Sunday, 8 September 2013

Poisonous doctrines - Baneful Genesis Records


Having dedicated last week to black metal in all it's forms and before I meander off to explore music of different heavy persuasions, I felt it right to do another label feature. Talking of label features, they seem to springing up everywhere. I'm not saying mine are unique, but I've recently seen them in one well known, monthly UK extreme metal magazine. It's good though, because they're giving columns and pages to labels and bands that smaller blogs, like mine, have been repping for a long time. It's ace to see those labels and bands getting more attention.

Anway, back to the task in hand. Baneful Genesis Records came to my attention about 18 months ago now and after I reviewed the Gravecode Nebula/Krieg split 7" that the label released, I've been trying to find the time to check out their other releases. Now's the time. Like the majority of fledgling labels, Banefule Genesis is run for the love of the music and mixes black metal releases with doom releases, to create a terrifyingly dark aesthetic. As with similar labels, Baneful Genesis keeps a low profile, preferring mystery over celebrity.

Spiculum Iratus - Summa Anti-Thelogica


I'm starting with a record that was released back in 2009. Spiculum Iratus hail from California yet play the nastiest black metal you could wish for, which is definitely at odds with their surroundings. Summa Anit-Theologica is currently the band's only full-length, following their earlier demo and split with Bestial Incanation. Spiculum Iratus are currently on haitus, but are writing a new record and their bassist is in a band called Pendulous, who have just released an EP digitally through Baneful Genesis. This six-tracker was mastered by James Plotkin of Khanate, which is sure to be a sign of it's quality.

Tracklist:-

1. Prolegomena
2. Orations Recited Through the Mouths of the Jawless
3. The Miracle of Malignity
4. Dismantle of the Sensus Divinitatus
5. St. Mlesna
6. Expurgated Omnipotence

(Photo by Terrorist Photography)

I always get a huge sense of anticipation when I sit down to listen to an unfamiliar band for the first time. Spiculum Iratus begin with an atmospheric song in the form of Prolegomena. It's laced with occasional growls and shrieks, while maintaining a haunting ambience thanks to the guitars. It's very much an intro track that builds atmosphere before the band unleashes their full, blackened majesty. 

Oration Recited Through The Mouths of The Jawless is where Spiculum Iratus open up and unleashes demons. The rawness in the production gives the music a cavernous sensibility and a live sound. It really makes it feel like they’re in the room with you. Orations... is also the most expansive song on the album, due to it's length. There's plenty of time and space to allow Spiculum Iratus to explore their occult, anti-religious black metal. There's melody buried within the music from the guitars. The drums provide a battering of epic proportions thanks to almost continuous blast beats and the shrieks pierce you synapse with every rasping breath.

Midway through, those shrieks are replaced by chanting, which add another layer of menace to the music alongside the irregular noise and crashing cymbals. It's certainly uneasy listening and sets out the pitch for the rest of the album. It amazes me how bands can conjure so much negativity and pain in their music. It almost feels like a true possessing on minds as opposed to just a front. The atmosphere seems to change as The Miracle of Malignity beings. The riffs at the start present more magisterial melody and it's more prominent during the opening verse. The rest of the band carries on with their aural and sensory assault, providing a dark lesson in extremity. Different people will have different opinions on what constitute black metal nowadays, but there's no escaping from the fact that this is pure, cold and disheartening in a way that only true black metal can be.

The sampled spoken word that Spiculum Iratus place in between songs is equally as thought provoking as the music itself. I don't know how they keep their momentum going, as they blast through Dismantle Of The Sensus Divinitatus, but they do and it continues to rattle your brain. One thing that people may not pick up on instantly is the power of the bass in their music. It rumbles in the background providing a devilish tone, even though it's semi-obscured by the drumming. This lowness helps to keep things in check and adds a lot to the bands overall sound. There are some great rhythms hidden in St. Mlesna. The echo on the vocals adds depth and a sense of there being multiple entities screaming into the mic. The introspective section during St. Mlesna is a moment for brief contemplation before the songs second half. The guitars here soar on their own, before the bands blackened noise permeates through the calm again. There's groove during that second part though and a grander feel at times, with a more considered approach being taken by the band.

The wall of sound that continues on Expurgated Omnipotence is a savage way for Spiculum Iratus to end their torment. They are as powerful with their last chord as they are with their first. It may be an acquired tasted, but that's the point and if you like getting lost in a record and letting you imagination run wild, then nothing beats a record like this. I may not be the kvltist of reviewers when it comes to black metal but I know that great art and music needs to be appreciated. Spiculum Iratus have extremity and beauty in equal measure.

Hear it in it's entirety here:-



A digital download version Summa Anti-Theologica can be purchased from the above link.

The CD can be purchased from the Baneful Genesis Records online store here http://www.banefulgenesis.com/cds-2.html

Spiculum Iratus Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spiculum-Iratus

Icon of Phobos - Icon of Phobos


My next review features black metal band Icon of Phobos, who formed in 2010 and released their debut album through Baneful Genesis Records a year later. Another black metal horde from California, featuring ex members of labelmate Spiculum Iratus and of doom band Dona Eis Requiem. Heck, as I write this review, Icon of Phobos will have support the mighty Marduk in LA of all places! They've had some pretty awesome live shows recently, including in support of Abigail Williams and alongside VON at Ritual of The Black Mass, plus they have been writing a new album as well,

Tracklist:-

1. Intro/Revelations of the Void
2. Harbingers of Ruin
3. The Shrouded Worm
4. Analgesia
5. Shape of Failure
6. Misogyny in the Flesh
7. Ecstasy in Death/Outro


The intro to Icon Of Phobos sounds like it was recorded in a rancid sewer (in the best possible sense of course!). You know the type, where rats and all manner of other ugly beasts reside.  After the initial ringing feedback, the walls of thick guitars greet you during Revelations of The Void. The drums keeping a low profile in the mix and the growls are low bellows. The doom elements within this first song add to the murky atmosphere that Icon of Phobos's black metal promises.

They properly hit their stride with Harbingers of Ruin. There's some brilliant lead work at the start that makes way for over six minutes of metallic, dissonant chaos. There's plenty of symphonic clout in Icon of Phobos's music and they are perfectly conformable switching tempos at short notice. The production of this record allows Icon of Phobos to sound free and very expressive. The metallic edge from the guitars comes across really well and the album isn't restricted by poor volume thanks to the good mixing/mastering job. The band may not like for saying this but they have a real rock n roll element to them, when they unleash those ace solos! 

The Shrouded Worm is my standout track on the record. It seem to gather up all the energy of the band and combine it with strong songwriting, to make the song an all round epic. I can't believe that I've missed out on these guys until now. They really standout and I know that may be a clich├ęd statement for a writer to make, but they really do! You just have to blast Analgesia to appreciate where I'm coming from with this. It's one of their more brief songs, if you discount the intro/outro songs, but it benefits from that more urgent pace.

Icon of Phobos are at their most brutal during Shape of Failure. I don't brutal in the death metal sense though, but they play fast and seem to take their volume up a notch of two. They're a pretty expansive band, thanks to their doom influence, but with this song they seem to abandon that and head for solace in the black metal netherworld. The guitar solo is also the most majestic on the album, which further builds their credentials and stellar musicians. Misogyny In The Flesh pretty much takes the same tone and proceeds to batter you. The fact though that Icon of Phobos don't take their music to the extreme, actually makes them sound heavier. It's with that restraint that they can channel their negativity and energy into making excellently atmospheric black metal that seeps quality. 

Closing with outro track Ecstasy In Death, Icon of Phobos close out what has been an awesome record. I may two years late to the party in terms of their debut, but my god, I'm pretty damn glad that Baneful Genesis bought it to my attention as it's rather splendid. I urge you to listen to it intently.
Listen here:-



You can buy this album on CD here - http://www.banefulgenesis.com/cds.html

Icon of Phobos Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/iconofphobos,

Legions of Astaroth - Rites of Somatic Death 



This review is somewhat posthumous, as Legions of Astaroth appear to either be in hiatus or have split-up. Either way, this record is still worthy of a review. Legions of Astaroth hailed from the US city of Atlanta, Georgia. They formed in 2003 before releasing their first demo in 2004. After a string of further demo's, EP's and a spit, they produced this, their debut full-length in 2009. Initially available on CD, Baneful Genesis released it on double LP in early 2011. Both the sumptous black vinyl and the swirling cover art that make up Rites of Somatic Death point to a mighty album.

Tracklist:-

1. Introduction    
2. Science Of Threefold Initiation
3. Wherein The Sacred Manifest
4. Born Of The Ascendant Flame
5. Nescience Conjoined To Self
6. Chaos From The Infernal Mouth (Breathes Life Thus Duality)
7. Discipline Regarding The Will To Conjure
8. The Temple Within (Becomes As Essence Without)
9. Forms Made Flesh
10. Ritual of Somatic Death
11. Cursed Unto An Ageless Dawn


It's seems very uncanny that as Rites of Somatic Death beings, the storm clouds roll in outside my window.  Legions of Astaroth begin with the obligatory dramatic intro song. Deep breathing, whispers and haunting noise spans just over two minutes. The intro doesn't flow straight into Science of Threefold Initiation, but that's not an issue, as the song itself is a headlong blast of screaming black metal. The guitars and drums are frenzied while the vocals feature that familiar high-pitched shriek/growl formation. Now, I said I was going to be listening to fast stuff this weekend and this is the perfect way to kick off!

