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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Shexna - s/t [2013]

Artist: Shexna
Title: Shexna
Genre: Folk/Doom Metal (with Industrial Metal overtones)
Country: Russia
Release date: 2013

Track List:
  1. Плач (intro)
  2. Братья
  3. Дождь
  4. Горе
  5. Снегопад (instrumental)
  6. Кумушки
  7. Печаль
  8. Мертвец Говорит
  9. Расставание
Shexna, named after one of the most important rivers of the Russian North (and one of the most beautiful ones, so any band with such a name would catch my attention), is a side project of Ilya Morok (Bog~Morok) which is a continuation of his earlier band Во Скорбях that played a very unorthodox mix of funeral doom metal and folk metal. While the style of Shexna can be described as folk/doom metal as well, it has a very distinct math/industrial metal riffing, and noticeably better production. The vocal style is unusual and not for everyone's liking; quite a few people have even compared it to Egor Letov's vocal style (especially on the second track and the more punk-ish parts of the 8th track).

All the songs on this album, except for the third one, are metal interpretations of the traditional folk songs that deal with the topics of death, afterlife and relationship between the living and the dead (worth nothing that the band had put a lot of work in collecting such songs). However, it's not a pagan metal album (even if it looks like so at a first glance), and there's nothing specifically "pagan" in the lyrics. Despite Morok's love for electronic elements in his music, none of the folk instruments on this album are synthesized (although they sometimes sound this way, especially on the third track). Overall, it's definitely an unique work that stands out among more "standard" /cliched folk metal albums, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, compared to the only album by Во Скорбях, it went largely unnoticed, especially outside Russia. Don't think I can name any other band that sounds like that (the closest would be Risha or Second to Sun, but neither are based in doom metal).

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Bog-Morok - "Azoic" [2003]

Artist: Bog[~]Morok
Title: Azoic
Genre: Death/Doom Metal (with Industrial Metal overtones)
Country: Russia
Release date: 2003

Track List:
  1. Penitento
  2. Ignis Fatuus
  3. Flagrant
  4. Azoic
  5. Verve
  6. Athwart
  7. Exegesis
  8. Alas
  9. Defragmentized
Getting back on the track of posting good but overlooked metal albums from Eastern Europe, here's the debut full-length album by Bog Morok. Its style is fairly representative of the kind of doom/death metal which was popular at the time it was released, although you can already hear some industrial influences there (listen to the whole album, and you'll see how it's become more and more electronic towards to the end). If I find some free time in the next couple of weeks, I'll also review some other projects of Ilya Morok, so stay tuned.

Everyday is Halloween

Even if Halloween is not widely celebrated here in Eastern Europe (and the more conservative part of society generally views its celebration as a sign of cultural colonization), it seems to be a kind of a professional holiday for all the metal musicians on my social media feeds. Unfortunately I was too busy with other stuff to post anything on this blog during the last few weeks, yet don't think I'm late with posting this - since, as it was put by Ministry, the Halloween is everyday for us:


"Well i live with snakes and lizards
and other things that go bump in the night
cos to me everyday is halloween
i have given up hiding and started to fight
i have started to fight

Well any time, any place, anywhere that i go
all the people seem to stop and stare
they say 'why are you dressed like it's halloween?
you look so absurd, you look so obscene'"

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the music writer Dave Thompson described "(Everyday Is) Halloween" as having been "adopted as the anthem of America's disenfranchised Gothic community". It's definitely one of the best songs from the early Ministry's synthpop period, although my personal top favourite is "We Believe":

For me it's firmly on par with the best of their later industrial rock/metal stuff (although it honestly would be better if Al Jourgensen had finally put the band to rest in 2008). And now ir's time to post some Halloween photos from my Instagram feed. Let's start with Justine Daae of Elyose...

...continue with Natalia Zolotova of Cold Sight (yes, I like girls wearing hats, and seems like many of my favourite female vocalists love to wear them too)...

... and finish with this awesome black'n'white photo of Daria Zaritskaya:

It's not exactly a Halloween photo (although it was posted on Halloween), but I just love to see long-legged Daria wearing those boots (especially with the 12cm high heels), and judging from her replies on Instagram, she loves this style even more than I do. Quite similar to the style of Elena (ex-Xalynar), who also got both musical talent and beautiful legs, and loved to wear short dresses with knee-high boots on stage :3

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Bog-Morok - "Industrialypse" [2014]

Artist: Bog[~]Morok
Title: Industrialypse
Genre: Industrial Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2014

Track List:
  1. Industrialypse
  2. Gliese 581d
  3. Не вижу зла (Stadiae III)
  4. Neizbezhnost'
  5. Hellstarter
  6. Shapeshifter
  7. Bloodsucker
  8. Свет в конце тоннеля
  9. Звездопад
  10. IDDQD
  11. Undream
Now here's a band from a town with I did manage to visit this year - Rybinsk. Bog Morok (also stylized as Bog[~]Morok) are one of the few long-running Russian metal bands that started in the second half of the 90s from death/doom metal which was quite popular at the time. Since mid-2000s, they switched their style for industrial metal heavily influenced by Fear Factory (and probably the industrial landscapes at the outskirts of their hometown). While some of their earlier works contain too much alternative/nu-metal influences for my taste, "Industrialypse" is one of their best releases and can be recommended to anyone looking for something resembling the best works by Fear Factory:


Friday, October 11, 2019

Xalynar - "Inner Circle" [2012]

Artist: Xalynar
Title: Inner Circle
Genre: Industrial Death Metal, Modern Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2012

Track List:
  1. We Will Run
  2. Follow Me
  3. Time To Cry
  4. Obsession
  5. Fuck Out
  6. Vanity
During my travels this summer I had plans of visiting Rostov-on-Don which didn't come true, but at least I have discovered a release by an interesting obscure band from that city. Xalynar was formed in 2010 from the ashes of a earlier band called Selena, by the guitarist Kirill Shmailo and his sister Elena on vocals. The band existed until December 2012 and has released an EP called "Vanity" in 2011, followed by a full-length (if 25 minutes counts for "full-length") album the next year.

