Saturday, 14 December 2019

Top 10 non-metal Releases of 2019

I would ideally prefer this list to be fused with the rest of the albums and not be separate, however metal is such a different and bigger story which makes it pretty hard to compare, considering the difference in the amount of albums listened in each category. I don't follow any specific bands either, more like listening to whatever I can get my hands on with a few filters that I have in my head depending on what I enjoy. 


10. Kadavar - For the Dead Travel Fast
9. La Dispute - Panorama
8. Meitei - Komachi
7. State Faults - Clairvoyant
6. Thom Yorke - ANIMA
5. The Caretaker - Everywhere, an Empty Bliss
4. Brutus – Nest
3. Pelican – Nighttime Stories
2. Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence
1. Lingua Ignota - Caligula

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Top 10 Demos and EPs of 2019

Since mixing the smaller duration releases with full-lengths has never been right, it's wiser to make separate lists with the highlight demos and Extended Plays (EPs) of the year. An additional reason to that is that many bands focus on the release of an EP at a given year instead of a full album, not to mention underground black metal bands solely sticking to demo territories. If you choose to focus on full-lengths only, there's a fair amount of music you're going to miss, but again one sadly can't listen to everything. I myself don't go into demos that much, or to put it in a different way, demos take up the 1/20th of what I will listen to in a year, or maybe less. There are two lists below, one for my favorite EPs and one for the demos, take a nice break into poorly produced gems for now.

~ Top ten demos of 2019 ~

(11. Ish Kerioth - One Of The Twelve)
10. Gråinheim – Aries
9. Sedimentum - Demo
8. Lamp of Murmuur - Melancholy Howls in Ceremonial Penitence 
7. Skelethal - Antropomorphia
6. Chthonic Deity – Reassembled In Pain
5. Minnesjord – Agrura
4. Baxaxaxa – The Old Evil
3. Tornmód - Fullmoon Misanthropy
2. Blood Tyrant - The Realm That Brings Forth Death
1. Kommodus – An Imperial Sun Rises 

~ Top ten EPs of 2019 ~

10. Drowning the Light – A Gleam in the Eye of Set
9. Hellripper – Black Arts & Alchemy
8. Tsjuster - Swarte Heap
7. Monarque - Jusqu'à la Mort
6. Ateiggär - Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt
5. Bölzer – Lese Majesty
4. Ectovoid – Inner Death
3. Ripped to Shreds - Demon Scriptures
2. Volahn - El Tigre del Sur
1. Panopticon – The Crescendo of Dusk

I was never into Panopticon too much, despite all the praise they get from all sides and the obvious overwhelming talent. Yet the two tracks from this EP I'm listening to everyday. Apart from that, take the rest of the releases numbered above one by one and you will not miss out!

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Top 10 Beers Tried in 2019

Until last year, I was a low hanging fruit when it came to the world of beer, in fact I thought it wasn't worth the time or money. Just a few months ago I decided to look into it more after a talk with some friends, and this realization became reality. The variety in taste and experimentation of beer brewing is much vaster than you think, and after it grows on you, it gets clearer and clearer that exploring craft breweries is one of the best activities on planet earth. I only got Untappd in April so that's when I starting having a helper of keeping track, yet I don't think I tried anything too extraordinary before that. I'm open for a judgmental deconstruction from all the beer experts out there, keep in mind though that I don't care about other important parts of my life, so imagine how much I don't care about you. I grew a love for stouts (rule of thumb in life is, the darker it is, the better!) so the first spots are occupied accordingly. 

