Monday, January 7, 2019

Synaxaria - "Close And So Far" [2017]

Artist: Synaxaria
Title: Close And So Far
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Rock
Country: Belarus
Release date: 2017

Track List:
  1. Eternal Game
  2. Keep Your Soul Alive
  3. Light Of My Sorrow
  4. Silence
  5. Sleep Tight
This band, named after some obscure religious term, started in February 2010 initially as an industrial rock band. Their 2010 demo wasn't bad (for a demo, of course) albeit a bit "naive" sounding. They have "flirted" with politial and social topics in their lyrics on their later two EPs (which I couldn't find anywhere, though, but I guess they're similar to the first demo in terms of sound).

This EP, however, is your typical symphonic metal with dual male/female vocals. The quality of production (at least on this remastered 2018 version) is significantly better than on their 2010 demo or the 2015 full-length album (which is similar to this EP in terms of sound, but leaves an impression of an amateur cassette recording made sometime in the 90s). Despite the lack of originality and the rather weak male vocals,  "Close And So Far" is a pleasant listen, especially the 4th track (the only one featuring non-English lyrics). By the way, their vocalist/keyboardist Natalia had a birthday just couple of days ago, so I thought it'd be a good time to check out and review this EP:

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Omnimar - "Poison" [2017]

Artist: Omnimar
Title: Poison
Genre: Synthpop, Gothic Electro
Country: Russia
Release date: 2017

Track List:
  1. Poison
  2. I Go On On My Own
  3. Out Of My Life
  4. I Wanna Know Now
  5. Boom Boom
  6. 40 Steps
  7. Jimmy
  8. Sadizm (english version)
  9. Happy Ending
  10. Hungry
  11. Release Me
The sophomore album of the self-described "alternative pop" project from Moscow which is sometimes described as a female version of Faderhead (look here for the debut one). While their music is indeed more on the "pop" side of things compared to most other darkwave and dark electro projects that have appeared on my blog, I wish all modern pop music was more like this :) They also make pretty good video clips, one of which has gained more than 2M views on Youtube:

It's also a good time to post the new photos of their vocalist, the beautiful Maria Mar. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019!

Happy new 2019 year to all my readers! I didn't listen to that much music in 2018 and haven't wrote that many reviews because I had a lot of other stuff going on in my life, but I hope you still enjoy reading my blog. 2018 was a relatively good year for me compared to the previous few years, and hopefully 2019 would be even better.

I have several insteresting projects to work on in the coming year, some of which probably would be announced here shortly. Wish me luck! And now, have a Christmas/New Year photo of the beautiful and talented Justine Daaé, the vocalist of Elyose:

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Elyose - "Ipso Facto" [2015]

Artist: Elyose
Title: Ipso Facto
Genre: Gothic Metal, Electro Metal
Country: France
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Fragrances
  2. Femme De Verre
  3. De Guerre Lasse
  4. L'Animal-aimé
  5. Plus qu'Humain (feat. Florent Jannier)
  6. Chronocide
  7. Mon Charme
  8. Rédemption
  9. Pour Un Écu
  10. Droit Dans Les Yeux
  11. Contretemps
As you know, I usually don't listen to Francophone music that much (with some notable exceptions like Amesoeurs or Paris Violence), but Elyose managed to pleasantly surprise me, even if I can't call this album a masterpiece. I think this review describes it quite well:
"When it comes to classifications as "modern electro metal" or "electro gothic metal" and similar descriptions, I'm always a bit suspicious, and that's the thing with this French outfit named Elyose. I must admit that I wasn't familiar with this name before the release of this album, even though they were formed in 2009 and since then released one EP and one album. Ipso Facto is their sophomore full-lenght and if we believe to their words, it's heavier and more focused on energy than were their previous releases. It's interesting to see that the main member and composer here is their attractive vocalist Justine Daaé, and not only that she's good looking, the girl is also trained classical vocalist and she proves that on every single track up here. Well, like in many cases before, even though the quality of music on Ipso Facto is above average, it somehow doesn't have enough of that little something to reach a bit higher and most of the time it just sounds too mellow. Let me explain... >>>"
Musically, it falls in the broad category of "female-fronted metal" with a lot of electronics, but I wouldn't call it "industrial metal" as some reviewers did. However, some of their tracks are fairly close to it, such as "Plus Qu'Human", which is undoubtedly the best piece off this album:

It features dual male/female vocals of the "beauty vs. the beast" style (featuring Florent Jannier of Arkan), which the reviewer above didn't like, but for me it sounds pretty good. The rest of "Ipso Facto" isn't as memorable, yet it shows a lot of professionalism and devoution, and represents Elyose as one of the most interesting lesser-known female fronted metal bands to appear in the last decade. Yeah, there were quite a lot of them, but Elyose really stand out from the rest, not in the least due to the interesting keyboard work which no doubt would appeal to the fans of industrial/"futuristic" kind of metal. Singing in French adds their music a lot of charm too, and hopefully it wouldn't prevent them for being better known outside their hone country.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Audiostench - "War of the Stars" [1991]

