Wolfspell Records – ‘Autumnal Equinox’ Label Spotlight

The excellent people behind Polish label Wolfspell Records‘ star has been on the rise of late, with seemingly everything they put their seal on being of the utmost quality for those among us whose souls are enraptured by the more atmospheric-leaning variations of this multifarious sub-genre we all know and love. With a firm belief in championing the underground, they consistently emit a steady stream of gems dug up from across the globe and seeing as they have a bunch of new esoteric conjurations materialising tomorrow (23rd September) in celebration of the Autumnal Equinox, I thought I’d collate all the ones that have landed in the BMD inbox into a quick but well-deserved Label Spotlight. So heed the lupine call of the moon, prepare thy wallet for a traumatic experience and dive headlong into the raging flame and shimmering, ethereal beauty below. Hails.

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Artist: Höstblod

Kicking things off we have one of the more astonishing debuts I’ve heard in recent memory, and one that should also be very familiar to regular readers. Swedish one man project Höstblod dropped Mörkrets Intåg a few months ago on vinyl and digital, and now Wolfspell has stepped up to the plate to continue the Höstblod world domination with a CD release.

For those not yet in the know: this is a truly remarkable album. Created during the process of composer Johan‘s mother sadly passing of dementia, the textures and moods on display here are nothing short of breathtaking as he weaves searing black metal, neofolk, ambient pieces and much more into something truly unique and utterly personal. He isn’t making this music for you. He’s making it solely for himself, and you as the listener are privileged to be able to bear witness.

For a deeper look at the album and to hear Johan himself speak about it you can read our interview with him here. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, spend some quiet time with Mörkrets Intåg. You won’t regret it.

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Artist: Graveborne

Next, some black destruction based on the Finnish Civil War of 1918. Basically veterans of the scene by now, Graveborne have been summoning their blasphemic blitzkrieg for over ten years and if you think they’re going to give up the ghost in any way, shape or form; you’re sadly mistaken.

However, this is a slightly different Graveborne. Bursting from foul catafalque anew, here with third album 1918 they have a fresh purpose: to tell a story. Depicting the conflict in Finland 1918 when the country became an independent state seems to help them focus. The blasts are employed more sparingly (but still there, to devastating effect), the writing increasingly adventurous yet tighter and nuanced, the songs and the album itself more dynamic. It works well for them, instead of coming off as a second wave worship act they’re forging their own sound and knocking it out of the park. Oh and it’s probably their best production, too.

On 1918 the Graveborne cult have proven emphatically that their flame shows no signs of dimming anytime soon and they’re only going from creative strength to strength. Give it a listen. Total support. Hails.

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Artist: Mourning By Morning

Okay, I have to be honest: I was almost turned away by the name on this one (especially when I read “Mourning By Morning, by Mourning By Morning“… my brain is far too old and advanced into early-onset elderly-persons disease for that sort of shit). This, as it turns out, would have been a grave error as the one man project’s eponymous debut album is a wonderful blitz of surging, highly melodic atmospheric post-black goodness.

Sole member Sörjande has been toiling away for a couple of years now, releasing the odd track here and there, perfecting his craft. And go a long way towards perfecting it he has; you can tell he’s absolutely dying to get this release out there when you listen to the work and care that has gone into it. Blistering, well programmed drums and his hyper-melodic riffs offset against affecting, almost uplifting atmospherics; there’s a lot of variety here but no elements are just thrown together. Every note is carefully placed, nothing is wasted. The album as a whole is also quite artfully composed, building through a compelling journey until we reach the ultimate destination in final track Wintertide, a spectacular nine-minute piece worth the price of admission alone and one that also makes me wonder why he didn’t just name the entire album Wintertide. It’s seriously that good.

I usually don’t often find myself seeking out fare this pleasant to listen to, but I’m glad I heard this and I like it more each time I spin it. A definite grower and a great debut from a project that will only continue to improve.

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Artist: Daagh

Cold atmospherics from the frozen shores of Norway. Daagh originally released this debut five track EP (imaginatively titled ‘EP‘) back in March; this is another that Wolfspell has snapped up for a CD release, but this also has the good fortune of scoring a limited tape issue too.

I don’t know much about this project other than it consists of just one person; mystery surrounds it like the impenetrable mists and blizzards of the Nordic winter (as aptly depicted on the neat cover art). What it does clearly boast is a great, tempered sound with just the right amount of icy distortion, and killer unhurried songs that slowly emanate the strength needed to elevate this mournful fare to the frozen mountain peaks above, it’s a great EP but it really clicks at the halfway mark with the irrepressible riffs of 03 (the five tracks are all named numerically, 0105). From then it’s on a whole new level; one that you’ll want to immerse yourself in again and again.

Aside from Höstblod this may be my favourite of this Autumnal Equinox drop, I love this type of icy, morose Norwegian art. Top marks for a debut EP.

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Artist: Runeshard

As you could probably guess from the cover art alone, bombastic Hungarian project Runeshard plays over-the-top epic/power/black metal that tells tall tales of swordmasters and sorcerers exclusively.

Dreaming Spire, the debut EP from main man Bálint and his guest vocalist Alethiuz (of Zel Agganor), is… something else. I don’t listen to nearly enough power metal to make an accurate and informed comparison but this really does sound as if an epic black metal band joined forces with one of the more shred-happy power metal acts to write tracks inspired by video game soundtracks. It’s not poorly done either; as a few young projects that attempt high levels of fantasy drama can attest to it’s far too easy for something like this to collapse under the weight of its own cheese when the musical and technical ability of the artist is weak, but this soars high on the wings of dragons. This man knows how to conjure some ripping melodies, and holds it all together with dextrous ease.

Four tracks and an introduction create an electric and majestic experience that undoubtedly won’t be for everyone, but it is some serious fun, so drop that “kvlt-er than thou” facade, nerd-boy and give it a shot. I for one am keen to see what he can do with a full-length.

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Artist: Hermóðr

And last but by no means least, a compilation of two recent EP’s from Swedish solo project Hermóðr. I’m quietly pleased that this compilation CD is being released, as for me the Rovdjur and Northern Might EP’s represented Rafn‘s best work since Hädanfärd.

If you’re not familiar with the prolific project (I believe this to be his 36th release since 2012, give or take) and it’s Burzum-esque trance-inducing atmospheres then this is as good a place to start as any. The Rovdjur EP is a heavy dose of repeating melancholic vibes, swirling in beautiful depression; whilst Northern Might is similar but takes off in a different, more blackthrash direction (wait for it, trust me).

Remarkably consistent as he slowly tweaks his sound with each release while staying true to his core every time, if you’re in the mood for some natural, introspective atmospheric beauty you really can’t go wrong with Hermóðr. I’ll likely also be picking up a copy of this and he has shirts available too, for those so inclined.

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All releases available for order on 23rd September.

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Support Wolfspell Records:

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