review

Heptaedium – A M E N

a1822716383_10Heptaedium is best known for mixing metal, djent, breakcore, game music and French madness. 2018 saw a pure Djent album in The Great Herald of Misery, it is only logical there’s a pure breakcore album too! I’m much more of a breakcore fan than of Djent, best of all A M E N is name your price/free download in Bandcamp.

A M E N is basically Venetian Snares worship without the neoclassical influences, darker beats, a pinch of metal and a few below the belt jokes. Very close to Detrimentalist (2008) era. It is bursting with short experiments of different electronic genres, most of them very successfully and imaginatively executed.

A M E N is at its best when its not trying to be funny and is satisfyingly complex. The too much repeating clips of  S i s l o v e m e  and  L o g i s t i c  get tiresome but in  A c i d ‘ n’ S e x  one could expect the porn movie clips to be funny, but they are not. The composition is so frigging dark and horror-like the clips come across as disturbing, awesome.  S i s l o v e m e  is really imaginative and has one of the strongest breaks of the album.

L e a v e  is like Heptaedium’s version of Kétsarkú Mozgalom (Venetian Snares – Rossz Csillag Alatt Született, 2005), with a sad melodramatic female narrator. The beats of the first half of  L e a v e  are so frigging strong. It even has some Gabber destruction, extremely violent beats. The end of  B o u l e m a g i q u e  has another particularly good short experiment, groovy outro that resembles of driving music breakbeat/synthwave or something!

Aaron Funk might have gotten bored of this sound on his newest record but I sure haven’t. Good shit!

8+/10

Free download in bandcamp:
https://heptaedium.bandcamp.com/album/a-m-e-n

Jpegmafia — Veteran – Music quickies

ap,550x550,12x12,1,transparent,t.u7Experimental noise hip-hop

Beats are more more noisy and artsy and a lot less accessible than on Black Ben Carson (2016) or The 2nd Amendment (2016). Melodic elements are more buried but there’s a constant barrage of sounds, noises and snippets popping up. A conscious decision seems to have been made to pursue an unpleasant atmosphere, the album only rewards with multiple listens. Earlier albums were playful while still having build-up, instead of being short snippets. Especially middle part of album seems incoherent. Personally I prefer the longer arrangements more.

The beginning trinity plus beautiful Panic Emoji, trap Rainbow Six are some good Jpegmafia. Baby I’m Bleeding deserves the laziest sampling of the year award, it is repeating a ~0.5 second randomly cut section for almost all its length. It’s been listened over 3 million times in Spotify? WTF!? Are unpleasant beats a thing now? Quite nice if that is so. It is also a single track, I guess that commercial suicide failed pretty badly.

https://genius.com/albums/Jpegmafia/Veteran is a treasure trove, when I dag into it, the album spiraled upwards immediately. It really is required to read the lyrics and dig into the background material at least for a non-native English speaker. That being said, a lot of the references are still really hard to get for a foreigner. This is not the kind of album one would expect from an army veteran!

8-/10

Sol Invictus — Necropolis – Music Quickies

sol invictus - necropolis.jpgA step up from the last album Once Upon a Time (2014), Necropolis sounds inspired. It is sprinkled with a ton of material, short, catchy, annoying, contemplative, experimental sounds, straight-forward neofolk…

See Them is pure luscious magic with great female vocals, bringing in mind The Blade (1997) era. The Last Man is one of the many ingenious traditional ballads Sol Invictus has utilized. When I visited London after listening the album I could not get the track out of my mind. I went as far as visiting some of the places that are sung. And I thought I had gotten bored of all these “London this and London that” lyrics.

If this indeed is the last album of Sol Invictus’s career, Necropolis is a good way to go out with the candle still burning bright… I really hope that even if Sol Invictus is resting in the Necropolis, we will see Tony Wakeford solo albums in the future.

8/10

A Forest of Stars — Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes – Music quickies

255819-400x_center_centeravant-garde black metal / atmospheric black metal

A Forest of Stars have for a few albums had a very solid footing in the ever-changing grounds of avant-garde where black metal is just one of the elements. It is kind of like atmospheric black metal yes, there’s double-bass and plenty of tremolo, but oh so much other textures as well. Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes listens a lot like a poem with dramatic spoken word, crazy whirlwind-fast or almost cried vocals. The lyrics are rich and constantly puzzling.

