Thursday, March 26, 2009

Paysage d'Hiver - Kerker

1. Kerker (35:06)

As you may have noticed, there's a solid year since the last posting. I can't think of a finer reason to break retirement than this piece of filth.

So what's the big fucking deal?

Well... this is hands down the greatest thing I've heard in a long damn time. I listen to a lot of black metal, amongst other things, and this grabbed me from the second I started playing it... Kerker is thick. Very, very thick. The production is so completely fucked up and lofi shitty, there isn't a single element that cuts through the fog with any semblance of clarity. Guitars, drums (what I am assuming is a drum machine... it's really hard to tell), vocals, synths... it's all drowning at the bottom of the most frozen-ass lake Europe has to offer. If Lake Baikal had a lake underneath it that was twice as deep and filled with depression-flavored tar and was inhabited by a guy with an old Tascam 4 track, this is the cassette demo to rule them all.

Paysage d'Hiver (French for "Landscape of Winter", stupid) isn't into tempo changes, stopping on a dime, or getting their (his, really) corpsepaint all up in your face. They (he) is merely content to melt your face and what's left of your brain with what you may recognize as a riff repeated for five minutes at a time or longer, if only to emphasize the point that you're in this to win this. Those who are afraid of synthy black metal shouldn't be afraid of symphonic breakdowns or even recognizing what the fuck is going on here, even though they're often the most defined element.

Think Nortt partying with Tangerine Dream's stolen equipment at the bottom of a well in a dungeon whose master passed out a long time ago.



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reverorum ib Malacht - What Do You Think of the Old God, We Call Him Judas?

1. Pt. I What Do You Think of the Old God, We Call Him Judas?
In five parts an exegis of the prophets, Messiah and the Crucifixion (17:23)
2. Pt. II ...And Bathe In Cold Holy Water
A four piece meditation on the Divine Presence and the Mysteries of Darkness and Death (20:40)

This is quite easily the most haunting record these ears have heard in quite some time, if not ever... making Reverorum ib Malacht the finest Swedish black metal crewe. Based in Falun, Sweden, the band has released two demos, this particular example in 2005. A number of things struck me prior to listening. First, the cover's depiction of a seated man conjuring spirits in a blasphemous, arcane ritual. Second, the titles of the side-length songs and the record (released on cassette, naturally) itself are lengthy to the point of absurdity, yet were enigmatic enough to make me want to grab this.

Musically, this record is an audiophile's worst nightmare, in more ways than one. Every single component is enveloped in a thick wool blanket of tape hiss. The bass, if any, is completely inaudible, as per usual. The drums seem to be the only instrument finding it's way to the forefront with any sort of clarity... and this is just the raw black metal passages, which remind of early Emperor. The rest of the record is composed of dark ambient pieces, haunting atmosphere and taloned stabs of noise making their presence known through the classical Christian music. Thousand piece choirs trapped at the bottom of a mineshaft, pipe organs powered by God himself, biblical references littered throughout the artwork and liner notes, all contribute to some of the most informed blasphemy of the last century. Know your enemy.



Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bolt Thrower - War Master

1. Intro... Unleashed (Upon Mankind)
2. What Dwells Within
3. The Shreds of Sanity
4. Profane Creation

5. Destructive Infinity
6. Final Revelation
7. Cenotaph
8. War Master
9. Rebirth of Humanity
10. Afterlife

Servings have been spartan in recent times at the .demilich monolith.. So here are the meat and potatoes. Death metal concerned with war, violence and general face shredding are Bolt Thrower's forte, so why not indulge? Since nobody can write a mid-tempo death riff as crushing as the Games Workshop-approved duo of Barry Thompson and Gavin Ward, War Master advances with the sobriety of a Panzer battalion.

Bolt Thrower were never the most brutal, technically proficient (in an overtly masturbatory way), or the fastest band, but I think that's what endears them to me. Bludgeoning riff follows bludgeoning riff. Repeat. Add Karl Willets and you've got an ace BT record. In fact, one of the best. But that's the thing with Bolt Thrower. You know exactly what you're going to get. They are the Motorhead of death metal. You know there will be no surprises, no speed-ambient/doom-folk numbers to throw you out of your groove of pure war metal enjoyment.

Oh, and fucking "Cenotaph".



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Clandestine Blaze - Deliverers of Faith

1. Beyond the Reason
2. Falling

3. Grave of Gratification
4. Psychopathia Sexualis
5. Tormented
6. Winter of White Death

There's no telling how many thousands of bands have produced how many thousands of Darkthrone rip offs/tributes, but Clandestine Blaze manage to make the rest look like they suck ass with a straw. Deliverers of Faith is the 2004 effort and fourth full length of one man band CB. The lone Finnish swordsman here is the Mikko Aspa, also the current vocalist of French black metal band Deathspell Omega, who have been getting much press as of late, mostly in part due to the amazing Kenose EP. Where Deathspell chooses to stray from the left hand path taken by so many BM bands, the Clandestine Blaze project stays the course, and doesn't offer much in the way of surprises. What CB lacks in stylistic originality is more than made up by the raging quality of the black metal on display.

The production is raw, and defiantly lo-fi. This really sounds like a Finnish black metal record ought to. Another element sticking out of the singular entity is the drumming, which is sloppy at times and loose, but this does not work to Clandestine Blaze's detriment, rather adding to the chaotic maelstrom of hate and misanthropy.



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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bomb 20 - Field Manual

1. The Fall
2. Burn the Shit Down
3. Don't You Know
4. Ultimate Supremacy
5. You Killed Me First!
6. Anyday
7. We Can Fuck
8. Donutz & Blood
9. Innocent Bystanders
10. Lory vs. Bomb 20
11. No Left
12. If I Go Down
13. Round 2
14. Made of Shit!
15. La Belle
16. Just Came Close
17. Edutainment Break
18. Dumb
19. Hoover Boogie
20. Wonder What it Takes?

Since the Fever record is so fucking good, it made me think to dig a little deeper into my own DHR archives and see what I can find. Field Manual is the product of David Skiba, a one time antagonist of DHR head honcho and Bomb 20 muse, as well as the only full length produced under the Bomb 20 name. Digital Hardcore heads will recognize the sound instantly: frenetic breakbeats pushed to the breaking point, vocal samples chopped to fuck and blown apart, distorto synth gurgles and farts, all at tempos that make gabber seem like a Melvins record.

What sets Field Manual apart from the rest of the DHR pack, is not the politics (the firmly anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, anti-everything stance embodied in most of the label's roster), but the fact that this record bludgeons the listener so thoroughly over the head and never really lets up for the twenty track entirety. This is harsher than any Atari Teenage Riot single, jungle more fucked than any Cristophe de Babalon track. Field Manual manages to operate on a level of being so over the top, it reaches a plane populated by noise artists Masami Akita and Dominic Fernow. While the comparison may not be apt in the way that Bomb 20 is infinitely more danceable than either of the two former, the sheer amount of abrasion on display is impressive.



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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hate Forest - Battlefields

1. У Неділю...
2. With Fire and Iron
3. Проведу Я Русалочку...
4. Our Fading Horizons
5. Колискова
6. Glare Over Slavonic Lands
7. Keening.

Ukraine's Hate Forest unleashed an absolute monster with their third full length release, Battlefields. Heartbreakingly beautiful Ukrainian folk music interludes give shart contrast to the disparagingly bleak downtempo black metal fired in a martial forge. Hate Forest is primarily the creative vehicle of one Roman Saenko, who handles most of the instrumentation heard here. Saenko's name may be familiar to listeners of Drudkh, Saenko's current project, carrying on after the now-defunct Hate Forest with former HF guitarist Thurios. While Battlefields isn't the eastern European Slav blackened folkmetal of Drudkh, it foreshadows Hate Forest's continuing progression with the involvement of folk musics.

Each of the interludes between the dark maelstroms features unaccompanied vocal pieces of Ukranian folk singing, titled in Cyrillic. The lone exception to this is "Keening", again an a capella work of women singing, this time with women crying in the background, most likely in mourning of those who fell in battle. Difficult to listen to. Each English titled track is dark, depressive black metal from the deepest of wooded Ukraine. Hate Forest's particular brand of black metal developed over the years since it's formation in 1995, and Battlefields is the apex of their creative output. Rather than relying on sheer speed to get across a message of terror and despair, HF's black metal has attained an impact not found in the earlier work with the slowing of tempos. The vocals are still a little on the death metal side, gutteral and deep. This is also one of the few BM bands that get a pass with keyboards. The keyboard parts never stick out like a sore thumb, integrating seamlessly with the rest of the blackened sum. Hate Forest is one of many eastern European bands to mix black metal with folk musics, but they stand head and shoulders above the rest, as they are peerless and Battlefields stands as a mastery of the genre.



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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hypothermia - Gratoner

1. Gratoner I & II (20:59)
2. Gratoner III (14:57)
3. Gratoner IV (11:31)

It's been quite a chore lately, keeping up with the deluge of black metal bands forsaking their genre of choice and branching out into other forms and textures. Some have been embracing shoegaze, others folk, noise and avant garde composition. What tends to get lost in the translation is the core primacy that gives black metal it's power.

The Swedes of Hypothermia have been churning out demos and splits in spades since 2003 and Gratoner is a collection of leaked demos and rehearsals of the upcoming fourth full-length. Not only have they been creating excellent depressive black metal in a live band setting, they've managed to evolve the melancholy sound into something different, pushing the pieces into sprawling epics drawing heavily upon repitition of droning riffs. The tortured wails are still intact, but those looking for a tremelo-picked thrash-a-thon should look elsewhere. Hypothermia are masters of downtempo blackmetalgaze, not sounding too far from a Malefic-fronted Pelican.

It appears this material will not be officially released, at least not in this form, so grab it while you can. It's fair to say that these tracks are a considerable shift in style from the last release, Rakbladsvalsen. These demos have me anxious for the "real", official Gratoner. Hurry yourselves up, gentlemen.



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Monday, October 29, 2007

Fever - Too Bad But True

1. Rubber Cell
2. See You Runnin
3. Got To Be
4. Two Poles
5. Black Around Me
6. The Button
7. Distill Your Brain
8. Fever

For those of you who are still lamenting the dissolution of the Digital Hardcore label stable, here's a treat from 1998. It's hard to believe this is almost a decade old when Fever managed to put out an album that made hip hop for the next decade sound stale and dated. Fever is the discordant bastard child of digital hardcore and hip hop, helmed by Din ST and Paul PM... taking hip hop out of the twentieth century and putting it square in the middle of a post-apocalyptic future that would make Mad Max think twice about heading out of doors.

As far as I can figure out, Too Bad But True is the only full length release by the duo, but it has certainly served it's purpose: nihilist annihilation... serving the Digital Hardcore Records manifesto of "Fuck all", all too well. Too Bad brings out all of the tricks from the DHR bag: C64 and Gameboy blips, slowed and distorted metal guitar riffs and stabs, blown to fuck drum samples, synths so filthy bleach wouldn't begin to help... and as such, fits nicely within the DHR pantheon next to sonic kin like EC8OR, Shizuo and Alec Empire's Atari Teenage Riot. Empire's touch, however indirect, is felt throughout Too Bad. The entire template had been set before with ATR's digital punk rock, and especially with ATR MC Carl Crack... but Fever do the DH/hip hop much, MUCH better. "Two Poles" is the centerpiece, a loping, breathing and claustrophobic. El-P could only dream of making something so gloriously fucked. Shit, El-Producto stole most of his production steez from this record, the other half coming from Giorgio Moroder soundtracks.

Scooters, vacation, fall:


Re-upped 12.20
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Alcest - Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde

1. Printemps Emeraude
2. Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde
3. Les Iris
4. Ciel Errant
5. Sur L'autre Rive Je T'attendrai
6. Tir Nan Og

Considering Alcest began as a raw black metal project, this record might seem like quite a contrast. However, with black metallers such as Ulver and Dead Reptile Shrine taking their chosen genre to far off aural locales and warping black metal almost beyond recognition, this is not incredibly surprising. The difference here is the fact that those projects still bear the blackened mark of BM, whereas Alcest forgoes it entirely. The lone participant of Alcest, Neige, has created an album of beautiful, sprawling, and at several times Jesu-like metal. The influence of black metal is mostly nonexistent.

In fact, so much of this bears the sonic stamp of Justin Broadrick's Jesu, it could almost be a tribute. Neige is making no bones about his love of dreamy shoegaze. My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Smashing Pumpkins (yeah, I know, not so much a shoegaze act) shine through in moments, but the more I listen to this record, the more it sounds like a French language release of Jesu's Conqueror. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. Souvenirs is a prettier record than Conqueror, with floating, ethereal vocals and lilting, delicate melodies.

By far the best non-black metal black metal record of the year.



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Back Up In the Monolith

Regular visitors will have noticed the complete lack of updates in the past month.

My excuse? I didn't feel like it. Last month I set a goal to post and review a record for each letter of the alphabet and I think i got a little burned out with the volume. My reviews/blurbs/ramblings/whatever seem to be getting longer in length, and as such, are taking more time and energy. I took a short break for the better part of this month, but this bloggg has not been abandoned, just forgotten for a couple weeks.

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the goodies and bullshit.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Zombi - Surface to Air

1. Challenger Deep
2. Digitalis
3. Legacy
4. Surface to Air
5. Night Rhythms

Z = Zombi. The first thing that came to mind the very first time I had heard Zombi was a nameless action film circa '88 with a faceless macho action movie hero kicking some hopeless action movie bad guy ass. Then it hit me that Zombi are the brilliant instrumental bastard child of Vangelis, Italian legends Goblin, Giorgio Moroder, and that Surface to Air is the soundtrack to a suspense-laden horror/action/sci-fi/psychological thriller the '80's never made. "Challenger Deep" kicks this joint off with a sweeping opening credits sequence, leading into "Digitalis", a chase scene through wooded streets involving members of Kraftwerk and Charles Bronson. The epic finale "Night Rhythms" seamlessly integrates Fulci, Blade Runner, Yes and disco-prog into an 18 minute+ synth/drums/bass jam.

P.S. If you're expecting to sound like metal, even after reading the review, you'll be sorely disappointed.



Sunday, September 30, 2007

Young Ginns - Backline

1. Backline (3:16)

Y = Young Ginns. Featuring members of Nation of Ulysses, Unwound and the Fucking Champs, the Young Ginns rocked the fuck out, Dischord style. A tribute of sorts to the Black Flag guitar god, the band had a discernable influence in the latter day My War-era BF, but NoU, early Sonic Youth, Embrace and Fugazi can be heard. This particular track was culled off of another YoYo compilation, Julep.



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Xasthur - A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors

1. Intro
2. Moon Shrouded in Misery, Part 1 (Burzum cover)
3. Suicide in Dark Serenity
4. Dwell Beneath the Woods of Evil
5. Cursed Be the Memory of Light
6. Possession of Desolate Magick
7. Storms of Red Revenge
8. A Spell Within the Winds
9. Summon the End of Time
10. Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors
11. Kingdom of Burning Crucifixions
12. Moon Shrouded in Misery, Part 2 (Burzum cover)
13. Black Spell of Destruction / Channeling the Power of Souls Into a New God

X = Xasthur. Now that the latest Xasthur record, Defective Epitaph, has been released, the world finally gets to hear Malefic get his black metal on without a drum machine. It's at once a removal of a core element of the Xasthur sound, and the addition of something that totally works in it's favor. That said, Malefic is probably the black metal world's foremost practitioner of drum machine programming. No man before and probably after will be able to make one-man-drum-machine-isolationist black metal as adroitly as he. I ain't gonna say that dude is the new Neal Pert/Hellhammer of BM, but he's no slouch.

So let's take a look at the root of this evil, shall we? A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors is the full length debut of the Xasthur horde, released way back in 2001. Although oft compared to Judas Iscariot, early Xasthur is a different animal. Malefic is extremely talented at creating "atmosphere", which is often assumed to be black metal shorthand for "bad production". The production here isn't Butch Vig, but that's not the point being made. The low fidelity works in his favor, drawing the listener in to discern exactly what's happening, heightening one's awareness of the subtleties. He's building a deeply depressing environment for his listeners through other worldly shrieks and howls, almost psychedelic guitar dissonance and using synths as more than just a "creepy" background, ala Vikernes (by the way, there's a two part Burzum cover here), and it's been working for him ever since. Xasthur has evolved a bit over the six years since this release, but the integral elements that make Xasthur Xasthur never change... they only get blacker.



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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Woods of Belial - Baxabaxaxaxaxabaxaxaxaxa! 666 Yndstr Draconis

1. Lunar Triumphator of Evil (9:59)
2. Into the Woods of Belial (Goatlord Necroemperor) (9:27)
3. Pervertum Margat Nepeht Nommus (5:13)

W = Woods of Belial. Double points for the rediculous album title. Triple double super extra ultra points for the top shelf blackened doom trapped inside this criminally overlooked demo from 1997. Black metal shrieks and atmosphere? Check. Ten minute long songs? Check. Riffs so slow and heavy they make Burning Witch look like the Great Kat? Check. The production values one can only find on a cassette release? Check. There is also a conscious noise/industrial influence present, mostly taking a back seat to the knuckle-dragging guitarring and disturbed wails, taking this demo into territory mostly uncharted at the time of recording.

You know what? It just hit me now... I'll bet that 99% of the world's population wouldn't voluntarily sit through the first five minutes of this. That goes for just about everything that falls into the "funeral doom" or "black metal" umbrellas, but this is a particularly fetid example. I'll also bet that the same folks (as in, damn near EVERYBODY) would think you were a pretty fucked up and strange individual for being able to tolerate this shit, let alone listen to it by your own volition. A third bet I'm willing to make is that you're going to fucking love this, because you're one of those pretty fucked up and strange individuals who enjoys this shit.



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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Velvet Cacoon - Genevieve

1. 1
2. Avalon Polo
3. Beta Noir
4. Fauna & Flora
5. Genevieve
6. Laudanum
7. P.S. Nautical

V = Velvet Cacoon. I'm not sure about the circulating rumors regarding the members of this duo's drug intake, but whatever they're taking (and in whatever amounts) has been gelled into every second of their second true full length. Imagine Jesu on barbiturates, then attempting Xasthur covers. It's got that kind of atmosphere. The kind that screams "soundtrack for a bad trip". In black metal terms, this is pretty progressive, "out there" stuff, definitely putting itself in it's own category. The controversy surrounding the band (they had stolen another artists songs and artwork and reappropriated it as their own... brilliant) is mostly hype, especially after having a listen. If you dig on Jesu's Silver EP, you're gonna shit your pants with this one.



