Thursday, 5 March 2015

ATLANTIDA VOL. 22 [V/A]


Band: RAVENCLAW
Title: Atlantida Volume 22 [Various Artists]
Format: Another entry in the long-running Atlantida compilation series, on plain silver CDr with professionally printed covers.  No catalogue reference, year of release or label details given, but as for previous editions it was compiled and released by fellow Ravenclaw member Ruslanas Danisevskis.
Edition: Unknown

Track Listing:
01. Profane Existence  *  Eternal Domination
02. Bestial Devastation  *  Vomit On Allah
03. Conquest Of Steel  *  Conquest Of Steel
04. Bloodfeast  *  Jason
05. Mortyfear  *  Rotten Corpse
06. Endless Pain  *  Flesh Fair
07. Toxic Virgin  *  Sailor
08. Entrophia  *  Blood And Darkness
09. Maple Cross  *  The Spirit Of Northern Brotherhood
10. Brudevalsen  *  The Purpose Of My Failure
11. Anhkrehg  *  Rage Of Berzerker
12. Dol Amroth  *  Eyes That Sword and Fire Have Seen
13. Dysthymia  *  One Of Melancholy
14. Homicide Hagridden  *  Scream
15. Ravenclaw  *  Pergale  4.00
16. Lechery  *  Why?
17. Thorshammer  *  Brich
18. Sanity  *  Victims
19. Chapel Desecrator  *  Prepare To Take Your Life
20. Falling Elbow  *  No Fur
21. Cipher System  *  Suffer Stream

If this compilation were a film, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" would certainly spring to mind.  Chock-full of all manner of oddly titled bands and songs, it's a smörgåsbord of the rather good and the deeply distasteful.  One cannot work through the 21 songs on offer (and Nazgul uses the word 'songs' in the loosest sense, on some occasions here) without having some form of physical reaction; whether that is banging one's head or sprinting for the fast-forward button will vary person by person...

It is, therefore, business as usual on this Atlantida compilation album. Volume 22 is a late entry into the series established by the late Ruslanas Danisevskis, Hugin's former Ravenclaw partner-in-crime and member of the Folkearth metal collective.  You have to admire the single-mindedness of this series in pulling together all manner of the great and the not so great for the listening 'pleasure' of the masses, and crazy as some of the final results are the world is a less interesting place now that the series is no more.

This outing gives us a chance to revisit the long defunct Ravenclaw project: 'Pergale' was a song from that band's split CD release "Zalgirio Musis / Baxas Xebesheth 1883" released in 2003 with Svarrogh.  12 years ago now; that gives one pause for thought to consider just how long Hugin has been making music, as that came some years after his fledgling releases of the late 1990's!

Anyhoo - back to Ravenclaw for the moment.  And who knew that the boys were big chocolate fans?  It turns out that Pergale is currently the leading confectionery factory in the Baltic States, established in 1952 in Vilniaus and offering the widest range of confectionery in the Baltics including chocolates, chocolate candy, unglazed candy, toffee, chocolate bars, halvah bars, Hematogen, wafers, liqueur fills, biscuits, caramel, marshmallows and hard candy.  

Hang on, that can't be right surely?  *consults notes*  Oh wait, it says here that 'Pergalė' means "victory" in Lithuanian - that seems more in keeping with the general theme of national pride and battle that the band's releases focus upon.  Yes, let's run with that!

'Pergale' is a classic four-minute Ravenclaw song, as it contains all of the prototypical elements of that band's musical structures: there's an atmospheric introduction (which, listening to it again this morning with the benefit of hindsight, sounds rather like Cradle of Filth's 'At The Gates Of Midian' meeting Bathory's 'Odens Ride Over Nordland' one night in a dark alley) which leads into a musically enhanced spoken word part (deep male vocals, almost certainly a commentary of a noble battle or event in the history of Lithuania), followed by a colossal riff so good and out of keeping with what's gone before you wonder if another song has started, before it all ends.  Bish, bosh and - indeed - bash.  That's how you write 'em.

But wait - there's more!  Against all the odds this particular Atlantida entry has a review online, courtesy of Italian metal site Metalitalia.  Who'd have thought it?  This is an opportunity far to good to pass up, so let's see what they made of the thing (and apologies for any wonky translation: blame Google!  If you can read Italian I suggest following the link to the original text):

"You might not vote on a compilation -  it would not even be fair to take an average of a CD that contains over twenty bands. This underground compilation is only meant to highlight some unknown bands and is in fact a good showcase, but whoever set it up didn't  want to propose just interesting groups; participation is free, it's for everyone, you just pay for the space. And so the quality inevitably goes to hell, because in every compilation of the genre there are two groups: those that are worthy of attention, and then those myriad of groups that will never go anywhere being neither fish nor fowl, and then there are those that you can do without. [Nazguls' note: that makes 3 groups by my count, but less of my exemplary mathematics...]

The twenty-second chapter of the Lithuanian Atlantida compilation contains all of this puzzling multitude of groups, and it would be surprising if it were to the contrary. Only four groups have outstanding quality, although amongst the hordes it is pleasing to see the Tuscan Dysthymia, capable of death / technical thrash, but also most dynamic and aggressive. Not only is the song in question pleasant, but also the demo of the band deserves a listen. The German Thorshammer have a name and "Brice" is a violent hued epic that manages to capture the attention.  Among the few really valid groups (at least based on songs presented on this compilation) there is also Profane Existence, authors of a symphonic black metal and Mortyfear, with "Rotten Corpse", who weave melodic death metal that inevitably follows the traces of the old In Flames, but the riffing guitar remains of a good standard. Perhaps the best are the Anhkrehg with their crude but devastating death / black metal.  

Unusually for Atlantida there are a fair number of power and classic heavy metal bands, although none impress on originality grounds. There are also some bad groups, mediocre and uninteresting."

Hmmm, no mention of where Ravenclaw falls within this spectrum, but perhaps the less questions the better on that score!?

On a final note, the consistency in cover art over the course of the Atlantida compilations is worth commenting upon: each cover image is different yet very much in the same vein as its predecessors in the series.  Universally black and white, the recurring themes of skulls and other metal-related images are cunningly refreshed for each volume and as a set look rather spectacular.  As Hugin's many and various bands don't appear on all of these volumes there will inevitably be a number of releases that will never grace the pages of Honour and Darkness; as a future one-off special Nazgul will post a photograph of the complete set as a tribute to our fallen comrade Ruslanas, long may he party on in Valhalla.

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