Daemonicium – Through Time And Death (2004) Album Review

Weekdays are really boring and turn my whole mood upside down. But what can end a day in a better way other than listening to metal? But not any kind of metal. Who knows me in real life is already accustomed with my dislike to mainstream music and what we hear at the radio, basically the same classics that are rapped continuously and they just never end. I ask for forgiveness for those that are still trapped in the past, but seriously guys, classics are classics but what we hear today at radio is just a type of brainwash. Come up with something new, not the same old tunes that are just thoroughly repeated. Come up with new styles, come up with new ideas, come up with new material and keep people informed about bands that are about to release new album, other than the bands that are already in the attention of the mainstream audience, it is just no fun at all. I don’t really know how is it in countries more developed and civilized than mine, but in any case, I think that it is a lot better. I just read an article recently that was rising alarm signals that rock/metal press has completely vanished and only a few several web pages maintain the community alive with new about concerts, bands and new records. It is such a shame, but believe me, we deserve it.

I raged when I’ve seen the Best Of 2011. If accidents like Limp Bizkit or Slipknot are placed in the top 5 best bands of all time in 2011, then it means that the audience is completely unaware of the metal scene in the present day. Metallica as well, with an abominable album like Lulu, they were still voted as one of the best bands in 2011, even though this album was something that would make any Metallica fan (that isn’t an ass licker) to dislike the band. We like to vote bands just because they exist, and not because of their performance in the said year. Even Megadeth, which was awarded as the band with the best album release did not live to the expectations. I seriously started to hate Dave Mustaine for his recent declarations and his attitude towards christianity. Thinking back, this guy was a total anti-religious guy now he licks Jesus and this shitty religion like an asshole, you know what Dave, just get the fuck out of metal scene or turn back to the days when you were drug addicted and all satanic, those were the days when you even shined artistically and as a human being.

Enough with rants, we are here to review a new band, not a new album, but definitely one that will interest many and might attract some attention. A rather weird name for a band, Daemonicium. I honestly am not aware what inspired them when they chose this name but it’s clearly a derived name from the word “daemon”. This band approaches a symphonic black metal style, but a rather unique one, a sound that I haven’t heard in many bands. This is definitely not a Dimmu Borgir rip-off, nor as majestic as Emperor was in their early days and surely not as cheesy as Cradle of Filth, this is something else, something that combines elegance with brutality. And what do we have here, a female doing vocals for this band, just don’t expect mellow and clean vocals from her, because she will give you a hell of a performance with the usual shrieked vocals, mostly used in this genre.

Another thing that makes this band different than other symphonic black metal bands is their lyrical themes. They approach themes that refer to vampires, cthulhu, ancient empires and also state of spirits and madness. A rather unique way of approaching this genre. Even though Poland has a pretty well known and controversial extreme metal scene, with only this release Daemonicium did not manage to obtain a more favorable position among other black metal acts such as Darzamat or Vesania. Basically, the whole albums flows well, all the songs are connected and it ends the same way as it began. Even though this album was a self-produced and released one, it has a pretty good production quality.

What we expect from this album is not brutality and rawness but rather a type of atmospheric aspect. It is dark, it is creepy, it has its moments of aggressiveness but that’s it. The way this album was mixed was also pretty well chosen, even though much of the black metal feeling has been erased, you can still witness some blast beats and some tremolo picks. Because of the themes used in the lyrical content, you can even consider them approaching a gothic metal aspect as well. The album is rather simple, not much technique was used on it, there are some moments of guitar solo like in the second part of the longest track featured on this album, Through Time and Death… (Part I – Love & Part II – Landscape) and some bombastic drum beats, also included in this song.

Another thing that can be seen is that for an album, this one contains a small number of songs, only 6, usually a number that is preferred for extended plays. The difference is that the songs have a big length, shortest one being The Sinner’s Dream which spawns to almost 6 minutes, the rest vary from 7 minutes to 13 minutes, in conclusion, instead of a short 25-30 minute album you have an infamous 54 minutes album. Despite it’s ridiculous length it is not a boring record, like I said the sound just flows from a song to another, like they are connected and the spontaneous guitar solos, bombastic drum beats and especially the skillful use of atmospheric background sounds and keyboard usage makes this album a feast for the ears of every symphonic black metal lover.

Nobody can deny it, the keyboards is the main instrument and the primordial one in this album. It begins with it, it continues with it and it ends with it. However, we don’t have a Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth which abuses synths and keyboards so much that you ask yourself if you’re listening to extreme metal anymore, or if they just want it to seem like that? Daemonicium balances the extensive use of keyboards with guitar solos and riffs, blast drum beats and other instruments, this is probably the thing that makes them so unique compared to the mediocrity that we hear nowadays. The vocal work is very well done, Myst’s performance is pretty good, a kind of voice that I haven’t heard, especially when you think about that she is female, my wonder is who is doing the growls, because in the line-up it was not specified who did what in this album. Songs such asThe Jester reveal what I said about a perfect balance between all the instruments used in this album.

I can’t point a favorite song from this album, because all of them are good. All in all, this band did really well with this debut full length album, I just wished that they would’ve continued recording and not placing the band on-hold. With a promising album like this one and the quality that me, as a fan, received, I was left asking for more such albums. So, mainstream symphonic black metal bands, hear me out, just listen this record, fucking memorize the playing style and it’s name, pray for this band to revive from the dead and try to produce quality albums and not albums to fill the saturated market. Daemonicium, though haunted by anonymity and a shrewd past, might still have a word to say on the symphonic black metal. But seeing that they haven’t came up with anything new since 2004, I am left with doubts regarding a possible come back. I will hold this record dear, and it is definitely record that should stand into your shelf, so make space for it, throw out useless Dimmu Borgir records, and make a space for it.