Their music was usually described as "modern metal" or "cyber metal", which are both quite vague terms I prefer to avoid, yet in case of Xalynar they should give you a good idea of what you're going to hear. With all honesty, "Inner Circle" is far from being a masterpiece, but at least one song on there ("Follow Me") is really great, and as a whole, I liked it better than what the better known "modern metal" bands like Illidiance or Digimortal were playing at that time. In short, if you like melodic death metal/metalcore with a lot of electronics and female growls mixed with clean vocals, "Inner Circle" might be your cup of tea.

As of now, most former members of Xalynar seem to be more into bodybuilding rather than music, although Kirill has a rather popular YouTube channel for guitarists called HardSound. No idea what Elena is doing now, but I know she regretted going into music. That's very unfortunate because she was a talented vocalist, but completely understandable because singing in Xalynar required too much effort with too little recognition. There aren't many surviving recordings of their live shows, but this one is pretty good:


And one more, but with a rather poor quality of sound... Well, at least Elena looks great in a short black dress with knee-high boots:


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Neuroheart - "No More Time" [2019]

Artist: Neuroheart
Title: No More Time
Genre: Symphonic/Modern Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. The Digital Age
  2. No More Time
  3. Reveal Your Demons
  4. Hold My Hand
  5. Phantom Dream
  6. I Know Who You Are
  7. This Weird Universe
  8. Utopia
  9. Eternal Rain
At first it was hard for me to believe it's an album by the same band that was known as Arcane Symphony until recently, even though I already knew from their vocalist Anna Volodina that she was listening a lot to bands like Amaranthe recently, and the new sound of her band (which is now looking for new bassist and drummer btw) would certainly be much more electronic than their debut "A New Day Begins", which was fairly conventional symphonic metal.

Their sound has definitely changed along with the name, yet their symphonic metal roots are still present, especially on the second half of the album. Overall, "No More Time" has some pretty catchy tunes, and generally haven't disappointed me as I was afraid. Yes, it sounds a bit on the pop side of things at times, yet it's still more metal than Amaranthe or Dope Stars Inc.:

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Romokon - "Dripnön" [2019]

Artist: Romokon
Title: Dripnön
Genre: Ritual Ambient
Country: Hungary
Year: 2019

Track List:
  1. Nüpa
  2. Dorje
  3. Döchak
  4. Kyewa
It's not often when my readers suggest me anything interesting, but here's one: a Hungarian ritual ambient project with a Tibetan theme (out of all the stuff posted on here before, it can be compared to Raksha Mancham), that was primarily active during 2006-2009 but released the debut EP entitled "Dripnön" only in May 2019. All the tracks are minimalistic and instrumental (with the exception of "Оṃ Vajrapāṇi Hūṃ" mantra used in the second track):


Friday, August 30, 2019

Pierre Noir - "Licantropia is the relationship of the barbarized mankind" [2019]

Artist: Pierre Noir
Title: Licantropia is the relationship of the barbarized mankind
Genre: Industrial/Techno, Black Metal
Country: Spain
Year: 2019

Track List:
  1. Licantropia is the relationship
  2. Barbarization of mankind
Pierre Noir is an anonymous project from Spain (apparently somehow connected to Yunclas), that's producing a rather strange kind of industrial techno with black metal overtones. Surely it's not for everyone's taste, but it's original. At least I can't name any acts that sound similar to Pierre Noir, although "Esplendor Geométrico meets black metal" would be a fairly accurate description. The comparison with EG is quite obvious since they're the only classic industrial act in Spain that has influenced a lot of industrial/rhythmic noise artists, spanish and non-Spanish alike.

The name of the project may sound like a parody of Peste Noire, but it's actually a reference to the black stones (like the well-known one in Mecca) that were worshipped in many pagan cultures (that's also probably what the Candlemass song "Black Stone Wielder" was inspired by). The apparent parallel in northwestern Russia is the worship of "blue stones" which is probably of Meryan origin ultimately.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

V/A - "Lavana III" [2019]

Title: Heliophagia 06
Genre: Dark Ambient, Post-Rock, Post-Industrial
Country: Russia
Year: 2019

Track List:
  1. Futiliteit - August
  2. Res Magnifica - Orange Sky Aglow
  3. Непрерывные Города & Всполохи Ржавчины - Серповница
  4. Accasari (ex-System Morgue) - Devoratio
  5. Refraction Reel Lily - MoRr-Oko-Lahr
  6. Circle Of Unexisted - Bloodhail (Have a Nice Life cover) (feat. Anguish)
Good to see that Heliophagia are back again to work after a long hiatus. According to their description, "The Lavana III compilation is dedicated to the Summer Harvest 2019, as well as to our noonday demons". The first two compilations in these series, Lavana I and Lavana II: Hardest Harvest, also were dedicated to the traditional day of summer harvest, as well as to the death of everything old and the beginning of everything new. Overall, these ones aren't as good as Lavana III, but at least the Casa Ukrania track on Lavana I is one of their best. As for this complilation, it's certainly recommended for all fans of hypnotic and slightly noisy post-rock sound. Not sure if the band Futiliteit on there is the same as Futiliteit Orchestra on the earlier compilations by Heliophagia, but they surely sound very different.