CD REVIEW My Kingdom Music special, January 2012

Label: My Kingdom Music
Distribution: My Kingdom Music / Bertus
Release date: January 16th 2012

Not that far from Napoli (at the South-East of it),  close to the historical city of Salerno, lies the village Nocera, which houses the headquarters of one of Italy’s most important labels within the melodic-atmospheric Metal-spheres, My Kingdom Music. This label especially focuses on heavy yet not-too-extreme metalized music, ranging from Heavy Rock and Power Metal over Folk-oriented stuff, to the likes of Thrash, Death and Black Metal.
January 16th was the release-date for a handful of new material. Alphabetically we’re talking about Disguise, Drakkar, Kenos, So Much For Nothing and Your Tomorrow Alone. Actually, Kenos’ EP got released under licence of Club Inferno (but they act under the dark-feathered wings of MKM), and since I didn’t get the Drakkar-release When Lightning Strikes, this one cannot be found in this review-collection.
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Band: Disguise
Title: Second Coming
Label: My Kingdom Music
Review: CD

Italy is such a country with many, too many, underestimated bands. This goes, for example, for Disguise. The band was formed at the end of last millennium, and throughout the years they did create three more-than-just-nice recordings, Impetus Mali / Mors Fidei (self-produced demo-MCD, 2001), the 2003-debut full length Human Primordial Instinct (through Hardebaran), which was (is) one of my favourite albums from Italy that very same year, and 2007’s Late (Black Havoc Productions), which I, in fact, couldn’t (and still can) appreciate less than the debut – for the first one being strongerly inspired by the Dark Side they are / want to be part of than the second full one.
Second Coming, which lasts for about forty three minutes, brings, again, a non-original (let’s get real, guys) form of Trans-European-sounding and timeless Black Metal, but with an acceptable quality in both performance and sound. The strength gets revealed by (maybe predictable yet) well-thought tempo-changes, the addition of hypnotic keyboard-parts, and the sometimes ingeniously elaborated song structures. No, still it does not mean originality; Disguise are not re-inventing anything at all. But this band’s new product is, well, just fine. I know, it gets difficult in this era of over-consumption, yet nobody’s to ignore the massive ‘mid-scene’ nowadays. Some hands full of truly orgiastically outstanding records, several puke-idols at the opposite, and (too) many acceptable bands with nothing, or not much, new to add, yet just doing the right thing to do. Such a band are Disguise, I think. Most songs are a pleasure to listen at (like The Origin Of The Unknown), yet I need something more to get blown away completely right now. But, and that’s a certainty, I do think Second Coming is the most mature Disguise-recording to date. The lack of originality is inferior to the increased persuasion and more inventive compositions in general.

[FYI: check out Nefarium, a project some of the Disguise-members are involved with - ivan]

84/100
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Band: Kenos
Title: Nightrain To Samara
Label: Club Inferno
Review: EP / MCD

As a matter of fact, Kenos were formed at the end of last century (originally in 1996 as Underwise, FYI), but outside their local scene (the beautiful region of Lombardy), they were like non-existent. The beginning of this era brought some modest, limited ‘wideness’ for the band, yet it didn’t really reach outside Italy’s borders. Last year, the band did recruit a new vocalist, Michele Spallieri, formerly known from Symmetric Disorder and still in Grievers, and the quintet (besides Michele: Jaco Pisciotta-g, Marcello Fachin-b, Sergio Gasparini-d, and Domenico Conte-g) will release their newest effort, after a mini and three full length albums, as a digital (mini) release via Club Inferno Entertainment, under licence of My Kingdom Music.
Nightrain To Samara has duration of just over sixteen minutes, and after the intro (one minute and a half), the title track shows the band’s strength: both fierce yet melodic Death Metal with a technical Thrash-approach, enormously ‘American’ in sound, and including lots of variety. The tempo, the song structures, the intentions are to confuse. Damn, Italy gets stronger and stronger when it comes to this kind of extremities. Anyway, the production is very modern, partly explainable by the slightly industrialised orchestrations and mechanical mix. Both other songs, Lysergic Spiral and Encounter, come with a same-minded message: combining Death Metal-based brutality with technical experiment and somewhat morbid creativity. The result is more than acceptable, but this EP needs a lot of attention and persuasion to get through. And I’m sure it might cause heart failure or, at least, a nasty headache…

75/100
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Band: So Much For Nothing
Title: Livsgnist
Label: My Kingdom Music
Review: CD

Sarkom’s Erik Unsgaard started writing some stuff under the moniker So Much For Nothing about five years ago. To finalise his ideas, he needed a same-minded drummer, and soon Uruz (think: In Lingua Mortua, Shining, Urgehal, Vulture Lord, Crest Of Darkness and many, many others) decided to collaborate. It resulted in Livsgnist (as a matter of fact, last year the duo did release a 7”EP, Sublife Warranty, through Folter Records), which features guest appearances by many well-known darkolleagues like Niklas ‘Kvarforth’ Olsson (Shining, Diabolicum, Manes, Skitliv, Den Saakaldte a.m.m.), Live Julianne Kostøl (Pantheon I, Solefald), Peter Huss (Shining), Ingvild Anette ‘Sareeta’ Strönen-Kaare (In Lingua Mortua, Ram-Zet, Solefald, Voluspaa, Asmegin, Borknagar), Tomas ‘Trondr Nefas’ Torgersbraten (Urgehal, Asmegin, Angst Sqvadron, In Lingua Mortua, Endezzma, Kvist etc…), Eirik Renton ‘Of Death’ (who did co-operate with e.g. Sarkom, Urgehal or Pantheon I, to stay within the same regions), Tor Risdal ‘Seidemann’ Stavenes (think Koldbrann, Pantheon I, Den Saakaldte, 1349, Nidingr and many, many more), or Absu’s Shandy ‘Aethyrys’ McKay (also ex-Infernal Oak). Got a picture?...
The stuff was finished in Autumn 2010, and when My Kingdom Music heard the first results, they didn’t hesitate to sign So Much For Nothing. And the first official outcome is a well-deserved fist in the face of the non-believers!
Livsgnist, which means something like ‘spark of life’ opens with Suicide-Syndrome, first out of seven eccentric pieces of Dark Art with a total running time of 48:23 minutes. The slow song stands for some sinister form of Suicidal Black Metal with funereal and Post-Black passages and a most misty sound. Oppressing, pounding parts get interspersed with unusual additions, including a marvellous guitar solo and the addition of diverse vocals, piano and saxophone. Second hymn, One Last Night, combines a heavy basement of epic energy with rather catchy narrative hear-play, bringing the approach of different great acts on Prophecy’s roster to mind. This cold but adventurous journey called Livsgnist continues with different angles and approaches on grim and depressed Underground Mu-sick, doomy, suffocative, mystic - a mostly obscure and joyless marriage in between the coldest spheres of (Funeral) Doom and Suicidal Black Metal. At the one hand those deep-darkened excerpts that dwell in regions of hate and despair, at the other hand the songs on Livsgnist are filled with unique elements and original twists. The whole album is an experiment and an experience, yet of a mostly uncomfortable kind. The kind of uncomfort that brings me to an ecstatic level of sweet unhappiness…
Highlights: opener Suicide-Syndrome, the title song, Suffer In Silence, One Last Night, as a matter of fact, the whole of this recording!

[note from myself to myself: except for a handful of exceptions, most MKM-material, both from the past as well as newer stuff, cannot please me that intensively, so imagine my arousal]

91/100
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Band: Your Tomorrow Alone
Title: Ordinary Lives
Label: My Kingdom Music
Review: CD
After almost three years of existence, and with an impressing demo that was extremely well received / reviewed by the (especially Italian) audience, it’s time for the release of Your Tomorrow Alone’s debut full length studio album, Ordinary Lives, which has duration of fifty one minutes. The band, formed as a duo and now a six-headed formation (original members Marco Priore-g and Eugenio Mucio-v, clean vocalist Giovanni Sorgente, synth-wizard Giovanni Costabile, drummer Daniele Immolito, and Gianpiero Sica-b), did enter the Sonic Temple Studio with well-known producer Fabio Calluori, known from bands like Node, From Depths or Heimdall, to name but a few, and in mean time they have been signed by MKM, with Ordinary Lives as first result.
It is not that unusual in Italy to combine gothic atmospheres with melodic guitar work, heavier passages, integer acoustics and traditional Rock / Metal elements. In Your Tomorrow Alone’s case it sounds like an enriched mixture of old schooled Doom-Death in the vein of the early nineties, black-edged Dark Metal, symphonic Gothic Metal, catchy Power Rock, ethnic elements and a progressive approach.
Katatonia, Opeth, Novembre, Cryptal Darkness, Winter, Crown Of Autumn, Anathema, this is an accurate statement, I think?... In all aspects on Your Tomorrow Alone’s music, one might experience a related atmosphere, sound or structure. Unfortunately, it does not work the whole of the time. Besides a couple of extra-ordinary excerpts, many parts are performed too safely. Melancholy is one thing, dramaturgy is another…

70/100
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Ivan Tibos.