Friday, May 31, 2019

V/A - "Metalstorm (The First Georgian Metal Compilation)" [1998]

Title: Metalstorm (The First Georgian Metal Compilation)
Genre: Metal
Country: Georgia
Year: 1998

Track List:
  1. Mzime Jvari - Heavy Cross
  2. Mzime Jvari - Dream in Reality
  3. Tattooed Monk - Tattooed Monk
  4. Tattooed Monk - Nightmare Lullabye
  5. Blackends - Planet D'Earth
  6. Blackends - Handful of Blood
  7. Last Supper - Red Snow
  8. Last Supper - Hope
  9. Sadizm - Genocide
  10. Sadizm - Nothing Come Through
  11. Pergamo - Through the Soulfrosted Infernal Flame
  12. Pergamo - Insanity Is the Cemetery of My Rolling Dreams
Another highly interesting find on YouTube: the very first compilation of Georgian metal, released on cassette in 1998. All the bands featured on there, except for Mzime Jvari, have never released anything else, so it's extremely rare stuff. The quality of recording is surprisingly decent, given that it was made in a country which suffered from rampant poverty during the 1990s, and where the public attitude towards metal was very hostile. Here you can read an interview with a former member of Pergamo (and some other Georgian black metal bands) and get some idea of how difficult it was to be a metal musician (or even just a man with long hair) in Georgia back then. Now the situation is apparently much more relaxed, and while Georgia remains a non-metal country as a while, Tbilisi has a more active metal scene than any other place in the Caucasus (which isn't saying much, though). Hopefully I'll visit Georgia soon and get some first-hand experience.

Stylistically, "Metalstorm" is quite varied: Mzime Jvari (aka მძიმე ჯვარი, "Heavy Cross") and Tattooed Monk play traditional heavy metal, Blackends play thrash metal, Last Supper - doom metal, Sadizm - death/grind, and Pergamo - black metal. You can listen to the whole thing on YouTube:

Ambersmoke - "Une femme est une femme" [2013]

Artist: Ambersmoke
Title: Une femme est une femme
Genre: Post-Rock/Punk/Black Metal, Noise Rock
Country: USA
Year: 2013

Track List:
  1. Longing
  2. Girls In Merzbow Shirts
  3. Making Suicide Pacts With Britty Drake
  4. Iridescent Memories
  5. Cat Burial
  6. Beautiful Hands
  7. Rune
  8. Everything, Forever.
All I know about Ambersmoke is this description from YouTube:
Ambersmoke is an independent, one man project that utilizes gloominess and slow pacing. The music is not very heavy at all, even with vocals. The first song, Longing, is probably the heaviest on the album. The music is meant to be more introspective than loud or abrasive and most of the lyrics are samples taken from movies or whatever else. Not sure what most of them are from but the one used in Suicide Pacts is an excerpt from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which to me seems really arbitrary but, I don’t know, maybe it struck a chord with the artist. Unfortunately, Ambersmoke has become pretty bitter of late and announced that he refuses to play live shows now because people aren’t taking his music seriously.
 "Une femme est une femme" is his debut full-length release, and it turned out to be surprisingly pleasant guitar noise rooted in post-rock and post-punk, even with some hints of atmospheric black metal. Yes, I know this kind of music is listened mostly by hipsters, but who cares?..

Unfortunately, this album (along with some other early releases by Ambersmoke) was deleted from Bandcamp, so I have to post a YouTube stream instead:

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Nevermore - "Dreaming Neon Black" [1999]

Artist: Nevermore
Title: Dreaming Neon Black
Genre: Progressive Metal
Country: USA
Year: 1999

