Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Voivod - "Phobos" [1997]

Artist: Voivod
Title: War and Pain
Genre: Progressive Thrash Metal, Industrial Metal
Country: Canada (Quebec)
Release date: 1997

Track List:
  1. Catalepsy I
  2. Rise
  3. Mercury
  4. Phobos
  5. Bacteria
  6. Temps Mort
  7. The Tower
  8. Quantum
  9. Neutrino
  10. Forlorn
  11. Catalepsy II
  12. M-Body
  13. 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson cover)
Here's another Voivod album I'd like to mention here. I've never seen it mentioned as "Voivod's best" (unlike any of their late 80s' albums), but it's certainly one of their most experimental ones, and arguably the only one that can be called "industrial metal" without a stretch. Surely, it isn't much different from most other Voivod albums in the terms of lyrics and aesthmetics (as they always were fascinated with sci-fi themes, technology, and social issues), but it's noticeably different from the aforementioned "best" albums in terms of sound. "Phobos" isn't the kind of album I'd listen to every day (in fact, all Voivod albums aren't), but it definitely worth checking out for both prog metal and industrial metal fans. Of course it isn't hard to find on the net (i.e. on dark-world.ru)

Voivod - "War & Pain" [1984]

Artist: Voivod
Title: War and Pain
Genre: Thrash Metal
Country: Canada (Quebec)
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Voivod
  2. Warriors of Ice
  3. Suck Your Bone
  4. Iron Gang
  5. War and Pain
  6. Blower
  7. Live for Violence
  8. Black City
  9. Nuclear War
Since Voivod were mentioned in my previous entry, I decided to post their debut full-length release from the era when their sound wasn't too "progressive" yet. This album is raw thrash metal with a healthy dose of punk, apparently inspired by bands like Venom and Warfare. I'm pretty sure it already was reviewed numerous times, so I have to say only one thing: while I normally don't listen to this kind of music too much, the aesthetics on this album are 10 out of 10. If you're looking for a thrash metal album with post-apocalyptic/post-nuclear theme, this one would be exactly what you're looking for (along with "Pray For War" by Virus).

What else is interesting about this album? The lyrics. They look like being written by someone who had even worse proficiency in English than me, which resulted in quite a few truly brilliant lines like "Go shit! I'm not a fish we're gonna burn your home". At times, it feels like they just wanted to write down all the scary words they know, but the result turned out to be surprisingly impressive:

"Riding, crashing, charging run to the wrong side
In the night bastard, savage, prowler
Whip the engine for more power fast winds, highway, hell song
Feel the fog in the black storm
Darkness, black walls, shadows can't see the light on the road
Alone in a haunted concrete foundation
Abandoned and possessed in a ghostly mansion
Desert, ghost town, bare lands dark street create a fear
Closed lamps, curfews dead leaves
The black cat awaits the witch
Don't stay in black city your soul will catch the spell"

Or this one, which probably was supposed to be sci-fi themed (like many other Voivod songs written later):

"Learning the rules of the games with atrocity
Living in a prehistoric weather with intensity
Armed cold weapons in hand charged mangled corpse on the land
The bestial contortions on the prey makes me lust to kill 'em all everyday
Curdled by frost too young to rust fight be wild
Warriors of ice the hell fighters
Warriors of ice"

That's what is remarkable about this album - back them, Voivod were absolute beginners when it comes to writing both music and lyrics, but the end result turned out to be surprisingly better than could be expected. On their later releases, they continued to break the rules of songwriting (this time intentionally), thus becoming one of most unorthodox metal bands of their time.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Spectral Incursion - s/t [1989]

Artist: Spectral Incursion
Title: Spectral Incursion
Genre: Progressive Heavy/Thrash Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. Rails
  2. The Other Side
  3. Beneath Your Lives
  4. Last Of The Torment
This EP is certainly one of the strangest releases I've discovered via Vibrations of Doom about a decade ago. Something that can be loosely described as a mix of Rush and Black Sabbath at one hand, and early Voivod and Watchtower at another, with a rather rough quality of production (but what else to expect from an obscure 80's metal release with such a cover artwork?..) I managed to find a more or less detailed review of it here, and a short biography of the band here, but not much beyond that. Anyway, if you liked this release and want more from the same people, check out "Into the Unknown" by Doctor Smith - a "sci-fi space opera" made in early 2010s by former Spectral Incursion members.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Koenjihyakkei - "Hundred Sights of Koenji" [1994]

Artist: Koenjihyakkei
Title: Hundred Sights of Koenji
Genre: Avant-Prog, Zeuhl
Country: Japan
Release date: 1994

Track List:
  1. Ioss
  2. Doi Doi
  3. Molavena
  4. Gepec
  5. Yagonahh
  6. Ozone Fall
  7. Zhess
  8. Zoltan
  9. Avedumma
  10. Sunna Zarioki
高円寺百景 aka Koenji Hyakkei were one of the few bands that can be safely called the worthy successors of Magma. The Zeuhl subgenre of avant-prog, started by Magma, gained any significant following only in France and Japan, most importantly such bands as Ruins and this band (which was started as a side project of a member of Ruins).

