Album Review – Through Chaos & Solitude / The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun EP (2017)

A classy and meaningful Melodic Black Metal project aiming at opening our eyes and show us that we, mankind, are our own blessing and our own curse.

“The thawing winds of the morning sun is us. Mankind. We are our own blessing and our own curse. We are the stroke of wing which causes these winds to blow. We try to become god ourselves while declaring him for dead and still we deny our nature. We subdue the earth and its children and still we strive for more. By now we already realized our purpose and we willingly choose to neglect it. We’re flying directly into the sun and still we’re accelerating…”

These dark, poetic words perfectly summarize the music you’ll find in The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun, the debut demo by German Melodic Black Metal project Through Chaos & Solitude, led by multi-instrumentalist Tim Rule (Forward to Eden) with the help of Sebastian D. (Castigator) on drums. Featuring a serene cover art by Pottriot Illustrationen, and written, recorded and mixed by Tim himself during this past winter in the city of Ruhrpott in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany, The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun brings beautiful, melancholic and dark music in the vein of bands like Woods Of Ypres, Agalloch and Falls Of Rauros, with each one of its three songs sending a thoughtful message about life and death, our souls, our existence and our struggles.

The initial sound of the howling wind in the first song of the demo, titled The Intransigence Of The Soul, is suddenly joined by an onrush of heavy guitars and blast beats, with the demonic gnarls by Tim giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s poetic lyrics (“Constant struggle of the mind and the heart / Constant suspense of the body and the mind / Persistency in the thought – restlessly moving on / Intransigence of the soul…”). Furthermore, anguish, despair and loneliness are just a few of the emotions explored by Tim in this piercing Black Metal chant, ending in an acoustic and pensive manner before we face the second piece of the demo, A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth), which builds a direct bridge to the opening track, beginning in a slow-paced rhythm inspired by the obscurity of Doom and Gothic Metal, also showcasing acute Black Metal blast beats by Sebastian D. and a somber ambience. Tim’s phantasmagoric vocals embrace us in darkness at first, shifting to his hellish growls and back to melodic clean vocals and, therefore, creating a nice paradox of voices inside our minds.

Also connected to its predecessor, If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed brings forward obscure acoustic guitars and once again the haunting sound of the wind while Tim darkly grasps the song’s austere lyrics, which present his personal view of mankind (“Evolution has brought us so far / And still – look where we are / Creating life and taking life / All in the same conceited breath / We are appointing ourselves to gods / Whereas declaring him for dead / If this is the best we can be / Then please let it end with me / Evolution has brought us so far…”). In addition, this composition is another excellent sample of the clash of distinct sounds Tim enjoys putting together, displaying slow and steady beats à la Doom Metal during its first half, whereas the second part of the song brings an explosion of heavy and dissonant sounds that lives up to the legacy of Scandinavian Black Metal, until it finally reaches its lugubrious ending.

In summary, Tim and his Through Chaos & Solitude are not only offering us well-crafted, harmonious and dark heavy music, but he also discusses important topics about the dangerous direction mankind is taking, pointing to our dread but inevitable extinction. If you’re a metalhead that’s always in pursuit of high-end music coming from independent artists and bands who also care about the content and message transmitted through their creations, Through Chaos & Solitude might be exactly what you’re craving, and obviously don’t forget support this brand new project by purchasing The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore (in tape or CD format), at the Mark My Words Records’ BandCamp or webstore, or at Discogs. Let’s hope Tim goes on with Through Chaos & Solitude, a classy project with a meaningful message that only brings more energy to his already excellent Melodic Black Metal, and that mankind finally opens their eyes for all the wrongful things that are happening in our world before it’s too late.

Best moments of the album: The Intransigence Of The Soul.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bound By Modern Age Records/Mark My Words Records

Track listing
1. The Intransigence Of The Soul 7:58
2. A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth) 5:10
3. If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed 6:37

Band members
Tim Rule – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Sebastian D. – drums

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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”

Album Review – Kreator / Gods of Violence (2017)

We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.

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kreator_gods-of-violence_worldwideFrom the triumvirate of Teutonic Thrash Metal, comprised of Destruction, Kreator and Sodom, the band led by the iconic Miland “Mille” Petrozza has always been my favorite, delivering top-of-the-line, enraged and apocalyptic music since their inception in Essen, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany in 1982 when the band was still called Tormentor. And it might have taken almost five years for Mr. Mille Petrozza and his loyal bandmates to release new material since their 2012 opus Phantom Antichrist, marking the longest gap between two studio albums in their career, but after listening to the breathtaking Gods of Violence, their fourteenth studio album, you’ll see the wait for the greatest Thrash Metal band in the history of European metal was definitely worth it.

Featuring an ungodly artwork (both the worldwide and the American versions) by German graphic designer and illustrator Jan Meininghaus, who has already worked with bands like Bolt Thrower, Sacred Steel and U.D.O., as well as Kreator themselves in Phantom Antichrist and their 2013 live album Dying Alive, Gods of Violence is a brilliant lesson in Thrash Metal that, at least for the year of 2017, will change the world capital of the genre from the famous San Francisco Bay Area, in California, to the city of Essen. One might ask how Gods of Violence can be so fantastic if it’s not a revolution in music, as it brings the same old Kreator we’re all used to. Well, that’s the beauty of it, as Kreator didn’t try to be different than what they are in essence. Quite the contrary, they sound more old school than ever in the new album, always drinking from the endless fountain of evil named man, and the amount of passion, aggressiveness and energy they put into each and every song is all that’s needed for Gods of Violence to become a contemporary classic.

The epic marching intro Apocalypticon builds up the expectation of the listener for this Thrash Metal masterpiece, and that’s exactly what Kreator bring forth starting with the sensational, belligerent World War Now, a true high-octane thrashing work-of-art that will sound thunderous when played live, with Mille and Sami Yli-Sirniö blasting their infuriated riffs while Jürgen “Ventor” Reil shows how drums should be played in this type of music. Moreover, it also contains their trademark European melody that makes their music so captivating, which can also be seen in Satan Is Real, a headbanging hymn with all the elements that made the band what they are today. Not only that, Mille sounds menacing with his raspy vocals during the song’s devilish chorus, leading us all to believe that Satan is indeed real.

kreator_2017Totalitarian Terror, a song about the fight for freedom and the war against oppression (and the best song of the album in my humble opinion), is a thrilling, bestial composition where the guitars by Mille and Sami will pierce your mind beautifully. Furthermore, this Teutonic Thrash Metal anthem is filled with fiery solos, frantic beats and a powerful, insurgent chorus (“Totalitarian Terror / Welcome the strike / Wielder to strike / Totalitarian Terror / Feeding the oppressor / Resistance must rise when freedom has died”), or in other words, the perfect combination of elements to turn it into a classic. After a  serene acoustic intro, the title-track Gods of Violence brings forward more traditional Kreator, perfect for going absolutely mental during the band’s live concerts, with Ventor having an outstanding performance on drums while Christian “Speesy” Giesler brings thunder to the musicality with his metallic bass lines.

Get ready for a sonic tempest named Army of Storms, another excellent option for their live concerts presenting poetry in the form of Thrash Metal (“For tornados and hurricanes / Will not hold us back / Ultra void as the ultimate deception / Ride the winds broken free / Now revolt and you will see / Nations and empires reborn / Beyond the blood red horizons you’ll hear us”) and sounding very melodic thanks to the brilliant guitars by Mille and Sami; followed by the mid-tempo classy composition Hail to the Hordes, where Kreator pay a kick-ass homage to their loyal fans (“If night will fall black shadows / Are taking our sight / We carry each other through the darkest / Moments of life, stronger than hate / Stronger than fear, stronger than all / We are one / Hail to the hordes”). Simply break your neck to the pounding drums by Ventor, with the epic sound of guitars inspiring us all to raise our fists in the air to this mighty German thrashing horde.

Kreator’s shredding has always been superb, and the metal whirlwind Lion with Eagle Wings is no exception to that rule. Not only it has a sophisticated and potent name, but the band also sticks to their foundations with a pinch of modern metal music, with the result being obviously awesome; whereas Fallen Brother showcases one of the most touching metal videos (and songs) ever made, a tribute to all our deceased heroes including Lemmy, Dio, Jeff Hanneman, David Bowie, Prince, Chuck Schuldiner, Scott Columbus, Bon Scott, H. R. Giger, Leonard Cohen, among many others. In regards to the music itself, it’s beyond powerful, vibrant and cohesive, a lesson in heavy music by Kreator that will stick to your head forever.

kreator_gods-of-violence_north-america

Gods of Violence North America Cover

Then we have Side by Side, where violent riffs and supersonic drums build the perfect atmosphere for Mille to vociferate the song’s lyrics against all types of prejudice and how we should unite to eradicate that from our society (“As we crush homophobia / Side by side / And we’ll never let the shame / Turn our vision to ice / And I’ll remain by your side”). It amazes me how such brutal album can contain so many references to brotherhood, friendship and unity, proving how high-quality metal can make our lives better. Lastly, Death Becomes My Light might be a melancholic and introspective creation by Mille and his horde, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as heavy as hell presenting crushing riffs and drums, while Speesy keeps galloping his bass guitar. And when the song is over, you’ll just realize there’s not a single moment in Gods of Violence that’s below excellent, as simple as that.

You can get a lot of extra details about Gods of Violence, including tour dates and news, at the special microsite created for the album, and grab your desired version of it at the Nuclear Blast webstore, including the amazing special edition with the bonus Blu-ray/DVD “Live at Wacken 2014”. It’s already a great moment for heavy music in general whenever Kreator release new material, but when the album is as splendid as this, we know it’s our duty to listen to it nonstop and  praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.

Best moments of the album: World War Now, Totalitarian Terror, Gods of Violence, Hail to the Hordes and Fallen Brother.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Apocalypticon 1:06
2. World War Now 4:28
3. Satan Is Real 4:38
4. Totalitarian Terror 4:45
5. Gods of Violence 5:51
6. Army of Storms 5:09
7. Hail to the Hordes 4:02
8. Lion with Eagle Wings 5:22
9. Fallen Brother 4:37
10. Side by Side 4:19
11. Death Becomes My Light 7:26

Band members
Miland “Mille” Petrozza – vocals, guitar
Sami Yli-Sirniö – guitar
Christian “Speesy” Giesler – bass
Jürgen “Ventor” Reil – drums

Guest musician
Boris Peifer – bagpipes on “Hail to the Hordes”

Album Review – Horn / Turm am Hang (2017)

One of the most respected underground musicians from Germany returns with more of his nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots and tribalism in another remarkable album.

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coverSince its creation in 2002 by German multi-instrumentalist Niklas “Nerrath”, Teutonic one-man army Horn has aimed at creating nature-themed, medieval style Black Metal bound to pagan roots, focusing on the relation of man and nature in a regional context. And this excellent project, hailing from Paderborn, a city in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, has been extremely successful in its journey, delivering high-end extreme music always with a meaningful concept behind it and always singing in its mother tongue German. Now, in the beginning of 2017, we have Horn’s seventh studio album, the folk, dynamic opus Turm Am Hang.

Inspired by the classic German folk song “Es ist ein Schnitter”, from the 17th century, as well as lansquenets (a gambling game of German origin), wars of the past, tribalism and the spirit of masculinity, Turm Am Hang will stimulate your most primeval senses with its distinctive ambience and powerful music. Furthermore, the artwork, layout and visual concept, all brought forth by German illustrator Timon Kokott, perfectly visualize the album’s combined musical and lyrical themes, complementing the already thrilling experience of listening to the music crafted by Nerrath.

After a pleasant folk intro in the opening track, titled Alles in einem Schnitt (which would translate as “everything in one cut”), Nerrath offers us his thrilling Black Metal with Folk and Pagan Metal elements, all sung in German as aforementioned to make things even more aggressive, not to mention the uniqueness of his tribal and stylish guitar lines. The title-track Turm am Hang (“tower on slope”) also begins in a serene way, again exploding into what can be called Blackened Folk Metal, with Nerrath blasting his enraged growls, potent beats and blazing, rhythmic riffs; followed by Verhallend in Landstrichen (“ranging in landscapes”), with the folk elements in the background adding a lot of epicness to the musicality together with its menacing drums. Furthermore, simply close your eyes and you will be able to feel all the energy flowing from the folkloristic sounds generated by Nerrath in this brilliant composition.

primarA song with an impactful name like Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz (“the one with the bow on the cross”) couldn’t sound less amazing than this, with its somber intro being gradually joined by guitars until all becomes an Extreme Metal extravaganza, perfect for drinking a few pints of beer together with your friends. Ä(h)renschnitter (“spices”) kicks off at full speed, with Nerrath going berserk with his fast-paced beats and riffs while powerfully vociferating the song’s lyrics at the same time. Moreover, hints of old school German Punk Rock are a very welcome addition to the overall musicality, enhancing the song’s effectiveness. And in Totenräumer (“Mortimer”), a fantastic fast-paced creation by Nerrath, our one-man army is startling on vocals, giving life to the song’s epic lyrics. Leaning towards sheer Pagan Metal, it never slows down, keeping the listener fully entertained from start to finish.

The eerie instrumental Lanz und Spieß (“lance and spear”) works as an intro for Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels (“bastion, in the sea of deaf rock”), a voyage through the realms of experimental and atmospheric extreme music, bringing forward elements of Black and Pagan Metal with an obscure rhythm. Ad lastly, as a “bonus” Nerrath offers the listener his excellent version for The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way, a melancholic and introspective journey of ambient music by American Ambient Black Metal band When Bitter Spring Sleeps, from their 2013 album Coven of the Wolves. Not only this is the only song in English in the album, but it also features guest vocals by American Lord Sardonyx, the mastermind behind When Bitter Spring Sleeps himself.

In order to enjoy everything Nerrath and his amazing project Horn have to offer, simply follow his steps on Facebook, and go to Horn’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel to grab your copy of Turm am Hang. As mentioned before, the experience of listening to an album by Horn is beyond unique, connecting you to the pagan and tribal origins of man and embraced all the time by superior metal music. As this is always the main goal of ambient and experimental extreme music, I must say Turm am Hang triumphs brilliantly hands down.

Best moments of the album: Alles in einem Schnitt, Verhallend in Landstrichen and Totenräumer.

Worst moments of the album: Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels.

Released in 2017 Iron Bonehead/Northern Silence Productions

Track listing
1. Alles in einem Schnitt 5:42
2. Turm am Hang 5:09
3. Verhallend in Landstrichen 5:10
4. Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz 5:00
5. Ä(h)renschnitter 5:35
6. Totenräumer 5:34
7. Lanz und Spieß 2:09
8. Bastion, im Seegang tauber Fels 4:44
9. The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way (When Bitter Spring Sleeps cover) 8:12

Band members
Nerrath – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Lord Sardonyx – additional vocals on “The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way”