Sunday, 25 November 2012

Messe des Morts II live review!

Messe des Morts II review by Metantoine

-Day 1 – Genèse @Katacombes

The crowd was quite fun, me and my comrades estimated the crowd to be 60% men/40 % women, a surprising fact for these two young fellows from Kansas (apparently, they only have sausages fest). The atmosphere was festive and occult and it was a good day to start the fest, this was before the news of Mgla's cancellation though, but oh well, the borders and maybe the lack of preparation of the band itself are the things to blame here. The Katacombes can hold like 300 people or so and it was full. Here's the reviews for the 4 bands.

Verglas : 8:30 – 9:00 - 7 Tonies out of 10

A very cool local black metal duo, only a guitarist/singer and a drummer. I knew the band before the fest, I bought a tape from one of the members on Metal Archives. It's some kind of very lo fi black metal, I wouldn't call them raw especially live, their riffs are quite groovy and you can decipher them quite easily, I'll suggest their demo Satanisme juvénile, it got a black and roll vibe with a little trash attitude. Despite the neckbeard of the guitarist, they're cool and definitely not hipster ! The vocals of this dude were quite diverse, from high pitched screams to low groans, these guys are talented and promising.

Sortilegia : 9:15 – 9:50 - 8 Tonies out of 10

The second band of the evening was a 2 piece from Toronto. The guitarist/singer is a gorgeous blond woman with a lot of skills (she's also in Sylvus, they'll play the fest too). Their brand of atmospheric/ambient black metal is really entrancing especially live. Her vocals were lacking power though, but considering they only have vox during like ¼ of their music, it's not a big deal. They had a table with random occult stuff on it (candles, wine cups, bones, sacrificial dagger). She was wearing a velvet burgundy cape with a hood that she removed after the first song. They were selling an exclusive rehearsal demo during the fest, my friend Iggnsthe bought it, it's quite good. They have an ethereal occult presence reminding me of Darkspace a bit.

Thantifaxath : 10:05 – 10:50 - 7 Tonies out of10

A very promising and well liked band in Montréal, this trio were very well received. They wear black monk robes with hoods but their sound is decidedly modern. They have some cool clean breaks and unorthodox riffs, their vocals are nothing out of the extraordinary, the emphasis of the band is on the riffs and I think we're all expecting a great first full length after the very good but too short EP released by Dark Descent Records. I personally think their set was a bit too long and samey, but it was quite good

Archgoat : 11:05 – 12:05 9 Tonies out of 10
The crowd went fucking crazy for these Finnish black/death veterans, the moshpit (I stay away from these hooligans because I have a low pain tolerance, yes I am a pussy, bla bla). They had bloody corpsepaint mixed with black and white colours, their bestial look only added a welcome satanic and violent presence. They played their riff based black/death music with passion during many violent moshpits, they were asked to do encores twice. Archgoat is pretty amazing and we were lucky to see their first Canadian show ever. They were a very cool replacement for Darkspace !

-Day 2 - Psaume 1 @Théâtre Plaza

It's a very cool old venue, it can hold like 600 (my estimation)people and there's a balcony where you have a good view of the scene, I watched some bands from there. The merch stands were furnished even though there was no Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult merch and I wanted some, oh well, I got Isvind's latest album instead.

Haeres : 5:30 – 5:55 - 6 Tonies out of 10

A competent Québecois black metal band, they have a rich melodic sound with interesting leads/solos, 2 members of Chasse-Galerie (they were at the fest last year) were guests. I liked them, the singer had a good stage presence despite their early set time (not a lot of people were there compared to the end of the show). Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing extraordinary, it was fine, but they're not exactly my kind of black metal.

Scum Sentinel : 6:10 – 6:40 - 6,5 Tonies out of 10

Pretty good band from Montréal, their brand of black'n'roll is quite enjoyable. They have good riffs and good vocals, if they could drop the silly cartoonesque approach of their first album:, I'm sure I could appreciate them a bit more. Their logo is top notch though.

Panzerfaust : 6:55 – 7:30 -7 Tonies out of 10

A veteran act from Ontario, Panzerfaust were quite enjoyable as well. I liked the singer a lot, a tall dude named Goliath (duh, makes sense), their riffs were solid, a competent if not generic band. Not much to add there.

Isvind : 7:45 – 8:25 – 9,5 Tonies out of 10

One of my favorite black metal band right now, I was expecting good things from their set and I wasn't disappointed. Very groovy old school Norwegian black metal is always a good thing and the fact that the leader of the band is named Goblin and that he has the looks of one only helps. They played a good mix of songs from both of their excellent albums and the crowd seemed to have been pleased by Isvind. They were my favorite band of the evening alongside Seth.

In retrospect, they were my highlight of the fest ! Goblin <3

Goblin from Isvind, a badass short dude!

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult : 8:40 – 9:25 – 9 bloody Tonies out of 10

This was fucking bloody, I enjoyed DNC a lot, especially Yvonne's charistmatic playing and her long princess blond hair, she's the Rapunzel of German black metal ! I think I prefer them in studio though, in my opinion, their live show didn't have enough mid paced stuff, but yeah, it was very very enjoyable and they were by far the most spectacular band of the day with their blood spitting and their cool corpsepaint. Despite some technical issues, their set was pretty good and wicked, too bad they didn't have any merch, I like their logo a lot and I wanted a patch: (

Seth : 9:40 – 10:25 – 9,5 Antoine out of 10

Well known French black metallers Seth were the co headliners for this evening and they were really amazing. I decided to approach the stage and I took some pictures of the guys. They were really professional and their stage presence was enormous. They played 2 or 3 songs from their classic album « Les blessures de l'âme » and considering it's one of my favorite French metal albums, this was very cool. They played a new song as well, I can't say I enjoyed it that much compared to their other stuff. The songs from L'Excellence were really well done too especially Die Weihe. I personally prefer the new vocalist compared to the one on this album even though I've never seen the former live. This was a very cool first time for them in Québec and North America !

Revenge : 10:40 – 11:40 - 6 Tonies out of 10
Learn the same solo and play it 20 times. that's what Revenge is doing ! Some cool riffs, cool basslines and cool drums but meh, Revenge is quite overrated in my opinion. Fuck these lead parts are obnoxious, even Kerry king would be more inventive than their guitarist. The crowd was pleased and that's what important ! I'm not a fan and I was obviously going for the other bands !

They should get Avenger from Czech Republic next year instead ! They're the cool kind of black/death metal

-Day 3 – Psaume 2 @Théâtre Plaza

Doors/Portes : 5:00
Sarcomancy : 5:30 – 5:55 - 5,5 Tonies out of 10

Some American Immortal mid era worship. Well done, but they're still looking to master the style and actually writing good riffs., maybe that's why they don't even have a demo yet. Nothing wrong with them, but they're not standing out.

Mortuas : 6:10 – 6:35 - 8 Tonies out of 10

A pleasant surprise, this Québécois trio from Sept-Îles was pretty good. A cool brand of traditional black with nice & well done leads from the singer/guitarist and a cool present bass. They have a lot of potential, my friend bought their split, I'll listen to this with attention.

 A live song from their set (credit goes to my friend Joshua McMullen)

Sylvus : 6:50 – 7:20 -  8,5 Tonies out of 10

I was expecting cool things from this Toronto band and they managed to exceed expectations, they kicked ass so much. They have Anastasia from Sortilegia playing guitar alonside the very talented Darcy who's also handling the vocals. They had that modern black sound without being unorthodox and experimental, they're basically the future of non-Québec Canadian black metal. So good !

Get their stuff for free on their bandcamp:

Neige Éternelle : 7:35 – 8:10 - 8,5 Tonies out of 10

Amazing band ! I was very glad when I knew they were gonna play the fest ! Their style of Québécois patriotic but misanthropic Norwegian styled black metal was very cool live. Their demo is really cool and sadly out of print (I got pins though!), you can read my review of it here  :
The singer has a really cool attitude, the singer was really hateful, he was pissing off everyone and was screaming « FUCK YOURSELF> in French between the songs. They were drinking beer like true Québecois lumberjacks and they even had flannel shirts to match this cruel but cult job.

Mgla : 8:25 – 9:10 CANCELLED !

Well, it's a shame they weren't able to visit our cool city and play their very awesome brand of melodic black metal, but Sepulchral Productions said that they'll try to make them come in early 2013 and that the people with Messe des Morts tickets will have a better deal on the ticket price, so hold on to them ! Maybe we'll get Darkspace too, who knows !

Black Witchery : 9:25 – 10:10 - 9 Tonies out of 10

BESTIAL AS FUCK ! Man, these guys were the shit, the bass tone was really in your face, crushing your teeth. These fast paced black/metal songs were all glorious, simple, occult and satanic. I enjoyed them a lot but yeah, 40 mins or so is enouuuuuuugh for these guys, man, they're heavy. Their songs are perhaps  all similar but they really have this occult edge that pseudo satanic bands like Watain are working really hard to get!

Ragnarok : 10:25 – 11:30
I had to miss this, I was pretty dead and my friend had an emergency, oh well. It was a perfect fest despite the 2 cancellations. If you like black metal, there was no reasons to miss this festival and hopefully the fest will be as good next year.

Merci Sepulchral, good job ! See y'all next year !

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Fall of the Idols - Solemn Verses 90% / Believe in the new apostles of doom

"Welcome to the realm of rivalry. Where being became estranged from the ravenous time"

The third album from one of Finland's hidden jewel is a true testament to despair. Hannu Weckman (drums, some guitars) died during the recording of the album which took a long 3 years to achieve. His memory will live on through the songs and his doom will be yours to hear. Fall of the Idols plays a traditional kind of doom metal but with a very weird approach, it's truly unique without losing any references to the style's background. It's strange, while it tries to disregard the conventions, you can always find them, buried under the talented songwriting. Solemn Verses is deep and profound, prepare to kneel in an ocean of sorrow.

Solemn Verses is an ambitious album, it's very effusive, it's almost too emotional. It's poetic verses intertwined with mournful melodies. As innovative as Cathedral and as deep as Albert Witchfinder's darkest memories, The vocal approach is quite enjoyable, Jyrki Hakomäki's delivery is perfect, sometimes he sounds like a charismatic front man à la Jim Morrison but way more drunk and depressed. But at the same time, he's charming and romantic. His cleaner vocals are bewitching, an ideal companion to the crushing atmospheric riffs and he's also pretty great when he's handling the rougher and crazier vocals found on the heavier moments. His range is great and it shines on the fourth track called "Hymn". While the band is quite varied, it doesn't have annoying distinct sections, it's a well conceived melting pot and everything is tasty. If Patrick Walker (40 Watt Sun and Warning) would stop crying, he could probably release something as profound and gushing as this album. I think that's the third time I trash Walker, I should simply write a review and try to get over it !

The funeral doom aura of Finland has an influence in their sound. Some parts on the longest track of the album "Cycle of the Fallen" have clear mournful elements and a valid proof that doom doesn't need harsh vocals to be darker than the darkest black. While they don't use keys like Skepticism or Shape of Despair, their three guitars attack is very particular and gives the band a rich and full sound compared to the traditional one guitar identity. Don't be fooled, we're still in trad doom territory but there's an unquestionable will to transcend the classifications. The songs are all above 8 minutes but the album stays interesting throughout its duration, there's even some acoustic guitar on the third track and it fits the overall vibe of their music.

This album grows on you, there's so many details to find each time you hear it. It lacks nothing. Good warm production ? Yep. Great riffs & interesting leads ? Yep. Awesome abstract and poetic lyrics ? Yep. One of the best record of the year ? Yes,, definitely.

It's an album where you contemplate the cold murky waters. You're tempted to jump, but you decide to stay alive, comfortable in your fur coat coated with the blood of deers.

Like them on facebook

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Interview with Bedemon!


Interview by Metantoine/Antoine Richard

AR : Thanks for answering these questions; I'm honored to be able to do that. Bedemon is legendary and should definitely get more recognition! 

Geof: I believe we all agree on that! Of course, since Bedemon isn't really a functioning band, it's not like we're out touring and keeping the name in the press, and while this is the second official Bedemon album — the first being the 2005 collection of 70s recordings, Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes — it's taken ten years from recording to release.

AR : In the liner notes of the promo package, it's said that the songwriting was quite spontaneous, but in opinion it's definitely not a bad thing. The solos are well done and I like their feeling, is that an experience you would like to repeat or you'll like to do a more professional recording ? I would also like some thought about the song you wrote called "Exterminator," is there some chances that the fans could hear this song in the near future ?
Geof: Well, the songwriting wasn't necessarily spontaneous, except in the case of the song, "Son of Darkness," which Randy, Mike and myself did spontaneously write one day during the recording sessions in April 2002. However, the other eight tracks on the album, five by Randy, two by myself and one by Mike, were all written during 2001 as we prepared for the recording session.

As for the solos, with the exceptions of my two songs, "Saviour" and "Hopeless," on which I did do extensive work on years later, the solos were indeed as spontaneous as could be. Randy had worked out his melodic line solo in "D.E.D." but on his other songs, we had no idea who would be playing what or where. While Mike and I had recorded fairly complete demos of our compositions with drum machines, vocals, solos etc., Randy's demos were literally him playing one guitar into a cassette recorder. No vocals, no overdubs, no solos, just the riffs. This was all Mike and I had to listen to during the year leading up to the actual recording session.

This is how it would go: we would sit in my living room with three unplugged electric guitars and learn the song for that day, and then go down to my garage and record it, usually in 2–3 takes max. As we listened back to the track, Randy would then say, “Okay, the solo starts…here! It goes for eight lines. Geof, why don’t you try this one?” They would go upstairs to the house while I (or Mike, if he was doing a solo) would see what we could come up with given no advance prep to work anything out, and when we were satisfied, we’d go get the other members to come listen. That’s pretty spontaneous! Personally, I’d like to have had the time to have worked on them a bit longer as I did with my two tracks. I like a solo to be well-constructed but of course it’s a fun challenge to simply play by emotion.

Ahhhh, “Exterminator.” Kind of a sore subject which I discuss in the album’s liner notes. Randy had my demo of the song for a year and thought it was fine for the album . . . until the day we sat in the living room learning it right before we were supposed to record it. Suddenly he thought it wasn’t right and was too much like Judas Priest. It WAS Priest-influenced but I’m sure it would have taken on the Bedemon sound if we’d at least recorded it. This also suddenly left me with one less song on the album and no time for a back-up replacement. I wasn’t happy and an emotional scene ensued with me leaving the room as I told him to fuck off and retreating to my bedroom where I stayed until they coaxed me out. I would absolutely like to record it properly someday, but have no idea when that would be or for what project.

AR : I liked Craig's voice on the album. Can you tell me more about his choice ? Was he the only candidate outside of Bobby Liebling and did the famous Pentagram singer ever call or talk to you guys before or after Randy's death ?

Geof: When we recorded the basic tracks for this album in April of 2002, we didn't have a vocalist and didn't know who would be singing. We actually considered Mike or I trying to handle them, but neither of us has the killer chops to handle material of this nature properly.

Randy agonized for quite some time about working with Bobby again. He was the obvious choice but Randy had two concerns: first, he wasn’t crazy about Bobby’s vocal style on recent Pentagram albums at that time. He thought he’d gotten too far away from the Ozzy/Iggy early Pentagram sound. Secondly, Randy knew if he was spending time working with Bobby, he would be tempted to fall back into using the drugs Randy was trying to stay away from. Randy had a few other possibilities for singers in North Carolina where he was living but they didn't pan out.

Shawn Hafley, the engineer who worked on this project was working at a local indie record shop called Boo Boo's Records in San Luis Obispo. He knew I had been looking for a singer and mentioned that their other location in Grover Beach had a manager who was also a great singer and that I should check him out. I met Craig for the first time on June 14, 2002. He played me tapes of him with cover bands singing Sabbath, Priest and so on, and he was great. I sent the samples off to Randy and Mike. and we agreed Craig was the one. Sadly, Randy died before ever getting to even speak with him on the phone, much less ever meet him in person.

I was contacted by a third party after Randy’s death, relaying the message that Bobby really wanted to be the vocalist on the album as a tribute to his friend, but we couldn’t do that. Randy’s wishes had to be honored.

AR : Are you and the rest of the band gonna continue ? Like Riot will after Mark Reale's death, life continues and maybe that's something Randy would want. You wouldn't have the emotional contraints that you had during the recording of Symphony of Shadows. Speaking for myself, I want to hear more of what you guys can do and there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when we listen to Pentagram or Saint Vitus' recent offerings compared to yours.
Geof: Thank-you for those thoughts and interest. Obviously, the big issue is that Bedemon was, first and foremost, Randy’s project, and he’s gone. Having said and accepted that for the past decade, we have been discussing the possibility of continuing in some form. One really interesting possibility is that after returning home from recording the Symphony of Shadows album back in May of 2002, Randy began writing tons of new songs, and I have the tapes of those song ideas. In some cases, it’s just a riff; in others, it’s a complete song. Again, no overdubs, no lyrics, but some amazing riffs and song ideas, and we could take these and build songs around them. We’ve been discussing this, as Mike and I could play all the instruments and Craig do the vocals, and therefore it would be very much in the style and sound of Symphony of Shadows. It really depends on the level of interest in this new album and how well it does.

AR : The artwork for the album is dark and fits the mysterious and occult feel of the album, can you elaborate on its choice ?
Geof: We were originally going to work with Wes Benscoter, who had done the amazing cover for the Child of Darkness release but things fell through when, after expressing interest in doing the new cover, he suddenly vanished and wouldn’t respond to e-mails for month after month. We were back at square one.

When Mike was visiting Randy’s fiancée Taryn and looking through some of Randy’s music-related stuff, he came across a rough drawing of potential cover art for what was going to at the time be called Kaleidoscope of Shadows, showing a face peering out of a doorway with one hand on the door. Good friend and Pentagram fanatic Sean "Pellet" Pelletier saw Eric “Rot” Engelmann's My Space page and examples of his work and suggested we check him out. On Eric's site was this artwork of his showing a partially lit face peering out from behind a tree with one hand on the tree. It was eerily similar to Randy's sketch concept, and so we contacted Eric and arranged to use his art for the cover

AR : Can you tell me what were your influences for the album outside of the obvious ones ? What are you listening these days and what's some of your all time favorites ? Secondly, do you like discovering new artists and do what's your opinion on the actual metal and scene ?

 Geof: It’s no secret that Randy’s favorite band was Black Sabbath, so that’s a given. When I was working with Shawn mixing the album, I’d bring in 70s releases like Uriah Heep, Mountain, Sir Lord Baltimore, Captain Beyond, Deep Purple, Montrose, Stray Dog and Three Man Army to show him the bands we were listening to and tell him that was the overall sound we were going for.

As for what I personally listen to, it’s really all over the musical map. I love so many different types of music, many quite removed from what you might expect. I’ve always loved progressive rock like Gentle Giant, Camel, Focus, Curved Air, Renaissance, Yes and bands of that ilk and also a huge jazz fusion fan into Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale, Jean-Luc Ponty and so on. I have so many CDs and records, it is a hard question, but other artists that come to mind are Todd Rundgren, Kate Bush, Neil Young, Jethro Tull, Wishbone Ash, 60s pop like The Association, The Beatles, The Zombies, The Hollies etc.

I am really out of touch with new metal. Randy was more into discovering new artists, but when he would send me some samplers of bands he liked, they really didn’t do anything for me. The main thing I find lacking is strong material. It doesn’t matter how well it’s played or recorded. If the song doesn’t grab me, it’s not happening. Another problem I have are vocalists: I really can’t stand the growling non-singing singers, otherwise nick-named “cookie monster” vocalists. I need an Ian Gillan, a Dio, a Rob Halford…a singer with a voice who can sing a melody with power and emotion, not sound like he’s being strangled. I’m sure there are new artists out there I would love if I was exposed to them, but really, there’s only so many hours in the day and I have a gazillion CDs I haven’t even listened to yet sitting in boxes.

AR : Do you plan to play some live shows in the future ? I know a festival like Roadburn would be honored to have you. Maybe a Pentagram/Bedemon show !!

Geof: It would be a thrill to play some of the old and new songs in honor of Randy, but the obstacles we face are having to find a guitarist or two and then deal with the physical logistics of Mike living in Montana and Craig and I living here in California. Bedemon, old or new, has never played a single gig since it was never really a band to begin with. Yes, the idea of doing some Pentagram/Bedemon shows is very interesting…

AR : If there was one little known fact about Bedemon, what would it be?  

Geof: Well, the most common misconception about Bedemon is that it was an actual band! It never was. We didn’t rehearse and there was never any talk of playing gigs. It literally was Randy’s recording project for fun. Bobby and I were friends of his and he’d ask us to record some songs every now and then, so we’d meet at the warehouse where Pentagram rehearsed, record the new 2-3 songs and that would be it for months until he came up with some more songs. We did fifteen tracks between 1973 and 1979, and then recorded five more in 1986 with Greg Mayne of Pentagram on bass, as Mike had moved to Seattle. These five had no vocals and have never been released except on bootlegs.

AR : Thanks for the interview and good luck in all of your future endeavors ! You have the final word, of course !
Geof: Thanks from Mike, Craig and myself for your kind words and interest regarding Bedemon, and a huge thank-you to the fans who have patiently waited for this project to be completed and now are telling us how much they enjoy it. More to come? Stay tuned!
twitter: @bedemon

Friday, 21 September 2012

Slug Lord - 65% A lord? No, a knight perhaps? Mayhap just a cupbearer...

The Finnish Doom scene has always been one of my all time favoritewith bands like Reverend Bizarre, Spiritus Mortis or Fall of the Idols.  Slug Lord with their debut EP are newcomers in the scene, but the quality is not quite there yet. While leaning towards a Doom/Stoner influence, I don't think they have a lot of potential as they don't really deviate from the well traced path. But do they have what it's needed to become one of Tampere's future household names ? Yes and no...

Their sound has an obvious emphasis on fuzzy and simple riffs, reminding me of Electric Wizard in some places. One of the slowest song is ironically called 'Speeding', an 8 minutes dirge with a solid atmospheric solo. The songs are ranging from 5 to 8 minutes for a total length of 42 minutes, it's considered an EP by the band, but it has the duration of a full album. The riffs are generic, it's not bad, but their self titled ep doesn't place them in the higher echelons of Doom. They're a Slug Knight at best, definitely not a Lord. The songs lacks something special and the decent production is not to blame here, everything is well recorded and there's the right amount of atmosphere and feedback, but I think the guitars could be heavier and the bass more present and fuzzy. The drumming is decent though, but like the rest, it's not very inventive. Maybe some keyboard would have been welcome, I'm not (the one) usually begging for originality, but some is needed here...The only original feature can be found in the vocal department, it's truly the album's shiniest characteristic.

Indeed, Johanna Rutto's vocals are my favorite part of this album, too bad she's not in ,of the band anymore. I hope they'll be able to find a new solid vocalist because I'm not exactly sure they would make a good instrumental band as they're not even great with vocals. Rutto's vocals are interesting, I could compare her to a more abrasive Alia O'brien from Blood Ceremony's, albeit with no flutes in her hands as there's no folk elements in the music mixed with Agnete of Prog metallers Madder Mortem. She can be catchy, like in 'Gastropoda' with its pleasant chorus, sometimes more mystical and it feels heavier. She has a good and pleasant range, nothing feels forced. It doesn't change their dark music though, it only adds another layer of occultness. I mean, : simply look at the Lovecraftian album cover art, full of deadly tentacles ! Nonetheless, the album, despite its rather typical length, feels redundant and overlong. The ideas stopped being fresh after the second song, there's not a lot of variation and it's not honestly quite boring.

Still, the album was kind of enjoyable, particularly because of Johanna's vocals. It's not something I'll seek out again though. Despite my lack of praise Slug Lord, if you like Doom/Stoner, you'll like them, but they're Acid King's cupbearer. If you enjoy this specific sort of wine, go ahead and check them out but don't expect anything groundbreaking.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Neige Éternelle – Forêt Nord-Côtière : Shattered icicles of hatred 80%

In the midst of the cold Labrador current, a dark mist shall appear. As the wind lays his grasp on the fir trees outside, the windows of your frail little shack are frozen, the candles are laying on the floor, fire can't survive here. Grab the snowshoes on the wall, yeah, the ones just beneath these antlers. There's nothing synthetic about this winter, nothing. The cold grasp of the white danger will attack your sanity and it will destroy your will to live. Your naked skin, victim of the howling wind is getting blue, the door opens, you put your fur coat, a gritty warmth traded against mirrors and you search for your flask in the inside pocket, you twist the cap and drink a sip of whisky. Despite the snow storm, you step forward, seeking, drinking, it's freezing but it's rewarding. Your beard full of shattering icicles is moving, it makes a strange sound buried under the sound of the cracking sound, but there's another sound coming from the middle of the frozen river in front of you, there's a man wearing a checked shirt with no sleeves singing his life, his face, bloody and dark appears lifeless. You approach him, his screeching voice resonates, the ice, albeit being thick starts to split. The icy cold water welcomes your soul, your breath stops as the liquid penetrates your lungs, intoxicating, deadly.

That's how the demo made me feel like, but here's the actual non pretentious content ! Neige Éternelle's first demo is a very promising delivery of fast paced aggressive black metal from Baie Comeau, a town located approximately 420 kilometres north-east of Québec City and near the Saint Lawrence river. This maritime identity is reflected in the demo title "Forêt Nord-Côtière" or north-coast forest in English. Just like many coast villages in Norway, this region of the province has many fishermen and the comparison with the Scandinavian brothers doesn't stop here, this 4 songs demo is a really strong black metal release in the vein of Gorgoroth and other Norwegian black metal bands. It's fast paced métal noire in French and for a first release, it's fucking promising. The main thing I liked is the Sti's vocals, they're the traditional black attack, but they're very in your face and even understandable at time and that's something fun for a French speaker, the lyrics are about patriotism, sadness and hate. The snippets I understood were well written and I'd like to read them, sadly the band was out of tapes when I told them I wanted to write a review the demo. The good vocals are complimented by the production who puts them in a very graceful place, not too buried, not too loud, simply the right amount of venom and hate.

Sti, the front man of the band
Their style of black metal is very well produced and it almost sounds like a professional album and I had to remind that I was listening to a demo throughout my first listening, I was quite impressed to say the least. The production fits both the 2 fast paced songs and the 2 more atmosheric ones and the band succeeds at being emotional and pertinent in both of these style. The atmospheric side of Forteresse is definitely comparable in both themes and sound. Don't get me wrong, it's not ambient or Darkspacey, it remains aggressive and fast. Also, there's a cool raw epic edge in Neige Éternelle's music, it makes things interesting without the need of technicality or complexity. While the riffs remains simple, the drums are quite dynamic and gives a very natural feel to the adequate songwriting and musicianship of these guys. The drums on "Fier patriote" are quite awesome and it's one of the highlight for me and I'm usually not quite listening to the percussions.

While not as ground breaking as Neige et Noirceur, the atmosphere of their music is convincing, no frills, keyboards and droney atmospheres, this is pure coldness created by fast snowstorms, eliminating all life forms. Pure coldness, pure black metal. Check this band, they'll release their first full length album this autumn and they'll play Sepulchral production's fest, the second edition of Messe des Morts in November !

Friday, 14 September 2012

Review: Décombres - self titled - Through the rubble of the mind - 85%

Once again, la Belle Province produced a talented black metal artist and like most of his brethren, Décombres is of the highest quality. Québec's warehouse of métal noire is renowned in the underground and in my honest opinion, it's the best scene this side of the Atlantic. Biased opinion aside, Philippe Boucher, the sole creator of this album is damn talented and his first album is a really fine slab of interesting and classic black metal.

Boucher, also the drummer of a technical death metal band called First Fragment handles all the instrument here and it sounds good. Don't be scared if you think tech death is atrocious, there's no hints of this genre here. It's pretty much Norwegian styled black metal without frills and major surprises, but the quality is there. The riffs are sometimes dissonant and they stay simple most of the time, but they are excellent. The music is guitar driven and there's good short and simple leads here and there, like in the third track "Élévation". There's an epic feel throughout some songs, "Dernier Souffle", the longest track of the album at around 8 mins has this feel reminding me of the early and arguably good Satyricon albums. There 's a cool clean vocals break that took me by surprise, it was quite in the background though, but I feel Boucher should expand this side of Décombres, it was definitely a cool element, I'm probably biaised again by my love for Primordial ! Eh, give me a break, there's some similarities between Ireland and Québec! The kind of atmosphere you'll get here is similar to Darkthrone's seminal trilogy mixed with the more dissonant black metal path, Thrall from Australia is worth a mention. Also, it reminds me of the riffier side of Burzum's early imput with a better and crisper production, of course. The bass is quite buried under the mix, but that's something I was expecting with this kind of black metal, the focus is on the guitar and it's rewarding enough. As far as I know, Boucher being originally a drummer isn't crazy about innovation here, it's professional enough and that's fine with me, the use of cymbals is particularly good. The production is great for a first album, there's no problem there, however, I would prefer the vocals to be a bit more present in the mix, but that's a minor complain. The vocals are your traditional black screechs and while being great, they don't break any new grounds, why would they anyway?

 The band's sound confirms my assumption that the Québec scene is quite healthy in its conservatism, there's no shoegazing and post black metal among Décombres' peers, proof that you can be original while not jumping into the trendy wagons of our cousin Neige (the only snow he's familiar is ours when he tours here). Note that I have nothing against these particular genres, I feel that they're only temporary...

Décombres' sound, while truly influenced by our northern brothers of Europe, remains rooted in the Quebec's scene. But, don't expect something like Neige et Noirceur or Forteresse here, there's no folk influences and the atmosphere is created by the fast riffing style instead of long and slow dirges. It's more in the vein of newcomers Neige Éternelle and one of the mentors of the scene, Frozen Shadows without the haunting keyboards though. While we're talking of Martin Marcotte's band, Décombres would fit perfectly on his high quality label, Sepulchral Productions (simply putting this here...) Still, Décombres is its own thing, the influences are obvious, but their sound is fresh and the smell of spring is vivid in the midst of their enchanting sound. The Lyrics are in French, but if you're afraid of the evil French Canadian separatists, rest assured, they have more in common with Monarque and Crépuscule than Brume d'automne and the aforementionned Forteresse. It's dark, personal and evil without being nationalist and satanist. Fortunately, the themes fits the music and that's an achievement in itself. Look for the rubble, every parts are important to create something worthy. That's something Boucher did with this album and he'll certainly do even better as this is his first album.

Apart from the short interlude in the middle of the self titled release, there's not a lot of place to breath, it's a complete album with excellent and varied atmospheres. There's the right amount of melody and agression to please most black metal fans. Phillipe Boucher made a bold statement with this album, he'll be a force to reckon with among the black metal artisans of our snowy province.

Black metal tabarnak!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Review: Violet Magick – demo 2011 – Latin doom part #1 - 74%

What we have here is a solid slab of heavy/doom from a new Mexican band called Violet Magick. The members of this trio are all using pseudonyms related to alchemy (Mercury, Salt and Sulfur to be precise) and that's reflected in their lyrical approach. Despite being firmly established in the occult doom scene, this band can't be incorporated in the doom rock movement alonside The Devil's Blood or Blood Ceremony but also can't really be linked to their Mexican brothers Maligno. I can't really find the huge usual Sabbath influence in their stuff either, their biggest influence is certainly the Italian doom school (Paul Chain, Death SS and Black Hole).

Their songwriting is fast paced, 3 songs for a little more than 16 minutes of music and it's pretty solid. I personally like the production, it's rough and a bit lo-fi but it fits their atmosphere and it gives a stoner edge to their compositions. For a demo, I would definitely consider this sound to be a success. The riffs are good, there's a good variety and the demo never gets boring, the solo on the second track "Spirits Rise" is too buried behind the wall of riff, but it fits nonetheless. The ones on the last track "The Ethereal Path" is great though. The demo starts with an organ intro with some bells, it's gloomy and sets the occult tone for the whole thing. The bass playing is damn tasty, simply listen to the bass solo at the start of the second track, there's a fun alchemy between the 3 musicians and it's clearly apparent. Violet Magick are a very apt power trio, the instrumental side is lovely for a first release and shows great potential. Nevertheless, I can't really get into their vocals, they're clean but the accent is quite thick and a little bit laughable at times. Nothing extremely bad though, it's decent but they definitely need improvement especially in the range and power departments, both are truly lacking. It's kind of the deal breaker for me about them, I think this style of doom metal needs a strong and charistmatic vocalist, Violet Magick doesn't have that...yet. The band has good chops and if they improve the vocal part, they could easily become an household name of Mexican metal. They'll be even better if they include some Mexican influences in their music, some accoustic guitars perhaps? That's something that we can find in Maligno's music, it would set them apart for sure. Albeit, they're not a generic band and I'll admit that originality can be dangerous.

This demo will please almost all the fans of traditional doom, there's a very good mix of influences in their music, mixing the Italian school with some touches of the American one. It's vintage, don't expect any groundbreaking ideas here, it's a well done hommage to their doom fathers but at the same time, they're free of the conventions chains. Hopefully they'll continue their good work and release a solid full length in the near future. To conclude, this a solid demo plagued by subpar vocals, but put this band in your watch list.

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Review: Witch Mountain - Cauldron of the Wild: Born of the cauldron, the wild will rise - 96%

This is, my friends, the greatest doom album of the year, Cauldron of the Wild, the sophomore release from this band from Oregon with the vocalist Uta Plotkin is almost perfect. Their first release on the Canadian label Profound Lore follows the excellent South of Salem and this album is a total continuation of their sentimental blend of doom metal. I wanted to review this musical piece since I got it, the day it was released if I remember correctly, but I decided to wait and found the appropriate words and I'm glad I did.

I know that I'm a sucker for doom metal with female vocals but Plotkin is truly, truly unique. She has amazing pipes and she's a real powerhouse. Perhaps, the most talented singer in metal right now. Seeing her live back in june was a real bliss, sadly the crowd was sparse, Montréal is not really a good place for doom, especially on mondays...Surprising how an amazing voice like hers came from a calm and sweet short woman, haha ! Her place is at the mic and nowhere else, she's a mesmerising frontwoman with natural charisma. Usually, she's going all blues berserk mode with high falsettos and slow romantic groovy drinking hymn vocals. But, sometimes, there's these strange harsh vocals, it's definitely good, albeit unorthodox and surprising for this genre. Plotkin wrote all the lyrics and they are fucking great. Sometimes about personal confessions, sometimes it's strange dark stories. For example, the first track "The Ballad of Lanky Rae" is about a strong tall woman who's the daughter of a demon, for example. It's quite fun and I really like the lyricism of her words, it's definitely a part of the complete experience of Witch Mountain. Each song has a different touch and reading them was interesting (I added the lyrics to the MA page and it was a joy to do so, can't say the same about many artists). Her poetry can be amazing, sometimes simple but at the same time full of imagery, I like these lines from "Veil of the Forgotten":

«We will win with patience cold in the stone. Gold Jade and blood amethys and bone.»
«No teeth sink deeper than teeth of time so we just watch it fester.»

She has a real talent for lyrics and she transmits her passion with ease and class on stage. She reminds me of Janis Joplin, she has the same vibrant passion and that's evident, but enough of miss Plotkin! 

During the 45 minutes duration of Cauldron of the Wild, we experience many different emotions. It can be fast paced doom such as  "Beekeeper" and very slow like the last and strong song "Never Know", which is a real romantic bluesy ballad. The guitarist Rob Wrong, the main songwriter of the band really shines throughout the record. His style is mixing the classic Iommi riffs, always the basis of traditionnal and stoner doom with a huge emphasis on bluesy Hendrix-like licks. There's even some Chandler influenced fuzzy riffs and leads. Fortunately for the doom purists, the doom influences are the classic ones, this album is safe from the modern influences of post metal and sludge, even if there's weird moments like these aforementionned harsh vocals, these are minimal. If this album had been released during the heydays of Sleep, it would had been a classic today, the songwriting is solid and just like the wailing and powerful vocals. The riffs are slow, undeniably heavy and borderling on the stoner metal style. There's no restraints in the leads, they're totally vibrant and reminds me of some sort of psychedelic jam sessions where everyone is stoned on acid. Nathan Carson's drumming is top notch, it's classic doom drumming, slow and without frills and defaults. The bass playing of Neal Munson could be higher in the mix, but the emphasis is clearly on the guitar and the vocals and that's fine in my book, but some cooler bass lines would had been nice. Still, the songwriting and musicianship is simply top notch, without limits and never overplayed or technical, it's truly music for your emotions and your spirit, it feeds you romanticism, dark stories and americana. 

The song lengths are perfect, 6 songs, nothing too long, the two last tracks "Aurelia» and "Never Know" are the longest at around 10 minutes each, when the album stops, the music continues in your mind, proof of its worth. Like the album art indicates, the cauldron is warm, full of familiar magic potion, attracting everything in its area with its seductive wildness. This is the sort of music that needs to be played very loud with lots of booze. It's shack music, remove your boots full of fresh earth, fill your cup with that potion and put on wool socks, it feels right, everything will be alright.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Review: Black Chalice - Submission : The deluge full of dementia and black shadows.

This is a very good demo from a one man project from Portland, Maine and it works as a counterpart to Auspicium, the atmospheric black metal project of this dude named Patrick A. Hasson. I never heard this other band so I can't hardly make any comparaisons, but Submission has this raw production and this lugubre feeling, somewhat coming from these black metal roots. The themes and lyrics are quite personal and deals with depression issues, it's profound and quite good.

This demo tape released on Contaminated Tones, a new underground label from New Jersey led by my friend Jon is very well done. The songwriting is solid and very captivating. We have 4 songs for 32 minutes of music and there's no time wasted, maybe the 4 minutes introduction called « Deluge » wasn't so needed but it's nothing to complain about, it gives us some time to dive into the harsh and uncompromising world that's waiting for us throughout the next 3 songs. There's nothing unnatural here, all is very vivid and atmospheric. It sounds like a restless grey ocean tormenting a sad old man on his little ship of dark dreams. Silly comparaisons aside, Black Chalice is very dark and captivating, the songs are slow and are long dirges. It's mainly atmospheric death/doom but there's some funeral doom and lo-fi traditionnal doom influences as well. The last title track is totally monumental and my favorite on the demo, it starts with a calm intro with soothing vocals softly murmured in the background and the guitar is quite clean, almost like a lullaby. A cool bass solo is separating the soft intro and leads to a heavier part, this part is as melodic as early Anathema. The musicianship is simple and does the job very well, the riffs are not really complimented by the minimal production though, they deserve a tightier production though. The harsh vocals are cavernous and slow and adequate to the music, they're in the background, like a howling deluge of thoughts and it feels right

With a better production and with a bit more colours, Black Chalice could really become a great beast. Hasson is a talented musician and he has a very bright vision of doom, it's lo-fi, simple but very dark and rewarding. Check that out.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Review: High Priest of Saturn - Norwegian fuzziness is quite good! 83%

Behold these new doomsters directly from Trondheim, the home of the black/doom acts Furze and Faustcoven, but contrary to these bands, HPoS plays a sort of doom metal influenced mostly by Om and Electric Wizard and they do it quite well. This demo has 2 songs for 20 minutes of music and it's a very good first release by this promising young band led by Merethe, she's singing and she plays the guitar and the organ. She's really the driving force of this band, her charisma and talent might be something to experience live. Too bad I live on the other side of the Atlantic.

The first song "The Protean Towers" opens the demo and remains interesting during its 10 minutes. Like his title, the song has many different influences, ranging from psychedelic stoner rock with a huge spacey sound and an hotbox atmosphere to fuzzy doom metal with nice leads. The vocals of Merethe are very cool, atmospheric and soothing and without a lot of reverb like in many stoner bands. Indeed, they're not quite buried under the instruments. It reminds me of Cisneros's vocals but sexier! I must say that, while the band doesn't innovate much on any grounds, these vocals are pretty good, Even if you usually dislike female voices, it wouldn't be a dealbreaker because it's really part of their specific atmosphere and it really fits the songwriting, handled by Merethe.

Don't be fooled, HPoS is hardly a copycat band, they use the organ a lot and it gives them a very vintage sound nourished by Orange amps and of course, bell bottom trousers. The proeminent keys really gives us the reason the band is called High Priest of Saturn. Like fellow Scandinavians Saturnalia Temple, the band is not afraid to put a lot of work on their spacey and lush wall of sound and in the end, it's a charming success. There's a real will to embrace the 70s sound in their playing, it's not particularly heavy and it's not creating a huge wall of noisy indistinguishable riffs. Yes, it's fuzzy but it's more on the soft side, restrained and subtle. The guitar playing of Merethe and Andreas (also handling the drums) is slow and the leads are quite nice, full of psychedelia, the solo in the first song is fucking cool. The bass is loud and busy but it's also letting the organ do its own thing in the background. Listen to the short bass solo midway through "Crawling King Snake", it's damn tasty, same with the lovely amount of organs, Ray Manzarek would be proud! Concerning the drums, like the overall sound of this release, they remain slow but interesting and there's cool fills throughout the songs, the playing is ritualistic, heavy and full of cymbals.

Not a fan of Om's recent direction change? High Priest of Saturn will surely interest you. Add interesting guitar leads and mesmerising soft female vocals to Om's blend of slow ambient doom and you're in business. This was a good discovery and these guys have a lot of potential, along with the Norwegian doom scene (Summit and Resonant especially, but let's not forget Devil as well). I think that Lamented Souls' legacy finally paid off as we can clearly see a new wave of Norwegian doom to compete with the Swedish retro acts !

Listen to the album here: