Label Spotlight – An Interview with C and M of Vinyl Compvlsion




When it comes to personal music consumption it’s an undeniable truth that analogue formats fucking rule. Sure, the fact that you can have a million songs in your pocket wherever you go these days is cool as shit, but there’s a myriad of reasons an ever growing number of people will only accept nothing less than vinyl and/or tapes for their at-home listening pleasure (and if I need to tell you these reasons, I almost feel sorry for you… almost). Vinyl especially has been making a steady ‘comeback’ over the last decade, although for some amongst us it never really went anywhere – those whose record collections number in the thousands, spending far too much money on what could almost be deemed an addiction… those with the Vinyl Compvlsion.

Cheesy as fuck intro aside, the two men that run the label fall firmly into that aforementioned category. This endeavor was borne out of love for the format – Vinyl Compvlsion truly is just fanatics putting out releases for fanatics, and what’s even better is they both have killer taste in black metal. Deitus, Lascar and Tod Huetet Uebel are just a few of the names they’ve given the vinyl treatment to and they’ve even had a hand in getting one of the sleeper hit records of the year out into the world: Höstblod‘s Mörkrets Intâg.

Beginning as hushed whispers in the deepest shadows of the extreme metal record collecting world, the first VC editions were extraordinarily hard to come by. Rumour has it you had to be initiated into a clandestine order to even think about obtaining one of their unique colour schemes and/or limited releases. Well, in spectacularly good news for the common folk, that has slowly changed and these prizes are yours to be found if you look hard enough (and are quick enough – the Tod Huetet Uebel press sold out from their webstore in the blink of an eye earlier this week). I dig the ethos of the label and the two men behind it are fine gentlemen too, so for our next Label Spotlight I’m honoured to have them in for a chat about all things VC. Scroll down, read on, hit up the Bandcamp links to feast your ears on some of the glorious albums they’ve pressed, and go throw them some hails at the official VC store. Definitely a label to watch.


Hello C & M! Sincerest thanks for your time, I love what VC has been up to lately and it’s a pleasure to speak with you. For readers who don’t know (and skimmed over the intro to this article): Vinyl Compvlsion is a relatively new record label that specialises in giving underrated black gems the chance to shine on the best format of all, and their own often-clandestine colour variants that until recently have only been made available to a select few souls. But first, a little about the men behind it all: what drove you both to start such a specialty label?

C: VC was started through a couple of us not following ‘rules’ in another online vinyl community, we set out to have a space where there were as few rules as possible and people could have freedom of expression. Since then, VC established itself organically as a black metal collective and releasing records felt like a natural progression. Nothing like this was really planned, it’s just sort of happened. The first release came about by a few of us wanting to own Deitus – Acta Non Verba” on vinyl and since there was no other label pressing it, we decided to approach Dawnbreed Records and proposed a joint collaboration and it all went from there. We were thrilled to have such a high calibre album as our first release and we will be forever thankful to the man at Dawnbreed that “showed us the ropes”.

M: It was a natural progression, really. We kept coming across bands on platforms like Bandcamp that had released great albums on digital, CD or sometimes on tape… as vinyl junkies, you would instinctively go and search out the vinyl version. More often than not, it just didn’t exist… certainly with bands from the BM underground. Deitus was a prime example. We both knew instantly this was a special band. We discussed the album in great length and I think it was that album that planted the seed to take things further at a much more serious level. I spent months hammering at the Deitus door, I think they thought I was deranged. It was only when C decided to also give them a firm nudge that they realised we were deadly serious. As a label staring up, sometimes the music won’t reach the desired ear because of other factors. We knew we had an audience but what sealed it for us and made it so inspiring was that it featured such an iconic image on the front cover. It resonated with the music so perfectly that as a first release, it was perfect.

Your most recent drop has been the stunning triple threat of Iku-TursoThe Great Tower, AlkymistSpellcraft Ceremony and Tod Huetet UebelMalícia, the biggest unleashing you’ve done to date. Tell us a bit about it; how did it all come about? What are your personal thoughts about each of the albums?

C: Iku-Turso came about through catching M’s ear and he approached and stayed in touch with the band over a period of months. When the time came for band to want it to be pressed on vinyl, they decided to go with VC. We felt it was a great take on the more traditional black metal style and are proud to have this in our catalogue. Alkymist was a long term member of VC and he sent the album through to us to listen to, we thought his take on black metal with a hint of doom provided a great atmosphere and we were impressed with the Ruins of Beverast cover. It felt right to release this on VC and support a long term member. Tod Huetet Uebel – Malicia is an album I personally have loved since I first heard it back in 2015 and I have maintained contact with the band on and off since then. This is a truly special album and the furious drum style mixed with memorable dissonant riffs is a sound that appeals to me. The vocal performance on this album is jaw dropping, as well as it having superb artwork – an all round amazing release.

M: Similar to the Deitus in the way a sound, or note, or a scream can ensnare you… the tracks on Iku-Turso’s The Great Tower just felt so heartfelt and genuine. A record that manages to pull all the great elements of Black Metal into one filthy pot. There are waves of rawness, veiled melody and swirling darkness that just captured my imagination. They uphold the old BM spirits but I think they are utterly relevant within current circles. With Alkymist it was pretty much the superb ROB cover that started the collective nod. Once the sounds of the “Holy Trinity” started to form in our heads, Alkymist felt very much a part of the three. I received a message off C late one night basically saying “We’ve got the Tod Huetet Uebel”. To this day I’m still slightly shocked we are releasing it. It’s a masterclass.

If I’m correct, VC has had four releases to date: DeitusActa Non Verba and these three coming shortly, but aside from that you’ve also been involved with producing stunning variants of Lascar‘s Saudade and the frankly excellent Höstblod debut Mörkrets Intâg. That’s a pretty impressive resume for the label so far. How do you go about choosing which releases to put out next?

C: Even though we have only been going a short amount of time when compared with many other labels, the amount of submissions we receive is very high, so much so that we struggle to listen to everything. I think we go about choosing releases from a “fan’s” point of view, we want to feel passionate about what we release and not just whether we think there is a market for it. Ultimately we look for releases that haven’t been released on vinyl, that we think deserve to be.

M: We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of very creative people. Label owners, bands, artists, vinyl collectors and music enthusiasts. More often than not, some of these projects, they just appear out the mist… crawl out the fog… and bang on the VC door with a bloody hand. Emails and messages fly around for a few days and behold… a new VC project is born. We are being very careful about what we will be releasing in the future but for some projects, they are just written in the stars. We can’t release everything we feel is worthy… so it is very difficult, but we just go with our instincts.

One of the things I love about your releases is the absolute care you put into the presentation. Everything looks simply glorious, with great attention to detail. You can tell you are both genuinely passionate about all this and I know you both have impressive personal collections; is that what drives you to produce finished products of such quality?

C: Since everyone involved in VC is essentially a dedicated vinyl collector, presentation and quality is very important to us. We want to be proud of what we put out and we want the quality of the product to match the quality of the music. The bottom line is we are music fans and want everyone, whether it be the band or consumer, to be impressed with the product. It’s simply pride.

M: We have a pretty tight vision of how things should be. We are not professionals when it comes to design and layout but we make up for it in vision, I think. It’s a work in progress, ideas evolve organically which then seed other ideas and so on. The music dictates the visuals and everything is moulded around that.

I’ve seen recent label art contain the proverb ‘Corvus Oculum Corvi Non Eruit’ – Latin for “a crow will not pull the eye out of another crow”, or perhaps: “honour among thieves”. Has this been adopted as the official motto, and what does it mean in relation to the philosophy or aim of the label?

C: Yes, a quote M introduced and it think it certainly does encompass what we are about. This will certainly feature more on future VC releases and merch, should we decide to do anymore.

M: As C stated… it represents how we think, how we feel and how we conduct ourselves with the bands on the label, the people we work with and the folk who buy our records. Just another example really of how we evolve, how elements are added to the labels brand, spirit and ethos. I think the proverb chose us, not the other way around.

Everything seems to be running beautifully for you, but I know there can be many issues behind the scenes that come with running a label. What do you find the most challenging aspects of the VC label have been so far?

C: We did have some quality control issues with this trio which is why Tod Huetet Uebel has been delayed a month over the other two. I would say the most challenging is timing everything correctly, there are always delays at plants and some plant owners do not take pride in their work or customer service.

M: As C has been the main warrior fighting the dark evils of plant owners, the hardest aspect for me is choosing the next release. What’s even harder is once you have decided on your next masterpiece, you then have the impossible task of convincing the band or artist who created it that VC is the perfect parent to raise it under the sign of the black mark. Thankfully this seems to be getting easier with the arrow of time flying trve and these days, grovelling at band’s Bandcamp doors is a thing of the past. We are now having to plow through band submissions and friendly messages with lots of links to demos… we will always go treasure hunting though. It’s the thrill of the hunt…

Have you put any thought/began machinations into what lies beyond those last three titles yet? Can you give us a hint of what future delights might be hidden up the mystical VC sleeve?

C: We have a release coming up from a French band which will be revealed shortly. Also the LP version of Deitus’ Via Dolorosa which we are very proud to be involved with, it’s a monster!

M: We’d been very clear and honest with Deitus, they knew we genuinely loved their debut and we just wanted to be a stepping for them… we felt that at some point in the future they would need a bigger label to fulfill their potential. I think it says a lot about the trust and respect Deitus have for us and how far VC has come that they have decided for their next release that VC is still the place to be. The new album is huge on many fronts. It is everything and more. It has another incredibly strong album cover again so i think we are going to have some fun with this one. It will be very special.

Dream time now: Is there any album (or even discography) in particular, from any point in history, that you would just love to get your hands on and give the VC treatment?

C: …

M: In total dream world, I would love to release a new Owls Blood LP… for many reasons, some more obvious than others, that will never happen. Dead Section Records was a special label for us and inspired us on many levels to pursue this path that we now find ourselves on, and the Owls Blood releases were pretty much the reason C and I got together, which led us to form the group and label. A very special band.

And finally, here’s something I have to ask because I know it’s the question on everybody’s lips: For the first couple of releases, without the requisite obscure arcane knowledge it was nigh on impossible for one get their hands on a copy of the mythical, limited VC editions. They are slightly easier to obtain now… How do the general public score one of these rarities?

C: Keep an eye on the Facebook label page.

M: Take a walk in a forest in the dead of night, turn left at the old well… then follow the stream to the clearing. The moon will reveal an ancient pagan altar. There will be a spade. We will meet you there. Tell no one.

Sincerest thanks once again for your time, C and M. Any final words?

M: Many thanks for the support! Carpe noctem!

(PSA – The final few copies of the limited VC variants of Alkymist and Iku-turso are still available in the web store at time of writing… be quick.)


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Unsettling Vibrations – An Interview with ‘N’ of Unpleasant Records

UNPLEASANT: /ʌnˈplɛz(ə)nt/


causing discomfort, unhappiness, or revulsion; disagreeable.


Continuing the theme of great underground labels in this run of BMD Label Spotlights, today we have an excellent newcomer that deserves your unwavering attention: the Chilean Unpleasant Records. Only active for a year thus far, the label does exactly what a good label should – dig up the best artists from deep in the caverns of musical obscurity (some of these artists have no social media pages or much online presence at all) and drag them into the sunlight for the world to appreciate.

It’s also run by none other than the enigmatic N from Chilean/Venezuelan black masters Selbst, who took the time to sit down with us and chat about all things Unpleasant. But before we get to that, let’s have a quick look at the label’s first triptych of killer cassette releases:


First, FOSA. Demo MMXVI was originally recorded in 2016 and this nihilistic carnage definitely deserved a revisit. Punishing, relentless crusty black fury with crushing tones meets a deep, deceptive melodicism and even a sliver of slithering dissonance and black noise; all capped off with hellish, proselytizing vocals and riffs that could crack open the earth, this celebration of all things negative is a winner from start to finish. Seriously, every track is incredible and the raw power in their sound is immense. I really fucking love this demo, and I’m shattered that by the time I discovered Unpleasant Records I’d already missed this tape. Jump on this at name-your-price download… while crossing your fingers for a repress. Oh, and it’s their only release of their four year existence, too. Perhaps it’s time for a full-length?


I did, however, manage to grab a tape copy of both of these next two releases, the first of which is Nox Desperatio‘s austere debut album Anima Veritas Vita Morte. This duo summon raw, enflamed black metal done the old way, emanating esotericism and hatred from the shadows to drain you of all life. Some welcome depressive elements pop up here and there but overall this is nothing but old-school obscurity with no frills and no fucking about; just the way it should be. Name-your-price download and tapes are still available. Prepare thyself, for darkness and despair falleth over the Earth.


And finally, Moriturio‘s Luminatione Exaltat Serpens – nothing but pure black metal. The songwriting shines through on this one, dark tension and ancient glory oozing from the tremolo-heavy compositions while the vocalist shrieks like a creature of the night. As N says below, these few tracks comprise all of their recorded material and might very well be their swansong; which, if true, is a crying shame as the atmosphere and energy they summon is something special. Raise your claws to the moon, grab a free download and/or buy a tape of this now before they all sell out – then read on below for our chat with main man N.


Greetings N! It’s great to speak with you today. Some people may know you from Venezuelan/Chilean project Selbst, but you also run a label, Unpleasant Records! So, let’s start with the intent behind the label. If Unpleasant Records had a mission statement, what would it be?

N: The one of giving to know dark and terrible gems. Unpleasant, for the majority. Of black metal and related music in general, that only those who are prepared to receive in their hearts would listen and comprehend properly…

Hails. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the label has been active for about a year now; what made you finally decide to start it up?

N: For a long time I wanted to start in this, nothing ambitious but dedicated! I wanted to give an opportunity to bands that were looking to start and acquire a physical release to begin showing their work and to give them some support.

Especially thinking about good bands from my country, Venezuela (which are really, really few).

Well, I know one great band from Venezuela. As mentioned, you’re also a member of Selbst and I’m sure have many, many other things that also keep you busy. How do you find balance between your art, life and your label?

N: Sometimes I can hardly find a balance, I am a natural procrastinator… but beyond this, I am someone very null, a normal work-home-etc guy. I’m not into partying a lot, I’m a bit bitter in that aspect. This year I had another issue that I also had secretly between my eyes and for a long time, and that is playing live with SELBST. About that, it has been a bit year moved.

Unpleasant Records’ first three releases are: Fosa’s Demo MMXVI, Nox Desperatio’s Anima Veritas Vita Morte, and Luminatione Exaltat Serpens by Moriturio. Can you tell us a little of your personal feelings about each one?

N: Let’s see…

FOSA was a revelation for me. I loved their demo and their 100% nihilistic and anti-showbiz-egocentric attitude (a rare occurrence in the Chilean scene). They go against everything and everyone. It is a band with true attitude, created by true nihilists and fucked-up people. For me it was an honor to give them this little support. Besides, their songs were sung in SPANISH!!!

NOX DESPERATIO is very important for me because they are from Venezuela. Anima Veritas Vita Morte is a work with composition quality, totally sung in Spanish as well, and done in a masterly way! This is always a difficult language to work with for metal music, especially in black metal, but it seems that it flows naturally. Also, the people involved in this project are super talented and dedicated to black metal. They have sacrificed a lot, and still do, even with all the crap situation that my country is currently experiencing. That is not a little amount.

Finally, MORITURIO is one of my favourite and best-achieved black metal acts from my country. Unfortunately, they don’t have a wide or constant discography; this work feels like a goodbye (maybe?) for a great project that many people out there should know. Also sung in Spanish, although inspired in my opinion by the typical black metal like Sargeist, etc. it has an original and frightening touch. Catchy and deeply, extremely atmospheric riffs.

I hope to get more works like those in the future!

So far, you have released all three of those albums on cassette. What is the appeal of this format to you? Is this your preferred listening format, and do you have any plans to branch out into vinyl or CD for future releases?

N: I would LOVE to release vinyl formats in the future. But I’m working with cassette tapes now for several reasons. On one hand for a matter of costs, it’s much easier to start up. Also because it is a format I like; it is small, and it facilitates storage and shipping.

I like to buy cassette releases from bands and labels. Like vinyl, it has that classic touch that the CD does not have, and much less a digital download…

I agree, analog for life. Also of note: all three albums have been pressed in limitations of 50. Are you open to the idea of represses, or is it going to be a one-time-only sort of deal? What do you think about each option, which appeals to you more?

N: Of course, I’m totally open to reissues, but as you can notice, I am a normal person who wanted to start a independent small label with short editions. It was like a experiment. Therefore, if everything goes well, I could make more copies if necessary. One learns on the fly…

You should reissue FOSA so I can order a tape, haha. Anyway I hope it goes well – the releases are amazing. Some labels end up with quite an eclectic roster releasing a variety of genres, will Unpleasant Records take this path? How do you decide which bands or artists to release on the label?

N: I would like to, as long as it’s something unpleasant! Haha. The truth is I have little time and, mainly, I release projects of people more or less close to whom I want to support.

Especially, as mentioned before, bands from my country with a brutal sound, that touch my fibers, will have an advantage for me.

Is it only yourself that runs the label at the moment? If so, would you ever take on any help?

N: I took this decision on a personal basis, so I prefer to work and keep it like this. Even when some extra monetary help is always welcome, I prefer to take longer and do it on my own, to be able to work freely in any way I want, without waiting for second opinions from anyone!

The best way. Something that I guess many readers will want to know: Are you accepting demos?

N: Yes, although I have already planned the next releases for 2019. But you know, even so, my humble door is open for any not-shitty proposal!

Be prepared for an influx of shitty demos, haha. Now, I notice Unpleasant Records also acts as a distro. Are you open to trades with other labels?

N: Trades are, definitely, an important part in the underground! It helps the band, it helps the label, and even helps with promotion I think. You will not always get something good, but it will help you to promote unknown bands and keep the interest of potential buyers alive in the material that you bring constantly to your distro. Apart from strengthening ties and making contacts or some shit like that.

Given that the label is fairly new, you might be in a good position to answer this, as I’m sure you’ve come across at least a few problems: Do you have any advice for those aspiring to start their own label?

N: I can only say that if you want to make a living from this, you better get away. This is something that is done for the sake of Art. With passion and dedication. You can always recover, in some way, what you invest; but it is not likely to make you a millionaire haha.

Simply do it! And convince yourself to not worry about money. If you find music created with the soul, with approach, then support it and work hard in the promotion of it and it will find, for sure, a place in this world’s shitty metal scene with a lot of fucking bands coming out every day. That’s very important!

And finally – Everything you’ve released so far is superb. Can you drop us a hint of any future black gold you have lined up?

N: I can tell you now that I am working on a tape reissue of the second album of the Chileans ANIMUS MORTIS, and the second full-length of NOX DESPERATIO!

Two impeccable works!!!

Nice. Okay, I lied about that being the last question. While I’ve got you here, I’m going to sneak in a quick one regarding Selbst, as I fucking love Selbst: You’ve just released Secular Compendium – a remastered compilation of your demo and splits, which is excellent but serves to whet the appetite for more. So… any news on a new release?

N: For the moment I can only say I’m working on the next full album. But like the first one, I’ll take it easy, I want something worthy of showing!

But before that, next year will see to light the vinyl edition of my beloved “SELBST”! And more live performances as well…

Excellent, I can’t fucking wait. Sincerest thanks for your time, N. Any final words?

N: Many thanks to you for your interest in UNPLEASANT RECORDS and SELBST!

And don’t forget folks, “Without drugs, life would be a mistake”… Or was it music?


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Impure Sounds Mini Label Spotlight: Ploughshare and Dødknell

“Impure Sounds is an Australian label & promoter established to honour misanthropy and darkness through musical and artistic rituals.”


It’s an undeniable fact that underground labels rule, and Impure Sounds definitely rules harder than most. Silently brewing horrifying creatures in the humid Australian gloom before setting them free on whichever format is most fitting to inflict maximum havok upon the world, it’s co-owned by the twin demons of Richard McMaster and Brock George. But releasing top notch black/death annihilation is not all these tireless men get up to – the label is also a recording studio, they make frequent forays into the red glow of night by putting on killer shows like the recent Malign Rites Festival (that featured obliterating sets from Aura Noir, Heresiarch, Grave Upheaval, Denouncement Pyre, Ruins, Graveir, Mar Mortuum and more)… and if that isn’t enough they both play in several bands and Brock somehow also finds time to ply his trade as a skilled luthier, building ultimate quality custom guitars (check out Brock Guitars here).

They put a lot into the Australian extreme music realm and I’m a huge fan of what they do, so given that they have a couple of great new releases out about now I’ve compiled them into a long overdue (albeit mini) label spotlight. Check these out and then dig back over their roster; if you’re a connosieur of the subterranean, you’ll seldom find better. Total support.


Alright. Want to know a delicious recipe for sonic destruction? Take one part black metal, one part death, a handful of tasty dissonance and a few grams of pure loathing. Add a pinch of orthodoxy then chop it all up, mince it through a meat grinder. Bake with a blowtorch for as long as you see fit, garnish with some bodily fluids and voilà – you now have the depraved new album from lovely Australian lads Ploughshare.

Following on from the impressive/oppressive filth of debut record Literature Of Piss, fresh expulsion In Offal, Salvation vaguely continues their themes of the sacred and perversely profane. They portray carnal filth in a spiritual sense; evocative track names like Flesh Cleft Upon Writhing Altars, The Urinary Chalice Held Aloft or Nature’s Divinity Through Defilement not only aptly illustrate these themes but also provide wonderfully grotesque mental imagery to accompany the music.

And, the music. The fucking music. Opener Carnal Revelation Unfolding sets the unsettling tone with tortured, disembodied screams and noise swells… and then you’re off. Off on an oddly unique trip through religious fervour and filth; punishing compositions creating tense and unusual structures whilst the vox shriek and bellow, each member taking a turn proselytizing the word of the indomitable Ploughshare. Yes, all four members lend their throat to proceedings which imbues an even more harrowing feel to the tracks – coupled with some seriously fucked-out effects, they quite literally sound like inhuman beasts on occasion. Brutal death riffs offset unnerving tremolo leads and a triptych of noise sections scattered throughout adds another layer of disturbing bleakness. One of which works as a perfect segue betwixt two foul movements, another with dialogue samples adding to the albums disconcerting narrative and vibe… a vibe that’s unlike much you’ll have heard before.

Self recorded and mixed, the whole thing sounds incredible and will no doubt come up even better on the vinyl that was recently unleashed – and as the icing on the cake, Impure Sounds has also seen fit to release their wretched debut on LP too (check it here), so take the plunge and dive headlong into some some Piss and Offal while you can. I promise you won’t regret it.


Next up: holy fuck. I’ve no idea who is behind one man Australian wrecking machine Dødknell but he’s probably smart to keep his identity secret when he vomits forth black encrusted carnage like his latest EP K.I.L.L. His debut album (aptly entitled Hatred Absolute) was a savage beast that not nearly enough people paid attention to – I’m quietly hoping that will change this time around, as this malignant little cancer in the heart of black metal is nothing short of utterly fucking lethal.

Absolutely no time is pissed away on the wind as Hammer Of Hate proves itself to be exactly that, the track (available for streaming below) bursting to life in an aggressive squeal as the drums/everything proceeds to bash your skull in repeatedly before then flipping on a dime and switching seamlessly into a galloping glory ride through the pungent miasma of hell. Incendiary vocals tear through the cacophony, spitting venom and bile on us pitiful human worms that writhe underneath, making us feel like we deserve it. Hostile, primitive riffage hacks and slashes making devastating use of a rancorous and violent tone (and killer solo to boot – always enjoyable).

As old school as your 28 year old pair of gig boots, it’s high energy, physical stuff that doesn’t slow down one iota as grimy centrepiece ANTIFVCK is not only insane, but is also hands down my pick of the three. Opening with a tasteful “C’mon!” and “Ugh!” before the shit really hits the fan, the vocals somehow reach all new levels of torment and roaring hatred as the dynamics of the track hook you in like black claws in your flesh; you can almost see the blood flying everywhere in thick crimson spurts as the music reaches diabolical crescendo. Raped Silent Chanting then closes proceedings with a venomous punkish attack on all things living, reveling in a complete disgust of life. “I can’t take this anymore” he howls, and you fucking believe him.

I remember reading a write up for Mayhem‘s Ordo Ad Chao that said if you played the album next to a plant, the plant would die. Well, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that phenomenon occurred here – the sheer malevolence inherent in this virulent stab at humanity could make any living thing wither away into a charred husk. If you like your black metal visceral and aggressive with no pussy shit to be seen, you can get your twitching hands on a digital/super limited tape on 16th November; so climb over the growing pile of corpses and fucking K.I.L.L.


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Double Label Spotlight – Eisenwald/Haeresis Noviomagi: Solar Temple, Iskandr and Fluisteraars/Turia

Today is a special day for those of us that appreciate the more eclectic side that black metal has to offer. Yes, we are fortunate bastards indeed. Why? Because a triptych of exquisite Dutch magic has just dropped through killer labels Haeresis Noviomagi and Eisenwald Tonschmiede; Iskandr‘s Euprosopon, Solar Temple‘s Fertile Descent, and the stunning conceptual split from Fluisteraars / Turia entitled De Oord.

The astonishing thing about this is that all three releases are likely to end up somewhere on the BMD end of year lists. Quite the feat, and one that seems all the more remarkable when you realise that all three projects, although each with their own unique properties, are connected by two Dutch men: The enigmatic M (Solar Temple, Fluisteraars) and O (Iskandr, Solar Temple, Turia).

As previously mentioned all three of these are releasing through a stunning dyad of labels, too: purveyor of subterranean gems (and the Dutch collective under which these projects all create their art) Haeresis Noviomagi is handling the tapes, whilst the esteemed Eisenwald Tonschmiede is taking care of CD and vinyl. If you want to snap up a copy of these I’d jump on it post-haste as these are sure to go soon; so without further unnecessary words, let us take a quick look at this triumvirate of glory. Hails.


First up is Solar Temple‘s transcendental debut album Fertile Descent. Building on the promise shown by their 2017 demo and transforming into something from a higher plane, over the course of two lengthy experimental tracks the duo of M and O go to places you probably wouldn’t be expecting. Or, given the location of it’s members, perhaps you would.

Clean, almost chanted vocals accentuate an esoteric, uniquely atmospheric and somewhat indescribable vibe that (typical of so many luminary acts in the Dutch scene) hurls the rule book right out the window and seems to borrow as much from old psyche-rock or Swans-esque madness as it does surging, smouldering black metal. With trancelike, mind-expanding tendencies and a psychotomimetic production that only enhances the overall effect, you can easily listen to this on repeat for hours on end (and I have).

A superb debut. Do not miss.


Next up: the more traditional black flame of Iskandr‘s Euprosopon. Well, more traditional when compared to the other two releases covered here but this heathen slab of carved onyx glory still posesses enough progressive structure and noble blood to stand head and shoulders above most other black metal art released this year.

Seriously, pardon my verbosity and pretentious magniloquence but the sophomore album of main man O‘s solo project can only be described as some fucking stunning shit. Regnum alone is worth five times the price of admission, all the way from its ominous opening tones to the beautiful solemnity of the acoustic final movement, while the yearning surge and regal flow of Verban is borderline rapturous… and I won’t even mention the ultimate majesty of closer Heriwalt.

The album’s title apparently expresses “the impossibility of the ideal man”, but with Euprosopon, Iskandr have come dangerously close to the very real possibility of an ideal contemporary black metal album. Expect many end of year list appearances with this one.


Finally, we close this circle with the excellent conceptual split from Fluisteraars and Turia, De Oord. The rough translation of that name is “where two rivers meet”, which makes sense because each of the two projects has based their track upon a major river that flows through their respective hometowns; the Rhine for Fluisteraars, the Waal for Turia.

Fluisteraars take the lead and when the first drum groove and downpicked riff of offering Oeverloos first bursts from your speakers if you’ve just come from listening to Iskandr you could be forgiven for doing a double take to check that you hadn’t accidentally clicked on some alternative indie rock band or something. Although that’s a rather trite first impression and not meant to be taken entirely seriously, it does inform the rest of the track, to a degree; in interpreting the properties of their great river they have created the “brightest” thing they’ve ever done. Comparatively sunny melodies that invite relaxation and calm, a different vocal style than the norm… it’s certainly not what we’re used to from them, but as it unfolds over the almost 15 minute runtime it’s still undeniably enjoyable in every way.

Turia on the other hand, do what they do best with Aan Den Golven der Aarde Geofferd; summon a furious torrent of compelling black rage and awe. The track swirls and flows, one minute tense and the next a stream of rushing visceral consciousness, always in constant motion until the reflective and overwhelming emotional collapse of the conclusion. After their earlier split with Vilkacis, have Turia pulled off an astounding coup and taken part in yet another of the top splits of the year? The answer can only be a resounding yes.


All releases available for order now from Eisenwald here and Haeresis Noviomagi here, released on 28th September.


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Wolfspell Records – ‘Autumnal Equinox’ Label Spotlight

The excellent people behind Polish label Wolfspell Records‘ star has been on the rise of late, with seemingly everything they put their seal on being of the utmost quality for those among us whose souls are enraptured by the more atmospheric-leaning variations of this multifarious sub-genre we all know and love. With a firm belief in championing the underground, they consistently emit a steady stream of gems dug up from across the globe and seeing as they have a bunch of new esoteric conjurations materialising tomorrow (23rd September) in celebration of the Autumnal Equinox, I thought I’d collate all the ones that have landed in the BMD inbox into a quick but well-deserved Label Spotlight. So heed the lupine call of the moon, prepare thy wallet for a traumatic experience and dive headlong into the raging flame and shimmering, ethereal beauty below. Hails.


Artist: Höstblod

Kicking things off we have one of the more astonishing debuts I’ve heard in recent memory, and one that should also be very familiar to regular readers. Swedish one man project Höstblod dropped Mörkrets Intåg a few months ago on vinyl and digital, and now Wolfspell has stepped up to the plate to continue the Höstblod world domination with a CD release.

For those not yet in the know: this is a truly remarkable album. Created during the process of composer Johan‘s mother sadly passing of dementia, the textures and moods on display here are nothing short of breathtaking as he weaves searing black metal, neofolk, ambient pieces and much more into something truly unique and utterly personal. He isn’t making this music for you. He’s making it solely for himself, and you as the listener are privileged to be able to bear witness.

For a deeper look at the album and to hear Johan himself speak about it you can read our interview with him here. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, spend some quiet time with Mörkrets Intåg. You won’t regret it.


Artist: Graveborne

Next, some black destruction based on the Finnish Civil War of 1918. Basically veterans of the scene by now, Graveborne have been summoning their blasphemic blitzkrieg for over ten years and if you think they’re going to give up the ghost in any way, shape or form; you’re sadly mistaken.

However, this is a slightly different Graveborne. Bursting from foul catafalque anew, here with third album 1918 they have a fresh purpose: to tell a story. Depicting the conflict in Finland 1918 when the country became an independent state seems to help them focus. The blasts are employed more sparingly (but still there, to devastating effect), the writing increasingly adventurous yet tighter and nuanced, the songs and the album itself more dynamic. It works well for them, instead of coming off as a second wave worship act they’re forging their own sound and knocking it out of the park. Oh and it’s probably their best production, too.

On 1918 the Graveborne cult have proven emphatically that their flame shows no signs of dimming anytime soon and they’re only going from creative strength to strength. Give it a listen. Total support. Hails.


Artist: Mourning By Morning

Okay, I have to be honest: I was almost turned away by the name on this one (especially when I read “Mourning By Morning, by Mourning By Morning“… my brain is far too old and advanced into early-onset elderly-persons disease for that sort of shit). This, as it turns out, would have been a grave error as the one man project’s eponymous debut album is a wonderful blitz of surging, highly melodic atmospheric post-black goodness.

Sole member Sörjande has been toiling away for a couple of years now, releasing the odd track here and there, perfecting his craft. And go a long way towards perfecting it he has; you can tell he’s absolutely dying to get this release out there when you listen to the work and care that has gone into it. Blistering, well programmed drums and his hyper-melodic riffs offset against affecting, almost uplifting atmospherics; there’s a lot of variety here but no elements are just thrown together. Every note is carefully placed, nothing is wasted. The album as a whole is also quite artfully composed, building through a compelling journey until we reach the ultimate destination in final track Wintertide, a spectacular nine-minute piece worth the price of admission alone and one that also makes me wonder why he didn’t just name the entire album Wintertide. It’s seriously that good.

I usually don’t often find myself seeking out fare this pleasant to listen to, but I’m glad I heard this and I like it more each time I spin it. A definite grower and a great debut from a project that will only continue to improve.


Artist: Daagh

Cold atmospherics from the frozen shores of Norway. Daagh originally released this debut five track EP (imaginatively titled ‘EP‘) back in March; this is another that Wolfspell has snapped up for a CD release, but this also has the good fortune of scoring a limited tape issue too.

I don’t know much about this project other than it consists of just one person; mystery surrounds it like the impenetrable mists and blizzards of the Nordic winter (as aptly depicted on the neat cover art). What it does clearly boast is a great, tempered sound with just the right amount of icy distortion, and killer unhurried songs that slowly emanate the strength needed to elevate this mournful fare to the frozen mountain peaks above, it’s a great EP but it really clicks at the halfway mark with the irrepressible riffs of 03 (the five tracks are all named numerically, 0105). From then it’s on a whole new level; one that you’ll want to immerse yourself in again and again.

Aside from Höstblod this may be my favourite of this Autumnal Equinox drop, I love this type of icy, morose Norwegian art. Top marks for a debut EP.


Artist: Runeshard

As you could probably guess from the cover art alone, bombastic Hungarian project Runeshard plays over-the-top epic/power/black metal that tells tall tales of swordmasters and sorcerers exclusively.

Dreaming Spire, the debut EP from main man Bálint and his guest vocalist Alethiuz (of Zel Agganor), is… something else. I don’t listen to nearly enough power metal to make an accurate and informed comparison but this really does sound as if an epic black metal band joined forces with one of the more shred-happy power metal acts to write tracks inspired by video game soundtracks. It’s not poorly done either; as a few young projects that attempt high levels of fantasy drama can attest to it’s far too easy for something like this to collapse under the weight of its own cheese when the musical and technical ability of the artist is weak, but this soars high on the wings of dragons. This man knows how to conjure some ripping melodies, and holds it all together with dextrous ease.

Four tracks and an introduction create an electric and majestic experience that undoubtedly won’t be for everyone, but it is some serious fun, so drop that “kvlt-er than thou” facade, nerd-boy and give it a shot. I for one am keen to see what he can do with a full-length.


Artist: Hermóðr

And last but by no means least, a compilation of two recent EP’s from Swedish solo project Hermóðr. I’m quietly pleased that this compilation CD is being released, as for me the Rovdjur and Northern Might EP’s represented Rafn‘s best work since Hädanfärd.

If you’re not familiar with the prolific project (I believe this to be his 36th release since 2012, give or take) and it’s Burzum-esque trance-inducing atmospheres then this is as good a place to start as any. The Rovdjur EP is a heavy dose of repeating melancholic vibes, swirling in beautiful depression; whilst Northern Might is similar but takes off in a different, more blackthrash direction (wait for it, trust me).

Remarkably consistent as he slowly tweaks his sound with each release while staying true to his core every time, if you’re in the mood for some natural, introspective atmospheric beauty you really can’t go wrong with Hermóðr. I’ll likely also be picking up a copy of this and he has shirts available too, for those so inclined.


All releases available for order on 23rd September.


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Label Spotlight: Solar Asceticists Productions

~ Analogic Occult Editions for Transgressive and Nihilist Souls ~

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you really should check out what’s going on over at mystical French underground tape label Solar Aesceticists Productions. You know how it’s nice to see a little extra effort put into the packaging or presentation of a release, how a personal touch or extra something special can really show the passion behind it and/or help with immersion into the art? Well, Solar Asceticists Productions take this very seriously and label head Carl Neomalthusian is a modern day alchemist, injecting an almost unforseen level of care and ritualism into his work.

Originally launched in 2015 as Mithra! Infrasound, an offshoot of Mithra Templezine before rebranding autonomously shortly after, the label has now had fourteen cassette releases to its name and the large majority have had the option of a unique ‘limited edition’ version available for purchase. These rare editions have contained multiple intricate ingredients and artefacts such as crushed bone powder, hallucinogenic substances, ritual incenses, Icelandic green moss and various handmade art pieces, to name just a few. This hasn’t been a mere gimmick, either; each special package is meticulously constructed and compiled by Carl with the artist’s work front of mind, totally complementing it and enhancing the overall experience.

And that’s not mentioning the roster. Carefully curated to contain only the finest of experimental, abyssal and transcendental sound; you’re sure to find something to your taste no matter what your preferred flavour of aural depravity. Read on and listen deeply as for our next Label Spotlight we sample four of the most recent black manifestations from this very underrated bastion of exquisite darkness. Hails.


Artist: Abyssal Vacuum

Year: 2018

We’ll open proceedings with some French wretchedness from Abyssal Vacuum, and that’s a suitable name if I’ve ever heard one. The solo project of guitarist and throatsman Sebastien from Ominous Shrine, debut three-track album ‘MMXVII’ is a powerhouse of occult cavernous black with deathlike physicality; an otherworldly carnage, primitive, yet like nothing seen on earth.

Each of the numerically titled tracks on offer grabs and undeniably moves you through the use of great morbid riffage (unsurprisingly, given his killer work in Ominous Shrine) and driving percussion, but it’s all thrown gloriously off-kilter with just the right amount of reverb and atonality perfectly creating a negative vortex of swirling atmospheric unease.

As you traverse the alien landscape of the album it only becomes even more mesmerising and unsettling; such as the entrancing tremolo underpinned by ponderous bass thrums in the excellent ‘II’, or the chilling final section of ‘III’ before it fades out and returns to the sound of water leaking down from hell knows where, full-circle with the opening ambience of the journey and complete with the terrifying realisation that no matter how far you traverse its endless expanses you’re trapped somewhere in a pitch black subterranean tomb, your death imminent, your fate sealed.

Plumbing depths of unnameable cosmic horrors and seething menace, it’s a truly great first conjuration from the project and I sincerely hope we hear more soon. Available now for name-your-price download or pre-orderable in a special “Troglodytic White Remains” edition cassette package; containing a white velvet sigil-printed pouch, white printed tape, white “Benjoin Blanc” natural incense in rock form and three special art cards created with photos taken in ancient occitanian caves. Superb.


Artist: Cendres

Year: 2017

‘Schattengestalt’ (“Shadow”), the second demo from enigmatic French act Cendres (“Ashes”), is horrifying from the very start. Based on themes of the underworld, the instant you press play it seemingly opens a portal to hell and the resulting next seventeen minutes is the hypnotic and disturbing sound of various demons or inhuman entities inexorably dragging their way into this reality. Or perhaps, dragging your consciousness back into theirs.

Originally self-released in miniscule quantity back in 2015 but now receiving the treatment and hopefully wider attention it deserves, this is a wonderful hidden gem that will affect you in all the wrong (read: very right) ways. Hellish screams and psychotic descending motifs initially throw you off balance, setting the tone admirably before the “Ambient Psychedelic Black Metal” kicks first track ‘Schattengestalt I’ into gear. Powerful repeating riffs surge through a deliciously lo-fi muffled drone, dread oozing from your speakers as vocal emissions strangulated from tormented subdimensions rake down your spine. Experimental it may be but this is cult shit, no fucking around. The track eventually builds and mutates into a completely destroying, all-consuming industrial churn; and for an almost ten minute song feels like it’s over all too quickly.

After that assault on the tenuous strands holding your mind together, they move it up another notch with ‘Schattengestalt II’. A brief few seconds of the best horror synths heard in a while heralds the coming of some of the most queasiness-inducing dissonant rawness I’ve experienced so far this year. The vibe is altogether more menacing on part II and the two tracks work together well, complementing each other and becoming a single warped composition.

Sadly, the “Sleep Paralysis” special edition is sold out but it came packaged with a raw textile pouch, a unique handmade charcoal drawing representing visions during sleep paralysis, and a small quantity of Salvia Divinorium so you could experience the hypnagogic hallucinations in the correct state of mind, all portals fully opened. Name-your-price digital and precious few standard edition tape copies still available; grab one before they disappear forever.


Artist: Hyrgal

Year: 2017

Every time I listen to the debut full-length from French heathens Hyrgal, it unfolds another layer of itself to me. Exposing new whispered intricacies and nuances hidden in the howling fury with every journey through its emotive passages, this release is the dark flower of this article; slowly opening and revealing the depth of its scent and affecting beauty over time.

And while I know I haven’t had nearly enough time yet to absorb everything this release has to offer, the trio of gentlemen responsible for it probably have. Originally active for a few years from ’07 – ’10 that only bore one split as a solitary fruit, they reactivated in 2016 with a renewed purpose and lineup now consisting of members and ex-members of Pillars, Svart Crown, Karne and Marble Crown to record the long overdue full-length ‘Serpentine’.

A well rounded album with a myriad of influences and textures swirling throughout, at first glance it appears a mere Cascadian style but there are many other forces at play here. The heavy rhythm guitars and layering create a rushing, powerful density; combine this with the great basswork and there’s often a low ominous wind that blows throughout this release like death over the fields. The use of bleak, irresistibly ensnaring melody is absolutely top notch in each of the five songs and two instrumental compositions. Tracks like my personal favourite ‘Représailles’ can lift you away akin to the throes of a symphony while ‘Aux Diktats de l’Instinct’ has hints of punkish aggression, and the dynamic final act ‘Etrusca Disciplina’ is simply sublime. You’ll be taken places from which you won’t want to return.

The album is also available on CD and vinyl from Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions and Naturmacht Productions, but the special handcrafted “Mount Blue Pine” cassette edition available here is where it’s at. Coming lovingly packaged with a raw Eco-Textile hand-printed textile pouch, a clockworked French Army insign and some handmade incense; there’s just five copies left so don’t hesitate to own this beautiful piece of art.

With every track on here a winner, this is an album with many secrets to tell. Let it speak.


Artist: Adherent

Year: 2017

And the final piece we’ll check out today is ‘Demo MXVIII’, the first release from US raw black project Adherent. Released back in October, it’s also listed on Metal Archives as ‘Tranquility’. Now, tranquility might seem an odd quality to attach to a raw black metal release at first, but listen through and it will all make sense.

If the title, or the introductory piece ‘Intro / Dreams in the Etherial Forest’ with its almost 7 minutes of gently austere synths doesn’t give it away, the fact that the next 5 tracks are also titled ‘Tranquility I-V’ may give you a hint that the rawness on offer here is of the somewhat transcendent variety. Not quite Black Cilice levels of carrying you away on swathes of ritually intoned distortion, don’t let that mislead you (the press release names Drowning The Light and Abyssic Hate as comparable sounds, which is also true); but it’s definitely playing in roughly the same ballpark and oozes a similar solemn black majesty from its compositions at times. Great stuff, and when you finish traversing the epic misanthropic depths of all the ‘Tranquility’ tracks the album has one last surprise in store: the final piece is a cover of a cut from a certain longstanding and controversial US “cult horde”. But I’ll leave you to unearth that mystery alone.

One of the few releases on the label that didn’t come with a special edition of arcane artifacts, it’s still very worth your time regardless. Unfortunately sold out of limited transparent blue tapes, support with a name-your-price download below and do yourself a favour: keep an eye out for all future Solar Asceticists Productions releases. You won’t regret it. Hails.


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Satanath Records & Grimm Distribution Label Spotlight

In our second spotlight it’s time to amplify the emanations of another label doing some great shit under many people’s radars, and why not make it two this time: Lethal subterranean killers Satanath Records and their partner in malevolent machinations, Grimm Distribution.

Satanath is based in Russia while Grimm Distribution is in Belarus; and although they both drag some truly unique and varied sounds up from the deep underground Grimm has the far more eclectic of the two rosters, working way outside the spectrum of black metal. In keeping with the general theme of this site we’ll stick to the BM releases, however; for the more open minded among you I highly recommend checking out the rest of their artists. You’ll unearth some great, unique and, at the very least, interesting stuff.

First up, Satanath Records. They’ve been doing their thing since 2012 and have put out close to 200 albums. It’s owned and ran by Aleksey K who has his own dark space ambient/electronic project entitled Satanath (that you can check out here) and says of the label “All metal genres welcome in our satanic horror house“. So, without further ado, let us enter and bear witness to the blackened nightmares that await within the blood-drenched halls of the house of Satanath.


Artist: Inhibitions

Year: 2018

Kicking off with a quick glimpse of some forthcoming Hellenic black metal, Inhibitions have been drawing down the night since 2008 and ‘La Danse Macabre’ marks their third full-length ritual manifestation. One track is available for free download/streaming on Bandcamp now: ‘The Calling’ starts off with some severely skin-crawling shit before launching into a lurching, gothic-piano-twinkling black metal blast. There’s something arcane and hidden about this particular track, an unspeakable evil lurking just out of view that makes you doubt your sanity and fills you with fear. So heed the call and join the dance; full album out January 13th next year and if the rest of it matches up to this, it could be a good one.


Artist: Enoquian

Year: 2017

Next up with just the right level of black destruction (and a sweet name and logo to boot), are the mysterious Argentinian demons Enoquian. They formed in 2015 and have no prior releases to their name bar this debut album ‘Llamas de Gloria Primera’. Which explains why they’ve never crossed my path before now.

A brief moment of chilling ambience sets the tone before the fury kicks in. This is raw unbridled black metal, stripped back and caustic. Some thrashy or death influences creep in through a side window to fuck up your shit when you least expect it, but overall throughout the album they stick to the same formula: a short ambient intro, then unleash the hounds of hell. Which, surprisingly and to their credit, doesn’t get old. There’s enough variety in the tunes to keep each song fresh, and some of the introductions create a genuine horror vibe that only enhances the grimness that follows.

Good throat-shredding vocals cap it all off and the production is kept just on the right side of kvlt; although I’d love to hear what these tracks sound like with an absolutely crushing production. There’s some huge riffs in there with perfect skittering drums behind them that would just annihilate your cranium with a more weighty sound; they’re good as it is, I just can’t help but wonder.

Very pleased I heard this, it’s a great debut and I get the inkling their next one will be fucking incredible. Well worth a listen. 


Artist: Garhelenth

Year: 2017

Dropping on 14th December is the second full-length from Armenian true black metal duo Garhelenth, ‘About Pessimistic Elements & Rebirth of Tragedy’. One track is available for free download on Bandcamp now, the irrepressible ‘To Impersonal Mankind’; while another militaristic stomper ‘Self Humiliation’ is available for your consumption on YouTube here. This is exactly what it says on the tin – black metal with no bells or whistles; guitarist/vocalist and main man Hilnorgoth is vehemently against letting anything pollute the essence of his creation. Centred around mid-paced repeating hypnotic riffs and a rotten infectious darkness, this wishes for nothing more than your slow death. Be warned. 


Artist: Hak-Ed Damm

Year: 2017

Hak-Ed Damm Ist Fucking Krieg. Formed in Canada in 2007 these commandos base their attack on the horrors of WW2’s historical fact, and the result is mightily fucking impressive. 

Throughout second full-length ‘Holocaust Over Dresden’ the assault only lets up on the suitably sombre and forlorn ‘Auschwitz-Birkenau’; every single other track is pure war punishment that would give Marduk a run for their money (although they do have a greater grasp of melody than that comparison may suggest). Vocalist Winterthrone‘s shrieks rip through the mix and special mention must be given to Zaïtsev‘s frenzied performance on the fretless bass, easily matching the ferocity dished out by skinsman Silencer and the twin guitar weapons of Exu and Amok.

What’s my favourite track? Couldn’t possibly tell you. They’re all fantastic. Give this a spin next time you feel like some sheer, relentless carnage; you will not regret it.


Artist: Solfernus

Year: 2017

Czech blackthrash war incoming. Solfernus have been unleashing a hate torrent for fifteen years strong, so their assault is honed razor sharp on only the second full-length in their artillery, ‘Neoantichrist’. The four man army counts two members of Root amongst their ranks but take few musical cues from the Czech black metal institution; this has far more thrash pumping through its veins. 

That’s not the only influence however as various other strains of blackness and metal mayhem are stirred through their sonic brew, but regardless, it rules. From the muscular shred-fest of ‘Between Two Deaths’ to the stirring anthemic title track their collective experience shines through, grabbing you by the throat and forcing you to march to the beat of their blasphemic drums as Khaablus spits his vocal venom. They still achieve an admirably shadowed atmosphere (like on the crawling, winding ‘Mistresserpent’) but overall it’s a more direct in-your-face sound that works well. In the mood for something to stir the blood? Check these guys out.


Artist: Tyakrah

Year: 2017

I’ve already mentioned German epic BM duo Tyakrah on these pages; this is only to serve as a reminder to seek out their debut album ‘Wintergedanken’ if you haven’t as yet. Last time I said it was “…a wonderful and chilling ode to the cold season. Solid compositions with some seriously great raw melodic leads, interspersed with moving atmospheric and ambient passages” and my opinion hasn’t changed; this is probably ever-so-slightly more rough than the average Epic BM fan will be used to, but the use of melody and guitar work is far above the average. 

Refreshingly, tracks like ‘Geforne Tränen’ and ‘Fährten im Schnee’ forge a great wintry atmosphere without the use of overdone synths or minutes of drawn-out wind noises throughout, almost solely creating the mood through the guitars, drums and vocals (although there are still the great aforementioned ambient/melodic interludes included). Highly recommended, and keep an eye out for the fantastic ‘Erstarrende Nacht’, it’s an absolute stormer. Can’t wait to see what these guys do next.


And now to Grimm Distribution. Operating out of Belarus since 2011, they also have a multitude of excellent releases with which to pleasure your ear holes; and they get a lot stranger than Satanath. Here’s a few of their black metal offerings.

Artist: Enoid

Year: 2017

Kvlt Swiss misanthropist Enoid released his last album in 2016 on Satanath Records, twenty years after the project’s unholy formation in 1996 when it was originally known as Organ Trails. This year sole member Bornyhake honours the past by re-releasing the first two demos summoned under the name Enoid, ‘Livssyklus & Dodssyklus’, from 2005 and 2006 respectively. 

Now, you may be thinking this is just an exercise in nostalgia. Guess what: you would be wrong, bucko. From what we can hear of the fully remastered material thus far it still sounds absolutely vital and could have easily been released yesterday. The passion inherent within teaser track ‘Edicius’ is palpable as it burns with sinister intent. Excellent grim vocals and an extremely satisfying guitar tone are the icing on the cake as the song slowly unfurls black wings dripping in contempt; the original demos are available on the official Enoid bandcamp here so you can hear both the sound update and venom of the entire source material for yourself. 

Great stuff, the false need not enter here. Pre-orders up now for a December 16th release. Oh and Bornyhake has finally assembled a live band; so the whole, unfettered pestilential darkness of Enoid shall finally descend over the Earth. 


Artist: Evil Nerfal

Year: 2018


So says the descriptor on Columbian melodic orthodox duo Evil Nerfal‘s Facebook page. Which is a fair warning of what you’re in for on ‘En Las Fauces Del Demonio (Taedium Daemoni)’, the teaser track from only their second album in their ten year existence, ‘Bellum Est Pater Omnium’. From the raw militaristic intro to the melodic twists and turns, these demons have never cared what you think and don’t seem keen to start now. A solid track, full of promise and misanthropy. Full album drops January 9th next year.


Artist: Lucifer’s Dungeon

Year: 2017

Menacing tones echoing in cryptal darkness. Faint remnants of screams, the stone floor is wet and slick beneath your feet. The deeper you go, the hotter it gets, your dread increasing with every step. Then before you know it… You’re in Lucifer’s Dungeon.

That’s an apt, if not slightly cheesy decription of the introductory track to ‘The Dark Army Raises’, the debut full-length from impious Russian horde Lucifer’s Dungeon. What lies within the dungeon? Fourteen tracks of raw, mostly mid-paced melodic black metal that’s heavy on the atmosphere, interspersed with some great dark ambient/dungeon synth style interludes. Released back in May and with a gestation period of around nine years (!), it’s an intriguing album with an old-school feel that’s sure to hit the spot with many cult aficionados.

The key here really is the vibe; the chilling air of horror and/or misery in the dark ambient sections is top notch and the black metal elements pleasingly choose to match that instead of breaking out into breakneck blasting; which shows an excellent coherent vision for an album that’s oddly made up of so many small, seperate yet cohesive parts, and works very well in its favour. 

Should you give this a try? Yes. There’s nothing overly technical here, with no blistering speed or lush melodicism; what you do get however is a commendably solid album with a raw charm all it’s own. They also have a new full-length dubbed ‘Antihuman’ coming March 2018 in celebration of their ten year anniversary, so if you dig this, get keen to return for more subterranean delights.


Artist: Freiheit

Year: 2017

Some Russian black/death. Diabolical trio Freiheit (“Freedom”) unleashed their debut full-length ‘Безумие. Ненависть. Смерть’ about six months ago now, and it’s an extraordinarily fun concoction. 

A riff-propelled beast that borrows from many sources; one minute it reminds you of the early days of Finland’s Ajattara and the next it’s bludgeoning your bleeding and broken frame with some pure death metal, then before you know it you’re back banging your head to some black ‘n roll influenced rocking vibe that has you by the balls (or respective sensitive areas). The variety in the virulently violent assault is compelling and engaging, they know how to hold your attention and distill their sound down to its most potent form. 

Despite the myriad of influences apparent in their sound there’s no bullshit here; every note is carefully calculated for maximum power and that’s exactly what is delivered. They also recently played some of their songs at a local children’s orphanage, apparently to great success. Which rules. Lovely fellas that deserve your attention. Total support.


Artist: Cryostasium

Year: 2017

And as we come to the end of this Grimm expedition, one final salvo. US one-man dark ambient BM artist Cody Mallard conjoured his latest EP ‘Starbound’ a month ago; his thirty-third (!) release under the Cryostasium moniker since the project’s birth in 2002. Off the top of my head I don’t believe I’ve heard a single one, and you might not have either. But hey, what better place to start than here?

I can tell you right now I’ll be going back and checking out more of his work, as this surprised me immensely. Oppressive, cold riffs are thrown in a blender and slither askew over psychedelic and dark ambient elements. The vocals vary between the faint demonic howls and haunted synthetic la-la-la’s of a man gone insane, trapped far away in a hell of his own creation. There’s recurrent use of bells which only serves to fuel the odd atmosphere. Occasionally (and fittingly as they did release a split together) the songs hit almost Xasthur-like levels of dysphoria; tracks like ‘Magnetic’ or EP closer ‘Adventurine’ sometimes call to mind what Malefic might have produced if he was rocking knees-up in a corner singing to himself instead of just mentally tortured.

Featuring great Luciana Nedelea artwork that perfectly illustrates the warped, otherworldly sounds within, this may just be my pick of the entire bunch. Quality stuff, I can’t wait to head back over the rest of his discography; and it’s a fitting end to this spotlight. Hails.


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Fólkvangr Records Pagan Black Metal Mini-Spotlight

Fólkvangr Records, for the uninitiated, is a US based mainly-cassette label that’s been putting out nothing but top quality releases throughout their relatively short life thus far. If you don’t know, then get to know because since the label’s inception around a year ago their carefully curated roster has included such killer and diverse artists as Sojourner, Chiral, Enisum, Violet Cold, Chaos Moon, Suicide Forest, Sovereign… The list goes on. The two newest artists to score a gorgeous cassette release are longtime UK blackened Anglo-Saxon/pagan metallers Forefather and Spanish pagan black metal horde Lóstregos; a pair that complement each other quite well. I listened to a lot of  blackened and not-so-blackened pagan/folk many years ago, less so these days but when these two releases landed in my inbox I jumped at the chance to take a look. So, check out the rest of the Fólkvangr stable here and read on below as we take a deeper dive and preview both forthcoming slices of heathen glory.


Artist: Forefather

Year: 2017

UK duo Forefather have been storming yonder shores since 1997 and the brothers Wulfstan and Athelstan prefer to be known as ‘Anglo-Saxon Metal’ over anything else. If you believe Encyclopedia Metallum they’re apparently loathe to be labelled Black Metal these days, and while their sound does retain many blackened elements they’ve indeed strayed away from the frantic tremolo-blasting assault prevalent in days of yore and let the folky/traditional heavy elements run free. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind. Drenched in heritage, ‘Tales From A Cloud Born Land’ is their side of a split with Meads of Asphodel called ‘English Steel’ that was released a few months back. Now on its own the material is given its chance to really shine… And this glistens like moonlight off a broadsword dripping with the blood of slain enemies. Triumphant, and ‘metal’ as fuck. 

The campaign kicks off with a short instrumental piece, a stirring riff that foreshadows the journey to come before the great ‘Two Sacred Oaks’ commences the galloping ride into battle with epic choruses that will make you raise that blade high. But as good as this track is what comes next blows it out of the water; third track ‘One Blood One Bone’ is simply superb. This thing is possessed of an irresistible groove with Athelstan’s ripping leads flying all over the place and catchy vocal phrasing that weaves into and around the perfect interplay between the drums and guitar. I say perfect because I dig it when the percussion does exactly what the song needs and nothing more, providing a solid base for the guitar work and glorious melodies to shine, and the intuition here is impeccable. Exhilarating stuff, the undeniable high point of the release for me. 

Although in my opinion/dubious personal taste the EP peaks early, it’s not a downhill spiral from here by any means. ‘Strongbow’s Death’ slows it down for a swaying midpoint rest-stop before the fight begins anew with ‘In Victory We Feast’; the only track on the EP to utilise blasts and the one that most harks back to their earlier material, although soaring clean vocals are draped elegantly over the top. Keys are tastefully implemented too and sit just right in the mix serving to subtly accentuate rather than overpower. 

The last two pieces have almost zero vestiges of anything even remotely resembling black metal, but if you have a wide genre scope of music consumption then kudos to you, and read on. Whereas the last track had some of the more furious sections of the EP, ‘Out of Time’ goes in totally other direction with a soaring, saccharine ballad. Never thought I’d be covering a ballad in these pages, but here we are and it works. Final track ‘Daughter of Twilight’ is where the keys finally get their moment in the sun; a simple rolling instrumental to close out proceedings.

Steeped in history and reverence, the brothers have effortlessly crafted yet another outstanding ode to the myths and legends of old England. Even if at first glance you think it won’t be for you check it out anyway, you may be pleasantly surprised and it’s worth the price of admission for ‘One Blood One Bone’ alone. Onward to glory!

Support: Pick up a digital download from their own Bandcamp here, or pre-order a smoke-tinted transparent cassette with hand-numbered three panel sleeve from Fólkvangr Records at the link below. Limited to 100, so don’t miss out. Releases in a week on October 27th.


Artist: Lóstregos

Year: 2017

Next up, Spanish four piece Lóstregos bring us back into altogether darker territory with their debut full-length ‘Lendas Baixo o Luar’ (“Legends Low On Moonlight”). This was my first time experiencing their brand of pagan fury; I missed their first EP last year, but on the strength of this I’ll be treating my ears to that very soon. With a wonderfully organic sound more rooted in Black Metal than Forefather’s release Lóstregos tell tales of woe and wonder via lengthy, continuously unfolding compositions that are a sheer delight to behold. 

Straight from the get-go you can’t help but be struck by the integrity of the music and sound. Introductory piece ‘Pasaxe de Lenda a Mitro’ is an earthy acoustic track with traditional sounding female vocals; it’s raw and honest, like you’re sitting at a somber campfire. The feeling is totally and immediately immersive, and carries on effortlessly throughout the four tracks to follow. 

Now, I could write a play-by-play on each of them, but the progressive nature of these compositions means every one is a journey in itself and jam-packed with moments that make you sit up and take notice. Take for example the killer midway solo in ‘Tebras da Montaña’ that eventually leads into the emotive final section, which then becomes the rollicking and riotous cello infused opening of ‘Gallaecia’. In fact, the solos scattered throughout are a real feature that frequently drop in at the perfect moment to artfully change the tone and atmosphere of a track on a dime. 

The versatility and energy in this release is incredibly enjoyable. One minute it’s thrilling unbridled fury and the next pulsing with a deep melodious emotion. Some passages absolutely shred and some will have you out of your seat screaming along with lyrics that you can’t understand, but the language barrier doesn’t even matter. The dual vocals from L.B and I.V are also great with their impassioned rasps and howls taking everything to a new level; while the whole thing culminates in the final twelve minute ride of ‘Onde Reverdece a Santa Praga’, reaching stratospheric heights before settling back at the fire again for an acoustic introspective fade to black. 

Raw, honest, thrilling and immediate; a compellingly triumphant debut album. If it sounds like I’m just hyping this release for the sake of it, I’m not. I’ve been flogging this for a couple of weeks, I really dig it, and the fact that it’ll probably fly under the radar of many people who would enjoy it is borderline criminal. If you’re in any way into folk or pagan black you’d do much worse than to suss this out. Hails Lóstregos.

Support: Pre-order your copy of ‘Lendas Baixo o Luar’ on foil lined transparent cassette with hand-numbered three panel sleeve from Fólkvangr Records at the link belowalso limited to 100 copies, so jump on this while you still can. Visit their own Bandcamp here, or pick up a special limited edition CD from Darkwoods here / Damnatio Ad Bestias here. Full unleashing on November 1st.


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