Laster – Ons vrije fatum – Dunkelheit Produktionen

Is atmospheric BM an oxymoron?

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By playing the newest album of Laster from Netherlands one question imposes: where does the black metal ends and another style commences?

The problem of the so called atmospheric black metal (mainly in North America, not exactly a problem here) and the similar blackgaze in Europe is that people ty to reinvent the steel (which cannot be reinvented). Of course, I’m not a stubborn who cannot live with changes but this is a subject for an article.

The thing here is that, differently from other bands, Laster is a pretty decent group, with pretty decent music. What one would call a flaw they would say they made on purpose, so it’s not a flaw.

For example, the album opens up with the title track with vitriolic black metal, no-compromise, Darkthrone style (with a better production, of course) but for those who expected pure black metal it is kind of anticlimactic, the layers start to wear off rather than come in, phrase by phrase the song starts to become bland until a full rocker, almost a brit pop, appears to the ears. It’s kind of a negative catharsis.

Second track Binnenstebuiten follows suit with the same MO, but although the third one Bitterzoet promises the same approach of take it or leave it, there appears an ultra-elegant sax to give a somewhat simple formula a lush treatment, merging the simple black metal bases with at least a complex layer of jazz.

But after the fail to convince the listener that this is indeed a black metal album although its pitfalls, the album suddenly starts to grow inside the audience with a cohesive factor, that doesn’t deviate from THEIR norm. That’s a bonus because, they do draw a frame for themselves and manage to keep inside this frame, which starts to make sense as some VERY repetitive phrases inside songs like Helemaal naar hui and Er wordt op mij gewacht appear.

This a 50/50 deal: to some this is heaven (woops) as music, to others this may not even sound interesting, and never before the perspective (as well as the mood) of the listener could decide if an album is ace or not. For me, at the end of the day, it worked very well.


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Insulters – Metal Still Means Danger – Unholy Prophecies / Equinox Discos

The revenge of the 80’s

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Insulters (a band that hails from Spain) is not exactly new on the bill. They have some work behind them, including one full length, two demos, a split, a collaboration and a compilation.

This sophomore album is doubtless an amalgamation of Bathory, Venom, Motörhead, which cannot (and never will) fail.

Speed metal riffage with an icing of black metal bellows, it could be compared to Darkthrone latest phase, but that would be an understatement: they are no Darkthrone, they sound very different, yet they retain the velocity in tracks like Age of Terror and Highway of the Dead (a helluva track with a sinister soloing buried in the background) and an earworm attitude.

Although all the tracks sound equal (really) the trick here is to take several spins to make the album grow on you: for example, it’s undeniable that Bang your Fucking Skull makes one headbang proudly throughout the tune with fists in the air.

Another delicious approach of metal from hell is the trenchant Bastard Soldiers that brings grim riffs to the tableau, making one going reckless (and wild).

The song Here Falls the Hammer starts as a mid tempo tune (and this one, as the name infers is pure Celtic Frost, that’s even an UGHHHH to confirm). Maybe this one is the most different tune of the album, but that’s that. They don’t endeavor too far, and that’s the deal.

Maybe one is kinda tired of “retro” metal but this one’s worthy your time.


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Metallica – Hardwired… to Self‐Destruct – Blackened Recordings

The proverbial double-entendre, the conspicuous hindsight bias.

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Metallica has a great imperfection: they don’t sound like anybody else, so you just have Metallica to compare. Also, as in the constant artistic search to stay relevant they played their games in the past (Load and Reload) which were a mistake. Period. They triplicated their income. It was sell-out. Period. That’s why they are trying to prove since St. Anger that they are relevant to a new generation and now that millennials know that the truth is all there, they are playing for keeps, because, you know, confidence is something that is hard to get back.

That’s the price to pay to be the most famous band in the world.

The second “if” is their bet in a double album. Okay there’s nothing new here, they were always known for doing enormous songs. But Iron Maiden did that in their last album to a rate of 50/50 approval. Judas Priest made this bet some years ago with Nostradamus and they’d LOST! Why it should be different with Metallica?

And finally, the curse inside metal musicians: once you experiment and fans don’t approve it (over again Load and Reload) there’s NO turning back. I explain myself. Sepultura made a shitload (and a shit-reload, ha) of success when they released Roots and no matter how they try to differ from that, that Brazilian tribal sound will always make part of what they are. Another sample? Kreator: once they recorded their “goth” albums, no matter how badass they sound again today, that sound will always lurk…

But I digress… Forget Kill ‘em All and forget “Black album”. If you are nostalgic fan, you might get very disappointed.

But this time they make their stand and for real: take it or leave it!

After the fast and killer Hardwire and the mercurial Atlas, Rise! the song Now That We’re Dead is not that impressive, although the limpid production gives it some lost dignity and while Moth into the Flame is really up beating, Dream No More doesn’t exactly go down the road, I just believe that it’s not so impressive except for one thing – “Madness, they say Cthulhu awaken”. I mean, SERIOUSLY?

Now the really unnecessary song that would make no difference in the final cut: Halo on Fire (the last song of the first CD), and although I’m being honest when I say that the solos are killer, hell, why a 9-minute quasi ballad? It’s a hard-rocker for sure, but it has this dual facet: the first minutes are a real bummer, while the second half is decent. Oh well…

Okay after all, disc one is not that chore, so let’s jump to second part without further ado.

The opener Confusion is a real and good Metallica song, the real thing. It’s not fast but it has a killer rhythm guitar very characteristic of the older Metallica. Solos are plentiful and the tempos are many. Excellent.

After a lousy 30-second intro, the song ManUNkind is all heaviness with a syncopated drumwork and it’s a good song, vocals and all. Feel secure in this one, it’s a singalong and the gradation is there making it several songs into one. Almost seven minutes that sounds like three. It’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Surprisingly (for haters at least) Here Comes Revenge keeps the momentum and differently from the latter song, it’s more cohesive, more easy to understand at first heed. Another score.

Changing the pace, the tune Am I Savage? Is more of a commercial shot, but you see, it’s not irritating. It’s just more snail paced compared to the songs of the second disc. I dig the solos though.

Murder One follows suit and it’s all melodic.

But the icing in the cake is the last track, Spit Out the Bone which is a VIOLENT (man, am I really saying that?) thrash metal song, that makes me bang my head and open an invisible mosh until the cow comes home!

There is a third disc that I haven’t have the opportunity to hear, and it will contain covers of Iron Maiden and Deep Purple, plus a tribute to Dio, plus a live set. I am totally curious to hear those.

The conclusion: Disc one has its great moments and its strange flaws. Disc two is Metallica taking back their dignity and throwing up in the face of everybody. Some will love, some will hate. Again, forget the “old days”. And forget the lousy albums. Also, forget the “tentative” albums like St. Anger and Death Magnetic. Metallica haven’t got stuck in the past in any way or form. This time they got what they were after: a very good Thrash Metal album!

Hardwired… to Self‐Destruct is going to be out on November 18th on Blackened Recordings.


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Kyy – Beyond Flesh – Beyond Matter – Beyond Death – Saturnal

Beyond matter there’s only blackness.

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I don’t have repeat the obvious, but I will do anyway: Finland has the most satanic black metal bands in the world. Kyy is another one to the biggest pantheon they already have, with this debut album (their first release was last year’s  Travesty of Light)

The song here is a muffed black metal. I know muffed is not even a good word to describe a black metal band, but the production is a middle ground between the true mudded sound and some balanced audible music.

Strange as it may sound in a first spin, the album gets one by his balls: raspy, aghast, horrific music only for fans of Baptism, Sargeist, Horna, Behexen and Azaghal.

Songs like Legio Serpenti, Death Within and mainly the desperation of Reditus pay dividends if one absorbs properly the noxious gasses emanated by the band.

Panta Rhei is a pure black metal insanity, none so vile, second to none: fast drumming, classical Scandinavian riffs, heartless music for insensitive minds.

It’s all straightforward blackness with doubled vocals, like demons in a bottomless chasm of destruction, spewing blasphemies all over as in the track Erecting Temple of Adversary

There’s no attribute to this band other than pure perfectness! This is the kind of sound I’d listen everyday, all day long, if I had the opportunity to do so.

Beyond Flesh – Beyond Matter – Beyond Death  is out now on Saturnal 


(Daniel “Roderick Totentanz” Death)

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Ancillotti – Strike Back – Pure Steel Records

Sophomore Heavy Metal attack.

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This second album of the Italian Ancilloti is a mix of heavy metal and hard rock in the vein of the classic bands of the style, sounding more Germanic than Italian, but as a European band I believe that it sounds right.

Ancillotti shows that their potential sometimes is obscured by the production which sounds shabby for the kind of sound they try to do: I mean, the compositions are really good, the musicianship as the soloing are very good as well, I cannot complain, but sometimes it sounds mudded by subpar mixing and mastering.

To Hell with you and Immortal Idol show this kind of approach where the feeling of rock n roll is alive and heavy metal runs rampant with riffs of pure ode to heavy metal, and solos that are screaming to traditional ears.

Fight roars the metalheads to fight in the name of the rock. Hell yeah, I’m totes into that battle. Over again the guitars here are the main course as well as the refrain!

Firestater is more of a hardrocker, good song, forged in the fires of the 1980’s, not impressive really, but the guys have the guts to try their hands on that!

As the album oscillates in this fair balance between rockers and steels, there is one rotten apple called Lonely Road. It remembers Saxon’s worst moments, and the voice of our hero here, Daniele “Bud” Ancillotti (Strana Officina) doesn’t work very well, really and it sounds a little corny.

Life is for living compensates for the aforementioned mistake and is certain hit! Although there is only one problem, it doesn’t sound as heavy as it is intended.

The drumming of Brian Ancillotti is totally correct and hard but, over again it sounds inoffensive in the final mix.

This album needs one thing: a REMASTERING. It’s just been released, but they should consider this kind of approach should they have the opportunity to do so.

Strike Back is a good metal album that will get the old schoolers of trad metal by the balls, I’m certain of that!

Strike Back is being released TODAY via Pure Steel Records.


(Daniel “Roderick” Death)

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PROFANATICA – The Curling Flame of Blasphemy (CD, LP, TAPE) – Hells Headbangers

The perfection comes in forms of iteration.

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Profanatica is no strange name for the old cultists and die-hard metallers. They have been around for quite a time although they haven’t achieved the “glorious path” of mainstream propaganda preferring to stay put in the truest underground.

Their 2016 album is the legacy of all the things the band has been working through. Mid-tempo songs, low-pitched vocals, blasphemous invocations, minimal editing, simplest form of songwriting, and yet The Curling Flame of Blasphemy is essential for those who thing they are “evil”.

Ordained in Bile and March to Golgotha are finest samples of low-file production allied with veteran musicianship, to create a simple but extreme efficient form of offensive music.

The track Black Hymna evokes everything primitive, it must be a true inspiration for headbangers of today.

Host Over Cup is a bunch of blasphemous screams in the background like curses from the eternal abyss of destruction.

While Rotten Scriptures continues its binge towards the chasm of desolation, Yahweh Rejected is terminated without edition to give place to Bleed Heavenly Kingdom so my question is: how much primitive one can get?

This album has 10 tracks that are practically identical which I appreciate because if one song pulls my attention, automatically the others do.

 Honestly if you don’t enjoy Profanatica, you can stick to your post-rock joke. Leave the Satanic stuff to real ones.


(Daniel “Roderick” Death)

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Blaak Heat – Shifting Mirrors – Svart Records

The Arabic metal from France.

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This is a unique band, progressive rock metal and Arabic sounds mixed as one.

In fact, this band is great because of the cohesive factor, it doesn’t not seem a salad, it’s rather good music.

The instrumental is second to none with influence of Krautrock, Zeuhl, Prog Metal, but the problem here is the vocals. No, they are not that bad, but hell it seems an imitation of Ozzy. If they didn’t exist so the listener could concentrate himself in the marvelous instrumental factor. But I guess one must take it as it comes.

About the one million influences in the press release, I thought it was a bit of hyperbolical, as if it was that way the sound would be incomprehensible and that’s not the case here, as they experiment in their own avant garde way but Shifting Mirrors sounds more like a Seventies hard rock album reminiscent of psych music than a proper progressive opera in the form of ELP or King Crimson. For sure, it’s simpler than that.

A good trip for those who want to hear something very different of it’s being done in the musical market as of today.

Shifting Mirrors  is out now on Svart Records .


 

(Daniel “Roderick” Death)

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