Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Trees, flames, bones and horns

There are a couple of things I was fascinated with since I was a child. Antlers and horns were and still are one of these obsessions. They make me sigh in awe upon seeing them on majestic beasts that wear them like nature's given crowns, and it's safe to say that they usually grab my attention if present in any form of artistic work.

Summer is at our doorstep and to us Northerners it usually starts with one thing - summer solstice celebration, which will happen in less than a month from now. The day is the longest and the night only takes a couple of hours. It is a perfect time to get closer to the nature and to have some wild sex. We have been dormant for pretty much whole autumn, winter and spring, and now it is our chance to live a little. It seems that nature here tries to compensate for all of the lost time during the cold and dark period of the year which pretty much lasts the same amount of time as an average human pregnancy. I love summers here, higher up in the Northern hemisphere, and it seems that yesterday I've found a worthy soundtrack for the one to follow.

Supposedly a one man LIVE project from Poland where the multi-instrumentalist plays a six string with his one hand, drums with his feet and slaps the shit out of the snare drum and cymbals with his ginormous dong and balls as well as switches between samples with the power of mind bullets. Long story short this mastermind's music is that of a cumming-quality sludgy white boy blues reminiscent of Left Lane Cruiser... just way better, gloomier and it for sure deserved to be included into the soundtrack for True Detective's Season 1 (not to be confused with Lame Detective's Season 2). The "band" is called ROGI and as you might have gathered by now it means horns in Polish. I would love to experience this horny music god play live 'cause it looks quite impressing even captured on video.

The project has three releases so far. Buy them all! You'll receive some instant gratification, and the poor bastard will be able to afford one or two session musicians to take his music to another level.  

Also if you haven't seen True Detective's first season you are ought to do so! 

Monday, 23 May 2016

The blasphemous trinity: Chaos / 6 grind albums that don't suck

"What makes good grind good, and bad grind bad?" you may ask. Well, it is a tricky question because grind as a genre is a complete and utter shit by its very definition, but as with every piece of shit there might be a few grains of corn that have passed through the particular scene's viscera intact containing at least some nutritional value. Meaning, some of us may still find something appealing in eating already "processed" food... If I set the metaphors aside, then good grind should have:

  • punk origins;
  • fun and distinctive riffs intertwined with crazy chaotic bursts of complete wtf;
  • songs as short as possible to assure, that album ends before it all gets too boring;
  • dirty production;
  • skits (optional).

In other words, it should not be taken seriously yet sound something like this

What about bad grind then? You will know, if it's bad or not as soon as your ears will start bleeding, trust me on this one.

Listed below are a few gems, that I've found over the years, enjoy! Yes, the numbering is correct - the releases, that are marked with a number "2" are all equally good in my opinion and I couldn't decide which one is better.

4. Dead in the dirt - The Blind Hole

Guitar tone, that sounds like headphones plugged straight into the wall socket and bass tone, that of a roaring tank engine plus pounding riffs and tons of random feedback. What more do you need?

3.  Graf Orlock - Destination time tomorrow 

Cinemagrind - killer riffs and tones with the perfect amount of insanity and fun.

2. Weekend Nachos - Apology

Catchy and sludgy grooves bred with NY hardcore style vocals, furious grind and power-violence parts to produce the most brutal offspring with the most ridiculous name you may think of. Too bad they are on their last farewell tour. R.I.P, you will be missed.

2. Cloud Rat - Fever Dreams

High output emotional blackened grind. Check out their album called "Moksha" as well. These guys (and a gal) are phenomenal. One of the very few grindcore bands, that have full length concept albums.

2. Nails - Obscene Humanity

Imagine being stuck alive in a coffin, trying to scratch your way out while someone is nailing it dead shut - this band sounds somewhat similar, except the nailing part is done by a retard with a fully automatic, industrial grade nail gun.

