Leviathan – Scar Sighted (2015)

Leviathan - Scar Sighted (2015)
Review by Corey M

USBM (United States Black Metal) as a term encompasses such varying sounds as the primal war chants of Von, the uncompromisingly precise assault of Averse Sefira, and the operatic mewling of Weakling. Scar Sighted, Leviathan’s newest release, is still USBM but typically is categorized by fans as “depressive suicidal black metal,” along the stylistic lines of Sweden’s Shining and fellow American Xasthur.

Unlike the epic and powerful surge of teeth-clenching energy that one feels from black metal ne plus ultra like Sacramentum, Immortal, or Darkthrone, Leviathan’s music is more about… who knows? Something relatively vague but generally negative, self-loathing, and frankly boring. Take this line of lyric; “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” This line seems assertive and confident; you may wonder what meaning this cryptic passage may hold. And wonder you shall, forever, because placing it in the context of the rest of the song does not reveal any clearer meaning. There is no point other than the expression of narrow-sighted negativity. This is the unifying theme of Scar Sighted; a gross misdirection of self-contempt projected toward any and all things outside the self, with uninformed “occultic” references mixed in for good measure.

My contention with Scar Sighted is not just with the lyrics, though. The composition of each song reflects the fragmentation apparent in the lyrics, throwing out one cool-sounding line after another, but leaving the observant listener with a stark sense of having witnessed a slide show of barely-related images. Melodies come and go with nary a whimper as the listener gets deeper into each song. Certainly, a lot of blustery riffs throughout the album got me excited and interested in hearing where the music would lead me next. But that makes the album all the more disappointing, as one song can throw a series of two or three engaging riffs at you and then switch tracks completely and strand you amidst a wash of dissonant non-melody that, rather than moving the song forward, just wallows within its own two-or-three chord cycle that doesn’t relate to any other part of the song.

To Wrest’s credit, a lot of the riffs are very cool, and he has a refined sense of how long a riff can be exploited before it becomes too boring for repetition. Sometimes, he makes the right choice and heads into a complimentary riff to accentuate the previous one. However, more often than not, the last riff is shrugged off and a whole new feeling is admitted, complete with a disparate drum beat, a new scale, and, too often, a new vocal style. Wrest has a very intense low-end growl that synergizes with the grimy, slimy, bass-heavy sound that is wonderfully mixed on this album. Wrest is clearly a craftsman that takes his work seriously and not a lazy writer. However, the result of his work is an incoherent collection of songs, some of which sound like they could come from a post-hardcore band on Level Plane in the early 2000s. With that in mind, Scar Sighted wouldn’t be a bad album by any means if it weren’t marketed as black metal. But when contrasted with the standards of black metal and the techniques employed by the best bands, we find that the intensely personally-focused introspective meanderings of Leviathan fall apart.

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Demoncy signs to Nuclear War Now! Productions

A promotional picture from Demoncy
Demoncy is another one of the site’s favorites, at least if the old Dark Legions Archives are to be believed. After rerecording Empire of the Fallen Angel two years ago, their decision to join up with Nuclear War Now! Productions may end up bringing them some extra exposure for their various projects. So far, NWN appears to be assisting with three major tasks. First, Demoncy is working on a new studio album – Ascension of a Star Long Fallen‘s release date has yet to be confirmed, but it will probably follow the approach established on 2012’s Enthroned Is The Night. In addition, the label is promising vinyl rereleases of the band’s earliest material, including their debut album. Finally, Demoncy is expected to perform at Nuclear War Now! Fest V in November 2016. Prior to this, Demoncy seems to have spent their career fitfully jumping between record labels, but this might bring them some helpful stability.

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Perdition Temple – The Tempter’s Victorious (2015)

Perdition Temple - The Tempter's Victorious (2015)
Article by Daniel McCormick

The Behistun Inscription of King Darius was carved approximately 2,500 years ago in what is present day Iran. It includes a multilingual narration (the veritable Rosetta Stone of cuneiform) and a relief which depicts the Great King before nine men whose hands are tied and necks roped. These nine doomed men symbolize the leaders who dared challenge Darius I’s power and the inscription narrates how the Great King and his army “utterly smote” all opposition time and again. It is a monument to masculine preeminence, violence, and revenge; elitist and cruel it is typifying of what is great in life: victory. These are timeless aesthetic values which parallel a modern metal ethos and embody its philosophy of power – as Nietzsche once wrote, “The excess of power only is the proof of power.”

Slavoj Žižek writes in his 2008 book ‘Violence’ that most of us are “caught in a kind of ethical illusion”, which is ingrained in our instinctual reactions and that “This is why shooting someone point-blank is for most of us much more repulsive than pressing a button that will kill a thousand people we can not see.” (e.g. Milgram experiment) This is the same evolved psychology as William Blake inquires questioningly about in ‘The Human Abstract’, as Baudelaire’s “unmoved hero” lends counterpoint to in his “Don Juan in Hades”, as Byron attempts to exploit in “The Prisoner of Chillon”. The general innate effect induced reflexively by cognition of some negative state from which either sympathy, empathy, or indifferentism commands our attention. Through this, the deduction or normalization of altruism and pacifism as the commonality can then be contrasted to the induced (or conditioned) opposing hierarchy of predation, hegemony, and misanthropy. Herein we see where a great form of power lies, where the aesthetic values of works like the Behistun Inscription draw their wealth; here we define the base sum from whence the antithetical, or negative, values arise and thus saturate a work of art through mechanisms of visceral response. There is a physical relationship stemming from reality to the values and ideas I am speaking of that is inseparable: our minds.

From an inseparable form in understanding come values, or categorical variables, which define much what draws me to a piece, or genre. These categories tend to revolve around my intuitive response to, or interpretation thereof, distinct drama/ representations characteristic of the grander ideals which germinate visceral responses. From this negative inclination much has been cultivated in the form of artistic tributes, both modern and old, to the glory of death, ruin, victory, and the mental states which are the highest peaks of emotional experience; an impact to psychology like arousal to a sex organ. Because for all the waxing upon the beautiful as an ideal one can happen upon it becomes self evident that that which is ugly, deformed, sickly, unclean, or of choleric temperament, can bring about a much more physical reaction. Watching executions, hearing cries of agony, observing the emaciated, the diseased, the exploited, the broken, the deformed, in even the briefest of glimpses the effect can be very real and intimately innate, as a substance that holds unending possibility for suffering which the light of creative ambition shines upon.

The one I have before me now is Perdition Temple – The Tempter’s Victorious. It is an eight track onslaught of blackened death metal for the modern day exterminationist. There are general themes of mass death, satanism, and morbidity, the sort of abstracted fantastical storytelling common the genre, and though there may be some weakness in the textual substance the incorporation of the ideas is well executed. The sound carries an approach to structure that focuses on an unceasing attack of technical riffing at a tempo evocative of full auto fire backed by vocal and percussive dynamics arranged with the structural integrity of a M1 Abrams. There is a detectable formula to the album as a whole, e.g. a crushing and sometimes chaotic guitar sound matched to blasting drums and Impurath preaching hate, but such is the style and the elitists expectation towards consistency. The musicianship displays high caliber and the black, thrashy, satanic death format feels natural and engaging, as opposed to coming off as contrived.

This album falls far more into the Florida death metal stereotype than one typical of USBM. The music predominantly builds on precise, aggressive, density and a sort of rapid oscillation between heightened tension and resolution that is ever running at full tilt. Considerably inaccessible, or lacking in the common musical expectancies of harmony, contour, etc. The Tempter’s Victorious plays a familiar style that reminds me in many ways of bands such as Angelcorpse, Blasphemic Cruelty, Diabolic, etc., and others whom have shaped their music to be the antithesis of traditional demands from the listener. However, as an educated devotee, this material is appreciated all the more for the respite it provides from the hell of popularist modernity and the industrial scale by which accessibility is mass replicated. Perhaps that is also a commentary on the infuriating nature of refinement, and while it may be true to conclude that Perdition Temple present little in the way of new frontiers and that this may not be the most memorable of albums it is nonetheless a solid product of extreme metal.

