SLOW & EXPERIMENTAL THIS LABEL THROWS MORE CURVEBALLS THAN A PITCHER
I have always been the type to turn a cold shoulder to electronic music. Partly because of a lack of time and apparently, partly because I have never been exposed to the right artists. When I came to find out about UK label Aesthetic Death I was under the impression that it was mainly a metal label, but boy, was I in for a pleasant awakening. Through the batch of releases reviewed in this feature piece I have come to know some of the most interesting sounds I have ever experienced. Maybe there is a theme to this though, as some of the most best projects shown below are the creation of members of famed UK doom institution Esoteric. Read on and spread the word…
To put it simple, Eibon are brilliant and Entering Darkness is one of the best doom records I have heard in the last couple of years. It was released in 2010 and that alone, makes me think about all the gems that may be going unnoticed in the underground right now. Metal is big but because of its sheer size we tend to overlook bands like Eibon, bands that truly craft quality metal, metal of doom, not the kind that Messiah Marcolin crafted. In fact, had Messiah Marcolin ever envisioned that his genre of choice would ever develop into something as powerful as what Eibon do, he would have gone on a diet of peanuts and tofu and would have downtuned his band right away. Eibon hail from France, a country lately known for its off-kilter black metal bands, and Eibon certainly have a BM influence that is mainly noticeable in the necrotic approach of vocalist Georges Balafas. At least in the track called “Substance” he invokes his name time and time again. The rest of the tracks are morose and somberly melodic slow pieces. Entering Darkness has been carefully arranged and this is obvious in the way the songs develop and roll. Closer “Path to Oblivion” is stunning, heavy and pretty without ever approaching any level of pussability. This is Ebon’s first full-length, but even if they were in their tenth release, this would be a piece to be proud of. Facebook
Black Depths Grey Waves make extremely creepy experimental music. Think of static sounds with layers of surreal noise coming in and out of focus, waves of subliminal messages that will have you checking on your back and spectral voices that clearly speak of something we may not want to fully understand. It is all beat-less and arrhythmic, defying the classification of ‘music’ and fully embracing experimentation as an art form. It is also extremely challenging stuff, as the three cuts included never for once come close to anything that could deeply affect anyone who is not already into these types of sounds. Black Depths Grey Waves is a duo formed by vocalist Saint Ov Gravediggers (from metal band Ordo Tyrannis) and by multi-instrumentalist Clint Listing (from metal band Long Winters Stare) and in Nightmare of the Blackened Heart, their second full-length, they prove that music or melody may not be exactly their thing.
It definitely takes some extra skills to craft quality funeral doom. In essence, if crafted by common men, it is the most boring and dullest of metal subgenres. Why? Because they tend to over simplify and dumb down the genre. The idea that you need only go slow is idiotic and does not even grasp the real concepts of funeral doom. Multinational trio The Nulll Collective (not sure why they went for an extra L) prove that they may be above the oversimplification part, but De Monstris, their first full-length, is by no means a thrilling ride and it sure sounds dumb. It is in fact, boring as all fuck. It contains a well-measured quotient of ambient music, adorning the most boring of riffs. Or correction, there are no riffs, here, just echoes of riffs reverberating in the background and coming along for the crawl to one agonizing dead beat. There is a gong at the end of “Exocation of the Void-Self” which makes the song kind of cool but the drum machine in “Repulsugloid (Part 1)” reminded me of Mortician and there is only one Mortician. Official Site
To be honest, the totally generic psychedelic art included in the booklet of Critical Mass, the first full-length of Esoteric guitarist Gordon Bicknell under his Lysergene project, came off like Photoshop crap from turn of the century. It was off-putting and set my expectations at shoe-level. On top of that, I was getting ready to be put fast asleep by some cheesy techno, which is the read I got after looking at the cover but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, Critical Mass is a flawless darkwave record. Surprisingly transition from extreme metal to ethereal electronic music aside, this record will have you moving through its hard but melodic beats, through its shiny layers of sound and through drones that shoot in and out of the stratosphere (read: your bunhole), and all without feeling like you are a black latex tight butt pants-wearing gayboy. For real, no one ever said that you had to be in touch with your feminine side to like electronic music, but many metalheads think so. This is great though.
Best thing about this debut record by French doom band Fatum Elisum is the cover. By far. I am not even going to describe it…well I’ll tell you this much, there is a mask hanging on a wall and then there is some sort of wire around it. Not sure what it is supposed to mean but the colors are neat and the wall’s corroded shades give it a creepy blackened aura. The music of this quintet though highly qualified to compete against anyone’s description of doom, is quite bland. The riffage is beyond mundane and the melodies, though morose are thoroughly weak. Perhaps what drives this first recording of Fatum Elisum to the ground is its indistinctive nature. This self-titled recording was initially released independently as a demo in 2008, and despite its crisp and shiny sound it sounds like a modern throwback to early Katatonia, which may be good enough, if we only didn’t have Katatonia and the hundreds of bands that emerged on the wake of their early sound. Facebook
What The Fuck? is the phrase. What is going on here? One second Aesthetic Records throws a killer doom metal album, then it goes for some killer techno that even an avowed metal fan can take with no shame and then they release stuff like Section 37. Really, hard to tell what’s going on. Hard to even tell whether the English label were just in the mood for a joke. This is crazy, for a second there I thought I was listening to Dee Dee Ramone’s rap album, only to then be thrown a song with a hard 4/4 beat with a dude singing melodically. It’s like Portishead, but Portishead rules. It is actually more like Morcheeba without the annoying female vocals. Despite some questionable overtones and a very tongue in cheek feel, The Kudos of Serial Killing is quite a refreshing listen. The first cut “The Nu-millenial Art” doesn’t have the prefix ‘nu’ for no reason, the guitars could have been borrowed from any run of the mill nu metal piece of shit track. It works though because of the organic rhythm section and because the overall bizarre stench this recording exudes.
Drudging the Mire is the second full-length of Murkrat, a two-member English band that crafts some of the creepiest doom around. The word ‘gothic’ can’t be avoided here, as vocalist Mandy VKS Cattleprod sounds off like a siren looking to get some whale banana tapping her bunhole. She sounds pretty, enchanted, taken by some force while the doom moves, barely but effortlessly. Murkrat redefine simplicity in doom. The riffage has some melody, but the chords are played with such primitive feel, the ambience derives from everything else; chants, keyboards, plus keyboards and charts. There is a crazy passage on “I, Rodent” where everything breaks down and the keyboards turns into one of those automatic pianos one hears in movies to describe madness. Murkrat feels a bit like that, unsettling and slightly awkward. Dynamics are a broken record and broken melodies are all there is. Facebook
I imagine Dead Beat Project sounding off perfectly to the most dramatic sequence of a Japanese film about mothers and sons. One thing is for sure, when it comes down to projects making music like this, rest assured, even the most un-soundtrack-like parts are sure to segue into more dramatic parts that could perfectly accentuate that pivotal scene of a movie when the main character comes to such grand realization that the film in question turns around. At least that’s how I felt on “Last Faith” the gorgeous opener of Breaking the Shell, the second release of Dead Beat Project, which by the way is the creation of Olivier Goyet, the ex keyboardist for Esoteric. It may still be a stretch to recommend this to die hard metalheads, but one can’t deny the evocative powers of the material; heavy and charged with both positive and negative vibes, the sounds of Dead Beat Project are dreamy and gorgeous and also, quite nightmarish. Official Site