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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    Bandcamp Misanthropy – Volume 6

    The bottomless wellspring of Bandcamp is overflowing with great shit just waiting to be discovered. This series aims to shine light on the freshest emanations and foulest incantations from its darkest corners, a few artists at a time. Here’s the sixth installment for your vulgar delectation. Enjoy. 

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    Artist: Baphometic Deathslaught

    Year: 2017

    What better way to kick things off than some bestial hellfire from Poland/USA? Baphometic Deathslaught is a side project of Grief from the also-excellent Nyctophilia, but on this self-titled debut instead of the grand depression of his main outlet he’s gone straight for the jugular of Christianity in the most unholy and primitive way possible. Six profane hymns of raw satanic assault and death worship prefaced by a suitably evil introduction, the sound of wolves howling over a grim Satanic ritual greets us before the absolutely lethal ‘Smog Obscures the Megalithic Temple of Arcane Fires’ comes slavering forth from the abyss swathed in savage black thunder and you can almost feel the Dark Lord entering your body. From there the aggression and loathing is relentless, rasping hatred and guttural exhortations driving the fury all the way to the somehow-even-more-unclean-than-the-original cover of Profanatica‘s ‘A Fallen God, Dethroned in Heaven’ that closes out the blasphemic proceedings. Kvlt stuff, support with a name-your-price download and contribute to the downfall of Christ.

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    Artist: Ungesehen

    Year: 2017

    If you’ve ever found yourself wanting some classic raw black metal without the pesky vocals, Ungesehen is the band for you. The German’s instrumental compositions are quite good; ‘Unaussprechliches Entsetzen’ reminds me of listening to the old vocal-less Burzum demos if the production was slightly better with more baleful tremolo melodies packed in. At nine tracks long their debut manages to remain interesting throughout, the tunes hold their own and definitely don’t lack in atmosphere or variety. Up for name-your-price download it’s well worth a listen; if you dig it pick up a tape release through Fallen Empire Records, which comes with a bonus cover of Armagedda‘s ‘At the Edge of Negative Existence’.

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    Artist: Ljuska 

    Year: 2017

    Serbian Sifr Shraddha’s one man project Ljuska has just released its debut EP ‘Husks of Light’, and if this one track and an intro is anything go by, it’ll be one to watch. The atmospheric introduction does its job with a suitably evil vibe before the first eerie riffs slither and smash out of your speakers; I say smash because they literally do, this is some great tone and production for a first demo. The intro is almost rendered unnecessary because the song itself is genuinely that good, twists and headbanging turns keep it more than interesting the whole way through as menacing blasts and thrilling, almost catchy melodies ensure it’ll be stuck in your head for days.

    A cut above the rest simply by way of solid songwriting and good fucking riffs, keep an eye on this project, it’ll be worth it. Name-your-price download below.

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    Artist: Malphas

    Year: 2017

    Uk duo Malphas have just released their very first demo ‘Brimstone’, describing it as “raw black/doom metal for fans of Blut Aus Nord, Behemoth and Paradise Lost”. Although the project is barely past embryonic stage, this is fucking great, straight off the bat. Crushing blackened doom that splits open to release atonal wails calling forth the misery of the ages; the oppressive production only fuelling the ancient horrors within. Third track ‘Burning in the Shadow of God’ is where it gets blackest; the suffocating swarm and clattering drums eventually collapsing into a solitary guitar that tries to soar like a golden bird from the cavernous maw of the earth caving in on itself around it, struggling to escape its pull before the song ends abruptly, leaving the image hanging and you wanting more.

    Support with a name-your-price download, this is epic stuff. More please fellas!

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    Artist: Himelvaruwe 

    Year: 2017

    You may recall the name Himelvaruwe from back in Volume 3, this is the second time we’ve covered the Dutch one man project and now he’s back with an EP just as fascinating as the first.

    ‘CCIII’ is apparently two tracks that deviated from the theme of other material he’s working on and this time the project drags us in a more Black Cilice styled direction. Bleak and raw, the vocals become barely discernable howls; hypnotic, pulsing drum patterns weave in and out lost in the waves of distortion. The second track ‘II’ is slightly lighter in tone with the whole thing still infused with the projects innate sense of creativity; the continued unique use of unexpected samples popping out and taking the style to fresh new dimensions.

    Mesmerising, harsh stuff; this is still one of the more interesting underground artists I’ve stumbled across. One day soon this guy will nail his coherent theme, make an album, release it on tape and it’ll be hailed everywhere. Keep watching until he does, and grab this and the previous EP ‘Gewrocht’ for name-your-price download in the meantime.

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    Artist: Chiral

    Year: 2016

    Italian one man atmospheric project Chiral makes “Music for the Loners”. I’ve just discovered the artist with this release, but it certainly seems to be the case: the warm, organic, folky tones of ‘Gazing Light Eternity’ just invite you to get comfortable and drink in its particular brand of misery. A concept album about time, the vibe is great; the plaintive Cascadian melodies of ‘Part I – The Gazer’ giving a depressive feel, noticeably blackened folk influenced but more aggressive and depressive than that suggests. Soulful guitar solos splash amongst the pallette while other instrumentation like flutes and ponderous keys sit delicately over or amidst everything, giving it an otherworldly feel. ‘Part II – The Haze’ turns introspective, nature sounds and vocal samples like “the moment seizes us” flutter over acoustic guitars. To be honest I can often find these parts unnecessary and distracting, but this goes well with the flow and feels rich and vibrant. 

    ‘Part III – The Crown’ plunges more into the depressive vibe; which I should note is fairly unique due to the album’s raw yet warm nature, not often does melancholy music have such an immediate and lush sound overall. It’s a great point of difference and is quite enjoyable. As is this track, my personal favourite; repetition can become boring but here it’s quite successful and becomes transcendental, layered with gentle chanting towards the end. And now we come to my only minor qualm, which is frankly nitpicking but I’ll mention it anyway: Part III, after spending so long successfully lulling you into a trance state, decides to abruptly switch to an (admittedly epic) blasting and solo section to finish up. It’s a little jarring; would it be better served to fade out to the then epic short section, or use it as the intro to the water sounds and peaceful vibe of ‘Part IV – The Hourglass’ that close out the album? Who knows. It’s a minor quibble and still sounds ace the way it is, if slightly odd. All in all it’s a great, enjoyable, strangely comforting release well suited to solitary ruminations, that never overstays its welcome and leaves you wanting more. Which is handy as not only is it getting a tape re-release any day now through the excellent Fólkvangr Records, but the entire Chiral discography of 11 releases is available for download from his Bamdcamp at only €1.50, so pick up a bargain and check the rest of them out. I know I will be.

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    Artist: Chambre Froide

    Year: 2016/17

    And to close out proceedings, an orthodox kvlt smasher. French wraiths Chambre Froide’s debut orthodox ritual ‘Rouges Chapelles’ was originally only self-released on 100 tapes last year but is now getting a digi/vinyl run through Fallen Empire Records, with the digital copies available at name-your-price download from their Bandcamp.

    Their name means ‘cold room’, but this room is not unoccupied. The stench of death lies thick in the air, their aggressive raw onslaught akin to a decaying corpse screaming in your face through the dark, flecks of fetid flesh spattering you in feral rage. Six tracks with enough variety in their buzzsaw attack to keep you coming back for more, you can even hear some welcome punk elements creeping in, which only increases the danger. A great release, snap one up while you can and support. Hails.

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    Submissions for possible inclusion in future Volumes welcomed.

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

    Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com 

    Bandcamp Misanthropy – Vol. 3

    The bottomless wellspring of Bandcamp is overflowing with great shit just waiting to be discovered. This series aims to shine light on the freshest emanations and foulest incantations from its darkest corners, a few artists at a time. Here’s the third installment for your vulgar delectation. Enjoy.

    ~

    Artist: Himelvaruwe

    Year: 2017

    “Involving mysticism, the raging war against predestination and the paradox of dualism”, states Himelvaruwe’s freshly minted Facebook page; and a fascinating dualism is indeed what we are dealing with here. Hailing from the Netherlands and being what appears to be a solo project by the enigmatic ‘T.’, ‘Gewrocht’ is a 12 minute EP of raw, heavily atmospheric black metal… With gentle/haunting choral vocals akin to the ghost of an ancient orthodox church choir or monasterial chant echoing through crumbling halls. The result is captivating and approaches transcendental at times; a very intriguing debut that bodes well for the future. Pick it up at name-your-price download.

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    Artist: Plagues

    Year: 2017

    USBM misanthropists Plagues’ debut album ‘The Great Dark Devotion’ is pure second wave worship with hate filled vocals and some inspired riffing in places that touches upon the dark majesty of Mgła and the like. Which is never a bad thing. Furious and grim. They’ve helpfully chucked some download codes up on their page which may or may not be still active, but hit them up regardless to also score a limited tape/check out their last three name-your-price demos while you’re there, and get infected by the Plagues. Hails.

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    Artist: Pafund

    Year: 2017

    Danish one-man DSBM project Pafund has crafted something special yet slightly odd here: It’s listed as his second album, but it feels like an incredible EP with a live-sounding recording and short tribute to the band Archgoat tacked on the end. The opening two tracks are pure gold: ambient depressive soundscapes with stunning instrumentation, an atmosphere so oppressive and soul draining punctuated by haunting melodies on pan flutes and acoustic guitars. The first and title track ‘Mørkets Afslag’ is twenty three minutes long and is so mesmerising it honestly feels like it passes by in under five. Beautiful, agonizing stuff; before the second track howls from the black heart of the void itself and annihilates you even further. The third track is an at times chaotic recording that given the title and sound may be a live session from November last year, and the short finale staggers and lurches into muffled blasts before ending quickly and you find yourself returning to the first two songs that are more than worth the price of admission alone. If you even remotely dig DSBM or haunting atmospherics/ambiance, lose yourself in Pafund.

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    Artist: Hypnosinosis

    Year: 2017

    Opening with a three minute track of eerie droning, Hypnosinosis like to get you in the mood before unleashing their scathing riffs to tear off your flesh. But the mood doesn’t fade once the punishment starts; it permeates the remainder of the EP’s sick hybrid of second wave and death metal like blue-black claws pulling at your mind, twisting and scrabbling as a depraved insanity seeps in. Aptly titled ‘Delirium’, it’s a killer debut from the Chilean horde that hits the spot and leaves you reeling. Well executed and memorable, check it out. You won’t regret it.

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    Artist: Ovnev

    Year: 2016

    The debut album ‘Cycle of Survival’ from atmospheric one man USBM project Ovnev has been out for about six months now, but I’ve only recently discovered it and it’s a fantastic listen. A concept album about a man that retreats to live a solitary existence in nature and ultimately meets his demise in the mountains, it’s inspired by the artist West’s own experiences; which really shines through and gives the songs a mature, almost reverential feel. This is a man who knows his craft. Beautiful acoustic passages interspersed throughout add gravitas while epic, majestic riffs stir the blood and make you want to disappear into the forest peaks yourself. Up for name-your-price download, pick it up and whet your appetite for his next release, coming soon on the excellent Naturmacht Productions.

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    Artist: Plasmodium

    Year: 2016

    And finally, to cap it all off we have the debut from Australia’s Plasmodium, ‘Entheognosis’. Released amidst the dying embers of last year, this is some seriously weird shit. Undulating psychedelic darkness that’s at times both frantic and sickly, it’s an intense and often discombobulating experience. I’ll let the band describe it: “Plasmodium exists to haunt the thresholds of outer knowledge. By means of our continuing experiments into auditory hallucinations, we have formed a vortex as a Tetrahemihexahedron. From its ghastly blazing eye the sounds of matter and time weep through the untempered schizm. It is by our will and sinew that the corruptive metageometric viral code is granted earthly form. Amidst the howls of silurian reproductive fever there is but one true sound, the audible doctrines of our photoabysmic sacerdotalism. Know that to accept our existence is to open egress to the oubliette, there can be no return or no explanation.” 

    Hails. Cop a digital below, or a limited CD release through Satanath Records and Cimmerian Shade Recordings.

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    Submissions for possible inclusion in future volumes are welcome.

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

    Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com