Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.3)

2017 is now officially behind us. And it was a terrible and deadly year for people of the arts and especially musicians. Let’s hope 2018 won’t be such an asshole. Have a great new year everyone!

But enough with the idle chatter, let’s push ahead for the 3rd part of Tragon’s “Noteworthy Report – All of the albums that I felt deserved your attention this year but was so slow to publish that you’re now going to listen in 2018”. Shall we?

 

Dawn Ray’d – The Unlawful Assembly

The Unlawful Assembly” is an album that came thundering straight from the underground. The trio from Liverpool put out an impressive debut album. Fierce melodic black metal enhanced with folk moments that really give it a special character. Don’t let that one unheard.

 

Blaze of Perdition – Conscious Darkness

This one doesn’t really need introductions. 4th studio album by the Finnish outfit, less pompous and noticeably slower than their “Near Death Revelations”, it actually felt like a sequel to Behemoth’s “The Satanist”. Blaze of Perdition have meticulously crafted their sound over the years, so any surprises are guaranteed to be pleasant ones.

 

Grima – Tales of the Enchanted Woods

Atmospheric Black metal that you can hardly believe is Russian. Multifaceted compositions, vocal variety and weird folk instruments are some of the bonus points, but even without them the album can satisfy any USBM fan without really trying. What are you waiting for? Buy it!

 

Raventale – Planetarium

Everyone knows that an EoY list without any Ukrainian Black Metal album is not a real list. Raventale is a one-man band that has managed to release 8 albums in 11 years. That is a feat not many bands can achieve. With “Planetarium” they offer almost 40 minutes of mesmerizing, melodic, atmospheric Black Metal that includes some of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard all year. Listen for yourselves!

 

Aosoth – V: The Inside Scriptures

Aosoth is one of those bands that never disappoint. Their brand of black metal is part dissonant (they are part of the French scene, so what else?) and part occult, somewhat experimental and most importantly HONEST. When in doubt, put your money on them.

 

Bestia Arcana – Holókauston

Up to this point you had your fair share of melodic and atmospheric BM. But what about those who like it disturbing? Say no more, I have you covered! This album is a chaotic holocaust packed in listenable format. If the world’s destruction has a soundtrack this is probably it.

 

Pestlegion – Dominus Profundum

Remember what I told you about Germanic Black Metal? This is exactly what I meant. B. von Doom’s vocals feel so wrong to me that I have to put real effort into listening to them. However, Pestlegion have created so brilliant music in their debut album, it would be just unfair to leave them outside my Noteworthy Reports only on such grounds. If you are a fan of pure, Whiskey Fueled Old School Black Metal, you can’t miss this.

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Incantation – Profane Nexus

If you don’t know this band, you probably lived the past 30 years in a cave or under a rock. The legendary deathsters are back and they are determined to cause some serious ear bleeding. The album is filled with bleak desperation, and the more you hope it ends soon, the deeper you sink in this musical quicksand. If you haven’t been exposed to their music before, this extremely formidable album will make sure you’ll love them from now on.

 

Nadir – The Sixth Extinction

If you believe that Doom metal can’t be groovy, you probably haven’t heard of Nadir. Their music is constantly on the verge of trotting down the Melodic Death path, but never quite leaving the Doom ballpark. Their (thankfully few) death-core parts didn’t manage to put me off and so I was rewarded with some really memorable leads and riffs and had a generally very enjoyable time listening to them.

 

Thus ends the third part of my list. I’m going to get some off with my lovely family now. You go ahead and listen to those records and let me know which ones you found particularly good, or which ones you completely missed and you have to thank ATF for bringing them up. The 4th and final part of the list is coming in the following days. I’ll see you then and there.

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Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.1)

In recent years it is becoming the norm for blogs and magazines to give an ‘EoY’ (end-of-year) list with ‘the 10 best albums’ of the year (or in some cases 12, or even 80 if that makes sense). I was hesitating to follow this practice, especially since I don’t use a grading system for my reviews, so what I decided instead is to give you a list of what I kept in my ‘noteworthy’ list throughout the entire year. This would be a smaller list if I wasn’t neck-deep-busy over the last months, but such things happen, and so I will have to cover what was left behind during my long absence.

Notice that there is no noticeable distinction between ‘underground’ and ‘established’ acts. Still I give somewhat of a break to lesser known acts because having to compete to get a name out there is already hard enough.

Due to the sheer number of releases included in this “Noteworthy Report – all that is left of 2017 that I didn’t have the time to talk about” I will break it into many parts. Enjoy the first of them…

 

Battle Dagorath – II – Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness

Last year, their “I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos” was among my favorite albums for 2016. This year they returned to finish what they started with this second part of the opus. This one is more direct and energetic. Astral Black metal in the vein of Limbonic Art.

 

Cult Of The Horns – Chapter I. Domination

Gut wrenching blackened Death metal from France. If you are a fan of early-to-mid era Belphegor you are SO going to enjoy this album. I know I did!

 

Darkenhöld – Memoria Sylvarum

This is an album I thoroughly enjoyed this year. Inspired by the Norwegian Atmospheric Black Metal of the 90’s, it feels like a journey in the past. Time and time again you will feel the nostalgic effect of its riffs as they unearth forgotten hints of Ulver or Old Man’s Child, only to fade under a Burzum-esque change of pace, yet nothing feels forced. There is definitely something in the French waters!

 

DEVLSY – Private Suite

Lithuania is a country with hardly any well established metal bands. However they don’t give up and every now and then a good release will surface to remind us of their efforts. This avant-garde post black metal album is a “now” moment. Support it.

 

Метель – Цивилизация

Metel is a Russian black metal band clearly inspired by the Swedish school (reminded me of Negator’s “Panzer Metal”). Formed in 2003, they just released their debut album this Christmas, and it’s really really good.

 

Grailknight – Galahad’s Quest

Admit it. If you hadn’t seen the title, you too would believe that these are lost recordings of Summoning that didn’t make it to their “Lost Tales” EP. This one man project from Serbia is doing a really good job at imitating their Epic Dungeon Synth Metal. The production is quite underwhelming but I decided to cut them some slack anyways.

 

Deviser – Howling Flames

The Greek veterans return after a long absence with this tasty EP. Pompous melodic black metal that encloses everything we loved from the Greek scene of the 90’s and then some. Can’t wait for the full length!

 

DSKNT – PhSPHR Entropy

Switzerland is –at least in my mind– a country where metal bands are either atmospheric or experimenting with electronic elements, so this album was a huge surprise for me. Apparently the French Black Metal scene is getting to big to be contained and now contaminates bordering nations. Oh, goody!

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Necrot – Blood Offerings

I am a very difficult listener when it comes to old school Death Metal. It usually bores me to, well, death. So when an album manages to keep me entertained for its entire duration it makes it to my list. Simple as that. The Californians really did it this time. Fans of early Death, invest with both hands!

 

Fen – Winter

The gentlemen from the United Kingdom return to their roots with this 5th album. Musically, “Winter” is really close to “The Malediction Fields” (which happens to be my favorite album), yet the compositions are more mature. A solid release.

 

That was the first batch. If you enjoyed it, stay tuned as there are more to come in the following days. Which release did you particularly like?

Noteworthy Report: April 2017

Welcome my friends to another VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. ATF is a project I run on my free time, which is becoming more of a rarity nowadays, but I try to keep active no matter the circumstances. Want to know why?

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums are getting released every month. Granted, some of them aren’t all too great, but how can anyone tell? Nobody has time to listen to every single one of them. That’s what the Noteworthy Report is all about. Every month –or so- I gather my notes and talk about the best releases that usually pass under the radars of big publications.

Enough with the chit chat, on with my list for April!

Prometheus – Consumed In Flames

I’ve known Prometheus through some demo tracks and I’ve known them to be a Hellenic black metal band. So I was a little surprised when their debut landed. Here they have a clearly more blackened Death orientation. The album is packed with great riffs, inventive and intense drumming and occult atmospheres. An absolute must have!

 

Atrexial – Souverain

We stay in the blackened death metal ballpark, this time coming from Spain. Bombastic songs clearly inspired from the Swedish scene, with Marduk-esque riffs but on a different track. Some of the songs may sound unfitting, but since this is their debut I find it natural to explore a few paths and wander off from time to time. Don’t let this fact turn you down and enjoy this fresh release in any case.

 

Corpus Diavolis – Atra Lumen

Melodic Black Metal from France, bold enough to step outside the dissonant prog/black playground that has been set up there. Their music is brilliant, their drumming has a spark of genius, but their most striking aspect are the theatric vocals. A true masterpiece.

