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Messages - Tree

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Metal / Re: Best METAL releases of 2016
« on: December 25, 2016, 08:02:04 AM »
Re-release: Maleficarum - Unblessed Vol. 1 (as long as the remaster has not ruined Across the Heavens).

Unfortunately, it has. Avoid this remaster.

Metal / Re: Best METAL releases of 2016
« on: December 12, 2016, 06:56:16 PM »
[edited] New music: Demon Bitch - Hellfriends. Exhilarating and memorable heavy metal with an idiosyncratic vocalist. Of the very few new releases to which I have listened, this one stands out the most. It's too rock n' roll for me at times and too emotional (for lack of a better word) at others, but my overall impression after five-ish listens is positive.

Re-release: Maleficarum - Unblessed Vol. 1 (as long as the remaster has not ruined Across the Heavens).

Metal / Re: A shift of focus from albums to songs
« on: December 12, 2016, 01:13:30 PM »
Indeed. I have always been reluctant to skip tracks because a voice in my head says, "you might be missing something," but listening to a song just for the sake of hearing it is a bit obsessive.

Metal / A shift of focus from albums to songs
« on: December 12, 2016, 09:37:47 AM »
Earlier this year, my review of Question - Doomed Passages was published on the front page of this site. I know that the review was imperfect, but I would like to expand on my opening statement: "The best albums are greater than the sum of their parts and provide the capability for listener immersion due to their length, but the song is still generally the most important and most fundamental compositional unit in death metal. Paying too much attention to atmosphere, musicianship, individual riffs, or other aesthetic and shallow (though important) qualities of an album can lead to overlooking compositional shortcomings, especially after the mind starts to fatigue or when listening to dense material."

My thinking was influenced by this post: http://rateyourmusic.com/list/Schopenhauer/selective_list_of_non_classical_music/
I feel comfortable claiming that on most metal albums, not all of the songs are essential. Some of the compositions are just inferior versions of the better ones: less memorable, less adventurous, less complete, more repetitive, etc. For example, I listened to Immortal - Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism a few times recently, and I have decided that if that album suddenly disappeared from existence, I would really only miss "The Call of the Wintermoon" and maybe "A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland." The other songs have enjoyable - even memorable - riffs, and I can tolerate them in the background, but structurally, they don't measure up to the aforementioned opening and closing tracks. Perhaps you will disagree with me about Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, but I use that example solely to illustrate a more general point.

Another example: I've also listened to Obliveon - Nemesis a few times recently. I really want to like that album, but my current opinion is that the first song stands well above the rest. How about a classic like Massacra - Final Holocaust? Yes, it's a fantastic album, but I would be lying if I said that "Researchers of Tortures" (despite its merits) gets my blood pumping as much as "The Day of Massacra" does.

Relating to the idea that not all songs are created equal, I will make two points:

1. I want metal musicians to cut the fluff. I would rather have an EP, compilation, or mixtape of worthy material than an inconsistent album, because the latter frustrates me and wastes my time. Artists with less than an album's worth of things to say should not pressure themselves to generate enough material to fill an entire LP. Artists should restrain themselves when choosing compositions to include on their releases. Quality over quantity.

2. I would like to see music reviewers devote more attention to the strengths and weaknesses of individual compositions (in addition to, not instead of, other aspects of their reviews). I can think of no justification for ignoring the songs, regardless of whether an album is 1. a collection of songs that contribute to an overall mood, atmosphere, or impression, 2. a meta-composition in which the different tracks relate to one another to form a whole that overshadows the parts in importance, 3. something in between, or 4. something else entirely. Discussing or trying to figure out what makes some songs exemplary and other songs unsatisfactory benefits both music listeners and any musicians reading a review. And personally, when I read a music review, one of the things that I want to know is the ratio of high quality music to superfluous music on a release.

It's possible that I am missing the forest for the trees. Any thoughts on this topic?

Audiofile / Re: Molested / Borknagar
« on: June 04, 2016, 09:39:56 AM »
Molested - Blod-draum (1995)

Molested - Blod-draum (Original master, Mega)

Audiofile / Withered Earth
« on: June 03, 2016, 09:15:46 AM »
Withered Earth
Withered Earth MP3s

Withered Earth - Forgotten Sunrise (1997)

Withered Earth - Forgotten Sunrise (Mega)

Metal / Re: Folk Metal
« on: April 22, 2016, 05:19:19 PM »
Thank you, Tree. I'll give serious attempt to your recommendations.
I haven't heard Baltic folk music yet, only Scandinavian folk music, and a tiny bit of Celtic music.

You are welcome. Don't feel any pressure to listen to all of the bands that I mentioned (or any of them at all for that matter, haha). I just wanted to express my thoughts completely.

Vikingligr Veldi is great black metal. I agree with you on that. I haven't heard Graveland, and I should probably listen to more Bathory...

Thousand Swords is the only Graveland album with which I am decently familiar. It has a hypnotic quality to it, and the combination of folkish music with hateful lyrics is fascinating (though I haven't decided whether it actually works well). On the other hand, the songs tend to blend together.

"I should probably listen to more Bathory" is a feeling with which I am familiar. Maybe my age is the reason, but I have trouble relating to or "getting into" any of the pre-Blood Fire Death albums.

Lunar Strain has some melodies which would be at home in a Scandinavian folk piece. One track on the album, "Hårgalåten", is literally an old folk tune from Sweden.

You mentioned the problems with In Flames yourself, and I agree. Lunar Strain is their best / least bad album, probably.
If they had gotten better instead of worse after it, maybe they could have been a good band.

I did not know that about "Hårgalåten", but the fact that an actual folk song fits with the rest of the material supports my proposition that they should have written a folk album instead of a metal album. My favorite In Flames material is probably the Subterranean EP, except for the emo lyrics. I think that the songwriting there is better than on Lunar Strain. I also still find The Jester Race somewhat enjoyable, maybe as a vestige of when I was first discovering metal, but I don't think that there is much - if any - deeper meaning in the music of In Flames.

Metal / Re: Folk Metal
« on: April 20, 2016, 05:57:53 PM »
Some styles of metal would probably not work well with folk music. Heavy metal and black metal seem like the best candidates to me. I think that an attempt to musically speak about the things that metal and folk music can have in common would result in the metallic parts resembling either heavy metal or black metal.

I agree that heavy metal and black metal are the best templates for folk metal, though I cannot elaborate why. Perhaps because the former is the most "righteous" and provides the most room to accommodate folk melody, while the latter is the proudest and fiercest.

Are there any folk metal bands that you think are good? Let me know why you like a band that you like. And if no band appeals to you, dissect a shitty one and explain why it's bad.

I would point to Bathory - Hammerheart, Enslaved - Vikingligr Veldi, and Graveland - Thousand Swords as early successes of metal with a folkish spirit. Bathory is more anthemic, Enslaved more introspective and mystical, and Graveland more martial and hateful, but the three have a common "folk-like" feeling that I have trouble describing in words at the moment. Maybe it's the sense of prideful righteousness and triumph in the music. Maybe it's the larger-than-life feeling that they convey, suggesting that oft-overused word "epic." Maybe it's that certain bounciness or even danceable quality in some of the rhythms. Hammerheart is worth special mention because I think that it had a lot of influence on many bands that followed.

Storm and Otyg had a style that appeals to me on paper, and it sounds nice, but it doesn't actually hold my interest for some reason. On the other hand, I find Isengard - Høstmørke very captivating (particularly the first half of the album). It is so...righteous, for lack of a better word, and almost danceable, and I really enjoy Fenriz's prideful singing (Wongraven - Fjelltronen has that singing style too, but that is pure folk music).

The Baltic countries spawned a couple of excellent albums from musicians who felt the metal spirit kindled in their breast, namely Skyforger - Zobena Dziesma and Zpoan Vtenz - Gimę Nugalėt, but these albums are more or less pure folk music. Traditional folk music has a strong presence in Baltic cultures, so it is not surprising that these musicians, who probably grew up reciting old folk tunes, excelled in this area. The Skyforger album is incredibly inspiring and uplifting with its sense of nobility, honour, loyalty, courage, and general manliness, and for me it has a timeless quality. The Zpoan Vtenz album is very emotionally deep, and as a result it can be too gloomy for me, but maybe I am misinterpreting the tone of the music. For metal compositions by these musicians, I would suggest investigating Skyforger - Kauja Pie Saules, which though secondary to Zobena Dziesma is still of high quality, and maybe Ha Lela - Pabudimas and early Obtest (I am not very familiar with these last two).

Some resources for exploring traditional Baltic folk music:
Latvian folk music radio station: www.radiooira.lv
Baltic folk YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/KaukusPameskiet

In Flames - Lunar Strain is quite folky sounding, and I find it somewhat endearing, but I am a younger fellow who came to metal through melodeath, so I am pretty forgiving with this kind of stuff. I can understand if this music makes more veteran Hessians want to vomit. Admittedly, the songs don't go anywhere and the music is definitely too sweet sometimes, and those qualities are problematic in a metal context, so I think that this album should have been written as folk music instead. The choice seems logical, given that acoustic guitars and violins are already present.

