Hwwauoch - Protest Against Sanity

Less activity as we're approaching the end of the year and for obvious reasons, attention has been turned towards all-time favorite posts that will spawn in mid-late December. 

In the meantime, implode with Hwwauoch's new, terrifying album, which poses a challenge to all that is musically conventional and believe me, better to take a deep breath before diving in. 

Beherit - Bardo Exist

2020 has been the year we saw some activity from the Beherit camp. In August, NWN Productions released Promo Tape, a reissue of two classic tracks from the past in red cassette featuring an iconic photo of the band. A live album was also independently released a bit later, named "Live in Nokia Finland 8-3-1991", so up to that point it seemed like we are still mooching off their rich early history. What about a completely new full length album on top of that though?

Bardo Exist, unexpectedly dropped, serves as another big surprise of the year. It is the follow-up release of 2009's Engram (not counting 2011's re-release to the mix), a widely talked release of that era, as is anything Beherit put out, and also follows the same kind of turn they did between 1993 and 1994: from a primitive black metal record to a challenging, experimental ambient one, yet this time it only took eleven years instead of one. In bleak aesthetics, the band's wonderful logo strongly poses on the side of what seems to be a smeared black face and is just a beauty to look at.
Being quite interesting to listen to, it surely isn't an average dark ambient work but more of a release characteristic of Beherit's atypical compositional ways. I won't hide that I would listen to bombarding, thick, repetitive riffs by them any day, however Bardo Exist is a proper addition to their back catalog, with all its idiosyncrasies. The album contains eleven tracks and thirty seven minutes of music, with a special edition containing a self-titled, twenty two minute piece, which I haven't heard yet.

The record is not purely aiming to be a dark instrumental soundscape, as different kinds of synths kick in throughout the listen. Discrete elements from a wide array of electronic music are being employed at times, often changing places in the same tune too, in what could be a score for a contemporary art noir movie. Beherit are fans of distorted vocal sounds and they are gracefully used in Bardo Exist too, from the introduction to several parts of other tracks, which are relatively diverse but maintain a settled flow that doesn't break the overall atmosphere.

Highlights are the haunting "Shadow Prayer", "Acid Death Vision", the sudden noise / drone switch after the spacey synths in "Peilien vanki", the pale beats of "Ghost Visitor" and the dim outro "Sorrowers". I liked the nuances of "Extreme Thirst and Insomnia", and how "Silom Vortex" feels like a track that would play once you entered a tavern in an old school RPG game. Bardo Exist is loyal to the character of Beherit, which doesn't always wear the facet of the ugly black metal monster that they might be most famous for. I got behind this band very late, yet this release and its listening process, satisfied me deeply.

Young and in the Way - Ride off and Die

Needless to say, it is a big and unexpected turn to see a new album by Young and in the Way, minimally promoted, splashing in the world out of nothing. After the burning incidents that rose to the surface a couple of years ago, I believed this band was put to rest for good. And even though they have now a new full length album, fans should not trust in a full return as it is stated by the band that this is "the final album by The True Enemy". Entitled Ride off and Die, it is an appropriate swan song for a band like that, while the obvious Darkthrone reference stands out (they even have a song named "R.O.A.D." here). 

It almost feels like not a day has passed since When Life Comes to Death, except for the fact that the band has now exposed its core and stripped the music down to the bare necessities. The titles and lyrics, angry and straightforward, tell the tale of the wounded beast in punkish filthy fashion, with the hard-hitting compositions being exactly what Young and in the Way does best: pompous beats, harsh screams, cutting guitars and abundant feelings of hostility.

If you've heard of them before, at times it will feel like you've heard this before. The techniques are all the same, yet Ride off and Die is one hell of an enjoyable record because there is hardly any misstep. The band has channeled all its rage from the last few years into one record that might seem simple but isn't easy to achieve, and the listener will definitely feel how sincerely pissed they are with everything. I remember liking their previous album but this, more direct in its nature, fits wonderfully as the album to completely describe what this band is about.

Not a single track is to be skipped (interesting background synths in "Endless Night", plenty of energy in the riffs of "Suffering Dawn", "There is No God, Only Me" and "Ready to Explode", "R.O.A.D." is a two minute Young and In the Way anthem) but most of a note must be left for the last one "You Can't Kill Me". Seven minutes (not as long as other closing tracks they have done), the middle paced passages with the clean vocals towards the end, as well as the final solos / screams, are a highlight for the record and the band. 

Let's see if this will get any coverage from zines around, yet I wouldn't bet my money on that. Ride off and Die sees off Young and in the Way in such manner that there needs to be no more activity from them. The band probably doesn't care anymore, they're throwing this out there and suggesting its title as the way to deal with it, and as the last lyric goes, "you can't kill what's fucking dead" is the take home message for us.

Lockdown Chronicles II - P. 1

"The exercise of meditation and memorization requires nourishment. This is where the more specifically intellectual exercises, as enumerated by Philo, come in: reading,  listening, research, and investigation.  It is a  relatively simple matter to provide food for meditation: one could read the sayings of the poets and philosophers, for instance, or the apophthegmata. "Reading," however, could also include the explanation of specifically philosophical texts, works written by teachers in philosophical schools. Such texts could be read or heard within the framework of the philosophical instruction given by a  professor.

Fortified by such instruction, the disciple would be able to  study with precision the entire speculative edifice which sustained and justified the fundamental rule, as well as all the physical and logical research of which this rule was the summary. "Research" and "investigation" were the result of putting instruction into practice. For example, we are to get used to defining objects and events from a physical point of view,  that is, we must picture them as they are when situated within the cosmic Whole. Alternatively, we can divide or dissect events in order to  recognize the elements into which they can be reduced.

Track listing:

1. Iskandr - Verban
2. Horseback - Invokation
3. Apognosis - The Failure of Man
4. Harvestman - Oak Drone
5. Bongripper - Hate Ashbury Part II
6. Trap Them - Organic Infernal
7. Indian - Directional
8. Palehorse/Palerider - Sundowning
9. Bruce Lamont - The Crystal Effect
10. Merkabah - Pitchblende
11. Djevel - Naa er hele livet paa ravnens bord
12. Antediluvian - Luminous Harvest
13. Abyssal - A Casual Landscape
14. Cloud Rat - Seven Heads
15. Saligia - Draining the Well

Sorcier des Glaces - Un Monde de Glace et de Sang

If one doesn't count the rework of Snowland in 2012 as a separate full length, Sorcier des Glaces now count seven albums since 1998, with the last decade being by far the most productive period for the band. The Canadian project hasn't really fallen short all these years, as a large part of their solid work has granted them a respected spot in the underground scene and their debut is hailed as an atmospheric black metal masterpiece by now. I haven't talked about them a lot in this blog even though I haven't missed a record since 2011 and The Puressence of Primitive Forests

Un Monde de Glace at de Sang (=A World of Ice and Blood) is surprisingly, the first album of the band to go over an hour in length, even though they have flirted with this kind of duration in the past (last 2-3 records were about 50 minutes). Such a size is only necessary, giving Sorcier des Glaces the space they need to unfold their ideas and construct the wonderful, frosty atmosphere that they are craftsmen of. While this is true, don't imagine the sound of more modern atmospheric black metal bands with a lot of ambient elements in them, SDG are well set in their own approach and wear their 90's black metal influences and roots on their sleeves.

The first three tracks showcase parts in all different speeds, several epic guitar lines and well worked sections right up in SDG's game, being some of their most memorable material the last few years. The album has tracks both in English and French, the vocals are clear enough to follow, and as Un Monde de Glace at de Sang unfolds, it proves to be an absolutely captivating album. Acoustics are first introduced in the beginning self-titled track, which is also the longest and includes additions of samples of sword fighting, along the already established wintry feeling the album exerts. 

A wonderful cover of the song "The Warlock" by Necromantia, originally in their classic debut Crossing the Fiery Path from 1993, gives extra hints of SDG's early black metal influences (they have covered Tormentor too in the past). After all, they are a band that belongs in that era anyway. Proper justice is given to this majestic composition, a great choice for a cover that is also great to see, how Sorcier des Glaces would approach and replay it. 

One of my favorites from Un Monde de Glace at de Sang is "l'Éternelle Majesté des Montagnes (partie II)", which seems to be a musical continuation of the first part of the song with the same name "l'Éternelle Majesté des Montagnes", that can be found in Snowland, the band's first album. The two pieces both start with a kind of chanting vocals, and in the case of this record, the spirit of the older times is a little bit stronger also. "(Return to) the Primitive Grandeur" is another track where Sorcier des Glaces use more repetitive, faster tempos along with their potent melodies.

I'm quite satisfied by the production as well, which has cleaned up throughout the years but has not gone full crystal clear. The cold and slightly dusty sound that has been given to the guitars serves the music perfectly, and Sorcier des Glaces have an excellent grip on compositional structure to an extent that they have to specify the lack of keys in the album. The different layers are created by the guitars, which feature brilliant riff work and variations. Un Monde de Glace at de Sang does not get along completely with the music of its time, and this is a definite plus in this case. 

There's nothing to skip and nothing to complain on this album. Sorcier des Glaces are unique, and perfect in what they are doing, with Un Monde de Glace at de Sang they created a black metal album in which melody and intensity co-exist perfectly, it is primitive enough and flows like a river. Unlike more modern albums, it represents the authentic and unfiltered process of creation that only the best bands in the 90's employed, it glorifies the SDG sound as a whole. Fans of the band or Quebec metal (Forteresse came to mind a bit when listening to this) will surely love this record. 

I don't know, maybe I like it that much because it's now raining a lot here.

Funeral Harvest - Funeral Harvest (EP)

When looking at a line-up consisting of members from Italy and Norway, especially in the territory of religious themed black metal, it's difficult not to immediately think of Darvaza. Funeral Harvest is the first EP of a band that has been active only since 2016 and has just a demo and a single released before this mini-album, which makes it their biggest work for now and also the first main stop point in the hopefully, more to come.

Thematics close to the aforementioned band are being stressed here as well, as it seems Funeral Harvest aim for the same aesthetics with a hefty inclination towards the use of Latin, I can only imagine that they would perfectly fit in black metal festivals along bands with a ceremonial stage presence. The EP contains four tracks at a duration of almost twenty minutes, common compositions to the band's first demo Bunker Ritual Rehearsal, reworked for this release. Naturally, this translates to a slightly cleared up production, making Funeral Harvest easy to approach and follow.

Comparing with the demo recordings, I get the feeling that part of the intensity has been lost along the way, as the sound the band had in 2017, with the same tracks, did come out as more intimidating than the mixing of the latest EP. It would be a lost case to claim that Funeral Harvest have not been meticulous with their effort now, yet it's a release that wouldn't be a big musical challenge for someone who follows this kind of black metal. Apparently, Signal Rex will host the band's debut full length too, and I am hoping the band pushes forth a bit towards taking more risks in order to stand out.

Looking into the tracks specifically, the different parts of "O.S.N.D.S.P.T." make it an entertaining track, the opening "Nihil Sub Sole Novum" displays great technique on changing between slow and fast paced moments, while "Omega" on the other hand has guitar lines that are a bit more indifferent. "Sacred Dagger" is another solid track, and the raspy, scourging vocals are saving plus for the whole release. I would enjoy Funeral Harvest to use the proficiency they have in adapting a style, and be in overall, more intense. It's definitely a band that can do it. 

Empyrean Grace - Bestowment of the Seraphic Key

Among the many different, mainstream and not, releases that were scheduled for today, I was also waiting for Iskandr's new EP Gelderse poort, the next recording step of that project after the marvelous Euprosopon from 2018. However, by listening to that and then going into the label housing the Dutch underground group named Haeresis Noviomagi, I stumbled upon this demo by one of their new bands, Empyrean Grace. Needless to say, all the bands related to this label are nothing short of fascinating, yet this project still caught me off guard as it doesn't fully comply with the musical methods of its compatriot acts.

Bestowment of the Seraphic Key consists of one twenty-eight minute track. In case you are familiar with this family of artists and by chance had Imperial Cult's Spasm of Light come to mind, don't expect similar material here. Empyrean Grace's approach emphasizes on layers of opaque soundscapes, it's more soothing and mesmerizing, puts everything around the listener to a halt and it forces you to just lean back. They are not afraid to employ monotony and it's used to their advantage, creating a deep, lethargic atmosphere, coherent enough and with wonderful variations in parts, to make it a magnificent piece for its duration.

Once the sense of engagement has set in, the elements unlock. The track's contemplative nature thwarts movement but isn't demanding or draining, instead it stays in between and makes up for a truly rewarding listening experience. I don't easily stay tuned with endless tracks of almost ambient black metal, however I played this a second time back to back. I don't know any information about Empyrean Grace at the moment, but it just proves again that the turbulence coming from this side of the Netherlands, is not an accident.

Five albums released on October 16th

A blog was born in mid October, 2012, but this is not that kind of anniversary I'm referring to right now. On the otherwise quite unimportant date of October 16 happened a far less glamorous event, and that was of course, that it was the day when I was born. I don't know if you have ever wondering what was going on in the music world during the time that you arrived in this life, or important related events on that date etc.., and maybe this might be too much of an overkill even for listening nerds to keep track of. And while the world was jamming off "I'll Make Love to You" by Boys II Men during October of 1994, the album that gave me happiness from that month is that Impaled Nazarene's Suomi Finland Perkele was actually released on the 16th. And by the time I was two days old, and also mature enough for it, Stoner Witch by the Melvins came out. What a week!

While there are several general history websites that report events on a certain date, and also some regarding music only, it's not as clear to find such insight for underground scenes like extreme metal. I scanned through (with the help of one and only archival website for the music we love) four decades, from 1980 until today and gathered the most notable full lengths albums for myself, covering material from late Thin Lizzy albums to Throane's latest EP Une Balle Dans Le Pied, which was released this morning. Just the process of going through all these records gives a good grip on something that is important only to you personally, so I hope this post works not so much to spread music knowledge but as an idea to other list obsessed fans of music, or movies, or whatever you're into.