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Tuesday 19 May 2020

Reviews: Feral Light, Rising Sunset, Old Corpse Road, Noctu (Paul S & Rich)

Feral Light: Life Vapor (Hypnotic Dirge Records) [Paul Scoble]

Feral Light have been making music since 2015, in that time the duo have made 2 other albums; debut album Void/Sanctuary in 2017 and Fear Rides A Shadow in 2019. Feral Light is made up of Andrew Reeson on drums and Andy Schoengrund on guitar, bass and vocals, the band is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Feral Light play a fairly simple style of Black metal, this is at the opposite end of the Black metal spectrum to anything that could be considered ‘Symphonic’, there is a definite punk attitude to how this has been put together, and this comes across in the music as well, which has a crust punk feel to some of the material. So, in many places this is very simple, guitar, drums and vocals format, there isn’t that much complexity. However, if you thought that was a criticism, then you are wrong, this albums strength is it’s simplicity. The overall structure might be simple, but the elements that this is made up of are fantastic, the riffs are so well written and played that the lack of complexity just allows the high quality of the music to shine through.

Most of the material on offer here features pretty savage blast beats, with beautifully nasty tremolo picked riffs over the top, it’s straightforward, but extremely effective. When Feral Light aren’t ripping your face off they do a very good line in slower, more riffy material. Opening track Assuage is a great example of the both of these styles as it vacillates between simple, savage blasting tremolo picked riffs, and slower, more measured riffs, that are heavy and very tuneful. Hex Of Inverses opens with some wonderfully discordant and punky black metal that has some great blasting sections, as well as some more mid-paced, crusty riffs. In Summation also features a mix of blasting and slower riffs, in this case the slower, beautifully rhythmic section reminds me a little of Tyrants By Immortal, and also features a really great droney ending. The album closes with the track Walking Tomb. Walking Tomb does have some blasting, but is mainly about mid-paced, punky, and melodic riffs and slow and discordant sections. The song also boasts a guitar solo, and is a very mellifluous way to end a highly enjoyable album.

Life Vapor is a cracking album. As I’ve mentioned before it’s very simple, but it’s so well done that it doesn’t need any extra complexity. Although in places this is a pretty savage album, but it is packed with melody, tunefulness and great riffs that stick in your head. This is an album that works on songwriting, rather than huge production or bombast. These are very well written and played songs, and that is where this album shines. Highly recommended. 9/10

Rising Sunset: De Mysterium Tenebris (Wormholedeath Records) [Paul Scoble]

Rising Sunset have been making huge sounding music together since 2001. The band, who are based in Malta have produced 2 albums before De Mysterium Tenebris; the first in 2012, and the second album in 2016. There is a game that you could play with this album; you have to listen to it without thinking about Dimmu Borgir (damn, I’ve lost already), as this sounds a lot like the Norwegian band, particularly Dimmu Borgir circa the year 2002, as stylistically it sounds a lot like Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropy (2001) or Death Cult Armageddon (2003). When Dimmu Borgir made those albums they used an orchestra, Rising Sunset have had to make do with lots of keyboards, but manage to give a very similar feel. The vocals are very reminiscent of Dimmu as well. Vocalist Carlo Calamatta uses the very low register, Death Metal style and the more Black metal style that is much shriller and sounds exactly like Shagrath, is by second guitarist Joseph Camilleri. There are times when this album gets very symphonic, and once the vocals come in you would swear blind it was Dimmu Borgir.

There are other aspects to this album other than the Dimmu worship, in fact that's when Rising Sunset really excel. There are quite a few sections that sound more like Epic Black metal; the style of Black Metal pioneered by Summoning and perfected by Caladan Brood. Whenever the keyboards are replaced by strings or by layered guitars this album really works. The band feel like they have their own identity rather than borrowing another bands identity. The Book Of Enoch features some very nice epic parts, that feel huge and very melodic. The Harlot Riding The Beast is another track where this Epic style of Black Metal really comes through, and the album feels like it works. The track also boasts a really powerful opening featuring a choir. Probably the best track on here is the closing track Fate Of The Tribulation. The song starts slow and heavy, with soft and beautiful female vocals, we then get a section with layered guitars, that is very melodic and tuneful. The track does feature a small amount of blasting, before going back to the slow and heavy, again with operatic female vocals.

De Mysterium Tenebris is a very good Symphonic/Epic Black Metal album. The parts that feel like Dimmu Borgir worship aren’t bad, they are just so wedded to that bands style that it stops the album having an identity that is separate from Dimmu Borgir. It’s when the band go their own way that this album really starts to shine, the epic sections are fantastic, and will hopefully be the direction this band goes in after this album. 7/10

Old Corpse Road: On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore (SMP/Trollzorn Records) [Rich Oliver]

The UK black metal scene is in a very healthy state these days but one band who have been a bit quiet of late have been Old Corpse Road. Hailing from Yorkshire the band have always injected tales of dark folklore into their music as well as a gothic sensibility and on their third album On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore they have delved into tales from the dark and freezing oceans with songs based around coastal and maritime folklore.

On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore is a hefty album but it has a very expansive sound with a primarily atmospheric black metal sound which is rich with symphonic elements and gothic undertones. The title track kicks things off which is a bit of a slow burner full of atmosphere and build up before things explode in Harbingers Of Death (Voices In The Tempest) which is a ferocious black metal assault with layers of keyboards and sublime melodies. Melody is a key feature throughout the album (which always sits well with this reviewer) and is taken further in Black Ship which opens with a folk driven acoustic melody which leads into a some theatrics heavy melodic black metal which certainly has nods to the early Cradle Of Filth material and has a great inclusion of clean vocals. Other highlights on the album include Sea Fire with its haunting atmosphere, the ferocity of Demons Of The Farne and the monstrous 16 minute epic of The Ghosts Of The Ruinous Dunstanburgh Castle.

Old Corpse Road have a fantastic album with On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore which plays to the atmospheric, theatrical and ferocious sides of black metal and manages to incorporate these different elements together in a very cohesive way. It does have similarities to other UK bands who play a similar style such as Cradle Of Filth and Hecate Enthroned but Old Corpse Road definitely have their own defining stamp on this sound. 8/10

Noctu: Gelidae Mortis Imago (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Rich Oliver]

Gelidae Mortis Imago is the second album from Italian funeral doom band Noctu (the solo project of Noctu from Atra Mors). Funeral doom is a genre I’ve never been able to quite get along with bar a few exceptions so I approached this review with an open mind and a fair bit of trepidation. Unfortunately Noctu have failed to change my mainly negative opinions of the genre. My overwhelming criticism of Gelidae Mortis Imago (and of a lot of funeral doom in general) is that it is generally excessively long songs without the content to justify the song lengths. This is very much the case here with the album being made up of six songs and a duration of just under 74 minutes. There are three main songs and three shorter instrumentals (one being an intro to the album and the other two being rather pointless interludes) with the three songs all being extremely excessive in length. The three songs are in the region of 16, 19 and 32 minutes in length. 

I have no issue with long songs if there is an interesting composition to justify it but these songs very rarely change from their plodding pace or have much going on to retain my interest. The music is very dense throughout and is very driven by layers of keyboards as well as the walls of guitar. The vocals are reverb drenched howls and screams of torment which actually suit the music and are one of the positive aspects of the album. The best track on the album is Lucida Oscurita Senziente which has some wonderfully evil and haunting melodies throughout. Fans of funeral doom metal will probably find that Gelidae Mortis Imago is an excellent example of the genre and whilst there is no denying that Noctu deliver all the trademarks of the genre to crushing effect it just overwhelmingly failed to get much interest out of me. I think I will have to accept that funeral doom metal and me are just not meant to be. 4/10

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