After a scattering of short releases that mainly began emerging in 2017, the Australian symphonic black/death band Mazikeen has completed a debut album named The Solace of Death that’s now set for co-release by Satanath Records and Iron, Blood And Death Corporation on March 23rd.
From its beginning as a solo project, Mazikeen has been the brain-child of Andrew Shiells, but for this new album he was joined by a formidable line-up of allies. With Shiells on guitar and synths, he is accompanied by drummer Marco Pitrruzzella (Six Feet Under, Sleep Terror, ex-Brain Drill), guitar soloist Kris Marchant, pianist Aretstikapha (Plasmodium, Klavierkrieger), and vocalist James Edmeades (Claret Ash).
The album includes eight original songs as well as four cover songs, putting Mazikeen‘s spin on tracks by Mayhem, Dissection, Dimmu Borgir, and Darkthrone. It’s one of the original songs that we present today, a dazzling track named “Vexation Through the Golden Sun“.
At almost 11 minutes in length, the song proves to be an amalgam of stunning contrasts — in part a breathtaking spectacle and in part a spell-binding time-travel into the distant past.
From soft simmering tones the song builds into a furnace of hyper-blasting drums, thunderous bass, cruel riffage, and howling vocal extremity. There is swarming madness in these sounds, everything going fast — really fast — including the rapidly swirling leads. Yet as soon as those scintillating arpeggios take flight and soaring symphonic waves arrive, the music generates an aura of spectacular grandeur that gives a different dimension to the madness.
The combined impact of all these dimensions of sound — the turbocharged speed, the ferocious vocals, the darting and whirling keyboards, the bouncing symphonic chords — is electrifying. But further dimensions of the song are yet to come, including a soft and sublime acoustic interlude with a decidedly medieval air. The contrast between this mesmerizing ancient music and the lightning-storm turbulence that precedes it is a sharp one — and so is the contrast created by the harsh, warzone-like noises that follow, as the music ramps up again, gradually recapturing the symphonic grandeur, the ravaging intensity, and the madness of the song’s early blood-rushing momentum.
In addition to the line-up listed above, The Solace of Death also includes guest vocals on particular tracks by Josh Young, Ian McLean, and Ashahalasin. The fascinating cover art was created by James Ludbrook.
A beastly album of Symphonic Death and Black Metal from Australia that proves death can be comforting when enfolded by first-class extreme music.
What started in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia as a solo project by guitarist Andrew Shiells with the help from Chris Meyer (from Australian Black Metal act Aberration Nexus), who recorded some drums and synths for the project’s first demo tracks, has evolved to a much bolder and multi-layered beast in recent years, blasting a crushing hybrid of Symphonic Death and Black Metal with other extreme styles such as Melodic Death Metal and old school Black Metal. I’m talking about Mazikeen (based on the Hebrew word “mazzikim”, meaning “harmful spirits”), an infernal horde comprised of the aforementioned Andrew Shiells and his henchmen James Edmeades (Claret Ash) on vocals, Kris Marchant on the guitars, Aretstikapha (Plasmodium, Klavierkrieger) on piano and synths, and Marco Pitrruzzella (Six Feet Under, Sleep Terror) on drums, who are unleashing upon us their first full-length opus titled The Solace of Death, featuring eight original songs and four insane cover tracks throughout impressive 67 minutes of music, all embraced by the stylish and sinister artwork by Australian artist Jamie Ludbrooke.
An eerie, phantasmagorical intro evolves into a feast of symphonic and dark sounds in the opening track The Solace Of Death, where Marco is absolutely infernal with his blast beats while James delivers his Dani Filth/Shagrath-inspired roars and gnarls, supported by the imposing synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha, whereas in Apostate it’s time for ten minutes of Symphonic Black Metal infused with Doom and Melodic Death Metal nuances where the guitars by Kris and Andrew sound sharp and very harmonious just the way we like it in extreme music. Brutal and enthralling form start to finish, this great composition lives up to the legacy of bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Carpathian Forest, which can also be said about Vexation Through The Golden Sun, even more obscure, violent and epic than its predecessors, spearheaded by the insane drums by Marco while his bandmates make sure every empty space in the air is filled with darkness and evil, resulting in a lecture in modern-day Symphonic Black Metal full of breaks and variations, Stygian passages and even some serene, acoustic moments for our total delight. And featuring guest vocals by Josh Young (Astral Winter, Atra Vetosus), Mazikeen go full Scandinavian Black Metal in Fractricide, inspired by the trailblazers of the genre such as Mayhem and Emperor, blasting a demolishing sonority that will make your head tremble nonstop.
Josh returns with his wicked gnarls in the melancholic and somber Psychotic Reign, starting in a Gothic Metal-ish vibe while also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal in its core essence. Moreover, I personally love the paradox created between Marco’s stone crushing beats and all background keys and symphonic elements, giving the whole song and extra touch of eccentricity, flowing into the cryptic and atmospheric instrumental bridge Harrowing Cessation, which also develops into a romantic instrumental ballad entitled MORS VINCIT OMNIA, or “death conquers all” from Latin, where the strength and depth of the piano notes take the lead and guide the music until its inevitable and grim ending. And in the last original song from the album, Cerulean Last Night, Mazikeen get back to a more ferocious and visceral mode, uniting the most piercing elements from old school Black Metal and contemporary Symphonic Black Metal spiced up by the visceral guest vocals by Ian McLean (The Maledict).
The last batch of songs in The Solace of Death is the band’s own tribute to their biggest idols and influences, starting with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, originally released in the 1994 cult album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (check the original version HERE), with Mazikeen’s version featuring the vicious vocals by guest Ashahalasin (Inhuman Remnants, Somnium Nox) infernally complemented by the pulverizing drums by Marco, followed by Disection’s Night’s Blood, from the 1995 album Storm of the Light’s Bane, as bestial as the original song with Kris and Andrew delivering sheer electricity and rage through their scorching riffs. Then we have a cover for Dimmu Borgir’s Mourning Palace, from the 1997 album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (you can listen to the original one HERE), where James does a fantastic job on vocals accompanied by the whimsical keys and synths by Andrew and Aretstikapha. And finally, Ashahalasin returns for their cover song for Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger, from the 1994 album Transilvanian Hunger, as raw and malevolent as the original tune, with Marco once again taking the lead firing endless dementia and wrath from his blast beats.
You can enjoy this precious gem of Australian Black Metal in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and also grab your copy of the album from the Satanath Records’ BandCamp page, from the Iron, Blood & Death Corporation’s BandCamp page, from Apple Music, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mazikeen can also be found on Facebook, where you can know more about the band, their tour dates, their music and plans for the future, proudly carrying the flag of Black Metal wherever they go. In a nutshell, Andrew and his horde from Mazikeen nailed it in The Solace of Death, showing us all that death can be indeed comforting, especially if enfolded by a good amount of first-class Black Metal like the sonic devastation blasted by such distinct band hailing from the always inspiring Australia.
Mazikeen are an Australian black metal band. This is their debut album.
There’s 78 minutes of material here, spread out over 12 tracks. The main album consists of the first eight songs, with the final four being bonus covers of Mayhem, Dissection, Dimmu Borgir, and Darkthrone songs.
The band contains current and ex-members of bands such as Rings of Saturn, Six Feet Under, Astral Winter, Atra Vetosus, and Somnium Nox. Their music is inspired by the second wave, specifically the symphonic style. Although clearly referencing the old-school in their approach, Mazikeen offer a modern interpretation of this period of time’s music. This makes for an album that can be thought of as an updated version of something like Dimmu Borgir, (who are clearly an influence, and not just because of the cover version), mixed with a band like Chthonic.
The songs frequently focus on speed and intensity, tearing into the airwaves like multifaceted aggressors. There’s a lot going on here, with the synths and guitar solos adding layers to music flush with harsh grandiosity. The songs are involved and border on the chaotic on places, as all of the various components jostle for place in increasingly crowded musical landscapes. Not only do Mazikeen manage to largely keep things together, but they also manage to channel these frenetic energies back into the music, making for songs that have an unhinged quality to them on occasion. This seems especially true with regards to the technical drums, and some of the vocals, (the band have a main singer, as well as some guest vocalists).
Mazikeen manage to put a slightly different spin on symphonic black metal, with hyper-aggressive elements and a technical, modern edge. Give this a listen and see if it’s to your taste.
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Andrew Shell’s band Mazikeen from Australia has started to release singles three years ago, and now the first full-length album is presented in 2020. In the beginning they described their music as blackened death metal, but now it’s based rather on symphonic black, than death foundation. “The Solace of Death” is a long album and even if it is overall coherent and logical, a couple of longest songs (like “Apostate” and “Vexation Through The Golden Sun”) can be easily divided, besides, the change of tempo encourages it.
The release is melodic and sounds comparatively easy, but in truth, the unclean sound negatively affects the audibility of instruments, so the whole perception of the songs is quite messy. The most original songs are also the longest ones, they are full of mood changes and atmospheric alterations (especially on the song “Vexation Through The Golden Sun”). The material isn’t innovative, but thanks to some stylistic rules (change of rhythm, recitals, various extreme vocal range, atmospheric keyboards), it is not too boring or some clone album. The closest inspiration for Mazekeen is undoubtedly Dissection, so for good reason they chose them as one of the cover songs.
The synthesizers are an important part on this record, but due to blurred sound, they can’t properly convey the essential ambiance, and they even create some chaotic discordance. In “Vexation Through The Golden Sun” the synths form the psychedelic aura, and the song surprisingly ends like industrial black metal piece (but the acoustic guitar provides this massive song with some sort of melancholy). The singing of James Cronovras fits right into the music with its aggression, which is very notable on “Fractricide”, it is intense and moderately emotional. Apart from the band’s constant singer, there are three more invited vocalists (Yosh Young, Ian McLean and Ashahalasin).
The most important part is guitar solo work, solos are not overloaded with technical precision, but they are not too primitive as well (as it often happens in raw black metal). The instrumental songs (“Harrowing Cessation” and piano-based “Mors Vincit Omnia”) are interconnected. “Psychotic Reign” is the slowest song on the record, but even there is a slight pace change in the end. “Cerulean last Night” is a classical contemplative symphonic black metal example with a long guitar solo. So, without further experiments, the album ends on that note till the cover songs.
They chose the songs of Mayhem, Dissection, Dimmu Borgir and Darkthrone, and the cover songs are classically performed. These are not symphonic (except Dimmu Borgir), like their original material, and no surprises here or original interpretations. Was it worth it, to add four covers and making the album so long (1:17), that’s matter of opinion, but if we set aside its length, chaotic nature and unclean sound, then Mazikeen released quite listenable debut album.
Mazikeen are a band from Australia that has had music reviewed before in this zine and on this recording plays a symphonic mixture of black and death metal and this is a review of their 2020 album "The Solace Of Death" which was released as a joint effort between Satanath Records and Iron, Blood And Death Corporation.
Dark soundscapes start off the album along with some drum beats and whispered vocals before going into a heavier direction. The music also adds in a great amount of symphonic elements while the riffs also add in a lot of melody and the vocals also bring in a mixture of black metal screams and death metal growls.
When the music speeds up a great amount of blast beats can also be heard while a great portion of the tracks are very long and epic in length. When guitar solos and leads are utilized they are also done in a very melodic style while the songs also add in a decent mixture of slow, mid paced and fast parts.
Spoken word parts can also be heard in certain sections of the recording along with the music also being very heavily rooted in the 90's but modern at the same time. Some tracks also add in a small amount of clean vocals as well as one track also introducing classical guitars onto the recording.
Harsh noises can also be heard briefly and as the album progresses a couple of instrumentals can also be heard and the album closes with some Mayhem, Dissection, Dimmu Borgir and Darkthrone covers and re doing Freezing Moon and Transylvanian Hunger in 2020 is completely useless and there original material is good enough to the point where they have no need in covering these songs. The production sounds very professional while the lyrics cover destroying souls, death and darkness themes.
In my opinion this is another great sounding recording from Mazikeen and if you are a fan of symphonic black and death metal, you should check out this album.
“Open the window of time… in the open space you’ll find… the nothingness in which I hide.”
With this invitation so begins the profound existential apocalypse of The Solace of Death, first full-length album by Australian inferno MAZIKEEN. Created by mastermind and foundational songwriter Andrew Shiells (humbly credited for guitar and synth, although he did bass as well), MAZIKEEN is a composite project made up with an array of preeminent Aussie (and US) talents: James Edmeades (CLARET ASH, CHRONICLES OF THE VOID) on vocals and lyrics, Kris Marchant on guitar and most notably all of the guitar solos (HACKXWHORE, WORLDFUCKER, also working on new albums with DEVOLVED / DEVIL YOU KNOW members), Aretstikapha (MORS VINCIT OMNIA, PLASMODIUM) on piano and synth, and none other than ‘Lord’ Marco Pitruzzella (SIX FEET UNDER, MONUMENTAL TORMENT, RINGS OF SATURN, BLEAK FLESH, HUNHAU MITNAL, VINTERTODT, just to name a few) on percussion. Expertly mixed and mastered by Mike Trubetskov at EOL Studios, the album features a number of other contributors for various songs (to be addressed below), album artwork by James Ludbrooke (DAMAGED, THROES, ex-TERRORUST, ex-WALK THE EARTH), and logo design by yours truly (!).
“I witnessed the end…”
By the time the modest intro of the first song (the title track) breaks into a well-timed onslaught of double kick, cascading piano, shredding riffs and triumphant roaring, it is readily apparent that though it might be hiding in nothingness The Solace of Death is anything but opaque, as every element is orchestrated with immense, grandiose, overwhelming intensity. ‘The Solace of Death’, brimming with tragedy, switches back and forth between full aggression and catastrophic melody, before a mournful solo and scathing conclusion, and it’s a little hard to imagine that MAZIKEEN is just getting warmed up. ‘Apostate’ initially starts off significantly more measured, with an easy pace and enough space to sound somewhat like a classic death metal track, allowing for breathtaking, almost VITAL REMAINS-esque guitar lead to wash over the introductory narrative. Things start to build from there and by the time we arrive at the 2.5 minute mark, the charging power and insistent groove behind this track is fully audible, accentuated by Marco’s occasional blasting. Further treats await in the last third of the song with some distant clean singing and bombastic piano contributing to the intoxicating effect.
“… these dark shadows ominously rise…”
The chains come off entirely with the significantly blacker ‘Vexation Through the Golden Sun’, unhinged with a frenetic pace, downright assaultive synth progression, incinerating guitars (including sweeping and soloing) and almost constant minigun battery on the drums. Just as the listener starts to adapt to this exquisite barrage, we are treated to a fucking beautiful acoustic interlude written and performed by Kris. Far from intrusive, this adds a level of depth and reflectiveness heretofore unexplored. But, like the harmony overtaken by nuclear chaos described in the lyrics, this interim fades with a series of nearing detonations, finally ending in a cacophonous explosion of shrieking, squalling noise before returning to black metal form and gradually re-accelerating for an outro almost hypnotic in its savagery. The transition from this to ‘Fratricide’ is one of the best things that happens on this album. Part of that is because, for me, the opening sweeping riff and epic beginning of ‘Fratricide’ (the first MAZIKEEN song released by Andrew on Bandcamp in the first weeks of 2017) is absolutely the quintessential sound that I think I will always associate with the band. [Of note, this riff (as well as the one at about 3:30) is played in a very particular style which utilizes multiple note plucks even though it’s a sweep; check the amazing track ‘Autophobia’ on the Mazikeen EP for another good example of this technique.] ‘Fratricide’ is where we can hear the real foundation driving the entire band: Andrew’s solid, classic, fiery black metal songwriting. Everything else seems a bit stripped down on this track, with what seems to be comparatively limited synth, and even more traditional black metal vocals (provided by Josh Young of ATRA VETOSUS and ASTRAL WINTER).
“… through ashen skies and falling rains…”
‘Psychotic Reign’ (also voiced by Josh Young), though also one of the original tracks written, injects a lot more melody with a tempered intro of acoustic guitar and fantastic use of piano. Even when the smoldering ignites at the two-minute mark, the song remains grandiose and almost majestic in its heaviness and keeps building until the face-melting blast/solo combo and outro. ‘Harrowing Cessation’, an instrumental interlude of sorts which originally started out as an outro to the Mazikeen EP, accordingly utilizes the riffs of ‘Psychotic Reign’ (which preceded it on the EP as well) and translates them into a haunting melody. ‘Mors Vincet Omnia’, another instrumental, takes this evolution a step further, doing away with the eeriness for a piano track also based on the central riff from ‘Psychotic Reign’, full of beauty and sorrow. I personally would have been tempted to split these two tracks up and place them on either side of ‘Psychotic Reign’, essentially making it a three-part song with an instrumental intro and outro, but I am loathe to be presumptuous enough to tell an artist how to arrange their art. Though it is not the last song on the album, ‘Cerulean Last Night’, featuring vocals and lyrics from Ian Chambers (THE MALEDICT), seems to combine all previous elements to stand as a sufficiently epic and robust closing track.
“… as we pay our bloody tithes to the limitless void.”
As if that weren’t enough, what follows are four thoroughly enjoyable cover tracks, ambitious in the rendering of none other than MAYHEM (‘Freezing Moon’), DISSECTION (‘Night’s Blood’), DIMMU BORGIR (‘Mourning Palace’), and DARKTHRONE (‘Transilvanian Hunger’), with guest vocals provided by Ashahalasin (SOMNIUM NOX, INHUMAN REMNANTS) on ‘Freezing Moon’ and ‘Transilvanian Hunger’. Of these four I found ‘Mourning Palace’ and ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ particularly compelling, with a lot of extra elements and depth added to the synth of the DIMMU track and the significantly more muscular DARKTHRONE rendition providing the opportunity for a jaw-dropping and torrential percussive assailment ala Lord Marco. A fitting end to what amounts as nothing short of a symphonic black/death metal masterwork with a complexity, precision, and fire that is unlikely to be matched by relevant comparisons anytime soon.
FFO: mid-era DIMMU BORGIR, latter OLD MAN’S CHILD, EMYPREAN THRONE, SOMNIUM NOX, SIRIUS (RIP)
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Release vor Rezi. Durch Zufall wurde ich durch den Release auf MaziKeen aufmerksam. Der gehörte Song (leider weiß ich nicht mehr welcher es war), setzte sich direkt in meinen Gehörgängen fest.
Nach Gründung 2013 in Australien erschien neben diversen Singles 2017 eine EP. Doch nun der erste Longplayer mit vier Cover-Songs. Infiziert von Dimmu Borgir und Dissection, interessieren mich diese beiden Cover natürlich ganz besonders.
Aber schon der Einstieg und die weiteren Songs bis zu den erwähnten Coversongs lassen mich in die Darkworld versinken. Treibend, aber auch immer wieder mit melodischen und klaren Gitarren-Parts, starkem Drumming und screaming Vocals durchzogen … einfach gesagt, ich bin gerade voll und ganz dem Hören verfallen. Hier ist Australien ganz nah an meinen nordischen Genre-Lieblingsländern.
„Psychotic Reign“ sorgt bei mir für absolute Gänsehaut. Energiegeladen, rhythmisch und schön düster … damn good.
Bei „Harrowing Cessation“ vermisse ich die eingängigen Vocals, aber das wertet den Song keinesfalls ab. Dem schließt sich „Mors Vincit Omnia“ alà Klavierkonzert an. Ein unerwarteter, rein instrumentaler Stilbruch im Album.
Mit „Cerulean Last Night“ geht’s aber wieder in die andere Richtung. Erste Gedanken an Dimmu Borgir kommen auf und das Mayhem Cover „Freezing Moon“ brennt sich gerade in meine Lauscher.
Das Dissection Cover „Night‘s Blood“ kommt in meinen Ohren nicht wirklich an Jon (R.I.P.) &Co. heran, aber es ist ja auch ein Cover und schlecht ist es nicht.
And now, das Dimmu Borgir Cover. Es ist nicht das Original, dass muss es auch nicht sein. Es hat seinen eigenen Style, allein schon durch die anderen Vocals, die meines Erachtens bei „Cerulean Last Night“ ähnlicher geklungen haben.
Ein „damn good“ gibt’s auch für den Abschluss des Scheiblings, das Darkthrone Cover „Transilvanian Hunger“.
Die Heimatstadt Melbourne wird hier zu „Hellbourne“, so bezeichnet man sie in den Infos der Facebook-Seite. Dem kann ich absolut zustimmen.