Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Spectrale - ▲

SPECTRALE - ▲ (LADLO Productions CD 2017)
In 2016 a three-way split CD with In Cauda Venenum / Heir / Spectrale has been released. A very interesting release indeed. More recently Heir unleashed their debut full length album "Au peuple de l'abîme", which is a superb effort. And now time came for Spectrale and their debut record titled "▲" (??!!). 
Spectrale is quite special and different band to everything else I have heard so far from Les Acteurs De l'Ombre Productions. This project, led by The Great Old One's Jeff Grimal, plays strictly acoustic instrumental music. No distortion, no aggression nor anything what you would normally consider as (black) metal. Instead, it's quite mesmerizing and beautiful journey through melancholic, yet dark world of its creators. And damn, I have to admit that it's been a very pleasant and intriguing experience. Even though Spectrale doesn't play music, which I would listen to often, I have enjoyed it a lot. The acoustic guitar work, plus some cellos, piano, a bit of drumming etc, is great, I like this music, how it all sounds, the atmosphere and I have to admit that this album brought me some sort of calmness and relaxation. I played it loud, laid down and just closed my eyes... and I was gone. It's quite interesting experience, definitely... I wish that "▲" maybe had some more vocals, as they appear basically in just one song... but it doesn't make me like this album any less.  
A shorter review this time, but I just don't know what else can I write about "▲". Better experience it yourself. 
Standout tracks: "Landing", "Monocerotis Part1", "▲" 
Verdict: 70/100 

Dead Will Walk - Unleash the Dead

DEAD WILL WALK - Unleash the Dead (WOLFSBANE Records - 7"EP 2017)
Some time ago I had a pleasure to play "Vestibule of Hell" vinyl compilation with some more or less known underground death metal bands. Among them there was a newcomer Dead Will Walk with their first song "Prison Tomb". I liked it a lot, so I was looking forward to hear more from this band. Sadly, I missed their split cassette with Entrapment released by Cavernous Records. But I will get it one day, I must! It's on my wantlist. But even more recently Wolfsbane Records unleashed Dead Will Walk's second plague, which is this excellent "Unleash the Dead" 7"single. I really like this shit, I have to say. Even though Dead Will Walk music doesn't stand out with anything special on the field of old school death metal, it is good enough to please my hunger for this rotten, obscure music. They do everything just as they should, have killer riffs, good ideas, very nice raw production and the music has this horror-esque, brutal feeling, which fits that sort of death metal so well... So, there's everything just as it should be and I have been spinning this seven inch quite many times today. And did that with great pleasure. 
The music is rather simplistic. I mean it's not fancy, technical stuff, but short songs with three or four riffs, simple structure and rather memorable mid-paced, brutal riffage. Autopsy and old Death seem to be the strongest influence, but also the likes of Morgoth, Repulsion, there's even a bit of Swedish vibe similar to such Puteraeon. But the result is just very pleasant. It's just plain, simple traditional rotten death metal with zombies / gore / horror topics in the lyrics. It's cool that this vinyl has four songs, so it's enough to see how solid and promising the music of Dead Will Walk is. And there's no remorse, when banging your head! So, if you like that sick old school death metal, you better get piece of vinyl for your collection. It's limited to 300 copies only, so you better be hurry! 
Verdict: 75/100 

Schattenfall - Schatten in Schwarz

SCHATTENFALL - Schatten in Schwarz (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2017)
From the German vastlandsSchattenfall comes with their debut album "Schatten in Schwarz". I do am glad to admit that they're yet another atmospheric black metal band, which really caught my attention recently and whose music I liked a lot. Yes, it sounds really damn well and I spent some nice few hours when listening to Schattenfall. It looks like everything on "Schatten in Schwarz" sounds properSchattenfall came up with five incredibly well written and arranged songs and the performance as well as production doesn't lack anything. So, even though I had no idea what to expect from this German band in the first place, I was positively surprised by their album and can only recommend it to you all. 
Actually, Germany has one of the best scenes, when speaking of atmospheric black metal. Helrunar are one of my favourite bands ever, but there's also Sun of the Sleepless, Secrets of the Moon, Geist, Lunar Aurora... Schattenfall name should be mentioned among all these great acts also, because this is the same quality and the same greatness. Maybe one the reasons why I got hooked so quickly by "Schatten in Schwarz" is because the music is incredibly memorable. Sure, it has that blackened, sinister aura all over it and the basis of the music is harsh, cold black metal. But Schattenfall has great ability to compose capturing melodies, interesting and catchy passages and build dark and vicious, yet melancholic and sorrowful atmosphere. Everything sounds just right here, even the way keyboards work together with guitars. Once more I am surprised also how the German lyrics work well with such cold, misanthropic black metal. Even the fact that Schattenfall limits their music mainly to doomy, slow tempo doesn't disturb – firstly, because it helps to achieve and increase that dark aura and secondly, because there's too much interesting stuff going on to even start to sound monotonous. The only time the music really speeds up is in the song called "Angst meiner Fantasie", which is also why this track sounds more aggressive and dynamic. Then, never in any other songs I felt a need to break the one dimensional, slower tempo, it never let me think that the music becomes tieringBesides, "Schatten in Schwarz" is slightly over 30 minutes long, so there's no time for boredom. Al in all, I had a very good experience with this debut album, I can only wait for more music from this German duo... Impressive. 
Standout tracks: "Angst meiner Fantasie", "Schatten in Schwarz" 
Verdict: 80/100 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Is - Into My Own

IS - Into My Own (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2017)
I knew already the band called Is from the split CD they did a while back with Hermóðr titled "When the Frost Has Stopped the Time". And I have to admit that it was a good effort and interesting release. This year Wolfspell Records putted out Is' second full length album "Into My Own" and I was quite eager to listen to it. First though, couple of things of introduction. Is are Russian one-man project, led by Nøkken. It's relatively fresh thing, as he started it in 2014, but Is already released several EPs, couple of splits and now also two albums. And first thing, which I noticed, when I got "Into My Own" in my hands was the beautiful artwork and layout for this digipak. It looks very impressive. 
But the music also surprised me, because last time I have listened to Is the style was more alike to atmospheric, but doomy black metal. Here it has more in common with melancholic and sorrowful doom / death metal than black metal. Actually, if we have to categorize music, then I think there's no trace of black metal left in Is' music. And if it's good or not, I leave you to decide that, everyone will have their own opinion. I have to say that I am not big fan of atmospheric doom / death metal, at least not in the vein, which I can hear on "Into My Own". But it didn't disturb me to quite enjoy the music and play this CD several times today. What characterizes "Into My Own" are heavy, slow paced riffs balanced by strong melodic base (guitars, leads, keyboards) and atmosphere of sorrow and melancholy, which spines everything together. In every song heavy parts could be followed by calmer, more nostalgic fragments and even deep growling vocals can occasionally be followed by clean singing voice. Mostly the result is solid. Sometimes it may be just too melodic and too "nice" for my musical taste, but I have nothing against listening to such bands occasionally, especially if there are such good songs like "Where It Began" or "To the Sun". 
There's obviously nothing revolutionary about "Into My Own", I feel like many Finnish doom metal bands have influenced Is strongly, but maybe even such Novembers Doom have inspired Nøkken \to compose this album. All in all, I think this is a decent stuff, very easily to get into, with quite memorable songs. Even if the music becomes slightly monotonous after a while and the drum machine not always sound that good, it doesn't affect the final reception of "Into My Own". And I'm glad that Nøkken closed this album in 40 minutes of musicbecause more would probably annoy me too much. 
Standout track: "Where It Began", "To the Sun" 
Verdict: 60/100