Ihsahn – After (2010)

The newest venture by ex-Emperor front man, Ihsahn has done an excellent job, yet again. angL was refreshing change when it came and After is no different, in the sense of refreshing changes. It is the final chapter in the trilogy planned by Ihsahn.

53 minutes are enough to get one’s head all revved up. The album consists of 8 amazingly progressive tracks. I had not experimented with this band much earlier and now it saddens me that this is the end. Now having discovered bands like Solefald and Arcturus has just opened a whole new area of metal that I hadn’t explored.

Getting back to the album, the first thing one would notice is the saxophone. Yes, a saxophone. And does it gel well with the entire atmosphere created or what? Amazing work done by Munkeby with this instrument. For those who aren’t aware, Ihsahn is basically a self-named solo project of Ihsahn’s. He does the vocals (clean + guttural = wow), the keys and the guitar.

The thing I like about bands in this genre is the limitlessness to the scope of how a riff should go, or what scale to follow, or whether to maintain a particular beat at particular places (although some here might argue that I might’ve shifted to Math Metal here, still). And this album made me happy. The vocals were bang on perfect, not once did I cringe on listening to clean vocals (this has happened very rarely, like with Opeth/Novembre/Katatonia), because many bands get it wrong with when to do a clean and when not. Time and place for everything, an Ihsahn seems to know it :D. Drums I liked a lot, beats were riff appropriate, not ranting off on a tangent like it does many times. But I like to credit Ihsahn for his composition more. It’s an amazingly well-crafted album.

My favourite from this album include the title track After, Undercurrent and Austere. The other tracks miss out on the top spot by half points. There’s a bit of jazz in the last track and the way its incorporated in noteworthy.

The acoustic guitars have been used to create a smooth calm backing while the riff suddenly transforms into the blackest of black as do the vocals. The drums in sync. with the entire change, all done in a suavely.

“Heaven’s Black Sea” is another track where the saxophone creates this sensation of impending doom-esque event.

The album ends with “On the Shores”, and the saxophone does justice to it. Makes you think, if you get my drift. The kind of track that is prerequisite on road trips or during work.

The lyrics make absolutely no sense to me, so I won’t comment. Like I said before or maybe not, this album sounds very similar. Had this been a gapless album, something conceptual it would’ve been epic.

I read a comment which made me laugh yet I couldn’t agree more, especially when I’m high on Ihsahn: “Black Metal is a Disgrace to Ihsahn”

An easy 7.5/10

Cheers!

The video below is Scarab by Ihsahn from their previous album angL. You’ve got to be kidding me if you don’t like it.

Devoid – A God’s Lie [2010]

Devoid’s debut, and how? A God’s Lie is just what the Indian metal scenario needed; solid, heavy and hardcore thrash metal.  The name itself is enticing. Makes you expect something good. And good would be an understatement. I’d like to say influenced by Slayer, although that’s not quite putting the finger to it. Devoid has found their own frequency and this album is proof to exactly how good they are! Hiccups in the lineup have not hindered in their path of making a quality debut album.

The beginning is highly inconspicuous. A very uneventful intro, A Silent Death, very silent indeed. Doesn’t at all give a clue about the bombastic tracks this album is loaded with.

Battle cry had earlier been released and it blew my mind away. But I didn’t expect that sound to shape into an album. What hit me first were the vocals. Endearing, should I stretch it. Very rarely does a band get the vocals right, according to me. A particular style suits each sound, and Devoid got it right. “Beer Song” was another single that I’d heard before. Sweet! A thrash track dedicated for the love of beer! My type. Next what hit me were the guitar patch and tone. Powerful and rarely overdone, just the kind I like. Riffs are highly creative, my favorites here would be “Devoid of Emotions” and “New World Order”. The title track “ A God’s Lie” has quite a complex structure and has been experimented with a lot, and been made awesome. Just made me want to see them live, gig-perfect \m/

Some solid drumming skills have showcased in this album. Apt, not too subtle or heavy. But it would’ve worked out even more if blast beats had been used extensively, I can’t help it, I’m just too biased when it comes to this! Lyrics expose a lot of ire, nothing new about that though. Quite typical of this genre, not that anything else would go with it either, no one’s expecting a lullaby.

This is a promising band definitely. I’d be a fool to give this album anything less than an 8/10

Cheers!

Albatross – Dinner is You [2010]

Finally got my hands on Dinner is You. Quite a delay in receiving it, but then again given Diwali and Patiala, I couldn’t hope for more!

Ok. Let’s start with the theme. Cannibal king and his escapades! The first two tracks are all about death to visitors to the Master. The latter half narrates how the Master undergoes a trial where he feeds on the judge and subsequently on (supposedly) a man of the law. Lyrics are amazing! What a scene to depict in an album!

Vocals. I like the imitation “Welcome to Kuru…… Dinner is You!!”. It reminded me of the clown in  Dethklok. Personally, not my favourite of styles of narrating but I guess it is best suited of the  atmosphere this EP creates, one of horror and death (although I should add comic too, lyrics really  got me laughing!)

