Sounds of the Underground #12

The first Sounds of the Underground of 2015 and the section of my blog seems to gather some attention. Thank you for this. For this edition I checked out The Glitch Mob, Cruachan, The Hyle  and Chthonic.

The Glitch Mob – Love Death Immortality 

Source: gemm.com

So it would appear I like a lot of metal and truly, it is the main thing I listen to these days. I have a huge weakness however for the Glitch Mob. I like electronic music that is heavy on the bass, layered and telling a story in itself. The debut of this group from 2010 was quite amazing and captivating. It had that same mystery I find in postrock and some black metal. On their 2014 release the band takes a different approach.

The feel of the sound is much more dance-oriëntated, high on energy and with a faster pace. Fleet footed and lightweight would also be terms, but they might feel a bit negative. Songs like ‘Skytoucher’ still captivate the feeling I loved so much on their debut, but in general the album is more directed at selling and being something the kids can dance to. Not sure if that’s a good thing, for me ‘Drink The Sea’ will remain the favorite and I’ll check in with these guys again when a new record comes around. Though their ‘glitch’ may be less attractive to me, the group still makes brilliant music. Don’t take me wrong on that.

Chthonic – Bù-Tik (武德) 

Source: Metal Archives

Since the album that is released on 29 december is a full acoustic one, I thought it fun to look back at the previous release of Taiwanese melodic death metal giants Chthonic. The band plays with folk elements and structures in a complex sort of work, that relates closely to the atmosphere of black metal in my opinion. The hectic sound is typical in most Asian metal bands I’ve heard, also the clean sound and the polished production. The band manages an accesible sound, while retaining their identity.

The narrative is that of the foundation of what became Taiwan, told in the native tongue. That shouldn’t prevent you from listening to it. The beauty of this record is it’s way of sounding like a metal band in a clear cut manner, but implementing the narrative of Taiwan by using folk elements and mythology to create distinctness. Anyone hearing this will look up in surprise to check what it is they’re listening to, but still feel it relates to them. Though the sound is rooted in the more extreme styles, the grandeur of power metal is definitely present int he riffing and huge arches of vocals and synths. It doesn’t surprise me that Spinefarm signed them. The acoustic album that is coming out is promising to be another revelation and a rare insight for many metalheads in Asian traditional music.

The Hyle – Demo 

Source: bandcamp The Hyle

The Danish band has a wonderful sound that combines doom with  a stadium rock-like swagger, without losing any of their credibility. This demo was not without reason so well liked by Cvlt Nation out of what they picked up this year. The slow, foreboding sound of ‘Lucifero’ sounds weary and whispers a certain despair. The clean vocals are warm and caring, but hollow somehow. Slowly the song runs its course, untill twangy bass sounds support samples and harrowing riffs continue the brooding sound onto the ritualistic sounding ‘Serpent King’. I feel a bit reminded of Electric Wizard meeting up with Witchcraft when listening to this record.

The second half of the record opens very slowly with ´Spiritual Sacrifice´. The spun-out track wavers on for a couple of minutes, when silence descends. The final song is ‘Children Of The Divine’, which is also a dark tune with the sense of ritual and pagan magic to it. The band creates a sound that feels like retro, but also distinctly now. The record is captivating and if these Danes call this a demo, I’m eager to hear the debut.

Cruachan – Blood For The Blood God

Source: Metal Archivers

The Irish folk metal band Cruachan is pretty much one of the first of its kind. This year I saw them play live, finally, at the Eindhoven Metal Meeting and experienced a lot of their new songs. The work seems raw, honest and direct, but also a bit amateuristic sometimes and a little odd. The vocals of Keith Fay are very peculiar and the man is simply not the most talented singer. Still, the blend of folkish traditionals and raging metal works quite well for the group that has released it’s seventh album on Trolzorn records. The song ‘Born For War’ is representative for the epic sound and feeling this band wants to invoke.

Noteworthy is the song about ‘Beren And Luthien’, which departs from the Irish mythology and picks up a little Tolkien along the way. The band seems to have two gears, of which one is a slow, melancholic pace and the other the frantic one-two-one-two primitive death metal roll. Both are implemented in different ways, but it tells the listener a bit about this band. Cruachan feels like a band on form, enjoying what they do once more, but also stuck in thier own sound. Change is a difficult thing and this record doesn’t sound in any of it. One could argue that this is the reason the whole folk metal movement passed the Irish group by. I don’t know, perhaps they are comfortable in their own little niche. Songs like ‘Gae Bolga’ and ‘The Arrival of the Fir Bolg’ are both well constructed and atmospheric and display the strenght of Cruachan. I worry that they will remain an anachronism in a genre that moved far beyond the primitive sound of this group.

Je Suis Charlie

Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.

– Jonathan Swift

Another day that shocks the world. The assault in France on the Charlie Hebdo office was all over the news today and understandably. Another attack in the heart of Europe. The comparisons with Utoya where soon made ofcourse. After having just read the book of Asne Seierstad on Breivik, the events hit me hard.

In fact, I just received an e-mail from Asne Seierstad, who I wrote to thank her for the book, when I picked up the news on TV. Men shooting and shouting things in what seems Arabic? Hard to say, I don’t know these languages very well. The acts are like a shard of ice in the heart though.

A police officer is gunned down with what seem to be assault rifles. He is on the ground, writhing in pain. When one of the shooters approaches him in a rapid stride, he shouts something to the man and holds up his hand in a gesture of futile defence. Without even slowing down the gun is raised on the run and the officer is shot in his head. Another dead to avange the prophet Muhammed, who was mocked in a cartoon by the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Source: Daily Mail (see for source) ‘Editor Charb holding up the last edition’

The magazine had actually been assaulted before, which only made the resolve stronger of the editors to say what they felt they should say in the voice of satire.  Excersising one of the basic rights that we value so dearly in the western world. Sure, they went pretty far and we know that the muslim community (pardon the generalization) is not too understanding of what satire actually is. Still, you don’t see this coming. Or did we? It clearly hurts, regarding the massive respons to the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie.

The officer was shot in the head for a drawing, for a funny drawing of the prophet of Islam. So where 11 other people, amont them editor Charb and other well known writers for the magazine. Why? To avenge their God, apparently. “We have avenged our prophet!”. Now, I’m familiar with the bible and I’m told the Quoran has similarities. If there is a God, which I’ll gladly leave to everyone to decide for themselves (this is also a right), then God is in the view of these religions an omnipotent God.

If God is omnipotent, then I think he can avenge himself pretty easily on this puny human cartoonist. If God is omnipotent and vengeful, he knows what to do about it. This is after all the God that drowned everyone, so he knows how to do some ‘avenging’. God does not need anyone to do his avenging for him, which is the actual core message to take from all those holy books. You know what God can’t do? Make you love another, feel pity for another and make you forgive. That is the only thing he (again, hypothetically) can’t do for you.

Source: Circulation twitter/MSNBC

I find myself thinking that the sword needs to be fought with the sword sometimes. It’s hard to see any good in this world as it is. I feel so sorry for the people left behind after these murders, so sorry for the families and children, friends and all around them who now face these holes. I also pity the gunmen, whose hearts are filled with hate. A hate I doubt they understand.

I hope in time they’ll find forgivenes, that we find forgivenes, because hate only feeds hate. That we find enough compassion to grant everyone the freedom to speak, believe and do what they will.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.  – Voltaire (attributed)

Source: circulation internet
Source: circulatin internet

A brief look at Dropon

I’ve been trying out this new piece of social media, named Dropon, and I’d like to discuss my findings here in a brief way. If you like to follow me on Dropon, go ahead.

source: Dropon
source: Dropon

Dropon’s USP: Privacy

The big advantage of DropOn is one you don’t see as an end user, but has everything to do with why people hate facebook: Privacy. Dropon claims to encrypt, protect, NOT share and give you total control of your privacy (read it here).

So what does Dropon do?

Basically twitter with more words

Source: Dropon - The menu  sidebar
Source: Dropon – The menu sidebar

The thing is that Dropon actually works a lot like twitter. You follow people, people follow you. You have a timeline and use ‘drops’ instead of ‘hashtags’.

What it has in favor of twitter is a very spread out, calm look. Twitter is not a calm medium to look at, it’s high traffic is rather overwhelming in fact. Here you see the sidebar that Dropon offers. It looks cool and calm and you know all of these things already. Dropon in that sense is not aimed at a target group that has not been on social media yet, it’s the same old stuff really.

It works a bit like … well, Twitter and Facebook

The way it works is pretty similar to the media you know, just the names are different. You can do something with the way the font appears, which is cool and lacking in the traditional channels. Source: Dropon - the posts.

Source: Dropon – the post

The most interesting thing is the settings Dropon offers. Your profile is not something you can manage and customise that much, but it offers an open field option, which is cool. The thing Dropon does best is offer a very clean and clear menu structure, specially when it comes to privacy. Something different, compared to the dense, complex and hidden settings of facebook. Compliments for that. It also looks like it will work very well on a tablet or smartphone, but an app is not yet available.

Hello? … is there anybody out there?

The biggest downside of Dropon at this moment is that it copies twitter when it comes to finding followers and people to follow. Sure, you can easily look for ‘drops’ to follow (like ‘Marketing’ or soon I would imagine ‘Sexybabes’), but finding people you know is quite hard. Hence the call from users on twitter for followers. Dropon offers no way to look for contacts, something that even Linkedin offers (and twitter). It also lacks the option for groups that facebook has.

Conclusion

If you are one of the people that has big issues with privacy of other social media (and rightly so!), then Dropon might be a place for you. Currently it seems to be a bit of a ghost town and questions have been raised on how the makers plan to make some money out of it. I expect very little of Dropon and due to its redundant functions, it appears to be the next social media ghost town.

New Years Resolutions

I have been ill for more than a month. I have not been to the gym, didn’t follow my diet and probably gained some weight. I’m not much for the idealistic new years resolutions, but I’ve decided that I need to restart my routine and go a bit further in following up my own goals.  So here goes, my new years resolution. Believe me when I say this is the firs time I actually decide to have those.

1. Clean Eating 2.0

I started eating paleo in januari 2013. One day I just started doing it and I decided that this was something I could believe in and follow up. I’ve written about this before, but here is the Nerd Fitness guide that inspired me to pick up this diet. What it essentially means is that I stop eating everything that is delivered to my door, that is pre-made and what contains potatoes, grains and legumes. Also you need to avoid anything that is high in sugars, which you don’t need. Well, sugar in itself is something to avoid. This doesn’t mean you can’t have good food though. Also, I used to have one cheat day a week, that will be reduced to ‘one meal’. That will be pretty hard, butI’ve noticed that complete avoidance is pretty much impossible + when you suddenly can’t avoid it your body respons very badly to it. So having a minimal intake gives the body the right kinda shock.

Yes, I’ve read all the ‘debunking the paleo diet’ things too, and I think its sad. Obviously a diet alone is not enough, paleo alone does not make you a model, nor will it work for everyone. It does for me though, I have less stomach issues and drowsy headaches. Always keep your values in check though and don’t hesitate to drop some vitamines.

2. Gym 2.0

Source: Pinterest (Source unknown)

I’ve been going to the gym for years, but only last year I started noticing change. I felt much better, fitter and healthier due to my more intense schedules and determination in the activity. Due to illness and exhaustion, I did not do that much in the past month and I feel it in every fibre of my body. My goal is to increase muscle tissue this year and be able to lift, press, deadlift and squat certain weights. It’s all around 50.. I don’t need to get bulky, I just want to be strong and fit and that seems like a great goal for 2015.

Today I went to the gym for the first time in a long while again and it felt great. I feel motivated and just good about having gone there.

3. Synergy in the Relationship

Source: Bored Panda.com

I hope to reach a new level in the way my relationship works. We work well together, but I want to achieve what I considere synergie. Work together and support eachother on our life goals and understand and feel what matters to eachother. No matter how you translate synergie, it requires commitment that I am willing to put into it. I hope to find ways to improve it even further this year.

I’ve learned in the past year that relationships usually give you back what you put in to them. If you want to work on it, go for it and do your best first, rewards will come laterin the form of returned favours. If you don’t want to make the effort, neither will your partner.

4. Travel 

Source: Essential Travel

I love travelling and seeing new places and this year I hope to add some countries to my list. One is already planned, which is a visit to Greece. If summer holidays fall through for some reason, then I hope to visit Malta too. In that case I also hope to make plans for the future and see some other locations . The Balkan is currently a destination that is much favored,but so is Iceland, Norway (Scandinavia) and Portugal. I’m a firm believer that travel is something that improves you and allows you to grow as a person. If not that, then travelling with only your minimum stuff takes away so much of the normal stress, its amazing. Travel is difficult sometimes, but doing it always feels super rewarding.

5. Write more and try some more beers 

Source: puretravel.com

As you might know, I’m quite excited about my blog, but I have been struggling to find a routine to it and a way to write that speaks to everyone. I hope to write more and better stuff this year and make you keep on coming back. Thanks for checking it out anyways.

I also hope to keep on keeping track of the beers I’ve tried on Untapped and never drink the same beer twice. That’s a serious commitment, since I hope to find more remarkable tastes. Yes, it is not quite in line with my previous resolutions. Still, one needs to relax now and then, so why not combine that with discovery?

