Sunday, December 19, 2004

For Those Who Always Wished That Someone Would Review Sampler CDs That Came With Portugese Metal Magazines - We Salute You

Ancient Ceremonies Compilation Vol.8 (

Feel free to make up your own song-titles. I can't find my copy of the magazine that may or may not actually include them. The CD itself sports a lovely black & white photo of the lead singer for Amon Amarth. Amon Amarth are not, however, on the comp. Is it wrong to judge a band's worth on the basis of one song? Not if you have any idea how many metal bands there are in the world.

*Arkhon Infaustus* Great woof/meow bulldog/cat-with-tail-pulled vocal tag team. The drummer has issues and he's run out of tissues. What is the impulse that tells a person: Approach the drum-kit with caution and then beat it to death! Fast faster fastest death riffs covered in peanut butter and sandpaper. A thick, viscous texture not altogether unpleasant to the palate.

*Obscurant* As much as they would love to spread Obscurantism around the globe and have their tainted demon cake and eat it too by leavening their spice bread with jellied fruits and mincemeat - in other words, adding a pinch of cheesy black metal synth-choir backwash to their hateful deathdance - I ain't biting. Their tough stuff isn't tough enough and the mood music sounds like an afterthought. Or maybe they just suck at it.

*Ondskapt* One of my fave vocal intros of all-time is the demonic bellyache. "ooooooh, uuuuhh, errrrr, I can't believe I desecrated the whole thing." Like it's a chore to put down the severed virgin head, trudge out of your underground kingdom and approach the microphone. It's the warm-up sound of a sated yet constipated satanic imp who needs a few minutes before he can get around to telling you what went down last night. It's endearing. Ondsapt's singer has three great voices: Demonic Bellyache, Demonic Pirate, and Demonic Opera Singer! The music is suitably woozy. Kinda like the wedding band on a haunted ghost ship. Every once in a while the drummer wakes up and starts hitting everything around him and then he nods off again. This half funeral/ half military march tempo adds to the seasick quality of Ondskapt's evil Dramamine-metal.

*Finntroll* Finntroll are a fave novelty act for non-metal fans cuz they combine quite lovely Finnish folk and traditional dance music with their own demon troll metal. As novelties go, it's a pretty good one! And they are good at it too. The track on this comp is just straight-up trad folk and as lovely as the rennaissance fair on a warm spring day. I would buy an all-acoustic album by them anyday. Heck, my favorite Wedding Present album is that 10-inch they put out of (Ukranian?) old world hootenanny sounds. And there are a zillion dark/pagan folk albums out now embraced and released by the metal community. Some seriously creepy black forest stuff inspired by Laibach, Test Department, Swans, Current 93, elves, wood sprites, pseudo-fascist nationalism and tree-envy as well.

*Nomenmortis* Much gnashing of teeth. I blame bad clams casino on the haunted ghost ship. This song is so fast it's no longer moving.

*Funeris Nocturnum* This guy sounds French. Or Belgian. Or Swiss! If I were French or Belgian or Swiss, I would start my own micro-genre called Traditional Artisan Metal. Songs all about the noble cheesemakers of the past. Odes to creating the perfect lambic. Monks. Wild yeast. The harvest. The vines. The wheat. It's a thought.

*Leviathan* Has anyone ever started a band with someone playing JUST double bass drums? No drumsticks, other drums or any other percussion? Just another idea to throw out there. These guys put a nice moldy surface of fuzz on their guitars, but they need a better producer to bring out the best mold that they have in them.

*Battlelore* Really keen bubblegum europop fantasy battle metal!! Light as a feather. Perfectly-produced bite and crunch on the guitars. Clumsy eurodude trying not very hard to sound mean and euroelf femme vocals selling the package easily to me and the island of Japan. MUST find their albums.

*Spawn Of Possession* Blink or you'll miss it BARF!-SPLAT!-UGGH! grindage. Ho-hum.

*Thesyre* This sounds like a basement demo, but what do I know, maybe Thesyre are huge in Luxembourg or Peru. The singer's english ain't pretty (which translates as: not scary, goofy.) They need bigger and badder riffs, a new name, a new drummer, and, um, I think that's it.

*Novembers Doom* A stately, downtrodden plod. This cookie monster is very, very sad. He makes most emo-punk singers sound like models of self-assurance. Although, it is fun to picture the actual cookie monster singing: "If only my mother knew the real meeeeeee" in a tone of utter defeat.

*Misericordia* Wet cardboard drum-slap, a million miles an hour, a million bands making the exact same racket. Are they fulfilled? Are they happy playing this stuff? If they are, then maybe that's all that matters.

*Funeral* This time the drums are in the boiler room. Under water. Covered in dirty laundry. And, uh oh, your aunt helen has been nipping at the sherry again. She's going through her Gibert & Sullivan songbook in the kitchen. Meanewhile, in the attic, your younger brother has almost perfected that one riff from Ride The Lightning that has been vexing him for weeks.

*Deject* If it is their intention to make their sound "murky" because "murky" somehow equals "diabolical", Then I find it hard to believe that there isn't a better way to go about it. When every 10 year old kid has software capable of recreating the Ring Cycle in the time it takes to jerk off to Jessica Alba VMA Awards red carpet candid press photo thumbnails, there is no possible explanation why even the most cash-strapped metal band couldn't make a demo that at least approximated recorded sound in the 21st century. Don't get me wrong. Lo-fi black metal recorded on a boombox can sound amazing. And the same can be said for the lowliest two-track or four-track recording. I understand the whole aunthenticity thing. (Even if I personally feel that Satan believes that high-end production values are the way to go when it comes to winning hearts and minds.) But the options out there are so varied that nobody at this late date should have a problem making shitty-sounding music that sounds cool.

*Sotajumala* "Sotajumala" is Finnish slang for "your moms is so fat she comes from both sides of the family".

*Zeenon* "How about Xenon?" "No." "Hmmm, Zeinon?" "No." "Um, Ziinon?" "Uh Uh." "Xeenon?" "Well, no." "*Sigh*Zeenon?" "That's it!!" I kid Zeenon, but they make some three dollar homegrown shit that has pep! It sounds really really cool. Everything all downtuned and compressed to within an inch of its life. It's perfect. Nice, snarly bass break. Raging and atypical female (I think?) vocals. No wasted motion. Just groovy, minimal, pocket-monster metal.

*Exektator* Nice black metal guitar furor at the start. It's a shame about Broomhilda. She needs a lozenge.

*Phantasma* I still haven't determined whether the sound of multi-tracked hobgoblins at the start of a song spells defeat or victory. It might just be a case by case kinda thing. Phantasma's little number here has a nice spring in its step. I don't know what the hell they're screaming about, but they won't put you to sleep. There is something to be said for that.

*Babylon Mystery Orchestra* This is kinda cool if you can get behind DIY industrial metal with a singer who sounds like a cross between Ian Curtis and Fred Schneider. Is it a joke? I can't tell. Swans meets Cabaret is kinda novel. Oh wait, Softcell. And the country of Germany. Ah, never mind. Not a bad tune though. Needs the darkwave remix touch.

*Mixomatosis* "My extreme vomit and shit metal band with four second songs can beat up your extreme vomit and shit metal band with four second songs." Where's that t-shirt?

*Dehester* Anyway, everyone knows that two minute extreme treble metal songs with extra noodles is where it's at these days. Which makes Dehester the coolest band on this CD.


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