Saturday, February 17, 2018

Z'ev - "Rhythmajik" [2005]

Artist: Z'ev
Title: Rhythmajik
Genre: Ritual Ambient, Percussion Industrial
Country: USA
Release date: 2005

Track List:
  1. The Stand Of Stones  
  2. The Lines 
  3. The 9 Chambers
S. J. Weisser a/k/a Z'ev ("Wolf" in Hebrew) has died just two months ago in December 2017. While I never have listened to his music that much (just like in case with Aube, who has died several years ago), he was one of the first people on early industrial scene, and this release should be a good starting point to get acquainted with his legacy:

"These recordings have been made exclusively for the Italian edition of the "Rhythmajik" book.
Recorded in Los Angeles during June 2003.
This is the audio demonstration of the written theories.

Tracks 1-9 are sonic meditations on the 9 Stones (the numbers 1-9), no drumming, elemental textures only.
Tracks 10-31 are sonic renditions of the 22 Lines (12 astrological houses, 7 planets, air, water and fire elements), beat patterns of each Line combined with elemental textures.
It ends with a 3m 48s piece that’s a divination meditation for the 9 Chambers, beat patterns combined with elemental textures"


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Devoid of Grace - "Psychotic Journey" [2010]

Artist: Devoid of Grace
Title: Psychotic Journey
Genre: Death Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Killing For Salvation
  2. Distorted Perspective
  3. Chaos - New God
  4. Demonosphere
  5. Blind Mirror
  6. Virtual Addiction
  7. Refactoring Noise
  8. Prodigy (The Prodigy cover)
Here's a rather obscure technical death metal band from Lipetsk, whose director was one of my best friends at the time when this album was released. They were formed in 2001, but released their first demo only in 2008, and their one and only full-length album in 2010. No idea if they're still active (but if anyone really wonders, I can try to ask their director about that, since I'm still in contact with him).

They claim to be influenced by such bands as Decapitated, Death, Meshuggah, Vader, Cryptopsy, Strapping Young Lad and Emperor, and I can say these bands have no reason to be ashamed of such successors, as Devoid of Grace show a very decent level of musicianship on this album. However, they don't really bring anything particularly new or original to the scene, so I'd recommend this album only to the fans of the genre:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hieronymus Bosch - "The Human Abstract" [1995]

Artist: Hieronymus Bosch
Title: The Human Abstract
Genre: Progressive/Death Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 1995

Track List:
  1. The Apogee
  2. Thought Racism Forms
  3. Petra Scandali
  4. Black Lake Blues
  5. The Human Abstract
  6. Mental Perfection
  7. The Gardens of Earthly Delights
  8. Doubt Soul
  9. Expectation of Autumn
  10. Near Death Experience
  11. Trust is a Dirt
This album is one of the very few really good metal albums made in Russia during the 1990s, along with "Eclectica" by End Zone and "Planeshift" by Rakoth. Hieronymus Bosch, formed in Moscow in 1993, were a kind of band that really deserved to stand in line with such classics of technical death metal as Sadist, Cynic, Atheist and Nocturnus, by this album alone. That's exactly what I'd call "IDM" as in "Intelligent Death Metal" :)

Surely it's very technical, but, fortunately, HB don't go too far with it, unlike many other progressive metal bands who are trying too hard to be "technical" making their music too complex to be memorable (Behold the Arctopus and Spiral Architect, in particular, are often criticised for that). This album was released on tape in 1995 and on CD (with two bonus tracks) in the mid-2005, and that was when I heard it for the first time when I was a university student. The band, after some lineup changes, released two more albums in the second part of 2000s, and ultimately split up in 2010. These two ones are very good as well, but the debut is still the best:

Friday, February 2, 2018

Zeni Geva ‎- "Alive And Rising" [2010]

Artist: Zeni Geva
Title: Alive And Rising
Genre: Noise Rock
Country: Japan
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Alienation
  2. Disorganization
  3. Hate Trader
  4. Interzona
  5. 10,000 Light Years
  6. Implosion
  7. Blastsphere
  8. Last Nanosecond
  9. Dead Sun Rising
  10. Desire For Agony
  11. Slam King
  12. Hazchem
  13. Autopsy Love
Started in mid-1980s as a Japanese version of Godflesh, Zeni Geva have achieved a cult status among the fans of avant-garde music from Japan over the next 15 years or so. Although they haven't released any new material since 2001, there's a re-recording of their best earlier stuff released in 2010, which I present to you. (The solo discography of their core member KK Null is considerably larger, but that's beside the point). The band members describe their music as "progressive hardcore", but in fact it's a mix of everything, from doom metal to japanoise. One thing can be said for sure: any of their albums isn't an easy listen, but it's quite impressive.