Music as such is slow paced in the beginning, reminds you of a predator about to pounce on its prey.  The album builds up pace after the master starts his assault. Smooth and suave he kills and eats, and  soon the Master’s ghastly acts are presented in the court of Kuru. Here the sound again gains quite a  mellow yet infernal feel to it. It builds up to the climax where the Master (*spoiler alert*) turns out to be the king of the cannibals :D. Awesome shit!!

Literally breaking down to each instrument, the guitar patch set the pace and the mood. Percussions were neat, but that’s it.

This EP was something I was not expecting, conceptual, temperamental and best of all gory. Not like grindcore themes but yeah comic-gory.

All in all a 8/10 for a kickass effort!

Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa [2010]

A long awaited album, Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa is definitely not was I was anticipating. I’ve never  been a diehard COF addict, but I’ve heard my share of their songs. This being arguable as I’m a big  Dimmu fan, and to most ears, they are one and the same band. I beg to differ, but I’m not going down  that road right now.

What I was expecting from this album was a fast paced, goth fest. I’m happy to say that this album  wouldn’t be heard by those covered in white facemasks and straight black hair only :D.

No, don’t misunderstand me. The theme of this very concept  album is a gothic horror story.

Based on Lilith (Eve of Jewish  folklore), the lyrics are definitely subversive and very much  showing her as a demon after us. But music wise this album is  didn’t overdo their “GOTH”.

Cradle of Filth has done a decent job with the music. Very rarely  do I like gothic elements in a song, and yes some places it is  overdone, too much for my taste, but overall pretty neat! I love  Martin’s work on the drums. Most places it was a very banal and  unnoticeable beat and then there were places where he goes off  and how!

Vocals aren’t any different from any other album. Couldn’t  expect much of a change there anyway even with latest, Ellyllon  taking the backing. Keys, on a personal level, I like. “Mistress from the Sucking Pit” has a really neat intro with the keys. I like them to sound they way they are (piano like) and not like the cathedral chamber organs most bands use them as. Sick.

Nonetheless, this album is not an improvement over the last. Nothing that really got my blood burning, nothing that got me excited enough to rate this album more than a 6.5/10.

Rendezvous. Respect.

This is no big news or anything, but just general awe at the might of being an IIT hosted event :D.

This year in celebration of their (IIT’s) Golden Jubilee, Rendezvous 2010 (IIT D fest) has been holding prelims nation wide. That itself being quite a big feat, their Delhi prelims (19th October) are actually going to be like a mini GIR (of old times, when GIR was a competiton). A UK based band going by the name De Profundis is actually going to headline the event, that being the prelims.

I have never heard this band, so would comment on their skills as such. Their music is pretty neat though so its not a meager deal. Here’s a link to their myspace profile : De Profundis

Dates to other venues in India where they would be performing are also given. Give it a look and a listen.

Very impressive IIT Delhi, hopefully the finale would be just as kickass!

Dimmu Borgir – Abrahadabra [2010]

The album I’ve been anticipating for a long time, yearning for it even more after listening to Gateways (which was released earlier as a single from Abrahadabra), this album has delivered. And how!

Black/Doom Metal has been redefined with Abrahadabra. This album is nothing like “In Sorte Diaboli”. While that album has good influences of old school death metal infused with the distinctive Dimmu Borgir, this album inclines more towards the doom aspect with death incorporated in bits. The use of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra( Kringkastingsorkestret) along with Schola Cantorum (Norwegian Choir) was surprising yet the best thing they could’ve done. It gives Dimmu Borgir an entirely new genre – \m/!

It starts with Xibir creating this whole atmosphere of doom/apocalypse. A very thematic and symphonic essence is displayed by the music. The backing orchestra has been used to its full extent, Violins and Chellos merging with Snares and riffs and creating this aura of supreme authority, something out of a much darker and malefic Morgoth (LOTR reference here :D). It starts with two really powerful tracks Born Treacherous and Gateway (I’ve reviewed Gateways here @ Gateways Review). Powerful and imposing sound dominates the entire album with Shargath’s vocals gelling with the music. Drums, done by Daray, sound awesome with the entire structure coming out from the keys (done by Shargath again). Chess with the Abyss brings out the old Dimmu, “Sorgens Kammer Del” 2 sorts. It is awesome nonetheless with kickass choruses and percussions. I won’t describe the rest of the tracks and spoil the fun. Keep in mind that this is one epic album which would keep you on your feet and head banging for the entire 60 odd minutes.

This edition of the album also features an only Orchestral version of Gateways. I have always been a big fan orchestras as such but wow. It isn’t as impressive as some of the performances I’ve heard or viewed, but incorporating and successfully bringing out the “black metal” of the song really impressed me. The beginning would get your blood boiling, if only they had kept the vocals too (those of Shargath’s and Agnete Kjølsrud’s) it would have been my favourite of the lot and a legend.

ICS Vortex is missed though. His clean vocals would’ve done only better for the album. Apart from that I can’t think of anything that might have gone wrong with this album. It’s a keeper. Buy the CD. Definitely.

Ratings – 8.5/10.