Thursday, 25 April 2019

Reviews: Mavradoxa, Profanation, Celophys, Cirith Gogor (Paul S & Paul H)

Mavradoxa: Nightmarrow (Hypnotic Dirge Records)

Mavradoxa are a four piece based in New York. The band have been together since 2016 and have so far released 2 albums before Nightmarrow; 2016’s Sojourners and 2017’s Lethean Lament. The band play a mix of Atmospheric Black Metal and Post Black Metal. Lyrically the album focuses on Isolation and hopelessness of urban dystopias; it juxtaposes the purity of nature with the poison of urbanity. The album highlights humanities headlong rush towards extinction. The album starts with the track Maple. The song starts with a simple black metal riff, maybe a little reminiscent of Agalloch. The sound is organic and not overly produced, and flows beautifully. The last couple of minutes of the song feature some really great tremolo picked riffs, which end up being layered and harmonised, which is a really innovative way to treat these kind of riffs. The Carrion Shade starts with gang, chanted vocals over dissonant riffs. Before going into a harsh section, nasty riffs with nasty vocals. The second half of the song is a revelation. Those layered riffs are back, and this time there are more layers. More harmonies, more catharsis, more intricate, more hypnotic. I’ve never heard this approach to tremolo picked riffs before. Other bands have hinted that this sort of thing is possible, Mavradoxa have made it a reality.

Nightmarrow has a little bit more of a Post Black Metal feel to it. At times this track reminds me a little of Deafheaven, a very melodic and tuneful Deafheaven. There is a beautifully melancholic section about halfway through that leads us into some exquisite blasting tremolo picked riffs. Just Stunning. Rustling Leaves is a short acoustic interlude. A beautiful, elegant, minimalist respite. Black Crystal Snowfall continues the Post Black Metal feel from Nightmarrow. The main part is a little reminiscent of Alcest or Hermóðr. The album as a whole feels cathartic, and that feeling is a massive part of this song. This song feels like it is coming to a resolution. The song ends with a section of layered tremolo picked riffs; however this time they are shorter, so they repeat quicker. This makes them feel hypnotic, there is almost a Philip Glass quality to how this part feels. This album has so much more depth than a lot of Black Metal, and I feel that it is these intricately layered passages that give the album this sense. The album is brought to an end by the instrumental Umbra. A beautiful, cathartic piece that soothes the listener, and it feels like the album is slowly drifting away into the distance, exquisite.

Nightmarrow is a stunning piece of work. A genuinely original piece of work in a genre that is packed full of generic bands. I have to admit, before this album arrived in my dropbox folder I had not heard of this band. After listening to this album, I am incredibly grateful to my editor for sending this album my way. This is one of the most original black metal albums I have heard in many years. I’ve felt as excited about it as I was the first time I heard black metal. It is beautiful, nasty, hypnotising, cathartic, aggressive, blasting and sublime. I would highly recommend this album to anyone with any kind of interest in black metal, or if you’ve never listened to black metal, then this would be an amazing place to start. Right, now it’s time to hit Bandcamp and buy up everything they have recorded before this! Genuinely amazing Black Metal. 9/10

Profanation: Into Cascades Of Blood And Burning Soil (Hostile Media)

Profanation have been going since 1997, the Saxony based band have produced four albums before Into Cascades Of Blood And Burning Soil. The band classify themselves as Death / Grind, however, on their Facebook page they have stated that Into Cascades Of Blood And Burning Soil, is their “Most Death Metal album” and who am I to argue with the band. This is clearly a death metal album, any grinding having fallen by the wayside. The style on offer here is pretty brutal, albeit very well played technically. The production is very good, the guitars sound very real, organic and powerful, bass and drums sound fantastic, and batter the listener, and the vocals are very well recorded. The mix is pretty much perfect, all round great sound. The material on offer here is very well written, it manages to be brutal, nasty and extreme, whilst still being melodic and tuneful. There is a lot of variation in the material as well, which helps keep the album feeling fresh. 

So, we get some slow and dripping with tri-tones tracks similar to Bolt Thrower, the best of which would be Der Gemütliche. Which sounds decidedly evil and nasty. They also do slow and relentless, a style that feels unstoppable and powerful, as in the track Silent God. There are also a couple of mid-tempo pounders that are very enjoyable, Unholy Brutality and The Prophecy are great examples of that. What death metal album would be complete without some fast, raging tracks? Well with Bloodbath In Heaven and Butchers Joy we get the some neck breaking blasts. Fast, brutal and feeling like they are out of control, frenetic shock waves that batter the listener. Into Cascades Of Blood And Burning Soil is a great death metal album. There is a lot of this style of death metal about at the moment; but this album definitely holds its own against some very good competition. Profanation should be seen in the same category as bands like Monstrosity, Krisiun, Nile and Dying Foetus. Cracking fun, highly recommended. 8/10

Celophys: Fried Chordata (Robustfellow)

Celophys are a 2 piece from Ukraine. The duo describe their sound as Triassic Doom, which is, to these ears, really heavy, doomy sludge with harsh hardcorey vocals. Fried Chordata is the bands forth album. The album kicks off with Anunnak, a thunderingly heavy, lurchy piece of sludge. The riffs are slow, but massively heavy, with harsh, aggressive vocals. Slow, but hugely nasty and viscous. Great start! Next we get Fucked Up, which starts with a particularly sweary sample (DO NOT listen to this song at work, as I did. This track had me leaping for the volume knob as the filthy sample was broadcast across my workplace). Once the sweary sample is over, the track itself is pure hardcore. Just a 3 minute blast of aggressive hardcore energy. Papaver is another slow, lurching monster of a song. Ridiculously heavy, but with a fantastic tempo, that will have your head banging. False Lizard and Yeti, is another fast hardcorey track. 

Blasting and unrelenting, it batters the listener in a very pleasing way, nice! Magicae Mammuthus is another slow, but nasty track. The rhythm is lurching, but the pulsating beat gets into your head in a beautiful way. The track feels unstoppable, it isn’t fast, but the inertia is undeniable. The album is brought to an end by the track Prehistoric Barn. A huge, heavy and unbelievably slow track. There are sections of this song that are about as slow as sludge gets, but this is so massive that it’s great. This is an incredibly heavy way to end an album, but considering the album that has preceded this track, it’s perfectly in keeping. Fried Chordata is a fantastic piece of nasty sludge. It’s not nice, but if that's what you are after then there are very few bands that can pull this level of heavy extremity off. Just about as heavy as it gets, and beautifully nasty with it. 8/10

Cirith Gorgor: Sovereign (Hammerheart) [Paul H]

Named after the Haunted Pass, the point where the mountain ranges of the Ered Lithui and the Ephel Dúath meet northwest of Mordor, Cirith Gorgor is a black metal outfit from the Netherlands who have been together for over 20 years. Sovereign is the band’s seventh full length album and it is a no-holds barred apocalyptic ride crammed full of explosive black metal. If you wanted a quick description, I’d say that these guys are bastard offspring of an unholy union between Behemoth and Satyricon. Themes of darkness, death, fantasy and of course, Lord Of The Rings offer much expansion on the traditional black metal theme, with soaring tremolo riffing and blast beats aplenty. Luciferian Deathsquad is a standard bearer for the whole album, its intense explosive style still allowing for atmospheric feel. At times vocalist Satanael bears a strong resemblance to Kataklysm and Ex Deo frontman Maurizio Iacono but maintains his own Satanic delivery. Deathcult is bombastic, towering and imposing with a melody that underpins the entire movement, whilst Legio Luporum is just blistering in its delivery and drive. Sovereign is an album that requires repeated plays, there is just so much going on and it’s the intricacy and layers that makes it a superb album. 8/10

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