As satisfying as Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes is, some clearer vocal arrangements or lyrics that are more approachable would have been welcome additions. That being said, there’s something about music that makes one feel dumb that I enjoy. The madness and fierce and tasty bits in the compositions make up for whatever the album lacks in approachability.

The mellow sections often take a long time, making the album challenging but relaxing. This is black metal suitable for afternoon tea. But when A Forest of Stars are not mellowing about, the compositions are rich with plenty of surprises. There’s frenzied pummeling, symphonic keyboards, electronic bridges, quality female vocals and most importantly dramatic violin melodies! They really can use the violin in their favour.

Even if one would go so far to classify the lyrics as poetic art bullshit it is impossible to question the effectiveness of Precipice Pirouette or Decomposing Deity Dance Hall. Shut up and get in the ground! He said to himself knowingly.

8/10

Kallomäki & Nest Live + Kallomäki – Roka Ukri (2018) album review

If I had to name one band to go see live at the moment it would be the folk metal /  traditional / pagan / ritual music group, Kallomäki. They released their first album Roka Ukri earlier 2018. It is a good album but Kallomäki is very much a live band. I captured them live the third time in October 21, 2018 at Bar Rock Bear, Vantaa.

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29.9.18 in Kansanperinneilta, Porvoo

Acoustic_electric_Jouhikko_by_Charlie_Bynum,_Silver_Spoon_Music,_NL,_2014_2014-07-10_10-46The biggest difference between Kallomäki and all other metal bands is that they have no guitars. Guitars have been replaced by jouhikko, a three stringed bowed-lyre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jouhikko).

Musically Kallomäki is pretty much folk metal, but as a live band they are very ritualistic. Most members of Kallomäki are very experienced metal musicians from multitude of projects, it is still damn surprising how convincing their take in folk metal is. This no kids light-hearted folk here. It is filled with interplay between brutal and beautiful parts. There’s a vast amount of historical mana channeled in the music.

The album Roka Ukri is fairly straight-forward, but in a live setting the tracks have considerable alterations. The title track Ukrijuhla and Kalmankehto are close resemblance of their live sound. Both very hypnotic tracks.

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For example the end of Ukrijuhla has a short snippet of a live track chant “se sielusi vie ja mielesi murtaa, rakkaasi raiskaa ja lapsesi surmaa”. This has been extended as a long shamanistic track, a fan recorded version can be found from youtube.

The stage-presence is also very dramatic! Non-album shamanistic chant “Herramme roka, tämä lapsi ota” saw a female singer being “sacrified”, after which she seemed to be reborn as a white hooded smaller figure, as the vocal duties were changed to her. So what happened to the blood from the sacrifice? It was collected in a wooden cup and painted to foreheads of audience! Sinister figure moved quietly in the audience and stopped before everyone to paint their forehead, if they allowed. I even glimpsed a bartender running away laughing from this figure :D.

Roka Ukri album review

Roka Ukri (2018) is dark folk metal with a lot of traditional music influences paired with some catchiness and surprising amount of brutality. Kallomäki_-_roka_ugriKunnes Katoan and Suruton Saattaja balance beautifully between pretty parts and very harsh musicianship. Great interplay between clean male and female vocals and growling. Ikiaikaisille is a power ballad. Previously mentoned Ukrijuhla and Kalmankehto are very atmospheric and quite brutal ritualistic tracks, my favourites of the album at the moment.

Most of the rest of the album is more on the harsh side, some being more straightforward (Jouhien Herra, Nahkavitsa, Kuoleman Renki), some even doomy (Ajastaika, Halla). Among these these tracks are the most stale ones too. Jouhien Herra is an unfortunate single-track. Lukewarm, soft and too simple a-b-a-b-c track. Does not represent the album’s dark, historical, smoky log house (savupirtti, is there an English translation to it?) atmosphere as a single track well.