This album has everything we love this genre for, including (but not limited to): throbbing bass, complex rhythm patterns, and the lyrics sung in a made-up language. This album is their debut one, and it isn't as avant-garde as the subsequent ones, such as "Angherr Shisspa". Still I wonder how many people have bought it solely because of it's cover, expecting it to be some nice and easy-to-listen Asian music :)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Сепсис - "Литургия безумия" [1991]

Artist: Сепсис
Title: Литургия безумия
Genre: Avant-Prog, Krautrock
Country: USSR
Release date: 1991

Track List: 

Side A:
  1. Отчуждение
  2. В Плену У Диких Собак
  3. Размышляя О...
  4. В Волнах Желания
  5. Апогей
Side B:
  1. Изгнание Бесов
  2. Погружаясь В Сон
  3. Плач Блуждающей Девы
  4. Спазмы Рассудка
  5. Оковы Славы
  6. Прочь Из Этих Мест
  7. Изгнание Бесов
  8. Катарсис 
All I know about this band is that they were an instrumental avant-garde rock trio from Pushkin (which is in the vicinity of St.Petersburg). This album was recorded during March-April 1990 with the help of Yuri Morozov as sound engineer, and was released on vinyl by Andrei Tropillo's label AnTrop, when the band already has split up.

Although it was produced by such famous (at the time) people in the Russian rock scene, it failed to get much publicity, mostly because the music was too unaccessible for an average listener. There were very few Soviet rock bands whise music could be called "avant-prog", and Sepsis definitely were one of them. The album is titled "Liturgy of Madness", which is a pretty appropriate name for a piece of such scary music (maybe not on pair with the best works of Goblin, Univers Zero and Shub-Niggurath, but still). The only known mp3 rip of it consists of two long tracks corresponding to the A and B sides of the original release:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mars Everywhere - "Industrial Sabotage" [1980]

Artist: Mars Everywhere
Title: Industrial Sabotage
Genre: Avant-Prog, Space-Rock, Electronic
Country: USA
Release date: 1980

Track List:
  1. The Enchanted Domain
  2. Steady State Theory
  3. Mare Chromium
  4. Zone Of Twilight
  5. Zöln
  6. Attack Of The Giant Squid
A very strange album released on Random Radar Records (which, if I'm not mistaken, was a precursor to Cuneiform Records, which every avant-prog & RIO fan knows about). Some backstory on it can be found here. The author compares Mars Everywhere to Gong and Hawkwind on one side, and to Tangerine Dream or Conrad Schnitzler (and the Berlin school of electronic music in general) on the other. As for me, it sounds suprisingly alike some Yuri Morozov's early electronic works, especially considering that he was using pretty much the same sort of sci-fi/dystopian aesthetics.

It's certainly not for everyone's liking, but if you like both the avant-garde prog rock of the late 70s and early 80s, and the early industrial scene of the same time, give it a listen. Found it at the Ezhevika Fields blog (which has nothing to do with Ezhevika the lead vocalist of Oyme, yet it's still great):

Venetian Snares - "Rossz Csillag Alatt Született" [2005]

Artist: Venetian Snares
Title: Rossz Csillag Alatt Született
Genre: Breakcore
Country: Canada
Release date: 2005

Track List:
  1. Sikertelenség
  2. Szerencsétlen
  3. Öngyilkos Vasárnap
  4. Felbomlasztott Mentökocsi
  5. Hajnal
  6. Galamb Egyedúl
  7. Második Galamb
  8. Szamár Madár
  9. Hiszékeny
  10. Kétsarkú Mozgalom 
  11. Senki Dala 
This is my favourite album in the whole Aaron Funk's large discography, and not only because it features a very interesting and unique mix of breakcore and classical music (see Wikipedia to find out what pieces of classical music were used on there). Most important of all, it's based on the urban legend of the "Hungarian suicide song" ("Szomorú Vasárnap" by Rezső Seress), which greatly impressed me at the time and became one of the most important reasons for me to became interested in the culture of Finno-Ugric peoples. As for Funk, he became interested in this story when he was on his European tour, after imagining himself turning into a pigeon on Budapest's Royal Palace, and he decided to record this album when he came back home to his cats in Winnipeg:

