LÜÜP – Canticles of the Holy Scythe (Review)

LÜÜPLÜÜP is a, (deep breath), Greek one man experimental avant-garde blackened classical band, (phew), and this is his third album.

Canticles of the Holy Scythe features 37 minutes of music that consists of a black metal undercoat, which has then been fully fleshed out and painted with colours from folk, progressive, avant-garde, ambient, and classical music. Continue reading

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At Dusk/Sacerdos – Split (Review)

At Dusk SacerdosAt Dusk and Sacerdos are both black metal bands from the US, with At Dusk being a one-man entity and Sacerdos being a duo.

At Dusk’s contribution to this release is one 15 minute song named Condemned. Continue reading

Balance Interruption – Door 218 (Review)

Balance InterruptionThis is the third album from Ukrainian experimental black metal band Balance Interruption.

All I knew about this band before I listened to them was that they were a black metal band of some description. As such, I was not prepared at all for what I found inside Door 218.

Here we have an album that might not sound as you expect it to upon hearing the black metal tag. Yes, a lot of the familiar elements are present and correct, but there’s a lot of unusual aspects to the music too. Continue reading

Todesstoss – Hirngemeer (Review)

TodesstossThis is the seventh album from German Black Metal band Todesstoss.

At 75 minutes in length this is a long album that only contains 3 tracks. I mention this purely to set the scene for the kind of sprawling, unconventional, Blackened vision that Todesstoss have.

This is Experimental Black Metal that takes the serrated core of Black Metal and adds Electronica, Ambient, Martial, Dark Rock, Avant-Garde and Depressive tendencies to it, creating songs that are unhinged marvels of deranged darkness.

Various instruments and flashes of sound compliment the core instrumentation and the mangled, psychotic vocals punctuate the music like stab wounds. His violent outbursts are quite disturbed and fit the uncompromising music.

Think bands like Bethlehem/Burzum/Deinonychus/Dødheimsgard, only stretched out to the extreme.

There are a lot of themes and moods spread across these tracks and it’s clear that a lot of work and effort has gone into perfecting the meaning and rationale for the existence of every part of this music. To some listeners it may seem as if occasional bits of noise or instruments are randomly inserted here and there, but I suspect that everything is where it is for a reason.

These certainly aren’t songs in the traditional sense, but rather canvasses of sound that are used for exploratory experimentalism by their creators to give voice to what dwells inside them. It’s a fascinating insight into a warped psyche as portrayed via the medium of mutated, corrupted Black Metal.

This is not an album you enjoy in the traditional sense. It’s an album you survive, and then, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, you develop an affinity for the abuse it puts you through and eventually go back to it time and time again for more punishment.

Let your re-education begin.

Manes – Be All End All (Review)

ManesManes are from Norway and this is their fourth album.

Following on from their last release Teeth, Toes and Other Trinkets, which was an anthology, this is the first new Manes album in seven years.

Manes play a beguiling blend of artistic Rock, Darkwave Trip Hop, Avant Garde and 80’s-style Pop. It’s subtle, charming, disarming and insidious.

These songs have a laid back quality to them that’s almost detached from the actual music; as if something has been created by the music that hovers just out of view yet its effects can be felt by a lasting aura of deceptive comfort and false familiarity. This lends the songs a certain flavour of the otherworldly and the different.

There is a low-key catchiness to the tracks as well. Again, it’s a subtle affair, as even though the songs obviously contain hooks the first time you listen to them, it takes multiple listens for them to fully work their magic. Such is the nature of all great albums that have true longevity and depth.

There is so much to experience here. Manes create across a vast canvas using a rich palette of colours. There’s a lot that’s easily missed on first glance and only after taking it in for a good amount of time can you really appreciate what they have done here.

The singer’s captivating vocals are on strong form and the bleak-yet-uplifting-yet-not melodies that he uses complement the instruments perfectly adding layers of emotion to already emotive and layered songs.

This is music for dark nights and even darker activities. This is music that drips with soul and is ethereal in nature.

Fans of bands such as Arcturus, Ulver, Lethe, Dødheimsgard, Green Carnation, In The Woods…, etc. will lap this up, and with good reason.

It’s time to enter the world of Manes.

Orbseven – .ismos. (Review)

OrbsevenOrbseven is a solo project from the US and this is the third album of Experimental Black Metal that the project has unleashed.

