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#161
It's kind of hard to find that threatening with such lovely molding on the walls, and beautiful baby blue hues on the walls.
Voted 3rd Friendliest User of UG 2010

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Saxo-Walrus

Steam & PSN ID: Panopticon20
#163
Quote by P1ayingW1thF1re
6/22/2012? A barbarian from the future!


Or a time zone which is ahead of yours
.
#164
apparently houses in the future look like retirement homes LOL

Quote by Stranglehold
He swallowed black nail polish and shat the word 'motherfucker' onto a non-metal kid. Rad.

Quote by severed-metal
You can dress a woman slutty, but she's not a slut. Understand?

living inside a drop only to die in an ocean
#165
Should we keep this as a tourney status / discussion thread and have all future matches separated into separate threads or just keep one giant thread?
HESSIAN HAREM
FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE HESSIAN CULTURE. STAY TRUE.
#166
I think it would be better to organize it with separate threads each time... like the radios.. that way we don't have to search through several pages looking for something specific.

Quote by Stranglehold
He swallowed black nail polish and shat the word 'motherfucker' onto a non-metal kid. Rad.

Quote by severed-metal
You can dress a woman slutty, but she's not a slut. Understand?

living inside a drop only to die in an ocean
#168
Yeah, I'd say separate things into different threads, after this match. Would make thing easier to navigate.


My reviews/choice:


Summoning:

Like something straight out of A Song of Fire & Ice. Soaring horns guiding an army from the city, return of great victory and triumph, sending men far and away to topple opponents, and rival lands. "South Away" set that tone right up front, and it never really backed down from it. The general tone, and mood, was firmly set in a world far more fantastical than our own, and upheld its theme very well. "In Hollow Halls Beneath the Fells" had my mind racing with empty, barren wastes, trudging to the battles ahead, and "The Mountain King's Return" summarizing that well needed return, and rest.

My only real "beef" that I had from about the third song onward is that they would capture the feel of the battles, as well. Everything seemed very distant from the actual combat. Looking forward, or marching, to battle, returning from battle, scoping out battles, etc. There wasn't much action.

But, with that, I can't say I ever felt detached from the theme. Even without the action, and combat, it held up as an interesting, full bodied listen.


Absu:

Now THIS is where all the action went. Fierce, in your face combat. I can just hear the blood erupting from poor man's neck, and chest. Rampaging through legions of men, grabbing fate by the balls, and writing your own path. "Highland Tyrant Attack", and "Swords and Leather" just teeming with so much testosterone that you get a little head buzz just thinking about so much sweat, and anger.

I WILL say, though, I had a few more quarrels on this one than the former.

Firstly, the man's falsetto. wat. It fits the overall style, and it's not really BAD, but what the hell is he doing? He sounds like he's trying to strike fear, like King Diamond, but he carries so little tone, at times, that he just sounds like a screaming schoolgirl being touched by the class's resident frumpy child.

Also, as much as the actual violence was captured, the overall FEEL of the album didn't really ring true to the theme as much as I'd like. I definitely hear that mood, and it's clearly evident, but it didn't really do as much as I'd like it to. Not enough gallops, and drawn out guitar lines, etc. It was fierce, and full of the action native to "swords and sorcery", but never really GRIPPED my in that theme. Never saw kings fall, or wastelands trekked. Not enough transition, I guess? Kind of conflicted on my feelings towards it.


MY CHOICE:


As evident as it may be, I'm going with SUMMONING as my winner. Even with its lack of action, it soared over Absu's harsh battles, and gr1m combat with its sweeping melodies, and thoughtful imagery.

Voted 3rd Friendliest User of UG 2010

BUILD A TIME MACHINE, AND JERK OFF IN IT, AND SEND IT TO HITLER!


Saxo-Walrus

Steam & PSN ID: Panopticon20
#169
Bloody great reviews, guys! You could give people like me who do this regularly a run for their money. Anywho, back to the topic;

Summoning:

The "triumphant" sound of the synths, the use of ambience and folk elements, the marching drumwork all mixed in with the harsh vocals and electric guitars conjures up images of Middle Earth and an Orc army marching into battle, but, I find that the whole thing feels like they are forever marching onwards on a neverending journey, which for me, leaves it undeserving of the "Swords and Sorcery" label and as stated above, something more akin to a "High Fantasy" theme.

Absu:

I feel that Absu brings forth a feeling of barbaric combat with swords flying everywhere and warriors proving their worth to their Kingdom. The pummeling in your face riffage, the commanding vocals of Proscriptor, the furious drumming; all of this makes me feel like I am in the middle of a raging battlefield. To me, "Sword and Sorcery" is the more action orientated brother of "High Fantasy" and so, I find Absu suits the theme more appropriately than Summoning.

Verdict: Absu makes me think "Sword and Sorcery" whilst Summoning makes me think "High Fantasy". Absu win my vote.
#170
I just got here and everything's awfully cluttered. Separate thread would probably be better


I'll give the albums a listen. Moreso Absu since I haven't really given it a proper chance
| (• ◡•)| (❍ᴥ❍ʋ
#171
Quote by progbass
Here here. A single or double elimination tier tournament would be pristine. Who else will cast their mind in competition for glory?

Late but it seems we are all in agreement that a gauntlet for glory is the way to go. What happens though when our tourney is at an end? Start it all over again?

And I'll post my reviews at some point soon here. I think I've a mind who's the victor of this challenge, however I must be sure.

