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.

zhrine – unortheta (2016)

i have praised iceland before. many times. but obviously i can go on. now we have zhrine (previously a death metal band called gone postal). their debut unortheta is simply an impressive album in the icelandic extreme metal school, wandering mainly in black, death and occasionally doom metal territories. however, the load of melancholy present in the album as well as the artistic approach of the band sets this release clearly apart from your typical death metal.

this emotion manifests itself in its purest form in the opening track, with a sweet build up from sorrowful arpeggio, bass and then a torturing of guitars (rather than a riff) and an onslaught of heavy drumming. vocals totally rule the music. extremely low and loud death metal growls (and rare shrieks) add much brutality. the “death metal” however goes little further than this, except few passages. the rest is solidly structured songs of agony, anger and a free flow of experimentation. the two guitars lead the atmosphere throughout most of the album, a freely experimenting lead over manic riffing. bass sounds so organic and “old-school”, which leads quite often, rather than laying the rhythm. the fury, agony, technicality, shifting and sudden changes in tempo are only reflected in masterful drum playing here. besides being extremely well executed, the sound again is toned perfectly, thick and alive.

unortheta is an artistically executed and well produced album conveying a wide array of emotions and soundscapes. loaded with shifting passages, tempo changes and experimentation, it is still accessible at first listen and coherently structured, allowing themes and passages to build up in their time, rather than being cacophonic. an overall awesome album and one should expect nothing less than a piece of art from iceland.

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.

wormlust – the feral wisdom (2013)

don’t really know how to… mental disorder black metal? it is so refreshing and life-affirming to find out that people do such music. just as the colossally awesome cover work hints, the album is an exceptional piece of abstract art. horror, confusion, chaos, atmosphere all put together. there are precious few moments of conventional music, as we know it. the songs are structured in a way that feels random pieces randomly put together, at first few listens. so frequent shifts in tempo, direction and melody. it is so inaccessible and hard-to-listen that it embraces you. i listened, with my beloved headphones over and again and i feel i will do so for some time to come. technically, dare i say the reversal of the bass / lead guitar may be revolutionary. bass leads the melody, supported deliciously by masterful drum work and the guitar for the most part adds the buzz / noise layer with occasional ring / lead exceptions. oh and the electronics. and the atmosphere created collectively. brief singing sections range from furious shrieks to whispers and carry along the atmosphere (besides the album title, everything is in icelandic). the first song explodes with deranged and disorienting energy and confusion after a brief intro and carries on pausing and shifting for over ten minutes. the confusion intensifies at the second track, which wanders the deeper parts of the black metal realm, directionless. possibly my favourite. the third one is more of a totally ambient piece, and it is without exaggeration a masterpiece of deranged and confused form of ambient music, if that is a thing. and the closing track  carries on where the second track left, with so much wandering, experimenting and shifting to give way to the closing minutes of deathblow, where everything is wrapped up beautifully. wow iceland.

skáphe – skáphe² (2016)

behold, a black metal happening. chaotic to the point of cacophony, relentless, brutal, disharmonic, sinister, deep and without compromise. not much can be said about song structures besides being norm breaking. intertwined soundscapes, echoes, sound effects, overlaying vocals and confusion. the overall effect is a vision of hell being raised on earth. literally. a great listen, commanding another go. and another.

skáphe includes alex poole of chaos moon and krieg and icelandic d.g. of misþyrming and 〇 (a personal favourite) and even those black metal credentials do not prepare you for what to come in their debut skáphe2. the main feat is the sound. so full of reverb and noise, the music seems to emerge from a cave, or more specifically the depths of hell, which might be the idea judging from the cover art. an interesting note is that it is painted by the icelandic h.v. lyngdal, the mastermind of the colossal black metal act wormlust.

as the first paragraph hinted, the music structure is pretty difficult to describe and there is an evident lack of source for comparison. the songs open, build up and shift so abruptly and unexpectedly, it feels like the duo have ocd and just wish to play with new ideas. there are passages cut mid-scale for the sake of new material. most songs are loaded with lengthy psychedelic experimentation, especially in the slower and heavier side b.

bass tops the sound, first to be heard and instead of following the rhythm, it sways and leads, adding further complexity. then comes the insane drums that set the tone. the shrieking, delirious, painful and overlaying vocals adds to the insanity. there are no lyrics available and i highly doubt if there is any. while the guitars ring and wail most of the time, riffing actually takes effort to hear, creating the base buzz layer.

skáphe seem to have opted for an experience of horror that transcends reality into a hellish / nightmarish phantasmagoria instead of conventional musical structure. and they deliver. since there is no abstract division between songs, which have no names but roman numbers, it is difficult to speak of a favourite song, but a collection of favourite moments, which last for about 35 minutes.

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.

the ruins of beverast – rain upon the impure (2006)

tam 78 dakikalık (6 şarkı) bir trans hali. tarifi pek kolay olmayan bir albüm. biraz alman övmek gerekirse, alexander von meilenwald adında bir dahinin tek başına yürüttüğü bir muhteşemlik the ruins of beverast. 2006 tarihli 2. stüdyo albümü kış, gece, orman, yalnızlık, hayalet orduları gibi unsurlar içeren cümleler kurduruyor. şarkılar uzun, hipnotik, düzensiz olarak tekrar eden ve insana musallat olan geçişler içeriyor. albümün uzaklardan geliyor gibi bir sesi olmakla beraber enstrümanlar ve (gerçekten muhteşem) vokal temiz olarak duyuluyor. vokal, müziğin yaratmak istediği acı dolu / psychedelic atmosferi çok çok iyi tamamlayacak şekilde. şarkılar bir bütünün parçası gibi, yine de korolu, varyasyonlu ve süründürücü blood vaults biraz öne çıkıyor gibi.