Betnatnash play harsh, unforgiving symphonic black metal with large helpings of dissonance. They’re Mexican, and have opened for Dimmu Borgir there but that gives only a small hint of their sound.
After a suitably melodramatic intro, first track proper ‘Black Cyclone’ kicks in with some raging riffing and minor key keyboards lines. It’s an odd track, its 8 minute length mixing a huge array of influences together. We have thick industrial keyboard lines, tremolo black metal riffing and acoustic laden interludes almost, which sound quite pagan/folk metal esque. It is clear Benatnash aren’t here to make it easy for any of us to get them, and this theme continues into ‘Red Storm of Yr’.
Unfortunately, it’s a mix that doesn’t always work effectively. Certainly parts of ‘Red Storm of Yr’ sound chaotic, and not in the usual black metal style. The symphonic element isn’t necessarily overplayed, but it comes off as messy with almost jazz like disregard for timing. If executed well, this would be pretty impressive stuff, but for me it doesn’t work well. The songs are also, on average, too long for their own good. A more rigorous cutting of tracks are really in order for future works, as I did find myself skipping onto the next track too often. ‘Benatnash’ does offer something of a warped carnival atmosphere behind the rasping, which is pretty cool but it is unfortunately one of only a few highlights for me.
Benatnash have some interesting elements, and certainly a more original take on the black metal genre than many bands who resort to basic riff and screech mentality. ‘War Prophecies’ is solid enough, but solid doesn’t really cut it anymore. We want inspiring in our metal these days, and Benatnash simply fall flat. Too much mix and match, not enough quality.
It becomes difficult to review live bands on the basis of one song, in this case Zebadiah Crowe. I arrived just in time to catch the close of their set, and unfortunately cannot really comment on them. Following act Artisian were a solid, if uninspiring blast of thick blackened death metal. It was not a bad performance per se, but they fell victim of being support to acts that 99% of the occupants of the venue came to see. Bassist Mørktår and guitarist/vocalist Møløch make a solid pairing; the former looking scarily young, and the savage rasp of the latter making their less exciting material become more palatable. One possibly to look out for.
Brummie extreme maniacs Anaal Nathrakh are completely insane on record, but totally unhinged live. Amiable frontman V.I.T.R.I.O.L. jumps around, flailing arms and shrieks the most unholy noises you can possibly imagine, while Mick Kenney and the rest of the band go hell for leather at their instruments. Its difficult to fully describe the sheer intensity to someone who has never seen the band live. Tracks like ‘The Final Absolution’, ‘The Destroying Angel’ and the titanic ‘Do Not Speak’ send the fans crazy, which Anaal lap up. With directions to the bouncers to ‘let the people do whatever the hell they want, if they break my neck, thats my fault not yours’, the place comes to pieces under the sheer weight of the performance. Imagine Emperor wrestling with Pig Destroyer. Then times that by ten. Then you have Anaal Nathrakh.
Marduk have a seriously tough act to follow. But they manage it, just. Marduk are renowned for the sheer force of their music; enschewing dynamics, song writing and any hint of melody for pure blitzkrieg attack. Well, until these last two albums at least. ‘Rom 5:12′ and ‘Wormwood’ have shown a more misanthropic bent to song writing that is beginning to branch out into less direct attack. But their live show is still awe inspiring vicious. Moments between songs are welcome to catch your breath again before another frost bitten battering ram takes your head off. It’s a stunning exercise in malevolence and intensity. Closing with a guest appearance from Primordial’s Alan Nemtheanga for ‘Accuser/Opposer’, Marduk have provided more evidence that they are one of black metal’s staunchiest pillars. The black metal war machine rolls on…
The return of Decapitated to the death metal scene is a more than welcome, especially since the hiatus was caused by the death of one member and the severe injury of another. It has been almost 4 years since the Polish masters last devastated us with ‘Organic Hallucinosis’, and tonight’s return is all the more poignant after they dedicate ‘Spheres of Madness’ to Vitek and Covan.
But openers Man Must Die were not ready to be just filler before the main act. The Glaswegians brutalised their way through a short set of hard hitting death metal, coupled with hilarious stage banter (‘Are you guys gonnie go mental or are ye gonnie stan’ there like yer havin’ tea wi’ yer granny?’). Man Must Die are unfortunately a pretty underrated band, and dealt with a slow start with consummate ease to have the sold out Ivory Blacks appreciating them fully by the end of the set. Hopefully their addition to the bill on Machine Head’s next appearance in Glasgow this month will open them to a wider audience.
Kataklysm were up next, the Canadians laying waste to the pogo-ing masses with their slick, refined death metal assault. Kataklysm brought groove to the precedings, allowing the circle pit to get properly started. Tracks like ‘The Vultures are Watching’ and ‘Crippled and Broken’ went down a treat with a seemingly endless supply of stage diving fans, including one little red haired girl who took off from a speaker and disappeared within the swelling mass of bodies, never to be seen again.
Finally, Decapitated took the stage and were overwhelming by a roar of praise and adulation. What followed was one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen in a number of gigs; a maelstorm of tech death wizardry backed by pure passion and answered by the place going crazy. The pit grew in size, velocity and violence, with stage divers grabbing the overhead beams and swinging out onto the crowd. Standout tracks ‘Day 69′ and the aforementioned ‘Spheres of Madness’ were particularly impressive, but the whole set was a joy to behold, and it was so heartening to see the band overcome past adversities and rule just as hard as they ever did.
Ξ February 4th, 2010 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Demos |
Spaniards Vitreus have waited a mere five years to release their debut demo, ‘No Shadows Without Light’, a slice of gothic doom akin to Opeth, Paradise Lost and Sentenced. How these sunny countries can through up depressed stuff such as this always astounds me…
Opening track ‘Benighted Existence’ sounds like HIM. A lot like HIM in fact, with the simple arrangement and clean, crooning vocals. Unfortunately, opening with your weakest track is not the best idea, and this one certainly isn’t fantastic. Second track ‘Metaphorically Forgotten’ is much better, with a thick guitar sound overladen with soft, echoing keyboard lines and a much more palatable deathly growl. It also slows to a more melancholic dirge halfway through, and is torn apart by a mournful guitar solo that adds to the atmosphere. There’s something about that I really enjoy; its evocative yet not forcefully sad.
Tracks like ‘Nombres Perdidos’ and closer ‘Dark Walls’ remind me of a rawer Sentenced, or a much stripped back Opeth or Paradise Lost; a winding piano line in ‘Nombres…’ breaking up the guitar led stuff to nice effect. Vitreus are also not opposed to moving into death metal territory as well, witness the heavier ‘Double Trick’ and ‘Metaphorically Forgotten’’s growling roar. There is also shades of black metal seeping into some of the keyboard lines in the title track.
The tough thing to swallow about ‘No Shadows Without Light’ however is the fact that the band have taken a full 6 years to compile this 6 track demo, rerecording and redefining the sound until it was perfect for them. Six tracks in six years isn’t exactly a great output, especially when the quality of this demo ebbs and flows. Quality tracks like ‘Metaphorically Forgotten’ and ‘No Shadows Without Light’ are hindered by poorer material such as the opening track. The band also seem to struggle with identity; at one point being doomy gothic metal, the next a more typical death metal band without being able to excel in either.
There’s definitely enough potential in this demo to suggest that Vitreus are a good band with the ability to excel. What they need to do now is cut away the poorer material and build themselves an identity that they can stick with and that works. Experimentation is fine at such an early stage in a band’s career, but the forging of a strong identity and vision is key to success. Find yourselves Vitreus, then the people will find you.
