Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gig review: Wolves In The Throne Room, Dodenkrocht

Most probably it has come to the point, again, that my readers think that this blog is dead. Despite it  may seem to be the truth, I assure you it is absolutely otherwise. I've taken a sort of break from life a bit, not being in my country and just relaxing and enjoying myself. A couple of upcoming posts, including this one, will be gig reviews and later on I will go back to posting band submissions and some other exciting news looming ahead. This previous period of my life has been a real hibernation and I presume I'm slowly waking up.

This amazing show took place some time ago and I seriously took my time with gathering my thoughts about it. It transpired eight days ago, namely on 23 May 2012, in "Tivoli De Helling", Utrecht, the Netherlands. This venue has already been mentioned and described in detail when I wrote the review for the "Russian Circles" and "Deafheaven" gig, so in case you missed that write-up you can check it out here. Although I extremely enjoyed the place when I visited it the last time, it left a bittersweet taste in my mind due to the performance of the latter act. Seeing as how this gig featured black metal bands as well, I was worried that the end result would be the same and that I would walk away from one of my favorite names of the genre rather disappointed. Luckily, what occurred that night was nothing like I imagined or hoped for.
First band to perform was "Dodenkrocht", a black metal band from a city called Leiden in the Netherlands, which was the only support group that evening. Literally translated to "kill cavern", this project has quite a bit of history behind it due to the fact that it started as a solo project of the current drummer way back in 2004. Gradually over the years more members have been added and now the band is in the form of a quintet. To be honest, I have listened to a couple of their songs prior to the gig and I wasn't really intrigued much, thus my excitement about seeing them live wasn't actually that vast. Needless to say their performance managed to kick that aside and remarkably increase my interest in the band. The act opened with the sounds of eerie choir singing creeping around the room as members of "Dodenkrocht" got on stage, one by one. Once the mood was set the band kicked off with an extremely intense, nonstop, one-breath execution of their tunes which lasted a mighty forty or so minutes, if I remember well. All of their songs were extremely aggressive and straight to the point, so to speak, with not much time taken for atmospherics and instead providing a really brutal assault on the ears in the form of rather lengthy tracks. The speed at which their songs were presented proved to be quite entertaining and there was barely any time to think or ponder about their music during their performance. Although aggressive, their music succeeded in radiating coldness and depression toward the audience which proved to be a marvelous introduction for the main act of the night. The final song saw the band slowly withdraw from the stage, leaving only the guitar player to produce the last of their sound before it went dead and silent. I will definitely have to pay more attention to this band at home, especially now after witnessing such an intriguing show. Great work.
After the support band finished its act, a short pause ensued. Big flags bearing symbols of "Wolves In The Throne Room" were set on stage. Soon small gas-lamps decorated the stage and other forms of light were cut dead, making a brilliant atmosphere which was to be expected from a band of this caliber. If memory serves me correct, the performance was ignited with the sound of "Thuja Magus Imperium", the first song of their latest studio output "Celestial Lineage" and just an amazing opener for a concert. That song then and there instantly showed that this was to be an outstanding show and that the band will truly live up to its name. Personally, "Wolves In The Throne Room" have been a huge influence on my taste in music, basically opening the door and showing me the way toward black metal. Ever since I first took a listen to their tunes I have been repeatedly falling in love with them, as if discovering them anew over and over again, and seeing them live made me find that much more infatuation for their work. The sound they produced that night was enormous and epic in proportions, an incredible force smashing at the audience without a single pause. Prior to the concert I lurked around the internet and have discovered several setlists the band has played on their most recent concerts and I must admit that I was somewhat saddened by the fact that they effectively managed to elude all my favorite songs. But after the opening song came a true surprise to me, since melodies emerged which I, at first, didn't recognized and it seemed that they changed their repertoire. "Dea Artio" was played second, followed by one of my all time favorites "Vastness and Sorrow". I was utterly mind blown and excited beyond my imagination when I realized what was going on, feeling literally ready to die then and there at that very moment. During my entrancement with the melodies flooding from the stage, I became aware of how much the sound was perfect and everything was discernible amid the chaos and vastness of sound. Also, these songs were excellent at showing the diversity of tones the band was capable of producing. As much as it was vicious their playing proved to be also gentle and highly atmospheric, traits which were further showed with the songs "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots" and "Prayer of Transformation".
The sounds drifting, disappearing and finally melding with the screams and applauding from the crowd found me completely stunned, the band leaving me utterly speechless that night. Discussing the show with my girlfriend was rather short, since at those moments following the gig I had no idea what to say or how to gather my thoughts. It took me several days to actually start forming an opinion and write a mental review, particles of which are found in written form in this post. As followers of the band know, there has been word that "Wolves In The Throne Room" will cease to exist, either completely or just in the form they are now, but this show carved a strong hope for me that maybe, some day in the future, I get to see them perform again and that they continue to keep this beast alive. That night will not be forgotten. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Masakari & Tempest (2012)

This review was supposed to appear a few days ago, but I sadly got sidetracked by listening to some random music on youtube. Quite shameful yes, especially since this release is a really important one and should be payed much attention. 

The split about which you will read below has been floating around the internet for a couple of days now, thus most of you are probably familiar with it. Although people are massively downloading it, I noticed that not everyone is aware of the whole story and the actual cause of the split, so this really needs to be corrected, especially since that is the thing that immediately made a wish in me to have the release posted on my blog. The fact of the matter is that this record is the only material in more than a year's time that I handpicked to post, a release which was not previously requested by a band to be reviewed, so I guess that that alone is enough to say how much I was thrilled with this.
Back in December 2011 I did an interview with "Masakari", which you can read here in case you missed it, and one particular question was addressing the band's love for dogs and pit bulls in particular. This record comes as a further explanation and materialization of their, and that of the band "Tempest", infatuation with these wonderful creatures, the split being a benefit for two organizations fighting for and supporting a truly noble cause. All of the money, a complete 100%, collected through this split will be donated to "HugAbull Advocacy & Rescue Society" from Vancouver, BC and "Wiggle Butts Bully Rescue" of Cleveland, Ohio. The wish of both the bands and the record label is to not only support the people associated with these organizations, but to also increase awareness about breed specific legislation and general awareness regarding animal cruelty and ways of how we, as humans, should treat our non-human friends. This is the kind of action through music that definitely deserves full attention and admiration, thus I would appreciate if my readers would check out this split and help the cause if they can. Even if you are not fond of these bands and this label, pay heed to what they are trying to do, since it is truly applause worthy. Also, please visit the websites of the above mentioned organizations for any further information or ways to get involved and help. You can do so on the following addresses:

Concerning some technical information about the split, it comes in the form of a 7'' EP and is limited to 500 copies with a double-sided fold-over jacket. You can grab it on the website of "Replenish Records" found here or you can just take a listen and download it for free on the above posted bandcamp page.

First in line on the split is "Masakari", the band deciding to contribute with a song called "X. Pain Conceived As A Tool". Press play and get pulverized in an instant, the Ohio quintet opening with full aggression and no remorse for your ears. The song lasts less than two minutes, but it is absolutely enough to set you in the mood perfectly and blow your mind away in the process, continuing with the speed and energy for which this band is well-known for. Ripping out a perfect mixture of hardcore and d-beat/crust, this song definitely heats up the excitement about the upcoming "Masakari" summer tour in Europe. This split also shows what kind of mayhem and chaos one can expect at their show, since the two tracks on their side are actually the same song, one as an "unreleased" and the other as a "live" version. So the live version, track two, comes with a very neat explanation of the song and what this split is about basically. Add to that the fact that the band literally slayed with the way they performed the song and the overall excellent quality of the recording and you get a real time-bomb of a record side.
"Tempest" holds the second half of this split and they hold it firmly. To be honest, I have never listened to this band before, since they are hanging out on my rather long "to-listen" list due to the fact that I'll see them live a couple of times this summer. I saw that people are really saying amazing things about the band on the internet and this split showed me why. Formed in 2007 in British Columbia, Canada, this five piece band charges and tramples over you with a superb combination of dark hardcore and screamo, reminding me of an amalgam consisting of "June Paik", "Danse Macabre" and "Zann". So far I have just listened to this split, thus I don't know what their previous material sounds like, but I can definitely hear a lot of tones influenced by the famous German wave of chaotic screamo. The song on this split, called "Death Rattle", is a purely excellent piece, being overtly aggressive while bearing an amazing atmospheric trait. It paints a rather complex image in the head of the listener with a lot of various shifts in melody, interesting bridges and an omnipresent wave of massive sound crashing on you. Similarly to "Masakari", "Tempest" brought two versions of a single song on this split, one being a remaster and one a live recording. And again they have devastated the audience with the second track much in the same fashion as their split mates. A clean recording where the bass playing really comes as being fantastic, a tidbit I found quite amusing. 
Overall, this is a fantastic split, both because of the bands and their performance, but also because of the action they took with the label to help the lives of others who can't fight for their rights. I myself will definitely be buying this release and I respect anyone else who will do the same, be it for the love of the bands or for the love of our furry (or otherwise) friends. Check it out and thank you.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reflections Of Internal Rain - June Euro Tour 2012

The time has come for the crazy touring machine from Novi Sad, Serbia to hit the road yet again! Dear friends from "Reflections Of Internal Rain" have a sixteen day tour planned for the upcoming June, but they still need some help to make it all work out perfectly. Here is their route:

June 1 - BUDAPEST (HU) @ tba
June 2 - WIEN (AT) @ Venster 99
June 3 - PRAGUE (CZ) @ Bazina club
June 4 - LIBEREC (CZ) @ Azyl
June 5 - BERLIN (DE) @ Koma F
June 6 - HAMELN (DE) @ Freiraum Hameln
June 7 - we need help!
June 8 - LEIDEN (NL) @ Sub071
June 9 - GENT (BE) @ Frontline
June 10 - ROUEN (FR) @ tba
June 11 - LAVAL (FR) @ Queen’s bar
June 12 - PARIS (FR) @ La Miroiterie
June 13 - STRASBOURG (FR) @ Jimmy’s pub
June 14 - we need help!
June 15 - (AT) @ tba
June 16 - GRAZ (AT) @ Sub

At the moment, the most crucial point of the tour that needs help is June 7, somewhere between Denmark and the Netherlands, most preferably Germany. If you think you can provide some assistance, you can leave a comment in the section bellow, write to the band on their facebook page here or contact them via their tumblr page here