Nov 17

Auðn – Farvegir Fyrndar

For some reason, whenever bands from Iceland are mentioned, particularly black metal bands, I immediately associate them with a cold, atmospheric soundscape. Of course, this has probably got to do with the climate of the region, but also due to bands like Sólstafir, or more popularly, Sigur Rós. Unlike the apparently recent increasing popularity of dissonant black metal bands of the region, the art that Auðn peddles would lean more closely to the atmospheric end of the spectrum.

Farvegir Fryndar is the sophomore album of Auðn, and after the excellent self-titled debut in 2014, there is little doubt about the level of musicianship of the band. Right from album opener Verold Hulin, one is put into a melancholic, though on some levels, rather beautiful soundscape. It’s a cold, but not overly freezing à la Immortal/Abbath cold, atmosphere that one is left in. Fans of the works of WinterfyllethWodensthrone, or the recent Wolves in the Throne Room would immediately feel comfortably at home.

The riffs dished out by guitarists Magnússon and Birgisson have a rather bleak quality to them, often topped by the desperate shrieks of Sveinsson, further emphasising the sense of hopelessness for the listener. Yet through all the negativity, and the desolation, Auðn ensures that there is still that beautiful aesthetic that is maintained throughout. The superb songwriting on Farvegir Fyrndar makes it such that it isn’t difficult to become completely immersed. The clever interweaving of acoustic moments into their songwriting like on Ljosaslaedur and Eilifar Naetur are reminiscent of Fen, and these definitely got the fanboy in me excited (though excited should hardly be a suitable descriptor for such an album).

The soundstage presented on the album is huge, and it is hard not to become captivated by the breathtaking atmosphere on the album. While it is easy to get hypnotised and lose oneself on warmer cans or earphones, on more clinical, analytical earphones, I found Auðn to be a much less enjoyable listen, losing the warmth of the production, and emphasising the rawness and rougher edges that are inevitable for such extreme genres.

The last album that got me coming back for more was Fen‘s recent masterpiece, Winter, yet I have found myself constantly returning for more of Farvegir Fyrndar in recent weeks. Auðn‘s sophomore is a hugely addictive album, and while it may take another 3 year wait for them to drop any new material, Farvegir Fyrndar would be more than sufficient to keep us busy till then.

Favourite tracks: LjosaslaedurEilifar Naetur

Nov 13

Necrotted – Worldwide Warfare

Let me come clean and admit to you, I am not the biggest fan of deathcore. Having said that, I have listened to the few good ones that have been around since the mid-2000s. So I had hopes, and went into listening to Necrotted, a German band’s latest release with an open mind and open heart. Having never heard of them before, I was pleasantly surprised.

But before I analyse the album, let me just talk you through what I know and think about deathcore as a genre and the bands involved with it.

Deathcore, when done well, really takes the energy from hardcore and makes you want to have a 1-man mosh in your room. Good deathcore makes you want to smash stuff. But in recent times, I’ve found good deathcore hard to come by, with most of the bands taking a CHUGGY-CHUGGY-CHUG-CHUG approach to creating their music. Then came Thy Art Is Murder in 2015 and 2017 and Fit For An Autopsy‘s The Great Collapse this year. So 2017 could possibly be the year deathcore re-evolves. And the evolution is one of less crab-walks, less chuggy-chug djent-influences and closer alignment with death metal but with a distinct energy from hardcore.

So where does Necrotted stand with their release?

They are getting there, and I do hear similarities to the stellar Thy Art Is Murder. There is definitely no chuggy-chugs, but real intensity. The album starts a bit slow, and a tad simplistic (don’t crucify me guys, I’d not be able to put out even a riff for snails), but really picks up from the 3rd track Hunt Down The Crown which caught me by surprise. The pace, intensity and creativeness really excels in this.

Particular mention should go to their drummer, Markus Braun. He’s an absolute beast behind the kit, and his pedal work is quite understated, but supported with good mastering of the tracks. The guitars also lay down some head-hurting riffs, and the lead guitar work really stand out. Another great track is the 6th, My Foray, Your Decay. Similar in vein to the one above, but again with more experimentation and inventiveness.

One trend that I realised with this album was that when the band just tried to do something different, gave creative freedom to their lead guitarist and their drummer, they create really great songs or parts. These bits are all over the album, but perhaps need to become more concentrated.

And if the band ever reads this, may I offer just one more opinion, many top bands (in deathcore or otherwise) tend to get into one large concept (e.g. racism, environmentalism, or even philosophy) that is really close to their heart, and really drive across the message with their music. I feel that this drives the creative aspects further, and something I’ve seen emerging in the standout deathcore, hardcore, and death metal bands.

Worldwide Warfare sees a 9-year old band on the verge of puberty, on the verge of being a force to reckon with in the years to come. But for what it’s worth, this is a really strong effort. And I did mosh, maybe more mentally, and headbang, in my chair.

Standout tracks: Hunt Down The Crown, My Foray, Your Decay, and Vile Vermin.

Check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/NECROTTED/
Get the album at: https://risingnemesisrecords.bandcamp.com/album/worldwide-warfare

Nov 10

Cloak – To Venomous Depths

Whenever black metal and rock ‘n’ roll are mentioned in the same line, one immediately thinks of the style that either Satyricon has crafted, or the punkish, Motörhead-fuelled style of Darkthrone. But Cloak presents a rather different take on the fusion of these two genres on their debut full length, To Venomous Depths.

With the band citing cult black metal acts such as Dissection as their main influences, it isn’t surprising to find their style familiar right from the start. Opener To Venomous Depths/Where No Light Shines, with the dissonant chords and that infusion of rock vibes, quickly brings to mind the recent works of bands like Watain, especially of Lawless Darkness. That being my favourite release of Watain, this certainly marked a great start in getting acquainted with Cloak.

But Cloak is more than just another Dissection/Watain clone. As the album progresses, the comparisons to Watain‘s works slowly moves towards that of the style that bands like Tribulation or Morbus Chron has created instead on their more recent works. This especially so as the mood becomes increasingly darker, and the emotions that the band emanates gets more melancholic.

Songs like Beyond the Veil for instance, would have easily fit into The Children of the Night with ease, with the uncanny resemblance not only in the song structure, but also the riffs, down to even the vocals of Scott Taysom who bears rather strong similarities to Johannes (of Tribulation). The rock ‘n’ roll vibe on this track is especially helped by the basslines of Matt Scott, with hooks made all the more addictive with the clean guitars during the soft interlude on the track.

Perhaps the only gripe that I have with To Venomous Depths is the production quality of the album, where at times there seems to be clipping that slightly affected the enjoyment of the album. Other than that, the record is sufficiently raw to bring across the emotions that have gone into the writing of the album, while retaining that rather modern sound to keep listeners engaged.

Cloak‘s debut is an excellent album that is fun to listen to, and showcases their influences proudly on their sleeves. Every track contains slick licks that draws the listener in, and the perfect balance between the different genres that have gone into the mixing cauldron results in an album that has something for everyone. And with To Venomous Depths, there is finally a black ‘n’ roll album that I could really go back to time and again.

Favourite tracks: To Venomous Depths/Where No Light ShinesBeyond the VeilDeep Red

Nov 07

Degial – Predator Reign

After finding out the connection between Ghost and Repugnant, I quickly got hooked onto the thrashy, chaotic-styled Swedish death metal that Repugnant dishes out. From there, my fascination in the genre led me to bands like TribulationMorbus Chron, and of course, Degial and their debut album Death’s Striking Wings.

With their sophomore album though, the band seemed to start taking a darker route, with hints of black metal peppered on Savage Mutiny, though their thrashy edge was still unmistakable.

