Tagged: Black Metal

Blaksmoke / Part 1: tiny packet of black metal energy

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Blaksmoke, Part 1, Soulthief (2013)

Sometimes I wish most BM bands would deliver albums as tiny and packed full of zest as this one. At just over seven minutes, Blaksmoke‘s debut full-length deserves to be at least twice or even three times as long. Some folks might even wish for longer – there’s so much energy on this teeny-weeny record, it could sustain a much longer effort – but we could be pushing our luck. This is a raw recording of rock-out black metal, very punk in its production and in the furious energy it zings out in all directions. The percussion is wild and all over the shop and chainsaw guitars grind away in search of a victim to zoom over and cut up.

Each track seems a lot angrier and more abrasive than the previous track until everyone, musicians and listeners alike, can take no more. This isn’t to demean the first track, simply called “I”, which is a cacophonic racket of bashing drums and lawnmower guitar on speed. Deep vocals roar around the joint as if trying to gain a foothold on the racing music and finding none. Occasionally a rhythm develops but this is only temporary. The second track is a growling song of spiky string scrabble and evil demon groans. Like the first song, Track 2 ends quite abruptly – recording and production finesse obviously isn’t a big priority with Blaksmoke. Given that one of the Blaksmoke guys, Wikkid, recorded the music, produced the album, distributes it and has two solo projects (Alcutraz and Wikkid) to tend to as well, perhaps we should thank our lucky stars that he has time to issue product of a good consistent standard like this recording. The third track is more relaxed (well, at first anyway) and more death metal in its ambience and style though without the pummelling blast-beat rhythms of that genre. Past the halfway point, something spooks the two musicians and they go off on a bonkers chaotic tangent, drumsticks whacking furiously, strings shredding manically and vocals swept up in the storm. Wonderful!

This is a tiny pocket of roaring primitive BM and I wish - I dearly wish! – that there’s a lot more of it where it came from.

Contact: Wikkid, wikkidblackmetal@gmail.com

Silence: plenty to say but a better and more powerful form of expression is needed

Official pack shot from http://depressiveillusions.com
Official pack shot from http://depressiveillusions.com

Echo of Emptiness, Silence, Depressive Illusion Records, CDR cut 1061 (2013)

For an album titled “Silence”, this recording turns out to have plenty to say over some 49 minutes. This is atmospheric and creepy black metal from Russian duo Echo of Emptiness. It can be an ideal record to play late at night if you’re in the mood: it has a very dark and intimate feel and you can easily think yourself the only human existing on this tiny planet as you listen to this music of melancholy and loneliness. The band’s sound is distinctive: the guitars seem to have a very compressed shrill and steel tone almost reminiscent of very reedy woodwind instruments even when playing tremolo. The texture of the music is furry and crispy at the same time. The vocals are a mix of grim BM style and clean-toned and the members sing in English.

The album consists of seven tracks but the ones that will be of most interest are tracks 2 to 6 as these are a mix of black metal and ambient. The other tracks are purely ambient tone pieces: wintry, cold and minimal, with no more than a bass melody or ominous sub-bass drone being audible, they perhaps take up more space on the album than listeners might like but I suppose their length is in keeping with the album’s themes of hopelessness, depression and shuffling off the mortal coil.

While they have a good sound, the black metal tracks tend towards slow and plodding in pace. There’s not much energy in the songs and for a good part of the album they drift in the grey zone between comatose and barely sitting up. A big part of the problem is the limp drumming, thin and soft in sound and not featuring much variety in playing, let alone power and speed. The vocals carry all the emotion and anguish and veer dangerously close to melodramatic hysteria. Songs like “Melancholy” resemble mini-operas in the way the voices alternate between BM and clear, as though a conversation in a dark cave is in progress. The band’s potential is revealed on “Exhausted by Life” when at long last the music speeds up but even here this has the unfortunate effect of revealing how much EoE misses out on not having a strong, focused and driving rhythm section.

I realise the album aims to recreate the feeling of suicidal depression, the lack of energy and motivation that accompanies it, and the fragmentation of identity but EoE have a lot of work to do to convince us listeners that their work is worthy of our time. The guys have atmosphere down pat and a good sound, and they show ability in experimenting with sound and mood. They need to work on developing a more powerful sound with forceful percussion that pushes the rest of the music and inspires them to create and play urgent music with a large range of emotional expression.

I don’t get much sense of the angst and pain of living with depression, and the torment it causes to sufferers. That is something the album should have tried to capture.

Contact: Depressive Illusions Records

La Mort du Soleil: a highly emotional and intense depressive rock album

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Sombres Forêts, La Mort du Soleil, Sepulchral Productions, SP035 (2013)

I reviewed the debut album “Quintessence” by Sombres Forêts for TSP several years ago and since then this Canadian act has had quite sparse output with follow-up albums released in 2008 and 2013. “La Mort du Soleil” seems an introspective, contemplative effort with a strong emphasis on atmosphere and intense emotion. Melody and riffs dictate the nature of the songs with less busyness and more space within. SF main-man Annatar allows the mood and subject matter of each song together to dictate its direction.

The music has a soft edge and a deep cavernous echo effect gives it a three-dimensional sculptural feel. Annatar’s singing is fairly dominant in the mix although his voice can be thin and a bit ragged. There may be post-BM influences in some of the music – certainly the BM tremolo guitars seem less constantly noisy though they are always present. Montreal’s famous children Godspeed You Black Emperor may be one source of inspiration. Sometimes the pace is relaxed, allowing for plenty of emotional drama to burst out. Lead guitar solo break-outs appear but don’t usually dominate the songs where they are present.

By themselves the songs are quite good but bunched together on the album they tend to sound very similar and could just about run straight from one into another; you would not notice much difference between one and the next. Riffs and melodrama are packed into each song densely and considerable anguish and agony are expressed as well. Over 52 minutes, so much unhappiness and personal torment delivered can either be exhausting or a complete turn-off depending on listeners’ mood. Very few songs let rip with explosions of BM anger and rage at an unforgiving and indifferent world that looks askance at individuals’ pain as they struggle through life. There is more melancholy and passive acceptance of dire fate it seems than there is of fury against so much unfairness. One stand-out is “L’Ether” which includes a thumping drum introduction, clear guitar melodies as well as tremolo BM-string texture streams and passages of acoustic guitar wistfulness. Other instruments prominent on the album include piano (especially on one of the middle tracks, “Au Flambeau”) and possibly violin and mandolin in some parts.

All tracks are long – quite a few go past the 9-minute mark – and arguably they could have been edited for length as within them there’s not that much escalation of emotion or other conflict that would result in a dramatic and memorable climax. The songs bang on the turmoil straight away and the emotion stays much the same from then on. Entire tracks are pretty much ongoing purges of sorrow and intense feeling.

For Sombres Forêts, this album builds upon previous work and extends the act’s range much farther into melodic post-BM territory. However many BM acts have progressed from depressive BM to depressive melodic post-BM rock in similar ways so this move for Sombres Forêts doesn’t come as a surprise. I think though if Annatar wants to stand out from the pack with Sombres Forêts and not give the appearance of following the herd, he must now consider sticking his neck out into musical territories far from BM.

Contact: Sepulchral Productions

The Last Winter: well, this could have been the winter to end all winters

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Wintercult, The Last Winter, Ukraine, Urgrund Division, CD (2013)

Let’s hope that in naming their second album “The Last Winter”, this Siberian duo were only thinking of the winter that’s been and gone (2013 – 2014) and not the winter to end all winters. Some titles on the album don’t seem too hopeful about that. The music has a definite air of finality: a scourging blizzard guitar drone, backed by doomy percussion and accompanied by distant howling phantom voices, forms the backbone of Wintercult’s style.

The title track sets the scene for what’s to follow: squalling noisy tremolo guitar, moderately powerful drumming that in speed varies between slow and medium-fast and which drives the music onwards, and those eerie muffled vocals fighting to be heard through the guitar texture layers. The music tends to emphasise melody, a relaxed pace and a fairly solemn mood. There’s the odd episode or two of relative calm where a clear-toned guitar melody may play over and over again. “Taedium Vitae” introduces a rhythm with death metal blast-beat influences but otherwise isn’t much different from the preceding song and could almost be a continuation of it.

“Eternal Solitude” has some distinctive riffing and a wavering rhythm in parts so it stands out above the rest of the music but not by much. The singing becomes more anguished and despairing than it does on most other tracks. Most songs on the album tend towards repetition and don’t generate much tension or passion. The insubstantial and generally monotonous vocals may have something to do with the lacklustre mood of most tracks. The effect is that no matter how much the instrumental parts in the songs vary in their details, the voices seem to be repeating themselves across each and every track as though one song is being played in different versions. There is not much atmosphere on the album either and the mood seems so blank as to be unnoticeable.

As the album plods on steadily, it seems to lose some traction after the halfway point and listeners’ attention can start wavering. “Anabiosis” is a very long piece for what it does, given that it springs nothing that’s not previously been heard.

Eventually when all is said and done, and the wraith voices fall silent, the air around you feels no different than before you started playing the album. The music may have been good in parts and there were some good melodies in quieter sections. But you never felt completely immersed in whatever world Wintercult was striving to reach: the music was too monotonous, the vocals too limited in range and atmosphere was lacking as well. The entire album really does sound like one song repeated over and over in different variations. I’m beginning to wish this album really had been the winter to end all winters.

In recent months, I’ve come across a real treasure trove of Russian black metal bands – most of them either one-person bedroom depressive BM projects or post-BM acts with eclectic influences from around the globe - on Youtube; many of these bands are from right across the country including places like Cheboksary (Ural region), Ekaterinburg (western Siberia) and even Nizhnevartovsk (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug). I don’t know much about Russia to be able to say what the abundance of such bands means – it could mean folks in some parts of the country really do feel bad about their circumstances or just that some young people have too much time on their hands during school and college breaks – and while the general standard ranges from abysmal to average and occasionally to astonishingly good, the popularity of the BM genre itself across the world’s largest country speaks well for its claim to be a global cultural presence.

Contact: Urgrund Division, urgrund.division@gmail.com

Wikkid’s The Intro: a movie-trailer to black metal psychedemonchaotica

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Wikkid, The Intro, Soulthief Musick (2013)

This micro-album of five songs could be heard as one song of five parts that themselves might have been extracted from much longer tracks. Think of it as one continuous piece that could be equivalent to a movie trailer featuring the best scenes from an otherwise ordinary or mediocre flick. Even the album title suggests as much (err … not the “mediocre” aspect though). Of the five songs, only three can be said to be Wikkid songs, the other two coming from another project Blaksmoke which Wikkid main-man Wikkidiablo oversees with another musician.

Set to heavy pounding machine-gun rhythms, “Smokelessfire” is a strong opener with stuttery spider guitar noise-drone and wolf-like guttural vocals thrashing about in the background. This is followed by a slower and more tortured piece of howl and screech and bursts of squally guitar cloud in a song that may owe something to the infamous Swedish sadomasochistic duo Abruptum. “Torment” is another jerky stuttering attack-dog critter with echoing multi-voiced demonic gabbles and squealing high-pitched guitars. All three songs are fairly free-form (though the rhythms provide backbone for the guitar and vocal screams to hang from) and have a strong experimental feel. It’s a real pity that they’re extremely short and a couple of pieces could actually afford an extra couple of minutes each as they are to sound completely self-contained.

The second half of the demo is given over to tracks from Blaksmoke’s first album (which is shorter even than the recording under review) and these are more conventionally song-like, relative to the Wikkid tracks, in their structure. The drumming is dominant in both tracks and sets the pace for the guitars to follow. The vocals are not so prominent but exist as background menaces held on tight leashes.

Wikkid’s half of this recording is a varied and chaotic collection of very different though equally malevolent and barmy songs. The Blaksmoke tracks have a rock-out orientation with percussion going mushroom-cloud explosive and radioactive, powered by plenty of bashing of skins and cymbals. The production on all five tracks isn’t great but it does impart a raw quality. The atmosphere seems intimate as though we’re privy to a secret ritual, and dark at the same time.

Overall the recording promises heaps more of that enthusiastic and unpolished creative racket from where these songs came, though some listeners might feel a bit miffed that a couple of tracks from another project were snuck in to fill up the recording. Why not wait until there are more songs to bulk up a Wikkid and Wikkid-only album?

Contact: Wikkid, wikkidblackmetal@gmail.com

The Calling of Hell: where Hell exists in far realms of the universe

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Alturaz, The Calling of Hell, Soulthief Musick, CDR (2014)

A most curious object this CDR from San Francisco act Alturaz has turned out to be: it’s inspired by black metal ideas and concepts but all instruments are either organ or other keyboards. The quartet of tracks runs to just under 18 minutes so listeners might expect there’s not much on offer. You would be wrong: this is creepy Gothick-sounding atmospheric music that nods in the direction of old horror movie soundtracks made for films about proper bloodsucking daemons and not pallid Robert Patterson parodies of current Twilight film franchise fame. Alturaz is a solo project by a musician who helms a perhaps more conventional (?) BM act called Wikkid.

The recording opens with a slow spooky droning organ piece based around a very simple chord sequence, against which a more sprightly organ melody may dance in short bursts. Picture yourselves entering a tall, grim and grey cathedral, the stone walls of which depict carved figures of sinners in hell writhing in silent screaming agony under sadistic punishments dealt by demented devils. We continue on to a deep darker-than-dark space atmosphere piece of low murmur, the odd synth splash and a blank wall of nothingness. As this amorphous piece progresses, it gains a more definite if very plastic shape and a brooding atmosphere. The music becomes a twitchy pulsing, silver-shimmery alien skeletal critter, all long fragile limbs with fine veins of rhythmically swishing ichor. It is a beautiful and delicate beast yet there’s something deeply sinister in its darting movements.

If you were expecting the CDR to depart on a triumphant though maniacally evil note, you’ll be disappointed: the outro track is short and barely there, a most understated and minimal drone mutter barely rising above the black formless plasma murk that births it. No better way to leave listeners stranded in deep space with no means of escape or survival than this coldly indifferent desertion can be conceived of.

In its own understated way, this recording poses a portrait of Hell as a place of dark brooding silences and overbearing dread. The use of simple repetitive drone, drawn out and relatively unembellished, creates an oppressive black atmosphere and a feeling of malevolence. Alturaz combines serenity and mesmeric sounds into a dark trance music. I only wish the whole thing had been longer for listeners to savour something of an unenviable experience of being plunged into this forbidding universe and left there forever.

Contact: Wikkid, wikkidblackmetal@gmail.com

As the Stars: a work of soundscaping art that needs something extra

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Woods of Desolation, As the Stars, Northern Silence Productions, digiCD / LP NSP 119 (2014)

At least the fellow behind Woods of Desolation has a great sense of humour in releasing this album on St Valentine’s Day in 2014. This recording, the third full-length for this Australian act, is set in the realm of depressive ambient black metal, with longing and a sense of the impermanence of things and of nature being strong themes here. At the same time  there are signs of hope and movement towards a brighter, more radiant world. There is beauty of a mellow and introspective kind present in the music, both BM and clean-toned, and the guitar layers have a shimmering brightness. Drumming by guest musician Vlad (of Ukrainian band Drudkh) is steady and anchors the music, allowing WoD main-man D to throw all his energies into maintaining a good flow and a  substantial ambience throughout the recording.

“Like Falling Leaves” introduces the album in grand style: there’s a slight melodic folk element in some of the instrumental passages and the song vibrates with a rich shimmering almost-summery texture. The vocals are not too clear but they are very harsh and tend to blend in with the music so they become an additional musical element rather than something separate. Each succeeding song has its own mood and ambience though the change in atmosphere from one track to the next is not abrupt or jarring. “Unfold” continues some of the grandness of the first song and adds an uplifing feel in the riffing and rhythms. This spirit of richness and radiance continues in the next couple of tracks.

“Anamnesis” is a weak link in its repetition and for not substituting something original for missing vocals – an opportunity for the band to break out of a rut and explore different if related musical territory is lost here. “Withering Fields” is a solid track that restores the album’s flow and richness but it falls to outro track “Ad Infinitum” to recall the majesty of the earlier tracks: it does so in a rousing way with shrill vibrato guitar lines, moments of quiet solitude and an underlying message of hope and optimism.

The band has crafted an album strong on atmosphere, melodic layered grandeur and a hopeful, positive mood. Radiant beauty is to be found right across all tracks in the music and its ambience. However over the course of the album the band does not build much on the foundation of a rich layered music and this makes for an above-average recording of consistent performance rather than a really outstanding work of originality and heightened emotion with peaks and troughs. Originality and a risk-taking approach that might include additional instrumentation, an extra vocalist or some deliberate toying around with the band’s essential black metal / post-rock style would have been welcome.

Contact: Northern Silence Productions

Verwüstung: a work of depressed black metal / ambient devastation

Verwüstung

Moloch, Verwüstung, Acephale Winter Productions, cassette AWP011 (2014)

For sheer consistency and abundance, very few bands can beat this Ukrainian one-man black metal ambient act who has released at least ninety recordings including splits and boxed sets in a ten-year period. This is the twelfth full-length album from Moloch and the second (and presumably not the last, not by a long shot!) recording for 2014. Bookended by two all-instrumental brooding and sinister ambient drift tracks, the album is a harsh and intense beast with grim, ragged BM vocals, an aggressive sound, pounding drum-beats and an atmosphere of anguish and hopelessness.

“Blutmond” leads the way with a tight if chaotic presentation: the vocals are screechy and running amok while drums gallop and chainsaw guitars churn away. The feeling is desperate, close to hysteria. “Spiritueller Selbstmord” seems a bit more settled, a little less chaotic but vocalist Sergiy howls with the desperation of one who knows he is damned forever. The song has a tragic air close to haunting majesty. “Negativitat” is a solid track, alternating between fast and medium-paced, with a droning low-end guitar, a sense of extreme despair and some excellent drumming that mixes up its beats and rolls.

The next three songs are of equal length (just over 4 minutes) and the Burzum (“Filosofem”-era) influence is apparent in the thrumming tremolo guitar textures and rolling rhythms on a couple of these. The singing is as heart-rending as ever and Sergiy totters on the edge of hammy over-acting. The second of these songs is almost comic in its increasing vocal loopiness as the pain and intensity escalate.

The title track is a completely different beast altogether: whereas previous songs were tight and well-composed, “Verwustung” is unstructured and holds together loosely. It is quiet and restrained where the rest of the album was noisy and verging on excess. Experimentalism with sound and space replaces raging music. The piano sound is very clear and has a stark uncompromising sound.

After churning out 90 – 100 recordings, you might think Sergiy must have overworked himself with little left to give but this album is a raw and intensely emotional creature, almost with a mind of its own. The ambient tracks are at a far extreme from the rest of the album and provide an insight into Moloch’s musical range and compositional skills. The songs slump a bit after the halfway mark with too much screechy singing from Sergiy’s shredded tonsils. The desperate mood throughout the album seems sincere and the album holds together as a unit in spite of the musical contrasts. The production may not be the best (although listening to the album on cassette with its limitations isn’t ideal) but most instruments can be heard clearly and the vocalist’s pain and desolation are very keenly felt by listeners.

Anyone who has yet to encounter the tower of releases made by Moloch would do well to start with this album and work backwards through his 90 or so recordings if you need something to keep you off the streets.

Contact: Acephale Winter Productions

Depressive Black Metal Plague: abandon hope, all who follow Moloch

Moloch, Depressive Black Metal Plague, Acephale Winter Productions, cassette AWP005 (2013)

Signing off at less than 20 minutes in length, this EP could easily be missed in a body of work totalling well over 90 releases. The very stark black-and-white packaging with its neo-primitive minimal style gives some indication of the raw, abrasive, no-nonsense music residing within. And this really is raw depressive black metal, very slack and disheartening music with a dirge-like feel, stumbling percussion and a general air of apathy . So apathetic is it that the Moloch man couldn’t be bothered to give the four tracks on offer proper titles so they’re just called “Plague I” all the way to “Plague IV” – well, at least he cared enough to use Roman numerals from 1 to 4.

First track lumbers by with torpid drumming and squally noise guitar, over which a voice harangues away in Ukrainian or Russian. The song becomes buzzier as it progresses and the atmosphere becomes delirious before it all fades away. Track 2 has an even more distorted and harsh texture and the song’s background ambience is dark and menacing. The singing is more anguished and melodramatic. The drums seem to be buried deep in a shaft somewhere as the cymbals are only just audible and the beat of the bass drum is probably the only other part of the percussion we can hear. Extremely grim and with a sound that rips paint off walls in long strips, this song could rob listeners of the will to endure. Carry on we do though with Track 3, piling on the distress with wailing and begging against a background of droning, churning guitar and drums that drunkenly veer all over the joint.

The final track seems a more streamlined and free-form piece with gritty droning guitar churning away and the drums following their own piper in contrast to the steady drone feast. Everything goes along without much change until it all deflates and dies away.

The atmosphere on this brief recording is very draining, almost vampiric: as soon as the first bars of “Plague I” start, you feel unmotivated to do anything other than just lying flat on your face while the EP plays. The singing is quite impressive in its desperation and lack of hope though in the second and third tracks it veers dangerously close to melodramatic excess. The guitars are limited to a constant raw ‘n’ sore bleeding noise drone in all tracks, allowing the drums to wander where they will: this gives the music a very loose, rough-hewn improvisatory style. Any minute now the music might soar off on a delirious tangent of hypnotic immersive psychedelic black metal mayhem – I sort of hoped it would. Above all though is the dejected and hopeless emotion that hangs over the entire recording, a feeling that life is so bad and so painful, it just isn’t worth living any more.

Contact: Acephale Winter Productions

Heavier Than Air

Drive My Temple Car

Got the fourth album by Queen Elephantine, a distinctive metal band who are situated at the “experimental” end of the genre, but working hard to martial their forces and weave a potent doomy brew from their massed guitars and two drumkits, while still retaining the iron grip of sturdy “minimalism” – in so far as that term can apply to rock. The band originally formed in Hong Kong in 2006, but only the guitarist Indrayudh Shome remains from that first line-up, and the band now reside in Providence, suggesting that the band now comprises a mix of Asian and American doomsters. Scarab (HEART & CROSSBONE HCB 047) contains four lengthy and lumbering cuts, all of them pushed along by drumbeats as hard as concrete, and where much effort and sweat is expended on summoning up a vague form of “tribal-ceremonial” vibe while still keeping all four of the elephant’s feet planted on the grim and doomoid terrain; it’s as though the religious procession and all its priests and pilgrims were being slowly dragged down into a deep black marsh, to the accompaniment of hammered gongs and the rich scent of incense. If that sounds depressing, remember that they died willingly, for a cause they believed in. Queen Elephantine’s group sound isn’t actually as ponderous as I make it appear; none of that excessive amplification and distorted guitars malarkey for them, thanks very much, and all their notes are uttered with a deathly, minimal precision, much like a slowed-down and less uptight version of Om. If this team were archers, then you’d better be wearing body armour. The presence of the tanpura (played here by Srinivas Reddy) certainly adds an additional exotic / psychedelic flavour to the general unhinged drone, while an uncredited vocalist adds a harrowing plaint from his perturbed throatal zones, paying scant regard to matching the tune or rhythm, just as long as the haunted tone is in the correct area. It’s also mightily impressive how the band maintains their murderously slow processional pace throughout, even in the teeth of pain and suffering; fans of interminable torture-filth like Khanate are advised to check in, and prepare for an endless ride on the Ratha Yatra temple car (or juggernaut, as some will have it). The quasi-mystical cover artworks are by Adrian Dexter. From 01 July 2013.

Fear and Loathing in Stockholm

In the same envelope, we gots a reissue of I, Guilt Bearer (HCB 046), a 2012 album by the Swedish black-sludge death metal combo This Gift Is A Curse; it’s a joint release with Discouraged Records (MMICD19), Black Wave (BWP003), and Ecocentric (E.R. #185), and includes four bonus tracks taken from the band’s self-titled EP. This Stockholm four-piece specialise in serving up large gobbets of hatred and abomination, flailing wildly as they scream out their extreme alienation, disaffection, and mean-spirited contempt for the world and all that’s in it. Even the label (which has a deep love of unlistenable, obnoxious grindcore) admits it’s a pretty “punishing” listen, while revelling in its psychotic qualities, and while most of that pathological evil stems from the constantly-hysterical screams of singer Jonas, the guitarist Patrik supplies a good deal of musical horror and alarm from his pitch-black instrument, veering wildly from full-on paranoia to terror-stricken claustrophobia. You get the feeling he could start a panic attack just by walking into a music shop to buy a new set of strings. I’ve no problem with confronting all of these wild negative emotions running around the room like red and green speed demons, but I still find this album a bit of a monotonous listen; every track is tuned to the same root note, pretty much played at the same speed, and the dynamic range throughout is extremely – erm – limited. It seems churlish to complain on these grounds though, as this is probably largely the point, and I’d imagine that great catharsis awaits any listener with the fortitude to endure to the end of this “hell ride through the disparate sicknesses of mankind”. Cover is adorned with various ritual Satanic imagery, involving bloodshed, flesh piercing, etc. in a forest at twilight. From 01 July 2013.

Godzilla vs The Kremlin

While still partial to the taste of excessive guitars and drumming, I turned with some delight to the Moweton mini-album Guitaroid Vs Megadrumster (INTONEMA int007). This duo, charmingly named as FX’d Ibby R-ock G-uitar and Trashy Soft, manage to squeeze 26 ultra-short tracks onto their 3-inch CD, and perform a strange species of mega-fast experimental hardcore mathrock, tempering the overall mayhem with unexpected jazzy major seventh chords, funky riffs, and avant-garde electronic noise. It defies rational sense how they manage to get away with violating so many musical taboos in such a small space, but they pull it off with gusto and zeal. The listening experience alternates between having six-inch nails hammered into the forehead at great speed, and being force-fed a series of small energy pills about the size of Smarties. A vitamin-enriched painfest it be. Moweton illustrate their work with one of the naffest and trashiest sci-fi disaster movie airbrushed visuals ever created, but don’t let this prevent you from investigating their insanely hyped-up music. This record sent from Russia is packaged together with…

Tickling Valmiera, performed by Astma featuring Edgars Rubenis. Just one track on here, shy of eight minutes in length, performed by the wonderful Alexei Borisov and Olga Nosova, joined by said Rubenis. This strange growling murk, enlivened with multiple swarms of electric bees, was made using guitars, bass, percussion, effects and electronics, and it inhabits a curious zone – a zig-zagging gaseous stormcloud of musical noise, throwing out strange bolts and shimmering like a vast, inedible fruit jelly. Apparently it’s an edited fragment from a concert the trio performed in Latvia in 2011. Why haven’t we got the whole gig? Maybe it was deemed to dangerous for human consumption. Now that I look at the cover drawing by Erik Shutov, I have to admit that his perceptive pen has come very close to illustrating the exact nature of the spiky abrasive sound herein. Very good. From 01 July 2013.