If bands like Bone Awl and Akitsa, following the primitive steps of others such as Ildjarn, opened the doors to a whole new vision of how Black Metal and Punk could converge into some of the most hateful and raw results the style has ever seen, the reaction to that was that a small new wave of younger bands followed that vision and started to create their own response to the genre.
Amongst them we may find better and worse results, given the simplicity of the music and the ability of the musicians which, in all honesty, sometimes is pretty weak. But if I had to pick one of the best successors to those two bands mentioned above, that would definitely be Malphas (the Canadian ones, as there are at least six bands with that name), a very recently formed duo emerging from somewhere in Toronto, in the Ontario province of Canada, with a very short recording history consisting of a first demo from 2015, which they entitled 'Pre-Demo', and this new recording I'll be speaking about.
The title of this tape is 'La Terre Disparue' (The Disappeared Land), including 6 tracks (one of them being some popular nationalistic song which I must honestly say I found quite cheesy, probably due to my lack of interest on those matters) and an amazing dose of pure energy flowing, no matter if it is to puke their disgust for the modern world and society, to show their melancholy for the past times or to chant their love for nature. The fact is they let you perfectly feel it, with an angst and a viscerallity that only two styles can matche so incredibly well.
Because of their uptempo beats and their straight to the face razor-like rythms, which confirm the clearest part of their Punk roots together with the spitted vocals, they may get close to the last recordings of Raspberry Bulbs, almost grazing Hardcore Punk, although they have some very clear hints of that Oi energy their neighbours from Akitsa manage so well. On the other side, when Black Metal hits their songs with its darkest pulse, they jump into some really fast and savage parts which blend very well aggression and melancholy, creating a great balance/contrast, which gets you instantly hooked. Actually, they may sound a bit more brutal than most of the bands that blend both styles, as on "A tout prix" they could remind me the first Antaeus, but they also advance some meditative Burzum-like repetitive rythms in the last part of the demo.
Great tape, it shows the big potential of these guys and makes you expect a lot more. Hopefully they will be releasing some more stuff soon.
It was probably past year when I sold my copy of 'The Cosmic Carnage', the second demo tape of Austrian Black Metal band Kringa. I didn't find it bad, but simply not that special or personal sounding, it simply didn't catch me. Strangely enough, just after that I read about their following recording, an EP entitled 'Total Mental Desecration', and my curiosity drove me to their bandcamp profile and made me check it. Well, that one was a whole new experience. I actually bought the 10” version after that first listen and enjoyed it quite a lot more every time I put it on the turntable.
So, when this year Voidland Shelter, Daemon Worship Productions and Terratur Possessions announced the new release of the Austrians, I knew I had to get it as soon as possible, because I was too curious to see how Kringa's sound had metamorphosed during these two years of studio inactivity. I must add that, as unimportant or superficial as this may sound for some people, their new pictures captured my attention a lot, and surprisingly carried/anticipated the idea/feeling of what was to come of the musical level.
What we find in the three tracks contained in 'Through the Flesh of Ethereal Wombs' is without the shadow of a doubt the kind of progression one would like to expect from their previous recording and, to a wider extent, on every Black Metal record. It's how I understand evolution managed in the correct way, a continuation of the more atmospheric and kind of hypnotic/transcendental sound they developed on 'Total Mental Desecration', brought to a whole new level of 1) feeling, 2) rawness and 3) execution, although keeping the original spirit of Kringa's sound, very deeply rooted on the rawest side of the second wave of the genre. It's, to sum it up, a more in-depth and (compositionally) polished step on their way to absolute darkness.
The first song, “Vibrant Walls”, starts with a very doomy part which drives you to a kind of mid-tempo meditating vibe, with an amazing vocal job by Vritra and Berstuk over a simple but very effective guitar work based on monotonous melodies and drum lines. A trance-like progression they suddenly break in order to jump into a fast chainsaw guitar driven ascension to madness and, on the top of it, drown you back into a more hypnotic and repetitive finale which kind of closes the circle. While the second one, “Pearly Gates, Abhorrent Ascent”, has a rougher and colder approach, yet still manages to drown you, thanks to a more complex structure and arrangements, into its icy and kind of necro ambiance, with a perfect combination of slow and catchy rhythms and faster melodic/disharmonic guitar lines, crowned with some very Csihar inspired vocals. They close this record with “Sanguine Painter”, a more haunting and violent track, with a great initial vocal duet over furious blastbeats and razor sharp guitars. It has some cool bass lines too in the middle of the track which actually make me wonder why they didn't emphasize this instrument a lot more all along this recording, and get him a better sound too.
