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Aryos “Les Stigmates d’Hécate”


THRASHOCORE (Fr.), webzine, 16 Mai 2015 :
Tiens, tu es là toi ? Tu as cliqué sur la chro d’ARYOS alors que tu n’en as jamais entendu parler !? Mais qu’est-ce que tu fais ici ? Qu’est-ce qui a bien pu te faire croire que tu allais trouver quelque chose d’intéressant chez ce groupe ? C’est la pochette qui t’a interpellé ? Elle est laide, hein… Mais elle t’attire quand même. Et bien tu sais quoi ? On va dire la même chose pour la musique de ce nouvel album : « c’est laid, mais c’est attirant ! ». Un peu comme quand tu as du mal à t’empêcher de coller tes chaussettes sales à ton nez pour t’assurer de leur puanteur pourtant certaines de loin déjà. Ah si, ARYOS c’est un peu ça quand même. Et c’est fait exprès d’ailleurs. C’est déjà le coup qu’il nous avait joué à ses débuts et surtout en 2004 avec son album Maître des dominations cérébrales. Un chef d’œuvre pour celui qui aime la musique non formatée. C’était un culte à la crasse célébré dans une église dévergondée. Et c’était tout aussi jouissif qu’un DEVILISH ERA. Mais ARYOS aime aussi brouiller les pistes et ne veut surtout pas se répéter, aussi quatre ans plus tard proposait-il un split partagé avec REGNANT AND THRALL à l’approche très différente. Dédiés à Lilith von Sirius, les deux morceaux étaient plus légers, plus propres, plus poétiques… beaux. Mais cela n’était qu’une parenthèse car le ARYOS incontrôlable est de retour, mais pas sur la même route, mais avec la même folie. La première minute fait ainsi très peur puisqu’elle nous fait croire que le groupe a tourné indus. Une minute qui nous donne des sueurs froides de peur de se retrouver avec un nouveau naufrage à la PRAEDA ou AD INFERNA. Mais très vite la crasse revient, le black metal dégoulinant réapparaît, mais en fait il suffit juste de frotter légèrement pour se rendre compte que sous les tâches se cachent de bien belles choses ! Cette fois-ci on découvre de nombreuses mélodies catchy, souvent inspirées du thrash ou du heavy. On garde alors vite en mémoire les riffs de « Arde Quariani Ecclesiam », morceau d’ouverture merveilleusement coupé par des vocaux féminins avant que les guitares thrash reviennent et que l’indus close l’ensemble. On aura ensuite tout autant de sympathie pour les riffs qui débutent le faussement nonchalant « Gromotivi znaci », puis pour le coup d’accélérateur et le retour de la demoiselle chanteuse sur « Les Stigmates d’Hécate », pour les soli déchirants à la fin de « Chthonienne totem », pour le délire cosmique à la BLESSED IN SIN sur la deuxième partie des « Six profanes ». Ces quelques exemples suffisent pour faire comprendre que les sept morceaux de l’opus sont particulièrement variés. Les idées sont là, le plaisir aussi. C’est raw et difficile d’accès d’apparence mais également mélodique, naviguant entre black, thrash et heavy… Mais s’il y a bien un reproche qui sera sûrement formulé par une grosse majorité d’entre vous, il concerne les vocaux, qui ont pourtant l’avantage de hurler en français. Très nasillards, très marqués, ils risquent de vous faire fuir. Ils font pourtant bel et bien partie de la personnalité du groupe, et un autre timbre aurait alors changé toute le personnalité du groupe. Par contre, la durée de l’album me pose un petit problème… 34 minutes, c’est trop court ! Surtout quand on ne sait pas combien de temps il faudra encore attendre pour une suite…
8/10 – Sakrifiss


POSTCHRIST (Fr.), webzine, 21 Mai 2015 :
Onze années se sont écoulées depuis le premier office longue durée des occultistes limousins, une décennie et des poussières qui n’ont fait qu’aiguiser l’appétit de la Bête ophidienne. Ornés d’œuvres graphiques du décidément très prolifique et talentueux Maxime Taccardi, Seth chapitres qu’on imagine volontiers composés à la seule lueur de bougies rituelles constituent l’ouvrage interdit, tout en riffs hypnotiques ronronnants, sous le feu lingual des litanies de l’Empereur Napharion, le tout ponctué, au premier et dernier chapitre, de touches électroniques du meilleur effet. Sculpté dans des mid-tempos suffoquants, aidés par une production compacte et terreuse aux basses riches, aéré seulement par quelques accélérations extatiques, Les Stigmates d’Hécate, dépouillé des excentricités clavieristiques d’Aliltéas Gornnec et donc des longs intermèdes qui leur étaient dédiés, prend la forme d’un bloc métallique solide en comparaison des précédents travaux d’ARYOS, permettant ainsi de se focaliser sur les riffs et structures rythmiques déroutantes du groupe. Certains passages rappellent d’ailleurs avec bonheur les deux premiers brûlots de SAMAEL dans leur superbe lourdeur et leur odeur persistante de soufre ! Les coutumières invocations de naïades plus que probablement fort court vêtues font évidemment leur apparition, aux côtés de soli et de leads orientalisant, comme un charmeur de serpent ayant troqué sa flûte pour une guitare électrique. Des adjonctions stéroïdées de Death Metal vieille école pointent leur nez angulaire dans l’hymne éponyme et “Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Litanie)” pour alourdir encore l’ensemble, que l’introduction pensive de “Silicate Aluminium, Beryllium Chrome” vient éclaircir comme un dernier rayon de soleil s’éclipsant enfin derrière les pyramides de Gizeh. “Les Six Profanes”, accrocheur en diable, vient enfoncer le clou avec son énergie Rock vicieuse et communicative, qui fait penser (involontairement sans le moindre doute) à certaines récentes propositions d’un PESTE NOIRE. En conclusion, Les Stigmates d’Hécate est un fameux tour de force que beaucoup de nos lecteurs les plus élitistes gagneraient à laisser polluer leurs canaux auditifs, les genoux enfouis dans le sable brûlant sous le regard noble et impénétrable de Melek-Taus…
5/6 – W.Whateley


LA HORDE NOIRE  (Fr.) webzine :
Il ne faut jamais juger un album sur la foi d’un visuel à priori peu engageant car grand est alors le risque de passer à côté de quelque chose de grand. Tel est ainsi le cas ces Stigmates d’Hécate dont l’écrin visuel ne doit absolument pas vous faire fuir. Ceux qui se souviennent, entre autres, de Maître des cérémonies cérébrales, offrande gravée il y a douze ans déjà, et auxquels cette modeste chronique s’adresse en premier lieu, savent de toute façon qu’Aryos, son géniteur, n’est pas tout à fait une entité comme les autres, laquelle mérite en cela qu’on s’arrête, plus que le temps d’une écoute distraite, dans sa caverneuse intimité. Car l’art noir que sculptent les Français à la lueur d’un pale éclairage ne s’offre pas dès la première caresse, ce qui explique peut-être pourquoi on lui prête cette maladroite étiquette d’avant-garde black metal, qui a au moins le mérite de souligner l’originalité sinon la singularité d’une musique qui grouille de kystes étranges. De patients préliminaires se révèlent nécessaires pour en goûter, en savourer le fruit, niché au plus profond d’une antre ténébreuse, suintant une trouble moiteur. Les stigmates d’Hécate écarte les cuisses, nimbées de curieuses effluves électroniques puis Arede Quariani Eccliasiamo sort brusquement les griffes, ouvrant alors les vannes d’une engeance noire (faussement) classique. Les changements de positions, des guitares vicieuses et les parcimonieuses mélopées d’une prêtresse au charme qu’on devine vénéneux, entraînent ensuite cette ouverture de Charybde en Scylla dans des contrées obscures. Riches de leurs nuances, les six chapitres qui suivent, baignent tous dans des relents d’interdit, ils exsudent une licence aussi tranchante qu’envoûtante. Une sensualité malsaine ourle des structures alambiquées, créant une oeuvre ambivalente, atmosphérique et évolutive tout ensemble. Labyrinthique, ce menu louvoie à travers un décor dépravé, que bordent des portes derrière lesquelles se cachent d’inavouées promesses. Silicate Aluminium Beryllium Chrome et ses courbes tordues, Ra-Hoor – Khuit (Litanie), saillie véloce emportée par un torrent menstruel, ou Chthonienne Totem, que cisaillent des riffs sournois aux allures de scalpel rouillé labourant dans la chair des stigmates, dressent un tableau versatile qu’achève en (sombre) beauté Les six profanes, apogée en forme d’orgasme lugubre teinté d’une electro mortuaire. Gemme d’une noire sensualité , écrin d’un black perverti, Les stigmates d’Hécate fait partie de ces oeuvres qui se dévoilent par petites touches, avec au bout, comme récompense, l’extase divine. Il est aussi de ces albums dont la confidentialité n’a d’égale que la réussite.
Childeric Thor – 7.5/10


L’ANTRE DES DAMNÉS (Fr.), fanzine #22 :
Ma toute première « aventure auditive » en compagnie d’Aryos, ce pur ovni musical en provenance de notre chère France, prit forme avec ce splendide EP qu’est Prophétie Acide, dont le morceau éponyme, surtout, m’avait littéralement scotché à l’époque (il y a maintenant près de quatre années)… Honte à moi de n’avoir daigné jeter une oreille à ce projet avant-gardiste auparavant, surtout lorsque l’on sait que la bande à Napharion inonde régulièrement la scène de ses productions, toutes plus éclectiques les unes que les autres, et ce, depuis maintenant plus de deux décennies… Quoique cette fois, on peut dire qu’il se sera fait attendre ce deuxième album longue durée – son prédécesseur ayant vu le jour courant 2004 (il y a une éternité, pour ainsi dire). Je disais « avant-gardiste », car en effet, pour situer les choses et présenter ce combo à ceux pour qui il n’évoquerait pas grand-chose, le terme convient parfaitement – Aryos évoluant dans une espèce d’imbroglio de métal extrême, avec malgré tout une identité forte et toujours perceptible. Ainsi, Arde Quariani Ecclesiam, le morceau d’ouverture de ces fameux Stigmates d’Hécate, plonge d’emblée l’auditeur non averti dans une ambiance électro (qui moi, m’a beaucoup plu) – sorte d’ailleurs de fil conducteur de ce prologue – pendant plus d’une minute, avant que ne retentissent les premières rythmiques folles (proprement schizophréniques, serait-je tenté de dire) d’un album qui leur fera la part belle. C’est également à ce moment-là que se fait entendre pour la première fois le chant hystérique et ultra criard de Napharion (probablement l’aspect que j’aurai eu le plus de mal à digérer dans l’art des Limousins), qui participe pour beaucoup, lui aussi, à la singularité d’Aryos. Ce titre arrivera finalement à son terme, ponctué par l’intervention de la douce et sensuelle voix de Mysterious Artemisia qui contribue au rétablissement de l’équilibre des pôles masculin/féminin, cher à la pratique magique… Je pourrais m’évertuer à passer en revue chacun des morceaux constituant Les Stigmates d’Hécate, car tous recèlent de qualités qui leur sont propres, mais ce type de démarche, stérile au final, n’apporte pas grand-chose (en plus de cela, la tâche se révèlerait ardue, tout étant singulier et original ici) ; d’autant que chaque pièce joue un rôle bien précis, celui d’une clé qui, présentée dans la serrure adéquate, permettra à son détenteur de sonder les mystères ésotériques contenus dans ce qui représente, pour moi, bien davantage qu’une simple œuvre musicale. Sachez cependant qu’Aryos prend un malin plaisir à brouiller les pistes, entre des influences tantôt purement black, tantôt orientées death (cf. les riffs au début de Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Litanie) par exemple) ou même des sonorités franchement plus modernes, et ne suit finalement que son instinct, ayant pris le parti de se moquer des modes et tendances. Comme Napharion se plait à qualifier son art, disons peut-être qu’Aryos est tout simplement devenu un groupe de rock occulte. Mais peu importe l’étiquette au final, le fait est que le groupe a réussi à concocter un album certes déstabilisant à la première écoute, mais qui prend, au fur et à mesure du temps, toute son ampleur. Et si, à titre personnel, je ne suis d’ordinaire pas spécialement client de ce type de musique, je dois dire que je me suis laissé embarqué sans résistance dans ce voyage initiatique…
Edler Rabe


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Markab Project / Dragon Rouge / Pandemonium “Magies Contemporaines et Autres Sorcelleries”


MITHRA! TEMPLEZINE, 4 Juillet 2017 :
Magies Contemporaines et autres sorcelleries réunit trois entités Markab project, dont nous avons déjà parlé, Dragon Rouge et Pandemonium sur une cassette qui est le fruit de la collaboration de trois labels underground. Avec ces trois projets nous sommes plongés dans une atmosphère sombre, mystique et occulte – et cela malgré leur variation stylistique. Markab Project ouvre le rituel et nous invite à une extatique danse avec une piste dans la lignée de ses autres productions. On retrouve cette electro tribale, minimaliste et particulièrement reconnaissable – ce qui est un bon point dans le sens où ce projet propose une formulation sonore qui fait preuve d’une forte identité. Si vous avez accroché aux précédentes sorties il n’y a pas de raison de ne pas être enchanté par Rituel de la Flamme (c’est le nom de la piste dont il est question). Puis, vient avec l’énigmatique et discret Dragon Rouge – si je ne me trompe pas, c’est ici la première fois que l’un de ses titres est porté sur un support – un moment plus propice à la méditation avec une longue plage dark ambient de bonne facture et immersive. Le dark ambient de ce projet est caractérisé par une dimension plutôt abstraite. Contrairement à de nombreuses formations du genre il ne verse pas pleinement dans une tension cinématographique. Pour le situer, on a plus l’impression d’être face à une approche conceptuelle, dans le sens où il met plus en scène une idée qu’une recherche narrative. Un bon équilibre est trouvé entre tendance noisy et pulsations éthériques. Ce split se termine par deux piste de Pandemonium – certainement le projet le plus sombre et le plus malsain des trois – qui est le fruit d’un des membres du groupe de black metal français Litanie, F. Desolation, aussi investi dans Désolation et Wintermoon. Trois titres sont proposés. Deux originaux, Beyond The Black Hole et Puzinac – certainement un clin d’œil à un titre de Litanie, Puzinac, havre de blasphèmes – et un remix de ce dernier par Markab Project. Beyond The Black Hole fait entendre une guitare comme élément structurant, une rythmique minimaliste, des hurlements connotés black/death informes et dégoulinants ; ils viennent ensevelir cette courte piste – qui est plus une introduction qu’autre chose – sous les décombres du bon goût. Et, résonne alors Puzinac qui est une piste véritablement possédée, avec une forte influence industrial, repliée sur elle-même elle semble œuvrer à nous enfermer dans la logique chaotique d’une âme envoûtée par une effroyable entité maléfique ; Puzinac suinte l’angoisse : un cauchemar dont vous ne reviendrez pas ! Elle est prolongée par son remix qui lui donne une coloration plus rythmique, plutôt martiale, avec des arrangements typiques de Markab project. Une cassette underground pour un public underground – ce qui n’est pas une critique selon moi. On regrettera que le collage de Philippe Pissier (traducteur de Magick d’Aleister Crowley) ne fusse pas mis en valeur au travers d’un volet dépliant, ou de tous autres procédés ayant permis une visibilité renforcée.


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Trepaneringsritualen “Deathward, To The Womb”


SIDE-LINE, May 8th 2017 :
Behind this obscure Swedish project is hiding Thomas Martin Ekelund (aka Th. Tot). Trepaneringsritualen became a renowned formation in the darkest corners of ritual- and death-industrial music. “Deathward To The Womb” was originally released in 2012; Release The Bats Records released the album as a 12” vinyl while Black Horizons and Merzbild released it as a cassette. Cold Spring now released the opus on CD format with an extra bonus cut. It is also available as a limited vinyl edition. Content: If you don’t already know this masterpiece of Trepaneringsritualen you’ll discover these ghost-like voices lost in haunted, obscure atmospheres, accomplished with numerous noises and ritual passages. The concept is mystic and ritual-like, which has been perfectly adapted into sound. The heavy sonic sweeps are like the sound of an imaginary, monstrous whip opening the gate to an unknown world. Dark electronic loops are often moving into pure ritual passages, sometimes joined by shouting vocals. Next to the 6 original tracks of the album we now get an extra track, which is an endless and varied piece featuring the unavoidable ritual parts next to vibrating throat chants and industrial drones.
Positive points : “Deathward To The Womb” remains one of the absolute masterpieces in the history of this band. It’s the perfect offspring between dark-ambient, ritual and death-industrial music. There’s a poignant progression in the songwriting, which reaches several climaxes like on the title-track and “She Is Flame Of Life”. The bonus cut “I Remember When I Was God” is also worthy of examination. This is one more deeply ritual cut that will hold you in its grip for more than 10 minutes.
Negative points : Trepaneringsritualen is a band you’d better avoid if you’re not familiar with extreme sonic creation. You either going to like it or not, there’s no in between!
Conclusion: Trepaneringsritualen is a band that gained a serious recognition in a rather short lapse of time. No doubt about it, the very own sound approach and explicit ritual character of the work both remain the main characteristics of this enigmatic artist.
Best songs: “Deathward To The Womb”, “I Remember When I Was God”, “She Is Flame Of Life”.
Rate: 8/10.
Inferno Sound Diaries


ONDAROCK (It.), February 11th 2017 :
Thomas Martin Ekelund con il suo progetto Trepaneringsritualen ha riportato il ritual industrial agli antichi fasti, fondendo suggestioni provenienti dai primi Current 93 e Coil al suono anni Novanta di Mz412 e Brighter Death Now. Vero erede del sound e, soprattutto, dello spirito iconoclasta che animava la leggendaria label svedese Cold Meat Industry, Ekelund (già attivo in passato come Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words, Nullvoid, Teeth e Th. Tot.) ha alzato il livello di una ricerca che oggi (ri)unisce con successo ambient post-black metal e grezze sonorità post-industriali di marca underground. La Cold Spring ristampa oggi in cd e in vinile a 180gm e in edizione limitata a 500 copie il primo vero disco a firma Trepaneringsritualen, “Deathward, To The Womb”, uscito in origine nel 2012 come 10” in 275 copie per Release The Bats Records. Per l’occasione troviamo anche una bonus track su cd (presente in download code per il vinile) di 12 minuti e 17 secondi, intitolata “I Remember When I Was God”, a firma “Teeraal Räum Pheynix”, uno dei tanti alias del Nostro. Il nome del progetto Trepaneringsritualen deriva dall’antica arte di trapanazione del cranio per scopi magici e religiosi e qui sicuramente siamo di fronte a un esordio da ascoltare con mente aperta. Anche qui, come del resto nella recente ristampa di Zos Kia/Coil realizzata dalla stessa Cold Spring, abbondano i riferimenti al culto di Thelema, sorta di pensiero magico/filosofico elaborato dall’occultista Aleister Crowley all’inizio del XX secolo. Il disco si apre citando un’evocazione a “Babalon” condotta da “Frater T.O.P.A.N” (nome dietro cui si nascondeva Jack Parsons), un confratello seguace di Thelema. Babalon è la “Grande Madre” che rappresenta l’impulso di fecondità. Attraverso la sua fiamma, essa è chiamata a bruciare e purificare tutta la creazione in vista dell’“Aeon Of Horus”, era di autorealizzazione e di ricerca spirituale sotto la vera volontà (“True Will”). La nascita di Babalon però non sarà preludio a un’era di amore e pace ma, all’opposto, farà precipitare il mondo in una sorta di violento cataclisma, un’apocalisse purificatrice manifestata attraverso l’immagine della “Black Flame”: “She is flame of life, power of darkness/ She destroys with a glance/ She may take thy soul. She feeds upon the death of men” per citare proprio il testo “The Babalon Working” scritto da Parsons. Tutto il disco di Ekelund è una sorta di session rituale che ha anche nella dimensione “live” la sua ragion d’essere. “Deathward, To The Womb” ruota attorno ai due opposti principi: la madre feconda e il principio distruttivo che sembra oggi prevalente. Musicalmente, tale dualismo si sbilancia verso il lato più noise e caotico, con un’attitudine “low-fi” che scaraventa l’ascoltatore in un black ambient nero come la pece (“Osiris, Slain & Risen”). Siamo immersi in un magma infernale in cui galleggiano scarti post-industrial alla S.P.K. (“She Is Flame of Life”) e in cui emerge, a tratti, l’inquietante voce, distorta e cavernosa, di Trepaneringsritualen, memore di tutta la tradizione metal black-death svedese e della sua ben riconosibile iconografia. “Deathward, To The Womb” è un lavoro “ritual” post-industrial aperto a contaminazioni post-black metal. Un ottimo esordio per un progetto che, pur fruibile a diversi livelli, non è mai sceso a compromessi e che dal 2012 non manca di dare positive conferme nelle prove successive, sia in studio, sia dal vivo.
7,5/10


MERCHANTS OF AIR, January 11th 2017 :
Fans of death industrial, power electronics and ritual noise will by now know the name Trepaneringsritualen. With sonic live rituals allover Europe this act has surely made a name for himself. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a more prolific and prominent act in this genre since the glorydays of Cold Meat Industry. Now, Cold Spring reissued Trepaneringsritualen’s long out of print debut album and added the long ritual work entitled “I Remember When I Was God” (included as download for the vinyl edition). What you can expect from this act, is pretty much similar to the stuff that acts like Brighter Death Now, Nicole 12 and Genocide Organ have been throwing in our faces. Harsh, rhythmic noise, with pissed off screams, loaded with misanthropy, agony and hopelessness. There is nothing pretty or beautiful about this whole thing but play it loud and before you know it, you’ll be in a spiteful trance, barking out your demons and cleansing yourself from those dark, haunting emotions. Obviously, this stuff is not suited for everyone. If you want music to be musical, you should step away from stuff like this before it obliterates your sanity. Yet, if you’re one of those freaks who like to dwell in the grittiest regions of the sonic underground, this thing will give you the nightmares you crave and thrive upon. ‘Deathward, To The Womb’ is simply a stunning piece of work, a haunting masterpiece of pure dark sentiment. This comes highly recommended for all the ritual noise folk out there. You know you want this…
​Serge



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Skullflower “The Spirals of Great Harm”


A CLOSER LISTEN, April 2th 2017 :
One of the commonplaces of noise is that of excess, and one of the paths such a concept opens up and which is not often explored is that of the wealth implied in an overabundance of sonic material. The Spirals of Great Harm, like the luscious Apollonian-occultist façade of its cover, invites the listener to explore its depths, where the coiled serpent marks the beginning of the abyss. Whether that abyss leads upwards or downwards depends on what you seek within the temple, and the mythical Egyptian symbolisms and track names connect with references to Dante’s Inferno (according, at least, to the press release) in a veritable excess of links that create a never-ending chain of signs open not only to interpretation but to mapping as well. After all, some spirals, by virtue of their luxury, are also labyrinths. The aural textures drawn by Skullflower into play emerge from a mixture of the chaos of feedback and walls of sound with the rhythmic regularity of drones, the guitar and electronics simultaneously duelling and complementing each other as the base of a distant, perpetual rumble as much as they constitute a musical element that molds the informal into shapes. Fulfilling two functions at once (as above, so below), these sounds come together not as one, but as multitudes, like the small visual details of the album cover that overwhelmingly assault the eyes. Their very opulence is disorienting, a senselessness born from sensory overload, a harm that leads not to numbness but to the sheer enjoyment of the many stimulations of perception. It is the mythological ambivalence of the snake: death cannot stop the affluence of life, but in rebirth there is nonetheless a kind of loss, the excess skin now shed becoming a petrified icon of another living moment. To listen to these drones and noise as they rise and fall (at an appropriately high volume, of course) is to let the ears get lost in their sonic coils, to pull the rest of the senses into a state where nothing else makes sense because there is just so much of it alive, so many intricate paths within the speaker-busting feedback that there is no need to do anything else, no need to keep this skin with which you’ve entered this labyrinth. Like many other noise artists, Skullflower also operates with an ironic sense of humor, an abyss that appropriately mocks the light, a laughter as harmful as looking right into the sun. There’s plenty of mythological parting points in the track names, but there’s no doubt it’s quite difficult to imagine the “Tangled Light of Isis”, or what “The Firebright and Linda Show” might have to do with an ascent/descent into hellish circles. Then there’s something like “Yuggoth Within”, a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos in which Yuggoth is a planet at the edge of the solar system populated by beings “from the ultimate voids”. It is, in a way, a black comedy: there are so many meanings that the exercise to pin down something other than nonsense is as humorous as the image of the skin once shed becoming animated, an empty simulacrum of life. And like all black humor, it ends with a subversive note: “Fuck the New Estate”, the last track, grows rich with estranged drones and an almost melodic (almost alive) line of sounds that inevitably lead to silence, to a dearth in sensory stimulation. At the other end of the spiral you find starvation, but it is needless, it is unjust, it is horror – assaulting the world in the name of multitudes of pleasure for the many is perhaps the only path left open in the wake of so much luxury undone by so few.
David Murrieta


NOISEY, March 15th 2017 :
Skullflower’s idea of music has always freaked me out and drawn me closer in near-equal measures. The first time I encountered it was in the mid-2000s, via a Crucial Blast promo CD, and I still remember how utterly perplexed I was to hear it. At that point, the closest thing I’d heard to full-on noise was Ildjarn, and even those primitive scrapings pale in intensity next to Skullflower’s full-on, warped noise assault. The band—which has mutated its membership over its nearly 30 years of existence but always been led by British musician Matthew Bower—pioneered the combination of heavy metal and harsh noise, using traditional “rock” instruments to hew their craft instead of the all-electronic output of their contemporaries in the industrial underground. Their early marriages of sludgy, doomy riffs with extreme distortion and feedback loops eventually gave way to a more purely noise-based sound (one whose hypnotic, aggressive tendencies find it rubbing elbows with raw black metal in more ways than one). Skullflower remains a towering giant of the global noise scene, and a new release from them is always cause for celebration. Their latest double album, The Spirals of Great Harm, came out on February 22, and we’re delighted to be streaming it below. We generally only stream new releases prior to their street dates, but for Skullflower, I couldn’t resist making an exception. (…)
Kim Kelly


AVANT MUSIC NEWS, February 28th 2017 :
UK’s Cold Spring Records puts out recordings of a wide variety of unsettling music: dark ambient, neo-folk, harsh noise, and experimental. Skullflower, which centers around Matthew Bower, fits the more extreme end of that spectrum. Bower has recorded under numerous monikers for over 30 years and this double-album reflects the confidence that comes with experience. The Spirals of Great Harm features traditional instrumentation, particularly guitars, rather than just electronics. But this might not be apparent initially. To that point, the album is a viscous, ever-shifting series of noise walls featuring long drones from distorted chording. Hidden in these walls are some subtleties that careful listening will pick out – a melody or two within the mass of sound. But Skullflower ultimately offers an overwhelming post-post-rock and post-industrial set, fitting for both foreground and background absorption. Comparisons to early 70’s Krautrock are not out of order here, though without the rhythmic emphasis. A welcome slab of dissonant, twisted darkness from an early purveyor of the same.


COMPULSION ONLINE, 2017 :
There’s no holding back Skullflower at the moment. Aside from numerous digital and short-run releases emanating from their Bandcamp page, the release of The Spirals Of Great Harm coincides with the release of The Black Iron That Has Fell From The Stars, To Dwell Within a vinyl release on Nashazphone. The Spirals Of Great Harm on Cold Spring follows Draconis another expansive 2 CD affair from Skullflower. The Spirals Of Great Harm references Dante’s Inferno but really it is just another piece in the mythological and cosmological jigsaw put together by Matthew Bower and Samantha Davies as Skullflower. It is a personal and idiosyncratic rendering of Egyptian Mythology and its Gods, wrapped up in the English occult tradition forged by Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Grant and Austin Osman Spare amongst others.You almost feel sucked into The Spirals Of Great Harm on the opener ‘Khepsh’, as it descends with what sounds like a hydraulic hum, burrowing deeper with bursts of airy droning guitars before they’re fired up and let loose with a bomber squadron buzz. ‘Furthur’ crafts a sound of black psychedelia from its interweaving twin guitar assault riddled with moog oscillations. Sometimes Skullflower get referred to as a noise band but they’re not really. It’s certainly been an aspect of the group in times past but it’s not the central one now. The discordant atmospherics that surround ‘Tangled Light Of Isis’ take the form of a loose improvisation where detuned guitars are cast against a distant roar. The shape shifting electronic frequencies that bobble up throughout this one recall Bower’s earlier solo project Total and even some of the earlier electronics from Broken Flag days. It’s not noise though. With a title summoning demons, ‘Furfur’ is archetypal Skullflower; a rush of squalling circular riffing over caustic drone laced with added analogue oscillations. So too is ‘Thunder Dragon’ but while ‘Furfur’ is the shortest track here the expansive ‘Thunder Dragon’ which rates as the longest track on the first disc, is an altogether different beast. Here wild majestic guitar strokes waver over buzzing discord and droning textures. Its flight remains anchored, the twin arcs of distortion rooted but unhindered casting layer upon layer of saturated glistening creating a meditational almost devotional air. Immense and rooted it conversely goes places like the best Skullflower music, if you only go with it. ‘Thunder Dragon’ is a key piece on The Spirals Of Great Harm and its worth succumbing to its languid beauty allowing its layers of unfettered guitar squall to wash over you. The final two tracks are notable for the inclusion of chiming organ. Shrouded in stretched drone and buzz guitar that grand organ chime on ‘Nectar And Venom’ is pitched somewhere between haunted carousel swirl and a ritual death march. I’m reminded of Ela Orleans’ Circles of Upper and Lower Hell another album that looked to Dante’s Inferno for inspiration. Where Ela used Dante to represent desolation and depression, the hell of Inferno for Skullflower acts more as a metaphor for a lost Englishness. Like much of the rest of the UK it’s a populace lost in consumerism and credit and a celebrity seeking brashness. You can hear it too in ‘Fuck The New Estate’ which I don’t think is a comment on new council housing either. Here the two pronged assault of guitars jostle with airy organ chords, shifting into a blurred haze before bowing out in a mass of flickering frequencies and tones. In comparison, the second disc pitches a different Skullflower sound. This time obfuscation and obscurity seems to be the key. Each song seems distant, set behind a gaudy veneer conjuring inchoate melodies from the air. ‘Rotting Jewelled Stormclouds’ is a distant battle hymn beamed in from centuries past. Listen close and you can pick out bustling voices and the disembodied strains of a fanfare. Carthage was a city that figured in Dante’s Inferno but made famous by the Roman statesman Cato who finished all speeches no matter the subject or intent with the immortal line of the title. But that’s beside the point, as ‘And Carthage Must Be Destroyed’ is another hazy, obscured recording where I’m sure I can hear piano and the tinkling of bells and chimes cast against the saturated guitar drone atmospherics. Whether these phantom sounds really exist remains to be seen but it’s something Skullflower have been doing for a while; both Draconis and Fucked On A Pile of Corpses also made manifest these hallucinatory instruments within the amorphous swells of Skullflower’s guitars. At times, like the Ouroboros serpent, The Spirals Of Great Harm even references itself. ‘The Firebright And Linda Show’ is a blackened hymn; a devotional dirge suspended in arcing billows of interweaving guitars over grand keening electronics which shares an affinity with the earlier meditational ‘Thunder Dragon’. ‘Khephra’ – which takes its title from an Egyptian God – offers a harsher take on the opener ‘Khepsh’ allowing the heavy buzz of guitars to take a more prominent role over the subtle drones. Interestingly ‘Khepsh’ is derived from Egyptian mythology too, which fits nicely with the other new Skullflower release The Black Iron That Has Fell From The Stars, To Dwell Within released on the Cairo based label Nashazphone which is the first in their ‘The Darkness of Aegypt’ trilogy. On ‘Ice Nine’ heavy keyboard stabs pound behind a veneer of searing high-pitched guitar frequencies. And behind that lies swirling electronic oscillations. The instruments caught up in a battle for supremacy. The Spirals Of Great Harm closes with the H.P. Lovecraft inspired titled track ‘Yuggoth Within’. A dank and dark textured offering of circular riffing laying markers as a means to escape the stifling homogeneity, fraud and deception that blights much of today. On The Spirals Of Great Harm Skullflower continue to expound on the magic, mystery, mythology found within and outside in the rolling hills, lakes and countryside of Cumbria where the members of Skullflower reside. On The Spirals Of Great Harm Skullflower’s blackened squall is adorned with an intricacy and subtlety that makes the descent into the abyss both alluring and powerful.


