Ifernach – Gaqtaqaiaq (Black Metal)

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From Canada there is a one-man army in Finian Patraic who has his own band Ifernach. Since the first EP dropped in 2016 he has managed to do not one, not two, but SIX albums (including this one). That’s quite insane really. I haven’t managed to listen to all of them but I was interested to hear how the quality has been seeing he has released so many so quickly. From what I heard non of them were bad, some were worse than others and Finian could probably skip an EP or two to make a full-length with the better songs in his favour but it is still admirable to do what he does, as a solo artist.

So what kind of music does Ifernach play? While it’s old school black metal at its core that doesn’t tell the whole truth. Gaqtaqaiaq offers a lot of different styles. Be it the atmospheric passages that makes one draw parallels to Lord of the Rings infused metal a la Summoning, or the more savage yet melodic parts that’s more within the second wave of black metal from Norway with the likes of Gehenna, Immortal or Emperor. That’s also where the strength of Ifernach lays. How all these ambient, acoustic and raw elements comes together to create a rather wicked and chaotic black metal experience. While I still think there are some ups and downs (I tend to skip “Elle danse avec la mort” for example as that songs seems out of place to me) during the almost 30 minutes of playtime Gaqtaqaiaq is Ifernach best offering yet. During these two years he has honed his craft and for those out there that want some savage spiritual black metal then this will be an album to check out.

I do wonder do how many albums Ifernach can release before starting to repeat himself too often or drop in quality though. Finian is a talented musician that’s all for experimenting and improving his craft. Giving time, trimming the fat and you got yourself not just a good but a great underground black metal act. Fans of old Immortal or waiting for a new album with Gehenna should have a good time here.

Label: Nekrart Productions
For fans of: Immortal and Gehenna
Release date: March 28th, 2018
Favorite song: Extinction
Score: 3/5

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Mordant Rapture – The Abnegation (Technical Death Metal)

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Ah The Artisan Era, a label that just keeps giving good tech-death to the world and they’re always improving by adding more and more great bands to their roster. Now enter Mordant Rapture and their debut EP “The Abnegation”. Is it yet another great release from the label or have they, for once, taken a misstep?

Reading the history of the band and how their debut got created is one that tells the tale of years of hard work, gallons of coffee, sleep deprivation, and doubts. The competition in this day and age is fierce so I can really relate with many bands having the same process before releasing something. The band started in 2013, which gives you an idea how long it’s taken the band to finally feel ready to release their first EP featuring five songs into the world. Was it worth the wait?

Yes, yes it was. One thing I really like with Mordant Rapture’s style is how they try to captivate a cinematic musical experience, somewhat in the veins of Fleshgod Apocalypse or Carach Angren. The sound is very different from those bands though as this is straight up technical death metal with a lot of symphonic elements to it, think Inferi (this is much better in my opinion though), Enfold Darkness or Spawn of Possession as examples. Already on the first track “Unsightly Beast” you get a flurry of great riffs, solos and get an instant feel on what Mordant Rapture are all about, delivering class symphonic tech-death heavy influenced by the grandiose nature of film scores. Meaning in other words this is epic stuff, who doesn’t like well written film scores? Having that as an influence in the technical realm of metal works great, it’s not something new but it’s not something I hear too often either. “Withered” is a shorter song than the opener, this is way more of a heads on approach and on this track their blackened death and black elements shine as you hear influences from both Emperor and Dissection. Great stuff right?

What cinematic album wouldn’t be complete without an intermission track with piano and violin, adding to the atmosphere for the follow-up track? That’s exactly what “A Plea Above Ashes” is there for and while I would want it to smoothly transition into the next track, it doesn’t which makes it feel a bit out of place to me. That also leaves the only negative part on the album for me. “Quell the Voiceless” brings up the pace, where the drums especially gets me going and are really dominant. This is also the track that I feel showcase all Mordant Rapture tricks on their debut. The symphonic elements, blackened tech-death, crushing drums and thundering riffs are all there at once to make it a go to song for me when I go back to “The Abnegation”. The finisher “Natal Trophies” is the longest and most symphonic track on the album, which just like the last scenes in a movie ends in an epic way. Here the vocals are better than ever where a wider range of growls and techniques are used. A great way to end this 22 minute journey into the world of Mordant Rapture which makes me want more of this.

Hell I love this music. It’s not something that breaks the boundaries of tech-death but this is insanely well produced symphonic tech-death that has very few flaws in it. Mordant Rapture displays great musicianship and a great range of aspects to their music. This is the kind of music that will make you miss Spawn of Possession and Necrophagist less or you Inferi fans out there forget they even existed. That’s something very few does on their debut album and I can only hope an upcoming full-length won’t take five years. The Artisan Era has done it again, adding a new band to their ranks that shows how hard work pays off. “The Abnegation” is not only one of the best debut albums of the year but one of the best releases overall.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Enfold Darkness and Spawn of Possession
Release date: July 13th, 2018
Favorite song: Quell the Voiceless
Score: 4.5/5

Unflesh – Savior (Technical Death Metal)

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It’s been some time since I listened to technical death metal actually, at least a couple of months when the Inferi album dropped. Don’t know why I waited so long to listen to Unflesh as “Savior” has been out since May 25th. Here we are though and I’ve finally given the album a few spins during the week. Lets start with some background on Unflesh, who are they? The band is located in USA and began as a solo project in 2014 by Ryan Beevers. The first album, an EP named “Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity”, came out in 2016 and featured Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, ex-Obscura) on session drums. The EP got a lot of praise when it came out so this debut full-length has had some hype to it. What’s changed since the EP is that Unflesh has gone from a solo project into a fully fledged band where Ryan added Peter de Reyna on bass, Chris Dovas on drums and Chris Gardino on guitars. Has this change elevated Unflesh game to new heights?

What struck me first is that the influences are many on “Savior”. While it is at its core a tech-death album that will please fans of Arsis, Alterbeast and Revocation there are also loads of elements gathered from the melo-death and black metal genres. You can hear hints of The Black Dahlia Murder, Naglfar, Dissection and even Emperor throughout the album and that’s exactly what makes Unflesh stand out from most bands out there. It’s a pure joy to give this albums several spins and each time you notice something new, getting that feeling when you have a hard time picking your favorite song on the album as it keeps changing with each listen. It is that good. Personally there are only a handful of albums that’s better than “Savior” this year. If it hadn’t been for the insane release of Rivers of Nihil I would say this is the best tech-death you will hear this year. However when many will undoubtedly name Inferi, Alkaloid and Augury (all good releases mind you) as tech-death albums of the year I will name-drop Unflesh. A modern tech-death release with a touch of the old school, what’s not to like?

A splendid EP became an even better full-length release once Ryan got his band together. Unflesh is a band on the rise that can battle with the best of them already. The “Dissection goes tech-death” approach is one I can get behind and fall in love with. This is an album that will land high on my yearly best of list.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Dissection and Arsis
Release date: May 25th, 2018
Favorite song: Caliginous
Score: 4/5

Kosmogyr – Eviternity (Atmospheric Black Metal)

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What an interesting duo there is in atmospheric black metal band Kosmogyr. The two members Xander Cheng and Ivan Belic are from China and Czech Republic respectively creating an international band that’s really crossing borders. Eviternity is the duos debut album and it sure packs a punch.

The album is atmospheric black to its core with Ivan’s vocals giving it that black second wave kind of feeling to it. It’s melancholic beautiful music that’s yet made with a destructive force in mind. While listening I get hints of Emperor just as much as I do with bands like Grift, Uada and Panphage during the album. The change of pace and use of different instruments such as violins throughout the album are well placed and it’s really interesting to know that a duo so far away from each other can work so well together on a debut album. Eviternity also offers great song-writing all around which is a good reason on why I will probably return to it more than once this year, it’s got good replay value and leaves its mark.

There hasn’t been too many atmospheric black metal albums coming my way this year compared to last year but when they do they’ve been on good quality. Kosmogyr delivers a solid debut that’s worth any atmospheric black metal fans time and one they can build on for future releases.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Panphage and Uada
Release date: March 9th, 2018
Favorite song: Frailty
Score: 3/5

Paara – Riitti (Black Metal)

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I enjoyed Paara’s debut Yön olevainen puoli. It was raw black metal with some folk vibes to it and it was in Finish, sometimes resembling Moonsorrow in a few aspects but in no way a copycat. With Riitti the band has taken it an extra step. The album is a few minutes longer on the four tracks it offers for one, got an even more folkish touch to it and it fits really well with the lyrics on folktales and ghost stories. It all just adds up nicely in a package. Even more so on Riitti than on the debut.

