One has to be skeptical when dealing with bands that claim to hail from strange realms such as Ethiopia. Not that its impossible, you’ll be hard pressed to find any confirming information on any metal bands in the African country with its rich history. Nishaiar claims to hail from there though and this is their next record, titled ‘Igewanda’.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to dispense with finding the truth (GhostBath anyone?) as any interview requests are unanswered by this group clearly embracing the mystique and astral wisdom they convey in every utterance. The band has released 3 full length releases and one EP this far, all with radiant, ascending black metal full of wonder and amazement. That, in itself, fascinates the listener enough.
After a tribal intro, we fall into the fullness of warm ambient and keys, that forms the bass of Nishaiar’s sound. Wind instruments and a lot of electronics bring experience to life on the title track, which is as subtle and slithering as the fog of an early morning. The guitars drop in with a crunch, solidly clasped in the droning sounds. At times the music feels almost inorganic, but a sonic stream with a drumming so rhythmic and concentrated on ‘Nayan’ seems almost to be computer-generated.
Nishaiar gives a new shape to what we call ambient black metal, with music that mostly just drifts along on the astral waves the band claims to ride. Densely atmospheric, the music captures the imagination with the tribal sounds on ‘Menigedi’. At times it is probably hard to really call this sound black metal, but the way Nishaiar immerses the listener in their feverish dream music is uncanny. An experience like no other in the current black metal landscape almost.
Label: Independent Artist: Striborg Origin: Australia
Black metal artists have always had a knack for pushing the envelope. Though some stay in their cave and spit out furious raw sounds forever, Sin Nanna has decided to depart and enter the realms of electronics with depressed black metal outfit Striborg. Obviously, this has been to an unkind reception at times, but ‘Blackwave’ is a great, atmospheric record in its own right and worth a try for those who love the vibe of the Tasmanian artists work.
Striborg has released an impressive array of records throughout the years, but the man behind the project seems to believe a new direction is needed. Understandable, as this was not even his only project. At times he even dabbled with other projects, like gritty death metal outlet Cromlech or the one-off Sun O))) participation of Pentemple. Striborg has steadily been his main outfit, after growing out of Kathaaria, which started in 1994. That’s a long line of darkness…
Eerie synthwave with harrowing vocals, urge the listener onwards, through the dense halls of a futuristic construction or spaceship. The music is cold, but oriental influences give it some body and enhance the otherworldly experience of ‘Trapped in a Void of the Nightgrass Repetitive, droning melodies, with odd effects that enhance the futuristic feel of the music. Diving deep into the niche of synthwave, Striborg is going into the unknown here.
It’s during tracks like ‘Making The World Cold’, that the atmospheric black metal influence really shines through again. The guitars are condensed in a singular melody line, compressed and bent into an electronic vibe, but the drums are ase Burzumesque as it gets. That shifts slightly on the track ‘All Alone in A Room Filled With Souls’, which feels… dare I say? Dancy actually, with the electroclash vibe of the early synth music with a steady, thudding drum.
We close of with a harrowing, horror tune, titled ‘Penance Stare’. A creepy outro, that leaves you cold. In other words, great stuff! With ‘Blackwave’, Striborg reaches a new level of depth in the feeling and emotion of the string of great works. Definitely leaving the purists far behind, it challenges genre definitions, but grips listeners.
This album oozes eastern-European storytelling, with its typical cover artwork. Ramchat hails from Slovakia and probably doesn’t like Christianity much, judging by the burning clergy on the cover of ‘Nepočaria!’. This is the third full-length by the pagan black metallers in fact, and it stings.
The band has been around since 2013 and seems to be made up out of members from previous entities like Protest and Lunatic Gods. Both bands are still around and some members still perform in there. Hirax is the core member of the project and shaper of its pagan, Slavic direction.
The record starts with a punch on ‘Tak si spomeň’. Powerfull riffing, and then suddenly that rolling launch with barked vocals and a fat drum line. The vocals switch between a burly grunt and venomous snarl. A female vocalist chants in a fashion we find in many ethnic metal bands that borrow from the eastern folk tradition. But it works and touches the listener instantly with a yearning for the past. With a good dose of death metal influences, the record plows onwards on ‘SiloSlabosť’ with some crisp riffing and a thundering rhythm section. You might want to kick stuff.
