Morgirion – None Left to Worship (C32, NoVisible Scars)

Black metal, Music, Review

none left to worshipMorgirion are still deeply entrenched in the underground black metal scene, creating rough demo tapes of shredding guitars, muffled drum and bass, and unmixed/unmicced vocals. Their previous full-length release Infinite Retribution Upon Paradise, is has less of a basement approach to recording, but it still has that muddied mixing that comes from low budgets and DIY ethics. None Left to Worship, released on NoVisible Scars, brings Morgirion back to live recording straight to tape, and it’s a great look at the band’s ability to perform haunting black metal without the need for studio mixing.

The tape’s four tracks are spread across two sides, and Morgirion usually fall within the five-to-six minute range for their songs. None Left to Worship has a very old-school metal vibe – its cover is hand-drawn,  its tracks are muddy, and more importantly, the band give little importance to refining those qualities. They’re more interested in crafting great black metal in the vein of “Norwegian titans like the early 90’s Mayhem and Immortal, Marduk or barbaric, mid-paced Bathory.”

Truly, they do capture that style with both fast- and mid-paced songs. “None Left to Worship” blasts away from the start of the tape with a pronounced guitar tone; the drums and vocals get somewhat lost in the mix here and on “Infiltration of Divine Entity,” but the artistry is clearly here, and “None Left to Worship” really comes into its own in its half-time conclusion. “The Pulse of Death” pulls out deeper growled vocals in favor of Morgirion’s normal high-pitched shrieks, while “A Cancer Now Severed” slows things down in the back half of the tape to end None Left to Worship on an atmospheric note.

Morgirion are holding fast to the style of unrefined, unfiltered metal so popular in the ’80s and ’90s, and it’s great to see a black metal band with able to rage with brutality that doesn’t need effects and mixing techniques. This is straight black metal, plain and simple, and None Left to Worship throws down accordingly.

One Master – Live in the Castle of Quiet (C62, NoVisible Scars)

Black metal, Music, Review

one master live in the castle of quietOne Master is a black metal group – their Discogs lists Ryan Adams, but there must be more in their live line-up – with a couple of releases under their belt. Live in the Castle of Quiet, released on NoVisible Scars as a one-sided C62 with repeating side B, is a live set played for the radio show “My Castle of Quiet,” and as clear from the four tracks offered, the band’s music is anything but silent.

One Master play fairly traditional black metal, and their songs tend to run longer in length. The recording master on Live in the Castle of Quiet is rougher on some parts of these tracks – the vocals are mixed pretty low, the drums muffled, and the tape itself mastered low – but overall the meat of what One Master does is apparent.

“The Destroyer (Parts I and II)” is the first track, and out of the gate it’s a plodding depressive track with howled vocals and a heavy reliance on guitar riffs. But One Master aren’t afraid to speed things up, either, and the track’s final moments double the pace. As does “A Cursed and Dismal Mind” – an unreleased song with the new lineup – with its blast beats and arpeggios after an initial attack of dueling guitar, before it follows up with a devastating breakdown of its rhythm.

“Intolerance” is a track off of One Master’s split with Glass Coffin, and it blasts away with quick guitar sweeps and a pounding drum line; of course, it’s also a bit shorter than the rest because of its blistering pace. Another new song, “Infernal Silence,” finishes the set with another intense, pounding cut that finds the guitars so fast and unremitting that they tend to actually blend into a difficult sprawling drone until One Master slow things down again. It would seem like that’s a problem with the recording fidelity, except it’s strangely enjoyable to have this wave of noise envelope the listener.

Live in the Castle of Quiet is a frenetic release from One Master, and they deliver some heavy, bleak black metal, even in a live setting. This release is rough around the edges, as most underground black metal tapes are; that means it will definitely interest those cobwebbed, shrouded BM lovers.

recommended

Ninika – Ninika EP 2012 (C62, NoVisible Scars)

doom metal, Drone, Music, Noise, sludge

ninika ep 2012

Reviewed in digital format.

Ninika are a droning sludge band featuring Paul Aphid (of Poison Tongue, Degenerate Slug) and the duo behind Teeth Engraved With the Names of the Dead. This four-track album, or as Ninika title it, an EP, is a single-sided 62-minute cassette – or 31 minutes of sludge. The project combines the harsh and electronically blurred vocals of Aphid with industrial-tinged music from the TEWND artists for some heavy and lo-fi music, most of which tends to fall into more droning territory because of the effects used. Fans of Sunn O))), Khanate, and similar groups will find themselves at home with Ninika.

Opener “Am I Corrupted” jumps right into the sludgy textures with a very lo-fi sound; the drums and guitar are so muffled that their definition isn’t there. You can hear something of a tone from the guitar, but it’s mixed so low that it’s more of a feeling than it is a rhythm. The drums bash away while Aphid screams over top of everything, and the vocals also seem to feature a warble that gives them an underwater, drowning sound.

The tracks are somewhat repetitive, too, creating that drone effect. “Am I Corrupted” features a slight buzzing that carries throughout the song. “Heat” is a slow build-up of crushing guitars and echoing effects that sound created by using the sheer volume of the recordings as microphone feedback. “Sorry, I Can’t Be With You” does a similar take, but with Aphid pronouncing the title over and over again as though a mantra for himself. Ninika combine those heavy riffs with Aphid’s intense vocals for some fantastic doom metal; the liner notes indicate the vocals feature lyrics based on sex and perversion, but it’s too bad we can’t make out what they are in the murky production.

Ninika EP 2012 is a perfect example of real sludge music – the production is so lo-fi, the drums and guitars tracked so deep in the mix, that everything blends together for a heavy mix of industrial, vocally deranged music. It works well together, and though the tracks are often similar, they have their own unique qualities. The sound is quite scorching as well.

Death Factory – Maschinen Unter Kontrolle (CD-R, NoVisible Scars)

harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

20130512-195115.jpg

Reviewed in digital format

Death Factory is a death industrial project from Michael Krause, and Maschinen Unter Kontrolle is a 75-minute album jam-packed with noise ranging from industrial to harsh noise to power electronics. There’s even a live jam on here to change things up a little bit. Death Factory hits a lot of familiar territory, but there’s a variety of stuff to go around on here for many noise listeners to enjoy.

The first tracks clock in over the ten minute mark, and Death Factory divides the territory well with the shorter piece “Shatter the Glass Tower” right in the middle of it all. Opener “Machinen Untter Kontrolle” hits with crackling static and a rolling beat, only to end with whirrs and laser blasts of sound backed by some melodic synth work. It rolls right into “Manifestation of Fear (Version 3)”, a rhythmic pulsing industrial tune that sets up the rest of the death industrial vibe of the album.

This track and “Devolve/Shatter the Glass Tower (Part 2 Powermix)” are the best tracks on here. The latter touches on power electronics with sharp vocals and a heavy rhythm that takes the first version of the track into a slower, droning area. The live track, “Bulldozer (Live Trio 2007)”, adds some drums that aren’t prevalent on this disc – it’s a bit different from the other Death Factory repertoire, but it works regardless.

The final experiment, “Demitri’s’ Dilemma”, is a noise homage to the horror film Beyond the Door, and it features samples from that film. It’s a quiet closer, and it’s not as good as the other material on here, but horror fans will enjoy the creepy sample.

The CD-R is lengthy, but it gives Death Factory time to explore the different avenues of sound in his portfolio. Maschinen Unter Kontrolle is worth a listen just for the two highlights mentioned above; the rest of the tracks are just a pleasant addition to the album.

Ur – Clandestine Meeting Park (C60, NoVisible Scars)

dark ambient, Drone, Industrial, Noise, Review

Ur does their droning, gloomy thing on Clandestine Meeting Park, a single-sided C60 cassette in the oddball packaging NoVisible Scars has been producing – oversized envelope with large sheets of artwork. Ur is a group that often works with multiple instruments, crafting blending soundscapes that evoke the darkest depths of Hell, and that’s true on the two 15 minute untitled works they contribute on this tape.

The first track is a flowing jumble of guitar drones, oscillating rhythms, and percussive textures, along with what sounds like vocal samples added to the mix. The layers are plentiful, and the booming sounds often echo like they’ve been generated in a huge and empty room. The space of this track is rather vast, too, and though it’s full, it also sounds like there’s room to breathe – it’s not dense, just swirling with atmospheric vibe.

The second track is another swirling cloud, although this time much denser. The sound builds from droning guitars and squealing into shouted vocals, all yelling together in a madness that evokes hellish fury. There’s even more to it than that, with other instruments contributing to the wailing below, and there’s even a sense of synth sustain hidden somewhere within there. It works well, and it’s a little bit different from what Ur generally work with – slow oscillations and loops that drone on for minutes are not on display in “II”, and instead Ur get right down to business. They’re also using some drum beats on this track, crackling with more upbeat loops and guitar rhythms, along with churning electronics.

So on Clandestine Meeting Park, there’s some new and some old from Ur. The first half of this split showcases what Ur’s normal pattern is, while the second half gives a new flavor of the trio with some harsher, more involved sounds. It’s definitely worth checking out, since even generic Ur is almost always a pleasure to listen to.

Reclusa/Degenerate Slug – In the Throes of Seclusion/Degenerate Slug (C60, NoVisible Scars)

Industrial, Music, Noise, Noisecore, Review

Like most NoVisible Scars releases, this split from doom/industrial metal artists Reclusa and Degenerate Slug comes in an over-sized plastic baggy with a two-sided cover insert and another insert with all of the track listings. The package isn’t the easiest to store, but it does have its advantages thanks to the full color insert.

Reclusa is up on side one, and hisdeep, death metal growls combine with the drum machine blasts and heavily downtuned guitars for some nasty, sludgy industrial metal in the vein of Godflesh. The tracks tend to blend together because of the similar patterning; there will be a fairly repetitive drum beat to hold the track down while Reclusa riffs over it, and the vocals add little lyrical value to the songs but they certainly add a very dark texture to them. Reclusa gets a slightly longer side, thanks to 9-minute opener “Penetrate,” but that’s alright because these tracks are rigidly depressive.

Degenerate Slug’s work is similar, although the vocals these four tracks are less deep, more shrill, and they’re more understandable than Reclusa’s.  The tracks here are also considerably less metal than Reclusa’s and more industrial; there’s an emphasis on vocals and the noise spiraling within the song rather than the drums, although they too are very structured and repetitive. Thankfully, Degenerate Slug’s songs are shorter, because the songs tend to loop and repeat a bit too much for my taste. However, “Deranged” does this form well; it’s one of the tracks on this cassette that remains the most memorable.

Both sides of this tape are suitably heavy, and anyone who likes industrial sludge or doom would do well to have this in their collection. The repetitive nature, however, might limit listens.

OVER – OVER (C15, NoVisible Scars)

Drone, Noise, Review, spoken word

Reviewed from a digital copy.

I’m not familiar with OVER, and neither is NoVisible Scars besides the submission they received from the artist. This is self-described as something of “confession” noise, one 15 minute track of a minimal pulsing electronic loop with spoken-word stories  from OVER about the past. This is psychotherapy in a new form; in essence, releasing this cassette is like telling the story to every shrink who ever hears it, meaning as listeners we will undoubtedly form opinions, biases, and judge whoever is telling this story. And what better way to share your tormenting inner secrets than anonymously broadcasting it for anyone who wishes to hear it?

