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Monday, 22 February 2010

Abyss: Black Days (Afgrund: Svarta Dagar)

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Band Info
If it was not for the wonders of the internet I would of been certain that Afgrund was merely a new name for Nasum, or that some person was using Nasum's music and pretending it is his own. The similarities between the two are just too numerous. To quote the wise words of a youtuber who created the A-Z of Grindcore in reference to Afgrund he stated that "Plagiarism is Flattery after all", and to be honest I don't think I could of described the Afgrund-Nasum clone situation better myself.
Sadly my knowledge of most bands is minimal even the "popular" bands, this has lead me to trawl the internet to find info on the band as I write the review which is probably the worst methodology of being a journalist, however I shall persevere.
Afgrund is an international band,with members coming from Italy, Finland and Sweden but the band is based in Stockholm(God Bless Wikipedia). The band consist of a trio with the drummer being the only member to have played in other bands(correct me if I am wrong).
Afgrund is Swedish for Abyss, and although a typical name for metal bands, it is the sort of name neglected by many grindcore bands, who often prefer to go for something more savage or grotesque. I am sure by now you have worked out that Svarta Dagar means Black Days, another nice sort of name not used by grindcore.
The Review
Svarta Dagar is an immense album, the musicianship is just absolutely amazing, whatever they play they do so with such high level of professionalism, pretty impressive for a "new" band. The drumming consists of the staple grindcore blast beat, however the guitars do not fear in playing the more melodic and harmonious side of music. This sort of melogrind guitars is something I really like, and Afgrund seem to do an amazing job of it, It sort of reminds me of Nasum's Wrath, or a number of tracks on Nasum's Human 2.0 album. The bass compliments the guitaring well and does not try to drown out the melody, but rather gives the melody some more tension giving it that extra dimension of brilliance. The Vocals are your classical grind shouty screamy and then shifting to your low growls.
The production value of this album is definitely of high value,  I have heard the demo prior to the recording studio and all I can say is that although you can tell there is high level of talent in Afgrund, they must definitely needed good production value to give the "Nasum Effect" more depth and quality.  There is a track on this album, I beleive it is Afgrundssjal, although I am unable to check it out at this time, but It reminds me so much of Arkhon Infaustus and just shows that Afgrund can break from their Nasum mould, on occasion.
This review is quite short compared to my over reviews, but the art of being a good educator is to be accurate and concise. The album is a brilliant album and is up there in my personal favourites, I can forsee in the distant future Afgrund being a titan among the grind legends, all they need to do is constantly release material of equal or better quality than their current albums and voila there we have it.
LastFM: http://www.last.fm/music/Afgrund
Encyclopedia Metallum: http://www.metal-archives.com/band.php?id=97050

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Serpent's breath!

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For those of you who are unaware of who Anaal Nathrakh, I recommend that you put it very high on your list of priorities, once you have heard Anaal Nathrakh your life will never be the same again. Anaal Nathrakh have been blasting out waves of unadultered raw black/death/grind since 1999,and have across a decade not failed in producing the finest and most savage of music available to mankind. Featuring Veterans of the metal music industry: Mick Kenny and Dave Hunt, this duo who also work together on Mistress have proven their ability to diversify and play consistently good music from their other bands.
As tradition in black metal outfits and common place in other metal bands, the band members adopt nicknames or pseudonyms, with Anaal Nathrakh this also true Dave Hunt has taken the title of  V.I.T.R.I.O.L which when you remove the dots is the alternate name for Sulphuric Acid. Mick Kenny opts for the more historical title of Irrumator, now after a bit of research I have come to three possible definitions, although none are certain given that they are not placed in a sentence and thus I cant deduct from the grammar which one it is. The first is a man who forces a person to perform oral sex on him, the second definition is a man that is forced to perform oral sex on another man, and the last one is that it was common place to be used to refer to someone as a bastard in Rome, at a guess I would believe it is either the first or the latter, I am unaware of homosexuality being thematically present in the more extreme metal genre.
Anaal Nathrakh was created in the depths of the former industrial behemoth Birmingham, without a doubt Birmingham has produced the most influential and best that metal has to offer, to name a few: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Napalm Death, Cathedral,  and of course Anaal Nathrakh! And I see it fitting that such a great band should come from such a great place.