Track List:
  1. Ophidian
  2. Beyond Within
  3. The Death Of Passion
  4. I Am The Dog
  5. Dreaming Neon Black
  6. Deconstruction
  7. The Fault Of The Flesh
  8. The Lotus Eaters
  9. Poison Godmachine
  10. All Play Dead
  11. Cenotaph
  12. No More Will 
  13. Forever
I can't believe I haven't posted this album on here yet (although I did mention it in my review of "Omnio" by In The Woods). "Dreaming Neon Black" is included in many lists of best metal albums of all times, and for a good reason. This album was reviewed by other people many times before, so I don't have much to add, except to say it's my favourite album in the whole discography of Nevermore (all the other albums didn't impress me much). Tracks like "Beyond Within", "Cenotaph" and "Dreaming Neon Black" are true masterpieces, and the rest of the album doesn't lack in quality either.

Some people categorize this album as technical thrash metal, some - as groove metal and even speed/power metal (no idea why), but as for me, it's quite similar in atmosphere (if not sound) to the best death/doom metal albums released during 1990s, as well as the stuff from early Agalloch or the aforementioned "Omnio" by In The Woods. What else to say? "Dreaming Neon Black" is more depressive than most DSBM albums, and more complex than quite a lot of progressive metal albums (and it requires quite a few re-listens to get into). Since I'm not really interested in dealing with DMCA complaints after posting albums released on bigger labels like Century Media, and since the download links for such well-known albums are easy to find elsewhere, it'd be enough to post a YouTube video:

P.S. RIP Warrel Dane, one of the best and original vocalists and one of the greatest songwriters in the history of metal...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Behold... the Arctopus - "Nano Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning" [2006]

Artist: Behold... the Arctopus
Title: Nano Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning
Genre: Avant-garde / Technical Death Metal
Country: USA
Year: 2006

Track List:
  1. Exospacial Psionic Aura
  2. Estrogen/Pathogen Exchange Program
  3. Sensory Amusia
  4. Alcoholocaust
  5. You Will Be Reincarnated As An Imperial Attack Space Turtle + live tracks
Another band that's definitely not like most other metal bands, whose sound once was described as "Metal in Opposition" as a reference to Rock in Opposition. Their later releases like "Horrorscension" were completely trashed by critics for being unnecessarily complex and technical, and while I agree that this kind of music is more interesting to play than to listen to, I like BtA's early stuff like this EP (the 2006 edition also contains two songs from their 2003 demo and some live tracks). As it was described in the Bandcamp comments: "Like looking into the eyes of Cthulu, this album cannot be described. Even trying to will melt your brain. Insane". Now combine it with the track names like "You Will Be Reincarnated As An Imperial Attack Spaceturtle":

Monday, May 27, 2019

Assacre - "Fantastic Illusions Worth Dying For" [2005]

Artist: Assacre
Title: Fantastic Illusions Worth Dying For
Genre: Avant-garde Death Metal / Noise
Country: USA
Year: 2005

Track List:
  1. Fantastic Illusions Worth Dying For
  2. Satyriasis De Minimis
  3. Gayer Than God
  4. Kalos K'agathos Gorgos
  5. Cyclops Genesis
  6. I Have Fifteen Legs
  7. Thy Crystal Obelisk Shall Ascend Into Stormclouds of Mechanical Mystery
  8. The Ultimate Value of Human Life
One of the things I find the most annoying about the (English-speaking) metal fans is their constant use of the word "gay" as an insult against everything they deem not cool enough for them. "Listening to deathcore is so gay", "Cradle of Filth is gay shit for faggots", etc., etc. Not even trying to be politically correct here, just saying that Seth Putnam wasn't even exaggerating that much in his parodies. Moreover, the aesthetics of heavy metal were extremely homoerotic from the very beginning, thanks to Rob Halford who was very much into half-naked men in spiked leather. However, he didn't came out as gay until 1998, and I don't think there were any openly gay metal bands until 2003, when Ben Aqua started Assacre. Since I already have posted on here about a band that's literally named The Homosexuals, the one and only full-length album by Assacre won't seem out of place here either.

In terms of sound, "Fantastic Illusions Worth Dying For" is... well, quite queer. While it definitely can be categorized as "melodic death/thrash metal" (per Metal-Archives), the riffs sound very mechanical, more resembling of industrial metal, and the extensive use of samples adds more to that feeling. Some of the tracks are quite noisy, i.e. "Kalos K'agathos Gorgos" which doesn't sound like metal at all and even borders on breakcore at times. Overall, the whole thing sounds as if God Is My Co-Pilot started playing death metal, and does manage to be really original, even leaving aside the sexual orientation of the man behind the project. By the way, he actively performed live around the time when this album was recorded, and some of his performances were quite wild:

By now, that man in a dinosaur mask doesn't release any new music, yet, he's still active on Facebook where he posts lots of weird stuff in ALL CAPS:
 As for "Fantastic Illusions Worth Dying For", now you can chack out that atrocity on Bandcamp:

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Black Ash - "PIDØR" [2018]

Artist: Black Ash
Title: PIDØR
Genre: Darkwave, Industrial Rock
Country: Russia
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Anima
  2. PIDØR
  3. No Drugs No Illusions
  4. 2024
  5. Where Are Your Children
  6. Tell Me Your Story
Who would listen to a release which name literally means "Faggot"? Well, I did, and it turned out to be not bad at all. Actually, "PIDØR" was a name of a craft beer brand produced by some Russian immigrant in Norway initially as a joke:

The combination of an infamous homophobic slur with the slogan "You are what you drink" turned out to be surprisingly successful, although the author decided to close the project before the joke becomes stale. As for this EP, I decided to give it a listen because of the name, but it turned out to be at least as interesting as "Inside the Monolith" by TTMTD.

It's described by the band as "our new and completely spontaneuos release recorded by three completely different people in one room during a single week; we don't known if it's a manifesto or a parable, all we know that it's PIDØR". Those "three completely different people" are Gleb Filonskiy (vocal, bass, programming), Anton 'Dirge' Moiseev (synths, programming) and Roman Yurtaev (guitars). Black Ash was founded as a solo project in 2012 by Gleb Filonskiy in Volgograd, and now they're a full band based in St. Petersburg:

Armageddon Dildos - "Morgengrauen" [2003]

Artist: Armageddon Dildos
Title: Morgengrauen
Genre: EBM, Synthpop
Country: Germany
Year: 2003

Track List:
  1. Tanz Auf Dem Vulkan
  2. Raus
  3. Götter Der Nacht
  4. Traurige Nation
  5. World Unity
  6. Morgengrauen
  7. Rausch
  8. Der Letzte Zarte Kuss
  9. Life Like This
  10. Der Glaube
  11. Spiel Mit Mir
  12. Vergiss Nicht
A powerful contender for the title of "the best bandname ever", Armageddon Dildos were formed in late 80s (various source state different years of formation, from 1986 to 1990) and became one of the best known old school EBM bands signed to Zoth Ommog Records in early 90s. This album, however, has a much more "modern" kind of sound, and in my opinion, it's the best one in their discography. I found out about it because of a review in the Vibrations of Doom zine, and it caught my attention because of the unusual name of the band (which turned out to be a slang name for nuclear warheads). After checking it out, I wasn't disappointed at all, especially by the tracks like "Götter Der Nacht" and "Traurige Nation". Some (but not many) of tracks on "Morgengrauen" have female vocals. AD apparently don't have a Bandcamp page, and almost all the download links for "Morgengrauen" seem to be dead, but this one seems to be working by now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

DBS - "Orthodox Imperialist" [2018]

