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Look at that orange bubble on the cover!

I know, bubbles are a problematic thing in today's social media world. Without them there would be way too much input to filter, yet being stuck in your own bubble too much also limits your perception.

This might be why I found myself quite surprised by the intensity of some Blood Incantation fan reactions to the band's latest album, even though after over thirty years of experiencing that special kind of blinders within the metal community I really should have known better. Well, obviously I'm an idiot.

But then in most of the musical online circles (even those dedicated to certain metal bands or genres) where I am reading or actively contributing, the common question about a death metal group releasing a synth ambient album would much rather just be "Is it good?" than an entitled "WHYYY YOU TRAITORS?????? 😡😡😡😡", even though the genre shift had been announced very clearly over and over again and shouldn't have come as a deadly shock to anyone.

So if you don't like ambient music at all, just skip this one, shut the eff up and don't embarrass yourself, man! But if you do like ambient or are at least open-minded about it - you're in for a treat.

BLOOD INCANTATION - Timewave Zero (CD+BluRay digipak) (2022)

Blood Incantation are a Morbid Angel worshipping death metal band, which has thus far put out three rightfully highly praised studio releases since 2015. Not only were the skills and arrangements within that framework on a top level from the beginning, but there were always new spins on the style, as well as hints of many, partly very different influences present, which increased to a point, that it became a much more sensationalistic selling point than it actually deserved to be.
Don't get me wrong: The Pink Floyd passages on "Hidden History Of The Human Race" were great and definitely more than just a gimmick, but in total ninety percent of the record were still pure technical death metal. So even though I'm a fan of the album, I was almost a little disappointed that there wasn't more non-metal stuff happening, given the hype that was made about it. But of course perceptions are very individual. And for many listeners the erikvondĂ€nikenian sci-fi concept and artwork might have helped in perceiving the "space" elements in the music as much more prominent.

On "Timewave Zero" now however there's no doubt that the various warm sounding analogue synthesizers, which the band had already used occasionally before, are actually much more significant. Even more so, they are indeed all that is.
No metal guitars, no drums, no vocals, just long and slow loops and movements of ambient and droning space, packed into the two longtracks "Io" and "Ea", which are over twenty minutes each. Ironically this makes the release, which the band and Century Media are selling as an EP, already longer than both albums before it (and the actual debut EP anyway).

Still, if you listen to the whole discography in one run like I did in preparation for this review, the radical step from "Hidden History" to "Timewave Zero" doesn't feel nearly as out of place as you'd expect. The sound still fits the image - except maybe for the unreadable death metal logo, which might be debatable anyway.
Blood Incantation are strangers to half-assery. Even though they are operating in a complety different different musical language here, the meticulous work put into the compositional craftmanship - their accent so to speak - stays recognizable.
This band is not moving from their established top-notch death metal to some not really serious experimentation in something else they don't even understand. No, their ambient is also top-notch. So "Timewave Zero" is not just for hardcore fans, who are willing to follow their band into any direction, but just as well for anyone who doesn't even care for metal, but digs Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, who Blood Incantation are outspokenly paying tribute to.

Other obvious reference points are the movie soundtrack masters John Carpenter and Goblin (mainly Claudio Simonetti's part and not the surrounding rock music), but also slowly droning pieces of Dead Can Dance or the work of electronic artist Lustmord.
Floating between those influences the band from Colorado doesn't add anything intrinsically new to the ambient genre, but as you can guess that's neither the intention nor necessary, given how good this is performed, produced and presented.

The CD digipak includes two welcome bonuses: The CD itself contains the additional third track "Chronophagia", which is even longer than the rest, an almost half-hor long mesmerizing improvisation.

The bonus Blu Ray visualizes "Io" and "Ea" as a journy through space and otherworldy planetary surfaces, caves and temples, in a style which reminds me of Anna von Hausswolff's video for "Sacro Bosco" from her instrumental church organ masterpiece "All Thoughts Fly". Which is also another fitting comparison to the whole album, with "Timewave Zero" being an electronic, esoteric space-age interpretation of ideas which von Hausswolff tackled in a more ancient, sinister and steaming way.

Besides the visuals you can also choose a 5.1 audio mix of the album, which is relatively subtle and not trying to show off too much with surround effects that could potentially be distractive. It sounds really good and makes for a relaxing, trippy overall experience.

Gourmand class Entschleunigungs-Kraut!

Since Century Media artists sadly aren't available on Bandcamp and there's no official promo video of the album on YouTube, here's an excerpt from Blood Incantation performing "Timewave Zero" live just this Saturday:



harineweekly 08/52

This week I went back to the good old Digital Harinezumi 3.0 again. And on the weekend there was even finally some bearable weather. So that's all the story I got for these photos - apart from the sidenote that I'm working for the company which builds those bat houses seen on the second to last picture that is.


WIEGEDOOD - There's Always Blood At The End Of The Road

What better for weekend relaxation than a good old psychotic assault on the senses? If you like your black metal relentless, devastating and destructive, yet also original - go no further, because Wiegedood are here to facesmash you into oblivion!

WIEGEDOOD - There's Always Blood At The End Of The Road (CD) (2022)

I've listened to the Belgian trio before and even saw them live supporting Yob. But even though I very much liked them I never immersed myself deeper into their albums. So you won't read any comparisons to their predecessing three-album trilogy "De Doden Hebben Et Goed" here, just the pure impression of the new work "There's Always Blood At The End Of The Road".

And that aaaaaaarrrgh impression gnnnnhh is ssccrrrrreeeaaach just whhooaaahhh *hystericallydriftingintoinsanity* ...

Sorry, let me try again!

On this merciless banger Wiegedood are almost constantly operating at the highest level of brutality, aggression and misanthropic hatefulness which black metal is capable of. In most of the nine tracks they don't even need more than one riff, which is repeated (and incremetally varied) over and over again.
As unforgivingly abrasive as this is, it could easily be exhausting to the point of getting unlistenable. At least in lesser hands. But of course this is not only listenable, but plain killer as fuck, because Wiegedood's guitar riffs are so damn good that you want to swirls in their frenzy on an endless loop anyway.

Seriously, the main riffs and licks are among the very best I've heard metal spew out in recent years. Add to this the untiring monster drumming (which like all the instruments you may also know from Oathbreaker) and perfectly beastly vocals screeching directly into your mushy brain and you already have no other choice than to completely love this shit.

As icings on the cake you get awesome sick lead guitars and occasionally even throat singing, which makes me immediately think of Plague Organ's "Orphan".
As a whole however the album feels more like a - naturally much shorter - nasty black metal version of Aluk Todolo's monster "Occult Rock" to me.

If you're into extreme metal there is no excuse: This is your soundtrack for humanity 2022. What a ripper!


VOIVOD - Synchro Anarchy

In now already fourty years of history (not going to touch on all its ups and downs here again), some of the stable constants in the career of French-Canadian sci-fi/thrash/prog/punk metal legends Voivod have always been that they were absolutely killing it on stage, as well as the high quality and originality of their studio output. Even in the very beginning, when they couldn't even perform and produce their work as good as they wanted, they were at least brĂŒtal as fuck, yet at the same time time already more innovative than most of their peers.

During the last dozen years with first Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain succeeding at the impossible job of filling in for the late Denis "Piggy" D'Amour and later Dominic Laroche aka Rocky completing a new songwriting duo alongside original members Denis "Snake" BĂ©langer (vocals and lyrics) and Michel "Away" Langevin (drums, artwork and concept), which had been growing up as huge fans of the band they are now playing in themselves, Voivod has proven multiple times that there's just no other metal band of their generation out there, whose recent activities are even half as relevant.

Yes, some are bigger, way bigger. Some are also great live and put out decent albums. But come on: Which 80's band still puts out albums with that amount of new material the fans actually want to hear live with the same enthusiasm like the established classics? - Yeah, thought so.

And even though we should be used to Voivod being at the top of their game for years now, even after the exceptional predecessor "The Wake" - they still managed to blow my mind once again.

VOIVOD - Synchro Anarchy (2CD Mediabook) (2022)

Let me begin this by not answering the question if "Synchro Anarchy" is better than "The Wake", because no matter how you rank these two albums, they are extremely close to each other in quality anyway. Yet there are some key differences in their approach.

Even though arguably every good music album feels like it has a concept, and Voivod in particular have always been releasing very holistic works, "The Wake" clearly took the band to a new epic scale and cinematic feel of concept album composition, with the whole grand finale track, strings and all. And not to diminish the crucial part of everyone else, it was for a great part very much Chewy's vision, his magnus opus.

"Synchro Anarchy" feels a little more loose in the sense that it's rather a collection of songs than a complete narrative. Due to obvious pandemic reasons it was the first Voivod album not written together in one room, but remotely, even with programmed drums on the demos.

