LEGIONS OF ASTAROTH (USA): “The Moon Bleeds Red Upon the Earth” split Cd-r with HELLGOAT 2005 Vile Art

hellgoat / Legions of Astaroth

I was not hugely impressed by Hellgoat and by jove, I am underwhelmed by Legions of Astaroth as well. Like I said before fuzzy sound is by no means a turn down for me, but the kind of music this band is playing definitely could gain some points with something better than a bedroom rehearsal sound. We have some sloppy galloping here too, but as with Hellgoat they’re kept to a minimum and maybe, if we could hear the guitars, they could be not terribly bothering. Like with the other band in the split, I find the vocals the best element in the mix, as the drums do what they’re supposed to do in a good black metal band, that is blasting. Can’t say much more as it’s quite difficult to hear what they are pretending to be playing here.

And that’s it, I don’t have much more to add, as it is it sounds like some ordinary bestial death/black metal band. I guess Astaroth didn’t inspire very much the band.

HELLGOAT (USA): “Moonlight Ritual” split Cd-r with LEGIONS OF ASTAROTH 2005 Vile Art

hellgoat / Legions of Astaroth

If I was a stalwart defender of high-fidelity sound I could have never enjoyed bands like Apator or Black Mass Of Absu, yet we’re at a severely dangerous level here in terms of shitty sound. Luckily enough Hellgoat does not use the oxidized camera mic as a trick to recreate dismal landscape of shit like early Burzum. I will proceed in reviewing this split demo with a good share of my cognitive capacity focused on the health of my speakers, though, as they have been crackling and popping dangerously since the very first second. Whet we have is is rather plain, almost indistinguishable Black Metal with decent vocals. The cover of this slimcase is just a color-xeroxed piece of paper with song titles written by hand, but you know, I generally like disadvantaged people. The music is as repetitive and uninspiring as you can imagine, but I find some interesting ideas, if only I could discern a little bit more on what’s going on. Might be a good stuff for lovers of the aforementioned bands, or Gonkulator, as it’s not funeral shit Black Metal but something closer to Death/Black is labels still do matter something today. What I mean is there is some structure here, some fairly evocative riffing, flesh ripping vocals and so on. They sometime fall into the mid-tempo danger zone (and I HATE the mid tempo gallop) but it’s not something hugely intrusive. I guess it’s one of those cases a little fuller production could have mattered (or a slightly more basic songwriting if we want to keep it minimalist and indulge on the cave sound).

LACERATER (Ita): “Nessun Urlo Nell’Ombra” demo Cd 2007 s/p

lacerater-nessunurlo

I forgot the intense pain of reviewing a Death Metal Cd whose lyrics are sung in Italian since maybe… Resurrecturis? Ouch! In any case, this promo comes with a decent pro packaging and full color slimcase. I won’t indulge right now on the cover art which, while interesting in concept (maggots are always cool), is arranged quite awkwardly (something just seems out of place), so I jump straight to the inner side where lyrics are printed (think font on a dark background, my eyes thank you). I have to stress it: am really uncomfortable with the Italian language but I confess that could be  because I never heard a band using the language convincingly, after all if we consider the assonance it can’t be much worse than Spanish or Portuguese right? And we all like South American bands that sing in these idioms right? Whatever.

Yet I also had another, veiled, prejudice on Lacerater since the band is from my city of birth, and despite having been close to that scene since the very beginning I can’t honestly claim that a city like Bologna ever shined in the musical landscape. Sure there are highlights in the story of extreme Metal from that city (Crematorium and Euthanasia were quite good as well as some grindcore side projects) but mostly the scene has always been quite flat especially considering the important universities there attract young blood from all over the country. One would expect such melting pot to produce quality stuff by the score, after all.

Well I have to admit I was wrong, TWICE. Not only the songwriting on this demo is rather solid (shoving my prejudices up my arse) but the choice of singing in my language didn’t damage the quality of the product whatsoever. I am still not sure it not to sing in English was a proper choice, but being extreme Metal a form of art I accept it as a thoroughly consolidated and well thought choice. Lacerater surely has some good blasts on these tracks, and the double vocal (growling/screaming) duty is quite intense, but straight out brutality is not the main topic here, it seems this band is mainly interested in writing songs that do have both head and tail and a whole lot of stuff in between with plenty of space for some improvements on the technical parts for the future as well. I have heard bands on Cudgel or Morbid which were way worse that this so I assume it is a matter of time before Lacerater finds a contract. I am reading right now the band is on hold, which is a pity since this stuff is rather good. They are basically ondulating between uptempo riffing and blasting, never giving a real breathing space. I won’t call it Death/Grind, but it is certainly good solid Death Metal with  lashes of grinding fury thrown in. Good stuff, worth hearing.