There’s something grand in a song like ‘Už nebudeme otroci’, with the big melodies. Rising in force, the song works its magic relentlessly. You find the sound flow through with rattling drums and lust for battle. Musically, Ramchat invigorates with their strong and hefty sound, sometimes approaching some pretty brutal parts on ‘KrajoZem’. Notable song on this record is the closer ‘
Postoj chvílu! (cover by ŽiariSlav)’, with its thin whistle sounds, folk instruments and the singing with some typical hope and positivity as found in many post-Soviet tunes from the east. It’s hard to pinpoint that style, but it’s the music that stirs something in the listener that feels very profound.
A thoroughly enjoyable album, fully in Slovakian of course. Recommended listening!
Featuring Bog Body, Nyredolk, The Nietzsche, Mentor and Entropy Created Consciousness
These days, what used to be metal in its most vile and violent expressive forms has become a safe and polished sound. If this is a good thing or not, that is up to you to decide. Music evolves and changes over time and where the original wave of doom metal harked towards the fantastic and gloomy, black metal to cold and desolate unfeelingness and death metal really revolved around pummeling and punishing performances, this changes over time and much music nowadays under the banner of death, black or doom sounds particularly easy on the ear. And that’s fine… I guess. But deep down, there’s always crusty, dirty music coming out.
Disgusting, raw and visceral
What should metal sound like? That depends if you believe Possessed or Death was the first death metal act or perhaps if you consider Venom or Celtic Frost the way-paver for this sound. Even doom probably has its dilemma’s. But that’s not what I’m talking about here, as I want to focus on one direction of the development into the gritty, murky, visceral and dirty sound that was so long at the core of the underground. This is the true grit, music that makes you feel like you need to wash up. It’s still there, if you look for it.
Bog Body is a relatively new band, who have not been around that long and their demo is the first statement by the New York duo. Their band photo depicts abandonment and decay, the rubble of society. Inspired by the ritual aspect of death found in bog bodies, their sound is one of simplicity and punishment. Doomy, gloomy passages with grinding distortion and minimalist repetition. The vocals are harsh howls, full of bite and venom as ‘Dessicant Drip’ despoils your senses. Pummeling, daring and challenging you like a mad hobo wielding a knife in an alley, the songs just barrel forward, lunging, grabbing and squeezing the life out of everything. And this is only the debut.
There’s a lot of similarities with the Danish band NyreDolk, who are also a masked duo standing in the remains of western society on their profile picture. Their crusty, punk-infused sound is like black metal gone wrong according to their bio and they are quite honestly spot-on there. Ramming rhythms, that sound like the instruments are scraped over gravel, as the vocalist taunts and bellows his crooked words at you. But the band can also sound truly demented and harrowing on a track like ‘Dø Langsomt’ with these crawling passages. Absolutely brilliant material in its squat-crust-splendor with that big, challenging and evil sound you love from black metal. A great record and a promise for more, but I kind of hope they stick to making EP’s like this.
Music from the dirt doesn’t need to sound disgustingly unclean though, it’s all about the raw intent and fury. It can be a straight, raw punch to the jaw in a hardcore vibe. Uncut diamonds, rough in their pure glory.
So you hardly need that black metal vibe to sound raw and dirty, which Ukrainian dark hardcore band The Nietzsche proves on their ‘Finals’ record. Imagine the bastard child of The Chariot and Mastodon, singing in Russian and English, both hard and fierce as well as creepingly melancholic. The sound is versatile but so direct. The lyrics are in fact the most notable, with poetic and complex lyrics, particularly in a song titled, rather obnoxiously I assumed at first, ‘Shake Your Spear’ and ‘Emily (Wants The) D’. These guys are not attempting to be anything you expect and underneath the gritty armor, there’s a complex and beautiful piece of music hidden for those willing and able to understand it. Pretty sure Nietzsche would appreciate this superior beatdown sound.
Described as satanic hardcore, Mentor features members of Thaw, Furia and J.D. Overdrive. And pardon me, but… FUCK! This record comes in with a firm kick to the teeth and a whole lot of grit. ‘Cults, Crypts and Corpses’ is like a sick fantasy from a bunch of guys who normally take the roundabout way to bring their message in an atmospheric haze. This time, they can just handle the axe, bat and club. It’s tight riffing, bellowing vocals and a stomping, rocking vibe from start to end. Just check out a track like ‘Death Mask’, which just pummels you in the face, like a little Slayer tribute. Or my favorite, the darkened and demented Kvelertak-like ‘Churchburner Girl’. Man, this record makes you want to get all sweaty and dirt stained in a muddy mosh pit at a festival or so. Every guitar lick, every riff is just nasty and the record hits the right spot!
Lo-fi black metal is an excellent way to create a sound so oppressing and hazy, that it feels similarly unclean. Entropy Created Consciousness does just that on their decay-ridden, abyssal sounding record ‘Impressions of the Morning Star’. There is an eerie line of hope in the sound of these songs, created by a mysterious entity without face and name, inspired by William Blake and the grand grotesque of classic doom metal by bands like the Peaceville Three. But the sound is so wrangled and wrong at times, that it makes you feel uncomfortable as a listener. Dark and foreboding, yet open and vast. Yeah, this is something sinister, so you should probably check it out.
Band: Norilsk Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records Origin: Canada
‘Weepers of the Land’ is a weird album, in the sense that the band considers it a companion record to the 2017 ‘Le Passage des Glaciers’. It is the third full-length record for the Canadian band but could be called an EP perhaps due to its connective nature. But hey, we love the EP format anyways and all is well on this five track release.
Norilsk is named after a Siberian city, which might explain the fact that some songs on this record have only been released in Russia before. The duo definitely catches a theme of the grim cold in the north, which is expressed through gritty death doom full of forlorn hopelessness and cold riffing. So let’s check this release out.
The cold hits you on the relentless ‘No Sacred Ground’, with the gritty roar from guest singer Damian Smith (Altars of Grief) barking defiance to the winds. Drummer Nick Richer keeps the natural and calm pace that nature takes. It is what it is, right? In that sense, they evoke the imagery on the album cover of man against the uncaring elements. This is pretty much what Nick Miquelon picks up on during ‘The Way’, which is the little hit song on this release, clocking under four minutes.
The lyrics of “Toute la noirceur du monde” are done by Ben Forte from NorthEastBistro, and Mort Marion from BloodMoonKnights plays guitar solo’s on all following tracks, which is part of the wider cooperative creation of this record. The vocals are in French, which adds a certain snarl to the whole vibe of the track. A notable track is ‘Tomber 7 Fois’, which is, in fact, a MyleneFarmer cover. Wonderfull! It lets us hear the band in a completely different form, with layered vocals, conflicting sounds and a more gloomy approach compared to the cold honesty of their normal approach. It is fascinating to listen to, but maybe at times a bit overly messy.
The vocals on ‘Weepers of the Land’ come from Joshua Cayer (Longhouse). It’s a tormented scream as icy winds again blas you with repetitive fury and a congested, thudding bass line. This is, again, Norilsk at their finest with their arctic doom, blackened by cold, rigid by ice.
Label: Non Serviam Records Band: Ennui Origin: Georgia
Ennui is a French word, fallen out of use to an extent, that means a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, which well captivates the work by this Georgian duo. With ‘End of Circle’, they’ve outdone themselves on the magnitude of work and force and therefore the work may be a bit much to chew up for most listeners. But those who delve into it will find sheer majesty.
Funeral doom is a difficult genre to be prolific in, but Ennui has been quite productive since 2012, releasing 4 full-length records and two splits. Serj Shengela who provides guitars and keys is also active in Angel of Disease, Signs and No Regrets. David Unsaved, drummer and singer, also plays in Necropoli and his solo outlet Unsaved.
The first thing that has to be mentioned is the sheer immensity of ‘End of Circle’. The opening track (and title track) clocks in at over 30 minutes of shimmering, dirge-like doom metal. A slow procession towards the underworld it seems, with the guitars just clambering up the heavens. It’s the feeling of being in a pit of sand where the walls keep crumbling as despair sets in. The keys are ever present, providing dungeon synthy intermezzos, further enriching the mournful sound of the band.