One effect of that seems to be that everyone has worked extra hard on every single detail, before finally getting together for the actual studio recording. Even when Voivod are playing relatively straight-forward - and there is a lot of catchy and also very melodic stuff happening, akin to both the Jasonic phase in the early 2000s as well as the classics "Angel Rat" and "The Outer Limits" from a decade earlier - there's always a lot of very intricate and wild stuff going on.

Coming out of the two fantastic Hypercube Sessions, live stream events, where they played both "Nothingface" and "Dimension Hatröss" in full, the band keeps going back to the sounds, structures and progressive spirit of these albums as well as the unpredictable chaotic element of their first decade, but don't shy away from giving it new spins.
As always since "Target Earth" in 2013 this is especially obvious in the guitar solos. There are not many of those, because there's already so much going on in Dan's regular playing that it simply isn't necessary to constantly spice it up with shredded leads. But when he decides to do a solo, it always seems to be in a completely different style, it's always a freaking amazing display of what he's capable of beyond the framework of "just" continuing Piggys legacy. And on top of that it's also fully in service of the song itself.

Everyone's arrangements and performances on this album are just that kind of good that immediately puts a big fat smile into your face. And it stays there until the very end.

Snake's voice ages like fine wine. He just knows the unique qualities of his style so good and makes all the right and cool decisions. And his lyrics - damn! Through the lens of science fiction his observations about our perception of the world and its manipulation are just so damn on point. And even within environmental and social dystopia, he still remains a humanist. Just look out for the life-affirming turn in "Quest For Nothing" and you'll know what I mean. It's beautiful.

Away's drumming... we're so used to him being one of the greatest that there seems to be no serious need to talk about it. But even the Voivod veteran never just does his thing, but still sound inspired and creative. His performance just kicks ass in every imaginable way.

If I had to chose one single hero of "Synchro Anarchy", it would have to be Rocky on bass though. Not only is he an absolute beast and his his style is the perfect encapsulation of everything not only Blacky, but also all other bassists after (and later before) him have brought to Voivod - no, we also have to talk about his sound!

Ever since the bass intro of the "Post Society" EP his bass sound - and the production of the band's studio work as a whole - has already been quite spectacular, but I'm sure that the aforementioned live streams have had a crucial role in making it even better. This distinct tone and snarl just is the shit.
The Hypercube Sessions presented their respective albums with a sonic clarity and power one could have only dreamed about. And soundwise this album is a direct continuation of those streams, both in terms of raw energy and clarity.

It's in the album title of course. The balance of all the elements and qualities which Voivod can bring to the table is just perfect on here. "Synchro Anarchy" moves confidently in the sweetest milky way between order and chaos.

The bar for anyone who wants to put out the album of the year is already raised unfairly high with this masterpiece. As for the best metal album - sorry all other metal bands in the world, but that ship has sailed for 2022.

The mediabook CD edition of the album comes with a live bonus disc called "Return To Morgöth" from a show in 2018. Yes, yet another Voivod live album! But then - why fucking not? Naturally a lot on the setlist is similar to the fantastic "The Lost Machine" recording, but it's also similarly good. And there are also some different tracks like the "The Unknown Knows", which was missing on the last one. Or instead of the traditional ending with "Astronomy Domine" and "Voivod" this show ended with "KorgĂŒll The Exterminator".

So yes, you won't need these eleven extra tracks, but you will surely love it anyway!    


harineweekly 07/52

Ok. Honestly, a week ago I had hoped that this post would become a little more of a success story. As you can see all pictures here are double exposures, a feature which the Digital Harinezumi 3.0 is incapable of, so yes, my Harinezumi 4.0 has made its great return!
I thought it had shot its very last picture on a Sunday in the Netherlands, back in April 2017. But now it's back. Well, kind of at least, I guess. I don't even know right now.

It started in January with a post in a Facebook groups, which stated that it was unnecessary to repair a DH4 with a drained internal battery, since you could just use it with a powerbank. Even though I knew that this option had been one of the first things I had tried, I got the camera corpse out of the closet and tried it again without any expectation of it working.
But it did! For a moment at least. When I accidentily hit the camera's power button without the power bank, it died again. For approximately two weeks. So I had learned two lessons:
1. Only handle the camera with the power bank attached.
2. If the camera doesn't work at all, even after hitting its tiny ball-pen-point-operated reset button, then you just have to let it be and collect its mojo for a longer while.

Speaking of the reset button: Make it your best friend! Because sometimes the connected power bank works immediately, sometimes it only gives enough energy for one or two actions, until you have to try - or reset - again.

I wish I had a little less confusing and shaky solution at hand, because this just doesn't really invite me to take the thing with me anywhere. But since this week was informed by severe weather and post working day exhaustion anyway, I decided to just revive the idea of my old flickr series "SPIN SPIN SPIN", where I was playing with the DH4 while listening to music.

Only yesterday I took it on a field trip in my car, which despite some nice results just confirmed that the handling of the cam in this state is an unreliable mess. So until I have some epiphanic brainwave to make this better I will just use it occasionally at home, but stay with the good old Digital Harinezumi 3.0 for most of this weekly series.


ZEAL & ARDOR - Zeal & Ardor


Ich habe den Gospel der Gospelschwarzmetaller ja bereits mehrfach in teils ausschweifender GrĂŒndlichkeit gepredigt, also mache ich es mir heute mal wieder bequem und schreibe hier keinen komplett neuen Text, sondern begnĂŒge mich mit einer neunzigprozentig adĂ€quaten Übersetzung meiner Veil Of Sound-Rezension:

So sehr Zeal & Ardor seit ihrer zunĂ€chst kaum wahrgenommenen GrĂŒndung im Jahr 2013 und ihrem viralen Durchbruch im Jahr 2016 in der Metalwelt Wellen geschlagen haben, so wenig sollte die Existenz dieses neuen Albums doch jemals als SelbstverstĂ€ndlichkeit angesehen werden. Denn bei einem Musikprojekt, das auf dem scherzhaften Vorschlag irgendeines Internettrottels basiert, Black Metal und "N-Wort"-Musik zu mischen, kann im Grunde ja theoretisch ja so ziemlich alles schiefgehen.

ZEAL & ARDOR - Zeal & Ardor (LP) (2022)

Der schweizerisch-amerikanische SĂ€nger/Multiinstrumentalist Manuel Gagneux, der bis auf das Live-Schlagzeug im Studio immer noch alles selbst einspielt, ist sich glĂŒcklicherweise des inhĂ€renten Potenzials zur LĂ€cherlichkeit zu bewusst, um in die Falle seiner eigenen Formel zu tappen. Und selbst wenn seine furchtlose Kreuzung von Gospel und anderen schwarzen Musikgenres wie Soul oder R'n'B mit Black Metal und mehr oder weniger nah verwandten Gitarrenmusik-Stilen tatsĂ€chlich zu weit geht - sei es in den mit Klischees jonglierenden Texten oder mit elektronischem Blödsinn, der ĂŒber alles gesprenkelt wird - es geschieht stets zielgerichtet und mit einer gesunden Portion Humor.

Besonders die DebĂŒt-EP "Devil Is Fine" (nein, Rest der Welt, ein Album ist das fĂŒr mich immer noch nicht!), welches noch sehr offensichtlich nach einem Solo-Projekt klang, verdankte seinen Charme zu großen Teilen der Art und Weise, wie unbekĂŒmmert - und dabei mitunter auch noch etwas holprig -  Gagneux alle möglichen und unmöglichen Ideen einfach in einen Topf schmiss. Es deutete aber auch bereits auf ein grĂ¶ĂŸeres Potenzial und eine mögliche Langlebigkeit des Konzepts hin.

Das gereifte Album "Stranger Fruit" bewies diesen Punkt dann nachdrĂŒcklich, gefolgt von der EP "Wake Of A Nation", die sich weiter von der anfĂ€nglichen Fantasie afroamerikanischer Sklaven, die im Namen Satans rebellieren, zu realeren und tagesaktuell brennenderen Themen rund um Schwarze RealitĂ€t und Rassismus bewegte. Genauso wie Star Trek-Fans davon ĂŒberrascht wurden, dass ihr(?) Franchise mit Discovery plötzlich woke wurde, konnten einige Zuhörer natĂŒrlich nicht mit dem direkten Black Lives Matter-Ansatz umgehen, obwohl das Anliegen natĂŒrlich nicht tiefer in der DNA von Zeal & Ardor eingebettet sein könnte. FĂŒr die meisten Fans war es jedoch nur ein weiterer Beweis dafĂŒr, wie flexibel der kĂŒnstlerische Rahmen der Band tatsĂ€chlich ist.
Nicht zu vergessen, das zwischen diesen beiden Veröffentlichungen auch noch ein Live-Album erschien, das sich aufgrund von Gagneux' rastloser KreativitĂ€t und den generell kurzen TracklĂ€ngen wie eine prall gefĂŒllte Greatest-Hits-Sammlung anfĂŒhlt, welche die meisten "normalen" Gruppen in Laufe einer vielfach lĂ€ngeren Karriere nicht anhĂ€ufen könnten.

