing and enjoyable. It really is the very definition of a record that grows on you. Of course I’m aware that it will also be somewhat of an acquired taste for most people, but I enjoy this more than I thought I would so maybe you will to?

Give 0 a listen – you may surprise yourself.

Obsequiae – Suspended in the Brume of Eos (Review)

ObsequiaeObsequiae are from the US and play melodic Black Metal.

This is dark and atmospheric Black Metal with a strong medieval feel and influence to the melodies. Said melodies are thick and emotive, swallowing the listener and transporting them to another century.

Frequent interludes intersperse the songs, adding to the medieval theme of the album. These mini sagas add great feeling to an album already awash with melodic entreaties.

The rasped Black Metal vocals seem to glide out of the layered guitars, piercing the tuneful riffs with a harsh reality check before they quickly recover like nothing happened and it’s back in time we go once more. Not that they had Metal back in ye olde times of course, but if they had…

Imagine Dissection had they embraced the aforementioned medieval influence, this should give you a good idea of where Obsequiae are coming from.

The sound seems to flow organically and the riffs are like liquid nature distilled to their Blackest essence and allowed to root deep in the mind of the listener.

Obsequiae grow there, in the dark, quietly taking shape until they cannot be removed. Listen to Obsequiae and one day you’ll know what I mean.

Despot – Satan in the Death Row (Review)

DespotDespot come from Brazil and play Black Metal.

This is Old-School Black Metal with a distinct streak of personality and individuality about it. The core is of the 80’s/early 90’s Black Metal fused with an unusual album art/band logo and with added musical flourishes such as a few more modern moments and unexpected guitar solos/leads.

Subtle keyboard embellishments haunt the tracks like a ghost of forbidden memory just playing around the edges of perception. It’s almost like it’s not there, but you can definitely sense something on the outskirts of hearing.

The riffs are interesting and inventive and the general structure of the songs is an impressive homage to all things dark Metal. The band use melody well and manage to infuse the tracks with a sense of wonder and awe in addition to the usual Black Metal trappings.

Not content with this there are some Celtic Frost influences at play here as well as a bit of a Death/Morbid Angel-inspired Death Metal influence on occasion. They even flirt with some almost sci-fi touches now and then.

The songs are ambitious and as the above description shows they are not afraid to throw different influences into the blender. It all works.

The same is true of the vocals; although primarily an Old-School Black Metal croak there are also deeper grunts and cleaner utterances as well as shouting and chanting.

The sound is authentically Old-School and could in fact be some long-lost gem from decades ago.

This is a top-of-the-line Metal album with lots to draw the listener in and keep them enraptured. This is one Despot to be listened to attentively.

Norse – Pest (Review)

NorseNorse come from Australia and play Technical Black Metal.

Their latest EP is 6 tracks and 26 minutes in length; a decent amount to get your teeth into.

From the onset they’re striking with a bold sound and unusual riffing. Encoded Weakness is atypical Black Metal with interesting riffs stopping, starting, squealing and blasting. The vocals are snarled growls of Blackened hatred.

The rest of the songs follow in a similar pattern – it’s Black Metal but played in an unusual way that gives a very fresh interpretation of the genre, whilst still remaining recognisable as Black Metal. Irradiator is a great example – the riffs slide and slither over each other in serpentine ways delivering a refreshing listening experience.

The band have an excellent grasp of dynamics, songwriting and riff-construction. This, combined with flawless delivery and a strong, oily, sinuous production mean this EP is a real treat.

Highly talented. Australia once more proves it is a leader in the Metal scene when it comes to producing innovative and interesting Metal.

Enbilulugugal – Noizemongers For Goatserpent

EnbilulugagalComing from the US this is Black Metal Noise of the darkest and filthiest order.

This is so not for most people it’s almost funny. Even the majority of hardened Extreme Metal fans would balk at this.

This is a compilation of sorts – we get their 2004 album Noizemongers For Goatserpent, a remix/reinterpretation version of the same from 2010 and a whole host of smaller harder-to-find releases tacked on to the end. All in all there are 79 tracks and 2.5 hours of music. Yes, that’s right. Read it again. 2.5 hours of music. And it’s not easy listening music I can tell you.

Enbilulugugal fuse the most twisted, mutated Black Metal with the harshest of Noise to create a perfect fusion of the two that’s nigh on unlistenable unless you’re in a certain mood or just want to punish yourself. This is the sound of nightmares made urban where the remorseless decay of society is mechanised and abused.

To judge a release such as this as good or bad is missing the point in some ways. It’s more of an experience, or even an endurance test, than any form of pleasurable listening as most people would recognise it.

Upon first playing this it took me a couple of minutes to acclimatise to what I was hearing and adjust myself internally to this new way of existing where I was being constantly buffeted by the capricious whims of noise terrorists via short, rusted aural jabs to the mind. They must have altered my brain chemistry somehow though because after a while I became inured to it all and started to find it strangely endearing.

When you exist in a perpetual state of torment is it common to miss it when it’s gone?

I very much doubt that you have the fortitude to survive this release intact. It is expressly designed to push people away so that only the worthy are left. For the vast majority of people this is simply not music and not worth the time to listen to. For the remaining few, this is Enbilulugugal.