Hypnosia – Horror Infernal (Compilation)

This is our first ever compilation review and sometimes compilations are better than single albums. Achintya Venkatesh talks about the latest compilation from Hypnosia titled Horror Infernal, released via I Hate Records.

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   Tracklisting

  1. Crushed Existence 03:22
  2. Threshold of Decay 02:46
  3. Undead 03:49
  4. Paralyzed by Persecution 03:19
  5. The Last Remains 02:49
  6. Operation Clean Sweep 03:57
  7. The Storms of Dead Worlds 03:14
  8. Funeral Cross 00:36
  9. Haunting Death 03:59
  10. Undead 03:40
  11. Perpetual Dormancy 03:45
  12. Mental Terror 02:06
  13. The Storms 03:05
  14. Outbreak of Evil (Sodom cover) 02:34
  15. My Belief (Possessed cover) 03:23
  16. Haunting Death (Live) 03:45

Växjö-based thrash metallers Hypnosia’s career span was indeed very much like the music they presented. With its genuinely no-bullshit approach, like a whirlwind that has hit you and gone you before you even realized what precisely happened, their releases created quite the furore in the underground, especially considering that they played a non-normative style of music at a time when it was considered passé, old-hat and non-trendy in a music industry swamped by the trend known as grunge. Thrash metal had taken a back seat and was merely a shadow of its glory days in the decade that preceded the time, but these Swedish war-mongers released a slew of pulverizing releases amidst an environment that was dominated by in-vogue grunge in the mainstream and extreme metal in the metal underground. Before they could be touted as the next big act, with merely a single studio album to their name, they decided to call it a day in 2002 and disbanded. Horror Infernal is a commemoration and in a sense, a remembrance of these forgotten underground heroes.

The opening track, ‘Crushed Existence’, from their rather successful 1996 demo of the same name is a straight-forward, speed-driven thrash metal number. Vocalist Cab Castervall sounds a great deal like Mille Petrozza of Kreator in its early days, albeit less dramatic in his vocal approach – think more Endless Pain as opposed to Pleasure to Kill. The next few tracks are also from the very same demo. ‘Threshold of Decay’ has a comparatively slower pace, and also features some lower growls as opposed to the regular screechy, raspy screams – much like Tom Angelripper’s effortless alternation between raspy chants and lower growls in a number of Sodom’s releases. ‘Undead’ is a more diverse track alternating between velocity-driven parts and slower, groovier, percussive segments, with ‘Paralyzed by Persecution’ being in a very similar vein. The compilation thereon moves onto The Storms demo, released in 1997. It doesn’t take long to realize the comparatively murkier nature of the production of this release as well as the shift in tuning. The three tracks here – ‘The Last Remains’, ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ and ‘The Storm of Dead Worlds’ are all very brief tracks, but very crushing with their back-to-basics, aggressive and minimalistic approach.

We thereon move onto their 1999 EP, Violent Intensity which begins with an intro titled ‘Funeral Cross’ that directly bleeds into the overwhelmingly fast and pulverizing ‘Haunting Death’. It is rather apparent that Hypnosia have upped the intensity at this point of their career, while at the same time gaining further adeptness in the technicality department, in effect making things more dynamic while retaining their basic thrash-tasting aural onslaught. The next track is a higher-tuned version of ‘Undead’, shifting from the demo’s lower C♯ tuning to a standard tuning and in fact sounds far more wrathful than the demo version that preceded it. ‘Perpetual Dormancy’ showcases some interesting rhythmic interplay between the guitars and the drums – amidst the chaotic speed, the band seems to almost charter into the territory of syncopation at times, and only further reinforces the raging and incensed mood of the song. ‘Mental Terror’ could’ve well been on Terrible Certainty and truly evokes mid/late 80’s Kreator – furious thrash metal embedded with dabbling in more mature, technically-oriented musicianship. ‘The Storms’ further continues this theme – adrenaline-fuelled thrash with a good measure of instrumental complexity and ingenuity, coupled with some well executed tempo changes.

There also two kickass covers on this compilation – ‘Outbreak of Evil’ by Sodom and ‘My Belief’ by Possessed. The first cover truly hits the spot and show-cases where exactly the band is coming from in terms of their sound. It simply rips. The Possessed cover is one of the slower numbers of the seminal death metal forefathers, but is also well executed nevertheless.

If speed-driven death metal tinged thrash metal is your drug, Hypnosia is certainly the to-go dealer. I can only imagine what a great band they must have been in their local scene, and should’ve made for a blistering live act, which the last track, a live rendition of ‘Haunting Death’ perfectly reflects. However, one often approaches bands that hail from an era that post-dates thrash metal’s zenith with a great amount of scepticism, being uncertain as to how successful the band in question is in avoiding the commonplace phenomenon of bands simply being rehash acts indulging heavily in sonic necromania. But the end result is rather positive, and Hypnosia presents a brand of thrash metal which exhibits the characteristics that has come to define the genre, namely velocity-driven, unrelenting ferocity and ruthlessness in the vein of Sadus, early Kreator/Sodom and Morbid Saint, while maintaining a fairly distinctive sound to their name. The production has also been well handled and the quality of the production is fairly congruous across the songs despite having originally been on different demos and EPs. This compilation is a must have for any self respecting thrash metal enthusiast, and should be of special interest to any heavy music enthusiast considering all of the songs precede the incessantly derivative retro-thrash metal movement that post-dates Hypnosia’s dissolution. Hypnosia will certainly be one of the bands in the ages to come that will be referred to in any discussion pertaining to the realm of death/thrash metal.

Stream the entire compilation below:

 

Heavy Prescription (Freebies Edition) – Aronious, The Moon Mistress

Worker Holding Iron Ore Rock

People tend to get excited once the word “Free” is put in context. And as for us Indians, every form of exaggeration would turn out to be too kind in that case. Off late, primarily through Bandcamp, more bands face the hard truth of piracy by giving out their albums for free. In fact, this is great forethought, as today people are more wary of putting their money where it is due. What with the sheer number of metal releases over the last two decades, it seems only logical to do so. To be blunt, people would like to try out an attire before going on to purchasing it. Checking in on how it suits you, damages if any, print mistakes etc.But in the end you are either assured of your choice or dislike and discard it.  The same logic applies here. There are good sides to this as well, as it in a way promotes the album as well as the purchase of its physical copy.

So here today are two pieces of legally downloadable music. Set aside your tingling conscience and feel free to judge the music.

 

1.Aronious – Demo

2012 was a banner year for Technical death metal with great releases from the stalwarts and new bands alike. 2013 so far has only a few, albeit excellent (Deeds of Flesh, Fallujah, Ara) records. Aronious seems to be a new find and well worth the yearning for a bit of technicality. Sonically they sound similar to the likes of Gorod and Obscura with a trifle little of Meshuggh-esque groove (not DJENT!) put in for good measure. All the technical melange is then interjected with subtle melody, adding to the overall catchiness.

What you have here for download is not exactly an album nor an EP. The band did make a statement regarding it – “Just so everyone knows, the “demo” up on bandcamp is in no way an official release, album, or EP. The way bandcamp works you need to group songs together in order to play them back to back. Otherwise you’d have to switch between each song. We did this for your convenience, but it is in no way complete. It is a little over half of our EP which will be released later this year.”  – Aronious

This does keep my hopes high for a dashing new record from this relatively young band, in the near future.

 

2. The Moon Mistress – Simla EP

Bands from the Russian Federations seem to have taken a liking to Indian Mythology and culture (Kartikeya?). The Moon Mistress  a doom band from Moscow, Russia has just come out with an EP, eponymously titled Simla. This probably stands testament to the fact Hinduism and Indian culture, something which is generally common place here seems to evoke interest in distant parts of the world. Post-independence, socialism was an important ideology in our country. Especially during the Nehru-era. And it is specifically during this period, i surmise, that a lot of the cultural cravings of both countries were exchanged. In fact there is an institute just for cultural relations between both countries. Things are interesting indeed. A bit of worldly info doesn’t hurt.

That said the Moon Mistress’s Simla is an exercise in the more primal leanings of doom. Probably musically closer to early day Saint Vitus. Long, meandering and despondent. And yet the semi clean guitar intro, the in-between leads, the almost chanted out vocals,all seem to harbor a certain Indian classical vibe. A disposition knee deep in the Indian occult. Or so it seems. Entrancing nonetheless.

Deathstorm – As Death Awakes

Achintya Venkatesh reviews the debut full length from Deathstorm titled As Death Awakes, released via I Hate Records.

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Tracklist:
01. Awakening Of The Dead
02. Red Blood Spillage
03. Prepare For The Slaughter
04. Await The Edged Blades
05. Nihilistic Delusion
06. Visions Of Death
07. Nebelhexe
08. Rest

As Death Awakens is one of the first physical promotional copies that I’ve gotten the opportunity to review, and was thus obviously looking forward to finally reviewing an album by listening to the actual disc itself, as opposed to promotional mp3 copies of the same, courtesy the organic sound of a CD as opposed to digital copies. The album art-work gives a somewhat misleading impression of what awaits one in the album, essentially evoking an ethereal, otherworldly and surrealistic imagery; much in contrast with the sonic quality that the actual music of the album presents. What one faces upon listening to the album is a barrage of speed and ferocity. The first few riffs of the album capture your attention, and that immediate connect to an album is of prime importance to any listener, whether subconsciously or consciously. Deathstorm are a thrash-metal band from Styria, Austria who’ve been around since 2007 as Damage. They went onto rename themselves in 2011, released and EP and a split before unleashing this deathrashing bombardment upon the various enthusiasts that have taken the calculated risk of getting their ears chopped off.

Kicking off with a recording which speaks of the opening of the gates of hell, ‘Awakening of the Dead’ is an appropriate start to the album and is an ostentatious announcement to the listener that the gates of hell have in fact opened. This opening track exemplifies demented relentlessness – the guitar work evokes a Teutonic thrash metal style with a smattering of Bay-Area influences – in a sense a meeting of early Kreator, Morbid Saint and Slayer circa Show no Mercy-era up a few notches, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. ‘Red Blood Spillage’ is less chaotic in comparison, starting out mid-paced, and thereon losing itself in a frenzied manner, balancing itself out with slower passages, with one of these segments featuring a repeated spiralling riff eerily reminiscent of ‘Satanic Lust’ by Sarcofago. Speed is the primary facet of this album, and ‘Prepare for Slaughter’ is a testament to the same. ‘Await the Edges Blade’ is where things get interesting. While the previous tracks go straight for the kill, this song features a build up which one might find familiar on a subconscious level, but enjoyable nevertheless. This in turn leads onto a mid-tempo prelude with some interesting interplay between the bass guitar and drums. Marco ‘Mac’ Stebich’s bass work does remind one of Anthrax’s Frank Bello circa Fistful of Metal (1984). The rest of the track is standard thrash fare with some interesting, high-intensity guitar work in the vein of Sodom’s Persecution Mania, albeit much faster and fiercer.

Nihilistic Delusions’, with its speed-driven delirium and grinding nature of the guitar work coupled with the tortured, screechy chants truly reminds one of Morbid Saint’s Spectrum of Death in terms of how truly violent the music is sonically. The track balances the crushing, venomous thrash segments with a mid-paced break with some excellent and vaguely melodic leads that help to layer the music as opposed to serving simply as a platform to showcase the members’ technical adeptness, a trap which numerous bands fall into. While the rest of the album’s solos have an dissonant approach that evokes the likes of Kerry King and Mille Petrozza in the early era of Kreator, guitarist Ferl exhibits far more control over the notes he hits on this track, while retaining a degree of atonality to prevent things from cheesing itself up. ‘Visions of Death’ brings further prominence to the said lead work, alongside explosive, percussive rhythm work, and blistering solos to boot. The instrumental ‘Nebelhexe’ is a gratifying listen of sorts amidst the audile pulverization present on the rest of the album, and features some interesting percussive interplay. The closer track, ‘Rest’, appropriately named, alternates between slow segments featuring glum, lugubrious guitar harmonies and regular death/thrash riffs and makes for a more than decent album closer.

This album wholeheartedly bows at the altar of bands that formed the bridging gap between the then in-vogue thrash metal sound of the early 1980’s and the incipient death metal styles that would derive largely from it. An era where the distinction between the two was hazy and poorly defined, added to this the incensed and rabid nature of the music, which didn’t exactly help to provide the slightest of scope for highbrow discussion on the trivialities of stylistic division and distinction. Fans of Sodom, Hypnosia, Sadus, Kreator, Slayer and Morbid Saint will be hooked onto this record in an instant. Moreover, this album is certainly a good break from the typical alcohol, party, zombie, biker and crossover-driven retro-thrash metal style that seems to plague the retro-metal scene, or even the more infernal, blasphemous and violence-driven bands a la Suicidal Angels and Bywar. The guitar work is ferocious, the bass plods along with the guitars and drummer Mani is nothing short of vicious and hostile on the kit. Atop this madness, Stebich’s vocals only serve to intensify this maniacal orchestration, sounding like the gustative bastard child of Mille Petrozza and Patrick Lind. In conclusion, Deathstorm smartly draws its fuel from a variety of influences within the same broader sub-genre as opposed to riding off their love for a specific influence, and thus fall short of becoming entirely derivative. This is an immensely enjoyable album, although there’s certainly room for Deathstorm to undergo further stylistic evolution and truly make their mark in a scene filled to the brim with rehashes and blatant rip-offs.

Heavy Prescription: Aegaeon, Graveyard of Souls, Craven Idol, Sombres Forets

Typing this after a long gap. Ah well let us just spare the explaining this time around and get on with the music. Here are a few brand new tracks that might as well escaped your notice.

1. Aegaeon

Their EP ‘Being’ came like an asteroid crash. An unrelenting barrage of heaviness and yet pretty enjoyable. Genre wise, Aegaeon lies somewhere between Deathcore and Death metal. But i find them to be more death metal than anything else. That said much like their contemporaries the brilliant Fallujah,  they come off as extremely proficient on their instruments. With the latest single, Neural Union, they seem to have taken a more progressive route, much like Fallujah again. Dissonant melodies slide over constantly churning riffs. Cheggit!

2. Graveyard of Souls

If you have a leaning towards the Shades of God- Gothic era Paradise Lost, then this will be a treat. This Spanish duo belts out some great melodies on their first single “Memories of the Future“. The track comes off their debut release, titled “Shadows of Life” released via FDA Rekotz.

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Paolo Girardi can never fail

3. Craven Idol

The name suggests some cheesy pop punk,. But it is not to be, what you have here is morbid blackened thrash. There is a greater emphasis on melody and atmosphere which is pretty uncommon in thrash. Definitely influenced by the likes of Celtic Frost and early day Sodom, they sound scathing with a smattering of all things sinister. All this can be imbibed from the their first track release titled “To Summon Maryion“, coming off Craven Idol‘s debut full length Towards Eschaton. It is to be released via the revered Dark Descent. Oh yes and did i mention that it’s Paolo Girardi‘s majestic artwork?

4. Sombres Forets

If you consider yourself to be in a rather cheerful mood after all that, then this will seek to enervate. Be wary  my friend. Sombres Forets, “Dark Forests” in French, stays true to its title. Dark forests have forever been the imagery of depressive black metal. The foreboding and eerie atmosphere that the term conjures is perfectly dwelt upon this new track Entrangleur de Soleils. The pain emoted vocals further add to the despondent aura. The track comes off their third full length titled La Mort du Soleil, released via Sepulchral Productions.

Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviews the new album from Jex Thoth titled Blood Moon Rise, released via I Hate Records.

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TRACKLIST

1. To Bury 02:54
2. The Places You Walk 05:05
3. The Divide 06:38
4. Into A Sleep 04:07
5. And The River Ran Dry 01:13
6. Keep Your Weeds 05:50
7. Ehjä 08:17
8. The Four Of Us Are Dying 03:59
9. Psyar 08:33

In the time since their debut release, Jex Thoth’s entire line-up has changed, save for the eponymous frontwoman. Despite this, there’s a remarkable continuity style in their releases, hinting at Jex’s total dominance over the band’s sound. Lush, mellow and haunting soundscapes, sinuous, melodic guitar lines and a certain folksy, ritualistic vibe – all the same elements are in place, and looming large over all of them is that voice, surely one of the finest in the whole female-fronted doom/occult rock scene.

Personally, I find Jex Thoth’s sound just a bit lacking in edge – I prefer her Sabbath Assembly project – but there’s no denying that this album is a fine collection of songs. To my ears, it lacks something in the quality of the individual songs, with nothing approaching the majesty of ‘Warrior Woman’ or the sprawl of the Equinox Suite, highlights of the debut album. Indeed, the first two tracks seem to flash by before they have time to fully develop, and this seems to be the case again with a later song, ‘The Four Of Us Are Dying’. The ominous strains of ‘The Divide’ are a highlight with its keening organ and ultra-doomy guitars. ‘Keep Your Weeds’ is another stand out, with a mesmerizing vocal and gorgeous interwoven guitar and organ lines. ‘Ehja’ is possibly the centerpiece of the album, an extended, traditional doom-influenced track that provides Jex with ample space to weave her shadowed tales.

‘Psyar’, another epic track, closes out the album. Its overall atmosphere is mysterious, velvety and darkly inviting, with an epic guitar solo, yet somehow the specifics feel a bit too static, a little lacking in granularity, and that’s the charge I’d level against the whole album. It’s superb mood music, great for lulling yourself into a sort of psychedelic-spacey-paganistic trance, but there aren’t enough memorable tunes or stand-out instrumental passages. It’s a fantastic backdrop, but the details often don’t really resolve on close scrutiny. It’s still a fine album for what it is, of course and might even be one of your favorites of the year if you’re not looking for what it doesn’t offer and are into all the many pleasures it does contain.