Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Red Harvest / Zyklon - split [2003]

Artist: Red Harvest / Zyklon
Title: split 7''
Genre: Industrial Metal, Electronic
Country: Norway
Release date: 2003

Track List:
  1. Zyklon - Storm Detonation (Remixed By OCD@VOID)
  2. Red Harvest - Re-Hammer-Mix (Fix-Hammer-Fix) (Remixed By OCD@VOID)
You most likely already are familiar with Red Harvest, which are one of my all-time favourite industrial metal bands, as well as with Zyklon, which was founded by Samoth after the split-up of Emperor and Zyklon-B. Despite the name similarity, Zyklon-B and Zyklon were two different bands; while Zyklon-B tried to be as "trve" black metal as possible (which didn't stop them from using keyboards, though), Zyklon were a death/black metal band with strong industrial overtones. I've heard their first (and the best) album "World ov Worms" about 15 years ago, and it left a huge impression on me at the time - I've never heard anything so heavy before! This split 7'', however, doesn't sound much like that album, or like any metal at all - these two tracks are electronic remixes of one Zyklon track that originally appeared on "World ov Worms", and an instrumental Red Harvest track originally released on "Cold Dark Matter" (2000). The person who made these remixes has also worked with the UK industrial black metal band Void, which is highly recommended to check out too.

Zyklon-B - "Blood Must Be Shed" [1995]

Artist: Zyklon-B
Title: Blood Must Be Shed
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Norway
Release date: 1995

Track List:
  1. Mental Orgasm
  2. Bloodsoil
  3. Warfare
Here's that (in)famous EP that already was mentioned on my blog several times as an example of TNBM in its purest form. Zyklon-B were a relatively short lived (1995-99) "supergroup" formed by members of such well-known bands as Emperor, Satyricon and Dødheimsgard. Despite releasing only three songs (+ one remix) and nothing else, they firmly secured their place in the history of black metal scene.

While I generally agree with the author of the Servile Insurrection blog (which sadly doesn't exist anymore) that anyone who talks about "black metal ideology" with a straight face shouldn't be taken seriously, the apocalyptic and aggressive atmosphere on this EP is pretty impressive (especially keeping in mind it was recorded in one of the most peaceful and rich countries of the world). Many black metal bands tried to achieve this, but very few succeeded (out of what was posted on here before, I think only "Total Extermination" by Uranium 235 and "Triumph Through Spears Of Sacrilege" by Damaar can be comparable with this EP).

The first two tracks are fairly standard primitive second-wave black metal with some keyboards, and the last one is easily the most interesting on the whole album. It's as aggressive as the first two ones, yet it features a lot of melodic keyboard parts as well as quite a few spoken word samples that give some "industrial" feel to it. Overall, this release is a classic one, and definitely should be recommended to anyone who likes Norwegian black metal in general, although I personally prefer more avant-garde acts from that scene (Arcturus, Fleurety, Ved Buens Ende, Dødheimsgard... to name a few).

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ulver - "Nattens Madrigal" [1997]

Artist: Ulver
Title: Nattens Madrigal: Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Norway
Release date: 1997

Track List:
  1. Hymn I - Wolf And Fear
  2. Hymn II - Wolf And The Devil
  3. Hymn III - Wolf And Hatred
  4. Hymn IV - Wolf And Man
  5. Hymn V - Wolf And The Moon
  6. Hymn VI - Wolf And Passion
  7. Hymn VII - Wolf And Destiny
  8. Hymn VIII - Wolf And The Night
To be frank, Ulver never were one of my particularly favourite bands. Sure they are a well-respected musical collective who have experimented with many different genres throughout their career - from folk/black metal (their debut "Bergtatt" is windely considered to be one of the seminal albums of this genre) to various avant-garde electronic stuff and psychedelic rock on their later albums, but nothing has touched me to the extent I'd consider it a masterpiece.

"Madrigal of the Night", however, deserves a special credit for sounding exceptionally noise and aggressive, to the level of becoming (in)famous as the most unlistenable album in the whole Ulver discography. Some people now call it the essential album of "true" Norwegian black metal, athough I think "The Blood Must Be Shed" EP by Zyklon-B would fit this role much better. Anyway, this album dues have a strange appeal exactly because of its rawness and aggressiveness. There's a well-known legend that explains why its quality of production was so poor: the band allegedly has spent the recording budget on Armani suits, cocaine and a Corvette, and recorded the album outdoors in a Norwegian forest on a 8-track recorder. Some people also add that it's hard to believe in, because there's no electricity in the forest (well thank you, Captain Obvious, but they could be using a portable generator or something like that).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kastchei - "Hydronymy" [2014]

Artist: Kastchei
Title: Hydronymy
Genre: Black Metal
Country: UK
Release date: 2014

Track List:
  1. Days Of Iron
  2. Hydronymy
Just like Grazniygrad, Kastchei is a very obscure black metal/punk project with a name that's rather unexpected for a band from an Anglophone country, although this demo is much less noisy than the s/t album by Grazniygrad. It's mostly lo-fi black metal with some ambient synths in the middle of the second track - nothing really outstanding, but not bad for a demo.

The lyrics on "Hydronymy", however, are interesting. As far as could understand, they deal with the theme of European prehistory, reflected by the phenomenon of the "Old European hydronymy". To explain it in a nutshell: some river names can be incredibly persistent, reflecting traces of languages that went completely extinct several millenia ago. This is a quite interesting topic that I haven't seen being mentioned in any form of art before. Can't say I've read many academic works on this topic either, yet right now I'm trying to read A.Matveev's magnum opus "Substrate Toponymics of the Russian North, pt. 1-4" (right now I'm far from being finished with it, though...)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Grazniygrad - s/t [2015]

Artist: Grazniygrad
Title: Grazniygrad
Genre: Noisecore, Black Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Umbilical Cord Serpent
  2. Cavus Incantation Arcane
There's not much known about this band, except that it's a duo whose members are involved in several other extremely obscure projects. Their name, which is a misspelled transliteration of "грозный град" ("terrific city"), is a rather unexpected name for a band based out of California, and it places them in line with other oddly named noise projects that I posted here over the last few days. According to my friend who's a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, it was taken from MGS3: Snake Eater (but it was spelled correctly in the game).