The pace and momentum of the previous song is carried through to Wherein The Sacred Manifest. This time, Legions of Astaroth vary their tones with more metallic guitar and some mid-paced passages, which ramp up the musicality. There are slower, doomier influences within their songwriting as well, as demonstrated by the second half of the song, where they slow things down to a more atmospheric pace before raging again for the minute or so. It's these elements and textures that contribute to an all-round listening experience. As you'd expect, the shorter songs are the more furious songs. Born of The Ascendant Flame really hits the spot in terms of flailing black metal. The pace at which the drums are played at throughout its three and a half minute length, is pretty astounding and the continual wall of sound from the guitars refuses to let up. The gargling, shrieking screams finish the cacophony in fine style.

After that chaos, Nescience Conjoined To Self takes a step back with some slightly off-kilter, slower rhythms during the intro section. Later on the band mixes the slower guitar with more fast drumming, to create quite an ambient effect. That ambient element does remain during the rest of the song, but with more of a metallic nod. The doom-laden, grooving close to the song is perfect for highlighting their ability to weave other sub-genre ideas into their music. Their most expansive track is Chaos From The Infernal Mouth (Breathes Life Thus Duality) shows off the production. The record was mastered again by James Plotkin and it's got that air of quality too it. The song itself is crafted from multiple parts that are moulded together with ease, to create something beautifully listenable but chillingly cold.

By the time Legions of Astaroth reach the second half of Rites of Somatic Death, they've well and truly reached their stride. Discipline Regarding The Will To Conjure keep the previous songs atmospherics and places it into a shorter, more concise song. They fly through the song and plunge straight into The Temple Within..., which features some great technical drumming. I was full of expectation after listening to the Icon of Phobos record a couple of days again and I have to admit that I've not been disappointed by this either. The craft and guile that's gone into producing this record has definitely paid off. The closing trio of songs rage through to an inevitable end, the journey that's been Rites of Somatic Death leaves your pretty awestruck. I know it took Legions of Astaroth nearly four years to make this album, but it was well worth it. 

Forms Made Flesh and the title track are standouts for me. The fact that they follow each other is pure coincidence. I don't what it is that makes them standout, but as I mentioned earlier, it seems as though Legions of Astaroth have truly hit their stride. Their songwriting and the way they deliver their tracks are solid statements from a band that would have gone on to much higher things had they nit split up. With closing track Cursed Unto An Ageless Dawn finishing the album with a flourish of breakneck riffage and chaotic drumming, they end Rites of Somatic Death the same they started it. After the more introspective songs it followed, this song breathes final life into the band and the album. A fitting send off for a band cut short and one, which should still be around. Lets hope they read this and decide to re-ignite their unholy blackened sound. I for one would be more than excited!

Listen here:-



You can buy the album digitally or in LP format from the above bandcamp page.

You can also buy the LP here - http://www.banefulgenesis.com/vinyl.html

Legions of Astaroth Facenook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Legions-of-Astaroth

Pendulous - Mirrored Confessions


For my final review, I'm fastforwarding to now and the latest release from Baneful Genesis. The four track EP Mirrored Confessions by L.A. doom band Pendolous, has been released in digital format. Pendulous formed in mid-2011 and share members with label-mates Spiculum Iratus. In a short space of time, Pendulous have been fortunate enough to share stages with the likes of Mournful Congregation and Behold The Monolith, as well as others including Destroy Judas, Anhedonist and Aldebaran. With the release of Mirrord Confessions, Pendulous finally get the opportunity to commit their unearthly doom to a recorded medium to help spread the word.

Tracklist:-

1. Disheveled
2. Reflections
3. Seeds
4. Mislaid


Pendulous open with Disheveled, which is made up of a quiet spoken-word sample with brooding keys in the background. It flows straight into the clean guitar intro of Reflections, which is initially crushing with a huge, sloth-like doom passage coming out of nowhere. The clean, Candlemass-inspired vocals come as a surprise. The riffs are slow but feature plenty of underlying melody and the drums inject some great, off-kilter rhythms and fills into the mix. Those cleanly sung vocals are replaced by rasping growls at certain points, to remind you that this is still extreme metal you're listening too! As with the doom template, Pendulous play it slow but the lead guitar work brings style to the music.

After the expansive effects of Reflections, Pendulous show more ferocity with Seeds. This time, they rely on their heavier side at the start before quietening down and adding more progressive elements to their music. While Mirrored Confessions only hints at things to come from Pendulous, thanks to both Disheveled and Seeds being longer songs, they are able to explore and create incredibly music doom which is made all the better by great production. 

Mislaid finishes Mirrored Confessions with haunting bells and another spoken-word sample. You only get two full songs on it, but that’s all that’s needed to make you want more. Excellent work from Pendulous and hats off to Baneful Genesis for helping to get it out into people's ears.

Hear it here:-



Mirrored Confessions is available from the above page as a name-your-price download.

Pendulous Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pendulousdoom

Baneful Genesis Records also has a sizeable distro and will have some great releases coming soon, including two LP's featuring Hateful Abandon and a double LP from Belgian doomsters Monads.

Keep up to date with new via their website http://www.banefulgenesis.com/index.html and via their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baneful-Genesis-Records.

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