[review] ULTRAMANTIS BLACK – UltraMantis Black EP (2014)


UltraMantis Black EP
(Relapse Records – 2014)

What do you get when you cross a pro-wrestler with a punk hardcore band? That’s right; you get a punk hardcore band with a pro-wrestler as its singer! Mask galore and all! It seems like a stretched idea or something out of a comedy sketch, but the thing is both Ultramantis Black (the wrestler) and Pissed Jeans (the band behind the music) have been around long enough to dive head first in whatever projects they see fit for their cultural and artistic development. Beside all that, I do consider myself as a punk hardcore fan and my days in the couch watching pro-wrestling are not that far gone in the past, so this could be a two-in-one situation regarding my personal taste.

Let’s put personal taste aside for a while and get down to this self-titled debut. Ultramantis Black (the wrestler) has been on top of his game in the past ten years but had an urge to spew out a collection of political manifests of fury and enlisted the musical aid of Pissed Jeans to better frame the high energy influenced songs delivered in this nine track EP. One of the first thoughts I had listening to these songs was how close this could be of a modern Bad Brains emulation, with fast tracks, angry vocals and a spasmodic approach to rhythm patterns. Fury indeed. Other influences they also showcase and don’t shy about mention names like Melt Banana which I totally understand, along with the straightedge-sounding thing.

Lyrically, everything is politics oriented and you can almost smell the late 80’s, early 90’s, when political hardcore was on a rampage and across the globe you could catch this kind of message delivering system: short fast songs and the will to change the world! Are you ready to rumble?

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] UBUREN – Withered Roots (2014)

# UBUREN - withered roots (2014)

Withered Roots
(independent – 2014)

The meaning of the name UBUREN has a very unsettling source, according to some records it means something like being cast out. In the Norse mythology context, when desperate mothers who didn’t see any other way out for their weak and unwanted babies, they would throw them off the edge of the mountain. Holy shit! Not a good way to start a childhood memory, but a good enough setup for this trio coming from the city Sandnes (Norway).

This is their debut album, after a first EP released a couple of years ago, which you can find almost in its entirety within these tracks because all but one song from that EP made their way into this new recording. So, in that sense, “Whitered Roots” revisits their first steps while introducing new music to the picture. The music itself is more or less a hybrid between black metal and something that is commonly known as Viking metal, both parts with equal importance in UBUREN’s identity but the ancestral influence is way more present, given the fact that the lyrical content is focused on Norse history and mythology, as far as I can tell.

Sometimes ritual sounding, while others bringing a more martial atmosphere upfront, these songs also hide a small amount of sadness turned into rage with some melodic underlining to shield the entire thing together. Glorifying their ancestral past with songs of praise and tale and melting the harsh delivery of black and pagan metal, UBUREN’s “Withered Roots” stands as an interesting piece of Viking themed underground music.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] TRIGANT – Wolves EP (2013)

# TRIGANT - wolves EP (2013)

Wolves EP
(independent – 2013)

This German band decided not to sell themselves short and, with attitude in mind, named their first 2011 demo as ‘The Legendary Demo Tape’! I haven’t heard any of those four songs, so my first introduction with TRIGANT is based solely on the ones featured in the present EP. I can’t tell how this band has evolved from one release to another, but I hope they can take ‘Wolves’ as another step in their maturing process, because they’re not quite there yet.

You see, every song has an interesting start and the only problem is, when you think the energy’s about to make its entrance, everything becomes stale very fast. They don’t seem to capitalize on what the opening riffs could bring them. Even the drums dynamic is kind of lost in there. They can keep the beat, but do little to nothing to make it more interesting and vibrant. Everything sounds a bit cold.

Peter Czerniak’s vocals seemed a little off, I don’t mean they’re out of tune, but it looks like someone is trying too much and the aftermath doesn’t sound like it belongs there. The same goes for some of the backing vocals they laid down, for example, in the song ‘Reflection’. The same thing happens again when ‘Disembodied’ gets to its singing parts. The song actually has a nice 90’s Metallica sounding riff (this idea gets reinforced once it gets to the solo bit), but it’s hard not to think that the vocal delivery could be well improved. That’s really what’s left once these four tracks become silent, a much needed energy boost and some rethinking regarding the vocal parts.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] REAPER’S RIDDLE – Game Over EP (2014)

# REAPERS RIDDLE - game over EP [2014]

Game Over EP
(Firestarter – 2014)

Here’s a nice little taste cleanser to chew on between the death and black metal of the last days. REAPER’S RIDDLE is a rock/metal band coming all the way down from Perth (Australia) and this is the latest EP on their way to an album release expected to drop sometime next year. They’ve been together since 2009 and were to build a solid name for themselves during these last few years.

“Game Over” is a five track plus intro release with a good amount of groove thrown in the mix between the heavy sounding guitars and the catchy chorus on songs like ‘Labyrinth’. They sometimes bring back memories from the 2000’s and the swarms of the so called American rock/metal bands that were so widely spread around those times (think Godsmack, Spineshank and so on).

There’s a strong hard rock presence around here and the heavy sounding guitars do their best to keep everything together with a great deal of help from the vocals, offering the melody lines when needed and coming up front when times of greater emphasis are called to action. “Game Over” is a solid rock/metal release and REAPER’S RIDDLE knows how to write music that works really well for them. Maybe it can also work out fine for you.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] KAFIRUN – Death Worship EP (2014)

# KAFIRUN - death worship EP (2014)

Death Worship EP
(independent – 2014)

KAFIRUN is a Canadian black metal band coming from Vancouver and, apparently, they don’t sponsor much love for Islam. That’s fine. We all need our nemesis. They also make sure we understand there isn’t any sort of genre crossing or experimenting when it comes to their music. KAFIRUN plays black metal. In their own words “true black metal from start to finish”. And that’s that.

Three songs make up this debut, ‘Beyond the Flesh Vessel’, ‘Killer of All Man’ and ‘Thousand Spears’. Although they strongly underline the fact that there aren’t any operatic vocals or sung vocals at all, one can’t help to be reminded on how close these songs sound to way Attila Csihar delivers his own vocals in Mayhem, and we’re all aware that he isn’t a figure well known to deliver a straightforward black metal singing style. Come to think of it, some parts in these songs also land in that level of writing, without the same amount of greatness but close enough to spot the influence.

Metaphorically, KAFIRUN are on the bottom of the mountain. The band was formed not so long ago and this is their first release. They have strong opinions on religion but, to function and thrive as a band, they need to focus more on the music itself. When listening to these first three songs one can see that there’s darkness at the end of the tunnel and that’s a good thing when you talk about a black metal band.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] EREBUS ENTHRONED – Temple Under Hell (2014)

# EREBUS ENTHRONED - Temple Under Hell [2014]

Temple Under Hell
(Seance Records / World Terror Committee – 2014)

There is no mystery that black metal’s monopoly has long gone abandoned the frozen northern forest and nowadays we can find good solid bands in each and every continent. Sometimes we really have to dig deep and scavenge the ashes, while on other gloomy days they just surface on our radar, just like what happened with this Australian band.

If you ask me what really changes in EREBUS ENTHRONED’s music with the fact they come from the land down-under, my answer will have to be: little if anything! Minus the exceptions coming from bands that bring folk elements to the table or those with a more traditional/regional character in their songs, black metal will always have the same matrix and it just doesn’t matter where the musicians playing it come from. Even when it comes to the lyrics, where the artistic expansion could be explored with greater detail, there isn’t that much of a novelty factor here.

But if I started mentioning quality that’s because there must be some of it around, right? And yes, there is plenty of that in the title track, ‘The Temple Under Hell’, which made me go back and ear it again more than once! You can also find it in the way that ‘Crucible of Vitriol’ starts off and forces you to keep on listening and find out where its headed and also in the way that ‘Black Sword’ or ‘Void Wind’ dive into some kind of semi-conscious praise to the old Swedish melody templates without losing any of its raw darkened sense which they openly wrap their music with. This one’s a keeper.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]