Album Review – Cthonica / Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction (2019)

Witness the spiritual putrefaction of men in the form of raw extreme music, crafted by a cryptic Venezuelan duo that refuses to compromise or embrace standardized creation processes.

On their horrific debut opus entitled Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction, Venezuelan Black/Death Metal abominable duo Cthonica unravels almost an hour of blood-curling and slithering ritualistic aural terror the hideousness and repulsiveness of which has rarely been seen on this earth, being highly recommended for admirers of the extreme noise blasted by bands such as Immolation, Incantation, Beherit, Blasphemy and Portal. Adding hazy layers of purulent noise and sepulchral dark ambient murk to further disfigure their abhorrent creation, Cthonica have crossed a new threshold in Extreme Metal, setting an entirely new standard of sonic inversion with their raw and decaying sound, and taking the glorification and worship of death and perversion to an entire new realm of conceptual and audial atrocity.

Formed in the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas in 2016 by D.V. on guitars, bass and drums, and H.K. on vocals, noise, electronics, lyrics and concept, rising from the ashes of a previous incarnation of the project called Okkvlt, Cthonica are a proudly home-recorded project, both for necessity due to the precarious access to resources in the tumultuous Venezuelan society and general lack of most things out there, and for the complete refusal by the core duo behind the project to compromise or embrace standardized and commonly acceptable creation processes. Mixed and mastered at Necrosound Studio, and featuring an artwork of surreal visual horror by Venezuelan artist Bryan Maita (BMS Illustration), Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction deals with the Tehomic-Typhonian metamorphosis of every man’s reason through what they call “spiritual putrefaction”, or the progressive human corruption through the guidelines of opprobrious disciplines and their teachings, and even if you have no idea of what this means at all simply (try to) relax and enjoy over 50 minutes of first-class, utterly raw extreme music made in Venezuela.

Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction, which seems to be purposely split into two distinct parts, kicks off with the first act of the first part, Act I: The Chalice, sounding dissonant, disruptive and absolutely raw from the very first second. H.K. begins growling deeply and rabidly in great Death Metal fashion while D.V. does an amazing job with both his flammable riffs and demonic blast beats, generating a Stygian ambience that will crawl deep inside your skin like a putrid maggot, resulting in a very atmospheric experiment with phantasmagorical passages and creepy intermissions to make things even more mesmerizing. Act II: The Lantern begins in full force, with the duo smashing our souls with their crude Experimental Black Metal, and you can easily sense the dirtiness flowing from D.V.’s devilish riffage throughout the entire song. Furthermore, H.K. continues to fire gargantuan harsh gnarls like a beast in this brutal and disturbing ode to the void, followed by Act III: The Verb, just as gruesome and infernal as its predecessors, with D.V. unleashing pure obscurity from his Doom Metal beats. Put differently, it can’t get any more experimental than this, and it’s quite impressive how they captivate our senses no matter how lengthy and intricate their wicked creations might be. In addition, H.K. not only is a talented growler, but his background noises and tones also add an extra touch of lunacy to the music.

Featuring guest vocalist İanzél (Ancient Blood, Desesperanza, Precaria), IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation… (the first aria of the second part of the album) brings to your ears a humongous wall of blackened sounds that will crush you like an insect, with the guitars and bass by D.V. reaching a new level of malignancy and sulfur while H.K. darkly vociferates the song’s words from the very depths of the underworld. This is the perfect sample of what underground extreme music is all about, which can also be said about V:II: … for the Children of he Who Lurks Beyond Shall Not Witness This Showcase Of Glory…, showcasing a tribal and absolutely vile intro led by the scorching hot riffs by D.V. while H.K. fires his trademark enraged roars. Its strident riffs and solos, together with its crisp beats, generate a dense and furious sonority that flows smoothly until everything ends in the most aggressive and demented way possible. Then prepare your ears and minds for another onrush of obscurity and dementia in the form of raw Black Metal by the duo titled VI:III: … Not As Those Who Served and Preached in Obeisance., where visceral blast beats and riffs permeate the air, blackening your heart and thoughts while H.K.’s vocals get more and more deranged as the music progresses. And to properly conclude the album we have the cinematic outro VII: Ω De Derelictum Domum Sacrorum with its eerie noises, haunting screeches and demonic tones, putting a beyond devilish ending to such unique opus.

This precious and raw gem of underground extreme music made in South America can be appreciated in full on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would show my utmost support to H.K. and D.V. by purchasing Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction from one of the several locations where the album is on sale, such as the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp or webstore (if you fancy the vinyl format), the Cagliary Records’ BandCamp or webstore (for admirers of the cassette format), from the Clavis Secretorvm’s BandCamp or webstore in digipack format or as a black or white double LP, and Apple Music. The current state of Venezuela might be precarious and extremely delicate, but even facing all types of barriers and against all odds Cthonica managed to deliver an excellent debut album for our total delectation, proving once again that the underground is (and will always be) alive and kicking, and that the spiritual putrefaction of the human being can be useful at least as fuel when Black Metal is the music in question.

Best moments of the album: Act II: The Lantern and IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation….

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Clavis Secretorvm/Sentient Ruin/Caligari Records

Track listing
1.  Act I: The Chalice 11:19
2. Act II: The Lantern 7:49
3. Act III: The Verb 9:51
4. IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation… 6:34
5. V:II: … for the Children of he Who Lurks Beyond Shall Not Witness This Showcase Of Glory… 8:20
6. VI:III: … Not As Those Who Served and Preached in Obeisance. 5:30
7. VII: Ω De Derelictum Domum Sacrorum 2:57

Band members
H.K. – vocals, noise, electronics
D.V. – guitars, bass, drums

Guest musician
İanzél – additional vocals on “IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation…”

Album Review – Fear Factory / Demanufacture (1995)

A “cyber-masterpiece” by the unstoppable American Industrial Metal trailblazers.

