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:

Monday, January 1, 2018

Eisenwut - "Die Herrschaft der Leere" [2017]

Artist: Eisenwut
Title: Die Herrschaft der Leere
Genre: Industrial Metal, NDH
Country: Russia
Release date: 2017

Track List:
  1. Auf der anderen Seite der Verzweiflung
  2. Freiheit
  3. Gib mir Kraft
  4. Tod tritt zurück
  5. Die Herrschaft der Leere
  6. Eisenwut
  7. Der ewige Krieg
  8. Стальные крылья
  9. Warum
  10. Weltordnung (feat. Nachtmahr)
  11. Магнолия
  12. Wo blumen entarten
Just like any other attempt by a Russian band to play NDH, this album is a total Rammstein worship. What else it could be, seriously? However, Eisenwut are far better than a lot of other Rammstein clones (including their vocalist's earlier band, Hackmesser, which I recall as being completely horrible). Of course the fans of Rammstein and Neue Deutsche Härte in general most likely won't hear anything new on this album, but taking in account that Rammstein haven't released anything good in ages, it's nice to have a new decently produced work in the same style. Sure, this kind of music is past its peak of popularity by now, yet this album still brings back the memories of me as a teenage Rammstein fan. My personal favourites are "Gib mir Kraft", "Eisenwut", and "Магнолия":

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018!

As you know, I don't do compilations like "Best of 2017" etc. which other blogs seem to be so fond of, but I always wish my readers the best in the coming year. 2017 wasn't an easy year for me, but at least now I have a feeling that my life is finally going in the right direction, and that's what is truly important. Hopefully you feel the same about your life too. Special thanks for the "HELLYEAH!" bar for being the only true rock bar in my city! I go to bars on very rare occasions, but the New Year eve is certainly a good one :)

And now, it's time for Yulia Crow to greet you! While her music is going in the mainstream alternative rock direction as of late (or maybe towards something like "dubstep-metal" in the vein of Rave The Reqviem), I still love her early works, and of course she looks more awesome than ever:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Majdanek Waltz / Denis Tretyakov / The Noktulians - "Pentagram" [2017]

Artist: Majdanek Waltz / Denis Tretyakov / The Noktulians
Title: Pentagram
Genre: Neofolk, Sludge, Noise Rock, Dark Jazz
Country: Russia
Release date: 2017

Track List: 

Side A: Majdanek Waltz & The Noktulians
  1. Pentagram
  2. Sombre Splendour
  3. Under the Waning Moon
  4. The Palace of the World
  5. Corona Astralis
  6. Ut
Side B: Denis Tretyakov & The Noktulians
  1. Hell Hath No Queen
  2. To Suffer So, and So Rejoice
  3. Augur XI
  4. Initiation IX
  5. Black Mass
  6. Initiation X 
This rather lengthy release (over 70 minutes long) with a wonderfully minimalistic cover art was produced by the veterans of the Russian (post-)industrial, neofolk and post-punk scene: Majdanek Waltz, Denis Tretyakov, Myrrman of Reutoff and Otzepentevshiye, and some others, including Raymond Krumgold, whose cultural and political activites had a lot of influence on me about a decade ago. He also wrote a very detailed review of this album and its concept here (unfortunately, no English version is available so far).

In short: "Pentagram" was released 70 years after the death of Aleister Crowley, and is primarily based on his literary works. For the most part, it's an instrumental album, with some spoken word declamation of Crowley's poetry (by the way, another band who used Crowley's verses as lyrics was Romowe Rikoito). While Majdanek Waltz are known mostly as a neofolk band, this release is rather far from neofolk, being quite heavy, noisy, and "sludge-y" at times (much like "Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain" by Current 93). Overall, the result is quite impressive. As R. Krumgold correctly pointed out, such and idea could easily result in a failure, but fortunately it didn't.

Line-up:

Pavel Blyumkin, Denis Tretyakov, Dasha Popova, Larisa Arkhipetskaya, Oleg Karavaychuk, Vasiliy & Alexandra – voices
Ilya Matzevich – guitars
Pyotr Starov – bass guitar, synthesizer
Mariam Khatlamadzhiyan – viola
Igor Kuzmenko – cello
Sergey Vostrov – flute, clarinet, saxophone
Ivan Tsiporkov – flute, saxophone
Roman Kazakov – trumpet

The Noktulians are:
Fr I Am – guitar
Fr Dis – guitar
Fr Pest – bass
Fr Hans – drums
Fr Ephes – programming
Fr IV – saxophone
Fr A.T. – saxophone 


Friday, December 15, 2017

Virus (CAN) - "Bio-Level 4" [1996]

Artist: Virus
Title: Bio-Level 4
Genre: Industrial Metal
Country: Canada
Release date: 1996

Track List:
  1. Borderline
  2. Syndrome
  3. At War
  4. Bio-Level 4
  5. Tainted
  6. The Mutant Factor
  7. Second Skin
  8. New Breed Machine
  9. Necrotech
  10. Bleeding
  11. Unit
  12. Anti-Matter 
  13. Syndrome (Remix) + hidden track
Here's a very obscure industrial metal album made in Canada, released about the same time as "Phobos" by Voivod and "Demanufacture" by Fear Factory, to which it's often compared. It does sound very similar to "Demanufacture", althought Virus aren't as heavy as Fear Factory, so I can understand why people in Youtube comments compare them to Pitchshifter instead.

The songs on their one and only album, "Bio Level 4", while being somewhat monotonous and unmemorable, shouldn't disappoint anyone who's searching for something what sounds alike mid-90s Fear Factory, with the same "technological"/dystopian aesthetics. The riffs on "Bio Level 4" are as "mechanical" as they could be (although no one can beat Meshuggah on that). Along with Flash Terrorist, Virus were one of that mid-90s Fear Factory followers who released only one album and then disappeared - which is a pity because their material, while being not perfect, was clearly showing a lot of potential.

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.