Angesichts all dieser Vorgeschichte ist es zugegebenermaßen erstaunlich, dass ich dennoch mit leichter Skepsis an das neue Werk herangegangen bin. Aber das war wohl nur die Patina der ziemlich verbrauchten Idee, inmitten einer Laufbahn, die schon mehrere Veröffentlichungen hinter sich hat, ein selbstbetiteltes Album herauszubringen. Ja, ihr macht dieses Statement, schon klar!
Naja, zumindest das symmetrische Cover-Artwork, welches die Geste des Baphomet in die Bildsprache des Hip-Hop-Duos Run The Jewels ĂŒberfĂŒhrt, lĂ€sst es einigermaßen stimmig aussehen, oder?

Ihr wisst welche Einsicht jetzt folgt: Ja, ich bin ein Idiot. Denn "Zeal & Ardor" ist natĂŒrlich genau jenes definierende Statement, welches zusammenfasst, was die Band ausmacht und was ihr Mastermind mit ihr schon immer erreichen wollte. Im Vergleich zu den VorgĂ€ngern ist es dadurch sowohl heavier als auch samtener, heiliger und bösartiger.
Jedes einzelne der unendlich vielen Puzzleteile klingt perfekter ausgearbeitet als je zuvor. Und die Produktion tut ihr Bestes, um sie entsprechend zu prĂ€sentieren, inklusive durchaus ĂŒberzeugend eine "echte Band" emulierender Dynamik, die wir sicherlich zu nicht geringem Teil Drummer Marco von Allmen zu verdanken haben.

Der Black Metal, egal ob oldschoolig oder in Blackgaze-Nebel getunkt, war bei Zeal & Ardor noch nie eine derart gnadenlos brutale Soundwand. Doch nichts muss sich vor seiner einschĂŒchternden PrĂ€senz verstecken. Denn mittlerweile scheint es, als könnte Gagneux einfach jeden Trick aus dem Ärmel schĂŒtteln, den er möchte, ohne dass dabei jemals etwas antiklimaktisches oder ein reines Gimmick herauskommt. Zwischen Kreischen und Schreien, sanften Höhen, sonoren Spoken Words, kraftvollem Soulgesang und immer nuancierteren Gospelchor-Arrangements gleitet und springt seine Stimme nach Belieben mit der gleichen Leichtigkeit umher, wie die Instrumentierung jederzeit zu Djent, Hardcore, Blues, Hip-Hop-Elementen und vielem mehr wechseln kann.
Die NatĂŒrlichkeit dieses in der Theorie durchaus grenzwahnsinnigen Amalgams lĂ€sst mich an so unterschiedliche Bands wie Blut Aus Nord, The Hirsch Effekt oder - hier ganz bewusst als ganz großes Beispiel genannt - Faith No More denken, wobei Zeal & Ardor letztlich eine ganz ureigene Wesenheit darstellen.

Wer verzweifelt nach etwas Negativem sucht, der wird vielleicht feststellen, dass die Botschaft diesmal nicht so eindeutig ist wie auf "Wake Of A Nation" oder Teilen von "Stranger Fruit", sondern deutlich verschlĂŒsselter und rĂ€tselhafter. Und da die QualitĂ€t aller Arrangements auf ein so hohes Niveau gestiegen ist, dass der permanente pure Genuss einem die Formsache, welcher Stilrichtung man sich eigentlich gerade aussetzt, ziemlich gleichgĂŒltig erscheinen lĂ€sst, fĂŒhlt sich die musikalische - und damit auch die thematische - DualitĂ€t, auf welcher die Band ja immerhin begrĂŒndet ist, paradoxerweise nun etwas weniger scharf an als bei frĂŒheren Veröffentlichungen.

Was nur eine umstĂ€ndliche, unnötig negative Formulierung ist, um zu sagen, dass jeder verdammte Aspekt dieser Platte gleichermaßen viel Spaß macht. Egal, wie man es dreht und wendet - man mag zwar offensichtliche Unterschiede entdecken - aber letztendlich es ist in seiner Großartigkeit doch alles gleich! Und es ist zweifellos Zeal & Ardor.

Und mit diesem letzten Gedanken im Hinterkopf werfen wir jetzt noch einmal einen genauen Blick auf das Cover-Artwork!



harineweekly 06/52

'Twas a black and white week for my Digital Harinezumi 3.0.

Next week presumably will be a little different than everything until now, because there has been a... development. Stay tuned!