Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tenochtitlan - "Tezcatl" [2007]

Artist: Tenochtitlan
Title: Tezcatl
Genre: Industrial Folk/Doom Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2007

Track List:
  1. Nemiliztli & Miquiztli
  2. Teokalli
  3. Ix Chel
  4. Печаль Тонатиу
  5. Fatal Xihupohualli
  6. Lament Ol'antay
  7. Kal'Yal'Yapi
  8. Inti Raymi
  9. Haa-Ma Chah'-Been-Tzil
  10. Повелитель Майяпана
  11. Xayacatl
  12. Ayhara killa
  13. Quetzali Dance
  14. Mihtohtli Citlalin
  15. Падение Ахау Ягуара
  16. Chanin Tiqsimuyu
  17. Tutamantan
  18. Icxiohtli
  19. Aymarkayi
  20. 2012
I already have mentioned Tenochtitlan in the context of Senmuth's numerous side projects, but, in my opinion, this album deserves a separate entry. Unlike Senmuth's solo albums, which are mostly inspired by the ancient history of Egypt, Tenochtitlan is focused solely on the culture and history of pre-Colombian Central America. It's not easy to find musicians interested in this particular topic enough to form a band, even in a city as large as Moscow, so all the members of Tenochtilan live in different cities far away from each others, and coordinate their work via internet.

This album is very original; at least I can't think of any other band which sounds like this. Yeah, I know of Yaotl Mictlan and some other Mexican "pre-Hispanic metal" bands, but they all play more or less folk-influenced black metal. On the other hand, the music of Tenochtilan is based on the same kind of industrial/doom metal which can be found on Senmuth's solo works, with a healthy dose of folk (of course they don't claim it to be the authentic Mesoamerican folk music... but still). The vocals are highly diverse, from growls, to clean (male & female) voice. Same can be said for the languages they're singing in: the lyrics are mostly in Russian, but Mayan, Aztec (Nahuatl), and Quechua languages are also used. To my shame, I'm not very familiar with the history of the Aztec Empire, so I can't comment on the historical accuracy of these lyrics (for instance, I'm not sure if the use of the word "legion" therein is justified - since it comes from the Roman Empire, not Aztec). The quality of production isn't excellent, yet still quite good.

If you found this album interesting, there are 3 more full-length releases by Tenochtitlan, but they aren't as rich musically as this one. The latest album ("Сотворение Мира", 2012), however, is better produced than the rest, and more influenced by doom metal, so I think it's their second best release after "Tezcatl".

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Senmuth - "ΑiΣΘΗΣΙΣ INTEGRA" [2014]

Artist: Senmuth
Genre: Ambient, Industrial, Ethnic
Country: Russia
Year: 2014

Track List:
  2. Roman Road
  3. In Garganta Del Diablo
  4. The Rustle Of The Petrified Forest
  5. Mahabalipuram
  6. Lament Integra
  7. Iguazu Falls Dreams
  8. Merops Orientalis Cleopatra
  9. The Two Ladies, Divine Of Body
Speaking of industrial metal with folk/ethnic elements, there's another project of this kind which was already mentioned on my blog a few times before. Senmuth is an one-man project started in 2004 by Valery Av., an extremely prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist from Moscow, whose main source of inspiration was (and still is) everything that has to do with the Ancient Egypt. He's sometimes seen as a Russian counterpart to Muslimgauze, since both projects have VERY vast discographies, and extensively use oriental motives in their music. However, unlike Muslimgauze, Senmuth doesn't have any apparent political agenda. According to his own words, his music is indended for "educated, socially active and intellectual development of young and mature individuals who know how to conduct self-identity and criticism surrounding reality, capable of resisting the imposed priorities and the impact of the media".

"Aisthesis Integra" was released in February 2014, shortly before Senmuth decided to put his project on hold due to serious health issues (right now he's back on track, but I haven't listened to any of his newest releases yet). It's pretty representative of his music in general, except maybe for his earliy industrial/doom metal works. This album is entirely instrumental (just like the majority of his releases) and consists mostly of ethno/ambient with some "heavier" parts. The last track - "The Two Ladies, Divine Of Body" - is the longest on the whole album, and represents the whole diversity of styles on there.

The problem with Senmuth's music is that he releases quite a lot of it (about a dozen of albums per year), which makes a lot of his works too lengthy and forgettable - maybe good as a soundtrack to some movie about ancient mysteries or exotic lands, but a bit dull for a stand-alone work. Anyway, if you're interested, you should feel free to check out Senmuth's full discography on his official site. If you want to start from something that sounds similar to "Aisthesis Integra" and has an "oriental" feel to it - I'd recommend "Madinat al-Mayyit". Want some cosmic ambient? "RXG-242-11", "Exouniverse" and "Expanding Architecture" are quite fine. A mix of industrial metal and folk? Check out "Neocortex". You might also like "Bark of Ra" or "Hexeractime" (which are among the most popular works of Senmuth), or "Kemet High Tech" (the album which I started listening to Senmuth from). Either way, it's worth to give "Aisthesis Integra" (or at least its closing track) a listen, and after that it's up for you to decide if you want to further explore Senmuth's huge discography. Senmuth also has a "Mesoamerican folk metal" side project called Tenochtitlan, which is very interesting too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gire - s/t [2007]

Artist: Gire
Title: Gire
Genre: Industrial Metal, Avant-Garde Metal
Country: Hungary
Year: 2007

Track List:
  1. Zöld zivatar
  2. Aranyhajnal
  3. Hét madár
  4. Éjmély
  5. Az őzek futása
  6. Törjön testünk!
  7. Bábel
  8. Eocén expressz
  9. Nyártáj
  10. Trans Express
  11. Nádak, erek
After listening to the whole Gire discography, I can safely say they were one of the best Hungarian metal bands ever. They already were mentioned on my blog in connection with Thy Catafalque, the other project by Tamás Kátai which is industrial/avant-garde metal too, but has roots in black metal (Gire's music is based mostly on death metal, but I don't think they fit in any particular genre). The early Gire demos from the late 90s ("On dist.", "Energire") are more or less regular death/thrash metal, yet they already were innovative enough to expect something big in the future.

