Friday, 26 April 2013

Barshasketh - Sitra Achra

Todestrieb Records 2013
1.Sitra Achra 2.Malaise 3.L'Ange du Meridien 4.Bitter Sagacity
5.Sonnets To Orpheus 6.Leaden Horizon 7.Schlußstück
Classical guitars introduce first track 'Sitra Achra' in quite a strange fashion as they sound a little different to what you would expect from acoustic guitars on a black metal album, but maybe that’s the intention, to be different. It's not long before the bleak black metal music opens up in a depressing malaise, slow, mournful and tortured would probably describe the music best. It's quite a strange opening track which is comprised of three elements; the acoustic classical guitar intro, the slow mournful middle section and then ending on an almost progressive note, with the guitar work sounding quite unconventional and not sitting particularly well with the rest of the song. It's not until 'Malaise' spews forth its brutal, raw and hateful black metal that musically we're in more familiar territory. Snarled rasping vocals belch their hateful rants, the drums blast unmercifully at full speed whilst the buzz-saw tremolo picked guitars really set a blistering pace. Variety is added pace wise when the track slows to an almost Burzum-esque crawl which really adds an epic edge to the song and the main riff used is extremely catchy, whilst remaining full on black metal. The songsends on a real high, returning to the hellish blast beat filled sections with some excellent guitar harmonies to be heard, again, catchy bordering on the epic. 'L'Ange Du Meridien' is another extremely catchy and memorable track with high end tremolo picked guitars and raging drums providing a brutal yet mournfully atmospheric soundtrack. As ever, the harsh snarling vocals are there, almost in the background bellowing hate and disgust. Again, if comparisons were needed, then musically newer Burzum would be not too far off the mark, Barshasketh opt for a bit more melody to their sound with the production being the right side of 'raw' without sounding purposely shit. 'Bitter Sagacity' really punishes once more, more hate-filled black metal played at break neck pace which makes for a really savage offering. There really isn’t any let up in the pace of the track, its blast beats all the way which accompany melodic, yet savage black metal guitars. As the song draws to a close, the pace is relinquished and the mid-paced epicness returns. Again, the riffs used to end the track are amazingly catchy and this is epic black metal at its best. 'Sonnets To Orpheus' is the longest track of the album, clocking in at almost eight minutes but its one of those tracks that doesn’t feel too long or that has been written this length on purpose just to impress. This is such an impressive song, so emotional and atmospherically epic it really is excellent. Different paces are used well, ranging from a doomy crawl packed full of bitterness and anger all the way through to the hyper fast blast beat filled sections. Very impressive!
'Leaden Horizon' is yet more of the same, following on masterfully from the previous track. As is becoming the norm, there really isn’t any let up, this is black metal at its most dangerous, its sounds absolutely deadly yet still manages to retain its sense of melody through the fast guitar work. The vocals are especially stand out, rasping and snarling throughout the entire album, its a cliché but they are hate-filled, full of scorn and bitterness, as you would expect. What sets the band apart from many black metal bands around today is when the pace is dropped right down; the epic atmospheres they create are ice-cold and mournfully epic – and catchy! The Kvlt may not enjoy the word 'catchy' for a black metal album, but this really is. It's a fucking 'joy' to listen to, another word not normally associated with black metal. Final track 'Schlußstück' is testament to the bands ability to slow a song down to allow the menacing atmosphere to draw the listener in to the hatred, the first two minutes of the track absolutely punishing. The song then breaks out into the faster pace which really builds the track up into a frenzy. As the song slowly draws to a close the pace is dropped once again which allows the epic atmospheres to really build the tension and end things on a high. Again, its amazingly catchy, its epic and its a fitting end to a stunning album. Barshasketh have released an amazing black metal album, packed full of harsh atmospheres with melodies that are instantly memorable and catchy. Used a lot in this review, 'epic' best describes much of this album. The musicianship on show is first rate and its not an over exaggeration to say that this is some of the best black metal i've heard for quite some time. Originally from New Zealand, but now based in Edinburgh it might explain the fact that the bands brand of black metal is quite unique for these shores and is why this album comes very highly recommended.
9 out of 10

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Scordatura - Torment Of The Weak

Self Released 2012
1.Necromantic Disposition 2.Visceral Disembowelment 3.Neurotic Aberattion
4.Torment Of The Weak 5.Back To Crack 6.Incestual Convulsion
7.Sutured Flesh 8.From Chin To Hole
As is so usual for a death metal album, Scordatura have chosen to go down the 'Horror Movie' sampled intro which rather than sounding old and cliched actually sets a really foreboding atmosphere and introduces the music to 'Necromantic Disembowlement' very well. Their sound is influenced massively by U.S Death metal with heavy as fuck guitars accompanied by some really frantic drumming. Musically there is a real groove to the bands sound, especially when the pace is dropped to a slower, sludgy crawl. They do mix paces well, moving from slower sections all the way through to rabid blast beat laden passages which gives the band a sound not unlike U.S veterans Malevolent Creation. 'Visceral Disembowlement' follows and opens up in a barrage of blast beats and follows on in similar fashion to the opener, mixing paces well with the groove based death metal at the core of the bands sound. As the track develops the pace is dropped somewhat, the band preferring to utilise the slower themes which actually gives the song a really morbid sound. 'Neurotic Aberation' has a much more frantic feel, jumping crazily all over the place without losing its heavy death core. A relatively short song it ends on the frantic theme and jumps perfectly into title track 'Torment Of The Weak' which carries on the crazed and frantic sound. The song has a real sense of urgency to it and sees the faster blast beat sections being introduced in short, sharp bursts before returning to the slower, groove laden heavy death metal sections. Another relatively short track it is over in a flash.
'Back To Crack' is another slower to mid-paced track which sees the U.S death metal influence in full swing, pinch harmonics prevalent as are the comparsions to Malevolent Creation once again. Dipping under the three minute mark, its another short, sharp lesson is bludgeoning death metal that leaves you pummelled into the ground. There is no let up in the barrage as 'Incestual Convulsion' blasts straight in and once again its another absolutely pummelling track that gives the listener little respite from the sonic mauling Scordatura are dishing out. 'Sutured Flesh' carries on the theme heard in the six songs before it but with a much more old school death metal feel to it. Vocally the majority of the album has been filled with guttural death metal vocals that have been accompanied with the higher screamed style sporadically, but here vocalist Daryl mixes the vocals a lot more. Dual vocals are used throughout much of the song which although nothing new, really adds a new edge to the bands sound, giving them an almost 'deadly feel. Last (bonus) track 'From Chin To Hole' ends this debut album extremely well, utilising all of the bands influences and sounds heard throughout the seven previous tracks very well. The track ends with an almost 'epic' feel to it, the guitar harmonies used to end things start to  become extremely catchy. It has taken these Scottish bruisers some time to release their debut album, but the wait was most definitely well worth it. From start to finish this album batters you into submission with its (musical) chewed up bloody stump. Heavily influenced by U.S death metal, it shows a band that have produced a fantastic death metal album and whilst it may not be anything completely new, the intensity and heaviness captured within all eight songs is more than enough to make this album stand out. Brutal, intense and pounding, this album was worth the wait and comes well recommended.
7.5 out of 10

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Reflection In Exile - The Insufferable Darkness

Self Released 2012
1.Disarray (Intro) 2.The Insufferable Darkness 3.Astray From The Light
4.The Blackened Standard 5.The Decaying Process
Short intro track 'Disarray' sets a gloomy and morbid atmosphere and introduces 'The Insufferable Darkness' perfectly. Blasting open furiously in a storm of melodic, yet vicious blackened death metal there is a really 'big' sound to this monstrous opener. Extreme metal titans 'Behemoth' immediately spring to mind, especially vocally with the dual vocals being unleashed with absolute spite and malice. Musically there are comparisons to Behemoth as well, the band moving from faster blast sections down into the slower more morbid passages extremely well; proving they are able to mix and utilise tempos and styles very well rather than just blasting from start to finish. As the track draws to a close there is a melodic 'strings' section which introduces 'Astray From The Light' very professionally. This is another monster of a track with the hate-filled dual vocals once again being used heavily throughout and as before tempos are mixed well. When the song does slow down, there is a really epic feel and sound. There's are real 'tightness' on show which is testament to the bands abilities, obviously accomplished musicians and well practised with their chosen instruments.
'The Blackened Standard' follows on in seamless fashion and begins life in really brutal fashion, there’s an extremely fast tempo set to the opening riffs here. The song does then drop the pace, but not for very long which ensures the momentum created at the start of the song is not lost. There's a slightly less black metal edge to the guitar riffs here, death metal the more prevalent influence and sounding quite similar to Germany's Dew Scented. Definitely the stand out song so far! There's no time to draw breath as 'The Decaying Process' ends this short e.p. Again, there are huge 'Behemoth' comparsions on show, especially when the music drops off and the dual vocals are left to their own devices, to spit yet more malice and hatred from the speakers. As with the previous three songs, tempos have been varied well. There's never any real 'mid-paced' sections, its either one or the other with these lads, fast blast sections or slow, monstrous and heavy as hell sections, which to be fair works very well. Only four tracks on offer, but what great tracks they all are. Yes, there are obvious comparisons to the Polish gods of death/black extremity, but Reflection In Exile have managed to show off their influences without becoming a copycat and unoriginal band. As mentioned previously, the musicianship is first rate, with the band showing a real degree of technical prowess underneath all the brutality. Refreshing to hear from a young UK band. Four tracks of technical and brutal extreme death/black metal, 'The Insufferable Darkness' is an outstanding e.p that shows a band with huge potential to go onto bigger and better things. This release was free with Terrorizer Magazine, so many people reading this will have already heard it. If you haven’t, get a copy, you will not be disappointed. Highly recommended
8.5 out of 10

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Featured Band - Dead Aeon

Ireland's Dead Aeon have recently released their debut e.p. 'Apotheosis', featuring five tracks of scathing blackened death metal. UKEM decided it was time to get to know this relatively young band a bit better.....
For those unfamiliar with the band, please give us a brief history of the band?
Dead Aeon are a blackened death metal band from Monaghan, Ireland. Formed in mid 2008, the band began as a cover band. After extensive gigging across the country, establishing ourselves as a band that could execute covers with precision, we started work on our own music. We recorded our debut EP, entitled “Apotheosis” in July of 2012 and released it on the 24th of November of that year. We have been constantly gigging across the country to promote “Apotheosis”, playing with world renowned acts such as Anaal Nathrakh (UK) and Christ Agony (Pol), as well as the country’s biggest metal acts such as Warpath and Putrefy. “Apotheosis” continues to get outstanding reviews and due to the success of the EP, we shot official music videos for the tracks “Rise To Power” and “Mass Culture Theory” that have collectively gained over 4000 views.
Introduce us to each of the band members!
Jack Penders - Vocals
Chris Winsryg - Guitar
Dan Doherty - Bass
Evan McGuigan - Drums

Who came up with the band name and what is the influence behind choosing such a moniker?
It was our drummer Evan, who came up with the name Dead Aeon. At the time of choosing a new band name, our music was getting noticeably darker and dirtier. We wanted a name that would portray and mimic the darker side of music that we were going for and Dead Aeon fit that perfectly.
You have recently released your debut e.p 'Apotheosis', how has this been received so far?
So far the EP has been received with much praises. We are immensely proud of it and the reviews we have received are very encouraging.

Musically, who influences you, if anyone at all?
Individually we all have our own influenced but as a band, our main influences would be the likes of Decapitated, Behemoth, Gojira, Meshuggah and Enslaved.When it comes to writing we like to blend our collective influences and churn out something different. We strive for the combination of power, groove, speed and atmosphere.

What themes and topics do your lyrics deal with?
On the "Apotheosis" EP, the lyrics are predominantly anti-religion and anti-oppression. In future songs we'd like to expand our lyrical themes and cover subjects like the human psyche and even environmental issues.
Composing songs can often be a frustrating process, how do you go about it?
Our guitarist Chris writes the bones of each song, constructing riffs and various structures. We then bring them into the practice space where everyone has an input as to how the song should go or whether anything needs changed. In the past we have learnt that trial and error is the best way to write a song, so every idea we have, we attempt.Due to this, we feel the final product is as good as it can be, which is exactly what we strive for.

What could we expect from one of your live performances?
We put everything into our live performances, whether it be in front of 10 people or 100 people. Whatever the situation we give it our all.
We have received a reputation for being a formidable live band and we our very proud of that.
Plans for the future?
We are currently writing the material for our next release, which we hope to record next year. We are also looking at playing shows in mainland UK late this year or early next year. We are hoping to expand our fan base to more than just Ireland. Achieving a following in mainland Europe would help us achieve our goal of becoming a full time touring band.
What merch do you currently have available and where can we get it?
Currently at our Big Cartel, accessible through our facebook page, we have our EP on sale. We also have a limited edition "Rise To Power" T-Shirt available to preorder.We hope to be adding more to our store in the future.
Any final words?
In the next month or two Dead Aeon will be releasing a couple of special tracks, recorded recently, so keep an eye out!
Self Released 2012
1.Omnicide 2.Mass Culture Theory 3.All Shall Fade
4.Rise To Power 5.Veins Of The Earth
Ireland's Dead Aeon introduce their debut e.p 'Apotheosis' in a vicious assault of blackened death metal with opener 'Omnicide' spitting scornfully out of the speakers from the instant the disc starts spinning. There are underlying tones of melody to the bands sound, being very Swedish black/death metal in it's delivery. Harsh scathing dual vocals are delivered with pure malice over the top of some very well played blackened extreme metal. Although brutal, this opener sees a mix of paces being utilised, the song remaining mid-paced throughout much of its duration. Blast beats are used, and used well, but they never overpower the song. The opening signs are good for the remainder of this disc. 'Mass Culture Theory' bursts open in another Swedish inspired black/death metal assault. The pace to the opening riff quite frantic. The song then takes on a really menacing sound, with the pace being dropped right down which allows a brooding atmosphere to develop the song and sets a really dark tone. The guitars do sound a lot more sinister here but do still retain their sense of melody which gives it that 'swedish sound' and the darker atmospheres are retained well. As with the opener, tempos are mixed well, faster blast beat laden sections are introduced, but used sparingly and only when necessary. 'All Shall Fade' begins as the last track left off, a slower pace being used, the darker sound being utilised well. There is an almost 'Orchestral' feel to the opening riffs of this track, sampled orchestra instruments (wind instruments and kettle drums) being used alongside the guitars which is actually very similar to Abigor, even though the band don't actually sound like them. There's a similarity in the use of the orchestral sections, nothing more than that. Through the use of the higher end tremolo picked guitars and sampled orchestral instruments, Dead Aeon take on a much more black metal feel here and given the fact this track is the longest on offer, it only adds to the more black metal feel and sound.
'Rise To Power' begins with the slower, darker, more brooding sound heard earlier but this doesn't last long, harsher blast beat sections are introduced to add pace and inject a bit of urgency into the song which to be fair is needed. The band are definitely at their best when they up the pace, sounding an altogether more menacing band when they do. Having said that,when they do drop the pace and allow the dark atmospheres to envelop the songs, there is a real originality to their sound, especially when the orchestral samples are then introduced. Final track 'Veins Of The Earth' is another dark and brooding affair with tempos snapping from blast beats down to a slower crawl in an instant before introducing the more mid-paced atmospheric sections, a mix of everything heard so far. This definitely sounds like the closing track of the e,p, there's a sense of foreboding, feeling and sounding like this piece of music is going to be the last thing you hear on this miserable earth. A sense of trepidation, that something nasty is building. Dead Aeon have produced a very impressive debut e.p. They have taken quite a while to get to this point, but good things come to those who wait. Some of the atmospheres created are remarkably unique, utilising the 'orchestral' sampled sounds very well which only adds to the dark and menacing sounds being created. There are a variety of influences on show, Swedish death/black metal being the over-riding sound with tempos and pace also being varied well and this will probably appeal to many an extreme metal fan. Well played extreme black/death metal with a menacing undercurrent of hatred and anguish, 'Apotheosis' is a valiant effort that definitely deserves your attention.
7.5 out of 10
Band Page: Here