Posts Tagged ‘black metal’

Having been away from the recording studios for nearly seven years, Melbourne-based black-metal collective Thrall appeared to be relegated to the fate of “cult act”, especially considering they vanished after releasing their most accomplished and critically lauded album Aokigahara Jukai.

Back with an enlivened recorded line-up that features members of Gatecreeper, Noose Rot, ex-Extinct Exist, Förfalla, Slothferatu, ex-Ruins, Mar Mortuum and Myotragus, the group picks up where they left off, merging some primeval and heinous black metal, with a ferocious thrash metal attack, a raucous crust and miserable doom atmosphere.

Ripping, engaging, and despairing, new album Schisms shows a vast number of guests joining Thrall in studio and hopefully will cement Thrall position as one of most interesting and creative bands from the current Australian extreme metal scene.

Listen to ‘Tyrant’ here:

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Behold! I Am The Night release a new music video from their debut album released this coming May on Svart Records.

The new band featuring Finnish metal scene legends opens an ancient chasm of Black Metal, born of an epic tradition.

Rising from the deep valleys of Kymi in southernmost Finland, I Am The Night is Black Metal rooted in the classic early 90’s tradition, where walls of guitars and synthesizers raise the forces of darkness in a battle against the heavens and burning angels light up the night sky.

The band’s debut full length album, with cover art by scene legend Necrolord, bears the title While The Gods Are Sleeping and shall be released on May 6th, 2022. The record was birthed during the heaviest blizzard Finland had seen in years in the winter of 2021, with the band holed up at the Soundspiral Audio studio during the height of the pandemic.” On new single, ‘I Am The Night’ the band comment,

”We had a certain 90’s video in our mind when we gave Jari Heino instructions to create this one. This is his modern take on that classic, and the way we wanted it to look. The song itself is a swing of a morning star to one’s head. Aggressive and harsh, but still the melodic aspects can be found. Listen and wander into the night.”

Watch the video now:

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Swedish black metallers Grafvitnir are back from the shadows with their eighth opus, titled Tunes of Sitra Ahra.

Venomous incantations accompanied by haunting riffs and eerie melodies with a touch of Nordic melancholy and coldness.

Eight tracks capturing the ferocious wrath of a people betrayed and the essence of the dark liberator of illumination.

Album is scheduled for its CD and digital releases on 29 April 2022 via Carnal Records.

Listen to the album’s first track, ‘Demon Wolf’ here:

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Sacred Son return in 2022 with a new album, The Foul Deth of Engelond; a black metal chronicle of the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt. Weaving historical record with speculative inversion, the album recounts this fierce and tragic Great Uprising as a proto-revolutionary moment in English history that echoes loudly into our own toxic and fragmented present. The story is presented as inspiration and allegory, with principal songwriter, Dane Cross, describing it as his ode to righteous leftwing political violence.

The Foul Deth of Engelond marks a return to the expansive sound of their debut, whilst continuing the move away from the one-person insularity that began with the sophomore effort. The road-tested four-piece band was recorded in the cold dark winter of 2020 by tube-amp maestro Chris Fullard (Ulver, Sunn O)))), Boris) at the analogue-focused Holy Mountain Studios in London. These sessions were then mixed by Randall Dunn (Wolves in the Throne Room, Earth, Kayo Dot) at his Circular Ruin studio in NYC, resulting in a rich, physical, and enveloping sound of textural layered guitar, propulsive rhythms, caustic voices, and Dunn’s signature spirit-conjuring atmospheres.

Sacred Son have also shared first single, ‘Le Blakheth’ with Dane commenting, “‘Le Blakheth’ is the third track from Sacred Son’s new album The Foul Deth of Engelond. It chronicles the bloodiest and most violent chapter of the 1381 Great Rising; when corrupt and sycophantic ruling figures were beaten and beheaded whilst their obscenely lavish buildings burned around them.”

Listen now:

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Tartarus Records – 25 February 2022

James Wells

Dark Worship came together in what they describe as ‘the bleak and unsettling landscape of the post-industrial American Midwest’ and is less of a band and more of a collective of musicians from various bands, co-ordinated by J. Meyers (Axioma, Aureae Crucis). They pitch their sound as dark, and it is, but this is a different kind of dark: Flesh of a Saint has the murky lo-fi production values of black metal, which serves the bleak atmospherics well, but it’s not metal, and nor is it dark ambient or tethered to any specific or clear genre.

The two-and-a-half-minute shock of ‘We’ve Always Been Here’ begins as an ominous drone before erupting into swampy grunge spewed from Satan’s sphincter: there’s a nagging guitar riff half-submerged in the mix, and a thudding kick drum stammering out a beat that’s on the brink of a panic attack, and it only gets dingier from hereon in.

There may only be six tracks with a total running time of just over twenty minutes, but over its duration, Dark Worship live up to their name: punishing percussion hammers and clatters before giving way to doomy, funeral synth drones to provide the backing to harsh, shouted vocals on ‘Culling Song’, and it evokes the mangled noise of Prurient. It’s heavy listening. ‘Hollow Body’ brings a rasping vocal, the empty rasp of the walking dead, grating from a purgatorial pit shaped by a pulsating low-end throb.

If the final ‘Well of Light’ sounds redemptive, the light at the end of the tunnel, think again: it’s more like being sucked into the vortex after the last drops of energy have been sapped from your limbs and you hang, lifeless, waiting for the end. Oblivion can’t come too soon. Worship the dark.

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28th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

So I’ve been bigging up OMNIBAEL from the outset – not because I’m acquainted – that cuts no ice with me as a critic, and if I don’t dig the music, I’m not going to back it for anything – but because I really rate what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is… well, they’re not entirely sure. OMNIBAEL are on a voyage of discovery, and they’re inviting you – and me – and all of us – along for the ride. They have no idea where it’s headed or where it will end, and that’s a large part of the appeal. So much supposedly ‘experimental’ music is scripted and scored. Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie is an experiment within a long-term experiment.

Each release to date has been a document of an evolution, and their debut album roper is no exception. Twittering feedback gives way to ripping riffage that’s distorted to fuck on opener ‘Mind is a Mess’ that’s the gnarliest of black metal melted into the darkest pits of burning torture, a missive from a purgatorial inferno.

I may have written on this album elsewhere, including some abstract liner notes that capture its essence, but I haven’t previously reflected in detail on the listening experience. It’s not pleasant, but it is intense, and it is, in the same way as it is with listening to Uniform, or The Body, a full-on body slam. It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, and it’s a physical experience – one that’s like taking a kicking from a gang. Drums hammer in like boots reining in on the ribcage, and there’s absolutely no fucking mercy across the album’s nine tracks.

The churning murk of the eight-plus minute ‘Last Days’ is pure Throbbing Gristle, and this is dark, gnarly, nasty. ‘The Repetition’ starts with a mess of overlayed tape loops that’s very much reminiscent of the Burroughs / Gysin tape loops that so influenced Cabaret Voltaire in the early days, and after a moment of crackling electronica that strays into Whitehouse / Merzbow territory, it plunges deep into torturous melting industrial metal, a dingy mess so dark and so charred as to be corrosive to the organs. It ccu88ulminates in punishing screeds of howling feedback atop thunderous percussion that hammers like thunder. There are some deeply fucked-up vocals low-down in the mix, too.

It’s not pleasant, and listening to this breeds tension upon tension, you feel your muscles tense and your head grow tight at the temples and the back of the cranium. If the dank and gloomy ethereal ambience of ‘Rung Keep’ evokes swimming underwater, it equally feels like the soundtrack to drowning slowly, and there really are no breaks on this album: despite its sonic and textural variety, it’s heavy all the way. ‘Sound of the WW2 Story’ may be a brief interlude with some soft ambience akin to the swafting of a jellyfish, but it’s still dense, tense, and oppressive, and offers but two minutes breathing before the thundering punishment of ‘Flowering backwards’, which callas to mind Swans circa 1986 and early Godflesh in dub form. The volume, the power, the force, all combine to create something utterly cruising.

Listening to Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie is hard. It’s a brutal nihilism I’ve been craving and welcome unreservedly; it articulates the fact that life is pain. But the pain is without letup. Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie is uncomfortable, painful, and very, very necessary.

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Cleopatra Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, this is pretty fucking intense. Released to promote the duo’s new album, ‘Hear My Call’ is a beast. The verses are queasy, ominous with a hushed, almost strangulated tension. In contrast, the choruses are utterly pulverizing in their weight and density: there’s nothing hushed about them, and the tension is released in a chthonic snarl. The vocal transition is remarkable, as Lilith gears down an octave at least and flicks from anguished to a raging demon spewing toxic flames from the very bowels of hell. The crossover between electronica and black metal is almost schizophrenic, but Luna 13 render it in such a way that it’s perfect, that switch that happens at an imperceptible trigger lands with eye-popping precision, and the video, directed by Vicente Cordero (Stabbing Westward, Filter, 3TEETH) is a magnificent visual reflection of the music.

For a start, there’s splattered gore galore, as Lilith Bathory sloshes around in a bathtub that’s initially brimming with rose petals but before long it’s a streaming splatterfest where said tub is brimming with blood. She twitchily dials the telephone… and it transpires she’s not calling The Samaritans, but instead she connects on a hotline to Satan, and it cuts, and she’s a roaring, horned demon, and to the side, Dr Luna yanks a huge phallic lever that seemingly drives this whole whorl of chaos that’s blackened beyond black, the sound of scorching incineration.

A lot of so-called ‘occult’ and ‘Satanic’ shit is – well, shit – corny, half-baked, a bit laughable, at least to anyone not already invested, and you wonder how people take so many of these bands seriously. Not so Luna 13: this shit is truly terrifying. There’s no denying that some off the elements are perhaps cliché; masks, blood, and so on and so forth, but it’s all in the execution. Sonically, and visually, they’re full-on, and fearsome.

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6th January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Like so many IKEA item names, Swedish black metal act Rimfrost’s moniker is one which has the capacity to raise a smirk and a snicker for English speakers. I know, I know, it’s juvenile, chuckling to myself about cold cock and chilly willy, and there‘s nothing particularly comical about this release. But as ever with black metal, there’s an element of high theatre that’s only as serious as you take it. Or, put another way, an element of theatre that can only be taken as seriously as it’s pitched. Venom’s Black Metal may have defined the genre, but ultimately, it was no more than an underproduced collision of punk with Motorhead (who arguably blended punk and metal with shedloads of speed).

The corpse-paint wearing black metallers split in 2019, but reconvened in the Autumn of 2021, and unveiled the first fruits of their reunion in the form of ‘Killer Instinct’ in October. So to refer to The Rise of Evil: Killer Instinct as an EP feels a shade disingenuous, since it contains just two songs – the aforementioned ‘Killer Instinct’ plus ‘The Rise of Evil’ make up a single that form a narrative that, as they explain ‘depicts the story of a killer’. In that sense, I’m reminded of the debut single by iLiKETRAiNS, on which the two parts of ‘As The Curtains Close’ tell of a stalker with murderous intent.

Rimfrost’s release is a lot less brooding and considerably less sinister. ‘The Rise of Evil’ is fast and furious, staccato guitars nailed to a frenetic drum driving the headbanging behemoth slog without pause, and it’s heavy alright, but there’s also some musicianship on display here.

‘Killer Instinct’ is less black in its metal persuasion and altogether more heavy metal, with histrionic guitars and a crisp production, with an overall feel – aside from Hravn’s growling, deep-throated vocal snarlings – that’s more Iron Maiden than Immortal, more Saxon than Satyricon. It’s the sound of spandex more than of souls being crushed.

Sure, genres evolve, and rightly so, but this cleanly-produced fretwork frenzy is a far cry from Bathory or even subsequent Swedish exponents of black metal like Dissection, although the theatrical element is perhaps more in common. While it’s serious music, I’m not certain that they’re entirely serious. The result, then, is ok, but rather cozy if you’re on the market for something more purely black or simply something that’s spine-crunchingly strong.

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Cruel Nature Records – 3rd December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Cruel Nature’s release schedule for December is heavily snake-orientated, with Cavesnake’s eponymous album emerging on the same day as Mitternacht’s The Snake, although the two serpents are very different beasts.

For Cavesnake, the bio informs us that ‘Oxgoat and Sikander Louse came together through a shared love of ugly, blown out Black Metal, achingly beautiful ambient soundscapes, and deep space horror’, and that ‘They use the interstitial zone of Cavesnake to explore themes of loss, emptiness, ontological insecurity and the righteous acceptance of the impending apocalypse.’

It’s seriously fucking dark from the opening, with creeping fear chords and dark ambience drifting slowly across the horizon.

Cavesnake record straight to tape and through a rigorous process of layering, drenching samples in reverb, re-amping guitar drones through monstrous cabinets, they force their music to hang listlessly in a void space akin to an event horizon. And dark it is: ‘Pseudohalo’ may only be four minutes in duration, but it’s a bleak and oppressive opener, although it’s nothing to the whiplash black metal mudslide of ‘Bloodless Weapon’. This is murky, dark, heavy. It growls and grinds and churns and burns, and shrieks howling screeds of sonic lesions, an aural excoriation that scrapes and drones for almost nine minutes.

The ten-minute ‘Posture in Defeat’ is a swirling back hole, a deep, dark eddy of slow collapse, the pretty mid-frequency glimmers rent by earth-shattering sonic donations like planets colliding, while ‘Vipers Dance’ which stretches and twists a full twelve minutes is serpentine, dark, ominous, bleak. Without an explicit context, it’s for the listener to place and utilise this listening experience to suit their experiences, and for the most part, for me, I find myself nervous, anxious, uncertain, as every composition is dark, oppressive, the sound of impending doom. It’s thick, swirling, a dense swirling vortex of airlessness from which there seems to bee no escape as it envelopes your entire being. You simply cannot breathe; all you want to do is breathe. The snake is constricting now, your ribs and lungs are tight. Please…

The final track, ‘Fleshware’, offers no respite, a churning grind and whisper or multi-layered noise that offers no breaks, no moments of calm, only increased tension. It scrapes and screeds and snarls and growls, and near the end, a distorted, impenetrable voice speaks, rasping the album to a close.

It’s pretty heavy, and so intense. Prepare to be bitten.

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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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