Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Playlist - 01/20/10

With Decaying Citadel's Zach in tow, tonight's entry into the Vault is that of a monstrous dooming thud. Zach brought some Doom, I brought some Doom and the world was better for it. Ashame he had to leave early. The doom had just begun. Still, TK stopped in to chill and made the night go by fast, even with the doom spinning.

01. Faith Or Fear - Punishment Area - The Shadow Knows
02. Saint Vitus - Die Healing - Dark World
03. Reverend Bizarre - In The Rectory Of The Bizarre Reverend - Doomsower
04. Decaying Citadel - Ruin Of The Wooded Realm - Dread Saviour Arise
05. The Puritan - The Black Law - It Is Your Own Decision To Respect Life

06. Highgate - Black Frost Fallout - Burial Light
07. Highgate - Black Frost Fallout - The Wolf
08. Highgate - Shrines To The Warhead - Warhead Rise Teaser

09. Velnias - Sovereign Nocturnal - Risen Of The Moor*
10. Grief - Miserably Ever After - Why Should You Care?
11. Eyehategod - Take As Needed For Pain - Serving Time In The Middle Of Nowhere
12. Noosebomb - Brain Food For The Braindead - Scrounging

13. Electric Wizard - Live At Roadburn 2005 - We Live
14. Electric Wizard - Let Us Prey - A Chosen Few
15. Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today - Dunwich

16. Old Bones - Ars Goetia / Old Bones Split - The Wizard
17. Morgion - Solinari - Canticle
18. Black Sabbath - The Mob Rules - The Mob Rules
19. Grand Magus - Grand Magus - Gauntlet
20. Grand Magus - Monument - Ulvaskull
21. Icarus Witch - Songs For The Lost - The Sky Is Falling
22. Nyctophobia - Beyond The Pillars - War
23. Witchcraft - Witchcraft - Wooden Cross (I Can't Wake The Dead)
24. Deathevokation - Blood Demo - Embers Of A Dying World

Cassette / Vinyl Rips #'s: 1, 6, 7, 22
2010 Releases #'s: 8, 16,

* Request - Jim, Central Jersey

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Zakhm - Inner Depression

Another Thorn Laceration Records release, Zakhm's Inner Depression, the first release from this one man Iranian black metal band, is an invigorating listen with a sound unlike anything else I've ever heard. The whole demo is steeped in a black-and-white-movie-soundtrack graininess. I've always imagined Iran to be a desert wasteland with endless sandy landscapes and dunes, a thermometer which doesn't dip below ninety degrees and a couple million people with an unimaginable hatred for western civilization. It's a depressing landscape no matter how you look at it. It's no surprise that Zakhm's lord has chosen the pseudonym "Sad." Four songs, a little under seventeen minutes of textural candy and Zakhm have planted some interesting seeds which may grow into quite the twisted wind-tortured charred tree.

Opening track "My Name Is Sad" creates for us, a way to enter the soul of Zakhm sadman*, Sad, through his unique music. I would expect that this song is the music to his average mood and, thus, I don't know if Sad is a man I would like to hang around often. Unlike a lot of black metal, particularly what passes as depressive black metal, I don't think I would be so fast to call this black metal. There are elements of black metal in the vocal delivery which doesn't appear until second track, "Don't Worry For Others," but the general style is ambient. The guitar is more of a synthy sounding affair on these tracks, especially opener "My Name Is Sad." Ideally, for my own purposes, I would label this as ambient though with a strong amount of black overtones. It would be appropriate to say that only "Don't Worry For Others" and "Illusion of Emerna" have vocals and drums at all.

So what does this Zakhm sound... sound like? "My Name Is Sad," as assumed above, is a melancholy instrumental, keen to remain in the minimalist style, relying on repetition to pound home the song's purpose, that Sad is sad. That he is caught in an unchanging repetitive situation and hoping for something new. I get a hopeful but pessimistic emotion from the melody, as conflicting as that may sound. A slow pulse moves the song, though not in a percussive way, like waves cresting and the main melody, played with a wavering, distant and relaxing tone, bubbling on the surface. It's like a lo-fi black metal Jesu tone with serious bouts of Isis movement but lacking the pretentiousness and artsy mentality of both those bands.

"Don't Worry For Others,".. the strangest thing about about this track is that it sounds like there is a helicopter idling outside the room Sad recorded in. I can't figure out where the sound is coming from. It's something do with drums as far as I know. Sad's vocals on the song are the expected mediocre though emotional. He is truly focusing his energy into them and though some may disagree with me, are a strong and befitting aspect to this release. Though the highlights are definitely the guitar tones and some of the sampling work used on the title track, his vocals are also enjoyable. Though slightly bassy for me, they compliment the smooth guitar tone by adding something rough and gritty. "Don't Worry For Others'" acoustic interlude is a smart addition, breaking up one and a half tracks of repetitive ambient. The break doesn't contrast at all melodically, but the change from the weird tone to something more normal is comforting momentarily. The peculiarly captivating and foamy guitars return shortly along with the helicopter convoy.

