Tuesday, 23 January 2018

LVA - Embers of a Black Plague

LVA - Embers of a Black Plague (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2017)
LVA is another band from Schattenkult Produktionen, which I was introduced to in the last couple of months, when I received a stack of new releases from this label. I saved this band for the last, with no reason really, but to be honest, now after playing all these killer albums from bands like Throne of Evil, Shadows Ground or Imperium Infernalis I have no doubt that LVA is the weakest Schattenkult Produktionen release of the past couple of months. Not that it's terrible or worthless – it's not not! But it's barely mediocre, I think. And it's as easily forgettable as you can imagine. Once I complete this review, I am sure that I will take this CD out of the stereo and put it on the shelf for many, many months, with no desire to come back to it quickly. There's too much killer music around to bother about LVA. 
LVA is Italian two men project, which is a part of something called Venetic Black Metal Front... Yeah, another circle, another front... It gets funny to see people still doing these things, like it was 1993. But who cares... Generally, it can tell you a lot that LVA is heavily influenced by the old black metal scene. Usually that is not a bad thing, but only if it comes along with creativity and ability to compose and record some killer black metal stuff! Like the mentioned Shadows Ground does, for example! Sadly, I won't say the same about LVA, whose "Embers of a Black Plague" bores me to death. It's pure black metal, harsh and cold sounding; pretty simplistic, although there is a good measure of melody and mixture of fast and slower, more melancholic sounding black metal. So, there is a diversity and probably some solid riffs also. But I just can't find anything on "Embers of a Black Plague" what would really impress me. After a while all these songs sound the same, especially that this album contains four looonnggg tracks and to be honest, LVA didn't have enough good ideas for such lengthy compositions. There are few interesting fragments, like these clean vocals in "Gates of My Inner Black Mirror" or maybe two or three great riffs. But that's it, I'm afraid. It's just not enough for 35 minutes. Most of this material gets monotonous, I even get tired with these insanely screaming vocals of Oriax Nocturna, so you can't blame that after few spins of this CD all I wanted was to throw it out of the CD player. And forget I ever listened to it. 
No standout track 
Verdict: 55/10

Ceremonium- Dreams We Have Written

CEREMONIUM - Dreams We Have Written (WEIRD TRUTH - CD 2012)
I have to admit that I haven't heard of Ceremonium, before I got this CD. Their name may have popped up few times before, but I never cared nor checked their music. I am glad then that with "Dreams We Have Written" I got a full discography of this American band and can enjoy some of the best death / doom metal tracks from the mid to late 90's, which I can think of. Spread over two discs, this compilation presents everything this band has recorded and I can guarantee that this is superb effort. 
I always start exploring Ceremonium music in chronological order, so I start with disc two, where you could find their demos and some rare tracks. Of all this stuff definitely both songs from "Nightfall in Heaven" EP (1993) are the best. They're truly crushing and fantastic sounding death / doom pieces and the best stuff this band has ever recorded. What I love about it is how powerful it sounds, riffs are truly massive, heavy and the additional melodic accents, even with few keyboard parts do enhance the dark, sorrowful doom death metal aura perfectly. Plus Oscar Matter performed some great vocals here. Yeah, very, very good start for Ceremonium. I would love to see the original vinyl copy of it in my collection! Then there's "Demo '93" (1993) and it is pretty solid effort as well, although it's a bit harsher and has maybe more primitive feel. It lacks a bit of that powerful, crushing sound, but on the other hand I like its rawness and obscurity. "Under the Eternal Horizon" is a rare compilation song and it's just equally good as the EP material I mentioned earlier. And finally this disc is completed with rare "Promo 2001". Well, it's good that this promo is here, this way the Ceremonium compilation is full and doesn't leave any songs behind... but to be honest, this recording is rather mediocre and doesn't impress me as much as stuff this band recorded earlier. Especially the last song, which is an instrumental piece "Icons" is pretty boring (and it goes for eight minutes!). 
Disc one is a real feast for me, with two classic albums of Ceremonium: "Into the Autumn Shade" (1995) and "No Longer Silent" (2000). Both full lengths are really damn good. Their heavy, doomy, powerful sound will crush you into the ground and the sorrowful, dark, vicious atmosphere is exactly as it should be. Both albums complete each other very well, with the harsh parts, massive slow songs, but also some faster tunes. The melodic fragments are also great, especially on the second album. And Darkthrone's cover is something like the icing on the cake, very fuckin well done cover. I cannot really find anything what I would not like on both of these albums. Maybe they're not perfect, but very damn good for sure. Anyway, think of Paradise Lost, Decomposed... generally, the British doom death metal scene from the old days for comparison. OK, some Dutch monsters also could be mentioned! So, Ceremonium music was quite different to the usual US death metal. But I like it a lot. The whole performance is very good, I like all these powerful chords, great harmonies, beastly, deep growls... And that monstrous sound. Maybe some songs star to sound a bit similar to each other, but it's rather small objection. All in all, we have here a fantastic band, with great double disc presentation of their entire catalogue. And some liner notes, which will help you to learn details about band's history. A worthy release, absolutely. 
Standout tracks: "Nightfall in Heaven" EP, "Under the Eternal Horizon" 
Verdict: 80/100 

Sororicide - The Entity

SORORICIDE - The Entity (Bootleg CD)
Anyone wonders what is one of the most expensive death metal albums like? For some reason Sororicide's "The Entity" has become one of most expensive CDs / LPs and the prices it reached on Ebay or Discogs went far beyond the common sense. Some people went crazy and decided to pay big money for it. But personally, I cannot understand why. For me personally, the music on this album is nothing special and definitely it's not worth a thousand fuckin bucks! Just the fact that it's rare doesn't mean it's worth that much moneyI don't care what people do with their dollars, if someone wanted to show off and spend his month wages on this album, then it's his stupidity, not mine. So, personally I'm just happy with the fuckin bootleg, which not only contains "The Entity" album, but also some other recordings of SororicideI got a decent quality boot and can keep 1000 dollars in my pocket. 
But seriously, speaking of the demanded value of the original press against its music quality, I think this is incredibly overrated album. For me it hardly deserves the praise it often receives, what confirms only my theory that words like "classic" and "cult" have no meaning nowadays, because they're used to describe even such mediocre and even weak records as this. For some people it's enough if the album was released in the early 90's to call it "cult".  What a bullshit. I don't want to say that "The Entity" is a pile of useless garbage, because it's not. But it's not an album, which will give you big erection and powerful kick in the head. Sororicide sounds weak here and more like a miserable school metal band, which hardly learned to play the instruments. But they try to play their death metal and you can even hear that they have some good ideas, some nice riffs... but it doesn't save the overall quality of the album. 
When listening to "The Entity" I can't help, but notice rather sloppy playing from these young dudes and primitiveness of this album. Their guitar solos beg for being erased immediately. And too often it all just sounds messy and poor, especially that some riffs were meant to sound more twisted and the music is filled with tempo variations or very diverse parts. Definitely the best part of "The Entity" is when the music is slower and surprisingly I can admit that Sororicide did come up with some pretty damn good melodic riffs. Songs like "Frightmares" and "Old" are the most interesting and I can say that I like them. You would not exaggerate, if compare them to the classic Swedish death metal scene and bands like Crypt of Kerberos ad such. "Frightmares" is surely also very influenced by early Paradise Lost, I do like how they create darker and more sorrowful atmosphere there. "Redrum" is another very good song. But when played in faster tempos, the music becomes less and less interesting and it turns out that there's a whole bunch of mediocre or even weak songs that bore me to death. Sometimes it just becomes irritating, especially with the weak, monotonous vocals of Bogi Reynisson, who sound like a poorer version of Nick Holmes (oh, and these terrible lyrics... damn, what a crap they are!). The production of "The Entity" is also very thin and only underlines that whole primitive and uninspiring character of this record. So, as I mentioned, at best I can pick up few good songs, some great fragments... but as a whole, this album is hardly ever impressive. 
This bootleg offers also some bonus tracks, which is cool idea. There are songs from "Apocalypse" split CD (which Sororicide did with other Icelandic bands:  Strigaskór Nr. 42 and In Memoriam) from 1992 and the split CD with Chorus of Ruin (1993). Songs from "Apocalypse" sound like the best stuff, which Sororicide has recorded, I can admit that the production is better and heavier, but the music also improved. On the other hand I don't quite like these two tracks from the split with Chorus of Ruin. They're just boring. Sooooo, that's all I have to say about Sororicide. I am happy to discuss the "cult" status of "The Entity", but won't change my mind... This IS mediocre album, not worth the money. Don't waste thembut if you really need to have it in your collection, get yourself this bootleg, because it's pretty well done and the whole presentation and quality is very good.  
Standout tracks: "Frightmares", "Old", "Life Below" 
Verdict: 50/100 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Necrophiliac - Chaopula - Citadel of Mirrors

NECROPHILIAC - Chaopula - Citadel of Mirrors (THE CRYPT Productions LP 2015)
There never were that many Spanish death metal bands from early 90's, which I would really like. Yes, I can mention Avulsed, Rotten Flesh, Sacrophobia or Unbounded Terror - they were all pretty good, but far from being my favourites. Spanish scene was just very mediocre. But there's one band, which I think was better than all the other. NecrophiliacCertainly I can say that they are my favourite Spanish band from these old days and their "Chaopula - Citadel of Mirrors" album from 1992 is the best thing, which Spain has unleashed back then. Originally putted out by Drowned Productions, "Chaopula..." offered a very fine dose of sick death metal played the Scandinavian way, so maybe this is why I enjoyed - and still do - this album so muchBecause it's my most preferred sound! In 2014 a vinyl version of this legendary album came out from The Crypt Productions and I have to say that it was a mandatory purchase for me. And I got everything I imagined from this release. A nice gatefold cover with the layout that is very, very close to the original LP – I like when it's done this way!! There're some cool archive photographs, lyrics, bonus material on the second vinyl... This is how such reissues should always be like in my opinion. For that, I give this vinyl repress honest 10/10. 
Presentation aside, I have to say that after all these years, I still like "Chaopula - Citadel of Mirrors" a lot. This album may sound slightly archaic nowadays, especially with that messy, harsh production, but it doesn't affect the listening and I enjoy the music totally. As I mentioned, Necrophiliac sounded quite a lot like Scandinavian band, with many Swedish-esque riffs or melodic accents in the music, which are always so characteristic fpr Sweden. But Finnish and Danish death metal must have also influenced these guys strongly, if you think of these more gory, sick and darker fragments of "Chaopula...". Especially the vocals sound quite nasty, Bongo came up with many different growls, beastly vomits or shrieks, but the effect is awesome and gives the music a sicker, more brutal and repulsive character. These diverse vocals fit the riffs very wellespecialy when their styles and atmosphere changes from gory brutal stuff to more doomy and melodic. And with songs like "Gorefruit Treasure" or "Necrotic Narcosis", I can just assure you that we deal here with a cool classic death metal. The drumming is slightly sloppy, the production could have also been better, to be honest, because sometimes the music sounds just messy and even have a primitive feel. But I cannot say that it would have a negative impact on these songs or on how I perceive the music. As I already mentioned, I like this album, it doesn't get boring for me.  
With this awesome LP from The Crypt, I finally had a killer opportunity to listen to some Necrophiliac demos also. You can find here "Infernal Exorcism" demo 1988 and "Visceral Fruit" demo 1991 on side C and D. I never had a chance to listen to them before, so this is why I appreciate such bonus material on the second vinyl. As I write this despite the fact that not always these demos are really good. For instance "Infernal Exorcism" is nothing really special, stylistically it's very different to "Chaopula...", more thrash / death oriented, much much more primitive and obscure than the album. It's listenable and interesting from the historical point of view, but not as good for its strict musical aspect. "Visceral Fruit" is slightly better, but again we can hear that they were rather first attempts to achieve anything interesting, quality wise, not just production, but also the way these songs have been played, is just far from what we can find on the album. And mind that most of these songs have been used for the "Chaopula..." Also. So, I cannot say that I've been much impressed by this demo content of Necrophiliac, I'll rather treat it as a nice bonus, bot necessarily something really worth to listen to. Nevertheless, a fine vinyl reissue from The Crypt, definitely nice to have it in my collection!! 
Standout tracks: "Gorefruit Treasure", "Necrotic Narcosis", "Depressed in Crimson Climax", "Image Control In Biosphere of Unreal" 
Final rate: 75/100