Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Универсальная Система - "Стена" [1994]

Artist: Универсальная Система
Title: Стена
Genre: Synthpop, Darkwave
Country: Russia
Release date: 1994

Track List:
  1. Стена
  2. Шабаш ведьм
  3. Безумные танцы
  4. Универсальный солдат
  5. Механофобия
  6. Ностальгия
  7. Лица мёртвых
  8. Последний тост
Another interesting obscure find from the early electronic scene in western Siberia - an undeservedly forgotten dark synthpop album recorded in mid-1990s in Novosibirsk. Универсальная Система (Universal System) was a relatively short-lived (for an year or slightly more) by the members of two underground techno projects from Khabarovsk and Novosibirsk. They were inspired by such bands as Bio, Arrival, Jumprava (80s Latvian synthpop) and, of course, Depeche Mode. However, their sound was much darker (in comparison to many other DM clones of that time), bordering on darkwave. Same can be said about their lyrics, which featured dystopian/sci-fi/"industrial" and gothic horror themes. Overall, this album may be not a masterpiece (in particular, the vocals could be better), yet it still has some great moments, i.e. tracks #5 and #8:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Автомат DL-440 - "Жить в огне" [1989]

Artist: Автомат DL-440
Title: Жить в огне
Genre: Techno, Old School EBM
Country: USSR
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. С тобой
  2. Первый
  3. Жить в огне
  4. Рейтар
  5. Сто лет
  6. Помни
  7. Конвой
  8. Боль
  9. Ещё
  10. Пластик
Just look what I've found - a very rare example of early Soviet EBM, recorded in 1989 in Western Siberia using a tape recorder and a primitive Yamaha computer. The band was a duo consisting of Pavel Dudin (vocals & lyrics) and Andrei Udot (music), former members of a band called "The Hedgehogs" (no idea what sort of a band it was). Initially they were recording their stuff at home, but this album was recorded at a club where they were working at that time. Their dream was to perform on stage in Moscow wearing Robocop costumes, but unfortunately, the band broke up due to an internal conflict after an year or two of existence, without gaining any recognition.

Despite the (expectedly) poor quality of recording, their one and only tape is very interesting, and suprisingly similar to the Western EBM scene of that time, although I seriously doubt they were aware of this term (as all the electronic music of this sort was lumped into the "techno" category). The lyrics are said to be about "fantastic heroic deeds", which is fairly in line with the militaristic image of the early EBM bands as well. Overall, this release is a very valuable historical document at the very least, and definitely shouldn't be missed:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tom Dissevelt - "Fantasy in Orbit" [1963]

Artist: Tom Dissevelt
Title: Fantasy In Orbit: An Astronaut's Impressions While Orbiting The Earth
Genre: Experimental Electronic, Musique Concrete
Country: Netherlands
Release date: 1963

Track List:
  1. Ignition
  2. Atlantic
  3. Spearhead
  4. Zanzi
  5. Anchor Chains
  6. Tropicolour
  7. Gamelan
  8. Woomerangs
  9. Waltzing Matilda
  10. Pacific Dawn
  11. Gold And Lead
  12. Mexican Mirror
  13. Seconds To Eternity
  14. Re-Entry
Tom Dissevelt was a Dutch composer and jazz musician who, however, is better known for his experiments with electronic music between 1956 and 1963. His works have influenced David Bowie and the electronic music composers of the Berlin school later on. I've seen his music being tagged on last.fm as "heard from a spaceship" - but it isn't particularly similar to what is called "cosmic ambient" nowaday, and rather comparable to the early electronic/noise works of Yuri Morozov. Anyway, "Fantasy in Orbit" is clearly underrated and way ahead of its time (early 60s when electronic music scene was still in an embryonal state):

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cthulhu Biomechanical - "Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn" [1996]

Artist: Cthulhu Biomechanical
Title: Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn
Genre: Dark Ambient
Country: Russia
Release date: 1996

Track List:
  1. Fragment I - The Sky of Yuggoth (Summoning Cthulhu)
  2. Fragment II - Dream of Cthulhu (Deep in the Ocean)
  3. Fragment III - Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn
  4. Fragment IV - Cosmic Streams (Melancholy of Cthulhu)
This brilliantly named project was started in 1996 by the members of Draugwath - one of the first black metal bands from Russia, which later became quite well known after changing name to Blackdeath. Like in case with many side projects by 2nd wave black metal bands, it's very minimalistic dark/drone ambient. The sound is purely guitar-based (no synths whatsoever) and supposed to convey the true Lovecraftian horror atmosphere. This is as kvlt as it could get :) Interestingly, Cthulhu Biomechanical (often shortened to just Cthulhu) are still active today, having released a new album (which I haven't listened to yet) in the beginning of this year. As for this cassette, you can check it out here.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Mordor - "Csejthe" [1992]

Artist: Mordor
Title: Csejthe
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal, Industrial/Ambient
Country: Switzerland
Release date: 1992

Track List:
  1. Bloody Comtess
  2. First Birth Of the Cruel Nymph
  3. Last Demoniac Invocation
  4. Self Immolation for my Sweet Goddess of the Dark Dawn
  5. The Moment of the Worship of Total Evilution
  6. In Search of the Pure Negation
  7. Agony: The Ascent of the Mountain
Mordor, initially formed in 1987 as a proto-black metal band Arög, are one of the pioneers of funeral doom and drone/doom. Surely, these genres have gained a rather poor reputation by now due to the influx of numerous low-effort projects, but back then, a release like "Csejthe" was groundbreaking, even if the band members weren't too concerned with creating something unique and just played what they could (pretty much the same story as with Вой and early Thergothon).

"Csejthe" is often called an industrial doom metal release, and while I can see where it comes from, there are not that many metal elements. Its sound is mostly guitar-based dark/drone ambient (and even martial industrial at times); while doom metal riffs are present, they don't play a leading role. The lyrics are said to be about the exploration of what goes beyond the ordinary view of the world and human nature (which basically means the usual occult/horror stuff typical for lyrical themes in black metal). Overall, the value of this album is mostly historical, and it's definitely not a release for everyone's liking, yet it's interesting to see another innovative band from Switzerland that deserves to be mentioned among bands like Samael, Celtic Frost, Coroner, etc. And, with all honestly, "Csejthe" quite resembles some of the music I was trying to write as a teenager (of course I'm not going to show it to the public, though)...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Dvar - "Raii (demo)" [1997]

Artist: Dvar
Title: Raii
Genre: Darkwave, Experimental Electronic
Country: Russia
Release date: 1997

Track List:
  1. Ir
  2. Laali
  3. Schraii
  4. Ud Rah
  5. Khadash
  6. Hwhy 
Dvar are a good example of a meme band that eventually became much more successful than many completely serious bands in their genre. The story of Dvar started very much like the stories of many other outsider music projects: their homemade demo cassettes were distributed anonymously under the premise of "esoteric" qualities of the music. This demo, for example, was said to cause a negative influence on the lives of its listeners - which is BS of course, but who knows?.. Anyway, happy April Fools' Day, and don't be afraid to check "Raii" out:


The members of Dvar remain anonymous, but it's suspected that they're from well-known bands. In the cover art, they are represented by humanoid bees:
  • General Bee - vocals, drums, tabla, percussion, 8-bit sampling
  • Bee Warrior - keyboards, organs, vibraphones, horns, Commodore 64, Atari ST controller
  • Bee Girl (2008 - 2009) - tastiere, theremin, loops,  additional vocals
At the time when "Raii" was recorded, the band was apparently a duo. Here's the one and only known photo which is allegedly of them:

According to their interviews, "Dvar" is the name of a supernatural entity that actually writes all of the band's music and lyrics, which are in a made-up language based on Hebrew. Leaving aside all these bizarre stories, the music of Dvar is indeed quite unusual. While it'd be fair enough to label it as darkwave, the presence of weird screeching vocals gives a strange "black metal"-ish feel to it. While it's hard to take Dvar seriously, they have been a surprisingly popular and long-running project that has released quite a few albums during 1995-2012. Some of them can be found here, btw (my personal favourite is "Taai Liira").

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ens Cogitans - "Deigital Conflict" [2006]

Artist: Ens Cogitans
Title: Deigital Conflict
Genre: Progressive Metal, Industrial/Alternative Rock
Country: Russia
Release date: 2006

Track List:
  1. Deigital Conflict
  2. Last Chance to Die in Time
  3. Just Another Way Home
  4. Recapping
  5. One Wish for Me
  6. Lake of Perception (OWFM trance edit)
  7. Call My Name
  8. Rabbit and the Hole
  9. Sun in My Chest (Dancing Heh Kuh Rahs)
The main band of the members of Oversun, Ens Cogitans were one of the few bands in 1990s' Russia to play progressive metal. They were formed initially as a thrash metal band called Crucifixion in a small town Ivanteevka near Moscow, and existed from 1993 to 2006, having released four full-length albums over that time. "Deigital Conflict" (not "Digital"!) is their final work, and the best known out of all 4. Compared to their previous albums, it contains more alternative rock and electronic/industrial elements, and it's generally more accessible to an average listener in terms of sound than their early works.

Unreal Terror - "Heavy & Dangerous" [1985]

Artist: Unreal Terror
Title: Heavy & Dangerous
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Italy
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. Unreal Terror
  2. The Voice In The Darkness
  3. Headbanger
  4. Freedom Be Your Law
My another favourite out of obscure Italian heavy metal releases featured on the VoD archive of classic albums. Despite the band name and the album title, the music isn't particularly heavy, and definitely not terrifying. Actually, quite the opposite: it's very melodic (especially the ballad "Freedom Be Your Law") and catchy (unfortunately, the full-length album released by UT in 1986 turned out to be much more boring).

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Feline Melinda - "The Felines Await You" [1988]

Artist: Feline Melinda
Title: The Felines Await You
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Italy
Release date: 1988

Track List:
  1. Feline Melinda
  2. You're a Witch
  3. Easy Blood
  4. The Felines Await You
  5. Metal Ladies
  6. If You Need Me
  7. Feline Melinda (Outro)
Like in case with most other obscure metal albums from the 80s featured on my blog, I discovered this EP via the Vibrations of Doom classic albums archive, where it was described as: "A quite strange release... metal worship to cats, I think?" (or something along these lines). Well, I love cats, and I also love to discover good obscure underground music from the 80s, so I decided to give it a listen. While not a masterpiece, it's still fairly good:


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Jag Panzer - "Ample Destruction" [1984]

Artist: Jag Panzer
Title: Ample Destruction
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Licensed to Kill
  2. Warfare
  3. Symphony of Terror
  4. Harder than Steel
  5. Generally Hostile
  6. The Watching
  7. Reign of the Tyrants
  8. Cardiac Arrest
  9. The Crucifix
An absolutely classic album for the American heavy metal scene, recorded by then-unknown young band and released on a small independent label, thus remaining only an underground hit until early 1990s, when it was re-released on Metal Blade records. The subsequent album "Dissident Alliance" (1994) turned out to be a total disappointment, but, fortunately, the band got back on the right track later on.

"Ample Destruction" is often called one of the seminal USPM albums, but I have to say it sounds significantly harsher than the works by other bands from that scene I've posted here before (Omen, Hittman, Fifth Angel, etc.) Even the song titles give an impression of a thrash metal album rather than a heavy/power one. Anyway, it's a great album, especially the side A (tracks 1-5), where literally very track is a hit:

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Gods Tower - "The Turns" [1997]

Artist: Gods Tower
Title: The Turns
Genre: Pagan Doom Metal
Country: Belarus
Release date: 1997

Track List:
  1. Intro / The Turns
  2. I Am the Raven
  3. Seven Rains of Fire
  4. Twilight Sun
  5. An Eye for an Eye
  6. Rising Arrows
  7. Blood
  8. Mysterious
  9. Iprit (bonus)
  10. Eversleepside (bonus)
  11. Inis Afalon (bonus)
The importance of this band for the history of metal scene in Belarus is hard to overestimate. It can be said for sure that they were the first doom metal there, as well as the first pagan metal band (and, quite likely, one of the first pagan metal bands in the whole ex-USSR).

They were formed initially as a thrash metal band in 1989 by Alexander Urakov and his friend best known under the moniker "Lesley Knife". Initially they took the name "Ranger", but changed it to "Chemical Warfare" shortly thereafter. After releasing a demo tape in 1992, they finally switched their style to doom metal and took their current name "Gods Tower".

After several lineup changes mid-1990, they have released several demos, and finally, in 1997 - two full-length albums named "The Turns" and "The Eerie". By that time, they already were a quite well-known and actively touring bands, but unfortunately, their lifestyle was the embodiment of all negative stereotypes of post-Soviet rock/metal scene during the 1990s and early 2000s - most importantly of all, excessive drinking, which caused the band to split up in 2001. Alexander Urakov died in late 2003 due to liver failure caused by alcoholism, and their second guitarist Alexander Eristov died an year after from the same cause. In 2010, Lesley Knife decided to bring the band back together.

I personally found out about Gods Tower when I was a teenager, shortly after A. Urakov has died. Back then, i was reading a Minsk-based zine Legion, the only metal magazine I had access to at that time. "The Turns" still remains my favourite work out of all their 3 full-length albums. Its quiality of production is of course far from perfect, and the lyrics can seem quite naive at times, but they managed to produce an unique kind of doom metal with "ritualistic" pagan atmosphere and psychedelic folk melodies, largely thanks to A. Urakov's guitar skills. Listen to the track "Seven Rains of Fire" to get a good example of what I'm talking about. My personal favourites on this album, however, are "Rising Arrows" and especially "An Eye for an Eye":

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Ashes You Leave - "The Passage Back to Life" [1998]

Artist: Ashes You Leave
Title: The Passage Back To Life
Genre: Death/Doom Metal
Country: Croatia
Release date: 1998

Track List:
  1. Salva Me (Intro)
  2. The Passage Back to Life
  3. Thorn of the Dead Flower
  4. Drowning in My Dreams
  5. Lay Down Alone
  6. White Chains
  7. Tears
Debut album of one of the lesser known death/doom metal bands from the 90s, which impressed me a lot back during my university years. Just like in case with many other such bands, they took on a more "soft" gothic metal style later on, but these attempts turn out to be rather boring (which may be one of the reasons why they remained relatively unknown outside of Eastern Europe). As for their early period, literally every review I've read compares them to MDB, and while this album is indeed very similar to "Turn Loose the Swans" by MDB, it certainly has its own atmosphere - not in the least due to the use of female vocals (sometimes in the "folk" manner), flute, and gypsy violin. Thanks to dark-world.ru for the link:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

neNasty - "Когда уходят тени" [2006]

Artist: neNasty
Title: Когда уходят тени
Genre: Industrial Death/Doom Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2006

Track List:
  1. Холод (intro)
  2. Тишина
  3. Легенда осени
  4. Воспарив
  5. В морозную ночь
  6. Не жалея об ошибках
  7. Куда уходят тени
  8. Не видишь
  9. Призрачная грусть
Since it's 8th of March, I'm going to post something with female vocals as usual, and this time it's going to be one of the early projects by Senmuth, started in 2003 as a collaboration with the vocalist Anastasia Turenkova. Like in case with many other Senmuth's side projects, they never saw each other in person, yet they managed to record two full-length albums over the Internet during 2003-2007. Here's the second (and unfortunately the last) one, which is significanly better produced than their debut.

Musically, it's quite similar to the "metal" part of Senmuth's solo discography, being death-doom metal with lots of electronic/industrial elements. What, however, makes this album very different is Anastasia's vocal work. Her voice is awesome, even if her singing manner may seem a bit unprofessional at times. The lyrics unfortunately are very stereotypical by today's measure, but still fine for mid-2000s gothic metal. Overall, this album is surely not perfect, yet it's a very interesting artifact of its time which makes me nostalgic of the period when I was listening to a lot of death/doom metal (a largely forgotten genre by now, it was quite big from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Succubus - "Destiny" [1995]

Artist: Succubus
Title: Destiny
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 1995

Track List:
  1. Only Emptiness...
  2. Dark Ages
  3. Shadows of Past
  4. Epitaph
  5. Destiny
  6. Amber Castle
  7. Tales (Black Chroniecles)
  8. The Stars Are Falling Down (A Vision from the Cristal Void)
  9. Liar
  10. Secret Name
  11. Winter Saga
Just yesterday, I saw a post saying that "Svetlana Karlikova-Shigal, the former guitarist of a metal band called Succubus, has died on 19th February from heart failure. She was 45". Since I haven't heard anything about such a band before, I did a quick search and found out that they were one of the very few technical death metal bands in the 90s' Russia, along with Hieronymus Bosch and Sieged Mind. Moreover, their initial lineup (of which Svetlana was the only member left at the time when this album was recorded) was all-female, which was completely unheard of in the post-Soviet death metal scene at the time.

Their one and only studio album "Destiny" haven't disappointed me. Very good old school death metal, especially by the measures of early Russian metal scene which wasn't too rich in world-class bands. An interesting feature of this album are instrumental interludes, thanks to which it doesn't sound too monotonous. Overall, a very interesting release which, sadly, haven't received as much recognition as it deserves. R.I.P. Svetlana:

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:

    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":