Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019!

Happy new 2019 year to all my readers! I didn't listen to that much music in 2018 and haven't wrote that many reviews because I had a lot of other stuff going on in my life, but I hope you still enjoy reading my blog. 2018 was a relatively good year for me compared to the previous few years, and hopefully 2019 would be even better.

I have several insteresting projects to work on in the coming year, some of which probably would be announced here shortly. Wish me luck! And now, have a Christmas/New Year photo of the beautiful and talented Justine Daaé, the vocalist of Elyose:

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Elyose - "Ipso Facto" [2015]

Artist: Elyose
Title: Ipso Facto
Genre: Gothic Metal, Electro Metal
Country: France
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Fragrances
  2. Femme De Verre
  3. De Guerre Lasse
  4. L'Animal-aimé
  5. Plus qu'Humain (feat. Florent Jannier)
  6. Chronocide
  7. Mon Charme
  8. Rédemption
  9. Pour Un Écu
  10. Droit Dans Les Yeux
  11. Contretemps
As you know, I usually don't listen to Francophone music that much (with some notable exceptions like Amesoeurs or Paris Violence), but Elyose managed to pleasantly surprise me, even if I can't call this album a masterpiece. I think this review describes it quite well:
"When it comes to classifications as "modern electro metal" or "electro gothic metal" and similar descriptions, I'm always a bit suspicious, and that's the thing with this French outfit named Elyose. I must admit that I wasn't familiar with this name before the release of this album, even though they were formed in 2009 and since then released one EP and one album. Ipso Facto is their sophomore full-lenght and if we believe to their words, it's heavier and more focused on energy than were their previous releases. It's interesting to see that the main member and composer here is their attractive vocalist Justine Daaé, and not only that she's good looking, the girl is also trained classical vocalist and she proves that on every single track up here. Well, like in many cases before, even though the quality of music on Ipso Facto is above average, it somehow doesn't have enough of that little something to reach a bit higher and most of the time it just sounds too mellow. Let me explain... >>>"
Musically, it falls in the broad category of "female-fronted metal" with a lot of electronics, but I wouldn't call it "industrial metal" as some reviewers did. However, some of their tracks are fairly close to it, such as "Plus Qu'Human", which is undoubtedly the best piece off this album:

It features dual male/female vocals of the "beauty vs. the beast" style (featuring Florent Jannier of Arkan), which the reviewer above didn't like, but for me it sounds pretty good. The rest of "Ipso Facto" isn't as memorable, yet it shows a lot of professionalism and devoution, and represents Elyose as one of the most interesting lesser-known female fronted metal bands to appear in the last decade. Yeah, there were quite a lot of them, but Elyose really stand out from the rest, not in the least due to the interesting keyboard work which no doubt would appeal to the fans of industrial/"futuristic" kind of metal. Singing in French adds their music a lot of charm too, and hopefully it wouldn't prevent them for being better known outside their hone country.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Audiostench - "War of the Stars" [1991]

Artist: Audiostench
Title: War of the Stars
Genre: Noise
Country: Netherlands
Release date: 1991

Track List:
  1. Final Future (intro)
  2. Phase 1: Megabyte Mayhem
  3. Phase 2: On The Planet Of Radiation
  4. Phase 3: Darth Vader
  5. Phase 4: The Future Of The 20's
I've accidentally downloaded this really obscure release a long time ago from DC++, but lost it along with all the content of one of my hard drives 4 years ago and forgot about it until stumbling upon it on Youtube (again by accident). While I couldn't find much info about this project (beside it being a short-lived one created in June 1990 by some Star Wars nerd Winston Kamstra from Hoorn, Netherlands), something about Audiostench's one and only release is quite special and makes it stand out of the sea of obscure bedroom noise releases.

The whole release is under 5 minutes long, and consists of a short ambient intro and a longer noise track broken up into 4 "phases". It'd best described as a chaotic mix of samples (siren sounds etc.) with a background of harsh noise going through the whole track. Objectively there's not much to listen to, but, interestingly, it does manage to convey the futuristic/dystopian atmosphere that's implied by the track names.

Bottom note: it was physically released as a side A of a split w/ with another Dutch blackened noisecore project called Satanic Death. All their releases are available off Bandcamp, but I think their name is enough to figure out that you probably won't lose much by not listening to their stuff :) Still better than the best known Dutch noise project from that era, though (yes, I'm talking about the infamous Apator).

    Friday, December 7, 2018

    Baron Ungern - "Grandkhaan" [1999]

    Artist: Барон Унгерн
    Title: Grandkhaan
    Genre: Black Metal
    Country: Mongolia
    Release date: 1999

    Track List:
    1. Under the Flame of Victory
    2. Conqueror of Worlds
    Shaitan Akbar, a small label specialized in obscure black metal (in particular, I found out about Kurgan thanks to them), has unearthed an EP that's claimed to be the very first black metal release from Mongolia:

    "3-men horde Baron Ungern from Kharkhorin recorded this ravishing piece of grim war metal back in the dark ages of 1999. Sound quality of their EP is actually just shit, but considering the fact that is was recorded in the desolate steppe wastelands of Mongolia with poor equipment it is a highly respectable release nevertheless.
    Baron Roman fon Ungern-Šternberg was a german warlord who ruled over Mongolia in 1920-1921 as cruel tyrant"

    While the whole story may look like hoax (I remember a very funny blog from mid-2000s that was styled as a diary of a member of fictional Mongolian black metal band - use Google Translate if you're interested), and the story of Ungern-Sternberg has fascinated many people outside Mongolia (even Paris Violence have recorded a song about him!), the possibility of a black metal band existing in a small Mongolian town in 1999 isn't completely unbelievable, considering that Baigaliin Haranhui were formed the same year. The quality of recording on "Grandkhaan" is reasonably low, but I definitely have heard much worse.