Also, separate threads is a good plan, to keep things clean and neat.
Quote by MoogleRancha
It's like Fenriz and J. Read

"I'm so happy to love metal and stuff"

"I AM metal"
Last edited by Burning_Angel at Jun 21, 2012,
#172
I think we need a vote cap/requirement, like a solid number, since non-contestants will be reviewing, should be an odd number as well.
Quote by Steve08
Acid probably makes you feel less like a hedonistic raver piece of trash, too.

#173
I'm gonna vote against having a separate discussion thread. I do think we should split each contest into a new thread, but I think those threads can contain discussion as well.

IMO it's more convenient having everything in one location. Things feel cluttered now because we're still working out the logistics of the contest. Once the game is in full swing the clutter will go away.

Anyway, onto the reviews.

Summoning

I was only somewhat familiar with Summoning before this contest, but I had never really paid that much attention to them. Regardless, I knew enough about them to know what to expect, and I got exactly that.

First thing I hear is big, epic, majestic orchestral keys. It's really obvious why this album was picked for this theme; the arrangements put you right into the throne room of the king's castle, but do it without the blatant cheese of Euro-power metal like Rhapsody.

However, therein also lies one of the flaws in this album. While the orchestral melodies are beautiful, it's simply blatantly obvious how fake the orchestra is. I realize most black metal bands can't afford to have a real orchestra on their album, or even afford a good-sounding orchestra patch. Hell, maybe I'm just biased from hearing brilliant DCI hornlines or from being in a Sudler Trophy-winning marching band at a school with a good music program, but there's just no comparison. Summoning's synth sound more like a video game orchestra.

I also wish the album had more in the way of killer riffs. The guitars are almost treated as part of the orchestra, rather than driving the songs as is typical of black metal. I realize that this is an artistic decision, and there are certainly some cool guitar parts, but I prefer my black metal to be a bit more vicious. This would help with the theme of the contest as well; there is lots of sorcery hear, but the lack of riffs takes away from the sword aspect.

The album also feels far too long. When your songs are mostly in the 7-9 minute range, you need to vary your song structures far more than Summoning do here. Some of the melodies are absolutely brilliant, but they get tiresome after a while, especially when all of the songs are at the same tempo.

Absu

Absu are another band I was only somewhat familiar with. Tara is absolutely vicious. The only other album I've heard is Abzu, which I don't remember much of.

Where Summoning was mostly sorcery, Absu is certainly mostly sword. Third Storm of Cythraul is thrashy and vicious, but not as thrashy and vicious as Tara, and the riffs aren't nearly as memorable. Like the Summoning album, the songs tend to run together, but there are more things to latch onto on Third Storm that make the album feel less repetitive. The acoustic bits help a bit here.

Beyond that, though, there's nothing really blatantly wrong with Third Storm. There's just nothing it really does right, either. Tara is a classic, Third Storm is decent but unremarkable.

Final Verdict

The two albums in competition each represent, to me, opposite sides of the theme. This isn't a point against them; neither album requires a reach in logic to make it fit the subject.

This brings me to my method of determining my vote. Many of the other reviewers are picking their albums based on which album they feel fits the theme better. Since both albums fit perfectly well IMO, my vote goes to the album I like more.

Both albums were disappointing given each band's respective reputation. Let Mortal Heroes... is epic in its scope but the musical territory it covers is far too narrow, and there are aesthetic things that put me off. Third Storm of Cythraul pales in comparison to its successor, but there are still some good riffs and it was an otherwise solid listen.

My vote: Absu - The Third Storm of Cythraul
#174
Is it too late to step into the light and loudly proclaim: "#aNewChallengerAppears!"?
I’m not the man I used to be, I... I can’t go back to Arkham.

I... I should return to Arkham.


Among the churchyard’s mouldering stones I recognise a name – my own.
I have come home to Arkham.

#175
Considering we need one more for a tournament, I dont think so.
Quote by MoogleRancha
It's like Fenriz and J. Read

"I'm so happy to love metal and stuff"

"I AM metal"
#177
I'm not likely going to be able to stream the Absu one enough times to pass judgement and my download (of ambiguous legality) is taking forever. How long till voting closes?
#179
Summoning - Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame

Summoning is an obvious choice for the criteria of Swords and Scorcery, despite the fact that if you were to strip away the occaisonal rasps and the barely present guitar, it would not qualify as metal in the slightest. The atmosphere created by the album is one of glorious victory, like feasting at the king's table after a triumphant battle. However, this theme is present in varying proportions throughout the album, and before you finish the exhausting hour, it's worn a little thin.

The songs themselves often come off to me as a little half-baked; The opener A New Power is Rising for instance presents a nice musical motif that it expands upon adding different elements and variations to accent the exultant mood it invokes. However, over the four minutes it feels like it is building to a climax that ultimately never comes, instead it drops off and meanders into South Away.

Production value has always been a notable point of black metal, possibly moreso than other genres; combined with the right music, it easily brings in a suffocating atmosphere, but when you mix it with cheap MIDI horns playing over-the-top triumphant orchestral music, it sounds more like an early 90s video game of a Charlton Heston movie than a landmark black metal album.

Absu - The Third Storm of Cythraul

This is where the power really lies. If Mortal Heroes is like feasting triumphantly at the King's table, The Third Storm of Cythraul is getting right in the thick of it, frantically hacking away at your enemies on a bloodied battlefield. There's enough variation on this album that it's easy to know where you are, but consistent enough to feel like a single entity.

