Svart Records Promo Roundup: Speedtrap, Abyssion, Sabbath Assembly And The Exploding Eyes Orchestra
I like Svart Records, not that anybody would’ve really had a chance to miss that. The good people over at Svart seem to know this and have once again graced the Toilet with a bunch of music. The label’s never been content to limit itself as a super-raw black metal cassette tape distributor (which, ironically, might be the only damn thing Svart hasn’t released yet). The variety of their releases is apparent on this bunch alone with the bands ranging from speed metal to psychedelic blackness. I will keep these short this time around, because they’re all pretty good and worth devoting time to. I think most of you will find something to like here. Please do.
SPEEDTRAP – STRAIGHT SHOOTER
Look at Speedtrap’s name, look at Straight Shooter’s cover, listen to the embed below, tell me you didn’t know what it was going to be like. That’s the strength of Speedtrap; no nonsense old school speed metal, a rocking dose amidst, and even some punk-ish fury. Their line-up challenges some lesser supergroups (lesser in name that is): vocalist and guitarist, Jori Sara-Aho and Ville Valavuo from Death Toll 80K, bassist Antti Salminen formerly of Hooded Menace and guitarist Jaakko Hietikangas formerly of Ranger.
It is the latter-most band Speedtrap get referred to most often. It is not entirely untrue either. If Ranger had not fined down their rough edges and given up the sharpest screams they might sound somewhat alike to Speedtrap, though talking about a genre as constricted as speed metal the two bands have managed to stay at a relatively impressive distance from each other.
Straight Shooter might be a more mature effort than its predecessor, Powerdose, but it is never less frenetic. The maturity comes forward in a different manner, increased variation in songwriting, more distinctively different songs – there’s more than seven bangers and a rocker to this album – and a second guitarist make Straight Shooter their best effort. The rocking side of the band has been mixed with the metallic one, resulting in a more Motörhead-like sound. On s few occasions there’s an almost HC-like fervor in the band’s playing, whereas “Heavy Armor” creates contrast by utilizing a lower vocal range on top of the band’s vicious, high octane rock’ n roll.
Look for the riffing numbers, “Savage The Prey” and “Running Rampant”.
ABYSSION – LUONNON HARMONIA JA VIHREÄ LIEKKI
My initial interest in this release was great, boasting members of Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising – a combination that has yielded great results before. I had never heard of Abyssion before Khvost signed them to his new Svart imprint, Secret Trees, but apparently Luonnon Harmonia Ja Vihreä Liekki is already the band’s third release. The black metal contained within is laden with echoing vocals, effects, cosmic swoo-swahs and hypnotic riffs. Think of Oranssi Pazuzu’s latest mixed with some Nachtmystium. Purists are likely to not enjoy LHJVL, but the picturesque monotone contained therein achieves such atmosphere in its hypnotic but raw songs, fewer and fewer are able to reach into the same heights with their craft.
In the vocal department especially there’re traces of a punk-ier approach to be detected, quite a lot actually. While this punk-ness doesn’t really carry into the songs themselves, there is a coarse (scabrous?) quality to the music that has hardly been present since the days of old Darkthrone.
LHJVL feels longer than it is, yet less than 30 minutes after pressing play – it is over. Despite sounding raw, the production is clear – the hypnotic riffwork is well balanced with the simple drumming and effects/electronics never drowning in the seas of sound, only the reverberating vocals are off-putting and too loud in the mix (which would be fine if they weren’t so goddamn echoing all the time), but even that isn’t a great flaw.
SABBATH ASSEMBLY – S/T
Sabbath Assembly started in ’09 as a project between Jex Thoth, Kevin Rutmanis, Imaad Wasif and Dave Nuss. In the same year they released an excellent demo called Eno Ot Derotser. Their music of choice was somewhat acoustic (with violins, organs and all that jazz) and psychedelic hymns of… Process Church of The Final Judgement? Thoth was replaced by Jamie Myers, whom I feel fits the music better, in 2011, and the line-up has been revamped completely by now. Joining Myers and Nuss are Johnny DeBlase, Eva Vonne and Kevin Hufnagel (yes, that K. Hufnagel).
And they decided to go metal, fuck. But Sabbath Assembly recalls the music they used to make and fortunately not one bit of the “let’s do drugs and praise God, Lucifer is great”- vibe is lost, except the lyrics no longer concern said church. They are more honest and direct, “the mysteries of occult philosophy are revealed not through celestial charts and diagrams, but rather the subtleties of earthly love and loss”*.
Many of the songs feel disjointed but with Jamie Myer’s hypnotizing voice and Kevin Hufnagel’s intriguing guitar-work adds to the charm. I’d probably enjoy this album a lot more if every moment wasn’t reminding me of how much more I dug their previous work. A good and interesting album marred by the weight of the name bestowed upon visage.
The Exploding Eyes Orchestra – I
The Exploding Eyes Orchestra was born when Thomas Corpse (Deathchain, Jess And The Ancient Ones) found himself writing songs that weren’t quite fitting for JATAO (much less for Deathchain), and he decided form a collective of musicians with members coming and going free-er than in a regular band, to fulfill his needs.
I, recorded alongside the band’s sophomore album, borrows from JATAO’s pocket (and consists of five of the latter’s seven members) but switches the psychedelia into more straightforward rock. Opener, “The Smoke” most clearly hearkens back to the project’s main band. It is a 70’s style piece with driving bass and with a healthy touch of Hammond organ.
I often found myself pining for songs as good as the singer with JATAO, but The Exploding Eyes Orchestra delivers from the start. While the uptempo numbers like “My Father The Wolf”, the aforementioned opener and “Two-Zero 13” are all good, it’s the slower numbers that really get to me. “Drawing Down The West”, with its apocalyptic visions and the (pun alert:) exploding jam-part where everyone really attempts to do what the title suggests, “Crazy Heart” with its soaring chorus and trumpets and “Farewell To All-In-One”, a somber yet relaxed number that closes the album.
At times the album sounds like Chrissie Hynde got really drunk and decided to record an album after a hard night of karaoke, but apart from the post-punk-like “Two-zero 13”, it’s hard to see what really separates this from main band. Mostly I sounds like it could have been the next step in JATAO’s evolution. Oh well, maybe the upcoming albums will further set the two bands apart.