Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lonely Star - "Ashen" [2016]

Artist: Lonely Star
Title: Ashen
Genre: Post-Rock, Post-Black Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 2016

Track List:
  1. Ashen
  2. Black River
  3. Fade
  4. Lonely Star
  5. Embrace Of The Universe
  6. Sparks
Another one-woman post-rock/metal project, of which not much is known about: "Just some girl making weird music", and not much else. Anyway, Lonely Star is Alicia M. from Watertown, New York, and she describes her debut album "Ashen" as follows:

"This album includes songs from the split we did with Beautiful Nature and a couple of new ones. I decided to make it darker and added kinda 'metal' vocals. It feels good to put out negative emotions once in a while! But I will be back with more positive music, I promise. :)"

Honestly it's fairly good as it is, no need to make such music more "positive" (which it isn't supposed to be anyway). It's certainly more "metal" than Sylvaine, but the overall aesthetics come from the post-rock scene, and generally remind me of Violet Cold (especially the later releases, such as "Magic Night" and "Anomie"). If you like this sort of romantic, emotional "dreamy" post-rock/metal, then chances are that you'll like this album as well.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sylvaine - "Wistful" [2016]

Artist: Sylvaine
Title: Wistful
Genre: Post-Rock, Post-Black Metal
Country: Norway
Release date: 2016

Track List:
  1. Delusions
  2. Earthbound
  3. A Ghost Trapped in Limbo
  4. Saudade
  5. In the Wake of Moments Passed By
  6. Like a Moth To A Flame
  7. Wistful
This Norwegian multi-instrumentalist has visited Moscow, SPb and Kiev just a few days ago with a live tour. Of course she didn't visit my village of 1.2 million inhabitants, which is sad but unsurprising. If her music was something close to "Amesoeurs 2.0", I'd seriously consider going to Moscow to see her, but alas - both of her albums sound much more like Alcest than Amesoeurs. For the most part, it's depressive post-rock/shoegaze with some black metal elements, but calling it "metal" would be a big stretch. After all, Myrkur has received quite a lot of death threats for performing a quite similar kind of music and calling it "black metal". Well, I can say that Myrkur's 2014 LP is indeed quite boring (but not as bad as some people made it out to be), and Sylvaine's "Wistful" isn't a masterpiece but still a pleasant listen if you like dreamy post-rock/metal with beautiful female vocals. Hopefully she will release something comparable to the Amesoeurs' s/t LP sometime in the future...

Crown of Asteria - "Karhun Vakat" [2016]

Artist: Crown of Asteria
Title: Karhun Vakat
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 2016

Track List:
  1. Tietäjä
  2. The Golden Light of Birchwood Temples
  3. Hongotar
  4. Sky-Nail
  5. Black Antlers Above the Lodge
  6. Väki
  7. Kallohonka (live)
Described as a "one-woman atmospheric black metal band from Michigan formed by Meghan Wood", Crown of Asteria can boast 5 full-length albums and numerous EPs released during last 4 years. Most of CoA's music is inspired by the nature of the North, and this particular LP - by Finno-Ugric folklore as well. A pretty interesting subject choice which alone made me want to check this album out :)

According to Meghan Wood's biography at The Horror Zine, she's a graphic designer from Bancroft, Michigan, and she has been a horror fan from a very young age. She has published several poems of her own, and her photography deserves to be checked out as well.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Nuclear Death - "Harmony Drinks Of Me" [2000]

Artist: Nuclear Death
Title: Harmony Drinks Of Me
Genre: Experimental, Progressive Rock
Country: USA
Release date: 2000

Track List:
  1. Electric Spaceboy
  2. Eyes Closed (The Sin)
  3. Sunless
  4. The Baths
  5. Strident
  6. Shoot
  7. Haunted Man-Nimbus
Formed in 1986 by Phil Hampton, Lori Bravo and Joel Whitfield, Nuclear Death were one of the first deathgrind bands in history, and certainly the very first widely known one with a female vocalist. However, that wasn't what really set them apart from many other early death metal bands. They were famous because of their lyrics - which, just as expected from a death/grind band, described very disgusting things, but in a surrealistic horror manner not parallelled by any other band. Phil Hampton definitely has some literary talent, even if his lyrics surely are going to put off quite a lot of people...

This album, however, has nothing to do with ND's early works in terms of both sound and lyrical content, even if it's quite unusual as well. It was recorded by Lori Bravo alone during 1996-97 and released on her own label Cats Meow in 2000, after which Nuclear Death was declared officially split up. It was described as a sort of goth/industrial rock, but I think labels like "progressive" or "psychedelic" would fit it better. Either way, it isn't a metal album in the slightest.

It took me literally ages to find this album online, as it's turned out to be a really rare one - even in the age when nearly anything can be found on YouTube, blogs, or torrents. Yet I finally managed to find it, and I can only hope there wouldn't be any copyright problems with it being posted on here. Still searching for "The Planet Cachexial", an album released by Lori Bravo in 1996, which is rumored to be even more experimental than this one (and seems to have a really interesting concept as well).

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Symphonic Destiny - "The Fountain Of Eternal Life" [2015]

Artist: Symphonic Destiny
Title: The Fountain Of Eternal Life
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Serbia/Hungary
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. The Beginning of an Adventure
  2. Compass of Fate
  3. Light in the Darkness
  4. The Magical Sphere
  5. Wayfarer
  6. Garden of Eden
  7. Voice of Temptation
  8. Witch's Cottage
  9. Ghost Town
  10. Well of Souls
  11. The Fountain of Eternal Life
  12. Love (acoustic)
As a long-time tradition, I post something with female vocals on this day, and this time it'll be symphonic metal (which you probably have already figured out from the band's name). Symphonic Destiny come from a small town in northern Serbia called Temerin, but all the members are ethnic Hungarians, and they describe themselves as a Hungarian band on their Facebook page.

The music on "The Fountain Of Eternal Life" is fairly standard symphonic metal, yet I found it more interesting than many other albums in this genre released over the last couple of years. The best track on the whole album is clearly "Light in the Darkness". The album is available on all popular platforms (and on, of course).

Saturday, February 25, 2017

V/A - "Dipaka I: Igniting Ictus" [2017]

Artist: (various)
Title: Dipaka I: Igniting Ictus
Genre: Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Black Metal
Country: (various)
Release date: 2017

Track List:
  1. Casa Ukrania - Hai Palaie Nebo 
  2. Futiliteit Orchestra - The Devil's Stars Burn Cold 
  3. Stellar Descent - Vernal 
  4. Катакомбная Культура - Костры Огней 
  5. Majdanek Waltz - Ночная Птица (Night Bird)
I already have introduced the Heliophagia netlabel and their series of compilations to you a couple of months ago. Here's their latest compilation up to date, titled "Dipaka I: Igniting Ictus" and dedicated to the Day of the Ignition (Imbolc 2017). Compared to what they were releasing 10 years ago, this one is definitely a step forward: this compilation is international and features such well-known projects as Majdanek Waltz (which is probably the most successful Russian neofolk act so far). Definitely would recommend it to everyone whose musical tastes range from neofolk and dark ambient to black and doom metal.

Darkwood - "Talons" [2000]

Artist: Darkwood
Title: Talons
Genre: Neofolk, Neoclassical
Country: Germany
Release date: 2000

Track List:
  1. Ferocity
  2. Fatherland
Darkwood is undoubtedly a well-known name in the German neofolk scene, but this particular 7'' isn't that well-known. Surely these two songs aren't very representative of the whole Darkwood discography because it's neoclassical music with female vocals in Russian - but that's the exact reason why I chose to post this 7'' over other, better known stuff from Darkwood like this song:

+The first song on "Talons" is based on a poem originally written by Henryk Vogel in German, and later translated to Russian because he thought it'd sound better if accompanied with a Russian folk-inspired melody. It's sang with a thick accent, yet I think it only adds some particular charm to this song. The B-side of this 7'' is mostly instrumental piano piece with a short a capella version of "Moscow Nights" close to its end. I couldn't find this 7'' on Darkwood's Bandcamp page, yet it looks like all its 299 copies were sold out long time ago, so posting a download link here hopefully wouldn't be a problem.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Doctor Ammondt - "Three Songs in Sumerian" [2001]

Artist: Doctor Ammondt
Title: Three Songs in Sumerian
Genre: Folk, Oldies
Country: Finland
Release date: 2001

Track List:
  1. Gilgamesh
  2. Blue Suede Shoes
  3. Satumaa
Another really odd and unusual release coming from Finland. Jukka Ammondt, an University of Jyvaskyla lecturer on literature and an Elvis Presley fan, has recorded cover versions of Elvis' famous hits with lyrics translated to Latin and Sumerian. While modern music with lyrics in Latin isn't particularly rare (heck, even Krypteria and MDB have songs in Latin), I haven't heard about any attempts to sing in Sumerian before I found out about this EP.

A brief info on this release can be found here. As for the pronunciation problems, which Dr. Ammondt has correctly pointed out, I can say that "his" Sumerian indeed sounds too similar to Finnish for me, but we'd never know how the "true" spoken Sumerian sounded like anyway - so, as he put it, we can only hope that "we are not terribly far from the original pronunciation in our reconstructions". Out of 3 songs featured on this EP, the first one is based on the authentic verses from the Epic of Gilgamesh, the second is an Elvis Presley cover, and the last one is a "Sumerian" version of a popular Finnish tango.

Bottom note: Finland, Hungary and especially Estonia apparently have their fair share of crackpots claiming their languages to be descended from Sumerian, Etruscan, or other "prestigious" ancient languages that don't have apparent modern descendants. Same problem with the FU minorities in Russia - ordinary people just don't have much interest in their cultures, and those who do have such interest quite often are crackpots who believe they've descended from ancient aliens or something like that. Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to accuse Dr. Ammondt of holding any unscientific beliefs, yet there are people who genuinely believe that Finno-Ugric languages are related to Sumerian. While I can see an appeal of claiming oneselves to be descendants of (arguably) the very first civilization on Earth, I don't see any scientific reasons to believe Sumerian being related to any living language. 

From what I know about Sumerian, it was an ergative language with a rather complex verb morphology, thus being similar to some other ancient non-Semitic languages of the Middle East (Hattic, Hurrite, Elamite) that have no apparent relatives as well. The only language isolate in Europe - Basque - also shows these traits. The two language families of North Caucasus have these properties too (and they probably have originated somewhere near Mesopotamia as well). However, even those most likely candidates haven't shown to be related to Sumerian so far, let alone the FU languages that are much more distant (both geographically and typologically) from Sumerian.

V/A - "Finnish Snow-Walks and Dances" [2005]

Artist: (various)
Title: Finnish Snow-Walks and Dances
Genre: Folk, WTF?
Country: Finland
Release date: 2005

Track List:
  1. Kalli Kaksi - Porotanssii, Traditionaal
  2. Kalli Kaksi - Lumiympyräkävely
  3. Päiva Rumalainen - Saippuakauppias
  4. Onnellinen Hampurilainen - Kantele Rekiretki
  5. Endru Krellainen & Onnellinen Hampurilainen - Hiprakkainen Lumihiutale Valssi
  6. Kalli Kaksi & Hannu Elenius - Vuoren Villit
  7. Neito Kiharatukka - Unelma Valssi Remixi
  8. Aural Chamber Music Orchestra - Tytönhamepilvet
  9. Aili & Annikki Saari - Lumilaulu (Kansanlaulu)
  10. Leikata ja Liimata - Dark Cough
  11. Porokierros - Joen Ylitys
  12. Soolo Ennikki - Talvitango
Found this in the same blog where I found that 7'' by Zeitlich Vergelter. It caught my attention not only by being a recording of Finno-Ugric folk music, but also because it had a cat on its cover :) While I initially expected it to be tradtional folk, some tracks (but by no means all) indeed turned out to be like this. For the most part, however, this compilation sounds really weird, rather close to percussion industrial/noise than folk. Then I decided to read the release notes and found out that it's a collection of field recordings, some of which indeed were supposed to sound like white noise:

"CD Feature/ "Finnish Snow-Walks and Dances" Captures the "poetic universe of snow". I bet you didn’t know that there is a Finish tradition called "Snow Walking", intended to calm the mind. It harks all the way back to the national epos, the Kalevala, which speaks explicitely of "scooping rhe songs out of the frost" and of "unlocking the box of tales". But don’t worry – not many other people have heard of it, either. The very informative text, which accompanies this release, which can either be bought as a regular CD or a luxuriously packaged, truly beautiful LP (have I made amply clear, which one I prefer?), therefore serves to outline the aims of the project: To present the entire spectrum of snow music, from its folk roots to its present forms, to capture the "poetic universe of snow" and to "mark its entry into the 21st Century". Based on the field recordings made by the famous Sisukas Poronainen from the renowned "Kansanmusiikin Instituutti"(which, I am sure, I need not explain any further), Gabi Schaffner (who has already held publich lectures on the subject) has taken on the task of sifting through the material, selecting the most representative cuts and of researching the scene for assorted genres, such as "Lumi Core" (Snow Core) and acts from the experimental scene, who are carrying on the traditions. She has found some wonderful music and a fair amount of equally fascinating stories...

Japanese influences have led to a widespread enthusiasm for metal and noise music in Finland, resulting in specifically Finnish forms of white noise music, known as Lumi Core (Snow Core) and it’s twin-music Lumi Noise (Snow Noise) L-Core tracks must contain more than fifty percent of original snow recordings. This quota is often surmounted, as the musicians dedicate long hours of work to sampling, collecting and editing of white noises. Additional samples should be as authentic and raw as the conditions allow for. L-Core and -Noise artists share a vivid interest in ethno-type field recordings and bio-acoustics which link their music back to the older traditions of snow music. At the same time, a new type of performance art has evolved, which clearly refers to the shamanistic rituals of the old Finnish tribes..."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Zeitlich Vergelter - "Schlagen / Dimension" [1985]

Artist: Zeitlich Vergelter
Title: Schlagen / Dimension
Genre: Percussion Industrial
Country: Japan
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. Schlagen
  2. Dimension
Since I have a lot of things to do beside posting here, don't expect me to review more than 1-2 albums per month in the next half an year or so. However, while I'm at it, let's post a forgotten classic of the Japanese industrial scene - the one and only 7'' single of Chu Ishikawa's first band named Zeitlich Vergelter. Their line-up consisted of Chu Ishikawa (of Der Eisenrost, who later became known for his OST for Shinya Tsukamoto's "Tetsuo" movie), Maki Fuji (Soft Ballet) and Neu! Rosen Von Verderber (Neurotic Doll), and their sound was strongly influenced by Einstürzende Neubauten.

More than 30 years later, the significance of this release is mostly historical, but fans of early EN and other industrial/noise bands of the same period would likely find it quite enjoyable. Thanks to this blog (a very interesting one, by the way) for posting it! Beside these two tracks, ZV have released two more ones: "Shauder" on the DEAD TECH compilation and "The Third System of Transit" on the first NG compilation from Trans Records.