"Inner Depression" relies on samples more than any other track. It's interesting enough with several layers of sound building atop each other like a musical dagwood. Slight synth and keys create a melody for the "story" that Sad may be telling to accompany. It is a dreadful melody though the most integral element is the spoken words, possibly funeral rites or another Iranian custom I have no knowledge of. Though not remarkable, "Inner Depression" is successful in it's assignment - creating an ambiance that fits with the other songs' melodic themes and provides new textures for the listener to bite into. Ambient noir would be an appropriate term for Zakhm's stylistic approach to this track. There are elements of story telling, cynicism and a general graininess to the track. The synths are a little too upfront in this track for my personal taste. Zakhm's final offering takes the noirish feel of "Inner Depression" to lead into the most black metal of the tracks on the release. "Illusion Of Emerna" is the weakest track on the demo. At first it didn't seem to mesh with the other tracks, possessing a sexuality and raunchiness which, until now was not shown elsewhere. The bizarre sensuality though may just be another way in which Sad is displaying loneliness, in a reverse, envious way. A sloppy break midway through and more helicopter drum effect simply becomes bothersome at this point. A bit of a weak ending to one of the strangest musical experiences I've endured. It will be interesting to see where Sad takes his music next but I hope he leaves the Iranian airforce out of the recording.

*See what I did there?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Faith Or Fear Pictures

About five weeks ago, I had Chris Bombeke (guitars), Bob Perna (Bass) and Tim Blackman (Vocals) from Faith Or Fear on my weekly radio show, The Vault, to talk about the history of Faith or Fear and their oldschool thrash attack. Well, They took a few pictures so I figured I would post them up here. The doofus in the Napalm Death shirt isn't me... it's someone else... yes-sir-ee.

Chris Bombeke, Not Me, Tim Blackman, Bob Perna

Bob, Chris

Tim, Bunny Ears, Bob

I will have the playlist up soon as well. It is on my external hard drive so when I get a chance to go over all of that, I will replace this sorry excuse with the playlist from that night. All I know is that we all had a great time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Omen - Observance Of Baphometized

I have written and re-written this review numerous times, persuaded to do so by the cassette in question and its constant reconfiguration in my brain. Each time I listened to Observance Of Baphometized, my viewpoints would change like the wind. I would listen to it one night, think it was mediocre. Listen to it while having a few drinks with my buddies, and it would be awesome. Listen to it while beginning to go to sleep, and fall asleep to it. Omen's release is an enigma of description. It would be too easy to call it raw black metal but that's all it really is when the chips have fallen and there are no hands left to play. So, for the purpose of where I stand now, I think that the release is neither amazing or crap but falling somewhere in between, in the region where no band really wants to be - that ever swampy and muddied district of mediocre raw black metal. I've actually had to take notes while trying to discern how I felt about songs on this release, something I've never done before and hope to never have to do again. Observance of Baphometized is a wholly inconsistent album in terms of quality. Though my conclusion may put a sour expression on the faces of some, I honestly don't find a whole lot here worth dwelling on. Luckily, it seems that most people respond better to honesty than blatant inflation or deflation. Personally, I don't think it's bad to be mediocre on early releases and with Omen still lingering in the demo stage of their so-far-short-lived-career, I can appreciate the foreshadowing a mediocre demo shows. Omen, though presented here in mediocrity, also show aspects of their sound which they attack really well at times.

Upon pushing the play button down on my ancient tape player, an eerie introductory piece, "Overture: In The Unholy Rituals," sets the scene for the opening salvo. Cold caves, deep dank smelly sewers, black pits full of excrement and bones, the atmosphere is laden with a moisture of death and rot. The cracks of thunder leading into the real opening track persuading the listener forth, like a beacon of hellish fire; the culminating crack of thunder initiating the true adventure and giving rise to new imagery blood covered snow, bleak landscapes, ancient rituals, basically the same atmosphere that you would get from any demo of this sort. This is one area which I felt could have been focused on more. What specific atmospheres are being portrays through this music? It is clear Omen are trying to create these feelings through their music with the use of a couple tracks of ambience, sounds of wind, storms, and explosions as well as the use of some chanted vocals on a few tracks. I don't get anything specific however from all this attempted atmosphere. The intro has a great production, with thick low tones and well balanced treble as well. This is great until the music kicks in. "Wrath of the Black Witchery's" production takes a nosedive with the guitars and bass and drums all sounding powerless compared to the introduction. The guitars are low in the mix, the bass mixed too loud and boomy (coming from a bassist, this is almost a ridiculous notion as I tend to love bass heavy albums - I'm looking at you Barbaros) and the drums have no real punch to them. Though the production on some of the tracks on Observance... do sound better, that immediate intensity that was envisioned by Omen has been lost. I can see what Omen were intending though: A strong quick transition in an appropriate, albeit cliché place, would make use of the introduction's building tension and draw the listener into Observance's demonic nightmare. Sadly, this is not the case here and the transition sounds dead and amateurish. "Wrath Of The Black Witchery," like most of the EP's material, is like being teased by a beautiful woman and then watching her leave the room, neglecting to release the handcuffs holding you to the bed-posts. This song misses the climax.

