There have been numerous sounds from the underground worthy of capture like Toska, Protean, Der Weg Einer Freiheit and Krallice. This one packs a punch!
Toska – Toska
The band Toska is inspired by poetry of Tadeusz Micinski, a polish poet, gnostic and playwright who was an early expressionist or even surrealist. That’s about all there is known about the black metal band, which surprisingly is not from Poland or anywhere around, but from Iceland. This is the debut of the band, which only came out very recently this year (2015). Let’s check it out.
There’s a cold in the sound of the band, like you can feel in the air when frost is approaching. It becomes clear, while the tracks pass by, that there’s a certain amount of electronics involved in the production of this bit of music, which gives it a particular industrial-like cold feeling. The drums therefor lack the organic, furious feel that you’d expect. They feel too tight, to automatic. Some weird samples of keys are played through the music at a very low volume. This is rather peculiar and a bit spooky. Regardles of all that, the music is intense, full and like a blizzard storm in aural form. If you like you black metal cold and technical, this is the record for you.
Protean – The Burning Centuries
Protean is a Latvian band with (former) members of various bands from the Baltic state, such as Eschatos, Urskumug, Frailty, Grondh and many others. Guest contributions were made by no other than the guys from Skyforger, making this a bit of an all-star record for extreme metal LV. Protean is a musical project that takes a journey through the history of warfare, mythology and legends. From the Punic Wars to the Hungarian Black Legions clash with the Ottoman turks, the longboats of the north and ancient Latvian myths. This is very promising material.
What we get is a clean production and sound that is big and mean. Protean embodies the sound of battle, history and a passion for metal in one furious ball of force. From the chanting on ‘Bringer of Fear’ to its thunderous main song, it resembles the more bold and heavy in the blackened genre, like Behemoth (which I find it resembles a lot). The focus is on atmosphere and grandeur, without much regard of genre boundaries, which is something I love in Latvian metal. The clean singing on ‘Swordwraith’ for example, gives a power metal like vibe combined with machine gun drums. It makes it sound big and honest. I particularly like the long track ‘The Longships Are Burning’, which is a bit of a nod to good old Unleashed and their beer guzzling favorite. A long track full of ambiance of Opeth-y guitar play and brutal bursts like a reign of fire. It shows a feeling for the dramatic as well as great musicianship. This whole album is a demonstration of strenght, a tour de force if you will, of a group of musicians that is highly talented. I feel like I’m just the jackass that wants to tell you that… Please listen to this band.
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Stellar
Season of Mist
This German black metal band was one of those that I missed out on on Roadburn. I thought, judging by the name, that this was some sort of post-apocalyptic folk ensemble. Yeah, you know the kind. Nothing of the kind however, but brutal, icy and melodic black metal (yes, all of that). The band from Würzburg is inspired by philosophy, death and life in their music and has 3 records under their belt this far. Yes I know that ‘Stellar’ has been out for almost 9 months, but have you heard this record? How could I not include it in this section of my website.
The sound of this band is like a warm bath with ice storms. The music provides the bath in the sense that its full and soothing with some major elements creating that immersion. Thematically and through the vocals and hard hooks there’s the storm, stirring unease in the general pool of sound. There’s blistering fury in the sound, but also the anticipation in the calm parts of ‘Repulsion’. Then there’s the catharsis and bliss united in ‘Einkehr’, a chastizing pilgrimage into destruction, total annihilation of the self. Closer is one beautiful and harrowing soundscape, under the title ‘Letzte Sonne’.
Krallice – Hyperion
I feel like I’ve just finished with the previous full length titled Ygg-Huur, which I discussed in #19 of Sounds of the Underground, and then this band of rascalls from New York suddenly drops another one. Hyperion was recorded back in 2013, but only now is released on bandcamp. An interesting mention on bandcamp was the comparison to Sonic Youth, which is hard to distiniguish, but definitely present in the experimental sound of the group. It’s their way of saying Happy New Year I suppose.
The cover shows what appears to be a mountain range or maybe water? It speaks to the imagination, like the music of Hyperion. Blistering, radical twists open up the grandeur of the title track, with roaring drums and intense blasts. The band is like an uncoming storm, taking the most surprising twists and turns in their sound and obliterating any opposition. I can not understand how someone would not classify this as black metal’s next evolutionairy fase. The inspiration for the almost cacophonic, primordial ceremony that is performed on ‘The Guilt of Time’ makes you think of Lovecraftian sources, with copper beaten, clanging and grinding distortion. Krallice proves that they’re here to stay.