Howdy folks, it’s been a while. This installment sees me dive into unfamiliar territories and meander into other realms I’m quite comfortable.
My apologies in advance as this is rather a lengthy installment. On the bright side however its contents span the far reaches of the globe making for quite the extreme audio themed trek.
Sit back, relax, grab a notebook, some snacks and prepare to discovery a litany of fresh tuneage.
Lecherous Nocturne – Occultaclysmic (United States)
Release – April/6/2018
With twenty years under their belt Lecherous Nocturne have shared brewskis, rubbed shoulders, and toured, with the mightiest names in the industry. This release sees them signed to Willowtip following a two album stint with Unique Leader.
Admittedly this is my first experience of the band and their music. I’m pleased to announce it doesn’t take long to get drawn in. The style is unapologerically pummeling, relentless and chaotic, think earlier Morbid Angel, Abysmal Dawn and Hate Eternal and you’ll be close, but it also isn’t without the occasional driving riff structure and searing rhythmic passages to keep those of the more melodic persuasion intrigued.
Remembrance is nestled midway through and serves to break up the album some by injecting a dose of classical doom into the mix while still maintaining the menacing undercurrent, albeit toned down and severly less chaotic from the it’s neighbors.
Unidimensional Eclipse and Tower of Silence are amongst the albums standouts and vividly display Lecherous Nocturne’s stunning brand of chaotic darkness a style bursting at the seams with brutality, technicality and atmosphere. In essence Occultaclysmic is a ferocious blend of black and death metal that warrants attention and will have listeners coming back for more. 8-
WuW – Rien Ne Nous Sera E`pargne` (France) (limited vinyl pressing of 300)
Release – March/30/2018
It should come as no great surprise that listening to this release yanks me wildly from my comfort zone. I normally stick to what I know (alright, what I’m used to, and tbh my depth of knowledge pales in comparison to most everyone else) and tend to review in the same field of interest.
WuW’s output is described as being proggressive, minimalist and contempary (much like their moniker). I’m not so sure about all that, I’m hardly an art or a wine critic who utilizes such words, but I can attest to it being very interesting, unpredictable and notably different. More soundscape than song perse’ it depends more on the relationship of instruments and experimentation moreso than traditional song structures. This is where I should mention that there is a zero vocal presence. Honestly though the music is surprisingly captivating without and I’ll go one further and state my belief that the inclusion of such might catapult it into truely strange realms (but that’s only my theory).
The music itself includes the integration of varied and diverse styles. In moments it might make the listener ponder upon more experimental Hawkwind tracks (some passages are especially sci-fi in their vibe). Synth work even makes an appearance to amp up the same effect. In other instances the feel is of more a Gothic influence, with the same feel as, perhaps, snippets of a score attached to a costume drama genre affair ser within the walls of a castle.
What makes the album work however is its flow. As odd as the album sounds to an outsider it actually works very well, it flows and ebbs in just the right instances and boasts a fantastic aura throughout.
If I were smart enough to translate the track titles I might be able to divulge my thoughts on each but as it stands my mastery of French is abysmal. So instead, I’ve focused on the album as a whole and saved my computer’s spell checking capabilities the stress.
This definitely isn’t what I’m ‘used’ to but it is very listenable, heavy, atmospheric and utterly fascinating. Toss it betwix your ears and expand your musical horizons. 8-
Ripped to Shreds – Mai-zang
Release – March/27/2018
Necrolatry Records (Cassette)
Craneo Negro (CD)
Mai – zang is the creation of Andrew Lee (under the guise of Ripped to Shreds) and chooses to step outside of the normal/traditional go-to death metal narrative to instead focus on China’s turbulent history and time honoed traditions from the late 19th Century through to the early 20th.
