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Although since the beginning of recorded history the sea has been used as a highway between different lands, this vast region has never been explored with the same urgency or thoroughness as the land. The world ocean is truly the last geographic frontier on Earth. Why should this be so?
Perhaps one reason is that until the twentieth century there was little demand for scientific studies on the sea, and in any case the means did not exist for putting man into the sea to make direct observations. Even today, marine exploration does not arouse as much public interest as the exploration of space. The rhythm of events tends to be slow, the events themselves are not of great visual interest, and they do not receive wide publicity. And yet the world ocean has a major influence on our lives.
It was also during the s that the first marine laboratory was established, at Naples, Italy. Most maritime research before the beginning of World War I was in marine biology relating to fisheries development. Before then, few samples of marine minerals were taken from the sea, and the study of ocean currents and water depths was mostly confined to improving the safety of navigation in shallow coastal waters.
However, the tragic loss of the steamship Titanic in set in motion 60 Where do the seas come from? Some think that the sea is a vestige of the primal humidity of which the most substantial and most essential part evaporated under the effect of the heat, while the rest changed into the sea. Others maintain that, all the original humidity having been subjected to the fire of the Sun's revolutions, which removed therefrom all that was pure, the residue became salinity and bitterness.
Yet others believe that the sea is that which escaped, through the density of its constitution, from the Earth's filtering of the aqueous humidity, exactly like fresh water which, mixed with ash then filtered, ceases to be fresh and becomes salty. It is sometimes reckoned that the sea is a sweat which the Earth secretes beneath the action of the Sun, which heats it by turning constantly around it.
Al Mas'udi C. Since the primary means of submarine detection was sound propagation through the water, this need promoted the advancement of physical oceanography and the field of marine acoustics was born. The scene was set for a major expansion in the field of oceanography in the postwar years. Many of the uses of the ocean are commercial, but not all.
Public safety is also important. We need to know more about how the oceans interact with and influence the Earth's atmosphere and its quality. But we cannot afford not to do the necessary science that will enable us to know for sure. No one nation can do it alone. Satellites in particular provide the only means of measuring air-sea interaction processes in real time. The principal mesoscale platform is the ship, which is the primary and gener-ally the cheapest means of obtaining data at sea by means of long-term research programmes using relatively large teams of scientists and large quantities of instrumentation.
Ship platforms are also remote sensing systems. They work at the air-ocean interface and make observations and take samples through the use of lowered mechanical "eyes and hands". This research technique is today used by marine scientists throughout the world, including under ice in polar regions. Using manned submersibles, oceanographers can descend to depths of up to 6, metres to make direct, in situ observations and measurements. Since they were first developed in the s, over manned submersibles have been built.
Today about twenty- four are being used for marine science support in eleven countries. A Above, the submarine Caya, with Its three-person crew, can dive as deep as m. It is used for Industrial or scientific purposes. Right, satellite Images enable scientists to track the Gulf Stream with precision. He served in the U. Navy for 24 years and is the author of many articles and books on marine subjects.
Canadian company has also proposed building a commercial, nuclear-powered submarine which would be capable of missions of up to eighty days at depths up to 1, metres. Unmanned submersibles have also been developed for submerged scientific operations.
The most common type is the remotely operated vehicle ROV , which is controlled from the surface through a long tether cable. The vehicle is controlled from a sur face vessel using television pictures from the ROV as well as instrument readings for depth and compass heading.
Almost a thousand ROVs have been built since their introduction in the late s, but only a few have been used for marine science. In the past five years, however, several have been acquired by marine research organizations. At every step of the way there are major problems which need to be addressed to ensure that the people of our planet can enjoy maximum use of the resources of the ocean. One of these problems is lack of public interest and thus investment in marine science and technology.
Because marine science produces results over the long term, it is difficult for short-term governments to be concerned about it. Can ocean science prevail in this context? Clearly, the answer is that it must. Some facts and figures The ocean covers nearly two-thirds of the Earth's surface, an area of ,, square kilometres. The Pacific Ocean alone covers more of the Earth's surface than all the land masses put together.
Two-thirds of the Earth's land masses are north of the equator. The southern hemisphere is often called "the ocean hemisphere". The average depth of the ocean is 3, metres. Its greatest depth is nearly 11, metres, but only 2 per cent of the sea floor is deeper than 6, metres. A specimen of Zooplankton. The oceans contain over 86 per cent of all the water on our planet. The water in the oceans has been there for about 3 billion years.
It has been thoroughly mixed more than a million times. Only six elements make up 99 per cent of the salts in seawater: sodium, calcium, chlorine, magnesium, potassium and sulphur. The amount of these elements in a given volume of seawater may vary from place to place.
This is called "salinity". The average for the world ocean is 35 grams per kilogram of seawater. It is estimated that if all salts in the world ocean were extracted and put on land, the layer would be metres thick. Life in the sea begins with photosynthesis when solar energy is captured by microscopic plants in the sea, phytoplankton, which are the first step in the marine food chain.
Because seawater rapidly filters out the penetration of solar energy, most marine life is found in relatively shallow, upper layers of the sea. In fact, about 90 per cent of the life in the sea can be found in the upper 30 metres. The highest biological productivity exists near coast lines, where river and other runoff from land provides a steady supply of nutrients. Even though these coastal areas represent only about 15 per cent of the ocean's area, they are the primary areas for marine life.
Essentially, the rest of the world ocean is thinly populated and more of a biological desert. The principal current system of the oceans is called "wind-driven circulation". The motion of the surface waters due to wind forces is modified by the shape of the ocean basins and the Earth's rotational motion. These circulations are called "gyres".
Direction of circulation is clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. Excess heat is transported from the tropical regions to the higher latitudes where there is a heat deficit.
This process helps to keep the average regional temperatures throughout the planet constant from year to year. This is the story of the Baychimo, the deserted ghost ship that refuses to die and still haunts human memory and curiosity. A fine, trim, solid steel 1,ton cargo steamer owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, the Baychimo was built in Sweden in With her single tall funnel, curved bridge and long high prow, the Baychimo was sturdily built to withstand the floes and pack-ice of the dangerous northern waters in which she operated.
She actually pioneered fur trading with the Eskimo settlements around the Beaufort Sea, forging her way many times on her 3, David Gunston kilometre round trip through some of the most treacherous shipping lanes in the world. Each year she set out on a regular voyage, always a tough and difficult one, delivering food, fuel and other supplies to, and loading pelts from, eight of the Hudson Bay Company's lonely outposts.
On 6 July 1 she left Vancouver, British Columbia, on such a journey, with skipper John Cornwell and his crew of thirty-six men. Eventually they reached the end of their normal eastward run by the shores of Victoria Island.
Unfortunately winter came early that year to this bleak northern wasteland. Ferocious winds and deep-freezing conditions brought the dreaded pack-ice south much quicker than usual. By 30 September only a narrow stretch of open water remained for the ship to steam through, and on 1 October the ice closed in. Her engines at stop, she could only move as the creaking ice willed.
