Friday, April 27, 2007

Hävok Ünit/andOceans/The Sin:Decay - Synaesthesia: The Requiem Reveries

Havök Ünit/andOceans/The Sin:Decay – Synaesthesia: The Requiem Reveries
(Vendlus Records)

This three-way split is a transitional release for andOceans, using this collaboration to bury their moniker and introduce themselves as the newly christened Havök Ünit. Also included are 3 tracks from The Sin:Decay, which is a side project of a member of the band.

The split begins with the first ever Havök Ünit song, entitled “With Discipline Upon Mankind” – a brief symphonic sample and grating white noise are suddenly crushed by a hyper-blast of brutal death metal. The guitars sag, grind, and shift - the notes seeming to vibrate through thick mud. The vocals actually remind me of a more maniacal David Yow, utilizing more of a howl than a scream or grunt. Effects, programmed electronics, and samples mix with the organic instruments throughout and assemble a truly interesting listen. The following two tracks are remixes of the same song, providing two very different perspectives on the music through a more industrial feel and then a drum and bass approach.

andOceans then drops their last song under the band’s name, “Yerushalayim Érez Haqodes.” For the most part, it’s a straightforward mid-tempo bomb of distortion with a blackened/punk overtone. There are industrial, atmospheric tinges that create great soundscapes behind the music and the vocals are like gruff battle commands (sans the Vocoder break towards the end). Again, the two tracks following are remixes of the song. The first of these remixes is an almost totally atmospheric version, embracing haunting and distant vocal sounds and droning low notes. The second remix is a minimalist, industrial overhaul of the original song with occasional breaks and driving beats.

The Sin:Decay ends this split with three tracks of melodic industrial metal with heavily distorted guitars, lots of synth textures, and elements that bring to mind Mortiis. It’s much more metal and interesting than the aforementioned artist, but definitely the low-point on this disc.

Overall, this split is a very interesting listen and is worth it alone for the Havök Ünit track and remixes, let alone the andOceans material. Good stuff!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stalaggh - :Projekt Misanthropia:

Stalaggh – :Projekt Misanthropia:
(Autopsy Kitchen Records)

Conceptual, blackened, pure noise bands are not my thing. Much of the time the point is to deliver the most painful expressions of life itself in a collage audio format. Rarely, and I mean RARELY would I ever listen past 2 minutes of such drivel without turning it off. This is the second time I have endured such a record and made it past the usual 2-minute mark, the first being Abruptum’sVi Sonus Veris…’ record (which was total shit). I made it to 13 minutes and 32 seconds of Stalaggh’s final release, :Projekt Misanthropia:, before having to turn it off. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was horrible, but the only thing I could liken it to is listening to 10 stereos playing the same ‘Spooky Halloween’ tape in a wind-tunnel. Sounds cool for a few minutes, but not for repeated listening (in my opinion, of course).

There are moments when some guitars enter the picture, lots of banging and things smashing about, and constant wailing and screaming. Yet, there’s no substance to support the atmosphere. I do have to say that listening to :Projekt Misanthropia: is definitely unnerving at times, but I was more annoyed than anything.

Monday, April 23, 2007

N.I.L. - S/T

N.I.L. – S/T
(Battle Kommand Records)

The current wave of ‘prolific’ underground USBM is mainly supported by the ‘one-man band’ format, although there are exceptions (i.e., Nachtmystium). Krieg was always very hit or miss to me, mainly due to incredibly avant-garde drumming and production (although this is not the case with late-era releases). I’m not a snob about production, although I find it hard to find reasons for continued listening when the drums are inaudible. Krieg main man Imperial has since focused on two new projects (March Into the Sea and N.I.L.), both of which are quite different than expected.

N.I.L. finds Imperial and March Into the Sea co-conspirator J. Marcheski creating an experimental, drone-based black metal hybrid, incorporating acoustic guitar passages, occasional mandolin (albeit buried in the mix), and something called a singing bowl. The song structures are akin to Xasthur, although much shorter in length and avoid the aimless wandering that much of Malific’s later material has possessed.

The vocals are great – deep, low moans, screams, and growls that resound of painful despair and hatred. You can also hear enunciation without them losing their power, which is something that I appreciate. The guitars move between an oppressive wall and atmospheric moods, but remain at the forefront. The bass is audible and prominent, yet the drums suffer much of the same treatment that many of the Krieg recordings did – all cymbals, tiny snare and kick sounds. The production values waiver at times and some songs do find the drums more balanced in the mix, but it’s a mild point in the scope of this release. It’s an annoyance, but the songs and overall feel of the record still hold up. Even the Big Black cover of ‘Bad Houses’ seems to fit comfortably here with the rest of the music, although it is the melodic sore thumb.

Clocking in at around 34 minutes, N.I.L.’s first release has me captivated and anticipating future recordings. Hopefully future releases will continue to be on the shorter length of things like this record. Hails to Imperial and Marcheski! Keep the nihilism coming!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

04/18/07 - Update.

I'm still in the developing stages with getting content published to the site, but there are a sizable number of forth-coming record reviews and an interview with Blake of Nachtmystium / Twilight / Battle Kommand Records. Originally, the interview was already supposed to be completed, but due to time constraints on the day of the original interview it has been pushed back. Expect that to be posted in mid-May.

Any label/PR folks and bands interested in having their stuff reviewed or doing an interview, feel free to send a request, inquiry, or question to Please enter "Left Hand Path" into the subject line.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Diagnose Lebensgefahr - Transformalin

L - TransformalinDiagnose: Lebensgefahr – Transformalin
(Autopsy Kitchen Records)

This is fucking weird, but in a great way. Gritty synth tones surge rhythmically, layered soundscapes, and truly disturbed vocals giving way to painful lyrics – true evil genius! D:L is the new project of Nattramn, former vocalist of the Swedish band Silencer, and is apparently the outlet for his recovery after being institutionalized in a mental hospital some years ago.

The album begins with ‘The Level Beyond Human’, a short intro track that starts with a voice stating, “Welcome to beyond human – the last call.” The track builds with a single droning note that sounds like it’s been raked through a bit-crusher, eventually subsiding into the sound of an orchestra.

‘Transformalin’ then begins with a heavily distorted single beat before a manic atmosphere fades in and Nattramn sings, “Pull out my teeth/Inhuman grin/Peel off my skin/Break the bones beneath.” The sound of his voice, though nothing like his vocal style in Silencer, is extremely disturbing in the way it mixes with the music.

The bulk of the D:L tracks are uncomfortable experiences on first listen, which does not change with repeated spins. The music is always shifting gears, but constant elements are droning background noise, machinery-like grinding, atmospheric tones, and tortured vocals.

Any further sort of verbal description wouldn’t do this record justice, as likening it to other artists or genres makes no sense. Nattramn has captured something unique with Transformalin, which is quite worthy of checking out.

You can listen to several of the album tracks on the Autopsy Kitchen Records media player at

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

3/22 - Giant Squid, Grayceon, & Llange @ Radio Radio

Friday, March 23rd
Radio Radio - Indianapolis, Indiana
Giant Squid, Grayceon, & Llange

Opening the show were locals, Llange, who boast an incredible amount of volume and heaviness. This four-piece sludge unit incorporates all the girth and plodding notes of household names like Jesu, Isis and Pelican. These dudes have their shit together, and not unlike many a show here in Indy I’ve seen, these Naptown locals handed the headlining bands their asses. Llange recorded their 6 song, 41 minute debut with Joel Lauver at Burning Bridge Studios in 2006, which is available now through the band at shows and on their Myspace site. More information, show listings, and streaming audio can be found at

Second in the lineup were
Gracyeon, hailing from San Francisco, California, and comprised of a unique trio of musicians. The band features cello, guitar, and drums as well as the haunting voices of Jackie Perez Gratz and Max Doyle. Grayceon spun epic melodies, intertwining finger-picking guitar notes and somber cello lines over manic rolls and changes from Zack Farwell’s powerhouse drumming. Suddenly, the music lurches into a groove and Doyle is riffing between gallop chugs and pinch harmonics (still not using a pick) – ridiculous! For further listening check out Grayceon’s self-titled album on Vendulus Records, and Gratz can also be heard on the latest Asunder record, entitled Works Will Come Undone, on Profound Lore Records. Highly recommended!!! More information can also be obtained at

Ending the night’s show was
Giant Squid of Sacramento, California, who are currently on tour in support of their record, Metridium Fields, on The End Records. Recently added to the lineup is Jackie Perez Gratz, in place of former member Aurielle Gregory. Giant Squid are an enigma to me. There are the makings of an excellent and original heavy band within their ranks, yet the delivery is far from satisfying. There are 3 things that bothered me about the performance (which were an extension of what bothered me about the record):

1. The lack of doom-like crush: Guitarist Aaron Gregory uses a tuning at times that is the same many bands within the ‘Neurosis-worship’ clan use, dropping the bottom note to an octave of the string above. It creates a sound that is not unlike the ocean crashing. However, it’s criminally underutilized on Metridium Fields.

2. Vocals: More often than not, Gregory’s vocals are far too similar to Serj Tankian of System of a Down. It overpowers the music during the album and the night of the performance, it nearly overshadowed the rest of the music’s presentation.

3. Genre-bending: Originality is a hard thing to tackle sometimes. There are many different approaches to creating ‘new’ music. However, I’ve always thought that regardless of the medium (i.e., genre) in which the bulk of the music rests, those subtle touches and personal style make more of an impact than a band that constantly changes things up. Case in point, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde beast that is Giant Squid. Talented in many aspects of song writing and performance, the band just doesn’t seem to be able to make up their mind where each song is going. Dreamy pieces with soft vocals suddenly jump into a staccato-driven dirge riffs and then to a long bridge before fading out over quiet guitar and horns. In a live setting the keyboard and horns are not to be found, but even a more stripped down version of the band doesn’t seem to make the approach more direct.

Giant Squid did, however, present themselves as a tight unit of players with technical competence and the promise for good things to come, hopefully. If Metridium Fields is a stepping stone to a more focused or interesting band, I look forward to hearing the next phase. For more information about the band you can visit their web site at or their Myspace site at