After much talk about the Artist themselves I should probably move unto the review of the album, given the purpose of this post is to review the album. However a foreword, breaking with tradition (does 2 times constitute a tradition?) I have not actually explained the purpose of the title, Anaal Nathrakh is a reference to  a charm from the novel Sword in the stone and is believed to be old Gaelic word for Serpents Tongue.

In the Constellation of the Black Widow, must be a tributary title to where this record was produced, there is no way this music was produced by machines and people, it must be the creation of something dark and sinister which has allowed this unholy noise to be crafted in such a manner to give evil, despair and nihilism a soundtrack.  As mentioned earlier Anaal Nathrakh have changed a number of times their musical orientation, and this was a very welcome return, so much so this feels like a rebirth of their Eschaton album with more passion and greatness, ironically Eschaton is the term for the second coming of Christ, coincidence or providence? . That is not to say that Nathrakhs stuff prior to this was terrible or that the musical direction was a bad turn, what I want to convey across is that every album they do is amazing, im convinced that the two of them have the musical Mydas touch. However this musical stance they have taken is entirely  unique, I can not think of any band at all who play anything similar to this and for that reason this is one of my favourites albums and bands, and therefore this is why I was so pleased to see them come back to it with full force.
One of my favourite features of Anaal Nathrakh and which are most prelevant in this album are the vocals, they are amazing. The most common are a high pitched scream which for some reason I cant explain at times sound melodically harmonous with the riffing, I know this may sound vague and I don't want it to be confused with the vocals of melodic death metal, but all I have to say is that you must hear it for yourself. The vocals don't stop there, you often have a low, tad husky voice recite some passages somewhere which I would reckon be reading Nietzsche or some other Nihilist articles, we then get screams which shift from genuine masculine human screams to the high pitched devilish screams and vice versa. By far my favourite element of the vocals are the "normal" vocals, they remind me of old soviet songs and act as the perfect tool to create this idea of despair and hopelessness.

The Instruments are first rate also,  Mick Kenny plays the guitars, bass and drums. What a phenomenal feat it is to play 3 instruments at that level of brilliance. All of the instrumental sections feature anything out of this world, nor are they catchy tunes that you can hum to in your head, but they are good at what they do: which is they create this atmosphere. The guitar mostly plays riffs and good ones at that, it is when we look at the guitaring the production value becomes most apparent. The guitaring is more clear and defined than earlier AN, and although those of you who are the ones who prefer the raw dissonant noise of evil might not benefit from this change, I think it is one that is well placed, the way I visualise it as being a shift from emulating the noises of a  slow apocalyptic demise to being the actual music of the so called slow apocalyptic demise.
The drumming is definitely noteworthy, I always see the drummers in the hardest place, with a lot of bands all the drumming really does is set the tempo and beat of the song, however making something musical and well integrated into the songs is always a plus in my books, and AN have done this perfect.

For those of you not new to Anaal Nathrakh, should all be aware of the Satanarchist track from Total Fucking Necro album and demo, well this album features a thoroughly well rewritten version of it, dare I say it that I prefer the new version to the original? To those of you who have not heard it, it is an amazing song. At about 3 mins 30 is when I really really like it, I am not even sure how to describe it, but I certainly would like more bands to use this as a blue print in there songs. The band are currently signed to FETO records, which is coowned between Mick Kenny and Shane Embury, amazing record label, my 2nd favourite, just check out the bands.

To conclude Anaal Nathrakh is not music that is there to please your ears, it is meant to be a musical metaphor of this morbid, desolate and grim existence we live in, however In The Constellation of the Black Widow captures the beauty and harmony of this dark fade perfectally. From amazing choruses to blast beats to savage vocals In The Constellation of the Black Widow has them all. Embrace yourselves for the Constellation of the Black Widow.

Last Fm:http://www.last.fm/music/Anaal+Nathrakh
Encyclopedia Metallum:http://www.metal-archives.com/band.php?id=1314


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Jig(gumbob) AI(schrolatry)

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Yet again I have opted for an absurd title which will need an explanation, but on the plus side you learn two new words, so not an entire waste of time. A Jigabumbob is a real term for a gadget, whereas Aischrolatry means to worship filth, so by my logic although probably not that of a English language expert I summarize the title to be a gadget that worships filth, obviously the brackets are there so you recognise the fact that I am writting a review on a album by Jig AI.

This self titled Album from 2006 is a absolute Czech masterpiece, hailing from the gore-grind spectrum of grindcore, this blood splattering album is by far my favourite gore-grind album to date, and should rank highly on yours. I have never been really interested in goregrind with the possible exception of early carcass, but this band has certainly resparked my interest into goregrind, prior to listening this I just thought all goregrind bands were absurd lacking musical ability. Now however I know this is not the case, although I do find a majority of them fairly intolerable to listen to.

I prefer to see Prague based Jig-Ai as a concept more than a band, they take it the extra mile to create this violent Japanese style feel to and often in humorous mannerisms as seen in the picture to the right. The title itself is a slight alteration of the Japanese Jigai which means suicide, They use a visual theme of  ero guro, which as seen in the cover is a Japanese form art featuring Females being mutilated. The song titles themselves often make reference to Japan, but usually with a comical sexual or gore orientation.

The album tears out 18 tracks across a half an hour, and does not at any single point fail to deliver the most gruesome and yet humorous of music. The pitch shifting vocals are used all the time, but seem to be extremely well integrated the flow of the music, and really add to the whole Jig AI experience, at times the vocals seem synonymous with what I would imagine cadaveric or guttural fluids sloshing around would sound like. The drumming and guitaring are nothing spectacular nor do they offer anything unique, however who needs that when the songs you write and play are kick ass. The dynamic of the instruments and vocals is absolutely amazing, at no point do you think that the band is ever is dominated by a particular musician, they seem to have the ability to play superfluously together, and that is by far the most fundamental  to create a good album.

With song titles like Extruding Testicles Through Garlic Press  I did question whether they were one of these absurd bands that attempted to outgore the other in every manner possible, luckily by the time you heard the song you realised that it was just another top of the range Jig-AI song.

Sadly according to Encyclopedia Metallum, the drummer has left the band, put  to counter that I do have a piece of good news. The good news is that Jig AI are doing a split with one of my many favourite Polish bands Ass to Mouth, I do hope that even without the drummer they can find someone of equal ability and who shares the same "gruesome Japanese" vision as the previous one. I leave you fellow grinders with a treat, Enjoy!


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Ohrwurm: Grind aus Singapur

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No I have not been kidnapped by German scientists who have replaced my encephalon (medical term for brain, for you goregrind fans), with that of Angela Merkel, my German title has a legitimate purpose.Firstly after a indiscriminate amount of time of deciding which album to review first, I thought why not do a review on a album which I was in the mood to listen to, so dear readers by deduction  as I write this review I am blasting out intense Singapore Grindcore.

As originality is something I do cherish I fancied an original  title, and the only one that sprang to mind was "earworm" defined as being: A tune that is stuck in one's head, obviously being reference to the name of the band. However much to my dismay I discovered that I must of picked up the title from Grind and Punishment. After several minutes of thinking I remembered that from my German A-Level days learning that in fact Earworm is a loan word from the german Ohrwurm, hence the title. For those of you not so well versed in Anglo-Saxon or Germanic Languages Ohrwurm: Grind aus Singapur translates to Earworm: Grind from Singapore. Feeling now that I have the linguistic high ground I shall commence with the review.

There is only one word to describe your first listen of this album, it does not involve any colourful language nor does it have technical musical term, the term quite simply is "wow!", with an exclamation mark on the exclamation mark. The first track starts of with a distressed man screaming about the Patriot Act , and the song just breaks into a grindcore tune, with quite provocative lyrics, amazing multi tonal vocals, fantastic drumming and guitaring; what an awesome start, and all this in 1m19s. The barrage of amazing songs doesn't stop there , for a total of 22 minutes spanning 23 tracks and if quick arithmetic serves me right that is an average song length of 56/57 seconds. To those of you new to Grind, I will point out this is normal to have short songs, but back to the review.

Another Interesting feature of their songs is their sense of humour, I do love it when bands are not serious all the time about everything they do. They have a track called Fuck... I'm Drunk, which is a parody of Aussie Grinders Fuck... I'm Dead, and they also feature a cover of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah's I tried listening to the original here, although I am not a fan of their music it is nice to see the comparison that the original has near no musicianship and minimal energy, and Wormrot just crank up the song, if the song was a person Wormrot would be the people giving it caffeine, alcohol, coke, acid and any other drug that fucks you up and then putting it on a roller-coaster, to produce the Wormrot affect.

The Album art itself is awesome, I do love amazing album arts and many a time have just got the album based on the cover and not of that of recommendation. The Font for the logo is brilliant aswell, the merging of eastern Asian calligraphy with that  of our Roman alphabet is a interesting feature, like said in many films and people its all the little things which contribute the most to the overall effect, and this is certainly true with Wormrot. For a band to come from Singapore and produce this sort of amazing quality material is just beyond me,  to think this band has created all this, where it is harder at every single level to acquire, produce, organise and promote Grindcore then this has been a true testament to the skill of Wormrot.

Intense is another good word to describe this album, the musicianship is just intense from the blast beats to the gruff and occasional husky vocals, to the guitaring  and without the traditional bass player this trio have achieved an amazing sound, in the vein of older grindcore bands, yet in our day. This has led me to believe that Wormrot are infact part of a much sinister plot, perhaps the aforementioned German scientists do exist and kidnapped all of the Grind Legends from the "old school" and brought them to Singapore, committed tests and experiments on them, and after much work created a sinister creature known as Wormrot, and released them in 2007 to feed and to fine tune their skills, and by 2009 they released the Raw co-ordinated Grinding Sounds that we now call their album Abuse.

Like many stories this one has a very happy ending, my favourite record label Earache have picked up the band after listening to their songs from I believe on Invisible Oranges , although I cant be bothered to confirm if this is true or not. The band are now doing or have done 2 splits one with I Abhor and the other with Joe Pesci (the band not the actor) and have also stated that they intend to release another album  (source), and also are going on a tour more can be seen on their myspace. Well this is enough for one review although I could go on for hours.



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After much deliberation, I have decided to set up my own blog to add my knowledge and opinions to the infinite knowledge pool of the internet. I intend to use this blog as a means of reviewing Artists and Albums from the extreme metal scene namely: grindcore and death metal, but not restricted to these genres. I must emphasise that unlike many of the blogs circulating, I will not be posting links to copyrighted material, this blog is strictly a review blog. However if any bands wish me to review their music and also desire a public link to their music, then in that scenario I am more than happy to post a link.

As will become apparent to you the reader, I am a terrible speller and often neglect to use the spell-checker, in addition to my poor literacy ability or perhaps rather ignorance, I am also new to the blogging environment, and will most likely lack any of the swish new features and fantastic aesthetics that I see all the time in blogs. On the other hand, I do intend to take great interest in my blog, and learn the ways of "blogging" to ensure it is for the end reader a thorughly enjoyable experience.

You can feel free to send me questions, and if they are worthy of being published than I shall, but don't ask ridiculous things and personal things, remember this is a music blog not a facebook or myspace. As touched on earlier if you are in a band, then you can ask me to review your music, if you are not in a band, but wish me to review a specific artist/album then I will be happy to if the material is in my collection or obtainable for review in a legitimate manner, but just remember common courtesy costs nothing but can get you a long way.

As for my musical inspirations I would say that in my pre teens sadly limp bizkit was the one to break me into the metal genre(I am aware he is not metal, but his track Take a look around is definatley a song you can mosh to), once a die hard metal fan, I have just progressed from genre to genre, admittedly at the time I scarcely understood the nature and significance of a genre, but in hindsight my musical migratory patterns were well defined by genre. It is then from about the age of 15 I became an adamant death metal fan, but still had old thrashers Slayer as my staple musical intake and still do. Since then I have got into heavier and heavier death metal leading me to brutal death metal then eventually to deathgrind which introduced me to grindcore. And what a God send that was, grindcore has been in my life since then and has inspired to write the many wonderful things about it in the future.

Obviously my inspiration to write a blog comes predominantly from the fact that I love music and am highly opinionated, but Blogs like Ask Earache, Grind and Punishment to name a few have triggered me to write my own, in my own stylistic manner. Well enough about me and the rules, its starting to look more like a dissertation of music in my life than a friendly review, so I bid you all farewell although the likelihood is you will read my next posts before your read this post, so I leave you all with a wonderful video to grind the day away (although I will be posting my first review in a few hours)