If you want to help me, that’d be most welcome. How? Simply let me know where you are going and if you want to take something home for me. I’ll just pay you back.

So there goes, my resolutions. They’re more targets I guess, goals and things I want to do and focus on. I also want to read much more books. Let’s make this a good year with lots of progress! What will you try to achieve this year?

 

Melechesh Interview

A long time ago I did an interview with the band Melechesh. The group was originally from Israel, moved to Amsterdam in the Netherlands later for its political freedom, a bit like the golden age of philosophy.  The band deals thematically with Assyrian and Armenian mythology.  Add to that some Mizrahi rock and there you go: unique metal. This is the interview I did with Ashmedi, main man of the band, in 2010.

Could you kindly tell us who you are and where you come from (musicwise as well as lifewise)?

I come from Jerusalem  my family are Armenian/Assyrian. Musically I come from the rock and metal background but I listen to any and every type of music as long as it is well done . Life wise I am a cosmopolitan who lived around the world and now settled  in this nice , tidy and quiet  corner.

You’ve moved the band from Israel to Amsterdam/France, how was that decision made and what were the reasons you had to move?

Well the reasons were several, many demographical and socio political reaons. Also we wanted to progress our music.  The member who was in France is now doing his PHD in USA so he flies often here to writing sessions and rehearsals.  Coming to Amsterdam was a coincidence actually , I was on my way to USA when my x bassplayer who was living here said Amsterdam got English language Universities, I thought ok its closer to Jerusalem .

 Theres a mix of nationalities in the band, how does this influence your writing and creating process?

Well and it does not change our writing process. Though we got to learn that you should not make music at any cost like we used to believe in and was the way we work,  but rather pay attention to personal convenience which comes first here. In Jerusalem there are many different people from all over the word , same as with Los Angeles where I lived as well so always managed well in cosmopolitan places.

source: ROAR E-zine
source: ROAR E-zine

Is there a political element to your music, and if so what is it? What were the comments when you released the ‘As Jerusalem Burns… Al’Intisar’?

NO , the middle east is much more than politics, it is a place were civilizations were born. We focus on this beyond the mundane but tragic drama . Politics are merely the art of lying and rationalizing human deaths. We don’t play that game, and we say our politics are simple we count the dead and we think everyone deserves to live in dignity. Can you imagine an entire region with many countries billions of people thousands of years of continuous civilizations is categorized by one cliché.  We are critical and know what is going on there but we do not drag the mystical and spiritual artistic creation known as Melechesh in this.

When As Jerusalem Burns …Al Intisiar  (by the way the title is meant metaphorically, as we love our home town ) was released well hell broke loose J we survived it. There many critical of us but in the end we make music with spiritual and mystical context so we did not hurt anyone. ( maybe the righteous can learn for this ). But such things made us appreciate making music and we are grateful to where we have reached today

Could you tell us what Mesopotamian Metal is, what it envelops and what it is you tell about? Obviously for us it’s a very strange and unknown world.

The style of music is already popular in the metal underground and there are several young bands adapting to it which is really cool. But for the readers Roarezine of let me elaborate more on this.  When I started Melechesh the philosophy behind the music was to create not re-create.  So we tried inventing the Middle eastern sound of Black/thrash metal.  Which encompass hard rock and heavy metal as well but with an ethnic twist when it comes to guitar riffs and picking as well as at time, Middle eastern drum patterns.  Lyrically  we deal with Mesopotamian mythology near eastern mysticism .

 Musically who are your influences, metalwise as well as traditional music wise?

I grew up on rock music at home  with time I was drown into heavy metal and punk and got into various types of bands. As a musicians we are shaped by diverse music intentionally or unintentionally. From Metal music , I like the classics black sabbath, led zeppelin, rainbow also Mercyful fate some Metallica , Slayer , Bathory it is hard you know ! traditional musicians I am very much into Persian Indian cross over like Ghazal, Indian ragas , sufi music .

Your new album, The Epigenesis, is almost out. Can you tell us about the process and the record?

The album took a long time to write , almost three times to record. Its is a long album with diverse moods , from a 3 minute song to a 12 minute song.  We decided to break the mold and we flew to Istanbul to record the album. Many here were surprised but the outcome spoke for itself . Istanbul was a unique experience and very inspiring one.  The city is very inspiring for musicians, it is great for night life and culture, and very Metal. So many metal bars out there its crazy.

Everything worked out perfectly it was almost uncanny like how come every step every decision was fitting in like a piece of puzzle , it was quite mystical . It was also very practical to be there, as people were helpful no 9-5 mentality we did put in 16 hrs a day . Also the little things you know you want to order a meal at 3 AM while still recording , its possible. You can even order you wine and whisky at those hours. The little things helped keep the vibe positive. The weather was good too.

How has your work been received in Europe this far?

Well previous works always well received,  we got fans across the globe, positive record sales and the fact most labels offered us a record deal  was very  humbling and a good sign.  As for the new album the general press media is good.  Topped various critics lists, several cover stories I cant ask for more and we are grateful for this.

Source: Wikipedia

Did starting a black metal band in Israel spawn a lot of followers? Are there other metal bands from the Middle-East that you would recommend?

You need to be able to differentiate the various parts of Israel. The fact that it was in Jerusalem was the issue.  AT first people wanted black metal bands from Scandinavia , if the band was from there the fans show the horse teeth with unconditional smiles and frown on bands that had to fight to make music. But this changed. A lot of hard work development of a type of music eventually paid off.  We had followers there, but our larger fan base is in USA and Europe.  There are several talented bands in the middle east they work hard some even were jailed for doing the music they are passionate about.  For sheer brutality check out Keaton, for Melodic doom check out Bilocate. There is a cool rock band called Khalas and so on.

Are there any bands that you would compare yourself to?

Blof (a rather cliché Dutch rockband, GS)

What influence does living in Israel have on your music and on your life and  views?

Some people fight to have a decent life and when they get it they appreciate every second. Some have it all served on a silver platter and deep inside they are very unhappy. This is one thing I learned.  I also learned how racist humans are. I personally believe in one race. Human race. And thankfully I am very color blind.

Where do you see Melechesh going in the future?

I don’t know really, just challenge ourselves and make credible music.

 Are there anything you’d like to tell our readers, that they should know about your band?

Doe het normal is a bad thing for music and art but  a good thing for accounting.

What Album should we start with?

The Epigenisis for sure not because it is the new one but because it represent us now and it has several moods.

If Melechesh would be some kind of food, what food would it be?

A healthy salad which has flavor ! and considered as soul and brain food.

The Reading of Books #5

A new series of books I’ve been reading. H.P Lovecraft, St. Augustine, Richard A. Knaak and E.M. Cioran. Horror, pessimism, religion and World of Warcraft in one blogpost!

H.P. Lovecraft – The Haunter in the Dark (Collected Stories – Volume Three)

Source: Wordsworth-editions.co.uk

Once you get captivated by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, you probably will be hooked for life. I’ve been reading them since I was sixteen and last year I purchased this collection, which features some stories I had not read yet and some I was willing to re-read. The collection has some of the rich and haunting New-England stories, with vague references to witchcraft and deeper mysteries, which all find themselves rounding up in the dream stories of ‘The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath’.

The cosmic proportions of these stories are magnificent and wonderful for those readers open to it. Ofcourse, it is in the end fantastic fiction, but the creative process behind the work of Lovecraft and the creations he wrought. Wordworth has tried to connect the stories in these collections, making it easier for the reader to make sense of them and relate the texts to eachother. One could argue that the intertextual carreer of characters like Randolph Carter should be discovered instead of presented by the publisher. Thanks to digital collections, the real explorer of Lovecraft can still find his or her own way. No matter how well put together, it takes away a bit for those who want to drift through the pages.

E.M.  Cioran – A Short History of Decay

Source: Amazon

Apparently the mother of Romanian philosopher Emile Cioran told him, that if she had known he’d be so unhappy, she would have gotten an abortion. If there’s anyway to introduce his work, that fact does it. The philosophy of pessimism is not the most cheery material to read, and this collection of short essays (ranging from half a page to two/three pages) is definitely not a page turner. The short, condensed passages contain nuggets of wisdom and insight on the futility of life, suicide, sin and nihilism.

Cioran used themes like that life is arbitrary, or the idea that live is inconvenient. Born in Romania, while it was occupied by Austria-Hungary, he searched for meaning pretty much most of his life, embracing nationalism as well as nihilism. His short writings are powerful and also inspiring in strange ways. Pessimists may seem drole and, well …, generally pessimistic, there is also a lot of wit and black humor in it. Cioran must have embraced his pessimism when he wrote this work, since it’s filled with witty remarks of one who has no hope.

