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martedì 24 maggio 2022

Nechochwen - Kanawha Black

#FOR FANS OF: Black/Dark/Death
West Virginia-based duo Nechochwen returns with the long-awaited album as its predecessor saw the light of the day seven years ago. It’s a lot of time, though the band remained active, releasing a couple of splits and some other stuff. But as you know, a long length is always the best indicator of how a project is evolving and I was curious to see what Nechochwen could offer with this new opus, titled 'Kanawha Black'. The new work has been released again by Bindrune Recording and Nordvis, which is always a sign of confidence in what a project has composed. Founded back in 2005 Nechochwen has fused black metal with some folk and neofolk influences, and lyrically they have been strongly influenced by the Appalachian lands. Their interest in the Native American traditions is always a plus for me, so it is undeniable that this project is trying to create something personal.

'Kanawha Black' is a quite different album, particularly in terms of pace and general tone that the band tried to give to each song, aiming at creating pieces with a distinctive touch. The album is opened by the vigorous and powerful song "Kanawha Black". It’s a straightforward song with an excellent work in the guitars and a fast pace, that in any case has its ups and downs that make it very entertaining. The main aggressive vocals are combined with some clean ones, which makes a strong contrast with the first ones, I personally prefer the aggressive ones in this case, but I guess it’s a matter of feeling as they clean vocals are well executed and have nothing particularly negative to mention. The aforementioned neofolk and folk influences appear more clearly in the next songs, for example "The Murky Deep" and "I Can Die but Once", with these characteristic acoustic guitars. As it is typical in this genre, its influence gives a much more melancholic touch to the songs. The pace is also slower, and the songs have in general a sombre tone. This dark touch and slower pace reach its momentum with the song "A Cure for the Winter Plagues". This is for sure, the most different song as it is particularly slow and dark. I even describe it as a doom/death song, especially due to the main vocals with their deeper tone and the trademark growls of the death metal genre. The background vocals and arrangements give a quite ethereal touch to this composition, even though it remains to be a quite dark song. From this point the album clearly speeds up with faster songs more similar to the album opener. "Visions, Dreams, and Sings" is maybe my favourite track of this second half and one of the highlights of the whole album. It is a punch in your face thanks to its aggressive vocals and faster pace. The guitar work is again excellent, and the riffing remains in your mind after the end of the track. Being a faster song doesn’t mean that it’s a monotonous one, none of that, mid-temp and slower sections can be found too, and the acoustic guitars make its appearance to enrich the track. The last two songs have similar patterns as they intelligently combine some of the heaviest sections with the acoustic and darker ones, making them a merry-go-round of intensity with their changes of pace and tone. Vocally, the effort to include some variety is also there. Not only with the combination of aggressive and clean vocals, but also mixing black metal and death metal influenced voices, which are appropriately placed in the different songs.

In general terms, 'Kanawha Black' is a quite good album. It seems clear to me that there is a decent amount of work behind these compositions. The duo really tries to make songs with a particular tone and sound, mixing different influences and introducing arrangements to enrich them. (Alain González Artola)

(Bindrune Recordings - 2022)
Score: 78

Watain - Lawless Darkness

#FOR FANS OF: Black Metal
What an original, differently paced tempos, fast/medium/slow black metal, it's all inclusive work! Screaming in pain, songs are lengthy, dark and depressing. You can hear everything in this production/mixing. Some songs are groove laden and catchy. One long album, but interesting nevertheless. Tremolo picking galore, and riff-tastic. The vocals mix well with the music. Atmospheric. Some lead guitar here, but not really that much. Mostly rhythm guitars, which is fine by me. Their lyrical concepts aren't very interesting just the music hits home with me. That and their vocals. It's hard to like certain black metal bands because of crappy vocalists.

The mood the whole way through is very dark, but then again the title of this album is 'Lawless Darkness'. If I had to pick one Watain album out of their entire discography, this one would be it. Not because of anyone else's opinion or scores on here, but because this one really hits home with me. Everything about this album is amazing and it all fits into place. Black metal isn't even close to being my favorite genre because most of it is quite depressing. However, this I do appreciate. The guitars here are really thrashy. That's another reason why I like the album. And the fact that there are no keyboards or synthesizers. Those (to me) damage my ratings.

The vocals sound a bit like Legion (ex-Marduk, ex-Devian). A lot of black metal vocalists are grim sounding to go along with the dark music. Most of the concepts too are Satanism or the Occult. But the focus here is mainly the music. The riffs are original and not entirely fast and furious. They're mostly dark riffs. Dark but amazing. I haven't heard a good black metal album this good lately except the new Mayhem and Darkthrone, Dark Fortress as well. But this has its own unique sound. I beg to say that this is the only Watain album I'll own unless they produce something that's groundbreaking over the next few years.

I would vouch to say that this sat on my CD shelves for quite some time before I decided to re-listen to it as of recently. I was appalled by the music. Of course, not the lyrics but solely the music. Just simply invigorating and awe-inspiring. I'm not sure why it just sat there, this is one black metal album that's worthy of praise. And dynamite in the whole more than an hour of playtime. I would say support the band, but I would caution you this if you're sensitive to black metal in its' entirety, download it on Spotify or listen to it on YouTube because it might not be suitable for everyone that likes metal. It is a MONUMENT to me and I say support the band by buying the CD. Just a warning. Enjoy! (Death8699)

(Season of Mist - 2010)
Score: 85


lunedì 23 maggio 2022

Moluchtas - Telos Terminus

#PER CHI AMA: Black/Death
Presentarsi con delle registrazioni prossime alla cantina di casa non è mai buona cosa, proporre una compilation dopo soli due EP rilasciati, o ti chiami Metallica o meglio lasciar perdere. Se poi l'intento dei Moluchtas è quello di includere in questo 'Telos Terminus' tutte le tracce di 'Into Nothingness' e di 'The Inexorable Imprecation of Being', EP usciti in cassetta pochi mesi prima e forse passati totalmente inosservati ai più, deve esserci per forza un problema di fondo. Partiti con queste caustiche assunzioni, andiamo a dare un ascolto a queste otto tracce che propugnano per un black death senza troppi fronzoli. Questo è il minaccioso progetto di un musicista belga che ci spara in faccia un sound sprorco e convulso sin dall'iniziale "Surrender to the Void", fatto di riff ultra veloci e vocals raspanti, il tutto come dicevo, con la medesima qualità di un aratro che incide delicatamente sul manto vellutato di un vinile, quanto mi girano le palle, non avete idea. Il risultato è quindi un suono che si perde nelle basse frequenze e anche quando sembra aver qualcosa da dire, tipo nella seconda "The One That Defiles the Earth", in realtà non offre tutto quel range sonoro che potrebbe portare a ben altre valutazioni. Pur essendo cresciuto a pane e cassette registrate, faccio fatica ad accettare qualità cosi basse nel 2022. E non serve che il mastermind belga provi a raddrizzare il tiro con un incipit tastieristico in "The Awakening", la valutazione sembra già sufficientemente compromessa, anche perchè quello che segue è comunque un marcissimo esempio di death/black, almeno fino ad un certo punto. A metà brano infatti compaiono partiture sghembe di chitarra che evocano parossismi di scuola Deathspell Omega e successivi rallentamenti e parti atmosferiche che finalmente non mi spingono a saltare al pezzo successivo. Di "A Carnal Illumination", delle sue chitarrecon trame a tratti spettrali, ma per lo più dotate del medesimo riff dei precedenti e delle grim vocals del cantante, non ricordo molto altro. Da "Damnation's Drawning" alla conclusiva e stralunata "The Sun of Malediction" si passa alle tracce contenute nel più recente 'The Inexorable Imprecation of Being', EP uscito fondamentalmente un mese e mezzo prima del qui presente. La proposta non mostra grandi differenze dal passato, propinando sempre un concentrato insano di black caotico, a tratti atmosferico (menzione per il finale melodico di "The Sanguinary Provenance" e per "The Quintessence of Emptiness", forse il pezzo migliore di questo infausto album) e luciferino, che necessita però di ben altro per rendersi memorabile ad un pubblico più vasto. (Francesco Scarci)

(Godz ov War Productions - 2022)
Voto: 62


domenica 22 maggio 2022

Soulcarrion - Infernal Agony

#PER CHI AMA: Death Metal, Morbid Angel
Da Varsavia ecco arrivare il debut album dei Soulcarrion intitolato 'Infernal Agony', album targato Godz Ov War Productions. Detto che il titolo prefigura nome e programma del duo polacco, l'album consta di nove putride tracce di death metal vecchia scuola, dotato tuttavia di una grande dose di tecnica e un pizzico di melodia. Questo almeno quanto testimoniato dall'iniziale "Piles of Ashes", un brano che mi ha evocato i fantasmi degli Entombed di 'Left Hand Path' e proprio alla stregua di quel memorabile disco di oltre 30 anni fa, aspettatevi un feroce assalto ritmico contrappuntato da spettacolari e vorticosi assoli (di scuola Morbid Angel) e dall'immancabile growling da orco cattivo. Per il resto, 'Infernal Agony' è un disco che non fa troppi prigionieri, una cavalcata inarrestabile (giocata ahimè su un unico riff monocorde dall'inizio alla fine e da una triturante batteria), insomma il classico treno impazzito pronto al deragliamento. Non mancano ovviamente anche i frangenti mid-tempo (alcuni secondi nella caustica "Realm of Pain", nell'incipit della più compassata "Revenge is Mine" o nelle seconde metà sia  della title track che di "Night Ceremony"). Ubriacante la tagliente chitarra in apertura di "Depth of Fear", cosi come nella sua parte centrale più ritmata e pure in un infernale assolo conclusivo, che la porteranno ad identificarla anche come il mio pezzo preferito del disco. Per il resto, non aspettatevi troppa originalità dai Soulcarrion, tant'è che mi sentirei di consigliare questo lavoro ai soli amanti di putride sonorità death old school. Astenersi gli altri. (Francesco Scarci)

Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo

#PER CHI AMA: Gothic Alternative
Se pensate che la più originale e anticonformista goth band italiana, da sempre eccentricamente vestita di nero e capace di compiere la coraggiosa e inaudita scelta di cantare in inglese, percorrendo sonorità desuete come il gothic-pop alla Evanescence e il nu-metal adolescenziale, potesse addirittura arrivare a confezionare un originalissimo concept dall'inconsueta copertina su tematiche praticamente inedite quali l'occultismo e l'horror vintage tardosessanta, beh, se siete riusciti a formulare un pensiero tanto assurdo, allora siete sicuramente quel genere di persona che non riesce a perdonarsi di pensare che Cristina Scabbia abbia le gambe corte e le tette piccole. (Alberto Calorosi)

(Century Media - 2014)
Voto: 50


Asphyx - Incoming Death

#FOR FANS OF: Death Metal
The album here is better than a "65" rating to me. It's different, but cool. Good death metal and if you're into the vocals of this band, you'll like this. Their new one is excellent too. This one is somewhat slow, but not entirely. The guitar riffs are pretty exquisite. I like the quality of the sound on here, it's just that mixture of death/doom metal. Hence the slow riffs. But this album as a whole is pretty well rounded. I liked the whole thing and if you're a fan I'm sure you'll like it as well. It's slower tempos than there are fast ones. But still the quality of the guitar riffs are superb. They'll just stick with you!

The vocals are an acquired taste and if you like them, then you'll like this. Definitely! I like the guitar and vocals pretty equally so there's no discrepancy there. The production quality is top notch. I like the recording, ABSOLUTELY! The whole album is full of diversity. Not to mention originality and hostility. The music I think you'll like the most. And that distortion is absolutely amazing. These guitars are seriously amazing. The riffs are wholly original. Everything fits together perfectly. All the tracks on here I liked. But don't expect many fast tempos, you'll just be disappointed.

The production quality is top notch. Really good for a death/doom band. I like how they mix the two genres together. They seem to know how to structurally arrange everything so that it fits this double genre. It took me a while to get used to the vocals but eventually I started liking them. It just seemed to make sense. I think that this band keeps on improving after each succeeding release. I like the sound quality the whole way through. It definitely hits the mark on this album. I would say it's almost as good as their new album, but not as good. I think their new one is a slight bit better.

This is available on Spotify and YouTube as well. They really tear it up on here and I think any metal fan will enjoy this. Even the slow tempos are still to my liking. There really aren't many solos (if at all) but that's OK because the riffs are pretty phenomenal. They are balls out amazing on here. I think for any metalhead they'll like this one. It has a lot of variety and likability. All the elements of a good album has me rating this one a "70-". Check it out! (Death8699)

(Century Media - 2016)
Score: 68


Napalm Death - Diatribes

#FOR FANS OF: Death/Grind
A more experimental Napalm Death though I still like it. It's kind of the same way I like 'Chaos AD' by Sepultura though they're in a whole different genre. But the same idea. I think that they had a lot of good ideas in the songwriting but they totally abandoned their grind roots on here. Surprised that Jesse (RIP) did go through and play on this alongside Mitch. I supposed "slowed down" doesn't even come close to this one. I like it, but it's way not Napalm. If they wanted to abolish their metal roots (as I say), then they've done that here. It's kind of like Napalm meets Lamb of God or Killswitch Engage. I'm surprised that I like this!

