Buckle up, people cause we are going on one hell of a ride! Unlike 99.9 % of the situations where I present 1 CD at a time, today I’ll do 6 of them! As a matter of fact, the below mentioned albums have been all delivered by Ladlo Productions – a record label that I have written about multiple times already. Well known for its diverse collection of experimental and avant-garde artistry, the batch I’ve prepared for you will certainly make you curious to harvest their latest material. Without further useless rambling, let’s start off with the actual CDs.
Wildernessking – Mystical Future
Frankly, I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that Wildernessking derives from South Africa. This part of the globe does shine with its exotics but speaking of extreme music, well, at least on my map it has never been an attractive destination. Today, however, it surely made me think twice to take my time and dig up the hidden riches beneath the motionless sands. The first one to get my greedy hands on is “Mystical Future” – Wildernessking’s second full-length released in 2016.
Before this CD, I did not know anything further about this quartet but after doing some research, I concluded that their work is generally well accepted and for a good reason. The band was born in 2010 under the name Heathens but just a year later, stepped back and made a change. This was when Wildernessking rose from the ashes and lives on through their intense and vibrant legacy of avant-garde/post-black metal art.
“Mystical Future” primarily packs elements of post-rock and progressive metal blended with splendid atmosphere that that makes you soar above breathtaking landscapes. Indeed, it is quite evident that black metal takes a fair share in building the foundation of the album but I wouldn’t necessarily testify that it was the main focus of the band. I believe, pushing the boundaries through series of experiments was the ultimate milestone, which is what eventually came to be. A successful outcome delivering 5 songs of thought-provoking and highly emotional nature.
Although, it is nowhere close to the darker side of the genre, it captures the coldness of the human spirit that is gradually turning into figures of absolute indifference. In an alternative way, it makes you think of the world of now and then, our values and the direction we are headed to as a whole. Thanks to the masterfully composed instrumentals and the splendid vocals of melancholy, you will get into an indispensable state of the mind where emotions will guide you to all the truths. No more words, let the ride begin!
Barus – S/T [Free download]
Generally speaking, death metal is not my strong suite. However, I decided to make an exception as to Barus’ debut self-titled EP because it resonated with me for some weird reason. Plus, considering that it stands under the banner of Ladlo’s sub-label Emations, I got even more curious of what this piece of work was all about and here is what I bumped into.
Barus hails from France and by all means is a newborn act that is masterminded by 4 extremely talented gentlemen. Two of them (J and K) are associated with another highly potent band by the name of Maïeutiste. Having been conceived in 2015, they immediately unleashed their first short but explosive EP compiling 4 songs, which you can download for free below.
Right from the very start, the track list shapes into a titanic sonic wave of rapidly progressive brutality. Technical, somewhat complex to get into especially if you are distant to death metal but very rewarding if you spin it a few more times. After all, it takes just 20 minutes to complete all the 4 songs, so why not?
My first impression of “Barus” is the vast amount of ideas distributed between the instrumental work, the vocal approach and the lyrics. Starting from the music itself, it won’t get soft on you even for a second. Nor boring. The more you delve into it, the more pieces of the grand scheme will emerge, which essentially comes down to blowing your mind up! Apart from the heavy nature of the EP, it does not compromise on experimentation, thus offering a whole load of excitements such as unexpected clean vocals and djent elements that amplify the levels of intensity to a greater extend. As to the lyrics, I can only applaud Barus for taking the time to write such deep and meaningful words that reveal an introspective state of the mind; of life – and its burden and death – its virtues.
Lifestream – Post-Ecstatic Experience
Nearly 2 years ago, French act Lifestream brought their debut album “Post-Ecstatic Experience” to life and rapidly established quite an influencing presence in the extreme metal field. The ideas pieced together in a near flawless manner have ended up being a superb beginning of the band’s hopefully long and fruitful journey through self-discovery under the menacing banners of black metal!
At first glance, what immediately stands out is the striking cover artwork & layout, which is a deed by the mutual collaboration between Manu Pliszke and John A. from Otargos. Therein, beyond the strokes of ink lies the shadowy world of the main protagonist who’s been cast out of the light of the heaven – in damnation evil was ultimately crowned!
“Post-Ecstatic Experience” as a whole combines the beauty of emotion-driven poetry imbued by the darkest shades of black, in a nutshell. Thus, making the temptations, the pain and the perpetual fall in the quest of spiritual rising more than just evident – placing you right into the shoes of the protagonist. A life-like bittersweet introspection of Self.
Speaking of the fundamental ingredient – the music itself, is comprised of multi-layered components flowing together coherently. This is why the tracks sound so natural, musically abundant yet without going over the top. Ambience is the backbone of the album; in particular the eerie chants fading in and out gently, take the instrumental work to a higher level of richness. But that’s not all. It’s impossible to skip the addictive melodic riffage that Lifestream composed the entire track list around. I’d put them on a par with the thought-provoking lyrics, which undoubtedly must be paid their well deserved attention to. Believe me, it makes a huge difference as to how much you will grasp of the album.
Other than that, the instrumentals are firmly rooted in the black metal vein with a pinch of dirtiness in the sound production. Expect a range of blasting mid to fast-paced tempo drumming, masterpiece of guitar work and tortured vocals that carry out the heavy burden of a lost soul.
In Cauda Venerum, Heir and Spectrale [Split]
Honesty is the foundation I’ve built SBM on, so I gotta be straight forward as to the presentation of this 3-way split between the above mentioned French bands. I’ve had a hard time pulling out the right words to describe the CD objectively as only half of the content is my cup of tea (namely Heir and In Cauda Venerum). Not because the rest of the pieces are lacking quality but more like the gap between my preferences and the nature of the other musical compositions that are farther away from the conception of this blog.
Half of the split is focused on a mixture of acoustic instrumentals enriched by meditative melodies, aeriel atmospheres and vivid images carried through the artistic approach of Spectrale’s mastermind Jeff Grimal (The Great Old Ones). The music itself is transcending and otherworldly. However, nowhere close to black or even death metal as I made a few exceptions before. It is light in every aspect. Gentle and uplifting acoustic guitar lines define the core of the songs and the atmosphere is truly mind-blowing.
In Cauda Venerum participates with only one song that expands throughout nearly 15 minutes! I’d have loved it if they had more room for their artistry. Their craft borrows a number of influences wherein most evidently black metal and post-metal take share. Interestingly, the band has dedicated their piece to a fictional character named by Laura Palmer taken from the popular TV series Twin Peaks. In Cauda Venerum elaborates on her story and paints a mournful picture of her fragile life where at its heart lies self-destruction. Emotions of grief and distress are perfectly exemplified with the heavy usage of violion and aggressive mid-paced instrumentalism. Above all, the vocals is a key component expressing the complete and utter torment of what Laura’s life appeared to be.
Of all the three participants, Heir takes the lead when it comes to extremity. From intense black/thrash influences shifting to pounding sludge and then picking up mellow post-rock elements – it takes guts, skill and vision to blend so successfully all these genres and still deliver a great deal of heat! I would not be surprised if the band chooses to develop their upcoming works in a harsher manner because that’s certainly their thing. So far, Heir shows clearly their ability to balance between modern and oldschool sounding without hassle. I cannot wait to see what’s next!
Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Sampler V and VI [Free download]
Last but not the least is a final and quite grandeur summation that I cannot recommend enough to check out. Ladlo Productions have collected pieces of their best releases in 2 priceless free-to-download samplers. If by chance you are not familiar with any name of their roster, there is no better opportunity to taste their broad array of avant-garde/experimental releases mashed into one whole.
Although, I have these two in CD format, I am not really sure if they are still available. In case you are a collector like myself, better off get in touch on Facebook or Twitter. The label is very responsive, so they’ll get back to you in no time.
That’s it for now. Thanks to those of you who stretched to the bottom of this post. You can follow SBM on Twitter and Google+ as I sometimes post short updates when time is too short to write posts like this one.