Darkspace – a product of the 21st century. (12” vinyl release)

darkspace_logo
The (black) metal music industry in Switzerland was never too productive, however, back in the days it was still able to create such huge names as Celtic Frost or Hellhammer. The subject of this review is also a Swiss metal project called Darkspace. The band consists of three strangely named humanoids: ZorghZhaaral and Wroth, who formed their union in Bern back in 1999. Wroth, aka Tobias Mockl whose work under the name Paysage d’Hiver is definitely apparent in Darkspace. The music they created unintentionally laid down the foundation stone of some new genres of metal, namely dark ambient black metal, space black metal or atmospheric black metal. Perhaps these new sub-genres sound a bit clichéd but in respect of the end result, which is the music itself, it doesn’t really matter.

Even if they didn’t carve their name on the wall of Hall of Fame (yet) despite their short existenece the works of Darkspace deserves our attention.

Darkspace unleashed their first two recorded tracks as a demo in 2002 titled Darkspace -1. The original version of these songs are still available to download from the official site of the band but it wasn’t officially released till 2012. In that year the re-recorded material came out in two different formats, CD and vinyl. It was an excellent debut -and it still is- from a freshly formed band and their first steps already anticipated what can we expect from them in the future. During the years 3 full albums have been released but only this EP is available in vinyl format.

The sound of the black disc is jaw dropping. I most certainly like the old recordings as well but the difference between that and the vinyl format is Heaven and Earth.

Dark Space -1 Prägung2.cdr

The EP is nearly half an hour long, which is pretty long if you consider it only includes two tracks. The tracks are simply numbered like -1.-1 and -1.0. Neither on this demo nor on any other Darkspace album there are no titles at all. This fact gives us the impression of a digital data mass as it doesn’t similar to any musical release.

As I mentioned above this is an attempt of a new trend. Darkspace has a futuristic soundscape which opens new dimensions of extreme music. As we listen to the vinyl we can somehow feel as if this material wasn’t from this world. It is more like something was transmitted from the farthest corner of the unknown universe. This impression is not surprising because the purpose of their tracks was to summon the cold and lifeless environment of the eternal dark space.

Those who feel open for something new and can accommodate the extraordinary Darkspace is a definite must to listen to.

Advertisements

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult – Evoking A Decade (Self-Released, Reissued, 2008)

’Evoking a Decade’ is the double, self-released album of the German Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult or D.N.S. for short. This 2-CD record was released in honour of the band’s 10th anniversary. The issue contains the songs of the band’s first EP in two version. CD 1 contains the songs originally recorded in 1997, whereas CD 2 holds the same songs recorded during the years 2001-2007.

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult - Evoking A Decade - Digipack

You can call this band everything but mediocre. Their professionalism has been always there from the early start and album is a perfect proof of that. A nice combination of incredible riffs, furious drum sessions and fast bass as well as slower, more subdued sessions aso characterise all the songs. What is being done here is not something you hear every day. In fact, the voice of singer Onielar could be envied by many of the representatives of the stronger sex. Her voice is fuelled with anger and hatred, which shows how serious they are about what they do.

The main difference between the original and the re-recorded songs is that the sound of re-recorded songs became much clearer during the years but doesn’t really give anything more to the listeners. Nevertheless, the Collectors Edition featuring a total of 5 songs will not cause any disappointment for the fans of true and kult black metal, even if you only got to know the band through one of their latest releases.

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult - Evoking A Decade - Inside (4-5)

It is also worth saying a few words about the package. It was released as a high quality A5 format digipack limited to 1000 copies. The whole package is decorated with medieval woodcut-like graphics, which is by the way a well-known feature of all of their records. The digipack also includes an 8-page booklet which also contains a short biography. I may say that the outer appearence very well matches the inner content. Definitely a must have for collectors!

