Dawning – Mount Um + 1997 Demo (2016)


Another previously unreviewed record judged some of The Best Underground Metal of 2016.

Mount Um + 1997 Demo is a digital anthology collecting what Steve Cefala judged to be Dawning‘s strongest material. Half the run-time (“Side A”) is one new, extended track entitled Mount Um in three parts: “Pilgrimage to Umunhum”, “The Albino Bridge Sacrement”, and a melodic bass outro. Mount Um sounds like Summoning worshiping Emperor‘s In the Nightside Eclipse in a lengthy composition reminiscent of Celtic Frost‘s album work. Ambient fantasy keyboards are perverted into pandemonium as if on an arduous journey of great hardship and loss culminating in a bittersweet victory over the uncaring, vicious forces of nature. Mount Um‘s composition is progressive and profound.

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Demoncy – Faustian Dawn Reissue Out August 15th

Demoncy early 90s

Nuclear War Now! Productions announced that their remastered version of Demoncy’s Faustian Dawn demo from 1993 will be out on CD August 15th with LP two months later on October 15th. The sound was remastered by Ixithra himself and a new cover created by Chris Moyen. Expect a review from our staff shortly too.

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Desolation – Chorus From The Ruins (2008)

“Detail shows the face of Stela D which rises 12 ft beside the altar of sacrifice with a death god effigy. The stele represents the 13th ruler of Copán, King Waxaklajun Ub’aah K’awiil (in English, Lord 18 Rabbit), showing half of his face as it was sculpted, and the other half stripped as it would look in Death.”

“Detail shows the face of Stela D which rises 12 ft beside the altar of sacrifice with a death god effigy. The stele represents the 13th ruler of Copán, King Waxaklajun Ub’aah K’awiil (in English, Lord 18 Rabbit), showing half of his face as it was sculpted, and the other half stripped as it would look in Death.” – Akherra Phasmatanás

Article by David Rosales.

Desolation is a full-on ambient project that blends simple and solid harmonic backgrounds, repetitive phrases of a dark coloring, with recorded lamentations both human and otherwise. The aim seems to be to produce the whole array of impressions encapsulated within that single word: desolation. The music’s structure is progressive and appears to be segmented in an episodic manner, which normally implies a loss of continuity between sections. This unwanted effect is expertly avoided by providing smooth transitions, interleaving ambient soundscapes, nature sounds, vocal improvisations, all of which bring variety within a strongly directly concept that never loses content density or a strong sense of purpose. Furthermore, the album being simply distributed between two long tracks reinforces its unity and the requirement that the audience listens to the whole work as if commencing a mental journey, which once begun must be seen through to its very end.

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Garroted – In the Court of Nyarlahotep (2016)

garroted in the court of nyarlahotep

Article by David Rosales. Occasionally our staff have differing opinions on unpristine works from upcoming or past their prime bands. The editor’s sobering take on Garroted – In the Court of Nyarlahotep was presented in Sadistic Metal Reviews: Taste the Rainbow!

A modernist acoustic guitar intro, an undefined progressive death metal tirade, cavernous vocals and death-grind guitar tones. An exquisite Old School written all over it, and yet, the young Garroted manage to avoid becoming guides in nostalgia trips. Like Colombian Condor, Garroted takes the tools from the past and forges a future strictly on the loyalty to those traditions.

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Innumerable Forms – Frozen to Death (2012)

innumerable forms full

Article by Lance Viggiano.

Innumerable Form’s Frozen to Death is a compelling and brief release which recalls Dark Descent’s roster yet avoids the calculated, clean retro nostalgia trips that mires their outfits. Motifs follow in the Darkthrone tradition of John Carpenter managing menace on a Casio. The melodic component of Innumerable Forms is steeped in Finnish death metal which delivered mystical melodies that sounded as if they were being recited by a saw blade descending into steel. Here the effect greater resembles mental anguish as if one was forced to say, “Yes!” to an incomprehensibly vast and hostile existence. Frozen to Death distinguishes itself from its inspirations in this way.

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Serpent Ascending – The Enigma Unsettled (2011)

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Showing up on the metal radar somewhere between the third Therion album and the single release that Winterwolf put out, The Enigma Unsettled combines Scandinavian death metal with the more nuanced paces of doom metal and the subtler harmonies of instrumentally adept heavy metal. The result creates an atmosphere like a more listener-friendly version of Darkthrone Goatlord, building rhythmic intensity that it discharges through the unraveling of several threads of melody into a final statement of clarity and purpose. Guitars vary between death metal styled tremolo riffing and heavy metal style percussive offbeat riffs, creating a tension like a feral beast racing over land and through water, but these integrate similar rhythmic purpose and avoid the disintegration of song into component parts. Vocals take the hoarse and chanted approach, sounding like the calls of a demonic entity through a wall of distortion; these are probably the immediately recognizable weakest link. Inventive song structures, familiar riffs in new styles, and a tendency to have all parts of the song relate to each other and through multiple layers at the same time make this a well-sought listening experience for underground metal fans.

Terrorizer/Nausea – Split Demos (1991)

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For those who did not get a chance to own the original demo tapes, or simply desire them on a newer and more robust medium, this disc consisting of the Terrorizer demo from 1987 and the Nausea demo from the following year reveals the grindcore and punk giants at approximately the time when the classic World Downfall was released. These two bands share personnel, but take radically different approaches: Terrorizer adopts the angular riffing and cadenced percussion of metal, where Nausea keeps the syncopated guitar rhythms and open initial intervals of punk. For those who have heard the Terrorizer release, few surprises await on the demo, which essentially showcases the same tracks in a slightly less focused form with less vocal savagery. However, these songs also have more space to breathe, which makes this demo often a better listening experience than the album, which in the Morbid Angel style concentrates on hard-hitting tight composition and production, at the expense of some of the organic restlessness of the original.

Nausea on the other hand provides simply what every person wishes their punk bands would sound like, much as Slayer did the same for metal. This unruly music spills out of boundaries and transgresses every convention while remaining simple and keeping songs focused around a rhythm and vocal hook that makes them hummable while remaining savage. It sounds more militant than the Euro-punk of the day and more like the Cro-Mags from New York, but like a metal band zeroes in on the changes between riffs to achieve a kind of theatrical-Wagnerian effect, which takes punk from the verse-chorus loop into a kind of presentation that gives depth to its alienation. Full of energy and yet pointed toward a goal that is more personal artistic outrage than ideology, Nausea takes the basic outlook of punk and turns it up while making it more listenable than the spotty, erratic and often haphazard bands of the later punk era, or worse, the “post-hardcore” bands that combined random riffs in carnival music or dinner theater style.

Released as a split demo tape in 1991, these recordings see the light of day again with this 2012 CD re-issue by forces unknown. Sound quality remains good although thankfully the re-issue has not been remastered or had volume fiddled with in any way, which preserves the tone and room sound of these demos. This means the listener must adjust the dial; you suffer (but why?) because this is a better outcome than sterile reproductions which are more convenient but destroy depth of sound. These do not sound like a nostalgia trip, but more a journey inside the inner 17-year-old of every listener that likes intense music that sounds like it came from a garage or backyard party with a message that perhaps few will understand but many will enjoy.