Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Glowingpixie - Proxenus / Elipiedae : Drone

Reviewed by Gird_09

This CD was born from a form of musical collaboration made possible by the tenure of the world wide web. It's based on the idea that people can download a sound, in this case a drone, and then rework it into their own piece of music. Working on music this way is very rewarding, and it's something I welcome. Usually it means that different people's perspectives come into play and the result is unpredictable. Maybe not in this particular genre though. It's exceptionally hard to make drone music that sounds fresh or original.

Still, it's a good piece of drone music, and certainly very calming and soothing. The single drone basis is a good background to bounce other sounds off of. Rain, echoes, metallic noises and various other sounds drift in and out of the mix, and the music is surprisingly dynamic and melodic. It's a very pleasent listening experience, and if you're into drone this is one of the better releases I've heard. Surprisingly the sounds of rain is what gives it that extra bit of life it needs to actually be interesting.

The music doesn't lend itself to deep analysis or contemplation, but rather is an atmospheric recording well suited for dark september nights in the city. To me the music contains images of concrete high rises, contrasted with water running across the surfaces to create a spectacular display of organic patterns.

(Unfortunately the elipidae project no longer seems to be active, so you'll have to live without further information on that subject.)

2011, Dark meadow recordings, CD Album

1. Proxenus / Elipidae [28:48]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rasalhague - Rage inside the Window : Dark Ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09
With its suggestive colors and imagery this cover is the perfect vessel for the music it hides. It folds out to tell a story about a young abused girl. A cliche maybe, but still a potent image, especially when it's allowed to be a subtle horror story like this. Also, if you look at the titles you can see that the story is carried over into the music. Whatever lives in the house with that window, I can tell you I'd rather not meet it any time soon.

The music is crystal clear, atmospheric and well arranged. At times I think it sounds a little plasticcy/soft synth, but not in a major way. The sounds are mostly organic and well balanced. I especially like the way Rasalhague manages to combine primitive industrial sounds and beats with clean dynamic strings and subtle drones. Like much of the genre it sounds like a soundtrack, but unlike a lot of the genre this could actually be one.

My pulse dials down a notch or two, and that is a good thing. That's the reason we listen to ambient music. Additionally the tracks follow each other in a way that makes sense, both to the progression of the story they tell, and the moods they conjure. It's very evocative and I find myself wanting to really delve into the soundscapes. I especially like the second track "Squalor Prison", both for the general mood, and for the lovely inhuman suggestive chewing sounds that suddenly pop out. When the whole track ends with a groan of pain after a short burst of talking, you know someone has been suffering in that prison.

As mentioned the album is intensely clean, crisp and pure, and it is in fact mastered by John Stillings, of Steel Hook-fame. That makes sense. It's a good thing too. Having heard quite a few dark ambient albums by now I can tell you that proper mastering is really important to stand out. So many albums and projects sound a bit too muddy and lack the clarity you really need to convey the subtle nuances this sort of music usually contains. This album however is spot on when it comes to production.

To sum it up: It's worth your money.

2011, Malignant Records, CD Album

1 Danielle's Dilemma (Her Birth)
2 Squalor Prison
3 Mother is the Disaster
4 Danielle's Dilemma (Her Removal)
5 Communication Depravity
6 Taming the Feral Child

Baalberith - Abortion of Religious Futility : Black Metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

Note: this is not the Baalberith you think it is.

Let's cut straight to the chase: the cover and name of this album is beyond infantile. However that is a genre trope, so I'm willing to overlook that. It looks like a cross between the aesthetics of the original Norwegian black metal bands, and something more modern. And that is what I'm expecting as I pop the album in the player. Old style lo fi, aggressive and dark as hell. If infantile track titles, covers and album names was a put off I'd never gotten into this genre in the first place. So that's fine. Though, as I grow older it becomes harder to look beyond this kind of stuff.

However what I'm getting is a different story alltogether. This album is piss. I don't mean that in a good way either. It's not disgustingly entertaining they way German piss-porn can be. It's just crap. The music is out of beat, poorly mixed, poorly arranged and completely unoriginal. It sounds like a one man band recorded live in studio - complete with guitars, drums, vocals and synth. It's bloody horrible.

The first three notes sound like there might be something here, but the rest is let down upon let down. Though the first track is the absolute apex of shit on this album. Thank the good lord it's only eight tracks. Cos nine tracks of this would make me reach for... anything...

There are upsides: The vocalist is good. The guitarist is mediocre, but the drummer should be shot. I don't think he manages to keep proper time for a whole bar through the entire album. Which of course makes everything else sound completely chaotic. (Again, in a bad way.)

If you ditch the drummer, or work in a genre where total imprecision can be a good thing I'll gladly give you another listen, but this is just beyond the pale. Form a crust-ambient band or a grind core outfit - or slip the drummer some cyanide.

This has got to be the worst review we've ever written here at Kaliglimmer. Thank you for that atleast.

2011, UK, Dark Meadow recordings, CD-album

1 Abortion of Religious Futility
2 Writhe in the Flesh
3 Battle for Blazing Dawn
4 Infernal Ruler
5 Encased in Blasphemy
6 Bearer of True Light (In Satan we Trust)
7 Bestial Creation
8 Consumed by Fire

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ghoul Detail – Medicated : Noise/power noise/industrial/dark ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09

I admit both the name of the band and the cover of the album puts me off a great deal. It makes me think of an Insane Clown Posse clone, and considering how fucking awful the original is, well... Luckily my prejudice is just that, and nothing more. The music is a blend of noise, industrial and drone with deep and dark roots.

The machine like sonic landscapes on the album are easily hypnotic, and I find my thoughts drifting. In many ways the music reminds me of projects like Imminent (Imminent Starvation) and Converter but with a softer sensibility. That is the range of sounds is much the same, but the content and presentation is quite different, and much more ambient.

The result is a piece of atmospheric rust, and I like that. The crystal clear production values makes the music effective in conveying a feeling of scattered debris and battered junk, everything illuminated by an unhealthy glow. The music is certainly something you should listen to in a dark room, and alone. It's not an album you pop in the player during a date.

There are drawbacks too. As with many other albums in this landscape it's too bloody long. It gets boring after about fifty minutes, and very few albums have much staying power beyond that point. Music of this sort is solitary mood music, and staying focussed for that long is hard – unless you're distracted by other activities and just not doing the music proper justice.

My favorite track on the album is Pathfinder. It stands out against the backdrop and works really well as a slightly up tempo track. The beats are also a great contrast to the bubbly electronic bog of moist darkness in the track. A very good track, on a very good album.

2010, Dark Meadow Recordings, CD album,

1 Intro [1:18]
2 Black spoon rising [6:57]
3 Psittacosis [6:23]
4 Valium Sanctuary [8:37]
5 Pathfinder [8:21]
6 Scabies [7:37]
7 City of the Living Dead [8:54]
8 Interferon [7:08]
9 Sceptic Spectre [8:18]
10 Medicate my way to enlightenment [7:28]

Monday, May 9, 2011

Odpörovät 1968 : Elend – Doom metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

Evidently inspired by the edgier bits of bands like My Dying Bride Elend starts off surprisingly soft and subtle. Once the music gets going however any lingering hopes of a sleeping pillow rapidly dissipate.

Elends cover is toned down and hauntingly dark, with touches of gothic imagery as well as more overt metal elements. It's good craftsmanship and conveys the message of the music deftly. Luckily it doesn't end up anywhere near the facile campyness of Cradle of Filth - and it would be an oversight to call this music "gothic metal". (Frankly, the cover alone should perhaps be enough to buy the album. It's really well done.)

The vocals are fitting, and reminds me a bit of Funeral, something I appreciate as it gives Odpörovät 1968 their own musical space to develop in. The guitars are edgy and distorted to the point where the result is a great deal heavier than most doom I have heard. Granted, that's not very much compared to the true followers of the genre, but enough that I know that much of it can get quite mushy. Still, the soft synth piano that provides melody in the background for certain parts leaves a lot to be desired. I know I have high demands, but this particular piano sounds even more artificial than usual. The least you should do is throw a bit of reverb in the mix to soften the sound.

The music is mostly deftly executed and consistent, but at times the music sounds a bit thrown together. This is especially true for Abkehr, which sounds a bit randomly arranged at times. Considering the length of the album it wouldn't be a bad idea to cut a little closer to the bone. Contrast this with its follow up Mother of Negation, and you know what I mean.

All in all it's a good album, and it deserves more attention. Odpörovät is a project I'd like to follow for the next years, as I think it will develop into something really exciting. It has direction, intention and edge – and I appreciate that. It still lacks that little something to push it that last inch, but it's getting there. Elend is a bleak slab of sound, and I'm glad I got to review it.

Germany, 2010, Ominous Silence, CD album (limited to 250 copies)

1 Mournau [14:13]
2 Nothing but Death Remains [6:52]
3 Kremation [4:57]
4 Abkehr [6:45]
5 Mother of Negation [5:53]
6 Zeitgeist Nokturne [5:49]
7 Mortal [7:30]
8 The Lowest Day [15:59]

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Syrinx - Hunted: Without Tears in Their Eyes, Drone

Review by Batcheeba

Syrinx apparently has a crew in constant flux. For this spesific release crew members are Glowingpixie, Ghoul Detail and Pink Venom.
Syrinx, from greek mytology, is the tale of a nymph who in her desperate attempt to avoid Pan's constant wooing, got transformed into hollow water reeds by the water nymphs. Pan cut these reeds down and made his famous pan flute. What a fate. A rather tragic tale of  love lost and brutal last solutions to captivate your loved one. My thoughts wander off to Dennis Nielsen and his attempts to stop his lovers from leaving him. We all try our hardest to keep what we love, sometimes in a fashion that can be rather inhumane. The syringe gets it's name from this myth, and we all know that some syringes are used to kill the killer...

Syrinx's release is titled Without Tears In Their Eyes, and consists of two long tracks clocking in on 26:30 and 40:54. I don't mind long trakcs at all as long as the tracks either keep feeding me interesting breaks, or manage to create a meditative trancelike state in me. I'm hard to please that way. Syrinx somehow manages to do both.

Usually when I read up on a release and the first thing i see is "drone", I will feel a slight twitch in my right eyebrow. I am so sick of the whole drone genre by now. It takes a shitload to impress me. Bands are spewing out completely uninteresting material by the bagfull. I'm sick of it. But Syrinx actually impresses me with their distorted bass and guitars, noise elements and dirty scattered beats.
All this is wrapped up in what I would describe as sounding like a dirty, ambient Sun 0))). Syrinx certainly know how to keep things interesting. This is ultra organic soundscape, complimented with various stunning melodic patterns wrapped all around it. The tracks come across as very mature and intelligent. The mastering sounds a bit rough, but I like it rough. The only downside with the production is that alot of the more interesting elements drown out. Maybe that's the intention? I don't really mind, but maybe you will.

Out of the two tracks the first one, Corridor to Islandisation, is by far the most interesting listen. Maybe the second track, We Have no future,  fails to impress me equally due to it's somewhat repetetive nature. Not a good thing when the last track is 40 minutes long. This is where Syrinx fails. They proved to me in the first track that they are more than able to take their music into unexpected territory. More of that, please. I have to wait until app 30 minutes into the second track to find an interesting break and those creative melodic elements. From here on out this track is very good, but that does not forgive the initial 20 some minutes that got me rather pissed off.

The cover is a card board slip, with a rather trippy, psychedelic design on the front consisting of what seems to be a multitude of deers, rabbits, rats and bears in 3 circles. The cover is grand. Even though it gives the impression of a prog band rather than a drone band (despite the two genres being cousins and all). We like surprises.

All in all a very interesting release, but I would ask the Syrinx crew to think long and hard before venturing back into the studio. There is nothing wrong with drone, but you have to stand out and be unique, and Syrinx certainly has the musical talents to stand out. Work harder at what makes your sound unique. Those parts really impressed me.

Lable: Dark Medow Recordings
Band site:
Released 2010


Track one: Corridor to Islandisation
Track two: We Have No Future

Subterrestrial – Conspiracy Music : Dark Ambient / experimental

Reviewed by Gird_09

We have reviewed these guys before and convincing us to do it again isn't hard. Subterrestrial has to be one of the more fitting band names out there. Their music does not belong under the bright light of the sun. It's fragile, obscure and nocturnal – and at times it feels like one is somewhere down in a cavernous space surrounded by the chirps of unseen, gigantic, blind, albino insects and rodents. It's not pleasent, despite being ambient. Unsettling is the word on my lips. Conspiracy Music is another venture into this underground labyrinthine landscape. Travelling down Acheron with a single torch to light the walls and ceiling above us, while the black water hides a world better left undiscovered.

The music is detailed, yet also very minimalistic and mostly made up of treated sounds, echoes and soft strings with squelching synthesizers providing a sort of shadow puppet theatre against the granite walls. In one way it's like a soviet sci fi film from an abandoned Mars colony, while at other times it's like standing in a lost temple complex in Peru. The music is cinematic and evocative, but also very contamplative.

As downloads go, this is one of the best I've heard. The power of the track the Bohemian Grove is something I rarely come across, and the contrast between the melodies and the minute soundscaping is effective as well as admirable. It takes me back to when I first discovered ambient music, despite being miles away from the likes of the Orb and KLF. Still in a track like Black Helicopters I hear touches of both Orbital and Future Sound of London. The tracks stand out against each other in a good way, and they are allowed their own personality. While the album concept is cohesive as few each track is still an individual track. I'd be hard pressed to find the fillers on this one.

I also feel an urgent need to address the "weight" of the instruments. The music never sounds computer generated or like its been composed on software synths. While there is no doubt that the music is electronic (and atleast mostly digital) it sounds and feels real and organic. The reverb and textures feels entirely natural.

I do have trouble relating the titles to the mood of the music though. There's very little that feels like black helicopters and Illuminati, or the cross and bones society in this music. Still, I'm not going to let that stand in the way of my enjoyment. I can literally feel my heartbeat and breathing slow down as the album progresses. And that is despite having to pay extra attention to write a review. That's a rare quality.

Subterrestrial has done it again, and they are rapidly becoming one of our favorite bands of the genre here at Kaliglimmer HQ!

2010, Free Download, Self Released

1 Bovine Mutilator [07:50]
2 The Bohemian Grove [8:00]
3 322 [8:08]
4 October 13 1307 [8:04]
5 Black Helicopters [808]
6 Illuminati [15:34]
7 Things Seen in the Sky [8:18]

Black Velvet Stereo – Iron Trees EP : Dark Ambient / Drone

Reviewed by Gird_09

This four track EP comes with an anaglyph "cover", depicting a riverbed in a forest. While the sounds might not immediatly conjure forth arboreal images its not entirely unfitting. There is something entirely artificial about anaglyph images, while the image itself is of nature in motion. The music is organic, while certainly artificial in every aspect. The music is not about being "real", it's closer "metareal".

The music is distorted and many of the audio fragments are dislocated, battered and broken, but the result is oddly soothing. Like it says on the download page: "Played & recorded at home by Black velvet stereo
Use on this record : Old Synths / Bad Samplers / Piano Toy / Reversed Guitars / Tape Echoes / Broken Drums / ... " As much as the aesthetic is one of low tech, distorted and improvised it sounds incredibly clean and precise. Low tech certainly doesn't translate to muddled, in this case.

The only drawback on this release is its length. It could be twice as long. Each track could easily be stretched for a few minutes more without losing any potency or mood. Not often I would say that.

So, break out your mp3 player and your anaglyph glasses.

Epileptic Dog Productions, Free download, 2010

1 Small Leaf [05:30]
2 The Space Below [04:09]
3 Let the Sun Burn Your Eyes [04:08]
4 Flowers [05:16]

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hyios – Consuetudines : Dark Ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09

The cover for this thing is simply beautiful. The dark blue depiction of something that I don't really recognize is captivating and mysterious, and once I pop in the CD I realize that the match is 1:1. Upon leafing through the digipack I am even further enthralled. Runes, greek letters, a pyramid and a pharaonic individual and several oblique and mystical references triggers my natural curiosity. The inside cover also contains the words "cultus subterraneus", and this translates well to the images that float around in my head as I listen to the first track "tephra". I can nearly feel the cold granite against my bare feet as I descend a spiral staircase into the bowels of mother earth, dressed only in an acolyte's humble garments.

The element I really want to bring to your attention on this album is the balanced texture of the music. The well crafted soundscapes are rich and saturated with moist tactility. There is so much surface on this music you almost expect to find moss growing on the CD.

When I was a teenager me and some friends used to hang out in an old German bunker from the occupation. It was a dank and mildewed cavern where we lit dozens of candles and torches and set up tree stumps to sit on. The floor was covered in planks, and it was quite comfortable in there, despite the presence of hundreds of spiders, egg pouches in the ceiling and grimy water dripping down from above. We even brought a oiuja board along at some point. That is the place I would like to bring this album. I'm quite certain the sounds would mesh perfectly with the natural ambiance of the place, to the point where you're not certain what's in your head, what's background and what's music. I think I even hear a bat sonar in there, on the track called "Algor".

It's very hard to imagine this as ever having been recorded in a studio, and as I progress through the tracks the album even makes me forget the sun shining outside my window on this spring day. I'm gonna keep that in mind for the bright sweaty horror that is July.

At some point I think I hear some audio artefacts in the reverb, but I mention that only to point out to you that this album is so good I have to pick it apart with tweezers to find something negative. It's excellent. In fact it's so good I wish I had bought it when I was 19 and had the time and concentration to really enjoy an album as much as this one deserves.

2010 – Malignant Records, CD Album.

1 Tephra [7:17]
2 Algor [8:54]
3 Teiwaz [5:00]
4 Crater [4:29]
5 Aquila [8:17]
6 Rex [7:55]
7 Nasjoir [7:48]

Flores Funebres – A moment before Nothingness : Neo Classical / Dark Ambient

"Reviewed" by Gird_09

The first thing that hits me with this release is digital, digital and more digital. I hate digital spinet, and I hate digital strings. It sounds like shit, always has always will. It's something I just can't see beyond, even though I try. If you don't have access to the real thing or usable samples I say you're not meant to "compose classical music". It sounds like plastic, and even as cheap plasticcy sounds go this one is worse than most I've ever heard.

