Blood Urn – …of Gory Sorcery and Death (2014)

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Blood Urn is a death metal project whose approach to the genre is one that can reinvigorate it while being very traditional. Superficially, a listener who only glances over the surface of …Of Sorcery and Death may incorrectly say this is an old school album, a modern euphemism for retro-acts or merely those who do not play the metalcore-based so-called technical death metal. It is true that this is an old school release, but only in the sense that it upholds the same ideals of the best of that era, including certain preferences in aesthetics as a reflection of an inner attitude — an idea that stands in contrast with the superficial selection of genres and expressions of modern bands that wear style as a change of clothes to pose as something they are not.

If we made the mistake of approaching this distinction like most clueless people do, that is, with a shopping list of the aesthetic characteristics that usually accompany a genre in order to identify it, we would definitely arrive at the same conclusions. That is why premises are as important as having good logic. Wrong premises and good logic only lead you safely to wrong conclusions. But if we start with the premise that those aesthetic characteristics are only the reflection of a spirit which is much more than intention or purpose but also crystallized significance, we will recognize that the shopping-list approach is at best a collection of hints and not a concrete definition.

Blood Urn …Of Sorcery and Death is a death metal (‘old school’ death metal is the only one, with various regional styles) album in the truest sense. A death metal at heart and in representation. The expressions that seem typical of death metal are used here in what can be accurately described as progressive without incurring in the fallacy that all disparate appending of music qualifies as such.  In accordance with death metal tradition, music builds up through structural devices: mainly through variation and manipulation of theme with a climax and a clear musical goal in mind for an end.  By musical goal we mean one as defined by traditional classical theory, not by the “good intentions” of the music writer. Intention and realization are two different and distinguishable things, something relativists and individualists would do well to keep in mind.

While varied in expression, Blood Urn manages to remain fairly coherent, choosing to tie different textures in a mix that also incorporates the riff-salad approach. In this, it is somewhat similar to the way Horgkomostropus Lúgubre Resurrección builds in a very typical death metal push and pull between structural theme-play and variation and contrasting ideas that are brought gradually into the fold, first as a splash of cold water to the listener and then in gradual integration through interleaving and recombination of sections and themes. It is important to say that in good death metal fashion, the limit of the contrasting ideas does not break away from the chosen style, which is the sin of many a pseudo-prog outfit. This conjoined approach of dealing structural development from a theme with one and then riff-salad with the other only to increasingly interleave them and sometimes ultimately fuse them into altogether different endings can be referenced in masterful albums such as At the Gates’ The Red in the Sky is Ours and is also the approach of Blood Urn to music composition, albeit with a much more humble and less-layered result.

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Sorcery – Unholy Creations

sorcery-unholy_creationsHells Headbangers began shipping the Sorcery Unholy Creations 2CD compilation of this band’s works a few hours ago, which makes it time to delve into this band’s history.

Since so many of the revivals of late are either disappointing new albums murdering promising careers, or revivals of disappointing past material in an attempt to launch a better career, it is worth approaching any new material especially any new Swedish death metal material with skepticism.

In this case, the skepticism is well-deserved. There is a reason that demos like “Maculated Life” and “Unholy Crusade” stayed mostly in the past. While the band has kept releasing, unleashing full-lengths in 1991 and 2013, the foundation of their career is this early work which gets them inside the window in which Entombed, Carnage, Nihilist, Dismember, Therion and Unleashed thrived.

However, a more apt comparison for this band’s older material might be to a cross between Desultory and Grotesque, except with more of a grounding in the speed metal of the previous era. Big, bold and somewhat boring chord progressions underlie riffs which reveal a heavy metal lineage and the recursive, percussive rhythms of speed metal.

Unholy Creations faithfully compiles most of the band’s past ouvre, missing the Rivers of Dead EP from 1990, but at the end of the day, the verdict on this band is that they’re not what we’re all hoping for: the undiscovered successor to Entombed. With that being said, it’s also worth noting that this band is stuck in the past of death metal, namely too much speed metal, and also isn’t very exciting or even as melodic and elegant as Desultory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__KB_g03Fvk

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Music, Musick and “Ick”


by Andreas Languetus

Music serves many roles in our lives, but the one closest to our sense of well-being is a rediscovery of beauty and purpose in the world. While neither is universal, or experienced by all people, the former is closer to the objective, meaning that it concerns the world itself, and the latter is closer to subjective, in that we each find our own path and so our purpose — while a descendant of broader purpose like adaptation, excellence, or knowledge — reflects our discernment and choice of that path in the moment.

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Emperor: Metal for Mordor

The music of Emperor is commonly misconceived by the mainstream metal media and certain YouTube clowns to be merely an atmospheric wall of sound or symphonic black metal orchestration engineered for superficial, surface level aesthetic appeal to an audience atypical for black metal. This is in fact not the case. In the Nightside Eclipse is just as perplexing to typical headbangers on first encounter as it was upon release in 1994. Mainstream audiences are even more flabbergasted and regard the record as a mere curiosity produced by those murderous church burners, preferring Emperor’s more rock-structured later work such as Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, which abandoned the band’s signature riffing style and method in exchange for ones influenced by more stereotypical Norwegian B-listers such as Enslaved and Kvist. Emperor did eventually sell out, becoming technical guitar wank, rock-structured heavy metal after their rhythm guitarist Samoth and drummer Faust were imprisoned in 1994 and their songwriting influence subsequently waned. Yet In the Nightside Eclipse‘s hymns to Satan and Sauron remain as natural mutations of their metallic predecessors’ attempts to imitate horror scores and classical music’s overwhelming power of sublimity.

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Possession Ritual – Incense of Opened Gates (2011)

possession ritual - the incense of opened gates

Article by Anton Rudrick.

German ritual black ‘n’ roll band Possession Ritual released a full-length going by the name of Incense of Opened Gates, with striking artwork by Ars Leprosa in the year 2011 through Nihilward Productions. A note is made that the music itself was written and recorded in 2006. Being one of those limited editions which are rather hard to come by and probably also partially hidden away from the unworthy prying eyes of mundane minds, the author has only been able to listen to two pieces from the album. Hence, all commentaries and reflections upon the band’s work can be traced to perceptions of these exclusively. It will be useful to meditate upon a holistic impression of the band as an entity, and to take each of those to tracks to task separately, to finally arrive at a judgement of the musical work as manifested result of a series of evocations.

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Septic Flesh – Esoptron (1995)

septic flesh - esoptron

Article contributed to Death Metal Underground by Anton Rudrick.

Septic Flesh have always oscillated between dark goth rock and simple death metal. Esoptron1 strode past both genres with expressive ambient interludes and enveloping everything in arcane rock akin to Fields of the Nephilim, reorienting Septic Flesh’s sound towards a suitable incarnation of their music’s abstract themes.

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