Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog! I've posted quite a lot of stuff on here over the last decade, and while I listen to much less new music now than I did 10 years ago, I'll continue with this blog as long as possible. Stay tuned!

And happy birthday to the beautiful and talented Daria Zaritskaya, who was born right on the New Year eve. This photo is a little Christmas present from her, and while she isn't wearing a Christmas-themed outfit, she still looks great. And to reference ZZ Top - Daria has beautiful long legs, and surely knows how to use them:

Sunday, December 22, 2019

V/A - "Heliophagia θ" [2019]

Title: Heliophagia θ
Genre: Dark Ambient, Post-Rock, Post-Industrial
Country: Russia
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. A Reflection Rye Rill - Ma'T'Ma
  2. VTTA - Эпилог
  3. Defektophonie - Spinning Lights
  4. Circle Of Unexisted - Fires In The Mist
  5. Оцепеневшие - Другая смерть (Концерт в ДОМе)
  6. A Reflection Rye Rill - Smekh'T'
The Heliophagia netlabel is alive and well, and here's the newest compilation in their series dedicated to the longest night of the year: "Heliophagia θ is dedicated to the winter solstice 2019 and to the nadir of our minds". It features six pieces of hypnotic music generally reminding me of Ambersmoke (but less black metal and more electronic). Nice to see that the Heliophagia compilations are getting better and better with every year, and the cover art for this one definitely deserves a praise as well.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Count Raven - "Storm Warning" [1990]

Artist: Count Raven
Title: Storm Warning
Genre: Old School Doom Metal
Country: Sweden
Release date: 1990

Track List:
  1. Intro: Count Raven
  2. Inam Naudemina
  3. True Revelation
  4. In the Name of Rock 'n' Roll
  5. Sometimes a Great Nation
  6. Within the Garden of Mirrors
  7. A Devastating Age
  8. How Can It Be
  9. Social Warfare
  10. High Beliefs (Bonus)
  11. Frightened Eyes Never Lie (Demo) 
Like Candlemass, Count Raven were a classic doom metal band from Stockholm, but they were quite different from their much better known compatriots in terms of their sound, which was much more Black Sabbath-influenced. Another difference is their lyrics that quite often touched on political and social topics, which is rather uncommon for doom metal. When it comes to religion, their lyrics always were quite ambivalent, compared to overall anti-religious zeal of the 90s metal scene.

"Storm Warning" is their debut full-length album, and the only one featuring Christian Linderson on vocals (who also has done the vocals on "C.O.D." by Saint Vitus). Despite some filler tracks, the album as a whole is quite good; my personal favourites are "In the Name of Rock 'n' Roll" (a really catchy track with lyrics criticising the commercial glam rock/metal bands of the time and their highly metrosexual/androgynous looks - won't be surprised if it would be considered politically incorrect in today's Sweden) and "Inam Naudemina". There are also two bonus tracks from their early demos, that sound quite different from the rest of the album. Overall, "Storm Warning" makes for a very enjoyable listen, even it's too much in the vein of Black Sabbath while I prefer Candlemass-like doom metal.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Рожь - "Один сажень" [2019]

Artist: Рожь
Title: Один сажень
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal, Dark Ambient
Country: Russia
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. Один
  2. Платье под железом
  3. Головы
  4. Сажень
There's not much info about this project (whose name literally means "Rye"), apart from it being an one-man band from somewhere in Karelia, started by the dark ambient musician known as Vladimir Frith. The release notes for this EP say it also features artwork and some female vocals by Olga Volgina. Anyway, vocals are mostly unnoticeable on there, and the whole EP feels like a mostly instrumental work, roughly equally split between doom metal (with also some elements of black metal on track 3) and dark ambient parts. Apparently it wasn't metal enough to be included in Metal Archives, yet in my opinion it's not only an unambigiously metal release, but one of the best doom metal albums to come from Russia in the last few years.

It's a concept EP which, according to the release notes, tells the story of a long dead old man (who apparently was a hermit but no one now remembers neither his name, nor the language he spoke, nor his looks, nor his motives to live alone in the wilderness), whose log house became a sacred place for Karelian shamans. The author himself admits having tried to "connect" with the spirit of that man - of course, without any success - just to understand that he simply enjoys being alone among the nature of Karelia. Thus the overall atmosphere is clearly inspired by the Karelian nature and the mentality of the people in Russian North. Would recomment it to those who liked Shexna and are looking for other doom metal releases with similar themes, although this EP is very different in terms of sound.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Heruka - "བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa)" [2019]

Artist: Heruka
Title: བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa)
Genre: Death/Doom Metal, Ritual Ambient
Country: Nepal
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. དུས་གསུམ་སངས་ (Düsum Sangye)
  2. བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa)
One more discovery that sounds quite unusual but would be interesting for those searching for a mix of death/doom metal with all sorts of traditional music: an one-man project from Kathmandu, Nepal, playing raw old school death/doom metal mixed with ritual Tibetan chants. Strictly speaking, the only metal track on this demo is the second one; the opening one is a ritual ambient intro in the vein of Romokon or Raksha Mancham. As it often case with metal releases from countries like Nepal (even if "Tulzhug Chöpa" was recorded with the help of Canadian musicians, as far as I know), the "metal" part of this demo sounds like it was recorded during the early 90s, but it's definitely not a bad thing. Overall, this is pretty good for a demo, and certainly sounds very original. For those interested in the concept behind the music, here are the release notes from Bandcamp:
Taking inspiration from the ancient Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition, Heruka's demo entitled, བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa), is an ode to the realised tāntrik sages of this sacred landscape whose wisdom minds dwell in the indivisibility of bliss and emptiness.

First initiated over two years ago, the project's research work involved an in-depth study of the existing Vajrayāna tradition in the Tibetan lineages that currently thrive in India and Nepal along with a sincere inquiry in its Indic roots. The research work behind the lyrics and ideological concept behind Heruka included a thorough study of different complex aspects of the tradition's philosophy and soteriology, which was further strengthened after receiving transmissions and teachings from various contemporary Vajrayāna masters hailing from India, Tibet and Bhutan who have meticulously preserved and mastered several outer, inner and secret aspects of the tāntrik path.

The demo consists of two tracks, དུས་གསུམ་སངས་ (Dusum Sangye), a ritual ambient hymn sung in Tibetan language, which pays homage to Guru Padmasambhava, an 8th century Indian Mahāsiddha (Great Adept), who is credited with establishing Vajrayāna in Tibet. The second and self-titled track, བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་ (Tulzhug Chöpa), is a death/doom and ritual ambient track, which pays homage to the inner and secret aspects of the philosophy, path, unconventional behaviour and appearance of a realised tāntrik yogin. The track is sung in a mix of Sanskrit, English and Tibetan languages, and it utilises actual tāntrik ritual implements such as a damaru (hand-held drum), drilbu (ritual bell) and pre-recorded samples of rolmo ('fierce' cymbal) and (dung chen) trumpet, which are generally used by practitioners during tāntrik ceremonies in Vajrayāna monasteries or at hermitages.

May those who chance upon these sacred, wrathful chants realise the ultimate, essential nature of everything — sunyata!

Padma Vajra - Lyrics, vocals and ritual implements
R.S. - Guitars, bass, recording and mixing
A.S. - Drums

Logo and Art: Visionis Phosphorescent
Vocals and ambient tracks/recording by SISTER