10. The Lost Abbey - Judgement Day | Quadruple Ale - ABV: 10.2%
9. Katsika | Pale Ale - ABV: 5.4%
8. Orkney Brewery - Skull Splitter | Scotch Ale - ABV: 8.5%
7. Einstök - Icelandic Pale Ale | APA - ABV: 5.6%
6. Electric Curse - Dark Skull (feat. Victor Brandt) | Imperial Stout - ABV: 10.7%
5. Kykao & Marmita - Summer Session IPA | Indian Session Ale - ABV: 5% [a very interesting case of a session beer with 100 IBU (!!) that was well balanced and pleasingly drinkable]
4. Pine Ridge Brewery - The Big Beautiful Walrus | Imperial Stout - ABV: 10.5%
3. Dugges Bryggeri (collab. with Omnipollo) - Anagram Bourbon Barrel Aged Blueberry Cheesecake Stout | Imperial Stout - ABV: 15% [felt like the best liquid cake I ever had]
2. Lervig - TIMES 8 | Pastry Stout - ABV: 16% [the boss of all pastry stouts that were and will be in the future]
1. Yria Cervezas & Seven Island Brewery - Nicta | Russian Imperial Stout - ABV: 17% [stood up and started clapping when I tasted this magnificent beast of a beer]

Music posts will return in a few days, and maybe earlier than in the previous years, see you in a while.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Top 15 Greek Releases of 2019

Instead of releasing one post every other day close to the ending of the year, and since it's unclear to me how much time i will have later in December, I will be posting some lists throughout the whole month. The fuller list will be posted at the end as the always, which is worked on since a week ago. Every year I usually cover EPs, Greek metal, generally good albums, I decided to stop mentioning disappointments separately since 2013, a non-metal and a metal list, so I will follow this recipe for 2019 but with slight deviations. Here are my favorite releases from Greece for the year, which are mixed from everything I listened to. I expected more from some bands, other bands surprised me, yet apart from a couple of exceptions I don't prefer 2019 over the previous years when it comes to the country's music.


15. Dark Messiah - Echoes of War [Listen]
14. Murder Made God - Endless Return [Listen]
13. Akantha - Baptism in Psychical Analects [Listen]
13. Sores - Sores [Listen]
12. Darchon - Οἰωνός [Listen]
11. Arthuros - Ithildin [Listen]
10. Ectoplasma - White-Eyed Trance [Listen]
9. Antimob - II [Listen]
8. Planet of Zeus - Faith in Physics [Listen]
6. Aiμα - Tragos [Listen]
7. Their Methlab - The Last Second [Listen]
6. Chronoboros - The Mass Saw Acres of Chain [Listen]
5. Apognosis - Dominion in Polarity [Listen]
4. Order of the Ebon Hand - VII: The Chariot [Listen]
3. Dizziness - Reroute [Listen]
2. Xylouris White - The Sisypheans [Listen]
1. Akrotheism - Law of Seven Deaths [Listen]

Apart from the full lengths, a few mini-albums also made it out (in no particular order):

Human Serpent - The Vacuity (EP)
Stiletto - Poserkiller (Demo)
Hate Manifesto - Herald of Triumph (EP)
Askalaphos - Demo 
Utkena - The Firmament's Hand (EP)
Amestigon / Heretic Cult Redeemer (Split)
Imprecation / Black Blood Invocation (Split)



Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Lord Mantis - Universal Death Church

Origin: USA
Label: Profound Lore Records
Release: November 22nd, 2019


I had initially found out about Lord Mantis when I was looking for other bands with Aamonael of Avichi, and for some reason I thought of them being his side project. It turns out he joined a bit later and only during the time of their previous release NTW, I realized. Lord Mantis have a bunch of known American musicians, like Ken Sorceron of Abigail Williams and latest Cobalt singer, Charlie Fell. The previous Indian drummer (R.I.P.) also played here at some point.

The band's distasteful nature always appealed to me, but to an extent of just enjoying this brand of blackened sludge and not more than that. All their material from this decade are top-notch, and guarantee an uncomfortable listen to people who are willing to step outside of their comfort zone when it comes to their preferences. The newest album Universal Death Church, is more metallic in the sound of the guitars and vocals, features infectious guitar work, is well-written and as filthy as before.

Not always does an album succeed in having memorable moments in every tune, and that's what happens with the contents of Universal Death Church. The elements of sludge, black metal, Lord Mantis-like grooves, distorted ambiance, all co-exist as if it's 2012 and we're back to Pervertor, but this time more monstrous. And if you get into it, hold tight for the first two tracks "Santa Fuerte" and "God's Animal", which might seem more simplistic than you would like, in case you are unaware of the band. The compositions get much more interesting by the third track "Qliphotic Alpha".

But even these aforementioned two, have the successful nuances that don't turn them into filler tracks. The vocals in Lord Mantis always reminded me of a faster version of Indian, and maybe this is even more apparent in Universal Death Church. The ups and downs the record takes with its tracks never drop it too low, yet the monumental tracks that are "Damocles Falls" and "Fleshworld", especially the closing "Hole", can never be in the same league as "Consciousness.exe" for example, which is just a solid piece.

That's the reason why Universal Death Church closes with its three most powerful compositions, not to mention the brilliant guest work on the saxophone by Bruce Lamont on the last track, something that can be picked up right away by ear. "Fleshworld" has some lines moving more into traditional black metal and what it achieves is wondrous and terrifying. I couldn't see their previous albums as a whole, but this, with all its small missteps, walks perfectly fine as a potent unit.

Lord Mantis have not changed a lot since they started and there is no need, especially when they have mastered their sound that good. There is nothing else one would ask from this project and Universal Death Church is definitely for the attention of all the fans. I will be listening to half the tracks from the album again and again for the near future, or maybe the whole of it just for the feels it provokes. Exceptionally good work from a talented band that hadn't done it until now, for me.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Schammasch - Hearts of No Light

Origin: Switzerland
Label: Prosthetic Records
Release: November 8th, 2019


Steadily growing in popularity for the last decade, Schammasch have in their discography two long-talked albums, especially Triangle from 2016, which received a bulky amount of media praise. The determined and ambitious nature of the band draws the attention of listeners outside black metal, and they have won a commendable piece of the scene with their music and evolution during the recent years. Speaking for myself, I was never engrossed to any of their previous material, yet it is an act well inside the radar.

The new work Hearts of No Light is an hour and seven minutes long tome, since they were not shy already from the previous album to create a lengthy release. While Triangle was a journey in three parts, Hearts of No Light has one composition significantly longer than the rest (the last track), which pushes its whole duration to that point. The production is clear and charges a powerful atmosphere, right from the introductory, soaring piano piece "Winds that Pierce the Silence". Then hits a ferocious moment in the record, which is the brilliant track "Ego Sum Omega".

All the malevolent guitar melodies, the shrieked vocals, the compositional mastery of the band, are unfolding and taking over. The musicianship is on point, delivering interesting and filthy riffs, building a certain, chaotic feeling that characterizes the rest of the album too, at least for the most part. Keyboards are kept in use throughout, over the different tunes. Schammasch's compelling sound and their not completely traditional palette makes them very interesting to listen to, as the record surely has some highlight moments all around.

Some experimentation is working like a charm in Hearts of No Light, like the connecting track "A Bridge Ablaze", where I especially like the use of the piano with a more modern percussion approach, something that would even fit in a darker than usual trip-hop band. On the other hand, there is a strange part in "I Burn Within You", with frantic vocals and unstable keyboards, which feels as if the listener has stepped into an aural wormhole and into a Carach Angren record. Thinking of the whole atmosphere that the rest of the album has built, I thought that segment was very much out of place, even though the second part of that song is at least solid.

Things get back in track with "A Paradigm of Beauty", which has plain clean vocals coming from a passionate hard rock / post-punk group of a different time. Schammasch are feeling free to jam a bit in this track and even going to more psychedelic rock ideas, before crushing down with heavier lines in "Katabasis". It's quite pleasant to listen to that, as well as the combination of elements from different background they are employing. The fifteen minute long ending track "Innermost, Lowermost Abyss" is almost ritualistic, and it could be classified as a long dark ambient outro to Hearts of No Light, also justifying the title of the album.

It makes perfect sense for part of the audience to have admiration for this band, and while listening to Hearts of No Light, it is by no means a mediocre record. It is a multi-layered and challenging release, yet for me it was not flawless. Some halting moments in "Qadmon's Heir" or "Rays Like Razors" were longer than needed, "I Burn Within You" was turbulent, but as a whole we are talking about a very solid album that grows and you and has a lot to explore. Schammasch have not disappointed, and that comes from someone who is not a wholehearted fan of the band.

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