June Roundup: Paysage D’Hiver, Mama Longhorn & Asphyx
Back on my bullshit, and yours too!
Asphyx – Necroceros
Asphyx has existed for a long time and in various incarnations. Even their comeback from relative obscurity to big stages hasn’t been able to save them from the revolving door of line-up changes. On Necroceros the changes have caught up with the titan, and not only as the weariness in Martin van Drunen’s voice. That needn’t be a negative thing at all though, but the consistency that’s governed the band’s three previous full-lengths is gone. Already the departure of drummer Bob Bagchus can be felt in the ‘slipping’ of the melodies from the sinister sounds echoing Eric Daniels to Baayens’ own Hail of Bullets -esque direction. On Necroceros, it’s quite neither.
Make no mistake, it sounds like the Asphyx you know and there’s no mistaking songs like “The Sole Cure is Death”, “Molten Black Earth” or “Knights Templar Stand”. The more melodic pieces, “In Blazing Oceans” or “Three Years of Famine” sound remarkably different from anything Asphyx or Baayens have played before. A halfway between the two approaches, but with a sidestep or two.
As if to hide this new face, the melodic songs are even more of a minority than before, though it’s not the only way in which the band seems to avoid writing their most immediately catchy material. Riffs that grab you instantly are scattered here and there, but scarcer than ever before and there are no more hits to drunkenly sing along to. No “Deathhammer”, no “Death… The Brutal Way”, no “Incoming Death”, no “Death Implosion”, only “Botox Implosion”, a raging track with all the makings of these hits, except the deliberate omission of such a chorus. Incidentally, it’s also the only truly fast song on the album, most relying on a lower mid-tempo, making for a sluggish, even one-note experience.
Having seemingly changed their catchier side to a more brusque approach, which I applaud, I would’ve wished they’d gone deeper still and not just toyed with the idea as it seems now. It’s no secret Asphyx have backed themselves into a corridor growing ever more narrow, so it’s a small wonder they’d elect to try and find any way out they can and bring a shade or two of a new blue into their music, or else strip some off. But the attempt at still keeping their post-comeback sound as intact as possible in the midst is doing them no favours now.
2.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Paysage D’Hiver – Geister
Paysage D’Hiver is the solo project of Darkspace‘s Tobias Möckl. Despite having been founded in 1997, Geister is only its second full-length, as until recently Möckl preferred to call his works demos.
Make no mistake, they were albums in all but name and clocked somewhere between 45 to 80 minutes casually. Naturally from this we’d expect PD’H’s album debut Im Wald to be something gargantuan, and at least in length it was, demanding two hours of your time and attention each spin. Two hours and 19 seconds, to be precise, of the most D’Hivering Paysage that ever D’Hivered—that is to say rough and rugged black metal building on the backbone of static riffs and layered synths, at times resembling some of Darkspace’s faster riffs, and at times veering into more traditional, tremolo-picked bm riffs.
One aspect of its approach PD’H always managed to use perfectly to its advantage was the production. Though it was always raw, it always varied and always felt an integral part of their arsenal as excess does to the latest Mare Cognitum. Where Im Wald lifted much of this veil between the listener and the music, Geister casts it aside entirely. The song lengths have also been radically trimmed to make Geister PD’H’s most easily approachable record. Gone is the mystery and the adventure, the joy of finding, but that is not the greatest issue facing Geister, not even close. It’s entirely composed of leftover riffs, everything about its composition placed within the project’s activity within the last few years screams rushed. The atmosphere shattered, songwriting lackluster and rushed, the layering gone, the immersion dispersed, what is left is Paysage D’Hiver’s most immaterial record that could not be recommended even to the completionists who simply must have every pressing of everything that bears the project’s title.
0/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Mama Longhorn – Let It Run
Mama Longhorn began as a traditional afrobeat band, except for the fact it hailed from Pori, Finland. Their second album, Age Two, improved massively on the formula by the addition of
chocolate to milk funk and jazz elements for a truly exceptional album.
Naturally Let It Run was high on the list of my most expected releases for the year (of which I’ve probably checked out a whopping 6 by now, at this rate I’ll get to end before 2098 dawns!) They;ve begun experimenting with some further avant- influences, pushing back every and any single genre, coating the 6 songs in horns lusher than ever before, or imbuing them with ever-danceable rhythm, hints of electronic influences and hypnotic arrangements. All the while delving further into the bin of pop music.
It was always clear that whatever record would follow Age Two would be powerless to match it, so while Let It Run may be a far cry from its power I don’t feel a bit disappointed in it, if not for the fact that Mama Longhorn no longer employs a rapper, even as a guest, leaving the group’s weak link, Eeva Poijärvi to handle all the vocals. No doubt it’s going to be the official summer album of 2021 for me.
3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell