Darkwood And Synths

Darkwood and Agnivolok's gig yesterday was nothing short of stellar. Just the fact that something like that actually happened on this little patch of dirt I call home has made it so. In my mind I can still hear Henryk singing "our life passes by like idle chatter"...And I can still see his and Vera's somber stage presence, the contemplative and somewhat sad eyes that makes you wonder what they have seen...

I have listened to and came to know and love many Black Metal masterpieces while travelling across this land with headphones in my ears, but yesterday these were replaced by the work we've done so far on Khaos's first release. For some reason it felt like somewhat of a monumental, victorious moment to me.

But we've still got lots of work before us, tons of stuff to coordinate and take care of till this release will finally be out, assuming it will actually happen...Last Wednesday we were back in Ratimus's studio working on synths. Honestly I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to take care of but also got a few useful insights toward our work in the future, if there will be.

But yesterday night I momentarily and meagerly celebrated this small victory with some anchovy Aglio e Olio pasta, red wine, whiskey and Neofolk.

So in the spirit of what KPN's Famine have lovingly dubbed "The Big Brother Syndrome", I'm sharing all these with you. Yes, even the pasta.

To the small moments of victory,

Summary of our first recording session

Nearly a week ago around this time, I can honestly say that I was freaking out. I was afraid I'll fuck up everything. I was afraid that my nerves will get the best out of me and I won't manage to do anything during all three following days.

It all started about an year ago, when a conversation with Ratimus, the man behind Geist, Mucus Scrotum and numerous other projects, and the bassist of the now inactive Bartholomeus Night, spawned the idea of collaborating with an aim of putting all of Khaos's works into an official first release. Needless to say I was excited, but it wasn’t until now that we finally started to realize these plans of ours.

Me and my bass on the bus
The morning of the first day of recordings was somewhat of a hot mess. I had to carry a bass, in addition to my electric guitar through an ultra-packed train and two busses, the station of which I took me a while to find, which resulted in me having to march around the central train station in Tel Aviv for hours with all that load in both hands. I was already nervous so that, in addition to a slight issue with my day job which I managed to resolve on my way and an annoying waredrobe malfunction, in the form of my camo pants getting torn, didn't help ease out the situation. I was already mentally preparing myself for when things will go further down.

It was the first time I was recording guitars with someone else, so I was afraid I'd make a total fool out of myself with my self-acquired (and probably very unorthodox) guitar techniques, I was scared I'd totally let myself down by fucking up on all the takes we'd do before Ratimus, who kindly offered to help me with the recording process in his home studio, will finally give up on the idea of working with me and I'd lose this very special opportunity to record and release my music professionally and actually work with someone as special as him.
Time to boogie...with Mesa Boogie

Fortunately, things went far better in reality than I've imagined. After being initially wowed by the sound produced by a real mesa boogie vintage vacuum tube amplifier in his well-equipped home studio and by the idea that I'd actually be finally working in a professional environment, we've started the sound check during which I've managed to warm up and snap some pictures of the console rack and DAW.

The recording session on the first day was in hindsight rather inte
nse, though I only felt that after I left his place at around 10:00 pm and reached home at 2:00 am the next day and also on the second day in which my lack of energy and the sore that formed on my index finger were a constant reminder of yesterday's hard work. Indeed, the first day was way more productive than I've ever imagined, as I've managed to record rhythm guitars for all tracks but the last one.

The genius at work during our soundcheck.
As I've already mentioned, the fatigue brought upon us by the intense work of the first day slowed us down a bit on the second and I felt I could do better, but for the time being we didn't have much work to do anyway. Upon discussing the desired sound, we've decided to record the clean guitars using an actual acoustic guitar (12 strings if we're lucky!) in a separate session.

Overall, Ratimus's knowledge and skills as a sound technician/engineer truly managed to surprise me, especially given the fact that he has learned it all on his own. We had very interesting conversations during our breaks, in which more than once he managed to enlighten me with tips on the right work environment and techniques that can increase my productivity as a musician, stuff that I'm definitely intending to try at home. It was fascinating to hear his personal perspective on this whole musical genre called Black Metal that we both live and breathe and his interpretation from a sound guy's point of view of many releases we've grown up listening.