She was not far from the Alaskan village of Barrow, where the company had permanent huts built ashore. Seeing that a terrible blizzard was imminent, Cornwell ordered his men to trudge across the kilometre or so of ice to shelter in these huts, where they remained for two days, half-frozen and unable to venture out. Without warning the pack-ice loosened and moved away from the Baychimo's sides, leaving her free to move again.
The crew rushed aboard and for three solid hours the ship steamed away to the west at full speed. Disaster seemed to have been narrowly averted. It actually cracked right across the patch where some of the crew were playing football. Now the ice that had held the ship had broken away, it began to move slowly but surely towards the shore. To Cornwell it seemed only a matter of hours before his rugged little vessel would be crushed like an empty eggshell.
Radio SOS messages were sent out but these doughty men hung on in the hope that they and their ship might be saved. Twenty-two of the Baychimo's crew were rescued, and her skipper and fourteen men were left behind to wait until the melting ice released the ship and its precious 64 cargo. They knew they might have to wait as long as a year, so they built a small shelter on the pack- ice a short distance from the shore.
Their sojourn proved to be short and startling, for on the pitch black night of 24 November a hellish blizzard descended, trapping the men inside their wooden shelter. They searched around as much as they could, but on failing to find their doomed ship they came to the conclusion that she had been broken to pieces in the blizzard and had sunk. In a few days, however, an Eskimo seal-hunter brought the astonishing news that he had seen their ship some 70 kilometres away to the south-west.
Already the Baychimo had been turned into a ghost ship, a polar puppet pushed this way and that by the power of ice, wind and water. The fifteen men trudged to where the Eskimo led them and, sure enough, there was the ship.
It was obvious to the captain that the chances of salvaging his vessel were nil. The ice was not going to allow it. So the men rescued the more valuable furs from the hold and reluctantly left the Baychimo for ever. In due course they were flown back home. American planes rescue the crew of the Ice-locked Baychimo. He has written widely on the natural world and is the author of biographies of Marconi and Faraday.
On 12 March , a young trapper and explorer named Leslie Melvin discovered her while on a journey from Herschel Island to Nome by dog-team. She was floating inshore peacefully enough. He managed to board her and found that many of the furs were still intact in the hold. Unfortunately, as he was alone and without much equipment, far from his base in Alaska, he could do nothing.
They reported that everything was in perfect order. In March the Baychimo apparently drifted back to roughly the point where her captain had abandoned her. A group of some thirty Eskimos saw her floating idly in the freezing waters and went out in their kayaks, but no sooner had they clambered aboard than a terrific storm blew up.
They were trapped on the ghost ship without food for ten days before they could get away. The next visitors were an exploring party on a schooner. They came across her in July , and boarded her for a few hours. By now the legend of the little grey tall- funnelled ghost ship was well known among the Arctic Eskimos, many of whom sighted her from time to time on their travels. By September she had reached the Alaskan coast, always managing to avoid the crushing grip of the pack- ice, always surviving the worst polar storms.
Nature seemed unable to destroy her, but man was unable to rescue her. After the Baychimo was seen scores of times, mostly by Eskimos but occasionally by explorers, traders and pilots. This time she was floating serenely in the Beaufort Sea near a desolate strip of coastline. Once again there was no means of capturing her, so they left the desolate, rusting, but still uncrushed hulk to drift away into the unknown once more.
The last recorded sighting, again by Eskimos, was in thirty-eight years after she was abandoned. It is often forgotten that the sea is ageless; therein lies its strength. It contains in abundance, in a state of continual regeneration, the source of life from which the human race emerged. It inspires the industry of Homofaber and whets the imagination of Homo sapiens, stimulating his creative genius and challenging his spirit of adventure and courage.
The scientific, technological, industrial, economic and social responses to the ocean's hold on the human imagination may be grouped under four headings, each of which corresponds to a dream: the achievements of the maritime genius walking on the sea ; the conquest of the abyss penetrating the ocean depths ; the exploitation of the oceans harvesting food from the sea ; the new Atlantis inhabiting the sea.
These are the four great pillars of Neptune's temple. The achievements of the maritime genius Free man, you will always cherish the sea Charles Baudelaire The sea has inspired human genius to invent a host of navigational devices. The Greeks, the Chinese, the Arabs, the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the British, the Italians, and the French, among other peoples, may claim to have invented the astrolabe, the compass, portulans and sea charts, the chronometer for calculating longitudes, the anchor and rigging, the keel and 66 the rudder.
Dictionaries in every language abound in words that designate things and events experienced, dreamed of and created under the sway of the sea. However, the ship remains the most beautiful of these creations. The history of science and technology, which forms the infrastructure of the history of civilizations, is a fresco in which naval pomp and circumstance play as big a part as they do on the Bayeux Tapestry.
Today, twenty- seven centuries later, giant oil tankers ply in their wake. The strands of legend and history, dream and reality, have been woven into a rich tapestry of images by poets, novelists and historians: the longship of the Argonauts; the barques of Ulysses and Aeneas; the triremes of Salamis; Polynesian rafts; the drakkars of Ragnar Lodbrok and Leif Erikson; the ships of the crusaders; the Santa Maria of Christopher Columbus; Chinese war junks; the praus of Malayaancestors of today's "SfcCartoon, below, shows Jules Verne, the author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, investigating the seafloor May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.
Less than a century after Jules Verne, the American nuclear submarine Nautilus became the first vessel to sail beneath the polar ice-cap and took only a few years to cover more than ten times "Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea". May God preserve us! All these feats, both mental and physical, were performed a few cables beneath the surface, in the blue sea that is penetrated, caressed and brought to life by the not totally absorbed rays of the Sun.
However, no one ventured into the ocean depths until the early s when William Beebe and Otis Barton made the first dives in the bathysphere, a steel sphere suspended on a cable attached to a boat. By these courageous men had reached a depth of just under 1, metres.
It was not until , twenty years after Beebe and Barton's exploit, which was without practical consequences but had a catalytic effect on the collective imagination, that psychological taboos and technological obstacles to deep-sea exploration were finally overcome when Georges Houot and Pierre Willm in the bathyscaphe FNRS 3 reached a depth of more than 4, metres off Dakar.
The spherical cabin of the bathyscaphe, which was made of high-quality steel, had to resist pressures of over kg per cm2. The hidden depths of the ocean have been visited and observed at close quarters on several 67A 16th-century Korean "turtle-boat". Although no sea monster has yet appeared, this does not necessarily mean that such monsters do not exist. Neither have the stocks of living creatures which accumulate at certain depths according to the hypothesis proposed by the Danish oceanographer Hans Petterson1 ever yet been seen beneath the arc lights which perhaps drive them away.
Lone fishermen were replaced by industrial fisheries. Then came the development of aquaculture. A genie emerged from the bottle "in the form of smoke which rose to the clouds, billowing over the sea. The genie would have wiped out the over- curious fisherman if the latter had not persuaded it to get back into the bottle. The new Atlantis The sea begins and ceases and then again begins And when after thought I long rest my gaze On the calm of the gods, I have here my reward.
