LISTCRUSH – Part Two: Albums

Wrapping up the two part LISTCRUSH series of the releases that resonated and affected us the most throughout 2017, here’s the top 40 full-length albums. A little late, but last year was absolutely monolithic for Black Metal in general so what was originally going to be a top 20 stretched out to 40, and could have easily continued to 100. As in Part One, every single one of these albums and artists is highly recommended for your full attention. Enjoy.

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~ TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2017 ~

40: KROLOK – ‘Flying Above Ancient Ruins’ (Hexencave Prod.)

A Mortiis-style introduction echoes down cobwebbed halls before bursting into the moonlit sounds of the best era of Scandinavian hell. This Slovakian vampyric horde effortlessly nailed it.

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39: HAUNTING DEPTHS – ‘Death’s Sacred Fire’ (Goatowarex)

No names, no country of origin, no information available for the project at all; just great fucking black metal.

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38: BEZMIR – ‘Void’ (Werewolf Promotion)

One of Ukranian dark ambient maestro Severoth‘s many solo projects, now he channels the violence and terror of the cosmic void. Whenever I needed a quick fix of blistering, uncompromising savagery I always went straight to this beast. 

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37: EVILFEAST – ‘Elegies of the Stellar Wind’ (Eisenwald)

This Polish gem crept silently in right at the death of the year and enchanted me with its ethereal, cold grimness. Magic.

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36: WHOREDOM RIFE – ‘Dommedagskvad’ (Terratur Possessions)

Norwegian Black Metal is alive and well. The fucking riffs in this one should be illegal.

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35: NIGHTBRINGER – ‘Terra Damnata’ (Season Of Mist)

Another go-to album if I needed a fix of viciousness. Majestic, sophisticated, devotional; and not the only entry on this list from these US mystics.

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34: ALMYRKVI – ‘Umbra’ (Ván Records)

My favourite cosmic black/death album of the year, the debut album from these Icelandic wizards was everything I hoped for and more.

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33: THROANE – ‘Plus Une Maine a Mordre’ (Debemur Morti)

A deep, deep album. Nobody creates art like Dehn Sora. Avant-garde madness, a bleeding wound that will not heal.

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32: ENTHEOGEN – ‘Without Veil, Nor Self’ (Fallen Empire Records, Mystískaos)

Alex Poole‘s second entry into these lists. As I said in a previous article, this “will split your mind off into several simultaneous perceptual tangents allowing reality to become both an entirely new proposition and completely inconsequential all at once”. Mental.

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31: HAVUKRUUNU – ‘Kelle Surut Soi’ (Naturmacht Productions)

I was a big fan of the Finns previous effort ‘Havulinnaan’ so when I first heard ‘Kelle Surut Soi’ I was a little disappointed by the differences, as they’d seemingly toned down a large part of what I enjoyed about them. Then I actually opened my ears, and holy shit.

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30: THE CLEARING PATH – ‘Watershed Between Firmament and the Realm of Hyperborea’ (I, Voidhanger Records)

Italian prodigy Gabriele Gramaglia pushing everything into the stratosphere. Black Metal taken to almost incomprehensible new heights. Could have been higher up the list on a different day.

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29: ISRATHOUM – ‘Channeling Death and Devil’ (Altare Productions)

Easily should have landed on more lists. As I wrote once before: “Five years was worth the wait; they’ve created a perilous album with an undeniable power that will bend you to its will. A trek down black metal’s many dark and winding paths; a sinister, ritualistic experience infused with dangerous occultism and coiled savagery, eyeing you with disdain and contempt, knowing it could tear out your throat with a mere flick of its wrist.” Evil.

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28: PERVERTED CEREMONY – ‘Sabbat of Behazaël’ (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Sheer ritualistic abomination; frenzied, fetid and foul. I felt like I needed a shower after every listen. Beautiful.

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27: URN – ‘The Burning’ (Iron Bonehead Productions) 

Utterly blasphemic blackthrash from the Finns. The energy and sheer traditional headbang-ability of this is off the chain.

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26: INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS – ‘The Crowning Quietus’ (I, Voidhanger Records, Invictus Productions)

Black Metal that shreds? Yes. This album fucking rips. Glorious satanic power and might.

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25: BESTIA ARCANA – Holókauston (Dark Descent Records)

The Nightbringer gents pulled off a spectacular coup releasing this and ‘Terra Damnata’ in the same year. An apocalyptic conjuration to rival anything any of them have ever done, including Akhlys. This tore open the earth.

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24: KRALLICE – ‘Go Be Forgotten’ (Hathenter Records)

My favourite thing they’ve done in a minute, by a long shot. The production, the art; the inhuman musical abilities. This is one that will never be forgotten. 

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23: FACELESS ENTITY – ‘In Via ad Nusquam’ (Nebular Carcinoma Records, Altare Productions, The Throat)

Forever mourning the dead and the living. Ominous, obscure atmosphere; I listened to a shitload of raw black this year and this was among the best.

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22: FROZEN GRAVES – ‘Frozen Graves’ (Kuunpalvelus)

Finland showing everyone how it’s done; pure black metal. Probably would have been higher on the list if it’d dropped earlier than November and I’d been able to spend more time with it. 

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21: SVARTSYN – ‘In Death’ (Agonia Records) 

Sweden’s finest annihilate once again. Misanthropic fury that will slice you in half with no mercy.

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20: VOID PRAYER – ‘Stillbirth from the Psychotic Void’ (The Throat, Goatowarex)

This raw, disassociative dysphoria still haunts my dreams.

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19: MORK – ‘Eremittens Dal’ (Peaceville Records)

When these men hit their stride nobody can beat them for capturing the essence of ’90s Norway. It isn’t mere imitation; it’s a channeling of powerful natural spirit continuing in the current age. The carriers of the torch for True Norwegian Black Metal.

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18: VOËMMR – ‘Nox Maledictvs’ (Signal Rex)

Recorded over two nights in an abandoned farmhouse, you can almost feel the spirits of the dead crackling in the air as these Portuguese enigmas coax otherworldly atmospheres from their instruments.

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17: AU-DESSUS – ‘End of Chapter’ (Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions)

The only post black album to make my list this year, this is monumental. Listen to it. Now.

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16: SELBST – ‘Selbst’ (Sun & Moon Records)

The Venezuelans killed it with top notch composition, thunderous sound and one overall devastating album. Very well done.

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15: URARV – ‘Aurum’ (Svart Records)

The man with the best voice in Norwegian Black Metal returns with another outstanding project. Bjorn ‘Aldrahn’ Dencker brings the avant-garde weirdness once again, and it is excellent.

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14: FLEURETY – ‘The White Death’ (Peaceville Records)

Obliterating the notion of genre constraints since the early ’90s, Norwegians Fleurety are back with a stunningly bizzare rabbit hole from which there is zero chance of escape and even less of understanding. “We were always being normal”… 

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13: DSKNT – ‘PhSPHR Entropy’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

A churning maelstrom tearing apart the very physics of reality at a molecular level. I’d been following this release from Swiss enigma ASKNT with extreme interest, then when Sentient Ruin Laboratories picked it up for release I couldn’t have been happier. Terrifying. You need this in your life.

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12: MRTVI – ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ (Transcending Obscurity Records)

How many artists are truly experimenting with black metal, or music in general?  For Damjan from mental Serbian/UK project MRTVI it’s gone past the ‘experimental’ stage, he’s now inventing. Full of improvisation and all sorts of sonic abandon, my 2017 list is stacked with avant-garde alchemy but this may just be the most batshit. Anxiety inducing.

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11: TCHORNOBOG – ‘Tchornobog’ (I, Voidhanger Records, Fallen Empire Records)

I watched the hype slowly creep and then explode on this when it was released, and it was completely deserved. Monstrous, disturbing songs that warp your psyche; this isn’t an album you can dip in and out of. Dive in to the horror. 

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10: NORSE – ‘The Divine Light of a New Sun’ (Transcending Obscurity Records)

“A warped, angular beast that lumbers towards you, continuously shape-shifting as body parts and facial features drop off and regrow in a horrifying, gibbering terror. Utterly inhuman.” Many, many more people should have paid attention to this dissonant Australian behemoth of an album. Superb. 

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9: AOSOTH – ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’ (Agonia Records)

Backed up their last in spectacular fashion. I listened to this many, many times; and I still haven’t even received my vinyl yet.

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8: TETRAGRAMMACIDE – ‘Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix’ (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Ultimate punishment. These Indian commandos took the gloves clean off with this release and created an all out assault of sonic war crimes, each frenzied blow landing with lazer precision. The most brutal album on this list, and arguably of the year. 

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7: BLUT AUS NORD – ‘Deus Salutis Meae’ (Debemur Morti Productions) 

Nobody does it like these gentlemen. It may not have been the giant leap forward many were expecting, but they didn’t need to. Still the best in the game. 

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6: ACRIMONIOUS – ‘Eleven Dragons’ (World Terror Committee)

Semjaza is a man who knows his stuff, and this album ticked every single box for me. Perfect black art deserving of the highest praise. Glory to the one who is Eleven. 

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5: CHAOS MOON – ‘Eschaton Mémoire’ (Blood Music)

Alex Poole does it again. This time allowing a more collaborative effort for his main project, the inclusion of Eric Baker on vocals this time around is absolutely inspired. Top shelf USBM, absolutely essential. 

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4: SEVEROTH – ‘Forestpaths’ (Werewolf Promotion)

I listened to this album more times than any other over the course of the year. Ukranian demon Severoth‘s second entry into this list is a spellbinding journey through an immersive, frozen world. Something about this release hits me just right. A masterpiece.

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3: american – ‘Violate and Control’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Fucking savagery. The US black industrial noise terrorist duo crafted something special here; something hideous and usually hidden but now dragged screaming into the light. The only album I purchased on multiple formats, and it’s pleased me to no end that I’ve seen it pop up on a few other year-end lists. Hanging to see what they do next.

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2: BLACK CILICE – ‘Banished From Time’ (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Released in early March and never bettered. The raw black metal album of the year. Incredibly affecting, I was lost in its hypnotic swathes of cavernous howls for what felt like an eternity. Atmosphere like no other.

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1: YELLOW EYES – ‘Immersion Trench Reverie’ (Gilead Media)

This album crept up on me. I had no idea it would be my album of the year until I was compiling this list, when I realised there could be only one release that could, and should, be at the top. At first listen you think it’s cool and the US crew had made some nice improvements building on ‘Sick With Bloom’; but once it starts to get under your skin and the nuances begin to reveal themselves there’s nothing quite like it. The field recordings from Tibet are only the icing on a rich, fascinatingly calm and natural yet grim and unsettling cake. Oustanding. Unique. In a banner year for Black Metal, this was the best.

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Near Misses: Synodic – ‘Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe’, Desolate Shrine – ‘Deliverance from the Godless Void’, Bašmu – ‘VVitchblood’, Orm – ‘Orm’, Theurgia – ‘Transformation’, Fell Ruin ‘To The Concrete Drifts’, Fin – ‘Arrows of a Dying Age’, Enisum – ‘Seasons of Desolation’, Lóstregos – ‘Lendas Baixo o Luar’, Vassafor – ‘Malediction’, Windswept – ‘The Great Cold Steppe’, Dodecahedron – ‘Kwintessens’, Sarkrista – ‘Summoners of the Serpents Wrath’, Woe – ‘Hope Attrition’, Doedsvangr – ‘Satan Ov Suns’, Weregoat – ‘Pestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication’, Acedia Mundi – ‘Speculum Humanae Salvationis’, Malokarpatan – ‘Nordkarpatenland’, Wiegedood – ‘De Doden Hebben Het Goed II’, Falls of Rauros – ‘Vigilance Perennial’, Ofermod – ‘Sol Nox’.

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…And that caps off the 2017 edition of LISTCRUSH. My utmost respect and admiration to all the artists that toiled in the darkness and blessed us with their blackened works last year. Think I missed anything? You’re probably right, send me your favourite shit. I’ll be chewing on a stack of remaining 2017 releases for the next few months anyway. 

Hails 2017; bring on 2018.

-A

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Get in early for next year: Email blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Submissions welcomed.

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Light Fell Silent – An Interview with DSKNT

– time shifts and stretching tensor operators –

– isotropic radiation of remnants & white noises –

– transform & disassemble –

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In this age of immediacy an artist still managing to stay cloaked in an aura of mystery is a fascinating thing; and enigmatic act DSKNT has been absolutely and effortlessly swathed in it. Originally formed in 2013 but laying seemingly dormant since, over the last six months scattered and intricately titled tracks began creeping out that sounded like the inexorable, grinding machinations of a machine neither organic nor lifeless yet working feverishly to deconstruct reality in suffocating horror; however all available information about these creations amounted to a few cryptic statements, a Swiss location and some personnel rumours. Even a label press release stated that they were “unable to confirm any other details regarding the nature and identity of the project”. 

That is, until now. 

After following the project with interest and devouring every mind-bending composition that slithered as nameless black lava reaching quivering and crystalline from the void, I reached out to make contact; thankfully the man behind it all agreed to lift the veil ever-so-slightly.

So with the debut album ‘PhSPHR Entropy’ finally released on Sentient Ruin LaboratoriesClavis SecretorvmBabylon Doom Cult Records and easily one of the most intriguing, synapse-crushing releases of the year; submit to its irresistible pull via the full stream linked below and read on as we speak with mastermind ASKNT.

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Greetings, and sincerest thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and allow us a brief glimpse into the world of DSKNT. Not much is known about you, so this is very much appreciated. Firstly: What exactly is DSKNT, and where did it come from?

– DSKNT is the audial subdivision of DSKNT Industry, a project linking the perception and inspiration I have in order to create music/noise. The DSKNT terminology was extracted shortly after I created DSKNT Industry which is the entity used as medium to transform ideas in music. In fact, and to be compendious, DSKNT is the project and DSKNT Industry its source, its incubator and its global envelop.

Your debut creation, PhSPHR Entropy, is about to be released. What is the intention with this album, and the meaning/significance of PhSPHR Entropy as a title?

– The main purpose of the release, as idea, is to create and perform a hermetic conceptual cross between the factual implication as well as the uttermost discernible climax of certain specific aspects of the physics with the ineluctable, complete nullification of all. This fact is only hidden under their expressions in term of mathematical formula. Initial commitments of the lyrics were drawn in this way. Generate an audial unsafe place, a wall of distortions of the senses, kind of an unacceptable noise. The cover of PhSPHR Entropy is intended to extend the concept of the whole concept of the release. Something very sober and static in parallel to the music. Musically, there are two epochs of composition mixed together, but not distinguishable. In terms of lyrics: « You are not important ». Nothing is. It’s only a human issue to apprehend scales.

PhSPHR Entropy as title and mark of the album has a double significance. Referring clearly to physic and intrinsic natural concepts, first, the Entropy can be used as a kind of measure of disorder or randomness of an isolated system. Mainly, we don’t know enough parameters to understand the system globally. On the other hand, Entropy un-uniformity was the beginning. This measure will denote the end too. 

Why PhSPHR? Well, PhSPHR is glowing in the dark under certain conditions. The PhSPHR ions are highly reactive and have a high level of possible oxidation, it’s leading to a very high potential of Entropy in addition to being essential for the human being as for the DNA. The two terms together specify the internal metastability as well as the external instability of the All. PhSPHR Entropy speaks in terms of disorder and chaos, directly opposed to the equilibrium. It’s chaos, not the “Chaos”. Underlying chaos.

From where did you derive inspiration for the sonic chaos and themes depicted on the album?

– DSKNT inspiration comes from many sides. But it’s mainly driven by my apprehension of the vacuum or simpler of time. Since the disorder is the only leading and underlying principle of all, the sonic chaos, as you call it, comes from of this sensibility to it or probably of the DSKNT internal interests in disorder, sort of a blasting maelstrom. On the other hand, the true chaos will come. Just let it come with the time and its distortions, bends. That’s only a cosmological issue for this global extinction and prevailing void.

DSKNT seems to aim at defying all normal musical and sound convention. Were there any unusual techniques or instrumentation involved in the assembly of PhSPHR Entropy?

– I don’t know exactly what you mean by unusual techniques since each recordings phase could be very different from the others, and highly variable among bands. I can say that’s it’s a specific and inherent goal of DSKNT works to achieve such weird sounding. The recording process for a so-called one-man band is relatively different of a band formed by several people, as anyone may understand. Advantage for DSKNT, the music creation process doesn’t imply the inconvenient of making compromises on ideas or music, which could lead to the dilution of the goal to achieve. But the process is probably more iterative and incremental, it takes time. Each track of PhSPHR Entropy has many sub-versions and it’s always a real dilemma when you should set a final version.

On the other hand, I’m currently developing other techniques for the next tracks and releases, in order to enlarge this abrasive, dizzying, destructive and disassembled style more globally. By techniques I mean, create the own DSKNT hardware disto/fuzz effects and reverbs and other things that could lead to a more unique sounding, or just for DSKNT’s own experiments. As featured in PhSPHR Entropy, Kr. Vy. Rites, I would say that any medium could be used in the future to create this little unsafe suffocating place in music. As well as pure noise elements. My retrospective point of view, the guitar riffing is responsible for most of this entropy, disorder and/or unconventional mesmerizing sounding. But for me, it’s an initial step, I expect more.

Do you align yourself with any movements, styles or genres, or is DSKNT something that is intended to stand on its own?

– That’s a problematic question since, as you have noticed, the medium used to express this Entropy is what is mainly characterized as Black Metal. DSKNT themes and the way of doing have nothing to do with the traditional Black Metal themes, especially with new wave of occult themes and bands and the coupled evil imagery. To be under influence, it’s quite obvious (naive people don’t think probably so, but be honest), “Stand on its own” can only be a background idea, but it remains a view of mind.

The composition part wasn’t and isn’t aligned on a specific style, and will never. I can take “Resurgence of Primordial Void Aperture” versus “Kr. Vy. Rites” and its next “Kr. Vy. Portals” as examples. There is no specific solution or formula in DSKNT music. 

Everything is subject to change or evolve as well as the DSKNT’s music medium. But I have to say that there is a certain quantity of projects which are creating a very particular style, atmosphere and by the way, a very specific signature in their music. I speak of acts such PORTAL, or of the CHAOS ECHOES approach, HAUS ARAFNA raw sounds treatments. DSKNT can’t directly be categorized as Black Metal nor Death Metal, it’s both and none. And you can probably find most likely an assembly of elements of particular styles.

I’ve heard whisper that this madness is the product of one man, asknt. Is this true? How many souls took part in its creation, and what roles did they play?

– You are right. The complete instrumentation and lyrics is asknt’s part of the work. Besides, the vocalist of ANTIVERSUM (on Invictus Productions) has performed the whole vocals/noises parts on PhSPHR Entropy. His skills are very valuable to transmit the DSKNT intents since he understands the concept completely and participates to its sublimation. For the next works, DSKNT certainly will use the same “setup”. 

I can’t conclude this topic without talking about the highly important participation of Antïgraphics for the cover and layout, which has given the visual interaction with the background ubiquity of the variating Entropy that this release is intended to transmit.

The album was produced and recorded at DSKNT Industry, of which DSKNT is noted as a Noise Shaped Subdivision. What is DSKNT Industry and is DSKNT its only creation? 

– DSKNT Industry is both a recording studio, an experimental laboratory and rehearsal place. DSKNT Industry has recorded and engineered some other acts such as AB OCCULTO demos, both NECROSEMEN EP’s, AION’s album “Verses of Perdition” and some other projects, internal or external experiments. DSKNT instrumentations comes and were recorded in this place except the vocal parts which were recording at OSA Crypt in Zürich. I take the opportunity to thank them again.

PhSPHR Entropy is being unleashed in collaboration with Clavis Secretorvm, Sentient Ruin Industries in the US and Babylon Doom Cult Records for Europe. Are you pleased with the assistance received from these sources?

– The assistance during the whole process was perfect. The different proposals were totally in the DSKNT’s approach. All the people involved in background for the release were very collaborative and proactive. On the other hand, I was surprised of such support from the labels, since it wasn’t so for older works I’ve tried to release some years ago.

The DSKNT sigil and cover of the album was created by Antï Graphic Art. How were they to collaborate with? Were these formed from their interpretation of your work or were they under direction?

– Again, I have to say that DSKNT has nothing to do with human considerations like occult or esoteric concepts, neither other human centred preoccupations or interests. I would say “sigil” isn’t the appropriate and suitable terminology. 

Concerning the cover, Antïgraphics immediately understood the whole concept. I gave him some global guide lines and the complete and finished lyrics but, in fact and at the end, he was completely free. As far I remember, his creations are very inspired and lead to high-quality artworks with a very personal signature.

Are there plans for DSKNT to become a live entity in future, or is it by nature something that should be heard but not seen?

– As you already noticed, there was only few information about the project, about who does what in the project etc. DSKNT can’t treat abstract themes, mainly not related human scaled themes and become a live act, that’s completely antithetical. Furthermore, the live aspect would totally degrade the intention behind this project. According to my own beliefs, the DSKNT music isn’t suitable at all for live performances.

Are there any further forthcoming emanations from DSKNT apparent?

– DSKNT is now working on the new basis which will compose the material of the next album and a forthcoming split EP at some moment during the next year. A new attempt in adding opaque and oppressive atmospheres.

In the beginning of the next year, Sentient Ruin will release PhSPHR Entropy on vinyl.

Sincerest thanks for shining some light into the void that is DSKNT. Do you have any final messages?

– Thanks to you for the questions.

Light fell silent, few seconds before Eternity.

DSKNT – 04XII17

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Purchase/pre-order PhSPHR Entropy digitally from Bandcamp HERE, on CD from Clavis Secretorvm HERE, on vinyl from Babylon Doom Cult Records HERE and on cassette or vinyl from Sentient Ruin Laboratories HERE.

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Support DSKNT:

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