Ascend The Hollow – Echoes of Existence (album review)

From their presskit I gather Ascend The Hollow is a “European-based, female-fronted progressive cyber-tech metal band with 9-string guitars, 6-string bass and modern electronic soundscapes.”
This definitely isn’t something I’ve ever heard of or am accustomed to.
I’m not one who gives a fuck about extra strings on guitars, cyber-anything, or modern soundscapes. This should be interesting.

They go on in the presskit to say they’re comprised of “musicians whose past achievements include support & touring slots with big names
such as Avenged Sevenfold, Soulfly, Xerath, In This Moment, The Agonist, Sirenia, The Birthday Massacre and Jinjer.”
I’ve heard of two of those bands.

Hey, let’s talk about me for one second. Let’s get into an ego-pumping-match! Here’s my press blurb: “This reviewer has opened up for David Allan Coe numerous times.” You can’t one-up me, people, I got you beat…

I might as well start with the line-up:
RAVEN (guitars, programming)
GEF (guitars, programming)
M-NOISE (vox, lyrics)
DAVEC (bass)

They go on to say what the album is about and who produced it. I don’t care about that stuff.

Let’s go into this with an open mind and see what I think about the music. I promise you – I’m ready.

Polaris Calling
It begins with an electro-buildup and I’m expecting terrible shit to follow but….IT DOESN’T. Heavy hitting double bass. Fear Factory slowed down with Marilyn Manson sensibilities. We get some clean singing that reminds me of Cradle of Filth when they’d alternate – but not shitty like whatever other band does it. This definitely isn’t emo or some other kind of garbage. It’s quite late 90’s black, which is extremely strange to me. I was expecting shit. And I got something that is pretty different, to my ears atleast – I mean, it even has a god damn good guitar solo in it when I was thinking it’d just be mosh trash with some pop punk sounding vocals! I’m surprised in a good way. We are off to a good start. I mean, this stuff isn’t really for me. I’m an old black and death metal fanatic. It’s for teenagers and I get it. If I had a kid, which I don’t and I’m glad I don’t, but if I did, and the kid brought this cd home… I’d think “Maybe my kid isn’t an idiot.”
Okay, Ascend The Hollow, you have my attention. Let’s see if you can keep it.

A really hard hitting start to the song. Good blasts here and there of heavy metal double bass (not pop punk screamo double bass) and I’m starting to think if this band had songs about Satan, their poster would be on my wall. I’m reminded in parts of Hypocrisy’s early work and moreso Tagtren’s PAIN era. Lots of metal is mixed here into a nice stew that I enjoy feasting on. I like the alternating between singing and this weird black metal sounding growling. It isn’t the normal deathgrowl. I haven’t heard one pig squeal and I definitely went in thinking each song would have one. I like it. I appreciate the electronic stuff taking a backseat to being a decent metal band. This singer is really, REALLY good.

Mother of Morality
I had to read that three times to realize it wasn’t “Mother of Mortality.” I found that title pretty cool. We go into this song on a journey through staccato train track land but it evolves into black metal sounding vocals mixed with singing and it even gets thrashy in part.
2:35 and oh shit the cd is broken! But it isn’t; kind of a cool effect from left to right speaker and back again. I don’t know what to call this shit. Progressive cyber-tech metal I guess. I like when the drums get thrashed out like they do in this song. There is some questionably System of a Downish guitar in the moshy part but it didn’t make me want to kill anyone! So I’m going to call it “Human Remains” style guitar instead. The song comes to a point where it’s pure pop at the end and I enjoy that, so this band so far has treated me very good.

Sea of Crises
Am I listening to Ulver or something? Actually, I think that first part was on the first Pain CD. No worry as it completely devolves back into heavy fucking metal. The vocalist is clearly completely crazy. Lots of good layered harmonies here. I enjoy those and tend to balk at backup singers for the most part. I like when the main vocalist duets with themselves. This song has interesting fast guitar work especially around the 2 minute mark and beyond for a bit. Going back into mosh music and twisting through into swirling metallic maelstrom. Excellent and tasteful guitar solo. So far this team is able to make compelling noise.
Wait, is someone else singing in parts? Is that why it said featuring other people? Maybe she wasn’t harmonizing with herself. God damn it, I’m leaving the review in stream-of-consciousness-while-hearing! I ain’t changing that part. Whatever, I take back what I said. Good song ending with blastbeats. Very appreciated.

