By Steve Earles
Once upon a time, not so long ago, before the internet turned much of the western world’s population into isolated recluses, the tape-trading network was the lifeblood of the underground metal scene. In this spirit, Darkness Shade Records has produced three fine cassette releases.
The first, Orbis’ Forest Illuminations is a dark ambient affair. Much ambient music is simply an excuse for the talentless to indulge in aural torture and deem it art. However, Orbis are an exception, their sound perfectly capturing the darkness and light of the forest. As a man who appreciates the mirror of the soul a walk through the forest can be to those who are open to it, I very much enjoyed this.
Next is a limited edition (only 100 copies! Hurry!) of Old Corpse Road’s The Echoes of Tales Once Told. Now, Old Corpse Road are a band I’m very much familiar with, having interviewed them for Zero Tolerance magazine, Live4metal webzine and Bad Acid CD/DVD/Magazine. They are a band with all the positive attributes of black metal and none of its negatives.
Having had the pleasure of reviewing this fine demo in it’s original three-track CD format, I have no hesitation at declaring that OCR are one of the most intelligent, original and exciting bands to have emerged from the underground in many a moon. They follow in the tradition of such bands as Sabbat, Cradle of Filth and The Meads of Asphodel, (with the raw power of classic Venom for good measure) and now signed to Godreah Records (where they have already shared a split with the mighty Meads). This is a band with a bright future in front of them.
The cassette format actually enhances the demo’s sound somewhat (vinyl would be good too). So we have the three songs from the original demo, “The Old Corpse Road”, “The Wild Hunt”, and “The Oakmen of Needle Forest”. Three fine pieces of song-writing, performed with emotion and sincerity. The two bonus tracks (exclusive to the cassette release), “Hell’s Kettles” (not about Satan knocking up a quick cuppa!) and “The Song of Amergin”, (Amergin was a Celtic bard, which is apt for a band of storytellers) both of which are fine songs and easily of the same quality of the original demo.
Finally, we have the latest relief from the prolific Orbis, The War Trilogy, and excellent as Forest Illuminations was, this shows an admiral progression, both musically and atmospherically. While the sounds of the forest are natural and pleasing, the ultimate legacy of mankind is war, and The War Trilogy captures the horror and dark emotive depth of World War Two with a grandeur worthy of Milton.
To conclude, three fine and admirable releases from Darkness Shades Records, who also deserve kudos for going against the prevailing trends of the 21st century and releasing something warm and encompassing in the process.
e-mail: [email protected]
e-mail: [email protected]