These were all over the pizza we had for lunch...Literally
In addition to that, his dog, two of his cats and his four foster kittens kept us company and helped us relax between the sessions and after we've finished our work. By the way, the fantastic four felines are really friendly and are all looking for homes now.

Overall I felt fortunate of having this opportunity to work with someone who has such a deep understanding of the true essence of this genre, both from a professional and a personal perspective and it's useless to say he was a great guy to work with. I'm certainly looking forward to our next recording session together!

The Aeolian guitar
As for now, I've taken my classic guitar to the woods to chase away a mild case of cabin fever that took over me this morning. Everything out there wore a greenish brown hue around this time of the year but the scorching heat of the passing few months wasn't there. A pleasant cool breeze has taken its place and shook the branches and the strings of my guitar when I wasn't playing. The wind on the strings produced an eerie, beautiful sound. Too bad I didn't have a sampler. I can only imagine that an Aeolian harp must have had a very similar sound. This is one of my favorite times of the year, and also the time which, many years ago I have written my very first serious poem. I can only hope for many more such years of creativity to come and that these recordings are only the beginning of something really great.
More updates on the progress of our recordings will hopefully come soon!

My reviews have found new homes...and more

As you guys may know, this blog has lately been a host to all my random rants and ravings on everything important that's been happening in the local Black/Extreme (but mainly Black) Metal scene, however these have found two new homes in Reshimot Tohu (which roughly translate to The Chaos Notes) online zine, and on my friend's Black Metal Realm blog, so we'll be seeing you there, hopefully.

On a different note, if everything will go well (I won't believe it's actually happening until it will), I'll be doing some recordings for a debut EP in the following few days (!). Since we're only at the beginning our work, it will take some time until any teasers will come out, but I'll keep you updated on the process.

In the meantime, I've got to get myself knee deep into rehearsals and try not to go completely crazy like the guys here from Old Funeral...


Of Inspiration And Context

Review of Har+Kever+Blackdeath Gig 28/10/2015 (Finally Published!)

I was on the verge of giving up on this review all together...Why bother? "Real Life" presents you with way more pressing issues that you, as a "Responsible adult" should be dealing with rather than blogging about something as "insignificant and infantile" as the local underground music scene. Like,there's that career thing I'm not that keen on, but keep pushing forward, for fear of being tagged as a total looser by well, the majority of the humans around me, all of this at the expense of making/writing about music...Well, I'm currently standing at somewhat of a career crossroad because honestly, I'm sick of putting aside my true passion for the sake of social acceptance.

But that's not the reason I've decided to do this review, despite a mega-delay of almost four months...

Oftentimes, I wonder if I'm not too old to start my career as a musician at my age. Think about that, Darkthrone were around 17-18 when Cromlech wad released, and Emperor too, were somewhere around that age when Nightside was released...So maybe I've missed that age in which you're supposed to write your debut masterpiece and carry on that momentum into the rest of your career as a musician.

A few weeks earlier, I saw something that not only clearly changed my mind on that issue, but also inspired me beyond words. It was a photograph of BlackDeath in front of a cemetery, taken during their visit to Israel last October. I was taken by surprise that the two long-time members of the band, aka Para Bellum and Abyssgazer weren't as young as I imagined them to be. In fact, at first I mistook Abyssgazer for a production crew member of some kind...I just couldn't imagine that these middle aged, well mannered faces stood behind that cold, bloodthirsty and utterly savage aural assault which was their latest effort, namely the album simply entitled "Gift". Looks often deceive, but sometimes inspire: in my case, I was inspired by the aforementioned duo's persistence and ever burning passion for their unhallowed black art and somewhat took a silent oath to follow their path. This is why I keep going, despite the strange looks and tongue-wagging which my odd life choices may lead...

(the following part was originally written somewhere during late November) I've set myself a deadline to finish this review. I was sure that by the end of November I would have completed it. Today's exactly three days before the deadline, and I've just opened the fast drafts I've made for practically the first time after I've jotted them down the morning after the show. It's a struggle of priorities when you decide to seriously maintain a blog and a Black Metal project while simultaneously attempting to finish up an engineering degree as fast as I can so I can fully focus on the one truly important thing in my life, which is making music. Sometimes I find it hard to keep believing in what I do beyond what "society" expects a person of my age to do (namely, being in the middle of some kind of frantic career rush while pregnant with two kids etc...). So, here we are, in the middle of a bus ride home, putting together random shreds of memories into one hopefully, interesting review...So, here we go...

