Tag Archives: Italy

Underground Sounds: Emyn Muil – Elenion Ancalima

Label: Northern Silence Productions
Band: Emyn Muil
Origin: Italy

Dreaming of Tolkien

Some people take their Tokien fandom to extreme lengths. Emyn Muil from Cassano delle Murge is one of those bands.  The band is an epic black metal project of Saverio Giove (Valtyr, Ymir). As you probably guessed, the sound is very close to the masters of this sort of music Summoning. This is the second full length by the Italian artist and it is a grandiose spectacle indeed.

It took four years after ‘Túrin Turambar Dagnir Glaurunga’ for ‘Elenion Ancalima’ to manifest itself. The album theme is accordingly a particular section of the Silmarillion book, titled Akallabeth. Sometimes the story is published in Lord of the Rings books. The story tells of the lost land of Númenor, a Tolkienesque version of the Atlantis myth.

The lyrics seem to come straight from that piece of literature and the music really is Summoning worship at its best. Finding a spot somewhere between black metal and dungeon synth, Emyn Muil is a dreamy, intoxicating experience that easily entices its listeners to travel to strange lands. The right mixture of eerie synths (including pipes and flutes), bombastic drums and proclaiming spoken word, immediately takes you in on ‘Under A Silvered Star’. The black metal part is really restricted to a few passages, like on ‘The Lay of Númenorë’. In fact, the synths really take the upper hand in this 14-minute epic and the guitars only serve to give a bit of menacing tang to the song. Therefore it’s actually quite easy listening.

The record is more a strange soundtrack with storytelling. Listening to ‘Ar-Pharazôn’, it feels like you’re watching a grandiose spectacle in your mind. An element of remorse seeps into the sound, it’s the grandeur of ruin that is described in this song. The hubris of Icarus, of a King that wanted too much. This is the absolute magic that Emyn Muil evokes with this music, without ever overdoing it. Emyn Muil either moves you, or it bores you I suppose. You probably feel equally passionate about Dungeon synth in that case or similarly disinterested. In all honesty, I think that Emyn Muil is a beautiful project, particularly for the fans of fantasy and film. Providing that you are one of those, this is the record for you.

Underground Sounds: Fiave – Dall’alto Di Una Roccia

Label: Self released
Band: Fiave
Origin: Italy

Fiave has spun a remarkable story on this atmospheric black metal album, which deals with the plague in the 1630’s, which wiped out large parts of the Italian countryside. This album deals with that concept, as the Italian town Irone is completely wiped away except for one man.

Standing on a rock (as the title says) he as a guardian of the dead proclaims his last wishes and finally finishes his own life. It’s a grim enough story and it is tangible in the art work. A huddled group of faceless people on a snowy hill side. There’s a sense of despair, with one figure standing apart in a different robe.

There’s definitely something local to this record, something closely related to its locale. A gentle guitar plays on the intro song of tree minutes, while the sound of scuffling feed through the thick packed snow sounds. Dark and cold seems to fill the room in the mean time as the setting takes hold. A bombastic sound reverberates from the speakers, when ‘E Il Custode Accoglieva Con Sè Cenere E Morti’ kicks in. While the song initially opens fiercely, the song tones down rather rapidly to a more midpaced, mournful tone. The sound is still very full and powerful, with odd chanting filling up little gaps in its aural assault.

The guitars are somewhat lower tuned, creating more room for the vocals to find a space for sincere, fierce expression.  After spoken parts the song melts into another short intermission. There’s a sense of fatalism to the music, it all leads to the unavoidable death of all. In that sense the record really follows its narrative delivery. At times the music can be really primitive sounding, like the drum intro on ‘Delle Parole Restava Il Silenzio’. The chanting actually reminds me a bit of Amenra. The Belgian band also tends to put that religious experience into the music. So do the Italians. Thanks to a great story and an overal appreciation of the way music can tell all that, this is a rather great album. It’s highly entertaining and perhaps a bit loose in its delivery, but well enough to enjoy the languid passages and drama that unfolds.

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.

Murmur Mori: Back to the forest

As you might have read, I’ve started expanding my tastes from metal to folk as well. In my personal quest to find something tangible and meaningful in these stranger aeons we live in, I stumble across wonderful music that hits me.

Folk that returns to nature, to ancestral groves where our forefathers and mothers would worship nature and their deities is not just a northern thing. Murmur Mori from Italy has a particular take on it and has created a beautiful album that you can read about here.

Because my words seemed to express what the band was saying, I felt I needed to learn more about Murmur Mori and their forest folk. So without further ado, here is my interview.

How are you guys doing? Can you briefly introduce yourselves?

Hello, we’re fine. Murmur Mori is our project and we are Mirko Void, musician with various projects, singer, composer, producer, working as a classical guitar teacher, and Kuro Silvia, photographer and film maker who likes to write poetry and sing, working now on a documentary on the archaeological finds in Val d’Ossola. Both are interested in our local traditions and ancient history. Together we wrote some articles for the magazine “Triple Moon”, distributed by the esoteric library “Ibis” in Bologna.

What does the name Murmur Mori mean? Why did you pick it?

Mumur Mori is a name with more than one meaning. Murmur can be a whisper or the demon associated with philosophy that has the power to let the souls answer to every question he poses to them. Mori is the japanese word for Forest or the latin word for “to die”. ?What music inspired you to pick the direction for Murmur Mori? The main inspiration comes from unexpected things, some examples: a leaf falling behind us or a book about the legends of the alps; about the music, we take it from traditional ballads and 70’s folk music. We are currently working on a new album that will come out first months of the new year and the sound will be more traditional and direct.

You’ve just released your second record, titled ‘O’. What concept or story is it you’re telling on this album?

“O” was a long research work, we visited the most of the archaeological sites of our land. Inside our work there’s the will to bring to the people a memory of our ancestors, to avoid forgetting how we used to live in tribes and with Nature. To remember how humans used to be a part of Nature, following the rhythm of seasons, esteeming and fearing Nature, we tried to find in these places the spirit and the knowledge about that way of living. We wanted to play music and sing words of ancient traditions and respect for the earth.

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The record feels like such an otherworldly experience. How do you get in the right state of mind to record?

The main part of our music was composed while we were visiting ruins in Italy, places where you find stones that are arranged in the wood from the Neolithic, “O” is in fact full of field recordings from those places, this helped us to transmit the emotions that we felt while contemplating cromlechs and sacred woods.

What is your writing and recording proces like?

(Mirko) I can stay whole weeks without recording, gathering ideas in my head and once ready, in two or three days I can manage to complete songs playing step by step every instrument that I feel has to be inserted. Sometimes the alienation is so strong that I spend hours without talking, just listening the work I’m doing and looking at the instruments in the studio, as the instruments are the ones that come forward to be played. (Silvia) I start to write down pieces of lyrics while I’m in a place that makes me feel inspired and I vocalise while Mirko is playing.

How do you get your inspiration, like where do you go and what other expressions do you gather from that?

We always visit a waterfall near to our place, in Piedmont, we walk a lot of trails in the mountains. There is a sacred forest where there’s a stone inside, which was used for rites of fertility, women glided on the stone and the trace is still visible on it.

Can you tell a bit about Stramonium? What is the collective about? Stramonium is a collective about music, poetry and researches of history and folklore created by us and our friends in Bologna.

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I find that there’s a deep meaning and experience to the music of Murmur Mori. Can you explain something about the places you describe in the biography. The ancient places, nature and sacred locations in the north of Italy. How can we visualise this?

We noticed a lot of ancient buildings, rocks, stones, and we felt that these places were full of history and we started to visit them more while writing songs and collecting informations about these ruins. There are a lot of archaeology proofs where we usually go by the mountains in Piedmont, they found evidences from the Lepontii which were a celtic population and the woods are rich of their presence still, dry stone structures even rooms with menhirs and cromlechs near to them. We feel very inspired by the idea of preserve the memory of these places.

Can you explain the logo you guys use? I originally thought to expect black metal when I saw it.

The logo is the seal of the demon Murmur with the japanese kanji for forest (Mori) in it. For me, your music is very close to the experience of nature.

What would you advice those that listen to your music and with to be in touch with nature more?

We are living in times where people are no longer conscious of where they are and are losing awareness of Nature, right now we need to re-learn the respect of it. Go walk in the woods or by the sea, take your time to breathe and listen, go live the woods, let your animal spirit awakes. Remove plastic and garbage on your way when you find it, it could be a small but useful action.

What other artists do you recommend people to listen to, who like your music, and why?

There’s a lot of amazing music in the world, from ancient times to our days but we suggest our friends qqq∅qqq, a music project from Venice. These guys reorganized a small lodge called “La Casetta” in the woods of Pianezze di Valdobbiadene (TV), They created a place where to play music and stay with Nature all around. Also if you enjoy our music, we made with Stramonium a compilation “Where Winter Beats Incessant” with the collaboration of some musicians we feel close to us.

What future plans do you have for Murmur Mori?

We are now finishing to record the new album and for the first time there will be the participation of outer musicians

Finally, I always ask this, if you were a dish (food), what would it be and why?

Polenta! Because we eat it a lot, fried and not.

Underground Sounds: Murmur Mori – O

Label: Stramonium
Band: Murmur Mori
Origin: Italy

Murmur mori is part of an Italian collective that embodies more than just music. Stramonium seems to aim and various forms of expression and this just happens to be one of them. The collective has released a compilation as well featuring groups like Ashtoreth, Sangre De Muerdago and VRNA in tribute to winter solstice.

It helps to place where this group is coming from with a revivalist attitute towards old traditions and a drive to reimagine them in these turbulent, higly urbanized times. The old forests and mountains, the sacred places in northern Italy are what inspired this record by Mirko Void and Kurio Silva.

The music is mild, slowly trickling down with a gentle hand, but never fading away. The continuity is that of the mountain river and the wind, in which you can hear the gentle song of the vocals. It’s very much like listening to nature and finding that voice. On ‘Nemeton’ we hear eerie ambient, foreboding and mysterious, as are the omnious mountains in the morning light, when the peaks are still covered by the black of night and the sun peeps up in between.

The droning sound has an endlessness to it, which is very fitting with the topics of the music. The upbeat tribalism of ‘Il Legno, il Sasso e la Volpe al Fiume’ in its percussive dance, the gloomy droning of ‘Aquile’, it both embodies the experiences one can have in nature. Never does Murmur mori waste any sounds on filling voids, it’s as complete as the nature they describe. Both the silence and the vibrancy, which can both be seen when not obscured by darkness. The discrepancy between the timbre and flow of closer ‘La Caverna’ in its own way speaks of the many sounds you can identify, the many roads to walk.

The record in its entirety is an exploration, a quest into the heart land of Europe, south of the Alps but flocking to its outskirts. It’s a tangible quest of sound and feeling, much like I feel I’m experiencing. It’s also lovely.

Underground Sounds: MASTER BOOT RECORD – C​:​\​>CHKDSK /F

Label: independent
Band: MASTER BOOT RECORD
Origin: Italy

Somewhere in Rome a rogue computer has started producing or assimilating heavy metal and chiptune music. Yes, all gates are open now, with the arrival of Master Boot Record, which/who dropped 4 records in a short amount of time. I decided to check out ‘C:\>CHKDSK /F’ as a topic for a bit of writing, because it just souned weird.

The occult imagery is blended with DOS-screens and circuit boards, that is pretty cool. Also, MASTER BOOT RECORD has been doing some stuff for a while, covering hit songs like the soundtrack of old DOS games. Think of DOOM, Syndicate and Turrican. I do suppose that some people think this is silly, but if you’ve grown up in that time and age, you know how awesome this record is to me.

So what you get is pretty awesome. Remember how good those game soundtracks, even in midi could be? Everyone can hum along with the Mario and Zelda tune, right? Well, imagine combining that with guitars, bass and drums, to create a driven, electro rock sensation! The typical thing about the game music is that it’s always pushing you forward, it’s energetic and upbeat, so this is one whole record of invigorating music that easily fades to the background, while you engage in the mundane tasks.

On ‘Config.Sys’ there’s even a bit of classical music, played in midi with raw, shredding guitars and then suddenly picking up the synthwave beat. It’s just all there, everything blended to it’s maximum effect of awesome. The superfast riffing, mixed with the midi sound, it just works great. Sure, this is probably one of the most geeky things to enjoy, but the way the record is made is just incredibly catchy and captivating.

I may not know the exact words to describe this record, but it’s the combination of oldschool gaming sensation with the balls to the wall approach of heavy metal and that works like a charm. Enjoy the other records of MASTR BOOT RECORD for free on Bandcamp!

 

Sounds of the Underground #25

Thanks everyone for reading my ‘Sounds of the Underground’. It’s much appreciated, so here’s #25 with GravewormMurg, Witchsorrow and Fluisteraars.

Graveworm – Ascending Hate

Source: Nuclear Blast

Things tend to get back to you in time and bite you in the face it seems. Graveworm is one of the first extreme metal bands I got to hear and genuinely scared me at the time. Their album covers fascinated me, specially in the early days. Now, the Italian band is back with a death/symphonic/blackened explosion titled ‘Ascending Hate’, which to me sounds most like Cradle of Filth having a car crash with Therion.

The album is very well produced, which helps bring forward the symphonic and melodic elements in the music, which has soaring guitars and ambience enhancing keys playing throughout the songs. The harsh, barked vocals offer a contrast of brutality, together with the death metal barrage of guitars, but the bands doesn’t shy away from using their softer side when they can, like ‘To The Empire Of Madness’. There’s a beauty to this album, that unfortunately not the whole world will appreciate.

Murg – Varg & Björn

source: Bandcamp

Fuck yeah, black metal the way it used to be made, that’s what I want! This album brings back the fury of the original second wave in the hand of this Swedish company. Blistering guitar play and a dense, northern atmosphre make this a well worthy ride, full of frostbitten grimness. These are songs with blast beats the way you love and cherish them, in full furious swing and high on energy. There over you hear the tremolo guitar play, reaching up to this static buzzing sound.

It is rather hard to find info on the band, but there’s a good interview out there if you are interested. To the sound, though it can be murky and harrowing, there is also a certain beauty and melodic nature to the sound, hidden underneath tones that speak of decay and morbididty. Big, wavy guitar parts speak in no uncertain terms of a grandeur and power of nature, which is an influence clearly to be felt in the music of this mysterious duo. This record brings back the past, but a bit more in its grandeur and passion. A next album might come into being, so I’m rooting for that one.

Witchsorrow – No Light Only Fire

Brittish doom lords Witchsorrow have a new one, which looks rather good on first sight. The eye does not lie with this record, but it’s not just doom. Opening title track is a jagged, heavy stoner anthem with a break neck speed.  The vocals are restrained, as if the full power of the band is waiting to be unleashed as yet on this record, which happens on the thrudging ‘The Martyr’. The celebration of their 10 year anniversary is definitely one  this three piece does by showing the full scale of their skills.

The slow and heavy part is definitely in order with these guys, who manage to combine that element with a certain hardcore vibe. All the sound is crisp, clear and filled with a certain venom. This is however, without ever sounding like anything that isn’t doom. Witchsorrow is one of those bands that reinvigorate the genre with a catchy and open sound. It is not without reason that album immediately resonates with me and I sincerely recommend it to anyone who bears love for the genre as a testament to its enduring longevity.

Fluisteraars – Luwte

Source: Bandcamp

There’s this new wave of black metal in the Netherlands, which seems to rely strongly on a certain poetic aesthetic. I think of Laster and Terzij De Horde, but Fluisteraars also puts on a particular brand of sweeping majesty into the sound they paint. In their bio, the band speaks of windswept black metal and that sort of makes sense when you listen to the organic, wavering sound of the band. The Gelderland collective is definitely taking the listener on a journey with their specific sound.

Continuously surging guitar parts drag you along in a sonic river of grief, remorse and sadness, where now and then an echo of hope seems to be woven into the sound. The band manages to lift that sound up to etheral hights. Without any hesitation the sound then twists and turns around again, like  a u-turn into a shouty cacophony on ‘Angstvrees’. The track then resumes the stream. The record takes an epic approach to the black metal genre, which is truly captivating.

Sounds of the Underground #24

This time from that deep underground, I’ve got TurnstileForgotten Tomb, Moloch and Anfinnsaas for you to indulge in. Enjoy listening to some cool music.

Turnstile – Nonstop Feeling

source: Bandcamp

Oh shit! Did I just get pulled back into listening to hardcore with a cool nineties vibe, remniscent of Shelter and Cro-Mags both. There’s also a tinge of some of the groove metal stuff going on in the day, but surprisingly, this band is super young. In fact this is their debut. The Baltimorians (is that the word?) have been around since 2010 and now delivered an awesome debut record. The album is out on Reaper Records, known for acts like Terror and Trapped Under Ice.

Turnstile has no problem putting back some emo in the core, without becoming whiney. There’s less of the tough guy bullshit, which is too often part of the New York sound they embrace. That gives way more freedom for music, since the songs don’t need to be laced with breakdowns and circle pit frenzy. There’s a lot of that going on, creating that catchy vibe of the more ideological laden hardcore bands of the nineties, specially with the vocals feeling a lot like those of Ray Cappo. Some effects, like on ‘Can’t Deny It’ empasize this fact. Looking forward to seeing these guys play in my town.

Anfinnsaas – Anfinnsaas

Source: Bloody-disgusting.com

There are records, that you put on and just gradually enter your consciousnes. They fit the patterns you expect to hear and just kinda mellow into your hearing. This is not one of those records. This record is a hectic, frantic, noisy and chaotic amalgation of different styles and genres into a product that feels loose and uncontrolled. That would be quite far from the truth though, this band seems to absolutely know what they are doing on this debut. The group exists since 2013 and the name is funnily enough a combination of the last names of both members; Knut Finsaas and Geir Anfinn Halland Johansen.

The record is out on Autumnsong Records and it has six songs on it. These are strongly percussionist songs, even the strings appear to be hammered in some songs, which brings a bit of a djent feeling forwards. No, it’s not like that. The loose sound makes sure that there’s a continuous flurry of twanging and clanging guitar strings, making this feel like an overdriven machine. It’s quite an atmospheric and enjoyable record with a lot of exciting elements to it. Just not for easy listening.

Forgotten Tomb – Hurt Yourself And The Ones You Love

source: bandcamp

Forgotten Tomb is one of the bands pioneering the genre of DSBM. Often controversial, always provoking and in a way brilliant, this is their latest album which immediately betrays some interesting influences in the arwork, atleas the music seems to take a bit more of an industrial/heavy metal approach. Not that the group around Ferdinando Marchisio (Herr Morbid) ever relents in their misanthropic views, but the sound is more accesible.

Tracks like ‘King of Undesirables’ carry a certain Satyricon-like groove and rhythm, which could be a crowd pleaser live. Take that with a big pill of Celtic Frost heavy and slow, and you’ve got yourself a winner. The theme remains very far removed from that greater audience, expressing a true disdain for humanity and life itself. Specially the title track expresses these feelings without any symbolism. The production is done very smoothly by Brad Boatright (known from Nails, Beastmilk and such), which works with the sound of this band. It is probably not their most extreme record, but it sounds pretty awesome.

Moloch – Abstrakter Wald

source: Bandcamp

The idea of recording your album in the Carpathian mountains with an open tape is kind of bespelling, specially considering it was done in a winter night by the Ukranian project Moloch. So imagine that, in the forest and in a part where myth and reality are not that far apart. Where the night holds terrors that have no names. This is very much what sound you can expect from this black metal project. True, there is little metla going on, but that is not diminishing the atmosphere of the recordings one bit.

Eerie, slow rising synth sounds are reverberating gentle in the air. There’s a sense of peacefulnes to the sound, but always there is also a threat. A gentle drone is constantly there, humming, growling but just out of reach. I used black metal project earlier, since its in the description of the band on bandcamp. Obviously, this recording is much closer leaning to ambient and experimental music, even taking a bit of postrock into it. The titles are all the same, except for numbering. That’s why ‘In Dem Gewaltigen Wald Wo Das Echo Sich Selbst Verlier’ stands out, also due to its cold synths and fuller, more open sound, leaving the drone a bit behind for a short moment. A bemused experience, this record is all that.