Artist: DBS (Deutsche Berittene Spetsnaz)
Title: Orthodox Imperialist
Genre: EBM, Aggro-Industrial
Country: Russia
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Rasputin
  2. Tanzen
  3. Orthodox Imperialist
  4. Viva Las Vegas
  5. Donald
  6. KFZ
  7. Alaska
  8. Body Roots
  9. Golden Panzer
  10. Texas Overdrive
Even if the public interest in gothic and industrial scenes is on the sharp decline during the 2010s (at least here), DBS continue to actively perform live, and their new album is perhaps the best in their discography. Of course their trademark humour is very much present on there. On "Orthodox Imperialist", Herr Major is coming to America and even manages to solve the mystery of Donald Trump's ancestry. The parody of Sepultura's "Roots Bloody Roots" is also remarkable (and it's not the first time DBS are doing something like that: they have released a cover EP of black metal classics in 2008). And if you don't want to pay €5 to Bandcamp, the whole album is officially available as a free download here

DBS - "Suprematismus" [2010]

Artist: DBS
Title: Suprematismus
Genre: EBM, Aggro-Industrial
Country: Russia
Year: 2010

Track List:
  1. Intro. God save the Tsar
  2. Der Jäger
  3. Die Heldentat
  4. Tchapaev
  5. Kokainetka
  6. Die Bären
  7. Roten Partisanen
  8. Das Morphium
  9. Boss
  10. Outro. Surovie Godi
DBS stands for "Deutsche Berittene Spetsnaz" or "German Mounted Special Forces", and from the name alone you can guess that they doesn't take themselves too seriously. I'd call them a Russian answer to Hanzel & Gretyl if not for the fact that their music is much more influenced by old school EBM rather than NDH. Actually, DBS along with their side project Strong Product are among the very few projects that have played old school EBM in ex-USSR. DBS themselves prefer to call their style "bodybilly", since they mix the sound of Electronic Body Music with the punk attitude and the aesthetics of rockabilly and psychobilly.

Most releases of DBS are conceptual works telling the story of "Herr Major", a fictional character that's the mascot of DBS (much like Eddie is the mascot of Iron Maiden, for example). This particular album tells us about the adventures of Herr Major during the years of Russian Revolution/Civil War and the New Economic Policy. Malevich's Suprematism, 20's cabaret and operetta, cocaine and morphine - "Suprematismus" mentions everything about the culture of early XX century that later influenced the early industrial scene. The militaristic attitude typical for early EBM is also on there, but presented in a rather comical way.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Veprisuicida - s/t [1996]

Artist: Veprisuicida
Title: Veprisuicida (Веприсуицида)
Genre: Noise
Country: Russia
Year: 1996

Track List:
  1. Травматизм
  2. Центрифуга
  3. Фанатизм
  4. Сто миллионов погибают славной смертью
  5. Монголия
  6. Травматизм-2
Veprisuicida is another moniker of Alexander Lebedev-Frontov, the very first industrial musician in USSR/Russia, better known for Linija Mass. All Lebedev-Frontov's projects are aimed to be industrial music in its pure form, deeply rooted in the avant-garde art of of the early XX century (Italian and Russian futurism, Swiss and French dadaism and "musique concrete", and early Soviet avant-garde music like A. Avraamov's "Symphony of Factory Sirens"). I completely agree that the history and aesthetics of the first half of XX century were a massive source of inspiration for many industrial / noise projects, and while this album (or anything else by Lebedev-Frontov) isn't something to listen to on a regular basis, it wasn't supposed to be an easy or pleasant listen anyway:

The project was named after an avant-garde short movie made in 1988. The author defined its genre as "necrorealism" and claimed it to be a critique of militarism (although I'm sure it was just an attempt to make it more acceptable to the Soviet establishment of the time). It's only 4 minutes long, so you may just watch it and decide by yourself if its plot makes any sense:

It should be also noted that the same name was used for a fake band that was claimed to be the first to play heavy metal in the USSR (as early as in 1976). In fact, both "their" music and the photos (apparently chosen for the funny looks of the musicians) belonged to a late 80s obscure metal band from the Belorussian SSR:

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Прокатный Стан - "Нюрнберг" [2010]

Artist: Прокатный Стан
Title: Нюрнберг
Genre: Rhythmic Noise, Dark Ambient
Country: Russia
Release date: 2010

This album, consisting of 4 untitled tracks, was apparently created with a purpose to demonstrate that Soviet military marches mix quite well with martial industrial and rhythmic noise. Nothing is known about the band member(s), so there's not much to say, yet for some reason I'm sure they aren't newcomers to the genre. The music itself ranges from dark ambient to pretty harsh rhythmic noise, with a lot of samples from WWII speeches and marches. This album is comparable to Pyongyang Hardcore Resistance's "Corea" in both sound and aesthetics, and the mystery surrounding the project. Won't recommend it to anyone who isn't a big fan of rhythmic noise, but if you're searching for something in the vein of PHC and TPROE, but with more focus on the WWII era Soviet art and propaganda, check it out.

Title translation: The Rolling Mill - Nürnberg (Nuremberg). Discogs say it was released on under Creative Commons license, but I can't find it anywhere on (if you can, please tell me). However, you can listen to it here or on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Theodor Bastard - "Vetvi" [2015]

Artist: Theodor Bastard
Title: Vetvi
Genre: Darkwave, Ethnic Electronica, New Age, Trip-Hop
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Umbraya Erze
  2. Vetvi
  3. Salameika
  4. Kukushka
  5. Aion
  6. Niti
  7. Veter (feat. Namgar)
  8. Yaard
  9. Beliy Gorod
  10. Kolodec
The best known Russian ethnic electronica band which most likely was a major source of inspiration for projects like Lovozero. Theodor Bastard started in the second half of 90s inititally as an experimental industrial/noise project in the vein of Coil and Nurse With Wound, and the later album "BossaNova_Trip" (2001) at times sounds surprisingly similar to much later works by Access To Arasaka. By 2004, Theodor Bastard became a full band and radically changed their sound in favour of darkwave and neofolk, which brought them worldwide recognition. During the second half of 2000s, they actively toured Europe and have shared the scene with such high profile bands as Nine Inch Nails, Spiritual Front and Von Thronstahl.

"Vetvi" is their latest up to date LP, strongly inspired by the atmosphere of Russian North, especially Karelia. The album name is a reference to the branches of the mythological World Tree (Arbor mundi). Another prominent lyrical topic on "Vetvi" is the theme of death (especially of the loved ones). Musically, it's ethereal/darkwave kind of world music, strongly inspired by Dead Can Dance and early Massive Attack, but rooted in the folk tradition of Russian North. The members of Theodor Bastard travel extensively, and draw the inspiration from various folk traditions from Russian North (which is my favourite travel destination as well) to Middle East.

The best song on "Vetvi", in my opinion, is the opening one "Umbraya Erze". It sounds very beautiful, although I have no idea about the language of the lyrics (someone has said they're in Old Norse, but I'm not sure about it at all):

Some more music videos off this album:

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tikhie Kamni - "Zemli" [2015]

Artist: Tikhie Kamni
Title: Zemli
Genre: Ambient, Folktronica
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Rukava
  2. Zemli / Crimea
  3. Khibiny
  4. Vethii
  5. Sokolgora
  6. Yarkii
  7. Tam Dojd’
  8. Podlesok
Tikhie Kamni ("Silent Stones", taken from a line from the song "Khibiny") is a collaboration between members of Lovozero and Moa Pillar. Compared to Lovozero, the sound is more minimalistic and ambient-oriented. The tracks are mostly instrumental or with lyrics that fit into a single line. Overall, it isn't as interesting as Lovozero's solo works, but certainly enjoyable, especially because I feel close to the theme of this album:
"A duo of Anastasia Tolchneva (Lovozero) and Fedor Pereverzev (Moa Pillar) have recorded "Zemli" ("Lands") hiking, making field recordings and improvising while on the road – and what a soulful ambient record it is!

No status, no background, no ego, no bullshit. Heartfelt folk vistas make way for ethereal Cocteau Twins-style cuts, deep drones, aural accidents and minimalist piano. These songs are sonic diaries of young people exploring Russia's valleys and hills, rivers and lakes. Not intended for a release, the personal recordings possess that strange magic lots of "psychedelic collage" records lack.

Anastasia and Fedor are no strangers to audio-production, though. Pereverzev's Moa Pillar project is one of the Russian scene's best-kept secrets – he makes that kind of eerie bass music that's rooted in song and dipped in power ambient. Tolchneva's solo act Lovozero is a different beast whatsoever: think beats with digital sheen and Russian folk song.

Tikhie Kamni is a true gem – quiet, intimate and easy to miss. Music made for no one that can be enjoyed by anyone"

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

UUTAi - "Live Jew's Harp" [2013]

Artist: UUTAi
Title: Live Jew's Harp
Genre: Folk, New Age
Country: Russia (Yakutia)
Release date: 2013

Track List:
  1. Silence Breath
  2. Sky Songs
  3. Races
  4. Water Games
  5. The Lunar Shaman
  6. Legend About Ancient Fights
  7. Races (Strana 03 rmx)
After posting Lovozero on here, I thought it'd wouldn't hurt to post Uutai too. Uutai plays Yakutian khomus, an instrument which for some unknown reason is commonly called "Jew's harp" in English, although it doesn't have anything to do with Jews and traditional Jewish music. There's some confusion about her real name: according to the cover art of this album, it's Olga Podluzhnaya; however, Uutai refers to herself as Olena (an Ukrainian name, although Uutai says she doesn't have Ukrainian roots and doesn't know the language). Anyway, she's a very talented musician whose music certainly should be recorded to anyone who's into Siberian shamanic folk (like the solo works of Veronika Oshulik).

Uutai became widely known after the video of one of her performances ("Siberian shaman lady") went viral on Youtube, and it's well deserved - her performance was amazing, and her vocal abilites (including the ability to imitate animal sounds) are great. Funny enough, a lot of people in the comments say that she has very beautiful armpits - that'd be one of the most original compliments I've heard of :)

After the success of this video, she performed at a lot of shows in various countries, but in come cases her music wasn't met well (understandable, because her style is too weird and exotic for an unexperienced listener). However, her performance on Britain's Got Talent apparently was quite successful:

Kageraw - s/t [2013]

Artist: Kageraw
Title: Kageraw
Genre: Ambient, Musique Concrete
Country: Russia
Release date: 2013

Track List:
  1. Когда приходит весна, я знаю мы будем счастливы
  2. loodust imetlema
  3. аrmastuseavaldus
  4. hingerahu
  5. viik
  6. one year old
  7. военная добыча
  8. loodust imetlema (vocal version)
A quite unusual album consisting mostly of piano melodies mixed with the sounds of nature and whispering spoken word vocals. More than half of the track names are in Estonian (no idea why). The later releases from Kageraw gravitate towards pure piano sound and meditation/yoga music, and the earlier stuff (including this debut album) is more experimental and therefore more in the spirit of my blog. Out of what was posted on here before, I'd compare it to "Slower Structures" by Tamás Kátai - it's just as atmospheric, minimalistic, melancholic and piano-driven, albeit noticeably more lo-fi.  According to the release notes, it was recorded at home in Zhukovsky (Moscow region) during the 2012-2013, and finished on the first days of May, 2013 - so, exactly 6 years ago.

Kageraw's real name is Yulia, and she was playing in several punk and metal bands at the time this album was released. Aside from music, she's apparently very interested in photography and visual art in general (judging from her Instagram and other social media), and just like many other female musicians, she's a bit of an amateur model herself. In particular, I really liked this photo of her:

The scenery and composition is amazing, as well as the post-processing. And as a bonus to that, Yulia has quite beautiful legs ;) But let's go back to her music: