Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Pyre - Chained to Ossuaries

Review by Geary of War

Pyre, a Russian death metal trio, have released their second album ‘Chained to Ossuaries’ through Memento Mori Records, however it does feel as though I should say unleashed rather than released. Preferring to hone a more ‘traditional and raw sound’, Pyre comes at you with the oldest of schools of death metal, often evoking memories of Entombed and that classic death to death ‘n’ roll sound.

Following the short instrumental opener of ‘Exordium’ we are then treated to the real meat and potatoes of the album. Rasping vocals, thumping drums and guitars wielded with only one thing in mind, menace. Tracks like ‘Across the Shores of Emerald Fractals’ and ‘Ornaments of Bones’ show a band evolving as much as they can within the confines of death metal, the latter opening up with 40 seconds of quiet brooding yet beautiful instrumental you would almost be forgiven for forgetting what you were listening to. Then the classic death metal arrives back in with a squeal of the guitar and drums battered in a way which makes me think of ‘Beneath the Remains’.  Add to that an ear for groove and a hook and you will be left in no doubt why these lads have something to offer.

Title track ‘Chained to Ossuaries’ goes all out to bring to the listeners all the feelings you would expect to experience if bound in a room full of bodies and bones. A brooding opening, death metal assault for panic, an almost classic heavy metal solo for the rising sense of control. Then we are back to a brooding hopelessness.  It is a track which tells a story and that is always worth the time. I would pick this to play to someone who was new to the band. We continue in a similar vein all the way to the album’s end with ‘Death’s Dawn Call’ which brought a wry smile as it kicked into gear with a cheeky pic slide.

Very much in keeping with the tone, Pyre ensures we leave the spin(and it is still a spin even if it is digital!), treated to aggression, pacing, hooks and solos. Add to that the determination to bring the heart of death metal alive, to give a horror movie a soundtrack. Pyre is not going to be tearing down any preconceptions of what death metal is, old school or new but what they are doing in ensuring it doesn’t become stale. The St. Petersburg scene has a gem on their hands.

The debut from the crushing death/doom purveyors Bewailer, ‘Where My Demise Dwells’, is a record that skimps not on the crushing misery or riffs. But is it worthy of the pantheon of the great slabs of monolithic doom or just another pretender? It is out now through Solitude Productions.

Christ, does opener ‘Thorngates’ hit you immediately or what? You can immediately feel the monstrous darkness that looms large over this record, as massive riffs lumber forward under a Akerfeldt-esque growl. There’s so much dark melody here though, weaving its way throughout the oppressive gloom. Truly great death/doom isn’t all about the brutality; it is the ability to play with emotion as well as weight. The use of acoustic guitars, female vocals and keyboards assist greatly in this. The soaring melancholy of ‘Nocturnal Sacrifice’ and the crushing ‘An Old Remembrance’ play both sides of this coin superbly, while the more traditional thunder of ‘Endless Fall’ is welcomed too.

‘Where My Demise Dwells’ is a mournful, melancholic monolith that manages to balance the more fragile moments with what feels like literally TONS of metal. If you liked the oppressive growl and crush work of Swallow the Sun but with a little more light, ‘Where My Demise Dwells’ might just be for you.

Caustic Vomit - Festering Odes to Deformity

Caustic Vomit’s demo release, ‘Festering Odes to Deformity’ has just been released by Redefining Darkness Records on cassette, and the devastating churn of this three track, 30 minute demo is magnificent. This is primal death/doom at its most atavistic.

The aptly named ‘Churning Bowel Tunnels’ feels just like that; a propulsive low end rumbling intensely underneath a nasty guitar tone and unholy growling. A set of riffs caught in a sodden, rotten burrow where it absorbs the primal hatred of the earth. When the doom parts really hit, they are almost unbearable in their weight, an oppressive force upon you. The deathly parts are short and savage, and rip through the miasma of ‘Once Coffined Malformities’ occasionally, but mostly you are suffocated with a sludgey, thick blackness that seeps into your nerves.

You aren’t quite left for dead by this record, but if there were more than three tracks you probably wouldn’t survive. Like a toxic magma flow, ‘Festering Odes to Deformity’ creeps towards you, ancient and unstoppable. Your only hope is the savage stabs of death metal cause you to burst into flame before you drown in doom.

Wombripper - From the Depths of Flesh

Were you aware that Sweden had an iconic death metal scene? Well, turns out Wombripper were, and they have taken to it like a duck to water. If that water was a chainsaw riff or 80. ‘From the Depths of Flesh’ sees these Russian death metallers channeling their inner Dismember to, well admittedly great effect. It’s out now through Redefining Darkness Records.

That opener though. Jesus, ‘Still Unborn’ basically takes every HM-2 pedal on the continent and puts a killer riff through it. Man this is a intense experience. The riffs careen towards their ultimate end, thrashing brutally fast while howling roars accompany them. The fury of this subterranean force threatens to rip through the speakers and clawhammer you to death. The band don’t just stick to that one style, even though it fills the majority of this record. There are some huge death/doom plunges into darkness, like in the superlative ‘Godless Slaughter (In the Name of Doom)’ and there is more often than not a little nod to Incantation and some old school Floridian death as well (the waspish ‘Frantic Exhumation’ aches of early Deicide).

You’re not going to find much here that is overtly original, but what you will find is an excellent example of how Swedeath can still grab you in the most visceral way. Wombripper capture a lot of that energy and atmosphere, while putting their own little touches in there to keep it interested. Basically, this is 45 minutes of rip your face off, chainsaw your balls death metal and I’m totally good with it.

Aborted Fetus - The Ancient Spirits of Decay

The gently and loving named Aborted Fetus delivered another full length of brOOtal death metal from the vile sewers of cold dark Russia. ‘The Ancient Spirits of Decay’ follows up the great ‘The Violent Art of Torture’, which I reviewed here in 2017. It’s out now on Comatose Music.

The opener ‘The Wind of Agonizing Spirits’ immediately lets you know that there’s a little more here than just chaotic brutality. The musicianship on display is varied, technical as well as chugging breakdowns, and it is almost reminiscient of latter Deicide with its lead flourishes. When the band wish to dazzle however, its with the innate heaviness that each of their releases possesses. Waves of massive riffs slam into you during the rampant ‘Nailed to the Cross’, while the crushing ‘Cradle of Revulsion’ squashes you under its boot.The vocals are brutal and guttural, but relatively understandable which is a plus, and the productions is thick and warm, giving body to each bloodstained chug.

‘The Ancient Spirits of Decay’ is a great, serpentine slab of twisting, writhing brutality that is not to be missed from 2018. Aborted Fetus write some of the most inventive and heavy music out there, and this deserves not to be lost in the shuffle.

Taiga - Cosmos

Russian black metallers Taiga’s newest record ‘Cosmos’ is another piece of the cryptic and bleak Russian black metal puzzle. Russia is a country that constantly cranks out bands of a high quality in various genres, but never seems to get the credit it deserves. ‘Cosmos’ is out now of Symbol of Domination Productions.

This is bleak, depressive black metal at it’s best,with ghostly keyboards accompanying the fiery riffing and the gloomy atmospheres. It often switches between a slower pace where the almost suicidal atmosphere is suffocating to the blasting, white hot setpieces that howl and shriek at the stars above. This dichotomy is what makes Taiga interesting to me; coupling not only the firebrand speed and rage of pure black metal but the weeping, shrieking loneliness of atmospheric black as well. Tracks like ‘Космос’ have an almost uplifting quality to them, when soaring melody drags the misery into the bright lights of day.

There’s definitely plenty of heart wrenching melancholy floating through this record, but Taiga’s grasp on the cold, desperation of life is masterful. ‘Cosmos’ builds itself within a cocoon of solitude, of darkness and of misery. Piercing through with sobbing screams, you still cannot fathom the depths of despair lurking here. Turn it on, turn it up and drift away forever…

FS Projekt is a one man fantasy metal project from Moscow, Russia and he has kindly sent me a number of his EPs and singles to review. A revolving door of musicians assist Efes in realising his ideas and vision, and by following the discography through, it is interesting to see how the project evolves over time and over each release.

His first release, ‘The Birth of a Magus’ is a simplistic yet enthralling slab of power metal with some memorable choruses and nice riffing. You can feel a definitive influence from the likes of Gamma Ray or Helloween, which gradually evolves throughout his current discography. Early on there is a tendency to rely upon a more simple framework of early German power metal, and it later builds towards a more grandiose vision. The single ‘Za Khladny Gory…’ sees that build, adding more keyboard layers into the sound.

