without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Antim Grahan, over the years have transformed quite a lot in respect to the musical direction they pursue, and also in terms of maturity in songwriting and bringing complexity in it, and “The Ruin of Immortals” is a healthy testimony for this natural progression. They started off with sounding a symphonic black metal band with huge concentration on melodic lines than any other facet, then slowly hasted off stirring that very musical style with expanded brutality (their third offering, “In Thy Ambience ov Malevolence”), still maintaining the melodic/symphonic backbone. And then, this album came into existence in ‘09, the heaviest Antim Grahan material by then.
This album traces sounds of black metal (early Dimmu Borgir/Emperor) and mixes it with grindcore. And that’s not in the Anaal Nathrakh manner combining both simultaneously, but making the ongoing black metal chugs occasionally interrupted by groovy brutal segments, forming a firm transition, and both styles having their own instances in separation. Even the vocalist has his variance over the mic, ranging from standard black metal screams to frequent gurgles coming from the surfaces of goregrind. Occasional female vocals are also thrown in at times, but it would have been better if they had utilized key ensembles instead of those, since they’re in form of no-lyric chants, and which sound forced at times.
The production is surprisingly good and that has let the atmosphere flourish better, especially in the first two songs which are inclined more on black metallic edge and the ambient closer track. The drummer sounds awesome throughout the album – wonderful blasts, fills and passages, while the bass drums could have been mixed a bit louder.
I like how they’ve limited the use of keyboards, which in the previous albums used to devour other instruments, literally (“Forever Winter” where the guitars had completely drowned beneath the instrument). The keyboardist also demonstrates his affiliation with power/folk metal (like in “Encrypting the Dark Dimensions”, 02:52) and gothic metal.
About the songwriting again, now that they’ve tried adding multiple styles jumbled in one, the genre clash within songs could be said to have given a broader perspective to songwriting, but it’s surely inviting blunt passages as well. A fair example of this would be the opener of “Once Upon a War” – how the military drum-beats make way through an epic gesture and then loses its way in verge of the embracing the blasting riff in no time.
But overall, in nutshell, “Putrefaction Eternity” is quite a tremendous release by the band, representing the band’s abilities in a broader context technically and musically, and now that I’m reviewing it after its successor “Putrefaction Eternity” (2010) has already been released, this still reigns as Antim Grahan’s best work yet.
Silly westerner! After a brief chat with the band and having found out they were from exotic Nepal I got a bit carried away with my expectations. Would this be some strange, intoxicating journey through grim mountains and massive valleys, all imbued with a subtle scent of nepalese hash? Unfortunately not- I was a bit of an idiot, really- but it is a pretty good release.
Antim really like Nightside/Welkin era Emperor, and when they're not licking Ihsahn's balls there's perhaps a bit of Arcturus in the more melodic sections. I hear there's a fair slice of Dimmu Borgir wrapped up in here too (never heard any of the Burger myself, so.).. but don't hold that against them. The general backbone of the music is very solid; riffs transition well, it's all somewhat memorable and melodic, the band is very competent (particularly the drummer, who throws out some pretty damn solid blasts- without triggers, as far as I can tell), the singer fierce and energetic. All in all when the band know what they're doing- like the title track and Once Upon a War (which in particular boasts an excellent militaristic intro) things go pretty well- the compositions generally stray from traditional verse/chorus structures, and often they're all pulled off with aplomb.
Not that it is without it's flaws. For one thing, the singer can't do death grunts and probably shouldn't have tried, but that's no big deal. What's less forgiveable, however, is the often and really irritating inclusion of female vocals. I'm generally curious if they used a synth for them; they don't sing a single lyric, instead just doing "woah, oh-oh-ohhhhho" type thing every freakin' time they're present. It's a shame really as there's a few sections where it would fit really well if they were used properly- Encrypting the Dark Dimensions's Outro, for example, where an otherwise beautiful little coda to a very effective song is somewhat cheapened by pointless female vocals. Thus Death Triumphs and in particular Pasha Samryja also lose a lot of points for similar female vocal styled sins, however the latter more then makes up for it with some truly blistering riffing around the 3 minute mark.
When we get down to it this is pretty good stuff- the album is perhaps a bit too short, but it's far better then 75 minutes of boredom. I've got to admit I was sort of hoping for a bit more considering the exotic locale of the band, but upon reflection that's pretty unfair (oh, you're from Bhutan/Falkland Islands/Chutkotka/etc? Surely you must be extremely strange and really good!!). From what I've heard, this band has been improving with every new release, so I definitely look forward to what's coming up next.
(originally written for www.heathenharvest.com)
Some requests cannot possibly be rejected. Bands from larger scenes, especially those who do not correspond entirely with my taste in music, are often directed to other folks, who then do then work (aka review) instead. Free releases are not everything. The matter lies different, when a band/label -- KTMRocks Records here, asked me if I would be interesting in doing it -- from a small scene requests a piece and Antim Grahan are indeed from a very small one. Nepal, to be correct. You cannot possibly reject this or?
It is fair to state that this release would be the band's most mature one. Were the early releases heavily influenced by Cradle of Filth (and some other ones, but the British one was the most obvious reference), then some progression towards a larger amount of independence can be observed. Not only do the songs sound different now -- more complex, less cheesy --, also the song-writing provides the listener with more facets and ideas. Especially the growls of the vocalist, this particular style is used now and then, comes as a surprise and unexpected. Through it the art receives an additional amount of aggressiveness, which is further fostered by the instruments which join the performance of the vocalist and let the art drift into grindcore regions. So, while the there are gentle and calm moments on the one hand, others tend to disrupt this particular style and reach for more extreme shores. The transition from one to the other appears seamless at times and therefore might the listener might have some difficulties to thoroughly enjoy this album.
As already written above, the pathway of Cradle of Filth has been abandoned in some respect and on a new one Antim Grahan currently attempts to proceed. This would rather be in vein of Dimmu Borgir (later) or similar artists; a larger emphasis on black metal and also symphonic elements; which means slower passages with a good deal of keyboard motives in them. Also glimpses of Gothic can be found and these were created through a female vocalist, who has some smaller parts on this album; think of some background filling. The guitars offer black as well as death metal riffs and have a good deal of power; so, those who would have imagined a 'weak' clone of the two aforementioned bands are mistaken. Antim Grahan's music has a good deal of punch and they do not want to drift into too shallow waters. Anyway, even though aggressive facets can be found in the oeuvre of the band, by looking at the compositions from a broader then their overall impact is not too large. They create some additional tension, but the finest moments on this release -- like the end of the opener for instance (a Summoning influenced part) -- are probably the calm ones. In these the quality of the band and their ability to create some nice compositions is reflected best. Keyboards and guitars create a neat unity and support each other, while the former does not attempt to drown the latter one with pointless and boring textures. Rather well placed motives are played by the synths and as the production is surprisingly good, this aspect cannot be stretched to much, the listener is able to enjoy a quite balances and interesting composed album.
There some aspects that need to be criticized here. As I do not have the booklet at hand, it is impossible to state whether there is some sort of story behind this release or if there is some red line which connects all tracks in some respect; currently, also no lyrics have been made available online. For instance, Thus Death Triumphs opens with a sample, but without some further information on how to put the spoken words into a broader context it is impossible to put them into a broader context. So, this would be another example of: how to get the message across as a black metal band, without relying on a booklet; a tricky task. Well, beyond this aspect the length of the release is a bit wanting; especially when considering how many facets had been used to create this piece of art. Accordingly, it is a bit too overloaded but also not consistent in terms of the quality. There are fine moments like the end of the opener, but the band is not able to keep this level.
Final bits and bytes
Antim Graham, 'the last day on earth before the Armageddon' in Nepalese, did a pretty good job here. Really, I am not kidding. Ask yourself, what would you expect when someone sends you a link on music from a very small metal scene, which is located in the middle of nowhere? A lot has been done right here and one thing is certain: this release will be something I will turn to in the future again. Yes, it is difficult to fully grasp the meaning behind it and the intention of the band when creating this piece of art, but there are some nice moments on this album and these make it interesting to listen to it. Compared to what a lot of 'Western' bands offer, the performance of the Nepalese band cannot be praised enough. Black metal purists will not find The Ruin Of Immortals interesting, due to the amount of influences and the general tendency to follow bands like Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth, but those who try to approach the music of a band without preconception can find some interesting piece of art here.
Symphonic influenced black metal with some small grindcore influences would sum it up.