Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

This is a new thing I’m trying out, where I find a band that I have never heard of before, and probably who are split up and their stuff has become impossible to find/buy for a reasonable price. This week: Catacomb, blackened death metal from France, a new haven of aural devastation with the rise of Deathspell Omega and Gojira. But in 1993, Catacomb released ‘In the Maze of Kadath’, an EP of horrifying, suffocating death metal. Lovecraftian in inspiration, and definitely of the Old Ones in sound, ‘In the Maze of Kadath’ is an undiscovered gem to me. If this came out now, I’d regard it as special. It has that one thing that many new death metal bands are going for, and that’s atmosphere. It’s eerie, reeking of evil and ancient malevolence. The cover is of the Elder God Chthulu, rising from the ocean to spread madness. The striking greyscale cover marks it out from day-glo blood splatter death metal records, and the sound contained within is definitely of a different quality.

I found the EP in full on YouTube which I have linked below, for me the stand out tracks being the harrowing ‘Hallucinated Mountains’ and the crawling ‘Nemesis’. A must for all old school death metal fans

Now this, this was a strange purchase. I was YouTube surfing looking for some other obscure band’s single that I’d seen on Facebook, and Far Beyond’s ‘Mournful Abyss’ was featured as a recommended video down the side. Now, normally I don’t go for those kinda things, until recently I didn’t look for music on YouTube unless it involved hot Korean pop stars but that’s another long story. It was simply the song with the album cover as the ‘video’, as many of these tracks seem to be these days. I was drawn to it because the album art reminded me in some way of Wintersun’s self titled, although looking at it now I’m not entirely sure why. Anyway, I digress. So I listened to this track, and was pretty impressed by it, so I figured, I’ll add it to my list of records to get a hold of and listen to, see if the rest of it was as good. I was also browsing Amazon at the time and ‘amazoned’ it (its like googling something, but for AmazonĀ  (patent pending on that term)). There it was, whole album for 96p excluding P&P. 96p?? Even if I only liked the one song, then it was still worth a punt.

Turns out I like the whole album, quite a bit. Far Beyond are German and they play black metal with a lot of melody and symphonic elements. Now, that general genre can either be brilliant or terrible. Fortunately, this falls on the good side, simply due to the stellar guitar work and the fact that the symphonic elements enhance rather than overawe. In fact, after listening to it through, the sound is very reminiscient of Wintersun without being derivative. It’s really in the harshness of the vocals where the band become black metal; many of their riffs seem much more melodic death metal than black metal. ‘Mournful Abyss’ in particular has a pronounced galloping opening, before branching into a very melodic section, with some fantastic guitarwork. It then plunges back into a more straightforward assault, before dipping back into organ led melodies.

This variety appears in every song on the record, from the rampaging ‘Prophecy of Salvation’ to the more symphony led ‘The Ancient Realms’. Piano led instrumentals, such as ‘Tribute to Resurrection’, add an extra element to break up the songs, which for me enhances their overall presentation. Too many symphonic black metal bands can overdo the orchestral flourishes (some Dimmu Borgir records are VERY guilty of this) but Far Beyond use it to minimal effect. The guiter melodies and riffs are what really works for me here, they’re very organic and not at all one dimensional. They ebb and flow, taking a less is more approach sometimes and a full on blitzkrieg at others.

It’s a strangely uplifting black metal album, one that isn’t afraid to wear some power metal influences on its blackened sleeve, but is reserved enough to understand the nuances in using keyboards as enhancement to the guitars, not as replacements. ‘An Angel’s Requiem’ is perfectly summed up by its titanic midpoint, ‘Dream in Beautiful Slumber’; an album that combines both the ethereal and the blackest of riffs to create something special. It is a travesty that I haven’t heard this until now, and if you haven’t, then do what you can to find it. If you can still get it for 96p on Amazon, it’s one of the best bargains you’ll ever find.