Another lot of superb releases coming from Greek artists, proving that despite the overall country’s situation its music scene is vocal and vital. Two facts not necessarily unrelated between themselves…
Stheno/FACADA - Primitive (Split CD)
In this one year that this blog is running this is the third release of Stheno that we had the privilege to review and despite their over-productivity, the Greek Grind core masters achieve to keep the quality high. For the ones who have already been in contact with Stheno’s material in the past you more or less know what you will hear in Primitive. Hyper fast, strongly political Grind core with vocals which frequently cross the borderline with Black Metal. One thing that I personally miss this time is the experiment with slower and more epic songs like Poisoned Tears of the Blessed (Ireland 1972) in the previous album, however tracks like Conceit Marries Power can still guarantee some serious goosebumps to the fast guitar riff lovers.
Chaotic End - Promise
Greek Crust core scene legends Chaotic End have returned with a new full length release after 24 years of idleness. Promise follows the musical direction of In Front of Paranoia (their previous album released back in 1993) and if I dare to say is better than its predecessor. Doom parts, core speeds, double vocals, pessimistic lyrics all put perfectly in place making Promise another masterpiece by a band that had defined the sound of Greek hardcore/crust scene back in the 90’s and has been a major influence for newer bands like Kataxnia. Sakis Tolis, from Black Metal legends Rotting Christ, contributes vocals in one track something that I could definitely not imagine happening back in 1993 but is a serious indication about how strong, mature and united the Greek scene nowadays is.
Conspiracy of Denial/Lethe split album
Two of the best bands of the latest Greek Hardcore wave in another great split release. The (almost) genre defying “dramatic” element of Greek Hardcore bands is once more apparent and distinct in both sides of the split, thus expect no optimism here but rather darkness reflected both musically and lyrically. Conspiracy of Denial and Lethe manage to perfectly express and depict the agony and frustration that currently Greek society is into…and from this perspective, the album perfectly succeeds to become (another) musical documentary of a turmoiled Greek era…
Miasmal Sabbath - Ascension of the Foulest
10 inch EP from a band who is not shy to reveal that they equally like Death metal and Crust core. After their previous 5 song, self-titled mini album (released back in 2015) Ascension of the Foulest is a continuation with this time “bigger” production, longer songs but without losing anything in the aggressiveness and “hideousness” of their sound. All good, but guys we need a full-length album soon…
Katavasia - Daemonic Offering
Black Metal supergroup (consisting of members from Varathron, Hail Spirit Noir, Agnes Vein, Aenaon) returns with a 7inch single showcasing that one of the things that Greece successfully produces and exports nowadays is high quality Black metal with its own personality and distinct sound (which is so much based on the love that almost all Greek metalheads have for classical heavy metal). Only two songs - one in each side of the single - with Requiem For The Nocturnal Lover having some of the best Heavy Metal (and when I write Heavy Metal, I mean REAL Heavy Metal) riffs you have heard this year. B-side’s Diabolic Spirit, is a slower epic incorporating keyboard parts which build an atmosphere that reminisces the golden era of Greek Black metal of the early 90s (Necromantia, Varathron).
Dead Congregation - Rehearsal June 2005
According to the single cover, the recording was “Captured live at rehearsal sometime in June 2005, completely unedited, devoid of overdubs and any mixing treatment whatsoever”. Most of the songs included in this 7inch later appeared in the Graves of the Archangels (one of all-time Death metal masterpieces). This is the rawest from of Dead Congregation that anyone can possibly listen to (even though the sound quality -considering this being a live rehearsal - is still superb). If you are planning vacations to Hell this year, this is your perfect soundtrack…
Dephosphorus - Impossible Orbits
When it comes to (congested) genres like Grind core not too many bands can claim that they have an original and unique sound, however Athens based Dephosphorus can surely boast about such a thing. Their new album finds them playing their hyper-speed trademark “Astro Grind” with blast beats perfectly combined with Black metal riffs and vocals. Experimental at certain points (notice the greek lyrics in Asteroskoni or the slower parts in Micro Aeons of Torment - before its final outburst) Impossible Orbits is another excellent extreme metal release.
VIC - Zvarna/Karakolia EP
With both songs available for free download through the band’s Bandcamp since 2014 this long overdue (but unfortunately always relevant in the context of the times that Greece is going through) album finally receives a physical release in 10 inch vinyl format. For those who are not yet aware of VIC (acronym for Villagers of Ioannina City), they play a kind of stoner rock enriched with traditional Greek-Epirus instruments (like klarino), a combination which normally has all the potential to become a cheesy shipwreck however in the skilled hands of VIC it functions absolutely perfect.
Zvarna (Greek word for externalise my wrath by destroying everything I find in front of of me) is (obviously) a politically charged song built upon a traditional Epirus melody while Karakolia (greek slang for policemen) is a cover version a 1928 Greek rebetiko song (Toutoi oi mpatsoi pou rthan tora / These cops that just came in). From my previous sentences I am sure you have already gotten a sure hint about VICs political agenda so I will not elaborate further. I will conclude by saying that VIC have successfully managed to connect Greece’s musical tradition with its present.
Universe 217 - Live CD/DVD
If you would like to get an accurate impression about who Universe 217 are as a band, purchase this release but please start by watching the accompanying DVD first. Even though it does not contain all the songs included in the CD, it captures and transfers perfectly the atmosphere during the stellar performance(s) of the band. Someone once mentioned to me that in a more fair world Universe 217 would play in front of bigger audiences…on a second thought though I believe that such an “exposure” would maybe compromise the magic and the intensity of their shows…
Sofia Sarri - Euphoria
Definitely not metal-sounding or even closely related (although Sofia Sarri had participated in the last Aenaon album), without having the most catchiest of melodies and for sure not easy listening, Euphoria is still a wonderful album. Dark and haunting but at the same moment politically aware (Cuckoo), it successfully combines European folk with modern electronic ambient thus being one of the best things that I have heard recently (even though it has been released since the beginning of the year).