Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spetalsk - Perverted Commandment

Quite boring, Spetalsk's Perverted Commandment mini-album is more prone to repetition than a stuttering politician, more boring (and less interesting) than watching Kentucky bluegrass try to play the banjo and more shallow than both. Now, I'm not saying that politicians are deep or that your front lawn is a fountain of intellectual stimulation but I am saying something about Spetalsk. Ultimately, though the songs are well played and I'm scared of Endymion because he looks like he will materialize in the dark recesses of my closet and come crashing through the door covered in all my old t-shirts and skewer me with his drumsticks, I can't say that Spetalsk have really done anything requiring any form of effort when it comes to the music they've stitched together out of a few too few riffs to jerry-rig Perverted Commandment's barely there style - a word I use loosely. The four songs which 'Commandment is composed of can be rearranged into a myriad of combinations and never sound like anything was changed.

Instead of writing a gimmicky review, which I originally though of doing, and writing four of the exact same paragraphs and changing only the song they were referring to, I've decided to actually try and pull some simple characteristics out of the music. Aside from looking like the Undertaker but slightly better groomed, Endymion really likes his ride cymbal - he uses it to a great degree to add variance to his drumming. When I first heard it, I thought, "Hey! That was neat..." but then, he did it in the other songs as well, using it in the same places structurally for the same reasons and, in a bizarre irony, even choking on the same note in opening track "Your Soul I Will Torture For All Eternity... By Playing The Same Songs Over And Over"* and the title track, "Perverted Commandment." Poor guy... looks like he is going to have to go work out a bit more with gym partner vocalist R. Karlsson who has the perfect uninspired vocals for Spetalsk's uninspired black metal... eeehhhh, I wouldn't call it a black metal attack really... more like a lack metal attack.

Zetterberg, the band's romance novel cover guy (and not a strange form of German cheese like I originally thought) with the hair made from the scalpings of ten thousand angels is a competent guitar player technically speaking but I get the feeling that he couldn't write an interesting rhythm if his shiny golden locks were being threatened with buckets of engine sludge. I'll get you Penzoil! He usually sticks to the typical staccato, flurry of 8th notes in all sorts of configurations with total disregard for rhythm and total lack of melodic sensibility. Not one time in any of the songs does anything he does interest me. Ironically, the guitar solos on the album, which do occasionally make me consider lifting my head from whatever magazine I'm reading (in this case, Gallery of the Grotesque circa 2006 - look for a review of this sweeeet zine in the upcoming weeks) but Chedderberg doesn't even play the leads! Some guy named Petter Nilson had the audacity to make segments of Perverted Commandment barely worth listening to.

I don't know why but the whole "black metal mixed with no rhythmic variation and monotonous pounding drums played by the unjolly green giant - genre" is waning for me. After three spins of this disc, I'm inclined to listen to Camel or Return To Forever just to escape the "We're tough because our music sucks" compensation thing. I should probably stop before Endymion and R. Karlsson climb up Rupunzel's hair - mainly for exercise really - into my room and force me to listen to the same riffs again. Perverted Commandment is kind of similar to that guy who cuts his lawn every day at the same time.

*The first track is actually called this. I swear...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Playlist 11/25/09

01. Motorhead - No Sleep Til Hammersmith - Overkill
02. Judas Priest - Hell Bent For Leather - The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) 03. Helstar - Nosferatu - To Sleep, Per Chance To Scream
04. Helstar - Nosferatu - Aieliaria And Everonn
05. Attacker - Battle At Helms Deep - Slayer's Blade
06. Saxon - Power And The Glory - Power And The Glory
07. Ross The Boss - New Metal Leader - Death And Glory
08. Valkija - Avengers Of Steel - Son Of Thunder
09. Znowhite - Act Of God - War Machine
10. Hallows Eve - Death And Insanity - Nefarious
11. Sacred Death - Deadly Playground - Social D
12. Overkill - Horrorscope - Coma
13. Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares - Severed Reality
14. Pentacle - Under The Black Cross - Into The Fiery Jaws
15. Annunaki - Throne Of The Annunaki - Perpetual Suffering
16. Primitive Graven Image - Traversing The Awesome Night - As I Wander
17. Vreid - Milorg - Alarm *
18. Darkthrone - Transilvanian Hunger - En As I Dype Skogen
19. Taake - Hordalands Doedskvad - V
20. Neftaraka - Raw Ist Law - Cold Blut In A Dark Serenade
21. Neftaraka - Raw Ist Law - The Knoll
22. Descantation - Demo 2004 - While The Frozen Air Awaits Morning
23. Mystifier - Wicca - Tormentum Aeternu
24. Mystifier - Goetia - An Elizabethan Devil Worshipper's Prayer Book
25. Master's Hammer - The Jilemnice Occultist - A Dark Forest Spreads All Around
26. Morcrof - Apeiron: Trinitas Primitiae Opus - The Semen Of The Dead God
27. Morgion - Solinari - Canticle
28. Nivathe - Nivathe - Decay
29. Source Of Deep Shadows - Source Of Doom And Perpetual Night - Powolne Zatracenie
30. Nyctophobia - Arid - Exhaustion

