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Energetic raw BM debut album drawing on 1980s and 1990s BM inspiration - 90%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, October 29th, 2020

Behind this debut album by Brazilian one-man BM band Oldlands lies an interesting story: the album was self-released originally in 2018 and was later picked up by Brazilian labels Diabo Records and Sangue Frio Produções on cassette and CD digipak format release in 2019. In 2020 the album enjoyed another new lease of life with UK label Ancient Entity Records as a limited edition cassette featuring a different cover song at the end from the original recording. Perhaps with a bit more luck the debut might have another release on a bigger and better known label next year!

Certainly the interest shown in this recording by labels in and outside Brazil is due to the enthusiasm, energy and abilities of Oldlands' sole member Vox Morbidus, a veteran musician and composer in the underground metal scene in Curitiba, in the southern Brazilian state Parana, playing in other bands and peone other solo project. The music on "Source ...", an otherwise very depressive and dark album (to judge by the song titles), ranges from raw lo-fi BM harking back to the genre's classic 1980s-era primitivism when impoverished musicians used second-hand instruments or salvaged them from junkyards, to its more melodic second-wave period of the 1990s. The early songs on the album are minimal, raw-edged and rough little beasts straight off the streets, with one track "Field of Victory" combining a real rock'n'roll groove and a desperate energy reminiscent of Australian BM act Vrag. The snarling singing sounds badly recorded and blurry but lead guitar solos can be amazingly clear as they soar to the heavens and even sound effects and noises in the background of songs can be heard.

Each succeeding song reveals more of Vox Morbidus' talent and skill as a multi-instrumentalist on shrill burning lead guitar, solid crunchy rhythm guitars and galloping percussion. The instruments have real conversations among themselves, trading melodies and riffs and rhythms, bouncing mood and energy around, rather than follow the same riff throughout the song: a testament to Vox Morbidus' skill and confidence as a song-writer. The energy behind the songs is restless even in its quieter, more contemplative and soulful clean-toned guitar passages, and genuine melancholy and sorrow emerge in the midst of cold and icy fury, aggression and hostility. On the last original track "The Chosen One", the music becomes an epic mini-soundtrack with the addition of synthesisers, serving up a contrasting mix of raw melodic BM ferocity, fiery electrified lead guitar solos, tragic grandeur and a darker-than-dark ambience in which listeners must confront the reality of their existence as lone beings in an indifferent cosmos.

Oldlands' "Metal Maldito" cover tribute to fellow Brazilians Escaravelho do Diabo doesn't do much for the rest of the album - it's a staid song compared to Oldlands' original songs and the only good thing to say for it is that it showcases Vox Morbidus' versatility as a lead guitarist able to express intense and soulful emotion. The album really does not need to include any cover songs at all, as the music is well composed and played, and conveys coldness, anger, aggression and a deep contemplative urban blues melancholy. With each repeated hearing, the album reveals another deeper and surprising layer of cold ethereal ambience and a wistfulness beneath the defiant lo-fi garage rock BM surface.

This project is well worth following to see what Vox Morbidus will do next on a follow-up album or EP.