Friday, January 28, 2022

RatHive - Realization

 


RatHive is a instrumental doom metal band hailing from Bielefeld, Germany. This is the latest in a long list of releases. Following much of the same pattern of previous releases, this is a laid back, smooth guitar licks, and a slow and steady drum beat. There isn't much else to say really, its extremely straight forward, and for those who enjoy long winded improvised instrumentals this might be something to check out.

Starting out, I gotta say I love the tone and the production of the over all release. Only sporting two tracks, both well over the ten minute mark, its almost like listening to a long creative exercise. You hear the ideas there. The guitar licks are smooth, heavy, and have a great all around vibe to it all. But, at times it almost feels like its lacking something a bit more. The drums, are fairly straight forward. Rarely deviating from the same beat, especially on the first track. Throw in a few fills and a couple of different cymbals in there and call it a day, really. The music's main focus for sure are the guitars. And, honestly, if kept in the background of a dimly lit smoke session with you and some friends, especially with a black light and psychedelic posters all around, it'd almost be a shame to not have something like this playing.

I personally love these type of albums as its something very easy to keep on in the background as a loop. The first track Guilt is my favorite. I think its the most complete and has the most coherent song structure to it all. As I mentioned before, its clearly improvised. The ideas were there, and they must've decided to simply play it out and see where it leads them. Its for sure catchy, and would get stuck in my head in a loop all day for sure. But, its not the type of listen to sit down and give it your full attention as you'd be wanting for more. Especially towards the end, where I feel like they just gave up and ended the track. Its a little strange, and probably not for everyone, but I found my self enjoying it, and even joining along on my own bass, noodling away on it much like the guitarist.

The second track, Gratitude, is a bit harder to listen to. It starts out kinda cool, the drums slow down much more, and the guitars have this almost underwater effect to it, giving it a very heavy tone to it. Its continuing the same notes and rhythm from the first track. But what threw me off on this track was how the drums kept picking up speed and started to change up, which you'd think would be a good thing, but really doesn't sound as good. Again, I think its just the lack of structure to it, and the production on the double bass kick towards the end was kind of hard to listen to.

All in all, its a solid album. I've found my self enjoying it, but I wouldn't say its the strongest in RatHive's catalog. Its great for putting on in the background and enjoying the all around vibe of the whole thing. If you're expecting mind blowing instrumentation or a deep and philosophical concept to the whole thing, don't bother. Its a solid easy listening, head bobbing album that gets the foot tapping and the creative juices flowing. Give it a shot if it sounds like your thing.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pi Fire – Under The Roses

 


Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee comes the absurdist, extremely talented, and to quote from their Bandcamp page, 'read to destroy whatever preconceptions you may have had for the night'. They were not only able to destroy the preconceptions I've had of the band, but they were able to do so in a way that made me go back, pick up the pieces and destroy them again because these guys blew it out of the water. If you're the type of person who just has to label a band and give them some sorta genre title, 'punk' would be the loosest thing I'd be able to give them. But don't expect your typical d-beat and shouted vocals. These guys fuse so much together to create such a unique sound that is really theirs.

The album has an almost Meat Puppets vibe to the whole thing thanks in part to the twangy southern guitars that greet you in the opening track but soon morphs into a fast paced and wickedly loud punk rock track that'll knock the wind out of you if you weren't paying attention. But there's more to it than just southern music and punk fusing. Musically, I don't think there's one down side of the album. Each member brings it their all and really pour themselves into the music. The guitars are angry, punchy, and really in your face. The drums aren't just there to be there, but have some rather creative moments and you can really tell they were having fun making this whole album. The vocals and the bass are some of my favorite bits of the album. The hefty and rumbling bass lines really gives the music its weight, if they didn't make the bass as prominent as it is in the album, I don't think the music would have the same sorta impact as it does. The vocals are another piece that I just love. Very punky, almost sing-songy at times. But still full of rage and almost a sense of nihilistic fun mixed in as well. I honestly couldn't have pictured any other style of vocals over these tracks. I'd be disappointed if they didn't have this tang of angst and tongue and cheek.

The song writing is extremely creative. Not one song sounds alike, but yet they all still sound very coherent with one another and keep a sort of musical theme going on all through out. There are some rather slower tracks, where the guitars really let go and stretch its legs and are able to really present its self in all of its glory. To the more fast paced punk tracks that just hit you over the head over and over again til you submit. The album all through out really keeps you on your toes, not sure what to expect next. A great example of this is the seventh track Planet of Exultant Scum. This track is the longest on the album going on for about six and a half minutes, but it really shows the musical range of these guys. From the more punk and hard hitting bits, to the slower and at times almost jazzy bits that pokes its head up on some of the previous tracks as well. But the transition in between each piece is just flawless and they're all performed fantastically.

I've had loads of fun listening to this album. Another incredibly impactful release so early in the year. Makes me excited to see what else this year has in hold not only for Pi Fire, but for the musical world in general. This might go down as one of my top albums of the year for certain, and for those who don't mind stepping outside of the metal world, or aren't so much into metal. Do give this album a try as I think it has a little something for everyone.

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Festung - Der Turm

 


Hailing from the Germanic homelands, Festung presents us with their first full-length offering Der Turm. This is coming from a huge step forward from their previous self titled demo release, as the production quality is much higher, but still retaining the very raw and atmospheric qualities of it all. The song writing, while similar, simply excels much more in Der Turm. The fusions of dungeon synth and black metal is a nice touch, and adds to the medieval aesthetic this act is putting out. A very strong release.


This album runs on for quite a bit, just shy of an hour and a half. But don't let the length discourage you, as its quite the experience from front to back. The first track
Mauer is, in my opinion, quite the display for the range that this band and album is able to put out. Starting almost ethereal and very atmospheric quickly devolves into a brutish and darker sound, especially right when the vocals hit in. It just nails the emotion so well. The track goes on for about twenty minutes, with different riffs and guitar pieces all intermingling with one another to create a rather beautiful, albeit, extremely crushing sound. There are calmer ambient dungeon synth parts that help break up the intense guitars and drums, especially towards the end of the track, when the chanting begins. Quite the unnerving but calming feeling it builds.

The rest of the tracks follow a similar formula. Some being straight black metal tracks, with incredible guitar and drum works, while others taking the dark ambient route. Infusing dungeon synth like atmosphere and droning synths that create for an almost psychedelic and dream like feeling while listening to it all. I've found my personal favorite track to be the second track Jericho. Its a short track, running on for just under two minutes, but, its the performance on it that completely blew me away. For the most part its a droney, ambient, track. Opening with trumpet synths but transforming into roaring guitar feed-back that is trying to cover up the incredible improvised drum solo. The first time I went through this album, I didn't pay attention. But after giving it a couple of listens and really giving this track my attention I was just impressed by the drumming going on here. Which makes sense as through out the album the drums were just consistently on point and simply killed it.

The guitars, though, did carry the album. There's a fine line between being catchy and yet still keeping the dark and brooding nature of the genre its self still intact. I've found many of these songs trapped in my head, repeating over and over again. Not satisfied until I'm able to listen to the album again and get that itch.

For being released so early on in the year, I was really blown away by what I heard. This is a band that I'll be sure to keep a very close eye on, and found my self really wanting more from these guys. There's just so much detail and little things all through out the album that really made this such a fun listen. Especially if listened to multiple times over. You'll begin to pick up things you missed the first time. Highly recommend giving this album a listen as this band for sure should be making waves within the underground.

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

BDSM Black Metal Hellfire – Gimp

 Hailing from the mighty Oregon underground comes Gimp and their debut EP BDSM Black Metal Hellfire. Its not that often you come across a name like that. Clearly, the band's lyrical themes are based around, you guessed it, BDSM and other such perversions. Its rather fitting in a way. All the leather, straps, and chains really makes completes the image once you slather some corpse paint and call it a day. But image aside, the music at hand here is very well executed and hard hitting black metal with some rather heavy punk influence.


After the synth heavy introduction, you're lead by the nose into an ear rattling guitar, and chest shaking blast beats. The production is extremely well done here, especially the subtle use of synths to help keep it somewhat melodic, though not over bearing the other instruments, save for the transitional parts that introduce that the band can really kill it with the slower sections. The vocals are rather iconic black metal style. Harsh, guttural, and ugly. The lyrics are, honestly, rather hilarious to read through. They were gracious enough to provide some lyrics on their Bandcamp page, and man, is it dirty. Can't think of any other bands that really get sexual in their lyrics. But besides that, they're executed very well within in the music, and just adds to the all around perverse atmosphere.

