Everybody who witnessed a concert by Cologne Black-Metal-masters Ultha knows that this was more than an assembly of musicians who work for a common goal, or a common sound. It was a kind of vision of what music should be able to do – including helping its human sources get rid of some feelings. Music from the heart and for the heart – if you want to find out more about that check out “The Inextricable Wandering”. Now two of the Ultha -boys have founded a new band called Ropes of Night and the quintet has published their first EP in mid-May via Golden Antenna Records. This is not black metal but glorious post-punk and thus it follows Ralph’s love for that glorious early 80s sound that was driven and melancholic, dark and stellar at the same time. All of this can also be heard on this self-titled debut 7inch. “Halo Cage” is a bit like Joy Division bit with more grit and bit and really takes off into one’s ear canal never to leave it for quite some time. “Faith” is a bit noisier and has a kind of shoegazey feeling to it, which might be a bit like Jesus and Mary Chain. Charming is the voice of vocalist Tatjana who sounds like an 80s pop idol on the right side of the musical spectrum. Both tracks could be leftovers from any of the good ole days when music like this was steaming hot and before it was turned into the poppy mess called New Wave or New Romantics. If you only want blastbeats and screaming, then forget about Ropes of Night; but if you liked Ultha for the underlying emotional darkness – this is your new go-to-band. They have that certain something “more”.
post metal / black metal
For a long time now, lots of metal and post-metal bands have been proclaiming their love for the Deftones as they were the one band amongst the NuMetal-wave of the late 90s that had a more diverse sound. This influence can also be heard when listening to the self-titled debut by Endless Forms Most Gruesome from Finland. The duo consisting of Ghost Brigade’s Manne Ikonen and mastermind Juuso Raatikainen (Swallow the Sun) plays a harsh, blackened kind of post-metal that fits very well to this day and age as they are afraid to first run over the listener: Opening track “Black Hole” sounds more like Full of Hell collaborating with KK Null in all its direct, noisy attack. But after this quick clearing of space in the audience’s ears they spread their filthy, yet sometimes experimenting post-metal. And here the Deftones definitely come into play: EFMG are not as groovy as the usual NuMetal-clones but they rather make use of the Sacramentonians’ experiments with sending singular guitar lines through the songs. This way, the Deftones were able to incorporate a kind of soulfulness and lightness into their sound which EFMG also tries to establish. Or they use some gentle picking over a soft string arrangement in “Free Fall from Womb to Grave” just before they riff their way through the rest of the song and show Juuso’s roots in doom metal. A promising debut in all its low-tuned, upwards-thinking, lyrically-miserable glory.
punk / death metal / black metal
Karloff from Oldenburg, Germany have listened to some Stooges and Blue Cheer, but also some classic old school death metal stuff or stuff like Bathory. The punk thing is the first thing that strikes, listen to “Fright Fever” for example. High speed octane stuff, very much like New Bomb Turks or Turbonegro with a drummer releasing his inner Animal – remember the Muppets? But that would indicate a certain non-committing to their own ideals which is definitely wrong because Karloff is not one of these Motley Crue wannabe-bands. The guys from Northern Germany take their music seriously and that is probably the biggest difference to guys like Hank Van Helvete, they are no novelty act. The blackened vocals show despair and often blend seem like a mix of classic early hardcore shouters and black metal singers, sometimes even being close to thrash metal. The excellent riffing and precision make for a force to be reckoned with.
shoegaze / doom
Lyon, France is known to be a tasteful town. With newcomers Hadewijch a new chapter seems to be added to the former culinary capital of the world. One that doesn’t known boundaries or limitations – at least, not many. It’s not that they seem to have no musical boundaries, because they do perform within the frame of doomy post-metal. But they seem to have a very open-minded mindset as they want to show the possibilities of musically transcending the bodily realms, just like a good herbal therapy. This can also be noticed when listening to their debut-EP which is one, single track – but 19 minutes long. In that time, you can hear a lot of doomy but also noisy shoegaze elements that will help you find some positive vibes for your life. You might hear some Neurosis or My Bloody Valentine, to give you an idea that might push the comparisons a bit too far. The trio is not yet on the level of the bands mentioned, but they are quite good and for a debut, this is promising quite a lot. It will be interesting to see with which noise they follow their herbal and musical theory; nevertheless, they give you one more reason to think highly of the tasty town Lyon.
sludge / death metal
Portland, Oregon is a very interesting city with many very different scenes – ranging from Industrial tunes like Folian to an interesting indie scene surrounding Kill Rock Stars. However, one should not forget Portland’s extreme metal scene, here one shouldn’t forget Tchornobog, UADA, Bible Black Tyrant or – from now on – Tithe.
Their debut album “Penance” was just released via Dutch label Tartarus Records and is a good example of how people from Portlandians seemingly don’t care about what people think a record should sound like. Very often, records from the Pacific Northwest sound awesome and at the same time have an underlying sound-construct that is hard to pinpoint: For example, Tchornobog’s records are often doomy or UADA’s are steeped in atmosphere. In that sense, Tithe are good ambassadors of their hometown, as their debut stresses another side of American metal: Southern Swamp. Not that they sound like a black metal version of the Allman Brothers or another version of Crowbar, but one can clearly hear the influence of a band like Eyehategod or their sound. Sometimes, even some kind of Pantera-groove can be audible. A good example would be the final track “Lullaby”.
What is really unique about Tithe is their use of samples through which they also clarify their thematic idea. “Penance” is about problems of one’s position within society that only hurts us on a regular basis. “Scum” starts with a monologue that ends with the words “Until the day you die / You, not me, will always be shit”, just before a harsh death-metal rollercoaster starts its rage. The key line is “Selfish insect / No remorse / Souless Devil / Burn your ties / Burn your family / Die alone / You reap what you sow” - the person addressed surely did something to deserve this tirade and must have hit the narrator badly. “Discordia Tetrahedron” throws the line “Cathartic healing release / Sorrow and joy rejoice / Pushing the heart through the void” into your ears – we all must heal from the wounds slashed by others.
Musically the band shows some good moments when they step a bit on the breaks and give the songs more than just speed and rage. The intro to “Mantra” definitely shows that clearly, just like the small parts in “Lullaby” when the trio slows it down a bit to let the song unfold its tornado-like pull.
These moments should be a hint at what the band is capable of achieving if they concentrate a bit more on varying their musical arsenal, not always going full-throttle and head-on. Tithe has all the factors necessary to become another benchmark for Portland’s extreme metal scene. A staple within an already immensely diverse and successful group of bands from the Pacific Northwest.
black metal / death metal
Very often, “supergroups” suck because there is vast amount of namedropping heightening the expectations and then you get a record, listen to it and … throw it onto the shelf. Nevertheless, if a journalist doesn’t play the naming-game he or she’s going to be cut off because of bad research. So here we go: Blood Incantation. Spectral Voice. Wayfarer. Khemnis. Primitive Man. Need more? Then check their metal-archives page. And now on to the thing that matters, the music.
The debut-release by Denver-based extreme metal outfit Black Curse is mind-changing:
First of, because of its ability to simply terrorize your mind. Those harsh speedy, double blast-attacks can totally slit every ligament you might possess in your neck. If listening to it on earphones, be advised to start with a low volume and then slowly turn it up. The songs often start their harakiri-attacks on the very first tone, using that moment of surprise to its fullest advantage.
Second, because they lure into a false sense of “Oh, I understand, this is pure rage and no sense for melody!” True, on the surface that’s exactly it. However, if your ears got used to all of the noise screaming in (be it via the instruments or the vocals by Eli Wendler) one might notice the small razorblades underneath all of the blunt axes. Razorblades because they cut wounds and yet glisten and radiate if you hold it into the sunlight. Many songs use a fine layer of mid-level echos on some minuscule guitar parts so that there is that notion of noise rock underneath it the black and death metal surfaces.
Third, as they create a whole cosmos of dissonances it is sometimes hard to figure out where these come from, so that in the end it’s unclear which genre this might be shelved on. Yes, this is black metal. Yes, there is a lot of death metal. Yes, it’s noisy as hell. In some way this one might be a perfect example of how genres make no sense, let’s just call it extreme metal as it incorporates parts from each.