I personally have never played any games in the MGS series, but everything developed by Hideo Kojima seems to be extremely weird in the good old "Japanese" way, so I might try to find some time to check it out in the future. As for this album, it presents more than a hour of unrelenting noisy black metal with a heavy punk influence. Not for the weak ears.

Deep Jew - "Ugliest Man / Dog Blood" [2007]

Artist: Deep Jew
Title: Ugliest Man / Dog Blood
Genre: Noisecore
Country: USA
Release date: 2007

Track List:
  1. Every Day Is Worse
  2. Fragile Boy
  3. Brown Eyes
  4. Virgin
  5. Elegant Eighteen
  6. Master
Another "wonderfully fucked up" noise project with a rather odd name. Found here, described as "the ugliest noise has never sounded so good", which isn't hard to agree with.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cosmonauts Hail Satan - "Satan, Yuri & You" [1992]

Artist: Cosmonauts Hail Satan
Title: Satan, Yuri & You
Genre: Noise
Country: UK
Release date: 1992

Track List:
  1. Satan, Yuri & You pt. I
  2. Satan, Yuri & You pt. II
"How do you know that God exists somewhere in the sky, if Yuri Gagarin was there and didn't see him?" (c)

One single glance at the name and the cover art of this release was enough for me to realize that I want to hear this. I found it in this blog, and wasn't disappointed: it's "wonderfully fucked up", just as it was described there. The download link can be found there as well:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Unit Wail - "Pangaea Proxima" [2012]

Artist: Unit Wail
Title: Pangaea Proxima
Genre: Progressive Rock, Avant-Prog
Country: France
Release date: 2012 (2016 remaster)

Track List:
  1. Mesozoïc Cities
  2. Ombos
  3. Télété
  4. Sargasso Sea
  5. Outerspace
  6. Humanoïd Fish From Encelade
  7. Home of Nowhere
  8. Magnétostriction
  9. Holocene Extinction
  10. Shambhala
  11. Three Eyes
  12. Subdeath 
Unit Wail is the latest up to date project of Frank W. Fromy of Shub-Niggurath fame. Initially I was sort of disappointed by this album because, judging from its concept, I expected something more in the vein of Solaris or Hidria Spacefolk, but heavy avant-prog rooted in the previous Fromy's project 000 (Triple Zero) is fine too. French prog-rock bands really know how to do this sort of dark and "cosmic" sound the right way! You can read a more detailed review of "Pangaea Proxima" here, and its remastered version (the original 2012 version was recorded and mixed under difficult conditions) is available on Bandcamp:

000 (Triple Zero) - "Crypto Sensus" [1985]

Artist: 000 (Triple Zero)
Title: Crypto Sensus
Genre: Progressive Rock, Avant-Prog
Country: France
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. Part Three - Pour Produire Un Sentiment De Chaleur Sous La Tête Du Défunt
  2. Irruption
  3. Part Two - Pour Ne Pas Subir Le Châtiment
  4. Les Succubes
  5. Part One - Pour Que L'Ame Ne Soit Pas Capturée Dans L'Au-Delà
  6. Le Balancement Cathartique
  7. Part Four - Pour Ne Pas Etre Echaudé En Buvant De L'Eau
  8. De Sales Lendemains
The one and only album of a very mysterious French avant-prog band with an ex-guitarist of Shub-Niggurath in their line-up. Even the release date is uncertain: most sources state it was recorded in 1985, but there's no evidence of it, and only one thing can be said for sure: it was released in 2000 on CD by Musea. Line-up (most likely incomplete):

- Frank-William Fromy / bass
- Edward Perraud / drums, percussions
- Vincent Sicot-Vantalon / electronics

Musically, it's "cosmic" avant-prog with a lot of electronic effects, more similar to F.W.Fromy's later project Unit Wail than to Shub-Niggurath. It wasn't easy to find this album in MP3 (it turned out to be even more  obscure than Nuclear Death's "Harmony Drinks Of Me"), yet I finally managed to do it. Enjoy:

Gong - "Acid Motherhood" [2004]

Artist: Gong
Title: Acid Motherhood
Genre: Progressive Rock, Space Rock
Country: France
Release date: 2004

Track List:
  1. Ocean Of Molasses
  2. Supercotton
  3. Olde Fooles Game
  4. Zeroina
  5. Brainwash Me
  6. Monstah!
  7. Bible Study
  8. Bazuki Logix
  9. Waving
  10. Makototen
  11. Schwitless In Molasses
Let me get one thing out of the way: this album has got a completely idiotic cover art. The inlay isn't much better, though:
Seriously, it'd be much more suitable for some comedy grindcore album, and it was deservedly included into the "Weirdest Ever Covers" list. Fortunately, the music on "Acid Motherhood" is pretty cool and not idiotic at all. Looks like someone has already reviewed it better than I ever could, so I can only add that I wish this album was purely instrumental - other than that, it's great. If the Wikipedia article is to be believed, the line-up on this album consists of a merger of latter-day Gong, University of Errors (guitarist Josh Pollock), and Acid Mothers Temple (Kawabata Makoto and Cotton Casino), and when it comes to the concept, it continues the usual Gong topics of aliens and alternate realities.