Overall Impression: 90/100

Amon Amarth – Versus The World (2002) Album Review

With this review we shall venture once again in the realm of melodic death metal. We already reviewed one album that has a special place in this genre and also an astounding contribution as well, that was Amorphis‘ opus Eclipse with the incredible voice performed by Tomi Joutsen, an album that I would recommend to everyone that enjoys a band that combined the soft aspect of metal with extreme metal elements. Amon Amarth is also a special band that enters in the category of melodic death metal bands, but somehow, they are a little less accessible compared to Amorphis. However, it is one of the very few bands that succeeds in everything they do, even though you can easily witness the fact that all the songs are the same in every album, not featuring many changes, if any at all. It is one of those bands that are good at what they do, and they don’t need to change something in their playing style in order to impress the listener or not gather more members for their fan-base. Amon Amarth, even with their less accessible playing style, they kick ass at any time and even though people might not really appreciate extreme metal, it is hard to overlook such a band, it has that aspect that makes you interested and attracts you to listen some more.

From my point of view, this kind of band is suitable for males, because it mainly refers to the supremacy of males in society. The brutality, the war like screams, the aggressive riffs and the fast drumming is good enough for several moshpits and clashes among the crowd. What can I say, a perfect material if you wish to headbang until you blow your brains. One thing makes me angry about the fans of this band is that they consider it a viking metal band. Guys, I am not sure what you think, but simply because they use viking themes in their lyrical content does not mean they sing viking metal. Viking metal was originally created by Bathory with its mastermind Quorthon, and even though it still retained some extreme metal elements, they were mostly well hidden, giving a lot more space for atmospheric and bombastic moments or why not, some folk elements as well.

Amon Amarth, how much I wish for them to be part in this category, they aren’t, because their style does not even resume to 10% of the style Bathory approached in the mid career. It’s safe to say that they are a melodic death metal band, without a doubt. One thing that makes Amon Amarth less accessible is the constant use of grunt vocals and heroic or warrior like screams, performed by the founding member Johan Hegg. His vocals are pretty much understandable, unlike many vocalists that uses this voice technique and it emanates a lot of adrenaline and energy. Just book a ticket for one of their concert, you will know what I am talking about, these guys can surely pull out a hell of a show without much effort and they have the material they need in order to attract the audience and make it go nuts.

For me, Amon Amarth has always been a band that I would listen for a change of mood. It is a band that could turn a bad day into a good one, simply because it is not depressive, it is not mellow, but it is brutal and aggressive, something you need in order to tell the people that pissed you off, to fuck off. Amon Amarth is a band that also shows attitude, is a band that likes to perform in a spectacular way, and there are many that witnessed them with stage performers as well or with theatrical elements on the stage. The band focuses on lyrical themes such as warfare, vikings, destruction or Norse mythology. The fact that they refer to viking gods in many of their songs is not a thing that should take you by surprise and seeing that in history, the vikings were considered exceptional warriors, the warfare theme and the destruction one are pretty much welcomed.

Musically speaking, the band focuses a lot of the drumming part, it is the instrument that can be easily remarked while listening every possible Amon Amarth song, not only from this album but from their entire discography. It’s fast, sometimes maybe way too fast, bombastic at time and sets the rhythm and the mood in every song. On a second line comes the guitar riffs, which are also an important catalyst for every Amon Amarth song. Many songs feature guitar solos. Another thing that can be remarked is the fact that since the inception, the band has not really changed the line-up. Three original members are still present, except for the drummer and the second guitarist who were replaced in 1998. The band does not hesitate to condemn christianity for the fall of the viking civilization in songs such as For The Stabwounds In Our Backs and Thousand Years Of Oppression. It is easy to figure out the connection just by reading the titles. Death In Fire the introductory song was a wise choice for a song that begins a great album. With it’s thrash riff guitars and fast drumming, it sets the pace and already welcomes the listener to a full scaled war.

Since the lyrical themes in every song kind of repeats itself, and the songs do not feature many changes, except from some groove elements here and there, the album can be considered by some people monotonous, but in reality it isn’t. Normally I would also consider a band that recycles the same shit into every single song, but with Amon Amarth I don’t seen to have that problem. They know what they are doing, they are good at it, they don’t need to change shit in order to impress, because they can’t be more impressive than they already are. The band reveals a rather slower side in the last song …And Soon the World Will Cease to Be a well inspired title for an ending song. The beginning of the song is a lot more slower compared to the other tracks but it ends it in a brutal way, in an Amon Amarth way.

Recommending an album from this band is rather difficult, because every album they’ve made was just fucking brilliant and insanely aggressive and staggering. It is a pleasant for the ears, this coming from an extreme metal band, and it is a feast for males, because only they can understand what it means to be a true warrior and what it means to act the way Amon Amarth proclaims to. Unlike many melodic death metal bands, they do not use synths or keyboards, they create the melodic aspect through guitar riffs, which is one of their best selling points. Amon Amarth is one of those bands that easily broke into mainstream, with perseverance, with courage and with their own uniqueness and simplicity. Out of all their album, I wanted to write a review about this one, but I recommend listening to all of them, you will definitely find a feast for your ears.

