Album Review – Ibyss / Hate Speech EP (2017)

A feast of modern and industrialized sounds by a dynamic duo of German metallers who are not afraid of expressing their rage against censorship and rising authoritarian tendencies.

When it came to my attention that several German webzines and even leading print magazines refused to review or publish any news about Hate Speech, the brand new EP by German Industrial Metal duo Ibyss, because they think the album title is too “problematic” or “provocative”, I instantly thought there’s something wrong with the media and their “invisible” censorship. The duo even states in their material the specific topics their non-political EP deals with, such as third-wave feminism, trigger warnings and toxic masculinity, in an aggressive and unapologetic way against censorship and rising authoritarian tendencies in the midst of a battle of the sexes (which are already sweeping into the Heavy Metal subculture).

Formed in 2013 and highly influenced by the music by renowned acts like Nailbomb, Godflesh and Ministry, the duo comprised of Jens (vocals, guitars) and Nihil (guitars, bass, drum programming) hails from Düsseldorf, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, known for its fashion industry and arts, having released in 2014 their very experimental debut album Obsidian, as well as a couple of singles in the coming years, carving their name in the German independent scene. Moreover, they nurture a deep passion for alternative and industrial music, they love to experiment with unusual and heavy sounds, and they’re not afraid of discussing about controversial topics through their creations. Put differently, they use their austere music as their form of expressing their view of our modern-day society, and Hate Speech deserves a shot for being such an honest and meaningful album. There’s nothing wrong with that, don’t you agree?

Anyway, opening the EP in a metallic and groovy way we have Bois Ton Sang (or “drink your blood” from French), where Jens begins screaming his acid words violently while Nihil’s bass sounds very old school, resulting in a German Industrial Metal extravaganza perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Moving on with their industrialized attack, electronic elements permeate the air from the very first second in the excellent Face Off, an aggressive Industrial Metal chant the likes of Fear Factory where the razor-edged guitars by both Jens and Nihil dictate the rhythm, with the song’s thunderous and menacing bass lines bringing even more electricity to the already belligerent musicality presented. And making use of tons of industrial elements in the background and featuring German legend Rüdiger Schuster (Stumpff, U.L.A.A, Unlucky Childz) as a guest vocalist, Home Is Where The Graves Are also brings forward rumbling bass lines and piercing guitars to enhance the song’s potency and impact in a brutal way.

Like Drones feels like traditional Industrial Metal with hints of Sludge Metal, reminding me of some of the newest songs by Sepultura due to its grooviness and creativity, not to mention the great job done by Nihil with the drum programming by making it sound very organic and raw; whereas the ruthless Frontlines keeps up with the rest of the album in terms of electricity and punch. This time Jens presents not only his tormented growls, but also his gentle, clean voice, creating an interesting paradox of vocal lines throughout the whole song. Finally, when you reach the last song of Hate Speech, entitled Senseless Ordeal, you’ll be able to clearly acknowledge what the music by Ibyss is all about, their sonority and characteristic sounds, showing how cohesive the whole EP is. The duo keeps smashing their guitars unceasingly during the song’s seven minutes, sounding threatening and coarse (but always with a lot of harmony), building what can be considered a fusion of the music by Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson and Triptykon, or in other words, an Industrial-Doom-Gothic Metal feast.

Why the media is not supporting such riveting underground act is beyond my comprehension. If you think about it for one second, they come from the same country as Neue Deutsche Härte icons Rammstein, who gave the world extremely polemic creations such as “Pussy”, “Amerika”, and especially “Mann gegen Mann”. If you also think we all have the right to express our ideas, if you think freedom of speech is still important, and especially if you like modern and industrialized music, go check what Jens and Nihil are up to at their Facebook page, enjoy their music at their YouTube channel and SoundCloud, and buy your copy of Hate Speech at their BandCamp page. As mentioned before, this talented duo is not afraid of expressing their anger against censorship and their view of other controversial topics, and by doing that through their experimental compositions they ended up providing fans of heavy music an excellent and noteworthy option outside of the comfort zone of traditional metal.

Best moments of the album: Face Off and Senseless Ordeal.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Bois Ton Sang 4:50
2. Face Off 3:52
3. Home Is Where The Graves Are (feat. Rüdiger Schuster) 4:19
4. Like Drones 2:40
5. Frontlines 4:43
6. Senseless Ordeal 7:01

Band members
Jens – vocals, guitars
Nihil – guitars, bass, drum programming

Guest musician
Rüdiger Schuster – additional vocals on “Home Is Where The Graves Are”

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Album Review – Himiltungl / Öden (2017)

An unconventional album by three high-skilled musicians who want to share their inner Swedish darkness with others through their haunting mix of Black and Viking Metal with folk melodies from the deep forests of Jamtland.

Rating5

cover-digitalFormed in 2013 in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries, and inspired by the traditional Folk, Viking and Black Metal creations by bands like Týr, Vintersorg and Woods of Ypres, Folk Metal band Himiltungl (which means “the fucking moon” in ancient Swedish) weaves a haunting mix of Black and Viking Metal with folk melodies from the deep forests of Jamtland, a historical province in the center of Sweden. The band consists of three high-skilled musicians who want to share their inner Swedish darkness with others, and in that way invoke a sense of dread, joy and wonder, primarily singing in Swedish and Jamtlandic with lyrics conflictingly revolving around the majesty of nature interspersed with reflections on the terminality of life and death.

If all that explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, simply hit play and enjoy the music found in Öden (which translates to “fates”), the long awaited follow-up to their debut album Svart Ravin, from 2013, telling stories of blood, loss and tragic ends while continuing to explore the folk-inspired path that was initiated with their first album, always moving towards heavier and more progressive sounds. Each song will sound completely different to your ears, sometimes bursting with anger and aggressiveness, sometimes being as smooth as the sound of a placid lake, and that’s exactly what Himiltungl wants you to feel while listening to Öden. This is not your average Folk Metal album, so you better sharpen your senses for the freakish amalgamation of sounds and emotions found in Öden in order to understand what the Folk Metal by Himiltungl truly means.

In Myrens Gäst, the trio starts blasting their dark music with folk elements from the very beginning, with the somber vocals by Jens being complemented by the also melancholic voice by Magnus. It’s quite difficult to label this as only one subgenre of heavy music, but I would personally say it sounds like some sort of “Melodic Dark Folk Metal”. Anyway, in The Dying War, one of the few songs in English from the album, Jens and his hellish gnarls perfectly fit the unusual and modern Folk Metal instrumental, with drummer Mattias bringing the necessary groove and progressiveness to the musicality. And Skogstokig brings forward Scandinavian guitar lines and minstrel-like vocals in a very traditional folk way, with its last part getting more metallic with potent riffs and beats alternating with harmonious vocalizations.

Paying homage to their tribal roots, the band offers the listener Eldsjäl, a touching blend of Folk Metal and ancient soundings where both Jens and Magnus deliver passionate performances on vocals, with some harsher moments to spice up the final result; followed by Shadows Crowd, their most contemporary composition, getting closer to Blackened Folk Metal. Mattias and Magnus craft the base to this melancholic and powerful chant with their beats and bass lines, while Jens once again delivers solid vocal lines throughout the entire song. In Kung Jorum a melancholic intro flows into heavier traditional music with all folk elements sounding crystal clear, also presenting interesting acoustic passages, whereas in Cerebration Gate an inspiring beginning quickly morphs into a mid-tempo Folk Metal hymn, presenting raspier gnarls by Jens and heavier guitar lines. This is in my opinion one of the best songs of the album, showcasing an effective combination of progressiveness and feeling.

himiltungl_oden-42

Photo by Paul Wennerholm – http://paulwennerholm.com/

In Tångsal, a song made to be played and sung around the fire pit, Jens grasps the song’s lyrics like a demonic entity while the instrumental parts feel like a blend of Folk and Pagan Metal with hints of Black Metal, before Sökaren brings forward medieval and folk elements added to its heavy and electrified guitars, with the backing vocals as well as the precise drumming by Mattias elevating the overall quality of the song. And Glöd, their most complex aria and the longest of all tracks at almost nine minutes, displays over two minutes of distorted noises before the music reaches its final shape and tone. Moreover, when the guitar by Jens gets heavier than usual, the song gets a lot more obscure and impactful.

Urmoder not only has an excellent pace and intensity, but the symphonic elements present in it also bring more darkness to the overall musicality, with all band members delivering a precise performance (in special Mattias with his potent and rhythmic beats) in what’s one of the most gripping of all songs. Ivolin, another blast of Folk and Pagan Metal, proves that when Himiltungl craft their modern and heavy version of minstrel-like music they effectively reflect their core essence and their inspirations; and in the introspective Hatarens Sång, minimalist guitar sounds generate the ambience for Jens and his bandmates to tell a story through their grim vocals, with all instruments being progressively added to the music for a climatic ending.

After listening to the multilayered Öden, available on iTunes and on Amazon, you’ll certainly agree with what I said in the beginning of this review about how difficult it is to label the music by this up-and-coming Swedish trio. You can definitely try giving a name or definition to their music, by studying more about the band and their creations through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, BandCamp and SoundCloud. As previously mentioned, I like to call their music as “Melodic Dark Folk Metal”, simply because it is indeed very melodic, constantly dark and always folk, but anything I say won’t be enough to describe their unconventional canticles.

Best moments of the album: Shadows Crowd, Cerebration Gate and Urmoder.

Worst moments of the album: Kung Jorum.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Myrens Gäst 6:32
2. The Dying War 3:10
3. Skogstokig 3:34
4. Eldsjäl 5:22
5. Shadows Crowd 4:41
6. Kung Jorum 7:18
7. Cerebration Gate 5:32
8. Tångsal 3:09
9. Sökaren 3:44
10. Glöd 8:55
11. Urmoder 3:58
12. Ivolin 4:03
13. Hatarens Sång 3:25

Band members
Jens – vocals, guitars
Magnus – bass, vocals
Mattias – drums