Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Gravehammer - Morbid Obscurity

GRAVEHAMMER - Morbid Obscurity (Demo 2007)
As Gravehammer, this band may be completely unknown. It's not a surprise, because they only did one demo and one seven inch single under this moniker. But if I say that from 2010 Gravehammer exists as Ensnared, then many of you will know, where are we. Yes, this is the same Ensnared, which crushed with "Ravenous Damnation's Dawn" MLP and more recently with absolutely fantastic "Dysangelium" album (which I this is one of the best 2017 releases!!). Some years ago, before we knew of Ensnared, I was lucky get Gravehammer's "Morbid Obscurity" demo for review. It's quite rare and unknown release, so let me write few words about it! 
Honestly there's very little in common between "Morbid Obscurity" and what Ensnared does. But one thing is certain - both bands play death metal in the old school way, but Gravehammer did that in much more primeval and obscure way. They not only had raw and morbid death metal influences, but there are many thrash riffs in their songs, even sort of thrashing black metal aura of some sort, so it's quite deadly mixture, I would say. And I have to say that "Morbid Obscurity" is really cool. It's really fuckin short, with three songs and just six minutes of music, so there's not much philosophy nor the most wonderful songwriting. But Gravehammer had some great riffs, I like that harshness and aggressive style of their death / thrash / black metal, so it is a decent stuff. These guys were very young then, but they surely had good skills and ideas for writing this kind of obscure metal of death. Which is cool! And it's nice to have this demo, as it's very rare, I suppose. 
Oh, you can still read my old interview with Gravehammerhttp://panzerfaust666zine.blogspot.com/2011/09/gravehammer-swedish-and-morbid.html 
Final rate: 70/100 

Beorn - Triumph of the Will

BEORN - Triumph of the Will (DARK OMENS Production CD 2017)
Despite how attractive it is, you don't always need fancy ritualistic image, hoods, skulls, candles or whatever else to bring attention. Sometimes your great music is enough to make the best impression. Polish Beorn image and style are simple, but the band plays some old school black metal, which infected me from the very first listen. "Triumph of the Will" is sort of compilation with two 2015 Beorn recordings: "Awakening" demo and "Warriors of Fullmoon" EP. Both recording complete each other very well and together these are some worthy 45 minutes, believe me. 
I have to say that when I started to listen to "Triumph of the Will", I was quite surprised. I expected to hear some very raw and primitive black metal, but Beorn is completely different, although their music is soaked in the traditional, old school means. Stylistically you can find influences from bands like early Samael, Burzum, even a bit of the likes of Christ Agony or Graveland. But "Triumph of the Will" is not only far from being just useless copy, but it can surprise with great songwriting, performance and sound quality. The music is often quite majestic and almost epic, but it's also dynamic and varied, with not just slow or mid paced parts, but more aggressive and faster songs as well, to get more impressive result. There are harsh riffs, but you can find here also few melodic fragments and even some keyboards, which give deeper and darker atmosphere. And even longer compositions like "Wilczyca" do not bore, because there's always enough variety and good riffage to give an interesting result. I have to say that I especially liked these more atmospheric and more obscure songs like "The Ritual of Forgotten Shadows", which is just amazing song and for me the best piece of the whole CD. The first part of it is very calm and atmospheric, later it turns into more aggressive stuff, with almost Darkthrone'ish riffage, but it sounds godly! And also "In the Arms of Madness" is a real highlight of the album for me. Of course, when it's fast and nasty, it's also damn good like "Victory Over Dying Sun" - song, which again is far from being one dimensional and where you will find many tempo and atmosphere variations. 
What else can I write about Beorn? Well, I definitely like the vocals of the man, who's behind this project - sorry, but I have no idea who he is, so I won't give you his nameBut he's got great throat and his raspy, harsh voice fits this sort of black metal perfectly. I am also surprised how well it all sounds, the production is just fantastic. It's harsh, but clean and powerful, and even though the songs are from two different recording sessions, there's not much difference in the quality, which is great. So, I can truly say that this CD is very recommended and for me it's a real highlight of the Dark Omens Production roster. 
Standout tracks: "The Ritual of Forgotten Shadows", "In the Arms of Madness", "Wilczyca" 
Final rate: 85/100 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Archives of the Dead part XXVI - Acheron - Deprived of Afterlife (EP 1991)

Archives of the Dead part XXVI - Acheron - Deprived of Afterlife (EP 1991)  
Line upSimon Dower (vocals), David Abbott (guitars), Tim Aldridge (guitars), Justin Wornes (bass), Jason Dutton (drums) 
Recorded between the 19-20th of April, 1991. Produced by Acheron. 
This may be my favourite piece of death metal that ever came from Australia. Yes, I do know that it's only a seven inch with two tracks and an intro, but I don't care. It's fantastic death metal and truly special stuff, which blows my fuckin head off every time I play it. Acheron was great band, I like this single even more than the stuff they did under the name Abramelin, whose debut album is legendary. But I prefer "Deprived of Afterlife" a tiny bit more.  
Generally, I think that these two songs, which are on this single, smash a lot of the old school death metal to pieces. It's nasty, brutal shit, which stylistically may have a bit of the European dark and sick vibe, but it's also strongly influenced by the US brutality and technicality. So, maybe if you think of bands like Sinister, Nihilist, Immolation and Suffocation, then maybe you will know what it's like. I love the first song especially, with its savage, blasting parts, but also some slightly melodic parts in one fragment, which sound truly great. I like the production of this EP a lot also. It's harsh, but good enough even for a death metal full length of these old days. Mind that Acheron recorded this single in 1991, so it's very early days of the genre yet! And time, when some of the best classics were recorded. For me "Deprived of Afterlife" is also such classic and essential release. 
Originally "Deprived of Afterlife" was released by French label Corpse Grinder Records, which released also great singles from Ceremonial Oath, Macabre End and Dissection. It's hard to find, expensive, but worth getting. It surely is on my wantlist! 
Final rate: 85/100 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Thirst - ...Darkness...

THIRST - ...Darkness... (DARK OMENS Production CD 2017)
After Abusiveness and Dagor, it's time for another old black metal recording, which has been re-released on CD. This one is from Thirst, which is one of the oldest running Polish black metal bands, formed back in 1991. They have some great recordings in discography, like "Per Aspera ad Astra" (2004) and "Blacklight" (2008) albums, and more stuff, which I can honestly recommend. With this CD, released by Dark Omens Production, we go back in time to 1993 and Thirst's very first demo "...Darkness...", so we get another collectible item with old black metal artefact. 
It's actually the first time I hear this demo. I used to have Thirst's "The Might of the Pagan Belief" tape from 1994, but I never had "...Darkness...". Obviously, you shouldn't expect fancy and "professional sounding" black metal from it. Just like most of the black metal from those days, "...Darkness..." also sounds just as nasty and obscure as possible, especially as it's rehearsal recording. And obviously the music is raw, primitive and archaic, with similarities to bands like early Samael, or Polish demos like "Return of the Northern Moon". It's nothing impressive, to be honest, nor the best demo I have ever heard, I would say that it's rather mediocre even for the old days. But it does bring back that atmosphere or evil and darkness, which characterized the old black metal and which so often is gone on the nowadays recordings. And it does show how this genre used to sound like, how malicious and obscure the sound and music used to be. Primitive or not, I like some of these riffs a lot, even the recording quality is not bad at all. And I mentioned that unholy atmosphere of the music, which is also great. So, to my surprise I enjoyed listening to "...Darkness...".  
This CD contains also a couple of live recordings from 1992, but they're rather useless and I personally would prefer if this CD only had the original demo recordings without bonus tracks. The booklet quality is super good, so in case you like to exhume such old recordings, I sincerely advise you to check "...Darkness..." and Thirst in general. 
Final rate: 65/100

Dagor - Songs of the Slav Ground

DAGOR - Songs of the Slav Ground (FALLEN TEMPLE - CD 2017)
This is a reissue of 1995 demo "Songs of the Slav Ground" of the band called Dagor. It's the only recording of this short-lived band from Poland, although I'm not quite sure what year they split up for good. I have to say that reissuing this demo on CD and MC was quite good idea, because it definitely is a good piece of classic Polish black metal, so this repress can save Dagor music from perishing. I like the idea also because I don't think I ever had a chance to listen to Dagor before. I definitely am familiar with this band's name or even with the artwork for the demo (which I had to see in some old fanzines, I suppose), but I don't think I ever heard it before. 
The pleasure is bigger because "Songs of the Slav Ground" is a damn good demo. Stylistically you can obviously put it aside to the old Behemoth, GravelandInfernum or SacrilegiumBut I would also add early Enslaved to this set of bands (keyboards and even the vocals remind me old Grutle). "Songs of the Slav Ground" contains four pretty solid songs of raw, but atmospheric black metal. For such an early demo, it's not as primitive as you would fear, Dagor had enough ideas to make their music more interesting, whether by adding some keyboards, acoustic guitars or even with combining harsh vocals with clean singing (which, to be honest, sound fuckin awful haha). The production is not bad at all also. So, it still sounds good nowadays, even after these 22 years since "Songs of the Slav Ground" was recorded, especially the song number four is great (there are five tracks, but the tracklist on the cover shows four, so I am not sure what is the title of my favourite song), as it shows the best ideas, arrangements and riffs. 
So, we have pretty good demo. Sure, it's nothing what we would call classic or cult, it's just another old black metal recording, but I am pretty surprised with the quality of Dagor's music and it's a shame they've split up and never recorded anything else. 
Final rate: 70/100