ASCENDED (Fin): “The Art Of Necromancy” demo Cd-r 2008 s/p

Ascended - The Art Of Necromancy

There was a time, in the first part of the nineties, when I was totally obsessed with Finnish Death + Black Metal. Of course Sweden had THE scene, but bands like Purtenance, Archgoat, Demilich, Xysma or Depravity (and I can go on forever) had that special, unearthly feel that just took the most extreme genres and made each one of them even colder and darker. Finland just meant “sickness” in its most undiluted form, blacker Black Metal and darker Death Metal. Time went on and basically every one of these bands either disbanded or turned into some shitty rockn’roll a la Lubricant. Time to forget about Finland for a while… but like the Swedish scene has been resurrected, so seem the Finnish one has its good share of new talent to exhume, and this Ascended is really among the best ones I heard in a long, long time. Like for other old demos on the blogzine, Ascended actually recorded more stuff after this demo, but having been mostly an inactive couch potato for more than 5 years it was a great surprise for me to hear we have still great death/doom being concocted among the cold swamps of Fennoscandia. This excellent demo Cd-r was handnumbered to 100 copies but mine has no number so I guess is part of a second batch. The packaging is bare as it should be with classical lineart on the cover and very simple inlay (lyrics, general infos and so on).

The thing I love more about this demo is the sound of the drums. They reverberates like a gong, filling the whole soundwave with a distant, omnipresent, evocative vibe. Every beat seems to raise the atmosphere to the next level of dismal oblivion. The band is VERY different, but I can find some common feel with, early Eucharist or Necros Christos on the slower, more abstract, detached  moments.  Ascended is however not an entirely Death Metal band and there are no melodies of sort in their sound. I think they can arguably be defined as Death Metal with some good Doom/Death influences, but I don’t think they can be rated as a strictly Death/Doom band either. They are grinding slow at times, and almost obsessive in dragging riffs forever in an hypnotic way, but I will not use any other term but good, solid Death Metal. The vocals are deep and monumental, just like the music. This demo is a cathedral of sound, with an obscure halo hovering over it.

Thanks Finland for still being present.

NAUSEANT (Swe): “ILN” demo Cd-r 2009 s/p

Nauseant ILN

Now this is finally something really interesting. There’s this dissonant, progressive-schizoid aspect in Stockholm’s Nauseant that is really something we don’t hear every day. We’re not talking about some shredding guitar display or some crossover incursion into Jazz or some other irrelevant genre, but about really atonal Death Metal in the vein of Demilich, Carbonized or the more recent Diskord. I really do like when a band has the courage to attempt a trip into these indistinct lands of intricate melodies, always turning and weaving and morphing into another identity. And I like it even more when the sound remains strongly rooted in dismal Death Metal – for being indistinct and avant-garde doesn’t necessarily mean sewing together a million different genres. Nauseant is ever-changing, ever reshaping, but still maintain identity in its sound and feel, with hyper-guttural vocals as a static basement over which the song is shaped. I cannot tell much about the lyrics since they’re not included here (but hey, it was cool to read my copy is one of 30 hand-numbered Cd-rs!). The packaging is bare and essential, just a warped abstract column of flesh with a logo close to it, the kind of bare necessary I appreciate in a demo tape Cd-r. I cannot recommend this one enough, I would like to hear more bands like this.

ABHORROT (Aut): “Death In Blasphemy” demo Cd-r 2008 s/p

Abhorrot - Death In BlasphemyI just wanted to skip on the countless useless promos and dug up the ones I enjoyed the most. Abhorrot is a band that just did it right (according to my own vision of this stuff that is) on this demo. Basically EVERYTHING is right here, and I will start with the amazing sounding name (I bet they were Finnish ah ah!), killer logo, great sketched artwork. I am one of the ones that got this on CDr which is cool, even though this is definitely tape stuff (I read some of these demos came out on tape too), I admit I would really like every single Death Metal demo came out this way, no frills shitty art, dripping logo and rough paper, nothing else. There is no real booklet but the other side of the cover keeps it old school: typewriter fonts, impossibly dark picture, and a scattering of song titles like “DIE IN PAIN”. Now I’d like to give a Nobel prize to any band that comes out with a title like this, I am serious. And then you have “Eternal Decay” and “Death in Blasphemy” which are equally ultimate Death Metal titles as well. And let’s not forget the Nihlist cover.

Being recorded in some place called “The Cellar” you cannot really expect Morrisound, can you? Here it is: pure cellar sound, and I believe they’re talking about a REAL cellar, not some studio with a cool name. The sound is as fuzzy and degenerated as you can imagine, and the rehearsal sound is just a perfect fit for the incredibly basic riffing we have here, it’s like some extremely early Death Metal recording from 1990 with guttural growls and a slightly drone metallic sound. Of course I do not  think a band should end his path here since a little bit of structure is mandatory even in Death Metal but what I liked is that I was n0t able to hear anything so refreshingly primal for many years. The band subsequently released some more stuff so the sound here is probably not even fairly indicative of their latest efforts but it is a nice demo to hear in a time where 13-years old freaks are able to blast 10000 bps hyper-technical riffs. Nice addition for a complete DM collection: guttural vocals, primitive riffing, sloppy (in a cool way) drumming and so on, just as it was.

IMPRECATION (USA): “Sigil Of Baphomet” Ep 7″ 1993 Drowned

Imprecation sigil Of Baphomet

Let’s open the weekly “flashback” review with one of my favorite Eps. I have heard often the name of Imprecation of late and every time I hear it this 7″ immediately comes to mind. Well there are several things that make this one of my favorite records, first and foremost the concept, Black Metal. When I speak of Black Metal i don’t speak about granny vocals and buzzing guitars, I speak of Black Metal as a conceptual thing, much like what the call today “the first wave” when being a Black Metal had nothing to do with the sound. Imprecation had its roots profoundly dug into the occult, with added elements of Lovecraftian horror in the best early Morbid Angel way, plus an added touch of gore, which is just something I am obsessed with and always live in an extreme metal band.

“Sigil Of Baphomet” is a Drowned Records release, and we basically all know how Drowned was possibly one of the best labels around before 1993 in terms of both sound and aesthetics. How all this was progressively lost with Repulse and totally canceled in Xtreem is still a matter of speculation, but for sure Drowned is in my top 10 personal best labels of all time, from the earlier compilation tapes (might be reviewing them one day) up to records like Purtenance, Demigod or Rottrevore. Everything in this label reeked of decrepit Death Metal and old books, and even the artwork was always in line with the concept that some labels try to recapture today (hey, I am not blaming anybody here, I am one of those eheh!).

In particular this 7″ had this deep red and black print which was an exact expression of the sound, claustrophobic and eerie at the same time. It came with an insert too, with lyrics, band pics and the so incredibly useful thank list that was our main source of information on the new bands to check out.

I personally find this Ep also has the best tracks that this band ever recorded, way darker and heavier and suffocating than the demo they recorded right before, and the newer tracks they recorded in 1994 found in the later classic Repulse compilation “Theurgia Goetia Summa”. The sound here is absolutely nothing short of frightening, a real trip to an hell of dismembered limbs and rivers of gore regurgitated by an horde of cloven-hooved demons. Try to follow the unrelenting slow crunch of the songs reading the lyrics and you find yourself entangled in a dimension of blood red horror. Incantation Eps or “Onward To Golgotha” days are definitely the first albums you can relate this record to, but there is something that keeps it on a different track. I find Imprecation a little bit more brutal, and straight in your face in their approach compared to early Incantation (which, honestly, remain unparalleled in style). i personally like this garage, muffled sound because it really brings me to a dungeon where corpses are hung to hooks ready for being sacrificed to some dark entity. Not a lot more to say, this is an all time classic in my favorite format that is 7″ vinyl, so I know this would be one of the ones I will keep if I had to choose among the best in my collection.

The Ep dissected