The Venue:
The event was originally planned to be held in the Koro, where I've done a guest appearance during Kutna Hora's gig two years ago. I was, to be frank, a bit disappointed about that. Now, don't get me wrong, I really loved the underground-DIY atmosphere of that place. The only problem was with the size and the slight sleaze factor of that place. Plus, as far as I could remember, the sound there wasn't amazing. Even an underground club should at least invest in decent speakers. Otherwise, they'd be missing their point in being a show venue. As for the size issue, the place didn't even have a decent backstage - which may be problematic when hosting BM gigs, since those often require props and a spare room for changing in/out of the stage attire...
Fortunately, there was a venue change, and the event was hosted at the Tachles bar, but the reason for this move wasn't great: turns out the Koro closed down. Any punker/goth/metalhead in this little country knew that place in one of it's many monikers. I remember the place from the years it's been called the Patiphon, and I can remember attending at least three gigs there. The place became somewhat of an institute for the local underground culture, but now that it's been closed down, together with the Metalshop records store, an inevitable question is: where will the local underground now meet?

Back to the venue: when I first heard the name on the place, I imagined it would be a smelly little punk bar, not very different from the Koro when it comes to the sleaze factor. In practice, I was pleasantly surprised as to how well the place was maintained while keeping up the necessary underground-DIY atmosphere. No sir, the Tachles bar wasn't your typical punk squattery. The main entrance to the venue led to a bar, while the stage itself was located in a separate, windowless hall kept entirely dark, save for a few static blue or red spotlights, the dim glow of fragrant incense sticks and the traditional Candelabrum. Outside a slight drizzle pierced the dark, slightly chilly autmn night – a reminder of Winter's footsteps closing in. All in all, the atmosphere of that night was very Underground and Clandestine. This was what gigs might have felt like back in the early days at the infamous Helvette basement.

the Pagan priest from the temple of Har

The unique light settings made the musicians, and most of all, the vocalist of Har appear as mystic, faceless shadows. The named vocalist looked way more mysterious, menacing and powerful than he did by his previous attempts at shrouding his features with a sleeveless hooded shirt during their gig with Dukatalon and Kever. All in all, Har surprised me that night with their previously unnoticed ceremonial side. Maybe it was the clean production on their demo, but up until then Har failed to impress me. Their music felt a bit – out of context and I failed to grasp the concept or atmosphere they were trying to convey through their art. But that night was different. That specific live performance showcased their primitive, ceremonial side. Even the performance itself was conducted as some kind of ritual: the small crowd gathered in a circle around the vocalist who descended off the stage into the audience and even encouraged us to gather closer around him. The experience of being in that crowd was not far from what one might have felt during some kind of trance. Hypnotic, primitive numbers (some reminiscent of the legendary VON whose logo adorned one of the band member's shirts) were played one after another with no talking in between, save a comic relief when one of the crowd members demanded the vocalist to take of his pants when the latter shed his patch-emblazoned jacket. The interaction between the musicians and the crowd was close yet distant, the former being stunningly professional at their art, even evoked a comment by Mark according to which the drummer appeared to be holding 10 sticks in each hand...