Overall Impression: 97/100

Candlemass – Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986) Album Review

Boy, oh boy. Yesterday was a day when I had a mood to do nothing, just to hang around in my house, either listening to music or sleeping. There is a word where I live, more specifically for that kind of shitty weather where it is cloudy, it doesn’t rain but the sun won’t come out either, in other words, I kind of mood that encourages to stay at home, to sleep or to make children. Still I offered a pretty good insight of what After Forever was at the beginning of their splendid career, with probably the best album they released. I wanted to post some more yesterday because I had two days where shit interfered and I was left without time and mood to do another review. I will, probably soon, probably later, I won’t promise though all I can say is that it will happen…in the near future. Hopefully more delays won’t interfere ever again, but like I said, you never know when shit happens so you just better never promise anything, so that you might have an excuse.

How about we venture into the past a little bit? How about we explore a metal sub-genre that has not really been that often depicted in my reviews? Guess that everyone heard of doom metal through bands such as the classic three death/doom acts from the early 1990s like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. I am in the same boat as you guys. I came in touch with this genre through My Dying Bride which out of all I consider them the best and the most constant, a band that did not change much in their playing style since their inception. Probably the only change they’ve made is that they completely erased the death metal elements from their later works. Paradise Lost on the other hand has probably one of the most relevant death/doom metal album ever made, Gothic released back in 1991, which also defined and coined a new genre. Why I consider them inferior? Is because of their playing style from the mid career the all too friendly synthpop/synthrock style that completely annoyed me, though I was delighted when they turned back to their roots approaching a kind of gothic doom metal style in the most recent works. Anathema is the biggest disappointment out of all. Though their first albums are classics for the death/doom metal genre, the change in their style has surely bothered many. It was probably a way too radical change and too sudden, changing from a rather underground and unconventional playing style to a rather accessible and way too simplistic atmospheric rock style. Not saying that their works that approached this genre are bad, but it was a waste, considering that they reached a cult status with their early works.

Never mind about these bands, we are going to review the first opus made by Candlemass, a band that has it’s rost from the early 80s and they still are alive, kicking ass even today with the same old doom metal style. But when we speak about about Candlemass, we speak about a band that pioneered the doom metal genre at its purest form. Candlemass was formed back in 1982 under the name Nemesis where they released several demo tapes before changing the bands name to Candlemass in 1984. They are considered original pioneers of the early doom metal genre, coining a sub-division of it with their 1986 album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, the album that I will review today.

Doom metal is probably the first extreme metal genre. It was pinpointed firstly by early heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, more specifically, through the kind of riffs Tony Iommi experimented on the self-titled album. However, it would take more than a decade for this genre to really raise to the surface. The ones that did it for the first time were Candlemass alongside other acts like Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General (with their opus, Death Penalty released in 1982), Trouble and Pentagram. What we can immediately remark is that the US metal scene had much to say about the formation of the doom metal genre, 4 out of 5 of the earliest pioneers originating from the American continent. Candlemass is a Swedish band and unfortunately, one of the very few bands that approached this style from the Scandinavian countries. They inspired many, but not many bands from their own country.

Through this album, they pinpointed the name of a sub-division of doom metal, called epic doom metal. It differs from the original doom metal because it is heavily influenced by classical elements. The style of playing is not slow like in modern doom metal or in other sub-divisions, it is way more atmospheric and the vocals are clean, operatic, choral and the most important thing, it is not usually discarded by the instrumental or made to flow with it. It focuses a lot more on themes such as fantasy or mythology and the drumming style is rather bombastic.

The question is, why I believe that Candlemass’s opus is the best there is for this sub-division? Simple, it is well balanced, all the instruments used have a word to say, there isn’t a main act in which the focus should be placed upon, probably the only exception is the vocals, which has the biggest influence and it is complex through it’s simplicity. Hell, you can’t even feel that actually there guys play 2-3 notes that continuously repeat themselves (not like in drone doom, another doom metal sub-division) but it is so melodic and spectacular, that you barely notice this aspect. Can you believe that for this album Candlemass did not even have a permanent vocalist? Surely, they had a drummer, bassist and guitarist but the vocalist was actually a guest performer in the name of Johan Langquist, a man with an extraordinary voice. His vocals are so deep and atmospheric, it is hard to claim that the vocal act could be bad. It maintains a dose of melancholy but at the same time, it does not refrain from going to a higher pitched voice, something that is not specific to other doom metal acts from the 90s onward. For the first time I could call a doom metal album catchy, a characteristic that should be an antonym for every doom metal record.

The tracks are memorable because of the vocal performance and rarely by the instrumental performance. Like I said, the band no, rather the genre, does not require difficult and complex playing style. To achieve a doom metal playing style you need to play in a simplistic manner. The guys do make use of guitar solos throughout songs such as Black Stone Wielder or Crystal Ball. Another thing specific for a doom metal record is the length of the songs. Even though the record features only 6 tracks, they are all longer than 5 minutes some of them reaching 9 minutes, accumulating to a total of 43 minutes in just 6 fucking songs. The best track of this record in my opinion is Under The Oak. Holy mother of dark desires, I can’t get out of my head the guitar solo from the beginning of the song, it was absolutely stunning, not to mention Johan’s performance which is rather more personal in this song, hint offered by the lyrical content as well. I almost forgot about the lyrical content, an aspect crucial to every doom metal album, all of them might pinpoint themes such as mythology or fantasy, but they are not optimistic nor happy ones, rather sad ones and pessimistic ones.

