Archive for November, 2016

British black metallers Hex Morbidity came to my attention a few years ago on a split with Baalberith and Forneus, and they have returned with their new, self titled EP. It’s another three tracks of icy, dark black metal for us to be thankful for this winter!

Opener ‘Pallu Noctu rises from the grave with gloomy strings, before some melancholic riffing captures your attention. It immediately feels different, more mature than their preivous work. There’s a touch of Amorphis or Paradise Lost about the guitar tone and the more measured pace, and that tone continues with the faster and more fearsome ‘The Spirit of Aldywch’. This is faster, and is more overtly black metal in its appearance but the thick atmosphere drenches it in misery. I really like this direction; it gives the songs more body and injects a bit of identity in Hex Morbidity. I commented on their original split work as being a bit forgettable, but this is certainly not the case now!

Closing with the gothic gloom of the title track, where you can feel the fist of second wave black metal being pulled under by traditional English doom atmospheres and, dare I say, melodies (!), Hex Morbidity’s new direction is a thing of rare beauty. Retaining their raw, black metal edge (and still with the snarling vocal delights) but submerging it entirely within tar black melancholy has reinvigorated them. I look forward to the band becoming an underground gem for British black metal in years to come.

https://hexmorbidity.bandcamp.com/

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Chilean death metallers Sadism are onto their seventh full length in a career spanning almost 30 years. ‘Alliance’ came out at the tail end of last year, and is a fiery violent slab of death metal. Their potent blend of Immolation heaviness and the ferocious assault of prime Morbid Angel is fearsome, and it will hopefully be the record that moves Sadism out of that hidden underground gem catergory.

Opener ‘Conversion’ is a perfect example of how Sadism work. Blasting, raging deathly riffs rain down upon you relentlessly, with dense chugging and furious fretwork. ‘Treblinka’ is another chugging beast, and the obvious Floridian influence runs deep within Sadism’s riffing. The South American death metal style isn’t as prevalent as that thick American style, and it makes for a refreshing shattering of preconceptions. There’s nothing fancy or overly technical about ‘Alliance’, but the pure simplicity of it is intoxicating.

Dense Immolationisms surge through the twisting, serpentine ‘Scroll’, while some serious Bolt Thrower worship sneaks into ‘Mother of Prostitutes’. Sadism’s main strength is their ability to combine all the most effective parts of death metal without becoming stale or overly repetitive. Death metal is death metal, but ‘Alliance’ is a record that invokes much headbanging and invisible oranges. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Black Whispers - Shades of Bleakness

It doesn’t seem to a place where depressive, atmospheric black metal could emanate from but Black Whispers hail from the balmy Carribean island of Costa Rica. But that also exemplifies the best thing about metal, is that it has no boundaries and no nationalities. ‘Shades of Bleakness’ arrived on the scene last year through Symbol of Domination Records, and is a record of depth and misery.

After the gloomy, piano led ‘Intro (Useless Existence)’, the morbid crawl of ‘Gloom’ is a subversive, murky piece of bleak melody. With ice scraping vocals and a soaring, crisp guitar tone that pierces the foggy atmospherics, it is a song of melancholy beauty. As is the almost peaceful ‘Neverending Unsteadiness’. Lacking the propulsive and clattering blastbeats of most black metal, it allows the songs to retain a depressive pace. An oppressive gloom hangs over each piece, with a haunting vocal rasp being the only link to more traditional extremity.

‘Shades of Bleakness’ is an entirely appropriate title for this, as bleak is not even enough of a descriptor for the loneliness and isolation on offer here. Almost suicidally sad, the likes of ‘Stuck in the Past Ruins’ drain the life force of those around it, leaving that grey emotionless husk. But it is the subtle melodies in there that will draw you back for more, grasping for some morsel of hope. It isn’t there, but keep looking….

https://blackwhispers.bandcamp.com/

Hostium - The Bloodwine of Satan

Canadian dark lords Hostium have arrived from the frozen North to ply us with devastating debut ‘The Bloodwine of Satan’. Released on Iron Bonehead early this year, it is a record that I missed on its initial release but I am very glad I eventually caught up with it. This is pure, unadulterated Canadian metal, carved from the darkest places.

The album opens with the building menace of ‘Through Realms of Oblivion/Holy Spirit of Satan’, a brooding intro that explodes into a cavalcade of raging blastbeats and demonic summonings. Hostium’s black metal is imbued with an innate sense of the decrepid, the morbid, the decay of man in the face of overwhelming Satanic power. The prime example for me is the smothering ‘Bloodwine Chalice’, which writhes with a dark energy and ancient hate. The impenetrable gloom of ‘Arcane Deathtomb’, the bleak ‘From the Soulless Ruins’ and particularly the fiery ‘Thirst for Destruction’ are mere showcases for the black, relentless power that lives at the heart of Hostium.

With a vocal performance verging on the gargling, unholy voice of Satan himself, icy riffage that oozes with darkened melodies and a wonderfully bleak guitar tone, and a seeping atmosphere of eternal decay, Hostium’s debut is a glorious imagining of a world wreathed in darkness and snow, where the great horned god sits laughing on his throne.

https://hostium.bandcamp.com/

Singaporean ‘Vedic’ metal pioneers Rudra have been blending a potent mix of traditional Indian music and savage, blackened death metal for a long long time, and are criminally overlooked as a potent and inventive force in world extremity. I first came across them on their ‘Brahmavidya: Transcendental I’ record from about 7-8 years ago, and I was truly absorbed by their spiritual, ethnic stylings. Their new record, ‘Enemy of Duality’, should be something pretty special, and it’s out on Transcending Obscurity.

Opener ‘Abating the Firebrand’ comes floating from the gloom, with spiritual chanting and melodic riffing evolving into a blasting, savage tour de force. There’s a regal grandeur about this track, where fury is coupled to some uber melodic riffing to create this majestic piece. This style continues throughout the record, mixing with carefully placed ethnic instrumentation to create a record of mature songwriting (consider the gloriously vicious ‘Perception Apparent’) and an innate rage. The traditional instrumentation isn’t as prevalent as you may expect either for a band that prides themselves on the expression of Vedic themes and traditions. But what does appear is tastefully done, and actually the music benefits from not being smothered in sitars etc. This allows the METAL to be in the forefront, and the rest to be atmospheric and enhancing.

Imagine if you took Melechesh further east, and you’ll find the spot that Rudra occupy. But it isn’t as simple as just that, because that description fails to invoke the kind of feelings that Rudra’s music does. The guitar work is stunning, dripping with melodic solos and fleet fingered riffing. The vocals are raw but comprehensible, and the underpinning battery of drums is intense at points. ‘Enemy of Duality’ is a record that twists, contorts and never fails to impress. This could be a late run in for one of my favourite records of this year, because you cannot fail to love all those riffs!

http://rudrametal.bandcamp.com/

Rudra (Singapore) – Enemy of Duality CD