Chuck Schuldiner Project

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Mosaic - Secret Ambrosian Fire

Most of what you need to know about Mosaic is encapsulated in the first three words of their Facebook about section. Written out in all caps is, "TRADITIONS. LEGENDS. MYSTICISM." and that's exactly what you get. This is a band who encapsulated the magic of German pagan black metal with grandiose production, a stunning list of guests (Including Empyrium's Schwadorf) and some emotionally potent songs. Though the band has been incredibly prolific over the years in releasing splits and EP's, Secret Ambrosian Fire is their first full length.

So yes - this record is grandiose and a touch pretentious. But you didn't pick up an album on Eisenwald with this type of art because you were looking for raw punk fury. Mosaic understand exactly what their audience want and revel in giving it to them. Secret Ambrosian Fire is a masterful offering. Project mastermind Martin Van Valkenstijn is the sort of iconoclastic genius who molds black metal for his larger vision. The approach he brings to the table here is holistic, coming across in all aspects of the record. There are so many layers here and the overall execution leads to a magical atmosphere.

Secret Ambrosian Fire is a thrilling work. It's a record that seems to continuously raise the bar for what has long been one of Germany's most respected pagan black metal exports. The sheer artistry delivered here is thrilling. This is a work that sits alongside other great classics of the German metal canon, nad its focus on tradition carries it back even further into the legacy of high art music. While Secret Ambrosian Fire may not be an easy listen it is a thrilling one which will fascinate devotees for years to come.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Les Chants Du Hasard - Livre Second

Now THIS is a record. A fascinating mix of classical music with a black metal ethos and twisted vocals, Les Chants Du Hasard come into their own on Livre Second. This is a record that owes just as much to 'Night On A Bare Mountain' as it does to the work of Ulver. An avant garde masterpiece that effortlessly fuses the work of early 20th centuries like composers like Prokofiev and Mussorgsky with black metal leanings this is one of the weirdest and most interesting records that I have heard all year.

Livre Second is wonderfully unsettling. This is a record that seems to revel in it's Rite Of Spring-esque protest against all we hold sacred. The harsh vocals layered on top of some very intense orchestral compositions feels fundamentally wrong. This is a record that will put your skin on edge the same way Lou Reed's masterpiece Metal Machine Music does. It's an album that doesn't want to play by the rules but which instead proves that there are unique new directions for both black metal and classical music. This is perhaps one of the most pure marriages that I have ever heard of classical and black metal.

What's delightful here is that Livre Second is an exhausting listen. This is an album with countless layers that demands your attention. The musical approach brought to the table by Les Chants Du Hasard is iconoclastic. It's the sort of thing that many have attempted to emulate in the past, but which it seems only this project has been able to accurately bring to fruition. Livre Second came out a few weeks ago - but I'm glad I took the time for it as this is absolutely a must listen in 2020 for any classical music and black metal fan.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Saligia - Vesaevus

It's hard to believe that Saligia have been hard at it for 13 years now. This is a band who have, in their own words, 'embraced the pain of death.' Their brand of occult black metal has always been fascinating and it's a perfect fit for Van Records. This is the sort of raw, and yet simultaneously artsy wizardry that I have come to love the label for. While on the one hand this feels incredibly authentic and honest, their latest offering, Vesaevus also seems to stand as an exciting hint at what more is to come from the band.

Vesaevus is pointed in its emotional assault. This is a record that goes for the throat almost eagerly on tracks like 'Draining The Well.' Not coincidentally this is perhaps the most straight up black metal track on the record. Saligia seem to dart from peak to peak on this album showing that they have a deep understanding of the over the top emotional outpourings that make black metal such an interesting genre. The simple honesty of their music and the moments where the harsh growls turn into very human shouts help to put this over the edge as an album that seems to reflect something about us all.

This is a record that definitely encourages you to get lost in the weeds. Vesaevus shows us that Saligia are more than just black metal upstarts. This is a band who are unrepentant in their occult black metal assault. They are eagerly spitting in the face of god and frequently turning it up as far a the knob will go. Their balance of artistry and primal headbanging slaughter is thrilling. This is another gem in the crown of Van Records - a reminder that this is one of the most perfectly curated labels in the game right now.

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Zarraza - Rotten Remains

Kazakhstan isn't exactly a locale known for its metal. Zarraza though are seeking the change that. After eight years of grinding it out the band is reaching new heights with their punishing groove metal assault. While bands like Lamb Of God are clearly a huge influence here it's also apparent that Zarraza have spent time with Pantera, Exhorder and Machine Head. The high powered delivery of this latest EP, Rotten Remains is sure to fascinate the listener and inspire fierce mosh pits across the globe with its re-recordings of the bands old material.

Even from the opening chugs of 'Xaoc' it's clear that Rotten Remains is a step forward from what the band first layed down all those years ago. The brutarian stomp that has come to define the band is on full display. Yet - they also eagerly embrace flashy solos, as they do on album closer, 'wRRong Song' and seem to have really tightened up their songwriting across the board. These are snappy metal anthems that allow you to dive into the pit, get your head crushed in and then step out. Toss in a few touches of Central Asian music (I love the jaw harp on The Grudge) and you have yourself a party! Almaty may not exactly be a hub for metal but Zarraza don't let it limit them, showing that they can put out material that is as hard hitting and meaningful as their western contemporaries.

One thing that really strikes me is how far this band has come in terms of production value. Frequently metal bands from Central Asia suffer from poor production due to a general lack of studios and expensive gear. Zarraza have clearly made an effort to go above and beyond here to craft a record that captures every stop/start riff and which can turn on a dime. Rotten Remains is a thoroughly exciting listen that steps up the intensity from these Kazakh metal warriors who simply refuse to take your shit.

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Skullcrush - Archaic Towers Of Annihilation

Raw Skullz Records and Redefining Darkness are rapidly becoming two of my favorite death metal labels in the world. Both have very impressive catalogs and seem to find no end of sick and twisted riffs to crack skulls with. This latest collaborative offering from the labels, Skullcrush's Archaic Towers Of Annihilation only serves to add to that legacy. It is a clear step forward from the bands masterful 2018 EP, Visions Of The Firestorm Eclipse and hints at so much more to come for these riff merchants.

Even from the opening drum salvo of 'Dawn Of Sin And Everlasting Torture' it is fairly clear that Skullcrush are here to well... crush your skull. This is a band who trade on guitar tone, capturing the new wave of OSDM aesthetic so nicely defined by acts like Gatecreeper and Vastum. The circle pit inspiring madness of these songs and their byzantine song structures serves to create a devastating offering. There is a sense of fun here too that I think can't be ignored. You can practically see the guitarists throwing shapes with the hard rocking riffage on a Foretoken Punishment, it's simply addictive!

This is a record that understands the breadth of the death metal genre. Even the interlude track, 'Halting The Ascension Of Corroded Light' is tastefully put together. While usually the group goes for raw death metal brutality at times they can turn around and unleash something a little more sick and twisted. Archaic Towers Of Annihilation is simply a fun listen that brings the stomp and is unafraid to go for the gut plain and simple. This is a band who nicely distill the magic of death metal and will twist your neck while doing it.

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