Oggi il Dottor Marciume ascolta: Abruptum “The Satanist Tunes” demo tape, unholy black misanthropic glossopoeia from Sweden, 1990.
What do you get when you put together an evil dwarf and an alcoholist? You get the best of combinations for some of the best Black Met.. well, Music, ever from Scandinavia. The interior “mal de vivre” of these two guys on this tape is so thick and real you could almost feel it on your skin. This Abruptum recording is not just music, it’s an experience in the misanthropic folly of lost deviated humanity. It’s dissonance and distorted melodies, an unholy abandonment in the shores of suicide, it’s noise/grind meets dungeon ambient, with the best alcoholic vocal performances by the guy who calls itself All (who did basically nothing of interest ever again besides Abruptum, if we exclude some Ophtalamia). Listening to this tape even in the best of your days is guaranteed to fuck your mood bad. A tribute to a shapeless horror lurking within an unholy beyond and a true (probably involuntary) masterpiece of glossopoeia. Pure Black Metal at its finest.
PS: Please if you want to get this, get Sound Pollution represses, do not buy anything by Southern Lord, BOYCOTT beard hipsters!
Oggi il Dottor Marciume ascolta: Black Prophecies “Azathoth” demo, Black Metal from Genova, s/p 1988
Before the post-“Hammerheart” deviation and nazi roleplayers raised in Iraq there was a time when Black Metal was still a name known to few and dealt with scary esoterica and horror. Among the handful of bands that pioneered the genre in the ’80s we had the great local Black Prophecies who, a bit like Morbid Angel, mixed elements of lovecraftian cosmic horror with the dark side of religion. Along with other bands like Poison, Semen of Satan or Hastur from Peru these bands defined the term Black Metal at its best, when despite (and because of) almost unintelligible rehearsal quality you get the sense of absolute loss and perdition, of being caught in a maelstrom of formless beings of teeth and horns ripping you to pieces but while Death Metal intends to inflict pain to your soul outwards from the rending of flesh, this music was supposed to tear apart straight at the soul, bringing pain outwards from the inner self. There are screams of agony in this putrid mass of sound that resemble a grotesque reassembling of extreme metal elements, the inch by inch skinning of the spirit done through the olystic combination of atmosphere and brutal demonic violence: the riffs are straight to the point, at the same time minimalist but ripe of negative energy, and the evocative, tribal drumming perfect for the job, sometimes everything slows down to a grinding, scary atmosphere that defines the term BLACK. It’s part Medieval Prophecy AND part Christ’s Death, you’re damn lucky you can get it in the brilliant collection that Terror From Hell Records released in 2012.
I usually don’t like to combine reviews but here is a first taste of how the new Nuclear Abomination is going to work: way less structure, more feel, less detail. Besides, I was about to switch the blog-zine to Italian until yesterday but analyzing the stats it seems the broad majority of the readers that have not abandoned the webzine (like I did, ah eh) are from other countries, so English has to be..
Anyway back to Abhorrot: great guys with lot of patience since I got this advance over a a year ago. Besides having among the best great dripping and festering logos these guys have reserched and absorbed the aesthetics of minimal Death Metal with great care. I had a glimpse of the cover art for the MLp on their website and it sure looks great. The 7″ too has the bare minimum. As usual, less is more and hacking away at superfluous stuff can’t but be an improvement. It’s just a pity the artwork on the 7″ is so dark, I could barely understand what is represented and the logo almost disappears in the shades (there is also a very big problem in the cover art as well – the resolution is fucked up and the artwork is grossly depixelated).
Sticking to the concept of minimalism, their music can’t really be described otherwise but minimalist, and that’s still another plus in my book. The sound is so dissonant and weirdly tuned that it sounds like a constant buzz, like a Death Metal version of Gonkulator or something. Once you resign this drone-like carpet of sound, the vocals also suddently spring out and are quite raspy and coarse. I don’t know if this is a pre-mix, but the sound is so abrasive that even Order From Chaos would sound polished. The songs on the MLp differ quite a bit from those of the 7″ (or the previously reviewed Cd-r demo by the way), the sound being even more noisy and indistinct, but at the same time a bit more intricate. I personally prefere the ones on the 7″, which have a darker, fuller sound, still adehering to the precepts of mono-riffing. In any case you must have in mind that this stuff is RAW, fuck, very VERY raw, it’s not your average last minute old-school band. I had this kind of sensations when I first heard Voivod, or Revenge. They also make a good and spare use of samples. All in all good Death/Noise shit.
8+ for the Ep and 8 for the Mini.
Get in touch with Terrorghoul Productions for the 7″ (limited to 500) or Yersinia Pestis for the MLp. I am getting a copy too.
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.
I 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.
Technically speaking there is nothing objectionable in this Ep, and I loved it when I read that the ten songs on it are on the average less than a minute long. I hated when I saw the punchhole on the back inlay though. Is it so discomforting for a label to think promotion is being paid those 4 meager euros an editor can haggle by selling a second hand Cd? Not that I will ever sell a promo Cd (it’s against my ethics) but like I have said ad nauseam – and I will keep saying it every time I see a punchole or a cutout or any kind of marks on a promo – I pretend to be paid the 80 cents a label pays for a Cd plus postage for using my time to publish it on this e-zine/blogzine/whatever (yeah even with 5 years of delay, eh eh). Hell, I have to recognize that labels do not even send promos anymore. I just delete the promo-download offers when I get that shit in my email inbox. Do they really ask you to download promos? Sure, why don’t you ask me to buy it, lose an hour writing a review and promote it for free?
