Thursday, 25 February 2016

Pogavranjen - Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem

(February 15th, 2016, Arachnophobia Records)

Seems like Croatia has a very promising predisposition of making music in their own, different way. Croatian scene maybe isn't the biggest one, but definitely among the most original ones. Every Croatian band I know has something very special about it and I often end up being mind blown by the music. True - a clever marriage of crust, death metal and... traditional Croatian instrument, tamburica. Seven That Spells - psychedelia and krautrock merged into one big pool of sonic acid. Johann Wolfgang Pozoj - a very difficult to describe avant-garde black metal with ex members of True... Yeah, Croatian scene really is something unusual. And now Pogavranjen joins this very weird company. And fits in perfectly.
   Pogavranjen are from Zagreb, Croatia, and for now they have two EPs and three LPs in their discography. To be perfectly honest with you - before listening to Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem I absolutely had no idea what to expect because I haven't heard anything by the band before. But now, afterwards, I know that not being familiar with their music was a big mistake. Why? Because this band is a real pearl of black metal. And their new album is the proof. If you read my Aluk Todolo review, you probably know how much I enjoy well done avant-garde black metal. Well, surprise, Pogavranjen aren't only well done avant-garde black metal... it's top-notch avant-garde black metal. First of all, it's really hard to describe their music. And probably that was the purpose. For Pogavranjen "avant-garde" isn't just some label. They indeed mix every single influence of various music in their dark, melancholic, black metal way. This isn't easy listening. But when you grasp it, you can be sure - you'll never forget this album.
   By the way, did I say anything about the atmosphere of this album? Because it deserves a statue. Pogavranjen know their black metal and from the beginning we are surrounded by darkness, sadness and obscurity. It reminds me of Monotheist by Celtic Frost, only even gloomier. Melancholy just hits you in the spine. Also, you may notice the thick cigarette smoke coming out of your speakers. It's because of the very jazzy vibe throughout the album. Pogavranjen know how music is done. They are mixing everything but in a quite subtle way. And that's what I love about them. So many influences could give me a headache, but instead I just have a desire to put this album on repeat. Jazz, psychedelia, everything mixed in a very masterful way... That's how you do a genius avant-garde album. Despite all these influences, they are still a black metal band. They know how to build a specific atmosphere; heavy, depressing and really, really sinister.
   Pogavranjen send you to the deep, dark abyss where you can't find any hope. Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem is a a very dark, ill and unsettling album. But also, it's very ambitious, clever and intriguing. It pushes the boundaries of black metal to something much more. When you compare this to their earlier works you can feel how they evolved and improved their music. In my opinion, Pogavranjen are great. They totally deserve to be put on the same shelf with the best bands in avant-garde black metal. This genre is a real pearl, but making this music is a hard and serious work. Pogavranjen did this and even more. This is probably one of the best albums in the genre. Do you want a mind trip into some dark, horrendous place? Take Pogavranjen as your guide.
   Frankly, this album crushed me into the ground. It's a real masterpiece, and among the best albums in last couple of years. So, if you don't know what to do now, I will tell you... Go to their bandcamp and buy the new album. You'll do yourself a big favour and provide your ears with some really fantastic music.

- Tomek

Thursday, 18 February 2016

God Body Disconnect - Dredge Portals

(January 12th, 2016, Cryo Chamber)

Cryo Chamber, a label led by Simon Heath of Atrium Carceri has been releasing some really well done ambient works from the beginning. Works that truly capture this unbelieveable feeling of traveling through sound. Beautiful cinematic releases, walks through other dimensions, cosmic adventures, dark journeys... Cryo Chamber know it all. One of their latest releases is a perfect example of this. It's called Dredge Portals and was made by one-man project under the name God Body Disconnect. Name of the album ideally captures the meaning of this music. It really opens portals to other worlds, and every world is different with each track. And you know what? It's done perfectly.

   God Body Disconnect is a project of a talented American from New Jersey, Bruce Moallem, and Dredge Portals is his first album. At first I couldn't really believe how mature this album sounds. The record is quite diverse and beside the dark ambient we have little moments of field recordings, electronica, piano and even guitars. There are calm moments, as well as disturbing and unsettling ones. The final atmosphere is built by narration, where the sense of watching a film reaches its climax. Of course, this film isn't visual, so a lot of it is left to listeners imagination. This is really an amazing move... In some sort of way God Body Disconnect pushed the boundaries of dark ambient to something much more. And, honestly, I'm really impressed by this.