Riitti starts of really slow with forest sounds, soft clean vocals and acoustic guitar to eventually break out into a full on black metal track on Viimeinen virta. Sadly this song didn’t really capture me and I find the 15 minute opening being a bit boring and falling flat until the end where it kicked in and paved the way for the rest of the album. The following three tracks on the album are killer with their energy and aggression. Especially Suon sydän is a personal favorite of mine that I will play many many times, one of the best songs this year in my opinion. It’s a perfect Paara song in many ways as it presents the different styles the band draw influences from with folk, atmospheric black metal, raw black metal elements and change of clean to harsh vocals. This is what Paara is all about to me and it’s beautiful.

Some people might lose faith on the album or get bored after the opening track but I advise you not to. Riitti is a good album and an overall slight improvement from the debut, with their best track released to date. I couldn’t ask for much more really.

Label: ViciSolum Productions
For fans of: Moonsorrow and Havukruunu
Release date: February 9th, 2018
Favorite song: Suon sydän
Score: 3/5

Shores of Null – Black Drapes for Tomorrow (Doom Metal)

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Candlelight Records used to be a label I always looked at when I wanted the more extreme quality music. Sure they still got Emperor, Winterfylleth, Shade Empire and Limbonic Art that I like but they used to have so much more than that! Entombed, Enslaved, Enthroned, Dismember, 1349, Candlemass etc. The list is very long on some of the worlds biggest metal acts that’s been with Candlelight one way or another. From Candlelight we do have one of the best melodic doom albums you will hear this year though. It’s the Italian band (I’ve told you, this is probably Italy’s biggest metal year) Shores of Null that bless us with their sophomore album Black Drapes for Tomorrow. The band was formed in 2013 with members from the likes of Zippo and Noumeno.

Black Drapes for Tomorrow offers the same kind of high quality doom metal you’re used to hear from heavy hitters within the scene like Katatonia, Daylight Dies and Novembers Doom. This is the first time I hear Shores of Null and they are blowing me away quite frankly. I can’t really find a single song that isn’t good, and it gets better each time I play it. I’ve heard from others that told me about Shores of Null that this record is a safe path and a bit weaker than their debut Quiescence. If it is then I’ll be damn that album is nearly perfect, just like this is a hidden gem within the metal community every doom fan should be all over, safe path or not. Straccione’s vocals are perfect for this kind of music and the guitar duo Raffaele Colace and Gabriele Giaccari are in sync like it’s almost a symbiosis.

As I said before this album is so damn good and solid through and through it’s hard to pick favorite tracks (second album in a row, lucky me). If I had to then it would have to be Donau, Tide Against Us and We Ain’t Ashes. If you need your fill of gloom and darkness then Black Drapes for Tomorrow is an album you can’t miss. Shores of Null sophomore album Black Drapes for Tomorrow is out now through Candlelight Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoresofnull
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/shoresofnull
Label: Candlelight Records
For fans of: Katatonia and Daylight Dies
Favorite song: Tide Against Us

Deity – Deity (Technical Death Metal)

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Deity were formed by the duo and long time friends Danny Alessandro and John Massey about 15 years ago (!). They have since then worked on material, letting it grow until they felt it was good enough to be released to the world. Personally I am glad they did as they seem to have unleashed the Deity in a pure form of metal.

The intro is a sweet symphony that doesn’t make you think about death metal at all, since it’s simply beautiful, and I was wondering if I really did listen to death metal act Deity. Beginning of Extinction brings the chaos right to my ears though on song number two and now I feel right at home. Take a bit of Suffocation, smidge of Gorguts and top it off with Death then you got the main influences in the sound of Deity. Lovers of technical riffs, no clean singing and shredding beware as this is an album made for you, the way Deity themselves would like it to sound. The album is filled with great solos and riffs that you can’t stand still on and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this Canadian (again a great techdeath band from Canada) duo live on stage as a supporting act to the likes of Gorguts, Cryptopsy or Archspire. Or why not even do it with other up and coming bands like Samskaras and Fractal Generator. Would be sweet lineups!

I think this album rocks. Anything from the instrumental songs From Which We Came, We Now Return, the acoustic In Time to the shredding tunes of Rituals is a joy for my ears. Favorite tracks on the album being Beginning of Extinction, Rituals and Illuminate the Unwilling.

Deity’s self-titled debut is out June 2nd as a independent release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeityMetalCA
For fans of: Suffocation and Gorguts
Favorite song: Beginning of Extinction