PLUTONIUM “Born Again Misanthrope”

•April 29, 2016 • Comments Off on PLUTONIUM “Born Again Misanthrope”

Release Date: January, 2016

Label: Self-release

Born Again MIsanthropeWhen PLUTONIUM made their loud entrance with their “One Size Fits All” debut, unfortunately the industrial blackmetal subgenre was fast declining. Thus, a record that gathered the best elements of “Rebel Extravaganza” and used in the best possible way the teachings of THORNS, passed rather unnoticed. This was the unfortunate part of the story. To fortunate part was that mastermind J. Carlsson deciced that this turned of events could give him the opportunity to operate in the shadows of the underground and appear only when necessary.

And so, out of nowhere came “Devilmentertainment Non-Stop” back in 2011, the digital EP of 2013 and now the new statement “Born Again Misanthrope” and the question is whether it has something significant to say. The first two tracks lead Scandinavian blackmetal to known industrial streets and although, especially in the self-titled one with its moments that beckon to “Thorns” (mainly the tracks with vocals from Satyr), they create some intense emotions, doubts concerning stagnation arise; which are instantly dissolved by the hypnotic rhythm of “Inverted Panopticon Experience”. Slow-paced, ambient-oid and ready to suck the listener into its paranoia and futility, only to be abruptly cut (thus creating a sudden shock from this unexpected turn) by the anthemic riff of “Casque Strength” (a reference to Carlsson’s ambient project) for which one could easily support that it rocks mercilessly.

In general, after the initial connection with past PLUTONIUM works, nothing is taken for granted throughout the record and after all this is its strong point, since Carlsson manages to gather diverse elements (we even hear wonderful neofolk in “Renuntiationem”) without losing cohesion. Maybe because almost everything in here, however different they may appear at first, have a common ground in ironic theatricality (see also the reference to Hamlet in the cover art), as resort from sad, devastating reality. And if in the end, things seem to get back on industrial tracks with “Electric Barbwire Crown Of Thorns” and “Confessions Of A Suicidal Cryptologist”, this could possibly mean the return to that reality after the mind trips. Or maybe not? The closing moments of the record may leave a crack of hope.

 “Born Again Misanthrope” is here for those that feel intruders in this world, but have absolutely no intention of doing something about it; apart from retreat and wait. It is a panic room for the moments that everyday routine seems suffocating. The faith in halcyon days will never be gone, as the poet states…

DEAD CONGREGATION / EMBRACE OF THORNS / NIGREDO – Live Report

•January 23, 2016 • Comments Off on DEAD CONGREGATION / EMBRACE OF THORNS / NIGREDO – Live Report

Date: December 27, 2015

Location: Kyttaro Club, Athens

Rumors of a new Athenian appearance of DEAD CONGREGATION some time during the winter had already began to spread from summer. In October we learned the show was scheduled for December and later, when the 27th of December (a very convenient date for most people) was announced, celebrations were certain. Of course, the gig of last year (May 2014, with GRAVE MIASMA etc) was glorious but given on one hand the better sound quality and acoustic of Kyttaro club and on the other the fact that last year’s opus “Promulgation Of The Fall” has secured its place for good in the minds and the playlists of the fans, a special feeling was floating around that this time we were about to face something unique. The inclusion of new act NIGREDO and the always crushing EMBRACE OF THORNS in the billing, was just the appropriate finishing touch for the night to come.

NigredoAlmost exactly on scheduled time, the first rabid waves of new power-trio from frontman/bassist Alexis (ex-EXARSIS, RAVENCULT), assisted by Maelstrom on drums and Apostle Of Thy Blackest Light on guitar, burst on the shores of Kyttaro’s arena, pulsating between raging blackthrashing moments (with references to AURA NOIR as well as –to some extent– to the earliest KREATOR era) and some mid-tempo more Norwegian-like anthemic passages. Despite some minor technical issues that caused a momentary discomfort, NIGREDO presented us their debut “Facets Of Death” EP and completed their set with overflowing energy and might. With time, they will strengthen their chemistry on stage and then moments of some serious headbanging are in store for us. After all the band’s members aren’t some random kids who decided to play metal.

Embrace Of ThornsTwo of them indeed (except Alexis, that is) didn’t have much time for rest, since only a few minutes later they returned on stage, along with Fallen Angel Of Fornication (from IMPURE WORSHIP) to accompany the core duet of Archfiend Devilpig and Herald Of Demonic Pestilence of EMBRACE OF THORNS, one the most underrated bands of death/black scene if you want my opinion. And I say underrated, because EoT both musically (where they never hesitated to move towards new paths during their 15 years of history) and in terms of live appearances (where each of their shows simply shocks those who choose to tune in to their vibrations) not only rise to the occasion of what is expected of them but most of the times they overcome it by far. Their last creation, “Darkness Impenetrable”, a solid attack consisting of ten (short in duration yet huge in impact) dynamite tracks, was represented that night by four of them, with “My Hermetic Quest…” and “Aiwass Arisen” gaining a special spot in my heart. This also happened both with elegies such as “Perished In Mortal Agony” (from “Atonement Ritual”) and some much older stuff that came in the form of “Sempiternally Cursing The Weak”, a track coming from the earliest days of the band. I must admit I somewhat missed “Ancient Waters Speak” (although “Praying For Absolution” was not at all ignored) or something significantly older (in the likes of “Stench Of The Deceased Martyrs”), but hey, setlists are of little significance in such cases where a suffocating atmosphere, full of black clouds carrying acid rain, constitutes the optimum means of passing to another plane. Last but not least, I cannot but pay my dues once again to the chameleon vocals of Devilpig, who either here (with EMBRACE) either with SERPENT NOIR of NECROVOROUS always leaves us wondering how the hell he manages to vomit such varied and such compelling shrieks.

DC_01Since we were warmed up for good and the club was almost full of people, it was time for the great death metallers. VV on drums, GS on bass and of course the ultimate guitar duo of contemporary extreme metal worldwide, TK and AV started to sign our descent to the bowels of the earth. Introducing themselves with “Martyrdoom”, they spread insanity to the crowd, however, as we discussed in the prologue, the darkness of “Promulgation Of The Fall” had promptly found its place in our hearts and thus, the new record was significantly honored. At “Schisma” chills run through our spines, the veins of AV’s forehead were pulsating as he was denouncing the “worthless father” and we were celebrating his TRUE DEATH. A little bit after, we would return to favorite passages from the past; be it the “Auguring Of An Eternal War” from debut EP or the psalms that introduced the title track from “Graves…” along with forthcoming demolition. The whole Kyttaro club watched in awe, as DEAD CONGREGATION were giving an imperial performance with amazing sound and fierce passion, because they simply are death metal’s leading band of today.

DC_03Anastasis addressed the fans for the first time only little before the end of the main set and said what I, personally, (and many others I hope) was waiting to hear: “We are DEAD CONGREGATION, we have a new album and it begins like this”. Thus, let a 15-minute infernal blast sweep our heads and bodies away, as the trilogy of “Only Ashes Remain”/“Promulgation Of The Fall”/”Serpentskin” was envenoming the air! The Fallen Angel had risen and was watching us with a sinister smile from the club’s ceiling. A few moments after, the encore with all-time classics “Vomitchrist” and “Teeth Into Red” would strip us from any remaining strength (only temporarily though) as were realizing that we now had a new milestone to compare future events with. I predict that in a few years we will be coming out of gigs and discuss that “it was OK/great/magnificent, but man, nothing like DEAD CONGREGATION in December, 2015”

DØDHEIMSGARD, THY DARKENED SHADE, SHIBALBA – Live Report

•November 22, 2015 • Comments Off on DØDHEIMSGARD, THY DARKENED SHADE, SHIBALBA – Live Report

Date: November 13th, 2015

Location: Fuzz Club, Athens, Greece

The third Athenian appearance of the Norwegian avant-garde pioneers didn’t prove to be their deadliest. I’ll leave aside the prolonged delay in the schedule as the concert ended after 2 am, partly because you’ve probably read about it elsewhere and partly because I value the organizer (3 Shades of Black) as a serious entry in the area of underground gigs, so for the time being I wouldn’t like to put all the blame upon them for this problematic situation.