It wouldn't really be difficult to remove the 'Swords and Sorcery' connotation and not give it a second thought, as it's not a theme that I immediately think of when I hear this album. It does have it's moments, such as the feeling of marching into battle that occurs midway through Customs of Tasseomancy, or the frantic blood pouding of Highland Tyrant Attack, for one.
In Absu's case, a raw production sound works in their favour, making the music sound feral and vicious, instead of weak and underpowered.

In terms of how close the album is to the criteria, Summoning would be the clear winner. However, in terms of the quality of the music judged by it own merits, Absu comes out on top.
Quote by duncang
maybe it's because i secrely agree that tracedin inymballsackistheb best album ever


he's got the fire and the fury,
at his command
well you don't have to worry,
if you hold onto jesus' hand
#180
Well, the results of this challenge are a bit of a surprise to me.

Summoning - Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame

I, like many on this board love the hell out of Summoning [although this is not the record I would've chosen of theirs]. South Away has one of their greatest riffs, and the thundering march of the drums is fantastic on this record, despite their programmed nature. The songs build slowly on themes, and conjure epic landscapes from Middle Earth, with a touch of Sword and Sorcery, to be sure. That's the issue in the case of this album however, mostly this album is like snapshots of landscapes or portraits of sword and sorcery, despite that I love it. It is great. But Absu is indeed a worthy challenger, from a different direction.

Absu - The Third Storm of Cythraul

As far as Absu goes, this is not my favorite record of theirs, but I commend Riffy for sticking to his style here. The Celtic influence in the few clean parts, and the subtle synth use adds just enough sorcery to Absu's inherent "sword" nature that it nails the theme quite well. Proscriptors vocals are a bit ridiculous on this album, as compared to Tara, but the drums are as usual top notch. The guitars are a tad thin and distant at times however, which detracts from the experience for me [despite the great riffing presented]. Where Summoning is a snapshot, almost like a painting/portrait, Absu is much more visceral, active, like you're in the battle yourself with wizards and orcs and violence all around.

Both albums fit the theme for me, Absu perhaps surprisingly slightly better than Summoning, but one reigns supreme in the end. While I personally like it slightly less than the other album, my victor is Absu!
Quote by MoogleRancha
It's like Fenriz and J. Read

"I'm so happy to love metal and stuff"

"I AM metal"
Last edited by Burning_Angel at Jun 22, 2012,
#181
I hate that blog-based downloading of albums has all but died, because of useless government intrustion.


Streaming some of these albums WILL be a bitch, for me. I know WHERE to "obtain" good music, but it's hit-or-miss a lot, and there aren't always torrents, etc.


Gonna be the only thing that might delay my reactions to some albums.


All in all, though, this game looks to be going beautifully. It's simple, and straightforward, but exciting enough to cause a perfect stir.
Voted 3rd Friendliest User of UG 2010

BUILD A TIME MACHINE, AND JERK OFF IN IT, AND SEND IT TO HITLER!


Saxo-Walrus

Steam & PSN ID: Panopticon20
#182
Quote by Riffmast

Should voting by limited only to contestants, we need to make sure that we have an uneven number of voters, so i was thinking the theme chooser and the two contestants in battle would be exempt, with the other contestants making up a council of 13 to vote on the matter.


Well we now have more members who want to play.

And I definitely want Kepulix in on this.

IMPORTANT:

If we are going through with the tournament we are all so keen on, we need to set a few more things straight.

Voters: We need to make sure we have an odd number of voters obviously. The dilemma here is that I would like to keep it that any forumer can review/vote, even if they are not a player. Since we can only have so much players, I feel like this involves everyone since we have to limit the amount of players involved.

That being said, there are advantages to only letting the players vote.

For now we will be letting everyone vote, if a tie occurs we will fix it. If you would prefer a different voting system, PM me.

Joining the game: I will be closing entries at the end of today. I am doing this so we can move forward with our tournament style of play. There will be future tournaments for anyone who wants to play but doesn't join by the end of tonight.

More to come
A heathen, conceivably
but not,

I hope,
I’m not ashamed to be white
Vi doede ikke... vi har aldri levd
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind
Civilization is unnatural

It is a whim of circumstance
an unenlightened one
#183
This definitely sounds like an interesting idea, and hopefully it'll lead to some good discussions of various albums. Often, an important part of appreciating an album is figuring out exactly what it's going for, and hence what kind of mindset you have to take towards it to appreciate it, and given that this thread sort of does that by default, it could also be a decent way of finding new things to listen to. I suppose I may as well throw my hat into the ring if possible; I have nothing to lose but my dignity, and as such there's not much risk. I'll try and get some reviews up soon in the near future as well.

#aNewChallengerApproaches
But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart's extent
Reduces it to none.
#184
Quote by VampireGoldfish
Voters: We need to make sure we have an odd number of voters obviously. The dilemma here is that I would like to keep it that any forumer can review/vote, even if they are not a player. Since we can only have so much players, I feel like this involves everyone since we have to limit the amount of players involved.

That being said, there are advantages to only letting the players vote.

For now we will be letting everyone vote, if a tie occurs we will fix it. If you would prefer a different voting system, PM me.

My suggestion: in the event of a tie, the most well-written review counts for two votes. Since there might be debates as to which review is the best, the power to decide would rest solely with you, or with a person of your choosing should you be competing that round.
#185
Summoning
This was the 1st time hearing this album by them, and it made a good first impression, and felt , at first, like a great choice for the theme, as Summoning's sound usually embodies a world with wizards, Orcs, and mystical landscapes. But I never got a "sword" vibe from the listen. As others have said, I get a feeling of being an observer of some great battle between orcs and men, the triumphant melodies giving a sense of "good conquers evil". This music is celebrating the victories, the battles that were fought, and the heroes that are long dead, but it doesn't tell of the blood that was shed, the violence and wars that were waged.