This is a combination of electric Black Metal, sleek Post-Black Metal and ambient/avant-garde darkness. It’s an interesting combination and the resulting album is an exploration of state-of-the-art Blackness and atmospheric expression.

Darkened sounds and interesting effects enhance the tracks in a way that’s subtle enough to not steal any thunder from the main driving force of the guitars but has enough impact to be noticeable.

The songs are propelled by Blackened melodies and experimental sound structures, but there’s also enough Post-Black Metal wanderings to allow the room for shades of both light and dark. They’re well written, have great dynamics and are potent affairs.

.ismos. fosters an atmosphere that’s vaguely mechanistic but overtly malevolent and mysterious. Everything about this album from the music itself to the album cover deals in these mysteries and although there are no answers forthcoming the search for them is what’s important.

The vocals are a curious and varied affair. Multiple styles collide as spoken/distorted words, barely audible pseudo-ethereal sounds and subtle cleans all appear at various times during the tracks.

If you think along the lines of Dødheimsgard, Aborym, Red Harvest and Arcturus then you’ll have a good idea of the basic building blocks of the Orbseven sound. There’s even a couple of riffs here and there that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mastodon album.

Orbseven is a creative and novel approach to what Black Metal should sound like in 2014. Taking the basic Black Metal template and building/distorting it is common enough, but the always interesting thing is where the band ends up once they have done this. In the case of Orbseven we end up with Experimental/Post-Black Metal that rolls smoothly out of the speakers.

A great effort – show your support.

ART 238 – Atavism (Review)

ART 238ART 238 are from France and play Industrial Extreme Metal. This is their latest EP.

Here we have three tracks lasting almost 22 minutes in total that showcase the band’s harsh blend of Industrial sounds and Death/Black Metal know-how.

Usually when bands attempt to merge these two genres the result is some half-hearted Death Metal with keyboards on top. ART 238 don’t fall into this trap, as the Extreme Metal they play is actually extreme, and the Industrial influences seem coded into the band’s make-up at the genetic level and then hybridised with cybernetics to create this fascinating beast.

ART 238 manage to merge ultra-brutal blast beats with more atmospheric Industrial workouts in a way that recalls Aborym if they had gone the Death Metal route rather than the Black Metal one.

Another thing I really like about this EP is that the songs take the time to explore their surroundings, like they’re genuinely trying to find the best fit for their various component parts. In a feat of ingenuity the band manage to work with both sides of their sound expertly and incorporate them into an Industrial Extreme Metal whole.

It’s a musical framework that not many bands try, as most that do usually sound weak, incoherent or like some 80’s synth parody. ART 238 sidestep all of this by going straight for the jugular with their creative brand of urban Metal.

For fans of and mixing influences from – Aborym, Mithras, Red Harvest, Axis of Perdition, Blut Aus Nord, Ministry, DødheimsgardKekal, Invertia, etc.

Highly enjoyable and highly recommended. This is the sound of a mechanised apocalypse.

Abbey ov Thelema – Liber DCLXVI (Review)

Abbey ov ThelemaAbbey ov Thelema are from Slovakia and this is their second album.

They play experimental, avant garde Black Metal. Highly orchestrated and complex, this is ambitious and bold as only the best Black Metal can be. Although saying that, Black Metal may be the underpinning starting point but it’s mutated and morphed far from it’s original format.

The tracks can be both chaotic and coherent; energetic and subdued; eclectic and considered. Sometimes it sounds as if The Dillinger Escape Plan had been consumed by Ebony Lake with Arcturus and Dødheimsgard overseeing proceedings.

There is clearly a lot of high class musicianship at play here, with everything arranged to exacting standards to create a whirling maelstrom of conflicting soundscapes that approach like furious waves and lash at the listener, never letting them rest or prepare for what comes next; the moment one onslaught of musical might crashes by the next tsunami of sound is about to hit.

It’s not all about the, (barely), controlled chaos of course, they also have calmer moments. These lulls act like buffers between the oncoming storms that they irregularly unleash.

This is not a band that will appeal to lovers of standard song structures and musical rules, but people who are looking for something a bit more adventurous should definitely check this out.

Ultimately this is a very hard album to describe as mere words don’t adequately do it justice. Abbey ov Thelema create a sort of demented majesty that really needs to be heard to fully appreciate what they’re about.

So strap yourself in, don the safety goggles, brace yourself and play at top volume.

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.