December 15, 2019

Ravaged Spleen Outburst - The Church of Anemia

By Master of Muppets. Say what thou will about names and roses, but sometimes a name tells you everything you need to know. With that in mind, let's direct our attention to Ravaged Spleen Outburst. I might not know exactly what you hear when you read that name
By Master of Muppets.

Say what thou will about names and roses, but sometimes a name tells you everything you need to know. With that in mind, let's direct our attention to Ravaged Spleen Outburst. I might not know exactly what you hear when you read that name, but I do know that it's likely loud, vile and violent - and you're 100% right. The Church of Anemia is the full-length debut by the aforementioned gore monger, and it's every bit as fierce and filthy as you've likely gleaned from their name.

While a previous EP (Lymph Node), introduced the Serbian one-man project as a relatively straightforward - albeit wondrously wretched - slam act, The Church of Anemia offers human sacrifices to multiple metal altars. Slam still serves as the album's spine and spirit, yet a strong sense of melody coupled with an eagerness to explore has allowed the aural infection of Ravaged Spleen Outburst to further spread into blackened melodeath territory. When this thing isn't beating your face in, it forces you to bang your battered head to riffs from the filthiest corners of Gothenburg, occasionally dragging you to Hell for black metal refreshments.

While the versatility of this violent vessel is impressive, the most standout - and violent - feature of any Ravaged Spleen Outbursting is the vocal performance by mastermind A. Ð.. The Church finds A. Ð. introducing psychotic black metal shrieks into the mix, but it was his downright inhuman growls that made Lymph Node really stand out to me, and the gurgling bellows that resonate within The Church are something sickeningly special once again. I defy anyone to find anything else as perfectly putrid as Ravaged Spleen Outburst's growls: shy of a boldface lie, it simply can't be done.

While exploration and uniqueness are all well and good, the most crucial part of any listening experience is enjoyability. Fortunately, this Church is fun as fuck. "Breeding the bleeding" blends brutal slam with a barbaric take on melodeath, and "Cult of the Vein" is a straight up insane slab of symphonic obsidian savagery; A. Ð.'s zeal is audible and infectious, this thing tears the listener so many new ones in so many ways and it's hard to imagine anyone with an appreciation for the grimiest side of slam not having an absolute blast in The Church of Anemia.

The squalid sounds of Ravaged Spleen Outburst are not for everyone; The Church of Anemia is not for those who fear riffs, slams and solos, and it is certainly not for those afraid of filth. It is disgusting, raucous and merciless, and if you believe in such heresy as 'too brutal' or any similar nonsense then this is absolutely not The Church for you. Those brave of heart, ironclad of stomach and relentless in their search for riffs, though: rejoice, and get your ass down to Church, there's a rotting miracle waiting just for you.

December 13, 2019

Prava Kollektiv Roundup

By Steven Leslie.

Prava Kollektiv is a “collective” of shadowy bands pumping out a variety of different takes on black metal. As novel as it sounds, the real question is whether it’s worth your time. The Kollektiv’s association with Amor Fati Productions, the late great Fallen Empire, and newly emerging Mystískaos should give you a clue. Read this roundup and you will know for sure.

Released on Bandcamp as two separate EPs, Soulmare I & II are thematically connected and should be consumed as a single piece. Clocking in at 21+ minutes each, these are compositions that demand a lot of the listener and will certainly not appeal to everyone. On their face, most of the elements, especially the pained screeches and unnerving synths, will be familiar to fans of the more depressive and atmospheric sides of the black metal genre. While the tools and even the compositions themselves may be familiar, it’s Mahr’s ability to imbue raw emotion into their music that makes them worthy of your time. The music’s creator sounds as if they’re unravelling and succumbing to the darkness. Soulmare I begins as a much more atmospheric, borderline ambient experience that slowly becomes increasingly unhinged. Soulmare II injects more conventional metallic elements, destructive guitar riffs and blasting drums, into the soundscape established on the first track. Paired with Mahr’s unnamed vocalist’s harrowed shrieks and growls, Soulmare II is the crescendo and submission of the soul to total spiritual collapse. There is genuine pain and suffering deeply entwined within these two EPs, making for one of the most potent and unnerving listening experiences I personally have had this year.

If Mahr is the slow, painful descent, Hwwauoch is a wide-eyed celebration of maddening nihilism. Taking the traditional tenants of depressive black metal and injecting them with a syringe full of meth, Hwwauoch flip the genre on its head and create a euphoric, but no less harrowing listening experience. What really makes them stand out from their contemporaries are the excellent basslines, which are the primary melodic component on which the songs are built. Instead of traditional riffing, the guitar lines are utilized more in conjunction with the synths to fill in the space left by the rhythm section, adding significantly to the aural impact and atmospheric depth of the onslaught. Constantly shifting and often feeling on the verge of full scale collapse, Into the Labyrinth of Consciousness is a harrowing, but strangely empowering listen.

On To Exist | To Breathe Voidsphere offer up two 20+ minute tracks of, you guessed it, void-worshipping atmospheric black metal. Don’t be put off by the track lengths or the atmospheric BM tag, as this is a vastly superior and more engaging effort than the genre usually puts forth. While Mahr relied heavily on emotional resonance to engage the listener, and Hwwauoch reveled in aural onslaught, Voidsphere relies on compositional dynamics to keep the listener on the edge of their seat throughout the album’s 42-minute run time. Coming off as an enigmatic, slightly warmer combination of Paysage D’Hiver’s blackened assault and Midnight Odyssey’s majestic heft, Voidsphere inject some much needed life into what has become an increasingly stale genre. What really helps this standout is the band’s ability to maintain the listeners’ attention with their continually shifting focal points. While always maintaining a lo-fi aesthetic, Voidsphere find a way to dramatically propel the emphasis between the different components of their compositions. The riffs, drums, synths, and even vocals all get their moments to shine as each element ebbs and flows in a seemingly random, but actually masterfully constructed dance. This unique songwriting approach ensures that both tracks never outstay their welcome and offer an element of depth and memorability that not many others in this genre can match. All hail the void.

Pharmakeia, the newest group to emerge from the Prava Kollektiv, is in many ways the most straightforward, traditional black/death band. By that I mean they build their songs around what has become a fairly standard framework of distorted tremolo riffs, blasting drums, and blast furnace vocals. What they lack in creative song structures, they more than make up for in raw intensity. This is some seriously vitriolic shit. After a very short, atmospheric intro, Pharmakeia drops the listener into a dense, suffocating wall of sound that rarely relents, and even when it does, it’s only to make the impact of its return that much more potent. It has the oppressive atmosphere of a more straight up black/death version of a band like Abstracter. While the lo-fi, distorted production does somewhat dull the impact of individual riffs, it allows the excellent drumming to stand out. While opener “Invocation” kicks off with some stock blasting, it only takes about two minutes for the drummer to showcase his or her skill and inject some creativity and groove, which is used to great effect throughout the entirety of Pharmakeia. Special mention should also be given to the searing vocal attack, which pairs the ferocity with a less layered, sharper blackened rasp. Overall, Pharmakeia is a solid and welcome addition to the more atmospheric approaches of the other Prava Kollektiv bands and definitely worth keeping an eye on.

December 12, 2019

Mist of Misery - Absence

By Hera Vidal.

Artwork by Alex Tartsus.

Black metal has no shortage of influences, whether it is Lovecraftian works or someone’s own personal struggles. However, there aren’t many bands that perfectly meld together the romantic atmosphere of Gothic fiction and black metal. I enjoy moments where those things actually work together, creating beautiful music with an atmosphere that lets the imagination run wild. After all, if this is good enough for Dracula, then it’s good enough for me.

Absence is Mist of Misery’s second album, and they have moved towards creating a more emotive kind of black metal. There are ranges of symphonic metal that shine throughout the album, mainly through the heavy usage of keyboards. It almost makes me want to have a full orchestra support the band if they ever decide to tour live. This highly symphonic aspect is what allows the album to transcend the listener elsewhere, allowing them to see things in their mind’s eye. This album is a mood setter, and with half of it being instrumental, it’s easy to get lost in the beautiful music and the emotive atmosphere it creates.

Absence isn't as bombastic as most symphonic black metal albums, instead it's intricate and peaceful. I do wish there were more symphonic aspects to it but it’s still fantastic. The atmosphere is what gets me; it reminds me of cold, dark, rainy nights, with candlelight lighting a room, and with a peaceful quiet that is broken by thunder.

All in all, Absence is a fantastic album that is incredibly straightforward and very beautiful. If you prefer the quieter aspect of symphonic metal, this album might be right up your alley. I am surprised that I didn’t hear this album sooner, but I know I am bound to come back to it again.