Tag Archives: canada

Underground Sounds: Flešš – Frenzied Bloodlust Underneath A Black Moon

Label: Les Fleurs du Mal Productions
Band: Flešš
Origin: Canada

Vampiric metal is a very specific undercurrent within the black metal movement.The unholy blood drinking entities inspire groups like Flešš (pronounced flesh) to develop unique sounds that express the harrowing nature of these monsters. This leads to listening material that often is out of the ordinary. Truly unnatural.

Originating from Canada, this is is the second release from the mysterious raw black metal entity, that you’d best listen to at night. Nothing else I can tell you about the origin of the record, which I find rather unpleasantly mysterious.

The raspy nature of the opening riffs on ‘Frenzied Bloodlust Underneath A Black Moon’, the opening track of two songs on this album, are like the scraping of tombstones in the dark. Eerie keys and sound effects add to the uncanny feeling you’ll get listening to the opening of this tune. The guitars are gritty and distorted, concealing whatever it is that skulks in the shadows. And then it pounces, with thin battering riffs and unearthly wails, gasps and gibbering. It’s a frightening ordeal to listen to.

‘Vampyric Drain Through Hypnotic Force’ is a whole different story. A gloomy, hypnotic tune with barely any outbursts, but repetitive and slowly, but surely, reeling you into the maw of doom. Creepy and overwhelming, that really brings the whole thing back home to towering peaks and ancient castles in Transylvania… or maybe something less tangible, even more, slithering and always around us, hiding just in the dark.

Underground Sounds: Kurse – Tales of the Wizard

Label: Independent
Band: Kurse
Origin: Canada

In the Marvel Universe, Kurse is a dark elf, named Algrim the Strong, who becomes the champion of the dark elves in the overpowering armor of Kurse. You can see him in the Thor film, he’s quite bad-ass. It’s where the band Kurse takes the name from for their debut EP ‘Tales of the Wizard’.

The Québecois group is a newcomer to the doom/stoner scene. They’ve definitely has taken a good look at the more melodic bands in the genre, that focus more on the emotional sound. The threesome from Montréal has not got any particular band history to point to. Judging by this record, that is quite a surprise. The debut sounds stunningly good.

The opening of ‘Antagonism’ has the magical beauty and simple joy of an Opeth acoustic. That takes almost five minutes to be dispelled by one of those surging riffs that you just have to surf along on. The harsh vocals of Felix Pageau are a bit lower in the mix, but the sharpness of his bark really makes it break through the tide. By the time ‘The Giant’ kicks in, the band has a full-on groove going, with cascading mega guitars and that typical hazy sound.

It’s that psychy haze that really makes Kurse stand out. With the cover and band name, you expect the sort of cool, epic sound, but the band really goes into a more dreamy direction. Vision becomes blurry, as the drums just keep hitting and hitting. ‘Mythos’ really turns into a bass-heavy, gritty onslaught. Think of Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Ufomammut and you’ll get the gist of things. I keep returning to those cool vocals, which sound a bit choked off, but always right on track on ‘Four Princes’.

Kurse sounds quite promising on this EP and a full length may be what they need to really craft something amazing.

Underground Sounds: Sutrah – Dunes

Label:  Independent
Band: Sutrah
Origin: Canada

Eastern promises come from far off places sometimes. Sutrah found inspiration in the oriental mysteries all the way in the northern land of Canada. In a period of 7 years the band crafted their debut album, which is out now, titled ‘Dunes’. An album inspired by esoteric thoughts, metaphysics and oriental folklore.

Drawing inspiration from bands like Lykathea AflameMartyr all the way to Cocteau Twins and Oliver Messiean. Members of the band have also been active in Chthe’ilist. Sonically the band seeks to bridge the wide gap between the turbulence and ferocity of death metal and inner calm that comes from the eastern philosophies and thoughts. They’ve tried to capture this idea and fight in their artwork.

After a moment of meditation, the album launches in full force with the title track. The tremolo riffing and high paced drums sweep in, but soon find a tranquillity in harmonious unity. Like a tapestry, all feels whole. That lasts usually up until the breaks, where a moment of chaos and doubt tear these turmoils apart into a chaotic shredding explosion. The constant search for balance results in an album that truly has two faces.

The album sounds absolutely pristine in production. Sometimes it lacks therefore a certain organic quality I’d say, but that’s a general death metal ailment in my ears. I love the intertjection of strange elements, like the bells on ‘Effervesce’. Though their balance with the music can be extremely weird, it does give that extra thing to the music. When they fade away tight waves of guitar riffs take over again. Sometimes those soar away in wild, brief solo’s. It breaks that steady flow of the sound, which you’ll find if you can transcend the frantic pace and precise cuts.

The vocals are deep growls, barked on cue with the melody of the all over sound. At times the band can sound quite complex, but that technicality and the calm in there is the charm of this Canadian band for sure. I don’t see anyone getting their meditation groove on to Sutrah for now though.

This offers great hopes for the future though.

Gilded Lily: Fenced Dogs and Creating Beauty (interview)

Gilded Lily released one of those albums that pushes the boundaries of the genre. The group from Barrie in Canada just released ‘Mongrel’s Light’ and it blew me away. It sure as hell is not casual listening.

There was a little bit of info to be found, but I was keen to find out more about this band and Andrew Helinski was keen to share, so I asked them a few questions about their band, the urban environment and Canadian metal (not referring to the hilarious Darkthrone song).

Check the album review HERE.

Who are Gilded Lily and how did you guys get together as a band? What other projects have you been involved in (musical or non-musical related to your art)?
Gilded Lily began in 2014 mostly out of an itch to create some in-your-face music. Don’t all young guys who aren’t good at sports want to be in a band? Jordi and I had both been in Swarms together before this, which had a more long-winded approach to song writing, and we wanted to try something that felt more immediate. Once we recruited Cameron we realized that the approach was different enough that it warranted another moniker- a clean slate entirely.

I wanted to ask about the name of the band, since it sounds rather different from the more conventional names. How did you come up with this name?
I came up with it, though it wasn’t my first choice. I had actually settled on the name Mongrel for a long while and about 2 months before the demo came out I saw a flyer for a show in New York for Yellow Eyes, and a new band was playing it called Mongrel. So I had to scramble a bit to come up with something new. We ended up going in the opposite direction, instead of trying to convey the ugliness of the band, I went with a name that means “to make something beautiful that is already beautiful.”
In the end, it may have helped inadvertently from a branding standpoint, it’s certainly more memorable for a metal band then a lot of other choices.

What are your musical influences for the ‘Mongrel’s Light’ record, how would you describe the unique sound of this album?
We pulled from so many different places on this album. Some influences are almost bizarrely disconnected from the final product. Just to rattle off some bands, HEALTH, Black Anvil, Prurient, Cobalt, A Pregnant Light, Cattle Decapitation, La Dispute.
We had some trouble knowing exactly how to bill this album; blackened grind, blackened hardcore, post black… they all seem a disingenuous and at least a little inaccurate.
It makes sense why people want genres as a point of reference- but we were pretty happy feeling like the end result wasn’t something that could be easily slotted into anything other than “extreme” metal.

The album feels like a very bleak expression that must have been fed by something of the surroundings or such. What inspired this album? Is there an element of dislike for the urban environment to it?
There certainly is, ha. When we started Gilded Lily, Jordi and I had both just moved back to our hometown of Barrie, it’s an exceedingly average, midsize, conservative Canadian city. The real motivator for me when writing was of course, my personal life- but also the city’s relentless banality, its dumb contentment, the petty criminality.
I don’t necessarily dislike the urban environment itself. I can’t claim some close affinity to nature after being born and raised in the city, but this album at least stays focused on the malaise and ugly aspects of suburban life.
As with anything that’s an artistic statement, the viewpoint is entirely the artists- perhaps someone else could write an album about the same city and it would be a sunny-sounding affair praising it. As it stands however, negativity and specific visions of Barrie and fenced dogs are the main motivators behind the album’s themes.

I was curious how you craft your songs, since the amazing lyrics seem to be at the core of things. How do you go about making and recording the music, who has which role?
The writing process generally begins with my lyrics, the themes being established and the album being sketched out conceptually. After we have the “tone” of each song established, Jordi just hammers out riffs and ideas and begins to piece them together. After the whole album was demoed out we each took two weeks to just listen to the album over and over and draft up a bunch of notebooks, and then just edited out every piece of the album that didn’t 100% hold its own to put ears.
We’re both very respectful of each other’s talents and process, and this album was the most we’ve ever challenged each other or vetoed anything the other has done. I revised my lyrics dozens of times and Jordi had me cut some entirely. And I made Jordi go through four different version of Glass In St. Mary’s Lot until it was at a place where I was happy with it as well.
Pushing each other’s creativity seems to be a big part of why this album felt so successful to us.

Your approach to black metal (if we can call the style of music that) seems to be very eclectic and I feel a kinship with groups like Sun Worship who’ve approached BM from a more artistic and aesthetic viewpoint. Is that the case for Gilded Lily?
I’m not sure we have any kinship with anyone based on style. There are so many bands out there that it would be hard to feel a based solely on the merit of looking or sounding similar. There’s a kinship with other artists or bands we have a working relationship or mutual respect with- Terzij de Horde, It Only Gets Worse, A Pregnant Light, Cara Neir. People who write and create similarly and seem to take the same approach to music’s importance.
That said, not to be too dismissive, Sun Worship are an excellent band and we all really enjoyed their last two records.

Can you tell me about Lion’s Jawbone? Why did you start your own label?
Vanity mostly. We really believe in what we do, and even if no one else did- we both wanted a little platform on which we would be able to display our work and projects on our own terms. To be frank neither of us really wants the hassle that is inherent with a label, so we keep things extremely barebones. It’s essentially just to give a voice to our stuff and retain control of how it’s presented.

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Why are there so many good bm bands coming from Canada? And is it me or is there some abject to civilization, society and the urban environment to it? What do you think are the unique ingredients your surroundings offer that influence that sound.
It seems Canadian bands have a wide swath of influences and space to grow themselves. A band in Calgary is a day and a half of non stop driving away from us, so it’s very removed and disconnected. As such, aside from hearing the records and catching an occasional show, there’s no communal mentality to influence our stuff. The mentality is just do your own thing and own it.
We’re left to our own devices and to pursue our ideas down rabbit holes as far as we can.
Of course there’s exceptions, Quebec has an incredible and incestuous black metal scene and inversely, a lot of Canadian acts seems to have a goofy proclivity to folkish / melodic stuff that we can’t get down with. At the end of the day though, a lot of the gems that shine through seem to exemplify that aforementioned mentality.

What does the future hold for Gilded Lily?
Currently we’re recording a new EP, we have a split and a collaborative release with two different bands in the early stages as well. Eventually writing for a new full length I suppose too; we spread ourselves thin and work slowly as a result. Lots of moving pieces.

Finally, if you had to describe your band as a dish, what would it be and why?
Damn, this is a odd one to answer. Musically we’re a hodgepodge of elements kind of thrown together that only make sense as a whole. So maybe a soup? A burrito? A pierogi? Salad’s probably too boring. Would have to be a jazzed ass salad.

Sounds of the Underground #13

This is the second sound of the Underground of 2015, with bands like Inquisitor, Odota, An Autumn For Crippled Children and Baptists. So much good stuff left over from last year.

Inquisitor – Clinamen | Episteme

Source: Inquisitor Bandcamp

The Lithuanian scene is a truly hidden gem and the band Inquisitor was recommended to me for listening. The band has been around for 12 years already and makes a dense combination of hard riffing and passionate melodies in what can be perceived as an organic whole. Funky, hectic grooves lace the song ‘Hearken, Memmius!’ that opens their new record. Soaring guitars. That playful weird sound is apparently their schtick, also the semi-clean vocals offer a new persective. ‘Hence The Mouthful of Time’ is full of progressive piano elements and peculiar elements.

Though progressive and embracing avant-garde, there is nothing tame about the groups sound. The album shows much variation, but also sheer brutality and grim atmospheres to the listener. The strenght however, is the detailed extremes the band seems to play with in their music, going from typical black metal to a form of jazz or funk and back again. The sound is always bleak and all you would expect from a band that labels as black metal. The intelligent sound of these guys is definitely worth the attention of the avid metal fan though and I cannot wait to hear more from them.

An Autumn For Crippled Children – try not to love everything you destroy EP

Source: Bandcam AAFCC

With probably the must fucked-up bandname in a long time of fucked-up bandnames, this group does make an extremely beautiful sort of post-black metal. Soaring film score elements accompany a layered, atmospheric barrage of guitar and sonic effects on the titletrack. There’s a warmth in the sound of this mysterious group from the Netherlands that has no equal. It’s the warmth of embracing a certain fatalism. Fun fact is the reference of the title to previous full lenght ‘Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love’.

The second song is ‘post war’, which has fierce guitar structures that even with their smooth effects sound like typical black metal riffing. The sound is rich and reminds the listener of obvious names like Deafheaven and Liturgy, but with a weird twist of their own. This is a band that has done amazing work this far and is worth recommending to anyone who is into this music, but also those outside of it.

Baptists – Bloodmines

Source: Baptists Bandcamp

Luckily, there are still good hardcore records coming out now and then and this new one by Vancouver residents Baptists is a true blistering masterpiece of what hardcore should be. A lot of squeeking guitar work and gritty rhythm combinations makes the sound of the Canadians agressive and controlled. Their aesthetic is something with man versus nature, which is displayed in the beautiful cover that expresses a dark perspective on this struggle. That darkness is taken into the sound of songs like  ‘Vistas’ and ‘Harm Introduction’.

Grinding guitars and hectic breaks form the base of the raging songs the band keeps chugging out. The furious vocals are spat out at break-neck speed, furious at the world and followed by pounding drums. The sound is coherent and organic though, there is little artfical about this band and I guess that is one of their main charms. Hopefully they cross the ocean soon, so we can admire their live antics as well.

Odota – Fever Marshall

source: Odota bandcamp

Jarmo Nuutre is a peculiar dude, who does fantastic tattoo’s and used to make mammoth-stomping sludge with Talbot. This is his new project and it is filled with a lot of awesome. Slow creeping sound, filled with strange atmospheric effects accompany the searing guitarwork. Black metal inspired, industrial tinged noise on a slow, doomy pace is what best captures the sound on this first release.  The heavy distorted vocals and rest of the sound offer a sound that envelopes the listener. Tracks like ‘Bad Medicine’ stand out due to their dark and frightening atmosphere.

Strangely, a song like ‘Half Eagle’ feels more like a video game soundtrack mixed with an evil EBM song that you have to dance to in the intro. The sound samples Nuutre choses, betray an eclectic sound and a creative mind that is free of boundaries. Closer ‘Rattlesnakes Unfold’ is a tidal wave that keeps pushing you under in a dense rattling, drumming sound, waves of distorted guitar wafting over you, while vocals seem to just scream at the sky. This debut of Odota is an unholy experience of awesome and for those who like a little bit of experiment and doom in their blackened noise metal. Did I capture it there?