Friday, December 15, 2017

EP Review: MORS OMNIBUS Circus Verses (Promo Sampler)

Circus Verses (Promo Sampler)
Release Date: October 31, 2017
There are musical acts that really prompt one to question the very definition of what constitutes "music" and how far such a definition can stretch. MORS OMNIBUS, a dark-ambient noir inspired project is a musical act that really did leave me scratching my head over such a question. The promo release of 'Circus Verses' is perhaps one of the most detached, disassociated and withdrawn releases you'll have heard for a long time and is best thought of as "loose" music designed to accompany an contemporary independent psychological-thriller film of sorts. The project manages to summon the psyche's long-held uncertainty regarding the oppressing question of how we can truly define "music". This is virtually melodically-incoherent in nature yet its structural basis lies within the arms of its intense rhythmic capacity. Throughout each track there's an ominous droning echo that almost imposes an impending threat upon the listener, yet the continuously disjointed patterns of the organic percussion makes one feel at ease.. almost. The opening title track is almost entirely a feast of haunting organic samples whereas 'Old Book' manages to evoke its feelings of terror and dread through the interplay of just a handful of note changes throughout. 'Harlequin', the six-minute track consists entirely of wind-chimes, bells, marimba and celesta. As the track progresses it transports the listener into its own hypnotizing trance and you begin to feel as though you've taken a misplaced detour into the infinite void, - and alas one just continues to spiral into the haze. It may seem a tad orthodox to have released something like this on Halloween night but it certainly wouldn't be incompatible on one's Halloween playlist. -Jaime Regadas

Track list:
1. Circus Verses (preview)
2. Old Book (preview)
3. Premature Burial l (preview)
4. Harlequin (preview)
5. Theatre Macabre (preview)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Documentary Review: British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground

British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground
Release Date: Feb 16, 2016
From Motorhead to Venom to Napalm Death to Cradle Of Filth to Akercocke, it’s undeniable how much England has contributed to heavy metal and extreme metal. Of these bands, Napalm Death came from a post-punk scene that would go on to make an impression on thrashers in North and South America who sought to take thrash to the next level. This led to the second wave of death metal that swept the world like a relentless, insurmountable wave, the likes of which would never have been expected. It’s important to remember how it was rooted in a self-sustaining industry that in many ways was deliberately exclusive, made up of radical free thinkers opposed to the government and corporate greed (not to mention the possibility of nuclear war) and not afraid to voice their convictions. A point made at the beginning of Tourmaline Films’ half hour documentary British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground is that England had Cradle and bands from Scandinavia, but never a black metal scene they could call their own on a similar level to the grindcore scene. Now in the 2010s there is an exclusive English scene in which the bands pay tribute to their heritage and cultural traditions going back to the Victorian era. There are a few differences between this scene and those that emerged from other countries in the early 1990s, and the various controversies that surrounded them at that time. Instead of being fueled by Satanism or dark paganism, many of the new English bands (including Winterfylleth, A Forest of Stars, Old Corpse Road, Fen, Eastern Front and Ethereal) center on spirituality and metaphor, actively applying their traditions, history and folk tales to a modern context. Reflecting on the contemporary social and political state of the United Kingdom, and how religion comes into play when used to rationalize wrongdoing, the scene has a bit more in common with the grindcore scene than Scandinavian. Comparisons are made to My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, two U.K. bands whose music reflected on depresson and desperation. Individuality is an important theme in this new wave of black metal, besides what the themes cited above mean to each musician and songwriter in the scene. The music is quite decent, it relying on atmosphere along with the aesthetics black metallers are familiar with and occasional death metal guitars. I should add the theatrics are different as none of the bands wear corpsepaint. The live performances have more in common with traditional metal, through the onstage light shows are not intended to overshadow personal connection with the fans. This is a scene that is striking out to become its own entity rather than emulate those of yesteryear, and it seems there is much headway being made here. See for yourself. -Dave Wolff

Fiction: The Demon Of Cortez by Devin Joseph Meaney

The Demon Of Cortez
Fiction by Devin Joseph Meaney
The "Dark Dwarf", a large fishing vessel, had just finished sinking into the blackened abyss that was the Sea of Cortez. There was a violent storm raging, wind and vicious rain plummeted in different directions as the sea was turned into a gaping chasm of malevolence. Michael, a shrimp fisherman, was the only surviving member of the Dark Dwarf. He was clinging to life, hanging on to a small buoy fading in and out of consciousness. The storm raged all night, but somehow, Michael had survived. The next morning was not at all like the previous night. The sea was calm once again and Michael could see nothing on the horizon as he desperately clung to his buoy, his mouth parched with undeniable thirst. For hours he floated in a sunlit purgatory, surrounded by nothing but water, open air and his forever growing anxiety towards his future. It seemed as if things could not get worse. That’s when he saw the ripples. About twenty-five feet away, there was a sudden movement in the water. Bubbles were surfacing and Michael could hear a faint sound that he had never heard before. Then Michael saw the tentacles. Two tendril like whip extensions that seemed to emerge from a watery hell. All went still and a few seconds seemed like hours. With ferocious speed, this aquatic monstrosity darted at Michael, wrapping him in razor tipped appendages. The whip tentacles pulled him closer to the monsters ravenous beak, the evisceration that commenced afterwards was and still is too grisly a tale to tell. Blood and bits of flesh and cloth encircled a buoy, the only remnants of a disaster that will most likely remain unknown. Larger than any squid known to science, this demonic cephalopod had ravaged many a fisherman, but their tales were always regarded as grotesque over-exaggeration or just plain tomfoolery. Men continue to fish. Squid continue to eat. Every now and then when the stars align, a monster meets a man, the sea looking on like a chronicler, too absorbed in his own writings to lend a hand to a fallen commoner. Humans eat squid. Sometimes, the squid eat us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Preview Review: STARSOUP Your World Is Dead

