Archive for Nemesis

I Think I’m Getting Old…

Posted in Gigs, Reviews with tags , , , on September 17, 2012 by Magadh

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve actually been chased out of a show (figuratively speaking of course) by the intensely irritating quality of other people there. In 25 or so years of attending shows this has never happened to me before. And it’s not like I haven’t been around plenty of irritating fuckers. I attended shows in Portland, Oregon throughout the 1980s when the dudes from Portland United Skinheads would smash people into the support post in the middle of the pit at the Satyricon and smackheads would be passed out in the street outside. I hung tough during the infamous Unleashed/Morbid Angel/Entombed show at Portland Underground where the white power shitheads in the audience said such nasty things to Alex Hellid that Entombed stopped playing after like five songs. I’ve been hit, stabbed, doused in beer, even vomited on, but I’ve never left a show out of pure annoyance before.

The show the other night at Now That’s Class was always going to be a tough ask for me. I’ve been having to get up at 5:00 AM for work lately and I don’t quite have the late night staying power that I used to. And then there was the fact that this show featured six fucking bands. With all due respect to the people who put the whole thing on (and I have much respect for them) the days when I could hang through six bands are long, long gone. Now, some of you out there will be saying, “Oh whingeing oldster, why did you not take a nap and show up late?” That is a fair question. The reason is that I had no idea what order the bands were going on. It would have been one thing if I had just been going to see Masakari (since they are always likely to be pretty late in the count), but I wanted to see Lucha Eterna too and I simply couldn’t predict when they were going to play.

In the event, it was a good thing that I turned up when I did, since Lucha Eterna played first. And by the way, they ripped. Angry, sloppy, raging, hi speed mid-80s type punk played as if the building was on fire. I tried to get pictures, but their singer was flailing around with such gusto that I was afraid he was going to put his fist in my ear, and that’s another thing I’ve gotten too old for.

Those of you at the show will certainly remember the guy in the white vest with the two-tone creepers. What an irritating asshole. He was blind drunk the moment that I walked in, and I kept hoping that he would lose consciousness so that I could hang out in peace. Sadly, the passionate intensity of this particular alcohol sodden id was not to be denied. When he got to talking about how none of his “boys” were there with him but that they would come down tomorrow and dominate the pit, the mix of irritation and pathos that had plagued me all night finally overwhelmed my desire to see the rest of the bands. Sorry to the last three bands of the night, I’ll write you guys up next time.

On the up side, I spent a few minutes chatting with…well, I won’t drop names. Suffice to say, I got to sit in on a really interesting discussion of Japanese hardcore and to trade stories about Sakevi with some folks who understood. Various other matters were discussed, including…

The Nemesis 7”: Totally ripping Japanese thrash from Fukuoka. Those in search of (or in need of) points of comparison might think of a slightly simpler version of Gauze. They don’t quite get as crazy, and the recording sound is a lot rawer than everything but Fuckheads. They were kind of similar to Ashrain as well, although with a notably crisper guitar sound.

I heard Kansas City d-beat artists’ No Master’s Ruthless Future 7” a couple of years ago. It was grimy and guttural, but didn’t really blow my doors off. They’ve come out with another 7” now, which is self-titled, and this one really kicks the crap out of the first one. For one thing, it’s recorded a little better, but at a basic level they just seem to have arranged their songs a bit better. They sound a bit like Raw Noise, or like Aftermath (the one that was ex-Hellkrusher not the one from Portland). Anyway, it the risk of turning this post into simply a collection of “things that are raw,” this is stripped down, angry d-beat: no frills, but a lot aggro and it’s pretty tightly played in the bargain.

I saw the Nightbringer CD in a photo posted on Farcebook and was curious. This is not the NS-tinged black metal band from Colorado. I think these guys are from Detroit. This CD, which is available in digital form from Bandcamp, compiles a couple of earlier releases with some new material (at least I think it does). In any case, my original draft for a review of this record comprised exactly two words: Oh shit. This is full on old school hardcore played mostly at breakneck pace and lacking even the slightest hint of metallic styling. I dig this for a lot of reasons. Of course, this is a style that I really like, especially when executed well, as it is here. Also, they mix in some nice, melodic elements without getting sappy and diluting the aggressive quality of their music. Even with these more mellow moments, the real hard charging approach is never far away. This thing kicks ass from the word go and doesn’t back down. It is most excellent.

Well, that’s enough for me now. I have some grindcore type records around that I’ll get to next time. Until then try to avoid getting eaten by zombies.


Review: Azaghal

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on May 29, 2012 by Magadh

Azaghal Nemesis Moribund

It is a commonplace to say that black metal these days is rife with cliches and mediocrity, unselfconsciously noshing on tired styles and ideas without the pretense to excellence that makes the posturing and ill-conceived politics at least minimally tolerable. In fairness, this is where guitar music is generally, at least in stylistic terms. But it is also the case that black metal, with its fetishistic atavism and its relatively miniscule pool of cultural references, is prone to this tendency in a particularly extreme degree. It is probably too much to ask for something new under the sun (or in this case the funeral moon) to emerge in black metal. What one can at least hope for is that bands will take what the genre does well and present it effectively.

One is happy to report, then, that on their recently released disc Nemesis, Finnish black metallers Azaghal have accomplished just this. One thing was certain: 2009’s Teraphim was going to be a tough act to follow. The latter disc was a bit of a mold breaker for Azaghal, who previously had exhibited that penchant for raw, rudimentary black metal that is something of a trademark in Finland. On early releases, such as Of Beasts and Vultures (2002) and Perkeleen Luoma (2004), Azaghal exhibited stylistic tendencies that called to mind bands such as Horna and Sargeist, maybe not as nasty as Beherit, and without the edge of weirdness of an act like Impaled Nazarene. Recent releases have seen them move to a somewhat cleaner sound, while still retaining a melodic edge that makes their music a lot more accessible to the average listener. Omega (2008) was a breakthrough in this regard, exhibiting a much cleaner and sharper sound than Luciferin Valo, released two years earlier.

Often times, the kind of improved gear and musicianship that come from staying together for a decade or more will blunt the force of even the most dedicated thrashers. There is definitely a body of thinking that sees Azaghal of having falling victim to this. Teraphim included a lot more variety in terms of song structure and the means employed to create atmosphere, and I think that, to some black metal purists, this reads as a capitulation to the stylistic expectation of the broader listening public. Although the cuts on Nemesis comprise an even greater degree of stylistic variation, please allow me to assure the reader that this is an absolute fierce (if not entirely orthodox) black metal record.

Nemesis contains a lot more elements of pure rock than previous releases, and there are moments when it seems as if they are channeling, not to say copying, other bands. Thus, there are moments at which the incautious listener will think that they have accidentally put on a mid-period Borknagar disc, while at other times the subtleties on offer recall Brave Murder Day era Katatonia. This will undoubtedly viewed as anathema by the purists, but the result is a record that is varied and keeps listener interest long after the endless blast beats of other black metal records would have caused one to lose the plot. All of this is not to say that Nemesis is either meek or diffuse. Azaghal, to a greater degree than a lot of other bands plodding along in this genre, have a very developed idea of how they want to sound, and they are certainly not afraid to mix in liberal doses of traditional black metal fury. But it is the complexities and atmosphere, born of a willingness to experiment with the orthodox style, which lifts Nemesis above the general level of black metal currently available.