I've said this mainly times, but I'll say it once again. The Chilean Metal scene is some of the truest and best current underground Metal scenes, despite not being one of the most mentioned ones. Guys there still stand very close to the original ideas of what the extreme side of Metal represented and, since some of their bands such as Communion, Unnausprechlichen Kulten, the mighty Force of Darkness or Wrathprayer got the attention of foreign labels, more bands are finding a way to take their music out of their borders.
It is the case of Deathwards, a young five-piece formed in 2017 who signed with Irish Metal bastion Invictus Productions for the release of their first demo cassette. In their line-up, taking the vocal duties, we can find Mr. Rodrigo V. (aka Hellavenger), who played guitars for the Communion cult on their 'Demo I' and amazing first self-titled EP, as well as Mr. Ricardo Tilleria (aka Extravasation), member of Thrash-mongers Executed.
What these four Metal-warriors offer on their debut tape is a very solid and furious Death-tinged Thrash Metal in the old-school way. Among the influences they summon (and some others I have found quite obvious) are first era Slayer, Sacrifice, Infernal Majesty, early Pestilence and Death, with an extra added technical dose of what other bands such as Sindrome, Sadus or Obliveon (and maybe even Deceased) added to the genre. Pure and unadulterated Metal savagery of the kind it is quite hard to find nowadays despite the whole Thrash Metal trend.
And, to be honest, the result is pretty damn good. There's a ton of good riffs masterfully crafter by Extravasation and The Usurper, played with both extreme rage and precision, and with a good balance of heaviness and razorsharp melody. Hellavenger's vocals are actually pretty close to the god Van Drunen, with a slightly less raspy edge, especially when it comes to the catchiness. And, last but not at all least important, The Magus and The Penance form the extra-punching bass and drums base that gives such goddamn fondements over which the band can build the bulldozing beast Deathwards is.
No matter if the demo is only five tracks long. Just look and the incredible opening with "In Death I Become" and its possessing lead, the extremely fast and blazing "The Hierarchist", with its Tech-laden bass, "Epitaph from the Underworld" and that punishing mid-tempo breaking the melodic speed frenzy, which later on becomes quite creepy, and the final "Impending Prophecies", with an incredibly catchy and headbanging rythm that is doubled by the brutal double bass and which later on takes a pretty epic grandiose tone to close it with a last burst of Slayer-esque savagery. Did I say final? No way. Because they close the demo with a cover version of Infernäl Mäjesty's "Overlord", and they fucking nail it (especially Mr. The Penance kicking his kit). A pure thrashing delicacy to put the icing on the cake.
Sound-wise, the recording is definitely accomplished for a first release and taking into consideration this is a demo. It's actually quite fucking professional. It's actually pretty clean for what bands of similar genres tend to choose, but it actually great to discern every details of the many these songs have, without loosing any rawness at all. It's simply above many productions being considered as albums.
There's very few post-nineties Thrash bands I can think of that possess such a raging intensity, and Hypnosia would obviously come to mind. But Deathwards are on that same path, and despite they still have a long way to go, their debut is pretty damn amazing. Let's hope they make it to a full-length, because I'm quite sure they would leave some ripped jaws, deaf ears and broken cervicals.
The cult of the caveman came back this year, after three releases between 2014 and 2016, 'Rituals Of Savagery', 'Savage War is Destiny' and 'Barbaric Bloodlust', which had a huge impact in the most savage side of the Black/Death Metal scene (and which need an urgent re-release as they sold out pretty quick).
Their new 10" (I love this format) is presented by a very primitive cover done by Warhead Art from Ukraine, which mixes a hunting party cave painting with their two huge spike clubs, a perfect presentation for their noise. And the 10" is single-sided, having a etching on the B side with the same design as the inner sheet, where a pair of werewolves armed with spike clubs remain on the top of a pile of corpses.
On the musical side, nothing has changed too much from their previous outputs, and I'm sure you didn't expect nor desire that to happen if you already enjoyed their apocalyptic tunes. But it becomes pretty clear since the very first track (of the four) and the 12 minutes of music included on 'Supremacía Primordial' that they will not stagnate either on the exact same phormula without giving it a new twist. Intensity is present from start to finnish, there is no place for breathing, and the production definitely puts them at the top in this matter. Guitar and bass sound is so dense that it creates a fucking wall of low distortion absorbing everything around it, and still reveals a great bunch of good riffs, (and great bass lines) aggressive and absolutely crushing, but also very catchy (in a way that can easily make me think of Archgoat), unlike so many copycats in the genre that do not even know how to correctly copy the way of the creators of this bestial path. And Alvar Antillon has a very impressive way of vomiting his warlike invocations. I actually find his vocal lines incredibly strong and possessing on this recording, and also like the fact thay his tone varies a bit between pure caveman growls and disgusting screams.
On the percussion side, I could easily say you can find the most important element of the band. The guy behind the drum kit is none but Rick Smith (Torche, Shitstorm), which might be a surprise for those who didn't know yet, but shouldn't be for those who have seen him behind his kit and witnessed how savagely he punishes his kit with Torche (I remember him jumping from his seat before smashing the snare at Hellfest 2009). His blasting is totally unrelenting, with a slightly different/personal approach in comparison to what you can usually find in the genre. Which probably has to do with a more evident Grindcore influence in the faster parts. Although "not so fast ones" are in the classic vein of the genre (Blasphemy, Conqueror), blasting at a mid-pace skull-smashing pace. I've read some complaints about the drum sound on this record, and I can't really see what is the problem here, it snare might sound a bit upwards in comparison to the rest, but that's perfectly fine to give that sense of absolute devastation.
They are definitely the only band I can think of who can stand up to the standards of current masters of the genre such as Revenge or Heresiarch, although at the same time they have their own personality, despite the very straight-forward and unilateral approach of their sound.
Barbarism returns, and it does from the state of Florida. The Caveman Cult is one of the most brutal and unmercyful units of the genre, and they only need these four tracks to make it loud and clear. Put the volume at maximum level, push the repeat button, and start smashing skulls until your arms and your ears bleed.
On the announment of their last batch of releases, Norwegian label Terratur Possessions presented a project that inmediately caught my attention. A sort of collaboration between several entities of the Black Metal scene that released previous works through the leading labels of the Orthodox side of the genre, and that their label presents as “the soundscape of disembodiment through their perspective”. 'Ekstrophë', the Greek work entitling this musical collaboration, means to draw out or extract the inner nature, and I think it's a good way to present this sort of compilation, as it gives a very representative and clear idea of all the included parties. but at the same time, especially for some of them, it gives a purer or less adorned vision of their music.
After an organ intro, Finnish Devouring Star open this record with an amazing track, entitled "Mors Invicta", a lot heavier and less complex that what we could hear on their debut with a certain Death Metal flavor. Great pounding riffs, with a very low tunning, possessed deep vocals and a crushing drum work with mid tempos that could remind of some (cleaner/more modern version of) Ride for Revenge patterns mixed with fast blastbeats. All in all, I could think of the slowest Aosoth (with a less complex/dissonant touch) or Iceland's Zhrine, while the Deathspell Omega influence (that was so blatant on their debut) becomes less obvious. And yet, they still have their own vision and they create an absolutely haunting atmosphere, which is helped by a titanic production that hits you to the floor from start to finnish. Great way to open the record, probably my favorite contribution to this collaboration. And I can't wait to hear their new album.
Flagellant are a Swedish trio who has already released two albums through World Terror Committee. I actually remember reviewing one of them years ago, I don't remember which one however, but my memories on their music were still correct. These guys take the orthodox influenced path step by step, without any diversion. Their track, "Great Illuminating VOID Awareness", is heavily inspired by the teachings of Dissection, Mayhem and early Watain, with good dissonant and evil melodies over mid-paced catchy riffs and, despite contributing with absolutely no new ideas to the genre, they deliver some strong and very enjoyable sinister melodies and possessing riffs. And also a very remarkable composition in terms of the song progression. Strong song, buy maybe the less original contribution on this record.
Closing the A side of the vinyl we have Arfsynd, the personal project of Mr. Perditor from Orcivus. This band's first album (released on Daemon Worship Productions in 2010) didn't catch my attention sufficiently to get the second one three years later. Their track, "Flesh of God", also has a very Swedish melodic Black Metal vibe, with a slightly darker and rawer approach that can easily make you think of first Marduk or Nefandus. I especially like the despair and disgust their music and, especially, the vocals of Perditor emit. Also the fact that their pace, despite moving on the fast side of things, does not become too much blasting and flows more naturally. And when they reach the slowest part of the song then it becomes even more devilish. There isn't much more past that, Their limits are quite enclosed, and I don't think they pretend to go over them. But it's pretty good for a single track like this one, and it definitely made me think about revisiting their old stuff or at least expect more if they decide to release new recordings.
Switching the side of the LP, I find Dutches Ibex Angel Order (previously named Funeral Goat), a new band for me, who also (in the case of both incarnations) released one record under Daemon Worship Productions. Both members of the bands are also involved in Abysmal Darkening, who I actually like quite a lot. Anyways, focusing on their track, named "Abraxas Rises to be Crowned", what these guys deliver here is fast Nordic Black Metal of the second wave with a good balance of rawness and intensity. Think about a mix of Mayhem and early Immortal, with some of Darkthrone's ideas, and you will nail it. The most remarkable would definitely be the excellent job of their drummer, who doesn't stop blasting all the way through the song, and the vocals, which sound especially possessed.
Next in line are the almighty Dødsengel, a band that has had a big impact in the Black Metal scene of the last years, which still surprises me due to how experimental and personal their approach is (and by that I do not mean at all they don't deserve it, quite the opposite actually), as well as how they adapt it to every situation. In this case, they start with a very cold and Industrial-like monotonous part which then mutates into an entity dominated by dissonance over mid tempo drums combined with melodic fast parts. That is the field over which they choose to develop "Arcane Slumber", a song that has a lot straighter and rawer approach than their last record. The inclusion of a layer of vocal choruses gives it an slightly ritualistic dose, but it still sounds cruder and more morbid than I would have expected, and I really appreciated the surprise.
Chalice of Blood, another new name for me, hailing from Sweden and who have only released a demo, three split EP's and an EP so far, migh probably be the most surprising of the bands I discovered on 'Ekstrophë'. They do not surprise too much with their, again, highly Swedish Black Metal influenced dose of musical devil worship. But they did manage to possess me during the seven minutes of fast melodic rawness and profound reverb loaded vocals. Imagine a mix of first era Marduk, Dissection and Watain, and you can make no wrong assumptions.
The Ambient/noisy soundscapes that can be found in between the songs were created by Black Majesty & The Temple Of The Erythran Current, and they help giving the whole a great additional dose of cohesion, despite the different approaches and sounds that can be found on the record.
On the visual side, I can only say everything looks absolutely top-notch. From the cover to the layout, and especially the fact that they included a different drawing to accompany each of the songs lyrics (all managed between Cold Poison, Ubertragic Art and . The whole presentation accompanies the musical side exceptionally well, and gives an extra reason to get this beautiful piece of art.
Nachash, a symbol of power and chaos, literally meaning serpent in Hebrew, with strong ties to evil and representing the entity that tempted Eve (among other interpretations). But also a very fitting name for this Metal power trio from Oslo who, after a first EP released on Unborn Records in 2015 on cassette (and CD and vinyl on the two following years), teamed up with Shadow Kingdom Records from the USA (usualy more focused on more classical/less extreme sub-genres of the Metal spectre) to release their first full-length album.
In their ranks we find Mr. Kenneth Tiller, who's experience and dedication in regards to the extreme Metal underground have been extensively proved both managing Apocalyptic Empire Records (it's hard not to have some of his releases in your collection if you follow the Black Metal underground and buy vinyl) and playing in the now sadly defunct Celestial Bloodshed, although the brain and soul behind the music of Nachash is actually Mr. A (also playing in a certain Death Metal band called Brainshock), who composed all the music and lyrics, and takes care of guitars and vocals, leaving the bass duties for an unknown Mr. R.
If something can be easily mentioned about these Norwegians, it is the fact that their blend of Black Metal does not sound Norwegian at all (their bandcamp profile states "Deathly Black Metal band from the pits of Oslo, Norway striving for a unique sound far removed from the generic cesspool of 'TNBM'. No corpsepaint, no gimmics, no compromise."). Their label mentions Grand Belial's Key, Ares Kingdom, Mortuary Drape, Varathron, and Sacriphyx as their influences on the promotional note of this record. And they're perfectly valid. Just as valid as could be (mid era) Deströyer 666 (for the perfect mix of razor-sharp riffs and warlike epic melodies, and the easiest comparison to their music in my opinion), Vulpecula, a simplest Stargazer (for both the vocals and riffs on "Apex Illuminous" and "Vortex Spectre") or Armoured Angel. Don't take me wrong though. The fact that I previously mentioned so many band references does not make their music a mere copy of those bands nor less interesyting. It's actually the opposite, great references/similitudes because of how high their music reaches.