Single from the new full length Castles of Sand released by Metalism Records
Released digitally November 20, 2017
Released on CD December 1, 2017
The lyrics for Your World Is Dead are based on Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. That to me, is very cool because Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I like how this track is melodic, but powerful. The flute sounds really awesome. I like how it has somewhat of a fantasy feel when I listen. Starsoup is a progressive metal band from Moscow Russia, primarily made up of Alexey Markov, with guest musicians. Alexey is a phenomenal vocalist. It seems that he puts so much feeling and energy into his work that you can feel it when you listen. It's clear that he pours so much of his heart and soul into his work. He brings such a strong presence to the microphone. -Deanna Revis

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Full Length Review: AZZIARD Metempsychose

Release Date: December 8, 2017
A cold, snow covered Sunday mid-afternoon is an ideal setting for listening to this French black/death metal band. I felt compelled to open the window in front of my desk so I could feel the cold as well as seeing it, to enhance their disposition. The sun is going down as I listen on and it’s starting to get colder, which makes for an atmosphere even more fitting. Azziard has been active since 2001 and released two demos, a split, an EP and three full lengths. The latest of these full lengths Metempsychose was passed along to me by Juliette Morand of Malpermesita Records and Xenocorp. Again I’m a latecomer to a band I’m just hearing of but from listening to a handful of songs I’m already getting impressions of their singular direction and frame of mind. The lineup is comprised of former members of Mind Asylum, The Negation, Bran Barr, Dreamcatcher and Repudiate to name a handful. All the members of this band have sufficient experience they make use of in this band. Their uniqueness comes from musical subtleties adding up to generate a flight of imagination making you uneasy from the outset of the shadowy introduction Premier Jour. The pensive guitars, haunting lead solo and eerie disembodied voices prepare you for the nightmares waiting to jump into your frail human perception. Azziard stirred this in me with their ability to create grisly, hair-raising ambience with minimal effects and no additional instruments outside guitars, bass and drums. No keys, synths or even acoustic instruments. Just an adeptness at getting different sounds out of the instruments at their disposal and a healthy imagination. This approach to black metal reflects their death metal elements without overshadowing them. Again I refer to the intro Premier Jour which makes use of dissonant chords you hear on death metal albums. The precision of the blast beats speaks of the primal brutality of Deicide and Vital Remains. Drummer Anderswo makes the most effort to cross the two subgenres over, and deserves credit for pulling it off considering the hard work required to do so. Just about every song here is a prime example of where Azziard is taking their black/death crossover, but if I had to choose specific songs they would be L'Enfer, L'Anachorète, Dies, Ascension, Le Meurtre du Héros (check out the shrill screams about midway through), Archétype, Psyché and Le Sacrifice. Night has fallen and it’s colder still so I’m going to listen to this album again. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Premier Jour
2. L'Enfer
3. L'Anachorète, Dies
4. Ascension
5. Le Meurtre du Héros
6. Second Jour
7. Archétype
8. Unus Mundus
9. Psyché
10. Le Sacrifice

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Full Length Review: EXHUMED Death Revenge

Death Revenge
Release Date: October 13, 2017
The metal opera has existed since King Diamond’s classics Fatal Portrait, Abigail and Them were released in the 80s.Then there was Operation: Mindcrime from Queensryche which opened doorways for bands to pass through in the 90s, 2000s and 2010s. This is not even counting the demos released by the Long Island thrashers Maelstrom, the concept of which was reawakened when they reformed in the 2000s. I’m sure there were others by local bands here and there. Back then the idea was in its infancy and there was unlimited ground to cover. I’ve heard many greats since then (the most recent being Zornheym’s Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns), but with the exception of bands like Nile I’ve heard few from death metal bands. Well here’s one death metal band that proves their capability to create a concept album of their own. I just heard about Exhumed’s new album from Alan Lisanti, and getting wind of it was manna from hell. “And they say Death Metal is dumb,” he writes on Facebook. “[The band] is over here turning classic literature into a magnum opus of death. Give it twenty years and all the hipsters will love it.” The hipsters can wait that long if they want. As the California death metal band’s first attempt at doing a concept album, Death Revenge has creative and historical merit in equal parts and clearly a great deal of painstaking research went into the conceptual theme and the lyrics. If you don’t know of the band they play old school melodic death metal reeking of Unleashed, Obituary and Hypocrisy, with shades of Slayer and Venom, guaranteed to make your ears bleed. The storyline takes place in the early nineteenth century and is based on a gruesome practice that from what I understand was commonplace. For clarification of what I’m referring to I’d suggest watching the movie Gangs Of New York, particularly the scene where Amsterdam and his friends raid the ship in the harbor. According to legend this practice happened in Scotland as well as old New York, and the Scottish city of Endinburg is where the narrative of Death Revenge takes place. It’s being called an ambitious work by Exhumed’s label Relapse Records. Divided into thirteen chapters, it has members of the band personifying different characters, pushing Death Revenge closer to death metal opera. Giving it more of a horrific edge is that it’s based on actual historical events, adding reality to the gore soaked brutality of the soundtrack. I should mention the classical pieces adding weight to the album’s conceptual theme and reinforcing the notion that this is an effort on the band’s part to branch out on their own terms. If anything, even if you don’t like death metal, the possibilities presented is endless since there are many historical themes bands of all subgenres can explore. On many levels Relapse has a real winner on their hands. Exhumed has two promotional videos made for Death Revenge, and both can be viewed at the album’s Bandcamp link. And check out the bonus Exodus cover at the end. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Death Revenge Overture
2. Defenders of the Grave
3. Lifeless
4. Dead End
5. Night Work
6. Unspeakable
7. Gravemakers of Edinburgh
8. The Harrowing
9. A Funeral Party
10. The Anatomy Act of 1832
11. Incarnadined Hands
12. Death Revenge
13. Death Revenge Underture (Bonus Track)
14. A Lesson In Violence (Bonus Track)

Poem: 'Where did all the money go?' by Tony Sokol

Where did all the money go?
by Tony Sokol

Where did all the money go?
I had some in my pocket.
Don't even got those pants no more.
So broke I had to hock it.

Yeah I'm selling everything,
my stocks, bonds, Chevrolet.
Last week I had a sandwich.
Cashed out my 401(k).

Saw the president on the news last night.
Cleared my head a bit.
But I saw something in his eyes
that said, it's my job now. Oh shit.

Can't afford to have more kids
might sell the ones I got
If I wasn't scared they'd tax it
I'd try selling pot.

No, can't afford to have more kids.
Can't even afford to jack off.
I invested in some online porn
but they invested with Madoff.

I might lose my job.
I might lose my house
Where did all the money go?
Have you looked behind the couch?

Poem: 'Police State' by Steven Michael Pape

Police State
by Steven Michael Pape (2011)

We are now living in a Police state,
where `Freedom of speech` Will never awake.
Scared of the strangers, we get shifty,
Small towns getting more like a city.
Everyone talking but don`t be overheard,
The Police can lip read, it`s getting absurd.
Governments lie with ongoing force,
Then have the nerve to say we all have a voice.
Get a job or be seen as a criminal,
Or stay on the dole with the other four million.
Anxious Police they all stop and search,
All looking for the innocents purse.
Old people get their life savings nicked,
Then you get home to find your pockets been picked,
Call the police,`Is it an emergency`?
We`ve other crimes with better diversity.
Freedom of Speech will never awake,
As long as we`re living in a Police State.

Poem: 'Thou'st Darkest Hours' by Sky Claudette Soto

Thou'st Darkest Hours
by Sky Claudette Soto

Thou'st darkest hours have approached...dawn is nearly amongst us...amongst thou'st starry night as packs of coywolves hindrance gracefully down thy mountaintops like a marching army...howling as if an ever glorious symphony were playing...

Whilst...Whilst front door tis just a slight bit ajar ...listening closely
I am...I my lobes are bejeweled in peach moonstones..

Each one nears from an ever sustainable and blossoming forest filled with mushrooms that resemble Charcoal that burns Dragons blood,cherry trees and cordyceps ...scentagious absolute.

First American Publishing Rights only.
Sky Claudette Soto-Eros Fyre

Poem: 'Divine teachings of the shadow' by Skitz J. Fitch

Divine teachings of the shadow
by Skitz J. Fitch

The so called father of lies is not the one you think , Sheep shear yourself and be released from thy frock be the shepherdless and have thine eye's open to the real truth.
The light is to blind you from the truth the shadow is to darken the light to behold the truth for what it is .
Do not be of the heard mentality be the singular star burning bright in the dark void of truth.
Galaxy burn world fade to ash in my hand I shall not walk into the light blinded like the rest of the heard but away from the myth and answer only to my command.
Intellect I have found power and prosperity well the rest of you are beckoned to the flock giving away cash and key.
The kingdom shall be mine to rule as I see fit free from dogmatic chain from my mouth released the bit , Hated for speaking the truth by those who can not see I become the vessel and you become the sea .