Richard A. Knaak – Stormrage

Source: Wowwiki.com

Blizzard is an amazing company when it comes to making video games. The strenght of their flagship game World of Warcraft is not its revolutionairy visuals (not anymore atleast) but its emphasis on strong narrative and continuation. The player is part of a history that develops and fully grows on many levels. The company also invests in that in other media than the digital, releasing books to fill in certain elements of the storylines. Stormrage is one of those, filling the bap between the narratives of ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ and ‘Cataclysm’ (two expansions to the game).

The story is that of night elf Arch Druid Malfurion Stormrage and the people around him. Stormrage had been missing, ever since the start of the World of Warcraft narrative lines and cataclysm finally brought him back into action. In Cataclysm the core world was reshaped and the events in this book lead up to those and explain the sudden ravaged world players enter in that version of the game (which relaunched the whole core world). The story is a bit stretched in some parts and not always as easy to follow. Still Richard A. Knaak always manages to capture the spirit of WoW very well and gives a whole lot of new, exciting questions in this work. It also connects with the ‘War of the Ancients’ story arch.

St. Augustine – Confessions of a sinner 

Source: Amazon

I was rather exciteds about reading St. Augustine, but I was let down quite a bit to be honest. This book is only part of a greater body of work, where Augustine is confessing his sins and describing his life to his deity. The work is a confession of his sinful life, before he became the later St. Augustine. The pages are filled with a dialogue he tries to have with God.

Though this book from the Penguin ideas series is full of touching and beautiful writings, I did not enjoy it too much. The devout way of writing of St. Augustine offered little of the wisdom he is revered for. This does show the man behind the wisdom though, his fallacies and insecurities. It makes him human and that is why this is worth reading.

Sounds of the Underground #11

Once more I’ve tried to pick out some new interesting records from the underground to inform you of what is out there. This time I’ve got for you Sea WitchDrudkh, Laster and Frown.

Sea Witch – As Above (demo 1)

Source: Bandcamp Sea Witch

I like the band name Sea Witch. It immediately feels like one can easily get into the greatest depths  of doom. The bottomless sea and its many mysteries forms a great basis for  a band that plays the clean and deep sound of the abyss, like Sea Witch does. The band from Nova Scotia incorporates atmospheric black metal, drone and a pinch of folk into their ‘nautical doom’. Inspiration obviously comes from the sea. There’s also a video released recently.

The full demo can be listened to on their bandcamp and is part of a series of two, the second titled ‘…So Below’ (like you didn’t see that one coming). The element ‘nautical’ is fairly important here, since it inspires the distinct sound the band demonstrates. There’s a threatening element to the sound, something looming in the dark. The slow sound is clear but full of reverberation. The listener loses sense of up or down on ‘The Atlantic’. Or the slow and atmospheric ‘Out Of The Depths’. It’s a haunting and wonderful experience, to get submerged in their music. 

Source: Metal Archives

Drudkh – Eastern Frontiers On Fire

Drudkh from Ukraine has never shied away from  a little provocation in their words and titles. Obviously, the dangerous NSBM tag has been mentioned in relation to the band. This record is a collection of songs from the EP’s ‘Anti Urban’ and ‘Slavonic Chronicles’ and their work released on the split the band did with Winterfylleth “Thousands of Moons Ago / The Gates”.  Slow mesmerizing black metal opens on ‘Fallen Into Oblivion’, followed by the jangling ‘Ashes’. The tracks feel grey and dry.

The tracks ‘Tam gdzie gaśnie dzień… (Sacrilegium cover)’ and ‘Indiánská píseň hrůzy (Master’s Hammer cover)’ are more raw, but brought in an unmistakable Drudkh way.  The slow, cascading sound has an epic quality and atmosphere to it. The atmosphere is like the far lands of Ukraine on a dusty summer day.  What no one seems to wish to get into is the title of the compilation, which is a clear reference to the current situation. It is unclear to me why only the title and probably cover refer to this. That does however not diminish the beauty of the music that Drudkh shares us. It does serve as a reminder of the harsh place the origin of their sound has become.

Laster – Die Verste Verte Is Hier

Source: Metal Archives

The Utrecht atmospheric black metal band Laster has released their debut album with four tracks, seemingly lasting forever. Their slow and dense sounding tracks have little agression in them and focus mainly on a cold and thought provoking atmosphere. The lyrics are in Dutch and have a wonderfull poetic quality to them.

‘Tot de tocht ons verlicht’ is a torrent of sound, swirling around the listener who will get the feeling depicted on the cover of the album of falling down through this haze. The sudden clean singing marks a shift to more shoegaze-like atmospheres. There are some industrial elements towards the end of the track.  ‘Mijn Masker’ is much more furious and hectic, though maintaining the static, sonic layers of sound. Screams pierce the cloudy sound, creating an grim atmopshere of depressing and dark sound. The music ebbs away, giving room for gentle piano play which wraps up this intriguing track. ‘De Verste Verte Is Hier’ stands out with its gothic chanting and postpunk/shoegaze rhythm. Howling vocals and clean sounds mark those influences even more in what is the most dreamy song on this album. The impressive sound of Laster makes them clearly an intriguing band to take heed of.

Frown – The Greatest Gift To Give

Source: Frown bandcamp

Though I have to admit to finding the name Frown a bit awkward, the unique sound of this band was quite impressive and captivating. The raw and abbrasive vocal style is what stands out most.  After the prayer bells sound, the opening riffs of ‘Trial By Ordeal’ storm in with a kolossal strenght. The nasal and barked vocals of their singer reminds the listener of primitive black metal. The sound lacks the muddy, full sound of a sludgy doom band. It’s really the atmosphere that counts and the reverb in the guitar sound.

‘Harpocrates Unborn’ is a reference to the God of Silence of Greek mythology. The venomous dripping sounds that open up the track are a prelude to the gloomy sound that the guys produce.  A dark and mesmerizing descent into despair follows. Apparently it takes up more muscles to frown than you need to smile. That says something about the complexity the band looks for in their different and unique sound. The Australians blow distorted and gravelling guitar sounds through the thrudging doom of ‘Cold Gail That Blows My Lonely Grave’.  The slow and droning track is calm but full of this feeling that something wicked this way comes. ‘Offering’ closes the record with an almost ten minutes lasting drag that would not be amiss on a Sabbath album.

World of Warcraft is a feeling #1

Source: WIkipedia

In general people assume I’m a gamer, because of Warcraft. By that I mean, people that don’t know me very well. Sure thing, I play various games on our monthly game nights (we hold them with a small and variying group of friends)., but the amount of video games I’ve played is small. Sure, I had days where I would try various ones, but in general it was never much. There’s a few games I did play a lot and one of them, though the word ‘franchise’ might be better, has always had a special place in my heart.

I played video games since I had acces to a Commodore 64 and quickly had a love for the good old RPGs and such, but there was hardly any of that. It took some time for me to get to that. I also played on a Super Nintendo  and a Game Boy, so Lufia and Zelda are no strangers to me. It was the game I played at a friend one day though, that captured me. I was allowed to pick a game from the list and chose the one with the resounding name ‘Warcraft’.

We played for hours, not realizing our mission we started building an enormous expansive conglomoration of buildings over a couple of days. Suddenly other creatures started marching into the screen, which were Orcs. We fought the bravely with our confused mayhem of wizards, clerics and foot soldiers and victory was ours… if we ever figured out about that bridge we had to cross to get to the enemy.

Now, back in that time there was so much on the market when it came to games, so I never got my hands on Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. I only played it at the friends house, but I loved that game. I loved the Tolkienesque setting of humans and elves fighting Orcs (not sure about the elves, but for sake of argument). The game play felt innovative, new and challenging and I was captivated by this game.

The cinematics where impressive, there was a guy speaking about epic warfare between Orcs & Humans. I mean, there were cinematics! What was also really cool is the general atmosphere of seeing a map, a war room with two people on a table and hearing a story every quest. It totally added to the experience, which was quite new. Granted, if you look at videos of the game now on youtube it will be hard to imagine how captivated we were by it. I had been reading Tolkien already and it made a major impact on me, so this game was exactly there at the right moment.

Source: Battle Net

It took some time for it to re-emerge and become the game we played forever. More in a following chapter about my favorite game.

W00t Quest is the new Quest

After focussing on a vague type of quest for a while, I came to a realisation today: I had not typed w00t for any reason for like… forever. To go on a quest with my feelings felt silly suddenly, when I can go for the w00ts!

What does that mean? It means that you can level up your life by focussing on the good things, I think. I learned from Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness what the value is of treating your life like a game. I treat mine already a lot like World of Warcraft. I take challenges and quests, look for groups, trade and farm reputation with certain factions.

Source: Geekadelphia.com

What if I actually transfer these activities to life? I have no idea, but it worked for Steve, so it might work for me. So my first goals will involve reaching a new level in the gym, farming rep among colleagues and finishing some major quests this year.

So back to this w00t, why is it worth so much? It was the cry of joy when reaching goals in WoW in the past. When you defeated a major boss or got some major item and stuff. It signifies the sense of achievement I’ve been missing out on. It signifies purpose and meaning in a sense most people will find silly. It means a lot to me though.

