Joel Grind – The Yellowgoat Sessions

Achintya Venkatesh reviews the new album from Joel Grind titled The Yellowgoat Sessions, released via Hells Headbangers.

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Tracklist:

01. Ascension
02. Hell’s Master of Hell
03. Vengeance Spell
04. Foul Spirit Within
05. Cross Damnation
06. Grave Encounters
07. Black Order
08. The Eternal One
09. Hail to Cruelty
10. Descension

In this age of preppy and generally trendy derivatives of metal with squeaky clean production and played down imagery, that lack the ardor, rebelliousness, anti-conventionalism and rawness that characterized the genre since its inception, this album is certainly an unapologetic beckoning to the roots of black metal, dating back to the early 1980’s. This is not to imply that metal is entirely about being over-the-top, extreme or exaggerated in its approach. But personally, the sort of metal found on this album is something like a comic book. If it doesn’t have that bit of edge and theatrics to it, it just doesn’t do it for me. Fortunately, Joel Grind, known for his work in the retro-thrash metal band Toxic Holocaust has presented us old schoolers a slab of grimy exaltations and invocations to the overlords and archons of the dark realms of metal. Oh so primordial, ancient, chthonic and down-right filthy. One wouldn’t expect this to be heard in 2013 of all years. But apparently the underground resistance (sorry for the reference, Darkthrone!) is alive and well, and stronger than ever. Did Quorthon have some sort of bastard son in his various peregrinations, or did Thomas Warrior let Grind use the very same bunker he used to record the infamous but ever so eternally influential Triumph of Death?

On the same note, the album starts with an eerie intro, Ascension, and bears an incredibly strong resemblance to the intros used on the early Bathory albums (think Storm of Damnation or Nocturnal Obeisance) and jumps straight into Hell’s Master of Hell which is absolutely blatant Bathory worship but a kickass album opener. I’ve seen many people saying that this could’ve well been an omitted track from Bathory (1984) and I couldn’t agree more. It has a great degree of sonic semblance to War from the very same album, in fact. Vengeance Spell is in the very same vein with a speed-driven, blackened quality to it. The riffs are very catchy and the guitar solo, albeit simplistic perfectly fits in. The fourth track Foul Spirit Within is more plodding and has a slower pace, but features rather similar riffs.

Stream the entire album below:

Cross Damnation has an easily recognizable blackened speed metal quality to it, and is a bit of a filler but very enjoyable nevertheless. The next tracks, Grave Encounters and Black Order continue this trend but the former is far more relentless, aggressive and amusingly over-the-top that would make some question whether Joel Grind was being serious at all while penning down these accursed tunes. The 8th track, The Eternal One, and my personal favourite is malevolent, rancorous Hellhammer worship from start to end in the vein of songs like Buried and Forgotten. The album closer, Hail to Cruelty has a more speed-driven edge to it in the vein of Venom and Motorhead with a smattering of Canadian speed/thrash metal (a la Razor, Exciter, etc). The album ends with an outro, Descension, once again a direct nod to the outros found all over the Bathory catalogue.

This album would get any enthusiast of the First Wave of Black Metal absolutely ecstatic. It’s short and crisp with a comical but honest aggression to go along with it. I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it again – the efforts of artists like Joel Grind serve to preserve a specific sound, that might well get lost in the sands of time lest we lay an excessive emphasis on constant musical innovation and change. By that virtue, this album is one among many underground gems. In short, Joel Grind keeps it real. He should definitely continue releasing stuff in a similar vein as opposed to the comparatively generic retro-thrash, taking us back to a time when there were no limiting, stylistic borders such as thrash or black metal..

 

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Cultes Des Ghoules – Henbane

Today we have reviewer Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviewing the new LP from Cultes Des Ghoules titled Hexbane, released via Hells Headbangers.

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Tracklist:
01. Idylls Of The Chosen Damned
02. The Passion Of A Sorceress
03. Vintage Black Magic
04. Festival Of Devotion
05. The Devil Intimate

When it’s all said and done, black metal is at its best when it is absolutely morbid and twisted, when it evokes a palpable miasma of the unclean, unholy and occult. Genre pioneers Mayhem nailed this vile, eerie atmosphere with the ponderous guitar layers and unearthly vocals of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.  And if that kind of vibe is your cup of tea, no sorry, your splintered bone-goblet of brackish moonshine laced with hallucinogenic herbs, you’re ready to join the acolytes of the Polish black metal sect that goes by the name of Cultes Des Ghoules.

Another one of those orthodox black metal collectives that veils its individual identities, Cultes Des Ghoules established a reputation for crushing black metal that projects an undeniable aura of primal evil and dark rituals with their first album, Haxan, and they’re back to unleash a new set of pandemonic chants and horrific soundscapes.