Epicus Doomicus Metallicus stands at the top of my list of best doom metal albums ever made and Candlemass will remain for a long time one of the biggest influences for this genre. Even though this sub-division of this doom metal style does not have many bands that would make it proud, Candlemass is plenty enough, and this album shows it why. As long as Candlemass will exist, epicness will also exist in doom metal. If you want a different kind of doom metal, other than the one played by the 90s doom metal acts, then check out this Candlemass opus, you won’t be disappointed. If you are a fan of Black Sabbath, you will enjoy this album too, as it just continues what Tony Iommi already experimented in one of the best heavy/doom metal albums, Black Sabbath.

Overall Impression: 100/100

After Forever – Prison Of Desire (2000) Album Review

I had to come up with a review about this album since I specifically mentioned it when I reviewed Epica‘s 2007 opus, The Divine Conspiracy. After Forever is one of the most important female fronted symphonic gothic metal band. A band that rivaled for years with another important dutch symphonic metal band, Within Temptation. If I have to find the most appropriate band that would compete with this one in the style approached, Tristania would be the perfect choice, since both bands introduced clean female vocals and harsh male vocals, a continuation of the “beauty and the beast” concept developed by precursors such as The Gathering (when Anneke van Giersbergen joined them) and Theatre of Tragedy (with Liv Kristine as the front woman). After Forever’s style of play is not far from what Nightwish used to play in their early years but there are several difference that need to be mentioned.

The first one stands in the style of vocals Floor Jansen has to offer. Her voice is nothing compared to Tarja Turunen, she does not sing in higher tone, she does not possess a high pitched voice, so, in other words, the style that band approached had to fit her style of singing as well. Basically, instead of choosing an operatic style like Nightwish did, they wanted to approach a symphonic style influenced by gothic metal as well. Now, people claim that it is hard to label After Forever as a gothic metal band. Surely the female clean vocals are there, we have a choir, we have harsh male vocals, but it is still not enough. However, it is nor right nor wrong, gothic metal fans will definitely think of After Forever as one such band and they will surely love it. Floor Jansen‘s voice, without further adds, it is a normal voice, the thing that makes her voice special, is the style developed by After Forever’s creator, Mark Jansen, the man that will pave the style for his future project Epica, after leaving in 2002 from After Forever, band that will change their style a little bit as well.

I want to say that After Forever shined while Mark Jansen was in the band. The style they play in this album is much more spicy and unique than the one approached after his departure. Floor’s voice is mysterious and much more intense in this album, Mark Jansen’s vocal performances are also as good as they can be, influenced a little bit by early death metal acts such as Chris Barnes when he was still a member of Cannibal Corpse. Though the fact that he chose grunts over growls, made this band seem more gothic than death metal, even though gothic metal is a style that derived from death metal.

Through this album you can hear more than one influence. We can sense death metal influences given by the harsh vocal performance, we can witness a combination between symphonic and gothic metal when Floor’s voice kicks ass, the instrumental from time to time gets more mellow and melancholic, indicating some doom metal influence. A thing that needs to be mentioned about After Forever is that they originally were an Iron Maiden cover band and when they started recording, they chose to approach a death metal style until Floor Jansen joined them and forced them to expand their horizons towards different playing styles.

For a debut album, Prison of Desire is a solid one, an album that shows a lot of promise, an album indicating an After Forever that in the future might get more attention with such high quality releases. The style they introduced has a different touch, a touch that was not felt in other symphonic or gothic metal acts. If we judge by timeline, they released this opus at the same time Tristania released theirs. So we cannot speak about a band that copy/pasted the style of another band.

Like I said in Epica’s The Divine Conspiracy album review, The Embrace That Smothers story has been introduced with this album. It is featured in songs such as Mea Culpa (The Embrace That Smothers – Prologue), Leaden Legacy (The Embrace That Smothers – Part I), Follow In The Cry (The Embrace That Smothers – Part II) and Yield to Temptation (The Embrace that Smothers, Pt. III). Pretty solid songs so to say, all of them showing a nice harmony created by the perfect usage of choir performances, offered by artists such as Hans Cassa, Caspar De Jonge, Yvonne Ronda and Melissa ‘t Hart. One thing can be quickly observed in this album. It was not intended to be heavy at all, absolutely all songs are approached in the same manner. The element that might make this opus inaccessible might be Mark Jansen’s grunted vocals, even I believe that the opus might’ve been probably a little bit better without them, since this record is pretty much intended for a wider audience, thus much more accessible in sound and vocal performance.

Songs such as Black Tomb and Tortuous Threnody remark themselves through their length, exceeding over 6 minutes in length. If I were to choose the best tracks from this opus, I’d go with Semblance of Confusion, the third track preceded by the first two tracks from The Embrace That Smothers mini story, Ephemeral, probably one of the softest tracks in this record, and one of the most melancholic ones and the last one, Beyond Me, a track that features a splendid performance offered by Within Temptation’s front woman, Sharon Den Adel. Her voice together with Floor Jansen’s one make one of the most brilliant duets, both of them being important representatives of the female movement within the metal scene, and why not, probably the most well known metal performers around the globe. Sharon Den Adel has a voice that is very similar with Floor’s, a normal one, not a soprano vocalist.

To conclude with this opus, you will definitely find something interesting in it. A perfect combination between choirs and metal elements, a perfect duo given by Floor and Sharon Den Adel, some interesting harsh vocals offered by Mark Jansen, who wants to continue “the beauty of the beast” concept with this band as well and an interesting approach of the symphonic metal genre. I had the luck to see After Forever before their disbandment in 2009, definitely a band that was worth to be seen on stage. They used to offer great performances, too bad that they had to disband so early and with so few opuses offered as legacy. Nonetheless, After Forever fans have not forgotten them, and their music will be carried on by the people that witnessed this bands glorious years. Too bad I could not see them with Mark Jansen in the line-up, but an Epica that is probably much better, and much more mature than After Forever was at that time, I think that it is enough and satisfactory as it is. I support the bands that would just go out of business instead of dragging themselves with severe line-up changes or instability or with clearly a lack of quality in their works. After Forever was not a band that offered a lack of quality in their opuses, so I definitely regret the fact that they had to disband so soon. I’m still glad their music lives on, and it will be around for quite a while, since their contribution was not insignificant. Prison Of Desire might not be their best album, but it was a good album for their debut, it is definitely worth listening.

Overall Impression: 82/100

Mayhem – Deathcrush (1987) Album Review

I admit it, I can’t get enough of Mayhem. Mayhem for me is like Black Sabbath for the old and nostalgic metal fans. Indeed, Black Sabbath was, is, and will be for a long time, a source of inspiration for many bands to come, for many that just surfaced and for many that will continue to haunt the metal scene as time fades to black. Mayhem is one such ghost, a rather agitated one, severely punished and tortured by unfortunate events since their inception, but a band that showed musical talent and a lot of promises. Sure, in the reviews I made for Mayhem about the latest album (though if latest can be considered 2007) and their jewelry De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (probably the best black metal release) released back in 1994, I underlined the facts that the band got known not through their music, but through other kind of events. The death of Per Yngve Ohlin (known under the nickname Dead) who committed suicide back in 1991 and the murder of Euronymous in 1993, the mastermind behind this project, affected the playing style of the band severely, but I felt a glimpse of hope when Rune Eriksen (Blasphemer) joined the band immediately after it reformed. However, the past was what made Mayhem notorious, and the past was marked by pure violence and hatred against society and religion.

Deathcrush is one such record. A record filled with hatred, a record filled with rawness and above all, a record that promotes violence through both musical approach and lyrical content. It also shows attitude, it shows how early black metal should be like, a kind of black metal that was unheard of until then, probably, the only band that could’ve been on par with this record at that time was Bathory with their first 3 exceptional black metal records. Seriously now, Deathcrush can hardly be considered an album. You can’t just barge in and claim that an 18-minute length record could be considered an album, but rather an EP. Even though it features more than 2-3 songs, the number of songs specific for an EP, the length of the songs is pretty short, varying from 1 minute to 3 minutes. But this does not change the fact that it is a good record. Honestly, I’ve given up on the shitty things, whether it is an album or an extended play, just fuck it, Euronymous and the gang surely did not care about this crap at that time, neither do I, neither the true Mayhem fans. This disc is intended for those that understand Mayhem beyond the unfortunate and rather outrageous events that happened within the band, and around the band. The fact that these events made them well known is not a good thing for them, because the musical aspect will eventually be placed on the second row.

This record was recorded back in 1987 and released in the same year. For this record, the leader of the band, Euronymous, decided to hire two vocalists. One of them is Maniac, a man that will eventually take the mic once again for the band when the band will be reunited in 1995. The other one is Messiah, a rather unknown man, an even more unknown vocalist, a mysterious personality so to say which is surprising, mainly because everyone that interacted with Mayhem got to be known in a way or another, be it good or bad. Instead of doing the vocals himself like he did on the first demo, Pure Fucking Armageddon, Euronymous reduced himself as a guitar only player for this record. The other members were Manheim at drums and Necrobutcher at bass, the well known founding members of Mayhem.

But what can we expect from Deathcrush? Simple, rawness and more rawness. This is how metal should sound at its most violent level. It is indiscriminately, one of the most impressive and brutal records ever made. The production sucks badly, we know why, black metal should be raw and hard to approach, only this way we can feel the magic of this genre. Cheesy high production quality is, in my opinion, specific for those bands that tend to break into mainstream, however, Mayhem clearly went with the trend specific for that time. We had the old Celtic Frost records, the brutality specific for the Hellhammer records, probably the most brutal records before Deathcrush was released, we also have Bathory’s 3 albums, not too much to count on, but this is how the early black metal scene was like, limited, isolated, deep underground and unconventional.

Euronymous for me is a fucking genius. Even though many people claim that he was a weirdo himself, and that he did not really have much to be proud of, he was indeed, a talented and creative guitar player and music composer. If even Fenriz from Darkthrone credited him for creating the black metal riffs played nowadays by the majority of black metal bands, then without a doubt, he was a genius. The dude was a well known extremist and a follower of the cult of Satan, but even so, he did not manifest himself violently at the time Deathcrush came to surface.

