Pensées Nocturnes – À boire et à manger

My initial reaction to this album was of immense disgust and displeasure. There is such a thing as trying too hard to go for an aesthetic. I understand an album trying to sound french, but there’s a difference between sounding french, and shitting baguettes and snail guts while a mime silently sobs in the background. I could feel myself growing fatter and bitchier, my skin starting to glow pale white, and I had almost completed my full transformation into a high school goth girl while this album played. However as I listened, I began to realize that despite my initial objections, and despite my undying disdain for albums that try too hard to get a certain sound, I had to admit that this shit actually kinda works.

Sure, the saxophones, accordions, operatic female vocals, violins, bass, acoustic guitars, piano, circus samples and so forth was a lot to take in. At times too much. But I had to think, if I were to try to make french boutique black metal, could I really do any better? Objections to the concept aside, taking it for what it is, could it have been executed better? The answer I believe is an honest to god no. As deplorable as the Satie cover could’ve been, it’s probably the best black metal cover a Satie piece I will ever hear. In fact as much as it pains me to say it, that’s probably the best track on the album. Sure there’s the issue of 80% of the album being a variation on the same chord progression, but the kind of music it’s based on is not exactly variable in nature.

I can’t really say I loved this album, but taking it for what it’s worth, I feel like this is an interesting enough take on black metal, that’s done in a way that’s not quite obnoxious enough to be unbearable, and for that, I have to at least give it a seal of recommendation, if anything else for the fact that it’s a curiosity.


Thy Catafalque – Meta

I think this album demonstrates a difference between quirky and colorful. Colorful in my eyes is something that elicits imagination, creativity, and certain kind of lushness to the music. It feels like the band put their heart and soul into the record, and as a result creates an album filled with every color of the rainbow, in a truly unique and satisfying experience. Meta is just quirky. Sure it has some weirdness to it, with various electronic and orchestral oddness, but it the melodies are so ridiculously uninspiring that I can’t help but feel both bored and disappointed the whole way through. There are brief moments where I think the album hits (Mezolit for instance), but for the most part it feels like Thy Catafalque through a bunch of related shit together, strung it over the same few melodies, and hoped for the best. Not to mention the album is over an hour long, with a 21 minute track that feels exactly the same as the majority of the album.

Sure Meta has a lot of parts to it, but I would rather have an album with a few well crafted parts that go together, than an album that throws a bunch of different things together that come off as a bit random, and end up sounding the same anyway.


Swampcult – The Festival

Simultaneously manages to be too conceptually large for the band to handle, while also containing, on an equal level, completely unadventurous music. It’s not terrible, but even it’s short length is wearing and none of it’s ideas achieve their intended purpose of scaring and possibly shocking the listener. A failed experiment, but there was at least an earnest attempt.


Plasmodium – Entheognosis

God, where the fuck do I even begin with this thing? Yeah, a thing, I wouldn’t really call this an album. This is more like 60 minutes of a complete deconstruction and reconstruction of extreme metal into pure textural form. This is 60 minutes of me loving the absolute fuck out of guitar feedback wank for the first time in my life. This is just 60 minutes of pure fuck. That’s it, it’s just fuck, I can’t really think of how else to describe it. This psychedelic, noisy, bewildering, oppressive, evil, crushing, zooming, absolutely mind boggling 60 minute fuck-a-thon 3000. This thing, Plasmodium’s Entheognosis, is something I can safely say I have never heard the likes of in my entire reviewing career.

Sure, I’ve heard noise mixed with black metal before. Not much of it, but it’s there. When people think of noise and black metal, they instantly run to Gnaw Their Tongues. They think of edgy, disgusting, ear numbing and raw black metal that sounds like it came straight for the scariest horror film one could think of. Fuck I would say it SOUNDS like a horror film itself. If that’s what you’re expecting here, throw that out the window. This is something much worse than that. Not worse in that it’s got more edgy cover art, or that it’s louder, or that it has more spooky industrial black ambient parts to it. It’s scarier in a different way. There’s something much more terrifying about music that is horrifying without trying to be horrifying. That the band in question isn’t trying to make their music as scary as possible, it’s just that terrifying in it’s natural state. That’s what we have here.

The most complete way in which I could possibly describe Entheognosis is a 60 minute, 4 track album consisting of psychedelic, noisy avant-garde black metal, that often obscures riffs all together for the sake of just shrieking textures on the guitar. That absolutely does not do this music justice, but it’ll have to do for now. It sounds as if Plasmodium took the aspect of raw aggression in extreme metal and broke that down, than reanimated it without paying head to any sort of musical conceptions of what extreme metal is supposed to sound like. So like post-metal, except actually creative. This is post-extreme metal in the most extreme way possible. Sure you’ll hear vague influences from black, death, and doom metal (black metal like vocals, death/thrash drumming, slow, doomy bass guitars), but if you’re focusing on that, you’re missing the point of the music. Instead you get these, fuck not even journeys, just explorations in texture and what it means to have aggression and evil in music. If that sounds massively pretentious, trust me, it isn’t. I would put this on full blast if it was. The album sounds so genuine, which is all the more impressive considering how grand and far out the concept is.

This is an extremely difficult review because I genuinely have no background to go by. I simply haven’t heard anything remotely close to this before, and I’m 99.999% sure whoever is reading this hasn’t either. If this band had a wider audience, this could be a revolutionary work. But you could say that about a lot of bandcamp bands. Albums like this are the best part of being a reviewer. It’s finding spectacular records that nobody else gave a chance. It’s finding that one speck of gold in the entire Colorado River. This has been a shit year for black metal, with none of the popular records blowing me away, and the obscure finds not doing much for me either. I can definitely say that this record is my black metal AOTY so far, which is a major relief to someone who loves the genre so much. Though calling this black metal is like calling a Schoenberg prelude a song. You’re technically right, but completely fucking missing the point. For as weary as the concept of this album can get (the length is a bit much and the ideas don’t always support it anyway), I kept having the thought that maybe the point of this record wasn’t to have structured variety. Maybe this isn’t a record that’s meant to be analyzed like any other album. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to find faults in every bit that’s made. Perhaps this is simply something that’s meant to be experienced. Something in which you just get lost in the textures and ideas, not trying to figure out if they’ve been repeated. Nah who am I kidding, that would take letting go of what I already know. And even though some blessed bands are able to do that, I’m going to sit here staring in awe, still trying to find a reason to subtract points on an imaginary scoring system like the complete simpleton I am.


Jute Gyte – Perdurance

So regardless of what numerical rating I give this record, I will say this: Perdurance has some of the coolest fucking guitar tones I’ve ever heard. I mean listen to that shit at around the 1 minute mark of Like the Woddcutter Sawing His Hands. Holy shit, that’s fucking surreal. I wouldn’t even know how you could go about creating that. Then again, I don’t think I have the imagination to create this album period. Rarely are there metal albums that I listen to and don’t think “yeah if I played guitar I could do that”. I mean maybe extremely technical and vituosic albums sure, but assuming my guitar skills were shared with the artists, the large majority of the albums I listen to is shit I could do in that scenario. This album isn’t one of those, and that deserves some respect.

Aside from just the guitar tone, the entire premise of this album is wicked fucking awesome, like genre porn that you never knew you wanted. Black metal has always prided itself in sinister riffs and tones, so a logical next step to that would be to create black metal using tones that one wouldn’t normally hear in a metal album, or any album for that matter. I’ll admit, I don’t have exactly the biggest experience with microtonal music, but I instantly thought of Penderecki when I heard this, and any time there is even an implication of Penderecki and black metal, I’m going to be a happy man.

But it’s not just microtones that they throw at you. Along with the haunting, whispering buzzing tonalities, you get these crunching, mechanical guitars that sound like they don’t belong on the album. Not that that’s a problem, I’m more than happy to accommodate more weird shit if it sounds good. These guitars are used to produced these heavy, groovy riffs that at times sound like they come from a stoner doom record of all things. Groove is a surprisingly large element of Perdurance. This isn’t all just art student wankery, there are some serious riffs going on here, to a point where it almost detracts from the more artistic elements of the album. Almost.

However, as much as I loved this record, I feel like there simply aren’t enough ideas for it to justify its length. Once you’ve heard the first track, you’ve essentially heard the entire album. I Am in Athens and Pericles Is Young is just about the best closer one could hope for, with more diversity than any other track on the album. But until then, the songs are often quite formulaic, with breaks to introduce “new” ideas, however those ideas never coming outside of the formula itself. There’s almost always that mechanical guitar riffing, followed by microtonal whining, back to guitar riffing. The variation comes during moments outside the riffing, however I feel like I have to wait for the riffs to be done before I ever get anything really new, and the riffs make up the large majority of the album. I Am in Athens has some softer sections that sound almost uplifting in a way, and other aspects that keep me interested during the entire track, rather than simply waiting for the good shit to pop up. I feel like an EP of tracks 3,4, and 6 would be fantastic, and get exactly as much information to the listener, while being a lot easier to listen to, and less time consuming.

Is this album a gimmick album, absolutely. A great, and very unique gimmick, but a gimmick none the less. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however. I absolutely adore the concept, and complaints aside, had a wonderful experience with this album. Perdurance represents what I love about black metal. No matter how much black metal you listen to, there’s always something new to hear, and always new ideas being created. It’s ripe with experimentation as well as tradition, often blending both in the same record (though not so much here). But an album based on essentially two ideas does not need to be an hour long. It’s not a major complaint, but it prevents this from being a top 10 album this year, which I feel like it had every right to be.


Schammasch – Triangle

Note to any band out there: if you make a 100 minute concept album, make sure you concept is worth making 100 minutes of music about. Second note: playing louder does not make your statement any more grandiose. Schammasch apparently missed these two memos, and as such have created a monster of an album, and not in a good way.

Triangle is brash but not bold, loud but way too fucking proud, and the result is an extremely long waste of my time. Before even getting into the music, what the actual fuck is that production job? They managed to make the least important aspects of the music (backing guitar and drums) the loudest part of the album, and by far. It’s actually hilarious every time I hear this pretty good technical solo being completely drowned out by the droning backing guitar (who essentially plays the same “riff” the whole time, just in different keys) and the drummer who’s slamming his sticks harder than a teen who just discovered what porn is. And it’s not just the solos, you can’t even really hear the vocals. Like in an album that’s supposedly philosophical in nature, you’d think they would make it as easy as possible to hear the lyrics, because as pretty as notes are, they can’t really key in on philosophical opinions in anything other than a general manner (at least not in a way that the listener can reliably catch on to). So what you get instead is 2 of the 3 disks (which I may add, contain 66 minutes of music) is essentially atmospheric, black metalish noise, in some cases this noise being favored over elements to their music that are actually somewhat interesting.

But I can’t really give them too much credit. While I appreciate the ambitious disk 3 that contains a mix of tribal ambient and black metal, and the attempt to mix so many damn genres together, it just doesn’t fucking work. The higher you aim, the higher the bar you set, and this album doesn’t even come close to clearing it. The actual experimental elements (which apparently include generic prog metal as experimental, as if that’s never been combined with black metal before) seem very tame and unadventurous. Do not be fooled by the genre tags, most of them come from the mish-mash of genre influences that orthodox black metal can be. In reality the first two disks are very much lacking in not only variety, but after the initial “oh hey this is cool” wears off, imagination. I get having motiffs, but the droning, dissonant, tremelo riff is seemingly the only thing played by the guitars in this album, especially on the first disk. The only difference is the key that it’s played in. And again, any variety that IS there is just washed away by the production job that fucks subtlety in its virgin asshole, to the point where rape charges should really be filed. Subtlety is not bad, I hate that so many “experimental” black metal bands ignore that to try to one up everyone in the edgy art student dick measuring contest.

I will say, I have not spoken in length about the third disk because it is actually quite tolerable. I wouldn’t call it “good” however. More like a somewhat interesting concept executed to an acceptable level. At the very least it’s the one part that didn’t give me tinnitus. I really do like the concept of tribal ambient combined with black metal guitar tones, I just feel like for an album who’s whole shtick is being spectacular, they really took it easy on the one part of the album where they could’ve been very unique. It’s overall easy to listen to, but quite boring. I mean fuck, the whole album is boring, that’s the entire issue. But this was boring in a way I could accept, rather than a way that makes me think your entire career is made to compensate for your 4 inch penis.

