Saturday, January 25, 2020

Fun-Da-Mental - "Erotic Terrorism" [1998]

Artist: Fun-Da-Mental
Title: Erotic Terrorism
Genre: Breakbeat, Industrial Hip-Hop, World Fusion
Country: UK
Release date: 1998

Track List:
  1. Oh Lord! (Devil Would Like A Word)
  2. Demonised Soul (My Head Bus On A Hard Surface But I Could Never Hurt It)
  3. Godevil (All Tainted By Wickedness)
  4. Ja Sha Taan (Joo Ley Lal Mustt Qalander)
  5. Blood In Transit (After Dinner Mints)
  6. Repent (Not Repented Yet)
  7. Deathening Silence (Thru Bloodless Birth My Being A Clone)
  8. Furious (Crustacean Of The Sea, Organism Of Dust)
  9. See I A (Dust On Ants Feet)
  10. The Distorted C (All We Want)
  11. One Ness (Dhann A Dhann)
  12. Sliced Lead (Fill It With Lead)
  13. Tongue Gone Cold (Grown To A Medical Specimen Paranoid Mad Careless Deviance)
Fun-Da-Mental is a brainchild of Aki Nawaz (Haq Nawaz Qureishi) who started his music career as a drummer in The Southern Death Cult, one of the first British post-punk/gothic rock bands which later took a much more commercial hard/glam rock direction under the name The Cult. In the meanwhile, Aki Nawaz took the stage name Propa-Gandhi and founded Fun-Da-Mental in August '91 during London's annual Notting Hill Carnival. Needless to say that his new band sounded nothing like Southern Death Cult, although still being heavily influenced by the spirit of punk:
Initial line-up consisted of Bad-Sha Lallaman and Aki Nawaz (properly Haq Qureshi) who went under the stage name of Propa-Gandhi, Man-Tharoo (who later went under the name of Goldfinger) and DJ Obeah (who would be replaced by Dave Watts). The least convincing colour on their style palette would be rap; their originality lies in their manipulation of soundbite and sample. Often witty, they mix samples of the classical instruments, the metamorphosed motif of the train whistle from the Hindi film Pakeezah, Pakistani village music and filmi (Indian film music), all woven into a patterns of flavours.
Around the time when "Erotic Terrorism" was released, FDM played a show in my home city. It was the time when bands like The Prodigy were wildly popular here (and elsewhere), so the public was quite impressed by seeing what was described by some critics as "how The Prodigy would sound if they were born somewhere around the Indus River valley" (the most obvious comparison, however, would be "a more heavier version of Asian Dub Foundation", but seems like nobody here has heard of ADF at the time). Back then I was too young to appreciated their music, but I have memorized their name, and many years later I bought the "Erotic Terrorism" on cassette at first opportunity. I wasn't disappointed at all; to me, it sounded more like "how KMFDM would sound if Sascha Konietzko and En Esch were born in Pakistan and met each other in the UK":

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Başkarma - "Kizleü" [1991]

Artist: Başkarma
Title: Kizleü
Genre: Folk-Rock
Country: Finland
Release date: 1991

Track List:
  1. Kaytuinni Saginirmin
  2. Töngi Karlar
  3. Kübelegim
  4. Kaycan Gina Kilirsin Sin
  5. Sin Sazinni Uynadin
  6. Sonlama
  7. Sular Buylap
  8. Közgi Mon
  9. Sonlama, Kil Indi
  10. Zenger Toman
  11. Bir Gine Minutka
  12. Tan Atkanda
  13. Yokla Inim
  14. Elmira
  15. Ey Mokatdes
Did you know that Finland has long had a not very sizable (~1000) but well-established Tatar minority? Well, now you know. They're mostly descendants of Mishari Tatars that came to Grand Duchy of Finland during late 19th / early 20th century from the vicinity of Sergach (not far from where I live; although I've been to Sergach, so far I haven't visited any predominately Tatar villages around there). Although they're completely integrated into Finnish society, they keep their language and culture alive.