Artist: Audiostench
Title: War of the Stars
Genre: Noise
Country: Netherlands
Release date: 1991

Track List:
  1. Final Future (intro)
  2. Phase 1: Megabyte Mayhem
  3. Phase 2: On The Planet Of Radiation
  4. Phase 3: Darth Vader
  5. Phase 4: The Future Of The 20's
I've accidentally downloaded this really obscure release a long time ago from DC++, but lost it along with all the content of one of my hard drives 4 years ago and forgot about it until stumbling upon it on Youtube (again by accident). While I couldn't find much info about this project (beside it being a short-lived one created in June 1990 by some Star Wars nerd Winston Kamstra from Hoorn, Netherlands), something about Audiostench's one and only release is quite special and makes it stand out of the sea of obscure bedroom noise releases.

The whole release is under 5 minutes long, and consists of a short ambient intro and a longer noise track broken up into 4 "phases". It'd best described as a chaotic mix of samples (siren sounds etc.) with a background of harsh noise going through the whole track. Objectively there's not much to listen to, but, interestingly, it does manage to convey the futuristic/dystopian atmosphere that's implied by the track names.

Bottom note: it was physically released as a side A of a split w/ with another Dutch blackened noisecore project called Satanic Death. All their releases are available off Bandcamp, but I think their name is enough to figure out that you probably won't lose much by not listening to their stuff :) Still better than the best known Dutch noise project from that era, though (yes, I'm talking about the infamous Apator).

    Friday, December 7, 2018

    Baron Ungern - "Grandkhaan" [1999]

    Artist: Барон Унгерн
    Title: Grandkhaan
    Genre: Black Metal
    Country: Mongolia
    Release date: 1999

    Track List:
    1. Under the Flame of Victory
    2. Conqueror of Worlds
    Shaitan Akbar, a small label specialized in obscure black metal (in particular, I found out about Kurgan thanks to them), has unearthed an EP that's claimed to be the very first black metal release from Mongolia:

    "3-men horde Baron Ungern from Kharkhorin recorded this ravishing piece of grim war metal back in the dark ages of 1999. Sound quality of their EP is actually just shit, but considering the fact that is was recorded in the desolate steppe wastelands of Mongolia with poor equipment it is a highly respectable release nevertheless.
    Baron Roman fon Ungern-Šternberg was a german warlord who ruled over Mongolia in 1920-1921 as cruel tyrant"

    While the whole story may look like hoax (I remember a very funny blog from mid-2000s that was styled as a diary of a member of fictional Mongolian black metal band - use Google Translate if you're interested), and the story of Ungern-Sternberg has fascinated many people outside Mongolia (even Paris Violence have recorded a song about him!), the possibility of a black metal band existing in a small Mongolian town in 1999 isn't completely unbelievable, considering that Baigaliin Haranhui were formed the same year. The quality of recording on "Grandkhaan" is reasonably low, but I definitely have heard much worse.

    Saturday, December 1, 2018

    Second to Sun - "The Walk" [2018]

    Artist: Second To Sun
    Title: The Walk
    Genre: Post-Black Metal, Groove Metal
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2018

    Track List:
    1. We Are Not Alone
    2. Black Lines
    3. Home
    4. From Outer Space
    5. The Train 1702
    6. The Owls
    7. New World Order
    8. To Live
    9. We Are Alone
    The next album from Second To Sun, the band that most of my readers are already well familiar with, has a rather boring name, but fortunately, the concept behind the music isn't boring at all. Just like their previous albums, "The Walk" is inspried by various urban legends and pagan mythology (mostly Finno-Ugric paganism). Interestingly, in "Black Lines" they even reference the Finno-Ugric (and Tungusic) roots of V. Kandinsky, the pioneer of abstract art. When it comes to music, it's less based in black metal than two preceding releases, being described as a mix of Pantera, Lustre and Mudvayne (pretty strange combination, I agree). Just like their previous release ("The Black"), this album is available in both instrumental and vocal editions. I decided to post the instrumental one here, because S2S initially were supposed to be a purely instrumental band playing music which could fit as a soundtrack to a horror movie (this album, in particular, was described as "cinematic metal" on their Bandcamp).

    Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    Thee Maldoror Kollective - "New Era Viral Order" [2002]

    Artist: Thee Maldoror Kollective
    Title: New Era Viral Order (Dogma Slaughterhouse and the Children of Anaemia)
    Genre: Industrial Metal
    Country: Italy
    Release date: 2002

    Track List:
    1. Xaos DNA Released
    2. Haemorrhage Transmission
    3. Drain-Wound-Cosmosis (Iera Porneusis)
    4. Rhythmagick Disturbance (Embodiment Cell)
    5. La Flamme Vivant
    6. Rigid Pulse Starfire (93)
    7. The Toxium Discipline (Null Industries)
    8. Slaughter Mass 2002
    9. Epidemic Noise Age (Remix by MZ.412)
    Along with Aborym, Thee Maldoror Kollective were one of the most influental industrial black metal bands to come out of the Italian scene during the early 2000s. Their history is quite lengthy, starting in the early 90s (if not late 90s) under the name Inquisitor. In 1991, they changed name to Funeral Fog, and in 1997 - to Maldoror. As Maldoror, they released several black metal demos and two full-length albums, out of which I'd recommend "In Saturn Mystique" - quite interesting "cosmic" black metal, somewhat reminding me of "Nexus Polaris" by Covenant. Right now they're playing a kind of avant-garde electronica/jazz that has very little to do with any metal, and prefer to call themselves simply TMK, or Textbook of Modern Karate.

    "New Era Viral Order", however, is definitely metal, albeit with large amounts of avan-garde electronic sound thrown in (which is the reason why it got a rather low score on This album is often compared to "With No Human Intervention" by Aborym (which was also released on Code666), but as for me, TMK should be rather compared to Italian avant-garde doom metal bands, like Void of Silence or Ensoph. However, the best description of this album I've seen so far was "That's how Zyklon-B would sound if they started to play industrial metal". Anyway, it definitely wouldn't disappoint any lover of really cold and "robotic" extreme music, that's enough avant-garde and complex yet still relatively easy to listen to - in other words, industrial metal done the way it should be :) My personal favourites are "Xaos DNA Released" and "Rigid Pulse Starfire". TMK's Bandcamp page has only the abridged version of this album, so I'd post the complete version in the video below:

    Thursday, November 1, 2018

    Void of Silence - "The Sky Over" [2018]

    Artist: Void of Silence
    Title: The Sky Over
    Genre: Atmospheric Doom Metal, Dark Ambient
    Country: Italy
    Release date: 2018

    Track List:
    1. The Void Beyond
    2. Abeona (or quietly gone in a hiatus)
    3. The Sky Over
    4. Adeona (or surfaced as resonant thougths)
    5. Farthest Shores
    6. White Light Horizon
    Here's another album from Void of Silence, released this summer after a long hiatus. It's less avant-garde than their early works, featuring mostly lengthy doom metal compositions with clean vocals and lots of keyboards, and short ambient interludes. Musically, the whole thing sounds as if Puissance decided to start playing doom metal, and the vocals reminds me of Arcturus. It's certainly a more mature release than their early stuff, despite it being less complex and eclectic.

    "The concept behind this record both musically and lyrically, in the words of mastermind Riccardo Conforti, “is focused on the great human achievements of the early twentieth century, and the fiery courage of those few men whose bravery led them to set their limits far beyond humanity’s fragile horizons. Aviators and their zeppelins, the great polar expeditions, the epic journey of the Airship “Italia” led by Umberto Nobile and the tragedy of the Red Tent. The unbelievable resilience of Salomon August Andrée and his men, who traveled through the merciless vastness of the Pack, without ever turning back. The cold and blinding light that reverberates from the glacial regions as the only guidance that accompanied them until the end, is what we tried to portray. This is our tribute to them.”"

    Wednesday, October 31, 2018

    Void of Silence - "Criteria ov 666" [2002]

    Artist: Void of Silence
    Title: Criteria ov 666
    Genre: Funeral Doom Metal, Industrial Metal
    Country: Italy
    Release date: 2002

    Track List:
    1. Opus I. Velocity. Electricity. TV Necro
    2. Opus II. With No Half-Measure
    3. Opus III. Anthem for Doomed Youth
    4. Opus IV. Anger
    5. Opus V. The Ultimate Supreme Intelligence
    6. Opus VI. Nothing. Immortal
    7. Opus VII. Victory!
    8. Opus VIII. Universal Separation
    9. Opus IX. XTC-Elevation-Trip
    "Void of Silence is an Industrial/ Symphonic doom metal band from Italy, formed in 1999 by Riccardo Conforti and Ivan Zara. They combine the pace, distortion, and bass-heaviness of funeral doom metal with the grim atmosphere of dark ambient music and cinematic soundtrack..."

    "Criteria ov 666" is one of the many albums I've bought around a decade ago when I had a chance (remember, underground music was much less available to me back then). While its name suggests it to be some sub-par black metal (and, in fact, it features a member of a very well-known industrial black metal band Aborym on vocals), it's actually a quite interesting mix of funeral doom metal and martial industrial. While "Csejthe" by Mordor is made from basically the same ingredients, "Criteria ov 666" sounds quite different from it. Surely it isn't an album for everyday listening, yet it's a very impressive work notable for its dystopian horror atmosphere.