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Monday 1 July 2019

Reviews: False, Aubzagl, Beheaded, Schattenmann (Paul S & Liam)

False: Portent (Gilead Media) [Paul S]

False are a 6 piece from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band have been going since 2010, and Portent is their second album. The band's first album Untitled was a powerful, piece of black metal with maybe a little bit of a folky feel to some of the material. How have False developed in the 4 intervening years? Portent has 4 songs, 3 very long tracks and a short, piano instrumental at the end of the album. The album starts with A Victual To Our Dead Selves. The ten minute track opens with some very tight, mid-paced black metal, with harsh vocals; it’s tuneful and melodic, but hints that there is a storm coming. The storm arrives in the form of a more chaotic, discordant and faster style of Black Metal. The extreme, chaotic style of Black Metal feels a little like Ævangelist, Chaos Moon or a little like Portal (although not as de-tuned as Portal, imagine Portal riffs but an octave higher). At this point I think I should mention the drumming on this album. Firstly, they are amazingly well played, this is one of the best drumming performances I’ve heard in a long time.

Secondly, they play a really important role in this album. The album is a mixture of the savage and chaotic sound I’ve just described and softer, more muted sections. The drumming on the extreme parts is very busy, with lots of snare rolls, on the softer parts, there is still an urgent feel to the drumming, and the snare rolls are still there. This means the softer, less chaotic sections have a feeling that the chaos is still near. Even though the less extreme parts allow the audience to have a slight respite from the insanity, the drumming stops the audience from relaxing, you could be dropped back into the maelstrom at any moment. After the first extreme section, we get a part that is fast, but more direct, more like standard Black Metal, which also boasts a guitar solo. We are then taken into a softer, more reflexive segment that loses the chaos and nastiness. At this point we also get our first taste of the keyboards that help to temper some of the harshness and helps to smooth the track out. After this the track gets heavier, and more chaotic till the end. At a few points this part reminded me of Emperor’s Ye Entrancemperium in the riffing, and another guitar solo brings the first track to an end. Rime On The Song Of Returning starts where the previous track ended, dropping the listener strait into a chaotic blast beat. This moves to a more direct approach, it’s mid-paced and has the keyboards to smooth out the savagery. Again the drums foretell bedlam and disorder, as we get another short taste of the maelstrom.

About two thirds of the way through the track everything gets slow and discordant, brooding and relentless, before slowly increasing the nasty and extreme. The track comes to an end with a slow, discordant section that is very keyboard heavy, and has a slight relaxing, introspective feel. Again the next track, The Serpent Sting, The Smell Of Goat, starts with a similar feel to the track that preceded it, starting with a slow, brooding section. This slow part gradually speeds up and increases in intensity, with a lot of melody. Once the audience is lulled into a false sense of security, they are then dropped into another part of pandemonium and mayhem with another insane blasting section that batters and confuses, causing havoc, turmoil and disarray. This is a band that is very good at insane swirling chaos, but they temper it with slower, smoother sections that have lustrous keyboards that add a serine, tranquil feeling to the music. The final third of The Serpent Sting, The Smell Of Goat is one of those softer sections. The keyboards in this part are more like an organ than before, this section is tuneful and melodic, but no less powerful. This part builds to the end of the track. It is huge and powerful, but the tuneful and musical element is very strong. The album ends with a short piano instrumental called Postlude.

A soft and beautiful way to end an amazing album. Portent is a stunning album. Taking this extreme style of Black Metal and making it tuneful, and accessible to people who wouldn’t normally listen to such unrelenting savagery, is a very clever thing indeed. The mixing of blasting chaos, and smoother, tempered sections is done in such an intelligent way, that it’s almost unbelievable that they have managed to pull this off. This album is chaotic, savage, brutal, difficult, disturbing and oppressive; whilst also being tuneful, melodic, accessible, tranquil, sweet and mellifluous. To combine styles that should be dispirit in such a seem-less way is nothing short of incredible. If extreme Black Metal has always turned you off, give this a go, it’s a gateway drug to more extreme, difficult music. This is an incredibly well made and written album, a classic from the first listen. If you like Black Metal, or any kind of extreme music, this is essential, close to a perfect album. 9/10

Aubzagl: Eilífa Kuldinn (Secret Riff Records) [Paul S]

Aubzagl are a 4 piece based in Yorkshire, they’ve been going since last year, and this EP is their first release. The band play a fairly simple, orthodox style of Black Metal that broadly reminds me of Watain and Wode. There is also a fairly thrashy edge to a lot of the material, so in places there is a little of Nifelheim and Aura Noir in there as well. The Ep has 2 short, quite nasty instrumentals, and 6 black metal tracks. The Hermit opens with a nice bit of thrashy black metal, that has loads of energy. Varaha is a great piece of flowing black metal, with a little bit of Windir in the tempo. The Oath Of Blood has a more rhythmic, staccato pacing, and the ending is a little bit hardcore. Voices Of The Aether is fast and nasty, except for the ending, which is slow and nasty. The Adversary is fast, tight, and thrashy, with a very punky ending.

The album is brought to an end by the appropriately named The End Of All Things, which is the longest track on the EP, and is a mixture of fast and savage, with slow and heavy, which is a great way to end the EP. Eilífa Kuldinn is a fantastic EP. The style might be quite simple, but it’s packed with energy and melody, so in many ways the simplicity is a boon. The tracks are very well written, clearly these are very accomplished musicians, as everything is beautifully performed, and it is very well produced and recorded. For a first Ep, this is stunning, and it’s also quite long for an Ep at 28 minutes, so it’s really good value as well. Brilliant EP, I’m really looking forward to an album, this is highly recommended. 8/10

Beheaded: Only Death Can Save You (Agonia Records) [Liam]

Being the death metal outfits 6th studio album they pretty much have the hold of the death metal sound. The Malta natives unleash crushing riffs and larynx shredding vocals the band are on top form throughout the album. Another thing you may pick up on, the record also has a Grindcore feel to it, with vocalist Frank Calleja bringing out the signature snarls of Barney from Napalm Death. There are plenty on moments where you feel the band beating your eardrums to a pulp with the blast beats and shredding. And it’s done with such precision that the band could almost come under Technical Death Metal and get away with it. From opener The Charlatans Enunciation, to The Papist Devil it’s just a non-stop fury of aggression & brutality . But when you hit the last three songs of the album, that's where it gets a little repetitive. But apart from that, the record as a whole is pretty damn good. 8/10

Schattenmann: Epidemie (AFM Records) [Liam]

This band is the spiritual successor to Rammstein. Taking the formula of Industrial Metal and changing it slightly with the use of synthesizers the band are on top form on this record. My initial thought wasn't much, but it wasn't anything like what's on the album. Even though it's purely in German vocals, it doesn't stop the momentum one bit. There's catchy riffs, hooks, chorus' & a medley of guitar and synth sounds to make this amazing album perfect in my eyes. If you're all about catchy songs, then F.U.C.K.Y.O.U, title track Epidemie & Kopf Durch Die Wand are right up your alley. The record however is just flawless from back to front (And available to pre-order via the band's Facebook page if you want to the guys out, like I'm currently doing right now) and are deserving of more attention. Keep a lookout for these guys. If they aren't on the festival circuit by next summer, then there's something seriously wrong. 10/10

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