Resonance - Ikarie - Arde - Behemoth - Winds Of Tragedy -Asphagor - Qadmon
Updated: Apr 4
Ikarie - Arde 9.5/10
Ikarie follow up their debut EP, Cuerpos En Sombra, with the stunning Arde an album full of transformation both figuratively and literally.
Exploring the realms of despair and growth Ikarie are the wonderful juxtaposition of ideas so coherently delivered that they defy normal description as does their music. ‘’Tomie” is simply heavy, truly heavy, the atmosphere conveyed through the delivery and passion of their music ‘’La Sed’’ is weighed by the pain and anger of Pablo Egido vocals that never tire or become repetitive, the riff is transformative as it is malevolent the harmonies perfectly balanced. The rawer yet no less complex ‘’40 D’’ that relies on nothing except the power of the instrument and its ability to envelope you in its embrace.
To call Ikarie simply doom or post metal is a mistake, the texture that runs through ‘’Surcos (Ciutat morta)’’ and its beautiful riffs is countered by the Spoken fury of ‘’Arde”’ and keyboard menace. You cannot hear ‘’ Kanno Sugako’’ without being touched by it, transcendent, haunting, bordering upon utterly brilliant.
Yet it is also hard to escape the beauty that seeps through the brilliant Titane II. Where the fury is tempered almost for a moment before the light is extinguished and the darkness returns or the haunted piano of ‘’ Flores en el asfalto’’ that provides a breathless coda to the album. Arde is a stunning record that relies on the purity of emotion and raw honesty to deliver a modern masterwork that you will revisit many times. Highly recommended !
Nakkiga/Arde – Split 8.5/10
Nakkiga ( Spain) and Arde ( Berlin) are two uncompromising artist that are united not only through their fierce independence and black metal that is delivered in a raw punk aesthetic but also a ferocious spirit that is as merciless as it is intelligent.
Nakkiga’s tracks "Denbora" (time )and "Errautsak" (the ash) are tracks that are delivered with a clarity and fierceness. The time changes are manic and imbued with a sense of hardcore passion against the fierce black metal tremolo that accompanies the raw impassioned vocals . Nakkiga aren’t afraid to deliver their music cleanly and succinctly before throwing you into the abyss as the lengthier tracks are whirlwinds of raw power where music is their weapon. ‘’Aroak’’is a shortened attack that is no less ferocious, delivered with such intent and urgency as if to ward off the approaching Armageddon
Arde close out the split with their sole contribution. The massively epic ‘’Basalarr’’ ( a plant that provides light and strength) . A track that is both atmospheric and filled with their unique blackened crust delivery. Over the fourteen minutes you are transported on a wave of emotion that is uncompromising and brutal and yet not without its moments of introspection delivered through waves of distortion and riffs of crushing weight and inevitability tinged with hope . Turbulent vocalist Kato is the narrator through the frenzied and the mid-tempo passages that threatened to engulf you. The second half of the song is pure extreme art delivered not at breakneck speed but an inexorable assault that builds to a massive crescendo that is soul stirring.
Powerful , haunting and a fist of light against the encroaching darkness in utter defiance. A release of united and opposing forces.
Behemoth – Grom 9/10
The titans from Poland, Behemoth, need no introduction. Grom is not a new album but a lavish re-issue of their second full-length that was originally released in 1996 that focused more on the experimental and the Paganism/Spiritualism that was prevalent in the movement.
Upon its initial release, Grom was considered controversial for reasons now forgotten or how musical tastes and experimentalism has changed. The first album to feature the line-up of Nergal Baal ( bass) and Les ( drums), much has been made of the chanting male vocals, touches of ambience, acoustic and female vocals as on the epic ‘’The Dark Forest (Cast Me Your Spell)’’. Grom is also a cracking black metal record containing the visceral energy the band is instantly recognized for.
Behemoth was stretching the boundaries of the traditional yet found themselves loyal to it on this album. The synth of Dragons Lair is countered by the fury of the trve on ‘’ Rising Proudly Towards the Sky’’. For many, Grom is considered Behemoths pinnacle of excellence with its experimentalism and overall aggressiveness, the riffs are blistering, and the drumming stretches the tempos to new dimensions. The seeds of the current Behemoth era are here, the grand concepts and the uncompromising spirit, but the death metal inspirations and polish are missing and the result is an album that is raw and true to its underground and heritage (With many vocals in native Polish).
For Behemoth fans, a re-issue is not just that but a beautiful representation of the band’s history that is true to their aesthetic. Disc two contains three hard to find covers, the apt Freezing Moon (Mayhem), the thrash of Total Desaster (Destruction) and their ode to the godfathers of extreme polish music, Ostatni tabor (Kat). There are also rare rehearsals from that era and a cracking 2021 version of ‘’ Lasy Pomorza ‘’. Combined with a 48-page book containing new interviews and archival material, this is a must for any fan.
For those who haven’t experienced the early days of Behemoth, then Grom is a must-listen. Bold, adventurous and pure to its lineage of extreme and black metal where the seeds of damnation were sown and beginning to bear fruit.
Winds Of Tragedy – Hating Life 8/10
Winds Of Tragedy is the work of the ever-prolific Sergio González Catalán. Hating Life is the follow-up to’’ As Life Drifts Away,’’ and as you would expect, it is more of the Chilean violent black metal turmoil.
Hating Life is an album full of bile and vitriol and third release in a scant eighteen months. It is a unique style where the morose melancholy of the vocals that are slowly and offset by the speed of the music. ‘’I Choose to Die’’ is depressive without self-pity, just a mere statement of cold-hearted inevitability that takes a quickened turn into its own oblivion. “Death Love” and “Wake Me Up from This Act” are more thoughts conjured into blackened life, yet the title track ‘’Hating Life’’ is the most traditionally metal but do not assume its up-tempo moments bring any light to the record. Hating Life is almost painfully bleak and disconsolate, the speed of the guitar work and guest drummer Emidio Ramos create an onslaught that will leave you numb battered and senseless.
Conjuring elements of the artist’s other notable project, Rise to the Sky. “No Reason to Go on” takes a massive step back with its haunting cello and full doom arrangement. It is a track so strong that it complements the cold depressive vocal style completely before it too hurtles off into oblivion before its return to a mid-paced coda that is no less extreme.
Hating Life is a record that is perfectly intense, yet its influences are obvious and links to other projects detract from making it a unique experience. However, it takes different journeys to the same destination and never disappoints with its sheer brutality and despondency.
Asphagor – Pyrogenesis 8/10
Austria’s ASPHAGOR return with their fourth full-length release. A band that is unhurried to create their own unique extreme art, Pyrogenesis has another five-year wait between albums.
The sense of impending inevitability is best expressed on the instrumental opener ‘’Ex Cathedra’’ a track that highlights the band’s excellent musicianship and prepares you for the blackened onslaught that is ‘’ Nine Moons’’ and ‘’ The Mizaru Doctrine’’. The Tyrolean black metal collective is adept at its craft which is taking pure nineties’ second wave of black metal, deathenizing it and adding touches of dissonance ( and cracking solos) to create its own brand of mayhem.
Pyrogenesis is an album that does not flinch from its own brutal presentation, the moments of atmosphere offer little respite, and some of the riffs are so razor sharp from guitarists Hybreos and M. Zanesco that they add that touch of speed metal to add to the authenticity of such a heavy record.
‘’Pavor Nocturnus intor’’ paves the way for a bludgeoning mid-tempo assault that is openly hostile, a warlike in its attack ‘’ The Architect’’ continues with its crescendo arrangement and some great percussive work, its bridge of guitar melody is seductive and a mere interlude in the chaos that represents the suitably extreme vocals of Morgoth ( who also supplied the cover art).
‘Scales Of Retribution’’ tips the scales back towards a more death metal style, and at an hour’s length, it is a journey that is surprisingly adept at keeping the listener invested in its sheer sense of commitment and attention to detail. Pyrogenesis is an album that stretches the boundaries of black metal whilst staying true to them and their own identity, demanding and utterly uncompromising.
Qadmon – Ghosted 8/10
The debut EP of 2 multi-instrumentalists, Norwegian Kjetil Ottersen and Englishman James Fogarty (Old Forest, Nattehimmel and formerly of In The Woods..), is ghosted 3 songs of pure Alternate Gothic romanticism crafted over eighteen months.
Qadmon’s music is elegant, seductive and full of textures. The Opener Drowning Sorrows, it is a smooth, almost sultry alternate sound that isn’t afraid to touch on the grander aspects and the emotion of acts such as Opeth and Anathema. It is a sultry romanticism that never becomes dreary but is ideal for those late nights in the dark reflecting.
‘’Ghosted’’ and ‘’Your isolation’’ is more of the same. Perfectly crafted sounds that touch on heavier roots but is imbued with progressive rhythms and progressions. It has a solid, slower rock foundation to build its dark timbres without becoming self-indulgent, lost, or over the top. The vocals are smooth, refined and the perfect complement to the great music that speaks of experience yet also the unease of these incidents.
Able to build its depth upon Full of impressive designs and unquestionable musical talent Ghosted is the perfect debut, albeit brief introduction to Qadmon that is part love, sorrow, joy and despair and the promises of more incredible things to come.