 

Ulvegr – Titahion: Kaos Manifest

Sometimes I just have to stand in awe before the talent of certain musicians. The guys responsible for this release just spit excellent album after excellent album on an unmatched pace (and under many names: Elderblood, KZOHH, GreyAblaze and more). In this 4th full length they touch on the Egyptian mysticism (bringing to mind the Greek band Acherontas at points) and they intertwine songs with prayer-like intros, the way Acheron did in “Rites of the Black Mass”. One of the best releases I heard lately…

 

Cult Of Erinyes – Tiberivs

Occult progressive black metal from the masters of the kind. The duo from Belgium returns with an album that won’t let down any of their followers. Hit play, breathe its intoxicating fumes and travel somewhere dark, to a place you can call “your unknown”…

 

So that was it. I still haven’t posted my “through the cracks” NWR, but I sure will. But first I have a review in the writing, so stay tuned because this won’t take too long to finish. As always, if you have any suggestions leave a message or send me a mail…

Interview with Au Champ Des Morts

Every time I write a review, I try to get in touch with the band and get some more information around the album and the musicians responsible for it. And it is always a pleasure when this actually happens. Back in February I wrote about Dans La Joie and a few days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Cécile G., a very down to earth personality with a lot of insights to share. Go ahead and read this…

Give me some historical background on the band and the members.

Cécile: Au Champ Des Morts started up in August 2014 when the both guitar players, Stefan Bayle (ANOREXIA NERVOSA) and Migreich (VULV) first met during an underground festival in France. They’ve decided to make this project a real band and in 2015, the line-up was completed by the arrival of Wilheim (NEURASTHENIE, EXECUTION) on drums and myself (OLEN’K, ANOREXIA NERVOSA) on bass. After recording the album, Migreich decided to leave the band so now we’re evolving as a trio.

What is the feedback on the album so far? Are sales going as you expected?

The feedbacks on our album are good and far beyond our expectations. We are very touched by the welcome given to our work. Regarding sales, we don’t know yet and it’s still too early to say because our album has been released at the end of January. And honestly we don’t expect anything, I mean, we did not really thought about this, especially since this is our first album, so we will see. At present, I don’t think you can predict anything concerning record sales in underground music.

You incorporate a lot of different elements in your songs. Can you name some of your influences?

Our influences are very varied, to sum up, it goes from black metal, cold wave, old hard rock, essentially bands from the 80s to now. And to name but a few I will cite bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost, And Also the Trees, Dead Can Dance, Austere, The Devil’s Blood… There are too many to quote them, but we are really passionate and we always listen with pleasure to the cult albums as we always looking for new stuff too.

What are the lyrical themes about?

For the lyrics, we all participate, we write on a theme or something inspired by the music, or a personal experience that has affected us. Symbolic, our vision of the world, our readings…Inspiration comes from everything around us.

But, for this album, once we were working on the track listing, we found that a kind of concept has emerged. I like to summarize it by this sentence “We are the witnesses of death under all its forms”. Indeed, the theme of death is omnipresent in our work, under every of its levels; death of the flesh, death of the soul, death of the civilization, death of the world.

au-champ-des-morts-1-min

While on this subject, you stick –like most French bands– to your native language. Was this decision made because you feel more free to express yourself that way or some other reason (they sound more exotic for example)? Do you feel this as a limitation?

In fact we have not really thought about this, it came naturally. Maybe at the beginning we thought it would be easier to express ourselves in French because it is our mother language and we are attached to it, but it is not obvious to sing in French in Black Metal growls, it’s not really appropriate. Even in clear vocals in my case, it’s new to me, I’ve always sung in English or Latin so it’s a good challenge and you have to be careful to choose the words that make sense and can be musical too.

I think we use French because we wanted to deliver something which really comes from us and for the declaimed singing the French is perfect for its theatrical and powerful side too. I do not see this as a limitation, I just find that exercise is a bit more challenging.

What does the album cover stand for? Care to share some info on the artist who drew it?

The cover of our album was made by the talented artist Dehn Sora. He perfectly rendered the atmosphere of our album, the concept of death and its symbolic. Like any great artist, his work has many interpretations, it is for listeners to make their own, it’s the same thing about listening our music. You have to leave room for imagination and sensitivity of each one, art is made for that. We admire his work on contrasts and lights and his way of living black and white, this is what marked us and I invite you to take interest in the work of this artist.

What are your future plans? Do you have any live shows booked?

We’ve returned to composition, and we’re looking for a second guitarist to play live so no shows booked for the moment. It’s very important for us to construct something worthy of the album for what will be Au Champ Des Morts live and we hope to be ready soon.

How do you write music? What is your creative process?

It’s Stefan who mainly composes. The process is simple, usually everything starts from a riff which becomes an obsession. Then a structure is built and melody ideas keep coming. You have to be in a particular state of mind to compose, it’s a kind of second state, something beyond yourself. For that you must have time to devote yourself fully to it, I mean, trying to make a vacuum around yourself, which is not really easy sometimes.

Do you have some specific piece of gear or software that greatly facilitates your job?

Not really. We work the old way, with not really recent material, an old Atari, an analog console, vintage effect pedals, Marshall amps… This suits us perfectly. We only use computers for practical reasons and for recording software. That’s fine when it works but when it breaks down and you’re forced to take a recent pattern it becomes a headache. All this to realize in the end that it works much less well than before. It’s really frustrating to waste time with it…We hate the modern world and its nonsense.

au-champ-des-morts-2-min

France has built a trademark-BM scene. How does it feel to be part of it? Is it a blessing or a burden?

We are often asked this question, I do not have the impression of being a part of a “scene” strictly speaking. I don’t know if there is a trademark BM scene in France, as French musicians we have always been interested in French metal bands, so I think you are better placed than me to talk about it. The idea of scene disturbs me a bit in the sense that it evokes a certain form of conformity, or even competition.

For me, it is obvious that in recent years there have been talented and interesting artists in France. I think of bands such as Year of No Light, Throane, Alcest, Aluk Todolo … Of course they share common influences but they have very different personalities. The link is in the way of elaborating the art, and a certain state of mind that drive those bands to compose this way. It deals with sincerity and a will to come back to a more emotional way to make music, without thinking about business or selling. At least that is how I feel and I fully share this vision. If this is what you call the trademark BM French scene then I agree.

Any underground metal bands from your local area we should be looking out for?

Underground metal bands… No, I don’t see. The only name that comes to my mind is Burzum but I think you already know it. There are probably others but I don’t know them yet. The problem of overproduction…

What do you know about the Greek extreme metal scene? Any favorite bands?

I don’t know too much about Greek extreme metal scene, sorry. I know Astarte, Necromantia and Rotting Christ of course. I like Rotting Christ, Stefan knows them well as they went on tour together during the Anorexia Nervosa era.

Before letting you go, any news from the Anorexia Nervosa front?

Even if Anorexia Nervosa belongs to the past, we are always in touch with the members, we are close friends. They are fine. Concerning music, Hreidmarr has several musical projects in progress and Neb Xort still holds the Drudenhaus Studio, he has recorded our album.

Closing thoughts, anything else you want to add?

Thank you for this interview. Let yourself be invaded with Joy and Light…

 

Follow Au Champ Des Morts at https://www.facebook.com/Au-Champ-Des-Morts-1061663760580553

Au Champ Des Morts – Dans La Joie (2017)

au-champ-cover

Au Champ Des Morts are a somewhat new band, summoned in 2014 by former Anorexia Nervosa members who didn’t want to sit idly after the band went into hiatus, they released an EP in 2016, and now they are back with more of their bitter poison in the form of a debut album.

 

The album starts with a pretty standard sounding shoegaze track, and for the first four minutes nothing really prepares you for what is going to unfold before you. Then, around 4:05 something happens, something truly promising. The mood switches to the epic melancholy of late Primordial albums, the music speeds up a notch and the vocals become bolder in their expression. The album never loses interest from then on, constantly going back and forth between anger and despair. With every passing track more and more influences are transparently brought in. Loose ends from Asgaroth’s “Absence Spells Beyond”, from Therion’s “Vovin”, from Fen’s “Malediction Fields”, heck, even from Dead Can Dance’s “Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun” are tied nicely to what feels like the origins of depressive BM, and creates some of the finest French contemporary post black metal. Absolutely fucking brilliant songwriting!

 

The purposefully unclean guitars weave a dread web of mournful melodies, enhanced by the vocals in their many forms. The drums are unexpectedly inspired –for the genre– which was a positive surprise. The bass tries to follow this orgy, and in many a case you will catch it playing wicked tunes, but its somewhat flat sound doesn’t allow it to truly shine.

Production-wise, the mix is somewhat muddy. This isn’t really a deciding factor when it comes to black metal, yet in this case it does do a disservice to an –otherwise– excellent album. Dans La Joie goes way beyond the boundaries of shoegaze post black metal, and I guess it will appeal to fans of Fen, Drudkh, Primordial, Battle Dagorath, and anyone with an open mind really. Bottom line: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more info hit:

https://dmp666.bandcamp.com/album/dans-la-joie

https://www.facebook.com/Au-Champ-Des-Morts-1061663760580553/

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