    Saturday, December 1, 2018

    Second to Sun - "The Walk" [2018]

    Artist: Second To Sun
    Title: The Walk
    Genre: Post-Black Metal, Groove Metal
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2018

    Track List:
    1. We Are Not Alone
    2. Black Lines
    3. Home
    4. From Outer Space
    5. The Train 1702
    6. The Owls
    7. New World Order
    8. To Live
    9. We Are Alone
    The next album from Second To Sun, the band that most of my readers are already well familiar with, has a rather boring name, but fortunately, the concept behind the music isn't boring at all. Just like their previous albums, "The Walk" is inspried by various urban legends and pagan mythology (mostly Finno-Ugric paganism). Interestingly, in "Black Lines" they even reference the Finno-Ugric (and Tungusic) roots of V. Kandinsky, the pioneer of abstract art. When it comes to music, it's less based in black metal than two preceding releases, being described as a mix of Pantera, Lustre and Mudvayne (pretty strange combination, I agree). Just like their previous release ("The Black"), this album is available in both instrumental and vocal editions. I decided to post the instrumental one here, because S2S initially were supposed to be a purely instrumental band playing music which could fit as a soundtrack to a horror movie (this album, in particular, was described as "cinematic metal" on their Bandcamp).

    Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    Thee Maldoror Kollective - "New Era Viral Order" [2002]

    Artist: Thee Maldoror Kollective
    Title: New Era Viral Order (Dogma Slaughterhouse and the Children of Anaemia)
    Genre: Industrial Metal
    Country: Italy
    Release date: 2002

    Track List:
    1. Xaos DNA Released
    2. Haemorrhage Transmission
    3. Drain-Wound-Cosmosis (Iera Porneusis)
    4. Rhythmagick Disturbance (Embodiment Cell)
    5. La Flamme Vivant
    6. Rigid Pulse Starfire (93)
    7. The Toxium Discipline (Null Industries)
    8. Slaughter Mass 2002
    9. Epidemic Noise Age (Remix by MZ.412)
    Along with Aborym, Thee Maldoror Kollective were one of the most influental industrial black metal bands to come out of the Italian scene during the early 2000s. Their history is quite lengthy, starting in the early 90s (if not late 90s) under the name Inquisitor. In 1991, they changed name to Funeral Fog, and in 1997 - to Maldoror. As Maldoror, they released several black metal demos and two full-length albums, out of which I'd recommend "In Saturn Mystique" - quite interesting "cosmic" black metal, somewhat reminding me of "Nexus Polaris" by Covenant. Right now they're playing a kind of avant-garde electronica/jazz that has very little to do with any metal, and prefer to call themselves simply TMK, or Textbook of Modern Karate.

    "New Era Viral Order", however, is definitely metal, albeit with large amounts of avan-garde electronic sound thrown in (which is the reason why it got a rather low score on This album is often compared to "With No Human Intervention" by Aborym (which was also released on Code666), but as for me, TMK should be rather compared to Italian avant-garde doom metal bands, like Void of Silence or Ensoph. However, the best description of this album I've seen so far was "That's how Zyklon-B would sound if they started to play industrial metal". Anyway, it definitely wouldn't disappoint any lover of really cold and "robotic" extreme music, that's enough avant-garde and complex yet still relatively easy to listen to - in other words, industrial metal done the way it should be :) My personal favourites are "Xaos DNA Released" and "Rigid Pulse Starfire". TMK's Bandcamp page has only the abridged version of this album, so I'd post the complete version in the video below:

    Thursday, November 1, 2018

    Void of Silence - "The Sky Over" [2018]

    Artist: Void of Silence
    Title: The Sky Over
    Genre: Atmospheric Doom Metal, Dark Ambient
    Country: Italy
    Release date: 2018

    Track List:
    1. The Void Beyond
    2. Abeona (or quietly gone in a hiatus)
    3. The Sky Over
    4. Adeona (or surfaced as resonant thougths)
    5. Farthest Shores
    6. White Light Horizon
    Here's another album from Void of Silence, released this summer after a long hiatus. It's less avant-garde than their early works, featuring mostly lengthy doom metal compositions with clean vocals and lots of keyboards, and short ambient interludes. Musically, the whole thing sounds as if Puissance decided to start playing doom metal, and the vocals reminds me of Arcturus. It's certainly a more mature release than their early stuff, despite it being less complex and eclectic.

    "The concept behind this record both musically and lyrically, in the words of mastermind Riccardo Conforti, “is focused on the great human achievements of the early twentieth century, and the fiery courage of those few men whose bravery led them to set their limits far beyond humanity’s fragile horizons. Aviators and their zeppelins, the great polar expeditions, the epic journey of the Airship “Italia” led by Umberto Nobile and the tragedy of the Red Tent. The unbelievable resilience of Salomon August Andrée and his men, who traveled through the merciless vastness of the Pack, without ever turning back. The cold and blinding light that reverberates from the glacial regions as the only guidance that accompanied them until the end, is what we tried to portray. This is our tribute to them.”"

