Preludium – Impending Hostility

Achintya Venkatesh reviews the new album from Preludium titled Impending Hostility, released via Transcending Obscurity.

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Humanity’s fascination with war is nothing short of confounding – destructive and degenerating in actuality, but war has somehow wound up as one of the most prominent themes of the creative canvas of various art forms. This fascination is almost macabre, given the cadaverous nature of war, but it also seems to serve as a point of transcendence – the mindless slaughter and carrion that war is riddled also goes hand in hand with the bravado, glory, manhood and noble sacrifice associated with war – in effect, war is nothing short of paradoxical. Luridity and heroism are both romanticized in war, making it an all the more powerful subject. The genre of heavy metal, which has in modernity continued to serve as the bombastic bastion of alternative thinking served with a good dose of rebellion, hasn’t been too far behind as far as the thematic obsession with war is concerned. Bands like the pacifist-driven thrash veterans and extreme metal forefathers Sodom, to the British old school death metal legends Bolt Thrower and even more recent projects like Hail of Bullets have all incorporated war as the backdrop for their music. Preludium is Mielec-based band that continues this legacy in metal – this infatuation with war, a phenomenon that their homeland has been subject to through the ages. One would think upon first inspection of the band that being a blackened death metal seems to be a national cliché of sorts for Polish bands. So, does Preludium distinguish itself from a sea of stylistic clones? Read on.

‘Legacy of Destinations’, the opening track of the album immediately establishes the atmosphere of the album, opening with a pacing drum beat similar to the war beats upon which soldiers march, after which the band soon descends into a frenzied orchestration of mayhem and wreckage. The riff-work here is certainly biased towards more death metal styled tremolo riffs, and one is immediately impressed by the intense precision of drummer Piotr Ungeheuer. ‘Realm of Void’ is an experience comprising of sheer speed and intensity through and through. ‘Desolation’ is a brief and to-the-point track with some excellent usage of groove-driven, engaging harmonic pinches. ‘Hostile Area’ brings to the fore the more blackened quality of their music in comparison to the tracks that precede it with some excellent soloing to boot.  The band seem to have mastered the art of track placement, given that ‘Bitter Cold’ is just the right break from the relentlessness of the rest of the album, with the plodding doom it presents the listener, alongside melancholic leads atop bludgeoning riffs and double-bass work that invoke some sort of bizarrely tight savageness.

‘Blessing of War’ is a solid slab of definitive audile decimation with some passages that are direct nods to the likes of Bolt Thrower and fellow countrymen Vader. ‘Death Campaign’ is in a similar vein with some impressive drum fills and appropriate doses of melody that project the hardships of war to the listener. ‘Execution’ is a bit of a filler track in comparison, but the excellent closing instrumental track ‘Warfare’ saves face after a rather generic preceding track. The track paints a picture of war-ravaged soldiers reliving the drudgeries and horrors that characterizes war in itself. The hints of melody at times remind one of Desultory, but the band’s uniqueness is not lost, courtesy of the heavy grooves and mid-tempo, marching percussive quality of the drums.

The production is crystal clear, and the sound samples chosen are tasteful and only serve to reinforce the atmosphere of war – such as the sounds of blowing wind in the beginning of the album, in effect creating a bleak atmosphere, or the hair-raising, fearsome sounds of explosion. Of course the highlight is the sheer carnage that is portrayed by the instrumentation, from the ferocious guitars to the blast beats, as well as a good measure of tempo changes. The vocals lean on the death metal side of things, although certain tracks certainly show case black-metal oriented shrieks and rasps. In light of the same, the well paced tracks dispel any notions of monotony, that the listener may well feel initially. Łukasz Dziamarski and his soldiers have created a solid slab of blackened death metal with this album that manages to distinguish itself a fair degree from legions of bands in its genre. Kudos to Transcending Obscurity for roping in the band, as well as invigorating the local Indian metal scene by serving as one of the premier extreme metal labels in the nation. The release doesn’t particularly bring anything new to the table in terms of stylistic growth or innovation, but its precision and tightness is nothing short of invigorating.

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Extol – S/T

Extol’s self-titled was released via Indie Recordings / Facedown Records.

