Monday, February 27, 2012

Abyssal - Denouement

“...I could not help feeling that they were evil things-- mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud-background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial; and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world.”

At the Mountains of Madness
H.P. Lovecraft

Since's Portal's relative notoriety with 2007's Outre', bands of a similar ilk, whether preexisting or just birthed, have become more commonplace in the world of extreme music. It seemed like almost every "best of list" from last year contained bands who draw strong comparisons to the Australian act. Whether it was Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, or Flourishing these bands have tread similar ground, yet none better than the U.K. act Abyssal.

Maybe what attracts me the most about Abyssal is the tangible quality to their music. Stomach wrenchingly down tuned and heavy, Abyssal's sound is so ominous and heavy that moments of melody and clarity do well to offset the Stygian atmosphere and further delve the listener into the nightmarish songscape. Too heavy and overwhelming for black metal, too sinister and atmospheric for death metal, Abyssal are able to articulate a horrific sound that has some sick sense of pleasure to it. Derivations from dissonance to moments of clarity and melody all submerge to a brutish and omniscient sound that is often shrouded in dissonant fret work and a chorus of the most guttural vocals possible.

"Detritivore" might very well be the most dynamic track on the album as it explodes from a brutal technical onslaught to a catchy and melodic finger-tapping section that's almost calming as jarring because it's placed so close to something so ugly. The band shows great skill and sense of structure in atmosphere and are able to create a seemless weave throughout Denouement's fifty minute playing time.

While I have bought the digital download on their bandcamp, the images and lyrics included match perfectly and show how important it can be to offer such a thing alongside your music. Verbose and dark, the lyrics are thankfully more modern and less Lovecraftian then you might think. "Swansong of a Dying Race" is a particularly well written tune which dodges the banality that often accompanies metal songs about cataclysms.The last stanza does well to encapsulate Abyssal's outlook.

"As the vast web unravels 'neath our feet
And we fall into the ages of darkness
A deafening hum of vapidity
Is the only soundtrack to be heard"

The whole album can be listened to on their bandcamp, or downloaded for £2 (roughly $3.11 or something).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tour of Duty: France

LLN Ikon
France has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to black metal. The LLN acts such as Torgiest, Vlad Tepes, and Mütiilation (the only one to last) had their lo-fi charm and tried to combat the infamy of the Norwegian scene. Immediate successors such as Peste Noire and Celestia continued the raw and melodic style that's become such a go to for many acts around the world. Like those two mentioned, Mystic Forest brings about a huge dose of melody, but in a very classical and virtuoso style that's nearly unheard of in black metal. Diamatregon's forged themselves a bizarre path as their 2009 full length Crossroad is an homage of sorts to American blues (you won't really hear it in the music, but the album is a true grower and has such a great, raw, and dismally deep sound akin to the hardships Robert Johnson and the like sang about). Epheles had the aggression and straight ahead attack that some of those others lacked, but added a strong synth touch to the mix. Antaeus, like their namesake, were all about strength as their sound and nihilism has gone unmatched for quite sometime. Finally, there's Glorior Belli's who strangely enough also had a blues influenced album (Meet us at the Southern Sign) and have created a stable, polished style of black metal that's gotten wider distribution than most. 
This cover still baffles me. Note the dog in the foreground,  and his stupid face. The wheelchair is just a whole 'nother story.
Not included due to length and an overall lack of quality is Pensées Nocturnes whose track "Coups de Bleus" is a very faithful and well done marriage of black metal and blues. I'm just saying this because France has such a peculiar scene, from NSBM bands to shoegazers like Alcest to pioneers Deathspell Omega Blut Aus Nord and bands with a complete admiration for U.S. black southern music. There's a lot of other great acts, hope this is just a good jump off.

1. Torgeist - "Devoted to Satan" - Devoted to Satan
2. Vlad Tepes - "Untitled" - Broullions I
3. Mütiilation - "Travels to Sadness, Hate & Depression" - Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul
4. Celestia - "Prisoner of a Morbid Cradle" - A Cave Full of Bats
5. Peste Noire - "Paysage Mauvais" - Folkfuck Colie
6. Mystic Forest - "Braver Les Ombres" - Welcome Back in the Forest
7. Antaeus - "Blood War III" - De Principii Evangelikum
8. Diamatregon - "Wine" - Crossroad
9. Epheles - "Les Siècles D'ignorance" - Souviens-Toi
10. Glorior Belli - "Manifesting the Raging Beast" - Manifesting the Raging Beast

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Demo Fodder: Meth Lab

While many might think of TV's most dominate force Breaking Bad when they see  the words "meth lab," I think this Richmond act paints a far more gritty and chemically clouded sound that is truer to its name. The demo, while short (as it should be), contains a rough production that fits with its knuckle dragging splendor of basement power violence. Constant shifts in speed and attack paired with vocals akin to Infest (after a couple crystal hits) and you've got a brand of aggro ridden and attention challenged power violence that will never be content with more than 10 seconds at the same pace. Heavy, dirty, and overall smothering, Meth Lab are deceptively tight and right on the money as their demo has found itself to be a consistent listen since I received it.

Check out the demo below and follow the link to their bandcamp. This is hot off the presses, so get on it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Absu/Infernal Stronghold

Absu and Infernal Stronghold; it makes sense, but I'm still surprised by it. I think of Absu as one of those metal bands who've hit the next step and sell enough to make a living. Whether this is right or wrong (probably wrong) I didn't expect to see them team up with Infernal Stronghold, a band I picture excelling best in someone's basement in between bong rips for a totally self-produced split. All of that said, the packaging is simple, hand done, and great. Artwork courtesy of Dilek Baykara, and a great track from both bands on a flexi disc.