‘The Elven March’ is where the fantasy elements start to really build, and FS Projekt begins to progress towards a more Rhapsody style execution. Uber melodic, with a massive sense of scale and huge hooks are the order of the day, while the over-the-top feeling that some symphonic power metal can be is beginning to show. ‘The Harpy’ EP is where the true potential of FS Projekt becomes apparent. Balancing the desires to fully release the symphonics with a galloping sense of melody and traditional heavy metal aesthetics, you begin to realise the potential.

The discography can be found on Bandcamp, and I recommend ‘Crimson Sails’ from ‘The Harpy, ‘Fingolfin’ from their debut and the newest single, ‘Thy Creed’ as the best songs to check out. But if you’re into this kind of thing, you won’t be disappointed with any of it!

Russian djent/math metal band SamadhiSitaram’s new record ‘Kaliyuga Babalon’ is crashing down upon us, courtesy of Sliptrick Records. This massive sounding album came out last summer, but I’ve only just got around to finding it hidden in amongst my emails. This proves there’s always a reason to go searching back in old mail sometimes!

After a dramatic, string loaded intro piece, the band kick it into thunderous djent territory with the spiralling death torrent of ‘Kali-Yuga’. Huge riffs, packed with unimaginable groove and off kilter timing, cascade upon you while a Nergal-like vocal performance adds similar heft. The monstrous chug of ‘The Death of a Stone’ is devastating, stabbing outward with solo leads. Electronic, almost 8bit sounds bleep across juddering machine-like riffing, and you can feel an underlying Fear Factory influence creeping into the Meshuggahisms. ‘Kaliyuga Babalon’ is designed as if a soulless machine that has perfected the churning maelstrom of death.

Chunky, dense and ruthless, SamadhiSitaram apply a cold and ruthless streak to the often ethereal and open genre of djent. This is death metal laced with unfeeling technical knowhow. It feels claustrophobic, crushing and during the mammoth ‘Orgy (Ritual Babalon), ritualistic in its single mindedness. Rare moments of space and melody appear, but this is a constricting, serpentine display of sheer brute force.

Vhorthax Cover.jpg

Russian black/death annihilators Vhorthax formed in 2016 with only one thing in mind; providing us with the intonations of Satan through the medium of harsh, savage blackened death metal. ‘Nether Darkness’ is due to launch at the start of January 2018 on Iron Bonehead, and it is six tracks to start your new year with a bang.

Bookended by traditional intro and outros of morbid and evil intent, ‘Nether Darkness’ is mostly as you’d expect of a black/death release on Iron Bonehead; a cacophony of pure Devil worshipping demonic metal. ‘The Levitating Tomb’ is a thick, crawling track with a rusty guitar tone and a bile drenched vocal. You ever come across a track that feels slow even when you’re assaulted by blastbeats? This is it. The pace is dirging but the atmosphere is oily and dense. Vhorthax stand out from the legions of black/death bands due to the quality of the production (crisp and clear) and also their pace. Proving you can be just as effective at a trot as a gallop, ‘Nether Darkness’ is brutally efficient.

Of course, the thrashy ‘Thy Foul Graal’ shows that Vhorthax can do both equally well, but I prefer the slower and more intense stuff. The crowning of this EP is the excellent, maddening miasma of ‘The Vessel of the Trinity’, that is a track that will invade your mind and poison your soul. ‘Nether Darkness’ is a triumph, and I look forward to more to come from these Russians.

Cover art

Serpentrance have crawled from ancient Russian voids to belch forth their debut EP ‘The Besieged Sanctum’, first released in 2015, and now being rereleased by Blood Harvest Records. It’ll be out on the 10th November, and is probably one of the most devastating releases of 2017.

Opener ‘Sin’ is a growling, lumbering beast of horrendous black/death metal; riffs hewn from the abyss crash upon you while a fell voice utters atrocities that wind around blasting drums and crawling riffs. This trade off between ferocity and slow doomy passages gives way to fears of what these rituals will draw forth, especially with that toll of the bell at the start of the frantic ‘The Aphotic Temple’. Serpentrance are indeed like their name; a snake like entity that moves with dark grace but waits with evil intent to snag you and entrance your mind. Hypnotic dirges leave you little light or air to survive on, and the titanic miasma of ‘Among the Timeless Tombs’ is the high point.

‘The Besieged Sanctum’ is a piece of art; devastating extremity layered with massive low end, brutal vocals and a vibrant yet crushing riff set that will strike fear into the hearts of men. Serpentrance are chaos, death and abyssal evil, and this release is the epitome of those principles.