The vocals are minimal, but when David Unsaved screeches defiance at the heavens, it is something else. At times, the sonorous sounds of the tracks remind me a little of that Victorian darkness My Dying Bride Brings, but it’s sombre procession remains too level. The synths are often mesmerizing, like the use in atmospheric black metal. Another point of enjoyment as the guttural vocals grate low and dry. The tunes ‘The Whithering part I & II’ both sound like a lamenting dirge, crawling towards their end for a good fourty minutes of sheer force and magnitude.
A spectacular record and effort by the Georgian duo.
Label: Burning World (originally Profound Lore) Band: The Angelic Process Origin: United States
The Angelic Process is an oddity in the drone doom landscape, with little similarity to the names that must spring to mind right now (Khanate, Earth and the mighty Sunn O))) for example). Their record ‘Weighing Souls With Sand’ is not a new one, and actually was released in 2007. Since James Plotkin remastered it for release by Burning World, we’d better check it out.
The Angelic Process only ever released two records and consisted of two members, namely Kris Angylus and Monica Henson. The suicide by Angylus put an end to the activities of the band, but their legacy is vast with a sound that can hardly be emulated as it veers somewhere between the densest postrock, shoegaze, and doom.
The slow emergence of the sun is the thing most akin to the way ‘The Promise of Snakes’ comes in. The densely compressed synths fill any sort of open space you may imagine with a sonic mist. As the song unfolds, the contrast between the ascending melody and distorted rhythms, crackling with condensed force, couldn’t be greater. The vocals and drums seem to be battling against this tide on tracks like ‘The Resonance of Goodbye’. That is possibly why they hit you so hard as a listener.
A track like ‘We All Die Laughing’ sucks the life out of you completely. The full on screams hit like a hail storm amidst the torrentuous guitars. Every particle hitting you with an icy cold, a fatalistic streak, and deep, deep sorrow. It’s remarkable how hard it is to describe the music of The Angelic Process, yet it evokes such clear imagery. It’s the same trapped, muffled feeling that you get when you feel at your worst. The oscillating opening for example, on ‘How to Build a Time Machine’ is like a sonic bath, making you feel peaceful and tranquil. Allowing yourself to submerge in it.
Though the history of the record is a sad one, it’s beauty and splendor is undeniable.
South-America is in these times identified with the European or Western cultural sphere. Yet, tradition and history runs deep in the Andes. None know this better than YanaRaymi from Peru.
Blending folk and metal, the band breathes life into a past that is buried and forgotten by many. The band has been active for years, they’ve recently dropped a new album that tells the stories of the Andean past.
Luckily, I was able to get an interview, in which we discussed their history, the history of their region and music. Of course also the connection with Indoraza. Jhon Castro Cancho was kind enough to answer my questions and some interesting facts came up!
Ancient spirit of the Andes
Could you start by introducing yourselves and your musical background? Do you have any other bands you are currently active in?
My name is Jhon Castro, I am the founder guitarist of YanaRaymi. Peruvian band of Pagan Folk Metal. The band is composed by Luis Sarapura on drums. Jim Castro Bass and Voice, Evit Ordonez in the native instruments of winds and my person in the guitar. I currently play only in Yana Raymi .
How did the band get started and did you meet up?
The band began in the year 2004, in the city of Huancayo. The bassist, who is my brother, had been playing in a hard rock band named Indoraza and I had participated in Ccarccaria thrash death metal band. I joined them for a while and from there we decided to start the project that I had in mind. The idea was to make folk with a solid base in the traditional metal. After overcoming the lack of a drummer and getting a stable formation, Yana Raymi was born.
What sort of bands inspire you and are the basis for the sound of Yana Raymi?
Different bands. Bands like Sepultura (Old ), Sarcofago, Hadez, Kranium, Candlemass, Amon Amarth,Amorphis, and many more bands. As well as bands of South American Folklore, like Kjarkas, SaviaAndina and others. At the time of writing we have never limited our horizons, nor have we typecast the band in a single style.
Which would you say is the core message behind Yana Raymi. As in, what do you want people to take away from your music?
The central message is to revalue our customs, legends and Andean Cosmovision, Peruvian through the extreme art of metal. We want to transmit to the people, through our musical style, all the heroism and glories of our past. Recreating in each song, battles, sacrifices, pagan rituals and worship of our ancient gods.
Can you share a bit about the Peruvian mythology, what is it like, what stories and aspects do you take from it and how do you put this in your music?
Peruvian mythology is based on the Incan empire, which reached its splendor with the brutal subjugation of other cultures in our territory. The worship of the Sun, Moon, and Mother Earth, among others, was the main feature. This Empire was ruled by the Inca, who was a direct descendant of the sun. This theme is included in our music through the lyrics.
Can you tell me a bit about how you go about making your music? Is it a cooperative process, or does every band member have his own part to play?
I make the base of all the songs, we work the lyrics together with my brother, and the other arrangements are made with the other members of the band already in the rehearsal room. We want all the members of the band to feel satisfied with the final result of a song.
As I understand it, your band has a connection to Indoraza. Do you feel you are bands in a similar mind or do you feel Yana Raymi is completely different?
The connection with Indoraza dates from the year 2002 – 03, which is when we played there. The sound evolved and Yana Raymi was born. Indoraza continued his path inside the Hard rock. The musical style is different, but in thematic, there is a certain similarity since both bands seek the revalue of certain customs. They in a more current way and we oriented to the pre-Hispanic era.
Recently, you released your latest record, which was named ‘Yana Allqo’. What can you tell about the record, the process of writing and what inspired it? What is the figure we see on the cover?
Yana Allqo ( Black Dog ) is a thematic disc that narrates the confrontation of the Inca army with the guardians of the Wanka Culture, this was located in the region that we currently inhabit (Center of Peru). These guardians were giant dogs that were invoked by the god Wallallo Carhuancho . for the defense of Wanka Valley. The figure we see on the cover is a Yana Allqo or black dog, around whom the theme of the album revolves.
Some of the songs seem to contain traditional elements and language. Can you share a bit about that and why you’ve chosen to make this part of your music and how you implement it during the creative process?
We chose to do this because it complements the theme we address. The traditional wind instruments give us a favorable environment for what we want to transmit. With regard to the language used is basically Spanish, with some Quechua terms that is the native language of our country.
What sort of scene is there in Peru and how big is it? Which bands brought the genre to your country?
The scene in my country is relatively small, but with very good bands, and with people who bet big for the future of Peruvian metal. Currently, the “Lima Metal Fest” festival, that brings together bands with a worldwide career, is being held. There are emblematic bands like Mortem, Hadez, AnalVomit, Kranium among others. The style we practice that is a South American Folk Metal that was born in our country since the first record we have by the band Kranium, which began to capture this style in the mid 90’s.
What sort of attitude do people have towards your music? Is it frowned upon, censored in any way or so?
In the beginning, it was complicated, being a different style we did not receive support, we had to leave our city to start playing live. The cities that supported us initially was Ayaviri, Juliaca, in the south of our country and cities across the country of Bolivia where we went for the first time in 2007. Today things are different, the band achieved some consideration within the Peruvian scene.
South America has a thriving metal scene, but I wonder how much interaction you have with bands from abroad How important are the cross-border connections for you? Are there countries with whom you don’t really connect?
The South American metal has a very marked sound within the extreme style of which we are very proud. We keep in touch with almost every country in South America. Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, they are countries where we maintain a friendly relationship with bands and bangers that like Yana Raymi. But we have a very special connection with Bolivia, a country that we have played twice in 2007 and 2011, and in which we have been very well received, and at present, we are in the process of returning. If we have not connected with some countries or we have lost contact, it is basically due to the language.
How’s the availability of everything, like rehearsal space, instruments, music, venues to play at and so forth?
We have our own instruments and rehearsal room. The places to play are small, and the concerts in my city are rare. Usually, we leave our city to play.
Which bands from Peru should people definitely check out and why?