Absu
I'd heard this album before, and knew it was probably the best choice for "swords and sorcery". The album is full of swords and violence, the riffs capturing the feel of Celtic warfare. The sorcery isnt present as much as it could be, and Ill have to give a slight edge to Summoning for that. But Absu perfectly demonstrates a feeling of being on the battlefield, sweat and blood and warpaint staining your face as you bury your axe into a foes skull, the power of the shamans blessing coursing through your veins. Ill have to give this one to Absu.
#186
Summoning
This was the first time I have had the chance to hear this album. The intro starts with a really epic warlike atmosphere complete with horns and militant drums that give you the impression something epic is going to happen. My assumptions were correct as the next song comes in. I really like how everything ties into the main theme smoothly which further induces your imagination to run wild. Of course, this gives me a huge "World of Warcraft" vibe... and I hate World of Warcraft. Nevertheless, this album most definitely incorporates the "sorcery" in an elegant and majestic package complete with horns, "military" drums and synths to name a few standout moments. I couldn't really get the warlike vibe I was looking for and ultimately the "sword" vibe just wasn't there. I really enjoyed the album and I can definitely count this one as being imaginative and concise despite its shortcomings related to "swords."

Absu
Like the Summoning album, this was my first listen of this Absu album. Immediately I noticed a much more fast paced in your face aesthetic with really harsh vocals and guitar/drums. One thing that popped out was the vocals in some sections which reminded me of that insanely ridiculous Lust album Annihilation...Resurrection. I really enjoyed the vibe of this album which surely brought the battle to your ears and shoved it straight through your skull like a dull and bloody broadsword whos wielder is only concerned with a body count. Obviously, this album is more about swords and brutality than sorcery. However, that doesn't dismiss the fact that this album is straight to the point and really delivers on its theme with commitment. There are some parts which can embody sorcery but they are definitely few and far between. This album was also a great listen and had some awesome riffs/drums with a thrashy intense vibe.

Conclusion
All in all, these albums are great and I will definitely give them both another listen in the future. They both deliver with a concise theme and excellent atmosphere complete with creativity. Ultimately, Absu gets my vote. I feel Absu's album just feels more complete and to the point with various flavors and textures mixed in as opposed to the Summoning album which felt boring and monotoned. Absu's album embodies the theme more completely than the Summoning album.

Vote: Absu

Quote by Stranglehold
He swallowed black nail polish and shat the word 'motherfucker' onto a non-metal kid. Rad.

Quote by severed-metal
You can dress a woman slutty, but she's not a slut. Understand?

living inside a drop only to die in an ocean
#187
So this is the third day of reviewing/voting which means this is the last and final day to do so.

Tonight I will tally the votes and declare a winner. Then I will be posting the tournament bracket we will be using and include the new users.
A heathen, conceivably
but not,

I hope,
I’m not ashamed to be white
Vi doede ikke... vi har aldri levd
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind
Civilization is unnatural

It is a whim of circumstance
an unenlightened one
#188
I think you won this one Riffy, cheers for the great match up. May we meet again in the Your Move Arena.
HESSIAN HAREM
FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE HESSIAN CULTURE. STAY TRUE.
#190
At one point I was sure I was to loose. Really was an epic comeback, we should have tournament sighn ups, as some people signed up for this when it was just casual and may not be down to commit to a tournament,let me know how many people are down and i'll set up a good tournament structure, I would like to make it so people don't just end their tourney career afer one loss.
Quote by Steve08
Acid probably makes you feel less like a hedonistic raver piece of trash, too.

#191
I mean, its Riffmast. If I was to lose to anyone, I hope it would be to you or Wildchild.
HESSIAN HAREM
FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE HESSIAN CULTURE. STAY TRUE.
#192
Well and the way I set thing up you could still win this, everyone gets one chance to redeem themselves after a loss, in order to make 18 people work I had to make quite the epic tournament plan.
Quote by Steve08
Acid probably makes you feel less like a hedonistic raver piece of trash, too.

#193
Summoning:

From the first notes of its not-really-orchestra, this album makes no attempt to be subtle about its intentions. It's pretty clear that what we're going in for here is something seeking the general description of 'epic,' with perhaps a touch of 'symphonic,' and thankfully no vestiges of 'Rhapsody.' As such, it's pretty unconventional for a black metal record, due in large part to its lack of, well, guitar riffs, although it still maintains clear affinities to the form in how it attempts to evoke atmosphere, using its keyboards to establish the repetition, etc., which guitars would usually be responsible for. Still, while this seems to work up to a point, after a while it does also seem that the use of keys is perhaps a bit too one-dimensional, and when it departs from this dimension it's generally not in the body of the songs.

I can definitely see why people associated this album with 'high fantasy;' it seems to have a more-or-less omnipresent sense of scale, an atmosphere evoking two great armies readying themselves for war across some epic battlefield, maybe with a couple of elves and gnomes along for the party. Indeed, it quite explicitly references Tolkien, although you'd have to say it's less like Tolkien and more akin to an RPG soundtrack, or generally a background rather than a text. The lyrics also generally follow along these kinds of lines, with verses such as:

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep where dark things sleep
In hollow halls beneath the fells


(Do dark things dream of nightspots?)

In any case, though, as others have pointed out, it also seems to go perhaps too exclusively in one direction, to the exclusion of other aspects. What I tend to associate with the epic, and find to constitute its specific appeal, is the sense of breadth, of the width and length of the world: the sense of, say, experiencing a large, multi-faceted world, where each area has a life of its own, but is nonetheless connected in some sort of whole which is synthesized in our own experience - in which, looking back, we can recognize each area of this world as contained in us (I was there once, I lived that once, etc.) - or, alternatively, the play of the multiplous gods, in the Ancient Greeks, to form the single world between them, for example in Homer, etc. (Hence why Milton, to highlight the difference of his Christian epic from a classical, 'epic,' epic, has a great war be waged for multiple days before God just goes and resolves it by fiat.) This satisfies a fairly basic urge; indeed, it seems to have even formed a large part of what attracted children to the Pokemon games back in the day, with their relatively large worlds united by the main character's wide-ranging quest (Homer -> Milton -> Pokemon. "A singularity of English tragedy, so repulsive to French feelings that Voltaire used to call Shakespeare a drunken savage, is its peculiar mixture of the sublime and the base, the terrible and the ridiculous, the heroic and the burlesque.") However, this record doesn't really seem to give us that, but rather stays more or less in the same place throughout.

This seems to be its basic problem: it attempts to be epic, but ultimately it feels like we're stuck on the same battleground the whole way through, watching great armies converge without any idea of who they are, what it means to them, and why it matters to us. Who am I in this battle, and what's motivating the people below to struggle through its sturm und drang? In the end, it doesn't really feel like I've just undertaken a massive journey, but rather that I've found a good soundtrack for the occasional battle scenes of a fantasy movie. I mean, once in a while the music will take on a more introspective or lyrical tone, a smaller-scale one at the least, as in the opening of 'Our Foes Shall Fall,' but ultimately they don't really go anywhere with these parts, and the vocalized sections and 'body paragraphs' of the songs are all generally in their 'epic' mode, so that these seem little more than interludes. Maybe it's because of their commitment to the black metal side of things that they only felt comfortable tackling the parts with walls of (albeit keyboard) sound and which could be treated more or less like normal black metal with the vocals, but maybe it could've been worth experimenting in order to capitalize on those softer sections.

That said, however, their evocation of the album's chosen epic atmosphere is generally quite competent, and they have quite a few good melodies and such through the album. While the album as a whole starts to maybe get a bit old as it goes through, the songs individually are quite consistent, and it's hard to find any that you'd say were 'bad' per se. Each song does well at conveying a strong sense of expectation - of, as I said, two armies ready to face each other across a battlefield - although this also seems to imply that the songs shouldn't be standing alone, but need some content to fill the expectation, which the album doesn't really fulfill on the whole. As such, it does seem more like a sort of soundtrack music, something which could work as separate tracks in the background to something which gives it content and a coherent narrative. This would probably be more along the lines of high fantasy than sword-and-sorcery per se, given that it lacks the individualistic, striving focus of S&S and seems rather to focus on an atmosphere of 'grandness,' not so much of 'sorcery over swords' as a view in which the swords and spells in their specific forms are blurred together in the distance, where you can't really make out much dividing one sword from the next within the distant armies, and the focus is rather on the sheer size of the sides involved and of the conflict, on the mass of swords rather than the swords themselves.

TBC,
But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart's extent
Reduces it to none.
#194
One aspect which I did quite like, however, was the use of samples. They seemed to be placed in a way which allowed them to cast quite a wide web of connotations, and implied their significance without making anything too explicit. It was quite a useful way of compressing a wide breadth of meaning into a small space, and providing hints of a greater story which could have perhaps been elaborated upon further. Of course, bands like OSI can do it without too much elaboration, and even benefit from this to some degree, but nonetheless they're not really in the epic mode so much as the lyrical, with touches of the dramatic, so that they're more focused on the depth of the individual than the length and breadth of the world. Compression and obscurity works for them. In an 'epic' album, perhaps the elements of depth should be used more to emphasize width (eg. the depth of an individual culture isn't necessarily of interest in itself in an epic context, but it does give a greater sense of world having a greater amount of places with lives of their own, and hence of width.) That said, for some reason I'm really fond of their repeated use of the quote, 'In the darkness, bind them.' In the darkness, bind them. In the darkness, bind them. In the darkness, bind them.*

All in all, it's not a bad album, and it does well what it sets out to do, although I'm not so sure that it achieves what it set out to achieve. Certainly, by itself it seems a bit too monotonous in its tone and atmosphere to rise to the highest level possible, although that's not to say that it doesn't have quite a bit of worth, and methods which could be useful to bands trying to convey this kind of atmosphere in the future, although perhaps they could do with more aspects to their own works. There's a fair few nice touches to the piece, and they do seem to have a good ear for melodies, although some of the more intimate, smaller-scale ones which they generate they don't necessarily seem to know what to do with. Overall, it definitely seems a bit more 'high fantasy' than swords and sorcery (originally typoed as 'sworcwery'), but it lacks much specification of the nations, armies and individuals involved in their conflicts, so that they all end up a bit faceless, making it sort of like a Lord of the Rings battle with zombies.

Absu:

Black-thrash, emphasis on the thrash. There's quite a bit of speed here, and less emphasis on the general atmospheric elements which black metal tends towards, leading towards a more driving, forceful form of metal. It's like if Wehrmacht had babies with a barrel of corpse-paint. The general sense I got from this album was that of some lone marauder furiously seeking vengeance through the lands, which I think is probably quite appropriate to the swords-and-sworcwery theme. Although the lyrics tend to refer to a 'we,' I generally get a sense of a single person being the subject, just because there's not really much of a sense of a collectivity in the music, or a sense of scope evoking a large-scale battle rather than an individual's experience of battle.

The music is pretty strongly infused with adrenaline, from its consistent speed to its tendency towards 'lashing' riffs and breaks, presumably intended to provoke headbanging. This, in some ways, makes it an inherently more individualistic experience to listen to, compared to the Summoning record; while The Album About Singing Heroes focused on evoking a large space outside of you, and hence is an inherently public experience in a sense, one focused on the world around you, this focuses to a large degree on evoking a physical and aggressive reaction in the listener as an individual, and creates a sense of, so to speak, universalized aggression, a 'one man against the world' sort of atmosphere. Its adrenaline is turned against the world, and it essentially seems to evoke an individual striving violently to establish itself in the world, within its bellum omnium contra omnes.

The highest points of the album, last track aside, seem to generally be when it succeeds in getting the driving, aggressive atmosphere going, as for example during the chorus of 'Swords and Leather.' The weaker points, on the other hand, seem to come when it tries to evoke other emotions, and doesn't really get off the ground, such as with the apparent lust of 'Customs of Tasseomancy,' which I probably wouldn't have realized was there if I hadn't seen the lyrics, or with the amusingly awkward ending of the first track, especially with its final verse:

Now you are spiritually drunk from the dragon's semen,
So set your arrow in the bow and coat it with the poison
"Belet-ili, O great pythoness, clutch me!"
"Belet-ili, O great pythoness, clutch me!"


The vocalist does sound a bit awkward at almost any points where you can make out what they're saying, a trait which doesn't help the aforementioned passage. If I were Belet-ili the great pythoness, I would probably be somewhat underwhelmed. That said, when you can't figure out what they're saying, they have a sort of Wehrmacht thing going where the vocals just serve to further emphasize the rapidity of the music, and which seems to work quite well. Like the lyrics of most Japanese metal bands, they are meant to be heard, not understood.

So, then, they basically adopt a dramatic, rather than epic, mode of approach, based on individual striving in and against the world. Towards its surroundings, the music channels aggression, rejection of external impositions, pure not-****-giving, and,

Beyond all this, the wish to be alone:
However the sky grows dark with invitation-cards
However we follow the printed directions of sex
However the family is photographed under the flagstaff --
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone.


It's a fairly basic tendency in metal, shared to some degree between Jag Panzer, The Lamp of Thoth and this version of Absu, all of which is based to a large degree on a sense of not really giving a **** about externally imposed order; for The Lamp of Thoth, it's expressed primarily in terms of not really caring about conservative Christian morality and going around seducing virgins and tripping, but Christian morality here is basically representative of imposed, heteronomous morality in general, being its dominant form in the West, while Jag Panzer express things in terms of wanton slaughter just 'cause ('Imma living my life 'causa WARFARE!'). As such, Absu aren't really being innovative here, and to be honest I'm not really sure that they necessarily have enough to offer over other iterations of the theme to make this album stand far out of the crowd.

Of course, this kind of music generally has a dissociative effect to it; that is, Harry Conklin isn't really much of a mass murderer, and The Lamp of Thoth are a metal band named The Lamp of Thoth, so one would assume that they don't go around seducing virgins as a common pastime. The primary end is tearing down pretensions, rather than a positive one per se. As such, there's often a humorous note to proceedings; The Lamp of Thoth are one of the few good bands that could accurately be characterized as comic, while Jag Panzer liked the line, 'Feel the nails on my baseball bat' enough to name a re-recording after it, and one can detect a pretty strong wink when they sing about how, 'The women, the children, the young and the old,' shall not escape the Panzer's stronghold. When the music isn't itself positive or introspective in content, the primary way that individuality comes across for a band, as also the way in which we get a glimpse of the people behind the music, is through the specific form which the 'tearing down' takes; in other words, through, as it were, the individual's particular way of undermining the order which they are fighting against.

TBC. Not really familiar with the post size restrictions when typing this, and it kind of shows.
But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart's extent
Reduces it to none.
#195
For example, The Lamp of Thoth have a very much individual, even idiosyncratic, form of humour, as well as a sense of self-consciousness about the content of their lyrics which doesn't come across as crude, simplistic, or pandering (they're tongue-in-cheek in their metal, but that's because they know their metal, not because they're trying to appeal to people who don't like metal, an aim which generally tends to lead to lacking individuality due to trying to live up to somebody else's ideal), and hence, through their specific form of wit, extended throughout their album until it becomes almost like an in-joke between them and the listener (taken by themselves, the individual tracks of the album may not have the same meaning as when united under the Lamp of Thoth banner), they take on a sense of personality, and hence individuality, which makes them worth listening to and interacting with. Carnivore does something similar. In getting to know an artist, just as getting to know a person (yes, I know, I'm using 'person' as a category opposed to 'artist,' but there's enough truth in the distinction for it to work), their having an interesting personality makes things a lot more worthwhile.

Likewise, Jag Panzer don't simply have a sense of general hostility, and indeed they don't usually evoke a massive amount of adrenaline at all, at least in my case, but they have a sense of strength and empowerment (thanks, Conklin) which becomes the real focus of their music over and against the themes of hostility and WARFARE!, so that they can just as well be tongue-in-cheek or spontaneously create an ambiguity between whether they are going to war or having sex or whatever else, and it doesn't really weaken their music much, because there's ultimately a strong sense of collectivity and community there, of sharing in, or channeling, a communal strength greater than any individual (represented, for many other bands, in the abstract figure of 'Heavy Metal'), which is in a sense enhanced by the use of 'in-jokes.' There is undeniably a sense of undermining worldly order, hence the gratuitous killing of women, children, and probably stray dogs and kittens as well (but only the ones with cute eyes), but nonetheless this accompanied by a strong positive element, a basic strength and power wielded by a 'we' - the band, and us, the listeners - which allows it to take on a sense of personality which is represented most clearly by Harry Conklin - clearly a figure to himself, but one whose vocal strength we may channel as part of the Jag Panzer community. We are all Conklin. \m/

There are plenty of other 'hybrids,' such as with John Mortimer's Primal, which channels a strong sense of pathos through not only fighting external forces, but also a sense of being one with the universal which filters through from Mortimer's theological background (especially clearly if you're used to his artistic 'personality.') 'I am strong because I am right.' ('You shall be defeated because you are not true.') This kind of thing, of course, gives free reign to the artist's own personality to assert itself, the reason why they are 'correct' and what they are correct about, in other words to a positive element which colours their critique and is asserted through it. The converse, which isn't particularly concerned with the positive, and generally focuses on not giving any ****s whatsoever, tends to gain personality through wit, as with The Lamp of Thoth, or Carnivore, who, despite the strength of their music, wouldn't be nearly as strong in that direction if they weren't shouting, 'MALE SU-PRE-MA-CY!' and engaging in horribly-veiled sexual innuendo involving alimentary preferences, and would become simply another 'good thrash band' rather an individual entity in their own right; this kind of thing is also pretty much the entire point of things like The Aristocrats joke or Stew Lee's anti-fundamentalist routine about vomiting into Jesus' orifices. Nonetheless, the basic point of this kinda-tangent is: generally speaking, above and beyond adrenaline and general aggression, which aren't really that hard to conjure up nor particularly individual (any mediocre grind band can probably keep up a mosh pit), stronger bands channeling that sort of emotion also find some way, ranging from wit to pathos (and a positive element asserted through it), to assert a personality despite the basically negative tendency of the music. The basic question, circuitously reached (and it seems fitting that this sentence should do so too), is, then: Do Absu, at least on this album, manage to do so?

Of course, the album has some unique elements, such as the relation to Celtic mythology. Nonetheless, the impact of this is minimized somewhat, due to the fact that the lyrics are generally not decipherable, or at least that listening to the vocals while focusing on making out the lyrics is generally an experience more amusing than enlightening. On the whole, there's not a lot about the album which is, well, Celtic, and as such its specific mythological focus doesn't really give it a unique personality (which is not simply to say that they don't use enough gimmicky elements nicked from Celtic music, but that their music doesn't really embody its subject matter in a manner which distinguishes it from other possible subjects. Maybe it would be better to say, 'They don't individualize their Celtic culture.') At the same time, it doesn't really seem to have a strong pathos of its own - its strength is mainly directed towards the negative side of things, the hatred and destruction, rather than developing a positive sense of the personality behind the music, of an emotional rosary beyond the thorns and nettles, and as such it doesn't really find much individuality in that direction. Needless to say, there doesn't necessarily seem to be a lot of wit buried in there, unless it's some obscure Celtic jokes for the large Celtic historian demographic of metalheads, in which case I must admit myself unqualified to appreciate this album's full worth.

That said, in some of their stronger moments, they can, for example, advance a positive sense of strength; for example, in 'Swords and Leather,' especially the chorus, they do channel common membership in the metal community as a source of strength (a la Jag Panzer's 'Black leather lords, / We're so tall and so proud!'), albeit in a way not necessarily original ('Shout a metal related thing, then append a descriptive tag, rinse and repeat.') They don't necessarily do so in a way which particularly individuates themselves, or thereby elevate themselves into a great band, but nonetheless they do have a definite effect.

In addition, they can certainly write some riffs, and their ability to keep up the pace consistently and accompany it with solid, whiplash riffing is certainly commendable and effective as things go. I mean, I've heard the riff in 'Swords and Leather' before, I'm sure you have too, and the same applies to quite a few other riffs on the album, but that doesn't stop them from being solid riffs, and the general consistency here does elevate them beyond simply 'garden-variety riffs' to form links in a larger chain, demonstrating through their succession the overall strength. Absu here clearly know how to do what they do, and would probably be able to count as a 'good black-thrash band,' better than most others doing the same, as far as aesthetic quality goes. Still, this is perhaps more a matter of doing generic tasks better than others, rather than making a task your own, which is generally what divides good, competent artists from great ones (or 'special/really good ones,' to avoid the hyperbolic connotations of the word 'great' (and not really achieve that).) Absu on this album seem akin to guitarists with good technical skill, who are hence better than most at that aspect, but lacking a real feel for the music they play, or for who they are in relation to it.

