Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ATARAXY - Revelations of the Ethereal (2012)

A Journey to the Ethereal

This album is like a drug. The more I listen to, the more I lust for it. But, on the start, me and “Revelations of the Ethereal” weren’t good friends. I just found it as a mediocre portion of metal meal. Fortunately the album didn’t want to leave me alone, I gave it a chance and… something has sparkled. This Zaragoza-based crew that grew out of the Finnish and Swedish old school fertile soils, tries to create their own morbid visions. The patterns are splendid, yet it’s very easy without any hindrance to be another clone on the scene. The answer on ‘did the Spaniards avoid being next blind copy-cat?’ sounds: YES!

The musicians didn’t have to show any spectacular and unique abilities in playing on their instruments, they bombed my heart with simple means exclusively and conquered it forever. Produced in Moontower with the help of Javi Félez, it elbows on my desk casting all the titles down.  And even if Ataraxy is marked as death metal (what a name for a band?!), they aren’t like a bolide of Fernando Alonso. No, the Spaniards aren’t pressed for time, there is no hurry. The death is evident, yet doom genre should be added to Ataraxy description as well. And now I know it, during listening to the opening introduction, the Ataraxy path leads to something uncommon. But the album doesn’t abduct me in the brutal way, it’s just like it gives me its strong hand. So slowly… to the ethereal dimensions. Yep, there are some speed-ups, in every song, but they are not the most important thing, as the slow monumental overwhelming riffs are basis here. It is proper to plunge in awesome tunes of melodic guitars that decorated each songs, entwining my senses astonishingly with ease.      

Simple music, but… definitely not as a background for everyday works. Simple music, but… only with closing eyes in a dark room, at night… Yes, then one becomes a passenger. Simple music, but it’s very hard to choose the best track. I say more, it’s an impossible task. And with the final great result while listening to it from the first second to the last one. At this juncture, the heavy sounds descend upon the willing senses, willing to go on a journey. With a mind immersed in chaos and unreachable spheres, under veiled skies through necrotic shadow of decay and ceremonial flames on ominous putrefied ground, facing the demons of the storm, I fall into the ethereal slumber…

The Spaniards recorded a splendid slab of monstrous death and doom metal that holds me really tight and doesn’t let me live without. From the front cover perfectly referring to the text layers to the last seconds of closing song. Rooted in the old-schoolish matrix, they manage to create their own musical alley, with no useless sound or word. And believe me, there is the true essence of metal where doom and death weave another cryptic creation. The creation I follow…


(written on March, 2015)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

XIUHCOATL 6 (2013)


This xeroxed zine is my first meeting with the representant of Mexican underground press. The decisive factor for that situation is the Spanish language. Here I have English written at last, thus there is no problem to understand the words Ederh, the only person behind it, wrote. So what can I say about Xiuhcoatl? Unfortunately, this journey wasn’t nice for me. Of course, Ederh is full of passion, the whole is made the ancient cut’n’paste way, it’s clear that he wants to do something for the metal underground glory, however his knowledge of English isn’t good. It refers to both questions and reviews. Not uncommonly he uses very confused grammatical constructions making the whole very hard to get the picture. It’s not a trouble-free ride, yet sometimes the reading is like a wading in slimy mire with attacking malaria mosquitoes all the time. The interviews haven’t been premised, they are schematic to the backbone. Ederh is rather fully-fledged and asks in detail, however all his efforts are focused on musical aspects only. Matter of course, the best inties are with Aura Noir (the longest one with 43 questions), Poisonous and Riotor due to good English answers. Also, reading answers from VRPI wasn’t so hard like chats with Vomitor and Chainsaw, with several short laconic answers.

Ederh wrote 157 reviews, 141 with music and 16 with press titles. Some of them are rather long, but poor English ruined the final effort. In addition the big number of typos, spelling mistakes, problems with page numeration doesn’t let me put a good final opinion on Xiuhcoatl.

Ederh must understand that serious improvement of his English is essential to do next issues. Or maybe bring Spanish back on the pages? And one more thing on the end that is very important for me. This Coatzacoalcos-based zine, with its name that is deeply rooted in Mexica beliefs with references to Xiuhtecuhtli and Huitzilopochtli, should show this great heritage among its pages. Yep, I know, Ederh placed old picture of the Dark Half band having the Feathered Serpent Pyramid at Teotihuacan in the background. I hope it has been done not accidentally. But… that’s all! Where are the questions about that subject? Native Mexicans should have something interesting to say, I guess? Take a look on Necroscope zine and Adam’s questions about history. And remember that Satan has been brought by Christian swords and fires. Luckily there is no fucking goat on the front cover. 

Ederh Macdiel Rodríguez A.
Rio Tamesí #102, Col. El Tesoro, C.P. 96536
Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico


(written on March, 2015)            

Sunday, March 15, 2015

PURE METAL 23 / 24 (2015)


It’s hard to believe it. Pure Metal is eleven years old! And what is more, I have been following the path Tomek Woźniak had traced out since the very beginning, since the first issue with James Rivera on the front. Therefore I was completely shocked finding out the number 15 to be the last one due to the fact it was a real metal fist into the mainstream shitty magazines. It was on June, 2008, there were various reasons. Fortunately, Tomek is a true die-hard beast having never say die engraved deeply in his heart. In the meantime he wrote a book about Nevermore, and finally, the December of 2012 was a date of the second birth of his paper child. And it continues until present day. As compared to the first period when Pure Metal was available in Empik (one of the biggest selling market in Poland), now it can be ordered through the postal office only. And like Herbert West, Tomek vitalized into the dead body. Even if it wasn’t an easy labour, now I can face the infant prodigy. All for the glory of pure fuckin’ metal!

This issue looks really impressive: 182 pages with 91 reviews and 5 live reports. The main dish is the return of Sanctuary with the album “The Year the Sun Died” after twenty five years of musical silence. The whole exemplifies the Tomek’s work I like the most: long introduction with band members statements and opinions, in depth interview with the band (here with Lenny Rutledge and shorter one with Brad Hull), sometimes it looks like an anatomization, a real review elaboration (exceptionally supported by other two opinions) and even live Sanctuary report from Seattle. It’s not a secret for a reader like me that Tomek built an altar for Nevermore / Sanctuary in his house. You may even don’t like the band, but nobody can contradict his knowledge and passion. Then, Pure Metal tries to describe another phenomenon on the scene: New Wave of Swedish Heavy Metal in a vast report. Yes, that’s true, Sweden spews many good crews all the time, yet some answers from Enforcer, Steelwing, Below or Evergrey are very short and laconic. In turn, the best chats and great reading moments I had with aforementioned Lenny of Sanctuary, Riot, Exodus, Wolf, Lonewolf, Walpyrgus, While Heaven Wept (really, really good one!), Wuthering Heights or Exorcist with details on debut album recorded after almost 30 years. Of course, there is a need to mention about (as always) chat with Blitz from mighty Overkill, as they are still active unleashing its metal bane into the scene with ‘it’s not a career – it’s a way of life’ motto. A complete novelty is a Hexx story written by its guitarist Dan Watson. Very interesting, sometimes a bit scary (Keystone gig), sometimes funny, describing hard moments and general difficulties in band’s activity. For sure, not everyone can be Slayer or Metallica, right? Wait a moment, Metallica? Yes, this band has several pages too. Tomek calls to reader’s mind all band’s albums recorded after 1991. Really good reading in his well-known manner, however it seems he tries to convince me to listen to it one more time. No Tomek, I have to refuse you. In a wink I can give you billion better slabs. Very similar to Sanctuary study are Wolf, Brainstorm and HammerFall sections. Although the HammerFall music makes me sicken, I like a lot such a writing work, as I still keep in my mind old numbers with Testament, Overkill, Manilla Road, Helstar, Flotsam and Jetsam to name a few.

The salt of each paper press are reviews. Pure Metal strikes my eyes maybe with not so many of them, yet they’re rather long bringing detailed descriptions, sometimes song by song. I think the best ones are written by Tomek and Michał ‘Moonfire’ Żarski, although I couldn’t find any poor text luckily. But I read pretty controversial thing in Lonewolf and their new album “Cult of Steel” album. Namely Marcin writes about some Islam concept on the next album. Marcin, do you really believe that the Frenchmen will be able and brave enough to create any negative word on it? Just see the opinions of other bands referring to evident process of Islamization of our continent, they are very restrained, safety-first, talking that they grew up in Christendom and considering the worshippers of the Nazarene and his cult a main (armless!) enemy in the lyrics. At this juncture Moonfire, in Primordial’s “When Greater Men Have Fallen” review, becomes a clairvoyant throwing sinister visions and cutting the speculations off: by twenty years some muezzin will be shouting from the masjid to attend the fervent prayers somewhere in Asian Paris. Damn you, Moonfire! Don’t forget there are many true warriors on our scene, we’re safe!!! Anyway, bringing to a close this topic, it’s became visible that Tomek gave some reviews without the final mark (Sanctuary, Exorcist, Hatriot, Holy Moses, Repulsor, Tankard), but I hope he will come back from these weak moments.

Has Pure Metal any drawbacks? I found several misprints but it is an unavoidable in such wall of letters. Then I wonder if the story about Anneke van Giersbergen is really necessary as the name of this fanzine sounds just Pure Metal. Tomek, if you talk about something else than metal, it would be way better to write about some hard rock band. Bashfully Europe comes into my mind, as my seven years old son is torturing “The Final Countdown” album now and screaming “Rock the Rock the Night” all the time! Next, the albums resumption of 2014. Being loyal Pure Metal reader and knowing (I guess) all the tastes of editors, I find this offer simply useless. Just like childish column with six titles worthy of often listen. And the last thing, I’d like to point Persuader intie out. It seems to be incomplete, I mean, there is a beginning, there is an end, however I arrive at a conclusion it could be much longer and complex as Efraim Juntunen provided rather long and interesting answers. And vice versa, reprinted Arch Enemy talk with poor questions and answers is a totally waste of paper.

To cut the thing short, I liked a lot this issue. It took me many hours and days in fruitful reading and listening to the pure metal only. Yet it is very hard to declare if this number is the best so far. For sure it’s the biggest one in Tomek’s printed family, but the previous releases keep the high level still without any doubt, even if some were made during editorial personal crisis. Now Tomek seems to be at his best, he is still, first of all, a normal fan and supporter who buys records. Yep, hard to believe while running a fanzine? The best example he gave in the case of Sanctuary return album. Tomek is full of passion and headstrongness, just like on the start, and still enamoured of Nevermore. He proudly holds the oriflamme of his city as opposed to speedway riders and footballers. Not only Bydgoszcz scene should be proud of his work though! I hope he won’t give up as his work is unique here in Poland. And what about the content of forthcoming issue? Writing about my beloved Savatage, Spanish Zarpa or Mercyful Fate / King Diamond wouldn’t be a bad idea, I guess. Besides I’d like to read something about exotic (here in Poland) bands like Japanese Loudness, Tokyo Blade or 人間椅. Anyway, there are many bands to write about, so the future looks perfect for Tomek & the crew. And as of now, I wait for number twenty-five.  

Tomasz Woźniak
Podgórze 4/5
85-790 Bydgoszcz


(written on March, 2015)


Sunday, March 8, 2015

ALDIOUS - Dazed and Delight (2014)

Delicious and Histotrophic

Right now I can’t recall precisely what made me to check this band out. Maybe a review on Encyclopaedia Metallum, maybe a virtual trip that led me to the unknown meanders of youtube? Anyway, after seeing the “Spirit Black” video, something has sparkled between me and this quintet of…  Japanese women. Indeed, it’s hard to explain the hard fact I bought “Dazed and Delight” on cd in frantically exorbitant price (as compared to a standard one, triple total costs), although the title became some kind of sensation in my vast collection. I mean, bird-dogging all the gothic, symphonic and cacophonic metal (?) with female-fronted bands, I rather feel uttermost disgust than anything else. Aldious is even more than that. This all-female (!) band became the first one with such a crew. And to put it briefly, this Japanese changeling is simply decent metal yet with different culture, look and clothes. And mentioned “Spirit Black” was a kicking ass track with head-banging almost all the time. Then on the spur of the moment I decided to enter the kingdom of Aldious searching for more songs…

One of such killers was “Butterfly Effect” that strikes roughly being just an opener to “Dazed and Delight”. With crushing beginning and the almost thrash guitar structures, it serves pretty broken rhythms. Really good shot making my mouth open and one of the best here. If the production is concerned, I am a bit off guard. I think it’s proper rather for a younger band with low budget, not for experienced and known (locally but in Japan) outfit. But, I consider this way a good thing: not sterile, even muffled in guitar layers yet with very vivid audible rhythm section. And it is not a secret I arrested my attention on Re:NO in the first place. Not only because she’s a beautiful woman that sings in Japanese and I have no idea what lyrics are about (fantasy and love, according to Metal Archives), but mainly due to her position in the band. This album is her second journey after replacement of the former Rami and it’s obvious there are always comparisons between these two vocalists. I’m not an exceptional dude claiming that Re:NO is softer than tigress Rami, yet the main question should be asked: is Aldious worse band now with Re:NO behind the microphone? Well, after many careful listens I found that Re:NO offer simply fits to the current vision of the band. Personally I’m not able to decide the dispute on foregoing verdict, the most important thing for me is Re:NO don’t use any operatic feeble moans or just high-pitched chants that make me puke and, although I’d like to hear more firmer performance, just like in “Imagination” and “Megalomaniac”. In turn she cannot convince me to vocal lines in "魅惑のパレード" and "アネモネ", not saying about “The Breeze at Dawn”. And even I’m safety-first in praising ballad songs, I’ve to admit that “I Don’t Like Me” shines here in full splendor due to Re:NO’s magic beyond the shadow of a doubt. Still I have in mind her splendid performance (both vocally and visually) on official video-clip. Believe me, it’s tearful. Of course, I need to mention about her spiritual moments in “Puffy Eyes” and “Other World”. She’s not a wild animal, she’s like Graphium androcles.

The basic musical layer is deeply rooted in a present-day power metal, yet Aldious stylistics put its light fingers on more heavy metal dimension as well. Mid-paced tempos dominate, however three songs as opening “Butterfly Effect”, “Dominator” and “Megalomaniac” are really fast. The riffs architects, Yoshi and Toki, provide honest, decent and memorable guitar parts, with load of melody and catching moments, some of them taken definitely from the heritage of NWOBHM. The same refers to the fantastic leads. Finally, there is a need to write something about the rhythm section heroes, about Sawa and Aruto. Yes, these budgies are true pearls on the album, not an usual ingredient to the sound. And even if the broken rhythms are served rather seldom just like in “Butterfly Effect”, Sawa, the bass player, supported by unflagging Aruto, displays her talent through the whole album. It seems I listen to one bass lead. In addition, each song contains of recognizable bass fragment that makes me smack with delight, especially in mind-crushing “Dominator” or “Puffy Eyes”.  

Yes, as the track number five has been mentioned, some differences are put on the table. After four first songs the band decelerates. “Puffy Eyes”, slow and hard, with beautiful guitar solo, Sawa’s scourge and amazing Re:NO chorus, didn’t impress me at the beginning. I don’t why, maybe I treated it as a disjoint? Never mind, now I worship it. And if this is positive, two pieces called “Red Strings” and „The Breeze at Dawn” are artistic mistakes and determine my lower final mark. Let’s start from track seven, “Red Strings”, which isn’t metal at all. It’s rather radio rock ditty, that’s true it has sticking melody with not harming anybody Re:NO and her absolutely girlish beautiful parts after 3:40 making neighbouring stones soften, but it doesn’t work in with metal (!) face of Aldious. But the worst is yet to come. Namely, the nine in schedule brings four minutes of musical and vocal disaster. Maintained in tempos so similar to “Puffy Eyes”, it glitters with awful guitar melody, even Re:NO creates here something horrible I cannot understand. The Japanese wanted to diversify the whole in an artificial way or maybe there was a lack of good ideas? At present I just skip it without any hesitation.

The aforementioned couple with not fully convincing "魅惑のパレード" and "アネモネ" makes an impression of emotional burnup. “Dazed and Delight” loses its real effigy and becomes to lay violent hands on itself. It’s good the band searches for any new sounds with the best example of “Puffy Eyes”, but their prime moments are just ‘normal’ songs without any strange offers. It’s important that about metal Aldious, there is nothing to be ashamed for. When the last second of “The Breeze at Dawn” disappears like a smoke in the windy day, high-powered “Dominator” enters the stage being a real rescue brigade. Probably the fastest one here, based on simple riffs, with wild Aruto and Sawa’s splendid bass, it’s like a vulnerary. Luckily therapy goes on, as the next “Megalomaniac” isn’t worse offering straight forward demolishing riffing and crude slow-down at 1:15. Yes, the ship gets under sail. But the best is on the end I guess. The closing track “Other World” is just amazing. This beautiful composition has possessed my senses since the first meeting. Although it doesn’t drive at breakneck speed, but the whole band’s performance is a first quality. I’m speechless, my ladies!

Summing the things up, I am dazed but not fully delighted. Despite of knowing some tracks before cd purchase, I was afraid of the final product. It was something new, something different. And now I confess that it could be much worse. Fortunately, it is a good metal album, there are unbearable things I cannot live with, but there are definitely more positive shades and feelings, you know, listening to it is like a ride on sine curve. To be honest with myself I didn’t treat them better just because they’re sweet and cute women. What is more, the “Dazed and Delight” listening time coincided with two totally opposed crude barbarian slabs: Manilla Road “Voyager” and Ataraxy with their “Revelations of the Ethereal”. Time with great sensations, with different experiences, with darkness and the bright light; the fourth Aldious album became a gate to their dimension. The dimension I want to follow, as their three former albums are just a must for me as of now.  

Re:NO, Toki, Yoshi, Sawa and Aruto! You did a mess-up in my world! 


(written on March, 2015)