Like I said before there is nothing wrong in this Ep. There’s even a super slick neogrind-willowtip-di-sto-cazzo layout with all those scratches and Photoshop layers overlapped like pros. The layout is balanced and we got all the necessary infos from recording details to thank lists. This at least looks like a 15 minutes Ep one could actually spend some money on, at least from the visuals.
“Nothing wrong” could be “not enough” when we talk about music, though. Considering the multitude of records circulating these days, even a recording with careful and well studied structures like these might not be enough. When the band plays Rotten Sound it works pretty well, as the sound is thick enough to stand the hyperspeed blasting. There are two things however that just don’t click into my chords. The first and foremost is the terrible vocals that sometimes creep in. Some sort of painful scream that just blabbers “we have arrived to the neogrind bandwagon”. Don’t get me wrong, when the band blasts it cam blast heavy and through, but then they have those fucking shitty beyond belief dissonant slow Neurosis-like bridges that I just can’t stand. Were they fast all the time I would have appreciated the Ep somehow. The problem is really the high pitched screams that are as brutal as cracker crumbs on a bed sheet. Just a few songs for people that like this stuff, as for myself, when I reached the second part of track 5 I felt the urge to get a gun and shoot the Cd player.
Ahhhh! When Nuclear Abominations first became a webzine in 1999, one of the most boring things to do was scanning covers. It was outrageously boring shit, yet it was cool at the same time since it was difficult to see underground record covers, especially when we talk about very old releases. Am I complaining like an old sailor here? Hell no! All I had to do this time was just Google-ing the name of this compilation and, like magic, here is the cover. Man, these are really great times for lazy fucks like me. I wouldn’t even have to open the Cd, I could just listen to this on YouTube. Couldn’t I?
Considering I am not some high profile psychologist nor a hermit swelling in its own thoughts, I am not going to ponder the reason why I still do buy records sometimes. I haven’t really thought much about it but like I always did for music-related stuff, I just go with the feelings I have at the moment. That’s why I never learned to play an instrument I guess. Whatever the case I was intrigued to hear this retrospective. Obviously, I had listened to the main recording that make up this collection before, namely the 1991 demo tape later repressed on 7″ on Seraphic Decay (mine is on trippy pink paper cover, combined to the abstract design it was quite a nice psychotropic experience), but I never had the chance to hear Absurd live before. Obviously we’re not talking about the German NSM band (I omit the B on purpose here), but one of the small underground Swedish bands that played in Sweden in the earlier days of this form of music. They were from a small town just north of Stockholm (Täby, same town as Treblinka) for what I see, and well, you cannot really go too wrong with a 1991 band recording a demo at the Sunlight Studios at the time can you?
Before going on the the release itself, I’ll gladly spend a good word or two on the label: Black Vomit (from Greece) is the same label that released that Necro Schizma compilation we saw some 10 years now (IIRC it was From Beyond that released it) on wax, and – thank you Satan my lord – it has been released on super standard black vinyl with an super standard, bare packaging – enough with huge boxed sets spilling patches and pins from every corner. While I am a Necro Schizma fan and I did get the record as soon as I saw it, I have n0t bought their Genocidio vinyl yet but I plan to do it sometime in the not too far future. I have that old Ep of them and a more recent Cd from the early nineties (“Hoctaedrom”, how did it end on the local pop music store is a mystery) and I liked that stuff pretty much: good brutal sound without too much gloss. Together with this Cd I also got the Necroccultus / Sub Niggurath split, which is also killer. Good work man. Support this label.
Now on this proper Aburd release. One big “thank you” for not using the bakery shop logo they got on the Seraphic Decay Ep, I am pretty happy with this one. Thank you also for keeping it lineart black and white, please somebody tell every label doing reissues today that this is the ONLY way to go. I learned from the interview repressed in the booklet taken from the Return of Swedish Dodsmetall that the band used to change logo continuously (more or less like Nun Slaughter?) so the one we saw on cover is probably just one of them According to the ex-Espulsion guy Christopher Wowden, the band (but I can read “him” between the lines) was not fond of classic Death Metal logos so my guess is the logo chosen and the cover we see here is probably not what the band would have used at the time. Have a read at the interview if you don’t have Nicola’s book because it’s quite interesting. In conclusion, Absurd wanted to be progressive but the Cd came out way more similar to a old school Death Metal release than 80% of the retrospective I see these days. All in all, I am happy with this choice.
So what do these Absurd sound like? Well I am talking about the 3-trax demo here, because the live show, while interesting (there’s also a Pungent Stench cover), doesn’t exactly convey all the down-tuned, spectral sound of the band. I could dare to say sometimes the band has that slightly Crematory-ish semi-melodic vibe in the background, but all in all it’s Swedish Death metal. Highly structured, with a lot of tempo changes and blast beats, but Swedish Death to the core, hell yes. The vocals are not just the hyper-deep kind, and even have some metallic effect on the third track “See Through Me”. This last song definitely needs some extra attention because it has a lot of structure. I really like when bands attempted to experiment a bit while keeping it brutal (think Demilich or Crematory). It goes all through the spectrum of mid tempos and blasts but the choice of riffs and malevolent tremolos is something that could only come from 1990 Sweden. I have plugged off from the world for a few years but I am curious to see if any more recent band can capture this feel.
Good shit, get the Cd even for the three studio tracks if you don’t have the Seraphic Decay Ep. One single complain I could say is there is really little info except for a pretty regular collage and the aforementioned interview. I guess I would have liked a repress of the demo thank-list or some other extra information on the recordings, but after all you can excerpt the necessary info from the interview, so no big deal.