Upon even initial submergement any listener with at least a rudimentary knowledge of vintage death metal will perk up. The music is stunningly familiar, a Gothenburg aura seeps from its every pore, ala Entombed. But wait, there’s more. Another influence is more than merely pungent. In fact the album seethes with homage to both the ‘ground shaking rumble’ associated with Bolt Thrower and a slew of acts from the earlier days of the Swedish extreme metal scene (Dismember and Grave cheif among them), and it does so with penache and originality (weird as so many acts choose instead to merely jumble riffs around rather than rework the phrazing of such as heard here) without denigrating to plagiarism. The riffs herein are vicious, often tainted with doom sensabilities, are wickedly effective and will leave an audience with huge smiles on their chops. A fantastic touch to a genre that many deemed overused and exhausted especially of late.
Andrew Lee’s vocals are varied, and applaudable especially since he’s responsible for everything heard here, and fit the percussion like a glove (the form fitting kind, not the cheap ones with the oversized, dangling pinkie).
The albums pacing is delightfully varied, ranging from a mid paced gallop to that of a swift all-out attack more often associated with the speed encrusted blackened death realm ala Hellripper or Whipstriker. The albums slower moments are few and far between though don’t feel misplaced in the slightest. Melody finds its position too bolstering this albums allure far above that of its peers, and often when predicted the least.
Hard pressed to pick a favorite amongst the brilliance on offer I’ll instead reccommend the album in its entirety as a standard bearer for the Gothenburg resurgence. Yes, it’s just that’s damn impressive!
Rush out, locate this and make it a part of your collection!! 9.5
Zarraza – Necroshiva (Kazakhstan)
Release – May/11/2018
It’s no cake walk creating, producing and performing metal in an area notoriously Muslim but Zarraza pull it off as if champions of the scene. Theirs is a style steeped in thrash values and sprinkled with extreme spice bordering on the boundaries of death metal.
Abyss Above Me is a fantastic introduction to the bands style, the album and it’s applaudable production values. Atmosphere hinting at progressive leaning intertwines with a variety of melodic passages varying in intensity taking the listener on a journey that they might not have expected especially within a debut showing.
Throughout the slbum Zarraza’s style hints at a myriad of influence within the thrash metal arena, sometimes even without. Thoughts of bands like Sepultura, Overkill, Exodus, Annihilator and Kreator are sparked by riff, melody and structure but never to the point where one might be able to pinpoint exact tracks.
Nick Khalabuzar’s vocals are gruff rather than grunt or growl with thankfully no falsetto elements. The style fits the percussion well adding just the right amount of aggression.
As a whole Necroshiva shines with creative nature, enthusiasm and talent a great combination that bodes well for the attention of label scouts. However, I have my fingers crossed they are of the variety that’s willing to let Zarraza run with their own vision rather than place them in a pigeonhole based on the perceived market demand.
Tracks like Dead Star, More Than Hate and 150 Words are personal favorites displaying diversity, aggression and musical ‘chops’. Keep a close eye (or ear) on Zarraza as they may well make waves in the very near future. Here’s hoping they get the attention they deserve in a landscape littered with copycats, scenes finding resurgence and little creative ingenuity.
Well worth a listen. 8-
Totalselfhatred – Solitude (Finland)
Release – April/27/2018
Totalselfhatred somehow manage to utilize harmonious melancholy, a soundscape one could easily lose themselves within, and strained grindcore -esque vocals to great effect in order to create audio that’s utterly foreign yet oddly mesmerizing. Creating a vivid musical juxtaposition of this sort could admittedly go either way, disastrous or stunning, if not composed with meticulous attention to detail. I’m pleased to announce that this Finnish five piece have done the latter.
Solitude MMXIII opens the album. It soothes/lulls the listener with its melodic embrace only to drop them abruptly into an abyss of despair by way of a shrieking vocal attack which may, at first, seem out of place but soon finds its niche.
As the album continues a fantastic melding of classical doom, progressive elements and black metal makes itself known against an atmospheric background which might or might not include the use of female vocals and a variety of classical instruments, or alternatively a single keyboard programmed to fool the listener into thinking such (ha! I’m an idiot!).
Some tracks prefer a darker more menacing approach while still incorporating melancholic audio. Hollow is one such tune, it drags the listener through a bleak landscape littered with mountain ranges of jagged guitar riffs and themes of absolute despair and grief then leaves them shattered in desolation. A standout that leaves an indelible stain.
The album climaxes with Nyktophilia another epic slab of doom/darkness that places the preverbial cork on a liquid that’s delightfully deceptive. A brew that exhibits smoky, exhuberant, soothing and playfull qualities to be taken in liberal doses, not administered in heavy doses lest it’s consumer fall into adject self-reflection.
An outstanding effort that has considerable weight to pull it’s creators into the forefront of the scene.
Prepare for epic heights of melancholy and majesty. 8.5
Cist – The Frozen Casket EP (Russia)
(reissue – including 3 bonus tracks)
Release – April/27/2018
Redefining Darkness Records/Reaper Metal
Let’s ponder, for a moment, on what might happen if you take Death’s Spiritual Healing and Pestilence’s Testimony of the Ancients, both landmark releases in their own right, then (wait for it) smash them together. Obviously there would be shrapnel and shards of material everywhere and what a bloody mess! Itty bits of plastic embedded in tender flesh, crimson dripping from the walls and the screaming, oh the screaming … why on earth would anyone want to destroy these two amazing CDs, why?…WHY?
Alright let’s start again. Take away the physical element and replace it with the unique/trademark style heard within each respective album. Imagine if these two styles were to merge and the result of such a collaboration. I’m salivating at the prospect. Well, I’m here to report that I’m gonna need a bigger bucket, as one might just might be able to deem The Frozen Casket as the embodiment of that very scenario.
The EP commences with little posturing getting straight to the point as if attached to a nuclear warhead emblazoned with a huge middle finger. Antisceptic spearheads it’s way straight to the damn this shit rocks part of the brain setting off numerous familiarity receptors on the way. As the album plays out the infection spreads and these same receptors are going apeshit, working overtime. But the hooks are in and a complaint is the last thing to fall from the lips as a cavalcade of riffs ebb and flow, slash and stab, caress and pummel all the while showcasing technical precision, bass with the perfect amount of ‘bounce’ adds to the conciction and all against a skin pounding barrage that’s vintage Pestilence all the way, enthusiast, clear in the mix and anything but mediocre. Topped off with vocal style that screams Schildiner with hints of Tardy the whole package flows exceedingly well and is nothing short of exceptional.
Certain tracks are pungent with an unmistakable vibe. The opener, Antisceptic has a driving melodic riff reminiscent of Spiritual Healing (just try to keep still as it bounces betwix the ears) while other tracks especially Cryonesia bludgeon the listener with Mameli, Uterwijk, Choy and Foddis inspired, unpredictable, percussion. A technicality that hits the spot, miles from the stellar zaniness boasted by acts in a similar arena to Rings of Saturn. Although they also serve to quench unique ‘thirsts’ when the deman insists.
The last third of the EP, the bonus tracks found within a 7″ EP and a split released in 2014, commencess with Chemical Tomb. Although it sports more a simplistic approach, seeping with old school influence, groove elements midway through help it stand tall adding flavor to an EP that delivers from the first note to the last.
To not put too fine of a point on it The Frozen Casket (with this reissue) may finally garner the respect Cist deserve even so early on in their career. Admittedly the style displayed herein will throw any long time fan of the scene back a few years while the passion, flair, execution and seamless nature will more than appeal to those eager for audio bursting with precision rather than what’s prevalent in a genre awash with unimaginative chuggery and acts attempting to one-up their neighbors in the brutality department.
Do what you have to in order to get ahold of this, you can thank me later. 9.5
That’s about it folks.
Until next time don’t be afraid to delve into unfamiliar audio waters.
Your slave too audio extreme, undiscovered, diverse and miles from the shelves of your neighborhood ‘big box’ store.
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