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Monday, September 24, 2007

Urgehal - Goat Craft Torment

1. Goat Craft Torment
2. Risus Sardonius
3. Antireligios
4. Dodsmarsj Til Helvete
5. Satanic Black Metal In Hell
6. Nefastus Nex Necis
7. Gathered Under the Horns
8. Selvmordssalme
9. Sentiment of Chaos
10. Et Steg Naermere Lucifer

U = Urgehal. Sometimes there's no need for innovation when you're able to do something extremely well. Why progress when there's no room for improvement on what you're already doing? Following in the footsteps of Bolt Thrower, AC/DC and Motorhead, Urgehal have managed to make the same full length record five times (Goat Craft Torment making the fifth). If it ain't broke, why fix it, right? Urgehal have the mid-90's Darkthrone sound down so well, it should probably be known as the Urgehal sound from now on. One thing I do have to mention is the production quality, which is decidedly un-kvlt... the bass is audible, and the drums don't sound like they were recorded at the bottom of a well with a My First Sony. The mix is great, the production clear and sharp and there are guitar solos all over this motherfucker... this is ass kicking, face melting black metal.



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To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie - With Brass Songs They'll Descend

1. With Brass Songs They'll Descend

T = To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie. This is a track from the forthcoming full length on Kranky Records, The Patron. TKAPB is the core duo of Makr (electronics) and Jehna (guitar and vocals), fabricating the soundtrack to a vivid nightmare you've never had right before you wake up. Jehna's ethereal vocals remind me simultaneously of the Cocteau Twins, Portishead and Blonde Redhead. The soundscapes are sublimely harsh, often giving way to a blissful dissonance deep inside the abandoned strip mine of your consciousness. Totalitarian tales of an isolated city and the isolated denizens. This record will be released next month, but in the meantime, scam this and absorb.



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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sonic Youth - Live 07.27.1986 NYC @ CBGB's

1. Intro
2. Tom Violence/White Cross
3. Shadow of a Doubt
4. Star Power
5. Death to Our Friends/I Love Her All the Time
6. Secret Girl
7. Green Light
8. Brother James
9. Expressway to Yr Skull

S = Sonic Youth. More SY, because I feel like it. The sound quality on this one is aiight considering it's from over twenty years ago. Apparently this is an audience cassette recording, but it ain't too bad. All the faves (my faves) of the period are repped to the fullest... "White Cross" is hot rippin', "Star Power" is on, and the closer, "Expressway", is damn near perfect. "I Love Her All the Time" still gives me the, I don't want to say the creeps, but... the creeps. This period in SY chronology has them playing songs mostly off of EVOL, which I will rank near the top of my SY album list, if not at the top. That record played quite an instrumental role in my development as a teenager, at least as far as musical interests are concerned. The feeling that something was "wrong" that dripped from the earliest material is still crusted on the songs, but is starting to flake off and give way to the new skin shown on Sister and Daydream. Killer show from a killer band at a legendary venue.



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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Residents - Nibbles

1. You YesYesYes
2. Santa Dog 78
3. Gloria
4. Excerpt From Rest Aria
5. Semolina
6. The Spot
7. Excerpt From Never Known Questions
8. Constantinople
9. Laughing Song
10. Excerpt From The Making of a Soul
11. Skratz
12. Good Lovin'
13. Blue Rosebuds
14. Excerpt From Six Things To a Cycle
15. The Electrocutioner

R = The Residents. The Residents really don't get the recognition they deserve as being the weirdest motherfuckers to record music, or "music". Maybe it's the fact that some artists don't feel like they will be taken seriously when they mention the Residents as being an influence... but I think that's a misconception. The Residents were VERY serious about their craft. Just about every weird/off beat band or artist of the last thirty years owes a decent deal to these guys, and they probably know it. It's just a shame that their legacy has largely been swept under the rug. Yeah, it's not the most easily digestable material, but if you're reading this blog, why would that stop you from grabbing this fucking record already?!?



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Monday, September 17, 2007

Queen - A Night at the Opera

1. Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To...)
2. Lazing On a Sunday Afternoon
3. I'm In Love With My Car
4. You're My Best Friend
5. '39
6. Sweet Lady
7. Seaside Rendezvous
8. The Prophets Song
9. Love of My Life
10. Good Company
11. Bohemian Rhapsody
12. God Save the Queen






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