Tape / Vinyl #'s: 6, 11, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 28
2009 Releases #'s: 13, 17, 20, 21, 30
Tonight's Background Music: The Doom - Echoes To Chaos

*At this time I had a particularly interesting encounter:

__________ (10:24:43 PM): 2morro is gunna be soo wierd kuz imma be introducing you like a friend
__________ (10:24:44 PM): lmao
__________ (10:24:45 PM): ajajajaja
wp887fm (10:25:05 PM): ?
wp887fm (10:25:08 PM): wha?
__________ (10:25:17 PM): my family is gunna be like yeah aight thats your girl
wp887fm (10:25:18 PM): i think you have the wrong person
__________ (10:25:18 PM): lmao
wp887fm (10:25:35 PM): ummm..
wp887fm (10:25:42 PM): who do you think is on air at the moment?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Primitive Graven Image - Traversing The Awesome Night

Primitive Graven Image have done absolutely nothing but copy every black metal band in the world. They have ripped off countless riffs, written generic songs, and not done a single damn thing new. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they actually copied and pasted part of early 90's black metal together and just renamed the songs. So while every song is pretty generic black metal in most literary meaning of the word, Primitive Graven Image have also been able to capitalize on one minor - but major - thing: that black metal doesn't have to be new and different to be completely awesome. Traversing The Awesome Night is generic but every song is absolutely unique and different from the other songs on the disc with two exceptions, opening track "Bringer Of Dark and Light" and "Design," which both have similar syncopation styles. Regardless, Primitive Graven Image is a worthy contender for anyone looking for blistering black metal.

Though I liked the legato production on their first demo, Hellish Figurines more than the crisp and staccato production on their debut release, the production helps tracks like "Design" and "As I Wander" sound new and more intense than the demo's more cavernous and atmospheric style. In a sense, the production on Traversing The Awesome Night is more metallic. The treble is way up there in the stratosphere, the bass is way down there in the dirt, and in between, well, a lot of pressure. This isn't always good, in particular the drums are way overbearing at points. A prime example being a minute and a half through opening track "Bringer Of Dark and Light." I originally though my disc was skipping. The cymbals during this segment sound more like television static than anything close to percussion. The kick drum sounds great though. It's audible without sounding like a two year old banging on a typewriter. The guitars are harsh with tons of sustain on them, and clear when the drums aren't being dynamited. They suit the music well though lack any kind of atmospheric texture which ultimately has to be made up in the songwriting - something Primitive Graven Image have manages to do.

There are some awesome highlights on Traversing The Awesome Night worthy of the attention of any black metal fan. Moments that even the most elite, cassette demo worshiping prick would find highly enjoyable. I know, because I am. The first time my attention really gets caught after the excellent riffs of "Bringer of Dark And Light" is during second track "None Shall Stand." The song's overlapping melodies and marching feel provide a perfect setting for dual vocalists Dokkalfur and Ljosalfur to spread their hatred. "Fear and Fire" is another highlight for me. Pure blackened violence is apparent in this track's opening salvo. Though the track takes many twists and turns, it never loses itself in its own journey. It breaks apart and solidifies again like molten lava turning into rock hard stone. "As I Wander" is a slower track, meandering through distant horizons and dimensions than other songs in a painfully slow drawl that builds and builds. Each cycle of the main riff gains momentum, by way of subtlety. It takes a full two minutes for any kind of speed to be incorporated but in this span of time, "As I Wander" has already done its job - snapping your attention to the sweeping harmonies in the opening minutes but they only get sweeter - in a bloody murderous maniacal kind of way - and denser and more captivating.

"As I Wander" is a phenomenal track and stands in excellent juxtaposition to other songs on the album due to it's tempo, melodic strengths and simple structure. Other tracks on the album are also quite good. Traversing The Awesome Night is well paced, with another mid/fast paced track after "As I Wander," called "Earth's Wrath." Though few of the songs after "As I Wander" are as immediately enticing as the earlier tracks, "Battleride" starts out with a haunting riff, "Victorious" returns to the slower tempo found in "As I Wander" and also contains strong melodies and creepy harmonies and accompaniment before blasting into quicker territories. "Victorious" reminds me of a less meandering Opeth circa Orchid or Morningrise though Primitive Graven Image refuse to be as adventurous structurally. Traversing The Awesome Night is sure to be enjoyable to fans of black metal, though I do see some minor problems which Primitive Graven Image may run into.

Primitive Graven Image have styled their band around the traditional version of black metal, much like bands such as Watain, Keep of Kalessin and even Melechesh minus the Sumerian themes but have not proven themselves to have nearly as much instrumental virtuosity. Why does this matter? Because the audience which will give Primitive Graven Image a chance to become a household name in black metal will be those listening to the aforementioned bands. I'm not saying that others won't enjoy them and spread their name, but the easiest way for Primitive Graven Image to get somewhere would be to wow certain audiences and sadly, they don't seem up to par if you compare them knot for knot as I expect many people will be. It's sad too, because they have something to offer which Watain and certainly Keep of Kalessin don't have on the shelf - more than one kick ass memorable song per album.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mandatory - Where They Bleed

Germany has never been one of those elite death metal brothels where you could pick any whore and expect a good time. No, Germany is more like a small strip in some unknown Nigerian city where no matter which lady you go with, you can expect to get some sort of lethal disease. Unlike New York, Florida and Sweden circa 1992, Germany has never been a death metal hot bed, but Mandatory surely take the Swedish death metal style and run with it, crafting three songs worthy of a place in the higher rankings of Swedish death metal bands. Though only an EP, "Where They Bleed" is sure to crush many listeners with it's brutal heaviness and rhythmic prowess (see "Crypta Crawler's" pounding old school Swedish breakdowns for proof) and snare the minds of the unsuspecting with the infectious riffs and deadly melodies.

Opening With an eerie introductory track, "Where They Bleed" wastes no time setting a mood for the evil that follows. The intro conjures images of haunted halls, stretching on endless lit only by the light of the lunar gods and the candelabras burning along the cold stone walls. If you feel yourself becoming anxious or uneasy, that's a good thing and Mandatory desire you to run screaming in the cold night air. Just when you begin to feel safe, when you see the light at the end of the hall, and you reach for it, ready to step into the crisp morning air, get in your car and leave the haunted maze of tunnels and labyrinthine rooms, you are hit with a wall of evil spells and rituals ending any notion of escaping.

"Where They Bleed" is one of the hardest hitting death metal songs I've heard. It shows how death metal can be written to be catchy, deadly, intense and daresay I, enjoyable for even mainstream human failures. The riffs and instrumental sections are beautiful, such as the lead halfway through the song, and crafted with sincerity in every note. Mandatory are playing like they are at the forefront of all that is death metal. Sascha Besalt and Steffen Rottle have the ability to write killer songs and riffs and play awesome leads and memorable hooks. Drummer Stinne handles vocal duties in top form, taking basically everything that made Entombed and Grave great and following in their stead to awesome ends. He demolishes the drum kit at the same time. Adrian Kostrzewski lays down a walloping low end - so important in the Swedish sound - and does it perfectly. He's not breaking the bass speed records or sweeping sixty-fourth notes on his four thousand string bass, but he does exactly what these songs require and pumps out massive heaviness.

Briefly, "Where They Bleed" is the standout. Though the other two songs must be mentioned as well. "Crypta Crawler" has a mean-spirited streak and powerful rhythms, a characteristic mimicked in "Obscure Mortification." All tracks are easily recognizable, unique and evoke feelings of rotting, festering ancient corpses stalking down the last humans on earth and using their bodies to perform archaic rituals. "Obscure Mortification" has a specific Kataklysm rhythmic style. The disc also comes with a cover of Razor's Cross Me Fool" played intoxicated with blistering noise - just the way it should be. Awesome choice of a cover. This is a worthy demo / EP to nab if you can get it for a few bucks but its worth at least as much as you paid for any of your Dismember albums. Especially for the title track which drains the blood from just about every other death metal song that's been released in the past fifteen years.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Playlist 11/18/09

01. Ross The Boss - New Metal Leader - Matador
02. Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian - The Sorceress
03. Iron Maiden - Somewhere In Time - Caught Somewhere In Time
04. Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak - Angel From The Coast
05. Shadow Keep - A Chaos Theory - Beware The Signs
06. Valkija - Avengers Of Steel - Son Of Thunder
07. Helstar - Nosferatu - Harkers Tale (Mass Of Death)
08. Havok - Burn - Identity Theft
09. Tortured Dog - Born To Metalize Split - Witch Hunter
10. Midnight - Complete And Total Fucking Midnight - Funeral Bell
11. Midnight - Complete And Total Fucking Midnight - All Hail Hell
12. Sodom - Obsessed By Cruelty - Obssessed By Cruelty
13. Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares - Severed Reality
14. Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares - Scorched Earth
15. Devastation - Idolatry - Freewill
16. Unleashed - Hammer Batallion - Your Children Will Burn
17. Witchery - Restless And Dead - Midnight At The Graveyard
18. Crucifixion - Desert Of Shattered Hopes - Desert Of Shattered Hopes
19. Mass Infection - Promo 2005 - Decay
20. Absu - Tara - Pillars Of Mercy
21. 1349 - Hellfire - Sculptor Of Flesh
22. Mystifier - Wicca - Tormentum Aeternu
23. Black Flame - Torment And Glory - Burn With Me
24 Taake - Hordalands Doedskvad - Part V
25. Primordial - To The Nameless Dead - Empire Falls
26. Primitive Graven Image - Traversing The Awesome Night - Design
27. Primitive Graven Image - Traversing The Awesome Night - As I Wander
28. Darkthrone - Transilvanian Hunger - Transilvanian Hunger
29. Neftaraka - Raw Ist Law - The Knoll
30. Imynvokad - Tongues Of Death - By Blood Does The Beast Arise
31. Highgate - Black Frost Fallout - The Wolf
32. Decaying Citadel - Ruin Of The Wooded Realm - Dread Savior Arise
33. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath - The Wizard
34. Witchcraft - Witchcraft - Wooden Cross (I Can't Wake The Dead)
35. Tales Of Dark - Fragile Monuments - Towering Grief Behemoth

Cassette /Vinyl Rips #'s: 9, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31,
2009 Releases #'s: 8, 13, 14, 29, 31, 32,

Background Music:
09-10 O'Clock: Neftaraka - Advocator Obscurum Infernalis
10-11 O'Clock: Highate - Black Frost Fallout
11-12 O'Clock: Skepticism - The Falls

Monday, November 16, 2009

Playlist 11/16/09

Tonight will be a reiterating of my tape / demo material I've brought you over the past several weeks. Hope you enjoy.

01. Midnight Priest - Demo 2009 - Rainha Da Magia Negra
02. Valkija - Avengers Of Steel - Hatchet Blade
03. Hades - Born To Metalize Split - Gloomy Sunday
04. Battleaxe - Burn This Town - Dirty Rocker
05. Apocrypha - The Forgotten Scroll - Fall Of The Crest
06. Nuclear Assault - Survive - Fight To Be Free
07. Speedwolf - Bark At The Poon - Speedwolf
08. Funerary Pit - Winds Of Hell - Fathomless Depths
09. Moder - Fields Of Devastation - Kruez Der Ilusion
10. Polterkrist - The Death Cell - God Creation Failure
11. Sapremia - Existence Of Torture - Spawn Of Desolation
12. Deathevokation - Blood Demo - Embers Of A Dying World
13. Apolion - Hungry Of Souls - Winds
14. Hell Rot - Vomit Altar - Goat Chapel
15. Decaying Citadel - Ruin Of The Wooded Realm - And That Is Eternity
16. Imynvokad - Tongues Of Death - By Blood Does The Beast Arise
17. Fornication - Stab - Les Handicapes Du Ler Rang
18. Wendess - Wendess EP - Par Le Vent
19. Auspicium - Dawnland - Mountains Of Pamola
20. Tod - Hate Campaign / Hymn To The Death - Intro / Hate Campaign
21. Sarke - Vorunah - 13 Candles
22. Ancientblood - The Profane Hymns Of The Sovereign Darkness - Profane Devotion
23. Genocide Winter - Monastica Holocaust - Consumed By Darkness
24. Nocturnes Mist - Southern Storms - Land Of Fire
25. Oblique Visions - Seas Of Serenity - Sweet Tranquility
26. Grand Magus - Monument - Ulvaskull
27. Dictator - Dysangelist - Sanctus

Cassette / Vinyl Rips #'s: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.... basically all of them!
2009 Releases #'s: 1, 7, 15, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24, 27
Background music: Coroner - Arc-Lite

Tonight The Winds Will Stir....

Tonight I will be on air at my normal time, standing in for The Steelbath. 9pm - 12am, as usual. I will be playing my normal fare of rotten, stinking, festering hellish metal.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Neftaraka - Raw Ist Law

Neftaraka's "Raw Ist Law" is... well, raw. I'm guessing that being raw is a... law... in this Akitsa styled noise worshiping black metal band. What I found energizing about "Raw Ist Law" were the subtle nuances and textures in the black and the melody contained in the metal. Six tracks, three and a half noisy explorations and two and a half unpolished raw black metal songs to set your mind wandering and stop you dead in your tracks, lost in Neftaraka's dark corridors. Neftaraka's been around for a long time, over ten years now, and if their back catalog contains songs as strong as these, I'll be taking some long adventures across the internet to find their other releases. The grimy unpolished surface of Neftaraka's art is perfectly suited for the cassette format. I've seen this release available as a CDr but think the sterility of the disc medium would hinder my enjoyment of listening to this on the true kvlt medium that is the cassette... tapes always seemed to capture the noise better than their technologically advanced superiors. So, in the transfer, Thorn Laceration Records got it right - yes, they've done CD releases so I'm not shooting blanks here.

Opening introduction "Massive Ritual of the Black Wood" lets the noise flow in due manner. Vocalist Xxxull begins his spiritual vomiting with lengthy hidden spewings of rusty throated torment. The intro sets the stage for "Forgotten," traditional raw black metal track numero-uno. Somewhat repetitive though short enough as to not be a major listening hindrance, Xxxull, also on guitar, and Unknown-H on drums pound through two lengthy riffs. The sheer number of times played should etch this song onto the back of your cranium easily. Black metal song numero... two..., "The Knoll" is the most accessible song on the EP. It has a certain mystical melodic quality, created by the foundation of bassist Sil-blyss over which Xxxull plays some endearing, melodic movements. Slightly triumphant, slightly tragic and slightly hopeful, "The Knoll" is telling a tale for sure, and I wish I knew what that tale was about. It would make a great story.

During "Cold Blut In A Dark Serenade," the release's most longest expression, the EP takes a twist. Though the first three minutes are strong, mid-paced black metal in the vein of late 90's Taake or early Gorgoroth, the song's second half is nothing but bellowing darkness and winds of haunted noise. The song is almost perfectly representative of the demo - first half black metal, second half blackened noise. Indeed, the last two song contain mostly noise. "Salve Thy Forest" has some melodic undertones but the focus is on the tortured static. Final track "Advocator Obscurum Infernalis" is nothing but an expanse of feedback and static. This track, not included on earlier versions, is a nice addition to the EP though perhaps placing it earlier in the playing order and ending with "Forgotten" or "The Knoll" would have created more balance to the disc. "Cold Blut In A Dark Serenade" does end with more crushing blackened metal and the track is very well balanced. So many times I hear black metal tracks with two or three minutes of gurgling hellish sound just end abruptly, spoiling a great moment to take advantage of the tension that builds up in such breaks.

I would like to take the time to stress the balance of the album's styles. Though perhaps the running order could have been changed on this release to present a better EP (though I understand that in keeping with the original release order Thorn Laceration Records was upholding a value in the original product) the black metal never overtakes the demonic background and the darkness and painful moans in the distant expanse never creep over the black. They are both in place, allowing the other to do their frightening deeds. A strong EP though one more song with the depth of "The Knoll" may have made it something more than it turned out to be.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Valkija - Avengers Of Steel

I've had only one near death car accident in the past before hearing Valkija's Avengers of Steel; a bizarre inner desire to destroy myself and all around me while listening to dystopian attitude of Coroner's Mental Vortex. I was genuinely affected by the trio's twisted mind-altering masterpiece. Valkija hit me in a different way... and I still have the bruise to prove it. One of my .99 cent finds at the local record store, I wasn't expecting much from any of the twenty discs I exhumed from sure destruction in a garbage compactor so when I put Valkija's only full length album into my car stereo I was expecting to spend fifty minutes of dross. Instead, I had to think quickly. When the opening seconds of "The Lost" kicked in my jaw dropped directly to my thigh, weighing down my pedal-foot. I wound up having to drive with my left foot controlling the brakes and the gas. My mandible remained distended for the rest of the day including the drive home from school and another full listen to what has now become, in my opinion, one of the greatest metal finds in my memory.

Valkija play the overlooked style of power metal - better known as the good kind. Ballsy melodies and riffs and extremely well written and varied songs. Avengers of Steel has it all - Epic metal voyages, traditionally structured anthems and power ballads if you can even call them that. Valkija are ultimately in the same boat for me as Shadow Keep, a band which has quickly risen into the upper echelons of power metal hierarchy ever since playing with them over in Tilburg, Netherlands. Much like Shadow Keep's debut Corruption Within, Valkija's Avengers of Steel contains strong tints of progressive forerunners like Fates Warning and Queensryche. Both acts share a penchant for using thrashy riffs as the base for the verses and catchy - yet I repeat bad ass - traditional metal choruses and bridges. Both bands share the ability to write hooks. Both bands also have a lone female member though while Shadow Keep's vixen, Nicki Robson, busies herself crushing listeners with her rhythm guitarist abilities Valkija's Zoraija (Anna Amato) is keen to enchant and melt with her witch - spells.

I can not stress enough how awesome Zoraija's vocals are on Avengers... This isn't your operatic bullshit flower metal like Nightwish. No, Zoraija's got more balls - metaphorically speaking - than 99% of all male metal vocalists. Make that 99.9% if you're talking about all genres. Yeah, she's got more cahones than just about any black metal, death metal, thrash and doom metal vocalist. She's got more attitude than a poked and prodded rabid raccoon with the ass-kicking ability of Chuck Norris. She's equal parts Joan Jett, Doro Pesch, Nicole Lee and, even though my Disney-expert-better-half disagrees with me, Grandmother Willow from Disney's Pocahontas. Fear not though, Zoraija hits high notes in "Son of Thunder" which would rip through all the bark and hardwood of a tree that wide with ease. But Zoraija isn't the sole member of the band. What astounded me was the role of bassist Nikoll Hamm. Not only does he supply bottom end but takes a major role in the general architecture of the songs on the album acting an adhesive between riffs, melodies and the rhythm and lead sections. Guitarist John Turturro's playing is fantastic in every sense - rhythms, leads, solos... across the entire span of the album he proves himself to be capable of just about everything in regards to his instrument. Sebastian Hamm's drumming is also superior. Overall, the four members have crafted a dynamic between them with the ability to simply pound out masterful metal songs.

So the rest? Well, prepare to headbang and raise your fists into the heavens with nine songs all worthy of mention in some form though for me, the real winners are the barrage of Avenger of Steel's middle tracks, "Hold On" firing the opening volley with a ballsy take on a traditional song structure, alternating between clean and distorted guitars and erupting into a chorus catchier than cancer. Title track "Steel Avenger" is blistering thrash / speed metal. With awesome leads from John Turturro and some of the album's heaviest riffs. Think Primal Fear mixed with Doro screaming in agony on top. "Hatchet Blade" both breaks up the album with a clean, melodic intro before hammering away at the gates of hell. One of the best mid-tempo crushers I've ever heard, "Blade" also has some awesome lead guitars in the style of Fates Warning's "Traveler In Time" which immediately renders me speechless. "Return Of The King" is another pathogen-like epidemic of metal memorability like "Hold On" though in a much more progressive structure. Epic, aggressive and dynamic, I listened to this song four times in a row before I got my fill... for the moment. Next time I played the disc, I replayed it another three times when I got to it. The crowning moment for most will be "Son of Thunder" a Manowar styled metal free-for-all and you know it immediately as Zoraija lets loose a banshee scream less than half a second into the song.

My main question in regards to this band is why aren't they at the top of everyone's list of great modern traditional metal bands? I can only answer that their lack of output may have done them a great disservice as far as staying fresh in the minds of the metal fan base however another release as excellent as "Avengers of Steel" will surely capture the ears of a wide variety of metal fans. Another problem may be their location. Italian bands seem to find it difficult to break out of their country. The only ones which have really become household names worldwide are Rhapsody (of Fire), Luca Turilli and Labyrinth though, in my opinion, none have released an album as encompassing as Valkija. Sadly, Valkija will continue to be overlooked and will pass by everyone without notice at the expense of both the band and the listener. It's a shame that we may never get another release from them. If so, I will gladly place Avengers of Steel in the rankings as one of the best old school metal albums I've ever heard.

Contaminated Tones Magazine Out Now

Out now. Email to order. Wholesale available.

38 Pro-printed pages of underground metal! $2 plus shipping.

- Sapremia
- Nyctophobia
- War Master
- Wendess
- Midnight Priest

- Apolion Discography Review
- Benighted In Sodom - In Hora Maledictus Review
- Blackspell (Intertorial)
- Some Past reviews

Demo Reviews:
- War Master - Chapel of the Apocalypse
- Funerary Pit - Winds of Hell EP
- Cuntopsy - Indonesian Brutality Promo
- Koltum - The Story Of Death
- Interment / Paganfire - The Oath Of Termination Split
- Borox - Indonesian Brutality Promo
- Cum Sock - Cum Sock Promo
- Fadihat - Indonesian Brutality Promo
- Decaying Citadel - Where The Ancient Bones Are Laid To Rest
- Wendess - Wendess EP
- Omega - The Beginning of the End
- Fornication - Stab
- Hymengaard - Unsilent Storms In The South Abyss
- Desolate One - Desolate One
- Burial Ritual - Tower of Silence
- The Doom - The Doom
- Spewtilator - Thrash N Splash

Auspicium - Dawnland

Of all the material I have reviewed thus far, Auspicium's Dawnland has been the most perplexing and puzzling, the most slippery and soapy to describe -- all attempts at description ricocheting like tiny bullets off massive stainless steel breastplates. I've listened to this cassette 17 times without an inkling of how to describe its peculiar tone until this morning, watching the news broadcasts on hurricane Bill. Then it descended unto me with the weight of stone tablets falling from some fucking place in the sky: The perfect way to describe Auspicium's esoteric take on atmospheric black metal... and then I lost my pen. The pen I write each and every review with before entering it into my temperamental laptop had simply disappeared. I eventually found it in the backseat of my car under an empty Chinese food container, smashed between the side of the front seat and a gaggle of feather-like plastic shrink wrap from my most recent trip to the record store. Nerves once again settled, calmness returned, I realized that in fact, my whole experience prior to actually reviewing Dawnland was appropriately planned for me.

Auspicium's music is as wavelike as deadly hurricane waves or my angry frustration at trying to lift my ass awkwardly out of the back seat of my car without sticking my hand in some disgusting, moldy fast food remnant. The ebbing tides, intense one moment and sedative the next, fit Auspicium's sea focused black metal themes like a glove. One listen to Dawnland could give astute listeners that nauseating, seasick feeling. The rolling of Auspicium's waves is completely unique, working for Auspicium's mastermind, P.A. Hasson, like a convict for the man: really fucking hard. Though subtle on most of Dawnland's tracks, opener "Shoreline Rose" gives true life to the aforementioned lunar fluctuations. Ghostly, the song's complex array of depth and textures mimic the experience of drowning. Heavily effected vocals do little to create any warmth, instead sucking all the heat from the depths of the murky track, sounding like a mournful eulogy spoken to a drowning victim from the dying's point of hearing. A heavily emotional opening track, complete and forceful through its atmosphere and courageous in its structure, drums and true percussion, showing signs of life only near the very end of this song. Everywhere else phantom rhythms perfect for nights of copious alcohol consumption or drug intake.

"Cold River" marches distinctively into the epic seawall that is "Mountains of Pamola." Sullen and seasoned, broken and beaten, the abused embankment crumbles under constant frothy rolls of salty water. And as each jagged block breaks from its ancient place and falls into the sea, it travels through the abyss only for its future resting place to call to its next tenant from fathoms below. Though the song doesn't flow nearly as well as "Shoreline Rose," "Mountains of Pamola" is the most metal song available with hearty servings of distorted blasting and evil and depressing melody. Another strong song indeed, though perhaps there could have been a better placement as the Current 93 inspired "God Forgot My Name" closes Dawnland rather weakly and, more importantly, noticeably since the track is all acoustic and follows the albums most tornadic track.

Some may argue that its placement and lack of intensity is perfect, fitting into the wavelike pattern; another trough to follow another crest. To them I say, "Cork that expensive bottle of wine and grab the cheapest shit beer you can find." Sometimes its all right to simply let one go for the sake of fucking shit up. For the sake of metal. Rogue waves aren't mythology anymore either. No matter how you view the waves though, rogue or not, Dawnland is an incredible achievement. It's been known to pull swimmers in and never let go.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Playlist 11/11/09 - Death Metal Night

A night of DEAAATTHHHHH!!!

01. Valkija - Avengers Of Steel - Hatchet Blade
02. Valkija - Avengers Of Steel - Hold On
03. Morbid Angel - Altars Of Madness - Maze Of Torment
04. Suffocation - Effigy of the Forgotten - Infecting The Crypts
05. Mandatory - Where They Bleed - ...Where They Bleed
06. Obituary - Slowly We Rot - Words Of Evil
07. Crucifixation - Desert Of Shattered Hopes - Desert Of Shattered Hopes
08. Deathevokation - Blood Demo - Embers Of A Dying World
09. Mass Infection - Promo 2005 - Decay
10. Bolt Thrower - In Battle There Is No Law - Forgotten Existence
11. Bestial Warlust - Blood And Valour - Legion Of Wrath
12. Napalm Death - Breed To Breathe - Greed Killing
13. Mortal Decay - Forensic - Insect To Flesh
14. Fleshvomit - Indonesian Brutality Promo - Murder Of Mutilation
15. Iniquity - Grime - The Bullet's Breath
16. Mortuary - Blackened Images - Asphyxiation
17. Death - Human - Secret Face
18. Halopent - The Ancient Of Days - Post Mortal Suffering
19. Paganizer - Murder Death Kill - Mourning Life
20. War Master - Chapel Of The Apocalypse - Chapel Of The Apocalypse
21. Sapremia - With Winter Comes Despair - Open Grave
22. Hail Of Bullets - Warsaw Rising EP - Nachthexen (Live)
23. Gorefest - Rise To Ruin - Babylon's Whores
24. Decapitated - Winds Of Creation - Winds Of Creation
25. Akercocke - Choronzon - Scapegoat
26. Moder - Fields Of Devastation - No One Shall Live
27. Primitive Graven Image - Traversing The Awesome Night - Fear And Fire
28. Velvet Cacoon - Genevieve - Laudanum
29. Imynvokad - Tongues Of Death - By Blood Does The Beast Arise*
30. Highgate - Black Frost Fallout - Burial Light
31. Apolion - On The Altar / Angel Of The Black Abyss Split 7" - On The Altar
32. Decaying Citadel - Ruin Of The Wooded Realm - And That Is Eternity
33. Mystifier - Wicca - The Witch Voisin Recites Our Gloat / Osculum Obscenum

Cassette Vinyl Rips #'s: 8, 10, 26, 29, 30, 31, 33
2009 Releases #'s: 14, 18, 20, 22, 30, 32
Background Music: Earth - Seven Angels

* Keep a lookout for their next release out on Pale Horse Records. It will be a 7", beauty. Knowing the quality of all the PHR releases, you can trust me when I say this will not be a cheap, skimpy 7" that you will only use as a coaster. PHR will also be releasing Thra'el's album within the next few days for those interested in legitimate black metal.

Electric Wizard - Let Us Prey

Electric Wizard have always been a hazy band for me - and maybe they want it to be that way. I enjoy them and have no real idea why! Their fuzzy doom has a way of seeping into my lungs and sticking to my red blood cells thus entering every crevice of my flesh like a bizarre form of radiation. The only clear defining characteristic of the Electric Wizard sound that I have been able to collect is a garage-full-of-pot-smoke jam style and though that may appeal to some, I've never been a smoker or a real fan of "jamming." I don't like jam bands - not that Electric Wizard are a jam band - or their "free-for-all" idea of "whatevaaaa man just plaaaaayyyy."

This drugged out jamming style is apparent from the moment the album lights up. "A Chosen Few" opens the album with some background sound room voices gearing up before kicking into Electric Wizard's 70's inspired doom. The whole album contains this general laid back sentiment caked over with negativity and disdain and yet the tone of the album still remains deeply ritualistic and darkly occult. It is in my opinion the mysteries Oborn and his fellow sect of doom priests have unveiled on this album have had some thick black velvet cloaks draped over them. The album has an imbued sense of intense soul, moving with to the ebbing and flowing riffs. There remains a deeply personal meaning to every moment for each of the members involved.

Electric Wizard have never been afraid to get dirty in their career and a natural approach to "Let Us Prey" is felt with the untouched feedback, crisp burning smell of bass speakers at their brink of explosion and the dynamic drums. Vocally Oborn is all over the basement like a snarling angry dog barking, gnawing, groaning in frustration and generally chasing the slow sweeping melodies in songs like "Master Of Alchemy" and "The Outsider" like a giant steak tied to tail of a cat stapled to the pants of the mailman tied up being dragged behind a bus.

My only gripe with this album would be what I feel to be a stagnation in ideas. Though the songs all sound different, some different textures included in the heavier tracks would have displayed a bit more depth and broken up what could be described as a muddying effect. All the songs have the same styled solos, same styled riffs, same slow-mid tempos, same phasing guitar effects... how about a fast song? How about a sound with some clear up-front vocals? I know Electric Wizard have their own sound and style and they do it well - many moments of "Let Us Prey" are incredibly complex in the instrumental layering - but some variation somewhere would be awesome. They are capable of doing this. They did it on Dopethrone and they also did it on Witchcult Today, their newest album but somewhere in between, they lost a bit of the spark it seems.

*WPSC tag on the front cover from the radio station I work at. This disc was found in their used bin. I had a pristine copy a while which I traded a while back.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gallhammer - Ill Innocence

An older review...

I am at such a loss for words after listening to this CD. No need to overstate the obvious but moments such as the ones this album captures are worth writing about. You can say that the blackened, encrusted beast that is Ill Innocence has been done before and you wouldn't be completely wrong. But this album harvests something that I have failed to hear in many albums of similar style - passion for depression. Depression has never been this fun... ever.

The music of Gallhammer could accurately be called an ode to Hellhammer and Darkthrone. It is reminiscent of Burzum at times and sweeps into Earth styled drone-scapes while maintaining a filthy tone and atmosphere in an entirely feminine way. "Delirium Daydream" could never be done by another band as well as Gallhammer. Each track is sarcastically emotional in that girlish manner that is so misunderstood. While Angela Gossow continually tries (and fails) to be a "strong" woman, these three girls don't try to be anything other than natural and come off sounding stoic. In return, Gallhammer come off sounding as if they were meant to write these songs instead of being perceivably gimmick driven such as the last two or three Arch Enemy albums - odd analogy I know. The point is there is no joke here - everything about this band is gimmick free.

The fact that the musicianship is perfectly primitive yet competently played works well. Vivian Slaughter's simple plodding bass and earthy tone are perfectly suited to the droning nature of many of the tracks. Risa Reaper's drums have this "gravestone quality" to them - protruding from the ground / earth / base of the music to be examined as they ring out. Mika Penetrator's guitar tone is wholesome and full. It fits perfectly with the other instruments and retains heaviness without contradicting the feminine nature of the music. The vocals are one of the most intriguing aspects of Gallhammer's sound. With each member adding vocals to the mix, the messages seem to be completely universal for the three. Vivian does most of the vocals however she never once pulls an "I'm the leader" or implies anything of the sort. No one has a leader personality. The "whole" exists as a leader.

Why has "Blind My Eyes'" intro riff never been written before? Best riff on the album. Not because its the only riff either. It wipes the metal table clean of crumby riffs that so many bands are using these days. The album contains a lot of sludgy, droning, black metal but "Song of Fall" wins the blackened drone award. The vocals at 5:44 are spectacular. "Speed of Blood" is the punk - fueled song with moments of intensity. "SLOG" contains the albums main compositional blunder - breaking into an untimely section at 6:53. One thing that Ill Innocence doesn't capture enough is the use of feedback in the band's live shows. Dawn of... captures this important aspect of the Gallhammer sound. The lack of "May Our Father Die" is also somewhat disappointing. A Re-recorded version of this blackened song is displeasing.

Overall, there is a great sense of promise that the band shows. Let hope that Peaceville will bring these three to the US.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Playlist 11/04/09

What a rough day, a massive 6 pager for Anthropology due, to my tyrannicaly hypocritical teacher - she actually refuses to let us leave the two and a half hour class to go to bathroom... well... she'll let us go but won't let us rejoin the class again... I am positive there is a rule against this. Luckily I get to play metal all night long, and I have a great list of tracks! Master's Hammer making an appearance along with some old-school Katatonia. No death metal tonight, felt more in a mood for the epic and while Deathevokation or Asphyx would surely have fit in to my playlist, I felt a night of traditional, black and doom was in order. Don't like it? Kill yourself!

Gallhammer - Ill Innocence, Electric Wizard - Let Us Prey, Primitive Graven Image - Traversing The Awesome Night and Ross The Boss - New Metal Leader reviews coming up within the week. Keep a lookout!

01. Battleaxe - Burn This Town - Dirty Rocker
02. Diamond Head - To Heaven From Hell - To Heaven From Hell
03. Manowar - Battle Hymns - Fast Taker
04. Ross The Boss - New Metal Leader - I Got The Right
05. Midnight Priest - Demo 2009 - Rainha Da Magia Negra
06. Steel Prophet - Messiah - Dawn Of Man
07. Shadow Keep - Corruption Within - Corruption Within
08. Fates Warning - The Spectre Within - Traveller In Time
09. Manilla Road - Crystal Logic - Crystal Logic
10. Master's Hammer - The Jilemnice Occultist - A Dark Forest Spreads All Around
11. Absu - Tara - Stone Of Destiny
12. Absu - In The Eyes of Ioldanach - Manannan
13. Fornication - Stab - Les Handicapes Du L Er Rang
14. Bound By Entrails - The Oath To Forbear And The Burden Of Inheritance - Tides Of Redemption
15. Bound By Entrails - The Oath To Forbear And The Burden Of Inheritance - Seafarer's Journey
16. Opeth - Morningrise - Black Rose Immortal
17. Folkstorm - De Stemmen Van Het Woud - Zonsondergang
18. Katatonia - Discouraged Ones - Last Resort
19. Highgate - Black Frost Fallout - Burial Light
20. Gallhammer - Ill Innocence - Speed Of Blood
21. Hell Rot - Vomit Altar - Marginal
22. Electric Wizard - Let Us Prey - A Chosen Few
23. Decaying Citadel - Ruin Of The Wooded Realm - The Final Days Of All

Tape / Vinyl Rips #'s: 5, 13, 19, 21,
2009 Releases #'s: 5, 14, 15, 17, 19, 23