God Syndrome – Controverse (2016)

god-syndrome-controverse-480

Time and time again I have declared my dislike to groovy metal-core. And here I am reviewing an album that stands with one foot in it. No, it’s not dry season. Rather the opposite. It’s just the simple fact that this is a killer album despite its grooviness (or –for people that aren’t me– thanks to exactly that).

God Syndrome come from Samara, Russia. Have I told you lately how the Russian extreme metal scene is becoming a really great one? This is another example of this fact. With one foot knee-deep in American tech-death-core and the other in Swedish melo-death, they present an annihilating mix similar to Hypocrisy on steroids.

The album starts with a tech-y catch-all track, one to lure the average generalist metalhead, but shortly after that it gets a character of its own (and gains the review slot). The songs flow beautifully and you won’t even notice its almost hourly duration. This in my book counts as great songwriting.

The guitars are expertly performed, especially for a lead-packed album such as this one. These melodic leads are pretty trippy to the point of melancholy, bringing late Septic Flesh and Hypocrisy to mind on many occasions. The vocals are perfect and fit the music in both its brutal and melodic phases. The drums are intense and really well composed. Always on target –no matter the experimentation– they manage to give the right atmosphere to every riff. The bass here takes on a more supportive role. Clean and powerful, it glues all the pieces together.

Sound-wise, the production is perfect. The instruments are well separated and mixed properly. Special care has been given to preserve enough “air” to let the dynamics do their part.

Overall, this is an album worth your time and money. I never really expected to say something like that for an album with a –core synthetic in it but honestly, anything less would be a mean lie. It has enough power to satisfy every extreme death metal fan, and enough groove to satisfy pretty much every other metalhead. Fans of Hypocrisy around “The Final Chapter” era will surely love it (this is the third time I dropped their name so I really mean it)! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more info follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/godsyndrome

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…

Noteworthy Report: March 2017

Welcome my friends to a very, VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. As you know, ATF is a project I run on my free time, and these past two months were busy as fvck putting me off track.

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums get released every month, and March had more than his fair share of “big” releases, from the highly anticipated fourth album of Woe, to a new Forteresse release, and from the –also highly anticipated– furious album of The Furor to the debut of all-star Doedsvangr. On top of the fierce competition for fan attention, Mastodon released their new album which –as uninspired as it is– overshadowed pretty much everything else.

Yet the underground never sleeps; if you aren’t easily entertained by the “low hanging fruit”, March came with some impressive gifts that passed under the radars of big publications. Without further ado, these are some of the most noteworthy releases.

 

Vacivus – Nuclear Chaos

The UK blackened deathsters (ala-Portal) return with a short but killer EP. Soul crushing riffs reduce everything to dust. Nuclear Chaos is upon us, embrace it or perish!

 

Harvest Gulgaltha – Altars Of Devotion

In a similar vein, Harvest Gulgaltha play “cryptic necromantic black death metal”, or in other words, minimal blackened death. The majority of the album is slow-paced and feels like sinking in quicksand. So much gloom and despair it feels otherworldly.

 

Mistveil – Amnesia

This is quite a debut from my compatriots Mistveil. They play melodic doom/death metal in the vein of Saturnus and early Draconian. I personally enjoy such music during the cold winter nights, but this is just my preference and timing isn’t a factor of quality in any case. You don’t want to miss it!

 

Nordland – European Paganism

This here is an album with what I call a “barrier-to-entry”. The first minutes of the album feel like they pointlessly thrust in every direction, but at some point you get what they try (and ultimately manage) to do. The album is exactly what the title says: they pick threads from pagan black all over Europe, and join them in a unique piece of art. You will hear Enslaved (both early and late), Ancient Rites, Fen and a bunch of other influences beautifully married in unity. A really interesting as well as demanding listen.