    Wednesday, October 31, 2018

    Void of Silence - "Criteria ov 666" [2002]

    Artist: Void of Silence
    Title: Criteria ov 666
    Genre: Funeral Doom Metal, Industrial Metal
    Country: Italy
    Release date: 2002

    Track List:
    1. Opus I. Velocity. Electricity. TV Necro
    2. Opus II. With No Half-Measure
    3. Opus III. Anthem for Doomed Youth
    4. Opus IV. Anger
    5. Opus V. The Ultimate Supreme Intelligence
    6. Opus VI. Nothing. Immortal
    7. Opus VII. Victory!
    8. Opus VIII. Universal Separation
    9. Opus IX. XTC-Elevation-Trip
    "Void of Silence is an Industrial/ Symphonic doom metal band from Italy, formed in 1999 by Riccardo Conforti and Ivan Zara. They combine the pace, distortion, and bass-heaviness of funeral doom metal with the grim atmosphere of dark ambient music and cinematic soundtrack..."

    "Criteria ov 666" is one of the many albums I've bought around a decade ago when I had a chance (remember, underground music was much less available to me back then). While its name suggests it to be some sub-par black metal (and, in fact, it features a member of a very well-known industrial black metal band Aborym on vocals), it's actually a quite interesting mix of funeral doom metal and martial industrial. While "Csejthe" by Mordor is made from basically the same ingredients, "Criteria ov 666" sounds quite different from it. Surely it isn't an album for everyday listening, yet it's a very impressive work notable for its dystopian horror atmosphere. 

    Tuesday, September 11, 2018

    Bad Sector - "Dolmen Factory" [1999]

    Artist: Bad Sector
    Title: Dolmen Factory
    Genre: Dark Ambient, Noise
    Country: Italy
    Release date: 1999

    Track List:
    1. Alex 1964
    2. Ivan 1810
    3. Carla 1977
    4. Alvin 1953
    5. Exit A
    6. Nara 1630
    7. Pierre 1902
    8. Brigitte 1872
    9. Ikhana 1402
    10. Exit B
    11. Max 1987 
    Since this album was mentioned in my previous entry, I decided to post it as well, because I feel that at least one album by Bad Sector definitely should be on my blog. The works by Massimo Magrini are well-known and loved here, and it's safe to say that he has inspired quite a lot of industrial and ambient musicians from the ex-USSR countries. Magrini is a professional physics researcher specialized in analog & digital signal processing, which heavily reflects on his music, which best can be described as an experimental collage of sounds of various origins (ritual music samples, industrial noises, cosmic noises etc.) This particular album is based on the cardiac echo sounds, and the each track on it is supposed to describe one personal "universe", which disappears with the death of a person it's associated with.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2018

    N-616 - "[ex​-​Planet Earth]" [2005]

    Artist: N-616
    Title: [ex​-​Planet Earth]
    Genre: EBM, Dark Electro
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2005

    Track List:
    1. Bunker#616
    2. Production
    3. Monsters
    4. Front Line
    5. Consumption
    6. Last Conflict
    7. Civilization Of The Dawn
    8. Koniec
    N-616 were formed in 2000 in Stavropol (according to other sources - in St.Petersburg) initially as a dark ambient / classical industrial project. After releasing their first demo "Snow", they incorporated more darkwave & EBM elements into their music on their second demo "Cold". Later on, these demos were released as a full-length album "Cold & Snow", which was released on Folvork Prods., a label that many readers of my blog probably are already familiar with. They continued going to the electro-industrial direction on their subsequent releases, "Electro Paradigm of Futurism", "Futurepolis", and this one, which came out in 2004 along with the EP "Winter World III". After that, the project went on a hiatus for more than a decade, but now they're active again, although they're better known for their other project called Eonic (new age / ambient).

    While "[ex​-​Planet Earth]" might be not very interesting from the viewpoint of today's listener, and there's nothing particularly original or innovative, it was a groundbreaking release on the Russian industrial scene of the 2000s, where very few bands were played in this style before (the "boom" of harsh EBM / dark electro happened a couple years later). It also features design by D.I.Abigor (I used to read the blog of this guy several years ago), who's also responsible for the design of "Dolmen Factory" by Bad Sector and several albums by Velehentor.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2018

    Июльские Дни - "Колокол" [2016]

    Artist: Июльские Дни
    Title: Колокол
    Genre: Post-Punk
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2016

    Track List:
    1. Не для меня
    2. Крутится-вертится
    3. Озеро и остров
    4. По ком звонит колокол
    Here's probably the best known post-punk band from my city, named after the July Days of 1917 in Petrograd a/k/a St.Petersburg (by a coincidence, I've traveled there just several days ago, right on the 101st anniversary of these events). "Колокол" ("The Bell"; you can guess the translation by just looking at the cover, though) is their latest EP up to date, released in late 1916, and arguably the best. With all honestly, I think if there's one subgenre of rock where the Russian scene is good at, then it's post-punk/coldwave:

    Saturday, July 7, 2018

    Монумент Страха - s/t [1989]

    Artist: Монумент Страха
    Title: Монумент Страха
    Genre: Post-Punk, Noise Rock
    Country: USSR
    Release date: 1989

    Track List:
    1. Букеты Роз
    2. Микробы
    3. Ликует Слава В Огне Заката
    4. Грусть - Источник Мечты
    5. Рождество
    6. Смерть Слепых
    7. Памяти Я.К. 
    8. Микробы (bonus 1990)
    9. Смерть Слепых (bonus 1990)
    10. Памяти Я.К. (bonus 1990)
    Finally, I found the debut self-titled release of this very obscure Soviet post-punk/industrial rock band (perhaps one of the very first ones), whose second album I've posted here about an year ago. It was re-released on cassette (30 copies) by Ultra Records in 2009, and later on CD along with their 2nd album.

