Unholy Hope #1


Cassette demos reviewed by Linus Douglas.

Megalith Grave / Entsetzlich – Beyond Morbid Fascinations of Cryptic Spirits (2017)

One-song-per-band splits are great for the audience to take a quick and decisive look at what bands have to offer these days, and it helps us shift through the fodder quickly, or be convinced of a project’s value right away. Each band occupies less than five minutes and we are able to get a good look at their method and overall atmosphere. These two are raw black metal, which already gives the listener an idea of what they are in for. Audiophile pussies may rightfully stay away, and those obsessed with riff complexity sanctity can go listen to Testament.

Megalith’s track, ‘Immense Despair Emits From Candlelight Orbs’, plays on the drum style made popular by Fenriz‘ minimalism, and getting a functional profit from it, fluctuating in a satisfying way and maintaining trance at a proper pace and exchange of pulses per section that keeps things fresh but allows the listener to sink into the atmosphere as vocals advance the narrative almost imperceptibly. The second track, ‘These Vast Abyssic Tombs Are My Kingdom’ by Entsetzlich, comes closer to what Les Legiones Noires were doing in terms of taking liberties with their minimalism and rough soundscaping. Taking a deep look at black metal under the religion of the riff and the aping of rock-derived music, we can understand music like this as the link between black metal and something like dungeon synth. As a trial track, this is promising as Entsetzlich is very expressive and shows a sense of steady but very measured development throughout. A real test will be how they manage to not make an album simply out of ‘infernal jingles’ disconnected from each other or not doing much on their own.

Let’s vote for more of this, preach it right and left, and try and favor these splits more even if traditionally it has not been the preferred format. Infamous has done a good job, for instance, of helping us avoid a lot of shitty bands by doing splits with them and showing us how boring and unimportant they can be with one song. We will never hear anything from them again. As for these two, they seem moderately worth your time, if you are into and understand what raw metal is about, and if it connects to you in a personal way. In 2017, very little else is as honest and ‘real’ as actual raw black metal.

Vaal – Doudeskraaft (2017)

Finally, this is what we would expect Hammerheart Records to be releasing under their umbrella. Vaal plays unadultered Dutch black metal, an idiosyncratic melodic ‘war’-rough take on harsh black metal that stands out for its honesty and promising flexibility. Vaal start out with a track which would not be out of place among the releases by bands like Tarnkappe, while not overdoing it and being better at evaluating the staying power of riffs and songs, bringing the opening track to a close after less than three minutes.

The second track surprises us with a droning synth that accompanies the equally droning guitar in a dance-like 1-2-3 signature that lulls us into a strange and foreboding atmosphere without overdoing it or stretching it too much. The latter third of the song brings a slope that accentuates and makes a gesture that gives the song a bit of a curve without disrupting its linear-minded drone. The third song gives us yet another take, sounding like a punk-n-roll tune covered in raw black metal style, ‘Lamentatie’ has a strange feeling of transposition and distortion that is clumsy and childish but also satisfying.

Towards the end of this demo, Vaal gives us a more aggressive raw underground delivery of drone-like aggression that shifts away from the purely Dutch influence and into the Franco-German sphere done in a satisfying way, even though it is not even close to the best of this style. The lamentable closing track is a jumpy Infamous-club-meets-Netherlands that does nothing to give weight to the demo and bids farewell to the audience with a better version of that joke party-punk black ‘n’ roll of Finnish clowning asshats.

Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect – Canticle Bound In Spirit – The Faith In Vampyric Blood (2017)

An opening intro of just bass accompaniment and melody played in one instrument is both promising and worrying, given both the precedent of mighty Necromantia and the hordes of hipsters that ape empty bullshit. When next Unholy Vampiric Slaughter Sect are able to show us what they really have to offer besides the odd intro, we are confronted with a freak show of screams and growls over an almost electronic beat that becomes ridiculous at some points and almost stadium rock at others. There is almost no sense of narrative and the second song (or first actual song) sees the band starting a new song right in the middle of the track. The next tracks include a “Dark electro” tune and more pseudo black metal nonsense like the one just described.

While this release will lure many, enticing it by ticking some boxes, this is a straight warning that this is a false positive for good underground or raw black metal. The worse part of Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect in this release is the childish drumming, which borders on the moronic, and a strangely mediocre lack of musical sense. Mediocre is always more difficult to detect than utterly bad, because mediocre is often mix with some honesty or some near hits, and so somewhat camouflaging its worse traits.

This record is a good warning for those looking for a dark experience in black metal, but we should also stress how its stupidity should not detract from the possibility of other projects being worth your time. Even if this plays like Misha Mansoor trying to do raw black metal, you can train yourself to listen through the images and the fals positive signs, and use it as an exercise to distinguish it from the real deal on more serious releases.

Funeral Altar – Black Mark of the Lost Path (2017)

Starting out fabulously with an enviable necro sound of the most exquisite modulation, Funeral Altar assault us with mid-to-fast-paced droning riff that switches speeds and beats while being afflicted by an inhuman vocal performance blanketed by the rest of the instruments. Just when we feel the first track is going to go Demoncy on us (that is, boring us to death with melodic low-register drones without taking the music anywhere) Funeral Altar varies the register and approach to riff ever so slightly, to bring some variety to the atmosphere itself, articulating but not ‘progressing’ out of order in a way that would obliterate said atmosphere. Climax in this style is always difficult, and Funeral Altar manage to construct a functional one by a strange obfuscation that blurs the music for a moment and then bringing the pace down for an arrested mid-paced trudging that morphs into a stronger pulse towards the end to musically drive the song towards the end as fast d-beats foretell a final cosmic retribution.

So much for ‘Death Mastery’; now, the second track, ‘Black Howls of Entrails’, does not rely on a closed template in the sense of simply repeating the flow of the previous track. It is written in the same style and keeps to the same closed toolkit in riffing style and song-advancing methods, but it is a completely different narrative experience than the first track. The decision to place this second track last was probably the most sensible one, because it seems to allow the guitar to depart from the mid-low center register it commonly inhabits more quickly into a higher-register melody, to then come back, and it is also more prone to rhythmic departures from the band’s norm. In this sense, the first track has entranced us and made us ready for what is to come.

As a whole and in its singularities, Black Mark of the Lost Path is a satisfying true underground demo that bears the marks of the best of the modern Satanic underground in its Germanic style. We can also see in the work of Funeral Altar the perfect fusion of riff-based atmosphere that does not leave behind the drums and makes a smart use out of the vocals. I would take this any day over the totally over-aped Demoncy.

Siech – Total Filth (2017)

Here be more Germanic style modern Satanic black metal, but this time played by actual Germans. Again, this should not be called ‘war’ metal simply because of a riffing choice, Blasphemy may be an inspiration but it is simply ridiculous to confuse the newer approaches and developments with the anti-climatic work of beyond-boring Blasphemy tits. There is a fury in Siech’s approach, however, that brings them somewhat closer to their Dutch neighbors, and which distinguishes them from a purely German approach. This ever-so-slight blood transgression is duly paid for, as Total Filth manages to be less effective than the best bands using this approach while at the same time becoming distracted with Dutchisms.

As the repetitiveness of the compositions is superficially blanketed with weak attempts of bringing disparate though sort of compatible Dutch muddyings, Siech never quite manages to get the listener past the atmospheric introduction phase. This work is only a stylistic dot in the landscape, the band does not quite manage to build actual compositions. The reader is encouraged to take Black Mark of the Lost Path over Total Filth, and the interested student to study the similarities and differences to develop a sense of what good black metal ought to be.

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47 thoughts on “Unholy Hope #1”

  1. Marc Defranco says:

    Damn man you actually dug deep and hit hard. All these tapes are ones that got NWN goers rock hard. Only issue I had was with this part “In 2017, very little else is as honest and ‘real’ as actual raw black metal.”

    To me raw black metal is a dumb ass term made up recently and pasted onto too many bands mashing xasthur and punk music together, and recording it onto what could be an old iPhone. Most may have the “raw” sound but are just playing some catchy ass dsbm that’s covered by the fuzz (not saying the bands you reviewed are). Seems like the next trend after war metal and Iceland DSO stuff

    The old demos of South American bands or old demos of forgotten Scandinavian bands. That’s the only shit I’d count as raw for sound and condition

  2. Rainer Weikusat says:

    This is all pretty terrible, Vaal easily being the best of it except that this as punk as it can possibly get. And punk is music for girls.

    Here two things I spent some time with in the recent few weeks. People locked in their memories can probably file one as Autopsy (terrible band, BTW) and the other as Burzum-clone but I’m not going to tell you which is which.

    One is a US death metal band whose first two demos (of this year and last year) a kindred spirit released on CD. The guitar player has an interestingly unique soloing style. I’ve been listening to this twice daily for the last week and that’s far above average. Main criticism would be that this always tends to be over much too quickly.

    The other is a German black metal band which has a self-released CD available. These are longer, journeying and somewhat epic tracks (the last one, mostly) with interesting (to me, at least) motiv development over all of the CD. It also takes some time getting used to (couple of listens) before the individual aspects stop sticking out as oddities and start to make sense in the context of the music. This is around 43 mintues and should really be listened to in one go.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va32K3CpcUI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9vX6b8SbAY

    You’re obviously completely entitled to hate both and I can’t stop you from misunderstanding this as a text about me for want of facilities for perceiving anything but people.

    1. death spiral says:

      Bands influenced by Autopsy are better than Autopsy, or at least Darkthrone is/was. Terrible band indeed.

    2. autist says:

      vim or emacs?

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        https://www.gnu.org/fun/jokes/ed-msg.txt

        Emacs, 4.4BSD vi, ed, never, ever vim.

        1. Someone needs to make a fork of vi called hvi+

        2. autist says:

          yeah all the dinosaurs in my office swear by their text editors as if they contained some spiritual significance, though that joke has already been made to the point of becoming a cliché.

          Maybe sublime text can’t be customized into an email client/toaster/gay porn media center, and maybe you’ll have to take your hands off the keyboard for some things, but it is still powerful and more importantly, intuitive.

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Some aspects of Emacs suck pretty hard[*] but it’s always in “distraction free” mode, ie, it never suddenly opens a window showing something completely different and while there is a complete WIMP interface, I (almost) never use that (the reason I don’t like vim is that – on some forgotten day – I mistyped something and suddenly found myself in front of a help screen — “What the fuck is that and how do I get my text back!?!” …).

            [*] Eg, the “remote editing death trap”: Assuming a buffer with unsaved changes, eg, accidental typos, visits some file loaded and saved transparently via ssh access to some other machine, the ssh connection silently turned into a blackhole and the editor is supposed to be exited. In usual GNU manner, this will first require answering a question if the file should be save (no), if you really want to exit despite the file wasn’t saved (I just said no, dammit) and then possibly hang until killed trying to auto-save the file over the dead ssh connection to a backup copy “just in case”. This can be interrupted by hitting ^G until the thing kindly takes notice but only to restart the cycle.

            Reply here to tell the world that you DON’T 111! care about something. It’s a great opportunity.

            1. it never suddenly opens a window showing something completely different

              I like that, and Windows/Mac should take notice. Never dump a new interface into a user’s typing stream. It penalizes the power user most of all.

              1. NO TOLERANCE, NO FORGIVENESS, NO REMORSE says:

                “power user”

                Has there ever been a gayer term?

                  1. The True Ränga (P.O.W.E.R.S.L.U.T.) says:

                    Right. You show me yours, I’ll show you mine

          2. There is a sweet spot in the middle. The GUI offers many advantages for certain functions, but a CLI is a good thing to have for others. The temptation is to do everything from the CLI because you never have to change interfaces, and at that point, you need mastery of a shell and a powerful tool that can manipulate files including by regular expression, unless you like blasting out shell scripts to do everything.

            In addition, many of us switched back in the day to using a text editor in preference to a word processor. Text editors tend to be smaller, faster, with fewer distractions and most importantly, more crash-resistant. With the latest incarnations of Microsoft Word, this is not a problem, and when you turn off many of the “wipers” it can be fun to write in Word, which is true for the first time since version 4.02, which I used on a Macintosh while listening to Deicide, Slayer and Sepultura.

    3. Marc Defranco says:

      Damn you don’t like Autopsy?

      1. Gonspiracy says:

        You know who also didn`t like Autopsy?…
        Euronymous.

        Coincidence?
        I think not.

        1. Marc Defranco says:

          I don’t care for euroboy so this is telling

          1. HessianMurdererOfBlackDeath says:

            Aarseth was a poser. He made some good music though.

            1. Marc Defranco says:

              Yeah for me I often separate art from artist. That’s how I enjoy movies with idiot celebrities. I don’t care who is considered poser or not, I look more for character in a person, true to themselves and all that shit

              1. in tha westside, suckdicks says:

                yeah I just saw a movie that handles that theme with profundity and grace its called The Emoji Movie required viewing for all hessians not even joking

          2. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Considering that he has been dead for 24 years, there’s little reason why anyone unrelated should care about him as person (despite the guy with the social affliction can’t understand this). As voice in Mayhem (that’s still a band which ceased to exist in 1991), that’s a different question.

      2. you're gay says:

        pretty soon all that will be left on this site is Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, prog rock and whatever Dan likes this week

        1. Rainer Weikusat says:

          I saw a live video of the reversed autopsy (“putting it all back together again”) featuring a Chris Reifert in a short fit of confusion whether or not he actually remembered the lyrics of the track he had just claimed to be playing before laughing it of “as if that mattered”-style a year or two ago. That’s not an attitude worthy of being subsidized.

          The band is musically halfdeath, anyway, and too much into superficial (1980s) “Shocker!” stuff.

          1. Saul says:

            I wish Chris Reifert appears in your dreams tonight. And shits on your face.

            1. Rainer Weikusat says:

              I think he’s perfectly ok with being what he is and probably doesn’t care for people who don’t want to buy that.
              At least one would hope so.

    4. Trashchunk says:

      I never read your replies

    5. Rainer Fanboy Club Captain says:

      I can’t wait to read a full post or article by you or one of your alter egos officially featured in this website!

    6. And punk is music for girls.

      Punk rock, definitely. Hardcore had the potential to be more interesting but produced only a handful of bands worth hearing. Underground metal followed that pattern, just with more abundance: a few insightful individuals got in there and made the canon, and almost everything since has been a simplified tuneless imitation, apparently.

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        As far as I know the hardcore story, it got overrun by brawny idiots a long time ago. I’ve also come to dislike the “with an attitude” attitude. As someone put it in a Terrorizer-review some time ago (paraphrase): After 40 years of punk, we end up with the exact same people accurately bemoaning the exact same social ills in exactly the same way. This strongly suggests that its mainly (meant to be) a self-referential show which depends on the very society it claims to reject for sake of its own existence.

        This here (the first track) is a nice, simple fantasy story I could perfectly live with,

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omvLch8Z1qk
        [seems to be the only recording of this track which is actually good despite the guitar player gets lost in the solo towards the end]

        weren’t for the less harmless and optimistic times we’re living in. I don’t want stage divers, slam dancers and people with funky haircuts all seeking to draw attention to themselves despite I don’t want to care about them for as long as the music is playing.

      2. Marc Defranco says:

        Only hardcore worth a damn is the shit from the 80s when it was called hardcore punk. Shit like GBH. Now it’s either dude bro overweight strongman shit, kids yelling about being in the suburbs or hadcore masquerading as other genres for music he aesthetic mainly metal. Shit like All Pigs Must Die and Black Breath complete garbage not worth anything

        1. Hardcore had a brief life. I can enjoy Amebix and Discharge, the Exploited in small doses, and of course worship the Cro-Mags. GBH and Blitz are also good, and who can forget Black Flag? But yes, like Rome the genre rose and fell, and after it blasted out its core ideas, was sort of lost as to how to build on them, a role which death metal and later black metal took over. All underground metal is half hardcore, but it dropped the later hardcore effete individualism and replaced its politics with an epic mythic-historical view of the world which was more concerned with philosophy than the flailing and failings of late democracy.

    7. No Jews Need Apply says:

      I hear ya, Rainer, there’s too much juden rottenness in all of this.
      Stay strong, brother.
      Power to the White Hand!

  3. neutronhammer says:

    Pretty informative, it’s almost not worth one’s time to sift through all the garbage to find something worthwhile

  4. S.C. says:

    Funny that you shit on Demoncy since they’re one of most highly regarded bands on this site.

    1. Linux Dumbledore says:

      They’re highly regarded because they tick all the boxes, there is nothing strictly rational to attack them for, hence they are ‘good’ by default, but the music really doesn’t do much. It’s the kind of band that boils down to personal preference in style choice. It is proficient minimalist metal, but it is not excellent.

      1. S.C. says:

        this exact criteria can be applied to any highly regarded band. What you just stated is the nature of subjectivity. I Just find it funny that you (if you’re the article’s author) make a point (there is no inherent reason they are relevant to this article) to mock a band that gets a lot of positive attention on this site.

        1. you're gay says:

          he wants you to pay attention

          1. S.C. says:

            I do! No need for want. My opinions on Demoncy or any other band are arbitrary, especially with regards to the point I’m trying to make: each reviewer here reviews metal, and music in general, with an objective voice, yet there is no unanimity among them as to what is good, let alone great. You’d think they’d want to make more an effort to be United in what they preach, particularly given the overwhelming authoritarian stance taken by the writers and commenters alike. But they prove in their articles that their attempts to create objective truths about art and reality are futile. They have no more “truth” than anyone. Just experiences that influence and dictate their reality and opinions which then become cemented in them, and then projected on to what everyone else’s reality really is. Of course, this is all speculation…

            1. each reviewer here reviews metal, and music in general, with an objective voice, yet there is no unanimity among them as to what is good, let alone great

              Welcome to nihilism. There are no universal or objective truths, only quality of instruments. Some reviewers see more in some areas than other people. This is why we teach culture through great books instead of coming up with a Red Book of required, formalized, systematic instruction.

              Wage of death, course of life
              Unsystematic birth of the Deicide

              1. NO TOLERANCE, NO FORGIVENESS, NO REMORSE says:

                Culture can only be described through writing, never taught.

            2. BlackPhillip says:

              So? I just think they recommend better music than other metal websites.

            3. Rainer Weikusat says:

              This reminds of a misconception of »tolerance« I (to my amazement) encountered when I had the mispleasure to (be forced to) interact with what most people here would probably calls »lefties« for the last time (and this particular lot was certainly an as unpleasant bunch of intolerant, holier-than-thou bigots as I ever encountered elsewhere), namely, that his would mean “all opinions are created equal and whether or not they actually make any sense and/ or are based on a truthful conception of reality must not even be discussed”.

              But this is wrong: I tolerate your opinion means “I will not resort to violent means to make you renounce it [publically]” not “It’s really as good as mine, who the fuck cares, that’s soo unfunny.”. People who are strongly convinced of the truthfulness of mutually contradicting propositions can coexist perfectly. That’s a sign of a healthy dose of “not eating the yellow snow[*] but using one’s own brain”.

              This also extends to listeners/ readers: There’s no prescribed path to salvation disciple mules can just follow without understanding in order to arrive in paradise (like the catholic church works, BTW) but they have to find their own way in an environment which requires them to make decisions as good as they can. Which implies taking the risks and responsibilities which go with that.

              To quote Nietzsche: Folge mir nicht nach.

              [*] From an interview in a old metalfanzine (of a band I don’t remember), the “message to readers”: Don’t just eat/ swallow everything. Editor commented “Especially not yellow snow”.

              [**] Literally: “Don’t follow me”. It’s probably rather “Do not seek to do as I did [because I did]”.

              1. You can’t interact with them. They view everyone who doesn’t agree with absolutely everything that comes out of their holes as subhuman scum.

              2. Instruments of Mental Torture says:

                ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’

    2. Only Anal is Real says:

      We must ever heed the mandates of the Lords of the ANUS!

    3. Seth says:

      I’ve always thought Demoncy was boring. The related bands Incursus (Ixithra) and Possession Ritual (Scorpios) are far more interesting, even if the latter is on shorter end. These works actually breathe, whereas I feel Demoncy has so many talented musicians with such differentiated visions, it’s like tying a a bunch of birds together and trying to get the whole mess to fly.

  5. 2Pacalyptic Raids says:

    Just stream the new Desecresy instead of listening to these:

    http://www.metallized.it/notizia.php?id=55237

  6. Attention Defecate Disorder says:

    much better than fashwave.

    but fuck off with this demoncy is boring bullshit.

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