Shibalba @ Fuzz Club So, we’ll press fast-forward and go straight to the start of SHIBALBA’s (aka the Mayan underworld) set; for those who are unaware they are the very interesting ritual dark ambient project of Acherontas V. Priest (ACHERONTAS) with the participation of certain other special musicians of the scene. Having carefully set an eminent occult scenery upon the stage and stepping upon a drone/feedback underlay, embellished with various hallucinogenic samples, we listened to a mixture of percussion, brass and whispers from the spirits but most of all we became part (those of us who paid attention) of a fully featured audiovisual ceremony. Regardless of how someone is inspired from or interested in such things, we have to understand that in these situations the attendant has to participate by locking external and mundane thought outside his mind. Of course this not an easy task nor is everyone keen on doing it, with the result being that in a huge space and with a varied audience, the vibes were not flowing around as they should, much as accurate and devoted was the group.

Thy Darkened Shade @ Fuzz ClubThe occult appearance of the stage remained, though differently arranged, as THY DARKENED SHADE were preparing to unleash their sonic assault. Those aware of last year’s “Liber Lvcifer: Khem Sedjet” knew the complex nature of Semjaza 218’s compositions, yet none could imagine that something like this could be rendered in such a raw and at the same time deep way on stage. The core of Semjaza and The A. (vocals) was accompanied by exquisite members of Hellenic blackmetal like Cain Latifer (ACRIMONIOUS, SERPENT NOIR) in guitars and thus we experienced a feast of extreme, technical metal (even progressive one could say) yet so close to the blackmetal essence that very few of the bands with the random darkthrone riffs and black/white covers can achieve. As time passed by, fingers were impetuously going up and down on the frets, The A enchanted us with both distorted vocals and clean chants and among a paroxysmal atmosphere, DEATHSPELL OMEGA would meet the archetypal essence of IRON MAIDEN elegies and together their would go for a ride to the hideouts of MITOCHONDRION; all filtered by the ego of the TDS entity. If you would personally ask me, this was the peak of the whole event.

Dodheismgard @ Fuzz ClubIn any case though, the main dish, the one that drew the vast majority of the audience to Fuzz Club, was the historical DØDHEIMSGARD, this time including their original singer/frontman/actor/lunatic also known as one of the most lyrical voices of the last two decades in blackmetal (and not only there), the magnificent Aldrahn. So, before I start nagging for certain things, let me pay homage to the man who lifted on his shoulders the whole appearance of a band, which within five years (1995-1999) reigned supreme, constantly changing directions (from traditional “Kronet…” to blackthrashing “Monumental…” and from there to the outermost planets) and engulfing some of the most prominent members of the Norwegian scene.

Dodheismgard @ Fuzz ClubAnd so, Aldrahn (dressed in a perfectly suitable comic-hero costume) did his very best, using about 20 different vocal styles, roaming the stage back and forth with various improvised choreographies and above all he performed with the sweetest paranoia tracks that have long ago left their mark in blackmetal and us personally, including the whole “Satanic Art” EP which for me was the highlight of their show (apart from the sound problem that plague the second half of “Traces Of Reality”). Yet, most good things end here and problems and shortages begin. For a start, sound was an overall failure almost throughout their gig, fluctuating from mediocre (at best case) to horrible (at worst) with glitches and noises killing any possible exaltation could be caused to us by the phrase “am I not your superhero?”, spoken by its original throat. In other words, again we smelled an “Ion Storm” in the air and again we did not properly hear it as it was meant to be. There was also a lack of a human keyboardist, a lack of fitting visuals and lighting, a lack of nerve from session members and in the end probably a lack of acalmness from Vicotnik resulting in the three last songs of the setlist (“Sonar Bliss” was one of them) being abandoned.

Dodheismgard @ Fuzz ClubA bittersweet taste was left when a little after 2 am we had to take the road home. On one hand to watch Aldrahn conquering the stage and the microphone is something rarely found around the metal gig world. On the other hand, my (subjective of course) ascertainment that their appearance four years ago was significantly better combined with a new album rather OK for their standards leaves a small disappointment behind and this mainly because it could indicate that one of the most important groups which occupied us in the end of 90s and the dawn of 00s might have started its descent to earth.