    Compared to their second album, it's more straightforward post-punk with less distorted vocals, but the fans of early industrial/noise rock in the vein of Swans should enjoy this one too. Overall, both their sound and aesthetics were exactly what's expected from an obscure industrial/noise rock band from the late 80s, and it's sometimes hard to believe that it was recorded in Leningrad and not in London or New York. I'm still searching for any releases of their side project called Mechanical Ballet (if there were any at all).

    Дубль-1 - s/t EP [1986]

    Artist: Дубль-1
    Title: Дубль-1 (demo EP)
    Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
    Country: USSR
    Year: 1986

    Track List:
    1. Дни, подстерегающие нас
    2. Суббота
    3. Ворон-викинг
    4. Страшный век
    5. Спи, дитя
    Among the bands featured on this compilation, there's one female-fronted band (one of the very few ones at that time) called Markiza (not to be confused with Markize!), which was considerably popular among Soviet metal fans during the late 80s, yet is largely forgotten by now. Here's their even more obscure predecessor, whose music I personally like better.

    Both bands were started by Sergey Sokolov, who began his career of a professional musician in 1970, and has played guitar in many "prestigious" pop/rock bands during the 70s. By the end of 1978, he and his wife Elena decided to record a hard rock album. They did have recorded a full-length album by 1982 (which wasn't officially released), but it wasn't particularly "hard" when it comes to sound. After one more failed pop/rock project, they again decided to start a hard rock band in early 1985. Their first live performance for a big audience took place at the festival "Rock Panorama '86" - the very first official rock festival held in Moscow during 4-8 May 1986. Again, they haven't played anything particularly "hard" there - their program consisted solely of pop-rock, although of a rather good kind:

    While they haven't particularly impressed the public with their sound, Elena did cause a scandal by demonstratively wearing a very short skirt on stage - nothing special in today's times, but quite provocative back then. Yet that performance helped them to get more recognition, and, after some line-up changes, they officially hired by the Moscow regional philharmonic society. This enabled them to record their one and only hard rock EP, which is presented here. However, the next 1987 year wasn't good for them - Elena and Sergey have divorced, and in the end of the year, they were fired from the philharmonic. Later in 1988, they went on to form a much more successful glam-oriented band Markiza, but that's another story.

    This EP turned out to be surprisingly good, all things considered. Obviously influenced by Lita Ford, Doro Pesch and Lee Aaron, it mostly lies on the blurry boundary between hard rock and traditional heavy metal (+ a ballad in the end of the EP, which is probably the best song on the whole release). The 3rd track can even be half-jokingly considered to be the first viking metal song made in the USSR... or, with all seriousness, probably the first Soviet/Russian metal song with lyrics based on the Norse mythology:

    Saturday, June 30, 2018

    V/A - "Monsters of Rock USSR" [1986-1993]

    Artist: (various)
    Title: Monsters of Rock USSR
    Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Glam Rock
    Country: USSR
    Year: 1986-93

    Track List:
    1. Диалог - Красный рок
    2. Статус - Лешаки
    3. Чёрный кофе - Владимирская Русь
    4. Тяжёлый день - Берегись жала
    5. Коррозия металла - Дьявол здесь
    6. Железный поток - Эмбрион
    7. Э.С.Т. - 30 ХГСА
    8. Маркиза - 220 вольт
    9. Мастер - Воля и разум
    10. Союз - Племена
    11. Чёрный обелиск - Стена
    12. Круиз - Дальний свет
    13. Демарш - Свободная любовь
    14. Рондо - Богиня секса
    15. Джокер - Магия
    16. Холостой выстрел - Тотальный исход
    1. Август - Демон
    2. Ария - Герой асфальта
    3. Фронт - Мы победим
    4. Парк Горького - Volga Boatman
    This compilation was made by a music journalist Denis Boyarinov, originally including 16 tracks and released under the title "Devil Is Here: Soviet Halloween Rock". Later on, the owner of this blog decided to extend it a bit. In its final form, it contains 20 tracks by various Soviet metal bands, both well-known and obscure.

    Of course, it should be mentioned that some of the bands on there were not that good, and are deservedly forgotten by now. For instance, glam rock bands like Rondo became popular mostly due to the use of the word "sex" in their lyrics (yes, it was considered quite scandalous at the time), and their provocative stage looks:

    A special case is Korrozia Metalla, who never were a good band by any means, yet they successfully made a career of a comedy/shock rock band, and their frontman now enjoys a living meme status. Some of the better known bands on there, such as Aria and Black Coffee, are now considered extremely uncool to listen to by metal elitists, but 30 years back they enjoyed an unquestionable cult status among "rebellious" Soviet teenagers. In particular, the debut album of Black Coffee was sold in more than a million copies, largely because it was the only metal album available in stores in most smaller towns around 1988:

    Some tracks on this compilation are from the post-Soviet period (1992-93), but the overwhelming majority of them are from 1988-91, when the public interest in metal was at its peak in the USSR (fun fact: the "Monsters of Rock" festival held near Moscow in 1991, featuring Metallica, Pantera and AC/DC, is now considered one of the largest rock/metal festivals in history - according to some estimates, the number of attendees was over 1.5 million!). The metal scene first appeared in the Soviet Union during the summer of 1984 (initually consisting mostly of children of diplomats and other people who was able to travel to the Western Bloc countries), broke into mainstream around 1987-1988, and became largely dead by 1995 (the modern Russian metal scene is a different story).

    Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    Asparez - "Anathema" [1990]

    Artist: Asparez
    Title: Anathema
    Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
    Country: Armenian SSR
    Year: 1990

    Track List:
    1. Clearing
    2. Fire & Metal
    3. Sorrow
    4. Crazy Age
    5. Tell Me
    6. White As Black
    7. Untruthful Game
    8. Black Garden
    Asparez were quite possibly the very first Armenian metal band, formed in 1982 and released their first demo in 1985. The demo, however, is now lost, so this album is their one and only available release. It was recorded around 1988, during the times when an ethnic conflict in Armenia and Azerbaijan was already brewing (the song "Black Garden" is dedicated to these events).

    On, I've seen it tagged as "protoSOAD", but as for me, the only things in common between Asparez and SOAD are their "heavy" sound and ethnic Armenian musicians in their line-up. In fact, Asparez are much more similar to another well-known Soviet Armenian metal band, Ayas. I'd recommend both bands to anyone who's looking for obscure old school metal with lyrics in a weird sounding language:

    Sunday, May 27, 2018

    Elay Arson - "Spirit | Death" [2018]

    Artist: Elay Arson
    Title: Spirit | Death
    Genre: Synthwave, Industrial Metal
    Country: USA
    Year: 2018

    Track List:
    1. Sunrise
    2. Tawa
    3. Cheveyo
    4. Masauwu, Fire Keeper
    5. Sussustanako
    6. Masauwu, Skeleton Man
    7. Mescalero Prophecy 
    8. Fifth World Gate (feat. Carbon Killer)
    9. Final Midnight Ride (feat. Ultraboss)
    10. End Times
    I didn't know anything about this project until yesterday, but after taking a brief look at the track list, I guessed that this album is inspired by Native American folklore. Turned out I was right:

    "An intense album inspired by the themes of southwestern Native American stories, deities, subjugation, genocide, and the apocalypse. This work pays homage to the Apache ancestry and childhood Hopi upbringing of band member Daniel Larson."

    While I must admit I don't know an awful lot about the Apache or Hopi cultures, this release is fairly good. It's entirely instrumental (apart from some spoken introduction), and features a mix of synthwave and industrial metal (however, it's still much more "synth" than "metal"):

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    Second To Sun - "The Black" [2018]

    Artist: Second To Sun
    Title: The Black
    Genre: Black/Groove Metal
    Country: Russia
    Year: 2018

    Track List:
    1. Ladoga Master
    2. The Wall
    3. Chokk Kapper
    4. Vasilisa
    5. Region 13
    6. The Fool
    7. Mrakobesie pt. 1: Divine
    8. Mrakobesie pt. 2: Letter
    9. Mrakobesie pt. 3: Hunger
    10. Mrakobesie pt. 4: МК-ULTRA RU
    11. Heaven Sent (Bonus Track)
    Every metal blog I'm reading seems to have reviewed this album by now, so... #MeToo :) This is the re-release of the previous album "Blackbound" by Second to Sun, but with vocals performed by Gleb Sysoev (ex-Deafknife). Deafknife were one of my favourite Russian post-black metal bands, so I had high hopes for this album.

    "The Black" is certainly different from "Blackbound", not only because of the vocals, but also because of its more aggressive approach. Looks like the band finally found the right proportions for their mix of (post-)black and groove metal. The lyrical themes remain usual for S2S: both real life horror stories and the mythological ones taken from the folk tales of the Russian North and the minor Finno-Ugric peoples. The lyrics, however, are the weakest point of this album: they generally appear like they were written by an edgy teenager with little to no poetic skills. While this isn't going to be a big problem for the listeners that aren't Russian speakers, I still wonder why the quality of lyrics is so poor while the project's mastermind is talking a lot about how he strives for the world-class production quality of his music. Anyway, the stories behind the music are fairly interesting. Enjoy:

    Monday, May 21, 2018

    Thy Catafalque - "Geometria" [2018]

    Artist: Thy Catafalque
    Title: Geometria
    Genre: Post-Black Metal
    Country: Hungary / UK (Scotland)
    Release date: 2018

    Track List:
    1. Hajnali csillag
    2. Szamojéd freskó
    3. Töltés
    4. Gőte
    5. Sárember
    6. Hajó
    7. Lágyrész
    8. Sík
    9. Balra a nap
    10. Tenger, tenger
    11. Ének a búzamezőkről
    A new release from my favourite Hungarian musician that now lives in Edinburgh but definitely remains one of the most important figures of the Hungarian avant-garde music scene. This album is even farther from black metal and closer to post-rock than "Meta" and "Sgùrr". While, unlike "Meta" it doesn't have such powerful tracks as "Mezolit", it still contains everything that we love Tamás Kátai's music for. There's also a little surprise for Russian speakers in the middle of the first track :)

    Saturday, May 12, 2018

    Nimrud - "Arratu" [2017]

    Artist: Nimrud
    Title: Arratu
    Genre: Post-Black Metal
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2017

    Track List:
    1. Shurru
    2. Epishtu
    3. Arratu
    4. Sarahu
    5. Ishkur
    6. Gamaru
    The debut release from a very fine 5-piece post-metal collective from Moscow, with lyrics based on the Sumerian creation myths. The band was around since 2010, but for a quite long time, they were known for only one track ("Ishkur"), and one more ("Sarahu") released as a single in 2016. The full-length album, released in late 2017, is also rather short (but quite good anyway):

    Friday, May 11, 2018

    Губернатор - "Рождение Чукотки" [2010]

    Artist: Губернатор
    Title: Рождение Чукотки
    Genre: Folk Rock
    Country: Russia (Chukotka)
    Release date: 2010

    Track List:
    1. Подружки
    2. Лооной
    3. Какомэй
    4. Почему (Колыбельная)
    5. Ночной дежурный
    6. За прошлую вину
    7. Тебе
    8. Лилия
    9. Посмотри-ка
    10. Утро в Снежном
    11. На берегу
    12. Рождение Чукотки
    13. Rock'n'roll instrumental
    14. Белая пастель (DJ Grey Trance Mix)
    First off: it's really hard to find info about this band, mostly because of their highly Google-unfriendly name (really, the only worse idea than naming your band "Governor" is naming it "Ministry"). Some thing about them that are known for sure: they were formed in 2006 in Anadyr, the complete outskirts of the world. So far they're the only rock band to base their music on the folklore of Chukchi, the best known Paleo-Siberian ethnic group who are basically an archetype in popular culture for all ethnic groups of the Siberian Far North.

    Although most if not all of the band members are Russians, their interpretations of Chukchi folk music are considered fairly authentic and have gained them a considerable fan base in their home region. Unfortunately, they aren't well-known outside of it, so finding information about them is a problem. I couldn't find even the cover art for this album, so there's a photo of their lead singer Veronika Oshulik instead.

    Those who aren't familiar with the folk-rock bands that employ throat singing and similar vocal techniques, like Yat-Kha or Altan Urag (both of which were already mentioned on here before), may find the first few tracks on this album quite weird. However, that's how authentic Chukchi shamanic singing sounds like. Here's a video of Veronika performing it solo:

    The rest of the album is more standard blues rock with less ethnic influences, with lyrics mostly in Russian. Not exactly my kind of music, but some of these tracks are quite nice, like this one (in this video, the lyrics are in Chukchi language, but the album version is in Russian):

    Overall, they're a quite unique band and definitely deserve more recognition outside of their home region that they currently have. As far as I know, they're still active and perform live quite often (their biggest success so far was participating in a folk/ethno-rock festival in Italy), although the lineup has changed several times (I've even read that two of their members have died in an accident, but don't know if it's true). They have recorded 3 or 4 albums by now, but looks like that only two were properly released. If I manage to find out more about them (which is difficult due to above reasons), I'll update this post for sure.

    Thursday, May 10, 2018

    Dadhikra - "Vadul Odulnye Karawaalpe (Folktales Of The Yukaghir People)" [2015]

    Artist: Dadhikra
    Title: Vadul Odulnye Karawaalpe (Folktales Of The Yukaghir People)
    Genre: Ritual Ambient, Field Recordings
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2015

    Track List:
    1. Dorbu
    2. Longdol Circular Dance
    3. Loshiyaa, Loshiyaa, Ging, Ging, Ging
    4. Song Of The White Spirits Of The Light Way
    I was browsing the Bandcamp page of one St. Petersburg-based label specialized in underground industrial and noise, and, to my surprise, found this:

    "This work is based on the folktales of small Siberian nation - Yukaghirs. Dadhikra used the recordings of the karawaalpe Yukaghir folktales and traditional musical instruments: paydii, mumżerul, paydunube saal, niedjek chomuolben, čunžia, pukil’, łerkejeŋ, jerejepajdii, jonśe, wanna ajanaaŋ, pukol’urd’źe".

    Since there's not much information about Yukaghir traditional music, apart from some recordings made during USSR times, this release is fairly unique. However, it's not your typical folk music album, and it's not easy to get into (I'd say it fits right in the catalogue of an industrial/noise label). Moreover, there's not much actual music: out of 4 tracks, two are spoken word recitals of folk tales (in Russian, but the words are not always easily decipherable). Overall, I'd recommend it to those who's into ritual music or just seeking something really weird, and if you're searching for more listenable Yukaghir-related material, the pop songs by Irina Duskulova are for you (she was thankful to me by posting her songs on here, by the way).