An extremely detailed musicological analysis of "Rossz Csillag Alatt Született" can be found here. Too technical for you? Check out this review then. It's a very interesting read (probably much better than anything that I could ever write on this subject), and I can relate to its author's feelings very well. Just like him, I have never self-harmed and have never attempted suicide, yet I'm diagnosed with depression (F32.1), and the late 2016-early 2017 period was especially horrible for me (thankfully it slowly gets better now).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Access To Arasaka / Erode / Dirk Geiger - "Reports From The Abyss" [2017]

Artist: Access To Arasaka / Erode / Dirk Geiger
Title: Reports From The Abyss
Genre: Industrial, Ambient, IDM
Country: USA
Release date: 2017

Track List:
  1. Reports From The Abyss
  2. Walking With Ghosts
  3. Reset
  4. Fallen Empires
  5. Null Moon
  6. No Place Called Home
  7. Reports From The Abyss [by Anklebiter]
  8. Walking With Ghosts by [Lights Out Asia]
  9. Reset [by Formalin]
  10. Fallen Empires [by Haujobb]
  11. Null Moon [by Displacer]
  12. No Place Called Home [by Dryft]
From Bandcamp: "A very unique collection of songs and different sub-genres that have been fused into something very Industrial, but so new and interesting". A very accurate description of this album, which contains 6 tracks recorded by Access To Arasaka & collaborators around 2012, with alternative versions of each track as a bonus. The whole thing sounds quite different from ATA's solo works, mainly because these tracks are songs rather than soundscapes. Unfortunately, Rob Lioy, the man behind the ATA moniker, is too busy with his family life now to record any new music (at least that's what I've heard), which is a pity because his albums are one of the best examples of the cyberpunk-themed music.

"As early as in the year of 2012 electronic solo artists Access To Arasaka, Erode and Dirk Geiger started reflecting about combining their powers and working like a real band. Their main objective was to write more song-orientated music instead of flowing soundscapes. After months of fruitful collaboration, they held three songs in their hands and felt very happy about the outcome. In quick succession another three promising tracks were finished.

Already during these sessions the idea of engaging other artists for alternative versions of these songs came up. Only artists that were influential and inspirational to the three actors were chosen. The good news is that all of the favored few were on board and did striking versions of said songs.

When everything was recorded and ready for mixing (mixing-session was scheduled literally for the next day!), Erode´s car was broken into and all harddrives plus backup hard drives were gone...
With nothing left and with a heavy heart the three decided to put the project to sleep. Frustrated but grateful for the experiences and the new made friends everybody went back to his business.

In 2016 Erode discovered some old backups in his studio and found fragments of Reports from the Abyss. First there were just some unorganized tracks, but step by step more and more material was brought to light. Within a few months they managed recovering all files. So Erode and Dirk Geiger plucked up courage to walk the extra mile and put everything together for a second time..." 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Time To Meet The Devil - "Inside the Monolith" [2016]

Artist: Time To Meet The Devil
Title: Inside The Monolith
Genre: Dark Ambient, Neoclassical
Country: Russia
Release date: 2016

Track List:
  1. Pure Delirium
  2. Thanatron
  3. Before The Haze
  4. Melting Core
  5. Deadlock
One member of TTMTDis from Volgograd and another one is from Novosibirsk, and this duo is considered to be one of the most interesting new projects on the Russian (post-)industrial scene. The "Inside the Monolith" EP is an attempt in creating futuristic/cyberpunk-themed music mostly inspired by the OSTs by Trent Reznor ("The Girl With Dragon Tattoo" and "Gone Girl), using FL Studio 4:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shadow Reichenstein - "Werewolf Order" [2005]

Artist: Shadow Reichenstein
Title: Werewolf Order
Genre: Gothic Rock, Horror Punk
Country: USA
Release date: 2005

Track List:
  1. Borgo Pass
  2. Dracula
  3. Werewolf Order
  4. It's Halloween
  5. Wakin' The Dead
  6. Tombstone... Call From The Grave
  7. Be My Victim
  8. It's Too Late
  9. Bela Was A Junkie
  10. In Search Of Loose Dirt 
  11. Concrete Shoes
At a first glance at the band name and the track titles, one would expect the music to be as stereotypical horror punk as possible. However, Shadow Reichenstein actually are (or were? there's no new material from them for a long time, and their site is defunct...) much better than many Misfits clones. "Werewolf Order" was one of the first horror punk albums I heard (along with early albums by Cancerslug and Nim Vind), and it remains one of my favourites even a decade later. The music on this album, while still can be securely defined as "horror punk", has a lot of gothic rock/metal influences, which is definitely a good thing too. My personal favourites are tracks #4, #6 and #8.