Fourth, because there is melody in all of this. Take the final track “Finality I Behold” (with 8:51 also the longest track in these roughly 40 minutes): The opening 25 seconds before the start of the black metal vocals are good post-metal with dominating drums taking over your heartbeat. The harsh blast-beats then disguise the moments of clear riffing that are carefully woven into the fabric of all of this. After 150 seconds there is a change for a kind of more noise-driven blastbeat before the song slows down a bit in its middle with the bass leading the way through some slower passages.
Well, after forty minutes your ears might be bleeding, your neural connections might be dead and because of that you hit the repeat button. Why. Not. Give. it. Another. Try? This is an “Endless Wound” after all. (And sometimes supergroups do make sense.)
A death metal act from New Zealand has been setting the bars high for a genre that has definitely seen some very good releases over the past couple of years. Never mind all the artists that set new measures for death metal (for example Blood Incantation with their doom infused record from 2019), Auckland’s very own Ulcerate are the ones to beat; even though not everybody notices.
The band has been releasing highly acclaimed records for more than ten years and yet, their new record “Stare into Death and be Still” is a new watermark for the whole genre. Roughly an hour stretched across eight songs (the shortest 5:41; the longest 8:25) this record is more than an old-school death metal album. The question to be answered is how they achieved that with not changing too much and with still-sounding like themselves.
In short: they stayed the course! The trio is still delivering cleverly arranged death metal tracks with lots of speed changes, with earthquake-like shredding, with raging bursts and with gut-wrenching vocals. They are able to intersperse their songs with sometimes minute pauses when they slow down audible from Defcon 1 down to 3 before jumping back to alert level 2 for a mere ten seconds and then slow it down all the way to Defcon 4 for a few breaths before the song finally bursts into near atomic war defense readiness conditions – and that was just the description of roughly two minutes within the title track. So much is happening in each of the songs that one doesn’t know where to start.
Something very special about Ulcerate is still the way they build tension. The awesome intro to “There is no Horizon” might be a good example for this: a near-post-rock space is clad with guitar pickings and single cymbals before the whole thing really kicks in after 26 seconds. But even then there seems to be a whiff of that posty-ness they used at the very beginning underneath all the blasting drums, the marching riffs and the growls to kill (for). And that ability to construct moods through songs and small additions from other genres only becomes more obvious throughout the record, for it becomes more and more a remarkable mix of rough post and clever death-metal.
The lyrics – as death-metal-like unintelligible as they may be – also add to the cult following the band wherever they go. With lines like “Banished to a fate worse than death / No worth remains of this condemned existence / Soon to be annulled” (from said title track) it becomes clear that Ulcerate are pretty unique in their way of expressing ideas. What could be worse than death? Silence. Obsolete-ness. Being forgotten and becoming nameless.
This record might not completely invent the whole genre anew, but every – EVERY – death metal record of 2020 will be measured against this. And I will be damned if it can be beaten; that is hard to imagine.
New Zealand: if you got more bands of this kind, please do everything you can to make them known!
In the abundance of releases during the last year we rediscovered an album that, honestly, deserves more attention with a review. Since a lot of bands and artists put the releasing of their new work on hold (Corona lockdowns)we took the time to dig up some forgotten pearls to the surface.
Blood Oath latest production, Infernum Rex Diabolus, saw officially the light at the end of December 2019. The band from Leicester United Kingdom was formed in 2015 from the remains of the death metal band Black River Project which was already disbanded in 2007.
Blood Oath plays catchy old school death metal drenched in venomous guitar riffs. Guitar players Frazer Hart and Mike Freeman construct a waving pattern in speed, technical input and melodic approach creating nine interesting tracks on the album. Rhythm section Bill Fordham (bass) and Adrian McGlennon (drums) make the furious sound of the band greasier with controlled blast beats and rolling bass guitar work. The vocal excretions of bulldozer Mark ‘Trax’ Johnson roar like a wounded grizzly while in the main time the grim lyrics are still understandable.
