27 Oct 2011

Viraga - Walk the Path / Death of a Second Kind [Tracks] (2011, Self-released

Though the term "gothic" originated in regard to the East Germanic tribe "the goths", the term has later been used to describe a multitude of things, like the gothic art and architecture of medieval times and most recently, regarding music, gothic rock and gothic metal. The whole gothic outlook has been used with a few different genres through the years, some more succesfully than others. The veritably ancient genre doom metal is one of the styles that has since seen its combination with the gothic mindset, and to great avail. Bands like Katatonia (even if they started out as death/doom metal, even death/doom sometimes has the same shudderingly melancholic atmosphere as gothic bands like Bauhaus and the Sisters of Mercy) and Type O Negative of the late Peter Steele have had great success in the world of metal and rock music.
The Finnish one-man project "Viraga" could probably - from the tracks "Walk the Path" and "Death of a Second Kind" - best be described as an eldritch mixture of the progressive tones of Opeth and the gloomy gothic sounds of Katatonia. These two tracks that have both yet to be put out on a record sport a semi-fresh take on metal in the sense that Viraga utilizes time-tested elements of various genres and puts them together to form these fine pieces of progressive gothic doom metal.

Like both Opeth and Katatonia Viraga can proudly boast uncountable different parts that range from submissive and dominatingly heavy to sombre and quiescent acoustic fragments. Though obviously those of a drummachine, the drums are masterfully programmed with a boat load of variation and well thought-through fill-ins and hooks. What "Walk the Path" and "Death of a Second Kind" lack in riffing they certainly make up for ten-fold in interesting structure of these two lengthy tracks. And honestly, when has gothic doom metal ever been about catchy riffs?

The two tracks - in which's direction I hope Viraga will continue - are perfect examples of the advantage that lies in long tracks. In both cases there are so many different fragments for you to discover that you will keep listening to them for more for a long time, and with every listen they get better and more eerily interesting.
Viraga produced an overall wholesome experience of fairly standard quality with a low-fi vibe that suits the tranquillity of the gothic atmosphere perfectly. Aside from some moderately uninteresting vocals, these two tracks together have gathered 6/10 guitars.

Viraga - Walk the Path and Death of a Second Kind are available for free download HERE
Visit Viraga on Soundcloud

21 Oct 2011

Agga - Agga [Full length] (2008, Self-released)

Folk legends and traditional mythology of old, be it Celtic, Norse, Medieval or other, has been featured as musical inspiration and lyrical subjects in metal bands for a long time, dating back to the early releases of bands like Cruachan, Skyclad, Bathory and Subway to Sally. In more recent times the incorporation of mesopotamian, oriental, egyptian and mediterranean elements have seen the light of day with bands like Nile, Melechesh and Orphaned Land on the forefront of these glorifiers of the ancient days of the cradle of the Earth.

En Eabatu, the Lord of Babylon and the sole member of AGGA, is one such person. With lyrics firmly rooted in Babylonian and Sumerian mythology aswell as Lovecraftian lore and music in the genre of black metal with an absolute and dominant twist of ancient-sounding folk music, Agga is a phenomenal example of the fact that you don't have to follow tradition in music. En Eabatu has labeled Agga as "mystical metal", and I find this to be a very exact description as this 7 track album indeed has a huge emphasis on the mystical atmosphere. When listening to Agga I find myself imagining a dark, ancient mediterranean city.

It's obvious to the listener that Agga's main strength lies in the incorporation of this dark, ancient ambience in the otherwise standard black metal sound with incredibly catchy and atmospheric riffs aswell as catchy choruses. The overall feel goes great with the metal elements and the vocals which are mostly a mix between black and death vocals. The structure and flow of the individual tracks also help contribute to the overall feel that it's obvious Agga has gone for.

Overall I feel you could say that this debut album from 2008 exhibits an extrordinary sense for atmosphere. The only thing dragging the self-titled release down is dodgily mastered guitars and a final track that is definitely below par. Other than that: 8/10

1. Dance of the Fire Serpent
2. The Lord of Babylon
3. Desert Death Winds
4. The Calling
5. Neo Sumerian
6. The Rise of Gibil
7. Out of the Cold Desert

Agga - Agga is available for free download HERE
Visit AGGA on Facebook

17 Oct 2011

Interview with Damnum Animus (2011)

Neoclassically-inspired black metal mastermind "Chaosweaver", the man behind Damnum Animus who's been reviewed twice on Goul's Crypt, agreed to do an interview on the basics and future of his solo project Damnum Animus and had this to say:

So you're from North Carolina. What's the scene like there?

The metal scene in North Carolina, as a whole, is fairly diverse, but I live in a podunk town where very few people like metal. Those that do normally are classified as scene kids, because many of the so called "metal" bands out here are stereotypical deathcore. However, there are a few notables, such as Final Curse (classic thrash), Black Acid Moon (stoner doom), and Syopsis (techdeath).

So I don't take it there are any bands like yours, genre-wise, in your area?

Unfortunately, no. Finding another member with similar influences is hard enough, let alone finding other bands.

What inspired you to make what is essentially neoclassical music mixed with ambient and black metal vocals and drumming?

This started, as you may or may not know, as a DSBM (Depressive Black Metal) project. The transition from that to what Damnum Animus became was pure happenstance; I was messing around with a MIDI file of "The Last of My Kind" on my DAW, and put cellos in place of the guitars. Voila, Damnum Animus was born. That being said, I've always had a love for classical music, especially bombastic classical (movie soundtracks, Tchaikovsky), so transitioning wasn't a stretch of the musical imagination.

Did this genre come naturally to you?

Some of the elements took some getting used to. Creating an atmosphere isn't the easiest thing to do if you're used to metalcore style songwriting.

Are you in any other bands, or do you have any other musical projects?

I have both, in fact.
Invoking the Divine: an experimental metal band with my good friend Josh Horne.
The Fall of the Heretic: a metalcore project that I've been messing with for a good 6 years.
Decaying My Youth: death/doom metal project. Main feature: huge riffing.

To return to Damnum Animus, how was the initial response to your style of music, especially "Sanity: The Lies of the Father"?

Generally, the response was good. I got several reviews commenting on the "coldness" of the music, which was what I was going for. The main complaints were the sudden stops and starts, as well as the similarity of the tracks.

Since you're only one person in the band it seems obvious to ask: Why? Why are you the sole person in Damnum Animus? Is it because of creative controle, was it too difficult to find band mates, or something other?

It's multiple things. Creative control was never an issue, as the other bands I've been in have never had that problem. The main reason I'm the sole person in Damnum Animus is finding people with similar influences. Drummers are hard to come by in this area of North Carolina, as are good bassists. Session musicians are not out of the question; however, it doesn't seem like there will be any for a good while.

Can you tell us about the pros and cons of being a one man band?

No arguments with band members.
Make your own working schedule (rather than practice x times a week).
Decide exactly where the band will go.
Some ideas sound great to you, but shit to others.
Less outside influence to add new sounds to the band.
No live playing.
That last one is a big one.

Do you have any goals regarding Damnum Animus?

Yes, I'd like to play live at least once.

You've got a new release coming out sometime in the future called "Beneath the Swells". Can you tell us a little about this album and what it's gonna feature?

This will be a FULL LENGTH album. It will feature many of the same elements of the previous EP: symphonic soundscapes, ambient and black metal influences; however, it will feature both acoustic and electric guitars, more vocal variance including clean vocals, epic length songs (10+ minutes), and much more. The lyrical content is also much different. The last album was focused on depression, religious struggles, and hopelessness; this album will be focused on depression as well, but the lyrics will be written through my love of oceans. It's going to be nothing like you've ever heard; the old EP will be "Thrown To The Sharks" (song title!).

If you wouldn't like to add anything, this concludes the interview! Thanks a lot!

All I'd like to say at this point is thanks to everyone who's listened to the music and given me feedback on it, including you. Get the album when it comes out!

Visit Damnum Animus on Facebook
Read the original review of Sanity: Lies of the Father and Forgotten by the Waves

14 Oct 2011

Kon Hex - Magnetic Sun [Full length] (2011, self-released)

Drone, the genre of the masters of patience. If you listen to drone you better be prepared for tracks in excess of 30 or even 40 minutes. To me drone is a genre best suited for background music like ambient, but I find that few bands play drone without any influences from other genres like doom metal, funeral doom metal or even stoner rock. Drone is mostly thought of as a monotonous and boring genre in which the musicians don't require any actual skill, but I disagree.

The Canadian one-man band Kon Hex is a young band with a number of releases up it's sleeve. With the release of the full length "Magnetic Sun" after the full length "Charge V" and the EP "Expanse", Kon Hex has aimed for a standard approach to drone but with a twist of the abovementioned influences from funeral doom metal and ambient. It seems the focus of this solo project has been on atmosphere rather than riffing, as is the case with much drone doom metal.

If you like drone with a twist, check out Kon Hex's material. The Magnetic Sun full length features classic drone with occassional drums, bringing with it a slight dash of funeral doom metal. With a total length of more than an hour there're lots of details to notice and explore in this interstellar journey known only as Kon Hex.

The material on Magnetic Sun, even if it contains only 4 tracks, has a wide range of atmospheres and feelings. From sinister and evil atmospheres like of an ancient grotto or cavernous cathedral to something out of this world, eldritch and lovecraftian. Kon Hex manages to really set the mood, in no small part due to the magnificent intro track that does exactly what an intro should: Set the atmosphere for the rest of the album. The crushingly dark focus of Magnetic Sun is the perfect soundtrack to deep space and is a fantastic example that drone doesn't have to be boring and uneventful. The sluggishly heavy chugging riffs have something utterly alien and intergalactic about them.

Some of the chugging parts of Kon Hex - Magnetic Sun even have hint of Tom Warrior's new band "Triptykon" about it. Magnetic Sun sets an example for drone as a vast, black monolith in a dark and desolate ocean. As proof that drone is easily combined with other similar genre. As an example that drone isn't necessarily monotonous. If you're a fan of Sunn O))), Nortt and Urna this is definitely worth checking out. 7/10 guitars.

1. Intro
2. The Uncharted Notice
3. In the Seas of Darkness
4. MSun

All Kon Hex releases can be downloaded HERE
Kon Hex - Magnetic Sun is available for free download HERE
Visit the band on their official website

6 Oct 2011

Brainerd - Brainerd / The Goat [Full length] (2008, Zodiac Killer Records)

America is, given it's size, a country that houses a throng of obscure but great bands of all genres. Brainerd is one such band, and armed with a dirty garage-sound, smashing, memorable riffs and gruff vocals they're poised to take on any heavy groove-oriented metal band out there.

Their style could probably best be described as a ghastly hybrid between Entombed, Metallica and just a little pinch of hard rock and punk. One thing is certain: They play some filthy music, and they do it magnificently. The structures aren't what you've come to expect from modern metal bands - Instead they're different and the material features a fresh take on riffing in mid-to-slow-paced metal. Straightforwardness is a key word with Brainerd's debut and to say it's boring because it doesn't feature neckbreaking drums and fast gutiar play would be plain wrong. There are so many facets and aspects of this 9-track album that to describe them all here would be folly. A little piece of psychedelia here, some doom metal there, some esoterical babble over yonder, it's all there.

Simplicity is, quite paradoxically, a complicated thing. Make it too simple and it's boring and has too little variation. Make it too intricate and it becomes a complicated mess of utter chaos. Bands like Motörhead and to some extent AC/DC have mastered the fine art of balancing music so it becomes simple yet fantastic. Brainerd has achieved something akin to that of the previously mentioned bands - Making music just simple enough to be easily memorable but still fitting it with lots of surprises.

Generally speaking the self-titled album has everything a release in that genre needs. Thick with catchy vocals and guitars, simple songwriting and a perfect length for you to be entertained and never get bored, Brainerd can get nothing other than 9/10 guitars.

1. Dracula Marine
2. Demon in the Night
3. Blood Money
4. Powerlines
5. Devil Star
6. All Night Party
7. Love Convulsion
8. Mud
9. Hurt in a Skirt

Visit Brainerd on Myspace