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Tracklist:
01 – Betrayal
02 – Open The Gates
03 – Wastelands
04 – A Gift Beyond Human Reach
05 – Faltering Moves
06 – Behold The Sun
07 – Dawn Of Redemption
08 – Ministers
09 – Extol
10 – Unveiling The Obscure
11 – Sting Of Death

It is hard for a band to leave their indelible mark on a listener’s psyche post-2000. Simply put, there are just too many bands at it. The mighty riff attack of the 80’s and early 90’s have stayed gold all long, beyond which there’s been a lot of, well, quite unremarkable releases. Either falling victim to creative stagnation or just being plain average at best. Unfortunately with the internet, more of these got fed into our systems, exasperating as it is. Yet there is a light at the end of every dark tunnel.

Extol seems to be a band that has remained relatively unscathed in the fray. For their brand of metal have always paid homage to progression and has never really played the same album twice. Something even the progenitors of the great genre find themselves doing.

Extol’s self titled and 5th full length, after a hiatus of 8 years, have already had the hype train running all over the interweb. As is the case, every hype train meets with partial to complete derailment. Well in this case, they just seemed to hint at derailment, while in reality never amounting to more than a wobble. Extol’s flag of progressive/melodic death metal still flies high. All the years of relative idleness, have not let their level of musicianship into a state of decline. The self-titled is still a case of hitting the stride like all their releases. Soulful and equally melodic leads, thrash technicality and above all, their signature abruptness runs the gamut through the album. The abruptness here, refers to the extremely unpredictable structural changes of their songs, changing the flow and dynamics within each song, effectively bolstering the overall replayability. This particular point has grown to be a bone of contention amongst most technical metal albums, as they can easily descend, and quite often at that, into senseless wankery. Extol on the other hand, use their technical wherewithal intelligently and follow it up with a sublime melodic lead or a groove. This befuddles the listener, as much as it invokes appreciation. And this alone warrants the record more reruns.

The grand point of convergence, where the band, the album and the song are all share the same title, is probably the catchiest track from Extol’s entire discography. The massive yet infectious melody permeating throughout the entire track will leave you in awe at Ole Borud’s uncanny ability, to pen down some of the finest melodious riffs there is, a la Undeceived.  Espovell’s clean vocals, dexterous in execution, add an air of lightness to each song. Wasteland and Faltering Motives are other fine examples of Extol’s craft. On the contrary, opener Betrayal, Behold the Sun and Ministers are decent tracks in their own right, but does lack the mysterious charm beheld in the rest. Things come to a happy ending with the eloquently crafted ‘Unveiling the Obscure’.

In all, the self titled is equal parts a progression and a throwback. Although not quite the next ‘Undeceived’, it does come a close second. And that is no small feat indeed.

A mid year reflection: Jayaprakash Satyamurthy’s best of 2013

With the rest of the (active)writers on board, we’ve decided to put up our own little mid year best-of lists. Hopeful to the fact, that you guys might stumble on something new in the process as well. We had Mohammad Kabeer’s list posted last week, check that if you haven’t already. Today we have our own doomlord Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, talking about his favorite ones.

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1.       Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – S/T ( Review )

I greatly prefer this album to the last Pentagram offering; the best bits on it were Griffin’s solos, anyway. A soulful, heavy and integral collection of excellent tunes by a consummate songwriter and guitar player.

2.       Goatess – S/T ( Review )

What some of the latter-day trad doom bands forget is that their influences always turned in albums that were as diverse as they were definitive. Goatess understands this, and each song has its own character while maintaining a consistent feel. Chritus, of course, is in fine form.

3.       Kongh – Sole Creation ( Review )

Just four songs, but each one is a sprawling epic of heavy, sludgy guitars, mesmerizing, almost post-metallic textures and a great mix of gruff and melodic vocals that don’t sound gimmicky at all.

4.       Primitive Man – Scorn

Abrasive, grimy, downtempo and heavy as heck, the Colorado sludgers’ debut album is one of the finest slabs of dissonant, pissed off riff abuse in a while. A fantastic production job abets songs that emerge and fade in squalls of noise while providing a surprisingly healthy quota of genuine hooks in between.

5.       Endless Boogie – Long Island

This is blues rock the way it’s rarely heard – not an effervescent virtuoso showcase, but a series of strung-out, stoned jams that reverberate with washes of glorious fuzz, oddball storylines and eccentric but very authentically bluesy ritualism.

6.       Abyssal – Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius

Imagine a slowed-down Portal. That begins to describe this UK black/doom band’s sluggish, weighty sound. The ambience is nightmarishly oppressive and the structures are more abstract and free-form than on their debut, ‘Denouement’, which only works in favour of the uncanny atmosphere conjured up by this band.

7.       Dark Buddha Rising – Dakhmandal ( Review )

Not an album as much as a ritual, a trance-inducing, terrifying, alluring song-cycle that takes you through a stunning diversity of musical textures. Their best album yet.

8.       Dragonauta – Omega Pentagram

The band with the Sleep-worshipping name delivers a doom/sludge album that doesn’t wear any of the expected influences on its sleeve, choosing instead to revel in some of the most original and distinctive riffs and melodies I’ve head being carved out in this genre in a while.

9.       Fragarak – Crypts of Dissimulation

Intelligent, questing and melodic progressive extreme metal with an introspective bent. One of the best debuts of the year and certainly the best Indian metal release of the year so far.

10.   Reino Ermitano – Veneracion Del Fuego ( Review )

This Peruvian doom band has fallen beneath the radar for me in past years, but this platter of seasoned, immersive music ensures that I’ll pay them a lot more attention henceforth. Dark, mystical music with great tone and songs that stretch out to great effect.

Notable albums:

 Cathedral – The Last Spire

Not their finest hour, but a wonderfully doomy set of songs.

Sacred Gate- Tides Of War

Proof that the battle of Thermopylae and Iron Maiden still have the power to inspire some really good metal music

Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark

Their most assured and original album yet

Hexvesselc – Iron Marsh EP

This EP shows the gains this band has reaped from bringing heavier textures into their musical mix

Timo Tolkk’s Avalon – The Land Of New Hope

Great melodies, dramatic over-the-top vocals and some brilliant soloing make this Tolkki’s best album since the demise of Renaissance Revolution

Anvil – Hope In Hell

A catchy, likable album that underscores the real reason you should listen to this band – their incredible consistency

Krypts – Unending Degradation

Delivers on the promise of their self-titled EP with one of the most idiomatic and well-conceived old school DM sets this year

Asgard – Outworld

Metalheads who swear by Helloween’s ‘Walls Of Jericho’ simply must check out this album by a band that puts the power back in power metal

Abysmal Grief – Feretr

This band occupies the common ground between goth and trad doom, and does a fine job of it

Cauchemar – Tenbrario

The trad doomers take it up a notch or two from their debut EP, delivering a very strong follow-up

Ramlord – Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom

Crusty sludge with shades of d-beat and black metal. Another supremely abrasive, scalding album

Reino Ermitaño – Veneración del Fuego

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviews the new album from Reino Ermitaño titled Veneración del Fuego , released via I Hate Records.

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Tracklist:
1. Quimera 09:19
2. El Sueño del Condor 04:50
3. Sobre las Ruinas 06:21
4. Desangrándote 06:29
5. Cuando la Luz te Encuentre 09:03
6. Soy el Lobo 06:19
7. El Rito 08:20
8. Vente al Fuego 05:02
9. Sangre India 09:44
10. Cadáver, Semilla, Renacer 01:16

Pre-dating the recent trend of female-fronted doom bands by a decade, Peru’s Reino Ermitano have been flying the flag of fuzzy, riff-driven, mystical doom metal since their formation in 2001. I am not familiar with their back catalogue, having only heard their sophomore release, ‘Brujas del Mar’, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded their new CD into my player.

First of all, there’s the guitar tone – thick, heavy and with a satisfying backwash of fuzz. The bass tone is more glassy than I favour for doom, but blends nicely with the guitar. The drums aren’t a standout element, but they get the job done. The riffing clearly draws from traditional doom motherlodes – some Cathedral, traces of Saint Vitus and Pentagram, a dose of Wino worship, and a general atmosphere of lugubrious, mystical ritual. Need I mention that there’s some Sabbath in the mix? The vocals are sonorous, haunting, somewhat straightforward but very effective. The fact that I don’t understand the language the lyrics are penned in perhaps adds a touch of exotic mystery to the whole production, although it is not too hard to piece together the meanings of things  like the album title or song titles like ‘Quimera’, ‘El Rito’ or ‘Sangre India’. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve watched a lot of horror films from South American countries.