Başkarma was a folk-rock band started by the Finnish Tatar musician Deniz Bedretdin in late 1970s. Their album "Kizleü" was released in USSR in 1991, which helped them to get some recognition among Tatars elsewhere. Despite being re-released on CD in Russia in 2003, this release remains to be rather rare and obscure, but when I found it I wasn't disappointed. Very good quality of production for its time and great female vocals, even if most of the songs aren't particularly catchy. Interestingly, their style was described by someone on Youtube as "balearic flamenco AOR folk":

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Samael - "Exodus" [1998]

Artist: Samael
Title: Exodus
Genre: "Dark Metal", Industrial Metal
Country: Switzerland
Release date: 1998

Track List:
  1. Exodus
  2. Tribes of Cain
  3. Son of Earth
  4. Winter Solstice
  5. Ceremony of Opposites
  6. From Malkuth to Kether
  7. Static Journey (hidden track)
Samael are a band that doesn't really need an introduction. One of the most innovative and influental Swiss metal bands along with Celtic Frost, they're among my favourite bands of all times. While their early 1st wave black metal stuff was way ahead of its time too, I very much prefer their later albums beginning from "Passage" where they play music commonly described as "industrial metal" (yet they sound quite different from most other bands in this genre) and "dark metal" (which is a non-descriptive label that could mean anything, at least according to Metal Archives rules), with rather non-provocative lyricsal themes such as space and spirituality. In particular, "Exodus" and "Eternal" were the albums which first introduced me to Samael, and both of them still remain among my top favourites.

Unlike their preceding release, the much acclaimed "Passage", "Exodus" is a quite overlooked EP that received mostly average marks from reviewers and was deemed a release "only for serious completists" (which I probably am, at least when it comes to the electronic/industrial releases from Samael). Actually, I like it at least as much as "Passage", which is widely considered to be the best album by Samael. In the beginning, "Exodus" sounds very much like "Passage", but its sound gradually becomes more and more electronic and experimetal closer to the end. My personal favourite are the piano parts in "Winter Solstice".

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog! I've posted quite a lot of stuff on here over the last decade, and while I listen to much less new music now than I did 10 years ago, I'll continue with this blog as long as possible. Stay tuned!

And happy birthday to the beautiful and talented Daria Zaritskaya, who was born right on the New Year eve. This photo is a little Christmas present from her, and while she isn't wearing a Christmas-themed outfit, she still looks great. And to reference ZZ Top - Daria has beautiful long legs, and surely knows how to use them:

Sunday, December 22, 2019

V/A - "Heliophagia θ" [2019]

Title: Heliophagia θ
Genre: Dark Ambient, Post-Rock, Post-Industrial
Country: Russia
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. A Reflection Rye Rill - Ma'T'Ma
  2. VTTA - Эпилог
  3. Defektophonie - Spinning Lights
  4. Circle Of Unexisted - Fires In The Mist
  5. Оцепеневшие - Другая смерть (Концерт в ДОМе)
  6. A Reflection Rye Rill - Smekh'T'
The Heliophagia netlabel is alive and well, and here's the newest compilation in their series dedicated to the longest night of the year: "Heliophagia θ is dedicated to the winter solstice 2019 and to the nadir of our minds". It features six pieces of hypnotic music generally reminding me of Ambersmoke (but less black metal and more electronic). Nice to see that the Heliophagia compilations are getting better and better with every year, and the cover art for this one definitely deserves a praise as well.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Count Raven - "Storm Warning" [1990]

Artist: Count Raven
Title: Storm Warning
Genre: Old School Doom Metal
Country: Sweden
Release date: 1990

Track List:
  1. Intro: Count Raven
  2. Inam Naudemina
  3. True Revelation
  4. In the Name of Rock 'n' Roll
  5. Sometimes a Great Nation
  6. Within the Garden of Mirrors
  7. A Devastating Age
  8. How Can It Be
  9. Social Warfare
  10. High Beliefs (Bonus)
  11. Frightened Eyes Never Lie (Demo) 
Like Candlemass, Count Raven were a classic doom metal band from Stockholm, but they were quite different from their much better known compatriots in terms of their sound, which was much more Black Sabbath-influenced. Another difference is their lyrics that quite often touched on political and social topics, which is rather uncommon for doom metal. When it comes to religion, their lyrics always were quite ambivalent, compared to overall anti-religious zeal of the 90s metal scene.