But the wind is rising! I must try to live! But is it really a legend? More and more people dream of lotus-eating on tropical islands, and holiday clubs and leisure centres of all kinds are proliferating. Offshore oil platforms could already serve as models or embryos for earthly paradises. We must aim higher and settle in ever more remote locations.
Habitations can be built above the deep blue waters, looking out over a vast expanse, the inviolate horizon and "the calm of the gods", but above all in the freedom of the open sea, subject only to international law. The"serene temples of the sages" which Lucretius imagined in the marine environment Suave mare magno , the ideal scientific city which Francis Bacon called the "New Atlantis", could thus emerge from the limbo of the mind. Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath, nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. Samuel Taylor Coleridge English poet and philosopher The Rime of the Ancient Mariner water exploration, has been cherishing this idea ever since his first dives in with Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Such an archipelago, dynamically anchored to the seabed, is being planned for the Pacific Ocean, outside those areas which have already been or are being appropriated by the nations of the planet for economic exploitation. It is still no more than a project, perhaps even a pipe-dream. But it is not too late, nor perhaps too soon, to start to build this "last shore". Summer holidaymakers on the Atlantic coast of France. Tokamak: an apparatus for the magnetic confinement of the reacting matter plasma involved in nuclear fusion.
One recent study suggests that an Atlantis civilization may have existed in the North Sea 10, years ago. The oldest unequivocal reference to diving is in book sixteen of the Iliad, in which Patroclus gives the following description of the Trojan Cebhones whom he has just hit with a stone and knocked from his chariot: "Ha!
Quite an acrobat, I see, judging by that graceful dive! The man who takes so neat a header from a chariot on land could dive for oysters from a ship at sea in any weather and fetch up plenty for a feast. I did not know the Trojans had such divers. Until the end of the Renaissance diving was limited in time by lung capacity and depth by visibility. It then became known that an underwater swimmer breathing through a tube linked to the surface needs to exert a force greater than the water pressure in order to inhale.
Two metres underwater the effort to inhale is very tiring, and impossible any deeper. Nevertheless, experiments with diving bells were carried out during this period. These bell- shaped hulls open to the water at the bottom were modelled on saucepans or on the urns containing air which Roman divers placed on the seabed, with the mouth facing downwards, and used to supply themselves with air. Taking up an idea formulated a hundred years before by Denis Papin, the English engineer John Smeaton 1 1 went one step further when he fitted a pump to the bell in order to provide it with fresh air from a ship on the surface.
But diving bells were heavy, unwieldy, and difficult to use. The supply of air was continuous, and excess air escaped through the edge of the helmet below the chin. By Siebe had developed an improved model with a valve which let air out without letting water in. Further improvements were added by W. James and then by Condert, who designed a system for adjusting the supply of compressed air, a primitive regulator and a free escape system for surplus air.
Cabirol improved this apparatus even further in In , a swimmer equipped with a gas regulator supplied by a pump on the surface could thus easily move around up to 40 metres down. In the following year, these brilliant inventors devised a system for providing the air supply directly from a container carried on the diver's back. Divers could now operate for up to half an hour at a depth of ten metres without any link with the surface. Jules Verne understood its potential immediately and equipped Captain Nemo and his men with it in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.
Right, "Got a spanner? Middle, Halley's diving bell 17th century. Top, diving hood designed by the Roman writer Vegetius 5th century AD. Mozart's unfinished symphony At the request of the prestigious Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum foundation, the Japanese composer Shigeaki Saegusa has recently completed the score of an unfinished orchestral work by Mozart, the Symphonia Concertante KV The new version of the symphony, which lasts 20 minutes, will be played in Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace, on 5 December, the bicentenary of the great composer's death.
On display will be objects produced during the 8-century Islamic period of Spanish history, on loan from museums and private collections in Spain, Berlin, London, Leningrad, New York and Paris. The directive, which will come into force on 1 July , will cut the maximum permitted emission of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide. Brain drain earlier for men After studying the brains of 34 men and 35 women aged 18 to 80, scientists at Pennsylvania University have concluded that men's brains deteriorate three times faster than women's.
The results of their research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that men's brain cells die earlier than women's and that much of the loss is concentrated in the parts of the brain responsible for reasoning, calculating, planning and conceptualizing. Family planning spreads but world population still rising More than half of all couples in developing countries now use some kind of contraception, as against less than 10 per cent in the s, according to the latest annual report of the United Nations Population Fund.
The report also says that without family planning programmes carried out in the last 20 years, world population would be million higher than it is today. In spite of this progress, United Nations specialists estimate that world population will rise from 5. The right to a clean planet The French ocean explorer Commandant Jacques-Yves Cousteau has launched a campaign for the United Nations to proclaim the right of future generations to inherit a planet where life will not be seriously threatened by pollution and overpopulation.
Commandant Cousteau has drafted the Declaration in co-operation with French and American scientists and philosophers. Amnesty International at 30 The humanitarian organization Amnesty International, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, has published a pessimistic report which says that 2 out of 3 people live in countries that torture and kill their citizens.
Amnesty International is appealing to decision-makers and citizens to reject all attempts to justify violations of human rights. This year the Day, whose theme was "Preventing Drug Abuse: all together against a common threat", coincided with the launching of the International Decade against Drug Abuse , which is designed to strengthen and support national, regional and international efforts in this field. Waste not To remedy defects in the 3 widely-used methods of treating household wastes incineration, tipping and use as raw material for the manufacture of fertilizer , a Swiss company has invented a high-speed fossilization process which produces neither fumes nor residues.
The waste is subjected to heat and light radiation in a reactor, and petrified within 8 minutes. The end product is a kind of gravel which can be used in industries ranging from construction to mechanical engineering. Nausicaa, the magic of the sea Nausicaa, a marine centre designed to present to the general public the spectacle of the marine world and its riches opened in May at Boulogne-sur-Mer France. With 15, square metres of exhibition space, 1, square metres of aquarium, a library containing 5, titles and 4, references to works about the sea, a video library with 5, images and films, Nausicaa is also a data bank providing researchers, journalists and lovers of the sea with a matchless source of information.
A woman's world Some 4, craters, plains and mountains have been identified on Venus as a result of topographical measurements made by the Magellan space probe. The nomenclature commission of the International Astronomical Union has decided to name these sites for famous women who died more than three years ago.
The only exception is the planet's highest point, which already bears the name of the physicist James Clerk Maxwell. From the Chunnel, a million-year-old fossil During work on the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France, 16 km from the coast of Kent in southeast England, a surveyor has made the first major palaeontological discovery of these gigantic excavations: a perfectly preserved fossil, that of an octopus-like mollusc which is believed to have lived 95 million years ago.
This species, says British geologist Stuart Warren, has not changed in appearance for million years. Built in by Napoleon III, transformed into a museum in , it housed until a splendid collection of immpressionist paintings which were later transferred to the new Orsay Museum. The new Jeu de Paume will be a national gallery without a permanent collection. The inaugural exhibition, a retrospective of the last years of the French painter Jean Dubuffet, will be followed by exhibitions of work by contemporary artists who are little known outside their own countries.