Released by Hell’s Headbangers and available for limited free streaming, I’d suggest checking out the title track, “Doomsday Chosen”, “Scythes of the Antichrist”, and “Devil’s Blessed” which should give you a working idea of what you can expect from this band, e.g. heavy usage of palm muting, tremolo picked arpeggios, varied meters, dissonance, endless blast beats, shredding solos etc. Should you be of a similar mindset to myself, you’ll no doubt conclude this is a worthy black/ death release created by established musicians. The strongest aspect of this band is the quality of death metal put forward, e.g. the most important part. I believe what is really lacking is a stronger or more developed voice, vision, or intentionality behind the imagery and topicality of their expressions. The use of black metal themes and attributes does well to fill this void, but when you draw contrast to the strength of the music the actual thematic purpose of the album becomes exceedingly generic. One needs only a cursory reflection on the lyrical content to realize this has an identical failing of many black metal albums inasmuch as the lyrics center around bizarre satanic fantasies, using odd/nonsensical word combinations, and words seemingly chosen merely for dramatic effect. By looking less superficially, one overcomes this short coming, as analyzing the value system producing the content affords one endless range by which to indulge the emotions of hate, violence, and victory.

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Abbath debuts newly recorded song (“Winter Bane”)

https://soundcloud.com/abdelsalam-schopenhauer/abbath-winter-bane

Article by Daniel Maarat

Addict in denial Abbath Doom Occulta has previewed a new track with Metal Hammer from his solo project, Abbath. Winter Bane “…comes with many of the qualities that are the essence of this band: epic, honest, powerful, and a heavy headbanger.” Surely many neck vertebrae will be dislocated by this radio pop for nasal decongestants attempt, but many more by decades-old Immortal material:

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Personal Device – En Puerto (2015)

personal_device_-_en_puerto

Like the band with whom it shares members, Cóndor, the hardcore/thrash band Personal Device — the name refers to “antipersonnel devices,” not Fleshlights — makes music with a lot of promise that sells itself short by demonstrating theory instead of creating experiences.

Art contains ideas as much as any essay, and those who deny that are morons, but it is encoded through the sensual, emotional and intellectual experience of appreciating something of great beauty and power. This is how metal makes beauty out of ugliness and reveals to us the forgotten ideas of ancient history in a form we can now recognize. It is also why Christian, Nazi and SJW music falls short, because it is preaching and illustrating theory more than it is taking us on a magic ride through the world of its ideas in application.

Personal Device thrives when the band members get in touch with their inner rebellious but sensible youth. They bash out hardcore-based tunes with metal riff framing, sounding like Emperor covering Iggy Pop or G.G. Allin sometimes, and put these in songs with some breathing room a lot like early Suicidal Tendencies. Riff quality is very good. So is their ability to know when to bring on the power and when to let a rhythm ride to its natural conclusion. Moments on this album, like on Cóndor’s works, are so good they burst with potential and make you think you have discovered a new classic.

It is interrupted however by a tendency to demonstrate. Either they show how they can fit in a blues part, use an unnecessary spoken word piece, or expand song structures to include the non-relevant for the point of making a point, but it breaks the flow of the album and adulterates the good stuff. This also blighted Cóndor Duin: theory is only good when put into practice, in a way that converts the cerebral into the existential and experiential. At the risk of ruining this review by doing the same, I will step off that soap box and summarize.

This is a great album within another album. Many good ideas ooze from the fabric of En Puerto. Their first album however had more of a feeling of a garage project designed just to be music that the musicians — enlightened as they are by theory, and their theoretical background is known to me and quite substantial — found themselves liking, not just in “body” (how it feels and sounds) but in “mind” (what it delivers) and possibly in “soul” (how it makes poetic the condition of life). The best albums do all three, and their first was closer because it was less obsessively engineered in the front-brain and more unleashed from within. Moments of En Puerto do the same, and if they cut the rest out, they’d have an album on par with DRI’s Four of a Kind or Cryptic Slaughter Money Talks. Here’s hoping for album three.

