Watain – Reaping Death (2016)

Article by David Rosales.

I. Where is the music?

It is very rare to find a general fan of black metal today who has not at least heard of the name of Watain. The kind of fame it has attained, however, is the kind that is mostly based on peripheral affairs rather than the art which Watain is supposed to dedicate itself to. Watain is the kind of ‘entity’ (as most of these bands are now given to call themselves) that is surrounded by a nebulous aura which may at first, if one is inclined to be generous in providing the benefit of the doubt, seem like an hint of something truly profound going on. Now, whether that is the case in regards to the real, transcendent or philosophical knowledge or experience of the people behind Watain is not for the writer to say. On the other hand, the music itself does not seem to display any of the more-than-human qualities it should if one is to believe all the hype. In fact, it reveals itself as a very mundane affair when one is given to delve into a holistic examination of the music in itself, and even more so when seen in relation to the extra-musical portions of the ‘entity’.

Continue reading Watain – Reaping Death (2016)

Watain – Lawless Darkness

Given that Watain claims to be “the most black metal band in the world,” you’d expect this to be a black metal album. Surprise — it’s not black metal. Not even close. It’s traditional heavy metal with harsh vocals and tremolo picked guitars. That’s odd given that the band claimed black metal would be “reborn” with the release of Lawless Darkness, although probably not a surprise to those who heard Sworn to the Dark and the “Reaping Death” single.

However, it would be easily forgivable if Watain made a credible attempt at traditional heavy metal. Forgetting all other criticisms, is Lawless Darkness any good? Of course not! Its confusion runs deeper than mistaking warmed-over Judas Priest cloning for black metal. To be fair, the aforementioned “Reaping Death” is one of the worst songs on the album (not the worst, though; that “honor” goes to the utterly abysmal, and amazingly terribly titled, “Total Funeral”).

However, the rest of the album suffers from the same essential flaw — namely, that the songs are constructed around two primary riffs, with loads of unrelated bridges in between to mask the essential simplicity of the songs. This was an obvious reaction against the fan reception of Sworn to the Dark (which was blasted for its simple 3 riff songs), but the complete lack of focus that this new structuring style brings is a far worse error: the songs are robbed of all drive, and are nearly guaranteed to put the listener to sleep.

The riffcraft is mostly excellent; the musicianship is quite proficient, provided you ignore the abysmal guitar solos; and the production is professional, although the drum production is quite possibly the worst since Metallica recorded St. Anger‘s drum tracks in a Porta-Potty. However, Lawless Darkness wastes this raw potential in songs with no impetus, no backing concept beyond “dark-sounding minor key noodling for a few minutes contrasted with more poignant minor key noodling.

The result is sonic wallpaper. You might enjoy it if you would stare at the texturing of drywall for hours on end. “Astounding! On this one, the stucco is sponged on instead of rolled! How unique!” – Cynical

Watain, Withered, Ritual Killer and Sarcolytic in Austin, Texas

Watain, Withered, Ritual Killer and Sarcolytic
October 25, 2008
Red 7
611 E. 7th Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Austin has come by its current status as Texas’ metal capital somewhat disingenuously; San Antonio, once a world-famous metal mecca, has continued to fail the genre with a dearth of viable venues or solid attendance. The irony is that most notable Austin shows have an audience with San Antonians comprising nearly one-half, along with a considerable supplement of Houston visitors. Nevertheless, Austin has the advantage with an endless supply of mediocre but metal-receptive venues combined with its centralized location, so legitimate or not it is now the city for Texas hessians to go for shows. Red 7 itself is at least spacious with a semi-decent PA, though its current lack of air conditioning made the room sticky and uncomfortable. Vex was the first act but this reviewer chose to stand out on the street due to the aforementioned conditions, but also because the band itself is so stylistically confused they are virtually unlistenable. Local death metal stalwarts Sacrolytic came next and delivered a solid set that was sadly compromised by its muddy sound. The band presents as a convincing Suffocation variant complete with BC Rich guitars and a storm of hair from the front line, but their live shows would definitely benefit from a personal sound engineer.

Ritual Killer

Ritual Killer is a side project of Goatwhore axeman Sammy Duet, though few people are aware of this so the band was obligated to stand on its own merits. They attacked a set of songs that were one part Hellhammer and two parts Blasphemy, and while the band delivered a competent show (the dreadlocked and visibly disturbed vocalist added an enigmatic touch to the proceedings) the songs quickly ran together and monotony set in. However, they seemed aware of the limited range of their material and the thirty minute set prevented them from overstaying their welcome. They were not bad by any means, but also not nuanced enough to make any lasting impact. If the band ever moves out of side project status they may end up with more to offer. Once again this reviewer stepped outside to breathe dry air and to avoid Book of Black Earth, a band who describes themselves as “death grunge” and may quickly realize that this label reads to most people as, “ignore us, we’re not credible”. This is precisely what happened; there was no reason for this band to be on the tour.

Withered

Withered came next and drew most everyone back into the room in the process. They play a brand of driving Swedish-style death metal that invokes early Amon Amarth but with an injected dissonance and feedback manipulation that recalls “Souls at Zero”-era Neurosis. This hybridization is more effective than it may sound, as Withered succeeded in creating atmosphere with a well-rehearsed application of various effects pedals and thoughtful interchanges between guitar, bass, and drums. Vocals were standard variations of screams and growls, but the vocalists proved to be savvy in knowing when to back off and let the music speak for itself. Even more impressive was the performance of the unit’s powerhouse drummer who displayed flair and blinding velocity on a very minimal kit; his triplet blast-beats with no sign of cheating or fatigue garnered many cheers throughout the set. The band as a whole executed their songs in a manner that reflected intelligence, conviction, and an almost idealistic brightness rarely seen in the metal underground circa 2007, and for that they should be commended.

Watain

Watain was preceded by the orange funk of carrion that was hung on iron poles around the stage like some kind of perverse holiday display. A synth-orchestrated introduction brought them to an enthusiastic crowd, and then the band voraciously tore into their set. The sound was a bit anemic and the band’s musical dynamic was stripped down due to their regular second guitarist being barred from entering the US, but it was a solid execution of material predominantly from “Sworn to the Dark” with tracks from “Casus Luciferi” and a single number from “Rabid Death’s Curse” to mollify the purists. Vocalist and de facto bassist E. Watain was appropriately the center of attention with his deranged and snake-eyed countenance that is just as charismatic as it is confrontational. He is not a large man so it is always impressive to hear a such gigantic voice rising out of him. He also seemed to be speaking in tongues or perhaps reciting incantations while not on the microphone, and it helped further the sense of madness on the stage. Watain’s latest album has been derided by some as too polished and too accessible, and while these charges aren’t wholly unfair it should be noted that the band has refused to give way to brevity in their compositions; most of the songs clock in at around six minutes and as such they are allowed to build and breathe to greater effect. One of the highlights was their rendition of “I Am the Earth”, which best summarizes Watain as a whole. Grandeur, violence, and passion are all equally present in this song, and the only thing that comes close to touching it is the current album’s “Stellarvore”, which also made its massive presence known this night. Ultimately, the Swedish quartet succeeded in their mission by living up to their infamous reputation along with creating many new converts to their cause. Music aside, they deliver some of the most dangerous showmanship since an odd young man named Per Ohlin took up with a death metal band from Oslo.

– Written by David Anzalone

Bands:
Watain
Withered
Ritual Killer
Sarcolytic

Promoters:
Red 7

Memo From Prozakhistan (07/11/16)

invoking_the_spirit

Greetings, fellow metalheads,

Times seem grim. The orcs have taken Osgilliath and approach the gates of the white city. Western Civilization is still dying, accelerated by democracy and consumerism, but rotten to its core with a lack of hope. Metal once gave that hope by showing us an alternate morality comprised of effective realism and epic mythos. Many of us want to live in that time again, but it will not happen through democracy or consumerism. We must choose our leaders and then all of us participate in restoring and advancing the greatness we have known.

Continue reading Memo From Prozakhistan (07/11/16)

Temple of Baal details new album Mysterium

Temple of Baal - Mysterium (2015) cover art

Active since 1998, Parisian black/death metal band Temple of Baal will release their next album on October 2nd, 2015 in CD and 12” vinyl format. The current lineup has performed and participated in many other French metal bands, perhaps the most notable of which would be Anateus. They released the following statement:

PARIS, France – French black/death metal veteran, Temple of Ball, has announced its next album, Mysterium, to be released on October 2 via Agonia Records. The first single, “Divine Scythe,” featuring guest vocals by Georges Balafas (Drowning, Eibon, Decline of The I), is streaming on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/gi2yqmKvUtw.

As the album’s title suggests, Mysterium dwells on the topics of spirituality and religiosity. “From the opener, ‘Lord of Knowledge and Death,’ to the closing number, ‘All in Your Name,’ every inch of this record drips with it,” the band commented. “Mysterium can be seen as a collection of meditations and prayers over the mysteries of faith, directed towards the gods of the left hand path.”

Musically, Temple of Baal’s black metal roots are back in full force, allowing the atmospheres to develop through songs of epic proportions, mostly clocking around eight or nine minutes each. Mysterium covers a wide musical specter, from slower ritualistic parts, to furious blasts and thrashy riffs or the surprisingly melodic choirs of “Magna Gloria Tua” and “Hosanna,” each song taking the listener into a spiritual journey, evolving through various climates, keeping the listener’s mind awake. “I never got that much into monotonous, uniform albums,” said band leader Amduscias. “I like music to take my mind from one point to another. Even if I have a strict view of what Temple of Baal should be, stagnation is not something I’m very fond of.”

Paying tribute to its old school roots, Temple of Baal covers Bathory for the second time, with the song “The Golden Walls of Heaven” closing the vinyl edition as a bonus track.

The recording of Mysterium took place in Hybreed Studios with long-time sound engineer, Andrew Guillotin (Glorior Belli, Mourning Dawn), who managed to capture the band’s trademark massive sounding, magnifying it through a warm and organic production. Cover artwork and layout have been prepared by David Fitt (Aosoth, Secrets of the Moon, Svart Crown) and Maria Yakhnenko.

Mysterium will be available in: six panel digipack CD with 16-page booklet, regular gatefold double black vinyl, and limited to 150 hand-numbered copies double gatefold vinyl (including one picture disc and one black vinyl). It can be pre-ordered now through the Agonia web-store at: https://www.agoniarecords.com/index.php?pos=shop&lang=en.
1. Lord of Knowledge and Death
2. Magna Gloria Tua
3. Divine Scythe
4. Hosanna
5. Dictum Ignis
6. Black Redeeming Flame
7. Holy Art Thou
8. All in Your Name
9. The Golden Walls of Heaven (Bathory Cover, vinyl bonus track)

In its 15-plus year career, marked by four full-lengths and numerous split releases, the highly respected French coven, Temple of Baal, has evolved from a primitive black/thrash outfit into a monstrous black/death metal entity of epic dimensions. Verses of Fire, the last album (2013), was acclaimed worldwide as a milestone in the band’s career, allowing Temple of Baal to perform at notable festivals such as Hellfest, Motocultor, Summer Breeze, Kings of Black Metal and Speyer Grey Mass. The formation also played selected shows in France, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, sharing the stage with the likes of Watain, Antaeus etc.

Stay tuned for more information on Temple of Baal and Mysterium, out this fall on Agonia Records.

Hammerheart Records re-issues At the Gates Gardens of Grief

at_the_gates_-_gardens_of_grief_-_reissue

Hammerheart Records has re-issued the classic of Swedish death metal Gardens of Grief by pioneering progressive death metal band At the Gates. The label issued the following statement:

At the Gates are one of those Swedish bands that doesn’t really need an introduction for anybody really eager enough to dig as deep as their first EP, Gardens of Grief, which was released in 1991 on Dolores Records.

Being one of the more distinct sounding bands from the whole original Swedish death metal scene, they have managed to spit out a couple of really great albums in the 90s, the pinnacle of their career being 1995’s “Slaughter of the Soul”.

What we have here lads is a chaotic mix between great song composition, one of metal’s best vocalists (in my humble opinion) screaming his shit out and pure maniacal death metal the way its supposed to be played. Right from the start of the first track you will get nothing less than a punch in your face, to the groin and to the balls. Tempo changes along with the massive output of riffs used work perfectly to create a unique atmosphere that sends you right to hell. This is one of those birth moments of a band that further defined the typical “Swedish sound” that most of us know as being a kind of mix between crunch and white noise. Every song has a very mature approach towards composition, not sounding very melodic, but dark, vicious and awestruck. This is fierce, ruthless death metal played by people who had a spark in them and wanted to play crazy music.

This EP is a very good example of how a rough start can prophesy a band’s great career with no absolute low point whatsoever and be a marker for good things to come.

For fans of: Grotesque, Dissection, Watain

The Negation releasing Memento Mori in July

thenegation2015

The album Memento Mori from Black Metallers The Negation on July 6 (July 7 digital and North America). The first pressing comes as a limited edition (500 copies) DigiSleeve CD.

The Negation’s second full-length, Memento Mori was produced at the Hybreed Studio (Temple of Baal, Glorior Belli, Azziard), with artwork by Metastazis (Morbid Angel, Behemoth, Watain), influenced by famous acts with whom they’ve toured (Marduk, Belphegor) as well as bands such as Dark Funeral and Deathspell Omega. Enough said!

Tracklist:

  1. Intro
  2. The true Enemy
  3. Sacrifice the Weak
  4. Parasite Fall
  5. A Prayer for the Ones I Will Have to Kill
  6. Faith in God’s Corpse
  7. End of Cycle
  8. Visions of Doom
  9. Résistance
  10. Outro

Check out their mega-awesome nihilist and modern music in their album teaser.

#metalgate: SJW-controlled Metal-Archives.com censors realist reviewers

dig_on_for_victory

SJW-controlled site Metal-Archives.com, famous for its desire to regulate what is “metal” and exclude non-leftist viewpoints from the site, has deleted user “bitterman” who gained notoriety for his realistic, masculinized reviews which expressed extreme intolerance of insincere, manipulative and mediocre metal. All of the writings of this person are now removed with no chance for the user to recover the hours of effort he put into the site.

Bitterman made a name for himself for thoughtfully but viciously reviewing the excess and stupor of contemporary metal, using a somewhat tongue-in-cheek “metal warrior” style as he skewered perpetrators of false metal like Watain. According to one commentator, “he paid the price for holding for-profit poseurs to the same standards as Onward to Golgotha and early Burzum” because of his vicious attacks on all that pretended to be underground metal and failed. Many of Metal-Archives.com’s staff are gamers who undoubtedly are aware of the SJW incursion into gaming that prompted #gamergate as well.

Wherever SJWs go, they censor all that is natural and right: masculinity, warfare, conflict, elitism, quality and excellence. Then they replace these with twee indie-rock metal hybrids and a policy of “acceptance” that rejects quality bands under the same excuse that Wikipedia uses, “notability,” while promoting the kind of hybrid dreck that 90s underground metallers would have thought belonged in the bin with Sonic Youth and Rites of Spring, not raging death metal and black metal.

Again we see the problem of allowing SJWs to infiltrate metal through media as, using that power, they change what it means to be “metal” while trying to purge metal of what makes it unique. At the end of this agenda, they will create a neutered form of metal-rock that will promptly collapse because it lacks all of what makes metal appeal to its audience, and the genre will collapse like the Soviet Union or Pol Pot’s regime. The SJWs will not care, because they got their 15 minutes of fame.