Monday, October 20, 2008
Blackened Moon Productions
Culling their moniker from a mistaken Spanish pronunciation of the Hebrew “Name of 72”, Shemhamphorash summons up suitable sonic dialectical inversion on “Dementia”, betraying a strong black metal lineage in terms of influences. Certainly, those with a familiarity with the topic of Shem ha'Meforash will draw parallels to the name being an allusion to the Kabalist art of The Keys Of Solomon and the craft as well. Also, the term is a familiar one in satanic ritual, which is strictly a curiosity in light of its factual definition. Blasphemy? Regardless of the way you utter the band’s name, this three-piece makes their intentions known with appropriately evil lyrical conjuring throughout “Dementia.”
With the intention of producing a properly grim landscape, the group recalls both the bleak, adversarial atmosphere of Marduk and onward-marching thrust of Bathory on the opening cut, “Crossing My Hell,” while retaining an overall appeal that’s rather distinct. The addition of acoustic guitars into this track also give it a very progressive nature for black metal, but the stop-action riffing that follows is certainly rooted deeply in the most intense forms of classic, chaotic sounds. Elements of thrash are also apparent, with the threesome of bassist/vocalist Wilhkiem, guitarist Mikkal and drummer Nechrist opting to produce songs with enough variety and cohesion to be memorable. This attention to dynamics increases the appeal of the group’s songwriting on “The Call”, where Mikkal delivers a presence that is somewhat similar to that of Trey Azagthoth.
While it’s obvious that the group was intent on delivering a grim tone, it would have been nice to hear the bass drums up in the mix. A fuller overall sound would have done much to make this recording great. Tracks like “Bloody Falls” sound more like a demo than an actual album; again, listeners will uncover too little emphasis being placed on guitars and essentially no bass drum power to speak of. “Immortal Realm” contains another example of Azagthoth-influenced, highly-chaotic riffing and slashing, but is a bit cluttered, as the drums fall in and out of pattern with the riffing. Another negative aspect is the record’s length, with its seven tracks clocking in at just over a half hour, six minutes of which is taken up by an outro that increases the ambience of the entire affair, yet provides very little musically.
Critical attributes aside, Shemhamphorash provides enough great material on ‘Dementia” that the rough spots can be overlooked. Surely, this record remains one that fans of black metal will want to experience, with “The Call” and the opening cut especially delivering an appropriately iniquitous listen,. Essentially, this release is no longer than an EP. Even so, if you’re passionate about grim, roots-based black metal, this one’s worth the price you’ll pay.
Written By: Shemlarak
Sunday, October 19, 2008
ORDER OF THE EBON HAND
XV: The Devil
Season Of Mist Records
On this record, Order Of The Ebon Hand displays an affinity for delivering blasting black metal that is purely evil and apocalyptic.
This is the type of record that black metal purists can really delve into, a symphony of chaotic madness and voracious blasts of fury that shine with the light of pure, true blackness.
“To Alloces” summons unholy black winds of imperial majesty in its vehement pace, leaving those who disbelieve devastated in the ashes of a burning fire of unadulterated occult victory. Sound effects are prominent throughout the record, adding to its grim nature and creating an atmosphere of utter blackened hatred. The tremendous riffing speed in “Gateway To Silence” recalls early Immortal and Emperor’s bleakest speeding trills, but added dramatic influence sets Order Of The Ebon Hand apart in their quest to conjure the most diabolical sounds imaginable. The addition of horns and ghostly whispering during this track’s interludes further serves to create a blasphemous environment.
“The Visitors” sounds the march to war with a cacophony of violent speed as vocalist Merkaal issues tormented howls of desolation. In terms of issuing rhythms that are the epitome of abhorrence, Phlaigon, as a guitarist is successful with deadly precision. This track amplifies the artist’s tortured thoughts and beckons you toward the dark edge of the abyss as Letheissues an annihilating percussive assault.
This group fully succeeds in their mission to create strains of blackness of the highest degree throughout the record, mixing varied influences to result in strains of musical misery. “Spellbound” ventures into a dark soundscape of cosmic invocations, adding experimental elements to the group’s sound, yet never wavering from their dark mission.
The ability of Order Of The Ebon Hand to create black metal with unconventional influences, yet remain purely dark and evil belies their ability as composers, while giving the listener a deviation from the standard fare of imitators.
Undoubtedly, this is the most original sounding and utterly bleak black metal releases in recent memory, a virtual occult feast of horror and burning hell.
Written By: Shemlarak
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The Seal Of Belial
The style of Lord Belial has evolved, in both songwriting and sound, since records like the much more abrasive “Unholy Crusade” and the overtly violent “Angelgrinder.” Now, the band has turned toward a doomy vibe that remains evil yet has shed the extreme, death metal trappings this group is known for in favor of more foreboding sounds.
There’s a lot more of a Bathory influence on the melodic “The Seal Of Belial.” It seems a change for the better for Lord Belial. Musically, things are more fluid and nothing sounds rushed. When the band takes inspiration from the elder phase of the Bathory sound, as so many bands do, they also inject the more harmonious, latter-day Bathory sound into the vibe. But on “Mark Of The Beast,” an additional cryptic vocal element is fostered, lrevealing a vibe that's original.
“The Seal Of Belial” is a definite progression and even more so, an evolution for the band. This music is heavy, gritty and inspired by venomous visions, yet it walks along a different left hand path without imitation. Excellent production by Andy LaRoque captures the gruff beauty of this band’s scathing tone.
A particularly hellish sounding eruption, "Abysmal Hate" causes massive sonic damage with a technique that fans of Dimmu Borgir will be sympathetic to. An entirely different aura rests in "Chariot Of Fire", a slithering, mid-tempo groover. Throughout the stylistic variations, Lord Belial keeps things appropriately frostbitten and diabolical, staying true to the core of the black metal movement, but accentuating the presence with texture and an ominous yet memorable stance in ubiquity.
Lord Belial may be changing, but its underlying purpose has not. It’s quite safe to say that followers of this group will meet this offering with immense satisfaction.
Written By: Great Old One
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Human Experiment
Black Owl Records
Hyper-speed black metal in the vein of Immortal and I.C.E.!
The production here could stand some tweaking as the snare is at times buried in the bass drums due to the incessant, non stop blasting beats in the electronic drums. This material is pure chaos, seeming to spin almost out of control at points as Mithrin ignites the fires of hell with a trebled out guitar onslaught on ‘In The Greater Picture’.
You need to be a follower of this sort of thing in order to get seriously into it, but those who do enjoy blasting; thrashing speed with snarling black metal vox will certainly find this of interest.
Written By: Great Old One
Endless Dismal Moan
An assault of white noise, reducing black metal to a buzzing howl of instruments, Endless Dismal Moan is anti-music to the nth degree, the hellish inspirations of main man Chaos 9 resonating as savagely dark and characteristically unyielding.
A cold knife thrust deeply into the heart of conventional, commercial consumables, E.D.M. relays sounds that are relative to the aura of electricity, crackling and snapping through torrid blasts so fast it’s almost incomprehensible to the human ear. It is without question that tonality of this type is libertine in its aggressiveness, with Chaos 9 summoning sounds which are otherworldly and morbidly animalistic in nature. “Obsession”, “Calamitous Box, and “Gloom” all stand out, but it is difficult at times to not become plainly lost in the enveloping fury put forth here.
This particular disc contains a total of six bonus tracks designed to give the listener a bit more sound than one would generally bargain for. Although it may take several listens to distinguish between the atonal, brutish dark howls of hatred you will discover here, in time the shrill, treble-based production grows more listenable, assimilating the ears towards harsh dissonance can always be a daunting, if worthy task.
However, if you enjoy the dark side enough to be able to embrace the tone of these tracks, you will find some of the most wickedly evil black metal one might imagine. Sharp, cold and slicing, E.D.M. is nothing less than the edge of the blade and the epitome of diabolical manifestation yet to emanate from the shores of Japan.
Written By: Shemlarak