Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Asparez - "Anathema" [1990]

Artist: Asparez
Title: Anathema
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Country: Armenian SSR
Year: 1990

Track List:
  1. Clearing
  2. Fire & Metal
  3. Sorrow
  4. Crazy Age
  5. Tell Me
  6. White As Black
  7. Untruthful Game
  8. Black Garden
Asparez were quite possibly the very first Armenian metal band, formed in 1982 and released their first demo in 1985. The demo, however, is now lost, so this album is their one and only available release. It was recorded around 1988, during the times when an ethnic conflict in Armenia and Azerbaijan was already brewing (the song "Black Garden" is dedicated to these events).

On, I've seen it tagged as "protoSOAD", but as for me, the only things in common between Asparez and SOAD are their "heavy" sound and ethnic Armenian musicians in their line-up. In fact, Asparez are much more similar to another well-known Soviet Armenian metal band, Ayas. I'd recommend both bands to anyone who's looking for obscure old school metal with lyrics in a weird sounding language:

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Elay Arson - "Spirit | Death" [2018]

Artist: Elay Arson
Title: Spirit | Death
Genre: Synthwave, Industrial Metal
Country: USA
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Sunrise
  2. Tawa
  3. Cheveyo
  4. Masauwu, Fire Keeper
  5. Sussustanako
  6. Masauwu, Skeleton Man
  7. Mescalero Prophecy 
  8. Fifth World Gate (feat. Carbon Killer)
  9. Final Midnight Ride (feat. Ultraboss)
  10. End Times
I didn't know anything about this project until yesterday, but after taking a brief look at the track list, I guessed that this album is inspired by Native American folklore. Turned out I was right:

"An intense album inspired by the themes of southwestern Native American stories, deities, subjugation, genocide, and the apocalypse. This work pays homage to the Apache ancestry and childhood Hopi upbringing of band member Daniel Larson."

While I must admit I don't know an awful lot about the Apache or Hopi cultures, this release is fairly good. It's entirely instrumental (apart from some spoken introduction), and features a mix of synthwave and industrial metal (however, it's still much more "synth" than "metal"):

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Second To Sun - "The Black" [2018]

Artist: Second To Sun
Title: The Black
Genre: Black/Groove Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Ladoga Master
  2. The Wall
  3. Chokk Kapper
  4. Vasilisa
  5. Region 13
  6. The Fool
  7. Mrakobesie pt. 1: Divine
  8. Mrakobesie pt. 2: Letter
  9. Mrakobesie pt. 3: Hunger
  10. Mrakobesie pt. 4: МК-ULTRA RU
  11. Heaven Sent (Bonus Track)
Every metal blog I'm reading seems to have reviewed this album by now, so... #MeToo :) This is the re-release of the previous album "Blackbound" by Second to Sun, but with vocals performed by Gleb Sysoev (ex-Deafknife). Deafknife were one of my favourite Russian post-black metal bands, so I had high hopes for this album.

"The Black" is certainly different from "Blackbound", not only because of the vocals, but also because of its more aggressive approach. Looks like the band finally found the right proportions for their mix of (post-)black and groove metal. The lyrical themes remain usual for S2S: both real life horror stories and the mythological ones taken from the folk tales of the Russian North and the minor Finno-Ugric peoples. The lyrics, however, are the weakest point of this album: they generally appear like they were written by an edgy teenager with little to no poetic skills. While this isn't going to be a big problem for the listeners that aren't Russian speakers, I still wonder why the quality of lyrics is so poor while the project's mastermind is talking a lot about how he strives for the world-class production quality of his music. Anyway, the stories behind the music are fairly interesting. Enjoy:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Thy Catafalque - "Geometria" [2018]

Artist: Thy Catafalque
Title: Geometria
Genre: Post-Black Metal
Country: Hungary / UK (Scotland)
Release date: 2018

Track List:
  1. Hajnali csillag
  2. Szamojéd freskó
  3. Töltés
  4. Gőte
  5. Sárember
  6. Hajó
  7. Lágyrész
  8. Sík
  9. Balra a nap
  10. Tenger, tenger
  11. Ének a búzamezőkről
A new release from my favourite Hungarian musician that now lives in Edinburgh but definitely remains one of the most important figures of the Hungarian avant-garde music scene. This album is even farther from black metal and closer to post-rock than "Meta" and "Sgùrr". While, unlike "Meta" it doesn't have such powerful tracks as "Mezolit", it still contains everything that we love Tamás Kátai's music for. There's also a little surprise for Russian speakers in the middle of the first track :)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Nimrud - "Arratu" [2017]

Artist: Nimrud
Title: Arratu
Genre: Post-Black Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2017

Track List:
  1. Shurru
  2. Epishtu
  3. Arratu
  4. Sarahu
  5. Ishkur
  6. Gamaru
The debut release from a very fine 5-piece post-metal collective from Moscow, with lyrics based on the Sumerian creation myths. The band was around since 2010, but for a quite long time, they were known for only one track ("Ishkur"), and one more ("Sarahu") released as a single in 2016. The full-length album, released in late 2017, is also rather short (but quite good anyway):

Friday, May 11, 2018

Губернатор - "Рождение Чукотки" [2010]

Artist: Губернатор
Title: Рождение Чукотки
Genre: Folk Rock
Country: Russia (Chukotka)
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Подружки
  2. Лооной
  3. Какомэй
  4. Почему (Колыбельная)
  5. Ночной дежурный
  6. За прошлую вину
  7. Тебе
  8. Лилия
  9. Посмотри-ка
  10. Утро в Снежном
  11. На берегу
  12. Рождение Чукотки
  13. Rock'n'roll instrumental
  14. Белая пастель (DJ Grey Trance Mix)
First off: it's really hard to find info about this band, mostly because of their highly Google-unfriendly name (really, the only worse idea than naming your band "Governor" is naming it "Ministry"). Some thing about them that are known for sure: they were formed in 2006 in Anadyr, the complete outskirts of the world. So far they're the only rock band to base their music on the folklore of Chukchi, the best known Paleo-Siberian ethnic group who are basically an archetype in popular culture for all ethnic groups of the Siberian Far North.

Although most if not all of the band members are Russians, their interpretations of Chukchi folk music are considered fairly authentic and have gained them a considerable fan base in their home region. Unfortunately, they aren't well-known outside of it, so finding information about them is a problem. I couldn't find even the cover art for this album, so there's a photo of their lead singer Veronika Oshulik instead.

Those who aren't familiar with the folk-rock bands that employ throat singing and similar vocal techniques, like Yat-Kha or Altan Urag (both of which were already mentioned on here before), may find the first few tracks on this album quite weird. However, that's how authentic Chukchi shamanic singing sounds like. Here's a video of Veronika performing it solo:

The rest of the album is more standard blues rock with less ethnic influences, with lyrics mostly in Russian. Not exactly my kind of music, but some of these tracks are quite nice, like this one (in this video, the lyrics are in Chukchi language, but the album version is in Russian):

Overall, they're a quite unique band and definitely deserve more recognition outside of their home region that they currently have. As far as I know, they're still active and perform live quite often (their biggest success so far was participating in a folk/ethno-rock festival in Italy), although the lineup has changed several times (I've even read that two of their members have died in an accident, but don't know if it's true). They have recorded 3 or 4 albums by now, but looks like that only two were properly released. If I manage to find out more about them (which is difficult due to above reasons), I'll update this post for sure.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dadhikra - "Vadul Odulnye Karawaalpe (Folktales Of The Yukaghir People)" [2015]

Artist: Dadhikra
Title: Vadul Odulnye Karawaalpe (Folktales Of The Yukaghir People)
Genre: Ritual Ambient, Field Recordings
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Dorbu
  2. Longdol Circular Dance
  3. Loshiyaa, Loshiyaa, Ging, Ging, Ging
  4. Song Of The White Spirits Of The Light Way
I was browsing the Bandcamp page of one St. Petersburg-based label specialized in underground industrial and noise, and, to my surprise, found this:

"This work is based on the folktales of small Siberian nation - Yukaghirs. Dadhikra used the recordings of the karawaalpe Yukaghir folktales and traditional musical instruments: paydii, mumżerul, paydunube saal, niedjek chomuolben, čunžia, pukil’, łerkejeŋ, jerejepajdii, jonśe, wanna ajanaaŋ, pukol’urd’źe".

Since there's not much information about Yukaghir traditional music, apart from some recordings made during USSR times, this release is fairly unique. However, it's not your typical folk music album, and it's not easy to get into (I'd say it fits right in the catalogue of an industrial/noise label). Moreover, there's not much actual music: out of 4 tracks, two are spoken word recitals of folk tales (in Russian, but the words are not always easily decipherable). Overall, I'd recommend it to those who's into ritual music or just seeking something really weird, and if you're searching for more listenable Yukaghir-related material, the pop songs by Irina Duskulova are for you (she was thankful to me by posting her songs on here, by the way).

And speaking about the Yukaghir culture in general... well, it's considered to be moribund by many, and was considered to be so 100 years ago, yet it's still here and apparently isn't going anywhere (and I surely hope it won't!) There's something about this culture that makes it stand out of the other similar cultures of the Arctic, and some aspects of it seem be really ancient, perhaps going back in time as far as to the Mesolithic. It's also worth being mentioned that Yugaghirs have suprisingly many people with literal talent for such a small-numbered ethnic group, and they even are one of the very few cultures to independently develop a writing system - albeit a very specialized pictographic one (used mostly for writing love letters and letters of respect, as manyYukaghirs are too shy for telling such things openly), but still.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Subhuman - "III" [2008]

Artist: Subhuman
Title: Untitled III
Genre: Martial Industrial, Ambient
Country: Russia
Release date: 2008

"It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is..." (Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front")

Subhuman was a mysterious project from St. Petersburg that was active from 2004 to 2008, releasing three untitled (but numbered) CD-R albums, one of which is presented here. The project name is apparently an ironic pun on the propaganda term "Der Untermensch". This mini album consists of 5 untitled instrumental tracks that are supposed to be an apolitical martial industrial soundtrack to the human life and death during the 1930-40s. The remastered versions of all three albums are now available on Bandcamp:

Monday, May 7, 2018

Hvarna - "Koła Viartańniaŭ" [2010]

Artist: Hvarna
Title: Koła Viartańniaŭ
Genre: Folk, Ambient
Country: Russia/Belarus
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Soŭniejko
  2. Viasna, dzie buvała
  3. Arechavaja Čaša
  4. Poŭnia
  5. Na našym dvary
  6. Ziaziula Myja Sieryja
  7. Pierapiołačka
  8. Za tumanam
  9. Jak siała młada…
  10. Carkoŭka
  11. Vietach
"HVARNA is a project of Andrus Palauchenia (OSIMIRA, Pragnavit) and musicians from the band "Obereg". Based on the songs and tunes of Kryvia (Belarus), Finno-Ugric nationals and the territory of Russian North, Hvarna is decorated with improvisation play and vocal. The peculiarity and the uniqueness of this project is the intermingling of the two sacred instruments: krivian-lithuania duda and Russian psaltery. Musicians carefully and skillfully combined these two «opposites». It gave the music a special solemnity. HVARNA remains the lyrics intact, but gives them special musical interpretation and retains the magical atmosphere of a sense of the universe of their ancestors.
Hvarna in Avestan culture is the supreme divine reward, grace, holiness, the gift of fate, charisma, talent. Hvarna enables to move beyond the cycle of our world, to change your own destiny and the destiny of other people and to move to a new level of development.

Andrus Palauchenia - kryvian-lithuanian duda, vocal, kantele, wind-instruments, percussion.
Maxim Anukhin - gusli (psaltery), vocal, percussion.
Yekaterina Yelkina - vocal, percussion.
Yevgeniy Yablonskiy - keybords, vocal
Dmitriy Terekhov - percussion" (Bandcamp)

While this album turned out to be a bit less interesting than I initially thought after reading the description above, I still would recommend it to anyone who's into neofolk, and the bands like Moon Far Away in particular. It's also worth mentioning that while the lyrics are technically in a language that I have never learned, I still understood everything (or, well, almost everything :))

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Шесть Мёртвых Болгар - "Типы Архангельской Губернии" [2010]

Artist: Шесть Мёртвых Болгар
Title: Типы Архангельской Губернии
Genre: Industrial/Noise, Folk
Country: Russia
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Архангельск
  2. Товарищ (Обойду ли я кругом города)
  3. Тет тай сэрми (Четыре моих белолобых оленя)
  4. Зачинайсе, заря утряна
  5. Старичок
  6. Очень скорый поезд
  7. Не’хорэли (Женщина из рода Хорэли)
  8. Голымба
  9. Колыбельная (Бай-бай)
Six Dead Bulgars are one of the most long-running classic industrial/noise projects from Russia, formed in Arkhangelsk during mid-1990s and having released more than a dozen full-length albums since then. Their general style can be compared to Einsturzende Neubauten, but this particular album stands out of their discography because it consists mostly of remixed folk song of the Russian North. The album was recorded in collaboration with the members of Moon Far Away and the folk singer Ekaterina Zorina. The folk music of the Nenets people (which is obviously different from the Russian folk songs) was also used, particularly in the tracks #3 and #7. The electronic part of the music ranges from ambient to IDM and rhythmic noise. Surely, this is a controversial release which may not meet the taste of some fans of "pure" folk music, yet it's quite unique in terms of sound, being one of the most interesting albums in the band's whole discography: