Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Here is a release that comes, as no surprise to most of their long time fans, as simply incredible! No one should expect any less from these experienced black metallers. Silencing Machine was released recently on July 31st on Century Media Records. This is an album that has tons of replay value, and takes you through a series of vast emotions, most of them very dark, if you didn't already know! They accomplish this through their very accomplished musicianship, and with the way the whole songs come together. They are also able to mix influences without mixing genres. It is all these things that make this album stand out!
The cover art of this beastly bastard describes the feeling of the album perfectly. It is dark but not in a way that makes you want to kill yourself. It is more of "I can feel the power of evil making me stronger" thing. The album starts out with fast paced black metal excellence, that transitions into an upbeat version of the riff that ties into the evil power for-mentioned. The songs also seem to move between one another very well, not jumping from one thing to another too often. Track number 4 is a very stand out track that keeps the dark feeling but at the same time making you want to conquer. Truly amazing stuff in every track that makes it come together as a whole.
Aside from the genius guitar work presented one of the stand out qualities that shows influence (without changing the genre). Take the title track for example, at 4:38 there is a stellar guitar break that busts into an upbeat riff that really makes you want to head bang and get up and mosh! But at the same time they never loose the black metal character. About midway through that gnarly riffing there is a guitar lead that will just make you want to pull your face off.
This is a solid release and there isn't really anything that takes away from being a flawless release. That is very opinionated, but when looking for an excellent black metal release this has everything to offer. Please don't pass up on this! They will be announcing tour dates soon! Check them out anyway you can!
Favorite Tracks: Dawn Over the Ruins in Jerusalem, Silencing Machine, I Wait in Hell, These Rooms In Which We Weep
Saturday, August 18, 2012
It’s funny when you lower your expectations of new releases so much that when you hear something that’s actually good, it blows your mind. Ashencult break that scale altogether. A relatively knew band, originating from Philly, PA, they released their debut album Black Flame Gnosis on May 31 of this year. This four-piece black metal band whose members go simply by initials, it’s quite clear, aren’t shy in demonstrating their love for melodic black metal titans Dissection. Not only the similar riffing, but small things like the occasional acoustic intro/outro or even some of the drum fills make this similarity especially evident. Notwithstanding that this style of melodic black metal is by no means original, one would be hard pressed to find a band better imitating it today; and that’s not to say that this album is a complete rip-off, either; no, Ashencult incorporate their own little preferences into their music, be it a black/thrash break or even some punky tendencies here and there.
The most astonishing song on this album is easily “Dark Law/Black Fires of Chaos,” which starts off with an acoustic intro, transitioning into some of the best melodic black metal riffing to be heard in the foreseeable future; and it’s hard not to feel an incredible urge to pound your fists and head over and over once the drums come in to push the song fully forward. There’s no doubt as to the riffs being the best part of this album; they dominate it, flooding songs with sundry and varied (almost perfectly varied, it should be said) sharp black metal riffing, tremolo bursts and black/thrash breaks being thrown left and right. And I reiterate--the variation on this album is perfect. One moment a melodic riff is played, the next you’re pounded on by a groovy black/thrash riff (“A Glorious Elegy” has an especially good one). It keeps things interesting. But the rest of the instruments, including the vocals, are near-equally deserving of strong accolades. The powerful drumming does a lot for the music, the drummer of whom seems to have a strong penchant for striking as powerfully as possible; definitely a pro. And the violent and aggressive vocals shriek and growl in both high and low tones; reminding one, perhaps, of the singer of Bethlehem mixed in with a lot of Dissection, but kicked up a thousand notches. These ear-piercing shrieks are especially apparent in the melodic points of “Plague Revelation.”
This album has so many riffs that it's hard to be sure when one song ends and another one begins. Ashencult by far exceed most of the black metal bands releasing material today. Why those bands are signed and Ashencult aren’t, I will never know. But it’s more than obvious that these black metal fanatics probably won’t ever disappoint with future releases, and in that there’s some comfort to be found. Black Flame Gnosis has just placed itself as my favorite black metal album yet of 2012. No doubt once more people hear of them, they’ll fill the same position for them as well. Who knows what other bands are currently recording in their studios, about to release the next best album of 2012? I lie in wait. But until then, it would be a wise move to keep a close eye out for Ashencult.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
For those few people still ignorant of their existence, Deathspell Omega of France are a three-piece black metal/avant-garde band, formed in 1998, and who have in recent years made a name for themselves as a result of their incredible musical and creative capabilities; “breaking the boundaries,” one could say, of a genre-gone-stale in desperate need of revival. With their tremendous 2010 release “Paracletus,” they even went beyond their own self-set boundaries, firmly cementing themselves as the pioneers of a still-flourishing take on black metal. Two years, a compilation and an EP later, they have come back with a fresh new offering, “Drought,” a reminder of the reason why we (those of us who did) became such avid fans in the first place, and why we should stick around for subsequent releases. Arguably one of the most influential black metal bands of our time, this has been (at least on my part) a highly anticipated release, and DsO did not let down; not in the least. In this release they incorporate an even larger focus on the ambient and post-rock spectrum of their music; all the while demolishing everything in their path.
The soothing yet eerily tranquil piece “Salow Vision” starts off the EP on a relatively slow note, easing you into the whirlwind of brutality that follows with elements evocative of post-rock and a poignancy not often heard in their music with such outpouring of emotion. (A note of similarity can be found here with “Paracletus,” as “Epiklesis I” also kicked that album off rather slowly). “Fiery Serpents,” the next track on the EP, blasts with their trademark sound of dissonance after dissonance, complex structures, and incredibly talented instrumentation for which they have made themselves known. But it’s not until “Scorpions & Drought” that we truly hear the extent to which DsO will go in terms of brutality, technicality and precision, more reminiscent of “Paracletus” than any new deviation in style. As in "Abrasive Swirling Murk," chaotic blast beats driving alongside highly complex structures are heard occasionally, though not nearly as much as in earlier releases; replaced instead by slower drumming and less frantic guitars. And, to my slight dismay, DsO have abandoned--or at least dimished in--the malign and raw evil that their earlier works tended to emit.
The final track on the EP, “The Crackled Book of Life,” closes off the EP with a groovy and--yes, you’re reading it correctly--catchy main riff, and despite its complete lack of anything black metal, it might actually be one of the better tracks off the EP. From start to finish, “Drought” drives through its 20 minutes’ worth of new material with speed and power, and enough dissonance for any DsO fan, not to mention the slower and equally amazing post-rock tracks. But even though quite dramatic changes in pace are heard, it’s hard not to be astonished by the incredible flow and seamlessness with which this EP was written. And, unlike its predecessor “Paracletus,” or, even before that, “Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum,” DsO seem to have opted for coherence rather than the absolute and utter chaos with which the latter was filled. It’s strange, though, that it can all at once be called a substantially brutal release and simultaneously surprise with its not-too-overpowering ambient, post-rock and progressive elements. This EP will easily establish itself as one of the standouts of DsO’s entire discography; a job damn well done.