1. Votnut - Self titled

One of the vilest things out there. If it is the first time you hear the name of this band then you haven't heard anything as violent and crushing as Votnut - this is a merciless, roaring war machine!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The blasphemous trinity: Wrath / 6 3rd wave black metal albums that don't suck

Gorgoroth's "Sign of an open eye" blasting in my headphones, distant mountains on the horizon, forests, rivers and fields below me as I look through the window of my plane: Oslo, it feels good to be back!

Norway - the land of fierce but beautiful nature, grim weather and black metal... damn it, I need to visit Bergen one day! Yeah, I know, black metal originated in the UK, but did it really?  Is Venom really the first thing, that pops into your head, whenever you hear the phrase "black metal"? They've played a great part in the development of the genre that's for sure, but church arsons, Vikernes/ Euronymous conflict, Burzum, Darkthrone and Gorgoroth are amongst my first associations, when it comes to black metal. It never was and quite frankly never will be Venom. Although the particular genre has grown into a world wide phenomenon since the early 90's, I think and I'm quite sure, that at least a few people will agree with me on this one - the true spirit of black metal has died... and it was just now I realized, that I sounded like an utter douche - TRVE KVLT and all that bullcrap. Anyhow, black metal was supposed to be a form of rebellion against nicely produced western metal, repulsive and raw, a killer of trends so to speak, but the funny thing was, that it set the trend for the next few decades amongst both heavy music artists and listeners all around the globe. Oh, the irony is strong with this one...

For the sake of the article, let's call every modern black metal band a 3rd wave BM band. Officially 3rd wave is supposed to be originated only from USA, but I'm a European and Europeans just like honey-badgers don't give a shit... so long story short, proto black metal in 80's - 1st wave, black metal in 90's - 2nd wave and black metal in 2000's - 3rd wave.

Let me be straight up honest here, I think, that most of the 3rd wave BM bands are boring, generic and too much about structure yet too little about the substance. Obviously crossing genres is a good thing as it helps music to evolve. Staying TRVE is just plain childish and stupid. The good example of the genre inter-breeding, would be blackened bands like Dragged into sunlight, Lord Mantis, Menace Ruine, Kosmokrator and Portal. But in this case, when I'm talking more of a "traditional" black metal sound, artists tend to compensate the lack of atmosphere with song-writing, that's too complex, filled with heart-breaking motifs, melodic hooks and shredding solos, which results in a Hello Kitty toy instrument quality wanking. Less is more, when it is delivered with style and restraint!

Behold the six 3rd wave black metal albums, that don't suck.

6. De Silence et d'Ombre - Volume I

A presumably one man project with a really wide spectrum of music created - from the albums, that suck tremendous amounts of dick, to the albums that make your cum, and everything in between. This is inconsistent musicianship at its best!

5. AKHLYS - The Dreaming I

Some nice exploration of darkness.

4. Cobalt - Gin

Black metal from somewhere between the kingdom of Tool and mountain peaks of High On Fire. I must confess, that I haven't listened to all songs on Cobalt's new album "Slow Forever" yet, but I have made a promise to myself, that I'll listen to it at some point just to have a more or less constructive opinion about this matter. Gin however to put it mildly was quite impressive.

3. Myrkur - M

Listened to it once - didn't catch the vibe; twice - still didn't catch it; thrice - caught it and now I just can't stop listening. A friend once told me, that it is ORGASMIC. I'm afraid I'm unable to disagree.

2. Writhe - The Shrouded Grove

These two tracks deliver some tear-jerking and eerie melodies, that pull my strings and they pull hard. It happens very rarely, but I've had some extra moisture in my eyes while I was listening to this release. Highly recommended!

1. Leviathan - Scar Sighted

The more I listen to this album the more it grows on me. To think that one man could have created this piece of art is completely insane. I mean, to write and record every part for every single instrument, track all vocals, write all the lyrics and to create all the artwork (every track on the album has its own piece) takes tremendous amount of work, dedication and talent. The result is spot on. One of the finest and most artistic albums BM scene has to offer since ever!