Here you have it: the one and only full-length release from Gire, mostly consisting of re-recorded demo tracks from the 1st half of 2000s. Nearly every song on this album is great, it really sounds more like a "best of" compilation rather than an ordinary album (which actually makes sense, since it includes only the best tracks composed by Gire during 1995-2007). Another pecular feature of this album is that it contains a lot of folk elements, which isn't very typical for industrial metal. Unfortunately, Gire doesn't exist any more - they have split up shorly after this release came out, due to Zoltán Kónya's lack of motivation, and the relocation of other two members to Scotland. That said, they definitely have left their mark in the history of Hungarian avant-garde music, and this album is well-deserving its 1st place in Hungarian Metal Awards 2007 chart. By all accounts, Gire were an unique band, but if you liked them, there's a probability that you'll like Guilthee and Watch My Dying as well.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Moon And The Nightspirit - "Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold" [2005]

Artist: The Moon And The Nightspirit
Title: Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold
Genre: Neofolk, Ethereal
Country: Hungary
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Égi Táltos
  2. Lullaby (The Final Gyre of Suns)
  3. Beloved Enchantress
  4. The Secret Path
  5. In Gardens of Worlds Undreamt
  6. Holdanyánk
  7. Echo of Atlantis
  8. Pagan
  9. Of Dreams Forgotten & Fables Untold
Here's a band that quite similar (both musically and conceptually) to Romowe Rikoito, but comes from a different cultural background. The Moon And The Nightspirit is a pagan folk duo that was formed in 2003 by Ágnes Tóth and Mihály Szabó. Their sound is mostly based on medieval Hungarian folk music, but they're also interested in traditional music of other Turanic countries (i.e. Mongolia). "Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold" is an excellent release, especially for a debut album. They've released 3 more albums since then, which all are very good too, but the music on them isn't as accessible for an average listener as on this one. "Of Dreams Forgotten And Fables Untold" is also the only their album where they sing mostly in English (7 tracks out of 9; their other albums are entirely in Hungarian). As far as I know, their new (5th) album is expected to be released within next two weeks, hope it'll turn out to be no worse than the previous ones.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Romowe Rikoito - "Austradeiwa" [2005]

Artist: Romowe Rikoito
Title: Āustradēiwa
Genre: Neofolk, Neoclassical
Country: Baltic Lands
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Etbaudisna
  2. The Quest
  3. The Rose and the Cross
  4. A Sea-Spell
  5. Song Of Proserpine
  6. Blueberry Song
  7. Artémis
  8. Austras Swaikstan
Romowe Rikoito, formed in 1995, are the pioneers of post-Soviet dark folk scene (which is and always was quite small), along with Neutral. If I'm not mistaken, they're originally from Kaliningrad, but have strong ties with Lithuania, and prefer to call their location just "East Prussia" or "Baltic Lands". Everything they've composed sounds quite beautiful, but I personally find their first two albums a bit boring. "Austradeiwa" is their 3rd album, which I consider to be their best (even though it has some boring parts too - but what album hasn't?) In particular, "Austras Swaikstan" is one of the best neofolk compositions I've ever heard.

The most interesting part of this album is a couple of tracks with lyrics in Old Prussian language ("Austras Swaikstan" and the opening track). To my knowledge, the only other band to sing in Prussian was Kūlgrinda (on the album "Prūsų Giesmės"), but their music is authentic Lithuanian folk which is much harder to get into than Romowe Rikoito's neofolk

As it's evident from my blog, I listen to a lot of music with lyrics in exotic languages, but RR are one of the few bands that really managed to surprise me. In fact, my only thought during my first listening to "Austras Swaikstan" was: "Wait... what language is it?!" If you're interested what they're singing about in that song, here's an English translation of the lyrics (can't guarantee its accuracy, though):

"I live as if I just died. No blood in my veins, but darkness. I'm not from here, embodied outcast, a stranger to everybody, the one who does not belong to anyone in the world. I was looking for access to the utopias and found solace only in the Apocalypse. Every minute I'm covered with one thing: a lost paradise. How would I live, what would I do without these clouds? The brightest time of my life is when I'm looking at them. Melancholy is a longing for another world. Although I never knew what kind of world it is. Fatal melodious emptiness in every cell of the body - it is melancholy. My places, my homeland is the non-existence, which, according to the mystics, was found before God. My constant passion are forgotten gods and empty sanctuaries. The collapse of my grandfathers and great grandfathers I bear in blood, that absorbed all these fragments. Dark cloudy sky looks as if my consciousness personifies the firmament. We all live in a longing for death, and wait for the light the dawn."