Noteworty Report: December 2016

Welcome to the second “Noteworthy Report”, a –hopefully– monthly installment with albums that are either too noticeable to miss (so no point to write yet another review just to get some traffic), good yet not ‘highly recommended’, or plain simple albums that sound promising but I didn’t have the time to pay as much attention as they deserved.

In today’s overcrowded metal scenes, more than 100 albums are being released EVERY MONTH. Some of them are awesome, most of them are not. Through ATF I try to review 2-3 albums every month, the ones that really worth it and don’t get as much credit as they are due.

I will begin with the albums that usually pass under the radars, and put the “established” acts in the end, since you probably got to listen to them already. If you believe some other way of order would serve the bands better, let me know in the comments.

 

AsthenicSyn – Thy Flesh Consumed

I said it earlier this month, but it bears repeating: the Russians are upping their game lately. This is the debut album for AsthenicSyn, and it really is impressive. Mainly aggressive black metal, with atmospheric and post BM touches here and there, amazing riffs and cool vocals. The only turndown for me was the 2-3 “deathcore” moments. You know how much I dislike that, still it would be a shame to skip such an album for it.

https://www.facebook.com/AsthenicSyn/

 

NNGNN – Forceful Blasphemy (EP)

The thrash/black duo from Edinburgh is on fire in this little gem. Fresh yet true to the spirit of the genre, armed with riffs that reek “total death”, they march north now that the “dark throne” is up for grabs.

https://www.facebook.com/nngnnband

 

Скверна – Гнозис (EP)

Skverna is yet another band from Russia that is worth checking out. This EP is a little gem of experimental black metal. Have I ever told you how much I love the use of saxophone? Especially when done right.

 

Ash Borer – The Irrepassable Gate

This band needs no introduction. I was hardly satisfied with their previous albums, but this time I have to give them credit both for their melodic parts, as well as the doom-ier moments which sound grander than the abyss. I bet you already checked it out, but if you missed it, now is the time to right this wrong.

 

Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive

I rarely enjoy live albums. Especially if they aren’t on DVD. But this one isn’t just any live album. It is a mirror of the original DMDS, only with better sound. Kidding. Or maybe not. Well, listen and have an opinion of your own, do I have to force-feed you everything? A very good performance in any case…

 

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Ossuary Anex – Mutilation Through Prayer (2016)

ossuary-anex-mtp-cover

Ok, it was about freaking time for a new review, right? I should start this one by pointing out that I am not a huge fan of death metal. There, I said it. I don’t like death-core. Heck, I don’t like anything-core as a matter of fact. When it comes to death metal, I like some Swedish school, or melodic/symphonic stuff like Septic Flesh, or when I feel like going all brutal, Deicide, Vital Remains and a tiny bit of later Cannibal Corpse is pretty much all I enjoy.

So what we have here is the second album of the Russian band Ossuary Anex. And I must admit I couldn’t tell they’re Russian until I read it. This is the kind of death metal I would expect from a US band, or at least a really inspired moment of a Greek band. The album starts with a sick piano intro, the blasting commences and it’s uphill from then on. Nothing is forced, the songs flow with enough variation and thanks to their duration (which averages around 4 minutes) it never gets boring.

Brutal sounding guitars, highly energetic technical play, a bass that slams you right in the face, the vocals are brutal and deep (even if mixed a little lower than what I was expecting), and natural drums, which was a great surprise given the overly trigger-happy nature of the genre.

The mix is really good and powerful, and you can easily discern every instrument. These guys totally convinced me. It’s been years to enjoy a brutal death metal album as much (last one I remember was “Promulgation of the Fall” by Dead Congregation, and that was back in 2014). Not to mention the killer artwork. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

More info:

https://lordofthesickrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/mutilation-through-prayer

http://www.lordsick.bigcartel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OssuaryAnex

Review: GreyAblaze – GreyAblaze (2016)

greyablaze-cover

GreyAblaze is the debut album of the homonymous Ukranian atmospheric post-black metal band. Formed in 2013 by veterans of the scene (having served in bands like Ygg, Ulvegr, Nokturnal Mortum and more), this is their first ever release, yet it shows their proficiency both in performance as well as songwriting.

The album blurs the lines and easily crosses the boundaries of genres. There is a calmness and a sadness present throughout the five beautiful compositions, and a recurring theme of soundtrack-like melodies. If you play this on repeat, you lose sense of time and it feels like one huge track.

Inventive use of synths and pianos, mesmerizing guitar work, powerful riffs combined with sensational dual solos, elaborate drumming pointing the right dynamics and a distinct bass that ties everything together. On top of them all, vocals that carry an essence of despair that matches the gloomy mood of the music.

The mix is clean and has enough air for the dynamics to unfold properly. The album feels shorter than its actual duration, which is indicative of how good it is. I have spent the past two days listening to it and I am confident I will keep getting back to it for years to come. An absolute masterpiece. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

For more info visit

https://www.facebook.com/greyablaze/

http://shop.ashen-dominion.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=62&product_id=50

 

Interview with Deathkin

 

Two weeks ago I reviewed this Finnish band’s debut album “Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta”, and then I had the pleasure and opportunity to talk to them about the album, their plans and a bit about their local scene. Here goes:

First things first, give me an introduction to your band.

Deathkin is a five member band formed in 2009. We have had our share of lineup changes in every other position than drums and one guitarist. The purpose of our existence is proclaiming the majestic trinity of chaos, death and immorality. So far we have released two EP’s (Deathkin & Purged by Impurity) and one full-length album (Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta) which was released in  November 1st this year.

You have released an album this month, what is the feedback so far? Are the sales going as you expected?

Yes, we did release our debut album “Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta” few weeks ago. So far the feedback has been really good even on a global level so it seems that we managed to create an album which really is enjoyable to listen to. The sales have been surprisingly good comparing to the fact that we haven’t put any money on marketing and done only minor web promotion. That is another example of the fact that it really is a quality record. If someone wants to buy it, they better be quick.

It’s a bit early for this question, but, now that the album is out there, would you change anything in it?

There are a couple small things that didn’t make their way to the album which would’ve made the album even a little bit better than it is now. We are not talking about any major changes, just one guitar lead, one extended ending. Yet it may be possible that those changes would have ruined something. We will never know. Otherwise there simply isn’t anything to change since the album is pure diamond all the way.

Tell me of your lyrical themes.

“Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta” is a concept album. It preaches about an eternal crusade beyond all boundaries. Of a Journey across aeons that is trodded on the bones of your predecessors in order to witness the faces of Chaos. Of reaching out and longing towards entropy, home of the universe from which we were spat out as a cosmic joke to suffer in a prison of flesh and blood in the wheel of life. Guided by the ardor of darkness and awakened by the serpents venom we will return home.

You decided to stick to Finnish for the lyrics. This may alienate some fans and add to the mystical feeling for others. What is your view on this?

Our first two releases were written in english. Since our guitarist already had some decent lyrical content in finnish it was something worth trying and it turned out really great. There is so much more in the lyrics now that they are written in finnish, it has gained some extra depth in the context. And what comes to the matter of how people globally response to hearing finnish lyrics and not understanding, we couldn’t care less since everything we do in Deathkin has nothing to do with pleasing anyone or making any compromises. And even though you didn’t understand finnish there is some words and names that are familiar to give a little perspective on what the lyrics are made of. And to be honest, you just can’t deny the fact that it gives a little extra on the mysticism.

Give me some insight on your artwork. You decided not to have your logo on the cover, which is a rather bold move. In retrospect, was it a good choice?

Leaving the logo out of the cover was a really quick and easy decision. Our friend Saila Leskinen did so spectacular job under the loose guidelines we gave here that we decided to give the artwork as much space as possible. There is a load of interesting stuff in the whole artwork itself (cover, booklet, etc) and it fits to the concept perfectly. So it is not just the music that is worth buying, it is great concept art as a whole.

dk-1

Describe your creative routine. How do you form your tracks? What is some of your equipment/software you can’t live without?

The usual process begins with guitarists writing riffs on their own and bringing them to rehearsals to build full songs out of them. Sometimes the structure is almost ready when we start to create a song, sometimes it is just fragments that we pull together. So as you can see, we do a lot of arrangement stuff together. When we get to the point that the structure is satisfying we start to build the details and our vocalist begins working on the vocal arrangements. What comes to equipment, you couldn’t manage without quality instruments, for example good drums or good valve amps. At least they make things a bit more comfortable.

Moving on, what are your future plans?

We don’t really know what will happen in the future. Maybe some gigs and releasing Kohti Kotiani Kaaosta in vinyl. Hopefully our new album will gain us enough interest and give us enough visibility among black metal scene to have a possibility to tour in Europe and maybe give us a deal on a bigger international label. There hasn’t been any writing so far done regarding new material yet so can’t say anything reliable about possible upcoming album. Maybe it will continue in the vein of our debut album or maybe it will be something totally different. You really don’t know. Even the fact that is it going ever to happen.

You are an independent band, are there any difficulties in Finland for such an act? Tell me a bit more about the Finnish scene. Any notable bands we should research?

We have a relatively big metal scene here in Finland so popping up from the vast mediocre majority is really difficult and many good bands don’t get recognized. And it doesn’t make it any easier if you aren’t already in acquaintance with the small amount of the right people. Black metal isn’t as big thing in here as it used to be in the ‘90s which is probably a good thing as it almost got into a mainstream position in some areas of Finland but at the same time it means that it is quite hard to get your band to gig as there is still a great amount of independent bands trying to do the same thing. At the end it all comes back to knowing the right people which is a bit annoying when you don’t couldn’t bother knowing more people than few closest friends. Finland has quite a lot of at least “quite good”-category black metal. Quite well-known bands to get yourself familiar are for example Horna and The True Black Dawn but from the more underground you shouldn’t forget for example Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising.

dk-2

Any albums you listened to recently that you want to share with our readers?

Rome – The Hyperion Machine and Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones are pretty close the best albums this year. Ravencult’s Force of Profanation deserves to be mentioned because it was very good!

Closing thoughts or anything else to add?

Buy the album, support black metal and especially your local scene and greetings to Greece!

 

Contact them via

FB: https://www.facebook.com/deathkinband

email: deathkinband@gmail.com

Noteworthy Report: November 2016

In today’s overcrowded metal scenes, more than 30 albums are being released EVERY DAY. It is nearly impossible both for fans to discover the true gems among them, as it is for the bands to rise to the surface of all this information.

ATF is a project I run on my very limited free time and as such I am not writing reviews just to write something. I don’t have the time to talk about bad or mediocre albums; if I don’t like it, I skip it. No point in wasting anyone’s time just to shame a release. Whenever I take the time for a full blown review, it has to be worth it. I want you to see an album on ATF and instantly know that you have to give it a listen.

Of course there are releases that even if they don’t make it to a review, they are worthwhile to check. And this exactly is the “Noteworthy Report”, a –hopefully– monthly installment with albums that are either too noticeable to miss (so no point to write yet another review just to get some traffic), good yet not ‘highly recommended’, or plain simple albums that sound promising but I didn’t have the time to pay as much attention as they deserved.

 

I will begin with the albums that usually pass under the radars each month, and put the “established” acts in the end, since you probably got to listen to them already. If you believe some other way of order would serve the bands better, let me know in the comments.

 

Morke – Sleepy Eye (EP)

morke

This is the first release of the one-man band from USA. The EP consists of one 25-minute long track. Contemporary US black metal with a Canadian flare is their trade and it sounds promising. A bit repetitive, many cool ideas that would be stunning if they were packed in a shorter track, but hey, who nailed it in the first release?

http://morkemn.bandcamp.com/releases

 

 

 

Paganland – From Carpathian Land

paganland

Melodic pagan black from Ukraine in the vein of Drudkh and Nokturnal Mortum. This is their 3rd album, and I expect to write a review for it if I get the time to listen properly. Definitely worth checking out!

http://www.svarga.eu/en/from-carpathian-land

 

 

 

Ravencult – Force of Profanation

ravencult

3rd album for the Greek black/thrashers. This is the most anticipated album for me this year, and Ravencult don’t disappoint. A relentless storm. A must have.

https://ravencult.bandcamp.com/album/force-of-profanation

 

 

 

 

Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones

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The French experimental BM pioneers need no introduction. In this 30 minute release they managed to distill all that is evil, all that is massive, all that is essential to produce amazing black metal, and nothing more. They wasted not a single second for fillers or blabbers. Breathtaking!

https://deathspellomega.bandcamp.com/album/the-synarchy-of-molten-bones

 

 

Enslaved – The Sleeping Gods / Thorn

enslaved

Another band that needs no introduction. What we have here is a collection of experimental material from their past releases. If you are a diehard first-era fan, approach with caution, but you should check this out. If you like anything from the last decade, you should definitely check this out.

http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/products/tontraeger/cd/cd-digi/enslaved-the-sleeping-gods-thorn.html