Today is a special day for those of us that appreciate the more eclectic side that black metal has to offer. Yes, we are fortunate bastards indeed. Why? Because a triptych of exquisite Dutch magic has just dropped through killer labels Haeresis Noviomagi and Eisenwald Tonschmiede; Iskandr‘s Euprosopon, Solar Temple‘s Fertile Descent, and the stunning conceptual split from Fluisteraars / Turia entitled De Oord.
The astonishing thing about this is that all three releases are likely to end up somewhere on the BMD end of year lists. Quite the feat, and one that seems all the more remarkable when you realise that all three projects, although each with their own unique properties, are connected by two Dutch men: The enigmatic M (Solar Temple, Fluisteraars) and O (Iskandr, Solar Temple, Turia).
As previously mentioned all three of these are releasing through a stunning dyad of labels, too: purveyor of subterranean gems (and the Dutch collective under which these projects all create their art) Haeresis Noviomagi is handling the tapes, whilst the esteemed Eisenwald Tonschmiede is taking care of CD and vinyl. If you want to snap up a copy of these I’d jump on it post-haste as these are sure to go soon; so without further unnecessary words, let us take a quick look at this triumvirate of glory. Hails.
First up is Solar Temple‘s transcendental debut album Fertile Descent. Building on the promise shown by their 2017 demo and transforming into something from a higher plane, over the course of two lengthy experimental tracks the duo of M and O go to places you probably wouldn’t be expecting. Or, given the location of it’s members, perhaps you would.
Clean, almost chanted vocals accentuate an esoteric, uniquely atmospheric and somewhat indescribable vibe that (typical of so many luminary acts in the Dutch scene) hurls the rule book right out the window and seems to borrow as much from old psyche-rock or Swans-esque madness as it does surging, smouldering black metal. With trancelike, mind-expanding tendencies and a psychotomimetic production that only enhances the overall effect, you can easily listen to this on repeat for hours on end (and I have).
A superb debut. Do not miss.
Next up: the more traditional black flame of Iskandr‘s Euprosopon. Well, more traditional when compared to the other two releases covered here but this heathen slab of carved onyx glory still posesses enough progressive structure and noble blood to stand head and shoulders above most other black metal art released this year.
Seriously, pardon my verbosity and pretentious magniloquence but the sophomore album of main man O‘s solo project can only be described as some fucking stunning shit. Regnum alone is worth five times the price of admission, all the way from its ominous opening tones to the beautiful solemnity of the acoustic final movement, while the yearning surge and regal flow of Verban is borderline rapturous… and I won’t even mention the ultimate majesty of closer Heriwalt.
The album’s title apparently expresses “the impossibility of the ideal man”, but with Euprosopon, Iskandr have come dangerously close to the very real possibility of an ideal contemporary black metal album. Expect many end of year list appearances with this one.
Finally, we close this circle with the excellent conceptual split from Fluisteraars and Turia, De Oord. The rough translation of that name is “where two rivers meet”, which makes sense because each of the two projects has based their track upon a major river that flows through their respective hometowns; the Rhine for Fluisteraars, the Waal for Turia.
Fluisteraars take the lead and when the first drum groove and downpicked riff of offering Oeverloos first bursts from your speakers if you’ve just come from listening to Iskandr you could be forgiven for doing a double take to check that you hadn’t accidentally clicked on some alternative indie rock band or something. Although that’s a rather trite first impression and not meant to be taken entirely seriously, it does inform the rest of the track, to a degree; in interpreting the properties of their great river they have created the “brightest” thing they’ve ever done. Comparatively sunny melodies that invite relaxation and calm, a different vocal style than the norm… it’s certainly not what we’re used to from them, but as it unfolds over the almost 15 minute runtime it’s still undeniably enjoyable in every way.
Turia on the other hand, do what they do best with Aan Den Golven der Aarde Geofferd; summon a furious torrent of compelling black rage and awe. The track swirls and flows, one minute tense and the next a stream of rushing visceral consciousness, always in constant motion until the reflective and overwhelming emotional collapse of the conclusion. After their earlier split with Vilkacis, have Turia pulled off an astounding coup and taken part in yet another of the top splits of the year? The answer can only be a resounding yes.
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