Posts Tagged ‘black metal’

Panurus Productions – 1st October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a cliché to say ‘I don’t know where the time goes’, and it’s often, if not an outright lie, then at least somewhat disingenuous. Between dayjob work, school runs, cooking, other domestic chores, gigs, occasional TV, and writing reviews, it’s pretty obvious to me and most people who know me where my time goes. I know where my time goes. This doesn’t make it less of an issue. The fact I’ve been chipping away at this particular review for days, even weeks, adding a few words here and there, is testament to the time-deficient lifestyle. I can’t even quote remember where I was going at the start of this by the time of the finishing point, but ultimately, I suppose the point is that time is something that is ephemeral, fleeting, something of which we’re all too often acutely aware and are in thrall to and yet at the same time, it is simply a construct by which to structure our existences.

This split release on Newcastle cassette label Panurus Productions promises ‘two sides of bleak catharsis on this transatlantic split from Petrine Cross and Tower of Filargyria.’ And that is precisely what it delivers, with three tracks from each artist, both of whom scour the depths of darkness in contrasting and complimentary ways.

Black metal may have relatively modern origins in musical term, but its murky invocations speak of something altogether more ancient, and Petrine Cross has a way of transcending time and genre, taking the standard tropes and merging them with atmospherics so dark and dank as to blur to near-ambience. The muffled production values which are core to the genre are something not only embraced here, but utilised to create a distancing and a sense of ‘otherness’: this isn’t drums, guitars, vocals, it’s a dense wall of sound that envelops your entire being, and smothers the senses, stifling, suffocating, like a cloud of mustard gas.

There’s a point near the end of ‘Sobriquet’ where everything simply erupts into an explosive crescendo that hits like a bomb, and the sound is like mud, dirt, rocks and splintered body parts – being splattered in all directions from an immense crater. You’ve no idea of the song’s lyrics or real meaning, only the impact of this devastating moment. But there’s light. The third and final PC cut, ‘The Grecian Bend’ seems to offer glimmers from amidst the murk, with some delicate wisps and washes of sound. There’s a rare subtlety and delicacy about this that resonates on a subconscious level.

Tower of Filargyria, apparently referencing ‘the medieval term meaning love of money or silver, rail against their monumental namesake, produce three tracks of sample laden anti-capitalist black metal’. We have to take this on trust, of course, as what this manifests as is a blistering assault of guitars so trebly they hurt and snarling vocals with so much reverb everything clangs into a mesh of noise, the drums thumping away somewhere low in the mix like a pillow thwocking around in a washing machine.

Samples of lectures and speeches dissecting the beast of capitalism abound, and the semi-ambient opening to the third and final ToF track, the eleven-and-a-half-minute ‘Capitalfascist State Apparatus’ (no question about the sentiment / agenda there) works particularly well in the way it draws the listener in – which makes the ‘metal’ section all the more disappointing, being quieter, and of a very different sound quality. It feels more like a demo than a finished take – but for that, it’s true to black metal production values, and it’s one of those songs that gets better as it goes on, and builds and builds to a roaring crescendo of howled, raw-throated vocals and thundering percussion amidst a squall of guitars and feedback. It’s a real whorl of noise and comes on full-throttle, and this – THIS – is the release. It’s been a long time in coming.

Catharsis is hard to beat, but the downside is that it’s often hard to know how to manage the drop, the slump which follows – and it inevitably does. This split release is all the catharsis, and it’s one the listener can project onto and draw inwards from. It has immense (dark) force: the only slump is for the listener on the realisation that after forty-five minutes of immersion in the gnarliest, most painful depths of anguish, it’s over.

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UK based, anti-facist, black metallers Underdark have shared the video for new single, ‘With Ashen Hands Around Our Throats’, a track written in response to the injustices following the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017.

You can watch the video now:

After forming in 2015, Nottingham based black metallers Underdark are finally ready to present their debut album to the world. Following their recent ‘Plainsong​/With Bruised & Bloodied Feet’ single release in 2020, ‘Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry’ is the sound of a new chapter of Underdark, set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).

While still utilising a dreamlike and heavy mixture of black-metal, post-metal and shoegaze, Underdark’s debut album also packs a renewed punch alongside a ferocity and intensity matched only by the innovative and engaging song structures.

Recorded & mixed with Misha Herring at Holy Mountain Studio (40 Watt Sun, Inhuman Nature, Idles, Spiritualised, Puppy) & mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering (Emma Ruth Rundle, Southern Lord Records, Power Trip, Mizmor), the album captures five tracks of intense & emotional progressive compositions, not limited by genre to create a tidal wave of sound; that shift in emotions, drowning you between sections of crushing blast beats and ear splitting vocals to blissful, atmospheric soundscapes that engulf you within them.

Lyrically the album covers personal issues such as addiction & psychosis, to inhumane border control & the shameless exploitation of the lower classes at the hands of landlords such as on latest single ‘With Ashen Hands Around Our Throats’. Commenting on the video for the track vocalist Abi states,

“I wrote this about Grenfell like two years after the fire, and it’s been another two since and it’s fucking disgusting that there’s been no justice for it. The song is also about how landlords under the Tories have been given free rein to take the piss. We filmed the video with Morgan Tedd (Erase Creative) it was fun as fuck but I had to do a bunch of takes falling on my face which sucked.“

Underdark’s debut album Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry is set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).

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Following the announcement that the new Darkthrone album, Eternal Hails, is to be released on 25th June, the band have premiered “Hate Cloak” – the first and only track to be revealed ahead of the album’s release. The 9min 17 seconds, Fenriz penned, hallowed epic “Hate Cloak” is steeped in the majestic thunder of vintage heavy doom metal. Fenriz comments “Hate Cloak is certainly the slowest song on the album, there are plenty of “fast" parts on Ted’s songs, middle tempos and slow as well. The whole point of us having long songs is variation in tempos/pace, hence the epicness”

Watch ‘hate Cloak’ here:

Eternal Hails will be released on Peaceville on 25th June

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The press email landed with the leader: ‘UK based, anti-facist black metallers Underdark have announced details on their debut album  Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry which is set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).’

In a  time where the outgoing US president identified antifa as ‘the enemy’, we here at Aural Aggro are proud to back and provide coverage to any act with an expressly anti-fascist agenda – although it does also help if they produce good noise, and Underdark most definitely do.

After forming in 2015, Nottingham based black metallers Underdark are finally ready to present their debut album to the world. Following their recent ‘Plainsong​/With Bruised & Bloodied Feet’ single release in 2020, ‘Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry’ is the sound of a new chapter of Underdark, set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).

While still utilising a dreamlike and heavy mixture of black-metal, post-metal and shoegaze, Underdark’s debut album also packs a renewed punch alongside a ferocity and intensity matched only by the innovative and engaging song structures.

Recorded & mixed with Misha Herring at Holy Mountain Studio (40 Watt Sun, Inhuman Nature, Idles, Spiritualised, Puppy) & mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering (Emma Ruth Rundle, Southern Lord Records, Power Trip, Mizmor), the album captures five tracks of intense & emotional progressive compositions, not limited by genre to create a tidal wave of sound; that shift in emotions, drowning you between sections of crushing blast beats and ear splitting vocals to blissful, atmospheric soundscapes that engulf you within them.

On first single ‘Coyotes’ vocalist Abi comments,

“THE ALBUM IS READY. You thought we were dead. At times, we thought we might be too, but we’re here, we’re (mostly) alive, and this is  COYOTES. It’s one of the first songs I wrote in Underdark and it’s about the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Mexico/US border. Hope you’re as stoked on it as we are.”

Listen to ‘Coyotes’ here:

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FORTÍÐ have released a fascinating new video for the elegiac track ‘Son of a Barren Land’ as the third single taken from the Icelandic pagan metal duo’s forthcoming highly acclaimed sixth album, "World Serpent", which has been scheduled for release on December 11th.

Watch the video here:

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Panurus Productions – 4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Although August is the peak of the British summer, its end often seems to mark a sharp shift into Autumn; less a transition than a rapid cut. It’s a trick of the mind and a distortion of memory, of course, but summers always seemed longer and hotter in childhood; the realisation that what once felt like an infinite expanse of time which was free to fill or squander at will is, in fact, but a heartbeat in a life is a source of deep anguish. There is never enough time. No-one ever lay on their death-bed lamenting that they wished they’d spent more time watching repeats of Bargain Hunt or Homes Under the Hammer or whatever, no-one complains that they read to many books or spent too much time living their life, do they? The torment of a constant awareness of the passage of time is self-sabotaging, as the paralysis of panic grips hard. And pitched as ‘a screaming elegy for lost moments and isolation’, this is precisely what Centuries of August, which takes its title from a line from a poem by the solitary and reclusive Emily Dickinson, articulates.

If everything seems to be dominated by themes of isolation and derangement in 2020, then perhaps that’s because the magnitude of the events – or non-events – we’re living though exit on a scale that is truly all-consuming. Even the most introverted and reclusive are finding the isolation difficult to deal with: there’s a world of difference from choosing not to go out and see people, and not having the choice, especially as for many, music events provide a safe space where it’s possible to feel included and among people without the need for the kind of forced interaction that’s part and parcel of the workplace, and where it’s possible to experience a sense of community and collectivism without conforming to the less comfortable social conventions.

2020 has revealed new shades of darkness, and Centuries of August expresses anxiety, panic, rage, fear, isolation, in every one of those shades – as long as it’s black.

It’s a low, ominous synth drone that brings fear chords like creeping mist in a graveyard that marks the stealthy arrival of ‘Ripe for Solitude, Exhausted by Life’ – before all hues of murky black metal hell break loose. It’s a thunderous tempest of the darkest, densest noise, pounding hard and fast, before eventually dissipating once more into to quiet clouds of synth.

‘The Breezes Bought by Dejected Lutes’ is by no means the Elizabethan romantic piece the title suggests, but a savage blast of bleak and brutal mid-range sludge. There are drums, guitars, and vocals in the mix somewhere, but everything is a grimy blur and it’s impossible to identify anything distinctly.

Quavering dark ambience cast shadowy shades of gloom over the opening moments of ‘This Lamentable Autumn’; a picked lead guitar line adds a rich, brooding atmosphere, and then there’s everything else, coughed up from the very bowels of hell, a swirling sonic fog that goes beyond pea soup to the consistency of treacle, and wading through the barren soundscape for sic and a half minutes almost precisely recreates the experience of the last eight months in sound, before eight-minute closer ‘Under the Lowering Sky’ bulldozes in with cranium-crushing density.

That Centuries of August takes the lo-fi production values of the genre to its more extreme limits is integral to its appeal: the fact it’s so murky as to border on the frustrating is a source of power here, accentuating the oppressive density of the compositions to a level of intensity that hurts. But it’s the kind of pain that’s the perfect mirror, reflecting the conflicting nature of time, amplified by the anguish of living in the now.

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IMHA TARIKA unleash the first track taken from their forthcoming sophomore full-length Sternenberster, which marks the Germans’ debut on Prophecy Produktion black metal sub-label Lupus Lounge. The album has been slated for release on December 11th.

The fierce single ‘Brand am Firmament’ (‘Celestial Blaze’) can be heard here:

Kerem Yilmaz aka Ruhsuz Cellât comments: "Our song ‘Brand am Firmament’ deals with the final overcoming of the aggressor that resides in your heart and pulls you down into the depths of loss time and again", explains IMHA TARIKAT’s mastermind. "How often will you allow yourself to relive failure and misery? How long will you continue to let it tear you apart while a vicious joy grows out of your futile efforts to fight this? The root of this suffering hides in places where only darkness lurks. ‘Brand am Firmament’ is a vision of a failed cause that flickers with lucid disappointment. Annihilate it! Mature and grow through this war of passion!"
On further news, Lupus Lounge will also make IMHA TARIKAT’s early works available again. Parallel to the release of Sternenberster on December 11th, they will hit the stores under the combined title "Kara Ihlas / Kenoboros  – Initiation of Passion Bursting".

Hellripper have released a new single and the title track from their forthcoming album entitled “The Affair Of The Poisons”.

Having revealed the theme of the album through the release of “Spectres of the Blood Moon Sabbath” and their last single “Vampire’s Grave”, based on true life events from Glasgow in 1954,  Hellripper continues to explore the historical dark & insidious underworld of witchcraft and the occult.

James MacBain explains the inspiration for ‘The Affair Of The Poisons’ “the song takes inspiration from a series of events that occurred in 17th Century France. Possession, witchcraft, child sacrifice & poisonings were at the heart of a large-scale investigation conducted during the reign of the Sun King (Louis XIV) after an extensive plot was unearthed within the court of Versailles, targeting members of the aristocracy and the King himself in order to gain power and influence; the scandal exploded when it was revealed that the royal favourite herself was partaking in black masses and had allegedly poisoned a younger rival to win back the King’s favour.

Listen to ‘The Affair of the Poisons’ here:

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Cruel Nature – CN133

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s not often demo tapes get a ‘proper’ release. Then again, it’s not often you actually get demo tapes these days: cassettes may be making something of a comeback on the underground, but you’re more likely to get a demo recorded on mobiles with the tracks assembled using some smart software than on a four track. I remember my old Fostex X-18 seeming incredibly compact back in ’92. Less true of the X55, but with its double-speed spooling and advanced mixing capability, it was more like having a proper studio on your desk. How times have changed.

But when it comes to black metal, low-grade production is integral to the aesthetic. It’s supposed to be impenetrably murky, the songs emerging from a booming condenser mic recording overloaded with volume, crackle, and hiss.

I was fortunate to catch Petrine Cross virtually live at a Heinous Whining streaming event the other week, and it was devastating: I was blown away by the dark intensity of the performance, and this release confirm this was no one-off or a case of me being carried away with too many cans in my atempt to recreate the gig experience at home.

A solo project for Esmé Louise Newman of emotionally-charged black metal duo Penance Stare (and her resumé is pretty impressive too), Petrine Cross is pitched as ‘Thought-provoking raw ambient black metal, inspired through solitude and literature, that hits hard in all its oppressive glory.’

‘Charred Skirts and Deathmask’ could be read one of a number of was, but it begins with a soft-edged undulating drone, which continues throughout its eight-plus-minute duration beneath a crushing deluge of punishing guitar noise. There are no discernible chords, no clear structure, just a full-on deluge of sludge. There are some vocals in there somewhere, too, I think. I don’t need the details, and that’s perhaps as well, as they’re obfuscated by a dense wall of undifferentiated sound that’s all in the mid and lower ranges.

I’m listening by candlelight and screen glare, and it seems appropriate as the snarling blast of ‘I Beneath a Rougher Sea’ tears from the speakers, a muffled, murky blast of a cyclical chord sequence, overloading with distortion. It takes some time for any form to emerge from the searing sonic wall, and when it does, it’s vague, melting in its blisteringly intense grind.

The recordings may be primitive, but I’m not sure they would necessarily benefit from a more luxurious, layered studio treatment. The context is key: this is black metal – albeit in a stripped-back, ambient form – and doesn’t require polish. These recordings are cavernously dark and dredge the depths of the soul. Search deep.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Much as I think the live stream shows that have become a thing during lockdown are a great way for bands to stay connected with their fans when tours have been cancelled, and artists and fans alike are frustrated and apart, I’ve struggled to get into them as an experience.

Discussing this with a gig-mate, I explained that I’d tried a few guitar bands doing streams from bedrooms , and found the experience of just one or two band members doing acoustic stuff and chatting a fair bit in between may create a certain sense of an intimate setting, but lacks the multisensory aspects, as well as the impact of music at gig volume.

‘I did do a couple early on’, my friend replied, adding ‘It’s not really what I want. I want to go to a gig.’

It struck me that that was it, in a nutshell. A stream is not a gig. TV, radio, YouTube, a live album… is not a gig. It’s like arguing that a Kindle is like a book. It may well be, but it isn’t, and the things it lacks are the reason it will never be a convincing or authentic sensory substitute. When it comes to live music, the cliché ‘you had to be there’ is ineffable. Yes. You do actually have to be there.

Nevertheless, with friends whose music I’m into on tonight’s lineup, I decided to invest a little more in recreating the live experience, starting with a pre-gig pint, which I texted pictures of to various people. Being a warm night, I didn’t put the heating up, but I did draw the blind and shut the door to my office, and put the display full screen (The streaming chat is irritating and detracts from both the music and the visuals, however sparse) and cranked the speakers up, and sat back to witness low rumblings and slow-decaying chimes that marked the start of Möbius’ set. The visuals consist of a dark background and shining points of yellow-white light. Wordless dual vocals ring out and resonate against one another, generating a subtle power, somewhere between Gregorian chanting and Jarboe at her most ethereal. The drones grow denser, louder, the effect of a single note sustained for an eternity increases as time passes: my body hums at the same frequency for a time, before the resonant echoes are gradually swallowed in a swell of distortion. Chances are, if played at the same volume, a recording would have the same effect, but it’s an immersive set nevertheless.

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Möbius

Between-acts, there’s some obscure noise mix streaming, and Plan Pony is up next, blasting out speaker-mangling low-end distortion. If the noise is impressive, it’s matched by polarised visuals. Manipulating blasts of harsh guitar sampled in real-time and thrashed through an immense table fill of effects, the output is a sonic blitzkrieg. The quiet passages don’t translate quite as well, partly because my neighbour’s got a mate round and they’ve got the radio on in her back yard, but some snarled-up samples and snippets of music emerge from the grumbling electronics as he twiddles knobs, before long building again to a shattering wall of harsh noise.

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Plan Pony

Zad Kokar takes things to next-level wtf, with bewilderingly nightmarish visuals that ae probably best described as max Headroom on acid, accompanying a blizzard of audio mashup that’s like early Prodigy in collision with early cabaret Voltaire. Both on acid. Diverting from the in-yer-face mental shit, we’ve got Clean Wipe, a guy in shorts stroking a doorframe while tweaking knobs on effects pedals at a circular kitchen table while the background changes colour constantly. It takes me an age to realise there must be contact mics on the door frame, and I can’t decide if I need more beer or I’ve had too much already.

It’s been a strong start, and TCH, on at number 4, take the mood and volume down a bit, but in a good way. The noise is dark and dingy, and reflects the setting in which we see a hooded figured tweaking minimal kit in a small, mildew-stained room. It’s more like watching a documentary on heroin withdrawal than a musical performance.

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TCH

I clock 61 viewers, which is probably about the capacity of CHUNK, and the nights thy host are usually BYOB, so cracking a can of ALDI’s The Hop Stepper that I fetched from downstairs between acts seems consistent with being there.

Petrine Cross is Esmé of Penance Stare doing one-woman black metal at a million decibels. The set’s an ear-shattering mess of noise and distortion and visually, it’s stark, dark and black and white. The sound is overloaded, borderline unlistenable, but that’s likely intentional, and it’s clear some effort’s gone into this. Each song has its title on-screen at the start, there’s a plug for a charity compilation (again, on-screen text means no need for awkward chat) and songs are intercut with footage of the cat. It’s belting. And her room as some nice cornice work.

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Petrine Cross

It’s a distorted dictaphone tape recording – a fractured ranted monologue about life in isolation under lockdown – that provides the material for Duncan Harrison’s set. It captures the mental tension of the moment so well, it’s uncomfortable listening. It’s followed by Energy Destroyer’s barrage of noise accompanied by video footage of him swinging either nunchucks or lengths of rubber in his back garden, and it’s the bodywarmer that makes it.

It’s disorientating watching the back of a performer’s head as they play and seeing them again on the PC monitor before them, with the whole scene framed by leaves and soundtracked by birdsong and incidental rumblings. But this is what we get from Garden Magik, whose set evolves gradually into a digital storm. At some point in the gale-force distortion, I realise my mind isn’t entirely on the set, but then, in a live setting, I would have likely enjoyed the sonic experience but found my mind wandering to maters of work and other stuff – and that’s no criticism. Under lockdown, in my office, it’s even easier to become distracted by text messages and FaceBook.

Content’s ‘If Hard Work Pay Show Me Rich Donkey’ leaps out as a feature of the between-act PA tunage before Sadistic Statistic, who give us more garden footage and a full-on Merzbow blast of obliterative sonic carnage. The images of cats are unrepresentative: the melting digitisations less so: at times, it sounds like it looks: brain-shredding, difficult, and impossible to pin down. Harsh is the new norm here: this is one of those sets that leaves you feeling utterly wrung out by the time the last sparking crackle fades.

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Sadistic Statistic

Stuart Chalmers takes us on a mesmerising tour of a cave, before Otherworld bring gloopy, cracking electronics accompanied by swirling pixelated patterns that aren’t exactly easy on the retinas. It’s low-level noise that’s centred around slow-, hypnotic pulsations. It’s pitch-black in the room now bar the screen and I’m staring fixedly at the shifting shapes as the sound ripple around me, and the experience is quite gig-like until Mrs N returns an extension lead, which isn’t quite the same as being handed a final pint before the train.

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Otherworld

In terms of lineup and performances, this was a hell of a night. It would, unquestionably, have been infinitely better to have witnessed it in person, surrounded by other people also witnessing it in person: atmosphere is interaction, but also an unspoken feeling that passes between people in a room. Virtual claps posted on a chat stream simply cannot replace real time reactions. But, while it’s the best we’ve got, it’ll have to do. What I took from tonight is that some genres seems better equipped to operate differently, and experimental electronic odd shit, with its propensity for visuals and playing in darkness, seems to have less work to do to adapt than conventional rock formats, making this the closest to the live experience I’ve yet witnessed. And yes, I had a blast. And made it home with no problems, too.