Underground Sounds: Afsprengi Satans – Seiðgall

Label: self released
Band: Afsprengi Satans
Origin: Iceland

Itś a bit muddy where this group just emerged from, with their peculiar cover and lack of info. There has been a band in Iceland with the name Afsprengi Satans, which is related to the groups Myrk and Momentum. Oh, and they’re from Reykjavik, but that is quite frankly all I can tell you about them.

The record is rather short, only five songs, of which four don’t reach the three minute mark, but number five lasts 14 minutes. The songs have the titles of the four compass points, where the final track is titled Experiment.

THe music you get is the sound of wind, blowing hauntingly, laced with soem further effects to create a blaring form of ambient music. In that torrent of sound on ‘Norður’, a rapid rhythm is discernible, but it is unclear what casues it. It may be something fluttering in the gale of wind, or tribal drumming. The tempo of that decreases a lot on the next track, which seems to have some horns  sounding through the unrelenting winds, howling and lamenting.

With only slight variations, the record just continuous its path. Whistling, blowing and biting, the wind goes on. Now and then it sounds as sif there’s cut up sounds, messed into the music. Hacked up, mutated and strange to even create more of a fearful environment. The final track is another long ambient piece, which randomly seems to change direction. A rather intriguing piece of music if I may say.

So yeah, this is a weird release, but also fun and interesting. Give it a spin, you might enjoy its haunting atmosphere.

The next four years…

Can’t I just spend the next four years at a punk show?
I want to spend the next four years in the front row
Because if the world outside is going to shit
Then you will find me in the centre of the circle pit.

-Frank Turner ‘Sand in the Gears’

Yeah, I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with a world, in which people believe blatant lies of Trump, ridiculous plans bij Wilders and probably will vote for a Le Pen. A world so hung up on blaming the other for our own misfortunes that we forget that whole enlightened idea of being able to make our own future.

If you’ve sat still for 20 years of-fucking-course you get passed by, by someone who studies and grows. No one is steeling your job, you’re just not holding on to it. Oh yes, I believe firmly that the capitalist system that drives us, is slowly killing us and driving us to leaving life earlier. It also drives some to find solutions, to do things differently. From the tiny house movements, to backpackers and all sorts of free spirits. Sometimes I even find escape in books and by simply making my world as small as it is.

So why does this prospect make me feel so utterly sad? Because I believe that we’ve been making a lot of progress in the last couple of years. Gay marriage, environment politics and much more. Sure, there’s a lot of room for improvement, but we’re atleast going forward. Now the Bible is back as a rule book and that was never a good idea. Standing still is less bad than moving backwards, I think Billy Bragg once sang. I think we’re moving backwards into fear and stupidity.

But maybe this is the four years of shit we’re going to need. Maybe this will drive us back to the self sustained communities that are the backbone of the society as we know it. It’s easier to fear a horde of muslims without names and faces, than to fear your friendly neighbour. Fear mongering depends on the idea that people are masses, not individuals. If you accept that, you need also to accept that Trump is not a monster. He’s just a man who probably is a bit afraid and misinformed.

But what to do? I can’t spend four years in hibernation. And no, I don’t live in the United States, but the Dutch elections are due too and I think that regardles of all the proof that they’re a bunch of useless naysayers, there might be a big white, right win. What can I do in these next four years? How do I make sense of it and survive it?

Some guy at a concert in Area 51 explained to me what a Naysayer is. I kinda knew what it ment, but he fully explained it to me (right before running into a closed door, but that didn’t demean his point). Naysayers are people that will not and cannot help you progress. They will not solve, alleviate, improve or change anything. They just say ‘nay’.

So all you can really do… is say yes. Engage in conversation, take part in things, be out there! There’s a surprisingly small circle around you that you can make an impact on profoundly, by just being there. Embrace the people you care about and be open and kind to others. Don’t give in to the fear and hatred. Don’t use fists and hatespeech, use love and understanding. Compassion and that almost forgotten thing called discussion. Don’t wait for the change, be the change.

We make the world we live in, even in its small scale of close acquaintances. Say no to hatred, bigotry and other ridicuousness.

Be all that you can be, because as Frank Turner once said…

We are what we believe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2220MdXVPGw

Underground Sounds: Battle Dagorath – I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos

Label: Avantgarde Music
Band: Battle Dagorath
Origin: USA/Germany

With a band name, referring to Dagor Dagorath, the mythical end-battle in Tolkien lore (used for the final battle of the early ages, read The Silmarillion, you hobbit). With a title, that brings to mind the great Bal-Sagoth, this is a classic endeavour by Battle Dagorath in the field of epic black metal, titled ‘I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos’.

I think you can safely say that this comparison isn’t completely ridiculous. The band is a studio project of Vinterriket (Christoph Ziegler, Germany) and Black Sorcerer Battle (USA). The duo worked together on Hellschwadron as well. There used to be a third partner, but now only two members are listed for this release. It’s part one of a story the band wishes to

The sound of the band is steeped in the blistering cold of bands like Emperor, with the sense of majesty of Wolves in the Throne Room. It’s not easy to create long epic songs that remain interesting to the listener and Battle Dagorath does pull that off. A bit of story telling also isn’t missing, in between the cannonades of cold riffs that pour down on you. For example, ‘Phantom Horizons Beyond’ has an outro of cold, metallic clanging and the sound of steps. This may seem trivial, but ambiance is everything with sounds like this.

The continuous, beating sound is enriched by calm, melodic guitar lines that weave through the haze. The combination of that melodic element and the rawness of the overal sound is what gives the album its interesting contrast. The vocals are furious barks, filled with venom. It’s intriguing to hear them being followd up with clean, warm guitar parts, like on ‘Return to Gates of Dawn’. The comforting tones shift back to the vitriolic howls over tremolo riffs and blast beats. There’s something very classic to the sound of Battle Dagorath, but it feels fresh and welcome to hear a band like this. Hectic, wild and like a raging battle, they do justice to their name.

Underground Sounds: Nimetu – Abri

Label: self released
Band: Nimetu
Origin: Slovenia

I find that my quest in the realm of music has shifted to something specific. I want to hear things that evoke the imagery of the verdant realm (as Botanist calls it), music to help me find my green cathedral (taken that from Winterfylleth). That allows me to find some real gems and Nimetu from Slovenia is nothing less than that. The album ‘Abri’ is breath taking.

An Abri is a rock shelter, which I can relate to the sound of the record, which is rather cavernous, using echo’s to fill up the sound. The artist describes the ‘Abri’ as a special place, a place where people took shelter for centuries. It’s the start of the world. With your back against the wall, protected from the elements, the world is stretching out in front of you. Every move you’ll make will be into the out there.

The music is very minimal, but still eclectic and adventurous. Using only a flute, it evokes the vision one may have from an abri, seeing the landscape stretch out in front of you. With just an arsenal of fluits and a kalima, there’s music that genuinely creates peace and quiet in the mind of the listener. Andrej Hrvatin did everything by himself on this record, which explains the complete serenity over the whole record and sound. It feels so natural and direct.

You can feel yourself sitting high in that crevasse of a mountain, overlooking the tree tops and birds soaring by. The wind gently whistles past you while the sun crests the summit of the mountains and golden rays fall down. It’s all this and more, the natural sound of solitude. This music truly is hauntingly beautiful in its telling about freedom in a direct and unsurpassed way: by expressing it to the fullest.

Interview Montfaucon: Isolation in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is probably not the first place you think of when you hear metal music. Still, there’s a big scene of alternative music in the former Soviet states south of Russia. Uzbekistan is an overly Islamic country that actually has seen its share of censorship in the best years, but the music flourishes, especially if the lyrics are in English.

With a dense history spanning the ages, it was rather surprising to me to find a band that took its name from a horrible spot of executions during the time France still had kings. Their sound was an eclectic mixture of various genres and this is what drew me to the band Montfaucon. I got in touch with them through e-mail.

Valentin Myamsin has left Uzbekistan and lives in the United States now, but the band keeps working on material across the globe. With a new record just released, titled ‘Renaissance’, the band is keeping it up and staying strong, so we had a nice little conversation about metal in Uzbekistan and Montfaucon.

Could you kindly introduce yourselves as band? Have or are you guys involved in any other musical projects?

Montfaucon has been formed in 2002 in the city Tashkent in Uzbekistan by me (Valentin Mayamsin) on guitar and Mikhail Epifanov on piano. We started actively working on composing songs and have been selected to perform at two day festival ‘Alternative music festival 2004’ organized by British council. (It was quite an event I’d say given that we had rare metal gigs and just a few metal bands). That was a trigger to find a drummer Renat Khidirov and bassist Sergey Sadokov. Over the course of next few years we had on bass Denis Raytuzov and Andrey Astashov and at last saxophonist Andrey Golubev. Today Montfaucon exists as a project since I moved to USA and I am separated with other members by the entire planet Earth. Thanks to Internet we’re still actively composing new stuff, but unfortunately cannot perform live.

How did you get inspired to make metal music? What bands specifically inspired you and why?

We all had different influences in different bands. I personally had influence of a very wide range of bands and styles, most notably Satyricon, Cradle of Filth, Cannibal Corpse, maudlin of the Well, Andromeda, My Dying Bride, Opeth, Emperor, even Pink Floyd. What inspired me to make metal music? When I met Mikhail and heard a few of his dark piano compositions, I realized that it moves me. We combined them with heavy guitars, brutal vocals, and produced a unique and interesting sound driven primarily by piano. I thought that piano is quite unrepresented in metal music and it inspired my to further experiment with it.

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How did you come up with the band name and concept of Montfaucon, which appears to be the place where a huge gallows was positioned in France during the time of their kings. A rather gruesome place?

Indeed. Gruesome, dark themes are found everywhere in our music and lyrics. The band name was inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’. At the end of the book he describes Montfaucon gibbet which somberness stroke me. I have also been inspired by this novel when writing lyrics. The description of torturous imprisonment in a stone box gave inspiration for ‘Prisoner’,  The song ‘The last night’ is set around Montfaucon gibbet and medieval punishment traditions.

 

Musically Montfaucon is an oddity, combining raw death/black elements with progressive and experimental bits. How did you come up with your specific sound?

I think it’s because of my wide exposure to different bands and styles. A friend of mine regularly introduced me to different bands before even Internet became widespread in our country and speed was enough to pirate music. It was late 90’s. He is an artist with extensive connections abroad who supplied him disks of rare bands, demos. Back then we could only find cassettes of popular bands like Metallica, Sepultura or My Dying Bride. But this guy had things like Satyricon, maudlin of the Well, Symphony X, etc. This is what I grew up on, and this is what Montfaucon is heavy influenced with. And this is just influence on my side since every member of Montfaucon brought in his own influences.

Your musical production has been sparse. Are you working on anything right now?

Yes we are! We haven’t had a chance to produce a full length album for many different reasons. Back when we got started we merely didn’t have enough money. Mikhail was first among us who had a computer and we produced a few demos at home which allowed us to participate in big music events in Tashkent and promote on radio. Later on we were busy building our careers and couldn’t find enough time for music. And finally last year we decided that we owe ourselves a decent record and started producing our first album. We recorded everything at home, decent recording hardware is quite affordable nowadays. All songs have been composed a decade ago, but we refined some parts, added layers of additional details. Yet we tried to keep original parts contributed by each member of our band. Legendary Swedish sound engineer Dan Swanö agreed to mix and master the album which turned out terrific! He made every part of every song sound best, he managed to find our unique sound and he even put a few easter eggs for those who will listen carefully.

You’ve got a new album ready, can you tell a bit about that?

The new album is basically what we have composed over the course of active years. There are many experiments with the style and sound. Every song has it own unique sound and feature. We were lucky to work on the album with legendary sound engineer and musician Dan Swanö who made every our song sound the best it can possibly be.  The album was recorded in the comfort of our home without any rush over the course of 6 months and exchanged files over the Internet. We didn’t have any previous recording experience so we involved the leader of ‘The Faceless’ Michael Keene who advised us on the process of recording. I was focused on the quality and I had to rewrite all guitar and bass parts 3 times. Mixing process was challenging as well since we had no clue how piano can be put together with guitars so it wouldn’t get lost. With Dan we went over many variations and experiments with the sound before achieving perfection.

What can you tell me about the history of metal in Uzbekistan and how does the scene look like now?

Well, I don’t think I’m competent to give accurate history of the movement as I joined metal community pretty late. I’d recommend reaching out to Peter Stulovsky for that matter – he can tell about promoting metal on radio and cover history comprehensively. However, I can give you my perspective on that.

When I first visited a metal gig it took place in an old ‘Palace of Culture’ which was quite common at the time. The place was not fit for this kind of activity: there was no dance floor, just dense rows of seats stationary nailed to floor. No wonder when people got high on heavy music and alcohol they started to crash this place and it finished with police and troubles for organizers. This kind of concerts and outcomes were quite common those days and seemed like other clubs learned that and stopped giving places for any gigs. There was a quiet period for a few years when old bands disbanded and new bands formed grown up on Internet and a new radio show called ‘Hard days’ (‘Тяжелые будни’). That was the time when we formed our band as well. Suddenly it was announced on the radio that there is  going to be a two-day festival organized by British Council and there is a call for demos and rehearsals. Needless to say, it was one of the biggest events in music history of Tashkent. Many new metal bands showed up including us, Zindan, Sweet Silence and Titus. Here is a few of videos from that concert:

It triggered a renaissance in metal scene of Uzbekistan. Internet also became more widespread, opened a new metal forum where bands could promote themselves, gigs has been organized and announced. New bands started to pop up every month or so, opened a few more or less permanent rock/metal clubs, new records by local bands played on radio.  A few examples. ‘Sepsis’ playing death metal including covers on Cannibal Corpse and Death. A black metal band from Ferghana (unfortunately I don’t remember their name, hope Peter will help out with that) playing blast beats on crappy Soviet drums. A progressive metal band ‘4th dream’ playing 10 minutes long ever-changing compositions with a vocalist singing in ranges from high pitch clean vocals to growl and screams.

It continued to be this way pretty much till I left the country in 2008. I guess Peter can cover up period from 2008 onward.

To wrap up, I’d say it was pretty isolated metal community. A few of Uzbekistan bands played abroad, mostly in Kazakhstan. A few foreign bands played in Uzbekistan. Although we always followed what happened on Europe and USA metal scenes.

How are the facilities for you in your country? Are things like music, instruments and such easily available? are there venues to play and rehearsal spaces, studioś and such available?

When we got started it was hard to find a rehearsal space, metal music was not welcomed, metal culture has been (and still) stigmatized in many people’s minds. As I mentioned earlier concerts has usually been held in ‘Palace of Culture’ with help of Soviet era amplifiers and speakers. Music instruments was hard to find. Guitars, basses, drums – everything was from Soviet era. Originally I even played on a DIY guitar combined from other guitar parts. I made my own distortion pedal, even tried different schematics found on Internet to achieve better sound. Occasionally somebody brought some wonders from abroad like guitar processors, cardan shaft drum pedals, etc. Rehearsals took place in basements, storerooms or in the best case in ‘Palace of Culture’ next door to some dance studio.

Later on it improved substantially. Some folks managed to find an abandoned high-rise student dorm and turn it into rehearsal space. There was room for everybody and they did not disturb other people. People started selling gear from China and Russia which was both affordable and way better then we used to have. People started hanging out in new rock/metal clubs demanding more metal gigs. Venues improved as well by providing better experience and security.

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If you were able to play anywhere, what places would you most like to play shows at and why?

Haha. I don’t have any place in mind. I just love to play for any crowd.

Uzbekistan being a mostly Islamic country, do you face any repression as a metal musician? I’ve learned that this differs immensely depending on where musicians live and I’m interested to know what it’s like for you guys and if you have some experiences to share?

Well, I have not experienced any repressions on religious grounds. Although most people practice Islam, they are pretty mild. At least in big cities like Tashkent or Samarkand. However people still have Soviet mindset and police is quite repressive. Occasionally there was ‘educational’ police raids which I heard was quite humiliating experience. It didn’t happen to me though and as far as I know it usually didn’t have much consequences to others. Censorship might have existed, but all our songs are in English and nobody seem to bothered to translate what we shouted out from stage.

Do you put something typical Uzbeki in your music? Like note patterns, instruments or such?

Not really, I didn’t feel much influence of Uzbek music on me. Although we have an Oriental instrumental which hasn’t been recorded yet and a few turns in piano parts. Though I may not realize it, others may tell there is an Oriental twist in our music. You tell me…

What bands from Uzbekistan should people check out and why?

I don’t really follow Uzbekistan music scene these days. I hope Peter might suggest something.

What future plans do you have as Montfaucon?

I hope to finish new compositions which will raise quality bar for Montfaucon. We have a few unfinished songs which already sound terrific. I dream of Montfaucon to grow out of just being a project and perform live.

If you had to describe your band as a dish (food), what would it be and why?

Haha. Funny one. Bloody burrito? I dunno, music and food are in different dimensions to me which cannot coexist in close proximity. Say what?!…

Underground Sounds: A Band Of Orcs – March of the Gore-Stained Axe Tribe

Label: IME
Band: A Band Of Orcs
Origin: United States (or Hirntodia)

So the group of human children that played D&D and accidentally brought the A Band Of Orcs into our world are now dead… except for their DM’s older brother , who tought them how to riff like Slayer. This eased the bloodlust of the tribe, who now embrace metal as a means to conquer and dominate.

Blending nerdism and metal is the best, really. Originally this band was a five piece, but the war machine has been thinned down to only three mighty Orcish warriors from their own realm. The whole concept has been worked out pretty brilliantly. Merch consists of a card game, dice and miniatures and the group performs in costume. Though this release is not that new, it was so awesome that I had to cover it.

The sound of A Band of Orcs has developed from a blend of Slayer and Norther with the epic balls of 3 Inches of Blood to a more gritty and dirty assault on this record. More directed to death metal, less controlled and with vocals that have  crusty feel to it. Maybe something like Kvelertak meets Svartsot in the Amebix basemetn style equipment? It has all the groove and brutality to go there, but also the epic riffing.

Sticking to their gimmick, the opening track is a weird war chant with frantic drumming, which launches into the title track. Hoars, shouted vocals rally the troops and indicate agressive action. Hooky, sharp riffs and tumultuous rhythms guide the song to its ultimate conclusion. ‘Heaving Death’ follows after a mad scream and a distorted, hazy assault of drums and guitars. It’s a thundering track and the pinnacle of this ferocious EP. Double vocals, chaotic and definitely wild, this track really harnesses the agression of the Orcish horde in a punked up aural attack. Oog, Cretos, and Gronk! are a deadly machine, so check them out!

Why Rogue One sucks not so bad

Yes, I made a funny title, but I’m really torn about Rogue One. When I watched it the first time, I really dug the film. I had the full on cinematic experience with popcorn and was not too critical. Maybe also because I was celebrating my 5 year relationship (really proud of that). So why did this film suck not so bad?

Rogue One story

The story of Rogue one is so thin, that you can see through it. If you would wear Rogue One in public, it would be indecent. The plot revolves around the Death Star. To destroy it, the blueprints need to be acquired. We all know where this is going, but just not how it’s going to get there.

The protagonist is Jyn Erso, whose dad designes an builds the Death Star. Jyn is as a character not very believable, mainly because there is so little of it. We see Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso, daddy, in a performance that is as convincing as he always is, but also thin. It’s hard to find any sense in the motivation and acts of the characters, which is incredibly sad. Alan Tudyk (Firefly) voices a droid, who is ment for comic relief… Well, atleast it’s not Jar Jar Binks. But do the characters really matter that much? Not really, because the whole point of the film is hinting at the Trilogy and those characters. Shame that Jyn Erso and her compatriot Cassian Andor are just such lousy characters… No clue why they would risk their lives. I just didn’t understand them, nor connected to them.

source: petercushing.blogspot.com, “A display of people who… well, don’t really matter.”

Mind, this is in no way ment to criticize the actors. You can only offer criticism on that, when they are actually allowed to act. Maybe the actors know who their characters are, but they never have the room to bring that across. In a franchise that asts Hayden Christenson as Anakin Skywalker, perhaps character simply doesn’t matter…

Cinematographic spectacle

But the spectacle of seeing Darth Vader in his castle, or seeing Grand Moff Tarkin brought back to life with technology is amazing. Even a fleeting glimpse of Leia made a guy in the row in front of me jump up in frantic movement, simply because the enthusiasm couldn’t be contained. The way they movie makers did this part is absolutely glorious and brilliant.

The huge battles, the explosions and creatures of many different kinds are brilliant and believable. The film has all the spectacle it needs but maybe just a little too much. Maybe a bit of character build up would have made the overal performance of this film better. It’s such a shame, because this part is so brilliantly done. Still, I remain with the question that if the character Cassian carries with him a personal prison, why don’t we find out? Why trivialize the character so much with a mere response to this mystery, that goes like this: ‘yeah, I did some bad things… but I believe in this.’. Grandeur replaces character and that is murderous for the quality of a film.

The Star Wars Canon

A big bummer for many fans of the franchise was probably the fact that there was not a single mention of Kyle Katarn. Kyle Katarn is a character in the fringes of the Canon, who really came to life in the video games and legends of the Star Wars universe. Originally, he was the one who stole the plans of the Death Star. Well… no more.

Though more and more Legends are being reintegrated into the Canon, it’s hard to see what the impact is of the film. Rogue One is in a sense a rather small bit of history, that regarding the progression of the story will have little impact on the rest of the canon. It remains unclear though what this will mean for the further universe and the way it will develop. Rogue One doesn’t open any new doors, just rushes towards one that is wide open and titled ‘Star Wars IV – A New Hope’. It’s from there it derives all its value.

Insignificant

History will call Rogue One an insignificant film I fear. The overall response is that it lacks any real meaning, some real sense of inspiration. All the vibrant enthusiasm it evokes, it evokes by referring to the Trilogy. The highlight of the film is the moment you see Leia. If you haven’t seen it yet, that might keep you to your seat till the end of the thing. It won’t be its narrative brilliance.

So to wrap up the story, it doesn’t suck so bad. Just curb your enthusiasm and enjoy the spectacle. There’s little else Rogue One has to offer. All in all it will be a footnote in the franchise’s history.

 

RIP Carrie Fisher. I’ll miss you, dear princes. 

Underground Sounds: Night Gaunt – Jupiter’s Fall

Label: Temple of Mystery Records
Band: Night Gaunt
Origin: Italy

Who doesn’t like old fashioned doom metal? You know, doom the way it supposed to be. Well, if your answer is no, you should look no further. You wouldn’t understand how cool Night Gaunt is.

Night Gaunts are creatures from Lovecrafts unearthly tales, most particularly the Dream Cycle. There is little reference to the Lovecraftian tale though, but that’s alright. This release has two songs that are big and bold enough to stand on their own. It’s been released as an EP and is the first act of the band since their full length in 2014. Though this is not that much material, their whole aesthetic spoke to me enough to check it out.

The first track is the tragic, gloomy title track ‘Jupiter’s Fall’. It clocks just under six minutes and immediately hits you with the slowly progressing, big riffs. The minor tones are instant guarantee’s for a feeling of sadness and remorse, but the interesting gong sounds do wake you up from the nodding to the beat. The vocals by ‘Gc’ are smooth, even seductive to be fair. Sparsely using the vibrato in his voice, there’s an uncommon subtlety to the singers delivery, which is the right sort of magic for a haunting doom album. The sound has a bit of echo to it, making it sound more cavernous even.

‘Penance’ is the other side of the 7″ this is released as, with an urgent guitar line that hits you instantly. The song is more creeping, subtle like a snake that is wrapping itself around the listener. This song then does get a bit more muscular with the sturdy riffing, that never fails to have a sturdy, gothic demeanor to it. The pulsating rhythm does its part as well,  even giving a hint of an oriental twist in the delivery.

Night Gaunt delivers on their promise. Doom with a pitchblack flavor.

Underground Sounds: Downfall Of Gaia – Atrophy

Label: Metal Blade
Band: Downfall Of Gaia
Origin: Germany

The German Downfall Of Gaia is definitely a unique sound in the sludge/hardcore world. I like placing them in that genre-corner, because they remind me a lot of Converge, Altar Of Plagues and their ilk with the intense, bleak sound they produce. The band has concocted a very own mixture of styles nd it’s a highly effective one at that.

Thought he comparison of previous bands seems obvious, there’s definitely more to the band than that. Isis can be heard in the sludge elements, which are thick and spiced up with those wavery guitar parts. Then there’s a more rough around the edges crust element akin to Amebix and Discharge. All that leaves you as a band completely free to go in whatever direction you feel like. That is what the band does on ‘Atrophy’.

The howling vocals are really bringing that Converge comparison to life on opener ‘Brood’. Thunderous rhythms are combined with melodic guitar, completely disconnected from the ferocity going on with the vocals and rhythm section. The way the band manages to create music that is pleasant to listen to, while maintaining that raw edge is definitely part of why Downfall Of Gaia should be much bigger. The appeal of their sound is just very broad. The bestial bark of Dominik Goncalves dos Reis just works fine with the sweet riffs on ‘Woe’. There’s almost a bit of postrock there, with the warmth-evoking guitar work.

Building up tension is another postrock element the band has fully embraced. On ‘Ephemerol’ the tranquility of the guitar play and its sudden vibrant harmony with the rhythm section is part of that, of creating that tension so necessary for this music to really work. Always there’s a slight raw edge, in this case a distorted buzz around the edges of the guitar tones. Another majestic track unfolds, after which we get a short intermission that is as dreamy as music by the xx.

A highlight of the album is the soaring guitar work on the titlesong. The vocals appear from a cavernous underground, distant and muffled. As the album deals with themes of dead and life, you can feel the continuous contrast in the sound with opposing elements. Stretched guitar tones create some sort of blaring black metal static as melodious guitar play trickles into your ears. One feels close and warm, the other far away and cold.

Atrophy as a whole is a vitalist, contrasting and energetic record, where humble acoustics go hand in hand with black metal majesty. It’s agressive but never abrasive, furious but never losing control. If this was football, this would be total-metal by Downfall Of Gaia.

 

Underground Sounds Roundup: Ash Borer, Bölzer, Krallice

Sometimes you simply can’t cover it all, but you still want to. Because of that I’m going to do a round up of some releases, that have gotten plenty of coverage elsewhere. Why do I then still cover them? Well, because I feel it is my duty in a peculiar way to say something about Krallice, Ash Borer and Bölzer.

Krallice – Prelapsarian

source: bandcamp

Label: Gilead Media
Origin: United States

Though Krallice can be a bit too chaotic for me at times, they are one of the most interesting bands out there. They’ve been very productive, releasing an album in 2015 and an EP in 2016 and then suddenly here’s another full lenght with four rabid, mesmerizing tracks. The sheer intensity with which Krallice delivers their songs is uncanny. Shouted vocals, more akin to a Converge  (‘Hate Power’) combined with riffs that at times (‘Transformation Chronicles’) feel more Dragonforce-like at times. The eclectic combinations the band makes is in a way what makes them so interesting, though on this record they are more returning to the frantic black metal sound Krallice originates from. The music constantly shifts pace and surprises you at every turn. The mix is great and the record is great, what more do you want me to say about this?

Ash Borer – The Irrepassable Gate

source: Bandcamp

Label: Profound Lore Records
Origin: United States

Ash Borer is in a league of their own when it comes to creating densely atmospheric black metal with a majestic streak to it. Filled with ambient elements, to create an all overpowering sound, the band is heavier than thou and irredeemably good on this offering. The doomy overtones  with the subterranean drumming are a constant battery for your nerves. The cacophony of noise the band unleashes here and there helps to create the right vibe of a sound that is much more natural and real than that of your average Satan worshipping black metallers. The grandeur and consistency in which Ash Borer weaves their aural patterns is not unlike bands such as Wolves In The Throne Room, Balancing between the ferocity of USBM and the complete sound of Cascadian black metal, Ash Borer shows themselves to be a class apart on the general BM firmament.

Bölzer – HERO

source: bandcamp.com

Label: Iron Bonehead
Origin: Switzerland

I have felt conflicted about the Swiss duo, mainly due to their ridiculous reclamatin of various nazi-symbols. It seemed so boneheaded to me, that I just wasn’t sure what to make of it. Having seen the band perform live twice, I think there’s a good reason to do write about this odd duo. Why then? Because they are incredible! Sure, live their sound gets a bit muddled and loses any sort of semblance of subtlety. Still, the ‘world-eating’ sound (as read in band bio) is a thunderous, unstoppable force. Chosing minimal means, does not mean an artist limits himself. Also adding clean vocals, Bölzer sound like heathen, barbarian kings on ‘HERO’. A display of thunderous rhythms and remarkably noticable  guitar melodies. On a track like ‘Hero’, that makes the men sound like titans. Big muscular riffs and booming vocals. I still don’t understand their strange love for the sun wheel and wolfsangel, but on the other hand I get the stubborn position behind it. The whole record is a bull headed effort to wring out epic sounds of minimal means. They sure do pull that off!