The songs here tend towards the drawn-out, with an average running length of around 7 minutes, but they never feel excessive. While the feel is pretty constant from start to finish, and the band doesn’t indulge in shifts for their own sake, there are enough distinctive and memorable sections sequences into each track to keep it interesting. The band strikes a happy balance between the sense of iterative stasis that is so crucial to true doom music and the dynamism without which that music can become a mere exercise in funereal texture with no real tension or allure. And solos of the quality and length of the one that stabs in around the 7-minute mark in ‘Quimera’ ensure that there is a payoff for the listened who has weathered the tectonic drift of Reino Ermitano’s songs.

Other standout moments are the keening, droning guitar textures on ‘El Sueño del Condor’, reminiscent of the more atmospheric expanses of certain death metal bands, when they slow it down, the swirling, Candlemass-goes-to-NOLA riff that opens ‘Desangrándote’, the elegiac violin solo on ‘Cuando la Luz te Encuentre’, or the epic ‘Sangre India’.

This one deserves to make it to more than a few best doom of the year lists. A strong, dynamic offering from a band that has honed its craft and is sure of the musical statement it is making.

Stream the entire album below:

A mid year reflection: Mohammad Kabeer’s Best albums of 2013

Two months into 2013 i was absolutely gutted. I was dumbfounded by the sheer lack of good metal this year. Probably so because i did not do the required amount of digging and unearthing that i usually do. Yet again i was plain upset compared to the spate of brilliant releases that dotted (quite frequently) the previous year, and nothing of the like this time around. All said and done, the fact remains that metal will come through come what may. And that is precisely what happened. It was time for a second session of dumbfoundedness, only this time, spurred on by the sheer quality of good releases, i seem to have ignored all long.

Well with that in mind, along with the rest of the (active)writers on board, we’ve decided to put up our own little mid year best-of lists. Also hopeful are we, to the fact, that you guys might stumble on something new in the process as well.

Mohammad Kabeer, the man of Grind has just sent me through, this little list. He’s a lazy half ass, but yet still one of the best men in the country for all the latest grind and hardcore. A genre that is still really to catch on around here. Read on!

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All right here goes!

 1. Disciples of Christ/TRIAC split

Great DOC owns this split right here creating some really fast grind that is pure aural destruction. It is unstoppable. TRIAC is not far behind, although much more predictable but still raw and brutal

 

2. Nails – Abandon all Hope

A pretty decent follow up to their last album not as epic but still a lot of fun!

 

3. Sex prisoner – State property (EP)

Sex Prisoner make a triumphant return after a pretty dismal split with Magnum Force and ACxDC sounding a lot heavier, almost falling into the category of Entombedcore.

 

 4. Inter Arma – Sky Burial

Fantastic album which refuses to fall into any category, if you haven’t heard it HEAR IT NOW!

 

5. Seven sisters of Sleep – Opium Morals

Just really thick and punishing Sludge/hardcore that just makes me bang my head without fail, every single time!

 

6. Full of Hell – Rudiments of Mutilation

Full of Hell make their mark this year with a really experimental hardcore album that refuses to play to the gallery

 

7. Fuck the facts – Amer (EP)

As always these guys know their grind and do what they know best! To shock and awe!! Do what no one else can. Definitely a must listen!

 

8. Rotten Sound – Species at War

Rotten Sound still sounding heavy and a letting go of their robot like precision which makes this record sound much more raw in terms of playing.

 

9. NVRD – Coma

Some great catchy hardcore in the vein of converge.

 

 10. All Pigs must Die – Nothing Violates this Nature

Another great hardcore/sludge album. A lot faster and kinda like fusing High on Fire or Black Tusk with hardcore.

 

11.Call of the Void – Dragged Down a Dead End Path

Awesome old school grind mixed with a slight touch of technicality!