I can see an alternative metal approach on 'Diatribes' it's closest to that genre far away what Napalm fans are really into. But since I value just about all genres I can appreciate this and give it a "70" rating. They probably wanted to do something they've never done and well that's what they sure as hell did. I like the guitar riffs on a lot of their songs here but you would think it's not Mitch and Jesse doing this. And Barney sounds the same just not like on 'Harmony Corruption', 'Utopia Banished' or 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair'. This is the newer Barney not as low in pitch nor as likeable (to me) as on earlier releases the ones I just mentioned.

I think if this were a different band then grind, death/grind or straight death metal you'd probably be OK with it. I suppose that they did see the negative press so they changed their tune. I'm still in favor of people getting the album but just expect something different. Those blast beats are nonexistent and the intensity is a lot less. They probably don't really play much of the material on this live (they didn't when I saw them in 2012), so it's not well received. There are a lot of changes on here and the distortion on the heavy riffs are there but not on every song the whole way through.

It's hit or miss if you'll like this or not. Since I'm a big Napalm Death fan, I accepted that it was something different here so I thought it palatable for me. But if you're looking to the utmost intense Napalm, search into the earlier releases I mentioned or with the old lineup. Don't expect Napalm of the old this is the new generation. Though on here, it's pretty alternative metal sounding. They abdicated their roots but a lot of songs are still pretty strong! I ordered the CD because I didn't get it when it came out in '96. I've been a Napalm fan since the late 80's. I've heard a big change in sound and this is a product of the new. (Death8699)

Richard James Simpson – Sugar the Pill

#PER CHI AMA: Indie Punk Rock
Il terzo album di Richard James Simpson, cantante e chitarrista americano, un tempo parte fondamentale dei Teardrain, apre le porte verso il grande pubblico ad un artista visionario, innamorato della psichedelia e delle rasoiate di chitarra, quanto di quel sostrato industriale e sintetico, molto familiare negli anni '90. Il noise è il contorno, il loop che si ripete e rinnova, le voci distorte, l'indie rock alternativo, sporcato di punk rock e lisergiche sonorità, rendono questo 'Sugar the Pill' una gemma ruvida ma assai luminosa. Così ci appaiono davanti suoni di un tempo, come i Dark Star, quelli di 'Twenty Twenty Sound', prodotti da Steve Lillywhite nel 1999, nei brani "Starry Hope" e "We're in the Wolf's Mouth", mentre "Sleep" riporta un odore industriale molto forte, del resto come "Consensual Telepathy", che ritrova alcune atipiche sonorità sperimentate dai Godflesh in 'Us and Them', oppure ancora l'influenza della scuola sonora aperta dal venerabile 'Mezzanine' dei Massive Attack o dai NIN più moderati in maniera personale e ricercata. "Playing God" sembra una out-take sfuggita ai recenti Duran Duran per il suo mood dance alternativo, seguita da un brano lampo come "Whitney Said", che recita una litania in maniera criptica, prima dell'oscura e sperimentale base ambient di "Time, the River" che, con il suo carillon nel finale, ostenta fantasmi vicini ai Death in June più astratti. Da qui in poi l'opera prende una vena meno rumorosa e più ambient, la ballata triste di "Take it Back" e "John Can't Hero" ne sono gli alfieri con movimenti lenti ed ipnotici spostamenti, suoni rarefatti, sospesi che si materializzano e si espandono nell'aria sciogliendosi definitivamente e sfociando nella drammatica follia dei 101 secondi di "The Pink is Painless", un buco nero che perfora l'anima. Conclude la ballata "Love Become a Stranger", che sembra un brano di Richard Ashcroft arrangiato da un Julian Cope in una stralunata forma romantica. Il disco è pieno di collaborazioni importanti, e cito come da sito della band Gill Emery (Mazzy Star, Hole), Don Bolles (The Germs), Dustin Boyer (John Cale), Paul Roessler (The Screamers, Twisted Roots, Nina Hagen), Geza X (Geza X and the Mommymen, The Deadbeats), Grebo Gray, Wilton e Kaitlin Wolfberg. Sicuramente un album tanto interessante quanto disomogeneo nella sue composizioni che s'ispirano a molte sonorità diverse tra loro. Di certo possiamo dire che 'Sugar the Pill' ha un ottimo sound che rispolvera vere chicche di commistione tra chitarre lisergiche e ritmi ipnotico-ossessivi che furono un tempo la Bibbia musicale di una generazione. Composizioni diversificate e fantasiose, fondamentalmente cupe, a volte claustrofobiche, per un lavoro tutto da scoprire ed apprezzare in tutte le sue molteplici sfaccettature. (Bob Stoner)

(Rehlein Music - 2021)
Voto: 74