In one of KK Null's interviews, he explains that "Zeni" is an old Japanese term for money, and "Geva" comes from German "Gewalt". So, "Money Violence". In responce to the interviewer saying that it sounds like an anti-capitalist statement, he answered: "No, it comes from a cartoon which I watched in my childhood. It's a very serious, dark cartoon". I wonder which cartoon he was talking about? I'd like to watch it too, even if I haven't watched any sort of anime in ages. There apparently is a dorama under that name, and it indeed looks like a dark and serious one, but I couldn't find anything named "Zeni Geva" in any of the anime databases...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Doom (JPN) - "Complicated Mind" [1988]

Artist: Doom
Title: Complicated Mind
Genre: Technical Thrash Metal
Country: Japan
Release date: 1988

Track List:
  1. Complicated Mind
  2. Fall, Rise and...
  3. The Boys Dog
  4. Bright Light
  5. Slave of Heaven
  6. Kingdom of Silkroad
  7. Can't Break My... Without You
  8. Painted Face
  9. Poor Boy Condition
  10. Nervous Break Down
The Japanese band Doom might be not as known as the other pioneers of avant-garde thrash metal like Voivod, Mekong Delta, Toxik or Watchtower, but they're as crazy as only a Japanese band could be. Like in case with many other obscure 80's metal albums I've posted here before, I discovered "Complicated Mind" via the Vibrations of Doom collection of classic albums, and was completely amazed by it. Sure it's not the music I'd want to listen to on a daily basis (just like in case with Voivod), but as an example of a very interesting release from a band who decided to break the rules of a rather hidebound genre, it shouldn't be missed.

Later on, they have moved father away from thrash, especially on their 1992 release "Illegal Soul" which is a kind of weird indusrial/noise rock, but their trademarks always remained the same: dissonant chords and solos, weird time signatures, and repetitive lyrics in clumsy English. And yes, I agree with those reviewes a that one of the best assets of Doom is the guy on fretless bass. Their albums are surprisingly hard to find on the net, but at least the links on dark-world.ru are working.

    Thursday, January 25, 2018

    End Zone - "Eclectica" [1998]

    Artist: End Zone
    Title: Eclectica
    Genre: Progressive Metal
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 1998

    Track List:
    1. Alpha
    2. The Vortex Of Reality
    3. Hovanchina (Final)
    4. Dual Infinity
    5. The Remedy
    6. Refuse/Resist (Sepultura Cover)
    7. Afterwards
    EndZone was an early band of Igor Lobanov, a former athlete and the current guitarist/vocalist of the nu-metal band Slot, which I honestly can't stant. Fortunately all three albums released by End Zone are nothing alike what he's playing now, and rightfully considered to be the classics of early Russian metal scene. Unfortunately, the 90s weren't the best time for Russian metal (and for the country in general), so EZ broke up by the end of that decade, being nowhere near as popular as Slot currently are.

    Initially, during 1993-1995, they were playing technical thrash metal in the vein of Mekong Delta. This album, however, features a "lighter" form of progressive metal influenced by classical music. The quality of production and musicianship is great for its time, even despite the poor cover art and rather weak vocals, making "Eclectica" a very interesting release that definitely doesn't deserve to be forgotten:

    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    Tsarina - "Царица" [2016]

    Artist: Tsarina
    Title: Царица
    Genre: Black Metal/Punk
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2016

    Track List:
    1. Очи чёрные
    2. Тоска
    3. Чебурашка
    4. Я встретил вас
    5. Родина
    All-female trio from Irkutsk playing cover versions of well-known Soviet/Russian songs in the melodic black metal style with a healthy dose of Siberian punk. All the information about them comes from their Bandcamp page; to my knowledge, they aren't active elsewhere. They apparently are a parody/gimmick band, and they aren't bad for this niche. Maybe they aren't "Russian Peste Noire" (as some reviewers have called them), but it's still something unique and worth giving a listen, especially if you love both underground black metal and vintage aesthetics:


    Monday, January 15, 2018

    Lycanthropy's Spell - "Misanthropic Visions" [2005]

    Artist: Lycanthropy's Spell
    Title: Misanthropic Visions
    Genre: Depressive Black Metal
    Country: Belgium
    Release date: 2005

    Track List:
    1. Misanthropic Visions
    2. Cemetery Lights
    3. Fullmoon Depression
    4. Emptiness of Lonelyness
    5. Nocturnal Forest in the Moonlight
    6. On the Wings of Sadness
    7. Hi Yiste
    8. Спокойная Ночь (Kino cover)
    "Chechen black metal" was as much of the recurring joke in the Russian metal scene of the mid-2000s as "Eastern Orthodox black metal", but nevertheless both things actually exist. Lycanthropy's Spell, based out of Belgium and active during 2003-2005, consisted of two members: Sarmak, a Chechen refugee, and Inferis, originally from Britain and active in many different underground black metal projects all over Western Europe. The band name was taken from the song "Embraced by Lycanthropy's Spell" by Moonblood (their main source of influence).


    While at a first glance this band seems to be the embodiment of all second wave black metal stereotypes, they do have their own distinctive kind of sound (as well as the great atmosphere). Where else would you hear a blackened noise ballad with lyrics in Chechen?


    Sarmak died from heart failure at the age of 20 the same year this album was released, leaving behind one solo release which is probably the one and only example of Chechen pagan black metal. Disregarding the poor quality of production (what else could you expect from an one-man underground black metal project 15 years ago?), knowing that it was made someone coming from a culture that still practices many brutal traditions such as blood feuds or honour killings makes it much more impressive than a lot of overproduced pagan metal releases from, i.e., Scandinavian countries:


    Tuesday, January 9, 2018

    Bone Awl - "Bog Bodies" [2003]

    Artist: Bone Awl
    Title: Bog Bodies
    Genre: Black Metal
    Country: USA
    Release date: 2003

    Track List:
    1. Tollund Man
    2. Grauballe Man
    3. Lindow Man
    4. Virvatulet (outro)
    Have you heard about the phenomenon of "bog bodies", where the bodies of people drowned in peat bogs become mummified and preserved intact for millenia? The members of Bone Awl apparently know about it too (not surprising for a band whose name has to do with archaeology), and even have recorded an EP dedicated to the three best known "bog people" (one track for each, plus a long outro with the name meaning "will-o'-the-wisp" in Finnish). The music is pretty suitable for such kind of subject: primitive, ugly, and "primal" (for the lack of better word). If you liked "Hydronymy" by Kastchei, you might enjoy this one too:

    Sunday, January 7, 2018

    Hesychast - "Ageless" [2016]

    Artist: Hesychast
    Title: Ageless
    Genre: Unblack Metal
    Country: USA
    Release date: 2016

    Track List:
    1. Волны Смерти
    2. Discordant
    3. Trace of Breath
    4. Eye
    5. Moth and Rust
    6. Ageless
    7. Trisagion
    Orthodox black metal (and no, I'm talking not about bands like Deathspell Omega, but about actual Orthodox Christian (un)black metal) had been a recurring joke on Russian metal scene since the mid-2000s at least. Nobody could belive such a thing can unironically exist, although a couple of Ukrainian bands (Holy Blood and Euroclydon) actually tried to play it at that time. This album is, however, a relatively new attempt at playing (un)black metal with Orthodox themes by two Americans who apparently were inspired by 2006 "The Island" movie (judging from the samples in the opening track):


    What can I say? The result turned out much better than one might expect it to be. Leaving the album theme aside, it's quite decent atmospheric black metal, definitely no worse than the much more hyped "Litourgiya" by Batushka. And, to be honest, it seems like there isn't that much wrong with the topic of hesychasm in black metal either. After all, the history of Orthodoxy knows definitely no less anti-human & anti-life moments than the history of any black metal band out there. So, if you're looking for something "darker" to listen on Eastern Orthodox Xmas, this album might be exactly what you're looking for: