Thursday, December 25, 2014

Not so long ago, BreadGod has made some good points on how small music blogs cannot compete anymore with the big portals like or, especially when the bands themselves are joining Bandcamp in droves, and dealing with the DMCA warnings is becoming harder and harder (especially if they come for the least expected reasons - a DMCA warning for Iszonyat's demo, seriously?). My blog has a mission statement that's quite similar to his one, and I also was downloading a lot of music from DC++ before discovering music blogs, so I can relate to a lot of things he's writing about.

Right now I'm working on setting up a Wordpress-based mirror of this blog on a professional hosting platform, but frankly I don't feel like I'm going to put any significant amount of work into it in the future. There are other options to improve my English skills, and there are better ways to spend my free time that writing reviews of (mostly) very obscure music and visual arts for a blog with hardly any readers. Maybe I'll still continue doing it, but my blog is going to be purely review-based (no download links, unless they're explicitly approved by the band members themselves).

By the way, today's my birthday. Greetings are welcome, of course, even if they're going to be a bit belated.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blackthorn - "Gossamer Witchcraft" [2009]

Artist: Blackthorn
Title: Gossamer Witchcraft
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2009

Track List:
  1. Immortelle for a Hollow Grave (Intro)
  2. Edenbeast
  3. Necromance
  4. The Moon Emerged from Behind Clouds
  5. Saturnia
  6. Blackthorn Winter
  7. The Blackness I Prowl
  8. Gossamer Witchcraft
  9. Will-o'-the-Wisp
  10. The Cobweb Veils Fall Down with Grace (Outro)
Sorry for not updating the blog for such a long time. I'm busy with transferring this blog to a paid hosting platform, which will probably take a lot of time (and I'm not sure if I'd still have enough motivation and energy to continue posting after that). In the meanwhile I'm listening to a new track from the upcoming 3rd album of Blackthorn, and I like what I'm hearing:

I think it makes sense to review their debut album on here too. Even if it isn't quite as "mature" and well-produced than "Codex Archaos", it's still very good, and a lot of people consider it to be the best release of Blackthorn. In terms of sound, it's what is usually called "gothic metal", with noticeable influences of symphonic black metal. The vocal style reminds some people of At The Lake, but I personally don't hear much similarities. Honestly, I find Aina's voice (lyrical soprano) a bit too high-pitched at times (the second album doesn't have this problem), but it isn't a major flaw. All the lyrics are written by Aina (if I'm not mistaken), and deal mostly with the usual topics for this kind of music - supernatural stuff, witchcraft, sexuality, etc. Nothing particularly outstanding, but to be honest - it's way better than the lyrics of most metal bands on here.

This album was recorded with the 2008 lineup of the band: Aina - vocals, Verbena - bass, Elvira - guitars, Freya - keyboards, Max Sightless - bass. Back then they were known for having a blind (male) drummer, but now their lineup is all-female, with Aina & Elvira remaining the only original members.

If you live outside the former USSR and want to see Blackthorn live (and I know for sure thay have a lot of fans in countries like Argentina and Mexico), you better have some patience. They have toured Germany, Poland, Hungary and some other Central/Eastern European countries, but I don't think they'll come to Western Europe soon - let alone South America, which is mostly visa-free, yet tremendously expensive to travel to from here...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Halgrath - "The Whole Path Of War And Acceptance" [2014]

Artist: Halgrath
Title: The Whole Path Of War And Acceptance
Genre: Dark Ambient
Country: Russia
Year: 2014

Track List:
  1. Acceptance Of Inner Self
  2. Consecreation
  3. Afflatus (Amanait Akhat)
  4. The Opposite Mind And Mutuality
  5. Cold Breath Of Mountains
  6. Epic Journey And Oblivion
  7. Deep Immersion And Repose
  8. Your Soul Is Just A Particle Of Stars
Halgrath is an one-woman dark ambient project from St.Petersburg, started by Agartha (Ekaterina Alexandrova) circa 2010. Agartha herself prefers not to name the exact date when the project was started, claiming her development as a musician is inseparable from the development of her personality in general. As far as I know, she wanted to became a professional vocalist at some point of her life, but eventually decided that classical music isn't her thing, and quit her studies.

Agartha defines her style of music as "esoteric/cosmic ambient". Her debut album "Liquid Mind" almost instantly became an international success, and in 2012 she released 3 more albums. So far I've listened to only one of these ("Out Of Time"), and despite my initial scepticism, I found it to be really good. "The Whole Path Of War And Acceptance" is her newest full-length album, released by Cryo Chamber. Its 128kbps mp3 rip was posted on, and I think it'd be OK to re-post it here. If you want it in better quality, buy it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ab Noctem - s/t demo [2010]

Artist: Ab Noctem
Title: Ab Noctem (demo)
Genre: Blackened Folk Metal
Country: Italy
Year: 2010

Track List:
  1. The Last Dawn
  2. Through Ages of Wars and Gods
  3. Keepers of Earth
  4. Lu Rusciu Te Lu Mare
I found out about this (admittedly, very obscure) band circa 2008-2009, when I got nothing better to do than chatting on Myspace with their singer/keyboardist, Jolie aka "Yuka". (This nickname, according to her, was taken from some shoujo anime/manga - Fruits Basket, if memory serves me right, but I'm not sure... after all, I can't remember the last time I watched anime at all). She gave an impression of being a very nice and interesting person, but I had no idea of what kind of music her band was playing, as they didn't have any recordings back then.

Now I finally have listened to their first and only demo, and I have to say that I'm a bit surprised. I expected to hear standard Italian symphonic/gothic metal with female vocals - but instead of yet another Lacuna Coil clone, I got Scandinavian style folk metal with dual vocals (mostly male). The last track is a bit different, though - it's a folk ballad with only female vocals. Yuka's voice is a bit... "specific" (can't come up with a better word for it), and some listeners probably won't like it, but I have to admit that it matches this kind of music quite well. The production is of course far from prefect, but good enough for a demo. The melodies in all 3 songs (the 4th doesn't count, as it's a cover) are a bit simplistic, yet very catchy. Would like to hear a properly recorded full-length album from them, but sadly it seems like they've split up. 3 of 4 members of Ab Noctem (including Yuka) then formed a band called A Thousand Winters, but I couldn't find any further info about them.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tenochtitlan - "Tezcatl" [2007]

Artist: Tenochtitlan
Title: Tezcatl
Genre: Industrial Folk/Doom Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2007

Track List:
  1. Nemiliztli & Miquiztli
  2. Teokalli
  3. Ix Chel
  4. Печаль Тонатиу
  5. Fatal Xihupohualli
  6. Lament Ol'antay
  7. Kal'Yal'Yapi
  8. Inti Raymi
  9. Haa-Ma Chah'-Been-Tzil
  10. Повелитель Майяпана
  11. Xayacatl
  12. Ayhara killa
  13. Quetzali Dance
  14. Mihtohtli Citlalin
  15. Падение Ахау Ягуара
  16. Chanin Tiqsimuyu
  17. Tutamantan
  18. Icxiohtli
  19. Aymarkayi
  20. 2012
I already have mentioned Tenochtitlan in the context of Senmuth's numerous side projects, but, in my opinion, this album deserves a separate entry. Unlike Senmuth's solo albums, which are mostly inspired by the ancient history of Egypt, Tenochtitlan is focused solely on the culture and history of pre-Colombian Central America. It's not easy to find musicians interested in this particular topic enough to form a band, even in a city as large as Moscow, so all the members of Tenochtilan live in different cities far away from each others, and coordinate their work via internet.

This album is very original; at least I can't think of any other band which sounds like this. Yeah, I know of Yaotl Mictlan and some other Mexican "pre-Hispanic metal" bands, but they all play more or less folk-influenced black metal. On the other hand, the music of Tenochtilan is based on the same kind of industrial/doom metal which can be found on Senmuth's solo works, with a healthy dose of folk (of course they don't claim it to be the authentic Mesoamerican folk music... but still). The vocals are highly diverse, from growls, to clean (male & female) voice. Same can be said for the languages they're singing in: the lyrics are mostly in Russian, but Mayan, Aztec (Nahuatl), and Quechua languages are also used. To my shame, I'm not very familiar with the history of the Aztec Empire, so I can't comment on the historical accuracy of these lyrics (for instance, I'm not sure if the use of the word "legion" therein is justified - since it comes from the Roman Empire, not Aztec). The quality of production isn't excellent, yet still quite good.

If you found this album interesting, there are 3 more full-length releases by Tenochtitlan, but they aren't as rich musically as this one. The latest album ("Сотворение Мира", 2012), however, is better produced than the rest, and more influenced by doom metal, so I think it's their second best release after "Tezcatl".

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Senmuth - "ΑiΣΘΗΣΙΣ INTEGRA" [2014]

Artist: Senmuth
Genre: Ambient, Industrial, Ethnic
Country: Russia
Year: 2014

Track List:
  2. Roman Road
  3. In Garganta Del Diablo
  4. The Rustle Of The Petrified Forest
  5. Mahabalipuram
  6. Lament Integra
  7. Iguazu Falls Dreams
  8. Merops Orientalis Cleopatra
  9. The Two Ladies, Divine Of Body
Speaking of industrial metal with folk/ethnic elements, there's another project of this kind which was already mentioned on my blog a few times before. Senmuth is an one-man project started in 2004 by Valery Av., an extremely prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist from Moscow, whose main source of inspiration was (and still is) everything that has to do with the Ancient Egypt. He's sometimes seen as a Russian counterpart to Muslimgauze, since both projects have VERY vast discographies, and extensively use oriental motives in their music. However, unlike Muslimgauze, Senmuth doesn't have any apparent political agenda. According to his own words, his music is indended for "educated, socially active and intellectual development of young and mature individuals who know how to conduct self-identity and criticism surrounding reality, capable of resisting the imposed priorities and the impact of the media".

"Aisthesis Integra" was released in February 2014, shortly before Senmuth decided to put his project on hold due to serious health issues (right now he's back on track, but I haven't listened to any of his newest releases yet). It's pretty representative of his music in general, except maybe for his earliy industrial/doom metal works. This album is entirely instrumental (just like the majority of his releases) and consists mostly of ethno/ambient with some "heavier" parts. The last track - "The Two Ladies, Divine Of Body" - is the longest on the whole album, and represents the whole diversity of styles on there.

The problem with Senmuth's music is that he releases quite a lot of it (about a dozen of albums per year), which makes a lot of his works too lengthy and forgettable - maybe good as a soundtrack to some movie about ancient mysteries or exotic lands, but a bit dull for a stand-alone work. Anyway, if you're interested, you should feel free to check out Senmuth's full discography on his official site. If you want to start from something that sounds similar to "Aisthesis Integra" and has an "oriental" feel to it - I'd recommend "Madinat al-Mayyit". Want some cosmic ambient? "RXG-242-11", "Exouniverse" and "Expanding Architecture" are quite fine. A mix of industrial metal and folk? Check out "Neocortex". You might also like "Bark of Ra" or "Hexeractime" (which are among the most popular works of Senmuth), or "Kemet High Tech" (the album which I started listening to Senmuth from). Either way, it's worth to give "Aisthesis Integra" (or at least its closing track) a listen, and after that it's up for you to decide if you want to further explore Senmuth's huge discography. Senmuth also has a "Mesoamerican folk metal" side project called Tenochtitlan, which is very interesting too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gire - s/t [2007]

Artist: Gire
Title: Gire
Genre: Industrial Metal, Avant-Garde Metal
Country: Hungary
Year: 2007

Track List:
  1. Zöld zivatar
  2. Aranyhajnal
  3. Hét madár
  4. Éjmély
  5. Az őzek futása
  6. Törjön testünk!
  7. Bábel
  8. Eocén expressz
  9. Nyártáj
  10. Trans Express
  11. Nádak, erek
After listening to the whole Gire discography, I can safely say they were one of the best Hungarian metal bands ever. They already were mentioned on my blog in connection with Thy Catafalque, the other project by Tamás Kátai which is industrial/avant-garde metal too, but has roots in black metal (Gire's music is based mostly on death metal, but I don't think they fit in any particular genre). The early Gire demos from the late 90s ("On dist.", "Energire") are more or less regular death/thrash metal, yet they already were innovative enough to expect something big in the future.

Here you have it: the one and only full-length release from Gire, mostly consisting of re-recorded demo tracks from the 1st half of 2000s. Nearly every song on this album is great, it really sounds more like a "best of" compilation rather than an ordinary album (which actually makes sense, since it includes only the best tracks composed by Gire during 1995-2007). Another pecular feature of this album is that it contains a lot of folk elements, which isn't very typical for industrial metal. Unfortunately, Gire doesn't exist any more - they have split up shorly after this release came out, due to Zoltán Kónya's lack of motivation, and the relocation of other two members to Scotland. That said, they definitely have left their mark in the history of Hungarian avant-garde music, and this album is well-deserving its 1st place in Hungarian Metal Awards 2007 chart. By all accounts, Gire were an unique band, but if you liked them, there's a probability that you'll like Guilthee and Watch My Dying as well.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Moon And The Nightspirit - "Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold" [2005]

Artist: The Moon And The Nightspirit
Title: Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold
Genre: Neofolk, Ethereal
Country: Hungary
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Égi Táltos
  2. Lullaby (The Final Gyre of Suns)
  3. Beloved Enchantress
  4. The Secret Path
  5. In Gardens of Worlds Undreamt
  6. Holdanyánk
  7. Echo of Atlantis
  8. Pagan
  9. Of Dreams Forgotten & Fables Untold
Here's a band that quite similar (both musically and conceptually) to Romowe Rikoito, but comes from a different cultural background. The Moon And The Nightspirit is a pagan folk duo that was formed in 2003 by Ágnes Tóth and Mihály Szabó. Their sound is mostly based on medieval Hungarian folk music, but they're also interested in traditional music of other Turanic countries (i.e. Mongolia). "Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold" is an excellent release, especially for a debut album. They've released 3 more albums since then, which all are very good too, but the music on them isn't as accessible for an average listener as on this one. "Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold" is also the only their album where they sing mostly in English (7 tracks out of 9; their other albums are entirely in Hungarian). As far as I know, their new (5th) album is expected to be released within next two weeks, hope it'll turn out to be no worse than the previous ones.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Romowe Rikoito - "Austradeiwa" [2005]

Artist: Romowe Rikoito
Title: Āustradēiwa
Genre: Neofolk, Neoclassical
Country: Baltic Lands
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Etbaudisna
  2. The Quest
  3. The Rose and the Cross
  4. A Sea-Spell
  5. Song Of Proserpine
  6. Blueberry Song
  7. Artémis
  8. Austras Swaikstan
Romowe Rikoito, formed in 1995, are the pioneers of post-Soviet dark folk scene (which is and always was quite small), along with Neutral. If I'm not mistaken, they're originally from Kaliningrad, but have strong ties with Lithuania, and prefer to call their location just "East Prussia" or "Baltic Lands". Everything they've composed sounds quite beautiful, but I personally find their first two albums a bit boring. "Austradeiwa" is their 3rd album, which I consider to be their best (even though it has some boring parts too - but what album hasn't?) In particular, "Austras Swaikstan" is one of the best neofolk compositions I've ever heard.

The most interesting part of this album is a couple of tracks with lyrics in Old Prussian language ("Austras Swaikstan" and the opening track). To my knowledge, the only other band to sing in Prussian was Kūlgrinda (on the album "Prūsų Giesmės"), but their music is authentic Lithuanian folk which is much harder to get into than Romowe Rikoito's neofolk

As it's evident from my blog, I listen to a lot of music with lyrics in exotic languages, but RR are one of the few bands that really managed to surprise me. In fact, my only thought during my first listening to "Austras Swaikstan" was: "Wait... what language is it?!" If you're interested what they're singing about in that song, here's an English translation of the lyrics (can't guarantee its accuracy, though):

"I live as if I just died. No blood in my veins, but darkness. I'm not from here, embodied outcast, a stranger to everybody, the one who does not belong to anyone in the world. I was looking for access to the utopias and found solace only in the Apocalypse. Every minute I'm covered with one thing: a lost paradise. How would I live, what would I do without these clouds? The brightest time of my life is when I'm looking at them. Melancholy is a longing for another world. Although I never knew what kind of world it is. Fatal melodious emptiness in every cell of the body - it is melancholy. My places, my homeland is the non-existence, which, according to the mystics, was found before God. My constant passion are forgotten gods and empty sanctuaries. The collapse of my grandfathers and great grandfathers I bear in blood, that absorbed all these fragments. Dark cloudy sky looks as if my consciousness personifies the firmament. We all live in a longing for death, and wait for the light the dawn."

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rajfajh - "Ambient Collection" [2011]

Title: Ambient Collection
Genre: Dark Ambient, Industrial, Noise
Country: Russia
Year: 2011

Track List:
  1. Technogen
  2. Nastika (pt.I)
  3. Fatum
  4. Plato
  5. Psychedelic Holes
RAJFAJH claim to be one of the oldest Russian experimental music projects in existence. The project was founded on 29th January 1991 in St.Petersburg by Dmitry and Victor (although they knew themselves at least since 1989). Dmitry did some experiments with noise even before that, using a reel tape recorder and all the other hardware that was available to him back then, but it's unclear if these recordings will ever be released to public.