Triangle is a failed experiment that doesn’t even try to experiment that much. As hyped as this album is, I see it as nothing more than pretentious, vapid genre porn, made for people who don’t like metal to feel both cultured and sufficiently edgy.




Sunless – Sunless (Demo)

I feel like these guys have lots of potential. In the 9 minutes I was able to spend with these lads I saw a band that had a good concept that just needs a bit of direction. They have great tone, good vocals, and good riff structure, but the two tracks didn’t really have a direction. I felt like they were just an aimless clump of riffs, lost in the sea of dissonance. Then again, that’s kinda what a demo is supposed to be, a general glimpse of their sound rather than a full album (that’s why it’s called a demo, not the full game with day one DLC). These guys are like a new born baby. They just need to eat lots of smushed bananas and they’ll be a great band.


Kurushimi – Kurushimi

You know that one scene in spongebob where Squidward goes to the hyper future where the universe is all white and there’s just lots of weird shit going on? Like it doesn’t really seem like hell, more like this abstract dimension he’s trapped in that’s seemingly mocking him for his behavior. Imagine being squidward here. You brag about your clarinet skills but everyone knows you’re ass at it, you’re an asshole to the more genuine person you know, and you have your head so far up your own butt you can smell your small intestine. And now through your own fuck ups, you’re stuck in a world that is the very extreme of all you stand for. One that seems like an ironic punishment straight out of dante’s inferno. Now imagine that, but there’s also a giant fucking demon chasing after you the entire time. That’s this album.


Chthe’ilist – Le dernier crépuscule ALBUM REVIEW

I’ve always heard these death metal albums that people describe as “cosmic” or “otherwordly” or of evoking some sort of science fiction motiff, and I’ve never really got it on any of those albums I tried. Le dernier crepuscule is the first album in which I actually GOT it. One which actually felt otherworldly and strange, as if from another planet. One which houses creatures from distant universes, intent of destroying all of mankind. And it all starts with those riffs.

God damn those fucking riffs. Sure, you could state the obvious and call them atonal, but that tells a mere fraction of the story. Atonal riffs is a staple of death metal. What makes these so special is how mechanical and alien like they are. They’re played jagged and almost robotic like, which just enough mathiness to it to feel jarring. But there’s this strange element of them that feel somewhat organic. Perhaps it’s the production, but I don’t get the feeling that I’m listening to robo riffs like in djent, but more riffs done by highly intelligent life from a distant galaxy/dimension. That this is music that is beyond our understanding, but not so much so that it feels divine. As if with enough evolution, we can come to understand this music. It’s alien, but not unfathomable.

Speaking of alien, how about those vocals huh? Yeah yeah, I know everyone is gonna comment about how they’re Nespithe 2.0, but I don’t quite see it that way. Nespithe’s vocals felt more like a demon from hell unleashing hymns of damnation and hatred onto the listening. These feel more creature like, again as if not from this world. Though I guess that depends on if you count hell as “part of this world”. But I really don’t think they’re what makes this album so special, despite the fact that they are unquestionably going to get the most attention.

What makes this album so special is its atmosphere. From samples of void creature noises, to the chaotic storm of noise that ends to album, to the fucking amazingly appropriate and strange seinfield bass on Voices From Beneath the Well (how they pulled that off I really don’t know), to slow, downtune of the guitars to end that same track, to the sporadic choir segments that travel from track to track, there are so many unique individuals moments and aspects of this album that bring together an atmosphere that’s both alien and palpable that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I haven’t even gotten to the solos, oh my god the solos. Technically proficient while also being dissonant, yet strangely pleasing to listen to, you could not have asked for a more perfect way to flesh out the main riffs of the track than what Chthe’ilist does.

A truly horrifyingly good album, Le dernier is a testament to how appropriate use of dissonance can create an entirely new kind of sound, unseen since Nespithe and Obscura. And it’s arguably better than both of those too.
EDIT: HOLY SHIT THEY PUT THIS REVIEW ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE. Major props to this band! And wow, I had no idea those monster “samples” were actual human vocals. That just makes this so much more awesome.