The guitars are honestly some of my favorite parts of the album. Going by Sadist, they're able to really kill it, having clean and memorable riffs but still keeping it ugly and having a rather heavy bite. There's also something rather demented to it. Manic, almost. But, they're able to keep it fresh, even with the somewhat lengthy track lengths. Three out of five run well over five minutes, but its done very well, with many timing changes, vocal changes, going from iconic black metal to deep, guttural death metal style. The bass, provided by Shibari, are also well executed. Being a major support for the guitars and even having their own little melodic bits. Very punkish, and helps with the all around vibe of the release.

This is a very solid debut EP all around. Its just performed all around very well, and the whole BDSM shtick really is as good match with black metal stylistically. Easily the best track off this EP was
Infernal Orgy Fuck, and I think really showcases the bands best abilities all around. Makes me really look forward to what more perverse tracks of horror they can provide in the future.

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Death Dreams during Cryostasis – Zebulon Kosted

 Hailing from the United States Zebulon Kosted has been traveling the dark underground for quite some time and boasting a rather lengthy discography that's a mixture of black metal, doom metal, ambient snyth, and even some folk of a darker nature. All of it centered around the mysteries of space and the life that could be creeping somewhere deep within the universe. The band is centered around one man, Rashid Abdel Ghafur, who provides all the instruments for the band. His latest release Death Dreams During Cryostasis is a rather interesting album that is able to present you with most of the genre influences I mentioned above.

Going in at first I wasn't too sure what to expect. With being described as 'Interdimensionalism' by Rashid, it really sparks the imagination and really gets your thoughts rolling. The first track is a rather somber but melodic acoustic instrumental. It has a very rustic and natural ambiance thanks to the rather deep and bassy acoustic guitars. Its a major change to the following track Again and Again which is an eerie and rather psychedelic ambient track that is littered with the sound of bugs, both natural and synth, a frightening guitar riff that repeats the same set of notes, go figure, again and again.. It really sets up the atmosphere well, especially with the whispered vocals, speaking of twisted dreams and nightmares. Its unsettling and very well done. The following track is again, another ambient track, this one boasting more synths and really pushes that scifi space theme going on. This track however, seemed almost lighthearted and dream like. Its the calm before the storm..

The fourth track of the album,
Death Dreams During Cryostasis, was very hard to listen to. I am going to be very blunt here, its not good. Its a mess of a black metal track, with the drums and guitars seemingly out of sync with one another, almost causing panic to the listener not in a pleasant way. It seemed almost amateurish, or a joke especially once the vocals kicked in. Maybe I just don't get it, but going back over the discography and listening to tracks that were more centered around black metal, I was rather shocked with how much of a downgrade it is. The vocals were pretty good though, if they were perhaps in a different setting. And there were some redeeming guitar moments and weird little melodic rhythms. I guess it fits the name that it was given, a deathlike dream that you can't escape from due to being stuck in a icy tomb. Maybe that is what he was aiming for, but I just couldn't understand it personally.

The following two tracks then abruptly changes back to the more subdued ambient tracks of before. Except this time there's this lingering dread and darkness over it all. The synths are much more heavy and over bearing, and the sixth track incorporates a dark and dissonant guitars. In fact the second half of the album, past the fourth track, mirrors the first three tracks. Even the last track being a dark and hypnotic acoustic guitar track. Its rather clever and very well done.

All in all this album is very strange. It left me scratching my head, but definitely is making me want to go back into this band's discography and giving it a good listen. There are many interesting ideas here and at times, this album can be rather soothing, especially the third track
It Flies its Self, one of my favorites and I will for sure be returning back to this release. But, again, the fourth track is extremely jarring and really threw me off the first time around. After a few more listens it kinda makes sense, if you give into the suspension of disbelief here and get into the mindset of someone trapped in a spaceship stuck in a frozen slumber, dreaming of death. And soon awakening to some cosmic doom. Give it a listen and you'll see for your self.


Endless Nothing - From the Darkest Depths

 Crawling forth from the darkness of the underground, two wicked entities have come together in collaboration to form Endless Nothing, a nihilistic look into the darkness of the mind. Going by B.M, has teamed up with D.O (of Febris Manea) to spew forth vitriol and hatred to those brave enough to give From the Darkest Depths a listen.

Right off the bat, this is an incredibly solid debut. The first thing I did notice is just how similar the production is compared to Febtis Manea which, isn't that much of a surprise as he does help provide guitar parts and the production. But that doesn't mean B.M's vocal deliverance performance should be dismissed. The vocals are incredibly harsh and filled with intense emotion and really pairs well with D.O's rather iconic, claustrophobic guitar playing. It almost creates this sense of panic, as if something has grabbed you by the throat and just won't let go. Squeezing ever so tightly until the air is snuffed out of you.

The heavy use of synths and more ambient parts of the album are also very well executed. Especially on the last track Into The Void. Its a 7 minute opus of pure madness. With the metal parts split up in between these incredibly eerie ambient noises that really gets the nihilistic thoughts flowing. Its almost like a false sense of relief from the rather constant pounding of guitar riffs and drums. Which isn't a bad thing. In fact it only helps with the atmosphere this album builds. No remorse what so ever. The guitar riffs and the small solo towards the end of the track is also some of the best guitar work on the album, and in my opinion some of D.O's best stuff. This really goes to show just how important it is to have two like minds working in tandem instead of working against each other. These two just play so well together and when combined really makes some far out there stuff that I find simply addicting.

I did find that the album felt rather short. But, it did leave a major impact. I found this album to be incredibly well put together and at times rather catchy. Especially the title track Endless Nothing, where the guitar riffs and the hellish screeching just gets drilled into your head and possessing your mind. I personally have not found much out there that really emulates this sort of sound and I find that so important. They stand out amongst the sea of vampyric nonsense to really give a sense of grounding and still giving respect to the genre its self. Stretching it to its proper extremes and not just combining random thoughts and ideas into one strange mashup. What this album does is what the underground should sound like.

This release isn't for the likes of everyone. Especially those who are more lighthearted. But, everyone should give this a listen. Its important to stare into the darkest depths of the void because you'll never know who or what would be staring back.


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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Navalum — On The Threshold of Creation

 Navalum, a black metal two-piece band hailing from Indonesia present us with their first full length offering On the Threshhold of Creation. This is a very primal album, dripping with pride and primal energy that is very much reflected in its production. There are some folk and melodic influences through out the album, though its not many and sticks to the hard hitting riffs and blast beats, which are par for the course save for the guitar riffs. This was an album that came out towards the tail end of last year but had slipped under my radar, but I am thankful for coming back to it now, this is a very good and memorable album.

The rough production style is what greets you first. I say rough not in a disparaging way, but rough in a way that really gives the guitars and drums a deeper and almost warm feeling to it all. The bass drums are very hardy, really giving the entire album a big 'OOMPH' that rattles one to the core. The guitars are played so relaxed and laid back, but there's still this edge that really packs a punch. The riffs them selves are very well crafted. Melodic and somber and filled with immense emotion. There was a lot of heart put into this album that's for sure. The vocals are strained chants that call out deep into the night, calling back towards the band's tribal ancestors.

Continuing on that note, the album has very much a tribal theme to it all. As coming from the band, “This album is based on the way of life of the ancestral tribe in Sumba Island, Indonesia” and personally I think they were able to nail the vibe. The entire album feels like some sort of forgotten anthem for the tribes. A uniting force that comes through the music and its all thanks to the clever melodic riffs they were able to write. What helps as well is how the songs them selves are structured in a way that flow into one another very organically. Which, I think is a perfect word to describe the album. Organic.

I also wanted to point out just how much I love these vocals. They're strained and angry but not screeching or ear grating. Its like a warrior's last song before he meets his enemy in battle.

This has been an incredibly fun and thoughtful album that I've come across. The band really hits what they were aiming for on the head and I believe have truly honored their ancestors through these chantings. I have a feeling these guys were influenced by the wave of tribal Native American style black metal that has been coming out of north and south America but of course staying very distinct by incorporating their own traditional cultural heritage. A very strong first album, very excited to keep my eyes peeled for what this act has in stored for us in the future.

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