Svart Records Roundup: Dust, Abstract Principles And The Wrong Song
Get lernt on rural folk, evangelical visions, avant-garde death metal and bones of the boisterous, dead horses
H.C Slim – Sings
May 24th 2019
An Evangelical visionary, and a wayward preacher H. C Slim is a man who looks little like Joose Keskitalo, who just released a very good new solo album, and sounds a lot like him but most certainly isn’t him. Nuh uh, cross my heart and hope to die. If I eat my word may the Mörökölli* take me (what was that rustling just now). Though many of Sings‘ songs are apocalyptic in tone, the mood conveyed is rather reassuringly melancholic. Armed mostly with just an acoustic guitar, Slim sounds like Mirel Wagner playing Dylan and Guthrie, and for someone not so deep into rural folk, Sings is not entirely different from Westerlund’s Bell I heaped praises upon earlier this year. Exclusively made up of pleasant material, Sings is a treat to listen to, though many of the songs tend to pass by leaving little trace of their existence, with only the gritty, but light-filled lyrics to carve a mark, and the most memorable songs are the ones armed with a little more than just Slim’s voice, and his faint guitar – the early album highlight “The City Is Burning” and mid-album treat “Keep Your Eyes On The Road” – but their placing all around the album helps keep it engaging throughout.
Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L** – Väärä Laulu
March 29th 2019
I was fond of both of Käppi & K:H:H:L’s previous albums, though neither quite hit the nail on the head. In some ways Väärä Laulu comes closer than either, in others, retreats even further from the mark. Now employing a drummer and drawing from a wider variety of influences, including rock and punk, which obviously means this is going to be an album shunned in world music/folk circles. Each song seems to be drawing from a different place, which is the albums first apparent flaw – it never really seems to settle into any groove and every other song starts it all over again. The second, is it’s pacing. “Ikoni” might just be the single best song released all year, a trance-inducing, maniacal, dark and fervent opener, the following “Hullu Kukko” still follows fairly well in tow, though exchanges some of the trance-like effect for a more rocking outlook. Still, it reaches possibly even greater frenzy. The titular track once again reaches elsewhere, this time a menacing ballad – though each of the track so far are different, it hasn’t yet become a problem, only apparent. It’s the following sequnce of a more light-hearted “Musta Kimppu”, ditty-like “Myrsky” and western(?)-influenced “Kivittäjä” that ensure Väärä Laulu will not be building a cohesive whole. It’s mostly annoying because so many of the songs show such great skill, it’s a crying shame none of it is further explored. Nonetheless, Väärä Laulu is bulging with great songs.
Winterwolf – Lycanthropic Metal of Death
June 14th 2019
Winterwolf came into being in the late 90’s and released two demos before vocalist/guitarist Corpse relocated and refashioned the band into the thrashier Deathchain. In 2006 the original line-up felt compelled to conjure the bands original incarnation into simultaneous existence, the reason remains somewhat clouded as Deathchain would begin to shed it’s skin in favour of a purer death metal sound around the same time. The rhythm group were quick to depart though, and replaced with Corpse’s old bandmates from his days in De Lirium’s Order, K. E Pestilence and E. R Insane on bass and drums respectively. Barely had they found their places when Bobby Undertaker would decide to vacate his seat as second guitarist in both incarnations, to focus on dance metal and was replaced by Abominator, Corpse’s captain in his Demilich days, and would-be bandmate in Deathchain and Jess And The Ancient Ones alike. Enter then former Deathchain alumnus Rotten on vocals and the line-up was finally rounded and the band would release their debut full-length Cycle of The Werewolf later in 2009. Why so much member history and so music? Because a decade later I still haven’t been able to compose much more than a sentence’s worth of things to say about it. It’s old friends and veterans of a small scene coming together to make an album recalling their past endeavors. Groovy, Stockholm-styled, HM-fuzzy, d-beat friendly death metal with a decent Bolt Thrower cover at the end. A good record in it’s own right, better than many others in the style, but hardly one that’s kept me gasping for a follow-up these ten years, and frankly, the Disma-split only tempered my desire to hear the sophomore.
Yet, now that I’ve returned to it, in preparation, it sounds much better than I recalled. That is to say, exactly as I recalled but there’s a distinct feeling of having fun that few of it’s peers do, and though the songs aren’t necessarily very memorable, the riffs are mostly undeniably catchy. What Lycanthropic Metal of Death changes from it, is very little. The mix is a little cleaner, but the band is playing dirtier and with more gusto. That’s about it, but it does bring additional 35 minutes of undeniably fun old school death metal. Especially the mosh-worthy “Wolf Finder General” and the bulldozer-like “Thisishispit” work like a charm.
Dark Heresy – Abstract Principles Taken To Their Logical Extremes
April 26th 2019
Dark Heresy was a short-lived death metal band found in the late 80’s, after several demos and numerous line-up changes they managed to pull together a full-length that is now being re-issued roughly 24 years after it’s original release. The album’s title may have clued you in, but it wasn’t just a regular death metal piece, described as being akin to Morbid Angel playing jazz in your living room – an assessment I disagree with, but there’s no denying of the so-called Avant-Garde Forces at play here. Not a lot is heavy in the sense that is most commonly understood in extreme metal and meany of the riffs are rather progressive-flavoured, often accompanied by acoustic passages – simultaneously as well as not. The growls are rather weak, but luckily mostly at least partially buried in the mix and varied enough not to become an annoyance, though such sound choices as synths straight out of a children’s music box will no doubt rub some the wrong way. Despite all it’s attempts at weirdness APTTTLE is mostly a boresome record. With very few riffs of note and all of them lost in the lengthy songs it’s an unremarkable mush with little light. “Thy Blood’s” doom-y and clean sung passages raise it above many an other song here, but it’s near ten-minute length is detrimental. Yet alongside the quickly shifting “Ofermod” and the mostly jazz-ish “Hole” it creates a mid-album highlight that makes it worth trudging through the rest. Dark Heresy has no doubt earned their re-release, but by and large APTTTLE is more interesting a concept than good an album.
Various Artists – Pölyä – Experimental New Wave and Art Punk from Finland 1979-1984
May 10th 2019
Across 24 songs from 22 artists, Pölyä delivers exactly what it promises. Most of the music it presents originates from c-cassettes with limited circulation, mostly within a circle of friends, or no circulation at all. With an excellent, 44-page booklet outlining the background of each artist, Pölyä is as far from a quick buck compilation. But so was it’s source material. From nods to mod revival, pop and rock deformed by the lack of technical competence and made up for by desire, sixteen thousand spoonfuls of naivete, synthesized ignorance, ambiance and precursors to noise, Pölyä compiles artists who wanted to break out from the restrictions placed on the popular music of the era, of the backwards life and gray days in a country whose deference to Soviet Union reached such levels as to create the term of Finlandization. There seems to be no point in giving Pölyä a regular review, it was not released purely for musical merit, but for historical. It will suffice to say that I often end up skipping Nicaragua, and Xböö, and that I can never hold in a burst of laughter when Jaakko Kangosjärvi’s “50 Koirankoppia” comes on. I do recommend taking a look into it, but I do not expect many to enjoy the experience in the traditional-most sense of the word.
A very even batch of material this time, huh? You can check in at Svart Records’ webstore for them, or their respective Bandcamp pages. Why not say hello to he bands over at Facebook too, while you’re at it?
Each of the reviews comes with a linked song for your auditory pleasure
*what the Polish call an opryskliwy
** Kuolleiden Hillittömien Hevosten Luut