DemanufactureIn 2010, after a 5-year hiatus and some controversial releases, Los Angeles-based Industrial Metal band Fear Factory got back with two amazing albums, Mechanize (2010) and The Industrialist (2012). However, it was in 1995 with all the energy, creativity and dynamism of their second album, Demanufacture, that the band reached the status of masters of Industrial Metal, always adding some hints of Death and Thrash Metal to their music, sometimes even being called “Cyber Metal” by their fans. Demanufacture is considered a concept album inspired by the most badass movie of all time, The Terminator, obviously focusing on the constant and horrible war between man and machine, with each song being some kind of episode of this fight, and the final result couldn’t be any better.

The music in Demanufacture sounds like if it’s coming directly from a giant industry or foundry, with all the violence of metal clanging sounds and mechanized instruments, but that doesn’t mean it sounds fake like many other metal or pop bands. It is high-quality Heavy Metal played by some incredible musicians, especially Dino Cazares with his brutal riffs and Burton C. Bell with his exceptional vocal range. In my opinion, he’s one of the only guttural singers in Heavy Metal that doesn’t sound lame when using his clean vocals. Quite the contrary, his clean voice is also fantastic and a very important part of the whole album. And although the band is officially composed by four members only, Demanufacture wouldn’t be the same without the contributions from Rhys Fulber and Reynor Diego, both responsible for the electronic tones and sounding and the robotic atmosphere with their samples, keyboards and mixes.

Fear Factory 1995The title-track, Demanufacture, is an awesome start with its great intro, heavy riffs, a strong chorus (“I’ve got no more goddamn regrets / I’ve got no more goddamn respects”) and the band’s characteristic electronic atmosphere. The song sounds clean but brutal, a great example of Industrial Metal. The second track, Self Bias Resistor, is as heavy as hell with a great job done by Raymond Herrera, while Zero Signal has excellent eerie keyboards in the beginning, turning into a damn heavy feast. Then comes the best track of the album and one of Fear Factory’s greatest hits (if not the greatest of all), Replica,  a masterpiece of Industrial Metal with its extremely austere intro, acid lyrics (“I am rape / I am hate / I am rape / I am hate”), and Burton’s voice sounding incredible at all times.

The band keeps smashing our brains with the superb New Breed, a “mechanized” song like a terminator itself, probably due to its lyrics, and an awesome choice for their live performances. The next track is Dog Day Sunrise, a cover song quite similar to the original version by British band Head of David, with an amazing touch of Heavy Metal but preserving all its elements from the 80’s. Then comes Body Hammer, which in my opinion is an outstanding musical representation of an industry’s assembly line, and Flashpoint, the perfect soundtrack for a terminator to walk in your direction ready to kill you. The last part of the album starts with another brutal song, H-K (Hunter-Killer),  with its intense drums and fast riffs; it’s a fantastic pure Industrial Metal song and one of the best of the album. Pisschrist  reminds me a lot of some Ministry classics, while A Therapy for Pain is one of those crazy long songs that became a band’s trademark in almost all albums, although I personally think this one goes on for way to long time.

Fear_Factory-Remanufacture

Remanufacture – Cloning Technology

Due to the originality and quality of Demanufacture, Fear Factory started featuring in the soundtracks of a variety of PlayStation and PC games and action movies, as well as becoming part of the lineup for some editions of the famous Ozzfest and touring with bands such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Moreover, two years after Demanufacture, the band released a full remix album of it called Remanufacture – Cloning Technology, which despite its original idea didn’t result in something as memorable as the regular album, of course, and in 2005 a remastered edition with six fuckin’ amazing bonus tracks as bonus disc 1 (including a cover for Agnostic Front’s Your Mistake) and the whole Remanufacture album as bonus disc 2 was released to celebrate ten years of the album.

In summary, a mandatory item in the collection of any headbanger that loves heavy music with lots of creativity and power, and also an excellent choice for your workout playlist. Fear Factory showed the world how Heavy Metal and electronic music can get along really well when there’s an interesting concept and great musicians behind everything, and let’s hope they keep on kickin’ ass for many years to come with new furious albums (which based on their latest releases that’s exactly what’s been happening already). It doesn’t matter how long it takes between their albums, as the Terminator himself would say, THEY’LL BE BACK.

Best moments of the album: Demanufacture, Replica, New Breed and H-K (Hunter-Killer).

Worst moments of the album: A Therapy for Pain.

Released in 1995 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Demanufacture 4:13
2. Self Bias Resistor 5:12
3. Zero Signal 5:57
4. Replica 3:56
5. New Breed 2:49
6. Dog Day Sunrise (Head of David cover) 4:45
7. Body Hammer 5:05
8. Flashpoint 2:53
9. H-K (Hunter-Killer) 5:17
10. Pisschrist 5:25
11. A Therapy for Pain 9:43

2005 Remastered Edition bonus tracks
1. Your Mistake (Agnostic Front cover) 1:30
2. Resistancia! 2:55
3. Concreto 3:30
4. New Breed (Revolutionary Designed Mix) 2:59
5. Manic Cure 5:09
6. Flashpoint (Chosen Few Mix) 4:09

Band members
Burton C. Bell – lead vocals
Dino Cazares – guitar, backing vocals
Christian Olde Wolbers – bass
Raymond Herrera – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Reynor Diego – samples, keyboards
Rhys Fulber – samples, keyboards, programming, mixing