As a noise track, there’s not much to offer from OVER’s use of looping dark synth. It’s only use is a gloomy layering beneath the words of the artist, and it’s entirely persistent over the entire track. But it’s not even really the focal point at all, because the listener will be attempting to make out the confessions of the man layered atop the sound rather than listening to the noise itself. In a way, it does create a drone, but it almost feels like a way to mask the stories the confessor tells rather than engage the listener. It’s difficult to argue with the choice, though; OVER wouldn’t want to take away from the emotion of his confessions by crafting too much of a sonic soundscape, but there’s also that feeling that perhaps no one would listen if it was just spoken word.

As a confession, it’s deeply interesting from both the point of view of one who’s interested in the seedy side of life (that’s not to say that OVER’s story is seedy, but that humans themselves can harbor some immensely dreadful feelings) and those that have interests in psychology. OVER is mostly concerned with his brother, a person whom he hated, although at one point participated in incestuous activities. In a way, the untitled track is a means of confessing the facts about what happened to the artist in his childhood, but it also gives OVER the ability to work out “blame” or “fault” in the matter – and the obvious conclusion is that there’s no person to blame, that everything happened because it happened and it’s time to move on.

After listening to OVER’s narrative, I’m not quite sure he is ready to move on, or that he truly understands his own emotions yet. But what’s really the most interesting aspect of this tape is how faulty memories can be. OVER repeatedly forgets or changes his narrative to account for forgotten details; it’s not exaggeration, but a true absence of certain memories that cause OVER to recount his experience. Clearly memories are cloudy, and part of the problem of getting over a situation stems from not remembering exactly why you did what you did.

So as a noise tape, this is not something you listen to again and again, or even if you’re not feeling in the mood to hear a dreary tale. This is something to contemplate, to learn from – to not repeat. And I get the feeling that if OVER is truly over this, he doesn’t really give a shit what some reviewer thinks of his homemade confessions. I hope this is the case.

Mazakon Tactics – Adorable Atrocities (C30, NoVisible Scars)

Drone, harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, Review

Reviewed via digital copy.

Sascha Mandler of Namazu Dantai brings us a half hour cassette of bleak power electronics focused on whispery electronics, clanking metal, looping industrial rhythms, and guttural growls. On Adorable Atrocities, Mazakon Tactics hits the dark ambience hard with some fantastic, plodding moody aural arrangements. It’s the power electronics bent that he takes with his screams, however, that really throw off the listen.

Opener “It Must End Here” carries on with a single, droning tone accompanied by varied poetical vocal outbursts. Where the calm of the background would almost ensure a hypnotic trance with its unwavering but solid pitch, Mazakon Tactics adds various screams and growls to the tone; while these screams might be good on a brutal death metal album, Mandler never really hits a solid range of vocal screams. Instead, they’re kind of all over the place, some growls and some higher pitched screams that become almost laughable in places. It’s only when Mandler finds a pattern with a closed-mouth snarl of “It must end here” that the track finds a happy medium, and at that point, it’s over.

“Promise” brings things back to form a bit, an atmospheric opening with a nice whirl of abyssal drones, squeals, and then a looped pattern of scraping metal that sounds a bit like a gun hammer cocking and scraping throughout. Again, Mandler sees fit to growl over this pattern with unintelligible words and noises, and I would much rather the track be allowed to play out without that excessive riffing, because without the vocals that track is truly unsettling. Afterwards, the growls cut out for some waves of static played on top of the drone, and this part of the track really shows the depth Mazakon Tactics can hit without the need for vocals, although when they’re added on top it does create a tense display of anger.

“Sliced Core, Spiked Lips” has a nice build to it in the beginning, and I will say that the harsh guttural vocals add a layer that juxtaposes that serenity of the droning tones behind it, where some instruments almost sound like subtle piano plinks. And the disturbing nature of the track’s latter half, with screams that echo like those of a prisoner in a dank cave, work well with the Mandler’s powerful growls, as though he is the Captor and we are the Captives. And Mandler certainly captures the industrial side of power electronics as well – the sharp clanks of metal and scraping that permeate through the thick noises are some of the best spectacles on this release.

“Aries Axiom” has a spectacular build, the best track on Adorable Atrocities. Full of chaotic static with seriously pissed vocals rocketing through it, then scrapes and and an ambient whir that somehow grows to a climax, this track has got to be the harshest here because of its unrefined brutality. It is here, without the growls that seem to lack believability, that Mazakon Tactics cements the sound of absolute frustration the power electronics genre can achieve.

Adorable Atrocities has a disturbing undertone to it, and that’s more apparent on the B-side of the cassette than the A-side (besides the almost throw-away “Almost There”). “Prostration for a Fathomless”‘s rich crumbles and looping create a catharsis hard to ignore, and if you can get over the guttural vocals that can be overwhelmingly cloying, Mazakon Tactics creates a soundtrack to a world that, while not dead, soon will be, and filled with the deepest darkness one can imagine.

News: Yellow Crystal Star & Pregnant Spore tour dates/New NoVisible Scars releases

News, Noise

Starting May 25, Yellow Crystal Star and Pregnant Spore will be making a few stops on the east coast and in the midwest on their upcoming tour. Justin Marc Lloyd of Pregnant Spore will have a few new releases for sale (Merzbow, Government Alpha, Yellow Crystal Star) and Mark Billings of YCS will also have a few releases for grabs.

Here’s the full tour schedule:

“5/25/11 @ 700 social club (700 north harrison street, wilmington, de) w/ sacajaweeda, winter ritual + more tba.

5/26/11 @ jr's bar (2327 s croskey street, philadelphia, pa) w/ forget the times (mi), kouhoutek, pneumagon (featuring mark from yellow crystal star), ex by v.

5/27/11 @ amma (theammahouseATgmail for address or facebook.com/AmmaHouse) w/ cash slave clique. 7pm.

5/28/11 @ the golden drum (197 greene street, #g24, brooklyn, ny). w/ ka, guitars. this will be a dementia and hope trails set since it's supposed to be a quiet day. 7:30pm.

5/29/11 @ as220 (115 empire street, providence, ri) w/ mark lord, mem1. 5:30pm-experimental film adaptation of alice in wonderland. performances start after that.

5/30/11 @ yes oui see space (19 vancouver street, boston ma) 12pm.

5/30/11 @ gay gardens (10 graylock road, allston, ma) w/ ageism, vehement carress, double awake + 2 more tba.

5/31/11 @ the silent barn (915 wyckoff ave, queens, new york, ny) w/ laura ortman, opponents, brooklyn raga association. 9pm. $7.

6/1/11 @ the shop (4314 main street, pittsburgh, pa) w/ Triangle and Rhino, Waterfinder, Burnout Warcry

6/2/11 @ bela dubby (13321 madison avenue, cleveland, oh) w/ hell's bastards (skin graft + ghost pussy), rabid bat sabbath. 8:30pm-11pm. donations encouraged!

6/3/11 @ stone tavern (110 east main street, kent, oh) w/ zurvan, interstates, etc. 11pm.

6/4/11 @ enemy (1550 n milwaukee ave, 3rd floor, chicago, il)

6/5/11 @ pig slop (2700 cherokee st, st louis, mo)

6/6/11 kyle's new apartment above a comic book store (normal, il) w/ regosphere, hastas + more.

Yellow crystal star shw./pregnant spore departs:
6/8/11 @ MedXXXa (minneapolis mn) with Food Pyramid"

A couple new releases have come out from the label NoVisible Scars. Death Factory’s Chilling Impressions is a C30 featuring two 14 minute tracks dedicated to grindhouse and horror films. Described as industrial/atmospheric, and most likely as chilling as the inspiration material.

Also releasing is Flesh Coffin’s (Andreas Brandal from Jersey Flesh – look for a review of So Much Darkness on here soon) Seeing Things, another C30 of ominous and bleak atmospheric noise.

Each come in 7″ sleeves with great artwork for $6 apiece. You can pick them up at the NoVisible Scars Bigcartel. Hear samples at their Bandcamp.