Der Nukleare in action
Next came Kever whose performance I unfortunately had to miss (sorry Tom!), in favor of trying to catch Blackdeath for a brief chat in attempt of getting to know a bit more about the guys, beyond what I managed to gather from the web. So, turns out their drummer is a very nice girl named Maya, who's been playing in the band for seven years. Can't recall much from our conversation, apart from the excitement of meeting another Black Metal lady. She told me they were staying in a nearby guest house, and will be staying in Israel for four days (hope they've enjoyed their stay!), during which they'll be gigging in Jerusalem's Uganda club. Originally they've planned on gigging in Haifa as well – a plan which unfortunately did not come to pass due to the lack of a metal crowd in my hometown. Well, there are only two words to be said regarding this: for Shame! For Shame Haifa for being so non-metal despite being located among forests and mountains. I hope you feel bad about it now. The conversation then drifted to non-metal topics as the Russian community in Israel, our common Slavic roots and even Borsh. After that I had the pleasure of talking to Der Nukleare Herjann, who is the band's live guitarist and a really nice guy from the Netherlands. I caught him for a brief chat while he was having his caffeine fix in the form of authentic Turkish coffee. From what I've understood, he's also the guy responsible for writing all the band's lyrics in German (please correct me if I'm wrong here). I forgot to ask him how he came to play with a band from Russia, and how they get together to rehearse but I can only imagine that everything is possible in the age of information...Global Village and all...But we did chat a bit about his other position in Heimdalls Wacht (a band whose name I was familiar with but which I must admit did escape my radar until now but will certainly be sampled in the near future), about good and bad Pagan metal and Belgian Black Metal (which came with names of some bands for me to check out). I did get to talk to the man about his visit after his return and found that his impression of Israel from his brief journey does not differ much from mine – and I live in the area for around a decade. I appreciate your honest opinion dude! Too bad you didn't visit the northern parts during this time of the year. The metal scene's like next to nothing there, but it's all nice and green and blooming and there's a really good place to eat up in Nazareth and...ah, who am I kidding...Europe's like ten times more interesting :-)
The Nuklear one and I

Para Bellum - the King's justice
Anyway, I hurried back to the stage and managed to catch Kever's last song for the night, then, I picked up some CDs from Tom (thanks!) and readied myself for the forthcoming onslaught which was Blackdeath. The scene was already set for chaos: banners bearing the “AMSG” acronym and an inverted cross flanked the stage, fresh candles were lit on the Candelabrum and one by one, traditionally corpsepainted musicians took their positions – the last of which being the vocalist and bassist Para Bellum. The latter appeared in his usual on-stage headgear, which added an extra boost to his already menacing appearance. Dead serious, tactile and looming on and offstage, the man had the air and appearance akin to a medieval executioner. Blackdeath's part of the evening kicked off with a track from their latest effort Gift. While I loved the band's older Darkthrone inspired material, I must admit that much like in the case of Har, the material from Gift felt a bit out of context prior to seeing the band perform it live. The live performance helped me fully grasp the atmosphere that Blackdeath were trying to convey, which turned out as fast, cruel and relentless. Razor-sharp guitars rode on thundering, accurate drumbeats delivered by Maya mercilessly pounding the skins like a demoness from hell. Blackdeath have succeeded in grasping my attention and keeping it held tight in their mighty hands till the closing chord for the night echoed through the dark hall. This certainly made me want to give Gift another spin once I'll get back home.

To sum things up, that night has taught me that music sometimes needs to be put in the right context to be fully appreciated and that I certainly shouldn't hurry and dismiss certain material for not grasping my attention. While some may argue that good music needs no backup and should stand for it's own, I perceive modern music as a hybrid form of art consisting of visual and aural elements, and if this form of art as a whole manages to move the audience, it must be good. I had a good time anyway.

A special thanks to Mark from Orgasmatron Records for organizing the whole event!

Assign'em Already! - A Review of Assign The Rebels By Kutna Hora

Assign the Rebels cover art
Have I seen this dude before? He looks familiar...
When I first heard that this debut release of Kutna Hora will include next to nothing from their older material, I was a bit disappointed. Although they've sent me a digital copy of their early recordings, I still don't count that as properly owning the music. As some of you may already know, I've got this typical quirk of a raised-in-the 90's music freak: if it's not plastic or vinyl, I don't own it. Being a fan of their older, Gorgoroth-esque sound, I really wanted a physical copy of that sonic awesomeness, lyric sheet and band photos included. I was also somewhat afraid I won't like their newer recordings. Back then, it felt to me like somewhat of a half-hearted purchase, meant only to support them and the local BM scene.

I got to listen to the thing for the first time shortly after laying my hands on the aforementioned physical copy, as it wasn't available online before the official release-gig. I remember my first impression being good, but rather vague on the details, as often happens upon first spin. It was only in the passing few days that I fully came to realize the hidden uniqueness of this release.  

On second thought, I'm glad they've decided not to include most of their older material in this release, as the older material on this EP, particularly the opening track turned out to be what was holding it back. Compared to their older stuff their newer tracks portray an entirely different level of writing skills and musicianship. Looks like the band was working hard during the past couple of years. As in the case of Silva Nigra with a New Age for a New God, Ad Hominem with Dictator and Dim Aura with The Negation of Existence (as a recent and local example) I always enjoy seeing bands positively evolve between albums.

I can only speculate that the recent lineup changes played a major role in this whole improvement of their sound. Placing Zelazo behind the mic was doubtlessly one of the bands smartest moves of the year, or recent years, as I'm not fully aware when that exactly happened. The man is a born artist with an envious vocal range. The combination of these two qualities in their front man was definitely one of the many factors that made their latest effort truly shine.

In case you're not from here, or have been living in a cave for the past few years, Kutna Hora plays their own brand of raw blackness, consisting not only of fast, relentless drums and guitar riffs heavily influenced by the infamous 1349, Marduk and co. but also of a recently added twist of their own to the traditional Scandinavian sound. A twist which makes them somehow stand out among the vast crowd of copycats. Part of this originality, I too, owe to the vocals, which range between traditional rasps akin to the aforementioned 1349, ominous chants, tortured depressive shrieks, deep guttural growls and even some morbid laughter.

I bet these powerful semi-spoken vocals opening Antivenin, doubtlessly one of the many winning aspects of this song, were too, Zelazo's brainchild. I see no way in hell the previous vocalist would have pulled this off, no offense intended. The guitars in the background of this song are restless as they are relentless in their riffing. The overall sound and flow of this track falls strait into my definition of great modern black metal – fast riffs, powerful vocals and, in its more intense moments, that very special feeling of high energy blasting out of the speakers and straight into your veins as pure adrenaline. As the album unfolded, many such adrenaline moments came to follow. I'll leave it to the listener to find them all.

Barren Desert, a Black Metal Epos describing the ritual opening of hells gates amid desert grounds, is, despite its rather mundane lyrical theme, far from being standard and boring. Slow, solemn and ceremonial are better suiting words. You can almost imagine that unholy crowd, clad in black hooded robes, slowly and soundlessly gathering around the fire to summon the grand lords of hell and their many abominable escorts.

A Gathering near Sedlec Ossuary deals with that famous bone church in Kutna Hora of the Czech Republic. This makes me wonder if one of the band members ever made a pilgrimage there, but, never mind, next song hit me harder anyway.

If I remember right, this one's also taken from their previous material. But this one proves that previous material isn't necessary a bad word. I've read the lyrics while listening to this one and, jeepers, this one managed to send shivers down my spine and form goose bumps on my arms! This song is genuinely scary – it's as if both the lyricist and the vocalist actually experienced what they write and sing about first hand. I will not venture to even describe the contents of this song as any attempt of mine to do so might spoil your experience. The music rises and falls to appropriately support the terrifying narrative. I do get the feeling though, that the song wouldn't have been that great if not for the well-written lyrics and prodigious vocals. Do not, on the other hand read the lyrics before listening! To fully appreciate this song please do so while listening to the song, preferably on headphones, while holding the lyric sheet from the physical copy in your hand.

Now is my turn to write something akin to “buy vinyl, support the underground!”, but, I will hold myself back from rambling way too much on that right here, right now. Not to mention the fact that the EP has not been, as far as I know, released on vinyl.

I can only think of two weaker points in this release. First, the opening track: the song kicks off with an awesome, catchy-as-hell tremolo riff which gains momentum as it develops onwards until at around 2:00 something happens, the song suddenly slows down riff-wise – it's not even a breakdown, it's just some really uninspiring guitar churns, as if they've had no better idea on how to fill in the time gap between the better parts of the song. I'd say it's a great track, if I didn't hear the others, because really, compared to what follows, this track falls a bit into the mediocre side.