THE NOISE BENEATH THE SNOW, 19th February 2017 :
The Spirals of Great Harm is the latest offering from Skullflower, a band that has had their foot well-planted in the underground noise/industrial scenes since the 1980s with a rich discography since 1988. Track 1, “Khepsh,” starts the album off with a solid black noise ambient backdrop and a repeated ulta-high pitch noise. Right away, you notice that this could be one of those recordings that is not only deep conceptually but that the sounds may actually change the chemistry of your brain…. Recordings like this really can most effectively be appreciated while listening through ear phones. With some noise records it’s relatively easy to catch some of the dynamics in the mix (i.e. highs & lows, analog & digital..whatever). This album is much more in depth. The thing that should be appreciated about the mix is that it is done in such a manner that keeps the listener wandering what sounds or samples are buried beneath the surface. From Cold Spring, “The new sprawling double disc from black noise classicists Skullflower referencing Inferno 17, Dante and Virgil’s spiraling descent into the abyss on demon Geryon.” The guy serving as the foundation for Skullflower is Matthew Bower along with Lee Stokoe and Samantha Davies. Moreover, members of Whitehouse, Coil and Ramleh have been known to contribute. If a descent is what Skullflower was making an effort to illustrate here, I think that they have done just that pretty effectively. There was obviously much more effort put into this work both conceptually and musically. It’s not easy to paint a picture with sound especially when trying to put a soundtrack to an iconic story like inferno. Track 5, “Tangled light of Isis” sounds like it takes the listener to the bottom of the pit; a pit where a demented harsh industrial atmosphere or a phantom factory is at work. Just when you thought you couldn’t go lower, track 4, “Furfur” takes you even further into the subterranean. We could go on and on… However, the point is this: The Spirals of Great Harm is perhaps a purposely unsettling recording but pulls the listener into it with a barrage of sounds (maybe some intentional and some not) including some easy to hear and some maybe intentionally mixed in so as to not be so easy to hear. Some noise or “black ambient” artists say that conceptually an album is inspired by a subject. However, The Spirals of Great Harm actually not only serves as an effective soundtrack to the descent, but pulls the listener in and takes them along for the trip.


HEATHEN HARVEST, April 24th 2017 :
Matthew Bower’s Skullflower have been around a fair few decades having formed in 1987, and in that time they’ve never lost the ability to menace the sensibilities of those who prefer the noisier end of the industrial spectrum. And if ever there was ever a need to prove that noise isn’t just noise for its own sake, then Skullflower is that outfit. Here we have a two-disc set of drone/orchestral/dark industrial/occult noise tapestries by these consummate wranglers of harsh gratings, insistent buzzing, stifling fuzziness, and high-pitched overtones. Having described it thus, it’s less confrontational and much less bombastic than much of Skullflower’s previous output, but this doesn’t mean it’s lighter in any way; if anything, it has the opposite effect. These tracks can be thought of as sketches—glimpses of other realities and states of mind, or dispatches from the front lines of some otherworldly warzone. Indeed, one can sense that something numinous, almost divine, exists behind the apparent limits of reality, but simultaneously it isn’t necessarily an untainted divinity. Degradation and decay weave their filthy tendrils through each of these monster compositions. Highlights include ‘Yuggoth from Within’, describing to perfection that feeling mentioned above. A bright refrain clashing with a grainy blanket of distortion, fighting to be heard above the miasma. In a sense, it’s telling us we’re drowning and that we’re slowly being subsumed by a nightmare beyond our understanding. Eventually the refrain disappears altogether and we’re left with nothing but the endless void. ‘Fuck the New Estate’, the final track on the first disc, ‘Hell’, isn’t a pit of fire; it’s a world in deep-freeze, where only bitingly cold winds blow and the ghosts of those once living wander aimlessly looking for a warmth that’s long since died. There’s no hope here, that particular intangible quality having abandoned us when we weren’t looking. ‘And Carthage Must be Destroyed’ is all massed fury, an endpoint of history perhaps. Saw-like waves of bitter sharpness cut an unstoppable swath, buzzing loudly and uncompromisingly, decimating all before it. ‘Ice Nine’ borders on the tuneful, the whipping and chopping of rotor blades hovering over a sonorous backdrop of bass piano chords and axle grinders. It’s teeth-grindingly menacing, all jagged edges and ripped flesh. If nothing else, the pieces presented to us on The Spirals of Great Harm leaves one’s brain blasted of thought and almost brings one to the brink of an elevated consciousness. It’s just like the afterimage left on the retina subsequent to being exposed to a bright light, but in this case, it pulls one out of the everyday and into an alternate reality/state that paradoxically leaves one feeling cleansed. What we witness on a daily basis isn’t the ultimate truth, and this is what The Spirals of Great Harm appears to be saying. Despite Skullflower’s modus operandi, they’re in effect offering us a series of short essays on what it’s like to strip away the gloss and pretense. In fact, I found it incredibly meditative and, bizarrely, uplifting. This, to me, is the true power of pure noise.



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Colossloth “Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth”


BRUTAL RESONANCE, January 19th 2016 :
If we are to speak of Britain’s drone and dark ambient scenes, Colossloth should not be a name that goes unmentioned. This solo project has been around for ten years, The Leicester project has been around since 2006 crafting uncanny experimental drone artpieces since his inauguration to the scene. Since then, he has garnered both praise and, I assume while I say this, more than a few curious eyebrows who either find what he is doing is special or completely bonkers. I consider myself one of the few who both realize the ripe traits he showcases while maintaining a morbid fascination with his odd sounds. The end of 2015 saw the release of a new beast from Colossloth titled “Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth”, a nine track album which boasts a comprehensive library of various articles of noise. Colossloth is able to maintain his own identity in the experimental locale thanks to his stunning backdrops and focus on analog-like sounds from another era. ‘The Flavour Of The Weak’ would have you think that it might just be another drone track in the vastness of all other things drone and boring. However, once you get to the noise distortion and what sounds like the utter destruction of tape, you will be corrected almost immediately. ‘Your Flag Stands For Nothing’ shoots between hard blasts of noise and backwards synth loops. The end result is an ugly beauty. ‘Cave In We Are Complete’ follows a song structure that was built upon in the last two tracks; a simple drone sound starts us off, but slowly Colossloth drives us down a lane of haunting atmospheres and notes played backward. Some might call this a nightmare but I do not blame them. This is a soundtrack to someone’s worst fears; they just don’t know it yet. The title track of the album shows an advanced understanding for static noise, and the mid-section of the track showcases the first semblance of rhythm in the album. What sounds like an industrial song trying to come out is cut short and brought back into Colossloth’s filthy, unending grasp. ‘The World Keeps Turning (On Me)’ is the first track on the album that is slightly more peaceful than the rest. A screeching noise disrupts any full sense of mind you might think you will get, but it is nonetheless a calmer break in the album. A sick industrial mess is located within ‘Of Talons And Teeth’; ADHD is at play as the song goes from one sound to the next, never sticking to a pattern. I came across the only song I wasn’t all too partial to on the album, and that would be ‘Paint Her Face To Simulate The Bloom’. I did appreciate a section that had piano running through it as other, various psychotic sounds overlapped it, but that’s about it. This song actually did not sit well with my ears, and as experimental as experimental can be, this just was a headache. Some may like that, though, as masochistic as some can be. I, however, prefer my punishments physically on the body, not aurally. Relatively the same thoughts erupted with ‘The Nameless Saint’. I absolutely indulged in the first half of the song as blasts of noise controlled the otherwise peaceful piano vibes that rolled through the track. However, the second half without piano guiding it did not speak to me well. The final song on the album, ‘Black Deeds From Dead Seeds’, was a play with minimal works to tape distortion and very light synths. Not for the light hearted, this final ode to experimentation was rather enjoyable. Colossloth is tackling a very niche audience with his latest album, but that is quite alright. He will find his music’s place one way or the other. There are a lot of times when I hear that some people just don’t quite “get” music like this. But, there is nothing to get. You either like the sound you’re hearing or you don’t. For me, noise like this – experimental sounds that never cease to twist and bend every corner you stroll down – has a meditative quality to it when played at a low to mid-level, and that’s exactly how I prefer it. “Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth” is a grueling test of self through industrial menaces and noise experimentation.
7/10 – Steven Gullotta


BOTH BARS ON, March 30th 2016 :
So you go to a pub in another city and drink. Complete strangers (a couple) join you at the table. You somehow get chatting (band T-shirts = the ultimate ice-breaker). The conversation turns (inevitably in my world) to music. “What sort of stuff you into?” the gentleman asks. “Oh, sort of electronic, noisy, rocky stuff”, I respond. “Such as?” [Thinks of best way in]. ”Umm, Teeth of the Sea?” “Oh, I’ve supported them.” “GNOD?” “Yep. Supported them as well”. Enter Colossloth. A bloke I met in the pub in Birmingham. Who gave me a CD of his latest offerings. Was this chance meeting meant to be? Such musings are beyond our remit. Outstretch Your Hand for the Impress of Truth has blown me away. Opener ‘The Flavour of the Weak’ has it all: menaced drones, shards of sharpened static, treated guitar, face-disfiguring crunching oscillators. ‘Your Flag Stands for Nothing’ is a sonic pummelling that sees a jack hammer bass obliterating idiotic nationalism, both overt and banal, whilst knives sharpen and cut away at apparent ‘stirring’ patriotic orchestrals. What engorges the soul here is the plethora of questions that arise as you experience the assembled noises: where did that sound came from? What was its original form? What variety of torture has been performed upon it? What Hammond Organ was cruelly, yet brilliantly, maimed to make the inserts on the album’s title track? Is this the recollection of a significantly bad day in Blackpool? The disturbing undertow to ‘The World Keeps Turning (On Me)’ could well be a voice detuned and stretched to intimidating proportions. The riff on ‘Of Talons and Teeth’ is incredible in its visceral abrasions. The circular feedback on ‘Paint Her Face to Simulate the Bloom’ is pure pleasure and the most sublime pain. ‘The Nameless Saint’ stands out with its devastatingly heart-wrenched piano and high frequency whines. It’s the closest thing to soundtracking death’s inevitability that I have heard for a long while. Both terror and redemption are here. This is superb uneasy listening in the vein of Haxan Cloak, a more considered Merzbow perhaps, with echoes of Fennesz.
Angrybonbon


SIDE-LINE, March 16th 2016 :
Cold Spring Records has signed this Leicester based solo-project set up by Wooly Woolaston. A few earlier productions were already released, but I can imagine joining the prestigious Cold Spring roster will a serious step forward for Colossloth. The sound of Colossloth is not that easy to define. The work clearly sounds inspired by heavy industrial blasts mixed with experimentalism and abstract-music passages. The sound is a kind of sterile space filled with numerous and diversified noises. It sounds like the mix between sampled noise sources and eventually field recordings. The collection of noises to create new inputs appears to be one of the main preoccupations, which resulted in a rather diverse work. Nothing is weird enough to experiment with sounds. From guitar to classic piano passages and from a few lost spoken words to iron noises this album is an impressive platform of sonic jewelry, which always joins an ultimate dark atmosphere throughout the entire album with its dense and obscure texture.
Positive points : Colossloth avoids any kind of established stereotypes while using familiar elements from industrial-, ambient- and experimental music.
Negative points : I’m missing a real apotheosis on this album.
Conclusion: This album feels like you are listening to a sonic catalogue of different, but related music genres, which will appeal for lovers of industrial and experimental music.
Best songs: “The Flavour Of the Weak”, “The Nameless Saint”.
Rate: 6,5/10
Inferno Sound Diaries


INTRAVENOUS MAGAZINE, February 17th 2016 :
Leicester’s Colossloth has for ten years been creating some of the most interesting experimental and ambient music in the country. Mixing drone, ambient, noise and proto-industrial nuances this solo project has consistently produced unique sonic craftsmanship. The harsh and unusual noises, and abstract rhythmic modes are often juxtaposed against unfathomably cinematic textures and the result is an evolving an meditative experience that despite the often dissonant qualities is quite hypnotic. The solo project’s newest offering on Cold Spring Records ‘Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth’ is no exception. Tracks such as ‘The Flavour Of The Weak’, ‘Cave In We Are Complete’, ‘Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth’ , ‘The World Keeps Turning (On Me)’ and ‘Of Talons And Teeth’ utilise subtle yet cavernous drones before punctuating them with hard and discordant noises. While the likes of ‘Your Flag Stands For Nothing’, ‘Paint Her Face to Simulate The Bloom’, and ‘The Nameless Saint’ experiment with abstract rhythmic constructions and even simple but haunting piano melodies amidst the din to build a varied display of affecting noise. With the artist rooted in experimental and noise music you’d be forgiven for dismissing the production side of things and thinking everything is drenched in distortion and sounded like it was recorded in a tin bathtub. But it isn’t. The ambient side of the album informs the production which is in-turn cavernous and almost cinematic in its execution which gives the tracks clarity and grandeur. For fans of experimental music Colossloth are a shining light and ‘Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth’ is a great example of how to make high-quality experimental music that can play with genres and still doesn’t rehash what has come before. It is a strong album and although it’s audience won’t be huge, it will nevertheless find favour with fans of experimental music.
Sean Palfrey



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Tunnels of Āh “Surgical Fires”


COMPULSION ONLINE, 2016 :
Right from its unsettling introduction Surgical Fires, the third album from Tunnels of Āh, follows a much harsher course than is found on their previous albums Lost Corridors and Thus Avici. Lost Corridors was a psychogeographical musing on tunnels and structures while Thus Avici meditated on the new dark age. Like the preceding albums, Surgical Fires is naturally informed by Stephen Āh Burroughs’ studies and practice of Buddhism and his abiding interest in the esoteric. Buddhist texts appear woven into the fabric of Surgical Fires but their hushed delivery amidst the noise textures makes them hard to decipher. One track features Anji Cheung, a London based sound artist. She’s a natural fit as Cheung, like Burroughs, in her own work sculpts unearthly drones and bleak atmospherics and shares an interest in the occult and Buddhism. Cheung provides vocals to one track, on an album that seems more instrumental than previous releases. The assemblage of percussive elements and electronic noise places Surgical Fires in the lineage of industrial music, a sound that has fired Stephen Āh Burroughs since the early eighties. It is by far the harshest of the three Tunnels of Āh albums which might not be surprising since it seems to be concerned with psychic attacks. I’d hazard a guess that the work of Dion Fortune and particularly her anecdotal study Psychic Self-Defence plays a role on Surgical Fires. Surgical Fires best fits Tunnels of Āh intent: This is psychick war. Surgical Fires open to the processed industrial clank and clatter of ‘Demonic Forms’. From the series of pummels, scrapes and scratchings underneath an electronic roar, rises, let loose like a rampaging surge of insectoid chattering. The relentless onslaught is like an audio take on the occasional episodes I experience when my head is subject to careering thoughts rendering me unable to focus on anything specific. Mines may be the result of constant tiredness but Surgical Fires is dealing with psychic attacks. Keening metal and oblique wordless chants only add to the confusion created by this ugly spirit, and then there is the added whirr of a drill. This is the sound of trepanation, a bore hole driven into the skull to relieve the pressure. And at the hands of Tunnels of Āh it also acts as a portal into the mind. The following track ‘Purging Process’ harnesses electronic noise textures with a hazy mishmash of discordant frequencies and buzzing electronics as it battles with the hungry ghosts. Set against this are elements of ritual clang and what may be discordant guitar howls. Is it? I can’t be sure, as I don’t think guitars have featured on any of the prior Tunnels of Āh albums but it’s not out of the question as remember Stephen Āh Burroughs was once part of the noise rock outfit Head of David. Burroughs voice appears on ‘One Hundred Gates + Eight’, another title illustrating the influence of Buddhist text on his work. Reduced to a spoken whisper over layers of ominous eviscerating drone. His words cloaked in buzzing drone seem to be a homage to and about the protective nature of the Buddhists and the sacred words of the Dharmas. Buddhism may imply a sense of stillness but Tunnels of Āh fill their tracks with unsettling drones, glistening tones and morphing sound shudders. ‘Mind As Corpse Bearer’ is riddled with some seriously effective rippling tones, as a constant cranking see-saw sound runs throughout the static etched drone. No space or light manages to pierce ‘Release Of The Burning Mouths’; an impressively oppressive onslaught featuring layers of deep airy droning and textured shifting layers. The title takes its name from a Chinese Buddhist ritual where the denizens of hell and hungry ghosts are invited to feast and hear the Dharma preach before being sent away. Voices take the form of bestial growls along with the breathy exhalations of Burroughs; a hushed sinister uttering cast against an evocative maelstrom of sound layers and fierce noise effects. The following ‘Black Air (Exhale)’ is a more textural working filled with coruscating electronics, hollow ratcheting and jarring frequencies. Just by chance, a few weeks earlier I became aware of the work of Anji Cheung who provides vocals on ‘My Love To The Lordly Cobras’ on a split single with the revitalised Terminal Cheesecake. Here her soft whispered tones are subject to split-channel processing, as she recites a Buddhist protection ritual over low stuttering electronic drones which swell from underneath amidst sound shimmers and flashes, before reprising the text accompanied by chants. Surgical Fires closes on ‘Emission Through A Hole In The Head’ which wades through crunching textures (the beginning kinda reminds me of a slowed down take of Throbbing Gristle’s ‘What A Day’) before it morphs into more nebulous territory. Burroughs intones words performed as a looped chant, as melodic chime wafts over the crunchy textured backdrop. The collusion of sounds is quite unsettling, coalescing into a noise drenched climax before its deep drone exit. I’m always taken by the sounds and direction Stephen Āh Burroughs follows. Tunnels of Āh may fit into a lineage of esoteric and occultic music but Stephen Āh Burroughs is on a path of his own making. And while the meaning and intent may be hard to excavate – I really wish he’d provide details of the key references – amidst the noise drone and textures it’s certainly worth going along for the ride. Surgical Fires is another great singular release from the restless, unsettling mind of Tunnels of Āh.


RABEN REPORT, November 7th 2016 :
2013 in Birmingham gegründet, so ist Tunnels Of Ah ein noch recht junges Projekt, ist aber dafür auch recht aktiv, was den Zeitplan von Veröffentlichungen betrifft. “Surgical Fires” lautet der Titel des neuen Werkes, welches mittels “Demonic Forms” eine verstörende Einleitung erfährt und ehe man sich versieht, ist man in einem Strudel aus unruhig brodelnden Frequenzen gelandet. Der Lärmpegel steigt im folgenden Stück noch etwas an, ehe man mit geheimnisvollem Flüstern bei “One Hundred Gates + Eight” aufwartet. Je nach Tagesform kann man von Tunnels Of Ah halten was man will, aber von reinem Krach sollte keinesfalls die Rede sein. Vielmehr schafft es der Protagonist überaus interessante Facetten aufzuwerfen, welche vorliegender Publikation diesbezüglich einen Pluspunkt verschaffen und das Teil recht variabel klingen lässt. Dennoch wird keinesfalls leichte Kost serviert, denn “Surgical Fires” hat fraglos einen harschen Fundus, weshalb man damit wohl auch am ehesten Hörer von Industrial ansprechen dürfte. Spätestens mit “Black Air (Exhale)” trennt sich die Spreu vom Weizen und ein stabiles Korsett ist in dieser Angelegenheit durchaus ratsam. Ebenso sollte man Zeit mitbringen, denn am Stück lässt sich das Album nur schwer erfassen, da vielzählige Elemente und Schichten erst abgegraben werden wollen, ehe das Ding so richtig funzt. “Surgical Fires” ist keine Kost für den alltäglichen Konsum, sondern eben ehr etwas für starke Momente. Wer gerne mal eine harsche Portion Industrial schnappert, der sollte hier mal reinhorchen, der Rest dürfte sich nur schwer an diese kräftige Hausmannskost gewöhnen.
Artwork 6/10 – Atmosphere 8/10 – Total: 7/10


SIDE-LINE, February 26th 2017 :
In a previous life Stephen Reuben Burroughs got involved in Head Of David. Today he has found a new sonic canvas called Tunnels Of Ǡh to exorcise his music ideas. “Surgical Fires” is the third album by this music veteran. Content: “Surgical Fires” takes off with noise-driven loops and that’s an essential element running throughout the entire production. Burroughs creates a kind of horror-soundscape accentuated by tormenting sound manipulations. From boiling noises and buzzing sound waves plus ghost-like whispers he creates a hostile atmosphere appealing your imagination to create dark and tortured visions. That’s precisely what the title of this album is referring to: ‘a kind of psychic surgery’ probably to calm down the terror like visions this music is spontaneously appealing for.
Positive points : Tunnels Of Ǡh is a band, which is hard to define as one particular music style. It rather sounds as a synopsis of multiple, dark influences finally resulting in a personal dark music creation. This is a sound, which can’t leave you unaffected; it’s too freaky to leave you unmoved and that’s precisely the main strength of this work. I like the progression from rather noise-like opening cuts towards more ambient-driven cuts with solid sound treatments awakening your most secret and perverted fantasies. So in the end I would say that the ambient side of “Surgical Fires” is definitely hard-hitting.
Negative points : “Surgical Fires” is the kind of work, which will be not accessible for a wider audience. That’s what all kind of underground music has to endure isn’t it? You don’t hear me to complain although the very first cuts left aren’t the most convincing ones.
Conclusion: “Surgical Fires” is the work of an alien or simply an artist finding an outlet for his most perverted music ideas. But no doubt about it, this is an artist who already has found disciples who will be ravished discovering this new creation of their Master.
Best songs: “One Hundred Gates + Eight”, “Black Air (Exhale)”, “Mind As Corpse Bearer”.
Rate: 7/10.


CHAIN D.L.K., February 5th 2017 :
According to the liner notes, the title of this release, “Surgical Fires”, alludes to psychic surgery and, so, it probably marks a reference to the first days of industrial where a theme as mind control was central but this album doesn’t present any explicit message but instead tries to build an atmosphere of conflict and inconvenience from the beginning to the end. The mechanical sound of “Demonic Forms” opens this release and introduces the listener towards a relatively canonical industrial sound which evolves in a noise crescendo in the second part of the track. The development of “Purging Process” is almost meditative even if using noisy sources while “One Hundred Gates + Eight” is even more subtle in his construction with the juxtaposition of voices above a deep drone and sparse samples. The contrast between ambient and noise is further developed in “Mind As Corpse Bearer” and “Release Of The Burning Mouths” where the second element is never able to overwhelm the first while in the foreground of the central part of the track. “Black Air (Exhale)” is a return to the abrasive framework of the first track while “My Love To The Lordly Cobras” which features the vocal contribution of Soror Anji Cheung skims the territories of certain ritual music but without the hypnotic effect. “Emission Through A Hole In The Head” closes this release starting as noise track and evolving into a sort of song when the voice seems to start chanting accompanying the development of the noise towards a resonance. This new release by Stephen Ah Burroughs marks a development towards a personal and crafted sound even in a codified tradition so it’s something that could well fit the taste of fans of old school industrial but also fans of more modern approaches. It’s worth a listen.
3,5/5 – Andrea Piran



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Dave Ball • Jon Savage “Photosynthesis”


AVANT MUSIC NEWS, September 3rd 2016 :
What we have here is a combination of 70’s and 80’s synth-heavy electronic music, the 90’s colder, sparser ambient, as well as field recordings. The amalgam thereof is a distinctive and compelling sound – retro without being derivative, modern without feeling unfamiliar. Dave Ball founded the pop band Soft Cell in 1979. On Photosynthesis, he teams with electronic musician Jon Savage for eight tracks that form an hour-long suite. Apropos to its title, the album brims with organic textures, perhaps due to use of analog instrumentation. As stated in the liner notes, “[s]itting in the garden surrounded by trees and plants on a sunny day, the idea of organisms using sunlight to synthesise nutrients from CO2 and water became an inspiration to us. This idea, juxtaposed with mankind’s destruction of the planet through pollution and war gave us the inspiration to compose this soundscape.” The putative centerpiece of the album, a sixteen-minute track titled One Night in Helmand Province, covers both these yin and yang aspects. Sequencers provide sweeps, percolations, and effects, while the rhythm is driven by dark, shifting drones. Unintelligible voices fade in and out of the foreground, as do washes laden with static. Both beautiful and menacing in tone, Photosynthesis, stakes its claim as an original work in a crowded field.


COMPULSION ONLINE, 2016 :
Intriguing collaboration this. Dave Ball was of course one-half of sleazy electro-pop duo Soft Cell and latterly performed with Richard Norris in the electronic group The Grid. On Photosynthesis he teams up with Jon Savage, no not the author. Jon Savage is responsible for the Roland Fantom X6 synths, East West keyboards, Cubase programming and digital recording here, while Dave Ball lists the Mini Moog, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 and other analogue instruments and pedals as his equipment of choice for Photosynthesis. Dave Ball gave a clue to how Photosynthesis might sound in a recent interview when asked by The Electricity Club as to what floats his boat musically these days, he responded “Messing about with modular synths”. Photosynthesis picks up on this updating synthesizer music from the seventies and eighties using modern recording technologies. I’m really impressed by the sound the duo create here. There’s a concept behind Photosynthesis too. As they told Cold Spring, “Sitting in the garden surrounded by trees and plants on a sunny day, the idea of organisms using sunlight to synthesise nutrients from CO2 and water became an inspiration to us. This idea, juxtaposed with mankind’s destruction of the planet through pollution and war gave us the inspiration to compose this soundscape”. The music in itself acts a process; indexed as 8 tracks it plays as one continuous soundscape. ‘One Night In Helmand Province’ drifts with waves of deep reverberating synths, oscillating synths and glistening sparkles. Distant transmission samples surface, muffled and unintelligible, amidst the enveloping spacey textures that are dark and dystopian. You can hear it in the murky, industrialised tones shot through with the roar of jet fighter engines. Even the flickering sequences resemble the whirl of helicopter blades. Apocalypse Now seems an obvious reference point but here it is carefully subdued and more akin to an ambient vision of a cinematic warzone. The tension in the air doesn’t last long and is quickly dispelled by the tonal tweets approximating the sound of singing birds alongside the tranquil chiming synths and buzzing drone of ‘ATM#1’. While there’s hope to be found in the atmosphere created by ‘ATM#1’, a sense of desolation runs through the drone hover and pulsing hollow tones of ‘ATM#2’; capturing an austere greyness similar to the eighties industrial sounds of Konstruktivists and TG at their bleakest. ‘Hypodermic’ is even more spacious; its dark, shifting drones, giving way to shivery sequences that burrow deeper into airy blank tones and a stillness interrupted by synthesizer fluctuations. Electro drum rhythms surface for the first time on ‘Liquid Skyliner – Zeitgeist’ but in keeping with the overall theme; they’re subdued and unhurried. As synths moan and waver in high registered frequencies, static in the form of an electronic sequence fizzles in the air, closing on an extended passage of disembodied keys. Although Photosynthesis runs as one long 56 minute soundscape, the splits in the following tracks are almost indiscernible, segueing seamlessly into each other bringing to the surface the “quasi pop/classical pieces” that initiated the collaboration. ‘Passing Cloud Factory’ opens to a rush of queasy, processed electronics, shifting from dive-bombing abstract analogue sweeps into solemn orchestrations and further into the quiet melodic chimes and oscillating textures of ‘The Process’. The final piece, ‘Dead Neon’, casts melodic strings dripping with an enchanting watery allure, against a subtle buzz drone. It is serene and quite beautiful, and that’s before the swell of gentle orchestrations adds another layer of grandness. The entire things is filled with a sense of tranquility and reverence. ‘Dead Neon’ acts as a lament for nature, a beautiful world marred by pollution and war. Photosynthesis is something of a masterclass in sound, constantly drawing you in on its enveloping textures. It develops with a restraint and ingenuity. There’s nothing cold or emotionless about Photosynthesis, the analogue synthetics are enlivened and engaging. The concept may be difficult to articulate at times but overall Photosynthesis is a great album. Dave Ball and Jon Savage have created something special here, the world may have turned to shit but you can revel in its layers of beautiful analogue electronics. All in all, it’s a surprising and worthwhile release that is certainly deserving of your attention. Nice scoop for Cold Spring too.


THE SOUND NOT THE WORD, October 4th 2016 :
One of the most wonderful things about artistic creation is that you never really know where it will take you. Even though Photosynthesis started out as an attempt to write some quasi pop/classic pieces, you’d never know that from the finished product. What the duo of Dave Ball and Jon Savage have created instead is a haunting, delightfully organic album of ambient and experimental electronica. This is a record to sink in to, letting it take you on its journey to some other place, and it has a refreshing, almost cleansing feel to its retro soundscapes. There’s a warmth to Photosynthesis that many other albums of this sort lack, aided by the use of analogue sources, and it’s this warmth that gives the album such a special feel. Even if there are moments when it verges upon the haunting and unsettling, as during “ATM#2” with its ominous bass drone and piercing, warbling frequencies, it never feels like a dark ambient album; rather, these are moments of contrast that fit in well with the organic nature of the album. After all, nature is often a violent, destructive force, and that is captured in tracks such as this one, and that side of humanity is demonstrated here too, as it is in song titles such as “One Night In Helmand Province”. Photosynthesis is also an album that makes clever use of space. “Passing Cloud Factory” and “The Process” are relatively sparse tracks, with elements drifting in and out over a foundation of subtle drones and strings, and the space created is just as effective as any individual sound or other element. And the way one track flows in to another creates a sense of narrative, not necessarily in the sense of a linear story, but of a cohesive whole; it feels as if the album has something to say, raising it above being a simple collection of tracks and giving it an extra sense of importance and weight. When a more obvious melody or movement does come to the fore, as on closer “Dead Neon”, the effect is all the stronger for how well it contrasts with the more sparse, ambient sections. Not that any of this may be readily apparent. Photosynthesis is an album that requires multiple listens and proper attention to fully appreciate, but the rewards are more than worth it. It is an album full of depth, with an engaging character and atmosphere that is more than worth losing several evenings exploring.



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Woest “La Fin de L’Ère Sauvage”


WONDERBOX METAL (U.K.) Webzine, April 22th 2017 :
Woest are an industrial black metal band from France and this is their debut release. Woest play some of the filthiest, blackest, malignant music you’ve probably heard in a while. With a black metal underpinning, the band mutate this with industrial and doom influences, creating the hideously twisted mass of noise and evil that you can hear on La Fin de L’ère Sauvage. Bleak atmospheres are present throughout, as the band create urbanised occult sounds, replete with chanting and dark Gothic vibes. The songs are layered and full of interesting content, seemingly ripped into reality by the band’s creative force. Woest are clearly a talented bunch. While I like the songs themselves very much, the main issue I have here is with the production, unfortunately. Although functional, I feel it robs the music of the full power and effect it might otherwise have. I feel that the various layers to Woest’s sound could do with some better integration and balancing. This is more apparent on some songs than others though, and, as always, depends on your perspective. It should be noted that La Fin de L’ère Sauvage is actually the band’s debut demo. As such, these minor sound issues are to be expected. Normally I wouldn’t even point it out, but as the material is of exceptional quality, I feel it’s worth mentioning. However, even with some recording issues, you can still feel the potential on this release, and when everything does come together appropriately, it’s very enjoyable. I feel Woest could become quite a force to be reckoned with, as the actual songs on La Fin de L’ère Sauvage are well-written and full of grim beauty. As it stands at the moment, Woest have produced an demo that’s enjoyable enough in its own right, but hints at even better things to come. Ones to watch.


