Underground Sounds: Noctu/Augu Sigyn – Temple of Decadence

Label: Bloodcrown Records
Band: Noctu/Augu Sigyn
Origin: Italy/Denmark

This split features two doomy bands, the first being Noctu from Italy. Noctu happens to be the sole member and also plays in Atra Mors and Necromist. After a full length, this is the first record with an English title by the funeral doom project from Crema.

The slow, dirge-like doom by the Italian artist has a certain cinematic quality and minimalism to it. Only lurching forward with an ever lumbering pace, the vocals are muddled into the mix where they hardly seem to really convey any meaning anymore. On ‘Lacerazioni Tra Le Ombre’, they merely appear as abyssal murmurings, rumbling in the distant haze of the sound. With a long intro and outro to his part of the record, Noctu demonstrates a knack for dense atmospheres and troubling ambient.

Strangely enough, Auga Sigyn immediately hits you with a sort of crusty doom sound. The Danish act from Svendborg has released some EP’s before, mostly in the native language too and now the duo, also active in Djævles Skrig, Blackhorned, Grimnismál and a gazillion other projects, participates in this split.

Instantly noticeable are the vocals by Sarah Lee Berthelsen, who bars and howls as if possessed on ‘Antropomorfisk Form’. it’s unnerving, resounding clearly over the distorted, warped guitar sound of their primitive pitch-black doom metal. The harrowing sound of the Danish duo is definitely for the sensitive souls, particularly on ‘Den Hængte Mands Bøg’ the sound is quite derailed and maddening even. Rabid barks and an almost ritualistic drumming is accompanied by piping guitar tunes. It helps to bring the record to its creepy ending.

 

 

 

 

 

AlNamrood will not be tamed: metal in Saudi Arabia

Djinn are creatures of fire, which is why they are invisible, yet destructive. Another creature in Saudi Arabia, that features those characteristics is the elusive AlNamrood. An entity operating under a veil of mystery for very real and tangible reasons. In this country, it can be punishable by death to play dark blasphemous music.

AlNamrood has been steadily delivering music since 2008 and the international attention for the project seems to have given it a boost. The last album Enkar, released in 2017, clearly caught many listeners ear with the raw sounds or protest that could easily be compared to the better bits of Darkthrone. A live show however, that will not happen soon unfortunately.

Through their label Shaytan Productions I managed to ask Mephisto, the master behind this project, some questions. Unfortunately a Skype chat or such is for obvious reasons not possible, but he was kind enough to update us on Alnamrood.

Fear is Slavery, it sickens us

Hello Mephisto, how are things? How is it going with AlNamrood?
AlNamrood is going progressively as usual.

Understanding your need for anonymity, could you shed some light on yourself as a person behind the band? What made you want to do this music and how did you arrive at black metal?
I play guitar, I’m influenced by the extreme metal of fast picking, open strings, and catchy riffs. The main driver to start AlNamrood was the need to express the rage of daily oppression we deal with. Black metal was a great platform, although we fall toward punk more often, either ways, this music satisfy our needs.

Who are currently in AlNamrood and how did you get in touch? I imagine that reaching out to find members can be challenging and even risky for you. Could you tell me about that?
Humbaba and I are the main members, we knew each other for years, but we only came to work together since 2013, we released the album Heen Yadhar Al Gasq Translates to ‘when dusk appears’. I think I’m very lucky to know Humbaba, he is literally the only mate I share my thoughts with, not only music. Finding members indeed is a risky business, not if it is impossible in the first place. This is why the AlNamrood line up is limited.

Your most recent album came out last year. What can you tell me about the writing and recording process of this album?
Enkar was fairly experimental, it was a very interesting experience, the roughness, and the low down dark sound was exactly what we cooked for. The guitar recording was aimed to be down tuning, drums were built based on thrash/punk beats, Arabian instruments were pushed back in the background, the bass is clear. We also used the stem mastering done by Endarker Studio in Sweden, however, the recording and mixing were done by us.

What is the story on the album? And what message are you trying to convey on this record?
“Enkar” translates to “denial”, and this album (as each album had a core point and narrative) articulates the phenomena of social denial, in particular, what we experience in a daily basis in our community. We expressed the psychosomatic drivers or psychological tricks used to program thoughts as if those are ideas and believes shoved into people minds, and how people accept repression as a safe ticket than speaking out against it. The issue about the Middle East in general, is people riddled with religion, ignorance, and fear. Fear has created slavery, and authority has succeeded to use religion as a tool to empower this fear and make people kneel to tyranny, in order to get the big prize in afterlife heaven, while this life is mortal and not worth it. This has extended to the point of people started to enslave themselves without anyone asking them to. Nowadays, the religious icons do not need to go into platforms to push for their ideologies like in the past, the people themselves will start to defend religion and raise flags of patriotism even though their rights are crushed, this programming is well done and it sickens us to see people suffer from their own doings.

When I listened to your album, I felt it contained a certain level of punk elements. From the artwork (and of course the anarchist symbol in the band logo) to the raw and direct sound of the record. I felt the music was truly rebellious. How do you feel about this?
You described it very well.

 In previous interviews, I’ve read some pretty strong convictions when it comes to religion. Can you tell me some more about your name and views?

As the name implies, we are sick from the religion and its affiliation, we are sick from nationalism and its idiocy, we are sick of the system and how it aimed to work for the specific class in society. We renounce ourselves from all of that.

You’ve used a lot of traditional or if I may say folkish elements and instruments. I’m very interested in what these are and where they originate from.

Typically, we used oud, Kanoon, Ney and of course darbuka.

As the situation in the middle-east seems to be changing in many places, what is the status of censorship, dangers, and liberties you are facing as a musician in Saudi Arabia?

No change in term of censorship and liberties. The claim in moving the country into liberalism is a hoax and no merely than a propaganda.

You have had, as far as I am aware, one face to face interview with a Dutch journalist. What was it like to do that for you, coming from a risky situation and meeting in such a manner?

As long as the interview was not done on Saudi soil and it is purely aimed at Dutch readers, we assessed the situation and agreed to it, after all, there won’t be any public prevalence of our identity. The meeting was fine, the interviewer was flexible and understanding, it was a nice meeting.

I understand that everything when it comes to facilities is pretty challenging too, from instruments, rehearsal spaces to recording and having music or merchandise. Can you describe that to me? Also how you work on getting your work to the label etcetera and influencing all the aspects of the creation.

It is very difficult; we do everything in the home-based studio, very discreet. We get our equipment from close by countries and online, usually the problems occur with getting guitars, there could be some questions, but we manage. We communicate with the label online, everything is sent online.

You pay particular attention to the certain symbolism in the words, but also in the videos. I’m very curious to learn how you do get to make videos, merchandise etcetera, even though there’s an obvious limit on what you can do. I understand you travel a lot, is that key for all this?

The merchandise is handled by the label, the music videos are also handled by the label, expect the last video was done by a Dutch friend. Yes, traveling helps a lot, we created good contacts around the world.

In a previous interview it was mentioned that due to a criminal record, the band would not be able to fully leave the country. How is that situation now and could you shed some light on what might constitute a criminal record in your country?

We can’t disclose any details on this question, all that we can say is what many people are thrown in jail for stating their opinion. Which is not considered a crime in any developed world.

Are there any other bands that play metal in your country at the moment and what sort of history does the music style have in Saudi Arabia?

None that we know or heard of. Saudi Arabia has little history of music, unless if you count national music as a musical event?

Are there any bands currently active that you would recommend?

Nothing that we can recommend.

I wanted to ask you if other bands faced similar difficulties as you do?

I don’t think so, as long as they are nationalist and with a side of religion, no problem at all. Maybe they will be misjudged for a satanic group, that’s the worst it can be.

What are your future plans for AlNamrood or any other projects?

To continue what we do, until one day when can leave and start a normal band life somewhere in the world. (AlNamrood is releasing a new record 

If you had to compare your band to a dish, what would it be and why?

Spicy course, because spices make your blood pressure goes up and your ear to ring and you will sweat if it not suitable for you.

Is there anything you would like to share?
Cheers.

Underground Sounds: Régiment – On Les Aura!

Label: Antiq Records
Band: Régiment
Origin: France

Many bands have a fascination for World War II. It’s atrocities are those of a modern war but on an exceptionally large scale. We often seem to forget that it was the second for a reason. Régiment takes as a topic the first world war and makes an album on just that with the very enjoyable ‘On Les Aura!’.

Featuring members of Astaroth, Anus Mundi, LugnasadBraquemaard, Hanternoz and many, many more (even Peste Noire), this is a talented group. Interestingly, they share their topic with only a few other artists, amongst them 1914, who I spoke with before. This is, to this point, the only release by the band and even though it’s a couple of years old it can hardly be ignored.

Starting with the hopeful, proud banner song that drives the soldiers into battle, this record instantly sets the vibe for the Great War. Call it black metal, or maybe war metal if you’re into that sort of thing, but ‘Sauvagerie Prussienne’ is a rude awakening to the horror of the trenches. Referring to the anti-German sentiments, it also evokes the powerful warmachine of the Reich with big, lumbering movements and heavy rhythms. There’s a venomous intensity to the sound of Régiment though, one that makes you want to storm those enemies. The whole concept is full of paradoxes though, with the cover showing a glorifying portrait of Philippe Pétain (also the title refers to him), known as the French commander, but also remembered for his way of dealing with mutineers. It’s not a glorification of war, but a very particular experiencing of the events through singular, personal eyes.

We slow down a bit on ‘La Mort du Negre’, which conveys the story of a black soldier, dying next to his enemy. Also it refers to a Joseph Conrad novel, It combines heavy metal riffing with black metal barbarity in a very effective manner, which offers moments of relief and strong melodic passages for the listener. The sound is exceptionally gritty as we move on and hit ‘En Avant!’. It’s the sonic equivalent of crawling through the mud flat on your belly. It’s such an exceptionally enjoyable record. Full of power and energy, enriched with samples to set the right mood. You can’t go wrong with this. When is the next release due, guys?

Underground Sounds: Basalto – Doença

Label: Fuck OFF and DIY
Band: Basalto
Origin: Portugal

Portugal has a distinct scene and produces some really good music, that remains out of sight and sort of underground. Basalto it’s as heavy as the volcanic fine-grained rock and just as black. Active since 2015, they just unleashed their second full-length effort, titled ‘Doença’.

On this album, arriving only 2 years after their eponymous debut, the band explores new, darker themes. It helps them to create something particularly heavy and dense, with a remarkable amount of feeling in its punch and dark vibes. The trio definitely has that down and creates a sound that is very much their own version of stoner/doom.

The ten-minute long opener ‘VII’ is an instant hit, grinding your face through volcanic ash with intriguing rhythms, that never feel like languid stoner passages. A certain jagged aspect makes the beating drive you, always on edge, constantly pushing for something. Listening to Basalto, you instantly detect a need for something primitive in their sound. The almost primal pummeling and dark, oppressive atmosphere permeates everything on this record.

Accompanying the album is a text by Martin Sousa, titled ‘Doença’, which tells the tale fo darkness in mankind. That is emulated in the sound, on numeral tracks like ‘X’ and ‘XI’, which both carry a sense of foreboding and darkness in their ominous sounding guitar lines and blood-curdling bass lines. It’s as if you listen to a stream of magma, which never goes for the big arches or deep drops, but steadily moves forward.  On ‘XII’ however, we get to rock out for a bit, with energetic drumming, funky guitars and a driven bass. The record could use a bit more of that energy, but all in all deeply, dark immersive piece of music.

Underground Sounds: Trail of Lies – W.A.R.

Label: Edgewood Records, Farewell Records
Band: Trail of Lies
Origin: United States

Hardcore bands come and go at a rapid pace. It’s one of those things you can count on it seems. Trail of Lies has been kicking about for a while now and seem to stay their course in the landscape of tough sounding, breakdown filled tunes. High-strung hardcore music provided on their new record ‘W.A.R.’.

The band hails from Syracuse and is considered a straight edge act. Featuring members from Naysayer, Forfeit, and Warhound, they’re something of a hardcore-powerhouse, influenced by 90’s hardcore from the east coast of the States. This is definitely the sound that inspired me in the early days of my music quest and stumbling upon them definitely was a joy for the ear.
We kick off with the tune ‘Master of My Destiny’, which is a balled-fists power anthem for the self-empowerment so typical to hardcore music. Pounding rhythms and vocals that rip apart the vocal chords. This heavy hitting, battle-ready trajectory flows forwards through the rest of the record. Always full of fire and passion, driving for a mosh-worthy sound.
Lyrically, the songs fuel the fire with the hardcore staples of breaking stuff, breaking free, brotherhood and self-reliance. Add to that the straight edge lifestyle and you have a true sound of dissent in a society that more and more edges towards hedonism and herd mentality. If there ever was a time, where hardcore was needed, it is this one. Straight up hardcore, with a message and some balls, that’s what you get here.

Gaerea: Art, concept, black metal from Portugal

It’s there, silently on the far west of the European continent. The last land that explorers saw when they left and the first to herald their return: Portugal. The country is the quiet gem of the Mediterranean, oddly always a bit obscured compared to Spain, Italy, and France. Yet it holds beautiful nature, culture, and customs and with bands like Gaerea also a metal scene full of wonder.

As a band, Gaerea is pretty young but instantly connected with me due to their overpowering sound, particular aesthetics, and refreshing feel. The music of the band deals with introspective themes, with art and expression of negative emotions. This they do extremely well on their latest record Unsettling Whispers, out on Transcending Obscurity.

Gaerea were kind enough to answer some questions and tell more about their band, vision and what this music means to them. Thanks to Kunal Choksi for making this article happen.
Photo’s taken from band profiles online.

Gaerea: Exploring new realms of expression

Could you kindly introduce yourselves? Do you play in other projects next to Gaerea?
This is Gaerea, a Black Metal Quintet to emerge from Portugal. Due to the fact that all members are insatiable creatures for art, everyone has other projects to fulfill different parts of their beings.

When and how did Gaerea get started? Which bands would you consider your inspiration?
Even though Gaerea was a fetus inside one’s head for quite a few years, it was in 2016 the band was born with the record and release of the first debut EP. It was released via Everlasting Spew Records back then. We take many inspirations from different kinds of art like Paint, Cinema, and Music, of course. We like bands such as Obsidian Kingdom, Shining or Watain. Mainly because of their conceptual work other than music, which nowadays is so underrated. Music is not music anymore.

Can you tell about the concept behind the band? As in, what ideas, vision and such shape Gaerea and the art you create?
GAEREA acts as a reporter, a bringer of the chaotic message from the Void Society. It is a burden we all must carry for it also relates to us as individuals who are also lost on their own bubble.

The album goes deeper into this conceptual world. Again, the message is brought to you by a third person who watches everything that occurs in a street, a city. It is another dimension where suicide is part of the human regular daily basis. Death is a dream from another world. Aging is something for the lost generation and most of all, feelings of joy, anger or sadness no longer exist. They are part of a well-remembered past, a topic which once was praised and now is clear and present.

I’m also interested in the visual aspect, for example, the sigil on the masks you guys where. Where do they originate from and how did you come up with the overall visual expression, like the album covers. Also do you create this yourself?
Yes, most of the visual aspect is crafted by the band itself. The masks, the conception of our symbol and even the first Ep’s cover. The album cover was painted by an artist we respect: Khaos Diktator.

Above all things such as where did all of this come from, it is important to state that the basis of our work is to put out characters which have no name, face, feelings or equal skin from others in the audience. For me, it was a normal visual reaction from what we see today inside our system. We are just lost ents who crawl under our dreams to get bigger, fatter and richer lives. Everyone dreams of becoming a celebrity, a dictator to others, a model for others to follow. And that is all part of the sickening way we tend to live.

Back to the album cover, it a piece filled with beautiful details not just in terms of paintwork but also it is the catch of the perfect despairing moment where death is only a mirage. We see the old pale man falling apart while anxiety and numbness consume him. For us, it is the perfect face for this release.

Your next album is out soon at Transcending Obscurity. How did you end up signing to this label and how has it been to you this far?
We had some offers from other labels after we finished recording the album last summer. Many were interesting and others not so much. Transcending Obscurity was the one which stood out with a good offer, a sick promotional work and most of all understanding the band, its concept and motivations for this release. It has been a good start.

Your next album, ‘Unsettling Whispers’, is appearing soon. What can you tell about the writing and recording process for this album and how did you feel you progressed from your EP?
It definitely goes deeper into the void concept, which for me, is a step forward and a final nail in the coffin for that concept. The music is just different from the one we recorded for the EP. The feeling and expression was also something very different and mature so that’s why some people may hear a more “grown-up” band in “Unsettling Whispers. ”

The writing process happened right after we released “GAEREA” EP, surprisingly. I was not expecting a new wave of inspiration. For me, we didn’t necessarily have to put out another ep or album. The job was done. But yes, inspiration took us by surprise and things started to happen fast. All the writing process took just half year to conclude and in June we were recording the album at Demigod Recordings in Portugal with Miguel. The recording process took us only 2 weeks to start and finish the whole thing. We knew exactly how it was supposed to sound and fortunately, we worked with a very good producer who instantly gave new ideas and approaches to our music.

What is the story on the album and how was it conceived conceptually? From what did you derive inspiration for it?
From the first moment, this band started to take its first steps, we got into Thomas Ligotti’s work. It definitely changed and was an inspiration for this Album. Saramago is also a creature who is firmly present in this conceptual work. All is explained in the lyrics and texts of an extended 20-page booklet inside the Digipak.

When listening to the now released track, I feel that your sound progresses from the traditional black metal sound into something well-polished, balanced but yet very heavy. In a sense, harder to classify in a genre. Is that where you’d like to place yourself as a band?
Personally, I can’t really fit this band into one genre only. Of course, it has strong Black Metal roots, although you may find other styles like Doom, Death or Hardcore. I don’t think about it. Nowadays it’s just weird to see people categorizing contemporary music.

If it was meant to be squared or direct, we wouldn’t have today’s artists like Hans Zimmer, Marina Abramovic, and others. It’s art which takes elements and inspiration from every other art realm already conceived to create or mold something called “new”. And no, I’m not talking about only music.

As I see it, you are pushing what it means to make black metal forward. In your perspective, what is black metal in its essence, what does it mean in 2018?
It doesn’t mean anything but something to be an inspiration for today’s artists and above all, something to be respected. It’s something which made total sense to be born inside Norway’s nest and spread like a plague to the world. Nowadays it’s just hard to do “pure” black metal cause the world has changed, metal music also changed a lot.

Every artistic movement happens on its own timeline for a reason. For me, it is strange how some new artists try to copy or recreate the same exact music in 2018. I don’t think that we’re taking black metal forward. Gaerea stands for another reason. But of course, we enjoy embracing new followers and people who think that just by hearing the songs.

Right now this kind of music is constantly under scrutiny. Watain, Marduk and so forth. How do you feel about this and what sort of situation do you face in your own country?
Taake
and Inquisition also. We are aware of what’s happening in today’s media and internet world. Yet, we don’t condemn artistic choices but personal ones which can ruin a career hard or impossible to be rebuilt. Let’s not go into detail regarding what we feel about every case. It’s not up to the Portuguese underground band to take part or to catch the moment to say anything about bands we respect and wish some things weren’t true. The one thing that matters to me is art and what their music means.

Could you tell me a bit about the scene in Portugal? What is happening there currently?
Everything is way smaller in Portugal. No big scandals because there aren’t many big bands and people just don’t care too much about it. Good thing we have some of the most die-hard fans in this country who will follow their favorite artists no matter what.