Second and last, the bonus track: if you wait long enough into the seemingly final silence subsequent to The Chamber of Recall, there's a hidden bonus track. It's a Black Metal cover to a well-known Hebrew song, which on its own seems like a good idea, but to me at least, it seems like they've messed up a bit while picking up the ingredients for this one. Jacob? Really? By one hit wonder girl-band Laladin? To start with, I've never liked the original, to say the least. In fact, it's one of these annoying songs I wish have never been written every time it reaches my ear. And now, someone comes along and shoves it under my nose disguised as Black Metal. Phew! The original is so bad that any attempts made by Kutna Hora to undo all the wrongdoings of the original songwriters fail miserably, leaving me with a downright awkward train-wreck of a cover. There are so many better options when it comes to covers (kindly referring to the Hebrew cover of Pisen Pro Sathanas by Root that they've performed live), it makes me wonder what made them think this one will make a great cover for their first release. Is this an elaborate prank? And why, after such a great song like The Chamber of Recall? I'll let this one slip and simply resolve to hit stop whenever The Chamber hits its final note.

Apart from the aforementioned flaws, this is a solid debut release. Not really into giving grades to music, but since Metallum will certainly demand I do so, I give this release 85/100 on the Metallum scale or 444/666 on the Evilometer. Good job guys, you've made me proud!

Sadly, I'll have to end my review here. I'd gladly do a more detailed and orderly track-by-track review as I most commonly prefer, alas, my semester has started, rendering time - a rather limited asset. Also, my deadline for this one is really short, as next weekend I'll be reviewing a live gig by Kever, Har and Blackdeath from Russia, not to mention the many Khaos related tasks awaiting to be done... Right now I'm typing these words on my phone from a bus-stop, in an attempt to make the most of the dead, waiting time.

And so, until the next time (which will hopefully be in the coming few weeks), stay tuned.

A Night To Remember: Black Metal Legions 20/8/2015

Thought this blog was officially dead? Well, what do you know! Just way too lazy to get myself to do updates on all the Khaos related social media, but once I start, I'll keep going. So here we go...

Two weeks ago (it's two weeks already? Time really does fly...) I've attended an excellent Black Metal night in Tel Aviv. Among the bands which graced us with their presence on stage were the awesome Kutna Hora, with whom I had the honor to gig two years ago. If I remember right, they were also celebrating the release of their first official EP that night (they had some old recorded material but never in the form of a release of some kind). After their gig, I invited myself backstage with the promise of bringing along some homemade cake, and got some updates on the band's whereabouts. It was then that I've also promised to give a detailed review of the gig and the EP. being my outlet to all BM related praise, rants and random thoughts (as well as a source for longer updates on Khaos) I've chosen to do these reviews on this blog. I may repost my EP review on Metallum, but we'll see about that...

So let's start with the gig, shall we?

The venue: Levontine 7 Tel-Aviv. Easily one of my favorite concert venues. Love the comfortable, mature atmosphere of that place. Not entirely sterile, but most important not sleazy, unlike a few other places I've attended gigs in.
Had no chance to check it out this time, but last time I've been there they even had Guinness on tap at the upstairs bar (rare at a standard venue in this country). How awesome is that?

The crowd: the usual odd mixture of random metalheads (with the occasional BMer or two), band members' friends and punkers. Random choirs of "ave Sathanas" were heard throughout the show. Not sure if those were serious, drunk or out of sheer irony. Mosh pits emerged and disappeared behind us but come on, who moshes to Black Metal? I could almost feel Euronymous feverishly toss and turn in his grave.

The bands: the aforementioned Kutna Hora, their rhyming partners in crime Dim Aura and a brief appearance of vocalist Zelazo's side project Eretz. I'll choose to mainly review Kutna Hora, but I'll also say a few words about the other acts.
True Sumerian Black Metal?

The stage was ready: silver-blue spotlights formed a pool of light, which was occupied by the sole member of this project, Zelazo and his guitar.

I had the chance to talk to the man back when he played bass for Kutna Hora. Back then, he said something about a budding side project bearing the name Eretz, supposedly being a one man Black Metal band with Sumerian Pagan themes. Being somewhat of a Pagan Black Metal fan myself, I was immediately intrigued, but had no way of following his progress. Thus, I was more than delighted to find out Eretz was playing. I was happy both for him, for realizing his plans, and for myself, for being able to finally satisfy my curiosity around Zelazo's mystery side project (seriously, I couldn't find any of Eretz's material anywhere!)

His stage attire was a simple yet solid jeans and band T-shirt combo, with what appeared to be a Sumerian rune painted across his face. A true artist needs no tacky decorations to back up his art. Zelazo meant business and he was here to deliver something personal and honest.

Following some slight technical difficulties, the show commenced. Eretz's performance was brief but impressive, in the course of which Zelazo displayed his talent at simultaneously being a killer vocalist and virtuous guitarist. His material was powerful. All lyrics were sung in Hebrew if I'm not mistaken, and one of the songs even borrowed a few elements from a local folk song toward it's end, which made me long even more for some recorded material – so that I could fully make out all the hidden details.

Back when I first came to know him, he seemed a bit unfulfilled as Kutna Hora's bassist, so I was happy to see him finally putting his full talent to work. Now we can only look forward toward the release of his recorded material with Eretz.

Kutna Hora:

Feasting to a light of a white candle
I can safely say that Kutna Hora's gigs have locally established themselves as somewhat of an aural and visual ritual with traditions of it's own. Be it the altar in the middle of the stage upon which the heart of (probably) a cow lies impaled, be it the barbed wire-draped columns upon which candles are burned, or the vocalist's stage attire which consists of a hooded black robe that covers his face throughout the performance and a colossal inverted cross which he wears around his neck.

I've tried on the latter while preparing for our show together...The thing's made of solid iron. I could barely stand straight let alone sing with that unholy artifact around my neck! I can only imagine the pain that poor vocalist goes through singing with that thing on. Makes me further appreciate his raw, scorching and authentically tortured performance.

There were a few lineup changes since the last time I've seen them live. Former
Full ceremonial attire
bassist Zelazo now donned the ceremonial vocalist robes, while behind the bass stood a new guy whose stage name I unfortunately fail to recall, but turned out to be a really cool guy when I chatted with him backstage after the show. I do remember his full name but will not reveal it here without his permission...

Throughout the evening, the whole sound/balance role was placed in the hands of Eternal Decay's vocalist/guitarist (again, I have no idea how he prefers to be referred to...) who overall did a good job considering the available assets. The balance was good, every instrument except maybe the bass (which is usually hard to distinguish) could be clearly heard, which isn't always the case with live performances of local metal acts.

As far as I could tell, all the songs, except for maybe two on Kutna Hora's setlist were all from their newer previously unreleased material, and were therefore unfamiliar to me. One of the more familiar songs however was apparently a Hebrew cover to the song Pisen Pro Satana, originally by the Czech band Root (also covered by Nargaroth on Black Metal ist Krieg). A brilliant idea for a cover by the way, far more superior to the Hebrew cover they've chosen to include on their EP if you ask me (more on that later). Would love to hear a recorded version of the Root cover, since I completely missed out on the fact that it was a Hebrew cover during its live performance.

Overall, Kutna Hora delivered a crushing live performance. The recent lineup

change turned out to be a true blessing. Zelazo makes an excellent frontman, pushing the band's sound and live performance a notch higher with his wide vocal range and charismatic stage presence. His vocals proved to be way more substantial and aggressive, and thus more complementing to the band's fleshy sound and stage show. Having seen his solo performance with Eretz, I do regret his decision of hiding his face while performing, but I will not argue with band traditions.

I can only think of only one more thing they could have done better, but that thing has to do with my habit of "doing my homework" that is, listening to the bands' recorded material before attending their live performance. I tend to better appreciate the performance if I'm already familiar with at least part of the performed material. In the course of my preparations toward the gig, I've tried looking around for new Kutna Hora material on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, but was disappointed to find nothing. Therefore, I feel like I can't give a thorough review of their part in the gig. I can't remember how things were with other bands when they released their first EP, maybe waiting with the release of new material till the show is a common thing for debuting bands to do, supposedly to add somewhat of a mystery factor to increase the crowds' anticipation, I don't know. I shall not, therefore judge them harshly for that...

Dim Aura:
Now these guys were serious enough to update their Bandcamp with most of the material they've performed on stage...Or was it all due to the fact that most of the material they played dates back to 2014, therefore not entirely new? I don't care. The gig was awesome.

