Monday, September 16, 2013
Fragile Branch update: New music from Voidcrawler, Ancst, & Frater Ximenes is Dead
Some of you may notice that this post comes not long after a recent post about a batch of releases from Fragile Branch. Even without consistent quality, a label this prolific would have my full attention, but Fragile Branch's roster remains ambitious and challenging while still having a general focus on high quality black metal and its related subgenres. With three new tapes being released between now and the end of October, it's time to take a good look and prepare ourselves for some new music.
This release is one of the few demo albums I've heard recently that actually sounds like a demo. It's not quite a fully realized album, but it is a solid and enjoyable collection of songs that craft a dark fantasy atmosphere full of wolves, wind, and otherworldly beasts. If the totally awesome album cover doesn't instantly sell you, I don't know if I can help you much. The songs themselves are fully formed, and the themes do seem related, but there seems to be a slight change in overall sound quality and balance between a couple of the tracks. It's not an issue so much as something that caught my attention--perhaps the physical cassette is slightly more consistent. While not quite in the vein of many bands that pay homage to Lord of the Rings, the song titles create such vivid imagery that the music tends to play into. I can imagine much of this lo-fi black metal being listened to in a cabin lit only by candles, with demons and ghouls lurking just outside. Clean lead guitar tends to subtly guide the distorted backing tracks on through snowy woodlands and endless valleys. This is a promising debut for this act and the cassette can already be preordered, with tomorrow set as the shipping date.
Ancst- "In Turmoil"
People who keep up with Black Metal & Brews are most likely familiar with Ancst from my recent review of their two-song cassette "The Humane Condition," released earlier this year on Dark Omen Records. "In Turmoil" is the first official US-based release from Ancst and is a collection of their songs from multiple other releases, including "The Humane Condition." Despite the fact that these songs are from separate releases, the urgency and experimentation in Ancst's style allows pretty much any of their tracks to flow nicely with any other. Each of the tracks here stands alone while working with the others. If you're looking for more of the chaotic black metal influenced hardcore/sludge hybrid that Ancst is so good at, this tape is a perfect way to catch a bit of everything from them. This tape will be up for preorder soon with a release date of October 22nd, so keep an eye out. Additionally, Ancst has a pretty promising split with Hiveburner available directly from the band themselves. Ancst's tracks from that split are all on "In Turmoil," but if you're interested in the other half of the split you should check it out.
Frater Ximenes is Dead- "Demo II"
Following two slightly more aggressive and fast-paced releases is this offering of terrifying dark ambient and droning black metal. While this is Frater Ximenes is Dead's second demo, it's the first I've heard from them and it makes for a promising introduction. Warped keys, distant shrieks, and a heavy haze that never quite leaves all make for an unsettling and dark release from this Italian duo. Even by the album's end, the nature sounds that are left behind strike me as the earth reclaiming its territory after some sort of man-made chaos. There's little familiar here, even when drawing parallels to similarly minded artists of the general black noise genre, and I find that to be suitable. This is arguably the strangest release I've reviewed lately, yet my morbid fascination with it grows with each listen. This is going to be released on October 22nd in an edition of 66 copies with a patch. I seriously recommend getting on this. It may not make sense at first, but it grows on the listener with repeated plays.