Into The Black Eye
There’s not much for me to say about this one except that I didn’t hate it. When you hear it you’ll know what I’m saying. Hey, I’m into black and death metal… I’m not the expert on whatever that was…

This Dark Rage
Metal! I like this song. I think this song is lyrically about a lecherous perv adult preying on teens. At least the part I could make out…
I love that, because it’s usually reversed. “Christine Sixteen” anyone? “Young Girl”? Yeah… this seems like a good answer to those kinds of things. This has some really fast double bass (Fear Factory again, but I loved Fear Factory) and it meanders from just “break it down chugging” into circles of concentric madness. I like the sentiment behind the song and the guitar solo again… give this guy a beer or a soda or a water, whatever he would like.

Swarms Within
Time to rave! Or rage. I can’t decide. Double bass again hits and a low, low riff of metallic anger starts chugging. I like the keyboard hits in there, reminiscent again of the poppier end of black metal. This song stands out for me. I don’t think every single tune needs the clean voice, and I don’t think every single song needs the black death growling either. I’d like one song with just one style, but I’m old and my opinion is irrelevant. I feel that this stuff is made for, and would sell fast, to the younger set. Interesing around 3:45, a little break that kind of slaps you across the left teste.

Prisoners of the Storm
Holy fuck. Now we’re talking – this is fast. This is the metal I have been craving but we move on to slowing down and doing the singing again. It’s good singing, though. I quite like how churchy it gets in parts and doesn’t deviate so far from metal (like, say, Nightwish and other trash) that I can’t stay into it. I have stayed with the whole album so far and let this be an eye-opener to me and people like me. You may think something is going to be so far removed from your personal taste by the description. Techno metal cyborg 20 string guitar stuff? Not for me, man. I’m too cool. Then you sit down and listen and find out you really like this genre – and here we go with another tasteful, rock inspired, guitar solo before shooting you in the head. Shooting you full of heavy fucking metal.

Repent, Rewind, Reset
Fading into clean vocal territory, and it’s fantastic. I wish the lyrics were about the Devil or beer but hey, I like when a band goes for a more cerebral approach. Kudos for that. Very good vocal performance in this tune. I’m interested in seeing this band live to see how they pull this shit off! Guitar solo is really good (again.) I keep repeating myself. There’s a formula at work on this album. A formula…that works for me.

Just like the earlier song called “Into the Black Eye.” This is kind of just an outro, but it’s cool enough. I don’t know what else to say about it. It conveys a certain kind of hideously inverted loneliness.

I thought I would hate this but I liked it and I came out of the listening experience wanting to see the band play a show.
I think they should be headlining shows soon. The sound is right there at the exact point it needs to be at this stage in popular hard music.

Pretty fucking cool.

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Active musician, the person responsible for - or involved with - cult projects as Tjolgtjar, Xexyz and many others, and the main person behind our wrestling coverage.

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Drowning: Lost City Riders (a 2008 TV movie review)

Lost City Riders, well, its title, has caught my attention almost immediately. I admit, I am a sucker for “lost city” stuff.

I’ve watched the movie once before, but I don’t remember anything of it, which is usually a bad sign, however, with the plethora of movies (and other spare-time-killing activities) available, that’s not really something to go along with – and you probably agree, you remember movies from your childhood, but hardly something you’ve watched a month ago on Netflix.

That might have to do something with the overall quality of the modern cinema, but I guess I am digressing here a let’s get back to our flick.

The movie was directed by Jean de Segonzac, mostly known for directing episodes of various TV series, and starring James Brolin, Ian Somerhalder, Bettina Zimmermann, Jamie Thomas King, Elodie Frenck, Michael Mendl, Jeremy Crutchley and Benn Cross,

Well, Lost City Riders is not a movie you’re gonna remember. A co-production between German TV channel ProSieben and Sci-fi Channel (before its rebranding to SyFy Channel), you’ve seen the plot rehashed a million times before (and couple hundreds after 🙂 ).

The global warming caused the flooding of the Earth, only 10 % of the surface is habitable, and we’re encountering our – you’ve guessed it – Lost City Riders, a family unit (a guy with two adopted sons), raiding the submerged buildings for profit.

Our family unit planning the entering and escaping.

Unbeknownst to his two adopted sons Jack (Ian Somerhalder) and Thomas (Jamie Thomas King), their stepfather John Kubiak (James Brolin) is on the mission of finding the legendary scepter of Sobek, Egyptian god of Nile, who – according to legend – controlled by it the rising and falling down the waters of the great river.