Dim Aura have been around for a while: after releasing their debut EP back in 2010, they've had several local gigs as well as a few ones abroad. To be honest, up to the release of "The Negation of Existence", I've seen them as an awesome live act but failed to fully appreciate their studio material. In retrospect, I think it was all due to my impression of the band being slightly undecisive of their style on their debut material. Their attempts at combining elements of depressive BM with fast, razorblade-sharp riffs remniscent of Finnish BM just didn't work well with me (sorry guys, but being the true BMers that you are, you probably don't give a fuck on what a miserable critic and a bad musician such as myself has to say, so nevermind).

This, however wasn't the case with The Negation of Existance (thenceforth abbreviated to TNOE). This album had a distinct, but most importantly much more of a concrete and consistent sound which, much to my relief, lends more from the realms of Punk, Black'n'roll, and raw BM than the realms of Depressive Black Metal. Tracks as Scarred Flesh Supremacy and Black Metal Genocide immediately caught my attention upon first spin, and the overall structure and atmosphere of the album managed to keep me focused throughout. I was fully prepared for the show. And now for the show...

Dim Aura have too, brought along some props, and after these have been set up,
H, Ferum and Candelabrum
the stage was truly a feast for the eyes. The front of the stage was flanked with looming wooden inverted crosses, bearing the words Blood and Ritual (or something similar), in the background, among numerous human skulls stood a silver gothic candelabrum (the like of which adorned the cover of Transylvanian Hunger and has become somewhat of a BM icon), upon which a bunch of candles burned. Most impressive of all was, however, the statue which adorned the left side of the stage. Crafted by the talented Assi Meshulam, the towering figure resembled some sort of horned Mesopotamian icon (more of Assi's works can be found on www.assimeshullam.net). If I'm not mistaken, Assi also held a  mini exhibition of his works in the upstairs bar which I, among all the hassle completely forgot to check out :-(

Dim Aura were, as usual, high on fire, scorching the audience with killer songs from TNOA as well as a few oldies but goodies from R.U.S.T.
Vocalist H's stage presence was nothing short of superior: his performance
screamed hate, anger, insanity and demonic possession. Dark flames of charisma burned out of his painted eye sockets with each hate-filled eye contact made with each member of the audience. I could feel genuine shivers going down my spine when these possessed peepers met mine. Backing him up on his left and right stood guitarist Ferum and Bassist Ofir, fully absorbed in their dark art, filling the spaces between his morbid cries with a sound, the magnitude of which being utterly disproportional to the number of musicians on stage. Pushing this whole sick display from behind was the mighty EFF on Drums, ripping and torturing the skins throughout the bloody ritual.

When the show was over, I was breathless yet relieved: Black Metal wasn't dead. Maybe a bit dormant on the surface, but definitely alive and kicking in the underground. Just as it was meant to be.

Stay tuned for my review of Kutna Hora's debut EP as well as more updates on my progress with Khaos.

Nero: The Fall of Will and Defeat

It is an empire ablaze,
That my own hand have founded to burn!
In its roots were the seeds of its fall
None were its battles or weapons of war
When kinship we spoke by the towers of Rome

Yet all that I spoke was deceiving,
For Betrayal quoth I to Desire and Thought
And I saw not the path was diverging,
Upon which I have broken my sword
By my hand I have broken my sword

For I knew not our speech was as that of Babel
Where will as word came ever unspelled
Whom temper was that of two clashing gales

It was a reverie -
Now empire ablaze!
By full moons twice to nothing it became
And loath I held shadow that hid me from flame

And loth I held shadow and summoned as lover
Compelling decay, for my conscience forebode,
As the turbulent womb of the mountains,
That held back my ghost of Yore,
As the turbulent womb of the mountains,
With its upheaving lava's devour

For I knew not our speech was as that of Babel
Where will as word came ever unspelled
Whose temper was that of two clashing gales

For one to harpstrings won't recite
Thy wordless odes and tuneless rhymes
(The latter art by mine own hands)
For much in tongue not thine nor mine
Stood humble by its will denied
Yet prophet fools to scorn declared
Of that we know as
I failed recall its name
As by the fabled kingdom's bane

It was a reverie -
Now empire ablaze!
By full moons twice to nothing it became!

And yet alone I am
For their choirs art distant echoes
Their voice but fears the silence
In the vestiges of a triumph once erect...
And I shall face defeat no more

And the throne I cannot keep shalt melt to stone.