Thread: What are you listening to?
03-20-2016, 08:42 PM #19671
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03-20-2016, 08:50 PM #19672
Ecferus - Prehistory - Reviews - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives
BM ambient debut sketch of human evolution - 70%
NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 14th, 2015
One-man BM act Ecferus has set itself a lofty ambition in exploring the journey of humanity from its early beginnings and the debut album "Prehistory" attempts to capture as much of that trek in black metal ambient form as possible in four - only four! - tracks. You'd expect the four tracks to be very long and meandering, with perhaps some loss of direction in parts, as befits a species from a long line of ancestors that sprouted branches that turned out to be dead ends over time.
The voyage begins with "Mitochondrial Eve", a harsh sprawl of equal parts bristling distorted-guitar riffing, angry rasping spider voice and plaintive piano-like melody. The song ranges from leisurely and melodic, to tight and grim tremolo guitar blast and flopping blast-beat drumming, to almost pop-friendly if melancholy passages of slow Burzumesque music. While this is a long track, and the music varies a great deal, the lyrics that detail the human journey into forbidding landscapes of snow, ice and blizzard connect everything together. On this and following tracks, there is a sense of wonder at discovering new worlds that have never been experienced by people before.
As the album progresses, listeners can imagine early human explorers meeting more than their fair shares of misfortune including death, and survivors pressing on in spite of tremendous obstacles ahead of them. As time passes and stretches into centuries, culture develops and creation myths, superstition and religion arise as people struggle to make sense of their surroundings and the things, good and bad, that happen to them. Space ambient and aggressive black metal together and alternately provide a strong backdrop encompassing aggression, foreboding at major changes (the Ice Age, major volcanic eruptions) that threaten survival, fear and a sense of savagery. "All Become Sand" is a very chuggy track with hard-hitting riffs and percussion; the singing doesn't change much at all and the ratty haranguing quality can be monotonous.
I feel that "Prehistory" basically sets out a sketch of what Ecferus plans to cover and expand on future recordings: while the music is good and the ambient music interludes flow smoothly between tracks with no loss of energy, the album does seem small scale for what it aims to do. The black metal is not very remarkable and is too busy for any drama to develop. Perhaps on later albums Ecferus may feel confident enough to add some symphonic or prog rock elements to give the music a more dynamic and intense sound.
Ecferus man Alp tries hard to express with a basic set-up of guitars, drums and some keyboard work the savagery of early humans and the harsh world they must deal with, to the point where this aspect of his inquiry into human evolution and history dominates everything else he does. I foresee that future Ecferus releases are going to be pessimistic about humanity's ability to overcome or solve the problems that it has created which has brought Earth to the brink of complete disaster.
I know the music is Alp's to do as he wants but I kind of feel that concentrating on humans' inhumanity to their own and dismissing them as stupid as a major subtext to exploring human evolution will limit the music's potential and not distinguish Ecferus from all the other pessimistic and misanthropic BM acts banging on how hopeless we all are. Alp could still yammer away about human savagery and violence in future work but add another dimension: every time someone resorts to violence and brutality, humanity has lost another opportunity to take a better, more peaceful and more effective path. Songs about human stupidity would not just be pessimistic then, they could be sad and regretful as well.
03-20-2016, 08:59 PM #19673
Ecferus - Pangaea - Reviews - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives
Clamor and Creation - 80%
autothrall, February 5th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, I, Voidhanger Records
The way I see it, there are really two ways one could approach a conceptual album about the sprawling Pangaea. One could use the music to represent the seismic aspect, shifting and rifting of land masses in either the formation or dissolution of the supercontinent. Or perhaps one might be more privy to a fantastical interpretation, built upon mythic civilizations, prehistoric creatures and feats of derring do by primitive demigods, the glories attributed to heroes of distant legends that span millions of years. Either would entertain me, but Alp of Indiana's Ecferus sides pretty heavily on the more accurate historical and scientific details, not only of the physical place but the evolution of life and civilization. Akin to what the Canadian thrashers DBC once evoked with their sophomore album Universe, only applied on a more directly terrestrial scale, with more poignant and elegant lyrics, against a black metal background.
The most notable trait of this disc, however, is its rich and textured guitar playing across several levels, which actually conjures a balance of both aesthetics I mentioned earlier. The instability and frenzied component is delivered with the constant rhythmic transformation, between the more traditional tremolo picked passages, dissonant and neurotic chord progressions, and willingness to explore a substantial swath of moods and tempos. But there is that sense of lost majesty and glory too, that 'legendary' element, which is serviced by Alp's commitment to writing chord patterns and tremolo lines that don't constantly conform to a thousand you've heard before. There are always subtleties, ebbs and swells happening across all the tracks that keep the ears affixed, especially when you add over these his multi-tiered snarling and rasping toned which give the impression of some primordial corpse painted shamans watching the world take shape. Enough direct lineage here to the Scandinavian masters of the past, but he's just not copying their notes verbatim, so Pangaea has a sense of freshness to it which has held up through a number of repeated plays.
Melodies and leads are fragile, atmospheric and constantly elevating the riffing subtext, while the beats place an appropriate emphasis on thundering bass that might shake the walls of creation if you could loudspeaker the whole planet; but also cognizant of interesting grooves at points where the aggression cedes to a more jazzy, progressive post-black panorama. Alp is also not immune to the lure of further experimentation, with some dark and throbbing synthesizer driving "The Human Transition", a fascinating opener to what is by far my favorite tune on the album, "Reciprocity of Despair", an onslaught of excellent guitar lines and turbulent, tectonic structures which carries all the best hallmarks of melodic black metal and Morbid Angel-like Cyclopean rhythmic tumult in roughly equal measure. The metal tracks are substantial, ranging from about 8 minutes on up, but there are only four of them, so I never felt like I was becoming exhausted or having my patience beaten out of me. Pangaea is perhaps not universally consistent, and some might not appreciate the vignette pieces as much as the wealthier full-bore compositions, but for just one musicians this proved a formidable introduction, and I look and listen forward (or backwards) to more.
03-20-2016, 10:07 PM #19674
03-20-2016, 11:05 PM #19675
03-21-2016, 07:35 AM #19676
03-21-2016, 11:11 AM #19677
03-21-2016, 11:19 AM #19678
Dekadent - Veritas - Reviews - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives
Hard Work Pays Off - 87%
flightoficarus86, March 26th, 2015
Hailing from Slovenia, Dekadent play a unique brand of melodic death and black metal. Seemingly fed up with record labels they describe on their page as having screwed the group over more than once, they have taken it upon themselves to record this album without such restraint through crowd-sourcing. The end result is something listeners will need to judge for themselves. But be prepared to block out some time, because one spin just isn’t going to cut it.
There is a lot to love on this album. My fellow Metal Stormer, ScreamingSteelUS, hit the nail on the head when he compared the opening moments to a Pink Floyd piece. The acoustic guitar, chord progressions, trippy synths, and subtle Hammond organ all remind me of "Eclipse," "Brain Damage," and even "Comfortably Numb." These are far from the only rock fusions Veritas has to offer. There are squealing solos, emotional bridges, and some absolutely gorgeous clean singing fit for an arena. Yet not unlike Enslaved’s In Times, these elements are all united in such creative ways as to never make this sound like some death/black n’ roll hybrid.
Quite to the contrary, the end result is a dense wall of sound filled to the brim with melody and an ever-present sense of weight. One need only hop over to bandcamp and listen to “Dead Mountain” to see what I mean. This absolute masterpiece was what put the album on my radar to begin with. From the cascading, sorrowful guitars to the alternating cogent growls and haunting singing; this track nearly brings me to tears every time. I liken it to a more progressive take on last year’s “While We Sleep.” While there are other instantly likeable tracks like “Pasijon” and “Valburga” (the album’s two non-English outings), I do feel as if the single sets the bar so unreasonably high as to make the rest of the album somewhat pale in comparison. Fortunately, the plethora of textures provided by the varied drumming, piano compositions, and rock interludes keep things moving along in a very engaging way.
While Verita’s diversity of tempos and moods provides a nice range, my one qualm is that transitions between these parts can occasionally be a bit clunky. This is best exemplified with “Enervation’s End.” Not only does the opening riff clash jarringly with the closing of the previous track; it is just plain annoying. Dekadent have some very clear songwriting strengths, so it is puzzling to me how such a below-par piece was allowed to recur multiple times right in the center of an otherwise solid album. The song is not without merit: I enjoy the pendulous synthesizer and double bass as well as the acoustic breaks. Unfortunately the amateurish guitar and vocals of the other parts are so cringe-inducing as for me to hit skip more often than not.
But in the end, this one blow is far from enough to sink the ship. Rather, I consider Veritas to be a brave and fruitful excursion that certainly will deserve recognition at the year’s close alongside Enslaved, Death Karma, A Forest of Stars, and Leviathan. The clear amount of work-ethic and DIY philosophy show in its distinctive compositions, exceptional showmanship, and willingness to explore new territories. I am told the album should be up in full on bandcamp at some point, but in the meantime you can check out the single and order the album from their website.
03-21-2016, 02:46 PM #19679
03-21-2016, 03:30 PM #19680
"I think that black metal fundamentally is an attempt to reawaken an ancient spirit. It’s an attempt to touch some sort of transcendent primal knowledge that I think human beings had access to up until 3 or 4 hundred years ago when the world changed so much with the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. I think that black metal is an artistic movement that is critiquing modernity on a fundamental level saying that the modern world view is missing something. It’s missing acknowledgement of a spiritual reality. That estrangement from spiritual knowledge is the source of very deep sadness and alienation. I think that is fundamentally what black metal is all about. I think that once you take that fundamental thesis as fact, you can go in any number of different directions with it. You can expand on it in the way that Watain has done, and you end up with this deeply Satanic and nihilistic manifestation. Or you can do what Wolves in the Throne Room has done which is to essentially take that sadness and alienation that we feel and try to transform it into something that is fundamentally positive and life affirming or do something in between. It’s an interesting thing because so many people look at black metal and say “well it has to focus on the absolute darkest depths of human experience or it needs to be Satanic or nihilistic”. I don’t believe that to be the case. I think that the Satanism and the nihilism is just a surface level sort of thing and beneath it lies a deeper and more primal issue."
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