|Sigillvm Tenebrae Records / S.N.D. Production
Last summer I had the chance to explore the extreme scene of the city of Stavropol — a Russian outpost born in the late '700s to stop the Ottoman Empire, today downtown with four hundred thousand inhabitants — thanks to a compilation by S.N.D. Production which stands for Stavropol Nekrodivision. One of the six bands involved in it was Lashblood, with two tracks off the first album "Philosophy Of Self-Flagellation: Being And Nothing". This year the band released the ep "Plasticine People", supported by the same label in collaboration with Sigillvm Tenebrae Records.
Half an hour of music in five tracks, three of which were previously unreleased and two are covers, where the avantgarde black metal of the Russian band develops through loose structures and sudden intuitions, as a matter of fact the influences mentioned on the Facebook page of the band include Arcturus, Ved Buens Ende and Code. That said, there is no surprise in finding the shimmering vocals of Sadist (who ranges from theatrical tones and epic passages to others of classic black metal aggression), the nervous riffs created by Shapeshifter, the jazz hints from Sunset's sax and melodies, dark and sometimes indutrial atmospheres, samples and a continuous rhythmic up and down with no continuity solution. Everything runs very smoothly, cohesive and it never gets too madcup, thrilling — even without actually astounding — in "Plasticine People" and "Cien Anos De Soledad" (inspired by Gabriel García Márquez's novel of the same name, "One Hundred Years Of Solitude" in English), which are the best tracks with no doubts, while "Kaleidoscope" is a dark and atmospheric closing, entirely instrumental. The teamwork of the six musicians — supported by two more elements for the lyrics, which I can't judge being written in Cyrillic — is good and leveled, so that I can't mention anyone that stands out.
About the covers of "Mercury" by Voivod ("Phobos", 1997) and "Lifeless" by Darkthrone ("Ravishing Grimness", 1999), they both sound strengthened but substantially faithful to the original ones, with some slight personal parts here and there. For this reason I consider them interesting, mostly because they allow to understand the range of influences of these Russians, rather than for their (relative) intrinsic quality.
The positive sensation obtained by their music get amplified on the more formal side of the sound, where the production is a good compromise between the need of emphasizing the many shades and the need of keeping the aggressiveness to ensure the frontal impact. About the graphic side, the perverted cover (photograph of a sculpture) and the pictures of the booklet perfectly match the deviated soul of the band. Overall, the digipak is really well crafted.
All things considered, on one hand I would have liked to listen to more music from Lashblood, but on the other hand their songs stood out compared to more famous bands and this is a good sign which led me to keep in mind the name of this band from Stavropol, hoping to have confirmations in the future. I'm sure I won't regret it!