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Obscura teases upcoming album – Akroasis

Usually, when the word “obscura” enters my brain, it’s because of the works of Gorguts, and not this band. Then again, Obscura’s jazz-fusion-prog-techdeath-clusterfuck approach hasn’t won much of a fandom here, but it has won some acclaim from the meatworld for being disorganized, diverse, and instrumentally proficient. The teaser for Akroasis is full of more of the same, beginning with an intro highly reminiscent of “Veil of Maya” off Cynic’s debut album before abruptly shifting into an unrelated progression for reasons that very likely are not related to this video being composed of 45-60 second snippets of Akroasis‘s songs. If the rest of the album is like this (and I’m sure it will be), even its most ardent fans will find themselves infatuated with something else long before this album gets its own successor.

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Earache pushes Carcass LP box set

Carcass - Casket Case (2015)
On Friday, November 13th, you will be able to purchase Carcass’s latest compilation (Casket Case) for up to one minute. Earache Records claims that their previous ultra-limited box sets have sold out incredibly fast and it seems unlikely that this will be an exception. Casket Case features all five of the studio LPs Carcass released for Earache, meaning that you get the later underwhelming “melodic death metal” material as well as earlier, formative grindcore and death metal if you manage to get your hands on this. As a consolation price for those who fail to get their hands on this apparent bounty, Earache is also discounting the separate albums on CD for some time, as well as two compilations from when the band was dissolved during the late ’90s and early 2000s.

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Lugubrious Burial – “Rehearsal” (1989)

lugubrious_burial_-_rehearsal_1989

This track calls to mind the more underground edge of the 1985-1987 period. Its roots lie in speed metal and hardcore crossover, with much of its riffing relying on the type of heavily-downpicked recursive patterns that Metallica would have used if they, like hardcore bands, wanted to quiver on the edge of dissonance. The trudging riffing picks up the pace and is balanced by full-on necrotic underground metal vocals, dropping into a mid-paced groove with lots of chromatic riffs with more abrupt changes that you would see in speed metal. The vocals tend to carry this with a full mucosal drip distorted as if shouts after a bombing raid as the city burns. Would like to hear more from this band.

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Samuel Smith Old Brewery – The Celebrated Oatmeal Stout

samuel_smith_old_brewery_-_the_celebrated_oatmeal_stout

Whenever I try a new beer, I compare it to a similar offering from Samuel Smith Old Brewery. These venerable beers have decked the shelves of quality liquor stores for at least two generations in the states, and continue to sell because of their fundamental quality as interpreted by people who enjoy having a pint that is a flavor experience in itself.

The Celebrated Oatmeal Stout has a slightly bitter, thoroughly grainy, and rich dark taste that rewards the drinker with an even consistency from top to bottom of the glass. Unlike the hipster beers which ramp up a single flavor component, the slight bitterness expands into a creamy caramel which balances the yeasty tastes. The reason for its bitterness is revealed as it becomes clear that without that to balance the sweetness, this beer would seem like syrup, where with it, The Celebrated Oatmeal Stout takes on the flavor dimensions of a good coffee: an initial bite, then a caramelized nuttiness, followed by a smooth and warm taste, all of which are ensconced in a basic richness that makes this the beer you want if you can have only one.

It is not exactly the news to write a review praising Samuel Smith Old Brewery in 2015, but it is a good reminder: for half of what you spend on hipster IPAs, you can get a classic that has nurtured casual drinkers for generations. It is too intense in both flavor and body to drink like an alcoholic, but serves as the perfect complement to a winter afternoon. Unlike most beers, it feels clean and whole in the mouth and does not break down into its constituent components. Like the best of beers, it combines flavor with composition and delivers a 5% ABV without it overshadowing the other aspects of the beer. Keep your trendy beers; this is all I’ll need.

Quality rating: 5/5
Purchase rating: 5/5

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Enforcer – From Beyond (2015)

Enforcer - From Beyond (2015)
Enforcer has colonized 1983 and created an album that synthesizes much of that era’s above-ground metal, along with some careful additions from early speed/power metal into a coherent and musically proficient, if not particularly inventive whole. When you take into mind that there was just as much disposable crap being released then as now (at least by ratios), this probably pulls ahead of much of its inspirations for taking advantage of the historical perspective granted by 30 years of hindsight. Whether or not that’s enough to make it worthwhile is one of the questions I had on my mind as I evaluated From Beyond.
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