Friday, March 20, 2020

Beseech - "Souls Highway" [2002]

Artist: Beseech
Title: Souls Highway
Genre: Gothic Metal
Country: Sweden
Year: 2002

Track List:
  1. Illusionate
  2. Between the Lines
  3. Souls Highway
  4. Blinded
  5. Endless Waters
  6. Fiction City
  7. Sunset 28
  8. A Last Farewell
  9. A Season in Green
  10. Beyond the Skies 
Another gothic metal album with dual male/female vocals, which is surprisingly little known despite having a somewhat classic status in the history of gothic metal by now. I've bought this album on a cassette quite a long time ago and was very much impressed by how atmospheric it is. Later I checked out the rest of Beseech discography (until 2006), but no their album has impressed me as much as this one. I've seen reviewers comparing it to early Lacuna Coil and even to Infinite Tales, but Beseech definitely doesn't sound like any of these bands. "Souls Highway" isn't particularly heavy or sophisticated in terms of musicianship, but the atmosphere is great - very melancholic and soothing - and I love the vocals by Lotta Höglin too. My personal favourites are "Between the Lines" and "Fiction City". My cassette also included a bonus track which is a very good cover version of ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" (if I haven't heard the original before, I'd think it was originally written as a metal song).



P.S. I know that Beseech have split up in 2006 and some of their former members went on forming The Mary Major and Those We Don't Speak Of (both bands nowhere near successful as Beseech), by I didn't know until recently that they have reformed in 2012 and released a fairly good new album in 2016. Their new vocalist is Angelina Sahlgren Söder which apparently has experience in theatre and musicals as well:

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I Miss My Death - "In Memories" [2014]

Artist: I Miss My Death
Title: In Memories
Genre: Symphonic Gothic/Doom Metal
Country: Ukraine
Year: 2014

Track List:
  1. The Last Overture
  2. In the Dark Garden of the Vampire
  3. In Memories
  4. Silence Cries
  5. Thirteen Autumns of My Solitude
  6. Earl Pale
  7. Trail into the Past
  8. Silent Existence
  9. Flower That Fades
  10. The On
  11. While You Remember Me
  12. Lacrimosa (Mozart)
Since the recent events all over the world (the whole coronavirus situation and the death of several prominent cultural figures, including Genesis P-Orridge, in just few recent days) are quite depressing, it's time for an appropriate kind of music. This time I'll present a gothic death/doom metal band from Kiev with dual male/female vocals that I discovered via their vocalist Elena Krivovyaz, who's also a classical opera singer (interestingly, she followed me on Instagram first). The band name might be not the best choice, but compared to names like I'm In A Coffin, it's not the worst either. The sound, aesthetics and lyrical themes on this album are all fairly standard for the genre (which isn't a bad thing at all, if you love the symphonic metal of 2000s and late 90s):


Check out also their newest single released last year:


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Crown of Asteria - "Demo MMXIII" [2013]

Artist: Crown of Asteria
Title: Demo MMXIII
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: USA
Year: 2013

Track List:
  1. Hymn of the Northern Bowers
  2. Beneath the Boreal Twilight
  3. Ascendancy of the Stars
  4. Through the Birch and Beyond the Lakes
Here's the first demo recording by Crown of Asteria, an one-woman black metal project that has appeared on my blog before, which I decided to check out because of this review:
One-woman black metal from the vast frozen northlands of...Michigan, but with a really nice foresty photo on the cover, nature-themed song titles that go beyond the genre standards to sound really enticing and track lengths that scream long-winded but powerfully epic.

The demo starts exactly as you'd hope, with some calm acoustic strumming that brings to mind things like Ulver's Kveldssanger. And just as it gets going, BOOM. The shittiest, most heinously inappropriately programmed blastbeating drum machine charges its way in, crushing that acoustic guitar riff before it even knew what was happening. It literally cuts the riff off and shits all over everything. It's like a conclave of elves in a pine forest clearing slowly starting their homage to the stars above with soft strumming of their lutes before the angelic voices and cascading strings and harps comes in to take everything to a higher plane of existence, then a hippopotamus strolls in and takes a massive shit on all the elves. Ever seen a hippopotamus take a shit? Look it up on YouTube.
That's definitely one of the funniest metal album reviews I've ever read, and while being quite unflattering, it's surprisingly accurate. That said, this demo isn't nearly as bad as you might have though after reading the passage above, and while I wouldn't recommend it to those unfamiliar with Meghan Wood's music (her discography is quite large with a lot of releases to choose from), it still was a quite enjoyable listen for me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Sasamaso

Did you know that there is a metal scene on Madagascar? In fact, Madagascar, along with Botswana, are among the very few African countries with more or less sizable metal scene, and the history of Malagasy metal can be traced to the late 80s.

Sasamaso isn't a new band as well, being formed in 2002 as the first female-fronted metal band in Madagascar (and probably one of the first in Africa), yet they have next to no physical releases apart from one extremely obscure demo in 2004. Fortunately they now have a Soundcloud page where you can check out some of their tracks. For the most part, their music is based in thrash metal, but I'd say their sound is quite unique and doesn't fit into any particular genre, especially when it comes to tracks like this:


Actually, I can hear a lot of similarities with metal from Malaysia and Indonesia, which is not surprising considering that the first settlers of Madagascar came from that general area and still keep their Austronesian language that's completely unrelated to any of the languages in mainland Africa. Likewise, the metal scene in Indonesia is well developed in comparison to the rest of Asia excluding Japan, much like the Malagasy metal scene in relation to the rest of Africa.

And here's one more track, with a bit more "traditional" metal sound. The quality of recording is far from perfect, but it's totally expected from such an obscure band:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Mefitis - "Despair" [2019]

Artist: Mefitis [蛮蜚之魃]
Title: Despair
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Country: China
Year: 2019

Track List:
  1. Cetus
  2. Ecdysis
  3. Desecrate
  4. Lotophagi
As a tradition, I start a series of posts about female-fronted bands on 8th of March, and let's start from an "international" metal band based out of Beijing, China, but featuring American and Slovenian musicians (no idea where's their vocalist comes from, though). Not much else is known about them except that they like to drink (well, a lot of metal musicians do, and in some cases - way too much) and overthink life and music. Also, "Anti-Burzum action" (by which they most likely mean opposing Varg Vikernes aka Louis Cachet's ideas and actions rather than music, which is totally understandable). The music is quite unorthodox black metal in the vein of Norwegian prog black scene (think how Urarv whould sound if Trish was singing instead of drumming). To quote a comment from Bandcamp:
A thrashy, raw, honest, and surprisingly creative progressive black metal gem from the depths of the underground. Don't be fooled: the production is clear and balanced, despite its rawness. The riffs are thoughtful, inspired, and refreshingly unorthodox, the bass plays far more than a supporting role, and the drummer uses his blasts creatively to great effect. I'm quite impressed, and want moooore!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Nuclear Winter (ZW) - "Night Shift" [2019]

Artist: Nuclear Winter
Title: Night Shift
Genre: Industrial Death Metal
Country: Zimbabwe
Year: 2019

Track List:
  1. The Western Gate
  2. Down Where We Belong
  3. Blueshift
  4. The God Without Shadows
  5. Life Sick Hearts
  6. Years Lent
  7. Fragments of Grandeur
  8. Third War
  9. The Coming Darkness
While the metal scene of Botswana is somewhat well known internationally, stumbling upon an industrial / "modern metal" project from Zimbabwe was a big surprise to me. While I'm still not completely sure it's not a gimmick (especially considering that the only member of Nuclear Winter is white), I have no reasons not to believe the location stated on NW's bandcamp page ("Harare, Zimbabwe") either. When it comes to sound, it's futuristic-sounding melodic death metal with drum machine and lots of electronics. Nothing particularly groundbreaking, but fairly well produced for an one-man project. According to the project's Facebook page, there's also several EPs released as early as in 2013, but all the download links are dead by now.


Saturday, February 29, 2020

Skinflint - "Iklwa" [2010]

Artist: Skinflint
Title: Iklwa
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Botswana
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Iron Pierced King
  3. Mbube the Great
  4. Burning the Soul with Diesel
  5. Iklwa
  6. The Fallen
  7. Profit Making Funeral
  8. When You Die, You Die!
  9. Army of the Dead (Bonus)
  10. Gauna (Live)
Botswana is a relatively developed and stable country (by African measures, that is) bordering South Africa, known for its significant metal scene (probably the biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa after SAR, even if it isn't saying much since most SSA countries don't have any metal bands at all) with a pecular love for cowboy stage outfits. The first rock bands appeared in Botswana during the 70s, and the first Botswanian metal band most likely was Metal Orizon, formed in 1990. I personally found out about metal scene in Botswana in late 2000s after stumbling upon a death metal band from there (if memory serves, it was Crackdust), but it was hard to find any further information about such an obscure scene back then.

Out of all metal bands from Botswana, Skinflint is one of the best known ones internationally, yet most of their albums are quite hard to find. So far I have listened only to their sophomore release "Iklwa", and judging from the reviews, it's not their best work, but it turned out to better than I expected. Essentially, it's somewhat repetitive heavy metal / hard rock with galloping riffs, clearly influenced by Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath yet having enough "African" flavour to it. The lyrics are most based on African mythology and were intended to be scary, but in the end turning out to be funny like a bad horror movie. All in all, I should agree with the critics that "Iklwa" would be a weak album if it was released by an European band in 2010, but considering the place of its release, it has the same appeal that poorly recorded yet honest classic metal albums from early 1980s. Get it here.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Krummholz - "Rooted in Despair" [2018]

Artist: Krummholz
Title: Rooted in Despair
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: Uganda / USA / Ghana
Release date: 2018

Track List:
  1. A Morning in the Autumn Forest
  2. To Father Worlds in the Bones of Ancient Solitude
This one would be a fairly typical nature-inspired black metal EP, if not for the fact that it was recorded by an international projects whose members come from the US, Ghana (or according to other sources, Kenya) and Uganda of all places. The EP consists of an ambient/new age intro with nature sounds, and one long atmospheric/post-black metal track  While I didn't notice anything particularly "African" about its sound, it's quite good for a debut release and makes me insterested in what Krummholz may put out in the future.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Don Zilla - "From the Cave to the World" [2019]

Artist: Don Zilla
Title: From the Cave to the World
Genre: Techno, Dark Ambient
Country: Uganda
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. From the Cave
  2. Inside Me
Another interesting release from Hakuna Kulala - the debut 2-track EP by an Ugandan producer known as Don Zilla. The first track is techno/D&B, while the second, longer one is much closer to dark ambient:
"Following up his remixes of STILL’s ‘I’ album cuts in 2018, Don Zilla bares his teef in both parts of ‘From The Cave to the World’, first churning up a viscous groove full of shadow-boxing drums and gutter bass distortion on the cusp of dubstep rave and halfstep D&B with ‘From The Cave’, before opening up a stargate like portal in his studio with 12 minutes of plunging beatless depth and unheimlich terra forming in ‘Inside Me’, and in a way recalling early Emptyset or stare-out Prurient piece"