The Acacia Strain have been peddling their patented brand of deathcore since 2001, and have pretty much perfected their modus operandi by the time ‘Continent’ arrived in 2008. Sturdy, slam ridden death metal that chugs, growls and thunders its way through its almost 40 minute length.
For a style that has almost become totally redundant in terms of originality and room to manoeuvre, the Acacia Strain provide you with a welcome batch of meat and potatoes hardcore, laced with a sharp, metallic edge. Darker than previous efforts, ‘Continent’ also wipes out all these tedious little attempts at experimentation that many bands use to distract the listener from the fact that they don’t have good songs. ‘Continent’ possesses those in spades, be it the thunderous chug of opener ‘Skynet’, the eerie Morbid Angel-esque intro to ‘Chthulu’ or the harmonies that permeate the riffing pleasure of ‘Baby Buster’.
There also seems to be a Meshuggah influence creeping into the riffs of ‘Continent’, breakdowns have a slight unpredictableness and drumming parts sound slightly Tomas Haake- like. Closing track ‘The Behemoth’ provides a perfect end to a solid album; a soaring instrumental that ebbs, flows and sounds completely different to what has come before. It’s generally difficult to add something like that into an album without it seeming like a gimmick or contrite, but it works here to great effect.
‘Continent’ is exactly what you want in a deathcore album; big solid riffs, breakdowns that are not overly predictable but welcoming, and a huge lack of pretension. That is why this band slay. Buy ‘Continent’ and bang your head.
A landmark addition to my collection, ‘Soundtrack from Film “Mabuta no Ura”‘, is my 1000th CD and it is probably my favourite release from Boris’s extensive catalogue. A band that never fail to surprise, enlighten and amaze, ‘Soundtrack…’ is something of an oddity in even their discography.
The record is a soundtrack to an imaginary film, dreamt up by the three members of Boris. It plays pretty much like a soundtrack; a number of shorter, acoustic and ambient led tracks mixes in with more traditional Boris drone and fuzz. It works very well, especially on tracks like ‘A Bao A Qu’, and the mellow closing epic ‘It Touches’. It’s a much more soundscape album than some of their other releases, like the ominous drone of ‘Absolutego’ or the rock and roll odysseys of ‘Pink’ or ‘Smile’.
‘Soundtrack…’ is an eclectic collection of tracks, rippling acoustics interplaying with fuzzy feedback suit the theme of the film soundtrack, but few tracks stay around long enough to constitute songs. Other bands would struggle to pull something like this off AND keep it interesting. But Boris have this unnerving talent that allows them to make the mundane interesting, and the interlude track can definitely fall into that category.
‘Soundtrack from Film ‘Mabuta no Ura” is yet another mind bending curveball from the masters of such a thing. Since you never know what to expect from them, your best hope as a Boris fan is to sit back and expect a masterpiece. For be it drone, psychedelical, sludge or stoner rock, a masterpiece it almost always is.
Thraw are a Slovenian five piece thrash band that could have, to be honest, come straight from the Bay Area circa the 80s. ‘Injecting Hate’ is their second demo, and it’s a pretty raw burst of thrashing riffs and gang choruses.
Their sound leans further toward an earlier Testament/Anthrax than say Megadeth or Metallica. ‘Angeleater’ in particular sounds very Slayer-esque vocally, with more traditional thrash yells being accompanied by the occasionally Arayan banshee scream, which suits in well with a couple of excellent Scott Ian style riffs. Interestingly for a thrash band, there is a lack of prolonged soloing in any of the tracks; the band relying more on thrashing riffs and interlinked bridges than say, wailing hundred note solos. Some good bass licks, like a bridge in ‘Angeleater’ or the funky intro line to ‘Induced Adrenaline’ also adds something to the mix.
Thraw play with a classic style which is becoming close to saturation point in the mainstream but they come across as genuine lovers of the style by not trying to do anything but emulate their heroes. This is true thrash worship, without mainstream dilution or a flashy Repka album cover.