Reviews by Jason Guest
Here you are folks, three new releases from Norway’s Indie Recordings:
- Altaar – Altaar Released 22 February 2013
- In Vain – Ænigma Released 11 March 2013
- Blood Tsunami – For Faen! Released 8 March 2013
Altaar – Altaar
The left hand path may be well worn but that doesn’t stop the hordes from endeavouring to find new ways to traverse its wicked way. Originally the one-man project of Andreas Tylden, Altaar has evolved into a five-headed monster and this, their début, consists of two tracks spread out over thirty four minutes. With sparse instrumentation, the regal sorrow that permeates its fragility is imbued with funereal and nihilistic air, the album being as cathartic as it is arresting. The atmospheric doom is coloured with a wavering organ that hovers gently in the distance, slowly strummed chords, and Pink Floyd circa 1968 to 1970 soundscapes. While discordant chills tug at the air, the music swells, its waves ebb and flow in protracted passages its majestic horror lumbers ever forward.
With experimental noise, treated sounds, and huge doom riffs, the two tracks feel more like two movements, shifting from one space to the next in a ceaseless flow, the momentum slowly building but never erupting, feeling more like a gentle-yet-unstoppable flood. Elegantly adorned with percussive flourishes, psychedelic sounds and sprawling atmospherics, the subtly metamorphosing ambience is both eerie and serene. While the requisite distortion and fuzz of metal and doom are here, this is a doom album that drags the beaten path deep into the penumbra between metal and other musics. Definitely a slow-burner, some, well, most will find this unpalatable, whereas those that do choose to patiently indulge will be duly rewarded.
8 out of 10
- Tidi Kjem Aldri Att
- Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolutte Nåde
In Vain – Ænigma
While Altaar take an innovative approach to their expression, In Vain’s melodic, progressive death metal sees them develop their ability to merge conflicting genres and disparate sounds to a level that is remarkable. While their début, 2007’s The Latter Rain, received much in the way of critical acclaim, the mixed bag that was 2010’s Mantra didn’t live up to the promise that its predecessor made. As ambitious as it was it wasn’t a bad album, but neither was it as accomplished. And so, while Ænigma is perhaps what Mantra should have been, In Vain are by no means back-peddling; quite the opposite in fact. It appears that such a slip has made this band stronger.
Seamlessly blended, the multiple genres that In Vain draw upon are interwoven deftly and discerningly and their effortless shift between styles, feels, and moods is impressive. Atmospheric synths, saxophone, tremolo-picked riffs, complex passages, rich textures, and more are all combined in a multitude of ways throughout the album. However, with the band touching on every base possible – the first track alone shifts between as many genres as they can pack into its seven minutes – the band never truly let themselves engage fully with the genres they are tackling and the whole thing feels more conscious construction than intuitive or emotive. Combined with a production that is perhaps a little too clean, the album would have benefitted from a dose of dirt to provide a harsher edge. Still, it’s an impressive work and Ænigma has done much for the band since their last effort and so, with the balance retained, their next one will be incredible.
7 out of 10
- Against The Grain
- Image Of Time
- Southern Shores
- Hymne Til Havet
- Culmination Of The Enigma
- Times Of Yore
- Rise Against
- To The Core
- Floating On The Murdering Tide
Blood Tsunami – For Faen!
Blood Tsunami don’t do subtle. Their cut-throat thrash is as savage as their chosen subject matter. While ‘The Butcher of Rostov’ gleefully recounts the tale of Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, a man who sexually assaulted, murdered and mutilated over fifty women and children in twelve years, ‘Metal Fang’ focusses on prostitute-slaying cannibal Nikolai Dzhumagaliev, an insane (no, really) serial killer with white metal teeth – hence the name – who was released from prison less than ten years after being caught and is now thought – yes, thought – to be living with relatives somewhere in Eastern Europe. And he’s got a passport. Nice. And later, ‘B.T.K.’ – an abbreviation of ‘Bind. Torture. Kill.’ – takes serial killer and necrophiliac Dennis Rader as its subject. Serial killers not gruesome enough? Okay, how about ‘Dogfed’ and its depiction of being “fucking lacerated / Bludgeoned to a pulp / And baptized in piss / Savagely raped / With broken bottles / In every orifice”? But it’s not all violence for the sake of it, oh no. Blood Tsunami take it upon them to bestow upon us a few history lessons too. ‘The Rape of Nanking’ tells of the 1937 Nanking Massacre, ‘The Dungeon Of The Rats’ tells of torture in The Tower of London, and ‘The Brazen Bull’ describes the ancient Greek torture and execution device where humans were locked inside a bronze bull, a fire lit beneath it until the inhabitant roasted to death.
And so after a warm tribute to the pioneers of true, kvlt Norwegian black metal in ‘Unholy Nights’, what better way to close than with an unhealthy does of ‘Krokodil’? The street name for desomorphine, an opioid ten times more potent than morphine, it’s probably a necessity for anyone who’s waded their way through Blood Tsunami’s third full length spillage. A celebration of thrash at its most vitriolic, while originality may not be on the menu, unremitting thrash nastiness is. Nope, Blood Tsunami don’t do subtle, but they do make utterly revolting thrash.
7.5 out of 10
- The Butcher Of Rostov
- The Rape Of Nanking
- In The Dungeon Of The Rats
- Metal Fang
- The Brazen Bull
- Grave Desecrator
- Unholy Nights