Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Velehentor - "Sak-Yelga" [2005]

Artist: Velehentor
Title: Сак-Елга
Genre: Dark Ambient, Industrial, Noise
Country: Russia
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Сак-Елга
  2. Гной Земли
Since I have mentioned the projects of Anton "121" Shafarostov (Velehentor, Nuclear Winter, Closing The Eternity) quite a few times on my blog, it'd be natural to post at least one of his works - even if I think he's more of a musical critic rather than a musician.

Velehentor was founded in 1998, initially as a dark ambient side project by the members of Valhalla - one of the very first black metal bands to come from the Urals region (formed in 1996 in Ekaterinburg). A.Shafarostov was the vocalist/keyboardist of Valhalla, and was known under the moniker "Satt" back then. In 1998, Velehentor recorded their first live demo cassette, consisting of 3 untitled track, each over 10 minutes long. Valhalla broke up in 2000, and Velehentor became Anton's solo project after that. While his another solo project, Closing The Eternity, is mostly pure cosmic ambient/drone, Velehentor offers a wider range of genres: from minimalistic dark ambient (mostly earlier releases) to power electronics and industrial noise. The latest release from Velehentor up to date is a short EP called "Ceremonial Death" (2011).

As far as I know, Anton now is a high-ranked official in Ekaterinburg, and isn't very active as a musician anymore - maybe because of a lack of free time, maybe because he doesn't want his public career to be associated with his underground works... who knows? At least he still writes reviews for his webzine "Twilight Shadows", and that's my favourite part of his creative output - I love the sarcastic style of his reviews, as well as his extensive knowledge of underground black metal and music in general. I think he easily could start an avant-garde black metal project on the level of Arcturus or Ved Buens Ende, if he wanted to - but alas, he doesn't like progressive black metal, and most of his releases are quite minimalistic (be it metal, ambient, or noise).

"Саг-Елга" is a bit more varied than Velehentor's early releases, though - it's a mix of dark ambient and industrial/noise, with some spoken word vocals (which makes it one of the very few Velehentor/Closing The Eternity releases that aren't purely instrumental). As opposed to Valhalla, whose music was said to be influenced by "the dark aspects of Urals' nature", this cassette by Velehentor is rather influenсed by Urals' "anti-nature" (if I may say so). The ideology of Velehentor is generally based on the standard "anti-human / anti-life" black metal ideas, and this particular album is inspired by numerous industrial and environmental disasters that happened in the Urals region. The cover photo shows the vicinity of Karabash, a town on the Sak-Yelga river in South Urals which is known for very high levels of pollution caused by a copper smelting plant. From what I've seen on the photos from there, it's literally a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie came true. I also live not far from a very polluted industrial zone (Dzerzhinsk), but it's nothing compared to Karabash:

(the last photo is taken from a gallery which you can view here; photographer - Ilya Yakovlev, model - nich_ya)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vergeltung - "System Overload" [2008]

Artist: Vergeltung
Title: System Overload
Genre: Industrial Black Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2008

Track List:
  1. Alarm
  2. System Overload
  3. Spatial Cold
  4. Arzamas-16
  5. Electromagnetic Impulse
  6. Gravitational Phantom of Deceased Nova
  7. Interstellar Voidblast
  8. Victims of Technology
  9. Stalingrad
  10. Cold War
  11. Werk
One of the most professional and talented Russian industrial metal projects, Vergeltung, was formed in St.Petersburg in 2005 (metal-archives.com says 2002, but it's most likely incorrect). "System Overload" is their debut album, released by CD-Maximum in 2008. It was produced by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Axxis, Krokus, Angra) and recorded in a Swedish studio "Cutting Room", so the quality of production is up to the best Western European standards. The music of Vergeltung is quite complex (of course not to the extent of causing a sensory overload, but it isn't "easy listening" either), so even the most demanding fans of avant-garde/industrial metal probably won't be disappointed.

Out of 9 tracks prestented on there (+ a short intro and a lengthy noisy outro, which is pretty much a filler track), my favourites are "Stalingrad" and "System Overload". Most of the tracks are instrumental, since the band doesn't have a proper vocalist - although there are some distorted vocals (or more like recitation) performed by their keyboardist. All the lyrics were witten by 121 (a member of Velehentor, Nuclear Winter, Closing The Eternity and several other projects, and a cult personality in Russian industrial & extreme metal underground). As you can guess from the song names, the main themes of this album are quite natural for a Russian industrial metal project: 2nd World War, the Cold War, the USSR's technological advances and the exploration of space. As it was stated by the band members themselves: "...social collapse, civilization's demise, global war and universal cataclysm; humanity's self destruction and non-existence - all that shape the concept of VERGELTUNG's work. The very name of the band embodies the cruel truth about the technology progress driven by the development of arms that bring mass destruction and death. It's not a secret that first rockets were built not to explore space and travel to the moon but rather to attack England and the US".

They've released a follow-up album, titled "Exploration of Space", in 2012, but it isn't as good as their debut. It isn't easy to buy "System Overload" on CD, and it isn't available on bandcamp either, so I hope it'd be OK to post it here: