LISTCRUSH – Part One: Splits and EPs

It’s that wonderful time of year: The time when every man and his dog has been splattering their ‘best of’ lists all over every available surface with joyous abandon. It’s also handy to find out if you’ve missed anything outstanding, as perusing lists from like-minded souls with similar tastes often yields overlooked gems. Last year I probably listened to more music than ever before and I still definitely would have missed plenty of gold standard releases; so, far from being comprehensive ‘best of’ lists here are BMD’s humble lists of superb black/blackened splits, EPs and albums that more people should hear and you should hunt down if you slept on. Some big names, some clandestine arts; my favourite shit from one of the most stacked years in recent memory, and every single one of these artists/releases I wholeheartedly recommend for your full attention. Part one: Splits and EPs. Enjoy.

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~~ TOP 10 SPLITS ~~

10: GRAVEIR / MAR MORTUUM (Impure Sounds)

The first of three (!) all-Australian splits to make my top 10. An uneasy journey from Graveir knocks you around a bit before Mar Mortuum come through with absolute strength and astonishing quality. How neither of these bands are bigger than they are is beyond the limits of my comprehension. 

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9: PAYSAGE D’HIVER / DRUDKH (Season Of Mist)

A single lengthy piece of windswept hypnotic atmosphere from Paysage D’Hiver that’s still absolutely essential; the only thing that prevents this being higher up the list is Drudkh not meeting their usual lofty standards. Which means by average plebian standards, it’s still fucking great. Even sub-par Drudkh is excellent music.

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8: INTRINSIC LIGHT / EXPURGATORY (YNTPM)

Zen transcendence and blackened noise-rock experimentalism from the bowels of Melbourne, Australia. No other split intrigued me like this did; an almost indescribable experience. Those scared to stray far from the black metal blueprint need not apply.

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7: WHITEWURM / TRUE LOVE (Les Fleurs Du Mal Productions)

Two solo USBM artists combine for one of the most caustic double stabs of hate you’ll have heard last year. Everything starts off disgustingly well with Whiteworm (featuring guest vocals from Eric Baker, who I daresay will also pop up somewhere in part two) then descends even further into new depths of hell with True Love. This was actually how I discovered True Love, so I like this split even more for that. 

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6:  SUTEKH HEXEN / BLSPHM (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Yeah I’m cheating throwing a vinyl reissue in here, but the original release from years ago was ridiculously limited and barely anyone heard it, so fuck you, this counts in my book. Like listening to the destruction (Sutekh Hexen) and aftermath (BLSPHM) of the end of the world; strangely calming and terrifying all at once.

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5: SINMARA / MISÞYRMING (Terratur Posessions, Vánagandr)

The Icelandic masters knock it out of the park on both sides. Sinmara‘s track ‘Ivory Stone’ is somehow even better than anything on ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’, which is saying something.

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4: HOWLS OF EBB / KHTHONIIK CERVIIKS (I, Voidhanger Records, Iron Bonehead Productions)

Khthoniik Cerviiks and Howls of Ebb try to outdo each other for pure black death avant-garde psychic obliteration. Utterly batshit.

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3: ABIGOR / NIGHTBRINGER / THY DARKENED SHADE / MORTUUS (Self Released)

Four great artists, four tracks that blend seamlessly into a mesmerising and magickal whole, one stunning split. Reverential. Immerse thyself.

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2: CONVULSING / SIBERIAN HELL SOUNDS (Art As Catharsis, WOOAAARGH)

Sheer masterful carnage. I still haven’t wrapped my head completely around these twin Australian black holes, and it’s been out for a month. It’s also another one that introduced me to one of the artists; I fucking love Convulsing and am forever grateful to Brendan for finally making me check out Siberian Hell Sounds through this release. Be warned: this will consume you from the inside out.

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1: BLOOD TYRANT / DEPARTURE CHANDELIER (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Unequivocal and irrefutable split of the year. Raw vampyric elitist art from Dutch duo Blood Tyrant, and the triumphant return after six years of Canadians Departure Chandelier. It may only be a single track from each (and a short intro) but I can easily flip the 7″ over and over and listen on repeat for hours, and have done so many times. Near perfection.

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Near Misses: Sutekh Hexen / Hissing, Funeral Moon / Hordes of the Black Cross, Thy Darkened Shade / Chaos Invocation.

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~~ TOP 10 EP’S ~~

10: HEXIS – XII (Self Released)

The unstoppable Dutch blackened hardcore pulverisers somehow topped ‘Tando Ashanti’ from earlier in the year with this. I’m still mightily pissed I missed them when they came through my area last year too. Brutal.

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9: HIMELVARUWE – ‘Gewrocht’ (The Throat)

I could have easily put Dutch enigma T‘s  other raw demo for this project (‘CCIII’) up here, or his release from the also-stunning Kaffaljidhma; but this captivated me from the minute I heard it. How does he do it? Beats me, but I hope he never stops.

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8: MALEFIC LEVITATION – ‘The Ancient Plague’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, Dawnbreed Records)

This came in relatively late but I’ve been playing the shit out of it. In a great year for war metal, these US berzerkers blew me away. Ultimate destruction; more please, stat.

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7: AVERSIO HUMANITATIS – ‘Longing For The Untold’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, BlackSeed Productions)

“This is an EP that will pull your skin off slowly to force you to see what’s underneath, directing your gaze both inwards and outwards.” 

I said that in the intro piece for when I interviewed them earlier in the year and it’s still a perfect description of their nihilistic, transcendent black/death assault to me. Need a new full-length from these demons. 

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6: LORN – ‘Arrayed Claws’ (I, Voidhanger Records)

I’ve been communicating sporadically with Radok of Italians Lorn for almost a year now in regards to an interview; he’s a fascinating person. Perhaps one day it will eventuate, but in the meantime let the intricate, silvery ‘Arrayed Claws’ sink needle-like into your brain. Unique and unsettling; this project just gets better and better with each release.

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5: SINMARA – ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’ (Oration, Terratur Possessions)

Intricate, deeply melodic in its bleakness and utterly captivating in the tale it tells, this wrapped its rich tapestries around me and didn’t let go for some time. Bodes extremely well for the upcoming full-length.

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4: GNIPAHÅLAN – ‘I Blodets Kamp…’ (Ancient Records, Mysticism Productions)

I would have put the Swedes excellent self-titled full length in the top albums list but that originally came out in 2016 despite the ’17 vinyl release, so luckily this EP more than makes up for that omission. Raw black with perfect atmospheric clarity; listen deeply.

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3: VOIDSPHERE – ‘To Call | To Speak’ (Fallen Empire Records, Amor Fati Productions)

I said in the last Bandcamp Misanthropy this was one of the greatest EPs to drop last year and it easily would have been the greatest if the next two on the list hadn’t been released. The production gets me every time. Pure void worship. I need to pick this up on vinyl.

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2: THANTIFAXATH – ‘Void Masquerading As Matter’ (Dark Descent Records)

The first time I heard ‘Cursed Numbers’, my reaction was simply: Wow. The Canadian trio could have released that track as a single and I still would have put it somewhere on this list; add the rest of the EP and you’ve almost taken top spot. Follows up ‘Sacred White Noise’ in the best way possible. Stunning. 

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1: SKÁPHE – ‘Untitled’ (Mystískaos) 

I feel like many have forgotten about this outstanding single track EP, the third release from the duo of Alex Poole (another name that may pop up in part two) and D.G of Martröð, Misþyrming and Naðra. Black metal to me is all about feeling; this makes me feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare hell trip through the worst kind of hallucinatory psychosis. Easily the best of the year. Yeah DMT and LSD are cool, but have you tried Skáphe?

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Near Misses: Serpent Column – ‘Ornuthi Thalassa’, SVRM – anything he released last year, Kaffaljidhma – ‘IV’, Rür – ‘Rür’, Somnium Nox – ‘Terra Inanis’, Abkehr – ‘In Asche’, Thy Sepulchral Moon – ‘Contemptuous Retaliation Storm’, Nordjevel – ‘Krigsmakt’, Endalok – ‘Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar’, Svartidauði – ‘Untitled’.

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And that’s Part One wrapped up, hope you found at least one new blackened delight to pleasure/annihilate your ears with. Let me know anything I’ve missed, should have heard, or just how terribly shit you think my listening tastes are in general and stay tuned for Part Two: Albums, coming soon. 

Hails to 2017.

– A.

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Get in early for 2018. Submissions welcomed.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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    Abandon All Hope – An Interview With Aversio Humanitatis

    “Transcend a fraudulent reality – 
    let fear and pain penetrate and go through 

    Deconstruct your being – 
    resign all perishable aspirations 

    Dissociation from all that surrounds you – 
    become an impassive entity 

    Accept your purpose in this world –
    you are here to destroy and suffer”

    – Aversio Humanitatis, “Advent of the Inescapable”

    ~

    Back in March, enigmatic Spanish nihilists Aversio Humanitatis released an unequivocal contender for EP of the year. Originally only available in their home country, ‘Longing for the Untold’ was their brand of subtly mind-bending black metal continuing its metamorphosis into a cavernous, devouring new form: a perfect sickening balance between abyssal, disassociative chaos and an undeniable physicality as if punishing you for simply existing. Now the wretchedness is unleashed ever further as it sees a full vinyl, CD and die-hard cassette release through both BlackSeed Productions and Sentient Ruin Laboratories; expanded with the three great dissonant and sonorous tracks from their 2013 ‘Three Ways of Conciousness’ split with Selbst and Nihil to boot. 

    We all know black metal has, by its very nature, always contained an element of the ‘anti’: anti-christian, anti-music, anti-trends, anti-life. Well, Aversio Humanitatis go one step beyond; you’ll understand when you listen. This is an EP that will pull your skin off slowly to force you to see what’s underneath, directing your gaze both inwards and outwards. I can’t get enough of it, I simply had to dive into the black infinity to make contact and find out more.

    So direct your senses towards the official video for the title track ‘Longing for the Untold’ to prepare yourself, and read on below for a glimpse of clarity in the maelstrom of terror and introspection that is Aversio Humanitatis.

    ~

    Hey guys, hope you are well. I’ve recently experienced your latest EP ‘Longing for the Untold’, a imposing release of progressive and powerful destruction. Given it’s been out for a few months now, are you happy with the reception it’s had?

    – Absolutely, ‘Longing for the Untold’ has been a great step forward in all aspects, what we have achieved with this work is better than anything we’ve done before and that’s been reciprocated in terms of recognition and popularity.

    The main EP itself is four tracks of punishing, cerebral despair and bleak agony. Can you shed a little light on the creative process behind such madness? Were there any specific inspirations that informed this release, or any particular challenges/influences that affected its writing/recording?

    – Well, the composition of this EP started after some important events and changes inside the band: a member in a new very complicated personal situation, another one having to move out of Spain, etc. Personally, being the main composer in the band, I wasn’t able to create a song during 2-3 years, until 2015 when I managed to gather enough riffs to complete ‘The Ever Shifting Path’ and later the rest of the songs during 2016. We wanted to make a full-length but as result of what I’ve said things were going too slow; so when we had those four songs finished, we felt that we had to record them and give a push to the band as soon as possible. To restart our work after some difficult times, wounded but stronger than before.

    Usually the composition process starts by me -S.D.- doing a fundamental structure of the songs with my guitar riffs; then I show them to the drummer -J.H.- who almost always suggests changes and contributes with ideas that end up modifying those first versions of the songs. -A.M.- is responsible of creating and performing all vocal aspects, bass lines and many of the lyrics. Although we barely rehearse together, except just before concerts.

    The production is especially impressive to me, it sounds absolutely monstrous. Terrifying yet still deliciously obscure. Where was the album produced and who took care of the whole process?

    – The EP was completely produced at The Empty Hall Studio, which I personally run. The studio was founded around a year and a half ago and ‘Longing for the Untold’ was the first full production ever done there. Of course this has many advantages and gives us complete control during the recording and post-production processes.

    Some things went pretty straight forward, for example almost all vocals you can hear were recorded by A.M in the first take. J.H. also recorded the drums for all the four songs in a single day. But other things got complicated, I had to re-record the bass and guitars a couple of times until I found the right sound, and also made countless versions of the mix. We knew exactly how it had to sound and we got pretty close. It was a tough but satisfactory process.

    I’ll take this opportunity to blatantly promote myself and tell all interesting bands to visit http://theemptyhallstudio.com and get in contact if they want to work with me for their album.

    The EP originally came out on CD through BlackSeed Productions and is now seeing a vinyl and tape release with Sentient Ruin Laboratories also on board. Two absolutely killer labels, are you pleased with this arrangement? How did Sentient Ruin become involved?

    – Sentient Ruin got in contact with us just after the CD was released and proposed us to do the vinyl and cassette editions. We didn’t know the label but after checking it has edited a bunch of interesting bands in the last years we had no reason to say no. BlackSeed was already going to do the vinyl on their own but they thought it was a good idea to cooperate. So now each label is focused in their own distribution, that is SR in America and BS in Europe.

    There’s an added bonus on this enhanced re-release, included is your side from the great 2013 three way split with Selbst and Nihil. I love the idea, showcasing previous work. What was your thought process behind including the older tracks?

    – From a practical point of view there was enough space to include more music in a 12” vinyl, and since the EP’s length is only 21 minutes we thought it was a good opportunity to put new listeners in context showing them some of our previous work.

    You can immediately hear the difference from the EP tracks when the older songs kick in. How do you feel your sound has developed, and how has your approach changed in comparison to the new material?

    – You definitely can perceive a difference, but it isn’t something we were looking for, I think it’s due to the sum of several small changes. In the first place, there’s a lapse of 3-4 years between the composition of the previous split EP from 2013 and new songs (with the exception of ‘The Ever Shifting Path’, that was composed in between those), so this implies more experience as musicians, new ideas and, above everything, another vital state that is reflected in our creations.

    I think there’s a common feeling in all our works, but there are also new nuances that appear or dissapear in every one of them, as well as new approaches to the same core ideas. Probably with the time we have given more presence to certain kind of riffs in detriment of others.

    Finally, there are some more technical aspects that has changed our sound, such as a different guitar tuning, a lower vocal register, sporadic use of synths and the overall production, that makes everything sounds deeper and stronger. The result is that the new work is just better.

    The EP feels like it transcends humanity and simple hatred, something alluded to not only in the lyrics but the name of the project itself. It’s a less misanthropic, more nihilistic feel. What are your thoughts on the current state and future of humankind?

    – That’s correct, the lyrics of this EP are more oriented towards reflection on our existence, the passing of time, the capitulation of our pretensions before our own insignificance. I’d say that it’s beyond hatred, it’s closer to acceptance of our pain and the contemplation of our falling and the grandiosity of the universe. Our lyrics tend to be short but they ‘hide’ personal experiences and deeper reflections of what you can perceive at first. It’s also good to give enough space for everyone to find their personal meaning to the songs and own them in their unique way.

    It’s difficult to make a diagnosis about the state of humanity, there are too many facts and data to ignore, it could be a really long discussion.

    On a period of time the vocals have switched to a deeper deathlike assault, which sounds great and adds a whole other level to proceedings. What in particular instigated this change?

    – Nothing in particular, as we started to make more low-tuned guitar riffs I think A.M. unconsciously adapted his vocals and started singing that way at some point, which is good since as you said it sounds deeper and stronger. With the years he has improved his vocals and got a wider range, which allows him to sound like that.

    While listening through your discography I’ve been struck by thoughts of artists like Italy’s Lorn. Singular, subversive bands that work within a familiarity spectrum to ensnare but then create something subtly new and warped that infiltrates, unsettles and exhilarates. Quite unique. I know everyone takes something different from art, would this be similar to how you perceive your own work or hope it is perceived by others?

    – You have a good ear and intuition, I’ve listened to Lorn since a lot of years ago and really enjoy it. I usually read a lot of absurd comparisons but this one makes sense to me. The funny thing about that band is that when I discovered their first album arround 2008 I thought it sounded similar to the band I had at the time (Eterna Penumbra), then they made a shift with the second album and when I listened to it I thought “this is kind of what I’m doing with Aversio Humanitatis right now!” so, there seems to be a ‘subconscious’ connection with them, hahaha. Although we don’t have any kind of relation.

    I think your description hit the nail. We move in familiar territories for all who listen to extreme music, we are comfortable there and do not seek to transgress it but we definitely try to permeate our own personality into what we do; just enough to create something slightly new, as you said. I know everybody says this shit about their band, but whatever.

    We don’t “hope” to be perceived by people in any particular way, I don’t even think the three of us conceive the band in exactly the same way, we just join forces and try to our best in every aspect. Once the work is finished, it’s an independent opus susceptible of being judged and interpreted in almost infinite ways. We don’t want nor need to like everybody, we’re confident of our ideas and skills, so we know that if we are satisfied with what we’ve done, other people will join us too.

    The original cover showed a piece of Fabio Rincones art. However, for this reissue you’re using a sleeve of stunning, bleak photography; and I for one think the unexpected offset against what would be the usual genre tropes symbolises perfectly the music contained within. What’s the story behind the artwork, who is the photographer?

    – That picture was taken by our singer A.M. during a journey he started just days after recording the voices for ‘Longing for the Untold’ (he hasn’t come back yet). By the moment I was doing the layout for the CD edition (in which this pictures can be found in the inner part), I had the Fabio’s figures, but we needed something more to complete the artwork, and there’s where these magnificent pictures appeared, they were taken just days before. I won’t say the exact place/country where they were taken to keep it more enigmatic, although perhaps someone recognizes it.
    On one side, you have the Fabio Rincones’ art: deformed silhouettes that are being oppressed by their inner conflicts, by the pains of existence, although there’s also a certain attitude of opposition in their fall. On the other side, you have these impressive landscapes that transmit a relentless strength and beauty, they put us as beholders of what’s unknown and bigger than us. I think both parts of the artwork complement each other and make a good contrast, accompanying different aspects of our music and lyrics.

    Your members have spent time in a few other luminary projects. Why does Aversio Humanitatis exist, how did it form, and what does it mean to you?

    – It exists because we have nothing better to do, and probably there is nothing better to do. I don’t care about perpetuating myself through my art; as many says, I don’t want to perpetuate anything, especially not my name, but I do want to transcend as much as possible my everyday life full of stupid, useless and repetitive stuff, to create something out of my hands and head that can be appreciated by other people and make me proud of myself. A pinch of beauty and creativity in this world of shit. Having a band can be exhausting and very expensive, but it becomes an obligation to yourself, it’s a part of you and you can’t let it die, every time you want to make it better, bigger, more significant. It’s really hard to find another better way to spend your time, I will create music as long as I live. I can’t speak for the other members but I think they feel the same.

    This EP is truly astonishing, and has definitely whet some appetites. Will there be another full-length materialising to shatter our realities any time soon?

    – We are already working on new compositions for an album and probably a couple of other smaller releases. However, I don’t know how soon this will happen, since quality is first and a full-length are big words. So, except if the death interferes, we are definitely going to release an album at some point.

    Sincerest thanks for your time and the incredible music. Anything else you’d like to add?

    – Thanks for your interest in Aversio Humanitatis.

    ~

    Purchase ‘Longing for the Untold’ on digital, cassette and vinyl from Sentient Ruin Laboratories in the US here, and on vinyl and CD from BlackSeed Productions in Europe here.

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