Author Archives: lingnemesis

Abbath – Abbath

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You know Abbath means business when he uses his stage-name directly as the name of his new band as well as the title of their new album and to use his fierce corpse-paint ridden face adorn the album cover. And, hell, he sure does not waste any time to reminding the old listeners of Immortal and new unsuspecting listeners what he’s capable of musically.

From the first track of “To War!”, one is immediately transported back to realms of cold relentless beautiful brutality. The momentum does not let up, with “Winterbane”, “Oceans of Wounds”, “Count The Dead” and “Root of The Mountain” fast becoming my personal favourites. Especially with “Winterbane”, I found myself headbanging on the first listen – it really reminded me of how I felt listening to Immortal’s “At the Heart of Winter”, which is highly pleasant. Scattered throughout the album are sweet and succinct reminders of the sweeping soundscape found in Immortal’s “Damned in Black” and “Sons of Northern Darkness”, even bits of I’s 2006 endeavour. This is extremely pleasing for me since I’m a huge Immortal listener.

When Immortal was no longer, I admit getting negatively affected. When I listened to this massive album, I admit that Immortal has only changed its incarnation – to Abbath. Hails to Abbath!

Album Review: Falkenbach – Asa

Falkenbach [Germany]
Asa
2013
Full Length
Prophecy Productions
Black/Folk/Viking Metal

As a long time listener of Falkenbach, I was thrilled to hear the news of a new album – “Asa”, its answer to the 2011 studio effort “Tiurida”. Falkenbach is known for its consistently glorious and epic repertoire of songs, beginning from its 1996 inception with “…En Their Medh Riki Fara…”, the return with “Asa” was not an exception.

The album starts off with “Vaer Stjernar Vaerdan” on an almost trademark Falkenbach-esque grandiose note with the mainman – Vratyas Vakyas’ clean vocals heralding the rest of the album, which leads to the second song of “Wulfarweijd”. “Wulfarweijd” tosses the listener to the rougher edges of the Falkenbach experience. The hypnotic melodic riffs in “Wulfarweijd” hook the listener into the music-realms without the listener knowing. This sense of aural engagement was then again renewed in the rolling opus of “Mijn Larzt Wourd”, it is nearly impossible not to feel roused.  Vratyas Vakyas then led the listener to the more intense battle yet with “Bronzen Embrace” – – relentless brutality whilst still retaining dignified elegance. A delicate tightrope that I personally feel few bands could manage with the ease that Falkenbach seems to effortlessly elucidate on such a regular basis.

Speaking of dignified elegance, it is perhaps best exemplified by the song – “Eweroun”. In terms of metal music, this song could almost be considered as a ballad, a very rare and extremely satisfying sort of ballad; as the listener tries so hard to be stoic and detached but fails miserably, gives up defeated by the beauty of Falkenbach, in heathen swoon and forever smitten by such impossible grace. “Eweroun” glows.

As if in a second movement of the album, the listener is re-introduced and thrown back into chaotic dystrophy with the song – “I Nattens Stilta”. The listener swept with immaculate swiftness into action of the musical battle together with Vratyas Vakyas, as one is reminded of the Viking ethics of continual thrive and battle for honour, glory and legacy.  The momentum of the triad – “honour, glory and legacy” was brought to the eleven with “Bluot fuër Bluot” and “Stikke Wound”, the listener – a mere tourist in the harsh Falkenbach musical battleground, is left breathless and speechless.  Repose is still nowhere in sight, as there is still one more song to go.

“Asa” ends in accumulation with “Ufirstanan Folk”, a respite after the long drawn-out battles of the entire album. The triad of “honour, glory and legacy” is finally accumulated and accomplished, and there is simply nothing left to fight for except to relish and busk in the sweet paragon of victory. And that is what “Asa” has accomplished.

Falkenbach on the internet:
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Prophecy Productions

Views from the Pit: ChthoniC “Next Republic” live in Singapore

ChthoniC Live in Singapore

11st October 2013 saw the return of Taiwanese Oriental Metal overlords ChthoniC back onto Singaporean soil for their Asia leg of their “Bu-Tik: Next Republic” tour. Despite this being my third time watching them play, the first was their 2010 “Mirror of Retribution” Singapore date and then at Jakarta’s Hammersonic Festival 2012, I was still indubitably excited for the live ChthoniC experience.

After a brief wait, the band ascended onto the stage at Best World Hall along with roars of approval and applause from the visibly eager crowd of 200-300. The night started off with “Oceanquake” from their “Takasago Army” album and instantaneously, handfuls of hell-notes were flung with abandon into the air and the crowd lapped forward in vigor. It did not take very long for the crowd to warm up to the music as I could observe many started to headbang from the get-go (and mine as well); an organic reaction to the beautiful alchemy of ChthoniC’s music helmed by Freddy and his henchmen (and 1 woman) – Jesse, Doris, Dani and CJ. Towards the end of their opening song, Freddy picked up the er-hu (an oriental bow and string instrument) creating the signature beautiful blend of hauntingly brutal wall of music that is uniquely ChthoniC’s.

Going straight into “Next Republic” from their latest studio offering “Bu-Tik”, the musical assault only went in the uphill direction, in which Jesse flawlessly and almost effortlessly displays his prowess with his electric guitar. Peppered alongside with Doris’ luscious thunderous basswork, relentless battery of drumming by Dani and CJ’s , ChthoniC continued to dish out “Takasago Army” album’s “Southern Cross” and “Rise of Shadows” from their “Mirror of Retribution” record. Not one moment was spared as the hell-notes were continuously thrown with indignant pleasure by the crowd. This continual bombardment of air-bourne hell-notes were punctuated with the sea of upraised fists and devil-horns, completed with synchronized passionate headbanging created a very surreal trademark experience that arguably could only be witnessed at ChthoniC’s gigs.

In a bid to catch some breathe in between of songs, Freddy bantered with the crowd in a mixture of English, Mandarin and Taiwanese (which could be seen as an original and purer derivative of the local dialect of Hokkien). Remarking to the crowd that he feels great to be able to sing the Taiwanese lyrics in Singapore due to the ubiquitous usage of the Hokkien dialect here, and that Singapore is one of the very few countries that allowed him that lingual liberty of singing in both English and Taiwanese. Do I feel privileged and secretly proud of the multilingualism of being a Singaporean at that point? I sure do! And so did the Singaporean crowd as they cheered with fervent approval.

The crowd was then treated to the live renditions of songs like “Supreme Pain for the Tyrant”, “Set Fire to the Island” from their latest album, and one of their more famous hits from the “Mirror of Retribution” album – “Forty-Nine Theurgy Chains”. With “Forty-Nine Theurgy Chains” as one of my personal favourites from their catalog, I think it is quite safe to say I have lost all my sense of inhibitions at this conjuncture. This continued into songs like “Unlimited Taiwan” and “Quell the Souls in Sing-Ling Temple”, the crowd swelled with ravenous delight with the triggering of a mosh pit.

To close the night of oriental metal perfection, “Takao” from their “Takasago Army” proved to push things up one more notch with the crowd launched into a massive sing-along amidst the ceaseless communal headbanging during the chorus, creating an aggressively sublime experience where the band, their distinct brand of music, the endless throwing of hell-notes and the crowd merged into one single entity that I could be called as “The ChthoniC Experience”.

Thank you, ChthoniC, for yet another memorable night of musical madness. Singapore is already awaiting for your return!

ChthoniC on the internet:
Official website
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Album Review: Nokturnal Mortum – The Voice of Steel

Nokturnal Mortum [Ukraine]
The Voice of Steel
2009
Full Length
Oriana Music
Black Metal

With the rapid shambolic decline of the initial promise that Eluveitie offered us from their groundbreaking “Slaina” album to the lackluster release of “Everything Remains as It Never Was”, it was regrettable to say that my faith in the genre of Viking/folk metal has since gone progressively jaded.

In this specialized genre, success treads itself precariously on a thin line, and often, bands either try too hard hence risking a cheesy and tedious sound that wouldn’t sustain more than 3 songs, even if you are an optimistic listener.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a sorely underrated band from the exotic land of Ukraine going by the name of “Nokturnal Mortum” and chancing upon their 2009 opus called “The Voice of Steel” (Голос Сталі).

From the introduction track which invokes a maddeningly morose ambience that sounded menacing yet aggressive will set the tone for the entire album perfectly. Exploded to the title track of the album, their thick melodic guitarwork blended beautifully with Varggoth’s estranged screams and tastefully done dosages of assorted folk instruments.

The album continued itself in an undulating succession of impossible moments of sheer heart-stopping epic gloriously intense uncompromising Slavonic pagan folk metal peppered with quality quantities of good old black metal. A notable mention was the song – “Valkyrie” (ВАЛЬКИРИЯ)

Just as you thought you could take a breather from that blistering near-11 minute magnum opus, Nokturnal Mortum blasted to “Ukraine” (УКРАЇНА). A real tear jerker, in my personal opinion, seeing how aggressiveness can so beautifully done even with clean vocals.

The second magnum opus of the album “My Dream Islands” (МОЄЇ МРІЇ ОСТРОВИ), lasting almost a mighty duration 12 minutes, provides ample memorable moments with their purposeful usage of synthesiser effects.

The penultimate track of this perfect album – “Sky of Saddened Nights” (НЕБО СУМНИХ НОЧЕЙ) finally gave the listener a moment of respite from the chaotic beauty by offering a track could rivals the majestic tranquillity akin to that of Kitaro’s (although I do know that is not a common comparison one could normally make with metal music).

The album ends with another magnum opus – “White Tower” (БШЛА ВЕЖА), proving to hardened skeptics that the possibility of a perfect album isn’t merely a possibility but a reality.

I was taken aback by how effortless and quickly I was subconsciously drawn into the “Nokturnal Mortum” soundscape; I found myself smiling, invigorated as I headbanged with new found zeal in front of my CD player.

My faith has been restored.

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Recommended for listeners of:

Bathory, Falkenbach, Drudkh, Eluveitie, Wolves in the Throne Room, Moonsorrow.

Nokturnal Mortum on the internet:
Official website
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MySpace
ReverbNation
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YouTube

Album Review: Falkenbach – Tiurida

Falkenbach [Germany]
Tiurida
2011
Full Length
Napalm Records
Black/Folk Metal
8/10

After an excruciating and sometimes bleak wait of 5 to 6 long years for the new album of Falkenbach after Heralding The Fireblade, I finally got my hands on Tiurida.

I think it is ample enough to conclude why Falkenbach is still my favourite band (a tight close standing with Immortal, perhaps), considering as I gave the album my first listen and subconsciously the edges of my lips started to curve upwards and my head started to bob to the signature catchy-epic nature of Falkenbach’s music, with each passing song I found my mental and emotional aspects getting sucked into the feverish and glorious whirlpool that Falkenbach so effortlessly conjures.

It’s unstoppable with songs like “…Where His Ravens Fly…”, “Tanfana”, “Runes Shall You Know” and “Sunnavend” pushing the epic boundary linearly, with Vratyas Vakyas alternating between his majestic clean and gnashing harsh vocals expounding the usually beautifully written lyrics of ancient heroic tales, mixed with well placed guitar parts and occasional flute work. While tracks like “Time Between Dog And Wolf” reminded me of the more aggressive variation of Falkenbach that was reminiscent of a previous song like “Laeknishendr” and the bonus track in Tiurida – “Asaland” sounded with loose resemblance to the frenzied nature of “Baldurs Tod” or even “Gjallar”. It is undeniable that there is a certain magical alchemy in Falkenbach’s music. Even though, some scattered parts of the album does not resonate as profoundly and vividly as his previous works, I am sure with repeated listens, the album would grow on me.

That 5 to 6 years of wait was well worth it.

Falkenbach on the internet:
MySpace
Facebook
Official forum
Napalm Records

©2011 Heavy Metal Tribune | LingNemesis

Views from the Pit: Meltgsnow Live @ Sonic Forge Festival

As a familiar gig attendee of Meltgsnow like myself who have witnessed them live earlier back in Singapore at Esplanade’s Baybeats festival and their album – Black Penance launch concert at *Scape to name afew, I was all too well acquainted with their various stage antics. Their majestic introduction track was shortened to the deep reverberating heartbeats, signaling the arrival of Lord Insanity onstage who effortlessly upped the ante and transited to the first song – “Betrayal” from their second album of their evening aural opus in the iconic and historic landmark along St Kilda beach – The Esplanade Hotel, which is better known by the locals as “The Espy”. The intense melodic and catchy piece got the crowd sufficiently warmed up. The evening’s feverish madness proved only to be an incline, as “Betrayal” flowed seamlessly to “Devil’s Mind Ride”, refusing the crowd and the band of any respite or a breather.

After “Devil’s Mind Ride”, Lord Insanity formally introduced the band to the Australian crowd and that Meltgsnow hails from Singapore. Speaking of hails, Lord Sanity took a moment to mention my presence as a journalist (from Heavy Metal Tribune, obviously) from Singapore, I sincerely wasn’t expecting that when the stage lights panned towards me and the easily 500-800 strong crowd in The Gerswhin Room stared right back at me! Moving on, “Empty Sky” took rein steadfast tightly followed by “Lost Your Messiah”, featured in their second album. I recalled hearing some guy from the crowd shouted out, “Fucking awesome!” at some juncture. By this moment, necks were plentifully seen swinging in arcs and devil horns strewn across the horizon of metalheads.

The title track of their second album – “Black Penance” blared out next, what was interesting was the appearance of Tim Charles from Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris joining in with Lord Insanity in the chorus portion. It was certainly fun and refreshing to witness 2 metal musicians from 2 countries onstage together. The crowd was then treated with “Death Takes My Soul”, by this time the Australian crowd would have been adequately familiarized with the Meltgsnow sound. The aural pillage was aptly ended with their signature track from their debut album – “Greed for Insanity”. Thus successfully cemented Meltgsnow of their place within the Australian metal community as comments from the crowd include “Nothing can top that, ever!” and “They are really good, aren’t they?” to recall a few.

In retrospect, it was surreal to hear and watch a Singaporean band when one is miles away from Singapore. It almost felt right at home headbanging to such familiar tunes, except that I am the only Singaporean in the crowd. Also, let’s not forget the fact that it feels damn great and patriotic to see foreigners enjoying the Singaporean brand of metal as much as I do.

Hail yeah, Meltgsnow!

Related articles:
Views from the Pit: Meltgsnow Black Penance album launch
Meltgsnow @ Baybeats 2010 (Video)
Views from the Pit: Meltgsnow @ Baybeats 2010
Guttered Down the Gutters: Meltgsnow
Album Review: Meltgsnow – Black Penance
Interview with Meltgsnow: |Part 1| |Part 2|

Meltgsnow on the internet:
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©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Ling “Nemesis” Xuan