    And speaking about the Yukaghir culture in general... well, it's considered to be moribund by many, and was considered to be so 100 years ago, yet it's still here and apparently isn't going anywhere (and I surely hope it won't!) There's something about this culture that makes it stand out of the other similar cultures of the Arctic, and some aspects of it seem be really ancient, perhaps going back in time as far as to the Mesolithic. It's also worth being mentioned that Yugaghirs have suprisingly many people with literal talent for such a small-numbered ethnic group, and they even are one of the very few cultures to independently develop a writing system - albeit a very specialized pictographic one (used mostly for writing love letters and letters of respect, as manyYukaghirs are too shy for telling such things openly), but still.

    Wednesday, May 9, 2018

    Subhuman - "III" [2008]

    Artist: Subhuman
    Title: Untitled III
    Genre: Martial Industrial, Ambient
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2008

    "It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is..." (Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front")

    Subhuman was a mysterious project from St. Petersburg that was active from 2004 to 2008, releasing three untitled (but numbered) CD-R albums, one of which is presented here. The project name is apparently an ironic pun on the propaganda term "Der Untermensch". This mini album consists of 5 untitled instrumental tracks that are supposed to be an apolitical martial industrial soundtrack to the human life and death during the 1930-40s. The remastered versions of all three albums are now available on Bandcamp:

    Monday, May 7, 2018

    Hvarna - "Koła Viartańniaŭ" [2010]

    Artist: Hvarna
    Title: Koła Viartańniaŭ
    Genre: Folk, Ambient
    Country: Russia/Belarus
    Release date: 2010

    Track List:
    1. Soŭniejko
    2. Viasna, dzie buvała
    3. Arechavaja Čaša
    4. Poŭnia
    5. Na našym dvary
    6. Ziaziula Myja Sieryja
    7. Pierapiołačka
    8. Za tumanam
    9. Jak siała młada…
    10. Carkoŭka
    11. Vietach
    "HVARNA is a project of Andrus Palauchenia (OSIMIRA, Pragnavit) and musicians from the band "Obereg". Based on the songs and tunes of Kryvia (Belarus), Finno-Ugric nationals and the territory of Russian North, Hvarna is decorated with improvisation play and vocal. The peculiarity and the uniqueness of this project is the intermingling of the two sacred instruments: krivian-lithuania duda and Russian psaltery. Musicians carefully and skillfully combined these two «opposites». It gave the music a special solemnity. HVARNA remains the lyrics intact, but gives them special musical interpretation and retains the magical atmosphere of a sense of the universe of their ancestors.
    Hvarna in Avestan culture is the supreme divine reward, grace, holiness, the gift of fate, charisma, talent. Hvarna enables to move beyond the cycle of our world, to change your own destiny and the destiny of other people and to move to a new level of development.

    Andrus Palauchenia - kryvian-lithuanian duda, vocal, kantele, wind-instruments, percussion.
    Maxim Anukhin - gusli (psaltery), vocal, percussion.
    Yekaterina Yelkina - vocal, percussion.
    Yevgeniy Yablonskiy - keybords, vocal
    Dmitriy Terekhov - percussion" (Bandcamp)

    While this album turned out to be a bit less interesting than I initially thought after reading the description above, I still would recommend it to anyone who's into neofolk, and the bands like Moon Far Away in particular. It's also worth mentioning that while the lyrics are technically in a language that I have never learned, I still understood everything (or, well, almost everything :))

    Tuesday, May 1, 2018

    Шесть Мёртвых Болгар - "Типы Архангельской Губернии" [2010]

    Artist: Шесть Мёртвых Болгар
    Title: Типы Архангельской Губернии
    Genre: Industrial/Noise, Folk
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 2010

    Track List:
    1. Архангельск
    2. Товарищ (Обойду ли я кругом города)
    3. Тет тай сэрми (Четыре моих белолобых оленя)
    4. Зачинайсе, заря утряна
    5. Старичок
    6. Очень скорый поезд
    7. Не’хорэли (Женщина из рода Хорэли)
    8. Голымба
    9. Колыбельная (Бай-бай)
    Six Dead Bulgars are one of the most long-running classic industrial/noise projects from Russia, formed in Arkhangelsk during mid-1990s and having released more than a dozen full-length albums since then. Their general style can be compared to Einsturzende Neubauten, but this particular album stands out of their discography because it consists mostly of remixed folk song of the Russian North. The album was recorded in collaboration with the members of Moon Far Away and the folk singer Ekaterina Zorina. The folk music of the Nenets people (which is obviously different from the Russian folk songs) was also used, particularly in the tracks #3 and #7. The electronic part of the music ranges from ambient to IDM and rhythmic noise. Surely, this is a controversial release which may not meet the taste of some fans of "pure" folk music, yet it's quite unique in terms of sound, being one of the most interesting albums in the band's whole discography:

    Friday, April 27, 2018

    Игорь Чернявский - "Завтра Будет Вчера" [1990]

    Artist: Игорь Чернявский
    Title: Завтра Будет Вчера
    Genre: Ambient, Minimal Synth
    Country: USSR
    Release date: 1990

    Track List:
    1. Я знаю, что ты знаешь, что я знаю...
    2. Дом на набережной
    3. Бегство из Москвы
    4. Заблудившийся трамвай
    5. Над пропастью
    6. Тема 183
    7. Рабы
    8. На лестнице
    9. Hommage
    While not being particularly outstanding, this album is an interesting example of a release containing some elements of classic percussion industrial (especially in the track #4) that was officially released on vinyl in the USSR (by Melodia, 5800 copies). For the most part, however, it's just instrumental ambient / minimal synth. The composer, Igor Chernyavsky, was living in Poland since 1983, where he played in a band called Aya RL and also recorded some electronic music mostly for radio & movie soundtracks. This is his first solo work, recorded in Warsaw in 1988. The release notes describe it as a mix between "so-called post-industrial rock", "Russian urban romance songs" and the music of Central Asia, but the music itself is not as complex as you might think after reading such a description. Get it here, or listen to it on Youtube:

    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    Универсальная Система - "Стена" [1994]

    Artist: Универсальная Система
    Title: Стена
    Genre: Synthpop, Darkwave
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 1994

    Track List:
    1. Стена
    2. Шабаш ведьм
    3. Безумные танцы
    4. Универсальный солдат
    5. Механофония
    6. Ностальгия
    7. Лица мёртвых
    8. Последний тост
    Another interesting obscure find from the early electronic scene in western Siberia - an undeservedly forgotten dark synthpop album recorded in mid-1990s in Novosibirsk. Универсальная Система (Universal System) was a relatively short-lived (for an year or slightly more) by the members of two underground techno projects from Khabarovsk and Novosibirsk. They were inspired by such bands as Bio, Arrival, Jumprava (80s Latvian synthpop) and, of course, Depeche Mode. However, their sound was much darker (in comparison to many other DM clones of that time), bordering on darkwave. Same can be said about their lyrics, which featured dystopian/sci-fi/"industrial" and gothic horror themes. Overall, this album may be not a masterpiece (in particular, the vocals could be better), yet it still has some great moments, i.e. tracks #5 and #8:

    Sunday, April 22, 2018

    Автомат DL-440 - "Жить в огне" [1989]

    Artist: Автомат DL-440
    Title: Жить в огне
    Genre: Techno, Old School EBM
    Country: USSR
    Release date: 1989

    Track List:
    1. С тобой
    2. Первый
    3. Жить в огне
    4. Рейтар
    5. Сто лет
    6. Помни
    7. Конвой
    8. Боль
    9. Ещё
    10. Пластик
    Just look what I've found - a very rare example of early Soviet EBM, recorded in 1989 in Western Siberia using a tape recorder and a primitive Yamaha computer. The band was a duo consisting of Pavel Dudin (vocals & lyrics) and Andrei Udot (music), former members of a band called "The Hedgehogs" (no idea what sort of a band it was). Initially they were recording their stuff at home, but this album was recorded at a club where they were working at that time. Their dream was to perform on stage in Moscow wearing Robocop costumes, but unfortunately, the band broke up due to an internal conflict after an year or two of existence, without gaining any recognition.

    Despite the (expectedly) poor quality of recording, their one and only tape is very interesting, and suprisingly similar to the Western EBM scene of that time, although I seriously doubt they were aware of this term (as all the electronic music of this sort was lumped into the "techno" category). The lyrics are said to be about "fantastic heroic deeds", which is fairly in line with the militaristic image of the early EBM bands as well. Overall, this release is a very valuable historical document at the very least, and definitely shouldn't be missed:

    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    Tom Dissevelt - "Fantasy in Orbit" [1963]

    Artist: Tom Dissevelt
    Title: Fantasy In Orbit: An Astronaut's Impressions While Orbiting The Earth
    Genre: Experimental Electronic, Musique Concrete
    Country: Netherlands
    Release date: 1963

    Track List:
    1. Ignition
    2. Atlantic
    3. Spearhead
    4. Zanzi
    5. Anchor Chains
    6. Tropicolour
    7. Gamelan
    8. Woomerangs
    9. Waltzing Matilda
    10. Pacific Dawn
    11. Gold And Lead
    12. Mexican Mirror
    13. Seconds To Eternity
    14. Re-Entry
    Tom Dissevelt was a Dutch composer and jazz musician who, however, is better known for his experiments with electronic music between 1956 and 1963. His works have influenced David Bowie and the electronic music composers of the Berlin school later on. I've seen his music being tagged on as "heard from a spaceship" - but it isn't particularly similar to what is called "cosmic ambient" nowaday, and rather comparable to the early electronic/noise works of Yuri Morozov. Anyway, "Fantasy in Orbit" is clearly underrated and way ahead of its time (early 60s when electronic music scene was still in an embryonal state):

    Wednesday, April 11, 2018

    Cthulhu Biomechanical - "Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn" [1996]

    Artist: Cthulhu Biomechanical
    Title: Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn
    Genre: Dark Ambient
    Country: Russia
    Release date: 1996

    Track List:
    1. Fragment I - The Sky of Yuggoth (Summoning Cthulhu)
    2. Fragment II - Dream of Cthulhu (Deep in the Ocean)
    3. Fragment III - Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn
    4. Fragment IV - Cosmic Streams (Melancholy of Cthulhu)
    This brilliantly named project was started in 1996 by the members of Draugwath - one of the first black metal bands from Russia, which later became quite well known after changing name to Blackdeath. Like in case with many side projects by 2nd wave black metal bands, it's very minimalistic dark/drone ambient. The sound is purely guitar-based (no synths whatsoever) and supposed to convey the true Lovecraftian horror atmosphere. This is as kvlt as it could get :) Interestingly, Cthulhu Biomechanical (often shortened to just Cthulhu) are still active today, having released a new album (which I haven't listened to yet) in the beginning of this year. As for this cassette, you can check it out here.