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Thursday, 4 April 2019

Reviews: Lik, AntropomorphiA, None, Hypnotic Nausea (Paul S, Paul H & Mark)

Lik: Mass Funeral Evocation (Metal Blade Records) [Paul H]

Their name means Corpse in Swedish, but the blistering death metal which the Stockholm trio produce is anything but stiff rigidity. Mass Funeral Evocation is the band’s debut release, given a re-release by Metal Blade records. It remains a fantastic first album and demonstrates the roots of a band whose second album Carnage was a stunning brutal follow up last year. With a rotten, sickening theme throughout, the intense onslaught starts with Serum 141, and doesn’t apply any sort of brake until Trail Of Entrails concludes.

The three-piece have now been joined by live bassist Joakim Antman but this release was spawned by the initial trio of Barkensajo, Akvik and Sandin. Mass Funeral Evocation contains everything you demand in death metal; high speed drumming, intricate guitar work, pounding riffs and guttural rasping vocals. With all those boxes ticked, it’s just a question of allowing this slab to crush you to a pulp. Death Orgasmic, Behold The Beheaded and the disgusting Skin Necrosis all make your stomach turn. With a double live track finishing this album, there is also evidence of the power of the band in the live setting. A fine reissue. 8/10

AntropomorphiA: Merciless Savagery (Metal Blade Records) [Paul S]

AntropomorphiA are a death metal band based in Tilburg, in the Netherlands. The band have been going since 1989, and released their first album in 1998. There then came a 14 year wait, before the band released albums in 2012, 2014 and 2017, and now in 2019 they are back with new album Merciless Savagery. The style of death metal presented on this album is very old school, not much of a surprise considering the history of the band. However, calling this old school death metal would be a little simplistic, there is a definite blackened edge to all of the material here, this is quite a filthy beast of an album. In some ways, to use a football analogy, this is an album of 2 halves (not quite, bands rarely arrange albums to make them easy for reviewers to write about). The first half of the album, the first 4 songs, are fairly slow, the tempo never gets close to what I would think of as a blast beat. Slower death metal is fine, but this feels a little ploddy, there isn’t much of a spark and it is a little lacklustre. There are good points to the first half of the album; Cathedral Ov Tombs has a nice melody lead that helps to give it a bit of energy and tunefulness to the song. Womb Ov Thorns also has a great, nasty sounding solo. But, the dirge like, ploddy pacing does stop the first four songs from really shining.

In the second half of the album, AntropomorphiA really start to shine. The songs are much more aggressive, faster and much more flowing in style. There are slower parts, but in the second half of this album the slow parts have more drive and power to them. Apocalyptical Scourge is much faster and more direct. The Darkest Light is fast and flowing, whilst being tuneful and melodic at the same time. Unsettling Voices is a slower track, but it has a drive that is missing from the opening half of the album, the song has a relentless quality that is very enjoyable. Luciferian Tempest is probably the strongest track on the album, slow, but powerful opening, going into a blasting section, and features some very good clean, female vocals. This is a really innovative, interesting piece of death metal. On balance, Merciless Savagery is very good death metal album. It’s a shame that the first few tracks don’t measure up to the quality of final 5 songs. If they had, this would probably be getting an 8 or a 9, but the uneven quality takes this from a great album, to one that is just good. Shame. 7/10

None: Damp Chill Of Life (Hypnotic Dirge) [Paul S]

Damp Chill Of Life is None’s third album, coming exactly 1 year after their second album Life Has Gone On Long Enough, which came 1 year after their self titled debut. The band, which is based in America’s Pacific Northwest, is made up of one or possibly 2 people who wish to remain anonymous (the information I got with this album credits Instrumentation to Anonymous, and Voice to Anonymous. I’m not sure if that is 2 different anonymous people, or the same anonymous person credited twice). None play depressive black metal, a slow and achingly melancholic style of black metal. After a very quiet intro (Fade), the album kicks off with the (nearly) title track The Damp Chill Of Life. The track starts with a soft keyboard intro, before a slow guitar riff comes in. The guitar is very fuzzy and lo-fi in sound. The music drips sadness and sorrow, which fits with the mournful vocals, which are fairly low in the mix, but the anguished nature of them help them to cut through the music. 

Cease is a soft keyboard led track, it’s soft and minimalist. About halfway through a deeply desolate guitar riff comes in, bringing with it some woeful vocals. We go back to soft keyboards for the ending. You did a good thing is a very slow, sad keyboard instrumental which leads into the next track It’s Painless To Let Go. This track is slow, with a relaxed pacing, spoken vocals and a beautiful melody lead guitar. I Yearn To Feel starts with acoustic guitar and piano. As the track goes on it gains more drive and feels tighter. The track is soft, lilting and beautifully melancholic. Final song A Chance I’d Never Have opens with an up-tempo acoustic guitar riff, that feels slightly uplifting, before guitar and harsh vocals come in and we are back in forlorn, sad territory. The song goes back to clean acoustic guitar and clean, whispered vocals again. After this softer section the song goes back to harsh and heavy. In this section None give us the only thing on the album that could be described as a blast beat. The track then goes back to soft for the ending of the album. Damp Chill Of Life is a great album. 

Yes, it’s got a really sad atmosphere to it, but that is in many ways the point, this is depressive black metal after all. The overall sense you get with the album is cathartic and cleansing. It might be counter intuitive that what helps you deal with sadness and depression, is achingly sad music like this, but whether it’s counter intuitive or not, it is true. This album is desperately sorrowful, but that's the point, this sombre feeling is what drives the depression away, and allows you to deal with life’s disappointment and desolation. Not everyone will get this album, but if you do get it, there’s nothing out there that can match it. 8/10

Hypnotic Nausea: The Death Of All Religions (Ikaros Records) [Mark]

The second full length release from Hypnotic Nausea who hail from Greece is a decent effort at stoner post-rock, the band consists of George B. (guitars, vocals), George P. (bass, synths), Nikos B. (drums, samples), Fotis G. (lights, video art). Holy City opens the album with a very suspenseful intro, sounds Gregorian with the chime and the build up, then a slightly uninspired guitar riff drops in, this riff spends too long doing its thing before releasing with distortion and more of the same. It’s not that I don’t like it, just find it very frustrating that everything is so overplayed and drawn out. There is a really well done doom break and a sample that breaks up the monotony of the rest of the track, but we’re five minutes into this eleven minute track at this point. Towards the end we get our first taste of vocals and they’re really, really good, it’s like there should be probably be more of them on The Death Of All Religions.

Outside is one of most musically interesting tracks on the album, a different feels sets it apart from the other material offered here. The guest vocals by Jon Voyager on Priest are very welcome, feeling like an island in a sea of washing riffs that mostly perform the same function. Inquietum Cor closes the album, it’s a nice relaxed affair, the guitar sound is very clean, reminds me a little of If These Trees Could Talk, my only issue is that the track seems to be very drawn out, with little in the way of progression, the playing is great and the sound is pleasant but the attention span for music like this needs to be held with the injection of interesting changes or something that changes the mood, even with the departure into a more doomy ending, this is a bit underwhelming. I don’t dislike anything I heard here, just wish there was a bit of something else thrown in, more vocals throughout would have definitely helped. I could listen to this again, I probably won’t just because there are better stoner/post efforts out there I’d rather spend my limited time with. 6/10

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