TERRA RELICTA (Svn.) Webzine, April 16th 2017 :
From Marseille (France) rises one of the most inhuman blackened acts that I heard lately, their name is Woest, and what we have here is their debut release named La Fin de L’ere Sauvage. The album in question is actually a self produced demo release. This band identifies itself with the industrial/doom metal genre and adds a lot of black metal elements as well. Basically on this record you’ll hear an abundant use of synths, samplers and electronic drums that are predominantly present, as well as low-pitched guitars with cyclic riffs, which repeat endlessly along the generally long tracks. The pace is often doomy, slow, with low-tuned guitars and a lot of “thicker” sounds. What will you find in this album? Exactly what it’s described, the junction of these three styles. Black metal elements such as typical tremolo picked guitar riffs converge with kind of desolate sludgy treble guitar amps, and as expected and needed the drum beats are strong, sometimes fast and with some blast beats like in the track “Tout s’écroule”. The vocals mingle into kind of black/industrial side with growls and desperate shrieks. Still I don’t find in here that much of traditional nordic black metal style, the whole thing is quite modern in some strange sick sense, yet I could say that it would be more like a progressive black metal in certain parts with prevalent industrial/doom style in others. Some clean vocals are used as well to make the whole thing more dynamic and interesting. The bass is powerful, reverberate and starts the first track, “Le froid efface”, which is nicely coming along with hypnotic vocals that blend well with grim screams while the ritualistic atmospheric gaze comes from the synthesizers. Some tracks are almost epic, with parts that lead to a more slow route, mid-tempo melodic guitars and leads. The album’s tone is all over psychotic, undoubtedly very obscure, sometimes the whole thing is even at the edge of becoming militaristic, especially in the hypnotizing track “Moelleuse et tiède”. But this music is for lovers of this style, because it is very electronic to say, but still absolutely black, even so the boys certainly reached their goal. In addition, the thing that bothers me the most is that sometimes it sounds like an old demo from late 80s or early 90s, recorded in a garage. No matter what, Woest still should be admired, because their debut release certainly shows a lot of effort and without any doubt potential is here. In a way Woest gave us with this release a dose of true underground as it perhaps should be and undoubtedly offers us something differet, an interesting mix of dark styles, but still I would really like to hear them with better production. My favorite tracks are “Tout s’Ecroule” and “Toundra”.
7/10 – Felin Frost


AVE NOCTUM (U.K.) Webzine, February 11th 2017 :
“Ferocious” is the name of this trio hailing from Marseille in France and photos of them standing in an urban wasteland, wearing hoody’s and clutching skulls and swords gives a good indication of what to expect, music that embraces both the past and the modern in many respects. This is the group’s debut release and certainly has a few things needing ironing out sound-wise. The 1st track is sharp and clattery and the second dull and bassy but thankfully after that there is a significant improvement. It kind of suggests tracks may have been recorded in separate sessions to me. ‘Le froid éfface’ gets cold emotion across with a solemn feel built up around both clean chanting vocals and graven rasps. The music is a bit of an intentional cold dirge but as mentioned not getting the full grasp of the musicianship from the recording here although there’s definitely a strong grasp of funereal melody and you feel like in the grip of a medieval plague rite. Although incredibly dense and muddy ‘Tout s’écroule’ sees everything collapse but I am struck by the repetitive, maudlin keyboard sounds which have more than a sense of aged nostalgia about them and are heavily reminiscent of Burzum. There’s certainly a good and solemn melody lurking in there and the chanted vocals at least come across here but the demo quality does this no real justice. Once we get the definition and clarity in the title track it is clear there is something both special and somewhat unique here and the last four tracks show true potential. It’s the obviously programmed drum machine that brings forth the modern sound mentioned giving things an industrialised clamour although the context is a doomy one with forceful vocals riding over the top sounding like they are unleashing a particularly nasty curse. That keyboard sound is back and really hypnotises and the combination of everything is really intriguing. They hit some really strange and sinister cadences within the fretwork of songs like ‘Noir’ spreading the blackness in an arcane twisting way that with the combination of the very expressive vocals give the vibe that we are being entertained by black warlocks deep in their tomb practicing necromantic arts. It really does get beneath the skin and the atmosphere is palpable. Although evidently French lyrically, there’s something about all this that reminds of age old artists within both the elder and highly regarded Czech and Italian scene. If only Woest could have cast their spell over the recording this would have definitely got a higher mark but again the levels seem to have gone up a notch on the last couple of tracks. Despite that there is a huge potential here and musically this has completely captivated me.
7/10 – Pete Woods


METALEYES IYE (It.) Webzine, February 23rd 2017 :
I marsigliesi Woest esordiscono con questo full length intitolato La Fin de l’ère Sauvage, un lavoro che include pulsioni industrial all’interno di un’impalcatura black doom. Come spesso accade, dal suolo francese giungono proposte fortemente disallineate rispetto alla normalità, una tendenza questa che dà vita a dischi geniali così come ad altri cervellotici o deludenti: il caso in questione si colloca più o meno a metà strada, in virtù di una buona propensione sperimentale che purtroppo non sempre è sorretta da suoni ottimali. Non so se ciò possa dipendere solo dalla qualità del promo in mio possesso, ma qui la produzione alquanto ovattata non sembra valorizzare al meglio uno stile che si differenza sostanzialmente dal black più canonico, necessitando a mio avviso di una maggiore pulizia a livello sonoro. Detto ciò La Fin de l’ère Sauvage mostra più di un passaggio brillante che rende merito al tentativo, da parte dei Woest, di creare un qualcosa di non scontato: il loro industrial black è algido, solenne e cadenzato, in possesso dunque di tutte le caratteristiche per poter inquietare i sonni di più di un ascoltatore, in virtù di rare concessioni alla melodia. “La barbarie est l’état naturel de l’humanité. La civilisation n’est pas naturelle. Elle résulte simplement d’un concours de circonstances. Et la barbarie finira toujours par triompher” è il motto, mutuato dal Robert E.Howard, che campeggia sulla pagina Facebook e sul Bandcamp della band transalpina, e credo si confaccia perfettamente ad un album la cui apparente modernità viene ampiamente incrinata da un approccio, appunto, selvaggio e ostentatamente datato a livello di rivestimento sonoro. Un lavoro complesso, a tratti ostico, ma senz’altro interessante.
7,4/10 – Stefano Cavanna


WOEST
WOEST

METAL TEMPLE Webzine, February 26th 2017 :
The genre this particular French band is playing is a rare thing nowadays, so I must say I am actually honored to review something so unique, original, and creatively awesome! The overall atmosphere, the type of vocals, the riffing, everything is a bit industrial influenced, but the whole is album is a lot more than just that. The first song ‘’Le Froid éfface’’ smacked me in the face with its powerful, epic, sludgy, doom riff, with an incredibly raw and slow speed, this riff only put my hopes up really high(they already were even before playing the album for the first time)! Oh, the vocals! WOW! The vocals are so deep, black metal influenced, sometimes I hear another vocalist, perhaps backing vocalist(?) with a different voice, a different vocal style which is completely heavy metal influenced, with a small mix of sludge metal. Screams, growls, clean influenced vocals, almost everything is here. Sometimes the growls lean a bit more to the Death Metal, but sometimes to the Black Metal side, too! This has to be one of the most creative albums after ARCTURUS’s latest album entitled ‘’Arcturus’’. The overall keyboards which are present, too, they pretty much build up the whole atmosphere, the great, various vocal styles, the chilling riffs, the pleasant drums. The fact that this band doesn’t fear experimentation, makes them one of France’s greatest underground metal bands (you name the genre!). ‘’Tout s’écroule’’ enters with a slow, but somehow epic riff surrounded by strong ambient influences in the background, which really put the listener to sleep. A nice, speeding black metal scream enters, but the ambient kind of still remains dominant, making this track my favorite, so far. Even though I’m not always into these type of Black Metal vocals, they somehow sound beautiful! With the overall atmosphere being so chilly and slow, full of ambient moments, it kind of makes the whole thing sound so beautiful. In the middle of the song you can even hear something that would, if you’d ask me, I’d say was a violin, and at some moments I hear bells, triangle’s, and many more instruments. I might be wrong, no matter how the band achieved this sound, it’s incredible. Around the end a powerful, dark, clean vocal, a bit folk-ish but still heavy enters the musical journey, and makes things even more epic. Still, I can’t understand anything, for what I am so sorry, I would love to know the lyrics. They must be awesome. Yes, you guessed, nothing is in English, if the track list wasn’t enough clue. ‘’ La fin de l’ère sauvage’’, the third track on this awesome record, starts off with a brutal, earth shattering bass riff that actually remains loud enough throughout the entire track, even when the Brutal, Black/Death/Doom metal vocals enter. I seriously can’t name it, you must hear it to have an idea what I’m talking about! ‘’Noir’’ is a weird track, and I am almost certain every album has one of those, that sound a bit different, which kind of showcase an experimental element of a band. This one might be one of them, but hell, I love it so much. It’s such a nice, haunting track with different types of vocals, some are high and clean, some are slow but black metal oriented, and the entire song is echoing of a weird sound, it’s really, really bizarre, but in an epic way, somehow also interesting. Also, if you were curious, the album’s title translates to something like: ‘’The end of the wild era’’. I’m still on the fourth track, and damn, it’s so atmospheric, so beautiful but somehow blood chilling, too! ‘’Moelleuse et tiède’’ starts off with deep and heavy tribal drums, with an also echoing sound, and vocals that reminds us of death itself. It’s a deep track, with just a bit more instrumentation than vocalization. However, they are still present, and they sound do industrial, growl-ish, and really, dark and brutal, it sometimes gets mixed with doom, and it’s just great in its entirety. ‘’Toundra’’ starts off with the wind blowing, and a literally heavy riff in the background, slowly fading in. Chanting sounds, vocals. Believe it or not, this is the second longest track on the entire album, after the second one. It’s atmospheric, incredibly deep but somehow still incredibly epic…the entire song is so charming, it takes the listener away somewhere else, on a different place. If the whole, atmospheric, keyboard followed thing wasn’t enough, there you go some motherfucking church bells! Incredible, guys, this is incredible! SHOUTOUT to you in Woest, too! I am blown away!! Keep playing for many years to come, loved your music!!! To you, the fans, YOU MUST check this band out and their debut album, and to you labels, YOU ALSO need this on your roster, you are about to check out one of France’s most epic and experimental bands!
Songwriting: 10 / Originality: 10 / Memorability: 10 / Production: 10 – Andrej Romic


MELANCHORUS (Ger.) Webzine, March 8th 2017 :
It’s black and brutal, doomy and also industrial – what a wild combination of sounds and atmospheres. This is WOEST! If you like your Metal this way you’ll welcome this new, versatile band from Marseille, France. They formed in 2015 to create “something dark, a reflection of our environment, […] our sick society” as guitarist Dave Malemort explains. Their intriguing demo `La fin de l’ère sauvage´ is the result and clearly a success: six sinister songs with harsh Death/ Black Metal vocals in French. `La fin de l’ère sauvage´, released this January, is a conceptual work inspired by the fictional world of the Cimmerian people brought to life by the American author Robert Ervin Howard. Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of the infamous Cimmerian hero Conan the Barbarian? Vocalist Torve summarizes the songs in the following way: “Most tracks present a barbarian lost in modernity and his values. He will finally get lost in the tundra to die alone”. A downtempo intro with gritty guitar chords introduces `Le froid efface´ before WOEST speed it up and Torve’s Black Metal vocals set it. We’re getting an atmospheric and powerful opener! The sound of `Tout s’écroule´ may not be the clearest in the beginning, but improves towards the end of the song when the vocals get more prominent. A rather melancholic riff leads through the apocalyptic song and there are eerie, high-pitched synths followed by a doomy part featuring slower vocals. WOEST growl about “songs to the glory of bodies lying in the battle field” and fittingly we’re caught in riffle fire towards the end of the track. The sombre outro of `Tout s’écroule´ is stunning and the same is true of the following intro leading us to the title track `La fin de l’ère sauvage´. The title track kicks off with a dark bass line and convinces the listener as a composition full of changes. The great, chant-like chorus somehow reminds one of CRADLE OF FILTH and later, the vocalist also recites a quote by Howard, words that the author wrote in a letter to H. P. Lovecraft in 1935, in an angry manner: “… Les hommes `civilisés´ essaient toujours de justifier leurs exactions, pillages et massacres en déclarant qu’ils agissent dans l’intérêt de l’art, du progrès et de la culture. Que ce simple constat vous surprenne m’étonne et me surprend. Ceux qui se targuent d’appartenir à une civilisation supérieure ont toujours déguisé leur rapacité avec de tels arguments…” (Tranls.: “Civilized´ men try to justify their looting, butchering and plundering by claiming that these things are done in the interests of art, progress and culture. That this simple statement of fact should cause surprise, amazes me in return. People claiming to possess superior civilization have always veneered their rapaciousness by such claims.”) – A statement of fact indeed, sad but true. With its in-your-face guitar riff and keyboards on top of the drum machine, `Noir´ spreads some Gothic vibes and is one of my favorite tunes on the debut convincing with a great interplay between snarling vocals and the repetitive guitar in the verses and a great change between clear and harsh vocals in the “Black Lotus” chorus. `Moelleuse et tiède´ means “soft and warm” and that’s how redeeming death after a battle is described in this track. The tune blows you away with an amazing intro, another killer chorus, some wonderful bass in the background, and a swift guitar solo in its outro. The sound of gusty winds introduce the epic closing track `Toundra´. The eight-minute-long is simply mesmerizing and kind of hauntingly soothing with its gripping doom and mourning “La-la-la sing-song”. What is more, WOEST sound the death knell by building in some gloomy church bells. Bravo! On the whole, every single track on the demo manages to grab your attention immediately. The about 40-minute-long `La fin de l’ère sauvage´ easily grows on you and makes you crave for more WOEST! It is an interesting first opus and the French (rather than English) lyrics are wonderful for a change fitting the tunes perfectly. Some clear vocals here and there are also very welcome. Everyone who is into dark sounds that are brutal and atmospheric at the same time should check out the creative work of this band, which deals intelligently with the theme of barbarism. WOEST present unique music while exploring the duality between the wild, ancient world and our modern civilization. In their shady artwork, created by Torve himself, they present another French translation of Robert E. Howard’s words on savagery and mankind: “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is the whim of circumstance. And barbarianism must ultimately triumph.” Listen to WOEST’s demo and you’ll know exactly how all this sounds like!
4/5 – Lay LA Ayobi – Interview here.


OCCULTBLACKMETALZINE, April 4th 2017 :
Woest are a band from France that plays a mixture of black, industrial and doom metal and this is a review of their self released 2017 album “La fin de l’ere sauvage”. Powerful sounding bass guitars start off the album along with some melodic singing and chanting a few seconds later which also mix in grim black metal screams at times while the synths make the music more atmospheric along with a great amount of industrial elements and demonic growls are also used briefly. At times the music brings in a more modern style of atmospheric black metal and gun shot samples are also use d briefly along with a great portion of the tracks being very long and epic in length and as the album progresses the vocals also mix in the more harsh side of industrial and the songs stick to either a slow or mid paced musical direction and melodic guitar leads are added onto the closing track. Woest plays a musical style that mixes atmospheric black metal, doom and industrial and mixes them together to create something very different, the production sounds very dark, raw and heavy while the lyrics are written in French and cover dark themes. In my opinion Woest are a very great sounding mixture of black metal, industrial and doom metal and if you a are a fan of those musical genres, you should check out this band. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE “Tout s’ecroule” and “Toundra”.
8/10



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Gyötrelem “Karhozat”


THRASHOCORE (Fr.)  Webzine, 28 Décembre 2016 :
Tout le monde connaît les Légions Noires françaises, d’autres ont dû entendre parler du Temple of Fulmoon de Pologne, et les plus au fait savent que la Russie renferme le Blazebirth Hall. Même le Japon y a eu droit avec son AAAA, dont le groupe le plus connu est ARKHA SVA. Oui, oui, je parle bien de collectifs black metal, de plusieurs groupes d’une même nationalité qui se déclarent liés les uns aux autres. Ils ne partagent pas nécessairement leurs membres, mais ils sont censés partager une même vision de la musique et surtout de tout ce qui l’entoure. Ce qui les rend fréquemment élitistes, avec un esprit conservateur. Eh bien, la Hongrie aussi a son collectif et il s’appelle le Inner Awakening Circle. 6 groupes. DUNKELHEIT, NIEDERGANG, KRIPTA, LEPRA, HELL ETERNAL, GRIMNESS et GYÖTRELEM. Pour l’instant aucun n’a été chroniqué sur Thrashocore. Ce qui vous prouve soit que le site est vraiment à la ramasse, soit que ce collectif n’est pas encore parvenu à se faire bien connaître. Si vous avez opté pour la première proposition, soyez donc rassuré puisque je vais m’intéresser aux deux albums sortis en 2016 : ceux de NIEDERGANG et de GYÖTRELEM. En commençant par ce dernier. Formé en 2008, il est mené par Gloam, multi-instrumentiste et chanteur. Le nom du groupe signifie « agonie » et c’est un bon choix. On aurait d’ailleurs pu choisir « nerveux », « fougueux », « torturé » ou « misanthrope exaspéré » car son black metal fait venir tous ces termes à l’esprit. On s’approche du black dépressif, mais pas celui qui se morfond dans sa chambre en hésitant à se taillader les veines. Il ne se concentre pas sur l’issue à donner à son mal-être mais dépeint véritablement ses sentiments. Ces 8 pistes nous plongent dans son désespoir dérangé et parviennent à nous faire apparaître l’homme devant nous. Il se tord dans tous les sens comme s’il essayait de se débarrasser de liens invisibles qui le ligotent violemment. Mais plus il bouge, plus il se lacère le corps tout entier. Ces cordes nouées qui le serrent, ce sont celles de la vie, de l’absurdité de cet environnement artificiel que nous nous sommes créés. Ce sont les vocaux qui sont les plus noirs. Des cris et des hurlements désespérés, qui tuent tout espoir. La musique par contre est plus envolée, et donne un contraste intéressant. Elle ne fait pas apparaître la lumière, mais en galopant rapidement la plupart du temps elle nous place plutôt sur un toboggan pentu, qui donne directement vers le précipice du vide éternel. C’est l’apocalypse, comme la pochette le suggère. Les quelques notes de clavier ajoutent une force émotionnelle. Elles ne fondent pas en mélodie, elles n’apportent pas de mélancolie, mais rendent la pente encore plus glissante. C’est un album qui a une aura forte. Il n’a qu’un défaut, le fait de tourner en rond et d’être difficile à écouter d’une traite. La formule est effectivement répétée sur chaque piste, et les 48 minutes peuvent sembler trop longues. Cette sensation arrive en plus assez tôt, tout d’abord à cause de la deuxième piste, « Örök nyugalom », qui fait 9 minutes sans avoir un contenu assez varié pour le légitimer… Quelques coupures et l’album pouvait avoir une meilleure note.
8/10 – Sakrifiss



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Imperial “Chaos”


Oldschool Metal Maniac (Pol.) webzine – August 12th 2015 :
The French scene used to be a leader when it comes to classic thrash/death. these days French bands are doing ok as Hell`s spitting out a bunch of new black metal hordes. IMPERIAL, formed in 1992, has been carrying the banner of hell incessantly and is a good example of a good French metal band. The“chaos” big advantage is the fact that all the songs are performed in French. It adds, in these times dominated by the Englishlanguage, a special atmosphere. The music itself is classically sounding black metal, subtly influenced by antichristian thrash metal – especially when it comes to guitar work. You can hear Kreator, Sodom as well as Aggressor and early Loudblast. Well, “Chaos” is band`s 20th material, the band that have been playing since 1992 and keep releasing new stuff from time to time. “Chaos” is nothing new musically, to be frank with you, yet enjoyable. This music is full of archaic riffs – it all sound decent so give this stuff a chance and listen to this album. Also, take a look at their previous releases.


NAWAKULTURE (Fr.) Webzine, 3 Juillet 2015 / LE TAFEUR #58 (Fr.) Magazine :
Sauvages d’entre les sauvages, les thrasheurs IMPERIAL proposent enfin sur CD cette douzaine de bourre-pif black / speed metal enregistrés entre 2010 et 2011, on note avec plaisir que le duo ne s’est pas calmé avec l’âge, la voix croasse sèchement, la boîte à rythme est toujours réglée sur VITE, les riffs sont toujours acérés et rouillés comme un thrash germanique balancé par des sud-américains farcis de poudre, les textes sont juste hilarants (Trash thrash, Nibiru, La Canine…) ou plus sinistres (Noir, Tu vas crever, dont il existe un clip, cherche et tu trouveras), tout ceci faisant l’univers unique d’IMPERIAL. Trois quarts d’heure d’enfer (véritable !) livrés dans un sehr schön digipak et avec un livret épais fourni en textes et illustrations. 500 copies.
4/5 – Ged


Soulgrinder zine (U.S.A.) – December 3rd 2014 :
Unholy black metal from Francemixed with devastating thrash.The production here is very thin and high end. The drums favor the thrash style, but you will find plenty of blastbeats as well. The songs overall are a bit faster than your average thrash however. There are a couple gallop beats here and there as well, the drummer does a good job of keeping it fresh, yet staying aggressive throughout.The guitars are pure Hellish riffage. Sounding something like Venom. Comparable to Destroyer 666, but more intense – evil thrash and black riffage with just a hint of melody.The vocals are something of a throaty mid to low thrash styled yell with an occasional black metal scream over top.Though, there are a couple minor flaws. Overall these factors do not hold this album back. Like blackened thrash? Then get this.



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