Monday, 29 April 2019

A 2019 Spotify playlist

While I have not practiced playlists in any of the last year activities since I started this blog, I thought It would be nice to store some of my favorite tunes of 2019 in an ever-growing Spotify playlist, where more will be added as we move forward in time. 

Sticking to one track per album is ideal but unlikely, and many of my already chosen top picks are not on Spotify at all, so this will be a sub-par list but still a cool listening overview of the year.

Needless to say, that I am not willing to construct this overview as a proper cover-up, instead it has my most enjoyed tracks and that's it. Other lists, RYM archives and so on, can give you an idea on what happened during 2019.  

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Envenom

Artist: Sabbat
Genre: Black / Thrash Metal
Origin: Japan
Year: 1991
Label: Evil Records

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The debut album by a very old Japanese band, which has been exercising anti-religious lyrics since the mid-eighties, almost at the same time with all the US / German masters. Sabbat has a series of awesome EPs from that period, which sound more like thrash but in imagery and text, they could easily fit the first wave of black metal and what influenced later bands.

During the nineties, the black / thrash elements became more apparent and they have been going until today. They also have a vast, vast discography, with countless mini releases, multiple in number per year.

Envenom is the first full work of Sabbat, released in 1991 by Evil Records, which is Gezol's (the band's vocalist / bassist) label. The guy is a true metal maniac and has been paid tribute by no other than Darkthrone, since their track "I Am The Graves of the 80's" refers to him. 

There is a certain transparency in Sabbat's music and the old school, dirty thrash sound is glorified through the cheesy - devilish tracks in Envenom. The vocals are relatively harsh and speed metal is ongoing.

The version I have is the re-release from Iron Pegasus records in 2016, which I think is also their current label. It comes with an old interview from that time (I think around 1990) which is awesome to read. Later, it was re-released again by Nuclear War. Primitive music played honestly, and this was proven by the steadiness of Sabbat all these years.

It was not the first piece I listened by them and I have mostly spent time around their 80s - 90s stuff, and not the rest, which are a lot. Envenom has a great production (listen to the drums), and a variety of interesting moments in its tracks.

Synths are used in "Bewitch", and "Reminiscent Bell", which give an almost space ambient kind of feeling, different from the 100% old school, filthy of the rest of the record. All songs kick ass. 

The band had a series of good albums in that decade and offered to me some of the best black / thrash I have ever heard. Favorites are "Reek of Cremation", "Eviler", "Devil Worship" and "King of Hell". 

Track listing:
1. Bewitch
2. The Sixth Candle
3. Satan Bless You
4. Evil Nations
5. Devil Worship
6. Reek of Cremation
7. Deathtemptation (Kanashibari Part 2)
8. King of Hell
9. Eviler
10. Carcassvoice
11. Dead March
12. Reminiscent Bells

Listen on Bandcamp

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Deathmanicvs revelation


Artist: Skelethal
Genre: Old School Death Metal
Origin: France
Year: 2014
Label: Iron Bonehead Records

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The first serious release after a demo and a split from this French band, which is very much into the non-modern side of death metal.

While I just enjoy it musically, above all are the vocals and the good guitar solos in this release. In 2014, they released another notable EP, named Interstellar Knowledge of the Purple Entity. They are not perfect, as the tracks feature some awesome moments of great riffing, but there are filler moments too.

I believe Skelethal lost their way later, and their debut full length was a disappointment for me, as it had some good tunes but the sound completely ruined it for me. That's why I listen to this and the other EP whenever I come back to them.

From the awesome artwork, to the back picture of the band itself, this LP was worth it and the release is a product of good and proper death metal thinking.

Bought this vinyl from the excellent Floga Records store, which continues today with many unique and underground releases at fair prices. I have it since it was released, so it's been five years now.

There is an overall issue with Skelethal's sound. If they fix that and some minor compositional parts, they will be one of the best of old school death today.


Side A
1. Intro
2. Macabre Oblivion
3. Putrefaction
4. Deathmanicvs Revelation

Side B
5. Curse of the Neverending
6. Death Returns
7. A Violation of Something Sacred (Sacrilege cover)

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Listen on Youtube

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Seven harmonies of unknown truths


Artist: Ildjarn
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: Norway
Year: 1992 (2003)
Label: Independent (Eisenwald)

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This was another piece I got from the visit to Helsinki recently, among a couple of other things that I might write about later on. 

I own very few records by Ildjarn, since I don't have a large collection anyway due to lack of determinism. The other album being a split with Hate Forest from 2013, I figured out later on that it's Nidhogg tracks not even recorded by him, so this is what I have from actually Ildjarn

Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths has the second best release title after the monumental Strength and Anger, and it's one of the very first demos by the artist. Of course, I have the reissue by Eisenwald, which was officially licenced by Ildjarn so it's not a bootleg or something. 

The liner notes inform the listener that this was "originally released as a demo tape in 1992 by Ildjarn and sold exclusively at Helvete record store". Metal Archives says there were only 25 tapes too.

The CD's package is one of the most beautiful ones I have ever bought, it has amazing designs by Tern, a great poster drawing by Marthe, it's minimalistic and pitch black as it should. There are extra vocals by Samoth, let's see if you can pick them up.