Infernum Rex Diabolus is the band’s second album and melts the Swedish, American and British death metal styles in to a solid and powerful crushing roller. Blood Oath provides melodic guitar solos, blasting dubble bass drums and a threatening atmosphere in their skull crushing music. This is mandated death metal food for the fans of Carcass, Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and Venenum. Blood Oath delivers a very good and addictive album that feeds our ardent love for extreme music even more. Top release.
doom / death metal
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Italians are the masters of doom metal. I know, there is decent doom metal being produced pretty much everywhere but somehow Italy constantly manages to produce a massive amount of high quality albums. In fact, there's a sticker on the album saying "Italian Doom Metal", which mostly serves as a quality label.
Furthermore, most of the doom bands from over there don't merely follow the trends. Today, sludge doom and post-metal are incredibly popular niches while melodic doom death is mostly being ignored. Not so in Italy, where yet another masterpiece of melodic doom will spawn on March 20.
Titled 'Empire Of The Void', this third album by Tethra is a blast. From the very beginning of the intro, 'Cosmogenesis', it's clear that we're dealing with a must-have. Drones and twin guitars, we're descending back into the nineties, so it seems. And yes, then comes 'Cold Blue Nebula', an instant classic for those who adore November's Doom, Paradise Lost, Amorphis, Saturnus, My Dying Bride and so on. Heavy riffing, melodic guitars, tempo changes, harsh grunts, clean vocals,... this song has everything to become a fan favorite.
After that, the 'Gravity' trilogy begins, a massive anthem in three acts. I must say, as impressive as the opening track was, this trilogy is a stunner. I immediately turned up the volume and I immediately felt like I did when I first heard the albums by some of the aforementioned bands. Moonspell comes forward as a reference here, mainly in the clean vocal parts. I also often found myself thinking (and yelling out loud), "Fuck, this is awesome". I rarely use the F-word, so that is a compliment.
But, although I can namedrop a heap of nineties doom metal bands, I think it's important to point out that Tethra is a worthy player in their own right. The album is extremely coherent and extremely captivating. There is plenty of variation, yet still it feels like a concept album. Furthermore, 'Space Oddity' is a baffling cover version of David Bowie's classic. I could never have imagined this song could be even more crushing. I think this was a risk, but a well executed one. Kudos for this emotional tribute.
Another one of my favorites on 'Empire Of The Void' is 'Dying Signal', which nudges towards the black metal scene with intense riffs and a pitch black atmosphere. Back in those days, the heavy nineties, this track would be the one that made me decide to purchase the CD, and with that I'll recommend every melodic doom metal fan to do exactly that. Tethra cannot disappoint you. Their name belongs among those I mentioned earlier and this album belongs in between your all-time favorites. It's as simple as that...
Keelrider – Sun / Too Far Gone
grunge / stoner rock
Iceland’s scene is very likely one of the strongest worldwide as we are talking about a country with roughly 360,000 inhabitants and yet we all know so many bands from Iceland pushing the brim for modern music further and further. Keelrider is another one of those, although they most likely will not see as much attention as Sigur Ros, Björk or the whole Icelandic black metal scene because they are Stoner Grungers with a twist. In 2018 they published their debut album “North” and last year they published two singles from their upcoming album “Second Wind”. While “Too Far Gone” is in parts a very nice melange of Alice in Chains-vocals and Soundgarden-stoner riffs, “Sun” is much more interesting because the band some a little more variety when it comes to time signatures and giving the guitar lines more space to breathe. If you are into stoner rock and grunge, this band is something right for you!
Calendula – De Brevitatis
Post-Metal from Italy. Most foreigners automatically associate it with Postvorta but some, a little deeper in and a little longer might remember the name Calendula, the sextet from Parma, which released an EP (2011) and a full-length (2012) a while ago. After some changes concerning line-up and musical direction, they released a 25-minute-song in November which definitely doesn’t fit to the title “De Brevitate Vitae” - it’s not brevis (brief) at all. It is quite a monster with a lot of dynamic changes and oscillates between dynamic driving drums and some really clever, counteracting guitar-work following the long intro, which sometimes hints at a bit of Tool. The vocals are pretty good, they also use some samples to give it a more differentiated sonic outline. Something that can be criticized is the sound as the partially trashy Lo-Fi sound doesn’t really fit a record as ambitious as this one, although on the other side it fits to the proclaimed role models – 90s post-rock bands such as Slint (noticeable in the very effective guitar motif after the first real break). If the guys follow this path, we might have two Italian associations with the term Post-Metal.