Stream the album below…now!!!!!

The first thing that stands out is the sound – it’s thick, dense, not at all crudely produced, but still somehow raw and oppressive. The guitar tones are just that little bit over the top in true black metal form, and the drummer varies between fast, double bass-anchored parts and lurching, tribal patterns. This makes the drum work an integral part of the atmospheric effort, not just a faceless obligato running its fleet-footed way in complete disregard of the musical context. The vocals are utterly ghoulish, as indeed they ought to be, and if someone told me the being that uttered these rasping chants and guttural cries was in fact some graveyard-scouring, subterranean monstrosity from a Lovecraft story, I wouldn’t have too much trouble believing them.

The songs are frequently bracketed in brief atmospheric melodies and a restrained use of samples that add to the uncanny atmosphere. Highlights include the rank ululations and simple yet darkly insinuating guitars of ‘The Passion of a Sorceress’ and the acolyte-march riffage and swooning vocal invocations of ‘Festival of Devotion’, but there really isn’t a false step here. These 5 songs are lengthy, hypnotic and completely effective in their creation of an atmosphere of obscure horror. This isn’t the kind of black metal that will dazzle hipsters with an eclectic mix of influences or appeal to the mainstream metal crowd with epic guitar solos and technical drumming. Instead, it’s the equivalent of the kind of horror movie I keep hoping they’ll make some day, something with the lush atmosphere and visceral horror of a Dario Argento film, crossed with the immediacy and immersion of a found-footage film. That’s a combination which we may never see; but in the meantime, Cultes Des Ghoules is putting out the same mix of rich texture and engaging spontaneity, all in service of a chillingly effective whole, in musical form.

Cerekloth – In the Midst of Life we are in Death

We have Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviewing Cerekloth’s new LP ‘In the Midst of Life we are in Death‘, released via Hells Headbangers Records.

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Tracklist:
1.Praeludium
2.Born Of The Void
3.Within The Hollow Crown
4.Halo Of Syringes
5.Nest Of Disease
6.Mesmerizing Holy Death
7.When Outcast Become Kings
8.The Reapers Instant Is Our Eternity

 

Cerekloth draws from the more deliberate, doomy side of the classic death metal sound. Autopsy, Cianide, some Obituary – these are obvious reference points. So you know from the outset not to expect blinding speeds and technicality. What counts is whether Cerekloth have the songs to sustain the atmosphere they’re trying to create. On the evidence of their first full-length, they do.

‘Halo of Syringes’ was previously released on an EP, and it’s easily the centerpiece of this album. The massive, purposeful sound conjures up an atmosphere of inescapable desolation. The vocals, a little like early  Chuck or Reifert, add to the nightmarish vibe. The questing, ominous melodies and layers remind me a little of Ulcerate as well.

The album opener, ‘Preludium/Born of the World’ begins with a long, sludgy instrumental in which half-glimpsed melodies seem to weave in and out of a haze of distorted guitars. The tension slowly builds, ably assisted by the rhythm section, and about three minutes into this track, we’re firmly in slow, doomy death metal territory. Once again, I have to mention how apropos the melodies on this album are. Melody, glibly taken to be an absolute good and hastily added to the generic bag of tricks, has been the downfall of large numbers of modern metal acts, in my opinion. Tunes that would not be out of place on an ABBA record or at a polka revival, with ruddy-cheeked accordion players in their hordes and big-bosomed dancers in dirndls in attendance, are somehow passed off as metal and blared out to clueless fans who mosh along blissfully and imagine they’re actually into heavy music. Those aren’t the kind of melodies Cerekloth deals in; instead, they take us back to Slayer in their heyday, to Autopsy at their most morbid, dealing out melodies that unnerve and forebode.

 

Stream the entire album from the Bandcamp player below:

 

‘Mesmerising Holy Death’ is another standout track, living up to its title. Steady, implacable drums support a sluggish, misanthropic riff. Deep, guttural vocals gurgle out what are no doubt horrific tales through a song that keeps threatening to roar into full-speed mayhem, but instead builds the suspense by retaining its moderate pace while hinting at a release of power to come. Instead, there’s a long, flowing solo with a strangely watery tone that manages not to sound out of place at all. Cerekloth may not be working in the most original idiom, but they’re still here to play by their own rules.

Other highlights include the epic album closer, ‘The Reaper’s Instant Is Our Eternity’ and the riffing on ’Within The Hollow Crown’. The vocals are consistently strong throughout the album, never just a generic grunt but a twisted, gut wrenching wordstew that adds palpably to the impact of each song. The drum work is tight and sure, varying between a half-time feel and mid-tempo blasting, but the real stars here are the guitarist who have a massive, funebreal tone and the tunes to match.