This version of the demo has the structure of eight tracks and not seven as in the original demo, because the first has been split into two parts. There are also names other than "-" for them, basically being the version that can be found here.
I don't want to talk about its music so much because it is very meaningful, to do a whole article around all of his music, with a playlist of the best and worst tracks. Ildjarn had moments of greatness and mediocrity, but I consider this project a genius like no other in the Norwegian scene. If someone is the embodiment of what the genre is all about, it's him. His attitude towards the music and life is the actual real meaning of a word that is ridiculed by fans and not fans alike today, "true".

The back cover here has a whole text split in seven parts, probably referring to each track, and a story is told alltogether. I don't want to write passages from this to urge you to find this release and buy it, but there is a bone-chilling message that gives life to cliche words like misanthopy and hate for mankind. 

It feels like Ildjarn is talking to you directly, and the words are cutting knives.

There has been many different facets of music in his discography, I believe his first steps do not depict the glory of later material. Most of Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths is middle-paced and based on repetitive riffs, and that's enough.

Remember that very few artists have managed to create such a powerful atmosphere with a handful of notes only. I'm thanking this German label for putting this together and I hope more black metal was like this. Away from the spotlight for real, not sharing, isolated, cold, noisy, mesmerizing. 

A bigger series of posts might come for Ildjarn. I have parts of his music that I consider unreal, and others that don't deliver. A small part of the black metal community considers this the best black metal artist ever, and while I don't completely agree, I love it how he isn't mentioned in any major listings, articles etc...

Track listing:
1. Harmony I
2. Harmony II
3. Harmony III
4. Harmony IV
5. Harmony V
6. Harmony VI
7. Harmony VII
8. Death Dynamics
9. Harmony I (Remix)
10. Harmony II (Remix)
11. Harmony III (Remix)
12. Harmony IV (Remix)
13. Harmony V (Remix)
14. Harmony VI (Remix)
15. Harmony VII (Remix)
16. Death Dynamics (Remix)

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Promulgation of the fall


Artist: Dead Congregation
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: Greece
Year: 2014
Label: Martyrdoom Productions

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I still remember reading a Dead Congregation interview in a Metal Hammer issue, back when their debut was released in 2008. That was also the period I started getting into the harder subgenres of metal.

At some point, there was a reply that went like: death metal is not for everyone, and that's the way it should be.

This statement kind of stayed with me and made its impact to my younger self and how I decided to step forward with the band, as well as the broader style, for the years to come. 

That year was also the year when the best death metal album of the 00's was released, which is Dead Congregation's debut Graves of the Archangels. I remember how it felt like the first time I listened to it, and after a decade now, it's still one of the most sincere and focused records you can get your hands on.

Six year later, "Only Ashes Remain" opens their second album and describes exactly what was left after Graves of the Archangels, for this whole time. The most crushing, menacing and familiar sound is back, with bestial (and magnificent) lyrics, ready to cause sheer terror.


I had bought this in CD when it was released. Recently, after visiting Helsinki for a day, I found it in LP format as well and decided to honor it a second time, as looking at this killer artwork in a larger scale piece is the definition of beauty.

The record was released by the band's label Martyrdoom Productions, but this specific LP is distributed by another excellent label, Norma Evangelium Diaboli.

All the track titles on the sleeve, as well as the album title, have been hand written by Kostas Protopapas, and there are lyrics by Timo Ketola (in "Schisma") and Tim Grieco from Antediluvian (in "Quintessence Maligned"). 

I believe this scene was first forged by Incantation in the nineties and has now been on the rise the recent years. Dead Congregation are one of the best, if not its best contributors.

If you like this, it's safe to say you like death metal, as it is in its core. Along with Cruciamentum, they are my top suggestions in this field.

Promulgation of the Fall has highlight tracks through and through, but my favorites are: "Only Ashes Remain", "Nigredo" (also spawned the brother band with the same name), "Immaculate Poison" and "Serpentskin".

Track listing:
1. Only Ashes Remain
2. Promulgation of the Fall
3. Serpentskin
4. Quintessence Maligned
5. Immaculate Poison
6. Nigredo
7. Schisma
8. From a Wretched Womb

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Listen on Bandcamp


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Grammy Awards 2019 - Best Metal Performance

A few days ago, the glamorous and glorious event of the Grammy Awards took place where an expertise group of people decides, as always, the best moments of music of the previous year. As much as it doesn't mean shit to actual music listeners, I realized it's just a lot of fun to follow it. 

The metal section this year had the following entries:

Between the Buried and Me - Condemned to the Gallows
High on Fire - Electric Messiah
Deafheaven - Honeycomb
Trivium - Betrayer
Underoath - On My Teeth

And for the first time in history, I was surprised and pleased by the result: High on Fire actually won this, which means: High on Fire now have a Grammy Award on their belts. It is like fake news, but it's real. I'm so glad the overrated as fuck Deafheaven lost. Take that, non-musical bands like Trivium and Underoath, yes, yeees! I would have never guessed this would be the outcome. Between the Buried and Me's track is rather fine, and I'm not a big fan of the winners either, but it is just wonderful that it happened.

No picks here are a surprise, and by no means "Electric Messiah" is the best metal performance of the year. However, compared to the rest of the bands, which are all in the bad part of the mainstream, came second to a stoner / heavy rock song. Times are wild.

If I were to put them in the right order: BTBAM, High on Fire, Underoath, Deafheaven, Trivium

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