A Heart Beats – Dazes the Mind
Svart Records is one of the finest labels when it comes to hard, harsh music, most people know about that. Most people do not know that they also have an electronic sub-label – Svartronix which again is very open-minded. A few weeks ago they released the debut song by A Heart Beats “Dazes the Mind” which is pop music that fits perfectly in any 80s mix of songs by some tropical house producer. This songs purvey a kind of Caribbean calypso feeling but their sex-appeal derives to a large extent from the intriguing vocals of Paile who once was a member of Beastmilk. His delivery is very nice and especially the chorus is so funky that one automatically feels his feet moving, but the line also has some depth “It dazes the mind / and numbs the tongue”. The beats produced by Tuuki are layered with some space basslines in the sense of some more synth-driven Daft Punk and the beat itself is shuffling a bit, so that the sunny, opening sounds give the song a holiday feeling without the stupidity. A promising debut song, let’s hope A Heart Beats and Svartronix has some more servings.
Intaglio – The Memory of Death
doom / death metal
Russian death doom act Intaglio released a demo version of a new track at the end of last year and in some way, the beauty lies in the rhythm. Many voices will now scream that the rhythm is nothing particular new to the genre, as the slow, dragging rhythm of the song is really quite normal, but the way that the strings connect to it, support it in certain passages, yeah, even form it from time to time, that is really breathtaking – the Gothic attitude it brings to the song turns it into a remarkable one. The lyrics, speaking about the overwhelming character of a memory of death which overshadows everything else, are delivered in regular death metal style. Another standout feature is the use of the use of an upright bass that is tuned so well, that you can hear each tap and each ring.
In some way, three pretty singular metal genres are amalgamated into one pretty dense net of emotions that will leave no open ear without imprinting a memory of itself on the listener. If this is a first sign of a new album then one might keep Intaglio in mind.
American Nightmare – Life Support
Everything about this 7” screams “Old school! Old school!”, the cover (seemingly a reverse from the classic Minor Threat discography cover that also was adopted by Rancid several years ago), the cover b-side, the black-white style, the sound, everything! But first things first: The revived band released a good album in 2018 and last December followed with this 7” out on Heartworm Press. The title track is a new shotgun blast somewhere between Zeke, MC5, The Clash, Turbonegro and Black Flag (although one must say, that only the vocals sometimes hint at Rollins) – definitely a good track. The b-side is a well-made cover of “Left for Dead” by The Lemonheads another one of these late 80s punk bands that turned more and more to indie-rock. The cover is good and shows a different side to American Nightmare. However, there is one thing that is lacking in this release and that is the teenage angst that made AN famous. The despair, the sadness, the melancholy – not there. On the other hand, that might drive the listener to despair and achieves the same effect.
Tuatha – The Lore of Place
avant garde / folk
There are genres that seemingly are so heavily steeped in tradition and customs that it is hard to imagine to hear a new sound in them. Take Irish Folk for example; most of us at first might associate it with pub nights somewhere between the Dubliners and Christy Moore (at best) or Michael Flatley and Enya (at worst). But to combine the traditional folk instruments bodhran, flute, violin, and guitar with a wall of sound, lots of spoken word (not cheerfully and rhythmically, but rather intimidating and fierceful) is something rarely heard before. Tuatha is a fierce project that will leave some of us open-mouthed. Formed in early 2019 and already a rising star on the scene, the septet uses old Irish tales from the Middle Ages and Gaelic Dindsenchas (short poems describing certain places) to deepen their already impressive style. In parts, their unrelentless approach reminds one of the approach Archive and SubRosa took in totally different musical landscapes. This here is unique, bewitching and typical Irish yet also totally un-Irish. Folks, give Tuatha a listen!
Mosara – Demo 2019
sludge / doom
A quartet from Phoenix, Arizona with a very grainy, heavy sound, Mosara released their debut demo last November. It shall be a prelude to a record which is in the making and should see the light of day before the end of the year; of course the demo should also draw interest from labels and I think it might: The musical soundscape is strongly influenced by a lot of proto-metal like Sabbath, Blue Cheer, but also by classic doom bands like Electric Wizard or Cough – that means, you get what you expect, low-tuned, richly-distorted, grainy, a bit lofi-ish doom sounds with a tinge of sludge influences (most audible on the second track “Clay and Iron”). Sometimes the howls and growls could be a bit fiercer and less despaired because, sometimes, Tony Gallegos (ex-Twingiant) is a bit too clear. Nevertheless the sound is great, as if someone mated Fu Manchu with Sabbath and their offspring was left in the desert with a guitar as the only means of communication. The riffs are dragging, the bass is dominant, the drums are supportive – all good in the Arizona desert.
Ploughshare – Tellurian Insurgency
death metal / black metal / doom / noise / grindcore
Noise bastard? Yeah. Death metal? Sometimes. Grindcore? For sure. Doomy Gloom? You bet. All of that and more is “Tellurian Insurgency” by Ploughshare. With their third release in as many years (after 2017’s “Literature of Piss” and 2018’s acclaimed “In Offal, Salvation”) the quartet from Australia’s capital Canberra once again proves that the bar is always too low for them. Excellent musicians with a highly complex understanding of how music works they show that extreme metal must also rely on atmosphere that sometimes exists between the chords and blastbeasts. A great deal of the attraction of this band is the vocals, which never sound cheesy but quite on point. This EP also features a remix of their standout song, the title track of “In Offal, Salvation”, which shows that it is even possible to give this dark nightmare of a song an even more desperate twist. One thing that becomes clear throughout the record is how important good drumming is for such a kind of music as it must set the tone for everyone. If the guys can keep up their productivity we should await a new heir to the extreme metal throne in 2020.
Lament Cityscape – The New Wet
Describing this Oakland, CA, quartet is not that easy and not that difficult at the same time. Their sound relies heavily on synths, samples but also on guitar, bass and drums. They cross constantly between electronic noise (aka industrial) and post-punk’ish avantgarde sounds. Initiated in 2013 and having independently released already a bunch of records, Lament Cityscape set out to publish three EPs in 2020, each following some red thread and yet also standing out on its own. Something that they share with some of the pioneers of this kind of sonic assault (Godflesh, Killing Joke, Author & Punisher) are the harsh sounds that sometimes remind one of buoys warning the oncoming ships of the nearby rocks and sandbanks which here are symbolized by the rough drum attacks. In parts, this is a good record for those who like Godflesh’s Streetcleaner a bit less polished and a bit more straightforward. Partially, one is left behind by a lack of surprise, but fans of industrial noises and harsh synth-driven drums will really like this.
Blood Spore – Fungal Warfare Upon All Life
At first, the band’s name might sound like a nice pun on 80s karate flic “Bloodsport” (with the amazing multiple Academy Award winning actor Jean-Claude van Shakespeare) but when listening to this new face on renown Swedish Meta label Blood Harvest it becomes clear that the idea of a fungi which sits parasitically on its host and feeds of it before finally killing it works perfectly within the black metal community. It also works nicely because the record to it is really good and leaves one’s ears with an immediate wish to press replay because of its clever changes in mood, dynamics and tempi. The record (especially the second track “Cede to the Saprophyte”) is like a nice blend of groove metal and black metal with the emphasis, of course, on the latter. Thematically, the record presents the idea of the fungal mass on this planet slowly but certainly taking over and destroying all other organisms, a new take on the apocalyptic visions presented by bands like Botanist or Arx Atrata. For a band that only came together in 2018, this is really somewhat impressive.
black metal / death metal
Debut albums are very complicated, especially nowadays, when it’s more or less already do or die. Either your record is strong enough to attract as much attention as necessary or not. With Seattle’s new five-piece collective Izthmi the answer is a straightforward YES! The band surrounding vocalist Jakob Keizer is able to throw a lot of different influences and genres into the blender stirring it a lot and then pouring a mesmerizing collection of songs into the listeners’ ears.
