Friday, March 20, 2020

Beseech - "Souls Highway" [2002]

Artist: Beseech
Title: Souls Highway
Genre: Gothic Metal
Country: Sweden
Year: 2002

Track List:
  1. Illusionate
  2. Between the Lines
  3. Souls Highway
  4. Blinded
  5. Endless Waters
  6. Fiction City
  7. Sunset 28
  8. A Last Farewell
  9. A Season in Green
  10. Beyond the Skies 
Another gothic metal album with dual male/female vocals, which is surprisingly little known despite having a somewhat classic status in the history of gothic metal by now. I've bought this album on a cassette quite a long time ago and was very much impressed by how atmospheric it is. Later I checked out the rest of Beseech discography (until 2006), but no their album has impressed me as much as this one. I've seen reviewers comparing it to early Lacuna Coil and even to Infinite Tales, but Beseech definitely doesn't sound like any of these bands. "Souls Highway" isn't particularly heavy or sophisticated in terms of musicianship, but the atmosphere is great - very melancholic and soothing - and I love the vocals by Lotta Höglin too. My personal favourites are "Between the Lines" and "Fiction City". My cassette also included a bonus track which is a very good cover version of ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" (if I haven't heard the original before, I'd think it was originally written as a metal song).



P.S. I know that Beseech have split up in 2006 and some of their former members went on forming The Mary Major and Those We Don't Speak Of (both bands nowhere near successful as Beseech), by I didn't know until recently that they have reformed in 2012 and released a fairly good new album in 2016. Their new vocalist is Angelina Sahlgren Söder which apparently has experience in theatre and musicals as well:

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I Miss My Death - "In Memories" [2014]

Artist: I Miss My Death
Title: In Memories
Genre: Symphonic Gothic/Doom Metal
Country: Ukraine
Year: 2014

Track List:
  1. The Last Overture
  2. In the Dark Garden of the Vampire
  3. In Memories
  4. Silence Cries
  5. Thirteen Autumns of My Solitude
  6. Earl Pale
  7. Trail into the Past
  8. Silent Existence
  9. Flower That Fades
  10. The On
  11. While You Remember Me
  12. Lacrimosa (Mozart)
Since the recent events all over the world (the whole coronavirus situation and the death of several prominent cultural figures, including Genesis P-Orridge, in just few recent days) are quite depressing, it's time for an appropriate kind of music. This time I'll present a gothic death/doom metal band from Kiev with dual male/female vocals that I discovered via their vocalist Elena Krivovyaz, who's also a classical opera singer (interestingly, she followed me on Instagram first). The band name might be not the best choice, but compared to names like I'm In A Coffin, it's not the worst either. The sound, aesthetics and lyrical themes on this album are all fairly standard for the genre (which isn't a bad thing at all, if you love the symphonic metal of 2000s and late 90s):


Check out also their newest single released last year:


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Crown of Asteria - "Demo MMXIII" [2013]

Artist: Crown of Asteria
Title: Demo MMXIII
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: USA
Year: 2013

Track List:
  1. Hymn of the Northern Bowers
  2. Beneath the Boreal Twilight
  3. Ascendancy of the Stars
  4. Through the Birch and Beyond the Lakes
Here's the first demo recording by Crown of Asteria, an one-woman black metal project that has appeared on my blog before, which I decided to check out because of this review:
One-woman black metal from the vast frozen northlands of...Michigan, but with a really nice foresty photo on the cover, nature-themed song titles that go beyond the genre standards to sound really enticing and track lengths that scream long-winded but powerfully epic.

The demo starts exactly as you'd hope, with some calm acoustic strumming that brings to mind things like Ulver's Kveldssanger. And just as it gets going, BOOM. The shittiest, most heinously inappropriately programmed blastbeating drum machine charges its way in, crushing that acoustic guitar riff before it even knew what was happening. It literally cuts the riff off and shits all over everything. It's like a conclave of elves in a pine forest clearing slowly starting their homage to the stars above with soft strumming of their lutes before the angelic voices and cascading strings and harps comes in to take everything to a higher plane of existence, then a hippopotamus strolls in and takes a massive shit on all the elves. Ever seen a hippopotamus take a shit? Look it up on YouTube.
That's definitely one of the funniest metal album reviews I've ever read, and while being quite unflattering, it's surprisingly accurate. That said, this demo isn't nearly as bad as you might have though after reading the passage above, and while I wouldn't recommend it to those unfamiliar with Meghan Wood's music (her discography is quite large with a lot of releases to choose from), it still was a quite enjoyable listen for me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Sasamaso

Did you know that there is a metal scene on Madagascar? In fact, Madagascar, along with Botswana, are among the very few African countries with more or less sizable metal scene, and the history of Malagasy metal can be traced to the late 80s.

Sasamaso isn't a new band as well, being formed in 2002 as the first female-fronted metal band in Madagascar (and probably one of the first in Africa), yet they have next to no physical releases apart from one extremely obscure demo in 2004. Fortunately they now have a Soundcloud page where you can check out some of their tracks. For the most part, their music is based in thrash metal, but I'd say their sound is quite unique and doesn't fit into any particular genre, especially when it comes to tracks like this:


Actually, I can hear a lot of similarities with metal from Malaysia and Indonesia, which is not surprising considering that the first settlers of Madagascar came from that general area and still keep their Austronesian language that's completely unrelated to any of the languages in mainland Africa. Likewise, the metal scene in Indonesia is well developed in comparison to the rest of Asia excluding Japan, much like the Malagasy metal scene in relation to the rest of Africa.

And here's one more track, with a bit more "traditional" metal sound. The quality of recording is far from perfect, but it's totally expected from such an obscure band:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Mefitis - "Despair" [2019]

Artist: Mefitis [蛮蜚之魃]
Title: Despair
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Country: China
Year: 2019

Track List:
  1. Cetus
  2. Ecdysis
  3. Desecrate
  4. Lotophagi
As a tradition, I start a series of posts about female-fronted bands on 8th of March, and let's start from an "international" metal band based out of Beijing, China, but featuring American and Slovenian musicians (no idea where's their vocalist comes from, though). Not much else is known about them except that they like to drink (well, a lot of metal musicians do, and in some cases - way too much) and overthink life and music. Also, "Anti-Burzum action" (by which they most likely mean opposing Varg Vikernes aka Louis Cachet's ideas and actions rather than music, which is totally understandable). The music is quite unorthodox black metal in the vein of Norwegian prog black scene (think how Urarv whould sound if Trish was singing instead of drumming). To quote a comment from Bandcamp:
A thrashy, raw, honest, and surprisingly creative progressive black metal gem from the depths of the underground. Don't be fooled: the production is clear and balanced, despite its rawness. The riffs are thoughtful, inspired, and refreshingly unorthodox, the bass plays far more than a supporting role, and the drummer uses his blasts creatively to great effect. I'm quite impressed, and want moooore!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Nuclear Winter (ZW) - "Night Shift" [2019]

Artist: Nuclear Winter
Title: Night Shift
Genre: Industrial Death Metal
Country: Zimbabwe
Year: 2019

Track List:
  1. The Western Gate
  2. Down Where We Belong
  3. Blueshift
  4. The God Without Shadows
  5. Life Sick Hearts
  6. Years Lent
  7. Fragments of Grandeur
  8. Third War
  9. The Coming Darkness
While the metal scene of Botswana is somewhat well known internationally, stumbling upon an industrial / "modern metal" project from Zimbabwe was a big surprise to me. While I'm still not completely sure it's not a gimmick (especially considering that the only member of Nuclear Winter is white), I have no reasons not to believe the location stated on NW's bandcamp page ("Harare, Zimbabwe") either. When it comes to sound, it's futuristic-sounding melodic death metal with drum machine and lots of electronics. Nothing particularly groundbreaking, but fairly well produced for an one-man project. According to the project's Facebook page, there's also several EPs released as early as in 2013, but all the download links are dead by now.


Saturday, February 29, 2020

Skinflint - "Iklwa" [2010]

Artist: Skinflint
Title: Iklwa
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Botswana
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Iron Pierced King
  3. Mbube the Great
  4. Burning the Soul with Diesel
  5. Iklwa
  6. The Fallen
  7. Profit Making Funeral
  8. When You Die, You Die!
  9. Army of the Dead (Bonus)
  10. Gauna (Live)
Botswana is a relatively developed and stable country (by African measures, that is) bordering South Africa, known for its significant metal scene (probably the biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa after SAR, even if it isn't saying much since most SSA countries don't have any metal bands at all) with a pecular love for cowboy stage outfits. The first rock bands appeared in Botswana during the 70s, and the first Botswanian metal band most likely was Metal Orizon, formed in 1990. I personally found out about metal scene in Botswana in late 2000s after stumbling upon a death metal band from there (if memory serves, it was Crackdust), but it was hard to find any further information about such an obscure scene back then.

Out of all metal bands from Botswana, Skinflint is one of the best known ones internationally, yet most of their albums are quite hard to find. So far I have listened only to their sophomore release "Iklwa", and judging from the reviews, it's not their best work, but it turned out to better than I expected. Essentially, it's somewhat repetitive heavy metal / hard rock with galloping riffs, clearly influenced by Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath yet having enough "African" flavour to it. The lyrics are most based on African mythology and were intended to be scary, but in the end turning out to be funny like a bad horror movie. All in all, I should agree with the critics that "Iklwa" would be a weak album if it was released by an European band in 2010, but considering the place of its release, it has the same appeal that poorly recorded yet honest classic metal albums from early 1980s. Get it here.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Krummholz - "Rooted in Despair" [2018]

Artist: Krummholz
Title: Rooted in Despair
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: Uganda / USA / Ghana
Release date: 2018

Track List:
  1. A Morning in the Autumn Forest
  2. To Father Worlds in the Bones of Ancient Solitude
This one would be a fairly typical nature-inspired black metal EP, if not for the fact that it was recorded by an international projects whose members come from the US, Ghana (or according to other sources, Kenya) and Uganda of all places. The EP consists of an ambient/new age intro with nature sounds, and one long atmospheric/post-black metal track  While I didn't notice anything particularly "African" about its sound, it's quite good for a debut release and makes me insterested in what Krummholz may put out in the future.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Don Zilla - "From the Cave to the World" [2019]

Artist: Don Zilla
Title: From the Cave to the World
Genre: Techno, Dark Ambient
Country: Uganda
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. From the Cave
  2. Inside Me
Another interesting release from Hakuna Kulala - the debut 2-track EP by an Ugandan producer known as Don Zilla. The first track is techno/D&B, while the second, longer one is much closer to dark ambient:
"Following up his remixes of STILL’s ‘I’ album cuts in 2018, Don Zilla bares his teef in both parts of ‘From The Cave to the World’, first churning up a viscous groove full of shadow-boxing drums and gutter bass distortion on the cusp of dubstep rave and halfstep D&B with ‘From The Cave’, before opening up a stargate like portal in his studio with 12 minutes of plunging beatless depth and unheimlich terra forming in ‘Inside Me’, and in a way recalling early Emptyset or stare-out Prurient piece"

Slikback - "Tomo" [2019]

Artist: Slikback
Title: Tomo
Genre: Techno, Rhythmic Noise
Country: Kenya
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. Sonshitsu
  2. Gemini
  3. Kyokai
  4. Karum
  5. Zuhura
  6. Rage
Speaking of underground electronic music labels, one of my most interesting recent discoveries is Hakuna Kulala, coming from Uganda of all places. Yes, East Africa actually has a thriving electronic scene, and Hakuna Kulala is specialized in club explorations from the Kenyan, Ugandan and Congolese electronic underground and beyond. All (or nearly all) Hakuna Kulala releases have a distinctive cover art style of geometric patterns on black backgound.

"Tomo" is a 6-track EP by Slikback (real name: Freddy M Njau), an electronic producer from Nairobi, Kenya. Out of all releases on Hakuna Kulala, this one fits the spirit of my blog the most, becoming progressively more experimental towards the end, and even stepping on the territory of rhythmic noise in the last track:
"At the vanguard of a vital East African electronic music scene, Slikback combines local rhythmic heritage with sheer, abstract electronics in ways that utterly fascinate bodies on the ‘floor. Stepping ahead from his debut EP in 2018, he offers twice as much material and amps up the energy and noise in ’Tomo’, surely setting the benchmark for anything to follow in its wake in 2019.

Between the Nostrofmo-like atmosphere and mutant footwork-like percussive intensity of ‘SONSHITSU’, thru the dissonant dancehall swagger of ‘Gemini’ and the hyperhall push of ‘Kyokai’, to the polymetric fizz and parry of ‘Karuym’, and the pelting hardcore of ‘Zuhura’, Slikback’s music will leave nobody wanting on the ‘floor. But if you’re the insatiable type, then the inferno of his parting shot ‘Rage’, switching from full frontal rhythmic noise to industrial swagger and back, will polish you the fuck off"

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

V/A - "The Virus Has Been Spread / A D-Trash Records Tribute to Atari Teenage Riot" [2007]

Label: D-Trash Records
Title: The Virus Has Been Spread / A D-Trash Records Tribute to Atari Teenage Riot
Genre: Breakcore, Digital Hardcore
Release date: 2007

Track List:
  1. RABBIT JUNK - Start The Riot
  2. HOWARD ROARK - No Remorse (I Wanna Die)
  3. ZYMOTIC - Into The Death
  4. UNITUS - Death Star
  5. CTRLER - Deuthschland (Has Got To Die!)
  6. HANSEL - Ghostchase
  7. 64REVOLT - You Can't Hold Us Back
  8. noCore - U.S. Fade Out
  9. DHC MEINHOF - Revolution Action
  10. THE SECRET LIFE OF TEENAGE GIRLS - Speed
  11. PHALLUS UBER ALLES - Heatwave
  12. EVESTUS - Delete Yourself
  13. HERCKLEKOT - Fuck All!
  14. CYANOTIC - Your Uniform (Does Not Impress Me)
  15. THE PHOERON - The Virus Has Been Spread
  16. SCHIZOID - The Future Of War
The amount of contributions to the digital hardcore scene by the Canadian label D-Trash Records can't be overestimated. They were releasing obscure breakcore, digital hardcore, noise, industrial, dark ambient, IDM and all other sorts of sci-fi/cyberpunk-themed underground electronic music since late 90s, and the best of all - all their releases are freely available online, and they were at least since the mid-2000s. It was very difficult for me to find such music back then, so their site was truly a blessing at the time.

Here's a tribute to the seminal band in the whole digital hardcore genre - Atari Teenage Riot - made by various D-Trash artists in 2007, keeping all the tracks as close to the spirit of original ones as possible. My personal highlighs are the rather unusual interpretation of "Death Star" (my favourite noise ballad of all times!) by Unitus, and the surprisingly danceable cover of "You Can't Hold Us Back" by 64Revolt. If you're not familiar with D-Trash Records yet, I hope this compilation will make you to explore the rest of their releases (and they have LOTS of great but little-known stuff for all lovers of extreme electronic music with a DIY spirit).

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Alec Empire - "Futurist" [2004]

Artist: Alec Empire
Title: Futurist
Genre: Digital Hardcore
Country: Germany
Release date: 2004

Track List:
  1. Kiss Of Death
  2. Uproar
  3. Night Of Violence
  4. Vertigo
  5. Overdose
  6. Make Em Bleed
  7. Gotta Get Out
  8. Point Of No Return
  9. Hunt You Down
  10. In Disguise
  11. Terror Alert High
  12. XXV3
I think Alec Empire needs no introduction to anyone who knows what digital hardcore is, and I'm honestly not sure why I haven't posted anything related to Atari Teenage Riot on here yet. While ATR was the band that introduced me (and not only me) to digital hardcore, I'd rather post one of the finest solo works of Alec Empire, entitled "Futurist" ("For a man so certain that there isn't a future, he looks like one of its most confident architects" - from a review of Alec Empire's previous album "Intelligence & Sacrifice" in NME 2002). 

While "Futurist" is a logical sequel to "Intelligence & Sacrifice", it's probably more influenced by punk, metal and aggro-industrial than any other release in Alec Empire's discography (but not forgetting the electronics, of course!), and it's brutal and chaotic just like any other his work. There were even attempts to get this album on metal-archives.com, although I personally don't think it counts as metal (and the moderators of MA most likely think so too). If anything, "Futurist" would be best described as "cyberpunk", if only it was a proper music genre.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Yunclas / Leila - "Voluntary Punishment ​/ ​Ziyara" [2019]

Artist: Yunclas / Leila
Title: Voluntary Punishment ​/ ​Ziyara
Genre: Ambient, Techno
Country: Spain / Brazil
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. Voluntary Punisment
  2. Ziyara
A few months ago I made a post about Pierre Noir, which is a very unorthodox "blackened techno" project linked to Yunclas, and here's another experimental project which is a collaboration between Yunclas (Asturias, Spain) and Leila (Brazil). This release is best described as ambient/techno with Arabic reminiscences (even if the cover art looks more suitable for a noise album), and reminds me of some releases by Cracked Core and other Muslimgauze-influenced electronic projects I've posted on here before.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Fun-Da-Mental - "Erotic Terrorism" [1998]

Artist: Fun-Da-Mental
Title: Erotic Terrorism
Genre: Breakbeat, Industrial Hip-Hop, World Fusion
Country: UK
Release date: 1998

Track List:
  1. Oh Lord! (Devil Would Like A Word)
  2. Demonised Soul (My Head Bus On A Hard Surface But I Could Never Hurt It)
  3. Godevil (All Tainted By Wickedness)
  4. Ja Sha Taan (Joo Ley Lal Mustt Qalander)
  5. Blood In Transit (After Dinner Mints)
  6. Repent (Not Repented Yet)
  7. Deathening Silence (Thru Bloodless Birth My Being A Clone)
  8. Furious (Crustacean Of The Sea, Organism Of Dust)
  9. See I A (Dust On Ants Feet)
  10. The Distorted C (All We Want)
  11. One Ness (Dhann A Dhann)
  12. Sliced Lead (Fill It With Lead)
  13. Tongue Gone Cold (Grown To A Medical Specimen Paranoid Mad Careless Deviance)
Fun-Da-Mental is a brainchild of Aki Nawaz (Haq Nawaz Qureishi) who started his music career as a drummer in The Southern Death Cult, one of the first British post-punk/gothic rock bands which later took a much more commercial hard/glam rock direction under the name The Cult. In the meanwhile, Aki Nawaz took the stage name Propa-Gandhi and founded Fun-Da-Mental in August '91 during London's annual Notting Hill Carnival. Needless to say that his new band sounded nothing like Southern Death Cult, although still being heavily influenced by the spirit of punk:
Initial line-up consisted of Bad-Sha Lallaman and Aki Nawaz (properly Haq Qureshi) who went under the stage name of Propa-Gandhi, Man-Tharoo (who later went under the name of Goldfinger) and DJ Obeah (who would be replaced by Dave Watts). The least convincing colour on their style palette would be rap; their originality lies in their manipulation of soundbite and sample. Often witty, they mix samples of the classical instruments, the metamorphosed motif of the train whistle from the Hindi film Pakeezah, Pakistani village music and filmi (Indian film music), all woven into a patterns of flavours.
Around the time when "Erotic Terrorism" was released, FDM played a show in my home city. It was the time when bands like The Prodigy were wildly popular here (and elsewhere), so the public was quite impressed by seeing what was described by some critics as "how The Prodigy would sound if they were born somewhere around the Indus River valley" (the most obvious comparison, however, would be "a more heavier version of Asian Dub Foundation", but seems like nobody here has heard of ADF at the time). Back then I was too young to appreciated their music, but I have memorized their name, and many years later I bought the "Erotic Terrorism" on cassette at first opportunity. I wasn't disappointed at all; to me, it sounded more like "how KMFDM would sound if Sascha Konietzko and En Esch were born in Pakistan and met each other in the UK":

