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Weekly Magazine III Era
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Band: Veratrum
Title: Visioni
Year: 2018
Country: Italy
Label: Self-Released

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Translation: LordPist
  1. Oltre Il Vero
  2. Per Antares
  3. L'Alchimista
  4. La Stella Imperitura
  5. Limen Operis

Introducing Veratrum has become somewhat superfluous here on Aristocrazia by now: their five works released over a decade, and covered by us pretty much in their entirety, speak clearly. All their efforts and the experience gained through the years allowed the band from Bergamo to refine their prophetic metal and also invest in their image, not to mention their stage presence.

"Visioni" is the latest EP by Haiwas and his partners in crime, breaking a three-year silence, as "Mondi Sospesi" was released in 2015; two, if we consider the conceptual (and digital) 2016 EP "Chronicon", reprising the Trilogy of Lost Cities from "Sentieri Dimenticati". This new brief record, consisting of five songs for a total of twenty minutes, is a mature work in every respect, without unnecessary parts or drops in quality. Veratrum's prophetic metal (more of a conceptual definition, than a musical one) perfectly balances the fury of death metal, modern power and impact, the melody of its refrains and the grandiloquent atmospheres of its more symphonic side.

"Oltre Il Vero" is arguably the song most related to the band's beginnings, imposing the typical pace of Haiwas' Italian language singing (he also placed a nice guitar solo), limiting the melodic passages and preferring heaviness. "Per Antares" is an orchestral intermission that could very well be a part of Dimmu Borgir's latest works; here you will also find a brief incursion by Taliesin, Eternal Samhain's vocalist. "L'Alchimista" is a (partial) surprise for its relation to the second EP by Voland, released last year by Haiwas and Rimmon: here the style becomes more glorious and proud, in line with "Ottobre"; Giulian from Scuorn appears as guest vocalist. "La Stella Imperitura" leaps somewhere in between and exhibits Veratrum's trademark, the appeal of melodies and clean singing embracing extreme metal and blast beat. At the end, we can enjoy perhaps the most memorable guest appearance with Vittorio Sabelli's clarinet, the mastermind of the (unfortunately closed) project Dawn Of A Dark Age, currently playing in the jazz choro Chorando: a really emotional moment in its apparent simplicity...

The last analysis is for the digipak, quite solid, without a booklet but still featuring the lyrics in easily readable characters. The cover artwork was created by drummer Sabnock and follows the path of the previous one, though with a more arcane touch. The only slight letdown I have to signal seems to be the quivering logo, which the band sure seems to love.

"Visioni" is the perfect way to know a band with a bright future ahead and a solid past behind. The agile EP format helped condense Veratrum's essence, a clever band the whole Italian underground should be proud of.

Band: Messa
Title: Feast For Water
Year: 2018
Country: Italy
Label: Aural Music

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  1. Naunet
  2. Snakeskin Drape
  3. Leah
  4. The Seer
  5. She Knows
  6. Tulsi
  7. White Stains
  8. Da Tariki Tariquat

"Feast For Water" has been some sort of small media event on dedicated press: the second, excellent album by Messa, rising star of the Italian doom scene already under the spotlight with their first, solid album "Belfry" (2016), although a bit anchored to classic genre precepts. Busy on different fronts, the four guys from Veneto take us by surprise, changing their guise with a rare pearl in which their style mutates through different forms, reaching all the way to experimental and jazz sounds.

There are so many irons in the fire here and, contrary to what happens usually, they're perfectly handled. We don't know what happened in the Padua surroundings during the last two years, truth is that the band made a huge leap forwards in terms of maturity and songwriting: the doom element is taken further into drone territories, but don't expect huge walls of sound for the whole duration, because "Feast For Water" is much more than the sum of these two, already similar, genres. The instrumental opening track, "Naunet", literally drowns us in an underwater world made of shimmering sounds, a thousand facetings perfectly rendered by a solid and self confident band, led by Sara's splendid voice: a priestess able to hypnotize and excite as wel as stepping aside when needed, giving the composition an extra value and making her impact even greater, with a performance that elevates the young singer in a scene which is becoming more and more open to female voices, but also saturated by the day, lacking originality here and there.

Water, which symbolizes the constant flow of everything, is the main theme of a work that touches spirituality, mythology and religion in a continuous flux, alternating heavy and square structures with jazzier ones, however dark sounding. Tracks like "Snakeskin Drape" or "The Seer", with their steady pace and fuzz-filled guitars, are of course high peaks in which we expected the band to be perfecly at ease, but the exquisite class that permeates this platter is to be found in the quieter moments, when the band changes their skin: unexpected presences are, in fact, the saxophone in the smokey and noir-ish "Tulsi" and, above all, His Majesty the Fender Rhodes. The classic electric piano, widely used from the Seventies onwards, is dusted and serving songs which shine on their own, like "Leah", "She Knows" and "White Stains". Moreover, it's surprising how naturally these elements are nestled in this album, but just take a look at the influences, among the best around with giants like Herbie Hancock and Angelo Badalamenti (the magnificent "Twin Peaks" soundtrack is impossible to forget).

So, take all of this, drop in some blast beats and some pretty intense moments here and there, the closing piece "Da Tariki Tariquat" with its oriental warmth, and you'll get "Feast For Water": a first-rate opus, both rough and clean when needed, which trascends genres and which, judging from the almost unanimous ratings all round, will get into many charts at the end of the year. Many of ours for sure.

Fredag den 13:e - Dystopisk Utsikt
Band: Fredag den 13:e
Title: Dystopisk Utsikt
Year: 2018
Country: Sweden
Label: Epidemic Records / Halvfabrikat Records / Alerta Antifascista / Every Day Hate / Deviance Records

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  1. Plågad Av Ljuset
  2. 1984
  3. Sälj Mig Lycka
  4. Fängslad Mentalt
  5. Dödad Av Tid
  6. Av Skuld Och Skam
  7. Arbete Ger Frihet
  8. Allting Är Lidande
  9. Orsak Föder Orsak
  10. Är Du Hora Eller Gud
  11. Din Sista Dag

If you live somewhere around Europe — but perhaps also if you are elsewhere in the world — you probably know that on September 9 elections are going to be held in Sweden and that, as usual, there is a growing nationalist party, while the so-called moderate parties appear to be losing their charm against this mirror-image of themselves. And yet, also in Sweden there is a huge social bloc that strives to break this apparent dichotomy between the two faces of the Capital, refuting conservatives, nationalists, religious hierarchies, cheaters and so on.

Fredag den 13:e have been around for more than a decade now, and have already become a staple in the lively Gothenburg hardcore-crust scene. "Dystopisk Utsikt" ("Dystopic Vision") is their fourth album, once again released with the French label Deviance, and with the support of a handful of other partners (including the Italian Epidemic Records).

The cover sets things straight from the start: the world represented by this humongous church is a bearer of death and is the exact opposite of what the quintet would like to see. I won't proceed with an unlikely analysis of the lyrics, as Swedish isn't exactly my first language, but I will try and highlight some of the main themes. In "Plågad Av Ljuset" ("Plagued By Light"), the light preached by religious orders becomes evil; of course they have something in store about consumerism as well in "Sälj Mig Lycka" ("Sell Me Happiness"), and each song is a fiery attack against the many faces of the exploitation operated by power. About thirty-four minutes of social rage which you might probably need as well.

As for music, it is... well, hardcore-crust of perfectly suitable Swedish flavor (people who have clearly listened to lots of Wolfbrigade, just to give out a name), so do not expect delicate arpeggioes or elegant atmospheres. I would say my favorite song on here is "Arbete Ger Frihet" (I don't think we need a translation in this case) with its whirling pace and the piercing shrieks coming from who knows horror and doesn't want it to happen again.

Over these weeks, Fredag den 13:e are taking their dystopic vision around Europe, appearing for example at the Paranoya Festival in Dresden. As I write, we don't know the political future of Sweden yet, but what's sure is that Fredag den 13:e will stand firmly and loyally on the same side.

Band: Antisoph
Title: Antisoph
Year: 2018
Country: Germany
Label: Geisterasche Organisation

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Translation: Crypt Of Fear
  1. Karmaghoul
  2. Hypnoroom
  3. Distant Scream
  4. Death
  5. Teleport Maze
  6. Ghostking
  7. Rejoice

If I had to define Antisoph to you in a few words, I would say that they are a Black Metal band which, at the same time, is not. Unfortunately, my infallible intuition tells me that this definition is not clear enough, so I will have to explain myself better.

The band's eponymous debut is, in fact, the successor of a record released in 2016, when these Germans were (un)known as Orb. I only listened to that album very quickly — mainly because the cover art inspired me sympathy — and I think that things have become much more interesting since those times.

"Antisoph"'s artwork, on the other hand, perfectly captures the band's musical style: the subject would look like any Black Metal album, yet the classic dark tones leave space — for the most part — to more vivid colors. However, even infernal abominations such as those who decorate the cover are entitled to such striking colors.

Similarly, the seven tracks that make up the album have blast beats, dissonances, tremolo picking and a little of all of that Black Metal paraphrenalia. All but one big absentee: the scream, in whose place we find a refined clean voice — on some occasions vaguely similar to Garm in its theatricality — far removed from any extremism. This, however, is only one of many elements taken from other genres: music often presents progressive tendencies, particularly in guitars and rhythmics; alternated with Black outbursts and excited Thrash phases, without counting the acoustic moments ("Rejoice") and Rock'N'Roll passages like the one that opens the record.

Antisoph are apparently a creature out of control, prey to a desire to constantly change, yet able to be easily appreciated in any evolution: if on one hand the band changes the cards in play several times, on the other hand still manages to make the songs catchy, though the term may sound wrong in this context; whether it's a guitar riff, a vocal line or other details, each piece has some detail that makes it recognizable from the earliest listenings, a sign of strong identity. No intellectual excesses and no instrumental onanisms, in favor of the right balance between experimentation and easy listening perfectly exemplified by "Hypnoroom".

"Antisoph" impresses positively for its not revolutionary personality, but solid enough to find its own space in the endless sea of the Metal releases. Whether you want to consider it Black dyed with Prog or Prog dyed wtih Black, if the two genres are to your liking, you will not struggle to appreciate this album.

Band: Drawn And Quartered
Title: The One Who Lurks
Year: 2018
Country: U.S.A.
Label: Krucyator Productions

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  1. Nefarious Rites
  2. Ravage The Cadaver
  3. Horned Shadows Rise
  4. Deliverance To The Worms
  5. Temples Of Arcane Devotion
  6. Carnal Transmigration
  7. The One Who Lurks
  8. Portals Of Communion

Drawn And Quartered are not a trivial matter, those who know them already know this is a name that is a sin to underestimate. The band from Seattle has devolved its life to produce darkness-laden death metal since their 1999 debut "To Kill Is Human". Six records later, Drawn And Quartered are still here, with a respectable discography on the shoulders and the desire to throw out intransigent and aggressive music that does not look in anyone's face.

Six years have passed since the previous "Feeding Hell's Furnace", but to tell the truth nothing much has changed with this "The One Who Lurks". The production is still fantastic, designed to resume the feeling of rotting primordial death metal, glorifying the sound's natural power that adorns the songs with that air of fierce delirium so dear to us. The tracks remain anchored to the band's style, which over the years has been refined in the formula, and yet it brings back to life the blasphemous impetus of the beginnings. Here we are in front of hellish offensives at great speed, viscious melodies and slow sections spreading sulfur in the air, while a growl coming from some dark ravine screams its sacrilegious verses.

The tracklist is a succession of moments of neverending tension, riff after riff we are taught what terror is, and there is no need to wait long, since the initial "Nefarious Rites" makes clear that we are not in a position to escape, because of its central part that, listening after listening, I found myself waiting for with some anxiety. Even going further into the tracklist we find really worthy suffocating moments: for example the sinister "Ravage The Cadaver" and the titletrack.

"The One Who Lurks" is a record that keeps its relevance high even in the old school death metal scene, which is moving in their same stylistic direction. We must certainly remember Drawn And Quartered are among the inspiring bands of this trend and not the last ones, but I do not find this topic alone should push you to listen to them: what should convince you is the work itself, which has so much to say beyond the name who made it. I would even go so far as to recommend starting from "The One Who Lurks" to those who want to (re)discover this band, and then maybe with time get back the previous albums.

Note: looking at the Bandcamp page of Krucyator Productions, I noticed that the digital version of the album costs only €1. If you are curious, you have no excuses now.