Atmospheric acoustic guitars and heavy shredding – yet never without a strong sense for melodies – provided by two guitarists who seemingly have listened to lots of doom and black metal although they are able to develop a very self-sustaining amalgam and not to sound like a clone of any role model. The ability to give the album a red line in the form of little distortion on some of the tracks and some over-steering connected to the synth sounds.
One thing that definitely doesn’t go unnoticed is the fact that the drumming is definitely on point and a very essential part of the songwriting. The band uses a lot of dynamic changes in style and pattern and very often the force steering it all or connecting it all is Nolan Head’s drumming. He incorporates precise blastbeats as well as small, minute parts. A brilliant example of Izthmi’s breathtaking songwriting is “Useless is the Song of Man, From Throats calloused by name” – huge buildings are constructed and torn apart, small and calm parts go hand in hand with explosions and eruptions.
Not a lot of bands will be able to convince the audience as much in a genre of their own, because that is what makes this record even more impressive. The band can draw from a bunch of genres and never sound like a pure black metal band, or a pure death metal band. They are always self-conscious in their arrangements and sound. If you are looking for a new band to “know” before they become big – Izthmi might very well be it!
post metal / death metal /experimental
I've often thought about what goes into making an album. How the push and pull of various influences plays out in creating a work of musical art. Does anyone have overall control of the project or do each member have an equal say in what is produced? Having only a tiny fraction of musical talent myself I am fascinated as to how great albums come to be in existence. I would love to know the answers to a few of my previous questions when it comes to the latest album by Italian band Nero Di Marte called Immoto.
Lead by the very distinctive vocals of singer Sean Worrel who sings somewhere between a controlled growl and a clean style, not a million miles away from Joe Duplantier. This lengthy album (it clocks in at over 67 minutes long) runs the gamut of several musical styles and does so exceedingly well. The first song Sisyphos is a great introduction to the rest of the album. It starts with gentle guitar strums before Sean's impassioned vocals come in over the top before exploding in a frenzy of blast beats and a wall of noise which ebbs back into calmer waters after a few minutes. This dynamic between the light ambient slower side and the cacophonous frenetic darker side are at the beating heart of this album. A lot of bands I've listened to have a great grasp of these dynamics, Nero Di Marte skate this line and come perilously close to falling off it at times, but most of the time they seem to correct the course and balance out the equation. I say most of the time as there are occasions when they fall prey to over indulgence and I can't help but feel with a bit of trimming some of the more indulgent passages, this album could have been stupefyingly good, rather than just great. Album highlight L'Arca is a maelstrom of heady extreme music and really showcases the best the band has to offer. Every member gets a chance to shine and the rhythm section in particular sound like they are having a blast, literally at times.
Overall, this album is an outrageously good listen, the web-like strands weaved by the band create occasional magic. If you like your extreme music with a healthy dose of calmer sections then do not miss this album, it is wonderful.
This one man debut was released in the beginning of February 2019. The CD was given to us by a fan when we visited one of the oldest record shops of Ghent Belgium. Ethereal Darkness is the project of a certain moniker Lars playing all the instruments and taking care of the death and black metal voices on Smoke And Shadows.
Melodic based death metal is mixed with gothic and black metal atmospheres. The album brings a story of life reflections balancing between life and death. Thoughtful lyrics tell stories about loss, love, acceptance, hope and remission. The darker side of life is etched in song structures containing heavy hypnotic guitar riffs and blasting beats. Mysterious Lars knows how to play the strings with sharp solos and slow melancholic parts precisely woven in the eight tracks of this album.
It’s difficult to categorize Ethereal Darkness. The use of melodic guitar work with a mix of death and black metal vocals has very interesting result. Wintersun appeared in our mind to describe the varied wall of sound Ethereal Darkness shapes, but with less complexity. The production and mastering of this surprising piece of work is almost too good to believe and flirting with a strained feeling.
Smoke And Shadows is a conceptual album about how our lives are like rivers flowing slowly into the sea. This Belgian artist provides with no doubt a nice listening session for the dark and lonely winter evenings. We will embrace this music during black X-mas days.