Friday, 13 May 2016

The blasphemous trinity: Pride / 6 modern popular extreme metal albums that don't suck

A few things piss me off more than people with bad taste sticking the garbage, that passes as modern popular extreme metal into my face. Let's be honest here - we all know a guy or a gal, who shoves Slipknot, Amon Amarth, every other generic shitty core band, or something similar down your throat at a party, saying, that this is the most extreme, and the most talented band ever. Even though I usually roll my eyes backwards and try to perform the best possible Irish exit I can from a conversation like that, I don't question the professionalism of musicians within these bands. Without doubt they are quite professional, because these people are actually making money with their (or someone else's) music. I do however question their artistic value and despise them in a way I despise Lil Wayne or Katty Perry. Metal in my eyes is and should remain the outsider art form - vile, gritty and dirty. A subculture of loners not just screaming of isolation and trouble-hood, but actually living it, agents of chaos spreading seeds of anger and despair, and charismatic sociopaths literally breaking their bones and shitting on stage just to get their message across. 

The great pendulum of trends has swung and streets nowadays are filled with hordes of 1950's men's style larpers with factory slabbed, gooey haircuts, oily beards, Sailor Jerry era tattoos and shitty generic music in their Beats headphones. A few years will pass, deathcore and all of its chugging accomplices will fade into the abyss, something else will take its place and the disfigured, sacred, moolah making cow will be milked by industry's corporate masters once again.

There are however popular bands in the genre that keep pushing the envelope and are making great music, yet I'm afraid their work is like pearls thrown before hogs, that are all about the food and no taste.

Before I dive into the actual albums, let me define, what I consider to be modern popular extreme metal:

  • modern - let's say anything that isn't older than a decade;
  • popular - at least a couple of thousands (just being modest here) copies sold; band is known worldwide;
  • extreme - the opposite of mainstream and incorporating a lot of exaggeration;
  • metal - a substance with high electrical conductivity, luster, and malleability, which readily loses electrons to form positive ions.

6. Beneath the Massacre - Dystopia

Technical death metal outfit from Montreal, Canada. Sometimes, when I listen to them, it seems like these guys are not organic. To achieve this type of technical perfection, you must be mechanical instead -they make Origin sound like a big joke.

5. Cattle decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity

This is deathgrind made right! Wall of punishing and chaotic sound, precise and lightning-fast drumming, raspy goblin like melodic vocals you haven't heard before and lyrical themes not heard in metal far too often.

4. The Red chord - Clients

Ass kicking, grinding, rock infused deathcore. Yes deathcore, get over it!

3. The Dillinger escape plan - Option Paralysis

Spastic band, who traverses through the sub-genres like they wouldn't even exist. The front-man is a sociopathic lunatic and his stage presence is intimidating to say the least.

2. Mastodon - Crack the Skye

Four masterminds engaging in an ethereal dance of musical instruments!

1. Behemoth - The Satanist
Behemoth is one of those few bands, who have grown into an entity of its own far beyond the charismatic identities of its band members. Prosecuted by the Catholic church in their homeland and abhorred in various countries, these Polish blackened death metal pioneers, have crafted, what is to be hands down the best modern popular extreme metal music album released in the last decade. Even though the lyrical themes reach far beyond the definition of what is good and evil through the medium of Christian dogma, the album is bravely named "The Satanist" as if mocking close-minded people, that like to label other individuals based on their own shallow and ridiculous perception of the world they live in.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

And with her came the birds

April 14th / The Introduction

My pre-order of "Mariner" limited edition CD album has been dispatched from Amazon today and it is on it's way to me. It is an album written by Sweden's post-metal pioneers "Cult of Luna" in collaboration with the frantic and luscious vocalist Julie Christmas from now already defunct bands "Made out of babies" and "Battle of Mice".

I've started listening to Cult of Luna, when I was about 16 years old. Their music took up quite a significant portion of my everyday listening material back then. Over the years I've neglected them, only occasionally returning back to the all time favorite tracks like "Leave me here", "Circle" and "Dark City, dead man". I guess they got too boring for my taste as my musical view widened. So I stopped following this band up until they had released their album "Vertikal", which to my surprise was in one word - fantastic. As for Julie, well, her voice can be sweet and soothing or out of control and menacing, her lyrics - bizarre and her looks - stunning. It may seem like it, but let me assure you, that I don't have a crush on her... although I must admit she is really hot. Around 7 years have passed since I first heard Battle of Mice's "A Day of Nights" record, and yet I still think that the track "Sleep & Dream" has one of the most awe inspiring lyrics I've heard in a metal song to this day.

Based on, what I wrote in the previous paragraph, you might guess the reason, why I've been dying to get this record in my possession immediately after I saw the teaser for it. 

To make things more interesting for myself and to raise the anticipation, I have decided to listen to it only, when I will receive the physical copy. Now I just need not to get my expectations up too high.

April 19th / The Trial

Mariner is finally here. Time to listen to it.

Greater call - A splendid intro followed by the not so splendid and in-your-face Perrson's vocals! Why? Why, in the name of all that is sacred in metal, couldn't his vocals be at the same level Julie's vocals are on this track? The weird "core" like riff @3:55 didn't make much sense as well. Apart from having quite ugly parts, the song also contains excellent bits, so taking that in consideration, I will listen further and not just stop the record here. Although I'm beginning to feel as if all of this could be a monstrous disappointment.

Chevron contains one of the smoothest transitions between tracks since ever, yet it is a pity, that the rest of the song is a total meh-fest. Unmemorable, no tasty riffs, no hooks, no grooves, no nothing...

The Wreck of S.S. Needle - Finally a decent and memorable track. The vocals are a bit too high in the mix at times though. I'm getting kinda tired of vocals being shoved down my throat at this point. It feels like the audio engineer tried making voices the focal point of the whole album. The production is screaming: "WITNESS the vocals! Don't waste your time appreciating the outstanding instrumentation!" In my opinion vocal and instrumentation levels should be kept as they are at 4:40 everywhere throughout the record. That part of the song is mesmerizing both musically and production wise.

Approaching Transition - It seems like the previous track was a juncture. Probably that was the moment, when the band decided not to suck a bag of dicks on this record and try sounding awesome instead.

The beautiful and spacey vibes are accompanied by processed clean vocals. The effects used here make lead singer's voice sound like it is coming from the drain-pipe, which is pretty cool, if you ask me. Around 9th minute the song reaches it's climax and a nice, destructive riff kicks in, soon after it fades into nothingness, and I can't decide whether it is good or not.

Cygnus - At motherfucking last everything stands into it's rightful place! Thank you! The instruments, the vocals and the effects are all in equilibrium. Nothing pops out from the mix.

This is a bit unusual for post-metal, but the track actually contains a guitar solo. If done correctly, an occasional solo here and there, as long as it doesn't turn into pretentious fret-board wanking, adds another layer to the song, freshens things up and makes everything sound a bit more psychedelic.

A superb song! Definitely my favorite track here. I just wish the whole record was like this...

May 8th / The Verdict

The boxing is delightful and whoever created the design for the cover and that digibook deserves a pat on the back. It is both ascetic and fine polished.

As for the music itself, the first two tracks sucked big time. The rest was good. It isn't Cult's best work up to date that's for sure, but it's definitely good. Same goes for Julie. I must say, that the production and mastering ruined it for me. I'm a fan of a rawer sound and Mariner was missing the "hair" - everything sounded too polished, too modern and too clean. Vocal levels were a complete turnoff as well, because at times they were too loud and distracting from the quite impressive instrumentation parts.

A solid 6/10. If the first two tracks would be non-existent, I would rate it 8/10.