Additionally it's conceited, pompous and completely anonymous. I usually try to find some redeeming feature about every bad album I review, but with this there is nothing. There is no texture I can relate to, there is no discernable content to hang on to, the sounds are 90% horrible and the compositions are less interesting than nearly anything. It even seems that every god damn awful track is a variation on the same theme.

The only positive thing I can say is that it would probably work well as a soundtrack for a fantasy computer game – where people aren't paying attention or expecting anything of quality.

This album is worthless, and I'm not going to say more about that. If you like this kind of music you're deaf, desperate and born three centuries to late.

I'm not going to be bothered to type in the titles and shit for this album. Just go here if you want to download it, for some absurd reason. It's free, and that's about as much as it's worth paying for.

News Update!

Kaliglimmer is going through some changes, and for now that means that we are not accepting new submissions for some time.

We will continue to post reviews of the material we have accepted so far, and look forward to future updates. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Burzum - Fallen : Black Metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

Following up on last year's Belus is no easy task, and the cover does make me a bit sceptical. It's a sharp departure from the gloomy aesthetics we've come to associate with Burzum (while still deply rooted in romanticism). Even the fonts have been changed from gothic to a simple plain font with serifs. Belus was a powerful and personal album and one of the best comebacks of all time. With Vikernes' discography in mind he really needs to work hard to stay interesting.

The first track is an ambient introductory track and sets the level of expectations high. Much higher, alas, than the album can live up to. Apart from the two neo classical albums Burzum has been consistently interesting on all the releases, and Det som Engang Var, Filosofem and Belus represent some of the best metal albums of all time, as I see it. Like I said, not easily followed, and evidently Varg Vikernes has gone off on the deep end with this album. One of Burzum's strong points has always been a direct and primitive minimalism with harsh sounds and vocals straight from the throats of a dying troll. None of this is present on Fallen, and the arrangements are even at times something more akin to progressive metal. The vocals are quite simply sad. I will never forget when I first heard Vikernes' vocals, and when Belus came out I was a bit let down by the change in style (but it still worked well) – on this album the change is complete. Melodic clean vocals are combined with some of the most boring attempts at distorted vocals I've ever heard. Very sad, very sad.

It's commendable that Burzum changes style, and I respect Vikernes' intention with this, but it ends up being somewhat mediocre. It's hard to judge objectively considering Burzum's history and legendary status, but I'm not convinced. I can see this album growing on me, but I doubt very much that I will ever grow to like the vocals (though Vikernes sings better than you'd expect). The melodies are interesting and Burzum has matured in its expression and depth, but the content doesn't really match the ambitions. I wish there was a bit more power, and perhaps a little bit more of the primitive nerve of earlier albums. It's not entirely bad, but it's not really good either.

The lyrics nowhere near approach the mythical content of the earlier albums. Varg Vikernes is perhaps one of the very few black metal lyricists with any demonstrable ability to actually write a good lyric, but the ones on this album certainly doesn't represent his best work. The mystic dark gnosis has been replaced by very obvious psychological lyrics. For the most part anyway.

Fallen is Burzum's second album since getting out of jail, and the years of near isolation has evidently had effect – as is to be expected. You might say it sounds uninspired, but I suppose unfinished is more accurate. Despite evidently having been more meticulously produced and mastered than previous efforts. I recommend this album for completists. The rest of us are just gonna have to see what he comes up with next year. I do hope he comes up with something.

Norway, 2011, CD album, Byelobog Productions

1 Fra Verdenstreet [1:03]
2 Jeg Faller [7:51]
3 Valen [9:22]
4 Vanvidd [7:06]
5 Enhver til Sitt [6:16]
6 Budstikken [10:10]
7 Til Hel og Tilbake Igjen [5:57]

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Black Scorpio Underground – Attica : Electro Industrial / Experimental

Reviewed by Gird_09

The first thing that strikes me when I open the cover to stuff the cd into my player is the alchemical imagery. Presumably a rendition of a cosmological model complete with the three alchemical processes and astrological symbols – as well as a whole lot more it would take me more effort to interpret. It's a good way to tickle my curiosity.

I'm a bit disappointed when I hear the Hitler sample on Acid Fascist. It's a bit overdone, and I'm certain I've heard this particular speech in atleast three different tracks. But this initial scepticism is rapidly vanquished by the power and energy of the track. It's a thumper, put simply. The juxtaposition of Hitler and Leary is also interesting in its own way. Not sure if it's the way that's intended, but it does make me smile. Something about different forms of totalitarianism.

In general I'm often reminded of Skinny Puppy from the Too Dark Park / Last Rights era. The methodology is certainly reminiscent of Goettel's audio sculptures (sadly something they've abandoned or failed at since his death) and the choice of samples and the way they are processed is pure electro industrial at its peak. There's also other stuff here, and BSU manages to mix genres in a compelling way. Skinny Puppy is supplemented by smatterings of Syd Barret and Nurse With Wound – there's even some Death in June in there... Old school as we like to say.

The tracks are mostly consistent in terms of style. Blessed B the Little Children sounds a bit out of place, but it's a good break – and good albums should have a break. Too many people create albums thinking they are collections of single tracks and pay little heed to the album as a conceptual whole. This is not the case with this one. It has that well considered dramaturgy an album should have. It progresses through the tracks and builds something towards the end. I like that.

This is a form of music I rarely hear these days, and I have missed it. Not sure it's the most original album, but it's certainly not the most derivative either. There aren't too many leaves on this particular branch anymore, and very few of them are as brilliantly green as the Black Scorpio Underground.

2009, CD Album,

1 Acid Fascist [4:14]
2 Artificial Infestation [4:54]
3 Eulogy Satanis [5:16]
4 Blessed B the Little Children [4:21]
5 Chant ov Dreams [2:22]
6 Digital Whore [3:40]
7 the Rise of the Magus [2:49]
8 Blood in my Dreams [5:11]
9 War Mantra [4:46]
10 I Saw You Dead [2:18]
11 Revolutionation [3:14]
12 Ambient 23 [4:43]
13 NYC1970 [2:08]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sektor 304 – Soul Cleansing – Industrial. Experimental

Review by Batcheeba.

What do you get if you hot wire early Einstürzende, say Strategien Gegen Architektur, to a pissed of homicidal robot, say Mark 13 from Hardware? Throw in some old school black metalish inspired vocals too and you will end up with Sektor 304.
It's that good. I don't really know where to begin with this review, as I want to say it all at once. This is beyond amazing. This release needs to be in your collection. And it's certainly off the normal Malignant path.

Sektor 304 is João Filipe Pais and André Coelho. And together these two create a whole new industrial experimental metal heaven. I'm so blown away it's ridiculous. They list power tools and metal junk to the list of instruments, and hell yes I'm so thrilled to hear someone actually banging away at real metal for once, instead of using fucking soft synth for everything. This my, dear readers, is proper hard core. What I really love is that they manage to combine the old school industrial rawness with more contemporary electronic sounds. And it works like you would not believe. On top of that you have the vocals. At times brutal screaming, at times eerie and threatening and subtle. All this is accompanied by rhythmic drums and a haunting drone inspired soundscape, yet surprisingly melodic at times. Think Tetsuo at it's most desperate and brutal, think Ichi the killer at it's most fucked up moments. There you have it: Sektor 304.
I have to mention the mastering done by the legendary J. Stillings (Steel Hook Studios/ Steel Hook Prosthesis). This smells of his to the point, no bullshit style. I'm a huge fan of his work, and this is just yet another star for him. Excellent choice to have Stillings master this release. Perfect fit.

I can only imagine what these guys would sound like live. My experience is that proper industrial like this always kills any live gig. If they bring even a fraction of the energy from this release to stage, it has to be pretty fucking mind blowing to watch. I'm one of those people who find hard core industrial noise like this to be meditative. If it's quality noise, I feel relaxed. And I feel relaxed.
The track titles should also have some attention, as they really are so spot on for this release. With titles such as Body Hammer, Voodoo Machine, Death Mantra and Blood Rush, the primitive and brutal force almost tears it's way into your head. The vibe is of post apocalyptic warriors. It is indeed very sexual. At least I am a little turned on.

The cover is also a real gem. From the moment you lay your eyes on it you know you are in for a brutal experience. Black, red and white 6 panel digipack, with a threatening minimalist design. Skulls, war paint, voodoo vibes and an overall primitive theme pulls this release together in a brilliant way.

There is really nothing left to say besides buy this CD. You need it. It's a brutal fist in your face, and you need it.

2010, CD Album, Malignant Records

Track list:

1: Body Hammer
2:Gravity Factor
3: Voodoo Machine
4: Pulse Generator
5: The Beast
6: Power Exhange
7: Blood Rush
8: Death Mantra
9: Final Transmission

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Phelios - Astral Unity. Dark ambient, drone, isolationism

Review by Batcheeba

I've been having a drought period when it comes to writing reviews. And I will admit that upon reading the info on Phelios release I released a slight sigh. More drone/dark ambient whatever I thought to myself. I press play and that negative first impression is wiped away within seconds.
This is not the run of the mill material we see so much of these days, this is very different.

Phelios is a one man band orchestrated by Martin Stuertzer, and he has 5 releases, counting this one, to his name. Astral Unity released in 2010 is his first on Malignant.

Astral Unity is unmistakeably dark, but it's an intelligent and mature darkness. I can hear the thought process behind the tracks, making this release stand out in a sea of mindless and meaningless music in this genre. I don't hear references to horror films, I hear references to literature, art, philosophy and existentialism. Where most artists in these genres try to create a dark and hollow atmosphere that does not exist besides their own head, Phelios takes us on a tour of downtown Detroit or Berlin.
This is industrial in the concrete sense of the word, it's tactile and organic. And very real. I can relate. That it always a good sign.

Even though the title of this release may fool you into thinking you're in for an out of body experience, it will not fuck with your aura or anything like that. Phelios' Astral Unity is an extremely grounded form of astral journey. No need to leave your body. Feel the asphalt under your feet as you walk. Phelios has intention and direction. Destination complete.

What stands out with this release is the subtle rhythmic beats, the mesmerizing soundscapes, the composition is best described as a prolonged exhalation. The tracks flow in and out of each other creating a seamless experience for the listener. The tracks are between 5-8 minutes and they could actually be even longer. I applaud Stuertzer for his patience and ability to minimize the sounds and still create such a vast space of aural communication. Combining vague folk elements with music concrete is also very interesting. The old school synth elements with a touch of 70's italian prog thrown into it in the last track Cold Unity, is simply brilliant! I would love more of that! This is my fav track from this release. It stands out, in a good way though.

I have to mention the stunning cover. With its 6 panel digipack with gold foil stamping this is really beautifully executed design. The art is a rather dark take on the trippy covers your would expect from a psy trance band. With it's black, gold and brown images of a star cloud, this is truly stunning and a perfect match for the content.

I am tempted to say this would be a perfect film score, but actually Astral Unity is the perfect music for literature. The soundscape Stuertzer has created with this release actually makes me interested in his previous releases. And that takes a lot for a bitter old woman like my self. Cred for that. I'm impressed.

Country: Germany.

Track list:

1 Astral Unity
2 Astral Visions
3 Mindcontrol
4 Deadspace
5 Voyager
6 Origin
7 Cloud sector ß
8 Cold unity

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Choronzon : Ziggurat of Dead Shibboleths - Electronic / Experimental / Industrial Metal / Progressive Metal / occult

Reviewed by Gird_09

New material from Choronzon is always exciting, and this particular album has been long anticipated. We've done reviews of Choronzon here earlier and my enthusiasm for the project has certainly not diminished since then.

If you're familiar with the band's style this album won't come as a surprise to you. It's dark, eclectic and edgy, with a basis in metal and progressive music. The album manages to contain both the hallucinatory and lengthy the Dead, and tracks based in more traditional metal in way that never seems forced. From the get go it's a bit heavier than I'd expect, and the album starts off forcefully and goes right for the kill. I like that.

As with all of Choronzon's work this is full of references, and occult references in particular. A ziggurat is ritual structure similar to a pyramid (or even more like a kofun), but found in Mesopotamia, while Shibboleth refers to a biblical story. The exact meaning of the album title eludes me at the moment, but the juxtaposition of the two terms certainly triggers my curiosity. Perhaps the album is a sort of altar on which no longer valid practices of differentiation are sacrificed. Hell if I know. Interpreting the work to it's full extent is way beyond this review though.

The occult references in titles like The Great Work, and the Revealing is even more evident. I've claimed that Choronzon's music is apocalyptic both in the latter world-ending meaning, as well as the original revelatory meaning – and that's a claim I stand by. All you need to be convinced is a listen to the track the Dead, and you're sold.

It's no secret that I laud P. Emerson Wiliams' vocals any chance I get but I have to say that this album represents an apex so far. His voice is more focused than earlier, and the darker content of the music is expertly carried over by the vocals. Cos, have no doubt, this album is very dark. Darker than what I expected in fact, and with more overt metal roots than we've heard from Choronzon for quite some time now. Listen to the guitars on Monoliths Down or the speed metal riffing on Spacedust to Spacedust, and you'll see what I mean. This shift towards heavier music is welcome, but Choronzon retains its mystical roots and strange blend of styles as well. Love it.

It's hard to compare the music to anything else, so I'm not going to. Suffice to say that it's progressive occult electronic metal, and you really need to check it out if you can. I have to say, that this is my favorite album by Choronzon so far. I'm not kidding. It's that good. Three thumbs up!

USA, Inner-X-Musick, CD album, 2010

1 Formula [4:33]
2 Identify the Patient [5:09]
3 Monoliths Down [4:29]
4 Ride Through the Night Sky [3:40]
5 Spacedust to Spacedust [6:04]
6 the Dead [10:30]
7 the Great Work [6:34]
8 the Revealing [6:21]
9 Wor Humana [6:19]
10 We Come Into Evening [5:25]
11 Ziggurat of Dead Shiboleths [3:12]

BSV : ARV – Experimental / Surreal

Reviewed by Gird_09

Let me start off by saying that this is a very eclectic and experimental album, with a wide range of styles crammed into a single recording. The tracks range from IDM, to Noise, to ambient and something akin to "traditional" early industrial music, and then it hits you with hip hop and even dub bass lines. It's very hard to say something general about the album except that it's all very experimental. The sounds are evidently sourced from a variety of sources and supplemented more or less randomly with musical compositions. At times it seems unfocused, but the music is strangely consistent in mood and arrangement. The theme feels well considered, but I'm not sure I can grasp it.

At times this music is pure pata, other times Aphex Twin on valium and ... Well, it's hard to say. For the fans of such music I'm sure this release is excellent, but I have to say I have a hard time finding it exciting personally. I love the way it sounds like a tape recording, and I love the complete lack of artistic compromise on it, but it doesn't do anything for me. I'd recommend this music to fans of Nurse With Wound, Caroliner Rainbow, Renaldo and the Loaf and similarly dissolved surreal music from bands I've never heard of. To me, personally, I think this kind of music is about as interesting as watching dogs poop.

I'm afraid this review is quite short, and doesn't do the album proper justice. If you're into old school experimental music I think this is for you, otherwise, just leave it alone. I know some people that would love this album.

I have to say though that there is no way for me to express how much I adore the hand made cover. I've sullied more than one wall with spray paint in my youth, and the low tech spray can hand made cover is very inspiring to me. If you're some kind of computer design elitist you're gonna hate it. But, uh, fuck off. It's excellent. (Apologies for the horrible scan.)

dubuque strange music society, 2010, CD Album

1 Unititled [2:04]
2 Unititled [2:44]
3 Unititled [4:00]
4 Unititled [3:00]
5 Unititled [2:12]
6 Unititled [3:16]
7 Unititled [3:52]
8 Unititled [1:44]
9 Unititled [3:10]
10 Unititled [12:11]
11 Unititled [3:07]

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Infant Cycle – plays fender bass guitars and bird cages of unknown origin. Exclusively. : Ambient / Experimental / Instrumental

Reviewed by Gird_09

From the very get go this cd reminds me positively of the most ambient tracks by Loop Guru, a project I really love. It's intoxicatingly calm and soothing, and I might even add meditative. Not in the new age sense, but in a "I want to listen to this while solving intricate logic puzzles, because it would help me concentrate". This is not an album that will have you humming or singing refrains but it will lower your heartbeat and make your life ten minutes longer. In fact, listening to this album over and over for the rest of your life might be the secret the Taoist alchemists were after: the key to eternal life. Pretty neat huh?

The album title is quite descriptive of what you get. There's bass melodies in the bottom, and various other sounds floating around. I severly doubt those distant choirs I hear are bird cages, but who am I? Doesn't really matter. The music works, and I like it.

There are three tracks on the album, and they're all quite short. Well, the second one is anyway, the other two are of decent length. Perhaps I should call it an E.P. Maybe even a single? These categories are basically of theoretical interest only and I'll stick to calling it an album, cos quite simply, that's what it feels like. Despite the modest running time, it feels like something very complete. Couldn't have been longer, without feeling forced. It's right the way it is.

I guess that's pretty much all I need to say about that. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

2010, the Ceiling Undiscs, CD album,

1 Shiny Venus (over [6:04]
2 Shiny Venus (detail 1) [1:15]
3 Shiny Venus (detail 2) [5:38]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sönderriket – Rum för Avsked : industrial metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

According to our policy we prefer not to do music that isn't published by a label or netlabel, but we are willing to make exceptions. Sönderriket is one of those instances where this feels appropriate. Sönderriket is strange form of lo fi industrial metal with touches of crust and noise rock. The music is urgent and full of energy. The rythm section is punkish with a touch of rockabilly and the melodies are bluntly playful.

Industrial Metal is mostly dead. Not just dead, but desecrated, cremated and best left forgotten. Long passed are the days when die Krupps, Ministry and Front Line Assembly were at their prime. These days most industrial metal is so shitty it's not even worth pissing on, like the most ridiculous tracks by KMFDM. This music is different, and I hope this signals a new wave of innovation is a genre that more and more sounds like techno with guitars.

Granted, the tracks do sound a bit demoish at times, both in a positive and negative way. The vocals are too loud compared to the rest of the music, and the result is a loss of power. On the positive side the guitars and vocals are distorted in a lovely punkish manner. The directness of the music is a big fuck you to polished wanna be pop musicians.

If nothing else, you should atleast take the time to check out the first track, Självhjelpskoncentrat Ström av Medvetande and Skottforlossning, and the titular Rum för Avsked. These tracks are certainly the most interesting on the release, both in style, execution and attitude. Some tracks are sadly best skipped however. Om at Inte Kunne Välja Verklighet is simply horrible, and in no way fits the release. The same is for Angående Vetenskaperi and the vocals on Som av Jord (which is otherwise good). Leaving them out would have lifted the album significantly and made for a more focused experience. Maybe there is something uniquely swedish about stuff like that, cos to me it sounds like some horribly mutilated crap by Bob Hund or the less interesting tracks by Joakim Thåström. (Please, would somebody shut Bob Hund up, forever?)

The Swedish titles and language might be offputting to some, but still there should be enough to take home from this even if you don't understand squat anyway. Give it a go. You might be inspired.

Sweden, self released free download, 2010

1 Ström av medvetande [2:46]
2 Parasit [2:23]
3 Självhjelpskoncentrat [3:28]
4 Jon/cirrus, Cirrostratus, Cumulus [3:05]
5 Skottforlossning [2:27]
6 Om att inte kunne välja verklighet [3:16]
7 Rum för Avsked [2:49]
8 Angående Vetenskaperi [3:24]
9 Som av Jord [2:02]

Yurei – Working Class Demon : Progressive / Experimental / Jazz / Rock / Heavy something

Reviewed by Gird_09

Yurei is a japanese form of ghost, and the word literally translates to faint spirit. In other words we are dealing with a world of ephemera. This theme is carried over by the artwork on the album cover. The gray scale image of a faceless individual sitting on bench surrounded by snow is as haunting as it is alluring. The freezing temperature is tangible.

Yurei is the brainchild of Bjeima, whom we mentioned in our review of Delirium Bound, and is a form of dissonant progressive music not easily classified. The roots are firmly in rock, but there is enough jazz on this album to make me want to call it experimental. Toss in some really heavy drum portions, and the genre busting is complete. In light of this I am not certain what to make of the title. There is certainly nothing working class about the style of music, but there is certainly something deeply demonic about it.

The first track doesn't do it for me at all. I have to admit that. I don't like the vocals, and the music fails to stand out. The second track however convinces me that this is an album that could really grow on me. The inclusion of a xylophone into the mix of various disarrayed instruments and dissosicative beats adds a level of atmosphere I really appreciate. By track three I am sold.

At times the arrangements are truly brilliant, and the instrumentation is perfect. I like the way the guitar interacts with the bass, and the various melodic portions, and I really appreciate the way the album progresses. For each track it feels like your are drawn further into a maze with Pompel and Pilt-like properties. Like the evil button eyed devil worshipping version of Åse Kleveland accompanied by Kryztof Komeda and Tony Iommi. I am convinced, and find myself drifting through a gray scale world of modernist polish horror films. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but it does to me. This is dark rock unlike anything I am familiar with. (Admittedly I am not much up to speed on the world of rock since Zeppelin disbanded...)

The track Suicide Sitcom is by far my favorite, with its predatory bassline, distorted vocals and generally sinister mood. The dissonant melodies and laugh track samples make me think of a collaboration between David Lynch and Jerry Springer. I am ensnared.

Yurei has taken a huge canon of music, and stuffed it into a very small box, but somehow (possibly using Time Lord technology) the contents fit like an eyeball in its socket. There is King Crimson, Black Sabbath and even some Popol Ace here, but there is also Sonic Youth and Angelo Badalamenti here, as well as a multitude of other things – and all of it decidedly sinister and dark. I even hear some Morricone in some portions. Unpacking the album would take me a very long time.

The only things I don't like about the album would be the vocals on the first two tracks, as they are a bit flat in the mix – to my ears, and the fact that the guitar sounds the same for nearly all the tracks. A little more variation would be appreciated. The guitar dominates the mix, and at times it's hard to separate the tracks. For the rest of the tracks the vocals are excellent however, and just pompous enough to fit the music. This is certainly not for everyone though. If the bass had been slightly more prominent in the mix the interaction between the guitar and the bass would have been perfect. Like on the final track, Phantom Lodge, where the bass carries the track excellently, but could have used a touch more volume. But that is nit picking.

I'm gonna be honest, and say that I have no way of reviewing this album with the competence it deserves, but... I like it. It's really cool. I can be really verbose about it, but that's all you really need to know.

Adversum, 2010, CD album, Norway

1 Brukket [4:55]
2 Your Black Waters [6:38]
3 The Bird of Dread [4:40]
4 Steamhead [5:22]
5 Velvet Demon [4:55]
6 Bleeding Thoughts [7:12]
7 I am Champagne [5:12]
8 Suicide Sitcom [5:09]
9 Vendetta [6:18]
10 The Last Wave [5:31]
11 Phantom Lodge [4:51]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Phaenon – His Master's Voice : Dark Ambient / Drone

Reviewed by Gird_09

Let me first say how much I enjoy the cover for this one. At first glance I figured it was an attempt at imitating Dave McKean, but I don't think it is. While the technique might be somewhere along the same lines, the theme is so much more fragile. Where McKean is all about dreams (or nightmares) this is about paper flimsy vulnerability. I can appreciate that.

As for the music I am piqued by the very first sound. The first sound is important to me, as you may have noticed. The use of a choir-like electronic sound at a low bit rate tickles my curiosity, and draws me in. The music is minimalist without being too monotonous, due to the inclusion of random soundscapes.

The cover informs me that the music is inspired by Stanislav Lem's book of the same name, and allthough my only encounter with Lem has been Tarkovsky's (sub par) adaptation of Solaris this fact really helps sell the recording to me. Lem is a good reference and if the novel is anywhere near as strikingly ponderous as this album it's an impressive book indeed. The music is mostly comprised of long stretches of naked, icy devastation and there is an ominous feeling of watching the stars – while they are watching you back.

The album consists of four pieces, of notable duration, but they are so good I'm not going to go into my usual rant about releases being too long. There are exceptions you see, and this is one of them. I fact, I wouldn't mind more. The sounds utilized, the sobriety of the arrangements, the purity of the production and the vitality involved all come together to create something truly worth chilling out to. Preferably during r'n'r in a desolate cold war bunker somewhere in Poland... And it's expertly seamless. Going from one track to the next is effortless and smooth.

It's a good album, and if you don't believe me, follow the myspace link further down and check out previews. (Yes, you lazy-instant-gratification bum, you can scroll down two inches on the screen to get to the sweets... You need the workout anyway.)

I think I have to read that book though...

USA, CD album Malignant records, 2010

1 His Master's voice – part 1 – Neutrino Radiation [24:11]
2 Dark Energy – Silentium Universi [12:57]
3 Soul Virus – Interstellar Semantics [13:34]
4 His Master's Voice – part 2 – Ignoramus [24:11]

Saturday, January 15, 2011

False Mirror – Derelict World : dark ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09

Upon seeing the cover I instantly feel sceptical, despite the desolation and dereliction it depicts. The presence of the (presumably) Norwegian fishing boat triggers some cultural code in me and I shudder with trepidation. Abandoned fishing boats have been forever linked to highly politized news casts about the poor fishermen of the northern regions who have to leave their homes for want of jobs. Well fuck them all to hell I say. A single fish is worth more to me than the entire population of those backwater shitholes.

Anyway. I am glad to see that the music is miles away from the white trash Norwegian scum I associate with fishing boats. The very first sound on the album magnificently manages to tie a knot and connect the fishing boat to the utter bleakness of the landscape behind it. It sounds like ropes being stretched and pulled, but not entirely. It speaks volumes of postindustrial decay. Smash hit.

The music itself is not too original, if well produced and deftly atmospheric. It rapidly puts me in an appropriate mood, and I find my thoughts drifting off on a tangent. I used to follow a marvellous comic series by Antonio Segura and José Ortiz called Hombre. It's a post apocalyptic world, and in one episode there are these people living in a deserted ship far from the coast. It's a powerful image of ecocide, and I imagine the winds polishing the ship sides with whirling sand and particles could sound something like this album.

The release is certainly not beyond literary comparisons, as the cover contains a twenty page booklet, complete with a short story. In terms that are at times perhaps more familiar to P.B. Shelley than "modern man" the story recounts the apocalyptic events that rendered its author stranded in a dying world. Humanity has succumbed to a horribly disastrous storm that came in from the ocean, and a single survivor is writing down his final gloomy thoughts. It's all very optimistic.

It's an ambitious release, and the tying together of literary, visual and sonic concepts in a shared theme is not lightly undertaken. Concept albums of this kind is perhaps no longer seen as the intellectual masturbation it was turned into by Pete Townshend, but still lies well beyond the interest and apprehension of the casual listener. Thank Shiva I am not one of those casual listeners, and boatloads of kudos to False Mirror for going that extra mile. Be ambitious! Aim high! Mediocre people are a waste of skin.

I also think it's worth mentioning that the disc inlay contains information about the composition of the individual tracks, both in terms of equipment used and the arrangements. I for one appreciate that greatly, certainly in music as experimental as this as it tells me what I am actually hearing. I especially love the inclusion of the Metalrohr in the first track.

All in all I have to say it's a good album. The various field recordings gives it soul, which the music otherwise wouldn't have. It's atmospheric and well crafted. The only downside is its length - as I have said about numerous releases allready. When Beethoven's ninth was used as criterum to create a standard of 74 minutes on a disc it wasn't a challenge, it was out of need. 74 minutes is usually much too long. (Beethoven is an obvious exception of course.) The exclusion of the final track would have made a perfectly functional album, while that track could have been used for promotional purposes, shelved or released at a later date. In all honesty after about 45 minutes I start to lose concentration – in spite of the truly magnificent seventh track. Don't overdo it people. Less is more.

In conclusion: While my initial expectations garnered from the cover were slightly disadvantagous due to cultural background it does in fact suit the music perfectly, and the music fits the world outside like a bullet fits a bulletwound. It's no musical revolution, but it's certainly a good album.

Malignant Records. 2010. CD Album.Germany.

1 The Vent [6:32]
2 Constand Descent [3:21]
3 Wasteland [6:09]
4 Landfall [9:00]
5 Aftermath [7:42]
6 Uncertain Shelter [8:44]
7 A sunken Dream [7:25]
8 The Sea of Oblivion [25:05]

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Delirium Bound - Delirum, Dissonance and Death : Black Metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

With a cover that looks like something has been wrapped in black plastic bags this promises to be both dark and suffocating.

Delirium Bound is a band consisting of Kim Sølve and Bjeima, known from a shotgun blast of different underground projects. With regards to Black Metal Kim Sølve is mostly known for his cover designs from Trine + Kim Design studio, but evidently he's also a capable guitarist and bass player. Bjeima on drums and vocals also does a very convincing job. (I'm always doubly impressed by a drummer if he is also the vocalist.) In addition the album has guest appearances by Mannevond and Petter Berntsen, respectively with background from Koldbrann and Urgehal for the former, and Swarms and others for the latter.

Genrewise this is a stripped down return to old skool black metal in the vein of Darkthrone and their likes, while also reminiscent of Satyricon at times (specifically the guitars). There are elements of crust here as well as touches of early BM like Venom and Sarcofago. It's a far cry from the progressive metal of the more outré bands like Dimmu Borgir, and thank fuck for that. (While I don't mind progressive I mind progressive that's really reactionary and lame.)

Most black metal these days is incredibly boring, with a few positive exceptions. While I'm not certain this release will stand out against the background it's still a very good release and it does deserve listening to. The music is threatening and seriousness, and delivers on the promise on the cover. This is excellent music if you want to wrap someones face in a garbage bag, or perhaps even if you're the one on the receiving end of the bag.

A capable release, and hopefully there will be more to come. The tracks on the album are short and to the point, and I feel any reivew of it should be to the point as well.

Adversum, Norway, CD album, 2010,

1 Panic [4:39]
2 Coronated in Accidents [2:46]
3 God-faced dogs [1:52]
4 Delirium Bound [3:04]
5 Zippermouth [3:02]
6 Chiseled from Darkness [4:10]
7 Death Kings [4:05]
8 the Ominous One [3:02]
9 Knifepoint Departure [5:10]