And as it’s usually the case, he’s not alone! Enters Nicholas Filiminov (Ben Cross) as a nefarious businessman trying to claim the scepter for himself to – well, you’ve guessed it again – make money!

Our villain Nicholas Filiminov (Ben Cross) confronting Giovanna Becker (Bettina Zimmermann)

To complete the picture, we have Bettina Zimmermann as Giovanna Becker, Jack’s old love, and because it would be bad to leave the other boy alone, here comes the rescue in the form of Elodie Frenck (Cara Cahill).

You know how it plays, right? Yes, it’s pretty straightforward, with a bad underwater CGI effects, the story doesn’t allow for any twists or surprises, but the scenes in the Chinese cave (yes, we are all over the world, from Vatican to Dresden to Chinese cave system) with the secret room built in it got me in stitches. The acting there was on the level I’ve expected it turning to a scene from a adult video movie any second! Anyway, don’t shoot at the pianist for the piano not being in tune, as they say.

Putting the rod into the hole…or something like that.

I am not sure if it’s me getting old and more tolerant of everything, but I myself was surprised to actually watch the whole movie without any interruptions. I think I can safely state it was due to the level of watchable silliness on the TV screen, quite certainly unintentional by the creators of the movie.

But it’s about entertainment, right? In that case, they’ve succeeded.

Not that I’m gonna re-watch it any time soon (if ever).

Official trailer:

Fragment Soul – Axiom of Choice (a review)

The link for these Greek doom melancholics arrived to my mailbox a long time ago, and I’ve almost forgotten about it. Yes, I know. Im am irresponsible sometimes.

However, I’ve started my spring cleaning also in my accounts and so I’ve come across Axiom of Choice – and what a beautiful album it is.

4 long compositions in 3 seconds over 42 minutes, that’s the progressive doom dessert from Greece. No feta cheese, though, that’s for sure.

You might know already that my musical tastes are all over the place, and although some might argue it won’t allow me to concentrate fully on a particular genre, I think it gives me an opportunity to enjoy music without too much of a comparison.

And therefore I can enjoy Fragment Soul and their work of art for what it is. And it’s a beautiful, melancholic, gloomy collection – however, not a depressive one, I’d say. It’s something you would play during the rainy day, laying alone in your bed and just floating in space of your thoughts and memories. For the fans of Draconian it might be pointed out, that Heike Langhans collaborated on this album, and there’s also a guest person – Egan O’Rourke from Daylight Dies.

I like it a lot. For a seasoned fans of the doom genre it might not be earth-shattering, and I’m not gonna argue it is. But if you want to spend 42:03 minutes of your life with an aural balsam for your ears and soul, this might be something you might like to check.

Album stream:

Malauriu – Malauriu (a 2022 album review)

Recently I’ve lent my ear to some nice black metal releases, so when I’ve got this promo from Italy for a review, it’s been only a matter of time when it will attack both my ears.

…and the day has come.

Malauriu are certainly no new-comers, haling from the Italian underground since 2013. I am not familiar with their previous output, but with the opening track, “Morto Era L’oro”, it is clear what they meant by “a new chapter of experimentation between dark ambient and Mediterranean sound”, which was the description they’ve used in the promo e-mail. Well, they haven’t lied.

The album contains 4 long compositions, the shortest one clocks in 10:52 (“Corpo Tempio), the longest will stay in your aural orifices for almost 12 minutes (11:50 long “Specula”).

A mix between ritualistic darkwave and a poetry reading, lyrics in Italian, along with the music itself, evoke the best moments of watching Italian horror/occult/supernatural movies – minus the video segment, of course.

Not much of a black metal per se, nevertheless, this is right in my comfort zone, as I’ll never say no to the atmosphere inducing soundscape.

The album will be released on April 1st, 2022, in a CD and digital format via the Italian label Nero Corvino, so if that’s your kind of music, you definitely won’t go wrong getting it.


Costectomy/Nyctophagia – “Drone Hunting Missionaries For Sport” (a 2021 split review)

After some time spent checking not so usual music with my other webpage Indokult, dedicated to the Indonesian music , I’ve started craving some more unhinged underground music again. To be precise, good old goregrind and gorenoise. No, I won’t call it a “fix”, haha, but truth is – sometimes it’s just what the doctor has ordered. You know…going full circle and so forth…

Now, with the genre selected, the next important question was – with so much to choose from, what to play? For that, I’ve checked a Olga Lazarus’ new label Strangulation Furrow on Bandcamp. You might remember Olga from the interview I did with her for the Rubber Axe webzine here. Since then she’s relocated to the USA and started a new label, it’s only logical to show her some support! Yes, freaks, some support!!!

Olga is a busy bee and so far she has released some nice releases (mostly tapes, but also a CD and a 7” EP), plus she’s printing the t-shirts herself. Talk about some dedication here!

So, with that being said, I’ve chosen to review a split between Costectomy and Nyctophagia titled “Drone Hunting Missionaries For Sport”. 14 groovy tracks in total.

A tape version from Strangulation Furrow label

First to offer the putrid sonic fruits is Costectomy, which is Chud’s (Ulcerated Offal, Cystoblastosis, ex-Hit-Run Drivers etc.) project based in Eliot (Maine, USA). 6 tracks in total of great sounding goregrind (yes, the aforementioned groovy kind), enriched by the samples from the horror/gore movies, exactly the way I like it. You know, I love intros/outros! Damn, thinking about that, I am pretty much easily pleased, haha! Well, it’s true. However, when you are faced with stuff like this, that’s not so hard. Great stuff here. Oh, not to forget, the last song is a cover of Dysmenorrheic Hemmorage, “Affliction”.

The rest of the release belongs to Nyctophagia, currently an 1-man unstoppable grinding machine from Ohio and if you can count on your rotten fingers, you know that means 8 tracks left to enjoy!

Unlike Costectomy, Nyctophagia plays more of a little faster death/grind, more of a bulldozer than a groove, however I can’t complain here neither and so won’t you. Really, what’s here not to enjoy?

The split is over almost in no time – which is probably the only negative I can say about it. For those collectors of the physical release, this was released in 2021 on a pro CD-R by Costectomy Records (but according the info it’s already sold out) and Olga’s label has released it on in a tape version. Go check and grab it while you can!


VA – Gorenoise megasplit vol. 1

It’s been quite a while since I’d reviewed anything gorenoise related. Gorenoise Megasplit volume 1, the compilation I’m going to write a few words about, was sent to me by our friends in the Italian label Nosevomit Records quite a long time ago, and I am ashamed to have waited for so long before reviewing it. Well, time to wait is over, let’s have a look how ugly this boy turned out to be!

Opening the compilation is Italian gorenoise project Bronchospasm with the track “Pneumoconiosis”, the cool 4:05 track and it’s quite interesting, not the typical blasting sh*t I’d expect, it’s more like an experimental noise track, with drums beats here and there, but straight away, I am impressed and I need to check this project little more closer. And, by the way, they are associated with this little record label:

The second to dissect is another Italian pathology combo – Conforming To Survive – with the three tracks, “Severed Mutation of the Upper Limbs”, “Gnawing the Intestines” and “Cursed Flesh Grimoire”. Rehearsal recording, with a rather goregrind/noise chaos, and again, I am revelling in this! Building from the shortest track to the longest one (which clocks in 3:39), there’s plenty of filth to like here!

But then…it’s a gorenoise proper! American project Hydroencephalocystocele steals the show with its “13 Traxx Untitled” and for all those looking for a really cool gorenoise, now it’s the time. Bubbles and noise, what can go wrong, right? I’d welcome more variability here, but otherwise, can’t complain.

Mucopurulence’s section opens with a cool intro, which intro-duces (lol) us to to f*ckin awesome goregrind track “Copro Corpse Copulation”. This stuff raises the dead! Mucupurulence hails from Finland and because they kick ass, they offer 5 tracks here – Copro Corpse Mutilation, Putrid Bile of Shit, A Collection of Colons and Entrails, Ceaseless Violent Defecating, Choking on Swollen Tongue and Vomit – all the future classicks, I am sure! Not too long, not too short, they are perfect! I really enjoy these, and the song titles remind me of the times we used to come up with the most insane titles too!!!

This nice compilation closes with 5 gorenoise tracks (Adiction, Another Disease; Ear Atrocities, Head Hole, Inhuman Glass and Taenia Solium) from Saccopharynx. This Mexican project offers an interesting mix of blasting drums, bubbling, gurgling vokills…and probably even a kitchen sink thrown in for a good measure, and it works.

The whole compilation can be heard on the Nosevomit’s Bandcamp, and what’s even better, you can get a CD-R of it too!!! What are you waiting for then?

Where fire burns eternally: Eternal Kingdom of Fire, volume 5 (digital promo review)

Those of you who read the Rubber Axe regularly, will might recall the review I’ve written for a previous release of this compilation series, namely volume 2.

Well, time flies and a few days ago a new batch has arrived to my mailbox, this time it was the latest invocation, namely the volume 5.

10 bands, 10 songs. However…what songs these are!

Opening this compilation tape is Winter Eternal from Greece (lately of Scotland, according to available information) with the song “Crown of Stars” (also on this project’s 2021 full length “Land of Darkness”). F**king brilliant tune, I can hardly think of a better opening. Interesting, well thought of, well played. And a well received here, that’s no doubt about that. I like the use of instruments and the melodies.

Russian strikeforce Ophidian Malice, on the other hand, take no prisoners and relentlessly bash the listener with their furious black metal vibe. “Saviour” is the song from their debut 2021 full-length “Disgusting Ritual” and it definitely shows the band in the good (un)light.

So far, I am really enjoying the comp.

With Skorbvstr, the raw black metal ferocity from Kentucky (USA) we have first exclusivity here, as I think their song “Diskusjonen er avsluttet” is available here only. I might be wrong though. I am little surprised with the use of, what is it Norwegian language?…but the guy might be from Scandinavia, so there’s that. As for the music, I have to admit I am starting to develop a certain liking for the raw BM (which, as many might know, is not one of my favourite subgenres), and there are some elements I really enjoy here.

“Pain Enshrouded Dirge” from Desecration Rites is our very next song, and the second longest offering from this compilation. I’d say there’s a certain inspiration from old Burzum (which is not a bad thing, what do you think?), and even it delivers the goods (so to speak) even with the simplicity of melody, riffs and hypnotic drumbeat. Well, you know…the old school, the good way.

Alpgeist hails from Bavaria (Germany) and presents to you their hymn “Moor in der Todtenau”. Yes, I can definitely say I like this approach a lot more than the raw BM subgenre. Dark, melancholic and melodic, I really like the guitar riffs here…the whole song is one welcoming energy boost in my current depressive mood. Can a black metal song be viewed as a positive booster? I’d say so, so this applies. I am really loving this one.

Zmyrna can be classed as Alpgeist’s neighbour, as guys come from Czech Republic, and their “Pagus Maledictus” offers yet another fascinating look into the black metal subgenre – guys not only sing about mystical stuff and medieval life, their music also evokes the fires of the dark ages and the suffering through the ages. This song is certainly a weird one, very unexpected, but as I’ve said – fascinating (in a good sense). The song itself comes from their only material to date, the 2021 self-titled EP.

And now, ladies and gentlemen – the longest track of this compilation. Necrodes and “Swept Away”, from its 2021 full-length “Isolation”. Wow, what a vocal! Imagine maniacal, hysterical cries with some gurgling and you might start to have an idea. Although, I guess the best bet is to have a listen. However, I think more of DSBM than atmospheric BM here, but that’s just my opinion. Unfortunately, these days I am rarely fond of long compositions and I’ve got a little bored here, sorry.

Necrocarnation hails from Germany now, but from what I could find, they are from Argentina, and on this nice compilation they bring to your attention their black/death metal sacrifice with their song “Antarctic”, which is also the opener of their 2020 EP “Fragments of Dark Eternity”. And I have to say, I like this stuff! Especially vokills, which sound really killer! Kudos to the compiler, as I really welcome the diversity of the subgenres while still being true to the black metal genre as a whole.

Finnish duo Svartheim play strict black metal, which might sound a little generic nowadays, but I think they are aware of that, so they enrich their song “Vaiettu” (which comes from their 2021 full length debut “Black Metal Finland”) with the interesting dual vocals. And it works. Personally, I don’t really give a damn about similarity between songs or bands – if I like it, I like it, period. And Svartheim would be on my playlist. It’s simple, yet effective.

And the last band to enjoy from this compilation is Necro Forest from Croatia, with the song “Hate Divison”. Raw black metal, with little NSBM leaning, I’d guess. I am little disappointed with the sort of a ripping off Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon” in the beginning of the song , because when it starts properly, it’s not bad at all! But I think Norwegian legends have their impact on many bands…it’s not that big of an issue, but I thought it would be good to mention that. Also, likeable song.

So, that’s all, folks. Good, bad? Well, for me, undoubtedly a great compilation. I think I can safely say – I can play this without skipping a song. And that’s quite a feat.

Get it from Ancient Cult Records, while you can. Get in touch with the label via e-mail:

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