zebulon kosted – you have no race you have no culture (2017)

zebulon kosted is around since 1999 and “you have no race you have no culture” is his 21st album, so it is quite a miss on my part that i’ve just been tipped off. the work at hand is quite a lot to digest with ease, evidently on purpose, by mechanically combining simple individual elements.

for the first part, one person band is quite a thing. the formula, while possibly lacking the virtuosity of individual players, obviously offers the sole musician endless expressive freedom. we have witnessed where the formula failed horribly. but then we have the ruins of beverast. the bottom line is, in essence we would expect originality and novelty from a one piece band.

second, we have a cycle of destructuring and restructuring of art, “in order to create, you must destroy”. the firmly established rules, guidelines, scales etc. of music (as in many other forms of art) have been continuously challenged, expanded, broken, only to be restructured as a novel form of self-expression. a shining example would be the glorious “einstürzende neubauten”, who destroyed everything we know as music, to bring us self-structured industrial soundscapes.

drawing parallels to the second point, the reshaping / restructuring in black metal has brought us numerous monumental pieces of art to behold in awe; but only after when we left our preconceptions of what black metal “should” sound like and embraced the beauty in the artists’ self-expression. arguably, the man himself ihsahn challenged those preconceptions and the boundaries of black metal by boldly producing those albums that we “now” hold dear. that creative vision paved way to (the later albums of) samael, satyricon, dødheimsgard and the like, to the constant restructuring of black metal and all its subgenres, all the while preserving the essence of black metal: the way it makes you feel. so, along the journey from “under the sign of the black mark” to “666 international” to “skáphe²“, black metal has continuously “evolved”, all the while maintaining its glory.

and finally we have “you have no race you have no culture”, a 52 minute self-expression by rashid abdel ghafur. what at first listen sounds like a total chaos of soundscapes is in itself quite well structured into two 3-song parts, an interlude, intro and outro. the actual songs themselves are quite good examples of restructured black metal. while being fundamentally coherent in themselves, the progression is undeniably unexpected in certain moments. take the opening track “stripping, burning, crushing” as an example. what starts as a good old aggressive blast beat frenzy of a black metal song suddenly delves into a demented fanfare and then melancholia. and you just keep saying “well i didn’t expect that!” i didn’t expect that tempo shift. why is this part here now? aah. the vocals range from raspy shrieks to wailings and always in place, the drums sound quite organic and the bassline is a joy to behold. the guitar sound is inescapably reverbed and buried as a layer but through all that is happening, you just cannot miss those beautiful black metal riffs.

through the rest of the album however, things take quite a different turn. he freely coveys his disdain on urban, religious and racial subjects through spoken word / movie samples. through these parts the sound is definitively industrial. you have mechanic percussions and sound effects galore, layered upon spoken parts. through the interlude especially, we listen to a poor lady’s terrified narration of how sebastian (?) showed him the face of the false god (track name) through the sad story of sea turtle hatchlings (?). after the title track, which blows the heaviest punch, the outro is half racial mumblings and half demented laughter over a pretty drone.

“you have no race you have no culture” obviously is an acquired taste and a lot of work to get into. the artist clearly does not aim at appealing to masses, nor does he hold any regards for conventional art. if the album does appeal to you, it will undoubtedly be a favourite, and if not, it is most certainly “interesting”.

project omega – mors introivit in orbem terrarum (2017, ep)

i wasn’t expecting this. 2017 looks like it’s trying to match 2016 in terms of black metal. now we have project (not deathspell) omega, from the unlikely georgia, a one man project of, you guessed it, omega. ok enough with the wordplay.

omega is quite straightforward with his approach. as the first beats hit, there’s a never ending experimentation. this is, avant-garde black metal? progressive? jazz-black? despite including just 4 songs and clocking at a quarter hour, the ep is filled with alternating riffs, passages, constantly syncopated drumming frenzy and a showcase of his musical prowess as well as virtuosity, especially shining in the drumming section.

the mood and sound vary slightly between songs; while the opener switches between fury and despair, with way too frequent start-stops, the second track is more on the sad side, the third one is thick and bass-y and the closer is a fine black metal piece with the best continuity. the sound is hardly any different than the other omega (you know, the deathspell one), while remarkably cleaner, except the obviously processed and muddy vocals. however, it is a nice touch that we can actually hear the singing, which is rather thick and throaty compared to the typical mono black metal shrieking.

all the goodies and the obvious dream theater-ing aside, i somehow wonder if this constant shifting of tempo, syncopation and experimenting benefit (black) metal. don’t get me wrong, the feeling is there. you feel the dark and despair of a sweet black metal release. but, (here comes the but) you do not have the groove, the continuity. take the first song, which is a prime example of complexity over continuity, you have a hard time getting into the groove, you don’t know how or when to bang your head or play the air-drum (yes this is a thing). and i’m not saying the release is a failed attempt, i’m quite sure he doesn’t give a single flying fuss (the other f word here) about continuity. so take this as it is, as it is intended, and just admire the structural complexity and excellence. for those who also want the groove, luckily we have nagelfar.

evilforces – pest plagues & storms (2016)

when weeks pass by without a notable find, i expect an album to appear nowhere to sweep me off my feet, or rather smack me in the face. and you don’t see that every day. neither do you see the album in question. evilforces is seemingly located in mexico, a solo project of pazuzuh, ex-drummer of ex-isolated, a mexican death metal band. and his prowess in drums shines throughout.

his debut is titled “pest plagues & storms” and came out in the last days of 2016, on christmas day to be precise, perhaps aimed as a mockery. not only “all instruments and vocals”, but also “recording, mixing, mastering, cover art, layout, lyrics” by pazuzuh, who seems to take the “one man band” thing further. first thing, this is a difficult release to digest. it is packed to the brim with exciting black metal ideas and execution. this might even be its downfall; as he sways through a wide range of musical influences, frequently employing punk / thrash based groove, also serving delightful moments of nordic / pagan black metal, doom, dsbm, avant-garde metal etc., the 72-minute journey becomes one commanding much attention and energy. and this is a polite way of saying it tires the fuck out of you. this might be a first album issue and he may find a coherent direction in the future or just stick with the confusion, we’ll hopefully find out in the future.

in the debut though, the pieces are brought together by a careful utilisation of instrumental pieces. the “prologue” is, as expected, an impressive slow tempo opener, filled with satanic chanting, which continues to the second track “the maskim hul”. as much as it delivers the expected breakdown, the “new black metal” sounding and blast-beat filled song has too many start-stops, lacking the continuity of a typical opener. after the prologue and three rather short and groovy tunes comes “interlude”, a horror movie unsettler with piano and female singing. you know the ones in an open field, everything seems serene, but you have a deep unnerving feel that pain and death lurks ever closer… and he’s behind you.

as you’d expect, the following songs stretch out more, filled with hypnotic beats and tremolo, morgul’esque passages and black metal infused psychedelia. all four tracks that follow are magnificent. but nothing can prepare you for the closing 20-minute saga that is “forever in possession state (persecuted)”. opening with a storm and unsettled herd noises, ever so slowly building up through the rain to blast off in style, what follows is the stuff of nightmares. here we have a few delicious recurring hypnotic themes and an unlucky lady wailing throughout the song, successfully inflicting an unbelievable amount of anguish to the poor listener. an amazing track worthy of its own release. actually he could have easily produced 3 separate releases with the material present in the album.

and so far i have said nothing of the sound or the production, which frankly seem nothing like a debut. double-track tremolo / chord guitars and the bass sound is neat, but the drums deserve the highest praise. so thick and organic and oh those double bass drums… there’s a lack of keyboards but loads of effects and samples. on top of the multi-tracked grim black metal singing we have spoken word, chanting, death metal and clean singing and occasional female chant (as well as torture). the production is as neat as can be, a clean sound with just the right amount of grit. sounds german rather than mexican, actually.

a haunting, respect-demanding, exhaustive rollercoaster of a black metal achievement. demands another listen. and another. and… well you get the point.

vi – de praestigiis angelorum (2015)

this is a shining example of french black metal insanity. standing somewhere between the fury of antaeus and the demanding structures of deathspell omega, “de praestigiis angelorum” is a 45 minute soul drenching experience. the album is technically flawless and emotionally disturbing. at times you feel the protagonist to whom you root for during the entire movie receives a lengthy, excruciating torture, and you feel the pain, and at the end they die. despite evoking mostly such negative emotions, the musical excellence also leaves the listener in an unavoidable awe.

vi includes (permanent and session) members of antaeus and aosoth, led by bst (sébastien tuvi), the mastermind of aosoth, on bass & samples, blastum on drums and inrvi on guitars & vocals. once the listener gets past the distant tone of the production, which makes the album even more inaccessible, the complex and intriguing structure unravels. upon the bass-laden structure, we have masterful yet insane drumming. on every gap between furious blast beats and / or double bass attacks, blastrum showcases nice little touches and tricks while maintaining complete control, navigating the music through frequent shifts in mood and tempo. the guitars are so satisfying, utilising multi-tracks, insane riffing (in the vein of dso) and variation set the atmosphere. not so much to say about his singing that fits like a glove. no keyboards here, but sampling (not overdone) of usually eerie orthodox chanting and other horror effects strengthens the nightmarish atmosphere.

quite exhaustive, even wearying. each listen is sure to present many missed moments. despite sounding complex or even chaotic, the songs themselves are quite coherent, with an evident direction and repetition of themes. with a chanting and unsettling intro and seven tracks of black metal beauty, the fourth one “regarde tes cadavres car il ne te permettra pas qu’on les enterre” (much ctrl+v’ing here) in three motions is a stand out piece. the song opens normally, shifting tempo and whatnot, suddenly giving way to an unnerving horror interlude of samples and finally attacks all-on with a 2 minute blast beat filled frenzy.

oh, by the way, just do not let the amazing cover art of the illustrious alexander l. brown go unnoticed. seven angels with dark faces in a circle in front of a heptagonal form.

as again, thank you france.

grey heaven fall – black wisdom (2015)

russian black metal trio have been active for about ten years and black wisdom is their second full-length. the fact that i just came across this gem is just sad. this may be due to the band’s rather low profile or the russian black metal scene itself. the 51 minute, 6 track album showcases brilliant moments of black metal splendour, ornamented in parts by ambient elements, death/doom influences and a “modern” black metal structure characterised by complex riffing, ringing sound and syncopated scales. however, black wisdom is not necessarily inaccessible, as its contemporaries.

grey heaven fall embrace a thick, guitar & drum based structure where guitar leads, sets the tone and the atmosphere masterfully. here you have the trademark black metal tremolo, dissonant riffing, death metal power chords, beautiful solos, arpeggios, ambient sections and much variation by guitar sound alone. the drums follow the lead so well, shifting between double-bass, blast beats and slower, off-scale moments masterfully. while setting the pace, the drum work is so controlled and there is not one unnecessary show-off drum section. neither is there one out of place hit and this mechanical perfection complements the overall organic sound in such a satisfying fashion. i would prefer a crispier (if not louder) sound for the bass, though, which shines in moments when it leads. vocal sections (in russian) are somewhat limited for the sake of lengthy passages of instrumentation and experimentation. the tone is awesome, ranges from death metal throaty to black metal shrieking to anguish wailing.

while maintaining variation and experimentation in a controlled manner, grey heaven fall succeed in keeping the black metal solemnity throughout. however, the individual songs convey varying emotions as the first two furious tracks give way to the third rather melancholic song. then comes the fourth ambient track and the closing two tracks are more on the doom/death metal side, extremely heavy, if not as pacey as the opening duo, while maintaining the overall song structure and including lengthy slower passages. this sway of emotions may be distracting or demanding on the part of the listener but the album is sure to present new moments of brilliance and awe in each listening.

awe – providentia (2015)

i always believe the likes of samael, satyricon, deathspell omega and such should always be revered for bending the rules of black metal, by introducing new elements, variations and pushing the limits. and now we have insanely amazing experimentation in black metal, as witnessed in the acts of icelandic newcomers wormlust or finnish heavyweights oranssi pazuzu.

and now awe. i feel like the ever-shifting, syncopated scales of tool, deranged shifts and passages of morgul, demanding structure of dso, confusing atmosphere of blut aus nord, transcendence of thorns all came together in an attempt to produce providentia, greek newcomer awe’s debut. with the fury and speed of marduk. the album includes lengthy blast beat sections, which barely let the listener catch their breath. and tremolos of darkthrone. add to that occasional groove and you have a masterpiece.

sadly, we know nothing about the band member(s), as is the thing with new black metal acts. also following this new tradition, the 50+ minute album contains just 3, obviously quite lengthy tracks. however, the variation, experimentation and the madness keep you going. unlike almost all atmospheric black metal acts embracing a keyboard laden structure, awe opt for a no-bullshit drum and guitar sound. the drumming is simply insane. so technical, varied and masterfully leading the scales during slower passages, while deliciously assaulting the listener’s ears during pacey parts. the guitars produce the rhythm, melody and the atmosphere. which allows the bass, with its heavy and loud tone, to wander in a complete wonderland. just a joy to follow. the vocals, furious as they are, are throatier and death metal – appropriate, however the voice is so brutal and furious that it complements the music wonderfully. the lyrical concept is heavily philosophical, mythological and biblical (in a blasphemous manner). the production quality and sound are more than agreeable, with the instruments clearly audible without sounding synthetic, with the exception of coming-from-deep vocals.

now, intros are something of an obligation, to set the mood, disturb the listener or paint the musical scenery. the first 6 minutes of actus primus though, is quite simply a wonderful and coherent song in itself. opens so slowly and doom-y, builds layer after layer by free drumming, simple melodies and noises but nothing can prepare you for what’s to come. and maybe this is what awe is aiming. the first act continues for a solid 10 minute long assault, experimentation, frequent shifts in rhythm, mood and melody, without dropping the speed until the slower outro. the second act, actus secundus, while continuing in the madness and the chaotic structure, includes more moments of traditional music and groove. amazing solos. the song closes, as the first one does, on a doomier note, with the organ and noise effects. and the last “pure act” actus purus (the absolute perfection of god) delivers exactly what its name promises. blasts open, all on, relentlessly continues with frenzied, generous blast beats, chaos, confusion and variation, occasional groove, until the slower closing minutes that wrap it all up in a slow and painful note.

awe is simply impressive and promising in their debut work. the path they chose, madness through constant shifting and experimentation however left little room for memorable (or haunting in this matter) melodies and cohesion. but this is more than compensated by the atmosphere and overall feel of the album. and now i want to close up avoiding the obvious pun.

dodecahedron – dodecahedron (2012)

such a bold step towards musical majesty. and this is the debut (and thus far the only) album of the dutch band. now, it is outright easy and even lazy to compare every avant-garde black metal act to the colossal deathspell omega. however, dodecahedron do not aim at creating that nightmarish atmosphere and cohesion. and they don’t have to. what we have here is pure creativity, pure chaos, musical majesty and an effort to push the boundaries. instead, the album reminded me much more of king crimson or the mars volta. in a black metal way, of course. the jazz influence is obvious, the bizarre passages and lengthy experimentations are there, alongside that black metal feel we all love, in a crisp-clean production. it is difficult to speak of an overall musical concept for the album, at least at the first couple of listens. one would rather keep an open mind and appreciate the interwoven moments of musical awesomeness. i sure hope to listen to their next work in the near future. the closing title rocks. 

müzikal muhteşemliğe yönelik atılmış cesurca bir adım. özellikle bunun grubun ilk (ve bugüne kadar tek) albümü olduğunu göz önünde bulundurmak gerek. her avant-garde black metal çalışmasını allame-i cihan deathspell omega’ya benzetmek kolay ve tembelce bir iş olur. ne var ki, dodecahedron bu kabus benzeri atmosferi ve bütünlüğü amaçlamıyor. zorunda da değiller zaten. bunun yerine, elimizde saf yaratıcılık, karmaşa, müzikal muhteşemlik ve sınırları yıkma çabası var. aslında albüm bana daha çok king crimson veya the mars volta’yı çağrıştırdı. tabi black metal hali. jazz etkisi belirgin, tuhaf ve uzun deneysel geçişler mevcut ve bunun yanında hepimizin sevdiği o black metal hissi , son derece temiz bir kayıtla bizlere sunulmuş. genel bir müzikal konseptten, özellikle ilk dinlemelerde bahsetmek pek mümkün değil. açık görüşlü olup birbirinin içine geçmiş şahane anların tadını çıkarmak gerek. yakın gelecekte yeni albümlerini dinlemeyi gerçekten umuyorum. kapanış şarkısı dinleyenin ağzına vuruyor.

deathspell omega – paracletus (2010)

after rather obscure and newcoming black metal bands, i opted for a cult today. the last album of french gentlemen (to this date) paracletus showcases the band’s most mature and mesmerising moments. it is as complex, hard-to-listen, chaotic and masterfully crafted as ever, but deathspell omega’s mastery is their success in integrating all the progressive and avant-garde elements into the black metal structure seamlessly. all those odd time signatures, chaotic (but orderly) passages, bizarre repetitions and reprises  and such shenanigans never distract you from the overall gloomy and hopeless athmosphere that is deathspell omega. of all the tracks, the anguish-filled closing song apokatastasis panton is my favourite. the french make some of the nicest and most insane black metal. take antaeus, arkhon infaustus or the musical devilry we know as blut aus nord. thank you france. the wine may be overpriced, though. 

nispeten az bilinen yeni gruplardan sonra bugün bilindik bir şeyler dinlemek istedim. fransız beyefendilerinin (şimdilik) son albümü paracletus, grubun ustalık eseri. alıştığımız ve sevdiğimiz üzere, karmaşık, dinlemesi zor, kaotik  ve ustaca yapılmış. aslında deatspell omega’nın gerçek ustalığı bütün progresif ve avangart unsurları black metal yapısına yerleştirmesinde yatıyor. kullanılan aksak ritm, karmaşık (ama düzenli) geçişler, tuhaf tekrarlar gibi teknik ıvır-zıvır dinleyiciyi kasvetli ve umutsuz deathspell omega atmosferinden uzaklaştırmıyor. şarkılar içinden acı dolu kapanış parçası apokatastasis panton favorim. sanırım fransızlar en güzel ve ruh hastası black metal’i yapıyorlar. antaeus veya arkhon infaustus mesela. veya blut aus nord adıyla bilinen güzellik. şaraplar biraz pahalı olsa da teşekkürler fransa.