The Sacred and the Profane, Part 2 – A Review of Graveir’s ‘Cenotaph’

And thus, the world was plunged into darkness once more. Picking up where we left off in our interview with frontman Gloom for the first part of our coverage of the Australian wraith’s upcoming new release ‘Cenotaph’, the time has come recite the necessary incantations and take a deeper look at this great release.

A little history for those who missed part one and can’t be bothered clicking back: the embryonic stirrings of Graveir began in 2009 and eventually blossomed over time into the full rotting flower we see today, resplendent in filth. Currently consisting of Pandora on bass (also doing time in the excellent Moon), skinsman XI (ex-Moon, ex-Dead River Runs Dry, ex-Vyrion and more), the twin obscenities of Emaciation (Arms of the Abyss, Defamer, Tower of Fire) and Alone on guitars plus Gloom (ex-The Silenced) tearing his throat to pieces in the name of art, ‘Cenotaph’ is the project’s fourth release overall and follows their superb end-of-year-list -making split with Mar Mortuum from 2017.

If their contribution to that split was superb, they’ve taken things another step further on this EP. As ‘Sanguine Inferno’ bursts to life in sorrowful dissonance and begins to traverse it’s darkened path, you’re struck by the deep melodious bleakness in their sound; throughout the course of the journey it’s as if the songs try to take flight but are weighted down by utter hopelessness. Which is a very good thing, a definite honing of their abilities and focus has taken place here and the EP reaches down into depths no sentient being should ever have to experience.

‘Dyatlov’ draws inspiration from the Dyatlov Pass Incident that occurred in an almost impassable region of Russia’s frozen Ural mountains in 1959. The bodies of nine ski hikers were found scattered and damaged by an “unknown compelling force” whilst apparently attempting to flee their tent (which had been destroyed from the inside), skulls and ribs smashed. One woman had her tongue cut out, some were dressed only in socks and undergarments in the freezing snow. The mystery of what took place that night remains unsolved to this day; and it’s a fitting theme for this track as it surges through the mire, its haunting misery punctuated by violent throes of horror. One of my favourites on the EP and one in which you realise how unusually prominent and integral to their sound the basswork is, as Pandora‘s sinister rumble and dreadful tones add menace and instill a real fear of the unknown. Very welcome and effective here, providing the sinewed muscle to XI‘s winding percussive backbone.

EP centrepiece ‘Whips’ continues in dysphoric form, piling the melancholia on even harder before it then flies into a tempestuous rage. Despite their relatively short run times I find the tracks deceptively epic and expansive in their progression, there’s a depth to each one that reveals itself further and further with each listen. On the latter half of ‘Droit De Seigneur’ Gloom and Emaciation‘s dual vocal assault is utterly terrifying, while Alone‘s guitars sound like that door tucked away in the darkest reaches of your mind that hides and locks away all the unspeakable things has been ripped from its hinges. Both great songs, but they save the best until last: ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’.

It might just be because I’ve spent the most time with this particular track overall, but it fucking kills. The moods it taps into, the true despair and intensity; frontman Gloom said in our interview that it decribes “the building of the new order over the bones of the old, through bloodshed”, which is not only a fitting theme for this piece but also the EP as a whole. Graveir are building a new order for themselves here, perfecting their formula and crushing everything in their path in the process.

It may sound like I’m just blowing hyperbole but I honestly am quite partial to this release. There’s a raw charm to their morose melodic power and a sense of integrity to the sound and songs, you can tell they’ve been crafted with care. The overall production hits me just right and sounds like the audio equivalent of dead things reaching out to consume your flesh. Which will most likely be while you still breathe and remain totally cognizant of what is taking place, but… Not quite yet. No, this is the sound of that fleeting moment in between life and death, when you’re frozen and everything stretches into eternity, forcibly aware of your own fragile mortality and its impending end. Each time you visit this world it pulls you further and further down… And I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic Norot Art cover artwork yet. Just look at it.

A killer EP, one that spells big things for the impious lot. Vinyl and shirt pre-orders available now from the ultimate purveyors of misanthropic art down under, Impure Sounds. Releases on 20th April. Get keen.

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Pre-order ‘Cenotaph’ on vinyl or digital from Impure Sounds here.

Support Graveir:

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The Sacred and the Profane – An Interview With Graveir

Graveir‘s black star is on the rise. Fresh off the back of contributing to one of the greatest splits of 2017, the Australian horde of Gloom, Alone, Emaciated, XI and Pandora have announced a new EP about to seep out and spread its insidious influence across the earth: the mighty ‘Cenotaph’.

It’s available for pre-order as we speak and I’ll be taking a more in-depth look into its wretched majesty when the time arises, but for now we can feast our ears upon the stellar teaser track ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’. The horrifyingly dissonant guitars and depraved multi-pronged vocal assault contained within head up what I believe to be their strongest recorded work to date; and I’m extremely pleased to say I was fortunate enough to sit down with throatsman Gloom to discuss the track, the EP itself and all things Graveir. So have a listen at the link below, and read on.

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Greetings Gloom, sincerest thanks for speaking to us. First up, a little history: What inspired the creation of Graveir, and what is its purpose?

– The genesis of Graveir really started in 2009 as a vehicle for me to write the kind of music I was interested in. It’s not for everyone so I’d found myself playing in things more out of friendship. There was always compromise rather than a full creative expression. There was no real timeline on it, just a collection of riffs which ended up being the genesis of the songs on the demo.

I think it was around 2012 I met XI and found we were pretty much on the same wavelength. Being a particularly driven individual, once I showed him what I had been working on that was enough to set things on the path. Pretty quickly we’d demoed the songs. Admittedly these were pretty rudimentary given my lack of technical ability and preparation at the time but these helped us to form the remainder of the lineup in late 2013. I am pleased to say it has progressed from those humble beginnings much further than I would ever have expected.

As for its purpose, I am generally interested in the interplay between the sacred and the profane so sonically I wanted something that had a definite sense of melody but also felt slightly unsettling at the same time. At least to my ears, t’s the friction between the two that helps create the atmosphere in our music.

You have a new EP on the way, titled ‘Cenotaph’. How do you feel about it, did everything turn out exactly as planned? What was the creative process like?

– I think we will never be 100% satisfied with anything, no matter how good it is. This is healthy as prevents stagnation but it becomes important to know when to let something go and release it. People will ultimately make of it what they will. I am comfortable with the release – which is as close to happy as you should ever realistically be.

The recording was definitely a positive experience. We recorded locally so there wasn’t any time pressures and all of our equipment was available to us. Ean Redman, who recorded and mixed the album is someone we know on a personal level so the recording environment was very good. Tonally I think we got some good sounds from the instruments.

The writing process itself is fairly painless, new material comes easily to us. As for how it comes together, someone will demo guitars and guide drums for a song and send it around for initial opinions and if it is received well we take it to rehearsal and adjust it until we have a finished version and I’ll add lyrics to it from there.

The dictionary defines a ‘Cenotaph’ as: “a monument, sometimes in the form of a tomb, to a person or group of persons buried elsewhere”. Why did you select this as the title?

– It came from the lyrics for New Gods (Drowning the Sun) and seemed fitting for the overall tone of the album and the artwork. In a more literal sense it does serve as somewhat of a monument between where we have come from and to where things are heading.

The first teaser track is the aforementioned ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’ and in my opinion is another huge step forward from everything you’ve done before, oozing with a bleak and unsettling menace. Can you describe the themes and intentions behind the track?

– Definitely – the lyrics centre around the cycle of domination and violence that come with change. More specifically changing of religion within a society. What we often refer to as mythology is really an insulting way of denigrating what was previously the dominant religion of a society i.e. “That was all make believe, what I am telling you now is the one and only truth.”. The song describes the building of the new order over the bones of the old through bloodshed.

Listening through from your last full-length ‘Iconostasis‘ and the great 2017 split with Mar Mortuum you can really hear the refinement of certain aspects of your sound, such as the development of a mutidimensional vocal assault that proves to be devastatingly effective. What would you say the biggest progression or development has been for Graveir since ‘Iconostasis’?

– There are three key things I’d point to as having the biggest impact on our sound to date.

The first thing that happened is that after the demo I was able to share more of the songwriting duties and this has continued to increase over time. We try to make sure everyone has had some songwriting contribution on all our releases but the composition of this has shifted. For example on Iconostasis if one of us wrote a song we would normally write both guitar parts before sending it to everyone. Now we will often write one guitar track then send it to either Alone or Emaciation to complete which often adds a different perspective to things.

The second thing is improving as musicians over time. This has enabled us to stretch our songwriting and technical abilities. Listening to a demo from 2009 versus today this becomes very apparent. This one is especially true for me.

Finally, Emaciation adding additional vocals has really helped add some additional depth into the songs both live and on the newer material.

There will also be a track on the EP titled ‘Dyatlov’. I’m curious, because if I’m correct this is something that has always fascinated me: Would this be referring to the Dyatlov Pass Incident? If so, can you tell us a little about why you chose to write about it?

– You are correct, it is referring to the events that occurred in Dyatlov Pass. The title was initially just a working title, which will often change once I actually start writing lyrics. However after doing a bit more reading and research I found it a particularly fascinating topic.

What makes the Dyatlov Pass Incident a compelling case may be more to do with the level of development of forensic science as well as the propensity for secrecy on the part of the Soviet government.

If I had to take my best guess I think it was something of a military nature, perhaps air mines or some other weapon capable of generating significant concussive force. The interest for me lyrically was the thought of the isolation and the unforeseen terror that would have followed.

The EP will be adorned with evocative cover artwork by incredible occult artist Norot Art. How did this come about, were you big fans of his work? How does the resulting image tie in with the themes of the EP?

– Essentially just by being fans of his artwork. From there we made contact and he agreed to do the artwork. He has done a stellar job and we are extremely happy with the end result. Our approach when contacting artists is to give them a listen to the songs, lyrics and titles to enable them to draw out what resonates with them and draw something based off that. We give little to no instruction or guidance beyond that. So, given that it draws from the source material I think it fits the overarching themes on the EP (which are essentially meditations on the nature of death, suffering and change) quite well.

‘Cenotaph’ will see the continuation of your recent partnership with the great underground Australian label Impure Sounds. How has it been to work with them?

– No complaints whatsoever. Graveir isn’t a money-making venture so any notions to that effect are easily dispensed of so long as you aren’t being exploited. What then becomes important is finding someone who will show as much care for the release as we have in making it and that on a personal level we are dealing with people we respect, like and trust.

We know the EP is in good hands so it is a largely stress-free process for us. Impure Sounds don’t run a massive release schedule so can give each release they put out care and attention it deserves. We have nothing but positive things to say about the label and would gladly work with them again.

I know you’ve been playing a few live shows of late, have you aired any of the new material and was it received well?

– This is always a balancing act as you don’t want to play all the new songs months ahead of the EP release otherwise there isn’t all that much excitement around the new material for the audience. Recent shows we’ve done one or two songs just to test them out in a live setting and to add a something unexpected to the setlist.

We did do a set of the EP material late last year at an event hosted by our friends the Brewditos. Given the excellent quality of the beer on offer and their support over the past few years we thought we should repay the favour with something special. Hard to say how much of it was the beer but the reception was very positive.

For the uninitiated, what can one expect from a Graveir live ritual?

– Great question – I think you can expect to hear a close representation of what is on the recordings. For the most part we don’t record anything we can’t re-create live and we avoid using anything overly processed so I think this translates well in the live setting only with a bit more of a feral energy to it. Outside of that you should expect a sufficiently bleak atmosphere.

Australia has a killer black metal scene. Are there any sorely underrated Australian bands that you believe deserve more widespread attention?

– Completely agree with that sentiment. I think there are some bands that are getting some well-deserved recognition at the moment such as Départe and Greytomb which I hope continues as they have both produced some excellent releases.

On the other side of the equation there are some excellent bands who I think are due a bit more than they might currently have. Ignis Gehenna, Convulsing, Siberian Hell Sounds, Norse, Bleakwood, Snorri, Ploughshare, Mar Mortuum, Host and Dødknell have all put out great releases in the past year or two. I’d also be interested in a follow up from Dead River Runs Dry as I thoroughly enjoyed the first album. I will miss Funeral Moon who were great and were over all too soon.

When can we expect the full EP to drop? Will it be on vinyl, CD, cassette?

– Release date will be April 20th and will be vinyl and digital only at this stage. CDs may come later but I think it depends on the level of interest.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Gloom. Very keen to hear the rest of the EP. Any last words?

– Thank you for the well-thought out questions, it has been a pleasure answering them. I hope I have answered them sufficiently. I will be interested to hear what you think of the rest of the EP once it is out.

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Pre-order ‘Cenotaph’ on vinyl or digital from Impure Sounds here.

Support Graveir:

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Like Black Metal Daily on Facebook for more kvlt sounds and tonal blasphemy.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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