Another positive spot, as noted by others, is the final track, which seems to work very well as part of a trilogy of albums, creating a sense of 'epicness' and expectation which feeds into the next album, the stronger 'Tara,' and is probably one of the more adventurous tracks on this album, representing a rare diversion from type to try something different. It's still a bit rough around the edges, and the timing of the 'symphonic' elements often feels a bit 'off,' but nonetheless it does what it intends, and shows an ability to shift between styles which characterizes most strong artists. At the same time, it does to some degree highlight their lack of an overall personality at this point; when John Mortimer, say, or Kevin Moore, shift between styles, their personality still generally remains as a clear uniting link between different styles, and is quite readily perceptible despite the shift, while here the shift into 'epicness' removes any clear links with most previous tracks, once the technical aspects, such as having the same vocalist, production, etc., are removed from consideration. Nonetheless, while on the strength of this album alone I wouldn't necessarily feel inclined to look up the next, except for knowing already that it's 'Tara,' this last track does leave a good final impression, and would probably give at least some motivation to check out their further output.

All in all, then, it's an album which, though it is quite competent at channeling aggression, adrenaline, etc., doesn't necessarily go far enough past this physical reaction to create a strong artistic effect, or make it seem worth listening to over the many bands which do the same but also go further than this. Indeed, this is true even when comparing Absu's next album to this one. As such, this album doesn't necessarily seem to earn frequent listens, at least not 'cover-to-cover.'

TBC. Damnit.
But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart's extent
Reduces it to none.
Last edited by Haytham at Jun 24, 2012,
#196
Conclusion and a Judgement:

And judgement will be done!

First of all, thanks to the people who brought up the albums, you both made interesting choices, and I'm sure that these albums would have been new or near-new for a fair few members here, myself included. It was a tough choice, and I'm not sure what I would have chosen in your place, but the albums were both enjoyable to listen to and think about, and it's good to have been introduced to them. They were both worth listening to, and it's quite possible that they'll be of use in the future, especially when it comes to the Summoning album, which seems like, given the right time and place, it could be very much worth having around.

I apologize for the rather long rambles masquerading as reviews; still, they were of help to me in clarifying some matters, to myself at least, in attempting to better understand how music and art work, what to look for in judging and listening to them, as well as how to make them, and hopefully they were of some use to you, although I understand if they weren't. Still, not to extend things further beyond their due, it should be fairly clear by now which of the albums I think fits the theme better, but, to recap: Summoning's album seems to convey a high-fantasy, large-scale battle, but doesn't really touch on the same level of focus on individual combat and striving that sword-and-sorcery does, something which Absu, though imperfectly, do seem to accomplish. Summoning seems like two huge armies, etc., etc., while Absu seems more like an individual fighting against the world, and the latter ultimately seems to have more affinities with sword-and-sorcery both as a genre and as a theme; in the former case, you can't really see or focus on the swords or the sorcery, the point is rather the epicness of the scale, and what the whole thing represents, the latter aspect being one which Summoning don't really develop. Even if they did, though, their overall bent seems a bit far from S&S, while Absu are a bit more down-to-earth and willing to swing their sword around without large banners and trumpets to regale in.

As such, the elected victor, for me at least, would probably have to be Absu. In the darkness, bind them.

In the darkness, bind them.
In the darkness, bind them.

In the darkness, bind them.


* It's like the perfect slogan for my travelling band of blindfold ninjas.
But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart's extent
Reduces it to none.
Last edited by Haytham at Jun 24, 2012,
#197
Good insights, something tells me that I'm going to be one of the few who actually read all that though.
Quote by Steve08
Acid probably makes you feel less like a hedonistic raver piece of trash, too.

#199
Quote by Riffmast
At one point I was sure I was to loose. Really was an epic comeback, we should have tournament sighn ups, as some people signed up for this when it was just casual and may not be down to commit to a tournament,let me know how many people are down and i'll set up a good tournament structure, I would like to make it so people don't just end their tourney career afer one loss.

I'm in on the first tourney at least. Even though I'm sure I will suck.

^^^Never has TL: DR been so applicable . Great job going all out on the review.
Quote by beadhangingOne
Are you talking about those weird sphincter-spasms where it feels like there's a ghost dick in your ass for a little while and then it just disappears?
#200
KEPULIX

Witch finder, witchhunter, witch slayer, arkham witch, wicked witch, good witch, bad witch, DoomWitch...

Bow mortals! Doom cometh on Witch Wings! Accept your crushing defeat, for none escape the colossal might and breadth of the RIFFS that follow in this witch's footsteps. Shall you be unlucky enough to have an encounter with the witch of a thousand faces, know that your fate will be burdened with HEAVY. BLASPHEMOUS. DOOM.

Haytham

Yesterday I came across a curious post in the ol chat thread of Sacroficosis. Maybe it was yesterday or the day before that, all the same to me on UG.

It was a most curious post that ended quite curiously.

Still, I suppose I don't have to worry about these kinds of things for a while, given that I'm probably quite far from being a 'regular' here.

is what it said
Curiously
For the contents of said post were curiously insightful and well thought out
And most befitting of a desirable 'regular'

So he was given a chance to play from VG, an infamously miserable cunt, which was most curious.

Haytham he was called. And Haytham watched as a battle of Swords and Sorcery commenced in the Your Move Battle Arena. And when the dust settled, Haytham called out inciting holy words

thankfully no vestiges of 'Rhapsody.'

Wehrmacht

Carnivore

'MALE SU-PRE-MA-CY!'

Jag Panzer

The Lamp of Thoth

'Imma living my life 'causa WARFARE!


Friends, competitors, Romans....
We have a new challenger.
A heathen, conceivably
but not,

I hope,
I’m not ashamed to be white
Vi doede ikke... vi har aldri levd
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind
Civilization is unnatural

It is a whim of circumstance
an unenlightened one