Monday, November 30, 2020

The Kovenant - "SETI" [2003]

Artist: The Kovenant
Title: SETI
Genre: Industrial Metal, "Cyber Metal"
Country: Norway
Release date: 2003

Track List: 

  1. Cybertrash
  2. Planet of the Apes
  3. Star by Star
  4. Via Negativa
  5. Stillborn Universe
  6. Acid Theater
  7. The Perfect End
  8. Neon
  9. Keepers of the Garden
  10. Pantomime
  11. Hollow Earth
  12. Industrial Twilight
  13. Subtopia (bonus)
  14. The Memory Remains (Metallica cover)

Yeah, one of the songs from this album gave the name to my blog, and we've finally got to it. At the time, "SETI" was as controversial among "true" metal fans as "Wildhoney" by Tiamat, for pretty much the same reasons (being too electronic and experimental). But nowadays, "Animatronic" and "SETI" are considered to be the seminal albums in the "cyber metal" subgenre, even they might have be a massive disappointment to those fans of The Kovenant who have expected a sequel to their 1997 symphonic black metal masterpiece "Nexus Polaris" (yes, I know, it was released under the moniker "Covenant", but the band had to alther their name a bit to avoid confusion with the Swedish synthpop/EBM act under the same name, which is also very good). 

I was a big fan of this album during my early metal days, and still consider it to me one of the prime examples of so-called "cyber metal". Can't put my finger at any favourite tracks, since pretty much every song on "SETI" is highly memorable. The lyrics, that unsurprisingly deal mostly with sci-fi/cyberpunk/dystopian themes, are worth reading too, even if they aren't as "deep" as I thought during my teenage years. Sadly, the last album in the Lex Icon, and Psy Coma's trilogy, "Aria Galactica", never came to light, although the fans of THE Kovenant (including me) still have some hope even after almost two decades.

Violent Work Of Art - "The Worst Is Yet To Come" [2005]

Artist: Violent Work Of Art
Title: The Worst Is Yet To Come
Genre: Industrial Metal
Country: Sweden
Release date: 2005

Track List:

  1. Different Problem, Same Solution
  2. Reasons To Hate
  3. The Worst Is Yet To Come
  4. Wasted
  5. Sharing My Disease
  6. C.O.M.A.
  7. Divine
  8. Naked
  9. Wars To Win, And Wars To Lose 

Violent Work of Art are a rather overlooked name in the world of modern industrial metal (even the Wikipedia article on them was deleted several days ago for non-notability), yet it was among the bands that have introduced me to this genre long time ago. VWoA were formed in 1994 initially as a metalcore band, but later developed their own electronic metal style, sometimes dubbed as "jungle metal". Not familiar with their later releases, but AFAIK they're rather weak - so the name "The Worst Is Yet To Come" turned out to be prophetic. This album, however, is very energetic, featuring such catchy tracks as "Different Problem Same Solution", "Reasons To Hate" and "Sharing My Disease". Recommended to the fans of early 2000s Fear Factory. 


Puissance - "Grace of God" [2007]

Artist: Puissance
Title: Grace of God
Genre: Martial Industrial, Neoclassical
Country: Sweden
Release date: 2007

Track List: 

  1. Grace Of God
  2. Stance
  3. Walls Of Freedom
  4. Warzone
  5. In Death
  6. Conspiracy
  7. Brittle
  8. Loreto

Puissance are unique in the sense of being a martial industrial project that's also widely considered to be a part of the black metal scene, despite not being metal at all. Not surprising, because Fredrik Söderlund was involved in several black metal bands during the 90s, and brought a lot of typical black metal aesthetics and lyrical themes into Puissance. "Grace of God" is their last full-length album, and the most accessible to an average listener, compared to their earlier releases. That wasn't met well by the more "trve" elements in their fanbase, and that's probably the reason why Puissance was mostly put to rest after 2007, with Henry Möller focusing on his other project Arditi.

As for me, "Grace of God" is the bast album in their discography, and one of the best in the whole martial industrial genre, comparable to "Muse in Arms" by Triarii (my another favourite). Puissance are famous for the "apocalyptic" atmosphere of their music, and it's very much present on "Grace of God" as well. It also doesn't suffer from the usual problems of martial industrial such as overuse of samples. My personal favourites are the title track, the ballad-like "In Death" (the lyrics are remarkable as well), "Walls of Freedom", and "Brittle".

Friday, November 27, 2020

Kimmo Pohjonen - "Kalmuk" [2002]

Artist: Kimmo Pohjonen
Title: Kalmuk
Genre: Avant-Garde, Contemporary Classical/Folk, Free Jazz
Country: Finland
Release date: 2002

Track List: 

  1. Kellua
  2. Mantis
  3. Escher
  4. The Furies
  5. Spore
  6. Vortex
  7. Ehtola
  8. Genesis

The name of Kimmo Pohjonen, an accordionist from Finland, is quite big in the world of the contemporary classical music, and for a good reason. His music is exceptionally original, fusing folk, jazz, classical music and avant-garde experiments (with a big emphasis on the "avant-garde" part) that are on par with those of Rock In Opposition bands. His first track I ever heard was "Genesis" (that was at the time when I was getting into RIO bands btw), which has completely blown my mind:

"Pohjonen's instrument is a large five-row chromatic accordion, which has been modified to include microphones, pedals and wires, which allows him to play acoustically and electronically at the same time.

Over his career the music he has produced on the accordion has included traditional folk, classical, rock and theater, but he is best known for avant garde and experimental music. He blends musical styles such as rock, electronic beat, jazz and more. His composition are mostly instrumental works, based on the accordion, along with his voice to some extent, and with other instruments when he collaborates with other musicians. He also experiments with technology, using loops and layering effects onto the accordion's natural sound.

Pohjonen believes in constant innovation in music, and his compositions range from delicate tones to the ominous, contemplative and even frenzied, accompanied by shrieks, shouts, chanting, and noises from non-musical instrument. His music has been described as "soundscapes" sound designed to evoke emotions and images...

His live performances are uninhibited and athletic and have been called "extravagant" and "unhinged" and can included singing, acrobatics, electronic samples and art... Pohjonen is attracted to old customs and obsolete technologies, and these appear in his shows, such as sound from old farm machinery"

Amon Düül II - "Wolf City" [1973]

Artist: Amon Düül II
Title: Wolf City
Genre: Krautrock
Country: Germany
Release date: 1973

Track List:

  1. Surrounded By The Stars
  2. Green-Bubble-Raincoated-Man
  3. Jail-House-Frog
  4. Wolf City
  5. Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse
  6. Deutsch Nepal
  7. Sleepwalker's Timeless Bridge
  8. Kindermörderlied
  9. Mystic Blutsturz
  10. Düülirium

Yes, it's that band whose song Deutsch Nepal took the name from, and that has influenced quite a lot of other industrial artists. That said, Amon Düül emerged from the hippie rock scene of the late 60s (that was so disliked by most early industrial musicians, and not without reason), but eventually became one of the seminal bands in the Krautrock genre, starting from their highly innovative debut album "Phallus Dei" (1969):

"Amon Düül was initially an anarchist commune, but it split into two factions, Amon Düül (sometimes called Amon Düül I for disambiguation) and Amon Düül II. ADI was more politically inclined, but ADII preferred making music. Their anarchist tendencies are clearly seen in their music, especially on the albums Yeti, Tanz Der Lemminge, and Wolf City.

The band can be seen as having two distinct periods in their glory days, the improvisational period and the compositional period. The improvisational period consisted of albums such as Phallus Dei and Yeti, and, to a lesser extent, Tanz Der Lemminge. These albums all featured long, improvisational tracks (Phallus Dei was entirely improvised, and disc two of Yeti was as well, but Tanz Der Lemminge only featured one improvisation). Their compositional period starts with Carnival in Babylon and is highlighted by Wolf City. In this period, the band moved to more structured composed pieces. Many fans saw this as a poor move, but some believed that Amon Duul II proved that they were just as good at composing as they were at improvising"

I personally consider "Wolf City" their best album from their "glory days", and that's the album I would recommend to start listening to ADII discography from. Renate Knaup's vocals are certainly not for everyone's liking, and take some time to get used to them, but I think her voice sounds great in the opening track "Surrounded By The Stars" (my favourite song from ADII!). In general, the album sounds quite original and futuristic, and certainly not outdated even today. Check out one of the bonus track "Mystic Blutsturz", which might be considered one of the earliest examples of darkwave or dream pop. Not very familiar with the rest of their discography after "Wolf City", but as far a I know, there was a significant drop in quality of their music after 1975, so maybe I haven't missed much...

Turbonegro - "Rock'N'Roll Machine" [2018]

Artist: Turbonegro
Title: Rock'N'Roll Machine
Genre: "Death Punk", Hard Rock
Country: Norway
Release date: 2018

Track List: 

  1. Chrome Ozone Creation (The Rock And Roll Machine Suite Part I)
  2. Part II: Well Hello
  3. Part III: Rock'N'Roll Machine
  4. Hurry Up & Die
  5. Fist City
  6. Skinhead Rock & Roll
  7. Hot For Nietzsche
  8. On The Rag
  9. Let The Punishment Fit The Behind
  10. John Carpenter Powder Ballad
  11. Special Education

I think we all can agree that Turbonegro are much more than just a punk band. Their unique mix of glam rock, punk and hard rock/heavy metal was dubbed "death punk" (not to be confusted with deathrock!), and their international fan club "TurboJugend" has reached a level of a mini subculture on it own, known for the heavy use of politically incorrect humour and provocative imagery with a clear homoerotic innuendo:

It wasn't worse than Pål Bøttger Kjærnes (Pål Pot Pamparius) screaming out aloud: "Hey, let's put a new band together! What shall the band name be?" Pål suggests Mindburger. Another suggests Nazipenis (which later ended up as a name of the band's tribute band). But suddenly Pål remembers a tag he had seen under a bridge in Finstad, Ski. Turboneger (Turbonegro in english). Founding member Thomas Seltzer once said, "A turbonegro is a large, well-equipped, armed black male in a fast car, out for vengeance. We are his prophets."

Their final band consists of: Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby, vocals (Hank Von Helvete), Thomas Seltzer, bass (Happy-Tom), Rune Grønn, guitar (Rune Rebellion), Pål Bøttger Kjærnes, percussion & piano (Pål Pot Pamparius), Knut Schreiner, lead guitar (Euroboy) and Christer Engen, drums (Chris Summers).

 From an old interview with Hank von Helvete:

Q: But don't you know that in Germany the Iron Cross is a symbol of the Political Right-Wing and the Nazis ?!?
A: This symbol is a lot older than the Nazis. I don't believe they are allowed to incorporate these symbols for their matters, and that we are now forced to stick to it forever. I am wearing this sign because I am a dominant Norse homo punk rocker, and 'coz I love to beat up people.

Don't you love those guys?.. Their latest up-to-date album "Rock'N'Roll Machine" is easily one of their best, no worse than their legendary release "Apocalypse Dudes" from 20 years before. It's quite far from classic punk, incorporating a lot of elements of 80s hard/glam rock and even synthwave, but the true punk attitude is definitely there. My favourite tracks are "Special Education", "Part III: Rock'N'Roll Machine" (which again offended someone's sensitivities with the line "I work all day and I last all night and I'm cheaper than a Mexican", although the actual Mexican TurboJugend members loved this song, and the band themselves explained it as a "song sung in the first person by a character; a creepily love-sick cyborg bragging about how he is going to take over the world and destroy the job market. He’s also a reactionary and a bigot. Pretty satirical stuff..."), "Hurry Up And Die", and of course, "Hot For Nietzsche" (which is, in my opinion, one of their best songs ever, along with "Don't Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker" from "Apocalypse Dudes"):

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mandragora's Chain - "Retribution" [2012]

Artist: Mandragora's Chain
Title: Retribution
Genre: Noise, Dark Ambient, Industrial
Country: Ukraine
Release date: 2012

Track List: 

  1. Prologue: Happy?
  2. Do not look back
  3. Touch
  4. Retribution
  5. Love
  6. Interlude Trust No One
  7. Kill
  8. United in slavery
  9. Information War
  10. New world order
  11. Obey
  12. Destroy your nation
  13. Epilogue No More

Another obscure noise project from Kiev, started in 2008 initially as a pure "anarchist power electronics/noise" project, but later incorporated elements from various other post-industrial genres. The guy behind the project was active in the electronic music scene at least until 2013 under the moniker of Sitreus Ramirez, but in the early 2010s he became much more interested in deep techno, IDM and downtempo, and decided to focus on his solo works and his IDM band Sound Wave Pressure. However, I find his early noise/industrial works much more interesting in terms of both sound and message:

Старый Киев - "Белый шум" [2015]

Artist: Старый Киев
Title: Белый шум
Genre: Black Metal/Noise
Country: Ukraine
Release date: 2015

Track List: 

  1. Шперрунг
  2. Скалярное произведение векторов
  3. Аксиома шума
  4. Битва за пустоту
  5. Гибель Сатурна

This very obscure Kiev-based project was started in 2013 by the members of no less obscure depressive black metal band *Dog* , initially as an attempt to start a new wave of raw black metal. While their early demos have gone mostly unnoticed, their last 2015 demo does deserve attention - but if you like noise more than black metal. While it's still based in raw black metal, it's aptly called "While Noise", and shows that the aesthetics of early post-USSR noise projects were still alive in the mid-2010s.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Dibrowa - "Lvivchumamiskrembudmekhanizatsiya 1761" [2020]

Artist: Dibrowa
Title: Lvivchumamiskrembudmekhanizatsiya 1761
Genre: Dark Ambient/Drone
Country: Ukraine
Release date: 2020

Track List:

  1. Station 1 - "Autosvit" store
  2. Station 2 - OJSC Concern-Electron
  3. Station 3 - “Otex” LLC
  4. Station 4 - "Under the Cherry" restaurant
  5. Station 5 - SE "Electronpotubprilad" Plant 

As I said several times before, I receive demos from various bedroom noise projects on a regular basis, and for the most part they're just plain boring. But this time, while checking my old mail, I found a message from a female-fronted project from Western Ukraine that promised to be "not the next boring typical drone-ambient-bla-bla-bla". Well, let's see...

"Dibrowa is a pagan priests settlement, which was seized by King Danylo Halytsky to present it to his son Lev. Now it is the territory of the forgotten temples of Znesinnia Park.
This is a Project by Liana Mytsko from Lviv. The history of the city and its dark abandoned corners diluted with the noise of experimental music"

 "Lvivchumamiskrembudmekhanizatsiya 1761" is a concept album inspired by the urban exploration of those "dark abandoned corners", and was said to guarantee a good trip, even without "chemistry":

"In Lviv, at 251 Zelena Street, almost out of the city, surrounded by garbage, on the territory of the Lvivmiskrembudmekhanizatsiya Enterprise, there is an abandoned plague cemetery of the 1761 year with the figure of Jesus Christ the Sorrowful standing on the top of the column.
Currently, at this address are illegal scrapyard of Electronbutprylad Plant, Concern Electron, Otex Ltd, restaurant" Under the Cherry ", "Autosvit " Store, and gravestone manufacture.
And if these Stations of the Cross in forgotten industrial place scares you, remember:
"It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all.
From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood,
and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." (Gospel of Thomas 1:77)
This is the temple that we deserve"

Monday, November 23, 2020

Security Device - "Device Interceptor" [199?]

Artist: Security Device
Title: Device Interceptor
Genre: EBM, Electro-Industrial
Country: Brazil
Release date: unknown, c. 1995

Track List: 

  1. From My Scorn
  2. Extermination Behest
  3. Wish To Die
  4. The Ritual
  5. Hypnosis
  6. Empty Zone
  7. Mental Riot
  8. Escape From Reality
  9. Clone

Brazil seems to have had quite lot of interesting cyberpunk-themed music projects during the 90s: Cyberthreat, Cybernetic Faces, and of course Security Device, an one-man project by Paulo Lanfranchi stared in early 90s and abandoned in 1995 after releasing one cassette. During its rather short career, Security Device once had an opportunity to share the scene with Vomito Negro, but other than that, his works remained extremely underground. Much later, Paulo Lanfranchi took part in the dark electro / harsh EBM project Homicide Division.

"Device Interceptor" is a very "true" but undeservedly overlooked EBM release inspired by sci-fi and cyberpunk literature (in particular, the works of William Gibson). The main lyrical themes are escapism, technological progress (and the increasing human dependency on technologies) and environmental pollution. It's uncertain which year "Device Interceptor" was released (the cassette inlay has no indication either), but it's certainly from the 90s. It was recorded using a quite primitive 8-bit Amiga computer, so there's a lot of hard work behind that "old school" sound that we all love.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Baphomet Engine - s/t [2006]

Artist: Baphomet Engine
Title: Baphomet Engine 1
Genre: Dark Psytrance
Country: Brazil
Release date: 2006

Track List: 

  1. Prelúdio
  2. Calling to Death
  3. L'Alienation Mentale
  4. Hades
  5. Looking for Dragons at Spitsbergen
  6. The First Possession
  7. Dancing on the Barrows
  8. Miss Dymphne Tryplet is Dead
  9. Templar Warriors

Here's the debut full-length album of another famous dark psytrance project, released in 2006 (about the same time as the debut by Blisargon Demogorgon) on Magic Dragon Records. "Baphomet Engine is a darkpsy project , who was born in Goiânia in 2003, headed by Fábio Siqueira, who felt the need to transmit a new excitement to lovers of psy, causing the darker sides of the human race":

Blisargon Demogorgon - "Book of Magic" [2007]

Artist: Blisargon Demogorgon
Title: Book of Magic
Genre: Dark Psytrance
Country: North Macedonia
Release date: 2007

Track List: 

  1. Samara Is Back
  2. Toxic Soul
  3. Legend Of The Past
  4. Shadows On The Road
  5. Book Of Magic
  6. Fear Of Hell
  7. Illusion Of Death
  8. Black Zodiac
  9. Magical Portal 

I never was particularly interested in mainstream electronic/club music, including trance, yet there's a rather underground subgenre of psytrance that comes fairly close to my favourite electronic genres and uses fairly provocative occult imagery. Yes, I'm talking about darkpsy, and the debut full-length album by Blisargon Demogorgon aka Valentino Trenchev is one of the best examples of this genre. "The music that streams out of this project is generally deep night sound and powerful, with a lot of rhytms and loaded with atmospheres" (c).

Alice in Videoland - "Maiden Voyage" [2003]

Artist: Alice in Videoland
Title: Maiden Voyage
Genre: Synthpop, Electroclash
Country: Sweden
Release date: 2003

Track List: 

  1. Lay Me Down
  2. Got To Go
  3. Going Down
  4. Red
  5. Dance With Me
  6. Video Girl
  7. Panic
  8. Addicted
  9. Naked
  10. Sweet Thing

Alice in Videoland are another band that's more of a "guilty pleasure" to me, although their albums "Maiden Voyage", "Outrageous" and "She's a Machine" have attained somewhat of a cult status well before the wave of female-fronted electroclash in the 2010s:

"Our imaginary Alice fell into the rabbit hole on a chilly day in May 2002. Toril Lindqvist had been a guitar player in various rock bands for years, but was beginning to feel tormented by musical inspiratio that didn't quite fit into any Rock and Roll context. She wanted to be a singer. In something more "electronic" than a rock band. Finally one day she took a long shot and phoned old friend Carl Lundgren.

Skeptical in the extreme, Carl agreed to hook up for a brain storming session. The two met a couple of times and became inspired by the fact that they really had nothing in common musically; this would actually become the fuel of their creative process. Early on, the duo would make attempts at "Body Music meets Punk Rock meets Commodore 64", inspired by an imaginary and unholy alliance of DAF, The Clash and Rob Hubbard.

A couple of simple demos were released during the late summer of 2002, and surprisingly generated lots of acclaim! With fuelled enthusiasm, the duo christened their project "Alice in Videoland" from a 1984 Commodore 64 computer game. Anders Lundgren (keyboards) and Anders Alexander (drums) were recruited in February 2003. Johan Dahlbom (bass) joined in November the same year. At this point, Alice in Videoland had begun receiving massive praise for their energetic and charismatic live show.

In the midst of this early experimentation process, off the hype of a five track demo and less than ten gigs, Alice in Videoland suddenly found themselves battered with offers. Eight different labels expressed their interest in signing the band, who were eventually attracted to the relative freedom offered by Swedish label National. AiV began recording their album in June 2003, partly assisted by Micke Lohse (Atomic Swing). Curious of cross-genre experimentation, the band elaborated on their sound, drawing inspiration from a spectrum of genres ranging from EBM, synthpop and electro through to disco, rock and punk.

And sure enough - in the following months their sound evolved from being arguably concept driven into something truly musically interesting. The debut album, Maiden Voyage contains a peculiar mixture of electronic pop, punk and hard EBM beats..."
Their live shows were praised a lot at the time, but there aren't many recordings on YouTube as I expected. When it comes to "Maiden Voyage", I'd generally agree with the description above - it's something in between of synthpop (in the vein of Ayria), EBM and electroclash, with a healthy dose of (cyber)punk attitude:

Esplendor Geométrico - "EG-1" [1981]

Artist: Esplendor Geométrico
Title: EG-1
Genre: Industrial, Rhythmic Noise
Country: Spain
Release date: 1981

Track List: 

  1. Muerte A Escala Industrial
  2. Neuridrina
  3. El Cabecilla Del Vaticano
  4. La Ciudad De Los Héroes Rojos
  5. Amor En Mauthausen
  6. P.I.E. (Versión)
  7. Destrozaron Sus Ovarios
  8. Quince Años Tiene Mi Amor
  9. María Luisa
  10. El Sentido Es El Uso (Bonus)
  11. Edad Del Hierro (Bonus)
  12. Moscú Está Helado (Bonus)

I already have mentioned Esplendor Geometrico on here as a rare example of a classic noise/industrial band from Spain, so I think posting their debut album won't hurt. Honestly I'm not very familiar with the rest of their discography, and maybe I'm not missing much, since many sources describe it as standard boring rhythmic noise. This album, however, is fairly interesting for a early noise release, and has a significant historical importance:

"After their first single, ‘Necrosis en la poya’ (1981), Esplendor Geométrico released their first cassette that same year: “EG-1”. A cult band of Industrial music, they were one of the first cases of true independence in the history of Spanish music. Not only financial and organizational, but also creative independence. These first works were self-produced and distributed by the band themselves, before the appearance of the Spanish independent record labels in the early 80s. 

Without a doubt, “EG-1” is one of the fundamental works by Esplendor Geométrico, where they started to develop their unique style of rhythmic-noisy- industrial music which would be such a great influence on other artists afterwards. Tracks like ‘Muerte a escala industrial’, ‘Destrozaron sus ovarios’ and ‘Neuridrina’ are regarded by their fans as some of the best recorded by the band..."

 "An uncomfortable and creepy, yet entirely hypnotic, exploration of the intersection of machine and body that makes you feel imminently breakable, but also as though your physical form will endure, one way or another, and for better or for worse, no matter what's done to it"

P.S. It also contains their probably best known track, "Moscú está helado", as a bonus, which is a good example of their flirting with the Soviet aesthetics (and from what I know, they also became influenced by the Middle Eastern cultures later on).

Water Low - "After the Apocalypse" [2013]

Artist: Water Low
Title: After the Apocalypse
Genre: Synthpop
Country: Russia
Year: 2013

Track List:

  1. Run
  2. Cassandra
  3. Movie Heroes
  4. The Passion Of Deduction
  5. www.lovers
  6. Bar Water Low
  7. Kiss Me Now Kill Me Now (feat. Alex Gayduk)
  8. Neutron Star
  9. The Key
  10. Never

Water Low are a female-fronted synthpop/futurepop band from Moscow with steampunk aesthetics, describing themselves as "a new musical conceptual project composing music in art electro, indie, future pop style, and also experimenting in any musical genres. The compositions of Water Low can be described as the unique mix of modern electro music styles with rock-guitar and touching cosmic female vocal"

Interestingly, their lead vocalist Lilia Verhovenskaya was also singing in a folk metal band (not a very serious one, though) from 2016 to 2019. "After the Apocalypse" is their debut full-length album, which I'd recommend to anyone who liked the early works by Omnimar. My personal favourite is "www.lovers" (which is the most "pop" sounding track on the whole album, though).

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Iahsari - "Shrine of the Ancient Gods" [2018]

Artist: Iahsari
Title: Shrine of the Ancient Gods
Genre: Symphonic/Folk Metal
Country: Georgia
Year: 2018

Track List:

  1. Daisi (Intro)
  2. Unbowed (Blood of Colchis)
  3. Sirenum Scopuli
  4. Shatilis Asulo (Maiden of Shatili)
  5. Gelino
  6. Wind Divine
  7. Sword's Outcry
  8. The Dream
  9. Old Man's Grief
  10. Epilogue

Turns out that quite good symphonic metal exists in Georgia too. Iahsari were formed in Tbilisi in late 2015 by former bembers of several Russian and Georgian metal bands (Fferyllt, Harmonium, Tanelorn). Their name refers to Iakhsari, a deity in the Georgian mythology who's the son of Gmerti, the creator of universe. On "Shrine of the Ancient Gods" they play "cinematic" symphonic metal with dual male/female vocals (+ several guest vocalists) and lots of folk elements. My personal favourite is "Gelino", which is metal version of a traditional Georgian folk song:

Niobeth - "Silvery Moonbeams" [2011]

Artist: Niobeth
Title: Silvery Moonbeams
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Spain
Year: 2011

Track List:

  1. The Banished Princess
  2. Eclipse
  3. Withered Lullabies
  4. Sons of the Earth
  5. Campeón
  6. Stolen Innocence
  7. My Dead Angel
  8. I Know That I Know Nothing
  9. I Need You to Need Me
  10. Sadako's Wings of Hope
  11. Polovtsian Dances
  12. Solitude

Let's continue with overlooked symphonic metal bands of  late 2000s and early 2010s. Niobeth were a band from Spain (Albacete), formed in 2005 by the guitarist Jesús Díez García and vocalist Itea Benedicto Colás (now working as a professional actress), and disbanded in late 2011 after releasing two full-length albums.

The cover art of "Silvery Moonbeams" certainly resembles that of "Century Child" (and, to a less extent, "Oceanborn") by Nightwish, but I won't call Niobeth just another Nightwish clone, even if it's fairly typical symphonic metal with female vocals, strongly influenced by classical music. Unfortunately the quality of production is far from great (but still better than on their debut album, "The Shining Harmony of Universe"), especially when it comes to vocals. It seems to be the general problem with Niobeth that extends to their music videos too. In particular, this song is one of their best, but the clip is an example of how you shouldn't make music videos (seriously, the only good thing in this video is Itea wearing a corset with knee-high boots):

Here's another video, this time for a song off their debut album, which isn't music better:

However, if you can get past the rather weak production and the really bad music videos, the material on "Silvery Moonbeams" is pretty good. It's a shame that they had a lot of potential, but couldn't realize it to the fullest...

Friday, November 20, 2020

Mysterya - "Symbiont" [2013]

Artist: Mysterya
Title: Symbiont
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Ukraine
Year: 2013

Track List:

  1. Живи всерьёз
  2. Луна
  3. Мечта
  4. Незнайомець
  5. It's Real
  6. За всех
  7. Цена свободы
  8. Гимн
  9. Симбіонт
  10. Этот мир
  11. Колискова
  12. Творение

Another female-fronted synphonic metal band from the post-Soviet space that deserves more recognition outside of their home country, Mysterya were formed in 2007 and led by the beautiful Irina Vasilenko, who's also a lead singer in the Rock Opera Mozart. Worth also noting that her non-metal solo project Eria appeared in the X-Factor Ukraine in 2014 and was nominated for Eurovision in 2014. She loves cats (and animals in general) too:

Lanewin - "Autuua" [2010]

Artist: Lanewin
Title: Autuua
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2010

Track List:

  1. Gate of Lanewin
  2. Essence of War
  3. Illusions of Dogma
  4. One More Life
  5. Heartbeat
  6. Legend of Saviour
  7. Delusiveness
  8. No Time for Dreaming
  9. Dark Love
  10. Venom

Lanewin (initially named Infinity) are one of the most overlooked Russian symphonic metal bands from the early 2010s. They have released two full-length albums during 2010-2012, but disbanded shortly thereafter. Now their former vocalist Anna Belyaeva lives in Norway and sings in her solo non-metal project Anna Beliva (pronounced as "believer"), and the rest of the band reunited under the name ElisaDay. While their idependently released debut "Autuua" sounds rather naive and doesn't have a particularly high production value, it's an interesting yet overlooked artifact of its era.

Lab - "Where Heaven Ends" [2005]

Artist: Lab
Title: Where Heaven Ends
Genre: Alternative Rock
Country: Finland
Year: 2005

Track List:

  1. When Heaven Gets Dirty
  2. Danger
  3. Love Like Hell!
  4. Insane With Love
  5. Raining Dogs
  6. Who Is She?
  7. Goodness I'm A Goddess
  8. Torture For Two
  9. Did You Ever Hate Me?
  10. Where Heaven Ends

Now here's a Finnish band that doesn't even count as "love metal", and they're probably less heavy than The Rasmus. Yet they have appeared on a couple of gothic rock/metal compilations, and this album in particular is one of my "guilty pleasures". Led by the siblings Ana & Johannes Leppälä, Lab are mostly known for their song "Beat the Boys" from the FlatOut game OST, and maybe also for the song "Machine Girl" (unfortunately I couldn't find the version where Ana tries to speak Russian in the middle of the song, which sounded quite adorable):

"Where Heaven Ends" is their best (and unfortunately the last) full-length album. Of course it's definitely not "gothic rock/industrial" as it was described on some sites, but your typical female-fronted rock in the vein of The Cardigans. i also would compare them with No Doubt circa 2000, especially the album "Return of Saturn" (which was one of my alternative rock favourites during my teenage years).

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Sentenced - "The Cold White Light" [2002]

Artist: Sentenced
Title: The Cold White Light
Genre: Gothic Metal
Country: Finland
Year: 2002

Track List:

  1. Konevitsan Kirkonkellot
  2. Cross My Heart and Hope to Die
  3. Brief Is the Light
  4. Neverlasting
  5. Aika Multaa Muistot (Everything Is Nothing)
  6. Excuse Me While I Kill Myself
  7. Blood & Tears
  8. You Are the One
  9. Guilt and Regret
  10. The Luxury of a Grave
  11. No One There

During the late 90s and early 2000s, Finland was well-known for its gothic metal scene - and no, I'm not talking about "love metal" bands like HIM or Negative. While Sentenced, once a death metal band, has switched to gothic metal with lyrics about love, depression and suicide, they never were anything close to a "love metal" band, and their later albums (bar "The Funeral Album", which is undoubtedly much weaker than the rest of their discography) are among my all-time favourites. In particular, "The Cold White Light" is one of the best albums ever released by Century Media, and a must-listen to everyone interested in the topic of so-called "Finno-Ugric suicide". Interestingly, the intro for this album ("Konevets monastery cloister bells") is likely influenced by a similar track "Valamon Kirkonkellot (Valaam cloister bells)" by Loituma. I personally have been to Valaam (it's a must-visit destination in Karelia, as well as Kizhi), but not to Konevets.

P.S. For some reason, Yandex.Music suggests Iced Earth and Myrath on the top of the "similar artists" list for this album. While Sentenced obviously sound different from these bands, I can't say these suggestions aren't useful :P