Announcement: Now Officially on Facebook!

Yes, folks, you read the title right. I am now on Facebook! Well, I’ve always had a personal one, it’s nothing ”new” to me, I’m talking about one for this blog. This is the official Facebook page for Thy Kingdom Scvm!

On here i’ll be linking my latest reviews, rants and other posts, sharing some music and just bullshitting around, really. This is basically my new personal account too. I barely use my personal one anymore. So… yeah.

Anyway, the link is right below. Click it, like my page and enjoy! New reviews coming this weekend.

Thy Kingdom Scvm on FB

Until next time, you fucks!

-Scvm

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Album Thoughts | Netra: Ingrats (Hipster Week Bonus!)

Oh, you thought it was over? Well, it is… after this. A bonus! Because I thought of this album right in the middle of the week and decided to add it because it fits right the fuck in.

This is a the new album (third one) by French one-man experimental project Netra, and to call it experimental would be the mother of all understatements. This dude plays a style that mixes together Black Metal, Trip Hop, Ambient, Electronica and anything else under the sun that he can use. Now, that may sound like a turnoff to most, it did for me too, but I heard about this a couple months back and thought about giving it a listen out of sheer curiosity, but a bunch of other albums that I would much rather listen to came first and I just never got around to it. However, as this week came about, as I was getting ready to listen to the 5 other opuses that I scheduled for the week, it popped into my mind, and I said ”oh, fuck it” and added it in at the last minute, again, because it fit right in and was the perfect chance to give it a listen. So, I finally did… and just like A Pregnant Light was able to pull off for me, this album had me both pleasantly surprised and intrigued upon first listen.

This is a special kind of experimental for Black Metal. Before I get into anything else, let me first say, that this album is mostly instrumental with the exception of 4 tracks and it’s not a full-blown Black Metal album. Also, let me say right off the bat, that the Black Metal element on here… is fucking phenomenal! The opening track Everything’s Fine is a vicious and super fucking sharp assault of what I can only describe as Lifelover on steroids. It’s just a flurry of super sharp old school blackened riffs, super fast blastbeats and insanely vicious, dramatic, tortured shrieks. Reminded me a lot of Lifeover and Psychonaut 4. There’s also clean vocals in kind of broken English that remind me of Niklas from Shining. Also a plus. That showed me straight away that this guy knows what the hell he’s doing when it comes to Black Metal and what it sounds like and he’s not just some hack. The blending of elements of Trip Hop and Ambient really come into play with the next track and continue on through the rest of the album. Each following track is a composition of trippy beats, synths and Black Metal style riffs all rolled into one, and honestly, I fucking liked it. It’s all well put together and done in a unique and innovative way that he makes work.

The next track, Underneath My Words, the Ruins of Yours, is a slow and catchy instrumental that mixes a synth-laden beat and somber riffs. Pretty unique and I enjoyed it. Then we have Live With It; a fully sung, trip-hoppy tune with keyboards and synths that has a nice, catchy flow to it and then later breaks into blastbeats and faster programming. Good track. Then there’s possibly my favorite of the instrumentals, Don’t Keep Me Waiting; a slow, doomy mix of guitars, drums, synths and all sorts of weird stuff thrown in that has a pretty cool reoccurring riff all throughout. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve is also a great track with a lot going on, but in a very organized and interesting way. Especially the harsh vocals over the weird, trippy beat towards the end. It all ends with Jusqu’au-Boustiste, which is a composition of weird beats, blastbeats and some spoken-word clips. Really good closer.

Overall, like I said, this album had me entrenched in doubt going in, but it turned out to be a very intriguing listen. Not my favorite style by a long shot, but good for what it was. My only big complaints here is that I wish there were less instrumentals and much more aggressive Black Metal like that blistering opener implemented, but it is what it is. Again, this dude clearly knows what he’s doing and a lot of what he creates reminds me of many of my other newer favorites like the ones mentioned in the previous paragraphs. This is a trippy, out there and ballsy approach to Depressive Black Metal and Black Metal as a whole and I added it to this week because I can easily see it being written off as Hipster drivel. Understandably so, but I enjoyed it. Certainly not for everyone, but worth at least one good listen.

That wraps up Hipster Week, folks. For those who read all these reviews, I want to first apologize for subjecting you to all the madness of the Hipster Metal circle of hell all throughout this week, and if you did read them, I want to thank you for doing so and for sticking around and reading my blog in general. You the real MVPs. Fear not, comrades (i’m not a commie, don’t worry), this week i’ll be taking a break, but next week, i’ll be back with reviews of some more of the finest Black, Death and Thrash Metal albums 2017 has to offer thus far, including the new offerings by Nargaroth, Impetuous Ritual, Funeralium, Goatwhore, Municipal Waste, Tankard and much more. So be on the lookout. Thank you for reading my ramblings and I hope you stay for more. One love.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Ghost Bath: Moonlover (Hipster Week)

Day 5 of Hipster Week.

If it feels as if I’ve talked about Ghost Bath not too long ago, it’s because I did. About a month or so ago I reviewed their newest outing Starmourner. We all know what my thoughts were on that one. It wasn’t bad or terrible, but it was disappointing. To summarize, It had too much of a light-hearted, ”uplifting” feel to it and not enough bleakness. Another reason it was disappointing is was because it was kind of a step down from this album, which is far superior, in my opinion.

Moonlover is the 2015 sophomore album by the North Dakota bunch that really caught people’s eye and got the ball rolling for them… well, either that or the whole not really being Chinese thing. Either way, it worked. Anyway, I listened to this album again, for the first time in quite a while, and I was actually shocked at how much better it is than Starmourner. This album is much bleaker and darker-toned than it’s successor and as a result, is much more enjoyable. The lighter riffs are still present, but not over-emphasized and overdone. This album is more of a showcasing of the darker, bleaker side of the band’s style. Even the cover art is evident of that. As a result of this, the band’s sound is a lot more tolerable to my ears. Musically, these guys get put on the same boat as Deafheaven, and I get that comparison, but to me, their on a level higher than those mooks. Ghost Bath actually adds some sort of versatility and depth to their sound and aren’t exhaustively repetitive. Harsh to say, sure, but damn true.

The only track on here that I can even moderately diss is opener Golden Number, but only because of that infamous drippy riff it has, you know which one i’m talking about. Aside from that though, I can’t really shit on it much. Pretty good track overall. Then we have Happyhouse, which opens with a pretty cool riff and has a slow, doomy pace to it. Probably my favorite track, despite it’s name. Then after two more decent instrumentals, we have another doomy song in The Silver Flower pt. 2 and the mid-paced, satisfying closer Death and the Maiden, both songs round up the album really well and comlpete the package of the dreary piece of work this album is. I know I might get some shit for praising something made by this band, but fuck it. I enjoy them. I was disappointed by their latest album, but this one and the last one are what keep me interested.

So again, regardless of how you feel about this band and the shenanigans they pulled before everyone knew they were a bunch of white dudes from North Dakota, or how you feel about this sub-section of Black Metal as a whole, this is a really damn good album and a MUCH better outing than their latest one. I feel like they deserve more credit for their earlier works and hearing this album again after hearing Starmourner really drove that point home for me. Hipsters? Maybe, but good at what they do? I sure as hell think so. If you disagree, that’s fine, different strokes, but these folks are talented and are levels above most of their peers. Regardless of how their latest effort turned out, i’m still a fan and I hope their next one is an improvement. Until then, i’ll just keep enjoying this and Funeral. Worth it.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | A Pregnant Light: My Game Doesn’t Have a Name (Hipster Week)

Day 4 of Hipster Week! This one may shock you.

Going into this one, I had a feeling… a funny feeling… a sneaking suspicion… that I would end up liking it. Well, alas. This is the 2014 debut full-length by Grand Rapids, Michigan Post-Black Metal act A Pregnant Light. Now, right the fuck off the bat, two things about this album can and will be very off-putting to a lot of people: The cover art and the title. Understandably so. I was no exception to that. I wasn’t expecting any more out of this one than I was out of the last three this week that I reviewed so far, plus, I know the expected reaction from me would most definitely be to absolutely shit on it. Well, prepare to be disappointed. I actually liked it! Yeah, I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. This is an album that on the surface looks like something that appeals to modern millennial artist types that I would totally blow off at first glance, and maybe in a way it is that, but thanks to what i’m doing here this week, I actually gave it a shot and found a hidden treasure of audio gold.

I wouldn’t necessarily call the style that A Pregnant Light plays ”Black Metal”, although it does exhibit some Black Metal aesthetics. It reminds me of the latest Oathbreaker album, Rheia. It’s more on the Hardcore/Post-Hardcore spectrum but with Black Metal style riffs and occasional blastbeats, and honestly, I enjoyed it. It’s pretty well done and doesn’t try to blatantly pass itself off as Black Metal at all. It’s it’s own style and presence and it borrows just a few Black Metal elements and doesn’t over use them. The songs are mainly mid-paced and are pretty catchy and had me jamming. There are also occasional blastbeats and tremolo riffs that aren’t overly done and actually compliment the core style in a very unique way. It’s sort of hard to explain but it works. Even in the vocals, that are basically just raspy yells, aren’t trying to sell this as a Black Metal album. At the beginning of opener Unreachable Arc, I wasn’t sure which direction this would go, but I was pleased with the result. That track is the absolute tone-setter of what was to come and my liking for it. Very similar to the latest Oathbreaker.

This album epitomizes what was missing from the last three albums that I’ve reviewed already this week; good production that matches well with the band’s sound and it’s not repetitive and it doesn’t try too hard to be something it’s not. The overall sound is melancholic but very abrasive and coarse and the production is just as well done and meshes almost perfectly with it. As presented right from the jump with the opener and continued with tracks like Born to Ruin and Dream Addict, a perfect balance is met between atmosphere and aggressiveness and neither overshadow the other. There’s even a good balance between sweet, sugary riffs and grooves and tremolo picking and blastbeats and it’s all put together so cohesively and the even the vocals fit it like a fucking glove. There are even the occasional clean vocals in Circle of Crying Women and You Cut Me from a Magazine I Didn’t Know That I Was In, that are tolerable and super elusive all throughout the album. Things close up with the spoken-word Purple Light, which is a satisfying closer. I’m not going to mention every single track on the album, I can pretty much say the same thing about all of them, but this album is absolutely a gem beneath an uninteresting surface.

So here it is! The first album of the bunch this week that I can honestly and positively praise and give all the credit in the world to. This album had me groaning with disinterest going in and completely and utterly surprised me once the layers were pulled back. This is a great album with a distinct style that doesn’t try to bullshit you into thinking it’s one specific thing and takes elements from a multitude of different styles and genres and blends them into something interesting. It’s a well-structured style that strikes a fair middle ground between dreary and aggressive and totally transcends the usual dull, lifeless, squeaky-clean style that we’re used to getting from a majority of these artsy fartsy Hipster Metal acts. This may be blasphemous and profane on my part and it may make some of you purists shit your britches, but I enjoyed this one and this individual has made a fan out of me. I don’t subscribe to the whole ”don’t judge a book by it’s cover” rubbish, but in this case, I was wrong.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Myrkur: M (Hipster Week)

Welcome to day 3 of Hipster Week. As I said in my Liturgy review, next we have the most controversial release by the most controversial artist of the Hipster Metal movement thus far. I’m sure we all knew where it was going next. Well, here we are.

So, I talked at length about Myrkur and the fuckery that she’s brought with her name in my Hipster Metal rant to kick off the week, so i’m not going to get into that again. This will be purely about the music itself. This album particularly. M is her 2015 debut full-length, which as we know, features Garm from Ulver handling the production and original Ulver guitarist Håvard Jørgensen and Teloch from Mayhem (guitarist on Esoteric Warfare) on guitars. Interesting lineup. Going into this one, despite all the drama and outrage, I was giving the product of this collaboration a fair shake. It’s been a couple years since I heard one or two of the tracks off this album, so my memory of it was a little rusty. Honestly, I wish I would have just stuck with that memory.

Again this is not a biased opinion based on the backstory of this album, it’s purely music-based. This album bored me to tears. It’s dull, the guitars and drums sound sterile and lifeless, the production sounds artificial and there’s just nothing memorable at all here. I get that they were going for an atmospheric feel here, and i’m not sure if the idea was to duplicate the early Ulver style, but with a more Shoegazy dynamic, maybe like a ”passing of the torch” type deal, but it just didn’t work here. I will praise one thing: Amalie’s vocals here are actually really good. Harsh and clean. Not sure if it’s due to a huge amount of studio effects or whatever, but the vocals are pretty much the only saving grace here, a blasphemous as that might be to say, i’m just calling it how I hear it. Everything else is just poorly done. If they wanted to make an Atmospheric Black Metal album, they should have gone the route of Winterfylleth or Saor. Or even Wolves in the Throne Room. That would have worked much better. What they actually went for just sounds bland and overly distorted.

As far as riffs go, again, the guitars sound sterile and have little to no intensity to them, so the riffs aren’t much here, aside from the opening one to Mordet. That was a pretty good old school-style riff. As far as the rest of the songs go, I haven’t mentioned any of them because they just weren’t memorable enough. The only other one I kinda remember is Vølvens Spådom, which is this loud, almost church-like operatic track hat just features her and keyboards. Nothing too special at all.

Overall, i’m not going to spend too much time on this album because it just wasn’t memorable enough to do so. This was a boring, dull and forgettable offering of Atmospheric Shoegaze Black Metal that could have been much better with better production. Not sure what idea Garm had in mind but to me it wasn’t the right one. I was as fair as I can be for this album, despite all the outrage and Amalie Bruun’s real motives for making this kind of music, but even if she were a tried and true Black Metal musician, I likely still wouldn’t be a fan.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Liturgy: The Ark Work (Hipster Week)

Welcome back to Hipster Week. After the dull artiness of Sunbather, next I throw myself into something even fucking more jumbled and incoherent. The second of this batch of albums is the latest outing by Brooklyn, NY’s (*deep sigh*) Liturgy, titled The Ark Work. Liturgy is the band that rose to infamy with the release of, not one of their albums, but the manifesto written by singer Hunter Hunt-Hendrix called Transcendental Black Metal, about Black Metal viewed through the eyes of a pseudo-intellectual philosophy major with a degree you can’t do shit with besides use to wipe your ass or flip burgers, to which of course, was met with harsh criticism and ridicule by a majority of the Black Metal ”community”. Well, I chose this album because I wanted to hear exactly what Transcendental Black Metal is, and honestly, I went into it with my mind as open as can be. I gave it a fair shake and wondered if I would end up liking it. Well, obviously that’s not what happened.

This album, while it isn’t repetitive and insipid like Deafheaven’s pretty pink bore of an album, it isn’t anything creative and well put together either. The only way I can describe this band’s style is a weird mix of light-hearted Black Metal tremolo riffs, muddy blastbeats here and there, strange, auto-tuned vocals and a bunch of other noisy shit like artificial sounding synths, horns and keyboards all just thrown the fuck together for no apparent reason. It’s like a messy mix of Black Metal, Shoegaze, Electronica, Trip-Hop and whatever else these buffoons can pull out of their ass to throw into the mix and call ”creative” or ”experimental”. It starts off with Fanfare, which sounds like the intro to a newscast. Just a bunch of synths and horns galore. Then come Follow and Kel Valhaal, which are pretty much the same jumbled messes of tracks with tremolo riffs, blastbeats and all those extra elements just thrown together and topped off with those weird auto-tuned vocals spouting off some nonsense.

Now I will admit, there is one track that I liked; Quetzalcoatl, which has this pretty cool, almost Trip-Hop style beat to it that actually make the vocals and weird tremolos work. It had me jamming a little bit, so it wasn’t bad. There are also a few okay moments where this formula did work, like some of the pretty intros, like the ones to Follow II and Reign Array. Again, credit where it’s due, but the product as a whole just doesn’t do it for me. To me, it’s this weird, allover the place, Avant Garde, artsy mess of an album that I can’t even bring myself to even include Black Metal in my description of it. It’s loud, it’s annoying, it’s too sugary-sweet and optimistically-toned and it’s boring, with very few exceptions. Especially tracks like Vitriol, where the title is just repeated over and over again with some nonsensical banter in between.

(Most flattering picture of them I could find)

So, that was album number two of the five (maybe) for this special week. What a brutal ride it’s been so far. Just a couple more to go. I actually had some hope with this one that maybe i’d end up liking it, but again, much like Sunbather, it falls flat on it’s face. It’s more versatile and out there, unlike that album, sure, but not really in a good way. This album is a mess with way too much going on at once in every track and it’s both boring and annoying all at once. Sorry, but if this is what Transcendental “Black Metal” is, then i’m gonna have to pass on it. Hard.

This was day 2 of Hipster Week. Join me tomorrow as I review perhaps the most controversial album of the bunch by the most controversial artist of the Hipster Metal movement thus far. I’m sure you know who I mean.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Deafheaven: Sunbather (Hipster Week)

Welcome to Hipster Week. This is the first of the five albums that i’m listening to and reviewing this week just for the fuck of it and for your entertainment. And what better album to start it off with than the most notorious album to come out of the whole Hipster Black Metal movement of the last five years? That’s right, the pretty, pink album cover that haunts every Black Metal purists dreams. I’m talking about none other than the infamous piece of IPA-drinking, suspenders-wearing, good city-ruining, short-haired, bearded whiny millennial art, Sunbather.

The sophomore album by San Francisco’s Deafheaven is without a doubt one of the most polarizing releases in recent years. On one hand, since it’s release in 2013, it has been subject to a lot or praise and adulation by more open-minded folk in the scene, and on the other hand, it has been the center of ridicule and scorn among those who prefer the darker and more traditional approach to Black Metal. I personally never gave enough of a shit about it to give it a full-on listen to find out where I stand with it until now. Boy, did I ever find out. As I said in my Hipster Week announcement, I will be giving each album an honest and non-biased review, positive or negative, so that’s exactly what i’m doing here. In all honesty, I stand on the side of the latter. This album was NyQuil for me from start to finish. I found this album boring, repetitive and in the same vein as the latest Ghost Bath album. A few god moments here and there, but ultimately falling flat on what it was trying to accomplish.

The first biggest flaw of this album is repetitiveness. Right from the start of Dream House, you’re beaten over the head with the same blastbeats and overly-cheery riffs under a dreary atmosphere that tries to create a weird marriage of light-heartedness and melancholia. There are some interesting moments and a couple decent tracks that i’ll get into in just a moment, but other than that, it’s just repetitive blastbeat-laden, Shoegazy Post-Black Metal similar to Ghost Bath or Wolves in the Throne Room but done not nearly as well. Ghost Bath at least have some level of versatility to their style, even with the similar flaws they exhibit. The super sweet, sugary riffs and melodies come off as corny and trying to hard to be light-hearted and uplifting and the atmosphere and over-used drum patterns in the same tempo just makes it worse. There’s nothing that stands out on any of these tracks and it bored me to tears all the way throughout. Don’t even get me started on the whiny lyrics.

In all honesty, the best tracks on the album are the last two of the three instrumentals. Please Remember is a weird, sort of poetic spoken word passage with some interesting, darker-toned melodies backing it and Window is sort of the same thing, but with some weird audio clips. These are the only two tracks that really peaked my interest to the highest level possible for this album. Not bad. Another thing I will commend is the vocals. Aside from the music itself and how I feel about it, the vocals are actually pretty damn good. The guy has a good set of pipes. Credit where it’s due, but it isn’t nearly enough to save the album altogether.

So, like I said, these albums are getting 100% honest, down-the-middle reviews (like all my reviews and rants on this blog), and this is as honest as I can get for this album. It has it’s good moments and a couple interesting tracks, and some of the melodies are pretty and the shrieked vocals are really good, but overall, it falls flat and I just couldn’t get into it. It’s a repetitive sleeping pill of an album that tries way too hard to be artsy and different but doesn’t do enough to add any versatility to it’s style to keep the listener’s attention. I didn’t really get the appeal of this band to begin with and now that I’ve given this album a full listen in it’s entirety, I get it even less. I could have ended up liking it if there was some sort of versatility or at least some sort of balance between light and dark. Again, I did enjoy the darker riffs on those two instrumentals, but that was about it. Maybe New Bermuda is better. Maybe i’ll give that one a listen too, but for now, when it comes to Deafheaven, it’s a no for me.

-Until next time.

-Scvm