NADIWRATH “Circle Of Pest”

•November 21, 2015 • Comments Off on NADIWRATH “Circle Of Pest”

 

Release Date: June, 2015

Label: Drakkar Productions

Circle Of PestPlague has come again and the stench of human decay has permeated once more in the already suffocating atmosphere of a big city like Athens. It was not only the almost unbearable heat of past summer that amplified the rotten air but also the return of NADIWRATH to full-length releases. Despite some “candy” (split releases with HEXENMEISTER and DODSFERD and last year’s “Chaotic Blasphemy” 7’’ EP) they’ve offered us between the magnificent, septicemic “Nihilistic Stench” and the brand new “Circle Of Pest”, our sick appetite demanded another full-length album.

However, should we have learned something from Nadir and his companions until now, this must have been that we simply cannot expect a sterile replay of past releases. While, until now, they stood firmly between hateful punk and suicidal blackmetal madness, they now add an aura of determined and straightforward aggressiveness by incorporating into their style some more traditional metal guitars (A New Humanity) as well as some thrash logic (No Pity For Your Kind) here and there, all painted as always with the blackest of colors. It feels like they have elevated from the rotten world described in “Nihilistic Stench” (and their subsequent releases) and they praise its death while they herald the coming of a new one.

Of course, the above does not mean that we are listening to an entirely different band or that the tracks sound unfitting. Almost all of the elements that once drew us to the crypts of NADIWRATH are here; the bitter guitar passages in the veins of CARPATHIAN FOREST, the disgusted shrieks of Wrath and the raging drums from Maelstrom (quite a performance once again). The opening track Inner Commitment (lengthiest one in the record running over 8 minutes) functions perfectly as a pathway starting where “Memories Are Dead” ended, towards the new face of the band; a new face which clearly commands us: “attack, attack, ATTACK!” until we are for good and forever over with the pathetic human kind. So, attack it is, until we reach the ending of Heading Towards Absolute Darkness where disharmonic leads and deep bass guitar imply rather obviously that all hope is gone.

The special entity of NADIWRATH does not deserve to remain underestimated among the Hellenic scene. In their eight years of existence they were never afraid to rearrange the elements of their music or to make steps towards new directions. On the other hand, they always avoided big words and maybe that’s why they lack yet the status that suits them. But if someone lets themselves to be carried away from the negative energy released by that band, then they would probably understand why NADIWRATH is a terrifyingly precise depiction of the world around us. There is no salvation…

SERPENT NOIR “Erotomysticism”

•May 5, 2015 • Comments Off on SERPENT NOIR “Erotomysticism”

Release Date: May, 2015

Label: Daemon Worship Productions

ErotomysticismHow many times, during the past few years, did we stand “frozen” upon listening to a new release and even more when we already knew the band? How many times did we feel that “everything here is as it should be”? How many times, especially those of us in our 30s and above, did we find that magical aura that many of the 90s albums carried due to the tremendous impression of “flowing” they left?

SERPENT NOIR come from Piraeus, from Athens, from Sweden and from the whole world (of course a world different than what most of us understand) to emphatically cover all of the above; and even more! Following them from their very beginning, the “Sanguis XI” EP back in 2010, I believed that by now I would know what to expect from “Erotomysticism” (what a revolutionary title for such a release!) and the disproof came loud and clear. After the dreamy flute of the opening track, the “Veritable Red Dragon” with its sharp guitar and the deep vocals from Kostas creates an illusion that things will move around the fields of the predecessor (“Seeing Through The Shadow Consciouness”), before “Ayin” comes, bringing early TIAMAT (of “Astral Sleep” era) in mind, and provides the first shivers of surprise, weaving strange lead melodies under is thick blackmetal riffs. “There are other worlds, alternative realities as well as parallel universes to enter and explore…” as the booklet reads. Every track of SERPENT NOIR is exactly this; pay attention to a group of frequencies and a path will be revealed to you. Concentrate to another wave length and you will be lead –at the same time!– elsewhere…

“Al Runa”, a story on its own, enchants us as its ritual drums create a stifling, stressful atmosphere that fits with following excerpt: “Man has become a creator, the promise of the Serpent. But will Man handle the creation?”. Thomas Karlsson (Dragon Rouge founder and a leading occultist and writer) honours this creation with his lyrics throughout the record as well as his voice on the aggressive “Desert Of Azazel” which, in an abstract way, reminds us of Ihsahn’s verses on “A Song Of Liberty” from “Theme’s From William Blake’s…” for those who remember. The sex magick ceremony (admired by those who haven’t surrendered to the sexual cheapness of modern times) of “The Initiatrice Of A’arab Zaraq” and the spiritual liberation flowing out of the second flute (and not only that) track, “Ayahuasca”, transform the second half of the album into something less direct yet more transcendental with an intermediate, temporary restoration of blackmetal reality coming from the SERPENT NOIR trademark sounds of “The Dioscuri Of Darkness”.

I do not use (in fact I don’t think I’ve ever done it before) to write about music records on a track-by-track basis yet “Erotomysticism” left me with no other choice with its experiential, trippy personality. If you expected from me occult analyses and unspoken demon names you lost. Others have written about that better and I refer you to them (in fact some of them collaborate in this release). I only came here to express my admiration and my connection to a gathering of people that came together, around the core vision of Yannis K. and under the wings of the Drakon, to channel the primordial energies. Those energies we feel crawling up our spine and into the ditches of our brains when we stand barefoot on the damp soil of the earth.

PS. As some may have noticed, there is no reference to the last track of the record, “Mephistophelian Pacts”. The omission was on purpose. For the journey never ends…

DRAKONIAN BEAUTY – Live Ritual

•April 18, 2015 • Comments Off on DRAKONIAN BEAUTY – Live Ritual

Date: March 15th, 2015

Location: Kyttaro Club

The special assembly that took place amidst last March has left fresh memories to those who honored it. Baring the name of Drakonian Beauty (how amazing is the antithesis arising when using the word “beauty” for a blackmetal event) this gathering took form in Kyttaro with the participation of four outstanding (each in their own way) domestic bands along with the great OFERMOD.

Septuagint @ Drakonian BeautyThe first calling of the evening was preached by SEPTUAGINT, who came to our attention (at least under that name, since they also have a promo as DECLARATION:HOLOCAUST) only last year with “Negative-Void-Trinity” EP. Having a remarkable set up on stage, clean sound and solid performance, they impressed those who arrived early at the venue, by presenting a very interesting combination of Scandinavian blackmetal and NIGHTBRINGER-ish mentality where the lead guitar carves Dionysian pathways through eerie fields.

Akrotheism @ Drakonian BeautyFollowing them, was AKROTHEISM, whom we had the chance to observe again, 1½ year after their appearance as support at the NECROS CHRISTOS show. Having a very strong full-length (“Behold The Son Of Plagues”) in their account, they exhibited from the very beginning of their act a much more tight sound, delivering in an excellent way an original mix –at least that’s how I interpret it– of Swedish orthodox, Norwegian disharmony as well as traditional Hellenic blackmetal. Even though there was no VED BUENS ENDE cover this time, songs like the title-track from the album were more than enough to intensify the vibes around the place.

Empire Of The Moon @ Drakonian BeautyShortly after, the time was drawing nigh for the band whose (re)appearance was destined to be engraved in the most emphatic manner upon my own black year 2014. EMPIRE OF THE MOON are maybe the most unique, in my ears, example among the recent revival of classic Hellenic blackmetal (of course this could hardly be different since all members are old mystics of the sound). Nothing more, nothing less, they played with extreme accuracy and devotion the “Panselinos” full-length in its entirety, an album not only among the best of last year’s records but also a piece of Art that will be discussed in the future as a milestone of this decade’s domestic releases. The devilish spirit of NECROMANTIA flooded Kyttaro, the mirror set on stage reflected each one’s inner self and the female triptych of Tiamat/Luna/Kali became the guide for the next 45 minutes of the evening; the highlight being –apart from my enthusiasm for the intro of “Lunar Apocalypse”– the elegy of “The Nine Skulls Of Kali”.

Ofermod @ Drakonian BeautyThe coming of OFERMOD to Greece was accompanied with the “loud” absence of Michayah Belfagor. I have to confess that I myself was somewhat doubtful as to how a live ritual from the Swedes could be performed without their spiritual leader. And I was totally disproved. While Ushatar took place for the guitar parts and did exactly what was expected of him, in the spiritual part the duet of Tehôm and Florian Hucek weaved a drakonian web, a passage for those intending to cross the Rubicon and communicate with their shadow side. If “Black Gate” was a small apocalypse for those synchronized, then “Mysterion Tes Anomias”, a song that became the epitome of the sound-words combination described as orthodox, was a true transcendence that we rarely have the chance to experience in similar events.

Acherontas @ Drakonian BeautyFor ACHERONTAS who closed the evening in all its glory, I have written so many times that I may start to become tiring. However it is one thing that matters. As much as one likes or dislikes their music/image/lyrics, they represent a band standing as a gem for our country and for the whole blackmetal subgenre because they were never afraid to evolve their sound and to spread their messages performing rituals wherever in the world they found it to be meaningful. For this event they had yet another small surprise, playing with three guitars, a choice that would normally lead to noise but not here where one instrument would complement and not overgrow the other; thus the sound was magnificent. Not having the chance yet to listen to their new album (“Ma-Ion: Formulas Of Reptilian Unification”), I enjoyed as always songs like “Legacy Of Tiamat” (in one of its best readings I’ve ever attendend) and “Blood Current Illumination”.

The night ended with a feeling of totality and unity. Such events, organized with faith, devotion and vision are written with permanent letters in the blackmetal chronicles and the notable response from the fans (people from abroad were also there) became another pleasant element of than Sunday. Until the next assembly, the energy resources were fully charged and the spirit ascended once again…

GOAT SYNAGOGUE “Inheritors Of The Morbid Arts”

•April 4, 2015 • Comments Off on GOAT SYNAGOGUE “Inheritors Of The Morbid Arts”

Release Date: November, 2014

Label: Goatmarch Distro

InheritorsThe return of the classic Hellenic blackmetal sound (see first half of the 90s) is well on its way. I don’t know how long it’ll last nor what will be left from this revival, yet I cannot but confess the attraction I feel towards releases that bear such devotion so that they seem to truly belong to that era.

GOAT SYNAGOGUE, in our case, aren’t a totally new entry in this scene. Three years ago, they had given us a glimpse with their first demo tape, drenched in the mist and opaqueness of an Athenian winter night full of smog. Now (last November, to be more accurate) they return with “Inheritors Of The Morbid Arts”, a new demo tape, sharper and more aggressive, as the riffology of early NECROMANTIA and THOU ART LORD (but also other more underground acts such as CTHONIUM or OSUCULUM INFAME) prevails; and since this done in the right way –which is not a flat copy of that sound but a conscious unification with the spirit of that era– then as soon as “My Will” begins, we start spinning around space and time, going 20-25 years back in some dark rehearsal place. It is that wicked transformation of then classic metal (and thrash) sound –through CELTIC FROST and very early SODOM– to something dark and threatening, sometimes mid-tempo, other times more stepping on the gas (as in this demo, for the most part), yet always making the fear of the unknown and the unfathomable to emerge.

Standing by the unstoppable guitars with the marvelous changes in pace and rhythm (listen to the title track with the excellent guitar leads and rhythm switching in the 3:45 minutes it lasts), we have the crushing drums of Divine Desecrator, whose monolithic technique provides a war tone to the tracks. The background keys as well as the ghoulish vocals from the crypt intensify the horrific atmosphere making the 10-plus-something minutes of the demo so full of substance that one wonders whether such short yet emphatic releases are more preferable than 45-min LPs full of pointless parts.

Anyway, the above question probably has little (if any) importance. The true matter is that GOAT SYNAGOUE are here, aiming to bring in today’s Hellenic blackmetal scene the aura of older times; and they succeed in such a way that if someone presented this tape to me as a “lost diamond” of that era, I wouldn’t have any reason not to believe them. Besides, how different could it be, when the cover artwork comes from Panos Sounas, a.k.a. responsible –among others- for certain touchstones called “Crossing The Fiery Path” and “Scarlet Evil, Witching Black”?

 
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