For your style of music, who do you look to as pioneers you follow up with. As in, regarding the history of metal in Portugal, do you place yourself in line with any pioneering bands as such?
Artists like Shining, The Great Old Ones, Obsidian Kingdom or even Secrets of the Moon. These are some strong names for us. And even though they do not fit entirely into the black metal genre or anything, neither do us. Regarding your second question, as I told you, we do not think too much about any of that. Of course we’re ambitious to the point we walk in a straight line towards the success of those acts. But still, we’re a small group and we must keep that in mind. We still have our own long path to craft.

Which bands from Portugal should people really check out?
We follow a lot of Portuguese acts. On the top of my head are The Ominous Circle, Process of Guilt and Lobo.

What future plans does Gaerea have?
For now, we have a massive release coming up. Some special appearances are being booked as we speak. Still, do not expect any extensive touring season.

If you had to compare Gaerea to a dish, what would it be and why?
Francesinha. You’re probably not familiar with this typical Portuguese dish but if there’s anything worth checking out, it’s that monstrous sandwich.

Is there anything you’d like to add that I didn’t ask?
“Unsettling Whispers is due to be released 22nd June. You know what to do.

Official Bandcamp – https://gaerea.bandcamp.com

Transcending Obscurity Records – http://tometal.com

Underground Sounds: Vonlaus – Vonlaus

Label: Vánagandr/Mystískaos
Artist: Vonlaus
Origin: Iceland

The map of Iceland is blotted with little groups of black metal artists, but the biggest is right over Reykjavik. The vast empty land does here and there spark some fires, but the capital is where it happens and Vonlaus is no exception. Their debut has come out this year and that’s all I can tell you about this group.

As the demo is out on Vánagandr. It’s likely that this project is connected to that lot and Mystískaos limits it even further to a very limited group. Though this speculation may be fun, nothing comes from it. Yet, I will just mention Wormlust and Skaphé as label mates and leave it at that. Vonlaus did contribute a track to the compilation ofMYRKFÆLNI magazine before and that’s all I can tell you at this point.

Opener ‘Vistaránauð’is a grimy, dirty doom track, with a slow progression that just glues you to the floor. The howling, raspy vocals are almost mocking, challenging the listeners in an uncanny way, while a clean guitar melody breaks through the murky haze. Slow and heavy, this hits quite hard and effectively. The shimmering guitars and thudding rhythm, the chuggy bass line, all works wonderfully.

On ‘Mein’ the band truly arrives though. A rocking vibe unleashes itself from the start. The repetitive melody feels as if it works your nerves like tiny little hammers for the 5-minute duration of the track with that nagging sound. It similarly holds that low pace, with a punky beat to it, a remarkable simplicity that just works for Vonlaus. The exit is the tune ‘Í blindbyl ótta og haturs’, which has that same raw and melancholic vibe, sticking to the base principles of the band. A welcome entry into the black metal realms, but hard to say if this is going to be one that sticks around.

Underground Sounds: Aorlhac – L’esprit des Vents

Label: Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions
Band: Aorlhac
Origin: France

Occitania is probably not a place you will easily find on maps, as it borders are not clearly defined and the language is not written down. Yet a vast amount of people in the south of France speak it. This is the place where Aorlhac hails from and their ‘L’esprit des Vents’ is a telling from their origins.

The band derives their name from Aurillac, home to the group. Members are also active in An Norvys, and three of them played together in Towersound before. Drummer Ardraos is more well-known thanks to his participation in Peste Noir. This record counts as number three for the band in a trilogy dealing with their ancient homeland.

Soundwise, the group compares to the like of Windir and Taake, thanks to that epic, yet aggressive sound they embody. The opening riff of ‘Alderica’ immediately grabs you, with howling vocals and blistering beats and rhythms. The music surges, like the Mistral wind, filled with atmosphere and riffs that evoke medieval images. At times we even hear the effects of hurdy-gurdy like music, for example on ‘Infâme Saurimonde’, which has some noteworthy breaks in the sound.

I have to say, listening to the urgency and grand passages in their sound, Aorlhac strikes me as a band that could be so much bigger. Musically, they grab attention with catchy, driven songs. The vocals are rough but very audible and open for singing along, much akin to the Ensiferium’s of this world. Melodic, yet never cheesy, this historically themed record with hellishly good tunes, like ‘Ode à la Croix Cléchée’ and ‘Une Vie de Reclus’, stands strong from start to finish.

The songs form raised fists to the temporal forces, that have made the world so much smaller. They are raised in defiance of nature, history and the melting pot of cultures, harking back to an age before, to an age of heroes and pride. That makes for one hell of a record.

 

Underground Sounds: Nam-Khar – Secret Essence/Sangwa Dupa

Label: Winter Light
Artist: Nam-Khar
Origin: Germany

Inspired by the mysteries of Tibet and far-eastern mysticism, Nam-Khar creates music that his highly ritualistic, marvelously uncommon and wildly unsettling at times. Still, the German artist creates pure magic with his blend of industrial, ambient and drone effects, which leaves you with a modern age ritual of aural magick.
The mixing was done by Martijn Comes, who is an absolute expert when it comes to amplifying the minimal into the maximal as done on this Winter Light release. ‘Secret Essence/Sangwa Dupa’ is by far not the first release of Nam-Khar. The artist name is derived from a ritualistic object, a weave from the Buddhist and Bön traditions. Wholly fitting, as that is how the music is created too.
‘Dri Za’ opens the record with eerie drones. Cold and metallic, they suck you into a darkness where the self slowly is peeled away. To a realm where in the dark, with your eyes shut, you can only hear the odd shuffling, dripping and industrial cracking beats that come at random intervals. The cavernous sound does much to intensify the listening experience, with the clangs reverberating from cavernous walls. Though there is a sense of foreboding, the horror element doesn’t frighten but merely focusses the mind on ‘Sab Dak’, as the sound slowly shifts.
On tracks like ‘Srinmo’ the drones are ever present, waxing and waining like the underground waters that they sound like. It’s different on the soundtrack-esque ‘Shidak’, which immediately creates a rising tension. Cold and eerie, but well entrancing. The sound o Nam-Khar is not that of fear, but of immersion and meditation. To dissolve the self into, the mood and calm unfolding itself, closing with the magical ‘Klu’.

Underground Sounds: The Malnàtt Collective – Pianura Pagana

Label: Il Male Production
Band: Malnàtt/The Malnàtt Collective
Origin: Italy
Since 1999 the group The Malnàtt Collective has been paving the way with their experimental metal. Playing with poetry, futurism and black metal, they’ve settled on… Well, that’s hardly settling you hear on ‘Pianura Pagana’. Their logo even contains a bit of Marinetti’s futuristic writing, suggesting the perpetual, machine-motion of the dynamic art movement. Peculiar? Indeed, but well worth listening to.
The core of the group is Helios Pu, also Porz, who has rand the mechanism for a good 20 years now. He also played in Marbas Cult, Buzzum, Vedova and probably other projects. Surrounding him is a never rotating line-up of musicians, filling in the vacant slots. Translated from Bolognian dialect, Malnàtt translates as ‘swine’.

You might not think of the combination directly, but the melodic and emotional Italian singing, combined with metal riffing and poetry delivers a powerful, atmospheric experience. Call it avant-garde, or atmospheric black metal, it matters not, because this is unlike anything you’ve listened to before. After a brief intro, the tune ‘Io ti propongo’ opens in a rather common way, with blast beats and remarkably clean riffs. It’s when the melancholic singing pierces through, that you get the uncanny experience, where metal and the cantautori of Italy meet.

During ‘Il Collettivo Malnatt’, the group moves into a more power metal direction, with dramatic, powerful songs and big movements. Bravely and boldly, the band implements poetry and art into a sound that is so unlike anything I’ve heard before. It’s innate melancholy and power almost completely obscure the thrash roots the band has (though they shine through now and then). Limits hardly hinder The Malnàtt Collective, as they move to a more punk-driven sound on ‘Chiese Chiuse’. I would call this whole album fascinating and daring, and it should be listened to a lot more.