Oberdada's Guide to Obscure Metal

Part II: Reviews, mostly recent releases

If your band appears here, it must be because I have listened to something you have released, usually only once, which isn't always sufficient for a qualified review. Just so that you know.

Vargarna

It's trvly impressive how all these black metal smiths from all over the world write in impeccable Norwegian, like this French band. Three demos out as of now; the sound on the first one is amusingly bad, and the performance is sloppy in a charming way. The songs fade out before getting boring. Recorded with extreme mp3 compression artifacts, that's not a cool distortion effect, except that here the extreme crudeness is somehow OK. You should hear the cymbal. You can't miss it when it devours the rest of the mix.

Grinder

Distinctly alluring and original. Laughing Death must be one of the concisest tracks ever: 27 seconds devoted mostly to a sample, and with a longish pause between the two stabs. Can be found on Yasamal Records, Azerbaijan.

Necromonger: Demo

Catchy widely panned thing with robots on drums and the "me" on the rest sounding like the buzz of a razor.

Infection After Surgery

Another one with a fascination with serial killers, whose interviews appear as breaks in the onslaught. The drummer often sounds like an automat working on deforming a tin can, the guitar is there in the midst of it, and the monster gargles incomprehensibly atop of it. Thirty tracks in under 25 minutes, this is for the restless listener.

Kakodaimonia: Three Meaningless Songs

I disagree already with the title. Purported bootlegs and fakes, but there is something real going on, subliminally perhaps, and in the remarkable odd twisting of the musical surface like a Klein bottle into itself.

Blood Insanity

One wonders what black metal would have sounded like in the age of wax cylinders. I think this Brazilian act might provide a clue with their latest demo.

Lobotomica

Demo preview of some upcoming EP. What form is this? Phrases seem to transform almost on every repetition, added three notes here, faded into feedback there, covered with not quite polytonal guitar solos or insane samples. The form of the unexpected is also a form.

Nemesis

Oh no, you must not call yet another band Nemesis, that will be your ...! Two demo albums are out as of 2022, the first has twelve tracks with Roman numerals. It's instrumental and very guitar-centric. The performance is crispy-clear, some solos are quite sour though. There are also drums in the mid-ground, and nothing in particular in the background. At times it feels like plowing through Hanon's studies, but I'm being mean, most of it is fun, just on the longish side. There is also a Xiphos Demo which has been mastered at a lower than usual volume.

Gorilla Panik: Ape Destroyer

Probably indistinguishable from other bands that sound like them. What if they'd play for an audience of monkeys? Ah, of course, the mosh pit. Fast and intense. Shortest track: 18 seconds.

Contumacy: Underworld

One-man band fortunate enough to have several guest musicians. The harp playing on the ballad is a good idea. Rich in contrasts, competent writing and production, it's all very slick.

Lymbolic Scythe

The Shores of Death is a single long track divided into several sections. It moves slowly as a Nô theatre, in fact the sparse tomtoms also hint in that direction. Impressive for a first demo.

SKAG

Is it a small tin can, or is it a snare drum? Before settling this quandary the album has already past by.

Spill: Some kind of sick joke

Here we are treated to puppet theatre. The drums are muffled, the guitar thoughtfully bristling, the vocals are snoring.

Spirewell

Slow oneiric scenes and long melodic lines, but why do almost all bands with a synth have to find its most kitchy sounds? For They Speak Against Thee Wickedly is such a solid album that even their poor presets may be forgiven.

Abysmal Dissonance

Animal from the Muppet Show ... no, I'm surely thinking of the Cookie Monster. What a metal hero! Don't know why, but here he seems to be reanimated in some of the more upbeat tracks.

Isomorphic: Evulsion

Famous last words: "Looking for members" (2014). Since then not an oink or a pig squeal. Described as technical and brutal, amongst other attributes. Metrical modulations and irregularities abound, but are often blurry. That's the trouble with being both technical and brutal at once.

Serpens: (NEW) S/T

OK, one member credited with todos los instrumentos, pero los drums sometimes limp after the guitar, which comes through with a singing formant at, what can it be, around one kiloHerz? Small details, though what else is there to hear, oh yes, the drive, the riffs.

Nattmare

The artist as exemplary sufferer. That phrase from Susan Sontag seems apt to this depressive act who presumably could use a psychoanalyst. But still it is musically imaginative in all its desperation.

Irithyll Monarch

Enigmatic music box tunes, like randomised Satie pieces, interrupt the stream of blurry, foggy metal.

Bloody Rage: The Death Call

Grumpy mutterings and restless chugging, as if some complex polyrhythms were tearing the beat to and fro in alternating blockages and free flow. The guitar part uses some of those knife-sharpening sounds and not pig squeals but the cries of a distressed hen. No complaints about the mix, this is great fun.

Wingless. Triada.

Some metal is plain pop music with distorted guitars and fast kick drums. That's not entirely fair to say of Wingless, but they have their melodic moments. You can even discern the lyrics the vocalist is singing most of the time (phooey!). And what about mellow backing guitars with delay? This band needs to kill their conventional darlings.

Orificio: Primer Compendium (2021)

One-man band from Spain. Quiet intros and sudden onsets of slaughter-style walls of sound. The drumming is like heavy rainfall on roof windows, only more regular. Whatever the genre, it's defined by short, fast pieces, each under two minutes. The growl is frothy and the bass sound coarsely granular. Enjoyable but short experience.

UBRUXUM: Mucho Bruxismo (2021)

Duo from somewhere in Canada. They sure know to use a highpass filter. Deep bass is for sell-outs! The impossible drumming is relegated to a machine (wise decision) and you can hear the iterated cymbal hits retriggering the same sample. I think they may be singing about something, not quite sure, but there are titles obviously. The mix is probably in mono. No, wait, in fact they go full stereo a few times, but you have to wait till the middle of the eighth track before it happens. It all sounds muffled and crammed like a demo, but this is already their second album. Their longer songs should have been short, or not at all.

Heel: The Great Depleter / In the Event of Moon Disaster

Slow bluesy riffs and a screaming vocal style. The sound is kind of cozy, clean dull bass, fuzz guitar, and heavily lowpass filtered drums, you can barely hear anything but the snare. Two six minute songs is entirely sufficient, though I suspect if they continue they'll make longer albums.

Kutkh: Fire And Smoke (2021)

Russian atmospheric black metal band. I suppose the 'atmospheric' refers to the reverb, most prominently applied to the vocals which sound distant, and possibly also to the canvas of frozen guitar chords with a high wet percentage on the reverb. The drumming is furiously fast and monotonous, in contrast to the very slow progression of the chords. The songs are long and have lyrical intros that evoke natural scenes - such as birds chirping against a sour guitar in Part II. They use a cut-up technique with sharp corners, juxtaposing the band playing with more ambient parts. It's winter and the darkest night for sure.

THALE: Daudens Kalde Auge (2021)

Can't be easy to be a Norwegian black metal band with all those famous church arsonists in the past, and bands from all over the world with titles and lyrics in immaculate old Norse. This gang presents jolly troll-themed ditties that might have some success on the dance floor. Why is the drum sound so often, as it is here too, distorted in a way that makes it sound full of mp3 compression artefacts? A brief interlude in one of the songs with acoustic guitar and softer drum playing stands out.

808 Haze Machine: Proof Of Concept (2021)

Tries to approach hip hop from an extreme metal perspective. Godspeed. The only effort they have made to meld the genres is to combine cheesy synthetic drums with distorted guitars and growl. Let's call it a disproof of concept.

Dead Crustacean: Boiled Alive (2018)

Conciseness is no bad thing in an album that appears as if it were a first rought draft - most songs are under the minute. The drums are programmed, the "guitar" part I suppose also is, there are samples from who knows where, and it's all about sea food. It perfectly makes sense that the vocals sound like boiling water in a full kettle. The more recent EP Landlubber has more real (or realistic sounding) instruments but is still sterile and stiff, on purpose I think.

Blood Butcher

Real rock'n'roll. Some fine sound montage in tracks such as Psychosis.

Bruja Negra

Not the name of a red wine, this is a Mexican band, doom or something.

Anna Pest: Dark Arms Reach Skyward With Bone White Fingers

There's a hilarious reference to Frank Sinatra on one of the tracks.

Doom Creeper: Call The Haunted Demo

Oh, that living room sound!

Expatriated: The Last Trace of the Imprudent

Debut album from 2018 by a Danish band, which apparently tells a story about "a man who witnesses the death of a loved one", but you might have to take a look at the lyrics for that part.

Adherence: this nine minute opus (by the way, all tracks are around nine minutes) switches between melodic parts and a prolonged riff on a minor ninth. The static riff parts aren't too bad, they are like the "autistic" motoric rhythms Adorno used to complain about in some dusty neoclassical music, but in a much more compelling way since there is no pretention of going anywhere. Unfortunately, the band doesn't stick to this kind of structure, they contrast growl with sweet choir arrangements and almost traditional harmonies and heroic guitar solos.

Are the band members bringing in different stylistic preferences to the point of making the band incohesive? They keep the high technical level expected of progressive metal, with riffs in broken, irregular time signatures (you might need a second listening before you know how to dance to it - I mean, how to pit the mosh). Where are they going? If they come up with something less slick there's still hope.

Regicide

Death Metal band from Bali, EP with the same name from 2020. It's the fine details that count. This up-tempo orchestra chugs on riffs and growls lyrics that would be comprehensible to a speaker of the language, I think. The tonality and metrics are quite settled, sometimes almost catchy. They have gone to some lengths with the mastering, you can hear it on those blasts of deep bass that puncture some songs and the silence of selectedly muted tracks, but it doesn't compete with many super-produced albums from recent years. Over all they sound like the debutants they are, fine musicians who have not pushed the musical envelope in any particular direction yet.

blóðfoss: Cytokine (2020).

The opening track, Howl, is a mellow misty landscape of balalaika texture with some salient melodic twists after a while. Then follows an even more mysterious intermission of a foreboding bleep on top of some really deep rumble, before an earlier theme reemerges. The third and last track returns to more melancholy, but is less remarkable than the first two. Then there is the first release called [...] with the single track Trail. The gloomy, gentle choir intro alone is worth checking out.

Infometal

  • An Album Suitable for 2020
  • I Have a Family Audience
  • With the narrowly defined concept of taking Infowars videos as sampling material, Josh Steffen's one-man band has set its scope so narrowly that it may not go on for long. That, of course, depends also on the host himself, and there is no shortage of material. Alex Jones at his most rabid is more scary than any death metal vocalist I've seen. The aggressive rap and hilarious theatrical acting is excellent material for a full metal album. The choppy, syncopated rhythms built up around the odious blasts of Jones are witty and clever. Scott Johnson's John Somebody used a similar technique to bring out speech melodies by repeating shorter phrases. Infometal uses longer chunks of speech, sometimes in sync by small rhythmic displacements, at other times letting the rap flow freely over the beats. At times it's hard to tell whether the whole project is ironic or an homage. Fans of Jones wouldn't know to be offended either way.

    Intestinal Damage: I.D. - EP

    Yes, I have listened to them without taking notes.

    My Personal Abyss

    We can be pretty sure that Barthes did not relate the grain in the voice to any metal bands, although that is precisely where grain and grittyness thrives. The violin in wrong (right?) hands can also produce a grainy sound, but with this band the violin playing is smooth and classy, mostly doubling the guitar riffs in octaves. A female vocalist joins them on some tracks, often doubling with the growl vocalist. Occasionally they're just too sentimentally sweet, such as in their Wintersong, but for the most part their melancholy songs are convincing and well arranged.

    SUMUS DIABOLUS INCARNATUS

  • Les Louanges de Baël - Livre 1
  • Kind of engaging, but the snare and kick drums are a little over the top (too frenetic, that is) a lot of the time. Partly reminiscent of medieval ballads, perhaps they have ripped off some ole Minnesänger.

    Miasmes

    New French black metal combo who records their songs without metronome and editing. No problemo so far. Song structures according to Rock'n Roll, they claim, dunno about that. We'll see when they have recorded some more.

    Horrorfier

    Swallowing the mic and pushing the vocals far in front of anything else in the mix, and why not in the leftmost corner, with occasional dropouts, is a surreal way of mocking the quality standards the entertainment industry insists on. In fact, the vocal delivery is not a far cry from that old hit U 47 by Dufrêne & Baronnet. And while we're exaggerating the absurdities, why not make the cymbal sound like maraccas? The songs are mostly around the minute. Although this is time well spent, I'm not complaining the songs are too short.

    Pusboil

    What an exquisite corpse. This one takes over the putrefaction exactly where Cephalotripsy left it (or went on a hiatus or whatever). The best way to describe the vocal is like drilling in concrete or asphalt. The guitar part is articulated the way one grinds a knife. Just a demo so far (2022), this bodes really well.

    Emberthrone: Godless Wonder

    One of those technical bands that can play fast, and at least the drummer will not miss a chance to prove it. It's not very angular, more tonal than atonal. The question with competent musicians like these is always: Will they also have an interesting musical vision, will they fall prey to a banal taste, will they come up with original ideas? A pompuous, overloaded wall of sound is what they offer currently. Bring on the weirdness!

    Ergot de seigle

    Demo. Sombre, dank cellar with a taste of red wine. The guitars cover up any remains of drumming there might be. Some twisted finesse to the harmonic progressions, not least in the free-tonal piano piece at the end.

    Vagus / Insision: Sulfurous

    Perfect dance tracks for those of us with 2.135 legs, on average. Yes, because their beats are only slightly sheared, also destabilised by the sometimes detuned unison riffs. This is jazz without any of its characteristics, save for that frantic bebop drive.

    Enfuckment: Masks On

    What goes down in that septic vocal tract? Unsavoury, whatever it is. Nothing has appeared since this release in 2015.

    Necrambulant

    Thick, hot, and dark. Topics: The happy message that the dead can walk again!

    She was dead when I got there

    Archival stuff from 2009. Only a few tracks exist. The sharpness of the guitar playing, hard-panned and in low unisons or rapid flourishes of dissonant intervals, is unmatched by many bands since.

    Illuminated Minerva: Enigma Adamantine

    I think they must be progressive. Includes mumblings about cosmology, the Illuminati, and whatnot.

    Антитезис

    Demo EP. Sure, it's easy to be against. Filthy are the guitars, one of the tricks being minor ninths and other dissonances thrown in for good measure.

    Kayo Dot: Hubardo

    Long progressive album from 2013. Lots of instruments, long jazzy solos, not too difficult listening.

    Blotted Science

    Progressive band, their Machinations of Dementia is full of titles refering to sleep and brain science. There may well be twelve-tone rows hiding in plain sight, juxtaposed against shorter riffs. An often used devise is the telescoping of patterns by speeding them up. Stylistically related to Spastic Ink (reviewed elsewhere). The last two tracks together seem to form a palindrome. In fact, it may be unfair to say too much about this band on the basis of a single listening, so I'll say no more.

    Totengräber

    They must be digging their own grave. Vocals smoothly smoldering like parmesan cheese and diffuse but intense drums pouring down like heavy rainfall along the long guitar lines. Not bad for a first attempt, I suppose.

    That's all for now, folks! I've written a few more reviews, and decided to post them separately. I'm also going to dig up some olden favourites of mine in a separate post.

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