All the bands in Peru deserve special consideration for the effort that demands to make metal in my country. The bands that should be known are Mortem, Hadez , Kranium , Necropsya , GraveDesecration, Tunjum, AnalVomit, Putrid, Nahual, Chaska, Deicidios, Psicorragía, Darken. They are really good groups with a distinctly South American spirit.
What future plans do you guys have?
This year play as much as you can, and the next start with the production of a new album.
If you had to compare Yana Raymi to a dish, what would it be and why?
We would be Panchamanca, which is an ancestral dish that is being made to this very day.
Thanks for the consideration and support. A hug from Peru. Cradle of the glorious Inca Empire
Label: The Flenser Band: Bosse-de-Nage Origin: United States
Taking their name from an Alfred Jarry novel, Bosse-de-Nage is a group that follows along in the wake of renewers for one of the most conservative music styles in the galaxy. Their new album ‘Further Still’ does retain a pretty recognizable sound and hardly does harm to black metal’s integrity. Others will say different.
The previous record ‘All Fours’ had a bit of a dadaist cover and literature references are hidden in plain sight with the Californian band. Blending a feisty bit of hardcore into their sound, this is a continuous show of force by the band, who clearly know how to play a tune on their third record.
The wave of riffing is like a sudden gale of wind you have to work against as listener, but as soon as you find its harmony you are set. The music contains a mellow melody, woven through all aspects of their sound. Yet, notable are the barked, hardcore-style vocals by Bryan Manning. It’s as in a flash that ‘The Trench’ and ‘Down Here’ surge past you with their fury and despair in delivery, but it’s some tight stuff too! Certainly, the cleanliness still fits the blackgaze label, but an artistic vibe molds it to a more clean-cut black metal vibe.
The production is spotless, creating that harmonious flow in the sound with a bit of that driven postrock effect on a tune like ‘Crux’ (check the intro). The most grabbing thing about Bosse-de-Nage is the level of emotion in the music. Combining in your face vocals with blackgazy guitars works like a charm on this fascinating album. Perhaps it’s singularity becomes a bit of a grey unity in its completion, but that just depends on your attention span. Anyways, when you reach ‘A Faraway Place’, a fiery blast hits you with full energy and vitality. This is where we have a full taste of what this band can offer, which might be more forceful than the Deafheavens of this world, leaning to Harakiri for the Sky.
‘War, war never changes…’ But it did, and particularly in 1914, it showed that advanced technology and ancient battle tactics can combine into a horrible cocktail of death and decay. That is the theme taken by the band 1914 from Ukraine.
Their live shows are a spectacle, somewhere between re-enactment and death metal extravaganza. Their latest album, after a long time fighting to get their own sound heard, here is ‘The Blind Leading The Blind’. A work that tells of the folly that is war and the horrible situations it created, This definitely get the sound noticed, which is something I’m very happy about. The band takes their sound further though, and the fascination with World War I goes much, much further. You can re-read the interview I had with singer Dmytro Kumar about that here.
The blood-soaked fields and trenches
1914 delivers a firm death metal masterpiece with a sense of melancholy and despair woven into the very fabric of the songs. Repetitive riffing, stomping rhythms and firing on all cylinders, the band marches on and on with tunes like ‘Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne’ and ‘High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell’. Every song adhering to the theme, as cavalrymen swing their swords while galloping towards machine guns. Mighty tanks getting bogged down in the mud… It’s a blind dash for death. The only spark of hope is in the Exploited cover, ‘Beat the Bastards’, as a sense of rebellion emerges, but it soon submerges as the war continues.
Obviously, there’s a link to be made here to the mighty BoltThrower. No wonder then, that on ‘Passchenhell’ we have Dave Ingram (also Benediction of course) singing along with the Ukranian battalion. But perhaps my favorite track on the album is ‘The Hundred Days Offensive’, which derives, like much of the album, a lot of force from the introducing sample. Here we hear a soldier talking to the man he just killed. “When you jumped in here you were my enemy, I was afraid. But you were just a man like me, and I killed you.” It’s here that we feel so deeply the disgust of the human tragedy, which we failed to learn any lessons from.
Musically, the album is versatile and very catchy. From fierce, pounding death metal, to harrowing melodic passages. 1914 has everything and more to offer. No wonder they just got signed to Napalm Records.