Sunday, 21 September 2014

VVegas - Sagevisule 7"

Things had been relatively quite on the VVegas front for a wee while. Since their 2012 split release with Abraxis, there had been little rumours of new material being released but nothing seemed to really happen. Of course that changed earlier this year they released the RSD split with Integrity, and now they are back again with Sagevisule. This actually marks VVegas' first solo 7" release since the band's inception, as all other 7"s have been part of splits or compilations.
From what I was able to gather, they had a bit of trouble actually getting this record released. It was originally planned to be released by some small label months ago, but nothing seemed to eventuate. I then saw they were looking out for a label to release it, which finally got picked up by Last Anthem records a wee while ago. I don't know too much about this label, but they've done a fine job with this release.
Three versions were pressed all together; a lavender and red split, a pink and yellow, and a lavender and black. Mine is obviously the last of those three, with an interesting effect in the middle of the colours. 300 copies were pressed in total, which I'm assuming this means that mine is /100. As far as I'm aware, VVegas still have copies of the band version for sale (pink and yellow), which does look pretty cool.
The 7" contains four brand new tracks. Between listening to this and "Never", it is clear to see what a shift in style the band has made. This is especially evident with "All my Dreams are Lies", which is very much in vain of the tracks they have released over the last few years. The guitars are incredibly harsh, and the vocals sound distorted in a way that make them seem they are coming from a source very far away. For me, the highlight is "You Are Not Who You Think You Are". This is a considerably slower track than the last one, but is still incredibly heavy and is able to send shivers down my spine. The last track, "Irrealis" is not too dissimilar from a RNF track, with whispered vocals and (at least at first) a haunted acoustic guitar.
The reason I opted for the lavender and black version, was because it was part of a special package. Along with the standard record, Last Anthem also threw in a patch, a VVegas sticker and a new VVegas T-Shirt that has the same design as the record.
VVegas are streaming the whole thing via their bandcamp page, enjoy!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Gehenna - Funeral Embrace 7"

It took a wee while for me to get this record, but I finally have some brand new Gehenna in my hands! And it was definitely worth the wait, it has been round my turntable many times already and it really just destroys anything else out there.
To me it is really quite a change in direction for the band. The split with Blind to Faith back in 2010 saw Gehenna start down a path of psychoactive inspired tracks that have progressively gotten heavier and slower over the years. The split with Integrity 2 years ago brought us Amphetamine Psychosis which literally took us through a meth trip, and The Truth (released as part of a mixtape) was the band's most so slow that it almost hurt. An incredibly limited lathe cut 7" was released last year that did hint at a change from this direction. But this new 7" has cemented that change with what is quite possibly the fastest and thrashiest set of recordings ever released by Gehenna.
Amphetamine Psychosis starts out the record, but sounds entirely different from the Integ split. The vocals sound in less psychological torment, but severely more vicious instead. The distinctive riff from the end of that track is again featured, but only lasts ~15 seconds, rather than 2 minutes. It is then straight into "Into the Grave". This track is wickedly fast and features the same vicious vocal set, accompanied by a quick guitar solo in the middle.
After about a second break, we are launched back into "Serve the Cult". This starts with the most blistering guitar solo and doesn't stop for a single breath the entire time.
The aforementioned lathe cut then lends a track, which has now been re-branded as Savage II. Here the blasting drums don't stop the assault on your ear drums, and the vocals have been distorted in a way that perfectly encapsulates the track title.
Things then finish off with "Funeral Embrace", which once again doesn't hold back in the slightest either.
The whole thing gets you so full of energy that the only thing to do is to put it on again (and again, and again).
After Rot in Hell's Ruined Empire, this is the second release of the revived Dark Empire label, now run by Dwid's son. Several versions of this were released; a clear and black striped, a yellow, a green and a black. All of the fancy coloured versions were out of 100 copies, and the black/clear combo came with an additional poster. Mine is just the standard black version, which came from the HT store rather than Dark Empire.
The packaging is just as wicked as the tracks on the vinyl. Right at the top is the cover artwork, which is looks incredibly raw and vicious. When that is opened up we have the lyrics to all the songs, definitely a good read. Quite surprisingly for a Gehenna record, the vinyl itself has centre labels and some matrix etchings. Usually we are just dealt a very basic record with no trimmings.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Burzum - Umskiptar 12"

I recently discovered a new local(ish) record store, and decided to have a look around when I was in the area. They stocked quite a variety of genres, but what grabbed my attention was the Burzum section. Now, I am by far the biggest and most dedicated Burzum fan out there, but I had heard bits of this album and decided to give it a go. I must say I am glad that I did, and although it may not be the most popular Burzum record out there, I definitely like it. 
For those not in the know, Burzum is the one-man brain child of Norwegian Varg Virkenes. There is plenty of infamy surrounding Burzum and a quick search will show what I mean, although I am not here to discuss such matters.
This album marks the 9th major release from the band since it's first recording back in 1992. I haven't heard a lot of earlier stuff, but from the snippets I have heard, this seems quite a change in direction. The lyrics are all taken from a classic Norse poem,  Völuspá, and the entire album has an incredible sense of atmosphere. It has been criticised for being a bit slow at times, and I can see what they mean. Although saying that, when you are in the right frame of mind, the minimalist sounds of "Gulladr" are just what you need.
This release was handled by several different labels across the globe; Byelobog Productions in Norway, Banc in Black in the UK as well as Candelight Records in the US. As such there are a few different versions out there; a grey, a bronze and a test press with with labels. I'd like to think the bronze matches the trimmings on the cover and colour of the font which would look nothing short of amazing. My version is the more standard black vinyl, which still looks quite impressive when both LPs are freed from their black dust jackets.