   Dredge Portals grabs your body and immerses your mind into its own world. World totally different than yours... a world without everyday worries and troubles. For an hour you feel free, calm and cleansed... You just have to let the waves of this album do all the work and take you on their sonic ride.

   When it comes to atmosphere, Cryo Chamber bands really are something great and this record is a proof. Mr. Bruce Moallem - you surely know how to entertain and blow the minds of your listeners.

   God Body Disconnect had an amazing beginning. To make a such diverse and addictive ambient music in the first attempt is pure art and takes a lot of work and talent. I can't imagine my night soundscapes without this album. Every little moment of Dredge Portals whispers to my ear "Lay down, relax, let me take you on a fantastic journey." And there really is no choice, I must do it. You can't fight the magnetic power of Dredge Portals. You'll find out this yourself if you take a listen to this album.

- Tomek


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Nonsun - Black Snow Desert

(January 6th, 2016, Independent)

Nonsun, an instrumental duo from Ukraine, released earlier this year their first full-length, Black Snow Desert. The band has been active since 2011, and before this album they had two EPs; Good Old Evil and Sun Blind Me. Considering the lenght of these EPs one would maybe think of them as long-playing albums since each clocks well over 40 minutes. But Nonsun have a tendency of writing very long songs, so each of these EPs holds four tracks. Their latest release holds seven tracks which span over two CDs making this monolith of an album almost hour and a half long. However, they don't write long songs just for the sake of writing long songs. These are well-thought-out compositions which heavily rely on dynamics, atmosphere, sonic experimentations and improvisation. The music, although very slow and minimalistic, is quite unpredictable and in some way exciting. Nonsun experiment with dark, droning, ambient music, heavy doom metal riffing and interesting, haunting, chord progressions, as well as somewhat unusal rhythm patterns. Drumming is at times very laid-back and kind of Pink Floyd-ish (maybe even jazzy), but at other times huge, ground-shaking and very solid.

   What differentiates Nonsun from the sea of today's drone, sludge and doom bands is their specific atmosphere. If we could call Earth's music a soundtrack for post-apocalyptic western, then Nonsun's would be a soundtrack for post-Chernobyl disaster. The whole album makes you feel like you're wandering throuh some dark, dreary, barren wasteland with nothing but heavy grey clouds above and land covered with ashes below. The title of the album describes the music quite correctly as does the minimalistic cover art. There is no sun and no life on this forsaken land, only a black, cold desert and grey sky which embraces it on the horizon. 

   Although the description of the music might sound disturbing and depressing, I myself found it quite soothing. It is really an ambiental record more than anything else, but fans of heavy riffing will definitely also find satisfaction, as will the lovers of experimental and psychedelic music.

  Nonsun are a very promising band which should, in my humble opinion, get much more recognition, and Black Snow Desert is definitely their best effort to date. I highly recommend you to give them a listen and take a walk through the ruins of Pripyat.

- Luka


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Garganjua - A Voyage in Solitude

(January 29th, 2016, Black Bown Records, Hibernacula Records)

One day I was aimlessly wandering through the vastness of the internet, randomly clicking on various music links, as I usually do, always hoping to find something new, fresh, exciting... something that will really impress me. And there it was... a youtube link for a full Garganjua album, A Voyage in Solitude. I clicked, expecting very little, because rarely I discover something really mind blowing these days. And then it started... the Voyage. And boy... was I mind blown... blown and swept away by the power of this doom trio from Leicestershire, UK. I was just sitting there jaw dropped for 41 minute and 6 seconds after which I just thought: "Finally!". No, not "Finally, the album is over", but "Finally, someone made an album like this!". 

   Garganjua released a Trip Wizard EP back in 2014. It's a good release, very much influenced by the classic UK doom. Early Cathedral, early Electric Wizard, and, of course, Black Sabbath. And this is pretty much how it sounds. It's not bad, far from it, it's a good doom EP, with some nice riffing, good growls and some decent clean vocals. But it seems these guys wanted to do something much more on their new album. And they certainly did. A Voyage In Solitude is a beautiful fusion of old and new... of traditional and contemporary. A huge palette of sounds is present on this record... From the traditional sound of Black Sabbath, across the early death doom of Cathedral and the epic doom of bands like Candlemass, Solstice and Warning to the modern, more progressive sound of Yob and Pallbearer, these guys blended it all perfectly. Garganjua have no problem taking you smoothly throughout all these doom subgenres, often changing dynamics by incorporating quiet, atmospheric intros and breaks to let you breathe a little in between their huge walls of riffs. Vocals also change... At times you will hear extremely powerful growls (really, it's been a while since I last heard harsh vocals performed with such consistency and clarity), which then give way to, also incredibly well done, clean singing. This shifting between quiet and heavy instrumental parts and harsh and clean vocals is what gives A Voyage in Solitude a distinctive aura and a unique atmosphere.

   A Voyage in Solitude truly is a voyage... a journey which shows us various forms of human states of mind... despair, anxiety, grief, melancholy, but also hope, patience, strenght, endurance, spirituality... And at the end of this hard, long and solitary road, human being eventually experiences catharsis.

   It's a beautifully done album with great cover artwork by Alan O'Neill which suits the music perfectly. Overall production is exceptional; heavy, yet very clear and definitely gives a great final touch to the whole vibe of the album.

   It is evident that these three guys put their whole hearts and souls into making this amazing piece of music, so if you like what you hear give them your support, and keep an eye out on them because I have a feeling this bunch will go far.

- Luka


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Aluk Todolo - Voix

(February 5th, 2016, Norma Evangelium Diaboli, The Ajna Offensive)

It's pretty hard to do a good avant-garde mix of totally different genres. Only really good bands can do this and compose such tracks. Aluk Todolo - and I realise that with every new album - aren't just good... They're geniuses. I'm their fan since Descension and it's a pure pleasure to watch how they still have great ideas for improving their crazy, fantastic music. Crazy? Yes... I can't call a mixture of krautrock and black metal anything different.
   First of all - I love krautrock. Almost every album made within this genre is something special to me. This "weird german progressive rock" was definitely one of a kind because now it's hard to find a krautrock band. Of course, there's a lot of kraut-influenced bands, but rarely anyone plays pure krautrock these days. Is Aluk Todolo pure krautrock? No. It's more.
   Just the description of their music makes my brain wiggle. Aluk Todolo is a blackened krautrock with some jazz influences, very organic sound and a tribal vibe. Now just add some seriously dark, occult themes and here you are... within the brain-melting sonic cauldron of these Frenchmen. I would say this band's sound is one of the most original I've heard in years. Is the new album different than the previous ones? Well...yes and no. Aluk Todolo are still exploding with genius ideas which are perfectly delivered on Voix. The album is a bit more jazz influenced than their other releases which means they're definitely still evolving their sound. It's more psychedelic and even more darker. It is also a very addictive and entertaining album when you get into its twisted atmosphere. With every new listening I'm discovering new things in it. I would say it's a "signature move" by these French geniuses because every album had the same feeling of conquering something totally crazy and new. Voix is their fourth long-play and it seems like they are not staying in one safe place but constantly improving their sound... And this really is something special. Voix is a perfect example of experimental music and, seriously, if you think you listened to everything and that nothing can surprise you anymore - try Voix friends, and expect your mind to implode. There is still a lot to say in music and Voix shows us that perfectly.
   I was doing this review for quite some time... I wanted to be objective as much as I could. But it's just impossible. I love these guys, I love their music and I want to admire them as long as I can. Objective or subjective - new album is a monster. Perfect monster... And, at least for me, quite possibly the best album of 2016. Yes, even this early into the year. Some say that love is blind. Maybe, but definitely not deaf.

- Tomek

Friday, 5 February 2016

Litovsk - s/t Demo Tape

 (April 1st, 2014, Symphony of Destruction)

Post punk isn’t a genre where you can say something new. It had it’s boom back in late 70s and ended in early 80s. Since 2000 we have a little revival going on but it’s definitely not the same. Now, post punk is pretty much dead. Some classic bands are still recording but slowly waning and waiting for things to end, young bands are nowhere to find... And in this post punk wasteland suddenly appears a new hope. Some Frenchmen from Brest definitely forgot about last three decades and they’re still thinking that post punk is great and alive... Their band is called Litovsk and they started their career back in 2014 with a self titled demo. I’m skeptical when it comes to resurrecting dead genres but when I heard that they are playing on a punk festival near me, I immediately checked out their demo. And I sank in...

   Let's make something clear - I'm not a fan of revival post punk. I like it but I don't feel these classic vibes in it. The revival is closer to brit pop rock. Post punk was meant to be agressive, avant-garde, a step forward from punk, but with many similarities. And this is the recipe for Litovsk music... They describe their music as anarcho post punk and I must agree. It's very pissed off music but without crossing the borders of post punk. We still have this characteristic guitar sound, deep rhytmic bass, and mechanical sound of percussions. With a slight help from great (for a demo) production and really fantastic songwriting skills we get eighteen minutes of great, primal, old school post punk. The demo is very cathcy, some of the songs were stuck in my head for a really long time.

   The best ones are "Negenst" and "Eindeloze Winter", but the whole album is very well done and it's pretty hard to find a bad moments in this music. The reason might be the lenght - eighteen minutes are long enough to show your best bits, but maybe not long enough to show your downsides. But I don't really care. What matters is that this Brest crew is doing surprisingly good post punk.

   Every band must begin their journey in some way. Litovsk's beginning is really, really good and I can't wait to see them live soon. And of course hear some new material. After a demo like this my hopes are quite high.

- Tomek

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


(January 22nd, 2016, House of Mythology)   

It’s been awhile since Ulver were a fantastic band. Back then, everything they touched turned to gold. Black metal? No problem. Neofolk? Yeah, sure. Trip hop? Done! But after 2007 something broke. Album Shadows of the Sun was last REALLY great material written by Ulver. Everything after that... well... Wars of Roses was a bad album, not just in Ulver’s discography, but overall. Messe from 2013 was quite boring. Meanwhile they released a pretty good psychedelic cover album and a decent live album, but seriously, nobody really cared. You can’t go back to form with cover album and live album, because they don’t show your composition skill. Yeah, something broke. And many blame Daniel O'Sullivan. He came to Ulver after Shadows of the Sun, so there was something suspicious about it...

   Why do I say that? To show how small my expectations were. I didn’t care about new Ulver at all. But when I heard it... I was a little surprised. New album isn’t a continuation of Wars of the Roses, it’s closer to Shadows of the Sun or Messe (but without the boring parts). It’s very ambiental, full of cinematic moments and definitely better than everything since Shadows of the Sun. As a fan of Can, I also appreciate the krautrock feel of the album. You can hear passion and ideas behind this release and it doesn’t seem so “forced” as previous ones. Hard to not feel the atmosphere of “old” Ulver releases... especially because band wanted to remind us of these by remixing some of old songs. "Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)" is more mellowed down version of "Nowhere/Catastrophy" from Perdition City, "Glammer Hammer" is much better version of one of the songs from Wars of the Roses... I’m sure there are more of these, but I didn’t catch other reference.  I’m bad at that.

   New album is soothing, full of primal trance and very pleasant. But to be honest, I do hear some unnecessary things. "Om Hanumate Namah" and "Ecclesiastes" are somewhat ruining the atmosphere. Compared to other songs, these are pretty mediocre. I mentioned ealier "Nowhere"  and I think this version isn’t as near as good as the original from Perdition City. Also, in my opinion, a vocal track in album like this doesn’t have much purpose. To be frank, second half of the album feels much worse than the first one. Of course, there are some great tracks, like "D-Day Drone" or "Desert/Dawn", but overall, it doesn’t impress and is more forgettable than first half.
   It's still a quite nice album. I wouldn't call it "the return of Ulver" because it still isn't good as their best works, but at least this one is the best in the last ten years. I hope by the next release they will improve their sound more and we will get even a better album. But for now, ATGCLVLSSCAP is still enjoyable.

- Tomek