Tuesday, July 7, 2020

V/A - "Iron Sun of Russia" [2017]

Title: Iron Sun of Russia
Genre: Noise, Percussion Industrial
Country: Russia
Year: 2017

Track List:
  1. Grёzoblazhenstvie - Над пропастью в вечность
  2. Homo Sum, Humani Nihil A Me Alienum Puto - Ностальгия
  3. Weltschmerz - Солнце
  4. Maha Pralaya - Эхо тени глубин
  5. Grёzoblazhenstvie & Le Firmament Noir - Миллионы адских роз 
Another interesting discovery from my city - a classic industrial/noise compilation by several obscure projects apparently influenced by Russian Futurism of the early XX century. Of course it's harsh stuff not for everyone's ears, and unfortunately there's next to no info about the participants, but good to see the industrial scene still existing in my area.

Zagovor - "Farewell the Sun" [2020]

Artist: Zagovor
Title: Farewell the Sun
Genre: Blackened Doom Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2020

Track List:
  1. Vetluga River
  2. Burlak
  3. First Night Of Winter
  4. Farewell The Sun
Zagovor are a new pagan black/doom metal band from my city with an EP that's apparently inspired by the history and culture of the foresty region between Vetluga and middle Volga. Almost nothing is known about the band; their name literally means "conspiracy" but the more archaic meaning is "magic spell" (and I guess that's what they meant). The EP is very short and entirely instrumental, therefore not sounding as a finished work, but it shows a lot of future potential. There aren't many metal bands inspired by the culture and history of my home region, after all...

Qafas - "Kafkaesque Retribution" [2011]

Artist: Qafas [قفص]
Title: Kafkaesque Retribution
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Bahrain
Year: 2011

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Kafkaesque Retribution
Qafas is a one-man project of Learza, a black metal musician from Bahrain that was active in many oriental metal projects (Dhul-Qarnayn, Kusoof, etc.) during late 2000s and early 2010s. Understandably, not much is known about Learza (there even were completely unsubstantiated rumors that he has hanged for blasphemy), and there was no new matrial from him in the last few years, yet he remains one of the few prolific metal musicians in the Arab world.

This short demo demonstrates the style of Learza's black metal recordings quite well. It's quite solid drum-machined black metal with industrial overtones, using a lot of spoken word samples in Arabic. The title track was also included in the 2013 compilation "Mesonoxian Conspiracies" along with the material released on the LP "Larghetto Laments" (mostly rather unremarkable funeral doom metal).

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Zommm - "Reality Is An Illusion" [2018]

Artist: Zommm
Title: Reality Is An Illusion
Genre: Post-Black Metal
Country: Azerbaijan
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Lights
  2. The Shining Of The Solar Moon
  3. Losing Myself In A Green Desert
  4. Reality Is An Illusion
  5. Dust
Azerbaijan definitely isn't a "metal" country by any means, yet there is a relatively significant and tightly knit experimental black metal/shoegaze scene, consisting of such projects as Violet Cold (probably the only Azeri metal project that's well known worldwide), Sumgzeit, Sukkkgall, Brokenchelust, and now Zommm, who are an experimental black metal/post-rock duo from Baku, started in 2017.

If you love "cosmic" post-black metal in the vein of Violet Cold, their debut EP (as well as the subsequently released acoustic single "Starfall In Her Eyes") is definitely for you. Moreover, it also features some folk instruments like tar that gives some "oriental" feel to the music. There's not much info about the band in English (I managed to find only one interview with them in Russian), but they surely have the potential to become the second Violet Cold, Let's wait for their upcoming full length album "Fundamental Of The Universe".

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Melechesh - "As Jerusalem Burns... Al'Intisar" [1996]

Artist: Melechesh
Title: As Jerusalem Burns... Al'Intisar
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Israel
Year: 1996

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Sultan of Mischief
  3. Assyrian Spirit
  4. Planetary Rites
  5. Hymn to Gibil
  6. The Sorcerers of Melechesh
  7. Dance of the Black Genii
  8. Baphomet's Lust
  9. Devil Night
  10. As Jerusalem Burns... Al'Intisar
Along with Orphaned Land, Melechesh are the founders of the "oriental metal" subgenre, although their debut album (and the only one that they've recorded in Israel) doesn't feature much "oriental" influences. In fact, it mostly sounds quite similar to the Norwegian black metal of the same time, apart from some tracks like the instrumental "Dance of the Black Genii". Nevertheless, the fact that there's black metal in Jerusalem of all places was quite astonishing to me when I was a teenager.

Despite originally coming from Israel, Melechesh are mostly inspired by the Mesopotamian mythology, and their founding member Ashmedi is of mixed Assyrian/Armenian descent (his mother comes from Syria and the father - from Turkey). During the mid-90s, Jerusalem wasn't a particularly more friendly place for metal than, say, Teheran, so the band has relocated to Netherlands shortly after recording this album (which was timely, because all hell broke loose in Jerusalem after the start of Intifada Al-Aqsa just a few years later). Honestly there are more interesting oriental metal bands than Melechesh when it comes to music, yet let's not forget they were one of the first in the genre, and their lyrics always were quite interesting, especially if you love the history and mythology of ancient Mesopotamia.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Orphaned Land - "All Is One" [2013]

Artist: Orphaned Land
Title: All Is One
Genre: Folk/Progressive Metal
Country: Israel
Year: 2013

Track List:
  1. All Is One
  2. The Simple Man
  3. Brother
  4. Let The Truce Be Known
  5. Through Fire And Water
  6. Fail
  7. Freedom
  8. Shama’im
  9. Ya Benaye
  10. Our Own Messiah
  11. Children
Orphaned Land are arguably the best known metal band from Israel, the seminal band for the whole "oriental metal" subgenre, and also the band that introduced metal to the Arab world. Like most other people, I started listening to them from "MaboolThe Story of the Three Sons of Seven" (2004), but for those who are new to the band, I'd recommend to start from this album, as it's the most accessible out of all their discography.

Initially, in mid-90s, their music was rooted in death/doom metal, a genre which was popular at the time, but like many other such bands, they moved towards much "lighter" sound over the years. The lyrical themes have changed as well, from Middle Eastern mythology to pacifism (well, no arguing that the Middle East definitely needs some peace, especially these days). "All Is One" is ostensibly simplistic and less "progressive" than their other works (and that's why many diehard Orphaned Land fans disliked it), yet on a closer look, it's far from simplistic, and features a lot of oriental folk instruments that normally aren't found in metal. Some songs like "Shama’im" sound like radio-friendly rock rather than metal, but there's nothing to complain since this song is great (just like most songs composed by Yehuda Poliker). However, there also are heavier but no less catchy songs like "Fail" (maybe the best track on the whole album), and songs strongly influenced by Arabic folk music ("Ya Benaye"). Overall, all the songs are great, except maybe for the opening and the closing track being slightly weaker than the rest. It already was extensively reviewed all over the internet, so do I need to say more? Let's quote some reviews from metal-archives.com:
"Basically, what I feel like happened here is that Orphaned Land started taking their role as Jew-Arab peace envoys more seriously than their role as a metal band. Instead of abstract mythological lyrics, you get stuff like "It doesn't matter if you're Muslim or a Jew!" I'm glad a bunch of atheists can get religious idiots to quit killing each other and listen to the same band, and I wish them the best of luck with that"
"If you pay a little more attention, you will notice a myriad of instruments that you'll hardly ever find in metal: Oud, saz, chumbush, bouzouki, and even xylophone. These instruments play haunting, captivating melodies in what I would usually refer to as the "snake-charmer" style, an intense mixture of harmonic minor and Phrygian dominant scales which creates some of the most awe-inspiring tunes ever written. The music has a strong progressive influence; the title track itself is in 7/8 time signature, and many other such changes are displayed throughout the album (most notably in the instrumental "Freedom")... Some of the best melodies in all of metal are found on All Is One, especially in "The Simple Man," "Brother," "Let the Truce Be Known" and "שמיים (Shama'im)." Orphaned Land's All Is One is certainly not a conventional metal album, and I don't expect most people to regard it as highly as I do. Personally, I find that the melodies amount to perfection when combined with such unique lyrics. This may not be the sound that Orphaned Land is most respected for, but it sure is amazing anyway"

Monday, June 29, 2020

Lumsk - "Troll" [2005]

Artist: Lumsk
Title: Troll
Genre: Folk Metal/Rock
Country: Norway
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Nøkken
  2. Dunker
  3. Åsgårdsreia
  4. Trolltind
  5. Allvis
  6. Perpålsa
  7. Blæster
  8. Byttingen
  9. Nidvisa (bonus)
Nowadays, the word "troll" is associated mostly with internet trolling, so it's about time to remind that legends about trolls are an important part of Scandiavian folklore, where a great lot of metal bands took their inspiration from. Lumsk aren't an exception, and they play an interesting mix of folk/viking metal in the vein of Storm and progressive rock, with beautiful female vocals by Stine-Mari Langstrand.

According to metal-archives.com: "Early in 2005, the band won the most by:Larm (a Norwegian music festival) prize money ever awarded, worth 500.000 NOK (about 62.500 €). That made their plans for the 2005 album "Troll" possible, including a high-quality video for the song "Trolltind"". While it may be quite different from most Nordic folk metal you're used to, and most of the songs aren't that catchy, it's a quite interesting release worth checking out:

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Bloody Woods - "The Lament" [2016]

Artist: Bloody Woods
Title: The Lament
Genre: Neofolk
Country: China
Year: 2016

Track List:
  1. Intro: Nuosu Epopoeia
  2. Souther
  3. The Lament
  4. A Sigh for Autumn
  5. A Cappella
  6. Outro: Fortress Forlorn
"Over the years Neo-folk has taken upon itself the imprint of various cultures encounter through its journeying. We present to you the Lament, to communicate our own experience of sorrow and beauty, death and ruin on this ravaged land, coated with nordic tradition, to tell of the melancholy of oriental instruments, of its power to set one free"
A follow-up to "Romanzen", "The Lament" is less of a "European" and more of a "Chinese" album (and if I'm not mistaken, it's the first Bloody Woods album to feature lyrics in Chinese), with less metal and more ambient influences. Honestly it's less impressive than the other albums by Bloody Woods, but by no means bad. Really wonder what their next album would sound like (if there will be any):

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Bloody Woods - "Romanzen" [2015]

Artist: Bloody Woods
Title: Romanzen
Genre: Neofolk
Country: China
Year: 2015

Track List:
  1. Intro: Die Ballade Der Loreley
  2. Im Tollen Wahn
  3. Love Story
  4. Der Wunde Ritter
  5. Blasses Angesicht
  6. Maliry
  7. It Won't Stop
  8. You Can Smile
  9. Doch Sie, Die Mich Am Meisten
  10. Wanderers Nachtlied
  11. Sonnet 39
  12. Berg Und Burgen
  13. Down By The Lake
After several years of hiatus, one of the best known Chinese neofolk acts Bloody Woods (not to be confused with the Indian metalcore band Bloodywood) has released a new full-length album in 2015, and it has a more Western European character than many actual European neofolk bands. I absolutely won't be suprised if such an album was released by a German band, because it features mostly ballad-like songs with lyrics based on the poetry of German Romanticism (in particular, Heinrich Heine).

It also has some metal influences (especially doom, which isn't surprsing given that the founder of Bloody Woods, Bai Shui, is also a member of a doom metal band Solitary Piligrim), which weren't present on their earlier releases. There are also some faster/danceable songs ("Maliry") and re-recorded versons of their early sons ("You Can Smile"). Overall, it's the best Bloody Woods release so far and definitely recommended to all the fellow lover of neofolk with lyrics in German (even if it's made in China, like pretty much everything nowadays):

Monday, June 22, 2020

Tautumeitas - s/t [2018]

Artist: Tautumeitas
Title: Tautumeitas
Genre: Folk, World Music
Country: Latvia
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Sadziedami
  3. Pāde
  4. Raganu nakts
  5. Vainagu deja
  6. Bērziņš
  7. Pelīte
  8. Raudi raudi
  9. Sastdine
  10. Ūgas
  11. Bārainīte
  12. Aiz azara
  13. Dai citas meitas
If I understand correctly, Līgo is the Latvian equivalent of the Midsummer Eve (and it's as much of a major holiday there as it is in Nordic countries), and Raganu nakts (literally "witching night") is the night before it, being an equivalent to our Kupala night (although it's now celebrated on 7th of July here). Anyway, "Raganu nakts" is also the song about Līgo performed by an all-female folk band Tautumeitas which made them famous on YouTube:
This clip makes me want to participate in one of those Midsummer celebrations in my future travels (so far I've been only to the Kupala night celebration at the lake Svetloyar last year, but the weather was terrible). The whole debut album by Tautumeitas is worth checking out as well (my personal favourite track is "Aiz azara"). Out of everything that was posted on my blog before, stylistically it resembles Oyme more than anything else: