Putrid Offal – Premature Necropsy (split w/ Exulceration) (1991)

At its most direct and well-calibrated, grindcore is a viciously effective medium for both emotional and corporal catharsis. But, as is often the case with experiential intensity, those equally delightful and terrifying moments seldom endure and will at best leave us grappling with a sensation of unresolved clarity. Whether or not this observation resonates with the reader, it may well be applied as an analogy for the grindcore phenomenon at large. Once a fortuitous offspring of hardcore punk and primordial death metal, early grindcore managed to tap into the deeper recesses of human discontent and paranoia and somehow channel this raw force into musical form. However, it didn’t take long before this short burst of essentially intuitive creativity gave in to rationalization and before anyone had realized it: game over.

The main point in case here would be Carcass. As have been previously chronicled on these pages, early Carcass lifted grindcore out of its self-inflicted musical and ideological circumscriptions with their debut Reek of Putrefaction (1988) —somewhat ironically, given its crude nature and presentation— before embarking on a steady slope into insignificance as the band got caught up with making music to please audiences. Since then, a veritable substyle has been founded upon Carcass’ earliest works reaching up to their third LP. Not surprisingly, the artistic results have been chiefly meagre because most successors have focused on mimicking style rather than the essential qualities of the music. Consider this in parallel to the poignantly limited musical palette of grindcore and a scenario takes form where novelty rather than substance is rewarded; because in a field where everything sound practically identical on the surface, the easiest way to gain notoriety is through aesthetic manipulation. Consequently, discovering worthy material quickly turns into a struggle of Sisyphosian proportions, as it requires extensive and often in-depth digging.

Unanimously forgotten by the metal world at large, Putrid Offal’s 1991 split LP with Exulceration comes across as a seemingly indistinctive affair at first glance. However, a deeper acquaintance with the material reveals this to be one of the more rewarding non-canonical works within the genre. Putrid Offal comfortably operates within a style somewhere between the first and second Carcass album if played with the intense rigidity of an early Napalm Death. Where the band excels is in a conjoinment of Reek of Putrefaction’s playful and frequently destabilizing nature with the more cogent and death metal-oriented riff sequencing witnessed on Symphonies of Sickness (1989). Riffs strive to expand beyond the simple chromatic patterns that has become a staple among grindcore acts. This allows the band not only to apply greater textural nuance to phrases, but also an opportunity to string riffs into sequences that defy binary modes of communication. While intensity remains as main focus throughout the playing time, both structure and riffology implies an undercurrent darker than what is usually expected of such a direct form of music.

Setting aside aspirations of petty “uniqueness”, Putrid Offal ironically enough belongs to the infinitesimal cadre of bands who’ve managed to expand upon the Carcass legacy.

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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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Fanisk: 2002-2013

Article by Doron Rosenberg

It would certainly not be far from the mark to say that Fanisk are the crowning achievement of “NSBM.” The limits reached by Eldrig’s sublime compositions, tempered by the conceptual direction given by Vitholf, far exceeded anything that came either from the “NS” or the “US” camps, altogether escaping the cliched definitions of either. That is, as music, Fanisk fits neither of the pseudo sub-genres in quesion, and only belongs to either by dint of their ideological sponsoring and geographical location. (more…)

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Kristallnacht – Blooddrenched Memorial 1994-2002 (2006)

Article by Doron Rosenberg

The present is the final compilation of all music released by “NSBM” band Kristallnacht. The importance of this release lies entirely on the fact that it is one of the few acts coming from said ideological background with any artistic merit at all. That said, Kristallnacht was always a band of modest musical means, making up for it with a subtle talent for suggestive melodies in lullaby-like triplet feels. As is “tradition” within these circles, the music aims at the formation of axis between melancholic longing, mystic elevation and disenfranchised anger. These are deeply connected to point of origin of everything that underlies the movement, explaining the very limited, usually embarrassingly poor resulting art —to which projects like Kristallnacht or Fanisk are an exception.
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Kataxu – Hunger of Elements (2005)

Kataxu play a style of black metal in which the keyboards appear to lead, while the guitars follow a complementary role that enhances and sustains. In maintaining activity in the melodic movement of the phrases, and a distinct harmonic progression between sections, Kataxu avoids relaxing on the guitar riffs avoiding a meandering feeling that is common to bands utilizing this type of approach. Guitars in distorted power chords are always behind the keyboards in the mix, but are given prominence in between sections or in certain passages in ways that enrich textural variety accross the pieces. Percussion is ever present, but one can rather sense their bulk in the spectrume, rather than actually hear drum patterns.
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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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Ectovoid – Dark Abstraction (2015)

In this age of musical saturation, noteworthy releases slip through the cracks as mediocrity bombards the average Death metal listener who prefers to remain within the well-defined boundaries of the classics of the genre. Some bands distinguish themselves the horde and create compelling works that while not classics are sincere and well-crafted pieces of music that deserve attention and that merit multiple listens. Very rarely do we see works of art crafted within this genre that can be compared on equal footing to the greats of the past in creating their own unique voice. Here at Death Metal Underground we have entered Sammath and Serpent Ascending into that category. Today we open the gates for Ectovoid and their release Dark Abstraction (2015).
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De Vermis Mysteriis / Azhubham Haani [Split] (1992)

Sweden’s Angramain’yo was responsible for various, interrelated black metal projects in that appeared in demos during the years 1991 and 1992. They were all rather primitive, clearly eschewing musicianship for musical elaboration on minimalist premises. In, Desentery, the artist appears focused on developing a clear structure for the crudest but expressive phrasal riffs, this flourished into the project for which he is mostly known: Azhubham Haani. The transition from the precursor to the actualized musical goal came in the form of a higher awareness of the ‘sound’ principle, utilizing structures to define areas of mood by variating texture, intensity as well as the vocal tone, the last within limited bounds. Somewhere in this journey we see the appearance of a singel rehearsal take from an alternate project called Daemonius. Contrary to the more dark cosmology of stars and blackened spaces depicted by the music and words of Azhubham Haani, Daemonius would rather attempt to formulate a mysticism of violent naturalism not unlike the spirit and musical approach of Ildjarn, however informed by the artist’s personality. Before serving prison for stabbing a man in the throat, Angramain’yo brought to our world the crown jewel of his underground metal achievements in the form of a veritable dark revelation: De Vermis Mysteriis.
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Parabellum – Tempus Mortis (2005) [Compilation]

Our commentary on the work of Parabellum must start by going beyond genre sectarianism that plagues genres, including that of so-called Colombian “ultra metal” back in the eighties. To begin with, Parabellum is arguably the originator of any and all musical contributions by said movement and style. That is to say, “ultra metal” is Parabellum. All other bands subscribing to this approach are seen to grasp only a fraction of the possibilities, with unique propositions that fell short by an apparent lack of insight of what the breaking of chains occuring here could lead to. Where the movement was clearly imitating the visible distinctive traits that Parabellum exibited, it was this band alone that cultivated twisted vociferations, stop-go hardcorisms and unconventional ways of utilizing caveman black metal riffs into compositions that were not only well-beyond their time, but which signal a timeless approach that could inform possibilities for the future of metal well into the 21st century.
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Reverorum Ib Malacht – Im Ra Distare Summum Soveris Seris Vas Innoble (2018)

The present album sees Reverorum ib Malacht moving towards more concise expressions of their by-now established sound and style. While now we see less of the separation and experimentation of approaches in instrumentation that circled around a definite sound and concept, the same are no condensed to concentrated moments and particles in the more standardized texture of black metal consisting of drums, guitars and vocals —with the important addition of synths and some programming. The end result is nonetheless highly differentiated and very much in line with the spirit of the project, as the implementation of the elements is dragged to functional extremes so that we find a music that is more accurately defined as dark ambient utilizing black metal “samples.” (more…)

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