Stygian Crypt (Productions)
The world of metal is a vast and unfathomably large realm. Sporting diversity thats altogether mind boggling and a spectrum of acts hailing from every corner of this liquid covered green orb on which we all reside. It’s a wonder anyone can keep up, let alone support even a modicum of the talent on display. Thank the dark lord for the smaller labels, those who scour the globe for the curious and intriguing. Such is the case here. Admittedly this article is a tad overdue. My apologies to those concerned, naturally I’ll blame something other than myself (*Insert knowing winky face here.)
Without further ado, my thoughts on a pair of albums from
Stygian Crypt & GrandSoundsPR
Downcast Twilight (UK)
Under the Wings of the Aquila
Release – November/2016
Stygian Crypt Productions
By glancing at the albums artwork, a section of a mighty forest in a morning haze, one might initially think this to be a symphonic black metal affair. Although partially true I’m glad to report that UtWotA offers more than first meets the eye (that was Pun-tastick folks!).
The album kicks off with a fantastic opener. Rex Nemorensis successfully manages to meld folk/doom and death (albeit “light”) into an oddly pallettable and infectious concoction that’s both enjoyable and easy on the ears. Viktor ‘Vitek’ Buznaev growls for the listeners enjoyment and boasts a ‘cadence’ that’s strangely dipherable (especially in a genre where grunts, bree-bree-brees and shrieks are not so much accepted as embraced) yet still bears a harshness typical of the extreme metal scene.
Violin and flute interludes offer an accompanying folk vibe, that doesnt overpower the percussion but rather complements it. Overall a catchy track that grabs the attention and bodes well for the remainder of the album.
The groove and catchiness continues with Soldier of Pompeii. A drinking ballad of sorts sporting a galloping rhythm that is guilty of inciting uncontrollable limb twitches. The album continues on a solid footing, introducing, as it plays out, riffs and melodies familiar enough to have the albums audience scratch their collected heads for sources of inspiration. Which as far afield as Amon Amarth, In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Skyclad and Iron Maiden make fir an interesting collection of tunes indeed.
The album isn’t without its share of atmosphere either. Tracks like The Tyrant snd the Sage, Orgiastic Lupercalia and Horror of the Hercynian Forest show great promise and depth with its effective addition. The album shines with its utilization of a guest female vocalist. Eva Oswald adds foreboding and emotion to the strangely soothing, symphonic/melodic black metal tinged Death in Alexandria.
Another of my favorite moments comes by way of Ironclad Legion. A track that starts out strong in grabbing the listener by the throat with its blistering pace and riff assault. Somewhat akin to vintage God Dethroned in tone its a fantastic break in pace for a release that sports folk and melodic death playing nicely together on a equal footing throughout. The Red Queen is the longest track and completes the album. In all honesty I don’t care for it, but it is slowly growing on me, especially with its placing. Although, with that in mind, it bears an unmistakable Lacuna Coil vibe coupled with a traditional folk lore texture and boasts an enigmatic quality and potential to grow on the listener, like a prize winning fungi, with repeated listens.
Under the Wings of the Aquila is Downcast Twilight’s first recorded outing (a spat of mediocre research confirms this) and applaudable as an indicator of perhaps what’s to follow. An album bearing an altogether recognizance vibe though one that’s more in line with the lore of warriors travelling by way of Rome by straight roads as opposed to those travelling from Norway in ships loaded down with pillaged loot, horned helmets, matted crusty braided facial locks and flaggons of ale.
A diverse effort which showcases Downcast Twilight’s talent, various influence and adaptability in offering folk/symphonic atmosphere and melodic death in a intriguing, captivating mix thats enjoyable throughout.
Keep on eye on these talented folks.
You can purchase this online @ www.cdbaby.com
At the Ancient Times
Release – 2016
Stygian Crypt Productions
Obvious from the cover art is that this albums strays from my normal ‘wheelhouse’ of interest to lie elsewhere, a probable theory of its residence, a style found in the folk arena. A myriad of forest sprite, faerie and mythical creature can be spied frolicking around a cauldron and an open flame with, no doubt, only schnanigens in mind for the remainder of the evening. The track titles hint at much the same. Although most of the script on, and in, the album is in Russian, there are alternate texts available for folks like myself who aren’t versed in the traditional language of a country usually associated with the cold war and alcohol derived from of all things…a potato (I’m not shitting you these things have many uses over and above a mere dipping utensil for ketchup.)
Stylistically Pereplut mix folk and a form of thrash akin to that heard in the earlier output of Bay Area acts with a splash of NWOBHM thrown in for shits n giggles. Pereplut, all eight members and their entourage of instruments you might never have thought inclusive in a metal album, offer a galloping style that remains lively throughout, traditional rhythms with catchy riffs, a delicous crafted metal edge. Chock full of groove the music in At the Ancient Times often gives rise to uncontrollable bobbing of the head and spastic tapping of the strange looking chunk of flattened flesh attached to the ankle.
Frequent ‘gang choruses’ give the album an overall comraderie effect oozing with good natured atmosphere, rather than that of aggression. The lyrical cadence and structure also adds to this theory, although in all honest I know not what the lyrics are about all appears to be in good spirits.
Recommended for fans of earlier, more heavier metal themed, Skyclad and those with a penchant for the melodic and slightly experimental as opposed to blast beats, growls, grunts and brutality.
Give this an ear, it’s surprisingly listenable.
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