The record features 8 songs, 2 of them being instrumentals, or rather preludes or prologues and another one a cover of Venom‘s Witching Hour, a pretty well chosen song for a cover, and a well executed one as well. Now to tell you the truth, don’t put an effort on understanding what the vocalist says, because you’re wasting your time. Black metal was not made in order for people to understand every word the vocalist says, but to feel the music. Lyrical content comes from your own study, like a sort of homework done by kids for school tomorrow. I have to admit that Manheim was not a bad drummer, but not as good as the current one, Hellhammer. Hellhammer was seriously fit for Mayhem and for this genre, not only his attitude and conceptions were what Mayhem wanted, but his skills as a drummer as well, which are top notch. Manheim overall has a good performance, but I cannot omit his sloppy performances on songs such as the beginning one Silvester Anfang, where his drumming is out of rhythm completely.

Songs such as Chainsaw Gutsfuck and Necrolust put this album into the spotlight, being the most violent and aggressive tunes featured on this album. What can you say when you hear lyrics such as “Bleed down to the fucking core / You’re going down for fucking more / Screw your slimy guts / Driving me fucking nuts!” or “Your stinking corpse I desire / Nothing can take me higher / Fucking you till your bones break / Another one has to die”? You can only feel the brutality that this band wanted to send to the listener. The self titled track Deathcrush is also a pretty interesting one but not at the level of the aforementioned ones, however, Manheim’s drumming featured on this song is far better than in other song from this record. Another interesting song is Pure Fucking Armageddon, which is as brutal as the previous ones.

To tell you the truth, this record cannot be considered as pure black metal. It is indeed raw, it is indeed heavy, it is very brutal and clearly aggressive, but death metal was aggressive too at that time, thrash metal as well, elements that this record seem to have too. It can be seen that thrash metal elements have not been removed yet, and death metal elements are featured especially on the lyrical content, but it shows clearly that we are in for a surprise in the near future. Mayhem through this record showed promise and huge expectations developing a prototype of the future black metal sound.

All in all, this record is intended for genuine Mayhem fans and not for creepy fan-boys and wannabe fans. This record is the one that shows who is a true Mayhem fan, because we have a Mayhem here more violent than never. Time might’ve tamed these guys, but their style hasn’t changed that much over the years. Surely, the most important record they offered was the second album, and Deathcrush can be considered an inferior or not in contrast with the other Mayhem records (Wolf’s Layer Abyss, Chimera, Ordo Ad Chao). I won’t recommend this one to metal fans. Those that have it in themselves will find out that the album chooses them, the same like it chose me. If out of 1000 people, or any number of people that visits this blog, just 1 gives a try to this album and actually likes it, then that guy is a true Mayhem fan, and I take my hat off for him. If not, hey, soft music exists, so leave this beauty just for me and for a few select fans. Not all Mayhem fans appreciate this record, though like I said, you can’t be a true Mayhem fan if you don’t pass the Deathcrush test!! (inserts evil laughter)

Overall Impression: 80/100

Epica – The Divine Conspiracy (2007) Album Review

Do you remember the words I said back when I reviewed Xandria‘s new opus? That this year other bands might come up with interesting releases for the symphonic/gothic metal genre? Well, Epica is one of the highest anticipated artists that have an album ready to be unleashed this fucking month! With a title like Requiem for the Indifferent, Epica will continue their compelling stories about agony, sadness, love, hope, mythology and long lost civilization, revealing many more aspects that they’ve yet to discover and why not, we might be in for surprises as well, just hope they will be pleasant ones. This year began great so to say, we had the new Alcest opus that was absolutely fantastic, we have the new Xandria opus which revived a long lost era for the symphonic metal genre and soon we will get Epica’s new opus, which might have a big weight for the future.

Enough about the future, we now turn back in time to another Epica, a band that released back in 2007 a new album entitled The Divine Conspiracy. The first thing interesting about the album is the title, a title that is meant to attract the listener with a compelling story, a story that mainly refers about religions. Basically, this can be considered as a conspiracy theory unleashed by the divinity. Notice that I didn’t say god? Well, those who know me are aware of my radical thoughts about religion. I do not believe in the existence of a god through these atrocities called organized religions, though I believe that a creator does exist and that nothing was created out of the blue. Epica basically introduces us in a story where divinities released in the world a certain number of religions and then they gave the people the right to choose them with a certain mission, to find the correct one, the true religion. This is the premise, though the real reason behind this is that people need to encounter them, to understand them and eventually to overcome them in order to reach the universal truth, that all religions are the same in the end and that none of them is wrong neither right. Some people might thing that this album has an atheistic approach but believe me, it is more than that, it is simply a belief transposed into 13 tracks. Atheistic or not, I think that in this genre, we should cast aside our religious beliefs, because in order to understand this musical genre, religion is nothing more than a burden, an obstacle, a kind of thing that makes our thoughts and minds limited.

A few words about the band Epica. It was founded back in 2003 by a former member of After Forever, Mark Jansen. It is a dutch band that approaches genres such as symphonic, gothic, power and neo-classical metal. As of 2012, Epica has released 5 albums (the 6th is coming soon), 1 live album, 1 EP, 1 DVD, 2 Split Albums, 1 Compilation and 10 Singles. They proved through songs such as The Phantom Agony, Quietus, Feint, Solitary Ground, Never Enough, Unleashed or Dance of Fate, a wide variety of styles and approaches, an interesting vocal performance, and an interesting playing style as well. Basically, Epica represents what After Forever meant in the 90s and beginning of 2000s before Mark Jansen’s departure from this band. The quality present in Epica’s records has been constant, probably because of the very few line-up changes, the band maintaining 4 out of 6 of the original founding members, with the core member Mark Jansen in the spotlight, and the mesmerizing songstress Simone Simons as the goddess.