"Storm Warning" is their debut full-length album, and the only one featuring Christian Linderson on vocals (who also has done the vocals on "C.O.D." by Saint Vitus). Despite some filler tracks, the album as a whole is quite good; my personal favourites are "In the Name of Rock 'n' Roll" (a really catchy track with lyrics criticising the commercial glam rock/metal bands of the time and their highly metrosexual/androgynous looks - won't be surprised if it would be considered politically incorrect in today's Sweden) and "Inam Naudemina". There are also two bonus tracks from their early demos, that sound quite different from the rest of the album. Overall, "Storm Warning" makes for a very enjoyable listen, even it's too much in the vein of Black Sabbath while I prefer Candlemass-like doom metal.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Рожь - "Один сажень" [2019]

Artist: Рожь
Title: Один сажень
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal, Dark Ambient
Country: Russia
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. Один
  2. Платье под железом
  3. Головы
  4. Сажень
There's not much info about this project (whose name literally means "Rye"), apart from it being an one-man band from somewhere in Karelia, started by the dark ambient musician known as Vladimir Frith. The release notes for this EP say it also features artwork and some female vocals by Olga Volgina. Anyway, vocals are mostly unnoticeable on there, and the whole EP feels like a mostly instrumental work, roughly equally split between doom metal (with also some elements of black metal on track 3) and dark ambient parts. Apparently it wasn't metal enough to be included in Metal Archives, yet in my opinion it's not only an unambigiously metal release, but one of the best doom metal albums to come from Russia in the last few years.

It's a concept EP which, according to the release notes, tells the story of a long dead old man (who apparently was a hermit but no one now remembers neither his name, nor the language he spoke, nor his looks, nor his motives to live alone in the wilderness), whose log house became a sacred place for Karelian shamans. The author himself admits having tried to "connect" with the spirit of that man - of course, without any success - just to understand that he simply enjoys being alone among the nature of Karelia. Thus the overall atmosphere is clearly inspired by the Karelian nature and the mentality of the people in Russian North. Would recomment it to those who liked Shexna and are looking for other doom metal releases with similar themes, although this EP is very different in terms of sound.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Heruka - "བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa)" [2019]

Artist: Heruka
Title: བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa)
Genre: Death/Doom Metal, Ritual Ambient
Country: Nepal
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. དུས་གསུམ་སངས་ (Düsum Sangye)
  2. བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa)
One more discovery that sounds quite unusual but would be interesting for those searching for a mix of death/doom metal with all sorts of traditional music: an one-man project from Kathmandu, Nepal, playing raw old school death/doom metal mixed with ritual Tibetan chants. Strictly speaking, the only metal track on this demo is the second one; the opening one is a ritual ambient intro in the vein of Romokon or Raksha Mancham. As it often case with metal releases from countries like Nepal (even if "Tulzhug Chöpa" was recorded with the help of Canadian musicians, as far as I know), the "metal" part of this demo sounds like it was recorded during the early 90s, but it's definitely not a bad thing. Overall, this is pretty good for a demo, and certainly sounds very original. For those interested in the concept behind the music, here are the release notes from Bandcamp:
Taking inspiration from the ancient Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition, Heruka's demo entitled, བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa), is an ode to the realised tāntrik sages of this sacred landscape whose wisdom minds dwell in the indivisibility of bliss and emptiness.

First initiated over two years ago, the project's research work involved an in-depth study of the existing Vajrayāna tradition in the Tibetan lineages that currently thrive in India and Nepal along with a sincere inquiry in its Indic roots. The research work behind the lyrics and ideological concept behind Heruka included a thorough study of different complex aspects of the tradition's philosophy and soteriology, which was further strengthened after receiving transmissions and teachings from various contemporary Vajrayāna masters hailing from India, Tibet and Bhutan who have meticulously preserved and mastered several outer, inner and secret aspects of the tāntrik path.

The demo consists of two tracks, དུས་གསུམ་སངས་ (Dusum Sangye), a ritual ambient hymn sung in Tibetan language, which pays homage to Guru Padmasambhava, an 8th century Indian Mahāsiddha (Great Adept), who is credited with establishing Vajrayāna in Tibet. The second and self-titled track, བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa), is a death/doom and ritual ambient track, which pays homage to the inner and secret aspects of the philosophy, path, unconventional behaviour and appearance of a realised tāntrik yogin. The track is sung in a mix of Sanskrit, English and Tibetan languages, and it utilises actual tāntrik ritual implements such as a damaru (hand-held drum), drilbu (ritual bell) and pre-recorded samples of rolmo ('fierce' cymbal) and (dung chen) trumpet, which are generally used by practitioners during tāntrik ceremonies in Vajrayāna monasteries or at hermitages.

May those who chance upon these sacred, wrathful chants realise the ultimate, essential nature of everything — sunyata!

Padma Vajra - Lyrics, vocals and ritual implements
R.S. - Guitars, bass, recording and mixing
A.S. - Drums

Logo and Art: Visionis Phosphorescent
Vocals and ambient tracks/recording by SISTER

Friday, November 22, 2019

Shexna - s/t [2013]

Artist: Shexna
Title: Shexna
Genre: Folk/Doom Metal (with Industrial Metal overtones)
Country: Russia
Release date: 2013

Track List:
  1. Плач (intro)
  2. Братья
  3. Дождь
  4. Горе
  5. Снегопад (instrumental)
  6. Кумушки
  7. Печаль
  8. Мертвец Говорит
  9. Расставание
Shexna, named after one of the most important rivers of the Russian North (and one of the most beautiful ones, so any band with such a name would catch my attention), is a side project of Ilya Morok (Bog~Morok) which is a continuation of his earlier band Во Скорбях that played a very unorthodox mix of funeral doom metal and folk metal. While the style of Shexna can be described as folk/doom metal as well, it has a very distinct math/industrial metal riffing, and noticeably better production. The vocal style is unusual and not for everyone's liking; quite a few people have even compared it to Egor Letov's vocal style (especially on the second track and the more punk-ish parts of the 8th track).

All the songs on this album, except for the third one, are metal interpretations of the traditional folk songs that deal with the topics of death, afterlife and relationship between the living and the dead (worth nothing that the band had put a lot of work in collecting such songs). However, it's not a pagan metal album (even if it looks like so at a first glance), and there's nothing specifically "pagan" in the lyrics. Despite Morok's love for electronic elements in his music, none of the folk instruments on this album are synthesized (although they sometimes sound this way, especially on the third track). Overall, it's definitely an unique work that stands out among more "standard" /cliched folk metal albums, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, compared to the only album by Во Скорбях, it went largely unnoticed, especially outside Russia. Don't think I can name any other band that sounds like that (the closest would be Risha or Second to Sun, but neither are based in doom metal).

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Bog-Morok - "Azoic" [2003]

Artist: Bog[~]Morok
Title: Azoic
Genre: Death/Doom Metal (with Industrial Metal overtones)
Country: Russia
Release date: 2003

Track List:
  1. Penitento
  2. Ignis Fatuus
  3. Flagrant
  4. Azoic
  5. Verve
  6. Athwart
  7. Exegesis
  8. Alas
  9. Defragmentized
Getting back on the track of posting good but overlooked metal albums from Eastern Europe, here's the debut full-length album by Bog Morok. Its style is fairly representative of the kind of doom/death metal which was popular at the time it was released, although you can already hear some industrial influences there (listen to the whole album, and you'll see how it's become more and more electronic towards to the end). If I find some free time in the next couple of weeks, I'll also review some other projects of Ilya Morok, so stay tuned.