Sanctuary releases “Exitium (The Anthem of the Living)” from The Year the Sun Died

sanctuary-band_photo

During the 1980s, Sanctuary albums popped up wherever speed metal was sold but never quite found entry into the genre because of their reliance on a hybrid sound with the brainy radio heavy metal of the day. Like Queensryche, they embraced the dark rainy sound of the Northwest that later lived on in grunge which aims more toward presentation of intense vocal performances than a maze of riffs leading to detonation.

“Exitium (Anthem of the Living)” takes a doom-metal infused perspective on that style much in the style of Skyclad or Confessor, dropping into slower riffs to allow melancholy vocals to tie the song together. Song structure is simple and cyclic with flair but essentially exists to support vocals, so riffs follow a verse-chorus layout. The vocals sound a lot like Alice in Chains with more morbidity or Queensryche with more aggression, laying out a melody that is both hopeful and fatally self-contradictory. This creates an atmosphere of darkness with an inspirational tinge to it that seems almost like the band is exulting in self-pity.

The newest Sanctuary album The Year the Sun Died will walk among us on October 14. Fans of this band may find the changes unsettling and less intense than past works, but may appreciate the greater emotionality and connection to inner sensation that The Year the Sun Died appears to offer. As metal reaches toward rock in many directions, this somewhat overcast and isolated approach may work for Sanctuary as they try to forge anew their signature sound.

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Analysis of Suffocation’s “Catatonia”

By the time “Despise The Sun” was released, Suffocation were on top of the Death metal world and had at this point already influenced the rising slam and brutal Death metal styles that would inundate and signal the downfall of the whole genre as the technicality and the percussive nature of the music would be the focal point rather than the incredible songwriting present. This short EP would prove to be the band’s final charge as they would soon break up only to reform a few years later but without Doug Cerrito, the band drifted off into mediocrity and tired attempts at pleasing the deathcore crowd. Catatonia was initially on the Human Waste EP and showed a band that was composing music far beyond the maturity of the individual band members. In the same way as heroes Morbid Angel, Suffocation took songs from the initial recorded output and expanded on it for later works. Both versions of the song are nearly identical and vary only in performance and production.

Introduction and initial motif

A drum intro quickly introduces a simple descending chromatic riff that focuses on pounding the root note on the first beat of every bar as the fast-picked notes rush towards the root note. The drums crash around until finding stability as Frank Mullen’s harsh guttural roar enters and the riff soon leaves for another minimalist power chord sequence that eschews the root note to create an almost atonal melody that resolves first on a minor third then on a major third and quickly finds the root note before evolving into a stream of single notes. These single notes move the composition to a twisted sense of stability as they utilize a consonant leap in octaves but moving through the diminished fifth to form a chromatic ascent. The melody relies on two octave chords but through the added use of dissonant notes it avoids complacency in familiar territory and seeks to explore the possibilities that are now open. In typical Suffocation fashion the melody is moved up a major third as it progresses before ending on the composition’s main motif. The main motif starts with a flow of simple palm muted power chords half a tone higher than the root note which Morbid Angel popularized so that the static progression still creates tension by refusing to return to a place of comfort and stubbornly maintaining its place. This motif is then followed by the ending of the previous section but moved down a whole tone. This returns the composition to stability and allows the band to play with all those previously introduced. A second ending to the riff appears and is almost chromatic but resides within Suffocation’s vicious sense of melody.

Force fed immobilization
Man made liquid controlling my limbs
I want to die, no reason for living
Dealing with complications life brings
A corpse with no thoughts
No feelings or perceptions of life
The pleasures of death I foresee
Nightmares and day mares combining
To torture my being – This torture inhibits my life

Here the lyrics present a victim that has been held in total captivity with no control over his body as he forced to remain in a state of artificial nothingness. The narrator has nothing binding him to life as his psyche is destroyed, and he seeks to attain death as he is burdened by this form of torture. The harsh rhythms combined with the oppressing sense of melody evoke flawlessly how the narrator has been beaten down mercilessly into nothing. The previous single note melody appears in its entirety and this time allows us to delve further into the narrator’s mind.

The world is a graveyard of fools left to cope
With the torment and regret of man now deceased
Ghouls are released to destroy the race
Which we call human beings

Development(1:30)

Humanity has sealed its fate with its actions and there is nothing left to do nor to mourn as mankind is about to be destroyed. The C# root note is suddenly established in this section that appears suddenly with a riff comprised of a speed metal gallop that uses various tremolo melodies as a tail. The whole passage uses no chromatic tones or anything deviating from the natural minor scale allowing a new set of motifs to take dominance in the composition as the previous slow parts had achieved their maximum potential. The first part of the melody consists of a three-note progression played in staccato while dispersed by the endless charge of the low string and uses the major third which has always been an undervalued foundation upon which Suffocation rely on. The major third is the base for Suffocation’s twisted sense of melody and disappeared from the band when Doug Cerrito left and the motifs became much less interesting. The tremolo picked sections of this riff are descending minor thirds arpeggios hinting towards the narrator’s sadness.

Existence is torn from my soul
Perdition is what is believed to be seen
Suffering from the inside
Nefarious is the way
You choose to be – Left with no will to live
My intestinal wall begins to cave in
Trapped as they say
I begin to rot here as I lay

Let us note Frank Mullen’s maturity when comparing this vocal section on both versions on the song. In the Human Waste version, the voice is not yet fully developed and he struggles to maintain a consistent tone and output whereas on the “Despise the Sun” his gruff deep throaty aesthetic is pushed to the extreme and the fast hip hop cadence does not deter the consistency in both volume and tone. A truly remarkable development from an already great singer. Those who would emulate his deep vocals forgot to add the power that conveys the hatred he expresses and sought to reproduce the low tones through pig squeals and inhaled vocals and would sound like a parody of Mullen’s trademark growl. The protagonist is detached from reality as his body can no longer withstand the pain and accepts the end as there is no will to fight. There is no anger conveyed, just misery with no hope of redemption as the narrator awaits his death.
A tremolo picked section appears as the tension continues to increase. The melody is long and very similar to what the Norwegian bands were doing as it is extensively in the minor scale but uses adjacent tones between the more consonant ones to increase anticipation for a resolution. A slight break of half a second shifts the root note again down a whole tone as another speed metal rhythm similar to the last one is introduced. This time we are treated to two different tails as one is a fast almost chromatic power chord assault and the other is a chromatic ascent of two major thirds showing how much mileage and variation Suffocation can create through one simple technique and a strong understanding of composition. The narrator continues his attack in this passage as Mullen emphasizes the stronger beats in the phrase adding more power to the overall part.

Time to take a look
At what has begun to pass before me
Die a slow death
It now begins to take its toll

The narrator has finally closed the chapter on how humanity and himself ended in this situation and now seeks to look towards what is going
to happen in the present. Though the pain of his torture is starting to break his will.

Climax (2:26)

The initial motif as “Catatonia” is growled enters again, and though it may be the exact same riff  used in the beginning, the context is completely different as this is a passing passage that like a catapult transfers all the energy from the built-up tension to an incredibly satisfying climax that engages in all out combat as the song reaches a level that the great majority of metal bands can only imagine. The melody as excellent as it is, is nothing that hasn’t been heard at this stage of Death metal’s maturity but the context and the little rhythmic embellishments are what allows this melody to unleash more than its own potential. The first power chord which works in triggering the rest of the phrase like a set of falling dominoes, is played slightly after the beat causing the listener to lower their guard before being taken by surprise. On the other side the phrase finishes slightly early making the listener crave more. Both tools utilized during the climax make this simple melody incredibly powerful. The melody is caveman like in how it consists of a stream of alternating minor and major thirds two note arpeggios in rapid succession as they then move up and down a fourth. The legato playing which to the uninitiated means smooth and in the case of the case with minimal input from the picking hand allows the notes to be expressed cleanly without the attack of the string modifying the nature of the tone.

Scared as I lay here dead
From this infectious disease
I want to rise from here
To recover what is mine

Now in a complete twist of fate our hero through a combination of fear and the primal urgency decides to deny his fate and to what he has previously expected to happen. Though his body is destroyed and is no longer living there is an unfathomable will to atone the errors of the past and is the essence of what Suffocation conveys. Through hardships and unrelenting trials of this cold heartless world we have created, the human will is the only thing that can redeem of us and not through reason or calculated thought but by the most basic of instincts can we achieve joy in life.

Conclusion (3:02)

A solo erupts as the band turns to a more consonant melody consisting of a variation of minor third, diminished fifth, major third and ending away from the root note progression that the band had now cemented into the listener’s mind. Cryptopsy would base their classic works on the concept of a solo played on top of a consonant tremolo picked melody. The solo sees Hobbs go through a variety of techniques while confining himself in the realm of previously established motifs not to express horror but a rebirth of life or an ascendance to a higher state that signifies the protagonist’s change after the previous outburst and is optimistic of what they final outcome may be. A new riff emerges that is rebellious and defiant while summarizing succinctly the relationship between the chromaticism of the piece and the motifs taken from natural minor scale. A chromatic base that uses the chromatic ending from a previous motif while combining that with the final motif the band introduces here which is just an elemental minor scale ascent that stabilizes the insanity shown here from a musical perspective.

Abdicate your position in life
Now that you lie deceased
Rising from the tomb you own
To take what is rightfully yours

The lyrics urge the listener to give up on past glories and failures and to take control of one’s current situation and all that stops them from reaching their full potential and from that point to retrieve and regain all that belongs to them and what they deserve. Through showing a bleak world that is empty and nihilistic rather than one full of evil, Suffocation perfectly demonstrate their understanding of the real evils of our world and not through mundane examples but through a febrile imagination that is at the very heart of their music. Soon after previous climax returns in full force again showing that the battle is not won once but by attrition and that the will can only be tested by time. As the vocals end and this grandiose composition ends on the climax but with this time chromatic power chords and the right hand in full action as the band conveys one last time that other evils await our hero through the ominous effect created by the frustration of not having a resolution during a short chromatic sequence.

Suffocation create an entirely unique universe within a small set of rules that allows them to find new unexplored paths through those rules where as a lack of these rules may have tempted Suffocation to try the simpler paths that have already been treaded on. The redemption trope has been used endlessly and superficially throughout the existence of pop culture but can any musical artist claim coming this close to create such a horrifying world that truly evokes our own existence and then to find redemption and victory when there is none to be found. For that Suffocation stand on top of the Death metal pantheon with a few other select musicians and  the band represents the ultimate objective in metal. Triumph in the face of this existence that is brought upon us.

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Liana Saif The Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy (2015)

The present book explores different mystical and metaphysical ideas related to astrology and magic that fall under a philosophical framework that assigns the living cosmos a hierarchical order of influences that make the mechanics of the cosmos possible. The works studied here are chosen for their inherent worth, but here also for their influence over the developments in Western Occult Philosophy of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. They are termed ‘Arabic’ by virtue of the language the authors wrote the works in, although some of these authors were not themselves Arabs at all. Furthermore, Liana Saif strikes a very insightful balance in that she strives to truly understand this tradition of occult thought from the inside out, as a coherent system of thought from its own vantage point and not in relation to later philosophies.

It must be highlighted that the Arabic treatises explored in this book are of a ‘rational’ character, even if treating of magic and astrology. As Alfred Ayer —who would nonetheless be against notions of magic, said regarding systems of thought— explained in Language, Truth and Logic about philosophy and metaphysis: the only requirement for them to be valid is coherence. From then on, the connection that a system of thought has to ‘reality’ has to do with how its accuracy is gauged, and so how it is applied to achieve any kind of results. In the case of these Arabic influences, “knowledge of resemblances, analogies and sympathies,” played the role of mechanistic causality in these system, even though the system was treated as a living organism in which forces —dynamis, according to Georg Luck— are spirits with volition in a graded hierarchy of beings of descending intellectual power and self-awareness.

Astrology is said to be first of all dependent on a knowledge of astromony. But whereas astronomy attempts only a mathematical calculation of the movements of the heavens, astrology seeks to find causal relations between said movements and the states of beings on our ‘sublunar’ plane (basically, the planet Earth). To this end, many a creative rule of resemblance, sympathy and anipathy is applied, but with the ultimate end of finding a sense, not of feeding superstition. If the conjured explanation is unable to provide a satisfying unifying pattern of ideas with the actual manifest movements, then it is invalid. Furthermore, and most obviously, if within the parameters of the worldview no actual predictions or results are achieved from any presumed astrological knowledge or magical working, these are not supposed to be valid either. It is in this sense that astrology and magic are treated rationally, from its own chosen metaphysical premises.

Liana Saif tells us that explanations based on “causality,” even those that are now deemed “scientific,” do not in any way invalidate interpretations of a spiritual or semiological kind. In this regard, Carl Jung has stressed that human reality lies within phantasia, and neither in the purely physical nor the mental. What this means is that we percieve and act in a world that comes together between the two, and which phantasia eventually follows its own rules and patterns independent yet fed by the upper and lower worlds of the physical and the mental, correspondingly. And so, if a consistency of signs and meanings is achieved from an observation of nature in relation to the human mind and its ability to perceive details, then the efficacy of magic has thereby been attested.

The book itself is pleasant to read in many respects, not least of which is the fluid prose which, while academic in tone, is not bogged down by a lack of style or attention to clarity. What makes the present work powerful and congruent in that respect is that the author uses all modern advantages of systems and knowledge in the service of better understanding and explaining the worldviews and metaphysical propositions of these medieval Arabic thinkers on occult philosophy. It is exciting and fulfulling to read Liana Saif move seemlessly into the mentality of medieval occult thought with full attention and in an apparent “inner comprehension,” even as if she held a stake in this alternate “world,” only to then slide out and provide respectful commentary in the light of modern academic research.

“…the natural way of doing this is to start from the things which are more knowable and clear to us and proceed towards those which are clear and more knowable by nature.”

—Aristotle, Physics

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Hvile I Kaos – Agios O Fotiá (2017)

H V I L E   I   K A O S

Agios O Fotiá

2017 Era Horrificus

We are witnessing the rise of a label that, on the one hand, boasts of being led by personel experienced in different spheres of nefarious action on the ground, and that on the other, shows itself selective at both musical and ideological levels. The conjunction of these creates a unique opportunity seldom seen in the history of metal, a genre in which great artistic potential has been squandered by a lack of comprehension of what is being ultimately held in one’s hands. Deathwave Nexion promises to be one of the first loci of mature metal cultivation on North American soil. We see a far-reaching influence and presence stemming from a source that appears more monstruous the more one looks into it. In its train, the opening of mainstream operations by the nexion has brought to our ears the Hvile I Kaos’ first full album —a grand opening indeed.

For precise descriptions, Hvile I Kaos can be considered a chamber music ensemble, the music of which circles around the cello as the main instrument. As per classical tradition, it is indeed the wielder of the central instrument who leads the ensemble. He is as well the composer of these evocative pieces, to which the rest of these talented musicians contribute their own interpretations and idiosyncracies. The music is, to this writer’s amateur ears, modernist acoustic arrangements built on popular and folk melodies, but taken to a singular level of development in composition where they escape their roots and become the means with which the artist carves forth a new path. It is tempting, and perhaps not wholy unjustified to liken this to soundtrack music, although as far as that music goes, the generalizing comment does Agios O Fotiá a great disservice. As one follows the opening ‘populisms’ of the music, a joyous Pagan defiance that summons Life as much as it does Death communicates the unabstracted existence of human beings in a reality that is truly beyond these illusory poles —in reality, states of being distorted by blundering mundane minds.

A hidden, but effective power of manifest action and the bringing about of evil, not in the form of mythology as in the olden days of underground metal when daydreams and blurry visions led the way, but of an accumulated range of experiences that condense into the sonic efluvion that acquires depth by virtue of hindsight into concrete events. While this music is somewhat derivative in terms of expression, and may artistically show an imitative character of pre-established tropes, great acumen is shown in narrative elaboration, attention to detail —not to mention an intense emotional, even psychical, connection to more than simply music: this is art that extols visceral terror. The sensation is not unlike the immediacy and premonition of survival in danger that the neophyte might feel upon repeatedly calling on Shaitan while uttering his name and beholding his sigil. This is the plain, subtle and direct elating sensation of the edge of a cold blade; the living of eternity in moments of unsurpassed focus and clarity through sheer horrific ecstasy.

While one may at the very outset be dismissive of some or all of these works, especially given their surfaces’ blatant resemblance to mainstream cliches and overly-trodden figures of musical speech, the moment one engages the music thoroughly for what it has to say, the soul is carried away. More interestingly, despite any impressions words or claims might make, the character of the music —the marks it leaves on the heart— are of a humble tone. Echoes resound in the sensitive listener that become humbling to them as well, triggering introspection and self-challenge, or at least the heart’s need of it. There is no pretension, but rather just a well of remembrance, of pain from life and individual circumstance. This is true not only of Hvile I Kaos, but also of other projects linked to Deathwave Nexion in one way or another, such as Decieverion and Serpent ov Old , whose music should also be perused delicately to find the grain therein. [1]

Under a thin skin, we see highlighted here as part of the underground brotherhood relations and influences that come to feed the belly of this beast. Revelry and joy, mixed with blood-letting and pain, all in the most vivid possession by unnamed deities given tribute by those who aspire to join their ranks, by those whose minds reminisce of their non-existing past beyond the stars, to which they must strive to return, unto death, beyond death. The present work hints at this evolutionary movement into and across an abyss out of sight —yet beheld just below our quivering senses, resounding at the base of our skulls— in a path the entrance to which bears the mark of Shaitan, and upon which the Initiate fervently wishes to be blessed by the apparition of the Mistress of Blood. [2]

The reader on whose ears these words find a welcome reception, will perhaps take them as a salutary note for those who need no further justification for self-overcoming. As enactment of magick, a sword of death, Hvile I Kaos’ present, and hopefully its future, work has a transformative effect over those capable of raising themselves above themselves. Let its passionate music fill your heart, listener; let its muliebrial spectre haunt your wake and your dream, seeker. I for one never cease to long for its embrace.

Notes

[1] Recommended works: Decieveiron – Decieverion (2012); and Serpent ov Old – Withering Hope (2012). We must also emphatically commend the new single by Serpent ov Old in 2018, a preview of their next album to be published through Deathwave Nexion. The band has ascended through their own style to a new stage of coalesced beauty and virtuousic emotionality tempered by its dignified adoption of black metal.

[2] Baphomet – An Esoteric Signification : https://wyrdsister.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/baphomet-an-esoteric-signification/

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Statement from DEATHWAVE NEXION Record Label and Publishing House [MMXVIII E.H.]

D.A.R.G. : the statement below came to us from the leadership of Deathwave Nexion, and is published here as part of our continued support of outstanding music by people fostering genuinely dark philosophy through adversarial action.

Statement from DEATHWAVE NEXION Record Label and Publishing House:

Whilst remaining largely driven to the release of Neoclassical, Electronic and Ambient records, as detailed in the past and present efforts, our nexial decision to begin incorporating Heavy Metal bands into our cadre has come with no easy discernment. Purposefully aimed at quality over quantity, we have thus far approached or have been approached by artisans who we can collectively say are ‘masters of their craft,’ and no such lower tier of delivery should be permissible if our full weight of promotion and esoteric pairing are to be present.

We have selected a small group of individuals, each with their own sublets from which they are respective champions, but maintaining a shared lineup throughout. These are: DECIEVERION, a classic Black Metal act from Pennsylvania, and no stranger to the nightspirits of yesteryear; SHADOWS IN THE CRYPT, a ‘Sinister Cult’ from Pennsylvania whose sole purpose is to create the most menacing, hate-driven anthems of Devildom, and SERPENT OV OLD, the masterful effusion of many-years of learning through hardships and grief.

These three bands share one common thing among themselves: the members, whose efforts in the genre of North American Black Metal, and especially that which has thrived within the tri-state area, has existed and proliferated independent of genre-trends, subcultural infiltration or consumer interest. Nay, this Unholy Trinity has been, each respectively the bastions of inspiration, and each collectively, the circle of tradition, from which in the darkest times of the Black Metal genre’s foolery, have held down the fort for all of those whom have stayed pledged in allegiance to the dark.

What then separates the efforts of some small, underground, virtually invisible label, and its venture into the metal genre, from any other plastic theater? It is the fact that these “musicians,” are not just that, they are each individually, archetypes of the new aeon. The personnel surrounding the groups in question are antibodies within the mundane superstructure. Given to paths of sharp-living, recognizing no law, and no authority – foregoing the “normal” life which is emblazoned on the armbands of every reactionary, neo-Neckbeard; these are real criminals. They are dedicated to the dark deeds of the devil. In this, their journey towards restoration of principles once commonplace in Black Metal might yet see a renaissance, and in their seedings, might a new prototype of individual arise to stand before the failing species of man.

A New Sample Track from SERPENT OV OLD (2018 via Deathwave Nexion)

Many thanks to D.A.R.G. for the continued support and camaraderie, to S.R. Prozak and the Hessian stratosphere, and for their journalism, which has intersected with our work in the past, and with any luck will continue to in the future.

Julvarg
Deathwave Nexion
2018 Era Horrificus

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Vargavinter – Frostfödd (1996)

A single-release project from Sweden, Vargavinter play a style of black metal that could accurately be described as melodic and ‘ripping’, ‘pagan’ and ‘symphonic’ without falling into any of those narrow misnomers. By holding its influences together into a pointed lance-tip, the music is able to maintain a dignified character as it preserves a certain aggression. The driving, aggressive impetus is able to stand even major chord progressions without disassembling its unitary momentum into constituent mediocrity.  When such disintegration takes place, subpar passages arise, and the music is no longer black metal, but ‘pagan’ or ‘progressive’, for instance. This process entails a frequent alternation of outstanding and mediocre moments in Frostfödd which make of it a tragedy.
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Death metal influence on power metal

After the initial explosion of Death metal, metal had finally made the breach into untapped territory. Gone were the tropes of previous influences and the race to reach new summits of musical expression had begun. On the sidelines the speed metal bands saw themselves pushed into irrelevance; hardcore had now evolved into Grindcore and heavy metal heroes had now degenerated into more commercial sounds in order to expand their fanbase in a world that had left them behind. The European power metal bands found escape in Tolkienesque fantasy and escapism. In America, the USPM movement was not interested in the more flowery interpretation of European power metal. Some of these artists recognized the power of the early Death metal moved by Slayer and sought to integrate it into their own music for greater effect. Here we shall omit the failures of bands that attempted such experiments like Satan’s Host or Iron Cross.
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Horror Myth Films #1: Evil Dead (1981)

Evil dead is considered a cult horror movie due to its ability to reinvent the codes of horror movies that Halloween has imposed at the time of time of release and the lack of funds from investment. This film would also serve as a source of inspiration to many metal bands though not because of its story telling methods nor narrative development. The outdated gore and the fact that the movie is clearly trapped in its time make this a fun movie for most but apart from some interesting lore there isn’t much to see here.
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