This album also marks the ending of the The Embrace That Smothers saga, a saga that began from the early days of After Forever in the album Prison of Desire and finished on The Divine Conspiracy. On The Divine Conspiracy, there are 4 songs which are part of this concept, songs such as La‘petach Chatat Rovetz (The Final Embrace), Death of a Dream (The Embrace That Smothers, Part VII), Living a Lie (The Embrace That Smothers, Part VIII) and Fools of Damnation (The Embrace That Smothers, Part IX). These songs contain a more accentuated anti-religious theme in contrast with the other ones featured on the opus, it approaches a rather sensible subject such as dangers involved in organized religions. So what can we see in this new Epica opus? A much darker atmosphere, a much better use of symphonic and orchestral elements, the same bombastic sound that impressed in early After Forever and in early Epica works as well, elements of speed and death metal (mostly given by the rough vocals performed by Mark Jansen, performing both gothic kind of growls and death screams in several songs), and the most profound aspect, an angry Epica. This album combines a series of emotions and feelings such as sorrow, sadness, hope, love, anger and desperation, offering both heavy, speedy, and dark elements in every song featured on this opus.

As always, Simone Simons voice is staggering. Even though she is not a soprano singer, with the singing lessons that she received from Amanda Sommerville, she managed to pull out splendid performances on all Epica albums. I came in contact with this band after I heard her performance in a Kamelot song, The Haunting (Somewhere In Time), where she made an excellent and perfect duo with Roy Khan. She is one of the most promising rising female vocalists in the metal scene, a very young artist at only 27 years old. Same like Kamelot’s Roy Khan, she manages to convey the emotions specific in every song to the listener, offering a splendid performance both on studio songs and especially in live performance, where this band is a feast for the eyes and ears of every metal lover. Mark Jansen has also a pretty big role to play as well with his harsh vocal performance which are present in every song of this album.

The album begins with a 7-minute track entitled The Obsession Devotion which was preceded by a prelude Indigo. From this first song you can feel the heaviness specific on this album. You can really feel that musically, the band has improved since their first opus and experimented a lot coming up with their unique trademark and style. Menace of Vanity continues this album offering a stunning audible experience, fast pace, emotional vocals and epic guitar playing. Chasing the Dragon is probably the most remarkable song featured on this album, a song that debuts in a slow-paced way with Simone’s voice flowing over an acoustic guitar performance and keyboard performance, turning afterwards into a heavy song, accompanied by a splendid orchestral performance, the best point this album features as well as a pretty well performed drumming. Sancta Terra, like the title says is a tribute to our planet, and in my opinion, a song that fights on par with the aforementioned one. It is a lot slower compared to the other songs featured on this album, but this is the point that makes it more unique and much more interesting, the bass guitar is much more predominant in this song while the guitar playing has been down-tuned a lot. Other interesting songs are, The Divine Conspiracy, the infamous 13-minute giant, Never Enough a song that strays a little bit from the Epica sound that we are used to, although I believe this song was mostly made for a commercial purpose and Fools of Damnation.

There are some songs that also kinda tick you off and might remove the pleasure felt in the first half of the album. Songs such as Death Of A Dream which is part of The Embrace That Smothers story excessively combines orchestral acts with metal elements and in some intervals it might seem a little bit chaotic and unorganized, a perfect mood breaker in other words. The voices are barely audible because of the instrumentals that block them.

This album features 3 bonus tracks as well, one of them being Replica, a Fear Factory cover song. A pretty energetic song and a rather interesting pick for a cover song. It does not fit in for Epica since the song differs a lot from their own style, but it is a pretty impressive performance, especially given by the two main vocalists. Simone’s performance is reduced in this song while Mark Jansen is the one that holds the ropes and pulls the strings with insane screaming vocals and grunts that would raise the dead from their graves. Replica, in my opinion, is the heaviest song featured on this opus.

All in all, Epica fans, you won’t be disappointed by this one. Basically, this band has done nothing more than improvement throughout the years, and this opus is a living proof. All the members are young musicians with a lot of potential. But what does make Epica such a distinctive band in a genre that you really cannot expect to overthrow some limitations, without venturing in the mysterious forests of experimental structures? Let me tell you something, it is the orchestra that makes Epica different. I don’t mean that other bands don’t use it, but an orchestra differs from one to another, and the way Epica places it in their songs is just perfect and offers an unique sound. Simone’s voice is another major aspect of originality that is oozing from this band, as her vocals are not that common in this genre, she manages to climb up to soprano voice and also pull out splendid mezzo-soprano performances, present in Never Enough. This album is just another one that shows promise, expectations and improvements. I recommend it with my whole being!

Overall Impression: 95/100

Black Countess – The Language Of Flesh (2006) Album Review

Holy mother of dark desires. Two fucking days that I have not been writing anything on this blog. Though I stated many times that I wanted to post at least 1 review per day, things don’t usually go how I want them to. Occasionally some people come knocking to my door asking to go out for some booze and spend time doing other shit. I usually don’t make promises, because there will always be a slight chance that I might not keep them, so instead of it being misunderstood and my word being turned against me, I’d rather hold my horses. Though, about the “hold your horses” thing, I brought an interesting review about a rather special album, special for males and something that females might not like. This is not a proper present for 1st of March, however, women have a day only for themselves, so I need to reward the guys too, with a pleasure that only women can offer. So be prepared, keep your hormones in control, if you’re a cardiac be sure to take your pills, because we’ve got Black Countess, a Russian band born in Ulyanovsk (heck if I know where that is), created by Ilya Polagushin, an interesting Russian figure. This statement does not really come only from his opera, but from his looks too, I swear that when I saw his picture for the first time, I thought he was one of those gorgeous, long-haired goth women. The guy looks like he is ripped-off from a vampire tale, sucking the blood of all females and only considers them as sexual tools.

The sexual tool thing is for real. While reading the lyrics in all his works in Black Countess, you can only find erotica references. His view towards women is sort of extreme, rather merciless, he does not view them as equal human beings, that could stand at a man’s side, but only in a man’s bed, a tool to satisfy one’s dark desires. I mean, in this album you can even find in lyrics, statements that prove to be against the bands that have only females in their line-up, such example is a Japanese band called Gallhammer, which has an only women line-up (heck I would’ve picked up some other bands like Blackthorn, which is even from the same country like him, they have more than 2 members at least lol, and the chicks are much more sexy than the two Asian figures from Gallhammer). You only need to glance at the album cover to figure out the intentions and the thoughts that this man has in his mind. When I first bought the album I thought that the whole thing with the cover was a joke, for sales purpose, but I was much more surprised when I saw that this is not a shallow work, meant for the sake of distribution only. It is certainly not an album made just to add one more record to a saturated market, even though there are bands that play a similar style.

I stated in a previous review that playing a similar style is not a sin nor it is plagiarism. The metal genres are limited, in fact, I would be much more grateful that there is so much diversity in the metal realm, considering that other musical genres do not dare to get out of their own limitations, and the recipe remained the same since their formation, having a central figure as its own creator, the rest just some mere copy/paste artists that became famous through over the top promotion, publicity and display. Metal is not such a genre, diversity is its best point but at the same time its own weakness, as conflicts are many and quite stupid between fans that justify themselves as metal fans but they limit themselves to certain genres, excluding the other ones, hypocritical bastards.

Black Countess offers a decent performance in this record. Casting aside the fact that it uses erotic themes in more ways that just lyrical content, the musical approach is not that bad either. It stands somewhere between the old Cradle of Filth and the actual Graveworm, combining extreme metal such as black metal with elements of doom metal and gothic metal (mostly featured in the imagery though). I actually came in contact with this album through Cradle of Filth, and found out that the similarities between these two bands are quite deep and are quite many, except for the erotic themes.

I am a fan of both old and new Cradle of Filth, not to mention a loyal Graveworm fan, but as for the first one, I sensed since quite a while ago their different approach to their music, changing from the rather good and more extreme symphonic black metal (not the symphonic black metal played by Dimmu Borgir, a better version, featured on the first 3-4 albums) into a commercial/mainstream style, switching to a gothic kind of playing style. You can barely recognize Cradle of Filth as a black metal band nowadays, pretty much every aspect that black metal has, it completely disappeared or it’s been hidden on purpose. Not the same thin happens with Black Countess. The black metal elements are still there, the tone is much more melancholic compared to Cradle of Filth and it is not buried in synths and keyboards like CoF or DB. The guitar riffs are rather boring and monotonous throughout the entire album with a few exceptions in songs such as Demonica or The History of a Witching Forest, the last one even showing hints of some techno elements.

What makes this album stand out are the synths. They are a pleasure to the ear, even though we speak about a rather raw and unconventional musical style, but they do manage to impress and they do not discard the black metal elements featured on this album. The keyboards, unlike the synths cannot fight on par but they are definitely better than the guitar performance. The bass lines are totally hidden and the drum style is specific to black metal drummers. The lyrics on this album are much more styled and give a hint of inspiration compared to the ones featured on older works. Ilya Polagushin’s voice is also quite good, his voice not being so high pitched like Dani’s but it is a pretty good voice.

All in all, Black Countess is the wet dream of every perverted guy, that follows his desires. I agree on one thing, this guy is total maniac, the way he thinks about women nowadays could be considered extreme, so I don’t recommend this album to the feminine side. Though for a male, it is something that might give him a little bit of pleasure, and not only a musical pleasure to the ears. It shows the fact that man is the one that gets to rule over woman, it shows that man is superior. If I were in Russia, I might’ve thought the same, knowing that the country is fucking filled with beauties that would make every guy drooling. Though we live in a modern world, a democratic world, so we must think about equality between sexes. But once in a while, we males need to release our fantasies from our minds and from our souls.

Ilya Polagushin is not the average guy though, in this album he did like 90% of the entire work. He composed the music for the soundtracks, he wrote the lyrics, and he played most of the instruments on most of the songs with several exceptions. The album also has a good production quality, so I believe that we don’t really have a DIY system implemented in this album. So, if you are a male, and you want something different from metal, not in musical structure and style, but in concept and content, check out Black Countess’s The Language of Flesh. If you are a woman, I advice you to turn away from this one, that’s if you have a radical position about misogynists. Cradle of Filth fans will not have a problem with loving this band, though I think that it is much better and offers much better records than the current Cradle of Filth. Sink into your dark perverted desires and listen this record, it is a new experience!

Overall Impression: 75/100