Hrafnskald – The Means of Barbarity (album review)

This is the debut album from Illinois based black metal act Hrafnskald. Hrafnskald is a solo act that used to be a full band, but we’ll get into that later. CeannasaÍ is now the sole member, doing all instruments and handling vocal duty.

Let’s now go track by track on an adventure into raw black metal from the plains of my great state…

Hrafnskald – I really like the riff on this song. It’s total rock n’ roll, which is the way I like my black metal. Reminds me of the old stuff I used to listen to and really loved. I know CeannasaÍ probably thinks this is a true black metal song, but it’s regular rock n’ roll with a Bathory vocal. As stated that’s what I like. It even features a Viking-Era Quorthon inspired guitar solo line. Not sure if Bathory is the major influence here, but it sure sounds like it, mainly because the only band that ever really played what is referred to now as Black Metal was Bathory. Challenge me on that if you want, you’ll lose. What I want to point out here is that this particular kind of Illinois Black Metal varies from United States Black Metal. It has an endearing quality you won’t find in most stuff, even going all the way back into the ’90s. Too many people were trying to be European – and even though this song is distinctly Euro-flavored… it’s wrapped up in an Illinois hard taco shell. You have to crunch through the corn to get to the cheesy meat. You have to snap into it. Art thou bored? Then crank this song up, and get a little excitement going. Pop some viagra and see where these near 3 minutes take you! Ohhhh yeahhhh!

And Ruins Remain – Fast, Dark Funeral meets (very early) Summoning riff opens this blaster. Vocals stay in the Quorthon vein… AS THEY SHOULD! I like the rawness of this song, but it doesn’t grab me immediately like the first tune’s rock vibe did… until around 1:30 when we hit that exact style of BM that I enjoy most. CeannasaÍ is a killer guitar player. These riffs are good. It starts to remind me of Thy Infernal. This is Swedish Black Metal of the 1990s. Normally, I really hate Swedish Black Metal. I thought it was just garbage Melodic Death Metal with Black Metal Vocals but the riffs are dissonant enough that it stays black here and I approve. I even started to move my head with the music. I don’t do that…

Ecstasy of the Hunt – Bathory meets Tom G. Warrior who does a guest “Oooh” at the beginning of the song but then leaves. Now is the time to point out the bass playing on this album reminds me of Gene Simmons. That is not a bad thing. It has all the McCartney-isms and the slides, especially here in this song during the pre-verse breakdown. Vocals here are becoming their own thing and less of Quorthon channeling. Ted Nugent would be proud of the title of the song. I don’t know if it’s about hunting deer or bear or coyotes or wolves or other shitty vermin. It’s probably about some Conan bullshit where you ride on a horse and hit other dweebazoids with your gay ass sword. I don’t know; I’d have to ask CeannasaÍ. Interesting Gene Simmons bass from “Rock Bottom” and “Black Diamond” (on the “Alive” record) mixed together here around the 2:50 mark. The guitar solo fits perfectly over this. I think this is my favorite song here. I like the raw vocals. I’d recommend this album to friends based on this song, but I don’t have any friends.

Frozen Exile – Van Halen bass! My favorite kind of bass. I like good bass playing but when the bass holds down the low end as it should, there is more power there for the average non-musical listener. This starts out with a slow “Bloodfrozen” sounding guitar riff but moves straight into an Alcatrazz style of riff. Slow Black Metal, what a concept. My favorite kind! Good guitar solo around 3:00 mark. This guy CeannasaÍ is pretty cool.

While I can’t say something like “Wow, mindblowing experimentation, woah!” I can say this has been a good listen so far. You have to understand that I hate most music I get asked to review – so I don’t review it. The very fact that I am reviewing this should tell everyone something. 4:41 we go into Swedish territory again which I guess we’ve been in this whole time anyway. Cool ending reminding me of Alcatrazz again. I know, I know. You’re not gonna hear that in there. You’ll hear some other band but I’m telling you I’m right.

Seething Malevolence – Whenever I see “Seethe” I think of “Seether” but not the shitty band. I think of the fucking shitty song by that garbage Varuca Salt band. What a fucking horrible song! I like the vocals here on this song the best so far. Low growls! Death Metal vocal. Reminds one of bands like Varathron, Rotting Christ, or Intolerable Nudity. I know that CeannasaÍ wasn’t doing this, and it didn’t cross his mind, but there is a distinctly Tjolgtjar inspired bassline in this song. 2:14 mark. I realize it’s been done 100 other times, and there’s no influence here but… the fact remains. The drums here really push this song into war march territory, like on Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold.”

The Drowned – Thy Infernal / Dissection / Swordmaster style riff starts this song out. Quorthon vocal style returns and I really like this song. When I was a kid I ran into the lake and tried to kill myself. I think I was like 6, but I remember the water just going over me and being really happy…until I was pulled out of the fucking water by my family.

Change in riff to rock n roll, 1:30. Good song, a mixture of styles not found in most black metal. Let’s face the fact that BM is completely generic with 1532 bands that all sound exactly the same. Kudos to this CeannasaÍ person for not sounding like FUCKING Burzum.

March of the Fallen – Uh-oh, what happened? We’re fully in Viking Era Bathory now at the start of this tune. Excellent bass melody in the back, and I start thinking this is one of the best albums I’ve heard for a little while but I hold that thought back because I never say that about anyone. We hit 1:30 and the blasting is back. We get thrashier on this song. “Now is the time for my return to lands once my own…” What fucking lands? The Illinois River? Pretty sure that’s owned by pirates. As this song goes on I start thinking about something. I really don’t like the Chicago Cubs. And I hate Chicago. Not sure why I’m thinking that. Is there a message in this song, hidden in the mire of music? 3:34, cool breakdown. Fantastic song to end the album with.

To top it off, there’s a cover of a Satanic Warmaster tune.

Hrafnskald put out a demo in ’17 with a full band. I thought it was cool, but it was definitely not as powerful as this album.

Worth the money. Buy it.

https://hrafnskald.bandcamp.com

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 bit..so 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQupuFFlbOo

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.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/malauriuofficial

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!

Bandcamp: https://strangulationfurrowrecords.bandcamp.com/album/costectomy-nyctophagia-split

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: https://www.facebook.com/unauthorizedsurgeonsclub/

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?

https://nosevomitrecords.bandcamp.com/album/gorenoise-megasplit-vol-i

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: aniquilacionsatanicapro@yahoo.com

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