 

Wormwood – Ghostlands: Wounds From A Bleeding Earth

The Swedish folk black-metallers released their debut album this month. Filled with mostly awesome stuff, fans of Thyrfing and Amon Amarth will want to check it out. There are some odd, off-putting, Iron Maiden-ish moments here and there, but I guess this never killed anyone…

 

Pillorian – Obsidian Arc

Born just this past summer by veterans of the scene (including John Haughm of ex-Agalloch), Pillorian released their debut album in March, sharing their take on avant-garde folk black metal. If you’re a fan of USBM don’t skip this album…

 

In the following days I will release the April NWR, as well as a special NWR of releases that I listened and cared enough to share but fell through the cracks of time and ultimately never got to talk about them. So stay tuned, and as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Noteworthy Report: January 2017

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. Unfortunately, this means that an awful lot of good albums are not going to be reviewed.

This is why I post 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), or 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, 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.

 

Acrosome – Narrator and Remains

This is the second full length for the Turkish one-man band. Nightmarish ambient covered in a fog of murky avant-garde black metal. There are many elements I didn’t really liked, but the overall impression the album did to me was very powerful. Few dare to execute this kind of music, and fewer do it properly. Acrosome tried and delivered.

 

Afterblood – Blood Art Tryptych (EP)

I wasn’t aware of this Greek blackened death metal act, until we shared the stage half a year ago. Their energetic show was captivating, so when they released this new EP I was eager to check it out. The overall impression is very good, even if I mostly prefer their blackened moments (see Behold The Fallen). Definitely worth your time.

 

Begerith – A.D.A.M.

I knew I was in for a treat with this album even as the intro was still unfolding. Polish blackened death metal, closely following on the steps of late Behemoth. Astonishingly majestic, majestically astonishing.

 

Draugsól – Volaða Land

This is a cliché joke by now: there is something in the waters of Iceland, no other explanation for how they manage to have so many, so talented, so high quality extreme metal bands up there. Draugsól are no exception.

 

Scáth Na Déithe – Pledge Nothing But Flesh

Now this is a tricky beast. These guys manage to instill a heavy, mournful atmosphere to their black metal, dispelled only by the constant gear shifts from doom to high speeds. Parts of it are pure nightmare material, parts are direct whispers from the outer planes, and parts are just Irish black metal. Interesting listen in any event.

 

Enepsigos – Plague of Plagues

This is a hell of a debut. The Norwegians start their album with somewhat careful tracks, but as the clock gets ticking they raise the bar higher with every passing song. Less than halfway in, they finally stand up for their bio proclamation: this is some Trve Norwegian Black Metal. The ‘groove’ didn’t do me any good, but some riffs are pure poison. Don’t miss it.

Listen to the whole album here: https://drakkar-productions-official.bandcamp.com/album/enepsigos-plague-of-plagues

 

The Flight of Sleipnir – Skadi

The Americans return this year with their 6th album of ethereal progressive black/doom. The slowly unweaving tracks create the perfect otherworldly atmosphere to accompany your whiskey. Too bad there are not as many hours in a day to properly enjoy this.

 

These are some of the most impressive releases for the first month of 2017. If things keep up like this, I can safely bet this is going to be a hell of a year!

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2016 (4/4)

The time has come to close this 4-part Noteworthy Report. These albums and EPs made my year SO much better and if you have compatible music tastes (which is why you are here probably) I can guarantee they will make yours too if you take the time to listen to them.

 

Paul Ozz – Tartarvs

While it is hugely common for black metal musicians to form one man “bands”, the same is a rarity in the death metal scene. Paul Ozz is a hard working musician who managed to put together a little gem of progressive death metal in the form of an EP. He also released a new single just this month.

Listen in full here: https://paulozzmusic.bandcamp.com/album/tartarvs

 

Panzerfaust – The Lucifer Principle

If you ever wondered how the end of the world would sound if you were trapped in a dusty cathedral while it was happening, this EP has the answer. This is some dark black metal.

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/decibelmagazine/sets/panzerfaust-the-lucifer-principle

 

Perennial Isolation – Epiphanies of the Orphaned Light

This is the third album for the atmospheric black metal band from Spain, and I got to say, they did a tremendously good job at every aspect, from the compositions, to sound, to artwork. The moment you hold this CD you know you’re in for a ride through misty forests. Highly recommended for fans of Agalloch and Fen.

 

Sol Sistere – Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum

Chile has a quite small metal scene, but the few names that made it out of the ‘deep underground’ are of such remarkable quality that makes up for their numbers. This one here is one of the best atmospheric post black metal albums I heard all year.

 

Sinsaenum – Echoes Of The Tortured

Interesting mix of black and death metal. Some DM parts felt underwhelming, but otherwise it is a solid release. Amazing lead guitars and all kinds of cool stuff going on with vocals, and how couldn’t be with three singers one of whom being Attila Csihar…

 

Sojourner – Empires of Ash

Murky, atmospheric black metal bordering pagan folk. For fans of Summoning and Saturnus alike. Quite enjoyable for slow evenings.

 

Sylvaine – Wistful

Shoegaze post rock with a few blackened moments that bring Dismal Euphony’s ‘Soria Moria Slot’ to mind and others reminding late The Gathering, while still carrying a personal brand. Pretty good music to relax you after a hard day.

 

Spire – Entropy

An album that is constantly switching from agonizing Doom/Death to rabid Black metal. It resonates a murky gloomy atmosphere even in its most energetic moments. Excellent work from the Aussies.

 

Temple of Katharsis / Faceless God / Sulferon – Knights Of The Northern Black Empire

The one thing you will immediately notice upon playing this split is the primitive production and sound. But as I stated opening the series of this “Noteworthy Report – all of the great releases of 2016 I didn’t get the time to mention during the year”, I AM giving a break to the least established acts. Once you allow your mind to focus on the music, you will find 6 killer compositions that present 3 different aspects of the Greek underground. Sharp, short and to the point.

 

The Foreshadowing – Seven Heads Ten Horns

There are parts of genius and parts that threw me off, pretty much in constant exchange. It still sounds like a dream, it manages to carry you away. Two Horizons is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard this year.

More info here: https://cycloneempire.bandcamp.com/album/seven-heads-ten-horns

 

Thy Worshiper – Klechdy

Magical, paganistic neofolk, prog black metal from Poland. It sure sounds interesting but can it be good too? Short answer, YES. If Ravenloft was a real place, this could be its folk music.

 

Ultha – Converging Sins

This album generated some hype, and rightly so. Unfortunately I found the majority of vocals not really matching the music which is a masterpiece. Still it is a great album that will give you goosebumps on many occasions throughout its duration (which is slightly over an hour).

 

Urgehal – Aeons in Sodom

Old school Norwegian Black/Thrash. Is there really anything to say about Urgehal? If you never heard of them before, well, you’re a little late…

 

Urfaust – Empty Space Meditation

Urfaust is a band I always liked for the ritualistic occult paranoia of their music, and I always admired for their ability to transfer the feeling of their recordings on a live setting as a duo. Empty Space Meditation carries the heavy air of Der Freiwillige Bettler, yet the maturity of the band in this new release is striking.

 

Voidthrone – Spiritual War Tactics

If you ever go on a journey through some barren desolate hell-hole, this is THE must-have soundtrack to heighten your despair. Dissonant black/doom from USA at its best.

 

Void Omnia – Dying Light

This is the debut album of this newly formed American melodic black metal band, and I must admit they did a hell of a good job. The contemporary US BM scene is becoming quite the thing lately.

Listen here: https://voidomnia.bandcamp.com/album/dying-light

 

Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter

The lads from UK are on fire for yet another album. Melancholic, misty, atmospheric black metal, and a brave cover of Ulver’s “Troldskog Faren Vild” compose an instant classic. Don’t miss that one.

 

I haven’t included the albums that I presented in previous Noteworthy Reports (in November and December), nor the albums I reviewed (Deathkin, Battle Dagorath, GreyAblaze, Ossuary Anex, Diabolical) as this would be redundant. The fact I got to talk about them in the first place means that they ARE so special.

If you discovered some other albums that I may missed and you believe I will enjoy, feel free to let me know in the comments…

Have a fucking great week everyone!

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2016 (3/4)

The sad thing about early EoY lists is that it pretty much renders EoY lists moot. You are supposed to present your readers with the list of what albums you think are the best releases of the year. But when you publish them early, a lot of great releases are left out (as if a release near the days when people are buying presents isn’t a valid strategy for bands), so it actually is a list of “best releases of the year so far”. Then why not do it in October? “Don’t be ridiculous, this would just mean best releases of the year so far, it won’t be the best releases of the year so far close to end of year”. Right.

Anyway, enough chit chat and on to the meat.

 

Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith

Inquisition prove one more time that even when they have a bad day, they can do far better than most ‘mainstream’ black metal bands.

 

In the Woods… – Pure

Now this is some comeback! I never really hoped for a second “Heart of the Ages” and so I wasn’t really disappointed that they didn’t deliver one. Still, this isn’t some half-arsed attempt to grab easy money using your past glory as many bands usually do (Gh-Venom-gh). Listen to it, it REALLY is In The Woods

 

In Vain – Mantra

Progressive Black/Death Metal from Norway. Took some 4-5 minutes to grab my attention, but from then on it was a breeze, despite some odd moments. Fans of Borknagar should not miss this.

 

Imperium Infernalis – Imago Dei

Nightmarish vocals, exquisite drumming, tormenting riffs, forge this extraordinary album. Progressive black metal made in Greece. Don’t miss this!

 

Kawir – Πάτερ ‘Ηλιε Μήτερ Σελάνα

Kawir are probably the oldest and most respected Pagan Black metal band in Greece. This album is a bit more heavy metal centric than their previous works but it is still amazing. HAIL KAWIR!

Listen to the album here: https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kawir-father-sun-mother-moon

 

Kosmokrator – First Step Towards Supremacy

The biggest drawback here is some of the drumming which in some cases feels out of place. Overlooking this, there are some great riffs, extraordinary vocals and an effort so solid you will sh*t bricks.

 

Lux Divina – Walk Within the Riddle

Spanish black metal with a feeling, for fans of Wolves In The Throne Room. Very well thought out compositions, tight and focused play and an excellent production. Give them your attention, they worth it.

 

Mistur – In Memoriam

Sognametal is alive again! If you don’t know what it means then I guess you don’t know about Windir. If you do know what it means, I can only add this comes right after “Arntor” in my preferences. YES, it is THAT good!

Listen in full here: https://mistur.bandcamp.com/album/in-memoriam

 

Murg – Gudatall

Grim and ferocious Swedish black metal. It could be a masterpiece, but somehow they manage to abruptly dismiss all the tension buildup, which will make you feel awkward in many cases. A very good album nonetheless.

 

Netherbird – The Grander Voyage

Finely crafted Swedish melodic black/death metal. The album flows from start to finish as a beautiful stream of music, revolving around a main theme and using it playfully to cross boundaries and genres. Nothing you haven’t heard before (not THAT important to me anyways), it has its fair share of epic moments.

 

Novembre – Ursa

Partially doom, partially prog, partially death, this wild mix is probably the best album Italy gave to the world over the last years. Highly recommended for fans of late Enslaved and Fen, and to anyone who appreciates well composed music actually.

Buy it here: https://novembre2.bandcamp.com/album/ursa

 

Negură Bunget – ZI

When you merge the folk tradition of Transilvania with natural ambient black ‘n’ roll the result is certainly weird, and paradoxically sounds great. A rewarding listen…

 

Nahtrunar – Existenz

When this album got released halfway in December, I knew it was going in my EoY list within minutes. It deserved to spread like wild fire, but unfortunately most major publications had already closed their lists and articles for the year at that time. If you are serious about your black metal, you CANNOT afford to miss such a finely crafted album.

 

Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows

We used to say that there is something in the Icelandic water that turns its youth into super-musicians. I am starting to believe that there is something going on with French water too. Relentless experimental black metal, in the vein of Deathspell Omega. Top notch.

 

Prosternatur – Abyssus Abyssum Invocat

Ritualistic experimental black metal. I don’t have much to say about it, it is *almost* a masterpiece. There were a handful of moments that disturbed the whole atmosphere that was building, but apart from that, the album is really haunting. Great release.

 

Verwoed – Bodemloos

Bodemloos in English means bottomless, and this EP is exactly that. The loose structures of the songs pull you toward a spiral to the depths of hell. Nightmarish black metal is what the Dutch are good at, and this is no exception.

 

So this was the 3rd part of my list of noteworthy releases. One more to go, and then I might even tell you which of all those are my favorites. Have a great weekend everyone!

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…