So I declare the start of phase one of W00tQuest, the trial campaign.

Sounds of the Underground #10

Alright! I’ll take another look at what comes up from the underground with some of the best black metal releases I’ve listened to this year. VoicesPrimordial, Darkspace and
Ne Obliviscaris, some of the best, really!

Source: Metal Archives

Voices – London

To present the world with an album in the extreme metal genre ont he topic of the city of London is daring and at the same time peculiar. Where bands that linger in the sphere of black metal, usually go for occultish and otherworldly themes, the men from Voices pay homage to their great city. Featuring ex-members of My Dying Bride, Akercocke and Dark Veil, that is clearly a step away from what the gang used to make. The result is breath taking though.

The music is sometimes quiet, calm and melancholic piano parts and then again furious and rugged black metal that has the urban rage of Godflesh tucked inside it. Then again the riffs are hectic and frantic like Devin Townsend Project in a way. Nor does the band eschew some funky lines here and there. All in all, this album has so much to say and so much diversity to offer that I’m literally astonished by it. This is not the London of the postcards, but the metropole with all its gritty underground and hidden charm. What an amazing display of musical prowess.

Source: Metal Archives

Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen

It’s hard not to love Primordial. The Irish giants of black metal have never reached beyond their grasp, nor taken inspiration from the trodden paths and their new epic album is the latest proof of that. Biblical themes, heavy anthemic riffs and grandeur is a small bit of words to describe what the listner can expec to be bombarded with on this new album by the band around A.A. Nemtheanga. The soaring vocals of the frontman are what carries the true epic quality of this band.

Biblical themes are no strange phenomenon in the work of Primordial. Songs like ‘Babel’s Tower’ depict that in a iconclastic grandeur, where hopes crumble down in major melodic torrents of hefty guitar play. The apocalyptic foreboding and eventual fall that ‘Come The Flood’ predicts is even more powerful to behold. There’s the cold furious black metal, combined with haunting storytelling on ‘The Alchemists Head’ and creeping doom on ‘Ghosts of The Charnel House’. Still, this album might have too much of an accesibility for everyone to admire. Lovers of the sheer brutality some black metal has been displaying of late (check out that new Nihill album), will not be able to admire this new masterpiece.

One may also argue that the work of Alan Averill (aforementioned under his moniker) is letting a bit of Dread Sovereign and Twilight Of The Gods seep into this. I have no problems with that at all however, since it will only help the sound of Primordial to reach new depths and find new domains in which to shine.

Source: Metal Archives

Darkspace – Darkspace III I

Darkness… a concept so vast and impossible to grasp, that we give shape to it. To create creatures and elements of darkness makes it less frightning, tangible and less subliminal. So for a band to take the concept of the endless void as their topic, it makes their music something spectacular, specially when it comes to Darkspace. The band name came up in casual conversation and I was not familiar with the Swiss group. Switzerland does produce an amazing amount of spectacular bands and this one is definitely part of that. The latest record is one in roman numerals, like all their work.

What you get is a swirling mayhem of sonic space. Roaring vocals, arising from the depths of the void and industrial segments depicting the confusing last signals of life in space. The atmosphere is dark and cold, full of mystery and the listener gets sucked into the endless void immediately. Only three songs with a total time of over 70 minutes. This is quite the trip.

Source: Bandcamp Seasons of Mist

Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel

Holy shit! What the hell just hit my eardrums? It’s Australian bringers of mayhem Ne Obliviscaris. A mixture of jazz, avantgarde, thrash, death, black and all things extreme in one unholy package to bring you musical joy. This is one of the most impressive records you’ll hear this year and well worth your time.

Hectic, spiralling riffs emerge from the debts, where minimal drums overtake again. Violins wail and folkish melodies play before a new onslaught of brutallity arises.  Classical passages and emotional cascading riffs clash in what can only be the sonic expression of the deepest despair. Then again you are surprised by what seems like acoustic gypsy melodies, weeping violins and calm singing. The combination is beautiful.

The band reminds the listener of the likes of Therion at times with a bit of Celtic Frost and the orchestral sensitivities of Opeth. Still that doesn’t do justice to the band from Oz, maybe the previous record would count as a good addition to the mixture. Soaring clean vocals bring a calm over the frantic rhythms and wild cacophony that starts to emerge, but the swirling melody holds on to all its elements in the vast sound of this group.

This is the record everyone should hear for sure, just as the other three. What a set of brilliant releases. The Underground has plenty to offer once again.