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The Queen Is Dead Volume 92 – Ruim, Sigh, Static Abyss

For this ninety-second volume of The Queen Is Dead we are going to listen to the last three releases of the english Peaceville Records, always a reference for extreme music lovers.

We start with the new project of Rune Eriksen, better known as Blasphemer, former guitarist in Mayhem from 1995 to 2008, then in Aura Noir and founder of Vltimas, the band is called RUÏM and their debut work is entitled “Black Royal Spiritism – I – O Sino da Igreja”. On this record, the Norwegian guitarist is joined by the French drummer CSR aka César Vesvre, already in Aggressor and Thagirion.

The intention of Blasphemer, one of the most historical and respected musicians in black metal hell, is to make an old-school black metal record, starting with some riffs written in the Mayhem period and then never finished on record, and building on these to make something that is both ancient and modern at the same time.

Musically, the goal is achieved and the black metal here sounds great, fast and well-produced, with that musical timbre that will delight those who love classic black but not too much. Blasphemer’s guitar, who also plays bass and sings here, leads the way and CSR’s drums are remarkable in drawing fiery tempos. Conceptually, the record has a very interesting and little explored leitmotif in balck metal, namely the left hand path called Umbanda, a type of Brazilian witchcraft very much influenced by the African mysteries brought to the new continent by slaves, in short a very particular way of linking nature, spirits and man. Blasphemer studies and practices umbanda and this has led him to write some very particular texts that oscillate between Norwegian, Portuguese and English, in a continuous interpenetration of languages and cultures.

The setting might seem unusual, but after all, black metal is one of the best soundtracks for walking the paths of the left hand.

A very successful record, classic but at the same time modern and fascinating, the black talent of Blasphemer comes out in full force for a very enjoyable work.

“Live:The Eastern forces of Evil 2022” is the new album by the Japanese band Sigh, perhaps the most important and influential Japanese black metal group, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and do so with this live album that covers their entire career.

The title refers to their previous live album ‘The Eastern Force of Evil:live 92-96’, released in 1997 by Australia’s Order Of Death. That live record charted the early years of the Japanese band’s career, who in 1993 released the masterpiece ‘Scorn Defeat’ on Euronymous’s Deathlike Silence Productinos, which will be performed live this summer by the band as part of the Damnation Festival in England.

The live recordings were performed in the absence of a live audience during the coronavirus pandemic as so many other bands have done; afterwards Sigh decided that as the recordings came out very well it would be better to put them on audio and video rather than release them only on YouTube.

Listening to the record you have to give the band full credit, as the quality is really high, with an intensity and brutality that goes hand in hand with the musical exceptionality of this band. Sigh are never obvious, they have traced and continue to trace for thirty years a unique and unmistakable path made of dark and malignant music, with multiple sound solutions and with the intention of bleeding with the listener.

The unravelling of the concert takes us through the purulent wounds of a black metal with strong thrash and death influences, with a great use of keyboards and Japanese melodies, for a different idea of dark music, an idea that has been going on for thirty and more years.

The songs extracted from the band’s various albums take us to see and hear the mutations of their sound, their continuous musical research oriented towards the avant-garde, never an end in itself but always projected towards a precise and functional design. With this splendid live album, Sigh show us their great strength after thirty years of activity and only one year after the release of the excellent ‘Shiki’, also on Peaceville Records.

The excellent recording allows us to appreciate the damned beauty of Sigh both when they sing in English but especially when they do it in Japanese, a language that suits their music very well. Sigh use Japanese tradition and its mythology to demolish the easy preconception we have about the country of the Rising Sun. Variety, true avantgarde, the courage to always take the utmost freedom to do what one wants, Sigh affirm here all that and much more, for an excellent live record signed by a unique group that has its own music and when it plays it creates an unrepeatable universe.

It may be the years of activity they have in common, but Sigh have that unique musical pull that another immense group, the Mortuary Drape from Alessandria, but this is another black history.

We close this triptych of Peaceville Records releases with Static Abyss second album, ‘Aborted from reality’, released one year after their splendid debut ‘Labyrinth of Veins’ from 2022. The new duo consists of two American death metal legends Greg Wilkinson on guitar and bass, and Chris Reifert on drums and vocals.

The pair, as well as wreaking havoc with Autopsy, delight in this record that is a maelstrom of classic death metal, a touch of doom, thrash, and plenty of crust that pops up when you least expect it. All of the above may sound like a mess, but it actually comes out very well, with a very high destructive and corrosive power.

As already mentioned for the beautiful debut, Static Abyss know how to construct really well composed pieces, combining speed and abrasiveness for a remarkable depth. The two veterans take what they want and put it together to give a very recognisable sound that grinds your ears like bones, instantly becoming headbangingly wild. “Aborted from reality” has that classic death metal instinct that is also very much present in Autopsy, but it broadens the band’s sound spectrum to a different level, with more cadenced pieces that combine with moments that sound like something out of the never-forgotten game “Carmageddon”, when the asphalt drinks the blood caressed by twisting metal sheets. It is really hard to write about something that can only be appreciated by listening to it, and it is so worth it, which multiplies the surprise and happiness of the debut. Wilkinson and Reifert make an almost perfect record, never copying Autopsy except in attitude and sonic honesty.

A lush metal record, take it and have fun through our disease and our dirt.

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