The album continues with a cover of Nebiras’ “Blessed Be Thy” and Omen don’t me particularly determined to seek out the original. The song is too simple my tastes placing all its eggs in one glass basket and balancing it above a Punji pit. With only one real discernable riff, perhaps two if you consider a minor variation a new riff, “Blessed Be Thy” fails to capitalize on the whole minimalist attitude which I’ve been in the mood for recently. I’ve spun Satanic Blood at least four times in the past two weeks. I honestly don’t understand the reason why Omen would choose this song as a cover though. Omen’s original material is far more interesting and resilient than the Nebiras track and the other cover track, a cover of Langsuyr’s “My Oath For Thee” suits Omen’s natural style of raw, simple – but apparently not Nebiras simple – black metal. The bass on the track is horribly horn-sounding like in other places but the repetitiveness on this cover really hurts it much more and even for such a simple track, there are timing issues between instruments. Though Omen were probably really drunk at the time of the recording, that doesn’t give a good enough reason to put the song on the release. The other cover though I really like. At first listen, I thought that the song would fall to the same arrows that the Nebiras cover was taken down by. I felt the song was too hasty and simple and never let the brilliant atmosphere that escapes to the song’s surface take hold. After a second listen though, I really took a fondness for the short simplicity and control over allowing the song to maintain that rout. The small dosage of atmosphere is something that the rest of the untouched original tracks on the album also contain. A song overburdened by the atmosphere would make the song maybe seem out of place. Of course, this is more of a comment on the original composers, Langsuyr, but Omen chose a song here that really found a home on the release and made me interested in checking out the Langsuyr discography. The vocal variation on this track is also awesome, with Omen vocalist Aijal providing some dreadful moans and wails.

For me though, “Into Diabolical Ancientness” is the best song on Observance. It’s just well written. The song has interesting moments that flow into each other helped by an excellent vocal showing that provides intensity, momentum and atmosphere with clean vocals in the style of the Langsuyr cover. These half-wailed, half chanted vocals really add texture to Omen’s material when they include them. If these vocals were used at other points in the earlier songs, I would find the album more memorable, more varied and also less generic. The album could have taken a more dramatic turn and contain a heavier sense of vision. I think “Into Diabolical Ancientness” is a track that Omen should take into consideration when modeling future material. It epitomizes their style – subtle atmosphere, intense raw black metal riffs and simple construction. The albums finale cleans off whatever dirt may have been left, ending the album in a similar way as it started with sounds native to cave dwellers.

Two other tracks appear* on this release though both are renditions of earlier songs on the reel. The first is a much more atmospheric version of fourth track “The Devil Incarnate” with windy and stormy effects thrown into the mix. I like the song a lot and the juxtaposition between the calming atmosphere and chaotic black metal work nicely to create an environment for intellectual stimulation. The subtle atmosphere provided by the use of the mentioned naturalistic samples and a dreary distant percussive tone lend the track a laid back, nostalgic and distinctly underground vibe. The second additional track is a remixed and re-mastered version of “Into Diabolical Ancientness.” I prefer the original recording to this version. It seems more fiery, more intense and raw and the chanted vocals that give the original a lot of its atmosphere have been practically kicked aside and cast back into the often ignored recesses of the mix. A nice addition but as usual, the original reigns supreme for “Into Diabolical Ancientness.” Overall, Omen’s Observance of Baphometized has left me indifferent towards many tracks though with a couple of songs which I do really appreciate, I may find myself drawn to other tracks after yet more listens. For now though, I stick to my claim that this is nothing more and nothing less and a plain and simple ‘alright.’

* The track listing in the image only shows one of the extra tracks but my copy has two. I asked the owner of Thorn Laceration Records about it and he was the one who told me what the extra track was. I guess it was a last minute addition and the inserts had already been printed before the tapes were reproduced. Either way, just letting everyone know I'm not making my tape's track listing up.

Playlist - 01/13/10

So, another evening of metal. Tonight, I want to hear from you about you favorize underground fanzines or, if your not elite enough, your favorite mainstream ones. Call in 973-720-2738 to let me know! Let me know requests also.

01. Judas Priest - Sin After Sin - Dissident Aggressor
02. Judas Priest - British Steel - Metal Gods
03. Iron Savior - Unification - Coming Home
04. Midnight Priest - Rainha Da Magia Negra - Juizo Final

05. Manilla Road - Voyager - Blood Eagle
06. Manilla Road - Crystal Logic - Crystal Logic
07. Manilla Road - Mark Of The Beast - Avatar

08. Speedwolf - Bark At The Poon - Witching Hour (Venom Cover)
09. Speedwolf - Speedwolf / Hookers Split 7" - Up All Night
10. Hookers - Speedwolf / Hookers Split 7" - For The Master
11. Heathen - Breaking The Silence - Open The Grave
12. Sodom - Agent Orange - Tired And Red
13. Sodom - Agent Orange - Ausgebombt
14. Deathevokation - The Chalice Of Ages - Infinity Blights The Flesh
15. Morbid Saint - Spectrum Of Death - Assassin
16. Bestial Warlust - Vengeance War Till Death - Holocaust Wolves Of The Apocalypse
17. Emperor - Emperor / Enslaved Split - I Am The Black Wizards
18. Ihsahn - After - A Grave Inversed
19. Ihsahn - After - Frozen Lakes On Mars
20. Von - Satanic Blood - Watain *
21. Beyond Mind - The Wrath Of The Dead Tongue - Children of Ashes

22. Besatt - Hail Lucifer - Black Banner
23. Besatt - Hail Lucifer - My Wrath
24. Besatt - Hail Lucifer - War

25. Bestial - Satanic Metal - Let Jesus Bleed
26. Zakhm - Inner Depression - My Name Is Sad
27. Vestigia Terrent - Thrown Upon The World - Thrown Upon The World
28. Maegashira - The Stark Arctic - Back To Muro**

For the rest of the night, stay tuned to hear 10 hours of Saturn Form Essence. If that doesn't blow your mind... I don't know what will.

Cassette / Vinyl Rips #'s: 1, 7, 9, 10, 11, 25, 26, 27,
2010 Releases #: 18, 19
Talkover Track: Drudkh - Microcosmos - Decadence

* For Possessor of Hop Tariq. Hail the Hip Hop Possessor!
** Maegashira will be doing an on-air interview February 3rd. Tune in for lots of awesome doom and sludge!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Playlist - 01/06/10

First show of the new decade. Metal shall rule it! What is everyone looking forward to this year in metal? For me? Maiden, Burzum, Immolation, Ihsahn, Overkill, Heathen, and the myriad black metal demos I am sure I will conduct occult rituals to in the darkened recesses of my cavern.

Shoutouts to George from Maegashira for listening to The Vault radio broadcast OLDSCHOOL STYLE!

01. Hyponic - The Noise Of Time - The Noise Of Time
02. Apolion - Hungry Of Souls (Re-release) - Life's Remains
03. Demonic Cremator - Peverted Goatsucker - Unholy Resurrection
04. Anthem - Anthem - Warning Action!
05. Hatred - Fist Of Death - Pail Of Violence
06. Absu - Tara - Pillars Of Mercy
07. Absu - Tara - Stone Of Destiny
08. Akercocke - Choronzon - Scapegoat
09. Cruciamentum - Convocations Of Crawling Chaos - Rotten Flesh Crucifix
10. Chaos Moon - Languor Into Echoes Beyond - Simulacrum Of Mirrors
11. Omen - Observance Of Baphometized - Into Diabolical Ancientness
12. Grand Magus - Grand Magus - Wheel Of Time
13. Grand Magus - Monument - Ulvaskull
14. Nachtmystium - Instinct:Decay - Chosen By No One
15. Nachtmystium - Reign Of The Malicious - Call Of The Ancients
16. Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian - The Sorceress
17. Manowar - Battle Hymns - Battle Hymn
18. Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance - Screaming For Vengeance
19. Eyehategod - Take As Needed For Pain - Blank*
20. Highgate - Black Frost Fallout - Burial Light**
21. Iron Hearse - Iron Hearse - Wrong Remains
22. Decaying Citadel - Ruin Of The Wooded Realm - Unholy Salvation
23. Mandatory - Exiled In Pain Compilation - ...Where They Bleed
24. Halopent - The Ancient Of Days - Septic Torture
25. Aeternus - Beyond The Wandering Moon - Vind
26. Astrofaes - Dying Emotions Domain - Path To Burning Space

Music from Evoken, Dictator, Nyctophobia, Catacombs, Opeth, Negura Bunget, Drudkh, Katharsis, Decaying Citadel, Folkstorm, Velnias.... what more could you ask for?

Tape / Vinyl Rips #'s: 5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 20,

* Request - George, Check out his band Maegashira and allow some grimey sludge to build up in your ear canal.
** God, I love this song. I play it all the time but it's just incredible.