And now here we are with their new album, Predator Reign. Jumping from Death’s Striking Wings to Predator Reign, one may be forgiven for not realising that these are records from the same band. The blackened edge has now been fully integrated into their sound, and from the get go the comparisons to those cavernous black/death metal bands such as Vorum and Corpsessed are obvious. Considering the fact that 2/4 of the band hail from Vorum, perhaps this isn’t too surprising at the same time.

Trem-picked riffs are aplenty, and the guitars often descend into chaos with the frantic, furious solos that are at times rather reminiscent of the works of Trey Azagthoth on Morbid Angel. Songs like Thousand Spears Impale, with its sense of urgency brings one back to the early days of Altars of Madness and Blessed are the Sick with the sense of urgency.

To disrupt the pace a bit, the band includes doses of doomier, heavier moments throughout the album like on Triumphant Extinction or closer Clangor of Subjugation. Here the band unleashes their madness in a starkly different way, bringing to mind the works of bands like Incantation.

Predator Reign also indulges in a rather cavernous production, giving the album a nice balance between the rawness of 90s death metal and the clarity of a more modern sound.

On albums as such, it is indeed hard to escape the trap of monotony, what with most tracks moving at the same tempo, along with the noise and chaos. However, that is precisely the point of Predator Reign, and Degial manages to ensure that this remains a thoroughly enjoyable album to fans of thrashy, chaotic, Swedish death metal.

Nov 05

Aosoth – V: The Inside Scriptures

After four long years, the great Aosoth are finally back with V: The Inside Scriptures. And I have been waiting very eagerly for them.

With their fourth album, IV: An Arrow in Heart (thank god Satan for bands who number their albums), these stalwarts of the French Black Metal scene created quite possibly one of the top Black Metal albums, let alone Heavy Metal albums of 2013. And the album still sounds fresh four years on. So with an album cover, depicting another arrow in the heart of another angel (albeit with less nipples and now blonde hair), were we getting a continuation?

The answer is no, not really. V is clearly Aosoth, and if you’ve been listening to them for some time now, from the first riff of A Heart to Judge you will know it is them. But the album is weird, and it is mixed and mastered differently from its predecessor. But there’s something else. There’s more ferocity, but in an odd way less heaviness than its predecessor IV. But don’t think for a moment that darkness has dissipated.

While IV felt like you being submerged in the depths of hell, its successor V feels more like the purgatory you experience before you’re plunged into hell. Then add to that a large swarm of bees constantly buzzing and stinging you. One might even argue the purgatory might be scarier than the end place. The feeling unknowingness, loss and desolation is well and truly established on this album. For a very clear example of what I mean, listen to the 2nd track Her Feet Upon The Earth, Blooming The Fruits Of Blood.

V also veers slightly further away from the thrash- and death-metal influences found on IV, and their newer sound is clearly established by the 3rd and title track The Inside Scriptures. It’s a slower, more brooding track, but really stands out in album with 6 depressingly good songs. The track also introduces that weird whinging/whining/bees stinging you to death riff, which is in bits on the other tracks. The final 3 tracks also pull the album as far away from the hit that was its predecessor, without compromising on the quality. Contaminating All Tongues is a roller coaster of the typical Aosoth riffing, bile-spewing vocals and head-bashing drumming that changes pace all over.

I never thought Aosoth could top IV: An Arrow in Heart, and I did think the same upon the first few spins. But as with all great, genre-pushing releases, it takes a while to really appreciate it. It is still growing on me, but V is absolutely killer. Even if I were to be stuck in purgatory, tortured till the end of days, the one respite would be this album playing in loop in the background.

Standout tracks: Her Feet Upon The Earth, Blooming The Fruits Of Blood, The Inside Scriptures, and Contaminating All Tongues

*V: The Inside Scriptures releases on November 17th, 2017, on Agonia Records. Pre-order at: https://agoniarecords.bandcamp.com/album/v-the-inside-scriptures

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