Human Sculpture – Our World/Torn Down

Though the year has not been lacking in releases that crush with internally searching intensity but it is hard to think of more than a handful that, as the debut EP from Finnish band Human Sculpture states, disassemble and rearrange the surroundings with such sure ability and power.  Many releases are a wall of noise or a rampaging assault of heaviness but with Our World/Torn Down the quintet from Järvenpää deliver their immense brutal sound with a deft melodic flow that at the same time enflames and wakes up the senses they are simultaneously pummelling.

Human Sculpture formed in the second half of 2010 with the coming together of vocalist Ville Mansikkaviita, guitarist Jussi Salolainen, plus Samu Pasanen and Jaakko Jaakkola, bass and drums respectively. The band line-up was completed with the addition of second guitarist Mikko Pylkkö spring of this year and from then swiftly moved into a studio to record Our World/Torn Down. The result a release that reanimates a few genres, with a sound graces the same waters as the likes of Decapitated, Black Dahlia Murder, and August Burns Red but with an added freshness of their own.  

As opening track ‘Deconstruction’ flexes its muscles and lays the fiercest of riffs and energy upon the ear the first thing apparent other than the devastation being unleashed, is the maturity to the songwriting and sound. Alongside the searing death/metalcore sounds the band infuses some of the most delicious hooks, grooves and addiction igniting melodies. These are not harmonies that are light and wispy but harsh, disconcerting ones that mesmerise with their urgency and innovation, as well as gravel lined ones from Mansikkaviita vocally. The track ripples and pulsates thrusting its rhythms eagerly into the ear as the guitars force their dark tentacles deeply. The all out bombardment from the band is impressive enough but once the ‘lighter’ play comes in the quintet simply excel.

Lyrically the songs are dark and seemingly ominous but there is a lining of something better infused into them, a hope if there is change. Like the sound the songs contents are imposing but tinged with lighter things. The second track on the release ‘The Wait’ is certainly imposing, though not as murderous as the first, its incessant inviting groove and scorching riffs carry an edge to be wary of.  The slower pace of the song shows the band’s creativity in a more open light, the power leaving windows for it to shine through and though the trio of songs clearly let all aspects of the song be found, here they are less hidden by the extensive wave of sound.

A Heart’ closes the EP emerging on a crawling pace, though nowhere near being dirge like, just compared to the other two it is a slower intent. As the track evolves with great invigorating guitars, and charging rhythms the tone take a plunge into deeper blacker waters to swamp the senses with an oppressive blanket of atmosphere and leaves on an energised burst of abuse. The song finishes off a trio of gratifying and thoroughly impressive tracks inspiring a lot of anticipation for their next effort and a little disappointment that only three songs are available here.

Human Sculpture could be the future of death metal some are saying, maybe even metal as a whole. Time will tell what is clear is that they are one of a new breed of bands that think about what they create and then deliver it with uniqueness and full control. Everything is carefully worked upon and brought forth with inspiring deliberation and stunning effect, Our World/Torn Down is the evidence, and Human Sculpture a very exciting prospect.

RingMaster 16/10/2011

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Lo!-Look And Behold

Australian rockers Lo! are not exactly newcomers having started in 2006 but it has taken a few years before their powerful sound has finally caught on. Everything has a time and theirs looks like being now with the release of their debut album Look And Behold via Pelagic Records, the crushing sludge/hardcore/ black sounds within ready to invade the senses of a much wider audience. The Sydney quartet came to the attention of the Pelagic owner Robin Staps with their 2010 debut EP, he becoming enthused with them after hearing its staggering sounds, now with his label unveiling the band to a much bigger arena it is hard to imagine anything less than wave upon wave of eager fans flocking their way.

The first thing apparent with the music of LO! is the diversity in the band’s music, their forceful sound a heady mix of thumping riffs and rhythms impregnated with creative melodies and intriguing directions and detours within songs. The members are no newcomers to music and it shows with a confidence and sureness to their songwriting and ability as well as the variety they bring.  Formed by guitarist Carl Whitbread after the demise of his previous band Omerata, he explains the diverse sound, “Having quite a diverse range in musical tastes (everything from death metal, to electro, to classical), I wanted to find a way to bring my favourite elements from different genres into the music, without it sounding like a blatant mish-mash of styles”. Adding the combined power and skills of bassist Adrian Shapiro, drummer Adrian Griffin, and the threatening intense vocals of  Jamie-Leigh Smith, the band have unleashed a sound that grabs more than just attention.  

A  brief atmospheric instrumental ‘Hath’ opens the album, the first of a trio (‘Seraphim’ and ‘Doth’ the others) throughout the release that bring a respite to the intensity elsewhere, not that they are interludes, they add an extra atmospheric element that brings the ferocity in the other tracks even more into focus. The first full track ‘Deluge (Carnivorous Flux)’, shows the aggressive tracks are not just about power and sonically hammering sounds. These songs are infused with melodic and striking elements that never become ordinary or expected and always engage as deeply as the tracks intensity delves. The track comes in with an immediate eagerness to challenge; predatory riffs from the driving guitars and the hardcore vocal attack show a band with intent to bring music that is unpredictable and testing but ultimately always satisfying.

As mentioned the songs come with their own distinct flavours with not one slipping below the band’s high standard. Though kindred in aggression and deliberation the distinctiveness to songs is very rewarding, whether the sludge/ hardcore blend of ‘Bastion’ veined with irresistible light grooves or the incessant sonic groove of ‘Aye, Commodore’ that teases and plays with the senses as pleading growls shout out, all songs gratify gloriously.

The musicianship is impressive, with groaning dark basslines and ominously heavy riffs alongside rhythms that crumble defences. The tracks often have a mischief quality to their energy resulting in something even more addictive and engaging. The dark aggressive ‘Indigo Division’ and ‘Moira Kindle’, which carries a wonderful melodic Faith No More feel from the start, are both stunning examples of their wicked intent with their wanton sounds.

   Look And Behold is a complete joy and though there is the feeling of much more to come from the band even within the release itself, it shows a band now and certainly ahead that will leave a definite mark on metal. Lo! have taken time to come into view but they are determined to stay there and with releases like this it is a formality.

RingMaster 16/10/2011

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Astrofaes – Dying Emotions Domain

This month sees the reissue via Negative Existence of the second studio album from Ukrainian black metalers Astrofaes. The 1998 album, Dying Emotions Domain first appeared on Oriana Productions in MC format reinforcing the concept the band fuelled all their music with. Formed in 1996 Astrofaes were devout in the aim of resurrecting of the Spirit of Slavonic Lands, sounds soaked in and reviving the pride, honour and blood of their ancestors. Their thick atmospheric black metal sounds has over the bands fifteen years and seven albums , early demos and a 2008 EP, forged a deep respect and eager following, the dark essences and melodic and heavy interplay with a forceful black original vein throbbing within, bringing more and more ears and acclaim their way.

Dying Emotions Domain has eight heavily emotive tracks with the representation and imagery of nature’s might and the mystery of the everlasting universe running through them, their songs carrying an ambience and certain melodic aura that is distinct from the Scandinavian black metal sounds, the band bringing elements which sit between the heavy oppressiveness from elsewhere and the toned melodies of the likes of Arkona.  The band at the time of Dying Emotions Domain were the founding duo of Thurios (Drudkh, Hate Forest, Blood of Kingu) and Khorus (Khors) who expanded the band at this period, the members coming together to create a release that stands the years as a strong and firmly creative collection of sounds and passion.

The tracks on the album are all powerful in noise and touch as the band brings forth an ancestry and traditional black blend that shows why the subsequent years has despite lacking a set label support, brought such strong respect and praise to the band. The album opens on an absorbing short instrumental in ‘The Black Woods Theory ‘, the piece combining beauty, melodies and a dark ominous tone.  This leads into the ferocious intensity of ‘Fiery Mysticism’, complete with stalking riffs, expanding waves of heinous intent, and sinful waves of keys and melodies exploring behind. As does the album as a whole, the song has a caliginous atmosphere and sense, teasing and taunting as it brings its full impact hard upon the senses.

The tracks do have a similarity to them in attack but with a lusty variety within their thoughts and sounds as with tracks like ‘At Nightfall’ with a sweeping crushing wall of sound that fills every pore and ‘Path To Burning Space’ with its folk layered haunting and progressive touching moments, the latter of the two a track that shines more and more with repeat plays. Both are equally direct and intense, their power formidable but brought by different ways and inspired sounds.

Each track grabs attention with quality, songs like the almost awkwardly varied ‘Ad Infinitum (Dark II)’ which takes detours to wrong foot and intrigue, the rampaging ‘Necromantical Screams’, and the piano splendour of closing instrumental of ‘A Song of the Night Birds’, all leaving one wanting more. At times the music and intensity overwhelms the vocals and the drums could be less hollow but even with these gripes there is nothing to distract from the quality and satisfaction the album gives.

Dying Emotions Domain is a great introduction to Astrofaes for those new to their music and a definite must hear for fans acquired since of the earlier times of the band from when this album first showed its wares.

RingMaster 16/10/2011

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