Tracklist:

Evoking A Decade – CD 1 (23:10)
1-1 Ars Moriendi 3:44
1-2 Slaughtercult 3:33
1-3 The Pest Called Humanity 5:52
1-4 Saldor 5:22
1-5 Centuries Of Mine 4:36
Evoking A Decade – CD 2 (23:07)
2-1 Ars Moriendi 3:38
2-2 Slaughtercult 3:15
2-3 The Pest Called Humanity 5:32
2-4 Saldor 5:54
2-5 Centuries Of Mine 4:45

Shining – The Darkroom Sessions (2004)

[AllCDCovers]_shining_the_darkroom_sessions_2005_retail_cd-front

I believe there are only a few who has not come across the Swedish Shining, infamous for their brutal and mazochistic performances. It is true, though, that they have backed off and the „cult leader” band leader Kvarforth’s insanity was also successfully cured by the good album sales statistics. Not taking these facts into account and concentrating only on the music one will soon realise that they are worth the attention. I myself gladly listen to their later albums as well but the object of my present review is one of their older records.

In 2004 they gladdened their, by that time quite large fan base with a Best of – twin release, one of which was The Darkroom Sessions. The record contains six songs all together, however I don’t feel they worth being analysed one by one because the whole album turned out to be pretty tedious. The songs, except the 8:30-minute long Mörda Dig Själv, being around 9-10 minutes long don’t help on this fact but the mostly instrumental pieces make the listener to let the disc spin on. These tracks were not written with the purpose of collective entertainment at all. Each of them has got the features of depressive black metal so the desired atmosphere would come through more successfully if one trys to receive them alone.

In beginning of the track Ett Liv Utan Mening the figuratively speaking brilliant acoustic guitar run made up of only a few notes tears the listener out of the constant, buzzing stream of riffs and has a pleasing and calming effect on the properly tortured ears. Somehow the entire album works at the higher acoustic range and it looks as if the whole lower part was missing, which can be pretty annoying after a while. Luckily the above mentioned „softer” parts can be caught several times on the album. The last song offers some change by giving the opportunity of listening to Kvarforth’s wailing vocal which crowns this far from perfect but by all means well selected collection from the early works of Shining.

The content of the record as well as its outlook turned out literally grey as well. There is nothing in the cover but the singer’s wasted face who is trying to threaten us with a knife but it makes him look rather ridiculous than serious.

To sum it up, they managed to make a rather good compilation. Those who know mainly the band’s recently released albums but would like to know more about heir early style I can recommend listening to this record to get acquainted with the authentic Shining atmosphere.

Tracklist:

A1 Mörda Dig Själv 8:30
A2 Fields Of Faceless 10:04
A3 Ett Liv Utan Mening 9:01
B1 Svart Industriell Olycka 9:04
B2 Självdestruktivitetens Emissarie 8:24
B3 Ännu Ett Steg Närmare Total Utfrysning 9:30

Xasthur – Defective Epitaph (2007)

[AllCDCovers]_xasthur_defective_epitaph_2007_retail_cd-front

To those fans who are so to speak more familiar with not only the mainstream but the real black metal it is not necessary to introduce the American band, Xasthur counting a total of one member.  Master Malefic chose a path to put his feet on back in 1995 and he still has not left it. Nothing proves this better than the same atmosphere that was created in the first years still penetrates  Defective Epithap, which is the sixth studio album besides many other demos, splits and EPs. His music is so majestic that each track could be considered as a poem without a doubt. We can also see it as the music accompanying or providing background for any form of death, therefore most tracks are closer to the ambient genre than to black metal.

Personally I believe that with Subliminal Genocide Xasthur reached a point which is very hard to beat. Although he couldn’t reach further than that record but still managed to compose something great again.  The 12-track record was difficult to digest at first and it wasn’t the sweeping speed that caught my ears but the characteristic atmosphere that was created throughout the whole album.

The first song titled Soulles Elegy, which is a relatively fast-paced one, opens the album in medias res. It can be defined as an intro with its clattering drum and piano sessions and with its less than 3-minute length it is also the shortest track on the album.  It is quite a strange piece and I also don’t think it can stand on its own so no wonder it became the opening track. Soulles Elegy also reveals something of the transcendent nature of the album.  The next one is a personal favourite, the sluggish and instrumental Purgatory Spiral. The tight five minutes of Dehumanizing Procession passes by in a similar mood but here Malefic makes his demonic voice heard. The Oration of Ruin evokes the first few seconds of the album as well as the song Warship (the war against) Yourself, the latter of which has a certain haunting sound that invites us to follow it to the total annihiliation. And we most certainly do so. The Memorial to the Waste of Life is a cathartic insanity, if I may say so. Fast and slow paced parts alternate here and this is the first song where the bass is clearly distinctive from the thick and noisy mass. We’ve been listening the album for about an hour now and by this time we are completely got carried away by the deep, depressive feeling and overwhelming loathe of ourselves and the whole mankind. The last song, Unblessed Be brings the same atmosphere as the previous songs. The only difference, though, is that this very song is more tormenting and agonising, as if we were lying in our coffins and listening to the dead march on our own funeral  for very long minutes until only the penetrating silence remains.

603x306-hhi-xasthur

All in all, the album is definitely a masterpiece but it was not meant for everyday listening. The whole look of the CD is in complete accordance with the music. The cover depicts a cemetary with tombstones with the titles of the songs engraved, which also makes up for those incomplete or defective epitaph. It is important to be tuned in to the mood of the album, although you should be daring and determined  to listen to the record again and again. And therefore taking the risk to leave that certain mythical boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Hydra Head Records (HH666-130) 27/09/2007

Tracklist:

1 Soulless Elegy 2:42
2 Purgatory Spiral 4:29
3 Cemetery Of Shattered Masks 6:04
4 Malignant Prophecy 5:41
5 Oration Of Ruin 7:23
6 Legacy Of Human Irrelevance 5:36
7 Dehumanizing Procession 4:52
8 Funerals Drenched In Apathy 5:29
9 Worship (The War Against) Yourself 7:34
10 A Memorial To The Waste Of Life 8:45
11 The Only Blood That Pours Is Yours 8:16
12 Unblessed Be 8:13

Silencer – Death – Pierce Me (2009)

silencer death pierce me

Silencer. For many of us, and that includes myself, this band remained unknown for a long time. It was founded in 1995 in Sweden and released only a demo and an album. The latter was released first in 2001 but since it was a limited edition it has been reissued several times since then. The last was in 2009. And that’s the one that is sitting on my shelf.

The genre is so called suicidal black metal therefore I strongly do not recommend listening to the record to the mentally unstable because it could give you ideas you would never think of for the very reason that you could easily cause harm in yourself or in others.

The music itself is something you can’t really pick at. Intense tracks with clear concepts combined with catchy melodies and nothing more really. We’ve already heard similar, for instance the early Shining. But if we add the distinct voice of the singer Nattramn then it becomes something different you can’t put your finger on. These two ingredients, intense and catchy music with the screaming voice of Nattramn, accomplish insanity at its worst and a certain chaotic atmosphere from which you are simply not able to escape for a long time. The main occurring subjects are suicide, death, misanthropy, madness and other delightful things like that. Nothing proves this better than the way he introduces us to his sick nightmares and tells us all about it screaming, cutting his own throat and spitting blood on all of us in the song The Slow Kill in the Cold. This is the point when we start to believe he really takes this whole thing seriously. The dominant mood is mostly the complete disilluionment of existence throughout the whole 50-minute album. Although the recurring motifs are not too varied it doesn’t make the album boring. Altogether, it is simply not an easy record.

Trying to provide as much information as possible let me give you some background info. The last known line-up was the following: Nattramn – vocal, Leere – guitars, double bass (later continued to plunk in Shining), Steve Wolz – drums. After having the album released the band broke up, which was due to the fact that Nattramn had to be moved in a mental institute in Växjö. The extact reason for this remains a doubtful rumour but still it supports the concept and atmosphere of the album and gives credit to everything Nattramn tries to share with us.

To put it in a nutshell: suicidal black metal only at your own risk.

Tracklist:

1 Death – Pierce Me 10:32
2 Sterile Nails And Thunderbowels 6:17
3 Taklamakan 8:33
4 The Slow Kill In The Cold 11:35
5 I Shall Lead, You Shall Follow 8:48
6 Feeble Are You – Sons Of Sion 3:04
7 Death – Pierce Me (Demo 1998) 11:32