Concerning the more mainstream variety of modern folk metal, I find most of it to be formulaic, rock-based, excessively saccharine, and shallow in content (as opposed to deep / heavy), with the folk elements feeling like insincere appendages that provide little more than novelty. For how "epic" the artists try to sound, the music is compositionally unadventurous and awfully cheesy. Regarding cheesiness, personally I do not have a problem with jolly or jubilant music, but it has its place. Upbeat or "happy" sections must be employed tactfully, especially in metal music. Furthermore, the music loses its credibility as soon as it loses its seriousness (music can be jolly without being a joke).

One modern band that stands above most folk metal groups is Moonsorrow. My opinion of them has waned, but some of their qualities that appealed and still appeal to me are: Their music has a large presence both in the moment and in terms of the scope / breadth of compositions; the songs are focused (they hold together as single visions); the songs flow smoothly; the music sounds wintry and possesses a certain elegance; and the tone is triumphant / victorious / euphoric / celebratory (though some of their music is dark). There are some legitimate criticisms of their music:
1. The music is too upbeat and cheesy. This is a common complaint about the genre, and if most folk metal bothers you for that reason, then the first three Moonsorrow albums will probably bother you too (though personally I do not find their music offensive, unlike that of many of their peers).
2. The music resembles rock in a bad way sometimes, in the sense that the "big" sound can end up resembling stadium rock.
3. The songs develop too slowly and never go anywhere in particular / never reach proper climaxes. Some people have described Moonsorrow as boring because of this. As trystero commented in another thread, "They drag on for far too long about not much at all. The aesthetic is very pleasant, some of the riffs are nice. It makes good background music."
4. The lyrics are too vague to be evocative, but this could be an issue of translation into English.

Notwithstanding these criticisms, I think that Moonsorrow is compositionally far superior and heavier in content than most of today's "folk metal." Grouping them with Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, etc. is a mistake, because they are in a different league. Sure, Moonsorrow is on tour with Korpiklaani right now, but as stated in this interview, "As far as the bands we like to tour with, the actual music doesn’t matter as much as the people. Because, we have to be on the same bus for a month so we really have to get along (laughs). [Korpiklaani] are an ideal partner because they are different music from us, but we feel it is the other side of the same coin. We do have some of the audience in common. I like their live shows; I’m not saying I like their music on the album, but we like their live shows."

Moonsorrow's formula is a heavy metal one, though their personal taste for black metal is occasionally evident. Their first album, Suden Uni, suffered from some goofiness and inconsistencies in tone and lacked a strong sense of individuality, but I would argue that they probably mastered the modern folk metal style on their second album Voimasta ja kunniasta, meaning that that is the most that can be accomplished with the style. After that, Moonsorrow made their most overtly rock album with Kivenkantaja. They then returned to more of a heavy metal style, but they explored territory that ostensibly separated them from their peers; their music became darker and very compositionally ambitious. Some Moonsorrow songs to try are "Sankarihauta" or "Kylän päässä" from Voimasta ja kunniasta (though if you are wont to think that folk metal is cheesy, these songs will not change your mind), "Raunioilla" or "Unohduksen Lapsi" from Kivenkantaja, and "Karhunkynsi" and "Muinaiset" from their newer style.

Moonsorrow, Skyforger, and Fenriz have all expressed, or at least implied, dissatisfaction with the state of folk metal today and that folk metal was better before it actually existed / solidified as a genre, back when only a few bands were attempting such a style.

One tangential style of music worth mentioning is the "dark folk" employed on albums like Empyrium - Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays and Weiland, Tenhi - Kauan, and Vàli - Forlatt. This is a nocturnal, pensive, slightly sorrowful, mostly instrumental type of acoustic music that is likely to appeal to metal fans with its romantic spirit and evocations of the natural world. It provides an outlet for some emotions that would be inappropriate in a metal context, its subtle catharsis and soothing effect working beneath the soft sounds.

Is folk metal as a style capable of producing great music, or is it a flawed genre?

In general, folk music and metal exist for different reasons, express different truths (or different aspects of the truth), and serve different purposes, so they are best kept separate. Folk metal is a hybrid creation that can never fill both roles. That being said, great folk metal is possible (see examples above), but it is a flawed genre as long as metal musicians relegate themselves to darkness and evil and alienate themselves from the notion of goodness in humanity. This is why folk metal tends to proliferate in regions where senses of traditional culture, national pride, and loyalty to one's family and one's people are strong (e.g., the Baltic countries, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, etc.): Traditional folk music is an expression of jollity and purity of spirit, and of beauty of culture, and therefore it is an expression of light. Therefore, metal has to move beyond the darkness in order to incorporate that light. Yet this is not really moving "beyond" so much as moving "back," or rediscovering an ancient expression of truth. Or maybe it's both at once.

Note: Edited Moonsorrow section on 22/04/16.

Metal / Re: If you still read or use these forums post here
« on: December 22, 2015, 12:19:04 PM »
I read/use these forums regularly.

Metal / Re: Sacramentum - Far Away From the Sun
« on: December 14, 2015, 10:29:01 AM »
I'd definitely recommend Vinterland's Welcome to my Last Chapter.  Abigor's Nachthymnen is also great if you haven't listened to it already.  They both capture the freezing melancholy atmosphere of bands like Dissection and Sacramentum.

My initial impression of Welcome My Last Chapter was that Vinterland really abused the typical emotional / epic chord progression. That chord progression, combined with copious blast beats, gave the impression of something grand and climactic, urgent and epiphanic, but the music came across as one-dimensional and somewhat empty. Their emotion seemed to lack a point or a context.

I have not heard Nachthymnen, so I cannot comment on that album, but I would recommend the song "Universe of Black Divine" from the first Abigor album to fans of Far Away from the Sun. I think that that song is very well structured. I have heard the rest of Verwüstung but I don't remember much about it, other than thinking that some of the songs were disorganized and / or too emotive. I would like to listen to that album again.

Regarding Far Away from the Sun, I think very highly of tracks 1-3 and 5. I have found the other songs to be less inspiring and I usually get bored during the second half of the album; the other songs are good, but maybe not of the same caliber as the listed ones. My tentativeness in writing off the other songs suggests that all of them attain at least some level of quality, and that this album deserves more exploration, but I do think that the four aforementioned tracks as an EP might be more fulfilling than all nine as an album. Perhaps it is a question of organization: "Obsolete Tears" usually sounds flat and uneventful to me, but that might be because it follows the blistering and emotional "Cries from a Restless Soul." Furthermore, one of the aspects that I like about the first few songs is their fury and momentum, but the album seems to lose some steam after track 5. Some of the later songs sound tired at times.

One of the only albums that has captivated me in a way similar to Far Away from the Sun is Witchcraft, by Obtained Enslavement. The two albums have different spirits and styles, but they share a majestic character, a certain fury (not unlike a snowstorm), a sweeping melodiousness that does not degenerate into the stereotypical, and some songs that are as smooth as butter.

Audiofile / Re: Evoken
« on: November 25, 2015, 12:19:18 PM »
Evoken - Promo 2002 (2002)

Evoken - Promo 2002 (Senditz, dead link)

Audiofile / Obtained Enslavement
« on: November 25, 2015, 12:00:39 PM »
Obtained Enslavement
Obtained Enslavement MP3s

Obtained Enslavement - Centuries of Sorrow (1994) [ CD $20 / Discogs ]

Obtained Enslavement - Centuries of Sorrow (Senditz, dead link)

Obtained Enslavement - Witchcraft (1997) [ MP3 $9 / Discogs ]

Obtained Enslavement - Witchcraft (Senditz, dead link)

Obtained Enslavement - Soulblight (1998) [ Discogs ]

Obtained Enslavement - Soulblight (Senditz, dead link)

Audiofile / Re: Requests/Report Dead Links
« on: July 11, 2015, 10:12:44 AM »
I would like to request Fanisk - Noontide.
And maybe Withered Earth - Forgotten Sunrise.

edit: Looking for the original master of Skepticism Stormcrowfleet.

Interzone / Re: [META] Activities of our users
« on: May 02, 2014, 03:46:53 PM »
Hessians behold! I have crafted a piece of music, and I desire your feedback.

Download here (MEGA). Includes gp5 and rendered mp3 files. I still have no access to musical equipment, so enjoy the computer's flawless performance :P

black/death metal "epic":

I enjoyed this quite a bit!

Metal / Re: What bands are you listening to today?
« on: April 24, 2014, 10:15:57 PM »
Incantation - Onward to Golgotha. Just as splendid as when I first heard it. This album has that eternal quality about it. The best of the best!

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