The first demo, recorded in 1991, was named "Радость Покойника". The band members claim it to be black metal; it'll make Rajfajh the very first black metal band in USSR, if true. However, I seriously doubt it, especially since not a single track from this demo is available anywhere. So far, the earliest black metal demo from Russia to my knowledge is "Unholy Glory Of Ancient Rossa" by Winter Majesty (1994). The members of Satarial claim to be playing black metal as early as in 1989 (under the name A.M.S.G.) - but then again, there are no proofs for that, and the band itself has quite bad reputation, so I don't think these claims are trustworthy.

This compilation, released in 2011, is a selection of industrial, noise and dark ambient tracks recorded by Rajfajh during 1995-2009. They actually tried quite a lot of different genres - grindcore, black metal, doom metal - but I consider their industrial and ambient works to be the best, and not only because I prefer industrial over all other genres. If you're more interested in metal, I'd recommend to check out their latest full-length album, "Cult of Cthulhu" (2013). It's black/doom metal, quite good, but nothing particularly outstanding. The current lineup of Rajfajh consists of Dmitry Evgenin (the only original member), Alisa Rozanova (guitars/keyboards since 2006), and Dmitry (their new drummer since this year). They're also an active live band, and have toured all 3 Baltic states in May 2011, but I have no idea if they're ever going to tour anywhere in the Western Europe.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Velehentor - "Sak-Yelga" [2005]

Artist: Velehentor
Title: Сак-Елга
Genre: Dark Ambient, Industrial, Noise
Country: Russia
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Сак-Елга
  2. Гной Земли
Since I have mentioned the projects of Anton "121" Shafarostov (Velehentor, Nuclear Winter, Closing The Eternity) quite a few times on my blog, it'd be natural to post at least one of his works - even if I think he's more of a musical critic rather than a musician.

Velehentor was founded in 1998, initially as a dark ambient side project by the members of Valhalla - one of the very first black metal bands to come from the Urals region (formed in 1996 in Ekaterinburg). A.Shafarostov was the vocalist/keyboardist of Valhalla, and was known under the moniker "Satt" back then. In 1998, Velehentor recorded their first live demo cassette, consisting of 3 untitled track, each over 10 minutes long. Valhalla broke up in 2000, and Velehentor became Anton's solo project after that. While his another solo project, Closing The Eternity, is mostly pure cosmic ambient/drone, Velehentor offers a wider range of genres: from minimalistic dark ambient (mostly earlier releases) to power electronics and industrial noise. The latest release from Velehentor up to date is a short EP called "Ceremonial Death" (2011).

As far as I know, Anton now is a high-ranked official in Ekaterinburg, and isn't very active as a musician anymore - maybe because of a lack of free time, maybe because he doesn't want his public career to be associated with his underground works... who knows? At least he still writes reviews for his webzine "Twilight Shadows", and that's my favourite part of his creative output - I love the sarcastic style of his reviews, as well as his extensive knowledge of underground black metal and music in general. I think he easily could start an avant-garde black metal project on the level of Arcturus or Ved Buens Ende, if he wanted to - but alas, he doesn't like progressive black metal, and most of his releases are quite minimalistic (be it metal, ambient, or noise).

"Саг-Елга" is a bit more varied than Velehentor's early releases, though - it's a mix of dark ambient and industrial/noise, with some spoken word vocals (which makes it one of the very few Velehentor/Closing The Eternity releases that aren't purely instrumental). As opposed to Valhalla, whose music was said to be influenced by "the dark aspects of Urals' nature", this cassette by Velehentor is rather influenсed by Urals' "anti-nature" (if I may say so). The ideology of Velehentor is generally based on the standard "anti-human / anti-life" black metal ideas, and this particular album is inspired by numerous industrial and environmental disasters that happened in the Urals region. The cover photo shows the vicinity of Karabash, a town on the Sak-Yelga river in South Urals which is known for very high levels of pollution caused by a copper smelting plant. From what I've seen on the photos from there, it's literally a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie came true. I also live not far from a very polluted industrial zone (Dzerzhinsk), but it's nothing compared to Karabash:

(the last photo is taken from a gallery which you can view here; photographer - Ilya Yakovlev, model - nich_ya)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vergeltung - "System Overload" [2008]

Artist: Vergeltung
Title: System Overload
Genre: Industrial Black Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2008

Track List:
  1. Alarm
  2. System Overload
  3. Spatial Cold
  4. Arzamas-16
  5. Electromagnetic Impulse
  6. Gravitational Phantom of Deceased Nova
  7. Interstellar Voidblast
  8. Victims of Technology
  9. Stalingrad
  10. Cold War
  11. Werk
One of the most professional and talented Russian industrial metal projects, Vergeltung, was formed in St.Petersburg in 2005 ( says 2002, but it's most likely incorrect). "System Overload" is their debut album, released by CD-Maximum in 2008. It was produced by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Axxis, Krokus, Angra) and recorded in a Swedish studio "Cutting Room", so the quality of production is up to the best Western European standards. The music of Vergeltung is quite complex (of course not to the extent of causing a sensory overload, but it isn't "easy listening" either), so even the most demanding fans of avant-garde/industrial metal probably won't be disappointed.

Out of 9 tracks prestented on there (+ a short intro and a lengthy noisy outro, which is pretty much a filler track), my favourites are "Stalingrad" and "System Overload". Most of the tracks are instrumental, since the band doesn't have a proper vocalist - although there are some distorted vocals (or more like recitation) performed by their keyboardist. All the lyrics were witten by 121 (a member of Velehentor, Nuclear Winter, Closing The Eternity and several other projects, and a cult personality in Russian industrial & extreme metal underground). As you can guess from the song names, the main themes of this album are quite natural for a Russian industrial metal project: 2nd World War, the Cold War, the USSR's technological advances and the exploration of space. As it was stated by the band members themselves: " collapse, civilization's demise, global war and universal cataclysm; humanity's self destruction and non-existence - all that shape the concept of VERGELTUNG's work. The very name of the band embodies the cruel truth about the technology progress driven by the development of arms that bring mass destruction and death. It's not a secret that first rockets were built not to explore space and travel to the moon but rather to attack England and the US".

They've released a follow-up album, titled "Exploration of Space", in 2012, but it isn't as good as their debut. It isn't easy to buy "System Overload" on CD, and it isn't available on bandcamp either, so I hope it'd be OK to post it here:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Infestum - "Monuments Of Exalted" [2014]

Artist: Infestum
Title: Monuments of Exalted
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Belarus
Year: 2014

Track List:
  1. Void Of Nebulae
  2. Ordo Infestum
  3. Iron Hammer Upon The Skull Of Slave
  4. Temples Of Mirrors
  5. The Art Of The Beast
  6. The Evil One (Venom cover)
  7. Zero Beyond
  8. Obsidian Exile
  9. Renaissance
  10. Monuments Of Exalted
Infestum are one of those bands which I discovered more than 10 years ago while familiarizing myself with the Belorussian metal scene (see my previous entries under the "Belarus" label). Back then, they were playing very standard black meta, and while their first EP (released in 2001) was good by the standarts of that time, it was nothing original/groundbreaking. They weren't very active in the mid-2000's, so I ceased to follow their news at some point - so it was suprising for me to know, that they're back with a new album, which doesn't sound much like their early releases.

The shift from "true" black metal to the more "industrial-esque" type of sound is easily explainable, though. The only original member of the band still remaining in their lineup is Ion, the lead singer and the founder of the band. All the rest are former members of ID:Vision (which, unfortunately, have split up an year after the release of "Destination Cybermind"). So you can guess what kind of music they present on this album - call it "industrial black metal", "cosmic black metal" or whatever, it sounds good either way, and for me it's one of the best black metal albums of 2014 I've heard up to date.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nutrition - "Dusk Of The Hunter" [2012]

Artist: Nutrition
Title: Dusk Of The Hunter
Genre: Industrial Black Metal
Country: USA
Year: 2012

Track List:
  1. Forbidden Moon
  2. Dawn of the Harvest
  3. R-Complex
  4. Dragon Kings
  5. Castle of Cold
If you want some "cosmic"/sci-fi themed black metal, but you prefer it to be rather raw than atmospheric, check out Nutrition. I don't know much about them, except they're a duo formed in early 2009, and released their first LP "Terminus Occultus" in 2013. I personally recommend listening to this EP first, though.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mars On Earth - "Mars on Earth" [2001]

Artist: Mars On Earth
Title: Mars On Earth
Genre: Industrial Metal
Country: Mars Germany
Year: 2001

Track List:
  1. Mars on Earth (intro)
  2. Planets
  3. Die Stadt Ist Im Krieg
  4. Bleeding Underwater
Enough with symphonic metal, let's continue reviewing more obscure and "industrial-esque" albums. This MCD is a perfect example of what kind of music I wish to review here in the first place: it's a very obscure but really interesting release consisting of 3 tracks (and a relatively short ambient intro) of very atmospheric industrial metal with lots of keyboards sounding like on an OST for some old sci-fi movie, and lyrics (mostly) in German. The quality of recording is not perfect, yet completely listenable and fairly good for a first demo EP. There's no reliable info about the band at all, except for they had 3 members and claimed to come from the planet Mars. Perhaps that was the reason why they've released only one EP and then disappeared without a trace: they had to leave the Earth and return to their home planet for some reason ;) It's quite sad, actually, because this EP was very promising, and it would be great to hear at least one full-length album from them.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bring Me Eternity - "Draw The Echo" [2013]

Artist: Bring Me Eternity
Title: Draw The Echo
Genre: Symphonic/Progressive Metal
Country: France
Year: 2013

Track List:
  1. Road Of Dreams
  2. Deception
  3. Vanity
  4. Silent Memory
  5. Pride Of A World
Bring Me Eternity are an young female-fronted metal band from Grenoble, formed in 2011 and released their 1st EP in autumn 2013.On their facebook page, they list their influences as "Within Temptation, System Divide, Epica, Betraying The Martyrs, Delain, Amaranthe", but I'd rather compare them to another progressive/sympho-metal band with a somewhat similar name and a rather good-looking vocalist - Echoes Of Eternity. Both bands put a lot of effort into their work, but their song structures are a bit needlessly complex because of that. However "Draw The Echo" still sounds quite good, considering it's only a debut release. The production is crystal clear, and Lyriel Bena (the vocalist) has a nice voice. The music itself is a mix between standard gothic/symphonic metal, and so-called "modern metal"/metalcore. All the lyrics are in English, which is a plus for me - because, as you know, I don't like Francophone metal bands in general.

As of now, Bring Me Eternity are virtually unknown outside France, and even there not many people have heard about them. They're an actively touring band, though, so this situation may change in the near future. They certainly deserve to be more known outside France as well, and I hope this entry will help it at least a bit. By the way, "Draw The Echo" is now officially available off bandcamp for "pay-what-you-want" price (I personally gave 3€ to the band, but you can get it for free, if you wish), so I think it'd be OK to post it here too:
P.S. Am I only one who thinks that Lyriel has very beautiful legs? Seems like she thinks so too(at least judging from her photos, she apparently loves to wear very short dresses, and prefers mini shorts for her stage appearances):

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Velvet Seal - "Lend Me Your Wings" [2009]

Artist: VelvetSeal
Title: Lend Me Your Wings
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Hungary
Year: 2009

Track List:
  1. Opening
  2. Lend Me Your Wings
  3. The One
  4. Desperati
  5. Torn Within
  6. Where Statues Cry
  7. The Divine Comedy
  8. Freefall
  9. The Tragic Overture
The second demo of this Hungarian band has received very favorable reviews on Encyclopaedia Metallum, so I decided to check out their one and only full-length album, released an year after the aforementioned demo. It turned out to be good symponic metal with female vocals, but nothing really original. All the lyrics are in English, which was a bit disappointing to me - because in case with Hungarian metal bands (such as  Alhana, Dalriada, Obsidian Shell, etc.) I prefer them singing in their native language. Hovewer, Gabi (the vocalist) can sing pretty well, and some of the tracks (including the title one) are quite catchy. So, to put it in short: "Lend Me Your Wings" isn't a masterpiece, but it's certainly worth listening, if you're a fan of female-fronted metal. Won't recommend it to my fellow fans of Hungarian music, though, because this album has nothing specifically Hungarian in it.

There are official videos for "Lend Me Your Wings" and "The Tragic Overture", which you can easily find on youtube. But I didn't like them that much, and would suggest to watch this live video instead:

See also this video of Gabi performing with some other band, singing in Hungarian:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Blackthorn - "Codex Archaos" [2011]

Artist: Blackthorn
Title: Codex Archaos
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2011

Track List:
  1. Divination in Blood
  2. Vehemence Came as Anodyne
  3. Nemesis Incarnation
  4. Gorgon the Ascendant
  5. Emptysis Kiss
  6. Arria Marcella
  7. Posthumous Passion Ephemera
  8. Dismalediction and the Remedy
  9. Серебряный Ключ (Silver Key)
  10. Hexshadow Turned to Flesh
  11. Bestial Satan of Grotesque Beauty
  12. The Fading Ceremony
Since I'm continuing to post my favourites in female-fronted metal from the Eastern Europe, let's not go past one of the most well-known all-female metal bands in Russia. Blackthorn were formed in 2004 in Moscow, and released their debut album, "Gossamer Witchcraft", in 2009. After some lineup changes, they released their second (and the last up to date) full-length album "Codex Archaos" in 2011. It differs significantly from their debut. While "Gossamer Witchcraft" was symphonic/gothic metal with some black metal overtones, "Codex Archaos" is certainly more heavier, and has more elements of melodic death metal (even the cover is more suitable for a death metal album than for a gothic one). It has been described as a "dramatic metal", but I don't think we need to invent any new "genres" just for one album.

By the standards of Russian metal scene, "Codex Archaos" is close to 10/10, and even by the world's standards it's no less than 8/10. However a lot of long-term fans of Blackthorn didn't like the sound which the band has presented on "Codex Archaos", compared to their earlier works. Well, that's a matter of personal preferences, but what certainly can't be disputed - this album is very well produced. They even made a video for the song "Hexshadow Turned To Flesh" (which isn't my favourite on "Codex Archaos", though; if I were in their place, I'd rather choose "Emptysis Kiss" or "Vehemence Came As Anodyne"):

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Edenian - "Confide In Me" [2014]

Artist: Edenian
Title: Confide In Me (single)
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Ukraine
Year: 2014

One more female fronted gothic/doom band that's from Ukraine (this time from its eastern part), and has a name similar to "Draconian". Edenian were formed in 2010 as "Eternia", and underwent a lot of line-up changes since then. Their current vocalist, Valery Chudentsova, sings on this single and their latest full-length, "Rise of the Nephilim". I personally didn't like the full-length that much - it's quite professionally recorded and composed, yet it's a bit too lengthy and boring. Moreover, I don't think their label would be OK with "Rise of the Nephilim" posted here, so I'd rather post their newest single (which is definitely free for download).

"Confide In Me" is a metal cover of a well-known song by Kylie Minogue. It isn't the first gothic metal version of this song: Angtoria's cover is probably the most well-known, but the members of Edenian don't like it and didn't want their version to sound similar to it. This cover was recorded on a different studio than "Rise of the Nephilim", and the band members themselves are very satisfied with the result. It's indeed quite good, and I hope they'll continue in this direction.

And the non-metal (yet no less beautiful) side of Valery:

Symphonian - "Incarnation of Reality" [2011]

Artist: Symphonian
Title: Incarnation of Reality
Genre: Gothic Doom Metal
Country: Ukraine
Year: 2011

Track List:
  1. Forbidden (Der Apfel aus Gold)
  2. Betrayal
  3. Last Words
  4. Path of a Soul
  5. Silver Streams
  6. Withered
  7. Depressed (Lithiated)
While searching for more bands that sound like Synful Ira (but more heavy), I stumbled upon this one from western Ukraine. Their name is obviously reminiscent of Draconian, as well as their sound (symphonic gothic/doom metal with "beauty & the beast"-style of vocals), but in my opinion they're more similar to The Sins Of Thy Beloved. "Incarnation of Reality" isn't a masterpiece, yet it's a quality release even by world's standards, and I don't think there are many bands of that level in Ukraine.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Synful Ira - "Between Hope and Fear" [2012]

Artist: Synful Ira
Title: Between Hope & Fear
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Italy
Year: 2012

Track List:
  1. Sound of Life
  2. True Lies
  3. Behind the Suspect
  4. Shining Tracks
  5. Revenge of Mind
  6. Inside My Fears
  7. My Friend
  8. Hope
  9. 8.45
  10. New Love
  11. Fatal Temptation
  12. Destiny
Italy is well known for having a very big symphonic/gothic metal scene, but as I've said in my previous entry, I prefer quality over quantity. Knowing that Synful Ira were a Nightwish & Evanescence cover band in the beginning, I initially didn't expect much from them, but "Between Hope and Fear" turned out to be quite good for a debut album. Reminds me of Lacuna Coil's early stuff (namely their first 3 albums, before they started to play blatantly commercial alternative rock).