|3.9 (1 votes):|
I’m starting off my introductory paragraph a little differently today. If you’ve read my articles before, I usually start off by talking a little bit about whatever genre or style the band I’m talking about is a part of, maybe talk about my experience with the style or common notions surrounding it, and use that to transition into whatever release I’m talking about. But I figured I’d do something a little bit different today. So, a Strigoi is apparently a distressed spirit that has risen from the grave in Romanian Mythology. They’re said to be nocturnal, possess the ability to transform into an animal, become invisible, and nourish themselves from the blood of living victims. If you think this might sound familiar to you then yes… you’d probably be right to infer that this is the modern basis for our common conception of a vampire in our modern collective consciousness. I mostly mention this, because first of all – I’m a bit of a mythology buff and have an interest in horror and cryptids. But secondly this is the name of the band I’m covering today, and that’s kind of why the name kind of caught my attention. It kind of interests me why certain bands choose the names they do for their bands- now it’s not that every band really chooses a name for any deep, meaningful, thematic reason, but a lot of times the names of bands and projects seem to reflect the overall sound or theme of their band. I mean think about how the band Blasphemy captures the abrasiveness and unholy sound and theme of their sound, or how Pallbearer captures such a mournful, melancholic sound or Incantation sounds so dark and malevolent. Usually you’d imagine that the name would at least fit the sound for the most part- it’d certainly raise an eyebrow if you found something called “Epilictic Convulsion” and it turned out to be ambient Jazz or something. So it definitely makes me wonder how well the name of this band fits the name- not that it’d be a gauge for my enjoyment of the album. But anyways, the album I’m reviewing today is Viscera by Strigoi, a death/doom band with crust elements from the UK, released on Season of Mist.
I really didn’t know what to expect going into the album, because on paper(or on Metal Archives at the very least) it’s listed as death/crust, but that wasn’t really quite what I got as soon as I started listening to this album. The first track, “United in Viscera”, begins with a very oppressive, doomy, rather dreary atmosphere, with a really heavy and quite dissonant guitar tone, drums that give off a feeling of tension and suspense, and a bass that just gives it an extra, all too foreboding edge. The day I was listening to it was a cool, misty November day, and it just captured the atmosphere of that day for me perfectly- it was as if it brought the weather of England right to my doorstep in a way. The vocals, while grunted, still communicate a surprising amount of emotion, coming off as being very brooding, with almost a feeling of pain and maybe resentment attached, and this dark and broody feeling is only backed up by what I’ve read from the lyrics. It really does bring to mind Paradise Lost actually- which actually made sense when I was looking up the lineup on the Archives- as it turns out, the guitarist and vocalist of this band, Gregor Mackintosh, actually is in Paradise Lost, much to my surprise! I’ve never been super familiar with the discography of Paradise Lost, aside from their 2015 album The Plague Within, which I probably got into when I was about 17. The next track, “King of All Terror” however is where things start to change a little bit from the Paradise Lost-esque doom/death metal affair however. After the slower, dissonant intro, packed with ugly chords and the dreary sound that should be trademarked by anything touched by Paradise Lost members, or a lot of the classic UK extreme metal bands from the 90’s, it just comes out all in your face with a faster, frantic, rage fueled D-beat/Crust Punk, almost grindcore infused death metal sound, which forms a rather interesting juxtaposition between this track and the track preceding it. From the very beginning, and as we shall see, to the very end, I did not know what move they were going to make throughout the entire album. There’s tracks on here that are on the doomier side, like “An Ocean of Blood”, which has a descending tremolo picked melody in it, and then there’s other songs that are all in your face with the D-beat stylings, which never let up at all, like “Napalm Frost”, which has to be one of my favorite tracks I might add, just because it’s one of those songs that kind of just make you want to throw knock over some furniture your room- but, I think what makes it so special on this album, is that yes, sometimes it makes the perfect backdrop for destroying the nearest piece of furniture, but it does that after you had just had an introspective brooding session.
And the further into the album you get- the more you realize that they’re just not a one-trick, or even a two-trick pony either in fact, because they only seem to pull more tricks out of their hat from there! Towards the end of “Hollow” for example, I hear a very blackened sounding riff, followed by wicked sounding death metal tremolo picking, which just leads to an amazing climax. There are moments which sound a lot more inspired by gothic metal, which is very fitting considering the background of the guitarist/vocalist. Whichever sound they go with for every moment of each song comes off as being used very tasteful too- and judging from the roster of seasoned musicians, with ex members of Vallenfyre and Carcass and current members of the Secret, among others I feel like each member seems to know what they’re doing, and they seem to capture the emotion of the moment in a very fitting way, with everything being tied together very cohesively, matching the theme perfectly. And they happen to mix styles and tones very well together. The redeemer has some of the most chaotic, grindy sections in it for example, but it still manages to retain this foreboding and unsettling feeling along the way as well. Iron lung has an outright haunting intro, and the haunting atmosphere only persists throughout the song, with uneasy feelings in each transition of that song, even with a depressing undertone. They find a way to capture so much powerful negative emotions throughout so much of the album, resentment, a bit of depression, malice, anger, dreariness, and so on.
Overall I just feel that this is one of the finest new releases of the year, and I would say that- yes, it is rather befitting of the name of the band, just in a surprising way. I was expecting this band to be a little bit more Black Metal oriented based on the name of the band alone, but it managed to be so much more than that really. But I would say that in a way, the music might reflect the loneliness, resentment, anguish and rage that a Strigoi that spends hundreds of years under a coffin by day, seeing human society falling apart at the seams around it by night possibly? So I think in a way my little thesis at the beginning holds maybe a little bit of weight, but maybe that’s just me trying to justify the blurb I wrote in the intro paragraph. But because of how much this album surprised me and the roller coaster this album kind of takes you on, I would probably give this album a 9.5/10. But of course, maybe with more listens to this album that score would be subject to change for me too. So definitely go give it a listen! You can find the album on Season of Mist for sure, and I’m sure the CD and Vinyl would be available on eBay or Amazon. But, until next time reader, I wish you a wonderful Yuletide!
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