Welcome to the year 2013. The world didn’t saw its end, but now we have the ominous ’13’… Let’s see what happens. Maybe Bathory’s Thirteen Candles will get a techno treatment by PSY and become a worldwide hit? You never know… But until that, here is real good music to start your year with. And because I’m such a generous guy, you will get four recommendations instead of three! Make this year a memorable one!
AURA SATURNAL: To His Kingdom (Versets Noirs 2012)
Luxixul Sumering Auter has painted his esoteric visions through the gate of Cosmic Church mostly, but also this “side project” called Aura Saturnal has existed for four years so far, and I must say that this debut album is almost overshadowing Cosmic Church material! These five long songs possess more sinister aura than Cosmic Church’s melancholic wailings, and the riffs share both majestic eeriness, hateful attacks and also slower mumblings. You could almost say that To His Kingdom has an “orthodox” feeling but in this case it is more about atmosphere than actual music. Clean chants and enjoyably rumbling production just grow this atmosphere stronger, and these songs become different phases of a ritual, or chambers in an ancient palace. Shrine of Elements is the definite hit song on this one, but also other songs shine like morning stars in the night sky.
But what kind of different goals does Aura Saturnal has if L.S.A. compares them to Cosmic Church’s purposes? Here’s the cryptic answer:
– Well, the ultimate goal is naturally similar as I see these bands as tools and channels towards spiritual progression same way as people use altars, prayers and holy places to concentrate their mind into the great work. Anyway, the creation process and energies around the bands are definitely different and this is why I needed to create Aura Saturnal alongside with Cosmic Church. With CC the creation process is often surrounded by quite peaceful yet longing and “natural” mindset but then again when creating AS my focus is always towards way more darker and destructive; “active” channels.
– For example creating To His Kingdom was a necessary process of keeping my mental sanity stable as during my path I encountered / entered certain layers of the universe which I was yet not ready to witness and this almost destroyed my psyche and being. So, in a way the whole creation was a purification ritual and I am very relieved to finally have the album released so I can detach myself from the whole process. A certain curse has been following this album ever since and after many strange delays, cancellations and difficulties it feels almost cathartic to end this and move on.
WITHER: Necropolis (Aurora Australis 2012)
Time flies – or crawls. I was impressed by Wither’s promo EP back in 2008; especially the song called Cosmos, which was a side step from the band’s general funeral doom / black metal combination, hit me with its melancholic goth rock atmosphere. Then this Australian band withered (eh) from my mind, and it took four years until Wither completed their debut album Necropolis. Now the album is here, Cosmos included, and what a rollercoaster ride of melancholic metal it is! Take BMD-era Katatonia, take modern “post-rock meets black metal” guitar screeches, take the gloomiest pits of funeral doom, take growls and howls, take goth rock, post-punk… Of course when you have such a wide palette, the whole is a bit fractured, but Necropolis has enough memorable moments that it is worth of checking. And Cosmos is still a fine song. Give Wither a try.
HORRENDOUS: The Chills (Dark Descent 2012)
I’m lagging behind with Horrendous. Dark Descent Records has pushed so many great releases out during this year so I just thought I’ll skip this band. Luckily The Chills found its way to my apartment, and now it has given me serious chills (eh pt. II)… Although you could say that everything has been done in the area of traditional (Swedish) death metal, this young US band shows that you can make miracles with old tricks too. This warmachine treads with crusty d-beat tempos and primitive riffs but they have a good taste with gloomy melodies and slower moments too. Think Autopsy for example, but this time more straight-forward and more dynamic. The drive on The Chills is so absolute that you just have to surrender to it and enjoy the ride. Although I have been looking at this recent USDM boom through slightly skeptical lenses, Horrendous bitchslaps me speechless with spikes, nails and broken glass.
UNCANNY: MCMXCI – MCMXCIV (Dark Descent 2012)
If the nice people of Dark Descent don’t introduce you new and shiny death metal bands, they drag some old gems to the sunlight. Uncanny was one of those countless death metal bands in Sweden in the beginning of the 90ies, and the band may be known for some because of the brothers Norrman (ex-Katatonia). Now Dark Descent has put about everything from this band into two discs, Splenium for Nyktophobia full-length (1994) being their masterpiece.
Well, Splenium for Nyktophobia doesn’t give you only classic Swedish dödsmetall but also sweet melodies, also from the depths of keyboards! This element injects a real drive to these songs, and these vicious hymns roll like a steam engine. Check for example a song called Timeless: a 100% instrumental, full of glorious solos and epic feeling! And Uncanny doesn’t shame its roots either – there are a few beats of grindcore and HC punk in the bowl too. Still every song from Splenium for Nyktophobia has the right to be on this album, and they make these 38 minutes very enjoyable.
The second disc includes two demos and a split with Ancient Rites and although this material has also some shiny pearls, it’s the full-length that makes this release worth of purchasing. Another example of how varied the Swedish scene was back in the days!