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Wednesday 17 July 2019

Reviews: Necronautical, Concilium, Valaraukar, Inhuman Deprivation (Paul S & Scott)

Necronautical: Apotheosis (Candlelight Records) [Paul Scoble]

Necronautical are a 4 piece, nautically themed Symphonic Black Metal band from the North West of England. The band have been in existence since 2010, and Apotheosis is the bands 3rd album coming 3 years since their last album The Endurance At Night and 5 years since their debut album Black Sea Misanthropy. So, this is ‘Symphonic’ Black Metal, a term I haven’t heard in a while. To me, Symphonic means overblown production, lots of keyboards and a yearning to sound like Emperor. If I’m being honest the term ‘Symphonic’ has always annoyed me, whether it’s being used to describe Symphonic black metal, or simply Symphonic metal. The term in classical music refers to the Length of the piece (an extended piece of music, usually split into 4 distinct Movements), not the musical style. However, my pedantic dislike of the term should not impact on this review, it’s not Necronautical's fault that Heavy Metal has got its terms wrong.

The sound on offer here is reminiscent of post 2000 Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth or Carach Angren. So blast Beats, lots of keyboards that sound like keyboards (rather than sounding like a piano etc.), and very slick production. The sound is sort of Black Metal Lite, nothing too nasty to put off the more middle of the road listeners. So although we get blast beats, they are always tempered by the keyboards, so it never gets too ‘Necro’ (ironic considering the name of the band). The band also flirt with Melodic Death Metal at times, The track Lure Of The Abyss has a very heavy, Death Metal intro, before settling down to some really rather good uptempo Melodic Death Metal. There's also a bit of an Occult feel on some of the tracks with some very effective chanting on Nihil Sub Sole Novum. The chanting also helps to lift the otherwise rather plodding Totentanz. There is some very effective blasting on the title track Apotheosis, which has lots of energy in a sort of Melodic Black metal way. The track also has a riff that is very similar to the very well known riff in Ye Entrancemperium, so quite a big nod to Emperor as well.

As you might have guessed, I’m not a fan of ‘Symphonic Black Metal’, it’s never spoken to me the way more extreme Black metal speaks to me (except from Emperor of course). But I can’t let that effect this review. If you like post 2000 Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth or the other Symphonic Black Metal bands, then this is something that should interest you. This is a very good ‘Symphonic’ Black metal album. Beautifully produced, great riffs, very atmospheric and incredibly tuneful and melodic; I might not be that into this style of Black metal, but I know enough to recognise that this is a very good Symphonic Black Metal album. 7/10

Concilium: No Sanctuary (592043 Records DK) [Paul Scoble]

Concilium are a five piece based in Boston. The band has been going since 2014, and this is their first Ep. The band class themselves as ‘Epic Doom’ which fits quite well. The EP has 4 tracks, one short, acoustic instrumental (Ritual Attrition), and 3 tracks that are close to 10 minutes (clearly the Epic part of the description). The longer tracks are fairly traditional doom. So, think Candlemass, Trouble and St Vitus and you are in the right territory; musically this reminds me of Iron Void who released a great traditional doom album last year called Excalibur. This is slow and very heavy, don’t expect any stoner swagger, or sludgy malice, this is serious, dramatic doooooom. This slight dramatic feel is also down to the vocals from singer Paris Thibault, who boasts a really rather impressive operatic voice.

I’ve heard this sort of operatic style of singing used on ‘Symphonic’ metal albums, and it has always left me cold. It feels over the top, and affected; but on this album it seem to work. Paris’s delivery is measured, and appropriate, when belting it out is needed, that's what she does; where a more nuanced, delicate style is needed, that's what she does. The performance is beautifully balanced, and fits well with this style of doom. The tracks themselves are well balanced, well written and played, and the production is very good. There isn’t much that is groundbreaking or revolutionary, other than the vocals, but on a traditional doom album that isn’t the point. The point is great songs, great riffs and massive slow and heavy, and this Ep has that in spades. Great EP, now let’s have an album. 8/10

Valaraukar: Demonian Abyssal Visions (Iron Bonehead Records) [Paul Scoble]

Valaraukar are a Scottish duo based in Edinbourgh. The 2 piece (Sovereign on Drums and Vagath on vocals and guitar) have been making music since 2018, this is their first album. Valaraukar play a fairly old school form of Black Metal that has one foot in second wave Black Metal and one foot in first wave Black Metal. So, savage blasting that is simple but effective, with a bit of a nod towards the early days of Thrash. The vocals are also reminiscent of early thrash, in that they aren’t harsh as you’d expect from Black Metal, but are clean vocals done in a very aggressive way; just like early Sodom, Slayer or Kreator. This mix of early eighties with early nineties works very well, this might be simple, but it’s savage and packed with energy and reminds me of how exciting Black Metal was when it first appeared. The Unassailable Throne has a beautifully fast and blasting first half, before a slower, more driving section in the middle, before a slightly Celtic Frosty section brings the track to an end.

Servants Of The Nameless is another blast heavy track, it is just rippingly fast, so much fun. It’s not all about fast and furious; Red Eyes Behold The Heart Of Ruin has a more mid-paced, with an expansive beginning. It’s simple but, really heavy. Final track Conquering The Void is another driving mid-paced track that is driving and relentless, with some very nice choppy rhythm guitar. Demonian Abyssal Visions is a cracking album. Fast, ferocious, chaotic in a beautifully frenzied way, whilst also being heavy, driving and relentless. I must admit too feeling a little nostalgic for the early days of Black Metal and Thrash, after listening to this. This is a really great album, I enjoyed listening to it a lot, for a first album this is fantastic, highly recommended! 8/10

Inhuman Deprivation: Cannibalistic Extinction (Pathologically Explicit Recordings) [Scott Price]

Yeah I’m not going to lie, I don’t really like this album. I entirely respect the skill and the time it takes to make an album such as this. But there is a point where you go from a human sounding performance, to a technically perfect robotic sounding album. It just has no real substance to it at all in my opinion. I really love technical death metal/deathcore and brutal death metal. But it just gets to a point where its just fast and down tuned for the sake for being heavy and fast. While sacrificing real song writing and heavy catchy riffs.

It gets to a point where it just sounds like heavy noise with some gargling put behind it which is almost inaudible in some parts. The only shining parts of this album are the small riffs they chuck in between the noise to break it up a little bit. Nothing you can remember and say “ah yeah that sounds like this band or that band”. That and I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty damn boring. I respect the skill. But just ain’t that great in my opinion. 4/10

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