I know comparisons might not always be fair or simply too subjective, but I would compare their sound on this new EP to how a band like Urfaust could have sounded if they purely sticked to the teachings of records like 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas', 'Hvis Lyset Tar Oss' and 'Transilvanian Hunger'. Anyways, Kringa do have their own sound and spirit. And this is a very haunting, almost phantasmagorical, record, with an absolutely majestic atmosphere that will very easily transport you to other planes of conscience every time you spin it.
I'm sure we would all agree on the fact that it's quite hard or almost impossible nowadays to find a (extreme) Metal band that manages to do something original, even remotely personal. You can find more bands than ever, you can choose the exact sub-genre you want to listen to and find dozens of records within it, but listening to an album and having that feeling you could have twenty years ago each time a new album came out, that's another thing. Fortunately, from time to time you end up discovering a band like Howls of Ebb, and feel like you had traveled back in time to those old times when copy-cats were complicated to find despite the fact that everything was so purely primitive and raw.
I must admit I didn't pay much attention to Howls of Ebb first album when it was released back in 2014, probably due to that vast amount of records appearing every day, or maybe because the time I chose to listen to it wasn't the most suitable given their bizarre sound, although I remember thinking this band had a lot of potential after just one or two listens. And I didn't even check their following MLP, 'The Marrow Veil'. So when 'Cursus Impasse' was announced I decided it was a question of now or never, I had to spend some time giving the proper attention to this record and finally getting an opinion on their music, be it good or bad, or I simply forgot the band. I was quite fortunate to choose the first option, because this record is so far plain and simply (as well as easily) my favorite extreme Metal release of 2016 (at least when I'm writing this).
They should already have some winning points due to the fact that one of the driving forces under this creature is Patrick Brown, who used to play in Nepenthe ('Ligeia' is still one of those items I'm proud to have in my collection), battle-brothers of Order from Chaos in Kansas, and the band where Alex Blume from Ares Kingdom started growling. And I need to say I still find some remains of that demented and psychotic way of playing Mr. Brown had in his first band, although Howls of Ebb is way more complex that Nepenthe. In fact, one of the most surprising things of this record is how well they manage that complexity in terms of atmosphere, feeling and aggression. The feeling that everything is straight and simple but having at the same time a second reading.
As I commented above, 'Cursus Impasse' made me travel to that era when Death Metal was some sort of experimental style yet, when everyone wanted to be darker, rawer and more brutal and diabolic, when it reeked of mysticism and evil feeling. Because 'Cursus Impasse' is, above all, a Death Metal record, a savage one, which makes you immediately think about the first days of the genre, when it just came out of the deepest pits and unleashed darkness on earth through demons such as Morbid Angel, Necrovore, Incubus (Fl) or the Nocturnus demos. That raw aspect, that unpolished brutality, those demoniac riffs which are kind of simple and straight to the point but enormously twisted. The insane execution is here too. Although everything is build up in a way that could very well match the visions of more recent bands who, as well as Howls of Ebb, have managed to give the style a better rebirth than the ones who just decide to mimic their old heroes. Including influences from musical genre outside of the Metal sphere that they manage to incredibly adhere to their sound without contaminating it.
Let's just say Howls of Ebb could be the savage brother of spawns such as Portal, Chaos Echoes, Antediluvian, Teitanblood or even (the latest) Gorguts (on certain technical details), after a night of partying under the spell of some old Kraut and Industrial bands. Because the Death Metal basis of their sound has a slight dose of cold and monotonous rhythmic, a very atmospheric approach (specially when they lower the tempo) and amazing details and arrangements, as could be the kind of tribal percussion on 'Cabals of Molder', a track which makes me think a lot about how Aluk Todolo use repetitions in order to imbue your brain with a perfect trance.
Put the record on the turntable, spin the needle, look at the amazingly grotesque work Agostino Arrivabene did on the cover and drown into absolute madness.
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.