When I received this in the mail from Infernal Stronghold, I thought they were having a fun time with me and just mailing me a sleeve; it took a second for me to realize what a flexi disc was. Beyond the physicality of it, the music itself is great.

Absu's redeveloped sound funneled through thrashy razor riffing leads perfectly into one of Infernal Stronghold's more black metally songs with their signature grimy production. Both tracks are excellent, but it's hard not to give it to Infernal Stronghold as their dank punky take on blacken thrash is a winner 9 times outta 10.

Yeah this is a lazy post, yeah I don't give a shit.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tour of Duty - Finland

Finland, maybe more than any other country, does not get the recognition it deserves for its awesome black metal scene. While there's plenty of groups who are doing something new or bizarre from Finland (Circle of Ouroborus and Oranssi Pazuzu I'm looking at you) or Fleshpress, one of my absolute favorites, there's  something special about the stripped down bands of Finland I find most interesting.

With a names like Ollie, the Finns mean business

Vordr's got a punk kinda feel to their usually short and bombastic songs, Horna can do a 16 minute song with 4 riffs and make it their best work, or they can do short punky bursts full of riffs and animosity, Armanenschaft's a stripped down and ugly side project of former chief deacon Albert Witchfinder of Reverend Bizarre fame, Musta Surma's another lo-fi outfit who's got that special charm, Prevalent Resistance is a deceptively familiar sounding band who knows how to create a great song, Diaboli's got the whole depressive shtick to mix with that raw Finnish sound, Behexen's usually boring, but this track takes a que from Horna and gets the whole long trancy song thing down perfectly, and then there's Misantropical Painforest; the weirdest of the bunch. (Not in the mood to work on my syntax/grammar here; maybe another day comma splices full power!)


1. Vordr - "Harvesting the Crop of the Ancient" - I
2. Armanenschaft -"14000 Years" - Psychedelic Winter
3.  Horna - "Vihan Tie" - Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne
4. Musta Surma - Usvan Lapset" - Demo
5. Prevalent Resistance - "Forever the Pale Flame Burns" - To Live Again and Dominate
6. Diaboli - "Call From the Stars" - Anthems of Sorrow
7. Behexen - "Ritual of Flesh and Blood" - Horna/Behexen Split
8. Misantropical Painforest - "Besmeared the Tunic of Honour" - Winds Saturate With Inhumane Longing


Friday, February 3, 2012


As much as I wish this was actually just about Onyx, I'm gonna talk about Philly's Backslider and their latest  release instead. While it's hard for me to admit to liking anything from Philadelphia - us New Yorkers are petty when it comes to sports - this band is so up my ally I have a sneaking suspicion I've been incepted. Anyway, Backslider's music is built around rhythm and aggression paired with playful and energetic drums and vocals that might beat you up for showing too much enthusiasm.

Each song's a strip of stop n'go power violence that throws itself against the momentum it's already created in a musical sort of homage to Isaac Newton and his third law of motion. There's a sick and disgusting guitar that evens out the lack of a bassist and throaty pissed vocals to match. They're not breaking new ground with their riffs, but it's really just about the energy and the vocal delivery that'll put you on your ass.

  "Your problems are your own and it's time to fucking deal, I don't give a shit and I can't change how I feel."
"Failed Attempts at Empathy"

 It's not often you find a power violence band that 1. can rhyme without sounding retarded and 2. actually have something to say besides "fuck __"(insert whichever antagonist you'd like). Backslider find their strength in crazed attack from every side and a Sheer Terror level of anger. No more excuses for sleeping on this band.

To Live a Lie

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Forgotten Lore: Malicious Secrets

Whether it's the psychotic crap spasm that's their contribution to the excellent From the Entrails to the Dirt 4 way split, their buried EP Apostle of Him or their downright nasty demo from '99, Malicious Secrets were an absolute backdraft of black metal that played the game the way it wanted to. Their pinnacle being three tracks from the aforementioned French black metal love-fest 4 way, Malicous Secrets were always sure to keep an astounding freight train of energy going. At times the band sounds like a free-for-all, each instrument (and voice) fighting for dominance in the span of mere minutes; drums blasting, noodely leads crumbling apart and vocals just ranting on. If you've ever seen Jacob's Ladder, that hospital scene is the film equivalent of this band.

Their last track from the From the Entrails to the Dirt split.

Largely forgotten in the scope of things, Malicious Secrets were a short-lived project of Mutiilation brain baron Meyhna'ch, Tenebras of French weirdos Nuit Nore and most surprisingly, the best part of the band (the guitars) were the work of TND, some dude who played session bass in Celestia for the early part of their career (oh yeah, then there's some shlub who played bass with the great name X Daemon).

I guess true to their name, I've rarely- if ever- seen this band's name in any kind of discussion, review, or whatever else.It's a shame as this small body of work is so jagged, anxiety ridden and at times nonsensical in the best of ways (kinda like Black Flag when they just got noisy). The guitar playing and strange accents/syncopation of the drums are definite highlights and the main catalyst that drives you through meth frenzies like "Part I: Interior Crack Psycho Angel Bitch" (whatever the hell that means) or "Twisted Mental Void."

If you're familiar with related projects, such at Mutiilation, Nuit Noire or even fellow countrymen/splitmates Antaeus there's some similarities. Meyhna'ch's signature drawl is here, even though the drummer's from Nuit Noire, his style here really reminds me of the guy from Antaeus who tends to do these blast beats that fall apart in a fill at the end of each measure. If you're lucky enough to own From the Entrails to the Dirt, then good for you, but if you're not one of the elite few, be sure to get these tracks, as well as the whole split as it's a great showcase of a now aging French scene (Deathspell Omega's the only relevant band there, and they've made great strides since).

Now go and tell your friends.
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