Which means a crushing dose of riff-laden Blackened Metal growing from the roots of the old-school Metal underground (no matter if we speak about Speed/Thrash or Death/Black) with a foot in the past and an eye on the future of this renewed genre. Nothing less, nothing more. 'Phantasmal Triunity' pushes forward the Metal part of their genre labelling. Guitars take the absolute lead and they do it in a very dragging way, keeping a pretty heavy and catchy pace, with an eighties vibe, but never pulling down the intensity and strength that fills their music from start to end of this recording. And believe me, the riffs are definitely worth of praise, nothing but memorable, combining a simple rythm to focus your attention with a multi-layered depth that creates a wide enough atmosphere to make you fly, with an epic touch that is always present. And with the help of a super compact bass and drum team with lots of double bass walls, that take you by force and fucking crush you to the ground.
If the music wasn't enough, they worked hard to make it sound in the best possible way. They recorded and mixed the thing at Roffsound Recordings with Vegard Liverød. And the mastering was managed by Tom Kvalsvøll (formerly in Dodheimsgard and behind mastering of a lot of great records such as 'For All Tid', 'Nouveau Gloaming', 'Min Tid Skal Komme' or all Virus records, just to name a few examples). The result is raw, organic and sharp like a razor's edge, but sufficiently clean to appreciate every detail of their melodies. The drum sound is very powerful and natural, which gives their music an extra dose of strength. and the vocals have that slight touch of reverb that makes them sound like coming from another dimension.
Add to this a very fitting non-clichéd and mysterious cover, created by R.K.V. (which I guess is Mr. Kristian Valbo of Obliteration and Void Eater fame, among others) that combines bloody red and electric blue in a scene that, despite it's simplicitiy, made me rack my brains looking for it's right meaning every time I grabbed the vinyl sleeve.
Fantastic and unexpectedly pleasant surprise from the old capital of the Black Metal scene. An absolute must for those who like their extreme Metal loaded with old-school magic, rabid darkness and an epic touch. And another band I will keep an eye on in the future. Absolute top stuff for this year. Ugh!
Jyotiṣavedāṅga is the confluence of some of the most warped and extreme minds in the current Metal underground of the Oriental side of the globe. It actually makes a lot of sense to find a gathering of such musicians, despite the distance of thousands of kilometers between the places of origin of their four members. I'm speaking about Sadist (Deathmoor, SS-18, Goatpsalm, Tetragrammacide) from Stavropol, Horth (Sickrites) from Azov, AR (Banish) from Kolkata in India and Dimitry Kim (Sickrites, Goatpsalm, Do Skonu) from Ukraine.
I missed these guys debut, 'Cannibal Coronal Mass Ejections', when it came out, despite the great comments I read about them (as also happened with other Cyclopean Eye releases I'd like to have a listen to now). I probably didn't give them too much attention because, despite I have a real appreciation for the most bestial and noisy sounds in the extreme Metal genre, I also find quite a bunch of bands excusing their lack of ideas and musicianship into adjectives such as chaotic, noisy or bestial, so I tend to tread more or less secure ground and stick to the bands/labels I more or less know about. But it was a mistake in this case. Obviously, one thing I missed was who was filling the ranks of this new beast, as that would have changed my focus quite easily, given that Sickrites is, next to Pseudogod, the absolute best the Russian scene has offered in the last decade, and 'Irreverent Death Megaliths' is a real monster.
Anyways, when I saw Larval Productions would take care of this release, I was even more convinced on the need to check it, as their roster is, despite its small scale, very well envisioned and focused on some of the best acts of the most savage Metal sub-genre. And actually, on a first and superficial approach, Jyotiṣavedāṅga have everything you could expect/desire from the standard Bestial Black/Death Metal sound. You know, chaotic and grinding blasting shots of diabolical savagery in a monumental wall of sound and noise: low-tuned guitars flagellating you like razors, growling possessed vocals and high-bpm'ed blastbeating drums.
They definitely share something in common with bands such as the first Bestial Raids and Axis of Advance, Conqueror, Blasphemophagher ... Maybe their sound has a slightly more Death Metallized edge than most of the bands they are related to in terms of style, that could sometimes remind of early Incantation in a more grinding form (something like a simpler version of Impetuous Ritual maybe?). I can even hear some slightly more modern riffing in one or two of the songs on this records that come close to some SickRites ideas or made me think about a faster (early) Bölzer.
And still, there's even more to grasp behind that first layer pure extreme Metal. Their compositions are quite rich and varied, tending to that raw and savage blasting chaos, but also compensating it with some more atmospheric synth layered parts. There also some details that distance them from the more orthodox bands in their style. They have some weird or slightly different ideas on how to handle topics like atmosphere and ambience. Starting by introducing ambient-like passages through keyboard fields in between the tracks, which could bring them closer to the pure Black Metal genre or even to the Dark Ambient scene (although mentioning Darkspace amidst their influences might be slightly excessive).
But, most importantly, by overloading their already extremely intense shots with small doses of extreme (Power) Electronics that give an extra twist of density and chaos to their already very brutal sound. Although they have definitely taken some distance from the rawer and pure noisy/crazy approach that brought them comparisons to bands such as Nyogthaeblisz, Konflict or the first Tetragrammacide record.
Quite an interesting debut from a band whose main strength is actually their potential that is yet to be explored. And one of those records you can play over and over and, despite its intensity. never get bored of it. It actually became excessively short every time I listened to it, and I'm not simply speaking about it's almost 28 minutes of playing time.
I still remember buying Vomitor's 'Bleeding the Priest' when it came out (the one on Arsenal of Glory with the different cover and the 'Roar of War' demo as bonus, which seems to be considered a bootleg now), and feeling like I was travelling back in time to my early days of discovery of the Thrash and Death metal scenes. It was dirty, it was chaotic and it fucking ripped! It made me feel just as when I listened to the first Sodom and Destruction records. And that was an amazing feeling in 2002, when the explosion of Death Metal's comeback was yet to happen.
Now it's fifteen years later and these guys are still kicking ass despite their slow pace and absolute lack any intention to evolve. Or maybe it's precisely because of that? Well, to be honest, 'The Escalation' sounded slightly like an evolution, it was a bit more extreme than usual, it had faster parts, a bit more blastbeats ... As the cover suggested, it was closer to something like the early Morbid Angel. Also like Slaughter Lord stuff. It was great anyways, a very powerful record, just a bit different from the previous Vomitor stuff.
How about 'Pestilent Death'? Well, easy thing. Once again, it's vicious, it's savage, it's sharp and it fucking rips. It's also full of absolutely amazing RIFFS! In some way, this record goes back to the pre-'The Escalation' Vomitor, with a preference for very early Sodom, Destruction and Slayer fueled evil and headbanging Metal. There's still place for slightly more Death Metal'ish influences for sure, but the Thrashing vibe is definitely taking the lead.
Maybe even more than ever. Death Dealer and Horror Illogium are total maniacs when it comes to writing some of the most possessed and old-schooled Metal you can get nowadays. I love everything Death Dealer does, from his way of playing/punishing the guitar, the pounding open riffs, the shrieking slides and the King-esque solos, to that way of almost spitting vocal lines and his top Metalized screams. But that sort of battle between guitars that happens when those two demons get together is absolutely titanesque. I get the impression they have worked a lot more into the actual groove and cohesion of their lines this time. I'm also surprised of how well H.I. adapted to Vomitor given how far he is here from his work for Portal.
Another great point of thie record is the way Mr. Hellcunt blasts the skins, with that linear and barbaric rhythm that fits so well in their simplicity with the guitars. I'm not saying he changed a lot his style, but for some reason it sounds tighter and fucking aggressive. It might be how they captured the drum sound, because this very well could be the best drum sound Vomitor ever had.
However, and despite the more simplistic and primitive songs, the production is a bit less chaotic and cleaner. Don't get this in a wrong way. I'm (obviously) not saying they sound like a Metalcore band now, and all of the instruments still sound fucking raw and analog as fuck. But you can better distinguish every detail, and that helps getting dragged into the groove even more easily. The man behind the board this time was Mr. Aphotic Mote from the Portal horde, who recorded and mixed everything in his studio, which probably made everything a lot more simple now that his bandmate Horror Illogium also plays guitars for Vomitor.
I'm not spending much more time on this, as it's pretty straight-forward and I think I mentioned all that needs to be said. 'Pestilent Death' is a total and absolute banger that will catch you like an iron fist and force you to headbang for its 32 minutes until you loose your head. And the presentation basically gathers everything you would expect for this type of Extreme Metal: inverted crosses, skeletons and blood. What can be more Metal than that picture of the motorbike inside the fire circle on the inner-sleeve? Ugh!
If we take into consideration that 'From Dead Temples (Towards the Ast'ral Path)' was released already seventeen years ago, and that the last Altar of Perversion recording dates from 2006, we could almost consider 'Intra Naos' as a return from the dead for these Italian masters of the dark sounds. Although they were only in a latent mode and have actually been working on this record from quite some time.
For those who do not not them, Altar of Perversion could be considered as the direct continuation of that Black Metal scene that was forged in Italy by bands such as Mortuary Drape, Necromass (in which the two members of Altar of Perversion used to play, and which I always found quite underrated) or the early Opera IX ('Sacro Culto' rules eternally!), with that inclination for the occult, necromancy and Pan-European mythology and cults. Although Altar of Perversion had a slightly different approach in sonic terms.
Focusing on their new offering, the three records of which the vinyl version of 'Intra Naos' is comprised (two in the case of the CD version) come packaged in a three-folded gatefold sleeve, embellished by a visual introduction to Altar of Perversion's world by Denis Forkas (Wrathprayer, Altars, Behemoth, Grave Miasma ... ) which anticipates the ghastly, eerie and sinister approach they have to the Black Metal genre, and complemented by illustrations for each of the songs taken from the Sinister Tarot of the O9A, an organisation and philosophical path that also finds representation in the lyrics of the band.
When you enter for the first time the realms of such a vast world as the one they have created on their sophomore release, comprised of six songs whose average length is around twenty minutes, you must do it, first, with a good dose patience and an open mindset, as you know you will not catch even a glimpse of the whole. The journey through these six pieces is exhausting, suffocating and requiring a lot of focus, which can only come through repetition and a step by step digestion of every piece and part. It's definitely not an easy experience.
One striking thing of Altar of Perversion's vision on Black Metal is how it sticks at all levels (form, soul and sound) to the very first glimpses of the second wave of the genre. Despite many bands try to replicate that sound and, by that, try to reach the same levels of spiritual depth and mysticism, most can simply not understand it's not only a matter of a raw sound. This being said, the new offering of these two Italians keeps the rawness of their precedent recordings and does not distance from it. It only takes a less chaotic and slighlty less dirty approach, which would match the nature of these new songs. It's interesting to find out that is was captured by a certain Leo Magnolfi who actually does not seem to have had any previous relation to the genre, if I can rely on the Net.
But there's also quite a big step forward on this record in terms of composition. It's not only a matter of the length of the songs and the fact this allows them to develop the ideas a lot more, using monotony and loops as a tool to hyptonize the listener. Which in some way gives me the impression of always swiming in the same cold and nauseating waters, across the whole record, despite not really repeating exact resources. It's also a matter of a much more diverse use of the tempos, keeping the fast parts, which are even faster and more blasting and tight, but also frequently falling into mid-paced and pretty slow and heavy ones, that give a doomier and thicker aspect to their sound. And definitely the fact that they use layers of instruments in a more cohesive way, sometimes overloading the ambience, or even turning it slightly noisy, to reach a truly haunting atmosphere.
And there is something above all this. I don't know if it's the constant dissonant atmosphere, which they have pushed a lot more forward, becoming one of the main characteristics of this record. Or maybe it's the ghostly bass lines that lead the songs from start to end. It could even be the fact that they recorded it attuned at 432 Hz. But every time I play it, it gives me the fucking chills. It's not an effect or feeling emerging from the melodies or the riffs. It's a vibration in the air that surrounds me. It's a coldness in my insides. It's a real presence.
It's actually surprising to read so many comparisons between their sound and Darkthrone's at this point, as I do not think their songs distill the same type of feelings at all. It's maybe more related to the fact that they keep an approach to the genre and it's sound that it's true to its roots. The evolution from 'From Dead Temples (Towards the Ast'ral Path)' to 'Intra Naos' makes me definitely think a lot more about how bands such as Mayhem, Emperor or Burzum went from the rawness and simplicity of their first recordings to the more mystical and atmospheric approach of their next releases (a great example would be the difference we can find between 'Deathcrush' and 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'). Although 'Intra Naos' vision of the genre might now have closer ties to how bands such as Abigor, Nightbringer or Funeral Mist. Even Celestia comes to mind from time to time, if we look into the more melancholic and morbid ambiances of the record.
I won't go further with this as I could keep speaking, but the best way to understand what lies between the gates of 'Intra Naos' is to explore it, to experience it, to let it devour you. It might take some patience though, but such is the left hand path, isn't it? I just hope the band will also take into consideration re-releasing their first album now.
Saltas is a new misterious outfit emerging from the depths of the bleakest Swedish underground. However, the entities behind this project are far from being newcomers in the extreme Metal scene. In their line-up we can find Nicklas Rudolfsson, the restless mind behing bands such as Runemagick, The Funeral Orchestra and Heavydeath (among many others), bands I've followed for a long time and whose personality I really appreciate, as well as a member or Irkallian Oracle, which identity obviously remains a secret.
Their presentation as a band is done in the old-school way, through a demo tape "Recorded during simple conditions in December 2017" entitled 'Currents', which release is however managed by Nuclear War Now! Productions, allowing them both a very professional presentation of the product in a pro-cassette tape with a two page booklet including the lyrics and a very fitting drawing taken from Juan Valverde de Amusco's "Historia de la composición del cuerpo humano" on the cover, as well as some of the best promotion they could get to make a good start.
The tape includes four tracks, starting by the eleven-minute mammoth "Salt At The Temple Roots", and followed by "Fractals From The Lower Flesh", "XII Nerves Decay" and "Currents From The Astral Darkness", clocking in a total length of twenty-seven minutes. And if there's something I could say from the very first time I listened to these four songs (and there's been many after that) is that the recording definitely falls into the limits of what I would expect from a band including Mr. Rudolfsson.
This does definitely not mean I'm saying this recording is predictive or just a second rate version of his other bands. Saltas is extremely heavy and sinister Doom Death Metal with some bleak Black Metal leanings, yes. And they don't sound that far from some of The Funeral Orchestra's ideas actually, with those extremely thick guitar layers and haunting vocal lines. But they also have a different approach to the genre in other aspects. In some way, the "catchier" and more dynamic parts make me think of a slowed down version of Winter, like playing 'Into Darkness' at half speed (and this is something I don't say easily, as I usually disagree on most comparisons to this masterpiece). Even the vocals sound like they had been lowered down, with that extremely deep and dense tone. However, they add a certain ceremonious aspect to their sound, that makes the song move like a procession towards the absolute void.
On the other side, the atmospheric parts (which also have a very important place in this demo) are a lot more sinister, monotonous and chilling, with an ambiental approach that fuses Funeral Doom and some sludgy/dragging Black Metal in a majestic mass of reverberating riffs and tenebrous melodies over a very (very) simple, quiet and spaced (but tremendously fitting) drumming that envelopes you like a cloak of shadows until it suffocates you.
The combination of both aspects, together with another important factor as the production, which is pretty raw and swamped, make these songs a very surprising debut, full of great ideas to explore and fully explode. which may be simple and quite straight as an approach, but make you think/imagine a lot how they could develop on a longer space such as a full-length would allow. And, if I had to put them close to someone else, I would say their tomb should be placed next to Grave Upheaval's.
In the meantime, right after listening to 'Currents', you can already enjoy their second demo, which is already out in digital format on their bandcamp profile, and which will also be released soon by Nuclear War Now! Productions.
Doomentor are one of those small surprises one finds from time to time and by almost accident in the deepest Metal underground. They formed in 2011 in Baden Württemberg (the area of Destruction and Poison!), released a demo tape in 2014, and later re-released on vinyl, both by Messe Noire Productions. One year later Iron Bonehead Productions released 'The Second Ceremony' 7"EP.
In my case, I was a bit late to the call, I missed both of those recordings and I only very recently acquired and listened to their first album, that was put out in the end of 2016 by Unholy Fire Records (LP), Goat Kult Symphonies (both CD and LP) and Messe Noire Productions (cassette), just in time to have some expectations for their upcoming record, 'Opus Diabolae', released by the end of this month by the same labels.
When I listened for the first time to 'Dominus Omnes' I ended up having some kind of a mess in my mind, as I found myself thinking about a lot of different references. I checked Doomentor after reading about their similarities to early second wave Black Metal like Samael and Treblinka/Tiamat, which I obviously worship, But after listening to these eleven tracks I think these Germans have a much wider spectrum of (Metal) influences, that could be summarized as an absolute devotion for the eighties/early nineties devil worshipping underground, analog sound and horror atmosphere. And that is obviously great.
It doesn't mind if we're speaking about Doom Rock in the vein of Paul Chain, Coven and Pagan Altar, that could even make me think about the first Hour of 13 stuff or Abysmal Grief, to a certain extent, second wave Black Metal very directly (sounding) inspired by the first wave, including the already mentioned above but also (obviously) Venom, Necromantia or Goatlord, and even some of the early mid-paced Satanic Death Metal of Acheron. Yes, it's a big mix of stuff, but it makes a lot of sense when you listen to it all-together, specially because it takes the most mid-paced aspects of every one of those influences. It oozes feeling, a great sense of groove and a profoundly dark spirit, in a simplicity that distills, above all, a lot of honesty and passion.
Another great thing about their music is that it includes some hints and slight doses of Folk/Psych Rock, Ambient or even eighties Electronic/synth parts, mostly in the form of short interludes and details amidst the rest, which give it both a special (good, not fake) retro ambience and increases the effect of their dark tunes by taking a creepier texture.
And, just to make it even more authentic, the production of this recording (managed in Old Spirit Recordings studio, where I read the German Speed Metal band Blizzard also recorded, maybe a connection?) is as raw and simplystic as one would expect for such references. It's extremely organic, it's heavy without the need of ultra-low productions, it's very atmospheric (even more when those Folkish/ambient passages appear) and it has a good dose of reverb to make it even more profound. Not to forget it was mastered by none other than Patrick W. Engel (and I'm starting to forget how many records I've hailed lately went through his hands).
This is definitely one of my favorite descoveries of the last times, I have been spinning this record like crazy several times per day, and I can't wait to listen to their new full-length. My expectations are very high, but I trust them to surpass them quite easily.
Despite not being one of the most fertile grounds for (exportable) Metal, with a few exceptions, if we compare it to a few other countries of the southern American lands, Perú always had a strong underground scene. And the few and very honorable exceptions are obviously, first and foremost, Mortem, and then Nahual, Anal Vomit, Reino Ermitaño, Goat Semen ... I could also add Black Angel and Morbid Slaughter, but not many more, that would be known by most of people listening to the extreme sounds within the genre.
Well, and now these guys we will speak about, raising from the city of Lima with a not so original name (if we take into consideration I can count seven other Antichrists on Metal Archives), who formed in 2004 but have only started releasing recordings from 2014. After not less than 4 demos and a single, Iron Bonehead Productions added them to their roster and they finally unleash their first full-length, on both CD and 12" vinyl.
I doubt the cover of 'Pax Moriendi' could confuse anyone's expectations. You could maybe doubt a bit on which branch of the sub-genre they chose. But anyone going to play this record would obviously think these guys are playing Doom Metal. And, effectively, this is Doom Death Metal with all the expected elements. From slow and crushing Death Metal riffs to reverb-loaded cavernous vocals, with a pretty dynamic flow despite of the preference for mid and slow tempos. They also include some slightly orchestral synth/keyboard parts to increase a bit the already gloomy atmosphere.
Song-writing is pretty simple and straight to the point, there's not much diversion from the usual traits of the genre in both the instrumental and vocal sides. Guitars go from the usual pounding and monotonous power-chords to more up-tempoed cavalcades. On the drums side, there's a big focus on the double bass in terms of rythm, which varies the speed depending on the guitar flow and kind of sets the actual mood. And the vocals are very low-tuned and gutural, and they more or less follow the flow of the song without too much alteration. They also include some more brutal stuff, including blastbeats and faster guitars, like the fourth track "Screams and Lamentations Drowned", that puts them closer to pure and more evil Death Metal.
So, on a general level, you can hear references especially from the first Skepticism era, definitely early My Dying Bride (demos and first EP) and Anathema (also demos and first EP) and maybe a bit of Thergothon and first Unholy (definitely not Winter, to whom I've seen them being compared). For those less common and more intense Death Metal parts, I could think of early Deicide and even Beherit (on a minor level, but for some reason they came to my mind).
Can't say it's bad at all. I'm sure it will catch some of the fans of the style quite easily. But I must also admit it doesn't offer many new, original or simply personal details after all the bands that made this sub-style explode. And it's not only that. It's also the fact of having the impression of being listening to mostly the same ideas and resources (riffs, vocal lines, flow ...) along these five tracks.
So, unfortunately, this is not sufficient to catch my attention more than a few times after having listened to all the classics of the genre. I would expect a small extra something at this stage. Maybe the recording was a bit rushed.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.