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Başkarma - "Kizleü" [1991]

Artist: Başkarma
Title: Kizleü
Genre: Folk-Rock
Country: Finland
Release date: 1991

Track List:
  1. Kaytuinni Saginirmin
  2. Töngi Karlar
  3. Kübelegim
  4. Kaycan Gina Kilirsin Sin
  5. Sin Sazinni Uynadin
  6. Sonlama
  7. Sular Buylap
  8. Közgi Mon
  9. Sonlama, Kil Indi
  10. Zenger Toman
  11. Bir Gine Minutka
  12. Tan Atkanda
  13. Yokla Inim
  14. Elmira
  15. Ey Mokatdes
Did you know that Finland has long had a not very sizable (~1000) but well-established Tatar minority? Well, now you know. They're mostly descendants of Mishari Tatars that came to Grand Duchy of Finland during late 19th / early 20th century from the vicinity of Sergach (not far from where I live; although I've been to Sergach, so far I haven't visited any predominately Tatar villages around there). Although they're completely integrated into Finnish society, they keep their language and culture alive.

Başkarma was a folk-rock band started by the Finnish Tatar musician Deniz Bedretdin in late 1970s. Their album "Kizleü" was released in USSR in 1991, which helped them to get some recognition among Tatars elsewhere. Despite being re-released on CD in Russia in 2003, this release remains to be rather rare and obscure, but when I found it I wasn't disappointed. Very good quality of production for its time and great female vocals, even if most of the songs aren't particularly catchy. Interestingly, their style was described by someone on Youtube as "balearic flamenco AOR folk":


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Samael - "Exodus" [1998]

Artist: Samael
Title: Exodus
Genre: "Dark Metal", Industrial Metal
Country: Switzerland
Release date: 1998

Track List:
  1. Exodus
  2. Tribes of Cain
  3. Son of Earth
  4. Winter Solstice
  5. Ceremony of Opposites
  6. From Malkuth to Kether
  7. Static Journey (hidden track)
Samael are a band that doesn't really need an introduction. One of the most innovative and influental Swiss metal bands along with Celtic Frost, they're among my favourite bands of all times. While their early 1st wave black metal stuff was way ahead of its time too, I very much prefer their later albums beginning from "Passage" where they play music commonly described as "industrial metal" (yet they sound quite different from most other bands in this genre) and "dark metal" (which is a non-descriptive label that could mean anything, at least according to Metal Archives rules), with rather non-provocative lyricsal themes such as space and spirituality. In particular, "Exodus" and "Eternal" were the albums which first introduced me to Samael, and both of them still remain among my top favourites.

Unlike their preceding release, the much acclaimed "Passage", "Exodus" is a quite overlooked EP that received mostly average marks from reviewers and was deemed a release "only for serious completists" (which I probably am, at least when it comes to the electronic/industrial releases from Samael). Actually, I like it at least as much as "Passage", which is widely considered to be the best album by Samael. In the beginning, "Exodus" sounds very much like "Passage", but its sound gradually becomes more and more electronic and experimetal closer to the end. My personal favourite are the piano parts in "Winter Solstice".