Kuoleman Renki is tastefully grim about death ruling the lands but tastes like a filler lament, not bad though. Halla goes by leaving no memory of its presence except that it’s slow and heavy. The spoken-word vocals are so melodramatic it unfortunately reminds of humor band Suamenleijona and Roudasta Rospuuttoon sketch by Studio Julmahuvi. Very harsh black metal screeching. It is not an epic final track.

Lyrics draw notable influence from Finnish pagan past, there’s a lot of old feel in the Finnish phrasing and the lyrics are very mythical with a lot of supernatural subjects that revolve around beliefs, day-to-day life, agriculture and especially hardships of life.

Kallomäki’s lyrical content and themes come from an age before christianity was dominant as a religion. An age where the difference between supernatural and natural didn’t yet exist in the minds of ordinary folk as the knowledge of science was in it’s infancy. Sometimes the lyrics cross the borders of cliche content but in general they bring a ton of magical mana (väki) to the music, it’s like a glimpse from a long gone era.

8½/10

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Nest

Kallomäki has been gigging with Nest a lot. Nest is a two man Neofolk/ambient project that’s based on the use of Finnish traditional instrument kantele. They have released not less than one of the best Finnish ambient albums of all time Trail of the Unwary (2007). The previous album Woodsmoke (2003) is more straight-forward and song based and also very much recommended.

In live setting Nest is just a man and kantele. It is a very relaxing experience, solid Nest melodies and improvising on them a lot. Here’s a fan captured version of Summer storm (Original track is from 2003, Woodsmoke): https://www.facebook.com/nestfinland/videos/320633115391873/

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Ancestors – Suspended in Reflections & King Goat – Debt of Aeons – Dazzling Double Doom Quickie

Ancestors – Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors-Suspended-in-Reflections-coverIt is not Ancestor, the Pre-Kalmah band but a plural Ancestors, an US doom band. Suspended in Reflections must be the prettiest album of the year. While it’s definitely not very extreme, it is unquestionably a doom record. Dazzlingly melodic and spacey, quite upbeat but still sadly solemn.

Ancestors song-writing department realized the godly chorus of Gone and repeat it thematically perfectly in the next track Through a Window. The Warm Glow is a perfect title to describe the sensation of the last track, this time there’s also some attitude in the vocals. One could ask, is this pop doom metal (yeah I just made up that genre), have they gone too far with the softness? However it may be to some, Suspended in Reflections is palpably damn well performed. It pulls some of my strings remarkably.

If only the lyrics where somewhere to be found or bought. Bands, add the digital booklets in Bandcamp and tell the customers please. Thanks. I will buy. A lot.

9/10

King Goat – Debt of Aeons

King-Goat_Debt-of-Aeons-500x500

It took a whole of 2 seconds for me to get the first goosebumps. Rapture‘s psychedelic jam is irresistible. King Goat is not supremely original but the riffs are always good and sometimes excellent. Compositions are not boring, the vocalist has a slightly mean and really well-sung output, reminds a bit Primordial’s Nemtheanga. Musically there’s something similar to The Wounded Kings.

King Goat is at their best when they slow down and let things mildly psychedelicate themselves and the riffs grow and alter from original setups. Alterations between heavier and quieter sections are nearly always excellent and delightfully common. The album breathes a lot. If only the melodic centerpiece of the title track Debt of Aeons had lasted longer. Still, it builds a mighty tension to the rest of the track. A very worthy title track

King Goat has had a good start in building themselves a solid discography, Debt of Aeons is their 2nd album, marginally better than Conduit (2016) (8/10 in my 2016 top list).

P.S. Conduit is a prime example on how to build a good album entity, 41 minutes with 26 minutes of solid leftover songs as bonus tracks. Instead of jamming them into 41 minute solid entity, making it too long, they were releases separately. Musicians, take note.

8/10

The Eternal – Waiting For The Endless Dawn

The-Eternal_Waiting-for-the-Endless-Dawn-500x500The Doom is back! The Eternal’s debut The Sombre Light of Isolation (2004) clearly hailed to old doom greats but after the debut The Eternal gradually decreased doom influences and brought in more gothic metal and atmospheric rock. I’ve been checking the albums in-between 2004 and 2018 with interest but they’ve always seemed to be too light and straight-forward to stay in my listening cycle for long. The Eternal haven’t been afraid of taking a side-step or two in every album, the sounds in their discography are really quite varied. Mostly well produced and composed albums.

Waiting for the Endless Dawn (2018) finally brings back a lot of those old doom influences. Gone are the 4 minute tracks, instead 5/7 tracks clock over 10 minutes! What a change. The music is still far from brutal extremities, there’s plenty of gothic metal and atmospheric rock traits but with a lot of slow developing song-structures, brooding atmosphere, symphonic backgrounds and proper heavy riffs. Vocalist/mastermind Mark Kelson’s voice is a big part of the gothic feel. If Waiting for the Endless Dawn was an all growled record, the effect would be much doomier. Mark Kelson does have brilliant cleans and the occasional growling makes both vocal styles have more of an impact.

The Wound is the longest and lightest track. But also the track that made an impact the fastest. Especially the beginning reminds a lot of Pink Floyd gone melancholic atmospheric rock, slow but sweet. The Wound gradually develops into a melodic metal track with a multitude of different elements, actually quite hard to put into a single genre! My personal favourite is the mildly progressive rhythmic part around 13 minutes. If you’ve read any of my reviews you must have noticed that I’m a sucker for those rhythmic progressive parts. A real solid and fluent composition overall.

On some negative aspects

There’s a huge emotional load in choruses, sometimes they feel quite melodramatic; catchy but slightly annoying choruses of Rise from Agony and Don’t Believe Anymore (Icehouse cover) suffer from this trait. One repeat of the annoying pop hum/singalong “Don’t believe anymoh-hoh-hoo” would have been enough, thanks. It’s a shame because Don’t Believe Anymore has many of the strongest melodic themes in the album. A very ambient and minimal, subtly Pink Floydish intro and a bunch of good guitar harmonies and leads. It is loyal to the original Icehouse version (1984, Sidewalk). Very memorable composition by this Aussie band. In Lilac Dust has a memorable melodic theme too, but for no apparent reason I don’t like it.

The album is 74 minutes long which makes it a bit of a pain to listen in one go aka TOO-FUCKING-LONG. However, all the tracks seem to be justified of their length, I can understand the dilemma of cutting something out from the release. Because of that challenge, a 52 minute Like Music To Your Ears bootleg playlist of the album was released with the review! The tracks are balanced differently by cutting out two least impressive 10 minuters. See the end of the post for full album and the Like Music To Your Ears bootleg in Spotify.

The-Eternal-Waiting-for-the-Endless-Dawn3

Positiveness

Waiting for the Endless Dawn is very rich in different elements without sounding forced. There must be a shitload of tracks in each of the songs. It brings a really dynamic overwhelming feel to the record, but the pieces also stick together naturally. Superb sounds.

A Cold Day to Face My Failure and I Lie in Wait are welcome darker doomy tracks. I Lie in Wait is in death-doomer in disguise with a soft-as-shit-gothic-rock-chorus I actually like (wow). Both have just excellent finales. A Cold Day to Face My Failure‘s lovely emotional finale has probably the best melodic theme of The Eternal’s career. I Lie in Wait on the other hand turns in a funeral doom tempo and then picks up double-bass, violins and a bit of black metallish rasp too. Ah, how dramatic! Ah, how symphonic! Perfectly placed cliche lyrics in the best chorus of the album, I Lie in Wait is a stunning entity with a very tangible emotional load.

I waited 14 years for The Eternal to embrace their doom roots and release this album… It is such a monster that I can imagine a year from now it can easily have grown to be better. Recommended for anyone with a soft spot for melancholic, slow and well-sung music.

8/10

The album in Spotify:

Like Music To Your Ears version (Rise From Agony is a bonus track):

Bandcamp: https://theeternal.bandcamp.com/album/waiting-for-the-endless-dawn

P.S. I love that their second single The Wound has a radio edit version of this 20 minute track. Radio edit has a ton of potential to play in your local radio channel as the track has been cut to a measly 10:37 :D. It still doesn’t beat Reverend Bizarre’s single Slave of Satan in 2005 though, it clocked 20:59.