Osi and the Jupiter – Uthuling Hyl (2017)

Osi and the Jupiter play a mostly acoustic ambient with synthetic overtones that borrows heavily from ancestral Nordic cultural remnants for its conceptual, and musical, orientation. In Uthuling Hyl, this takes the form of what we could call a European Pagan Drone music, with all that each of these words could imply by themselves and together. As European, it seeks that connection in instrumentation and tone to pre-traditionalist roots. As a Pagan affair, it is based on a numinous connection to surroundings, contemplative and wordless reflection, and an unfolding wyrd presencing a quality that has come to be known as ‘honor’. As all ambient, the music depends entirely upon its ability to very explicitly maintain a continuous flow of sounds that are not allowed the minimal digression. Thereby is a more esoteric teaching concealed in the construction and balance of the music itself, which is as all art should be. For in trying to bring to bear a connection human beings can have to nature when they place themselves within it with respect and devotion, the music also reflects how delicate this affair is, and how quickly it can all be burnt down by our hubris. In truth, it would take a mundane simpletone —or an utter imbecile— to relegate the experience presented in Uthuling Hyl to a debased utilitarian function such as serving as soundtrack to some ill-advised television show.

The hidden drone component here dictates that the variation of the elements must be done ever so slightly, taking care that texture and tone are gauged with due attention to craft. Texture is sustained while introducing and remaining particulars, relying on relatively abrupt changes in pacing or timbre only in very specifc cases and with a very specifc aim in mind. In general, and above all, the delicate fullness in unity that marks this work serves as a mantle for a whole cosmos in which organisms live a precarious existence but whose essence eternally flows. The patterns of said fabric are sewn by the threads of individual musical voices, surviving as they do mindlessly, but doing so only because their actions fit the pacing and balance of the whole. The endings of those existences are timely and waste not energy nor leave space unmarked. Sounds of worship and numinous contemplation permeate this summoned spiritual world. The cello parts by Kakophonix do not overimpose nor indulge, but enhance ekstasis, bringing an energetic waves that travel the landscape across darkened wood, mountain and sky. In the midst of this interpretation, the mournful, pleading vocalizations stand out as the human presence submerged, wailing, unnoticed in a sinisterly-numinous ocean of flowing forces in colossal dimensions perhaps quantified by some physicist, but ultimately undreamable by our daytime minds.

While all manifestation is One, we can highlight aspects or levels of it as they come to the fore of our impressions. In the case of Uthuling Hyl, this would be more unconscious vaporous tension, the watery flow of emotions that lie below reason and will. The humid web that holds things together here is ever so vulnerable, our transgressions the probable cause of dissolutions that are no crimes but mere effects to causes. The listener, the conscious human, intrudes upon this space, and a decision must be taken to coalesce or see it all dry up, and waste into cold —or perhaps burn up into merciless hatred and ambition. Such is the picture that Osi and the Jupiter reveal in pattern and spirit. As numinous worship, the present work calls for our knowing our place, and seeking our destiny; for our seeking a voice and power, for our evolutive ascendance, in a picture of our cosmos that finds beauty in bleakness.

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Mortum Eheieh Chaos (2017)

Mortum have by now focused, or rather reduced their approach to black metal to very specific kind of musical statements, manifesting in more prominent melodies and an overall stability. The first thing the listener may notice in contrast with The Rites of Depopulation (2011) is that texture is now kept constant, rather than having it change for the sake of variety of expression. (more…)

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Gorrenje / Infamous – Italian-German Black Metal Brotherhood (2017)

By now established as one of few post-nineties black metal acts worth saving for posterity, Infamous returns with yet another joint effort production on the Hammerbund label. Joining the bill is the somewhat amusingly christened Gorrenje, a band previously unknown around these quarters but apparently of a slightly older vintage than their Sardinian counterpart. As has earlier been the case, Infamous proves to be vastly superior to their collaborators and is therefore the one most worthy of our attention.
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Le berceau de Satan – Porteur de lumiere (2017)

Ahhh, Canada, America’s hat. And then there is Quebec, Canada’s ass-neck. Today’s band, Le berceau de Satan (Cradle of Satan) hails from the beautiful town of Sanguenay, Quebec. Looking at some pictures of the town and area, one would think that there is ample natural inspiration for an atmospheric black metal band. However, in the case of Porteur de lumiere (Bringer of Light), released this March, this is clearly not the case.

In honour of the confused, mish-mash presentation of the album, I will now present my review in the form of stream of consciousness.

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The Chasm – A Conscious Creation from the Isolated Domain – Phase I

Daniel Cochardo loves metal. It is no question- from his tenure fronting The Chasm, his work in Cenotaph and his contributions to the last above-average Incantation album Diabolical Conquest that the man is steadfast in his dedication to extreme metal.  Throughout his impressive library of work, we haven’t seen any indication of a wavering of passion or hints of selling out in any way.  What we however have seen is a middling assemblage of efforts that come close to sublime heights but ultimately fall short of the metal ideal. Therfore The Chasm has always flown a bit under the radar, consistently releasing material that has a unique voice commanding the charge but a lack of cohesion giving the music a timeless appeal.  With CCI, The Chasm ends their longest drought between records with an assertive gesture in the form of an instrumental concept album, and although that may hint at a rejuvenated band that is hungry to finally make the profound artistic statement they have always fallen short of, unfortunately The Chasm has given us a release more puzzling than declarative.

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Power Trip – Nightmare Logic (2017)

Every year we are treated to an endless amount of ridiculous lists.  It seems that any individual with the ability to express their opinions is obligated to share their Top 10 or top 20 metal releases that more often than not echo the same three websites.  The bands that enter such lists tend to come in two varieties: veterans rehashing the same ideas in a more streamlined fashion and those who trick their audience via the use of gimmicks and presenting a familiar product with slightly different aesthetics as the next big thing.  In these last two years, speed metal has conquered the number 1 spot of most of these lists.  Last year Vektor’s Terminal Redux ruled the metal lists by far with it’s melody derived from Voivod and the phrasings from Destruction’s Eternal Devastation all held together in long sloppily composed epics… ultimately resulting in an above average album but a strong move for the funderground.  This year, Texans Power Trip succeed in winning the “funderground 2017 award” with their second album Nightmare Logic.  The Speed metal revival movement has finally found its idols to guide it’s path of remaining in the past and offering the most faithful reproduction of late 80s speed/thrash.

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Abigor – Höllenzwang (2018)

Abigor are back with their 9th album, which is sadly a continuation of the ideas on Leytmotif Luzifer.  Hailing from Vienna in Austria, Abigor definitely have the style and look associated with their hometown but even in arguably their last bad work : Nacthymnen ( From the Twilight Kingdom) they have always lacked substance in comparison to the greats in the European black metal style.  Leytmotif Luzifer was Deathspell Omega worship with the remnants of what could be qualified as generic second wave black metal. Here they continue in that substanceless yet somewhat more refined method of songcraft….

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Ritual Chamber – Obscurations

Hidden in plain sight, there is some fine metal being released- even in recent years.  Nestled in the convoluted release schedule of one of the most popular indie rock labels (although in fairness, Profound Lore has gotten death metal right before) is a rare foray into dissonant death metal grandeur that is certainly worthy of praise.  The newest solo project by Numinas/Crom/Dario Denerio, whose well-ventured resume also includes Infestor, Khrom, and Evoken,  Ritual Chamber’s 2016 full length debut Obscurations (to Feast on the Seraphim) masterfully imports the lost wisdom of classic death metal spirit into a contemporary flesh of sound and production.  Suffering from poor marketing through mainstream channels and tired aesthetic trends that mask its originality, this cultured release flew well off the radar of the audience it was most suited for and was not digestible enough for the retro/rehash death metal crowd of hipster swine it mostly reached.  But although it initially evaded the underground’s most trustworthy mediums, Death Metal Underground’s undying commitment to unearthing the best in the genre now gives us a late opportunity to acknowledge a great work of elegance.
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