2013-03-15

Review: Rotting Christ - Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού


Band: Rotting Christ
Album: "Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy"
Style: Extreme metal
Release date: 2013-03-01
Origin: Greece

Tracklist:
1. In Yumen - Xibalba
2. P'unchaw kachun - Tuta kachun
3. Grandis Spiritus Diavolos
4. Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού
5. Cine iubeste si lasa
6. Iwa Voodoo
7. Gilgameš
8.  Русалка
9. Ahura Mazdā-Aŋra Mainiuu
10. Χ ξ ς'

Greece. How many metalbands can you namedrop from that country? Yeah, same here. I've always been aware of Rotting Christ, (honestly, how can you not be when a band has such a stupid name? It's sure to be remembered by everyone) but apart from a quick listen or two from their previous offering "Aealo" (2010) I've never actually bothered to sit down and thoroughly digest an album of theirs. Well, this is what I did with this latest album with the annoying title.

Awkward album- and songtitles aside, I think I expected a band sounding sort of like Portugal's pride (that's Moonspell for all you morons out there) but with a more experimental edge to it. And although this album doesn't sound anything remotely like Moonspell, I wasn't completely wrong either.
I can't think of any other band that actually sounds like Rotting Christ, which is both good and bad. On "Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy" we get some gothic rock-like structures, weird eclecticism and prog-like parts, dramatic opera-wannabe stuff and a foundation of death/black/thrash-metal, all combined. On paper, this combination of parts from Therion, Moonspell, Arcturus, Sigh and Cradle of Filth (parts - not a mix of said bands) sounds really good. In reality, I feel that this is an album that is missing a certain special ingredient. Yes, it is that classic ingredient which ultimately decides whether or not I like an album or not - the songwriting.
For while these Greek lads are undoubtedly gifted musicians and people who know how to cook songs together, I strongly feel that they lack the ability to build a really interesting song which you can remember 5 hours after last listening to the album. Don't get me wrong, each song in itself has parts all over the place which makes me raise an eyebrow or two or nod along to the music. But while no song really bores you to tears, there's no song that sticks out either. This is ultimately the albums blessing and curse.

All in all, this album is mediocre. Period. It's not one of those albums where you like 2-3 songs and the rest are shit. "Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy" is an album where you most certainly can appreciate every song, but never truly fall in love with them. It actually saddens me to sort of "bash" Rotting Christ like this, because despite their silly name, I really wanted to enjoy this. And I also do to a certain extent, but I doubt I will take this album out for a spin much more in the future.

RATING:
5.5/10


2013-03-05

Review: Thyrfing - De Ödeslösa


Band: Thyrfing
Album: "De Ödeslösa"
Style: Viking/black metal
Release date: 2013-03-01
Origin: Sweden

Tracklist:
1. Mot Helgrind
2. Fordom
3. Veners Förfall
4. Illvilja
5. Kamp
6. Relik
7. Vindöga
8. De Ödeslösa


First off, I can't say that I have been really anticipating the new album from Thyrfing. In my opinion, "Hels Vite" was quite slow, dull and for the most time downright boring. "Farsotstider" was much better, though nowhere near the sheer brilliance of "Vansinnesvisor", which I doubt the band will ever top. Without expectations, I could really only be positively surprised or my prejudices would be confirmed. Here's what happened...

As soon as the first track "Mot Helgrind" starts, you can definitely hear what band is playing. Thyrfing have actually managed to carve their own little niche in the ever-growing ocean of viking/folk metal and I have to give them credit for that. Sure, the influence from Bathory is of course quite obvious, but combined with all their other elements, it sounds like a good mix. At least on paper.

For you see the main problem I have with Thyrfing post-2005 is the fact that Jens Rydén (ex-Naglfar) is handling the vocals instead of Tomas Väänänen. I think I've mentioned this sometime before, but I really felt that Rydén's vocals were spot on for Naglfar (which have gradually become more and more boring for each album since he left) but they don't fit that well in Thyrfing in my opinion. Väänänen had this really emotional and quite unique rasp to his voice, whilst Rydén has a more standard black metal-scream. And even though it's not bad in any way - the band has actually lost a bit of what made them so unique in the first place.
Granted, on "De Ödeslösa" Rydén actually comes closer to sounding more like his predecessor and that alone makes this album way more interesting than "Hels Vite".
Thyrfing 2013
It should also be noted that I feel like the band's eternal guest-vocalist Toni Kocmut has a larger role here as well and that's only positive. Is he the guy who's singing on the outstanding intro to "Kamp"? If so, they should really use his vocal-skills even more. Not that he's the most talented guy I've ever heard singing, but he somehow touches a certain emotion which fits so damn well in Thyrfing's concept.

Musically, it also feels like the band has a better focus that on the previous album; the songs have better structures overall and not everything sounds as slow and dragging as it did on "Hels Vite". Such an example is the amazing "Veners Förfall" which actually sounds like something straight off "Vannsinesvisor". I know I'm doing a lot of comparing to the past, but as usual, this is not a review in a zine or something like that. This is my personal blog, which you (for some reason) have chosen to read.
Other good songs are "Kamp""Relik" and some parts of the title track. All three having in common that they have a quicker pace than the rest of the album. Parts of "Vindöga" also rocks my socks with it's headbanging-friendly groove. But then there's these incredibly dull songs such as "Fordom" and "Illvilja"; the choirs, the keyboards and the mid-tempo stuff is all things we've heard from this band before and there are very few surprises to be found on these songs. Sometimes it feels like nothing's happening at all.

All in all, this feels like a very uneven album with the latter part being way more interesting than the first. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just so tired of their slow songs and we've somewhat grown apart during the years, I don't know. Fact remains, if you've only slightly enjoyed Thyrfing in the past, you should give this album a listen or two. I know I most definitely enjoyed parts of it. This was an album that I felt was insanely difficult to give a rating, but in the end I chose what I felt was most fair. "De Ödeslösa" might in fact be a grower, when given a couple of months to sink in. I feel like I might come back to this album in this blog later in the year.

RATING:
6.5/10

2013-03-02

Review: Koldbrann - Vertigo


Band: Koldbrann
Album: "Vertigo"
Style: Black metal
Release date: 2013-01-25
Origin: Norway

Tracklist:
1. IntroVertigo
2. Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott
3. Hjertets Holodomor
4. Drammen
5. Stolichnaya Smert
6. Terminal Transnistrii
7. Phantom Kosmonaut
8. Goat Lodge
9. I Eklipsens Skimmer
10. Sans Soleil
11. Inertia Corridors

Well, this is a new acquaintance for me, although after hearing a few notes from Koldbrann, I must say that I am well-versed in their music style. For you see this is Norwegian black metal. Period. Though not in the "early-90's style" - but one look at the album cover alone should tell you that. Nah, rather think of latter Satyricon-albums, spice it with a bit of Taake and add some rock n' roll and we are very close to the sound of "Vertigo".

They sport quite a modern sound, although they've stayed cleared from sounding too polished, cold and clinical. In other words, the production really suites the music well and it sounds professional and everything.
I must say that I am impressed by the overall musicianship and song-crafting, having not heard very much about the band prior to this. They move very masterfully within all musical territories, having no problem in crafting a groovy, slow-moving piece of doomish black metal, only to cast themselves into a blitzkrieg frenzy at the next moment. And although I will prefer the latter (such as on "Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott") rather than the first (such as on "Phantom Kosmonaut"), it makes the album more varied and I have to give the band an extra point for that as well.

One thing that I cannot leave out though; three tracks are instrumentals that doesn't add anything to the album whatsoever. I really question the decision to include these three little fuckers, all of them being around 50 seconds long each. The next time I listen to this album, I will exclude these, thus making the album 8 songs long and effectively erasing about 3 minutes of pointless "music".

Vocally, this isn't anything we haven't heard before, although it's thankfully far from the generic rasps of Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir - whom I always compare with any new black metal-vocalist that I hear. Sometimes the guy, Mannevond that is, goes into a higher, agonized pitch which is really cool. And is that a guy trying to sound like a woman in the "chorus" of "Stolichnaya Smert"? If that really is Mannevond, I'm even more impressed. It sort of reminds me of what Fenriz did on "Goatlord". I'd say that the guy is definitely above the average black metal vocalist, though of course not being anywhere near the masters (that being Shamataee and Mortuus).

After my first listening-session; I wasn't very impressed to give this more than an average score, seeing as it wasn't bad in any way, but it just didn't grasp me completely as I would like it to do. But this is one of those records that you - A; definitely have to give a few spins until you "get" it and B; (this is probably more for me personally) have to be in the right mood to appreciate.
And although I kinda prefer the sound of latter Satyricon compared to this, there is still no denying that this is a damn good record - though I'm not blown away the way I wanted to be. Standout tracks for me personally is "Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott" (Kom igen då för helvete!), "Drammen" and "Stolichnaya Smert".

RATING:
7.5/10