We behave as if the oceans can absorb anything, and do not suspect that they play a crucial role in the regulation of climate. We think that there are unlimited stocks of fish, whereas in reality world fishing has already reached saturation point. Where the sea is concerned, we seem to find it hard to distinguish myth from reality.
These contradictions between what we believe and what is true, between what we want and what is possible, are nowhere more apparent than in the Mediterranean, that "sea in the midst of land", the cradle and crossroads of ancient civilizations, which is today pointed to as an example of pollution and degradation. What are the facts, and what does the future hold for these shores "where the orange tree blossoms"? However it soon became clear that the harm being done to the sea originated mainly from the landfrom the coast, from rivers, and from the atmosphere.
On the coast, however, the situation varies widely. It is on the coastal regions of the Mediterranean countries that human activities are focused and where all kinds of pressures are created. Any attempt to understand the present and possible future situation of the Mediterranean has to be based on an analysis of the system and its possible futures.
Any action which affects only one or another of the components of the system and ignores the overt or covert links between them runs the risk of failure. It may, for instance, be futile to try to attract more tourists to a stretch of coast where the necessary water resources are not available, or if a polluting industry is created nearby.
The Mediterranean countries decided to produce a system-based and future-oriented study which would help them to understand the nature and extent of current developmentsand to make sound policy decisions. This tool is the Blue Plan. Scenarios for the future In the Blue Plan, a number of scenarios have been constructed for the Mediterranean system until the year Of course these scenarios do not claim to predict the future, which will doubtless emerge from the course of history as erratically as it always has.
But they aim to show what may happen in the logic of things, depending on Fishermen are depicted on this mosaic from the ancient city of Utica, Tunisia 4th century AD. The population of their Mediterranean coastal regions may rise from 60 million today to somewhere between and million in the year , whereas population in the northern countries may only rise from 80 to 90 million at most.
The results of the different scenarios of the Blue Plan are too complex to be summarized in a few lines. The figures are alarming. To take but one example, between now and , an average of one power station would have to be built every twenty kilometres from the coast of Morocco to that of Turkey. The alternative scenarios are of course more acceptable, even if they are based on the supposition that major difficulties will have been overcome.
At the same time there would have to be a real change in attitudes, both in the north and in the south, towards the environment and the consumption of resources. It is there that the most serious conflicts arise about land use. I would cite one example to illustrate the importance of the choices which will have to be made. By the beginning of the next century, almost all the Mediterranean countries will have to import much of their food.
Depending on the scenario, these areas may be visited by between and million foreign tourists each year from Europe or elsewhere. But the coast will not attract tourists if it is blighted by anarchic building and infrastructure development and by all kinds of pollution on land, on the beaches and at sea.
There are other places where tourists can go. Priority to the coast If the idea of "saving" the Mediterranean is to make any sense at all, it is essential that the coastline be properly managed. Unfortunately, there is no tradition of integrated coastal management of this kind. In most countries matters concerning the land and those concerning the sea are handled by different parts of the administrative system. However, there is reason to react, and all those of us who are interested in the sea or go to the seaside can do something to help.
The Blue Plan for the Mediterranean shows both the limits and the possibilities of protecting the shoreline. It also shows that other blue plans could be useful for the future of other regions. It was doubtless right and proper that it should break new ground in reflecting on the future. But now it must vigorously continue the action it has begun so that its future will be worthy of its past. Time is running out if we are to modify or reverse the degradation of the coastline.
If Venus, goddess of beauty, daughter of the Mediterranean, ever rises from the waves again, let us make sure that she is not covered with red algae, plastic and tar. From time to time a spectacled bear can be seen, a species found nowhere else in South America. The mountain forest stretches out further down between altitudes of 3, and 2, metres, shrouded in thick mist. Lower down the temperature rises and rainfall increases, making for a proliferation of plant and animal life.
The lure of the unknown For centuries people have been drawn to the Amazon by the lure of the unknown, a thirst for adventure and the prospect of fortune. The Incas of Cuzco sought to expand their empire in this region and found themselves with no choice but to trade with the warlike tribes of the region in order to obtain the colourful feathers with which they decorated their ceremonial costumes and the hallucinogenic and medicinal plants on which they relied.
Legend has it that Paititi, the lost city where the Incas are believed to have hidden enormous quantities of gold and silver after learning of the murder of their ruler Atahu- alpa at the hands of the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro, was located in the Manu region. The Spanish armies, in their search for this Eldorado and its fabulous treasures, penetrated deep into the jungle where they were decimated by disease and hostile Indians.
They too ended up by abandoning all attempts to settle there. For three more centuries it was not known whether the rivers in the Madre de Dios basin flowed northwards or westwards. The rubber boom in the late nineteenth century attracted thousands of adventurers to the area.
For twenty-odd years the tapping of trees for latex was a thriving industry and Amazonia edged its way into the world market, but competition from the British plantations in Asia brought this activity to a sudden end.
Lethargy again descended on the region, 75only to be shaken off in the s with the development of the trade in fursocelot, jaguar, otter, black lizardand exotic wood- manly mahogany and cedar. Around the same time people started taking an interest in the exceptional biological resources to be found there. In the Peruvian authorities organized an expedition into the basin of the river Manu and its tributary the Sotileja.
On the basis of the information collected, they declared Manu a national park in June The core of the biosphere reserve is Manu National Park, which has an area of 15, km2 from which all economic or touristic activities are barred. It is bounded in the east by a buffer zone measuring some 2, km2 where the aim is to preserve the forest while allowing limited tourism and scientific research. Further south is a transitional zone covering km2 inhabited by a few settlers and by Indian communities which continue to practise their traditional activities, within set bounds.
The Cocha Cashu biological observatory was established in beside a cutoff of the river Manu. The work done there has helped to provide a fuller picture of the forms of life present in the reserve and of tropical forest ecosystems in general. Another observatory is being built outside the national park so that certain studies can be carried out which are not allowed in the park itself.
But there is a huge amount to be done. The forest harbours countless mysteries. We know little about its aquatic forms of life and virtually nothing about the tropical montane rainforest or the grasslands of the high plateaux or punas. In a sense, then, the legendary treasures of Eldorado do exist in the form of the sixteen ecosystems present within the 18, km2 of the reserve, which have remained practically intact since the dawn of time.
Parrots, monkeys, and turtles The most characteristic feature of the tropical rainforest is doubtless its fabulous diversity. It would be impossible here to list even the main forest species in the reserve. To give some idea of its biological resources, researchers have identified 1, vascular plants within an area of 4 km2 around the 76 Cocha Cashu observatory.
One tenth of the Macaws, members of the parrot family which often live in groups. There are twenty-eight species of macaws and parrots, including the very rare blue-headed parrot. At sunrise a squawking, multicoloured flight of parrots can sometimes be seen swooping down on the furrowed banks of the Manu to gobble up the clay which is rich in mineral salts. Herons, wild geese and ducks, delicate spoonbills and other gangling waders mingle on the shores with sleepy caimans that can move into action with devastating speed.
Kingfishers, large-billed toucans and stiletto- billed snakebirds also live by the river, feeding on its plentiful supply of aquatic animals. Perhaps the strangest bird of all is the hoatzin, which nests at the riverside. Its young have claws on their wings which they use to clamber about in the trees before they learn to fly. Its digestive system resembles that of ruminants. The forest is also the habitat of monkeys, thirteen species of which have so far been identified, including the tiny pygmy marmoset, the smallest in the world, which weighs barely grams, the restless emperor tamarin, which owes its name to its superb white moustaches, worthy of emperor Franz-Josef of Austria, the spider monkey and the howling monkey whose roars, imitating those of the jaguar, have curdled the blood of more than one tourist.
The jaguar itself, like the puma and the ocelot, is mainly nocturnal but can be seen prowling along the river bank at the time of the year when turtles come there to lay their eggs. Tapirs, peccaries and wild dogs come to the water during the daytime to drink.
There are also many other mammalssmall bats which sleep head downwards, hanging from the branches over the cochas, vampire bats which live exclusively on blood, giant anteaters and armadillos, some of which weigh as much as fifty kilograms. There are also large numbers of giant otters. Much sought after for their valuable furs, these carnivorous mammals once came near to extinction in the Amazon basin. Insatiably curious and extremely fast-moving in the water, otters hunt and fish in groups.
Endowed with powerful teeth, they do not hesitate to attack one-and-a-half-metre-long caimans in order to defend their young or obtain food. Many dangers lurk in this spellbindingly beautiful world, vibrant with sounds and colours. The most fearsome and aggressive of the snakes is the deadly bushmaster [Lachesis muta , which can be more than three metres long and is reputed to pursue people who are foolhardy enough to cross its path. The most common reptiles are pit vipers of the genus Bothrops, which are capable of detecting sources of heat from a distance and can thus hunt in the dark, and the brightly-coloured coral snakes of the genus Micrurus, which are distant cousins of the Asian and African cobras.
The rivers and lakes are the home of the anaconda and the gigantic aquatic boa which can be as much as nine metres long. By the riverside or on drifting trunks it is not uncommon to see river turtles basking in the sun in the company of black lizards. The largest reptile in the reserve, which has been observed at Cocha Cashu, is a black female lizard nearly five metres long and over kilos in weight. The forest hunters The most mysterious area in the reserve is the Pusharo gorge, a colossal gateway through which the river Palotoa finds its way out of the mountains.
Behind, a ramp, which is probably artificial, leads to a stone terrace. They are the remains of a forgotten Amazonian culture probably dating back to the earliest settlers in America. In the rainy season, the Neolithic Amahuaca hunters, fishermen and farmers return to the sources of the two rivers to tend their crops. During the dry season, from July to December, they go back to the banks of the Manu where they harvest the river turtle eggs which are the main source of protein in their diet.
They jealously defend their territory and shoot arrows at anyone who crosses the invisible frontier that runs around it. The Machiguenga people are very different. The poor state of the road from Cuzco makes transport expensive, and this discourages people from settling in the area.
A threatened world But the park is being increasingly exposed to danger. If these schemes come to fruition, the extraordinary natural heritage of Manu will soon be no more than a memory. In the region of Madre de Dios, which is one of the last unspoiled areas of Peru, and especially near the Brazilian border, linked to Sao Paulo by a tarmacked road, the forest is being burnt away, sometimes illegally, to make space for big stock-raising farms.
A camp set up for the prospectors has already caused incalculable harm. Wild animals have been exterminated, rivers have been polluted with oil and chemical products and indigenous groups have been driven from their traditional hunting grounds. But this is nothing in comparison with the ecological and human disaster that would be triggered by the installation of a pipeline to transport gas to Cuzco, along with a power station which would produce electricity exported to Brazil via a km-long high- voltage cable, km of which would pass though the reserve.
If these projects are carried out, the forests of Manu will cease to be. He helped to set up a new scientific research station in the Manu biosphere reserve and contributed to a plan for a biosphere reserve at Beni in Bolivia. Like the celebrations on 17 November last that had marked the start of the voyage, these were in traditional Omani style and featured hundreds of dancers.
It would be an understatement to say that the expedition received a royal welcome. There we were greeted by floating rigs adorned with the United Nations flag, the Sultan's portrait and a mysterious flower that several of usclearly no great shakes as botaniststook for a lotus, seeing it as a possible symbol of East-West relations.
Later we were told that the flower thus depicted was a new variety of rose, the "Sultan Qabus". They brandished sticks, swords and kandjarsthe traditional dagger sported by Omani men on solemn occasions. Meanwhile, on land, ministers, members of the royal family, an escort, other dances, and a procession of official cars awaited us. Our arrival in Muscat coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the Sultan's accession to power. It was the transition, effected through dynastic succession and with the help of petrodollars, from an Oman immersed in its history, where electricity and sunglasses were suspected of bringing the evils of modernism, to the most up-to-date form of civilization.
Few places present such striking contrasts. I would also ask them to make allowances for what may be no more than a superficial impression. Losing our bearings But for us passengers of the Fulk al-Salamah the culture shock had been even greater. We had left behind us the agricultural and urban Mediterranean world with its layer cake of different cultures, and found ourselves face to face with something radically other.
At the seminars which we attended ashore and during the twice-daily working meetings on board we were supposed to be adding to our knowledge. We could at least try to remember what our points of reference were, for they seemed to have gone astray somewhere in the Red Sea. In Athens, we hadn't yet lost the thread. It wasexcuse the play on wordssilk. We knew that the introduction of this precious fibre in ancient Rome had triggered a riot of indulgence and a craze for imported fabrics, leading finally to a debt of such proportions that the English historian Edward Gibbon considered it to be one of the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.
In the time of the late empire silk clothes were highly prized and passed on from generation to generation, so it is not surprising that the introduction into Byzantium of the modest silk-worm in the mid-sixth century caused a total upheaval. The links between the maritime silk route and the caravan trails helped to reassure us that we were indeed finding similarities and exploring a unifying network which was a cause of strife among the powerful but which was usually kept open in the interests of a deep-rooted need for security.
Little by little, we turned from silk to other commodities. Archaeological studies have only recently been undertaken in the country, but they already reveal links that reach far back into pre-Islamic times. As early as the third millennium BC and right up to the beginning of the following millennium, Oman, the land of Magan, exported copper and diorite to Mesopotamia.
At the same time pottery from Mesopotamia appeared in Omani tombs. Similarly, relations between Magan culture and the Indus Civilization can apparently be traced back to about 2, BC. A number of stories from later times provided us with other examples of cultural exchanges between Oman and other countries. One of the specialists on board recounted to us the tale of an Omani merchant of Indian Left, the Fulk al-Salamah in the port of Venice.
In foreground is the Zlnat al- Bihar, a traditional Omani ship. Above, three-coloured enamelled statuette of a bearded camel driver. It was found in an 8th-century tomb near Xi'an China. He died a rich man in Beijing in A story from the early fifteenth century concerns the famous Chinese navigator Zheng He, a Muslim, who travelled several times to El Balidid, present-day Salalah, in the south of Oman. These cases are striking not only because they suggest vast areas for study.
The first two examples take us back several thousand years, and far from the regions which the expedition had studied. The history of Oman, until relatively recent times, seems to consist only of accounts by foreign observers and of the records of trade. For a people which has taken as its national heroes Sindbad the Sailor and Vasco da Gama's helmsman, Ahmed bin Majud, travel and discovery led not to self-enrichment but to identity.
Coming into port With hindsight, our magnificent welcome in Muscat came to assume a significance that it had not possessed at the moment when we landed there. Several times during our voyage we had talked about how we had gained another sense of time and had come to see travelling in another light. We had slipped our moorings, both physically and metaphorically, forgotten our everyday lives for several months and formed a community.
The distant noise of war reached us but was somehow muffled. One specialist pointed out that the presiding geniuses of our journey, Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta, had been able to roam freely through the then known world without being arrested or murdered. What was their secret? What signs of peace did they use, what code of salutation? If the longest journeys are in the mind, the flood of sounds and colours that greeted us in Muscat or celebrated the homecoming of the Fulk al-Salamah perhaps showed that the traveller is someone for whom novelty can be a source of inner change.
Far from the world of total and instantaneous media coverage, we had come to see things in a different way. The signatories of the Venice Appeal, which is intended to further the Global Programme on AIDS co-ordinated by the World Health Organization WHO , call on all those who wish to fight this terrible pandemic to contribute to national programmes to combat AIDS in the countries that are most stricken in Africa, in order to strengthen preventive education, training and scientific research, and to support those orphaned by AIDS, especially by covering their educational expenses.
Germany supports educational projects in Sahel Under an agreement signed in December , Germany is contributing 1. The first stage of the project will last 3 years and is designed to enable each of these countries to produce , textbooks for use in literacy and post-literacy work. Mayor said, "which, over and above interest rates, technology transfers, the price of raw materials, financial flows, tariff and non-tariff barriers, etc. The answer that is given to these questions will largely determine how we reshape international relations.
Among the projects proposed as part of the Plan are the creation of training fellowships, the setting up of a data bank on Arab culture, action to provide financial support for the international distribution of Arab films and to increase public awareness of the major achievements of Arab art in such fields as architecture, miniatures and the graphic arts. The president of the jury, Mr Henry Kissinger, said that the two prizewinners had been chosen for their contribution to international peace, to encourage them to continue their efforts, and as a tribute to what they had done to educate their peoples towards understanding and towards overcoming prejudices that many considered to be insurmountable only a few years ago.
The prize, worth , French francs, will be presented later this year. It is intended to honour persons, institutions or associations that have made a significant contribution to the promotion, maintenance or restoration of peace. Users will find in IDAMS the standard range of univariate and bivariate statistics, and multivariate statistical techniques, plus some recent advanced techniques.
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Pages 4, 6, 9: U. Dagli Orti, Paris. It features Corsican vocal music traditionally performed a capella but here accompanied by Manu Dibango, Ryuichi Sakamoto and other musicians mainly associated with pop music. It might seem sacrilege to provide instrumental backing, but this in no way detracts from the superb voices of the Bonifacio church singers. A rough poetry "Onda", "Terra Brusgiata" , true to the spirit of Corsica, is distilled by this music whose beauty matches that of Bulgarian music, better known internationally.
Radio Bratislava. The pieces, which are seldom performed on the radio, range from the fiery to the melancholic. Especially noteworthy are an epic song from western Bulgaria and a wistful melody performed by herdsmen of central Slovakia. The instruments played include the cymbalum, associated with gypsy music, and the domra. At a time when things are moving in Eastern Europe, this welcome recording serves to remind us how rich and varied is its musical heritage.
The guitar playing is quite dazzling. Harrell trumpet, flugelhorn , Joe Lovano tenor sax. The title of this CD is "Forms", which is very appropriate to this dense, lyrical and highly structured music, which is also of a consistently high quality. An exponent of a polytonal, polymodal, "modern" style of jazz, he is an attentive accompanist and virtuoso soloist who has well and truly assimilated the lessons of the pianists who came before him.
But his rhythmic inventions are most fully brought into play in Latin jazz and I hope that it won't be too long before he is given an opportunity to record in this vein, which is perfectly suited to his temperament. Mo Better Blues. Marsalis sax. Marsalis, Blanchard and their rhythm sectionall seasoned musicians despite their youthare producing some of the best jazz around, tightly scored and, on some tracks, full of bounce, in the good old Dixieland tradition.
A special word of praise for Cynda Williams, who also acts in the film and who gives a vibrant rendering of the old W. Conductor Olivier Holt. CD Cybelia CY The Cybelia record company is trying to make French music better known, and particularly the music of living composers. Dominique Probst was born in in a family of musicians. A percussionist, he has composed a great deal for the theatre and it was therefore natural that, after many changes of direction, he should try his hand at opera when seeking to forge his own style.
After Shostakovich, Schoenberg, Britten, Penderecki and a few other lesser composers, Probst in his turn denounces the horrors of Nazism. First performed in Italy in , this ambitious work was originally commissioned by the Paris Opera House. Majestic synth puts on a pristine display as electric lead guitar foretells the heaviness of the nevertheless casual percussion.
We catch the full cascade towards the end, all musical grandeur ecstatically conjoining atop torrents of rapid double kick before the album concludes in epic fashion. The music has a slight industrial edge, as well as an element of unnerving, almost haunting dissonance, while the scathing vocals convey unbridled, red-hot hatred. Anthropophagy succeeds in transmitting a sense of dread with tracks of haunting, anxiety provoking, smoldering malice.
Surprisingly good old-school symphonic black metal! The simplicity and earnestness of the 2nd wave, with sustained orchestral synth atmospheres, scathing vocals, sufficient drumming, and some solid guitar solos. Heavy, thickened, black, almost meditative ritualism with hints of death metal, done extremely well and fully developed in every respect. I have been following this project for a while and every release just gets better and better.
Blazing and monstrous, even for an EP. Also, I checked my posts, and I first listened to it on January 1, , so it is certainly the very first list-worthy thing I heard in ! This is an addendum EP to the Impressions of the Morning Star album and has a similar timbre: an avant garde, blistering, murky, almost droning onslaught broken up by epic splendor… inhumanly aggressive and impossibly beautiful at the same time.
Its pretty damn good and great wintertime music! Maybe top 3. I can usually only handle one or two songs at a time but each time it is more and more devastatingly euphoric. Like Black Metal Daily on Facebook for more cult sounds and tonal blasphemy. Order ov the Black Arts. However, the shift in focus is not only represented with the album title and lyrical themes but also with the sound itself, which seems overall to be a bit more ritualized and contemplative, borrows more from progressive blackened doom sensibilities than its predecessor did, and is perfected in terms of execution, production, and mix.
It is available for pre-order now, and set for release by Eisenwald on LP black and clear variants , CD and digital formats on August 28th, Render it unto thee. Pre-orders available now. Sitting midway between progressive epic death metal think An Abstract Illusion , Ne Obliviscaris , or Eternal Storm [see below] and progressive modern rock i.
Tool , Disillusion can be squarely described as epic progressive metal. The music? This was probably my most anticipated release coming into except for Schammasch and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Since it was released early in the year, because it is so short, and because my love of the album was reinforced by seeing Saor live at Fire In The Mountains festival, it almost certainly gets the award for most spin time.
Three epic Caledonian tracks and a nice filler outro that I nevertheless bother listening to. Did I mention that it is short? What the IS that?! Saor has since signed to Season of Mist , and Andy is already working on the next album. Yes, please. Unlike Saor and Schammasch , I was completely blindsided by this one.
When it went up for preorder I blew it off because there was no preview track. Big mistake, which was almost instantly rectified upon hearing the first minute of the first song. Taking into creative consideration the very fragile current zeitgeist would render any piece of art absolutely harmless and devoid of worth … let us leave the world of binary thinking for a minute, concentrate solely on the individual of exceptional fabric, and dream aloud.
Full Support. The prolific output of Naas Alcameth makes it difficult to resist exacting upon Aoratos a bit of comparative analysis against its infernal siblings. What Aoratos projects is a supernatural force which is both external and worldly, and can hence be more easily demarcated from the dread internal psychic nightmare of Akhlys , as well as from the more subterranean hellish inferno of Bestia Arcana.
Lacking the epic keyboards and heightened shrill falsetto guitar lead of Nightbringer and bringing instead a nuanced industrial edge, Aoratos forgoes the immense, sprawling apocalypse of Nightbringer and instead emotes a monstrous haunting; more local, more rural, and more terrestrial. The power of this album is absolutely annihilating. See full review HERE. One of my two most anticipated albums of the year, Schammasch unlike Fleshgod Apocalypse did not disappoint.
Overall, both lyrically and musically, Hearts Of No Light exudes something that is darker, more negative, and more personal than previous albums. Lacking the usual concrete motif, Hearts Of No Light instead consists of multiple tenebrous approaches to a wider and more varied array of areas deep within, where shadowy undercurrents hold sway, where rays of light are glimpsed, and where outward cohesion begins to dissolve.
In this way, Hearts Of No Light signifies a progression not only in terms of wider musical variance, but also in the way that the whole is composed… while each track addresses different nebulous aspects of being and tends to individually move from a state of abstraction towards increased emotive cohesion, of the lack of a distinct overarching thesis is itself a statement about the chaos and darkness of inner existential turmoil.
Shem Ha Mephorash is a work of massive ambition, and I have to admit that a significant part of the appeal is not just the music which is fantastic but pointedly contemplative and ecclesial and not necessarily superior to Rites of Nullification in my opinion but the sheer developmental advancement and enormity of the album clocks in at 74 minutes , the stunning artwork of the physical product, and the overall level of ambition and coherence.
The lines between the daemonic and theistic blur here as Mephorash seems to obscure such trivial distinctions, the trumpets of both Heaven and Hell harkening a sacred fire to the spirit, casting the listener simultaneously above as crystalized vapors of ethereal perfection and below to infernal ashes of annihilation. Woe to the profane secular flesh and petty ego, gasping and choking on the smoke from a numinous flame.
A modern esoteric black metal masterpiece, Shem Ha Mephorash radiates with transcendence, sacramental power, and a terrible, beautiful white flame of holy judgement. This one is a bit of an enigma. It even gets a little bit into that claustrophobic and suffocating Icelandic sound with the short title track… but this is minimal and not overdone.
A good thing in my personal opinion. This one ranks as perhaps the most violent of all my year-end picks, and might be compared somewhat to Aoratos as an immediate reference. Reign of the Odious is more death metal-oriented, but similar in terms of unremittent pitch-black maelstrom mixed with subtle industrial ish elements and an undercurrent of epic cataclysmic ruin.
Completely necessary. Another death metal album. A fantastic one… a near perfect combination of groove, speed, classiness, melodicism, brutality, progressiveness, and technicality, complete with tasteful acoustic interludes and fantastic vocal variation. With vocals kind of like Travis Ryan ala Cattle Decapitation , but without those melodic highs. This is one that just demands a listen in order to get it. I hope we get it in You ever get those moments when you give your chosen listening device a raised eyebrow because of all of the asskickery that is suddenly occurring?
I managed to pounce on the last fancy LP on Bandcamp and the package came with this really cool set of Tarot cards which match the cover art. Definitely highlights this as a top release for me. With only moderate hype, this album turned a lot of heads when it dropped at least in my social media circles … and for good reason.
Progressive black metal done perfectly: great focus, great balance, great drive, great production. Vortex of End definitely gets my most underappreciated band of the year vote. Despite one previous album already under the belt, captivating album artwork, a surprisingly elaborate physical product I grabbed a gold LP , and my own best efforts, it never really seemed like Ardens Fvror gained much traction as the triumphant black metal monument that I think it is. Musically, this is undeniably compelling: a slightly death-tinged, powerful, ferocious, yet artistic orthodox BM masterwork with an array of exciting elements and plenty of room to breathe.
The vocals are particularly noteworthy… varied, interesting, and effective. Based on a novel of the same name by Eric Stener Carlson , and featuring narration of the story by the author, Muladona is the extreme auditory interpretation of a horrific tale of disease and decay, death, violence and stench, grotesque pubescence and entrenched evil. Hallucinogen is a prismatic, spiraling, inspired voyage that intentionally waxes towards both the outer realms of cognition as well as towards the far fringes of an eccentric discography which is already so varied and visionary that Blut Aus Nord holds a categorically exclusive, unique, and unmatched status within black metal at large.
Easy Americana-folk infused barelyblackmetal with meandering, woodsy melodies, lightly cascading percussion, straightforward vocals, positive Lennon -esque message, and a very organic, natural, mellow production. Very little distortion or aggression to be found here, this is for times of peace. My only complaint is that the vocals could use some variation, they stick to the Harakiri For The Sky -ish yelling pretty much exclusively.
Quite beautiful overall though and probably my most laid-back pick of the year. Great tunes for a wayward northwestern drive amongst the trees, and truly a unique album, musically and visually. Malignant, audacious, and relentlessly abrasive, Akasha is a hybrid of venomous, frenzied raw black metal and savage, necksnapping D-beat driven crustpunk. Unlike Totaled , there is zero melody to found in these tracks, only slight variations of speed which ranges from paced predatorial malevolence to frenetic, driving bloodlust, all the while spearheaded by riffs to rip out your throat and vocals to mar your soul.
Shockingly, singularly, and utterly vicious. Pummeling drums drive forward anxious riffing before seamlessly progressing to up-tempo headbanging extravaganza sections. Short but violent guitar solos are dispersed throughout, as downtempo passages featuring ominous chants emerge.
Mid-paced groove proves to be one of the more stellar aspects of the album, among many other impressive qualities. Swirling, threatening, almost nauseating guitars atop simple ritualistic beats transition to more doomy, melancholic, and at times quite beautiful measures featuring soaring leads and spoken word. It might not be breaking any huge molds, but this album interweaves multiple facets of straightforward melodic black metal.
An instant classic, second in line for most underappreciated album of the year. A critically underrated release from earlier this year. A soaring and complex melodic post-black Lovecraftian opus with a long list of fine attributes, not least of which is an amazing and varied vocal performance and soul-tugging guitar solos.
While the music tends towards epic, bombastic scales, the vocals serve to maintain integration with both more traditional black metal currents as well as loop in some post-rock and black-folk elements specifically similar to the little-known American one-man act Appalachian Winter.
Nature-centered and frost bitten, this Siberian black metal places a heavy emphasis on melancholic inflection, an icy subzero vocal delivery, and shitload of damn appropriate accordion. Not to mention other cool stuff like winter bells, blizzards of furious double kick, and whirling guitar riffs, and frigid synth. As a bonus, when Naturmacht Productions opened up preorders they also made the previous album, Tales of the Enchanted Woods available on vinyl for the first time.
It is difficult to describe what takes place across the vast and furious sonic landscape of this album. The music embodies austere medieval granite… yet shimmers with golden empyrean aristocracy; the sound is gritty and hard… yet so clearly of the air and the heavens; belligerent and ruthless… but brimming with a passionate hyper-melodicism; a furious bombardment of harmonized antipodes. It is a shockingly flawless display of weightless chaos and choreographed intensity, breathtaking not only for its sheer aesthetic beauty but also because one can scarcely comprehend how such a beautiful maelstrom of orchestrated complexity is possible.
Steadily driving, foggy melodic black metal, courtesy of D , mastermind behind post-black prototype Woods of Desolation and the rawer ish and folk-energized Forest Mysticism. Synth and probably various other instruments adding heavy doses of melancholic presence make this some perfect wintertime midnight music which gets better with every subsequent listen. Also, multiple vocal styles of deep roaring, blackish screaming, male and female cleans, and array of interesting instrumentation including viola, hurty gurty, Hammond organ, piano, tubular bells, clarinet, hammer dulcimer, and cello.
Forlorn, complex, and heart-wrenchingly beautiful much of the time, the wake of my own personal hype surrounding this release led me to retro-collect their entire catalogue, and I regret nothing. With The Black Consecration , Noctem have definitively annihilated any preconceived notions of what their 5th studio album should sound like… and it is tremendous. Abandoned are many of the death metal elements, grandiose epic flourishes, crystal clear pristine production, and overall vastness of musical concept.
What has been embraced is something significantly more stripped down but not raw, focused but not primitive, and straightforward but not simplistic… something more… black metal , and with a noteworthy compacted production to boot. Like some immense cosmic horror, tentacles reaching through time and space to spread its monstrous alchemy across the vast universe, Cosmicism is immense, Lovecraftian supernaturalism, carefully layered into ambitious and complex, deep yet expansive melodic black metal.
Jet-black and insidious, this album makes use of addictive, needling riffing including something that sounds, awesomely, almost identical to parts of the anxiety-inducing film score in 28 Days Later [track 2] and blistering percussion. It was one of the earliest albums I found this year that really resonated with me Veldes being the only one of note that I discovered prior to it , and thus it has gotten a lot of periodic listens over the last 12 months, each time reminding me just how fucking solid it is.
I would certainly buy this on vinyl, were it available. This one has the benefit of being the very first album that resonated with me in … earnest, verdant, nature-based melodic post-black luxuriance with prominent if slightly overbearing vocals. FFO Woods of Desolation etc. Vitriolic black metal with scornful, torturous, and pensive mid-to-slow paced music and absolutely caustic, scathing vocal delivery courtesy of Imber ex Synodic , Aludra , and hopefully more TBA!
Unnerving dissonance, mechanized inertia, catastrophic atmosphere, and ominous spirit, this is Blut Aus Nord worship of the highest order, managing, like Almyrkvi Umbra , , to surpass the master. FA will always have a place in my heart, at the very least due to at one point being an all-time favorite band.
Veleno is good, but I hope this album grows on me more than it has so far. Lush, atmospheric post-black melodies absolutely drenched in an almost blinding distortion and featuring a vicious vocal approach, very cool combination of beauty and malice. Religiocritical hymns saturated in warm, heavy cathedralic aesthetics, and featuring choirs, celestial instrumentation, grandiose movements, blasting percussion, and transcendental nods towards ego dissolution and ascension.
See review HERE. Hard-hitting melodic, misanthropic American black metal with thrashy flavors and hints of melancholy. Instrumental atmospheric meditative ambient ritualistic drone side project of CSR Schammasch. If you are familiar with the ambient bits of Triangle , Maldoror Chants , and Hearts Of No Light , then you know exactly what you are in for. Polish masters of melody return with exactly what you would expect: infectious riffs and absurdly complex percussion that only MGLA delivers.
Massive neo-folk tour-de-force in a style similar to Wardruna , with a profound live show, fusing tribal beats with a plethora of instrumentation highlights and a vague ritualistic dance quality. Occult black metal managing to blend ritual and melody, featuring guitarist of Acherontas and primarily semi-clean pseudo-chanting vocals, similar to what Schammasch does on the regular.
Very solid melodic progressive black metal, which sounds a lot like Harakiri For The Sky or Saor except with keyboards instead of the Scottish instruments and more typical vocals. A strange but alluring combination of almost Agalloch -esque woodsy atmospherics, raw BM primitivism, war-metal callousness, and World War motifs.
Warm, folky and fanciful with lots of synth, bagpipes, violin, piano, acoustic guitar, clean vocals etc. Polished, well-produced, epic, muscular, fully modern symphonic death metal with touches of industrial elements, fits snugly alongside bands like Dawn of Ashes , Empyrean Throne , Shade Empire , The Monolith Deathcult , and Septicflesh.
Aspiring and brilliant progressive death metal, flaunting a constellation of great approaches and talents, including percussion from Dan Presland of Ne Obliviscaris , a reasonable comparison. Not a huge fan of some of the vocals but this album is a bit of a masterpiece in the progdeath world.
The placement of this release is based almost entirely on how late it came to the game and the fact that it is still vying for position amongst everything above… a wild, occult auditory assailment, which, like Vortex Of End above, benefits heavily from fucking insane vocal performance and which, like Rorcal above, is almost supernatural in its ravening violence.
And here, with Cult of Erinyes , an end-of-of year decimator which adequately represents the imminent black and extreme metal excellence that we will continue to see in the year s to come, seems like an appropriate place to stop and bid farewell to I want to give a humble salute to all purveyors of extreme music that I have interacted with this year, the fellow admins and superior members of Order ov the Black Arts , and Dex with Black Metal Daily and Rick with MoshPitNation for giving me the opportunity to ignite the flame with all reviews this year.
Like Black Metal Daily on Facebook for more kvlt sounds and tonal blasphemy. With a name like Panzerfaust , you might think this Canadian four-piece are either A: big fans of the last really good Darkthrone album oh yeah! Much like Bolt Thrower before them, Panzerfaust just seem to draw inspiration from war. What I am certain about is that there are gyms in Canada because, if the promo photos are anything to go by, these guys like to work out. Either that or they lift moose, or squeeze maple syrup out of trees, or whatever Canadians do to stay in shape.
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